Tag Archives: Finn

MARCH 9 2014

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▶ The Oscars were incredibly snooze-worthy, in my opinion, as everyone who was projected to win did win and if I wanted to watch something with a predetermined outcome I would just tune in for the Russian Parliament’s potato sack race during their annual summer picnic. (As if anyone would dare let Putin be a runner-up.) And speaking of jerks who have no business talking politics (me) Jared Leto name-checked Ukraine during his acceptance speech. Now, I don’t want to speak for the entirety of Crimea but I think we can all agree no one there is looking to Jordan Catalano for confirmation that their dreams can come true. UGH. I think it was the Washington Post who said it best by calling that sort of off-handed remark ‘drive-by’ politics. You know somewhere Jane Fonda was turning over in her oxygen chamber when she read that. On the bright side–the side that does not include a 3 minute bit about ordering pizza or calling Liza a drag queen, Ellen–I did win my Oscar party’s ballot contest with a personal best of 21 out of 24 correct picks. Fair warning: in the future, if you hold an Oscar party and invite me over, you will rue the day when I accurately predict the live action and animated short films because my head may explode from shock and the brain matter will ruin your nice sofa. My other misstep was going with Jennifer Lawrence over Lupita and I don’t need to explain myself on that one. I just liked her better. However, if I had known that after she handed out Best Actor to Matthew McConaughey she’d spend his entire bat shit crazy speech throwing shade (scroll down to #10) I would’ve also voted for JLaw for Best Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay knowing full well I’d lose those categories too. Anyway, my prize for winning was an American Hustle poster, which I have no idea what to even do with so for now it’s nestled away in my closet. If there are any takers please email me your address. I’ll sign it as if I’m Amy Adams and ship it to you.

▶ During one of the many snow days we’ve had here in the Northeast I succumbed to my boredom and said alright alright alright to True Detective, and I am publicly declaring–very cautiously–that I like it a great deal. It’s good. Decent. Let’s say decent, but I certainly don’t love it. It’s beautiful to watch and the acting is superb but I have no idea what it’s really about, aside from white men of opportunity contemplating there own mortality and objectifying women (how original!). Not that I regret having invested my mind grapes in a marathon binge but, folks, tonight’s the season finale and I’m still just as clueless as I was when I saw the first episode. It’s a comment on…spirituality? Apathy? Child abduction? Woody Harrelson’s receding hairline? Who knows. One thing I’m sure of, on a creep scale of 1 to Paul Dano, McConaughey is at Christopher Walken (which is way creepier) and that’s all I really need to capture my attention, even if that monster refuses to remove his shirt no matter how loudly I scream at the TV.

▶ I mention monsters because it seems I have created one in the form of a 12-pound miniature pinscher named Finn. Let me backtrack. A few months ago my cousin called to tell me she had discovered the benefits of coconut oil. In addition to being a culinary fat buster it is also great for your digestive system, and its antibacterial properties make it great for your skin. She mentioned–my cousin being a small dog owner like me–that coconut oil is stellar for your pooch’s coat, too. That was really the beginning of the end. When I got off the phone with her I called my vet. After his approval I promptly went to the market and each day since have been slopping a teaspoon on Finn’s dry food each morning. Peter Paul & Mary, was she right! Since then Finn’s been slinking around like the apartment like he’s in a Garnier commercial. The unintended side effect, however, is that now I have a canine with a sophisticated palette who won’t eat his food unless there’s healthy dose of tropical goodness mixed in. Seriously. I ran out of the stuff the other morning and tried to sneak it by him but all I ended up with was a resentful puppy and a lot of side eye:

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He just stared up at me with that look–that looks that says, “Don’t even try me.” What dog refuses a bowl of delicious kibble? The dog who won’t stand for anything less than a drizzle of coconut oil, as I now know. If there are any dog owners out there this is the one thing I would not recommend you give to your pet. Unless you’re ready for the power dynamic between you two to change then by all means have at it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Finn: 1, Evan: 0

▶ I have been receiving a lot of heat lately for posting some questionably negative comments about Apple’s new Swedish-inspired line of automobiles, IKEA, and all I will say about that is it’s not totally uncalled for, though I feel like I need to ruminate on this topic a little further to give the blogosphere a clearer picture of where I really stand. I am, after all, a millennial and if I didn’t feel the need to tell strangers about how I’m misunderstood then I would be doing my generation a great disservice.  So, please, Johan and Tuva, hold off on firing those angry emails until I’ve had time to expand on my utterly brilliant/vapid thoughts in a post, will you? I promise I will explain myself but I can’t promise it won’t make you want to punch your computer’s face in its face, as I imagine most TINAH readers are want to do when they subject themselves to the silly things I ramble on about. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. If I am getting too up on myself, however, just send me a picture of a cat dressed as a human–which I HATE–and I will interpret the nonverbal communication to mean my jets are in need of cooling. It will be like our secret code word, OK?

