Live better

Posts from the “The Zeitgeist” Category

3 syllables. And a cure for what ails Big Retail.

Posted on January 23, 2017

Scha.Den.Freude. OK, that wasn’t actually my first feeling when I heard that The Limited would be shutting its stores effective immediately. Rather, my first feeling was that of nostalgia, maybe even sadness. After all, like so many women my age, my first job was at The Limited, and the source of so many key life skills I use to this day. The invaluable life skill of selling and servicing, how to deal with low lifes, a little bit about design and styling, and of course, how to steam clothes without burning yourself. But then, the schadenfreude kicked in. Good riddance, I thought, to The Limited and all those chains (Macy’s, Ann Taylor, Gap. Abercrombie, American Eagle Outfitters, BCBG, Wet Seal, Bebe, Hot Topic, and more weekly) with their same uninspired approach to…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…


Posted on February 23, 2015

Secrets. They’re not supposed to exist, are they? We’re supposed to tell it all, share it all, let it all hang out, preferably online. Mental health types talk about the corrosive effects of secrets.  We barely tolerate the notion that some state secrets should remain that way.  And TMZ’s created a $100 million empire on spilling celebrity secrets that readers lap up then lean back to savor, purse their lips, feeling smug that no secret should be safe from the public. As goes the broader culture goes the material, consuming world. “Authenticism” is the thing where every live edge table or industrial makes clear its material roots. Function is form and form is function (and nothing else.) Radical transparency is the by-word of companies like Everlane. And we’ve come to…

AltLuxe eating

Posted on October 16, 2014

I live in the Bay Area, where we’re known for our restaurants, our food “scene”. Every week, some chef who cut his teeth at Chez Panisse, Coi, Aqua, etc. bounds onto the scene with another “hot” restaurant announcement. The produce – the cow, the hog, the chicken, the beet – is sourced (usually from within 100 miles of the Bay Area.) The name designer is hired. Publicists go to work. Lines form. People are grateful to be having dinner at 5:30. The cookbook is written. The chef appears on Top Chef, and opens another restaurant, perhaps in Vegas. Or Miami. I love eating. I love going out to restaurants. I love tasting new foods, styles, and being served in beautiful, interesting places. Going out to…

The luxury of time

Posted on April 12, 2014

There’s one thing that keeps coming up in conversations about luxury, and it has nothing to do with stuff and things and sensuality. It doesn’t even cost money, not in the absolute, so it seems to feel less status-y, more wholesome. That “thing” of course, is time. The luxury of doing nothing. The luxury of hanging out with friends. The luxury of focus. The luxury of time to do nothing. The luxury of an afternoon thats unplanned and unstructured, where you go with the flow of desire or instinct. (Sounds great to me.) When we’re running about working, projecting, parenting, investing in our relationships/our bodies/our sanity, of course time feels like a luxury. Of course time feels precious and rare. But is time inherently a…


Posted on March 30, 2014

Came across this article, “Behold a Four-Day Design Miracle in Noe Valley” (San Francisco) in the local lifestyle mag, 7x7SF. The piece chronicles a – yes – four day furnishing of a house in an increasingly swanky part of San Francisco (beloved of the newly minted Technorati Wealthy). And it reminded me of all that AltLuxe is NOT.   According to the article, the owners, after some fits and starts, got sick of the process of decorating their home. They were leaving town for four days, and they hired designer Ian Stallings to complete the project in that time. He interviewed them to find out what they liked and cared about, and then executed beautifully, right down to a fully-outfitted cabinet of curiosities. There are quirky…

Living Well: luxuriating in “Idleness”

Posted on February 1, 2014

In my (e)mailbox there are always those items I don’t need to open, but which I always do, even if I’m running late, up against a deadline, or have promised myself I’ll focus focus focus on something. It used to be the “See what’s new for you today” type emails from various e-tailers, but these days, it seems to have narrowed down to just a few: The Browser, Totokaelo, The Line, and The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment. The Idler newsletter, with that Hogarthian illustrated header,  wonky typewriter font, convivial tone, and charming frequent typos,  is an instant antidote to the “designed” crap I see so much of. It’s the anti-Twitter: no to groovy flat design, cheery infographics; yes to full sentences and…