BlackBook Interview: Legendary Songstress Ute Lemper Glams Up the Cafe Carlyle w/ Marlene Dietrich Tribute

Image by David Andrako

 

Ute Lemper is back in Weimar – psychologically, at least. The German songstress who came to fame playing Sally Bowles in the original Paris production of Cabaret, for which she won a Moliere Award – and then gained great acclaim with her immaculate renditions of Kurt Weill’s song catalog – is in residence at New York’s swank Café Carlyle until March 3. She’ll perform songs associated with Marlene Dietrich, from her early Weimar years to her experiences in exile, singing for American troops during WWII, and her later collaborations with the one and only Burt Bacharach.

Inspired by a three-hour phone conversation between Lemper and Dietrich some 30 years ago, the show unrolls as a series of musings on the legend’s life and philosophy, and the ways in which it has illuminated Lemper’s own journey. Although she has resisted various overtures to play Dietrich over the years, Lemper considers her 90-minute performance as an homage rather than an imitation, in which that long-ago conversation between a mentor and an ingénue is center stage.

The elegant chanteuse took time out of rehearsals to talk about her relationship with Dietrich, and why it took Germany so long to move beyond its resentment, to finally embrace one of its greatest artists.

 

 

Marlene feels like a perfect match for your talents, and a compliment to your Kurt Weill and Cabaret recordings.

Dietrich has been a phenomenon in my life – I’ve always been compared to her and felt weird about it. In the last year, three separate theater projects were brought to me in which I was to play Dietrich. One was about the relationship between Marlene and the French actor, Jean Gabin; another was about the relationship between Marlene and Edith Piaf; and the third was a theater show that was written ten or 15 years ago. I said no to all of them. But it’s so funny when you just listen to your inner voice and let it speak without censoring it, and once I did that I realized that I had my own show about Marlene to write, and that it had to be very personal, because I did not want to impersonate her – that’s always way too stereotyped and stylized. It had to be a dramatized conversation between the two of us.

And this is the conversation you had early in your career?

Yes, it goes back to 1988 when I lived in Paris, performed in the musical Cabaret, and won a French Tony award. She was still alive, living in Avenue Montaigne in Paris. The press was busy comparing me to her, and I felt embarrassed and wrote her a letter to express my admiration and thankfulness. A month later she called me and we had a three-hour conversation, 30 years ago, that took me a very long time to digest. She spoke a lot, about everything big and deep and sad and beautiful in her life. I kept this kind of secret and carried it with me. But I get into detail in the show about the different aspect of the conversation, which of course went through many, many chapters of her life: the German time, the Nazi time, her time as an American soldier, her time in Hollywood, her affinity for the poet Rilke, and the very sad relationship with her daughter, who then wrote a book about her after she passed away. The book was already written when we spoke, and Marlene told me her daughter was waiting for her death to publish it. I wish I could have the conversation now, because then I was only 24, but this show is based on that phone call, and then elaborates throughout her life the things she told me, with songs slipped in, but not necessarily in her style.

When I think of your music, what speaks to me the loudest, is how rooted you are in text, whether the poetry of Pablo Neruda, or the lyrics of Kurt Weill. I wonder if you see a comparison there with Dietrich’s highly articulated renderings of song.

Very much, there are moments when the line between her and me is so fine that you can’t say who is speaking. There are a lot of parallels, but also, I have to say, there is a lot in the story of her life that I’m compelled by. She’s an expatriate who has a huge pain in her chest about her story with Germany, and the fact that she was treated as a traitor after the war; and yet she was proud of her cultural heritage, and her way of approaching life was very German in itself. She passed away in 1992, when I was in rehearsal for The Blue Angel in Berlin, playing Lola. She died six days before the opening night, and was buried in Berlin. I was at the funeral and put a rose on her grave; but there were people who threw stink bombs on her grave. The people in the neighborhood where she lived in the 1920s, refused to let the street be renamed after her. It wasn’t for another ten years, in 2001, on the 100-year anniversary of her birth, that she was finally celebrated. Throughout my life, I’ve seen that the cycle closes so much later than expected – it took the Germans until 2005 to create a Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, almost 20 years after the fall of the Wall. Last year I created a show, Songs for Eternity, that is by the Jewish composers who were incarcerated and then murdered, people like Victor Ullman, who was a contemporary of Kurt Weill, and composed to the very end in the Theresienstadt concentration camp – until they threw him on the train to Auschwitz. For me, I continually see that I am closing cycles on stories that I tell, and Dietrich had something similar. I’m captivated by her.

