Designed to Thrill

A look inside the Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition.

BY DAVID A. ROSE

Italy is renowned for many fine products: cuisine, wines and luxury fashions instantly come to mind. But high on the list of Italian gems are its exotic sports cars. Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati set the bar for fast and exquisitely designed racing machines. Every so often this automotive world crosses paths with the world of high-end fashions, but rarely have the results been so intriguing.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Maserati marque, the company has collaborated with top fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna to offer a limited series of 100 Maserati Quattroporte high-performance luxury cars. The 100 numbered cars represent each year Maserati has been in production.

When two highly respected global companies of this caliber work together on a project, it becomes a celebration of Italian production and design not just from a standpoint of mechanical know-how, but also of fabric innovation. Ermenegildo Zegna was established as a fine woolen mill in 1910 and today is known not only for its clothing designs, but also for its unparalleled creation of original fabrics.

An exclusive Owner’s Collection kit is Ermenegildo Zegna’s gift with purchase. The kit includes personal accessories and 10 yards of Zegna silk in the same chevron pattern used on the car’s seats.

Reminiscent of the finest Zegna suit, the silk fabric used for the car’s roof lining exhibits a tasteful and classic touch. The combination of leather and silk appears in soft shades of gray and cappuccino, which exude the tone of a Zegna menswear collection and give the vehicle its strong masculine identity. The exterior shade, developed exclusively for the Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition, is called Platinum Silk. The exterior appeal of the car is further enhanced by the stunning 20” polished wheels.

To drive a beautiful car is very satisfying, but the experience would be quite lacking if the car’s performance did not match its elegant looks. In this regard, the Maserati Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition will not disappoint. Thanks to its twin turbo V/8 and 530 horsepower, the car can catapult from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 4.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 191. Not only will the owner turn heads as he cruises along Main Street, but the vehicle’s speed and handling will impress even the most accomplished driver.

World Scene

Experience life’s little luxuries.

BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON

Courtesy of Eduardo Patino

BALLET BECOMES YOU

Ballet Hispanico is the foremost Latino dance company in the United States. This dazzling young group of wonderfully talented dancers, with a repertoire of over 100 works, creates a brilliant theatrical experience performed to sold-out audiences in America, Europe and South America. “We combine the artistry, technique and physicality of the dancers and imbue ballet with contemporary and Spanish dance,” explains artistic director Eduardo Vilaro. “It’s the passion of the Latino world.” In 2015, Ballet Hispanico will be appearing across the country in cities including Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. To get the insider experience, sign on as a Patron: you’ll meet the dancers, watch rehearsals and even travel with the company.

ROYAL RETREAT

Near the markets and not far from the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech, secluded on a quiet, narrow street, a modest door opens to an elaborate atrium lined with balconies in rich wood. A former 19th-century palace, the Riad Ayadina is a mixture of light and shadows, cozy nooks and open spaces. The three rooms and six suites have four-poster beds (strewn with rose petals to celebrate your arrival) and copper baths. There’s a swimming pool, hot tub and a spa offering massages, facials and a traditional Moroccan Hammam bath. The charming French owner oversees accommodations and personally arranges the lavish menus. Have breakfast on the roof terrace with views over the old city into the mountains, and dine by candlelight on a three-course fusion of French and Moroccan cuisine in your own private courtyard.

NEED A LIFT?

Davos, Switzerland is the highest city in Europe, home to the amazing Parsenn Mountain (a favorite of freestylers and snowboarders), and
nearby, the new InterContinental Davos. This opulent hotel with a unique golden egg design by Oikos has spacious rooms, each with a balcony overlooking Davos and the mountains. There are three restaurants (at the Capricorn, an alpine brasserie, culinary director Alex Kroll has created a surprisingly delicious hay soup, featuring a Champagne/white wine base and hay grown at or above 2,000 meters). The Alpine Spa uses La Prairie products and indigenous herbs. And after a day on the slopes, the hotel will bring tired skiers home in a horse-drawn carriage that serves warm mulled wine.

