P O RT
the new york issue
biannual spring / summer 2017
“The painted world is a place where you can reside
outside of the world of everything else.
In there, there’s a great freedom”
julian schnabel / peter westbrook / joyce carol oates / richard meier / fishing in new york eva bambina / jonathan lethem / nzingha prescod / ss17 collections / the magic shop
THE NEW YORK ISSUE
B AT H
N o. 1 S AV I L E R O W
12144 NYLON METAL OVER SHIRT IN NYLON METAL. THE TRILOBATE STRUCTURE OF THE NYLON YARN, WITH ITS GREY WEFT AND WHITE READY TO DYE WARP COLOURS, IS THE GROUNDS OF THE DISTINCTIVE METALLIC AND TONIC SHEEN OF NYLON METAL, ONE OF THE MOST VERSATILE FABRICS BORN OF STONE ISLAND TEXTILE RESEARCH. THE FINISHED PIECE UNDERGOES AN ELABORATE DOUBLE DYE PROCEDURE PROVIDING DIFFERENT TONES, INTENSITIES AND COLOURS TO THE FIBRES AND TEXTILE ACCESSORIES OF THE GARMENT. FLAT HAND POCKETS WITH SNAP FASTENER. VERTICAL ENTRY POCKETS WITH ZIP ON NYLON TAPE ALONG CENTRE FRONT CLOSURE. BUTTONS AT CUFFS. ZIP FASTENING ON NYLON TAPE.
42950 DAVID-TC WITH DUST COLOUR TREATMENT JACKET IN DAVID-TC. BEGINNING WITH A JAPANESE STAR-SHAPED CROSS-SECTION POLYESTER/ POLYAMIDE SUBSTRATE, GARMENTS IN DAVID-TC ARE SEWN AND THEN SIMULTANEOUSLY GARMENT DYED AND TREATED WITH AN ANTI-DROP AGENT. DURING THE GARMENT’S PRESSURE DYEING AT 130° C, THE HEAT RADICALLY TRANSFORMS THE STRUCTURE AND HAND OF THE MATERIAL. SUCCESSIVE DUST COLOUR TREATMENT DEPOSITS FURTHER UNIQUE AND UNREPEATABLE COLOUR SHADINGS ON THE SURFACE OF THE GARMENT FOR A THREE-DIMENSIONAL EFFECT. BAND COLLAR WITH SNAP FASTENER. TWO POCKETS ON FRONT. ONE SMALL POCKET AND ONE POCKET WITH SIDE ZIP FASTENING ON CHEST. SNAP-FASTENED CUFFS. BUTTON FASTENING.
FLAGSHIP STORE: 79 BREWER STREET_LONDON_W1F 9ZN
55 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX | 24 Brook Street, London, W1K 5DG
D E S I G N P O R T R A I T.
Charles, seat system designed by Antonio Citterio. www.bebitalia.com B&B Italia Store London, SW3 2AS - 250 Brompton Road - T. +44 020 7591 8111 - email@example.com UK Agent: Ben Ritson - T. +44 793 1556345 â€“ firstname.lastname@example.org Milan Design Week: April 4th/9th 2017 - B&B Italia Store Via Durini, 14 - Milano
Plumy sofa. Design: Annie HiĂŠronimus. www.ligne-roset.com
30 contributors: The lovely people who helped make the issue 32 out-take: Introducing Julian Schnabel 34 editor’s letter
37 – 59 porter: From New York rats to Bruce Pask; The Magic Shop to Giorgio Moroder and Matchbook time warp. Let the Porter guide you
60 – 61 Radical Fragrance Words Kin Woo Photography Giles Revell
62 – 79 CITY FOLK Photography Linda Brownlee Styling Alex Petsetakis
100 – 137 New york ARCHITECTURE Words George Kafka, Will Wiles Photography Robin Broadbent
80 – 99 JULIAN SCHNABEL Words Kyle Chayka Photography Michael Avedon Styling Dan May
138 – 145 ADAM GOPNIK Words Colin Stokes Photography Brigitte Lacombe
147 – 155 commentary Words Don Morrison Michael Musto, Richard Sandler Daniel Slotnik, Alex Vadukul Illustration Eric Chow Photography Benjamin Norman
Cover: Julian Schnabel by Michael Avedon. Julian wears hooded tracksuit jacket GUCCI 22
156 – 165 richard meier Words Will Wiles Photography Joss McKinley
166 – 185 the spring summer collections Photography Yann Faucher Styling Scott Stephenson
186 – 191 we two boys Photography Paul Rousteau Styling Alex Petsetakis
192 – 195 Chamber of Companionship Words Alice Twemlow Photography Paul Barbera
196 – 201 watch this space Words Alex Doak Photography Giles Revell
202 – 207 José Parlá Words Kyle Chayka Photography Mark Mahaney Styling Yety Akinola
208 – 211 The Jewel and the Crown Words Kyle Chayka Photography Michael Bodiam Set Design Annette Masterman
212 – 223 flight of fancy Photography Joss McKinley Styling Alex Petsetakis Prop Stylist Noemi Bonazzi
224 – 237 sabre & foil Words Sam Knight Photography Blair Getz Mezibov Styling Dan May Infographic Maria Nakhmanovich
238 – 239 stockistS
240 likes / dislikes Jonathan Lethem
Online store www.richardjames.co.uk Shop +44 (0)207 434 0605 Bespoke +44 (0)207 287 9645
editor-in-chief Dan Crowe creative director Kuchar Swara editor (print & digital) Ray Murphy fashion director Dan May senior fashion editor Alex Petsetakis fashion features editor David Hellqvist art editor Ling Ko design editor Will Wiles sub editor Kerry Crowe production & special projects director Emma Viner-Costa contributing fashion editor Scott Stephenson europe editor Donald Morrison us editor Alex Vadukul australia editor James W Mataitis Bailey interiors editors Huw Griffith, Tobias Alexander Harvey editorial assistant Caolan Blaney, Bianca Forte Design assistant Maria Nakhmanovich advertising assistant Amrei Ram words Christina Aucello, Stephen Bayley, Caolan Blaney, Felix Bischof Alessandro Borgognone, Brin-Jonathan Butler, Sylvia Casquete Kyle Chayka, Dal Chodha, Sylvia Casquete Dimopoulos, Alex Doak Geoff Dyer, Aaron Edwards, Bianca Forte, John Freeman Gill, David Hellqvist Mark Josephson, George Kafka, Sam Kestenbaum, Patti Klein, Sam Knight Shane C Kurup, Neil LaBute, Daniel Libeskind, Mary Ellen Manning Shawn McCreesh, Don Morrison, Ray Murphy, Michael Musto Joyce Carol Oates, William Orbit, Linda Ostreicher, Amol Rajan James E Reynolds, Rick Rojas, Richard Sandler, Daniel Slotnik, Will Self Sonia Soberats, Philippe Starck, Colin Stokes, Gianluca Tramontana Alice Twemlow, Gabe Ulla, Alex Vadukul, Stellene Volandes, Drew Whittam Will Wiles, Kin Woo photography Michael Avedon, Paul Barbera, Guido Bioni, Michael Bodiam, Robin Broadbent Linda Brownlee, Yann Faucher, Blair Getz Mezibov, Karl Hab, Brigitte Lacombe Jason Lloyd-Evans, Mark Mahaney, Joss McKinley, Benjamin Norman Giles Revell, Paul Rousteau, Richard Sandler, Sonia Soberats illustration Eric Chow infographic Maria Nakhmanovich
senior editors Tom Craig, Reportage Chris Difford, Music Brett Steele, Architecture Alex Doak, Horology Fergus Henderson, Food Samantha Morton, Film Nathaniel Rich, Literature Amol Rajan, Politics contributing editors Laura Barber Richard Buckley Kyle Chayka Kabir Chibber Alex Griessmann Leo Hollis Lily Robinson Albert Scardino Minnie Weisz Philip Womack special thanks Wild Bird Fund
managing directors Dan Crowe, Kuchar Swara publishers Dan Crowe, Kuchar Swara, Matt Willey associate publisher Andrew Chidgey-Nakazono accounts McCabe Ford Williams circulation consultant Stuart White advertising director Andrew Chidgey-Nakazono email@example.com group brand & partnerships manager Natasha Ingham contact firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 3119 3077 syndication email@example.com syndicated issues Port Russia portmagazine.ru Port Spain portmagazine.es issn 2046-052X Port is published twice a year by Port Publishing Limited Unit 6, Albion Riverside Building 8 Hester Road, SW11 4AX +44 (0)20 3119 3077 port-magazine.com Founded by Dan Crowe, Boris Stringer Kuchar Swara and Matt Willey. Registered in England no. 7328345. All rights reserved. Reproduction, in whole or in part without written permission, is strictly prohibited. All prices are correct at time of going to press but are subject to change. All paper used in the production of this magazine comes, as you would expect, from manageable sources.
“I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.” Joan Didion 28
A classic at first sight. Even more so when taking a closer look.
The classic personality of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar
the classically designed mechanisms of the perpetual calendar and
is recognisable at first sight. The railway-track minute scale and the
of the chronograph with a rattrapante function. With its elaborate,
Arabic numerals take their inspiration from earlier A. Lange & Söhne
traditionally implemented complications, this watch pays tribute to
pocket watches. A close look at the L101.1 manufacture calibre reveals
the achievements of Ferdinand A. Lange. www.alange-soehne.com
George Pragnell 5 and 6 Wood Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Tel. 0178 92 67 072 · Harrods 87–135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, Tel. 0207 73 01 234 · Owen & Robinson 22 – 23 Commercial Street, Leeds, Tel. 0113 245 3773 Watches of Switzerland 155 Regent Street, London, Tel. 0207 534 9810 · Wempe 43 – 44 New Bond Street, London, Tel. 0207 49 32 299
Jonathan Lethem Jonathan has authored 10 novels, including Gun, with Occasional Music, Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude, as well as several short story collections, a novella, a comic and a back catalogue of essays that trace the highs and lows of modern popular culture. His books have often been associated with the 'genre-bending' movement of the late â€™90s and â€™00s, and he has won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Salon Book Award and, in 2005, a MacArthur Fellowship.
Michael Avedon Photographer and grandson of Richard Avedon, Michael graduated from the International Centre of Photography in 2013 and currently lives and works in New York. He is best known for shooting portraits of artists in closeup personal sittings, predominantly making his personal work with blackand-white 35mm and medium-format film. His subjects include Richard Serra, Francesco Clemente, Peter Beard, Chuck Close and Terence Koh, and he has also shot campaigns for both Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein.
Linda Brownlee Linda is an award-winning director and photographer from the Republic of Ireland, known for her intimate portraiture and documentary-style photography. Her work has appeared in Dazed & Confused, Vogue and the New York Times, and has been exhibited in both the National Portrait Gallery and the Photographers' Gallery in London. Her first photo book, Achill, was released in 2010.
Sonia Soberats Sonia is a blind photographer and octogenarian. She turned to photography after losing her sight, as a form of therapy and self-expression, and has gone on to display her work at Brotfabrik Galerie in Berlin and at the Central Library in Hamburg. She is a member of the Seeing with Photography collective in New York, a collaboration between sighted and blind photographers.
Richard Sandler Richard is a street photographer and documentary filmmaker. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for filmmaking, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship for photography and a New York State Council on the Arts fellowship for filmmaking. He published his first book Eyes of the City in 2016 and has shot and directed eight documentaries such as Brave New York, Radioactive City and The Gods of Times Square.
Alice Twemlow Designer, writer, critic and academic, Alice Twemlow earned a PhD in design history at the Royal College of Art in London. She is currently co-chair of the MA course in design research, writing and criticism at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has published several books including StyleCity New York (2003) and What is Graphic Design For? (2006). Her new book, Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism is available from June 2017.
Jonathan Lethem by Adrian Cook, Sonia Soberats by Oliver Krisch, Richard Sandler by Fred Askew, Alice Twemlow by John Madere
Untitled, Newark, March 2015 â€” Aaron Stern
Out-Take: The Delicate Painter
Julian Schnabel by Michael Avedon Styling Dan May Julian wears hooded tracksuit jacket GUCCI
Jean-Michel Basquiat considered the artist too domineering to collaborate with, and the New York Times titled a review of his recent show, “The Controversial Artist Who Just Won’t Go Away”. Julian Schnabel is the larger-than-life painter and Academy Award-nominated film director, who lived on and off in the Chelsea Hotel for years, only to build his own West Village mansion in Manhattan: without planning permission. This is a guy who decides what he wants, then goes and gets it.
And yet, with his show open and a movie in the works, Schnabel is experiencing a moment of quiet revolution. His new rose paintings, inspired by a visit to Van Gogh’s grave, just outside Paris, present an exciting departure. These are calm, reflective paintings, more introverted than anything Schnabel has created in decades. Where did the New York bad boy of the ’80s vanish to: the builder of giant pink towers, the unrepentant enfant terrible of the art world? Read the cover story on page 80
W A T C H
B E Y O N D
BR 03-94 BLACK MATTE CERAMIC · Bell & Ross UK: +44(0) 2076 291 558 · Boutique: Units 48 - 49 Burlington Arcade - W1J 0QJ - London · e-boutique: www.bellross.com
For F Scott Fitzgerald, New York was “always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world”. To mark this, our 20th issue, we wanted a theme as big as the Ritz, as rich as Jay Gatsby and tall enough to scrape skies. After all, Port was inspired by New York’s crazy magazine publishing scene of the ’60s: the bold covers, the longform journalism and the sense of fun. We considered how to take a fresh look. It’s not as if there hasn’t been a New Yorkdedicated magazine issue before. Then Brexit happened, and Donald Trump, and everything became bizarrely horrific. New York – a global city practically invented by refugees, émigré writers, painters, builders and teachers – loomed once again as a beacon of the first wild promise of mystery and beauty in the world. And, what’s more, it was on the frontline of the political earthquake. So we meet Peter Westbrook. The first black fencer to win an Olympic medal, Westbrook is a deacon in his local church and a mentor to hundreds of athletes in New York City with the Westbrook Foundation, which uses fencing to enrich the lives of disadvantaged youths. And we talk with New York resident and design gallery owner Juan Mosqueda. On February 24th, whilst returning from a break, he was denied re-entry into the US by Customs and Border Patrol agents. He described his 14-hour detention at New York’s JFK Airport as “dehumanising and degrading”. He remains in Argentina, awaiting news from his lawyers about whether he will be able to return to the US. And of course, Julian Schnabel. A native son of Brooklyn, he decided to be an artist 34
when his family moved to Brownsville, Texas. Mounting a successful return to New York via the esteemed Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum, Schnabel has innovated as an artist and film director, whilst having some New York-style fun along the way. As Kyle Chayka recalls in our profile, he was known as “the carnival man of contemporary art” as far back as 1982. He provided credibility when David Bowie and William Boyd successfully tricked the art world by conjuring up the abstract-expressionist painter Nat Tate in 1998. Social, internationalist, brave, independent and a little naughty: with a recent retrospective in Aspen, a new show in New York and a film in the works (about Van Gogh), Schnabel is the embodiment of the Big Apple’s big energy and cheek. Everybody has an opinion on New York, and so we have collected paeans and reminiscences from writers, teachers and bartenders in our secret city map. And, as Will Wiles writes in an extended photo story, “New York is a city haunted by the Gothic.” Photographer Robin Broadbent joins him looking at the buildings, water towers and staircases that make New York look like… well, New York. Also, in our design still-life shoot, something from Eva Bambina, a nesting pigeon, found caught up in a fence at 28th Street and Ninth Avenue with a broken wing. “I carry the place around the world in my heart,” said Fitzgerald, “and sometimes I try to shake it off in my dreams.” So thank you, New York, for letting us dream again. Dan Crowe, Editor
The Porter New York rats, Bruce Pask, The Magic Shop, Giorgio Moroder, Matchbook time warp, Let the Porter guide you. p44
Centres of the Universe For much of the 20th century, restaurants were not just restaurants in New York. They were small centres of the universe, and they weren’t just about the food. Today, they are just about the food. And the reviews. Legendary holdouts still thrive across the city, but many of those restaurants are long gone, their ghosts living on in the bar-stool soliloquies of nostalgic New Yorkers. But some do live on, however, through the quotidian accessories that have outlasted them, like fading matchbooks, ashtrays and business cards. Holding these objects is to enter a time warp. A Toots Shor matchbook, for example, belonged in one of midtown Manhattan’s legendary eateries, a sports bar where celebrities and civilians drank shoulder to shoulder. Or there was the Cloud Club, which boasted silver matchbooks, and was an exemplar of hubris and opulence. The vaunted establishment was on the 66th floor of the Chrysler Building. It was the highest lunch club in the world, and its underlying concept was hardly populist: the city’s masters consumed Dover sole and crisp Martinis above the plebeians toiling far below them. Or consider a faded coat check marker from the Four Seasons, which closed last summer to much lamentation. It was effortlessly iconic, running two distinct dining rooms – the Grill Room, where the power lunch was created, and the Pool Room, which had a big pool. Some nostalgists secured coat tickets on the last day of the restaurants’ operations, while the place was filled with New Yorkers paying their respects. A plea for one such ticket was made to an employee operating the coat booth. Taking pity on the requester, she disappeared into a backroom, and then emerged with it. “This one is very old,” she said. “Who can say what it has seen.” Pietro’s Steak Row All the restaurants described in these matchbooks may be no longer, but one midtown legend lives on: Pietro’s... Once upon a time, there was a small neighbourhood in New York called Steak Row. It was a boulevard of chop houses in midtown Manhattan that fed the expense-account Mad Men crowd. But it was also a stage for power and the three-Martini lunch: a scene of post-war excess washed down daily over sirloin and cigarettes. The neighbourhood is forgotten to time – New Yorkers now close their deals over fair-trade coffee, not steak – but there remains Pietro’s, which opened in 1932 and operates quietly on 43rd Street, from behind a window front obscured by curtains. Although old New York is increasingly canonised, Pietro’s remains curiously unsung, despite being the last of its kind. Not to its regulars, however – many of whom were regulars in its heyday, but never got the memo that steak lunches went out of style along with the automat. The scene within Pietro’s is a New York time capsule: blue-jacketed waiters toss Caesar salads at an old wooden station; steaks are modelled regally at table-side before serving and a gold plaque near the restaurant’s entrance states bluntly, ‘This Place Has Been Here Since May 1, 1932.’ To hear regulars tell it, practically nothing has changed, except everything is no longer cloaked in wafts of cigarette smoke. Thus, Pietro’s continues carving meat, serving clams casino, pouring stiff drinks, and carrying on the echo of another era. Pietro’s, 232 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017
Photography Robin Broadbent
OBJECTS FOR LIFE
I first met Donna Summer in Munich with my co-producer Pete Bellotte. We needed some singers to do background for a demo, so I asked around and three girls came: Donna Summer, Roberta Kelly and another English girl. They did a great job; we said we’d call them whenever we had an idea. A few months later, we did a record called ‘The Hostage’ with Donna, then we did ‘Ladies of the Night’. But the song that made us was ‘Love to Love You Baby’. For the album I Remember Yesterday, we had the idea of trying to do a ’50s sound, then ’60s, then ’70s. At one point we began to imagine what the sound of the future might be like. ‘I Feel Love’ felt new – there was nothing else like it. I later discovered that when Brian Eno and David Bowie were
Gianluca Tramontana “I remember Burning Spear was here. Guys came up from Jamaica and they spent hours smoking weed and blowing smoke at the walls to make sure the walls were cool,” remembers Steve Rosenthal, four-time Grammy winner and former owner of the iconic New York recording studio, the Magic Shop. We meet in that same weed-tested room, sitting on the drum riser and looking out on to a completely bare space. “They came to my office and were like ‘Yeah man, it’s cool. The Magic Shop is cool,’” he continues. “I was real happy about that.” We speak in 2016. After our conversation, Rosenthal will return the keys of SoHo’s 49 Crosby Street to the landlord and walk away after nearly 28 years at the helm – another victim of a rapidly changing city. We look around the empty studio in silence; it’s starting to sink in that this will be his last visit to Crosby Street for a long time. Back in 1988 it was a crazy idea for a nerdy 30-something-year-old engineer from the Bronx to open a studio with a second-hand BBC broadcasting console, which looked like the Starship Enterprise. “It was right in the middle of the squeaky girl-music Madonna explosion,” he says. “I wanted to build an old-school setup where people could play live. It was very hard at the beginning.” But in about 1991, a golden streak began. American record producer Phil Spector came to mix his Back to Mono boxed set, and then Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, the Ramones and Suzanne Vega all arrived in succession. “At the end of that run I had a studio and I had a business,” Rosenthal says. The Magic Shop control room looks like a stoner’s crash pad. A couple of lava lamps bubble on the ledge of the glass; a plastic Spider-Man hangs from the ceiling over the couch, while a model dinosaur and Gene Simmons doll sit on top of the console. 42
New York Soundtrack: The Making of ‘I Feel Love’ trying to find a new sound in a Berlin studio, Brian said, “Look no further, because Giorgio has found it!” I’d always heard that New York’s Studio 54 was difficult to get into, so I hired a limousine. I saw this huge line and said to the driver, “Why don’t you go and tell the guy at the door Giorgio Moroder’s here and see if he’ll let me in.” He came back and said, “Yeah, of course!” I went in and it was empty – no more than 10 or 15 people. When the DJ saw me, he started playing ‘I Feel Love’. I was probably the only one on the dance floor, not that I was dancing – but I was listening, and for the first time I was shocked to hear what it sounded like. What really is special is the bassline.
When I was making it, I didn’t really think about the melody. I just composed the music, Donna sang it and it came out nice. The engineer put a little delay on it and that was a big improvement. That’s probably what made the song really interesting. When I mixed it, the original bassline was on the left-hand side, and the delayed one was on the right. So, if you were standing in the middle of the two speakers [in a club] it was great, but if you moved a little to the right it was impossible to dance to... Not that I’m a good dancer. That was when I realised that in the mix it should have had the two basslines, not mono, but a little bit left and a little bit right: not extreme left and right. So that was my experience of Studio 54!
The Magic Shop The relaxed, whatever-floats-your-boat vibe behind the Magic Shop’s graffiti-splattered doorway clearly appealed to David Bowie, who came with his long-time producer Tony Visconti to make The Next Day – his top-secret comeback album – and, two years later, Blackstar, his swan song and goodbye album. Only a skeleton staff was kept in the studio for Bowie’s recordings, and interns were given bogus reasons not to come in. “He manipulated all kinds of art. Not just music, but visual and performance and look, so he dealt with it on a much bigger level than most artists do,” muses Rosenthal. “I always felt that here at the Magic Shop, we were just a little part of one of his art projects.” Blackstar is symbolic inasmuch as it heralded David Bowie’s demise, and marked the end for the Magic Shop. Two days after it came out, David Bowie died. “Anybody who worked here knows how special it was,” surmises veteran producer, mixer and recording engineer John Agnello, who has worked with Turbonegro, Alice Cooper and Kurt Vile. “You can’t take away the memories and you can’t take away the records that were made here. That stuff exists; it’s part of history and this place was fundamental in a lot of great music for 28 years.”
Images Courtesy © Eddie Sung. Opposite: Images Courtesy © Cecil Beaton/Condé Nast via Getty Images
Shane C Kurup
Lost Mansions of the Gilded Age
Images Courtesy © Cecil Beaton/Condé Nast via Getty Images
Today, Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is distinguished by its run of lofty landmarks and chichi retail establishments, but, in the notso-distant past, the prestigious thoroughfare had more in common with London’s Park Lane and Paris’s Avenue Montaigne. Eager to cement their status as the New World’s aristocracy, the well-heeled families of New York’s gilded age aped the customs and fashions of Europe’s elite, vying to outdo each other by constructing ever-larger and more decadent mansions on the avenue. The most prolific contributors to this architectural landscape were the Vanderbilts. In a building frenzy that began in 1878, the family erected a series of urban palaces occupying the entire length of the avenue, from 51st to 57th streets, dubbed ‘Vanderbilt Row’. The most luxurious of these – No. 640 – had interiors so lavish, they were said to be the inspiration for Rhett Butler’s mansion in Gone with the Wind. In 1914, No. 640 was passed down to Cornelius ‘Neily ’ Vanderbilt III and his wife, Grace. They embarked on a two-year, $500,000 renovation of the house, creating over 70 rooms filled with Louis XVI wooden panelling, Parisian Gobelin tapestries and gilt furniture from Versailles. Following this transformation, Grace set about establishing herself as the grande dame of New York society. Her son, Neil, recalled that by the 1920s, she was hosting up to 30,000 guests a year at an annual cost of $300,000 – or $4 million today – in an endless parade of eight-course dinners, lavish balls and intimate ‘at homes’. But this extravagance was not to last. Manhattan was rapidly urbanising and, amid heavy estate taxes, dissipating hereditary wealth and lucrative offers from developers, one grand house after another was torn down to be replaced by towering commercial blocks. Grace held out as long as she could, amid the ever-encroaching skyscrapers, but she was finally forced to vacate in 1945 after the death of her husband, who had already sold the house in the face of a rapidly declining fortune. The demolition crews then set to work. It was the last Vanderbilt house to fall on Fifth Avenue.
Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt, wife of the Brigadier General, dressed in full evening regalia, seated in a Louis XVI chair in the music room of the Vanderbilts’ Fifth Avenue mansion.
Matthew Combs Rats are opportunists and generalists. They’re able to survive off a very scant lifestyle by eating only a few bites of food, while also avoiding predators. They only need about 28g of food every day and are extremely fast reproducers, so their physiology allows them to live comfortably in New York. Their social nature and colonial structure is quite an advantage too. When in groups, they can easily learn about dangers, so if one gets caught in a trap the others will notice and become wary. I use genetics to understand the evolution and the ecology of rats living in cities. I’ve spent years tracking them all over the island of Manhattan to uncover how they are using the environment and what types of landscape attributes or variables really enhance their ability to move through cities. Rats first came to New York from England around 1770. They have the ability to
NY Rats stow away in a ship for several months to get across oceans – something that few animals are capable of. However, it is a wellperpetuated myth that the rats in New York are bigger than the ones in London. Those living here can get quite large because they don’t have to move far to get food; garbage bags are often left out on the street at night waiting to be picked up, so it is essentially a buffet every night. One thing that did surprise me about their nature is that they will cannibalise each other. Once, while trapping them for research, I discovered half of a rat instead of a whole one. These rodents have quite a history here. I would say that every New Yorker has a rat story and we are not shy about it. Matthew Combs is a PhD candidate at Fordham University, specialising in the landscape genetics of rats in New York City
Beats in Space When I was an undergrad at New York University, my friends and I regarded Weinstein Hall as the dorm whose cafeteria had a Chick-fil-A we could easily steal sandwiches from. My perception shifted on a recent Tuesday evening when I visited the building for the first time since I was a student, to learn that the basement is also the improbable hub of Beats in Space, the WNYU-FM radio programme hosted by DJ Tim Sweeney. Over the past 18 years, the weekly show has earned a reputation as one of the finest showcases for selectors from around the world: Jamie XX, DJ Harvey, Robyn and James Murphy, to name but a few. Sweeney launched BiS in 1999 when he was a freshman at the college and clubs around the city like Twilo, Limelight and Shelter suggested the possibility of a more daring nightlife landscape. Now 35, Sweeney retains much of the nerdy fervour that inspired him to start the show. He insists on doing the programme every week, live as often as possible, and works his gigs around the fact that he wants to be in New York every Tuesday, even if he’s got appointments in far-flung places like Australia. At the time of writing, Sweeney had just returned from a weekend playing in Glasgow, Berlin and London and was gearing up for his 875th radio show. “I like the mistakes; I like when someone gets scared being interviewed; I like when something doesn’t work,” Sweeney says. “Everything seems so perfect and well produced nowadays that it feels almost new hearing people mix live.” For such an atomised world as dance music, made up of lonely travellers with
piss-poor sleeping habits, the show has taken on an almost ambassadorial capacity. DJs who are visiting town can promote gigs and, with repeated visits, build an archive of mixes – a curious body of work, which Sweeney makes available online, for free. “I’m not very good with money,” he says. The show also serves as a refreshing dose of purism in the age of electronic dance music. “We’ve become so in love with social media and looking at people that it feels really refreshing having a radio show where people have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. It shouldn’t be about looking at the DJ. I think that’s something that David Mancuso [the recently deceased DJ who founded the legendary Loft parties] was strongly about that has been lost throughout the years.” Even though Sweeney concedes that the scene is a lot smaller than it used to be and that the crazy parties, while still around, are much harder to find – there’s something awfully comforting about his effort; about walking down the street, playing a Soundcloud mix on your headphones, and hearing that enduring, endearingly geeky welcome: “Beats in Space, WNYU, 89.1 FM, New York.”
Illustration Eric Chow Photography Paul Barbera
David Hellqvist There’s an image doing the rounds on Instagram of a sealed plastic bag labelled ‘Air from the Louis Vuitton x Supreme fashion show’. It’s clearly a joke, but nicely sums up the significance of the events of 19th January 2017. In fashion years to come it will be one of those ‘Where were you that day?’ topics. If you were lucky enough to have been at Palais-Royal to view creative director Kim Jones’ AW17 show for the lauded French luxury brand, you would have been party to the official unveiling of Louis Vuitton’s latest collaboration, this time with the iconic New York-based skate brand Supreme. Though the rumour mill and hype blogs had been talking about a potential partnership for a while, no one could be 100 per cent sure. Pre-show, one thing was clear: if true, this would, arguably, be the ultimate fashion collaboration, the perfect marriage of high and low. Though it might be an odd fit on paper, it’s the sub-cultural interest and encyclopaedic streetwear knowledge of Kim Jones that glues the collab together. The whole collection was inspired by New York’s DJ culture and club scene, from the 1970s to the ’90s and, as Jones told report-
Photography Karl Hab
Louis Vuitton x Supreme ers after his show: “No conversation about New York menswear is complete without Supreme.” He’s right: they go hand in hand. For over 20 years, with Thursday-morning queues wriggling down Lafayette Street in SoHo, Supreme has been a mainstay in fashion, worn by editors as well as the teenage fanboys camping overnight to score a box logo T-shirt. After his AW15 Christopher Nemeth collection and the recent hookup with Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment, Kim Jones clearly wants to introduce Louis Vuitton to a whole new customer, a representative of a younger generation whose luxury requirements are different from the older consumer. Though Louis Vuitton doesn’t need street cred, it will do well from this injection of street culture.
Felix Bischof Nigel Peake, the bespectacled artist and self-described “drawer”, has been collaborating with Hermès since 2009. “I missed the phone call because I was cutting a hedge,” says Peake in a heavy Northern Irish lilt, remembering the day he was first approached by the Parisian brand. Luckily Hermès persisted and commissioned him to help create its SS10 booklet. It’s a partnership that has endured, and since grown to include accessories, homeware and window displays. Hailing from County Down, Northern Ireland, Peake’s graphic but playful drawings lend the fleeting moments of everyday life architectural structure and intrigue. Today, he lives in Paris but frequently returns to his pastoral home in Ballytrustan. Details observed during such journeys are often captured in his work; inspiration often strikes during walks through fields and built-up streets. “I catch it by trying to remember it,” he explains. “It’s not about trying to illustrate it, or replicate it… You kind of evoke it.” One glance at Peake’s paperback notebooks confirms his preoccupations; quick sketches of fences in Penzance and horse shows at Paris’s Grand Palais sit alongside some of his favourite words and collaged finds. "It’s always about space, which sometimes turns more into landscape than architecture,” he explains. “Just a walk here – you see things that make you rethink what you thought you knew,” he says, referring to the short stroll from his home in the city’s Marais area to the Hermès offices. When he initially began working with Hermès, Peake would get lost while finding the design team’s studios amidst the many staircases, doors and winding hallways of 24 rue du Faubourg SaintHonoré, Hermès’ historic headquarters since 1880 – a memory referenced in the ‘Promenade au Faubourg’ prints he designed as part of the maison’s SS17 collection.
In his designs for Hermès, Peake adds autobiographical notes to the brand’s storied emblems, all rendered in precise geometric lines, like the blueprints he drew as an architecture student at the University of Edinburgh. Cashmere-silk mix plaids and wool-twill fabrics feature ‘Nigel’s Tartan’, the artist’s hand-drawn reinterpretation of Scotland’s traditional pattern. “You can see it as a city block or a garden,” he enthuses, hinting once more at his ongoing fascination with the urban and the rural, before revealing how he chose colour combinations for the traditional tartan grid. “It’s a bit like talking or words… I think you have an instinct.”
Photography Giles Revell
Tartan porcelain change tray Nigel Peake for HERMĂˆS
Buy Less, Wear More As far as retail mottos go, it’s quite unusual: “Noah believes it is less about what you buy and more about why you buy.” Today, few brands examine and query their customers’ shopping habits, although there are a few bucking that trend. Vivienne Westwood encourages people to “buy less and choose well”, and outerwear experts Patagonia have a long history of arguing for thoughtful sustainability over spontaneous waste. Now Noah’s Brendon Babenzien joins that list. All three share a fundamental point of view: Think carefully about what you buy. “We built this brand to talk to people about consumer behaviour,” Babenzien explains. “We don't encourage the ‘consume, consume, consume’ attitude. Of course, we all consume; that's what we do. But my feeling is that the consumption has got out of hand.” His response is to offer people garments they care about enough to hold on to for some time. “It's not just about now; it’s also about the future. You've got to ask yourself: Will I wear this next year?” Consequently, Noah’s clothing is classic: those wardrobe staples we all wear… over and over, and over. But make no mistake: Noah is not a hemp-obsessed throwback brand. On the contrary. Having last year expanded upon his New York SoHo store with a standalone shop-in-shop at Dover Street Market in London, Noah is at the forefront of contemporary menswear. The brand’s laid-back, casual attitude, mixed with a traditional take on the aforementioned classics, and its loud and clear political agenda, even make Noah something of a zeitgeist brand. And the micro as well as macro political values are crucial for Babenzien: “I want to make my voice heard through selling clothes. But in doing so, I want to make better products and make sure the people making them, and the ones working with us, lead good lives.” Babenzien is pretty darn close to streetwear royalty. Before Noah, he served as creative director of Supreme for nine years, and there are few brands with the loyal fan base and name recognition of the 23-year-old New York skate label: people queue around corners on a weekly basis to buy Supreme. “When you look at what we did at Supreme and what I do here, everything is based on the stuff we talk about daily, the way we think and are as people, the music we listen to, the art we look at and our position on social issues. It all plays into it.” Babenzien is a relaxed and down-to-earth guy. We chat sitting on Labour and Wait buckets a few yards from his basement space in Dover Street Market’s relatively new venue on the Haymarket, near Piccadilly Circus. His gentle personality gelled with the Supreme design team, working behind press-shy founder James Jebbia. “I was really invisible over there, which I liked – just being part of something that was so incredible, but not being ultimately responsible at the same time.” Now however, although it doesn’t bear his name, Noah is all about Babenzien. “It’s definitely different and something I never really wished for. It took a long time for me to be comfortable with the idea of being some kind of spokesperson. What makes it even stranger is that now we've started this, I seem to be really outspoken,” he laughs. Noah’s focus on social issues comes through starkly in their collections, especially in the T-shirts with printed graphics. “Yes, for graphics, tees are the most efficient way to get an idea across. But we also have social media and our website, which means you can do a graphic and then expand on it with an Instagram post.” The T-shirt was always a key Supreme garment, and Babenzien continues that theme at Noah. But pop in-store and you’ll also find Scottish cashmere sweaters and penny loafers. Perhaps Babenzien’s favourite Noah garment best sums up the brand DNA. “Weirdly, I like the stuff that nobody else cares about, like our corduroy running shorts. They’re made out of beautiful plush corduroy with a merino wool mesh lining. I use them as a winter running staple, but others saw trendy shorts from the ’80s – and that’s the point.” For Babenzien, Noah can be what you want it to be, as long as you cherish the clothes and don’t throw them away.
Photography Paul Barbera
Beauty of the Subway One of the iconic experiences that defines New York is the subway: the subway in rush hour; the subway going wherever you're going, particularly on a weekday, because it's the most democratic thing. You see very wealthy people, you see beggars, you see students, you see old people. You see New York. It really is a cross section of the city. I love it. I take it whenever I can. The subway’s characteristics play in my mind. I think of its iron pillars, its tiles. Certain lines on the London Underground even have a distinctive smell that triggers a rush of memory. In New York, the subways don't look very different from how they did in 1898, when they were built. They are dark; there's a slight menace. There's been a not-very-successful attempt at making them modern. They still have that end-of-19th-century look. They're not pretty to look at – there's nothing uplifting architecturally. But there is that sense of the drama of New York – of people running, hurrying, scurrying, looking, trying to find something, surviving. And, of course, it has with it that sort of shadow of threat, of possibility – of meeting people, of looking into someone’s eyes. I've always loved it, particularly the experience when you're in one train, looking at a nearly empty station, a couple of people standing there, and another train comes by. It's sometimes a very poetic experience.
Guido Biondi is the creative director of President’s, an Italian brand that manufactures its premium collections in the rolling hills of Tuscany. First set up by Biondi’s grandfather in 1957, the company’s style is characteristically Italian: casual but fiercely elegant at the same time. Although inherently Florentine in his sartorial approach, Biondi has a long-standing fascination with New York. The city not only helped him define President’s when he re-established the brand in 2010, but it also continuously inspires him through its never-ending attitude and energy. On his latest visit to NYC, Biondi captured the city for Port, and here he explains what it is that makes him come back for more. “I love hanging out in New York, whether it’s uptown or downtown. SoHo is in between and I really like the architecture there with the old buildings and streets, the shapes and structure, the contrasting colours. I find it elegant but also full of determination. For me NYC is all about classics with a twist, which is something I want to give to my collection. President’s is about the energy I experience when I’m in the city; the frenetic lifestyle is very different from my hometown of Florence. “For President’s, I like to work on pieces that are clean but have nice details to them, and New York, more than any other city, makes me design versatile garments that are good for more than one occasion. It’s a very fast place and you need to be ready to go from travelling to attending a cocktail party in one go. Generally speaking, I’m a big supporter of Americana style. I took a lot of inspiration from vintage US garments when setting up President’s, and I still do, but I like to combine that aesthetic with premium fabrics that are made in Tuscany. That way we give a second life to the garments by creating vintage pieces for the future.”
Images Courtesy © Willy Spiller and Guido Biondi
The King In less than a year, trial runs of the latest land-speed record attempt commence in the South African desert. Aiming to smash Andy Green’s supersonic 763mph record of 1997 by hitting 1,000mph on four wheels, Wing Commander Green is back in the saddle once again, with the backing of fellow LSR pioneer Sir Richard Noble, who piloted the previous record-breaker, Thrust2, in 1983. But what does this have to do with watches? Inside the tiny cockpit of Bloodhound SSC, our plucky former Tornado pilot will be referring to two bespoke instruments engineered by Rolex: an analogue speedometer and chronograph, sitting either side of the dashboard – independently controlled from the central electronic screens. Analogue, rather than digital, readouts may seem archaic for such a high-tech engineering project, but they're essential for Green as he can read them in an instant and flick his eyes back to the task in hand. The designers at Switzerland's most popular watch brand have drawn from the racy design codes of these two precision instruments in reviving Rolex's long-lamented entry-level men's watch, the AirKing. The sci-fi numerals and coloured Rolex logo divided critics at last year’s Baselworld trade fair, to the point where the Air-King may as well have been renamed the Marmite. Whatever your gut feeling, there is one indisputable message here: it’s a Rolex for less than five grand where you’ll find the same unbeatable chronometer movement and watertight Oyster case as in models almost twice the price. And if it's good enough for a man with the cojones to go 1,000mph in a prototype car… Well, you know the rest.
Oyster Perpetual Air-King ROLEX
Photography Giles Revell
From the 1920s to 1970s, Massachusettsborn photographer James Van Der Zee (1886–1983) used portraiture to capture the lives of middle-class African Americans in New York City. While most white Americans of the time did not associate glamour, beauty or status with the black community, Van Der Zee subverted stereotypes with his powerful, selfassured photographs. He knew that his pictures were, for his clients, more than portraits; his images of African-American families and political figures would endure, helping chronicle the Harlem Renaissance – considered the rebirth of African-American arts. Taking shape in the wake of WWI, the cultural, social and artistic movement came into full swing during the 1920s and ’30s. Eager New Yorkers would stream into Van Der Zee’s studio to have their portraits taken while the photographer, known for his gracious approach, would make clients feel completely at ease. As the official photographer of political activist Marcus 52
Harlem on my Mind
Garvey, Van Der Zee also shot many members of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in their full military regalia. “Sometimes the photographs seemed to be more valuable to me than they did to the people I was photographing,” Van Der Zee once said, “because I put my heart and soul into them.” But it wasn’t until he was 82 that he finally received national recognition for his work. In 1968, influential photo researcher Reginald McGhee discovered Van Der Zee’s monumental collection and paved the way for his inclusion in a show at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Harlem on my Mind. This thrust Van Der Zee into the spotlight, and saw him earn widespread appreciation for his long-standing dedication to Harlem’s often overlooked community. “In these photographs you will not see the common images of black Americans – downtrodden rural or urban citizens,” McGhee once remarked. “Instead, you will see a people of great pride and fascinating beauty.”
In 1981, at a New York City art gallery, John Loengard photographed James Van Der Zee, aged 95, making a portrait of 98-year-old composer Eubie Blake.
Images Courtesy © John Loengard
Images Courtesy © Taylor McIntyre
Brin-Jonathan Butler As has been the case for nearly 50 years, a relieved patron shuts out the chill from a New York winter’s first snowy night of the season and enters the warm, welcoming embrace of Jimmy’s Corner blue-collar bar. The place is packed. Under twinkling rainbow Christmas lights, the latest visitor stomps and shakes his coat free of the snow he accumulated outside, only looking up to smile when someone puts Duke Ellington on on the jukebox. He scans the crowded bar for the friends he’s come to meet and, not finding them, grins with the expectation that they’ve found a table in the back. Jimmy Glenn, sitting by himself at a small table nursing a cup of coffee, monitors the room between sips. As far as sports footnote narratives go, baseball had Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham: his entire career consisted of playing just two innings in the big leagues on June 29th, 1905, without ever getting up to bat. Jimmy Glenn is boxing’s answer to Moonlight Graham. A preacher’s son, he was born in rural South Carolina on August 18th 1930, and fought on the streets of Harlem as a teenager after World War II. Harlem was the centre of black America and Jimmy quickly made friends with anybody who was anybody in the neighbourhood. He didn’t last long as a fighter in the amateurs and never made it to the pros: the last of his 16 amateur fights was against a middleweight named Floyd Patterson who knocked him down three times and broke off a tooth – but even the future youngest heavyweight champion in history couldn’t keep Jimmy from going the distance. While Moonlight Graham abandoned baseball for medical school and returned to his hometown in Chisholm, Minnesota, to serve his community for the last 50 years of his life, Jimmy has spent the past halfcentury looking after his bar on West 44th street, just off Times Square, and working with prizefighters along the way. In a chequered sweater and slacks, surrounded by a shrine of autographed pictures of prizefighters that puts the Boxing Hall of Fame to shame, Jimmy shakes the hands of customers saying goodbye and greets others just arriving. Handshakes connect this man to anyone who was anyone in New York in the world of film and sports. He is asked, after another handshake, if it was really true Raging Bull’s final comedy-club scene was shot in his backroom. He nods and sips some more coffee. Did he really do roadwork with Sugar Ray Robinson? Another nod. Did he ever spend time with Ali and Robinson together? “I hope so,” he says, putting down his cup. “I introduced them.” Tyson? “Good guy,” Jimmy says softly, knocking his table twice. “He calls every year on my birthday. Thoughtful. That’s why I let his poster guard my office.” Although Jimmy may never have hit the mother lode with boxing, the sport has had
The Bar: Jimmy’s Corner
few more respected, beloved figures. But how can he afford the rent, being so close to Times Square? “I’ve been friends with Durst for a long time. He’s always been good to me.” Someone asks if he means real estate developer Douglas Durst, brother of Robert Durst from HBO’s The Jinx. Jimmy nods and one side of his mouth curls into a smile. When he ran his old gym up in Harlem, who was the most fun dropping by? “Miles Davis used to drop in asking me to spar with Roberto Durán. Miles was a character.” How can he keep the drinks so cheap? “Because I wanted to make a living off this place, not get rich. I dropped out of school in the eighth grade.” Was he sad he had to give up on being a fighter for training and managing instead? “Managers and trainers can dream too,” he smiles. Jimmy ’s middle-aged son approaches his table and whispers a minor problem in his ear. Jimmy scratches his beard for a few seconds before climbing to his feet and following his boy, disappearing into the office. After 50 years looking after his bar, he still makes the whole place miss him the moment he leaves the room. Jimmy's Corner 140 W. 44th St., New York, NY 10036
For 80-year-old blind photographer Sonia Soberats, New York is a hive of memories and expectation. “I came here in 1980 to go to New York University, to study computer systems, and was offered a job, so I stayed,” she says with a Venezuelan inflection. “At the time, technology was really making its mark. The change was rapid and some people found that tiresome, but for me New York was, and still is, a place that gives you the opportunity to savour everything.” Leaving her native Caracas, however, was only the beginning of an era of tumultuous change for Soberats: in 1986 her daughter, who lived in South America, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer; in 1991 her son died from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and that very same year, Soberats became completely blind. Two years later, her daughter finally passed away. “We always put our children before us, and whilst caring for her, I forgot that I had lost my vision,” she says. “That’s why I say that the loss of vision wasn’t so hard for me as it was for other people.” The long process of emotional healing eventually took Soberats in a surprising new direction. “When I came back to New York with two granddaughters I tried to get them away from that sad part of their lives, so we started travelling,” she says. “We went to Europe, but when we asked people to take our pictures they would miss out our arms or heads. They were terrible! I just wanted to take better pictures; that’s how I got started with photography.”
'Journey to the Unknown' Sonia Soberats 54
Enjoying the Noise: Sonia Soberats
After learning the basics, Soberats came to light painting via a Manhattan collective called Seeing with Photography. The technique – famously explored by Picasso – requires a camera to be steadied on a tripod in complete darkness (usually in a studio, facing a subject). With the camera on a long exposure, Soberats takes a handheld light source and illuminates the sitter by moving and feeling her way around them. “It helps me to read in my mind the memories of when I was sighted,” Soberats says. “Light is so special; it gives life to everything.” Despite her disability, New York is still a haven of inspiration and stimulation for her, so she tries to make the most of its endless amenities and quirks whenever possible. “I love going for walks and enjoying the noise,” Soberats says. “I go to the museums a lot too, often with Mark Andres, the professor who taught me how to paint with light. He explains what we’re looking at. Even though I’m disabled, I can still enjoy the city.” For Soberats, photography hasn’t just become a creative outlet but a muchneeded form of catharsis too. “I love being a photographer, because people think it is something that I cannot do,” she concludes. “You realise that being blind, you can make great pictures, and that gives you an inner satisfaction. It has been a therapy for me.”
Images Courtesy © Sonia Soberats and Rodrigo Benavides (Escuela de Fotografía Núcleo Fotosensible. Caracas, Venezuea)
Sub scr ibe
to P ort
A nondescript doorway leading to a magical space; hidden parks and the best oysters. Forget the obvious suggestions from guidebooks: Port readers and contributors share their favourite slices of the Big Apple. 1 — Aaron Edwards, editor John F Kennedy International Airport has always been a route to possibility. I grew up just around the corner from the airport, with my family of Jamaican immigrants, in Springfield Gardens, Queens, and remember as a kid the grand whooshes of planes going here and there. They were a reminder that my city belonged to people from all corners of the world, to each of us and to all of us. I catch my heart beating a little faster as the city’s skyline comes into view when I land from elsewhere. It’s a shared comfort for New Yorkers – as the tarmac of our airports, and others across the US, become more personal, more political than ever before – that New York will always be waiting for your return, and that it’ll fight for you to be welcome.
18 3 9 20
15 14 11 4
3 — Philippe Starck, designer Andy Warhol's Factory and Max's Kansas City, where I saw the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed for the first time when I was 23. I stayed friends with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. For me, the Velvet Underground is the music of New York, the sound and colour of New York.
2 — Mary Ellen Manning, Bronx native Growing up in the Bronx, I was very far from any water, but there was the Castle Hill Beach Club, which was one of those old New York summer clubs long forgotten to time. It was a bus ride away from me. There was no actual beach, just several pools amongst tennis and handball courts, and a big chain-link fence. It was an oasis of old people and bathing caps. I vividly remember the ladies in the back playing mahjong. Whenever I hear the old summer songs like ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’ it just brings me right back to Castle Hill. 56
4 — John Freeman Gill, novelist For my money, the most exuberant subway station in all New York is the 2/3 stop at Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum. From its tiled walls glower, leer and cackle a rogue’s gallery of terracotta faces that once adorned 19th-century tenements demolished in the 1960s. Though there’s no plaque to tell you, these scraps of New Yorkers’ architectural patrimony were rescued from demolition sites by a band of visionary scavengers called the Anonymous Arts Recovery Society. Their leader was Ivan Karp, a renowned art dealer best known for bringing pop-art giants Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to international recognition.
5 — Sylvia Casquete Dimopoulos, mother I came from Ecuador 30 years ago to the East Village and went in pursuit of authentic Spanish food. I found Gena's Grill, 210 First Avenue, just a block away from my new apartment, and even though the owners at the time were Cuban, it felt just like I was back home. Being with Spanish people from all over the world, from Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo to Mexico, smelling a sense of familiarity at the restaurant – it became such a comfort for me that I still visit today. 6 — Mark Josephson, longtime New Yorker Where Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road cross is a neighbourhood of bodegas, halal meats, Italian cookies and storefront churches. You can get a cheesy slice and an RC Cola. There was a pet shop that occasionally sold a monkey. This is where my Rust Belt dad met my mum; where my grandparents, a Florentine immigrant and a WWII veteran, purchased a home. This is the neighbourhood where my family mythology was born. Infographic Maria Nakhmanovich
7 — William Orbit, producer A nondescript doorway on West 48th Street, next to a luggage store and behind a soup kitchen throng, to MSR Recording Studios. I’m still discovering rooms and passageways in that tech womb, from when it was a strip club and ballroom. I’ll pop in and reminisce with engineer Gloria Kaba about sonic adventures with Madonna, the New York Met and others. A wet street reflection of the giant neon billboard on the corner with Seventh Avenue glimpsed through the window would be all I need to feel the pulse of the city. 8 — Sam Kestenbaum, religion writer I go to Tel Aviv Café at the corner of Avenue P and Coney Island Avenue to see a Brooklyn mix. The owners of this hookah spot are Palestinian and much of the clientele come from the nearby enclave of Syrian Jews. Conversations are held in a spattering of Hebrew, English and Arabic. On a recent visit, the playlist moved between Troy Ave and Nancy Ajram. Teenagers sat at laptops, old men argued over a card game. The decoration is sparse and the lighting is harsh, but the tobacco is expertly prepared and smooth. 9 — Joyce Carol Oates, author The small park, behind the Jefferson Market Library. In this lovely little park there is a single, looping pathway – by my estimate, hardly more than a dozen benches scattered along it – gorgeous though understated flowers and foliage; an oasis of beauty, tranquillity, civility though only a few yards from busy Sixth Avenue. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, relatively few people seem to know about the Jefferson Market Park which is lovingly maintained by local residents. 10 — Rick Rojas, Metro Reporter at the New York Times Sometimes my existence can feel like a multi-camera sitcom with three sets: my desk; my apartment and the E train, usually stuck somewhere between Queens Plaza and Roosevelt Avenue. There are the knowing glances and grunted comments between riders, when we share the misfortune of boarding a smelly car, or notice a guy watching cockfights on his phone. A group recently bum-rushed a man who’d kept the doors from closing for over half an hour and we cheered. I'm almost grateful for those moments. It feels like, however frustrating this city can be, we're all in it together. 11 — Christina Aucello, retired nurse I started working at Court Pastry Shop, downtown Brooklyn, Court Street, when I was 12, and I kept the gig until I was 21. They opened in 1948. The sweet smell of sugar and cheese and other Italian ingredients remains like no other. Ultimately, because of the place, I became a cake snob, and to this day nothing else compares for me.
12 — Amol Rajan, BBC Media Editor The Anne at Russ & Daughters on Orchard Street in Lower East Side. In six years as a restaurant critic, I came to few conclusions more firmly than this: The Anne, a platter of smoked fish, bagels, cheeses and fresh pickles at Russ & Daughters, which easily serves four, is the greatest breakfast anywhere on the planet. And you don't have to be schooled in Jewish delis to appreciate it. Just turn up hungry. 13 — Geoff Dyer, author I saw the Kerry James Marshall painting Untitled (Club Scene) in the lobby of MoMA a few years ago. You turn up at these big museums and you know you're going to see great stuff by Picasso, etc. But then, whomp… There’s this new masterpiece you've never seen or heard of before, declaring its masterpiece-ness so loud and joyously, and for me there is something very New York about that. 14 — Linda Ostreicher, city planner One hot summer night in the 1970s there was a blackout. Folks in other Brooklyn neighbourhoods were going nuts and freaking out, but in ours we all went outside and made the most of it. What I remember best is that there was this ice cream store and they knew that their ice cream was going to melt, so they opened the door and just gave it all away for free. 15 — James E Reynolds, teacher When I walk my black Labrador along the shore of Brooklyn Bridge Park at dusk, I think of Walt Whitman's meditation on crossing the East River by ferry towards Brooklyn. Harbour glistens, "sun half an hour high". Liberty's torch aloft. Governors Island. Staten Island. Jersey coast purple silhouettes. Lower Manhattan towers' windows alight. Whitman's ferry reveries valid; just as he felt when he looked on the river and sky, so I feel. "It avails not, time nor place." 16 — Stellene Volandes, Editor-in-Chief of Town & Country Magazine In Bay Ridge, Saturday Night Fever was our Great Gatsby. It's all there – the white suit, the golden girl and the green light. The glow in that neighbourhood comes from an oncoming R train waiting to take you to our idea of East Egg. We called it "the city". But we always came back to the Ridge for chicken Parm at Gino's, or a slice at Pizza Wagon, or capellini alla’Areo. I still do. 17 — Patti Klein, teacher I used to live on Madison Street and I would hang out in the park playing basketball with the guys. My mother would always pick me up and take me to Rudy's, at 905 Seneca Avenue, Ridgewood, an old-fashioned bakery. My mother had three girls and we were all a year apart; we would go in and pick up something from the counter. I always got a jelly donut.
On-the-ground reporting Daniela Tijerina and Alex Vadukul
18 — Will Self, writer It was love at first sight: me and the Oyster Bar at Grand Central – I loved it so much I used it as the location for the epilogue scene of my first novel. I love oysters – but I love yet more this strange sunkentiled hammam of an eatery, with its close proximity to those rock-cut slipways running down to the grimy-shiny local and Amtrak trains on the tracks below, ready and willing to slide out beneath the great weight of Manhattan, over and away up the Hudson. I loved to sit at the long, zinctopped bar, in front of me men in chefs’ whites, a-shuckin’ of the oyster and a broilin’ of the clam chowder, examining the pegboard above this ecstatic scene, from which you can select from scores of varieties, flown in that morning by the finest distribution system known to late capitalism, while sipping a Seven-andSeven on the rocks (yech), and smoking. Où sont les bobos d’antan, indeed... 19 — Alessandro Borgognone, restaurateur When I was young, growing up in New York, I remember sitting on a stoop, and neighbours sitting on their stoops. Everyone knew each other. That culture is now scarce. But it is still very much alive on Staten Island, cruelly dubbed by some the "forgotten borough". I now live on Staten with my family, in Todt Hill, which is an interesting area because it is the highest elevated point on the eastern seaboard. You can see the ocean, the Verrazano Bridge and the scope of Manhattan. On mornings, I jog past a golf course. On Sundays, I visit a little Italian grocery to pick up fennel and porcini mushroom sausages. There are no stoops on my block anymore, but everything I used to have in the old neighbourhoods, like Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, I still have right here. 20 — Shawn McCreesh, bartender Tucked away on a trash-strewn strip of Flushing Avenue in Maspeth, far from the bright lights of Manhattan, stands the gnarliest bar I've ever made a buck in. Hired sight unseen on the merits of my good Irish last name, weekends here often felt like an exercise in oblivion. To pull up a seat at the peeling wooden bar was to watch as a menagerie of blue-collar characters, with their faces caked in axle grease and their clothes reeking of smoke, shuffled in to funnel ungodly amounts of Coors Light and Jameson, ordered through the thickest of brogues, until very last call — which I usually didn't make until seven in the morning. Cops, firefighters, car mechanics, fresh-off-the-boat Irishmen: they all drank here. Smoked here. Fought here. Fell asleep here (usually right on the bar top). This was their place, and for a brief while, I was their bartender.
Dal Chodha Behind the boast to “Make America Great Again” is a flag-waving, wall-building myth of national purity. Yet our cultural exchanges are digital and multiple; designers are sharing references that both defy borders and undermine constitutional hoopla. In fashion, we all know the classic American look is lean, clean and athletic. Yet what does American fashion really look like? Does it resemble the architectural clarity of Claire McCardell’s clothes from the 1930s? The sensual rigour of Halston circa 1970? Or perhaps it brings the athletic swagger of Tommy Hilfiger around 1997 to mind. London is youthful, Milan is shiny, Paris is expensive – but, New York? “When you think about the fashion landscape and the fashion capitals, America is a very young country,” says Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at luxury Manhattan department store, Bergdorf Goodman. “We are sort of the brash upstarts. From Calvin and Ralph to Donna – the three pillars of American fashion, if you like – we originated with the idea of casual wear,” he says. “I think that’s what a lot of people look to as being sort of, quote unquote, ‘American’. We clearly do it really well.” And Pask should know. For more than two decades, he has had a watchful eye over the changing attitudes to men’s fashion and style, first at GQ magazine between 1990– 2000. It was, Pask suggests, an extraordinary period when traditional media began to explore the possibilities of the web. “I’ve watched the evolution of menswear grow exponentially since I first started, and it has been very gradual.” After leaving the magazine, he worked freelance and went on to design costumes for the Oscars, the Kennedy Center Honors and two Broadway shows, whilst styling a host of iconic portraits captured by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. Over this time, the business of fashion itself has changed radically. Yet, ironically, today we’re in the midst of a ’90s revival. Raf Simons’ highly anticipated Calvin Klein debut, unveiled in early 2017, was dripping with the sharp sexiness of Helmut Lang circa 1996. “ The ’90s were a very big fashion moment – fashion felt utterly vital,” Pask says. “I remember really needing that contrast sleeve, wide-shouldered jacket. Maybe that has to do with building up who you are, and that’s the same for young people today. It is funny to see those proportions returning.” In 2006, Stefano Tonchi invited Pask to join him at the New York Times' T Magazine, where he served as men’s fashion director for eight years. “I hired him because I had always admired his sense of style and I needed somebody that had a very strong American sensibility,” Tonchi says. “Just take the way he dresses himself, from the bandanas and the denim, to the workwear. Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans
Mr Bruce Pask These all-American garments are a part of his own personality and his attitude. Bruce loves Americana. This idea of American style is so important to him.” Pask grew up in the spiky desert landscape of Arizona and went on to study art history in leafier surroundings at the College of William and Mary in Virginia; his education was, undoubtedly, an aesthetic one. “The Official Preppy Handbook was hugely influential. We were really fascinated by it because it felt very ‘other’,” Pask says. “Being out in the desert, this idea of a very ‘east coast’, historic kind of wardrobe was utterly fascinating to me.” Moving away from the rugged insouciance of his immediate environment, Pask embraced the more patrician wardrobe codes of the US’s east. “I’ve always had a very pragmatic, practical nature, tempered by these other interests in creativity and beauty and art,” he says of his own approach. “Coming back to New York [style], I think there’s maybe an element of formality… more than the west.” America is a vast country with very disparate influences and environments, he says, meaning that American fashion is far more than just what is seen on the streets of New York City. “Parsons, Pratt, Fashion Institute of Technology – New York’s design community isn’t the same as what’s happening on the west coast, which I think is really burgeoning,” Pask says. “Living in California is markedly different to life here. Their access to amazing factories with cotton jersey and denim production means that they have really perfected product that speaks to this more relaxed lifestyle”: a measured laissezfaire, shaped by a sunnier climate and proximity to nature. “John Elliott and Chris Stamp of STAMPD are two very young voices in that sphere of west coast influence, which I think is having greater impact on the idea of American design today.” As designers, Elliott and Stamp embody a spirit of independence that speaks to our entrepreneurial times – a time when businesses are started around thick wooden benches in coffee shops and ideas are shared with millions of people with just the tap of a screen. “John has made great use of the factories he has worked with. He is very inspired by product and initially his inspiration was cotton jersey, which put him on the map – creating high-design hoodies and track pants in a very considered way,” Pask says. “The fit was very new to that genre and he focused his attention on that, creating a designed interpretation of casual wear. In general, I think we’ve become much more relaxed about the versatility of our wardrobes.” Founded in LA in 2009, STAMPD also embodies what Pask calls an “aspiration for relaxation”. Its slightly laid-back, athletically influenced style reflects modern life. “These
are not skate shops selling hoodies – these are guys who have really rigorous aesthetics and I think that’s fascinating. It’s not weekend clothing; this is clothing for a fashion customer.” Perhaps the greatest development Pask has witnessed over his venerable career has been the advances in men’s attitudes to dressing, which has been prompted, he believes, by the increased channels of communication. “Men have so many reference points and so much instruction that I think it has emboldened them to make choices,” he says. “Pitti Uomo used to be a very, kind of, insular environment that men’s buyers and editors would attend, but when Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton began photographing it, that kind of information became available to the broader population, so more people became curious and interested.” Pask feels his move to one of New York’s oldest and most respected department stores was the logical next step following a lengthy stint in editorial. “Being at Bergdorf Goodman is incredibly satisfying because for me it seems like the utter completion of a circle,” he says. “Coming from a magazine background, I understand how helpful and informative it can be to show looks put together. Our goal is to inform and inspire – it’s taking what can be a very two-dimensional editorial point of view and expanding it into a threedimensional environment. It’s sort of like a magazine being brought to life.”
Words Kin Woo
Photography Giles Revell
For Geza Schoen, founder of the cult fragrance label Escentric Molecules, challenging tradition whilst blurring the boundaries between art and chemistry is the key to innovation
Geza Schoen, the 48-year-old German founder of the cult fragrance label Escentric Molecules, does not talk much like a traditional perfumer. He dispenses with the airy, time-worn Proustian associations when describing scents, preferring to talk about the molecular components instead, and sounding more like a chemist in the process. One in particular, an aroma chemical called Iso E Super – which was developed in a laboratory in 1973 and appears in the background of many great perfumes – would become the genesis of the minimalist Escentric 01 and Molecule 01: fragrances launched by Schoen in 2006. “When I smelled Iso E Super for the first time I noticed why I had preferences for certain fragrances: they all contained a big chunk of it,” exclaims Schoen, who recalls giving the scent to a friend to wear in the 1990s that resulted in women chasing him down the street. “That’s when I realised it had a super power.” Schoen’s idea was to propose two fragrances in homage: one with an unprecedented 65 per cent of the molecule blended with a handful of other notes, and the second even more radical interpretation to contain only the molecule in its purest
form. Though his unique proposition was initially met with resistance, it soon became a word-of-mouth phenomenon on account of its animalic, woody, velvety and sensual qualities. “Molecule 01 is to perfume what Bauhaus is to Baroque,” says Schoen of his decision to challenge the traditional scent paradigm of combining synthetics with natural products, by simplifying the process to just one ingredient. “I wanted something cleaner.” Schoen has made a habit of always thinking outside the box, saying, “For me it’s natural to do things differently.” Born and raised in Kassel to parents who were both teachers, Schoen’s fascination with smell began when he was a teenager; he would get samples of perfume in the post, writing to fragrance companies asking them to send him their wares. By the age of 16, he could identify hundreds of different perfumes. “The sense of smell is still the most important sense we have, and the most fascinating.” Starting out training and working at the international fragrance manufacturers Haarmann & Reimer (now Symrise) for 12 years, he left after becoming disillusioned with how cor-
porate the industry had become. He moved to London in 2001 to create a scent, Wode, for the London design duo, Boudicca. The fragrance came in two versions: Scent and Paint, with the latter packaged in a silver spray-paint can that doused the wearer in a deep blue pigment similar to that which the ancient British queen, Boudicca, wore into battle. This was the start of a number of esoteric projects Schoen has worked on that push the boundaries of what can be achieved with fragrance, like Paper Passion – a scent that smells like a Steidl book and comes packaged in one. He has also conceived a series of fragrances made in tribute to smart women called ‘The Beautiful Mind’, and worked with artists such as Wolfgang Georgsdorf, for whom he made 64 odours for Smeller – an ‘olfactory organ’ that spectators can play like a piano to make aromascapes. But it’s with Escentric Molecules that the fullest expression of his scent philosophy remains, that of stripping things back “so that it’s very plain and very linear but it still smells great”. With its minimal packaging and unisex fragrances, Escentric Molecules is a modern concept that
resonates with the times. “I think gendered fragrances are outdated,” he declares. “These days, people are changing their fragrances as often as they would change their jeans or their sneakers.” While scent 02 starred ambroxan (a key ingredient of ambergris), and for 03 the centrepiece was vetiver, Schoen recently launched series 04 with the sheer sandalwood molecule Javanol at its heart. He speaks of its “psychedelic freshness, as if liquid metal grapefruit peel was poured over a bed of velvety cream-coloured roses.” He amplified the fizzy grapefruit top notes in Escentric 04 with pink pepper and juniper, for an extra shot of freshness with a rose core, and base notes of balsamic ingredients. According to Schoen, using Javanol was challenging because “more than any other chemical I’ve used before, it gave direction to where the fragrance had to develop into.” More than 10 years since launching his brand, Schoen is still enjoying playing at the boundaries between art and chemistry. “It wasn’t really my goal to change the perfume world,” he says. “I just wanted to make a fragrance for myself and my friends to wear.”
63 Photography Linda Brownlee
Styling Alex Petsetakis
Previous spread: Rod wears Double breasted suit RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL, Check linen shirt and double face tie MARGARET HOWELL NY Yankees cap BEYOND RETRO Monorunner sneakers OUR LEGACY
Previous spread: Joana wears Linen-satin oversized shoulder pads blazer, track shorts, cotton popeline menâ€™s shirt and leather ankle strap pumps JIL SANDER Tights SOCKSHOP and her own jewellery
Opposite and below: Tarek wears long blazer and shirt LOUIS VUITTON, Oversized sleeveless cardigan RAF SIMONS, Suit trousers with exposed stitching MAISON MARGIELA Leather brogues DUNHILL
Rosie wears checked jacquard jacket PRADA Knot earrings LOEWE, Pleated knit dress BOTTEGA VENETA
Rosie wears Front tie dress RALPH LAUREN Oversized snakeskin jacket MARTINE ROSE Knot earrings and suede cushion cube bag LOEWE
Oscar wears Cashmere jumper with Mr Armani print GIORGIO ARMANI, Pleated trousers CARUSO, Chelsea boots DUNHILL and his own St Christopher pendant
Joana wears Wool pinstripe suit DUNHILL Merino wool waistcoat knit JOHN SMEDLEY Rodeo Queen alligator boots LOUIS VUITTON Trench coat MAISON MARGIELA and her own belt and jewellery
Carvell wears Leather bomber DIOR HOMME Sweatshirt WOOLRICH JOHN RICH & BROS Vented wide trousers STONE ISLAND SHADOW PROJECT
Opposite: Turek wears Camou sundance jacket WOOLRICH JOHN RICH & BROS Long shirt LEMAIRE, Jogging trousers CP COMPANY
Turek wears Pertex insulation technology waistcoat STONE ISLAND, Suit with exposed stitching and silk shirt MAISON MARGIELA
Opposite: Isabelle wears Sharkflage jacket PAUL & SHARK, Striped jersey top, feathered jacquard skirt and plexiglass embellished necklace PRADA, Tights SOCKSHOP and her own jewellery
Oscar wears Camp collar floral cotton shirt RICHARD JAMES, Oversized wool denim trousers DIOR HOMME, Pin buckle leather belt DUNHILL and his own St Christopher pendant
Joana wears Shawl pleated tiered dress LOEWE and her own jewellery
Isabelle wears Cotton cape and dress CHRISTIAN DIOR and her own shoes and jewellery
Rod wears Cotton garment dyed gabardine coat and trousers JIL SANDER, Nylon printed shirt PRADA, Monorunner sneakers OUR LEGACY
Carvell wears Hooded sweatshirt CP COMPANY Ripstop trousers and ripstop long coat PRADA
Oscar wears Calfskin blazer and pin buckle leather belt DUNHILL, Zip-up shirt FILA Wide-leg trousers GIORGIO ARMANI
Opposite: Carvel wears Nappa suede bomber jacket PRESIDENTâ€™S, Merino wool turtleneck knit JOHN SMEDLEY
Hair Takuya Uchiyama Make-up Angela Davis Deacon using Paulaâ€™s Choice Photographic assistants Noemie Reijnen Caitlin Chescoe Styling assistant Vincent Loh
Casting director Chloe Rosolek Models Carvell at Models 1 Isabelle and Gretel Rose Petal, Joana Oz, Rosie, Rod at UGLY Models Agency and Tarek at The Squad
Monumental painter, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, father and man about town: Port meets Julian Schnabel, the Brooklyn-born Renaissance man Words Kyle Chayka Photography Michael Avedon Styling Dan May
Julian wears Strip-trimmed wool peacoat GUCCI at MR PORTER
Even if you don’t know who lives there, the home and studio of the painter Julian Schnabel is a familiar sight for denizens of downtown Manhattan. As the West Village stretches out toward the water, a pale pink tower rises out of blocks of low apartment buildings and townhouses. This is Palazzo Chupi, a residence that Schnabel designed and built in 2009, so called after the nickname of his second wife, Olatz López Garmendia. The structure, with its stepped-back floors, curved windows and arabesque arcades, resembles a cross between a modern condo and a medieval castle in Convivencia Spain. To visit Schnabel, one must first make a procession through Palazzo Chupi’s imposing wooden doors on the ground floor and into a tall, dark elevator that features a wall-size mirror, pointed ceiling and a woven bench, in high Gothic style. The doors open on to a sudden mirage, or so it seems: a room of billowing red velvet curtains, stone tiles and enormous paintings covering every available patch of wall – the domain of a deposed monarch in exile perhaps, or one of the best-known and yet least-understood living artists in the world. Only when the eyes adjust to the sudden light might Schnabel appear, behind a long table stacked with art books. Schnabel’s dog, Buddy, a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback-bloodhound mix, is the first to greet me when I arrive, as the artist hangs up a call. He’s dressed in his signature pyjama pants and an aging t-shirt: scruffy, dishevelled, grey sunglasses over his eyes. He hasn’t been sleeping well: “Tired, so tired.” Schnabel has good reason to be exhausted. We meet the day after the 65-year-old artist opened a new solo show at the Pace Gallery presenting a series of pieces called ‘Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave)’. The works are heavy wooden supports covered in shards of broken crockery, a strategy that made the artist’s reputation in the 1980s, but one he has rarely returned to, until now. The crockery has been coated in sweeps of green paint, forming the rosebush’s leaves, with blushing pink flowers blooming from the ground. Two summers ago, Schnabel was visiting the cemetery where Van Gogh is buried, in Auverssur-Oise, to the north of Paris. “There were these rose bushes with these pink roses, and there’s this black wall around the cemetery that had little white stones in it,” he says. The scene
provided the impetus for some dozen paintings, which hang, stately, at Pace, like a room of Monets at the Museum of Modern Art, pre-historicised. “There’s a work ethic in these paintings, a paintedness that is a very old-fashioned way of being a painter,” Schnabel continues. The artist speaks with a gruff, rumbling practicality and a kind of stoned eloquence. One idea bleeds smoothly if not always concisely into the next. Following along is like taking the New York City subway: you know where you end up, but not always how you got there. Schnabel is a native son of Brooklyn whose parents didn’t have much in the way of artistic sensibility. He resolved to be an artist when his family moved to Brownsville, Texas, where he took up surfing and eventually attended the University of Houston, before mounting a successful return to New York via the esteemed Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum. To fund his painting, he also worked as a diner chef. The grandeur of Schnabel’s current surroundings and the Pace exhibition is all of a piece with the artist’s carefully cultivated mystique. For better or worse the representative icon of 1980s New York City painting, in all its excesses, and the mascot of the neo-expressionist wave that preoccupied painters at the time: these days the artist is famous for being famous. The New York Times called him “the carnival man of contemporary art” as far back as 1982. Schnabel lived on and off in the Chelsea Hotel. Jean-Michel Basquiat considered the painter too domineering to collaborate with, he and Andy Warhol. He was there providing credibility when David Bowie and William Boyd made up the fictitious abstract-expressionist painter Nat Tate in 1998. Schnabel and his several ex-wives and art-world model girlfriends, and his now-adult children – son Vito and daughter Stella – have been mainstays of the society pages ever since. Another factor has increased Schnabel’s public notoriety. He leveraged his fame into Hollywood as well, tapping friendly actors and funding films with his own fortune. The results, movies like Basquiat (in which Bowie plays Warhol) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, display a unique visual sensibility. A new film project will explore the life of his most recent inspiration, Van Gogh, succeeding his paintings. The native son of Brooklyn is treading his way into art history.
Painting on the left wall: ‘The Sky of Illimitableness II’, 2012 Middle of picture: Taxidermied bear Sculpture on the right: Untitled, 1990
“The grandeur of Schnabel’s current surroundings and the Pace exhibition is all of a piece with the artist’s carefully cultivated mystique.”
Above: Flemish Tapestry, 17th century. The tapestry illustrates the episode when the Roman emperor met the soothsayer Spurina, who warned him of his imminent death. Collection of Julian Schnabel
Opposite: Schnabel in his studio, NYC. standing in front of his painting: Untitled, 2016. Julian wears Hooded tracksuit jacket GUCCI
â€œI want things to be able to be different and address other things, rather than make the same thing over and over.â€?
88 Valerio III’, 1989 ‘The
Yet Schnabel’s new rose period presents a mystery. These are quiet, contemplative paintings, more introverted than anything Schnabel has done in decades. What happened to the bad boy of the ’80s, the builder of pink towers, the unrepentant enfant terrible of the art world? Schnabel’s salon, the room where I meet him, is hung with paintings from the various phases of his long career: an autobiographical solo exhibition that continues throughout his home, hung between eclectic artefacts like a toreador costume and a Chinese idol. In the kitchen is an inchoate work from the ’70s, a dark canvas fixed with shelf protrusions and painted with wandering lines, somewhere between neo-expressionism and Arte Povera. Two of the more recent series much in evidence are the ‘Navigation Drawings’, maps with sweeps of thin, translucent paint; and the ‘Goat’ paintings, in which a photograph of a stuffed version of the titular animal is set against a swatch of 19th-century wallpaper and daubed once more. The rose pieces represent another turn. Schnabel reclines on one side of a long couch and I sit in a throne-like chair beside it, positioned like a therapist to his patient, but the painter gestures for me to sit with him. He eases back further. “I want things to be able to be different and address other things, rather than make the same thing over and over,” he says, gesturing at the work around him. To make the paintings, Schnabel starts by attaching unpainted broken crockery to the wooden supports in an all-over sprawl of fragments. Bits of teacups and plates with leaf patterns around the edges are visible in the final works, as is one toy treasure chest. It doesn’t matter much what material the artist uses: in the end it becomes transmuted. “It really is junk, and it’s treated like junk,” he says. “At some moment it does an about face and pulls itself together.” In the new series, that means when the crockery is covered in paint – in parts loose and thinned with Liquin and in others thick and opaque – it somehow becomes nature itself. Step back from the wall and the paintings suddenly snap into focus; looking at them is eerily like seeing a rosebush outside at a distance. 90
Keeping the paintings alive, moving between descriptive and abstract, image and object, is part of what drew Schnabel to the process. “You ever see paintings of flowers that are really browbeaten? You feel like, okay, just kill that damn flower,” he says. “I think in these particular paintings it’s impossible to separate the flowers from the plates or the leaves from the plates. The paintings seem to be hovering just in front of the material. When it kind of looks like you didn’t do anything, that’s the best.” Many of the pieces were created outdoors, a fact that might surprise those who don’t think of Schnabel as a Courbet-esque easel painter traipsing through the woods. He spent his time observing nature, and seems to have got lost in the process. “The more I worked on the paintings, sap green came in, and it was more like the colour of moss. Then depending on how much varnish I put in the paint, it got more translucent and the white would come through and it seemed like sunlight,” he says. “It’s funny how the plates themselves turn into leaves without trying to draw leaves. They just seem to have this natural concurrence of shadow and form that seemed like it was a space that you recognised.” This strategy, with its outdoorsy nostalgia, marks a departure from Schnabel’s early plate paintings, which used the ceramic to a cubist effect, violently breaking up the space of the image and emphasising the materiality of the object rather than allowing it to cohere, as the rose pieces do. “In the first plate paintings the notion of fragmentation is such a big deal,” he says. To illustrate his point, Schnabel rises from the couch and suggests we proceed a few floors down in Palazzo Chupi to his son Vito’s house. A 30-year-old art dealer and impresario who has been linked to Demi Moore and Heidi Klum, Vito keeps an apartment in the building. We head to the elevator and appear in a similarly styled apartment, walking unannounced into the empty living room, where soaring woodpanelled walls are hung with contemporary art, many pieces by the painters’ painter, Joe Bradley: an acquired taste. The coffee table, filled with luminous blue matter, comes courtesy of Yves Klein. (For the Schnabels, there may well Painting on left: ‘Portrait of Tatiana Lisovskaia As The Duquesa De Alba II’, 2014
“Schnabel sinks gratefully into the red velvet couch, going fully horizontal. He brings with him not one but two pairs of the grey sunglasses.”
Painting in centre: ‘Eulalio Epiclantos After Seeing St. Jean Vianney on the Plains of the Cure d'Ars’, 1986
Large chairs in centre of room: Pair of Louis XVI-style Bergeres, 19th century
On table: Anatomical skeleton of a crocodile skull
Painting: â€˜Ascension IBâ€™, 2015 Chair in front of painting: Untitled, 2016. Painted bronze with velvet cushion
Painting: Untitled (Chinese), 2004 Chairs: Untitled, 2013. Painted bronze with velvet cushion
“As Matisse notoriously said, a canvas can be ‘like a good armchair’.”
be no distance at all between life and art.) Schnabel sinks gratefully into the red velvet couch, going fully horizontal. He brings with him not one but two pairs of the grey sunglasses. “I came back from Europe on Monday; I haven’t stopped really. I did the installation on Tuesday. I’m kind of going in and out of being sleepy. I have to watch myself.” He goes on to describe how, in a semi-conscious daze, he recently told his daughter Stella, “If it’s expensive, count me in”: a slogan from a T-shirt he saw in Switzerland. He closes the living room’s long blinds, and turns up the lights so we can see two of his plate paintings from the ’80s: one depicting rose bushes in winter, covered in shattered white plates, and another of a demonic rust-red figure, the word ‘four’ inscribed in large letters. They look like ritualistic totems in comparison to the rose paintings – a translation of early 20th-century German expressionism into a more concrete form. As we lie on the couch gazing up at the paintings, I try again to get a sense of what the new flower pieces mean to Schnabel. Why such a traditional subject matter? Why Van Gogh? Why the morbid background of the grave? When talking to artists, there are certain patterns that emerge, no matter what kind of work the artist makes, no matter how famous or obscure they are. One is that they don’t like to be tied to their influences, even if they are undeniable art-historical reference points. Hence Schnabel’s dismissal of my initial suggestion of Cy Twombly as a comparison for his rose paintings. Schnabel is a fan of the late painter, whose play between figuration and abstraction his own work echoes, but Twombly’s flowers aren’t his favourite, he says. Still, I can’t help but be reminded of Twombly’s series of peonies, painted in the 2000s, late in his life. These huge canvases, with cloud-like bursts of blossoms on grounds saturated with colour, were inspired by a verse by the 17th-century Japanese poet and Basho disciple Takarai Kikaku, memorialising a fierce samurai who nevertheless took time to smell the flowers: Ah! The peonies For which Kusunoki Took off his Armour The poem represents a climactic resignation to beauty that seems to be everywhere in Schnabel’s recent work, as well as in his attitude towards his career. I think it helps explain
the rose period, too. The sight of the flowers – and the bohemian life of the artist who appreciates them – is irresistible. What else is there to do save surrender? Schnabel’s hedonism, the lifestyle of the bravura aesthete who lives his tastes no matter if his audience agrees with them, seems justified under Kikaku’s credo. The beauty of flowers serves no purpose to us, yet we appreciate them all the more for it. Much of art, too, is fundamentally useless. Sometimes, it exists only to provide some respite of pleasure. As Matisse notoriously said, a canvas can be “like a good armchair”. This is not the flaw that many critics make it out to be. Another reality of conversations with artists is that any attempt to describe their work to them will inevitably fail. This constant fallingshort brings to mind the paradox of trying to interpret art in the first place: the experience of viewing it is never the same, nor often remotely similar, to the process of making it, of having your nose up to the canvas and your brush in the paint. The piece often doesn’t mean to its viewer what it means to its creator. “You’re doing something and people are all around you, but they don’t see what you see and they don’t know what you’re doing,” Schnabel says. It’s this gap that the artist hopes to represent in his film about Van Gogh, now that he has put an end to the rose series, he says. He can let the audience in on the process of artmaking from the painter’s perspective, even as the characters in the movie remain distant from it. Showing the reality of Van Gogh’s life and work seems to be a way for Schnabel to reconcile his own fame with the fact of his ongoing artistic practice, though his own career couldn’t be more different than the post-Impressionists’ – Schnabel has sold far more than one canvas in his lifetime. “The movie’s about painting. Van Gogh as a human being has been highly mythologised; his death and his ear have been mythologised. It would be nice to make a movie about a guy everybody thinks they know about, but maybe they might be surprised,” Schnabel says. Over the course of our conversation he pauses for longer and longer moments, either fighting sleep or diving into an inner landscape, imagining the work to come. In fact, Schnabel responded to Van Gogh in the past. The 1985 canvas ‘The Walk Home’ – an enormous tripartite panel covered in broken ceramic through which can be seen a golden forest occluded by looming abstract black shapes – was inspired by a trip to Arles, where
Centre sculpture: Urs Fischer ‘Julian’, 2014
“Painting seems to last a long time. It’s a wonderful refuge. The painted world is a place where you can reside outside of the world of everything else.”
Julian wears Hooded tracksuit jacket GUCCI Directly behind him is: Untitled, 2016
the earlier painter had lived. “I imagined Van Gogh was walking through a park in Arles on a cold February day,” he says. The plates become an echo of Van Gogh’s thick impasto brushstrokes, which gain their own materiality. What’s remarkable about the piece is its hushed unease. Van Gogh worked in solitude, was shunned by his colleagues and died unacknowledged, though the remainder of the 20th century transformed him into a genius – indeed, the archetypal genius of modern art. I ask the question: Does Schnabel actually identify with the long-gone painter? The answer is yes. It’s perhaps not quite about his genius, or his posthumous fame, but the sense that he remains misunderstood, that his mythology has expanded to the detriment of the work. Schnabel brings up the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where crowds block his paintings and the gift shop sells ‘Starry Night’ kitsch. “The advertisement becomes more visible than art,” he says. “In between that and the crowd the art gets more difficult to see.” Through all the fame, through the highprofile relationships; Hollywood successes and flops; improvised real-estate projects and the ups and downs of a life spent in one of the harshest creative industries around, making art has been Schnabel’s one staple. It is what still defines him. “Wherever I go I see paintings,” he says. “If I’m directing a movie, I always get a place I can work. I’m always painting when I’m alone.” By this point, the long afternoon has overtaken the city, the sunlight is starting to dim, and Vito’s living room is hushed and enclosed, an unreal space filled with the living detritus of culture. The roses, to offer up my own paltry interpretation, are an effort to seek solace in the rush of time, a way to begin to find a place in history, if there is one to be found. That the blooms the paintings depict will fade is inevitable, but Schnabel has captured them, to set against every image of every flower that will ever be made by an artist. Here is his enduring offering. “Painting seems to last a long time. It’s a wonderful refuge. The painted world is a place where you can reside outside of the world of everything else,” Schnabel says, and pauses for the longest time, reclining flat on the couch, eyes closed, searching for something internal and then coming back up with it, a vulnerable twinge in his voice communicating a universal ache. “In there, there’s a great freedom. Obviously, there’s this crazy relationship with eternity. It’s a denial of death.”
Hanging on wall: Untitled, 2015. Below it: Anatomical skeleton of a dog 98 (20th century) on top of an Austrian armoire, circa 1800–1850
Julian wears Strip-trimmed wool peacoat GUCCI at MR PORTER and tracksuit trousers GUCCI
By Robin Broadbent and Will Wiles
New This page and previous: Will wears chambray rabbit print zip-up shirt PRADA
w Yo architecture
Robin Broadbent and Will Wiles examine the influence of the industrial revolution on New York and consider the era's profound effect on the aesthetic of the city
New York is a city haunted by the Gothic. Gothic touches stalk through its buildings, even buildings that are outwardly art deco or modernist. Think of the scowling chrome gargoyles of the Chrysler Building: medieval cathedral details expressed in the language of the automobile hood ornament. Or the pointed arches of Minoru Yamasaki’s lost World Trade Center towers. But there’s another New York, one that belongs more closely to the Gothic. There is the city of world famous landmarks: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Guggenheim. The other New York is more unusual, identified by aspects of its street scene, none of them tied to a particular location: water tanks on top of apartment buildings, iron fire escapes, steam drifting from pavement grates and the pillars and rivets of overhead rail lines. These features might not be unique to New York, but they immediately speak of the city, as is shown time and again in popular culture. Saul Bass’s poster for West Side Story (1961) needs only the grids and diagonals of a fire escape to evoke New York. Similarly, the poster for Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) has a generic roof-line, made into New York by water tanks and fire escapes. “New York wears its skeleton on the outside,” says architecture writer Geoff Manaugh, Brooklyn resident, editor of Bldgblog.com and author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City. “The innards of the city are articulated – accreted over generations of renovations and new ownership and infrastructural updates – which results in these things building up like shells on the outside of buildings.” But that doesn’t mean it’s a legible city, or one that makes its inner workings clear. On the contrary, the visibility of the city’s infrastructure conceals as much as it reveals. “What seems really Gothic about New York is that peculiar mix between the visible and the invisible,” Manaugh says, “because the former implies that the city is readily available for you in terms of analysis and comprehension, and yet right when you think that that’s
the case, you realise that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and there are all of these other invisible systems running beneath the surface that you don’t have access to.” A steam vent is no more than a hint. It is more mystery than explanation; its visibility does not clarify its purpose. “For every steam vent, pumping steam into the street in that famous New York scene that you see every winter, you have the entire hidden system of steam delivery that still operates in parts of Manhattan, which many people don’t know about or think no longer exists,” Manaugh says. He suggests that this may be why New York, alongside London, is prone to urban legend: the continual hunt for forgotten infrastructure, lost rivers, abandoned train stations, and so on. It’s this tension between the visible and invisible, between the exposed and the buried, that is expressed in New York’s fictional alter ego: Gotham. Best known as the home of the venerable DC Comics superhero Batman, Gotham took its name from a 19th-century nickname for New York, most famously used by Washington Irving in Salmagundi (1807). Corrupt, crime-infested, overbuilt and decaying, Gotham is the archetypal shadow to New York – just as the brooding vigilante Batman is to billionaire playboy philanthropist Bruce Wayne. Manaugh calls it “New York City with the contrast cranked up, so that the darkness is even more abyssal and the bright lights are almost heavenly.” It was most memorably portrayed by the designer Anton Furst in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman. Furst described his Gotham as being “like Hell had burst through the pavements and kept on growing”. It’s a brutishly infrastructural city: a fever dream of New York, in which buildings have giant spanning trusses and external scaffolds, bridges pile upon bridges, and everything is heavy masonry and wrought iron – which is to say, soot and rust. It’s always raining and, of course, steaming. Furst’s nightmarish Gotham was heavily influenced by the shadow-play and angles of German expressionist filmmaking of the 1920s. In
particular, it took note from Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece Metropolis, which was set in a decadent, teeming, multi-level termite mound of a city. And here Gotham loops back to New York: the city on many levels. Between about 1890 and 1950, when New York was the most advanced urban form in the world (and thus the assumed model of the future), it was its thrusting skyline that was the clearest rupture with the European cities of the past. But when that future was depicted – such as on the famous frontispiece of Moses King’s King’s Dream of New York (1908) – the evertaller skyscrapers were accompanied by myriad bridges at different levels, linking up (and passing through) the city’s towers. It’s a vision that recurs, just as futurists keep returning to (and filling in) Tokyo Bay. In 1925 the architect Raymond Hood, who would later contribute to the design of the Rockefeller Center, proposed to ring Manhattan with vast inhabited bridges. In 1930, Hugh Ferriss, who had drawn Hood’s proposal, put forward his own vision of multi-levelled roads piercing skyscraper megastructures. Ferriss, a master draughtsman, had his own part to play in shaping Gothic New York. In a series of famous drawings, he extrapolated the possible results of the city’s 1916 zoning law, which required that skyscrapers step back as they ascend, so as not to block sunlight from the streets below. The law created the distinctive ziggurat-shaped Manhattan tower, and Ferriss’s maximal designs spell out its Gothamesque implications. “The outlines of the ultimate Manhattan have been drawn once and for all,” writes Rem Koolhaas in Delirious New York, his dissertation on the accidental genius of the city. No other city has been so shaped by its own shadows. This inter-war sense of the multi-storey, multi-level future came from the existing urban form – for instance the Manhattan Municipal Building (1912): a heavy, looming Beaux Arts tower that has an arched roadway running through its base and a subway station incor-
Opening spread: Crosby Street/Howard Street. Second spread: AT&T Building 32 Avenue of the Americas. Opposite: New Museum 235 Bowery Street
porated into its foundations. Eventually, via Lang’s Metropolis, these visions reach Furst’s Gotham, no longer as the future but as a realised, and decaying, past. But a more significant influence lies just metres away from the Municipal Building, across a heavily landscaped but still intimidating tangle of roads. Brooklyn Bridge might be the key to understanding Gothic Manhattan. Designed by John Augustus Roebling and completed in 1883, the bridge was the first to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. Its immense granite towers are overtly Gothic, with high pointed arches, and, at the time of their construction, they were the tallest structures in North America, ending the primacy of the spire of Trinity Church on the downtown skyline. They were, arguably, the city’s first skyscrapers, and their appearance was a shattering eruption of megastructural modernity into a low-rise city. The bridge itself is multi-level, with the pedestrian path elevated above the rail lines and roadways. It even has a whiff of Gotham-esque corruption, as substantial bribes were paid to get it approved. Its supporting cables are reinforced by diagonal webbing: an unusual touch that gives the structure a kind of double emphasis. “It makes a visual spectacle of its own support system,” as Manaugh puts it, “implying hidden levels of connection and support that you had previously been unaware of.” Always backwards-looking, Gothic New York may now be firmly in the past. Tim Burton’s Batman came at a significant date: 1989. The grime, crime and decline of the 1970s and 1980s were in reverse, but as they faded, so did a particular idea of New York. “Building materials had shifted into a different era,” Manaugh says. “We were losing the sense of shadow and mass, of masonry and brickwork and all the things that used to give cities their heavily shadowed, dark, Gothic character. We [began] moving into a different era of transparency and glass, which has a very different effect psychologically.” In this richer, safer new New York, Gothamesque environments have been heavily recuperated – most significantly, the High Line. Once an elevated freight railway, then a ruin, the High Line is now a much-copied linear park in a hugely trendy neighbourhood. Corruption and noir are still very possible in a cityscape of glass curtain walls and open-plan offices, but they take on a different atmosphere. It’s significant that Christopher Nolan’s 21st-century reimagining of Batman has a much more Miesian feel. Nostalgia is a dangerous delusion – there is no benefit in returning to a darker, dirtier, more dangerous city. But what the Gothic provides is a setting, which the postmodern glassscape often omits to do. The Gothic is atmosphere or it is nothing, which is what unites steaming vents with gargoyled spires. New York has not lost that, not yet; indeed, the physical reality of the steam, the shadow and the fire escapes can be a shock for the visitor – that it’s all really real, and not a poster or a stage set. 106
401 Broadway and Walker Street
108 Park Avenue. Opposite: Rockefeller Center. Following spread: 1285 Avenue of the Americas 432
112 A series of signage from Bowery, Crosby Street and La Esquina 114 Kenmare Street
Chrysler Building 405 Lexington Avenue
Bank of America Tower One Bryant Park. Opposite: 1221 and 1251 Avenue of the Americas
Broadway and Broome Street
Top: King Street. Bottom: Spring Street. Opposite: 80 Varick Street
1 — The Superloon by Jasper Morrison assembled in the Flos warehouse 2 — The Superloon by Jasper Morrison assembled in the Flos warehouse 3 — The Superloon by Jasper Morrison assembled in the Flos warehouse.
1 case study
As New York’s population boomed in the middle years of the 19th century, hundreds of overcrowded, wood-framed tenement houses were built: the tall, plain, brick-faced buildings that are still such a distinctive sight in many parts of the city. These residences – built and (badly) maintained by exploitative landlords – were appalling fire traps, leading to regular tragedies. In 1860, after a fire in which 10 people died, the state mandated that tenements should be fitted with a means of escape. But exceptions and laxity abounded until the foundation of the New York City Tenement House Department in 1900, and the passing of the landmark Tenement House Act in 1901. This act mandated the sturdy, zig-zag iron fire escape we now think of as typical. Silk Exchange Building 487 Broadway
Exterior fire escapes had surprising benefits. Their landings provided a tiny, social outdoor area for apartments that lacked open space, and in hot summer months, before air conditioning, it was common practice to sleep there – as seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window. And, arguably, for all their noir shadow-casting, they made the high-rise city a less forbidding place, giving a language of vertical access to streets that might otherwise be impervious chasms. Hardly surprising then that they should be playgrounds for transgression and escape, from the forbidden romance of West Side Story, to any number of chase scenes in film and television. — Will Wiles 123
A series of stairwells from SoHo, Greene Street. Following spread: Kenmare Street (Little Italy)
2 case study
water towers down appearance is often mistaken for obsolescence. In fact, the wood New York is inseparable from its skyline. To imagine the city is to drift is left untreated and unpainted so as not to taint the drinking water above, where glass, steel and spires meet the east-coast breeze in a held inside. crystallising moment of urban romanticism. Yet place yourself in the Industrial New York was once a labouring hub, spread across dockpedestrian and it is the water tank that emerges into view as a true symyards and factories. In the digital now, where the online, inner workbol of the city. Not as aspirational as the skyscraper, yet just as ubiquiings of a city are often incognito, international and incomprehensible, tous, these humble cedar-wood capsules have been holding the city’s the stout figure of the water tower has a grounding effect – its prowater since the late-1800s and deserve their full reappraisal. cesses are simple, reliable and hyper-local. Like taxi drivers and girder-perched construction workers, water The city’s water towers seem to endure; long may they live in the tanks are a symbol of working New York. Constructed on site by hand, gritty, quotidian reality of that nonstop metropolis. the average tank holds 10,000 gallons of water and gives 30 to 35 years — George Kafka of service to the city’s homes and fire department. Today, their runLafayette Street and Jersey Street
56 Leonard Street Herzog & de Meuron Goldstein, Hill & West Architects
3 case study
bridges As you would expect for a city built on an archipelago, New York has a sey across the far wider Hudson River. Its unclad, unadorned box-frame superb assortment of bridges. Manhattan’s first connection to the maintowers were admired by modernist patriarch Le Corbusier, who called it “the most beautiful bridge in the world”, and it makes a magnificent land was built in 1693, across the narrow creek that once separated the gateway to the city. island from the Bronx, giving the Bronx neighbourhood of Kingsbridge The Brooklyn has the iconic tourist value and the George Washington its name. The Brooklyn Bridge, the city’s most famous, was completed has the architectural cachet, but the city’s most underrated bridge might in 1883, linking Manhattan to the then-independent city of Brooklyn on be the Queensboro, which (as the name implies) connects midtown ManLong Island. The first cable suspension bridge of its kind, John Augustus Roebling’s gothic giant began Manhattan’s tradition of adventurous hattan to the borough of Queens. Completed in 1909, the Queensboro bridge engineering. is an astonishing gothic cathedral of structural steel, a triple-towered The Manhattan Bridge, a little up the East River from the Brookdinosaur striding across the primordial swamp of the East River. It’s the bridge that can be seen in the poster for Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979). lyn, was the earliest example of modern suspension bridge design. In — Will Wiles 1936 came the George Washington Bridge, linking the city to New JerBrooklyn Bridge
Top: Brooklyn Bridge. Above: Manhattan Bridge
Top: Williamsburg Bridge. Above: Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge / 59th Street Bridge
Enthusiastic humourist and reluctant current affairs pundit Adam Gopnik has been a feature of the New Yorkerâ€™s hallowed pages for over 30 years, distilling every topic from pet dogs to Americaâ€™s rampant gun crime epidemic
Words by Colin Stokes Photography by Brigitte Lacombe
“I’m the world’s most unsuccessful writing teacher because I’m too impatient. But, when I do teach, one of the things I always say is, ‘Begin with an image rather than an idea.’” Adam Gopnik gave me this edict nestled in the corner window of his Upper East Side apartment, backlit by an unusually bright February sky that would later darken into a thunderstorm. Dressed in a midnight blue collarless shirt with two buttons open and slim black trousers, the long-time New Yorker writer cut a picture of dignified relaxation. We held matching mugs from a Hoboken synagogue – relics from a speaking gig of his – that bore muted pastel Stars of David, and contained powerful coffee. “Do you caffeinate?” Gopnik had asked me in an email earlier that day. “My wife makes Icelandic coffee, strong enough for a spoon to stand up in.” Naturally, I’d responded in the affirmative, and, as we waited in the kitchen for it to brew, he explained that the strong coffee we were about to drink is popular there because it gives Icelanders’ extremities better circulation, combatting the freezing surroundings that gave their country its name. He had written for the New Yorker about the coffee a couple of years back, and hadn’t gone back to the regular joe since. Icelandic kaffi made, we adjourned to the living room, to sit on a couch. As we were about to sit, it was determined that it wasn’t the ideal setup, so we adjourned again to the
corner window where he would recommend starting a piece of writing with an image. The corner window had a white radiator bench, white pillows and surrounded a white table; everything seemed like it would have been devastated by a coffee spill. He guarded his cup closely on his lap as we spoke. Absent from his lap was Gopnik’s dog, an amiable Havanese called Butterscotch, who was instead lying on the floor, gnawing on a cylindrical chew toy. I asked about the dog, and Gopnik mentioned a piece called ‘How the Dog Became the Master’ that he’d written for the New Yorker in 2011 about buying her, which also explored how dogs came to be household pets. One theory, he told me, went that wolves had been domesticated by people who brought them into their homes and trained them. He thought it more likely that wolves had domesticated themselves by inserting themselves into human-inhabited areas. Butterscotch, not visibly wolf-like, appeared uninterested into the area we were inhabiting. One might get the impression from these two snippets of conversation that Gopnik has a penchant for bringing up things he’s written about, but that’s not the case – it happens because it’s almost unavoidable to discuss something in his daily surroundings which he hasn’t explored in writing. Each aspect of his life has been probed by essay: whether it be his family, his drinks, or his dog, it will likely inspire a story.
