Halloween at La Casa Azul!


The significance of a self-portrait in 2015 has radically diminished in our inundated digital world where everyone has access to mobile photography and a selfie stick. We’re all living in a culture that encourages an impulsive need to document oneself in the most mundane ways possible, adding more data into the proverbial landfill in the sky. Despite all of that noise, if there is one thing I can think of that really defines the mythology of Mamma Biscuit, it’s definitely the portrait. I would say self-portrait but Mamma Biscuit is neither a photographer or a painter (no matter how creatively I imagine her) but she sure is a canine muse and the moment she steps foot in front of the camera, her eyes and her whole being becomes incredibly expressive. She lights up like a giant star and what she leaves behind are vignettes (archives really) of pure beauty for us to share with the world that will live on and on for generations to come.


Frida Kahlo de Rivera is also one of those rare beauties who has inspired the world with her self portraits that are emblematic of national and indigenous tradition and also by feminists for their uncompromising depiction of the female experience. You see, it’s such an easy fit for Mamma Biscuit to channel Frida this year for Halloween because she too has gifted the world with thousands of portraits of herself that are all really uncompromising depictions of the canine experience! By default, both Frida and Mamma depict reality rather than a dream although on the surface, one would think either one is surreal. Now if that’s not a mouthful of pretentious bullshit, I don’t what is. The point is, Mamma Biscuit, like Frida Kahlo, embodies a unique presence that combines art, fashion, style, creativity and one hell of a unibrow!


Frida Kahlo’s life began and ended in Mexico City, in her home known as the Blue House. In 1922, Kahlo was enrolled in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, one of Mexico’s premier schools, where she was one of only thirty-five girls looking to study medicine. On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident that left her in a great deal of pain as well as compromising her reproductive capacity. Kahlo was only 18 years old at the time. Mamma Biscuit can relate. She is a testament to coming out of miserable circumstances such as the puppy mill system only to become something so great and significant, and that’s exactly what Kahlo did, she changed her path. After her accident, Kahlo abandoned the study of medicine and began to paint, to occupy herself during her three-month immobilization. Self-portraits were a dominant motif then. Kahlo once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Her mother had a special easel made so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes. That alone makes me feel like an inadequate parent for not installing Mamma’s doughnut bed right next to her food bowl. Artists need convenience and comfort, and food, lots of food!


Frida Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. Think body parts and detailed organs as external elements in any given composition. She insisted, “I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” Kahlo was also influenced by indigenous Mexican culture, which is apparent in her use of bright colors, dramatic symbolism and primitive style. She frequently included the monkey, which in Mexican mythology is a symbol of lust, and Kahlo portrayed it as tender and protective symbols. Since Mamma Biscuit actually looks more like a monkey rather than a dog, I too see her as tender and protective. Diego Rivera had a great influence on Kahlo’s painting style. Kahlo had always admired Rivera and his work. She first approached him in the Ministry of Public Education, where he had been working on a mural in 1927.


Their marriage was troubled from the start. Firstly, Frida was bisexual and had affairs with both men and women, including Isamu Noguchi and Josephine Baker. Rivera knew of this and tolerated her relationships with women, but her relationships with men made him jealous—quel surprise. For her part, Kahlo was furious when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina. I mean really, if you’re gonna have an affair, create an Ashley Madison account and do it the right way, don’t hunt down your wife’s sister! The couple divorced in November 1939, but remarried in December 1940. Their second marriage was as troubled as the first. Their living quarters were often separate, although sometimes adjacent.


Speaking of their living quarters, in late August, Tommy and I went to see the Frida Kahlo Art, Garden, Life exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens and it was just simply magical. Firstly, I would like to say that I tried my very hardest to set up a photoshoot of Mamma Biscuit at the garden exhibit wearing her costume. I contacted everyone there and although they were absolutely entertained by the idea of our pug dressed up as Frida Kahlo, they just couldn’t allow any dogs on the premise. Despite that missed opportunity (or the expensive admission price, 25 bucks per ticket), we still went to check out the exhibit which ends on November 1st. The exhibition is the first to examine Frida Kahlo’s keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork.


