Wednesday, August 27, 2014

bill cunningham new york

I know I'm 5 years late, but I watched Bill Cunningham New York last night and felt all sorts of inspiration. Before there was Scott Schuman or Tommy Ton, there was Bill. Currently he still works as a fashion photographer for the Style section in The New York Times and does weekly videos in which he commentates on current trends for the website. I loved watching this documentary because I am so impressed at how fashion photography, particularly street style, has evolved. With Instagram and Tumblr, everyone is a street style photographer, but Bill was the original. I watched a few of his recent videos and I was so impressed at how he could cite a 1950s Dior show as the inspiration for a 23-year-old's dress choice.

This documentary is funny, heart-warming and has lots of fashion gods and goddesses and all of them worship Bill and his work. Interviews with Anna Wintour, Iris Apfel and Anna Piaggi were scattered throughout footage of Bill shooting anyone and everyone on the streets of New York. I love that Anna Wintour considers it "death" to not be photographed by a quirky old man in a bright blue jacket. I don't know how Bill is in real life, but he seems like a great pal to have. You could also tell that photography is the greatest love of is life and all he really wants to do during his days and nights.  He has this incredible eye that manages to capture the chicest humans in such a monstrous city. All I know is if I ever made it onto Bill's camera lens and heaven forbid his Style section, I would surely cease to exist.
Finally, I struggle with loving fashion and wanting to spend my life in it because of how worldly and materialistic the industry is. Even working at J.Crew, I feel as though I will never have enough or the right or the chicest clothes. I do believe there is a certain frivolity and worldliness about fashion that I probably don't need in my life, but there's also a sense of magic and beauty to it which no other art form can take the place of for me. It truly is a hunger that envelopes me when I scroll through pages of Style.com during fashion weeks or the New York Times fashion Instagram or idly flipping through Vogue at the grocery store. My hunger was fed a little bit after watching Bill Cunningham New York and he expressed so perfectly how I feel about fashion and clothes:

"The wider world perceives fashion as frivolity that should be done away with. The point is that fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don't think you can do away with it, it would be like doing away with civilization."

All hail King Bill.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"I pity everyone who has not known you."



The flowers aren't mine, but I was too lazy to take pictures of the books I want to tell you to read. They are both by Andrew Sean Greer and they are called The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli. I have to tell you these are not the greatest books I've ever read in my life and I usually think that about the books I choose to write about. But within these two books is some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read in my life. 
The Story of a Marriage is exactly what the title entails and takes place post World War 2 in San Francisco. The Confessions of Max Tivoli is essentially The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with an emphasis on Max Tivoli's love life. Both are tragic so naturally I was drawn to them. Andrew Sean Greer is also the kind of author where once you read a couple of his books, you've read them all (cough cough Murakami cough). But let me just share some of the lines and passages that made me fall to the floor:
(from Marriage)

We think we know the ones we love, and though we should not be surprised to find that we don't, it is heartbreak nonetheless. It is the hardest kind of knowledge, not just about another but about ourselves. To see our lives as a fiction we have written and believed.

*
I do not know what joins the parts of an atom, but it seems what binds one human to another is pain.

*
This one cut me to the core:
There is no good explanation for why loves compels this of us: that we must seek out and witness the very scenes that would destroy us.

Send help please.
*
Perhaps love is a minor madness. And as with madness, it is unendurable alone. The one person who can relieve us is of course the sole person we cannot go: the one we love. So instead we seek out allies, even among strangers and wives, fellow patients who, if they can't touch the edge of our particular sorrow, have felt something that cuts nearly as deep.

Shout out to mah gurlzzz with that one^

(from Max Tivoli)

We are each the love of someone's life

This was literally the first line of the book and I was ded.
*

We have no heart at seventeen. We think we do; we think we have been cursed with a holy, bloated thing that twitches at the name we adore, but it is not a heart because though it will forfeit anything in the world- the mind, the body, the future, even the last lonely hour it has- it will not sacrifice itself. It is not a heart, at seventeen.

*

I pity everyone who has not known you.

SAME^
So again, don't judge me if you read these books and think they are lame with a capital L. I found myself thinking the same things occasionally while reading them myself, but then I was stopped with passages like the ones above and I sang praises to Mr. Greer for looking into my soul.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

i don't recall a single care, just greenery and humid air

We had a very artistic and beautiful weekend starting with an Iron & Wine and Death Cab for Cutie concert on Friday night. When Preston found the tickets, it was literally days after I had lamented that I had never seen Death Cab for Cutie and wanted so badly to see them. We sat on the lawn on a surprisingly cool evening and enjoyed the beautiful sounds of Sam and Ben. Iron & Wine is our favorite band and it's always a treat to see them perform. This time it was just Sam and his guitar and I couldn't have asked for a better set list.

