« August 15, 2005 | Main | August 17, 2005 »

August 16, 2005

The Rookery


Sunday's New York Times Travel section had an interesting piece about one of London's small hotels, the Rookery.

The sitting room is pictured above.

The hotel hit the news big time this past February when Pete Doherty, whose greatest claim to fame is that he was until recently Kate Moss's boyfriend, was arrested and jailed for six days after reportedly beating up a documentary filmmaker who was staying at the Rookery and whom he suspected of selling pictures of him smoking heroin to a London paper.

Each of the hotel's 33 rooms is named after an inhabitant who lived there when the first census of the area was taken in 1832.

Here's Stuart Emmrich's story.

    The Rookery in London

    THE BASICS: Some hotels gain a certain cachet from the famous guests who have stayed there.

    For years, Winston Churchill held court at La Mamounia in Marrakesh.

    Coco Chanel kept an apartment at the Ritz in Paris, and Pamela Harriman took regular swims in its basement pool.

    Richard Burton and Liz Taylor cocooned themselves at the Dorchester in London after falling in love on the set of "Cleopatra."

    And the Rookery is - well, the Rookery is where Pete Doherty was arrested.

    In February, Mr. Doherty, late of the Libertines and now the lead singer of the Babyshambles (but probably best known for being Kate Moss's boyfriend), was jailed for six days after reportedly beating up a documentary filmmaker who was staying at the Rookery, and who he suspected of selling pictures of him smoking heroin to a London paper. (The charges were later dropped.)

    It was a fitting bit of publicity for a hotel whose name is a synonym for criminal area, a nod to the neighborhood's history as a place where unsavory characters used to congregate - including, it is said, the model for Charles Dickens's Fagin.

    THE LOCATION: Even if the Rookery hadn't made the tabloids, there's no doubt it would have eventually been discovered by the hipster crowd.

    That's because it had the good sense to open in Clerkenwell, one of London's hottest neighborhoods - and one surprisingly underserved by decent hotels.

    Such notable restaurants as St. John and Moro are a few minutes' walk from the hotel and the Farringdon Underground station, on the Circle Line, is a block away.

    THE ROOMS: Each of the 33 rooms is named after an inhabitant who lived there when the first census of the area was taken in 1832.

    This colorful group ranged from William Pettit Griffith, an architect, to Sally Salisbury, a prostitute.

    The bedrooms are comfortable but eccentrically shaped and dimly lighted, with ornately carved wooden beds taking up most of the space and wooden shutters doing their best to keep out the light (and the noise from nearby Smithfield Market).

    The closets are tiny, so good luck if you've come with three or four shirts that need hanging.

    And housekeeping could use a firmer hand: during a recent three-day stay, the minibar wasn't replenished at all.

    Moreover, the hotel has no elevator. (If you get a room on the top floor, pity the bellhop who has to maneuver your suitcase up the four flights of narrow stairs.)

    THE BATHROOMS: In keeping with the economic use of space in this 1764 building, the shower stalls are a bit of a tight squeeze (though they come with rainfall showerheads with excellent water pressure), and there's not much room for guests' toiletries.

    Also, in most bathrooms, the toilet is on a raised wooden platform that the hotel's Web site cheerfully promotes, saying that "this Victorian water closet feels more like a throne." Whatever.

    AMENITIES: Forget a workout on this visit: there is no gym in the hotel and nowhere nearby to go for a decent run.

    Instead, give in to more sybaritic impulses and pour yourself a drink from the self-service bar in the ground-floor conservatory.

    Or park yourself in the small, enclosed garden out back, perfect for a morning coffee on a sunny day.

    ROOM SERVICE: You can get a few sandwiches and some simply prepared comfort foods like pasta carbonara and chicken tikka until 10:30 p.m.

    But the hotel will arrange to have more substantial meals delivered from local restaurants.

    An in-room breakfast - organic Greek yogurt, freshly prepared muesli and coffee or tea - is $18 (plus 17.5 percent V.A.T.).

    THE BOTTOM LINE: The hotel has a kind of rakish charm that almost compensates for things like not getting messages when friends have called to arrange a dinner.

    A double room starts at $315 plus tax, reasonable for London these days. A call to the front desk may yield a lower rate.

    The Rookery, Peter's Lane, Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6DS. (44-20) 7336-0931; www.rookeryhotel.com.

I suppose there is a certain kind of twisted symmetry in Kate Moss's dumping Doherty because of his drug madness; you may recall that Calvin Klein, who made her the face of his "Obsession" perfume campaign when she was 18, threw her overboard in a hurry when her drinking became so dominant a part of life that she was forced to go into rehab.

August 16, 2005 at 06:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Non–Marking Belt


From the website:

    No Exposed Hardware Is Ideal For Craftsmen

    Ever have your belt buckle put an ugly mark in a tender mahogany door skin, cabinet panel or car paint?


    To solve this problem, we commissioned this rugged, 2–ply, 1-3/8" cowhide Non–Marking Belt.

    Instead of a buckle, an easy-to–use hook holds the belt firmly in place.

    Craftsmen wear this belt to protect their work.

    Belt protects itself — the oil–impregnated bridle leather provides lasting suppleness and tends to make the occasional surface scratch disappear.

For a moment I was all set to headline this post "A belt you can keep on at airport security."

Then I saw the mention of the hook, which I have to believe is made of metal and therefore may set off a metal detector.

If this company thought outside the craftsmen box for a moment and made the hook out of plastic — and who really cares? No one sees it — they could offer it in the New Yorker, in one of those little ads in the back, as an "Airport security–compatible belt" and sell a boatload of them.

There were far more travelers than craftsmen last time I looked. But I digress.

Taking a page from Henry Ford, you can have the belt in any color you like as long as it's brown.

$34.99 here.

August 16, 2005 at 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If the South had won the Civil War


When I was a boy I enjoyed alternate history stories quite a bit.

As time has passed I've become less fascinated by the "what if?" and more so by the "what is."

Nevertheless the alternate history bandwagon trundles on.


I came upon uchronia.net yesterday while wandering aimlessly, and spent a few moments... lost in time.

The website's focus "is an annotated bibliography of over 2,600 novels, stories, essays and other printed material involving the 'what ifs' of history."

Robert B. Schmunk began the project in 1991.

You can search by author or language or any of a number of other parameters.


The last alternate history I enjoyed a lot was Robert Harris's "Fatherland," though I do recall being mesmerized some years ago by Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle."

August 16, 2005 at 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Firefly Triple LED Watch — 'Beam me up'


At first I wondered where the premiere was: for a second there I thought I was back at UCLA on a Friday night in Westwood.

Push a button and you get a soft blue light for reading the time in low light.

Push it again and "the lights will 'power up' and lock on for use as a hands–free flashlight."

The watch has a rechargeable battery: "With Triad's innovative Rechargeable Electromagnetic Quartz technology, a simple overnight charge a couple times a year will keep your Firefly operating at peak performance levels."

The watch comes with a Fireplug charging station (below)


which charges your watch "right through the case back via an electromagnetic field."

"Simply rest the watch on the Fireplug charging base overnight and you are good for up to 6 months of normal use."


The Firefly costs $195 and up here.

Phasers to "Stun."

August 16, 2005 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Whether you're planning a multi–continent World Tour 2005 to meet your global legion of fans or setting out on your own personal pilgrimage to meet your favorite blogger, you will find this a useful website.

Among the many features:

• It's available in English, French, German or Spanish

• The site's editors and writers contact or visit each of the 204 listed airports at least quarterly to update the website's information

• News, driving directions, location relative to the nearest city, contact information, and the web address for each airport (that feature alone would make it a must for a frequent traveler)

Another site, Airwise.com, covers about 50 major airports but in more depth.

What is it with both of these websites and the emoticons at the top of their pages?

Do they think air travel isn't already annoying enough?


[via Bob Tedeschi and the New York Times]

August 16, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pilfer–Resistant Valve Stem Caps


I don't know about you but valve stems caps have never really been at the top of my list in terms of concerns.

But I guess others have a different point of view.

So much so that someone has invented a tricked–out valve stem cap that prevents people from stealing them.

    From the website:

    Made from impact–resistant, chrome–plated plastic with a threaded plastic liner, they won't seize on your valve stem like aluminum caps.

