You’ve Got Mail!

“A letter posted in London before 10 o’clock could reach its recipient in the country by dinner time the same day.”                                                                       

This nugget of information comes from “Bloomsbury at Home,” a wonderful book chronicling life in the various homes of the impossibly talented Bloomsbury set, circa late 19th century, early 20th, one of those bygone eras of mucho letter writing for sure.  

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.26.21 AM

I know, I know, today we tweet and text and that prose is delivered in lightening speed that would leave the stunned Dowager Countess of Grantham grasping for her smelling salts. But check this out. Here’s a couple, profiled on a recent  “Sunday Morning” (CBS) segment, who may not be into letter-writing, but they’ve managed to create a digital literary keepsake that harkens back to the good old days, sort of. It’s not exactly a diary of letters –  Patrick Geraghty and Kristie Damell never wrote letters to one another, but a 21st century slant on one. “We had a whole history by text,” Patrick noted. So, this paragon of a husband printed those text messages (from the day they first met through their first anniversary) had them bound in a hardcover album (below) and presented it to Kristie on anniversary No. 1.  Anymore where he came from?

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.25.37 AM

Now, something for the small fry. How cute is this! The name, the colors. Fab.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.08.38 AM

Turtle Mail is a small wooden toy mailbox (above) for kids that prints messages sent via Wi-Fi from its web or desktop app. The idea came when one of the founders, Alysia Finger, noticed that when her daughter turned one-year-old, for gifts she was getting “really flashy electronics that felt like they were built for adults and just wrapped in rubber and plastic and marketed as kids products.” A word to the wise: “What I heard over and over during my interviews with parents and caregivers,” Finger told “Wired” magazine, “is that they were exhausted with screen time, apps, and video games…Many expressed how hard it was to get their kids off of computers and tablets.” Gee, what a surprise…For more about Turtle Mail go to:

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 5.25.26 PM

Size Matters?

No doubt you’ve been following our hard-to-avoid political theatrics on display at state primaries and caucuses. You’ve listened to campaign trail rants and debate shouting matches. And on the eve of tomorrow’s primary in Florida, you’ve witnessed violence and dust-ups. You’ve noticed a lot of talk – yelling – about bigness, from the gaping mouth of Donald Trump, the candidate with big bucks, super-size ego, tall order insults and alleged anatomical largesse.

Nothing small about the man, except his notion of taste. I was reminded of this character flaw, just one of many, right, when hearing about “The Polish Brigade.” That’s the gang of undocumented workers (from Poland) corralled by the Trump people in 1980 to demolish the old Bonwit Teller building, below, on Fifth Ave. to make way for the architectural clunker known as Trump Tower.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.44.53 PM

Just compare the two. Erected in 1929, the BT building was first known as the Stewart & Company store. Designed by the architects Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, traditional Beaux-Arts creators of mansions and clubs, it had an entranceway that was a “stupendously luxurious mix of limestone, bronze, platinum and hammered aluminum,” according to The New York Times. It was called “a sparkling jewel in keeping with the character of the store,” noted American Architect magazine at the time. “At the very top of the facade were limestone relief panels of two early naked (and therefore controversial) women brandishing large scarves, as if dancing,” The Times tells us. Check them out up close, above, during Trump’s demolition derby.

According to the paper, Trump had promised the limestone reliefs of the dancing women to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which wanted them for its sculpture collection. But they never made the trip up Fifth Ave. The workmen jackhammered them to bits. What caring follow through by the business man!

Now take a gander at the dark, soulless Trump Tower. What can you say about it?  That it’s ugly? Check. That it lacks any notable architectural detail or historical import? Double check.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.43.32 PM

This whole out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new led me just  a skip up Fifth Ave. where sits another venerable retailer, Bergdorf Goodman which has been at that location since 1928. Now the building is one of the backlogged properties The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is deciding the fate of. To grant landmark status to or not.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.36.09 AM

Talk about historical significance. First off, think what originally stood there: the 1883 Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion, the modest dwelling below, designed by George B Post and Richard Morris Hunt. Then realize had the city’s landmarks law been passed not a century ago, but just a few decades earlier, the Vanderbilt mansion would almost certainly be with us today.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.48.32 AM

Long may BG stand and just a few reasons why it should:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 7.14.28 PM

*Home to those classic lavender boxes with the fashionable ladies striding across the covers which I remember from my grandmother’s closet

*Launching pad for the designer Halston, first known for his millenary. Here, Halston adjusts one of his chapeaus.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.42.49 AM

*Set for Barbra Streisand’s 1965 show on CBS, “My Name is Barbra.”Below, Ms. B struts in GB’s fur department. Loved it!!

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.41.35 AM

BG’s too pricey for me these days, but boy is it fun to window shop and browse its storied aisles.