^DCFC
The venue was the Gexa Energy Pavilion, which is where I saw the Jonas Brothers almost a year ago to the day. This time I was not sitting with high school strangers, but my sweet husband. Death Cab for Cutie was fantastic. My middle school and high school years are defined by Transatlanticism and Plans. I wrote an album review for my high school paper for Plans and listened to "Someday You Will Be Loved" on repeat for hours after breaking up with my boyfriend. There were a lot of feelings during Death Cab's performance and I cried steadily through "I Will Follow You Into the Dark." It was also cool to be in attendance for one of Chris Walla's final shows. I loved this night and highly suggest seeing both artists in concert if they're ever in your area.
^Me on the way to the theatre.
On Sunday, Preston surprised me with tickets to see the final performance of Les Mis at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre downtown. I'm not a big musical person, but I'm very fond of everything about Les Mis from the score to the story (which I read last year and it was SO LONG.) I've never seen a real theater company perform it, so I was excited to see the show. This version was done in a contemporary style, which pretty much meant the costumes were not from the French 1700s. I'll be honest, I didn't really like the contemporary twist. I wanted to see French Revolution rags, not SWAT team uniforms (the guards/military all looked like straight up SWAT. it was awful). But the actors were fabulous and Jean Valjean was incredible and of course I cried. To love another person is to see the face of God?? COME ON. I can't not.

I had a great time seeing my favorite bands and musical this past weekend and am happy to share the same music taste as Preston.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

marching powder

I finished this book last week and was hooked from start to finish. Marching Powder is about one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bolivia, the San Pedro prison. Yes, I said that right. Men and women from all over the world travel to witness and even stay in the world's most bizarre prison. Within its walls is an economy more stable than the country of Bolivia itself. Told by an actual tourist who voluntarily lived in the prison for 3 months to write this book, Marching Powder is an accunt of Thomas McFadden's life in San Pedro, from the moment he was arrested to his release.

McFadden was arrested for attempting to smuggle 5 kilos of cocaine out of Bolivia. He lands himself in San Pedro prison and nearly dies, without the help of a fellow inmate. While in San Pedro he learns that money rules everything and that with the right amount, you can live pretty comfortably. It was not uncommon for women and children to live with their husbands and fathers in jail. If you had enough money, you could live much better than many of the free citizens in Bolivia in San Pedro. Thomas McFadden unofficially becomes the prison tour guide and entertains and amazes men and women from all over the world with his stories and notorious prison parties.

This book is not the most eloquently written, but the subject matter is so unbelievable and fascinating, it made up for its lack of articulation. This was probably one of my favorite nonfiction books I've read this summer and in my life and another one that will make a great movie someday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

where'd you go, bernadette?

I've seen this book cover a dozen times, mostly in airports and fashion magazines and wrote it off as fluffy chick lit. I think you could still classify it as chick lit, but not fluffy. It's fluffy in the sense that it's incredibly easy to read, based on the fact that I started it today at 1:30 PM and finished 15 minutes ago. Despite its cute cover and girly book club stamp of approval, the characters are much more complex than a Nicholas Sparks novel and the writing was incredibly witty and hilarious. I really enjoyed Where'd You Go Bernadette and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a light, funny and smart read.

WYGB takes place in Seattle, Washington and tells the story of Bernadette Fox, ex-architect, and her husband Elgin Branch and daughter, Bee Branch. Bernadette is drudgingly living the life of a Microsoft wife, which despite her distaste for it, is a pretty cushy, comfortable sounding life in rainy Seattle. She sends her gifted daughter to an expensive private school where Bee shines, but Bernadette is excluded by the Galer Street mothers who she lovingly refers to as 'gnats.' Amidst extravagant plans to take a family trip to Antarctica as a reward to Bee for perfect grades, Bernadette disappears. This book tells the mystery of her disappearance and the events in her life, past and present, that lead up to it. 

Told through emails, letters, invoices and short narratives from Bee, WYGB is a quick read. I also felt personal connections to the story because it takes place in the Pacific Northwest, where Preston is from and where he has openly expressed he wishes to live. He never misses a chance to remind me how lovely the summers are in Seattle or Vancouver any time I complain about the Texas heat, to which I argue that I know about the rain. Bernadette hates Seattle and makes fun of everything about the city, especially its citizens need to discuss the never-changing weather. "Can you believe the weather?" "Actually I can believe the weather." Bernadette is also a former architect whose previous projects included pioneering the green architecture movement in LA and the famous Getty Center- places I've just visited and another interest of my husband. (Preston used to want to be an architect for a long time and is still interested in working with sustainable living solutions and he is also obsessed with the Getty.) Finally, I work at a very fancy mall and when I envisioned the mothers of Galer Street, I couldn't help but imagine my own J.Crew Northpark customers. In addition to my personal connections to the setting and characters, I laughed quite a bit in this book. Out loud. Maria Semple has written for Ellen and Arrested Development, so it wasn't a shock that she had me laughing at Bernadette's laments of Seattle and Microsoft or her feisty dialogue with PTA nemeses. I'm 97% certain this will be made into a movie because it's just one of those books begging for it. Here's an excerpt of my favorite paragraph:

"Don't turn all Jesus on me."
I ignored her and threw my head back. Maybe that's what religion is hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take are of you and carry you to the right place. I don't know if it's possible to feel everything all at once, so much that you think you're going to burst...I felt so full of love for everything. But at the same time, I felt so hung out to dry there, like nobody could ever understand. I felt so alone int his world, and so loved at the same time.

Oh to be 15 again.

Anyway, summer isn't over yet so here's an excuse to spend the afternoon at the pool. I guarantee you it won't take more than few pool sessions to finish this fun and clever read.