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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Keep Your Freedom For As Long As You Can Now

It’s the Jon Stewart hour after a long Monday. I have a stack of manuscripts that still need reading and a 378 page Restoration Hardware catalogue. It is the mother of all RH catalogues. There’s a also a Garnett Hill and Eddie Bauer, but they seem lame compared to this tome from RH. I realized some time ago that home decor catalogues were almost as good as Valium and twice as addictive. I tell myself to read at least one more proposal. But I just want one little peak inside the catalogue. One little peek at the nickel finishes, the “antique” sconces or  the generously proportioned mirror recalling the shape of Moorish windows — a zinc finish lends the wood molding an aged patina. I wonder if I could do mash up of Pride and Predge with Restoration Hardware? Maybe I could do a mash up of my ass and my face.

What’s your favorite catalogue? Or mash up?

50 Responses

  1. Thinkgeek is my favorite catalog right now. I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at the spy toys.

    My favorite mash up is still Jane Austen’s Fight Club. I’d love to be a bad ass in an Empire waist gown.

  2. I’m a catalog junkie — I pages through them like I’m made of disposable income.

    But this remains my favorite mashup.

  3. i miss my grandma’s old Sears and JC Penney catalogues that i would use as a booster seat during dinner before going through the toy pages and circling the barbies i wanted for christmas. to make up for them, i steal every skymall i can get my hands on and circle things i threaten to buy for my husband.

    the word mash-up makes me feel fat. why is that?

  4. Good…that’s my fav magazine because it’s, well mighty good. Each edition is themed. There’s the China issue, and the climate change issue, you get the idea. Every ad is for a product that promises to save the universe (or at the very least Fond-du-Lac) with perhaps the exception of the Fluevog shoes ad which legitimately qualifies Good as my favorite mini-catalog also.

  5. Golf Magazine. But even that doesn’t help me sleep. And Gorsuch — no one can afford anything in there, except maybe the doctor’s wife who once pointed out in front of a bunch of folks that I didn’t pronounce it correctly.

  6. Athleta, Garnet Hill, InStyle.

    I flip through on a high until I’m done and feel horrible about myself. Especially Athleta. Real Women, with Real Lives. I surf, I’m a stay-at-home mom with a brood of twenty, and just for fun volunteer in Haiti twice a year in between stints as a Pilates instructor extrordinaire.
    Mash-up with High Times and the AARP catalogue.

  7. I used to like the old Johnson Smith catalog.

  8. Design Beyond Reach

  9. B&H. It’s huge and yet, by my lights, not big enough. I know they have even more than that.

    Pondering your question, I realized mine might well be the last generation of American men to have jerked off to the Sears Roebuck Catalogue, ladies undergarment section.

    A sidebar to this story,

    • My friends and I spent hours trying to find some exposed men parts after we heard our mothers talking about the scandalous photo. No doubt it was ripped out before we got our paws on the catalog – if it existed at all.

  10. As a young lad, while my friends entertained aspirations of becoming astronauts, pop stars, or pinball machine designers, I aimed for something much more specific — I wanted to be Frederick of Hollywood.

    He was debonair in his own sleazy way, mustachioed, and he seemed to have money oozing from each and every orifice.

    Even better, Frederick existed in asome over-the-top Hollywood mansion where he was surrounded by sex kittens who purred and lolled about in drug-induced stupors wearing nothing but peek-a-boo bras, crotchless -panties, and naughty “see-thru” teddies.

    The first impediment to my grand plan was when I couldn’t properly grow the obviously necessary pencil-thin moustache.

    Then, when I entered my formative pot smoking years, the images in the old Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogues started seeming increasingly absurd.

    The stack of 1960s FOHs under my bunk bed began to become a source of embarrassment to me. Slightly creepy. Sadly, on one moused-out, trippy night, I eighty-sixed Frederick and his kittens from my life.

    Sometimes pot made me over-think stuff. That’s why I eventually shifted to cocaine and alcohol — there was none of that messy thought-clutter standing in path to my dreams.

  11. I love Officeworks. All that stationery! Pens for miles, whizzbang laminating and binding machines, little thingies you put on your desk to put other thingies in. Bliss.

  12. I miss catalogues from Carroll Reed and LL Bean when they sold those Ragg sweaters that smelled when they got wet. All catalogues are hilarious in their own way.

