Archive for BOOK REVIEWS
Book Review: ROGUES’ GALLERY The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum By Michael Gross via [nyt]
Michael Gross, a journalist and best-selling author, organizes “Rogues’ Gallery,” his tirelessly detailed and gossipy history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, not around its more than two million artworks — many gouged from tombs, many magnanimously donated; many venerated by humanity, many coveted by jealous curators — but around the handful of men (and rare women) who have run what may be America’s pre-eminent cultural institution. The Met’s gatekeepers are the “rogues” of the book’s title.
The museum’s directors (there have been nine since its inception), its curators and board members, and the moneybags who have donated important collections together form a blockbuster exhibition of human achievements and flaws. Gross maintains that the place has bred in its stewards “arrogance, hauteur, hubris, vanity and even madness.”
The urban planner Robert Moses — “a 20th-century czar of the city,” as Gross puts it — was aware of the problem. In the late 1930s, he pushed the elitist museum to be more democratic, entertaining and responsive to the community. But proximity to treasure, the author suggests, is a potent narcotic, and the Met has always attracted — and magnified — big egos (many having lived within a few blocks of one another on the Upper East Side).
Luigi Palma di Cesnola became the Met’s first director in 1879. This former soldier of fortune had a provenance as dubious as some of the collections he presided over. In 1865,trading on a wispy connection to the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln, he managed to be named United States consul to Cyprus, and there, smelling opportunity, started digging up tombs. Within a few years he had 12,000 objects, many of which he later installed at the Met.
Cesnola revealed his contempt for the public during a debate about opening the young museum on Sundays to accommodate the city’s working folk. Calling them “loafers” and “scum,” he declared the idea unthinkable, envisioning visitors who would “peel bananas, eat lunches, even spit” in the museum.
Gross, whose previous books include “Model” and “740 Park,” has a quiverful of damning items about his subjects. The Met president J. P. Morgan became paranoid and delusional toward the end of his life; William Ivins, acting director of the museum in 1938, had an “absolutely ungovernable” temper, according to his assistant, and was nicknamed Ivins the Terrible; Arthur Houghton, the president from 1964 to 1969, was “a serial marrier whose new wife was always younger than his last.”
In a typical revelation, Thomas Hoving, the museum’s charismatic director from 1967 to 1977, recalls a conversation he had with Robert Lehman, who would become the Met’s first chairman. Hoving says that when he suggested a Jewish financier for the board, Lehman, who was himself Jewish, objected to the nominee and went on to explain to Hoving the difference between “the Episcopalian Jews” and what he coarsely deemed the less desirable sort. (The author reports that Lehman’s son questions Hoving’s reliability on this matter.)
Hoving — who, unlike those who have recently run the museum, cooperated with Gross — is central to many of the book’s most pungent passages. In one, he calls Nelson Rockefeller “a cheap grifter.” In another, he recounts his delicate dealings with what was known as Culture Gulch, the culture desk of The New York Times. (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, chairman emeritus of The New York Times Company, served as chairman of the museum from 1987 to 1998.)
The philanthropists and former Met trustees Charlie and Jayne Wrightsman make for a rich source of material, including pages of Vanity Fair-worthy name-dropping and social climbing. In a passage that may be as snobbish as the museum is reputed to be, Gross says that Charlie Wrightsman hired tutors to teach his wife not only table manners and French but also “proper English.”
Certainly, the Met has been used to launder reputations and fortunes, and in turn has used its supporters. But in this telling, sadly, its magnificent art is buried in lurid details.
Perfumes – The Guide
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful–as well as some truly terrible–perfumes. In Perfumes: The Guide, they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in Perfumes not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.
Perfumes features introductions to women’s and men’s fragrances and an informative “”frequently asked questions”” section including:
Perfumes: The Guide is an authoritative, one-of-a-kind book that will do for fragrance what Robert Parker’s books have done for wine. Beautifully designed and elegantly illustrated, this book will be the perfect gift for collectors and anyone who’s ever had an interest in the fascinating subject of perfume.
Adore or odour?
Chanel No 5
Chanel Pour Monsieur
AND THE WORST…
Creed’s Love in White
Some of these five-star landmarks definitively changed the history of perfume, and some stand the test of time because they continue to smell fantastic, decade after decade.
