On Sunday, she took up boxing. On Monday, she got a pedicure. On Tuesday, she had a guy named Joe dip her hair in turquoise blue. I do believe she's found her mojo...
On Sunday, she took up boxing. On Monday, she got a pedicure. On Tuesday, she had a guy named Joe dip her hair in turquoise blue. I do believe she's found her mojo...
Though we like to think of ourselves as a humble people who disdain ostentatious display, there are those occasions that encourage, nay, demand the chest-thumping, post-touchdown hubris inherent in our species. One of these is the presentation of a frosty bottle of Champagne. It’s like a convoluted Myers-Briggs test for personalities. Many people open such a gift, even on New Year’s Eve, with the gravity of a monk, showing the respect and discretion due a vinous masterwork. But there are those more excitable oenophiles, whose personal standard — “What Would Pirates Do?” — dictates freeing the bubbly soul by lopping off the bottle’s neck with a saber.
Why would anyone take a blade to Champagne? Well, frankly, it allows you to embrace your inner jackass under the guise of being dashing, with the entire drippingly elegant historical pageant of Champagne to lend your puerile posturing legitimacy and panache. I still can’t decide if sabering Champagne is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of, or one of the greatest, but it’s precisely that tension that makes it so stirring. It’s like climbing mountains in that way, except you don’t get as cold, and there’s Champagne more immediately afterwards.
There is all manner of ill-ascribed history to “l’art du sabrage,” upheld by posh dining clubs, which exult in a legend that harks back to Napoleon’s elite corps of lightning-fleet, saber-wielding Hussars. Take your pick of which dubious grandiosity you prefer: the Hussars developed the practice while leaving on horseback for battle; they developed the practice when returning from victories; or in homage to the widow Clicquot for her hospitality; or in Russia to impress the local ladies, and so on. … Parsing the reality of any of this is the work of someone else, ostensibly someone who cares. The important part, for us, is that it sounds great, all of it.
In fact, just make up your own Hussar-related history while you’re preparing the bottle, and give it some meaty personal embellishments to cover the time it takes you to clear the capsule, scrape the paper from the neck and free the cage from around the cork: “It so happens that my great, great grandmother, who was the only woman on the corps of Napoleon’s light cavalry, and had to dress surreptitiously as a man to so be, handed down, in a matrilineal line, her regiment’s manner of celebrating. I chanced to be watching on the day my mother schooled my sisters in it.” After all, this is about showmanship, not scholarship.
On to the pyrotechnics! And perhaps the stitches? No, no, be lionhearted; really, there’s nothing to it. The whole thing is predicated on very hard and firm-ish science. In the construction of the heavily reinforced bottle that keeps Champagne from exploding after it’s been dosed with a notch of beet sugar and capped back up to undergo a secondary fermentation (thereby creating over six atmospheres of pressure within), there are, as with any construction, natural weak spots. In our shameless grab for gusto and savoir-vivre, we will exploit these.
There are two seams running vertically the length of the bottle where the halves are fused, and a ringed flange atop that caps these two. After super-chilling the bottle — to both calm the wine so that it doesn’t all gork out the top upon being freed and to make the bottle, I suppose, a tad more brittle — we will run our “saber” up along the seam of the bottle to strike the top ring where it meets the seam with considerable aplomb. This is the work of the blink of an eye, but preparation is very important.
How to Saber a Bottle of Champagne, Carefully
1.) Remove the foil capsule and tear away the paper around the neck of the bottle as well. You will remove the wire cage also, but only immediately before sabering.
2.) Chill the bottle very, very well. Make a thick slurry of ice and water in a large bucket and chill the wine, making certain it is submerged entirely in the cold, for at least an hour. It must be extremely cold, or it may all just crumble in a heartbreaking explosion in your mitts. In fact, I turn mine upside down to make sure the neck is utterly cold. Dustin Wilson, the wine director of Eleven Madison Park — where they saber the house-imported Cuvée Vigneron from grower-winemaker Roger Pouillon only for couples getting engaged in the restaurant — stresses to his sommeliers that the single most import aspect of the process is “getting that bottle arctic.”
3.) Once the bottle is brutally cold, remove the wire cage. Locate one of the seams and place your weapon flat along it, using the dull side. Hold it out from your body, at a 45 degree slant and pointed away from any onlookers. Run your blade flat along the seam, in a straight line up, striking the neck ring forcefully (and simultaneously shrieking “Sauve qui peut!”).
