Wednesday, April 29, 2009

White Roses

I love the voluptuous, yet kind of tousled look of fresh garden roses. One of my neighbors' balcony is covered in them this spring - she's an expert gardener, with wonderful taste. The roses are just beautiful.

I haven't been very present online these past few days... Blame it some important news I'll be announcing soon...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Benjy Door

Hmmmmmm, what's this little door at the foot of my bed?...

It's a Benjy Door!
It allows him to sneak into the backyard, where he can sunbathe (a major Benjy passion), sniff any good smells in the wind, play with his ball and more.
Believe it or not, I once locked myself out and got into my room through this very tiny door. Really.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peter Martins Photographs

I recently read Far From Denmark, the moving autobiography of Peter Martins, the Danish dancer who joined the New York City Ballet and eventually took over the company after Balanchine died. Usually, I prefer male dancers with compact bodies rather than super slender types - say, Rudolf Nureyev or the Opéra de Paris's Wilfred Romoli rather than the Royal Ballet's Anthony Dowell. Peter Martins was very much the latter type, so he was never among my favorites. Yet I found the pictures in his book just breathtaking - the lines of his attitude are clean, svelte, yet powerful. He was also a wonderful partner for the divine, divine Suzanne Farrell.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

At The Nail Salon

Pedicures are one of my indulgences. As I got one on Saturday (on Montana avenue in Santa Monica), I glanced with fascination at the woman next to me, who was having "French manicure" plastic nails applied to her finger tips - all while another lady did her feet and yet another one massaged her neck and shoulders, and she coolly did a crossword puzzle.

I just went for smooth feet, with bright orange nail polish.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vanilla Girls

Is it because blondes are called vanilla girls (or, in French, des filles à la vanille), and that as children my sister and I were blondies, our hair bleached by Kenya's sun?
Or maybe it's because of memories of my mum's wonderful cakes, enhanced with intoxicating vanilla extract she always brought back from Uruguay in her suitcase, claiming it was much better than the French or American equivalents...
Whatever the reason, my sister and I both adore the scent of vanilla - she wears the Body Shop's Vanilla Perfume Oil, while I just bought the Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Vanille Extrême. This is the exact scent my dear Chloé used to wear when we were in high school, so I think of her as I spray it on. It also brings me back to the plump, luscious vanilla beans that someone very special once brought back for me straight from Madagascar.
It is a bit odd, as I usually favor fresh, citrus-y smells with green notes, such as my usual fragrance, Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon, rather than sweet scents; but I guess you can't defeat the attachment that comes from an emotionally-tinged aroma.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Art And Music In Los Angeles

As TVs around the world feed us Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch, it's easy to imagine the Los Angeles area as nothing but a place obsessed with breast enhancements, and peopled with tanned airheads.
But really, the city is an art & music treasure trove, especially regarding vibrant contemporary creations. One of the reasons I wanted to experience LA was actually the presence of Esa-Pekka Salonen at the head of the LA Philharmonic - with bold energy, he has transformed "classical" music concerts. Sadly, Salonen will be leaving at the end of this season...(The LA Times pays tribute to him here)
A couple of days ago, I discovered Zipper Hall at the Colburn School of Music; the building is filled with art, and I especially loved the mobile pictured here: a whimsical and colorful creation, it is set up and lit so as to project a graphic shadow against a white wall. Isn't it great?

Los Angeles is also the city of Peter Sellars, the great opera stage director and one of the living person I would most love to meet; you can watch this genius, with Salonen, discussing Stravinsky, here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Benjy And Dachsund Pals Welcome Bo

Benjy and his four-legged pals have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bo, the First Puppy that the adorable Sasha and Malia will dote on and who will get to fetch his ball on the White House's luscious lawns. At last! As the entire world knows by now, Bo is to be inaugurated, er, I mean greeted by the Obama family today.
So Benjy, ever prodigal when it comes to dispensing woofs of advice and wisdom, got together a pack of dachshunds he met over the months in the Los Angeles area, to send young Bo a big welcome bark from California. In their name, and in the name of all the pooches across the nation, here's Benjy's statement:

[Cue in intensive tail wagging]

Dear Bo! We salute you! Enjoy the many perks of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Always pose gracefully for legitimate cameras but growl at the papparazzi, make friends with the White House chefs, and be a good dog to the two lovely, lovely presidential little girls!

