ideas in the air
Merkabah means chariot. Any wheeled, winged thing like a car, throne, spinning geometric temple or basic-bio human body, it’s what takes us place to place. That little ringed thingy image above is a mystical merkabah fresco found in the St. John the Baptist Church in Macedonia. Anything can be a merkabah. In particular this month, ideas, scents and breathtaking projects spinning in the air like an 8-ring circus are my merkabahs. I even had this ecstatic mystical dream this month. (well maybe it was more like a music video than a mystical vision received on a hill…)
I dreampt I was on a bright green hill under a wide blue sky. A pink blossomed cherry tree in full bloom. I looked up to see my black cat flying, trailing ribbons of pink blossoms…She was making concentric circles like the trail of planes, I said these are flower ribbons in the sky for my dreams…I saw fractions noted in the trails,1/4, 7/8…I danced under her notes on where I was in the cycle of in each dream as we drew it across the skydream. The concentric circles spun and spun like a time-lapsed hula hoop.
This summer, amazing projects in partnership with clients, friends and collaborateurs, are Merkabahs moving us forward as we advance, cultivating sown seeds. We are a small agency with emerging clients or established entities seeking new vehicles. I like to think we offer the larger Merkabahs for both to align with their greatest cultural gift or message, the seed of their original inspiration and the largest circle of influence for their dreams.
I noticed my own dreams and passions circling the air of my brain exist “same as it ever was,” just evolved, bigger, better than ever with still a million versions yet to come. It is true, follow your bliss. Stay true to your values. The vehicles to ride in will come. Here are my Merkabahs this month, paired with the very mental, elemental scents created on the theme of “air” to go with them, symbolizing the power of ideas paired with emotion. This lifts us forward to plant ideas on the earth. Whomever, wherever you are.
I am (most of the time) writing based in the Gotham Metropolis, but my thoughts are carried by the wind, I am listening to Nature all the time. The fragrance of Nature is a mover, it connects us primorially to the Timeless, the Eternal. Moving experience across time zones immediately. As often in this blog, I write about the independent scents created by artful designers, its essential to my world. I am grateful to be in the circles of these fragrance-makers and was invited with other bloggers to write about scents based on the elements in a collaborative project called Primordial Scents 2012, hosted by Monica Miller. “A chariot ride to the Ethereal,” similar to the Clarimonde Project from last October and creator, Lucy Raubertas, which I covered here. All the scented bits will be in blue letters so you can keep track.
The best rides mashup the physical and the visceral. let’s go.
1 slow luxury.
Slow Luxury is a development arising from my work with Fiona Fraser, the visionary owner and designer of Fraser Balgowan, Scotland’s newest luxury brand of travel bags, sustainably produced with the hides of wild red deer and tartans sourced locally in the Scottish Highlands. We realized the company’s philosophy of sustainability, stewardship and slow, limited production represented a new concept in luxury which we wanted to encourage and create industry conversation around.
We all know we no longer want to eat foods produced from GMO’s and nourished on a diet of chemicals destroying the health of the soil and water. In addition to becoming more aware of the impact of the food and fashion industry on our environment, did you know each bottle of perfume in the department stores can contain up to 300 synthetic chemicals? While not all may be harmful, when scent is so basic to our primal functioning and everything beautiful, why not have your own scent formulated just for you comprised of natural elements? Part of the discovery is to find a perfumer in sync with your soul. Doing your research and trying small samples of their brews is essential. Most offer that if testing by mail, as the indie-perfume movement is global now, see this clip from Forbes.com. This is Slow Luxury, luxury available to all, honoring small craft and makers, personalized product, sustainable materials and the touch and feel of packages in the mail. Of all personal “style” markers, fragrance has the most potential to supplant that archaic and very un-stylish luxury concept of “one-IT-bag/shoe-brand-fits-all.” Get started here…
First Breath is a parfum extract from Naked Leaf Perfumes, located in Canada and the first reviewed for the Primordial Scents project, which is perfect as it was created to honor the innocence and power in birthing. It is a miracle to combine a strong flash of sage, fir balsam, vetiver and green pepper with softy, baby earthy familiar pillow scents like lavender, rose, vanilla, patchouli and my personal favorite, armoise or mugwort. I often put mugwort leaves under my pillow to enhance lucid dreams. I just learned the oil’s principal constituent, Thujone, is found in sage and wormwood, the psycho-active component of absinthe, which makes perfect sense. This fragrance is entrancing and potent, a “liquid prayer” as the perfumer Suzy Larsen calls it. To which I add, a symphony of exactly how creating and birthing a dream from emotion feels.
