Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Menu With Perfume at Its Core

From left, Chandler Burr, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gregory Brainin smelled over 26 composite scents for inspiration — then planned a five-course menu to recreate each of the odors. Credit Amy Lombard

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten put another perfume blotter to his discerning nostrils — the eighth of 26 he would sniff on a recent afternoon. His eyes rolled up in concentration, looking beyond the dining room ceiling of his flagship restaurant. What was his encyclopedic mind of flavors seeing? “Berries,” he guessed tentatively.
As sommeliers will say of tasting wines, scent experts advise that there is no right or wrong answer to what one smells in a perfume. Each nose will pick up on something meaningful from the constellation of molecules that make up a fragrance. So Chandler Burr, the former New York Times scent critic and author of two books on the topic, mostly refrained from correcting the great chef on the rare occasions when his guesses did not line up with what was on the bottles’ labels.

Samples of scent industry materials and perfumes peppered the table. Coffee beans and grinds cleansed the palates, though a traditional method — putting the nose to wool or one’s own skin — was more effective. Credit Amy Lombard

“No,” Burr said apologetically, having been moved in this instance to state his opinion. “It’s a synthetic called ambrettolide. It’s supposed to smell like warm sun on clean skin.”
The reason for the marathon sniffing session is a five-course dinner Vongerichten and his director of creative development, Gregory Brainin, were asked to create. Each dish would be inspired by some of the hundreds of composite raw materials that make up Thierry Mugler’s Alien line of perfumes. Usually experienced as a whole, in a puff from an atomizer, the idea of this dinner was to examine the individual odors used to create the final product.
As the two chefs smelled the 26 fragrance-industry flavors — some, distilled essences of things like cardamom and mandarin, others, lab-made scents — they called out guesses of wet wood, scorched citrus and pink peppercorn. After the session, they retreated to the kitchen with their notes to draw up their recipes.

Brainin smells a seared scallop, which sits in a broth he made by reducing pink Bubble Tape gum to match a synthetic scent called coumarin. Credit Amy Lombard

Burr, Vongerichten and Brainin regrouped the following week to preview the dishes. For a synthetic scent called coumarin used in Alien Eau de Parfum, the chefs reduced a roll of pink Bubble Tape gum into a delicate broth to serve with a seared scallop. Salmon, they encrusted with hot buttered popcorn and served with a jasmine-tea reduction as a representation of another synthetic called mandarin aldehyde and the essence of Moroccan jasmine in Alien Eau de Toilette. And though Alien Oud Majestueux contains substances with names like ethyl caproate and benzaldehyde you’d never guess, because Vongerichten’s dessert was a subtly sweet combination of mango compote and almond pudding.
Burr had some suggestions for the chef: Ditch the lavender on the salmon and amp up the butterscotch they had glazed onto a daikon radish. But mostly he was stunned. “He’s inventive,” he said. “He’s technically spectacular. He’s someone who is paying attention to every single detail.” That’s why he called upon Vongerichten, he said — someone who could distinguish the scent of Buddha’s hand from bergamot, discern a dark rum from light and identify the odor of saffron blind.

Clockwise from top left: lobster with a daikon radish imbued with the butterscotch flavors of dark, aged rum; veal with bergamot in three forms; dessert; though mandarin aldehyde sounds like it would smell singularly of citrus, Vongerichten and Brainin picked up toasty notes of buttered popcorn, which they used to crust wild salmon. Credit Amy Lombard

At the official dinner, held last Thursday, at Perry Street, whispers filled the room each time Burr passed out blotters dipped in a new scent. Diners smelled vitamins, chest hair and doughnut peaches in the various odors, then enjoyed Vongerichten’s corresponding courses.
When a man-made potion called Damascenone went around, and one guest called out, “Green apple!” Burr dropped his neutral stance: “Are you insane?” he exclaimed. “This is absolutely red apple.” Perhaps scent is not so subjective after all.

How much should we kick folks after they die?

