Olympus Fashion Week, Bryant Park, New York City: 10:30 am... I arrive at the volunteer trailer and change into my hideous green volunteer shirt. Would it be too much to ask that a fashion event allow its
My compatriots and I are sent to the Atelier, one of the more intimite venues, to assist backstage and front of house for the Chaiken show. Chaiken is known for its low key, but very well made classic pieces. I know I can expect a sophisticated, pared down show. But before the buyers and press arrive, there is work to be done. The runway must be repainted(!) a bright white, and each seat affixed with its proper row number. The PR staff have thankfully done most of this for us, so we retire to the sponsors section (several rows of seats where the high ups from Olympus, MAC, UPS, and our other assorted sponsors get to sit and watch the circus.)
The show is set to begin at noon. Of course, it won't. Fashion people are notorious for being late.
The models have a coltish effervescence about them, which is nearly swallowed in the huge swaths of clothe they wear. Chaiken designer Jeff Mahshie has decided this is the season to play with volume. Some of the looks succeed brilliantly, such as a grecian draped minidress in pure white, and a black shift of watered silk with a fine mesh neckline. Others were a bit stranger: a safari suit in khakhi large enough to actually fit the average American. It was worn, of course, by a teenager of vaguely Eastern European mien. The hair and makeup were very "natural beauty", which is a good thing in the fashion world. I gave Mahshie points for his decision to put the girls in gladiator flats, which were pure chic.
And then, of course, it was over, and the fashionistii were off to their next big get. The girls and I scooped up all the swag they left behind, tucking contraband WWD issues under our arms as we tidied up the detritus. It never fails to amaze me how trashed a room can get in less than 45 minutes.
The backstage crew graciously offered us cookies, since we were detailed there next. We stripped the butcher paper from the makeup and hair tables, and then relined them for the next show. Three hours after our arrival, the Atelier was as pristeen as we left it.
Olympus Fashion Week. Love.
Here are, in somewhat chronological order, my favorite people ever:
(Leave comments if you'd like to know who some of these people are. I included people of the arts, scientists, labor leaders, freedom fighters, and even a fashion designer or two. It's a highly personal list, as these are all people I relate to, admire, and in some cases, venerate.)
Gracia (Hannah) Mendes
Francois-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire
Robert Gould Shaw
Louise Michel et Elisabeth Dmitrieff
Marie Slodowska Curie, et Pierre Curie
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony
Erich Maria Remarque
Gabrielle (CoCo) Chanel
It's been five years. The world is hardlier a safer place, but I like to think we've at least learned a lesson in tolerance. Fundamentalism hurts, but perhaps something progressive and new can be born of all the pain and destruction.
When I think of the spot in earth where the towers once stood, I am saddened, because so much life was taken, and for so odious a cause: to force people to believe a certain way. That is all of fundamentalist Islam. It makes no more sense among the Muslims than it does among the Christians or among the Jews. Worse yet, it stirs up fear and leads to the loss of civil liberties in nations that would combat it. (Witness the much protested Patriot Act.)
Tolerance and compassion are the only way to fight fundamentalism, because they are its polar reverse: freedom of belief; freedom of expression. We must not sell our freedoms cheaply to keep our bodies safe. Yet neither are we free to forget the words of abolitionist orator Wendell Phillips; "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
...and since then, I've been bathing in the poem of the sea,
Milk-white, infused with stars...
I know the sky split wide by lightning, tides,
And surf, and waterspouts; I know the night,
And dawn exalted like a flock of doves...
-Arthur Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat
translation of Holly Tannen
My mind is ablaze with time and ideas. I read today that the FDA finally approved the sale of Plan B over the counter. Scientists have known of its safety for years, and finally Science has been able to trump Fundamentalism.
I am reading and besotted with the poetry of Rimbaud.
Fall semester is starting presently. Monday. Must actually get some sleep this weekend.
There is a gown on ebay that is circa 1870-1873. It is my size exactly. The torment! I would love nothing more than to swan around in a bustle gown and pretend to be back in Paris in the springtime of a certain year...
