Sunday, July 20, 2014

Footsteps of Mandela at Riverside Church

On Friday evening we went to Riverside Church in upper Manhattan for the Footsteps of Mandela (FOM) program on what would have been Nelson Mandella's 96th birthday. Hotlanta Vocal Posse and FOM Interfaith Chorus performed Stan Satlin's Aurotorio Amercana  and Joel A. Martin's Requiem for Peace as part of an evening-length program.  We ran into Carole Markel and her husband Richard Cramer (far left and far right) and Cydonia Boonshaft, Debra Rapoport's sister. (Cydonia's husband Barry was sweet enough to snap this photo.)  Note that Carol and Jean are both wearing Carol's huge hand-painted wooded gumball necklaces.

The event was a celebration of the life (not the passing) of Nelson Mandela, and the setting was the magnificent Riverside Church.

Man of the hour, composer Stan Satlin, and Jean.

Cydonia, Debra and Valerie.

After celebratory remarks by Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., UN Consul General George Monyemangene and Congressman Charles Rangle,  the beautiful and colorfully dressed Thuli Dumakude and Thokoza performed "Sawubona Mandela" and got the joint rocking from the get-go.  Drums of the World also performed.

Although not professional, the video gives you an idea of the space and the sounds:

Broadway star Liz Callaway's rendition of Bob Dylan's  "Blowing in the Wind" left Jean teary-eyed.  Another highlight of the evening was Simon Estes' "Old Man River" from Showboat.  The tall and handsome seventy-six year old Estes used to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. He has become an advocate for the program which provides insecticide treated mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria which we were told kills a child every 60 seconds in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Needless to say, we each donated a net.

Amy Little from Atlanta sang "Keeper of the Song" from Stan's Auratorio Americana. She is wearing woven beaded earrings from

Everyone was invited onstage as part of the event.  To the left of tall and handsome Simon Estes is the evening's host, Jeremy Hassell (from MTV & VH1) and Stan is to the left of Jeremy.

People onstage and in the aisles clapped, danced and sang along.  The video gives you just a taste of the joyful noise: 1FOMThuliDumakude&thokozaIdiosyncraticFashionistas071814x.

The gathering of the clan:  We all got together after the event. Left to right: Julia Sotas (Winnipeg), Jean, Debra, Amy Little (Atlanta), Mary Lou Alsentzer (Lancaster, PA), Janet Holloway (Lexington, KY) and Stan. Mary Lou and Janet, who have known Stan for over forty years, came to New York to see his work performed.

Jean met singer, actress and vocal arranger Ntomb'Khona Dlamini who performed with Thuli Dumakude & Thokoza. (She is the one in pink on the far right.) She is appearing with Jimmy Mngwandi and Danny Lerman at the Iridium Jazz Club on Sunday August 10th at 3 PM for an afternoon of African vocals and Jazz.

While many of the attendees were either from or had visited South Africa, all of the attendees dressed for the occasion.  We were seated right behind these two gorgeous divas who were singing and dancing along to the music in their colorful outfits and head wraps.

These two ladies, who were wearing black, white and grey, looked great.  If you look closely, the shawl on the lady on the right is covered in black skulls.  The colors in her friend's walking stick echoed those in her long neckpiece.

Crystal Kilgore, Storyteller Extraordinaire, was seated right behind us.  Her business card says: "Stories Galore: The Wonderful World of Storytelling".*

Mary is a friend of and was seated next to Crystal.

This lovely lady -- Mae -- was waiting for her niece, Ann, who had performed in the show.

After changing clothes, tall and talented Ann emerged from backstage.

Another beautiful lady in yellow was wearing a beaded necklace that she'd gotten in South Africa.

Members of this trio were rocking the black and white look!

After a week of extremely depressing world news about the Malaysian airliner blown out of the sky and the growing conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Mandela event was a wonderfully positive, restorative experience!

*Crystal's 24-hour voicemail number is 212-592-3391.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Clog Blog! "Word of Foot" - Dansko's Blog

Check it out! Dansko clogs featured us on its "Word of Foot" blog in a terrific article posted yesterday: THE "IDIOSYNCRATIC FASHIONISTAS" WEIGH IN: HOW DO YOU FORM A STYLE IDENTITY?  By Nick on Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We were thrilled to be approached by Dansko who had become aware of both of us not just for Jean's customized Dansko's but also for our individuality. After the initial contact, we responded to numerous questions via email and on some 3-way telephone calls with Nick. Judge for yourselves, but we're quite pleased with the final results and the extremely positive message.

Of course, we confess our now not-so-secret desire to design fashionable but comfortable shoes for women of any age since, after all, style is ageless!  Like actors who don't just want to act but want to direct, we don't just want to wear stylishly functional shoes, we also yearn to design some interesting, new, idiosyncratic versions. We would love to collaborate with Dansko's designers on a capsule collection.

Our regular readers are quite familiar with Jean's long standing affinity for Dansko clogs and her tendency to customize them to better reflect her style and personality. The center photo in Dansko's montage above displays the latest incarnation of her Dansko customization.

