Monday, October 29, 2012

Hematology Malignancies and Hurricane Maelstroms

I spent this past weekend working in Midtown Manhattan, offering some begrudging and lackluster support to a smaller pharmaceutical client as they maneuvered through the mire of viable clinical development and commercialization strategies to expand their lymphoid and leukemia portfolio. Bizarre, these types of projects, so invested in the flow of blood, yet so removed. For me, this meant furiously editing and creating some presentations, and then feigning interest in conversations about children at a nearby steakhouse restaurant. Living less than an hour from one of the greatest cities on the planet, I frequently spend my weekends gallivanting through her streets, meandering through restaurants and bars and museums and galleries with a crew of friends, or just holed up in an apartment stocked with wine and cocktails of some variety. Brooklyn is almost as familiar to me as some of my oldest friends. Rarely, if ever, though, do I venture into Midtown, a mecca of tourism and commercial consumption, fleets of visitors paying homage to the four-floor stores, flooded with massively produced merchandise, eager to lay their wallets prostrate, arms open to receive paper bags of stuff.

My clients, colleagues, and I stayed at the New York Palace Hotel, on Madison. It was the busiest hotel I believe I have ever visited, the lobby a perpetual bustle of pilgrims, their wares, speaking various tongues, some from Eastern Europe, others simple American English tinged with accents from the South and the Midwest. Every time I swept through the ground floor, there was a deluge of people, old and young, almost a microcosm of the city itself, constantly busy, living, breathing. The kinetic energy is almost dizzying here, suffocating, a sort of claustrophobia, for me, induced by the towers of steel, the sheer height and volume of the neighborhood. The mass. It is massive, stacks of buildings, each containing stacks of people and objects.

With imminent arrival of a purported storm of the century, being in this type of environment was almost surreal. The entire transit system was suspended, flights were being canceled from all the airports, the streets were stymied with the flow of taxi cabs and rented cars, all desperately trying to disperse, seek refuge elsewhere from the violence and destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Years ago, hurricanes were named only after women, a not completely unwarranted personification of their nature, unpredictable, tempestuous, strangely beautiful and alluring. My train home no longer a viable option, I stood with my luggage just before the revolving doors of the hotel, amidst the frenetic stream in and out, the air ripe with adrenaline, perfumes of panic encouraged by the media and greater mob, a calm, waiting for her judgment. 

(image taken from Art Deco Architecture)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Fantasy

(image taken from Wikia)

(image taken from Tumblr)

(image taken from 1x57)

This evening, some of my good friends from university, who all live together in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are hosting an old-fashioned Monster Mash Halloween Bash, featuring a bobbing for apples competition, a costume parade, some pumpkin festivities, and some adult libations. As I was scouring my brain for costume ideas, I realized it has been three years since I have dressed up. It seems that dull professional responsibilities, and then a horrible sickness last year, have ruined any ghoulish celebrations. 

All due to the creative thinking of the filmmaker, I have a mostly clever costume, a sort of pun, which hopefully elicits a few chuckles, and which, more importantly, requires no purchasing of additional accessories. After a decadent vacation, this was key. Though I am pleased with the relative ease of this look, stylistically, I have always wanted to dress as Vicki Vale for Halloween, and essentially steal all my inspiration from the Kim Basinger interpretation from the original Tim Burton Batman. Since I was a little girl, I was in awe of her flowing flaxen hair, her full lips, and her incredible classic styling, through a sort of vivacious 1980s lens. She was such a sophisticated but adventurous character, and her clothing reflected that juxtaposition of feminine vulnerability and risk. While it would certainly be simple for me to pull together a sleek black monochrome look, a loosely tailored jacket with a wool beret, my brunette locks would betray me, and I have never been one for wigs. I may just borrow aesthetics from this character in a more subtle manner; I am seeing a long, slicked back severe ponytail and large masculine tortoise shell frames in my future, with blood red lips naturally.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oxygenated Blood

I understand that the occasionally irrepressible science snob is not generally becoming, but, still, I cannot help to laugh and scoff at the fact that fashion publications must define and qualify the omnipresent tone of the autumn season, oxblood, explaining that it is in fact derived from oxygenated blood, rather than the blood from oxen. One day, hopefully, scientific literacy will be on trend.

