Culture / Comments. By Dish Stanley

Culture / Comments. By Dish Stanley

. 18 min read

A place to share loose thoughts & stray ramblings on what's happening. It's a new thing! Stay tuned as it evolves.

A WSJ poll on what is sexy in men's style yields dull (read: unsexy) responses. The results won't turn you on.

WSJ's recent article Men's Style: What's Sexy, What's Not? Our Poll Results May Surprise You, just dropped yesterday and it is anything but surprising. The reporting is based on a "nationally representative sample" of more than 2,000 adults taken earlier this month. Let me save you the trouble of reading what you already know. What's not sexy on men? Short shorts, ankles, baggy clothing, red clothing (one wonders how red, in particular, came up) and jewelry. Leaving one to two buttons undone on a dress shirt is sexy, but three? Not so much. What did WSJ respondents find sexy? "Biceps" are the sexiest body part. "A James Dean style t-shirt with well-fitting jeans" is the sexiest outfit (with a suit being runner-up). Black clothes are considered sexy (I'm shocked!), as are glasses.

They stubbed their collective toes on some things. A couple of things that the respondents got entirely wrong IMHO relate to men's footwear. They say Birkenstocks on men aren't sexy. I would quibble with that because I think some men can pull them off with the right outfit (relaxed comfort) and in the right context (like a summer music festival).  In fact, I recently caught up over coffee with a stylish male friend - he's handsome, fit, well-groomed and tends toward an urban, updated clean, modern classic look. I asked him to share his views on Birks. "They've reached classic status and I think they're a solid look with jeans and a crisp white tee, for instance." He wears them, in other words. He's sexy. Enough said.

The other area where the respondents got off on the wrong foot?  Only 22% of the respondents think men over 50 look sexy in sneakers. WTF? Those respondents are waaaaaay out of touch. Men over 50 look super hot in a pair of sneakers, WSJ people. Especially if they're cool in some way (for instance, these minimal, clean and dark Oliver Cabell's look great with jeans and a classic navy cashmere sweater). Classics like a pair of Nike's with a simple swoosh would also work. I recently went for coffee with a very handsome gentleman who was wearing On Cloud sneakers without socks, paired with classic cotton khaki shorts, a comfortably worn-in polo (no label) and a go0d-l00king, straightforward (but not ostentatious) watch. To my eyes he looked very, very fine. Sexy even. The Birkenstock-wearing friend noted above favors New Balance sneakers with jeans. As a performance sneaker, they read "slightly more athletic" than your average street Nike's. That fits his personality. Let's say a guy is coming over for a casual one-on-one dinner at your place. Since it's not a dinner party, personally I'd love to see him show up in something that reads I made an effort (since I'm cooking him dinner) and I pulled myself together -- but I'm also relaxed. Sneakers with some well-fitting jeans and a crisp shirt say just that.

And let's not forget the sneakerheads. Statement sneakers are so confident (read: hot) for men, and as a way to show abundant personal style they're easy and fun. The instagram account of @jaadiee, where photographer Jannik takes shots of his sneakerhead grandfather are all the proof you need. Admittedly, he goes further than your typical sneakerhead but he's got the strut to pull it off. And obviously, his wife is into it. Would you want to grab a drink with him? Yes! He looks confident, interesting and warm. End of discussion.

All of which brings us to the biggest gripe I have with WSJ's poll. A defined, confident personal style that aligns with a man's personality is sexy. It says "I know who I am and what I'm into." In contrast, the poll responses are dull, predictable, dated and formulaic. They box men in, sadly, when men already have narrower sartorial options for self-expression than women. Formulaic is only hot when it is a formula that a particular man has developed for himself that says who he is. A guy who has that is as sexy as it comes.

