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Just Kids

I will forever remember the sticky summer of 2014 as the season I read Just Kids by Patti Smith. A vulnerably honest and painstaking account of New York’s transient art scene in the late sixties and early seventies. Great personalities touching and circling one another like atoms, charged electrons sparking, personalities fading, and the never-ending array of those who were “allowed” to sit at the main table at Max’s Kansas City. Artists, musicians, socialites, pornographic film stars, transvestites, all knights in Arthur’s proverbial round table. Throughout the memoirs, Smith casually runs into Dali, Joplin, Ginsburg, Corso, and a whole slew of indelible characters.

I mostly read the book with deep visceral aching, like a yearning to time-travel, or a wish to be born in someone else’s circumstances, or body. However romanticized and naive that might be, truly, I am jealous of Patti Smith. Waxing poetic on Genet, Baudelaire and her inspirations, it seems Bohemian ennui spans generations.

And yet, being truthful to myself, and to reality (that cunning thing), the streets were mean. The young children were dreaming in lofts with no heat, the gonorrhea infected souls in homes with no showers, no medicine, pee in tupperware on the floor, coffee of the instant variety. Without great luxuries, but embodying opulence. Her childhood somewhat picturesque, and yet also devastated by teen pregnancy leading to a secret adoption, and the end of formal schooling.

Flea-ridden artists describing their struggles, and not just the spoils of success, are hard to find. Robert Mapplethorpe and Smith, in their years of homelessness, pennilessness and struggle tried anything to succeed – writing; drawing; photography; jewelry design; theatre; performance poetry; installations, escorting.

I lived on 21st Street and 7th avenue for three years. In the exact footsteps of her journey, tiptoeing on the same pavement, and yet her ghosts didn’t whistle. I passed the Chelsea Hotel with not so much as a nod sometimes, in all its majestic beauty and history. Her NYC might be gone, but her beautiful love story (more about relationships as connections of human spirit) is an allegory that can occur anywhere.

And so, exactly as Patti would not want, here is a commercialized simulacra of her world – reducing her memories to things:
Patti Smith, Just Kids
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“Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.” ― Patti Smith, Just Kids

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Do the Hustle!

As cinephiles, my husband and I  run to the movies yearly, during award season, to try to see all the nominees. This year we’ve scoped Her, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Gravity! We’re desperately trying to find empty hours in the day to view the others before the red carpet on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Of the aforementioned movies, no screenplay, set design or costume design felt as complete at American Hustle. A heavy nod to Michael Wilkinson , costume designer and period piece extraordinaire! Thanks to him, no one was screaming, “Disco Sucks!” because we all wanted to wear glam-rock leotards, wire-rimmed glasses, three piece suits, wrap dresses, polyester trousers, rayon tube tops, knit vests, hot pants, tinted aviators and ultra wide lapels.

Inspired by Costume Design and Set Design of American Hustle featuring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams!

one // two // three // four // five // six 

seven // eight // nine // ten // eleven

Amy Adams’ completely embodied a seventies vixen in her plunging sequined Halston halter dresses to her Diane von Furstenberg wraps. Even the slightly pudgy Christian Bale was still dressed to the nines, and highly dateable, in his exaggerated mixed print leisure suits, ruffled shirts and burgundy velour blazers.

Not to be outdone, Judy Becker, the Production and Set Designer, created stellar work. “Everybody thinks of the ‘70s in New York as very dirty and graffiti-ridden, but I knew that our movie wasn’t that ‘70s,” said Becker. Including metallic wallpaper, a nod to brutalism and a gratuitous use of yellow, explore her world on set here.




Hey Arnold!

My good friend Andrew Springer works for Good Morning America on ABC. He is the guru for all things television and is often spotted reading a hard cover, non-fiction book on the history of the medium. No really, this kid has a killer commute and refuses to switch over to e-books, he likes dog-earing the pages and feeling the paper! But, I digress, Springer is my go-to grand poobah on the history of network television and the rise of certain thematic media trends. He was actually my friend who suggested I do a post on The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s interior design and set design, HERE. I recently asked him for his next suggestions – I was thinking of recreating the look from the oh-so-eighties “Clarissa Explains it All” but he suggested another Nickelodeon classic, Hey Arnold!. He texted me, “Remember his TOTALLY AWESOME bedroom?”. I do remember his bedroom, and I think the space officially accounts for the first time I was ever jealous of a cartoon. I think the creators of the cartoon even knew how cool it was since they dedicated an entire episode to its powers.

The cartoon Hey Arnold! was created by Craig Bartlett (author of Rugrats) and premiered in 1996. It ran for five seasons, had exactly 100 episodes, and…. Bartlett originally set out  to become a painter “in the 19th-century sense”, but started pursuing a career in animated films because of inspiration he found during a trip to Italy. It also did not hurt that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is Craig Bartlett’s brother-in-law. This new career turn brought him to claymation and Pee-wee’s Playhouse (another cult classic), it turns out Arnold was actually a minor character spun-off from this series, and was originally greenlit as  “Arnold Saves the Neighborhood”.

Hey Arnold! takes place in the fictional American city of Hillwood. The nebulous city seems to be based on large, metropolitan  cities, including Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and New York City with sporadic references to Nashville, TN and Allentown, PA, as mentioned in the Sally’s Comet Episode. Basically, the city is an amalgam of urban Americana. The series chronicles the life of Arnold, a 4th-grader in a nameless city , who lives in a multi-racial boarding house with his grandparents and a motley assortment of neighbors and friends. He is a reluctant hero, problem solving, and always forced to “do the right thing”. I learned several things from Hey Arnold!; how to spell the word “qualm”, to never eat raspberries, to never try to make a pig listen, how to judge hitting baseballs in the wind, saw my first televised bar mitzvah, the plight of refugees of The Vietnam War and adoption in tore worn countries (Mr. Hyunh and his a daughter, Mai), and a million lessons on ‘not judging a book by its cover’.

“The boy with the cornflower hair. Me beloved, and my despair.” – Helga

Image found HERE.

SO HOW DO I RECREATE THIS BEDROOM SO THAT STOOP KID WILL BE AFRAID TO LEAVE THE STOOP (and stay in the house?) The skylight is key, with a modern meets industrial vibe.

Image found HERE.

A modern day rendering and replica of Hey Arnold’s Room, HERE.

Image by Lotta Agaton, via HERE.

Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Van Vorst Park — Jersey City, New Jersey, Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Arnold had a very 1960’s to 1970’s anthropomorphic and avocado/orange rug. His walls was a blue green with alien print and ufos on the. His bedspread and blanket were a solid seafoam color. He had a very funky starburst, Eames style clock on one wall. Some of the details were very nifty-fifities diner-esque. He had a dusty pink modular storage unit with space for books, knickknacks and orange drawers. In the middle of the room sat an old car Bench Seat (or diner booth?) in red upholstery. He had a radiator, a fish tank, a PC, flowers, a show rack, an oblong egg chair, and he had track lighting. Somehow both urban, inexpensive, and modern.

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /9 / 10 / 11 / 12

What is your favorite TV bed room?

P.S. All screencaps found HERE.