VOLUME 1, ISSUE 1
tFS COLLECTIVE ON INTERIORS & EXTERIORS
letter from the editors
he Four Seventy started on an apartment floor with two women who knew they were connected creatively but didn't know what to do about it. It started with girls becoming women. It started with readers becoming writers. It's a typical coming of age tale, and neither of us find ourselves interesting enough to tell that tale. But one story we do want to tell is everything that happened after we glanced at a nightstand Courtney had re-purposed from an unfinished cedar into a pale blue during a hot, New York summer. As we moved through college, we started becoming fascinated with everything that was the antithesis of the performative. We didn't want to be on stage anymore, we didn't want to network, we didn't want to make our public lives the most important things about us. Instead, we turned inward and to the home. Home â€” the feeling, the place, the peo-
ple it connotates is the subject we just can't shake. The theme of our first-ever print issue is "Hands." Our opposable thumbs are what initially set us apart as a species. They gave us the ability to light fires, and now they give us the ability to scroll through Instagram feeds, Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds, so on and so forth. But our hands, before the invention of the Internet, were made for physical, tangible work. For planting flowers, and building bookcases, and sifting flour. Our first-ever issue is about the physicality of these labors of love. About what it means to make something with your bare hands. To feel the dirt between your fingernails and the stickiness of dough between your hands. To us, hands are sacred, and so is creation. So we took our blog and set it to print, so that we could feel tangibility yet again. We hope you enjoy it.
"our hands were made for physical, tangible work."
table of contents editorals: 03
"Love Is Not a Store-Bought Cake"
"Bindings and Bustiers"
"Watch the Light Come When You Can"
"Start with a Walk"
features: 13 15
"From the Mothers"
"Navigating Elegant Decay" 17
"A Tour of Grandeur"
"The Bird Room"
odds & Ends: 24
Facts & Favorites
love is not a storebought cake WORDS + ART // ANNA BUCKLEY
he smell of a burning match always takes me back to the late nineties, to my Grandmother’s kitchen. She exclusively lit birthday candles with matches. I can still remember the tension I would feel as I watched her lighting candle after candle, the flame licking further up the wood of the match until she’d nearly burned her finger. Just in time, with a huge huff, she’d blow out the match. This was my church; being in that old kitchen in San Clemente with my family, gathered around a birthday cake. None of us could sing very well — save for my grandmother and that sing-song voice she used to use in a church choir in Kentucky — so our rendition of “Happy Birthday” was always laughter inducing. “Is it time to bring out the cake?” someone would always ask. This was ritual, and the cake was the reliquary around which we would always gather. In classical Roman culture — thousands of years ago — cakes were basically flat rounds made with flour and nuts, sweetened with honey. Cakes were more common at weddings than birthdays. But then the fifteenth century came around, and bakeries in Germany popularized one-layer cakes for customers’ birthdays, establishing the modern birthday cake as we know it. Once the Industrial Revolution hit, the ease of mechanized production made birthday cakes in Western culture a household tradition. But that mechanization is what I’m campaigning against, with these 800 words and my personal anecdotes. Since the oldest days, baking has always been a form of science. And here’s the theory I’ve been working on: The more painstakingly you try to get it just right, the more love gets mixed in. I come from a long line of homemakers, of women who learned the art of feeding a family. My mother started me out with basic recipes, from a stained and well-loved children’s cookbook. The extra-gooey brownies were my favorite. As I got older, she introduced me to the big leagues –– alcohol-infused baked goods like her famous Kahlua chocolate cake. The more I baked with my mother, the more I came to understand a cliched but true fact of life: if it’s baked with love, it tastes better. Years of watching Cake Boss on TLC ushered in my Era of Extravagant Cake Making. My best friend Natalie often helped me with these ridiculous cake
