Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Green Puzzle: When Is a Soil Recycling Facility Not Like an Indian Casino?

We recently looked in on the controversy in Mecca, California about malodors allegedly produced by a contaminated-soil recycling company located on land belonging to the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The dispute has been heating up:
State hazardous waste regulators cracked down on the business earlier this month, notifying Western Environmental that it should not accept California waste because it lacked the required permits. The state also told Western Environmental’s customers not to bring their waste to the plant.

But in a letter sent to its customers this week, Western Environmental claims the state’s toxic substances control department “does not have authority to regulate such waste” at the Mecca facility because it’s on tribal land.
Right on! Tribal marketing is already rolling out a casino + hazmat-recycling + convenience store concept.
The state contends it has jurisdiction since the plant is neither owned by the tribe nor a tribal entity.
Tricky lawyer mumbo-jumbo. But then . . .
It’s unclear why the state allowed the plant to operate for seven years without the permits.
Why? Because California believes in green jobs! Oh, wait. California believes in clean air! Uh . . . let me get back to you.
Plant officials stress that no environmental agencies investigating the odor have been able to pinpoint Western Environmental as the only source of the problematic odor.
We don’t stink but even if we do there’s nothing you can do about it.

Sock Clogger at UAF

Someone has been flushing socks down the toilets at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. More than 100 pairs since December. According to Andrew Sheeler, a reporter for the campus newspaper The Sun Star:
This has led to an occasional sewer smell that pervades the halls of the building. The sock flushing has caused an estimated $20,000 in damages, and has left Facilities Services (FS) employees baffled as to a reason why.

“We don’t think it’s vandalism,” said Marianne Freelong, FS Customer Service Manager.
We agree with Ms. Freelong. Why? Because the toilets in question are in the Fine Arts Complex.

It’s art. Duh.

P.S. Say, Jammie Nicholas hasn’t been hanging out at UAF recently, has he?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Ersatz Perfume Deals from Germany

As celebrity fragrance enters its Decadent Phase, Germans are in the avant garde:
Clarence House smelled a rat today when a German perfumer claimed to have created the fragrances to be worn by Prince William and Kate Middleton on their wedding day.

Hamburg-based Kim Weisswange claimed she spent seven weeks in her lab perfecting the scents to secret recipes using more than 90 ingredients.

Miss Weisswange, 47, who said she made three scents for the Queen’s 80th birthday in 2006, claimed the order came in a phone call from the Palace, and said the two new perfumes “underline the character and personalities” of the couple.
Miss Weisswange even went to the trouble of creating mock-up bottle designs. She was written up here (auf Deutsch), and you can also catch her on YouTube, thrusting her Nase into one rose after another and working in her Laboratorium. Question: Big-time perfumers compose by weight, not volume, so why all the graduated cylinders in her lab? And why on earth would she compound smelling samples in a huge Ehrlenmeyer flask? [Relax, it’s just a PR video for the rubes.—Ed.]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Karl Has His People Spank Gerhard’s People

Gerhard und Geza

From KL’s flack:
“Mr Lagerfeld refutes his implication in the launch of the perfume Paper Passion. This project, of which Mr Steidl told him about, only emanate from the art books’ publisher himself. Mr Lagerfeld copublishes many books with Mr Steidl but stick to Coty Prestige when it is about his own perfumes’ creations.”

Berlin-based perfumer Geza Schön, who had already revealed the theme notes for Paper Passion, is probably not feeling the love either.

Celebrity fragrances have officially entered their Decadent Phase, when members of the entourage feel free to grab the spotlight by pre-announcing fragrance deals.

Friday, April 22, 2011

ISDP: Special Earth Day Edition

“Earth Day co-founder killed, composted girlfriend

I collected a lot of material about the Ira Einhorn/Helen Maddux case for What the Nose Knows, but ended up not using it.

Via Instapundit.

Another Milestone in Olfactory Cinema

Charles Band is a past master of cheeseball horror films and to us that’s a good thing. We like nothing better than to sink into a Barcalounger in the FirstNerve screening room and watch House of 1000 Corpses, or Bride of Chucky. (We have a major thing for Jennifer Tilly.)

Also among Band’s credits are Evil Bong (2006) and Evil Bong II: King Bong (2009), stoner comedies “with a little horror mixed in.” Stoner movies, with the possible exception of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, don’t do much for us. So the release this week of Evil Bong 3-D: The Wrath of Bong didn’t sound like must-see cinema. But then we read the interview AV Club’s Mark Riechers did with Brand about his latest effort and found out that it features Sniff-O-Rama. Neato!

