My friend David just got back from a trip to Brazil. Over lunch the other day, he told me about the amazing graffiti to be found there. He said: "...all beautiful Brazilian boys have braces, and back tattoos." 

Whoops! I digress. 

Here, an example of the graffiti particular only to São Paulo, called pixacão. It strongly reminds me of one of the earliest known examples of mankind's writing style, called cuneiform. Funny, how things become démodé and then, all of a sudden, very of the moment! Mesopotamian scribes used cuneiform to recorded daily events, trade, astronomy, and literature using a reed pen to impress characters on a clay tablet. Examples date back as far as 3,500 B.C! Who would of thought of back tattoos and brazes as sexy, until David's breathless description and photo documentation?


Remember, back in the day -- say, 1990? Dolce and Gabban-o-tards had zero street cred. A sicko beat, some airbrush jeans, maybe a freestyle Cabbage Patch was all you need to look Dope. Now getdafunkouttahere, Fashionista. There's dog turd on your Jimmy Choos.

zSHARE - 06 funk boutique 12 remix.mp3


Brideshead sure does get chilly in winter, (brrr!). And a tapestry is a great way to blot out creeping drafts. So, the next time I'm kickin' it in Paris, instead of blowing all my milk money at some louche bar on the Rive Gauche, I'm gonna creep over to the XIIIe arrondissement and have this crazy snap -- taken off the TV screen, obviously -- woven as a tapestry at Manufacture des Gobelins. Since the 15th century, Gobelins has been the premier weavers of massive depictions of stylish and bloody battle scenes, la chasse, etc. So the concept makes perfect sense. Well... it does to me, anyway.

La Bataille de Zama by Jules Romain, 1688


Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia with Dr Chalmers Mitchell. 1924

The Nigerian Chiefs watching the Lord Mayor of London
arrive for the election of Sheriffs at the Guildhall. 1934

Burma Round Table Conference at St James Palace.
The Sawbwa of Hsipaw and his wife. 1932

Official reception at the India Office by the secretary of state for India Sir Samuel Hoare
and Lady Maude Hoare; Princess Indira and Sir P. Pattana. 1933

Dakoman, the masked safe breaker and his manager, Mr Mortimer.

St James Palace Garden Party in aid of the League of Mercy.
Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, and Lady Alexander. 1920

Tibetan lamas , appearing with the Mount Everest Film at the Scale. 1925

Diana and Daphne Chamberlain twins, with "Messa Mascot" and "Messa Marksman". 1934

Bobby and Teddy, sons of Mr Joseph Kennedy, the American Ambassador. 1938

Bully (mascot of the Royal Flying Corps). 1917

Funeral of Miss Marie Lloyd, Music Hall star - her parents. 1922

Oops! Obamas Overlooked:

The First Family's forty four works of art, borrowed from several Washington Museums to spiff up The White House, run the gamut from humorous and self-reflective -- Ed Rusha's "I Think I'll...", to pedantic -- Edgar Degas "The Bow" (yawn!); from rather nerdy -- "The Electric Telegraph patent model, May 1, 1849" by Samuel F.B. Morse, to perhaps inspirational but definitely Depressing -- "Portrait of President Harry S. Truman" by Frank O. Salisbury. 

Please, don't get me wrong. The Obama's made some great picks. 

Especially considering George W's juvenalia, which preceded: generic paintings of cowboys and Indians, and war loot from the capture of Saddaam Hussein. Nonetheless, art critics whine: Not enough women arists! Not enough black artists! So, I thought it a fun exercise to make a few suggestions for the re-decoration of The Oval Office -- the old, the new, and the in-between, each inherently American. And so here they are:

Wildfire Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. 1843-1911) studied sculpture in Paris and was of African and Native American descent. Her "Portrait of a Woman" would make a fantastic mate to Kehinde Wiley's  homage to Bernini called "Louis XVI, The Sun King". Arrange them on the mantlepiece, Michelle!

