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?

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 woo-woo (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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Spheres of Manifestation

Guerlain, Meteorites, Sephora, Makeup, Illuminator

se•phi•ra ( /səˈfi(ə)rə ) : (In cabalism) each of the ten attributes or emanations surrounding the Infinite and by means of which it relates to the finite. They are represented as spheres on the Tree of Life.

Just like anything, an individual exists as a kind of nebulous ball of energy until it is formalized by some measure of observation, in a particular way.

I put on makeup every day, even though most days no one is really looking; though on the occasion that someone is looking, I am ten thousand times myself.

Guerlain, Meteorites, Makeup, Sephora, Sepiroth, Sephira

Guerlain Météorites – Light Revealing Pearls in (2) – Clair; $60, at Sephora.

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Infinite Returns

R136, Hubble, Stellar Grouping, NASA

Bored of my own voice and consumed by a city drowning in a series of natural and personal disasters, I haven’t written for this site since Hurricane Sandy.

Which would have been the autumn of 2012.

Many lifetimes have come and gone since then, and only recently did I really begin to entertain the idea of “firing it back up,” as it were.

So here we are.

I’m not really satisfied with anything I published here prior, but I refuse to take it down because it happened.  So you may read what came before, if you like.  Or not.

Regardless, after all things, one persistent fact remains, one persistent fact alone:

Onwards we march, into the future.

R136 Stellar Grouping, image courtesy of NASA

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The Little Apocrypha

Jennifer Blair, Jen Blair, Solaris, Madewell, Nasty Gall, Little Black Dress, Space, Change Machine

 “We have no need for other worlds.  We need mirrors.  We are only seeking man.”

- Stanislaw Lem, Solaris; “The Little Apocrpyha.”

This isn’t a calculated outfit at all; I simply put on this black dress with this t-shirt and liked the necklines together, so I took pictures.  Clearly, this is what one wears when kicking back on the spaceship, while orbiting Solaris.

(Solaris, in its triptych of forms, is probably my favorite work of science fiction.  I am reminded of it all the time – the light in a room, an outfit.  An attempt to communicate with a man.)

I can’t say anything about alien life.  Insofar as my fellow humans are concerned, however, it has always been my firm belief that any attempt to communicate genuinely to your fellow beings – and to permit oneself the freedom to be affected in turn – is one of the most transcendent and valiant acts a person may undertake.

But what do I know of the transcendent, besides the compass of my own heart – which betrays me, with some reliability.  As the hearts of others betray me, too.  No matter, though; despite the fact that I try to keep one finger firmly on the pulse of unconditional love, I suppose it’s always possible:

“In his endless search for truth, man is condemned to knowledge; everything else is bullshit.”

- Tarkovsky

Jennifer Blair, Jen Blair, Solaris, Madewell, Nasty Gall, Little Black Dress, Space, Change MachineJennifer Blair, Jen Blair, Solaris, Madewell, Nasty Gall, Little Black Dress, Space, Change MachineShirt, Madewell.  Dress, Cheap Monday at Nasty Gal. 

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