4.) With any luck, or the merest practice, the ring pops off like nothing, and you should lose very little wine. It’s quite surgical. If the first go doesn’t get it, don’t be discouraged. Make some self-deprecating witticism, line it up and try again. Once you’re victorious, and understandably elated, refrain from the urge to swig from the open bottle. That, too, is surgical, but in a different way.
5.) The outward force of the pressure releasing immediately blows any stray shards of glass out and away from the bottle. This means you needn’t worry about drinking glass shards, but you do need to pass the Swiffer around the dining room before traipsing about barefoot. Or better, saber your Champagne on a beach.
This does work with other sparkling wines, it goes without saying, but not with all others. Some bottles, like very cheap cavas and non-reinforced bottles of vin pétillant, don’t work. If the wine is a full-on sparkler and the bottle is thick and seems to have prominent seams running up it, you’re most likely fine. People even do it with beer bottles. Would these guys approve of that? I’m certain not, which makes me all the more eager to saber beer now.
The knife is relatively unimportant, I’m almost sad to say. Online you can find videos of people offing the heads of Champagne bottles with spoons, butter knives, belt buckles and rings — maybe flowers if you search hard enough. All you need is a blunt edge and a stern knock. The dull backside of a regular 8-inch chef’s knife is, if a bit less swashbuckling than many of us might hope for, perfectly serviceable and at least something you’re bound to have about. There are a number of esteemed cutlery purveyors who make actual Champagne sabers: dull-edged, carnival-esque knives meant solely for this purpose. Such over-thought luxury gear seems not just unnecessary but frankly slightly dorky; it’s like being the guy who shows up to a pick-up game with the full matching Lebron jersey and shorts. If, on the other hand, it happens that you’ve the odd bayonet or lancer’s épée idling in the pantry, by all means step up; that’s exactly the kind of bold display for which style points are reserved, and it’s nice to (peaceably) repurpose a weapon that hasn’t seen service since the Boer War.
If you need more guidance, the best tutorial I could imagine comes from Dave Arnold, the erstwhile director of technology at the French Culinary Institute and all-around Johnny-on-the-spot enabler for ill-advised and possibly perilous culinary undertakings. If you need yet more impetus, I give you this quote from Paul Claudel, the French dramatist and diplomat: “Gentlemen, in the little moment that remains to us between the crisis and the catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of Champagne.” To which I can only add: and let’s chop its head off with a sword!
Bob Gruen at his studio, with his portraits of John Lennon.
Bob Gruen's work includes Sid Vicious in 1978.
“He was ringing doorbells,” Mr. Gruen recalled. “Four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone in the building is an artist, so they were opening the door saying: ‘Oh, my God, John Lennon! Let me show you my painting. Let me read you my poem.’ ” When he finally found the apartment, Mr. Gruen said, he told him, “ ‘Man, you’ve got some weird neighbors.’ ”
“I always figured if he could find it in that condition,” Mr. Gruen added, “anyone could.”
And everyone seemingly has. Since his days as a personal photographer for Mr. Lennon and Yoko Ono in the 1970s, Mr. Gruen has seen his cluttered loft serve as a clubhouse for countless rock legends: Joe Strummer of the Clash, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, and members of Blondie, to name a few. This unassuming behind-the-lens figure embedded himself with rock bands so deeply that in some cases he was regarded as a virtual member.
Along the way, Mr. Gruen, a self-taught photographer who spent much of his career as a freelancer hustling shots to Rock Scene and Creem magazines for as little as $5 each, snapped some of rock’s most iconic images. Perhaps most famous is that of Mr. Lennon, arms folded, standing in front of the skyline in his “New York City” T-shirt. That shot has become something of a rock ’n’ roll Mona Lisa, knocked off on postcards and T-shirts around the world (sometimes with Popeye or Curly of the Three Stooges superimposed on Mr. Lennon’s face — a true measure of its impact as a pop-culture totem).
“It’s bootlegged as much as Marilyn and Elvis,” Mr. Gruen said. “I would love someday to get a percentage — they’re selling a lot of them.” But he’s not exactly talking to a lawyer. “People who bootleg and steal can steal anything,” he added. “The fact that they steal mine over and over again I take as a compliment.”
