TRAILER | “Downton Abbey,” Season 2

Hap tip to Will Briganti, who passed along this trailer for the second season of “Downton Abbey” earlier today.

“Downton,” which you may have seen on PBS earlier this spring, chronicles the fictional family of the Earl of Grantham and was the brainchild of Julian Fellowes, the auteur behind “Gosford Park.” While British audiences will get the second season on Sept. 18, we Yanks have to wait until January.

Take a gander. And, for what it’s worth, the first season is available on iTunes.

MAPS | USGS bonanza online, courtesy of U.N.H.

WestchesterA detail from the 1891 U.S. Geological Survey map of the Harlem, NY-NJ Quadrangle that shows southern Westchester County.

As you may have guessed from various posts over the two years I’ve been operating, I love maps.

The affinity for cartography is a trait inherited from my mother, who is obsessed with atlases, maps and where things are, were and will be. Given that most of her life — save for stints in Europe and Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s — has been spent in Morris County, New Jersey, it seems fitting that she hung a giant school-room map of the county in our den about 10 years ago. Also in her collection is a soil map of Sullivan County, New York, where we own a home; a vintage Sullivan topo that includes our pond there; and a 1921 road map of New Jersey.

Topos are always fun — don’t you want to know the elevation of Amherst, N.Y.? I do. I was delighted by the recent discovery of a massive online archive of U.S. Geological Survey topos. The maps, housed by the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library Documents Department, cover all of New York and New England.

Here’s a little gallery of historic topos of places that interest me:

COCKTAILS | Take flight with the Aviation

DSC_0714The Aviation cocktail.

Gin continues to be my muse — it worked for Cheever, too, as contributor Maxell Eaton III recently pointed out — and I’ve been itching to try the Aviation.

A classic that’s not much served in the mainstream, the Aviation is allegedly the creation of Hugo Ensslin, a bartender at New York’s late Hotel Wallick. The original recipe called for the addition of crème de violette, but a later, 1930 offering from Henry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book omits it. I opted for Craddock’s version and both Mrs. F. and I were pleased with the results.

The Aviation takes flight on energy borne from the marriage of gin and maraschino liqueur. The latter is not something everyone stocks, but I was able to find Luxardo at Westchester Wine Warehouse in White Plains. The drink can be viewed as either a refresher or an apertif. It’s well worth a try.


• 2 ounces gin
• 1/2 ounce lemon juice
• 1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
• 1/4 ounce crème de violette

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake or stir vigorously and serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with one maraschino cherry. Enjoy.

COCKTAILS | The Knickerbocker adds a little red to the Martini

KnickThe Knickerbocker, a variant of the classic gin Martini.

After a long haul at the paper, there’s nothing better to forgive the day’s various petty injustices like a dry Martini. That first cool whisper of gin sets aside all the aggravation and begins a cycle of well-deserved relaxation. It is a ritual I cherish.

It’s also a ritual that can use a little change from time to time. And so, last night, after slogging through a day on our business and sports desks, I turned to the Knickerbocker.

Essentially a dry martini with a splash of red vermouth, the Knickerbocker’s origins are mysterious. It seems like the kind of concoction that would have been enjoyed my journalistic forebears during Prohibition. I suspect it might be named for the Hotel Knickerbocker where an Italian bartender named Martini di Arma di Taggia allegedly gave birth to the holiest of mixed drinks.

There’s also another, older Knickerbocker recipe that calls for rum, curacao and raspberry syrup, but it seems a bit summery and will have to wait until 2010.

This Knickerbocker has its charms, especially for vermouth lovers. I prefer my martinis dry as a bone — I use atomizers to dust my glass with vermouth, if I use any at all. This may be my St. Lawrence roots speaking. There’s an old anecdote about some ancient alumni at Canaras, our Upper Saranac Lake retreat, who, at cocktail hour each summer night, are alleged to have waved their glasses east toward France and Italy to acknowledge the vermouth before diving straight in with beautiful, ice cold gin. Still, the Knickerbocker is worth a try to vary your routine.

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce of dry vermouth (or less!)
Dashes of red vermouth

Add all ingredients to ice in a shaker. Shake, serve and enjoy.

GEAR| It’s time for your Filson cruisers to come out

FilsonThe Filson Mackinac Cruiser, an American icon since 1914.

