Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Whenever you think of elegant and sophisticated French crystal lighting, you automatically think of Bagues. But you never say it out loud because you're worried you'll humiliate yourself by mispronouncing it. And that's good because you probably would. I know I did. :)


Anyhow, Maison Bagues was founded in 1840 and quickly became renowned for their art lighting, hand made and utilizing bronze, clear or rock crystal, and gold or silver leaf. By 1860, the manufactory had moved to Paris and today Maison Bagues can be found nestled under the Viaduct des Arts, Paris, and continues to create recreations of it's oldest models, examples of which are currently hung in hotels like George V Four Seasons Paris, The Ritz, The Savoy in London and the Royal Mansour in Marrakech.

Most people mispronounce "Bagues" as "BAG'D GAYS," which is completely wrong. A "bagged-gay" is just a homosexual gentlemen who's partied all night, gotten zero sleep, is coming off God knows what pill (or spent the evening "powdering" his nose in the mensroom) and is, well, totally in the bag. It also refers to the unavoidable dark "hound dog" bags under his eyes which scream for chilled cucumbers to take the swelling down. Elvis sung it best:

Bagues is different and correctly pronounced just "BAG" or "BAG-(guh)"- either is fine. 

OK, I know what you're thinking: "Ok, Buzz, but how am I supposed to remember this in a high pressure high society cocktail party at Art Basel or God forbid at next year's Opera Gala? The thought terrifies me. And my doctor won't refill my Xanax prescription." Ok. Got it. You're a mess. Luckily, I specialize in messes! But you may need more than my blog to screw your head on straight. In the meantime, here's what you do when that Bagues Panic Attack strikes:

  • First, throw 3 or 4 martinis down your throat, (Grey Goose up, very dry with olives please). 
  • Second, remember that you can master the pronunciation of Bagues simply by associated it with JAMES BROWN, the 1960's King of Soul.  Can you believe how easy that was!?
  • Ok, fine. I know what you're thinking: "Buzz, that makes NO SENSE!" Correct, but what else is new on this blog? Besides, illiterate writing and reasoning is my signature style of teaching and I consider it a gift as well as the reason I was in Special Ed classes for so long. Anyhow,  just read on. Here's James Brown:

According to himself,  James was "The hardest working man in show business." And he may have been right because NOBODY perspired more on stage than James did. Ok, Judy did at Carnegie Hall but she was hopped up on 20 diet pills so she doesn't count. But what about James Brown? Well, I suspect the "poor fool" (as James would say) had hyperhidrosis (look it up and be thankful your pits aren't soaked around the clock). Bleh.

I also think he overly-wet himself because he went on stage (est. temperature 95 degrees) wearing a heavy wool cape over a polyester jumpsuit (OMG who doesn't know that polyester doesn't breathe for God's sake!). On top of all that, he insisted on wearing a huge wig-hat on his head (see above). Plus he'd shimmy, gyrate, do the splits (I'm not kidding-he was practically a chorine!), scream like a banshee (HEP ME! HEP ME!) and then collapse in a sopping heap on the floor. His back-up dancers would then rush to his aid, dragging his lifeless but miraculously still singing body offstage to thunderous applause. What a showman! Liberace had nothing on him. Ok, he did but that's another blog post.

Anyhow, the point is (yes, there is a point somewhere here) that when you think of James Brown, you remember Bagues crystal because you automatically think of his chart busting hit "Poppa's got a Brand New Bag Part I." 

NPR defines "bag" as "soul slang for a new female love interest." Ridiculous. What does NPR know? Music insiders like myself (and Clive Davis) know that this was the '60's dude! Get with it. Back then "bag" was one of the many "secret hidden street slang words" that only the coolest artists and listening cognoscenti of that era could decipher. Cognoscenti is pronounced "KANYE shentee."  I know you expect me to make a smarmy Kim Kardashian crack here…ok, that was funny…and I just did.

A perfect example of these "street slang lyrics" of the 60's  is "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter Paul and Mary.

That dragon is so cute, right? But that song wasn't about a dragon at all! It's hard to say but I think it was about marijuana or maybe just smoking in the boy's room. Or maybe a drag queen. I have no idea but all were verboten back then! True factoid: I've never even tried a cigarette in my entire life. Nor have I done drag. But I have verbotened a coupla times after too many vodka sodas at the Fall Antique Show.

