Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Dabble

After a glass (plastic cup with worn-off design) of wine (blended whites, bought mainly because of the cute label--a dog with one of those head things, in warm, blanched pink. Yes, I buy wine just for the label. When there's such good design out there, you can't not. Durrrh.) and a pinch of snus (I don't really do that, but I felt the moment called for flavored tobacco), I find it fitting to discuss my experience of starstruckedness which occurred over the weekend. Or, as one could be commended for calling it, "The Reprieve."

I was in the West Village. Twice it's happened in the West Village. Firstly, when John Hodgeman gave me an umbrella (-ella, -ella; yes, I still do that. I'll be bustin that shit out at 90, when people will assume it's Parkinson's or something.). It's true. I'm sure I blogged about it--ask your local librarian to find that for you. And the second was last night. Interesting Shit comes in threes, so I'll prolly be listing the celebrities I want to run into for the next few weeks--I'd love for one to be Gaga, and she's wearing a big velvet hood, and she sprinkles diamonds everywhere before producing a Chanel something-expensive-or-another trinket and a bustin dance number for me. But anyway, back to last night...

It was raining. All the soul of Christendom was slithering in a wave of tears from the sky, like shit on one of those buttwipes people use (I'm making a face of disgust right now, but they're actually kind of comfortable and a good idea). Just as it rained that night I met Hodgeman -odgeman -odgeman.... (...I'm totes sure I'm spelling his name wrong. I'm from Florida. We're stupid.) And blah blah blah... And I went into Enfleurage, where I'm practically every week anyway, and I'm looking at pine and blah blah, and then I go to ring up and I notice an old, bald gentleman with his Asian cohort talking about oils. "Could it be??" I thought. "No. Tania Sanchez is taller." But as I'm ringing up, I keep wondering: COULD it be???? (If you're into perfume, you already know who I'm talking about. If you're not, you probably never will.) And I'm like, "would they come to a store like this? He's been able to smell the top of the line--does this compare? Is this material really as good as they say it is? It's expensive enough. Ask my friend Alex. So they're talking about helichysium, and I chime in cuz I LOVE that shit, and I smell some off his hand. And then the cap. I already knew what it smelled like, though. I've been a huge fan of OTC helichrysium for forever. Back in the day if you'd have asked me what it smelled like, I'd have responded, "It smells like autumn." Some days--and these were the days I took the highway--I would just keep smelling it, trying to get inside it and figure it out. Trust--it's every bit as good as any cologne you can buy, in terms of emotional impact and complexity. But I've gone on one of my many trademark asides, and now I must return to the main whateverthehellIwastalkingabout.

So I ask the person behind the counter, who is new, "Who are they?" but I don't think she knows and then I ask the one who is not new and whose name I should know but it escapes me; and she starts to say, sotto voce, "Well, they wrote a book...." and suddenly I find that I'm going, "Are you Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez?" They were. Holy shit. I was starstruck. And I've only been starstruck a couple of times. So I'm going on about how I read The Secret of Scent and Perfumes: The Guide and I'm reading The Emporer of Scent now and blah blah blah, acting like a giggly fool.... And I said "I wish I had a camera." But I did! My Mac! That I had cuz I had a training on using Logic Pro (I can't remember how to do the vocoder) and it was in my bag. And then I forgot that I should have had both of them autograph the Chandler Burr book, but I didn't even think of that.

I remember at one point Turin asked if I was a perfumer or hobbyist or whatever, and I had to admit: I'm a dabbler. Because that's what I am at this point. And Sanchez remarked, accurately, on how cool it is these days that someone can just dabble in something, and doesn't have to use only naturals. (That said, there are a LOT of naturals at Enfleurage, but still--how can you resist a molecule that can do ONE THING and do it REALLY WELL?? I'm thinking of Timberol as I type, but it could be anything.) And he mentioned that, if you really like Cashmeran, stock up on that shit now. Or at least I think; I don't remember. But I walked off in the rain all euphoric because not only had a talked to a [perfume] celebrity, I had spoken to a published author, an iconoclast and arguably a genius. I have to say, I expected Turin to have a French accent. Am I imagining that? He didn't. But Chandler Burr certainly paints a picture of him in The Emperor of Scent--he's like the Gregory House of wherever science meets perfumery. But I do have to say it was amazing to be talking to someone who is just so goddamn smart.

And if anyone was wondering, Turin and Sanchez were affable and completely tolerant of my sycophanting fandom.

So anyway, that was my starstruck moment. And while it qualifies me for absolute certifiable geekdom (that and the fact that I asked for AROMACHEMICALS for xmas), I don't feel geeky cuz of it. Maybe that's the mark of the geek--whatever; I'm too old to care.

At this point I think I'd originally planned to yak about what I'm dabbling with right now, but I'm not at that place where I should do that. I still feel more capable with sound than scent (Yes, you can have an appreciation and knowledge of scent and not have an ability for it, just like anything else); but also: I think my olfactory aesthetic would be the same as my audio and visual: loud, complicated, ultra-produced, artificial, bombastic, occasionally minimal, modernish but with a flair for pop. So even if I said, "I was thinking in the realm of a forest full of Christmas trees, but darker--earthier, smokier, leathery, sappy sweet. Like a 50foot tall tree in an Elfin fairy tale--dark, menacing, terrifying and beautiful....." I still think people would think I was way over the top. Like, "it's too strong and you've got to pull way back on the.... and the.... and the..... and the......" But that's neither here nor there, and alas, it is yet late. So for now I will bid Theene adieu. May purple watermelons sprinkle diamond-like seeds through your dreams of Gaga. Beep!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ahhh, mysteries...

File under mysteries: So how did something I'm whipping up (I only "whip up" stuff--I don't measure and mix and all that gawazzle. At least not at this point. I'm just enjoying tinkering with aromachemicals) get what two people have described as a prominent "Good 'n Plenty" impression? This is a blend with leather smells (including Safraleine, which I suppose could have added to that), a teensy bit of an amber accord, some vanilla absolute (but not enough to make a huge difference), lots of Timberol and ambroxan (proportionally), cade, tobacco, a castoreum accord and labdanum. And some of a pine/Christmas tree accord. And some clove. So what is making it smell like liquorice?? I don't really smell it. Here are descriptions I've gotten so far:

- black liquorice candy with cedar and an indefinable wood
- smoky leather wood
- fire in a pine forest
- Good 'n Plenty, brown sugar and menthol
- Indian rice

Granted, it's uber strong, more concentrated than anyone would dream of making anything; that's because it's a house scent and all the notes, save the Safraleine and clove, are heavy base notes. So I made it strong 1) because I want it to be diffusive and 2) because that's my aesthetic. And I can always dilute it. It's vexing, though. Vexing, vexing, vexing.

Oh the life of a beginner dilettant. (Yeah, I left off the e. I'm not sure how that stuff works.)


Monday, November 30, 2009

Ginkgo Fruit

So I smelled some ginkgo fruit over the weekend in Philadelphia. And you know what? It smells like dog shit! I don't know if I've come across the fruit before (even though there are lots of ginkgo trees here), but if I did, I probably thought I stepped in something. But over the weekend, my old roommate pointed out that we were walking around ginkgo fruits and that they smelled like shit. So I picked some up and smelled them. Fascinating. Dog shit. Not cat piss. Not horse shit (that smells like Central Park South). But dog shit. Which really isn't all that offensive. I prefer it to cat piss. I wondered if anyone made an extract of it for odor use. Because you've got civet, castoreum, indole, skatole, etc..... You'd think ginkgo fruit would work in that list. I wonder if the yield is low or if it's hard to extract. More likely, it's just easier to synthesize the odor.

So there you have it: ginkgo fruit smells just like dog shit.

Myne Dorkitude, Listed.

This is how dorky I am. Below is what I want for Christmas. Aromachemicals. Because I don't know no one who would buy me that expensive book in the previous post, and I can't think of anything else I'm particularly interested in.

