No Holds Barred: Battling a high level of low morale

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Decorator William Haines used very low seating to show off dresses and encourage “long leg posing.” Here’s a little party at Betsy Bloomingdale’s. Just one of the things you’ll learn in Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Interior Designers of the Past 100 Years” by Jennifer Boles. So states editor Stephen Drucker.

It’s the end of August, and we are in a high level of low morale. My state of Arizona is still frozen at 48% vaccinated and nothing is changing. Afghanistan seems to be the latest cherry bomb on our national dry heave cake.

How did we get to this mess of an impasse? All these glitzy sports events or “Welcome Back New York” concerts can’t keep us in pandemic denial for very long.  Retail and travel are starting to slow as the “early allure” escapist activity. Eventually we have to come “home” and face the music that viruses are here to stay. Behind Delta, there is Lambda, Eta and Kappa. A full fraternity of nasty viruses who all get angrier as you try to squash them. So, let’s at least accept that fact that we should be co-operating with one another. Or at the very least acting with civility and manners!

“Welcome Back” put on hold.

Sure, there are those who feel angry and exhausted and say, “let it all rip” and “I’ll take my chance with long-haul effects” and go maskless. Others are trying to “play by the rules” and continue to mask up and social distance. We are at a serious stand-off. We used to be a respectful and tolerant nation. Now we have vaxers calling the vaxxed “assholes” and anti-vaxxers calling the vaxxed “assholes.” Where is all that going in the end? Ranters on all sides have gone down the rabbit hole of rage and the political blame game, leaving us lost, disconnected, and hopeless.  The bad behaviors are awful on all sides. This has gone way past the Trump flameouts. The truth is if we don’t come together and get to some higher ground, it will be “That’s All Folks!!”  Nobody trusts anybody — not Fauci, not the WHO, not the FDA, not a single politician!

Maybe the schools and the kids will be the determining factor for the future on viral protocol. We will see how that unfolds by Fall. Meanwhile, don’t look to leaders, look to you!

Something new has broken through emotionally just last week.  It’s called “deep disappointment.” And I’m not talking about a reaction to Governor Newsom dining at the French Laundry, or Obama’s tone-deaf birthday party, or the news that 80-year-old Bob Dylan sexual abused a 12-year-old girl 60 years ago. Now we not only have breakthrough Covid infection in the vaccinated, but we also have “breakthrough” disappointment in ourselves as a nation, and one another.

What happened to our “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” and having some respect and tolerance of our fellow citizens? Everyone seems to be suffering from impatience, hate, and short-term memory. These side effects come not only from getting Covid, but simply living in the time of Covid. Even in the popular TV show “Survivor,” contestants had to learn to make deals and cooperate with others in order to win — let alone survive.

Social media seems to be in control of this contentious landscape, with its prominent influencers and podcasters.  But most people don’t ever read or listen to anything anymore — other than themselves.  And we all know that the cable newscasts are just stirring the bubbling brew with their own brand of bloviating — not reporting. Our brains are now mush from burning through news loops and social media. Nothing is helpful here. Pick your poison.

So, we are stuck on a plateau of high anxiety with more to come. “Keeping busy” is a nice remedy for these times, until it spins out into mindless boredom — unless it is truly creative and heartfelt like gardening or designing or family ventures or volunteering/donating to rescue services.

So, here’s my superficial idea for a de-compressor or antidepressant pivot from our current madness. Turn to Instagram — not for all those narcissists photographing their great beach home brunches and filtered filled faces. Go to camp.o.rama created by London photographer Myles Lester as an “exploration of high and low camp and everything in between.” There are vintage movie clips and photos of Ethel Merman, Lana Turner, Bette Davis, Liberace, Shelly Winters, Tab Hunter, and more videos which you have never seen before, with the greatest captions from Lester.  These prominent vintage talents really knew how to sing and dance and “Entertain” (remember that?).


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A post shared by Myles (@camp.o.rama)


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A post shared by Myles (@camp.o.rama)


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A post shared by Myles (@camp.o.rama)


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A post shared by Myles (@camp.o.rama)

Camp.o.rama (58.4k followers) is a reminder (not in a soppy sentimental way) of where Show Biz came from, and of who we once were before Cardi B, the Kardashians, Lil Wayne and even Eminem arrived and took it all somewhere I never understood.

And then … there is Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Interior Designers of the Past 100 Years, by Jennifer Boles. Edited by my favorite brilliant lifestyle/travel/design editor Stephen Drucker (Vendome Press). It is a magnificent bible of design, without being one of those weighty design coffee table books.  You can “dip in” or throw it open to any page (like tossing the I Ching cards) to learn and be inspired by how life once really looked (and still does) or how beauty manifests under a “great eye.”

The best antidepressant tool!

The portraits, the quotes, the sentences in red, the whole book is gorgeously produced like a great magazine (remember those?) rather than a textbook. So accessible to us design schlubs. In Inspired Design you can see how “living in style” is more than a brand name you buy and be done with. There is heart and core meaning in organizing any room or closet — or in choosing a particular mauve rose colored chair. I soon realized in flipping through the book that if we lose any kind of design, we lose our lives. Ask Diana Vreeland on that thought.

Dorothy Draper — Beefy stripes and oversized lamp shades.
David Hicks’s most famous room — “I don’t like people very much. They bore me. I like objects.”
Cecil Beaton’s living room — “I have the reputation of being sensational and staggering.”
India Mahdavi — “My work is about happiness.”

Home improvement has been a gift from this Covid era. I suggest you check out Inspired Design as it will show you with every designer that God and good style is in the details. Maybe if we can redesign our own living rooms, we can reboot our souls and attitudes in life. It’s a reach, I know. But what are the two great “home” sayings?

“Home is where the heart is.”

“Happiness begins at home.”

At this point — I’m so desperate I’ll take either!

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