It features a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper as well as the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City. Check out some of these fantastic photos we took walking through this re-imagined Casa Azul. As I walked throughout the space, all I could do was imagine Mamma Biscuit, dragging the train of her exquisite Mexican dress and running, face-first into one of the hundred cacti lining the famed pyramid structure, which is the centerpiece of the whole display.


Now let’s talk about this amazing gown Mamma Biscuit has on. Created with yards and yards of a special Frida Kahlo fabric from The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection, this garment is one hell-of-a-show-stopper! I fell in love with this fabric the moment I saw it online and knew that it would make the perfect 3-foot train to Mamma’s exquisite ensemble. Pulling colors from nature as well as Mexican heritage, we came up with this rich, sumptuous look that only Mamma Biscuit could pull off. We topped it all off with an up-swept wig and crown of florals that would make Lana Del Rey seem practically derivative along with a gold rope chain with tassel charm to finish her off with fine detail.


Of course, our photoshoot would not be complete without some portraits of Mamma Biscuit in her own garden out in Fort Tryon Park, standing proudly alongside her pet monkey. Oh the crowds we drew around us as I put my camera on burst to capture this epic moment. Mamma sure knows how to do Halloween with effortless style and grace.


Frida Kahlo is a true, authentic artist and icon to Mamma Biscuit and family and it was a pleasure to reinterpret her for the 25th Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. The event took place over the weekend on Saturday, October 24th in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village and Mamma Biscuit, once again, delivered an epic costume for the elite dog crowd of New York City to chew on.


For starters, I cannot believe how crowded the parade was this year. I swear, there must have been close to 20,000 spectators in the park and close to 500 contestants because the sheer volume of people outside the fenced-in dog run and the sheer volume of dogs inside was borderline frightening. Of course, Mamma Biscuit and family arrived super early so that we could suit her up and get her prepared to receive the onslaught of media and fans awaiting her arrival, and boy did we get all of their attention. Everyone from Buzzfeed, The Village Voice, AM New York, USA Today, Newsday, The Guardian UK and the list goes on. Everyone wanted a piece of our Mexican beauty and Mamma was happy to give it to the fans, naturally.


I must say though, there were several “what the fuck” moments while waiting on-line to walk the runway. One woman came screaming over to us saying, “OMG, Mae West, what a great costume.” I’m like, “MAE WEST ? ? ? REALLY ? ? ?” LOL Our friend Vadim (who was on camera duty for us) overheard another woman on the phone say, “listen, I gotta go, there are these two guys holding a pug that are dressed up as The Wizard of OZ.” THE WIZARD OF OZ ? ? ? REALLY ? ? ? I can understand someone possibly mistaking Mamma Biscuit for, I don’t know, let’s say, Carmen Miranda but NOT Mae West or anything Wizard of Oz related. You all will be happy to know that an hour into the parade, an Asian woman and her 8-year old son came over to me, and the young child said, “OMG, I love Frida Kahlo” YES, you read that right, an 8-year old knew who Frida Kahlo was meanwhile there were a few adults in the audience who had no idea who Frida Kahlo was in context to art history let alone Mamma Biscuit’s Halloween costume. Well, you know me, it’s all about the meaningful icons for Mamma Biscuit when it comes to her Halloween costume because I’m not going to roll out some watered-down Disney shit (all on a float where the dog becomes secondary to props and all the other bells and whistles used as distractions) for the judges—that’s just not our style.


The host of the parade actually hosted two years back when Mamma Biscuit dressed as Vivienne Westwood and when we walked up on stage, he totally remembered Mamma Biscuit and said that because of her, he went out and bought a pug for himself. Now we love inspiring others to acquire a pet, especially a pug but the last thing I wanted to hear was that Mamma’s adorable presence inspired anyone to go out and “buy” a dog. Our mission has been and always will be to encourage adoption, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s unfortunate that it wasn’t the case in this particular situation, but I digress. Most importantly, Mamma placed 8th from the top 10 out of the first 200 dogs shown—not bad for a pug who nods off during the middle of the day!


