If I haven’t fled the computer and apartment and town every three or four months, I get restless!
So a quick and easy choice was the 3-4 hour drive northeast to Newport, RI, a town I hadn’t been to in decades, since a friend in a town near it loaned us her house while she was away for a week. She has long since moved away, but at a writing conference last year I met a fun young woman, a fellow writer, who spoke on a panel and with whom I later had coffee when she came to NY from Newport.
I found a very cheap and funky B and B right in town, and she and I hung out. Perfect weekend!
I was also very lucky to be there in the off season so I was able to park my car for three full days, at no cost, a block away on the street and enjoyed uncrowded tourism as the place is truly mobbed in the summer, especially with the jazz festival and folk festival.
Friday night we splurged on dinner at The White Horse, the oldest restaurant (1673) continuously operating in the U.S., and a building of tremendous history. The meal was great and the surroundings lovely.
This interactive game was amazing! It even uses a real wooden tiller to “steer.”
It can happen!
Saturday I went to the new sailing museum, which — as a sailor from childhood — I loved! It has fantastic interactive exhibits I completely enjoyed, a cut-open J24, a classic boat, examples of sail materials, great action videos, trophies, fab photos. I had a great pizza across the street and wandered Thames Street, (there pronounced to rhyme with James), lined with all sorts of shops. I bought two small lovely vases by a local potter and that evening sat at the bar at the Red Parrot, watching the busiest bartender ever manage his job with grace and calm.
Newport, as some of you know, has some extraordinary mansions — known as “cottages”, built by the country’s wealthiest. People love to tour them, but I was more intrigued, literally walking around the block from my lodgings, by row after row of elegant 18th c houses. I love history and architecture and the late 1700s is one of my favorite periods of design, so this was heaven!
I’m usually not easily moved emotionally by many official sights and monuments, but I was so struck by the humanity and intimacy of seeing the church where her new life began — and gave her barely a decade of joy and marriage and young children before being brutally widowed in 1963. Like everyone who has married in a church (as I have twice), there’s such a moment of excitement and nerves and anticipation as you stand at that front door and walk down the aisle to take your vows and begin a wholly new life. I could really feel it there.
That’s the spire of St. Mary’s in the background
Sunday morning I loved breakfast, again, around the corner, at Franklin Spa — opening hours 6 am to 1pm — and watched it filling up with locals and regulars. My friend picked me up and we drove to Tiverton Four Corners, to see a glamorous new cafe and two adjacent shops, Groundswell. So fun! On offer were glorious teas from French maker Mariage Freres and some of the yummiest pastries ever — including this astounding thing we had never seen before and LOVED. Basically a brioche full of whipped cream, called a maritozzi.
The spring sun was warm but the wind bitter; my friend very thoughtfully brought two thick blankets which we wrapped around our legs as we sat in Adirondack chairs around a propane firepit.
We looked at the gorgeous tableware and aprons and condiments for sale but I only bought some tea and a jar of ginger and jam.
We dined at The Clark Cooke House, which was wonderful — more oysters! My friends were very generous and used a gift certificate so it was free. I was so grateful to be so welcomed and hosted and shown around.
Monday morning was a visit to a place I’ve been buying from for many years, Fabric Connection, mostly to say hello to the staff. They have an amazing array of gorgeous fabrics and pillows.
I made a final quick stop at the beach — to sniff the ocean and grab a shell! — but the wind was sooooo bitterly cold.
Some of you have had cancer. Some of you have lost loved ones to the disease.
I got my breast cancer diagnosis of DCIS, stage zero (thank God) in June 2018, right around my birthday. I needed lumpectomy and radiation and five years of Tamoxifen, a pill that suppresses estrogen.
It was not unexpected as my mother had a mastectomy in the 90s…but lived for many decades afterward.
The disease has hit our family hard this year.
Last Saturday at 6:30 we lost a 45 year-old niece of Jose’s, my husband, after many years fighting cancer. She leaves behind a widow — whose birthday was the next day — and their teenage son.
Jess was a force of nature and deeply loved by a large community. Like all the Lopezes, she was very loving person and her joy in life, even through years of surgery and treatment, was obvious to all.
Ironically, though, cancer has also, unexpectedly, finally given me a relationship I had wanted for decades, with one of my three half-siblings. He and I never grew up together and he’s 10 years younger, and has had an amazing life, enjoying both personal and professional success. He still lives in Toronto, where we both, separately, grew up. I met him when I was 15 and he was five. We had a few awkward Christmases together but every attempt I made to get to know him better really went nowhere.
Until this year, when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
I started texting and emailing him regularly, sometimes to offer comfort and support, sometimes to warn him of the emotional fallout of this disease, often much overlooked by healthcare workers focused on the physical and friends too damn scared or ignorant to keep showing up.
I dropped a former friend who said something cruel and stupid. I was truly shocked by some of the careless things people said to me. You quickly learn to tighten your circle of intimates!
The day you end radiation, in some hospitals, you ring a bell or a gong. It’s a powerful moment. You’re done! The whole staff comes around to celebrate it with you.
