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Keeping Virginia blue

VA_canvassersI don’t put a lot of photos of myself up here, but this one was too good to resist. My little family, along with about 30 other like-minded NewYorkers, decamped to Virginia Beach for a few days leading up to the election, to help the Obama campaign get out the vote in the slightly less glamourous cities of Norfolk and Chesapeake.

And it worked!

For five days we went door to door, in neighborhoods that ranged from lovely to desolate, making sure that the President’s supporters had the information, the wherewithall and the motivation they needed to exercise their right to vote.

We spoke to a very blonde, very white woman, all dressed in pink, who told us how happy she was to see Obama supporters “out of the closet” because so many of her peers are voting for the President, but don’t want to advertise that fact. We talked with people about the economy, jobs, women’s rights and the difficulties of returning home after fighting in a war. We made sure that people understood the new ID laws that were put into place, by the way, largely to intimidate the very people we were talking with. We compared notes on raising small children and how to keep turtles alive through the winter. We drank some of the worst coffee and ate some of the best baklava I’ve ever encountered. Didn’t find any transformative soul food joints, but Johnson’s BBQ did the trick in a pinch.

Most of all, we checked out a corner of our country that is very different from the mean streets of Brooklyn, we gave our daughter a priceless lesson in how our democracy works (as well as s few people we talked to) and we participated, which is exactly what the bad guys didn’t want us to do.

And I took a bunch of photos while we were at it, a few of which I have included here for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s one of the walls at Johnson’s BBQ in Norfolk:

VA_obama wallA typical street in the Chesapeake, VA area we frequented:


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Hi Sandy!

Braving the elements during the height of Superstorm Sandy.

Braving the elements during the height of Superstorm Sandy.

Took a walk early this evening just to see what was up down by the river. The wind pushed us back into the apt, but we at least felt the storm on our faces before hunkering down for who knows how long.

We were just riding this carousel last week:



Dream, beautifully

It’s been open for a few months now, and while so many bright shiny new things fade within moments of bursting onto the scene, Beautiful Dreamers, the shop/gallery/hangout/treasure chest/treehouse on Wythe and South 1st in Williamsburg, glows brighter every day.

An enchanted space filled with one of a kind, vintage and other sundry objects culled from founders’ April Hughs and Marina Burini’s wanderings (in their other lives, they are both stylists), the shop is one of those places that is next to impossible to leave empty handed. Yes, these are fairy clothes, my friends, but they are most definitely for grown ups.

From hand sewn leather moccasins to the best lip/hand balm you will ever use, to a beautiful book that you can’t take your nose out of, or that one incredible cotton dress to take you through the season, to ceramic tiles, just take my advice, bring a bag and be prepared to part with some of your money.

I mean, how do you resist anything that you try on in this magical dressing room?

Tons more photos, etc, if you click below…

The singular handcrafted and vintage clothes hang from a rack made of branches, natch. What else would faries shop from?

Candles, teas and tinctures (and other stuff) to increase our sensory experience.

Spoons (and a fork) to ladle out and display some of the aforementioned stuff.

Shoes to wear while cavorting in the forests by moonlight.

Bracelets with which to adorn ourselves… The list goes on and on. This is one of those places that sucks you in and then spits you out, 45 minutes later, somewhat belidered and, more often than not, holding some crazy article in your hand.

But before you march right in, all sensible like, and return it, try putting it on. You might actually begin to see how some of those beautiful dreams become reality.

Beautiful Dreamers, 326 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn; (718) 388-4884

portland is aces

I love Portland, OR.  I really do. I would move there if it didn’t rain so damned much. The people are interesting and engaged and into books and coffee and vintage and local food and making things by hand and music and the outdoors. It’s actually a lot like Brooklyn, which is probably why I fit right in there.

And the campus HQ is the Ace Hotel, where my family and I stayed for a week just recently.

The Ace has everything you need and nothing superfluous. The rooms are simple, but ingeniously designed, very confortable and super affordable. Which makes a big difference when you are staying someplace for 5 or 6 days. Yet nothing about the place says ‘budget’. Even my father, who is the King of airplane upgrades and of booking suites at the fanciest-hotel-in-town, enjoyed his stay here.

The toiletries are from Malin and Goetz, so your hair actually feels good post-shower. There’s a Stumptown coffee joint just to the right of the lobby and Clyde Common, one of Portland’s most delicious eateries is on the left. And they provide room service, which rocks. Please try the fried chick peas if you go there. Please. They are tiny crisp flavorful pieces of heaven.

Oh and there’s also a bonified, old fashioned black and white photo booth in the lobby. That spits out real photos (instead of those digital ones.) And it takes credit cards, so you can painlessly go into debt making all sorts of fun photo projects.

speaking of which, click below for lots more photos…

a few great things:

Room 215 has been transformed into a breakfast room serving up European style breakfast (oatmeal, pasteries, toast, cheese, cured meants, hard boiled eggs, fruit, OJ, coffee, tea,  granola, etc) for $8. Yep, 8 bucks. All you can eat.

The stairs tend to be the way to travel as the raw wood paneled elevator takes it’s time getting to where it’s going.

Our room had a huge b-movie poster up on the wall.

And an ingenious bedside table.

My sister had this very appropriate painting on her wall. She’d probably sleep all day if she had her druthers. Being the mother of a two year old is a cruel joke on her, in this respect.

Evan B. Harris’ intricate and fantastical mural graces the walls between the third and fourth floors.

The hotel business center offers up Mac’s for guest use, a big couch and wingback chair for comfort and a bunch of groovy school supplies (erasers! rubber bands!) perched atop a huge beautiful cabinet.

And for all you typography fans, in each bathroom you will find some verion of the letter A.

Last but not least, a fellow traveller. Just one small detail from the above mentioned stairwell mural. This dude clearly stays at the Ace when he is in Portland.

And so should you.


Sure, tons of people have written about Dumbo’s gloriously renovated Jane’s Carousel. But it took a few spare hours to kill on Christmas day to get my little family down to the waterfront between the bridges to give it a go.

It is now one of our favortie spots on Earth. It is seriously not to be missed.

click below for more photos and info:

First up, the location cannot be beat. The views are spectacular and there is something heroically magical about riding to and fro between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges on a gilded horse like the one below.

And then the renovation, the attention to detail, the beautiful paintings on the side panels, even the wide planked wooden floors are amazing.

So head on down to Brooklyn Bridge Park and check this out. It’s only 2 dollars a ride. And the stunning glass pavilion that houses the carousel (designed by Jean Nouvel) makes the experience impervious to the weather, so no need to wait for a summer day. It is truly one of the city’s best attractions.

And I’m not just saying that because it’s in Brooklyn.

(A little photographic shout out to my bright red holiday shoes!)