Thursday, July 31, 2008

Benjy Loves Basketball

While I was in Los Angeles, Benjy stayed with a dear friend in Paris. Once in a while, she would snap pictures of my little beast to let me know he was doing great, and that his beloved basket ball was never far away from him...
The blogger and super talented photographer Mansuetude recently asked if Benjy kept a dream diary. He might, and if he does, it probably reads: Take me to the ball game! Under the covers in bed, his ball conveniently at paw, maybe he dreams of joining the Los Angeles Lakers. He may be tiny, but he can jump.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Surprise, surprises

What a wonderful surprise! I have been watering this little plant in my kitchen for months and just as I returned from Los Angeles, a few shy flowers bloomed! They're graceful and fragile as butterflies, poised against thick, velvet green leaves. It's bliss.
And they make me hum, as violets were the favorite flowers of a composer I have been worshiping for ever, Claude Debussy...

Other lovely surprises: receiving awards from Argentina's Karina (El Beso) and also Australia's Hila (Your Cover's Blown). I am a fan of both these ladies, who love books and style as much as I do... Thank you so much, girls! I wonder how I could pass these on to only a few blogs; hmmmm, I'll have to think...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reading In Los Angeles

Here are the books I read while in Los Angeles...
... I loved Deanne Stillman's Mustang, a gripping history of wild horses in America, with some very sad insights into those gorgeous creatures' situation today...
... thank you to blogger and avid reader Hila, who recommended I read Amos Oz (Fima reminded me of some passages by Philip Roth and JM Coetzee), as well as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a superbly written classic that moved me deeply...
... I have already mentioned great dancer Carlos Acosta's emotional No Way Home - get it, read it, enjoy it!...
... Iran has been dear to my heart since I lived there as a little girl, so I was excited to delve into The Septembers of Shiraz, by Dalia Sofer, a worthwhile but tough novel that leads you straight into the prisons of Tehran...
... finally, I tore through the witty and smart letters of Nancy Mitford; Mitford should be given a lot more credit as a top-notch writer, and I try to do her justice in an Anthology of British Literature, to be published in France soon, in which I wrote the chapter about her - as far as I know, it will be the first time she will be included in such an anthology. Nancy rules, and that will be my last word today.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Goodbye, Los Angeles

As I leave Los Angeles (already!), I thought I'd share some of my favorite addresses:
For the best dance classes, Westside Ballet, Stewart Street, Santa Monica
For great breakfasts (buckwheat pancakes for me, please), Deli, corner of Third Street Promenade and Broadway
For a super fresh lunch, Babalu, corner of Montana Avenue and 10th street, Santa Monica
Frozen yogurt at Pinkberry, Montana Avenue, Santa Monica
Apple Store on Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
American Apparel, Main Street, Santa Monica
Get a haircut with Lovy at Piero, Main Street, Santa Monica
Vintage shoes at Remix, 1705 1/2 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back By Popular Demand: The Getty Villa

You asked for more, so here is some more! I took these pictures at the Getty Villa.
These pieces fulfilled me, as someone who loves typography, animals and is fascinated with grace and the human body. The shepherd feeds his dog with his hand, isn't that a wonderful incarnation of our long lasting friendship with those creatures?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carlos Acosta's No Way Home

I love reading dancers' memoirs - when I was a child, I read and reread obsessively ballerina Claude Bessy's Danseuse Etoile, in which she recounts her career at the Paris Opera. She has become a controversial figure in France, but back then she taught me about wanting to be tough and independent.
Now, Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta's No Way Home has become a new favorite (along with the memoirs of Allegra Kent, Carolyn Brown and Vassili Panov). In this haunting volume, Acosta remembers not only his rise from bad boy to legendary dancer whom many called the new Nureyev or the new Baryshnikov, but also his travels and his deep feeling of home-sickness away from Cuba. He expresses the distress of being an alien, of missing one's family, in a way that you can't forget. Even if you're not interested in dance (tsssskk), this book is worth reading.
It's worth buying just for the cover of the book, if you ask me!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fashion Buys

I find insects fascinating, so I couldn't resist this yellow and green Levi's tee (a mere $10, if you want to know).
And because I am also into looks that borrow from men's wardrobes, I fell for these American Apparel mini overalls/shorts with suspenders, and their wide buttons, large pockets, flannel-like fabric. It's a fun counterpoint to Los Angeles's girls' ubiquitous sports shorts...
You see, I've been a very reasonable shopper - or would have been if it hadn't been for all the books I bought. More on this some time this week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

At The Getty Villa

When you think of Malibu, you probably don't think "ancient Greek and Roman art" but since the lavish Getty Villa reopened after extensive renovations, Malibu has indeed become one of the world's supreme destinations for Greek and Roman statues worshipers such as myself.