ideas. There was the cake shaped like a mustache, for Justin. The record cake, made to look like a stack of vinyl, for Richard. The wreath-shaped cake, for a Christmas party. The cover of Darkside of the Moon in cake form, for Dom. The upside down Mad Hatter cake, for my mother’s “un-birthday.” The list goes on. While I did see these cakes as a creative outlet and technical challenge, that’s not really why I spent hours of my time in front of a hot oven, spilling flour on the floor, kneading fondant until it became usable, and dying my hands unnatural shades of teal. I honestly did it out of love. Why else would the birthday cake tradition endure thousands of years? To be a shade poetic about it, we are all just solitary beings looking to belong, and to connect with the people we call family. Celebrating each other is a bonding experience, and it’s a beloved one. That’s why I’m advocating for more home-baked cakes and fewer store-bought ones. I’m not saying store-bought cakes aren’t thoughtful, because you could just show up empty handed. But I do think there’s something lacking in this culture of wildly expensive, fondant covered cakes and trendy dessert fads, and that something is a personalized, straightfrom-the-heart (and oven) kind of love. Everybody loves Funfetti, even if it’s baked from a boxed mix. Regardless of your ability to write “Happy Birthday, Mom” in elegant cursive, a handmade and home-baked cake is always going to say more than one of those monstrous Costco sheet cakes ever could (sorry Costco, you know I’ll love you and your free food samples until I die). Quite honestly, all that I’m really advocating for is a little more personalized love in our celebratory spaces. Personally, while I’ve toned down the outlandishness of my cake baking in recent years, I’ve begun to focus more on taste, trading rubbery fondant for more edible, flavorful decor. For my mother’s 64th birthday, I made her a vanilla cake with a lemon curd filling, ombre dyed ricotta frosting, topped with blackberries, all from scratch. Yes, the shopping alone took me hours, trying to find the right brand of cheese for the frosting, asking the clerk at the supermarket where I might find the lemon curd because I’d been down every aisle twice. But that is a translation of love, and expressing love for those you care deeply about is worth the work. If we don't live for the expression and sharing of love, what are we living for?
BINDINGS AND BUSTIERS
The inner workings books, selfhood, and their visual representations WORDS + ART // COURTNEY FEE
iologically, we rely on visuals to be our most honest sense. When evolution slapped two eyes on our faces and gave us the ability to discern based on our sight, we were doomed. I could go machine-gun Pinterest on you and spew variations of the “don’t judge a book by the cover idiom”, but I’d rather call a spade a spade. More of our neurons are singularly dedicated to vision than the four other senses combined. Lofty goals of being completely unbiased isn’t happening in any version of life. As far as the visual representation of books go, Jhumpa Lahri deals with it best. She’s a professor of creative writing at Princeton, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and an overall brilliant woman who’s dealt with a cover’s representation of her words for many years. In one of her essays,
The Clothing of Books, Lahiri focuses on this push and pull that covers have with their respective texts. Fascinated at a young age by the way uniforms represented belonging in the private schools of her cousins, like most of us, she grew up to be hyper-aware of her own visual presentation (and its inconsistencies). Lahiri’s text echoes concerns that writers have had with a public life since forever. But more broadly it echoes the self-preservation any artist faces after creationism. Like, how is it possible to create an accurate persona for the public and not in a bildungsroman of a whitewoman-living-in-Brooklyn’s-holistic-lunchroutine way? The underlying question she explores is simple: “How am I seen?”
