You know you're from San Francisco when...

London fog from way up above; November 2009 of the things you miss most while traveling is regular access to recycling and composting bins.

Autumn in New York

We had a very eventful trip to New York in October.  I have so many memories from the four years I spent there during college, but have recently been so busy exploring my new home, California, that I've really only made it back to "the city" a couple times a year since 2006.  Visiting New York in Autumn is really the tops.

Some highlights:

Hanging out with Woody Allen at the Carlyle on the Upper East Side, like old friends.  It's not super publicized, but Woody plays jazz clarinet there on some weeknights during dinner, and we were able to score a primo spot!

We also scored choice seats to see the last night of Chita Rivera's three night cabaret run at Birdland.  She was phenomenal-- such a pro. 

Not all of the music we saw was performed by senior citizens!  We also had brunch at Cafe Loup in the West Village, where we saw my cousin Ray Parker play bass (he's the one in the middle.)  Delicious food, jamming music and a familiar face-- a great way to make a big city feel cozy on a rainy Sunday.

We shopped for hats at the JJ Hat Center, the city's oldest and largest haberdashery.  The salesmen there are so sharp, and really know their stuff.  Move over, Bogie!

Of course we had some great cocktails-- we hit up one of my favorite old haunts, the Old King Cole bar at the St. Regis (newly restored mural above.) 

Brett also said one of my favorite things of all time during this trip, when, at a bar, I informed him that I overheard the couple next to us complaining about their Grey Goose cocktails.  "I'm sorry," he said, "But I have no sympathy for the plight of the vodka drinker."

We met Dan and Katie for dinner at Otto, Mario Batali's pizza place in the West Village.  I know, I know, this image is kind of dominated by the big shopping bag-- Katie had just bought a birthday pressy for a good friend at Juicy Couture.  Lucky lady!

Bagels, bien sûr.

We wrapped up the trip with some quality time with family in Brooklyn.  A perk of staying with family for a couple of days is being able to play with their cute dogs.

Chic Chicago

I went to Chicago for the first time last week to visit my sister Elycia. It was an amazing trip, with way too many good things to blog about-- but a highlight was going to the Chicago History Museum.

HEY!  Before you yawn and navigate away from this page, hear me out.  This museum was awesome—small enough to be digestible, and full enough to be fascinating.  The permanent collection includes the bed in which Abraham Lincoln died and an original waitress’ outfit from the first Playboy Club—dangerous AND sexy!

I particularly loved the “Chic Chicago” exhibit, which runs through July 26th 2009. It’s a collection of more than 60 couture outfits worn by Chicago society women from 1861 to 2004, and I would highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of his or her interest in fashion. It's a remarkably well put-together exhibit, and chock full of interesting information about the outfits on display and the women who wore them.

A gown designed by Madeleine Vionnet; worn by Mrs. Potter Palmer II  when she was presented to the Queen of England in 1938.

A gown (that weighs 17 pounds!) designed by Charles James and known as the "Butterfly"; Worn by Mrs. John V. Farwell III in 1954.

The coolest part about Chic Chicago was the installation's design: The gallery walls had large photos of Chicago’s factories and slaughterhouses with superimposed quotations from prominent 19th and 20th century writers about the seedy, gritty nature of the city.  Basically, the exhibit's organizers acknowledged that the enormous wealth that makes couture clothes available to certain people is often built on the backs of others who aren’t living in such charmed environs.  I thought that it was a brave and very responsible way to frame the exhibit.

We weren't allowed to take photos in the gallery, but I found a couple from the exhibit's opening soiree posted online (here and here you can see the photos and quotations I mentioned.)  I wonder if the socialites in the foreground of these photos were inspired at all by the exhibit's background to think about where their own clothes came from?