August 20, 2014

Letter from Istanbul: Observations on Style

One warm afternoon this past week, I was strolling through some back streets in a neighborhood near Moda. Here there are cool, atmospheric cafes and shops selling antiques, crafts and other bric-a-brac. 

Inside one of the shops, where I was browsing the sparse collection of second-hand English books, hung a poster of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. In the photo, they are locked in an embrace: Bogie wears a mariner’s hat, and he’s tipping Bacall slightly back; her eyes are closed, her lips wait to be kissed. 

I’ve always been a fan of that particular shot, suffused as it is with all that old Hollywood, smoke-lit glamour. I couldn’t help but feel sentimental, reflecting that the great Bacall passed away this week at the age of 89. She outlived her Bogie by more than half a century. 

With this feeling, and thinking it would look good adorning the bare walls of my flat, I enquired about the poster. 

“Maalesef,” said the old proprietor, shaking his head and smiling a wan apology. That particular item was not for sale. He offered other posters, including one of Sly Stallone, in a menacing Rambo pose, and another one of De Niro as the lonely, mad Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” 

No thanks, I said. 

I complimented the old proprietor on his shop, and nodded once more to the Bogart-Bacall poster on my way out the door. 

“Evet,” he said, glancing in appreciation at the poster. “Çok guzel. Çok şik.”

Read more on Lost Coast Outpost: Letter from Istanbul: Observations on Style

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