vacation homes to give your conscience a rash.

mention “my summer house” and go straight to the douchebag jar. do not pass GO. do not collect $200. bring your wallet – no, not that quilted lady dior shit – and don’t get mugged on the way.

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

despite the massive wealth it takes to buy and furnish homes featured in your run-of-the-mill interiors magazine, i ogle them with a healthy dose of self-delusion. extreme social inequality? nah, everyone needs a comfy place to put up their feet, brew the coffee, spit the toothpaste. that the feet are landing on a $1,900 platner coffee table is just a slight bonus.

but a summer home featured in a magazine…?

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

a pristine white canvas on which to showcase your damien hirst paintings while the kids drag sand across the shiny terrazzo floors for six weeks a year…?

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

it’s spectacular and it makes my stomach hurt.

i can applaud a summer house feature as a rare curiosity, but the frequency of these spreads boasting oceanside second homes is giving me an itch.

tonight, i’ll be daydreaming about an ocean breeze on the walk past the saxophone street artist warbling the theme to the godfather while the detroit river wind cuts our faces like ice. i might toss him some change. he’s probably saving up for that platner coffee table.


wherein i curse aggressively at new yorkers who stole my paris stash.

in a 22-minute moment of weakness, i watched an episode of the mindy project where mindy was all like “my favorite painting is monet’s water lilies!” and her snooty date was all like “HAH good one, that’s the katy perry of art!” and mindy was all like, “but i heart katy perry!”

…and i heart monet’s water lilies. on our vacation in august, i had stared in the musee de l’orangerie at purple-no-blue-no-purple brushstrokes of flower evoking every nanomoment of the sun’s slow glide through the sky overhead across three hundred feet of canvas, and thought, i am tripping balls.


les nympheas / claude monet / le musee de l’orangerie, paris

in related news this manhattan couple has a monet in their master bedroom. also, a chagall on their headboard and a picasso in their mancave. WHAT THE FUCK.*

eran chen / architectural digest / dec 2013

eran chen / archictural digest / dec 2013

eran chen / architectural digest / dec 2013

*i’m just jealous.

oh that sculpture in the bedroom corner behind the monet is a rodin. a rodin, motherfuckers.*

the thinker / rodin / musée rodin / aug 2013

*i’m just jealous.

rodin happens to have his own personal museum with some of his own works, such as the garden sculpture i snapped above, and the rare photographable van gogh. so here we are in touristface with the only painting we captured on camera.**

portrait of père tanguy / vincent van gogh / musée rodin / aug 2013

the musee d’orsay grabbed my innards and yanked. do you think you’ve seen impressionist art? do ya? fancy yourself a fanboy of a little degas, do ya? maybe have some renoir with your peach cobbler? that’s right i’m talking to you atiya-circa-july-2013? shut your mouth and go to paris.

also go to saint-paul-de-vence where your moody little mountainside hotel offers lunch under a picasso and a swim under a calder.

a picasso / la colombe d’or / st-paul-de-vence, france / aug 2013

a calder / la colombe d’or / st-paul-de-vence, france / aug 2013

swim under a calder? i gaze at a calder in my apartment on sunday afternoons whilst massaging the kale for dinner. eat that, motherfuckers.*

giancarlo giammetti / architectural digest / dec 2013

*i’m just jealous.

syed and i, starry-eyed and determined to start an art collection, met a charming french artist in saint-paul-de-vence named leo who paints out of his studio. we chatted in broken french and waving limbs, laughed together, handed over our amex with giddy american energy. (i’m embarrassed.)



impressionist in style and cheerfully intense with provençal fields bursting off the canvas onto your face, these guys will fit right into our lives for the rest of time. they tell us a story and they will tell our story.

tchotchkes be damned. i’m an art collector, y’all.*

*humor me.

**except mona lisa, that diva bitch. more on her later.

decor that may cause you to choke on your grape

first, swallow your grape.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013


how to tame your hard drive of travel photography before it grows a robot brain and destroys you

hold on to your pants, guys.  this is a long one.

i had promised in an early post re: travel tchotchkes to describe a clever tool for showcasing travel photos in a design-conscious way without defaulting to black & white prints.

chowmahalla palace / hyderabad india / dec 2009

don’t be timid about manipulating your prints.  exploit them like a corporate pig, because digital photography is probably ruining your life anyway.

consider this:

1.  in the era of purchasing film, you were selective about using the 24 available exposures on the roll.

2.  you strolled up to the fontana di trevi in your fly new tevas.  you gasped at the realism of its carefully sculpted figures.  your friend pointed out triton’s awkward expression and you all shared a laugh.

3.  you pulled out your camera and thoughtfully chose a few frames:

first, a group shot of you and your friends with the fountain behind you, taken by a fellow tourist.

next, a view facing the fountain head-on and capturing the full extent of the building in all its glory.

finally, a close-up with a beam of sunlight graphically cutting across neptune’s face with a vibrant blue sky as the backdrop.

boom.  three pictures: one for documenting your presence, one for capturing the moment at a macro level, and one for artistic value.  you drop off the film on your way home from the airport and have trevi’s neptune on your wall a week later.

fast-forward fifteen years.  you walk up to the fountain, SLR hanging around your neck.  you say, ooOOoo!  then you pull the camera to your face and start snapping.

a week later, you’re sitting on your couch staring at a folder of 86 fontana di trevi pictures.  you think, shit.  i don’t feel like doing this now.

a year later, those pics are still prisoner in your laptop.

i am SO guilty here.

it’s no wonder that i hestitate to take photographs at all anymore.  photography management is a full time job requiring a mechanically cooled data center and paid interns.  i don’t deny the value of digital photography… i just balk at the time commitment forced on me by this tyranny of choice.

so.  in the rare moment when i do get around to printing photographs, i like to take advantage of their digital-ness to the fullest extent i know.

remember these guys above my tv?

my place

they’re 14×11 prints of trips to playa del carmen, istanbul, and hyderabad.

my place

looks all right, yeah?  the mexican palm tree on my honeymoon beach went from standard:

royal hideaway playacar / playa del carmen mexico / aug 2008

to epic:

all it takes is a single filter in GIMP, the free open source equivalent of photoshop, to turn a typical photograph into dramatic – and meaningful – artwork.

choose an image with the most eye-catching silhouette and adjust the frame and tilt until the composition of your photo is to your liking.

blue mosque / istanbul turkey / nov 2009

apply the posterize color tool.

set posterize level to 2.


red-pill-or-blue-pill?-like awesomeness.

manipulating a digital image doesn’t imply that the original is a crappy photograph.  no, the goal in using this GIMP filter is to unify your best pictures so that their most stunning qualities do the following:

a) fit cohesively in the color story of your room, and

b) leap off the wall onto the innocent guest sipping chai on your couch

your friends shouldn’t have to walk up to your travel photos and stare closely as if analyzing a museum piece.  your travels DEMAND attention, damnit.  force them on people.

i haven’t printed this one yet, but i intend to replace chowmahalla palace with these south american beach cliffs which are pretty like so:

miraflores / lima peru / dec 2011

and badass like so:

as i inch forward in developing the home office gallery wall, i’m using GIMP to toy with the prints.  my personal favorite?  a shot i grabbed of the opera house while riding a ferry through sydney harbor.

opera house / sydney australia / sept 2012

after a little GIMP massage, check it: