Melissa Hope Matlins

Trash Tales, Part One
October 1, 2007, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I live in a building in New York City, not designed, nor zoned, for residential habitation. Because this ancient loft building is, by no legal means, a residence, I often experience difficulty doing things that most urban dwellers take for granted, like recycling. It is a dirty little secret that commercial trash haulers in New York City are not obligated to recycle the way residences do, they often only recycle paper, and who knows if they even do that. I have yet to see the ‘recycling agreement’ of the commercial trash hauler who services the building that I work in. All commercial trash haulers must keep these agreements on file, according to the informative NYC recycling website.

I thought that I had the perfect solution. I happened to be borrowing a car, and happened to have a giant bag of bottes and cans that I would feel guilty about tossing in the street. Bottles and cans in the trunk, a short drive to my parents place across town that boasts proper residential recycling, problem solved.

No good deed goes unpunished. A second bag of cans, purloined from the building lobby in an effort to salvage all recyclables (not just my own!) is quickly jettisoned to the curbed after it begins to leach stale beer. Not in my trunk! I hope my neighbors learn to empty beer cans someday. A mile in the car and a half hour of traffic snarls later, my overloaded bag of bottles and cans is removed from the trunk, and promptly breaks open, spilling glass and cans all over the garage floor. I don’t really feel like a triumphant savior of the earth at this moment. I instead vow to put my creativity to good use and find a way to re-use all of the empties instead, or, perhaps, my friends and I could consume less beer and wine from bottles and cans. Can I get a cask of wine perhaps?


Vieques: Promised Land of Lounge Chairs
January 3, 2007, 2:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Vieques is a hilly 51 square mile island off the coast of Puerto Rico, a former U.S. Navy bombing range, and where I rang in 2007 with friends this year. Our luxury villa was replete with two lounge chairs for every person. Though at times the homestead lacked a passable driveway, electricity, hot water, or any water at all, we learned a lot about the concept of “island time” and carribean construction methods.

I observed only one manufactured house on the island of the trailer variety, decked out in fake brick and siding. The style was out of context among the colonial-inspired concrete and stucco structures decorated in tropical fruit tones and the colors of the sea. The housing on the island is an amalgam of styles, largely low rise and extensively screened by security gates which conveniently perform the dual function of sunscreens.


Fortune Cookie Index
December 28, 2006, 3:40 am
Filed under: food, Uncategorized

I recently came to the conclusion that fortune cookie fortunes are largely aspirational, or paranoid. I decided to track my fortunes and create a ratio rating system based on these principles. Feel free to add your own:

“A new business venture is on the horizon” – 90% aspirational, 10% paranoid

“You never know who you touch” – 100% paranoid

“You will be successful someday” – 82% aspirational, 28% paranoid

Recently I have been getting some nicely optimistic ones:

“There’s no problem that cannot be solved over a green tea ice cream.”

“Cooks know the secrect to delicious, nutritious meals. It takes time.”

Sushi Breakfast
September 28, 2006, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Fish Market – 5am, Tuna twice my size. Outstanding sushi for breakfast in the equivalent of a diner outside the market, in the company of Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese tourists. Americans not awake yet.
Tokyo Museum – the gallery of national treasures is breathtaking, and the building, by Tanaguchi, is beautiful . dscf0199.jpg
Ginza – just like 5th Avenue.

Muji – what does this exceptional japanese department store not make, a house? (they have made one too, on display here). The name means “no brand goods.”

Spent the evening at SuperDeluxe, at Pechakucha, a great monthly get together for the architecture and design community here. Very inspirational.

Not to crazy about Roppongi – like a very large sort of St. Marks Place frequented by silly Americans.

Shireen thank you for the Anna Nicole update – funny enough I actually watched the Larry King Live show with the lawyer on it here (in the morning!) The whole thing was dubbed in Japanese, but I got the idea. Scandalous!

The Future of Perfect
September 27, 2006, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I spent a majority of the day in Harajuku and Aoyama thinking about trends. Grunge is coming back in a big way, everyone be careful with this one. However, at the end of the day I was still contemplating the granite tiles on the surfaces of my bathroom in the otherwise generic Cerulean Tower hotel that I am currently calling home. When you lay tile in any bathroom in America, you begin at one end, and when you get to the other end you cut the last tile short to fit the dimensions of the floor. Then you mount the fixtures where they need to go. Not so in Japan. The floor accomodates the size of the tile correctly, the fixtures align with the tile edges – perfection.
On my trip here I am on the lookout for examples of wabi-sabi, the art of imperfection. There appears to be a distinct difference between American imperfection and Japanese imperfection. American imperfection is a happy accident, while Japanese imperfection is yet a higher level of perfection. A big fuck you in the face of regularity.

View from above
September 27, 2006, 3:14 am
Filed under: Japan, Uncategorized

Woke up to all of Tokyo outside of the hotel window. A misty fog has settled over the metropolis and this can only mean more rain. Much like New York City however, Tokyo is beautiful in the rain in a noir fashion. I am beginning to feel like the tragic character in a mystery novel. At least I had the best tempura of my life last night at a lovely place called Tenmatsu, where I was commended for both my chopstick skills (this was obviously just Japanese hospitality) and my culinary adventurousness (this part was accurate.)