Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hunkered Down


The lawn furniture is stowed in the garage and the pantry is full of canned beans. There are still a few windows left to tape but otherwise FirstNerve Manor is about as prepared as it’s gonna get.

Let 'er blow!

UPDATE October 31, 2012
Roof on, basement dry. Power on (most of town not so lucky). Internet down (borrowing neighbor's cellular WiFi).

UPDATE November 5, 2012
Power on, power off. Internet spotty. Five hour wait for gas. Know the chief of police? Then zip right to the front of the line. (It's a Jersey thing.) Six days after the hurricane the cavalry arrives in the form of two dozen Entergy utility trucks from Arkansas. Good old boys with accents thick enough to cut with a knife. Within minutes they're up in buckets fixing lines. No power? No problem. Arkansas is on the job.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

When Scent Trumps Color

From Matthew Appleby in The Guardian:
Sweet peas are prized both for their exquisite scent and their colour. Dave Matthewman of Matthewman’s Sweetpeas says it’s scent rather than colour that customers ask about first when he launches a new variety: “If you say the scent is mediocre, they lose interest. Blues and lavenders are highly scented, but cream-pinks and orange-pinks often don’t have much.”
If only the fresh-cut flower industry would notice that people prefer scented flowers. (In WTNK I describe how breeders in that business select for showy blossoms at the expense of scent.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our Green Future: Compost-Fueled Cars

Heh. Someone finally pantsed the TED people.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Big BO in Bollywood B.O.?

This sounds interesting.
Aiyyaa, set in south India, revolves around Meenaxi, a middle-class Indian girl torn between fantasy and reality. When Meenaxi finds her Prince Charming, a rumored drug addict, she isn’t attracted to him for his looks or intellect but for his lingering scent. 
The romantic comedy, which marks the Bollywood debut of Marathi filmmaker Sachin Khudalkar, was widely touted to be Rani Mukherjee’s comeback movie.

ISDP October 2012: The Golden Years

With the end of summer comes the usual drop in the number of number of people unfortunate enough to inhale that particular malodor associated with the discovery of a dead body nearby. Two incidents didn’t meet our famously strict criteria: one involved a search already underway for a missing person, and the other the simultaneous discovery of a visual clue. That leaves three and the third is a doozy.

We begin in Fairburn, Georgia:
A body found behind a motel in south Fulton County has prompted a homicide investigation. 
A spokesperson for the Fairburn Police Department tells FOX 5 News that the body was discovered around 11 a.m. Sunday in the 600 block of Senoia Road. 
Police say someone came across the body after noticing a strong, foul odor.
An arrest has been made in the case. The second case took place a day earlier in California:
A decomposing body wrapped in cloth was found Sunday in a parked car in East Oakland, police said. 
The body was reported on the 2400 block of Ritchie Street in a blue Chevrolet Malibu at 5:07 p.m., police said. Witnesses reported that the car had been parked on the street near Arroyo Viejo Park for at least two weeks and that a strong odor was coming from the vehicle, authorities said.
SFGate peanut gallery member “organ_donor” cracks wise in the comments: “Is this going to show up on the Carfax?” but ISDP fans know that non-disclosure in a similar case lead to a lawsuit in Michigan.

Our third report is perhaps the first ever with a happy ending.
Walter Samasko Jr., Nevada Recluse, Found Dead With $7 Million In Gold Bars, Coins In Garage
Officials responding to reports of a foul odor at the home of a Nevada recluse may have been surprised [We doubt it.--Ed.] to find the man’s lifeless body -- he’d been dead for about a month -- but it was the contents of Walter Samasko Jr.’s garage that were truly unexpected.
The Carson City resident who had been living alone at the time of his death had gold bars and coins stored in boxes around the property, according to the Las Vegas Sun. 
According to the Associated Press, Samasko, 69, died of heart problems, leaving no will. The businessman, who died with $200 dollars in his bank account, but millions in the garage, hadn’t worked in more than 40 years.
According to later reports, there were no gold bars, only masses of coins wrapped in aluminum foil. Many of them were collectible which means that the initial $7 million estimate—based only on the trove’s total weight—is probably low.