Speaking of bland, so far Season 2 of And Just Like That is just like Season 1. I mean, it might be a little better, but there's no magic. I'm two episodes in, so this is an early take. Each of the main characters has her own "diverse friend," which is so cringe, but the new characters seem to be (mostly) woven into the plot a little better in this season. The new AJLT characters played by Nicole Ari Parker and Sarita Choudhury fold in particularly well, and Chris Jackson is a scene stealer as a devoted husband. But now it feels like there are too many characters to follow and too much jumping around. I will watch the whole thing because (as you know) the subject matter - friendships among fifty-somethings - is so important to me and I want to see how they get depicted in popular culture. And I love New York. But I can't help but feel that there is a missed opportunity here because the show is not compelling. And the subject matter really is. Stay tuned.

The Bear Season 2 is streaming on hulu and I can't wait to check it out. I haven't yet because I want to do it when I have some real time. But I am already seeing in early reviews that is a strong, star-studded cast, Jamie Lee Curtis's performance as Carny's grief-stricken Mother stands out. You get the feeling, from this photo alone, right?

I hear that Love & Death, the new Max series, is worth checking out. The critics are respectful but not fanning over this true crime series, but the few friends who have watched it already say that this story about "ordinary" Texas neighbors in the 1980's who have an affair – until one of their respective spouse's turns up dead – is a great binge.

Beautiful, inviting and finely curated, gotham is the cannabis store we needed.

I checked out the buzzy new store gotham on its opening day this week. And wow! I predict you're going to be hearing a lot more about this concept cannabis store in the East Village. Not only because it is one of the first stores in NYC to get a license to sell cannabis from the City's Office of Cannabis Management, but because it is a beautiful, sophisticated, upscale and cultured experience. Think Apple store meets John Derian meets Butterfield Market.

Founder Joanne Wilson is a retail veteran who knows how to put together all the pieces, from the visual space to the merchandising to the marketing. For anyone interested in her exhilirating journey in pulling her gotham project together, including being among the first to score a coveted cannabis license, Wilson shares her twisty story here. I had invested alongside Wilson in a very early cannabis start-up based in San Francisco almost seven years ago, so I know firsthand that she has been passionate about the space as an early mover.

gotham is as much a lifestyle and culture offering as it is about selling a well-curated selection of cannabis products. Walking into gotham feels like the pop of de-corking a fine bottle of champagne: fizzy, bright and electric with possibility. The staff is enormously friendly and well-educated about the cannabis product line. One shared a story about her trip to visit Marijuana Farms New York, one of the lines from an upstate farm that gotham carries. Everything gotham carries is premium, small-batch and artisinal, which makes the exploration of new products feel safe.

I went home with a lot of wonderful things to try, including the exquisitely packaged pre-rolls from Drew Martin (I am trying Be Bright and Be Open, because who wouldn't want to be?), and a selection of gummies from rose (delights and 1:1) and mfny (tangerine fritter (for arousal) and pillowtalk (for sleep)). I can't wait. Finally, a place where we can shop for cannabis that feels like it is designed to include cannabis users of all ages. gotham is an inviting place that I'll be going back to.

A closer look at the some of the gotham products.
easy on Netflix

I Don't Know How I Missed Easy, a drama-comedy series based in Chicago about real people in realistic love, sex and relationship scenarios that came out in 2016. But damn, I am enjoying it now. Quirky, immersive, funny, authentic, it tells the awkward and beautiful relationship stories of a series of people who feel real. The opening episode humorously and honestly confronts the fading sex life of a long-married middle-aged couple with kids. A recurring theme is the altogether common phenomenon of losing yourself - your sense of identity, interests, friends - after merging with another. I love this series all the more because it eschews the ubiquitous "rom com" picture of love, sex and relationships and instead reveals stories of love that help us realize that we've got is the real thing, after all.


The Great on Hulu

The 3rd Season of The Great Is Out. And I haven't watched it yet, but the trailer is delectable.

Culture / Comments. By Dish Stanley

Let's call this our "April in New York" Edition.

Mostly because I was in New York this week.

The water feature in Terminal B, snapped off of the Terminal B website.

