Sunday, November 25, 2012

Free advertising for H&M

I'm sorry I keep writing about clothes.

Anyways I somehow missed that Maison Martin Margiela was doing a collaboration with H&M. ("What's that jacket, Margiela?" --Kanye West.)

I can't afford any of these things, and also there's no H&M nearby, but the collection appeals to me in every way.

Things it has:

1. A coat made out of a duvet, and you can actually take off the duvet cover and wear that as a different kind of jacket, and plus the sleeves are removable:

2. A clutch purse made out of metallic faux leather that looks like a giant candy wrapper (and, on the guys' side, a fanny pack as big as a backpack):

3. A purse that you wear upside down (it actually has a zipper on the "bottom"):

4. A dress made out of two different dresses (below). H&M describes this as "half lined," which is the first time I've ever seen that in a clothing description. Also, there is a dress made entirely out of dress lining, and many other pieces made out of incorrectly used materials/materials masquerading as other things--a men's jacket made out of belts, a belt made out of a watch band, jeans sewn inside out, tops made out of scarves, a dress made out of car-seat leather, and skin-colored leggings with a fishnet print on top.

5. Beyond the candy wrapper, a ton of giant things, including this necklace that looks like a huge key chain. There's also a women's peacoat big enough for Mamadou Ndiaye, and a massive turtleneck with "extremely long sleeves," which is the thing I'd most buy for myself.

But the single awesomest thing, that made me write this post and that reminded me of Proust, is this linen tablecloth set, that is printed with a photorealistic image of a tablecloth after a party.

Here is a close up of the napkins:

It is so beautifully executed too--I mean what kind of party was this? It looks like a party with ribbons and confetti that were then covered with a thick layer of ash. No one had time (or everyone was too careful) to spill their wine or drop bits of food.

It's great how a lot of the clothes put on a good show of being multifunctional (that split dress, for example, or the sweater you'll never outgrow), but are actually deeply impractical. I think I particularly like this collection not only for its jokiness or narrative or fairy-tale proportions, but also because it doesn't seem to give a shit about being "body-conscious." Most everything, except for the shirts and leggings that are supposed to resemble skin, would not flatter anyone's figure. I never like those designers who, in Vogue or wherever, talk about their careful study of the feminine form, their strategic darting and pleating to bring out the body, and especially how such garments give women self-confidence. I don't think self-confidence goes that way. How about clothing designed to make invisible and conceal the body--or something that tries to make you lose confidence in yourself and the world around you? (The skirt that looks like you didn't realize it got hitched up in your underwear when you went to the bathroom--the fake-sequin dress that shows that you are clearly a fraud--the tiptoeing person who actually has plexiglass heels?) So you can expose yourself in a different way. But what I like even more is the option to sequester yourself away in these clothes, those huge coats in particular, and hide.

One photo for the day

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

One photo for the day

My life is bro

I have spent a lot of time today looking at and I don't have anything profound to say about this.

They like to call girls "slams" and "slampieces." Here is the kind of thing on

And this is from Total Frat Move:

 Above: The rice makes it too balanced, I think.

It is surprising to me that part of being an online bro is pissing people off. I thought of bro culture as mainly white college guys drinking beer and trying to get laid, but it has a significant trollish aspect as well. It's rambunctious, humorous, half-ironic, misogynistic, patriotic and self-congratulatory and it's not as uniquely American as it seems (cf Australia).

For the slightly more couth/scrubbed/consumery side of things, there's Chubbies shorts. They're short-shorts in pastel colors that come in blue cardboard boxes that have "Boomshakalaka!" printed on the inside of the lid. The customers are young men who are "freeing their thighs from the tyranny of pants." They are called Chubbies because they have an elastic waist. There's a lot of rhetoric about liberation, complete with a photo of the founders with protest posters that say things like "I hate pants." Meanwhile the products are innocuous, vintage-inspired cotton short-shorts in colors like lavender and hot pink. (Bro hats also makes use of a brightly-colored vintage-inspired aesthetic. Those trucker hats seem so hipsterish, but unlike hipsters, bros seem to embrace their bro identity, and I think they're more into trucker hats because they're outrageous and tacky than because you can find them in thrift shops and revel in your own random weirdness/vague cultural criticism, or whatever. An orange hat that says "Rage" switches irony-type entirely when worn on a Bro's head or a hipster's head.)

These shorts have had a lot of commercial success (especially at my old high school), which is surprising given that their advertising copy is trying so hard that it seems like their target would catch the whiff of pandering that is the death of cool:

Key tenets of the new legislation under the Chubmander-in-Chief:
*Everyone must be awesome. At all times. No exceptions.
*Anyone caught discussing their "career" is sentenced to three shotguns. A day. For the rest of their lives.
*Barbecue grants to all citizens.
*Extensive investment in cutting edge research on the use of pants as a new form of fossil fuel - maybe they do have a use in this world.
*Any disagreements must be resolved via a karate wood-breaking competition. Using only one's thigh.
*We've decided against the season of Winter. Yup, simple as that. In fact, we'll just go with Summer all the time. Done.

But I know nothing. I hope that Emily and Charlotte will write their long-awaited book, "Towards a Bro Aesthetic," so I can learn.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012


I never organized the books in my childhood bedroom in any kind of order. Which is now hilarious.

According to the Economist, Ikea's bookshelves are no longer constructed to support the weight of actual books, as people mostly use their bookshelves for objets this days.

One poem for the day

Philip Larkin 

What are days for?
Days are where we live.   
They come, they wake us   
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:   
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor   
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The best advice

Have I ever been hypnotized? I am not sure. People keep telling me that you can hypnotize yourself very easily, without even realizing it. Today I threw up in the sink while I was brushing my teeth, and I was like, "Where did that come from?" Life is a thrilling mystery.

