Sunday, April 20, 2008

Diets Don't Work

After staying home from school for a good three days last week thanks to the mighty mighty stomach bug, I found myself with something fantastic in my possession: a school camera.

Ladies and gentlemen, what a dangerous thing that is.

Behold: Dieting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All's Unfair When Film Means War

Photo by Puja Parakh

Someone very famous once said that in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. I feel as though today I've been gipped since I only get to stand up here for about thirty seconds.

That phrase, ladies and gentlemen, was the perfectly sculpted sentence that kept running through my head as though on a treadmill. As soon as I entered the less-than-adequate Duncan Theatre, the backdrop for our harrowing tale, it occurred to me that in case of emergency I had to have something extraordinary to say.

That was all that came to me.

I kept running it through my head, working out every noun, verb, and preposition. I switched it up, changed it around, made sure that it was phenomenal. Perfect. Quotable, at best.

According to an e-mail by the Palm Beach County film & television commission, I would need something quotable for when I stood up, hopped on stage, and accepted my part of a $2,000 check for the Palm Beach Film Festival's Audience Award.

I never needed it.

We arrived at the Duncan Theatre around 9:45, ten minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to start. Instead, we stood in the blistering South Florida heat for just under and hour. A glorified red carpet was rolled out, partially just to make the event seem more official and partially because organizers believed this event really was official. It descended the theatre stairs with a majestic grace, slowly fluttering off into concrete and cement towards the end. That tail piece of velvet glory, perfectly trimmed and hemmed, was protected by velvet ropes and official-looking guards. A woman with a blue-tooth headset and a clipboard patrolled avidly, occasionally muttering something to herself and checking The List. It was the first time I had ever seen such a thing, a red ribbon of hope, promise and fame, and I suddenly felt filled with such an overpowering love of my industry. Film, it seemed, had regained its glory. It wasn't just child's play anymore as my major had made it seem, but instead it was something sparkling. Glistening. Crystalized and bubbly. Film was a perfected art, pioneered by artisans and 16mm cowboys. It was more than just a camera, a story-board, and an apathetic gaggle of kids. It was art again.

I stumbled towards the velvet ropes, noting the folks crowded around it. A local arts and culture newspaper columnist scratched down notes on a flip-pad. A band of media junkies waved around cameras and recorded the procession. I felt like a kid in a candy store, finally being recognized for my blood, sweat and tears. Finally getting more gratification that a pat on the back and an entry into the school's all too disappointing showcase could never give me. This, I realized, was the big leagues. Even though it wasn't. This was glory in miniature, and it was heavenly sweet. I imagined huge screens and flashing lights. I pictured cotton candy pink dresses and camera flashes so bright and loud that they sizzled like champagne. I pictured the American Dream. The Hollywood, the Tribeca, the Cannes. I saw in my mind the magic of film, the joy of viewing a labor of love in tux and gown. The thrill of standing ovations.

I clutched the thick velvet ropes and waved over the clipboard-carrying mumbler. She did not look amused.
"Excuse me," I said in hushed, eloquent tones, "Are the nominees on The List as well or only announced winners?" I tried my hardest to sound polite, official. Like I wasn't wearing jeans and Converse below my button-up.

She looked at me as though I had an absorbed twin protruding from my skull.

"Hold on," She snapped, taking a step back and pushing the Bluetooth further into her ear. She took a step forward again in a semi-professional tango, as though I could now speak.
"Now what did you say?"
I stared in awe, if only for a second, then repeated myself.
"What's your name?"
I told her my name. She ran a finger down The List, tapping impatiently on the bottom.
"You're not on it."
"Are you sure? It may be under my director's name."
"Your director?"
"I'm the editor."
"The editor?"
"Yes, you smarmy bitch." Was what I wanted to say. Instead, I said
"Yes." And I gave my director's name. Another impatient run down The List. Another fit of morse code practice, this time louder.
"She's not on here either." I said thank you and walked away.

