Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year of Smells ...

Wishing you 
a New Year 
Full of
New Smells

photo: WindSculpture Lura Astor

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scent Categorization

... we each must figure out how we categorize smells
and even categorize
how our interpretations can fluctuate and be influenced.

- Lura Astor click here

The following is from
the long awaited book
Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent
by Jean-Claude Ellena
Perfumer at Hermès 

"In order to judge perfumes that have outlasted time I use today's nose, whereas for new perfumes I use yesterday's nose. 

And I realize that memory works in such a way that perfumes, which are not experienced with excitement and passion, which are not linked with a personal story or, in our business, with the training of the nose, are devoid of meaning and leave no trace in the memory. I thus conclude that evaluation by categories, by classification, is not enough for me. This perception of perfume is too analytical, too distanced, to move me. In order to discover a perfume, I have to enter into it and grasp it from the inside. Once it is separated from its external apparel, I can appraise, judge and decide.

I also notice that my perception, my understanding, and my judgements of perfumes have evolved with the ideas, the values, the customs, and the tastes of society, and that the mental picture I have of perfumes has constantly altered and become richer. This means that I am constantly reinventing my representation of the past - the past that builds my future creations."

Illustration: Heart of the Matter Lura Astor

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sea Smells See Smells

Breathe deeply, and you remember that smell for the rest of your life, the bold, fecund aroma of the tidal marsh, exquisite and sensual, the smell of the South in heat, a smell like new milk, semen, and spilled wine, all perfumed with seawater.

- Pat Conroy The Prince of Tides

Growing up in New England there was a brisk, wake-you-up, salt-bite to any sea inhale. A coast away in California, the ocean scent is truly Pacific, not as stinging, more lulling.

photo: Ocean Rope Lura Astor

Monday, December 19, 2011

We Smell What We See?

 “They hear what they see.”

Bobby Darin as quoted in Dodd Darin's book, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee by Their Son. Darin advises to always be a sharp dresser as a performer, and addresses his desire to stretch his musical range, not just be seen as Bobby Darin thus Mack the Knife et al.

I have a sense that people smell what they see.
Packaging, adverts, color choices, point of sale, all enter our perception field and affect how we interpret what we smell.

To get into the depths of interpreting smell, we each must figure out how we categorize smells and how our category interpretations can
fluctuate and be influenced.

Petal Fireworks Lura Astor

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Death Matters Exhibit

155,000 persons die each day

Tropenmuseum Amsterdam's exhibit Death Matters
opens 3 November 2011 click here
and addresses how we relate to death throughout the world.

Do we need new rituals?

Online living memorials exist on facebook pages, web sites, wikipedia entries. Quickly receiving visual and audial information across media platforms has changed our perceptions.

Smell and scent play an important part of death rites, memorials, burials and reminiscences of those who have passed.

Spritzing certain scents can bring a person right back in the room.

See Additional Posts
The smell of pine, centuries later click here
and here

Jim Morrison's beautiful poem on connectors/rites click here

Gunther Van Hagens, creator of Body Worlds and the plastination method of preservation has intrigued people around the world. click here

photo: plastinated human body/Body Worlds/San Diego 2009 Patty Mooney

engraving: Calavera Oaxaqueña José Guadalupe Posada circa 1903

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Finn Earl (Anton Yelchin): Who is this?

Ogden C. Osborne (Donald Sutherland): (mild laugh) Ah, that's Creamsicle

Finn: Her name was Creamsicle?

Ogden: Yeah. Yeah, she smelled like a Creamsicle

Finn: Mr. Osborne, Creamsicles don't smell.

Ogden: Smells good doesn't it? 

King of Norway introduced me to her. She had a mole shaped like Cuba.

She and Billie Holliday
got into a cat fight
over me.
The two of 'em used to sing duets.

One in each ear.
Billie Holliday could sure sing.

Creamsicle used to hit the high notes.

Photo: the film Fierce People 2005 Lions Gate
Director: Griffin Dunne
Writer: Dirk Wittenborn

Mae West Went West

Mae never takes showers, preferring tub baths perfume with rose-scented bath salts. She has more than a dozen fluffy negligees and wears a different one every morning for breakfast, which she eats on a pink satin chaise lounge in her boudoir.