I also texted him the Monday after radiation ended —- and warned him it would be totally normal to feel scared and shaky and alone after so many months of hands-on care and multiple medical relationships. some of which do continue. He appreciated it immensely.
Anyone who has had the disease knows it pushes us very quickly into another world of unfamiliar language and procedures, daily anxiety (and sometimes terrible side effects and pain) while undergoing treatment and daily anxiety after remission for fear of recurrence. It’s a weird disease because so many people get variations of it, yet it’s also often deeply isolating because those who remain unscathed really have no idea what we go through. People make assumptions about our prognosis, either blithe or dire, often both inaccurate and hurtful.
Our bodies and souls are left forever altered; I still sometimes catch a glimpse of a small black dot on my upper torso — the tattoo inked on my skin so they could aim the radiation machine accurately — an attribute I also now share with my brother, for his only tattoo is a radiation landmark dot as well.
Luckily, after surgery and brutal amounts of chemo and radiation — my brother is (!) back to playing hockey, his great love.
We now speak, email and/or text quite often and we’re finally getting to know more about one another and our challenging relationship to our father, which bonds us further.
It really helps to know someone else who really knows our father and what life has been like as one of his four children, two of whom I have no relationship with at all.
I haven’t yet printed or framed this image, taken at a friend’s Ontario cottage. But I could!
By Caitlin Kelly
I’m not someone with a lot of disposable income to spend. I’ve worked most of my career in journalism, which I’ve enjoyed, but isn’t high paying or secure — no pensions for me! I’ve also lived in Toronto and suburban New York for most of that — two areas that are costly for rent/housing. In the U.S., if you work freelance, you’re also stuck between medical bankruptcy or paying a fortune for health insurance — like $20,000 a year, which was normal for us for years.
So I’ve always been pretty good at squeezing my money hard for full value and enjoyment.
As readers here know, my two biggest splurges are travel and our apartment; it’s only a one bedroom, so there’s no fear of a costly boiler/roof/plumbing drama or having a tree split our house in two during a hurricane or tornado.
I grew up a family that came from serious money, so we’ve had the combined blessing and curse — as we didn’t have nearly as much of it as our ancestors! — of creating a stylish and elegant home and wardrobe without lots of cash. My maternal grandmother was very wealthy and hired Toronto’s top interior decorator to do her homes, so I grew up around lovely art and furniture and wallpapers.
Here are some of the ways I enjoy stylish life without a ton of money:
My $3 18th c teapot
Flea markets and antique stores
A goldmine, potentially. I’ve seriously studied antiques so when I spot an underpriced bargain, I pounce. I’ve got an enormous 19th c paisley wool shawl (that covers Jose’s desk) for $150, an 18th c teapot (missing its lid) for $3, a massive wicker suitcase at a show in Toronto that Air Canada let me stash in the airplane overhead compartment. I recently revisited one of my favorite spots, an enormous, sprawling antiques mall in Stamford, CT that’s a favorite of NYC designers, Most items are $1,000 or more, so it’s not a hotbed of bargains, but the quality is fantastic and it’s inspiring; I did get a lovely frame for $56 and an olive green small glass vase for the same price. If you never look at high(er) quality material — or sink happily into down cushions — it’s hard to recognize and appreciate it. Half of the battle is a little education. I got a stunning handmade blue and white wool coverlet in Maryland for $100 — worth three to four times that much (you can easily Google it when in-store.)
The shadow of a black wooden painted folk art horse, found in an antiques shop in Port Hope, Ont.
Consignment, thrift and vintage shops
Such treasures! I scored four stunning ruby red wineglasses at our local thrift shop for $10 and have spotted some very good early pieces there. Since most people don’t know the real from the fake, it pays to learn a bit. Carrying a tape measure and small magnifying glass are useful to know if something will fit your space and be able to read tiny marks denoting silver plated cutlery (EPNS) or the hallmarks of sterling silver. I’ve found lovely linens in all of these — tablecloths, damask napkins, pillowcases. Most are pristine but can easily be bleached.
I’ve also found great things in Greenwich, CT at a clothing consignment shop — many larger cities have one, and if your area has a wealthy neighborhood, go! I’m not one for designer names, but got a pair of brown suede Ferragamo loafers for $100 I wore for maybe a decade. I’m still using a super-thick cashmere cardigan I got there for $100, also many years ago. No one knows it’s vintage or pre-owned!
My favorite NYC vintage shop is on Rivington Street, Edith Machinist. Her prices are very fair and the selection carefully edited. Edith is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met!
These simple metal lanterns were super cheap, found in a Minneapolis cafe
The very word tends to intimidate — since the only auctions we generally see in mainstream media are people bidding millions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Yet there are many local and regional auction houses selling all sorts of lovely things at a wide range of prices, and they’re well worth a look — in NYC, Doyle and Swann Galleries have given me some good stuff (and I’ve sold at Swann); in NH. where I lived for 18 months, William Smith. Skinner in Boston, Leslie Hindman in Chicago. Our tribal wool living room rug came from a Doyle auction — $800 including tax and a buyer’s premium. I bought a print by Raoul Dufy and a gorgeous huge lithograph by Vlaminck at the same Swann auction and love seeing them every day on our bedroom wall.
