Saturday, December 6, 2008

I can't wait to come home to this

Friday, December 5, 2008

Uptown Kids Wear Ksubi Too


This AdBusters article from July--signifying hipsters as "the dead end of Western civilization"--apparently still resonates with The Youth Of Today, because college kids keep writing about it! Like this Smith College student, who entitled her piece "Pop Rocks and Coke,"* which is either an allusion to the explosive fashions at Urban Outfitters or, you know, a reference to cocaine. Because that's what hipsters do! Cocaine and fashion.

Look, I'm not picking on the author, and I agree that it's time for all of us to officially retire the keffiyeh (except for Justin Timberlake, who inexplicably pulls it off really well.) What I am arguing is that condemning "hipsters" and their lifestyle choices is just as big an oversimplification that ignores the subtleties of the culture as, say, wearing a symbol of Palestinian solidarity as a fashion accessory.

Because just what about American Apparel is "hipster" anymore? For that matter, when exactly did riding your bike or eating vegetarian food become as iconographic of "hipster subculture" as PBR and these guys? I went to Misshapes (more than a couple times), and I don't ride a bike or drink PBR especially. Do I still count? Ms. Smith Student says that "trends cycle through hipsterdom like wildfire on acid," which actually doesn't make much sense, but I think I see her point. And I'd like to take it one step further--there are so many facets to "the modern hipster" that there is no such thing as hipster anymore.

Seriously. Maybe at one point, only a select few could pull off the American Apparel hoodie, but at this point it's become so ubiquitous that it doesn't mean anything at all. Sorry, Dov Charney, but your brand lost its "hipness" around the same time you could fake your own Polaroid online. Which isn't a bad thing! But I think, as the advent of artists like M.I.A. and the widespread resurgence of the Converse sneaker show, "hipsterdom" is no longer a subculture. It's a style. And confusing the two undercuts whatever otherwise acute insight you may have into the matter. Nobody can seem to define what a "hipster" is anymore besides what s/he typically wears--but when everyone else is wearing, say, that same pair of leggings from Ubran Outfitters, well, it's safe to say the style has gone past that of a mere subculture, hasn't it?

Even our Smith College author doesn't quite know what a true hipster is. "To clarify, when I say hipster, I don't necessarily mean the 70 percent or so of Smith students who have an affinity for the aforementioned look. I too sport American Apparel. I mean people who truly subscribe to the subculture as a full-on lifestyle," she says, which is the only time in the article she attempts to define "the subculture" any further. But the author doesn't explain what that "full-on lifestyle" entails, and I'd challenge anyone to offer an adequate explanation that doesn't involve reciting the Hipster Bingo board.

What I'm saying is that, yes, I do think we have witnessed the death of hipster subculture. Its oft-derided superficiality has, like most trends, crossed over into the mainstream, and there's nothing left to brandish, either fashionably or ironically. The clothing is the same, but there's nothing uniquely "hip" about American Apparel anymore. To wit: the company is now in the news for exchanging lawsuits instead of style tips.

Or am I still a dirty hipster because I like The Knife?

-Josh

Are All Dads This Universally Dorky?

(Click to enlarge)

The New York Times Hates Non-White, Non-Skinny People

(From a Facebook invite; Click to enlarge)

I'm high but still

LOL



-Jess

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Boyfriend Got Fired

End of an era! Viacom laid off a shit-ton of people today, including (probably) John Norris, he of the awkward weekly TRL appearances and blinding bleached hair and latent homosexuality, except it's not so latent because one time at Darkroom I told him he used to work for my mom (which is true!) and he told me to tell my mother that "she has a cute son" and he looked haggard and angry and a little sad, which is what I'd be too if the company at which I'd worked for over twenty years suddenly fired me.

Here's me drunkenly calling my mom to tell her about the, um, encounter (it was Halloween, and I was a frat boy):


-Josh

My Life Right Now

Sadly:

1) I'm sitting at a table on the fourth floor of Bobst next to my friend who's looking up "Altitude" on Wikipedia while trying to translate A Milli into proper English. One of the choicest phrases: "I'm a young dollars and coins man with a million dollars."