Meanwhile, here are some good pieces of advice.

Mr. Wilson, who taught me math when I was ten and ranks among the best teachers of my life, told the class that each person ought to hold these three jobs in their lifetime, because together you get the full spectrum of human responsibility: Lifeguard, waiter, carpenter.

My sister told me you need three things to be happy: Something to do, something to look forward to, someone to love.

My mother says: It's more important to be tidy than to be happy. (Not good advice.)

My mother also says: The best revenge is looking good. 

My friend told me how to revise a poem: You look at the checklist that the poem is making, and you see if it's checking all the boxes.

In "Venus Envy," the best song from the best Hasty Pudding show (Acropolis Now, 2009), Afro Dite, the goddess of love, is instructing the nerdy Roseanne Columns on how to find a man. "When I was a little love goddess," she says, "I learned the secret to love, and it is--" and she whispers in Roseanne's ear, while the background singers bellow so loudly that Roseanne can't hear. "That's right, that's the key to love," continues Afro. "So now, shoo girl! Don't forget it." I have spent a lot of time thinking about what the secret to love could be. It has to be a secret that could be whispered in that short of an interval. I have decided that the secret to love is, "Act like it's normal."

American Visionary Art Museum

The American Visionary Art Museum is in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Visionary art as defined for the purposes of the American Visionary Art Museum refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself."
Above: Gregory Warmack

"Horse Dress," crocheted by an unknown schizophrenic woman who lived at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, and my favorite thing in this museum of favorite things. The notes on the wall said, "She actually wore this dress in defiance of the generic patient uniform."

Patty Kuzbida

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, a Polish holocaust survivor (she and her sister fled the Nazis, posing as Catholics, and the rest of her family died in Maidanek), made these quilts of her experiences all with applique and embroidery. The top one is when she visited Maidanek right after the war, finding "giant cabbages growing on human ashes." The lower one is the Nazis hanging from the trees.

These are by Mars Tokyo. They're tiny tiny dioramas (each one is about four inches tall.)

Teatro della seduta spiritica, Mars Tokyo

Teatro della vergine, Mars Tokyo

Vanessa German

Jim Doran (The container for the paper sculpture is a soap dish that's about four inches long.)

"Art is at its best when it forgets its very name." --Dubuffet

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Seen in Baltimore

 At age 9, they amputate your arm

Friday, November 9, 2012

One photo for the day

No news is good news

Is it [[no news] is good news], or [[no] news is good news]? I mean, does it mean that hearing nothing from someone means that they're doing just fine, or does it mean that everything you read in the paper, see on TV, etc. is always bad, like no one cares for positive news? This is really important.

The best thing in Berlin, other than the terrifying mutants at the Museum for Natural History, was Martin Honert's Kinderkreuzzug show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, which is a huge contemporary art museum in an old train station. Honert was trying to recreate memories of childhood, which happens to be one of my favorite hobbies these days as well. (I am back in Durham, and in my house it's hard to tell if I am seeing things or the memory of things. If you could map the views in the living room where I am sitting, it would be a map with a lot of spikes and bulges. Every object opens up a very-distant view onto where it came from. There is Sam the Dot Man's birdhouse, and there's his packed store in Winston-Salem. There are the silhouettes of my sister and me from 1996, and there is the darkened room in the now-demolished South Square mall.)

Anyway, Honert went about recreating his childhood memories in a lot of different ways. He turned grainy, faded photos into grainy, faded statues.

He turned childhood drawings into big installations.

He made scaled-down models of important childhood objects, like a Linden tree or a favorite house, and put them on pedestals like busts. He put a half-sphere of green jello on a plate on a table that was rigged to shake and jiggle the jello from time to time. (He made the table so that it was too big for one person and too small for two, which I found beautiful and moving.) He did a lot of other things. But the most exciting part of the exhibit was the dorm bedroom that he created to look like a photo negative.

(If you use a Mac, press control+alt+command+the numeral 8, which inverts the colors of your screen, and you can see the negative-image of this bed. To switch back, just use the same shortcut.)  

So everything that is dark in real life is light in the room. Everything that would be wood-yellow is blue instead. Everything that would be white is black. And shadows are lights instead. It was an easy idea that played out so eerily in person.

How would you recreate your memories of childhood, if you had the skills of an installation artist and a very big budget? I think I'd want to make big things that you can actually crawl around in. A huge glass-topped coffee table to lie under, or a huge bed to try to climb up on. A lot of my memories of childhood are memories of impotence. How horrible it is, for example, to have a picture in mind and be unable to draw it with the shitty markers and colored pencils that people force upon children. 

Honert seemed more interested in the frozen moment, the way that photos shape your early memories. (Along with all his statues-from-photos, he made a statue meant to look like a bonfire in the midst of burning.)

The most evocative of his installations might have been one of the least visually interesting. He made a full-scale model (in styrofoam and plastic) of the sidewalk in front of his house, which he displayed on the wall like a mural. He also made a streetlight identical to the ones of his childhood street, and a glassy sculpture that looked like a ghost’s face, and displayed them in front of the sidewalk. His goal was to recapture that time of the evening when the streetlights turn on and the parents call the kids to come indoors. I liked this one because it was more of a nudge than a push.You couldn't help but see the sidewalk like a kid who's about to fall on a sidewalk. And what does the ghost have to do with the light? Unlike his children's crusade tableau, as clear and impermeable as a storybook illustration, the sidewalk one let you live in it for a minute.      

Tuesday, November 6, 2012