A little more than a week after at least 50 million of us were affected by Hurricane Sandy, Americans are about to go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a very important presidential election at a pivotal point in our history as a nation. We are working against widespread voter suppression—yes, in 2012—grounded in racism and classism, and so much is at stake. This election isn’t just about President Obama’s policies over the next four years, it’s about the fact that there are currently four seated Supreme Court justices in their 70s. Whoever wins this election will likely nominate a new justice, and therein lies the future of our civil rights.

LISTEN UP: Whatever you believe about the U.S. economy and what can and should be done to fix it, we simply cannot legislate away our rights in the mean time. This is not a joke. This is not feeding clichéed lines about choosing the “lesser of two evils.” This is about doing our duty as American citizens to protect each other and ensure that future generations will live in a country with all of the freedoms they deserve. This is about saying NO to hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about what I wanted to write in this post, but it occurred to me that so much of what I’m feeling is so closely aligned with what my (sensitive, insightful, passionate, well-spoken) friend Daniel wrote on his blog a few days ago…so I’ll let him say it for me. Here’s an excerpt:

I know people who are voting for Republicans. Some of these people I even count as friends. When I talk to them about it, the general response seems to be that they don’t “personally” support discrimination, even if discrimination is central to Republican social policy. Let me be clear: there is nothing more personal than a vote. By voting for Mitt Romney, you are casting a vote for discrimination. You are casting a vote against me, against my family, against equality, against fairness, against love, against freedom, against the promise of liberty and justice for all. A vote for this Republican party, as it stands in 2012, is a vote for discrimination. You are complicit in it, you are supporting it, you are perpetuating it. There is no other way to look at it, and it’s truly heartbreaking to see people I otherwise respect blind to this fact.

The choice in this election couldn’t be clearer, and not just on this issue. It’s the difference between a president who cares about the future of our education system, our public sector workers, and the social programs that attempt to keep those in need afloat, versus a party who doesn’t. It’s the difference between a president who has regained much of our respect in the world and has a proven record of successful foreign policy experience, versus a candidate with no experience, Bush’s foreign policy advisors, and reckless and wildly inconsistent ideas about the rest of the world. It’s the difference between a president who supports rights for women to receive equal pay for equal work, to have access to contraception, and to seek a safe and legal abortion if necessary, versus a party who would deny all of these rights. It’s a choice between a President who has dug this economy out of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression versus a party who wants to return to the policies that caused the collapse in the first place. It’s the choice between a president who regards global warming as a real and tangible threat versus a party who thinks the climate change is a hoax, a joke, or both. It’s the difference between a president who doesn’t think you should go broke or die because of medical costs, versus a party that sees only the bottom line for the insurance industry. It’s the choice between a president who believes in equality versus a party who believes so profoundly in discrimination that they would amend our Constitution to reflect their extreme ideology. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Go over to Manhattan Nest to read all of Daniel’s post if you haven’t already. He expresses perfectly why this is such an important election, and why Barack Obama is the right choice to lead this country for the next four years. I hear a lot of talk about being a “values voter,” and that is exactly what I am: I support Obama because I support the civil rights of all Americans. I care about a compassionate future for my country. Those are my values, and my vote supports them.

In Novemeber 2008, we did this. Now let’s go out there and do it again. GO VOTE, AMERICA!

Banner image by Lisa Congdon for the #GoVote project!

This morning I woke up (in Newburgh…with electricity!) to a tweet from my dear friend and co-collaborator, Lisa Congdon, announcing that her new line of wallpaper for Hygge & West is now available for purchase.

I could not be more excited! You already know I adore Lisa and that I love love LOVE her work, but I’m also a fan of Hygge & West. I have their wallpaper (the now-discontinued “Pieces” pattern by Julia Rothman) in my hallway, and I love what Christiana and Aimee have been able to do with their company in the past few years. I have wallpaper all over my house, and to have it be the work of some of my favorite illustrators is pretty awesome.

So how about that Triangle pattern, huh? Lisa sent me some sketches of the pattern while she was working on it, and I’m pretty sure my first response was, “Can you make sure it’s available in all-black so I can put it in my kitchen? And also gold and pink.” So I’m just going to pretend that all of this is for ME and my happiness. And believe me, I’m happy. I’ve been putting off working on my kitchen for…um, about 6 years now, and of all the possible motivators there could be for me to get going already, the prospect of being able to use Lisa’s wallpaper in the project is really all I need. I am so ready to do this.

I’m mostly likely going to go with the all-black option, but the gray/pink and charcoal/gold colorways (side note: I hate the word “colorways”) are super-gorgeous as well. Maybe I can find a spot for them somewhere else? I’m running out of places to use wallpaper!

