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Saturday, February 8, 2020
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Suggestions for your senses,
every Saturday at 9 a.m.
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SPONSORED BY
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Good morning.

This week, we highlight the multifaceted work of artist Derrick Adams, thumb through The Gentlewoman’s new mini-magazine, discern top-quality matcha with Kettl, listen to love songs with Maroon 5’s Jesse Carmichael, and learn how roses became a symbol of romance.

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See
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Adams Family
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Derrick Adams’s “Style Variation 21” (2019).
Courtesy the artist/Luxembourg & Dayan and Salon 94.

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Explorations of black culture and identity in America figure prominently in the work of artist Derrick Adams, whose diverse practice spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, sound, video, and more. For his latest show, “Transformers,” at Luxembourg & Dayan’s London gallery (on view through April 4), Adams shares new large-scale works from his “Beauty Works” series, which takes inspiration from the beauty supply stores, wig shops, hair-braiding parlors, and nail salons found in his Brooklyn neighborhood (and many other cities around the world, including Baltimore, where Adams was born and raised). Reflecting on these cultural and social rituals, his multilayered portraits celebrate, construct, and deconstruct the physical act of grooming, personal style, and consumerism. 

“Transformers” is just one in a trio of shows by Adams to catch these next few weeks: Salon 94 is presenting a new series of his work, “We Came to Party and Plan,” at Frieze Los Angeles next weekend, and his solo exhibition “Buoyant” opens March 7 at the Hudson River Museum in New York. Adams’s work seems to be everywhere these days—we even noticed one of his paintings hanging behind Jay-Z in a recent New York Times portrait taken at Roc Nation’s Los Angeles offices.
 

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Touch
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Tiny Tome
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Courtesy The Gentlewoman
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When British editor Penny Martin and the creators of BUTT and Fantastic Man launched The Gentlewoman, in 2010, it boldly introduced a new type of “women’s magazine.” Redefining notions of female aspiration and personal style altogether, The Gentlewoman features candid profiles and in-depth interviews with figures across the age, cultural, and professional spectrum—everyone from Adele and Angela Lansbury to Simone Biles and Sofia Coppola. Now in its tenth year, the biannual publication with highbrow taste and a cult following is, cheekily, celebrating the major milestone with a mini-magazine. Measuring less than 3.5 inches tall, and nearly as thick as it is wide, it’s designed to fit in the palm of your hand, though the message is no less powerful for its size. Clocking in at 580 pages, it collects all The Gentlewoman’s cover stories to date, including those printed in its earliest (and now rare and sought-after) issues. At once understated and adorable, the handheld compendium is a delightful design object in itself—an ideal gift for the discerning modern woman, print-obsessive, and/or Irma Boom fan in your life. With its sleek white cover, it makes for a playful foil to the everyman’s little black book.

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SPONSORED BY
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Taste
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Meet Your Matcha
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Courtesy Zach Mangan/Kettl
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Zach Mangan, founder of the specialty Japanese tea importer, gallery, and café Kettl, tells us what to look, smell, and taste for in a top-quality matcha.

“Our goal is always to educate the customer, because we want them to be able to discern for themselves and to [understand] their own tastes. We always begin by telling them, number one, you’re starting with the quality of the product. Specifically, with matcha (and this more or less applies to all tea), understanding where it’s manufactured and who manufactures it is key. It might be listed as being from Japan, or a region like Uji or Aichi. The more specificity of origin you can get from the product, the better—it’s showing you that the end seller knows where it came from. A lot of the time, what will happen is that the product will change hands so many times by the time it gets to you, that information isn’t clearly labeled. If you’re buying a package of matcha and there’s no origin or country noted, that’s usually a really bad sign. 

The freshness of matcha is also a big thing. There should always be some date stamp explaining a “best-by” date on the bottom. The problem is that, these days, manufacturers are really extending that date out very far, but you shouldn’t buy anything with a date that’s more than six or seven months out.

As for the packaging, what we’re looking for is an airtight seal and an opaque bag. You do not want to see the matcha through the bag at all—so a glass jar, or any type of translucent bag that lets light in is hugely detrimental to the product. Because matcha is such a fine powder, factors like light, heat, moisture, and temperature are really important. If you’re buying a tin and the person selling the matcha to you keeps their tins in a refrigerator, that’s a very good sign. 

Those are three key things that indicate the tea is going to be in great condition. Then, when you open the package, what you’re really looking for is an immediate fragrance—everything from notes of fresh grass, hazelnut, and kombu, which also come through in the flavor… It’s an inviting, and strong, earthy aroma. Fragrance is a great indicator that the molecules and the chemicals in the tea are still very fresh. Your reaction should be immediate and visceral, like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot going on.’ Finally, look for vibrancy, consistent texture, and bright green color. Color is a great indicator of quality and freshness. 

You can buy great matcha for twenty dollars, and you can find some exceptional matcha for much more. In any case, you have to align your expectations with your price. Generally speaking, you’re going to hit the twenty- to thirty-dollar mark for a pretty good bag of matcha.” 

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Hear
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In the Mood for Love
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Photo: Andrew Zuckerman
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With Valentine’s Day on the way, singer-songwriter Jesse Carmichael, the keyboardist and rhythm guitarist of Maroon 5 (and a sometime collaborator of The Slowdown), shares a playlist featuring a few of his favorite love songs.

“Introduction Into the Fine and Mellow,” Billie Holiday
“Billie Holiday and an amazing ensemble of musicians play this fine and mellow rendition of an honest love song. Check out the live performance this recording was made from, on the 1957 CBS TV show The Sound of Jazz.”
 
“This Will Be Our Year,” The Zombies
“An optimistic take for the next twelve months and the strength that love can bring. Very relevant in 2020.” 
 
