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Last week a fantastic Gordon Park’s exhibit opened in Rome. Titled, Una Storia Americana (an American History), this is one of the largest retrospectives of his work.

Gordon Parks was a true renaissance man.  He was a self-taught photographer, musician, writer, film director, and poet.

Parks was also quite popular with the ladies. When he was sixty he met a young aspiring writer named Candace Bushell, who had recently moved to New York City.  She moved in.  She was eighteen.

He became the first African-American to direct a major Hollywood movie and was the first African-American photographer hired by LIFE and VOGUE magazines.  His range of subjects, along his talent, made Parks one of the most important American photographers of the 20th century.  Many of his images are iconic and will be for years.

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My sister, Daniella, is ten years younger than me and six years younger than our brother, Gerry.   We were old enough to remember the day our parents walked into the house with a new baby.  She had fine pair of lungs.

Later that night, my ten year-old self was annoyed.  Sure Daniella was an adorable baby and everything but hello, I had school in the morning.  I couldn’t sleep with all that noise.  I may have said something to my mom who gave me the classic Caribbean mother “you better stop with your nonsense” face.  I stopped.

I was in high school when Daniella started kindergarten.  Laning Avenue Elementary School had a Santa’s Workshop where kids could buy Christmas gift for their family and friends.

Gerry and I would take our gifts from under the tree, unwrap them and say loudly, “ornament, ornament, ornament!” as every year from kindergarten to fifth grade that is what Daniella gave us.  My parents still have those ornaments.

I think it started with Gerry, who said, “oh look, it’s another ornament. Ornament, ornament, ornament!” I have no idea why we found this hysterically funny.

Years later during the first Christmas day we spent with my future sister-in-law and brother-in-law, I busted out with the ornament thing (it really was an ornament) and my siblings and I lost it.  My in-laws to be glanced at each other, “what’s wrong with these folks?”

I don’t have room in my apartment for even a Charlie Brown tree, but I could buy an ornament or two.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Reindeer!  Love the scarves. Very snazzy.

jumping-jack-reindeer-ornaments-1Crate & Barrel

A classic bullicante glass ball ornament from Tiffany & Co for those with more champagne tastes.

Tiffany & CoTiffany & Co.

I don’t like mice at all but how charming are these ballerinas at Dédé Maison, one of my favorite stores in Rome.

dedeornamentDéDé Maison: Photos by me

Great matte finish on this silver ornament.

28ct-matte-fish-silver-glass-ball-christmas-ornaments-2-50mm-Linen n Things

Here are more mice with exceptional artistic abilities.

dedeDéDé Maison

This week, LONNY wrote about the new J.K. Place Hotel.   Believe the hype.   It’s gorgeous.

Months ago, one of my vendors told me I had to see the chartreuse DEDAR fabric architect/interior designer Michele Bonan used in the cafe. I finally had a chance to see it when my friend Erica and I went to meet a colleague of hers and his wife who were staying at the hotel.

I told Erica we must add J.K. to our list.  We are very hard on places when it comes to cocktails. It’s not enough to have an excellent bartender, the décor must be on point.

Erica’s colleague showed us their room.  I almost cried when I saw the bathroom.   This one is a little larger.  Look at that shower.  The floors.  The marble.  Sigh.

This bathroom. No words.

This bathroom. No words.

Bonan is one of my favorite designers and what he did with the space is stunning.   The building used to be the architecture school for La Sapienza (the largest university in Rome).

My kind of bar.

My kind of bar.

Inspired by Tom Ford’s film, A SINGLE MAN, the atmosphere is what folks back in the States call “grown and sexy.”

It’s a very unique space in Rome and I think the bar/lobby will appeal to people who are, well, grown and sexy.  I don’t see Flip-Flop Girlshanging out here.  Grazie dio!

I could spend hours in the library.

The library.

The library.

For more pictures of J.K. Place Roma, you can click on their gallery HERE.

Photos: J.K. Place Roma

I do not like having my photo taken.  Correction, I’m game when I’m in a group shot.

It’s not just because the camera adds ten to fifteen pounds.  It’s because I feel like a big dork standing there while the photographer snaps.

Thanks to social media, I had to get over my discomfort.  That said, I still get salty when unflattering photos are tagged on Facebook.  What the what?  Does the tagger need new glasses?  Good friends don’t let folks tag bad photos.

