I just finished Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure, which is probably the funniest memoir I’ve ever read, but also one of the tenderest and most soulful. Shteyngart’s been telling immigrant stories for years in his novels, but this time he’s recounting his own, and to say it’s the stuff of fiction is to understate things rather meaningfully.
OK, your turn. What’s on your bedside table?
A rude salesperson or a pushy one?
I’m not gonna lie. $250.* I’m a freak for fit, and wear jeans more than anything else I own. And you?
*I will add that I do own a few pairs of Levis Curve ID jeans, which both fit great and do not cost anywhere near too much.
Should I cut my hair short? I’ve got an appointment this afternoon and am really tempted to go from where it is now—just past my shoulders—to what you see here, or maybe even shorter. As it is, I pull my hair back most days because I don’t want to be hassled with it, but that’s so deadly boring and not especially cute. If it’s short, I feel like I’ll wear it down a lot more because the hassle won’t be as huge. But is it too predictable to cut your hair short just a few weeks before you turn 50? And if so, do I care?
Please advise. Time is of the essence.
Yesterday afternoon, I got so annoyed looking at street style photos from outside the shows that I had to go outside and take a walk to clear my head (it was also time to take the dog out, but still). Back when dinosaurs walked the earth and I still attended the shows, this whole spectacle didn’t exist: the only people who got their pictures taken were a cache of editors and buyers whose style you might actually want to emulate, because it existed of this world, and not out on planet Loonypants. Those editors and buyers still go to the shows, and I’m sure they still look fantastic. I wish I could find some pictures of them for you, because they might inspire you the way that seeing all of them in the tents used to inspire me.
I think the reason it’s got me so irked this time around, instead of just amusing me, as it usually does, is I’ve begun to think these women are actually really bad for fashion. What they’re doing isn’t inspirational, it’s crass, and all in the name of attention seeking, and it has nothing to do with what real women want—which becomes a problem when some of the more notable among them start being referred to as “influencers.” And it gives real street style—the kind that actually does influence designers and create trends—a bad name. I got on the phone and vented to my friend Andrea, who reminded me of what she always says: that fashion week looks like audition day for clown college, only nobody told these people there’s no clown college in this town. And then that did amuse me, and provided some context.
Especially for shots like this.
And then also this.
And this one too. Which I also include because, even though the temperature the past week has averaged around 28 degrees, it has not been cold enough for these women to ignore the memo that apparently went out saying gloves were uncool. None of them wear gloves.
Except for this chick.
Photos via The Cut
Loyal reader Nancy wrote in yesterday to say she was surprised I hadn’t weighed in on the passing of Loehmann’s, and to ask if I had any special memories of the place. And indeed I do, although they don’t involve any momentous scores, but instead, epic humiliation at the hands of my bargain-happy grandmother Gelta, for whom Loehmann’s was an opiate as powerful as heroin. It was the only place she would take me shopping, and one of the few where she would buy for herself, even though my grandfather was a successful man who wanted only for her to have the nicest things. Part of the horror of going to Loehmann’s with Gelta was that she had no filter, and this could spell trouble for an easily embarrassed 14 year-old girl in a communal dressing room. Like the time I’d just tried on a pair of white jeans with rainbows on the pockets and she started picking indelicately at the inseam, and announced, “Kimberly, these are TOO TIGHT IN THE CROTCH, ” loud enough that all of the women in our direct proximity actually turned around to see what she could be referring to. If the ground had opened up and swallowed me whole at that moment, I would only have been grateful.
That’s my memory. Now I want to hear yours. Was it something like an amazing Helmut Lang coat, like Nancy, or a markdown-crazed family member, like me?
I did a some quick math between stuffing boxes over the weekend and realized that the apartment I’m moving into today will be my tenth residence since moving to the city in 1988. I never planned to be the type of person who didn’t settle anywhere for too long—the lengthiest I’ve ever lived anywhere here is six years—but that has been my reality. And it mildly troubled me until an astrologer told me that Pisces are nomads, and then—even though I don’t much believe in astrology—I decided to feel OK about it, and even look forward being the type of person who keeps moving on.
This time is tougher than most, though. Three years ago, I closed on my big, beautiful West Village apartment in a perfect prewar building just weeks before I got fired from my fancy job, so I knew from the moment I moved in that I wouldn’t be staying long. That I got to be here so long has felt like a gift. And now, rather than remain in this deadly pricy neighborhood in a place that can’t hold a candle to the one I’m leaving, I’m moving way farther downtown and east, to a place that I loved the moment I walked in. It’s modern, and all windows and light and the bathrooms and kitchen sparkle with new fixtures—a sharp contrast to the places I’ve favored in the past, and one I surprised myself by being attracted to. And it’s right across the street from a park and a community garden I discovered last spring and fell in love with. I’m ready for a new set of streets and fresh inspiration, but I am feeling awfully sentimental about the neighborhood I will always think is the most beautiful in the city. So it seemed like a good moment to share my favorite spots with you.