So many people disengage from the Nazi era, but Marlene did not, and you do not.

Not only did she not disengage, she joined the American army – she was on the front line. She was singing for the enemy, so if she’d been caught she would have ended up in the concentration camp, too. She took a great risk for her ethics and beliefs, apart from enjoying singing for all these guys. It’s been a subject that has haunted me all my life. Even before I was 20 and I wrote my first Kurt Weill evening recital and it felt important to tell his life story, not to simply sing the songs, to talk about how this musical innovator was treated, insulted, had his scripts and music burned, and left Germany for America where he didn’t even want to speak German anymore – so much pain did he feel about what the Nazis had done. I was born in 1963, not even 20 years after the war. It was a Germany with so many open wounds.

 

Image by David Andrako 

 

You wrote a musical project about Charles Bukowski, whose family came from Germany in the 1920s. Do you have a particular fascination with the experience of the immigrant and the exile?

I am an immigrant – I left Germany for Austria, and then to Paris in 1987 to perform, and then to London; and after that I was only sporadically back in Germany. My first two children were born in Paris, and they always had two passports. I’ve lived in New York for the last 20 years. I have to say that I love Germany – it’s wonderful to do tours there. It just has a different integrity there. Nothing is sold just purely for the money, as it is here, and people are very, very straightforward, and have good morals beyond the movement of nationalism and populism that we see everywhere. But still the country has a past that should not be forgotten, and I’m just one of the worms that will not let anyone forget it.

You’ve performed at a dinner for Barack Obama and Angela Merckel. What was that experience like?

Well, I like Angela Merkel very much – at the beginning I was very suspicious of her because she was a prodigy of Helmut Kohl, a conservative politician who called himself a unification chancellor. He was not my kind of guy at all and I didn’t like his politics. But I think what she has achieved over so many years is wonderful, she has a directness about her. She’s educated, she’s an intellectual, but she also thinks with her heart. It’s not in her interest to win elections by lying. It might have to do with the fact that she is, after all, a woman. I liked Obama, though, and it was horrible to have witnessed over the eight years how Republicans tried to demonize him. The criticism was horrendous; it was a no-win for him. But looking back I think, ‘My god, what an ethical man to have as President.’

In this profound #metoo moment, I wonder what you think we can learn from the way Marlene Dietrich conducted her life, given that she appeared so much in possession of herself, so strong.

Billy Wilder described her as a great guy to hang out with – and that was basically how she approached her life, as an equal to the men around her. She was very progressive in her femininity. She did not at all fulfill the romantic ideals of the woman of the time, she was never a servant to the man. She liked a good smoke and a good drink, and she saw love for what it was: you respect the person’s solitude and protect it, and she had a very modern and open marriage with her husband. She had her leading men lovers, and she liked to conquer them and to explore them and to find their essence, and then she moved on. And she made no distinction between men and women, as long as she found them attractive. She had women lovers and men lovers, plenty of them, and she stayed friends with most of them.

What songs will you be performing at the Carlyle?

I start in the Weimar Republic, that Berlin I know very well from my other performances, and period of The Blue Angel, from 1928, which established her internationally. And then her war years – “Lili Marlene” will be in it; her experiences in 1950 with Hitchcock and Cole Porter – the good smooth songs like “One for my Baby,” Frank Sinatra stuff, but also important peace songs like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” in German and English, and then her collaboration with Burt Bacharach, which was very important. He was her arranger, her composer, her musical director, her pianist, for 15 years. He was still a young man, and she took a little bit of convincing, but he stayed with her for many years. I’m sure they also had an affair. I play the arrangement he made for her of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. And the later songs – “Just a Gigolo,” from her last movie – but also the French songs she loved so much. It’s more of a personal portrait of mine to her, an homage. Ideally it would be an off-Broadway show, it’s a play with music, but I just want to get my first grip on it in this very small, glamorous room, and feel it out.

 

Ute Lemper will be at Café Carlyle until Saturday, March 3, with performance at 8:45pm. Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 or online via Ticketweb.