[More enthusiastic tail wagging]

5.30 pm Eastern Time Update: Bo has arrived! Watch the super fun video (check out Sasha's cute pink socks, too), or watch this slideshow (my favorite pics are #2 and #4)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buddha In Blue, Yoga, And Books

The day after a grueling ballet class with Joan Bayley, a Brit who used to dance for Balanchine, I decided to take yoga instead of my usual Sunday pointe class. I'm not much of a yoga fan (I miss the music that makes ballet such a joy), but I'm always willing to try a new class.
I discovered the Santa Monica Yoga studio, a cozy and colorful place with hardwood floors, where I met the above Buddha. They offer a great deal - a one-month unlimited classes package for new students for only $50, which I bought, so you may hear more about yoga on this blog in the coming weeks.
Less than a block away on Ocean Park Blvd, I found an amazing little store, Kultura, that carries used books and vintage dresses - it's like this place was made for me! I'll post more extensively about it soon.

Speaking of books, what have I been reading? I enjoyed the great Hermione Lee's essays on writing biographies, Virgina Woolf's Nose.
And right now, I'm reading D. J. Taylor's Bright Young People, an exploration the 1920's London where the gilded youth partied to the sound of jazz. The beautiful cover of the books is a photograph by Cecil Beaton, a Bright Young Thing in his own right and a forever genius.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

In My Room

Books have been piling up on my desk since I moved to Malibu... Now I finally have a little bookshelf. It's a beautiful wood thing, but a bit small for my sprawling collection, so I may need more book cases soon. With a bouquet of white snapdragons and a comfy chair, it's my little reading corner. As for my ever-towering to-read pile, it's still on my desk.

In the meantime, Benjy is trying to crawl under the closet where his favorite soccer ball got lost.
Maybe he's training for a dog yoga class, like other four-paws?
And... will he be blessed on Saturday?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Sailboat Sail

Isn't this sailboat sail just spectacular against Malibu's sunny sky?

It reminded me of Reiter 8, an Etsy store that offers bags and pillows made with recycled sails - you can also watch a video to see how the designer makes them, or check out her blog.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Remembering Childhood

All the talk about the free-falling American car industry made me want to read Made In Detroit, a childhood memoir by Paul Clemens. It focuses on Detroit, a city that used to symbolize America's once triumphant industry, where dreams were manufactured as they still are in Hollywood, before becoming a wasteland.

The book cover features a picture of the author as a child, playing in a little kid car. This made me wonder what photograph I would choose for a cover if I were to write a memoir of my childhood. Of course, I'd want it to be a picture that reflected my family's nomadic lifestyle, as well as the bliss of childhood - I was one happy little girl!

Maybe a pic of me looking up at Artigas, the hero of Uruguay - the country where my grandparents are from...
Or a photograph of a radiant little me in Kenya, where we were then living...
Or a snapshot of me as a pompom girl, vacationing in Maine, in a t-shirt from Kenya...
Or a photograph of my dear sister and me, in front of Iraq's Samara Tower, a typical destination for our Friday picnics when we were living in Iraq?...
Or a pic of me putting on my roller skates in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Benjy Comes Clean!

Rumors have been circulating about Benjy, the black dachshund knight... Finally, he comes clean and dispels the lies in the headlines.

MYTH Benjy moved to Los Angeles lured by film studios that promised him he would conquer Hollywood!!!
FACT Benjy decided to settle in Malibu because he needs the ocean nearby - it's good for his meditation, as he is working on an upcoming book.

MYTH Desperate to find a soccer partner as talented and skilled as he is, a bored David Beckham asked Benjy to join him in Los Angeles!!!
FACT Benjy did bring some soccer balls to his new abode, but it's strictly to have fun on the beach.

MYTH Benjy is going to run for governor of California!!!
FACT Though he is a natural leader of the pack, Benjy prizes his independence too much to run for office.

Bonus Benjy-approved Videos:
An animated, modern version of The Little Red Riding Hood, by Swedish designer Thomas Nilsson...
The trailer of Where The Wild Things Are, based on Maurice Sendak's treasure of a book for kids, directed by Spike Jonze...