Gina Hyams Author

Monthly Archives: July 2008

My New Old $495 Albino Crocodile Calendar

Lunch today at the new Haven Cafe and Bakery in Lenox (thumbs up) with fellow Berkshire bloggers Paige and Rebecca and their charming husbands.

Paige bestowed upon me and Rebecca swag she’d procured at the Film Independent’s Spirit Awards. She gave me a Mrs. John L. Strong Collector’s Diary and Directory in “bone white,” which looks like albino crocodile skin, and Rebecca one in black. The retail price for these calendars is $495.

The gilded pages are an obscene and fascinating window into an alternate universe where August begins: “IN THE UTTER ABSENCE OF ANY MAJOR SHOWS OR EVENTS, WE SUGGEST YOU TAKE A VACATION. SEE RESORTS, PAGE 371.”

The best part, other than the contact information for wine storage in Beijing and Chicago, searchers for lost/stolen art in London, New York, and Cologne (which they spell Koeln), and various auctions for “important jewels,” “arcade jewels,” and “magnificent jewels,” is the international guide to flower etiquette on page 363. For example:

RUSSIA
RUSSIANS ADORE FLOWERS, AND GIVE THEM ON VIRTUALLY ALL OCCASIONS. SHOULD YOU BE INVITED TO A RUSSIAN HOME, BRINGING FLOWERS FOR THE LADY OF THE HOUSE IS DE RIGEUR. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT FLOWERS ARE ALWAYS GIVEN IN ODD NUMBERS (EXCEPT THIRTEEN), EVEN NUMBERED BOUQUETS ARE USED ONLY IN FUNERALS. AVOID YELLOW AND WHITE FLOWERS (UNLESS PICKED IN THE COUNTRY), AND REMEMBER THAT RED ROSES AND DEEP-COLORED FLOWERS HAVE ROMANTIC TONES. STICK TO PALE PASTELS.

Cover Story, Baby

I wrote the cover story for the latest issue of Berkshire Living BBQ (Berkshire Business Quarterly). The magazine’s website is, ahem, in need of updating, but if you’re curious you can read a few excerpts from the epic (3,000+ word) profile of hotelier-philanthropist Nancy Fitzpatrick on Berkshire Creative’s new blog. The best thing about the story is that it’s mostly actually about the Burning Man gift economy.

What’s My Motivation?

A reporter from the local daily paper contacted me for an article she’s writing on Berkshire bloggers. On one hand I’m flattered, but on the other I’m worried. The question I constantly ask myself as a journalist is: Why does this matter? If I were her interviewing me tomorrow, that’s what I’d be trying to figure out.

I started this blog as a lark seven months ago and 105 posts later am still having a good time and am pleased that the random things I’ve chosen to blog about seem to be of interest to others. As of this evening, the stat counter reports that I’m up to 1,497 returning visitors (out of 3,678 total unique visitors — lots of people obsessed with Jello and/or Daryl Hall). These aren’t huge blogosphere numbers, but considering that I’m only linked to in one place that I know about (a kind stranger in Trinidad), it’s miraculous. If I imagine you all in my backyard, it’s quite a party we have going on here.

So, thanks for showing up. The one thing I’m clear about is that this blog has to stay fun and loose and not become an ambitious, pressurized form of expression for me. If it ever stops feeling like a lark, that’s when I’ll stop.

Inspirational Quote of the Day

“…I believe that if there’s a God — and I am as neutral on the subject as is possible — then the most basic proof of his existence is black humor. What else explains it, that odd reliable comfort that billows up at the worst moments, like a beautiful sunset woven out of the smoke over a bombed out city.”

Corn Query

‘Tis the season and I want to make the most of it. I’ve heard that boiling corn with a splash of milk makes it extra sweet. Do any of you have corn cooking tips or favorite recipes?

Maira Kalman & Rick Meyerowitz at The Mount

I’m super excited about this just-announced event at The Mount this weekend. I worship Maira Kalman.