As for Tommy and I, he was dressed as a Day of the Dead sugar skull, complete with floral crown and I was dressed as Diego Rivera post gastric bypass surgery. Hey, I may reference our costumes meticulously but I was not about to put on a fat suit for historical accuracy. At any rate, to put it simply, Mamma Biscuit slayed it at the parade and it literally took us close to 45 minutes to actually walk out of the park having to pose every five steps for thousands of spectators wanting to take a photo. Being the consummate professional Mamma Biscuit is, she obliged and everyone went home happy and satisfied!


So that’s it folks, Mamma Biscuit’s official Halloween costume for 2015: FRIDA KAHLO!


Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Posted in Fashion, Holiday, Media, NYC Life | 12 Comments

Halloween at the Bee Hive!


You better not fool with a Bumblebee!—
Ef you don’t think they can sting—you’ll see!
They’re lazy to look at, an’ kind o’ go
Buzzin’ an’ bummin’ aroun’ so slow,
An’ ac’ so slouchy an’ all fagged out,
Danglin’ their legs as they drone about
The hollyhawks ‘at they can’t climb in
‘Ithout ist a-tumble-un out ag’in!
Wunst I watched one climb clean ‘way
In a jimson-blossom, I did, one day,—
An’ I ist grabbed it — an’ nen let go—
An’ “Ooh-ooh! Honey! I told ye so!”
Says The Raggedy Man; an’ he ist run
An’ pullt out the stinger, an’ don’t laugh none,
An’ says: “They has be’n folks, I guess,
‘At thought I wuz predjudust, more er less,—
Yit I still muntain ‘at a Bumblebee
Wears out his welcome too quick fer me!”

—James Whitcomb Riley


Move out of our way Beyoncé because there is a new Queen Bee in the hive and she ain’t wearin’ hair extensions nor does she need a constant fan blowing in her face to look fabulous—she’s just simply Mamma Biscuit. OK, maybe she does love having a fan blowing in her gremlin face (preferably air conditioning) but it’s Mamma’s tongue that flaps in the wind, not expensive hair extensions fresh off the black market in India. Now everyone knows that our girl rules the world (girls, they run this motha) but she’s also crazy in love with her two daddies and her honey-coated hive that has been meticulously decorated for the most spookiest night of all—Halloween! In fact, Mamma’s been ‘a buzz with excitement for her second favorite holiday of the year ever since September rolled around. Actually, she got stung with the spirit of Halloween right in her curly tail the moment I put this bumble bee costume on her back. Her jaunty antennas swayed back and forth as she ran from one corner of the room to the other, revving up her wings, trying to hover like a lazy bee over her sticky throne. In fact, once she got her wings going, she began flying like a heavy, clumsy yet determined bumble bee, going from one display to the next, sometimes crashing into the wall, in an effort to put detailed finishing touches on her most extravagant Halloween display yet. When she wasn’t busy, toiling away with her scary decor, she was busy trying to sting me in my butt for peanut butter treats, taking too much advantage over me as a bumble bee.


Forget the pollen, forget the honey, if you want something truly sweet, then the trick is to get into Mamma’s hive to savor her treat. She has ghosts and goblins and skeletons galore. A creepy Halloween tree at the center of it all, boasting Mamma Biscuit’s name as the focal point by way of a fabulous garland alongside a menagerie of Victorian string puppets, glass balls, spiral twists, skulls, skeletons, paper bats, body parts and Krampus, the Austrian and Bavarian Christmas icon swirling around from branch to branch. Literally, every face of Halloween imaginable is depicted within this tree. Our hive is swarming with pumpkins and leaves and paper masks, all waiting for the bees to return home, to worship the Queen Bee and her sweet Halloween honey. So put your yellow jackets on and come buzzing through our extensive digital tour of Mamma’s Halloween hive, you’ll be happy you got stung!


Need some more honey to keep your strength up to continue on with this tour, let Mamma Biscuit give you a buzz . . . Bzzzzzzzzzzzz


So that’s it folks, our tour has finally come to a conclusion. Only two more weeks before we unveil Mamma Biscuit’s annual Halloween costume and this year, it’s gonna be more EPIC than last year, if you can even imagine that!



