Dec 26, 2011

Dog-gone BLOGGER!

How many blogs could a dogged blogger blog,
if a dog-gone blogger didn't get clogged?
As 2011 closes out and 2012 begins, this is the question I am asking myself.  I've committed myself to blogging on three sites besides my own.  My loyalties are to all four.  Some might argue that my personal site should take precedence over my work-related blogs.

I don't see it that way.  I instigated the other three blogs; thinking we were missing the boat(or the blog) at work.  I hate leaving any stone unturned.  We were not giving ourselves, our employees and volunteers a chance to have their say.  I am supposed to pick up the slack, when there is no one else to shovel another load of words into cyberspace.

Over the last two years, I have become more facile at writing blogs.  I used to write them in MSWord, panic over punctuation, agonize about an opening sentence = DRIVE MYSELF NUTS.

But, no more.  I've graduated.  I write directly into blogger, compose in my head, and surprisingly I'm more content.  This is a pretty good way to kick off 2012, even with three other blogs looming in the future.

LIVE IN 2012:

Dec 22, 2011

All the best

Looking forward to writing
more blogs in 2012.
Thanks for reading.

Dec 17, 2011

The DOT Above the EYE

 Hats:  An Anthology by Stephen Jones:  Newel post as you go upstairs to the exhibition.

The Hatmaker's Muse
Moderated by Phyllis Magidson
Bard Graduate Center
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lola Ehrlich
Albertus Swanpoel
Patricia Underwood

Waiting around for a lecture or panel discussion to begin is usually pretty boring.  Last night was different.  Almost everyone who came to the Bard Graduate Center was wearing a hat.  Not just any hat, but a hat to remember.  

It turns out that although hats have gone out of fashion (at least in this country) there is a rarefied group of people that still make hats and wear them.  They filled the room at Bard last night. 

What is the difference between a milliner and a hatter?
A milliner makes one-of-a-kind hats and a hatter makes hats that can be reproduced.

I don't look good in hats and therefore, I never wear them.  I've always thought it was the shape of my face that was antithetical to wearing a hat.  Last night changed my mind on this point. 

Lola Ehrlich:  A hat is a fierce and dangerous accessory.  When a woman puts on a hat, her personality is transformed.  Like the perfect perfume or perfect mate; a hat is a seductive accessory.  Choose your hat in proportion to your hips. 

Patricia Underwood:  It's the frame:  The theater:  It's mysterious.  When the hairdresser became more important, the hat became less important.  In order to sell a hat, you need a salesperson. Stores don't want to devote a salesperson to selling hats.  How many pairs of sunglasses can be placed in the same space as one hat?

Albertus Swanepoel:  My client is not hip or cool.  They want something modern and wearable.  I believe the best hat looks like it's been worn.  It's part of you.  A hat can enhance your attitude.
The stars were aligned at this event:  A moderator with good questions,  3 panelists with plenty to say, and an audience with the ultimate fashion accessory, a great hat.

The last question of the evening:  How do you feel about the baseball cap?
Lola Ehrlich:  It's unfortunate we are not in the baseball cap business.  We would all be rich.

All of the above photos by Peter Mauss.  All photos are copyrighted. 
Please contact Phyllis Odessey for permission to use any of the above photographs.

Everyone in the photos was sitting in the audience at Bard Graduate Center.

Dec 12, 2011


Broadway Boogie Woogie by Mondrian
The Greatest GRID:

Master Plan of Manhattan

Unfinished GRID:
Design Speculations
for Manhattan

Museum of the City of New York
December 6, 2011 - April 15, 2012
I am not a map person.  There is nothing I like less than walking around a city with my nose in a map.  The grid must have been invented for people like me.  It makes navigating your way around New York so easy. 
The Architecture League and The Museum of the City of New York have organized two great shows.  The Greatest Grid is a celebration of the grid; full of maps when maps were works of art; historical photos of the city and a brilliant exhibition installation.  Upstairs, is another show, Unfinished Grid, which showcases the 8 winning proposals from Call for Ideas that deal with the future of the grid.