Lahiri says the cover of a text is a door or a face in which the reader can enter. It welcomes and prepares the eye for what’s to come. With this lens, a cover can either be faithful or misleading to its content — take the Alexis Neier’s Louboutin/Bebe shoe incident or the accuracy to which a Vineyard Vines ensemble can eventually lead you to a New Englander who’s father still thinks slavery was theoretically a good economic experiment. Lahiri mentions the effortless artist partnership of Virginia Wolf and her cover illustrator Vanessa Bell (who rarely finished Wolf ’s books before she drew). Hemingway would write 100 titles and scrap them all before he was happy. J R.R Tolkien thought The Hobbit’s cover was atrocious. Hunter S. Thompson allegedly threw a punch or two when designers didn’t understand his creative vision for Hell’s Angels. And on the other end of the spectrum, David Foster Wallace said this in an interview about the original Infinite Jest cover: DFW: This was my major complaint about the cover of the book. …Is that it looks — on American Airlines flights? The cloud system, it’s almost identical... DL: Oh, that’s funny. What did you want instead? DFW: Oh, I had a number of — there’s a great photo of Fritz Lang directing Metropolis. Do you know this one? Where he’s standing there, and there are about a thousand shaven-headed men in kind of rows and phalanxes, and he’s standing there with a megaphone? It wouldn’t have been…Michael [Pietsch, Wallace's editor at Little Brown] said it was too busy and too like conceptual, it required too much brain work on the part of the audience…. DL: Because you were making a metaphor on the cover? DFW: No, I just thought it was cool — Covers of books are assigned to a text and take on the responsibility of informing in the same way our aesthetic choices in fashion and design do. Everything we adorn also bears the mark of our identity, whether that be from a smear of honey on the top pocket of a jean jack-
"the responsibility that self-expression requires is exhausting." et or being photographed enough times in that one old Hendrix t-shirt for it to become synonymous with who we are. Visual objects define us and we help to define the object, accidentally or with intent. What do we do when this visual representation becomes burdening? Probably find the residue of eyelash extensions, fake freckles, and materialism left on our hands, like the trends of late. Lahiri herself often feels tormented by the magnitude of choice. The responsibility that self-expression requires is exhausting, but it’s an act we all can’t help but participate in. The visual is at constant risk for objectification or commodification. If only cover design was as simple as symmetry, color scheme, and a pop of contrast. If only the right stitch of a jean and hem of a shirt guaranteed the correct perception. Once a visual enters the game, it invites analytics, and internal contents are no longer safe from the eye. No matter how trite we may try to deem clothing, design, or cosmetic additions to be, they are optical echoes of our true selves. Although I wish I coined the term optical echo and tattooed it on my body while I was still awful and nineteen, Lahiri actually borrows it from Richard Baker, who says this: “Books come to stand for various episodes in our lives, for certain idealisms, follies of belief, moments of love. Along the way they accumulate our marks, our stains, our innocent abuses—they come to wear our experience of them on their covers and bindings like wrinkles on our skin.” I suppose we’ll all continue to annunciate who we are with bodily alterations and masks. Hopefully one day everyone will be on the same page—that these covers are really dressing vessels containing something unknowable.
watch the light come when you can: A meditation on morning routines PAGE 9
WORDS + ART x ANNA BUCKLEY