(image taken from The Sunny Side of Gray)

The Refined and the Rough

(image taken from AOL Shopping)

(image taken from Forever 21)

Obviously, I peruse my fair share of style magazines and blogs, assimilating and imbibing a diverse array of fashion editorials, from typical mainstream trends to more extreme fashion as artistic medium; after all, I spend much of my waking life in a cubicle, before a computer, and time must be wasted somehow. Collecting rejection letters from various literary publications is a great procrastination method, and an arguably more productive one, but fashion fascinations tend to leave my intellectual self-esteem unscathed, and, in fact, occasionally well massaged. Today, having not too long ago returned from a fantastic autumn wedding in South Africa (at least, according to the calendar year; seasonally, it is the transition from spring to summer in the southern hemisphere), I was intrigued by a post on Refinery29, offering timely sage sartorial advice for any fall wedding dress code. Some of the insights were, indeed, fitting, though a bit obvious; florals for a brunch wedding, in the appropriate hues, are generally a sure bet, provided a busy pattern flatters the figure in question. 

I have learned to read any type of new information, or writing, for that matter, with a discerning and critical eye, no matter how superficial the content. Wedding dress codes are about as frivolous as it gets, but ceasing critical analysis is still not excusable. As a proposition for a traditional black-tie event, the author recommended sparing no expense, at least when it comes to the dress, highlighting an elegant and faceted Erdem lace gown, which will set any account back a few thousand dollars. Absolutely beyond my personal spending range, I nonetheless wholeheartedly agreed with her selection; truly stunning. My confusion and frustration were incited when I glanced at the next item, her suggested accessory for this gorgeous and ostentatious dress: a cheap rhinestone necklace from Forever 21. 

Now, anyone who personally knows me, understands intimately that I, ostensibly, have no problem with donning cheap rhinestones, usually the more, the merrier. Slather them on me in layers. I collect vintage costume jewelry, and my section of rhinestone abounds. I also, honestly, respect when publications, both print and online, present innovative and evocative and fun styles that represent a range of price points, essentially democratizing the industry and not purely relying on packaged, stock looks stolen from the runway. Still, when a multi-thousand dollar dress is paired with a beyond budget necklace, one that indeed detracts rather than complements, the effort seems forced at best, and condescending at worst. Perhaps my sense of pragmatic realism is too potent, but the woman who buys this Erdem gown is not going to be seduced by the plastic glint of the Forever 21 baubles. The entire thrust of this editorial was practical insights, solutions really to deciphering sometimes ambiguous wedding dress codes with sophistication and class, in a way that melds with the wedding aesthetic and personality. I would have felt more inspired, and would have trusted the perspective and guidance from the author, if more attention had been paid to the staple of the look, the dress. For me, showcasing two different looks, a sort of high-end approach and a budget-friendly approach, which could still avoid the massive wares of crap of Forever 21, would have been more engaging and more useful to the reader.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Manorial Shooting Styles and Gosford Park

(image taken from So Hollywood Chic)

(image taken from Dee Crow Seer)

(image taken from Pop Matters)

(image taken from Movie Actors)

(image taken from Tripod)

Since the start of autumn, I have been flung into the tumultuous throes of dramatic Downton Abbey, returning to television with its third season rife with accolades and ripe with intense anticipation. So far, I have not been disappointed; each episode airs on Sunday evening over in Britain, and I illegally indulge each Monday evening. On my recent epic and uncomfortable flight to Johannesburg, I decided to further nourish my current obsession with the bygone aesthetics of early twentieth-century English nobility and watched Gosford Park. I had first seen the film with my mother when it was released about a decade ago, in an old Baltimore paragon, the Senator Theater. During the passing of time, I had forgotten the vast majority of the plot details, the intricacies of the characters' relationships, which was perfect, since it is a witty, meta-mystery involving murder and betrayal. Despite my cramped legs and my indigestion from revolting preservative-rich food-product, I enjoyed returning to the story, and especially to the beautiful style of Lady Sylvia McCordle, played by the exquisite Kristin Scott Thomas. 

