Friday, February 27, 2009

Shoe, Fly—Vintage Brass Ashtrays

Mr. Peacock acquired the vintage shoe ashtray from his paternal grandmother, Opal. She never smoked, however, she always had a very large decorative ashtray displayed on a coffee table in her living room. She also had a few smaller "personal" ashtrays, including this shoe, in her “television” room for my father to use when we made visits to her home.

This little brass shoe ashtray was made in India and has a foliage design etched on the surface. I love the fine gauge brass wire used for the shoelace.

My grandmother Opal had this shoe since the late 1920’s. It’s fairly small, about 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. Mr. Peacock loved playing with this little "wingtip" when he was a child.

I got the brass fly ashtray from my mother. She smoked, on and off, at various times in her life. Sometimes she would sit on our porch watching the birds take a birdbath while smoking a cigarette in one hand, and holding the little fly ashtray in her other hand.

It’s from the 1960's and, like the shoe, is also made in India. The wings are on a hinge and can be raised while you’re smoking. Mr. Peacock uses it as a decorative object in his living room. Both of my brass ashtrays have a lovely patina, and are not shiny like the new brass ashtrays. There's similar fly ashtrays on eBay right now, click here.

You can still find these inexpensive “personal” brass ashtrays from India at yard sales, flea markets and eBay. Here’s some vintage brass ashtrays I found on eBay:

Mr. Peacock loves this little crabby guy. You don't have to use it as an ashtray—you could use to store something (keys, jewelry, etc...) inside its shell. There's quite a few brass crab ashtrays on eBay right now, click here.

There’s many “Sultan’s Shoes” to be found on eBay too, click here.

It was a prerequisite,
when Mr. Peacock was growing up, to have decorative ashtrays in your home because so many people smoked. Times have changed and fewer people smoke now—at least tobacco, that is. I guess that's why I see so many large vintage ashtrays at flea markets. Some of the vintage ashtrays are really beautiful and I always try to think of ways I could re-purpose them.

Do you have any decorative ashtrays at your home?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Modern Lady with Panache

Mr. Peacock has introduced you to different male peacocks who live their lives to the beat of their own drums, but I will now introduce you to an extraordinary lady with panache—Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. This former advertising writer (Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, and McCann Erickson) burned out on advertising about 10 years ago and has since tried to live her life in the most meaningful way possible. Art, literature, friends, food, laughter, and travel give Lisa contentment in her busy life.

Above: Lisa in her Wellies, enjoying a moment in Scotland.

This talented lady with panache, in addition to being a wife and mother, is a serious adventurer whose travels and experiences have taken her around the globe. She chronicles her adventures and experiences on her lovely blog, A Bloomsbury Life. Los Angeles is Lisa’s current home base and she’s usually up by 6am brewing copious cups of coffee with her Moka pot. Each morning she loves hearing the chirp of the birdsong and the gradual stirrings of life in her house and neighborhood. It’s a peaceful time...until her son wakes up! Lisa also finds time to embroider beautiful modern tableau vivants and samplers—indeed, a lady with panache!

Above left to right: Lisa's son, Luca, noshing in the kitchen. Mr. Peacock loves the wonderful tartan cushions and Timorous Beasties wallpaper; Lisa in Cairns, Australia, part of her National Geographic around-the-world trip.

Mr. Peacock: How would you describe your own style?
Lisa Borgnes Giramonti: I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to style. I am a big believer in buying what you love and making it work. Your home is a visual expression of your personality, and quirks are what make it unique and distinctive. I don’t like perfection. In terms of interior design, I am drawn to everything from bohemian textiles to modern interpretations of traditional prints, like Timorous Beasties “London” Toile de Jouy. I am currently fascinated with burlap—as upholstery, as curtains, as pillow; its coarseness and texture feel very modern to me.

Above: The "Bloomsbury Life" dining room...the table is set, the lights are low, the candles are lit, and Lisa's "Original Fake Bookcase" wallpaper is glowing—readied for a wonderful meal with family and friends.