1. Coumarin (crystalline powder)

2. Hexenol-3-Cis - 8ml bottle

3. Iso E Super - 8ml bottle

4. Ethyl vanillin - 8ml bottle

5. Cosmone - 8ml vial

6. Methyl Laitone 10% in DPG (G) - 8ml bottle

7. Auratouch - 8ml bottle

8. Galaxolide 50% (IPM) - 8ml bottle

9. Ethyl Maltol - 2.5 ml vial

10. Hydroxycitronellal - 8ml bottle

11. Indole - 10% in IPM - 2.5ml vial

12. Dihydromyrcenol - 2.5ml vial

13. Delta Damascone - 2.5ml vial

14. Berryflor (G) - 8ml bottle

15. Benzyl Salicylate - 8ml bottle

16. Vanillin - 8ml bottle

17. Musk R1 - 2.5ml

18. Methyl Diantilis (G) - 8ml bottle

19. Allyl Amyl Glycolate - 8ml bottle

20. Exaltolide 50% (IPM) - 2.5ml vial

21. Ethylene Brassylate - 8ml bottle

22. Stemone (G) - 8ml bottle

23. Damascenone 10% - 2.5ml vial

24. Helional - 2.5ml vial

25. Spirogalbanone - 2.5ml vial

26. Isobutavan - 8ml bottle

27. Musk ketone - 2.5ml vial

28. Musk Xylol (Musk Xylene) - 2.5ml vial

29. Acetoin (S) - 8ml bottle

30. Dihydro Eugenol - 2.5ml vial

31. Citral - 2.5ml vial

32. Anisyl acetate - 8ml bottle

33. Bicyclononalactone - 8ml bottle

34. Butyl Butyro Lactate - 2.5ml

35. Dimethyl Pyrazine 2,3 - 8ml bottle

36. Cedryl Aceetate - 8ml bottle

37. Grisalva - 2.5ml vial

38. Velvione - 8ml bottle

39. Guaiacol - 2.5ml

40. Costausol (PFW) - 2.5ml vial

41. Ebanol (G) - 8ml bottle

42. Givescone (G) - 8ml bottle

43. Cyclal C ( Triplal ) 2.5ml vial

44. Labienoxime 1% - 2.5ml vial

45. Dimethyl Benzyl Carbinyl Butyrate - 8ml bottle

46. Dimethyl Sulfide at 1% (Sig) - 2.5ml

47. Lactoscaton - 2.5ml vial

48. Okoumal (G) - 2.5ml vial

49. Diola (I) - 2.5ml vial

50. Ethyl Cinnamate - 8ml bottle

51. Ethyl Butyrate - 2.5ml vial

52. Hedione (methyl dihydrojasmonate) - 2.5ml vial

53. Homofuronol 20% - 2.5ml

54. Javanol - 2.5ml vial

55. Kephalis - 2.5ml vial

56. Lyral - Leerall - 2.5ml vial

57. Melonal (G) - 2.5ml vial

58. Methyl Anthranilate - 2.5ml vial

59. Methyl cedryl ketone - 2.5ml vial

60. Nectaryl - 2.5ml vial

61. Phenylacetic acid replacer 50% - 2.5ml vial

62. Pyralone 2.5ml vial

63. Verymoss - Evernyl - 2ml vial

64. Vetiveryl acetate - 2ml vial

I can get The Secret for $10, but this one is 10 times that. What a world!

Who can tell me where to get this for a good price? It's obscenely expensive everywhere I look! If anyone has a copy laying around that you don't want, or if you know a place where I can get it for under $100, drop me a line. Or wave at me: edshepp [at] googlewave.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Open Letter to V and Madonna

This is an open letter to V and Madonna. There's no easy way to say this (because I'm actually quite stupid), so I'll just be as plain and waldervacknerian as puquistibly turrilicious.

V: Yes, you, V. The show. The remake from of the iconic miniseries-cum-canceled-series from myne youth. When I heard they ("they" being "those Hollywood types" or something to den där effect) were remaking you, I was joyous. Then crestfallen. Then irritable. Then flatulent. Then hungry. Then drinky. Then sleepy. Then bored. Then smelly. And only the joyous part had anything to do with you! But then I thought more about you, and it occurred to me: I need to be working on that show! Then, a few minutes later, a fatter truth belly-bumped me: I had it backwards! YOU need ME to work on you! Now, I won't go into how I adored the show as a middle-schooler, and how I ran around pretending to be John (but really pretending to be Diana), and how I quoted it for years and how I even had the COMIC BOOK and read the paperback book The Florida Project. And I won't go into my "qualifications," because, as multiple comments on my resume have apparently proven, "irrepressible genius" isn't a very precise descriptor. At any rate, for my sonic abilities, you can check out my show on WFMU, The Ed Shepp Radio Experiment, or have a listen to my audio stuff, or just check out A Very Ed Shepp Christmas. For my visual abilities, just check out my facebook photos. They look good, don't they? I'm actually 57 years old. For my acting abilities (although I think I'd rather be behind the camera), just check out any Madonna movie. I guarantee you my acting couldn't be as bad as hers. (I love you, Madonna, but it's true. You stink up the screen like an open jar of skatole.) (Yeah, I'm into perfume chemicals. So let's do a V-inspired scent opera, why not then?!? Think it over.)

So I'm not going to try and convince you that you need me, even though that would seem to be the piont of this open letter. I'm just throwing this opportunity out at you like pieces of expensive pastry to a gaggle of expensive ducks, bred for their smooth bronzey beaks. So look me over, dammit! You want a resume? Well, I want an island in the Caribbean, but I'm not getting that. Help yourself to some belligerence, however. That's free. BUT--if you want just a brief overview of myne history and all that crap, have a listen to the piece I did to put in my next letter, the one to the King of Sweden:

About Ed Shepp

Well that's the squizz. It's all on you now, V. Don't disappoint! And now onto you, Madonna.

See here's the thing, see. A friend of mine, number 081993, was squawking one day about how Mariah Carey was coming out with her third perfume, and Hilary Duff with her second, or whatever the numbers are, and Celine has one and gobble gobble gobble nibble nibble... And then he wondered aloud why you haven't yet come out with a perfume, and it got me thinking. I assumed that you were planning to come out with one eventually, but were waiting for the right perfumer to work with. So I thought, "I should write an open letter to Madonna and introduce her to Calice Becker, my close-personal-friend-in-that-fictional-character kinda way. Or maybe whoever did Tom Ford's stuff. Because his perfumes are bombastic, and I think that would work for Madonna. After all, she supposedly likes Youth Dew and Fracas, two bold fragrances. Now do I want to go to Taco Bell again or take a bath?" But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I should simply suggest myself as the perfumer. Do I have experience? UGH! What IS it with this "experience" thing with you people?!?!?! I've blended Christmas scents at home and managed to stink up the whole house a couple times (sotolon's one HELL of a molecule, yo)--that counts, right? Yes. But more important than experience, I have PASSION. And BOREDOM. So I have, like, all day to daydream about your fragrance and frustrate the perfumers and compounders with my endless iterations. (See the links above for all the rest.) Choose me, and while I can't promise that it will be a blockbuster, I can promise that it will be something. And unforgettable. Isn't that all you need? Have your people contact my people. No, wait--I don't have people. Just contact me directly. KTHXBAI!

Well that's the gist. I'll be waiting to hear from both of you.

Ed Shepp

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last night I had wine at the W Hotel. It smelled of white flowers, sans indole, rather like a creamy muguet. I asked someone if it was the hotel's "scent," because I know some hotels are scenting now. (I think I heard of a chain using an orris-type scent, because orris/iris notes=luxury. Or funeral, if you're talking to Luca Turin.) A couple peeps told me it's the candles they're burning, which are rotated by season.


White flowers is not an October accord. I'm decreeing this. The obvious choices would be pumpkin or apple, but both of those choices are about as subtle as poop in a shoe. So how about hay-firewood-wool-dry wood? I paid too much for that wine to be smelling white flowers in October.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Axe, you've done it again.