I watched in horror as the sorriest excuses for human beings propelled themselves past the Gate Keeper and down the red carpet.

One kid was known for bumming a mentally unstable vocal major in the back of a movie theatre.
Flash, down he went.
One had a festering heroin problem, still left unchecked.
Flash, down she went.
One had her head completely shaved after being baker acted by her parents.
Flash, down she went.

That local columnist? She snatched almost all of them up, engaging in polite yet too distant to hear conversation, making occasional notes on that notorious notepad. The news crew filmed the entire event, personally interviewing most of the teenaged bloodsuckers sashaying towards the theatre. They were ushered up the stairs and past a pair of shimmering glass doors, shaded from the horrible Florida sun.

Meanwhile, I sat on the curb. And I waited.

Forty five minutes later we were allowed in, pushed into straight lines as though we were animals to the slaughter, which some of us were, and then quickly shoved into seats. The show started semi-promply, engaging the audience with local out-of-work actors and semi-important commissioners we had never heard of. They all emphasized the same point: As film students and enthusiasts, it was our responsibility to go out into the world and make the best movies we could. About Florida.

"You have to make a name for us!" One yelped, holding up the television and motion picture handbook for the state of Florida. "You must go to college and make a name for yourself, and then one day you must return and give back. It is your responsibility to give back to this state."

After shenanigans and hijinks alike, the time finally came for my category. The Audience Award. Fourteen films were picked, a mere number considering the two hundred entries, and it was up to the public to decide who deserved the honor.

Upon hearing that my terrible little picture, that awful and embarrassing movie that I had the pleasure of editing for two months thanks to hundreds and hundreds of "I don't like that"'s from my director, upon hearing that it was selected as one of the fourteen, I had to pose the question "Are you sure?"

But they were. And so I did everything in my power to make it happen. I put up signs around school proclaiming "Vote for Stairway to Heaven!", only to have them later vandalized with a blatant "Vote for Satori!" (A competitor) scribbled across them all. I spread the word both around town and online. I worked harder promoting the damn thing than I actually did working on it, I think. I even skipped class and ran around campus to get my absent crew excused absences for this sparkling event. And it all came down to this.

I sat next to my director, hands clenched tight, feet tapping nervously. The announcers stood on stage, prattling on about this and that, while I sat in the back row shivering in my seat. The excitement was jolting me down to my bones. This was it.

I don't think I would have been nearly as excited if I hadn't have received an e-mail the previous Thursday proclaiming that we were in the lead and scheduled for a win. Nevertheless, my boyfriend ad I corralled in a slew of additional votes. Just to be safe.

I clenched the arm-rests.

Someone very famous once said that in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. I feel as though today I've been gipped since I only get to stand up here for about thirty seconds.

"And the winner is..."

I couldn't help but stop for a minute. Before the winner was even announced, I knew that something simply was not right.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The douchebags that vandalized all of my signs had cheated the system! Those sixth-placers had duped the online form to double their votes, thereby crowning them reigning champions! They paraded onstage, accepted their trophy and subsequent prize-money, and cheerily thanked all those who voted for them.

I had the sudden urge to run on stage and deck all four of them like Whack-a-Moles.

But I remained in my seat. I calmly ushered myself outside with the rest of the crowd when the ceremony was over. I got back on the bus. And I went back to school.

This, I realized, was the real glitz and glamor. This was what it was all about. It wasn't about talent. It wasn't about stardom. It was never about champagne and starlight, and it certainly wasn't about a heart-racing bone-shaking love for what you're doing. It wasn't about being fair. It was about being ingenuitive.

So, ladies and gentlemen, give them a round of applause and a check for two grand.

Hats off to Satori.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Best Band You've Never Heard Of

No introduction could give this band of merry men enough justice, so allow me to shut my mouth and turn up the noise. Ladies and gentlemen, Hot Hot Heat's Goodnight, Goodnight.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back In Action

Hello hello again, ladies and gents. I'm back and recovered from the horror that is flying back into West Palm Beach. I spent most of the two and a half hour flight watching the Food Network whilst squeezed between two people who, to this very moment, I'm still not sure if they were dead or just very, very elderly.

