The Friday Roundup (and a contest for you readers with a real prize and everything!)


But he promised this wouldn’t be a regular column!

I shot this image at Anthropologie the other day. For those of you in retail who are now groaning in sympathy for the Anthropologie staff, I swear I put all the letters back the way I found them.  And no, I don’t have too much time on my hands, but I can see why you’d make that assumption.  Keep watching for more on Anthropologie, including an interview with Executive Creative Director Kristin Norris who’s been with the company for nearly two decades.

Former Open House star and KitchenLab founder Rebekah Zaveloff is a big Anthropologie fan.  Check out this floor lamp, which she purchased there (but which is unfortunately no longer available):

Continued . . .


I’m hooked

The folks at the Fine Art of Storage contacted me recently about including their product in my Under $25 Gift Guide.  I’m not sure I have such a guide, but perhaps I do and forgot (seriously, it’s possible and I don’t feel like checking right now).  But, and I’m speaking to you corporate P.R. folks, free products make me very happy.  Very.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  So while I can’t guarantee I’ll write about you, and I can’t guarantee I’ll write something positive (wink, wink – just kidding), I’d be happy to take a look-see.

The Fine Art of Storage folks claim their hooks prevent “hook bulge,” which is something I’d rather not think about much less have myself.  I’ve been using their product for about a week, and yea, no hook bulge.  Can you believe it?

Do you want one?  I can’t hear you!

Do you want one? I can’t hear you!

Do you want one?

Then pay attention because here’s what you have to do.  I have two to give away, and the first will be awarded to the reader who leaves the best, most relevant, complete and cohesive comment touching on all the items in this post.  The second will be awarded to the person whose answer I find to be the second most interesting.  See how that works?  Don’t worry about the other two participants; they’ll always be winners in my heart (whatever that’s worth).

The first caveat – you’re responsible for shipping costs.  I’d like to babe, but I can’t. Other caveats include – if you get hurt or catch bulge hook for some crazy reason, you agree that it’s not my bad.  (I know I’m good.  I once took the LSAT).


Big Apple Bound


I’m planning my upcoming trip to New York City, so I appreciate any suggestions about your favorite haunts, hotels or secret gems.  I’m really looking forward to my week; I’m going to profile John Derian’s Manhattan shop, photograph the excellent garden designer Ani Antreasyan’s warehouse, shoot a couple homes and hang out with close friends; I’ll be staying with former Open House star Matt (a friend since second grade) for, as he so carelessly put it, “as long as you want.”  Methinks he’ll rue the day (I’ve always wanted to say that) he left things so-open ended.  Still, I’d love to cover a few great boutique hotels so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Speaking of the big apple, you design-o-philes will want to check out the new New York Magazine (I ♥ NY magazine).  Interestingly, I love their “home tours” more than those in some of the big design magazines.  They’re spectacular but real, and the cats who live in them seem pretty interesting.  Be sure to pick up the issue (on newsstands now) to see more spaces.  Or after you finish reading this, you can scroll back up and then click here to read the articles online.    Here are some images from their new 2009 Interiors issue:


Kegan Fisher and Liz Kinnmark of Design Glut (from New York Magazine)


Future Perfect founder David Alhadeff's apartment from New York Magazine


Future Perfect founder David Alhadeff's apartment from New York Magazine


Pay for the change you want to read . . . uh, something like that

Again, if you like a particular magazine, please subscribe because if you haven’t been paying attention, the media’s biz ain’t doing so well.  I realize that being a blogger I’m part of the problem, but I’d also like to make a living doing this someday (don’t worry, I laugh too – until I’m in tears), and if we (yes, myself included) don’t start paying for what content we like, we’re going to be subjected to one of two things (neither of which are good):

A.)  Craptacular content (this time I’d like to think I’m not talking about myself, but I think we’ve all seen some cringe-inducing blogs (and to be fair, network TV as well))

B.) More intrusive advertising as publishers go ape-beep-crazy trying to figure out how to save their behinds.

Having said that, there are a lot of good blogs out there.  Which are your favorite?  Do Strange Closets readers enjoy other design blogs?  Are you a Chicagoan?  If so, what are your favorite local blogs?  How do you read them?  Do you subscribe by email?  Use a RSS reader?

I ♥ Marshall Field’s (Alternative Title:  I had a Jack Black attack (and I think I liked it!)