The other day I was in some drugstore that had just about everything, and I came across some Axe body spray that I haven't seen before: Musk and Wild Spice. The Wild Spice I only sniffed for a second--it didn't seem to be up to much--but the Musk is amazing. Now I know what Luca Turin means when he says "barbershop musk." The first thing I thought of when I smelled it was Old Spice. Original scent. Which, by the way, smells great. It smells ambery and warm to me, and probably musky, although I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure what the term 'musky' really means, since musk odorants seem to run the gamut of smells. So this Axe Musk body spray smells kind of ambery, but very much 'barbershop musk,' which is nice and kinda old school. It smells like it would blend well with a lot of different scents, but I think it's good enough to wear on its own. Go out and get some now before it's discontinued. ...If it hasn't already, and this drugstore just happened to have some left on the shelves.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Francis Kurkdjian

Francis Kurkdjian has a line of fragrances out now. I saw it at BG yesterday, quite by accident. When I saw the name, I thought I was mistaken. I was like, THE FK??? The famous perfumer? Yes, it is. And yes, he's famous. (He made Le Male, a vile but highly successful fragrance.) If I know his name, then he is a famous perfumer. Because I don't know the industry well enough to know all the players; I just know the big names: Calice Becker, Jean-Claude Ellena, Francis K..... At least I think they're the big players. Anyway....

So I'm looking at it, and the line has everything: perfumes, home fragrances, maybe even fabric softener sheets?? (It was of course at this point that I remembered daydreaming about having a perfume line where I could have EVERYTHING coordinated by scent: perfume, bath oil, dryer sheets, whatever.....) I didn't know what to smell, honestly! The cologne or the home fragrance? I took a whiff of something, but the person behind the counter, who I think might have picked up on the fact that I LOVE scent.smell.fragrance.perfume.olfaction.insertsynonymhere, offered me some samples. I sprayed on one of the hommes about an hour ago--quite interesting. Fresh, a citrus tone but not your typical citrus, an unusual note with it; it's now developed into what I guess I'd call a fresh woody floral. Quite nice. It doesn't smell like the other men's fragrances out there today, which I have an intuition are all just reorganizations of a few strong, cheap, "clean" aromachemicals (supposedly dihydromyrcenol is in everything).

I can't wait to try the rest of the testers, but I'm sure they'll all be nice. Oh, and if you're in NYC and reading this now, Kurkdjian will be at Bergdorf Saturday, for a Sniffapalooza thing. At the moment the woman said that I regretted not signing up for it. But then she was like, "But he'll be around afterward....." And I was all, "Yeah, but for me that would be like meeting Madonna--what do you say?? Duh, I like perfume....." So I'm not gonna try that. But hey, if you're really into his frags, or if you're just single and very bold (from the pic on his site I'd say he's a looker), you might want to go meet him.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Tom Ford, I Love You

Tom Ford, I love you.

Some time ago I was sitting around contemplating. Something or other. And it flashed into my mind out of the blue: We need less Tom Hanks. More Tom Ford.

Of course, I knew little about TF. Just that he was good-looking, sexy in a 70's kinda way, probably gay but posed with nude starlets, and had a really cool style. I don't know what he's like in person, but in pictures and all he seemed to be the kind of persona that just oozed sex. And boldness.

I think he was a designer or something? It was more like he was famous for being an icon. Anyway, then he went into perfumes. Yeah, I never smelled the Amber Nude or any of that. And I became aware of the buzz around his own line, but didn't see much of it.
Well, today I was at Bergdorf (a place I never go) and saw his Private Blend line.

God. damn.

I repeat: God. Damn.

I didn't smell all of them. I first tried Tuscan Leather. I don't know how I can convey this so people will understand, because it's important. This leather is perfect. Perfect. It smells like dry suede, maybe with a woody-smoky drydown. I'm a little unreliable with descriptions right now, because my nose is fatigued. Or maybe priapic or something. But this leather is absolutely spot-on spectacular. This is what Cuiron by Helmut Lang, which was lovely, was supposed to smell like. It doesn't smell at all like the other leather-types I've smelled; meaning, I don't have to concentrate to get the leather. I don't have to wait for an epiphany, like with Cuir de Russie. It's much more leather than Bel Ami (but Bel Ami is its own animal, and very beautiful in its own right.) (Kelly Calèche--this is not a leather scent. I know everyone goes on about how it smells like a leather bag, but I think it's a floral-vegetal scent with some leather thrown in. Pleasant in its way, but not a leather.) This gives it to you straight-up: dry suede woody leather, not moist or oily or rubbery, not too smoky. Nothing too distracting in it. It's absolutely flawless. (And this after an unsuccessful search for Lancôme's Cuir (which I now find is called Cuir de Lancôme?)--a cologne I can't imagine ever finding in the States, since the name is pronounced [queer], unless you go all French on it with the breathy, long e and the soft r, and that sounds pretentious. When Cuiron was out, someone I know who worked at Bloomingdales said they pronounced it "seer-on." I don't think that's because they didn't know how to say it; I think it was so it would sell to American men who would, ridiculously, be turned off by a name that is pronounced "queer on!").

Then, of course, I smelled Tobacco Vanille. Hundreds of years ago this cologne would be seen as a reason to believe in a Deity. It's perfect. Just perfect. And here I thought Five au Clock au Gingembre was the perfect tobacco scent. Oh no. This is mind-boggling. To get an idea of its scent, imagine plunging your nose into a bag of fresh pipe tobacco that has had too many flavor chemicals added to it. It's just impossibly beautiful and rich: that cherry-like topnote that's in some tobacco blends (which is probably more accurately described as a cherry-almond, but I got rich cherries), but it stays rich with a bombastic pipe tobacco accord that is everything you want from one: sweet, cocoa-like, rich, herbal.... This is how the site (which you may need a cold shower or some hand lotion to look at--I love you, Tom Ford) describes it:

A modern take on an old world men’s club. A smooth Oriental, TOBACCO VANILLE opens immediately with opulent essences of Tobacco Leaf and aromatic spice notes. The heart unfolds with creamy Tonka Bean, Tobacco Flower, Vanilla and Cocoa, and finishes with A Dry Fruit Accord, enriched with Sweet Wood Sap.
Yes, I get tobacco leaf and dried fruit notes. I'm sure there's a cocoa and a tonka accord in there (can you do a tabac without a tonka/coumarin note)? I'm wondering what it means by "dry fruit accord"--I think I remember reading in The Secret of Scent that damascones can have a dried-fruit smell, one which was described as smelling like those women's clothing catalogues that come out in autumn, with all the orange sweaters and the browns and ecrus and slightly desaturated reds. I'd love for a perfumer to take me through this scent and tell me what goes where and what creates this and how this modifies that.....

The thing I find a bit strange about the scent is that it's called Tobacco Vanille. Why the Vanille? Hasn't tobacco been flavored for years with vanillic and tonka like chemicals? Flavored tobacco implies something vanillic. If I'm not mistaken, tobacco was flavored with coumarin for years. And there's some cologne at Barneys, some Italian name, that makes one called Tabacco, and it might as well be called Tonka, cuz it's heavy on the coumarin note, which smells fucking fantastic. I wish you could perfume shop by entering into a database what you really like---hay, beeswax, tabac, coumarins, helychrysium--and get a report of scents that allegedly contain those notes, scents that smelly strongly of those notes, and scents that incorporate those notes. Or whatever. You can sort of try that with some sites, but it's never worked out perfectly in my experience. You can't do that in a store, because if you say, "I want something coumarinic," no one will know what that means. Of course, I'm being a bit highfalutin when I say that, because I can't say that I've smelled pure coumarin. I've smelled pure tonka absolute, raw tonka beans, hay-type reconstructions, etc. but not pure coumarin. But I feel like I have enough knowledge of the type of note it represents that I can at least name-drop it.