When I arrived in Saranac Lake as a cub reporter at the beginning of the decade, the man to scoop was Ned Rauch. Working for our rival, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Ned was a hell of a reporter. He’s also a fairly stylish fellow and, when the weather turned cold, he broke out a well-worn Filson Mackinaw Cruiser that was often accompanied by a terrific old Daily News beanie.

As the weather lurches toward wintry, I’m sure Ned, now living, writing and performing in New York, is donning his cruiser.

Manufactured in the United States since 1914, the six-button jacket from Seattle’s C.C. Filson Outfitters, is an American classic. Filson, of course, first made its name as a Seattle outfitter in the Klondike gold rush of 1897. The cruiser, patented by founder C.C. Filson, has basically remained the same since it was introduced. Constructed from 26-ounce wool that can hold thirty percent of its water without feeling damp, the jacket has four front pockets, two-hand warmer slots and a large, rear pocket for maps or whatever else you’d like to carry in it.

Priced at $279.50, it’s an investment to be sure, but take comfort in the fact that your grandson will probably wear it.

Filson Mackinaw Cruiser

GREAT HOUSES| Cheery Lodge, an exceptional Lake Placid camp

CheeryCheery Lodge is an iconic East Lake camp currently on offer from Merrill L. Thomas for $8.95 million.

Built around 1910 as a clubhouse for the long-departed Ruisseaumont Club, Cheery Lodge is one of the greatest properties on Lake Placid’s east lake. For the last 50 years, it’s been owned by a leading Lake Placid family and is now on offer from Merrill L. Thomas.

The house, whose best features are a cathedral-ceilinged great room and a sprawling lawn that leads down to the lake, is one of loveliest Adirondack homes I’ve ever visited. Just about five years ago, I took Mrs. F, then Miss H., to a cocktail party for the Adirondack Friends of the Animals at Cheery Lodge. We were bowled over.

And so anyone would be. Sitting on 4.2 acres and boasting 11 bedrooms — seven for family and guests, four for staff— and seven-and-a-half baths, Cheery Lodge offers quite a bit of house.

From the Merill L. Thomas listing:

y. The main level is highlighted by an impressive two story great room with commanding views of the lake, a majestic fireplace and an original Hamner guideboat. The formal dining room accommodates fourteen guests and features water views, whitewashed oak paneling and its own cut-stone fireplace. Magnificent screened and open porches offer summer solace, evening sunsets or the perfect setting for a grand celebration. … The 3-slip enclosed boathouse and 285 feet of shoreline invite unlimited water activities including swimming at the sandy bottom beach, sailing, fishing and motor boating. A private Adirondack lean-to makes a great gathering place for cookouts and overnights.

On top of all of that, the house has a pretty swell history. It was once featured in a Town&Country spread and played host to the King and Queen of Sweden during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

Take a look at these additional photos, which highlight the great room and the property’s views of the East Lake:

GALLERY| Newspapers’ zenith: ‘The World on Sunday’

World“The World on Sunday,” a compendium of beautiful pages from the golden era of the New York World, is one of the great newspaper books of our day.

If you’ve ever visited our home, you’ve surely noticed the large coffee table in our den that’s stacked high with books and magazines. Among the titles that usually draws a lot of attention from our guests is “The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper, 1898-1911.”

The compendium of pages from the golden era Pulitzer’s World was published in 2005 and was assembled by Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano, married journalists who live in Maine. The World, of course, can lay a claim as the greatest newspaper in American history. In the period between roughly 1895 and 1915, Pulitzer’s flagship fanned the flames of the Spanish-American War, raked muck on any number of subjects and, as Baker and Brentano point out, commanded the largest audience of any publication save perhaps the Bible.

The Sunday World, which the authors say weighed as much as a small roast beef, was Pulitzer’s greatest triumph. Disseminated from the World’s Park Row headquarters across the country, it was the foundation of the Sunday newspaper we know today. Pulitzer’s World carried comics, magazine supplements, classifieds and illutstrations that, 100 years on, make any person who’s every been near a paper drool and fuss with envy. Even if published today, many of these pages would be graphically revolutionary.

