Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope you enjoy this lovely gingerbread graveyard I baked just for you. In truth, the gingerbread looks more like gravestones without the candy on it, but frankly I plan on eating this sucker. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ghost Building

Last week my friend Mike and I went walking around the financial district to gaze at old graves and dream of Dutch colonial things but, this being the financial district, couldn't help but crane our necks upward and get carried away by skyscrapers. Inspired by the hollow grandness of the bank buildings, I blathered on a bit about how I love narratives of financial ruin, the sheer drama of histories of crashes and panics. Then we stumbled on a gorgeous Art Deco building at the corner of Wall and Pine, and, well, witnessed history.

Fascinated by its sleek elegance, we trotted round and round the edifice, vainly looking for an open door, but all ingress and egress was blocked off and everything was shuttered up tight. Odd, considering it was five o'clock on a weekday afternoon.

At last we found a single open entrance and passed through a revolving door into an unusually
quiet lobby suffused with warm-colored marble. (I remember it being a gingery gold color, but memory is fallible. I should have snapped a picture, darn it.) A plaque informed us of the building's ownership, and we walked through the hushed, utterly deserted interior to the only people in the place: two uniformed security guards. They stood amidst the silence and half-packed cardboard boxes.

We greeted them and asked, "Is this the AIG Building?"

The kinder of the two guards replied slowly: "Used to be."

We spoke to him some more, and he revealed to us that the building had been sold "to the Koreans." I asked him if he would keep his job. "I don't know. I'm just living from day to day," he replied. (Reverting to a strange Little Orphan Annie diction that overtakes me sometimes, I piped up, "You're real nice, mister, I'm sure you'll keep your job, sure you will!") The other guard stood stoically, as soundless as the empty lobby.

At one point a slim young man with light-brown hair and a sad face came into the building. He was dressed in what I imagine bankers wear on weekends, and had on a backpack. As he passed by the stack of boxes, I realized he was likely going upstairs to pack the last of his work things into that backpack.

We waved goodbye to the friendly security guard (I really do wish I had more of a controlling stake in the universe so I could ensure him a job with the new owners) and headed back into the darkening afternoon. As we left, we saw a lone, white-haired lady, perhaps some ancient secretary, shuffle noiselessly across the floor, swipe her ID card at a golden turnstile, and move toward the elevator bank.


P.S. Did you know there are no happy hours in the financial district? A waitress explained, "We don't really need them down here."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Bacon Porn

My new Hams & Jams catalogue came in the mail today, and when I say "new" I mean my first ever. I have no idea how they got our address, but frankly it doesn't matter. When you're pitching meat-in-the-mail, I'm buying.

To start, I think I'd like the Sizzle Pack, featuring one pound of Country Smoked Bacon, 1 lb Belgian Waffle and Pancake Mix and an 12 oz bottle of Maple Syrup. Then I'll move on to the Loveless Smokehouse Special, featuring:
  • 1 lb Country Smoked Bacon
  • 2 lbs Country Smoked Sausage
  • 12 oz Center-Cut Country Ham Slices
Then maybe I'll grab a nice jar of pumpkin butter to go with my Butter My Biscuits! gift pack, and, finally, top it off with a nice bag of Piggy Popcorn, that is to say, popcorn popped in bacon grease sprinkled with Real Country Smoked Bacon Bits.

And if that's not enough, I might for for a Whole Hog Gift Pack or two.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teeny tiny deadly things

"Morgues and crime scenes were hardly places for ladies of good breeding to discuss, let alone visit."

So, in characteristic fashion, I discover Frances Glessner Lee long after the rest of the world does. What can I say, it isn't easy living in a state of calculated obliviousness. In any case, it isn't when you find her, I suppose, that matters: it's finding her at all. Imagine my euphoria when I learned that not only was this woman a fellow dioramist, but she made tiny dioramas of real-life crime scenes! What's more, she was a society woman, which made the contrast between her gentle good breeding and the gruesomeness of her chosen art all the more delightful.


"Conducted within the contours of conventionality, Glessner Lee’s activities were consonant with the one career she was expected to assume, that of society matron. Her tables were elegantly appointed, her fortune endowed a worthy cause, and her leisure time was productively devoted to a hobby many women enjoyed: making miniature scenes."

Oh yes, please continue!

" [H]er dinner guests dissected grisly details of crime scenes over their consommé [and] within her dollhouse dioramas, cheery dotted-swiss curtains and floral wallpapers belied the presence of dead bodies..."

As if that wasn't enough, the brilliant woman gave her circa-1940s dioramas the best name ever: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.


Oh and, sure, yeah, they were scientifically significant and had some major impact on criminologists at Harvard, etc. But for me, I think it's just enough that they are. Would I have liked them better if they served no purpose? No. I'm just sayin. I mean, sure she revolutionized the science of forensic pathology, but it would have been as charming coming from someone who wasn't a millionaire heiress? I mean, I'm picturing her as a sort of Katharine Hepburn/Carole Lomard type, you know? Or maybe, in her later years, a J.B. Fletcher type:

Anyway, this completely badass woman who took dentist's drills to her dollhouses is now the subject of a new film:

Let's all just bask in her awesomeness. And perhaps I can convince my more ghoulish family members to buy me the book.

P.S. Scholarly sources on the preceding quotes can be found here. More info on the amazing woman who took these photos can be found here and here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spinster Travelogue: Green-Wood Cemetery

We all know how much I love cemeteries (I'm sure I've alluded to rambling madly over the tomb-strewn hillocks of Green-Wood before) but as I am camera-averse and rarely document anything, I have never actually bothered to post photos of the excellent locale.

