August 6, 2009
When Amy Jones, Brooklyn’s rapidly rising interior design star informed me of her upcoming trip to Dallas, I quickly offered my tour guide assistance and I knew that the Lower Oak Lawn district was the perfect fit for the occasion.
Known for her transformation of stark DUMBO lofts into cozy nests for the young, hip and design conscious, her rooms are urban with a heavy dash of warm, laid-back country style. As a nod to Amy’s style, we started the day at the Alexan condos on Hi Line drive and my friend Jen was more than ecstatic to show off her new digs.
We instantly began drooling as we entered the 1000 square foot space. Flooded with light and chic contemporary finishes, you almost forgot to look at the expansive views of uptown and downtown Dallas (though they are just are just as breathtaking).
Brunch was delivered by Translations, a quaint European bistro and market on the border of LOL (us locals refer to Lower Oak Lawn by this cheeky little acronym). Gabbing about all things design while noshing on eggs benedict and steamed asparagus is definitely my ideal brunch!
Eventually we crossed the street to begin our journey on LOL. First stop was Herman Miller, filled with all the quintessential mid-century goods a designer could yearn for. You can’t leave here without something Eames so Amy snagged one of their iconic lounge chairs (with matching ottoman) and arranged for it to be upholstered in one of their many supple leather choices. I finally caved in and ordered 6 (yes, 6!) of the molded plastic chairs pictured below.
Before we could walk more than two yards, we were in the Ann Sacks showroom which has to be one of the greatest collections of glass tiles on the entire planet. Some women love Louboutin, I love pieces of glass tile in every color imaginable. I will try to refrain from ranting about my desire to cover my entire house with Sacks’ collection of hand-painted tiles!
We cross the street and Amy takes off with wild abandonment. She spotted the Renaissance Tile window display and stood frozen with delight. Like a child’s first visit to the 5th Avenue FAO Schwartz store…they just stand there, jaw dropped waiting to enter its magical doors. I introduce Amy to the promise land: the Decorative Center. 7,500 square feet of pure design bliss and at least 100 floor installations. There is nothing you can’t find in this building especially when you have places like Scott & Cooner, Pettigrew Associates and Artemide there to make your biggest dreams come true.
And I have to mention the Miramar chaises from Janus cet Cie. My love for their chaises is beyond words mostly due to the 6 days I spent lounging on them at the Las Ventanas Hotel in Los Cabos, last spring.
Hours pass and we move on before Amy spends her IRA. We stop in at the Conduit Gallery which is always teeming with interesting contemporary art and artists happy to engage in conversation with patrons. Still in the first two blocks of the district, Amy can’t believe we have yet to get in a car (she thought Texans had to drive everywhere).
After Conduit, we pick up lattes and lemon bars from Koffi, a locally owned coffee shop on the edge of the LOL park. The park is filled with 100 year-old elm trees that stretch into the air providing a cool canopy from the Texas sun. The perfect place to recharge between shopping sprints and gallery jaunts, we settle into the cushy grass and watch a couple of French bulldogs sunbathe as Amy scribbles ideas in her Moleskine notebook.
No visit to the district would be complete without a stop at its antique shops. The prices in these shops are dreamy and so is the stock. From 18th century French chandeliers to Murano glass vases, you can find everything here including 25+ vintage European motorcycles. And I can’t help but mention one of my favorite shops: B. Gover Limited. I’m a complete Francophile and this shop instantly transports me to Montmarte. Rustic French trestle tables, delicate painted birdcages, French lab and apothecary glass…I could go on but you should just stop in and visit Barb because no words could do this heaven justice.
Intense shopping induces hunger and thankfully we were in the LOL district where the quality of restaurants is unmatched. Starting with cocktails at the tapas restaurant Tamarindo, the atmosphere was Dallas at its best: casual but stylish, warm and invigorating. Four sangrias, an order of semolina flat bread with fig jam and crostatas topped with grilled eggplant was just the beginning of our gastronomic journey.
As a die-hard Texan it was imperative that I show Amy (a Yankee) some Texas hospitality and cooking which led us to Sam’s, a gastropub specializing in new-Texas cuisine. Without an once of guilt we dug into the pan-fried meatloaf and whiskey & brown sugar ribs. We finished dinner with strawberry rhubarb pie and Texas martini’s. Amy was so stuffed with strawberries that she could barely mutter the statement that let me know my itinerary was a success: “I love LOL!”
As we left Sam’s we were greeted by a lively night in the district. People were falling out of the Dragon street galleries, chattering about all the great contemporary art lining the streets. The evening was cool, the crowd welcoming and of course, it tickled me hot pink that Amy said “This reminds me of Soho”.
