Archive for September, 2013

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In 1922, Ferdinando Innocenti of Pescia built a steel-tubing factory in Rome. In 1931, he took the business to Milan where he built a larger factory producing seamless steel tubing and employing about 6,000. The factory was heavily bombed and destroyed during World War II. It is said that surveying the ruins, Innocenti saw the future of cheap, private transport and decided to produce a motor scooter, competing on cost and weather protection against the ubiquitous motorcycle.

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The main stimulus for the design style of the Lambretta and Vespa dates back to pre-World War II Cushman scooters made in Nebraska, United States. These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by the United States military as field transport for the paratroops and marines. The United States military had used them to get around German defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges in the Dolomites (a section of the Alps) and the Austrian border areas.
Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D’Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job by Ferdinando Innocenti of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver’s clothes soiled.

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D’Ascanio, who hated motorbikes, designed a revolutionary vehicle. It was built on a spar frame with a handlebar gear change and the engine mounted directly onto the rear wheel. The front protection “shield” kept the rider dry and clean in comparison to the open front end on motorcycles. The pass-through leg area design was geared towards women, as wearing dresses or skirts made riding conventional motorcycles a challenge. The front fork, like an aircraft’s landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The internal mesh transmission eliminated the standard motorcycle chain, a source of oil and dirt. This basic design allowed a series of features to be deployed on the frame which would later allow quick development of new models.
However, General D’Ascanio fell out with Innocenti, who rather than a stamped spar frame wanted to produce his frame from rolled tubing, allowing him to revive both parts of his prewar company. General D’Ascanio disassociated himself from Innocenti and took his design to Enrico Piaggio who produced the spar-framed Vespa from 1946 on. The final design of the Lambretta was done by aeronautical engineers Cesare Pallavicino and Pier Luigi Torre. Pallavicino had been Technical Director at the Caproni airplane factory during World War II before working on the Lambretta design. Torre was an engine designer at Italo Balbo’s Idros; he designed the engine and organized Innocenti’s factory for mass production.

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BRADLEY DARRYL WONG is finally settling into his Eclectic New York Loft apartment. Not that the place, a ground-floor loft with a subterranean bedroom on East Fourth Street, is new, exactly.
But the settling-in part — the purging, the decorating, the home-making — well, these things take time, particularly if you’re a hardworking actor and single father constantly battling entropy or rather fixedly engaged in “the struggle to control my surroundings as opposed to my surroundings controlling me,” as Mr. Wong, 51, puts it.

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Because of the accumulation of objects,” he continued, “things are never quite the way I want them to be. There has always been a lack of, well, clarity.”
On a recent August morning, Mr. Wong opened his front doors to two visitors, this reporter and Mr. Wong’s architect, Jack Wettling, and showed off a few victories: 70-odd pairs of shoes corralled into 32 wire baskets in a locker-room storage unit in the front hall; three spit-spot closets arrayed with armfuls of colored yarn in clear plastic bags, tidy rows of hats and suit coats lined up like soldiers, all behind doors stenciled with the ghosts of long-defunct businesses harvested from the basement of the Puck Building nearby.

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Finally, in a back room, there was a vast and curious piece of furniture made from old sewing drawers, yardsticks and reclaimed wood, built by a friend to replace the massive rolling wire bookshelf filled with DVDs, photos and books that had been Mr. Wong’s nemesis for the last few years.

Mr. Wong, whose off-screen presence is closer to that of Dr. George Huang, the soothing forensic psychiatrist he played for 11 seasons on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” than Song Liling, his stunning Broadway debut as the gender-ambiguous love interest in David Henry Hwang’s 1988 play, “M. Butterfly,” professes “a profound discomfort with throwing things away.”

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He saves leather shoelaces, buttons and the thread and fabric swatches you get when you buy new sweaters and suit coats. He also collects yarn, vintage grease cans, 19th-century chiming clocks, yardsticks and old sewing drawers, which he accrues during episodic eBay forays. He likes old plumbing valves and fixtures, vintage hardware and a good deal. He drags furniture in off the street. Things do pile up, he said.

Mr. Wong extracted an aluminum stovetop percolator from a cupboard and rifled around for the coffee to fill it for some time before giving up and phoning his boyfriend, Richert Schnorr, for help. “He’s the coffee maker,” Mr. Wong said later.

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EAST FOURTH STREET is Mr. Wong’s third project with Mr. Wettling. The first, a loft on West 55th Street where Mr. Wong lived with his longtime partner, Richie Jackson, a television producer, was also filled with found objects: pieces of Andy Warhol’s Factory, including office doors stenciled with Warhol’s aphorisms, as well as family treasures like a floor border made from his mother’s mah-jongg tiles. The second apartment was a larger loft in Chelsea, bought and renovated for the family Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wong were planning to have.