My overriding principle in creating a great room is to think of it as though you’re inviting guests to a cocktail party: you don’t want everyone from the same company or wearing the same outfit. That would be boring. The mix is what creates tension and vitality. In my dining room, I have hand-tinted “Original Fake Bookcase” wallpaper by Deborah Bowness (see photo above), a mid-century Danish dining table and an iron horseshoe bench with a white goat fur cushion (see photo below), all grounded by a faded and slightly threadbare antique rug. It all works because although the pieces have vastly different provenances, they each have enough personality to stand on their own.

Above: Lisa snapping a self-portrait in her gorgeous bathroom; the amazing horse-shoe bench, draped with a goat fur, in her dining room.

MP: Where did you grow up?
LBG: I was born in Brussels, Belgium and grew up in Oslo, Stockholm and London. I loved Europe and remember it vividly. When I was nine, my Norwegian father, who worked for Ford of Europe, was transferred to world headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. It was a blow, to say the least. No offense to the people who live there, but I spent the next ten years dreaming up ways to escape.

Above left to right: Vanessa Bell; her sister, Virginia Woolf, and Vanessa a young women; a Vanessa Bell painting.

MP: Who's your style icon?
LBG: I adore Vanessa Bell, one of the founders of the Bloomsbury Group (namesake of Lisa's blog—A Bloomsbury Life). Her house at Charleston is a perfect reflection of the values she deemed important in life: art, literature, friendship, and beauty. She lived an unconventional life by Victorian standards (married amicably to Clive Bell, her deepest relationship was with Duncan Grant, father of her daughter and good friends with Clive) and despite the deaths of her sister Virginia Woolf and her son Julian, she kept on keeping on, striving to find meaning and beauty in life despite its tragedies.

MP: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your style?
LBG: Definitely my two eccentric English roommates, Mary and Jane Brannigan, who I lived with in Williamsburg, Brooklyn after college. Mary was a couturier who specialized in neo-Edwardian fitted suits, and Jane was a music promoter/Jill of all trades. They were Pre-Raphaelite beauties with a thrilling ability to find glamour, drama and humor in everyday existence. From them, I learned that style isn’t about money, it’s about attitude. We lived in a Civil War-era carriage house that was always freezing; once I came home to Mary, in high heels and red lipstick, sawing up a dining chair to use as kindling. When it rained, you had to use an umbrella in the bathroom. We draped velvet throws over threadbare sofas and planted real moss on the mantelpiece. It was a bewitching time.

My bedroom faced a Polish sausage casing factory, not the most scenic of views, so I transformed it into a Moroccan fantasy, with dark tangerine walls and a navy-blue ceiling with cloudlike swirls to conjure up a brooding night. I hung a mosquito net over the bed and decorated the room with vintage fabrics and cushions. It was all very "Sheltering Sky."

MP: Any book, film or song that changed your life?
LBG: Pippi Longstocking, the one starring Inger Nilsson (see photo, above left). As a child, I remember being struck by her ability to live life on her own terms, her disdain for petty-minded bourgeoisie, and her passion for travel. I also remember being quite taken with her house: it was a colorful hippy-bohemian Marimekko paradise.

Above: Peter Dunham "Samarkand" curtains framing the windows in Lisa's warm and eclectic living room.

MP: Do you have a favorite brand, designer or shop?
LBG: I think everything that Peter Dunham designs for his showroom, Hollywood at Home, captures that elusive mix of aristo-bohemian globetrotting chic to which I aspire. It’s very Jackie Kennedy in Jaipur, Amanda Harlech in Devonshire and Jemima Khan in San Tropez.

In London, I make a mad dash for Liberty and Co. the moment I land.

Above left to right: Lisa's friend, Belinda, perusing tote bags at the famed Chandni Chowk market in India; a stolen moment at an Indian textile shop.

