By Ellen Gilbert 

Photos Courtesy of The Toledo Archives

“I have never seen two other people with so close a symbiotic relationship.” – Valerie Steele

They’ve been described as “fashion’s two-for-one couple;”  “creative alter-egos” who enjoy a “poetic partnership.”   What’s love got to do with it?  Everything. Now in their early 50s, Isabel and Ruben Toledo have been in the fashion/art/design business for nearly 30 years, and their work just gets more intriguing: beautifully executed, completely original, and, as a rule, quite unexpected. Their lives—how they look and dress, and the atelier where they live above their studio—seem to intersect seamlessly with their work. more

By Ellen Gilbert 

“A good life is found only where the creative spirit abounds, where people are free to experiment and create new ideas for themselves.” – Aileen Osborn Webb

Referred to as “MAD,” the Museum of Arts and Design is anything but disordered or wildly foolish, nor does it have anything to do with the eponymous magazine. This MAD was founded in 1956 by arts and design champion Aileen Osborn Webb (1892-1979), and from now through February 28, 2015 it is celebrating her achievements in an exhibit, What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision. more

By Ilene Dube

Standing on the rooftop of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, looking out on the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges spanning the East River, we can see water towers, smokestacks and red brick housing below us, and Freedom Tower in the distance. It has been called the best view of New York.

Our tour group—a family from Paris and a young urban farmer wannabe from Queens—is surrounded by an acre of soil in which everything from Swiss chard and hyssop to tomatoes, root veggies and micro greens grows. With beehives and chickens, the two-year-young Brooklyn Grange is the world’s largest rooftop farm, and one of the innovative and creative adaptive re-uses of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The 300-acre site—this year added to the National Register of Historic Places—occupies parts of DUMBO/Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg and Fort Greene. Polytechnic Institute, New York City College of Technology and Pratt University are all nearby. more

By Anne Levin 

Kathy Kowalewski had just stopped breast-feeding her toddler son when she noticed her right breast felt different from her left. With no family history of breast cancer, and at 38 still too young to have begun annual mammograms, the Hunterdon County mother of two wasn’t particularly concerned. But she consulted her doctor, who recommended a screening. On seeing the results, the doctor urged Kowalewski to have a biopsy of both breasts right away.

It was cancer—in her left breast. But the right side looked suspicious, too. Stunned, Kowalewski was referred to a breast surgical oncologist who recommended she have her left breast removed. After recovering from shock and weighing the options, she made the difficult decision to have both breasts removed and undergo reconstructive surgery. more

By Taylor Smith

Peloton Cycle is bringing the boutique indoor cycling experience into the comfort of your own home. For the cost of the bike ($1,995) and a monthly subscription ($39), users are able to stream an unlimited number of live classes to their living room. These classes are filmed and broadcast from Peloton’s New York studio in Chelsea. From the seat of your bike, you will see the instructor, hear the music, and pedal along to the rhythm of your fellow classmates. And don’t worry about timing; you can live stream any of the classes catalogued on the Peloton server (past and present) at anytime of day. more

By Stuart Mitchner 

Joyce Carol Oates had been living in Princeton for 25 years when she published The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art (Ecco 2003), one of two works she named when asked to mention books that were “close to her heart.” The author, who will be teaching her last class at Princeton University in the spring semester of 2015, also cited High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories 1966-2006 (Ecco 2006), which contains “my favorite stories of my own up to that time.”

New work published this month includes Lovely, Dark, Deep (Ecco), a collection of short fiction, and Prison Noir (Akashic), the second book she’s edited, after New Jersey Noir, for Akashic’s Noir Series. The Sacrifice, a novel due early in 2015, is set in a “racially troubled” New Jersey city in the late 1980s; she is also working on a memoir to be published in fall 2015. more

Interview by Stuart Mitchner

Recently asked to name his favorite living novelist by the New York Times Book Review, Larry McMurtry replied, “Joyce Carol Oates…a natural-born writer.” As John Updike once said of her, “If the phrase ‘woman of letters’ existed,” she would be “the person most entitled to it.” The National Book Award-winner, who has been teaching at Princeton University since 1978, will continue to make Princeton her home after her official retirement next summer.