I stopped in at Nordstrom the other day, and a very good sales person engaged me about my razor burn.  While I was a bit taken aback by her brash demeanor and direct matter (I’m Norwegian, and I’m fine with that), I must admit my neck’s always a bit red and bumpy (gross I know).  I owe that dear woman so much, not only for making me aware of my flaws, but also for offering a very viable and reasonably priced solution, which will . . . gulp . . . make my life better.  So today I’m the proud owner of Jack Black’s lip balm, shaving cream, suntan lotion and yes, a delightful aftershave cooling gel.  Now that I’ve been using the products for a few days, you might be wondering what I think.  Hold on one second; I just need to remove my curlers and put my face on, but I’ll be right back to tell you all about my experience.

Be back in a jif . . .


What can I say?  This is some good damn stuff.  If the folks at Jack Black want to hook me up, I might even sponsor another give-away contest.  And while I’m not a woman (don’t be a Smart Alec), I suspect you’ll like this stuff as much as I do.    My lips are eminently soft and kissable; they feel like . . . all puffy and warm, like the special ingredients in Jack Black’s lip lotion are causing them to swell with blood (I know, I know! I should write ad copy).  I’d planned to entitle my forthcoming autobiography Chapped Lips, so now I’m in another fine pickle.  Why’s the stuff so good?  I visited their website to find out and read this:

What’s in our products: only the finest natural ingredients, including the most effective and pleasant raw materials. Many represent the latest science (emphasis mine) has to offer.

See I knew it; it’s real science.  Actually, I don’t really care if the stuff is good for me.  I’m all about the pleasure, and I feel good, so I’m on board.  One thing that’s indisputable (except, of course, nearly anything can be disputed) is that this stuff smells so damn good.  I’m so metro.

Why is he so inconsistent?  It’s not just one thing; it’s everything!

And about the Nordstrom’s thing, while I’m more retrosexual than metrosexual in my decorating choices, I’ve never taken to vintage clothing.  While I love the concept in theory, I get very bored and frustrated combing through racks of stuff I don’t like and which doesn’t fit.  Plus, did guys have shorter arms back in the day?

I realize department stores aren’t in vogue, but I really love them, especially the oh-so-expensive Nordstrom.  Still I’m open to being seduced away from the dark side, so I pose the question to you; where do you shop for your vintage designer duds?  Do you have tips?


This excellent photo was taken by Andrew Giammarco for The New York Times

Speaking of vintage, the New York Times published an article about how the success of Mad Men has led to an explosion in the demand for vintage watches.  I’ve long wanted a vintage Rolex (yes, it’s kind of gauche, but also stylish and sophisticated (or am I just programmed?)), but I’m sure the prices will now skyrocket.  Drat!

A Call to Action (Please Help!) – (This Time T8’s Serious!)

Will you please do me a big favor?  If you like a particular post, please send it to your friends and post it to services like Stumbled Upon, Facebook, Twitter and others.  Each of my posts has an icon located near the bottom for that very purpose.  If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want is to create another account, but . . . it’d mean a lot to me (that’s all I’m sayin’).  Contributing posts you like makes it more likely that perhaps one day, far far in the distant future, perhaps I’l make some money from this thing, just enough to get by. My requirements are modest.  I know this may be difficult to believe, but blogging can take a lot of time.  I know it looks very amateur-ish and there are frequent grammatical errors (thanks for pointing them out Carol), but those issues will be corrected if I make some moolah.

After all, if it weren’t for Stumbled Upon, I wouldn’t have seen this Foreign Policy article about Afghanistan quarantining its only pig.  First of all, one pig?  That’s all they got?  Guess who’s opening a bacon shop in Kabul?  It’ll be like eating gold.  All kidding aside, c’mon Karzai!  Don’t be so reactionary.  It’s just the flu.*


From Foreign Policy - he's a cute little fella

* Please do not refer back to last week’s Friday Roundup where I attempted to use humor to assuage my flu-fear.

Apartment Therapy recently ran a post about a new Ting London product I’ve been hearing quite a lot about – floor tiles made from recycled leather belts.  While some of their readers seem to find the notion a bit absurd, I think they’re rad, and I’d be willing to bet they’re extremely comfortable to walk on.  Or, I might consider using them to tile an entire room’s walls.  Thoughts?  And what’s next in this vein because you know this has got some designer’s wheels a’ turnin’.   Click here to read Apartment Therapy’s post.


Bea Good

Finally, I’d like to wish Bea Arthur a fond farewell.  I normally don’t get inordinately sad when celebrities pass away, but Bea’s passing really bummed me out.  My grandparents watched the Golden Girls religiously, and damn it, I got hooked.  That show is FUNNY, and she was really good as the acerbic Dorothy Zbornak, a tough-as-nails divorced woman who takes in her elderly mother Sophia, bla, bla, bla (didn’t that sound like E True Hollywood Story: Bea Arthur?)

I’ve done some thinking about why Ms. Arthur’s passing made me feel so sad, and I think I have an answer.  Obviously there’s the familiarity thing; we feel like we know famous people, especially people like Bea Arthur, who essentially played the same character throughout her entire career.  And of course there’s the mortality thing; when a celebrity dies we realize how fast time is passing in our own lives.  I think both are true, but I’m feeling something else.

I think sometimes people get sad when a celebrity dies because they really loved them, an unconditional love for somebody who’s brought them so much enjoyment.  That we don’t know the “real” celebrity makes no difference.  I think I’d feel sad about Bea Arthur passing even if I’d met her and been thoroughly disappointed.  That’s an unconditional feeling for sure; I guess we can debate about whether it’s love or something else.

Oh, when I went searching for an image to accompany this snippet, I found this image from, somewhat appropriately, the Tate Modern website.  The piece is actually very thought-provoking.  I think it’s about expectations, which is what comedy’s all about, right?  The surprise.  But it goes even deeper than that; why are we surprised?  Why can’t the funny woman be sexual?  And why do we cringe or find humorous the image of an older woman in the nude?  I’d like to think Bea Arthur saw this and  think she saw it to be interesting as well.


Have a great weekend!

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5 Responses to “The Friday Roundup (and a contest for you readers with a real prize and everything!)”

  1. Hi, Tate, I’m taking up the challenge to comment on every item in this column. Too bad they weren’t in alphabetical order, it would be easier to ensure I hit them all…
    Anthropologie: I didn’t know they did home decor, just clothes. The soap opera magazines mention soap stars who get their clothes there all the time. Great lamp: if you send a note to the company saying you featured it on this blog, maybe they will resurrect it.
    Fine Art of Living – The Hook: I use hooks I can suspend hangers from, prevents hook bump automatically. This one looks like it could be employed that way.
    New York: Haven’t been there since 1982, so I can’t provide much useful comment. Halloran House was a nice medium-priced hotel; the United Nations building’s gift shop was fantastic! I bet it is even better now than 27 years ago.
    Vintage Clothing: Courage My Love in Toronto is one of my favourite sources. I also frequent La Shoppe d’Or in Yorkville (high-end designer resale, vintage often shows up there), and the biannual Clothing Show and Sale, now held at a huge building at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Lots of vintage and modern at reasonable and sometimes unbelievable prices!
    The Afghan Pig: I’m sure the Canadian Forces troops stationed near Kandahar airbase would love to adopt it. And they wouldn’t even eat it for breakfast. The CF kitchens get all the bacon they can cook from home.
    The Recycled Belt Floor Tiles – oo la la! Love ’em. Talk about great for a dance floor/exercise room! Can you provide a cost?
    Bea Good: Yes, I too enjoyed Bea Arthur on Golden Girls, although Rue McClanahan (Blanche) was my favourite. She was the original “cougar” and still a great role model for a woman of a certain age.
    There! Hope I qualify for the contest. Let me know when I win and I will send you my mailing address directly to you by e-mail.
    Best wishes of the day!

  2. I love your Friday roundup! You are such a talent

  3. It’s too much pressure to preform Tate, although I can tell you that my favorite hotel in NYC is Hotel Roger Williams and that although Magnolia Bakery is post peak it is still worth the wait in line for a cupcake.

    Regarding Bea Arthur she will always be Maude to me and thank you very much that I now have to remember her topless. Nice.

  4. So…I had this great idea to write you a poem that touched on all the articles in this post, but it’s now 830ish in the morning and I lack the brainpower. So I’m doing an adaptation instead…

    :clears throat:

    It’s true that Anthropologie has ways that are winning, and Rebekah and give-aways set your heart spinning! Matt’s delightful, New York is disarming, Polar bears in freezers–charming! Magazines are dashing, aftershave is sweet! Nordstrom’s is smashing, Rolexes are treats. Facebook, Twitter, and your posts are convivial company, time and again. The pig and leather tiles and Bea are sorts I will agree are three jolly good sports, but cream of the crop, tip of the top – It’s Tate the blogger, and there we stop!

    (format shamelessly borrowed from Mary Poppins)

    Now…surely that’s worth winning the giveaway. I desperately need one of those hooks.

  5. Congrats to Tasha and Carol, really cool people who tied for first. I just can’t choose my favorite. Nice try to the many others (Dawn, Sam) who entered the contest, but better luck next time. Sam, you may continue to comment so long as they continue to be so complementary.