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▶ Last week I was invited to an event by bespoke clothier Alton Lane at their showroom in Flatiron. It was a style presentation aimed at teaching men (ha) how to assemble and pack outfits for their upcoming spring getaways (wedding in the Hamptons! Stag party in Chicago! Sight seeing in Montreal!). They do amazing custom suits and shirts and since I didn’t have the heart to admit I’m not a real adult who wears things that button I RSVP’d with my attendance. Not that there was any other option, really, since I knew there was going to be scotch and BLOCKS OF CHEESE. The evening was co-hosted by Mad Men’s costume designer and thank god I was distracted by their showroom’s exquisite decor–brimming with leather-y goodness and rich texture–otherwise I would’ve cornered her and done my best Megan Draper impression. There are few universal truths in design but it is my belief that a well-worn leather cigar chair is a one of them. Can we check on that? If it’s not already it should be inducted into some kind of Hall of Fame and pront-o, Gina. Who can I talk to about that? Anyway, Alton Lane had some gorgeous ones and throw in half a dozen well-placed cow hide rugs and I was in heaven. The warm feeling the scotch gave me helped, too, but mainly it was that post-industrial, masculine aesthetic that comes from pairing rugged, natural textures and dark woods that was doing it for me.

▶ This morning I stupidly agreed to accompany my friend to a BDSM club disguised as a cardio pilates class. To quote the great philosopher Julia Roberts, “Big mistake. Big. HUGE”. When it comes to working out my routine is that of a man from the 1920s. It’s very simple. I warm up on the stationary bike and then I lift heavy objects over my head until I hear something pop. Sometimes I may go rogue and indulge in a stretch or two but that’s only if I’m feeling adventurous. Fitness fads are just not my bag, man. If I ever felt the need to take an antigravity kickboxing ballet class I’d rather sit on a knife and call it day. But my friend got me at a time when I’m feeling a little vulnerable–I’ve been coping with the brutal winter by eating pasta and swilling red wine most nights–and now that the weather’s changing I can only think about getting my beach body back. So against my better judgement I said yes. Our instructor, Kendrick, was great because he didn’t stand for anything short of total commitment. He really put the ‘sass’ in ‘go fuck yourself, you weakling’, which I admire, but I think I’ve seriously broken my body, you guys. There’s something not right about what’s happened to my muscles which I thought were healthy and strong but there was a lunge set somewhere in there that has me second guessing my own physical prowess. When we finished I left waddling down Park Avenue. It was not a good look.

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▶ Out with the old, in with the new! I’m very excited to report my new desk was completed and delivered last week! I didn’t mention this before because I wasn’t sure when it would all come together but it has been in the works for awhile now. THANK YOU to the good people over at STOR New York who very generously built me this one-of-a-kind beauty. You might remember I had a Stash desk from Blu Dot before, but I was never really comfortable with it. It did the job and looked pretty, sure, but I didn’t follow my own advice and rushed into buying it simply out of necessity. Ugh, be damned, hindsight! What an asshole move that was on my part. Once I got it into my place and lived with it for a few days I knew it wasn’t going to be something that would move with me throughout my life. This is a perfect example of how waiting to consider your options will save you time, money, energy and migraines. Not to mention it decreases your consumer footprint. If I had been smarter about it 18 months ago I wouldn’t have found myself in the position of having TWO desks. Luckily I found a guy on Craigslist who just bought a home in Westchester and whose daughter needed a desk for her new room. That makes me feel better about being a bourgeois capitalist pig, but it still gets under my skin that I fouled up on this one. If the adage is Lead By Example then I must be the David Patterson of DIYers. Let this just serve as a cautionary tale, TINAH readers, and rest assured I’ll continue this pity party elsewhere, like at the bottom of a strong vodka tonic.

The scale is almost double that of the Stash desk so I may have to change things up to make it feel like there’s not a walnut Cadillac parked in my apartment. Sadly, my treasured thrift store brass floor lamp may get the boot. It can’t hold its own against the heft of the new desk, though I already have a good home lined up for it should it lose this particular hunger games. I’m thinking–gulp–a hanging pendant? Maybe a Louis Poulsen PH5? Is that too much? Will it fit within the space or just stick out like sore digit? Am I already halfway into my self-deprecating vodka tonic and not thinking clearly? The answer may be D) All of the above, but whatever I get I guarantee it will be secondhand and beat to hell. After this double desk debacle I can’t even begin to think about buying something new.