She has twenty-seven bottles of perfume on her dressing table, but the one she uses almost exclusively is of sweet pe scent … Her hair-dresser comes to her home every morning to give her a finger wave. Her hair is shampooed weekly. Mae’s fingernails are manicured three times a week and always coated with a vivid red polish. She has massages several times a week.

For the sake of her curves she eats rich, creamy foods – likes chocolate candy too.

She is left-handed, naturally, but hides the fact in public. She can’t ride a horse, but is proud of her ability to ride an elephant. She likes to motor, but cant’ drive a car, and is afraid of ocean and air travel. She is a disciple of Yogi, writes in bed, dictating to a secretary.

She’s a home girl, and oddly her homework is writing.

- Becoming Mae West, Emily Wortis Leider, Farrar Straus Giroux 1997

Photo: She Done Him Wrong Paramount
Packaging Design: Becca Fox

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ahh, burning odor of hydrocarbons

if we don't make it there
our kids or our kids' kids are
gonna make it


To outer space

And it has its unique smells and pockets of smells.

From lunar smells of firecrackers and spent gunpowder, to spaces smelling of sweet sugar or sulfur

Read the fun little article click here

"The final frontier smells a lot like a NASCAR race—a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes and barbecue. The source? Dying stars, mostly. 

We have a few clues as to what space smells like. First of all, there were interviews with astronauts that we were given, when they had been outside and then returned to the space station and were de-suiting and taking off their helmets - they all reported quite particular odours.

For them, what comes across is a smell of fried steak, hot metal and even welding a motorbike, one of them said."

- Steven Pearce Omega Ingredients

photo: Antennae Galaxies NASA/ESA

Thursday, October 13, 2011

distant perfume

In the place where this memory lives is perhaps the key to open all the other places that hold the stored words and stories that slip away. I am thinking this once again, walking down the street, writing in invisible ink.

Will the thought of how to unlock the other words and live the memories for the second time (perhaps on paper this time) disappear into that other world of shadows and distant perfume? My mind seems to remember it but cannot actually smell the aroma. It is like the memory of a scent. Perhaps this memory can transport me to another state. Is that not as real?

- Deborah Winger, from her book Undiscovered

photo: NYC 6th Ave. circa 1940

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Smells of Manliness

15 Manliest Smells in the World 

are listed in
Brett and Kate McKay's
Art of Manliness
23 June 2009

the list delights me with its quaintness

The original Old Spice makes it in
shoe polish

and guess what else? 

click here

photo: Teater Kolibri 18 August 2007 FredrikBorgström

Monday, October 10, 2011

11 October 2011 Brian Pera's Woman's Picture & Andy Tauer's Miriam

See the film
hear the director, Brian Pera
who also is the director/star of The Way I See Things click here


several of the stars


Perfumer Andy Tauer visiting from Zurich, Switzerland

the first of the Tableau de Parfums Miriam

Host: the luminescent Ann Magnuson

Tuesday 11 October 2011
8:00 PM

The Steve Allen Theater at The Center For Inquiry
4773 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90027
call 323.666.4268

For ticket information click here

click here for information on the Tableau de Parfums

What I love about this film and Brian's directing is time and space change until you sit, not sit like in a chair, more sit as in yoga or a meditation or at a picnic; sit with yourself, to dawning recognitions blooming within the film.

Painting: Nana Edouard Manet 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Smell of Rain

Inspector Barnaby:  This cloth, where'd it come from?

Tailor: Ah, that's a lovely 18 ounce tweed, hand woven in Scotland before the war.

Barnaby: I swear my father had a suit in this material.

Tailor: I wouldn't be surprised.

Barnaby: I can remember how it smelled when he'd been out in the rain.

photo: Midsomer Murders The Made-to-Measure Murders May 2010

Friday, October 7, 2011

Scent Bar 7 October 2011 Andy Tauer/Brian Pera - Los Angeles

Lucky Scent
lucky again
Perfumer Andy Tauer visits from Zurich, Switzerland
Director Brian Pera in town from Tennessee

Scent Bar
8327 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Champagne Reception

showcasing the first scent created for

Tableau de Parfums click here
an ongoing film series by Brian Pera
creator of A Woman's Picture
click here
showing in Los Angeles
Tuesday 11 October 2011
Steve Allen Theater

photo: Lucky Hand lastor 17 April 2010

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Expect everything else to become like perfume ...