Because I am who I am and I like what I do, I’m going on and on about the Triangle pattern, but Lisa also has two other beautiful wallpaper designs at Hygge & West, Ferns and Bohemian. To be honest, I love them all so much that they make me want to buy more houses so I can put more wallpaper all over everything. Or at least maybe convince my mother that she should put the Ferns pattern in black in her dining room, because it would be PERFECT there.

Congratulations on the new endeavor, Lisa, and thanks as always to Christiana and Aimee for their vision (and great taste!). The full collection is amazing. I can’t wait to use some of it in my home.

Yeah, I could live there is a semi-new, semi-regular D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today I’m spying on New York-based photographer Anita Calero’s West Chelsea loft.

I first learned of Calero’s incredible taste in furniture and eye for design when her house in East Hampton was featured in Domino magazine ages ago (check out this kitchen), and since then I’ve been hoarding every photo I can find of her homes. The amount of French Industrial furniture in her loft fills me with pure envy. I’m not sure how one gets their hands on quite so much vintage Jean Prouvé in New York City, but I’m guessing it involves quantities of money that I don’t have.

That Prouvé wardrobe…man. Why can’t I find one of those things on the street someday? (In case you’re curious, I just searched a few auction sites. They sell for like $30–40k. Gulp.) And who designed that lamp? The shape seems a little off to be Serge Mouille. Whatever, though. Everything in this photo is perfect and it makes me want to throw away everything I own and start over.

What, you don’t have a Prouvé desk chair, a couple of JIELDE lamps, a Kaare Klint safari chair and a bunch of turtle shells hanging on your wall? Yeah, me neither, but I wish I did. Well, maybe not the turtle shells. And look at that bookcase! It’s all college dorm-style with the shelves just resting on what look like wooden blocks, but it looks right. I’m crediting the black wall. Black walls fix everything.

I’ll conclude this with a quote from Anita Calero:

People invite me to dinner because they know I will tell them how to reinvent their living space. It is natural for me to move things around so that they fit. I consider everything I own a piece of art including my toothbrush. So when I look at what you have, I see art and I just know where it goes. It is possibly because I am a seriously published photographer and have been a stylist; that I know when something is not right and does not fit. Objects need to dance in a rhythm to their own synchronicity in order for us to feel free. Nature is like that, it knows what goes with what. When things are right—there is happiness, there is peace, there is bliss. That’s what we want to come home to- and what we have to offer.

Nice. “I know when something is not right and does not fit” is really my whole approach to figuring out what to do with my own home. And I should probably get a nicer toothbrush.

Want to see more of Calero’s loft? There are more photos at Loft Life.

Photos by Anita Calero/ and Jonny Valiant

Yeah, I could live there is a new, semi-regular D16 feature wherein I post pictures of houses I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today I’m spying on the home of Swedish photographer and art director Jakob Nylund.

I came across Jakob’s photoblog after following a link from Just—My—Type, a repository for his typography work. (I downloaded all of the fonts, of course, which are free from any usage restrictions. I can’t wait to try them out!)

Yeah, so I probably don’t even need to spell out what I love about Jakob’s home (uh, everything?), but two things are abundantly clear to me upon looking at these photos:
1. I need to suck up the VAT and the shipping and just order some String Shelves already.
2. I want to mount marble shelves above my radiators, too.

Wait, I think I need to add another item to my list:
3. I have to get going on my kitchen mini-renovation (ugh, that post is almost two YEARS old). Just the slightest glimpse of subway tile + black grout at this point sends me into a fit of guilt over how long I’ve been procrastinating!

There are more photos of Jakob’s home over on his blog. While you’re over there, take some time to look at his other work—it’s all pretty fantastic! His understanding of black and white photography in particular is really compelling…

All photographs © Jakob Nylund. Used with permission.

Beckman Villa, Stockholm // DAPstockholm, 2004

Welcome to a new, semi-regular D16 feature: Yeah, I could live there. Wherein I post pictures of houses I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in.

Earlier today I was on the DAPstockholm website looking for pictures of these amazing rowhouses they designed a while back (how cool is that black–gray gradation of exterior colors?!), and this villa in Stockholm caught my eye.

White on the sunny/water side, black on the shady/trees side—it’s got Anna written all over it, right? These photos were taken in 2004. I wonder what it looks like now that those little trees are probably a lot more mature. Must be heaven…

Yeah, I could live there.

p.s. Twenty bucks says my mother gasped out loud when she saw these photos. (Did you, Mommy?)

I’m on an ongoing quest to address a lot of little projects around the house that have gone undone or put off or half-addressed for a while, and taking care of the dressing room was the most recent item on the agenda. The dressing room is actually the smallest of the four bedrooms in the house—it’s only about 6×12′ and it has doors leading to both the hallway and the master bedroom, so it was probably originally intended to be used as a nursery.

