Looking at the looks of 1993, it occurs to me that I wore floral granny dresses with clunky shoes--and felt super-chic for doing so--in 5th grade, which if I did the calculations right would have been 1993-4. If you're old enough to remember dressing, of your own free will, in whatever was trendy in a year so long ago that it's being remembered in the Thursday Styles, then you're, you know, old. No, I don't remember the people who dressed like Madonna in 1985, so there is hope. But I am too old to shock New York Magazine by my presence in clubs, or would be if I were into going to clubs. I'm also so old that I remember the last oral-sex-scare, the one set off by the lovely Mlle. Lewinsky. Now that I think of it, the blue dress might count as a granny dress...
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Today I saw something I'd never seen before, and was wondering if this happens a lot, or if this was more of a once-in-a-lifetime sighting: An older woman was sitting at an outdoor cafe with an older man, possibly/probably her husband. She was wearing a sports bra and no shirt. That's generally not done at outdoor cafes in that area, even by the members of the neighborhood's yuppie singles' scene, so seeing an older, presumably attached woman dressed this way was a bit unusual. More unusual still was the cloth napkin she had tucked into the elastic at the bottom of her bra, such that her stomach was just about entirely covered by the napkin. It was a summertime version of the classic napkin-tucked-into-shirt look. As I said, I'd never seen this done before, so I'd like to know if this is the new thing, or if what I witnessed was just garden-variety Upper West Side eccentricity.
Posted by Phoebe at Wednesday, June 29, 2005
In NYC, you can have a celebrity sighting every day. It all depends how you define "celebrity." For example, I recently saw NY1 newscaster Roma Torre in Chelsea Market. The offices of "the only local news worth watching" happen to be in Chelsea Market, and a local-news newscaster is by definition only a local celebrity, making this sighting worth fewer points than, say, randomly seeing a buzz-cut-sporting Natalie Portman in the East Village. But it still counts. As does spotting (and chatting with) a bona fide Social Thought grad student in a pizza place on the Upper East Side. Social Thought grad students, they're just like us!
Posted by Phoebe at Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
New York Magazine's piece on high school girls who go to nightclubs to pick up older men covers no new ground, and writer David Amsden's interpretation of the phenomenon is way, way off. It's common knowledge that, while normal, well-adjusted Manhattan high school kids do their underage drinking with one another, the screwy ones feel the need to prove themselves by getting into clubs so exclusive that only the schlubbiest of schlubby rich men can enter. This is mainly a private-school phenomenon, because no matter how often the men pay for... whatever it is they're paying for, the girls will inevitably need a certain amount of start-up money for things like clothes, taxis, and entrance to the clubs themselves.
But where Amsden goes wrong is in portraying the club-going girls as wise beyond their years, as the epitome of Manhattan-based worldliness. "The last time any of them looked their age, they were in elementary school. Like so many privileged New York kids, they have been taught, since they were small children, never to act like children." Replace a few not-so-pertinent details--the location of the drinking, the race of the protagonists--and this is the story of the inner-city girl who falls for an exciting older man, gets messed up in one way or another, gets pregnant and dumped, and causes people like, say, the parents of the girls profiled in the NY Mag piece, to tsk tsk. The point is, there's nothing intrinsically sophisticated about teenage girls acting dumb, but apparently put the girls into designer stilettos and give banking jobs to the men and all of a sudden idiocy becomes maturity. The story's the same no matter how much money everyone involved has at their disposal. As for these girls not looking their age, which is what Amsden claims early on, it's clear that they do look their age, and that this is precisely why they appeal to a certain type of man.
Posted by Phoebe at Monday, June 27, 2005
Sunday, June 26, 2005
A NYT article deals with the normal and exceptional experiences of the Stuyvesant class of '05, the kids who were freshman on 9/11. One student "walked to Union Square with a friend, and remembers being annoyed that Urban Outfitters was closed." That sounds terrible, until you remember how unnerving that day was, how inconceivable what had happened was at the time. Still, it's a bit jarring to hear a girl from Stuyvesant admit to shopping for trendy clothes.
There are some details in the Times piece that might only make sense to those who attended the high school: "Chun Che Peng remembers a teacher telling students to focus on their work, but no one could." At most other high schools, that could describe any day, but at Stuyvesant, students often do focus on their work. And "counselors gently discussed post-traumatic stress, though few students accepted their offers to talk privately." That sounds about right--even a massive terrorist attack wouldn't drive Stuy kids to their guidance counselors, especially given how frequently teachers there get taken out in handcuffs for alleged sexual misconduct.
