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RI Archives: Style

View past Wandering Eye articles.

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J. Seitz & Company

Susan Silver Antiques

Hudson Antiques Dealers Assocation

Gallery 315

Cupboards and Roses

Peter Fasano

Hollister House

New York Designer Fabric Outlet

Workshop Inc.

The Wandering Eye Does April In Paris

I got an email from Lisa de Rural Intelligence asking for a blog a week before we were booked to go to Paris for a busman’s holiday of client shopping and celebrating a birthday.

I’d been putting her off. I only like doing these blogs if I can be snarky. And I can’t be snarky about our locale. That would be dumb… and what could I possibly find to criticize?

So then I think: France! And the French!!! Parfait. Fair game. And foreign tourists. Certainment fair game…

We are off.

OK, we can all wax eloquent on the indignities of air travel. So I won’t. Like shooting fish in a barrel. (Note to old barefoot Earth Man splayed across three seats in the terminal: “Drop dead.”)

Les flics.

We safely arrive at our sweet little Rive Gauche home away from home – a friend’s duplex apartment in the 5th in an ancient building with views of Notre Dame from the terrace. We’ve stayed so many times its chez nous. Post Charlie Hebdo, “home” is now sporting 24/7 armed Parisian police posted right by the front door. After our initial “Huh!?” and a day of guiltily dodging in and out, we evolved to a chirpy “Bon jour!” and “Bon soir!” They were consistently charming and consistently gooooood looking. But the rifles scared us.

Travelling with Hermes is a cultural forced march. He has his agenda and he is going see it through to completion. I am part of the march, whether I like it or not. 

He’s figured out the way to keep me in line and moving forward. Culture is bookended by shopping and eating. We walk/Metro/cab to Museum #1. We view and we exit and he then feeds me or dangles a retail carrot — “Look! Le Bonne Marche!! BHV’s pet store! Claude Nature!” Then he tricks me into Museum #2. “We’re so close!” Then lunch. Then Museum #3 and I crawl home for a long nap followed by an espresso and lots of pate and cheese and bread. (He’s good at buying that stuff. He hablos! So smart.) That effectively ruins dinner — but we go out to dinner. Home to watch BBC News and in bed by midnight. 

Repeat, and repeat. And repeat. I’m generally complacent. Sometimes I throw in the towel. “You go to the damn Louvre. I am going home.” And he looks hurt. Or relieved?

The Fondation Louis Vuitton.

This April 2015 all the travel press was about two things — the new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne and the reopened Musee’ Picasso Paris in Hotel Sale’ in the Marais. 

Let’s start with the Louis Vuitton Gehry building. A wonderful gift to the city of Paris. A sculptural triumph. Hermes compared it to the Eiffel Tower. A new landmark. Bravo. 

But the inside. And the function. Damn. We hated it. Grim. Painted concrete floors, battleship gray, and the walls a dead bad white. It was like a well-maintained Manhattan co-op basement. I just wanted to escape the underground gallery spaces — depressing, foggily lit rooms. Mr. Gehry’s interior let us down big time.

Then you get outside in the bones and start trekking up. And up. You wander the warren of levels without any idea of where you are or will end up. There are a few areas for plantings. And, from someone who always admires the public gardens of France, they were cray cray bad. Sad and messy. 

It wasn’t designed for the throngs that will come this summer. M. Gehry incorporated two of my least favorite Parisian design elements — tiny elevators and dangerously narrow sidewalks — throughout his building. It’ll be hell. 

This stock photo conveys none of the chaos I experienced.

So after an hour there we slogged back to the Metro through the dusty Bois (typically ill shod in dark brown suede. Hermes says that is one of my “talents”) and a bit of Neuilly (bet the swells hate the added foot traffic) and proceed to the Louvre — open on Monday.

We use the Porte des Lions. It spares us the pyramid entrance (which we admire but we don’t enjoy) and feeds us right into the Oceanic/Pre Columbian/Primary Art galleries. The main collection is at the Musee Quai Branly (a great museum — go!) so the Louvre stuff is slightly “Greatest Hits,” which I love. Walk upstairs and you are at the end of the Italian Gallery (it never disappoints) and you just walk and walk.

This self portrait stopped me.  If every picture tells a story, what was Sr. Melendez telling us with his blue hair bow and c’est example of his oeuvre? The gaydar is off the charts.

OK — today’s museum experience, to be blunt, sucks. The buildings are often great, but not so the teeming masses of shockingly dressed/undressed cretins taking selfies and talking loudly and listening to audio tours that result in big roadblocks of the unaware. No one is paying attention to anything as far as I could tell. Just wandering vaguely. 

I freak. I race through, glancing at the art and trying to avoid any physical and sensory contact. If the galleries are crowded, Hermes knows where to find me: at the exit within minutes of entering.

Love the sphinxes of the Hôtel Salé  — crenellated castles for crowns.

We started Day 2 at the Musee Picasso Paris. Since we never buy tickets in advance (or make one reservation for any meal) we take it as it comes — or we leave. There was a line — but He Who Must Be Obeyed made me reconsider bolting (“No. Stay. Staaaay. Good boy.”) and it was worth the endless (20 minute) wait. All that Picasso in an amazing 18th-century hotel particulaire, the Hôtel Salé, beautifully restored and hung with tons of amazing work. 

What’s not to love? To return to our theme — how about our fellow visitors? The crowd was still pretty lame — and loud.  Dressed a bit better. Or maybe it was just early in the day.

By Day 3 we were hitting the less obvious museums and the “tone” improved exponentially. “Jeanne Lanvin” at the Palais Galliera was fantastic and the crowd was informed and polite and focused.

The Palais Galliera was a treat.

Move two blocks to the Fondation Pierre Berge/Yves St Laurent — and again, the crowd was there for the exhibition, not their Bucket List. 

“1971: Le Collection du Scandale” was a fun little show. “Saint-Laurent: Truly Hideous” read the headline of Eugenia Sheppard’s review in the Herald Tribune. YSL was inspired by his buddy Paloma Picasso’s thrift shop aesthetic. His collection was reviled and changed the course of fashion in the 1970s. Vintage became acceptable. The exhibition was saved by a large video playing film coverage of the day — brutal! The Supremes’ soundtrack kept us tapping our toes.


So besides culture, we shop and eat. We are not foodies. And because we are teetotalers, nothing is less fun than a long “tasting” without the “pairing.” We just wander — at hours later than the normal person — and jump in. “Monsieur, the kitchen is about to close,” doesn’t scare us.

Hermes was happier than he looks at Le Voltaire. And there were four pups at the next table. Four!

We order French stuff. Old-fashioned French stuff. Steak tartare is my lunch of choice, followed by #2, Croque Madame, or #3, a Salad Nicoise with canned tuna. Nothing nouvelle, vaporized or masticated. 

We love Le Voltaire – close to the antiques dealers and wonderful food. We always hit Le Rotisserie, the “petite soeur” of the Tour D’Argent, about 3 blocks from the apartment. 


OMG. It just occurred to me we missed Collette this trip. How strange not to have walked by. Collette is de rigueur. Not that we ever buy anything. (Now I remember… it was the afternoon I told him to stuff the Louvre — that’s when we would have passed Collette. Sad Face…)

Pickin’ out some new critters at Claude Nature.

Claude Nature is our favorite taxidermist. (Doesn’t everyone have a favorite taxidermist?) Hermes got a handsome little hawk this time. 

And the BHV. I love the BHV, le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville. It’s a huge old school store in the Macy’s/Alexander’s vein. The store isn’t fashionable or fancy — it is very French. The basement is a famous hardware store. And the pet department is heaven.


An uneventful flight back and the stuffed bird cleared customs. After five days we were done. Fed and rested. A few treasures scouted and headed for New York. French friends reconnected with. As they say, à la prochaine.

Our blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his partner Hermes Mallea, an architect, are principals in the M (Group).

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/27/15 at 08:56 PM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye Ends 2014 With A Roar

Our blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his partner Hermes Mallea, an architect, are principals in the M (Group).

Okay — four years ago I wrote about our holiday decorating experiences at The New York Public Library and I gave some pithy (probably useless) advice. It is way too long for me to re-read. I’m like a movie actor – after the role is completed, I only see the film once: at the premier.

I figure it’s about time for a new holiday diatribe. 

So – this year I had a Holiday Challenge. To wreath the iconic lions in front of The New York Public Library. Now, Patience and Fortitude wore wreaths for decades. They were Manhattan holiday icons. Maybe the Manhattan holiday icon. But the wreaths, with lots of metal substructure, were damaging the soft pale pink Tennessee marble so over a decade ago the Library stopped using them.

I lobbied hard (whined and keened) for the return of the wreaths. I wasn’t alone; lots of other people wanted them. But no, Facilities, in charge of making sure our treasured landmark stays standing and looking good, would not allow them. And who can argue with potentially staining Patience and Fortitude? Not me.

Last year, Facilities came up with a list of approved materials – with the main caveat being No Ferrous Materials. Library President Tony Marx wanted the wreaths — everyone wanted the wreaths. So the games began. We went round and round (and round) with fabricators, manufacturers, designers. All that fake holiday stuff is crammed with ferrous wires. All of it.

After hours and hours of meetings and emails, the Library Special Events Christmas Elf, Bryant (my kinda elf – 6’6” and VGL), found the right designer. We shopped the flower market, finally found the only three greens with no wires and we approved on site/sight. Two 15’ circumferences of plastic boxwood and pine sewn together with plastic fishing wire and all held together with thousands of zip ties. Add East Texas Pine Cones — see that first blog — and a red ribbon and Bob’s your uncle.

Last Sunday afternoon, I met Carlos Rivas, who created the wreaths, and his crew on the steps of the Library and they were installed. Easy on/Easy off — they simply latch under the chin. Lightweight and ‘flow through’ for snow and rain. I didn’t relish installing these bubbas in the Cold Light of Day. Opinions from the Pedestrian Peanut Gallery would not be appreciated. Never let the client (in this case the People of New York) see the process, just the final product.

But I was wrong. Even the old hippie who sat directly below Fortitude throughout the installation, smokin’ a blunt, gave us the Thumbs Up. I got asked a lot of questions (“Where is Saks Fifth Avenue?”) but no one piped up re the wreaths.

