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Brooklyn Gal

Dreaming in French

The other night we decided to watch Public Speaking, Martin Scorcese’s HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz, a brash, brainy New York writer renowned for her razor-sharp wit. One of the highlights of the movie for the Brooklyn Gal: the video clip of Serge Gainsbourg singing New York USA that Scorcese used to illustrate some pivotal point about Leibowitz’s life in the big city.

Like many of the late, great French showman’s tunes this melodic homage to Manhattan is schmaltzy, theatrical and classy, all at once – in other words, oui, it’s vintage Gainsbourg.

And it brought to mind director/artist Joann Sfar’s film Gainsbourg Je t’aime…moi non plus, which we were lucky enough to catch at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. Funny, we thought that this quirky love letter to Gainsbourg, based on Sfar’s graphic novel, would be a cult hit or that it would at least gain traction over time, but after making a splash at the festival it seemed to disappear into the filmic ether. Will it ever have a proper theatrical release in the states (or did we miss it?!)

Perhaps Americans are just not all that interested in Gainsbourg and his wild exploits.

But the Brooklyn Gal also had the chance to see the amazing Gainsbourg multimedia exhibit in 2008 at the Museé de Musique in Paris and we truly believe that this Gallic pop star was a genius, a man of many genres, who was way, way ahead of his time. And while he remains an icon in France 20 years after his death, he somehow never attained that kind of notoriety here. We’d even gamble to say that many people have absolutely no clue about Serge.

Maybe it’s time for a Gainsbourg musical on Broadway or a biography on the History channel. Or maybe his super-stylish musician-actor daughter Charlotte can do her take on her father’s songbooks.

In other words, we think the time is right for a Serge resurgence.


Feels Like Old Times

Gibson gal of yore

Years ago, in the 1990s, when you bought something vintage, be it clothing or jewelry, it was usually an item that was decades old and if not valuable, at least terribly unique or kooky or maybe even collectible. Nowadays, sad to say, it seems that anything more than five seasons old is called vintage. We here at the Brooklyn Gal think that’s a crying shame.

The thing is, we’ve always been attracted to vintage, in the truest sense of the word. We’d like to think it has something to do with our past lives. Perhaps we were Gibson Girls who turned heads with our poufy pompadours or fabulous flappers who danced our way through the roaring ’20s or Bohemians who rubbed elbows with famous artists and writers during the heyday of the Bloomsbury Group. Whoever we were, we hope that we were über-stylish and that we had the good sense to hold onto our favorite things for posterity.

We thought of all of these things just the other day when we wandered into Pippin Vintage Jewelry in Chelsea. As we browsed through this treasure trove literally stuffed with dazzling finds, we realized that we’ve not only become jaded by new-school “vintage” – we’ve also become accustomed to high-end vintage jewelry that costs an arm and a leg (which we have been lucky enough to receive as gifts from favorite haunts like Aaron Faber and Doyle & Doyle).

A favorite from our jewelry box

But Pippin was something different. While there were plenty of items, like marvelous cameos, that rightfully cost a mint, there were also tons of incredible pendants, strands of pearls and funky clip-on earrings of the costume jewelry variety from countless eras past. And, hello, these pieces were totally affordable, like 25 or 35 bucks. If we wanted, say, a funky necklace from the 1950s with tons of character or a cloisonné bracelet watch to take a simple black dress up a notch, we need look no further.

Pippin was, without a doubt, a revelation. It made us believe in power of vintage – as in real vintage – all over again. We can’t wait to go back again!


Bitchin’ Kitchen

Pot Luck!

Just the other day the Brooklyn Gal hauled butt to Williamsburg to check out a few cool kitchen shops. Or, rather, our foodie pal Jo, aka Plumandradish, a former Brooklynite visiting from the Windy City, hauled both of our butts to Billyburg, in her cute little Mini Cooper.

It was a cold day, and the streets felt rather bleak and looked kinda monotone (er, gray), but our afternoon immediately brightened upon entering The Brooklyn Kitchen, a vast industrial-ish space set in the shadows of the Williamsburg Bridge and packed with all sorts of primo comestibles, bakeware, cookware, barware, and sundry other goodies.

We loved perusing the local and artisanal chocolates (we especially heart Mast Brothers‘ tempting bars wrapped in delightful, suitable-for-framing paper) and the lovely larder must-haves like Baldwin Extracts’ pricey vanilla, concocted with aged bourbon and perfect for that winter bake-off. And items like Pommaireware’s cute-as-a-button clay pig-faced cookie jars handmade in Chile and old-fashioned  Haeger Stoneware pie plates made us desirous of a humongous country kitchen, far, far away from King’s County.

We may consider ourselves pescatarian, but we confess: even the butcher counter, run by The Meat Hook and well-stocked with prime cuts of beef, charcuterie, gourmet sausage and the like, seemed sort of, well, enticing.

Who knows, maybe one day we’ll cross that bridge, too. Just don’t expect us to work up an appetite for pig head or (gasp!) head cheese.


Oh, Woe is our Closet

Yup, it’s the heart of winter, that grim time of year with no holiday on the horizon. It’s that moment in time when we here at the Brooklyn Gal sometimes come down with a case of the wardrobe doldrums. Another black and gray outfit? Must we?

Making the task of getting dressed even more challenging: a hodgepodge of items that we once could not live without and now have difficulty parting with, all hogging room in a sliver-sized space.

The dilemma? How, pray tell, does one just toss a bottle green Gary Graham dress into the giveaway pile? Once a slim column of sleek chic, said jersey dress is now a tie-dyed mess thanks to a handwashing mishap (the label said dryclean only – we thought we knew better). And what of that Aoyama Itchome silk dress with gold studs that we were so, so happy to snatch up for a song last winter at Callalilai on Atlantic Avenue? It was just the cutest thing on the hangar but once we got it home, poof! it instantly lost its magical appeal.

The solution of course? Push these distracting items to the very back of our closet and start cruising the sale racks. Even better perhaps: start dreaming about spring.