 

 

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Get Out’ Bask in Golden Globes Glow

 

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale came roaring out of the gate for the 2018 Golden Globes, winning a nomination for Best Drama Series, as well as a nod for Elisabeth Moss in the category for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama. The race satire, Get Out, won nominations for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, and for its British star Daniel Kaluuya.

Other nominations included Saoirse Ronan for her role in Greta Gerwig’s indie fave Lady Bird, and Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer for Luca Guadagnino’s sumptuous Call Me By Your Name (the movie also got a Best Picture nod) – while Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon were both nominated for their roles, respectively, as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in Ryan Murphy’s Feud. Ronan’s Lady Bird co-star, Laurie Metcalf, was also nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. Also nominated for Best Drama, alongside The Handmaid’s Tale, were The CrownStranger ThingsGame of Thrones, and This is Us.

Big Little Lies picked up six nominations, including one for Nicole Kidman for Best Television Performance by an Actress. The full list of winners will be chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and announced at the ceremony on January 7.

Sunrise Ruffalo’s Upstate Adventure

 

Something happened this summer on the Western edge of the Catskills: the once thriving river towns that got rich in the 19th century on logging and the bordellos that served the lumberjacks have stirred back to life, thanks to an influx of New Yorkers looking for an escape plan in these testing times. Having lost their Main Street businesses to Walmart and Dollar General, a tangle of towns along Route 97 from Port Jervis are emerging as prime destinations, thanks to a mix of ambitious new restaurants, specialist boutique stores, and a wealth of river activities that bring the corridor to life in summer.

From Narrowsburg’s excellent The Laundrette with its inventive wood-fired pizzas and salads (think Brussels sprouts with a yuzu jalapeno aioli) and newly-opened Narrowsburg Proper (44 Main Street), a foodie’s emporium of gourmet imports from Europe as well as local farmers and bakers, to oenophile Robin Mailey’s new tapas-style wine store and bar in Callicoon (the soft opening is this weekend), the region is showing a flair for entrepreneurs priced out of New York or jaded by Hudson Valley’s twee vibe. The growing buzz is a credit to pioneers like The Heron restaurant (40 Main Street, Narrowsburg), River Gallery (8 Main Street, Narrowsburg) and clothing boutique Mayer Wasner (57 Main Street, Narrowsburg). They saw the potential before others, and toughed it out through leaner years.

A few weeks ago, the designer Sunrise Ruffalo – wife of Mark – brought her impeccable eye for design and art to a newly-vacant space next to Mayer Wasner, opening Sunny’s Pop just in time for the holiday season. One of several stores in the town specializing in home goods and décor (also check out The Nest, The Mildred Complex(ity) and The Velvet Maple, as well as Dyberry Weaver, which specializes in gorgeous hand-woven and dyed rugs), Ruffalo’s spare, clean aesthetic results in some excellent gift ideas for the Holidays. We invited her to choose her five top gift items:

 

Concrete Candle Shrine: $70

“Simple design, yet highly attractive in its use of materials and shape. The copper base exaggerates the candle’s flame to add extra flare.”


 

Maple Peg w/ Leather Strap Wall Hooks, available in tan/natural maple or black/black: $34-$40

“Made of beautiful maple wood, and completely functional in any space for anyone at any age.”


 

Handcrafted Ceramic Coffee Pour-Over, available in charcoal or white: $135

“Supporting local artists in the Catskills, and a new twist on drip-coffee makes the perfect gift for these chilly months.”


 

Small Nylon Tote w/ Adjustable Strap, available in coyote brown or black: $88

“This unisex tote is designed for all of your needs with an adjustable strap, storage pouch, and waterproof material. This tote is ready to conquer any city street or country scape.”


 

Hand-Carved and Spun Porcelain Cups, available in a variety of colors: $40

“Delicately carved cups in hand-mixed glazes ensure a one-of-a-kind cup every time.”

Beyoncé Leads the Top 10 Most Liked Instagrams of 2017

Photo: @beyonce on Instagram.

 

Instagram has released the official analytics for the top most-liked posts of 2017, and, to few’s surprise, Beyoncé is now the supreme most-celebrated star of social media. She’s joined by Selena Gomez, who dominates the top ten chart with heaps of Insta-love, and the famous Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

So, without further ado, here’s the list.

 

10. Selena Gomez blowing out birthday candles.

 

9. Selena Gomez on a bike in the sand.

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

 

8. Cristiano Ronaldo on a couch with his babies and family.

Family mood

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

 

7. Selena Gomez holding hands with The Weeknd at the Met Gala.

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

 

6. Selena Gomez taking a selfie of The Weeknd hugging her from behind.

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

 

5. More Cristiano with babies!

So happy to be able to hold the two new loves of my life

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

 

4. Another baby pic, but this time of Beyoncé wearing Palomo Spain, with her two angels Rumi and Sir.

Sir Carter and Rumi 1 month today.

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

 

3. Selena Gomez receiving a kidney transplant from her best friend.

I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo on the day his daughter Alana was born.

A Alana Martina acaba de nascer! Tanto a Geo como a Alana estão muito bem! Estamos todos muito felizes!

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on

 

1. And, finally, our champion: Beyoncé announcing her pregnancy in a green veil.

New Brooklyn Exhibition Celebrates Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton & Lindsay Lohan

We know you’re obsessed with the Olsen twins, Lindsay Lohan, and this video of Kim Cattrall scatting. But you’re probably not as obsessed as Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen—they started a museum about it.

The pair have created exhibitions about all of the above, as well as, currently, Nicole Richie’s infamous 2007 Memorial Day Barbeque, which they curated in collaboration with popular Tumblr, Pop Culture Died in 2009. For their first show, the duo presented a gallery of images and memorabilia surrounding the Winter Olympic Games of 1994, where world-class figure skate Tonya Harding attacked her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.

While it may not be the Met (yet), the creators of the THNK 1994 (Tony Harding Nancy Kerrigan 1994) Museum have evolved a wall in their living room dedicated to their favorite athletes into a permanent, fully-realized exhibition space dedicated to showcasing and selling the artwork of female and LGBTQ artists.

The museum is located at 1436 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and open from 12-7 PM Wednesdays through Sundays. In addition to their exhibitions, they hold live events that (we can confirm) are always incredible: they’ve had panel discussions on Britney Spears, for instance, as well as screenings of 9 To 5 and Moana. 

We sat down with the curatorial duo to find out the story of how this fabulously strange gallery space came to be.

How’d you two find each other?

Viviana  Matt and I met through Upright Citizens Brigade. We were both comedians there, and then we met at a party and just decided to be friends. When we decided to start working together, we weren’t really doing UCB as much anymore, and we were both just feeling a little lost. But we started hanging out, and we were having a lot of fun, he’d come over, we’d watch Real Housewives, we’d swipe on Tinder… it was just heaven.

A post shared by THNK1994 Museum (@thnk1994) on

How did the idea to make a museum together form?

Viviana  We decided to move in together. The first apartment we looked at we took—it was in Williamsburg, and we thought, “Oh, there are a lot of hot guys in Williamsburg.” It was a tiny apartment. It felt like a boat. But there was a 25-foot long hallway instead of a living room, and we thought, “Oh, we have to do something with this hallway.” And Matt’s friend came over and told us we looked like serial killers and needed to put some art on the walls. But it was winter, and neither of us had boyfriends, so we watched a lot of movies. We watched that Netflix documentary, The Price of Gold, about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Games. We just couldn’t stop talking about it, and it was at a time in Netflix where no one was watching anything at the same time, so no one else seemed to care about it. So we decided to make a museum. If it had happened today, there would have been a million think pieces about it.

How did people initially react when they heard about the Tonya and Nancy exhibit?

Matt  People would say, “You’re so cynical,” or “This is a joke, right?” But then we explain “No,” and go into this long detailed background of the story we’re exhibiting.
Viviana  In retrospect, of course there was a huge figure skating community who felt like this story kind of belonged to them. And we began talking to people who were there at the time—reporters, and people who made art. And we’d meet people and they’d give us artifacts—a woman gave us a pin from the Championship where it happened. We got press passes from where the attack happened. We got all these things that were really important, so it went from, “Oh, we’re going to blow up pictures of Tonya and Nancy and be cute” to “Oh, we have these very real things, people are excited about it, people want to come. Let’s make this as nice as possible.” We let strangers into our house, but it wasn’t scary, because if you’re going to a figure skating museum, there’s someone you can hang out with. You know? We’ve met so many great people. No matter the exhibit, it’s always so fun to meet people in real life, off the internet. It’s a muscle you don’t flex unless you have to.