As her January 2014 Obsession Control post demonstrates, while Jean's eye may occasionally wander, her heart belongs to Dansko.

In an earlier blog from April 2013, with that catchy title: "Customize Your Shoes - Or Not",  Jean highlighted her earlier version, an all-black platform clog with her modified ripple sole to encourage rocking through each step to avoid a flat-footed Frankenstein plodding gait.

And of course, stick-on dots (lent by Valerie, who always has a stash of Staples dots on hand - remember her post-foot surgery polka dot cane?) provide an opportunity for embellishment with easy removal.

For the 2013 Easter Parade, we both rocked the polka dot thing, so the stick-on dots were the perfect counter-point to her black and white polka dot Heydari pants.

And the even earlier version of Jean's DIY customized black patent Dankso clogs featured a saw-tooth sole that she designed and had constructed by her long-suffering, very patient, masterful neighborhood shoe repairman. We were floored when it was featured in the 3/5/12 post by "Every Clog Has Its Day". (Click & scroll down to see us.)

We're looking forward to the opportunity someday to share our designs with bold patterns, unique color combinations and higher platform soles, if only someone would ask!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

We Flea to Brooklyn

Our trip last week to the closing of the Antiques Garage whetted our appetite for flea markets, so we headed to one of the the Brooklyn flea markets earlier today. We took the L train from 1st Avenue to vibrant Bedford Avenue and walked a few blocks, past some of the most colorful grafitti we've seen in a while.

Numerous elaborate paintings adorn brick walls on most of the side streets off of Bedford Avenue.

Exotic animals and birds appear on the sides of industrial buildings.

Once we got to the outdoor market, which included clothing and furniture along with lots of food vendors, we were not disappointed.

Everyone who goes to flea markets or yard sales or estate sales knows that the purest joy lies not so much in the buying but in the discovering.  We discovered any number of wonderful things that we never would have found at our local department stores.

It may never occurred to you to want or to make a toy mummy, but thank goodness someone made one, and someone else brought it to the flea market for us to wonder about.

At the same booth, we found the perfect sentiment in a poster.  Sorry, folks, we didn't want to disturb the very nice owner, so this is an awkward shot, but the expressive poster helps you overlook the shortcomings of the photo.

Jean found these hilarious protective shoe covers that she may find some future use for.   (Keep your eyes peeled.)

Ever wonder where architects get the little tiny people who populate their scale model buildings?  After the buildings get commissioned, unemployed scale model people gather at the flea market looking for their next jobs.

Deep End of The Sandbox had all kinds of collectibles, including action figures which appeal to people of ALL ages.

We found a new twist on the high heeled sneaker. The current rage is to insert the heel inside the shoe so it's invisible. This appears to be a flat shoe, but there's quite a lift in it. Very droll, and the white profile on the black sneaker, almost abstract, compliments its profile very nicely.

One of the booths, Kingston Twenty One, had a wonderful selection of ties in beautiful fabrications.  Here are some of their bow ties.

We were thrilled to run into Epperson, a designer whose work we raved about in our coverage of Pratt Gallery's Black Dress show featuring him among ten contemporary black fashion designers.

Another vendor, Marilyn Hitchcock, was there with a great collection of French Bakelite.

Gusts of wind punctuated long minutes of the frying-eggs-on-the-sidewalk variety of heat.  The wind was blowing at length while we tried to photograph this skirt featuring Aubrey Beardsley drawings.  So the picture came out badly, but you get the idea.  What a great print!

One enterprising young man bought a bunch of LPs (those are vinyl records, and the LP stands for "long playing", to those of you under 35) and made these beautifully designed signs with a laser cutter.  Handsome, colorful, creative and graphic.

This dealer did to his spattered sneakers exactly what one is supposed to do with sneakers: he flung them over a pole to dangle.

Another vendor who had an interesting selection of accessories and women's clothing was White Dove (but unfortunately, our photo didn't turn out).

There were LOADS of interesting people, of whom we'll show you just two.  This woman will be a great old lady in some forty years. You can perhaps see she's not only already dyed her hair red, she's also got the hat thing down pat.

This gent, doing his own version of the French Foreign Legion hat and following in the footsteps of Gary Cooper and Laurel and Hardy, was wearing a fabulous tee shirt with a huge exclamation point. He said his girlfriend makes them. The punctuation mark is made from recycled fabric.

Once we'd seen everything, it was time to go where Jean is pointing.  We didn't draw that sign.  Beacon's has moved to a new, slightly out of the way location, and they knew people like us would have trouble finding it.  Helpful,  amusing, and good marketing!

After a brief but rewarding visit, it was time for…  did you guess cocktails?  Good for you!  To put a nice coda to our day, we went looking for a place called Egg, where we used to see lines estimated at forty-five minutes' waiting time.  (We figured we were going at an off hour and would waltz in.)  To our surprise, the mighty, yummy Egg has long since disappeared, but to our delight, Aaron, the waiter at Juliette next door, beckoned us in, intimating that he would take good care of us.  He definitely did.

