Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Zoot alors!

My pocket watch, a thing of sleek beauty called the Zoot, was made (along with some Swiss dwarves) by M&Co., the late Tibor Kalman’s design shop. I’ve had it for more than a dozen years; it’s been battered and bashed, repaired by a humorless Russian gentleman (“Do not do this to your watch again”), but never lost, and so far not sent through the laundry. I haven’t found a replacement, so I’m hoping it lasts for my forever.

The M of the Co. was Maira Kalman, who is still with us, notably as the author of the Max series for the sophisticated youngster. Her book The Principles of Uncertainty was given to me for my birthday, and I am in love with it (and, hence, her). Her ruminations (inter-connective, neurotic, sweet, nostalgic, aesthetic) on the amazing and the mundane of her life during a year are as deeply satisfying as roast chicken. Or “buckets of joie de vivre.” Plus, she has some great hats. The book design is superb, and includes a fold-out map of the US as drawn by her immigrant mother. Heavy from the thick paper, the book’s a handsome object, with every space put to use: the endpapers have beautiful images of mosses of Long Island, the dust jacket spine has a Malaysian walking stick on it. The illustrations (simple and/or/but complex) remind me a little of Charlotte Salomon, who painted her remarkable Life? Or Theatre? before being killed by the Nazis. Evidently, Principles was originally MK’s NYTimes Select column, but damn, I’d much rather have it as a thing then just digital bits in the insubstantial aether of the ‘net.


Frankie said...

Dear bachelor,

What amount of money would convince you to part with this watch? Seriously. Here's my email:

dm2thinks said...

I own the same watch. Love it. Needs a little repair and you've inspired me to start using it again. Do you still have the wooden stand?

Matthew said...

The stand disappeared somewhere along the way. Since this posting, the watch died and was brought back to life by a repairman operating out of a laundry at 8th Avenue/23rd St. Just doors south of 23rd on the east side. Was recommended to me by a reader whose M&Co. watch had also been banged up one too many times.