2) I'm debating whether or not to text the hot waiter from the sake bar last night. He kept giving us free shots and was really nice and came outside to smoke a cigarette with me, but he technically gave his number to my friend Eliza, who promptly handed it to me, and we were supposed to text him when we figured out where we were going next so he could meet us after his shift, but then I forgot, and now it just seems a little trashy to be like "Hey sorry I forgot about you last night but you're really hot," which is exactly what I'd say to him obviously.

3) Remember how I just said I don't skip class anymore? Yeah, I did that twice today. I'm even doing it as we speak! But I'm "doing other work" so it's okay.

4) I'm addicted to cappuccinos, because apparently I'm an artsy-fartsy Clinton liberal in Seattle in 1995 who wears Moby glasses and only subscribes to The Onion and picks out the Sunday Styles section from his neighbor's trash can every week. Because the green movement hadn't yet started in 1995.

-Josh

To All My Friends Studying Abroad

Don't come back. Seriously, you do not want to be in New York right now. Nobody has a job or money or hope but all the fucking stores advertise their huge sales anyway and everyone around you seems to be doing fine with their precious internships and blogging jobs and their classes somehow don't interfere with their work schedules and the city keeps getting more expensive and foreboding and it makes you want to move to fucking Nebraska and work at the local gas station because hey, people will always need gas, right?

Trust me, stay in Europe. Things have to be better over there. Plus, they don't speak English, so you won't really understand what your boss is saying besides "fired"--emphatically repeated in your language--but it will still sound pretty and afterward you can stare longingly at the Arc de Triomphe and ponder the irony of it all, downing red wine that costs less than bottled water.

-Josh

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Early Reflection

Right now I'm sitting in an almost-empty classroom waiting for lecture to begin. I'm having Naked juice for the first time, Orange Mango Motion. It's good! Like Jamba in a bottle.

Anyway, I'm gonna still be updating and all that jazz, but since finals are fast approaching, this is probably the last time I'll be able to think about something besides schoolwork for a couple weeks. With that in mind, I want to take a moment and look back on the semester.

Jess and Ashley's absences (and David's, but he was already gone by June) were definitely noticeable. As in, I felt them not being here. In a way, though, it was a good time for them to leave, because this was the semester I finally learned to chill out.

I mean, okay, I still go out sometimes and I still freak out over things I shouldn't, but I do both with much less frequency. I learned not every Thursday has to be thirsty. I learned that waking up at 8:30 in the morning for my job doesn't entirely suck. I learned that writing is a perfectly valid way to spend an evening (or two or three), and my stuff has been read by people I'd never thought would notice me, and it's opened up opportunities like NYULocal that have made it clear to me that yes, it's possible that I will write for a living, and yes, that thrills me.

I still occasionally skip class (oops), but it's never because "I just don't feel like it" or "I'm tired" or "I didn't do the reading anyway." I do do the readings now, and I only don't go if I am genuinely sick or completely overloaded with work/stuff to do/it's hailing outside.

I have come to love being home, in New Jersey. Unfortunately, I don't keep in touch with as many (or, well, any) of my high school friends as I should, or even would like to, but it's nothing against them. I just get home and snuggle up in my bed and watch TV and play on my big keyboard and feel like I'm in my own private rehab, only it's the kind of rehab where there's still plenty of weed and alcohol. Also, I no longer have a car, so I can't really go anywhere.

Most of all, I've come to love this blog. I mean, I always loved it, but I now appreciate it more than I ever have. I thought Jess's (relative) updating scarceness would be a burden but it was proved to be a hidden blessing, because as Millennial and kind of pathetic as this sounds, there is a certain joy that comes with hitting the "Publish Post" button, and the more I experience it the better I feel about the blog.

Also, Gawker's imploding and it's so great to watch the commenters rebel. Did I tell you I used to be a commenter? Yeah, I was, but then someone banned me and never explained why, so I asked Sheila about it and she reinstated my commenter status because, really, what the hell did I do, and even though I never commented again because I got the hint, I still appreciated her kindness, and she was my favorite writer on the site and so nice to (briefly) converse with online and now she's leaving and it sucks but I will definitely buy her book if/when it comes out. Apparently there's going to be a Tumblr and everyone who has ever been associated with Gawker ever is going to be on it, and a lot of the old commenters too. This is new media, everybody.