THE MUSIC GOES ON AND ON

In 2015, New York City’s legendary Duplex Cabaret Theatre will be celebrating its 65th year. Here, where stars such as Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers and KT Sullivan honed their skills, the legacy of superb nightly entertainment continues with well-known cabaret performers as well as unique first time acts taking the stage. “The Duplex has always been a place of beginnings,” says program director Thomas Honeck. “We love helping newcomers get their start in New York City, as well as providing a home for award-winning composers and singers.” The Duplex starts its celebration this New Year’s Eve with a show by the great Natalie Douglas, who’s returning to the Greenwich Village club after performances at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, the Café Carlyle and a critically acclaimed show in London. Life is a cabaret.

THIS DESK IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND

If you work hard at your desk, it might be time to choose one that works as hard as you do. Incorporating the principle that human beings feel better when they move around periodically, the Stir Kinetic Desk can “learn” your habits and remind you when it’s time to change positions. It can be programmed with your standing and sitting height preferences (a simple double tap will move it up or down), and can even sense and track your standing time and the calories burned while you’re on your feet. Plus it’s WiFi and Bluetooth enabled. Now sit. Good desk.

Soundtrack of Our Lives

The joys of youth, the magic of music, captured in photographs.

BY WAYNE MAIBAUM

“Beatles in Surf” by Charles Trainor, courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

A recent exhibit at Soho’s Morrison Hotel Gallery, curated by Julian Lennon and showcasing some never-before-seen photographs of The Beatles, reminded me of why we still love them. For 50 years, The Beatles have been credited with social change, from setting fashion trends to spurring the fall of communism! But for most of us, their importance is more personal: simply put, their music makes us feel good, restoring the promises of youth and providing a universal connection that transcends age, race, religion, politics and all such superficial barriers. (Imagine!) Our basic human emotions—love, loss, longing, regret, elation—continue to resonate in each resounding melody. And mysteriously, the older we get, the more we seem to get it.

“Beatles in Limo” by Curt Gunther, courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
I get by with a little help from my friends…”

“Saving up your money for a rainy day
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
Oh boy, when you’re dead
You don’t take nothing with you but your soul…”

 

May the Fowl Be With You

Fried chicken gets dressed up.

BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON

Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, Photo By Thor Swift

So what if versions of fried chicken have been eaten since ancient times in Europe and Asia, chicken fried in palm oil has been a longstanding staple in West African cuisine, and the Scots were early proponents of frying chicken in fat? (Some even credit them with introducing the technique to the United States.) Despite its worldly history, fried chicken has become an inimitably American dish. After all, how many other countries celebrate National Fried Chicken Day? (July 6th, FYI.)

It’s almost impossible not to love fried chicken. It’s crispy, satisfying, delicious, and like all great comfort foods, it can even evoke nostalgia: memories of Sunday family dinners, summer picnics or late-night refrigerator raids. (Few things in life are quite so satisfying as discovering an overlooked chicken leg.)

Although fried chicken has always been popular, these days it’s become so fashionable that even elitist gourmets are crying fowl. And cooks all over the country are keeping abreast of this current passion for poultry.

Raised on a farm, Mildred Cotton Council spent years learning and creating her recipes. In 1976, she finally opened Mama Dip’s Kitchen (Mama Dip was her childhood nickname) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she continues to turn out some of the best fried chicken in the country. “I’m a country cook. I can tell how a chicken is raised by the taste,” she asserts.

When asked if she has a special recipe, Mama Dip explains that she has “never called it a recipe” before sharing her prep routine: she soaks the chicken in a big tub filled with salt water, then rinses it off, dips it in flour and adds black pepper.

“Best not to freeze for fried chicken,” she cautions. “People get chicken on sale and put it in a freezer, [but you] need a fresh chicken to begin with. Every day we get a delivery.” Mama Dip always serves her fried chicken with biscuits. Another tip she’s generous enough to reveal: “I started making biscuits with plain self-rising flour with a little extra baking powder mixed in there. It’s really good.”