Reflecting the miracle and preciousness of factors converging to create life, Florence and The Machine’s Breath of Life from Snow White and The Huntsman movie, filmed in the Highlands of Scotland with a choir and symphony orchestra, touches that desire.
2 art, gardens. heal.
Birthing children and creativity is a garden where we all thrive. One in 88 children now has autism or special needs and our beliefs and systems are integrating to incorporate new opportunities to nurture these children in their unique ways of sensing and perceiving the world. Is the cause is our food, our stress, our vaccines or our lifestyle?
Conversations with our client, child and family psychologist, Dr. Renee Clauselle, have taught us much about special needs children and their world. We both share a love of the Earth, sensitivity, creativity and “Dr. Renee” shared the challenges of raising a special needs child. Her academic expertise met my passion for art and community gardens and one day her announcement instantly became a merkabah: “Well, there are no actual academic studies specifically linking wellness and healing for special needs kids based on a program combining gardening and art. Program funding is generated from these studies.”
The result is Art. Gardens.Heal. a contest awarding a grant for a research program to study the effects urban gardens and a year-round art program will have on measurements of health, happiness and skill behaviors of children. As a collecting puddle after a brisk rain, the winds of change are here and we are conversing with and gathering experts in the field from non-profits such as The Flawless Foundation‘s Janine Francolini to the wellness program directors of New York schools. Excited, learning and open to new connections in this realm.
3 hotel earth.
simplicity. play. genius.
Part of slow luxury is realizing that the art of living well, luxuriously, does not source from things, it sources from an experience. Our complex desires are increasingly satisfied and soothed by the simple luxuries and rewards of love, caring, community, nature and time expansions through fun, collaborative experiences aka “PREDICAMENTS” creatively managed.
We are thrilled to be partnered with Jonathan Porcelli, master producer and former project manager for land-installation artist Spencer Tunick, on a series of art hotels called Hotel Earth. Jonathan spends many ecstatic days on his sailboat with limited resources producing maximum joy and realized that “simple constraints bed down with creativity.” Looking to inspire change in the world through creativity, we agreed and synced with him and came on to the project to help envision and birth its scope, messaging and realization.
Site and brand specific, HOTEL EARTH are immersive, self-sustaining, creative, community experiments centered on Art Hotels, where guests meet simple predicaments and games to explore to hot button issues, create new experiences and values of making more…and better…with less. During their stay, guests will be presented with games, or “predicaments” that reflect modern day issues of survival, luxury and happiness which they must engage and manage. (situational, financial, environmental, technological, societal). These constraints can range from remoteness of location, finite amounts of water or electricity, limited or no access to communications. Contact us or the brilliant and connected Renata Lopes-Merriam, whose Kingdom B agency is playing matchmaker for Hotel Earth, connecting to international artists, brands and local businesses, thought leaders, civic organizations, art institutions and the public to cross-pollinate for genius solutions. Restoring the sweetness of Life on Earth.
“Honey.” I felt decidedly unsweet and exhausted one recent morning, so I headed back to bed but first pinched the tiny vial of perfume called “Honey” to take with me. Surprise. Not at all what I expected. Not sugary, not so overly-sweet. Honey is created by Purrfumes maestro Laurie Stern, whose purple site describes this flowery merkabah of French orange blossom and Moroccan and Bulgarian roses as sitting “on a throne of deep vetiver, Madagascar vanilla, honey, beeswax from the Purrfumery’s bees and their propolis. It is crowned with rare antique clove, pomegranate and pink grapefruit. This royal blend is set in a rich base of sandalwood and vanilla infused alcohol.”