They were up and running for the annual Holiday Open House, when the building is opened to 6,000 supporters for a grand party.

And the New York Times has piped in.

If you are in the ‘hood, check out Astor Hall and go up to the McGraw Rotunda to see a Lenox Case with Charles Dickens’ personal annotated copy of A Christmas Carol and a daguerreotype of Tiny Tim— the only known image of the book’s hero.

The Wandering Eye suggests the perfect holiday gift: Top Cats: The Life and Times of The New York Public Library Lions.

The Lions’ early saga was fraught with bad press and criticism (everyone’s a critic, right?). Too benign. Too domesticated.

I guess history has proven the critics wrong. They were the work of the great animalier, Edward Clark Potter, carved by the Piccirilli Brothers out of pink Tennessee marble Mayor Fiorello La Guardia gave them the nicknames Patience (south) and Fortitude (north) during the Great Depression.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/06/14 at 04:13 PM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye Says Hermes’ New Book Is A Great Escape

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group).

Well, he’s gone and done it again. Hermes has a new book out. It’s only his second — but it feels like his tenth. 

Our personal literary saga started with his book, Great Houses of Havana. We made research trip after trip (after trip after trip) to the Pearl of the Antilles, with me bitching and moaning “Why can’t we go to Paris??? Why do we always have to go to Havana???” “I’m hungry.” “I’m HOT!” “What did that man say?” “I’m HOT!” “I don’t feel so good…” 

Bear in mind this torment is totally justified and delivered as required. One of Hermes’ nicknames is “Condescencion.”


Havana is hot. Very, very hot.

Granted, we had a good time; we always have a good time (even in Guatemala — aka HELL). But Cuba gave me plenty of ammo to kvetch and whine. 

So he finishes that first damn book and it is a triumph. Both the Commies and the right wingers love it. So that’s good. But — there is always a but — inexplicably, after 30 years of “Carey and Hermes,” “Carey and Hermes,” it was suddenly, “Hermes and Carey” at best. “Hermes and What’s His Name” at worst.



A compliment from Strand Books.

The line was drawn in the sand.

I was gonna write me a book. I gave myself a 12-month deadline and knocked out STUFF. Happily, it was well received and my stock ascended. For a while.

Then, upstate, he started hiding back in that palace of a bedroom suite he enjoys (while I camp in a tiny sad little room ☹) and I knew something was up. Another damn book. 

Well, I have to admit, he does it well. Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour is a thing of beauty and full of architectural information and social history. Chocka block full. Nowadays, the reading public isn’t very into actual words. Give them a full-bleed photograph with a caption placed far from it and they seem content. This makes us nuts — we want words and information and pretty pictures. Call us crazy.

So buy Escape from your local bookstore, design shop, or from the notorious Amazon. And read it. Trust me, you’ll learn something and enjoy it.

I am throwing a booksigning on November 12 at The New York Public Library in the very glamorous Trustees’ Room from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. 

Fabulous venues continue in Hudson, where our buddy Colin Stair is hosting a signing on Saturday, November 29 at the very glamorous Stair Galleries, from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. 

We hope you can join us at one or the other!

In the meantime, here are some photos from the book for you to enjoy.

P.S. So I write this snarky intro and then I read Condescencion’s “Acknowledgements.” He was so nice about me: ”This book would not have been possible without his enthusiasm for the story I wanted to tell.” Oops. My bad. Now I’m all guilty.




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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/31/14 at 04:20 PM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye: Cuban Art On The Hudson

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield.

Hermes’s Cuban connections (I call them the R’s – all their names start with R. And I wonder why they don’t like me?? ☺ ) alerted him to an exhibition of the work of the late Cuban painter and printmaker Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) at FRG Objects and Design Gallery, 217 Warren Street.

FRG Objects and Design is showing prints and paintings by Belkis Ayón through September 30 in its handsome space (above Ackermans Appliances). Ayón’s work is classified as Cuban artistic patrimony and isn’t exportable, so the show at FRG is an opportunity to see and buy rarities. Love that.

Belkis Ayón

Ayón was very interested in the Afro Cuban all-male secret society, Abakua. The imagery and references are thick – Cubans don’t do ‘thin.’ There was suspicion when Ayón committed suicide that perhaps she had been killed by members angered at her exposure of secret rituals. She began exhibiting in Cuba in 1988 as the Soviet Union began to fall. With the dissolution of Cuba’s primary source of support, the country fell into what became known as The Special Period in Time of Peace, a decade of extreme economic deprivation. There was very little food and there certainly were no printmaking materials. So Ayón created her own techniques incorporating varied materials – necessity is the mother of invention and Cubans are unparalleled at making do with what they have.

This NPR story focuses on an exhibition of her work that took place in Havana in 2009. And check out an Abakua dancing the Rhumba via the Congo. 

Belkis Ayón Exhibit
FRG Objects & Design
217 Warrent St., 2nd Floor
Hudson, NY
(646) 483-9109

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/25/14 at 10:12 AM • Permalink

The “Best Of The Interwebs,” According To The Wandering Eye

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield.

