On Censorship

Censorship – that is to say, obfuscation, a corruption or removal of information – is schmutz on the lens of the Universe, and a genuine, quantifiable evil. To take a life is also a censorship; to do so removes information from Nature and is therefore a crime against it. The Universe strives only to perpetuate itself, to share its limitless essentiality along all channels and vessels of matter; if we are to call this information by any name, let it be “Light,” and if we are to call the channel by any word, let it be Love. Love will always prevail, as it is the means by which the World goes, and Nature – with unflinching certainty – will always show us the way.

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On Time

Albrecht Dürer, Time, Fox, Wheel of Fortune, Change Machine

New Year’s Eve 2014

The task of reflecting upon a year is, in many ways, an individual one. Today I feel compelled to do so, in whatever way, in hopes that you (if you are reading) might find some seed of meaning to set root in your own field of thought, so that we may achieve (if such things are possible) a more common one.

After all, I may not speak to your experience, only to my own; some of you have had an excellent year, and some of you a crummy one, and in my own reflection I do not presume or judge.

For myself, of course, it has been a funny old year, remarkable and challenging:

I would not trade it, nor would I repeat it, and as we light our yearly vigil into the next I am reminded to keep my eyes level, and to tread with care on the path ahead:

After a few turns around the sun, I know just enough to maintain hope but no real expectation of a better one.

I would by no stretch of the imagination call myself a “nihilist,” but I also do not subscribe to any cold-comfort philosophy of “silver linings;” after all, by all outward appearances, the Universe does not give a flying fuck about being fair.  Rather, the Universe appears to be interested, simply, in righting its own energy, if it is interested in anything at all. This may occur for the “best” and it may occur for the “worst;” but for every disturbance that opens up along its course, the Universe will always (it seems) rush in with something to fill it.

The current may drown a man, or it may carry him to shore; but regardless of the outcome, it seems folly to ignore this thing of a deeper “Balance” as a probable and compelling idea (if not an unflinching natural law).

For myself, it has (in many ways) been a very difficult string of several years – years that have amounted, in essence, to a fallow field. And yet, in the damp darkness all around there is of course life – life hidden and tenacious, scrabbling ever upwards towards the surface:

In spite of all difficulty this year (which I will not detail here, for its specific nature isn’t the point), I have been privileged to have my family with me; I have been fortunate to have had few genuinely transcendent creative experiences; and I have been blessed to live this rare and excellent life I live, here in this Great City.  And I find that even the deepest gloom of the Void is suffused through and through with what are nothing less than the friendships and romances of a lifetime.

Friends, if you too find the current has carried you into a deeper darkness, I urge you: do not flinch, but rather peer into it until it begins to swim and count every secret blessing:

If you are lucky enough to lie down next to your beloved each night, be grateful. If the Wheel of Fortune yet affords you the chance to wake up in the morning and look upon your family and friends, be glad.

And remember always to pay homage to Balance:

The path to Heaven may indeed be paved with sapphires, but it is also paved with blood; for, to paraphrase a wise man, that which lies within us is also the stuff and substance of every star.

There is no solace in the Universe besides the ever-advancing and (seemingly) infinite passage of Time – to which we are all together subject, illusion though it may be.

And remember your fellows always and now, as we gather together at this liminal hour on this liminal day and dip our goblets to drink, in effigy, from the Fountainhead:

If my glass is full it is because you have filled it;

And I always drink to you.

Image: Time and a Fox Turning the Wheel of Fortune with People of All Ranks to the Right by Albrecht Dürer.

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#occupybergdorfs – If That Diamond Ring is Brass/Daddy’s Gonna Buy You A Childhood of Neglect and Shame

Welcome to #occupybergdorfs, a weekly ruination of the absolute worst that the world of fashion has to offer. Each week, we’ll bring you a new eyesore, and break down exactly what makes this particular outfit “WTF”-worthy. A partnership between Change Machine (Jen Blair) and Super Roller Disco Monkey Hullabaloo (John Jarzemsky), #occupybergdorfs is dedicated to giving you that extra dose of schadenfreude you so desperately need to get you through the week.

Without further ado, may we present…


Moncler Enfant Fragon

Price: $775.00 at Moncler

Who would wear this?

Jen: Jay-Z’s kids; other kids at Jay-Z’s kids’ elite TriBeCa preschool, whose parents feel compelled to keep up; Mini-Me, whilst hatching a cunning plan in the Swiss Alps.

John: Any time that your toddler isn’t liable to piss, poop, vomit, or spill something all over the $700 jacket you bought them for some unfathomable reason, so never. Or maybe that’s kind of the point, like the guys who buy Air Jordans just to piss in them (note: actually a thing).

