#235: Sami Reiss
Sami Reiss on Live Auctioneers, Long walks, Constance Garnett, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Sami Reiss to share a taste of his taste on Perfectly Imperfect.
Sami Reiss is a writer who’s contributed stories about design, dark fitness, clothing and other areas for publications such as GQ, SSENSE, the Wall St. Journal and ESPN. His legendary newsletter, SNAKE, started in 2014 and has covered clothing, strength training, and esoteric nutrition, but now the focus is mostly on cool and/or undervalued furniture and design auctions. He recently compiled a bunch of these early newsletter posts into a book titled Sheer Drift that’s comprised of the first 100 Snake newsletters, mostly about about vintage clothing— it’s out now on Shining Life Press. Lucky for us, Sami is here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
Sami Reiss (instagram)
I got into fiction late and so when I got around to reading the great Russian novels, recently, I arrived mid-stream into the literary establishment having filtered them through Dick Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, a married couple living in Paris, one of whom doesn’t even understand Russian. P&V translate works together as a pair with supreme fidelity to the original language on a word level. It is cool that this married couple communicates so well, and it’s helpful to have a direct English translation of the sentences Tolstoy, Dostoevsky put down. But the books are unreadable. They’re so jagged and mushy. Constance Garnett’s translations are better. She wrote them back when; she has a light touch, reads Jamesian, and her original suite of mistakes have been papered over in subsequent editions. Man, they’re good. Harder to find but worth looking for. My points are better stated in a Janet Malcolm story on the subject (which is in her book Nobody’s Looking at You) and in a Commentary article by a University of Illinois professor.
🚫🚷 Long walks
I like the neuroplastic/wholesome/health recs in these letters, and I remember this specific advice from an earlier one and am going to echo it. Walking is really it. People love lifting and breaking sweats but frankly walking 8,000 steps a day (10 tbh) is more important for long-term health. By a hair… I won’t make any crazy claims like walking can cure depression. But…. if you eat right, breathe through your nose, get some sleep and sun and have something you want to do every day, and have a couple of bucks to your name and some friends, it might. More realistically, even when things could improve at least you get to go on a nice long walk.
Been listening to a lot of Immolation lately… the nice thing about death metal is even the average bands are really satisfying because they don’t need to hammer the point if they hint at it. Immolation, though, hammer it, and have like nine great full lengths. They’re all very fluid and easy, but not showy. Who can explain great art? Not me. But if I remember right they’re based in New York, and the drummer lives in Cleveland and commutes to practice. Which feels like the key to it all.
🐂 Steve Sarkisian
I remain optimistic about this dipshit and think he should get another year at least.
My trainer (who has Tom Cruise eyes) got me into landmine training this spring, where you drive a barbell, with one end attached to the floor, through space super fast. When the barbell rattles, it sounds nice, it looks like ancient Olympics, and it works your big muscles and your postural muscles (scaps) without involving your spine. It’s probably the best workout after boxing. Only downside is it’s impossible to do at home, but hey. I predict $5 quite a few bourgeois landmine gyms and classes will open all over in five years — would be great, honestly…
The only way to reliably buy furniture, if you ask me. I’m biased (newsletter), but I’ve used it heavily myself. Lots of good stuff, many styles, Italian, new regency, mcm, deco, avant… things go for nothing because 1. nobody really knows anything about furniture and 2. it can sometimes require work to arrange. But if you’re willing to put in 2% time and effort you can get legit excellent old gear (or new I guess) for dirt cheap, two or three price stratospheres below retail, and way below what anything good asks on a curated IG account. Honestly everything just sells to the same dozen set decorators and re-sellers. The catch is the good stuff tends to be centered around LA, NY and Dallas. But even if you live in Seattle this is the only way of buying furniture that doesn’t involve actually lighting money on fire, or compromise.
🍃🏊♂️ Mixed pool at Hampstead Heath (London)
Among the best two or three places in the world, I wound up here by mistake this summer going to Lord’s Cricket Ground (took the long way), but without trunks, so I came back. It’s a pretty cold freshwater pond with trees all around it near the lookout point, and is open spring to fall. There are men’s and ladies’ ponds too, nearby. George Smiley swam laps in one with his head above water at the start of the Tinker Tailor movie; when I went other retirees were doing the same. It’s unreal to step into, much less swim in; you feel like a million bucks or pounds getting out of the water. It’s hard to believe this place exists. It looks like the nice half of that Bosch painting.
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Buy Sheer Drift on Shining Life Press
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