There is always a buyer’s premium! So be sure to check as it can add 25% to your bid.
Things we use every day can be a joy or an annoying mess. Invest a bit extra for a supply of fresh quality pillowcases and towels; nice soaps; candles and votives, some plants. None are prohibitively expensive. Even a very good screwdriver and basic toolbox will make life easier. Pretty lampshades, (they come in every color and style, from pleated fabric to marbled paper) are an easy upgrade; Ballard Designs is a good place as is the website OKA.
I love reading design magazines and own many many reference books on every aspect of design. I love to sit back and leaf through them, always happy to see new colors or fabrics or combinations of things I wouldn’t have thought of. I won’t ever own a Tudor cottage or LA mansion, but I can enjoy looking at them and gathering style tips. Your local library will have lots of options — as do websites like Apartment Therapy, Frederic magazine, House and Home magazine’s videos.
If you find a great — anything! — buy multiples of it: linen napkins. great loafers on sale, a lovely sweater. Saves time and energy searching. Also, when items are in pairs (like two matching side table lamps or two bedside tables) they gain more visual impact.
I’ve been collecting transferware china and silver lusterware for years, usually very cheaply, so I can set a pretty table with enough items. Choose something you love and start a collection.
Mix old and new
Whether your home or wardrobe, combining new/fresh and vintage/antique makes for the most stylish mix. I have a gorgeous Donna Karan embroidered sweater I splurged on maybe 25 years ago. It actually looks vintage and now it sort of is! I usually add a vintage accessory (shoes, earrings, bag, scarf) to a contemporary piece. And when it comes to furniture, very few items made cheaply in China offer the character, design, material quality and longevity of a decent antique, even a reproduction piece.
Keep it simple –mostly
A stylish home, and wardrobe, work best if you stick to a few key colors and styles. I wear a lot of black, gray, navy blue and almost never frills, flounces or prints. A color that repeats in our bedroom (headboard and blind fabrics) and living room (an antique painted armoire, rug, two throw pillows) is teal. The current design trend to make everything gray (!??) is so sad and tedious — add some pops of color, print and texture (velvet, silk, linen) to keep your home from looking like an insurance office from the 80s.
Few things will make your home drearier than overly bright lighting, especially from overhead fixtures. It’s inefficient, unflattering. Get a dimmer! The world is full of really attractive lighting now, even from places like Home Depot, and a few handsome lamps can quickly change the look of a room.
Take very good care!
I am not a fan of fast fashion, at all. I don’t buy it, hate its environmental costs and dislike how it promotes mindless, endless consumption. So I tend to buy quality and hang on to it! If you invest in quality clothing and footwear, take good care of it. Visit the cobbler. Get to know your local tailor if something needs altering. Most of my beloved/ancient cashmeres all have tiny holes I just stitch up — and make sure to add cedar blocks when I store them. All our silver is antique silver-plate and I put the Downton Abbey staff to shame with my polishing!
The world is full of amazing posters! From movie classics to early illustrations and paintings. Browse pretty much any museum site and you’ll find a fantastic selection very affordably. We have three on our living room walls — one, a huge black and white drawing I bought in France by legendary artist Sempe, another from the Carnavalet Museum in Paris and one, a Hiroshige print; we framed the latter two in gorgeous red frames.
Shot at a Toronto flea market. I think this would make a great black and white print.
I know this is counter-intuitive, since you’re commissioning someone’s skill and labor to help you, whether getting a vintage suit tailored to fit or a custom-made pillow cover, curtain or framing a piece of art. But every penny we’ve spent for this has handsomely repaid us in daily pleasure. As I’ve mentioned before, online shops like The Cloth Shop in London have some excellent fabrics at very fair prices in colors and textures I rarely find on North American sites.
Shop your phone!
If you own a cellphone with a decent camera, as many of us now do, you’ve got tremendous options for creating a gorgeous gallery wall for yourself! The world is full of beauty just there for the noticing — whether a nature image, your pet in repose, a beloved relative, an architectural detail. I take photos almost every day.
Here are a few, all taken in June 2022 on my solo California road trip, I’d consider worth framing:
Play with filters — often an image in sepia or black and white is more striking and beautiful than in color. Sites like Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, among others, offer a wide selection of simple and affordable frames.
Also, crop as needed! If I printed that sunset (taken in Morro Bay, CA) I would crop out the boat on the left hand side.
Obviously, the world is full of retailers and almost all of them have sales. I’m not a coupon person but there are money-saving apps that help you find the best price on specific goods.
One of my favorite books, on how to be a productive creative person
By Caitlin Kelly
It’s an odd thing to ask of fellow adults, perhaps — more common for young kids and teens to have someone older to look up to and possibly emulate.
I don’t have kids and fear the adulation so many youngsters now offer to celebrities, influencers and millionaires. The best people aren’t necessarily those with the fattest bank accounts. Fame and fortune are just easy, visible metrics.
I take a spin class at our local JCC with a teacher I knew was clearly in his late 70s. He’s whippet-thin, with nary an ounce of body fat. He also teaches fitness classes. I recently discovered he’s in his 80s. Amazing!
