just a pawn…hong kong

Hong Kong pawn shop

another image i took with that vintage russian camera from Goodwill. this time…on a mission to some industrial section of Hong Kong to find some cool rubber & plastics materials…an area that only locals would know where to go – and so my chinese colleague who spoke almost zero english (and seemed quite tough, i might add) grabbed me and took me along for the adventure.

and boy, was i glad she did.

it reminded me of the industrial plastics places on Canal St. in NYC that i used to trawl frequently for my creations.

she also managed, sans english, to show me a cool aviary on our taxi ride there; point out some fish markets, was patient with my wacky camera hijinks, and somehow managed to convey to me that this image i seemed so taken with… was in fact, a pawn shop.

there is sometimes a shred of sheer poetry & elegance in deterioration.

*probably also worth mentioning that while i was there…SARS broke out, in a hotel right down the street from ours. it was mayhem.

Feb 2013
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera

places, things, vintage

COMMENTS 4 Comments

phone home…




whenever i come across old phone booths, these stone age relics…i think about when the omnipresent cell phone didn&#39t exist; and how everyone was forced to use these, on the fly. captured these in some different cities i&#39ve been in.

i mean…the times i could count that i ran to one of these in New York, to get a gig or an apartment (quick! someone else is in line for it! don&#39t lose it!) or confirming an interview while in transit…or trying to reach your friend when you&#39re out and about – and you’ve mysteriously crossed paths somehow. and when you were a young woman in a big city all alone…it was your only lifeline. A rusty, cantankerous lifeline with a tunnel of robotic cable stubbornly refusing to streeetttchhhhhhhhhh while you contorted yourself in conversation.

and they were prime for eavesdropping – you were held completely captive while you talked…tethered like an animal. not to mention harassed and harangued to hurry up, god forbid there was a line to use it…

once in Baltimore…i worked at a very posh Saks Fifth Avenue one summer; new and unfamiliar with the whole city layout, found myself dressed up to the nines…LOST…and in the &#39hood. (((remember, no cell phones.))) and no, i&#39m not usually a &#39fraidy cat; and i&#39m very used to urban landscapes. which is exactly why i knew i didn&#39t belong there in the middle of the day… in a cocktail dress and jewels. besides, i was late for my new job – and although lost, was pretty sure i was in the polar opposite direction from where i needed to be.

had a couple of quarters in the car, (yes! quarters! those shiny elusive silver things you needed to feed the hungry pay phone monster!) so i hopped out at the first pay phone i saw…and furiously dialed my relatives who i was living with; i was sure they could steer me back on track.

i kept calling and calling, frustrated that i knew someone should be home and i kept getting the answering machine.

finally, in desperation, i dialed one more time and screamed into the answering machine:
&#34is ANYONE HOME?? I AM LOST, I&#39M IN A VERY BAD NEIGHBORHOOD, i repeat: i am dressed up and lost in a bad area, and this is MY LAST QUARTER!!!!&#34

found out later… my very hard of hearing grandmother had let herself in the (not her) house…was milling around, and heard some strange noise coming from somewhere she couldn’t quite figure out. It&#39s ME, Grammy! On my last quarter! It was the answering machine… talking to YOU!

(i gave up & retreated…and somehow got &#39unlost.&#39 The Saks Fifth Avenue peeps were kinda horrified to hear what neighborhood i had found myself in, and surprised i still had my hubcaps intact and my car keys)

needless to say, it&#39s still a family joke.

gotta love those old pay phones, hoarding their quarters, and their urban secrets.


Feb 2013
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera

places, things, vintage

COMMENTS 4 Comments

grand ol’ opry…

no, i&#39ve actually never been to the Grand Ol&#39 Opry. however, vicariously…

i once bought a cool vintage black patent leather purse (hmmmm….i forget which city?) and after having it a few years…discovered that deep, DEEP down in the tight plastic pocket that looked like it had never been used…were these 2 old tickets from the Grand Ol&#39 Opry from 1977!

the cutout &#34doll&#34 is one of my grandmothers (totally unrelated, but it sort of fit the vignette) and the business card with the scarab beetle on it is from one of the coolest, elite underground hive-of-hip club in NYC in the late 80&#39s called M.K.

the biz card has absolutely no writing on it; because you had to know where it was in the first place, and had to get past the velvet rope ordeal to be allowed entry. More to come on that later.

as for the purse…i&#39ve since ebayed it, but i kept the the tickets…the best secret find.

Grand Ol' Opry, theater tickets, vintage

Jan 2013
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera

places, things, vintage

COMMENTS No Comments

power…of your own story

those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.

-excerpt from Salman Rushdie

one day back in my NYC days…probably about 1989 or 1990…i sauntered out with a good
friend and coworker to lunch and to the bank. It was supposed to be a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood we loved. We worked in Soho, and rounded the corner on West Broadway…only to find an angry erupting crowd of militant Islamists lining the entire sides of the streets for as far as the eye could see. The fervor was high, the middle of the street seemed to be an invisible demilitarized zone – and quite frankly, it was downright scary. There was a new bounty on Salman Rushdie&#39s head for his novel The Satanic Verses...and in a city rich in the global literary┬álandscape, this was no joke.