Worst time to wear this?

Jen: While your toddler is doing any of the things that toddlers do: playing, drooling, eating messy food, touching other germ-carrying children or handling animals, dirt, and filth on the street.

Who (if anybody) can pull this off?

John: I personally think it would look best whilst worn by an adult performance artist, but that’s just me.

Is it fashionable?

Jen: Opinions on Moncler coats are mixed; I have some friends who shun them as a staple of the douchebag trust fund set, but in places like New York and Chicago a puffer coat is an admitted wintertime necessity and I admit I would very much like to obtain a full-sized one for myself.  I cop to the fact that I had a big fat rabbit fur coat as a five-year-old in the 80’s, which I wore everywhere; if I were a five-year-old today, I would adore this.

Is it fairly priced?

John: It might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the other stuff we’ve featured here, but spending $700 on somebody who can’t even spell seems like a waste of money. That’s why I never took my high school girlfriend out to dinner, HEY-O!

What do you wear with this?

Jen: Round out the look with a matching Moncler knit chin-strap skullcap, and the quiet confidence that comes with a lifetime of knowing your parents will buy your way into the Ivy League.

What would be a better use for the cash?

John: Given that we’re talking about shopping for goddamn babies, do what any reasonable person does and dress them in hand-me-downs and diapers (or whatever stuff you’ve been gifted at the showers you’ve probably been obnoxiously planning on Facebook ever since you missed your period). You can buy an economy pack of 162 on Amazon for around $50 with shipping, so that’s about 2,268 diapers, which I assume will keep your child’s butt clean for a month or so.

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Transitory Charms

Thea Grant, MTA, MTA Token, Subway Token, NYC Subway TokenConsider how many times this coin has traveled up and down the length of Manhattan Island and its associated boroughs, carrying the citizens of the Big Apple in great looping fashion along the tracks of their lives:

To work.  To drink.  To fuck.  To sleep.

50 million copies of the “Large Y” variety subway token were minted by the MTA between 1970 and 1980; today, a handful of them have marked a long and winding course to the hands of Brooklyn artist Thea Grant, who transforms them into necklaces and earrings and things so the modern New Yorker (or New York enthusiast) might continue to enjoy them readily.

Someone stick one under my tongue when I die, so that I may always find my way back across the Hudson, to the City.

NYC, NYC Subway Token, MTA Subway Token, MTA, Large Y Subway Token, Thea Grant

NYC Subway Token Necklace, Thea Grant at the Brooklyn Flea.

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The Brave and the Fair

Vasilisa, Vasilisa the Beautiful, ASOS

“‘Don’t be frightened, Vasilisa, and do not be sad, for the morning is wiser than the evening.'”

Василиса Прекрасная (Vasilisa the Beautiful)

I’ve been giving quite a lot of consideration to the fairy tale Russian-ness of the Dolce & Gabbana F/W ’14 collection, and have become determined to find a long, flowy autumnal dress or three to wear with my favorite merlot-red fox fur.

As I lack a sufficient pile of dragon-gold to purchase a D&G, I found this reasonable facsimile at ASOS that does quite nicely.  Perfect for bounding through a Baltic wheat field (or, more likely for the hardened New Yorker, a beer garden).

Paired here with the aforementioned fox fur and an Anna Sui straw kitten hat from god knows how many seasons ago, purchased at an obscene bargain-basement markdown at the Outnet end-of-summer sale.  (If you’re wondering whether I actually intend to wear this out on the street, I absolutely do; I’ll probably do it more simply, with a nice blazer and denim, and probably on days when I’m feeling little bit down because it’s the type of thing that requires a certain confidence in order to pull off – so I’ll put it on, and set myself the task of living up.)

Whether I will encounter Baba Yaga like Vasilisa the Brave, I do not know; but I am sure there’s a mean old lady somewhere out there on the Lower East Side, one who carries all of her belongings with her in a shopping cart festooned with chicken bones and who looks like she might willingly eat small children.

Dare me to walk up to her with a pack of smokes, and ask her for a light.

Vasilisa the Brave, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vasilisa, Jennifer Blair, Anna Sui, Anna Sui Kitten Hat, ASOS

Vasilisa the Brave, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vasilisa, ASOS, Anna Sui, Anna Sui Kitten Hat

Dress, ASOS; Kitten Hat, Anna Sui; Fur, anonymous midtown Manhattan sample sale. 

