31 January 2013


Ginger Rogers in Gold Diggers of 1933.

Bruce Goldstein over at Film Forum is apparently a mind reader as he routinely creates programs that include my favourite films (isn't that nice?). Case in point. Starting next month, Film Forum will spend four weeks screening 66 films from 1933. What's so special about that year? In addition to the release of dozens of amazing films, the debut of Astaire and Rogers (Flying Down to Rio), the opening of the first drive-in movie theatre, and  the founding of the Screen Actors Guild, 1933 was the last year before the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code and the creation of the Legion of Decency by the Catholic Church. So 1933 was the last hurrah of sorts for uncensored stories about sex, drugs, murder, homosexuality, you name it. And what a year it was. We’re talking Design for Living, Dinner at Eight, Gold Diggers of 1933, 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Queen Christina, Baby Face, Bombshell, Ecstasy, King Kong, and many, many more. I for one can’t wait to attend as many screenings as possible. Thank you Film Forum.

For a complete schedule, check out their calendar here.

30 January 2013

Portrait of a Peasant

"Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)" Vincent van Gogh (1888)

Sunday before last I stopped by the Frick Collection to check out Vincent van Gogh’s “Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)” before it returned home to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. The portrait of Patience Escalier, a gardener from Camargue, is one of a series of portraits of local characters that Van Gogh made in Arles during a 15-month stay. He was enchanted by the region’s colours and light, which inspired some of his most famous works.

While this painting is neither my favourite Van Gogh nor his best, it’s a great example of what sets him apart from other painters. Van Gogh's noticeable brush strokes and vibrant colours bring to mind the textures and colours found in nature. Doesn’t his skin resemble the polished wood of a tree? And isn't the yellow of his hat the same as that of a sunflower? Displayed in the middle of one of the Frick galleries, the portrait appeared to almost glow in comparison to the more muted colours of the paintings on the surrounding walls.

Outside, I walked by the garden and saw some blue violets popping up. Looking closer, I realized that some of them were the same shade of blue as the background in the Van Gogh painting. What a genius. (And kudos to the gardeners at the Frick for the choice.)

If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can see the painting at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena where they currently have on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Van Gogh's "Self-Portrait" (1889) through March 4, 2013. For more information, visit here.

29 January 2013

Lunch Hour

"Hot Dog Stand, West St. and North Moore, Manhattan" Berenice Abbott (1936)

Lunch is a meal that most of us give little thought to other than what type of sandwich or salad we can grab. A current exhibit at the New York Public Library—“Lunch Hour NYC”—takes a look at how over the years this meal evolved to reflect the busy needs of the city's workers and residents.

At one time in our past, lunch was a meal eaten at home. Yet in New York City at the turn of the last century, with an increased focus on time efficiency, most workers could not afford that luxury. Hence the creation of the lunch hour, a fixed time during which workers could consume a quick meal, often at one of the city’s many cafeterias or company lunch rooms (an ingenious invention that ensured workers came back from their lunch break on time). Later on the power lunch would emerge, distinguishing that group who were not confined to a regimented time slot for dining. 

Prominently on display in the centre of the exhibit are the all-important food carts that have long helped to feed a hungry city. Among the foods sold on the street over the years were oysters, hot dogs, and pretzels. Did you know that pretzels once had a bad reputation? They were associated with saloons.

Workers are not the only ones to receive mention in the exhibit. A section on children discusses the creation of school lunch programs and includes a wall of lunch boxes (I actually recognized two that I had as a child).

I was happy to see Mrs. Parker make an appearance. A small wall is devoted to the Algonquin Hotel with its famed Round Table—a group of writers and artists who routinely met for lunch at the hotel in the 1920s. Mrs. Parker, one of the few women in the group, is represented with a portrait and a note to Harold Ross, editor and founder of the New Yorker, that reads “Ah, look, Harold. Isn’t it cute? Dorothy. I love you.” A menu from 1949 features one of the hotel’s most popular menu options—chicken hash with pancakes and new peas ($2.25). For those short on funds, a cup of tea ($.35) was consumed along with the free popovers and celery sticks.

The highlight though was the section on the beloved automat. Horn & Hardart opened their first New York City automat in 1912, offering diners a variety of choices by simply dropping some nickels into a slot and opening a door to pull out their selected dish. Their popularity waned in the 1950s and the last one shut its doors in 1991.

An actual automat is in the exhibit complete with labels and working doors. For one nickel you could purchase baked beans or creamed spinach. Two nickels got you a couple of donuts, mac and cheese, or a chicken potpie. Unfortunately, opening the doors don't reveal these dishes but recipe cards are available so you can recreate the same meals at home. A nearby screen shows film and TV clips set in automats including my favourite food fight from Easy Living.