Anyhow, in the 1960's, it just wasn't cool to be a big "Mo" and I think James might have been, sigh, a friend of Dorothy's. But don't believe me - just check out the name Brown cleverly chose for his back- up singers: "The Famous Flames." Uh huh.

Desperate to bust outta the closet (but politically impossible back then), James was trying to share with us with his sexual, uh, bent. He was never interested in women! We know this because:
1. He hated sharing his wig hats, and
2. His ONLY passion was collecting foofy/girly and delicate Bagues crystal sconces like this one:

And 3, it's a little known factoid that James follow up single to "Papa's Gotta a Brand New Bag Part 1" was "Papa's Gotta a Brand New Bag Part 2" which was a disco remix of "I Enjoy Being a Girl." So that's even more evidence to support my point. Sadly, Papa's got blah blah Part 2 was never released for obvious reasons.

Now I forgot what this blog was about. Oh yeah, Bagues crystal. Here's a whopper chandelier in the Chinoiserie style:

And my favorite is this pair of rock crystal girandoles (pronounced "JEER on doles") in the Bagues taste:

No. 3566

This pair is at C. Mariani so if you want them, drop by, we'll crank up some James Brown music (HAVE MOYSEY!) and get bagged on a bottle of Cristal, which ties me right back into the crystal treasures of Bagues. The end. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Let me start by saying I have nothing against Geeks or appliqués.

In fact, some of my best friends are Geeks. OK, I can't say I'd be comfortable with one moving next door, but that doesn't mean I don't like them.

Appliqués of baby geeks No. 1554-available

I'm actually a very hip guy--I say gag when I really like something....AND I know geeks are cool now, so I accept their lifestyle choice. I just don't want my daughter marrying one.

Appliqué of another baby geek No. 4256-available

And to all you Geek Activists in San Francisco, please don't send me whiney texts about this. In San Francisco, everyone and everything has an activist group: Insects, Polyester, Dust Mites, Clams, you name it.

I myself am a Gerbil activist (along with other celebrities like Richard Gere). In fact, when biking to work I wear a Go!Cam on my noggin trying to capture videos of Gerbil abuse.

Just look at these adorable angels (OK, they're rodents, but what mom wouldn't want 1000 of them nesting in her nursery?).  I myself own three:

"Shrimp Boy"


and "Stretch"

Awwwwww, so cute, right? OK, so now that we're feeling all warm and fuzzy, let's talk about inhumane torture.

I'm talking about what's "going down" (hip right?) at Guantanamo Bay (pronounced WONTON-uh-mo, BAY): Waterboarding. Blasting the Red Hot Chili Peppers music day and night (this is not a joke-really-Google it). Solitary confinement with no access to Cool Ranch Doritos. They probably even use the tried and true "Iron Maiden." I think we can all agree these are barbaric forms of extracting information from terrorists as well as reappearing cast members on ABC's Scandal (ABC Thursdays at 10|9 central):

The Iron Maiden-ouch, ouch, ouchie!

But for an antique guy like me (no smart cracks about my age), the cruelest and most inhumane torture is having to listen to antique geeks constantly mispronounce one of the most common words in antique-speak: APPLIQUÉ.

It's pronounced "app-lick-KAY" but for some reason everyone says "app-PLEEK." ARRRGGHHH. And it's so darn easy to remember: just think of that catchy jingle from Kay Jewelers: (music) "Every kiss begins with Kay." And then think of its lesser known but equally delightful sister ditty, (music) "Every appliqué ends with Kay." Simple dimple.

I suspect all this appalling mispronunciation of "appliqué" started in 1978 with that disco crowd in New York City. Many of these glitterati were overly rich antique dealers who learned all the French they know at Studio 54 (while "powdering their noses" in the bathroom stalls with Bianca Jagger).

How do I know this? Well, the biggest disco hit of 1978 was the smash Le Freak C'est Chic (pronounced "leh freek say sheek.") So to me it's obvious that calling an appliqué an "App-LEEK" can be directly traced to drugs, alcohol, Studio 54 and some lousy DJ (now waiting tables at Chick-fil-A in Snellville, GA).

This is why I despise discos: BAD FRENCH. Damn you Steve Rubel!

The word appliqué is used a lot when talking antiques because it means so many things! It can mean a wall sconce, a bracket, an architectural element mounted on a wall, or a variety of pieces that are carved or molded and then overlayed on a larger piece.