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#occupybergdorfs: If It’s Money You Want, I Can Tell You That I Have Plenty

Welcome to #occupybergdorfs, a weekly ruination of the absolute worst that the world of fashion has to offer. Each week, we’ll bring you a new eyesore, and break down exactly what makes this particular outfit “WTF”-worthy. A partnership between Change Machine (Jen Blair) and Super Roller Disco Monkey Hullabaloo (John Jarzemsky), #occupybergdorfs is dedicated to giving you that extra dose of schadenfreude you so desperately need to get you through the week.

Without further ado, may we present…

occupybergdorfs, Occupy BergdorfsGivenchy Basketball Wool Sweatshirt & Wide-Leg Trousers with Basketball Taping

Price:  $4,465 at Bergdorf Goodman

Who would wear this?

John: An anonymous extra from Taken, or some other Luc Besson-produced film in which vaguely sinister Eurotrash thugs are dispatched with ruthless efficiency by Liam Neeson.

Best time to wear this?  

Jen: A brisk morning jog on The Grid.

Worst time to wear this?

John: When actually playing basketball, or when trying to flee from Liam Neeson on a dirt bike whilst emptying an uzi over your shoulder.

Who (if anybody) can pull this off?

Jen: A young Jonny Lee Miller; an order of basketball-playing space monks in The Fifth Element 2 – The Sixth Element; wealthy transhumanist libertarians living in isolated self-sustaining eco luxury house-pods in the Pacific Northwest.

Is it fashionable?

John: They’re going for some sort of streetwear vibe, which is definitely getting more popular, especially in NYC, but the bagginess seems like a throwback to the 90s.

Is it fairly priced?

Jen: Compared to other geek-chic luxuries (like a trip to the space station), the outfit is a relative steal.

What do you wear with this?

John: A giant foam-rubber basketball head to entice wild basketballs into mating with you.

What would be a better use for the cash?

Jen: The individual responsible for this travesty was clearly utilizing a mere 10% of his brain when he sat down to conceptualize the design; why not celebrate that idea and treat yourself and 222 of your closest friends to the latest Luc Besson cinematic train wreck at your local multiplex.  Or, if you prefer quality over quantity, four MacBook Airs.

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#occupybergdorfs: Barbarella’s Mortgage

Welcome to #occupybergdorfs, a weekly ruination of the absolute worst that the world of fashion has to offer. Each week, we’ll bring you a new eyesore, and break down exactly what makes this particular outfit “WTF”-worthy. A partnership between Change Machine (Jen Blair) and Super Roller Disco Monkey Hullabaloo (John Jarzemsky), #occupybergdorfs is dedicated to giving you that extra dose of schadenfreude you so desperately need to get you through the week.

 Without further ado, may we present…

Marc Jacobs, Occupy Berdorfs, occupybergdorfs


Marc Jacobs Wool Sequin Wave 3/4 Sleeve Tunic & Flared-Leg Pants

Price: $13,400.00 at Bergdorf Goodman

Who would wear this? 

Jen:  London trust-fund socialites.  Wannabe London trust-fund socialites.  David Bowie.

Best time to wear this?  

John: If you were going to a space-themed costume party hosted by snooty rich assholes who would judge you if your outfit didn’t cost almost as much as the down payment on a house.

Worst time to wear this?

Jen: Casual lunches, daytime errand-running, meeting the future in-laws. Unless your future in-law is David Bowie.

Who (if anybody) can pull this off?

John: Someone like Stevie Nicks or Cher, or maybe the ghost of Liberace.

Is it fashionable?

Jen: For better or worse, printed pants are definitely having a moment.

Is it fairly priced?

John: …No. Women’s clothing, from my understanding, is usually heinously overpriced, especially when compared to men’s, but $13k for one outfit made of something other than baby-skin and diamonds should be cause for outrage.

What would you wear with this?

Jen: Statement platforms and a ray gun.

What would be a better use for the cash?

John: Well, $13k would pay the rent on a pretty decent room in Brooklyn for a year or so, but you could also spoil yourself with a slightly used mid-size sedan, or approximately 26,000 tacos from Jack in the Box.

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The Flood


The Worst Rain Shoes in the World, I’ve discovered, are a pair of flat black pointed-toe leather slingbacks, purchased for $40 from Zara so that I might have some cheap (yet stylish) commuter flats for casually beating around the city.

It is with a glimmer of trepidation that I put them on in the morning, as rain is in the forecast and I am unsure of how they might fare in a downpour.  But they’re comfortable, elegant, and look rather good with my outfit, and so I squelch that particular upwelling of doubt and wear them into the world regardless.

