New York fashion model shoot on Cornelia St.

Karen Rempel on Cornelia StSept. 20, 2017 – Earlier I told you about my fantastic summer gig at Krystyna’s Place. An unexpected outcome is that Krystyna is an amazing artist and photographer, and she offered to do a photo shoot of me for a model’s portfolio. We spent the afternoon on a glorious sunny day in early September shooting photos up and down Cornelia St. This is a preliminary pic to give you an idea.

Krystyna dressed me in fantastic couture, mostly vintage. The dress pictured above is more recent, from Venice, and is absolutely stunning haute couture. It’s exquisitely rich satin, with asymmetrical details and the pattern is coral roses with grey touches on a white background. Stay posted for more pix when Krystyna finishes processing the shoot. I hope I can give you a full-length shot of the dress later.

I felt like a real fashion model, and had so much fun wearing the gorgeous clothes and striking poses. Passers-by joined in the fun as well, sometimes holding the reflector for Krystyna or commenting on the amazing outfits that Krystyna put together. The green crinoline might look familiar to you from the window dressing that I created as my final masterpiece at the store.

Karen Rempel photographed at Taglialatella Galleries art opening in Chelsea Sept. 14

Embed from Getty Images

Sept. 17, 2017 – My friend Angela James and I attended an opening at Taglialatella Galleries on Thursday night, Sept. 14. We saw an exhibition of iconic original and limited edition works by influential graffiti and pop artist Cristophe Schwarz, aka Zevs. The collection is called Zevs: Liquid Assets.

Here’s a pic of the artist at the opening (black t-shirt):


It was a real scene. Evidently the night began with tequila shooters, and the champagne flowed freely from there. I was honored to be photographed with Ange in front of a great piece of art that my outfit matched. The slideshow at the top shows some images taken by celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan. This one is by Ange:


Many thanks to my friend Pat Duffy, writer and instructor at the United Nations, for the invite. Ange and I had a blast, and met some amazing people, including artist and professional partier David Padworny; actor, photographer, and former model Mark Reay, who made the autobiographical documentary Homme Less; writer/actor/producer Gregor Collins; and artist and musician M Fisher, aka Viking Swan.

Here’s David with a Louboutin-flashing babe. There’s a button on her shoe with a message for President Trump!
And here’s M (from another event):

He’s working on an upcoming photo exhibit that will take place in Spain.

Karen Rempel’s summer gig at Krystyna’s Place at 12 Cornelia St.

Krystyna's Place Etsy Logo
Etsy Logo

Sept. 14, 2017 – I worked a part-time job at Krystyna’s Place on Cornelia St. in New York this summer. I wanted to have the experience of doing a regular job, interacting with people, showing up for scheduled shifts. I walked into Krystyna’s Place one Friday night on my way to a wine bar with my friend Heather. I was dressed in an Iris Apfel t-shirt that my friend Dianne got me in Shanghai. This set off a conversation, and by the time I left the store, I’d bought a fantastic beaded belt and agreed to work at the store 2 days a week for 7 weeks while Krystyna was in Europe.

Karen Rempel in fantastic green beaded belt, with Bowie haircut and lightning bolt boots
Fantastic green beaded belt, with Bowie haircut and lightning bolt boots

I have to say this was the most fun job I’ve ever had. I opened and closed, served customers, dressed the windows (and myself!), and created an online store for Krystyna’s Place on Etsy. This entailed creating all the visual and design elements for the store, including a logo and header. I photographed 30 pieces that Krystyna had selected, measured them, wrote descriptions, and fell in love with the clothes!

Karen Rempel in mash-up of vintage necklace, studded cowboy belt from the Calgary stampede, Helmut Lang t-shirt, and black sparkly goth boots from Vaudeville and Trash
Mash-up of vintage necklace, studded cowboy belt from the Calgary stampede, Helmut Lang t-shirt, and black sparkly goth boots from Vaudeville and Trash

When the gig was over I spent half my final paycheck on clothes, shoes, and purses I’d fallen in love with in the store, and then came back again and bought half a dozen of the Etsy items!

Pink and green tea dress from Krystyna's Place Etsy store
Pink and green tea dress from KP Etsy store – ignited street commentary the moment I walked out the door wearing it to a dinner party at Arthur’s a few days later!