Anyhow, I've come back to find lots of exciting news waiting in my inbox (I know. I don't check my e-mail when I go on trips. I'm such a slave to the outdoors.) so I figured I should share it with all you fine folks before I crack back down and start churning out articles again.

The director of Palm Beach's film & television committee sent out an e-mail to those who voted (so some of you might already know), and as of right now Stairway to Heaven is in first place in the Palm Beach Film Festival's Student Showcase. The second placer is extremely close though, a measly .6% away from us, so I need all of your last minute votes to secure victory! Voting ends on Monday the 14th at 4:00 pm, so please circulate the link to anyone you know! C'mon folks, you guys send chain-mail like people actually appreciate it, so send this on!

(As a reminder, the voting page is here.)

And although technically I'm not supposed to be telling anyone this yet since formal acceptance letters haven't gone out, I've discovered through the glorious inner-workings of my confidential art school that, after auditioning earlier this year for a transfer into the Visual Arts major, I've been accepted.

Basically, after being shat on by most of the teachers in the Communications department, I threw my arms in the air and signed up for a transfer late last year. I'm sure it seems like an all-too-nominal feat to get accepted to the school you're already attending, but in order to get accepted as a Junior you have to have a next to perfect score during the audition.

I know, I know. Hold your applause.

So, ladies and gents, everyone's favorite foul-mouthed teen will be returning next year not as a film student but as, you guessed it, an art student. Expect some very interesting articles.

- M.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Away Message

Photo by Ogy

My darling clementines, Spring Break is upon the children of South Florida! (To quote a kid leaving my last class of the day, "Shit! Shit! I wish I had papers to throw in the air! Spring Break! Shit!")

Yes, ladies and gents, this is a time of no-frills thrills and teenaged independence. We'll be running wild in your streets, fine citizens, crashing cars and shouting profanity and generally making a mess of our respective counties until the school-bell rings again on April 13th.

Well, most of us.

My spring break will be spent making a mess not of my hometown, even though I'm almost positive it could use the casualties, but instead of that glorious city that a lot of you lovelies call home: New York. I'm flying in tomorrow morning and staying with my boyfriend (a local) in Brooklyn for the first four days of the break, so if any of you fine ladies and gents living in the general vicinity want to grab lunch and talk gossip, just drop me a line. My e-mail address is readily available on the front page.

In the meantime, bon voyage, clementines. I'll be sure to bring you back a toy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Short Word On Being Human

What would we do without our mistakes? Not the minute hassles that life hurls at you like a kid with a water-balloon, not the "Oh no, I left the gas on," kind of klutzery, but those eerily unwavering mistakes made in haste. The kind that leave you laying in bed in the middle of the night, eyes fixed on the ceiling, cringing every time you think of that huge social blister you popped. The kind that, upon grazing your mind in public, you have to leave the room if only for a moment just to deck yourself in the face. No, these kinds of hysterics are never mentioned again after they happen which, in essence, is a very good thing, for if they were you'd surely stroke-out on the spot and fall face-first on the floor, dead as a doornail.

But really, where would we be without such lingering insecurities? We'd be perfect human beings, dismissing every other tiny mistake and living a carefree worry-free guilt-free life. We'd be the happiest creatures in this milky little galaxy. And that is simply not right.

We're worriers, fellow human beings. We're cringers and screamers and kickers and criers. We're meant to get so angry that we kick over trash cans and yell at stray cats. We're meant to be ridiculous in our actions, and even more-so in our atoning. If we weren't, who would be the entertainment of the universe? When's the last time you saw a bunny rabbit make the kind of social blunders that we do? When's the last time you sat back and watched a wild rabbit accidently call the cute girl waiting ahead of him for her Double Mocha Frappucino at Starbucks "Sir"? The simple answer, ladies and gentlemen, is that you haven't. Because bunnies have enough tact to avoid these sorts of situations. In fact, I bet you've never even seen a rabbit doing anything even remotely close to being considered awkward. I bet the closest thing you've seen to a slow-witted rabbit is its dyed foot hanging from a keychain at convenience stores nationwide.