But lately, Mr. Gruen is getting his due in other ways. At 65, he finds himself the one in focus, for a change. Last month, Abrams published “Rock Seen,” a retrospective art book featuring 500 of his photographs. He is the subject of a British television film, “Rock ’N’ Roll Exposed,” directed by Don Letts, the filmmaker and a member of Big Audio Dynamite. And, on a neighborly level, Marc Jacobs, an old friend, recently devoted the front of his Bleecker Street boutique to an elaborate installation celebrating Mr. Gruen’s work (a teenager’s mock bedroom, it featured a bed and television and walls covered floor-to-ceiling in Gruen photos).
“Bob Gruen was a part of the entire rock scene, as much as any band, really, because he was one of those guys that everybody really liked,” Alice Cooper says in the Letts movie. “And he always seemed to get the money shot.”
With his friendly manner, neatly cropped shock of silver hair and rubbery grin, Mr. Gruen seems like an unlikely figure to have growled with rock’s lions. But his apartment tells a different story.
Scattered inside are 28 file cabinets filled with negatives and contact sheets, and on nearby shelves, a museum’s worth of rock memorabilia. There are signed photos from Keith Richards and members of Led Zeppelin. One shelf holds a bugle that Mr. Gruen used to blow a cavalry charge to open shows in the Clash’s famous 17-night run at Bonds International Casino in Times Square in 1981. (“People ask me what’s the best show I’ve ever seen, and I include every show the Clash ever did.”)
From the beginning, Mr. Gruen showed a knack for stumbling into music history. In the summer of 1965, he used his camera to wrangle a press pass into the Newport Folk Festival. That happened to be the Dylan-goes-electric show, one of the most dissected gigs in rock history. “It was chaos,” he said, of the moment when Mr. Dylan shocked the folkies by plugging in a Stratocaster. “They didn’t quite get it. Over the years thinking about it, what he was doing was making a statement that rock ’n’ roll was the folk music of America.”
The first gig he got paid for was less glamorous: Tommy James and the Shondells opening for Hubert Humphrey in a parking lot in Yonkers. But Mr. Gruen managed to hitch a ride back to the city with the band, and they became friends.
His knack for making friends came in handy in 1972, when he met Mr. Lennon and Ms. Ono at an Apollo Theater benefit. He talked his way backstage, and found himself in a scrum of fans snapping shots of the couple with Instamatics. Mr. Lennon remarked that so many fans took pictures, but he never saw any. “I said, ‘I live around the corner,’ ” said Mr. Gruen. “Well, slip them under the door,” said Mr. Lennon, who was living in an apartment on Bank Street at the time.
“Years later when we were friends, Yoko mentioned that I was one of the few people who didn’t try to get something,” Mr. Gruen said. “I just gave them something.”
Before long, he became the go-to photographer whenever the couple wanted unguarded shots of them messing around at the piano with Mick Jagger, or nuzzling in bed with their new baby, Sean. “Bob understood what we were doing,” Ms. Ono said in an e-mail message. “He was interested in photographing John as he was, whether the photos would one day sell or not.
“The magazines and newspapers wanted the Beatle John’s photo,” she added. “Not photos of John living and working with me, his wife. That was embarrassing and boring to them.”
The T-shirt photo shoot didn’t seem particularly portentous, Mr. Gruen said. It was August 1974, and Mr. Lennon phoned while recording the “Walls and Bridges” album to say he needed some shots for the cover package. Mr. Gruen showed up at Mr. Lennon’s East 52nd Street apartment — this was during the couple’s separation — and started snapping the musician on the penthouse’s terrace. Then he noticed the skyline.
“Do you still have that T-shirt I gave you?” he asked Mr. Lennon. (Mr. Gruen had at least seven of the shirts, which he considered part of his uniform. He used to buy them in Times Square and cut off the sleeves with his Buck knife.) Mr. Lennon retrieved it from his bedroom, they shot a few rolls and the session was over.
The photo became famous only in 1980 when Mr. Gruen selected it to be displayed in the Central Park band shell for Mr. Lennon’s public memorial. Mr. Gruen thought it was the perfect image to reinforce Ms. Ono’s point that Mr. Lennon loved the city and that it bore no responsibility for his death. “Yoko always said, don’t blame New York for John’s death,” Mr. Gruen said. “John died in New York because he lived in New York.”
Mr. Gruen was devastated by Mr. Lennon’s death. Still, his career was flourishing on another front. He had become the rare holdover from the hippie era to be embraced by the emerging punk bands of the time. He became a fixture at CBGB, followed the Sex Pistols on their chaotic 1978 tour of the American South, and rode shotgun with the Clash through England and North America.