-Josh

P.S. In case you're wondering, the dry spell continues, droughty as ever. =/

Serena Van Der Woodsen Thinks You're a Slut

This week’s episode of Gossip Girl pissed me off so much that I’m going to... I’m going to blog about it!

Not only were they completely unrealistic about sex this week, they were also unforgivably judgmental. First of all, it is completely out of character for Serena to be waiting to have sex with Aaron. What, does she think he’s “special” or something? More special than say, the guy she killed? (I’m not over how effing good that Yale episode was) This is party girl Serena we’re talking about. She is a phoenix continually rising from the ashes of her sad, overprivileged life, and she does that sparkly rising act by getting artsy boys to like her and then fucking them. Am I supposed to also believe that a guy as p-i-m-p as Aaron would choose to get over his fear of monogamy with a girl who hasn’t even put out? BULL.SHIT. Not to mention Serena’s boobs have been hanging out hardcore in the past few episodes and with a rack like that you know Aaron is getting mad um, nookie or whatever they call it.

Second of all, what was with making Lexi simultaneously appear as a slut and a feminist icon just because she sleeps with guys on the first date? Of course, sleeping with a guy on the first date has to be qualified by some ridiculous political/”feminist” statement because it’s not like you could do so without being a slut, right? Am I supposed to buy that Serena has never slept with a guy on the first date and actively looks down on those who do? Am I supposed to believe it is somehow both impressive and wrong of Lexi to want to fuck Dan the second time she meets him? Hello, the guy’s gorgeous, and if I had the chance I would’ve fucked him during the walking tour of Brooklyn during our first hour of contact! Oh but of course she’s a slut because she doesn’t force him to sit through 3-5 painfully awkward, paid-for by him dinners at chic uptown restaurants before handing him her precious flower. I mean, do girls actually even do that anymore? There’s nothing wrong with a little self-respect or saying no if you don’t feel comfortable. But there is something wrong with a show that totes itself as being sexually explicit (in the teenage sense of the word) looking down on women who do what guys are expected to do on every first date: acknowledge that they want to skip the awkward shit and just fuck. If I wanted that didactic moral superiority I would just call my Grandmother thank you very much and good night.

-Jess

Growin' Up, Headin' Out

I changed our pictures since the ones we had up there were from almost a year ago! I think I still succeed in upholding my image as "Miss Bangs and Eyeliner" though. But today my bangs are up! This is my "I don't want to write another fucking paper on Ernest Hemingway" face.

Tomorrow I am going to Prague for the weekend so I will not be blogging until Sunday night/Monday morning. Josh will continue to easily and wonderfully hold down the fort without me. On that note, I return to the states Dec. 21 to internet 24/7 (I am both looking forward to and dreading this), delivery for drugs/food and MY DOG, who looks like this:He is way cuter than me.

Bon weekend!

-Jess

An Idea

This came to me last night while avoiding continuing the "functions twofolds" and "manifests itself as" in my papers; I was reading my old diaries and realized what an insufferable little prick I was (and still am?). But it brought the LOL's for sure. Since the lit salon failed so miserably, what if we have a new feature where we share excerpts from our high school diaries? Ones that capture perfectly the melodrama, the hilarity, the discomfort? Readers can either email or leave their entries in the comments, and Josh and I can post them along with stuff from our own. Of course, I haven't even talked to Josh about this so haha Josh what do you think of this idea? It will help in our endeavor to take ourselves less seriously! Because what could possibly be less serious than me proclaiming at 16 that "that motherfucker [my father] doesn't support me financially! my job [at Color Me Mine] pays for everything!" (Except food, gas, college tuition...)

Leave a comment: good idea/bad idea/ridiculous idea?

-Jess

"It's about TRUST"

I was going to discuss this week's episode of The Hills, which I officially catch up on every Tuesday or Wednesday in the salon of La Maison while drones around me hack endlessly upon their keyboards trying to conjure up French phrases that can explain why they have only kissed two French boys their entire time in Paris, one of whom could not correctly pronounce the word "kiss" (keeeees!)... but then I read this, and decided I should never again write about The Hills, because everything that could possibly be said was said there, and in a way far more beautiful than The Hills even deserves.

