I had the damnedest time trying to begin this column until I decided to just start it as if I were writing a letter to you, like Tom Wolfe did when he slapped “Dear Byron” on the top of his Kandy-Kolored dragster piece. Byron Dobell! Lord, if THAT’S not me showing my age … Would you believe that we girls still wore gloves to the office in those days? We all had daddy crushes on Byron back then … so avuncular-sexy in that Garrick Utley kind of way. (Christ, showing my age AGAIN!) Honestly, I don’t regret breaking up By’s second marriage.
Living upstate is something I’m still getting used to. The last of my checks from Bazaar came in September. Between that and selling my silk Geoffrey Beene jumpsuits on the RealReal, I have the rent covered through the winter. My apartment is a lovely little garret: two rooms, a kitchenette, and a loo above what used to be a haberdashery and is now a tattoo shop. The ceilings are sloped and I have an old-timey woodstove! I’ve hung Helmut’s nude portrait of me above it.
I’ll admit that Hudson has a better ratio of gays to civilians than my village, Slattern. But to tell you the truth, I prefer the relative quiet of our shabby Main Street, where the Rexall sign is still attached to a real pharmacy instead of a zhuzhed-up showroom full of $3,000 Joe Colombo chairs and Guzzini Meblo floor lamps. The local gentry have taken to me, and I to them. It all began when I was filling the tank of my new-old car, a 2010 Kia Soul, and all the Duck Dynasty boys who hang out in front of the Kwik Fill were sizing me up. Graydon, I may have some tread on my tires, but I still have my wiles and ways. I approached them with my best Betty Bacall sashay and asked the one in the reflective safety vest if I could bum a ciggie. And that was that. His name is Dyer, by the way. DYER. Apt, no?
Graydon, I may have some tread on my tires, but I still have my wiles and ways. I approached them with my best Betty Bacall sashay and asked the one in the reflective safety vest if I could bum a ciggie.
Anyway, I reciprocated Dyer’s generosity a few days later by bringing him and the boys a carton of Pall Malls from the Kingston Costco, and we’ve never looked back. I have become, by the way, the QUEEN of the Kingston Costco! I have a little man there named Ahmad who, the moment he sees me, runs to the back to get “five cases of Kirkland Rioja for Miss Lansy” and loads them into the back of my Kia. (Everyone in our old crowd hates my car, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Tonne Goodman says it looks ugly and boxy. I think it looks like Tony Rosenthal’s Cube in Astor Place.)
Look, Graydon, I will admit that I miss good Szechuan food and the Japanese handscrolls at the Met and my waxer, Olga. But at night, with an NYRB Classic in my hands and the woodstove going, the Kirkland gets me where I want to go. (And at 80 bucks a case, it’s less than what I used to pay for two old-fashioneds at Bemelmans.) And get this—I have turned into a small-town GUMSHOE.
Over the fall, there was a terrible hue and cry about a break-in at Silicon Farm, the weekend estate of Gabriel Tern, who founded DoppKitt, the app-based toiletry-concierge service. Gabe and his baby mommy, Edamame Kirke (yes, of THOSE Kirkes), hardly ever use the place, and when they came up for the last week of October, there was clear evidence that someone had been squatting in their house—leaving dirty dishes in the sink, ciggie butts in the bedroom, a boom box and Marshall Tucker Band CDs in the affinage cave …
At night, with an NYRB Classic in my hands and the woodstove going, the Kirkland gets me where I want to go. (And at 80 bucks a case, it’s less than what I used to pay for two old-fashioneds at Bemelmans.)
Well, everyone’s finger pointed to the town’s chimney sweep, Elihu Griffin, a sweet kid whose family has been sweeping chimneys in Slattern since before the Civil War—which is a hell of a job for Elihu, since he has alopecia and doesn’t have eyelashes or brows to protect himself from the ash. (He wears one of those beekeeper hats.) Elihu has a key to every weekender’s house in Greater Slattern, and as far as the weekenders were concerned, it was an open-and-shut case against the bald kid.
But when photos of the break-in showed up on the Slattern Valley Facebook Forum, something didn’t add up. Graydon, you know that I used to go with an alopecian, right? And also with Shel Silverstein (bald), Jack Barth (bald), and Paul, my dearly departed ex-husband (bald). Joan Buck once asked me, “Lansy, what is it with you and your hairless lovers?” I said, “Darling, it’s that you never have to snake the drains.”
Well, the drain catch in the Terns’ vintage clawfoot tub (which I recognized, by the way, from Penelope Green’s Style-section piece about the house from a while back) was filthy with long, unruly dark hairs. No way in hell could it have been Elihu.
Driving to the Agway with André Leon Talley
As fate would have it, that very same day, I was driving to the Agway with André Leon Talley, who had come up from White Plains for lunch. André hates my Kia Soul more than anyone. It’s just too small for him. He’s like one of those coiled novelty snakes that can barely be pressed back into the can! “I hate this car, Lansy, HATE it!” he said, but he’d promised to help me pick out planters for my little fire-escape terrace, and a promise is a promise.
When we pulled into the Agway, we noticed a Mercedes S-Class about to pull out—pretty fancy motor for this neck of the woods. And would you believe it? Blasting from the car’s windows was … “Take the Highway” … by the MARSHALL TUCKER BAND! I peered into the Mercedes and saw a thirtysomething dude with long, wavy dark hair, bopping to the music with a ciggie in his mouth. So I floored my Kia backwards in order to block the car from leaving the Agway parking lot. André was screaming, “LANSY, STOP, I HATE HATE HATE THIS!,” but, Graydon, your girl was determined.
The Mercedes’s stunned driver stepped out of the car. So did I. “By any chance, sir,” I asked him, “have you been spending time at … Silicon Farm?”
A Wool Caftan of Sunset Colors
He responded—and here I do quote—“You don’t know me, bitch.”
At that point, André removed himself from the Kia: all six foot seven of him, in a glorious wool caftan of sunset colors. He hovered over the stranger, glaring, and simply said, “You … have … perturbed me.”
The poor fellow was quivering at this point, and raised his hands skyward and said, “Look, bro, I don’t want no trouble.”
Graydon, it turns out that he is Joshua Tern, Gabriel’s estranged brother, who was ousted from DoppKitt before their I.P.O. HE, and NOT poor Elihu, was the one squatting at Silicon Farm—or, should I say, REVENGE-squatting!
Well, once the authorities took Joshua Tern away in cuffs, I became something of a local hero, saving an innocent local from false arrest. André is even going to put Elihu on the runway for a show he is styling in Bushwick for Garage magazine. “That boy, he has a lewk,” André says.
I’ll save the best part for last, Graydon. Now that I’m a local hero, the Kwik Fill boys want to apply my crime-solving skills to a new mystery. A cold case in quiet little Slattern. Yes: a MURDER!
But I’ll save that for my next Upstate Journal.
Read Lansy’s next episode here