I'm not sure if New York can take total credit for the changes to our consumption of a mid-day meal but I do know that the exhibit will make you extremely hungry so make sure to eat your lunch before visiting.

“Lunch Hour NYC “ is at the main branch of the New York Public Library through February 17, 2013. For more information visit the site here.

28 January 2013

Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice, one of the greatest novels ever written (yes, ever written). Today marks the 200th anniversary of its publication on January 28, 1813 by Thomas Egerton of London who paid its author, Jane Austen, £110 for the copyright. Since then it has been re-printed countless times for generations of delighted readers who can’t help but fall in love with Elizabeth and Darcy.

Many years ago I visited Chawton Cottage, Austen’s final home (now Jane Austen's House Museum). In the parlour was the tiny writing table where she worked. She had a window with a view and a nearby swing door whose creaking would warn her when someone was approaching (legend has it that she would hide her pages under blotter paper before anyone entered). It was there that she revised Pride and Prejudice. That day I bought a copy of the novel (the Oxford edition) and a tea towel at the gift shop; I still have both. Once a year I re-read that same copy of Pride and Prejudice, which never fails to lift my spirits and always make me grateful for Jane Austen.

To mark the occasion, there are a slew of Pride and Prejudice celebrations happening so check out this calendar of events here.

25 January 2013

Happy Birthday Virginia!

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."—Virginia Woolf

Today is Virginia Woolf's birthday. Born on January 25, 1882 in London, she is one of the great voices of 20th-century British literature. For me as well as countless other female English majors A Room of One's Own was a much-read, beloved book that seemed to speak directly to us. I still have my copy, dogeared with marked-up pages, that I pick up from time to time. For that book alone I would say I like Virginia Woolf. But add Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse and I would say I adore her.

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Woolf's A Writer's Diary at Three Lives & Company, my favourite New York bookstore. In honour of the day, I'll think I'll start reading it tonight. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

21 January 2013

What's in a Name?

“A person has to keep something to herself or your life is just a layout in a magazine.”—Grace Kelly
I love writing posts for this blog. I love sharing my opinion with you about things I've read or seen as well as sharing some of the photographs I've taken. And I love hearing from you. But along the lines of what Grace Kelly said, I still like to keep some things private, to not share all of the details of my life and those of my friends (and let's be honest, not everything is interesting). When I first started this blog I chose to post under a pen name—Mrs. Parker. An homage to one of my heroes—Dorothy Parker—it was a way for me to keep a modicum of privacy while still sharing my views and interests with you. 

It's now been more than two years since I posted my first piece on this blog and for a while I've been thinking of retiring Mrs. Parker. Don't get me wrong, I adore the moniker. But I do feel it's time to be a little more open with you. Don't worry, I'm not about to turn into a Kardashian (the horror). And so while I will continue to write posts about the original Mrs. Parker and others, from now on I will sign them with my first name (and when I have a moment, I'll go back and change my photo credits to reflect the same). So I hope that you will continue to keep stopping by and reading the latest tales of a madcap heiress. It really means the world to me. Thank you, Michele.

20 January 2013


Thinking of Edgar Allan Poe earlier reminded me of another favourite of the macabre—Edward Gorey. Here's the intro that he and Derek Lamb created for Mystery (it's a shame you now only see an abbreviated version). I always thought it would make a great video for Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives." Anyways, enjoy!

19 January 2013

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe!

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). Photo: William S. Hartshorn.

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe! Born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Poe’s short life was filled with hardship and tragedy yet he became one of the most famous and influential writers in American literature. The master of the macabre wrote dozens of short stories and poems (The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven) and is credited with writing the first detective story (The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841). Today fans will gather at his grave in Baltimore to recite his work and no doubt make a toast or two in his honour.

While I enjoy his writing, Poe is
important to me for another reason—I named my tuxedo cat after him and therefore spend time every day calling out his name. 

Today many of Poe's former homes have been restored and turned into museums; I've been to
 his final New York home in the Bronx (see post here). Sadly, the Boston house in which he was born was torn down in the 1960s and the only tribute to the man is a plaque on a building near the original site.If you're a Poe fan, you might want to check out the efforts of the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston to have a statue erected in his honour. They are currently selling a limited edition Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead to help raise funds for the project. To find out more about the foundation, visit their site here or visit their facebook page for info on purchasing a bobblehead

14 January 2013

Dior Magazine

Last week was incredibly busy and this week looks like it's going to turn out to be about the same. I have a ton of tales to write but am just too tired at the moment. So for now here are some gorgeous photos by Jean-Baptiste Modino of Marion Cotillard (my favourite) wearing classic Dior pieces from the past for the debut issue of Dior Magazine. Beautiful.