    An internal O-ring seals out dust, salt and road grime.

    You get two locking wrenches (keep one in the car and one in the garage) specifically designed for your four caps, so only you can remove them.

    If someone else tries to remove the cap it just spins and spins and spins.

Aluminum caps?

Mine are black plastic — aren't everyone's?

You get them for a few cents at hardware and auto supply stores.

Internal O-rings?

I don't know about you but me, I associate O-rings with a very unhappy event.

But the reason this item made it into bookofjoe is not because of all the wonderful features it offers but, rather, because it goes a feature too far.

You and I both know that someday, somewhere, you're going to want to put some air in your tire.

And when you open your glove box the bespoke pilfer–resistant locking wrench won't be there.

Then what?

Not a happy scene, that's for sure.

No, I'd steer clear of anything that can back you into a corner you can't get out of without a special tool.

Because — trust me — you will always lose your tool.

It's a rule of life.

It's the way of the world.

But if, for some reason, I haven't convinced you that these valve stem caps are not a good idea, well, hey, you're old enough to make your own decisions.

About sixteen,


last time I looked. But I digress.

A set of 4 caps along with 2 locking wrenches costs $36.99 here.

The caps come with your car's make on the end


for that slick, custom look.

August 16, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'As the blogs gain scale, they lose the demographic purity that made them special to begin with' — Nick Denton


I like Nick Denton.

Let me tell you why I like Nick Denton:

1) He's adventurous and willing to try stuff no one else has tried, no matter how weird.

2) He's got a way with words, especially blog names: he once told me that Ana Marie Cox was initially not too thrilled with Wonkette but he insisted and you can see whose idea — and name, and blog (though credit the magnificent, acerbically hilarious Ms. Cox for it, to be very sure) — turned out very well.

3) He's always responded to my emails — even ones where I criticize something in his domain; that's not a common trait in people I email.

The quote above comes from this past Saturday's New York Times Business section "What's Online" column by Dan Mitchell.

Mitchell was writing about Nick's recent study on the demographics of blog readers.

Long story short: the study showed that "Blog readers are both younger and wealthier than internet users in general."

Nick wrote on his website, nickdenton.org, that "Youth, with wealth, is, to advertisers, a rare and desirable combination."

I wonder if the scaling problem is a threat to my purity.

Because — like Ivory soap — that's my best feature.

I must be careful to keep an eye on those who would seek to sully my virtual presence.

Full disclosure: I have never met Nick Denton; I have never spoken with him; I have never been the recipient of goods, services, money or any consideration of any sort from him.

August 16, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Clothes Shaver


No, not "close shaver": rather, clothes.

What the heck is this about?

"Quickly remove unsightly pilling and fuzz balls from sweaters, shirt collars, quilts, wool, flannel or any knit fabrics."

Remember how you couldn't wear your little black dress that time because of all the stuff all over it that you didn't have time to pick off?

Never again.

Not one, not two, but your choice of three fabric shavers follow.

For big jobs you'll want the commercial size with its 2.5"–diameter head (above), "designed for heavy duty home and commercial use."

It's got a heavy duty motor, operates on AC current or with 4 AA batteries (not included) and comes with an AC adapter.

It's $18.95.

Then there's the medium–sized version (below),


perfect for around the house.

It's got a 2"–diameter shaving head and a heavy duty motor and requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

It's $8.95.

Finally there's baby bear (below).


It's a travel–size device with a 1.5"–diameter head designed for "easy storage in pocket, purse, briefcase, glove compartment or desk."

It uses 2 AA batteries and costs $7.25.

Choose the one that suits you best here.

Not recommended for underarms, legs or anywhere else your body requires a touch–up.

And for goodness sake, if you should happen by some strange chance to find your shaver turned on with no clothes to defuzz then be quite sure the plastic protective cap is seated firmly over the business end.

As if.

My legal department advises me that this disclaimer should protect me from those out there who might not have my best interests at heart.

For your interest, my legal department consists of the two cardinals who like to play in and around the large maple tree in my back yard.

August 16, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« August 15, 2005 | Main | August 17, 2005 »