September 2013 archive

Music Monday #2

I pulled my first Music Monday from this post, and I’m going to follow in kind this week. Frightened Rabbit has been one of my favorite bands since mid 2008. I don’t even remember how I heard about them. It’s possible it was from The Pop Cop, that they caught my eye in one of their Music Alliance Pact entries, since they were from Scotland. (I’m a wee bit obsessed with Scotland.)

Who really cares how I discovered them? The discovery has pretty much changed my life. I have listened to The Midnight Organ Fight so many times, I’ve lost count. There have been times I’ve listened to my favorite song from that album on repeat for weeks at a time. And that was their second album, the follow-up to Sing the Greys. Since then, they’ve released The Winter of Mixed Drinks, State Hospital EP, Pedestrian Verse, and, most recently, Late March, Death March EP.

Sadly, as I mentioned, they have since stopped playing my favorite song live, as well as many of their earlier, well-loved, songs. So I will leave you with the first single from Pedestrian Verse, because it’s fantastic AND you are likely to hear this one live, should you catch them.

They are on tour, and I would highly advise you to check them out for yourself. Let me know what you think!

Heaven Looks at You From the Brooklyn Bridge

As a means of coping with the almost-constant wanderlust I’m consumed with, I decided to immerse myself in some of the wonderful things living in NY has to offer. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Brooklyn, and still live in Brooklyn. Yet, somehow, I had never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge until last Sunday.

I’d walked across the other two Manhattan/Brooklyn bridges before, out of necessity, though. (The Williamsburg Bridge on 9/11, and the Manhattan Bridge during the blackout of August 2003.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’d always meant to. I mean, it’s my favorite bridge in the world (so far). And it’s in my city. But it’s just like all the other things you don’t do in your own city that are kind of touristy. You just don’t get around to it. And I have a mental list of things to do with friends visiting from overseas, and it was always on the list, but the friends visiting never materialized. And so the bridge went unwalked.

The entire day was a NYC love affair, actually. It started off at Lincoln Center, where my friend Rose and I waited in line for and procured tickets to the live streaming event of the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night performance of Eugene Onegin.

This was followed by a trip down to Smithfield to meet friends and watch our boys play.

IMG_20130922_131750I pulled a Clark Kent for the occasion and donned my uniform.

IMG_20130922_131955Of course Xabi came along.

After Los Blancos proved victorious, we made a quick stop at the Stumptown cafe at the Ace Hotel for the best coffee anywhere to revive us, and headed off on the rest of our adventure.

DSC_0646-2I love how even getting off at the Brooklyn Bridge stop sets the scene for the beauty you’re going to see with this magnificent entryway.

We couldn’t have chosen a better day weather-wise to do it. The sky was a beautiful cerulean blue, with enough clouds to make it interesting, and the sun was shining. Stopping every few feet to take photos, I knew I was going to have a lot of fun playing around with some HDR shots and Snapseed. But even the straight-from-the-camera shots look like they were amped up, the day was so beautiful.

DSC_0651A glimpse of the ships at South Street Seaport.

Unfortunately, this also meant that a million other people were there, having had the same grand idea, so getting photos was a bit frustrating. But I think the trick is to just incorporate random strangers into your photos, and you wind up with stolen moments that tell whatever story you want.

DSC_0654‘Look, Ma! No hands!’

DSC_0660‘I think that girl was checking out my ass…’

Also, I know that upkeep of old bridges is very, very important, but white tarp over most of the walkway really ruins photos. Sigh. Well, this means I’ll just have to make sure to do it at least once more when the construction/upkeep is complete, n’est-ce pas?

DSC_0664

DSC_0668

(more…)

Wishlist Wednesday #2

First off, just a quick update on last week’s Wishlist Wednesday: I was wrong about Valentine having the Chloé Susanna boots. In her recent post, she identified them as a very, VERY convincing imitation. Too bad they don’t have my size! Tant pis. 🙁

Today’s object of desire is by a jeweler that I have been a bit obsessed with of late, Stephie Tchamanian , whose line is called Liliclaspe. I’ve bought about 20 pieces from her in half a year, and people ALWAYS comment on it. She has style. She is a doll. And her jewelry is to die for.

