Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving Day

This will be my last post on this blog: my flagship website, Lordwhimsy.com, has finally undergone a long-overdue redesign. Thanks to my multi-talented friend Laura at Studio B, my blog--er, blogue--is now the heart of the Whimsy website. Rest assured, the much-beloved tutorials and videos are still available.

The blog entries that I have posted here over the past year have been transferred over to the new Whimsy website. I hope you will all join me at my new forum.

This blog is now consigned to the waves. It is officially a forsaken fragment, a derelict ghostship adrift at sea. Horseman, pass by.

Monday, May 9, 2011

May Doings

Fri. May 20, 7PM: Random Tea Room, Philadelphia
"Lord Whimsy's Wilderness Show-n-Tell"

Author, artist, and gentleman bushwhacker Lord Whimsy will give a casual, conversational presentation about the NJ Pine Barrens, the largest tract of remaining wilderness on the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard. Those interested in learning about the history and ecology of this unique region are encouraged to come. Whimsy will answer all questions while sharing images, sounds, and samples of unusual Pine Barrens species. Whimsy will also help those who are keen on exploring the Pine Barrens to get started on their expeditions. Come out, grab a chair, have some chai, and enjoy the chat.

Fri. May 27: The Coney Island Museum
Cosmorama opening party

I will be serving as host of the grand opening party of the Cosmorama, a 360 degree immersive spectacle in the style of the mighty cycloramas of the 19th Century. The Cosmorama, which depicts the Great Dreamland Fire in amazing detail. The Cosmorama is set to premiere on the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Dreamland, one of Coney Island’s three great parks, which burned to the ground on May 27, 1911.

Performers and curiosities will greet you at every turn! Friends Mike Zohn and Evan Michaelson, of Obscura/Oddities fame, will be our celebrity guests. Come celebrate the centennial of this glorious disaster with us! I am told that admission will be around $20.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Beardless Days

Here's an ancient video that I have finally uploaded onto my own YouTube channel. Looking back, the beard was indeed a wise decision.

These Are The Hits, You Silly Savage!

WFMU has posted the entire album for easy download here.

Glenn O'Brien's New Book

On the train ride home from Glenn O'Brien's book release party at Bergdorf Goodman, I was reading my signed, newly-acquired copy of Glenn's new tome, How To Be A Man.

While scurrying back to the hedgerows like a good country mouse, I had time to study the book. I was flattered by the design details that Glenn and the designers at Rizzoli had picked up from my own book cover and reworked into a new mold.

I am always perplexed why people get upset when others cherry-pick from their work. I'm an incorrigible thief, myself--all the best people are. The point of making things is to become part of the cultural hum, after all.

So where was I? Oh yes: the train. I was reading along at a brisk pace, when I felt something. It was my head: it wouldn't stop nodding. Not from boredom, but in agreement.

The similarities between Glenn's book and my own end at the cover: unlike my hothouse flower of a book, Glenn's is a timely and essential guide for modern men interested in style. It's contemporary, practical, and full of insightful, titillating opinions. The man gets around, and it shows.

Naturally, I first read Glenn's chapter on dandyism, which I am happy to say is excellent (I am being horribly self-serving, since I am quoted in this chapter). Like the rest of the book, this chapter makes its points without anachronistic shtick (I suppose I should feel some guilt for my own part in unleashing this particular plague) or a creepy over-investment in the subject. Glenn lays out the twentyfirst-century iteration of the dandy's creed in a useful way for those of us who don't live on Fraggle Rock or Old Timey Island. I hope that it becomes a key text on the subject.

I'm glad that someone as qualified as Glenn has written this thorough, modern investigation of men's style, because it certainly wasn't going to come from me: I lack the patience to write so sensibly, and these days I've been paying more attention to mosses and centipedes. I not only lack the patience, but the firepower: my budget cannot keep up with the moneyed, glittering bucks of Fifth Avenue, where I am sartorially outdone approximately every thirty seconds (I timed it while waiting outside Bergdorf's for my agent).

That said, the principles in this book are sound, even if you lack the cash (there are ways around impecuniousness, trust me). The main tenets of good style always apply, regardless of your means. In fact, sometimes good style means to avoid the exquisite and the expensive. I'm pretty sure that Glenn, a veteran of New York's wild and woolly 70s-80s downtown art and music scene, would agree wholeheartedly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crickets in the Land of Biff

Weaved through the impossibly beautiful streets of Chestnut Hill to spend the afternoon on the bucolic grounds of the Philadelphia Cricket Club, where many a damn, damn fine Mimosa met with its doom. Urp.