OK, so now that we know how to pronounce appliqué, let's take a look at some.

Here's a beautiful pair of giltwood wall appliqués (also called trophies) currently hanging in our Gallery. The detail is extraordinary:

No. 3521-available

And this was an amazing pair we had from Florence, 18th c. Italian wrought iron, showing two of the Papal hats:


Look at the hat on the left above. It's called a "Saturno" hat--I think it was designed by the renowned milliner to the Popes, Guido Saturno. But to me, it looks like a cowboy hat. Is there NOTHING new in fashion? Anyhow, the Pope dons this jaunty hat for resort wear, beach volleyball, and romantic picnics on St. Peter's Square. Little known fact: Pope Benedict XVI (shown below) was as much a fashion icon as Princess Di. Sigh. Here's a photo of him wearing his smart chapeau at an impromptu beer bust thrown by the College of Cardinals. College boys, will they ever change? :)

The Pope at Malibu Beach early last year.

More appliqués, these 19th c. polychrome and mecca giltwood with ebonized animal paws grasping candle torcheres:

No. 1059-available

And here's a handsome antique appliqué pair of sconces in silver gilt with tole "leaf" bobeches:


Appliqués are also wall brackets like this rare and gargantuan 18th c. Italian pair in polychrome and parcel gilt:

No. 3196-available

Baroque 18th c. Italian Giltwood sconces with hand-made tapers (hand-made by ME-I kid you not):

No. 2250-available

And this pair of remarkable Italian 17th c. copper clad repoussé wall sconces:

No. 2317-available

So what have we learned from this post? This is a multiple choice question:
   A. Not a whole helluva lot except that I forgot how revolting disco music was.
   B. NOW I know how to pronounce appliqué.
   C. Appliqué means so many things that the word is pretty worthless and so is this blog.

The correct answer is ALL ARE RIGHT! Congratulations--no one's a loser (at least not here).

Here's the most important thing to take away from this post. The word appliqué means so many things (sconces, brackets, stuff that hangs on walls, wall trophies, blah blah), that you're much better off just speaking in terms of what you really want. 

If you want a wall bracket, then say that. A light sconce? Say that. Some dooohicky to hang on your wall? You're on your own and I'm not your mother. 

The thing is, that if you walk into an antique shop and ask for an appliqué, you're just gonna be asked, "What kind?" So save yourself the effort but take great comfort in the knowledge that you know a very sophisticated antique term that comes in very handy with all the parvenus (pronounced PAR-ven-news) at uppity cocktail parties. Buzz out. :)

Legal Disclaimers: I don't own gerbils, I don't ride a bike, I don't wear a Go!Cam on my head; the Red Hot Chili Pepper Torture is absolutely true;  I don't have a daughter-duh.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


It's almost February 14th and you know what that means: VD is right around the corner. So I'm sure you're planning a romantic Valentine's Day  dinner for your "special someone." Awwww. :)

UNRELATED FACTOID: I love this holiday because it reminds me of the 5th Grade when Miriam Lipschitz (yes, pronounced "LIP shits") nervously asked me, "Buzzy, would you be my Valentine?"

Of course, I completely panicked! Did this mean I had to kiss her? Or worse, would I have to go to FIRST BASE with her (whatever that meant-but I heard about it and suspected it could get her pregnant and being a mother at 9 just seemed wrong to me).

So I said, "Uh, well, Miriam, can I think about it?" That took the blush off the rose so I didn't have to worry about her again, but I still remember her fondly. Besides, truth be told, I secretly wanted either Tab Hunter (woof!) or Mousketeer Annette Funicello as my dream date Valentine. But neither called. :(

ANOTHER UNRELATED FACTOID: Ralph Lauren's real last name is actually Lipschitz too. Not kidding. But wait...OMG!.... I wonder if Miriam was related to Ralph which means I could've married her, become a filthy rich Lipschitz and pretended I belonged to the most restricted WASP country clubs just like Ralph and his POLO models do??? WAAAHHHHHH!!!!

But back to the big upcoming romantic dinner: If you're like me, you're wondering what to make for that killer dessert. The one your sweetheart will never forget.

I have the perfect answer: how about a yummy terra cotta Valentine (pronounced "TER uh COT duh"), drizzled with lots of sweet raspberry coulis (pronounced "COOL lee"). Talk about amuse-bouche!!! Pronounced "ahm mooz BOOSH." Trust me, it'll make for an unforgettable evening.