:05 AM: Alarm goes off. I mumble angrily to myself while searching for my phone in the covers and mash the snooze button. 8:11 AM: Alarm goes off. I open one eye to check the time, give myself four more minutes that I don't have, and hit snooze. 8:15 AM: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze. Again. And then turn off all my other alarms. 9:12 AM: I wake up in a panic, hastily slather on some foundation, run a brush through my hair, throw on pants, and run out the door. You see, I am not a morning person. My job, which supports my livelihood, however, necessitates that I be. Maybe because of my utter inability to be a real adult before 11:00AM, I’ve always been fascinated by the early-hour habits of famous authors, musicians and artists. Anna Wintour (Vogue editor-in-chief) wakes up at 5:45 a.m. every single morning to get in an hour of tennis. P.G. Wodehouse (author) would wake at 7:30 a.m., do calisthenics on the back porch, make a breakfast of toast, coffee cake, and tea, and read a book. I, personally, identify most with the routine that Toni Morrison (author) kept, which she discussed in The Paris Review, Issue 128, 1993: “I, at first, thought I didn’t have a ritual, but then I remembered that I always get up and make a cup of coffee and watch the light come … And I realized that for me this ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space I can only call nonsecular… Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transaction. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.” As a kid, my favorite time of the day was dawn. The morning light often signaled that it was time for my parents, older sister and me to leave on one of our family road trips up north,
"the light of dawn felt like a reward to me." to Mammoth, or Lake Tahoe, or Reno, Nevada to visit my aunt and uncle. After spending all night tossing and turning out of excitement for what was to come, the light of dawn felt like a reward to me. I still crave that feeling every day, still love the dawn more than any other hour out of the 24 we’ve been allotted. “Light is the signal in the transaction,” Morrison said. While obviously open for interpretation, to me this means that being awake early enough to recognize the passing of time allows you to appreciate it, succumb to it, to think about the fact that this is life and another day brings another new chance at opportunity — and that brings clarity, and a sense of feeling grounded. There are scientific arguments about what makes a good early ritual, which I recommend for an enlightening read. “The longer the day goes on, the more fatigue your self-control experiences, the more important it is to make those early morning hours count” is one of my favorite tokens of knowledge from studies of early-bird-gets-the-worm theories. Personally, I've noticed that when I make the time to wake up early enough that I’m able to take my favorite coffee mug outside into the sun and stare up at the sky for a while, I have a much more balanced, grounded mindset heading into the workday. If I’m able to capture the smallest essence of that old childhood feeling of loving what’s to come after that dawn light hits, my whole perspective shifts, at least infinitesimally, for the day. I still have mornings where I lose my battle with the snooze button and rush off to work with a half toasted bagel in my mouth and no sense of calm in sight. But I'm working on it. What I mean to say is this: Just watch the light come, when you can.
START WALK WITH A
WORDS // COURTNEY FEE PAGES 11-12
Certeau's Guide to Preserving Individuality
s we've discovered over the entire existence of the human race, systems of power blow. There is no way to smile when discussing the hierarchy that pushes people into classes and roles entirely dependent on the amount of power they have. Unless you're currently getting off to the thought of Authoritarianism, I'm pretty sure this is a conversation that's applicable for anyone. A system of power that people often forget as they slurp their lukewarm Thai food from Postmates and wait for an Oat-Milk Agave Chocolate Matcha Latte in their arts district, is the power structure forced upon us by major cities. Through routines, time-sheets, and spending 48 minutes on WebMD's symptom checker because our left eye is stress twitching from smog...we are sometimes grounded in the temporality and urbanity of the city. We must pay acute attention to how we operate in cities, and how planned infrastructures make it easy for us to lose our sense of our personal clock. How can we remove ourselves from the never-ending cycle of being dutiful to systems? The ones that make our migraines pulse, our anxiety trip over itself? How can we begin to serve ourselves purposefully? With a little instruction from Certeau, and an undisclosed amount of bourbon. In Certeau's essay "Walking in the City", a piece from his larger collection, The Practice of Everyday Life, he teaches us about power, spatial practices, and self-hood. This guy makes my convoluted thoughts about space sound childish and plastic.