Cadet Chain All kneel before the glory of the majesty of the Cadet Chain

 However, again, unemployed, no money, yadda yadda. Also, this one is a bit more pricey than the other pieces I have bought. But I am obsessed with the colors of the stone. A friend recently commented to me, “You’ve really been into raw stones lately,” and she’s right. I’ve gotten a lot of druzy and rough-cut stone pieces from Liliclaspe (as well as Cleopatra’s Bling, seen here), and this would just put the feather in my cap of a collection.

Maybe it’ll still be there when I can afford it! If not, I’m just enjoying looking at it. If you head over there, send my regards!

What are you lusting after this week?

Music Monday #1

Everyone dreads Monday, and I’m no exception. Even while unemployed, it still doesn’t sit well. I’ve found that music is a good way to get through it, so I thought I would start doing Music Monday.

Since I just made a reference to Laura Marling the other day, I thought it would be fitting to make her the subject of my first Music Monday. Writing about her reminded me of her absolutely fantastic duet with another of the London new-folk scene, Johnny Flynn, called “The Water.”

This song just gets to me. The words. The melody. The harmonies. To me, it’s a small piece of musical perfection. I hope you like it as much as I do!

On another note, I had the most fantastic New York Sunday. I hope to write about it soon. How were your weekends?

I Caved (or, A Phillip Lim for Target Tale of Shame)

Just a quickie to show you my outfit today. Featuring the BOOM Sweatshirt by Phillip Lim for Target. Because I couldn’t help but succumb to a few pieces, despite not having a job. (Can you blame me, though?!) I staked out the Target site last Saturday night at midnight EST and stayed up until all the pieces I wanted were listed. And yet I still managed to miss the Yellow Mini Satchel. (Sad face 🙁 )

IMG_20130922_122248Boom. Mind blown.
(Hmm. those boots look familiar…)

The other things I picked up were the Floral Shirtdress and the Black Faux Leather Dress. (I also have the Navy/Black Faux Leather dress, which I ADORE, that front zipper is so sexy, but it’s one size too small. I mean, it fits, but just, and I’m afraid I’ll always feel self-conscious, and I can’t rationalize keeping it. Despite.)

Did any of you pick up any of the collection? What did you think?

Wishlist Wednesday #1

Just around a year ago, I first saw a photo of one of the WAGs* from my team wearing these AMAZING boots. She had them in black. And in red. And I wanted to know who made them. And to own a pair myself. I held out some hope of them being even remotely affordable. I mean, why crush my dreams before they even began?

*The term used for wives and girlfriends of football players, for the uninitiated. 😉

Well, I should have known. They turned out to be the ubiquitous Chloé Susanna (née Susan) boots.

0462261210022_396x528 Comme ca, these ones

501669760_product_1 Ou comme ca? Or these ones?

Le sigh. OF COURSE they would have to be ridiculously unaffordable designer shoes. These puppies would set me back $1345 dollars. To anyone who a) is on a budget b) likes to travel a lot c) is not rich and famous and d) has any brains in their head, that’s just too much money to spend on A SINGLE PAIR of shoes. Granted, a spectacular one. And, at the time (like now), I was unemployed. Definitely no time to spend that much money.

But, as I mentioned, if you’re someone who loves to travel, how do you reconcile spending the amount of money of a plane ticket to Europe on a pair of shoes EVER?? Go to Paris or buy the Chloé boots? I mean, really?!

The scary thing is, if you google them, SO many people have them. Which is the trouble with coveted, iconic designer items. And one reason why I usually stay away from buying things that are very recognizable—I don’t really like to have the same things as everyone else. But I really can’t blame all these regular people who have spent the money on them—they just look so damn good on!