By Tania Sanchez
Mitsouko by Guerlain (1919) Dark, rich, and exquisitely beautiful.
Habit Rouge by Guerlain (1965) A soft and rasping scent, like stubble on a handsome cheek.
L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) Guerlain at its best; a wearable praline.
Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977) The most distinctive spicy oriental ever.
Pleasures by Estée Lauder (1995) This antidote to the loud fragrances of the 1980s; smells fresh out of the bath.
Shalimar by Guerlain (1925) The perfect little black cocktail dress, translated into fragrance.
Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992) A huge, brassy belly laugh of a scent.
Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933) This is what quality smells like.
White Linen by Estée Lauder (1978) The smell of snow in sunshine.
We rank fragrances, giving five stars to masterpieces, four stars to excellent fragrances, three stars to solid, yet uninspiring ones, two stars to disappointing scents, and one star to fragrances so vile they insult the smeller. And we call them like we smell them. One startled PR assistant asked coauthor Luca Turin, after he requested an actual perfume and not just press releases, “What will your opinion rest on?” He answered, “A triangular appendage in the middle of my face—called the nose.”
By Lucia Turin and Tania Sanchez
- Badgley Mischka
- Gorgeous Fruity
- The first thing I noticed was a big, breathtaking fruity top note, which I promptly forgot about, since what doesn’t have a big fruity top note these days? The second time, I was floored by the lushness and freshness, reminding me of ripe fruit before everything goes to brandy—peaches, mangoes, lychees, pineapples. Like church bells on Easter morning, this is simple and perfect and sure. It’s like a novel in which the hero discovers that his friend is the most beautiful girl in the room, and only familiarity prevented him from seeing it was time to face the facts: It’s love.
- Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder
- Symphonic Floral
- What is so impressive about Beyond Paradise’s masterful portrait of a fresh, fictional, ideal tropical flower is that the image holds steady for hours. It takes a lot of work to make something this accomplished appear this easy. Lovers of exotic beach-fantasy florals put out by niche firms should pick up the weird sci-fi rainbow nipple bottle at the Lauder counter and give it an honest try.
- Calyx by Prescriptives
- Guava Rose
- Calyx maintains a perfect balance between clean crispness and rosy sweetness without ever falling into either camp completely. For a scent of the ’80s—1986, to be exact—Calyx also manages to smell incredibly fresh and modern. This scent helped inspire the next generation of fruity, clean florals, although none have really improved on it. It’s one of those rare fragrances you could wear your whole life.
- Chinatown by Bond N.Y.C. No. 9
- Gourmand Chypre
- The plucky Bond No. 9 has produced its masterpiece. Chinatown is one of those fragrances that smells immediately, compellingly, and irresistibly great. It’s both oddly familiar and surprising. Some people find it too sweet. To my nose it smells like a corner of a small French grocery in summer, in the exact spot where the smell of floor wax meets that of ripe peaches. A treasure in a beautiful bottle.
- Lolita Lempicka by Thierry Mugler
- Herbal Angel
- With most of the many fragrances inspired by Thierry Mugler Angel, the first thing you think on smelling them is: Hello, Angel. Not this time. Lolita Lempicka keeps the sweet, woody stuff but skips the push-up bra. The fragrance is snappy and smart, the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses. It’s also a clever feminine that clever men can wear. I once got on a subway just as a pretty young man stepped off in a cloud of it. Bonus: darling bottle.
- Kaleidoscopic Floral
- I have no idea whether this perfume will still be around in ten years, but I will make sure I have enough of it to last me a lifetime. Missoni is one of the most accomplished fragrances to be created in years. The fragrance alters as it dries on the skin; it’s beautifully modulated, and then it has a luminous, almost minty accord. The subsequent effect is a perfume that feels very much alive, somehow composing itself as it goes along. Most other perfumes are rapidly fading photographs; this one is a movie.
- Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger
- Tea Floral
- No fragrance in recent memory has suffered more from being affordable than Tommy Girl. It’s as if it were deemed less desirable for being promiscuous. Tommy Girl’s origins were explained by its creator Calice Becker, who asked a chemist to sample the air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris to figure out what gave it its unique fragrance. To this tea base an exhilarating floral accord, traje de luces, was added to form Tommy Girl. Hilfiger’s public relations team asked Becker for a reason to label the fragrance as typically American. A botany expert was called in, and, to everyone’s surprise, the composition fell neatly into several native American varieties of flowers.
- Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, copyright ©2008 by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.
originally posted by Zabeth
In her book French Women Don’t Sleep Alone Jamie Cat Callan outlines the romantic secrets of French women that have intrigued and captivated men (and some women) for decades. Callan unlocks the secrets that have made French women so alluring.I did find the advice offered in this book to be good; however, it’s the same advice you’d find in The Rules. Both books concur that women should not chase men, that they should play hard to get and, not make themselves too easily available. That’s nothing new or revolutionary. Also when reading this book there are some obvious caveats that you should take into consideration. First, French men are not American men and French culture is not American culture so, not everything will “translate”
so to speak. Second, the French live in a much smaller much more intimate country; therefore, their “rules of the game” will be different from our own.
I also don’t like the notion of European cultural superiority and the idea that Europe does things better than America, or that Americans need to learn something from Europeans. As a proud “can do” American I do get a bit defensive about that. Nonetheless there are many things in this book that American women can learn from French women:
Instead of going online or to a club/bar try throwing a dinner party.
French women don’t meet men online or in bars. Instead they meet men through their existing social circle or “coterie.” Try throwing a dinner party at your home and have each guest bring one or two guests. This broadens your social circle and will give you a chance to get intimately acquainted with the people in your inner circle. Your friends and acquaintances will get to see you in a different light too- dinner parties give you a chance to show off your intellect and your cooking and conversation skills. There’s also an air of competition. When you’re online men already know you are available; when you meet at a dinner party they won’t and thus can’t take you for granted. They’ll also take note of other potential suitors.
Go for a walk.
Instead of going to a restaurant on a first date and confining yourself to that one person for 2 hours, go on a walk or a bicycle ride. This eliminates the quid-pro-quo where because the man is paying for something he feels entitled and you (may) feel obligated. Also when you’re out and about walking through town looking and smelling good other men will notice you…and don’t think your date won’t notice that. For the times when you don’t have a date, fill in the time by doing something else out and about in the world where you can be visible to the opposite sex.
Dare to be feminine.
There’s nothing wrong with being a woman and embracing your femininity. American women have had this beaten out of them for the past 40 years. French women on the other hand love being women and they don’t turn their sensuality on and off- it’s just always on. Second, French women don’t hide their intelligence. In fact they like to look brainy and appear intellectual. Intelligence isn’t a masculine trait and, real men know that smart is sexy.
Take care of your body.
French women put themselves first. Putting yourself first means taking care of your body both physically and emotionally. This is something we as BW especially, often neglect to do. Always know you’re beautiful and be happy with who you are. Exercise. Eat quality, nutritious food. Take good care of your skin. In other words, don’t neglect yourself.
The myth of the French Mistress.
Contrary to popular belief, adultery is not as tolerated in France as some people (men) would like to believe. Nor are French women as tolerant of a husband’s indiscretions as we are sometimes led to believe. Let’s also not ignore the fact that women are just as capable of being unfaithful. Affairs do happen in France but it’s really not much different than in the U.S.
Overall I’d give this book 2 and ½ stars out of 5. Callan often repeats herself- really just re-wording points she’s already made- throughout the book. However, I found it to be a cute and fast paced read that offered interesting advice and insight into another culture.
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One: Open Your Eyes
We’re all almost drowning in opportunities. The problem is
that many of us simply don’t see them. We’re either too focused on the
specific little thing at hand or simply aren’t keeping our mind open
when we’re “off the clock.” Every person you meet and every situation
you’re in is an opportunity not only to improve yourself, but to connect
to others and open the door to money-making possibilities.
What steps can you take? Build relationships with people – and, even
better, try to connect those relationships to each other, because
bringing people together in a useful way is one of the best things you
can do. Listen to what people are actually saying and doing – and try as
hard as you can to keep your own conclusions out of the mix.