Let’s flash back to this post from June 2009, shall we? Specifically these last lines:

I’m still not sure about keeping that little bookshelf in there, but for now, it’s fine. I also need a big plant, I think. Weirdly, the wallpaper has made me hate the orange-y floor color a little less than I did before. Hmmm.

Yup, a mere three years later, I finally moved out the little bookshelf (which was serving zero purpose and never felt quite right), moved in a bench (the screamingly-bright fluorescent orange Offcut Bench from Tom Dixon—there are no words adequate enough to describe how electric this thing is in person), and got that big plant taken care of! I’m not sure why I put these things off for so long. The room looks so much better now! (If you REALLY want to see how much this room has transformed over time, take a look at how it looked six years ago. Yikes!)

So…I’m in love with this new plant. It’s a fiddle-leaf fig tree, and it’s BIG and LUSH. I have a really sad history of killing plants (Remember this guy? Dead in less than a week), but I’m determined to keep this one alive. Apparently fiddle-leaf figs are pretty durable as long as they get a decent amount of sun and a nice, long drink a few times a month, so I actually think I can do this. I need to get a bigger pot, though, since I expect it to get much bigger. I’m also going to have to do some pruning of the lower leaves in order to train it to grow taller—I’d love to see it eventually hit the ceiling and grow into the bedroom.

And now for some fiddle-leaf fig inspiration…

Above photos:
1. Interior design by Mikel Larrinaga, via Nuevo Estilo
2. Home in Houston, Texas, via Memorial Bend Architecture
3. Interior design by Emma Reddington at The Marion House Book
4. Interior design by Anna Burke, via Lonny (March/April 2012)

I always think it’s funny when people comment on how “fast” I am about completing renovation projects in our house. Maybe it’s because I don’t post very often, or because I tend to not show a lot of in-progress shots? Whatever it is, it’s a big, fat illusion. We are the slowest renovators ever. Case in point, we’ve now been living with our “temporary” kitchen for more than SIX YEARS. In fact, it’s been a whole year and a half since I last wrote about how I should probably start getting to work on fixing up the kitchen for real. How much have I done since then? Zilch. I mean, unless you count complaining about it. I never procrastinate when it comes to complaining.

Photo by Karl Anderson & Anna Kern for Sköna hem nr 4, 2012

I like this solution a lot. My kitchen is actually a decent size (maybe 15′x15′?), but it’s a difficult space—it has three doorways, two tall windows that reach well below counter height, and a big hearth. There’s very little continuous wall space, so it seems small. The ceilings are high, though (about 10′), so having a bunch of dangling pendant lamps isn’t as precarious as it might seem. It would be easy to hang them high enough that the average person wouldn’t be smacking skull to bulb. Even a 3′ dangle would accommodate a 7′ person. (I’m over-thinking this, yes.) The height of the bulbs is adjustable by simply wrapping or unwrapping the cord. Nice. Plumen CFL bulbs would look great and be more efficient than incandescents.

The other good thing about this solution is that it provides an easy way to run lights across a wide distance without having to install additional electrical boxes in the ceiling (those of you who live in old houses with original ceilings understand why adding/moving boxes is a pain), since all of the cords run from the same source. Yes, track lighting would also be an option, and I’m not writing it off completely…but it can get expensive once you you enter the world of the non-ugly. (IKEA used to have a really nice and affordable track system called SÄNDA, but it was just discontinued. Sigh.)

Most importantly, this fits into my “unfancy” approach to kitchen renovation. It doesn’t alter the original structure of the house, it’s inexpensive, it’s simple to execute, easily reversible, and the materials are honest.

Photos from the Moormann-Berge Gästehaus // Interiors designed by Nils Holger Moormann

I think I might have posted these photos already ages ago, but I thought it was worth adding them to this post since this is essentially the same idea but with a branch instead of metal rod. I like this, too, but I think it’s better for over a dining table than for general kitchen lighting. I also love that built-in bench. All of the windows and doors in my kitchen make it impossible to do anything like that, but I would if I could.

I have some real posts lined up (including some pictures of the apartment—finally!), but right now I just want to take a quick ART BREAK. Here’s a brief history of John Baldessari crammed into six minutes…and narrated by Tom Waits. PERFECT. Two of my most favorite guys. I love this.

Commissioned by LACMA for their first annual “Art + Film Gala” honoring John Baldessari and Clint Eastwood.

Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Edited by Max Joseph
Written by Gabriel Nussbaum
Cinematography by Magdalena Gorka & Henry Joost
Produced by Mandy Yaeger & Erin Wright

Thanks to Loren at Little Paper Planes for the find!

