Should we prepare for the second civil war?

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All images courtesy Edel Rodriguez

“I know what Trump is going through right now.” My husband said that to me last night.

“Why do you care?” I answered, surprised.

“Because his finger is potentially on the button. I don’t want him to have a complete meltdown.”

“I wouldn’t feel sorry for him. Besides, his meltdown already happened.”

“I’m not feeling sorry for him. I’m being realistic. When someone really believes they had something and it gets taken away, it has greater impact than if they never had it in the first place. …


You never know what you’ll find in the men’s department or in the back of your own closet.

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Yep. It’s really me. All photography by Margaret Fox.

Nothing in my closet made sense any more. Since March, there’s been no need for silk blouses and beige gabardine trousers and linen blazers, my spring and summer-in-the-city working wardrobe. Besides, what was I doing, besides working at my computer all day, at home? House cleaning, gardening, weekly grocery shopping, a little yoga practice, a little percussion practice. Zoom meetings, for which The New York Times recommends a crisp white shirt. I have several of those. Soon, the weather was too warm for jeans, even yoga pants. And forget sweatpants. I hate sweatpants.

When it got really, really hot, I started looking for shorts. Shorts I could throw on in the morning with a T-shirt and then add the proverbial white shirt when required. I didn’t like anything I saw. Most women’s shorts were way too short. Too ragged. Or if longer, too fussy and tailored, with belt loops and cuffs. The few ‘Bermuda,’ i.e., not-too-short-shorts l found online looked like they would need dry cleaning, or at least ironing. Remembering a pair I loved years ago, I started googling “madras shorts.” The ones I wore until they fell apart were lightweight, cool, kind of fun, and went with everything. But what I found this time were men’s. Men’s madras shorts, at places like Brooks Brothers (alas, now-bankrupt Brooks Brothers). They were tailored and kind of expensive, and I knew I couldn’t chance buying a pair without trying them on to see what size, if any, would fit. At the time, early July, I was not going anywhere. …


from what was in the fridge

It looks like a big egg yolk in this picture, but it’s the most delicious soup I’ve ever made…with ingredients that were hanging around in the refrigerator.

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We had this collapsed, cooked buttercup squash in the fridge. I’d roasted it the night before, but it looked kind of unappetizing, especially in the hot weather. And a bunch of celery and some decent-looking carrots were in the vegetable bin.

Shall I throw away that squash, I asked myself. No, make soup with it. I surprised myself.

It was so good. Hot that day, and cold, for lunch, the next.

I bet you’ll feel the same way about this…


Brands needed new ads right away. What happened?

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Still from commercial for FreshPet, courtesy Terri & Sandy

Imagine that it’s April 22, 2020. Time is frozen. You’re sheltering in place, watching Anderson Cooper interview Carolyn Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas. In a wacky, unnerving exchange, Ms. Goodman claims she wants the casinos — the whole city — to reopen, with no plan in place on how to do so safely. “Wait a minute,” Cooper says, “3,900 cases in Nevada, 163 deaths, and that’s with social distancing.” For a little levity, you tune in to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but, of course, it’s The Daily Social Distancing Show, and the guest is Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York. Noah and Cuomo are in tip-top shape, having a serious discussion about how long the stay-at-home order will be in effect. Cuomo admits he doesn’t know, asserting that as difficult as it is, everyone must stay home. …


If your supermarket has a cheese section, a bakery, and fresh fish and herbs, thank Milton Glaser and his client, Sir James Goldsmith. The late designer’s legacy included a $500 million redesign of Grand Union. The total redesign of the supermarket experience did not last forever, but the innovations did.

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Model by Milton Glaser, Inc,, c. 1992. Recently reconstructed by Mirko Ilic.

For London-based financier Sir James Goldsmith (1933–1997), buying and selling companies on the world market — oil companies and industrial corporations — was all in a day’s work. In 1978, he bought the Grand Union Company, an American supermarket chain headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey. He then asked Milton Glaser, whose work in interiors, exhibitions, identity, posters, publications, and restaurant design was already world-famous, to “redefine the supermarket category.” Thus began an odyssey that took Goldsmith and Glaser to the food halls of London and Berlin and the open-air markets of Italy — and became one of the most remarkable stories in design history. “Our concept was to present food in a different, engaging way,” Glaser told me, “to break the up-and-down-the-aisles traffic pattern with piazza-like spaces, to take the customer on a voyage.” …


Did that attempt to change things make a difference?

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Collage from iStock and 123RF images by Ellen Shapiro

It was 1967, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Inglewood High School, I landed a coveted summer job, working at the pool complex in Centinela Park, a 55-acre public park in Inglewood near the edge of South-Central L.A.

I didn’t have lifeguard certification, but I passed a written test and a physical that let me join the elite group of pool attendants. It sounds laughable now, but the job was coveted because we got paid for spending most of the day in the sun, working on our tans — wearing our smart red one-piece swimsuits with navy-striped trim — watching the little ones in the wading pool, chatting with the moms, supervising the locker rooms, hosing off the pool decks at closing time. …


Photos from Friends Abroad

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Family and friends. Sometimes we take them for granted. But it’s terrible when we can’t be with them in person.

On March 29, I posted an invitation to a virtual event called “My Empty.” I invited relatives and friends to (safely) take pictures of their deserted neighborhood or street, or the outside of a place they used to hang out.

Some say COVID-19 is the great equalizer. I’m not sure that’s true. But it surely is the bringer-together in ways we never considered before.

Here are photos taken by friends—designers and photographers—who live in Asia, Europe, Mexico, and Israel.

:::

Don Ryun Chang
Dean, Graduate School of Film & Digital Media, Hongik University
COEX Mall, Seoul, Korea

This popular mall is called COEX because it has COnvention centers and EXhibition halls, in addition to many shops. It is usually crowded with people, but has been silent for weeks. …


It comes in a can. It’s cheap. It lasts a long time. And it packs big flavor.

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Who knew that a can of chipotle chiles could help two people enjoy five pandemic meals?

Just in case the only ‘chipotle’ you know is a fast-food chain, chipotles are smoked jalanpeño chiles packed in a thick, dark, spicy adobo sauce. They are distinctive, delicious, and muy picante. As in fiery hot.

Our first chipotle-enhanced meal was a burger.

To me, all packaged frozen veggie burgers — no matter the brand — have the texture of corrugated cardboard, which no amount of secret sauce, good tomatoes, red onions, pickles, etc. can overcome. And most bean burger recipes I’ve tried aren’t very good. They contain too much bread-y starch and require too many ingredients. Besides canned beans, many call for chopped mushrooms, a beaten egg, bulgur wheat that has to be soaked, onions that must be sautéed. …


Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage, of Course

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Do you have half a day coming up with nothing to do? Would you like to channel Great Grandma in the old country? (It doesn’t matter which old country she lived in, she probably made something like this—especially during wartime, pogroms, invasions, etc.) A hearty dish which, over the course of four hours or so, transforms inexpensive, humble, available ingredients into a masterpiece (and uses almost every pot and pan in the kitchen).

The following recipe was in my file, but I checked a few reputable sources before tying on the apron. My favorite source for this kind of information is The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden. …


with PA Stacy Kovacs

Stacy Kovacs is one of the most high-energy people, ever, anywhere. She leads Fogo Azul, the all-women’s Brazilian percussion corps that performs all over New York and internationally, at parades and public events. Her day job is a “PA,” a physicians’ assistant in one of the New York’s largest hospitals.

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Stacy Kovacs leading Fogo Azul

I hope this story is a wake-up call to people who aren’t taking the threat seriously enough. And it’s a tribute to Stacy and all the other fearless professionals on the front lines.

STACY WRITES:

“People are asking me how I’m doing. I’m fine. They want to know what it’s like. I’ve worked three days in a row for 13-hour shifts. I’ve been re-deployed from my happy little outpatient procedural department to covering “boarders” admitted to the ED, the emergency department. These are the people stuck waiting for open beds upstairs — which means that someone else has to be discharged or die for them to get a bed. …

About

Ellen M. Shapiro

My career is designing and writing about design. Here, I can write about lots of things. My short fiction attempts to capture and evoke past moments in time.

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