I've spent hours dwelling in his explanations of urban infrastructure. The essay feels worn in and comfortable to my thinking and my speech, though, still impossible to regurgitate. Maybe that's the bourbon. I'm always a little off with the 1.5 ounces thing. As if the term city has also absorbed bourbon through the spaces of its letters, the implication of "city" has become blurry. It's no longer a location honed with the physicality of a zip code. Modernity and technology present us now with another city. The first city we know well, as it's the conventional modern metropolis, the physical city. You inhale and flow with rush hour, sit in the parks, dilapidate with the cobblestone. This is the city Certeau deals with. The other city is the technological consortium that we call the internet. Code reigns king, broadcasting the rigidity that hold websites together like pavement. We bow to the same traffic, one happens to yield clicks and posts. But both still represent a power game between the individual and a system of power. Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to say that the looming pillars and urban plans are our enemies... they are just very separate from being like us: an individual experiencing them. The former represents order and observation (think of the Panopticon or the latest episode of the Bachelor). The latter, us individuals, represent personal memory and the intimate habits of a life. The best metaphor Certeau offers us to begin understanding a city is by comparing language to city structure. Geometric spaces,
housing similarities, and roadways establish peace and order. They act in the same manner as formal grammar and linguistic rules act as a baseline for language: "The geometrical space of urbanists and architects seems to have the status of the proper meaning constructed by grammarians and linguists in order to have a normal and normative level to which they can compare the drifting of figurative language". When we exist, we occupy the state of drifting. With our personal phrases, memories, and spatial haunts, we create clear separations that show individualization. Our personal experiences allow us to remain autonomous and prevent ourselves from becoming a "cog in the system". An action that everyone can use to remain independent entity is pretty simple: walk. You enunciate that you exist by walking. According to Certeau, the action of walking is the ultimate expression of agency. By doing so you create a tourner un parcous, a lovely French phrase that means to compose a path. And you're composing a path in such a way that you form an individual style of living. You establish a new route on established grids and maps. If you are moving, walking, or conscious of the steps you take and the places you occupy, you are making space your own. You are no longer a complacent figure on a map who is following the general topography. For this reason, Certeau refers to the act of walking as a practice of voyeurism. You can now observe the experience that a city is trying to afford to you while having your own experience.
The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language. And explained in Certeau's words: "It is true that the operations of walking can be traced on city maps in such a way as to transcribe their paths (here well-trodden, there very faint) and their trajectories (going this way and not that). But these thick and thin curves only refer, like words, to the absence of what has passed by." So in layman's terms, I often think about what it means to establish my own kind of self-geography. Where is my agency created? And usually, the place that allows me to create that intimate map is inside the walls of my apartment. I am allowed to create roadways by placing furniture or create ruins with dirty clothes overflowing in room corners. Place a mirror there, an orchid here. I'll arrange my books so they stand like ionic pillars on my floorâ€“â€“holding up food trays, car keys, who I am. But I am still acting within the confines of my building, which has its exact placement on the grid of the street, like all the other buildings. Still, we are all looking for our time-slot to make an announcement of who we are. And quite often we are making these announcements in the second type of city, through snippets of media. We perpetuate the negative aspects of being a voyeur, participate in an outward gaze towards other people's paths and bodies. We do not need a technologic map of our intimacies, as accessible as a geotag. So for now, for the love of all that is good and right, start walking.
"We are all looking for our time-slot to make an announcement of who we are." 12
FROM THE MOTHERS:
on the art of homemaking and passing on family traditions WORDS // ANNA BUCKLEY I was struggling to keep cake crumbs from spreading while icing my sister's baby shower cake when my mom threw me one of her typical sage tips: "Dip the knife in water, that's what mom used to do, right?" she asked my aunt Maggie, who confirmed. So I did. And it worked. Meatloaf, chicken divan, yam and cranberry casserole, chicken fried pork chops, Spanish rice, KahlĂşa cake, carrot cake, Bacardi rum cake, apple sauce drop cookies â€” the list of Maggie and Edie's favorite recipes goes on. The list of memories I have of baking and cooking in the kitchen with them does, too.
Because they taught me everything I know about the house and home, I decided to sit down with them and ask them about family recipes and the art of the home.
Anna: What are some of the recipes your mother gave you that you still use to this day? Aunt Maggie: I didn't have much interest in the kitchen until I knew I was going to get married, and then I asked her for recipes. It was mainly for her turkey and stuffing recipes, because she was getting to the point when it was too big of
a meal for her to do. We all loved that stuffing recipe. That was her mother's mother's. My mom, Edie: I still have the original card that she wrote it on. M: I sat her down and wrote out them out, especially for the turkey. It was always from scratch. E: I mainly remember the Yorkshire pudding. And we did a lot of cupcakes. I found a recipe in her handwriting for her fruit salad, she called it "Mother's Fruit Salad Dressing." It's made with sugar, flour, orange juice, lemon juice and pineapple juice. You mix it together and add it to whipped cream and use it to top fruit. And I still have a copy of a recipe for Persimmon Pudding that's actually in great-grandma's handwriting. It's so old.
