This Friday evening, my good friend Maud Newton, of the elegant eponymous blog (to which I contribute the Smart Set each week), will be debuting her first public literary reading and discussion that she's hosting (Fun fact: Last time I saw Calvin, we were at dinner with Maud and other friends, including the sublime (and just back from Antwerp!) Carrie A.A. Frye, at 66 after a party and a tragic-looking Mary-Kate Olsen was at the next table, making out with an unfortunately Kevin Federline-ish guy who, of course, turned out to be an oil heir). The event takes place at Lolita (7pm, FREE) and full details are here. Do join us if you're downtown.
Says friend of Lux Lotus (& LL interview subject), artist and secret poet, Jeffrey Teuton:
"On May 24th I will be opening my new show in Berlin. The show will run at Galerie Open through July 19th and is titled Dracula, a Snake and Narcissus Walk Into A Bar. The show has 9 new paintings from 30 by 40 inches to 60 by 40 inches. There is also a really big installation of notebook pages from over the years that wil be on the second floor of the gallery, and a third room of Polaroids from over the years. If you are in Europe please stop by- I will be out there May 17th for the opening."
Vanessa of the stylish catch-all blog Entre Nous recently moved to Savannah and is selling chain-link scarves she's made herself as a scheme for "acquiring some extra cash during my graduate school days." As if I needed a reason to snap one up in a hot minute! Mine (a purplish mauve with gold flecks) is on its way. In a world of corporate homogeneity and disposable fashion, supporting independent, creative women with serious talent is my pleasure.
"I never imagined a red bra would show up on the cover of my novel, Self Storage. I had pictured a stylized sign from a self storage facility, perhaps a cardboard box. But when the art department at Random House sent along an image of a red bra nestled inside a mason jar, I knew it was perfect—so unexpected and compelling. It spoke so much to me of a self stored, a self bottled up, passion locked away.
I taught at a writer's conference in Santa Cruz a couple of years ago. One of my fellow teachers was a Yoruba priestess. She said that she let the spirit of Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of love, healing and art, guide her as she taught. Her workshop was amazing. She would walk up to a woman in the room and tell her what she needed to grow as a writer. Sometimes the guidance was practical-- create a separate writing space, write an hour every night, etc. Sometimes it was more emotional—you need to face your fears in your work, you need to deal with your mother issues, etc. Then, she walked up to one woman, a woman wearing a crisp buttoned blouse, her hair perfectly combed, every bit of her presence neat and controlled, and she said, “Honey, you need a red dress.” The woman started to cry. She said that she had been so focused on her career as an editor, she had lost sight of her wild side, her passionate side. She said that she would buy a red dress and go dancing as soon as the conference was over.
There is something so powerful--archetypal, really--about a red dress. A red bra. Red shoes. I once bought a pair of red Mary Janes; I just liked them because they were cute, but a friend admiring them said “Red shoes are power shoes. Those are your power shoes.” I liked the idea of that; I wasn't feeling particularly powerful at the time, and the thought gave me a boost. The shoes themselves fell apart after a while, but I find I keep replacing them with other red shoes, looking for that same surge. I practically live in my red Danskos now. Their redness has become muddled over time, but they still have a feisty glow to them. And I made sure to shop for a red dress before my first Self Storage reading.
Two red dresses figure into the novel. My main character Flan's mother is buried in one when she dies; Flan, seven at the time, is enlisted to choose the burial clothes. The red dress that she selects, it turns out, actually belonged to Flan's mom's friend. At the funeral, the friend is shocked to see her own dress in the coffin, but she laughs and says “Well, I did say she could borrow it for as long as she wanted.” I actually cribbed this scene from a friend's mother's funeral, and hadn't thought much about the significance of the red dress as I was writing, but now I love the idea of a red dress being shared among friends, women giving each other that sense of power. Later in the novel, Flan, who wears overalls just about every day, finds a red dress for herself, and it opens up a whole new world of possibility, both inside and outside herself.
Flan's neighbor from Afghanistan, Sodaba, wears a full burqa, and throughout the book, Flan is deeply curious about what is hidden under the dark folds of cloth. She never does discover what Sodaba looks like, what she wears beneath the veil, but I like to think she's hiding a red bra inside, that she's keeping her own passion alive there, burning like a heart." -- Gayle Brandeis, author of Self Storage (Ballantine, 2007)
IMAGE GALLERY: RED IS THE NEW RED.
"I am at war with the obvious." -- William Eggleston
More or less worked straight through the weekend, with a break here and there (for instance: check out William Eggleston in the Real World; it's good company on a Friday night). For myriad reasons, most of them directly correlated to deadlines on professional projects, I'm going to take a two-week mini-break from Lux Lotus. Not you darling, just the blog.
What I'm publicizing right now:
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS MONTH, MAKE IT A GOOD ONE -- Gayle Brandeis' Self Storage (Ballantine Books, 2007): the brilliantly constructed (and much-praised), politically resonant new novel exploring post-9/11 life from the vantage point of an award-winning novelist committed to poetry and activism in equal measure.
SAVE THE DATE -- Green Apple Talk #3: Environmentalism Now explores how far the movement has come since the first Earth Day nearly forty years ago. What will the next wave of green culture look like, and how can the individual decisions consumers make have a global impact? Featuring Emily Gertz, environmental journalist and co-author of WorldChanging: A User's Guide to the 21st Century, Aaron Naparstek, of Transportation Alternatives and StreetsBlog.org and author of Honku: The Zen Antidote to Road Rage, and Anne-Marie Van Dijk (DNA Models), who supports the work of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Orca Network and Natural Resources Defense Council when she's not walking the runway for Marc Jacobs, Dries Van Noten, Aquascutum, Libertine and others. Moderated by best-selling author Bryan Keefer. FREE. (April 24; full info).
I've got two upcoming speaking engagements:
The Virginia Festival of the Book on March 24th and at NYU's Center for Publishing soon after. Not that I can imagine you'd be interested but for those of you who like to play along at home, here's a video excerpt of my talk on innovative literary publicity at Penguin UK in London.
In the more Lux Lotus-esque realm:
Peach in the City is coming to visit for a week and lend a hand while also exploring her options in New York (also on the agenda: "Just Kick It Til It Breaks" at the Kitchen, "Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness" at FIT, plus the opera, twice!). But before that, I've got the "Ides of March Mixer at the Williams Club" to swing by (do I ever wish I'd been able to snap up that "Ann D." horsehair cape at Tokio 7 today!), and The Smart Set to compile.
At Maison de Lux, spring is nearly here: the black pansies have been potted and I have an artistic vision to attend to vis-à-vis my balcony. The soundtrack of the season? Tracy Thorn, Out of the Woods (out from Astralwerks in the U.S. in April). Do check it out.
As you can see, I'll be around, and will post any major news but features such as Windowlicker will be on hiatus for two weeks. I'll be back with the news from Monticello and more on April 2. With love, doves. XX.
Because fashion is where you find it:
"Season One of 'Family Ties' is out on DVD...I started buying LeSportSac a few years back not to emulate Upper West Side women, but because I'd noticed in reruns of the show that it's the brand of bag Mallory keeps the speed pills in when Alex tries to take them off her in one of the 'Very special episodes.'" -- A cup of tea and a wheat penny.
Windowlicker - from the French for window shopping: faire du lèche-vitrine - appears on Tuesday and Thursdays at 10am EST.