The movie achieves its 3-D effects with the old-fashioned red and blue glasses, and Sniff-O-Rama is eight odors on a scratch-and-sniff card. Sounds like about the right level of technology for the Bong series. Band likes to road show his films in stand-alone movie theaters instead of multiplexes, so he can be free to do a live show on stage and sell all kinds of tasteless film-related merchandise like the Monsterbra or Puppetmaster replicas. Either of which would look great in our screening room, come to think of it.

We particularly enjoyed this exchange from the AV Club interview:
AVC: How does “Sniff-O-Rama” make your job more complicated? Did you need to have a script supervisor to keep track of odors on set?

CB: [Laughs.] No, it’s really grafted into the script. The timing is always interesting—most people haven’t been to a movie with a scratch-and-sniff card. It’s pretty simple: Number will come up on the screen, and you scratch that number. It ties into an action happening in the film. But it takes a moment or two for people to get the card and recognize that, say, number three has come up. People are smelling something or are reacting to a good smell or a bad smell, and it’s a little tricky to time it so the gag still works. But other than that, it’s just about inventing moments that will amuse people.
We’ll definitely catch it if we can.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quick Sniffs: A curated collection of smelly links

Wendy Zukerman, Asia Pacific reporter for NewScientist, blogs about a perfumery course she took. Can you spot the two glaring errors in her post? (Hint: You don’t have to be a scientist to play!)

Karl Lagerfeld is coming out with a bookish new fragrance. As usual, Marie-Helene Wagner at MimiFrouFrou is all over the details:
The fragrance will be sold encased within a hard-cover book entitled Paper Passion. The creators see the packaging concept as a throwback to the times when British aristocrats liked to hide their whiskey in hollowed books.
Wait . . . hasn’t this been done before? Yes, and yes.

The smellscapes of Arkansas memorialized: an entirely different way to think about chicken shit.

Peeuuw, it’s springtime in West Fargo, North Dakota. (Flush hard, it’s a long way to Bismarck.)

Busted! Sgt. Terry Waikel of the Noble County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana has a fine nose for police work.

Tom Ford launches ads for his new fragrance Neroli Portofino, and guess what they are full of nakedy people. Although not Ford himself, for a change. [NSFW]

Karyn Khoury talks about her seasonal preferences in perfume. I’m surprised this doesn’t get more attention; I’ve always thought it was a big factor in choosing what to wear.

Over at Forbes.com, Dorothy Pomerantz relays the 2010 celebrity fragrance sales numbers from Euromonitor International. The late Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds tops the charts with $54 million in the U.S. Driven, by Derek Jeter, slides into second with $27 million. (For real?)

Wear a VR headset, bite into a cookie, and we control your nose!

It's sooooo transgressive, yadda yadda.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rochelle Bloom Strikes Again

As the New York Times sinks slowly out of sight behind its new, fee-based subscriber wall, this story caught my eye: “Fragrance spritzers hold their fire”. It’s a straight report on the industry’s move away from brand-sponsored salespeople and roaming spritzers, and toward advice-dispensing “fragrance advisors” who are on the store’s payroll. (This has been Sephora’s business model all along—any clerk is happy to sell you any brand.)

There are quotes aplenty from the usual suspects: Pam Vaile, Karen Grant, and Ann Gottleib. And then, like clockwork, appears this typically off-key quote from Rochelle Bloom:
“A lot of people avoid the [fragrance] department,” said Rochelle Bloom, the president of the Fragrance Foundation, which has a certification program to educate fragrance sales specialists. “It’s this kind of hustle.”
Ms. Bloom has a talent for sounding the negative note. She could have said “people were avoiding the fragrance department and reduced spritzing is a welcome change that will bring the customer back”. She could have said “customers offended by the old hustle will find the new emphasis on fragrance advice very appealing.” But no—she just smeared her own industry and waddled on.