As a member of the class of '01, the last class to graduate while the Twin Towers were still standing, I've always felt odd about how familiar people are with the high school for such upsetting reasons. I'm always asked if I was there when it happened, since I seem about the right age, but I think back to my yearbook, which has what must be some of the last photos taken of the WTC used not for political purposes or just generally to commemorate 9/11 but just as backdrop, because that was for us what a local parking lot or strip mall might be to students at any other high school. (I got black stretchy pants on sale at the Express in the WTC, how's that for profound?) But when the planes hit, and even for a bit afterwards, my main concern was for the high school, for those inside. At the time, I had no idea who would be killed where, and there were all sorts of rumors about the high school being in danger, though in retrospect my concern seems entirely misplaced and ridiculous.
Tonight was gay- and Israeli-themed on many levels. It began with the movie, Walk on Water, which is by the same director as Yossi and Jagger. And yes, once again, good-looking Israeli military types were involved. Then I walked down Christopher Street, which, it being Gay Pride weekend and all, was more densely packed with the usuals than usual. And then, walking down the street in the East Village, Molly and I received an unusual catcall--"Shalom!" Some presumably Israeli men with very gelled hair, and with remarkable Jew-dar especially given that it was late and they seemed somewhat intoxicated, felt like telling us "hello," "goodbye," or "peace." And why shouldn't they? Doing some post-BA French Jews/Dreyfus Affair readings, I found some interesting French-gay/French-Jewish connections, so this evening surely counts as an educational experience.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
A man allegedly raped a woman in Chelsea. Chelsea! Women tend to feel extremely safe there, what with it being a neighborhood of buff gay men in wifebeaters rather than one of... actual wifebeaters. Super creepy. The answer might be to stay home or stay uptown, but apparently a (different?) rapist is on the prowl uptown, crawling through windows. Yikes!
Posted by Phoebe at Saturday, June 25, 2005
No photos, but several dachshunds have been spotted this week. Sam saw a dachshund being carried in a bike basket during a Critical Mass bike ride in Chicago (a dachshund with a social conscience!) and I saw one climb into the back of a Jaguar being driven by a very put-together woman in Manhattan (a dachshund living it up!), as well as three longhaired dachshunds together in Central Park (athletic, sunbathing dachshunds!). I also saw a dachshund with a cow-patterned coat (unclassifiable!).
That's it for this edition of Dachshundwatch. Tune in next time for more dachshunds, and maybe even some pictures.
Posted by Phoebe at Saturday, June 25, 2005
Friday, June 24, 2005
In two weeks, I'll have a learner's permit. Predictably, I waited on line to take the test behind a boy with a peach-fuzz mustache. 21 is old to get a permit, I realize, but it's a start.
The Harlem DMV is technically the local office for all of upper Manhattan, including the Upper East Side, so it should theoretically act as a great equalizer, much like jury duty, bringing kids who never leave the boundaries of the UES, who don't take the subway, in contact with the rest of the city. I was struck by how few wealthy-looking white teens were waiting for permits, then remembered that such kids tend to get licenses at their country houses, which generally aren't located on or around 125th Street, even the revived 125th Street. Oh well. A married French man was hitting on a young Latina woman, so at least some cross-cultural mixing was going on.
Something had to be going on, since all told this took me four hours, during which time I read a short biography of Proust once and the latest issue of Vogue more times than I could count. The Vogue ended up having more intriguing French-Jews information than did the biography; apparently the only French people still buying super-expensive bras at some place in Paris are the "important Jewish families of Paris." Fortunately, "J.F.P." isn't an especially catchy acronym.
Posted by Phoebe at Friday, June 24, 2005
Thursday, June 23, 2005
I just had the exciting task of taking my family's old clothes to the local thrift store. Once there, I had a look around, and something shiny caught my eye. A blue-silver shimmery above-the-knee jeans-style skirt. It would look great with a neon-colored shirt from American Apparel, but somewhat less great with the new shiny boots, I thought. Too tacky? Perhaps, but not too tacky to try on.
This being the Upper East Side, the thrift-store skirt in question was Marc Jacobs and, though used, $45. I happen to believe that used clothing items should never exceed $10, unless they were a) used by someone especially interesting--say, Natalie Portman's g-string from Closer (yup, mining for Google hits); or b) worth insane amounts to begin with, like the Chanel clothing on display now at the Met. But a shiny skirt that some Chapin 10th grader probably got rid of because the ruffled mini is here to stay? That should be maybe $5, or at most $7 since I suppose Marc Jacobs beats, I don't know, J.Crew or wherever else people's used clothing in this neighborhood comes from.
Posted by Phoebe at Thursday, June 23, 2005
You know how professional trend-detectors talk about innovators, early-adopters, and so on? Well, I was totally there first, as this picture, from May 2004, proves. For someone whose idea of fashion is largely based on things that are neon, shiny, or French-minimalist looking, and who, truth be told, usually wears jeans and a t-shirt, this is a big deal. Will silver boots be the next big thing?