To see more images visit here.

09 January 2013

Press for Champagne

How does one go about getting one of these installed? Better yet, why don't I already have one? There's plenty of room for one below the front door intercom or next to my bed. On second thought, I might never leave my flat if I had one.

Photo from here.

08 January 2013

The Met at the Holidays

I know it's the new year but I have one final Christmas story to share with you. 

One cold Saturday over the holiday break I decided to go to the Met. I normally don't go so late in the day but I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea (see above). 

And even though it was crazy crowded—I don't remember the last time I was there when it was so packed—it was a perfect place to be when outside snow was falling everywhere.

There were multiple special exhibits at the museum to see but those could wait for another time. Even though Christmas had already passed I wanted to see the annual tree and crèche. 

In 1957 the Met began a holiday tradition of displaying a Christmas tree and Baroque Neapolitan crèche comprised of more than 200 18th-century crèche figures donated by Loretta Hines Howard. Decades later, the tradition is still going strong. With the Medieval Sculpture Hall as its backdrop, the tree and crèche are an absolutely gorgeous sight. Unfortunately the day of my visit I missed the lighting of the tree. Nonetheless, with roughly 50 angels and a golden star on top, it might just be my favourite Christmas tree in the city.

Not to be outshone by the angels above, around the base of the tree is a lovely nativity. The figurines with all of their fine details and colourful outfits ('m partial to the three wise men) vary a bit from year to year as does the setting, which is designed by Howard's daughter and granddaughter. You can spend quite some time taking it all in, which is exactly what I did. 

iPhone photos by Michele.

04 January 2013

Winter's Pretty Lousy

Summer makes me drowsy.
Autumn makes me sing.
Winter's pretty lousy,
But I hate Spring.
—Dorothy Parker

Right you are Mrs. Parker. Winter is pretty lousy (although I disagree with you about spring) and this recent blast of cold is just a reminder that next year I have to take a winter break someplace warmer. For now I'll distract myself by trying out a new camera lens tomorrow and seeing an exhibit I've been dying to go to on Sunday. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

03 January 2013

The Open Road

The Open Road (1926) by Claude Friese-Greene is a series of short travelogues that chronicles a motorcar journey from Land's End to John O'Groats, giving viewers a delightful look at Britain between the wars. Beginning in 1924, Friese-Greene made these shorts with the help of his assistant/chauffeur, Robin Haworth-Booth, using Biocolour, an early colour film process first developed by his father, film pioneer William Friese-Greene, in which alternating frames were stained red or green. After his father died in 1921, he renamed the process Friese-Greene Natural Colour but had trouble marketing it because of a problem with flickering. The Open Road languished away in obscurity for years until highlights were restored by the British Film Institute in 2005. 

I find The Open Road to be a fascinating glimpse into the past. And as for this gorgeous seaside image, it's helping to keep my mind off the cold weather outside.

watch some highlights from The Open Road, visit here.

Image above from here.

02 January 2013

Marilyn's Resolutions

My list of new year’s resolutions is quite long but I hope to stick to them (well, at least half). Wonder what other people choose for their resolutions? Here is a list that Marilyn Monroe wrote out in her address book in 1955. She was studying with the Actor’s Studio at the time and her resolutions show that she wanted to make the most of it. The last one, “enjoy myself when I can—I'll be miserable enough as it is,” seems so sad in retrospect.

Must make effort to do
Must have the dicipline to do the following—

z – go to class—my own always—without fail

x – go as often as possible to observe Strassberg's other private classes

g – never miss actor's studio sessions

v – work whenever possible – on class assignments—and always keep working on the acting exercises

u – start attending Clurman lectures—also Lee Strassberg's directors lectures at theater wing – enquire about both

l – keep looking around me—only much more so—observing—but not only myself but others and everything – take things (it) for what they (it's) are worth

y – must make strong effort to work on current problems and phobias that out of my past has arisen—making much much much more more more more more effort in my analisis. And be there always on time – no excuses for being ever late.

w – if possible—take at least one class at university—in literature—

o – follow RCA thing through

p – try to find someone to take dancing from—body work (creative)

t – take care of my instrument—personally & bodily (exercise)

try to enjoy myself when I can—I'll be miserable enough as it is.

From Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe.

01 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I for one am looking forward to 2013 and have a long list of resolutions that I hope to stick to including keeping this blog updated with interesting material and making some improvements to the design. It really means the world to me to know that people are visiting and reading my tales about living in the city, old movies and well, everything old, so please continue to stop by and leave me a note when you have a moment. I love hearing from you. Have a wonderful new year everyone!

Image from the New York Public Library.


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