It seems to us that the way Mr. Samasko went out was completely consistent with the way he lived his life. He wanted to be left alone and he was. Bravo.

And is it just us, or does his driver’s license photo bear just the slightest resemblance to the most famous gold bug of all time?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Does Lady Gaga Puke 3.0 Times More Often Than Justin Bieber?

Gaga v. Bieber might become a recurring feature.

Is this what Coty Beauty SVP Global Marketing Steve Mormoris meant by “random propulsion”?

Speaking of feeling a bit queasy, focaccia “with the texture of kitchen sponges” was among the kinder comments in the New York Daily News review of Joanne Trattoria, the restaurant opened by Momma and Poppa Gaga. Dinner won’t sit any better after you read The Smoking Gun on the restaurant’s potentially fatal “C” rating from the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, I wonder how Team Coty is feeling about those $100 million sales projections after Gaga blows off hundreds of fans at the London debut of Fame at Harrods?
Lady Gaga booed at perfume launch
Angry fans booed Lady Gaga last night after she arrived over an hour late for a public appearance and then dashed indoors before many had even caught a glimpse of her.
Some people strive to become celebutards, others are just born that way.

And now we know why the Gagster invited aging has-been and publicity addict Yoko Ono to Fame’s New York launch party last month. G gives O some lens time and O returns the favor with an OdorOno LennonOno Peace Prize.

Am I being to cynical? Consider this: “The size of the award has never been disclosed.”

If it was big money it would be part of the PR campaign. This argues for it being a simple quid pro quo. One good photo opp deserves another.

Almost three years ago I had a feeling we’d see a Dead Celebrity Fragrance from Yoko Ono. Early FirstNerve commenter Nathan Branch liked the idea of Yoko by Yoko. But I’m thinking Lennon by Ono can’t be too far in the future.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Fart-Related Homicide

Headline: “Teasing over flatulence leads to deadly fight.”

WOIO Channel 19 Action News in Cleveland, Ohio has the story:
Police say a 16-year-old girl is dead and another 16-year-old girl is in police custody. Officials say the girls were fighting around 8 p.m. Wednesday at 4769 Walford Road in Warrensville Heights. 
According to witnesses the victim was teasing the suspect because she passed gas. One thing led to another and fisticuffs began flying. Witnesses also tell 19 Action News that several adults stood around and watched the whole thing go down, including the victim’s stepfather. But by the time he intervened, it was too late.
Good grief.

And yet not unprecedented.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rude Fungi

A bunch of these have been popping up in what’s left of the garden at FirstNerve Manor. (The entire North Forty is slowing reverting to a state of nature . . .)

The specimen in the photo appears to be a stinkhorn fungus, possibly Mutinus elegans. [It appears to be a dog dick.—Ed.] [Ahem!] More precisely, it’s the mature fruiting body of the fungus. The gelatinous black portion at the tip contains spores and supposedly gives off a fetid odor. It didn’t smell like much to me yet for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to grab one and stick it up close to my nose. There were lots of houseflies on it, however, and they seemed to like it just fine.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Workshop on the Art & Science of Synesthesia

My interest in olfactory synesthesia began when I banged my head against a wall—metaphorically. As a newly hired sensory scientist at Roure one of my tasks was to find better ways to understand how consumers respond to scent. I wasn’t getting anywhere with verbal description: people are generally crummy at describing smells, and as for the professionals—well, there were impressive arguments between the French and American perfumers over the company’s “official” vocabulary (“It’s green!” “Non, c’est agrestic!”).

I turned instead to nonverbal ways of describing odor, by reference to color, musical pitch, and so on. There was lots of research on synesthesia—the crossing over between the senses—but almost none of it involved the sense of smell. The field was wide open and I plunged in.

Today, thanks in part to research I published with Sarah Kemp, Robyn Martin, and Kira Belkin, olfactory synesthesia is a lively scientific topic. It has also become a key element of product design and scent marketing. These scientific applications throw a new light on the centuries old artistic use of synesthesia in music, painting, poetry and literature.