Chicken and waffles at Birch & Barley

Other restaurants, vying for the cock of the walk title, have come up with their own inventive methods of making fried chicken. In Portland, Oregon, David Kreifels, one of the three partners who created Simpatica and Laurelhurst Market (named in 2010 as one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appétit) says they only serve fried chicken from the butcher shop on Tuesdays at Laurelhurst Market, and at brunch on Sundays at Simpatica.

The chicken is soaked in buttermilk overnight, dusted with a blend of curry powder, flour, salt, pepper and paprika, then fried in oil. The spice coating allows the chicken to develop a nice crisp at a lower oil temperature. It’s allowed to “rest” after frying and Kreifels says, “As it cools the crust gets crispier… and the crust stays on because of the lower heat.” Their chicken is served with waffles in fruit syrup.

In Washington D.C., Birch & Barley’s fried chicken and waffle dish is so popular that husband and wife team Kyle (chef) and Tiffany (pastry chef) Bailey have opened another restaurant, GBD (Golden, Brown & Delicious), that highlights fried chicken along with their gourmet doughnuts. You can actually order a fried chicken sandwich with a doughnut as the bread. (Truly, you can!) GBD uses 100 percent hormone-free chickens plunged into a buttermilk brine, then fried fresh to order. It’s served with sides like crème fraiche biscuits, scallion potato salad, pimento mac ‘n’ cheese, creamed kale and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and presented alongside 12 different dipping sauces, including buffalo hot, satan spicy, homemade ranch buttermilk, barbecue and honey mustard.

It stands to reason all the attention on this essentially simple American dish was eventually bound to ruffle the feathers of famous chefs. Renown for the gastronomic experiences he creates at his legendary French Laundry and Per Se restaurants, Thomas Keller salutes home cooking with Ad Hoc in Yountville, California.

Here, chef de cuisine Katie Hagan-Welchel treats chickens like poultry royalty. Using only local birds no larger than 2.5 pounds (to promote even cooking), the chicken is cut into 10 pieces and spends 12 hours in an herb-lemon brine (to help the meat stay juicy). It’s air dried to room temperature then dredged in flour mixed with garlic, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Next it’s dipped in buttermilk, then returned to the flour mixture and finally fried in peanut oil.

Laurelhurst Market Steakhouse & Butcher Shop

Chef Hagan-Whelchel uses two different fryers—one for white meat, another for dark—pointing out that dark meat takes longer and she prefers to cook it at a lower temperature (320 degrees) than the white (340 degrees). Fried chicken at Ad Hoc is on the menu every other Monday and served with corn bread and seasonal vegetables. It’s also available in a box lunch at Addendum in the garden behind Ad Hoc, from Thursday through Saturday.

When you get right down to it, whether simple or sophisticated, fried chicken at its best is soul-satisfying food you eat with your fingers while having a really wonderful time. “Fried chicken somehow emotionally resonates with everybody,” says Hagan-Whelchel. “It’s a thread through all of us… it just makes you feel good.”

Listen Up!

The newest contemporary art exhibits are heard, not seen.

BY ELISE DIAMANTINI

Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet, Photo By Wilson Santiago Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sound installations are a growing trend in the contemporary art world.

Some attribute their popularity to the globalization of music through the internet. As Mark IJzerman, a sound artist/composer and writer for Everyday Listening, a website that posts various sound and art installations, sees it, “[The internet] makes way for music that uses sounds in different ways, which is why people’s ears are open to a wider variety. Sound is all around us, but we’re often not truly aware of it in the same way as the things we see because sound is temporal, fleeting. Learning how to focus on ‘active listening’ takes time and concentration, maybe more than looking at a painting, for example.”

Garnering recent attention was Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet, presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Cloisters. This exhibit was The Cloisters’ entrée into contemporary art, and it was a first for Cardiff as well, since the exhibit was previously shown only in stark, modern rooms; this time, the backdrop was the beautiful Fuentidueña Chapel.