Walking to work, pondering on the next blog, I quickly start to ponder on more important things — like work.

And at work, we use the Interweb a lot to scout out antiques, check the specs on all sorts of products, suss out images, follow and engage with social media (hahaha — Hermes will argue that is a transparent attempt at my rationalization of web surfing on company time).

Okay, let’s have a “make up a dirty caption” contest!

I am constantly amazed at the new sites I am introduced to – and the information they provide.  The new hardware out there is pretty rad too. Sadly, I am also constantly amazed at how uninformed and computer illiterate many of my peers remain — and how resistant to new technology they are. Way back when this whole mess started, 20 years ago, when we graduated from a typewriter to a word processor to a 100-pound Dell computer, I declared I was not going to be completely left behind.  This mutton was going to make every attempt to keep up with the computer savvy lambs.


And I do love me a new toy. So, to Hermes’s dismay we’ve ended up with a herd of Nest thermostats and a security system I can access — and watch! —  from anywhere. We have iPads to run the house and wacky WiFi that requires three “zones” and lets me work/play outside or in. I tried out those fitness bracelets (wonder where that thing went?) and I would long for a pair of Apple glasses but the frames are très unflattering.

Oh — and as to the Cuban. His Luddite tendencies are deeply ingrained. I ran to the grocery store last weekend and when I returned, it took me a moment to realize the television in the kitchen was on — Hermes was cooking. I didn’t know he knew how to turn on the television!!!!  I was so proud — and then scared. It was like Baby’s First Word, and the brats never shut up again until they are surly teens. Turns out changing the channel was a step too far — but it’ll happen.

So here are a few products and sites that are current favorites…

A screen grab of someone in Austin — it’s 102 degrees! Texas: Conservative AND hot. Bad combo.


First – look at the damn thing. What’s not to love? It is handsome. Ours operates both heating and cooling. Over time it learns your schedule and routines (not as creepy as it sounds) and the NEST incorporates that information into the functions. 

These things are precise. If you aren’t in a room for a period of time, it goes to sleep, kicking off the energy-sucking compressors or boiler. I can remotely turn on the heat when we leave the garage in town, and Hermes’s bedroom is warm when he arrives. (Trust me – this is KEY. When I forget and the house is cold upon arrival, my blood runs colder.)

They aren’t cheap (hahahaha) but they do save energy. Granted, I don’t know how long it will take to recoup my investment — if ever. Like the PC Rhinebeck clients who put in a geothermal system (we used the same company that Bard dorms use… Super-size me!) to save energy, but it cost seven figures. Sorta cancels out the benefits, but it’s nice that they tried.


Here is a screen grab of my Pandora.

Pandora is a music service you pay $4.99 a month for. Try it out for free — with commercials — and then subscribe if you like it. We love it. You put in a musical artist or genre and the service pulls similar songs by “similar” artists and creates a playlist that goes on and on and on. You hear things you know and things you don’t. 

Spotify is $9.99 a month and lets you choose an artist and then gives you access to complete albums to create a playlist. I haven’t figured it out yet — it takes a bit of effort to get up and running. But my 20- and 30-something friends swear by it, so I am giving it three months to figure out.

The M(Group) Stuff Pinterest page.


I resisted this site for a loooong time. I thought it was another useless “design” site with dopes posting useless self-aggrandizing photos. But then I played around with it and realized its value. Say you want images of “American Empire Furniture.” The search turns up scores of images with that hashtag and the pics are posted by antiques dealers, museums and generally savvy type people — and sure, some dummies. I found the perfect porch shades to show our next door neighbors. I found my book, STUFF, with slews of entries (gratifying). Then I found Hermes’s book under “Havana Houses” and he blows STUFF out of the water… (I hate him).

Yesterday I needed to show a client how his apartment would glow with high-gloss Dutch paint ceilings throughout. This isn’t exactly a budget-friendly suggestion. It’ll be a pricey ceiling. He kept kvetching, “I can’t envision it.” But under “high-gloss ceiling” I found endless examples and the deal was done. (Well, in reality he kept saying he couldn’t imagine it until Hermes weighed in. Hermes, they believe.)

[Editor’s note: We’re on Pinterest, too. You can find Rural Intelligence’s Pinterest pages here.]


OK — when the Interweb crashes and the WiFi dies, we’ll be back to a transistor radio and rabbit ears on the TV. In the meantime, pitch the old stereo and big speakers with wires — for wireless SONOS.

These self-contained units connect wirelessly. We have them all over the place. And they’re so portable: just unplug, move and boot back up. Your personal music is on it — your radio stations and Podcasts. Pandora and Spotify. Everything in one place. You can listen to different things on each module, so I can “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle” while El Jefe listens to Poulenc.

Frankie Maloney’s summer job: lifeguard.

And after spending all that dough on new hardware and subscriptions, with all that money you must have left over, I suggest you put in a pool. Our house cries out for a Gunite extravaganza with lots of old stone around it. I heeded the call to the best of my ability. Went on Amazon and for $36 got me a wading/soaking pool that I love. It took me 20 minutes to set it up and stick the hose in. Two hours later, I was happily floating and re-reading I, Claudius

Hermes has resigned himself to it. At first he was horrified it was within sight of our neighboring Carmelite sisters. I made him walk over there and look, and as long as I keep my britches on, it can stay. Frankly, it’s best for everyone if I keep my britches on.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/21/14 at 02:17 PM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye Jumps On The Valley Harvest Bandwagon

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield.