For me, the scent buzzed cool and unforgettable like Hitchcock’s Vertigo and hot like Kazan’s Streetcar Named Desire. More like “Honey” when your new lover first calls you that and means it. “Honey” like when the two elixir drops in a yin yang circle change up the game. “Honey,” not a sticky, soft-n-slow drawl, rather that sexy buzz, aggressive like the beautiful, highly functioning, fly-by’s of both bees to a hive, airline stewardesses bustling up an aisle or a tornado brewing.
“Honey” chills like a legendary movie star’s come hither. Melty film noir suspense and desire. That which plants dreams into Earth.
4 legend photography. sponsor of the united nation’s fashion 4 development.
What if art, women, fashion and style could save the world? Would anyone complain about that?
Evie Evangelou is the visionary who took supermodel Bibi Russell’s project with the United Nations, Fashion 4 Development, and ran with it. We are thrilled to be part of this vehicle for change. Evie is Global Chair along with Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, the group’s Goodwill Ambassador and we were introduced to the movement by Dr. Shirley Madhere, holistic plastic surgeon of The New Aesthete, Vice Chair of Fashion 4 Development and the Director of F4D’s Beauty 4 Empowerment Initiative. Many other fashion industry luminaries are involved including, as pictured here with Franca and Evie, Fern Mallis, a NY fashion icon, described by The New York Times as NY Fashion Week’s former “mother hen and major domo of the tents” and Karen Giberson, President of The Accessories Council.
Together, they have begun the conversation and spurred action along with the UN First Ladies. We are honored that our personal portrait experience, called Legend, will envision images with the first photo shoot of Evie to illustrate the collateral for the Fashion 4 Development Luncheon to be held September 2012. As shot by fashion photographer, Joey Falsetta and art-directed by Kristen Paladino and myself, Evie will be in traditional Senegalese costume, in honor of the first businesses of F4D in Africa.
Fashion can be a Storm. One whiff of Spirit of AIR, from Neil Morris Fragrances, and my head is filled again with my Mother’s perfume just as she swooshed out the door, fully costumed with tall hair, for some fab 1970’s era disco, leaving us lingering on its last notes as the boring babysitter clicked on the TV. Along with a field of flowers like those on Franca’s coat, this scent carries Ozone Notes, that crisp ethereal scent of the air after a storm. I discovered this “Ozone Note” scent was first used for Chanel No. 5 by its inventor, Ernst Beaux. A former soldier with the Russian army stationed in the Artic Circle whose senses were piqued by the frozen mix of water and air, he was already a master perfumer when he met Coco Chanel. With the help of the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, who was the lover of the couturier, they were introduced in Cannes in the Summer of 1920. Like a descent from an iceberg tip, Spirit of AIR adds the heat from the flowers of Provence and imagination, Lily of the Valley, Sunflower, Lemon Verbena, Linden Blossom, White Amber, Plum Blossom and Blue Musk. By inhaling and basking in fields of multiple flowers again and again through perfumes, I think we relive the joy that comes after our own emotional storms release pain and birth flowers.
In Ayurveda, it is said that after a rain, the Prana or life force is activated and that is why the air feels so fresh. Ah, hope eternal…keep feeding us!
5 randy slavin scott. opening of filmmaker’s photography.
We are excited to promote the opening on July 25, 2012 of photographer Randy Scott Slavin’s “Alternate Perspectives,” an exhibit of his large-scale 360-degree circular landscapes in Soho at Kristen Farrell Jewelry Gallery, with music by Hesta Prynn. Randy Scott Slavin is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has garnered millions of YouTube hits and his clients include MTV, American Express, Bank of America, VEVO, Universal Records, Atlantic Records and Island/Def Jam Records. He is also the recipient of the prestigious South by Southwest Special Jury Award.
Kristen Farrell, celebrity jewelry designer and goldsmith and personal jeweler to Giselle Bundchen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Bethenney Frankel and Janet Jackson collects Slavin’s work. The two artists share a surrealist, alchemical, otherworldly and futuristic visual language, and the exhibit will match one of her designs to each of Slavin’s pieces.
Hesta Prynn, the NYC based DJ and dance-artist whom The New York Post has called “M.I.A. and Miike Snow’s lovechild” will curate music for the opening and after party at The Double Seven. Prynn plays Bonnaroo and Coachella, DJ’s for high-end fashion and corporate clientele and is set to release new material later this summer featuring production by Mad Decent’s Derek “DJA” Allen.
Forbes, Dezeen, Curbed, Artlog and Adrian Grenitz’s SHFT.com, an exciting new platform for film and video art to change the world, are just some of the media we’ve introduced to Slavin’s work, garnering their praise for “Alternate Perspectives.”
Opening, Wednesday July 25th from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Kristen Farrell, 339 West Broadway, New York, New York. Exhibition runs July 26 until August 12, 2012.
Nicely mystical and geometrical, ONE, a perfume by a very thoughtful, New-Age alchemist lady named Lyn Elizabeth Ayre of Coeur d’Esprit Natural Perfumes up in Canada, is quite a match for “Alternate Perspectives.” Just as Randy composes his images of thousands of single images, Lyn’s ingredient list is like the Sermon on The Mount shopping list for Noah’s Ark: “Hyraceum and Atlas Cedarwood from Africa; Egyptian Frankincense and Mango leaf; Vetitver and Cinnamon leaf from Sri Lanka; Oceanic Ambergris, and Ocean tincture of seaweed, sea grass, shells, and sand; Hay absolute and Laurel leaf from Spain; American Peru balsam; South American Tolu balsam; Canadian Blue Spruce, Orange Peel, and Honey beeswax tincture; Jasmine sambac absolute, Frangipani absolute, Blue, Pink, White Lotus absolute, and Spearmint, all six from India; Italian Neroli and Petitgrain Orange; Chinese Ginger Root and Michaelia leaf; Peach leaf and Violet leaf from France; Turkish Galbanum; Japanese Peppermint; and Bulgarian Pine; in Perfumers’ Alcohol” …thank you very much.
My introduction to the word merkabah originated from Lyn’s fanciful writings. She had a vision of this symbol and created a perfume linking chakras and elements, calling it a merkabah. Known in Hinduism as a yantra, all of it a seeing in perspective. No matter if you are driving your car on a road or floating in heaven like the ancients or perhaps navigating industrial society or envisioning a new one cycling from the seat of a bike. All roads lead to…
6 urban biking
As a happy, country living being who easily rode 17 miles each way to work, along a powerful river, several times a week for years, it’s amazing that I had not been on a bike here for the recent ten years I have lived in New York City! I was determined to change that and this past month joined the perfect guide to end that insanity, Mark Brown, of Citinature, a man who lived in Amsterdam and other bike-friendly cities with a passion for urban green. It turned out I was the only other rider which was great as we shared like interests.
We began and ended by going over the Queensboro bridge to Roosevelt Island to see the Octagon community gardens and other green outposts. I admit by the finale, an upward climb up the bridge back to Manhattan, I was in a delirious state of biker’s mysticism from all the action, so much that the particularly muscular pedestrian symbols on the bridge and a photo on a plastic almond package littered on the bridge began to look like porn images. When we ended our ride, my guide got a call to audition to model lederhosen for Austrian travel board and he waved goodbye as he pedaled away. I was left to chill my testosterone by making photo art to imply I had just scaled Mt. Everest.
Once home, I reviewed my photos of gardens, excited by the new vistas of my favorite city. As NYC’s Bike share program, called Citibikes, is planned to launch soon, so good to know how to get around on a bicycle merkabah. Of course, in true NYC fashion, the bikes will come from Linus, known for hip vintage style designs.
Once over the bridge into Queens, one is welcomed by a new, beautifully planted bike path ending in a round greenspace.
On Roosevelt Island, The Octagon, is a national landmark and the cornerstone of a LEED Silver green building. A high-end apartment community, it houses the largest array of solar panels on any building in New York City and a longstanding community garden where these images were taken. I loved meeting the proud gardeners who have worked their plots for many years.
Intriguing clematis vine balls and this Echinacea, a bit twisted, were some of the merkabahs of ecstasy. Emblematic and encouraging to see this healing plant, mallows, wild poppies and many others growing wild on Roosevelt Island, turn one’s head slightly, and also take in the skyscrapers of Gotham just across the river.
