Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gone Fishin'


This is a rough but perfect kitchen on a retired fishing boat. I forgot how much I love marinas. The names of boats, the 'gone fishin' relaxed vibe and the sweet smell of fishy-salty-gasoline mixed with a cool breeze. I often say I think I was a fish in my past life because I'm addicted to the ocean. But maybe I was a fisherman.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In vino veritas

"In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas". In wine there is truth, in water there is health. I agree.  And want lots of both.

Lately I have been trying to figure out my ideal lifestyle. Being from Vancouver I love the outdoors, yoga, comfy sandals, down-to-earth and laid-back people. But I find the Lululemon culture, which is synonymous with the Vancouver-health-nut-lifestyle, feels great physically, and makes me feel safe, positive and grounded, but the routine turns into no-fun-city pretty fast.

This is why I have a love affair with European metropolitan city life. I fled to London a couple years ago and dove head first into London life. It felt like a whole new world. It's a place that doesn't stop moving, shocking and impressing me and it feels like anything is possible there. Similar things are said about New York, that anything can happen and that you can be whoever you want to be there. There are a lot of people out there "faking it until they make it" but not in a negative way....they are living a different life than they could anywhere else.  It makes for some very interesting characters.

So being back in Vancouver has put everything back into perspective for me again. But now I know I need a piece of both lifestyles in my life.

I've decided that the two lifestyles are not mutually exclusive, and I can drink both my water and my wine. My latest idea is to create a health conscious, grounded world in Paris, France where they have a healthy attitude towards food and drink, appreciate the joy of living, and has the sophistication that only a grown up city can have. Yoga, learning, beautiful design, holistic practices, real ingredients, positive energy and people...

Images from top: Tadao Ando Museum, Venice with paintings by Rudolf Stigel; Aesop store; Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2010.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Supertramp, by Lehman B, London, UK - "Inspired by a more minimal, fluid and socially aware approach to future living, the project seeks to promote and inspire leaner, more livable life forms. Exploring the practicality of microsized living and urban downshifting - Supertramp wagon will act as my permanent mobile home, while doubling as an agency and social-facility point as well." 

I'm finding it hard to find words to explain how great I think Jacob's new venture is.

My first day of work at The Future Laboratory, Jacob bounced over with his long blond hair, wide blue eyes and charming Scandinavian grin and began to show me the ropes at the lab. He always had such a fascinating perspective from the science/architecture/design world that I just ate up.  I learned bucket-loads from him. On the occasional lunch out of the office to the luxurious Waitrose grocery store,  he told me about his sailing trips at home in Denmark, and how like me, he missed the freedom of living somewhere with space, a slower pace of life, and enjoying the good life.

I had the feeling that he wanted to escape the London urban lifestyle and jump on a boat and sail around the world. And not just that he wanted to, but that he was close to making a drastic change in lifestyle. So when I got the email about Lehman B, a "do-tank", and the first project called Supertramp, I was ecstatic.  Lehman B is "based on the belief that the best way to embrace the opportunities the future holds is by living them and doing them."

 I still haven't figured out if Lehman B is a one man show, or if it's a team thing...all I know is that right now, Jacob is roaming around London, living in this beautifully designed bike wagon, holding workshops and discussions about design, the future, microsize living, urban flowmads, downshifting...and well lots of innovative and different ideas. I remember how obsessed he was with micro homes and caravans, and now he combined a million of his good ideas into one project called Supertramp. Congrats Jacob. You're my hero! To "doing", instead of saying, thinking and longing.

Check out Lehman B website for live map of his progress and details about what a "do-tank" does. Below is a shot of the interior of the Supertramp wagon. Merveilleux!

Above exterior, below interior of 'Supertramp' by Lehman B. Photography by Felicity Crawshaw

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lets Talk About Spirituality, Baby.

 So I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to a session with my summer roommate, Sara Mullin, who is an alternative healer. 

I didn't have many expectations going into it. I'm a fan of acupuncture, I've had a positive experience with a homeopath and I think reiki sounds really neat. And that is about the extent of my alternative healing solutions. Unless you think of yoga as alternative?

Anyways, I didn't ask Sara about what kind of therapy she does. But all the different training she has been doing over the years sounded really interesting. So I walked into it blind.

