June 21, 2017

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Beautiful words from a beautiful book about a beautiful time of year. Bring it on 100+ degree Texas weather!

June 19, 2017

Books are for those who have cabin fever but can’t physically escape.

-Someone, somewhere (aka me)

 

Last 100 pages of Anna Karenina? Challenge accepted.

Note to self: stay away from the Russian writers for a long time. Hm, I wonder where that copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls is in my home library. I feel like going on an adventure.

Amazon to buy WFM for Billions

My phone lights up, spitting out various news sources all saying iterations of the same thing. I stare at it blankly. I couldn’t believe it: Amazon, the online giant, bought Whole Foods Market, the hippie grocery stored turned luxury health nut food store, for $13.7 billion. You read that right. Billion.

Now, I have a soft spot for WFM. I’ve lived in Austin for almost 11 years. WFM is the Austin thing, so the loyalty ran extra deep since I was an Austinite working at an Austin staple during the college days (corn is great 4078! #cashierlife).  I was there when the grand news of WFM’s financial success in late 2013 spread throughout the land. I was there when they came out with their first commercial. I was there when the fancy H-E-B location came along and began to make my WFM store a ghost town(ish). I was there when Trader Joe’s came into Austin and slight pangs of worry hit every manager’s face. I was there when the prison labor controversy was running around causing questions. I was there when they put more fruit inside their Berry Chantilly cake (it’s a disappointing three berries and 99% cream now).  I befriended many fellas from various backgrounds–including the friendliest porter you ever met and the wackiest guests–even met celebrities (Jesse James was kind enough to donate $25 to one of our donation drives one year and Meatloaf is super nice despite his large size). Days spent among friends during the lunch break exchanging gifts of books, food and music were the best. I’ve seen the stock plunge and rise and repeat, staying in the $30 range.

Bakery @ WFM Gateway, ATX

I was gone by the time their financials were not rising, their overprice asparagus water caused uproar, the closing of different extra aspects of the company is other regions, the stepping down of co-CEO Walter Robb in November 2016, and the opening of 365, the “lower-priced” store that follows a Trader Joe’s format.

I’ll be honest, I don’t shop there as often as I do now. You can’t go back when you had a 20% discount card for two and a half years. I still follow the news though. I cheer when they hit a high point and feel a slight pain of sadness when they lose (except for the asparagus water incident. That was just a “raise an eyebrow and face palm” moment).

WFM Original Store
wholefoodsmarket.com
I do find the timing a little funny. Texas Monthly just came out with an article called “The Shelf Life of John Mackey“. John Mackey, who is regarded as the “animal spirit” of the company (Robb was the business brains), was interviewed by Tom Foster. Mackey pretty much lashed out at NY hedge fund Jana Partners for trying to buy them out without really telling Mackey. He was starting his book tour for The Whole Foods Diet, his second book, so he considered the move “intentional”. The article is well-thought out and details everything from WFM’s inception to the present day conundrum. Foster even plays out what I call the WFM contradiction: as it got bigger, it became more corporate, less healthy and the core values became more….confusing…Was it a hippie store? Was it a rich people store? Was it a rich hippie store? I’ve seen my fair share of both groups at the store I worked at, so honestly I can’t really tell. I just saw happy folks buying kale salad and kombucha. No need for labels.

Anyway, Amazon. Good on you for allowing WFM to operate under their name. Also, good on your for raising the stock price from $33.06 at 9:30 AM on June 16, 2017 to $42.00 twenty minutes later (I knew I should have bought WFM stock three months ago when it was $29). I hope you can keep the spirit of WFM alive and well. As much as I don’t want the online robots to take over and ruin any chance I have at working at Vogue (print is not dead people!) or open my coffeeshop/bookstore, I guess it’s better than having WFM disappear altogether.

(Read the articles here, here, and here, or just Google)

June 11, 2017

How many actors have a shot at being a part of something that became a part of pop culture? It’s been very rewarding. I’m not getting the 20 million bucks for the new movies, but at least I’m getting warmth and recognition from people wherever I go.