He’s also low-key, modest and very encouraging, all super admirable qualities in my book.
As I head into a quieter period of my life with less focus — finally! — on hustling for work, I relish finding older people whose lives and values I admire.
People with physical and intellectual energy, curiosity and liveliness, people still engaged in community, or community building. Where we live, (a place I enjoy), is also an expensive and competitive part of the U.S., which means most people are focused totally on getting and sustaining high incomes, raising their children to do the same.
Those priorities leave little time, room and interest in friendship, without which we can’t really see who someone is beyond the surface,
As former President Jimmy Carter enters hospice care at home, I know millions of us have long admired a man who spent decades helping others, often through Habitat for Humanity, a program that helps build housing for those in need. I wish we had more role models like him!
People like Paul Farmer, who spent years working as an MD in Haiti, or Peter Reed, a former medic recently killed at 33 by a missile — while volunteering in Ukraine.
People who choose to put themselves in harm’s way to help others are also extraordinary to me. I admit, I have tremendous admiration for the career journalists, like fellow Canadian Lyse Doucet of the BBC, who spend their lives bearing witness in some terrifying times and places.
Brave young women activists like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.
I was also fortunate at 25 to meet a man I dedicated my first book to, Philippe Viannay, who died in the mid 80s, a few years after I won the fellowship in Paris he created for journalists from around the world to learn about Europe by reporting on it through four solo trips. He was a Resistance hero, helped found a major newspaper and sailing school and home for troubled boys. He was also a lot of fun! It was the greatest honor to know him and be liked by him. He came into my life when I was 25 and my own father, never an easy man, was often distant, emotionally and physically. It was deeply encouraging to meet and know someone so incredibly accomplished who — liked me! So I wasn’t simply admiring someone from a distance, but seeing up close how he comported himself in later life.
Social media can also create monstrous “role models” — like the wealthy Tate brothers, whose toxic influence on gullible teen British boys is so widespread that teachers are now addressing it.
In recent months, Ms. Stanton said, students have started bringing up Mr. Tate in class. They extol his wealth and fast cars. And for the first time in her 20 years of teaching, her 11- to 16-year-old students have challenged her for working and asked if she had her husband’s permission.
She has heard students talk casually about rape. “As the only woman in the room, I felt uncomfortable,” she said. Once, a student asked her if she was going to cry. At home, even her own three sons seemed to defend Mr. Tate.
“He is brainwashing a generation of boys, and it’s very frightening,” she said. “They seem to think he is right. He’s right because he’s rich.”
In the Midlands, Nathan Robertson, a specialist who works with students who need additional support, said that in the past year, he had regularly heard Mr. Tate broadcasting from students’ smartphones. Many in a class of 14- and 15-year-olds he worked with cited Mr. Tate as a role model. When the topic of abortion came up in class, boys began laughing, he said, and called feminism poisonous. Some said that women did not have any rights and that men should make decisions for them.
Many people see someone in their own family as a role model.
I have mixed feelings about my own parents…both born wealthy to difficult parents of their own. My mother’s mother married six (!) times, twice to the same man (my grandfather, who I never met) and my mother, desperate to flee, married at 17, never attending university, then or later.
So I did admire my mother’s spirit of adventure — she later traveled the world alone for years, living for a while alone in New Mexico, Bath and Lima, Peru. She was self-taught and read widely and deeply. She could be a lot of fun. In our good years, we laughed a lot. She offered her time as a volunteer to hospice patients in the hospital.
My father, an award-winning film-maker, is similar — their marriage lasted 13 years before divorce. He, too, loves to travel, is artistically talented as well, and was often gone for weeks working — in Ireland or the Arctic or Mideast. He is perpetually curious and has a wide range of interests, even at 93.
So in some senses, they are role models for me.
The qualities I most admire, in anyone:
A ferocious work ethic
I admit, I most often look to people who are fairly talented and highly accomplished at their work or in using their talents. But it’s not about their wealth or fame or public adulation. Too often, people who’ve hit the heights are quite happy to leave needy others behind.
We all need people to look up to, people whose behavior and demeanor set a high bar we can aspire to.
It’s an amazing story — and now a new book that took 14 years to produce: The Angel Makers tells the incredible and unlikely story of a tiny, remote Hungarian village where, in the early 1920s, a lot of men (and some babies) kept dying, even if previously young and healthy.
It was the work of Aunt Suzy, the village midwife, and her potion — arsenic derived from soaking flypaper — delivered to local women who wanted freedom from their drunk, abusive, unfaithful husbands or from trying to sustain an infant with no money to do so.
Patti, a much admired and highly adventurous friend of many years, and a career journalist, re-discovered the story and has written a terrific book.
“From seed to fruit, this book took 14 years,” she told me. “Eight of those years were full-on research and writing. It was just me and the story—just the two of us —and that was a somewhat lonely relationship. To finally have it completed and have others be able to read it is a thrill beyond measure.”
Tell us a bit about you and why/where/how you first became a journalist? What about it appealed to you?