Although I find anglophilia to be among the most trite and objectionable of all upper middle-class American affectations, I am fascinated with cricket. And in Philly, cricket actually has a real history, with a small but avid following. Generations of well-to-do Philadelphians have played the game. In some families, it has become a tradition.

Cricket, with its handsome accoutrements, restful settings, and soothing rhythms, is a delightfully boring game. Like fishing, it provides the perfect excuse for civilized loitering and brunches that go on for eons. Emily Dickinson might have even been tempted to attend a match, what with all the "centuries of June" on offer.

According to my friend Bernie (who showed up today in a pith helmet and white linen suit, bless him), cricket was especially popular in Philadelphia up until the 1920's, when baseball finally surpassed it. In most parts of the former British Empire, it is a game played by toffs and street urchins alike; here in The States, however, it remains as closely associated with The Upper Crust as polo. Even though today's match was free and open to the public, I nevertheless got the impression that this perception is not entirely discouraged. I'd wager that not very many hockey arenas have Federal-style facades and pretty Flemish bond masonry.

The Philadelphia Cricket Club is the oldest in the United States, founded in 1854. For three decades after its founding, the Philadelphia Cricket Club lacked its own home pitch, and so had to travel the region where other teams and clubs could provide a place to play. Its glorious, screaming club colors--crimson, gold, and black--were borrowed from a famous British team, the Zingari, who also lacked a home pitch. Appropriately, the Zingari colors were inspired by a tribe of wandering gypsies of the same name. I saw several handsome club blazers today, but I really liked the brash swagger of the Philly Club's colors. There's something endearingly Philadelphian about them, as in "Up yours, Biff." Or perhaps, "Up yours--I'm frigging Biff."

Even though I frequently find myself in blue-blooded settings like these (Princeton is thirty minutes up the road), I often--gratefully--feel like a piece of riff-raff who has managed to slip inside the palace for a peek at how the upper one percent lives. I suppose the childish illusion of having gotten away with something is part of the appeal for me: chatting up and charming some filthy rich broad at the bar while ordering a Bloody Mary never loses its kick for some silly reason. (Frankly, I'm reluctant to delve too far into the whys and wherefores of my own impulses: the reasons often point to some unflattering trait, if not several.)

Another likely draw of such rarefied environs is their lasting novelty: they often remain as exotic and alien to me as they were when I first visited them. I can never shake the disorientation, the feeling of having fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole into a world as fictional as a Ralph Lauren ad. There's a narrative being sustained; I often have to stifle a chuckle when I see the denizens of the Land of Biff who are obviously playing into this collective fantasy. Perhaps for those who live in that world, it isn't a fantasy at all--and perhaps consensus itself makes the unreal, real. Perhaps as a mere visitor, I am the unreal one, the passing specter. Fair enough, but for me enclaves like these will always remain tantalizing mirages. I'm the worst sort of escapist, but despite such leanings my plebian mind is incapable of kidding itself from that particular angle.

I know I'm supposed to shake my fist at the entitlement, pretension, and snobbery of such places. As a hopeless prole, I sympathize with such egalitarian sentiments; but to be perfectly honest, I'd hate to live in a world where strange, lovely places like cricket clubs, cathedrals, and conservatories didn't exist. An argument can be made that entitlement, pretension, and snobbery are the means by which these pockets of divergent norms sustain themselves: they set the standards and keep the rules clear. If you can remain detached and ignore some of these ugly forces that maintain such places, you can glide through and have a pleasant time.

(But then, you might actually have morals, you poor devil. Guess you won't be finishing that Mimosa, then?)

I'm glad to live in a region of cultural ferment where I can visit these serene oases of ease and comfort. Regardless of how they came to be, many of these places now offer much-needed respite from the aggressive stupidity and social squalor of this lousy era. To engage in a pastime that doesn't involve codified aggression, ungodly noise, or some form of internal combustion is becoming an increasingly alien concept to Americans.

Of course, I could never pass for a permanent resident of The Land of Biff, nor would I want to. That said, I wouldn't mind one of those blazers.

Pitcher Plant Bloom Bouquet

At Rarefind Nursery, Sarracenia blooms...

...become unusual bouquets.