Two: Luck Doesn’t Exist
Luck is mostly about preparation. If you have the
ability to record great ideas and to take immediate advantage of
opportunities that come your way, you’ll seem much more lucky than the
guy who never writes anything down and doesn’t have a hefty savings
What steps can you take? Write down ideas as soon as they come to
you. Have an “opportunity fund” in the bank in cash form that
you can use when something great comes along. Surround yourself with
people who are doing useful and interesting things.
Three: The Economics of
Find something you’re passionate
about and throw yourself in head first. Become obsessed with
what you’re doing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Meet
everyone even remotely related to your passion. Try it all. Practice,
What steps can you take? Figure out what you’re truly passionate
about, then when you find it, make it central to your life. Surround
yourself with people and activities that reinforce that passion. Become
so obsessed, in fact, that others sometimes find it almost scary.
Four: The Myth of Risk
Risk is real, but most people use risk as an excuse not to try things.
Instead, you should build a safety net for yourself and take that leap
sometimes. A risk that others aren’t willing to take is often the source
of an incredible opportunity for someone who is passionate and is
What steps can you take? Make your own life as financially secure as
you can. Dig into opportunities and figure out their real risks. Realize
that if something is truly in your wheelhouse, you’re likely to face
less risk than someone less impassioned.
Above all, no matter what happens, be humble. Humility takes you far
in life – you can mess up and you will. The way you
treat others often winds up matching the way they treat you, especially
at that key moment when you really need their help.
What steps can you take? Treat everyone well. Don’t
complain about the behavior of others – instead, set your own example.
Be humble about your accomplishments instead of bragging about them.
The Best Part: Little
Points of Wisdom
The part of this book that
really stuck with me was the short principles and quotes inserted
throughout the book every few pages. I collected these pieces together,
simply because I thought they were so incredibly worthwhile:
Don’t forget your goal – even when you’re on vacation
others see death, imagine life
When you hear someone say “If only I
could…,” you’re hearing an opportunity
Connect the people you meet
Even when you find the sure thing, save some money for a rainy day
Once you connect the dots, follow through
Choose your purpose, and
don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong
Remember: with time comes
Watch your pennies, no matter how many you have
your cool – it’s a big part of persevering
Don’t deviate from your
planned path to get a quick gain
Perseverance doesn’t take forever
Once you find your calling, persevering is easy
Remember that you
can’t do a business transaction with yourself
Prepare to get lucky
Find a driver other than money – it’s usually more lucrative than money
Do one thing and do it well
Obsess over whatever job you
Take your mind off the money – you’ll earn more
a career – plan a life
Obsession makes you work harder
look forward to going to work, that’s a good sign
Turn fear into passion
Never stop being a
Calculate every risk – even the one you live in
your window to go solo
You want autonomy? Let it motivate you
Be cocky when it counts
Don’t worry about what other people think
Reduce risk by believing in yourself
When you fail miserably,
If you hate your career, um, change it
biggest risk is doing nothing
Never let pride get in the way of
Be humble even if you’re as rich as Brooke Astor
Understand your limitations
Don’t be a slave to Plan A – it’ll
prevent you from seeing plan B
Don’t be afraid to make less than
Never feel as if you’re too successful to sweat
Remember that you are not, nor will you ever be, a god or goddess
Good stuff, all around. Somewhere in there is a piece of advice that
is probably a life changer for you.
Is Rich Like Them Worth Reading?
Rich Like Them is a spectacular handbook for
someone who is a self-starter with an entrepreneurial bent. If you’ve
got a strong desire to build your own success, the advice in this book
can provide a great foundation.
If that doesn’t sound like you, Rich Like Them doesn’t have as much to offer.
Unlike The Millionaire Next Door and The Difference, the focus here is strongly on
entrepreneurial behaviors – taking advantage of the opportunities around
“Chowhounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter—A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives”
About a month ago I was given the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the book, “Chowhounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter—A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” by Ernie Ward D.V.M. Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM, or “Dr. Ernie,” is a practicing veterinarian who is dedicated to helping pets and their humans live healthier lives. He appears regularly on the Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured on Animal Planet, NBC Nightly News, and CNN.