I started at 19 as an obit writer at the St Pete Times (now Tampa Bay Times).
I got the bug much earlier than that, though. My older brother was an illustrator at the Virginian Pilot, and for my 13th birthday he gave me a tour of the paper— the newsroom, the pressroom—we went all over that building and I was enthralled with every square inch of it. I can still hear the teletype, the typewriters, the ringing telephones. I can still see the enormous vats of ink. From then on, I was hooked. When I think back, it really was life changing, even at such a young age. It had a profound effect on me. Thanks, Steve!
After working in the States, how and why did you end up living in an Austrian village?
A few years before I moved to Europe, I had gotten a Knight International Press Fellowship, which sends reporters to struggling or so-called emerging democracies to help fellow reporters improve their skills, working conditions, etc. It was like a journalism Peace Corps. My assignment was for Central and Eastern Europe. I loved the work and ended up moving abroad to do it full time in January 2000. I first lived in Bratislava, Slovakia, then moved across the border into Austria.
For how long?
I came back to the USA in 2016.
What sort of work were you doing then?
It was a range of duties, and after the Fellowship it was mostly contracted assignments with non-profits. I worked inside newsrooms with journalists, I taught university courses, I lead workshops. I did a lot of visual journalism, which included a lot of newspaper and magazine redesigns. I worked on free press issues in places like Ukraine and Moldova, and on occasion, worked with ambassadors, as well (one such meeting was with the ambassador to Macedonia: “Let’s put our heads together and figure out how to repair the tv tower that has been shot out by Albanian rebels”).
When I wasn’t doing such media training work, I was freelancing.
Tell us how you stumbled across this amazing story in the first place.
I was bumbling down the backroads of the Internet one afternoon and bumped into a short piece about this strange village in Hungary…
Did you know right away this was a good book topic? Why? How?
I had no intention of writing a book about it. I thought it would just be an article and I’d move on to the next article. But something stayed with me. I kept bringing it up to friends, and in my spare time rooting around for ever more info. After a few years, I thought, hmmm, maybe there is a book here…
Tell us about finding your agent/selling the book
In my case, it all came down to kismet.
Out of the blue, I got an email from an old colleague from my Washingon, DC days. We hadn’t been in contact in at least a dozen years. I was delighted to hear from him. We chatted back and forth (email), catching up, and I told him about the book idea—at that point I was putting finishing touches on the proposal. He took a look at my website and came back to me to ask why, in God’s name, had I not included any info about the book! Seemed like a no brainer to him, and of course he was right. I went straight to the site and added it. Not four hours later, what popped into my Inbox? An email from an agent. It turns out, he had just read a piece I had written for the Smithsonian—my first for them—which had come out the day before. He had gone to my website to find out more about me and saw the info about the book. “I’d love to take a look at your proposal.”
He turned out to be absolutely the right agent for me.
That 24 hours—It was an inexplicable alignment of stars.
What was the first step in getting started on it?
There were many steps being taken at the same time, but the most critical was to find an assistant. I found a fantastic man—a historian specializing in the region who was fluent in English. There were a few fails before I found him.
What were the most difficult/challenging things about researching it?
This wasn’t challenging, per se, but it took some time and work to understand Hungary. To fully learn, for example, about Hungary’s part in WWI and the disastrous aftermath—the Communist takeover and the Romanian war. That’s not something that can be skimmed over. You have to dig deep. In the book, the war, et. al., are just a backdrop, but that doesn’t mean you can cheat and get by with the minimum. The story will suffer.
It also took time, and patience, and study, and feet on Magyar ground to really understand—as best I could—and appreciate—as best I could—the soul of the Hungarian people. At least to the extent that I could as a non-Hungarian, and as someone who does not speak the language. My historian assistant helped me tremendously. And I also moved to Szolnok, the town where the trials took place, for several months. Having lived for so long in a small Austrian village (not far from the Hungarian border), and having spent so much time in other East European villages, also helped, I think.
About writing it?
Independent journalists —particularly those who report from abroad–are paid very poorly, and we get a lot of deadbeat clients who try not to pay at all. That’s hard on a person. I’m single. There is no secondary income to rely on. So I’d say the hardest thing about writing it was to always be scrambling. Always counting pennies. It’s difficult to work under those conditions. And hard on your health.
That final Canadian angle is a hoot! How did you find it?
After the original article came out, the victim contacted me!
Was there any resistance among Hungarians or locals to your dredging up a story that is pretty horrific?
There was, understandably, some resistance. Many are descended from either a victim or a perpetrator—in many cases both—and they would prefer to leave the past in the past, as you might imagine. They are also very protective of the women, compassionate about the circumstances that drove them to do what they did.
How were you able to recreate such specific details — Aunt Suzy’s love of brandy or her pipe or hobnail boots?
The archive was a trove of information. And the events were widely covered, not just by the press at the time, but also by well-known Hungarian writers, who went into more detail than the average reporter. There were sociologists who had gone before me, village monographs, village elders. And of course my historian assistant was amazing.
What is Szolnok like these days? Is there anything anywhere that’s still reminiscent of the period you wrote about? Or the town where it happened?