I am a big fan of the renovated Terminal B at La Guardia Airport. I have flown through it at least 20 times since it opened in October 2022 (I fly JetBlue a lot in and out of NYC), so "Ask Me Anything." It's a far walk to the gates and the airport food, while better than a lot of airport food, is not the best airport food there is (its apex is Shake Shack) but the entrance is playful and light and airy and I love the relaxing water feature after you exit security. Terminal B's true gift, though, is the McNally Jackson bookstore's outpost (near gates 40-59 on the Departures level).

McNally Jackson's "Staff Picks" raise bookstore rec's to an art form. It's not just because waiting for a delayed flight is the perfect time to indulge in serious, productive book browsing. McNally Jackson has absolutely - hand's down - the best "Staff Picks" of any bookstore anywhere. Are they sharing the "best of" of their Staff Picks from their main stores in Manhattan in their Terminal B location? I couldn't say, but their Staff Picks were without exception pithy, opinionated, clever, descriptive works of literary accomplishment. A lot of "almost famous" writers must work there, because these Staff Picks elevate the form. (I double-checked because I thought for a second that I remembered that Patti Smith worked there, but no she worked at Scribner's.) Take a look:

Did I buy this? Of course.

I particularly love that I'd never find Daddy's Gone A-Hunting if it weren't a Staff Pick, since it is from 1958 and not on any "new releases" shelves.

With that description how could I not get this one?

When I got home I learned from Negar Azimi's review from 2021 in the New York Times that In Case of Emergency published in Iran in 2008 and its counter-culture subject matter and vivid street prose made its success unlikely. That it captures the chaos of Iran at a cross-section and was a huge success.

And what about this one? I picked it up, too.

I am on a continual prowl to find a writer who writes about sex as well as James Salter in A Sport and a Pastime, so I pick up a lot of erotic literature.

This one looks like it has potential, too.

The only thing I wish McNally Jackson would do is include the name of the staff person on each card. It could be useful to know who is writing these.

Richter's "Abstract Painting" on the left; ink and pencil on paper on the right. Taken at David Zwirner gallery.

In Chelsea, I saw Gerhard Richter's latest paintings and drawings at David Zwirner's gallery. In his 90's now, Richter's work is smaller in scale (he made many earlier paintings while balancing on a ladder) but intense and mesmerizing. The paintings were vivacious; the drawings were moody, groovy black and whites. Richter is considered one of the world's greatest living painters, and I was so hot to see his latest works while he's still alive. So glad I did. We sometimes wonder whether we'll slow down as we get (even) older, but then somebody even older than us paints or produces or performs something of this caliber. It's inspiring.

Jason Fox's "Friend" at David Kordansky gallery.

I then saw Jason Fox's "Old Wrld" exhibit at David Kordansky's gallery. What a blast. I can't think of a better way to describe his "wild imagination" (from Andrea K. Scott in the New Yorker). I was unfamiliar with Fox, but a gallery lecturer filled me in. Among other things, he takes popular culture  figures and combines them to create a third form. The photo I share here is of his painting titled  "Friend," and the lecturer suggested it might be a painted image of George Harrison spliced with an animalistic form. The photo doesn't do it justice; you have to go.

I've seen a lot of stirring acts at Cafe Carlyle but the Alan Cumming & Ari Shapiro show I saw last week wasn't one of them. Who can really afford the Cafe Carlyle? Not me, not most of us really. Yet I've somehow managed to see Bobby Short, Elaine Strich, Eartha Kitt, Dixie Carter, Barbara Cook, John Pizzarelli and about a dozen other acts there. The combination of the intimacy of the space, the walls clothed in Vertes murals and the caliber of the performers has meant (with few exceptions) it's been an exhilarating uptown experience. The secret to affording it, by the way, is to reserve a bar seat so you don't have to order the outrageously expensive and mediocre dinner on top of the cost of your ticket.

