Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Abundant Life - Putting It All Together

I've always loved fringed jackets since I saw Roger Daltrey's in a photo from Live At Leeds. Even as a child I loved the look of the heavy suede and the way the fringe seemed to lift like wings. And of course Roger Daltrey was a heart throb, the coolest of the cool, and so by the time I was a teenager, I dreamed of the day when I could wear my own fringed jacket to a Who concert and swing my fringe around. That day never came - a friend in high school who had his own fringed jacket got tickets to a concert, but it was far enough away that there was no way I could get my mother's consent to go, never mind being able to afford the ticket, though in those days my friend said he'd give it to me at his cost which was $55.00, a ridiculous bargain for a band like The Who even then.

Over the years I bought different things with fringe, shoes and boots and a vest, but never a jacket, and then one day in her Tribeca loft, a friend handed me the jacket of my dreams that had been given to her by an older friend who lived upstairs and gave it to her because it didn't fit him any more. He'd worn it as a hot young thing, and it was complete with a knife cut from a bar fight - the jacket was so heavy it had saved his life, so not only did I have the perfect jacket but it had a history. I wear it from time to time, but honestly it is so heavy that I have to really be in the mood. I don't know how Roger Daltrey looked so comfortable in his - he looked like he could sleep in it and I know for me that would be impossible.

But I love that jacket and I bring it out when I feel the need for something special, so when I was introduced to the gorgeous photographer and filmmaker Angelica Cabrera by the lovely entrepreneur and philanthropist Sufia Hossain who I have written about in these pages before, and Angelica invited me to do a photo shoot, I knew exactly what I was going to wear. I wore it with a Chloe dress from Cadillac's Castle and vintage Levi boot cut jeans from a favorite thrift store that closed that was once in Union City, and I asked Paul Fitzgerald, the wonderful owner of the beautiful store Urban Consign & Design in Hoboken if we could have the shoot there. With all my favorite things put together, and a new favorite photographer to work with, on a rainy afternoon as the sun started to shine through the clouds, I wandered around a beautiful store with beautiful people and felt like a vintage princess for a day.

Angelica was a dream to work with, truly inspired and gifted, and her partner Josh Brooks kept us laughing while documenting the process. And as for skill and artistry, I'll let the pictures do the talking - I think you'll agree that Angelica has the key.

Photographs By Angelica Cabrera
At Urban Consign & Design
650 Newark Street
Hoboken, New Jersey

The Amazing Angelica Cabrera
Outside of Empire Coffee And Tea Co.
338 Bloomfield Street
Hoboken, New Jersey
Photographed by Jannie Wolff


Jannie Susan

Sunday, April 16, 2017

An Abundant Life - Full Restoration

Several years ago, before I was born again, I went out on the evening before Easter Sunday to a bar on Manhattan's Upper West Side called Lucy's Surfeteria. An actor friend was bartending there, someone I'd met recently through a filmmaker I was working with at the time, and my then boyfriend was doing a play with him so he invited us to come up and have a night out. Lucy's was a party bar, a place to do shots and drink. I don't remember if they served food or not, but we weren't eating. They had a kind of competition, that whoever did a certain amount of different kinds of shots and ended with a shot of tequila and drank the worm would be given two plastic fish, a large whale with a smaller shark in its mouth. I used to pride myself in those days that I could drink with the guys, and so I cheerfully drank everything our new friend passed to us, and walked out the door sometime around 2am with my plastic fish in my raincoat pocket.

I tend to get car sick, especially in New York City cabs, and halfway downtown I knew I'd have to get out and walk. I made it to 23rd Street, and with my then boyfriend grumbling, got out and started walking the rest of the way down to the apartment I lived in at the time on West 10th Street. I chose to walk down 9th Avenue, because the apartment was near the West Side Highway. At some point just below the Meat Packing District, in an area that is now very popular and trendy, but in those days was very desolate and dangerous late at night, a large black car drove by and someone yelled something out the window along the lines of "Hey baby," and I yelled back in very colorful language for them to get lost. The car stopped, and a big group of very big guys got out and surrounded me, pushing my very frightened boyfriend to the side. One of the guys asked me what I had just said, and I repeated it in all its full color, and he took out a gun and said, "Oh, yeah, well look what I have here," at which point I took the two fish I had won at Lucy's out of my pocket, and said, "Oh, yeah, well look at what I have." All the guys nearly fell over laughing, and one of them said, "She is so drunk, let's get out of here," and they got back into their car and drove off.