Clearly bunnies are much smarter than us, because we do not avoid these kinds of situations. Sure, we don't have our feet attached to keychains either (not yet, at least), but we're the fumblers in this universe. We're the ones who drop the ball, both socially and literally, and stand there center-stage with our tail between our legs thinking, "Well, I figured it was about time to move to a different state anyway."

But I think that's what makes us way cooler than rabbits could ever be. We mess up. We're imperfect, and damn crazy. We out crazy rabbits, which is a pretty daunting task to anyone who's seen Watership Down, and it's something to be proud of. We are the pee-colored snowflakes of this world, ruining all that is naturally beautiful and being too oblivious to notice it, and really what's better than that? What's better than making mistakes, because mistakes leave room for not just improvement but also more mistakes. That, ladies and gents, is the thrill of being human. Nothing, not genocide or atomic warfare or metal music, can take that away from us.

We get to be the klutzes of the universe for another day and the world spins madly on. Bunnies and all.

Photo by Normy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

It's almost expected as a female that once you begin to glide into your teenaged years, you pick up lifelong interests in certain subjects. In the fifties I'm sure it was child-rearing, cleaning, and simple culinary skills, but for the modern teenaged girl we're expected to be perky, a permanent optimist, with a fascination for fashion, makeup, and gossip of all kinds. Sure, most girls can get away with just wearing lip-gloss and only smiling politely when peers gossip about this and that, but fashion -- fashion is another animal altogether.

The teenaged girl is expected to be glamorous yet subtle, aesthetic yet simple, we are told to be carved out of marble and wood simultaneously by magazines and television and newspapers and parents.

When I was first strolling into my teenaged years, hands in my pockets, I found myself garbed in the stoic's uniform of jeans and a t-shirt. Fashion to me was splurging on a dress from Anthropologie or wearing flats instead of sneakers. I was a simple creature, and quite frankly my grandmother hated it.

"You're a young lady now," She would say, dragging me by the arm into our local mall. "You need some nicer clothes. Clothes that boys would like. You're almost thirteen, M. Don't you think about how boys see you?"

And sure, I did. I thought about how all the boys I knew were closer to me than their parents, friends, and even girlfriends. I thought about how I've had some of the best conversations I've ever had with those "cursed" with a Y-chromosome. About how those "cute little inferiors" that girls were always cooing about were much more than just empty-headed skaters and computer geeks. Boys, I knew, didn't need another pair of tits paraded in front of their face to really open up to a person. They just needed someone to relate to. Someone who would be happy slinging mud and watching gory movies. Granted, it was this kind of tomboyish relationship with guys that lost me the chance to actually date early on, much to my grandmother's disappointment, but I was happy. And I had a phonebook filled with some of the funniest people I've ever met. Life was good.

Yet by age thirteen, I was thrown into shopping malls and told to go wild. "Buy whatever you want!" My grandmother would say, sipping on a Diet Coke. "We're going school shopping and grandma loves you!" And I didn't doubt it, but she simply didn't understand. She, like many other mothers and mothers' mothers, thought of all teenaged girls as the same paper dolls. She thought we all reveled in magazine subscriptions and Shirley Temples.

We would stroll by Abercrombies and American Eagles, my grandmother pressing her face against the window and shouting back at me, "Don't you want to go in here? Everything looks really cute," but I was happy using my grandmothers generosity to buy video games and new jeans. Occasionally, just to make her feel a bit more accomplished, I'd buy a lacy tank top or a new pair of shoes, but generally speaking I almost always left with very few bags under my arms.