Sadly though, copies of the World and its supplements from the turn of the 20th century are very difficult to find. Baker and Brentano formed a non-profit corporation in 1999 to raise $150,000 to purchase more than 6,000 bound volumes of copies of the Sunday World printed between 1898 and well into the teens from the British Library, the U.K.’s equivalent of the Library of Congress. Their American Newspaper Repository, whose collection has since been turned over to Duke, assembled thousands of volumes of American newspapers. The book, the authors say, is an attempt to share the bounty of some of that collection. And what a bounty, indeed.

Here’s the Times review of “The World on Sunday,” and, to order it from, click here.

DINING| Café des Artistes, Old New York institution since 1917, closes its doors

LogoCafé des Artistes’ iconic logo, designed in the 1970s by George Lois.

Café des Artistes, the venerable continental dining institution on the Upper West Side, has closed, the Times reports.

Opened in 1917, the restaurant is perhaps best known for its murals, painted in the 1930s by artist Howard Chandler Christy, who lived in an apartment above it. CDA has been owned since 1975 by Jenifer and George Lang and has long been a magnet for entertainers working at nearby Lincoln Center and employees of ABC.

We dined at CDA on our first anniversary and adored the place. We’d planned on dining there next month, but that seems unlikely. The building wherein the restaurant resides owns its name, which seems a bit of good news. Perhaps the space will be leased to new operators. Cross your fingers — this is a piece of Old New York too wonderful to lose permanently.

GALLERY| Remembering the old Penn Station

Penn StationPerhaps the most famous photo of the old Pennsylvania Station, this shot was snapped in March 1943 by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE.

A plotline in this week’s edition of “Mad Men” involved the 1963 demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station, a towering example of American architecture.

“I don’t think it’s crazy to be attached to a Beaux-Arts through which Teddy Roosevelt came and went,” Paul Kinsey, as played by Michael Gladis, tells a group of Pennsylvania Railroad executives visiting Sterling Cooper looking for ways to overcome public outcry against plans to replace the station with Madison Square Garden.

The railroad sold the air rights to their property for the creation of Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden. In turn, at no charge, they received a new, smaller and air-conditioned station below street level. It’s one of the ugliest complexes in the city.

Completed in 1910 and designed by McKim, Mead and White, the original station’s exterior was modeled on Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and its interior on the Baths of Caracalla. Its demolition was widely decried, even garnering mention on the Times’ editorial page, and as the sledge hammers began to fall, the roots of the city’s architectural preservation movement were sewn.

A visit to today’s aging Garden and Penn Plaza will still yield hints of the old station. The Roman-style ballustrades on the staircases leading to the tracks are one of the more obvious reminders of the old station, the demolition of which is considered one of the great tragedies of public works in American history.

Here’s a gallery, assembled from the LIFE archive, of the old Penn Station in its mid-century glory.

LINERS| R.M.S. Majestic, 1914-1943

MajesticThis postcard depicts the R.M.S. Majestic, flagship of the White Star Line from 1922 until the 1930 merger with Cunard.

She held the title of the world’s largest liner from her entry into service in 1922 until the advent of the French Line’s Normandie in the spring of 1935. Weighing in at 56,551 tons with a length of 956 feet, a breadth of 100 feet and a draft of 38 feet, the Majestic was known as the “Magic Stick” by her admirers.

The last of the great trio planned by the Germans in the early 1910s for the Hamburg-America Line. They were to be the Imperator, the Vaterland and the Bismarck. The Imperator sailed for New York for the first time in the spring of 1913. The Vaterland followed a year later. When World War I broke out, work on the Bismarck was halted. All three were surrendered in reparation talks. The Imperator went to Cunard to compensate the line’s loss of the Lusitania in 1915. The Americans took on the Vaterland, left in Hoboken at the start of the war and renamed her the Leviathan. White Star, which lost its Britannic to a mine in the Aegean in November 1916.

The Majestic was immensely popular in the 1920s and remained so through the Depression, which saw her take on a good deal of cheap cruises from New York and elsewhere. Cunard-White Star sold her to scrappers in Iverkeithing, Scotland in February 1936, but she was saved from the torch by the British Admiralty which rechristened her as the Caledonia and used her as a training ship at Rosyth until the start of World War II. She was deliberately beached and caught fire on Sept. 29, 1939. Her final, heavily damaged remains were broken up in 1943.

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