I think of this story every year when Easter rolls around, and sometimes at other times too. I keep my fish on the side of my bathtub as an every day reminder of the goodness of God. There are many places  in the New Testament where Jesus is in some way around fish or fishermen, or feeding people with fish, and so the sign of the fish is a sign of Jesus. I didn't know that then, of course, but now that I do, I know that the only way I stayed alive and unharmed that night was because of His grace. The other thing that amazes me, in addition to the fact that God chose to intervene in the mess of my life on an evening when I was doing anything but being reverent to the fact that Easter Sunday was the next day, is the humor that He used to save my life with. Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and joy and love, and those things are so powerful when that Spirit is there, that everything else is overcome by them.

This year, when I was invited to spend the Saturday night before Easter with two artists I know who both know the wonder and beauty of God, I knew that it was God's way of reminding me gently and beautifully how different my life has become. I still go out and have fun, and I still enjoy a good party. But the excessive and unhealthy way that I used to overdo has been replaced with enjoying the fullness of an abundant life.

Art Night with Rebecca Fraser and her sister Katherine is a very special evening, something they do for themselves as a way to keep the creative joy flowing. To have the opportunity to share an evening with them was a blessing, and a beautiful reminder of how God not only restores the things that we have lost that others have taken from us, but also those things that we willingly tried to give away. Peace, love, joy, hope, and the ability to enjoy life to the full - all these things and more, our very lives themselves, are given to us as a gift because of Jesus' journey to the Cross. It is something that is impossible to fully comprehend, because the only thing that He asks of us to receive that gift is to have faith and accept Him at His word, that He is who He is and that He did what He did for no other reason than love.

Art Night With Katherine and Rebecca Fraser
Jersey City Heights, New Jersey

Breakfast For Dinner - A Joyous Way To Break Bread

The Fish That Saved My Life


Jannie Susan

Sunday, April 9, 2017

An Abundant Life - A Taste Of Paradise

There's something about peanut brittle that is irresistible to me. My brother loved it too, and when we were growing up he'd have to hide it from me or I'd sneak into his room and finish it all. I used to love to hang out with him when he was drawing - he didn't mind me sitting and watching him, and sometimes he'd share his peanut brittle with me and I'd be in heaven. I've tried making it before because I love it so much, but it's not an easy thing to make and I never really perfected it, so I keep trying to find good peanut brittle wherever I go and nothing seems to match up to the perfection of my memory of sitting in my brother's room and having those long ago treats.

But then one day I saw a photograph of some delectable looking peanut brittle on the Instagram page of Gilbert Antero, and when I commented "One of my favorites," he responded "Stop by." I've been following Gilbert for a while now because his pages are so full of fun and delicious photos, but I know that though he lives in a town that is not very far from me, it is far enough that to just stop by would be difficult. I looked more closely at his photo and saw he'd put "Mathew's Food And Drink" as the location, and so I looked up the restaurant and found to my great surprise and delight that it was not far from me at all in an area I know very well. I wrote back to him and we decided on a date, and on a beautiful feeling like spring afternoon I found myself meeting someone I can only refer to now as the Magician Of Desserts, and being introduced to Restaurateur Extraordinaire Mat Kopec and Chef Of My Dreams Jon Mecca and some of the wonderful afternoon staff as well. My afternoon at Matthew's was so delightful that I keep remembering it everywhere else I go. It's lovely inside and out, with special touches of interior design by the outstanding Kevin Greenberg and simply lovely graphic design by the wonderful Drew Heffron that create an atmosphere so inviting and lovely that the food would taste good because of the surroundings, and because the food is so excellently and carefully prepared and served it tastes divine. Corn fritters are one of my favorite things, and something I do make very well, but the ones that I had that day made me want to just go there every time I have the craving now which would mean I'd probably be there every day if I could. With just the right touches, everything I had that afternoon will live on in my memory, and I've already been telling everyone I know to go there. One thing I will add, and something I don't say all the time - save room for dessert because Gilbert Antero makes the best of the best and you won't want to miss one bite.

Mathew's Food And Drink
351 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ
Chefs Jon Mecca and Mike Kedala
Desserts By Gilbert Antero
Cocktail Menu: Cody Goldstein, Founder of Muddling Memories


Jannie Susan