In Delhi, I love Chandni Chowk, the legendary outdoor market in Old Delhi. I found the most amazing eco-shopping bags emblazoned with Bollywood movie posters for 50 cents each that I gave to all my friends.

I am a big believer in visiting the local supermarket of whatever city you’re visiting. They always have the best cheap finds. Last summer in Normandy, when the euro was ridiculously high, I was despairing of finding gifts for friends until I found the most amazing sea salt at the local supermarche in a canister shaped like a lighthouse, for about a dollar apiece.

MP: You've lived in 3 amazing cities: Los Angeles, Manhattan and
London. What do you adore and abhor in each city?

LBG: Los Angeles
• Love the Hollywood Hills with their endless hiking trails, the scarlet bougainvillea and the star jasmine bushes, which give up their scent as night approaches.
• Love driving along Mulholland Drive (above right) at night—it becomes a two-lane country road on top of a mountain, with a glittering city of dreams spread out below you.
• Love the old-school restaurants in this town: the restaurant at Chateau Marmont (above left), the Tower Bar, the Polo Lounge (above center), Musso and Frank’s, Dan Tana’s—Old Hollywood is alive and well.
• Hate the sun in high summer, because it turns into a relentless Klieg light over the city until September.

• Love London cabdrivers and the roomy black cabs (above right); love the ancient streets, lane and alleys that haven’t changed since Roman times.
• Love all the museums, the Victoria and Albert Museum especially (above left), with its amazing cafe and gift shop.
• Love Rules Restaurant on Maiden Lane (above center), which has been consistently operating since 1798, and has the best sticky toffee pudding in the worldbe sure to ask for a side of custard to pour over it.
• Hate the traffic.

New York:
• Love Freeman's restaurant (above right), the Bowery Hotel and lower Manhattan, which is one of the only areas that, to me, still feels linked to its past.
• Love the Gild Hotel (above left), deep inside Wall Street, it was a revelation to me on my last trip—the buildings are so close to each other down there they almost block out the sky. It felt mysterious, exciting and very "Gangs of New York."

• Hate the provincial attitude of some of its citizens who believe that NYC is the epicenter of the world and never bother to get a passport and expand their horizons.

MP: What is your favorite city as a travel destination?
LBG: Right now, I’m loving Bruges (see above) in the off-season, when it reverts to an elegant medieval town. The interior design there is fabulous—it’s Axel Vervoordt with a dose of English bohemianism thrown in. Lots of dark painted woodwork, colorful threadbare kilims and pattern-on-pattern. Very Dries Van Noten, actually.

MP: Any trips/travels that unexpectedly exceeded your expectations?
LBG: India, India, India! I can't say enough about it (see above). It's ironic, because until I visited it, I had NO desire to go there. It is a revelatory place in so many ways. Yes, it's chaotic, yes, it's dirty, yes, you will see things that horrify you. But somehow amidst all the confusion, your soul is at peace. There is an amazing sense of stillness and centeredness that surrounds and envelops you. I feel much more relaxed there than I ever do in Manhattan. The beauty, the people, the food, the temples…do anything you can to go there!

Lisa's keen eye captures wonderful moments from her global journeys including, clockwise from top left: a woman with a llama in Cuzco, Peru; an elder woman at Angor Wat, Cambodia; the iconic sculptures on Easter Island.

MP: Any favorite treasure or treasures from a trip?
LBG: I went on a month-long around-the-world trip with National Geographic via private jet in 2007 and we traveled to Macchu Picchu, Easter Island, Cambodia, Tibet, where I picked up some wonderful mementos. But my favorite treasures are my photos from the trip—I experience a visceral rush when I look at them and am immediately transported back to the moment.

Above: "Apartment in NYC"—Lisa's painterly embroidery captures the essence of a past home in the 1990's.