But here’s the best part:

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Orange drawers! Boom. So much fun.

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FREECYCLED: SCHOOLHOUSE BENCH

There are a lot of things I’m painfully unaware of in the moment. When I order popcorn at a movie theater and leave with a buttered crotch–that’s one. When I’m texting in bed and forget about gravity (ouch!)–that’s another. When I’m caught picking my nose by the person in the cab right next to mine–WHICH WE ALL DO BECAUSE WE HAVE MEDICALLY-DIAGNOSED IRRITABLE NOSTRIL CAVITIES AND THAT’S A REAL THING–well, sure, that’s probably another good example of how I’m not always aware of my surroundings. The exception is when I’m on the street. That’s a different story. On the street there is garbage and garbage makes me happy and garbage keeps me focused. If you don’t know by now how much I love garbage and the potential I see in it then you must just be here for the silly dog pictures.

It was one of my first winters in Manhattan when I went to meet some friends for a CWC (classy woman’s cocktail). The night before it snowed almost a foot and the city was enveloped by a thick, white blanket of powder, like a layer of butter cream frosting over a sheet cake. One margarita became nine and what was intended to be a night cap turned into a sloppy stumble home at 3 AM through the dark streets of West Harlem, which should tell you something about what a fearless terror I was at 22 years old. Speaking of, I would like to take this opportunity to formerly apologize to all of the five boroughs of New York City for the emotional and physical distress caused by 22 year old Evan. He roamed the streets at night, inebriated, sifting through your garbage. He aspired to be Cry Me A River Timberlake but could only pull off Like I Love You Timberlake. He said things like “chill” and “that’s bananas”. He didn’t have much regard for his personal safety and when he rode the subway he always had a scowl on his face. He acknowledges that after three pitchers of tequila he really should’ve just taken a cab and called it a night but instead he did cartwheels up and down 137th Street, listening to She Wolf on his iPod, and he’s real sorry about that.

Drunk, damp and cold I barreled ass over tea kettle down the street, exercising the limits of my healthy buzz, when out of the corner of eye I caught a bright yellow table leg poking up from the snow, buried beneath a black Hefty bag and stack of AM New Yorks. What I dug out from that mountain of trash would eventually follow me from place to place (to place to place to place) for the next 8 years:

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Battered and bruised but brilliant (alliteration!)

Even through my double vision I could tell this thing had good bones. It was beat to hell but it weighed a damn ton. The top was bespeckled with all kinds of things: paint, plaster, stain, polyurethane. One of the legs was missing a huge chunk from it, but the cross braces were in good shape so structurally it was sound, which I tested by laying on it in the middle of the sidewalk (22 year old Evan’s idea). I found it 3 blocks from my apartment–I’m not sure how I was able to haul it back home–and my arms had given out by the time I made it to my front door. I woke up the next morning and marveled at my accomplishment, yet still slightly unsure of how this bench got to be in my room. Go figure. Most people have a drunken night and wake up with a strange person in their bed. I have a drunken night and end up with strange furniture. I’m proud to say that since this time I’m a little more socially acclimated–but only slightly.

Because the circumstances surrounding the bench were so unique it moved with me to each subsequent apartment. When I moved into my studio and got some outdoor space I made a pact to finally give it the facelift it deserved. Sanding can be a difficult business to tackle indoors. You can do it, for sure, but the prep work and clean up is drag. I’ll have to write a post on that later because it can be done. Whether or not anyone actually wants to do it (or read it) is another matter entirely.

Initially my plan was to go very simple and elegant with it; strip it entirely, use a delicate maple stain to highlight the wood grain, upholster the top with black leather and brass nailheads. It was a good plan, it was, but things kind of went south when I ran a sheet of coarse sandpaper over the top and found out how deep the different layers of paint and stain actually went:

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That right there took Daddy roughly 90 minutes of hard, finger-paralyzing labor. Ugh.

So I changed my plans. I think it’s great to go into a situation with your guns blazing but leave yourself some room to edit and scale back. Be practical and don’t get down on yourself for cutting corners if needed. The original design for the bench would’ve been stunning if it was executed but it also would’ve taken 10+ hours, and if you’re a weekend warrior like me that’s several weeks of work. Nah-uh. No thank you, sir. Next!

As a compromise I decided I would sand down the entire the top. The struggle was real on that poor bench’s face and it needed some love, no doubt about it. I couldn’t cut a corner there. However the legs and braces were in good shape, so to save myself some time I would lightly sand down any rough patches, prime and repaint in a darker color, most likely black, to cover any blemishes I couldn’t remove with the paper. The leather idea I threw out because who am I Finn Juhl? GET REAL, EVAN, YOU CAN’T UPHOLSTER.

