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.)