Associate curator Anne Strauss referred to the work as “a contemporary artist deconstructing a renowned 16th century piece of music, transforming it into her own masterwork presented in a 12th-century setting.”

The exhibit was breathtaking: 40 speakers set up in an ovular shape each played the recording of a singular voice from a member of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Together, the voices sang the 40-part motet Spem in alium numquam habui by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis. The 11-minute performance opened with a verbal introduction by the artist and played continuously during the museum’s operating hours.

Guests were encouraged to walk around the room and listen to each speaker—separately and collectively—to gain the overall sensory experience.

Soundings: A Contemporary Score at New York City’s MoMA, Photo By Jonathan Muzikar Copyright 2013 The Museum of Modern Art

New York’s Museum of Modern Art also featured an exhibit in this emerging genre last year. Soundings: A Contemporary Score was MoMA’s first major exhibition of sound art and featured the work of 16 contemporary artists. The museum’s website described the exhibit: “These artistic responses range from architectural interventions, to visualizations of otherwise inaudible sound, to an exploration of how sound ricochets within a gallery, to a range of field recordings—including echolocating bats, abandoned buildings in Chernobyl, 59 bells in New York City, and a sugar factory in Taiwan…. The exhibition posits something specific: that how we listen determines what we hear.”

Like art, sound installations can be exhibited in various forms. As IJzerman says, “It can be a sculpture in which sound is a dominant factor, or a knitted sculpture which reacts with sound when you touch it. Sound installation art is very much intertwined with both the exploration of music and sounds, but also sculptures and interactive systems.”

World Scene

EXPERIENCE LIFE’S LITTLE LUXURIES

BY DONALD CHARLES RICHARDSON

THE ART OF STYLE

Le Royal Monceau, Raffles in Paris is a very fashionable hotel. Between rushing out to glamorous appointments, modish guests dine in the restaurants, gather at Le Bar Long for cocktails, or indulge in the Spa My Blend by Clarins (which has the longest indoor pool in Paris). And it’s the ideal hotel for art lovers. Paintings, drawings and photography exhibitions are in the lobby, the rooms… everywhere. There’s even a contemporary fresco, A Garden in Paris, on the ceiling of La Cuisine. Le Royal Monceau is also home to the city’s first art concierge, who offers tours of the hotel’s treasures and organizes excursions, such as a visit to contemporary art galleries in the Marais and St. Germain areas, or a private viewing of the Henri Matisse exhibition in Pompidou. In Paris, home is where the art is.

UN JOUR EN NORMANDIE

The lovely little town of Bayeux in Normandy, near the English Channel, is home to the celebrated 230-foot tapestry depicting the Norman invasion of Britain, not to mention extraordinary cheese, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux and a landscape layered with centuries of history. A drive through the lush countryside offers glimpses of châteaus, apple orchards and the famous Normandy cows, arguably the most tranquil in the world. Naturally, you’ll want to visit the inspiring and poignant beaches and artifacts of the World War II invasion. (At Port en Bessin, right above a German bunker, notice the watchtower built by the soldiers of Louis XV.) Nearby is the 17th-century Château de Balleroy, the Forbes family home. So is Brécy, a manor house with restored Italian-style gardens laid out over four terraces. The Château de Brouay, amid-18th century château surrounded by farms, has been a family estate for six generations; you can arrange to lunch in the château or have a cocktail in the orchards. And don’t miss La Haizerie farm, where you might be invited to pet the cows before tasting the homemade lavender ice cream.

SUMMER READING

There’s a reason Twin Farms is a nice place to curl up with a good book. Set in Vermont, just north of Woodstock on 300 acres of meadows and woodlands, this quiet country hideaway was once the home of Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson. Here, many of the great names in literature gathered to talk (and probably argue) about their work and lives. Twin Farms retains its aura of simplicity and coziness. There are hand-painted murals, rich maple and pine woodwork, American folk art and rustically elegant accommodations, with king-size feather beds, wood-burning fireplaces and screened porches. If you need to stretch, there’s hiking, biking, tennis, pond swimming, fly fishing and canoeing. But why bother? Just relax and catch up on your reading.