How did you guys end up in the physical museum space, then?

Matt  We were on our way to meet this artist, who has a painting of Naomi Campbell in the show right now, of her in her outfit doing community service. No one got a bad photo of her—she wore gowns. And on the way we passed this place, and it looked splendid, and we’d already been talking about doing some more exhibits, and trying to find a permanent space that would allow us to do that.
Viviana  If you do a pop-up, like we did for the “Olsen Twins” one, you spend, like, $2,500 for two weeks. So we were trying to be more economical.

A post shared by THNK1994 Museum (@thnk1994) on

How did this show come about? 

Viviana We’ve known about him for awhile. We’re huge fans. He’s so smart, and just a fabulous curator. He had reblogged one of our “Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi” images from our show last year, and so we started following each other. Then for our “Yamma Kippi Yaybo” exhibit, I think he came by for one of those events, and we approached him about doing something. We’ve been working on lining up shows for the whole year, and we wanted to do something with him about the 2000s. So we decided to do a series about scandal, beginning with Winona, and being caught shoplifting. When social media became bigger, tabloid culture kind of died down, because you could hear things straight from celebrities’ mouths.

How do you get in touch with the artists you choose to use for your exhibits? 

Viviana  When we launched our first exhibit—about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan—and we did a Kickstarter, a bunch of artists reached out to us then. A lot of them we still haven’t actually met to this day, like Heather Rohnert, who does all of our calligraphy. We’ll find people who like what we do, and are doing something similar. That’s how we met Laura Collins—she already had a drawing of Tonya Harding. Then we saw that she had all these paintings of the Olsen twins hiding from the paparazzi, and we were like, “Woah, what is this?” And she said she was doing a series. We said, “These should be in a museum!” And then we realized we had a museum. That was a really cool partnership to form with her—we actually represent her now.

What other plans do you have for upcoming exhibits?

Matt  After this one, we have “Real Housewives Pointing Fingers,” and then after that, we’re working on the times between exhibits, when we’re sending out all the pieces that sold to whomever bought them. So we’re thinking between exhibits we want to open the space to local artists, to show their work in.
Viviana  We’ll find something that speaks to us—like the “Yamma Kippi Yaybo” exhibit—so we’re now waiting for things to come to us. We’ll watch a movie at 2 AM and be like, “Oh my god this!” So we have a lot of TV to watch.

What are your favorite TV shows to binge?

Viviana  We are well-versed in the Housewives universe, from start to finish, every location. We feel like the Dallas one is really underappreciated, and it’s a good one to jump on to, because it’s only in its second season.
Matt  It’s a really good season. There’s a carnie, who was raised in a carnival, and her tagline is “You don’t mess with a carnie.” But terrible stuff happened to her at the carnival.

Have any of the celebrities you’ve done exhibits about acknowledged the show?

Viviana  During the Olsen twins one—this was before Postmates was big—we were at the space, and we tweeted “Somebody bring us some Frappuccinos. And 30 minutes later, a courier came. And he had two mocha Frappuccinos for us. And he wouldn’t tell us who it’s from. Now, I don’t know who has courier money other than the Olsen twins.

What are your ultimate curatorial aspirations?

Matt  Well, what we love about the space is it really is an unhinged madhouse of people coming, and having conversations about Tonya Harding, Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan. So we’d love to keep doing shows about specific topics—with a lot of these, you’re trained to have a defensive way of reacting to it, or apologizing for the fact that you love it. But there’s no need. You’re preparing for it to be called stupid, when it’s like, “I know it’s stupid. And I like it.”
Viviana  Yeah, like, “It makes me happy. Is that not enough for you? I have to hate myself for liking something?”
Matt  So we want to have a space where people feel comfortable to come and talk about these things. We’re more than down at any time to have a real, in-depth conversation about Britney Spears.
Viviana  We just had a Britney Spears panel, and so many people came who we didn’t know, from all corners of New York. It got emotional, like group therapy—people talked about what Britney meant to them, and how she helped them, and we all listened to music. It didn’t matter how many followers you had, or anything like that. It was spiritual, like church.

What’s the permanent collection like?

