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Photo: ‘Open All Night, East Village, NYC’ by Shawn Hoke

I woke up this morning to the sad news—delivered by the excellent EV Grieve blog—that Yaffa Cafe has officially ceased to exist. EV Grieve had previously reported that their iconic St. Mark’s Place mural had, bizarrely, been covered by a Google ad, with a follow-up that its closure was temporary pending necessary renovations and the possible elimination of the back garden. “Closed for renovations” is almost never a good sign to see in a window in NYC (How many places reopen after closing “for renovations”?), but Yaffa is an East Village mainstay. Through all of the upheaval and turnover of St. Mark’s Place over the past couple of decades, it has held on, twinkling Christmas lights ablaze, open all nite—and day. I truly believed it would reopen.

The first time I went to Yaffa Cafe was in the summer of 1992. My friend Brian, who I’d met several years earlier through the penpal section in a Cure fanzine, was dating a very cool girl who lived in lower Manhattan. I was a high school student in upstate New York at the time, and solo trips to NYC—ones that didn’t involve going to see my father—were still a relatively new thing for me. We all met up at one of her friend’s apartments on the Lower East Side (it was a beautiful dump, that apartment, the kind of wonderfully cheap, unrenovated pre-war space that’s now next to impossible to find), and it was decided that we should go to Yaffa for brunch. I think we went back three times over the next 48 hours. A $4 sunshine burger platter with a salad (and that glorious carrot dressing!) was just as delicious at 2AM as it was at 4PM, so why not?

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Photo: ‘New York, 2012′ by Mark & Andrea Busse

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Photo: Yaffa Cafe

I fell in love with Yaffa at first sight. The decor was exactly how I wanted my bedroom to look: ’80s thrift store curbside postpunk Rococo dirtbag Pee-wee’s Playhouse-meets-Victorian brothel glamor. As Jeremiah Moss describes it, “The place hasn’t really changed since 1987. The booths are upholstered in leopard and zebra print, the fabric rotting from years of wear. The walls are covered in various wallpapers—fruit, vegetables, flowers. Plastic grapes hang from the ceiling. And there’s also this.” Ahh, the hypnotic oil fountain. How I loved thee. Out back, there was a magical garden that seemed impossibly removed from the rest of the city.

The patrons were just as thrilling as the interior. Punks, goths, queens, freaks and weirdos, laughing together, drinking tea and eating fries. It felt like heaven to teenage Anna, like what I imagined life in NYC would resemble for me someday. And so, Yaffa became a staple for me. My place, my people. When I was in college just north of the city, I’d take the Metro North train down all the time to see bands. Back then it seemed like shows never let out until well past the last train back to White Plains, so there as a lot of time to kill until morning. Countless nights were spent over cheesecake and coffee at Yaffa, waiting for the sun to come up and signal a sleep-deprived subway ride to Grand Central.

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Photo: ‘Yaffa Cafe, 1995′ by Leo London

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Yaffa Cafe never stopped feeling like a special place to me. A few years ago, my friend Jenna and I went to see Echo & the Bunnymen together, and there was no question that the only place that made sense for a pre-show dinner was Yaffa. Jenna wrote great a blog post about our outing that night, and reading it now fills me with so many bittersweet feelings. What other thing in NYC has been a part of my life for so many years? Certainly no other restaurant. I think the last time I was at Yaffa was about a year ago, with Evan—that’s when I took the photo above. We went after seeing Johnny Marr play around the corner at Webster Hall. The sunshine burger was just as good as ever, and I was still in love with the red lights, the floral wallpaper, the dusty plastic grapes, the crazy zebra contact paper on the tables, and the drawings of naked ladies in the bathroom. I still kind of want my bedroom to look like that. Yaffa was a constant, unchanging comfort of a place. I am so very sad to see it go.

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Photos: Yaffa Cafe

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To the non-New Yorkers (non-Brooklynites, really) reading this, I apologize in advance. This is a location-specific lament and farewell that I don’t expect to resonate with you. I’m writing this for myself, and for my Brooklyn neighbors—past and present.

Yesterday, workers started dismantling the Kentile Floors sign that has risen eight stories above the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus for the past 65 years. The demise of the Kentile company itself in the mid-’90s is its own story, and this isn’t about that. This is about that sign.

