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Gotta thirst at the end of a day? Well, there is no shortage of colourful, solutions to be concocted–by you yourself or by a licensed professional (image from here). Cocktails are back. Lucky us.
The mixed drink for adults that goes beyond the quick and simple rye and ginger, rum and coke, scotch and water, tequila and tequila is very much in favour just now and shows no sign of retreating any time soon.
Funny how things come and go. Not so long ago, the thing to do was to keep everything simple, including your brain buzzing beverage of choice. Open the bottle, pour a healthy slug, add something a child might drink, and repeat as necessary–or just make a giant jugful.
But now, it’s all about multiple ingredients, hard to find, mixed in just the right proportion, requiring some care and skill, served in a special glass, beautiful to look at.
They say the cocktail craze started way back before we let television in the house. Almost a hundred years ago, people of means and money looking to fill the void between the afternoon nap and dinner decided the thing to do was to have friends over for drinks, real drinks, stiff drinks crafted with expertise made from hard-to-get components, just like their hats and furniture.
Great design above by Beverley Nichols found here.
Those who looked into it seriously say the cocktail hour was born sometime between 1917 and 1924, somewhere between London and America, moving inevitably from houses to bars, cafes, nightclubs, fund raisers…
The bunch above are slurping their cocktails during prohibition in America, meaning you needed a password to get in and you had to lie to your mom when you got home. From this article.
This crowd is on the town Berlin at a time when, it seems, nothing was prohibited (and just before just about everything was prohibited).
Wherever you are, the cocktail seems to be best consumed in the presence of someone you think is swell.
Or at least someone you used to think was swell. This is a fine photo by Irving Penn was taken in Lima and found at this eye-opening site.
Then again, some gals just like to put on their best cocktail hat and go it alone.
OK, so back to the here and the now. Below is the bar at the Brasserie NYC in the one and only Seagram’s building where, we can tell you, you will not go wrong in acquiring a satisfying cocktail, New York style: big, quick, yummy, and served by someone who won’t make you feel like you don’t deserve this.
If you find yourself near NYC or just thinking it, it would be a fine occasion to have a Manhattan cocktail.
Wherever you are, spare an hour late in a day to seek out seat at the bar somewhere in your town. Give the bartender a chance to try something new on you–or challenge him/her with something little known.
At the r of l, our official cocktail is the negroni.
Why? it tastes really good in any season and any time of day, it only has 3 ingredients, and it goes very well with any activity, whether you are being quiet and reflective (wondering where you put that note reminding you to do something) or hosting a gathering of 20 friends and neighbours in celebration of the fact that you have 20 friends and neighbours. (Image above, History, and more from Swide)
Find your cocktail, find your reason to sip it.
If you write, you know him and you owe him something. If you don’t, you surely know his face. Above photo by Dmitri Kasterine
Beckett reduced language to its bones while charging those bones with an intensity that carves deep lines in the head and heart. Silence. Waiting. This is how we spend most of our lives, but no one had the audacity and wisdom to try an make literature from them. Until Beckett.
His plays are what brought his name to the world.
Two photos above by John Haynes
They gave him the Nobel Prize. He did not refuse the honour, but declined to make a speech and did not attend the medal ceremony. Photographed by Richard Avedon.
Samuel Beckett, born in Dublin, lived and died in Paris. Photo found here.
Along with the gift of his genius for understanding us and putting it into words, there is that unforgettable face–and head. Photo found here
His only rival, we think, as a writer of influence and a face of riveting attraction was this other famous resident of Paris:
Simone de Beauvoir, philosopher, writer, provocateur,and arguably, one of the primary creators of what we call feminism.
Her most influential book, the Second Sex, caused a sensation. The Vatican disapproved harshly, all the more since Mlle De Beauvoir was born into a Catholic family in the French countryside.
Her series of memoirs, especially the first (Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter) are as full of humanity as they are philosophy.
Like Beckett, her life and her writing changed things for us and the influence continues.
When we see these photographs now, we can’t help but recognize the unique, intense intelligence in these faces. It’s there around the eyes and the mouth. How could these heads not produce world-changing thoughts?
All of us are born with more than enough imagination. It is not exclusive to people who go on to write novels, paint pictures, make movies, design buildings, or start a fashion label. Just look at any child under 10–look at what they are doing.
Middle photo, children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909 b7 “F Carpenter”. Top photo and lower one, kids on the street in New York, by Helen Levitt. Lots more here.
But if you ask people over 20 about their imagination and how they use it, you’ll find them frowning while they try to come up with something that won’t sound stupid.
It seems that once we get it into our heads that we are grown ups, most of us abandon the inventive use of our imagination and only call on it when hankering for something we don’t have: a tropical vacation, possession of a winning lottery ticket, a cigarette, a cheesecake, a white Christmas, dream girl/guy.
Fine, but isn’t there something a bit more useful you could do with this amazing tool that takes you beyond the here and now and the run of the mill?