The store ambience is fantastic, with old black-and-white movies playing, along with contemporary jazz by a fantastic Polish jazz trio, and of course all the gorgeous vintage clothes. Krystyna is an amazing artist and designer. She paints ceramic animals, like the pig  below, and she painted much of the wall art, furnishings, and rugs in the store. She is truly an inspired genius, with an irrepressible creative flow. Everyone who walked in was amazed and said they loved the store. If you live in New York, check it out at 12 Cornelia St.

Green flying pig adorned with vintage jewellery
Green flying pig adorned with vintage jewellery

During the time I worked there I met many interesting folks from the neighborhood, as well as visitors who wandered into the store on their way to restaurants on the block, including Pearl Oyster Bar, Palma, and Cornelia St. Cafe. One day the LA stylist Sophie Lopez came in and picked up two gorgeous crocheted sweaters (one pink, one yellow) and matching plaid pants. I didn’t know who she was, but found out afterwards. On my last day, one of the store’s neighbors, himself a designer, walked by and admired my window display. He told me he regularly sends pictures of the displays to his friend who is the aforementioned LA stylist!

Final window display at Krystyna's Place
My final window dressing. Model is wearing a print scarf under metallic belt for a cummerbund effect. Beret is adorned with vintage brooch. Both animals are adorned with vintage jewellery, and a green crinoline forms a froth ocean at model’s feet.

One day a rather sketchy woman came in, with bleached hair with 24″ roots, who sniffed constantly. She spent a lot of time looking around the store, trying things on, and chatting. I even asked for her advice about one of the Etsy photos. But when she left, her bag looked a little lumpy, and there was a blank space on the shelf where these white shoes used to be. Dang! A shoplifter. Another time I lost a sale because the payment processing vendor stopped the account in order to force us to call them. They wanted to sell us a payment processing machine. The nerve! So this is New York—unbelievable splendor, and the petty dark side as well. And a lesson for me about keeping an eagle eye on sketchy customers.

These white shoes were stolen by a sketchy, sniffing store patron
These white shoes were stolen by a sketchy, sniffing store patron

Karen Rempel feels Waters raining down in Brooklyn

Roger Waters at Barclay Center September 11, 2017Sept. 12, 2017 – Last night I saw Roger Waters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So amazing! Sheer pleasure to hear the songs from my youth, especially from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. I bought The Wall as a double-cassette when I bought my Volkswagon Rabbit in 1981. I listened to it continuously in my car from age 16 to 18, until the tapes broke from wear and tear and a constant cloud of cigarette smoke!

I had no idea this concert would be so powerful on so many levels. The body-penetrating, mind-blowing volume of sound, the haunting music, the beauty of the guitar, and Roger Waters’ loveliness too. Most surprising was the political message. I was too young when I first heard Pink Floyd to fully understand the politicalness of the music. But last night it was very clear. This roadshow is all about empowering people to resist political leaders with the wrong agenda and to stand up for and care for each other, both locally and in the global community.

During The Wall, about 20 school girls from Brooklyn were on the stage, singing the chorus “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.” At first they were in orange jumpsuit school/prison “uniforms,” which they unzipped at the end to reveal black Resist t-shirts. I was pierced with the beauty of these innocent children suddenly onstage performing, enacting the words that I listened to when I was a teenager.

Waters also acknowledged the day, which happened to be September 11. He expressed sorrow for the families of the innocents who died in 9/11, and for all the responders who worked on the site and later died of illnesses from exposure to the toxic waste. And most of all, for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have since been killed as a result of the political response to 9/11. I was moved, heartened, and encouraged by this acknowledgement of the huge world-changing fall-out of those few hours in New York City on September 11, sixteen years ago. On the way home to my apartment in Greenwich Village I saw a giant beam of light piercing the sky, coming from the One World Tower. The Empire State Building was lit in Red, White, and Blue.

Most of all, I was moved by the fact that Roger Waters has been a political activist, raising awareness through his music, for five decades. His message about fighting authority (the teen anthem of all ages) has not changed, and it is even more relevant today. But let’s not forget the music for its own sake. Some of the most amazing, beautiful, moving, intelligent music in rock history.