Szolnok is a bustling town, and still quite pretty. Sadly, the Communists destroyed a lot of the fabulous architecture, but much still remains. The artist colony is still there, and there are a lot of delightful cafes and eateries. It has a nice vibe.
Nagyrev did pretty well under Communism, and has struggled ever since its collapse. It is a tight-knit community. They host things like yoga classes, and the like. In a certain sense, it is not unlike other villages in that region of the country–or even hamlets in neighboring countries–in that there is not a lot of opportunity for folks. The difference is its utter remoteness. It still takes nearly as long to get there from Szolnok—a distance of 25 miles—as it did a hundred years ago.
Are there any local memorials, plaques, public formal recognition of this event?
A couple of years ago, the Szolnok newspaper ran a feature/commemoration of Kronberg on the 90th anniversary of “The Arsenic Trials.” But to my knowledge, there is no formal recognition.
Tell us/me anything you want to….
Finally, I’ll add that although this is a true crime story, there’s much more to it than that. That the Angel Makers happened at all has everything to do with women’s place in society. These were not deranged, bloodthirsty women out for the kill. In most cases, they were desperate to escape tortorous situations. They did what they had to do, not what they wanted to do.
In the hundred years since these crimes occurred, not a lot has changed for women. Sorry to say, but it’s true.
I think the popular notion of “living with art” means being a bazillionaire in a mansion, the person bidding millions at auctions for Monet and Picasso paintings.
So not true!
But it may be an acquired taste if you didn’t grow up around art, which I did, and it has profoundly shaped my eye, my life, my homes and how I see things.
My father was a renowned maker/director of documentaries and television shows, so we had enough disposable income for him to buy art. His eye and taste — like mine and my mother — is eclectic, so this included Inuit prints and soapstone sculptures, a wooden antique Japanese mask, a Chinese scroll, 19th century Japanese prints, a Picasso lithograph. He is a skilled artist in his own right, so he made etchings, engravings, lithographs and oils. He even worked in silver.
I love Japanese prints, so this is an area I know something about; I saw an amazing show of Hokusai, whose Great Wave, is very familiar, at the British Museum in London in July 2017, and learned that he — like so many famous and legendary artists over the millennia — suffered some very lean years, and was much helped by his daughter, a fellow artist.
I was lucky to inherit some family money, even in my 20s, so I spent time in art galleries and acquired a few photos and prints, some of which I still own and enjoy. Photography is very much an art form and there are so many extraordinary images out there. I treasure this image, which hangs beside our bed, by Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti.
His photos, bought from the gallery I bought from, are $1600. Not cheap! But not hopelessly out of reach if this is a priority and you have the means…Here are more of his. I want at least 3 more!
What hangs on our walls is a wide array — photos by legends like Steichen and Lartigue, 16th century tapestry fragments left to me by my mother, a huge Inuit print of a polar bear (over our bed), a Vlaminck litho I bought at auction for $600, which seemed like a hell of a bargain.
The Vlaminck litho, 1929
Unlike wealthy folk, I don’t buy art for investment, although we have sold a few photos at auction when we just needed cash.
We also have three framed posters — one of a Japanese artist and two of Paris. Art doesn’t have to be expensive. You just have to love it and enjoy looking at it.
I feel really lucky to wake up to beauty every morning on our walls. We live in a basic red brick 1960s apartment building with no inherent charm and in a one bedroom, which severely curtails how much wall space we even have!
I think our favorite image (it hangs over Jose’s desk), is an original, signed by the photographer who Jose worked with at The New York Tines, and is an image many Americans know — of John F. Kennedy standing at the window of the Oval Office — by the late George Thames. You can buy a copy of it from the Times for $50 and up.
As I’ve admitted here, I spend a fair bit of my time on Twitter.
I’ve made some good friends, found a few excellent work opportunities and enjoy exploring a wide range of accounts, from a woman in Scotland who makes dyes from plants to a photographer currently in Antarctica.
Sometimes the algorithm takes you down a rabbit hole of the same sort of tweets, so a while ago I ended up seeing a lot of knitting, knitters and their many gorgeous creations.
Where I found a photo of an amazing hat with a map of the world, made by a Dutch women for her own pleasure. Not for sale.
MUST have it!
As someone who’s lived in five countries and been, so far, to 41, this was so me.
I dared to ask her if she would make one for me. She said yes!
We agreed the cost could never match the hours it would take and she graciously said she didn’t need the income.
Oh well, I thought, it’s the Internet. You never know, and it was a huge favor for a distant stranger.
But then, a few weeks ago, there she was again, and ready to mail it!
I asked if she might like one of my photos in exchange, and we emailed a selection of eight, offering it in color or black and white, at whatever size she preferred.
Unlikely but true — our neighbor across the hall now lives in Holland, was back recently, and will mail it there.
The hat is so perfect — part wool, part alpaca — so it’s very soft and very warm. It has every continent, each quite recognizable.
This kindness from a former stranger — now a distant friend — was such a lovely start to 2023.