William "Bill" Traylor (ca. 1854-1949), born into slavery in Alabama, was a prolific artist whose exuberant "Untitled" dancing woman prefigures, by nearly a century, Jean-Paul Goude's genuis, pre-Photoshop-era collage portrait of Grace JonesCall for a step ladder, a hammer and nails, Mr. President!

"Piece" Prize goes to: Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen

Any old fool knows that a "piece" is street vernacular for a gun. But "piece" is also a louche term for a prime sexual encounter, as in: "I got me a piece at lunchtime."

Therefore it makes a lot of sense, to me anyway, that devastatingly handsome Norwegian explorer, scientist and diplomat Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (1861 - 1930) was awarded the Nobel Piece Prize in 1922.


Concerning Libian loony Muammar al-Gaddafi, all I have to say is that the peacock president packs one helluva suitcase! And seems to have chosen three style icons for his New York holiday: Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem in Coming To America; Michael Jackson, and Don Johnson. Back in the nineteen sixties, al-Gaddafi was quite dashing and he really ought to have stuck with authoritative olive drabs à la Che Guevara. Don't get me wrong, I dig masses of gold chains as much as the next guy, and I'd trade my kingdom for his pavé diamond elephant diadem (below). But someone really ought to do al-Gaddafi a favor and tell him to lose the bullion fringed epaulets, and the ill-fitting blazers.


(or The Bodleian Oath*) 
or The New York Times Turgid 
Here's the Accompanying Photograph!

Saturday's Times ran an illustration of flop house resident, gravely ill Bernhardt Wichmann III, 76, laying on a single bed in a dingy room no larger than a closet. To accompany an Upstairs, Downstairs-style study in contrast between purveyor of preppy pub food J.G. Melon, and said shabby single-room occupancy hotel above it. But is this the stuff of a self-styled melancholy style blog? 


Because Wichman's over-the-top floor-to-ceiling collage -- compulsive embellishment to create fantastical variance with grim objective reality -- got me thinkin' bout sixties-era British playwright Joe Orton, and the similar décor of his inner-city London council flat. A "garden of earthy delights" created from hundreds of mutilated library books. Which, true to form, resulted in Orton and lover Kenneth Halliwell being sentenced to Hell, six months imprisonment. 

The couple's guerrilla tactical art included altering, and then returning, library books.  Evidence that Orton honed his satirical skills with scissors, in order to skewer the genteel middle classes, authority and defenders of ‘morality’, several years before the wild successes of the playwright's Entertaining Mr. Sloane, etc 

"Libraries might as well not exist; they’ve got endless shelves for rubbish and hardly any space for good books." Orton wrote in 1967Thanks for reminding us, Joe, that not so long ago, before the Information Age's embarrassment of riches, nourishing a hungry mind could be tough going.

*The Bodleian Oath is, of course, Oxford University Library's "I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; nor to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”


I encountered this well dressed creature at a rally on the steps at City HallDoesn't she look like an efficient line drawing? Nothing is superfluous about her, despite prominence of stature, masses of flame-colored hair, and a very Plantagenet-looking forehead and nose. In fact, her resemblance to Margaret Pole, (née Plantagenet) 8th Countess of Salisbury is uncanny. The countess, by the way, was the last legitimate member of the Plantagenet dynasty, (1473-1541) niece of King Edward IV and King Richard III and was executed on the chopping block at command of her cousin King Henry VIII. 


Our Lady of the City Hall Steps works for an important housing non-profit, and will no doubt contribute a more spiritually uplifting legacy than the aforementioned, and unfortunate, Countess.


Sartorially speaking, Taliban toe terrific towel, eh? Although the late Baitullah Mehsud, (1974 – August 2009) was unquestionably a naughty, naughty man let's put politics aside to review dastardly, yet dazzling, desert chic. I'm seriously considering a Baitullah Mehsud-inspired look for Fall 2009. Flak jackets, huge scarves, wild curls arranged in a center-part. Not so keen on the apple-pie hats, though.

Above right, Meshud in contrapposto, channeling Veruschka
as photographed in the Sahara by Avedon.

Some say that Meshud didn't like to be photographed.
I don't believe that for one second.