Gopnik’s relationship with the New Yorker began with an appreciation for its contributors – he cites James Thurber, EB White and Joe Mitchell, amongst others, as writers who drew his admiration. “It wasn’t that I wanted to write for the New Yorker, it was that I wanted to be a New Yorker writer,” he said. In 1980, after he and his wife, Martha, moved to New York from Montreal, he started submitting Talk of the Town (the magazine’s section devoted to small vignettes of people or places) pieces every week, written in “what I’m sure now was a gratingly puckish” style. “I would slip them under the door at the old building at West Forty-Third street,” he said – the office in Times Square has since been relocated downtown to One World Trade Center, and the submission process has modernised from handing in work in person, too. Success only came after multiple years of rejection. “Every week, they would come bouncing back to me.” His first piece that was accepted, ‘Quattrocento Baseball’, which blended Italian art with the American sport, ran in 1986. “It’s the kind of piece they would probably never publish today,” Gopnik added. What the New Yorker used to publish was sitting on his coffee table. Copies of the magazine from the 1950s were stacked neatly – the vibrant hues of their artwork were protected from the roughness of modern life by transparent plastic covers. Gopnik noted a number of changes in the magazine over the years, but stressed that “it didn’t become less literary.” “We’re a some-
Adam in his living room with, on his right, his son's Taylor acoustic and holding his own “pride and joy”: a Fender D'Aquisto Elite, c.1985.
Early evening, from left to right: Adam’s daughter, Olivia; Adam; son Luke and wife Martha.
what more short-winded magazine than we were back then. But we’re incomparably better on the passing events, whether it’s writing about Trump, or Barry Blitt covers,” he said. (At this point, I should note that I also work for the New Yorker, as the associate cartoon editor, and a writer. Before this interview, Gopnik and I hadn’t interacted beyond a few quiet nods in the hallway. He has not bribed me.) A couple of things haven’t changed about the New Yorker. One is that, since the first issue in 1925, it has always published humour, as well as (and often laced into) its serious writing. Another is the rigorous editing process that each piece is subjected to. When Gopnik closes a piece, it’s “as communal as writing gets. Henry Finder [a senior editor] is on one shoulder, and Ann Goldstein [a senior editor and the head of copy] is on the other shoulder, and then there’s a young fact checker who’s got four degrees in comparative literature and is fluent in Farsi and Russian and three other languages.” On the wall of the current offices is an old framed quotation from the Daily Advance of Lynchburg, Virginia, which said of the New Yorker, "It is a supposedly 'funny' magazine doing one of the most intelligent, honest, publicspirited jobs, a service to civilization, that has ever been rendered by any one publication." The backhanded compliment is at once an ego boost and ego check for the staff. Gopnik finds being funny vitally important. “I value humour in writing more than any single thing, by far. It’s the thing I like most to find in other people’s writing and the thing I’m most pleased with when I can pull it off myself,” he told me. “Kingsley Amis said that
the things he liked best are funny stories with a bit of sex in them. What I like best are funny stories with a bit of sentiment in them. I like them to have a bit of sex, too.” He revealed to me that he’d once wanted to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, when he was a bit younger. Instead, he settles on speaking at the Moth, and countless other live events – he’s spoken in almost every state (one of the Dakotas and Louisiana are missing from his list). “We refer to it in our family as the perpetual tuition tour,” he said. Despite the history of humour in the New Yorker, Gopnik feels that it can’t rest on its reputation. “It’s never funny enough, and I know David feels that too. But I know every New Yorker editor has always felt that the magazine is never funny enough.” Gopnik and Remnick (the aforementioned ‘David’) might have discussed this over fish – they often eat lunch together at the classic Upper West Side deli, Barney Greengrass. Things are harmonious between the two, except for one divisive issue: bagels. Gopnik contends that Montreal’s sweeter, smaller bagels are far better than New York ones, which he thinks are inedible. “It is infuriating to me when people, like David Remnick, for instance, refuse to recognise this easily ascertained fact,” he said with a hyperbolic wink in his tone. Gopnik has tried to calm his bagel-induced homesickness by shipping the bready rings down from Montreal’s famous Fairmount Bagel, and has tried Montrealstyle bagels in a new restaurant in New York, but nothing does the trick – none are as good as the ones his mother makes on her farm in Ontario. The larger, doughier New York bagel,
for Gopnik, is “a form of pastry Trumpism – it’s got to have puff and be elephantised.” Alas, Trump had bled into our conversation like he bleeds into almost every conversation one has these days. Gopnik has written about Trump for the New Yorker extensively in the lead up to, and the fallout from, the election in November, but he feels like he’s been pushed into writing on the subject. “It’s been a source of puzzlement over the years, like Al Pacino in The Godfather III, they keep sticking me back in the punditry corner where I don't feel particularly comfortable.” Still, he recognises that it’s made up a lot of his writing for the magazine recently. “Though I’m an extremely reluctant pundit, that’s become a large part of my work in the last few years – I like to think under the pressure of the exigencies of the world, rather than because I’m becoming grumpier as I age.” Gopnik said that his writing about Trump came as a corollary of his writing about gun control. “If you did minimal work reading social science or looking at comparative anthropology you would know that gun control works to end gun violence.” Firearm deaths in the US happen with the horrific dependability of a Gatling gun, but the government is unwilling to implement gun control measures to curb the violence. Gopnik’s analogy for the dire political situation is medical. “It’s as though we are watching kids die of a ravaging infection, and we know that antibiotics work, but the country is run by a Christian scientist who won't allow us to use them.” After getting his teeth into American rightwing ideology, Trump’s rise in the last election was a natural next subject for Gopnik. Like many Americans, he is distinctly pessimistic about the presidency, and predicts that the current reality-TV-star-led administration, although superficially similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger's governorship in California, “is not going to dispel into a harmless, buffoonish Schwarzeneggerism – this is something really sinister.” Trump’s advisors and cronies are “lunatics… He’s not toying with the lunatics – he's living with the lunatics.” Of course, Gopnik didn’t come out of the womb writing for the New Yorker. He worked at Knopf, and then at GQ, where he worked his way up to be grooming editor. Even though he left long ago, he still maintains some grooming tips that he learned in his time at the magazine. “One of my co-workers told me that we only really have two things: things that can tauten you, and things that can moisten you. I try to leave the house taut and moist.” Gopnik isn’t just taut and moist – as an avid user of cologne, he also smells good. “I have an undue fascination with scents,” he told me. “‘Real’ men choose one scent and wear it
“Kingsley Amis said that the things he liked best are funny stories with a bit of sex in them. What I like best are funny stories with a bit of sentiment in them. I like them to have a bit of sex, too.” 141
Caption upta essendit volentur, quam venihil in recatur serum facerup taerferem vit verae volorrorem andipsa ndanducia simet pelibeaqui 142
through life, but I love to dabble. It makes up for the absence of adultery in my life.” Hermès is a favourite brand, for which Gopnik said he has “a great weakness”. “I spend my mornings alphabetising my collection,” he joked. Beside his fictional cologne alphabetising, and writing for the New Yorker, Gopnik is often juggling a number of other projects. A longstanding one is a musical, titled The Most Beautiful Room in New York, which will open in May in New Haven, Connecticut. Gopnik wrote the libretto and story, working with David Shire, the film composer, and it revolves around an anarchist pizza parlour, operated by a couple in Bensonhurst, a neighbourhood in south Brooklyn. Their two children live upstairs, and the restaurant serves slices below. The project began eight years ago as an adaptation of Through the Children's Gate, a novel Gopnik wrote about his family life in New York after moving back from Paris in the early 2000s. But soon they changed the protagonist's art form to food. Gopnik reasoned that "writers don't do anything, so, over time, the writer evolved into a chef." While Gopnik doesn't have aspirations to cook pizza, when he first came to New York, it was his dream to be a librettist. As our interview drew to a close, Gopnik brought me from his living room into his office. His laptop sat on a large desk surrounded by rows of photos like an amphitheatre of viewers, looking on at the show of his writing. Behind the photos, numerous piles of paper were stacked under stones the size of a fried egg, but thicker and beautifully smooth – under each rock was a label with the name of the project that lay underneath. Gopnik explained that the stones are from Richard Avedon’s house in Montauk. Avedon, the famed photographer, was a friend and mentor of his, despite the fact that they worked in different disciplines. Under one of the rocks are the notes for Gopnik’s upcoming book, At the Strangers’ Gate, in which he writes about his move to New York, and ends with him starting to work at the New Yorker. The cover shows Gopnik and Martha on their wedding day: she stands leaning over from behind the chair he sits in to kiss him, obscuring both their faces. As I walked back into the living room, his family was milling about in the kitchen, and other duties beckoned. “I should go back to Heidegger,” he said. He’s not writing about the philosopher, but his son, Luke is for college. Hopefully he begins with an image.
Artwork for Gopnik's new novel, attached with magnets to his fridge.
In At the Strangers’ Gate I write about my first real job as an editor and writer, at a men’s fashion magazine, begun while my new wife and I were living in the smallest basement apartment in Manhattan – and how I scored a minor triumph by putting the headline “Chiaroscuro Chic” on a spread of linen shirts. I then go on to talk about my brief career in fashion journalism. could be conjured, since the truth of it was that the obvious rules (soap, toothbrush) were the only rules that counted, while the rest were not rules but mere tics and half-truths and why-nots. I busied myself rewriting advice that the freelancers and staff writers offered on how to style your hair and how many times a week to shampoo it, given all the styling. The truth is that there is no right way to apply moisturiser, because there is no wrong way to apply it. The verb and the noun are the same, the action and the item identical. You… moisturise. You don’t moisturise well or ill. You’re dry, then you’re… moist. Yet, having invented a rule about, say, shaving in the shower, I followed it religiously. I became a true believer of a faith I’d fabricated. Indeed, to this day, when I read something in a fashion magazine on a plane – a nutrition tip, a recipe – in Men’s Journal or Men’s Health or something else for men, I take it instantly to heart, and attempt to apply it, despite knowing, in some recess of my consciousness, that it must have been invented by a freelancer just as young, ignorant and pressed as I was. I have drunk eight glasses of water, started the day with coconut oil, fasted for 18 hours to improve my digestion… Perhaps the truth is that fashion can only be diktats, and our respect for fashion is our secret respect for the necessity of an arbitrary principle in life. If there were a logic to summer shirts, after all, everyone would have learned it by now. Not long after, the English editor of the magazine called me in – I was at first in a Frick-like panic about having somehow lost the key – and offered me a promotion. I was offered the full-time, in-the-office job of grooming editor. I pointed out that I would still have to be at graduate school, but, somewhat to my shock, they agreed to let me come into the office three days a week, while devoting Mondays and Fridays to school. Eight words had done all that, lifted me from the ranks of the indigent freelancer to the truly employed, a man with a job. (I devoted Mondays and Fridays instead to my own writing, but they didn’t have to know that. Meanwhile, studying for the PhD orals would somehow take care of itself, though how, I wasn’t sure. The habit of dividing myself, amoeba-like, into new entities, each part assigned an ambitious piece of work, so that there could end up being five or six simultaneous versions of me, all working on different projects, was something I picked up then, and never entirely lost. It means a lot of work gets done, but a lot of details get dropped. (The inter-amoebic communication, so to speak, can get disjointed.) It was a real full-time salary – less than it would now take to put one of our children through one month at school, not counting lunch, but at the time it was all we needed to stay in New York and think of finding a new apartment, even. On the day I got the promotion, it began snowing on my way home, and I found Martha and we went out to dinner at one of the German places – we called this one, Kleine Konditorei, “Austrian”, out of some bizarre geographical instinct. The snow fell harder, and we were all alone. I had goulash, and she had goose. Martha had a marzipan cake and I had Black Forest cake. The snow kept falling. We leapt home, one block, through the snowdrifts, even though my sneakers got soaked. Martha’s La Squadra sweater set, with
It was my first time putting words into the centre of anyone’s consciousness, and I felt unreasonably pleased – no, I felt reasonably pleased. All writers ever do is take pre-existing units, words, arrange them, and insert them into other people’s consciousness. Words are always arranged, never invented. That these words were cloyingly arranged and inserted not so much into anyone’s higher consciousness as into the maw of commerce did not alter the poet’s satisfaction. The bard singing Beowulf for a bad king gets as much pleasure from his alliterations as the one who sings for the good one. What he’s after is not the virtue in the king’s heart but the look on their faces. Getting the thrill of the look on their faces is why he invented Grendel. Getting more of it is why he went on to invent Grendel’s mum. The essential magic of writing is elemental – and unlike any other art form. You’re not really making something so much as assembling something – once the assembly is completed, you hope it gives the illusion of originality. I had a professor at the time in Renaissance genre painting – I was getting my PhD in art history even while I was working on a men’s fashion magazine. He pointed out to us once, dreamily, how easy mornings were for Renaissance men, since, as the paintings showed, no one expected their socks to match: you reached into the sock drawer hoping to find an interestingly mated pair. Among many choices of mismatched socks, some mismatched socks match surprisingly well. The socks exist already; the eloquence of their mismatch is your own to make. I have since published 500-page books, have published pages that argued for liberalism, and been whimsical with children and passionate about gun control. I’ve even seen some of the results translated into Italian and Korean – but the secret guilty pleasure of the writer, as opposed to the citizen the writer may also be, is simply the sneaky delight of seeing the words strike home. For the first time in my life, they had. “Chiaroscuro Chic” – the two words shot me to the top of the ladder, although in this case, of course, the top and the bottom were so close together that you could hardly tell them apart. Really, on the strength of six words and two phrases – “Chiaroscuro Chic” and, before that, “The Simple Logic of Summer Shirts” – a career in fashion-editing opened up before me. “Delicious!” he had said. Greatly encouraged, I began to meditate, and then deliver, ukases and interdictions about fashion and grooming from our basement room on East 87th Street. Shave only in the shower! Apply moisturiser no fewer than eight times a day! White socks with jeans were now acceptable! (They were to me, but I had to dress that way.) I realised that writing with certainty was all the certainty writing offered. If you said it, then it was so. I wandered the five steps from the ‘living room’ to the ‘kitchen’ and the bathroom and, on my new bride Martha’s parents’ old jumpy Olivetti, I pounded out, with ever-increasing confidence, rules and diktats and non-negotiable dogmas on grooming. It was slightly frightening to realise how easily fashion and grooming rules and tips could be conjured out of nothing – that out of nothing was in truth the only place whence they 144
adam gopnik its woven top and big zigzag pattern, made her look like a sexy Charlie Brown – or like the little red-haired girl wearing Charlie Brown’s sweater. The snow kept falling outside our window. I was happier than I had ever been. I haven’t been happier since. I would never be so happy again. They put me in charge of all the grooming copy in the magazine – lotions, conditioners, cover-ups and shampoos. Not a line about moisturisers could go into the magazine without my scrutinising it first. The things I was not allowed to touch were the things I liked best, the fragrances. I had loved men’s colognes since I was in college, and would have loved to try my hand at editing their copy. But the fragrances belonged to an editor of their own – being a thing of such delicacy and refinement, I assumed, that they demanded a separate set of skills. In reality (as I later learned), it was because they were such an important advertising category that they needed to be treated with more diplomatic expertise – knowing who got how much copy, line for line, Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren, depending on how many ad pages they’d bought – than I was thought to possess. I was given, at last, my own cubicle, commensurate with my stature – in a room that I shared, three days a week, with two other people: a fact checker, the only woman at the magazine, and an accountant, who had been called in to bring some order to what was, apparently, the magazine’s confused balance sheet. He was a subject of secret fun among the staff, who mocked the stiff Styrofoam (polyester, really) jackets he always wore. He had an accountant’s dogged sense of the real amid the rich fantasy life of the editors. This fact of the extreme simplicity of grooming products, especially compared with fashion spreads, was reinforced for me by the most acidic of the older generation of gay editors. “Let’s face it,” he said. “There are two kinds of lotions: one tightens the skin, and the other moistens it.” He shrugged, and then developed a mildly devilish little grin. “Skin is like sex, you know. You can either make it tighter or make it wetter. That’s all. And either one only lasts for minutes – hours, at most.” I blanched a little, but he wasn’t trying to tease me. He was right: life is either tighter or wetter. Astringents and lubricants were all we had to sell, and both were, in every sense, temporary solutions. The attitude of the editors toward their readers, I learned in more detail in my three days a week at the office, was not hostile exactly. But it was condescending, taking the form of absolute refusal to actually use any of the products we turgidly analysed and eagerly pushed upon our readers. “Fashion victims” was their not always unkind phrase for the people who took our counsel seriously. This didn’t make them less eager to impart it pompously. “All I think of fashion is how many white shirts you have for summer,” the editor-inchief confessed, and he was wise enough to know that Gatsby’s famous abundance of coloured shirts in Fitzgerald’s novel was a sign of a touching vulgarity, not high style. There were certain words – I suppose like the words of a sermon, “faith” and “transcendent” and “sacrament” – that they never said, but that still had to be used in print: “sartorial” was one; “stylish” still one more. We might produce a magazine devoted to sartorial stylishness, but we weren’t dumb enough to believe in it ourselves; that’s what gave us style. It was a confounding formula, and, in its way, a disillusioning one: Martha and I had believed in all those pieties, at least a little, had thought that having the one right dress and suit would matter. In the inner temple, they disdained the holy things. Still, making awful puns and creating candied alliterations was a thing I was actually good at. I could make a sort of living at it. It was better than talking about pictures, because it punctured the world; it was like drilling a toggle
bolt hole right into the side of the big store of New York life. Now I could hang up my own shelf. I wrote it; a million print copies showed it. I became a fixture in the office. Eventually, I even got to go to the ‘Clements meetings’. These were high-nervosity, closed-door events, in which a market researcher would come in and supply information about how highly “scored” each page and feature in the magazine was. Invariably, the fashion pages scored high, the feature pages just behind them, and whatever little actual journalism or writing there was scored least. But the highest-scoring page, month after month, was always the same. It was always the very last page in the issue: “Next Month In GQ”, the final page, simply listing, in bullet points, some of the features we would be running in the next issue. There were no pictures, no ‘tags’, no prices. That these features were always essentially indistinguishable from the present month’s features did not alter the excitement the page seemed to create among our readers. Next month’s issue is coming! Next month’s issue would be the one to read! At last, here comes next month. I sensed then an essential truth – or at least as essential as truths can be in the magazine game. Magazines are – or were then, when they mattered more – essentially vehicles of fantasy, far more than even the most hard-headed ones can be of fact, or information of any kind. Every magazine in a sense only exists next month. They sell fables of aspiration, and get their power from being quietly attuned to a social class just beneath the social class they seem to represent. Playboys do not read Playboy, and voguish women do not obsess over Vogue, and 12-year-old, not 17-year-old, girls read Seventeen. Our magazine, ostensibly directed to an audience of upwardly mobile young executives, was read by high-school students. But had we addressed them directly we would have failed, as the Playboy of those days would have if it had taken off its smoking jacket and put on the baseball cap its readers actually wore. An elaborate artifice of shared fantasy had to be sustained in order to sell advertising pages, which was, of course, the aim of the enterprise. The final artifice was… next month. Everything we did, we did in order to sustain the illusion of next month’s issue, when the return of the classic would finally arrive. And yet, even learning all this, I was happy, because at least it seemed a real thing learned. I had held a previous sorta job at the Museum of Modern Art, giving lunchtime lectures, but the lessons in the museum had all been about the fixative power of fantasy: about how people could attach themselves obsessively to art in ways that really only illuminated their own desires. In the fashion world, the lessons were all about how fantasies got made and used and exploited and sold. In the fashion magazine, as a would-be fashion dictator, I was a fish out of water, certainly (I always seemed to be a fish out of water, even when in a backwater pond). One thing you learn about fish out of water, though, is that they are never really out of water. If they were really out of water, they would die. No, what we call a fish out of water is really just a fish in another kind of water, trying to pass as another kind of fish. Since all fish are fish-shaped and live in water, they do better than you might think. A fish in a new kind of water is still… a fish in water. The real problem is that the water is almost always moving faster than the fish knows, and is part of a river or a stream or a current heading toward a bigger body of water with bigger, meaner fish living in it. A fish’s problems are not water. A fish’s problems are always other fish. A fish’s problem is knowing what kind of water he’s in, or should be. It’s the neighbourhood, not the water, that’s the worry for the fish. 145
Wear a part of history.
“The March” Abigail Gray Swartz, February 6, 2017 Multiple styles available
Shop now at newyorker.modthread.com
Commentary Fishing in New York, Death of the yellow taxI, Arriving in Gotham, Eyes of the city.
Remembering Warhol by michael musto The American journalist and actor, and former columnist for the Village Voice, remembers attending Warhol’s funeral, and reflects on the artist’s polarising effect wing and set up a meeting between the three of us at Andy’s Union Square headquarters, the Factory. Bob wanted to pitch a movie idea for Warhol to produce, so I had dreamed up a disaster film parody full of wacky, topical characters – like an actress who’s won two Academy Awards and conspicuously keeps the trophies in her bra. Andy liked that particular detail and was pleasant throughout our pow-wow, but I was so nervous about meeting the century’s greatest creator that I pretty much froze and didn’t say anything else, sitting there as expressionless as a Campbell’s soup can.
“When he walked into a room, you knew you were in the right place. Without him, the scene went into free fall.”