Posted in Fashion, Holiday, Vintage | 4 Comments

Apples to Apples!


I guess you’re wondering why Mamma Biscuit is seated in the pumpkin patch, right? After our last post where our Biscuit Lady stumbled upon the Great Pumpkin while taking a short walk through Fort Tryon Park, why would she waste her time (as she does every year) waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear when she’s already had a one-on-one with him in NYC? Good question. I myself wondered why she wanted to head into the pumpkin patch right after having a picnic with our friends before embarking out into the fields in search for the biggest apples we could find at Wilklow Orchards and all I could come up with is that she’s a pug, she’s stubborn and she’s a creature of habit. Moreover, I believe she really wanted to show off her new black cable knit sweater and bat wings accessory amongst all those big, round pumpkins in the patch.


With children running around everywhere and parents following several steps behind with their respective cameras in hand, Mamma Biscuit provided a much needed distraction from all the noise. I could have set up a “take a picture with the pug in the pumpkin patch” booth and made a killing. Instead, I steadily worked through our seasonal photoshoot of Mamma Biscuit while people everywhere crowded around us. I had to gently tell the children that they could pet her and give her a squeeze once I got my shots and they all waited patiently. With her wings spread wide and far, our little gremlin began to spook everyone around us with her batty disposition. She was giving us all gargoyle realness and had that been a legitimate category in Paris is Burning, Mamma would have won, hands down!


Once she got her fill in the pumpkin patch, the Biscuit Lady literally began to flutter her bat wings violently in attempts to fly off into the fields only to smash into an apple tree, mouth first, tongue out! I mean, Mamma barely has enough finesse and grace on any given walk through the neighborhood, you didn’t expect her to be able to fly smoothly, did you?


Now before we even get into the actual apple picking, I have to say, this is the first time we planned our annual visit to the orchards on a Sunday and the first time we ever scheduled it on the second week of October (normally, we go on a Saturday and on the third week of October) and I will never make this mistake ever again. I could not believe how fucking crowded the orchard was! It was like everyone on the Northeast got the memo to go apple picking over the weekend, specifically on Sunday and specifically at Wilklow Orchards. When the crowds are this dense, the activity is less enjoyable in my opinion, until of course, when we got out into the fields where we could find desolate areas of peace and calm amongst the beautiful and bountiful apple trees. Tommy and I have been making the annual trek every year for the past 10 years to Wilklow and we just couldn’t believe the sheer volume of people. Picnic seating was limited, parking was packed and there was a 10-minute wait for apple cider doughnuts, all of which depressed me beyond repair considering I have great memories of years passed where there were maybe 10 families in total at the orchard. I blame social media and blogs like this for glamorizing apple picking to the point of national hysteria. Just remember who was ahead of this trend: MAMMA BISCUIT, bitches!

At any rate, if you are the only one in America who has not gone apple picking, or pumpkin picking, or apple cider tasting, or pumpkin throwing, or corn mazing or whatever-the-hell October enthusiasts will come up with next, then sit back at home (which must be under a rock according to the fact that you have not participated in this trend), away from the crowds and enjoy a virtual tour of Mamma Biscuit’s day in the orchards with friends and family. We ended our day touring the historical town of New Paltz, specifically in an old cemetery, exactly where every Halloween excursion should lead you to.


And that’s all folks! Only two more weeks before we reveal Mamma Biscuit’s official Halloween costume for 2015!


Posted in Fashion, Holiday, Knitware, Outdoor Life | 4 Comments

The Great Pumpkin and Mamma Biscuit!


There is something really special about Autumn in New York and it has little to do with cool weather and cable knit sweaters and everything to do with Mamma Biscuit and her impending Halloween costume. I cannot wait to show you all what we have come up with for her this year because to merely say it’s EPIC is really just a gross understatement. It’s beyond EPIC and unfortunately, y’all will have to wait another three weeks before we unveil it here. In the meantime, to usher in our most favorite and spookiest season of all, we bring to you the Great Pumpkin and Mamma Biscuit!