So I contented myself with these very serviceable knock-offs by Vince Camuto.

41-C31-HcaL Vince Camuto Tema boots

But I confess, every time someone has complimented me on them, and it’s been very often, I invariably reply with, “Thanks, they’re my fake Chloés.” Which shows where my heart really lies.

Even when I was employed again, I just kept saying, I can’t spend the money. I already have my black Vince Camutos, would I really buy the red ones? (And there are grey ones now. And black with silver hardware. [Originally I had disliked the gold and wanted the hardware to be silver, but now I look at the silver and think it looks cheap.])

A couple of months ago, a used pair of the red boots showed up on eBay for half price, and the only thing that kept me from snatching them up was that I am once again unemployed. And the last vestiges of sanity that told me that over $700 for a pair of boots is STILL too much. Le sigh encore.

Just recently, I saw a photo of one of my favorite French bloggers, Valentine, wearing the Susanna boots, and my lust was reawakened all over again.

So the question becomes: When I am once again employed, what do I do? Do I buy them? And which color?? And how does one find a sugar daddy??

But whether or not I do, these divine beings remain at the tippy tippy top of my wishlist.

Frozen Over

Sigh. Here’s the part where I have to preface this post with a disclaimer. Over the years, someone will occasionally tell me that I’m a hipster because I happened to have known of a few now-famous British bands, from 2005 on, years before other people. Occasionally, I even sound like a hipster when I mention the fact. But anyone who knows me well knows I’m not a hipster. I’m too much of a dork to be a hipster. And not a dork in a cool way. I just, I don’t know, have gotten lucky. Okay, now, that’s not correct either. It’s really more like this. Take the fact that I’m a huge Anglophile and combine it with the internet, and you have me knowing about and seeing bands before they’ve hit it big. Really, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve made friends with British people and traveled to and gone to music festivals in the UK, combined with LiveJournal communities, band forums, and *gasp* MySpace, I would have been just like everyone else.

(Insider tip: One band I tried to get people to listen to for a year and a half before they became famous was Mumford and Sons. So, let me just tell you, that if you like them, you should check out Laura Marling, who has gotten a little bigger, but still pretty much flies under the radar. They come from the same London scene of new guard folk-rock bands, and Mumford and Sons used to open for Laura. And they actually did the music for her first two albums [before Laura and Marcus Mumford broke up, thereby ending one of the most amazing musical collaborations ever, sigh].)

So having gone to see Arctic Monkeys last night at Webster Hall, another one of my knew-them-first bands, I was split in two by one part nostalgia and one part horror at the band’s current following. Actually, the band’s current everything.

PhotoGrid_1379397560351Not sure if Alex Turner or Elvis

I first saw the Arctic Monkeys at the Carling Stage at Leeds Festival in 2005, having already been familiar with their demos from the internet. The sets they played at Reading and Leeds that year are legendary. It was the smallest of the tents at the festival, and it was so crowded, you couldn’t get inside if you hadn’t gotten there early. That was fine. I stood on the periphery, just making it under the very last of the tent. And then I saw them for their first two shows in New York. And other various shows.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Arctic Monkeys. (And have always seemed to have a lot to say about them!) I loved their music, but objected to the ridiculous hype surrounding them, claiming their debut album was the album of the decade, that this 19-year-old pipsqueak was the “voice of a generation.” I also hated their apparent derision of the massive success they had achieved (see the “That man just yawned” incident when they played Saturday Night Live at the age of 19 and looked like they were bored playing). For a band who skyrocketed to the top at such a young age, I confess, I wanted to see a little bit more…excitement, gratitude, and maybe just a little bit of awe. They always seemed like they just couldn’t be bothered. With you, with it, with anything.

