Life is strange and unpredictable. You never know what’s coming for ya. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. A few months ago, you’ll remember I was interviewed and photographed for a Toronto Life feature , which itself was a lot of fun. Well, more people saw that interview than I bargained for.
I was contacted by the good folks over at TFO 24.7, the Franco-Ontarian TV station here in Canada. They noticed that I speak French, and that many of my love letters are in French, and they asked if they could come over and film me for a Valentine’s Day segment.
They came over and interviewed me for 5 hours. The finished TV segment is less than 4 minutes, it’s a lot of work that goes into making a mere 4 minutes! They filmed me in my bedroom here in Toronto, which I have decorated with the letters, old photographs, antique furniture and typewriters, and then they filmed me at an antique shop and a café.
I really like the way this came out. The music they use is super sweet and it makes my 9 x 15 bedroom look much larger than it actually is! I’m also a little embarrassed, just because this is my bedroom and I’m inviting all of you strangers into my tiny little corner of the world, but hey…. I WOULD DOOOOO ANYTHING FOR LOVVVVVVVE. Har har.
I think this is my favourite shot in the entire segment.
Anyway, watch the entire segment below! It’s in French, of course, but you will probably still get the gist of it even if you don’t speak French. Enjoy! Savourez-le!
As I hinted at last week, I was recently interviewed and photographed for fashion blog TorontoVerve and the post has gone live. I talk about my love of typewriters, and also about my writing philosophy: what motivates me, what I like to write about it, how it provides catharsis, and how all writers need to HUSTLE! And it features my beloved 91-year-old typewriter that I blogged about here.
The photographs are pretty punk-rock. I know I’m not perfect, but hey, LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE.
Last month I did a wee little photoshoot with TorontoVerve at Ashbridge’s Bay. We collab’d on a previous shoot back in 2012 and it was nice to reconnect. We both had some great ideas of what kind of themes and images we’d like to explore in this shoot, and we brought them together: typewriters and lakes! Fun fact: the water was so icy cold, we had to keep running to shore every 5 minutes because our feet were going hypothermic. Here’s to fashion, err’one.
I like to think my face in the above photo says, “You interrupted me.”
Or perhaps, “I give zero fucks.”
And this one says, “Enjoy my resting bitch face.”
I once blogged about my writing practice and process, and I feel this is a nice dovetail: my writing desk and space. We all need to carve out our own little nooks in this world, and this tiny corner is mine.
This where I do all my writing: all my short stories, all my blogging, and all my freelance articles are done here, including a little doodling and reading now and then. I decorated it like this because I think it reflects me and my personality best. Some people prefer really modern, sleek, office-y, stainless-steel-type designs, and others prefer a kind of non-descript, antiseptic look. But I wanted my space to be peppered with all of the things that inspired me, visually and spatially, and all the things that really mean something to me.
For example, these are my Lebanese grandparents making-out on their front porch in Montreal circa 1948. I typed out that Bukowski quote on my typewriter. All the picture frames were bought from London flea markets, but a few I found discarded on the sidewalk. Who throws out gorgeous picture frames?!
That photograph in the foreground of the two 1920s women pushing the pram: I have no idea who they are. I found them discarded on the flea market grounds in Brussels right before the sky opened up and an incredible tempest washed everything away. I feel like I saved them.
Those are Belgian telegrams, and also some French postcards ad German letters, which I bought from their respective flea markets. I typed out the quote at the bottom, and I found the image of the typewritten quote at the top online and then printed it out on photographic paper at a pharmacy in London.
I got the antique iron keys from a friend who bought them for me when I was living in Copenhagen. I typed out the Dumas quote, and it sits on a small blue photo album from the 1940s that I bought in Paris. The vase & saucer I got at a London flea market, and the typewriter ribbon tin I bought at the Brooklyn flea.
The pill bottles in the foreground I got at a flea here in Toronto. The red-cover books in the background are all travel guidebooks from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. It’s so interesting to read about “where to find a public bathhouse in London,” or about how many Francs you can get for your Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Sovereigns. There’s even a section on why French customs strictly prohibits British matches from entering the country, but you can bring your own cigarettes. Also, air travel was so new, that they don’t really mention it. They only mention taking the ferry from Dover to Calais! The guidebooks have fold-out maps and even photographs. Looking at Amsterdam then and comparing it to now is such a mind-fuck.
That’s a Bukowski quote.
I bought that cigar box from a flea market in Düsseldorf. I put all of the small monochrome photographs that I bought from flea markets around Europe in there. A note about the photographs: I don’t know the people. I am assuming they’ve all passed, seeing as how their personal family photo albums were for sale on flea markets. I buy them because they look so happy. I like their faces. Also, sometimes going through private photos reveals some interesting secrets, as I wrote in an essay for VICE recently … And if they’re not in the cigar box….
… they’re hanging on my wall. From left to right, I bought him in Brussels, him in Copenhagen, and her in Paris.
That babe second-from-right is my Mum when she was 18. The rest, left to right, Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, and the child on the right is from Amsterdam.