PLUGGED IN

Even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast, chances are you’re going to want to tool around the countryside (or slip quickly through city traffic) this summer on the top-of-the-line bike from Evolve. The Titanium XR is all electric: no gas, no oil, no emissions. It can go up to 60 miles per hour, has a range of 100 miles on one charge and is almost completely silent. At your request, Evolve will even make coordinating accessories, such as a container sized perfectly to hold your picnic basket or bottle of bubbly.

FROM THE TOP

On warm evenings, New Yorkers love to gather at rooftop lounges. Upstairs At The Kimberly is a favorite among celebrities and fashion insiders. The view is spectacular, the lounge is never uncomfortably crowded (there’s a strict rule about the number of people admitted), and the staff is charming. Together, sommeliers Branimir Kostic and Niko Mavreas have created an extensive list that boasts a collection of spirits and wines from all over the world, including an astonishing 26 different kinds of Champagne. There are wonderful savory and sweet things to munch on (try the truffled mac and cheese or lobster sliders), and either sommelier is happy to help guests choose a wine and food pairing. Reach for the stars.

The Marilyn Mystique

50 YEARS AFTER HER DEATH, SHE’S STILL TURNING HEADS.

BY ROBERT HAYNES-PETERSON

My first on-screen crush was Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause. I was 16. Wood’s soulful eyes and short-sleeved angora sweaters were magical, though the film was already 30 years old. Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, wasn’t on my radar. There was the Elton John song, and every cartoon I grew up with did a riff parodying the flying white skirt scene in The Seven Year Itch. I knew she’d been in Playboy, and that was kind of hot. But I was more interested in the current crop of celebrities undressing in my dad’s magazines: Victoria Principal, Barbi Benton, Kim Basinger.

Monroe has outlasted and outshined them all, despite having died 50 years ago in August. Last year witnessed My Week With Marilyn (starring Michelle Williams as Monroe), artist Seward Johnson’s 26-foottall cartoony homage, Forever Marilyn, in Chicago (relocated to Palm Springs in May), and a special bottling of the very popular Marilyn Merlot wine, celebrating its own 25th Anniversary. The NBC show Smash chronicles the lives of theater actors, writers and producers as they work to bring a Marilyn-themed musical to Broadway. Monroe’s image also graced this year’s poster for the 65th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival and the cover of Vanity Fair, promoting the release of previously unpublished nudes by photographer Lawrence Schiller. The other blonde bombshells of the 1950s—Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Sheree North and so on—haven’t enjoyed the same posthumous career.

“When you look at photographs of her, she has this ability to express herself in so many ways,” says Donna Holder, co-founder of Marilyn Wines. “I don’t think she’s this dumb blonde at all. She was just kind of a straightforward person. A beautiful person.” Why this hold on us in 2012? Contemporaries speak of an emotionally fragile, but highly canny, comic actress. In outtakes from the Laurence Olivier film The Prince and the Showgirl (the setting for My Week With Marilyn), we see an actress repeatedly missing her lines and cues, frustrating the prim Olivier. Yet we also see her vulnerability, beauty and overwhelming desire to be appreciated.When she finally gets a scene right, she nails it.

While watching these clips I finally understood the Marilyn Magic, and developed a new classic screen crush. You ache to protect her as much as to kiss her. Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, that spunky kid from L.A., continues to attract new generations of fans. On Facebook, a quote attributed to Ella Fitzgerald has been making the rounds, in which the African-American jazz singer credits Monroe with expanding Fitzgerald’s fan base into the mainstream. Monroe’s own Facebook fan page boasts 3.2 million fans, over half of which areyounger than 25. I recently joined Pinterest, a bulletin board-style website used for organizing all the web stuff you want others to see. One of my “followers” on the site, a young woman of maybe 25, had two boards (categories) I noticed immediately: “Old Hollywood” and “Movies I Love.” Guess whose platinum-haired visage graced both?