It doesn’t have to be the invention of an alternate reality or a re-imagining of the modern metropolis. It could be your choice of an outfit for a walk downtown.
Like this inventive and still playful woman. The Japanese, bless their hearts, take their imaginations to the streets as a matter of course.
And they are not alone.
Above The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas of NYC, photo by NPR found here
More than anyone (as we at the RofL noted before) we have the amazing Bill Cunningham to thank for finding and photographing people who set their own standard every day in New York.
These are people who wouldn’t be caught dead in some other persons clothes. Above from here
But, hey, public displays of originality aren’t for everyone, of course. And plain clothes have been the choice of some of the most imaginative humans who ever lived.
Mr Einstein at the beach, almost blending in, seen here
The point is: somewhere in all our lives there is an opportunity to do what feels right to us and what we strongly suspect is not what most people are going to do.
Don’t we have some sort of responsibility to do something, sometime, that is all our own, a demonstration of our DNA writ large?
All we need is the courage to let loose our imagination, our playful side, and put it out there.
Start small, start with lunch. This is a sandwich, a baby grandwich. Bravo, and bon appetite. After lunch, maybe go outside and paint the house, pushing yourself beyond taupe with charcoal trim.
Nice building, personalized, and you won’t have any trouble finding it again. It was given a lick of paint by Stanley Donwood, pen name of an artist and is the London office of XL Recordings. More here
Tired of hauling a spruce into the house or the landlord just won’t let you?
We all have an oceanful of ideas–some bright, some wacky, some spooky, some great–floating around in our heads. Giving ourselves permission to dip into that ocean a bit more often would make the world a bit more interesting, don’t you think?
Paris, the 1920’s, letting it loose, 24/7. Photo from here
Happy New Year. Go play
Clowns tell us a lot about ourselves and our lives. The best of them reveal some sadness or strangeness or both while doing their best to amuse us. The overall message is: you might as well laugh because, well, life isn’t always a piece of cake, sometimes it’s a pie in the face.
Clown figurines of tin or ceramic seem to carry an extra layer of sadness and oddness after a few years. Maybe there is a contradiction between what we see now and the smiles the little joker was meant to induce. Crawling clown toy, 1900, from here
But for all the contradictions, we can’t stop smiling at this little gang of kidders.
According to Tracey’s Toys:
“The Rolly Dollys first appeared in 1902 and were produced through the 1920s in over 70 different styles. Some were based on advertising or cartoon characters like Buster Brown and Foxy Grandpa, while others represented children, clowns, police officers, and more.”
Is this him?
All in all, the clown whether he is a comic actor, a circus performer, a tin toy, or cookie jar (above) has a long history and a continuing important function in human society. Is there sadness underneath it all? Is there misery and madness?
Well…maybe. But we all have a choice to see the soda spray bottle half empty or half full. Is the whoopee cushion a cry for help? Or just a perennial boyish prank. We come down on the side of mirth. Release the clowns!!!
Play on fellas. Do you know “My Funny Valentine?”
Everyone should live alone–at least for a while, we think. It teaches you how to take care of yourself and your cave. It will make you a better roommate when the time comes. If you make the choice–or it is made for you–to live on your own, you mostly have to make do with a place designed for two or three or seven. Unless you get lucky.
A few designers have, luckily, turned their heads to solo living. Above dwelling (“close to transportation”), is in Tokyo (of course) and is a solo abode designed for a 60-year-old woman above a tobacconist shop. Architects : Hideshi Abe / Avehideshi Architect and Associates. Photos by Hiroki Kawata. Viewed at dezeen here
The cost of land being what it is, the building has a small foot and lots of stairs to climb–beautiful stairs in this case, so take your time.
This drawing shows where the living quarters (or eighths) are, but how the solo householder has arranged it all is her secret.
Nor is this little lady telling us how she arranges her life and her bonnets inside this tiny red place. Chances are it’s either neat as a pin or a spectacular mess.
If you want some space around your home alone, here’s a nice little cube among the trees and rocks to call your own.
This is a tiny onesy tucked right into the woodsy countryside for the winter. Fits right in (“Maybe I should have the Birches over for hot chocolate”). Seen here.
Back to the future, this prototype for one is designed to supply food, energy, heat and oxygen to its occupant. Its maker calls it Oogst 1 Solo. Sadly for us, no mention of it providing wine and potato chips. Seen at polychroniadis on tumbler.
This is Piiri house, mostly wood, just for one, good for thinking about where you are and where you aren’t.
And if you aren’t yet sure where you want to live, consider the mobile option. This one in Lego colours folds up into a trailer and folds out into different rooms. More here
Mmmm. Designed for one, maybe but surely occasional sleepovers are allowed. APH80 tiny home designed by the Spanish design team at Abaton,
Once you start looking, it turns out there are more people than we thought, professional designers and just plain soloists, who have considered the uni-dwelling:
Blob VB3, Designed by Belgian architectural firm, dmvA above.
A bit of a cliffhanger, by Front Architect