Both photographs © The Beastie Boys

A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite groups was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I have a strong dislike for awards and certifications and ceremonies and that kind of thing, but I took a moment on Twitter to give love and congratulations to the Beastie Boys, because really—they deserved to be there. It was satisfying to see a group I grew up loving (and still love now and never stopped loving) honored for their contributions to rock music. If any group cannot be pigeon-holed into a single genre, it’s the Beastie Boys. So let’s just go ahead and recognize them everywhere. Hip Hop Honors, Rock and Roll, Walk of Fame, Grand Old Opry…go for it.

When I found out that Adam Yauch—MCA, he’s got a license to kill—wasn’t going to be able to attend the ceremony because he was too ill, my heart sank. I knew he’d been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, because the Beasties had to cancel their tour and postpone their album. Somehow, though, once the incredible Hot Sauce Committee was finally released last year, the general assumption was that Yauch was alright. That he was going to be OK. He even directed the video for “Make Some Noise.”

And now he’s gone. I’m glad that induction ceremony happened when it did.

I blogged about that video just over a year ago, and I said this about it: “The new Beastie Boys video reminds me of how deeply satisfying it is to have been their fan for about 27 years now. They just never disappoint!” That’s the truth. I was lucky enough to see the Beastie Boys live a few times over the course of those 27 years in various stages of their career, and they were awesome. Life and energy and power and happiness and FUN.

I’ve had the “Who’s your favorite Beastie?” discussion many times with many people, and the general consensus always seems to wind up being all of them. But if you break it down, you do it a little like the Beatles—and Yauch was the George Harrison of the Beasties. Maybe you wanted to date Ad-Rock and party with Mike D, but MCA is the one you wanted to get deep with. He’s the one you wanted to philosophize about life with over a nice vegan dinner. He’s the one you wanted to talk to about art and New York and basketball and Buddhism. MCA, what up?

Two big things happened in my musical world in 1989: The Cure released Disintegration, and the Beastie Boys put out Paul’s Boutique. I have never listened to two records more than I did those over the next few years. 23 years later, they are both in my top five all-time favorite albums. The Beastie Boys never have never had a low point, but they have had a high—and that was it. Paul’s Boutique moved the bar for progressive, innovative rap music so high that I don’t think anyone can ever top it. Even Miles Davis called it the greatest album ever made. By anyone. Ever.

Even though there’s no video, I have to include the “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” here. It’s the greatest 12 minutes in the entire history of hip hop. MCA has the coolest part, of course—the “Year and a Day” section that kicks in at the 3-minute mark.

If the Cure were the soundtrack of my teenage isolation and anger, and Morrissey is the soundtrack of my adult disappointment with life, the Beastie Boys are the ongoing soundtrack to friendship, fun, and good times. They’re the sound of skate parks, hair dye, cool sneakers and cute boys. The Beastie Boys made me want to move to Brooklyn.

When I grieve over the loss of a person like MCA—someone I didn’t know—what I’m really grieving on a personal level is the recognition of lost eras of my life. Friendships that went by the wayside, people I did know who have passed on, and the realization that I’ll probably never feel that way about a group or artist that I might discover as an adult.

Adam Yauch was bigger than just the music, though, and over the next few days there will be lots of tributes to him and the other work he did (creating the Free Tibet Music Festival, directing tons of videos for the Beasties, making a movie about high school basketball players, and so on). This is just about me, really, and about losing another one of my musical heroes and another slice of my personal soundtrack. My heart goes out to Yauch’s wife and daughter, as well as to Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, who I know must be feeling the loss of their brother in a heavy, heavy way.

Here are a few of my favorite Beastie Boys moments out of so many. And all of these videos were directed by MCA, of course…Nathanial Hörnblowér, Adam Yauch from Brooklyn, Yauch with his fisheye lens, Yauch with his close-ups and his hoodie and his gravely voice and his beard like a billy goat.

Good times, good man. Thank you.

So here’s the thing: As I’ve mentioned before, I am the Manhattan Nest super-PAC. As such, I would be remiss in my obligations if I did not inform you that a certain someone I like to call Daniel (because that’s his name) has made it to the final round in Apartment Therapy’s 8th Annual Small Cool Home Contest!! Apartment Therapy runs this contest every year, and the goal is to highlight the best in small-scale living. Daniel’s apartment clocks in at 614 square feet of awesome, and it’s by far the coolest apartment in the running. For real. And I’m not just saying that.

Need a refresher of how much work Daniel has put into his little rental apartment this part year? Here you go. YEAH. So let’s go help this kid win FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Go here to vote for ‘Daniel’s Amazing Bones’ to win Small Cool 2012!

Remember, even if you marked Daniel as a favorite in the semi-finals, you still need to cast a vote for the WINNER in the finals. If you don’t already have an account, make one. It’s easy. Goodnight, and thank you.

All photos by Maxwell Tielman.