Monday, May 2, 2011

On the Tails of Bin Laden.

Being in New York, I couldn’t not go down there. On the heels of Obama’s national address, something stirred inside of me. Tears for the unnamed, for those I never knew.
A man was killed today, and we celebrate. An act of both justice and as Kristof suggests, deterrence. Somehow I can’t find it in myself to buoyantly celebrate the death of a man, no matter how heinous the crime(s). And yet, I find myself relieved. Have we returned to the code of Hammurabi? I know it’s not that simple.
Justice. Deterrence.
It’s a madhouse at Ground Zero. Cars are honking, flags are waving, the crowd is cheering. Chants of ‘USA!’ prevail, with variations of ‘Yes we can!’ and ‘Yes we did!’ thrown in for good measure. The mood: jubilant. Obnoxious at times, what with the drunken revelers, but mostly celebratory. An overwhelming sense of pride ripples.
I’m for the most part, overwhelmed. Silent & observing, it’s with mixed feelings I find myself playing the role of citizen journalist. I’m sombre. Sober. Except to crack a smile upon hearing “na na na hey hey goodbye.”
There were those who once cheered when the twin towers fell.
And now there are those who pop champagne in the streets when a man is killed.

This worries me.
Two people drape a flag at Ground Zero out of respect. A reporter approaches the man for an interview, and he declines. My heart is warmed. In memoriam.
A firefighter reflects.
I’m more moved at the sight of this, than by the 30 minutes of revelry I have just witnessed. At a distance, I pray for him and the friends he must have lost. And then I head back.
Two attendants sit in the Cortland ticketing box. A woman sweeps the subway floor. A homeless person sleeps on the Queens bound N train. A rat scurries across the 34th Street platform.
And life goes on.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Say Hello to Vintage.

Since I started this asmallishbackpack project, I’ve been looking for different ways to be have fun, while saving money. It used to be such that if I had a free day, I would either mosey on over to Central Park or go shopping, the latter which often resulted in consequences that I now need to be more wary of. I didn’t quite feel like Central Park this weekend, so I figured I’d try something a little different.
Like film festivals. Just yesterday, I went rendevous-ing with French cinema at the Lincoln Center. A friend from work had invited me last minute, and so we went to go see Isabelle Czajka’s Living on Love Alone (D’amour et d’eau fraîche). Shot with that soft hazy lighting reminiscent of a summer in Provence (or what I imagine it to be, anyway) clad in Isabel Marant, this film was pretty decent. Anaïs Demoustier was simply captivating as the lead, Julie Bataille. 
Today, I thought I’d switch it up a bit. They say to quit something cold turkey is oftentimes the least effective of methods, so I decided to go vintage shopping in Lower East Side (LES). Cost efficient and fun!
I’d be lying if I said my LES-bound intention was purely to vintage shop. During my last trip to SF, my friend Andrew had raved about one Doughnut Plant, where the lines are out the door and the seats are festive:
“Donuts!” I had scoffed. “Not a fan.” But eat my words I did. And 2-3 doughnuts while I was at it, including this PB&J:
And then off to pick up two more watch straps for my beloved dedegumo watch.
This watch store is an absolute gem, complete with a workshop up front, where the Japanese artisans make the magic happen.
And then I got to my task at hand: vintage shopping. Which inevitably ended up as shoe shopping. Things I look for in a vintage or consignment shop: shoe & bag selection, cuts vs. labels, cleanliness. I suppose I’m not a true vintage shopper, given that I do look for a degree of cleanliness before rifling through racks of bohemian skirts. But I also don’t believe in the Decades type of vintage shops that demand $2386 for a wrap dress from the 70′s. Now that’s just ridiculous. (But still fun to browse.)
I love vintage/consignment shopping, as you never know what you’ll find. A month and a half ago, I found a steal of an ensemble – a Lanvin dress & Jimmy Choo pumps – that I picked up just in time for my college roommate’s wedding. The total damage? Less than, say, a DVF dress at Bloomingdale’s. Like I said, you never know what you’ll find – you just need to be looking in the right places. And while I had my go-to’s in San Francisco, it’s time I scoped out the NYC scene.
Wandering down Orchard St., I came across an expansive storefront (well, expansive, as far as LES goes). Upon wandering into the store, I was greeted with shoes galore. Round tables of 80′s inspired shoes, including these lovely huarache sandal wedges which were unfortunately one size too large:
But I did support the local economy and leave with a kicky pair of cobalt blue heels. Say hello to my new shoes:
Some notable stores in the LES:
  • Daha – Go for the eclectic shoe selection ($60-90 range) & abundance of vintage boots ($100-200). Affordable too! Lots of Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags from the 80′s, if you’re into that.
  • Edith Machinist – Again, great shoes & fun vintage bags. You can almost see the ripple effects caused by the drawstring pouch/backpacks and Chanel chain straps in their collection of handbags. The selection is better curated than Daha, but it’s also more expensive.
  • Some Odd Rubies – Reworked garments made from vintage fabrics. Shapes are given a modernized twist, while still retaining the draping and feel of eras past.
  • PPF Consignment – More consignment than vintage. Worth checking out if you’re scouting labels.
  • Ellen – Cute, non-descript shore on Ludlow neighboring a ramen shop. As one Yelper describes: “where designers like Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors shop for those pieces that inspire entire collections.”
  • dedegumo – Not so much vintage, as it is artisanal. Maker of the coolest watches around. I cannot sing their praises enough. You have to just see for yourself.
Of course all that walking around makes for an appetite. And what lies at the end of Ludlow St., oh-so-conveniently on my way back to the 2nd Ave. subway station? Il Laboratorio Del Gelato! (Oh, and some deli named Katz’s too.) I wasn’t the fondest of black sesame, though it seems to be the It flavor, but malt was delicious.
Two pairs of vintage heels that have personality, for less than what I would’ve paid for a generic overpriced pair at some department store. And more funds allocated towards disaster relief to boot. Never thought to correlate vintage and donuts with disaster relief, but hey, inspiration comes from all around.