In short, this is the richest, most nearly perfect tabac scent I've EVER come across. Better than Five o Clock au Gingembre, better than Tabacco, better than Havana, better than Tabac Blond if that even counts (I smelled that at the Caron counter, along with Bellogdia. TB=too pricey for what I'd get. Bellogdia=loved it cux I love carnation notes, but then I realized it smells EXACTLY like a $2 carnation oil I bought once. So why not just wear that for carnation? Or L'Air du Temps, if you want something really powdery? I figured I could probably make a carnation scent rather than buy that. I bet I could eventually make something similar to Tuscan Leather, however, now that I'm getting somewhat familiar with leather notes and bases; don't know that I could achieve it's beauty, though, but at least I could get a dry leather note until I could afford to buy the Tom Ford version.)

Those two are my favorites. A few others I tried at the Tom Ford counter: Moss Breches. Fucking GORGEOUS moss. Nerolo Portofino: orange blossom accord. I approve. I judge neroli things harshly, because I remember being driven through blooming orange groves on the way to middle school, so I know I've smelled real orange blossoms in bloom. Of course, I can't remember the exact scent, but I know that neroli oil doesn't smell like it, and neither has any reconstruction I've ever come across. But that's what perfumery's about: it's usually not about re-creating nature, but about interpreting something. A perfume isn't a photograph; it's more like a painting, sometimes cubist, sometimes watercolor, sometimes uninteresting, sometimes depthless. I liked the Neroli Portofino; I found it pleasant. But I wasn't in the mood for a neroli, so I didn't really look much at it. I didn't smell the Oud or the Gardenia--I would like to. Two others I smelled: White Suede, which I didn't stay with but liked the topnote. It reminded me of this very almond (perhaps I should say benzaldehydic) fragrance oil I got one Christmas. I think what the fragrance oil was going for was a sweet, snowy almond scent with traces of powdery vanilla and possibly some lemon. I guess it was either to evoke thoughts of cookies or snow, I'm not exactly sure. The almond thing does come along in xmas home fragrances every now and then, though. I also smelled Musk Pure, because I think it was one that I'd read a rave review about. I expected it to be creamy, skin-like, oily and a bit gamey. Instead it just smelled like musks. Meaning, it had that fuzzy/powdery/velvety smell familiar to stuff like detergents, soaps, musk oils from the healthfood store and well, you know. Musks are everywhere. I guess this was just a blend of musks. I was hoping for something a bit shocking, like the "MUSK!" that you think the original material smelled like. As in, something animal, gamey, dirty, but also smooth and warm. Nowadays, however, musk seemingly has come to mean an odorant that is a very large molecule. Or perhaps a large molecule that's not woody-ambery.

Anyway, after looking at the Tom Ford scents I felt something I'd not felt while perfume-sniffing before. I thought to myself, "I don't need to smell anything else. These two scents are the be-all and the end-all. These are the only ones I want." One day I may get them too, which is a testament to how good they are, because I can't say that for my other great scent loves, that is, Cuir de Russie, Five o Clock au Gingembre, and Carnal Flower ($300) and Musc Ravageur from the Frederic Malle line. (Ooh! And since I mentioned that line, and I've blogged about Cashmeran and Dan Tes Bras before: I smelled Alien the other day, which allegedly also has a slew of Cashmeran in it. Maybe it's a cognitive thing, but I really, really smelled the Cashmeran. And once again, I didn't like it.)

OK, so that's all I've got for Tom Ford right now. Tom, if you're reading this, thank you. If you'd like to send me these scents, I would be eternally grateful. If you'd like to give me them in person and hang out and teach me how to be cool, that would be even better.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So I'm the owner of a glorp of 10% Cashmeran. Probably in some kind of glycol or something. Or does it make me sound smart if I say "some sort of propylene"? Whatever, they didn't teach us chemistre in Florida. Only creation. ........And since I'm typing on my janky broken laptop, the series of periods you just experienced constitutes a return. Because my return key doesn't work. Here's another.................. So I'm the owner of some Cashmeran, big whoop, right? What does it smell like, you ask? Cue my comic-worried-exasperated expression as I admit: I DON'T KNOW! Raw materials really are a whole other universe. I expected it to smell, well, "musky woody spicy with a floral undertone," like it was described. Instead, it's more "mineral," or salty or something. Something I don't seem to have the capacity to describe yet. It was the same with ambroxan, except that I smelled that at 100%, which means, essentially, that I didn't smell it at all. Someone was blombling online about how it's hard to work with aldehydes because they're so strong that your nose fatigues almost immediately. I think that's about right. (addendum: yes, I'm aware that Cashmeran and ambroxan are not aldehydes--I think the person who said that was referring to strong raw materials in general--those single molecule ones that I'm sure wouldn't be allowed unlicensed in some future bio-dome) But this Cashmeran is diluted to 10%, so it should be manageable. What I smell is actually not dissimilar to ambroxan, but that's prolly because I have little experience with raw materials. .......................Moving on to tonight, when I went to Barneys to smell perfume I can't afford. Namely, the stuff Frederic Malle puts out. I love Musc Ravageur and Carnal Flower, the latter cuz of its inky, bitter greenitucity (and the former because it's just huge). Tonight I smelled Dans Tes Bras, which I read has an "overdose" of Cashmeran in it. (I wish fragrance marketers would cut it with the word overdose. Anything said often enough by a fragrance marketer sounds like a lie.) I also read some unflattering reviews of it on basenotes. But I had to smell it to see how the Cashmeran translates in the hands of someone who knows how to use it...................... Can I smell it? Yes. It dominates the fragrance, if it's what I'm sensing. And it smells similar to how I've interpreted Cashmeran--in this case, dry, sharp, chemical, a bit woody. As for the fragrance, overall I would say that it smells like a hair dye I once used. So, incidentally, does L'Eau d'Issey, but in a different way. This smells to me like the dye on my hair, with that blaring ammonia smell and everything. Full disclosure: I didn't spray it on my hand; I sprayed it on a card. This could make all the difference, since I suppose it's supposed to have a "skin scent" accord. ? ..........So I don't care for it. And that disappoints me, firstly because I love the idea of the line: just set the perfumers free and let them do what they want (that is the concept, isn't it?). Secondly, because I think I might have met the perfumer, and it's just weird to not connect with something someone you've met has produced. Like when someone plays you his Christmas album and you're just like, "I don't get it." I don't get this fragrance. That said, I'm pretty sure the same perfumer made Musc Ravageur, which I'm quite fond of, and if it weren't priced for the King of Moneyland I might buy. Although the last time I wore it someone in an elevator said, "Who's wearing Shalimar?" ...........I suppose there are worse things for a perfume to be mistaken for......... Gloop!.................E

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scent Notes for the Downtrodden

Everyone go have a look at my scent post for the WFMU blog. Click here. Glerp!


The other day I went into the Chanel store, as I occasionally do, and doused myself in the Cuir de Russie. Not because I love the fragrance, but because I want to understand it. It's never smelled like leather to me--more like irisy, or I guess you might say orrisy. But everyone raves about it. And Luca Turin even said it smelled like the inside of a Bentley. Or something. But I've never smelled the leather in it.

The other day I did.

Sure, I still smell that iris/floral/whateverness, but now I smell something sort of akin to leather I think. Something that I've smelled in materials like labdanum and whatnot. Very pleasant.

I want this scent, but it's crazy expensive, so I'm wondering if I should barter something for it. Six months as my favorite, or maybe some personalized hagiography or something. I wonder what would be worth it to the type of person who could afford this fragrance. Hmmmmmm........ Glerp.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


If I were looking for a job in the fragrance industry, would it behoove me to send out paper resumes that I store in a box with a grain of ambroxan at the bottom?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Oh, Lola. Your scent is as ugly as your bottle.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hell is Just Like Soylent Green.

What was that phrase about L'Enfère? Oh yes--c'est les autres. File this in that category.