But the bar tip secret? It's a really good one. It's not what I wanted to tell you though. What I wanted to tell you was that I was surprised to be disappointed by the Alan Cumming-Ari Shapiro show. Here's what I wrote in my Substack Note: "It had humor, insight, tenderness and gobs of talent. Alan Cumming is a world-class raconteur … and yet, there was just too much talking." I'll add that, as my friend "Peter" (who has been a NYC culture critic for 20+ years) pointed out after the show, Cumming is one of the most talented entertainers alive today, but the show felt canned, "phoned-in" as he put it.

I first saw Cumming in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Klub in 1998 where he won a Tony for playing the Master of Ceremonies. He is brilliant, but just not on that night. It was a disappointment, but heck, he's only human.

Central Park in April was the star of the trip. If you are going to New York in April, stay near Central Park. There are so many great parts of the city to explore, and I often find myself exploring downtown (for the great jazz, restaurants and galleries) or uptown-uptown (for the great jazz and restaurants in Harlem), but in April Central Park is the shining star. I was in the park every single day. Instead of meeting for drinks or a meal, I was getting together with friends over a walk in the park. The cherry blossoms were peak, the greenery was as bright as fresh peas, the kids were playing and the atmosphere was alive with music.

Walking out of the Park down the quiet, tree-lined 69th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues) I came across the cheery bright orange-red umbrella's of Poppi's, a lovely, pint-sized Italian cafe. So inviting, how could I not stop? During "off-peak" hours it was a lovely spot to grab a coffee and small bite.

Poppi's on 69th between Fifth and Madison.

Got something that should be on my radar? Any thoughts or comments on what I’ve read or should read? Or any other takes on the above? Culture / Comments is a new thing and will surely evolve over time so I’d love to hear what you think! Write me at Dish@PrimeCrush.com.


Shiv’s Look. It’s a mess. I was with a couple of cool+stylish friends this week at the bar at Michael's Genuine in Miami (okay, they were cool+stylish – one was rocking a fitted, fabulous leather dress over a simple white tee and the other a cool, new European brand I need to get the name of – and I was tagging along). But anyway, we were talking about the whole quiet luxury trend that Succession has accelerated. Except, we agreed, "quiet luxury" is not Shiv’s look. “If only it were,” sighed one of them (the one in the cool, new European brand I am going to get you the name of). We couldn’t come up with exactly what Shiv's look has been this season. Except, we agreed, it's a mess. Everyone else on Succession has a decided look, we decided. And their look is a thoughtful construction that magnifies and extends their character's identitly. Not Shiv. Her look says neither quiet elegance (Naomi Pierce), understated power move (Kendall Roy), awkwardly striving (Tom), so clearly powerful I don’t have to try (Nan Pierce), nor I am trying so hard to be respected that I hired a personal stylist, but not a very good one (Gerri). Shiv's look says "mess." Which was most aptly characterized by the wimpy, semi-high ponytail she wore with the black gold padlock Tom Ford suit to her half-brother's wedding.

The patheti pony was in - dare I say it - schizophrenic conflict with the outfit. It was not sexy, natural "bedhead" nor sophisticated, pulled-together glam, nor clean, modern minimalism. It was just a thin, limp, mess. Why bother wearing Tom Ford if you're just going to throw your hair into a sloppy pony? Shiv’s clothes are ill-fitting, unflattering and — most egregiously — out-of-step with her character to date, which is cunning, calculating, bold, ambitious and yet vulnerable. Is that foreshadowing, or just a rare miss in this series by Costume Designer Michelle Matland? Which leaves us to wonder, is Shiv's pony a clue to where Shiv goes, after a very dark episode where we see her usual poise devolve?