Chocolate Bar: The treats are great and you just might die for the chocolate-covered Oreos, but this place also serves coffee and has tables, and has served, since I started writing again, as my official office away from home. If I could adopt every single member of the young staff here I would, because they’re all so affable and smart and fun, and I’ve made some of my more enduring neighborhood friendships—and met my wonderful dog walker Ryan—hanging out at its little tables.
Le Bonbonniere Way back when I first lived in the West Village some 25 years ago, this no-frills diner was run by a bunch of old French guys, smelled vaguely and permanently of a grease fire, and was always my first stop for a cheap and satisfying hangover breakfast. All these years later, the French guys are gone, the air’s cleared a bit and it can be maddeningly difficult to get a table on the weekends, but otherwise it’s changed hardly at all—unlike just about everything around it. Also, they serve the best turkey BLT in town.
Casa Magazines Walk in the door of this justifiably popular newsstand, and you’d never guess that the magazine industry is in crisis: they’ve got everything, with a special emphasis on rare and fabulous fashion glossies. And this is a place where you are seriously only a stranger once—the guys who work here not only remember their customers, they remember which titles they buy, and if you’re having a hard time locating it in their jam-packed store, they’re likely to come to your aid before you even have a chance to ask.
Beasty Feast My floor is permanently littered with dog toys—undercutting my best attempts at creating any striking home decor moments—because of Beastie Feast. It’s another place in the neighborhood that’s truly neighborhood and since they stock the only food my finicky Sammy loves, and deliver all over the city, I don’t plan on totally saying goodbye to them.
Frankies Most of the restaurants in my neighborhood are either not especially notable or impossible to get into without reservations, so I was thrilled when this sibling of the popular Brooklyn Italian spot opened up on Hudson street. It’s pretty big, so it’s usually not too tough to get a table, but it’s nicely lit and somehow feels like a more intimate spot when you’re seated with your party. Everything is good, but the meatballs are especially fantastic, as is the cavatelli with sausage. And the gnocchi. And sometimes in the summer, they make a linguine with crab and that is crazy good too. Losing Frankies hurts.
Castor & Pollux Right off of the mini-mall that Bleecker Street has become is one of the city’s best indie boutiques, which I have praised lavishly on more than one occasion. Castor & Pollux surprises me every time I go there, and is one of the main reasons I know I’ll be back west for a visit from time to time.
Manhattan Fruit Exchange You have to fight swarms of slow-moving tourists dragging their way through Chelsea Market to get to it, but this greengrocer has some of the best and most varied produce in town. If you’re looking for exotic ingredients, or a decent tomato in December, these are your guys. And because they wholesale to half the restaurants in the city, the prices are amazing.
C.O. Bigelow Apothecary Only the best pharmacy/beauty emporium a girl could ever live within walking distance of. Bigelow, I think I will miss you most of all.
Images via Time Out, The Beautiful Streets, NY Mag, Trip Advisor, Shopikon
I used to consume so many magazines that my coffee table looked like other people’s recycling piles, but nowadays, it takes special circumstances for me to go on a serious print binge. And last week, when my cable and internet went out in perfect synchrony with the big snowstorm, I had the ideal excuse to hit the newsstand hard. So I headed to the really excellent one right across the street from my place and bought all the magazines I read on a regular or semi-regular basis. They are as follows: British Vogue (my favorite of the Vogues) Living Etc (fun British home magazine) Grazia, Frankie (cute indie mag from Australia) Us Weekly (I’m not ashamed), New York, and The New Yorker. I don’t read a whole lot of fashion mags anymore unless I’m getting my hair done. Now please share your list, or, if this is the case, tell me which digital entities you’ve switched over to instead. I know this whole line of questioning sounds like I’m conducting market research, but I’m actually really just curious—and a little surprised that I haven’t asked sooner. So please do share. The more obsessively specific you are, the happier I’ll be.
I do hope you’re all off enjoying your holidays by now, and are doing whatever it is that makes you happiest with the people you love most. I’ll be ducking out to take a little break now, so see you back here January 2. Thanks for another very gratifying year here at Girls of a Certain Age. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: you are the liveliest, cleverest, and all-around best group of readers a girl could hope for, and truly my inspiration. Don’t you dare go and change.
Christmas can be a funny time if you’re Jewish—it’s not your holiday, but it’s such a huge holiday that the entire world grinds to a halt, so your impulse is to locate the people you love most and share the moment with them. My tradition involves my brother Mike’s family, me, and Christmas Eve dinner at this very old-school, thoroughly unstylish but secretly great Greenwich Village restaurant (that’s a picture of it above—bonus points to any New Yorker who can identify it). Their specialty is t-bone steak—like I said, we’re talking old school—and we get it with every conceivable side order, and then when we’re done, go to the deli across the street and buy candy bars for dessert. Like all good traditions, we didn’t plan for it to become one; we just kept going back, year after year, until we realized that we’d created something the season wouldn’t feel right without. Now please tell me yours. I love this stuff.