Here’s what it looked like after the first coat of stain. I went with Minwax Dark Walnut instead of maple since I knew I would be painting the base a deep black and needed a wood tone to compliment:

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I had to make several passes before I was satisfied with the color. Also some woods are far more porous than others so if your stain doesn’t take right away just persist! You’re not doing anything wrong. For this project I went with five coats in total. By coat three I had achieved the dark walnut look but I wanted a deeper tone so I kept slapping that shit on. With a foam brush. Have a mentioned that before? TEAM FOAM BRUSH. I hate bristle brushes. They need to go somewhere far away–like hopefully where Woody Allen’s films from 1987 to the present will go–and never ever come back. I also use a rag when I stain, too, to wipe down any excess, so don’t forget to bring one of your old camp t-shirts with you. It helps ensure I can be as sloppy as possibly when applying the stain and I don’t have to worry about streaking or pooling.

For the base I went interior semi-gloss from Behr, but only because I had some extra lying around. This is hardly an endorsement for Behr. Unless one of the good people at Behr is reading this. In that case you can make the check out to CASH. Please email me for my address and thank you in advance!

Here is where I ended up:

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For a garbage bench salvaged from the bowels of uptown Manhattan I think it has been done justice. Sadly I had to part with it just before the Apartment Therapy shoot but I was able to find a friend who could take care of it for me until I get a little more room. All in all this project cost a whopping $9, which was the cost of one of the ‘ritas that sent me off into the night when I first discovered it all those years ago.

Now, for the people who are here only for the silly dog pictures, thank you for putting up with all of this nonsense. Your reward is a Finn in a shearling:

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FEBRUARY 9 2014

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▶ I’m going to make a HUGE generalization. If you wanted anything more from the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics than what Putin served then I will venture to guess you are likely to also be one of those people who abandons your shopping cart in the middle of the canned foods aisle to get ice cream from the freezer section two aisles over. That is to say, there was nothing–NOTHING–more you needed from that glorious festival of garbage and if there was then you must enjoy swinging a bag of kittens against a wall. What I witnessed–what my see rocks partook in–was the celestial intersection of all the elements any successful internationally televised event must aspire to have: 1) a Julie Taymor-inspired aerial action sequence  2) a movement piece interpreting the political bloodshed of Josef Stalin 3) a presumably tired and sweaty Lady Gaga managing to escort every athlete through the Parade of Nations 4) drunk cherubs in puffer vests and 5) those inflatable tube men outside of car lots (and that, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas!) No but really didn’t this just make your night? It sure did mine. I can’t help but become hopelessly enraptured by the Olympics–even the Winter Olympics–despite the nagging voice in the back of my noodle which astutely points out that success in these games is predominantly measured not by athletic prowess as much as it is by wealth or proximity to it. Like, yes, I’m sure bobsledding is physically grueling and requires a great amount of discipline but your sled is sponsored by BMW so if you have an issue with that, Lolo Jones, please take it up with (1st) the kids of PS 24 in the Bronx and then (2nd) my lawyer, Finn, who is a dog. Anyway, this weekend was momentous for me in that it marked the beginning of the next two weeks in which I will spend each evening avoiding human contact so I can watch Shawn White and his impossibly high cheekbones win some medals.

▶ Speaking of Sochi this week NBC’s big tree of man, Willie Geist, informed me and the rest of the country that Russia has crab-flavored potato chips and to that I say: Congratulations, America! We’ve managed to mangle and pervert a lot of things in our time but we haven’t dipped our toe into the shellfish-flavored snack food water and that is nothing to sneeze at. Little victories.

photo 1▶ I came across the most nifty and Duh-Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That solution for pot lids on Apartment Therapy and so far it’s worked beautifully. The lids have stayed on their hooks, I am not fumbling on my knees, straining my shoulder and mashing my face against the cabinet, reaching for them anymore and Finn–surprise!–saw me take out a camera and ran in to photobomb the shot. What this photo does not show are the texts I sent my mom, cousin, best friend, neighbor, old college roommate and high school swim coach proclaiming my (stolen) ingenuity or how, after doing so, I had to take a timeout to examine what my life has become and why I’m this excited over cupboard organization.photo 2▶ Have I whined enough about the weather here in New York yet, you guys? Probably. Do I care? Nope. Here’s a picture of how heavy and gorgeous and wonderful the snow made the city last week. Everything was blanketed and soft and, even though it was bitterly cold and balmy, looking up to see these white tentacles everywhere was pretty great, so don’t say I never stop to make some lemonade now and again. I have it within me!