Our last stop of the night was at Casablanca, the new Moroccan restaurant and lounge near the edge of Dragon street. Casablanca fit us like a cashmere-lined glove. We sipped on St. Germaine Elderflower cocktails and Amy gushed over all the design, art and food she had consumed without even having to start a car engine. Mission accomplished! My guest was stuffed full of all the LOL had to offer and she fell in love with it…just like me!
A few years back I read an article about the growing number of people suffering from internet addiction. Yes, internet addiction. And after I finished laughing at the expense of unknown others, an eerie and ironic thought settled in: Am I addicted to the internet? Quickly, I summarized how I’d spent the last 4 days…on the internet. To say I was just “on the internet” is a massive understatement. I could easily spend 10 hours at the computer; googling with glee as I absorbed every piece of random information, passing that information to friends, finding new friends and eventually picking up a slew of new hobbies taught to me via the world wide web!
Of course, I had a minor breakdown once I figured out how much time I was spending online. And I proceeded to spend more countless hours on the internet looking for commentary on “unplugging yourself” and “simplifying my lifestyle”. I tried some of the techniques and then in true circular fashion, returned back to the internet excited to share everything I had found during my unplugged moments.
Eventually, I decided that there was no real need to unplug. I wasn’t a total shut-in; I had plenty of relationships that existed outside of the virtual world. I still consumed the mountain of periodicals that arrived in my mailbox and most importantly, I was a photographer and that required me to spend a ton of time interacting with the “real world”. The largest epiphany was that I had spent a majority of my life on a computer and I rationalized that this truth was responsible for making me the well-rounded individual I am today (see how easy it is to rationalize anything!).
Thanks to my gadget-loving parents, I have had access to a computer and a plethora of software since the age of 4. In the beginning it was educational games and playing with the scraps of perforated paper from that loud (and now seemingly very dated) printer. Then it was my first email address, which at the time seemed far cooler than the personal telephone line that all of my peers were begging their parents for. Next and probably the most important was Prodigy.
Oh, Prodigy chat rooms you will never know how much you meant to a 14 year old girl in 1996. It seemed as if the whole world was at my keyboard and I can’t even fathom how many summer nights were spent wrapped in the glow of that blazing white screen with blue and red text. Chat rooms were the ultimate party to me…especially since I was only 14 and didn’t have many parties to attend (except for those always fun Bar & Bat Mitzvah’s).
Within a year, a personal telephone line was almost unnecessary (instead I was asking for “personal” computers) because
AOL launched instant messenger. In hindsight I can thank AOL IM for taking my typing skills to new heights! In the ol’ days, we spoke and typed with real, full words…emoticons were very limited and “LOL” was just a baby; “OMG” wasn’t even a fetus. Chat rooms and instant messenger taught me to type with a vigorous speed only seen by frantic college students with a term paper due in a hour. If I was going to hold my own in a political debate chat room I had to type quick!
It wasn’t until 2003 that my social media circle expanded beyond my wildest dreams and it all started with an account on Friendster. Friendster was hip, too hip in my opinion. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Friendster (and eventually, American Apparel) is responsible for the infamous “hipster” and it’s widely publicized ways of being. You had to be invited to be on Friendster and thanks to an outrageously cool DJ out of Austin, I was asked to join this group of tattooed, artsy, always ironic and donning chucks and Buddy Holly glasses crew.
Friendster was cool and everyone showed their cool through their lists of underground music, film and literary loves. But then a new crew showed up and its platform was bigger, better and a lot more fun: Myspace. I jumped on the Myspace train on October 27, 2003 and within months; it consumed a majority of my leisure computer time. All of a sudden, I was connected to what seemed like the entire world. I could promote my art exhibitions, find new artists to collaborate with, view pictures from last night’s party and consume more social information than I could handle. It seemed as if my whole life could be summarized into interests, favorite music, favorite movies, comments and a friend list that included this mysterious guy named Tom.
And I’m pretty sure that you know the rest of this story. Now there are a million resources at my disposal. I indulge in everything from the services mentioned in this post to at least 7 resources in the image to the right. Not to mention new services that have popped up in the last year (hint: I love social bookmarking and image posting like FFFound!) But beyond being resources they have connected me to the world. I love that social media is largely responsible for changing how people connect to presidential candidates and their campaigns. I love that moms went nuts about Twitter & Facebook after Oprah announced her jump into social media. I love that I feel like there is nothing I can’t learn as long as I can google. I love blogs about blogging and blogs about nothing and blogs about everything. I love that my number of google hits or my blog traffic is how I partially define career success. I love that there is a community for every person on this planet and that it can be accessed with a few keystrokes. I love that YouTube has applauded the quirkiness of people. I love that millions of people find solace, fame, comfort, laughter and a million things in between just by typing a few words.
In short, after 23 years on the computer, I am blown away at the value it has brought to my life. Clearly, I gave up on
“unplugging” (I just love blogging far too much) but I did buy a netbook so I could be uber-mobile in my internet adventures!