Omotesando Koffee

I just polished off my take away stash of Omotesando Koffee beans this morning. Grumpy-nostalgic. When we were in Tokyo this September, Lili and I had the startling good fortune to stay in an Airbnb dynamic directly around the corner from this jewel which, dispite the aroma, took us days to notice because we were so distracted by the grass field across the way. The coffee was superb, as was the one perfect snack—baked custard cubes. Missing Tokyo jewels and hot coffee on a hot day.

Food in Japan

We have been eating really, really well in Japan, thanks one night to Mike-san Abelson-san of Postalco, who shared a lot of critical information with us. For example, about the sanitary face mask situation round here: Since a flu epidemic in the early 20th century, sanitary face masks have been like sunglasses for your face. OK on a date. Worn both to protect oneself from germs and allergies and as a precautionary courtesy to prevent others from obtaining your sickness. Unlike every single other thing here, they are never bedazzled.

Also Nile has been spraining her neck bone major throwing up the peace claws, just like a local. Blast times! Thanks Mike!

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas & my fantasies in Philly

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: I am in it (proposed “author photograph” for proposed “journalistic career” by Alisa).


A few years ago, Joan Gardner advised that I learn about Isaiah Zagar’s work by passing along his son Jeremiah’s beautiful and intense film, In A Dream. To see the Magic Garden in real life feels the same way. Thank you, Joan.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

Three for Nilecat in Philly

Two Figures-Sphinx   Lenna Glackens   1922

Two Figures-Sphinx
Lenna Glackens

How come people only medium suggest going to The Barnes Collection? The Barnes is fantastic! Even with all the blowsy Renoirs, even on a Friday night when they have a guest African dance-a-long performance blasting from the atrium, it’s still fantastic! Part of the fun here is imagining what this fellow Dr. Albert C. Barnes was thinking when he collected all these paintings, sculptures, ancient artifacts, early American furniture, Navaho chief’s blankets, late 18th century iron door hinges, and other things he was into and then assembled them as he did, all together. I also found myself anxiously thinking of what all the anxious conservators were thinking as they measured the dimensions of each room of his home and his arrangements before transferring the collection and replicating the whole deal in the city down to one-sixteenth of an inch. That job and these three images reminded me of my friend Nile.

Two sweet drawings by Lenna Glackens (here’s the other one) especially got me thinking about this oddball Barnes. I like them and I really like that he included them in the mix along with many painting and drawings by her father, William James Glackens, who helped Barnes form the collection. From one oddball to another, the clothing on, clothing off deal reminds me of Goya’s naked vs. clothes Mayas and the bottom figure reminds me of Wyeth’s Christina’s World. Lenna was 9 when she drew these minxy sphinxes.

“A Montrouge”–Rosa La Rouge   Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec   1886–1887

“A Montrouge”–Rosa La Rouge
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Also a Wyeth woman foreshadow. This one, Helga.

Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate   Hans von Kulmbach   c. 1510–1520

Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate
Hans von Kulmbach
c. 1510–1520

According to Chelidonius: “Overjoyed Anne threw herself into the arms of her husband; together they rejoiced about the honour that was to be granted them in the form of a child. For they knew from the heavenly messenger that the child would be a Queen, powerful on heaven and on earth”. I gather that lots of expectant parents feel this way, and so did the Virgin Mary’s folks. To me though, Anne has got that labor look. Maybe she was one of those mysterious mamas who didn’t realize she was pregnant til her water broke and she’s having to break the news and deliver her baby all at once. But what do I know?!

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog