A close shave

Navigating the streets of New York can be a challenge this time of year.  The bodies blob together and form an unmoving mass on Fifth Avenue and all through midtown.  The blob is unmovable and refuses to part.

2013-12-19 16.27.49What’s a fast walker to do?  Find the mid-block  cut-throughs, of course.  Today, I happened onto a kind of alleyway filled with sculpture, like this Leda and the Swan by Botero.  Love it.

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And this perfectly silent walkway with fountains and lights–more magical than any Bergdorf window.

A close shave averted…for the moment.  I decided on an early Thai dinner at a restaurant so tiny that I can napkin-daub the lips of the person at the next table without straightening my arm.  I arrived at the unfashionable hour of 4:45 and was seated right away at the last remaining seat.  At the bar, I discovered that one has elbow room, but is knocked continually along the backside.  Still, the food is good, cheap, and fast, which works because I had places to go and people to see.

Laurie Metcalf in jeans, Jeff Goldblum in his costume--a suit

Laurie Metcalf in jeans, Jeff Goldblum in his costume–a suit

I wanted to hear what Jeff Goldblum would say about his character in Domesticated, during a pre-show conversation at Lincoln Center.  Not only did that cast have time before their 8 pm curtain, but so did I.

Goldblum plays a womanizing gynecologist (ewww) turned philandering politician (how obvious).  What makes the show different from the headlines is what happens next.  I saw the play a couple of months ago, but vividly remember his close shave with the dark side consequences of his affair.  But another tight corner was avoided by both Goldblum and his co-star Laurie Metcalf by discussing the play’s process, not their characters.

My favorite close shave of the day belonged to the Met, and its new exhibit on dressing tables through the ages.   I’m newly in love with the Met.  Every time I go now, it is such a joy.  This small exhibit gives you plenty of time and space to savoy reach gem.

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The ancient Egyptians loved their makeup, and formulated the concept of a box of vial and jars of stuff on a table just for that purpose.






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Look at the intricate beauty of the inlaid patterns and scenes on This dressing table for Madame du Pompadour.  This table was designed with all her passions included–gardening, architecture, nature–the motifs are all there to please her.

Several more French, Italian, and even American examples each sing their glories.

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Elegance was not reserved for women.  The shaving table was essential for the eighteenth-century gentleman.  And check out the wig cabinet, all the rage after Louis XIII started the 2013-12-19 11.17.15courtier-gentlemanly fashion of wearing a wig in 1624.

Give me a box like this, and I might don one, too, when visiting court!





2013-12-19 11.12.47The lady needs a place to keep her combs, of course.  The dense-teeth side was inserted into the hairdo, while the fine side was used for combing out lice.  Ah, the costs of beauty.

Still you might forget all your cares if you use this 1736 Chinese jewelry box.

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Hogarth spoofs the way the privileged turned the private function of the toilette into the public, blurring the intimacy of a flirtation with the boudoir as public reception space.



2013-12-19 11.11.03Fun fact: in the Renaissance, toilette shifted from being an object (a box with jars and pots of creams) to an activity.  Think about it.  As more time was spent with the action of preparing one’s face and hair and…, the more specialized the tools became, necessitating a table to hold all those goodies.  A medicine cabinet today, though, is a pretty dispiriting  swap for this set.

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Instead you might want this spectacular 20th-century-modern jewelry case for holding your JAR jewels.  No, not a jar of jewels, but Joel A. Rosenthal’s contemporary, bejeweled creations.





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For a mere $4000, you can even buy a small piece of his at the Met’s gift shop.  Then you have to get your antique dressing table to house it and your jewelry case.  You’ll be all set for the holidays, unless you need a close shave.  Then you’ll need this shaving table…

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One thought on “A close shave

  1. Another grouping of interesting comments about my favorite city on this continent. AND your comments about the Met Museum reflect ours completely. My husband and I are both loyal members of this museum. Have beenfor years. Each visit to Manhatten begins and ends with a visit to this gem of fascinating experiences. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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