I know, I know, you’re wondering how the hell did this happen! It’s so crazy that Mamma Biscuit has been wasting all of these years planting her cute butt in the pumpkin patch at the apple orchards up in New Paltz waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear the way Linus does every year . . . and of course, every year, he never shows up. Who would have thought that a nice brisk walk through Fort Tryon Park on a perfect Autumn day would bring these two together?


Here’s how it all went down. Mamma Biscuit woke up that morning with a pep in her step and a glimmer in her marble eyes and I knew something special was about to happen the moment she pranced out of the apartment door. At first I thought it was the sheer comfort of her pumpkin pajamas that gave her this extra boost of confidence but when she started tugging on her leash, literally walking me straight into the woods, I knew something was up. The moment we cleared the brush alongside a park lamp post, there he was, the famed Great Pumpkin in all of his glory, waiting patiently for our little gremlin to arrive. It was a Halloween miracle really and all I could think of was how poor Linus and Sally was missing it all. I unclasped Mamma’s leash and off she ran right into the Great Pumpkin’s lap soaking in all of his magical Halloween powers. It was as if I was charging a battery because Mamma Biscuit eyes were twirling as her Halloween tank was being filled. The Great Pumpkin gave her a few words of Halloween encouragement, wrote down a witch spell to make her daddies give her loads of peanut butter treats against our will and then he disappeared, right from under her.


Poof, he was gone and Mamma Biscuit was titling her little pug head from left to right wondering if it was all real. Thank goodness I was there to witness the whole thing with my camera!


So there you have it folks, Mamma Biscuit and the Great Pumpkin are officially ushering in the Halloween season. Star your engines and may the best costume WIN!


Posted in Holiday | 6 Comments

Tails From Her Booth!


Sit . . . stay . . . smile . . . a common command from my mouth to Mamma Biscuit’s ears during the hundreds of photoshoots I have taken of her throughout the years. Unfortunately, that command alone is completely meaningless without a bag of soft-chew peanut butter treats that I dangle before my lens to entice my little gremlin to strike a pose as I click my camera to capture the magic that you see laid before you in this blog. Now have you ever wondered how dogs would look and act like squeezed together in a traditional photo booth? I know, it never really crossed my mind personally but fortunately, it did for Lynn Terry, a professional photographer from St. Louis, Missouri—and the results of such a concept are sidesplittingly hilarious and adogable! Coming this October from Gallery Books is Lynn’s book entitled Tails from the Booth, a heartwarming collection of over one hundred photos of dogs in photobooths cuddling, wrestling, smooching, laughing, yawning, howling, jumping, sneezing and generally looking too cute for words. As an Art Director in book cover design, there are a few projects that come across my desk annually that I can actually get excited about and when Tails from the Booth was presented as a book that we were going to publish, I was beyond excited to get started. Halfway through the cover design process, Lynn Terry came to Simon & Schuster to give our staff here who own dogs the opportunity to capture them on film in a booth for the book and of course I made sure Mamma Biscuit was a part of this.

On the day of the photoshoot, I brought Mamma Biscuit into work wearing her plaid Vivienne Westwood punk dress. You know me, I’ll do anything to set her apart from the pack although her epic tongue alone would suffice in making Mamma unique to other dogs. The photoshoot was hilarious. Mamma got to lick peanut butter straight from the jar while the flash bulbs went off in her face. In other words, it was like a canine red carpet experience. In the end, not only did Lynn Terry put Mamma Biscuit in the book but I made sure to incorporate one of her photos somewhere within the jacket design. Take a look at the back cover and tell me if Mamma Biscuit hasn’t stolen the show with her curled tongue?


And now for the the moment you all have been waiting for, the final interior photographs of Mamma Biscuit mixed in with unused outtakes from the photoshoot.


And how about some behind-the-scenes video . . .

Tails from the Booth is a must-have book for dog lovers and Mamma Biscuit enthusiasts from around world. It’s the perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season. There are over one hundred photos of dogs of every breed, size and background making funny faces and striking silly poses. Share a slobbery, wet smile with the dog lover in your life with Tails from the Booth, out on book shelves everywhere in October!


Posted in Book Club, Design, Fashion | 4 Comments