Until now:

This is one of my favorite, and most vampirey-looking graves.

A tree. No more, no less. I thought the color was rather nice.

Surely Aunt Abbey was a Spinster Aunt, no?

The grave of Charlotte Canda, which I walked past many times without noticing. Why? Because the False Japanese Cedar always stole my attention. Incidentally, I have written rather an excellent ghost story about Charlotte and her diabolical aunt. (Disclaimer: there is nothing anywhere in written history that proves her aunt was diabolical. This is merely a figment of my fevered imagination.)

The chapel. I like the dusky autumn light.

Again, color!

The path of life leads but to the grave!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where the dead come alive (metaphorically)

Hey everybody, just wanted to announce that I'm now leading walking tours of lower Manhattan!

I offer non-cheesy walking tours of the historical variety... contact me if you love the Dutch colony as much as I do, and I'll give you my Stuyvesant special (just a fancy name for a Colonial-themed walking tour of lower Manhattan).


Friday, September 24, 2010

I like it when worlds collide

So the other day I go to Green-Wood's art show, and one of their notable artists is George Catlin, right? Then I go to a lecture on Five Points over at the Smarmy Marxist Tenement Museum (I love them, but geez, sometimes it's all a bit much) and what do I see? This painting of Five Points, by George Catlin:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Artists in (Permanent) Residence

Panther Shooting, Brazil (George Catlin, 1854)

This weekend there is a free art exhibit in the Green-Wood historic chapel of many of the artists buried in the cemetery. I'll be going, so, you know, it'll be awesome.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teeny tiny seedy things

My new favorite thing in all the world are these tiny, seedy sculptures by Alan Wolfson, which I found over at Vanishing New York. My favorite, of course, is the Triple-A Detective Agency (pictured above), but his wee Times Square peep shows and dingy hotel rooms are worth ogling, too. Visit his fun world-in-miniature website here. I really need to beef up my dioramas after seeing this.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

I feel like I'm turning into one of those people who insist on showing their vacation slides* because all my recent posts have been, "Here's what I've been up to this weekend," while really no one cares. But I really did take some tremendous walks -- despite the heat -- and I saw turtles! Tiny frogs! Flowers! Bees! And it was so exciting, really it was, that I whipped out my camera-phone in a great passion and snapped things that seemed terribly important at the time...

I saw very gorge roses:

... and butterflies... ... and scads of other lovely things, but since I'm not really a good photographer I won't embarrass myself with awful snaps of the turtle (especially since the poor creature was shrinking from the attention and begging not to be photographed, really) and other things, but I do have to leave you with one lovely bit of whimsy -- my bagel took the shape of a heart, when cut (or rather the centre of it did) and whenever my food accidentally takes on a heart shape there's a part of me that can't resist:

So there: hearts and flowers and butterflies. It's been that kind of weekend. But don't think I've gone soft on you: I can still kill a man twenty-seven different ways with a hairpin and 9-volt battery.

* Do those still exist?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Olmsted docu at Prospect Park, August 4th

I had a pretty magical walk in the park today, which reminds me to tell y'all that the film I worked on this winter is screening at Prospect Park this coming Wednesday!

THE OLMSTED LEGACY, featuring the voices of Kevin Kline and Kerry Washington, premieres in Olmsted and Vaux’s classic park–under the stars, and free for all.

Wednesday, August 4


The Celebrate Brooklyn! Stage at the Bandshell, Prospect Park.

Come nerd out with me at the park!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weekend Projects a la David Lynch

I'm gearing up to start my summer diorama, which I'm very excited about. The spring diorama was a great success, and I'm sorry to see it go.

The narrative here is that Victorian street urchins discover a magical world of giant toads and flowers. Sorry about the glare in this photo. These were taken with a camera phone under high lights, with shiny paper, and I realize you can't even see the toad here. I'll have to take some more before I dismantle it.

I started creating dioramas in my living room earlier this year, when I noticed that an empty air-conditioner hole just begs to be turned into a tiny theatre of wonders. This was my winter diorama. It's sort of a Russian fairy-tale version of Red Riding Hood:

Not to give too much away, but my summer diorama will involve nuns.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Au revoir, Madame Devereaux

I know this happened three days ago but I just can't stand to be party to the vulgar internet eulogizing in which many of my peers indulge, so I held off until I felt it was decent.

All I shall say is this: Blanche was, is and always will be my soul mate (though in my dumber moments I'm very Rose, my heart will always belong to the Slut). And we have the exact same reaction to form-letter rejections:

Monday, May 31, 2010

In which I trivialize Memorial Day

Well, I'm back. Although I grew tired of blogging and went into a self-induced semi-retirement back in January, I now realize I have far too many hilarious photos and trivial anecdotes to share with the world, and must return to the blogosphere to, at the very least, keep those Chinese spam comments from gathering in the comments section of my blog like cobwebs.

To celebrate my triumphant return from obscurity, here is a photo from my Memorial Day celebration, in which I re-enact the Battle of Gettysburg using blue and gray cupcakes:

As a great man once said, "You're welcome America."

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Hey ladies and gents,

Posting in the upcoming months is going to be light and sporadic so there won't be much going on around here, but why not follow me on Twitter? I'm much easier to take in small doses.

Or take a gander at for new short stories and other updates!

In the meantime, I'll be staying at my friend Jack Handle's.

Stay gold,