Friday, February 12, 2010

Homage to Cintra

Please excuse me, dear readers, for today’s truly random thoughts, having nothing to do with food or cooking, but my alternate passion, writing.

The best day of the week for me is Thursday, when the New York Times publishes its Home and Style sections. Ok, I like Wednesday, too, when the Dining section appears; but for the best wordsmithing, you shouldn't miss Cintra Wilson. Her column, “Critical Shopper,” which is in the Style section, overflows with sly humor and inspired metaphors, as well as a healthy taste of sarcasm. It’s just fun reading regardless of whether you have any interest in the store she’s reviewing. And while I’m pretty sure she and I don’t shop in the same stores – the irony of my hips being a major barrier to really hip clothing never escapes me – I would read her any day of the week.

One truly memorable column, from last May 7, reviews a meatpacking district boutique called Zadig & Voltaire, whose style she calls “Haute Liberal Arts Dormitory.” Here’s a sample clip: “The staff was blissfully relaxed, in a pleasant and civilized manner, and took no notice of my eccentricities as I stood around obsessively scrutinizing and jotting down notes on the highly specific, high-maintenance wash-instruction tags on their premangled jeans. These jeans had very fussy suggestions for upkeep and seemed to prefer that I never wash them again, lest I fade their artistically prefaded denim to a more amateurish color level.



‘Maybe you guys should wash these slightly less beforehand, so they can withstand use,’ I offered. To the staff’s great credit, they laughed.”

And here: “One $75 T-shirt bore the word ARTIST across the chest in a bold glitter font. Now, any artist I know who’s worth his salt would print the shirt himself if it cost more than $22 — and it would never say ARTIST. It might say JANITOR, or IDIOT, or possibly HOOKER.”

I think my wish as a writer would be to sit around inside her brain and see how these thoughts come together. Anyway, the point of this ramble is that today, I finally got around to yesterday’s paper, where Ms. Wilson reviewed a shoe store in TriBeCa called Edon Manor. While I won’t bore you with too much more, I did find the following really lovely thought in her closing paragraph about the experience of shopping there: “It is a benign and cheerful fantasy, and restorative, like the sight of the year’s first tulips growing next to a freeway on-ramp. It is truly nice to roam around inside the fragile sugar egg of someone else’s impossibly delicate, intimate dream — a reminder that levity is a state of mind that may be retained even when all else is liquidated.”

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