Seventeen years ago, I graduated from art school, got a job at a publishing company, and moved to Brooklyn. It was a love affair I tried to shake, but which was eventually rekindled. I love South Brooklyn, and for all the years I’ve lived here, the F has been my subway line—first in Cobble Hill, then in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, then DUMBO…and then back to Cobble Hill. The F train, for all its problems, is great for me. It stops under my office building (literally—I don’t even have to go outside to get to my desk), and it’s a 7 minute walk from my apartment. It also makes stops in the West Village and on the Lower East Side! It’s my favorite train line.

Just past my stop in Brooklyn, the F train goes above ground as it approaches the Smith & 9th station, the highest point in the entire NYC transit system. It runs above the Gowanus Canal, and, if you stay on it long enough, you’ll eventually wind up in Coney Island. As someone with a tendency to fall asleep on any form of mass transit (except airplanes, annoyingly), being awakened by daylight suddenly flooding my subway car means one thing: I missed my stop. The upside of going a little too far is that I get to see the Kentile Floors sign, which is, if you pardon my many tangents, the subject of this post.

I’ve taken many, many photos of the Kentile sign (including the one at the top of this post) over the years, as has just about everyone else with a camera or phone who’s found themselves in its presence. As hyperbolic as this might sound, it’s a majestic sight. Brooklyn isn’t as tall as Manhattan (though it’s definitely getting taller), and when you look across the industrial landscape that is Gowanus, the Kentile sign lets you know you are in Brooklyn. You’re home! It’s a symbol of place. And yes, it’s beautiful—those huge slab serifs, that extended T, the steel support grid that looks like a line drawing against the sky…

The Kentile Floors sign is going away. The owner of the warehouse beneath the sign believes that doing the work necessary to ensure its stability isn’t worth the the cost, so he’s getting rid of it. The DOB issued a permit, and that was that. Fortunately, the owner has agreed to donate the sign to the Gowanus Alliance, who have pledged to find a new location for it. Fingers crossed that it’s visible from the F train.

There’s a been some talk out there over the past couple of weeks about how the upset over the demise of the Kentile sign is nothing more than some kind of forced, misguided nostalgia for a time when Brooklyn factories made asbestos tiles that killed people. You know what? That’s a bunch of nonsense. There is nostalgia involved, yes, but it’s not about the Kentile company or about a yearning for the past. It’s a very real sadness that an iconic part of the landscape of South Brooklyn is going away, and that our journeys home will never look the same. It’s an aesthetic sadness, too, as we say goodbye to more and more of these giant steel and neon beauties every year. It hurts… and the world becomes a little less beautiful. I love old signs, and I’ve been documenting them for a couple of decades now. They are everyday examples of how design relates to environment. Signage is an enormously important part of the industrial history of this country, yes, but also of the changing aesthetics of commercial design.

Later tonight, my friend Jill and I are heading over to the Smith & 9th station for one last Kentile hurrah. Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic is going to project video onto the sign (what remains of it, at least—could they really not have waited one more day?), making it appear to be illuminated one last time. They did the same thing in the spring, and Barry Yanowitz made this great video.

Goodbye, Kentile Floors sign. Thanks for welcoming me to Brooklyn so many times. I hope I get to see you again someday, even if I have to sleep through my stop to do it.

My first apartment — rented when I moved off-campus after my sophomore year of college — was not in New York City. It was in Yonkers, a city often (wrongly) assumed to be part of NYC, probably because of Neil Simon. It is true that if I walked out of my apartment on McLean Avenue and crossed the street, I’d officially be in the Bronx, but my heart knew I was technically in Westchester County. It wasn’t until I finished school a couple of years later that I finally got myself to Brooklyn. My dad, who lived on the Upper East Side and on Staten Island when I was a kid, had moved back to Manhattan by then. Aside from Coney Island, Brooklyn was still mostly uncharted territory for me. A couple of my brothers were living in Cobble Hill, and I’d visited each of their apartments exactly once before deciding I wanted to live in the same neighborhood. If I’m being honest, there was one particular thing about the house on Henry Street I wound up moving into that really got me excited: It was a block and a half away from Cammareri Bros., the bakery for which Nicolas Cage and Danny Aiello’s characters in Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck (Ronny and Johnny Cammareri, of course) are named and in the basement oven-room of which Cher first meets her “wolf without a foot.”