Matt  We built up some of our old exhibits in the back, yeah. We’ve got the whole Tonya Nancy exhibit up, and bits and pieces of the others.
Viviana  We love the space. It looks like if Jennifer Aniston were playing a travel writer in a rom com—the place where she would live.

THNK 1994’s current exhibit, Nicole Richie’s 2007 Memorial Day BBQ, runs through August 11. Their next exhibit, Real Housewives Pointing, opens in October.

Top Summer Reading: 4 Titles to Throw in Your Backpack

Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney

There are many great chroniclers of New York City, but among the best must be ranked Jay McInerney, if for no other reason than his masterpiece, Bright Lights, Big City, published to instant acclaim when he was just 29. That novel, told in the second person, threw us full tilt into the world of 80s New York. It was moving, evocative, and thrilling. Wisely, McInerney is still writing about the city he knows best, and Bright, Precious Days touches on the themes that have animated him since the 1980s: money, failure, self-doubt, and the pursuit of happiness. The third in a trilogy that began 25 years ago, with Brightness Falls, his latest takes up the story of Russell and Corrine Calloway as they navigate mid-life in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Not unlike McInerney’s own life, much of it revolves around book parties, art shows, restaurants, and weekends in the Hamptons, suffused with ennui and nostalgia. More portrait than plot, Bright, Precious Days shows that McInerney is still the master of capturing that particular New York sense of falling and failing, all other evidence to the contrary. Vintage, $16.95


Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe by Anne Applebaum

First published in 1994, this travelogue by the journalist Anne Applebaum now reads as history. Much of the world she recorded on her journey from Kaliningrad to Odessa in the fall of 1991 would alter beyond recognition as the Soviet Union collapsed and civil wars sprung up across the Balkans. As she points out in her new introduction, the isolated village of Bieniakonie in Belarus now has its own website, “but when I turned up there in 1991, people stopped in the street to stare at me.” Anchor Books, $17.95

 


The Hue and Cry at Our House by Benjamin Taylor

By all accounts Taylor should not have survived birth—his mother had lost two babies before him. The miracle of surgery ensured his survival, but childhood was not easy —even before he knew he was gay. When he was six his parents took him to his first psychiatrist, but his struggles remained.   “I spilled food at every meal,” he writes. “At roller-skating parties I posed a clear and present danger. My obsessive concern was to memorize everything.” He was, he says, “fully equipped—a boy with asthma, homosexuality and what would later be called Asperger’s Syndrome.” The book’s conceit is Taylor’s recollection of shaking JFK’s hand, hours before he was assassinated in Dallas, but that lucid and poignant memory is just a jumping off point for a gorgeously elegiac series of recollections and observations about life and time and friendship. Taylor can write like an angel, and his memoir could be three times as long and still not overstay its welcome. Penguin Books, $16


Swimming in the Sink by Lynne Cox

How exhilarating to be the first to achieve something remarkable. Lynne Cox, the long distance swimmer from Boston, has done so over and over again. She was the first to cross the Straits of Magellan in Chile, the first to swim around the cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and the first woman to swim the 16 kilometers of the Cook Strait in New Zealand, where the water temperature is 50f. Perhaps most famously, in 1987, she swum from the United States to the Soviet Union across the Bering Straits, winning an accolade from the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev. Such extreme conditions can take their toll. In 2012, Cox developed an irregular heartbeat and severe cramping in both hands. Doctors suggested she might need a heart transplant. Determined to avoid that drastic scenario, Cox focuses on her diet, her state of mind, and her friendships, gradually healing herself in the process. “The day I learned I might lose my heart, I started talking to it, and the conversation has never stopped,” she writes. “We still had great things we would do together, and I wanted to do them wholeheartedly.” Vintage, $16

 

Norwegian Air is Bringing Back the Great European Vacation

Photo courtesy of This is Edinburgh

If you need to know why Norwegian Air has just been named the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline’ for the third consecutive year (and the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe’ for the fifth year in a row) look no further than how it disrupts the way other major airlines operate.

In May, American Airlines, rapidly becoming the nation’s choice of last resort, announced that it would yet again add more seats to planes, reducing the space between rows by one to two inches depending on where you sit. This is not much more than Spirit Airlines, but without Spirit’s steep discounts. “It’s less legroom and more uncomfortable seats,” travel blogger Gary Leff told The New York Times last month, explaining how more seats mean less padding. That’s another reason why your ass feels so sore after flying AA. And with less room to tilt your seat, your back will feel sore, too. By contrast, the seat pitch on Norwegian is a 31″-32″, about the same as Delta.