Her studio is a small comfortable room on the second floor at Main and 28th. The first thing I noticed was the beautiful batik fabric covering the massage/reiki table. And on top of that was a wood bowl filled with different stones, some vials, and about 8 different colours of sunglasses lined up. The frames and the lenses were tinted bright blue, red, orange...all the colours of the rainbow. Then there was a chart explaining more about Dr Darren Weissman's Lifeline Technique, and some other metal instruments wrapped in fabric that I could not identify.

I told Sara of a few of my physical and emotional ailments, and then we began. With some light touch, hand motions and verbal cues we got to a place that had a different energy.  The hour flew by with  some reflection, verbal reiteration, a few tears, a stone, some aromatherapy, a metal tool, some blue sunglasses and a couple of moments running on the spot (which somehow felt amazing). 

After I felt physically good and uplifted and my foot that has been bugging me felt noticeably better. She got me to think about feelings and images that I would not have thought of otherwise that I have reflected on since. And we didn't even talk that much....just a few words here and there that I recall. Trés interesant, oui?

I've only had one session, but Sara's practice seems to me to be tapping into a growing need for accessible, yet different therapy. You don't have to be spiritual or into alternative practices to go, and it made me think and feel 'out of the box'.  It combines some more widely accepted therapy such as positive thinking (bottled and sold as "The Secret") and combined a variety of interesting holistic/spiritual therapy.

I'm looking forward to my next session with Sara. I think she is right on the mark with her business. With austerity and authenticity at the forefront of popularity, more people are looking to add depth to themselves, rather than adding to their wallets and wardrobes.  'Self-help' is a dirty word, but the idea of making your life better than it is by adding dimensions and depth doesn't seem pathetic at all.

That said, there certainly seems to be another lost generation lingering about these days.  But maybe like the Beat generation, this lost generation will also end up being renown for their journey and be both super-spiritual and super-high tech. That sounds kind of neat to me.

"It's a kind of furtiveness... Like we were a generation of furtives. You know, with an inner knowledge...a kind of beatness... and a weariness with all the forms, all the conventions of the world... So I guess you might say we're a 'Beat Generation' - Jack Kerouac

"Beatitude" - the necessary beatness or darkness that precedes opening up to light, egolessness, giving room for religious illumination.

Images from top: Cool Blast, by Adolph Gottlieb, 1960 ;
Untitled, Carlo Villa, 1962.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Space Lab

One of my favorite places to hang out is Space Lab on 1847 Main Street and 3rd Ave East. It's the new kid on the block of Vancouver's Main Street vintage furniture stores. It was started by Clint Moroz whose personal collection of books, art, doodads and beautiful-things with a story, became too much for his home. So a hobby became a store.

I like to hang out and read the books and poke fun at Clint for how chaotic and dangerous the store is. (Today I was almost speared on a stray antler). I usually drop a thing or two by accident, meet a few interesting people, rearrange a table and sip the specialty beers that somehow seem to appear at the end of the day. It actually relates to my post about Raw Canvas and the need for more casual cultural spaces. I always learn about things I didn't know I had an interest in.

Clint's eclectic yet discerning selection of books, furniture and things have something beyond a designer name, or an 'artist collaboration', or super on-trend appeal. It's a selection of things that he likes, and finds interesting, and is more than happy to get into discussion about why it's important or interesting, quirky or classic. The space is somewhere to spend time, learn, be social, and shop of course.

For example, so far, I purchased a book on 20th Century Italian Design, and the "Underground Revolution of the Hippie, Yippees and Others", and some 50's porn for a gift. Yes actually a gift. In fact 50's porn is quite tame really.

Here are some a few more pics of Space Lab. If you go there tomorrow everything will be in a different place... gem upon gem, waiting to be discovered, discussed, dropped, polished, admired, home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spirituality, the last taboo of the 21st Century

Spirituality, seems to me, to be on the tips of our tongues. People seem interested in exploring it, but it is still a tad taboo. In the 60's it was out in the open like never before. The hippies talked so much about it that it became cliché and now epitomizes the era. Well that and the drugs, protests, free love, and the like. The idea of getting more out of life through alternative means was at the center of popular culture and very à la mode. Over the past year or so we've been nudged to slim down our lives to the essentials by re-evaluating possessions, priorities, and lifestyles. This is why I feel the 60's are such an intriguing era right now.

I just read "The Underground Revolution: The Hippies Yippies and Others" which was written in 1970 by Naomi Feigelson. It's all about the 60's and how the underground revolution became so influential. I like it because it's told in the past tense, but written right after it happened. It's interesting hearing about the innovators/ eccentrics/ hippies/ crazies/revolutionaries making headlines in The New York Times as the movements progressed from the underground, popular culture, politics and even religion.