On Saturday, December 10, Ken Smith, Amale Andraos and Mark Robbins and Gregory Wessner discussed Call for Ideas and the questions raised by the competition.

Wessner opened with What makes the Manhattan grid so special?
Andraos:  The grid allows each lot to become expressive on its own.

Smith:  The great moments in the city are the non-grid spaces: like the Flat Iron Building.  Broadway breaks the grid.  It's a cow path.  This is what makes the grid livable. 

The grid seems inevitable today.  How else could NYC be organized?  How would you get from east to west, north to south so easily?  It's unimaginable.  As the panel pointed out the grid is an egalitarian ideology.

 What do 8 entries add to a grid that works so perfectly?

For me there were two interesting ideas.  NYCity2 (Fotis Sagonas, Ioannis Oikonomou) think digital technologies can be harnessed to "help New Yorkers play a more engaged and vital role in shaping the future of the city?...  Residents upload their wishes and desires for their block, neighborhood or the city as a whole to an online platform."  This new grid is shaped by the city's inhabitants.  Do we trust our neighbors to create a livable city?
Tabula Fluxus (Group Han Associates) begins with the obvious:  the city is becoming ever more crowded.  A new horizontal grid above the existing verticality is the answer.  How do you get up use the voids in the grid.

 For me, the grid is my true om. Good luck to anyone who messes with it.

Dec 10, 2011

Place on earth!

Enduring Legacy at

Mount Stewart
The Royal Oak Foundation
Michael Buffin
Gardens and Park  Adviser at The National Trust
for Southeast England and Northern Ireland

December 6, 2011
Who would you seek advice from
if you wanted to create 90 acres of gardens?
Lady Londonderry consulted no one.
Mike Buffin opened with "I am going to tell you a story." For me that is the perfect way to begin any lecture.  I am always ready for a good tale. 

Lady Londonderry (Edith Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Marchioness of Londonderry)  was "very rich, extremely talented and had no formal training as a garden designer."  Yet, her gardens at Mount Stewart are a world heritage site and considered one of the great gardens in the British Isles.

Lady Londonderry collected plants like some people collect stamps. Some might have considered her an amateur, but she was an expert plantsman.   Buffin was lucky enough to have access to her meticulous garden journals containing voluminous documentation of her obsessive compulsive purchases, including 170,000 rare purple tulips. The Marchioness was a hoarder of rare and tender plants from all over the world.

Although she grew up in the 4th wealthiest family in the UK, she was often mistaken for one of the gardeners.  Listening to Mike Buffin, I wanted to know how this socialite became so enamored of gardening.  Trying to get at the underneath of things must be part of the motivation for those who write biographies. I was grasping for clues.  Was it that Lady Londonderry's  husband was cajoled into marrying her by the Prince of Wales.  Or the fact that the climate at Mount Stewart suited every tropical plant under the sun, but the SUN hardly ever shines in that part of Northern Ireland.  Gardening is known to lift the spirit, maybe it did for Marchioness.     

It was the fashion to change bedding out schemes in Lady Londonderry's era.  In the case of the gardens at Mount Stewart, there might have been a different reason for this constant reconfiguring and planting of gardens. According to Buffin, rose bushes grew to be the size of trees.  The extremely mild climate combined with very high rainfall, caused everything to grew so quickly that plants just got too big too fast.  That is a problem, I wouldn't mind having.   

I don't know why the Marchioness just kept going, creating one garden after another, buying more and more plants, moving this tree from here to there.  It might be the same reason all gardeners do it.  We can't help ourselves.  There is always another garden to make.
Italian Garden
Sunk Garden
Maiori Garden
Dodo Terrace
Spanish Garden
Shamrock Garden
Rhododendron Wood
Lady's Walk
Jubilee Avenue
Memorial Glade
Sea Plantation on the shore Strangford Lough
Ti Nan Org (burial ground)

Mount Stewart
Portaferry Road
BT22 2AD

Dec 4, 2011

Give Us This Day
Our Daily RICE

Rice Drying on Randall's Island
Randall's Island Park
Creator and  Designer

Never say something can't be done, especially when it comes to horticulture.  There is always someone out there to prove you wrong.  Eunyoung Sebazco is one of those people.