Uh, hang on a second.....lemme think here....um, TERRA COTTA IS THE SAME AS PANNA COTTA, RIGHT?

Well, that depends. If your Valentine is stoned out of his mind-then yes, terra cotta and panna cotta are exactly the same. They both taste like chicken. Buzz's disclaimer on controlled substances: just say no to drugs and spend that money on antiques.

This is important because if your sweetheart is NOT smoking "Valentine weed" (or whatever they call it these days...somebody told me "420" (!?). But I may have just asked for the time-I can't remember I was so out of it....), anyhow if the bf/gf is sober, then the answer is NO, terra cotta is nothing like panna cotta! Here's a pair of late 19th c. terra cotta urns from C. Mariani Antiques, Restoration & Custom:

Would you eat them? Of course not! It's criminal to destroy a perfectly good antique. Duh.

Anyhow, Panna Cotta is a rich dessert that comes from a Jello mold--and it's SO easy to make! In fact, you can prepare it in advance if guests are coming to admire your collection of terra cotta.

Terra Cotta, on the other hand, is just mud that comes from the earth. Well, technically it's a reddish clay used for statues, totems and other objet d'art.

WELL KNOWN FACTOID: Terra cotta doesn't work as a dessert because it tastes gritty, clogs your colon and makes you extremely gassy. In other words, it's an acquired taste.

So now you know. Have a ROMANTIC Valentines Day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


We all know I need to get a hobby. But until I do, I often read older posts I did like this holiday post I wrote back on November 21, 2009 about all things fireplace. This article really cracked me up. Ok, I'm my biggest fan but it's so MEAN it's funny. Come to think of it, I wonder where my mean sense of humor went? Probably to Los Angeles-meanness is highly prized there. Hehe. Anyhow, hope you enjoy it:

It's almost that time of year....THE HOLIDAY SEASON.....Yay! Soon we'll start dreaming of a white Christmas, making our gift lists, and snuggling up to the fire with lots of hot cocoa and plenty of valium.

So what could me more appropriate than a "hearth and home" post about antique pieces that enhance and beautify your fireplace?

You'd think this topic would be simple dimple right? After all, you just grab some andirons, throw on a coupla Cracklelogs, fire them up with your Aim 'N Flame lighter (btw, I can totally flame without aiming at all) and voilá: instant fire. Well, yes, if you're a complete moron (pronounced "MORE on"), this process is indeed that simple.

Moronic side note: When I was in my 30's and still a swingin' single, I had a condo with one of those concrete log, gas-ignition fireplaces. And when I had a hot date coming over, I'd put on my "crackling coalscassette tape (see below) to create that oh-so-important romantic mood--it was actually very effective and my dates (all three of them) were never the wiser as to my faux romantic ambience. BTW, I SWEAR this tape shown below is the real thing-really-but I do wonder why I've kept it for 30 years. I'll ask my therapist...

Anyhow, before we can get to andirons, we should talk about log grates. A log grate is the metal frame placed inside the fireplace (often between the "arms" of the andirons) to prevent the wood or coal from falling out. This is a log grate:

BE CAREFUL NOT TO CONFUSE a log grate with a log rack. The grate sits inside your fireplace; the rack sits outside the firebox and holds your wood (Ok, that's hysterically funny--and Freudian-but let's just move on). This is a log rack:

Mistaking your rack for your grate could prove costly since firing up your log rack will get you 10-20 years for arson rather than a romantic evening at home.

But "HEY BUZZ!", you ask, "WHAT IF I'M THE ONE WHO'S BUZZED when I come home from a holiday parté and accidentally fire up my log rack instead of my log grate: how will I know?" 

A provocative question but more importantly incredibly stupid. I like that. Luckily, the answer to your question is as simple as you are:

First, just say no to drugs. Second, if  "No" is not in your vocabulary but you still don't want to star in the sequel to "The Burning Bed," here's the way to tell if you've done it right: start by staggering back AWAY from the fire and try to focus on the flames as best you can.If the flames look like this, then you've properly lit the wood on the grate, congratulations, and go to bed:

But if the fire looks like the photo below, then you've whoopsied big time. If this is the case, FIRST: call your insurance agent to file your claim, and SECOND, call 911:

But to truly undertsand the intricacies and nuances of your fireplace (who thought this could be so complicated??), our adventure must start with baby steps. 