MP: When and how did you start creating your unique modern embroideries?
LBG: I began my embroideries about fifteen years ago after becoming obsessed with The Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval embroidered “cartoon strip” that tells the story of the Norman Invasion. I wanted to create personal pieces that reflected my life in the same way. I usually base my pieces on photos that I have taken. I look for images that have a strong perspective, clean lines and lots of visual interest. Once I’ve chosen a subject, I draw a rough outline onto linen, attach the fabric to a stretcher and begin the process of choosing my color palette.

Above: "Purly Wurly Takes a Picture," has the same verve and vitality as a Vanessa Bell painting—note all of the thoughtful details in Lisa's embroidery work.

MP: Do you find needlework and embroidery to be therapeutic?
LBG: Absolutely! I stream BBC Radio 4 or put on a good podcast and sit down to sew, and before I know it, it’s time to go pick up my son from school.

MP: What's your favorite food or meal?
Aperitif: Campari and soda with a splash of orange juice.
Main course: Moules meuniere, frites and a salade verte.
Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding
Afterwards: Single espresso and a small thimbleful of port.

MP: What male peacock has the best style today?
LBG: Hands down, Lapo Elkann, the Fiat heir and modern-day dandy. His grandparents are Gianni and Marella Agnelli, so good taste obviously runs in the genes. I know he’s had his share of shady indiscretions, but come on, a blameless life is a bit boring, don’t you think?

Above: A modern-day dandy—Mr. Lapo Elkann.

MP: What city has the most stylish men?
LBG: I’m partial to Milan. My husband worked there for years and I found the men there to be sartorial geniuses, all of them. They’re not afraid of color or pattern-on-pattern, which I love. Those classic navy quilted jackets. Beautiful cashmere sweaters. Bespoke shirts with bold silk ties. Chunky dark sunglasses. Handmade leather shoes. They don’t miss a detail.

MP: Do you "collect" anything?
LBG: Yes, I collect friends, stories, laughter and experiences. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”

Mr. Peacock is in awe of Lisa Borgnes Giramonti's creativity, talent and joie de vivre. Treat yourself to a tea break this afternoon, and stop by Lisa's blog, A Bloomsbury Life, for a lovely read. Thanks Lisa for sharing your inspirations, travels, and artwork!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last stop—San Francisco

Above left to right: My mother, JoAnn, at 11 years old; 13 years old, with her younger brother, Jerry (my uncle).

When Mr. Peacock’s mother was 13 years old, she lived with her family in Lincoln, Nebraska. One day my mother and her best friend decided to leave the sleepy cornfields of Nebraska and hitchhiked together to California. Mind you, this was at least 10 years before Jack Kerouac's On the Road was even published. They ended up in San Diego, hitchhiking up the coast, stopping through Los Angeles, and ending up in San Francisco. They befriended and stayed with two gay sailors when they arrived in the city by the bay. These were the first gay men my mother met in her life, but not the last. The sailors showed the girls around San Francisco and took them clubbing at night. Meanwhile back in Nebraska, my grandmother was worried sick, and my mom’s best girlfriend’s father hired a private detective to track them down. My mother’s California adventure lasted only a few weeks, until the detective found them and brought them back to Nebraska—but San Francisco left a permanent spell on my mother. Years later, when I lived in San Francisco, she still remembered the address of those gay sailors, and wondered if they were still alive.

Above: Christmas, 1991, at Mr. Peacock's place in San Francisco.

Mr. Peacock has lived in both Manhattan and San Francisco. My mother would usually visit me twice a year wherever I lived: once in July, to celebrate her birthday; and then again at Christmas or New Year’s Eve. She liked New York, but had a soft spot for San Francisco. She often said, “The minute I get off the airplane and smell the air in San Francisco, I feel different…”

About 8 years ago, my younger sister noticed that my mother’s checking account wasn’t balanced, which was unheard of for my mother. We convinced her to go to a doctor, and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. People with this illness are very crafty at hiding their symptoms, so neither my sisters or myself knew the extent of her memory loss or her ability to do everyday activities. She told me she wanted to come to San Francisco one last time, which was very heartbreaking for me to hear. My mother was an extremely independent person and usually would spend her daytime visits alone exploring the city, while I was at work. She loved The Castro Neighborhood and usually made fast friends during her daytime jaunts. At night, when we would be out and about together, we would frequently run into guys and gals yelling and waving to her, “Hey JoAnn!”