From the collection of pictures I took, I had the hardest time picking just a few marble ladies and a couple of other things... The graceful postures of these statutes are an inspiration for me when I dance, and their beauty moves me deeply.
I also loved the Children's Room, in which kids can learn about ancient art as well as try their hand at it! With black markers, they are invited to tell a story on vases in the fashion of Grecian masters.

If you want to see more, let me know, and I'll make sure to prepare another post with additional pictures - such as, say, the animal-themed ones, or the mosaics.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Skinny Palm Trees, Colorful Flowers

It's well known that Los Angeles is all about looking your best - toned bodies, slender limbs, perfect hair. So I found those palm trees very in keeping with the local aesthetics. Where else would you see such skinny, if not anorexic trees, reaching so tall?
I grew up around the beach-side palm trees of Uruguay and the densely planted palm trees of Iraq; the latter gave us the sweetest treats ever, dates. Uruguayan and Iraqi palm trees alike were sturdy as can be, yielding waves of generous shades, so these Angelino palm trees really seem exotic and funny.

I thought I'd also show you some of the wonderful flowers from the garden of the house where I'm staying. Aren't they bold, and colorful as summer?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pinkberry... Yum!

I remember hearing about the Pinkberry craze in Los Angeles when I was in France and thinking I absolutely had to try this new frozen yogurt. And now I have!
There's a Pinkberry café on the super posh Montana avenue - of course. I love yogurt's slightly acidic taste and that's something you really get with Pinkberry's soft serves. I want more!

And how do you like my bright orange nail polish? I had a manicure on Monday morning. Everywhere in the world, and especially in Los Angeles, I love wearing splashes of bright and happy colors. I also got NARS's Schiap lipstick, a tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli and her signature shocking pink.

Monday, July 14, 2008

American Summers

When I was a little girl, no matter where in the world we were living, my parents my sister and I would head for the USA every summer to spend a few weeks with some friends.
As we left the airport and drove towards Cape Cod or the beaches of Maine, we'd stop at the first store to buy some Oreos, a much missed treat. Thus weeks of summer bliss began, with picnics by the ocean, pompoms, plenty of singing, bicycling, ice-cream, evenings spent on the city commons for a concert, and much more. How I loved my American summers!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

By The Ocean

The Pacific Ocean, and my skin pale as the sand, and a huge blue sky straight out of a Pop Art palette, and a bold wind blowing my hair into a mess, it's Sunday and I spent a while on the beach.
Oh dear California, happy as Joni Mitchell's eponymous tune - a beloved classic.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Am In Los Angeles!

Congratulations to all of you who guessed it right - Los Angeles was indeed my destination! I'm staying in a beautiful, airy house on the heights of Santa Monica, and can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
I've already raided a pharmacy to stock up on Dr Brommer soap and Neutrogena stuff, as well as a Barnes & Noble - of course.

You have probably heard of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, a crazy group that hunts typos across America. I am proud to say that, unbeknownst to them, I inaugurated a Parisian chapter of their organization on my way to the Charles de Gaulle airport. On the bus, I proudly whipped out my marker to add an S to a faulty sentence...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where Am I Off To?

Tomorrow morning, I will be leaving Paris for a couple of weeks. Where will I be heading? Look at the picture above and try to guess - there are many hints...
Of course, I will be taking my dear little iBook with me and as soon as Saturday I will be posting anew. Then you'll know where I am!