So here we go:

Baby step 1. What's a FIREDOG? Good question because many fireplaces do have one. But what exactly are they? Firedogs are DALMATIONS (duh) like this oh-so-cute (but highly flammable) example:

If I owned this firedog, I'd call him Spot (it's tres retro, don't you think?).

More relevant to our discussion of antiques, what's another firedog (other than "Spot") that could hang around the fire without spontaneously combusting? That would be an antique firedog that is just another word for andirons (pronounced "AN die urns"). 

Baby step 2: What are andirons? Andirons are metal supports for logs (real or phoney) that serve to lift the logs off the ground thereby promoting more air flow around them and making for a better fire. They also keep the logs from rolling forward. And, of course, andirons can be highly decorative too. Here's a nice pair (when I was in high school that meant something very different than andirons--but I digress):

Baby step 3: Our rich neighbors just got a new expensive set of andirons and offered us their creepy old ones that they "were going to give to Goodwill." These clowns bought Google at $105 a share because they thought the name was "so cute" and now they're worth gazillions and rub it in our faces constantly? What should we do?

Not a problem. You can be wonderfully passive/aggressive and effectively put them in their place with some fancy French fireplace terminology that they'll never understand. This will also make them feel less worthy and thereby brighten your holiday season immensely.

So what's the secret word to use? It's "andiers" (pronounced "ahn dee YAY") and means exactly the same thing as a set of firedogs/andirons. Just like pommes frites are just another name for French fries and their more Americanized cousins, the Tater-Tots:

So when you visit your neighbors to drop off that holiday fruitcake, make sure to compliment them on their shiny new store-bought "andiers", then say "au revoir" and leave smugly knowing that money alone can't buy you class (but then neither can this blog).

Baby step 4:  If by some miracle the neighbors actually know what andiers are, then just call them "chenets" (pronounced "shuh NEH") which is yet another synonym for andirons. That ought to do the trick.

Baby step 5: "Ok, Buzz, got the andiron/firedog/andiers/chenets thing, but then what's a FIREBACK? I saw some on your website."

Firebacks can mean a coupla things. First, they relate to a time when men defended a woman's "honor" by slapping each other with gloves (this still happens a lot in West Hollywood) and then challenging each other to a duel (where each fool tries to shoot the other first). The duelers would typically march ten steps away from the other, turn and fire. The one who forgot to "fireback" would be the dead one and the other loser would "win" the girl. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory. 

Ok, great. But what's an antique fireback? Antique firebacks are cast metal plates that protect the backside of the fire box against catching fire and spreading to the rest of the building.

Plus the thick iron plate serves to keep the heat radiating back into the room, thus working like a radiator and increasing the heating efficiency of the fire by as much as 50%.

Firebacks date back to the mid 15th century and were originally luxury items affordable only to royalty and the aristocracy. Thus the early firebacks show the crests and crowns of royalty and titled families. Later on, as firebacks became more affordable, they came to be embellished with more decorative designs about classical stories, nature and rural life. Today, these decorative antique firebacks are often mounted as handsome wall appliqués.

Baby step 6 (this is one long-winded baby): Ok Buzz, got the grate thing, firedog thing and all the other stuff, but then what's a fireplace FENDER?

Well. if you're a grease monkey, it's that part of the car that's usually dented and hence in need of your expert services.

If you're "in a band", which is another way of saying you're still unemployed, then a Fender is the coolest electric guitar ever. When I was in high school, my brother had a Fender Stratocaster that helped his band (called "The Periscopes"-don't ask me why) to win back-to-back Van Nuys High School "Sock Hop" Battle of the Band contests. Here's an example of a really sa-weet Stratocaster:

Sadly, in 1965, the British invasion came on the scene, my brother's music became passé, and his band was defeated by a Beatles knock-off group of freshmen called "The Shiverin' Bones" (again, don't ask how they came up with that brilliantly uplifting name).

Oops, forgot to tell you what an antique fender is. My bad. An antique fender is a low frame bordering a fireplace to contain falling coals or wood and to discourage people from coming too close to the fire. Also, fenders were used to protect the rug or floor from flying embers or sparks. Here's my favorite 18th c. brass fender:

And there you have it. And to all a good night!