Roll With It

YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT OUT TO EAT SUSHI.

BY ERIC BUTTERMAN

If you’re looking for something light to eat, few things satisfy like sushi.With properties that promote better memory and overall well-being, it’s long been one of the staples of the East. But over the last two decades, Americans have increasingly wanted to make it for themselves. The good news is, it’s not as hard as you may think—but it will require patience.

Wing Lam, owner and head chef of Zen Sushi, says making sushi rolls at home comes down to two things: practice and creativity. “It’s like anything: keep at it and [the finished product] will continue to get better,” he says, “…as long as you buy good rice!” Beyond that essential ingredient is seaweed, which forms the outside of the wrap, and then whatever you choose to put inside. It’s best to use rice that’s short and thin, mixed with vinegar, salt and sugar. To save time, Lam suggests buying the pre-made rice mix at your local Asian market (or order online at asianfoodgrocer.com).

Now for the seaweed. Ever wonder how chefs are able to wrap it so perfectly around the rice? Using a bamboo mat is their clever secret. Decide how thick you prefer your sushi rolls to be and choose your mat accordingly: the thicker the individual bamboo sticks that make up the mat, the thicker the roll will be. Cut one-half to two-thirds of a sheet of your purchased seaweed, place it in the center of the bamboo mat, and cover all except the outer edges of the seaweed with rice.

Now comes the creativity. You can put anything inside a sushi roll. However, there are certain standbys to consider. The California roll is among the most popular, containing crabmeat, cucumber, avocado and carrot. The Philadelphia roll highlights salmon and cream cheese, sometimes along with avocado or cucumber. Or make up your own! Once you’ve decided, make sure to distribute the ingredients evenly over the width of the seaweed; otherwise, when you cut the roll, some pieces may not contain any filling. Then lift the edge of the bamboo mat and begin to push it forward, rolling the contents within. Slowly open the mat and slice your finished roll into individual sushi pieces.

Even once you’ve created your roll, the product still isn’t finished. You’ll notice many sushi establishments don’t just throw them on the plate; style is almost as much a part of sushi as substance. Try artfully drizzling your chosen sauce over the plate in an eyecatching design, or lining up individual sushi pieces to form a pattern. In addition, consider the serving plates you use: smaller ones tend to accentuate the sushi’s own beauty. You can even perfect your at-home sushi experience right down to the music. Choose soft melodies to enhance the already relaxing atmosphere which goes along with eating a light and healthful meal.

“Making sushi takes skill, but don’t be afraid to try different things,” Lam emphasizes. “Some of the best flavor combinations come from experimentation.”

If Walls Could Talk

RECLAIMED WOOD TELLS ITS OWN TALE.

BY LENORE RICH

Who doesn’t love a good story? When the Coney Island boardwalk was repaired with concrete and plastic, the South American wood was “rescued” and restored, and the new owner of this iconic material now has quite a tale to tell. A hot trend in home design, reclaimed wood is available in varieties ranging from 600-year-old bog or swamp oak to remnants of historic buildings. Accent walls, flooring, benches, tables, decking—its applications are limited only by one’s imagination.

Antique redwood, originally railroaded across the country and recently rescued from now-defunct New York City water towers, is particularly desirable because redwood is no longer harvested. Constructed by barrel makers in the 1800s, these towers were used to store and deliver water to the top floors of New York skyscrapers. Strong yet light and water-resistant, this wood can be creatively optimized by highlighting the patterns made over time by water. Combining the interior, water-stained wood with exterior wood that was exposed to rain, wind and local natural elements takes the time-worn look up a notch. And owning a piece of the New York skyline is priceless

Gus Retsinas, a wood flooring specialist at Manhattan Forest Products, insists that the days of tossing scrap materials are gone. “Green is in. When a building is demolished, someone wants the bricks, someone else the wood.” Their New York showroom features a walk-in closet with reclaimed wood flooring, finished with natural oils to bring out its intrinsic color and beauty. (The treatment does for wood what hand cream does for dry skin.) Many customers, including well-known celebrities, seek this material out for “the look” as well as “the story.” Prices range from roughly $11 to $40 per square foot.