Update: to decode the hints, see the Comments

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cleo And Coco In Paris

Introducing my lovely friends, Cleo and Coco. Californian Cleo, who like me loves stripes, as you can see, just spent a few extraordinary weeks in Paris with her doll Coco - and her mum Stephanie, a wonderful pro photographer. Here are some of Cleo and Coco's favorite places in Paris:
The Tuileries Fair
The Trocadéro merry-go-round
Petit Bateau, where she chose the denim mini she's wearing on these pictures
CSAO, 9 rue Elzévir, the colorful African arts and crafts store

Monday, July 07, 2008

Nathalie Lété Organic Cotton Tee

Monoprix, the French equivalent of Marks & Spencer, asked a line-up of artists to design Organic Cotton t-shirts. I bought one by Nathalie Lété (marked down from €20 to €6! It's the sales, hurray!). Don't these cotton flowers look great? Yes, yellow is indeed the color of the season...
For more on eco-fashion, check out Chloe's stylish and informative post.

I'm really an all-cotton girl - synthetics give me itchy rashes, so I'm thrilled that so many brands now offer eco-friendly cotton and such great designs. What's your emblematic fabric? (Benjy's, as you know, is cashmere...)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Benjy The Oracle On Stifling Weather

We have a question here from my dog, Jack, in New York. How is the weather and how do you do with the heat. Personally Jack is not a fan. What is your favorite way to cool off in Paris? Kwana

Dear Jack & Kwana, dear readers, I love the sun and am lucky enough to not need sunscreen, unlike my assistant Mary-Laure, who must not set foot outdoors without sunscreen. However when it gets too hot, I lie on cool tiles... mmmmmmhhhh....
Mary-Laure sometimes heads for a cone of ice-cream in Paris. Here are the places she recommends:
POZZETTO, rue du Roi de Sicile, her very favorite! Home-made gelati.
RAIMO, 51 boulevard de Reuilly, home-made ice-creams with great flavors such as ginger and maple syrup
BERTHILLON, Île Saint-Louis, the quintessential French glaces.
Dear readers, if you too have a question about lifestyle, fashion, shopping, Paris or anything else, don't hesitate to post it in the Comment section. The Oracle always answers!Benjy

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A New Cap

I just received a new cap from a favorite designer, the adorable blogger Artycho, who had already made an exquisite bonnet named for me.
As you know, I love stripes - very 4th of July, no? And I also adore hats...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another Walk In Amsterdam

I'm back in Paris but I thought we'd stay in Amsterdam one more day for a walk...

From the Dam, take Kalverstraat down to the Historical Museum, with its lovely courtyard and café as well as the hilarious portrait (above) of the Royal Family... Back on Kalverstraat, make a left on Spui, cross the Amstel, and keep on going in that direction until you hit the Voorburgwal, in the Red Light District. Keep on going all the way up to no. 40 and visit the Amstelkring Museum, an absolutely amazing Canal House, with its exquisite private chapel and rooms that allow you to see how people lived in the 17th century - some rooms feature lovely blue and white tiles like the one above, and you can also see ancient manuscripts and music books (pic). One block up, also check out one of the most beautiful Gothic churches I have ever seen, the Oude Kerk (picture). Go back down the Voorburgwal or the parallel Oudezijds. Make a right on Damstraat and you're back at the Dam!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Amsterdam Directory

There's more to shopping in Amsterdam than Guda and coffee candy... Do keep in mind that many stores are closed on Mondays and just as many open pretty late - between 11am and 1pm.

For vintage clothes & accessories
Designer items at JUKTA, Bilderdijkstraat 194
Ancient hats, corsets and clothes at 1953, Staalstraat 2

For health and beauty
A fab selection of cool cosmetics SKIN COSMETICS, Runnstraat
A futuristic pharmacy (pic): APOTHEEK, De Lairessestraat 40
All-natural Dutch beauty products and spa at SABON, Kalverstraat 34

Pia's favorite place for luscious chocolates
PUCCINI, Staalstraat 17

For Design items
EGG, Leliegracht 6
DROOG, Staalstraat 7
THE FROZEN FOUNTAIN, Prinsengracht 645
, where I got my cool silk Logo Scarf, ideal for a typography lover...
DE POSTHUMUS WINKEL, Sint Luciënsteeg 23 for fun stamps such as the Bee and the Dog Paw ones I got (see pic).

For a Dance Class
Amsterdam Dance Center, Bellamystraat 49-51

At the Waterstone's on Kalverstraat, I chose a Dutch novel in English: Mulisch's The Assault; the son of a Jewish mother whose family died in the Holocaust and an Austrian father who was a Nazi collaborator, Mulishch writes about WW2 with a precision and poignancy that are unique.
I also bought the children's classic The Silver Skates, which I had loved when I was a little girl - has anyone read it?