July 10, 2017


Just love FLOTUS rockin' the Red Cape!

The recent G-20 summit was nothing short of a triumph for The Den's new 'It Gal' Melania Trump.

We just love how Melania works colour!

My Estella and I have our daily phone chats that always include the latest fashion offerings featured on The Daily Mail which we both never miss.  Estella, after four decades of GSL tutelage, has developed a keen eye but always wants to hear the GSL verdict from on high.

FLOTUS isn't afraid to have a go at  unusual, interesting, but still perfect for occasion outfits. Estella thinks she's fab but thinks she'd be even more so with shorter. darker hair. GSL disagrees. Melania, keep doing what you do!

We both love Melania and to my best recollection she hasn't made a false fashion move since Inauguration Day.  She's gradually becoming more comfortable at podium and it must be quite nerve racking delivering a speech in the 4th or 5th language you learned while under intense scrutiny.

Everybody knows how The Den loves Winter White!

Love this!
Melania can work Summer White too as this was from last July's Republican convention.
Yes, she took heat as her speech writer had lifted some rather mundane passages from Michelle Obama's speechwriter.

...and this!
Mrs. Trump's LBD
Estella, those long locks can add dramatic updo volume!
Getting Shifty...

The Flapper-Fringe comeback is official.

...updoing by day
This young girl wanted a selfie with FLOTUS at a children's hospital.

....and more colour!!!

Looking smashing in emerald green when arriving in Poland,

At the G-20 summit there were lots of stylish First Ladies:
With Melania is France's First Lady Brigitte Macron a former school teacher who married a man several years her junior. I'm sure a RomCom is now being developed where a 41year old teacher and her 15 year old student meet cute.
She does have a nice set of gams but the dress is too short for a G-20 First Spouse event.

Hemline Issues...
Brigitte Macron with Argentina's Juliana Awada. I'm old enough to remember when it was considered bad form for forty-something school teachers to cavort with 15 year old boys and micro-minis on 64 year old women at Official State Functions was a no-no.

Moving on...

Melania with Argentina's First Lady Juliana Awada during a recent White House visit. GSL would love some Bilateral Negotiations with Ms Awada.

This is where it all started.
I was at the Inauguration back in January and this is one of the greatest outfits I've ever seen.

and then a backlash...
Many noted that Melania was 'channeling' Jackie.

The days following Inauguration had some Jackie fans viciously hating on our Melania and some members of the press have been conspicuously mean spirited to Melania, Ivanka, and several women associated with the Trump White House. GSL didn't like the Love Jackie-Hate Melania mud slinging that ensued as I don't think many of those hating on Melania have thought this through.  GSL is a Jackie fan but like most of us, she wasn't perfect and had some unflattering moments.

We wonder if those hating on Melania do so because she is the wife of a man they think won a rigged Presidential election or they think she's fair game for marrying a "vulgar billionaire".
The classy Aristotle Onassis used to boast to a former Senior Kennedy White House Advisor (I believe it was Ted Sorensen) in disgusting detail about bedroom activities he enjoyed with our former First Lady the previous evening. When Ari died, Jackie shook down his grieving daughter for $35million on the airport tarmac before the Greek Shipping Magnate's body was cold.

We do know Jackie Kennedy despised Martin Luther King, and used to publicly belittle teenage daughter Caroline when she ordered dessert and tell her she was getting fat and nobody would ever want to marry her.  Jackie told designer Oleg Cassini how she wanted to wear classy outfits that fat middle aged American women couldn't get.  From what I've read, Jackie was a world class Fat Shamer.  When Melania's husband mentions how a female employee "sure likes her candy" or returns fire on Rosie O'Donnell who had mocked his physical appearance, he's labeled a misogynist while Jackie remains beloved as a Style Icon to Instagram Feminists.  The classy Rosie O'Donnell speculated over twitter to 1.1 million followers whether Melania's 11 year old son was autistic.  GSL's first instinct is to be protective of devoted mothers of young children and doesn't like seeing them being attacked by those who keep two sets of books.

Jackie Kennedy was a fine First Lady and devoted mother with great style and grace and the same can be said about our current First Lady.

June 13, 2017

Four Sisters and a Mother

Two Sisters, Valencia  (1909) by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
Art Institute of Chicago

This past Sunday had a lot going on here in Chicago. The annual Old Town Art Fair has been held every June for 70 years but GSL has an Ex on the Planning Committee who has created a little Beer & Wine Garden Drama for about 10 of those 70 years.  GSL decided that a scorching hot and muggy 94 degrees wasn't likely to help her find 'deep in cups' closure. An indoor air-conditioned Drama-free venue seemed a far better option to whet one's aesthetic 'Whistle'.