-Adam West

And another bites the dust…RIP Adam West…

“Meet the Young Roses: The Next Generation of Socially Conscious Socialites” – Vogue, June 2017

It’s that time again. The office around you grows quiet. People are “this can wait until Monday” slow to respond to your emails and phone calls. You just finished your sandwich with a side of fresh fruit and you begin to feel the heaviness in your eyes, trying to fight it before your brain screams to run to the nearest coffee shop. Time pretty much comes to a halt as you beg and plead with the Time gods to make 5 o’clock (or 4 if you have a state-wide rot rally coming to your area of town and causing traffic jams that forces you out of the office early, like me). Yes, it’s the dreaded (or anticipated) Friday afternoon.

I always like to spend at least a tid-bit of time on myself to keep me motivating and not looking at numbers all day. I will go out and take a walk, doodle or catch up on my reading. Since I forgot my copy of Anna Karenina (on the list for the “30 in 3” Book Challenge), I have escaped to my favorite place in the world: Vogue. 

Since I have already read the June 2017 story on Elle Fanning (a beautiful piece that makes you want to be BFFs with Elle), it was time to venture down the list. My eye caught the article titled above. My dream is to be a self-made New York socialite (the casual “nerdy/dorky is cool” type. Not the ditzy type, if those still exist), so I found this article intriguing.

The story, written by a variety of Vogue writers, provides a brief look at five NYC’s latest batch of socialites who are successful, charitable, and, of course, fashionable. I love the theme of red the creators used throughout the article. It gives the element of power, which makes the women all the more grand.

My favorite two are the two that get the biggest pictures on the mosaic below: Nieves Zuberbühler and Amy Sall.

Nieves is cool for a) her badass name and b) the fact she works at 60 Minutes and interviewed the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor. How I want to be a fly on that wall! What makes her an extra level of cool is the ease she takes from casual  to over-the-top-glamorous. Halloween wedding with 900+ guests and a Brandon Maxwell wedding dress that is made of over 250 yards of chiffon? And not just any chiffon, but satin-faced chiffon? Girl, you know how to live it up.

I recognized Amy Sall from the pages of my J. Crew catalogs. My favorite aspect of her is the fact she was a former UN intern AND has a Master’s degree in human-rights studies from Columbia University. Her main focus according to Vogue is her work on the SUNU Journal, an outlet “centered on ideas of African cultural expression.” I looked up the journal on the interwebs and came across their website. Their home page has “Coming Soon” above the subscribe box, but fortunately they have a mission statement page, which you can find here. Amy Sall, overall, is graceful and fierce, and ready to take on the world of the socialites and the socially conscious.

(Read the full article to learn about the other Young Roses here http://www.vogue.com/article/new-generation-philanthropists-june-vogue-issue-cleo-wade-cecile-winckler)

“Tribute to Eric Theriot” Painting by Ramstedt

This beautiful painting before you is a touching tribute to artist Ramstedt’s friend, Eric Theirot.

Eric Theirot was born in Austin, Texas on New Year’s Day, 1995. He lived in Austin for 16 years before moving to North Carolina with his parents and three siblings. He graduated high school and went to the Univeristy of North Carolina – Charlotte. He graduated this past May with Honors, majoring in Computer Science. Two days after his graduation, he passed in a tragic car accident. Eric is a loved son, brother friend, and young man, whose bright future was cut short.

As mentioned earlier, Ramstedt created a lovely and touching piece of work to dedicate his friend’s life. The colors are vibrate and it is easy to tell they were a pair of great friends.

Ramstedt will be selling prints of the piece to help raise money for Eric’s family. You can message him on Facebook, or call him at +1 (512) 983-7860.

Please also help support the Theirot family by donating to their GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/erictheriot). Their goal is to reach $20,000 to help pay for medical expenses, funeral expenses, etc.

Rest In Peace Eric Theirot.