Above: My mom loved going to events at The Castro Theater—in the background.

On her last visit, against her wishes, I took the entire week off from work, which was a good decision because she could barely remember her way around my neighborhood. After she arrived, she began compulsively organizing and sorting the contents of her suitcase and kept complaining about her shoulder length hair. Everyone has “bad hair” days, but with Alzheimer’s it becomes an emotional trauma. My mother usually sported short hair in her life, however, as her illness progressed her hair got longer. I think it was sort of a stress release to fiddle with her hair. Her shoulder length hair looked casually elegant, with some flattering gray streaks, and I told her it looked great.

Above: My mom's drivers license photo, at around 40 years old. One of the few times in her life, when she had shoulder length hair.

My mother became completely fixated on her hair for the first few days—questioning whether to get it cut or go get curlers and curl it, or to tie it back. I kept telling her it looked fine, but she wouldn't believe me. I finally lost my patience and snapped, “Then let’s go get your hair cut right now!” She went in the bathroom, closed the door and cried. I felt awful and realized the Alzheimer’s was making us both crazy. To console her, I suggested we go out to dinner in The Castro, and then dancing at a big dance club. Her mood immediately changed, but then she took hours to decide what she was going to wear. She finally decided to wear a vintage off-white men’s smoking jacket with a black blouse, black tuxedo style slacks, black heels. She loosely parted her hair on one side, and let it gently cascade down around her face. I complimented her, but she didn’t believe or listen to me. We went to dinner and while we waited at the bar, she made fast friends with some hot guys, and began repeating herself in succession. The guys joked with her, not knowing she had Alzheimer’s, “Somebody’s had a few too many cocktails!?” And we all laughed.

Above: Posing in front of Stars restaurant in the late 1980's. My mother liked polka dots too.

After dinner, my mother and I went to the dance club. The club was super crowded and the music was thumping, and my mom was beaming. We made our way to the bar and ordered drinks and meandered through the club. I had to go to the bathroom, and unfortunately the crowded bathrooms at this club weren’t unisex. I instructed my mother to wait outside of the men’s room and not go anywhere. She defensively replied, “I’m not a child, where am I going to go anyway?”

Above: San Francisco in the late 1980's, my mom loved jazz!

When I came out of the restroom, my mother was nowhere in sight. I panicked for a split second, but I quickly pulled myself together and thought she has to be in here somewhere. I quickly scoped out the two bars and smaller dance area—with no luck. I then entered the large sweaty and dark dance floor area. It was extremely crowded with countless shirtless men, and some Madonna re-mix loudly thumping on the giant sound system. Occasionally the spotlights would illuminate the dance floor enough so I could see people’s faces. I finally spotted her dancing with a group of good-looking young muscle guys. She was dancing like a go-go dancer in some 1960’s psychedelic movie, throwing her hair back and forth. She was in complete euphoria at that moment, lost in the music and the dance floor—completely forgetting all of her worries and her illness. I grabbed her arm when they exited the dance floor and she shouted to the guys, “This is my son!” It turned out the guys were all hairdressers and had approached my mother outside of the men’s room to compliment her on her hair and outfit. She explained that she was visiting her son and one thing led to another and they all ended-up on the dance floor. The hairdressers hugged her good-bye and told me what a great person my mother was, and complimented her again on her hair. We laughed about it after they left, and the next day she quit worrying about her hair, and her illness. The duration of the trip flew by, and we had a wonderful time. She purchased handfuls of little glow-in-the-dark Buddhas in China Town, which she gave to everyone as a souvenir of her last trip to San Francisco.