Perhaps our sense of this,
the sense of belonging to a world held together by networks of ephemeral confidences
(such as philosophies and stock markets)
rather than permanent certainties,
predisposes us to embrace the pleasures of our most primitive and unlangued sense.

Being mystified doesn't frighten us as much as it used to. 

And the point for me is not to expect perfumery to take its place in some nice, reliable, rational world order, but to expect everything else to become like perfume.

- Brian Eno 1992 Details Magazine

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Treasure Hunt - kiss in a bottle

 Original Inspiration

 Add Interpretation

Amazing what black and white film and a soundtrack can do? Or, is it something in the air!
Spritz, Spritz
kiss in a bottle

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marula Amarula

2009 Couldn't resist a bottle on an end-aisle ... having read Lyall Watson's writing on the plant - what would it taste like?  

Amarula a cream liqueur with an elephant with tusks on the label: this natural liqueur is produced from the unique fruit of the marula tree and fresh cream; product of South Africa.

I find it has a slight citrusy tang and creamy vanilla blend.

In an article perfumer Vedat Ozan sent to me at the end of 2009 on Upcoming Flavors
marula is listed ...

click here and scroll down  see animals enjoy the fermented fruit


Was the BBC documentary of animals getting "high" once a year with the marula tree's fermented fruit monkied with?
I have no idea other than Amarula didn't have that effect on me ... for better or worse 

photo: Marula tree and fruit, Transvaal, South Africa by Rotational

Sunday, October 2, 2011


All but the anosmic,
those who have lost the sense of smell through injury, disease, or inheritance,
have experienced the instant recognition
of a past incident flashing
through the brain during one inhale.

-Lura Astor

photo: Thunder above Madeira Waters Don Amaro

Saturday, October 1, 2011

beauty het-erotic strings gluons

At the fundamental level Nature
for whatever reason
prefers beauty

- physicist David Gross

director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at UCSB
University of California Santa Barbara

heterotic strings - bosonic string and superstring heterosis hybrid vigour

Knit that model! click here
for Knit Chaos and Chaos fragrance

Photo: Tree Trunk Mystery Lura Astor

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time in a Bottle

If I could save time in a bottle

The first thing that I'd like to do

Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away

Just to spend them with you

- Jim Croce
Time in a Bottle

sung to the same song ...
If I could have sex in a bottle

our marketing leads to the same thing of course
promises, promises, promises

Arpege taglines:
promise her anything ... but give her Arpege


No bottles to break – just hearts!

Illustration: Perfume Bridge Lura Astor

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Star Date September 2011
somewhere known as California the Golden State

Mid-sleep, the sense of smelling ambergris

message from the whales
a nice feeling
I layer it with fragrance when I awake

Check out Scentual Antiquities ambergris click here 

painting of Sperm Whale Scarred Giant by Chris Harman

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

olfactory diagnosis may become mainstream

Say ahhhhhh
let's smell your breath,
your skin, your eliminations, your toes

Healers, midwives, medical professionals
have long documented the use of smell in pre-diagnosis

Why Ida Meister, working in the fields of oncology and neuroscience, loves her amygdala click here

I've heard doctors speak of smelling ketones on the breath of diabetics ...

"... early stages of basal-cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, can be detected by analysing the odour of a person’s skin using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry ....

Dr. Buszewski is now tweaking his device so that it works with the bio-marker profiles of a range of diseases.

If he can do this successfully, olfactory diagnosis could become mainstream without a wagging tail in sight."

read here - Olfactory Diagnostics: Smelling Bad
   The Economist 28 August 2008   click here

photo: Greenman Lura Astor

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sniffer Rats and Tuberculosis Detection

More on sniffer hero rats-
this time detecting tuberculosis
a disease still with us

Only 50% of the patients with TB are diagnosed. 
Left untreated, a person with active TB can infect 10-15 new people each year.

sniffer rats sniffing landmines click here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

scent bomb bombykol

Scent bombykol
is the sex pheromone
secreted by female silkworm moths
when sexually available
and it gets the male silkworms
doing the flutter dance

"It is smell, therefore, that guides the Moths, that gives them information at a distance".

click here for a great article and pictures

photo: bombyx mandarina Reanimator86

Friday, September 23, 2011

chili smoke singe

smell of autumnal
roadside chile roasters
spinning smoked scent
singes nostrils and memory

When in New Mexico, thinking
"a chile is a chile"
is just  ha ha ha ha ha ha

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

photo: Yellow Leaves Lura Astor 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

botanical poisoners

Dr. Anderson    We drank, and Price just fell to the floor.

