A few weeks ago I quit my day job and started running Left Field Cards, my baseball cards company, full time. Scary? Yes. Risky? Indeed. Exhilarating? Aye aye! I’m incredibly excited and incredibly busy, with several projects in the works, a new series of cards, Marvelous Moustaches, coming out May 3rd with a release party in NYC, the Renegade Fair at the end of June, a charity print for the National Brain Tumor Society, the album cover for The Baseball Project‘s new LP with songs about Harvey Haddix and Albert Pujols, and a spot at the National Stationary Show at the end of May.
So to make my life easier, I’ve decided to move this blog over to http://leftfieldcards.wordpress.com and write more about what I do every day in my studio: drawing, printing, painting, sewing, and the occasional cat picture. Hope you won’t mind the switch!
Bye bye, baleine noire.
I’m not a big fan of Instagram, but I really love this Polaroid app. It makes the colors pop and can pretty much turn any meh photo into a wow photo. I also love how the app mimics the polaroid coming out of the camera and how it even takes a few seconds to reveal your photo, and you can shake it too! Though just like with real Polaroids, it doesn’t actually help.
I used to take Polaroids all the time – when I lived in Paris I had an entire wall covered in them. (I just realized that that was almost ten years ago. Wow.) Anyway, I miss Polaroids. I guess I could probably get some films somewhere, I hear that even though Polaroid stopped making the films, another company took over? I should look into it, but in the meantime I’ve been using my iPhone as a (much cheaper and convenient) substitute.
Here’s a few snapshots of what caught my attention lately:
We live in a tiny studio and our bedroom doesn’t have windows – so it’s usually pretty dark in there, except in the middle of the day when the light coming in through the living-room windows shines all the way through the apartment and lands on my white bedspread. I love it.
Speaking of windows, my cat has been busy surveilling pigeons and buses lately, as well as the flow of people coming in and out of the bodegas across the street from us. Someone has to do it.
Apparently winter was canceled this year. Tulips a gogo! I got these from the corner store and repotted them as soon as I got home. Then the entire Internet told me I had basically just killed them by repotting them while still blooming. Internet, so far you are wrong. They’re fine. So far.
Took this photo on Leap Day and it made me smile, you know, because of 30 Rock.
Ariele pointed out this building to me the other day while we were driving around Brooklyn looking for dumpsters and old wood. It’s so beautiful. I hope it never gets torn down (it surely will). I wish the city would let us buy it for a dollar. Come on, Bloomberg! We totally deserve it.
The one thing about Brooklyn that gets me every time: the light. Especially at sunset. The city gets drenched in beautiful liquid golden light, with the huge blue sky as a backdrop. When it happens, I just have to stop, stare, smile. And take a picture.
Scored at The Thing today: The Art of Serving Food Attractively by Mary Albert Wenker (1951), Madame de by Louise de Vilmorin, The World’s 100 best short stories Volume Three MYSTERY (1927), and a ceramic cup with a lid so that if you’re a slow tea drinker (I am) your tea stays hot longer. Works with coffee too! Incredible, in addition to being adorable.
This is going to be a fun read. Who doesn’t enjoy a good mystery short story? Especially with a nice hot cup of tea.
I love Louise de Vilmorin. She has to be one of the most fascinating female writers to have roared through the first half of the 20th century. Born in 1902 in a French chateau, she was a wealthy heiress with a limp and a gift for writing refined but caustic novels about the aristocratic and artistic worlds she frequented. She was engaged to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, married American real estate heir Henry Leigh Hunt, gave him three daughters then divorced him and became the fifth wife of Count Paul Pálffy ab Erdöd, a much-married Austrian-born Hungarian playboy. That didn’t last long, not surprisingly perhaps. She never remarried but had several other famous and worldly lovers: another Hungarian count, a British ambassador and French Cultural Affairs Minister and author André Malraux. She was beautiful, smart, impertinent and full of life, and this of course transpired in her writing. I highly recommend Madame de, as well as Juliette. And I just love the illustrations in this English edition.
I love cookbooks from the 1950s. Somehow they really managed to make food look… fake. This is how they did it. It’s brilliant. I’ll share tips when I’m done reading it, but this cucumber basket might be a good start.
Unrelated absolutely, but have you guys heard First Aid Kit’s new album? It’s pretty much all I’ve been listening to this week.
I usually start my mornings with a quick review of the vegetal front: aloe veras, jade plants, cactuses, dragon tree, ornemental kale… I check their need for water, light, their growing of new sprouts, I rid them of dry leaves and I dust them up. I enjoy doing this. It gives me a sense of control and of time passing. I’ve only had a few deaths, of course always mysterious and disconcerting. Too much water? Too little? Who knows with plants. I take no credit with my success in keeping not only alive but actually thriving a jade tree for the past three years. I’ve even felt bold enough to repot it several times, prune it drastically last year, and eventually, feeling adventurous, splitting it into two trees. Still alive and well!