The chapter about the popularity of spirituality and pop culture was really interesting. I learned that the commercial viability of the eastern spirituality in the western world, or "whole Indian love cult",  came to a decline in the late 60's when the elitism and materialism of the trend outweighed the spiritual experiences. Even Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's offerings fell short. "They wanted to believe, and he gave them nothing to belive in." was said of the guru of new religious movement called the Transcendental Meditation movement. Maharishi had the following of the Beatles, The Doors, Mia Farrow, the Rolling Stones and thousands. But in May 1968 in New York, the Beatles confessed in a press conference that they meditated now and then, but that they had "made a mistake on Maharishi." After all, said John Lennon, "We're only humans." (The Underground Revolution, Feigelson, pg 59)

So what I'm finding most fascinating about this books is the surprising number of similarities between the ideas of the hippies, yippies and underground movements in the 60's and to the ideas in the air right now. It's been a good half century, and I think spirituality is coming back to the forefront of popular culture.

This post is getting too long, so I'm going to leave it there with some pretty nostalgic pictures and get back to it after my alternative healing session this afternoon. Today I have a session with Sara, my new room mate. She's a practitioner of a holistic healing technique called LifeLine Technique which she learned from a doctor in Chicago. I feel I have some healing to do in mind, body and maybe even in soul. So I'm really looking forward to it. Shortly I'm going to walk a bit further down Main Street to her studio to get an alternative form of healing to my useual jogging, yoga, physio and wine-therapy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yuppie + Hipster = Yupster

Hybrid spaces for socializing while creating art are popping up left, right and center. I like the idea of a philosopher's lounge. A bar or lounge encouraging strangers to interact and discuss ideas instead of peering at each other over loud music.

Of course community groups and organizations hold events for this purpose, but they're often geared towards people already involved with the topic and aren't necessarily in a 'hip' and casual space. So now that more people are looking to expand their cultural and creative activities in their day to day lives, I think there's a growing need for culture/art/history/theater/book bars that are accessible to everyone. For example, if you don't know much about philosophy, you can still pop by the "philosophers lounge", have a drink and partake in cultural discussions or activities. Then move onto the next bar, and maybe do a little painting.

For example, you could stop by the restaurant called "Raw Canvas" in Yale Town, Vancouver. Their slogan is "Art + Social" and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Easels are set up so you can move seamlessly from eating to painting while sipping wine and cocktails along the way. The Yale Town yuppie type (small dog in right hand, designer purse in left) is adding the glamor to Hipster-ish activities. In the same way that yuppies have embraced and glamorized the yoga lifestyle in Vancouver, the 'hipster' culture is being gentrified and glamorized. Yupsters anybody? (Yuppie + Hipster = Yupster).

The School of Life is a really neat company in the business of selling culture and self improvement in London. Someone should start one in Vancouver. I always hear people complaining about how hard it is to meet people here, and the health-conscious city would eat up the life enhancement courses.

So anyways, I checked out 'Raw Canvas' the other night. It was packed with the Yale Town pre-drinking crowd that was getting ready to go out on the town. Underneath their painting smocks and coveralls were little black dresses, high heels, and dressy bar attire. Now on a night out in Yale Town you can pick up a mate and a new painting. Now that's a productive Saturday night.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Aint Painting a Pain" - Richard Jackson

Yesterday I attended a tour of the Rennie Collection in the Wing Sang Building in Gastown, Vancouver. Bob Rennie owns the third largest collection of contemporary art in Canada, so it's great that he's sharing it with us. The exhibition on display was full of fun and colourful surprises.

One thing the tour guide pointed out was that Jackson didn't want people to read too much into the work. The concept for the bears peeing in urinals came about when Jackson noticed that urinals look like bear heads. (Some of the urinals are bear heads, and some of the bear heads are urinals.) When they were at the MoMA real paint was squirting from the champagne bottle shaped bear penises.

The works vary greatly but all have the common theme of paint. And not in the traditional sense, but in an experimental way that shows the tactility and velocity of paint. He uses different methods of letting paint drip into place on sculptures, smear onto walls and funnel through various contraptions to make organic yet strategically placed pools of paint.

He also painted a massive canvas with BB gun pointillism, and piled 1000 canvases on top of each other with paint gluing them together. (See image below of "Big Ideas - 1,000 Pictures"). The later seems to be a message about the repetition of artists painting the same thing over and over on canvases. Not something Jackson practices. The round colourful paint smudges are directly on the walls, and will probably be destroyed when the exhibition is over. But that's okay with Jackson because it's "about the process" explained the tour guide.

