Tuesday, June 29

M. Gunnison's Classical Lair

"I'm not a Minimalist," said M. Gunnison when I remarked on the amount of furniture and decor that fits in the apartment. It's kind of amazing how large-scale items, and lots of them, work in the small space. He's been here for ten years. It was the original wide-plank floors that sold him. After viewing about 40 apartments, "I knew I'd found a keeper." On the top floor, it gets good light. One wall was painted white when he moved in; he painted the others red.

The furniture has been arranged a number of ways, but the most recent iteration took shape when a downstairs neighbor sold him the large ebony table (more visible in this post). The blinds are from a garbage pile, and the curtains are from Utility Canvas, which once did business at 146 Sullivan.

Below, M. Gunnison in the mirror, the first item bought specifically for the apartment. He found it at the old antique fair on 26th Street. Perhaps he's reflecting on the state of the water stain. "It's steadily gotten worse over the years. I'm on the top floor, so it means there's a failure in the roof-membrane somewhere on the surface," he says (remember, he's in the field of architecture.) "But these things track a long distance and finding the source is impossible." Now this is the right attitude: "I kind of like it, anyway, because it marks the passage of my stay here, so I don't bother painting over it."
The tiles are from the U.S. Custom House in San Francisco. They're mementos from when they earthquake-proofed the building "in the early aughts," he says. The hibachi grill was there when he moved in. He's never used it. As for the windows, that's as clean as they get. "The seal has leaked and moisture penetrated the double glazing." Don't hold it against him.

To the right of the entrance is the kitchen. The lantern is there to keep him from hitting his head on pots and pans that hang nearby.
A pair of black wings from his 2007 Halloween costume are tucked into the corner between the living area and the kitchen. "I went as the zeitgeist from Hermann Hesse's Demian. It was a dark year." Nearby are pen-and-ink drawings of ships rendered by an artist friend of his grandfather's, 1941.

Monday, June 28

M. Gunnison, Soho

On Easter, I was visiting my local cafe, Local, and hanging out with some of the, well, locals, including M. Gunnison. He practices classical architecture and lives nearby. I wasn't doing much. Neither was he. He was in a suit and a pink tie and his Easter socks, coming from Easter brunch. "Wanna be on my blog?" "OK." We took our iced coffees and headed out, though I only had my iPhone to photograph. I followed him, above, to the top floor. He says the paint job in the stairwell reminds him of run-down naval barracks you might find out in Sandy Hook. Below, the living area when you open the door...

Sunday, June 27

Happy Pride! Party at Jimmy's

My neighbor across the hall, Jimmy Hilburn, is hosting a Gay Pride party today for about 20 close friends. We have similar apartments, roughly 300 square feet, I think, so he was mildly concerned when nearly everyone he invited responded with an RSVP. Would they all fit? They'd have to.

Chairs were unfolded. My glass pitcher* was borrowed. At 11:15 am, limes were being sliced. The monkey bread wasn't yet baked.

*Actually, it's Matthew Loren Cohen's pitcher, but I took over his apartment when he signed up for life at sea with Second City, and with his apartment came a lot of glassware. Thanks, Matt!

Jimmy is a marketing director at AMC, but he's also a fantastic photographer and a painter--a true all-around artist, as you might guess by looking at his well-designed apartment. Everything works together, and it's an efficient use of space. When I set up my place, on the other side of the wall where his sofa is, I paid attention to how he divided the areas. Well, let's just say our places are pretty much mirror images but in different palettes: my sofa is on the other side of his; my bed, too; the rug, yes. Some pics from poking around...

Below, his bed. It's tucked in next to a desk with high shelves, so it looks and feels like its own area. We share the fire escape! The radiator--switched off--serves as a nightstand. The setup for the party. Those TV trays were mine and I used them in my last apartment, but they didn't work in my new place. Luckily, Jimmy came over and fell in love with them just as I was about to list them on Craigslist. They match his place perfectly.

The kitchen area. On the wall just outside the kitchen is this handy hanging organizer. Jimmy says his mom gave it to him--maybe it's from MoMA? [UPDATE! Mondoblogo reports it's a 1970s design by
Dorothee Maurer-Becker for Ingo Maurer, reissued by Vitra.] The stove. Paints in a bowl on top of the microwave, next to the sugar.

Raef, left, and Nicole, right, roll dough for monkey bread. Nice rug. Jimmy throws the balls into a bag of sugar before placing them in the pan. The table of food. The fruit is mixed with honey and mint--yum! 
The guests arrived--and last time I checked, they all fit. Jimmy has very handsome friends. The boy below--I think his name is Andre--has awesome shoes. "They're my war prize," he said. "They're my ex-boyfriend's."
Obama, why don't you join us? The paper-cutout Obama head is a memento from election night. It's stuck into the hanging organizer, and when I went to snap this photo of the room, well, someone just had to make an appearance.

Friday, June 25

Back at Bill's

Back at Bill's, in the bedroomBill Shapiro seems like a pretty organized guy; I like the (organized) chaos atop his bedside dresser. A jumble of relatively related stuff is kept in neat boxes. All the keys—all those keys?!—are in one area. Collected collar stays. Below, cuff links and an old driver's license from his San Francisco days. The pressed-tin ceiling is my favorite feature of the bedroom. Great for counting sheep.

Thursday, June 17

I'm Alive!

This morning I got an email from an old friend in Germany: "What happened? Are you alive? You're no longer on Facebook and you haven't updated your blog in days..."

I'm alive! My love-hate relationship with Facebook teetered way over to the hate side and stayed there, so we broke up. I might go back someday. And the rest of my semester, in addition to work, consumed every waking minute, so I had to ignore HB for a bit, too. Sorry. I'm back, briefly today.

I'm at a writers' residency at Bennington College in Vermont, as part of my master's program, and I'm staying in a college dorm. I can't show you my whole room -- I can't show you my mud-soaked running shoes from the hike around the nearby lake; the sweatpants draped over the end of my bed, still wet from a run in the rain yesterday; the unmade bed with its scratchy bedcovers, pink and forest green. It's too gross, and it's not exactly harmonious. I'm living like an animal. A damp animal who's been pounded by a few consecutive days of rain.

I will show you a few things. Above, clockwise from the top: The only light in the room, a desk lamp with a whopping 52-watt bulb; a golf ball found on the hike around the lake; Amtrak ticket home; moisturizer with sunscreen (I always wear it); workshop material to read one more time; an awesome railroad tie, also found on the hike; short films by Baillie; computer; cords and such; a Bennington College cup filled with cold tea, once hot; a phone with the loudest. Ring. Ever.

Below, my bookshelves. I just bought books by Amy Hempel and Major Jackson, both profs in this program, and I can't wait to read them. My camera. I travel with Lavazza espresso. I brought my hard drive, thinking I'd have time to reorganize its contents. So soothing. The stack of papers is from my workshopped material -- lots of contradictory notes I need to reread and decipher. Looking forward. I brought the bear rug to school because it no longer has a place in my apartment. And finally, the view out my window into the courtyard. The buildings here are lovely, even for us animals.