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Westchester Chronicles


Not Ready for Our Close-Up

Westchester stars in grainy, homemade YouTube videos.                                 


Text by Marisa LaScala    

Illustration by Monika Melnychuk




YouTube (www.youtube. com) is currently the seventh most popular site on the Internet, with 20 million monthly visitors watching 100 million user-uploaded videos per day. In this little DIY Hollywood, how does our county come across?

Search for videos pertaining to Westchester and you’ll find a random assortment of visual “delights”—partygoers playing charades, teens eating nachos without their hands, boys falling off bikes and hurting themselves on purpose—but is any of it actually worth watching? I sifted through and found this representative sampling of county YouTube videos.




Westchester’s Own Cosmo Girl

Cosmopolitan magazine’s Irvington roots


Text and Photograph by Rob Yasinsac




Traveler’s on Metro-North’s Hudson Line trains might catch a glimpse of a large, white building south of the Irvington train station, but odds are few know the building’s history. From spring to fall, trees usually obscure the view, but come winter, it’s possible to observe the graceful gem that is the Cosmopolitan Magazine Building.

Automobile entrepreneur John Brisben Walker acquired Cosmopolitan in 1889; six years later, he moved the magazine’s offices from New York City to the Hudson River shore in Irvington. (Walker owned a mansion a short distance uphill.) Famed architect Stanford White designed the magazine’s new offices, a three-story Neo-Classical Revival building, topped by three small domes.

Under his guidance as publisher and editor, Walker brought Cosmopolitan from near-extinction to wide popularity. In 1905, he sold the magazine to William Randolph Hearst, who moved the whole operation to Columbus Circle in New York City.

In subsequent years, the Irvington building housed a variety of manufacturing businesses, including Anton Chmela’s General Quartz Laboratories. Chmela’s company, which manufactured millions of quartz crystal oscillators used in radio broadcasting by the United States Government and Army in World War II, moved out in the 1940s. A series of other occupants plied their various trades on the site in the postwar years.

Today, the building is known as the Trent Building, after the family that owns it, and has been divvied up to house several different businesses. While the brick-and-steel building with a stucco façade is largely intact, a plain, unsympathetic addition has unfortunately obscured the building’s east façade. Still, if while  riding on the Metro North, you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Westchester’s own “Cosmo Girl,” you’ll know why she’s still a beauty after all these years.




Trophy Trees


Think you will never see a poem as lovely as a tree? How ’bout a tree as lovely as a BMW? At Mariani Gardens in Armonk, rare trees and shrubs are priced like luxury coupes (albeit with better gas mileage). Bloodgood maple, Camperdown elm, Norway spruce, and American boxwood range in height from five to 42 feet and in price from $5,000 to $35,000. (Price depends on the age, size, and rarity of the trees and shrubs.) 

Unlike their immature, itsy-bitsy cousins sold at typical nurseries, most of the trees sold here are almost full-grown. Eager gardeners with sizeable new homes no longer have to wait decades for newly transplanted trees to reach stately proportions. Of special interest to aspiring lords and ladies of the McManor: a 75-year-old Camperdown elm, Mariani’s oldest tree, which originated from a seedling near Dundee, Scotland. (While it’s just 12 feet tall, it still exudes arboreal class.) The runner-up is the 65-year-old sugar maple, which stands 42 feet tall. Another notable, the 16-foot tall, 27-year-old Pee Gee hydrangea, is pruned to mimic a flowering tree. How much? The proprietors decline to say, but we’re guessing whoever said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” probably didn’t shop here.

Even if $35,000 is a little too rich for your landscaping budget, consider dropping by Mariani Gardens for a visit. The center is home to the Art of the Tree exhibit, a collection of the rarest flowering fruit trees and the largest collection of American boxwood in the world, with specimens circa 1955. Admission and inspiration are free.


            —Kate K. Denoyer




Flirting 101

5 questions for the…sexpert


In honor of Valentine’s Day, we had friends ask a few questions about love and lust of Katonah resident Eve Marx, the author of three how-to-flirt books (Flirtspeak: The Sexy Language of Flirting; Read My Hips: The Sexy Language of Flirtation; Passion; and What’s Your Sexual IQ).


Q: I’m a short, balding guy with a respectable bank account, but I’m not rich. Unfortunately I have a taste for expensive-looking, tall, sexy blondes who actually intimidate me. What’s my opening line?

A: Have you tried this line: “Working on the premise that God does have a sense of humor, might I buy you a drink?” Listen, guy, most statuesque blondes aren’t really intimidating. They just pay their hairdressers a fortune to make them look that way. Besides, a surprising number of amazons actually are turned on by short, balding guys. If you’re losing your hair, you are by definition sexy. Don’t you know that male pattern baldness is closely associated with high levels of testosterone? So get your mind set: confidence will lead you on!


Q: My husband and I are expecting. We’re thrilled but worried that after baby, there’ll be no time for romance. Got advice? (And please, not any of that ‘make time’ business—we’re already exhausted and we haven’t even delivered!)

A: Before baby makes three, perfect the art of The Quickie—it is really an underrated art form. Let’s face it: people with young children don’t have a lot of time or energy. When you’re exhausted, go to bed. A tried-and-true method of sparking desire is to rub two bare bodies together. There will be time later to rekindle romance, but The Quickie will improve your mood and marriage during this phase of life.


Q: I hate the person my college roommate is dating—he’s not that good to her. How can I make her realize that there are better guys out there?

A: To be honest, this is something of a losing battle because, if she really likes him, it’s almost impossible to make her look at anyone else. She’s probably trained herself to turn a blind eye towards his defects, even if all her friends think he’s a creep. Don’t try badmouthing him. Have you heard that expression about killing the messenger? You’re probably wasting your time trying to get her to open her eyes, but it can’t hurt to drag her along with you when you go out looking to meet new guys.


Q: What makes you an expert on love?

A: I’ve been married twenty years and my husband is still grinning, so I must be doing something right!


—Eve Marx



A Model Artist


The view through the two sets of sliding-glass doors in artist Maggie Oland’s Pound Ridge studio is classic northern Westchester: endless woods, a pond, no other houses in sight. Peruse the stacks of paintings that completely cover an old ping-pong table in that studio and it is clear where Oland finds inspiration. “I hike the trails out back every day and take photographs of the views I want to paint,” she says.

But Oland doesn’t limit herself to landscapes; she paints portraits, nudes, flowers, food, abstracts, even pets—having come back to art, her first love, after an interesting detour.

“I always wanted to be an artist,” she says. “It’s in my blood; my mother and sister are artists, too.” And she was working along that path, attending art schools in the Midwest, winning awards, and displaying her work, when, studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, she was “discovered” by photographer Gerald Kudo. “He took some pictures of me, then introduced me to the Wilhelmina Agency in New York.” That began a lucrative 25-year modeling career. She regularly posed for English and French Vogue magazines, once in a famous 1978 five-page spread photographed by Guy Bourdin.

“I was sidetracked by the money,” Oland admits. Today, her paintings of trails, sensual nudes, delicate florals, and Jackson Pollock-like abstracts adorn every room in the house she shares with Peter, her husband of 16 years. But what she loves to paint most, she says, are roses. “To me, roses are very feminine and sexual.”

Oland is currently at work on a collection of paintings of roses. Her work has been shown in a number of galleries in Westchester and Fairfield and currently there is a display of her work at Elan Art and Framing in Bedford Village. Oland, who accepts assignments on commission with prices ranging from $500 to $5,000, can be reached at (914) 764-1225 or maggieoland@optonline.net.


                     Nancy L. Claus



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