In honor of the transforming power of green upon New York City, meet Dijin, a heady intellectual scent which meets its animal nature head-on like a Changeling. In Muslim legend, a Djin is a spirit capable of assuming a human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over them, thus a perfect name for this magical scent from Michael Storer. Djin’s accolades stress the sexiness from the leather and rose combo and it’s been called “a trip up the chakras.”
It actually feels less airy to me and more of the kind of earthy mental air you get from the scent of a man, the woods, the richness of a good olde library or ancient suitcase. I can see it like an idea rising from the words and base of the spine of a beloved book or man. It begins with a substance called Aldrone (reportedly “elephant’s sweat,” here, a synthetic with “the same sort of acrid smell as heated testosterone”) plus “leathery castoreum, civet, musk, tonka bean and teakwood, snaking up to a middle note of sweeter woods tempering the bitterness of grapefruit oil, black current absolute, clary sage, and topped with just a hint of vanilla and iris.” It settles into an aura of ozonic and marine notes, rose and spices including “mind-opening” cardamom seed and floral aldehydes. Quotes here are from the blog,The Posh Peasant and also from a fellow Primordial project writer, one very smart man, Dr. Marlen Harrison, at The Perfume Critic. My happy landing here also inspired the monk after a monsoon image.
Like a good man or story, Djin lasts a long time. It lifts the Earthy skyward like the sun does, drawing mists up from the earth after the downpour, as the storm last week in NYC was captured in this image by Dhani Jones from a plane. Music up!
photo by Cyrus Dowlatshahi
8 air kiss the sky. urban farms. green provocateur.
The image above is from the groundbreaking (and expanding to a second site) urban farm in New York called Brooklyn Grange, one new literal example of economic growth. The New York Times video here gives more specs and for creative new financiers or homesteaders, Spin Farming measures the new way to think about farming, in feet and not acres!
Two merkabahs we are loving right now include a Green Provocateur project with Barcelona architects, Tiago Borges and Francisco Spratley, for surprises on the ground and looking up, we enjoyed a visit recently to the community garden at Edelman PR headquarters, a project of Katarina Wong, Director of Community & Curatorial Engagement. The up-close encounters with fruit trees and vistas of wide open sky were nothing less than joyful. Perhaps what we have lost on the ground will inspire us higher, up to our roofs, and then again to the ground. Doubled Earth?
Moon Valley. Cycles Settle in Vastness. I always pay attention to the layered surrounding senses of the moment when first meeting a new scent. I opened the vial of Moon Valley by Esscentual Alchemy, while reading Lucy Raubertas of indieperfumer‘s words on the scent: “…(it) gives me an impression of a dark space where the dust has settled and the stillness intensifies the sense of standing in a wide open place.” I read the words and became aware of the words to the background haunting melody of “Kiss the Sky” by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra: “I hold my head up just enough to see the sky. And when we go we won’t go slow, we’ll put up such a fight. When they fade into the dust and into ash, All children know this pain will surely pass, Strong and wise and you are love. When the tide it come they will float above and you will be one day exactly what you are. Just keep your head up high, kiss your fist and touch the sky.”
Moon Valley reminds me of that “mental place women go every month.” If air symbolizes the mental and the moon rules the tides of this planet and our bodies of emotion, women are absolutely the prow of the ship navigating the tricky dark waters of our emotions. Mastering them, surfing them in all kinds of weather to “stand still in a wide open place” is like stillness in the dusty valleys of the moon, that emptiness we all are so afraid of. At its bottom rushes up a tide of Love which heals.
The world does indeed move on a woman’s hips.
9 it’s tv, a film, a merkabah, it’s a girl, a scent of a woman
As a girl-child, I cried because my parents insisted on me having a TV in my bedroom when the box meant less shelf space for books and imagination. Flash-forward to today, where like a junkie, I take every chance to glue my eyes to my Ipad TV. I actually blame Martha Stewart. I read that my Mogul-Mentoress watches movies and TV on her Ipad in bed, a glow-in-the-dark habit I quickly adopted. The slippery slope to addiction was propelled each time by Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore’s love children and their new “career women” stories…gals like the sashaying Tina Fey at NBC’s 30 Rock, Kerry Washington kissing the President in Scandal or Lena Dunham chatting up her gyno in Girls. The flow is officially on, tales of personal and messy emotional life are validated. We exist.