A view from Calton Hill (Photo courtesy of Visit Britain)

But the real disruption is the way Norwegian has figured out how to lower costs—such as utilizing smaller regional airports like Providence, RI, or Stewart International in New York’s Hudson Valley, where landing fees are about ten times lower than at LaGuardia in Queens. For those willing to take the new Stewart Airport Express, a direct coach service to Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan (approx. 90 minutes), or drive, the prices to fly direct to cities like Edinburgh at the height of summer are jaw-droppingly competitive.

Round trips have been promoted for as low as $300, and can still be purchased for around $500—in August. A round-trip, non-stop on American to Edinburgh or Dublin, by contrast, will set you back $1,271.

And that’s not all. Norwegian plans to launch direct flights from Newark and Los Angeles to Rome in November, as well as a twice-weekly nonstop service to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Providence’s T. F. Green Airport for those seeking some winter sun.

Naturally, the country’s flagship airlines are feeling the heat. As they continue to make money from new fees without cutting prices, Norwegian Air is offering a new alternative to passengers that are tired of getting so little in return for giving up so much. Can it last? We hope so, though airlines have been known to crush this kind of uprising before.

Vetements Hosts S/S 18 ‘No Show’ In A Parking Lot

Photo: Demna Gvasalia/ @Vetements_Official on Instagram

Always one to buck convention, Demna Gvasalia’s S/S 18 show for Vetements was not a runway show at all, but rather a gallery of lifesize lookbook photos presented in, naturally, a multi-story parking lot.

The models? Random people plucked off the streets: young, old, and even entire families. It’s a relatively expected move for Gvasalia and his anti-brand; poking fun at the highbrow, nose-in-the-air world of Paris Fashion Week, though that’s not to say the regular shows fit into any sort of mold (see: sky-high scaffolding and Gvasalia’s fashion dads).

As for the clothing, the looks were reflections on Vetements past, with some fine tuning. There were the typical spandex boots, chunky heels, funky T-shirts, baggy dresses, shirts, and jackets: normcore at its most expensive.

“I wanted to go back and perfect things we did in former seasons. It’s kind of a best of, I suppose. And I felt quite liberated by that,” Gvasalia told Vogue.

And in an even more interesting twist, models picked out their own looks for the presentation, and Gvasalia himself took the pictures.

“What you see is what each person chose to wear themselves,” Gvasalia continued. “Everyone is choosy about what they want to wear; it was quite a big project with a huge range of clothes. And I showed everyone their photographs to be sure they liked them.”

Take a look at some of our picks for best looks below:

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2018

A post shared by VETEMENTS (@vetements_official) on

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2018

A post shared by VETEMENTS (@vetements_official) on

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2018

A post shared by VETEMENTS (@vetements_official) on

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2018

A post shared by VETEMENTS (@vetements_official) on

VETEMENTS SPRING-SUMMER 2018

A post shared by VETEMENTS (@vetements_official) on

Ken’s New Fashion Chapter Includes a…Man Bun

We’ve all known Ken to be a pioneer in the fashion industry since his birth in 1961 from the plastic womb of Mattel. Over the years, he’s been retro…

Courtesy of Mattel (1961).

He’s been avent garde…

Courtesy of Mattel (Ken by Gareth Pugh).

He’s been a whole host of things:

Courtesy of Mattel.

Now, it’s with great pleasure we introduce Ken’s next chapter in his ongoing fashion evolution: a Brooklyn hipster sporting his inevitable man bun:

Courtesy of Mattel.

He’s part of the “New Crew,” a new collection of Barbies and Kens recently unveiled by the toy titan. The New Crew has 15 new dolls, in 3 different body types, with 5 different ethnicities of dear Kenneth. Here’s the whole New Crew:

Courtesy of Mattel.

As the new line drops, so too does the news that an exhibition of the best of vintage Ken, including that fantastic Gareth Pugh version, will go up this Friday at the London-based store Machine-A, Dazed reports.

It’s important to keep a few things in mind as you continue with the rest of your day: