Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’
October 13, 2011 | by Rachael Maddux
“Close your eyes,” the man told us, and we did. “If you died today, do you know for sure if you would go to heaven? If you don’t, raise your hand.” When my hand curled slowly into the air, two strangers rushed over to me, kneeling one on either side of my metal folding chair, as if I’d just been struck down on a busy street. They greeted me in warm, soft tones. One opened a small leather-bound book and ran her fingers along the close-set type, then inclined the page towards me. She underlined a passage with her fingernail and commanded me to read it.
For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord, and believe in your own heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation.
At my feet, the two strangers blinked up at me expectantly. “I think I misunderstood the question,” I lied, because I hadn’t. Read More »
January 6, 2011 | by Gemma Sieff
This is the second installment of Sieff’s culture diary. Click here to read part 1.
11:00 A.M. This copy of Innocence comes from Adam’s Books, a used bookstore on Bergen Street in Brooklyn that has since closed. The volume was, in a previous incarnation, a gift and carries an inscription:
I hope you enjoy this gift. But I must tell you now, while everyone’s watching, that I have a gift to give you when we are alone that will lead to something even grander and more sublime than this novel, or any work of art for that matter. I am thinking of touching you now, watching you while you read this inscription.
Your hulking, sometimes brilliant and temperamental, boyfriend. You are my only baby.
I love you
By the way—this title is appropriate given the theme of the fall in our relationship.
This couple actually seems kind of sweet. One wonders why she chucked the book—but it doesn’t mean they didn’t get married. She could have been having an Archer moment. “The message inside the envelope … ran as follows: ‘Parents consent wedding Tuesday after Easter at twelve Grace Church eight bridesmaids please see Rector so happy love May.’ Archer crumpled up the yellow sheet as if the gesture could annihilate the news it contained.” Yet there he is on his wedding day with the old ladies in their “faded sables and yellowing ermines,” observing every ritual and “formality … which made of a nineteenth-century New York wedding a rite that seemed to belong to the dawn of history.”
December 24, 2010 | by The Paris Review
If Christmas is now a thoroughly domesticated ritual—gifts beneath the tree, cookies and milk for Santa—Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas reminds us that it wasn’t always so. The Puritans of Massachusetts outlawed the holiday (since it was obviously just the pagan solstice in disguise), and until the mid-nineteenth century it was mostly an excuse to get drunk and hit the streets. In 1712, Cotton Mather complained: “[T]he Feast of Christ’s Nativity is spent in Reveling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty.” Those were the days. —Robyn Creswell
I discovered a nicely bound anthology edited by W. Somerset Maugham while wading through the holiday shoppers at the Strand. In it, among many other gems, was a series of (charmingly prefaced) epigrams by Hilaire Belloc. My favorite (titled On His Books): “When I am dead, I hope it may be said:/ ‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’” —Stephen Andrew Hiltner
December 23, 2010 | by Nicole Rudick
In 1939, Neiman Marcus published their first Christmas book, a catalogue of extravagant, humorous, astonishing, and often jewel-encrusted gifts. Over the Top: 50 Years of Fantasy Gifts from the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, recently published by Assouline, celebrates the Chinese junks, minisubs, urban windmills, bags of diamonds, sailplanes, animal-shaped desks, Warhol portraits, and Jack Nicklaus custom backyard golf courses that only the top 1 percent could comfortably afford.
The first cover, in 1951, featured artwork by Saul Steinberg, with subsequent covers created by a host of notables, such as Robert Indiana, Ludwig Bemelmans, Al Hirschfeld, Victor Vassarely, Chuck Jones, and Ben Shahn. His & Hers gifts became a frequent staple of outrageous indulgence beginning in 1960 with His & Hers Beechcraft Airplanes ($176,000). Ensuing examples rivaled for the title of most ostentatious: His & Hers Camels (1967; $4,125), His & Hers Hot Air Balloons (1964; $6,850 each), His & Hers Authentic Mummy Cases (1971; $16,000), His & Hers Robots (2003; $400,000), and His & Hers Name Your Own Jewels (1985; $2,000,000).
December 23, 2010 | by Thessaly La Force
On a recent winter afternoon, I sat down for tea with Linda Fargo and David Hoey of Bergdorf Goodman, on the top floor of the store, in the restaurant overlooking southern Central Park. Fargo, who has an immaculate silver bob, is clad in a black Balenciaga dress, capped with a furry Mongolian gilet by Vera Wang, her throat studded with a necklace by a designer named Grazia Bozza, whom she discovered while vacationing in Capri. Hoey is wearing a Band of Outsiders suit—“a journeyman’s vest,” he explains. “It’s a symbol of a real working man who rolls up his sleeves.”
And roll up his sleeves he must, even at Fifth Avenue’s most refined department store. Hoey and Fargo are the masterminds behind Bergdorf’s window displays, and they had invited me to come talk with them about their work and their new book, a $550 lavender-sheathed tome (“Our signature color,” explains Fargo) published by Assouline. Titled Windows of Bergdorf Goodman, the book catalogs more than ten years of their work, interspersed with remarks and witty one-liners from some of Bergdorf's closets friends (Bette Midler, Vogue editor Hamish Bowles, and street photographer Bill Cunningham, to name a few).
December 9, 2010 | by Amanda Hesser
ALL DAY All work, no Internet play.
>1:00 A.M. Time to do some serious reading online. Nah! Read about the Steve Martin imbroglio at the 92nd Street Y. Skip over to a piece on Google and Groupon (best part: Andrew “Mason, Groupon’s chief executive, declined an earlier interview request, adding that he would talk ‘only if you want to talk about my other passion, building miniature dollhouses.’”) Listen to some Beth Orton, which always makes me think of a former boyfriend/jackass, who introduced me to her music—a shame, because I like you Beth!—so I switch to Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara,” a song I love because it scorns the clichéd drum climax interlude. The song builds and builds and never resolves.
Then my surfing goes to a dark place. Read Gawker story on whereabouts of Julian Assange, followed by a New York Times story on the suicide of the suspect in the murder of Ronni Chasen, a Hollywood publicist.
Robert Scoble pulls me from my death spiral. Thank you, man. Listen to his interview with Kevin Systrom, a cofounder of the Internet sensation Instagram. I like listening to company founders tell their stories, although I’m more interested in their tone and salesmanship than what they actually do. Systrom’s was confident, controlling, and mildly dismissive.
Dip my toe into the Times story on obesity surgery. Decide I’d rather think of something besides Lap-Bands before bed … like my to-do list! It’s three pages long and includes items like “Read Wired story on coupons” and “Look up foodie episode of South Park”—plus a whole host of actual work and responsibility, like “Figure out health insurance” and “Sign Addie up for ballet.”