A: I have such fond memories of being in the kitchen with you two, so I wanted to ask you both why it's important to make memories like those and to make food for the family. M: Food I think, from our mother's perspective, was a gift. She never worked, but it was always a gift she gave to others. I look at it in the same way. We did a lot of dinner parties in Seal Beach and the sharing with friends, coming together, the conversation, getting to know people better... you learn so much from your friends and people usually come together over food more than anything else. E: For holidays, it's really all about family. M: I think the devastating thing was when mother passed. I think I called you [my mother] after that, before the first Thanksgiving without her. I was so intimidated. It was like, 'Now I've got to grow up and do the turkey. I don't really want to, but everybody is looking forward to it.' It was a milestone. E: It's hard on the holidays, like after she passed, I remember really missing her when we had to do it on our own without her. But at the same time, we had all of those good memories to carry with us.
M: No matter what the hassle was, it was always worth it, because you knew that everyone was looking forward to what you were doing, enjoying the day. It's been great for me â€” Heather [my sister, Maggie's niece] has done the last two Thanksgiving dinners â€” and she and Allen have just done an incredible job. I remember sitting there on the patio watching everyone having a good time together and the food was just great. After doing it for so many years, to be able to sit back and see that things really hadn't changed that much, that it was the same as it was for us when we were young..." E: Mom was such a hard worker. She had four kids, but she always had dinner on the table, breakfast too, she packed our lunches, she kept the house clean. She always had a good attitude about it all and really enjoyed it. M: That's a hard thing to do, to do three meals a day.
A: I sort of feel like homemaking today is a bit under-appreciated. You can be like me, a working woman, and still value cooking and baking and sharing food with people, don't you think? M: Having friends over is an important thing. What cooking does is it gives you an opportunity to be creative. The more you cook, you can learn to substitute a little of this or a little of that. Make it more your own. Looking back, as a child, you don't think about where it's coming from or if they can pay for it or anything like that. But now that I'm older, I wonder, 'Gee, sometimes, I know they were struggling, but they did it.' I think if you have a family, it's important to try to fix something and create those memories. E: Anna, you and Heather and I have had so much fun in the kitchen, and that's something that is very near and dear to my heart. You got into making cakes and having friends over, and I remember Heather and I sitting at the kitchen table during Christmastime, rolling 100 rum balls and laughing. Making food as a gift for other people... I don't know, it just makes you feel good."
A TOUR OF GRANDEUR: A Modern Exploration of Savannah’s Design WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHS // COURTNEY FEE
omfortably nestled in between my pointer finger and my middle finger sat a Fuego Taki. The South Carolina rest-stop that united us was absolutely a chance encounter. I may take shots of hot sauce when I’m sick to boost my immunity (I operate in a medicinal fantasy land where I refuse modern medicine…for Cholua), but spice has never been something that draws me in. I think Sriracha is merely underwhelming and hot Cheetos should probably be used as building filler. So as I sat on 95, the bites I was taking were painfully calculating and small. I let each Taki nestle on my tongue and warn me of the spice that was about to come. I ate one an hour. That’s my legacy of excitement. My dad likes to rest cigars in that same place. He also had one an hour. Hereditary vices, hereditary oral fixations—we all think our identities are unique right up to the point that we realize we’re a concoction of the idiosyncrasies around us. After 12 hours of driving,
we pulled into a Savannah Econolodge where we were stationing ourselves for the night. The overcast parking lot hummed with people tailgating with green-bead metallic necklaces and bud-light-ladden tank tops from the infamous St. Patricks Day party that happens every year. We were quick to head into the city center to beat the night crowds … or perhaps deep down to watch them. Savannah is touted for its romanticism, open container laws, and most relevantly is heavily propelled by its art scene and rich architecture. A few reasons for this lie in it’s slightly complicated history. It was a strategic port during both the American Revolution and the American Civil war, and is the child of eighteenth-century town planning. This means it’s built on a grid, has 22 unique squares, and was molded around the Parisian model of city development. I thought I was merely disassociating when many of Savannah’s downtown spaces reminded me of streets I had walked before. It’s