My mom is now at an assisted living facility, and doesn’t remember what I look like, but she still recognizes my voice on the telephone. I can simply say San Francisco and she laughs with joy, and I know it still makes her happy. My little souvenir glow-in-the-dark Buddha (see photo above) sits in my medicine cabinet and each time I open it, I’m reminded of my mother’s last stop to her beloved city of San Francisco, and how much I miss her.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Going Back to the Old School

(click image above to enlarge)

1) Mr. Peacock loves these vintage inspired bookcases! They look like they should be on the back wall of a second grade school room filled with little snow boots and lunchboxes. The detailing on these modular units is nice too (see detail photo below right). Of course they would be great in an office, but I think they would be handsome in kitchen too. More information here.

2) Watchin’ the clock until the school bell rings…this old school style Newgate Clock would be great in either a traditional or modern interior. Order one here.

3) How about a big shiny apple for your teacher? This 1960's pop art apple ice bucket will make any teacher happy. More information here.

4) Who needs old school encyclopedias when you have Taschen’s complete reprint of Arts & Architecture from 1945-1954—ten years, ten boxes, 118 issues. Each box contains a years worth of the groundbreaking magazine, which launched the Case Study House Program. Buy a set here.

5) You’ll learn more than the ABC’s with these 1920’s Vintage Brass Stencils. They would be great for customizing and labeling your vintage bookcase, or stenciling gift boxes. This set would also look interesting framed; highlighting the beautiful patina and shape of each letter. Buy this set here.

6) This desk lamp looks like it could have been in the studio of some Constructivist poet or artist. It would look equally great on your vintage oak desk, or a modern Ikea table. More information here.

7) Mr. Peacock loves this vintage inspired and hand forged, iron desk with a leather top. It would make a chic bar table, tucked in a corner of your living room. It can also be adapted with large filing drawers, if you choose to use it as a traditional desk. More information here.

8) This old school postal messenger bag is a little pricey, but it will last a lifetime. The patina of the leather will darken and get richer looking as time goes by. Buy one here.

9) Do you remember Big Chief Tablets or Pee Chee Folders? Sometimes eBay has some vintage school supplies, check here. Everyone loved Crayola Crayons as a kid. Mr. Peacock's favorite crayon color was silver. What was your favorite crayon color as a child?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thank you Harvey Milk…

You may remember Mr. Peacock’s thoughts on the Gus Van Sant film, Milk, from back in November, but if you missed it, you can read it here. The film has brought a piece of American history, not many people were aware of before, to the mainstream consciousness.

Thank you Sean Penn for giving a gracious and moving acceptance speech at the 81st Academy Awards after winning Best Actor for your portrayal of Harvey Milk.

Mr. Peacock would also like to thank the young screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, for having the tenacity to pursue and successfully accomplish his dream of bringing Harvey Milk’s legacy to the big screen.

Thank you to all of the people who worked on Milk, and to Harvey Milk himself, for believing in liberty and justice for all! Bravo!

Peter Sellers—Wacky and Debonair

As a small child, Mr. Peacock became immediately enchanted with the actor, Mr. Peter Sellers, after seeing him play Inspector Clouseau in the original Pink Panther movie. Okay, I admit it, I’ve always had a crush on Peter Sellers, or maybe just the wacky characters he portrayed. Mr. Peacock once arrived at a social event years ago, and overhead a despairing comment made towards myself, “Oh look, Peter Sellers just got here…” The playful diss wasn’t intended for me to hear, so I ignored it. I actually considered the comment as a compliment, because I thought Mr. Sellers was a peacock who always looked debonair and stylish, both in his professional and private life.

Above: Peters Sellers traveling with his third wife, Miranda Quarry, in the late 1960's.

The paparazzi often snapped photos of Mr. Sellers looking quite dapper, usually with some lovely lady on one arm, an amazing weekend bag on the other; jet setting off to some fabulous locale like Rome or Nice. He was a ladies man and had quite a few liaisons with different women, including Sophia Loren and Liza Minelli.