If this intrigues you, consider joining one of my upcoming interactive workshops on The Art & Science of Synesthesia. We will sniff blotters and learn how to represent smells in color and shape. The workshops are being hosted by Chad Murawczyk and Mindy Yang at MiN New York, their fragrance clubhouse/atelier in SoHo. The events run from 7:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. There are three dates: October 10, October 17, and November 20. Tickets are available online.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I’m Totally Ready to Sniff Martynka Wawrzyniak’s B.O.

Via Huffington Post.

Even if it means going all the way to the Lower East Side.

From Priscilla Frank in the Huffington Post:
Wawrzyniak spent a year working with Hunter College chemistry students to explore her personal brand of perfume. Acting as both the artist and subject, Wawrzyniak used experimental technologies to extract the essence of her signature scent from sweat, hair and tears. 
The artist then collaborated with a professional perfumer and scent director to create a synthetic replication of her organic odor, which will in turn be released inside a specially designed scent chamber. The lucky viewers (or, smellers in this case,) will experience the scent chamber individually, getting a solitary experience with l’eau d’Martynka.
Solitary experience chambers? Hopefully not like the old ones in Times Square that used to take quarters.

From Wawrzyniak’s page at envoy enterprises (the gallery):
[T]he artist underwent multiple experiments to collect aromatic elements from her body.
The fart balloon—a great idea that didn’t work out as planned.
She was subject to rigorous sessions to extract the concentrated essence of her sweat, tears and hair . . .
Fifty Shades of Gray rigorous? Or James Bond at Shrublands rigorous?
“The piece represents the true essence of a woman – free of visual prejudice.”
No problem—I only read Playboy for the articles. BTW what’s the olfactory equivalent of ogle–sniffle? Snoffle? Snogle?

Martynka Wawrzyniak’s exhibit “Smell Me” runs from October 20 through November 18 at envoy enterprises, 87 Rivington Street, in New York (between Orchard and Ludlow). See you there.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Scent Dinner with Andre

For each dinner, he works with a noted chef to develop a menu that can be dissected down to the bare essences of a known gourmand perfume, like Hermès’s Un Jardin sur le Nil, which unbeknownst to many has a culinary alter ego that tastes like marinated shrimp with a mango gelatin, puréed carrots, and tuna with peach carpaccio. 
[Barbie Latza Nadeau writing in Newsweek, October 1, 2012]
I first met Andre on the Hoboken platform of the PATH train. Our unlikely acquaintance began with a simple question: “Man, what stinks in here?” Fifteen minutes later, as we left the train in New Jersey, I was in thrall to a remarkable individual, a sensory guide to a world I hadn’t known existed. Andre Blur opened my mind to the intimate connection of scent and food.

The revelations began on the PATH platform. Andre described how its fermented urine smell was produced by bacteria that also create the superb retronasal nuances of Epoisses, the fromage magnifique de France. As this stunning juxtaposition of science and cuisine began to sink in, Andre told me the same aroma had inspired Sueur de mes Couilles, the audacious new perfume by Jean-Claude Ellena.

In Andre’s company, every aromatic moment in the Garden State became a learning experience. As we stood side by side in the station’s restroom, he drew my attention to a cloying note wafting up from the swirling yellow maelstrom of the urinal.

“What does it remind you of?”, he asked.

“It’s sweet, a bit fruity maybe,” I said.

“Think harder—be specific,” he urged, while zipping up his fly.

“Well, it reminds me of a cherry-flavored Jolly Rancher,” I replied.

“Exactly!” He was almost shouting with excitement. “It’s benzaldehyde, a gourmand note. It’s the same molecule in the flambéed black cherry compote that Jean-Georges Vongerichten dabs on top of his ginger-infused limpet puree appetizer.”

I was speechless. Partly because of this amazing link between a Swisher urinal screen and a $43 appetizer, but also because Andre in his excitement had dribbled urine down his entire pants leg.

“Are you hungry?” he asked. “Maybe you’d like to buy me dinner.”

I jumped at the opportunity. I’d had a taste of sensory enlightenment and I wanted more.

*    *    *

Andre Blur will host his next Scent Dinner at Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey. Among the food and fragrance pairings will be Rippers with isobornyl cyclohexanol and Guerlain’s Samsara; and Hamburger (with gravy), tonka bean, and Datura Noir by Serge Lutens. Be sure to reserve your place early as parking’s a bitch after the Jets game.