A MINOR media kerfuffle followed the recent passing of the Eagles guitarist, songwriter and co-founder Glenn Frey.
Amid the admiring assessments and farewells, Gersh Kuntzman declared in a column in The Daily News, “No disrespect to Glenn Frey — whose death this week is a cause for genuine mourning — but the Eagles were, quite simply, the worst rock and roll band.” Mr. Kuntzman proceeded to score Mr. Frey and company as too mainstream, too soft, too generic.
The backlash was immediate. A day later, Mr. Kuntzman reported receiving an “avalanche of hate mail” and even calls for his own death.
This took place atop the dissing of another acclaimed and departed musician. Even as David Bowie’s life and work were being celebrated, a friend of mine noted online that some Facebook acquaintances felt obliged to say in effect, “I never cared/listened/understood the attraction.”
Is it O.K. to publicly dump on the newly deceased — or for that matter, to offer them not-quite-heartfelt praise? It’s a tough call. No one likes a hypocrite. Just the same, there is surely a time and a place for everything.
The journalist and cultural critic H. L. Mencken had no doubts. When William Jennings Bryan died in 1925, he denounced the muddle-headed three-time presidential candidate and notorious opponent of evolution as “a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without sense or dignity.” He added: “He was a peasant come home to the barnyard. Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not.”
Today, plenty of naysayers are aping Mencken.
In an elephantine piece for Salon in 2011 on the “protocol for public figure deaths,” the journalist Glenn Greenwald scoffed at the effusive coverage years before of Tim Russert, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” and of Ronald Reagan. Dismissing the former as “awful” and “power-worshipping,” Mr. Greenwald complained, “We were all supposed to pretend we had lost some Great Journalist.” The latter’s post-mortem “canonization,” he charged, virtually ignored the Iran-contra scandal, exorbitant military spending, indifference to AIDS, vast income disparities, implicit racism and the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork — all in a sentence of about 160 words.
The proximate peg for this invective, incidentally, was the expiration of Christopher Hitchens. Rejecting the “remarkably undiluted, intense praise lavished on him by media discussions,” Mr. Greenwald exhaustively savaged Mr. Hitchens for his “repellent” advocacy of the war on terror.
Mr. Hitchens most likely would have loved it. In 1997, baffled by the worldwide grief over Princess Diana’s fatal car accident, he ripped into her as “a spoiled child bride, a sulky wife, a narcissist, a borderline airhead with zero interest in books, history or tradition.” After the Rev. Jerry Falwell departed, he said, “I think it a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.”
The Internet age and postmodern decorum being what they are, kicking at folks when they’re permanently down will surely continue. Myself, having written hundreds of obituaries in my career, I tend to tilt toward balance and qualification — as called for, that is.
Of course, much depends on the personality. “When it comes to private individuals,” Mr. Greenwald suggested in Salon, “it’s entirely appropriate to emphasize the positives of someone’s life and avoid criticisms.” By contrast, he felt this tone “completely inapplicable to the death of a public person.”
But who’s to say where private ends and public begins? And how much posthumous opprobrium should be shoveled without tossing a posy or two, if only for decency’s sake? Even the crusty Mr. Hitchens allowed that Princess Diana opposed anti-personnel land mines, enjoyed children, was kind to an AIDS-stricken friend of his, disdained excessive ceremony and “was quite nice-looking.”
Perhaps the best tactic in these cases is to keep mum. Silence, after all, can speak volumes. When Senator Joseph R. McCarthy died in 1957, this newspaper’s publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, told his editorial page editor, Charles Merz, “I don’t think we need an editorial on this.”
Mr. Merz agreed. “Why dignify the bastard,” he said, “let him pass from the scene without more attention.”
Or, if you feel the need to speak out about a contentious individual, consider this advice from Dean Acheson, the secretary of state in the Truman administration. Asked to comment about McCarthy, he replied, “Of the dead, nothing unless good.” (Although he said it in Latin: “De mortuis nil nisi bonum.”)
Assuming that truth will ultimately prevail, it probably can’t hurt to pause before speaking too ill or too well of certain dead, lest we embarrass ourselves. As my friend put it, “Hey, it’s O.K. to not like the Eagles. It’s also O.K. to shut up about it for a few days when one of them dies.”

car toons

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nuns Gone Wild: Vintage photos of sisters letting their habits down