GSL boarded the Brown Line 'L' Train bound for the Loop and our wonderful Art Institute. As we snaked thru Old Town, GSL knelt for cover under window view as we passed over the Beer/Wine Garden.

The Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue sits right in front of Grant Park.
I remembered that this was the very last day to see a work of iconic American art that hasn't been in Chicago since the Old Town Art Fair began.

Upon arrival, I realized that my membership card had recently expired and had it renewed within a few short minutes.
This floral arrangement is among the best I've ever seen.

In fact, within 75 feet of each other for the first time ever were three of the most famous works of American Art. I'll bet you could guess one quite easily and the other two would come to mind in a short while.

But first, I always pay my respects to The Den's Kindred Spirit.

Paris Street, Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

Then stop by to see the most beautiful painting in the collection.

Two Sisters on the Terrace by Renoir.

OK, ready for those three Icons of American Art?

American Gothic by Grant Wood.

This next one has inspired numerous imitations.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

This last one was here for only a short time as it's owned by the French State.

Whistler's Mother by James McNeill Whistler

I picked up a couple of books in the gift shop.
I had no idea Whistler's Mother was so well known internationally.  By coincidence, Den reader, Yvonne from Down Under, commented on a post I did on Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol mentioning how Whistler's Mother was then on tour in Melbourne and only a couple hours prior to her comment, I was reading a fabulous novel by Josephine Tey where a central character was said to resemble Whistler's Mother. I didn't know then that she'd soon make her way to Chicago.

The small and combative James Abbott McNeill Whistler had feuds with Oscar Wilde, who satirized him in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and John Ruskin. Whistler's guiding principle was "Art for Art's Sake" and he wasn't bashful about ruffling feathers and even wrote a book titled The Art of Making Enemies.

Portrait of Whistler by
 William Merritt Chase circa 1885 and resides in Boston's MFA.
Whistler and the entire Art World thought Chase lampooned Whistler's dandyish ways and preening self regard. Whistler and Chase remained 'frenemies' forever after.
GSL wonders how Whistler handled his Beer/Wine Garden Drama.

May 23, 2017

The Write Stuff and Dark Arts

Interesting article in the New York Times by movie director William Friedkin who was married to Jeanne Moreau when he first began retracing Proust's early steps. I intend on secluding myself for a couple months and reading all 7 installments of In Search of Lost Time. I've tried doing the audiobooks but it's far too subtle and complex to pull you in while driving.
*this pic was poached from Slim Paley who identifies the model (or is it designer?) as Karlie Kloss

Long absence so much to catch up on. First off a few books. John le Carre's wonderful memoir The Pigeon Tunnel is narrated (audiobook) by the master himself. Like P. G. Wodehouse and Patrick O'Brian, le Carre' has elevated his genre into the very highest rank of Literature.  I made the mistake of reading his magnum opus A Perfect Spy and beginning To Kill a Mockingbird the next day. Atticus Finch & Scout never had a chance so soon after inhabiting the fascinating interior life of Magnus Pym.

85 year old John le Carre' at his home in Penzance, Cornwall. GSL has been summoned to St. Ives, Cornwall this August (but might be delayed til next summer) so may have to arrange for a meet. He's still going strong and has a new novel out in September: A Legacy of Spies

Read Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing and came away slightly less impressed with Mailer although it was an interesting read. Mailer's magnum opus was Harlot's Ghost about the CIA that unfortunately didn't find the wide audience and critical acclaim it deserved.

Interesting to compare le Carre' and Mailer as both had massive international fame at an early age.  Mailer set out to become a prominent Public Intellectual while le Carre' kept a low profile and eschewed literary awards which Mailer craved.  It's become something of a joke that le Carre' freely acknowledges in the Introduction that he always resolutely proclaims, during an interview how he's a private man and this is the absolute last interview he'll ever do and blasts writers that always seek to dazzle while dining at High Table (was he thinking of Mailer?) when they should be secluded in their writing cabin.  A few of us noticed how le Carre' began these tantrums before doing about 5 extensive telly interviews, offering his biographer (the brilliant Adam Sisman) 40+ hours of recorded interviews, and then of course the memoir....and let's not forget that A Perfect Spy was hugely autobiographical. While hearing le Carre's reluctant admission, I couldn't help but think of a very talented writer I know who has shared more personal details than I know about my own mother or virtually anybody else while simultaneously proclaiming how private she is and then has reminded me how private she is...across 4 different social media platforms.  Like my talented friend, le Carre isn't really private but goes thru periods of craving solitude and has a few things he'd rather keep hidden or offer a more interesting account as biographer Sisman noted of a few Pigeon Tunnel anecdotes that had suddenly acquired a fresh polish....always a telltale sign of a first-rate creative mind.

Any thoughts on John le Carre', Norman Mailer, Proust, or any recent reads?