Tuesday, March 31

Seamus Mullen, Williamsburg

Reasons you want to visit Seamus Mullen: 1. It’s spacious and he collects cool stuff. 2. He’s the chef and co-owner at Boqueria, so if you’re lucky he might cook for you (at the very least, he pulls a mean Stumptown Hair Bender espresso). 3. Bright-blue size 7 roller skates were left by some girl after a party, and they glide easily over 1,548 square feet of hardwood floors. 4. Seamus is quite the entertainer on his ukulele.

Seamus and I were introduced when his friend Bob told me his buddy “Papi Chulo High Class” has a sweet loft I should check out. When we all met up on a recent Sunday night, Papi Chulo H.C. was coming from the Chelsea antiques market and had bought some Chinese propaganda posters. He was still thinking about a gigantic four-foot-long pipe wrench he didn’t purchase but maybe should have. That night I learned that Seamus—Papi Chulo—grew up in Vermont; is fluent in Spanish, having studied in Caceres, Spain; and later cooked in San Sebastian and Barcelona. He has crazy travel stories about organs (his own and the edible ones) and loves his grandmothers more than anything in the world. Both of them, Meme and Mutti, taught him how to cook.

By the end of the night, we’d split iPhone earbuds and were singing "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" by the Talking Heads. How appropriate for Homebodies, with its "Home" chorus?

I went to visit Seamus too early one morning soon thereafter. He’d had a big night out at an event with the prince of Spain. High class! Famous Seamus. "Sexiest Chef of NYC" Seamus.

So what's in the chef's kitchen? After a few laps around the pad, I stopped to take some pics...

A row of meat grinders. A scale and Mel Bay's book of ukulele chords on the island's marble countertop, which came from a deli in Brownsville, Brooklyn. A hanging basket of accidentally dried-up tomatillos. A ladder to nowhere. A rice container holding various spoons--his utensil of choice for "emphasizing a point," as he told the New York Times Diner's Journal in a great Q & A (his mother even commented). An awesome sink and faucet from IKEA. That's Seamus making espresso at the Francis Francis. Classic early '60s Pavoni. And his typical breakfast: yogurt and berries, with coffee.

Next to the Traulsen refrigerator is a chopping block. A butcher chart hangs above. The toy horse is a gift from Bob, and Seamus put a string of lights in its belly, so its middle chakras glow.
I highly suggest checking out Seamus's other habitats--the Boqueria restaurants in Chelsea and Soho. It's all about the brand new Sunday-night Domingo Familiar dinner. Says the chef, "$35 gets you Anchovy and Frisee Salad, Bev Eggleston's Suckling Pig, dessert and wine or sangria...can't beat that with a stick."

Saturday, March 21

Hayley Murphy, Venice

Hayley and I grew up a mile away from each other near fields of alfalfa in Parnell, Michigan. Our families both attended St. Patrick's church, so we'd genuflect toward the same altar weekly--as long as she wasn't skipping Mass to "babysit in the nursery." Too bad we didn't hang out much back then, but we reconnected a few months ago in ways that are unclear. Facebook? Through Betsy? Regardless, I'm so glad we did. She's still a wonderfully kooky character and is a talented celebrity photographer. She's also an awesome babysitter, I'd imagine, given all that practice.

Hayley lives with four other people in an artists' compound in Venice, California. She loves it here, but her last home in Venice was the house where the Cheech & Chong movie Up in Smoke was shot, so you can imagine that was loads of fun...

In the back, Hayley converted the shed into a studio. Amidst some borrowed lights and cone-shaped thingamajigs, she's working on a catalog project: Osiris sneakers. There's a courtyard with a koi pond just outside.

The bay window in Hayley's room makes her work space so serene, and the potted plants look right at home with the garden on the other side of the glass. Hayley made the painting with oils she inherited from her grandmother, and she framed it with wood from the window of an old house. The hallway to the bedroom from the living room.

Living Room and Dining Room
Tall ceilings, an indoor swing near views of the garden, a fireplace with cherubs and broken cups and plates set in the concrete. In the corner, roommate Nikki's piano and an inspirational bust. Russian folk songs. Why not?

If I lived here, I would come in here just to look out the window at the wall of vegetation.

Footpaths, ferns and flower boxes. I love Venice. It's nice when the bars on the windows are pretty. Helps you forget why they're there. Off to work! Hayley and I left to go try talking to the people who live in RVs.

Hayley was the first person whose place I photographed for this blog, so I didn't really know what I was looking for yet. I wish I'd let her take care of the photos--they'd be so much better.

Saturday, March 14

Pamela, Venice

Pamela is another resident of Venice who lives in an RV, like recent Homebodies post Anthony Lamonea. He lives around the corner. Pamela recently planted a garden in the parking strip--the patch of land between the curb and the sidewalk--across from her place. Apparently the city doesn't own these plots of land (not that I've thoroughly investigated), and it regulates only trees in such areas. Some communities, like Venice, are much more relaxed about these things, anyway.

Aforementioned photographer-friend Hayley Murphy had recently taken some photos of Pamela, and we went back to visit her on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, hoping she'd let us tour her van. "No way!" said Pamela. "If I let you inside, you'll never talk to me again."

She did let us take photos of her streetside garden and the RV's exterior. So use your imagination.

We caught her right as she was coming from church in the Valley. She put on lip gloss for her portraits. I was amazed at how comfortable she was in front of a camera. And how great Hayley was at shooting her! Quick story: She says she was waiting tables in NYC back in the day, and a man told her that her perfectly symmetrical features would make her an excellent subject to paint. He was an artist, he said. Pamela graciously accepted the compliment and returned to the kitchen to hear her coworkers squealing about the man seated in her section. "You don't know who that is?" they cried. "It's Andy Warhol!" OK, OK...

This is the part where you have to imagine.

Turns out I don't know much about the garden, either. She's pointing to succulents. She's posing with her cat. And that's Hayley being Hayley. I'll link to Hayley's much better photos of Pamela when they're posted to her website. If you're ever near Pamela's plants, give them water and talk to them softly.