Is the Fragrance Foundation’s board of directors even paying attention?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Restart the Countdown: Jackson Fragrance Launch Has a New Date

March 7, 2011, the initial launch date for the Joe Jackson-Julian Rouas Paris fragrances came and went. I noted the non-event here and figured the project had imploded. Today someone logging in from Las Vegas and signing herself “Cynthia Marven” left a comment on that previous post. Here it is in full:
FYI- The Exclusive Launch Party for the Jackson-JRP fragrances are still on. The reason it didn't occur in March, 2011 as was originally planned, was because Mr Jackson was tied up with other commitments overseas. We did finalize our meeting last night, i.e., Wednesday, April, 13, 2011 with Mr Jackson, business partners and associates. The official date for the launch is June 9, 2011, Lord willing. As of this moment, we are working on the official program and invitations/accreditations to our invited guests, sponsors, investors, distributors, press etc., etc.,. By God's grace, we can make it happen. Thanks for the blog! Cynthia Marven April 14, 2011 5:24 PM

So Julian Rouas, Joe Jackson and Ms. Marven have given themselves another two-month window in which to produce the product. Or have they?

Well, the FirstNerve comment jibes with what a Cynthia Marven has been posting on the Jackson Fragrance Facebook page. So we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and check back in June.

A bientôt!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ISDP: Don’t Mess with Texas Edition

The daffodils are out in force on the grounds of First Nerve Manor and the lilacs are about to burst forth. Good news for fragrance lovers. But for those with nostrils tuned to the macabre side of the smellscape, this month’s pickings from the gloomy field of decompositional olfactology are equally impressive. We begin with some contributions from the great state of Texas.

On March 28, the Houston Chronicle’s Dale Lezon reported that the decomposing remains of a man were found “in an apartment just east of downtown Houston late last night after neighbors noted a foul odor in the area.”

A few days later in Corpus Christi, television station KZTV reported that an autopsy was planned in the suspicious death of a person whose body was found in an apartment near Blucher Park. “According to police, neighbors called 911 after they detected a bad smell coming from the apartment.”

Then, just this week, the spotlight shifted back to Houston where we meet our latest Norman Bates Award nominees: 48-year-old twin brothers Edwin Larry Berndt and Edward Christian Berndt.
Twin Houston men were charged Tuesday with the murder of their 89-year-old mother after police say the pair allowed her to die on the floor in their foyer after she fell, then lived for three months with her decomposing, bug-infested corpse.
Associated Press writer Ramit Plushnick-Masit (no relation to Damit Mashie-Niblick) provides details:
Edwin Berndt said he and his brother were watching the BCS Championship football game when their mother “came in ranting and raving and she then fell down and did not get up.”

For the first day, Sybil Berndt was conscious and able to speak, but did not ask for any help, Edwin Berndt said. His brother said they didn’t give her any food or water while she lay on the floor.

Three days later, on Jan. 13, the elderly woman died, Edwin Berndt told police. He told them he remembered the date because it was a day after her 89th birthday.
Good grief.

Here’s an item for all you Hoarders fans:
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said an 80-year-old woman whose body was found in her Chicago town house buried under piles of debris died from natural causes.

The badly decomposed body of Cecylia Opilka was found Thursday by workers responding to complaints of a bad smell coming from the house.
And finally, a study in journalistic contrasts. Here’s the Quietly Canadian headline: “Man’s body found in Ottawa apartment”.
Cops discovered the body after neighbours complained to the landlord about a foul smell on the 11th floor of The Oaks apartment building.
And here’s the classically hyperbolic screaming header from that treasury of ISDP material, The New York Daily News:
Rotting, mutilated body of 400-lb. man found in bag in Bronx housing project
Amid the usual stuff about a bloody hatchet and cleaning products strewn about the room, there’s this key sentence that also serves as a nice caution about the hubris of naming public buildings after living people:
Patrol officers responding to a different incident at the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses in Soundview caught a whiff of a foul odor coming from another apartment, the sources said.
In other words, the discovery of the rotting, mutilated 400-pound victim was due to someone with a fine nose for police work. Ann Arbor columnist Rich Kinsey touches on some of the unpleasant aspects of what police call “well-being checks.”
It all starts with a call from someone who is concerned about a family member, friend or neighbor who they have not heard from in several days.

Some of the worst calls come from letter carriers who notice a foul odor and are worried about a person who has not collected their mail for several weeks.
Still want to go to police academy?
While checking around the home, officers will literally be “nosing around” using their sense of smell to detect the foul odor of decomposition.
So long until next month!