Set on a grand and antiquated estate in a remote part of the English countryside, just before the precipice of the second World War, in those desperate and decadent times when the lifestyle of landed aristocracy decays and dissipates, the film explores the quiet destruction of a rich patriarch who, for years, has built a fantastical emotional fortress with his money. Like animals, in a time of turmoil, the population evolving, the various characters of the house exude a sort of carnal sensibility as they glide through their displays of pretense and tradition: dressing for dinner, sipping cocktails, preparing their guns for the shoot. A typical upstairs-downstairs drama with an array of sirs, madames, honored guests, cooks, maids, and valets, and with the accompanied bizarre intermingling and sexual tensions, the familiar and the strange of the group are brought together for a weekend of shooting and socializing, for glamor and, ultimately, intrigue. The narrative structure takes a turn on itself, when as one of the weekend guests, a Hollywood director researching his next film, a mystery where a murder ruins a weekend, shares some of his secret project, it manifests in this film: the patriarch William McCordle is murdered. Detectives arrive promptly on the scene, and the viewer, as necessary voyeur, discovers the secrets revealed, upstairs and down, to solve the crime, as well as to understand the history and dynamics of the house.

Sylvia epitomizes the expert amalgamation of feminine sophistication and masculine mannerisms and detailing; both pompous and vulnerable, she imbues mischief and propriety. Her costumes throughout the production are divine; she transitions from riding slacks and thick layers of tweeds to soft, ephemeral evening gowns naturally, at ease astride a sweating horse and languidly floating across her parlor like some gossamer bird. Bold, dark red lips, worn with her gorgeous dresses and with her smartly tailored, men's wear, give her a simultaneously seductive and callous allure. For this autumn, I would love nothing more than to style each of my outfits following her cues, either sparkling in radiance, or wearing a thin schoolboy tie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ruminating on Cool Temperatures, on Fur

This weekend, the first spent in the confines and comforts of my own apartment in awhile, so it seems, the temperatures dipped low in the evenings. As is typical of mid-century apartment living, there was some malfunction with the heat in my building; I pulled a thick down comforter from my linen closet, wrapped it closely around my body to sleep. Chilled though the nights are, I still relish in sleeping with my windows open, fresh air cleansing my apartment and my lungs. It is said that one sleeps better in the cold; I believe this.  My sleep is more sound, more full, my dreams less tangled and obscure and unsettled.

The filmmaker and I went for a few brief drives into the farm country that engulfs the small suburban towns in this area; leaves have morphed to a spectrum of shades, honey, chocolate, gold, and bright, cheerful blood red. We drove with the windows down, a cold breeze greeting the moving car, running through my hair, across my cheeks. I spent the weekend wrapped in different flannel shirts, layered with cream cardigans and thick cashmere scarves, paired with new leather Frye boots. We bought apple cider doughnuts and various different cheeses, a personable and bold Italian red wine, foods that seem to taste the way the air does.

At the start of this season, I always want to warm myself with furs, a desire that then seeps into the winter months, an elegant homage to my fellow creatures, fascinating organisms that I share a walk on the earth with. Warm myself with nature. Skin on skin. For ages, I have sought a simple fur stole, to wrap about my neck, wear with my tweed blazers and with my thick sweaters, something vintage and soft. Something that smells faintly of another life, time, before I was born, still worn during these cooling days of autumn, when the sun grows shy and hides sooner and sooner, giving her excuses to the white moon. Worn perhaps by a young woman, like myself, a superficial shield against what is uncertain and unknown, foreign and wild in this world; worn perhaps by an older woman, a material piece of comfort in a place familiar and occasionally cruel. Worn perhaps by a wizened woman, herself worn and experienced, her face rife with happiness and sorrow gleaned from years of living. 

(image taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apples in Autumn and Pumpkin Pranks

 Before adventuring off to South Africa for two weeks, the filmmaker and I took advantage of a cool and gray day to explore a local apple farm, wander their orchards, and sample their wares. Generally, after Labor Day, these destinations are rampant with small toddlers and frantic parents, but this day was marvelously silent and serene. Unfortunately, despite being quite early in the season, ambitious and zealous pickers preceding us cleaned many of the currently ripe varieties; much of the fruit that was plump and delicious remained in sanctuary, tucked in the highest of the branches, out of our grasp. Thankfully, we were tenacious, and scoured rows far from the entrance, finding and plucking a few specimens for our bounty.

For a few moments there, we both were genuinely concerned that we would fail to find any apples left in the trees that were technically ripe and open, not roped off from the public by the farmers; I was ecstatic to finally pick a piece of fruit, complete with leaves. When apples and other produced are purchased from a large franchise grocery store, they have an almost processed color and sheen to them, sometimes appearing fabricated in some vacuum, rather than a natural, biological extension of the body of a tree, an organ essentially, critical to an ancient cycle of reproduction and destruction. Seeing these apples, fresh, with remnants of their origin, their complete bodies, in a field of wet earth, is a lovely and never tiring reminder of where our sustenance actually comes from. We left with armfuls of Golden Delicious and Cortland apples.

The ground was damp from a recent rain, and scattered across the earth was the carnage from the harvest, apples either dropped or flung or discarded, partially consumed and disintegrating to a sweet brown mush. I was glad I had decided to wear my thick rubber rain boots.

As is customary with a visit to an apple orchard, we also trudged through the pumpkin and gourd patches, turning over the large orange squashes, inspecting them for discoloration or molded imperfections. I wanted to pick up a couple of small pumpkins for display on my kitchen table for the autumn season; there is, honestly, no lazier but still festive way to decorate than to just place pumpkins haphazardly in your home. Picking pumpkins and running amok through the patch is one of those quintessential elementary school field trips; I remember bundling up in a wool sweater, then burning my tongue slightly on hot apple cider, as we rode, bouncing, in a large wagon out to the field. Clearly, years after, I have not abandoned that young childhood mentality, or sense of humor. These are both a bit small, but maybe this year I will actually make something productive with them after the season, or at least toast the seeds. Pumpkin bread, perhaps?

Manic Monday morning soundtrack: "Sheila" Memory Tapes (on repeat)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Iconography, Remix: Philip Glass

The past two days, I think I have listened to the new album Rework_ , the remixes of classic Philp Glass compositions by contemporary popular artists like Beck, Cornelius, and Dan Deacon, about ten times. For a variety of reasons, including the not insignificant post-vacation melancholy, induced by being thrust from an aura of peace and calm and beauty, and vineyards, back to my cubicle, the past couple of days have been rough. These interpretations of beautiful pieces have been soothing and a welcome soundtrack to my lazily frantic scrambling to be caught up.

(image taken from Esquire)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time Piece Lusting

I have not worn a functional watch in about ten years, since my first beloved silver and black Roxy watch, which honestly more resembled a bracelet, lost a screw while I was dancing and jiving at a Depeche Mode concert.  Adolescent girls are funny and bizarre creatures; I was completely confident and insistent on forging my own musical and cultural aesthetics, yet was simultaneously determined to have a watch made by superficial brand all the other girls proudly donned. At least I was consistent in my stubborn fervor. Normally, I am really distraught when anything I own accidentally breaks, particularly items I use on a daily basis, no matter their cost or immateriality, but, the glory of seeing one of my favorite and most soul-formative bands ever perform live definitely helped to quell the typical, uncontrollable, and ridiculous anxiety of loss. Ever since, I have not quite been able to find a watch that I admire enough to actually wear and use daily, though, to be fair, with the heavy reliance on cell phones, my interest in replacing this once necessity has waned.  So, perhaps my subconscious was more brutally wounded than I initially imagined, my wrist naked and alone for these many years.

Lately, my tastes for time pieces have altered quite notably; rather than something small, dainty, metallic, chain-like, a tool guised as a bracelet, I prefer clean and bold and heavy with a masculine tinge. A leather band, a broad and simple face. While perusing and falling deep within the virtual vortex of online sartorial inspiration, I discovered this specimen. Perfection. Unfortunately, my recent, comparatively lavish vacation to South Africa put quite a dent in my checking account, so, for now, this accessory will remain a mirage in the distance.

(image taken from Daniel Wellington)

Iconography: Moby Dick

Today is the anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick, the challenging and seminal seafaring novel by Herman Melville. The past few days, I have been devouring interviews by recent MacArthur genius grant recipient Junot Diaz, which are rich not only with his sage offerings on the acts of writing and of reading and their implications in our contemporary geopolitical milieu, but with incredible book recommendations. Then, prior to leaving on vacation to South Africa, the filmmaker surprised me with a quaint and ancient illustrated book on whaling, rescued from the bowels of the local library, destined for the garbage. This sequence appears to be a synchronicity, an alignment of cosmic intellectual forces; I have never read Moby Dick, and have always intended to. I have, after all, been on a grand hunt, for something I am not sure I can articulate; inspiration and ambition and satiation are always welcome.

(image taken from Wreck Watch) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Request to Revlon

Dear Revlon, 

For years, I have been an ardent and loyal consumer of your infamous red nail polishes; they are wonderfully affordable, vivid, and when a top coat layer is properly applied, sufficiently enduring. For a pure, true red, I have always been partial to your color Frankly Scarlet. As the name alludes, this shade was an impeccable and unadulterated red that was perfectly sassy and sultry, with subtle flairs of faint glittering opalescence. It was the ideal red. With a clever and witty name, revering a film icon, a woman of extreme passions and untempered decadence. 

Having nearly scraped the last dregs of colored paint from my current bottle, I added Frankly Scarlet to my shopping list for my next large beauty haul. I searched at one local store, then another, then another. Much to my dismay, this perfect palette was absent from them all; I can only conclude that this nail polish has been foolishly discontinued. Dizzy, distraught, adrenaline racing, I recovered quickly and began to strategize. In scouring the other options for a far inferior replacement, it appeared that you have instead pushed the Revlon Red as the true red polish. For shame; I am disappointed. This polish definitely has a much more golden glimmer pallor, and, not unimportantly, the banal and uninspired name pales in comparison to an allusion to one of the greatest lines in film history, to one of the most feverish and tortured romantic stories in film history. 

My words here may be paltry, perhaps unmoving, superficial; admittedly, it is difficult and trying to encapsulate the magnitude of disappointment. For years passed and years to come, the red nail, pristine and bright and bold, is a classic in feminine style. Please, reconsider this rash and brazen decision.

Sincerely yours.

(image taken from The Red List) 

Baby Minnetonka Moccasins

Though I am sure many parents, mothers in particular, are unwilling to admit it, baby shoes are the epitome of superfluous and are a complete lesson in futility until veritable independent walking starts. Certainly they are adorable, but with babies being squirm-machines that are challenging to dress and with their incessant wild growth, shoes just always seem laughably ridiculous. They will only fit for a few weeks, at most, and they will probably be torn off and flung somewhere. Honestly, some warm socks or slippers suffice. Winona is quickly approaching her first birthday and has started to explore the wonderful world of bipedalism; so far, she has mostly been standing, occasionally releasing her grip and exuberantly displaying a no-hands posture, and some pushing around a bit. As I have been in Africa the past two weeks or so, I may have missed her first few unsteady steps; I hope not. So, as the temperature cools, and my little niece becomes mobile, Elizabeth finally bought her first pair of legitimate shoes: tiny and sickeningly sweet baby Minnetonka moccasins. My heart melts. This choice was practical and aesthetically adorable: hopefully, they will prove easy to slip on, and will stay on, and it seems the moccasin trend is unwavering in its popularity. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Retournez, from Africa

After about twenty-four hours spent wasting on an airplane, or in an airport, or in a taxi or a car, I have finally returned home, safe and sound, to my humble and familiar apartment. This vacation experience has been, in a word, incredible and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity. Naturally, I am still reeling a bit from the visceral overload of the beautiful South African landscape and culture, as well as trying to recover from the inevitable and torturous jet lag, so, attempting to articulately capture the lovely time I had in what is now one of my favorite countries is impossible. There are numerous photographs, with accompanying tales, which I will attempt to sift through and glean in a timely manner; however, considering I still have various photographs from Paris that I would like to share, this may be a bit ambitious. I shall endeavor, though. For now, I have this emphatic recommendation: should one have the chance to tour South Africa, seize it.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The African Queen

I will not be traversing along in a river boat, and I am mostly certain, hopefully, that I will not find myself in situations to bleak and dire, but, my journey through South Africa will surely be an adventure nonetheless... stay tuned for stories and photographs.

(image taken from Film Reference)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To Market, To Market

After months of a lavish and generous sun, I certainly always look forward giddily to the cooling of the temperatures each autumn; still, despite this anticipation, I cannot help but feel a bit forlorn as well. Bright colors, flaming reds, oranges, gilded yellow, vibrant violets, greens, glaring and sordid, seep back into the earth. A visceral and visual senescence, of the land and her bounty. 

While I enjoy keeping busy on the weekends, traveling, I do regret not being able to reap the full benefits of the local markets as much as I potentially could. Sunday late morning, the filmmaker and I strolled over to my familiar neighborhood farmer's market, Mexican Coca Colas in hand, relishing in the tantalizing and elusive pure cane sugar sweetener, succulent and delicious. We left, my worn black canvas bag brimming with the stragglers of summer tomatoes, with cucumbers, and local goat and sheep cheeses. With a soft and crusty baguette, and some locally butchered sausages. Fortunately, there are apparently some indoor farmer's markets that are nearby, so that as winter and her cold fury descend, I can still enjoy some fresh products and support local commerce.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

French Joan Holloway

While I suspect that some of the consumer culture bombardment of 1960s silhouettes and aesthetics will subside once Mad Men concludes its series and trails off into televised fiction oblivion, for women like me, fuller hips and smaller waists, that style embracing curves will forever be a classic. I will unabashedly admit I owe much of my professional office flair to the character Joan Holloway, then Joan Harris. Though I have no concrete foundation for supposing she is still a Ms. Holloway, she is now divorced and has always struck me as more modern and forward thinking in some ways, so maybe she returned to her maiden name. The beauty of this type of speculation, naturally, is the facts cannot really be confirmed and ultimately mean nothing.

Modern though she may be in her notions of feminine sexual identity, sexual empowerment, and professional empowerment, Joan was not a character to adopt the stereotypical 1960s Mod designs of the past few seasons, unlike her younger foil, Megan Draper. Clearly, she understands her figure intimately, and knows what works well, and what does not. Tunics and shifts emblazoned with bright patterns and neons, not the most flattering option for the classic hourglass. Tried and true, Joan continues to flaunt her curves, donning pieces that accentuate the waist and follow smoothly the arc of her hips and bust.

I found this vintage navy wool Lanvin skirt, featuring a very subtle almost pinstripe, in consignment. It is flagrantly high-waisted and a-line, fabric extending just to the top of the knee; like a few other of my favorite skirts, in the front there is a sort of folded, hidden pleat, lending the skirt a more straight look until a few steps are taken and some motion is added. Though the golden belt Lanvin embellishment is a bit much, overall, when paired with a simple white blouse, it is a perfect proportion of gilded flair. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Frankfurt Fashion

Sunday afternoon, after my business obligations were fulfilled, I took a short sunny stroll through the shopping center near my hotel in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, being a more residential city and not such a tourist epicenter, all of the stores were closed, recognizing and enforcing a sort of secular day of rest; I was even more dismayed and disappointed that nothing was open when I passed these display windows of a local department store. Fashion lederhosen. I proverbially shook my fist at the sky, lamented my luck at missing this opportunity by sheer hours, foolishly thinking that Sunday afternoon would be ideal for window shopping. Not only could I not enter the store to discern whether this window display was at least a bit ironic, or whether, indeed, now that some decades have passed since the horrifying and vile Nazi regime, a resurgence of nationalist pride and cultural heritage is not severely frowned upon, I was not able to see if any of these choice modern interpretations of a mountain classic came in my size. I could not peer at the detail trim up close, swirl around in these full skirts in the privacy of a dressing room before a large, well lit mirror. And, alas, I could not capture a photograph that gave these looks some justice, not obscured by strange reflections and refractions under glass. 

Personally, I prefer the masculinized lederhosen shorts in the center, paired with wedge heel hiking boots, a sort of urban meets Alps aesthetic, however, a large chest may prevent this one from having been flattering on my full figure. A lot of the massively produced, purposely counter-culture but contrived looks, gracing the more gentrified neighborhoods of Brooklyn, have seemed quite hackneyed this season; really, pseudo-punk inspired detailing, again? Subtle nods to big hair bands from the 1980s and alternative grunge from the 1990s, once more? I say Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, or if they are feeling frisky and willing to try a risk, J. Crew, seek some inspiration from these contemporary German classics.

T. Rex Lusting

My sister Elizabeth has a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex figurine in her apartment, a relic of some of our favorite childhood toys, probably discovered in some consignment shop somewhere. Or perhaps the reward for successfully slurping down an entire fishbowl of cheap vodka and purple juice, though, I know my sister and her tastes much better than to surmise that. Fishbowl punches with accompanying swimming plastic animals seem to be a staple in college towns across the nation, including my own former home of Ithaca, but I imagine it is a more recent trend. Initially, it seems incongruent, booze and old plastic toys, but a drink of that volume deserves a large and garish garnish, and, if fluorescent Little Huggie juice is the base for the cocktail, something juvenile and cheap is the best partner. I digress. The exact origins of the T. Rex are unknown, to me, but he makes for an amazing juxtaposition of texture and aesthetic to the silver, the crystal, and the hand-blown glass vases.

Lately, we have been playing with the king of the dinosaurs and my niece Winona, though, taunting and mild tormenting may be more appropriate. She likes to hang out with him for a bit, then gets nervous and scared, unsure of where the relationship is headed, intrinsically worried about his open mouth, his bared teeth, stagnant and plastic though they are. Her adrenaline response, conditioned from generations of particular genetics, does not fail her; in another, more fantastical time, this fellow would be a worthy and terrifying adversary. These pumps are a beautiful piece of nostalgia for that time of playing with Barbie dolls and dinosaur dolls in my bathtub, where, submerged underwater, all creatures could coexist peacefully. At first, I was trying to imagine an occasion where T. Rex shoes would be appropriate, then, I realized, the better question: when are T. Rex shoes not appropriate?

(image taken from The Daily What)

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Hop in Hanover and a Frolic in Frankfurt

 Hanover is, blandly, an interesting city and one that, aside from a work project, I would probably never visit. Situated at a critical geographic nexus, near the former large Volkswagen plant and the intersection of critical railroads and automobile highways, Hanover was strategically decimated by bombs during the second World War. After this raze, Hanover was reconstructed with sterile and stereotypical post-war 1960s architecture, looming and gray box-like austere buildings without ornamentation or flair.

As I was working, spending most of my waking hours touring a large medical university hospital, my only real sensory experience of the city was eating and imbibing, mostly fatty meats, pretzels, and beer. Obviously. After my first two days in Germany, it became painfully obvious that vegetables are not included in meals in any notable extent, unless doused in some type of heavy cream, and are certainly not regarded as a diet staple. Despite my strong German heritage, my intestinal tract did not take too terribly kindly to this style of decadent fare.

This fellow, a Hanover local, grilled such an impressive array of sausages and pork pieces and chicken for one of our outdoor evening barbecue events, and was so jolly in the process, that I could not resist stealing a photograph. At this point of my trip, the first of the prevailing German cultural archetypes, the pleasant and plump citizen whose stein is always flowing with succulence and whose plate is always replete with meat was confirmed. Alas, I did not encounter the second archetype, the artist architect donning monochrome black and chain smoking. So, to Berlin I shall be returning, at some point in the future.

Following a few days in Hanover, I went to another meeting in Frankfurt, enjoying a train ride across the countryside to reach my new destination. Like Hanover, Frankfurt was destroyed in the gruesome carnage of the war, allies raiding and Nazi forces refusing to relent. So, compared to all the other cities in Europe that I have traveled to, Frankfurt has a very contemporary aesthetic; like those cities in the United States, it is built from columns of steel, as opposed to stone. Frankfurt is the economic epicenter of Germany and not a traditional tourist trap, but nonetheless, there are a few quaint replica squares for the random visitor to roam. In a way, I preferred the residential and business feel of Frankfurt, the sense of a place lived in, the sense of a strange and dark history whereby this old city was so newly reborn.

Perhaps as a result of its position as an industrial and banking center, Frankfurt was also the most notably diverse city in Europe, of those that I have personally visited. Men and women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and stories strolled along the streets, with intent and lackadaisically. The atmosphere was an intermingling of frenetic and lax, just mimicking the pace of real life, a familiar bundle of kinetic energies.


As I learned during my very brief romp through Lima, when you have only a few precious hours to tour a city, sometimes the best option is an organized and commercial tour; in this case, the river cruise boats afford the opportunity to lap up the views of the city, both typical and more bizarre, while floating along and enjoying a beer. I indulged with one of my colleagues and, much to our dismay, the bar area did not accept any type of credit or debit card, forcing us to ridiculously scrounge in our pockets and the crevices of our handbags for sufficient change to buy two beers. We came up a few cents short, but, thankfully, were able to rely on the kindness of strangers, and our waiter had to reward us for our scavenging effort. One would think that, after my business travel and my thirst for new experiences, libation and otherwise, I would always be prepared. Sometimes, spontaneity works.

My younger brother and I have pushed about the idea of returning to our roots, perhaps Berlin or Munich, sometime in the next year, while he is still in graduate school and has not yet joined me in the ranks of corporate drudgery. I would not want to pass through Frankfurt again as a tourist, but, having this taste, it does seem like it would have an excellent standard of living and would welcome any cynical ex-patriot. Something to keep in mind, as the presidential election dominate.