I think one of the best features that the New York Times ever put together was series entitled “1 in 8 Million.” I’m not sure what happened to it. Like a lot of media, the NYT often suffers from a certain tone-deafness when it comes to portraying life in New York. This series, though, was so on mark and did a wonderful job in presenting all the diversity of the city.
My favorite story was the one about May Wong Lee and her daughter, Mebrat. Mebrat is her fourth child and was adopted from Ethiopia. It is such a sweet story, and unlike the usual suspect stories of success and excess, truly embodies all the possibilities in living in a city like New York.
Diversity and possibility. I remarked to a friend the other day that I honestly think that New York is one of the most segregated cities in America. Ironic given the fact that most people associate New York with diversity. I am certain that I am plagiarizing this phrase from some writer, but New York is not so much a melting pot as it is some kind of experimental gumbo. No mix but more or less a congealing into separate lumps. Of course, discretionary income will always draw thicker lines than race in a city so obsessed with status. The ugly fact is then that that most ignore is that income and race are tightly interlocked. Not that many folks of color rocking the latest A.Wangs and PS1 bags and working at Conde Nast in this economy. (And if they are…then they’re living at home with 18 relatives - trust.) All I’m saying is, my first thought in a nicer restaurant in Kansas City, watching folks of all color enjoying themselves, my thought shouldn’t be - “Wow, I wish New York were more like this.”
Once, when I was in college, I pulled out my laptop in the library to study with my friend Z. We were both Art History majors, and our lives consisted of nightly, redbull-aided study sessions in which we would attempt to memorize 300 slides of faceless Greek nudes during finals week. When I pulled out my large, clunky HP laptop, Z commented that she was surprised that I didn’t have a Macbook. “You just seem like such a Mac person,” she said glibly.
Apple as a company has taught me many things in life; about design, about capitalism, about luxury branding - but perhaps the most useful thing it’s ever done for the world is to make it easy to immediately identify on an expensive college campus exactly which students are on financial aid. (Try it. Go into any campus and identify the one kid with a Gateway. Bingo! The only time the system fails is when the students in question are Korean, in which case they have sleek little Fujitsus that can remote control your brain.) So ingrained are Macs in our cultural consciousness that you can lock yourself up in an ivory tower and read 18 volumes of Marx, rail against the shackles the of market economies and eat a diet of nothing but spa-grown quinoa and still not be immune to the assumptions of who is ‘Mac’ and who is a ‘PC’; namely the cooler, more artistic, more creative person versus the lamer, square one. Amazing that Jobs was able to make the most unsexy thing ever - a computer - into one of the most important sociological litmus tests of the 21st century.
Apple as a company embodies the best and worst of capitalism; its existence in many ways can be an integrative, 360 degree parable of everything simultaneously wrong and wonderful with the system that we’ve now wrestled the world into living in. This is a fairy tale that Marx himself could not write: the story of how one flies to China with a requisite slew of requested iProducts, purchased at a premium in another country, to return to the country of its origin at a higher premium. Steve Jobs was a genius, a man who changed the way the world thinks, sees, and interacts with technology. But his vision did not expand past the hard, gray wall of capital demands. He had a choice to choose ethical production; he did not. He had a choice to slow down the product cycle, to make Apple products recyclable, fixable, last beyond a shelf life of 12 months; he did not. Any death at 56 is a tragedy, but his life was not worth more than the workers at Foxconn, nor is it worth more than any of the other lives that will be sacrificed in the future for our increasingly scarce and polluted world, buckling under the constraints of traditional market systems. The biggest tragedy of Steve Jobs’ death is the fact that we never had a chance to see whether his extraordinary vision, drive, and unique leadership of the company would ever be applied outside of making people want his products. His potential for innovation was limitless, but we never had a chance to see the true expansion of his vision; one wonders if, regardless of his passing, whether that day would have ever come.
must hold some kind of nightly Santeria ritual that allows Alex’s spirit to possess her or something. Or, there’s also the small possibility that she is just *that* talented, in which case I’m extremely jealous.
There might be some feminist lesson in this whole situation about how we always tend to glorify male designers while female heros in fashion are relatively unsung. Hear me out. While fashion is seen as a female realm, few people view women as a creative, rather than a consumptive, force in fashion. Change is good.
There’s nothing like an upcoming move that really forces you to re-evaluate your relationship with STUFF.
Stuff. We haz a lot of it. (Too much of it -and it’s making us spiritually bankrupt, lazy, miserable, destroying the environment, causing political and economic destabilization, wear jeggings and be okay with it blahblahblah…)
Sure, I have excuses. For one, I am an incorrigible lover of chintz and kitsch. I find it impossible to walk by a thrift store and not come out with a random depression-glass cup thingy that I found for $2. In my mind, I’m convinced that it’ll look perfect on the fantasy shelf of the fantasy antique bookcase in my fantasy brownstone. In the meantime it just gets shoved in the random shit closet in my bedroom, all but forgotten until I have to pack up and move.
The size of my closet, which is my area of big offense, is most likely inexcusable. My biggest and perhaps a slightly legitimate excuse is that my sheer amount of clothing is partially attributed to the fact that I have stayed the same size since I hit 14, despite my lofty aspirations of being 5’10 and growing breasts. Obviously neither of those desires came to fruition. Which leaves me with some great flares from the 2000-era MUDD (remember those?) and a really slutty knockoff Pucci halter top from H&M 2001 in my closet. (I did get rid of a lot of Abercrombie though, because that shit is just embarrassing.)
Stuff. How did I get so much of it?
I’m trying right now to determine whether or not there is any feasible way for me to get rid of 98% of the clothing I own and become a fashion ascetic. Like, you’ll open my closet and find exactly 3 pairs of pants, 3 skirts, 3 shirts, and 3 dresses. Everything will be either from the Row or Celine. Everything in black, white or nude. I’ll have one pair of jeans from Rag and Bone, and allow myself a rotation of 3 tank tops for the summer, just to mix it up.
(Would set everything I have ever purchased on a sacrificial pyre for any combination of the five items above.)
Would that really be so far fetched? After all, isn’t that the way people used to dress - invest in just a few very, very special things that they would just wear for years?
By the way, shoes don’t count. Because that would just be cruel
i feel like people give italian vogue or french vogue a lot of lip service - but vogue nippon gets little credit for how consistently they kill it with their shoots. with anna della russo as a creative force - how could they not?