Around 2:30 in the afternoon I’m walking up 5th Avenue, enjoying the scent of air-conditioned retail and incense from St. Patrick’s.  A grey haze hangs over the city, and a few fat raindrops are beginning to fall; I think briefly about ducking into Saks in the event it starts coming down with any enthusiasm, but that’s a potentially expensive wormhole to uncap and so I squelch that instinct, too.

How stupid of me, I soon realize:

By the time I reach 55th St., it’s really pissing down.  I’ve remembered to bring an umbrella, but my feet are so wet that the slingback straps slither down the backs of my heels and the shoes slip off with every step.  I hobble along, stubbornly; all the cabs are full and I want only to make it to the train, and avoid the lonely, boring, mobile-phone-draining fate of cowering in a vestibule for the rest of the afternoon.

Five minutes later I’m standing in Louis Vuitton, and everyone is staring at me because I’m hopping about like a wet cat trying to dry my feet instead of buying anything.  The thought occurs that I could simply purchase new shoes, but for the cost of a pair of LV galoshes (or some equivalent from Bergdorf’s, inconveniently located a million-billion slippery footsteps across the avenue) I could purchase a round-trip plane ticket to somewhere nice.  Like Iceland, where I could climb elf hills under the aurora and swim in the Blue Lagoon.

The rain continues.  There is nothing to be done for it all besides scream into the Aether (and I need something to do with my hands, besides), so I pull out my pocket computer and post about my predicament on Facebook.  A friend suggests that I might dispense with the shoes, and I shudder in agreement; my feet are already soaked with the slime of the Metropolis, and anything untoward that might trickle into my pores as a result is already well on its way to doing so.

I peer out through the double glass doors and into the monsoon, where tourists pitter-patter up and down the sidewalk in flip-flops and ballet flats.  How heartily they cling to the illusion that those thin strips of leather and foam protect them from invisible horrors, pitter-patter-pitter-pattering in blissful ignorance, and all the while the filth continues to ooze in of its own accord.  Seeping between their toes.

A contaminant.  A stain.  A slowly bleeding sorrow.

But even worse than actual filth is the blight on perception, that smudgy spot at the corner of the eye of the soul that fools them into believing it’s a good idea to take flight by modern miracle to New York, that Holy City, the New Byzantium that stands at the mouth of the Great River, and do nothing more with that supreme privilege besides gawk at WICKED billboards and buy bad jeans at Abercrombie.

Veils of Illusion be damned.  I whip off my flats and head into the deluge; an old Italian guy gives me a slowly-winding side-eye when he sees my bare feet, and I counter with a glare as I descend into the 5th Avenue/59th St. NQR train like Ishtar to the goddamned Underworld.

Two steps down I stop.  A cascade of rain pours into the subway hole and pools on the platform below, where a doe-eyed 5-year-old girl stands ankle-deep, clinging to her mother’s hand.  And a grim vision glows up at me from beneath the water:

After all, not a hell of a lot of time has passed since it Actually Happened, and who are we to think that it might never Happen Again.  There before me is a shade from two Novembers ago:

A ghostly, will-o-the-wisp rendition of the city, drowned.

I slip on my shoes and form crescent horns with my index and pinkie fingers behind my back, an old superstitious (and admittedly OCD) gesture I sometimes do with the intention to ward off bad juju.  And I forgive my delusional brethren out on the avenue, for it’s a fine fucking line between delusion and hope.

Though I do very much hope it is within our power and wherewithal to properly brace ourselves against once and future catastrophe.

Gothamist advises a rainy week; Hurricane Evac Zone Maps hang on display in every train, unheard of in the days of yore.  In both short and long term, it appears the time is nigh to prepare:

Campaign to build floodgates and pumping stations around the island. Purchase a solar-powered charging strip.  Buy more high-water boots.  (Rag & Bone makes some nice ones, perfect for shorter ladies with skinny calves like myself; I for one will be sticking to wellies the rest of the week.)

I wind my way down to the platform, and the specter fades, leaving only one word:


A good rain washes away everything, after all.

I pop in my earbuds, and stand clear of the closing doors.

NYC, New York, 5th Avenue

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Either / Or

Schrödinger, Schrodinger, Schrödinger's Cat, Schrodinger's Cat, Earrings, Jewelry, 3D printer, 3D printed, geek

“Perhaps I am his hope.  But then she is his present.  And if she is his present, then I am not his present.  Therefore, I am not, and I wonder why no-one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me.  For I am utterly collapsed.”

– Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

 3D-printed  Schrödinger equation earrings, Stark060 on Etsy

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