Lineaus Hooper Lorette, 66, a gay Communist accountant, makes $425 custom medicine
balls from his workshop in Marfa, Texas. Using full-grained leather from a Wisconsin
tannery and the same tannage as a baseball glove, he can turn out two balls
a day, filling them with soft-cotton thread. “It’s amazing how heavy
a ball full of cotton can be,” says Lorette, who likes its cooperative
nature. “You need someone to catch it and return it.” And as for
a Communist creating a decidedly elitist medicine ball? “The proletariat
is working,” says Lorette. “They don’t have to exercise.”
A ten-inch medicine ball from the Lineaus Athletic Company costs $425; a
16-inch is $800; lineausathletic.com.
Among the winners of the Royal Institute of British Architects 2011 RIBA Awards are a few brilliant buildings one can actually sleep in. The cantilevered Balancing Barn (rooms, from $40, above), in Suffolk, and the Shingle House (rooms, from $35), a small barn-like structure on the scenic Dungeness beach in Kent, are part of the Living Architecture program, which offers design-savvy travelers cutting-edge shelters. living-architecture.co.uk.
Ducati’s collaboration with Tumi captures the sexiness and speed of the motorcycle master without looking like BMX memorabilia. This Quattroporte Extended Trip Case is a roller board, at last, with flair. $695; tumi.com.
The Aria cruise ship. Photo by Aqua Expeditions/Hans Stoll
Aqua Expeditions, one of the two high-end cruise companies plying the Peruvian Amazon, just launched its second boat, the Aria. There are only 16 suites, each with panoramic views, as well as an elegant restaurant and a sun deck with a Jacuzzi, making it tempting to stay up top, sipping pisco sours as the jungle hums by. From $2,550 for three nights; aquaexpeditions.com.
Photo courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
In French, the word hôtel may be masculine, but the new Mandarin Oriental, which opened in late June and is the chain’s first in Paris, pays homage to the eternal feminine. In the heart of the First Arrondissement, the property’s 99 rooms and 39 suites were designed by Sybille de Margerie as spacious yet intimate boudoirs, complete with Man Ray’s The Kiss rendered in crimson velvet on the walls and on the headboards. Each room overlooks either an indoor garden or the bustling Rue St.-Honoré. But to stay en chambre is a mistake: Chef Thierry Marx serves what he calls “techno-emotional” cuisine—calf’s sweetbread spaghetti and soy risotto, for example—at his virginally white restaurant Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx, while the spa, all pearls and pinks, offers the Mandarin’s signature treatments like the Guerlain Orchidée Impériale facials. Rooms start at $1,095; 33-1/70-98-78-88; mandarinoriental.com.
Singita Game Reserves, the hallmark for luxe safari lodges, has launched a fully mobile tented camp. The mobility brings visitors out of the air-conditioning and into nature, with complete privacy and greater access to the wildebeests, leopards and lions. But comfort isn’t sacrificed either: Each camp also includes a dining area, an on-site chef and hot showers. From $2,600 for two nights; singita.com.
A portrait of the young editor as a dining companion. Photo Courtesy of the author
An occasional column in which we eat dinner out at a good restaurant with interesting people and then, at a later date, write about the experience.
Characters: Joann Sfar, the director of Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, an impressionistic biography of Serge Gainsbourg, the French singer profiled in our September issue. Also there: Karen Cooper, the impish founder of Film Forum (where the film will premiere August 31); Ed Arentz, the Richard Branson and Dustin Hoffman lookalike managing director of Music Box Films (the film's distributor); a few other cinema grandees; and lastly, me, a Departures editor and a huge fan of Gainsbourg—both the man and the movie.
Where:Hundred Acres, a rather nice New American restaurant in New York's SoHo, from the owners of the more ambitious Cookshop and the less ambitious Five Points. The waiters have beards and tattoos; the steak is served in a skillet; cornbread happens; succotash is deconstructed (or so it says on the menu).
Scene: By the time I arrived at dinner, Sfar—a dead ringer for a short-haired Antonio Banderas, though Sfar's provenance is Pied-Noir (father) and Ukrainian (mother) —already had his sketchbook out. "Oh my God," said Suzanne, the very exuberant woman next to me, noting the sketchings. "Fellini always did that!" Sfar started his career as a graphic novelist, often exploring themes of French and Eastern European Jewry. Gainsbourg, which also explores those issues, is Sfar's first film, though he has others in the works. "One is about liberals not being generous," he said mischievously, "but it's set in the 1800s." Earlier this summer, when I interviewed Sfar over the phone for Departures, I mentioned I had a tattoo of Gainsbourg on my back (it's true) from the singer's album Rock Around the Bunker. Shortly after sitting down, Sfar asked to see it. I disrobed—partially! —to show him. He was very excited. "You are," he said, with a charming accent, "a postmodern Jew! In France, Jews never have tattoos." Then he set about sketching me, which was distracting but also nice. Per Sfar's aesthetic I emerged on paper, multi-faced and with a prominent Semitic beak, much like—to my pleasure—our mutual hero, Serge Gainsbourg.
American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement