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Meet & Greet – Rachel

Meet Rachel. I can tell you right now that she is going to HATE me for using that photo – she is notoriously hard to get photographed, like an illusive unicorn. She is a close friend of mine who has now been living in New York City for about 2.5 years. She is originally a West Coaster (but her heart belongs on the East Coast) from Irvine, California. Rachel studied Film Production at The University of Southern California and is a Production Assistant for several TV shows (including Gossip Girl, The Big C, Mildred Pierce, Pan Am), and a few movies. I actually visited her on the set of a new pilot just last week. She and I both enjoy a clever cocktail. However, we hardly EVER go to the movies together, she is an extremely theoretical and judgmental critic (as she is well versed in cinematography) – she was definitely NOT the friend to ask to see Twilight at midnight. Har har. Rachel has lived in Barcelona, Spain were she gained a working knowledge of Spanish. I can only guess that this is where she had her love affair with Spanish director, screenwriter, and producer, Pedro Almodóvar Caballero. Her favorite quote by him (and in life) is thus, “Una película vista por mil personas se puede convertir en mil películas distintas, y todas son legítimas” – meaning, “A movie seen by a thousand people can be converted into a thousand distinct movies, and all are legitimate”.

Aside from one of the best senses of humor (wry, sarcastic, facetious, realist) among any of my friends, she also has one of the best personal styles. However, I do not think I have ever seen her wear a color (except in jewelry). She is the paragon of minimalistic greys, whites, and blacks.

As part of my ongoing EAT/SEE/SHOP/DO series, I asked her to come up with a short list of her favorites:

EAT:  “Favorite place to eat is such a hard question. It depends on what mood you’re in. If you want formal, if you want casual, it all changes. My favorite hang out spot is The Grey Dog at Union Square – I take everyone there . But if we’re talking my favorite culinary delight, I would say Boqueria or I Sodi. A coffee shop is my absolute favorite, if you want to capture my essence…you know how I feel about coffee”

The Spanish tapas and paella joint in NYC has several types of Sangria (including a beer infused version) and amazing small plates. Boqueria, 53 West 19th Street
New York. Image found HERE.

This tiny Italian restaurant on the West Village/Tribeca border is quaint, cozy, and familial. Aside from a perfect after dinner espresso, all the pastas and sorbets are handmade!  Now, let us join together for a moment of silence as we thank Rita Sodi for honoring the integrity of fresh (including locally made olive oil) farm food and the authenticity of traditional italian cuisine. Image courtesy of the restaurant, I Sodi, 105 Christopher St., 10014 New York, NY. 

The founders of The Grey Dog explain, “In 1996 the Grey Dog coffeehouse was created. She was named after Moose and Goose, our two labrador retrievers, one white the other black. The goal was to build a small coffeehouse in the world’s great city. We wanted to concentrate on little things that often get lost in big city life, like getting to know the names of our patrons and serving wonderful fresh foods at very reasonable prices.” The Grey Dog, 90 University Place  New York, NY 10003. Also, Rachel and I always talk about how “laissez-faire-hot” the baristas are. Image found via Elaine is Eating, HERE.

SEE: “My favorite building in NYC is the Empire State Building, I never really go into it but,  it’s the key symbol for An Affair To Remember (one of my favorite classic movies).”

SHOP: Of favorite places to shop she explains, “Oh my god, I love shopping up and down the entire Fifth Avenue strip in the Flatiron District. All my shops are there, such as Anthropologie, Free People, Zara.” She pauses, “….I don’t know I’m not very exciting, Keren. I should be saying some weird vintage shop that I love, something funky but, I like Rag & Bone – it brings happiness to my heart.”

Here is Rachel (or as we all call her “Jaros”) looking snazzy in her threads and hailing a cab. She’s the cab hailing expert, we all call her “the team captain”. 

DO: “My favorite thing to do on a day off is to get a coffee at 11th Street Cafe and then to go to the Angelika Film Center by myself.”

Image courtesy of Parsons’ Urban Research Tool found HERE.

AND NOW, the grande finale, A TOUR OF HER WEST VILLAGE DIGS:

Do you have any friends whose style is extremely different from yours, and yet you LOVE it?

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We’re Gonna Make it After All

The Mary Tyler Moore Show  was an American TV sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. It finished with 168 episodes. The show was revolutionary for its time because it was the first show to focus on a single woman who did not rely or seek to rely on a man in order to support her. Mary Richards was young, not widowed or divorced. She is a thirty something who chose to break off a two-year engagement and live a life for herself in Minneapolis. My friend Andrew Springer who works for ABC News’ Good Morning America and who also convinced me to write this post, explains, “Mary Tyler Moore was the first sitcom to chronicle the life of the modern, independent woman. Up until Mary, TV’s leading lady was  the raucous Lucy–goofy, physical, and always reliant on her husband. Moore was the opposite: intelligent, witty and single.”  Springer also explained to me that through the 1970’s network censors wouldn’t allow death on sitcoms until an episode of Mary Tyler Moore entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust”. Chuckles, WJM’s in-house clown, was the first person to die in a primetime sitcom (the unfortunate victim of a hungry circus elephant when the clown was dressed as a peanut). This episode also garnered MTM an Emmy win.

(Images from Hooked on Houses and Wikipedia Commons)

Map of Mary’s Apartment and Set Description via MTMShow.com

Mary’s apartment is a veritable cornucopia of 1970’s ephemera. The apartment was not stagnant, and like a “real human being’s” changed as Mary grew, evolved, and styles shifted. During the treatment of the original script, writers knew that they wanted a “large sunny window”. In fact, for the time, the set description for MTM was one of the most stringent and complex for a sitcom. The writers believed that the apartment needed to represent a specific style of woman. Mary was as much the objects in her apartment as she was her witticisms and joke delivery.  The team that made Mary’s apartment a soundstage reality were MTM art director Lewis E. Hurst, Jr, set decorator Raymond Boltz, and coordinator of set construction Lloyd Apperson. It was important to the set designers to create a space that a “real life single woman” could afford. The room was designed to look like a studio apartment (including a small kitchenette), and was not to be filled with excess like Lucy’s fancy house that could not have been purchased on a bank clerk’s wages. According to Sandy McLendon, Senior Editor of Modernism Magazine and freelance writer for  Old House Interiors, “The real genius of the set was in the way it was dressed: Raymond Boltz’s choices for furnishings and accessories defined Mary Richards nearly as much as Mary Tyler Moore’s acting did. The room was anchored by two items meant to establish Mary as a solid person: an expensive new hide-a-bed in brown velvet, and a French provincial armoire that was the sort of thing a young career woman would buy as a lifetime investment.”

A behind the scenes photo of how the apartment was set up on the soundstage. It was actually quite small, like a real studio. (Here.)

Because of Mary’s character’s budget restraints, much of the apartment was meant to be curated via thrift shop finds: victorian chairs, an industrial sign “M” letter, a country French lavabo plaque,  wall mounted jewelry racks, empty glass bottles, second-hand plates, wicker chairs, pumpkin-shaped cookie jars, space age lamps. The amalgam of accessories and various accoutrements were meant to represent Mary’s personality, taking inspiration from Provincial France, Modernism, Futuristic styles, Victorian cabinetry, and other “academic” era. Mary was smart, she had a good eye, and the decor was meant to complete her character’s whimsical, kind, and multifaceted personality. This attention to set and the dedicated to character realism was seminal.

Where to Buy After the Jump:

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