▶ I have been thinking about adding a pair of Tapio Wirkkala candlesticks to the sideboard next to my front door but I’m not willing to pay the price. Searching online I found most of the candlesticks claiming to be Tapio Wirkkala originals are actually knock-offs, and in this instance that’s a good thing. A knock-off is actually what I’m looking for because I want to sand them down, maybe do something funky with the color, and I’d have a hard time justifying that to my conscience (and my wallet) if they were actually vintage TWs. That being said, it has been HELL trying to explain to sellers that what they have is, in fact, not an original nor is it worth what they are asking. When did this start, this whole overselling and under-delivering thing that has apparently run rampant among online sellers? For me, when I put something online to sell, I feel like I have to incentivize the damn thing just to get it to move, like I’m the fucking Ron Popeil of eBay. Well, I don’t like it and I won’t stand for it! Your shit smells like shit and not like roses so get over yourself, middle-aged woman in Central Florida, and sell me your overpriced replica candlesticks so you can have an extra $20 in your pocket and I can have more pretentious objects to put in my home, OK?

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▶ Full disclosure, I’ve had a lot on my mind recently in regards to my energy and where and with whom I’m choosing focus it versus where and with whom I know I should really be focusing it –you know, terribly self-absorbed and millennial thoughts that I will NOT bore you with further–and as a result I’ve opted to spend a little more time alone for the moment, which is how I found myself in front of a my television at 9:30pm on a Saturday evening weighing the the pros and cons of Wesley Warren Jr and his gargantuan crotch melon over another episode of Real Housewives on Demand. I’m ashamed to say I went with Wesley and his enormous nut, you guys. Here’s the thing: THAT GUY WAS LOVING HIS BIG BALL. I mean, that might be terrible and judgey to put out there but he sure seemed like he didn’t want to get that thing lopped off any time soon. Instead Ol’ Wesley there seemed to truly and genuinely enjoy what the ball gave him socially; the opportunity to interact with anyone with a sympathetic ear. The best was when he met a doctor–finally he met a doctor after 40 minutes of writhing around on the floor, calling his senator’s office and crying to his secretary (why? who knows) and launching a kickstarter campaign to help him pay for the surgery (but really it was for his rent)–who could help him but all Wesley wanted to talk about was how he hadn’t seen his penis in six years and how he didn’t realize the penis was even gone and where the doctor thought that penis went and, oh God, Doc, will you be able to dig that penis out, and the doctor was obviously uncomfortable since minutes earlier he had told him they just needed to remove the growth and he and his penis would be fine. Also Wesley wanted to auction his severed testicle off online and the look that befell the doctor’s face was worth everything I had endured thus far. So, in conclusion, uh, yea, I need to take a cold, hard look at my life and get things in order, you could say, if this is how I’m voluntarily choosing to spend my weekend evenings, hanging pot lids and watching testicular surgeries. I acknowledge that.

FEBRUARY 1 2014

Wow, this week has been a doozy! Between work, the Polar Vortex, a new design project, the Grammys, BIEBER, the Super Bowl shenanigans invading Times Square and Finn I didn’t have a free minute to sit and download a thought.image-1

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▶ I started a new project a few weeks ago. It’s small for now but may turn into something more substantial in time. Regardless, after nearly 9 years living in the city, it finally gave me the opportunity to debunk the urban myth that is the Design Within Reach Annex in Jersey. I’m thrilled to report IT IS REAL AND IT IS HEAVEN, YOU GUYS. In truth their eBay shop has been a great resource for me in the past, but I never actually saw the Annex with my own two peep balls until just last week. (When you live in Manhattan getting to anything outside of Manhattan is a huge production–especially if you’re going to a place where you intend to procure a piece of furniture–so it’s not surprising it took a gig that is providing transportation for me to get out there.) I knew it existed, in theory–kind of like how winning the lottery or the simultaneous orgasm exists in theory–but I assumed it was less like a showroom and more like a warehouse of horrors. Lucky I was wrong. It was lovely inside and the saleswoman who helped me looked like Carmela Soprano, and let’s be honest when you go out to Jersey you can’t ask for anything more, right? I scored their beautiful Tripod Floor Lamp for less than half the list price simply because the shade had a bit of a dent. Most everything else there was in a similar condition as the lamp, with a minor scratch or chip resulting in a steep discount. Holy Holly Hunter In A Hand Bag there were so many other things I could’ve gotten! They had a dozen or so Gubi semi pendants in various colors and sizes, but regretfully I wasn’t in the position to get one for myself this time. Fingers crossed when I go back there will still be a few hanging around!