Above left to right: Peters Sellers and Britt Ekland, filming in Italy, circa 1965; Britt and Peter in 1964.

Those paparazzi images, and of course his wonderful films, is how I like to remember Peter Sellers, and salute him for his talent as an actor and entertainer. He died in 1980, at the age of 55, from a sudden heart attack.

Above left to right: Peters Sellers, looking sharp in a slim suit, shopping in Rome with his second wife, Britt Ekland, in 1965; Britt & Peter, casually chic in the mid 1960's.

Mr. Sellers had many professional accomplishments, but his private life was rife with emotional troubles. His birth name was Richard Henry Sellers, but his parents always called him Peter, the name of his older stillborn brother.

Above: Peter Sellers montage, beginning with appearance on The Muppet Show.

Peter Sellers was considered a difficult person, often clashing with friends, coworkers, and his four different wives. It is believed he had major anxieties about failing in his career and personal life. It didn’t help that he drank alcohol heavily, smoked cannabis, and allegedly abused other substances.

Above: Peter Sellers in his kilt, argyle socks and brogues—with his leg in a cast after breaking his ankle getting into a car in 1963.

He had a heart attack in 1964 that was rumored to be caused by his recreational use of poppers (amyl nitrates), which also contributed to his future heart problems. He deferred proper medical rehabilitation, instead relying on psychic healers. He also nixed professional counseling, instead opting for astrology consultations.

Above left to right: Peter Sellers letting loose in a top hat in the 1970's; he referred to himself as "auto-erotic" because of his obsession with cars; at a party in the 1970's.

Mr. Peacock has many favorite Peter Seller roles including: the bumbling Indian actor Hrundi Bakashi in The Party, the intense Clare Quilty in Lolita, and the quirky Chauncey Gardener, who wore all of his employer's hand-me-down custom suits and homburg hat in Being There.

The film Being There was based on the 1971 novel by Jerzy Kosiński, and directed by Hal Ashby. Mr. Seller’s was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his role as the child-like "Chance the Gardener," whose mistaken identity leads him to greatness. If you haven't seen this film, buy the recently released deluxe 30th anniversary edition DVD here, or Netflix it right now.

"If you ask me to play myself, I will not know what to do. I do not know who or what I am."
Peter Sellers

Mr. Peacock respects the personal challenges Peter Sellers faced during his lifetime, and salutes his stylish persona. Mr. Sellers life was dramatized in the 2004 HBo film, The Life & Death of Peter Sellers, starring Geoffrey Rush as Peter Sellers and Charlize Theron as Britt Ekland. I haven't seen the movie, have you? Mr. Sellers left us with an amazing legacy of films, see his complete filmography here. His character Chauncey Gardener said in Being There, “Ladies and gentlemen, life is a state mind.” Thank you Peter Sellers!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Old School Barbershop

Mr. Peacock has had a few hairdresser friends cut his hair over the years, but for the most part, he’s always gone to an old school neighborhood barbershop. There’s something about climbing into the old barber chair, with the sound of hair clippers humming, that is very comforting.

Many boys cry at their first visit to the barbershop, but not Mr. Peacock. I can still remember as a small boy loving the “shininess” of the barbershop—with the gleaming chrome barber chairs, shiny scissors and the wall of mirrors. I also liked the smells of the menthol shaving cream and old fashioned hair tonics wafting in the air.

My father had the same hairstyle (see photo below) his entire life—short and slicked back in waves. He always cut his hair himself; sitting on the edge of the bathroom sink, holding a hand mirror and little scissors—usually smoking a cigarette at the same time. My mom tried cutting my dad’s hair once with clippers and it was a huge disaster. Since college, Mr. Peacock has always had some model of Wahl Clippers in his possession, trimming his own hair and successfully cutting many friend’s hair too. I’ve begged my partner, Jason, numerous times to trim my hair, but he adamantly says no—fearing a hair catastrophe like my mother.