-Jess

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Honest Review of Circus


(I've had some time to think about this.)

It's difficult to consider Britney Spears's music on its own terms. Her life has indeed become a circus, with so many sideshows that observing--or, in this case, listening--to what's supposed to be the main attraction, The Music, is laborious and perhaps misses the point of her celebrity and our fascination with it.

That said, Circus is worth examining for no other reason than that it's her job, her occupational output, the mark she hopes to leave on the world. Much like her recent MTV docu-mercial, however, Britney doesn't reveal all that much on her latest musical effort.

"Womanizer" kicks off the album, and we've all heard it and it reached #1 on the Billboard charts and this is her Big Comeback Single (part deux.) It's catchy enough, and female empowerment always lends itself to anthemic, singalong pop, but the lyrics, even by Brit's standards, are repetitive to the point of sounding more like a lesson drilled into your mind than clever lyrical wordplay. "Womanizer woman womanizer you're a womanizer," the chorus begins, and you can't help but think that she repeats the word so often because she wants to be heard--she's here, she's back, and she will keep on saying so until we pay attention.

And she succeeds--it's a decent album opener. Holding our attention, you might expect the next track, "Circus," to be a revealing pop moment in which she explains to us, the doting listener, what's been going on in her life. Sadly, it's not. "I'm like a performer," she reminds us, as though we might have forgotten that her strip teases and lip-synched concerts were anything but performance "art."

"Out From Under" succeeds in tapping into the eight-grader in all of us--you know, the part of us that wants her to go back to the way she was, a simple, pretty pop singer with a penchant for making memorable videos and ridiculous movies (hard to believe it's the same girl.) If her higher-ups at Zomba Recording LLC are smart, they'll make this the third single, a sweet contrast to the electro-drenched previous two singles (the first two tracks of the album, respectively.)

"Out From Under" also has the distinction of being the only song on the record that sounds at least somewhat organic. (Well, I guess the same could be said of "My Baby," but it's so awkward and out of place on this album that I'm just going to ignore it. I hear "Tiny haaaands" and I skip to the next song.) "Kill the Lights," song number four, brings us back into the blips and beeps and synthetic background voices that made up "Piece of Me" and much of the rest of Blackout. The album delves further into techno-land with "Shattered Glass," which slices, dices, and breaks apart Britney's voice, much like fragments of shattered glass. Get it?

And on and on. Britney retreats behind an army of synth lines and vocoders, though overall there's less of the Britney-as-robot thing as there was on her previous album. "Unusual You" has, at least, a startlingly fresh take on a budding relationship, and "Mmm Papi" isn't especially memorable, but at least she sounds like she's having fun.

The one other track that's really great is "Lace and Leather," thrown towards the end of the album and the record's shortest track. But it's got a great bass line and that always-catchy self-harmonization in the chorus. If by this point you're weary of all the electronics, don't skip over this song. It's even got an awesome-cheesy guitar riff in the bridge.

(Sadly, "Quicksand" didn't make the final cut of the album. I highly recommend finding it online; I have no idea why it's not on this album, since it's one of her strongest songs of the past couple years.)

All in all, Circus is a perfectly decent pop album, with enough catchiness and dance beats to provide the soundtrack for your next party. The problem is that, well, maybe a little introspection would have been nice--and not just the true-to-life-but-not-for-Britney romanticism of, say, "Unusual You." Britney seems to lack the self-awareness that makes a good album great, and even one track in which she acknowledges the latest twists and turns her life has taken would have been welcome and memorable. Circuses don't have to be all flash and pizzazz, you know.

-Josh

Something Dangerously Close to a Love Poem

http://louisgarreladdict.free.fr/photos/portraits/louis_garrel_nicolas_guerin_3.jpg

There is something I have to say and there is no way it can come out without sounding shallow so I will just go ahead and put it out there: French guys are fucking hot. Or, at the very least, French guys are all my type.