Within the last few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my replica Eames, how I feel about reproductions morally-speaking, where to find them, etc. and while I make no bones about having a Feames (fake Eames) I also make no bones about wanting a real Eames, so part of me was hoping I’d see one at the Annex at a reasonable price and convince myself to finally throw down the plastic. Well, I did find a few and the prices were comparatively reasonable but something about a $7,000 chair marked down to $4,500 still didn’t seem like a move I could make. I know, I know…#firstworldproblems

▶ What happened at the Grammys, you guys? I don’t know about you but I thought it was U.G.L.Y and, no sir, it did not have an alibi. Here’s the thing: the producers need to stop trying so hard to make these damn Grammy moments happen. Whoever thought Miranda Lambert and Billy Joe should collaborate on a tribute to Phil Everly should be stripped naked and gently beaten with watery deli meat. WHATEVER but something really degrading needs to be done to those producers, preferably at the hands of Kacey Musgraves. The person who thought it was a good idea to have her perform IMMEDIATELY after Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons (one of the only good performances of the night) needs a thick slice of boiled ham across the face. Was it just me or could Carol King barely contain her bewilderment during her duet with Sara Bareilles, which was really less of a duet and more of a televised master class in which Sara should have just sat there and taken notes. (Side note: WHY was that album even nominated?) And is Pink now only moonlighting as a pop star because it felt like her job at Cirque Du Soleil is taking over what was once a very fun, non-acrobatic career? Wait. I take it back. She’s too far in to come back. If at this point Pink didn’t come out and perform on a trapeze I’d commit harakiri. Well done, Pink. Carry on.

image-4      image-3▶ I went out to New Jersey a second time last week to source wood for a dinning table and some possible planter boxes I’m hoping to make for my patio once the weather gets nicer. The Gypsy Farmhouse is this kooky shack bubbling over with furniture made from barnwood salvaged from Amish farms in Pennsylvania. I was able to snag a stunning barn door table at an unbelievable price, though I wish I hadn’t gone the day after a storm–the property surrounding the house is littered with beautiful old planks dying to be made into something, but I couldn’t get to any of it. If I had on snow boots you can bet I would’ve leaped into the slush like Janice Ian into a big pile of girls. When it comes to DIY-ing I firmly believe nothing worth having comes easily, so it’s a wonder why I set out that day in a pair of converse, so unprepared to get my hands dirty. Live and learn! I did, however, get a fascinating tutorial from Patti, the owner, on how they make table legs from old farm beams. Ugh, how I wish I just had a radial saw and a workshop. My life would be complete. (There’s another joke in there somewhere about ‘making a slatted bench out of rainbows and smiles and we’d all sit on it and be happy’ but one Mean Girls reference is really all a post can handle so I won’t attempt it. TOO LATE.)

▶ I opened my mailbox this week to find Jonathan Adler and his husband laughing smugly on the cover of Dwell and all I have to say about that is really. Really? Is that what I need to be looking at when I’m going to work on the bus in the morning? No. No it is not. I don’t need to start my day by discovering how fabulous and successful Jonathan Adler is. THESE ARE THINGS I ALREADY KNOW. And things that make me feel bad about myself. And yet, there he is looking up at me, tanned and breezy about it all, not giving a fuck about my inferiority complex but instead wading in his infinity pool like he’s on his third afternoon cocktail. Ugh. UGH. The whole thing makes me want to vomit from the knot of self-loathing that builds in my gut each time I open to the article but refuse to read it. Refuse to read it but also choose to only acknowledge the emboldened quotes, which I feel is not really fair of me but the only thing I can do when dealing with someone who says they “use every square inch of the house with tremendous glee and gusto.” Gusto. God damn you, Adler. I hate you and I want to be you.

image▶ Mid-week Finn decided to start Halloween early this year by dressing as the trash underneath my kitchen sink and surprising me when I came home from work. Long story short I wasn’t laughing, but the result was a fresh-smelling pooch and a new locking garbage can from The Container Store. I thought I’d seen it all but I’m continually amazed by the new and inventive ways he discovers to raise my blood pressure. He’s 6 now–that’s nearly middle-aged–and I thought he’d be doing middle-aged doggy things but apparently he’s Benjamin Button-ing back into a puppy. At what point will he just settle down and be content with a Yoplait and an episode of Blue Bloods on a Friday evening? I’m still waiting but until then there are a barrage of cleaning products at the ready.