Re-watching comfort films and TV shows for the umpteenth time. Of course, we know the dialogue by heart — half the fun! Life is so chaotic and unpredictable, knowing for sure what will happen next is a lovely thing. Mine include The Devil Wears Prada, All The President’s Men, Spotlight, Dr. Zhivago, Billy Elliott, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, Casablanca, The English Patient and Good Will Hunting.
A pot of tea and maybe a little something sweet to go with it. I recently made this date/nut bread and it’s soooo good! I skipped the icing.
An afternoon spent in the company of a dear friend.
Looking at art.
Savoring a great novel.
Snoozing under a blanket on a cold, gray afternoon.
A kiss from your dog.
A kiss from your sweetie!
A late afternoon game of gin rummy, possibly with a nip of single malt.
Fresh flowers in every room.
A scented candle by the bed.
The eternally glorious music of Bach, Handel, Erik Satie.
Trying a terrific new restaurant.
A long lunch with old friends visiting from Toronto. We went to my favorite Manhattan spot, Keen’s, in business since 1885. Push through its front doors, and you’ve stepped back in time: white tablecloths, a ceiling covered in antique clay pipes, a tank with live lobsters (their lobster bisque is so good!) There’s a pub room with its own bar and a fireplace and the bar, of course, has a huge painting of a nude woman above the bar.
Trying a new, fresh fragrance from my favorite perfumer, Penhaligon’s…This one, Castile, smells deliciously of orange blossoms, a memory from when I was 21 and traveling alone through Europe for four months. I was in Seville in orange blossom season. Amazing!
A day spent with a young pal visiting from Montreal. We had Chinese food for lunch, then I drove her around Manhattan to its southern edge, spotting Lady Liberty and the orange Staten Island ferry. We parked in the South Street Seaport and walked around a bit, enjoying its history and architecture.
I love quirky windows. This was in the Seaport, a private home.
A catch-up call with my bestie from university.
Longer brighter days as spring sloooooowly approaches.
A cozy new winter jacket, on sale.
The brief moment when the rising sun behind us hits the windows on the western hillside of the Hudson River. I call it the ruby moment.
Finding a surprise bit of money in a coat or jacket pocket.
Discovering a surprising and lovely find — recently a terrific dive bar a block from New York harbor and this amazing cut-metal mural on the side of the Peck Slip School, honoring a Dutch ferryman of the 1630s.
It’s a place I would guess few tourists venture to, a few blocks in the Bronx, but a place that on our recent weekday holiday visit was bustling. The people sitting next to us at lunch had come in, as we did, from Westchester County (30 minutes’ drive north) and as far away as Stratford, Connecticut, on the coast.
It’s best known as Little Italy, not to be confused with the other Little Italy, in Manhattan.
This stretch of just a few streets offers unique pleasures — like a bar outside the fish market where you can slurp down fresh oysters and clams as you stand in the sunshine. There are several bakeries and we bought a sourdough baguette and a round loaf studded with meat.
Teitel’s is a legend, tiny and crowded, with walnuts and olives and cheese and meat and dried cod and almost anything edible you can think of; we bought walnuts, achovies and cold cuts.
We started the day with a bite and cappuccinos at Egidio’s, an old school pastry shop with plenty of seating and acres of yummy treats and admired a small dog named Anchovy.
So many cannolis!
Slurping fresh clams and oysters on the sidewalk
We bought branzino, my favorite fish, and shrimp, and settled in for lunch at Enzo’s, each with a glass of Montepulciano.
Then it was time to cross the street to the indoor retail market where — of course! — you can watch experts roll and cut and trim huge bags of tobacco into cigars.
Having lived in Toronto, with its huge and amazing St. Lawrence Market, and Montreal, with its Atwater Market, and Paris with Rue Cler and many other food markets, I really miss this lively and interesting European way of food shopping — the butcher, the fishmonger, the baker, the fresh pasta store, the cheese store, the liquor store. It’s bustling and social and fun, the absolute opposite of the huge and booooooring suburban supermarkets all owned by multi-national conglomerates, not by the grandchildren of immigrants who founded these individual stores, some more than a century old.
I hadn’t been back there in probably five years and it was happily, very little changed.
You can enjoy a great afternoon in only a few blocks, increasingly laden with food and drink and savoring it all with joy.
Typical of such summits, the people speaking were largely white, upper middle class and already perched high in the industry…not necessarily the best place from which to enact meaningful change. By the time you’ve hit the heights, so to speak — like any industry, really — you’ve climbed the greasy pole and know how many ways you can slip back to the bottom: pissing off your advertisers or publisher, to start with. I’ve been working in journalism since I was 19, freelance and staff — a senior editor at three national magazines and a reporter and feature writer for three big dailies. I enjoyed my career, but I’m mostly out of it now, and not subject to the exhausting chase for clicks and views. The Washington Post recently hired a social media coach (!) to work with their reporters. This is, for me, a fresh hell. Not enough any longer to produce terrific stories…
An excerpt from that conference, as reported by The New York Times:
“The media” pops up on your smartphone and is thrown onto your front porch. It is transmitted on television sets and is featured in glossy magazines. It’s so varied in so many ways but is similar in one respect: Many Americans don’t trust it.