UPDATE April 16, 2011

We should have, uh, dug more deeply into the case of Mrs. Opilka, the recently deceased hoarder. It turns out she lived with her 43-year-old son Ronald, also a hoarder. He was on the scene when police arrived; asked for his ID, he pulled out his wallet as well as a bag of pot. He appears to be of questionable mental capacity, but that doesn't stop us from nominating him for this year's Norman Bates Award.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

To Rake for Ambergris in the Paunch of the Leviathan

Presently a breeze sprang up; Stubb feigned to cast off from the whale; hoisting his boats, the Frenchman soon increased his distance, while the Pequod slid in between him and Stubb’s whale. Whereupon Stubb quickly pulled to the floating body, and hailing the Pequod to give notice of his intentions, at once proceeded to reap the fruit of his unrighteous cunning. Seizing his sharp boat-spade, he commenced an excavation in the body, a little behind the side fin. You would almost have thought he was digging a cellar there in the sea; and when at length his spade struck against the gaunt ribs, it was like turning up old Roman tiles and pottery buried in fat English loam. His boat’s crew were all in high excitement, eagerly helping their chief, and looking anxious as gold-hunters.

And all the time numberless fowls were diving, and ducking, and screaming, and yelling, and fighting around them. Stubb was beginning to look disappointed, especially as the horrible nosegay increased, when suddenly from out the very heart of this plague, there stole a faint stream of perfume, which flowed through the tide of bad smells without being absorbed by it, as one river will flow into and then along with another, without at all blending with it for a time.

“I have it, I have it,” cried Stubb, with delight, striking something in the subterranean regions, “a purse! a purse!”

Dropping his spade, he thrust both hands in, and drew out handfuls of something that looked like ripe Windsor soap, or rich mottled old cheese; very unctuous and savory withal. You might easily dent it with your thumb; it is of a hue between yellow and ash color. And this, good friends, is ambergris, worth a gold guinea an ounce to any druggist. Some six handfulls were obtained; but more was unavoidably lost in the sea, and still more, perhaps, might have been secured were it not for impatient Ahab’s loud command to Stubb to desist, and come on board, else the ship would bid them good-bye.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Does This Count as a “Gourmand” Fragrance?

Time for a little comic relief, via Danica Lo at Racked. Presenting Bacōn by Farginnay.

But really, I think Taco Bell got there first.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New York Health Nannies Launch a Stealth War on Perfume

New York City Health Nanny Thomas Farley, MD, MPH

We’ve pointed on many occasions to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ever-increasing intrusions on personal liberty: from banning trans fats in restaurants to banning outdoor smoking in parks and on beaches. We believe a nanny coalition of greens and progressives that meddles with your fried food and grabs the cigarette from your hand will have little compunction in taking away your right to wear perfume.This strikes some of our readers as needlessly alarmist: after all, trans fats and smoking are “unhealthy” while perfume is merely an aesthetic pleasure.

Well, less than two months before the fragrance industry’s 2011 FiFi Awards at Lincoln Center, the New York City Health Department has launched its first salvo against perfume use.

MANHATTAN -- Health Department officials are practicing what they preach with a new set of strict workplace rules. The rules, called “Life in the Cubicle Village,” prevent employees from using strong fragrances, bringing smelly food back to the office and posting office decorations that might be offensive to other colleagues, the New York Daily News reported.
This stealthy move by New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley is an unambiguous first step toward a city-wide workplace fragrance ban.

New York is arguably the world’s capital for scented commerce. All the major fragrance houses and many of the best known perfume brands have offices in the city. It is also home to the industry’s biggest trade association, The Fragrance Foundation.

Will they stand up to the nannies and defend our right to create and wear perfume?

Rochelle Bloom, this is your moment.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Olfactory Art in Southern California: Brian Goeltzenleuchter

This sounds interesting. On April 16, Aldis Browne Fine Arts, Inc. in La Jolla, California will introduce Avant Nez, a project by conceptual artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter. His previous forays into olfactory art involved creating scents for institutional spaces. In the new project his focus is on individuals:
In this, his inaugural dialogue with individual patrons, Goeltzenleuchter has developed an artistic process entailing three pre-arranged sittings to define the context for an evocative and intense journey into the creation of a client's personal fragrance, bottled within a sculpture designed by the artist.
If you are in the vicinity, try to wangle an invite and let me know what you think of his work. (How many Californians does it take to attend a gallery opening? Twenty: one to go and nineteen to share the experience.)

And while you are in La Jolla, stroll a couple of blocks over to Pannikin Coffee & Tea. Had brunch there last fall and it was most enjoyable. I’m not the only one who thinks so.