The concert start was delayed due to protestors outside who were angry about Waters’ recent New York Times editorial. All backpacks were quarantined (checked) in the concourse outside the concert arena, which caused huge delays in entry, and a muddled chaotic mass of concert-goers unable to get into the hall until after the posted start time. This made me curious about the editorial, and about the issue of anti-BDS legislation, which led me to read about it, and to read some of the commentary, including an opinion written by David Schraub on the Jewish Telegraph Agency website. There are several remarkable aspects to this scenario. One is that Waters wrote the piece and it was published in The New York Times. Another is that people take it seriously enough to protest his concert. And a third is that it has raised awareness of a political issue, leading to thoughtfulness and debate. I spoke to several people out front of Barclays Center about the debate and whether anti-BDS legislation is a violation of free speech. Instead of being angry about the delays—and the claustrophobia of being told by security guards to push and clump together to get to the front (!)—people were engaged in thoughtful political discussion!

Money Clip

Waters ended with Comfortably Numb. I would have to say that while the temptation is to tune out what is happening in the world, Waters is doing the opposite. His message is Resist! Resist “authoritarianism and proto-fascism,” as he says in the editorial.

Wish You Were Here

Home Again

Us and Them

P.S. I am back-filling entries for the months that I was too busy moving to New York to write in this blog. So the date at the beginning of the entry is the date written. The date at the bottom is used to sort the entries.

Karen Rempel races in New York Road Runners 9 + 1

5th Ave Mile FinishSept. 10, 2017 – As many of you will recall, I ran in the New York Marathon in the fall of 2016, and it was truly one of the most amazing days of my life. People loved the Bowie costume, and I loved running for 5 hours straight through all 5 boroughs!

This year I am running in the New York Road Runners 9 + 1. It is a program for residents, or at least for people who are able to attend 10 races in the city throughout the year. If I run in 9 races in 2017 and volunteer at one race, I will qualify automatically for admission into the 2018 marathon.

One of the races I ran in this year is the Fifth Avenue Mile. I was super excited to be running down the middle of Fifth Avenue for this one! Though I thought the race would start at the south end of Central Park and go south from there, past Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany’s, and all the other fabulous stores. But no, it started at 80th St and went to 60th. I was disappointed about this, so I decided to just keep running past the finish line, and I ran all the way to 10th St, where I live. I heard the name David Bowie mentioned several times as I ran down the avenue. I am glad to be keeping his memory alive.

A handsome German tourist took this picture of me (below) when I was finished. It was 3.5 miles in all. The timed mile of the race took 8:31–possibly my fastest mile since highschool! And then another 26 minutes to run 50 more blocks. What a great way to spend Sunday morning.

I arrived at the race about an hour early, so I had coffee and fruit salad at the counter at this delightful New York diner on W. 82 Street, called Nectar 82:

And then I spent 20 minutes looking at Egyptian mummies at the Metropolitan Museum before it was time to line up for my heat. Ah, New York!

Karen Rempel enjoys a rainy day in Chelsea

Sept. 7, 2017 – Yesterday I felt like a real New Yorker. A funny thing happened on the C train. This man sat down next to me, seemingly too close given the amount of space currently available in the car, and I was going to edge away, when he said “Cornelia St.” His face looked familiar, and it turned out it was Robin, the owner of the iconic Cornelia St. Café. He recognized me from when we met during a photo shoot I’d been in on Cornelia St. on Monday. He invited me to go with him to the wine tasting he was on the way to, but of course I was on my way somewhere too—to a much less glamorous osteopath appointment. So he invited me to an upcoming artists’ salon at his cafe instead. What a lovely coincidence to meet him on the train!

And then as I stepped off the train someone called my name, and it was my wonderful friend Sally Sommer, a leading expert on modern dance, who lives in my building, and her brilliant friend Suzanne Carbonneau, a visual arts professor and modern dance artist Paul Taylor‘s biographer.

I came out of the subway feeling very connected to the city, and then saw this wonderful sight:  New Yorkers helping each other!

Karen Rempel views magical eclipse

August 31, 2017 – My friend Mike Rosetta took me “down the shore” to watch the solar eclipse on August 21. We went to the beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a short beat from Bruce Springsteen’s hometown of Asbury Park. Much to my surprise, we had to pay $8 to go onto the beach. Another friend, songwriter Michael Graetzer, took this amazing eclipse photo in Central Park:

August 21 Solar EclipseThe eclipse was very eerie and beautiful. Clouds kept going by, so I lay on the sand with eclipse glasses on for about 2 hours, waiting for glimpses of the eclipse to emerge. I saw the whole path of the moon across the sun and it was magnificent and made me think cosmic thoughts!

Eclipse down the shorePlus I think I finally understand that whole thing from grade 9 science, with the orange and the grapefruit and the pingpong ball.