They are perpetually disheveled with dark eyes (even if their eyes are blue there is something dark behind them!) and dressed in messy but expensive clothes and they all look like underfed bourgeois brats with the spirit of art glowing around them. They are exasperated. All the time they are exasperated, on the Metro when reading Proust or sitting nonchalantly at a bar sipping tiny cups of coffee, they are exasperated and they look like they need to be taken care of in the best way possible. When they look at your body there is a hunger in their eyes and when they kiss they bite your lip as if to mark you and say “this person is mine, in this place, at this time, I had this person and she belonged to me and she was mine.” They smoke cigarettes, all of them, but they never smell like cigarettes because they always smell like the air in the south of France, and also faintly of alcohol. All of them are artists. Every single one. Even if they work as oil traders or at some stodgy investment firm they have the desire to express themselves artistically and that mostly manifests itself in the form of talking in completely pretentious phrases as if they were some disillusioned character in Igby Goes Down. They understand sadness because they are sad and they understand beauty because they are beautiful and when they move they float.

Suffice to say that if I can bring any piece of important knowledge home from France it is that I should one day marry a French guy and bring our beautiful children up in a bilingual home like those assholes on The Real Housewives of New York and they will eat plump oranges with tough skins on lawn chairs in the sunny backyard of our brownstone that we somehow managed to afford even though their father and I are both pathetically unemployed freelance writers. Perchance to dream! Perhaps divorce hasn’t ruined me after all if I still maintain fantasies such as this one. And even when we (inevitably) get divorced because our weariness makes us foreign strangers to each other we will do so amicably because that’s what enlightened people do and above all the French are enlightened.

-Jess

You Know What Else Blows?

When you're already sick* and you go to your morning class anyway and then right in the middle of lecture one of your pimples pops and you start bleeding and you don't even realize it until you raise your hand to itch your face and when you pull your hand back it's bloody and then you spend the next ten minutes in the bathroom trying to suppress the bleeding and then you come back and the kid next to you gives you dirty looks for coughing so much (like, I'm sorry that I have a cold along with the rest of the city right now) and then the professor asks you a question and you're like "Wha-?" and you still haven't gotten your paycheck.

Fuck it. I was gonna write something about Britney's lack of confidence and how she won't really be back until she builds up her self-esteem again but fuck it, I'm going back to bed.

-Josh

*Yes, I know I'm like sick all the time, but I'm trying to not let it constantly shut me down, which always ends up happening and then I'm just lying in bed watching shit on Hulu for hours on end, hopped up on NyQuil, lukewarm tea, and dry weed. It's about as pathetic as it sounds.

Instead of Writing Those Papers

I interviewed a dominatrix. Check it out.

-Jess

Writing Papers

blows.

I have an 8 pager and a 15 pager due in the next two weeks and all I want to do is be drunk 24/7.

I realized that I tend to use the same phrases and words in all of my papers. Do you guys do that? I bet if you compared my papers from different classes they would all read the same except on different topics. Phrases I overuse include:


1. This functions twofold as...
2. Serves as a vehicle for...
3. Manifests itself as...
4. Furthermore/Therefore
5. Becomes evident
6. This distinct brand of...
7. Serves as a catalyst for...

What phrases do you overuse and can I co-opt them and incorporate them into my work? Thx.

-Jess

Monday, December 1, 2008

"John Sexton" Also Knows Me

I wonder if he knows that he's kind of (in)famous on this blog.

-Josh

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jamaica Kincaid Knows Me

I'm reading a book for class called A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. It's addressed to you, the white tourist visiting her native Antigua, and describes the things you will see and the things you will overlook. On page 15, I swear she was writing directly to me:

From day to day, as you walk down a busy street in the large and modern and prosperous city in which you work and live, dismayed, puzzled (a cliché, but only a cliché can explain you) at how alone you feel in this crowd, how awful it is to go unnoticed, how awful it is go to unloved, even as you are surrounded by more people than you could possibly get to know in a lifetime that lasted for millennia, and then out of the corner of your eye you see someone looking at you and absolute pleasure is written all over that person's face, and then you realise that you are not as revolting a presence as you think you are (for that look just told you so).

Um, thanks, Jamaica. Now you made me get all introspective and stuff.

-Josh