The movie never came to be. But the good thing is that the encounter put me on the King of Pop Art’s radar and, after that, he was always cordial when running into me; he even provided a blurb for the cover of my 1986 nonfiction book, Downtown. (While Andy usually engaged in monosyllabic public emissions like “Wow” or “Great”, his assistant, Benjamin Liu, said I could write whatever blurb I wanted and Andy would sign on to it. The result was a long, involved quote praising my book, which sounded so non-Andy, but there it is on the cover, with his name attached. Anyone who knew him knew it was completely bogus.) Naturally, I invited Andy to my book party, figuring it was worth the one per cent chance that he’d show up and make it all worthwhile. And the horror was that, after we all left the dinner party and went off to a nightclub, I was told that Andy had indeed shown up! He got there just seconds after we’d all left. For a 1980s press whore like myself, this was a harakiri moment that I only survived because there was still a chance he’d come to the next event. Unfortunately, the next event was Andy’s funeral at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and, once again, I’d greatly miscalculated. I assumed all the drag queens and celebutantes would come dressed in their eccentric, outrageous finery, in celebration of the man who so aggressively
© Christophe von Hohenberg from the book Andy Warhol The Day the Factory Died.
owntown is dead!” I declared in a sensational April, 1987 Village Voice cover story. After all, the boom in 1980s dance clubs had imploded, partly due to overhype and the fact that the dreaded ‘bridge-and-tunnel people’ were invading them, thereby making things icky for VIPs. What’s more, the nightlife budgets that had been used to cater to bohemians and their admirers had started to run dryer than an open bar at midnight. And perhaps even more crucially, Andy Warhol was gone. The artist/visionary had died after gall bladder surgery on the 22nd of February that year. No longer did New York’s nocturnal scene have a key figure who could draw throngs of freaks, fabulosities, business people and onlookers. With his savvy takes on capitalism – from movie star icon portraits to Interview magazine (consisting of purposely banal chatter between rich people) – Warhol had become a lightning rod for the glitziest issues of our culture, and, with his slightly askew white wig and bemused expression, he had turned into a walking work of art himself. As a result, Warhol proved to be the validating force at any nightclub event. When he walked into a room, you knew you were in the right place. Without him, the scene went into free fall. I first met Warhol in the late 1970s, when a columnist, Bob Weiner, took me under his
elevated outcasts and 15-minute celebrities. Wrong. Everyone – even the normally wild Grace Jones – was in solid black and looking positively moribund. So I, in a zanily colourful Ronald McDonald-themed pantsuit made by a friend, looked more ridiculous than ever. I was heartened that a club kid was stationed in the back of the church, handing out flyers promoting a nightclub party. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only one being inappropriate. And there were more weirdos there, it turned out. As the speakers got up and talked about Andy’s incredible humaneness and sensitivity, I was struck by the fact that they were actually lionising a symbol or an idea, not any kind of person that seemed vaguely recognisable. Andy was much more complicated than that, and I had no problem expressing that thought to my readers. In my Village Voice column, I noted that the man wasn’t a saint, he was in fact something of a master manipulator, always trading in his ‘superstars’ for the next hot personality. But that didn’t sit well with Andy’s acolytes. Later on, at a department store, one of them spotted me, started visibly shaking, and began screaming: “WHAT YOU WROTE ABOUT ANDY WAS DISGUSTING!” This former-superstar hangeron was so devoted to preserving Andy’s saintly legacy that I almost had to get security to help protect me from his in-store breakdown. Although there were others who agreed with that guy, Bob Colacello had written a book, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, which captured a man laced with some very dark issues. Those who hadn’t drunk the Kool-Aid knew there was no point in pretending that Andy was sent from heaven with a camera and a halo. In 1989, when The Andy Warhol Diaries posthumously came out, with the force of a phenomenon, it became clear that the private Andy was as radically different from the
he New York angler may be the most misunderstood outdoorsman of them all, because what could be more vile than someone who fishes in the dark polluted waters of New York? Live here long enough and you’ll see us, perched along the East River, or in Sheepshead Bay, using shrimp or clam as bait, waiting for our hooks to set, and avoiding irritation from the city dwellers who inevitably stop to ask: “You really go fishing in this water?” “Do you eat what you catch?” “Ever caught a body part?” “Can I take your picture?” My answer to #3 is No: although I have caught mattress chunks and human hair. But the questions are eye-roll inducing because we’re well aware that fishing in New York is not the same as casting for trout in the crystalline streams of a freshwater river. But like many aspects of New York, from sunbathing on its
Opposite: Raquel Welch at Andy Warhol’s funeral. Above: St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, 1987
one he presented to the world as his natural hair was to that weird white wig. He was bitchy, opinionated and downright rude, in a wonderfully entertaining way, which made me wish he’d have picked up a phone and called me sometime. His public persona was a pose, while, in private, he was defined by his feelings of physical inadequacy, loneliness, horror (over having been shot in 1968), and a desperate fear of hospitals, which proved, ultimately, to be justified.
Fishing in New York by alex vadukul New York may not seem the obvious place to indulge the pastoral pastime of fishing, but then it isn’t a city known for following the rules sooty beaches to playing catch in wilting parks, fishing is an exercise in compromise, and one with an idiosyncratic culture all of its own. I started fishing around the city last summer when I moved to Chinatown and noticed a local angling community. Men pedalled around the neighbourhood on bikes equipped with fishing rods and tackle boxes, and they
I’m happy to have gotten a tantalising taste of the man who held a mirror to society’s foibles, spat back commerce as art, and continually redefined the way we should look at ourselves and our belongings. And there was someone else at the memorial who made me feel less ridiculous. It was a deranged-looking woman standing outside and screaming: “The monster’s dead! The monster’s finally dead!” Only a man as eccentrically brilliant as Warhol could elicit such polarised views.
pedalled back home with plastic bags containing thrashing fish. The fish were caught from the East River – possibly the filthiest New York waterway of them all – where the men would post up with cigarettes and reel in striped bass, blackfish, bluefish, sea robins and writhing eels. I’d enjoyed fishing in the past, so I decided that with an open mind, I could give it a shot. I bought my first rod from an aquarium supply store on Delancey Street that maintains a small bait and tackle operation behind its counter front. I got lucky with my first cast into the river. After reeling in the hard bite, the striped bass hit the concrete, instantly collecting street dirt. An old man rushed to my aid. A paper bag was produced and the fish slipped inside. I let him keep it. A local jab at Chinatown’s fish markets is that certain specimens probably come from the brackish waters just a few blocks away. Some New Yorkers eat fish that comes from 149
illustration by eric chow
city waters. Bottom feeders like eel, sea robin and flounder are found all around New York Bay, and it probably isn’t wise to eat them, but it happens. On the other hand, one of the most prized eating fish in North America, the striped bass, is found in the same waters. Stripers are prized for their fight and their taste, and they engage in an annual spring run up the Hudson River, considered one of the great migrations of the East Coast. It starts in Lower New York Bay, near the financial district, and makes its way up the Hudson, where it eventually concludes in the northern reaches of the state. At peak, the rush of fish is so intense that one can cast a hook just about anywhere and land a striper. From spring until late summer, a striper caught near the World Trade Center could be the same striper caught off flashy East Hampton, where it would be served for $50 with a squeeze of lemon. Try explaining this to a fellow New Yorker, however, and you’ll get concerned stares. (I don’t eat city fish, and practice catch-and-release.) For all the indignities that city anglers endure, like crowds watching them reel in what ends up being a car tyre, there are moments that transcend the concrete. The best-known fisherman in my neighbourhood may be a man I call Prescription Bottle Tony. He’s in his 80s, his name is Tony, and he uses a prescription bottle wrapped in monofilament line as a rod. A metal washer on the line serves as a weight, and clam is his bait of preference. On summer afternoons, I fished
he New York memoir is a hallowed literary genre, practiced chiefly by late-career authors, but also lawyers, real-estate developers and other parvenus from the provinces who land in Gotham with, as the transplanted Californian critic John Leonard once put it, “ambition and a few waltz steps”. Like F Scott Fitzgerald, EB White, Mary McCarthy, Joan Didion, Louis Auchincloss, Willie Morris, James Wolcott, Frank McCourt, Patti Smith and other thrusting New York memoirists, I had those qualities in abundance. My own heldenfahrt, however, turned out to be more fahrt than helden. I arrived one fine spring day, brimming with hope. New arrivals to New York typically brim with the stuff, and large puddles of it collect amid the cratered pavements. I splashed my way to the apartment of a friend of a friend who was rumoured to have a spare bedroom to let. Parking my car near his office at Columbia University, I found the campus ringed by police in riot gear. I talked my way past them and eventually located the renter in the student union building. Just as I entered, the doors slammed behind me and a bearded young man jumped on a desk to declare, “We’ve locked ourselves in, and we won’t leave until the university capitulates to our demands!” I spent the rest of the day learning about
with him, and, as he jigged on the prescription bottle’s line, he told me what it was like fighting in the Korean War. Another afternoon, seagulls started feasting on the waters just off Catherine Street. This is a good sign because it means a school of fish has arrived, which means large apex predators – like big striped bass – are lying nearby in wait. Practically everyone caught something that day, including an old Greek man who spoke no English and watched from afar with envy. Eventually, I invited him to join me and we traded
“After a while, it was easy to forget a metropolis was behind me. I caught nothing that afternoon, but it didn’t bother me.” casts for over an hour without exchanging a word. Later, we reeled in a plump striped bass as the sun started to set. Battery Park, at the foot of Manhattan, has one of the most popular fishing sites in the city, because its waters are closest to the Atlantic. This boulevard of park benches is crowded with boom boxes playing Cuban jazz and men chomping cigars. One afternoon, I sat on the moorings and dangled my legs over the water. I held my rod loosely, lost in the vast expanse of ocean ahead of me. After a while, it was easy to forget a metropolis was behind me at all. I caught nothing that afternoon, but it didn’t bother me.
Arriving in Gotham by don morrison The author remembers the sensory overload of the world’s cultural capital, and how New York dreams never die: especially if they’re pre-recorded the evils of capitalism, of which New York remains the capital, and making new friends. Noticing that I was the only person among them in a suit and tie, they propelled me to the front door as the police went to work on it with a battering ram. “You look respectable,” I was told, “so they probably won’t start shooting right away.” About then the renter dragged me into a back room and pushed me through an unguarded window to safety. I landed on an ornamental bush that shredded my suit, and we both headed back to the apartment for a drink. The renter explained that his spare bedroom had already been let, but for the same
Inevitably, you become an advocate for the maligned hobby, and you find that the stereotypes of fishing still ring true in New York. Even below skyscrapers, fishermen stretch yarns about the size of their fish, they swear by lucky lures, and they guard locations of fishing holes closely. I didn’t think I’d adopt any of these clichés, but I picked up all of them, including an urban fishing hole of my own. As the season started to wind down, my friend Sam and I went to Staten Island. We took the ferry from Manhattan, armed with our rods, and visited Liedy’s on arriving, which is the oldest bar on the island. I asked the owner if he had any suggestions on where to fish. He divulged we should try the waters behind a lonely gas station two miles down the road. It was a scene of dilapidation. Old warped train tracks ran behind the gas station, and past them, a pebble beach littered with trash. The Manhattan skyline loomed quiet and small in the distance. We followed the warped track until we encountered a rocky chasm. A concrete structure stood in the waters and a creaky plank led to it. We crossed carefully and then made ourselves at home, setting up sandwiches and beers. A group of striped bass fed right below us. We spent an hour trying to game them with our bait. Large oil tankers rolled past and a full moon started to glow. After a while, it became bright and huge. I stopped caring about the fish, and started casting out over and over again as far as I could, just for the joy of it.
money I could have the pull-out couch in the parlour. This being New York, where spare beds then were as scarce as Hamilton tickets now, I leapt at the offer and went to fetch my belongings. This being New York, I found they had been liberated from my car by whoever had pried the driver’s-side door off its hinges. Nonetheless, I was struck by the verve, the style and, especially, the familiarity of my new surroundings. Without ever having seen them in person, I knew instantly the look and location of the Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, the 21 Club, Carnegie Hall and Zabar’s, the famed delicatessen. It took me a while to realise that I had indeed seen them, and memorised much else of New York geography, in thousands of hours of flickering images I had watched growing up on the prairie. Back then, nearly all TV programmes in America, and probably the world, were produced in New York, to linger forever in syndication. New York is the capital of our dreams for a reason: the dreams are manufactured there. That realisation was a vast comfort to me in the coming years as I endured nights of police sirens and car alarms, days of dustmen’s and bus drivers’ strikes, urine-scented public transport, overpriced restaurants and theatres, snarling taxi drivers and haughty 151
he Bronx is still up and the Battery’s down, but the shouts of “Taxi!” from the streets of New York are fading. Blame a jump in subway ridership, more bike paths and increased ferry service. But, mostly, blame ride-sharing apps, which have turned the iconic yellow cab into an endangered species. A recent front-page story in the New York Times quoted a young professional in the city as saying he had never hailed a yellow cab, something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. On a sunny Saturday in Curry Hill, a midtown Manhattan micro-neighbourhood known for its South Asian stores and restaurants, taxi drivers were quick to confirm that 152
© Zabar’s & Co., Inc.
sales clerks. Also the irresistible romance of the criminal underworld: my car was broken into twice before it vanished altogether, my young son’s bicycle was stolen out from under him, my apartment was burgled and my wallet was taken at gunpoint. These adventures were accompanied by soaring rents, drugneedle-paved sidewalks, baffling alternateside-of-the-street parking rituals and, of course, the ever-present perfume of abandoned buildings being torched by enterprising landlords. This was, after all, the not-so-distant era when New York City was going bankrupt and falling apart, in both cases literally. I saw Fort Apache, the Bronx, the iconic 1981 film with Paul Newman and Ed Asner about a police precinct in a neighbourhood so dangerous that its constables shrink from venturing outdoors. I thought it was a documentary. There were compensations. I was able to boast to relatives back home that New York had more first-rate museums, orchestras, theatrical productions, gourmet eateries and trendy discotheques than any city in the US, even though I could rarely afford any of them. And if I could, I wouldn’t, because I was at the office day and night, lurching home in spavined yellow taxis as dawn’s light bounced off the skyscrapers – a sight that inspired F Scott Fitzgerald to observe: “New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.” It seemed more like the end to me, but on those iridescent rides I puzzled out the secret of life in New York: everybody works hard to afford a lifestyle they will never enjoy. The beautiful-people-padded New York parties you see in glossy magazines? Staged by publicists. The literary soirées recounted in New York memoirs? Angry louts huddled over cheap wine masticating the paramount topic in the literary world: real estate. Nonetheless, since this was the world’s cultural capital, I was able to spot – and occasionally meet – celebrities by the limo load. I lunched with Sylvester Stallone and supped with Patrick Stewart, though they were sitting
Zabar’s in 1978
at other tables. I wandered into a press conference for Liv Ullmann and William Holden without ever learning quite what they were announcing. Rupert Murdoch’s and Donald Trump’s children attended the same school as mine, but those patriarchs apparently never set foot in the place.
“We’ve locked ourselves in, and we won’t leave until the university capitulates to our demands!” After two decades, New York’s sensory overload had taken its toll on my nerves and values. When my boss proposed a transfer to the Hong Kong office, I hesitated for a few minutes before assenting. It was difficult giving up the energy and excitement of New York, but I had paid my dues, proved I had what it takes and learned there are more important things in life. Imagine my thrill upon soon discovering that
Death of the Yellow Taxi by daniel slotnik Considering the decline of New York’s distinctive and iconic yellow cab, and its beleaguered drivers’ fight for survival in the digital age they have seen a major decline in fares. Ishtiaq Zahid, 50, said he was from Pakistan, lived in Brooklyn and had been a lease
I had relocated to perhaps the only city in the world even more noisy, demanding and expensive than New York. How I miss my gritty Golconda, which may have become tidier, safer and more Disney-f ied, but still retains its intimidating allure. A few years ago, my wife and I found ourselves teaching at a university in Beijing. One day our Chinese students, who had never been out their country (and, until recently, their villages), asked where in America we had lived. New York, we said with sighs of nostalgia. They confessed their ambition to live there someday, and so they persisted: In which part of town had we resided? The unfashionable Upper West Side, we responded. What exact address? We gave it to them. Whereupon they shouted in unison: “That’s near Zabar’s!” They knew it from television, downloaded on demand. New York dreams never die.
driver off and on for 10 years. He had unruly salt-and-pepper hair, wore a khaki buttondown, faded jeans and professorial rectangle-framed glasses. He had just eaten lunch, grilled goat from Kustory Kabab, and was resting in his cab before returning to the road. “This industry is on the verge of collapse,” he said bluntly. “The jobs have been divided. All these taxi apps, Uber, Lyft and Juno, competition has gone up.” Abul Kalam and Salim Chowdhury, smoking in front of the Indian restaurant Haandi, said yellow cabs seemed untenable to them. Both men are from Bangladesh and live in Brooklyn. Kalam drives for Uber and Chowdhury in a leased yellow cab. Kalam said he
had been with Uber for two years to supplement what he makes from his family’s store in Brooklyn, and Chowdhury said he had driven a taxi for almost 17 years. Chowdhury was not sure how much longer his body could take driving a cab. He said he would rather not switch to Uber but was considering it. “Yellow cab is going to the museum very soon,” he said ruefully. Experts, regulatory agencies and even ridehailing companies were less sure. The Taxi and Limousine Commission, the governing body for taxis, limos, green cabs, black cars and pretty much any automobile legally for hire in the city, reports that yellow cab rides have declined significantly since Uber began operating in New York in 2011. The average number of daily yellow cab rides has fallen from 484,822 in 2011 to 358,629 last year. Allan Fromberg, a TLC spokesman, said in a recent interview that the agency was still gathering more information on the app-hailing industry, but he thought New York remained a hail town and that yellow cabs commanded a sizable share of available fares. “The pie is bigger than it was, but it’s not infinite, and the riding public certainly have more choices, including those with better service levels,” he explained. “There are also many more cars and drivers than there were when New York City began to regulate the number of taxis in 1937.” One thing that hasn’t changed much is the number of yellow taxis. There are fewer than 14,000, nearly the same as in 1937. The number is kept static to ensure a profit for their owners, who must display a city-issued medallion but have the legal right to pick up hails in Manhattan and other rider-rich areas. Medallions fetched $700,000 or less on the open market in 2014, before Uber and its clones were so firmly entrenched. Perhaps surprisingly, Uber maintains that their ascendance is no big deal for yellow taxis. Alix Anfang, an Uber spokeswoman, said the company saw itself as a complement to taxis, not a killer, adding that Uber employees hail cabs themselves. She said Uber is growing fastest in areas outside Manhattan where access to mass transit is limited and taxis rarely venture. Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group for drivers, said they were feeling the impact of more cars for hire on the streets no matter where they drove. “It’s a depressed economy” for drivers, she said. “I see drivers who used to work six days now working seven, if they used to drive nine, 10 hours, they’re now driving the full 12.” Desai said that many who had driven for the ride-hailing apps felt resentment because the companies promised better pay and working conditions, but did not deliver. She said the ride-hailing model was successful because of its novelty, but would prove unsustainable once taxi-hailing apps like Arro and Curb grow more prevalent. “There is still a high popularity with the public for street hails,” she said. “So if the yellow cab industry is able to integrate app
hailing with street hailing, Uber and Lyft and all those companies would be in serious trouble. The stories of the demise of the yellow cab industry are quite premature and exaggerated.” Still, the idea of a city without familiar flashes of yellow in the traffic stream concerns many New Yorkers. One explanation for our fondness for cabs is the forced acknowledgment of shared humanity inherent in taxi travel that is usually absent from app-rides. “Within the packed interior of the cab, driver and passengers create an evanescent intimacy by which life stories, political opinions, philosophies of life and love, and personal problems quickly
“In a telephone interview Hodges said that he drove a cab while studying in New York during the 1970s, an experience like ‘playing vehicular football’.” surface during a 10-minute therapeutic ride,” Graham Hodges, a history professor at Colgate University, wrote in Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cab Driver. Having driven a cab while studying in New York during the 1970s, Hodges likened the experience to “playing vehicular football”. Said he: “Within five years I found that I was turning in earlier, accepting less money for the day.” Even though the job “was breaking my body”, he felt he still had it better than current drivers for both the ride-hailing apps and taxis, whose lengthening hours are growing less rewarding. Hodges noted that the appearance of a competitor to traditional cabs was nothing new. “Uber really is a descendant of the gypsy cab, which were the non-yellow cabs of the mid-20th-century that worked in Harlem and the outer boroughs, places where cabs didn’t
go because it wasn’t economically viable or drivers were racially afraid,” he said. The TLC legalised gypsy cabs in 1971. Said Hodges: “I see Uber as an outgrowth of that.” Hodges doubted that yellow cabs were endangered by the ride-hailing apps. “I think they’ll hit a plateau and then they’ll hit a crunch where there are too many drivers,” he said. Back in Curry Hill, Fiaz Ali guided a younger driver through a tight parallel park. The young man thanked him, and Ali flashed a bright, tired smile, walked to his leased cab and got in. Ali, who said he was from Pakistan and lived in Woodside, Queens, started driving a cab in 1988 and had attained every driver’s dream, purchasing his own medallion in 2001. For years he made money leasing out his medallion and escaped the punishment of constant driving. But in 2014 he had to sell his medallion after a heart attack and returned to leasing, which was no longer remunerative. “Even if you kill yourself, you still don’t make enough,” Ali said, sitting with the door open on the unseasonably warm day. “The New Yorkers are looking for something different. They’re tired of the yellow cab.” Ali said he would not drive for the apps because it was a young man’s game. “I’m ready to go home,” he said, closing the door of his cab. “Uber – you make money if you work long hours. Just last March I put in the pacemaker.” That would keep him from staying out so long, he added, gesturing at his chest. But would yellow cabs one day disappear from New York’s streets? “Never,” Ali said. “This never going to happen. This stay.” Then he carefully pulled into the Lexington Avenue traffic and headed toward the uncertain future.
Salim and Abul on Curry Hill
photography by benjamin norman
he nature of city life is that we are always looking. Whether we’re repulsed or attracted, we’re always fascinated by the lives and eyes of others, and this photograph illustrates this. I was on a train bound for the World Financial Center to deliver photographs to the picture editor at Barron’s, when I saw this woman resting her forehead on the pole. I could see that her face was bisected by it, but rather curiously I could still see both eyes. I waited for the train to stop at the next station, and, amazingly, her face was still right there. That’s when I made the photograph; it was an instinctive reaction. A lot of factors are working against you in the moment of making a photograph, but I had hopes for it being a good one. I don’t remember what happened after the picture, but, generally speaking, it’s a somewhat uncomfortable moment, so perhaps I just sat down and looked at her and smiled. I never speak to people unless they want to speak to me. If people object to having had their photo taken, and they get angry for whatever reason, it’s my responsibility to stick around and explain what I do, and why I did it. Generally speaking I can diffuse a confrontation using a quote from Lisette Model. When Diane Arbus studied with her, she asked what she should say if people got mad and asked her why she was focusing on them. Lisette told her to say, ‘Because you interest me.’ I always said this if people looked at me weirdly or wanted me to respond, and it totally worked.