My friend and I did not dare to cross the street into the fever pitch of hatred; the bank would have to wait. Lunch plans were deferred. Police were on hand to make sure violence did not ensue, but it was brimming over with tumult.

I have no hidden political agenda in this post; but ran across this quote in a museum over the weekend – and thought it was poignant in the context of commandeering your own story.

And, his memoirs might be a very interesting read, indeed.

Salman Rushdie memoir

Dec 2012
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera
COMMENTS No Comments

visual meandering…

i had another grandmother i adored (this one, being different to the one on the camel) who was less well-traveled; but very inventive and crafty. she carved dolls&#39 heads out of dried apples, fashioned side tables from old coffee jars, sewed up groovy clothes for my Barbie dolls, whipped up clever things out of strings, styrofoam and sequins that i still can&#39t even fathom – and generally made every visit with her seem like an adventure in fun colors & materials (complete with supplies stockpiled in her basement)

we spent hours & hours together. we only had until i was about 11.

fast forward…many years later; as i walk into Anthropologie…and gasp in delight and nostalgia at the world and house of my grandmother… reincarnated into a retail cornucopia!

it reminds me to always keep visually meandering; and even if you don&#34t love to shop…you should periodically go &#34atmosphere shopping&#34 instead…(ya gotta love happening upon a pitchfork-as-instant-wall decor)

…and see how you can recreate your world with a drawing, some branches, an owl plucked right out of the 70&#39s, something out of your attic, barn, or your closet, or whatever the case may be.

see where it takes you.

do it; it&#39s good for your brain.

happy happenstancing thanksgiving!



I found this vintage postcard long ago in some antique shop whose location and name escapes me…but it reminds me today of the great lengths we go to…especially in our now-digital society…to travel to get to one another, just for the same exact reason that the pilgrims & native americans did all those years ago. For comfort, for companionship, to break bread together, to just hang out and let each other know we&#34re there for each other if needed – a kind of break in the action from &#39survival mode.&#39

Once when I was living in NYC, in Brooklyn, I had a rare opportunity to get a tiny window of time off work for Thanksgiving, and I was vow and determined, after a few years of no time off to travel, to get home to my family. I love Thanksgiving. And I was possessed!!!

So the first thing I did was stop off at the italian bakery in my neighborhood and pick up some boxes of beautiful special cookies, and a pie all tied up – in 3 pretty boxes with twine. Then I stopped and bought a paper table turkey (the accordion fold kind!) and threw some clothes and stuff into a big black vintage hatbox that I was using as a suitcase, sped to Penn Station to buy an Amtrak ticket to Baltimore and hurtled myself…into a PACKED train.

So..what do you do when it&#39s &#39standing room only?&#39 From NYC to Baltimore?

Why…you all sit in the aisles, on the floor of course, and revel in the spirit of traveling to see your loved ones, and make the absolute best of it. I sat on my hatbox on the floor with my cookie boxes piled high on my lap, sat with the others, all strangers of course, sitting on the floor in the aisles, and we chit-chatted the trip away. Good conversation can virtually melt the &#34uncomfortable&#34 off of anything.

Any you know what? It was great.

And my family now has a funny memory of picking me up at the train station with a slightly smushed hatbox for luggage and that damn paper turkey, which sat proudly on the table.

Even if I can&#39t recreate that specific journey, Thanksgiving somehow always does.

And honestly, I think Samoset and Squanto have always been some of my personal heroes…for smoothing the waters and helping to bond our society as we know it.



Nov 2012
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera
COMMENTS No Comments

the original happenstancers

the original happenstancers

Anna & Mickey Glatts: Lanzarote, the Canary Islands


The original happenstancers…my grandparents. Always up for an adventure, and always taught me to seize the moment to escape my tiny hometown environs whenever possible.

They started out their own life together that way – they eloped from Philadelphia when my grandmother was 21 and my grandfather only 19. Since it wasn&#39t the most acceptable scenario of the times, (cradle robber!) my grandmother fibbed to her own mother who was completely blind…and said they were going to a Broadway show in NYC for the day. Instead, they headed south over the border into Maryland – where the marriage certificate would not be printed in any nearby Philly newspapers. They found a minister in the phone book, who was just finishing his breakfast of buttered toast & coffee with his wife; he married them, and off they went on their way back home.

Upon returning, her family promptly scooped everyone up and took the entire household to Niagara Falls on a vacation for the next 2 weeks…totally unaware that my grandmother was now married, and leaving her new groom behind!

They were both also known to tool around Ireland, or whatever far-flung location took their fancy; and my grandmother once took off to see Machu Picchu while in her 60&#39s. She was also notoriously known to dance around after a few too many cocktails on trips, singing &#39La Cucharacha.&#39 She also named her first child after their favorite Bubble Dancer at their local burlesque club.

My grandmother was especially fond of encouraging me to spread my wings in matters of romance. She once bought me a plane ticket when I was 21 to fly to Venezuela to meet up with a sailor I&#39d met briefly on a tall ship in the Baltimore harbor.

But…that&#39s another story.


Oct 2012
AUTHOR Lizz DeLera

people, places, vintage

COMMENTS 4 Comments