Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gray = Timeless

We've always wanted a gray watch. We thought we were the only ones, until we saw this piece in Details magazine.

Now, these timepieces aren't cheap. The A. Lange & Sohne is a superb example of the watchmaking artistry. At $108,000, it should be.

The Piaget will set you back $18,300.

The least expensive, from the venerable American firm Hamilton, seems like a bargain at only $1,495. Sad to say, it's not as elegant as the others shown here.

We tried to find affordable gray watches. There just aren't many to be had.

One option: the Toy Watch Oversize Plasteramic at $225.

You might also like Movado's classic Museum Watch with gray face and dark gray sharkskin strap. It's $695 and available at amazon.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things Not Available in the U.S.: Muji Houses Are Elegant, Simple, Affordable

A few years back, Muji – the Japanese chain that offers cleanly designed, inexpensive fashions, furnishings and home wares – started producing pre-fab houses.

The homes embody the company's holistic philosophy: conservation of natural resources, low prices, simplicity, anonymity, and an orientation toward nature without placing disproportionate emphasis on any one attribute.

Designed by Japanese architects, the homes are minimalistic, almost zen-like in appearance. Accordingly, they cost only about $200,000.

Contrast this with the $2.8 - $4.8 million price of the Daniel Libeskind pre-fab home we wrote about last year, and you can see the value the Muji homes represent.

While the Libeskind promises to erect his home anywhere in the world, Muji sells its home kits just in Japan.

If you're not planning to relocate to the Far East, you can get a taste of Muji style by visiting one of Muji's new stores in New York or throughout Europe.

If you want to see one of the Muji houses in person, there's a full-sized installation in Muji's main store in Tokyo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One Historic Hollywood Restaurant Thrives. A New York Counterpart Quitely Fades Away

Los Angeles restaurants, even famous ones, come and go. The Brown Derby, Chasen’s, Mike Lyman’s, the Seven Seas, Fog Cutter, the Cock and Bull, Scandia, Nickodell’s, Perino's, Romanoff's – all were popular in their day and now are long gone.

We're still crazy about Musso & Frank after all these years
Not so for Musso & Frank Grill, a favored hangout for several generations of Hollywood power brokers and celebs. The fabled eatery, opened in 1919, is undergoing something of a regeneration, reports the Los Angeles Times.

While far short of a thorough overhaul, the changes include extended bar hours until 2:00AM on Friday and Saturday and an upgraded wine list.

In October, Jordan M. Jones, 29, a fourth-generation descendant of one of the early owners, assumed full control of the restaurant.

"All over nowadays you see new places trying to re-create history," Jones told the Times.

"They try to make them look old because that's something everybody appreciates and loves, even the younger generation. Vintage is cool. All these places are trying to re-create it, and we don't have to. We have it right here."

Charlie Chaplin, Rudolf Valentino, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald and countless others routinely dined at Musso's.

Indeed, today's regulars, who include Johnny Depp and Keith Richards, don't want to see too many improvements made.

The restaurant interior – dark wooden booths with red upholstery – has remained largely untouched for nine decades. So has the menu. Let's hope they never do away with the flannel cakes, chiffonade salad, or roast beef hash.

We expect Musso to thrive another 90 years.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for New York's romantic Cafe des Artistes, which closed without fanfare in August.

It was an elegant hideaway for generations of musicians, Broadway performers, cabaret artists, and socialites.

“If ever a restaurant had fine, aristocratic bone structure it is Café des Artistes,” William Grimes wrote in a review of the restaurant for The New York Times in 2003.

Cafe des Artistes
Gone after 92 years!
“Diners have only to take one step inside, and the tumultuous New York world outside disappears in a flash, replaced by lush floral displays, flattering lighting and Howard Chandler Christy’s pastel murals of naked beauties prancing through romantic landscapes.”

The restaurant opened in 1917. Christy, one of the artists who lived in the apartment building above, the Hotel des Artistes, began painting the murals in 1934.

George Lang took over the W. 67th St. establishment in 1975. Now 85, he quietly decided not to reopen after his summer vacation.

The fate of the historic premises and famed murals is unknown.

Cafe des Artistes' website is still online, offering menus, history and photos. Musso and Frank Grill's website also provides a history through the decades. Click here to read the full report on Musso and Frank Grill in the Los Angeles Times.