Crawling the clubs in the sparkling city... Britt and I had a fine dinner of poulet roti and rose wine at Gavroche, down on 14th Street. It was early, and we itched to be out. We were about to go into Cain, but the door boy caught Britt out for using my old id. It made me angry... more evidence of American Puritanism. We are twenty and twenty one. Too young to die, too fast to live. But that is another matter, I think. We opted for Guest House instead, but it was empty, so we finished our drinks and went down to Sushi Samba in the Village. Had a mojito and a Samba Juice, before finishing the night in the Meatpacking District. Met a pair of Canadian boys at the bar at Pastis. I was drinking wine again and I lost the memory there. Sometime hours later I woke in my own bed at the H, to find that Brit had thoughtfully placed our only trash can by the side of my bed.
I feel raggedly glamorous and a bit ill. I'm trying to work on my novella, but my head doesn't seem to agree with my hands. I keep looking at the bank statement on my dresser. I bounced a check; I think it was the rent. I get paid tomorrow, then I can pay the super. Two more checks cleared after the 1st: we overspent on furniture. I have never bounced a check before. I am not irresponsible I am not.
The cats share our malaise. Even Fresca, Britt's kitten, barely moves when I put on the nouvelle Nouvelle Vague cd, then change my mind and listen to Charles Trenet wailing 'Le Temps des Cerises.'
But I did something useful. I put it in father's head that he should take Cornelie to see Anna Netrebko singing Manon in Los Angeles. She'll be happy, my little sister, and I'll be here. Crawling nights in the city which sparkles.
Things are beginning to come together. Usually, as per the Chinua Achebe book, they fall apart. Brit, the dear roommate, is comfortably ensconced in her room. The cats are tranquil. I am warm, and have enough money for tomorrow's dinner. This is altogether eerie.
I don't know where we are going, but I'm sure it will be a diverting subway ride, at the least. I found a new band today, Nouvelle Vague. It keeps alternating in my head with La Boheme. My ipod is full, again. My heart is so full. Full of something. I want to be in love.
I lie awake and watch the ceasefire proceeding in Lebanon. The hope once cherished for a lasting peace seems as remote as ever. Peace is unprofitable. If humanity truly acts in its own self interest, is there any other explanation?
...But the darkness cannot last forever. There is some part of the human spirit which never abandons the light.Dum spiro, spero.
This was taken by my friend Frank, a photographer and man of many talents. I liked this photo especially, as it painted and portrayed me actively engaged in imagining.
Mlle Jehanne, on location at the H.
I borrowed this from Danielle, who borrowed it from Sarrina.
Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 123.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
"It was like the black seawater overtaking a crimson Titanic stateroom, as recounted in one of dad's favorite autobiographies of all time, the gripping eyewitness account "Black in My Mind, Yellow in My Legs" (1943) by Herbert J. D. Lascowitz, who finally, in his ninety-seventh year, came clear about his Machiavellian behavior aboard the legendary ocean liner, admitting he strangled an unidentified woman, stripped her body, donned her clothes in order to pretend he was a woman with child, thereby securing a choice spot for himself on one of the two remaining lifeboats."
- from "Special Topics in Calamity Physics", the first novel from my zanily talented fellow New Yorker Marisha Pessl.
Hmm. If this exercise is meant to be a fortune telling method, what does my future hold? Does this mean I will become a tragic homicidal cross-dresser? I suppose there are worse things I could be, like a Republican.
I suppose an explanation of this icon is in order. The base belongs to the very creative Jessica K. Dvorak, who photographed this lovely antique corset. This evocative miniature put me in mind of the Paris Commune, a subject on which I've been reading lately. In March of 1871, the citizens of Paris, France, declared their city a revolutionary commune, independent in jurisdiction from the rest of the nation. The Communards, as they were called, were in favor of increased rights for women and workers. One of the first acts of the Commune was to provide for free public schools in each of the arrondisements. The Commune also halted the collection of back rents and abolished night work in bakeries, freeing workers from unlivable 14 hour work days.
The Paris Commune was savagely repressed by Versaillais troops under Adolphe Thiers, who lead the attempt to recapture the city from his government's headquarters in Versaille. The people of Paris took to the streets in defense of hundreds of barricades, but they were betrayed, and Thiers' troops retook the city during La Semaine Sanglante, or the week of bloodshed, May 21-28, 1871. Upwards of 25,000 men, women and children were summarily executed by the troops.
Paris burned that week. It burns still in my heart.
Anyone who would like to know more about the Commune may do so here.
Tonight I make for the Cite again. I mean New York, not Paris. Back to l'Atelier at the H, my little flat with the felines and the actress roommate, my very dear Britt. Back to the heat and the hustle and the very New Yorkishness of it all. Back to Le Cite.