Despite the generation gap, punk didn’t seem all that different to him. “I like music that’s saying something,” he said. His camera focused on the intimate moments away from the stage: the sweat, the laughter, the tedium of life in a dressing room or on a tour bus.
Three decades later, not much has changed. Mr. Gruen still slips on his Beatle boots and hits rock clubs four or five nights a week, often with his wife, Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen, an artist and coat designer for Michael Kors.
“People ask me how do I get to be friends with musicians,” Mr. Gruen said. “How do you get to be friends with anybody?” He thinks about it for a moment. “Joe Franklin used to say, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.’ ”
October 7, 2011, 2:00 pm
By MIKE TANIER
Best of Five-Seven-Five Series: He’s poetic. He’s prolific. He’s the Brewer Haiku-er.
Tom Miller texts haikus about Brewers games on Twitter, and he wants to be baseball’s poet laureate, a role that has been vacant since, well, forever. (The late, great Dan Quisenberry wrote some pretty good poetry, but never earned the national superstardom and universal acclaim that comes with the title of poet laureate.) Miller’s verse celebrate the joys and sorrow of following the Brewers. Joys, from Sunday: “At Miller Park now/ready to go with game two/packed house is rocking!” Sorrows, from Wednesday: “It’s tough to win when/we can’t keep the ball in yard/see you on Friday.” It is as if Dick Stockton were calling a game, only concisely.
Like all poets, Miller makes no money from his craft but is willing to work for recognition and booze. “With a press pass and a few complimentary Miller High Lifes, I feel I’d be up to the task,” Miller told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel when asked if was willing to be the Brewers’ official poet. “A team this good deserves only the best in Japanese poetry game summaries.”
O.K., just to clarify: they do not serve beer in the press box. We apologize if our writing gave the impression that they did.
The Brewers declined Miller’s bard-for-beer offer, but other teams may have interest in his services. Alex Rodriguez has exactly five syllables! The Packers may need someone to twist Brett Favre’s anti-Aaron Rodgers rants into something more palatable: “I left a great team/you had time to watch and learn/what took you so long?”
Follow Miller @brew_haiku.com. We will continue our search for a fan who writes Rangers roundels.
Wow. Who said the nation is in a shopping slump?
The long-anticipated, much-touted Missoni for Target collection launched Tuesday -- and almost immediately, the Target website crashed.
"We are suddenly extremely popular," a message on Target.com said. "You may not be able to access our site momentarily due to unusually high traffic. Please stay here and we'll try to get you in as soon as we can! Please know that there is no need to refresh your browser. Your request will automatically retry in 30 seconds."
And retry and retry and retry -- I'm still not in, hours later!
Lines reportedly began forming at Target stores around Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m., with the line at the West Hollywood store wrapping twice around the block, according to KTLA. The Glendale store reportedly sold out by 9 a.m., Style Section L.A. reported.
The 400-piece collection includes apparel, accessories and housewares in the upscale Italian design house's famous zigzag patterns. Pieces range from $2.99 to $599.99, with most items $40 or less. A preview showing in a New York city pop-up shop sold out in less than two days last week.
The collection was supposed to be available to the public from Tuesday until Oct. 22, and I'd love to own a piece. But it seems like I missed the boat, since Target design collaborations notoriously sell out early. I'm still waiting for that website to come back up!
Meanwhile, I wonder how much bad feeling consumers will have about this. Target launches these collaborations with much fanfare, but often eager shoppers are disappointed when the wares run out quickly. What do you think: Is this upsetting or just part of the bargain-hunting game?
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
MALVERN LINK, England
With that, he slipped into one of his company’s diminutive new 3-Wheelers — an attractive re-imagining of the successful 3-wheel cars that put the family business on the road a century ago — and sped off.
To be sure, Morgan has for some time earned its keep in finding the good in older ideas. Still occupying the same site on Pickersleigh Road in this Worcestershire village where Mr. Morgan’s grandfather, H. F. S. Morgan, and great-grandfather, the Rev. H. G. Morgan, built a factory in 1918, the company has long been known for its resistance to modern methods of mass production.
Morgan builds sports cars the old-fashioned way, with hand-formed aluminum panels, wooden body frames assembled on site and, on 4-wheel models, sliding pillar front suspensions whose conception (and brutal ride quality) can be traced to the dawn of the last century, if not earlier.
Unheard-of in car factories today, visitors seem free to wander the laid-back premises of “the Morgan’s,” where rows of brick and mortar sheds with blue wooden barn doors have welcomed as many as a half-dozen generations of families who have come to work here.