Posted by Phoebe at Thursday, June 23, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Every Friday night in Broadview, the dorm where I lived for the last two years of college, was DDR night. The Dance Dance Revolution crowd were the people who didn't especially feel like going out on Friday nights, and they were the real Broadviewians, the ones who made the rest of the UChicago student body seem like state-school, body shot-drinking ruffians. (I once got back from student bar Jimmy's and stopped by to see how the DDR was going, and one of the DDR regulars informed me, "You smell like party.") For the uninitiated, this is DDR: there's this photo of youthful DDR-ers, along with this one, of honest-to-goodness U of C DDR players, from the Chicago Maroon. I'm used to being surrounded by a certain amount of dorkiness, and to feeling relatively undorky, so returning to the land of models and socialites has been something of a shock.
New York is filled with models, which doesn't really contribute to overcrowding, given their width. I think they had a lunch break or something, because a bit before noon they'd flooded H&M on Lower Broadway, as well as the street in front, portfolios in hand. While H&M might seem like slumming for a model, it's not as if they'd use that hour to chase down Mr. Softie. It's weird how, even in a crowd of mainly thin people, some of whom are quite tall, models nevertheless stand out. Part of it is that they look so androgynous, but it's also the extent to which they enjoy gazing into the mirror for minutes on end to see how they look in $3 H&M jewelry. This may have something to do with them being 14 and from huts in the former Yugoslavia or wherever it is today's models are plucked from, or it may be that, consistent with stereotype, they're often more than a bit dim.
Today I showed Rachel, former Hebrew and Zionism class classmate, around SoHo and the Village, and returned with zahtar, tiramisu ice cream, a biography of Proust, and a pair of silver-colored boots. Only in New York? Most likely. Perhaps it could be done, but would take much longer, in Chicago.
A different Rachel emailed me this most fabulous article from the Jerusalem Post. Seems a square in Paris is being named after Bernard Lazare, the first well-known (at the time, sadly less so today) defender of Dreyfus and the main subject of my B.A. paper. Lazare was everything--a writer, an anarchist, but more of a libertarian anarchist, an assimilationist, then a Zionist, and then a champion of Romania's Jews.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Molly and I spent the evening in the Japanese corridor of the East Village, called Stuyvesant Street, which as far as I know has nothing to do with the fact that Stuyvesant High School, which is a few miles from it, is largely Asian, but it's a fun twist, just-desserts-wise, in that Peter Stuyvesant himself was something of a racist. That said, we went to Decibel, the basement sake bar where last year I'd celebrated my 21-ness, and then to a JAS mart, which is half Japanese supermarket, half convenience store for NYU kids. So the ramen acts as the only real crossover, in a place that sells everything from cheese-flavored Pringles to those tiny silver fish that act as a litmus test to highlight Western squeamishness.
Posted by Phoebe at Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
According to the Style section it's impossible to tell these days who's gay and who's straight. This report is, at the very least, premature. I went for a bike ride through Chelsea and the West Village, and nothing has changed, unless I am to believe that the men with "a bronzed, buffed, waxed gay ideal" body are in fact straight. That seems unlikely, especially since such men so often appear in pairs. And paired-off men are without a doubt the most gay-seeming of all, more than interior decorators, even.
I don't see why gaydar is supposed to matter. In any given case, a man's sexuality only needs to be determined by those who are interested in him in such a way that this would be an issue. But classifying for the sake of classifying strikes me as a waste of time.
Gerald DeCock, hairdresser, lives in the Chelsea Hotel, and was written up for the intriguing way he painted his own apartment... He and I have never met, but I'm sure he'd totally go for me.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Today I took advantage of all the Upper East Side has to offer. Well, all it has to offer someone for whom shopping at Dolce & Gabbana or buying a $30 million townhouse aren't in the cards. So this meant, as the astute reader will see below, a trip to the Met's Chanel show, which was cool because of the shiny things, but the stuff at agnes b., which I'd taken a look at beforehand, was much nicer. Yes, the Chanel show was a store pretending to be an art exhibit, but the Dean and Deluca nearby is a museum pretending to be a supermarket, so that's just how it is. I also went running, making sure to promote both Chicago and Stuyvesant through the strategic use of fashion, and by fashion I mean shorts and a t-shirt. At Chicago I'd grown accustomed to running with people (ahem; plus another ahem to someone without a blog) whose jogging is my sprinting, to put it mildly, so it was great to see that there are in fact people out there whom I can easily outrun. Some were elderly, this is true, some but not all.