#145: Nate Freeman (Vanity Fair)
Nate Freeman drops in to tell us about His Prada Briefcase, Uniqlo Dress Shirts, His Odeon Order, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Nate Freeman to share some recommendations on Perfectly Imperfect.
Nate Freeman is the Art Columnist for Vanity Fair, where he writes a weekly column called “True Colors” that drops every Friday and contributes stories to the magazine. Recently he’s written about the collision of Trump supporters and arts patrons in Palm Beach, the growing power of billionaire luxury-market tycoons at Art Basel Miami Beach, and the global manhunt for an artist wanted by the FBI for selling forged Raymond Pettibon paintings. He’s also a co-host of Nota Bene, a podcast where he and Benjamin Godsill chat about art world gossip, where to eat in Europe’s great art cities, and more. Nate has great taste and lucky for us, he’s here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
My wife Lucy got me a Prada briefcase last September as a present, not for any occasion really. Come to think of it, she was increasingly not down with me carrying my laptop and notebooks in this broken and apparently unfixable Samsonite bag that belonged to my grandfather. The bag had a yellowed card in a tag indicating that, if found, please send to the concierge at the Carlyle. I replaced it with the Prada: elegant but understated, an ideal size and weight, just the thing to break out if you feel like going to work in an office.
Last month I had lunch with my editor at The Odeon, a few blocks from Conde Nast headquarters. New Yorker editor in chief David Remick was there taking out a writer, as was Will Welch, editor in chief of GQ. Not sure what they got, but our Vanity Fair contingent got Diet Cokes and the Baby Kale Caesar, add chicken. Solid order. The Odeon is a two-times-a-week place for me, but it’s not exactly a grand stop on the global foodie tour. You go to The Odeon to gossip about the other people at The Odeon. Which, I mean, guilty.
I was walking to Chris Sharp’s fantastic Mexico City gallery Lulu in April 2021 when I came across a bar wall-to-wall devoted to the series Gossip Girl, which ran on the CW from 2007 to 2012. This was surprising, to say the least. Here, in the suburban sprawl south of Roma, all of a sudden there’s an obsessive shrine to a show that has nothing whatsoever to do with Mexico City, an otherwise unremarkable watering hole inexplicably plastered with images of Blair, Serena, Nate, Chuck and Dan. “YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME XOXO” is written on the walls and the mirrors. On Gossip Girl, Lily van der Woodsen has hanging in her apartment an Elmgreen & Dragset work related to their installation Prada Marfa—lo and behold, this insane CDMX establishment has a copy of that exact work hanging framed on the wall. The whole thing had me convinced I was having some kind of a psychotic episode, especially after no one believed me when I told them about it later on during Friday lunch at Contramar. But actually the place has a pretty legit Instagram presence, so I guess it’s real. It’s called Serenna, spelled like that. Just incredible.
It’s this upstate chain of convenience stores, and I go on the way up to the house in Kingston, and the way down back to the city, and sometimes just because I drive by. My wife swears by the Stewart’s-branded ice cream, and we stock our fridge full of Stewart’s branded seltzers—and colas, and juices, and Arnold Palmers—in all flavors. Shit you not, the hot dogs are legit. And they carry this Saratoga beef jerky that is truly called Damn Good Jerky, and it is incredibly good if you pick the “Hot & Spicy” variety. Stewart’s makes its own jerky too, but I haven’t tried it.
I kinda like a bar where they push a particular martini on you. At Dukes, Alessandro finishes it with a twist, and staunch gibson guys play along because Alessando said so, and because the lemons are from the Amalfi coast. At the Grill, the martinis are pre-batched—quite the scandal, until it arrives and, well, it’s an extremely cold and big pre-batched martini. At Raoul’s, Franko always says to get it with Plymouth, always stirred, and he also has a great story about trying to outrun a guy trying to break into his apartment in the East Village in the 80s, definitely ask Franko about that. But I somewhat recently found out that the best martini is Monkey 47, dry, up with olives.
It’s not a club, it’s a gallery, an ever-surprising life-affirming gallery in a tiny apartment in Chinatown run by Tony Cox, the artist and former professional skateboarder. I can’t tell you the address or the apartment number, but ask around.
Cheap, fine, always the same, you can buy them in all the world’s great cities and nothing makes you feel better than putting on a fresh shirt.
The White Stripes aren’t like my favorite band, not by a longshot, but Meg White is certainly the best drummer in the history of rock and roll. Pushing tempo as keeping tempo, genius. She was always so, so much cooler than Jack, now more than ever, given the fact that she’s essentially disappeared off the face of the earth and Jack is selling vinyl in Nashville or whatever it is he does.
My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was living in Marina del Rey when I was in high school, and when I stayed with him we’d wake up and walk the few blocks down Pacific to Washington to grab the paper and a coffee. Across from the Cow’s End Cafe was an intriguing looking tan building hosting a bar that had its name spelled across the top in a bambooed-out font. When I was visiting from college, I finally ventured into Hinano Cafe, and found what’s certainly the best bar in Venice, maybe in the world. The mugs and pitchers are frozen cold, the Pacifico never runs out and the popcorn’s free. The best part of Hinano is the cheeseburger, still just $7.50, smothered in Tapatio and accompanied by a handful of whole fresh hot peppers and a gratis bag of chips, dealer’s choice. It’s my last stop before heading to LAX, to go home.
Check out his stuff on Vanity Fair
Perfectly Imperfect is a free newsletter featuring curated recommendations from real people. Subscribe for posts like these in your inbox twice a week.
Follow Perfectly Imperfect on Instagram
Join the Perfectly Imperfect Discord