Karen Rempel says Goodbye Trudeau, Hello Trumpy!

April 24, 2017 – On Saturday night I threw a Goodbye Trudeau, Hello Trumpy party. Some fantastic folks came to wish me well as I prepare to journey forth to be a New Yorker for the next decade of my life.

Some family members brought snacks in the spirit of the occasion–a rainbow of nutritious yumminess for Trudeau, and some rather toxic-looking orange snackies to represent the Donald. Doris, you are brilliant! Others got into the west-coast spirit with crab dip served in New York garments. High fashion, Irm! You looked like you stepped straight off Fifth Avenue! And of course many folks brought wine, beer, and other choice bevvies. Brilliant!

I served Manhattans Karen-style, extra bitter. (It was a mistake, honest.) It was fun to share the concoction with my friends and family, and taste New York together.

My friend Trish was kind enough to photograph the cake and me with most of my guests, though a few were camera-shy. Thanks, Trish! Here’s a peek at the partiers:

Goodbye Hello Party

1=Trish, 2=Irma & Cary, 3=Irma, 4=Bruce, 5 to 7 = Stephenie, 8=Troy, 9&10=Pam & Heather, 11=Alisha, 12=Steve, 13=Doris & Neil, 14=Eva

And more guests:

Trudeau Trumpy Party

1=Jill, 2 & 3=Patricia, 4 to 6=Steve & Resi, 7 to 10=Mom & Aunty Vina, 11=Kat (Another New York Hottie!)

I felt so much love, support, and warmth from and for my peeps. You guys are awesome! I will definitely make an annual return to Vancouver to stay close, and you’re invited to crash at my tiny 400 s.f. Manhattan apartment.

For fun and practical reasons, I created a loot room, in the hopes that many of my favourite possessions would find new homes with my favourite people. There was looting and then there was looting of the looters. I especially loved the moment when one of my friends tried to take the meditation cushion someone else was carrying out! Very spiritual, these people. LOL

You guys must know me very well, for many brought gifts and chocolate was featured prominently. And these gorgeous flowers graced the table. Wow, so much pleasure is in store for me!

I was super glad that people came out on a rainy night, and extra props go to my mom and sister Kat, who came from Horsefly to celebrate with me. I promised everyone there would be dancing, and a few of us took to the dance floor towards the end of the evening. (We were having a Stevie Nicks moment!!)

Sadly, every party has to end eventually. When the last folks had gone home, my mom and I weren’t quite ready for the party to end, and we continued the music and dancing into the wee hours. My sister Kat was trying to sleep downstairs and said she kept hearing loud bursts of laughter and stomping. Who, me? My mom? What!? (Innocent face.)

I love these cards Doris and Neil brought. Trumpy’s hair stood on end when he heard I’m coming! But Trudeau took it in cool stride…

It was an amazing evening and send-off, which I’ll always remember. Thanks for being there, dear friends. Love ya!

 

Karen Rempel hears joy in the house with Donny McCaslin

April 2, 2017 – And I think the spirit of David Bowie was there too. Saturday night’s (April 1, 2017) scintillating performance at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall demonstrated that Donny McCaslin has developed into a world-class, big league band leader, composer, and sax player. I saw McCaslin perform in early 2016 at the Village Vanguard, shortly after David Bowie’s death, and the events of the past year seem to have transformed McCaslin from an angry young(ish) man into a joyful, seasoned artist who is streaming his creative gifts into the world.

Last night McCaslin opened with a discordant, in your face composition from his earlier repertoire of published music, and then the quartet took a leap into two new (as yet un-named) numbers that McCaslin wrote specifically for the performance at Zankel Hall. The band members were beaming, and so was I, as I heard the driving rhythm section (bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Zach Danziger) provide counter-point to an astonishing fusion of McCaslin’s sax and keyboard wizard Jason Lindner’s never-before-heard arrangement of electronic noise. The sounds were so unexpected and new, a feeling of wonder filled the hall and penetrated into the minds and bodies of the audience like a magic dust, floating down, pinging off the earbones, and ringing bells of awakening in every cell of the collective body. This music was exciting! A fresh invocation of joyful wonder, and the band was fully enjoying the revelation as well, with smiles on their faces throughout the performance. They felt the rapture, and made us feel it too.

As you may know, McCaslin and Lindner played on David Bowie’s final musical gift to the world, Black Star, released two days before his death in Jan. 2016. Clearly some audience members were Bowie fans, and McCaslin did not disappoint. The band played “Lazarus,” bringing tears of remembrance and sorrow as we heard the song, perhaps for the first time, without the vocal track of Bowie’s achingly familiar, distinctive, age- and wisdom-tinged voice.

The song begins with the (now silent) vocals, “Look up here, I’m in heaven…” and expresses humor, Bowie’s love of New York, and further musings on the afterlife… “By the time I got to New York I was living like a king. Then I used up all my money, I was looking for your ass. This way or no way, you know I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird, now ain’t that just like me. Oh I’ll be free…”

This missing element struck home the loss to the world of our dear David Bowie, and perhaps by making the loss so real, helped to bring a year of deep mourning to a close. I am moved beyond words at Bowie’s generosity to write this music as his continuing creative contribution to the world, and help us prepare and come to terms with his death, and perhaps our own.

McCaslin generously shared an anecdote about accepting a Grammy award for Blackstar on Bowie’s behalf (the album garnered five in total), together with Lindner, at the ceremony in February. McCaslin outfitted himself for the awards ceremony at Agnes B. in Soho, a designer who had often created clothes for Bowie, and even designed wardrobes for Bowie tours. McCaslin had selected a black Euro-fit suit with a reverse-logo Blackstar t-shirt—very hipster and ringing that note of musical triumph of Bowie’s final work. McCaslin confided with the audience that this was the very suit he was wearing for our performance, and shared that Gail Ann Dorsey, Bowie’s long-time bass player, also gets some of her fantastic clothes at Agnes B. Check out the hard-core punk meets Buddhism dark green dress she wore during Bowie’s Oct. 2, 1999 performance on Saturday Night Live! I noticed that Lindner was also paying subtle homage to Bowie vis-à-vis tiny astronauts floating on the dark background of his socks, and silver denim high-tops.

The group played another shrieking, body-armor penetrating track from McCaslin’s 3rd and most recent CD, Beyond Now (released in Oct. 2016). And then another homage to Bowie, “Warzsawa,” a song he’d written with Brian Eno on 1977’s  Low, Bowie’s first album in his Berlin trilogy.

McCaslin has a  growing body of original music to draw on in his live performances, but his new work takes us to another level entirely. McCaslin’s generosity of spirit shines through this new creative font of joy, and he demonstrates it doubly with making space in the evening’s program for two Bowie songs. There was enough time and space for it all, and by drawing Bowie’s early and final work into the melange of his own oeuvre, McCaslin showed how these two streams are intertwined and that Bowie’s gifted soul continues to impact the world in the next generation of musicians and audiences—if the young man head-banging in the row in front of me was any indication!

It was an all-ages crowd, with older audience members sharing memories of seeing Bowie at Madison Square Garden in the 1990s, and a young child talking in the balcony, penetrating the silent spaces between Maron’s acid bass notes in his introduction to a song of further keyboard magic. McCaslin riffed on the child’s play, repeating the words “Uh-Oh” that floated down from the balcony and generating a ripple of laughter and repetition through the crowd. Then Lindner struck, with waves upon waves of overlapping repeating sequences of electronica notes, joined by tinkling ivories reminiscent of Bob Geldof’s “I don’t like Mondays.”

They received a standing ovation, and played an encore of two more pieces of splendor. Joy was in the house.

As you may have noticed, I had a lot of fun dressing in homage to Bowie.

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Karen Rempel is moving to New York

I went to Montreal for my US immigration interview on Dec. 19, and my application to immigrate was approved! This year has been amazing, with a whirlwind of trips and activities, all aimed at working towards this goal. I am so happy to have the chance to live in New York—it is truly a dream come true.

bay-montreal

Visiting Montreal was an unexpected boon along the way. Though it was very cold (down to minus twenty), this was okay as it gave me a great excuse to shop for some fabulous winter gear at the Baie Montreal, shown above in Christmas splendor.

montreal-statue

Here is another beautiful winter sight, a snow-draped statue in the Square Phillips, across from my hotel.

I am working on a technical writing contract for A&W, so I was pleased to visit this location on Rue Sainte-Catherine:

montreal-awI love the French signage!

And this is a picture of me in my interview suit, after I got the Yes from US Customs and Immigration.

montreal-headshot

Wish me luck, and drop me a line here now and then! I hope you will stop by this site occasionally to see my monthly updates on life in New York.

P.S. I am moving on New Year’s Day!