It visibly disappointed her, and I knew deep down she always wished for a chubby cheeked half-baby-half-adult to take shopping and share lipstick shades with. I was never that girl, and even now that I've semi-embraced clothing as something more than just fabric coverings, I still find kids with credit cards and cell-phones frightening creatures. (I didn't get my first cell phone until I was fourteen. Now, two year olds are chewing on Virgin Go phones.)

Granted, I'm not denouncing fashion as something completely bogus. Sure, I'll never understand why people actually buy clothing from runway collections and I firmly believe that a two hundred dollar price tag on a little black dress is only there to fluff the designers ego, but at the same time fashion holds something particularly sacred to teenaged girls. Clothes have the ability to make a girl feel welcome in her own body. No boy or car or golden brick could ever do that, but clothes, these simple pieces of sewn cloth, can. And I think that's why girls are stereotyped as mandatory fashionistas. Clothes have the ability to make girls feel comfortable, contented, as though catnip were weaved into every strand of thread. It's soothing to be able to wear something ridiculous and different and subsequently turn yourself into someone new. No, clothes don't define a person, but good clothes do. Certain clothes are meant for certain people, and when those particulars find that perfect dress or button-up shirt, they're turned into someone completely new. They could be drowning in debt and mourning a lost love, but with the right pair of shoes a girl can be at her happiest. That is the power that clothing holds.

And I think what most people fail to realize is that it's not the clothes that make them happy, it's all in themselves. The clothes really are just cloth and stitch, but put the right girl in the right dress and she'll see herself as a movie starlet. All girls are Grecian goddesses and Christian saints inside, all they need is the power to shed their skin and let her out. And for most girls that golden key is to see herself as beautiful.

So to every thirteen year old me out there, it's not all magazine covers and cosmetic ads in that great big fashion world. It's not about being a sample size or buying the It-brand of the day. It's about being beautiful. Having fun. It's about finding yourself and discovering that favorite dress that turns you into Mae West when worn. Fashion is about being able to change clothes and become someone else, a rock star or a millionaire or a fairy queen or a jetsetter. But more importantly, it's about being able to take off that extra personality by the end of the day and settle down in that one perfect outfit that turns you back into the most beautiful you can be: you.

Photo by Arai Gordai

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Young and the Electric

In my observations as a teenaged spy for the outside world, I've noticed many a strange thing. Teenagers, it seems, are in fact strange and foreign beings that live by their own social conventions and hierarchies. They are outsiders from the rest of society, which I suppose explains why hundreds of thousands of fights are fought between teen and adult daily. True, they're both players in the same game, but each one is playing by different rules. Clashes are simply expected.

In terms of everything else, though, teenagers are just like little adults only with little capacity for conversation.

Yet over the past few weeks, I've noticed something strange. Something I'm surprised has never occurred to me before, but now that it's here, it seems very, very real.

The rules of romance in the teenaged world are shifting. Love used to be a thrill; quick glances during Chemistry, notes passed in the lunch line. Sure, a date was as expected as a cell phone by the rest of the teen scene, but at the same time it was exciting, a wild chase from first period all the way to seventh. Romance was sharing a stolen rum & coke at a ska show. Love was painting pictures of each other on pieces of rotting wood and hanging them above your bed. Teenagers experienced love in its most basic, primitive form, and no adult can ever dispute that.

But now, love is something different.

Granted, teenaged romances haven't exactly had a long-standing history of longevity, but relationships seem to be getting shorter, faster, to the point. Love is not movie stars and rock songs anymore. Girls aren't the daydreamers, the picket-fencers, the lovers of upholstered upholstery and 2.5 kids. Love in the eyes of a sixteen year old girl used to be sparkling soda-pop showers and the ground opening up beneath their feet. Love was epic and new. It was top ten songs on the radio and kissing under the blacklight. Now, love is a temporary tattoo.