"savannah is touted for it's romanticism." odd how your body always recognizes a place before your mind does. I was suddenly in the grandeur of Luxembourg, feeling the heaviness of it on my chest. Before arriving I took an interest in Forysth Park because green infrastructure within urban development makes me weak in the knees. Besides the extremely problematic confederate statue that still stands a little too proudly, the 30 acres of park is an incredible part of the southern edge of the Historic District. Luckily, the houses of Drayton St, E Gaston St, and Whitaker St sandwich the park into a digestible size. As rain began to hit my camera lens in the same percussion that my dad would roll his eyes at my need to photograph every tree, the brewing storm led us to the outskirts of the park. 40% of the buildings in Savannah have architectural or historical significance, making it the largest historic district in the country. Supposedly all building styles between the 18th20th centuries can be found amongst the layers
of Spanish Moss. As we strolled down the street with the smoke of my dad's cigar leaving a trail, the diversity of each house made us stop, and me consequently cough. There were Federal style houses, Georgians, Gothic Revivals, Italianates, Regencys, Greek Revivals, the list goes on. Ornamental ironwork was constantly peppered in properties along with Second French Empire styles that seemed to thread every street in the Victorian district together. But this architecture was not only reserved for schools, long-standing restaurants, or the houses with old money. Attorney offices, dentists, and the every-day populate them too. But I couldn't help but have my mind drift to the iterations of the original occupant of Savannah’s coast, Tomochichi, chief of the Yamacaw Indians when he said: “Why do you build your homes to outlast the occupants?”. Even with the slow beauty of the city center you’ll eventually ask yourself what Savannah is trying to outlive.
NAVIGATING ELEGANT DECAY The stories antiques tell when you stop to listen WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHS // COURTNEY FEE
y maternal grandpa is a pool-playing, (ex) race-car driving, blue-collar, hard-labor, famed storyteller. He taught me things like how to fish when I was smaller than the smallest fishing rod and how to stealthily gather junk food into Publix supermarket carts. I caught a lot of bass with him during my younger years, and consequently heard a lot of stories. His favorite was hammering home the importance of apple butter in the '40s and how he slathered it on everything. He'll go on endlessly about his resilient walks to elementary school even in the snow storms of Deer Park, Long Island. I giggle at him when tangents but his abil-
ity to share moments of his life was one of my first exposures to the oral tradition of storytelling. He's had a lot of time to collect the minutia of a life. For some, it is still taboo to get old, weathering in all the ways aging causes us to change. Instead of speaking about it with honesty, we pretend it doesn't exist by promoting night creams, fat transfers, and youthful fixes to somehow slow the process from ever happening. So in order to keep the social peace, I stay away from the word "aging" and refer to this time-lapse gently, either as elegant decay or more colloquially, antiquing. Besides, there is an irrevocably special association that antiques
bring. They are squeaking chairs and dusty end tables, lamps, and ottomans, that sit around like old wise men and women, ready to ooze their own particular “back in my day” spiel. Antiques invite history, emotional cataloging, and a call for remembrance. And just like any other story, sometimes you want to listen, other times you don’t. But the trick always lies in your agency, you chose what narratives to share with others. All these small historians made out of wood and time begin to yell immediately when you step into the Cambridge Antique Market. You cross the threshold into a dizzying maze of nostalgia, trade, and personal collectibles. There is a quiet rumination that happens on the five floors of this East Cambridge mecca, whispered between displays and dealers. I trotted across highway 28 (ran full tilt to avoid an early death) on a Thursday afternoon so the place would be somewhat empty. For a self-proclaimed eclectic woman, this was an eclectic mix. On one end of the spectrum, there were Faux Louis Vuittons and bins of vintage Playboys. While on the other, ornate gold leaf lamps and books from the 1880s on wildflowers piled shelves (one of which I scooped quickly and quietly upon arrival, keeping it safe in the crook of my arm). The signs leading you from floor to floor are made of laminated paper and caution you to hold onto the rail because the stairs are uneven. I trip easily and my legs are short, therefore my hand clung to the green metal railing. Each floor has no theme nor continuity, except in the basement where bikes are sold and photographs are housed. The floors, the dealers, the conglomeration of things that would have been buried in someone's backyard or on the mantle of their home, made this place dizzying. For this institution and for most thrifts, think along the lines of "is this piece actually an antique, or is it someone's antique-looking side-project they made in their basement five years ago while eating pizza bagels?" If something looks highly reproducible, it probably was. If Johnny The Dealer has a con-
"There is a quiet rumination that happens on the five floors of this east cambridge mecca." cerning grin and pressures you into purchasing, walk away (all the repurposing Johnnys who are upstanding, apologies). Repeat after me this mantra for a quick guided meditation: I deserve to have cool shit, and not Johnny's stupid shit. If you are seasoned in pulling items and discerning their quality, take this place on. If you are a beginner or a finicky person crunched for time, try smaller spaces and inventories over this one. I spent four hours walking in circles, sending blurry snapshots to Anna, attempting to understand the warehouse in its entirety. A few of my favorite pieces were: an official hockey puck from Sweden, honorable mention ribbons for swimming from various Massachusetts towns, a Romeo and Juliet Cigar box that was holding marble chess pieces, beat up Louboutins, and an old motorcycle license plate from New Hampshire. And why did I gravitate towards this bizarre grouping? At first glance, they don't seem to trigger any particular aesthetic pleasure. Instead, they provoke intimacy. They are symbols of my own history. I was reminded of my dad's proclivity for smoking R&Js and peering over the walls of a hockey rink to watch him play — memories brought up by the touch and dust of a random place. It's funny when you accidentally dig up yourself. The process of antiquing engages you with humanity: your own and others. The Cambridge Antique Warehouse was overwhelming because it was so incredibly human. No pretension, no coddling or elitism, just what it was. You could hear it breathe, tense its muscles, cry arthritic. I could hear my Poppy clearing his throat to begin a story.
THE BIRD ROOM WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHS //ANNA BUCKLEY
aving recently moved into a new apartment in the sunny City of Angels, I decided to do something pretty permanent-feeling: Hang up the antique bird prints passed on to me from my grandmother, which were left to her by my great-aunt. Fitting them into my bedroom decor was easy; my style and my great aunt Della's share similarities seemingly passed on through our DNA. What has resulted is a Mid-Century meets vintage bird meets seventies hodge-podge that I now call home.
odds & ends
ODDS & ENDS fact Opposable thumbs are not what make the human hand unique, but instead it’s the ability of the small and ring fingers to rotate across the palm to meet the thumb. A phenomena called ulnar opposition gives a unique flexibility of the carpometacarpal joints of these fingers, down in the middle of the palm.
songs that pointed us in the right direction “Dog Years” - Maggie Rogers “Die Young” - Sylvan Esso “Smoke” - Mosa Wild “On and On” - Eryka Badu “Rome” - 1901 “Lovesick” - Mura Masa “Death and Taxes” - Daniel Caesar “Elevator Song” (feat. Ren Ford) - Keaton Henson “On and Off ” - Maggie Rogers “Calico Man” - Phox “Solo” - Frank Ocean “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” - Anderson Paak “Lakes” - Greta Stanley
a recipe of kneading before you wake, I am left to my own devices. to char bread in the toaster when it reaches its arms too far. to categorically fit my life into a place that you are not part of. i cut onion with a japanese chef ’s knife. i watch the acidity form geometry on the blade. i imagine the stainless steel before it was shaped for the handle. i imagine you thinking about me before i existed for you.