The roof top patio is great. I can picture a great cocktail party with art aficionados, eccentrics with orange suits and plenty of gin martinis.  I also liked Thomas Houseago's sculpture ('Untitled Striding Figure' below) and the wavy psychedelic glass wall by Dan Graham overlooking China Town. The last photo isn't a double exposure but a weird reflection from Graham's structure.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I just got back from East Side Yoga, the studio on The Drive co-owned by my dear friend Julie Peters. I met Julie when I was in kindergarten in San Diego. We shared precious moments holding our breath in the pool, comparing bruises, and running around our gated apartment block. Recently, Julie has found her calling as a yoga instructor and business owner. I've enjoyed yoga for a long time, but never as much as at her classes.

Julie, who is also a slam poet, also inspires me outside of yoga.  This is one of her performances that really struck a cord with me - partly because I have a real life stutter, but also for the unapologetic message. Julie, you rock.

So today was another great class at East Side. Julie and her beau Robert and I went to my new favorite place on Commercial Drive for food - The Controversial Kitchen. The sister of the restaurant The Ethical Kitchen serves locally produced 100% grass fed meat and organic veg compiled with lots of love. Today I declared that I would go to Julie's yoga class and eat at the Controversial Kitchen everyday if I could.

Below is a great photo of Charles, Robert and another student looking radiant after class. Julie guides us through her classes with positive words and energy that make me feel so darn good physically and mentally. And not in a flowery way, but in a real, accessible way. Chris also teaches a class for boys called Yoga for Bros. So if you're a boy or a girl, I highly recommend you venture to East Van for yoga and a fantastic meal. Namaste. As they say.

Pictures from top: Julie and Robert outside East Side Yoga;  Robert practicing his inversions; and Robert, Charles and a happy student.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Right-side-down or down-side-up

"I love it when you ask actors, 'what're you doing now' and they say. 'I'm between roles'. To be living 'life between roles,' that is my favorite."  - Andy Warhol

"I think it would be so great if more people took up silk screening, so that no one would know whether my picture was mine or somebody else." - Andy Warhol

 (Decades later, luxury brands are still trying to fight fakes. )

Recently I wrote a post about Malcolm McLaren and his motto of being a flamboyant failure rather than a benign success. I think he's great. But ten-upping him is Warhol. He seemed to live with the attitude that he would be both flamboyant, and a success.  Some of his ideas remind me of the upside down logic in Alice in Wonderland. Or right-side-up, depending on your perspective. I just read "I bought Andy Warhol", a book about an art dealer's adventure through Warhol's time. I'm now absolutely fascinated by contemporary art dealing, the art tumble, and the glamour and un-glamour of it all. 

And, I think art purchasing is making a comeback. People are appreciating art for art's sake along with the artisan, connoisseurship and getting back to the details. Therefore people will again want to invest in art. It's a financial investment doubling as wall-candy.  I would like to get involved with representing artists. Maybe through a gallery. 

I've been volunteering at the Vancouver Art Gallery to get an inside perspective and it's been interesting so far. One event I was involved with was a traditional masquerade party. All the art (except for Leo da Vinci's sketches) was taken down in the gallery, and the three floors were completely revamped. There were Cirque du Soleil performers, amazing cuisine, a live auction, and the whole works. The venue looked great and was set up for success. But the 300 guests didn't nearly fill the space and only about a quarter of them put effort into their costumes. The potential of the event, compared to the outcome, was depressing.

It seems to me the people controlling the Vancouver city scene are the people in property. Not a particularly artsy crowd. (Like London's bankers, Vancouver has the property flippers). I'm going to Bob Rennie/Condo King's private gallery this week. Here is someone with bucket loads of money doing something artsy and interesting. We need more of that. Vancouver could take some tips from Warhol, do a headstand and look at things a little differently. 

Top to bottom: Banana, Cowboys and Indians: Annie Oakley, Endangered Species: Black Rhinoceros, Truck, Halley Mae, and a self portrait by Andy Warhol. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A tabby cat, a dirndl, two mannequins and a low table

Photo by Bruce Buck for the New York Times.

When I lived at the end of Queen Street West in Toronto with my lesbian film student roommate, we didn't have any normal chairs in the house. Alex explained when I first moved in how it just felt better being closer to the ground. The diner table was dark wood like this one with wicker squatting cushions. As a posture conscious person I was skeptical at first. But pretty quickly I loved it. It was a small square table so group dinners felt really intimate.