Our new favorite lunch spot, on Route 9G in Germantown.

OK, I have written one restaurant “review” in the past. I’m not a Foodie. Hermes says what I eat should not actualy sustain a “normal” (air quotes) human. But it seems to work for me. My body is a temple.


My mantra is Proximity. I have driven past Valley Harvest Ice Cream and Grill on Route 9G for years and never stopped. For no good reason. I love me some ice cream, but obviously not enough to pull over.

Tout Germantown turns out. Baby Russell is sleeping in that car, which sort of explains why they chose to park it “in” the outdoor restaurant.


Then Frankie and I made the leap, stopped for a burger and fries, and I jumped on the Valley Harvest bandwagon. That was one excellent burger. And the fries are real, recognizable potatoes. The seating is al fresco so Frankie could legally hang out by the table — the big hook for me.

Jon does the double-fisted chocolate shake delivery.

Last week I shared my find with parent friends who have a place in Tivoli. On Saturday, low and behold, there they were, with sleeping baby parked adjacent in the car, chowing down on burgers, hot dogs (amazing looking), onion “petals’” and fries. We joined them, and Hermes tried the chicken Caesar wrap and raved. Me, I stick to what I know, the burger. All agreed (and two were real foodies) that the food was good. And both commented that the lady who did the cooking had been concerned that all was well: “She’s so nice!” These were unexpected developments.

The owner, Loretta Fisher, has owned and run Valley Harvest for nine years. A Germantown native and a graduate of Columbia Greene Community College, she has been in the food industry all of her life. Her focus is on fresh, local produce. She told me, proudly “We only have one frozen item on the menu: mozzarella sticks for the kids.” Then she added, guiltily, “I guess I could do them fresh.” No need, Loretta. Save your energy for the adults. Childrens’ little palettes aren’t very developed. 

Look at those fries. Damn… and that lettuce looks like lettuce!

Local and fresh are too rare in our neck of the woods. Years ago the Germantown Fire Department or garden club or some organization put together a cookbook. I turned to Apple Pie—the county is covered with orchards, right? Well, the recipe started with canned apples and things went downhill from there. (Who knew they made canned apples??) 

Valley Harvest is fast and inexpensive too—but not too fast or too cheap. Each order is cooked after you order. Me, I find it reassuring that the food doesn’t emerge 30 seconds after you pay. In the city, when I my Chinese takeout, I can barely exit the site before the doorman calls up, “Food delivery.” That speedy execution always worries me.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip rendered in plywood. LOVE.

Sit outside and admire the nice little tables and potted plants. Watch the cars on 9G. Read the paper. Or Rural Intelligence.

Valley Harvest Ice Cream & Grill
6 Palatine Park Road, Germantown, NY
(518) 537-6266
Weekdays (except Tuesdays) 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Weekends noon to 9 p.m. Nine p.m. is way sophisticated for Germantown.


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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/23/14 at 03:06 PM • Permalink

Stair Galleries: Finds From A Friend (Tom Noonan)

RUN…DON’T WALK! Time is short and the merch is top quality, so get to Stair Galleries and view the sale slated for Saturday, May 17 – Confluence: The Collection of Tom Noonan. Sadly, Tom has decided to close up his shop, Noonan Antiques.

Tom’s iconic “signage: graced Warren Street for many years. I’ll miss her.

For those of us who have shopped Hudson for decades (ouch!), Tom Noonan has always been on the very short list of Dealers Who Cannot be Missed. His shop was full of the best things – Empire furniture, African art, Grand Tour souvenirs, and Turkish textiles – things Hermes and I coveted - and sometimes even bought. Check out noted antiques dealer and writer, Angus Wilkie’s, essay on Tom.

Tom’s things cover the Stair ground floor and the auction house has installed the collection beautifully (which by the way is WAY HARD!). Weave your way around – and I guarantee there will be things you want Some of the highlights are a group of 19th century obelisks, a pair of large painted terracotta garden urns, English library steps, charming architectural models, Thai lacquer boxes, a Swedish neoclassical console and an array of table and floor lamps.


This is the living room of a guest house we built and decorated in Katonah. I can count six Noonan purchases in this shot.

What’s not to love?


A seated Bodhisattva in front of a remarkable faceted mirror.

Meanwhile, upstairs is MORE treasure from various owners. All in all – May 17 and May 18 will be good shopping days in Hudson.


A Chinese scholar’s rock on a very smart “modern” Neo Classical fruitwood chest with a 1950s wood screen behind.

Stair Galleries: The Confluence of Tom Noonan
549 Warren Street, Hudson
Previews through May 16
Auction May 17-18, 11 a.m.






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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/05/14 at 10:21 PM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye: A Social Media Surf Report

These blogs evolve – quickly – from one simple idea, in this case local online resources that are useful and/or amusing, into a crazed rant, this time on social media. Then I rein in, edit like a fiend, and the piece is still too long and way too “elastic”’ Or, per Hermes,“rambling and boring.”