Bergerac     What made you think it was, uh, poison?

Dr. Anderson    Well that’s the funny thing … the smell  

Coroner Dr. Rodgers    What we have here is common old garden poisoning … in this case we have an intelligent adult, a respected financier, a pillar of society here on Jersey, dying from the poison … hemlock …. Grows in marshes and ditches. Looks like sickly cow parsley.

Dr. Anderson     The effect of hemlock is instantaneous. It must have been administered by someone at the ceremony.

Dr. Rodgers     It must be 150 years since someone was last murdered with hemlock. Jersey has its very own Lucretia Borgia!

-from Bergerac/Poison February 1987 

Don't just put it in your mouth - some plants look alike but one is poison. 
- Advice from the 1970's, learning to harvest free plant edibles growing wild in cities and countrysides.

Remember recipes from Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons ... cattail pollen flour and more?


Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins
through 30 October 2011
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers


The dose makes the poison -Paracelsus

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The color alone seemed a form of wealth.

The landscape was gentle, and the deep green grass made me feel mellower:

to have seen this was to have discovered a part of this poor country in which people lived in contentment, with space and a mild climate.

- Paul Theroux The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas 1979

photo: Big Sun Lura Astor

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ahhh the smell of sulfur - thus all the fart jokes in the world?

I prefer matches, thank you.I love the smell of sulfur.

- from The Two Jakes 1990 Paramount Pictures, Richard Farnsworth, Jack Nicholson

Check Out

and down the hall they complain

more on sulfur      vi-eggra? men get sulfur?

Stewart Matthew collaborates with renowned fragrance designer Christophe Laudamiel and composers Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurdsson

huffers, volcanic ash, the smell of aliphatic hydrocarbons

steam locomotives and beautiful perfume 

green aria      includes podcast

Friday, September 9, 2011

Niki de Saint Phalle - DC

Niki de Saint Phalle's larger-than-life sculptures are now in Washington DC; to date, the only major outdoor sculpture corridor in our nation’s capital by a woman. Through October 2011 on New York Avenue NW, between 12th &13th
click here 

Known for her sense of color and playfulness, Niki de Saint Phalle died in 2002 but her work lives on in her famous sculptures, whimsical gardens and grottos throughout the world, and in her perfumes in sculpted bottles. 

Her Tarot Garden in Tuscany, Italy Il Giardino dei Tarrochi click here

FREE EVENT  Those in Washington DC on Saturday 10 September 2011 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts for all ages 11AM-5PM. Materials are provided to create Niki-inspired works click here 


photos:  Niki de Saint Skull
Niki de Saint Phalle's Queen Califia Patty Mooney

Thursday, September 8, 2011

bear this in nose

A  bear's nose picks up 100 times our scent.

There is a documentary on the negotiation of space between animals and humans, especially in regard to housing developments and land useage. Park rangers state that it is easier to train one bear than 1,000 humans.

I've spoken to people who smelled the strong smell of bear in the outback, but have never smelled it myself. Meanwhile, in summer heat bears come down to soak in Los Angeles foothill jacuzzis.

photo: Wildpark Bad Mergentheim

Thursday, September 1, 2011

hanging around to be smelled


I smelled her

awake from a dream with this phrase,
love the play on the verb, for smelled
moves in both directions
he smelled her, his nose going into the skin, and,
the smell came in from a distance, to be smelled.

Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto adds scents of spices
within his suspended, sculpted shapes.
His installations fill space and invite interaction as
viewers are sniffers as well as touchers.

at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome click here and here

at the Armory New York City click here and here for slides

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lavender Water by the Bucket

Det. Supt. Foyle: You left the room?

Mr. Ellis : It was too dark.

Foyle: Well, I know somebody did because um Fleming ah said he heard the door open before the shots were fired.

Guy Spencer: That was Rosemary Harwood.
Foyle: How'd you know that?

Guy: I was just outside.

Foyle: Erah, how did you know it was her if you couldn't see her, because it was, it was too dark to see anything?

Guy: I smelled her. She um, she wears lavender water, errr,

I'd say she wears it by the bucket. It was definitely her.

- from Foyle's War, The White Feather
photos: Molinard  Lavande Extrait Double Lura Astor