We did our usual thing, asking to trade this ingredient for that.  Luckily, the bartender was talented, adventurous and most accommodating! Jean had mezcal with passion fruit, and Valerie had blanc de blancs with passion fruit and raspberry.  The bartender later came over and said he approved of the switches we'd made, which was very gratifying.  Some bartenders refuse to make changes, some will make them, but offer a disclaimer, and others will taste the new product, like Juliette's bartender, and compliment us on our revision.  These little experiments add to the enjoyment of the whole process.  Oh, and lest you think that we were just "tippling a jar" (to quote Honky Tonk Women), we had marvelous buckwheat crepes with spinach and mushrooms in bechamel sauce.

What we're wearing:

Valerie is wearing an unlabeled vintage black and white straw hat, ceramic earrings from a thrift shop, onyx and silver brooch from the same thrift shop many years earlier, newsprint top and skirt by Ki Meng, purchased at the closing of The Garage flea market (remember that post?), metal cuffs from Matsuya Ginza, faceted water buffalo horn ring, Melissa shoes designed by Gareth Pugh.

Jean is wearing an Ignatius hat; rubber earrings designed by Kirsten Hawthorne; Illesteva "Frida" sunglasses; wooden and faux agate prayer beads (flea market finds from a few years ago); bakelite bangles and rings; Lysse top; knit harem pants from Thailand; Issey Miyake bag; customized Dansko clogs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014



Valerie has become addicted to Naked Juice's Berry Veggie.  So much so that she lines them up and drinks them in succession, much the way William Powell lines them up in The Thin Man.  She sees them the way Ray Milland sees alcohol in this still from The Lost Weekend.

Actually, that's not really true: a single 15.2 ounce bottle of Naked is $2.99 at Whole Foods (on sale), $4 and change at her local grocery store, $4.99 at her corner deli and $5.44 at her local sandwich joint. So Berry Veggie is a treat to be savored.  But it's soooo hard to resist when the first ingredient is listed as

and not

(photo from

Recently, there was a big brouhaha when a class action suit was filed, challenging Naked Juice's claim that it used only natural ingredients.  Readers who have nothing better to do with their time can read all about it here and here, but what most interested Valerie can be seen, in a nutshell, here (double click for a better view):

A REFUND!  Of up to $75, with proof (or up to $45 for those with enough nerve to submit claims without proof), to come from a $9 million pool set aside for the purpose.  Valerie, who had certainly contributed her fair share to the financial health of Naked Juice, figured she would have no trouble rustling up receipts, since she saves them for everything she charges, just to keep an eye on her credit card company.  (Funny things do show up now and again.)  So Valerie went through her box of receipts, which is full to bursting.  Here's  just the left side of the receipt box.  The right side is no better.

Readers who keep receipts know that this is a roll-up-your-sleeves procedure.  Receipts are only microns thick, and a whole boatload of them can fit in a single box.  Ask Valerie if you're not sure about that.  Not content to look through the box, she also looked through her collection of recyclable plastic bags, and found more receipts in those.  This whole process probably took more than an hour, possibly two, over the course of a few days.  All told, Valerie found $56 in receipts, and bemoaned the fact that she had foolishly thrown away receipts for everything bought with cash, since that would easily have put her up to (and beyond) the $75 limit. After all, there was almost always a bottle in the refrigerator.

It was a time-consuming process, but money gurus consistently chide us for throwing money away, so there was something close to a sense of civic responsibility in reclaiming these funds.  Here's one of the two pages Valerie submitted, first taping all the receipts to a page, circling the amounts so her final figure wouldn't be questioned, and then scanning them to send via email.  Readers probably know how much fun that is, but ask Valerie if you're not sure.

As specified in the Naked Juice Settlement terms, Valerie sent in her claim in November, way before the December deadline, smugly thinking that people without proof could submit as many claims for $45 as they pleased, but no one could deny her her $56.16, because she had proof.  Then she settled in for the long wait as the wheels of justice turned.

Seven months later, the wheels of justice finally ground to a halt, and after waiting and wondering and occasionally checking to see if she had her copy of the receipts, lest anyone say her claim wasn't received in time, Valerie got this check (again, double click):

The check number has been blotted out, just in case, as has Valerie's address, but the check amount has been circled (several times!).  Yes, you're reading that right.  Seventy-six cents.  And "NO dollars".  The fine print says "Because of the large number of Claims by Class Members, the awards to each Settlement Class Member have been reduced on a pro rata basis".  Boy, they sure have!!!!

If you read the settlement information, you may have seen that Naked offered either a settlement or the right to sue later, but not both.  Valerie thought $56 was a reasonable price for giving up her right to sue, so when she saw how little she'd actually renounced that right for, she was more than a tad miffed.  Charlie Brown and Lucy immediately came to mind.

Oddly, so did hardware.

Valerie isn't good at math, so she plugged the figures (.76 / 56.16) into Google just for the amusement of seeing what percentage of her claim she received.  Here's what Google says:

Yes, that's less than 1.4%.

And Valerie says what Queen Victoria would have said -


Valerie is wearing an unlabeled vintage pink feather hat and a Pleats Please dress with digital prints of fruit. That's a Radio City Music Hall martini glass, with Rockettes legs in gold tap pants and tap shoes.