Since I'm in a bad mood, I might as well mention one of the many annoying things about being a lover of things fragrant. No, not the girlish, frivolous perception that liking perfume has; not the ridiculous fawning over brand names like Chanel and Guerlain; and not the the whole "natural perfume" thing. This is something that could very well be peculiar to me, but I sense is not:

Because I like perfume and scents, people assume that I want to own a "perfume shop." (What IS a perfume shop??? Sephora? Bloomingdales? Crabtree & Evelyn?) The other day someone tried to use this idea of owning a perfume shop as an example to illustrate something about my personality to me. But it fell flat in the same way that people who hit on me used to say that I "would someday be a really famous actor," or some such crap, assuming that would flatter me. But it didn't. Because I never wanted to be an actor (but for a while I let people believe that I did, because it was just easier than going into a whole thing about what I really wanted to do, which wasn't so clear anyway--it didn't matter anyway, because people don't listen, unless they want to fuck you, and then they're just listening for the next thing they can glom onto to get you home with them. L'Enfère...). So naturally whatever target this person was aiming for, he missed.

A lesson, impressionable readers: If you want to seduce someone, or even influence him or her, KNOW the person. Do your homework. Reference what they really are interested in. If someone has really taken the time to get to know you, and wasn't spending the whole friendship waiting to talk about him or herself, that person can make you fall in love with her. Why? Because so few people ever actually pay attention to others. There have been occasions that I have thought, "If that person only meant ______ by that, and was speaking allegorically, it would make him so clever I would fall in love with him." That said, I'm just as guilty as everyone else. I hate it when people glaze over when I talk about perfume, but I regularly go over a mental grocery list when people start talking about their relationships or jobs or cats or nephews. But anyway...

Why do people assume that I want to own a perfume store? The logic doesn't seem straightforward to me. I get the "he likes perfume, so he wants to own a perfume store," but it's far from my idea of the thing someone who likes perfume would want over everything else. It's certainly never been a dream of MINE. The dream, which I think would be beyond obvious, is to have my own perfume. A bottle with my name on it with a scent I had created (by a perfumer, because I can't make perfume--another thing people seem to think is that if you like perfume, you'd be good at blending it. Not necessarily. I have a good voice, I've been told, as far as vocal quality, but I'm a bad singer. Same idea.). Not to own a shop or boutique. The dream is to have a big setup in Bloomingdales, or to create something timeless and iconic, like No. 5. Or even to create really cool commercials, like Calvin Klein's were considered back in the day.

And since I'm bitching and it's a related idea, I don't understand why people think I would want to work at a fragrance company. As an assistant or something. Why in the hell would I want THAT?! It would be great to work at one as a perfumer or even someone in the marketing/advertising side, but not as an assistant or in some accounting role. That would ruin fragrance for me. I love Barnes and Noble, but after working there once for a short period, I wouldn't go into one for almost a year. Why would I want a crappy job at a perfume company?? Because spreadsheets and meetings about perfume are so exciting?? Because maybe 5 floors up and two offices down decisions about something interesting are taking place? So I can read PERFUME executives spell common words incorrectly? It's beyond me.


Bullshit-Inspired Perfumes

I'm not one of those people who cares particularly what a perfume's bottle looks like, but sheesh--how long is this "so shitty it looks like you made it in the garage" look gonna run its course??!?

And maybe it's my present bad mood, but I find something offensive about making a set of perfumes based on the idea of tarot cards. It reeks of gimmickery, or, as the Mugler people would call it, "gadgetry." (I will never forget that from their presentation long ago--that, the fact that the one could call dogs with his s's, and the whole "skin accord smelling like butter" thing.) However, it's not half as offensive as the article in Elle about it. It makes me want to vomit when I read these purple descriptions of the "notes," and I'd rather have explosive diarrhea than read their "who it would be great for" claptrap. Like one of the scents would be great for Lady Gaga and another would be perfect for Linsday Lohan. Blech!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Zest Aqua, You Are My Cool Wintergreen Breeze

Zest Aqua:

If you were a perfume, I would wear you every day.

(Except the days I wouldn't.)

Do you have a sister named Amarige?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eternity for Men Summer, I choose you.

I've lived long enough and know enough about perfume to be both proud and ashamed that I like Eternity for Men Summer.

What's more is why I like it: It smells like a mashup of Eternity for Men and Escape for Men.

Every time I smell it, I shall think, "I have EARNED this."

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Allright now, seriously. Is anyone taking "the FiFis" seriously? I'm so not taking it seriously that I'm not even going to check the spelling. Is anyone out there aching to watch/read the results of the FiFis? Is anyone liveblogging them, having parties for them, gearing up beer-pipe hats for them? I'm guessing.................... not.

Unless you're a perfumer or a company. Or maybe a tiny town in France that supports one perfumery, and has a scent that's nominated. (Although I've always felt, flipping through the nominees or results, that every release gets nominated.) But if you're a regular person, can you really get excited about them? Even if you love perfume?

Because really, you have to admit that the name is stupid. The FiFis??? Isn't that what clueless, awful rich women in sitcoms named their toy dogs-when-they-weren't-cool? (They're still not cool to me.) At least Oscar is a real name. And Emmy could be the name of a plus-size model. And Grammy is some scifi, spaceage name from the future. Or past! And with none of those names do you have a substantive connotation. FiFi sounds like a froufroulala, frivolous name. And yet we use it for the perfume awards. When most people consider fragrance completely frivolous and unnecessary; and worse: "girly." Could there be a bigger sin than "girly" in American culture? (Hmmm, maybe "poor." "Not always ebullient" could be another, but it's such a long, enervating phrase. ) (I love that word, enervating. I once filled in for someone at some job who had a really long, really clumsy quote tacked up. I don't remember it, because it was so long and ploddy that it wouldn't have stuck in my mind, but I remember the gist: it was trying to sound profound, so instead of short beats of words, it used long, clunky ones. Enervated was one of those. Why say enervated when you can just say tired? ESPECIALLY if you're trying to create an aphorism!) I wish we could call the awards anything different. Anything that maybe conveyed that there's more science behind perfumery, without the art losing some of its sensuousness. Because the whole goal of fragrance is sensual pleasure; technology plays a huge role, but it's all in the service of creating pleasure. Words to build a society by, people!

Of course, it's not just the name. Two other things come to mind: First is the fact that if you read through the nominations (which I'm too lazy to link to), you get the impression that EVERYTHING has been nominated. There are a lot of divisions, but if you think about it, there should really only be two primary ones: Expensive perfume and Cheap perfume. That's like Best Picture and Best Actress. There are subdivisions, but those are pretty much it. With the FiFis, it's hard to know exactly what they mean, so you assume that they just invented categories so everyone could win. Second is that too many nominations seem to have an obvious winner. For example, Chanel's No. 5 Eau Premiere is nominated. Well, that's gonna take that category. People fall head over heels to praise No. 5, so that's in the bag. I'm not such a big fan of No. 5, to be honest, but I don't need to be to say of Eau Premiere: Enough already. How long ago did that scent come out? You already have 5 in eaux de toilette and parfum and in parfum as well; and while it slips my mind right now, I'm thinking there's another offshoot of 5 out there. So why make Eau Premiere? It's like making wet wetter. Or more like making money more moneylike.

So that's what I think of the FiFis. Tell all your friends!


Monday, April 20, 2009


I do have to rant about this. Perfume people at Bloomingdales: I hate you. I absolutely detest you.

I went in to Blooms with a friend so he could get a new cologne. The Perfume book from Luca Turin had called his scent, one by Clean, a "trash floral." So he wanted a new one. I suggested Chanel's Pour Monsieur, since it's practically the reference sweet citrusy and a little floral type scent. (For a while I hated it, because I'd worn it to some job interview or something at Universal Studios, and it was a bad experience, and my mind had tied the scent together with it. So for years I just couldn't get near it. I like it again now, though.) So we went to Blooms and smelled it at the Chanel counter, where no one bothered us. He loved it. Then we went to other counters.

Such a horrible experience. Everywhere you turn people trying to get you to come to their counters and smell things that you've smelled before. But the worst are when the people try to tell you what to smell. And by that I mean the ones who turn you away from the women's scents, as if you don't know what you're looking at, and push the men's scents, only because you're a man. First off, I know I'm smelling "women's" scents. I don't need to be told. And I don't need to be told that I SHOULD be smelling the men's. I'll smell and buy and wear whatever the hell I want! And in the end it won't make any difference. People most likely won't even pick up on the fact that the scent is for women. Secondly, is it too much to ask that the people selling the scents know how to pronounce them? No, it's not "oh duh Haddrien," It's Eau D'Hadrien. Not difficult. You don't have to speak French to know how to say one phrase.