According to a recent Gallup poll, trust in mass media has hit a near record low: Only 34 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in the media, while 38 percent of Americans have none at all...
“We do need some level of news, but there are so many people that just need basic information,” argued Sarah Alvarez of Outlier Media, a news organization focused on low-income Detroiters.…
“You can’t do a big investigation if you are not covering the city council every day,” said Sara Just of “PBS NewsHour.” You can’t find out who the corrupt mayor is if you are not there every day.” The disappearance of that kind of local journalism, she said, is what “worries me the most. That’s not going to be the for-profit center, but it is how we find out what’s going on.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, whose publication, The Atlantic, put up a paywall shortly before the pandemic, argued for a subscriber-funded model: “Our industry made a mistake 20 years ago by giving away quality journalism for free — we trained readers to expect something that took work, time and energy and funding and we gave it away. And we have to stop doing that.”
As some of you may know, George Santos — a lying sack of garbage — not only recently got elected as a Republican Congressman from Long Island, despite a barrage of lies about his work, education, life and but now sits on two committees.
Only one small local newspaper noticed what a grifter he is but there was no other media interest in following up.
We live in a golden age of national media startups. Every week another group of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed media personalities launches another cleverly branded news site to solve all of American journalism’s problems.
So why do all these sites sound the same?
Why do political news sites, begun with lots of fanfare about how different and innovative and disruptive they plan to be, end up covering the same stories covered by every other established media source?
Why are they all obsessed with whatever Donald Trump spews onto his private social accounts? Why do they listen every time GQP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks? Why do they report on what senators say on Tucker Carlson’s show, on each other’s podcasts, on Chuck Todd’s Status Quo Fetish Hour?
Why do they all move in a pack, chasing the same ball, like 5-year-olds playing soccer for the first time?
Because — as any honest journalist knows — the few who rise to a position of any power or influence, let alone a job with a liveable salary – has already been co-opted. When a year at one of the fancy journalism schools will cost more than a year’s salary and the industry is already highly insecure, only a brave (or trust-funded few) can even still afford to buy entree to the industry or stick around very long.
So those who become staff journalists can start to look and sound the same….as does their reporting.
Pack journalism dominates — one person chasing all the others to match a story (no matter how tedious!) for fear their managers (as as they will) ask why they aren’t covering it?
Not IF they should at all!
It’s lazy and easy to sneer “fake news” when you dislike what you hear or see.
I rarely see anyone ask…what’s the upside for this worldview?
It’s also pretty obvious that those sneering “fake news” have rarely, if ever, even met or spoken to anyone, anywhere, who actually works in journalism — bringing any genuine curiosity about what it’s like to produce news or features.
We all have some idea what doctors or lawyers or cops or teachers do all day but few of journalism’s most toxic and virulent critics really have a clue about the ecosystem of news production — which is why such attacks leave me unmoved.
I agree that mainstream American journalism needs to be a lot better, but few wake up in the morning determined to print or broadcast something they know to be false.
Believe it or not, like many journalists, I’m disappointed by too much of it every day.
Not because it’s “fake news” but because it’s:
overly focused on crime, violence, sentimentality and military
ignores most of the world beyond the U.S.
rarely addresses the roots of complex issues like poverty and homelessness
doing a lousy job covering and explaining the urgency of climate change
sucking up to corporate interests
I have no illusion all journalists are good guys! Some are inevitably lazy, unethical, rushed, underfunded, poorly trained and edited.
But it doesn’t mean journalism is unimportant to democracy, regardless of its flaws. If you can’t access basic, verifiable, mulitply sourced facts about corrupt politicians or dangerous medical issues, to name only two key issues affecting us all — good luck!
Untrue assertions make their way to mainstream news consumers in several ways. Common tactics sources use include false equivalence, whataboutism, bothsidesism and good old-fashioned lying. Well-meaning journalists play a role by allowing sources to give “their side” of an argument — true or not — out of a belief that fair, ethical journalism requires them to do so.
False equivalence refers broadly to situations where a source makes an assertion that two things that share some similarities are equal despite significant differences between them. Comparing Trump supporters’ Jan. 6, 2021, protest in Washington, D.C., to protests following the death of George Floyd is an example. The Floyd protests didn’t turn into a deadly riot that overtook the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn a presidential election.
Whataboutism is a form of false equivalence in which a source responds to an allegation by claiming that someone else did something similar or worse without addressing the substance of the allegation.
Two journalism films are worth your time no matter how much you want to dismiss my defense and protestations, the 2015 film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, about an investigation by the Boston Globe investigative team of three reporters that uncovered 249 abusive Catholic priests and 1,000 victims….many more exist worldwide, as evidenced by the long list in the film’s final credits, from Igloolik, Canada to Argentina.
At its best, this is what journalists do.
Also, the 2022 film She Said, about two New York Times journalists who uncovered decades of abuse by former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — now in prison for those crimes.
Both are slow moving and procedural but also show the internal hierarchies of power at each paper and how they impeded or helped the reporters and the emotional and physical toll that such reporting on difficult issues affects us.
Because it does.
How cynically — if you even consume news or journalism — do you view the industry?