  13. I’m with the Fredrick’s of Hollywood, as far as a catalogue; an old, long forgotten friend. Thanks! As a mash up, I would say Charles Dickens and Charles Bukowski — a more realistic neo-realism movement. But even more realistically, for a mash up I would go with onions, jalapenos, garlic, tomato, chipolte, cumin, paprika, a tiny bit of habanero chili powder and some slow cooked beef, 10 hours. That with some mango salsa. Mash it up and feel the peace. Good for you, and good for me. Oh, yes, home-made tortillas, lettuce, lemon juice and cilantro. Yummy. Fredrick’s and good, hearty food. MMM, MMM, MMM. Although, Dickens and Bukowski would be a some good entertainment.

  14. PS. Be honest. Are those catalogues part of your work? My god. I guess someone must do it, but somehow I didn’t picture someone like you, considering what I’ve read of you. I’m probably very naive, and probably more than thankfully so, from the sound of it. But really?

  15. Back in the day when life was full of yearning and fantasy and mom was at work, I’d skip over to my friend’s apartment on 8th Street. We’d spend the afternoon flipping through a thick FAO SHWARTZ catalog. No pen was needed. We’d simply take turns pointing, as if what we chose was suddenly placed in our check out basket. When we got to the last page, we’d start all over again.

    That magazine was perfect for me.

  16. Sounds like I need to check out RH. I couldn’t part with my Architectural Digest and a few select Better Homes and Gardens issues when we moved. I’m working toward a new look I call Traditional Minimalist.

  17. My catoporn is Garnet Hill, and still LL Bean though it makes me angry. Nothing else comes here anymore; I have been dropped!

  18. Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog.

    Damn weasel.

    • Sorry about your chickens, Jess …

    • No weasel in the trap? I wonder if some of those obnoxious, plastic owls would help deter them. The owls that like to frequent my roof top got something last night that growled and squealed. It certainly wasn’t a mouse or rabbit and we do have weasels around.

    • No weasel in the trap, despite the grossest of gross bait. Trust me, you don’t want to know what weasels like to eat most. Today I install two more traps in strategic locations.

      I have daily conversations with him/her (face to face sometimes; s/he is not afraid of me), and despite my admonitions and instruction, s/he does not seem to want to dine in my traps.

      • May be the location of the trap rather than the bait – put the trap in the hen house (obviously relocating your remaining, traumatized flock), pretend to love it and now the trap becomes The Forbidden.

        There’s a moral to this idea, but I won’t dwell.

      • The trap is not just in the henhouse, it’s the same dimensions as the door, so s/he has to go through the trap to get to said bait. Tonight’s bait? A live rooster safe and sound in a in a cat carrier.

        …and that’s life on a farm.

      • Coyotes got mine. It’s always gonna be something, but I admire your tenaciousness.

  19. I adored the old J. Peterman catalog, a few decades ago when they had the really cool stuff. I bought a couple of pieces of British hotel silver that came from a shipwreck. But my cat peed in the soup spoon and it tarnished.

  20. Rockler wood working catalog, Sweetwater and Musician’s Express fuel my fantasies these days. Pretty lame, I know, but every once in awhile I will glance at a Victoria’s Secrets catalog that has been left lying about. Hubba hubba!

  21. My favorite catalogue: Bas Bleu

    My second favorite: Stonewall Kitchen. I read it at night when I’m hungry and circle a slew of things to order. The next morningI I’m so relieved that I was too tired to go get my credit card.

    Third favorite: LL Bean I use their credit card for everything and the $10 coupons add up pretty fast so lots of free stuff.

  22. It ussed to be the Service Merchandise catalog. No question. I could pore over that one for days.

    Now, the only catalog I seem to get is Wolferman’s–and I have been known to spend some quality time with it, yes.

  23. Surgical supply catalogs are scary. I haven’t seen one in 50 yrs but I recall looking at all the scalpels, etc. and thinking they can’t use these, really. Weapons of horror. Also fun is Boston Scientific (I think that’s the name) that has more user friendly items. Williams Sonoma is fun too if you like to cook.