So yes, the perfume counter at Bloomingdales is a horrible place. But I'll probably still take it over the bitches at the Saks counter. Then again, I haven't been there in so many years, since I stopped going when I asked to smell No. 4 at the Jil Sander counter and the woman helping me couldn't find it, and suggested I try another one. "Here, this one is good too...." WHA??!?!




So the other day I was at Sears (!) and I was peeping at the miniatures. I like miniatures, since there's no commitment--you can enjoy the scent, but it won't last long enough for you to get tired of it and you won't lay out a lot of dough. I decided to get a li'l mini of Paloma Picasso, since I'd had one before and really liked it. And when I used to smell it frequently in Atlanta (it was one of the first chypres I ever liked) I used to go crazy over it. It was mossy and dark, and I would always end up thinking of enchanted forests and that kind of thing when smelling it. It's almost like a more floral version of Aramis to me.

So I got the mini and opened it to smell it. I put it on my hand and was kinda shocked at how it smelled. It wasn't anything like the Paloma I remember. This one was all rosy and kinda fresh, and I could barely smell any moss at all. It was actually quite horrible. Has Paloma been changed in the past few years? When I smelled it ca. 1998 in Atlanta it was at a discount place, so the bottle may have been old. And when I had a mini here that was old too--I think I got it at Canal street. Even the juice was kinda dark. Is it possible that in between those bottles and now the perfume has had everything interesting reformulated out of it? If so, that's pretty sad.


Monday, February 16, 2009


That stands for "today's sojourn through SoHo." I just have a couple things to say, so I'll be uncharacteristically brief.

Banana Republic's candles are exceptional. I like them all, although it's confusing to me why the one with a name like "Fireside" smells so intensely vanillick. (I'm sorta making up that word cuz I don't know if one says 'vanilla' or 'vanilla-like.' I'm sure if enough people see this post, someone will tell me. They always do.) Shouldn't it smell more like firewood? It's nice, though. And another of them smells woody and smoky. They're to be commended in that they all smell kinda dry, not too sweet. There must've been a temptation to make the Sangria one smell sweetier and fruitier, like an Escada perfume (I look a' thee, Tropical Punch. That said, I used to wear a fake of you, and I got complimented by guys in a grocery store. Hmmm, was I in good shape then? I'd like to think it was the perfume they said smelled great; but hell, it was a gay part of town and I had a toned body a few years back. Whatevz), but they held back and it's fruity-but-not-too-sweet. So their candles rock.

Their fragrances? (Eaux de Toilette, which Comptoir Sud Pacifique call "Eaux de Voyage"--good for you CDP! Sharp and bold. You rock for that. So much for brevity. And coherence. I'll quote the SOV here: "Oh gosh, I'm not posh. I do what I'm doing, yeah.") Not so great. Nothing particularly wrong with them, they're just not up to much. Like, I'd wear Corduroy or Black Walnut, but I'd never, like, pine for them, you know? But the worst is their main one, which I smelled today for the first time in a while. I've been a little interested in their newer ones, and I remember the main one being flimsier, but I tried it again today, as I read the description: "Modern, clean...." There was another word in there, but it seemed like what they were implying was that you'd smell essentially of nothing. Of just "clean." And clean in the way that things are clean in Gattaca. Because really, isn't everyone who shops at BR (and especially Club Monaco and FCUK) trying to live in Gattaca? Anyway, so I sprayed it on, wondering if it would prove to be this amazing cologne that really did smell of modern, clean minimalism; and if so, what kind of layering possibilities could that create? Something that gives you a minimalist clean scent, something between laundry, ozone and stainless steel--you could match that with anything ozonic or aquatic; maybe with green smells or that Marc Jacobs one that's very figgy. Hmmmm, just the smell of cleanliness and simplicity, that would be interesting. So did it smell like that?

No, not at all. It started out with what I guess was a grapefruit smell--something zingy but not in a ginger zingy or a nose-tingling way. Then there was this weird fern(?) or green(?) accord that persisted a while. Then it was all laundry detergent. Which is what I expected initially. Pleasant? No. Interesting? Yes. Because even though it had that green/fern accord, which smells kinda 70s, but they did it light here, which was unexpected, it said NOTHING from start to finish. It had less personality than Clinique's Chemistry. It said absolutely nothing. And if you can appreciate fragrance at all, then you know what I mean. A good fragrance, for the generic you, is one that speaks to you. It could be Stetson Original, Individuel, Polo, CK One, Baldessarini, Gentleman, Equipage, Un Jardin Sur le Nil, 5 O' Clock au Gingembre, or anything. Even Lady Stetson. As long as it says something to you deeply, it's a good scent for you. Maybe not for the rest of us, especially if it's something like, say, Le Male (cuz let's face it--that's LOUD), but it's the best for you. And for the peeps out there who like fragrance (and I guess you wouldn't be on this page if you din't), you know that some scents have something to say, some have more to say, and you don't necessarily have to like them to say that; but there are also scents that say nothing. And this BR one falls into that category.

I think it's amazingly ironic that it bills itself of smelling like nothing but clean and tries to do so by communicating nothing. If the description were the perfume brief, and they had a talented perfumer, I'm sure that it could smell like that--there's new scent tech coming out all the time; what they can do with raw materials now is astounding. But alas, it only could've been. (They're playing some love song written to the tune of Greensleeves on the radio now. It's distracting. And it's really crappy. How fitting.)

So that was BR. I also sniffed some scents at French Connection UK. I went in there specifically to try to bribe a cashier to steal one of the mannequin wigs for me. Because they're cool, and if one fit, I'd shave my head and wear it all the time. I smelled their two fragrances, which were bland and terribly preictable. The first was this one that was supposed to smell really fresh, but smelled really HARSH like Demeter's Gin & Tonic, but with a lemon note. I tried to like it, but it was gross. The other was better, but so forgettable that I don't recall it, except I remember them telling me it was the "more masculine" of the scents, which were both "technically unisex." Yeah, that technically unisex thing is huge--right now, the trend at the expensive houses is to make everything unisex, which makes sense from an artistic standpoint, and if it could make florals more acceptable for men, which would be awesome. But it'll never work in the US at least. Because the companies know that they can keep Americans convinced they have to wear their own "gender" of scent, and that's a scent strategy that potentially doubles your consumers. God help us, Gaultier is trying to introduce makeup for men, and please cod, let this never take on. Just my personal bits: 1) It's so nice to NOT have to wear something more. I mean, now everyone's getting manicures and pedicures and shaving this and trimming that.... who needs one more thing you have to do? 2) Honestly, most women can't put on makeup. So let's not make men try and have more dumb-looking faces out there. If you can't wear makeup, girls, don't wear it. You'll probably look better without it--no woman NEEDS to put on lipstick and eyeliner to look presentable. 3) I'm sure men wearing makeup would look like men who get their eyebrows waxed: ghastly. Now granted, someone from Los Angeles told me the other day that those are only the men with the bad wax jobs. The ones with the good wax jobs, you can't tell. But finding a good eyebrow waxer seems like it would be as difficult as finding someone who can take your dark brown-with-gray hair up to when-I-was-23 light brown with NO orange. In other words, damn forking hard. So I'll pass on the whole eyebrow waxing thing. For the record, though, I've been known to put on makeup for occasions--like do the whole raccoon-eye thing on Halloween or New Years' Eve or shit (see above); but not for everyday.