Another popular source for wood as conversation piece: the stock of reclaimed wood from the Marsellus Casket Company, famed for fine wood caskets used by notables like John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Onassis, Richard Nixon and Mickey Mantle. Established in 1882, their building was destroyed in a 2010 fire. The owners could not rebuild, much of the wood was reclaimed, and so the story lives on. “People are knowledgeable and discerning,” says Retsinas. “Many seek out a specific source or finish. Each time-worn board has its own character, thanks in part to its original geographic location. Oak from New England isn’t identical to oak from Michigan.”

When building their Santa Fe home, the Alexanders used reclaimed wood extensively. Ceiling beams were constructed from trees that died naturally and had intrinsic rustic character. Some flooring was purchased from an upstate New York mill that cut the wood before the tree was downed. By so doing, the width of the planks measures in at an exceptional 24 inches; there are also fewer seams and an undeniable originality. Old barn wood appealed to them because it had been hand chiseled. Yet another wood they selected was milled and three inches thick, providing a unique look as well as superb soundproofing.

Is leather your preference? Ecodomo’s line of reclaimed (recycled) leather comes from tanneries that produce for BMW, Coach and the like. Made from at least 70% pre-consumer recycled material, it’s shredded and bound with natural latex and bark. Versatile and economical, it can be used anywhere wood veneer is applied. Remodeling your entertainment area? Why not opt for wood flooring from a famed brewery, a chandelier crafted from antique wine barrels and a recycled BMW sofa? It’s all about the look…and the story!

Hitting the Right Notes

LIKE GOOD MUSIC, STYLE IS A MELANGE OF ECLECTIC ELEMENTS, THE WHOLE INEFFABLY GREATER THAN ITS PARTS.

BY JAMES RARUS

In 1935, at 10 years old, my father lost his dad in a fire. The death left a Polish-speaking widow to raise her six children in the blue collar town o f Sayreville, New Jersey. With no father at home, my dad adopted multiple father figures from his working-class, Catholic town. They taught him how to smoke, sing, swear, tie a four-in-hand and handle his whiskey. By 14, Julius Anthony Richard Rarus was singing with these men—most twice his age—in a Sayreville glee club. After graduating from a Catholic high school, my dad joined the Army, serving as a payroll master on a base in America’s Bible Belt. The only action he saw during WWII was at the officer’s club, in his tailor’s shop, and in the beds of the local girls who’d fall for the handsome singer in the custom-made khaki uniform.

After the war came college, the Cold War, and a possible new career. At the time, J. Edgar Hoover’s men were recruiting agents who could ferret out Communist infiltrators from post-war Eastern Europe. Aware of my dad’s Polish fluency, they pursued him, noting that his crisply tailored Ivy League suits, rakish fedoras and linen pocket squares would serve him well with The Director. But after months of interviews, background checks and tails from other agents to see where he drank, slept and prayed, he was passed over for being “too liberal.” He’d tell me these stories on Sunday nights, as he filed his nails, polished his Aldens and brushed his fur felt hats. He’d hum along to Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra on the Hi-Fi, and reminisce about how he courted my mother in jazz clubs while being courted by the F.B.I. “I’d wear my best custom suits, hire a chauffeured car, pick up Mom over in Princeton, and we’d drive into the city to see Lenny Bruce, George Shearing, Maxine Sullivan, Tony Bennett…”

Years after my dad’s passing, I found myself standing next to Tony Bennett in a Manhattan men’s store. We began a conversation about music. “Music is good or it’s not music,” Mr. Bennett told me with unabashed certainty. “We might call it music because it sounds like music, but it’s bad sound. It’s that simple and always has been.” He leaned forward, stared into my eyes with fatherly concern and asked, softly, “Understand?” I didn’t, to be honest. But I knew my dad would have understood perfectly.