Pretty Baby on Hulu Is A Must Watch. Okay, this isn’t our monthly DEVOUR Letter (where Lisa Ellex and I tell you in more depth what to watch, read, hear, see and do) so I am only going to briefly flag this for you. The two part Hulu series on Brooke Shields is not only an eye-opening look at her insane, frightening life as a child star (how is she even still alive, let alone able to appear normal(ish)?), but also a way to understand ourselves - to process the arc of the culture we grew up in, the standards we were held to. Because Brooke Shields was everywhere in our lives as we went from childhood to adulthood - introducing us to not only the glamor of thick eyebrows and a pair of skintight jeans, but also to our own sensuality - and she became our dreams, our fears, our idol. (PS Our next monthly DEVOUR column will be The Crush Letter on April 29th.)

Also, Drew Barrymore does what only another woman who grew up in the Hollywood glare could do, and in the most Drew Barrymore way, in this interview with Brooke Shields on the Drew Barrymore Show. It’s raw, if you’re into that. (I am.)

Everything But The Girl is releasing Fuse, its first album in 24 years, on April 21st but the single Nothing Left to Lose is out now. It’s made me hyped about the album. If you’re into them you may want to read this Pitchfork article too.

I loved John McEnroe’s bad boy antics on the tennis courts. I mean, tennis was too well-groomed for me back then anyway. I love him as an opinionated commentator in the tennis booth. But what excites me right now about John McEnroe is his current run on the pickleball circuit. (I'm just learning to play pickleball.)

Oh boy, I’ve been on a reading spree. I will likely share lengthier thoughts on some of these books in an upcoming CRUSH Letter, but here are some quick reactions to what’s been on my nightstand over the last few weeks. Big Swiss by Jen Beagin is a book you’ll be hearing a lot about (from me and no doubt others, if it has escaped your attention so far). I pre-ordered it and had it sent to me on a girls’ trip to Miraval in Tuscon after reading about the bidding war over it, along with the fact that it is coming out on screen starring Jodie Comer in what is certainly the most perfect get by the casting director. Every bit worth the hype. A lot more to be said, but it is all of the following and more: a very offbeat love story / an anti-trauma screed / dark comedy / highly original and maybe sometimes even too clever, but exceptionally well-written. Capote’s Women by Laurence Leamer is much more interesting than I thought it would be - an eye-opening nonfiction exhortation on Truman Capote’s real-life swans (headline: they’re all f*cked up) - and his cold-blooded betrayal of them. Coming out on screen too, by the way. Siracusa by Delia Ephron is a psychological thriller about two couples with lots of relationship issues on vacation in Sicily (sound familiar? The writers for White Lotus surely read this novel). Good for those of you who love Patricia Highsmith, White Lotus, Couples Therapy or you want to take a trippy adventure to Italy. In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom is an enthralling, unflinching, well-researched memoir about Bloom’s relationship with her late husband from meeting-to his Alzheimer’s-through his planned assisted suicide. I am ALL ABOUT the general theme of how love and loss are irrevocably intertwined, which is why I read it and this is an exquisitely written, widely relevant incantation on that theme. Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson revolves around a WASPy family in Brooklyn Heights and how they do and do not (but mostly do not) travel outside their very small bubble of tennis, cocktail parties, trusts/prenups, private school and old money (read: quiet luxury) taste. They are a generationally wealthy family and the novel’s drama involves the next gen’s dating and marriages outside the bubble, as well as their reconciling their wealth and privilege with their wokeness. I read it because I lived in Brooklyn Heights in my twenties (but not their world of Brooklyn Heights). It is a highly readable dissection of a small, insular world. Honestly, I could not get through The Revolutionary: Sam Adams by Stacey Schiff. And I really, really tried. And I love biographies and histories. Particularly about our country’s founding and its founding fathers. And I love Boston and its history, where so much of the action took place. It’s written in a dense style with a lot of (great? I’m not sure) detail and getting great reviews, so you may want to try it anyway.

Next on my nightstand: The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin; Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood; The Midnight Library by Matt Haig; Trust by Henan Diaz; Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

Got something that should be on my radar? Any thoughts or comments on what I’ve read or should read? Or any other takes on the above? Culture / Comments is a new thing and will surely evolve over time so I’d love to hear what you think! Write me at Dish@PrimeCrush.com.

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