That was FCUK. I stop into Mont Blanc to smell some Presence, because I like the way it smells. The person behind the counter, who I really wanted to talk about the cologne with (without him thinking I was hitting on him), didn't seem to want to engage. Or maybe didn't know anything about the colognes, which I think may have been the case, since he called Individuel a "day fragrance" (IIRC, the shite smells like electric neon raspberry-strawberry, the olfactory equivalent of staring into a pink eclipse) and said that his other main fragrance is Le Male. OK, that's all I needed to hear. It was like when that chick who sells tickets at Angelika told me that that STUPID Woody Allen movie, Rebekah and Clairemooneydoo's Most Awesome Barcelona Adventure, was a "good movie," like "Woody Allen grows up." She was serious, incidentally; if she's in college, she hasn't met the "older man who's doing well" yet who will date her and hopefully teach her a bit about culture. (No, I'm not old enough yet to be that guy. He has to be in his 40s and have more gray in his hair.) Oh, and Presence is discontinued. So I left.

And I only mentioned Club Monaco because they had an awesome orange belt that I wondered if I should buy. I mean, I AM orange, right? Oughn't I to own the perfect shade of orange belt? Unfortunately, it was one of those wire ones that you have to tie, and I can't figure those out. Fortunately, I'm just fat enough to never need to worry about people seeing my belt, because I wear all my shirts untucked. Thanks cod that is doable these days. In the 50s, they'd ship you off to a leper colony if you went around with your shirt untucked.

Then I bopped in Sephora. Damn, that place is such a disappointment these days. The word naff comes to mind, even though I hate the concept behind that word. There are only three men's scents I'd spray in that store: Polo, Eau d'Orange Verte or maybe Baldessarini del Mar, and that Prada one that smells of orris, which is an impressive scent to me, because when I'd first smelled Prada I declared it all shite, and my mom wears Prada occasionally, and I absolutely detest the smell of it. I may just get her some Beyond Paradise or Burberrry London for her birthday. Hmmmm, maybe I should get a scent that's xmas-appropriate, though, if she's going to wear it when I'm down at xmas. Then again, that may not make any difference--she was wearing Pleasures Intense at xmas. That's nothing near an xmas scent. It's a finnocking good scent, though. I wish my mom wore more Esteee. ANYWAY.... You can't find estee lauder in Sephora, there's so much else you can't find. It's just a huge storehouse for dreck. Sure, they have Opium and some Chanel stuff (blech), but almost all of it is the new JLo or the Escada-of-the-month or whatever Calvin Kliein or Armani is out now. You used to be able to go in there and smell such a wide range of things, from ancient ones to totally modern; now it's like a bigger, more expensive KMart cosmetics department. Such a shame. But while I was in there, I checked out the new version of Happy--who can keep up with how many anorexic versions of that polyanna scent they come out with?!--and guess what? It's not unpleasant. There you have it. Then I sprayed Burberry London on a strip--I love that stuff. So floral, almost berry-like. It almost smells like actual flowers some time when you smell the strip. I have to buy that for someone one day. Then I smelled Chanel No 5 to see how it compared with the Burberry---still hate it. Then I smelled Un Jardin Sur le Nil again, and everytime I smell it, I like it more. It's really great for a unisex fragrance--fruity but dry, a little earthy and "vegetal." A roommate of mine wanted to buy it once, but didn't because it was in the "women's" section in Sephora. Ugh. And Hermes calls it unisex, so who is Sephora to classify it like that?! Same with Eau de Cartier--the original formulation is in the women's section, the "concontree" is in the men's. I guess the concentree is probably a more traditionally masculine variation on it, rather than a more concentrated version. Canny of Cartier to do it like that--disappointing, but canny.

And that was the last of the smells. Oh wait, I ambled into Fresh for a while, but I just hate that place. It's all crap except the cucumber one. The Milk scent COULD be something good, but how would we know? It doesn't come in a spray, and it's too hard to get what it would smell like as a cologne by smelling the soap. The Tobacco Caramel scent is a disgrace. How hard could creating something called Tobacco Caramel be? I'll tell you: not hard at all. You just plop together some variation on coumarin and you have tobacco (some of the most expensive "tobacco" scents I've smelled, and I mean EXPENSIVE, smelled just like tonka and nothing more; so you can just put something comarinick in something and get a tobacco note; if you're feeling ambitious, you could combine coumarin with myrrh resinoid, like I've seen advised on a fragrance page) and then any of the accords available to suggest caramel. Hell, a few entries ago I discussed caramel furanone, which is supposed to create a carmel/maple note in extreme dilution. So how is it that their Tobacco Caramel smells nothing like tobacco or caramel? I think it smelled like the crappy, hamstery part of Atlas Cedar. Basically, it offended my nose. If you want something from Fresh, buy the Cucumber Baie. It's bearable. If you like lemon, you might like their Sugar scent (why isn't it called "lemon sugar"?).

OK, so THAT is the TStS beep for today.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


First of all, ugh. I log into blogger and now they list "followers," like twitter?? I feel so much pressure when I see stuff like that. And then I gotta remind myself, "They'll stop following when they see how little I post these days." Sigh, it's like that old saying, "A friend is just someone you haven't alienated yet." Hmmm, now that I think about it, I'm not sure whether that's an old saying or something Mark Baratelli said once. Well, I better give him credit just in case, or he'll go all Exorcist on me. So that phrase originated by the inimitable Mark Baratelli. He also originated this one: "Failure is God's way of telling you to step aside and let the good people succeed." Yes, folk, he's a comedian. But now that that's out of the way....

I have been seriously in neglection to this blog, since it's taken me so long to mention that I went to an event by the New York Academy of Sciences a few months ago about smell. I think that's who put it on--I'm too lazy to look up a link right now. Anyway, someone who did a lot of smell research spoke and the author of that book The Nose Knows. They were both really intelligent: she was pretty and he was engaging. I can't remember all that much about the presentations. There were a few bits that I didn't already know (and not a small bit of 'what I already know' had come from just perusing that Nose Knows book); but I honestly can't remember them right now. Well, I remember one, because what really stood out for me was smelling some of the raw materials they'd put out, which included:

Hexanal, vanillin, jasmine absolute, boar attractant spray and androstenone. I'd smelled all but the latter two (well, I'd never smelled plain old vanillin, but I'd smelled artificial vanilla extract, and that's just vanillin, alcohol, water and possibly a sweetener or preservative or something), and the latter two were essentially identical. In the talk they discussed androstenone and androstedienone--one or both accounts for a large part of the odor of male sweat. It was thought to be a human pheromone, but I think they said it doesn't have that function. It does, however, act very clearly as a pheromone for pigs, hence the boar spray. Two thirds of humans can detect the odor, and typically they describe it as unpleasant--sweaty, urinous or chemical. One-third of humans, who have a different genotype (I think it's one gene that codes for the ability to smell the molecule), either smell nothing or describe the odor as sweet, vanilla-like. So we all smelled it after the presentation to see which camp we fell into.

I could smell it. To me it smelled like a harsh synthetic woody chemical, so I guess you could put me in the "unpleasant," "chemical woody" camp (because there were actually a lot of different descriptors people used for it, from chemical to woody to urinous to sweaty to whatever; but urinous/sweaty seemed to be a dominant description for it), which sounds salacious to me ever since someone pointed out the double entendre of the word woody and insisted the word I wanted to use was "woodsy." No, woody is what I read everywhere. When I think of 'woodsy,' I think of the smell of a forest. Woody connotes the smell of the wood--it could mean sawdust, a particular raw material, a tree.... Woodsy connotes the smell of a wooded area-with the earthy notes and everything.

Anyway, after the speeches there was supposed to be a spread from Whole Foods, but it was so overcrowded in the reception area and the skrimps were so practically gone that I just went to a nearby Indian place, peeved at the crowdedness.