  24. This could cover both:

  25. Have you seen the FLOR catalog? The products themselves are only mildly interesting (carpet tiles) but the way they’re are staged…I want to live in every single one of those pages. I want THAT table, and THAT lamp. But they’re not selling those things, so it’s also a huge, huge tease. Which might be part of the attraction.

  26. Oh, and my husband (an engineer) likes the Levenger catalog. All that organization! All that order!

  27. Since my divorce from a raw-ther wealthy fellow, I no longer receive catalogues. It was like quitting alcohol, cold turkey. But I have realized how much people also love to READ descriptions of interiors. My thriller (why thank you for asking! MONDAY’S CHILD by Jody Carr) had a lengthy description of the apartment where the main character lived, and most of the readers’ comments to me were about that apartment and how it engendered lust.

    So, there ya go: my little writing tip for the day!

  28. Wayside Gardens even though I can’t and don’t garden (my plants tend to die a quick and painful death). I always want the ones that won’t grow in my area.

  29. Ah, the latest RH catalog! Since the Day Job is the Design Biz, that supplier is both a help and a nuisance. Accent pieces that my clients want but are one-of-a-kind finds; items that are sized too tall-wide-small (please select any!) for Client’s home, yet must be accommodated. And that new taupe/silver finish on their wood furniture is creating all kinds of havoc with my cabinetry shop!

    But my favorite rant is the the way books are abused for the sake of the photo: note the books all sporting blank paper covers – guess one recognizes their favorite Jane Austen by the thickness of the spine?; then, in other stagings, the covers are ripped from the books exposing the folded paper and stitching – is that to imply the owner of such a library is THAT voracious a reader? Now, bundles of books (minus covers) are bound in heavy twine – I’m guessing these are the banned books. gawd.

    OK, now I feel better. Back to designing a cabinet and learning if my play was accepted.

  30. The new RH catalog is something else…Gorgeous but who still lives in houses big enough for some of this stuff?

    Fave catalogs are Athleta, Title IX (woman owned sports clothing), Garnet Hill. Ripping out the page of things I want and never buying them is so much cheaper…

  31. wrongest mash up…the liger…google it if you haven’t seen a real one…the brother of my daughter’s good friend was eaten by one…

  32. This is a tiny bit on the subject since it’s about decorating. I’ve become slightly obsessed with the TV show House Hunters. I keep watching even though it depresses me. The potential buyers keep dissing my stuff. They’d all have my not stainless appliances, my not ceramic tiled kitchen and bathrooms, my not hardwood floors, my not open floor plan in the dumpster in a hot second. I hate them, but I love the show.

    • Ah, people always say crap when they’re buying. I just sold a property and the woman who bought it was bit disdainful about some things. She may have been Cinderella but I was the Little Pig who went Wee! Wee! Wee! all the way to the bank.

  33. I am way way lame. Frontgate. Crate & Barrel. L.L.Bean — my fantasy is to buy one of every thing in every color. And, going a completely different direction, the Heifer Project Catalog. I love the animals and the kids and the thought that I can be a part of bringing them together and making a real difference. The kid with the goat on the current cover makes me coo. So I got a kid a goat.

  34. I stay away from most of those catalogs because all that stuff I can’t afford and don’t have the kind of lifestyle for in the first place tends to make me feel bad about the choices I’ve made in life — most of them on the nonremunerative side. And the thing is, I like my life and I’m down with my choices, so looking at overpriced pretty shit that I can’t have isn’t a very constructive activity for me. It’s like taunting a dog with a piece of bacon held out of its reach… why do that? So I like to look at things I can actively contemplate having and using, which ends up being seed catalogs — I envision my garden all abloom with heirloom tomatoes, ten different kinds of frilly, colorful greens, a rainbow of hot peppers, tiny deep purple eggplants. Reality is more like the raccoons and birds feasting on everything, and my big orange cat thanking me daily because those 4’x4′ raised beds make the nicest al fresco litterboxes in the world, but that’s OK. Seed packets are $3.95. It’s better than playing Lotto.

    Not a paper catalog, but I also like Etsy. Where else can you get something weird and unique for $20 and support an artist or thrifter at the same time? I will gladly thrown an Andrew Jackson into the void once in a while to feel like a patron of the arts, and to find a mystery box on my porch when I get home from work.

    Good mashup = potatoes with garlic and cream gravy.

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