In addition to my plants, for the past week I’ve had some new guests: Valentine’s Day brought me some lovely flowers. I broke down the huge bouquet into several smaller ones and placed them all around the apartment. We live in a small studio, which isn’t great for impromptu dance parties, but is great for all-day floral staring contests.
It’s been a week but they’re holding up pretty well. A few roses closest to the radiator have dried up quicker than the rest but they still look and smell great. And they make me happy every time I look at them, which is, admittedly, way too often. I’ve got work to do! Damn flowers. (And yes, that is a giant Bruegel puzzle on our wall. Don’t ask.)
My sister and I said goodbye to 2011 with flowers and hello to 2012 with cheese. Lots of it. Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, aged, fresh, subtle, stinky. We spent the first few days of the new year holed up in her cosy chambre de bonne, watching Downton Abbey and venturing out in cases of extreme emergency only, namely to play peek a boo with a friend’s new baby and to get the best Chinese food ever from Les Pates Vivantes.
The last day came too soon, but it was time to get back to Brooklyn where lots of work, a wonderful boyfriend and beloved friends were waiting for me. It is a weird feeling to leave home to come back… home. But such is the life of the expatriate. Thank goodness for air travel.
There’s a junk store in Greenpoint called The Thing. When I say junk store, I mean exactly that. It is overflowing with junk. Not pretty junk, not pre-sorted junk, no, this is real junk. A few times a week a truck pulls up in front of The Thing and out come boxes and boxes of junk. Straight from auction houses, estate sales, unpaid storage units, hoarders’ basements and attics, random, filthy, dusty, smelly junk. My kind of junk.
The entire store is filled with random things: kitchen utensils, tools, Christmas ornaments, light bulbs, broken toys, record players, VCRs, baseball cards, bootleg African statues, sewing kits, porn tapes, musty clothes, hundreds of books, thousands of old photos, and millions of vinyls. I hear they have a basement filled with crates and crates of records that you’re welcome to dig through at your own risk. I often see people coming up from the basement wearing dust masks or bandanas around their face and looking not a little dazed. I have yet to go and see it for myself and I won’t lie: I don’t think I’m ready.
I love The Thing, obviously, because it’s cheap and gross and overwhelming. It requires a good hour of rummaging through mysterious boxes and bags like some sort of crazy hoarder with a very selective taste: it’s all about finding that one awesome thing that makes all the grime and dust disappear. On lucky days I’ll find ten amazing things that’ll cost me less than $20 to take home. On less lucky days I know I’ll find at least one precious thing. I’ve been going there for about two years now and only twice have I not found anything at all.
The other day was a not so lucky day. I only found one thing, but it is so special to me: I found a very old and worn postcard of the kind soldiers in World War One would send and receive from their families. This one has a map on it of the Front in Alsace-Lorraine. Small dots and x-es have been inked in fading blue to show where this soldat inconnu was stationed and, presumably, fought.
I have no idea how this card left Alsace in the mid-1910s and arrived at The Thing in Brooklyn a century later. Was it brought over by a soldier after the war? Was he French, American? Was it bought by a collector of historical documents, a History teacher, a World War One scholar? Was it inherited from a great-grandfather who fought in that terrible war? Was it sent to a wife, a mother, a sister? Was the husband, son, brother killed? Did he make it back home?
I found the card in a hat box filled with family photos, baby pictures from the 50s, formal wedding portraits from the 30s, vacation photos from the 70s: a very diverse mix of people, time periods and even social backgrounds, and clearly not from just one family. I looked for more clues but there was nothing. The little postcard was a complete orphan, like a strange piece from another puzzle that ended up in the wrong box. I brought it over to the register. “How much is this?” I asked, waving the card. The guy said: “How much do you want to pay for it?” I held up my other hand, clinging a single dollar bill. The guy nodded and took my money. I took the card home, my heart a little faster, my step a little slower.
I know, I know. I’ve been a terrible blogger. Haven’t written a post in weeks, and I still have photos from Paris to share, amongst other things. Terrible! But I have an excuse and I think it’s a pretty good one: I’ve been hard at work on the second series of my letterpress baseball cards. Weeks of drawing, carving linoleum blocks, proofing, getting photopolymer plates done, mixing inks, printing non-stop for three days (god my shoulder hurts), cutting paper, printing wrappers, packing, sewing and doing PR work. Yes, all this on top of having a regular full time job. Yes, I’m not quite right in the head. But anyway, that’s done, everything went relatively well if not always as planned, and in spite of a couple mishaps, an unfortunate bad cold that hit me right before printing and that goddamn element of surprise (huh, the ink doesn’t dry as quickly on the new paper. Fancy that!), well I didn’t cry once. Around here this is considered this an accomplishment of the highest level.
Voila, ladies and gentlemen, amateurs of baseball and letterpress alike, the newest series of Left Field Cards:
You can pick them up here: www.leftfieldcards.com
And now back to regular posting! Posts about Paris and other things to follow. Soon. Promise.