Nuns Gone Wild: Vintage photos of sisters letting their habits down

02:32 pm



Nuns Gone Wild: Vintage photos of sisters letting their habits down
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I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Sadly, not once did I ever catch one of the nuns who taught at my school behaving “badly” or “out of character” for someone married to Christ, but boy do I wish I would have. These nuns gave detention left and right for the dumbest, most innocuous shit ever (like my socks being the wrong shade of blue or my skirt being 1/4 of an inch too short). The nuns had it out for my ass. I was convinced they were evil robots not nice ladies doing the Lord’s bidding.
Nuns still make me nervous to this very day…
So to my surprise, I found these vintage photos of nuns “letting their habits down” and even a few of them being slightly naughty a turning point in my appreciation for nuns: Apparently they’re not ruler-slapping robots after all. I could hang with some of these nuns!

Posted by Tara McGinley

The Pink Palace: Jayne Mansfield’s mansion makes Barbie’s Dream House look austere

The Pink Palace: Jayne Mansfield’s mansion makes Barbie’s Dream House look austere

02:03 pm


Jayne Mansfield
The Pink Palace: Jayne Mansfield’s mansion makes Barbie’s Dream House look austere

Mansfield in her pool, surrounded by one of the odder experiments in early celebrity merchandising, hot water bottles made in her likeness

In addition to her rubber-necking beauty, Jayne Mansfield was known for a lot of things. There’s the famous side-eye from Sophia Loren, though that’s obviously nowhere near the most exposure her breasts received (Hugh Hefner was arrested for publishing her nudes). The gory details of her death are also the subject of much obsession—while she was not decapitated as is often rumored, the car wreck that took her life was horribly grisly. And she was romantically attached to a string of powerful and famous men, including Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, and Anton LaVey (which lead to wild stories about her death as the result of occult activities).
I prefer to think of Mansfield as a delightful eccentric, with a warmth and charisma that bubbled rather than smoldered—sort of a free-spirited bombshell with a girl-next-door sweetness. Nothing quite so beautifully encapsulates her explosive personality like these photos of her Los Angeles home, which she named, “The Pink Palace.” Mansfield purchased the 40-room Mediterranean-style mansion in 1957 and immediately began renovating. She didn’t stop at painting the exterior pink—think of an entire bathroom furnished in pink shag carpet, walls and all. As clever as she was lovely, she wrote to furniture and building suppliers requesting samples for her new home; those “samples” totaled over $150,000 ($1,246,742 in 2014 dollars). The house itself cost only $76,000 ($631,682 in 2014 dollars).
At the end, you can see video of Mansfield’s second husband, former Mr. Universe Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay, showing off his line of freeweights, poolside. Jayne also does a little demo of her own exercise routine, choosing not to remove her high heels—the camera quickly switches angles to shoot her from below in an obvious cinematic ogle.







Via Messy Nessy Chic
Posted by Amber Frost

Top art dealer David Zwirner looking to open gallery in Hong Kong

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Top art dealer David Zwirner looking to open gallery in Hong Kong

Zwirner, named third most influential in contemporary art world, with galleries in New York and London and representing artists such as Jeff Koons, sees city as ideal place for his first gallery in Asia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 2016, 1:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 2016, 4:59pm