Above: Mr. Peacock as a child, with his barbershop haircut, and his father (I think he's licking his lips in this shot, but you can see his hairstyle) smoking a cigarette.

Like most of the boys at my junior high school, I had shoulder length “feathered” hair when I was about 12 years old. I can remember my younger sister and myself standing near my father at the club, where he was the golf pro, and a new member complimenting him on his lovely daughters, referring to my sister and myself. I was mortified and remember thinking—I do not look like a girl! My dad hit the roof, and had my mother take me to the barbershop the next day. I shed a few tears, not because I disliked the barbershop, but because I would be the lone geek with a super short buzz-cut at school.

When I lived at 72nd and Lexington in New York (near Paul Mole Barbershop), I would always get my hair cut at the York Barbershop by a very soft spoken old Greek gentleman. They had women barbers too, but somehow it wasn’t the same experience as getting your hair cut by an older man who has cut hair his entire life. While you waited your turn in the barber chair, you were always welcome to peruse dog-eared Playboy or Sports Illustrated magazines.

I still get my hair cut at an old neighborhood barbershop, but it has more of a woodsy 1970’s San Francisco vibe, than the shiny traditional barbershop vibe with the red, white and blue barber pole. At my San Francisco barber you’re offered a Bud Light and can peruse old Honcho or Men’s Journal magazines, instead of the old school Playboys. But, you still get an old fashioned barber hair cut for only $18 bucks.

Above: F.S.C. Barbershop in Manhattan, and Rudy's Barbershop at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles.

Mr. Peacock was worried that the old fashioned barber shops of America were going to disappear, but is pleased with the revival of old school style barber shops like Freemans’s Sporting Club in New York, and to a lesser extent, Rudy’s Barbershops on the West Coast. There’s something charming about the informal atmosphere and camaraderie of a barbershop that most salons don't have. Where do you get your hair cut—barbershop or salon?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tweed Run Kit—2010

The Tweed Run bicycle jaunts have come and gone in London and San Francisco, but don’t let the spirit of the ride end now. These peacock provisions are both functional and handsome, whether you’re cycling to the market or just taking a Sunday stroll. Plus, you’ll be prepared for next year’s Tweed Run!
(click image above to enlarge)

1) Sure, a pair of brogues would look fantastic, but these handsome leather and burnished suede boots would be more practical while your pedaling through the grime of the city. Order a pair here.

2) This tweedy plaid rose would look quite dapper pinned to your jacket as a boutonnière. More information here.

3) Driving gloves are essential for the gentleman bicyclist, and these perforated and strapped beauties from Dunhill would be quite chic while holding onto the handlebars of your bike...or even while carrying a bag of groceries. More information here.

4) Hark back to a time when dapper gentlemen (see photo at right) rode high wheel bicycles. Mr. Peacock loves the graphic simplicity and color of this old-time bicycle t-shirt! Buy one here.

5) This safari inspired herringbone tweed shooting jacket has all of the elements that Mr. Peacock likes for his expeditions including: epaulettes, leather buttons, plaid lining and roomy pockets for supplies (ie…your flask, see #9). Order one here.

6) This roll-up wool Pendleton blanket would come in handy at Dolores Park, sitting on the damp grass while you’re waiting for the San Francisco Tweed Ride to begin. You can either throw it over your shoulder with the straps or carry it by the leather handle. This reversible camp blanket would also come in handy when you go hiking or for a picnic. Get one here.

7) This Dutch bicycle is at the top Mr. Peacock’s wishlist, however, I would have some trepidation leaving this vintage inspired bike parked on city streets. More information here.

8) I don’t think there’s a Rod Keenan hat that isn’t on Mr. Peacock’s wishlist! This wooly Tyrolean inspired hat, with the feather detail on the side, would be the icing on the cake for your Tweed Run ensemble. More information here.

9) This whiskey flask could hold your distilled beverage, or I guess if you’re a teetotaller— some warm Cambric Tea would be nice. More information here.