Oh well.

Harsh realization: writing “nice’” about something — new restaurant, old historic house — really isn’t as much fun as picking an annoying topic and ranting.  Granted, one of the topics I could rant about are the ranters that have nothing nice to say, ever.

Do as I say, not as I do…


First – it’s for Old People now. The young and cool are leaving in droves and da Boomers have taken over. I miss the kids but I guess they were just too busy. (As I write this I see an article that Facebook is “unbundling to become nimbler.” So great minds think alike — they need Change with a capital C.)



Five is too many. Trust me — I know from personal experience.

I committed “Facebookacide” a few years ago. I’d dithered for months — love hate love hate — then I returned to town one Sunday night and there was a Friend Request from my brother’s fifth ex-wife. (“OMG… Noooo!”) That was the push I needed. In 30 seconds I was officially, and happily, off Facebook. 

Six months later, Hermes published his (damn) book, Great Houses of Havana, and to get a “commercial” page I had to reopen my personal page. There it was, glowing on the screen, that infamous last request, the last action taken.  I was back…

And I like it. I like the news pages (VICE, the New York Times).  I like reconnecting (actually had lunch with my college roommate after a 25-year hiatus).  I like the political orgs (Freedom to Marry, Media Matters, Being Liberal). I enjoy tempered users — infrequent, interesting posts — even my second cousin’s birthday. Short and sweet.

Now – the inevitable “but’”...


The Facebook ADD’ers (see one of my favorite resources, Urban Dictionary, for a full list of Facebook terms ) seem to have one focus in life: keeping us informed of their every move.  You would have thought they’d have burned out.  But no…

It’s a long way from FAT (Fresno Yosemite) to FUK (Fukuako, Japan) . I lost ten minutes of what’s left of my life looking up “dirty” airport codes on the International Air Transport System site.

I see what airport you are flying out of or into — not that I can tell where the hell you are going from three letters. I see when you change your profile picture — over and over — and I remember when you looked like that — hotter and younger — and it was decades ago. I see your recipes and know why your weight is an issue. I see your children and grandchildren and I pity all concerned.




And what is the birthday thing? Seems very forced and detached.  A bunch — or not — of joyful greetings with lots of exclamation points followed by a gracious “Thank you to all my friends. I feel so loved.”  OK….  if you say so….  Early on I cleverly/frantically updated my personal information at 11:45 p.m. on my birthday eve and dodged that bullet. I might see it’s your birthday on Facebook. But if I care, I send you an email.




And that line between professional and personal is crossed and re-crossed.  One guy I’m acquainted with has over 2,000 friends — mostly, I assume, business. I’ll bet over 50 percent of his posts include references to alcohol. “Is it too early for a Bloody Mary at LaGuardia?” he posts. If you have to ask….  I don’t block him; I’m waiting for the rehab post.


OK. OK.  I’m not done but I’ll stop.

Back to the original theme: useful Internet resources. These are a few websites I use frequently, local and beyond. 


First and most obvious, this one – Rural

After you read the new weekly offerings, scroll down to Instant Intelligence (great name!) for lots of current info on upcoming events, and links. Like any site, you have to take a few minutes and dig a bit to see what they offer. In RI’s case, there’s gold in them thar archives, including lots of party pictures.

Click on this box from the home page.

For the non readers, there’s the Rural Intelligence Report on Robinhood Radio (tagline: “slightly off … but very good.”) 

(Editor’s note: That’s all, Carey? I mean, really…)



Stair Galleries puts their auction catalogs online a couple of weeks before the sale. Pre-shop from home,  but make every effort to actually see (and touch) the things you want in person. (I have too many stories on that subject. It was Hermes who firmly established the “Do Not Buy It Unless You Have Touched It” rule.)

Shop Warren Street in Hudson from the comfort of your bedroom.  Sign up for Lots of the best local dealers are on this site.


All the local real estate guys have websites but I usually go to Zillow  for my late-night property shopping.  I love the way the site lets me see exactly where I am looking.  Location location location.


Ok,  this little blog concept could morph into a book. So here’s an idea — homework!  (Homework??? I sense a universal mouse movement up to the back button). Share the sites you use. Feel free to add ideas at the Rural Intelligence Facebook page (this one I like) and maybe we can do a followup blog. 







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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/22/14 at 08:53 AM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye: A Palm Springs Primer

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield…as in Palm Springs afield.

Our little home away from home.

Last week we were in Palm Springs for my birthday. The stars aligned and our BFF Barbara gave us her house and we got seats on the once-a-week direct flight.

Our pad is called “Casablanca.” One NYC acquaintance came by for a drink and insinuated the name was jokey.

A good Oscar is a great accessory.

Then he saw the Best Picture Oscar for Casablanca on a bookshelf and suddenly was happily hashtagging #casablanca on Instagram.

The bar for holiday discourse was set pretty low (note spelling).

The house is wonderfully laid out, with all the bedrooms opening directly onto the pool courtyard. It’s decorated with things from her parents’ houses (Billy Haines and Maison Jansen), from her pre M (Group) days (Jay Spectre and Fanny Brice), until we got in there, added M (Group) stuff, and stirred it all up.