Eunyoung is the Assistant Horticulture Manager for Randall's Island Park.  She was the creator of our Children's Garden. Over the last three years, the garden has expanded.  It is now 12,000 square feet.  The Children's Garden is now called The Learning Garden.  This year Eunyoung had the idea to make a rice paddy.  I thought she didn't have a chance of pulling it off.

 The rice paddy was built by Ulises Hernandez and Wayken Shaw using recycled bricks from Randall's Island.
 Volunteers from Bloomnberg LLP and school kids roll out plastic from Home Depot as a liner.
 Volunteers and school kids propagate the rice seed in plastic cups.
 We can see a little green.
 The rice transferred to larger pots.  I began to get worried that the paddy would turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  What to do?  Wayken Shaw suggested pitcher plants.  We also bought an $80 solar aerator from Amazon, which really worked.  On Randall's Island it's easy to sometimes fantasize you are in another place.  We bought papyrus plants and water lilies and we started dreaming.
 In conjunction with school children, we added compost and sand to the "soil."
 The rice got taller.
 We added bamboo to facing of the paddy and finally it was time to cut the rice.

 And than it was time to cut the rice and tie into bundles. 
The rice fully mature.  Waiting 20 days until threshing.

We (Randall's Island Horticulture Department) participated in "New Green City" in Union Square, New York City.  We brought one of the rice plants in a pot; put a sign on the plant which read, Do you know what plant this is?  Thousands walked by, hundreds stopped, only three people identified the plant:  a man from India, another from Bangladesh and a woman from the Caribbean.  They all had grown up in environments where rice is grown.  The man from Bangladesh told me that they thresh the rice in a sock to prevent the grains from scattering all over the place.
Jackie Young's 5th Grade Class from PS 182 and the crew
from Momofuku Restaurant thresh the rice.

Separating the rice from the husk.

From left to right:  Matt Rudofker, Sous Chef from Ssam Bar,
Manager from Ssam Bar and Wayken Shaw, Horticulture Crew, Randall's Island

A member of Momofuku crew winnowing the rice
with a traditional winnowing basket from Korea.

Someone asked Eunyoung why we were drying the rice in a traditional way.  Eunyoung responded, "I asked the old people how they did it. Old people have wisdom."  And so apparently does Eunyoung, after all she made the rice paddy a reality.


I will also be blogging for the rice paddy site.

Dec 1, 2011


Astor Place
I use zip ties everyday to put up fencing, coil hoses, make trellises, create bamboo gates and fix stuff.  When I alighted from the subway at Astor Place the other night, my first impression was totem poles. 
If you've been to Astor Place just once in the last 30 years, you know it for the black cube,

a sculpture created by Tony Rosenthal in 1967.  It's an icon.  This 15 foot black CorTen steel cube can be rotated and you often see one or more people actually moving it.

In addition, artist, Jim 'Mosaic Man' Power, now 60 years old has been covering the lamp posts at Astor for years.  The 80 mosaic lampposts comprise the 'Mosaic Trail' which runs from the Lower East Side to Eighth Street to Avenue A to Fourth Street.  "I'm trying to take the anxiety out of the city with beauty."
 How did these come to be?
Flaming Cactus was debuted at Figment 2011 on Governors Island.  "It's awesomeness caught the eye of the NYC's Department of Transportation...12+ Flaming Cactuses will sprout up in and around Astor Place.
 We wanted to show that "making art doesn't require a lot of resources, formal education, or even money.  Art and creativity are things we're capable of."

 In the Big Apple, street life is pretty interesting without any additions.  But they can still make a difference.  A lamppost is one of the more ugly utilities on the sidewalk.  These color sidewards stalagmites add color, texture and fun to whatever kind of day I am having.