▶ Times Square, normally a circus, added a fourth ring when the Super Bowl came to town and eviscerated any shred of civility those of us who work in the area try so hard to maintain. Walking out of my office to get lunch was like being overtaken by a giant swell and dragged along by the undertow for three blocks, except this swell was full of drunk people who scream GO BRONCOS and ask how to get to the M&M Store. I’m a big football fan and I can’t wait for Sunday (go Broncos!) but I will be glad when Monday comes and the Ringling Brothers have packed it in and left town.

image-6▶ After a very long week it was so nice to come home to a happy little surprise from Case Study Ceramics sitting on my doorstep! What’s in the box? Spoiler alert: it isn’t Gwyneth Paltrow’s head (sorry, Coldplay fans) but it is a gorgeous planter I hope to have the energy to set up very soon.

THIS IS NOT A HOUSE ON CURBED

Picture 2A big THANK YOU to Hana Alberts and Jessica Dailey, the two fiercely talented Senior Editors/Vixens of New York Real Estate, over at Curbed New York for picking up a story about This Is Not A House that appeared on Apartment Therapy this week! They didn’t have to add their own lovely little write-up but they did and I’m so grateful to these ladies for their kindness and for the great work they do over at their site, which allows all of us New Yorkers the opportunity to sit back with a 12-pack of Diet Coke and pour over the dirty bits of other people’s apartments from the privacy of our own. Curbed is one of those rare sites, along with Street Easy, that offers an equally morbid (It Came From Craigslist) and delicious (Real Estate Death Match) glimpse into warts-and-all city living.

Also it seems I received a nomination for the Microdwelling Hall of Fame which Finn would like to accept on my behalf because he’s into that kind of attention whoring and spotlight pillaging.

If you haven’t already please go check out Curbed now, as well as their other amazing titles Eater (food) and Racked (CLOTHES). You won’t regret it. Unless you believe Carrie Bradshaw actually lived in that fucking brownstone then, sure, you may regret reading and you may start drinking pink wine from a bag and you most definitely will start telling everyone about that time you almost made homecoming court.

PS: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their lovely posts and emails the last few days. It’s all too easy to leave a nasty comment when it is in an anonymous forum but it takes real effort and courage to write something kind and of value. So…thank you…and just know I have a fuzzy feeling in my chest even though I’ll probably deny it if you confront me about it because I’m a guy and I have trouble acknowledging my feelings.

PPS: You all are very inspiring so let’s keep on keeping on!

WHAT IS DESIGN?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Recently a friend of mine rather astutely (or shrewdly) told me he thought the whole business of design and renovation said less about how a person lives and more about how they don’t. Specifically he was referring to me and my resistance to process a failed relationship and how it had manifested itself in my apartment.

I said it was a shrewd observation, right?

I once dated someone who was really into astrology. He believed that, although we are all unique in our own different ways, our behaviors are ultimately determined by our signs. He used his apartment as an example. That thing–WOOF!–was styled within an inch of its life. He was a Cancer–the crab of the zodiac–and like a crab, with its soft, delicate abdomen, he thought of his apartment as his shell, the contents of which were the salvaged bits he assembled to protect himself against outside harm.

Now, to me, that kind of logic is one cat-skeleton-under-your-sofa away from appearing on Hoarders: Buried Alive but it was the first time I began to think about design as symptomatic of something greater than just an affection for pretty fabrics and Eames chairs. [By the way, this was not the relationship in question but I thank you, OK Cupid, for your devilish sense of humor.]

I don’t disagree with my friend. In fact I think he’s actually right, even if what he said made me want to curl into a ball and listen to Bon Iver in the dark. Why else do we jump through all the hoops of making an interior hospitable if not for the perception of an inhospitable exterior? Is that too big of a leap to make? Maybe. Do I care? No. I’m feeling very introspective today, so lay back and enjoy this metaphorical Slip ‘N Slide with me. I think a lot of it has to do with control (or the illusion of having it), which I totally admit about myself. Designing my space, designing other people’s spaces: a lot of it is about gaining control and eliminating chaos and feeling like choosing to place a plant here or put a lamp there is a way of coping with the pressures and emotional stresses in life and oh God I’m venturing into teen cutting territory what is wrong with me I should stop before I admit I dumpster dive to feel alive…

[Isn’t it fantastic how I can start off talking about design and bring it around to wrist cutters? Don’t you find that just CHARMING about me? No? Yea, me neither.]

I’m still not sure what design really is but I don’t think it needs to be only one thing, nor does it need to say only one thing about me or how I feel about myself. It says a lot about who I am! I use design to insulate myself from harmful things but I also use it to satisfy aesthetics. And I’m OK with that.

