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C U R R E N T O B S E S S I O N S
YOU AIN'T BEEN BLUE...
We were very sad this week to learn of the passing of Diane Petipas,
esteemed MCM dealer and proprietress of the legendary Mood Indigo in NYC.
Diane had a huge influence on the Modfather, who always enjoyed chatting
with her at shows. Way ahead of her time, she was unexpectedly friendly,
helpful and down-to-earth. We'll be pulling down a nice vintage cocktail
shaker and raising a toast to this truly Grand Dame later this evening.
BOTTOMS UP IN BIG D
The Dallas Museum of Art, always extremely supportive of MCM, is taking a
tip from the Modfather's home-away-from-home (and cocktail capitol of the
world) New Orleans, and featuring a
barware exhibition starting in November 2016.
Prepare to be aesthetically shaken and stirred.
EASIER SAID THAN SPELLED
Once again, Dallas' own Heritage Auctions scored a major MCM coup with
May auction of treasures from the personal collection
of much-beloved designer Viktor Schreckengost (1906-2008).
Before the auction, Heritage hosted a preview, complete with an
informative lecture by Dr. Marianne Berardi, Senior Fine Arts Expert at
Heritage. Around the same time, a
Modfather fanboy politely informed us that Viktor's last name was
unfortunately misspelled in all of our for-sale listings, yowch.
The Modfather is quite embarrassed by this gaffe, and promises to
be more careful. On the other hand,
what's in a name, really? If we're talking about Viktor, a train
wreck of consonants, if you ask the Modfather.
7 Park Avenue, New York City, May 1943
O L D E R P O S T S
PAGING BOB: WHY REPLACEMENTS LTD SUCKS
Why does the Modfather hate Replacements Ltd? For starters, many of the
North Carolinian ding-dongs that work there couldn't tell the difference
between a soup spoon and a coal shovel to save their lives. Plus, when
you inevitably are forced to call, the customer service folks sound just
like my grandmother, whose Rocky Mount accent was so thick, you could plow
tobacco fields with it. (Yes, the Modfather is most familiar with
horrible North Carolina.)
We've made a handful of purchases from RL
over the years, especially before they became more savvy regarding Russel
Wright lines in general. The Modfather even made a visit to RL about 13
years ago, back when one could roam the warehouse and peruse the stock
in-person (especially important given all the mistakes in their
database). We did our homework beforehand; during that visit, we cleaned
them out of stem-less Imperial Twist glasses (aka Imperial Flame), long
before they realized these glasses had nothing to do with the stemmed
line, and were much more valuable.
But RL's stupidity is a
double-edged sword if you can't ratify their stated offerings onsite.
People complain about their high prices, but even today, you can find
bargains on their website...if the web listings are accurate, that is.
And frequently, they are not. One could argue that it would be
impossible for RL to maintain accurate records for every piece in every
line, given the scope of their inventory. To that, the Modfather says, Oh
Please, and Bullshit: Given the explosion of information readily available
in collector books and on the web, this abject sloppiness is inexcusable.
But it might be tolerable if their customer service met even a minimum
standard; to use their own, hog-slop vernacular, it don't.
you call and ask questions about a particular piece, they say it will take
a week (!) to get something pulled and delivered to their desks for
further review/inspection. The Modfather just got an answer yesterday
(3/1/14) to a question originally posed on 2/11, and only because we
called in and started raising hell; 18 days later, they told me the piece
was actually not the piece listed on the website, no surprise. This kind
of delay and subsequent tailspin has happened with us *at least* four or
five times. We know we are not alone.
(We can't comment on the
experience of *selling* to RL, other than to give kudos to RL founder Bob
Page for successfully rounding up a mighty hoard of wares for less than
pennies on the dollar. Apparently those pennies go a long way for the
hillbilly, and presumably toothless, rubes in North Carolina...but the
extra money they would have earned selling on ebay instead would've paid
for a lot of dental work...)
The Modfather gives up, and it's a shame; Page's story is a compelling
one. We apparently have a few things in common with Mr. Page (wink
wink), but somewhere along the way, this Dish Dynasty lost its appetite
for customer service. It's still hungry alright, but only for cash.
2012 MODFATHER DESIGN AWARD
....goes to Ricardo Espino for his wonderful white onyx cheese board; you
can see the one the Modfather got for Christmas directly below, and/or buy
here.....BTW, you can see last year's winner
THE MODFATHER SINGS!
Andy Williams (R.I.P.). Here's the
singing alternate lyrics to that Andy Williams classic, "It's the Most
Wonderful Time of the Year.
Don't miss these
great local DFW MCM bloggers:
(Dallas) and Dana
Perez (Fort Worth).