May 31, 2017

I think there’s so much divisiveness between what country people belong to, what country people should stay in, and what country other people don’t want people to come in to that I just want to promote the idea of us living in one big city called the world. That sounds really dumb, but I do. How can I help people think a little bit differently, not in terms of borders? I feel borderless in a way.

Rick Owens when interviewed by Vogue

Congratulations Rick for achieving the highest honor in the fashion world, the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award! Please continue to design and enlighten our minds 🙂

May 30, 2017

The girl said “Yes” when I wasn’t ready. I kissed her lightly and got so dizzy I had to sit down.

-Antonio Banderas

For all you folks out there worried about their first spring kiss: you ain’t the only one who has had awkward moments. Besides, it’s much more fun to tell an awkward kissing story than a perfect one. xD

Curtis Ramstedt

Curtis Ramstedt, local ATX artist and founder of Esplosivoism, is at it again! For those of you who don’t know Ramstedt or Esplosivoism, you are in for a treat as the two go hand in hand. Esplosivoism, in my mind, is taking a pound of Salvador Dali with a couple gallons of modern psychedelic strokes, a pinch of political statements and a whole lot of bold style. For a concrete definition from the founder himself, please read:

“Esplosivoism I describe as [the] pragmatic marraige between the modern and the classical. I use modern techniques such as emphasis on shape and bright color. I do have the same birthday as Henri Matisse [December 31st], but I also use philosophy, symbolism and Renaissance-esque themes like classical art.”

Ramstedt is taking the ATX by storm, even been recently featured in Gorrie’s Perspective.

(For my ol’ Your Way With Words followers, you may know this man by a different name with a different art skill: Curtis Des Marias, the poet. Remember “I, Sisyphus”? How about that villanelle, “Pour Ma Jolie”?)

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The quirky man with a crazy sense of fashion and art has revealed his latest painting, “Catholica Scientiam”, one of the biggest projects he has undertaken. I at first thought it was multiple canvases that he cut up and glued together but boy was I wayyyyyyyy off. It’s a build-able canvas that makes a statement between Catholicism and science.

The cover. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m in 1970s galactic disco with a bunch of floating grapes (this is why I’m the writer/math in the group and not the art curator hahaha).

The right inside flap. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m on the border of three different dimensional wormhole portals. The contrast between the left and the right is quite significant. I wonder if he meant to put the creative side on the left and the logical, black/white side on the right to match the personalities of left-handed and right-handed people. I asked him and he had this to say:

“[It’s a] relation between culture and economic systems and human rights and scientific progress.”

Yep, I’m off. But that’s the joy of art. You can interpret it any way you like.

The inside (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

When you open it, the relation is made much more clear. Though I still feel like I’m in a fancy palace with naked pregnant lady that is being observed by a bunch of scientists.

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Curtis Ramstedt is an interesting guy. He’s come a long way from his start in 2013. He is inspired by things in his life and, according to Ramstedt, the random “thoughts [he has] at the day…[his] brain never shuts off.”

“Jazz Party” – Ramstedt

Fun little fact: the girl in the paining is moi. Yes, moi. Back in 2014, Ramstedt was looking for something to paint and I told him to paint a jazz party. That was one of the last conversations we had for almost two and a half years (aka my “disappearing act”, a story for another day), so I didn’t get to see the painting until we reconnected in March. A few weeks later, I bought the painting. Don’t go criticizing or judging on vanity. You’d do the same. 😉

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Want to see his art in person? You can check it out at the Kasbah Moroccan Lounge in West Campus.

Like what you saw? Follow/Like Ramstedt on Facebook. Post about it on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Make sure to use #ramstedt and #z&h when you share. 😀

Want to buy one of his pieces? Check out his website, http://ramstedt-art.com/. Please note he also does custom paintings.

Curtis Ramstedt. Once he’s in your life, no matter how hard you try to disappear, you can’t seem to get rid of him. He adds color to life with a stroke of a paintbrush…and a corny joke or two :).