Since there wasn't a couch or anywhere else to sit, each morning Alex and I would get comfy on the kitchen counter top and wait for the coffee to brew. We then sat there having 'counter talk' until the pot was done. We talked about boys, and girls, and everything in between.

Alexandra was mid 30's at the time and had an amazing partner, Rosie, who I also loved. They were like two mom/sister/freinds to me. Rosie taught me how to cook her Italian grandma's vegetarian lasagna that has peas and sliced hard-boiled eggs in it, and took me for rides on her 'aubergine' coloured Vespa. Alex proposed to Rosie while I lived there through a silent film which I helped her make. I learned a lot about girl girl couple complexities like gay girls as friends and the various situations that arise.

There were two entangled naked mannequins in a corner of the apartment, a tabby cat and a signed photo of the 80's singer who sang "Black Velvet".  I hadn't heard of her but it she was a one-hit wonder Alex loved.

Those were great days. I was single, doing costume design for film, working at a Bavarian Beer Stube where I had to wear a dirndl, and in my last year of university.  Funny. So anyways, my conclusion is that people who have low tables without chairs are great. I like the look of this home for multiple reasons. So much space to do cartwheels and stretch and paint and leave piles of clothes. Let's put it in Paris and sign me up.

Oh I found a photo of that flat! The table was right in front of the mannequins.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Les chemises d' hommes


Photo from old edition of Velvet Via Cafe Mode

I love Géraldine's post about men's dress shirts on ladies. It's nice to see attention drawn to a style that isn't claiming to be new or a twist on something old. It's classic and perfect. And this photo she found is great. The 90's, Demi Moore, androgynous power dressing, breasts, chains and crosses. Parfait.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"It's better to be a flamboyant failure than a benign success"

Top to bottom -  Westwood and McLaren, SEX Kings Road shop, God Save the Queen #1 in 1977, McLaren fifth from left with Sex Pistols 1976. 

Malcolm McLaren lived by motto "It's better to be a flamboyant failure than a benign success". I first read about him in Vivienne Westwood's biography, and like Westwood, I have been fascinated by him ever since. The two of them started the 'SEX' shop on The Kings Road in London and dressed the Sex Pistols in bondage gear which would go on to shape British punk culture. Johnny Rotten is credited in being the first British punk to rip his shirt, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Viscous as the first to use safety pins. Details about McLaren's career in music are detailed by the BBC here

McLaren passed away last week at the age of 64. I'm looking forward to reading more about his life and legacies and watch his family continue to influence popular culture. McLaren and Westwood's son, Joe Corre, co-founded Agent Provocateur and has recently moved into menswear with a 'Child of the Jago' in Shoreditch, London. I visited the store before I left London and it definitely has a mysterious, unconventional vibe. It hasn't become hugely successful yet, but I'm sure it will take off sooner than later. The family has a knack for trend spotting, creating unconventional businesses with cult followings, and turning them into a commercial success. And they always seem to achieve it in a mischievous, flamboyant manner.  

Friday, April 2, 2010

Playing Horse

This is Maiga riding Marina. I've had a restrained love for horses ever since I was little. In my key-and-lock diary from when I was little I wrote a "what I want to be when I'm older" list. It reads - photographer, fashion designer or horse back riding instructor. I think the 'instructor' part was me trying to be practical. So a job playing with horses was naturally an instructor.

I rode for a while when I was young but broke my arm falling off and never really got back into it. Over the years I've made feeble attempts of riding again with the odd lesson or trail ride here and there. But mostly I fantasize about riding horses through the outback and almost drive off the road every time I drive past horses in a field. But that's it.

So I jumped at the opportunity when Maiga invited me along to hang out with her and Marina. Or actually maybe I invited myself. Anyways, she was sweet enough to let me tag along on her morning ride.  I had no idea there were stables right in Vancouver! But there are a whole bunch of barns and a large riding community right off SW Marine Drive!

It was so fun just being there. The smell of hay, horse and leather...the mud and cold air....and all  passionate riders at the stables. I took a picture of Marina's saddle. It's just so gorgeous with the worn layers of stained leather. Oh and the boots. Real riding boots. I want some to ride in...and to wear everyday. Stylish and practical? Yes. Hygienic. No.

I'm going to try to fit in some lessons in in the near future! I can't wait to play horse some more. Thank you Maiga!