But, as my blog post urges readers to do, I still went to see them when I could. Well, until I seemed to outgrow their music. Or maybe they outgrew me. Or we evolved in different ways. Well, really, did anyone like Humbug or Suck It and See? (Apparently, yes.) I can’t actually remember even seeing them in support of Favourite Worst Nightmare, which I did really like.  But it’s been such a long time since they’ve played a venue as small as Webster Hall, that when my friend asked me if I wanted to go, I said yes.

Standing in line, I was surrounded by teenagers. I was so confused. Was this 2013 or 2006? Shouldn’t the teenage fans I stood in line with years ago be adults by now? I heard teenagers lamenting over possible counterfeit tickets and how they would JUST DIE if they didn’t get in, and how it was “OMG MY THIRD TIME SEEING THEM.” To be met with, “You’re so lucky, it’s my first!” I was told by a 19-year-old boy in line that in fact their new album, AM, is outstanding, despite my not being amazed by it, and advised to look up a specific old gig on YouTube (which hadn’t even taken off back when I was first listening to the band and seeing them perform). (He was duly impressed by my having seen their set at Leeds festival in 2005, despite him telling me my opinion of the new album was WRONG.) (Not in so many words.)

Standing inside the venue waiting for the bands to come on, I overheard teenage girls saying things like, “So you have to flash them. And then they’ll bring us backstage,” and “They have a stripper pole?! (referring to the room where the band waits before they come on which is visible from the floor) Why am I not up there?!” (I know they were teenage girls, because one of them asked the other how 19 was going, and she said the same. To which the other one replied that she is only ever having her 18th birthday from now on.)

Welcome to the new wave of Arctic Monkeys fans: They’re young, they’re opinionated, they’re sexually aggressive, they’re pushy, and they need to wear deodorant. (Seriously. That place SMELLED.)

I have nothing against teenagers, especially teenagers discovering good music, but where were all the adults?! The frightening thing is, I think that they were only the people ON the stage. All the members of the Arctic Monkeys look like they have grown up, well, except for Alex. But in a scary way. I was actually alarmed to see Jamie Cook now (second from right), and remember what he looked like then. I know, I know, people grow up. But when did Nick O’Malley turn into Jack White?!

But they have grown up. I used to hate the derision and superiority they would have while playing, and the cockiness I didn’t feel they had earned. Well, now Alex Turner is cocky as hell, in a strutting, posing, sparkly jacket wearing, pompadour combing, waiting for the girls to scream at him way. (The teenage girls.) There was a moment I found so cringeworthy, I actually turned my head and laughed. But I guess I should be glad he’s developed some kind of stage presence??

For me, though, the telling moment was when, halfway through the show he asked the room, “Were any of you at our other show?” I couldn’t quite tell if he meant their other show recently or if he meant any other show at all of theirs. He followed that up with, “I don’t even know why I’m asking. I don’t care.” But don’t you maybe just a little bit, Alex?

Because, congratulations, Arctic Monkeys. You seem to have an entirely new fanbase made up of teenagers. Teenagers who REALLY dig your current music and also like your old music, but who already know your just recently released album by heart. While people like me, people who really loved you when you came out, well, we’re not so sure if we’ll be back. And not just because this was the roughest show I’ve been to in years. (To the girl who tried to shove me out of my spot: Yes, I will use my elbows. I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you, sweetheart.)

To be fair, the friend who I went with tonight has liked them for 8 years and loves AM, and probably does not feel the same way as I do. She and the 19-year-old boy on line were trying to explain to me why the album is excellent, because it “brought back the funk” that was missing in their last 2 albums. But she walked away from the show completely disappointed that she had waited all this time to finally see them live, and they hadn’t played “Fake Tales of San Francisco.”

And I guess that kind of sums up my problem with the current iteration of the band. I don’t like them “bringing back the funk,” I liked them when they rocked the hell out. Even if they did it with an unearned swagger.

I wanted to hear “Fake Tales,” too. I wanted to hear “Mardy Bum,” “A Certain Romance,” “View from the Afternoon,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” “From the Ritz to the Rubble.”  And they wanted to play their new music. (Again, to be fair, they played a lot of the songs I love from Favourite Worst Nightmare.)