Now enough with the heavy stuff. Here’s a picture of Finn dressed as a sassy devil:

Meow.

GOODBYE, OLD FRIEND

I experienced a tragedy recently over the Christmas break. This is not unique, nor is it entirely as dramatic as I’m about to make it, but let’s just say Santa took away as much as gave this year.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it back and set the scene:

FADE IN.

EXT. A QUIET STREET ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE. EARLY MORNING. SPRING.

EVAN, 29, is taking his dog on his morning walk. He is in sweatpants and a hoodie, hair akimbo. He is handsome but not conventionally handsome. Handsome in the way Spencer Tracey would’ve referred to Barbara Stanwyck as handsome. He has sleep in his eyes. He walks slowly though deliberately, as if trying to finish a race with as little enthusiasm as possible. FINN, his dog, SNIFFS the ground as they walk.

Suddenly there is a large CRASH. Evan whips around and sees a potted FIDDLE LEAF FIG strewn about the sidewalk, innards splayed on the curb, and a WOMAN wiping off her hands and retreating back into her brownstone. Evan rushes over, reaches down and cradles the plant’s trunks .

EVAN

(groggy)

What have they done to you my sweet precious child?

With the strength of two underdeveloped six year-olds Evan whisks the fiddle leaf fig up and rushes it back to his apartment. SHRIEKING can be heard. It is faint but high-pitched and definite.

INT. EVAN’S APARTMENT. MOMENTS LATER.

Evan pours soil into an empty planter.

EVAN

Breathe, dammit! BREATHE!

At this point he realizes he’s probably Faye Dunaway-ing this whole scene but he continues anyway. He lifts a watering can and out pours a nourishing stream over the soil and onto the plant’s roots.

EVAN

(in his best Gene Wilder)

LIFE, DO YOU HEAR ME! GIVE MY CREATION LIIIIIIIFE!!!!!

CUT TO:

image_2END SCENE.

Woo boy, that was an extremely histrionic way of saying I found a plant on the street one morning, picked it up and put it in a pot. La-di-da, right?

I will say this though: That fiddle leaf fig was a fucking BE-YOOT. Gorgeous! Even more so since I saw a woman chuck it on the street the morning of garbage day here in New York. After all it had been through I really considered the fact that it lasted all of spring, into summer, well past fall and onto winter an act of Jesus taking the proverbial wheel.

Then winter break came and shattered my great fortune like one of those lollipop hammers in Candy Crush:

image_1It was going so strong! Sure my apartment doesn’t get a lot of DIRECT SUNLIGHT but the only people in Manhattan who get DIRECT SUNLIGHT is (in this order) 1) Donald Trump 2) Sarah Jessica Parker 3) Richard Kind (I know, weird, right?) 4) DeBlasio and 5) Gloria Steinem. THAT’S IT. NO ONE GETS DIRECT SUNLIGHT. And, yes, I was gone for a week but I had a neighbor come in a water it while I was gone. I did everything I was supposed to do! The fact that I was able to keep a fiddle leaf fig–an orphaned fig no less–alive for this long had to have meant something, right?

It meant something alright. It meant my thermostat hadn’t kicked in yet:

imageAlas, the silent killer of the house plant is a slow and steady hiss: The radiator. The bastard! It had gotten so cold while I was gone for Christmas the steam heat in my apartment completely obliterated my precious fig.

I let it go for awhile; its rotting corpse withering before me. I tired to be okay with it, really I did, but the only thing more depressing than a dead house plant is knowing we gave Tom Hanks an Oscar for Forrest Gump, so I took some action and had it replaced:

photoNot what you expected? Well, neither did I, but the local florist on my block had palms in stock and it was palms I got. I could’ve been precious. I could’ve been demanding. I could’ve broken the bank getting a designer house plant that was a littler more trendy, but instead I went for what was cheap and in season. Because you know why? Daddy’s on a budget and these are the realities of life. YES, it makes my apartment look a bit like the safari section of a Ralph Lauren department store and, YES, I’m in danger of some nasty paper cuts, but in the end I have a live, vibrant, green, living, live and LIVING thing in my apartment and it is a sight to behold.

I guess the lesson is this: do what makes you happy as long as it’s within your budget. Fiddle leaf figs, although ‘of the moment’ (hello, Elle Decor, there are other shrubs out there), are also pricey, and if you can’t afford what Richard Mishaan is using in his interiors then don’t sweat it, my friend. A little green can go a long way, no matter what kind of green it may be.

Bring some life into your space and don’t be deterred when it dies. It will be worth the experience and brighten up your day.

BTW: NYC Pigeon Pendant by Three Potato Four. Check them out!