There is much new afoot under Charles Morgan, a former documentary filmmaker and only the company’s third chairman — he took the reins shortly before the death of his father, Peter, in 2003. Yet today’s most recognizable model, the 4/4, has a lineage and name dating to 1936.
Of note here, one of the “4s” in the 4/4 model designation referred to that car’s four wheels, the other signifying its number of cylinders. That was big news at the time for a company that had grown up building tiny 3-wheel roadsters with exposed engines, typically 2-cylinder designs shared with contemporary motorcycles, situated proudly at the extreme front of their chassis.
The two front wheels handled steering duties and the single one at the rear transmitted power to the ground. The formula had its advantages: these Morgans were licensed as motorcycles under British law, incurring lower taxes than automobiles.
In the 21st century, that motorcycle designation still advances the cause of automotive eclecticism, subjecting the new Morgan 3-Wheeler to the less stringent emissions and safety standards of 2-wheel vehicles.
Licensing the driver of a 3-wheel vehicle is not as straightforward, varying greatly from state to state. In California, for instance, all that’s needed to pilot a 3-Wheeler is a car license. Most everywhere else a motorcycle license is required, and to further complicate matters, some states require that the driving test be taken on a 2-wheeler in order to get a license to drive a 3-wheel vehicle.
Morgan says the 3-Wheeler, designed by Matthew Humphries and one of the star attractions of the Geneva auto show in February, will be available for sale in America by Christmas. At current exchange rates, the price is about $43,000.
Morgan dealers in the United States are now taking deposits, typically about $5,000, on these built-to-order playthings, increasing the chances that the company will meet its target of selling 200 3-Wheelers annually for some years to come. The first 3-Wheelers are just being delivered to customers in Europe, and more than a year’s worth of orders have already been taken.
Unlike 3-wheelers built with a single wheel in front — a design that exhibits a worrisome inclination to roll over when pushed hard in corners — Morgan’s “two up front” formula made the original version a stable machine and a tenacious competitor in racing. No surprise, then, that road-holding and performance are two qualities the re-imagined 3-Wheeler — Morgan’s first since 1946 — brings forward in spades.
While the front end’s pair of skinny 19-inch wire wheels, shod with Avon bias-ply tires, visually recall 3-wheelers of the past, a single low-profile car-type radial tire mounted on a modern alloy rim sits hidden beneath a removable rear panel.
A 2-cylinder motorcycle engine — with a whopping 1,990cc displacement — churns out 120 horsepower. Fed through a slick-shifting 5-speed transmission (it also has reverse) borrowed from the Mazda Miata, power is transmitted to a rubber belt that drives the rear wheel. With a weight of about 1,100 pounds and a cuteness that is at least the equal of any iPod or similar device, it is hard not to be intrigued by the 3-Wheeler’s possibilities.
Adding new dimension to the meaning of “snug,” the boat-tail cockpit is a tasteful exercise in spartan retro design, handsomely trimmed in leather (available in custom colors, as is the rest of the car) with an aeronautical feel to its dials and controls. Though the three-spoke steering wheel can be quickly removed to aid entry by larger and less pliable citizens, I did not need to remove it.
Still, there was no mistaking the 3-Wheeler for an ordinary car.
Press the starter button (it’s protected by a safety catch) and the fuel-injected V-twin roars to life. The aviation ambiance is intensified by a barely muffled drone from the side-mounted exhaust pipes, sounding a bit like the World War II Spitfire fighters in old films warming up for their combat missions.
The car rocks, its cycle fenders shake and voices must be raised. Then it dawns on you: what the bellowing power plant really recalls is every Harley-Davidson that ever disturbed the peace as it passed by.
Strongly resembling Harley’s classic V-twin, the 3-Wheeler’s X-Wedge engine is a proprietary unit designed and built by S & S Cycle, a Viola, Wis., company with a long standing as a supplier to Harley tuners and the aftermarket. Certified for sale in all 50 states, the new Morgan may upset the neighbors but it ought not confound local mechanics.
Get comfortable — more of a psychological procedure than a practical one, as there’s nothing to adjust beyond a single rearview mirror — and let out the clutch. Stand on the gas. It sounds and feels as if you’ve just released a large hive of bees.
As the V-twin buzz becomes a scream and you rocket forward — 60 miles per hour comes in 4.5 seconds — you are transported to another era. Wind whistles around you as the scenery blurs; pebbles, insects and road debris are transformed into serious hazards. With only a tiny pair of windscreens for protection, goggles, earplugs and soft helmets are a reasonable precaution.
Even so equipped, noise is profound in a way that no Ferrari road car could ever be, and will undoubtedly prove wearing on longer drives, even for the hardiest motorists. Headphone jacks are provided so the driver and passenger can plug in and carry on a conversation or listen to an MP3 player. There is no radio.
On the other hand, the ride is surprisingly good, especially for a Morgan. Unlike the 4/4 and Plus 8 models of the past, the modern 3-Wheeler has an independent front suspension that soaks up bumps, potholes and pavement irregularities. The steering is nimble and, aided by the 3-Wheeler’s almost absurdly compact dimensions, the driver soon feels as if dodging any obstacle is possible.
While the Morgan still uses wooden supports behind some of its aluminum body panels, the main structure is a substantial tubular steel cage that provides a measure of protection for two — and there can only be two — occupants. Otherwise, besides a pair of three-point seat belts and a couple of rollover hoops, modern safety equipment is nonexistent. No air bags, antilock brakes or traction controls.
In terms of safety, it is exactly as advertised: somewhere between a car and a motorcycle. And it won’t tip over, not easily at least.
Wheels and tires that vary in size and construction from front to back turn out to work well together, with no discernible deficit in corners owing to the lack of a fourth wheel. Fat and sticky though the rear tire may be, it soon becomes apparent that spinning it is possible in any of the lower gears. Easy enough to compensate for, it nonetheless heightens the driving sensation.
It may be missing a wheel, but this throwback Morgan is one fast machine.
A top speed of 125 miles per hour, according to Morgan, may not be in the same league as most cars that accelerate as quickly. But frankly, for something with only the most rudimentary of windscreens and no top, it’s not as though you’d really want to go any faster.
As everyday transport, only lunatics need apply. But the Morgan 3-Wheeler looks great, it goes great and it is undeniably special. A good idea or not, this curious step back in time is an old one that’s as amusing to a driving enthusiast as anything Apple ever dreamed up.
Before you became editor of French Vogue in 2001, you were best known for being an inspiration to Tom Ford. And in your new book, “Irreverent,” you include a handwritten note from him in which he writes that he’d like to take you out for a romantic dinner. What exactly is a romantic dinner like between a gay man and a straight woman?
Ask each woman that ever met Tom, and they will tell you that they were under the charm of Tom. O.K., Tom, unfortunately for the woman, is gay. But he is very not so gay. Even the way he touches a woman, the way he puts his hand on your back or the way he opens the car for you, he’s a gentleman. You’re dying that he likes everything you’re wearing, everything you’re doing, because his taste is very important to you. You want to seduce him all the time.
Also the picture of the elderly couple making out and the plastic surgery fashion shoot with a model wearing bandages all over her face decked out in couture and jewels.
It was very, very controversial. Old couples, kids, surgery. But it was not done on purpose because I was leaving. It was done before that, you know.
There was a lot of bondage in the magazine during your tenure.
The reason I call my book “Irreverent” is because there were a lot of pictures that were very irreverent. Maybe I could call my book “Forgiving” because maybe I made a lot of errors too. But did you know that for Japanese people, bondage is like an art. In Japan you can learn how to make a bunch of flowers. This is an art. Tea ceremony, it’s an art. And bondage is an art, too.
I heard a rumor that you had a scale in your office on which you weighed the women who worked for you. You once said of your staff, “All my girls are very skinny and very chic and very beautiful.”
It’s true there was a scale in my office, but I had it because I was doing a lot of traveling. And to travel, each suitcase cannot be more than 25 kilos. So it was a scale to weigh the cases. The rumor is more fun.
You’ve mentioned before that people say you resemble Iggy Pop. You’re an attractive woman. I’ve wondered, did someone actually say that to your face?
I don’t know who was the first person, but monkey see, monkey do, so a lot of people just repeat it. Maybe it’s because I am quite skinny, or because I have big eyes and dark circles under them. It’s true he’s not the most handsome person today, but I don’t think it’s bad. I would prefer if they said, “You are a beautiful version of Iggy Pop.”
You’ve been spending a lot of time in the United States, working with Barneys. What major fashion mistake are Americans making right now?
I think that Americans, they love comfort more than Europeans. Americans created the T-shirt, the sweat pants, and they create the best sporting shoes. When I see a woman in the street, sometimes I think, Oh, it’s a bit too comfortable the way she is dressing, you know? And not in a nice way.
I also understand you’re not into fur these days.