“God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys 
“A mandatory inclusion for any love song playlist.” 
 
“You’re So Cool,” Hans Zimmer
“Hans Zimmer’s lovely homage to Carl Orff’s ‘Gassenhauer.’ From the movie True Romance, a very sentimental—and very violent—take on love.” 
 
“If It’s Magic,” Stevie Wonder 
“Stevie Wonder is magic, and this song is beautiful. Harp by Dorothy Ashby. Amen.” 
 
“That Old Feeling,” Chet Baker
“Chet Baker and his band putting the cool into West Coast jazz. This vocal performance is laidback and swinging, as is the piano solo by Russ Freeman.” 
 
“Silly Love Songs,” Wings 
“Paul McCartney and Wings ask an important question: ‘Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs… and what’s wrong with that?’” 
 
“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Randy Newman
“What’s better than true friendship?” 
 
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” Lauryn Hill
“Lauryn Hill made us [Maroon 5] want to make our first album, Songs About Jane, sound like it did. This is her version of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s epic song, made famous originally by Frankie Valli (Gaudio was in The Four Seasons).” 
 
“First Day of My Life,” Bright Eyes
“Sweet love song alert, from a great singer-songwriter, Conor Oberst (keep a lookout for new music from Bright Eyes). I love the video for this song, which features couples listening on headphones together.” 
 
“Hannah Hunt,” Vampire Weekend 
“Vampire Weekend is one of my faves. And this song is so well produced and performed.” 
 
“Alma,” Jonny Greenwood
“From Jonny Greenwood’s awesome score to Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson, a very deep movie on the subject of love. The composition features call and response—a good metaphor for love.” 
 
“As Time Goes By,” Harry Nilsson
“This orchestral album by Harry Nilsson is one of the greats. Similar to Greenwood’s score, there’s a lushness to the orchestration here—and what a vocal, performed live with the orchestra.” 
 
“Tristan and Isolde, WWV 90: Prelude and Liebestod,” Richard Wagner
“Also something similar going on here in the chromatic orchestration of this passionate masterpiece by Richard Wagner, from his opera based on the mythological story that inspired the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. Is it a tale of love or addiction? What is love? Why do you humans cry? The A.I. machines WANT TO KNOW.”
 

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Smell
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Rosy View
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Photo: Andrew Zuckerman
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Gardener, rose expert and the author of several books on roses, Stephen Scanniello has had a hand creating in some of the world’s most famous rose gardens, including the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden and the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford, Connecticut. Here, he shares a bit of the long and colorful history of roses.

When did roses first come to be associated with love and romance?

Throughout history, and as far back as the Middle Ages, roses have been a symbol of love, of secrecy, and of honesty. Roses were prominent in communicating many different things. It’s the really wonderful fragrance that puts it at the top of the list for romance. And they were also an ingredient in sex and love potions that were used way back in time. Nowadays, such a “rose potion” might come in the form of body fragrances or lotions aimed at a “feminine” audience. You don’t see roses in many men’s products, although there was a rose in the thirties that was named for [actor, vaudeville performer, and humorist] Will Rogers, and they refer to it as a “real man’s rose.”

Why do you think that is—does it smell different from other roses? 

I don’t know, I think they probably ran out of ideas. [Laughs] It’s a beautiful rose. I mean, it’s hard as hell to grow, but it’s one of those black-red roses.

What are some other famous roses in history?

There’s one rose called the Rosa Mundi, and it was named for Fair Rosamund, traditionally known as Fair Rosamund’s Rose, which then got shortened to Rosamund, and now it’s Rosa Mundi. She was the mistress of King Henry II of England, and the legend is that when she was poisoned by the Queen and subsequently buried, this rose appeared on her grave, smelling wonderful. Another old romantic story revolves around the Sombreuil—technically, it’s called Mademoiselle de Sombreuil—and it was named for a woman who saved her father’s life from the guillotine by drinking a goblet of his blood. It’s a pure white rose. 

Then there was Empress Josephine. At her gardens in Château de Malmaison, outside of Paris, she grew lots and lots of roses, and many of them were sent to her from England with rather stuffy names, like the Rosa Alba Incarnata. She was not into this scientific approach, so she changed the names of many of these roses, and this one became the Cuisse de Nymphe Emue, which means “the blushing sigh of an aroused nymph.”

Given the ubiquity of roses and the tens of thousands of varieties found around the world today, what would you consider the rarest rose?

A truly rare rose? I have one in bloom right now. In the Elizabeth Park greenhouses, I have two roses from two plants of the same variety in full bloom, and it’s a rose that was discovered in Bermuda on a property called Belfield. Bermuda was once the crossroads area of everybody going east, west, north, south, and a lot of plants they left behind acclimated. There are quite a few roses in this collection of pass-along plantings whose origins are unknown. They didn’t come with name tags attached to them, but they’re great roses, perfect for drought and heat. 

This particular Belfield rose is rather simple—it has maybe eight or nine petals, it blooms wide open, and is not your classic cut-flower rose. But it doesn’t stop blooming if it’s the right climate (and that climate, for us, would be in a greenhouse). We think it actually had its origins in China and made its way to Bermuda, and eventually to England and France with the tea trade. This red rose was called, back then, Slater’s Crimson China. We can’t exactly say that what we have from Bermuda is that rose—it looks a lot like it—but the only thing we have to compare to it are botanical drawings of the original, which died off and was lost to commerce, once bigger and better came along. So we think that what we have is one of those roses, and if this particular rose is Slater’s Crimson China, it’s the great-grandaddy of every red rose in the world. All of the Valentine’s Day red roses in the world can be traced back to this flower.
 

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Until next week...

Today’s email was written by Aileen Kwun

Editor: Spencer Bailey
Creative Director: Andrew Zuckerman
Producer: Mike Lala

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