So this month, here are a few of our favorite things out in the desert. Rural Intelligence likes me to focus locally, but my eye wanders globally.  And so many people are visiting Palm Springs these days. This blog is my new advice package.

A piece of unsolicited advice: Don’t ask your “knowledgeable” friend — me —  for travel suggestions, then ignore all the ideas and complain later about places I never suggested.

Would you buy a used car from this man?

Do not compound the issue with the (stupid) line, “The concierge at The Parker said blah blahblah…” Listen to a concierge and you get what you deserve. The Parker ain’t the Ritz.


The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Okay, this idea was a winner. Since we had a Palm Springs neophyte, I thought we’d take the tram up to the top of the mountain. Fun tourist thing — we did it many, many moons ago. It’s so close to the house and so novel, what’s not to love? And the views must be spectacular… 8,500 feet up.

The happy crew, $100 lighter (huh?) in our $27 (huh?) pre-departure photo op.

Eleven minutes doesn’t sound like a long time. This is a treat, right? Fun? Well, on that effing tram, 11 minutes becomes an eternity. A mile-and-a-half up, it sways and swerves towards staggering huge granite walls.

OMG. We are gonna die….

And the interior cab revolves as it rises, adding an extra level of disorientation and terror. By minute five our guest was semi-fetal, clutching a pole with his hat pulled down and his eyes closed. I spent my 11 minutes watching him with barely disguised glee. He has now officially been punished for (almost) all past transgressions.

Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall

Okay, it’s an outlet mall. But it is 20 minutes from our house and it’s a California “premium” outlet mall. Big, clean and easy to navigate. You must follow these simple directions. ALWAYS and ONLY get there by 10:30 a.m. (opens at 9 for holidays and 10 normally) and you will be walking out at noon, against a growing wave of Pacific Rim shoppers. Until noon, you own the place. After noon — horrors…

Yea! A welcome new addition to the outlet lineup. Power walk the circuit.


We are in and out of places fast. Etro, LoroPiana, Tse, Tods, Barney’s (good socks). Drop off those bags in car trunk and continue to St Laurent, Gucci, Brunello Cucinelli, Clarks, J Crew, Bose — on and on.




The Galleria on Palm Canyon

The best shops in a great building. Our friend Jim and his tenants are the smartest things in town. Art, antiques, books, vintage clothes.

Me and my book party window. I was so proud! And they’ve flogged over a 100 copies — my retail heroes.


Here are Hermes and our hostess admiring the STUFF window The Galleria did for a book party. They got the Book Promotion Award.



Bon Vivant

I love this. LOVE. From Bon Vivant.

We always buy something here. That statement in itself should get you in the door. Last trip, I got a fab little bronze Chihuahua ashtray by John Foster. It was so good my hostess guilted me into giving it to her. A year later she relented and gave it back to me for my birthday. Great prices and Patrick and James are nice guys.



Cardenas Grocery Store

Mexican Coke with real sugar…the best.

A recent discovery: A huge Mexican grocery store. I hate food shopping and I love this place. Such nice staff — when I asked for bunuelos the lovely lady ‘splained how it would be very easy to make my own. She was so pretty and sweet I didn’t even laugh.

We now do all our grocery shopping here. There is so much to see (A tortilla factory! The pinata department! The Mexican Village façade in produce!) that I stay out of Hermes’ hair. I become one of those “unattended children” running around. Or I just stand there watching the show, dumbfounded, which is what I got “looks” for last time. El Jefe says he keeps waiting to hear his name over the PA system, calling him to Lost and Found.


Fine and not so fine. But fun

El Mirasol South , aka El Queerasol — very Palm Springs.

  El Mirasol Norte at the Los Arboles Hotel

Tout Palm Springs shows up. They say. We never see anyone. Pretty lame food (sorry! but it is) but it scratches our Mexican food itch. Go to the Norte. Eat outside. (Once our friend Carl was Suzanne Summers’ houseguest. They showed up at El Mirasol South with Merv Griffin, Neil Sedaka, Dianna Ross and Cher. He said that was one stunned restaurant.)

Ace Hotel Coffee Shop

We like this place. Good food, good menu (not too long) and there always seems to be a table. The motel is very snappy — fun, sophisticated design.

We resisted the Ace (trendy and young) then embraced it (trendy and young).


Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

Last Saturday, as we were leaving for the airport and passed Sherman’s, Hermes said, “My only regret this trip was not having German chocolate cake.” As regrets go….

That cake is sick. And not good sick. Just sick. Sweet and huge. We always share a slice. It’s one of his only bad habits.

We’ve seen this gentleman at Sherman’s. Festive or frightening? A fine line.

Before that cake we share the enormous chopped salad. We aren’t the sharing food type, “Are you kidding? It’s mine. Order your own dessert.” But you’re nuts not to share at Sherman’s.

So, some ideas. Pick a place with a good pool and you won’t really want to do much anyway. We have a good time in the Coachella Valley and return East with complete desert burnout,  probably with lower blood pressure, but definitely a bit dumber. Works for me.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/24/14 at 10:15 AM • Permalink

The Wandering Eye: Back At The Porch

Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence early on to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield. Here he returns to the original inspiration for the blog, and picks up on the design trail with an update on the porches.