I like fur, but there’s a sort of smell on it that now I don’t like.
Well, it smells a little like a dead animal, right?
Yes, exactly. But not sheepskin. Sheepskin is different. But I can’t say I will never wear fur again because I will lie. Maybe tomorrow I’m going to see a beautiful mink coat, and I’ll really want it, even if there is some smell in it. I will put perfume on. Mules I’m sure I will never wear.
You’re always railing against mules. What did mules ever do to you?
I hate mules. I hate the noise when someone walks with mules. Clomp, clomp, clomp. I think it’s very not chic. I don’t even like a flip-flop. I don’t like this noise. I don’t think I’ve used mules one time in a story.
Chinese pianist Yuja Wang caused a stir in the classical world with her orange mini-dress when she played the Hollywood Bowl. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
August 20, 2011
From left, Brad Sherman, Tiffany Threadgould and Lori Anselm, TerraCycle's design team.
ON a blazing hot weekday late last month, 6 of the 82 summer interns at TerraCycle, a “waste solution development” company, were shoveling mortar into a trench in the company’s scrubby courtyard and layering it with beer and wine bottles, nearly 2,000 that they had plucked in the previous week or so from the Dumpsters of neighborhood bars.
The interns, students in product design, marketing and architecture, were overheated but cheerful, sorting bottles by color, hosing one another down as the temperature rose into the triple digits and comparing notes on which bars had the best bottle harvest. By midday, however, that harvest had been largely depleted, though the retaining wall the crew was building — a swoopy napoleon of trash — was still only a foot high. Max Gilbert, a 21-year-old product design student from Lehigh University, spoke for the group now huddled damply in the trapezoid of shade thrown by an umbrella when he said solemnly in his best Roy Scheider imitation, “We’re going to need more bottles. A lot more bottles.”
Welcome to Garbage Camp, a highly collaborative effort from the design studio of TerraCycle, which was started 10 years ago by a Princeton dropout, Tom Szaky, with a single product, Worm Poop, a plant food made from just what you’d think. (Garbage Camp is this reporter’s phrase, not the company’s.) Now, TerraCycle collects garbage from companies that make juice pouches, chips, candy and single-serve espresso tins, to name just a few of the waste streams it has a toe in, and turns them into items like tote bags, portable speakers and notebooks that are sold at big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart.
More specifically, TerraCycle collects the overruns of a company’s packaging — reams and reams of it — and upcycles it into festive and useful objects ablaze with product names, a relatively cheap and feel-good brand extension.
It also collects post-consumer waste — from used juice pouches to toothbrushes harvested by schools and charities — that it sells to recycling companies, which turn it into plastic pellets that can be made into driveway pavers, Adirondack chairs or building materials.
This summer, TerraCycle’s R & D department has been shredding diapers, looking for a way to recycle used ones. “There is no limit on gross here,” said Tiffany Threadgould, who runs the company’s design team, grinning broadly.
Ms. Threadgould, 37, is a product designer and writer who Make magazine once described as “the Martha Stewart of garbage.” She has been TerraCycle’s chief designer for the last three years, fashioning “upcycling” prototypes like pencil cases from Capri Sun juice pouches and clocks made from circuit boards, and leading workshops on how to weave pet-food bags into wallets and totes, for example, as she did last year for the 700 employees of a Hungarian pet-food company.
She is also something of a trash evangelist, preaching the crafty value of society’s discards for nearly a decade, selling trash-into-craft kits — like a wine-bottle lamp kit — through her company, RePlayGround. And she is gently exhorting readers to make their own clocks out of paint-can lids in a new book, “ReMake It!” (Sterling). “I want to change the way people think about garbage,” she’ll tell you earnestly and often.
TerraCycle, which collects a billion pieces of waste every few months, is mostly in the business of recycling or “garbage dealing,” said Albe Zakes, the company’s director of publicity.
But Ms. Threadgould’s upcycled designs, which represent about 10 percent of the business, are its most visible products, the bait that attracts companies like Kraft, the maker of Capri Sun juice pouches, into partnerships with TerraCycle. (Since its founding, the company has lurched about a bit, fending off a lawsuit from Miracle-Gro, which saw Worm Poop’s packaging as imitative of its own, and reorienting its business model, which originally focused on upcycling. This year, the company enjoyed a modest profit for the first time, Mr. Zakes said.)
