The Washington Post asked me to write an appreciation for Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of the newspaper who hired me as a Style staff reporter in 1989. He was a wonderful boss, editor and man.
The sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy — otherwise known as Rodarte, the wildly successful fashion designers from California — took their turn at the winter issue of A Magazine Curated By assembling a glorious spread of many surprises and dangerously kitsch fashion photos, all California-inspired. Golden State natives will want to savor this issue over and over. And, best of all — for me — the issue includes an essay of mine about the Beat artist Jay De Feo and her commitment to her transcendent, seminal work, The Rose, a huge painting that is now at the Whitney but, for many years, was an albatross relegated to a dusty corner of a conference room at the San Francisco Art Institute, then covered up by drywall.
The issue of A Magazine Curated By is available for 20 Euros or the U.S. equivalent. (If it is sold out on the A Magazine website, copies may be available on Amazon and other sites selling literary collectibles.) If you are interested in De Feo and would like more information about her, Jay De Feo and The Rose, a collection of essays and academic writing about the painting, and the artist, is available from University of California Press for $85.
I have a terrible habit of borrowing clothes. (Hand-me-downs are great too.) Here’s a light-hearted essay I wrote for today’s New York Times about the best thing I ever borrowed — a roller derby jersey worn by Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels. It tells how I got it. And, painfully, how I had to give it back.
Japan is on everybody’s mind these days. I was lucky to be asked to contribute an essay to a fantastic collection, Reimagining Japan, just out. It is already #1 nonfiction book in Japan and sold out in English on Amazon, but more copies will be available soon. The other contributors are artists, writers, historians, economists, CEOs and even a soccer coach and a videogame creator. Gorgeously illustrated and beautifully packaged, it has been called the most comprehensive book about Japan ever. You might have to wait a few weeks to hold it in your hands but, if it’s any consolation, so do I.
Fashionistas don’t take themselves too seriously, the way a U.S. senator always does. And an individual with loads of creativity + business smarts is usually open, self-aware, colorful, intelligent, and comfortable being interviewed. Leslie Blodgett, the visionary behind Bare Escentuals who caused a cosmetic industry revolution with her crazy mineral foundation, was — as my 13-year old son would say — da bomb. You can click on the photo above to link to the New York Times story that I wrote earlier this month, or use this permalink below.
(Photo credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times; Getty Images)
This spring, I worked on a dual-profile of the two senators from Maine — who work seamlessly together despite a decades long and rather bitter rivalry. The Washington Post gave me this terrific assignment, along with lots of support and space. The piece ran last Friday, on May 5, 2011. The photo (below) should take you to the link.
Just arrived in the mail from Japan: copies of Dog Man, translated into Japanese and published by Odyssey, a small family-run press in the north of Japan. I am so happy to see this amazing life story — which the Sawataishis were courageous to share so honestly with me — making a way back to its home country. At such a difficult and dispirting time for the north of Japan, I hope this story of endurance, personal fortitude and resourcefulness won’t just amuse and entertain readers, but inspire them.
I know how much the Sawataishi family would appreciate all the calls and emails of concern I’ve gotten about them since the earthquake and tsunami hit the north of Japan last week.
So many readers of Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain came to feel close to this wonderful, resourceful family, whose lives were chronicled in the book. Their family home is in Kurikoma, not too far from Sendai, which is where so much of the damage has taken place.
Good news. All members of the extended Sawataishi clan are safe. Atsuko Fukushima, the oldest daughter of Morie and Kitako, evacuated her house in Fukushima (like her last name) — very near the epicenter of the quake — just in time, and was able to travel with her husband Noritsugu and their dog Bobby to a country house owned by their daughter Yukari near Nasu Kogen.
Atsuko’s house in Fukushima was severely damaged — and now, due to the meltdown of the nearby nuclear plant, it is unclear whether she will be able to return.
Some of you may remember that this is the second time Atsuko has been dislocated in recent years. In 2008, when a strong earthquake devastated the Sawaitashi family house in the mountains of Kurikoma, she and Noritsugu had to move in with her sister in Oyama City and, a few months later, set up a new life in Fukushima, where they were living when I last them in March 2009. (Pictured above.)
The condition of the Kurikoma house, which had just been restored from the 2008 quake, remains unknown at this point. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I know you will all join me in wishing Atsuko and Noritsugu, and the country of Japan, much strength and energy and good fortune in the years ahead.
In 2008, I signed up as a volunteer at the new swap shop on the grounds of our town dump on Cape Cod. It is a salvage shack, basically. Everything is free there. This creates an unusual, almost wildly blissful environment — a browser’s utopia. It is also a town hang-out and listening post.
Yes, it is located at the dump. And there are bad smells that sometimes go with that. But mostly, the Orleans Gift House is a spectacular, transformative place to spend a few hours. On and off, I have been working on a book about this – and I started a blog that chronicled of some of the stuff that has come in, and gone, over the years. The blog has been suspended but the Gift House goes on . . .
This is the time of year to remember Morie Sawataishi, the man who saved the Akita dog from extinction. The anniversary of his death, October 22, is less than three weeks away. Morie did more than just devote his life to rescuing and restoring the Akita dog in Japan after World War II. He devoted himself to Japan’s snow country — the isolated and forgotten north. He devoted himself to loyalty, inconvenience, hard work. He devoted himself to the forests and woods of Japan, and to a rugged mountain life where he could raise and train his champion dogs. Post your comments of appreciation, photos of your dogs — Akita or otherwise — and your good wishes to the Sawataishi family on the Facebook page, “Dog Man: One Man Saves Japan’s Akita Dogs.” There you will find hundreds of Akita lovers, nature lovers and dog lovers on a page created by Scribe, the Australian publisher of my book, Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain. The Sawataishi family will be looking in . . .