CURVY, BALLSY: R.I.P. EVA ZEISEL, 1906-2011
The great Eva Zeisel passed away on December 30th,
she was 105 years old. The Modfather sends his sincere condolences to her
daughter Jean Richards, and Zeisel enthusiasts everywhere.
Read more here...
Why are we so damn queer for 60s-era "Polynesian Pop" artifacts and
locales? It's definitely not the syrupy rum drinks, blech (forget the
Mai-Tai, just give the Modfather a cold beer thank you). We can't riff on
the nation's mid-century fixation with all things South Pacific any better
than Sven Kirsten, who masterfully encapsulated the campy movement in his
landmark 2001 Book of Tiki.
From there, we'd recommend a visit to
Tiki Central, where you can get the low down on Tiki
palaces still standing, and those long gone. There weren't too many here
in Dallas, unfortunately. We did have a Trader Vic's (which made a
short-lived comeback in recent years), and Stephen Crane's Ports O' Call,
nestled on top of a skyscraper downtown. Then over in Ft. Worth you had
Ren Clark's Polynesian Village, notable for their infamous (and highly
desirable) "severed head" tiki mug. Most of the actual vintage tiki mugs
you find these days are relatively worthless Japanese imports. But the
tiki-themed wares made in America are hot, and we are always on the
lookout for them, especially as we continue to beef up our restaurant ware
offerings in general. Here's a cool
matchbook cover pic from the old Trade Winds in nearby Tulsa.
The neat thing about this place was their use of Frankoma pottery,
including what is perhaps the
most valuable vintage Tiki mug of them all.
DISSED LIST NOT TO BE
The Modfather is alternatively saddened and
satisfied that the notoriously censored AOL Russel Wright e-mail discussion group is finally
dead. Founded by Manitoga booster Dennis Mykytyn back in the mid-90s, the
core members of this rag-tag bunch routinely came up with extraordinary
findings, including many corrections to erroneous info found in the
collector books. Unfortunately, there were some pathetically sensitive
souls unable to withstand any perceived slight or negativity, which led to
draconian post rejections (mostly bon mots from the Modfather). As you
might expect, the lively discussion soon dried up and died.
Just about a year ago, Bauer of
California launched a
reissue of some American Modern shapes; collectors were enthusiastic,
but leery after the Oneida fiasco a few years ago. Like Oneida, Bauer felt
compelled to include a
bastard coffee mug, which is no doubt the harbinger
of reissue line failure. The most obvious problem? Original vintage AM
pieces are actually cheaper than their new Bauer counterparts, ouch. But
the new pieces are much more durable, right? According to Bauer's
own FAQ, this new pottery achieves its bright color by being low-fired,
"which means that it has a greater tendency to chip," double ouch. Last
month, Bauer announced the production of the pitcher and tumblers in
"traditional Bauer colors" (including
traffic cone orange, apparently)
RW devotee Gary Maurer and his
lovely wife Laura have finally published their long-promised text on
Wright's tablecloth work. The Modfather *did* finally get that promotional
copy, and it's beautiful; you can get yours
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMAN
Here's a nifty
belated Xmas card created by you-know-who. Given the message, it must date
back to 1955, the year of the I.C.A. overseas assignment:
THE WAY WE WERE (FOR REAL)
pains him, but the Modfather highly recommends
by one-time Modfather nemesis (and queeny old airbag) Sandy McLendon,
writer/editor for the online mag jetsetmodern.com. In it, McLendon
provides a somewhat sober reminder of what MCM meant to most people during
the 1950s and 60s. No wonder we can never find what we're looking for at
One thing's for sure:
If Russel's life ever gets the Hollywood treatment, the Oscar-bait role
will go to the lucky actress playing Mary Wright, savvy co-conspirator,
aristocratic but edgy muse, presumably long-suffering wife, and young
cancer victim. When I started collecting RW, I didn't understand the
fervor of the NYC cognoscenti for Mary. Then in 2002, the most intriguing
component of the RW retrospective at the Cooper-Hewitt was a bizarro yet
mesmerizing home movie clip of Mary, who was, as I wrote in 2002, "vogueing
and sashaying around their NY apartment." The exhibit's accompanying book
(see my Why RW? page for details) featured a chapter entitled "Marketing
Easier Living," by Robert Schonfeld; for anyone who endeavors to
understand Wright's life and work, it is a must read. The tale Schonfeld
spins delineates the impact of Mary's talent, intelligence, support, charm
and self-sacrifice on Wright's career, and it is nothing short of
astonishing. I am holding a Bauer Country Gardens creamer I found today
as I write this; it is simple, elegant and quite "natural," as she
intended. So Hail Mary; without her, we might not have anything to talk
about on this website today
TV SHOW & TELL TRAGEDY
I wouldn't post forwarded video clips, but this one really got to me. I
often daydream that someday I'll be the star attraction on Antiques
Roadshow, but lord, please don't let it all go down like
this (click to download)