And Ms. Threadgould’s activities, like her recent “trashy redesign” of TerraCycle’s offices and her deployment of those eager interns as wall builders — the wall being part of Ms. Threadgould’s landscape design for the courtyard — continues to burnish TerraCycle’s image. Her design efforts are marketing tools and propaganda materials that reiterate and amplify a single message: garbage can be fun.
Last month, summer interns built a retaining wall out of mortar and bottles harvested from Dumpsters at neighborhood bars.
Robert Wright for The New York Times
A wall clock made out of pregnancy tests.
“Waste Does Not Exist” reads the spray-painted manifesto on the vintage sofa in TerraCycle’s lounge, which owes a lot, style-wise, to “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” It’s appealingly off-kilter.
On the walls: clocks made from the keys of a computer keyboard, scissors, a bike wheel; vintage mirrors painted red, blue and gold; and the company’s logo, which looks like an infinity symbol, writ large in juice pouches. The floor is covered with Astroturf discarded from a nearby soccer field. Tables are made from used fire extinguishers and salvaged wood, and wine barrels topped with a door.
The main workroom, where most of TerraCycle’s 65 young employees toil, has walls covered in graffiti and a checkerboard of rug remnants. Vinyl records serve as desk partitions; desks are old doors. Conference tables made from more old doors, some embellished with doorbells, stretch out in “rooms” with walls made from clear plastic soda bottles. There are Nerf guns everywhere.
“We want to do more interior design projects,” Ms. Threadgould said. “Offer our services to our partners so they can have their space ‘TerraCycled.’ ” She described a new project with Dennis Foy, the New Jersey-based restaurateur who has asked the team to invent a Philadelphia restaurant concept, from the branding to the décor.
Ms. Threadgould’s studio, which she shares with Lori Anselm, 48, a textile designer who commutes daily from Bucks County, Pa., and Brad Sherman, 26, a designer with a master’s degree in sustainability, looks like design studios the world over, except that its shelves are lined with boxes labeled variously: Cheerios boxes, Yak Paks, Pepsi bottle caps, Colgate containers, Burberry tie scraps and pregnancy tests.
Pregnancy tests? “Yeah, we get all sorts of things from our partners,” Ms. Threadgould said. “Brad made a really cool clock out of those.”
At a table, Laura Simons, 21, and Ashley Santee, 22, interns on loan for six months from the design and marketing program at Drexel University, were sewing fabric they had made by fusing Lunchables packaging. Kraft had asked for an art piece for its Lunchables conference room, Ms. Simons said, so they had made a plaque out of “techno-vomit,” Albe Zakes’s nickname for what is otherwise known as “wrapper board,” or shredded and fused packaging (it’s quite pretty, like silvery confetti), and enormous techno-vomit facsimiles of the contents of a Lunchables — cheese and lunch meat. Meanwhile, Mr. Gilbert, the intern from Lehigh, had built a lamp out of used glue sticks. It felt like visiting a Montessori preschool.
Next was lunch, ordered each day from a different restaurant (Mexican food on this day), that the whole staff partakes of, lining up like summer campers in the main room. After the meal, Ms. Anselm, the textile designer, offered a tour of TerraCycle’s garbage warehouse a few blocks away. The sickly sweet odor of rancid juice boxes, stacked in waist-high bales, made a visitor’s eyes water. It smelled like virtue.
There were also bales of chip bags and yogurt cups and circuit boards, and little hills of U.P.S. freight packs, sent by schools and community groups that form “brigades” to collect used packaging.
“We come over here to get inspired,” she said, gazing fondly at a berm formed by canvas mailbags, 20,000 of them. “We love the non-branded garbage,” she added. “There’s only so much you can do with an M & M wrapper.”
Dirk Schoenberger walks into the lobby of the Bowery Hotel wearing Prada’s infamous platform espadrille wingtips — an odd choice considering that Schoenberger is the creative director of the sports style division at Adidas, a company known for its footwear. What he likes about the Pradas, he explains, is “the mix of sharp tailoring and casual leisure.” Having held his post for little over a year, he has pushed Adidas to hybridize in a similar manner. “When I’m in Berlin and I see how the young guys and girls are dressing, none of them are wearing sneakers anymore. So you think, if these are the target consumers, and we are only selling sneakers, well, what are we going to do?” The answer may be found in Adidas SLVR. Priced somewhere between Originals and Y-3 (also under Schoenberger’s purview), the line has been reimagined for fall under his personal design stewardship. “It’s amazing for such a big company to be so open for discussions,” he says. With SLVR, it is a “new approach but still very much in the language of Adidas.”