“Incredibly, two years ago, a supplier to the shop came in and noticed that this man was in fact her grandfather – a diamond cutter in Manhattan’s jewellery district.” For most of the pictures in my book, The Eyes of the City, I used a 35mm or 28mm lens, but this is one of the very few photos in it that I shot with a 21mm. At that distance, it couldn’t have been taken with any other lens; if you look closely, you can see its effects on the image. Everything radiates out from the central figure, and the door on the left feels distorted, as if it is leaning. The wide focal length also means that those other people were included, and I was aware that they were all looking at me when I was making the picture. This is how The Eyes of the City got its title. As a photographer, yes, I am the eyes of the city, but so is everybody else. New York in the 1980s was a place of great disparity between wealth and poverty, and as I’ve said on numerous occasions, ‘greed was good.’ It’s not unlike Donald Trump, who is bringing back memories of the Reagan era by f launting his riches and supporting the financial side of the government. At the time though, many people felt dealt out of a hand; a lot of poor kids from ghettos who would graffiti their tags or ideas inside of the trains. The graffiti in the photograph forms a backdrop for the figures in the image, but also a back154
Eyes of the City by richard sandler The street photographer and documentary maker remembers creating an iconic image of New York, only to realise its true story many years later
drop to the era. You can almost see the fear in their eyes in the way they’re looking at me, because the city was a scary, dangerous place to be. There were a lot of pissed off kids who would steal whatever they could from people on the subway and in the streets, in what was called wilding. However, this is why I like photographing on the subway. From where I grew up in Queens, I could get on the train and be in Manhattan in 20 minutes. It’s where some of my earliest memories in life are from, and it’s somewhere I’ve always felt comfortable. In each car, there’s an incredible randomness of humanity – it’s a cross section of the city. This picture actually hangs in one of my favourite coffee shops in the East Village, called Mud, and it was here that I found out about the man seated on the right in the photograph. Incredibly, two years ago, a supplier to the shop came in and noticed that this man was in fact her grandfather – a diamond cutter in Manhattan’s jewellery district. She told me that inside the attaché case between his legs are both diamonds and a licensed revolver. For 35 years, I had no clue about that. It’s funny that when you move to a place that’s so densely populated, you have way more privacy. New York used to be a very noir town. It was an exciting city with a wild nature, but there was pressure for cities to become financially viable institutions, and this unruliness wasn’t good for business. People with money certainly didn’t want to live in the East Village or downtown, and because of this the city was flourishing from an artistic point of view. New York has suffered dearly as that has been lost, just as cities like London have too. I miss the time when poor people could live in these cities, and my book focuses on the last gasp of that world. After 9/11, the city became so expensive that young, struggling artists, with a lot to say, can’t live in Manhattan anymore. Even prices in Brooklyn are absurd now. For me, it is a war on art. Art is destabilising to capitalist forms of government because if people think too much and question the status quo, it isn’t good for business. In the 1990s, I started to wind down shooting stills in place of film, which I became very involved with, shooting documentaries like The Gods of Times Square, Brave New York and Sway. In the weeks following the attacks on the Twin Towers, I found that the sound of the street was far more important than the romance of
stopping time and capturing a single perfect moment. As an artist, it became the perfect way to express myself. Thousands of people were debating, mourning and soul searching in the streets, and I made a documentary from that called Everybody is Hurting. This is also where The Eyes of the City ends. Since completing the book with the terrif ic photo editor Régina Monfort, I’ve focused on creating two new documentaries, both about American history, but told completely from the perspectives of Native Americans: they alone do all the talking. The first
© Richard Sandler
CC train, NYC, 1985
will hopefully be released this year, and is called A.K.A. Martha’s Vineyard. The second film will be about the tribes who inhabited the area along the Hudson River in what is now New York and Albany. From importing disease to all-out genocide, colonialism was incredibly destabilising for the Native American people. The film raises deeper questions about the world we live in today, and why it’s all so fucked up. Richard Sandler’s The Eyes of the City is published by powerHouse Books 155
Interview by Will Wiles
Richard Meier – undeniably one of the 20th century’s most iconic architects, and part of the New York Five – talks to Port about his body of work and branching out from his beloved colour white
Photography by Joss McKinley
Left to right: presentation model of the Ackerberg House and presentation model of the Rachofsky House in the North Gallery of the New York office
Richard Meier seated in his private office
“It began quite innocently,” says Richard Meier of the events that propelled him to fame. In 1972 he was a young architect practising in New York, and teaching at Cooper Union with John Hejduk, the educator and theorist who would later become the school’s dean of architecture; Charles Gwathmey, another architect, was working in the same building. Meanwhile Michael Graves and Peter Eisenman were teaching at Princeton. All the men were near the start of their careers – they had built little, and not much building was going on in New York, which was mired in ever-deepening economic and social crisis. “We all knew one another. We taught together; we were friends, and we decided to get together and sort of criticise one another’s work,” Meier recalls. “So we went to a neutral space, the conference room at the Museum of Modern Art, everyone bought one work that they were currently involved with and the others gave their opinion of it. We had a really good, friendly discussion. And afterwards we said, that was really good – we should make a little pamphlet to commemorate the event.” That pamphlet became, in the hands of George Wittenborn – an art-books publisher on Madison Avenue – a slim book called Five Architects, and the architects became known as the New York Five. Each architect included two of
their houses in the publication, and Arthur Drexler, MoMA’s influential director of architecture, contributed a pugnacious introduction, praising the five for remaining true to the “rational poetry” of pure modernism, as opposed to the “proletarian snobbery” of brutalism and the “elegant but arbitrary” pure structure of Mies and his followers. For a such a slender volume, the effect was electric – even explosive. “At the time, most architectural discourse, if you can call it that, was around issues of social responsibility… and perhaps the very faint beginnings of postmodernism and reaction against modernist orthodoxy,” says Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer-winning architecture critic for Vanity Fair, formerly of the New York Times and the New Yorker. “And then, into this mixture, come these young architects who were interested in modernist form and continuing to develop and refine it, and push it forward, and did not feel it was a dead end, but felt it was very much relevant. In the context of the architectural culture of the 1970s, it felt very fresh… very much oriented around pure aesthetics and pure forms and making a shape and making a space as an end in themselves.” “I was surprised how much was written about it,” Meier says. “It made people think about architecture in a different way, which was very positive.” But with modernism divided and
falling from grace, this clarion call was controversial. The New York Five became known as the “whites”, and were attacked in the pages of the Architectural Review by a rival grouping of proto-postmodernists and neoclassicists, the “greys”. “People certainly read it as a manifesto of some sort, and it provoked other events,” Meier says, although he denies that the aim was polemic. For him, the value was all in those initial meetings: “It was really a wonderful coming together. We knew one another; we had dinner with one another, but this was something different. It was just sitting in a room, talking about the work – not only one’s own work, but also the work of the other four.” Meier was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1934, and established his office in New York in 1963. “White” was an entirely apt label for his work. He is associated with the colour like no other architect. The Five were always divergent in style, and their architecture went in radically different trajectories: Eisenman into deconstructivism, Hejduk into sui generis idiosyncrasy, Graves into monumental postmodernism. But Meier has remained loyal to whitewalled modernism. One monograph of his work opens with an essay by him in praise of the colour: “White is always present but never the same, bright and rolling in the day, silver and effervescent under the full moon of New
Senior Associate Hans Put working on the design of a new private residence in East Hampton
Year’s Eve. Between the sea of consciousness and the earth’s vast materiality lies this everchanging line of white.” In interview, however, he’s far more restrained – at times, frustratingly taciturn. “I felt that we were part of a tradition and respected that tradition, and showed the way it could be expanded,” is pretty much all he will be drawn to say about his relationship with his modernist forebears. But his meaning is spelled out in his work. His crowning achievement is the Getty Center in Los Angeles, a hilltop complex of galleries the size of a small town, developed over more than a decade at a cost of $1.3 billion. Few architects get this kind of opportunity; even fewer could make such consummate use of it. He has built other cultural landmarks in the United States as well, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; and he is one of continental Europe’s favourite Americans, with major projects such as city halls for The Hague in the Netherlands and Ulm in Germany. Dazzling white is sometimes cut into by pale stone and apertures of sky; grids and purist geometry are kept from sterility with surgical curves and deviations from the orthogonal. “What he has done is distilled a kind of elegant purist essence out of modernism,” says Goldberger. “But his works are very much
compositions; they’re about balance and weight and lightness and solids and voids, all very beautifully balanced together into compositional wholes that are elegant and serene. That is not what modernist orthodoxy has prioritised so much as what he has prioritised. He has been pursuing his own private version of modernism, consistently, his entire career.” Some of Meier’s earliest projects in the late 1960s and early ’70s, were in New York. After that, for more than a quarter of a century, he was overlooked in his home city. But with the turn of the century, that changed. Between 1999 and 2006, he built a trio of short, elegant towers on Perry Street and Charles Street in Greenwich Village, a decorous little riverfront group that deftly combines variation and restraint. “To have three buildings together, three blocks on the river, is really unique. It makes me proud,” Meier says. “And they’ve really transformed an area, given it a new life.” They also created demand for Meier’s architecture among condominium developers. In the early years of the 21st century, with his catalogue heavily focused on houses, civic centres and galleries, Meier had more than once expressed a desire to design a skyscraper. Since then, a few Meier spires have appeared in locations around the world, and now one is under way in New York: an apartment tower
Photo cards with images from the Richard Meier Archive to commemorate and celebrate Richard Meier’s 80th birthday created by the staff from his New York office
at 685 First Avenue. The site is a couple of blocks south of the United Nations building on the East River, and Meier expresses his satisfaction that his own tower is much the same height and orientation. “It’s like they’re a pair of buildings,” he says. “That context gives me great pleasure.” However, once it’s finished the uninformed eye might not recognise 685 First Avenue as a Meier: it’s black, clad in a “very taut, very striking” curtain wall of shadowy glass. It is a remarkable rupture with the Meier trademark. What made him break the practice of a lifetime and make a black building? Typically, his reply is a little… well, a little colourless. “[The developer] came to me and said ‘I like your work; I like the buildings that you did downtown, but would you do a black building?’ So I thought about it a while, and I said sure. So that’s what we’re doing.” To break up the mass and highlight the blackness and tautness of the curtain wall, there’s a sliver of white about two thirds up the tower: one apartment, different to the others, with clear glass to reveal its pristine interior. An interesting place to live, I say. You’ll be able to point it out from across the river. Another first: Meier laughs, and permits himself a dry joke. “We should tell the sales people that they should charge more for it.”
Interior detail of Richard Meier’s office with three Josef Hoffmann chairs in the foreground
Stainless steel Richard Meier sculpture on the left and Frank Stellaâ€™s Paul (XV, 5X) from the Circuits series
Interior detail image of the studio looking south into the new Hudson Yards development in Manhattan
The Spring Summer Collections
Photography Yann Faucher
Styling Scott Stephenson
ralph lauren purple label
LOUIS VUITTON louis vuitton
Grooming Adam Szabo at Atomo Management Models Callum Altmann, Christopher Einla Lukas Marschall, Hugo Villanova at Elite London Models ModelsSanjeeva Benjamin Azoum, Guillaume Styling assistant Suresh
Photography Paul Rousteau
We Two Boys
Styling Alex Petsetakis
Capturing the carefree spirit of David Hockney's poolside tableaux, Fendi's Spring Summer 2017 collection marries sun-bleached hues with zany stripes and '60s flair
All clothing FENDI SS17 Models Benjamin Azoum, Guillaume
Chamber of Companionship
Words Alice Twemlow
Photography Paul Barbera
Mixing art and design together is what Chamber does best, and it’s international collaboration which is making it happen
As this profile was preparing to go to press, news reached us that on the 24th of February, returning from a visit to his hometown, Buenos Aires, Chamber Gallery founder Juan Mosqueda was denied re-entry to the US by Customs and Border Patrol agents. In an open letter recounting the ordeal, which he describes as “dehumanising and degrading”, he urges his American friends to contact their congressmen and “push for immigration reform”. Mosqueda also says that following an interrogation and 14-hour detention at New York’s JFK Airport, he was escorted on to a flight back to Argentina. The letter was picked up and widely circulated by the design press and also featured on CNN. While Mosqueda’s particular situation may not be a direct result of President Trump’s travel ban, it is consistent with increasing numbers of similar stories from other artists, scholars and writers either trying to return to their country or to visit, who are being held for questioning or turned around at US international airports. Mosqueda, who was forced to miss the opening of the latest exhibition at Chamber Gallery, which took place on the 2nd of March, still remains in Argentina, waiting for news from his lawyers about whether or not he will be able to return to the US.
“When I think of a design object I don’t think of what it is or does, but rather I think about the person who created it,” says Juan Garcia Mosqueda, founder of Chamber, a small but increasingly influential gallery devoted to limited-edition and unique pieces that blur the lines between art and design. A geometric totem-pole-like vase in 24ct-gold-plated ceramic, for example, evokes for Mosqueda a Sunday afternoon spent in the Milan studio apartment of its creator, the iconic Italian designer and architect Alessandro Mendini. “We looked at all the art and design he had made and collected and I was in awe at how he had helped to shape design history,” says Mosqueda. For this young, Argentinian-born design impresario, it is the collaborative process – and the personal relationships he forges with the designers whose work he shows and sells – that are the most meaningful aspects of his role as galleryist. Indeed, 2018 will mark a departure from the invited curator model that Chamber has favoured so far. Instead, Mosqueda will be the curator and, with seven solo shows in the works, he has decided to focus on the designers he thinks deserve more space to develop their ideas. Mosqueda cut his curating teeth working at Moss, the genre-defining design retail-storecome-gallery in New York’s SoHo. He admired Murray Moss’s ability to create “surreal tableaus” and unexpected dialogs between incongruously juxtaposed art and design pieces. But he was also struck by Moss’s ability to attract those beyond the design world. As Mosqueda recalls it, “You would go to Moss on a Satur-
Above: Artwork by Carl Emil Jacobsen. Opposite: Artwork by Florian Milker, James Shaw + Soft Baroque, Chen Chen & Kai Williams
day and Lou Reed and Kanye West and Dieter Rams would be there in the same place. I can’t think of another place like that where such diverse people could gather.” When Moss closed, Mosqueda saw a niche to fill, and in 2014 set up shop in New York’s Chelsea gallery district with an exhibitionretail space dedicated to designed objects, but also to the creation of a social platform. Mosqueda seems genuinely interested in how to reach a broader public. “How do you not alienate them with your programme?” he muses. “We are constantly talking to the people who come in, telling them stories about the objects, finding out who they are – versus the typical art gallery experience where no one engages with you.” Chamber quickly caught the attention and praise of the design press, and the dollars of the design-collecting cognoscenti. Mosqueda is dismayed, however, that so few of his clients actually frequent the 23rd Street gallery. They tend to live in other cities and send their buyers instead. “My top client, who spends more than half a million dollars, I only met a month ago,” he says. “That shows how disconnected I am from my clients. None of them come to openings.” Instead, the openings are populated by what he characterises as, “cult followers in their twenties and thirties from the architecture and design communities who are looking for a place to socialise and see new work”. Loosely modelled on the Renaissance wunderkammer, or ‘cabinet of curiosities’, Chamber Gallery certainly gives off all the right intellectual and aesthetic signals to attract the 21st-century design connoisseur. Its identity design – centring on a geometric monogram (an elegantly stripped-down version of a Bradbury Thompson graphic mark) – is by Yale-trained, 2x4-finished Studio Lin. Its sensitive architecture is by the art-world-favoured firm MOS, whom Mosqueda chose over other more celebrated firms, OMA and SO-IL, because of their enthusiastic response to his 10-page, Walter Benjamin-quote-strewn brief. The interior of the jewellery-box-like gallery features a serially barrel-vaulted ceiling that references Chamber’s etymological ancestor, the camera; shelving made of Carrara marble that is overlaid with a CNC-milled marble pattern; aluminium rods laid into the concrete floor to create an exaggeratedly large herringbone pattern and even a custom-made toilet paper holder. The inaugural collection of 100 objects, selected by Dutch-Belgian design duo Studio Job, included a mix of specially commissioned existing and vintage items, mostly by Dutch designers such as Maarten Baas, Piet Hein Eek and Gijs Bakker. Early on in his career, Mosqueda became intrigued by the genre of Dutch conceptual design, typified by designers emerging from Design Academy Eindhoven in the 1990s and experimental firms like Droog. This interest was a counterpoint to his frustration with the commercial emphasis of
Above: Artwork by Lucas Maassen & Margriet Craens. Opposite: Artwork by Andy and Dave
industrial design and the way it was taught in the US. “They were just creating corporate employees for agencies like IDEO, Frog and Smart, who didn’t give a shit about the final products; they were charging hourly rates to their clients so the outcomes were always lame and limiting,” he says. Chamber continued to provide an alternative reading of design with its next collection, conceived by Mosqueda’s Chelsea neighbour, the American photographer and filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman. With Zuckerman’s inclusion of natural and ethnographic artefacts – such as a late-Jurassic dinosaur fossil, tribal bone knives and NASA equipment – Mosqueda felt they were returning to the original idea of the wunderkammer and its inclusion of scientific specimens, and with it expanding the conversation about designed objects. At the time of writing, Chamber’s current collection – inspired by the 1957 Richard Hamilton collage ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing’ – is curated by Matylda Krzykowski, founder of experimental exhibition space Depot Basel. By inviting Krzykowski, Mosqueda wanted to update the gallery’s roster to include the most contemporary ‘post-Eindhoven’ designers – those from ECAL, Germany and beyond. He was also intrigued to see how the spontaneous and often risk-filled approach to curating that Krzykowski deploys in Basel could be applied to the context of a commercial gallery. Initially reluctant to accept the invitation, since she didn’t think Chamber was “her cup of tea”, Krzykowski has enjoyed the experience of curating for an audience of potential buyers – an activity she conceives of as playing with “desire and fantasy”. “Objects in a gallery are only there temporarily,” she says. “They are all looking for an owner. A companion.”
CARTIER Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat in pink gold The cushion-shaped Drive was 2016’s stand-out dress watch, not least for the fact it coined an effortlessly elegant new case shape, when we thought everything had been done. This year, things become a whole lot more elegant, thanks to a diet plan that’s rendered things 40 per cent slimmer, at seven millimetres, while still retaining that stately, and distinctly ‘Cartier’ poise. Pair with a decent French cuff and an exceptionally well-made Martini.
Watch This Space
BULGARI Octo Solotempo in pink gold As Bulgari continues to hone and tweak its signature octagonal, Octo, the easier it becomes to envision this being a steadfast modern staple of neoclassical dress watch adventurism. All 110 facets are milled laboriously from single pieces of diamondlike carbon-coated steel and pink gold, yielding something halfway between the Parthenon and a Star Destroyer.
Roll back those linen cuffs and give this statement wristwear room to breathe
Words Alex Doak Photography Giles Revell
A LANGE & SÖHNE Lange 1 in yellow gold Whisper it: Germany make watches just as well as the Swiss – a fact that might have been swept under the carpet were it not for the efforts of Walter Lange, who sadly passed away in January. When the Berlin Wall fell, he moved back to former East Germany and revived his prestigious but GDR-ravaged family firm with the help of the Richemont Group. This was their comeback watch, and it’s an extraordinary design (not to mention an extraordinary piece of horology) that’s barely changed a millimetre since 1994.
TUDOR Heritage Black Bay Bronze There’s something noble about bronze, especially when used to encase diving watches, as it speaks of ancient mariners winching capstans, battling the high seas. Watchmakers especially like using it as it gradually oxidises, so every watch takes on a unique, crusty patina, which actually protects the copper alloys. But what’s even more notable about this handsome sailor is that it’s the first Black Bay model to use Tudor’s in-house automatic movement. Rolex’s little brother is all grown up.
PATEK PHILIPPE 5227R-001 Calatrava in rose gold When it comes to fine watchmaking, Patek Philippe is arguably the last word. And when it comes to dress watches, Patek Philippe’s Calatrava is the last word, inarguably. Pure and simple, it’s the purest and simplest. Turn it over to gaze through the sapphire case back and things aren’t so simple – you’re greeted by painstakingly hand-finished mechanics that speak of centuries of pedigree and excellence. No wonder Patek is the most collectable and valuable watch brand on the planet.
José Parlá: The Art of Looking Words Kyle Chayka
Photography Mark Mahaney Styling Yety Akinola
203 Pioneering Cuban-American artist José Parlá opens the doors of his Snøhetta-designed studio to discuss his new workspace, the importance of being original and the politics of making art in Cuba
José wears Crewneck sweatshirt and chino pants Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ Previous spread: José wears Riviera ditzy floral shirt and Tack Slim selvedge rigid denim Levi’s® Made & Crafted
Artists’ studios are always personal spaces. Hidden in plain sight in warehouse lofts or behind pull-down steel grates, they don’t reflect their residents’ personalities and practices until you get inside and see what’s on the walls. The studio of the Cuban-American artist José Parlá is no different. A single-storey industrial building in the southerly Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn that’s surrounded by mechanics and manufacturers, the facade is completely nondescript. But once you’re in the door, everything changes. Parlá, who bought the building in 2014, works in the centre of the space, a wide sky-lit arena hung with the artist’s vibrant, gestural paintings in progress, which recall urban walls as much as art-historical reference points like Cy Twombly and Ed Ruscha. The paintings have been shown in galleries and museums from New York to Tokyo; a mural of Parlá’s can now be seen in the new One World Trade Center. Above the studio arena off to one side of the space is what Parlá calls the 'nest': a lofted aerie that holds an office with a wide desk; a circle of sleek chairs; a couch for meetings; and a DJ setup currently spinning Marley Marl, an artefact of the energetic New York culture that first brought the artist to the city. Records spill on to the floor: Celia Cruz, the Last Poets, the Warning. “In terms of the quality of rhythm in my work, a lot of it is informed by music,” Parlá tells me. Below the 'nest' is a neat box composed of a library,
bathroom, and full kitchen. Light is plentiful, even on a dull day, and the walls and fixtures are painted a warm industrial grey. Altogether, the studio forms a perfect machine for art, life and anything in between. “I don’t live here, but I pretty much feel like I do,” the artist says (his apartment is in nearby Fort Greene). In his paintspattered black jacket and jeans, Parlá looks as comfortable as he would holding court at home. The studio's design was the result of a collaboration with Snøhetta, the buzzed-about Norwegian architecture firm responsible for such structures as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s recent iceberg-like expansion, and the Oslo Opera House, which won the 2009 Mies van der Rohe award. Parlá met the firm’s co-founder, Craig Dykers, at a PechaKucha slide-presentation event in 2010. The two appreciated each other’s talks and Dykers invited the artist to his office to see if they might collaborate. The first result of the partnership was a piece installed at North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library. The intention is to team up for spaces like a public library in Queens and the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. But Parlá’s studio is the biggest collaboration so far. “When I bought the property, I was having a beer with Craig and he started drawing right away,” the artist says. The space’s openness, both in terms of scale and the pres-
ence of other cultural forms, is perfect for Parlá’s practice, which draws on influences as diverse as graffiti and the French situationists. Joaquin, Parlá’s studio assistant, brings two Cuban coffees, the kind that you can only get outside of Miami if you know someone who can make it for you. He serves them in espresso cups emblazoned with Cuban flags. “As a kid we weren’t allowed to go to Cuba,” the artist says. “I was born in Miami and grew up in Puerto Rico, so I understand the culture from the perspective of being a Latin American and of being from Cuban parents.” The country itself was still off limits, however. After President Obama opened Cuba to United States citizens in 2014, change came in earnest. The country’s cultural landscape is changing, too. Parlá is now becoming a public creative force in the homeland he didn’t know until later in life. He participated in the 2012 Havanna Biennial in a collaboration with his friend, the French photo-based street artist, JR. Parlá had just returned from Havana to work on new projects two weeks prior to our meeting.
During this gradual transformation, the Cuban identity has persisted. “Cuba’s still Cuba culturally,” Parlá says. Not everything has changed, certainly not like the overhaul Brooklyn has seen since the artist moved here decades ago. “You see one or two hotels refurbished, some young people opening up their own restaurants. It’s not at the scale you see in the first world.” However, Cuba is not the easiest political environment for artists. “There’s still a lot of tension. It depends on how far you take your message with the art, how much you can get away with,” Parlá says. Making art there is an opportunity, however, “to go back and have a dialogue with my soul country”. In 1980s Miami, Parlá was exposed to the nascent movement of street art and graffiti that was growing in New York and Philadelphia. Friends and family passing between the two cities would bring back photos and art books. He started painting walls when he was 10 years old, learning from older writers on the scene. “It was really important to be original,” Parlá says. “We used to say, this guy ‘bit’
José wears Long sleeve tee and Tack Slim selvedge rigid denim Levi’s® Made & Crafted
somebody; somebody’s a ‘biter’. That was a big no-no, to copy somebody. If you didn’t have a respectful attitude, you might get beat up.” Parlá followed the trail of hip-hop and wall-painting to the Bronx in 1995, then moved to an empty loft in downtown Brooklyn in 1997, all the while writing under the name Ease. The energy had shifted downtown with DIY exhibitions. The scene, as Parlá describes it, became an international export. “I started out showing in galleries and doing bigger projects in Japan, Hong Kong and London,” he says. “There was an appreciation for New York underground culture there. Here, the museums weren’t really trying to look at what we were all doing.” Parlá doesn’t appreciate the label of 'street art'. To him, the work is all part of an art historical continuum. The abstract expressionists were urban artists, after all, responding to the street. Parlá is as likely to reference artists like Joan Mitchell or Antoni Tàpies, as the graffiti legend Kase 2. As for the Banksy-style boom, “We got grouped in with artists who were painting a bunny rabbit hopping over a dragon. That was not the same,” he says. Today, the artist shows in estimable galleries like those
of Mary Boone and Bryce Wolkowitz – the latter being the New York gallerist who walks into the studio during my visit to check on work for upcoming art fairs. Exhibitions are coming up in Italy and London, as well as a project at the University of Texas, Austin. Parlá is entrenched in the art world, reinforcing a now well-established path from graffiti to museums, just as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and KAWS have before him. Yet Parlá is still focused on reaching a wider audience, particularly through his murals and other ‘public art’. “You’re having a connection with the public that’s different, than with someone who’s searching for art,” he says. "They might discover that they really love art.” One can easily imagine the next generation of painters arriving in New York inspired by Parlá’s work, just as the city once drew him in. For its Spring Summer 2017 collection, Levi's® Made & Crafted® has channelled the rich colour palette and flamboyance of Havana, with guaybera shirts, tropical prints and camouflage details all harking back to the nation's enduring revolutionary spirit.
The Jewel and the Crown
Words Bianca Forte Ray Murphy
Opposite: B.zero1 ring with three bands in white gold Zaha Hadid for BULGARI
Bulgari’s B.Zero1 collection receives an update by the late queen of curved architecture
Photography Michael Bodiam
Set Design Annette Masterman
Increasingly, the mourning of a creative legend is overshadowed by the announcement of posthumous artworks being released into the public realm. While it’s one thing to release unheard studio recordings by a deceased guitarist or jazz drummer, how do you bring a collaboration with one of the world’s top architects to fruition? Shortly before her death on 31st March 2016, the Pritzkerprize winning architect Zaha Hadid received a commission from Italian jewellers Bulgari to inject some of her avantgarde and rarely paralleled aesthetic into one of the brand’s most popular creations: the B.Zero1 ring and pendant. Since making its debut in 1999, the original iteration of the B.Zero1 cemented its position as a classic among Bulgari’s extraordinary collection of jewels. Inspired by the elegant, historic form of Rome’s Colosseum and the robust structure of industrial piping, the B.Zero1 has been subtly tweaked, moulded and updated over the last 18 years, with the varying use of ceramics, marble and titanium in differing colour combinations. But it wasn’t until Hadid was given the opportunity to rebuild it that it entered an entirely new era as the B.Zero1 Design Legend. "I’ve learnt that with Zaha there is no repetition. She taught us how to try new things and keep changing, evolving and experimenting,” says Maha Kutay, who has been working at Zaha Hadid Architects and Design Studio since completing her MA in architecture at New York’s Columbia University in 1994. “If you look at her work from the ’80s until now, she has always been investigating different ideas. It’s about pushing boundaries and trying new things, not just accepting what’s there." Discussions about a partnership began in 2014, when Hadid and Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin attended an exhibition opening. Intending to have a brief chat, they ended up talking for an entire afternoon, after which they agreed to find a project that was ‘right for both companies’. Bulgari were interested in working with Hadid, but disliked the idea of producing an entirely new collection. Initially, there was some concern expressed by the two
B.zero1 ring with four bands in pink gold Zaha Hadid for BULGARI
The design combines the architecture of the Colosseum, and Roman imperial power, with Hadid's softer language of sinuous lines
parties as to how the collaboration would work. Hadid’s designs are noticeably obsessed with asymmetry, fluidity and curvature, while her colour palette is reduced to whites, greys and blacks. Bulgari’s aesthetic, on the other hand, is more concerned with geometry and opulence, while its design team has traditionally favoured colours that are bright and vibrant. This collaborative project was to be about experimentation, while fusing the two design languages of Bulgari and Zaha Hadid. “We did an installation with Bulgari at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2011, so we had collaborated before,” Kutay says. “With the installation we were simply creating a scene to exhibit the pieces, whereas with the B.Zero1 we were actually working together to create a product.” Soon enough the conversation moved towards redesigning the B.Zero1 collection, which was nearing its 18th birthday and was therefore ripe for change. Plus, its connection to the Colosseum provided an obvious draw for the architect. “The companies are quite similar in their heritage and innovation: Bulgari have always tried pushing boundaries with the use of different materials, and we do the same with technology,” Kutay says. “The challenge was trying to ensure that we respected the brand on both sides. We are always trying to push the possibilities of design.” Keeping the refinement and boldness of the original B.Zero1 line without diluting the identity of the ring and pendant was vital; Hadid maintained the volume but altered its fluidity and lightness. The real genius, then, lay in the use of negative space to breathe new life into the collection. “Zaha had a strong vision when it came to creating a product. We had some sketches which were more radical, starting from the collection and pushing it, and then there were the sketches that were more aligned with the history of Bulgari and the heritage,” Kutay explains. During the last 10 years of her life, Hadid spent a large proportion of her time in Miami, Florida. It became something of a second home for the Iraqi-born architect, and it was also where she would die of a heart attack aged 65. "Her holidays were there and her friends were there, plus she had connections with Design Miami and the Moore building,” Kutay says. In a fitting tribute, Bulgari and Zaha Hadid Architects launched the updated B.Zero1 during Art Basel Miami in December 2016, ahead of its global release. “I’ve known Zaha for a long time and it’s pretty tough knowing she isn’t around. For a lot of us she’s still in Miami on a business trip somewhere,” Kutay tells me, as we sit at Hadid’s Liquid Glacial Table – a less-than-subtle symbol of the love affair with fluid design. It’s one of many pieces of Hadid’s stunning furniture that dominate the stark, white east London space, transforming a furniture showroom into something more akin to a sculpture park. In the room above us the team (all of whom are trained architects, even if they work solely on product design) charged with carrying the practice’s name forward, continues to fulfil projects and take Hadid’s unorthodox approach to new commissions. And, when asking what the future holds for the firm, it seems clear that the starchitect’s legacy will endure. “Working with her was very inspiring; it was tough at moments but always inspiring. She knew how to get the best out of you, even if you were exhausted or desperate,” says Kutay. “Hopefully we can keep working to do what she told us to do,” she adds. “We owe it to her to make sure this keeps going, as she would have expected.” The Bulgari B.Zero1 Design Legend is available now as a ring or pendant in white gold and pink gold. Other versions will be released in summer 2017.
Flights of Fantasy
Photography Joss McKinley
Silver branch brooch LOUIS VUITTON Gaga , the northern cardinal was raised by a good Samaritan but is now habituated to humans
Styling Alex Petsetakis Prop Styling Noemi Bonazzi
Eames plywood mobile RAY & CHARLES EAMES for VITRA Timmy, the American robin came to the Wild Bird Fund bald and largely naked due to malnutrition
Eclittica table lamp CARLOTTA DE BEVILACQUA for ARTEMIDE Sparky, the ring-billed gull could not fly when he was found because of oil on his feathers
Tumbled calfskin leather briefcase CANALI
Serena table lamp in aluminium finish PATRICIA URQUIOLA for FLOS Vaporeon, the domestic duckling is staying at the Wild Bird Fund until adopted
Sunglasses GIORGIO ARMANI Feather donated by Pandora the fancy pigeon
Miles calfskin cap HERMĂˆS Ombre, the ring-necked dove was a juvenile pet bird found on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx
Alastair formal patent shoe CHURCHâ€™S Jolteon, Flareon and Vaporeon, the juvenile domestic ducklings, were surrendered to the Animal Care Center in NYC
Neoprene shoe PRADA Eva Bambina, the nesting pigeon was found caught in a fence at 28th Street & Ninth Avenue with a broken wing
Woven tote bag PAUL SMITH Oreo the rock pigeon escaped from the talons of a peregrine falcon Pandora the fancy pigeon was found on the street and now resides in the window at the Wild Bird Fund
Glasses and clip-on PERSOL at DAVID CLULOW
Photographic assistant Jon Ervin Special Thanks to Ariel Cordova-Rojas and Kate Faehling at the Wild Bird Fund
Piccola Papilio outdoor armchair NAOTO FUKASAWA for B&B Italia Lele, the Muscovy duck is a domestic duck that was treated for feather loss due to vitamin deficiencies
Nzingha wears vest MARGARET HOWELL
Port talks to Peter Westbrook, the Olympic fencing medal winner and mentor to hundreds of young athletes in New York City
Words Sam Knight Photography Blair Getz Mezibov Styling Dan May
Infographic Maria Nakhmanovich Research Bianca Forte
sabre & foil
sabre & foil
When Peter Westbrook talks to you about fencing, he is talking about the state of your soul. “Sometimes it’s a lonely sport,” he says. “You’re on the island by yourself when you are out there. But isn’t life that way?” Westbrook’s voice is high and urgent. He is 64 years old. In his time, he has proven a lot of people wrong. Westbrook was the first black fencer to win an Olympic medal, is a deacon in his local church and mentors hundreds of young athletes in New York City. He has a message that is not always comfortable to hear. “You are in this thing called life by your damned self. It is the same thing with fencing. You are in this by Your. Damned. Self.” He pauses. Westbrook enjoys the sound of the words, the shape of the idea that he is putting in your mind. “Interesting, isn’t it?” Fencing became Westbrook’s means of survival, his way of thinking about the world, a long time ago. “The sport saved my life,” he says. “Were it not for fencing I would for sure be incarcerated.” He grew up in the Hayes Homes projects: inner city tower blocks in 1950s Newark, New Jersey. Westbrook wasn’t just a poor boy, he was an oddity: half Japanese, half African American. His father, an American GI named Ulysses Westbrook, met his mother, Mariko Wada, in the devastated city of Kobe at the end of World War II. Mariko was from a prosperous family. She saw her mother killed in front of her during a bombing raid. She left everything behind to immigrate to the US with her husband, but encountered only discrimination and poverty when she arrived. The marriage was a disaster. Ulysses was violent and she threw him out. Westbrook and his sister Vivian went to school with cardboard plugging the holes in their shoes. When Westbrook was 12, Mariko bribed him five dollars to go to a fencing class. She had an instinct that it might change his life. “She would always say to me, ‘Peter, samurai is in your blood. I have so many samurais in my family… Fencing is the same thing,’” he recalls. “She thought, ‘Hmm, that may be able to get him out of this predicament.’” Mariko was right. Fencing introduced Westbrook to another way of life. The other boys were better off. They were mostly middle class and white. Westbrook trained after school every day, dragging his gear past the kids shouting at him in his neighbourhood: “‘What’s in that bag?’ ‘Hey man, what kind of fences do you put up?’” He kept walking. “People seeing that you fence, it’s ‘Oh, you’re weird,’” says Westbrook. “‘What a dumb white sport.’” What they didn’t realise was that fencing was fighting, just in another form. “In the housing projects I used to fight,” says Westbrook. “I watched people fight with their hands, fight with knives, fight with guns, just fight brutally. Then I was exposed to an aristocratic, noble, upper-class sport: fencing.” It wasn’t such a big step. “This is a combat sport,” he decided. “Kill or be killed.” Westbrook chose the sabre – the fastest, loosest discipline. Points only last a few seconds, a few flashes of steel. And he poured his anger in: anger at his environment, anger at his poverty, anger at his father. He became the US sabre champion at the age of 22. He won a scholarship to New York University. He got a job at IBM. In a sport where careers normally end at 30, Westbrook became a singular, path-breaking survivor: defending his national title 13 times and fighting at six consecutive Olympics. He won bronze in sabre at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, America’s first medal in the event for 80 years. He won his last Pan American Games gold in 1995, at the age of 42. As much as anything, fencing is mental warfare. When you stand on the strip, sword raised, heavy mask on your head, you must inhabit the mind of your opponent. “It is almost like playing chess with your body,” says Westbrook. “You have to have great athletic ability, then you have to be 228
“You are in this thing called life by your damned self. It is the same thing with fencing. You are in this by Your. Damned. Self.”
sabre & foil
Peter wears shirt MARGARET HOWELL Nzingha wears vest MARGARET HOWELL
sabre & foil
“It is really negative to want to fight,” he tells me at one point. “But you have to kind of love it in a positive way. You have got to love to destroy your enemy.”
sabre & foil
sabre & foil
“I don’t know anyone like Peter; everything he says to me is spot on all the time. And I am, like, ‘Wow, how did you do that?’ He can pick things out.” — Nzingha Prescod 232
sabre & foil
Nzingha wears linen wool knit and cotton drill trousers MARGARET HOWELL
Hair Adam Markarian Makeup Sam Addington at kramer + kramer
sabre & foil
able to handle your nervous system.” You need to have fury, and you need to have a plan. You need to be able to slow down time. “It is how to put your will,” he says, “and not have him put his will on you.” You will lose more than you win. You will have to get up each time and fight harder. Fencing transformed Westbrook’s life, but it also gave him a point of stability. The rules and the rituals of the sport are precise and never change. Neither do the limits of the world: a fencing strip is two metres wide and 14 metres long. Within those borders, the wildest feelings must always be concentrated into logical sequences of attack, riposte and counter-riposte. No one dies. “I have no qualms about preying upon the weaknesses of my enemies,” Westbrook observed towards the end of his fighting career. “To do this in life is a crime, but to do it in the sport of fencing is to create beauty and art.” He still loves these paradoxes. He turns them over in his mind. “It is really negative to want to fight,” he tells me at one point. “But you have to kind of love it in a positive way. You have got to love to destroy your enemy.” Most things have another side to them. It’s the same with standing on your own. We can all only ever become truly independent – fight on our own two feet – when we have been shaped by someone else. Westbrook’s mentor was Csaba Elthes, an old Hungarian cavalry officer, who honed his pupil’s lunges and parries (the tierce, the quarte, the sixte) for more than 20 years. The two men met when Westbrook was in college. At first the relationship was too fiery. Elthes, who was in his sixties, reminded Westbrook of Dracula. They parted, but Westbrook returned after a year, and Elthes deepened his pupil’s understanding of the sport. He introduced the stray from New Jersey to the history of fencing: its origins in ancient Egypt, 3,000 years ago, and the great black swordsman of the past. The father of Alexandre Dumas, the author of The Three Musketeers, was the son of a Caribbean slave and became a general in Napoleon’s army. Westbrook was intrigued by the stories, but no more. “That was never the drive that got me started,” he says.
“That was after the fact.” It was the fighting he craved. He and Elthes trained seven days a week. One day they sparred so furiously that the master accidentally stabbed his pupil in the throat. There was barely any blood. It was a perfect tracheotomy. Westbrook went to hospital for a few days, but slipped away to compete at a championship. “Csaba used to always tell me, ‘If you are successful in fencing you will always be successful in life.’” he says. “It is a mirror image.” Westbrook opened the doors of his own fencing programme, the Peter Westbrook Foundation, in February 1991. Six kids showed up. It wasn’t bad going. He was only hoping to teach a dozen or so. The next week there were 40. Now 150 children come to his morning training sessions every Saturday at the Manhattan Fencing Club on 28th Street, in Chelsea. There are 200 more on the waiting list. Over the years, thousands of young people, overwhelmingly from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, have learned to fence and to strive after his example. The foundation runs academic and elite training programmes as well, and Westbrook fencers have represented America at the last five Olympic Games. Nzingha Prescod first came to a class when she was nine years old. Her mother raised her and her sister in the Flatlands, in south-east Brooklyn, and named her after a 17thcentury Angolan goddess. “My father was not in the picture growing up,” she says. Prescod had tried ballet and swimming and tennis before her mother enrolled her in a sport she had barely heard of. “She heard about this programme that was sending black kids from Harlem and Brooklyn to the Olympics,” she recalls. Prescod was bemused by her first experience. There were more than a hundred children there. The movements were strange. But it didn’t take her long to realise that the teachers were exceptional: national champions and Olympians. “They were also black,” she says. “Just having that representation was really powerful.” Prescod remembers seeing her own future: “envisioning it so solidly,” she recalls. “This could be my path.” No two fencers are same. Prescod has never been as demonstrative, as obviously charged as Westbrook. “I was never really a destroyer,” she says. “Fencing for me was always like a skill thing.” People gravitate towards different weapons according to their character, and Prescod’s blade is the foil – a discipline of patience and precision. Her day-to-day coach, Buckie Leach, who works at the foundation, is obsessed with detail. The fight comes in many forms, “whether you are fighting the other person,” says Prescod, “or fighting what is difficult for you.” Now 24, she fought at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, coming 10th, and has a job at Ernst and Young, the accountancy firm. Westbrook still has her attention. “I don’t know anyone like Peter,” she says. Sometimes, it’s like he can see through her. “Everything he says to me is spot on all the time. And I am, like, ‘Wow, how did you do that?’ He can pick things out.” It’s what fencing masters have done for centuries. “My coach had to look into me, to see my strength, to see my weaknesses,” says Westbrook. “We do the same thing.” The only thing that can’t be taught is the hunger to fight in the first place. “Only a few people can win medals. Only a few people can go to the Olympics,” says Westbrook. One way to excel is to do it how he did: to come from the streets. “I would never say it’s easier. But you can get this type of anger, this type of fighting ability,” he says. That’s what Westbrook searches for now, what excites him: the energy that can be focused by fencing, the anger that he can mix with skill. “Brush the dirt of their shoulders. Brush off the negativity and show them how to fight here,” Westbrook says. “The harder the struggle, the greater you can become.” 235
sabre & foil
sabre & foil
A Partial Explanation of Some of the Aspects of Fencing
Equipment fencing equipment 1. Mask 2. Jacket 3. Glove 4. Socks 5. Breeches 1
PISTE 6. Centre Line 7. On-guard Line: Where fencers stand to begin or resume 8. Warning Area: Last two metres marked to warn fencers they are near end of piste. 9. Retreating off end of piste results in point awarded to opponent
Weapons and Target Areas foil
As a successor to the lightweight sword used by nobles to train for battle, the foil weighs less than 500 grams and the flexible rectangular blade is 90 centimetres in length. Points are scored when the tip of the blade hits a reliable target – to the waist on the back and the torso between the groin and the shoulders. Parts considered off target are the neck, legs, arms and head. The foil hits the targets at an extremely fast speed, so electronic scoring is used to detect if the hits are valid.
Meaning ‘sword’ in French, the épée is a heavier version of the duelling sword. Weighing 775 grams, it has a larger guard and a wider, stronger blade. As with the foil, touches are only scored with the point of the blade, although in épée the whole body is a credible target. Épée users do not have to wear a lamé because the whole body is a valid target area, so they have much more freedom.
The sabre is a contemporary version of the fierce cavalry sword. Unlike the foil and the épée, the sabre scores with the edge as well as the point of the blade. Sabreurs can hit anywhere above the waist except the hands. The lower half of the body is invalid, to imitate a cavalry rider on a horse. A lamé must also be worn, covering the target area and, as the head is also a valid hit, the fencer’s mask is wired electronically too.
Basic Positions and Lines
There are eight principle positions used in fencing – prime, seconde, tierce, quarte, quinte, sixte, septime and octave, and these make up the
elemental parries. There are two high and two low lines and each include two positions that are established according to whether the blade
is higher or lower than the hand’s placement. In fencing, the wrist acts as the continuation and pivot of the hand – the fingers control the
weapon. This constraint means that the fencer is able to feel an elevated awareness of their contender’s comeback.
abcdef a. lange & sĂśhne artemide b&b italia bell & ross beyond retro boss bottega veneta bulgari canali cartier caruso christian dior church's cp company david clulow dior homme dunhill escentric molecules fendi fila flos
alange-soehne.com artemide.com bebitalia.com bellross.com beyondretro.com hugoboss.com bottegaveneta.com bulgari.com canali.com cartier.co.uk carusomenswear.com dior.com church-footwear.com cpcompany.co.uk davidclulow.com dior.com dunhill.com escentric.com fendi.com fila.co.uk flos.com
ghjlmn gieves & hawkes giorgio armani gucci hermĂˆs jil sander john smedley lemaire levi's made & crafted LIGNE roset loewe louis vuitton maison margiela margaret howell marni martine rose the new yorker noah nyc
gievesandhawkes.com armani.com gucci.com hermes.com jilsander.com johnsmedley.com lemaire.fr levi.co.uk ligne-roset.com loewe.com louisvuitton.com maisonmargiela.com margarethowell.co.uk marni.com martine-rose.com newyorker.com noahnyc.com
orlebar brown our legacy patek philippe paul & shark paul smith persol prada president's ralph lauren ralph lauren purple label richard james rolex salvatore ferragamo sockshop stone island tudor vitra woolrich john rich & bros
orlebarbrown.com ourlegacy.se patek.com paulandshark.co.uk paulsmith.com persol.com prada.com presidents7bell.com ralphlauren.co.uk ralphlauren.co.uk richardjames.co.uk rolex.com ferragamo.com sockshop.co.uk stoneisland.co.uk tudorwatch.com vitra.co.uk woolrich.com
IN addition to global kiosks, travel hubs, and news stands, port can be found here
Also available on the entire VistaJet fleet, vistajet.com hotels 41 hotel andaz hyatt the bentley the berkeley blakes browns the cadogan charlotte street hotel chelsea wyndham claridges hotel connaught corinthia covent garden hotel dean street townhouse the dorchester egerton house the forbury four seasons hotel the gore the halkin haymarket hotel hilton park lane jumeirah carlton tower jumeirah lowndes hotel
41 Buckingham Palace Road 40 Liverpool Street 27–33 Harrington Gardens Wilton Place 33 Roland Gardens Albermarle Street 75 Sloane Street 15–17 Charlotte Street Chelsea Harbour Drive 49 Brook Street 16 Carlos Place Whitehall Place 10 Monmouth Street 69–71 Dean Street 53 Park Lane 7–19 Egerton Terrace 26 The Forbury Hamilton Place 189–190 Queens Gate 5 Halkin St 1 Suffolk Place 22 Park Lane 1 Cadogan Place 21 Lowndes Street
knightsbridge hotel the landmark the lanesborough the langham mandarin oriental marriot marble arch marriott park lane the may fair the milestone my hotel bloomsbury number sixteen the park lane hotel the pelham hotel the ritz royal garden hotel sanctum soho hotel sanderson hotel the soho hotel st pancras swissotel the howard w london wyndham grand london the zetter hotel
9 Adam Street 40 Dover Street 67 Dean Street 28 St James’s Street Rose Square 18 Clifford Street 9 Halkin Street 127 Piccadilly 7–12 Gracechurch Street 24 Ludgate Hill 8 Northumberland Avenue 170 Kensal Road 24 Hertford Street 25 Northumberland Avenue 53 Park Lane 16 St James’s Square 191 Portobello Road 62 Chamber Street 87–88 Mount Street 23 Mecklenburgh Square 45 Dean Street 162 Chiswick High Road 20 Portman Square 24 Endell Street 116–123 Pall Mall
the ivy club kensington rooms the kingly club lansdowne club les ambassadeurs club london capital club morton’s members club naval & military club new cavendish club oxford & cambridge club penzance art club portland club queen’s club rac club rac club epsom rendezvous the rookery royal british legion club royal ocean yacht club royal society of medicine royal thames yacht club shoreditch house soho house travellers club the watermark club
10 Beaufort Gardens 222 Marylebone Road Hyde Park Corner 1c Portland Place 66 Knightsbridge 34 George Street 40 Park Lane Stratton Street 1 Kensington Court 11–13 Bayley Street 16 Sumner Palce Piccadilly 15 Cromwell Place 150 Piccadilly 2–24 Kensington High Street 20 Warwick Street 50 Berners Street 4 Richmond Mews 379–381 Euston Road 12 Temple Place 10 Wardour Street Chelsea Harbour 86–88 Clerkenwell Road
clubs adam street arts club black’s boodle’s club the bromptons brook’s club caledonian club cavalry and guards club club quarters, gracechurch club quarters, st paul’s club quarters, trafalgar the cobden club colony club the commonwealth club the dorchester club east india club electric house the english martyr’s club the george club goodenough club groucho club high road house home house london the hospital club institute of directors
9 West St (Front door) 131–137 Cromwell Road 4 Kingly Court 9 Fitzmaurice Place 5 Hamilton Place 15 Abchurch Lane 28 Berkeley Square 7–9 Babmaes Street 44 Great Cumberland Place 71 Pall Mall Chapel Street, Penzance 69 Brook Street Palliser Road 89 Pall Mall Woodcote Park Clubhouse, Epsom 14 Old Park Lane 12 Peter’s Lane 247–249 New King’s Road 20 St James’s Place 1 Wimpole Street 60 Knightsbridge Ebor Street 40 Greek Street 106 Pall Mall 35 Scrutton Street
Things I Like / Things I Dislike
Jonathan Lethem Susan Sontag's diaries reveal a witty fondness for the humble list, as a way of conferring value and exploring the realms of her knowledge. Her list of likes and dislikes has become justly notorious. Here writer Jonathan Lethem picks up that baton. like Popeye, Botticelli, girl by the whirlpool, all that you touch, hot tamale, Ovaltine, every great song by the Beach Boys, all that you taste, all the Modern Lovers’ tracks, Buddy Holly, the moon over Mae West's shoulder, Marilyn who knew no shame, schnitzel with noodles, porridge oats, I Ching, tarot, Buddha, Pere Ubu, PiL, Scott Walker, the juice of the carrot, a tinkling piano in the next apartment, the pants on a Roxy usher, fires, Elvis and Scotty, Muddy Waters, toothpicks, shoelaces, sex, coffee, books, food, scissors, magazines, Hollywood, Tuesday Weld, sitting on the potty, all that you see, round or skinny bottoms, Zimmerman, Harpo, Groucho, Chico, Brenda's strange obsession for certain vegetables and fruits, Stranger in a Strange Land, cheddar cheese and pickle, England, outer space, Sun Ra, 10cc, Eric B and Rakim, Gil ScottHeron, the Slits, slap and tickle, astronauts, air, whiskers on kittens, John Coltrane's soprano, Burton and Taylor, pop art, popcorn, popsicle, Andy Warpop, phoning up a buddy, Eloise who played guitar and sang songs about whales and cops, losers, a cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces, a fairground's painted swings, the Colosseum, cellophane, the feet of Fred Astaire, the nose on the great Durante, Transformers, because there’s more than meets the eye, the song that Crosby sings, all you feel, all that you love. Magic, bible, cheaters, overflow population, Hitler, Jesus, cream-coloured ponies, health-service glasses, yellow socks, Kennedy, yoga, kings, all that you buy, book burning, bloodletting, Mickey Mouse, aeroplanes, air force, germs, guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children, A bombs, H bombs, P bombs, Q bombs, uniforms, NoDoz, Napoleon brandy, the nominee of the GOP, Los Angeles falling in the sea, fires, floods, killer bees, juju eyeball, a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop, all you distrust, those who carry around a fire hose, Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old, Bobby got leukaemia 14 years old, the Rapture and the reverent, vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light, TV hour, phony jewels, cathedrals, castles, making up rules, leather gloves, Hemingway, Eichmann, a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it, a telephone that rings but who's to answer?, how the ghost of you clings, six-time users, U2, Ole Miss, Belgians in the Congo, spinal cracker, the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world, the sound of a clown who cried in the alley, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, Dalí, a dead pony, the damp dirty prison, all that you hate. DISLIKE Lethem’s new novel, The Blot, published by Jonathan Cape, is out now. 240