UA: What are your plans after you teach your last class? Will you stay in the area? How would you describe the changes you’ve seen in the college community since you moved to Princeton? more

By Taylor Smith 

Directly north of New York City lies the Hudson River Valley, an incredibly unique place that has inspired generations of artists and creative types. The art and history museums are numerous and could easily occupy a traveler for weeks, but there are also several dozen “can’t miss” Hudson River Estates, many of which are open to the public. Large mansions overlooking the lush, loamy farmland and seductive landscape of the Hudson Valley, these sites were once home to the rich, famous, and downright eccentric. more

By Lynn Adams Smith

Pictured: At the Moulin Rouge: The Clowness Cha-U-Kao, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895

The woman in this portrait was one of Lautrec’s favorite models. She was a dancer, contortionist, and clown, deriving her stage name from the chahut, an acrobatic dance similar to the cancan. Crowds often became chaotic and roared in applause when she performed on stage. Her Japanese-sounding stage name was undoubtedly due to the infl uence of Japonism, the movement inspired by Japanese wood-block prints which was admired by many French Impressionist painters. more

By Linda Arntzenius

It’s been said that individuals only come of age with the demise of their parents. The same might be said of institutions. With the recent death of literary lion Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014) and that of legendary journalist George Plimpton (1927-2003), the institution that is The Paris Review has surely come of age.

Founded in 1952 by Matthiessen and Harold L. Humes along with Donald Hall and Thomas Guinzburg, The Paris Review’s first issue appeared in the spring of 1953, with Plimpton replacing Humes as editor. TIME Magazine has called it “the biggest ‘little magazine’ in history” and who could disagree. more

Interview by Lynn Adams Smith

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman will be retiring from Princeton University in 2015 to join the faculty of the Graduate Center, City University of New York, as professor in the Ph.D. Program in Economics, where he will become a Distinguished Scholar at the Graduate Center’s Luxembourg Income Study Center (LIS). He will continue writing his column and blog for The New York Timesmore

By Ellen Gilbert

* Suggested accompaniment while you read: log on You Tube and play “Autumn In New York–Eddie Higgins

Descriptions of the bittersweet lyrics and music of Vernon Duke’s jazz standard “Autumn in New York” invariably reference the melancholy elegance of this much-recorded song. “There is something so improbably consoling about the sadness at the heart of the best Vernon Duke melodies,” observes writer Barry Singer, who rates “Autumn in New York” as one Duke’s three most enduring songs (“April in Paris”, and “I Can’t Get Started” are the other two). “It’s not that the songs are even inherently unhappy,” he adds. “They inhabit an emotional realm uncommon in the American popular song canon, that of dry-eyed ballads of unusual poignancy. The melancholy induced by these songs, while hauntingly seductive, is never glum.” more

By Ilene Dube // Photography by Scott Lynch

If I had been asked, before visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum, if I was personally affected by the September 11 attacks on our country, I might have answered no. After viewing the eight-acre site honoring the 2,983 people who were killed in the horrific attacks, I would have to say we are all personally affected.

When you enter the glass trapezoidal entry pavilion, you immediately develop a somber mindset. An enormous photograph depicting a peaceful scene of the Brooklyn Bridge and East River at 8:30 that morning gets you thinking about what you were doing when the planes hit. more

By Taylor Smith

At the end of their child’s eighth grade school year, parents are faced with the quandary of where to send their teen to high school. In New York the options are plentiful. Private day school is an attractive option to most since it combines academic rigor with the creature comforts of home. Enrolling as a day student at a local boarding school is also an option. The Millbrook School, Trinity-Pawling School, and the Emma Willard School being three examples. more

By Ellen Gilbert

It’s just a few years since MOOCs (massive open online courses) appeared on the scene. In 2011, Google research director Peter Norvig and computer scientist Sebastian Thrun taught the first MOOC (/mu:k/), a class on artificial intelligence, under the auspices of Stanford University. More than 160,000 students enrolled. Thus was born what Uncharted authors Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel describe as “a revolution in higher education.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Every time the “back to school” theme comes up, I think of The Catcher in the Rye, New York City, and the year I went to McBurney School on 63rd Street off Central Park West. I was 16 when I read Holden Caulfield’s story for the first of many times, not knowing that J.D. Salinger had been at McBurney decades before me and that some of Holden’s school experiences and relationships were drawn from his two years there.  more