Hermes and I enjoy our upstate projects – a big old spread in Rhinebeck we renovated from stem to stern, our next-door neighbor’s, and even our own house — not that we do much renovating there.  We have nice contractors, and they have nice sub contractors, and the pricing is tame compared to Manhattan or LA.  So we are enjoying our neighbor’s project as it chugs to completion.

The river façade is almost done — waiting for the “uppers.”

You may remember that I first started writing for Rural Intelligence in 2008, documenting the renovation of the handsome 1860’s Italianate house next door to us, and contributed several blog posts about the porches. For the back story, please check out the ‘history’ of the porch renovation in past blogs. “The Porches: New and Improved” and “The Porches: The Design Phase Heats Up.”

And indeed, the porches are moving along.  Not at the pace I would have chosen… I loves me a Fast Track job.  But everyone else seems pleased so who am I to impose my standards? (Hahahaha!!!  That is so funny!)


The Plan.

The heavy lifting is done.  As you can see from the blueprints, the base is complete and only the upper rows of balustrades are in the works.  There was talk that the uppers were overkill; this talk wasn’t Hermes or me, of course.  Sometimes overkill is good!  We have the added ammo of a vintage photograph of the house with the uppers. (“Look! Proof!!! What more do you people want from me!?”)

Take the Way Back Machine to the 1920s — there were porches and awnings

Seeing the entrances without them makes it pretty obvious they need to be done.  They “raise the tone,” as it were. 

The mahogany should stand up to the tests of time.

That woodwork is beautifully executed.  Mahogany painted a lovely Donald Kaufman Color Collection white.  Although I am spoiled by Don’s custom color work, we often opt for his “off the rack” colors for exterior work — makes touchup or repainting easier than a custom color.

Frankie is our building inspector. Nothing gets past him.

After the upper balustrades get done, the rest of the woodwork, all the way up, will get a fresh coat of paint.  The old beautiful brick with its thin cement lines is wonderful so the white I chose is much softer than the old “dead white;” it’s a warmish white that is sort of recessive. 

This porch is built for the long haul. It will get a beating from the weather and the sun, facing west with nothing much between us and the Catskills to deaden the onslaught.

Washington Irving hit the nail on the head with the bowling analogy. The thunder rolls up the river — it’s wild.

The Hudson Valley weather systems hammer us — it is completely Rip Van Winkle bowling balls as the thunder rolls up the valley.


Hermes designed nifty structural glass panels above the cellar windows.  They allow for some natural light down there. (BTW – “down there” is huge. Super outdoor furniture storage and potting area.  Love it.)

The glass freaks him out.  And not much freaks Frankie out.

The storm windows are being pitched out so the windows can operate fully (they rise up into tall recesses) and we can walk through them. It’s all about opening things up and getting as much light as we can.  Given the size and number of the windows, this isn’t that hard.


Meanwhile, inside the house, the former pantry and breakfast room have been gutted and are being turned into a kitchen and breakfast room.

The future kitchen with great windows and ceiling height.

The kitchens in these old houses were originally in the basements and when this house was renovated in the 1960s the owners installed a prosaic suburban kitchen and, oddly, kept it underground.

His eye level and our eye level are vastly different experiences.

There were a couple of windows and it wasn’t horrible. In fact, Pancho, my late Chihuahua, liked the subterranean location: he could stand outside and be at eye level with the cook, which was key to his plaintive begging.


With three big windows and 14- foot ceilings, we are off to a good start. The photo is the gutted space. It’ll end up with a vestibule with a large coat closet (it is off the front hall, close to the entrance) and a powder room.  And a biggish kitchen and a nice breakfast room that opens onto the dining porch.  They don’t know it yet, but moving from below grade to this aerie will be huge for the family. HUGE.

The rooms will be paneled up to a very high plate rail.  We haven’t come up with the “scheme” yet — stone and paint colors will come soon.  It’ll be very traditional and hopefully very appropriate to the house.

The dining room, next to the breakfast room, is “done.” The windows are triple sash and rise waaaay up.

We aim for the evolutionary look that the houses along our stretch have. Multiple renovations by multiple generations can look like a hodgepodge. Or, as it will with this house, they can have charm and a bit of quirkiness. 

This is, of course, the worst time of the year to take pictures of the exterior of a house. Brutalized grass, messy snow patches, barren trees.  (It is also the best time to house shop. See that potential new house at its worst — the best!).  In the snapshots you can see the new walkways, beds and trees.  Our favorite landscape architects, Kelly, Varnell, Virgona came in the early fall and knocked out the first phase of hardscape and landscape.

The dining porch on the south side of the house will have great light all day.

Happily, there was a treasure trove of big old slabs of bluestone stacked in a barn — so much better than new (although, in a few years, new looks prettyold.).  And we mixed in some gravel; we love a gravel path — the look, the feel and the sound.

So that is the February update.  When you see this place next, it’ll have all its woodwork, all its new paint, and all that plant material will be thriving!

The landscape plan, sadly without color —KVV does pretty colored renderings.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/21/14 at 03:52 PM • Permalink