But it’s an epidemic, these days. Every new album a band puts out, they consider it growth and evolution, and SO MUCH BETTER than the SHITE they had written earlier in their careers. (All the bands I know who are doing this are British, so they would say, “Shite,” yes.) Their new material is TOO GOOD, and they’ve just grown TOO MUCH, and evolved away from those songs. But they forget that those songs earned them a following. Even a reluctant one, like me.

(And it’s not all bands. Franz Ferdinand seem to have managed to develop and evolve, while still retaining their essence, the quality that made people like them to begin with. Even on their new album, you can see the growth, but they’re recognizable as the same band. And upon first listen, I vastly prefer Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action to AM.)

Because whenever a band decides that they are no longer going to play their most popular songs, they run the risk of alienating the fan base that got them where they are. Arctic Monkey’s debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, broke records in the UK. They became famous without even having put out an album, just off of those first tracks circulating on the internet. I have a copy of Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys (from eBay, years ago, okay?! I’m not that old school) and I still prefer those versions of the songs to the ones on the debut.

(Another band I love, Frightened Rabbit, have also stopped playing one of their best songs at shows. I’m seeing them in October, and I’ve heard that their recent set is made up primarily of songs off their most recent album, ignoring their most popular songs from their breakthrough album, The Midnight Organ Fight. I’m not going to lie. I’m a bit worried.)

But you know what? I’m truly glad for Arctic Monkeys, that a new school of people are discovering them, and they’re able to continue what they’re doing and have a strong fan base, even if it’s not the one that they started with. I meant every word I wrote about Alex Turner clearly being extremely talented. And talented people should be successful.

However.

I can’t speak for all the people who were there at the beginning—and the people who were really there at the beginning, who saw them gigging in Sheffield, the people who first traded around those mp3s—but I, for one, wouldn’t necessarily put myself through that again. (Unless maybe I adore the next album.) I have my memories and my mp3s, and that will have to be enough.

Bite Beauty Lip Lab: Shani in Lipstick Wonderland

Back to our regularly scheduled programming, folks!

It may have been a gray and rainy Wednesday outside when Ashley and I made our way to the Bite Beauty Lip Lab, but inside, everything was coming up lipstick!

DSC_0450

DSC_0443 DSC_0442

(more…)

Une mini virée en voiture de septembre 2013!

Hmm. Would you say “de septembre”? Any French speakers out there?

Anyway, Mini Road Trip September 2013!!

Okay, readers. This is the entry that is going to test whether my blog experiment is going to work, because this is the first one in which I bring in one of my divergent loves: football. Take a deep breath. I promise, it will be okay. There will be things to redeem it. I promise you. Photos will prove it.

Anyway, months and months ago, I bought tickets to see the international friendly match between the Portuguese and Brazilian national football teams, two of the best teams in the world. Also, two countries from which a few of the players on “my” team originate from. Cue excitement at the rare chance to see them play on American soil, even if it did mean I had to trek up to Foxborough, Massachusetts from New York to do it. Also, cue disappointment when two of my favorite players got injured before the match and had to pull out.

Actually, that shouldn’t have really mattered, since due to monetary difficulties (I’m currently unemployed), I thought we were selling the tickets. One deadbeat eBay buyer later, it was the day before the match, and a different friend (with a car!!) stepped up and the most spontaneous mini road trip ever was spawned.

Even though it’s not quite autumn yet, it is always a special thing to see autumn in New England, so I was quite excited. When I was younger, my family and I spent many a Thanksgiving up in Boston, and I have a dear friend in Worcester, so I was very glad to get back in the neighborhood. My friend, Rose, also went to university nearby, so we were going to stop off at her college town on our way back.

The match was a lot of fun, no surprise. I was rooting for Portugal, but alas, they lost. Here is why football is nothing to fear:

IMG_20130910_232852Here I am, missing one of our players who was injured, Cristiano Ronaldo. (He also happens to be one of the best players in the world, nbd.) I scavenged this wondrous thing after the Real Madrid v Chelsea match in Miami in August during the ICC tournament. Can you believe someone left this on the floor after the match?! Thank you very much to the several guys who felt the need to tell me that he wasn’t with the team that night, because I’m a girl and I obviously know nothing about sports or the players. And to the guy who offered me a whole dollar for my Cris head: Dream on!

DSC_0505See, football is okay, it has cute kids!

DSC_0516Cute kids holding flags questioning their life choices. (I’m talking to you, mister Righthand Corner.)

DSC_0548They are judging you for your skepticism. Yes, you. (Fábio Coentrão and Pepe)

DSC_0550Football has scenarios that play out like a Shakespearean tragedy. On the left, staring at a body on the floor. In the middle, praying to the heavens. On the right, well, I don’t think they looked like that in Shakespeare’s time, but you get my drift. Also, the guy between number 17 (Nani) and the abs, I adore your expression.

DSC_0556Football has handsome, well-dressed managers (Paul Bento) who suffer in the heat for style.

DSC_0551Football has some of the best hair you could ever want to see. On the right, beautifully full (Nélson Oliveira. In the middle, curls out of control (David Luiz). On the right, mohawk (Raul Meireles). There is something for everyone!

DSC_0577It also has players that travel faster than the speed of…my camera. :p (Hélder Postiga)

DSC_0586“Damn, she caught me.”

IMG_20130910_233609And football is nothing if not based on tradition.

And that’s without the exciting play! (That’s a lot harder to photograph. That’s all it is. Really.)

With the sport part of the trip under our belt, we set off the next morning for Amherst, Massachusetts to revisit some of Rose’s old university haunts.

20130911_101712_1But not before saying goodbye to Oliver. Who was having none of it.

Now, if you’re an American like me, you absolutely adored the film Amélie. (The French are amused at our mass infatuation with it.) Many years ago, I won a rubber duckie playing skeeball in Coney Island, and he became my travel companion, à la the garden gnome in Amélie.

P1000011Sadly, I seem to have lost Dirk somewhere in Paris when I was there in July. 🙁

I have been trying out a replacement for him, which you will see below. I’m still undecided. On the one hand, it’s a plastic cutout of my favorite player’s face (Xabi Alonso), and, so, naturally adorable. Still, he’s no Dirk. And he needs to be propped up. He can’t just sit places on his own like my Dirk. (Oh, Dirk, I hope you are happy in Paris, I miss you so!)

Anyway, back to the trip. As one must, we pulled over to the side of the road for some natural splendor.

DSC_0594

DSC_0593That’s Quabbin Reservoir in the distance.

Our first stop in Amherst was at the Lone Wolf, where Rose has fond memories of chowing down.

20130911_134815_1Xabi needed a cold glass of water.

Next stop was at Rao’s Coffee, for a really fantastic cup of Joe. We may not be university students anymore, but we still need our coffee!

20130911_141313_1Street art along the way. Can you tell it’s a university town? 😉

20130911_140601_1Xava Alonso, ladies and gentlemen. (Get it? Xabi? Java? Coffee?)

DSC_0595Amherst was quaint. And cute.

Our last stop was at UMASS Amherst itself, so we could go into the student shop for Rose.

20130911_143734_1Collegiate Xabi.

After that, we stopped off for some yummy ice cream, and that was it. Time to hit the road for good. It was really fun for me to relive Rose’s nostalgia with her, because I stayed home for college, and so I never had this experience.

I always get sad when fun things are over. I had thought it was because of the anticipation involved, but this trip had no anticipation, ha. But we had a great time on the trip home, listening to music and being dorks.

Hey, Rose, I’m ready for the next one! 😉 C’est parti!

(Please note: All photos are mine. Please do not use without permission.)

1 2