These ladies are so old, they’re beginning to fade, but I love them all the more because they’re so bad-ass. On the left, I bought them in Paris and on the back it’s dated June 18, 1929. On the right, I bough her in Brussels, it’s dated August 18, 1922. She’s so fucking cool, I can’t even. I’m all out of evens.
Bought both from Brussels. Street scenes and street photography from the early 20th century are so amazing to me. I love the composition of the left photo! Right photo on the back is dated May 1942 and it says they just returned from shopping.
There’s my gorgeous bee-yooot. Read this for the story behind the provenance of this baby.
Some of the books that really moved me that are resting on my desk are All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
I feel like I become a different person when I sit down at this desk. Outside, I’m gregarious and silly and hungry and moving and yelling and dancing and what not… but here, I am something else.
I have a lot more upcoming publications yet-to-be-announced, but now you know where I was when I wrote them.
Remember to update your links and visit the new home of ChristineEstima.com!
Otto Piene. RIP.
David and I went to the vernissage at the Neue Nationalgalerie and were blown away. It was thrilling. What a loss to the art world.
Nil Frahm playing on his custom made Una Corda piano at the Michelberger Hotel courtyard.
And then this happened, and we all collectively lost our shit.
This guy is on his cell phone?
Tom and his doggie Rocky.
This is called Brandenburger Tor as well… smaller but just as swell.
SOMEONE BREAK THE GLASS AND LET ME IN. This was on Schoenhauser Allee.
This is my pornography.
This is the Bendlerblock courtyard where Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was assassinated by the Gestapo after his plot to kill Hitler failed on July 20, 1944.
The 70th anniversary just passed.
You did not bear the shame.
You bestowed the eternally vigilant symbol of change
by sacrificing your impassioned lives for freedom, justice and honor.
The spot where he was shot.
The Berliner Dom. It had just rained, so the platz was deserted. I sat on the steps of the church, pulled out my journal, and wrote. I had the entire Dom to myself… and, it seemed, the entire city.
The platz in front of the university.
This is the spot where the 1933 Nazi student book-burning took place. The plaque talks of all the kinds of writers whose works are lost, and then there’s a Heinrich Heine quote from 1820, which says, “This is only prologue: where they burn books, in the end they will also burn people.”
I photographed this 8 years ago too.
But what never seems to develop properly in photography is the empty library. Next to this plaque, in the ground, there is a window. When you look down through it, you see underground, empty bookshelf after empty bookshelf.
This church was bombed out during WWII and after the war they decided not to rebuilt it as a memento to the horrors of war. I photographed this 8 years ago when it didn’t have all that cubism shit all over it.
Another ghost sign! I found this beauty in Peckham on Chadwick Road.
Look at this gorgeous thing. Established in 1884, they knew them that for ‘business building’ you needed to print stuff! Flyers, releases, cards, documents! Why not print them all fancy-like! I WANT TO BE ESTABLISHED IN 1884. You guys know that I love typewriters and antique modes of communication and writing, so I’m literally aching with jealousy that I wasn’t around in 1884 to check out the machines and mechanisms involved in printing back them. I want to see men in suspenders stained with ink and with paper cuts using big iron machines to print on delicate pieces of paper! THINK OF THE TYPEWRITERS.
I wonder why they went over this with that black shadow? Or was the shadow there first?
I can’t make out what it says on the right. Any ideas?
Check out my Ghost Signs category for more ghost signs I’ve photographed.
Amsterdam is a magical city. Modern and inviting, yet also capable of transporting you into time lost to the ages.
First of all: TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY!
They wouldn’t let me touch it. I WAS DYING TO TOUCH IT.
It even had that old-book smell. They really should bottle that smell and market it to people who are secretly old ladies . . . like me.
I want to put this one on a chain and hang it around my neck.
FONT-SPLOSION! Look at that gorgeous typeface.
This Smith-Premiere was so badly damaged, I think some of the keys had capsized. Also, someone dust that thing, for the love of Gawd!
Speaking of old-book smell…
I found these at the Boekenmarkt that is held once a week near Het Spui in Amsterdam.
Haha, oh the funny things people used to write about.
Best-seller, no doubt.
*Slowly backs away*
GASP! Weird postal crayons made in Czechoslovakia that I have no idea what to use them for! MUST HAVE!
I’m being serious.
I’m sorry, did I just walk into a screensaver?
Back to typewriters! I found this hanging on the wall at Bar Bukowski, which I also visited last year.
I think Bukowski’s books in general are misogynistic, male-bravado, wank-fests, but his quotes taken out of context are damned good.
This reminds me of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
I actually photographed this little red building back in 2006 but I didn’t record its location back then, so I had no idea how to find it again. I just used my directionally-adept nose and some intuition, wandered around for 2 weeks until I finally found it again. If you don’t know why this building is important, take ANY WALKING TOUR in Amsterdam and they’ll tell you. It’s the smallest building in the entire city.
It has the same depth as other buildings, but it’s only a metre and a half wide. Just long enough for me to lie down in. Someone was working at their laptop there…so yes, people live there.
This wasn’t Amsterdam, it was the Delft… but holy gorgeous amazeballs postcard idyllic nostalgia-ultra-acolyte!
That’s it, I’m moving to Holland. Us old-lady-grannies-in-young-lady-bodies gotta stick together.