And that's the science beep for today.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Axe Dark Temptation

Y'know, I'd be really remiss if I didn't mention this stuff. Here's the dizeezy:

When I went home for xmas, I didn't take any deodorant, because who knows if you have to put it in that ziploc bag, right? Well, we went to Publix (don't get me started on Publix; I change words in xmas songs to "Publix" because I love it so. One of the biggest joys of xmas is just being in Publix), and I'm looking through the deodorants (these days I pretty much always wear either Old Spice Original or Speed Stick Musk. However, I'm open to exploring other deo choices; I would just prefer ambery/woody/musky to fresh/ozonic/citrusy), and I see this Axe Dark Temptation body spray. And I was like, WTF??! Because everything about the bottle suggested that it would smell of chocolate (the tagline is "as irresistible as chocolate," even); and I thought that pretty surprising. Because I've smelled the Axe body sprays before, and by and large I don't care for them. I'm sure part of that is because I can't remember the ones I've actually smelled, since the names are all so dopey that I don't pay attention to them when I give em a try. But the chocolate angle really intrigued me--it's like Angel has finally made it to the men's body spray market. So I said to Mom and I'd give it a try, and even if I didn't like it, "I could write about it in my perfume blog." And I was not in a contemplative mood when I said that!

So I started using it, and I started having those, "Who is wearing that amazing perfume?" and "Why does it smell like great perfume in here?" And I put two and two together and realized it was the Axe. OK, it doesn't smell THAT wonderful, like it could replace your regular scent, but it's pretty damn good, and the best for a body spray that I've ever smelled. And if you use it, when you try it out you'll probably have that experience of smelling the clothes that it was on when you wore it and thinking, "How did a nice perfume get in these clothes?" because it almost smells like the last remnants of a nice perfume. And yeah, perfume. Not "cologne."

Does it smell chocolatey, though? Hmmmmm. Maybe a little. No more than that candle company's "Mexican Cocoa" scent, that I discussed somewhere below. I guess if you're thinking "chocolate" when you smell it, or if you layer it with a good chocolate (Amour de Cacao, I still can't stop extolling your praises), you'd call it chocolatey. I wouldn't say chocolate immediately. I don't know what I'd say--perfume-y? ambery? But even though it doesn't really smell like chocolate, it's certainly versatile, and maybe if you layered it right, you could walk through the streets smelling like chocolate cake. Here's a recipe for that:

-cocoa butter out of the shower
-a cream-cheese scented body oil (because it's hard to find a good chocolate one--chocolate must be tricky, because it can smell like a Milky Way the second you put it on, but then usually it collapses, sometimes into tobacco, sometimes into shitty-cheap vanilla)
-Amour de Cacao all over

But that's kinda boring. Let's get REALLY gourmand:

-that cocoa butter oil gel in the shower; the one that smells like almond-hazelnut
-cocoa butter out the shower
-that Pink Buttercream Frosting body spray, or a cotton-candy one if you're feeling daring or girly
-that cream-cheese oil mixed with that macadamia oil
-Vanille-Amande by CSP
-Amour de Cacao for a chocolate thing; Vanille-Banane for a fruity tone; both for if you want to see if you can pull it off

Now if you wear that, you may get told one of the following things:
1) It smells like vanilla over here.
2) You smell like cookies!
3) It's like getting mugged by a bakery.

Only #3 is positive.

But I've gotten off-topic, and notice that I didn't include the Axe in the chocolate recipe, because it smells more complex that that. I really like the way it smells (it doesn't smell like Axe) and I hope it stays on the market.

Now, there are some other new(ish?) Axe products out there: One based on vetyver (it says so on the label); one of bergamot and I think an amber. These are less exciting. I have the vetyver--I liked it initally, because it seemed to smell earthy and not sweet like vetyver, but the more I use it, the more it seems that that's just the very initial expression, and once it fades, you're left with a regular Axe scent. The thing about the chocolate is it smells just as good, maybe better, 12 hours after you first sprayed it on.


ADDENDUM: I got the body wash the other day, and it smells even better than the spray. It smells spicier, and even a bit chocolately, and kinda like Angel for men without the laundry note. Yeah, it smells awesome. I'd say get it before they take it off the market. It's one of the best-smelling shower gels out there, if you like those. Suave's Mango-Pomegranate smells good too. And there's one by Zest that's absolutely incomparable. Can't remember the name, though, but all the gels from Zest are good. Just goes to show ya--you don't have to spend a mint for good-smelling shower gel.

Friday, February 06, 2009

And the answer to the mystery is....

...Maple Furanone. I think.

So you know about the mysterious maple syrup smell that has ever and anon wafted around NYC, right? I think it started in 2005, and I remember learning of it from gawker, because I don't remember ever smelling it myself, even though I lived in the Columbia 'hood at the time. Anyway, for some time now I've been certain that it's maple furanone. Why? Uhhhh, because I'm a scent nerd---DUH!

But seriously, this is why: I knew that caramel furanone is one b9itch of a molecule that you don't want to mess around with. Because it's STRONG. Believe me. I've once owned some 3% caramel furanone (diluted in propylene glycol, I believe), and trust me, it's very, very, very strong. Now, I knew that it was extremely strong, so I thought maybe it could be the culprit behind the mysterious maple smell, because it can smell of caramel or maple, depending on the concentration. Amberway, one day I was googling it and came across this page from Leffingwell, about burnt sugar notes. And it discussed maple furanone, which apparently is MUCH stronger than CF. Behold:
With a detection threshold of 0.00001 ppb maple furanone is nearly 3,000,000 times more powerful than cyclotene and in fact is one of the most powerful flavor chemicals known to man.

Odor Detection Threshold (in water) = 0.00001 ppb
Powerful maple-caramel aroma and taste

When I read that I knew for certain that this had to be the chemical behind the maple smell. Because I know there are flavor/fragrance manufacturers in NYC and NJ (the actual manufacturing plants are probably all in NJ; the "artistry" is probably done at headquarters in the city, perhaps like at a place like Symrise), and it's entirely possible that just a small spill of MF could scent a whole city. I know I read something in a Luca Turin book (methinks) about a town in France that smelled like a cumulus-cloud-sized fruit (pineapple? mango?) when someone dumped some of a certain raw material down the drain chez a fragrance material manufacturer's.

Annehathaway, when Bloomberg announced today that the source of the odor (and who knew they were really researching the source?!) was some plant in NJ that manufactures flavors from fenugreek, I knew that it had to be MF, because it's extracted/synthesized from fenugreek (another name for it is ethyl fenugreek lactone). Now, he said that the odor was an ester, and I admit: I don't know enough chemistry to speak to that, but I feel sure that MF is the the culprit here--perhaps the 'ester' part comes in when we're talking about what it's diluted in? A company in NJ manufactures it 50% in "Triacetin"? According to wikipedia, triacetin is "
the triester of glycerol and acetic acid." So maybe that's where the ester part comes in.

Arboritumway, I made sure to post my prediction for what the smell was on the boards for the Brian Lehrer show today before Bloomberg announced it, and either I was right or sounded right enough, because a producer emailed me and asked if I had insider info. "Nope, just an enthusiast"--story of my life, right? Whatevz--so I might be on the show for minnut or two tomorrow for "follow-up Friday," but we'll see.

But I certainly didn't post with any thought of getting on the air--my thought was to DOCUMENT this shelleezy. Because I KNOW I had mentioned to someone that the maple smell must be maple furanone in the past year or so. I know that I had. So when I posted that, I took screenshots, because it's about time I started getting cred for my predictions. I'm like the Faith Popcorn of, well, uh, all that random stuff I'm interested in, except I don't have a drag queen-sounding name. (I have a "sounds like a Duke in England" name.) For further proof of my dizzazzling prognostication powers, I direct Thee to my latest post on the WFMU blog, where I discuss how I've been saying that "oxytocin is the new serotonin" since at least 2003. (It's a 13,000-word entry. No, really. That's according to Microsoft Word's "word count" feature. So scroll to the endnotes for the oxytocin ish. Yes. I did endnotes. Because I can get highfalutin.)

I shall post the screenshots laterly, since I forgot even to email them to myself. But I shallst!!

And that's the I-was-right-bow-down-before-my-futureknowingness beep for now.


PS: Yes, I'm available for fragrance private investigator work. My consulting rate is, uh, $1,495.77/hr. And, yeah, we can work this into a movie or TV series if you want: Ed Shepp: Scent PI. We'll have to shoot on location in Hawaii, though, because that's where my character will be scouring nature for new odorants when he's not solving mysteries 'n stuff. Know wa'ah mean?