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In 2000, the couple had twin sons with a surrogate mother, born three months prematurely. The older one, Boaz Dov, lived only 90 minutes. His brother, Jackson Foo Wong, now a healthy 12-year-old, battled developmental setbacks and health crises in a neonatal care unit in San Francisco.

The darkly humorous e-mail newsletters that Mr. Wong sent to a widening circle of friends, family and colleagues were collected in a book, “Following Foo (the electronic adventures of the Chestnut Man),” in 2003. In it, Mr. Wong details the helplessness of new parenthood as experienced through the harrowing prism of the neonatal nursery in which Jackson’s milestones — a sponge bath, a bottle feeding, breathing by himself — approach and recede in terrifying episodes.

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A year after the book was published, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wong broke up, their 18-year relationship “the collateral damage,” Mr. Wong said, of losing a child. Yet, he added, although they live apart, they are united in knowing what it means to experience that loss (“this sense of being marked forever,” he said). And in their ongoing role as parents. Jackson lives with both his dads, in an arrangement that sees him uptown with Mr. Jackson and his new partner, Jordan Roth, during the week, and downtown with Mr. Wong on weekends.

As a result, Mr. Wong said: “Our house, this place, has become incredibly important, because I felt the disappointment and shame that my son was the fruit of a broken home. I felt a sense of being broken, and robbing him of a full family experience.”

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In 2005, Mr. Wong bought this apartment for $1.25 million (he thanks “Law & Order” for the paychecks that made that possible) from William Sofield, the architect of Tom Ford’s Gucci stores, who had been living there since the mid-1990s.

The two men share a personal trainer, Rob Morea, who is also, conveniently, a real estate broker. They also share a taste for underground, underlighted places like this one.

“I’m basically nocturnal,” Mr. Wong said. “This is not the place for a daylight queen.”

The space had been, variously, a sweatshop, a Yiddish theater and a pornographic theater. When Mr. Sofield moved in, he had excavated the basement room and found carcasses of sewing machines along with old sets, props and scripts. He gave it his own decadent stamp — Mr. Wettling and Mr. Wong described it as a cross between a ’70s disco and a Charivari boutique — with silvered walls, much stainless steel and a quartet of Warhol’s electric chair prints; in 2000, Nan Goldin photographed the apartment for Elle Décor. (Recently, Mr. Sofield recalled the day his mother came to visit and wound up in the Merchant’s House Museum next door. Margaret Gardiner, the museum’s executive director, phoned him to say: “Are you expecting a mother, Bill? Because there is a woman wandering around the museum criticizing the décor. I don’t know how to break it to her that this isn’t where you live.”)

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Coke vintage packaging. We really miss packaging like this!

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7UP.

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Vintage beer cans.

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Lucky Strike Limited Edition Boxes.

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Lucky Strike Tin.

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Vintage Pharmacy Bottles.

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Belgium match boxes.

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Sewing Packaging Collections.

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Peep Show Hot Chocolate.

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Oreo biscuits.

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Snickers!

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Crayon Tin.

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Brink these packs back!

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1967 Volkswagen type 2 deluxe.

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Home on wheels!!

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A vintage BMW Isetta with his little caravan.

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So cute!!

Social Media.

Facebook.
“Striking, miraculous social team-up!” Designed by advertising agency Moma.

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Skype.
“The fabulous voice system able to put your family together.” Designed by advertising agency Moma.

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Twitter.
“The sublime, mighty community with just 140 letters!” Designed by advertising agency Moma.

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YouTube.
“Send and watch splendid and captivating films, 24/7.” Designed by advertising agency Moma.

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Gaming Console.

Game boy Advance SP.

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Nintendo Wii.

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Play station 3.

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XBox.

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Computer.

IBM ThinkPad T22.
“Women know what they want.”

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IMac.
“Beauty. Brains. And now more brawn.”

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MacBook Pro.
“Pure beauty. Pure power.”

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Eduardo Kobra: from São Paulo, Brazil to NYC’s Chelsea.

Noted São Paulo muralist Eduardo Kobra has been the talk of the town here as he has been transforming Chelsea’s visual landscape. Characterized by an impressive range of depth and realism, Kobra’s brightly hued murals pay homage to NYC’s history.

As viewed from the High Line, this piece was inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic photo, V-J Day in Times Square:

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And on street level Kobra has been busy recreating scenes of vintage NYC:

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Painting by Little Annie at Eleven.

Commissioned street-art painting by “Little Annie” Bandez in the art space at Eleven vintage clothing shop at 11 Prince Street in Nolita, in downtown New York City.

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