Gina wanted to take a few head shots during our terrace photo shoot.  I was sweaty and wiped out. So even though Gina is a talented photographer I thought, “no good can come of this.”

She convinced me to at least try a few.   I did and this is what happened:

terrace_062I  did a brief interview with Gina and she has posted more photos from the shoot on her blog.

To see more of Gina’s gorgeous work, please visit her website here.

Last Sunday, my friends Erica and Darius decided to take advantage of the great weather and organized a quick walk through EUR.

I still have problems pronouncing the area’s name correctly.  The second time I visited Rome, a friend from L.A. was in town.  She asked her lover (they met the year before) if he could show us around EUR.

L.A. Friend:  Marco, can you drive us to E.U.R.?  (spelling it out in English)

Marco: Dove? (Where?)

LAF: E.U.R.

Marco:  Non capisco.

LAF:  Big buildings, Mussolini.

Marco:  Oh, AY-oor.  Certo. 

That was a fun afternoon as my friend spoke no Italian and Marco spoke several languages but none of them were English.  However, they spoke the universal language of love lust, so it was all good.

On Sunday, I met up with the rest of the Twitter folks (aka Tweeps).  One of Darius and Erica’s friends was born in the area and still lives there.  He knows the area well and it was fascinating to hear his point of view.

If you have any interest in architecture or 20th century Roman history, EUR is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very unique neighborhood.

Here are a few snapshots from Sunday.

Darius jumps.  He landed safely.

Darius jumps. He landed safely.

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro - aka "The Square Colosseum".

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro – aka “The Square Colosseum.”

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A relief of Italian history.  Notice the large Mussolini at the bottom.

A relief of Italian history. Interesting portrait of Mussolini. What is he doing?  (center – bottom)

It's JFK.

It’s JFK.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City designed by McKim, Mead & White.  The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Bath of Caracalla.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Baths of Caracalla and other buildings from ancient Rome.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini.  There's outside seating.  Perfect during a warm evening.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini. There’s outside seating. Perfect during a warm evening.

Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet.

A Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet. Those days are over.

I’m still not used to the rientro effect, even after five summers here.  It’s as if a giant light switch was turned on and BAM, the locals have returned.

There is traffic again on Lungotevere and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  The woman who owns my local newsstand is very tan, relaxed, and tells us all about her vacation.

I’m excited that my butcher and my favorite baker at the Trionfale farmers’ market are back.  I’ve missed them.

There’s an electric energy in the air despite the fact that our government could collapse (again) at any moment.

Suddenly, my phone is ringing off the hook with vendors letting me know when furniture will be delivered, appointments to see clients, and friends wanting to meet up for post-rientro aperitivi.

I’m glad the rientro has begun.

All over my neighborhood are signs like this:

siamoferieBefore I was on Hollywood’s schedule, so August was a busy time for me.  While all my friends and neighbors fled the August heat and tourists, I stayed behind in Rome writing and pitching TV projects.

Now I’m on a local schedule and it’s a trip.   Last week I was running around town making sure to touch base with my vendors before they closed up shop for the month.

There will be NO furniture deliveries in August.

September will be out of control.  Everything is being pushed to that month.

In the meantime, I’m going to use this period to catch up on office paperwork. I also need to find more space in my tiny apartment for all the new books I have.  I’m literally running out of room.

One friend (who just left town for the rest of the month) suggested I see a few movies.  Then we started laughing because most of the movie theaters are closed too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sebastião Salgado is one of my favorite photographers.

His show, GENESIS, is at the Ara Pacis until  September 15th.

page_su_salgado_genesis_09_1304111900_id_617883Photo: Taschen

It’s a large exhibit filled with staggering beauty. At times I was overwhelmed.  There was a lot to take in.

Salgado spent eight years traveling to thirty-two different locations to photograph people, places, and animals that have had little or no exposure to modern society.   It’s about how they relate to the earth.

I will be thinking about this exhibit for a long time.

Buon weekend!

 

 

Ostia Antica, the ancient port city founded in 620 BC, is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

So when I heard that Save Rome and Moscerina were organizing an Instagram meet up, I signed up right away.

It was fantastic.  We were very lucky to have archeologist Dr. Arya show us the sights.   If you have any interest in Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is a must see.

Here are a few of my snapshots.

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