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New York Times Magazine - Burn Baby Burn

article_web.jpg  The Samurai Shopper, though steeped in effable ancient wisdom, sometimes falls asleep at the wheel.  (The invention of the wheel? Totally missed that.) I wasn’t around when Paleolithic mamas and papas created stunning polychromatic paintings in Altamira caves. But I’d bet the farm that those Stone Agers burned mossy wicks in animal fat to light their way into prehistoric rock stardom. Since then, civilization has spent more time bathed in the haze of candlelight than not.    Where would religion be without candles? Or death? Or birthdays? How would pale heroines in disarray wend their way through creepy castle corridors and into the waiting teeth of tuxedoed vampires?  More important, where would I be without great lighting to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative? Candlelight is elemental Botox, dissolving ceiling cracks and smoothing out lumpy walls… so why not facial lines and other telltale signs of fading youth? In the theater of domesticity, your home is a stage and you are the star, and the stars always look ethereal and marmoreal in strategic twinkles. Ready for my close-ups, Mr. DeMille?  Just work that wick.     You could of course consider installing recessed lighting, but major renovations are considered in my house only when dentistry is involved. Plaster, dust, carnage and high expense seem extreme when $80 candles can allay violence of sunlight and distance your face from chronological age. Sadly, there’s no one-stop candle shop in New York.  Candle Delirium boast a zillion designer candles under one roof.  Here, we have to trawl upscale and downtown. But some candles are worth it. Hard times call for soft lighting and exotic scents, not Glad and nasty plug-ins. Remember, a house is not a home--or a Home Depot either.    If you live Samurai Shopper-style, in decor best described as gonzo eclectic, then you’re at home where everything hangs together with staple guns, thumbtacks and vintage textiles. But even the gonzo eclectics have rules: No strawberry-scented cup cake candles; nothing that looks or smell like hot fudge.  Underwear, or fresh paint and bug spray.  It’s shocking how many candles out there repel more than insects. Girlie scents belong on the nape of the neck, not the living room, where they’d seriously compromise the gremolata sizzling in the osso buco pot and cancel out the aromatic 2005 pinot noir now decanting in a tower.    When I am in disco inferno mode, Malin + Goetz’s groovy frosted-glass candles add fuel to my fire.  Made with 16 percent eau de toilette, its Mojito, Dark rum and Cannabis are legal and addictive in a good way.

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