The TV myths of heroic journeys, where women play nice and pretty roles on the sidelines, unless it’s a beauty contest and beyond the 6-7% of top grossing films that are made by women,”…affects the brains we get to hear from,” says Katie Orenstein, op-ed contributor on women, politics, popular culture, mythology and human rights. That which is elemental and holds potential of moving culture into adulthood is no longer taboo or rebelled against, much the way symbolically the red cape of Catherine Hardwicke‘s Red Riding Hood speaks directly of the mysteries of blood, violence, birth and death. Changing the stories we hear changes our culture and society. That dose of reality women bring to the chin-up warhorse, perfection-at-any-cost male persona…it’s why we root for new heroines like Peggy in Mad Men, earnest, smart and dumb at emotions and romance all at the same time. We ALL now get to explore primordial energy. It’s ok, we ALL can be a little more human now!
“I don’t know what happened in your life that caused you to develop a sense of humor as a coping mechanism. Maybe it was some sort of brace or corrective boot you wore during childhood, but in any case I’m glad you’re on my team.” Jack Donaghy says to Liz Lemon in 30 Rock, as if the nerd, the last girl to be picked in gym, the meek suddenly begins to score the big wins.
Even the seeming macho world of Don Draper in Mad Men sometimes feels like a vertigo free-fall into the reality where men really feel more than women yet keep it under wraps, alcohol and appearances. Remember the central premise rests on rejecting the “grandstand of machismo” as Don is a deserter in the army and willing to stake his own identity on that rejection. Clearly, a society spinning on the negative aspects of male power, heroism, violence and aggression are up for other perspectives. While wins like the opening weekend of Hardwicke’s Twilight, the biggest opening ever for a female movie director, and warriors on the real news front such as Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry have opened doors, the percentage of women’s voices is still a sliver of the male discourse. We have much to say.
My conversations and experiences this month with some of the Makers talking “new voices”and “new vehicles” included Monica Halpert, CMO in residence at Women at NBCU, NBC Universal’s female-targeted ad network; independent film’s Godfather, Ben Barenholz and Alan Hofmanis on their latest documentary on the nascent Ugandan filmmaking industry entitled Wakaliwood; to meeting former TV-show writer, Susan Fales-Hill with her new book, Imperfect Bliss, a smart, funny and refreshing parody of the reality shows enforcing tired stereotypes of women.
…and just to be clear, all my life, I have always been just as thrilled about TV and film boy-heros from Jason and his Argonauts to James Bond to Johnny Depp in Dead Man to Jon Stewart, to name a few. (the J’s. )
Into this airy new environment of safe drama and emoting, I am happy to announce we joined a merkabah with my talented friend and film producer, Kim Jackson of Streetwise Pictures Entertainment, who is building the commercial arm of her company via a co-op of four smart women. Story telling as vehicles for product, services and causes shall receive that girlish, transmedia, random together, made to stick and innovative touch that grabs at the air and finds traction. Along with two other Creatives, Natalie Rodic Marsan of BrokenOpenMedia, entrepreneur, community builder, social media strategist, sometimes filmmaker and former performer of the arts and the ardent producer Hilary Stabb of her aptly named company, Ardent Creative, Streetwise will feature talented directors such as Andreas von Scheele and Sam Bennett.
…and that my friends, is a wrap and a rap and a half. Until next month’s long form diatribe, I leave you dear reader now, marching forward to the beat of a new drum in the chambers of my heart and new merkabahs, trailing behind in the air, leaving it, I hope a bit more perfumed, a bit more beautiful.
…and as usual, a song rises in the background to take us out, my favorite Morcheeba, ready to open the next missive from the Primordial Scents project, a batch of perfumes on WATER.
“…lost my soul there, down by the sea, livin’ free…“
all photos by Jade Dressler, unless credited or claimed. Please do.
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