From the press release…

Saturday, July 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz are illustrators and humorists who are best known for their remarkable New Yorker cover, “New Yorkistan.” They will present a cool, summery refreshment of an illustrated talk featuring some of their work, and also featuring their completely irrelevant musings on Edith Wharton and her times.

Maira Kalman was born in Tel Aviv. She has written and illustrated a dozen children’s books, and illustrated the classic writing manual The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. She has worked for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Interview, Travel and Leisure and many other publications. She is now a medium small journalist at large.

Rick Meyerowitz was born in the Bronx and studied fine arts at Boston University. He was the most prolific contributor of illustrated articles to the National Lampoon magazine. He created the poster for Animal House, and the Lampoon‘s trademark visual, The Mona Gorilla.

Rick’s new book, DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon So Insanely Great, will be published in 2009.

Meyerowitz and Kalman created the most-talked-about New Yorker cover in years, “New Yorkistan,” which was published a month after 9/11. The New York Times wrote, “when their cover came out, a dark cloud seemed to lift.”

The event will take place at The Mount located at 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, Massachusetts and has a cost of $18 if reserved in advance (by 7/25 at 5pm) or $20 at the door. Contact The Mount at 413-551-5104.

I Count My Lucky Stars

Dave and me at the Hotel Trinidad in Merida on our first trip
together to Mexico, 1989.
(Cell phone photo of photo…Santa, I need a new camera…though the blurriness adds a certain historical perspective.)

Seventeen years ago today, we got married at an art gallery in San Francisco’s North Beach with a ceremony officiated by Zen Buddhist Jewish experimental poet Norman Fischer, followed by a potluck dance party at a club called Olive Oil’s on the bay. The wedding invitation was illustrated by our friend Jon Balderston and Xeroxed onto neon yellow paper. It contained relevant wise quotes from Gertrude Stein, the Reverend Al Green, and Prince (“There’s joy in repetition.”). My brother Kris gave us the wedding cake, a French croquembouche tower of cream puffs, studded with violets and cloaked with a haze of spun sugar.

The wedding was perfect at the time and it sealed the deal, however, it’s not what either of us would choose now. We’d elope, followed by a charming letterpress announcement. I’m thinking elope to the Inn of the Five Graces and Dave’s thinking La Casa Que Canta.

Remembering Shelley Jean Schuster Abrahams

Shelley with daughters Lily and Anna

Shelley passed away a year ago today at age 46 of bladder cancer. The local obituaries noted that she left behind a stunned community. Her most recent prognosis had been that she was out of the woods and then suddenly she was dead, leaving behind her beloved daughters and husband Ed, along with hundreds of stunned and shaken friends who packed Hevreh for her funeral. She was a whip smart, funny, strong, generous person, who took the wellbeing of her community extremely seriously.

It was my great good fortune to meet her within weeks of moving to the Berkshires. In her honor, I co-founded the Shelley Memorial Movie Club, which has evolved over the year to be a monthly night out with a group of six moms. We eventually decided to skip the movie and head straight to dinner as we’re all so hungry to talk. I cherish these new friendships and am grateful to Shelley for her legacy.

Purple with a Purpose

Alas, there was a festival board meeting this morning, so I didn’t make it to the farmers’ market. I did, however, splurge on a Purple with a Purpose pedicure at Lucky Nails this afternoon.

The thing I like best about pedicures, other than the excuse to spend a restorative half-hour perusing Vanity Fair, is selecting the nail polish color. I’m fascinated by the fact that for years the bestselling color was OPI’s I’m Not Really a Waitress red. I’ve tried to google my way to the namer of that color to no success, as I’d like to interview them. Anybody know?

Chillin in Her Tipi: Letters Home from Camp

Finally, two letters arrived today that junior mailed a week and a half ago from camp on the west coast. She wrote them while “chillin in [her] tipi” between stilt and tightrope walking classes. She’s fine, of course.

I read an article the other day about the new trend of “kidsick” parents. The expert advised that it’s okay to tell your child that you miss her while she’s at camp, but you’re not supposed to say that the dog misses her, too, and the house is lonely without her. Whoops. But I did send chips in her care package.

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