arts 03.8.05

Holy Skirts

How do you know when you've got yourself a great historical character?

1) Her name is Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

2) Her love affairs take her, in the early part of the 20th century, from Berlin to the Amalfi Coast, to Paris, and inevitably, thankfully, to Greenwich Village.

3) She treated the Village streets to inventions from her closet that reflected her uninhibited sexuality and unconventional, to say the least, world view — things like a bustle with a flashing tail light, her brassiere made from tomato cans, and vegetable grater brooch. If you saw someone around town with a shaved head lacquered scarlet, with postage stamps on her cheeks, that would be Elsa.

4) Lots of people thought she was just nuts. But palling around with Duchamp, Man Ray, Djuna Barnes, it's no stretch to say that she turned her life into Dada art (she was also a sculptor and poet) and many consider her the first performance artist.

So that's the starting point for René Steinke's Holy Skirts (Morrow, $24.95), in stores next week. Ms. Steinke, editor of The Literary Review, has mixed the facts of the Baroness' life with a novelist's imagination — surely the subject wouldn't have had it any other way.

Ms. Steinke will be reading from Holy Skirts at Three Lives, 154 W. 10th [Waverly] 212.741.2069, on March 16 at 7pm.
joe's on Maps
Here are additional suggestions about maps from readers…

You've missed one amazing New York map book which has to be seen to be believed: New York: The Photo Atlas. You can essentially find every building, street, park, backyard, etc. in the city.

You forgot one! Check out this obsessively detailed alternate-history map, imagining how Manhattan might have looked had the Nazis conquered it inWorld War II.

I just read your piece on antique maps and wanted to offer you a great resource for maps that are more affordable than the high-end dealers you name. The Old Print Shop is a family-run business of many generations. They are knowledgeable and extremely helpful. I recently purchased a gift of an antique map of NYC (late 1800s) and would definitely go back to them again.

I think you missed two really interesting maps. First are the crash maps that Transportation Alternatives has put together of the entire city mapped with the number of car accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles in NYC. The other one is a new service from the folks at Amazon — it is in beta. It is a yellow pages service that not only gives a MapQuest map of the location you are trying to find, but also a photo of the location, and the ability to scroll and effectively look up and down the street. Here is a search I did for bike shops in Manhattan.

I've got a few layered maps to add which are in some ways better than the NYC portal: Municipal Arts Society and NYPIRG's C-Map. And did you see this article in Gotham Gazette about the NYC portal?


central park

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