Love in the teenaged world is a boomerang of gossip and kissing both girls and boys in the school's willow tree. It's about always riding shotgun and never having both feet on the ground. Love is about lip-gloss stains on lapels and making out to the Plain White T's. And it will never be about caring for a person ever again.

Amidst this mess of algebra and infidelity emerges a new brand of teenagers unlike anything you've ever seen. Teens that will crash cars just to be the center of attention and break hearts under the stinging syringe of stiletto heels.

These are the new romantics. 

These teens believe solely in prom dates and arm-candy and follow the Carrie Bradshaw perspective of sex, lies, and a damn good story to tell. The new romantics believe in reconciling through others, a playground she-said-he-said for the high school era, and they will always date the undateable just to say that they climbed that mountain and stuck that tiny tropical umbrella into the top. The new romantics are children of excess. They're slam-dancers, they're flirters, they'll sing your praises one minute and as soon as they've finished they'll shank you in the neck. They are fierce, flawed, and fabulous. They are teenagers, god-dammit, and nothing can hold them back.

And this is what makes them great.

No other branch of American society could ever get away with such vulgarity, yet the new romantics can bat their eyelashes and not only get away with it but also get a free drink and a new Myspace friend. I truly believe that this is what makes such teenagers so misunderstood: they simplify things to the lowest common denominator. And adults don't like that. If a problem arises, the new romantics will look at you blankly and say "Well, we'll have to fix it." And they will. Grown ups like the complicated, the complex, the impossible. Even if they really can't handle it, at least it makes them feel like real, live adults instead of just twelve year olds struggling to walk in size nine shoes.

Adults forget to step back from their formica desks and button-up shirts and see the world for what it really is. They ignore what the new romantics shake like a martini tumbler every night. Adults forget about fun. Sure, if they wanted to have fun they could always go see a Jim Carrey movie or go drinking with co-workers at the local Chili's, but what about real fun? Limitless, worry-free fun? New romantic kind of fun?

Ladies and gentlemen of the work world, listen up, because you only get one shot at life and being irresponsible is the best part of this hundred years we get on Earth. Go out into the world, folks, not as parents and siblings and employees of the month, but as prom queens and high-rollers and class presidents and jocks. Go out as the kid voted Most Likely to Start a Revolution. Go out as surfers by day and poets by night. Go out into this great big world, ladies and gentlemen, taking a cue from your local Angela Hayes and Jeff Spicoli, and leave the house not as grown-ups or adults, but as new romantics.

Extra-Curricular: Tilly and the Wall - Nights of the Living Dead
Photo by Cybele Malinowski

Friday, March 28, 2008

Final Smash

In lieu of a formal post, (that will be coming later today, I promise) I thought I should provide you fine ladies and gentlemen with further proof that links teenagers and batshit crazy.

After getting the go-ahead from assistant principles that probably had a reaction very similar to, "Sure. Whatever." my notorious art school held RADD yesterday, Rocking Against Destructive Decisions. Giant vinyl signs were posted around the area, proclaiming "Just Say No to Drugs, Alcohol, Sex!" (To honor the occasion, I know many a teen who celebrated by smoking pot outside the school gate and enjoying the free Taco Bell RADD provided, but that's neither here nor there.)

But wait! It gets better! I don't know if all you sunlight-seeing adults are aware or not, but on March 9th Super Smash Brothers Brawl (abbreviated Brawl for those with a short attention span) was released for the Wii, and therefore havoc ensued. In fact, most kids I know only stopped playing to go to school and maybe take a shower. Okay, maybe just to go to school.

Except for these kids.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. These fine individuals decided to break free from the gamer stereotype and attend RADD. You know, go outside, get some fresh air, enjoy nature, socialize.

Oh, and play Brawl.

Monday, March 24, 2008


When you spend forty hours a week with the official title of "Communications Major", you end up seeing a lot of weird-ass films trying very hard to be amusing. It's a good thing Jeremy Jones never disappoints. Jeremy is a friend of mine way out on the West coast, and I'm hardly exaggerating when I say he's the strangest full-grown man you'll ever meet (unless you've met Nick Nolte.) Regardless of his mental stability, he's damn funny.

I present to you the best minute-long parody of an O. Henry story from the early 20th century that you'll ever see, and I'm sure you've seen lots. Ladies and gentlemen, "The Gift."

A Short Word on the Holiday Hangover

I hold this firm believe that the only reason parents can get their kids to believe in God is because God deals in chocolate. Unlike Buddhism and Judaism which preach abstinence and fasting on major holy days, all Christian holidays involve gluttony and brightly-wrapped presents for kids to shred in the living room. In a child's mind, Jesus died for our sins only after he died to give us a day off from school and a new pair of shoes with skates on the bottom.

Enter: Easter. One of the strangest holidays we humans celebrate when you consider it because no one's really sure if we're praising miracles, grave robbers, or zombies. Any which way, we still look like a bunch of crazies because bunnies don't lay eggs and no natural egg I've ever seen has come out looking like the product of a retarded six year old with a Paas dying kit.

I've only been to church a few times in my short life, but most of the times I was forced to frequent were during major holidays, namely Easter. I'd sit in the back row between my grandmother and a six hundred pound motherlard with a bible in one hand and a bag of Popeyes chicken in the other, thinking that things couldn't possibly get any worse. But they would. On these fore-spoken major holidays, the pastor would always find it necessarily cute to wrangle every kid in the parish onto the stage so he could embarrass them for life and do his Bill Cosby impression. The kids would squirm around stage, not one of them standing completely still, and at the end of their personal torment receive a York peppermint patty as consolation for their embarrassment. Watching those kids was like watching the dog races. The second the pastor would stand up straight, get off his knees and back onto the adult level, those kids would bolt like Rusty had a Playstation tied around him. It was incredible, and even the ones almost in their teens who knew better felt the urge to bolt back to their pew.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the catalyst to my theory. Sure, most kids grow up still believing in whatever they were raised on. They still attend church or temple or mosque or whatever once they're twenty-somethings with a crop of kids of their own. But if you were to ask most why they take their kids to church, I guarantee you the astounding answer will be "to give them a better moral foundation." It's not sacrilege. It's modern day America. It's the everyman. Yes, there are real live Christians out there who go to church to pray and repent and not for the free wine and crackers, and to those people, good for you. At least those people know what they believe in, even if it does seem illogical to me. But the rest of America, it seems, is in it for the free swag. The kids like the chocolate. The parents like the Cuisinarts. And everybody in between has been doing it so long that they've forgotten why they do it anyway.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes this religion great. It's like Mardi Gras, only instead of beer and tits we get candy en mass! And really, what could be better?

Happy Easter hangover, ladies & gents.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

B+ Movie

Being an honorary film student is hard work, especially when you hardly work. But nevertheless, I do occasionally stick to the stereotype of my high-school major and churn something out, even if it's not quite the highest of caliber. Actually, most things that come out of my school can hardly ever be categorized as the highest of caliber since the Communications major as a whole is known, quite simply, as the "Fallback Major". No one takes anything related to film seriously, and therefore when you're crammed in a mandatory group of six all sharing the same notion of wanting to just lie back and film their buddy skateboarding, it's pretty hard to get most anything done.

But surprisingly, at the beginning of this school year I got crammed in a group that consisted of only mostly slackers. Somehow, by a gift from the universe I was granted entry into a group that wanted to work. And work we did.

Despite the general problems of contending with other group members and with a malfunctioning Avid system, the end product didn't end up looking completely terrible. To be honest, though, it was hardly something that I was proud of and wanted my name attached to, yet our film teacher liked it and decided it needed to be seen. And thus it was entered in the Palm Beach International Film Festival's student showcase.

And now it's in the top fourteen.