David Zwirner, one of the most powerful art dealers in the world, is looking for a place in Hong Kong to open his first Asia gallery.
“A couple of years ago, we thought we would just come to the art fair. Now, I’m convinced we need a gallery here,” said the founder of the eponymous New York and London gallery during a whirlwind visit to meet local clients.
David Zwirner. Photo: Dirk Eusterbrock Christopher D’Amelio, senior partner in the gallery, said it wanted to have a permanent presence in Hong Kong “as soon as possible” after witnessing a steady growth in its Asian business.
To cultivate awareness of the 51 artists it represents, and demand for their works, the David Zwirner Galllery wants to be able to put on exhibitions in Hong Kong and engage in dialogue with Asian clients outside of the art fairs. Massimo De Carlo, the Milan and London gallery, also announced recently that it will open a third branch in Pedder Building, Central, in a space previously occupied by Ben Brown Fine Art, which has decided to downsize. MDC will launch with a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Yan Pei-ming on March 21, during Art Basel week.
The arrival of Zwirner, named the third most influential person in the contemporary art world by ArtReview magazine, would be a big vote of confidence in the long-term prospects of the Hong Kong art market amid economic uncertainty and growing competition from other cities in the region. Among the artists he represents are Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Richard Serra.
The years 2011 and 2012 saw a flurry of major international galleries, such as Gagosian Gallery and White Cube, open in Hong Kong after auction sales in the city doubled from 2009 to 2010. But there have been few additions since Pace Gallery opened in 2014.
One reason is the dearth of good gallery space, especially compared with what Zwirner is used to. In New York, for example, he had a new, five-storey building with 30,000 square feet of floor space put up in 20th Street three years ago so that he could put on museum-quality shows.
Interior view of David Zwirner’s new building, at 537 West 20th Street, New York. Photo: Jason Schmidt/David Zwirner “We are spoilt. We have large galleries that in some instances we’ve built from the ground up. What I’d like to have is a space that inspires artists. But that is difficult in Hong Kong, so we might start with something modest,” Zwirner said.
He said he had yet to find a suitable space and was prepared to wait for Hong Kong’s retail rents to fall further.
It is only because Hong Kong is by far the easiest place to trade that he would put up with the high cost of opening a gallery in the city and the space restrictions. The gallery believes it can find much better properties in Beijing and Shanghai, with the latter becoming more attractive in recent years because of the proliferation of private museums and the establishment in 2013 of a tax-free zone. But opening a branch in China is less urgent than setting up shop in Hong Kong.
“For now, both us and our clients find it much easier to transact in Hong Kong than in mainland China. But for us, I know we’d like the sort of space that we can find in the mainland,” said Zwirner.
Singapore, another Asian city where there’s been a proliferation of art market activities, is not yet on Zwirner’s radar. “It’s a perfectly interesting market but to us, it’s a secondary market,” he said.
Visitors walk around Colombian artist Oscar Murillo's 2014 exhibition A Mercantile Novel, in which the artist turned an art gallery into a fully operational candy-making factory line from Colombia's candy manufacturer Colombina, at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Photo: AFP The art market veteran predicts 2016 will be “complicated”.
“America has an election – that’s not good, there’s instability there. The auction houses are very weak right now. Chinese economy is decelerating. All kinds of external pointers suggest we will have a rougher year,” he said.
This was a good time for the art market to focus on quality again, he said. “One problem in the art market is too much art that maybe is not of the greatest quality, but fetches too high a price,” Zwirner said.
Artists who had relied on the support of auction results alone would see their works become less popular compared with those who had “real careers”, he said. “If you get a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York or the Tate Gallery in London, and they acquire your work, then one can assume that your career is real. That’s an objective criteria,” he said.
Another view of the interior of David Zwirner’s building in West 20th Street, New York. Photo: Jason Schmidt/David ZwirnerAs an example, he cited Ai Weiwei as an artist who has a “real” career. “He really hit international fame as a dissident. When he was put into prison he became a worldwide celebrity and then people discovered his art. Be that as it may. He is widely collected by major museums and he just had a major show at the Royal Academy. I think it’s a healthy career,” he said.
Zwirner will bring a wide selection of works by their artists to this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong. The gallery is presenting a group of artworks by Isa Genzken, a major name in Germany, in the “Encounter” section of the art fair. The works are free-standing sculptures she made in 2015 for her Schauspieler (Actors) series.
The gallery’s booth will feature, among others, new works by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, who will also visit Hong Kong during the fair.
Zwirner and MDC’s confidence in the Asian market is in contrast to Ben Brown’s decision to reduce its footprint in Pedder Building, the colonial landmark which only became a popular address for galleries after Brown’s arrival in 2007.
Amanda Hon, the gallery’s new managing director, said the decision to give up some of the space to MDC was made in the face of a slowdown in the Chinese economy, as well as the growing importance of art fairs. “We do eight fairs a year and the right audience tend to go to the fairs more than to galleries. We still have a major space in London and we thought we didn’t need such a big space here, which came with huge overheads,” she said. A New York native who speaks Cantonese, Hon was recruited by Brown to look after the Asian business as well as help the gallery expand in North America as the market turned more bearish in China and Europe, she added.