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(“Now” photo via Google Earth)

Yes, Cammareri Bros. was a real bakery! It closed down soon after I moved to the neighborhood and later reopened in a different location, and the space (along with its next door neighbor, formerly the Little Chatter Box Beauty Salon) has since been occupied by a series of cafés, currently Maybelle’s, who, it’s worth mentioning, make a mean tofu scramble and an even meaner iced coffee. Both the interior and exterior are still pretty much the same as in the Cammareri days, and a portion of the old bakery sign is displayed inside. If you go, make sure you look at the floor when you first walk in — an inlay of the letters “NC” (for Nicolo Cammareri, who opened the bakery in 1921) remain in the old terrazzo floor.

EDIT: While checking on the spelling of his name, I came across Nicolo Cammareri’s 1940 US Census record. Pretty neat, right? 206 Sackett is the address of the side entrance, which leads to the apartments above. Also interesting that he had a daughter named Grace — there was an elderly Italian woman on my block named Grace. She used to sign for packages for me when I was at work, and she had a Frank Sinatra shrine in her apartment. She passed away around 2000. If she was born in 1915 like the census record indicates, that would have put her in her mid-80s when I lived there. I wonder if she was Nicolo Cammareri’s daughter! Further investigation needed…

The first time I saw Moonstruck was 25 years ago, with my mother, in a movie theater in Kingston. I was 12 years old. I remember loving it, naturally, but I mostly remember the specifics of the night because my mother’s car got a flat tire when we were driving back to Rhinebeck after the movie. Another thing that sticks in my mind from that first viewing is the breakfast Olympia Dukakis prepared:

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I had never seen anything like that before, but it looked so delicious. I asked my mother to recreate the dish at home, and up until I stopped eating eggs a few years ago, it remained a breakfast favorite for me. For all these years I’d assumed it was an Italian dish, but Googling tells me it’s usually either called “eggs in a hole” or “eggs in a basket,” and everyone everywhere knows what it is — except for Swedes and Jews, apparently, because I’m quite sure it would never have been a part of my life without that scene in Moonstruck. (As an aside, I see that V.K.Rees has come up with a recipe for vegan-friendly eggless eggs in a basket, which I will definitely have to try out ASAP.)

In the years since that first viewing, I’d guess I’ve seen Moonstruck at least 30 times in part or full. Beyond its Brooklyn-ness, it’s just a fantastic movie. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of that, though, because pretty much every human alive has seen it. (And if for some crazy reason you haven’t, it’s on HBO GO right now. You can also rent it from Amazon Instant. It’s not on Netflix, of course, because nothing you want to watch is ever on Netflix.) Aside from Cher’s old face and Nicolas Cage’s old hairline, I’ve always had this fixation with the kitchen in the Castorini family house — which, if you ever want to take a Moonstruck walking tour, is located at 19 Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights, about a mile from formerly-Cammareri’s. For years I’ve carried around a mental picture of its soft green hues, vintage subway tiles and the overall feeling of a family gathering place. Today I decided to watch the movie again specifically for the kitchen, and to finally take some screen captures.

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Two things I noticed for the first time when I was taking the screen captures were the painted-over cabinet hardware and the laminate countertops, neither of which are hallmarks of gorgeous vintage kitchens, but are indicative of the fact that this movie was filmed in an actual family home, and not on a set built for a movie. The same goes for that flocked vinyl tablecloth on the kitchen table. I guess I just overlooked that stuff the first 29 times I watched the movie! Regardless, the kitchen is beautiful, and it’s full of life. And that tile!! Ahhh, the tile. It doesn’t come through in the captures, but it’s covered with cracks and crazing. 19 Cranberry was built in 1829 so it’s not original to the house (tiled kitchens didn’t become standard until the Victorian era), but it’s clearly very old. The house sold in 2008 for nearly $4 million, and thankfully the listing photos don’t show the kitchen — I don’t think I could bear to find out if it had been gutted.

(Or you know, to discover the whole thing was actually shot on a soundstage in Toronto. Shhhhhh.)

Meanwhile, back at Cammareri Bros.…

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In the movie, Ronny’s apartment is above the bakery. The entrance was on the Sackett Street side of the building, to the right of the stairs that led to the basement ovens. I’m almost positive that’s where the apartment interior was actually filmed. I have a distant memory of a friend who used to live in the neighborhood telling me so. Judging by the position of the windows and the color of the façades visible across the street, I’m guessing it’s on the second floor of the building, with the living room facing Henry Street. In any case, this is pretty much exactly what a classic pre-war Brooklyn apartment has always looked like in my mind. Ironically, the closest I’ve ever come to finding a rental apartment in this kind of vintage condition was my first place in Yonkers! I love the beadboard, the pressed-tin in the kitchen and the moldings on the walls. And that old refrigerator with its non-safety handle, just waiting to trap small children inside when it gets put out for trash…sigh. Also, I don’t know if this is intentional, but I love that the color of the Vespa (used for storing books!) is the same as the cabinets in the Castorini kitchen.

I wonder who lives in this apartment now, and if it still looks like this. I hope so. Yesterday I stood outside the entrance for a little while, waiting to see if anyone would come out. Not that I would’ve said anything to them, but you know…just to see. Now that I live in the neighborhood again, I can do all the Moonstruck-stalking I want.

Morrissey in a frameless frame

For the past 22 years, I’ve been dragging this giant Morrissey poster around with me everywhere I’ve lived — and I’ve lived in a lot of places. It’s done a few stints rolled up in a closet (not for any loss of love for Morrissey, mind you), but it always winds up back on the wall again. One of the first things I thought about when we rented the new apartment was, “Where is Morrissey’s head going to go?”

I’ve never had it in a frame, and the damage it’s incurred as a result is really starting to show. When you’re 15 years old and sticking up a Morrissey poster with Fun-Tak and pushpins and taping the back when it inevitably falls a million times, you’re not thinking about someday being 37 years old and still having that same poster on your wall. At some point I made the switch from tape and tacks to Jørgen Møller’s Posterhanger, which did work well for a few years. It’s a good design, but I think this post is just too big and heavy — it’s about 4×5′, which is pretty darned large and unwieldy. Morrissey started falling again, so I rolled him up and vowed to be a REAL GROWN UP and get him framed properly once and for all.

There’s a very well-rated frame store right near the apartment, so one evening Evan and I popped in to get a quote. I had braced myself for it to be around $600, thinking that if I prepared for the worst I’d be pleasantly surprised when the quote came in lower.

Well, the quote did not come in lower. For the most basic framing option in the simplest frame, the quote was — wait for it — $1300. Yes. I guess I’ve been spoiled by years of cramming stuff into cheap RIBBA frames from IKEA, but I was totally caught off guard. I glazed over immediately and tried to politely listen to the rest of the spiel from the framer before I apologized for wasting her time and left. The other thing I learned was because my reckless teenage self fixed the poster’s tears by putting tape all over the back, it’s not a candidate for reinforcement options like dry-mounting or linen backings. Boooooooo.

At that point, I figured I had four options: (1) Learn how to frame stuff, buy the necessary tools and materials, and frame it myself; (2) Become really good friends with someone who owns a framing shop and then put them in a horrible position where they owe me a huge favor; (3) Order a cheap framing kit online that I’ll never really be happy with; or (4) Slap something together with spare parts and call it a day. I chose option #4.

So here you have it! A couple of lattice strips cut to size, two thumbtacks (inserted through the back of the poster and into the lattice — one at the center top, and one at the bottom) and four binder clips. Done! No, it’s not fancy, and yes, someday I’d still like to have the poster framed by a skilled framing professional who knows what they’re doing, but for now this is totally fine. It’s not going to fall, rip or sag, and that’s all I really care about.

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Side bonus! Here’s a quick review of me and “Our Frank” over the years. I wish I had more pictures of my bedrooms in the ’90s, but such are the realities of life before digital cameras and iPhones. Despite the passing of years, my love for Morrissey remains as strong as the cut of his 30″ jawline. (He’s even in my bio now!)

Our Frank

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Michael and Jermaine during rehearsals for “Motown 25,” 1983 / Photo © NBC, via MJJpictures

On March 25, 1983, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was recorded live for a TV broadcast two months later. That broadcast would mark the moment that we all saw Michael Jackson moonwalk for the first time. I was 7 years old at the time, and it was a huge, HUGE deal. There wasn’t a lot of television happening in my house back then so I didn’t see it until a few days later at a friend’s house, but the next day back at school? EVERYONE was talking about it. Everyone. I even remember my teacher saying something. In retrospect, this wasn’t Michael’s best moonwalk*, but it was such a cry of independence and a display of pure magic that it’s impossible to ignore its significance.

*In my opinion, Michael’s best moonwalk happened at the MTV awards in 1995 during this sequence. Whoa. Shivers!

I knew I had done my best and felt good, so good. But at the same time I felt disappointed in myself. I had planned to do one really long spin and to stop on my toes, suspended for a moment, but I didn’t stay on my toes as long as I wanted. I did the spin and I landed on one toe. I wanted to just stay there, just freeze there, but it didn’t work quite as I’d planned.

When I got backstage, the people back there were congratulating me. I was still disappointed about the spin. I had been concentrating so hard and I’m such a perfectionist. At the same time I knew this was one of the happiest moments of my life. I knew that for the first time my brothers had really gotten a chance to watch me and see what I was doing, how I was evolving. After the performance, each of them hugged and kissed me backstage. They had never done that before, and I felt happy for all of us. It was so wonderful when they kissed me like that. I loved it! I mean, we hug all the time. My whole family embraces a lot, except for my father. He’s the only one who doesn’t.

[…]

The day after the Motown 25 show, Fred Astaire called me on the telephone. He said – these are his exact words – “You’re a hell of a mover. Man, you really put them on their asses last night.” That’s what Fred Astaire said to me. I thanked him. Then he said, “You’re an angry dancer. I’m the same way. I used to do the same thing with my cane.”

I had met him once or twice in the past, but this was the first time he had ever called me. He went on to say, “I watched the special last night; I taped it and I watched it again this morning. You’re a hell of a mover.”

It was the greatest compliment I had ever received in my life, and the only one I had ever wanted to believe.

✚ Excerpted from Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, 1988

I’m not sure when this photo was taken. 1977? 1978? I’m so bad at determining the ages of children younger than 10. I think I must be 2 or 3 years old here, right? I had a dream about this photo last night. Well, not about the photo itself, but about the scene it depicts. I remember that set of wooden building blocks so clearly. They were stained in primary colors, and the finish was translucent enough that you could make out the grain of the wood. The one with the arch in it was my favorite—you could use it to make tunnels or boats, depending on which way you turned it. I do remember feeling annoyed that the arch wasn’t tall enough to roll a Matchbox car underneath it, though.

I think my dream might have been induced by a conversation I had yesterday with a cousin I hadn’t seen more than 30 years. He said he remembered playing with toy cars with me on the living room carpet at my aunt and uncle’s house when I was 4 or 5 years old—he must have been in his late teens or early 20s at the time. Now I can’t get the feeling of sitting on the floor in that room out of my head…the soft greige color of the carpet, the fire burning nearby, Alice the dog looking on.

So much of my life has been spent on the floor. As the perpetual baby of the family—at least until my nieces and nephews came along—I was always relegated to sitting on the floor instead of getting a prime spot on the sofa. I don’t think I minded. On the floor you can stretch out your legs. You can crawl under the coffee table and make a little house. If there’s a dog or a cat around, you’re right at their level. You have infinite work space. You can play with your blocks, draw and watch “The Muppet Show,” all at the same time.

My love of working on the floor carried on into my teenage years, when my mother would ask with concern if I was going to hurt my back by sitting hunched over a notebook with my legs in a V-formation while I did my math homework. Desks were worthless for anything other than piling up papers. In college, I’d set up camp on the floor in a corner of the library with all of my books spread out around me when I needed to study for an exam. We had easels in figure drawing class, but even then I preferred to take floor position. It just felt better.

Now that I’m a Real Adult with a Real Job, I have to work at a desk. It’s still a little weird to me that I sit in a chair and wear shoes all day. I guess computers don’t translate to floor usage very well, do they? My back couldn’t handle it anyway.

Having been forced to leave Brooklyn because of Sandy (and feeling more than a bit useless as a result—I am eager to get back and help my community there), I’ve been effectively Newburgh-bound for the past week. My friend Jen from the lovely blog Honey Kennedy is here with me, as her long-planned vacation in NYC was completely upended by the storm. We decided to get ourselves out of the house for a bit and take a drive north up to my hometown, Rhinebeck.

We drove up on the east side of the Hudson River and stopped off at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park along the way. The estate is open to the public, and even though I’ve been there many times in my life (admittedly most of them prior to age 13—that’s just how it is when you grow up in the Hudson Valley), I’ve never really taken it all in through adult (am I an adult?) eyes. So beautiful.

We got to Rhinebeck in the late afternoon. The skies had turned gray and drizzly, my favorite kind of light. Our fall foliage season seems to be dragging on for longer than usual this year, and there are still plenty of red, orange and yellow leaves hanging around. As much as I detested Rhinebeck as a teenager (and as much as I am grateful to live in cities with far greater diversity as an adult), it is nice to go back there every now and then. It’s sort of like a storybook idea of a small town, with block after block of perfectly-maintained houses built in the 1800s, slate sidewalks, smoke shop Indians, and tiny restaurants that close when the sun goes down.

Even though I’ve now lived away from Rhinebeck longer than I lived there, it’s still the only place where I don’t need to rely on my shoddy (non-)sense of direction. I know the roads of the village like the back of my hand. It feels like home. It’s hard for me to admit that. I guess I have a few places that feel like home to me.

A dusty purple house on South Street, my favorite cemetery, the Johnson’s old house on South Parsonage, Foster’s Coach House Tavern (I had French fries and red wine)…and a few Instagrams, too. I lived in that little red house until I was 17 and left for college. Every time I go back to Rhinebeck I’m happy to see it’s still red.

I dunno. I guess it’s just a thing with most people’s hometowns, right? They seem so much nicer after you leave.

Last night I went to see New Order at Roseland with Jenna. New Order are one of my favorite bands, but I’d only seen live them once before last night, and that was 7 years ago. Prior to their 2005 tour, the last time they played in NYC was in 1987, and, well, I wasn’t going to New Order concerts when I was 12, you know? So this show was a big deal. It’s really important for me to see the bands I care the most about live, preferably multiple times.

Much has been made of the fact that bassist extraordinaire Peter Hook (who effectively left New Order in 2006) was not along for this tour, and I will admit I felt a bit skeptical going in as to whether it would still feel like a New Order show. Let me assure you: It did. I’ve seen New Order with Hooky, Hooky without New Order (when he toured last year performing Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures in its entirety), and now New Order without Hooky. As sad as it is that the JD/NO unit is no longer intact, Tom Chapman is doing an excellent job in Peter Hook’s absence. I can only imagine how overwhelming it must feel to fill in for such a legendary musician from an iconic band, so hats off to Tom!

Oh, and also: STEPHEN MORRIS. The man is a machine (sometimes literally). It’s too bad that you don’t really get to SEE drummers much at concerts unless they’re Phil Collins, because I’d have loved to be able to watch Morris play. I’m not one of those people who gets all worked up about stuff like awesome drummers (I tend to just absorb music as a whole, probably because I’m not a musician), either.

OK, I’m babbling now. This is why I shy away from writing reviews of anything, especially music.

To the point, the show was GREAT. And by great I mean it was truly excellent. Jenna and I both had a really good time. The setlist was pretty much perfect, the light show/projections were AMAZING, and Barney’s energy was totally contagious. I was bouncing and clapping and dancing and generally looking stupid but not caring—and that’s really what it’s all about. New Order make the kind of music that’s perfect in crowds, and not dancing really isn’t an option. One of the first things I said to Jenna when we walked out is that the show kind of made me feel like going out to clubs again. I don’t think I really mean that, but just in case, I’m keeping my eye on Thursday nights at the Pyramid Club.

I finally took some photos of the new apartment that aren’t iPhone snapshots! We rented this place three months ago, and since then I’ve really been struggling to make it feel right and OK. Even though the building the apartment is more than 120 years old, the interior was completely gutted a year ago. It’s just such a sharp contrast to our fixer-upper Victorian house (not to mention just about every apartment I’ve rented previously), and it feels very hotel-like to me. I’ve tried to compensate by treating it like a dorm room!

I do like how the bedroom is looking, and really, even just having a separate bedroom is a wonderful improvement over our old studio. Evan and I often operate on very different schedules, so there’s no telling how many humans (or dogs) will be in the apartment or the house on a given day or night. Having a distinct area for sleeping makes everything feel a bit more normal for everyone.

Sorry all of these photos look kind of the same! The bedroom is really only about 10’x10′, which is pretty tiny. It’s hard to stand far enough away to really get good shots, but I tried my best.

The “reversed-socks” table is pretty cute, right? It’s from West Elm, but I think it’s discontinued because it was a floor sample clearance item. That awesome lamp is by Brendan Ravenhill, and the cloud pillow came from La Casita. The cross blanket, of course, is by Pia Wallén. Daniel and Valeria at Hindsvik made the big ampersand. Oh! And the bed itself is a discontinued model from IKEA.

I’m in love with that acid green-footed candlestick. I rarely go into Bo Concept, but I spied this guy through the window recently and ran in for a better look. It’s part of a whole collection. Don’t they look great all in a row? And yeah, I did try to spruce up the ugly built-in heating/air-conditioning unit with some neon washi tape. I don’t know if it’s helping, but it was a fun way to spend 30 seconds! That great print was made by my friend Lisa Congdon. I was with Lisa and Victoria when I bought that little bowl at Marimekko (the new flagship store in NYC is wonderful!). I keep my jewelry in it at night.

I keep meaning to blog about that “alarm clock.” It’s actually just a block of wood with no electronic parts! It was designed by Jonas Damon for Areaware (it comes in a bunch of colors now, too—when I bought mine this was the only option), and it’s really just an iPhone stand. You can run a cord through the back so you can charge your phone while using it like a flip clock! They have an app that you can download and everything. Very cool, especially for people like me who use already use their iPhones as alarm clocks.

I’m really, really happy with this shelving. We only keep a handful of books at the apartment at any given time (the big “library” lives at the house), but I was getting tired of having little stacks of books and DVDs gathering dust on the floor. The shelves are comprised of two sets of steel EXBY OXIE brackets from IKEA ($20 for two) and six EKBY TRYGGVE pine shelves ($3 each). Grand total? $58 for a pretty substantial amount of shelving that looks good and doesn’t take up most space. The brackets are so great. I’m sure IKEA will discontinue them soon since they’re one of those “sleeper” items that doesn’t get much notice, so I might have to stock up on a few more sets just in case.

And yes, the Morrissey poster! I bought it exactly 20 years ago at Rhino Records in New Paltz. It’s been hanging on my wall in the vicinity of my bed ever since. Much like the Smiths poster on the dining room mantel at the house, it’s a constant. I loved these things when I was 16 years old, and I love them now at 36. I think teenagers have an inherently good sense of what makes you feel good in your own space, and I’ve tried not to lose that as I’ve gotten older. Too often grown-ups get sucked into the idea that their homes need to look “adult” or sophisticated or whatever. Not me! I say bring on the giant Morrissey heads, the over-sized ampersands, and the stuffed cloud pillows.

So here’s the thing: I love to dance. I do not, however, love to dance in public—and really, that’s the best thing for everyone. My dancing style includes some Elaine Benes moves in a totally non-ironic way, and nobody needs to see that. I try to contain myself when I’m around others.

If I’m home alone (the dogs don’t count—they think I’m an awesome dancer!), though, all bets are off. I’m feeling a little under the weather right now and I just happen to be the only one in the apartment, so I thought I’d put together a little old-school mixtape and get down with my bad self. I’ll close the blinds first, don’t worry.

Previous Mixes:
+ Summertime Jams
+ Friendship Bracelets
+ Teen Goth Nite
+ HUSTLE

You can find and follow me on 8tracks as doorsixteen.