As soon as I read about him, I was interested in seeing what his book was all about. As most of you know, almost six months ago Dinsmore became extremely ill and after a lot of painful appointments, we discovered that he suffers from canine colitis, which is very similar to colitis that humans get. He was on tons of medications, needed lose about five pounds, and his entire diet had to change. Because of the illness, his weight came off quickly (and not all by choice), but for other dogs that have issues, it is not that easy. I mean I can barely lose five pounds so how was I expected to make my 25 dog lose five pounds. We were very lucky with Dinsmore, and he is now on a strict diet regime integrated with activity, and stress management techniques.
After reading this book, I became aware of how much I did not know about taking care of my little guy. This book is broken down in an easy to read format that gives you the opportunity to see why your dog could be overweight, and healthy ways to change its life with food, exercise, and gives the owner a greater understanding about your four legged friend.
The book was extremely easy to read, and really opened my eyes about a lot of things. What has stuck with me is chapters he wrote about dog food regulations, and what the different types of food (entree, flavored, etc.) really mean, and my friends it was not as pretty as you think. This book is completely fascinating, and there are even tasty recipe treats for your fur-baby.
I wish I had read this book a lot sooner. It made me reflect on how many things I could have done differently if I had just known. Even though I finished this book a couple weeks ago, I have gone back and checked with it a couple times when talking or looking at things in Dinsmore’s life. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about keeping your pup healthy, I can guarantee you are missing big things. Even when it comes to working out your dog, it explains how animals burn calories, and how to do it in a safe manner, and things you make think are safe really aren’t. Totally interesting right?
Celebrations: Lush Flowers, Opulent Tables, Dramatic Spaces, and Other
Inspirations for Entertaining (Hardcover)
Bailey Celebrations: Lush Flowers, Opulent Tables, Dramatic Spaces, and
Other Inspirations for Entertaining by Preston
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fabulous Preston Bailey has released a new book. I had the opportunity
to meet Preston this past April, and he is as charming and wonderful
in person as the events he creates.
Bailey Celebrations is a collection of his extraordinary floral
arrangements, set designs, lighting and art installations. Truly it is a
visually spectacular book filled with inspiration and breathtaking
Last week, high-end event
planner Preston Bailey gathered hundreds in the sprawling 69th
Regiment Armory in Manhattan to celebrate the launch of his fourth book,
“Preston Bailey Celebrations.” The gorgeous book is
filled with images of the lavish events he’s designed the world over
(with rates starting at $250,000), from a stunning Tiffany-glass
inspired wedding in New York to a reception with giant floral animals in
Bali. So you can expect his own party would be a stunner – not to
Bailey created a magical environment
with no shortage of glitz (above). Two giant disco balls dramatically
projected light throughout the room and dreamlike trees glowed at the
entrance. A giant runway ran down the middle of the room, which was
projected with a rotating image of pages from his book, giving it the
illusion of a printing press. The runway served as a stage for
performers such as Martha “Everybody Dance Now” Wash and Gloria Gaynor,
then later was filled with attendees dancing. Bailey was true to his
theory that a diverse crowd makes for the best parties. He was feted by
quite a diverse crowd.
Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion – Tokyo by Tiffany Godoy
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Style Deficit Disorder — The Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo has
become an international style mecca, a street-level fashion scene
prowled by major designers looking for inspiration, and whose local,
cutting-edge labels enjoy global cache. Style Deficit Disorder
is the first book to explore this remixed, fast-forward fashion hotbed,
profiling its most daring and influential designers, labels, stylists,
and shops (including Comme des Garçons, Hysteric Glamour, Super Lovers, A
Bathing Ape, and Laforet). Featuring nearly 200 photos, essays by key
Japanese fashion editors, and commentary by Edison Chen, Patricia Field,
John Galliano, Shawn Stussy, Shu Uemura and others, this is a
must-have, insider’s look at an international fashion and pop culture
epicenter, past, present, and future.
“Style Deficit Disorder is an awesome encyclopedic breakdown
of [Harajuku]..” —The Fader
“essential reading for anyone who wants to get the real lowdown on
the fabled district.” —Japan Times