Granted, I don't usually do things like this, but I'm genuinely excited at the idea of attaching an "award winning film" to my portfolio. Okay, so maybe I can only take credit for a couple of shots and full-credit for the editing, but I still bathe in the idea that its the editing that really makes a movie. So, ladies and gentlemen, here's where you come in.

The student showcase has already gone through preliminary judging, and now the votes rest with the people. So, vote! Vote so that I can finally bring my department out of the depths of obscurity. Vote so that I can show the world that I really do mean something, and that I won't take life sitting down. Vote so that I can go to school with bragging rights and look down on all those around me because, hey, do they have award-winning films?

Vote, people. Vote to show me how much you love me. Vote to put $2,000 in my pocket. Just vote, dammit.

And all your wildest dreams will come true.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Generation Why

Photo by Noah Stone

Whilst attending one of the many middle schools I found myself slam-dancing through in my early teens, I landed on one in particular that held my attention for at least a year or two, a record when it comes to my history of truancy and transfers. It was, you guessed it, a local art school that held its own in the national standings and even required auditions for all potential students. Much like my confidential art school now, it was highly competitive and a favorite for soccer moms who thought their ten year olds were Liza Minnelli when it came to all-around talent. (And really, they were just like Liza Minnelli on the talent-scale, coming in somewhere just above Courtney Love and Jeffree Star.)

But despite all of these whack-ass parents, it were the kids that really interested me. In my eighth grade year, a few weeks before I withdrew into the seclusion of a six month summer vacation, I observed something that completely blew my mind. Something so utterly odd and bemusing that I don't really know how I went so long without talking about it.

A phase passed over the school, a phase lasting god knows how long. A phase of pure terror and irony. Within five days, the school went from blissful, underaged normality to having the entire 6th grade population decked in jelly shoes and shirts that read, wait for it, "Made in the 80's."

Now I don't know if you folks are aware of this, but being in my current 15-year-old state means that I was born in 1992. Granted, I've never really been stellar in math class, but I do believe that means that these sixth graders of yore were born in 1994. That's one, two, three, four years after the eighties drew to a close, and by 1989 it was practically the grunge years anyway. Cobain didn't shoot himself in the head until 1994, and that's when these kids were still shitting in diapers and sucking down formula.

So, my question posed is this: When did the eighties become cool? Wasn't it just a few years ago that Generation Y was looking back on their parents and their John Hughes-like fashion sense with nothing less of disdain and confusion? Like a bad hangover, those who survived as a teenager in the eighties are now holding their heads and saying, "Wow, what was I thinking?" Meanwhile, their nine year olds are sneaking their preserved articles of clothing from the back of the closet and wearing them to school with a newfound sense of pride.

And not only are "vintage" eighties dresses and the like now extremely hip and groovy, but new eighties outfits are being made with sloganeering proclaiming just how cool the eighties are. Were. Will be?

Case and point: Miami Twice. Miami Twice is a royally wonderful used clothing store that any and all South Floridian teenagers know of, even those of years past. It's been around for forever and a day, and it still remains today, only with a slightly different twist. Then, it specialized in all things used, like a Goodwill boutique for young people with all the bedazzled t-shirts of Calico cats weeded out. Now, Miami Twice is a store that specializes in new things that look old, particularly those that are paralleled to eighties fashion. There is, in fact, one rack of real vintage dresses towards the front of the store, but the rest is replicas of Elvis Costello t-shirts and creepers, pre-faded and mass produced for public consumption.

I sometimes have to wonder if I'm stuck in some sort of Transylvanian time warp, or if kids really are just having a major generation-identification crisis. Granted, I have no room to talk about how great the eighties really were and how kids these days have no idea what the hell they're talking about. Like I said, I was born in 1992. I was raised on Sky Dancers and the Spice Girls. I didn't know who Joe Strummer was until the year he died, which was completely untimely and generally pretty unfair to my budding inner-audiophile. But even to me it seems awkward that while half of the teenaged population is progressing towards a lifestyle of Flavor Flav and MTV2, the younger ones are growing up on leg-warmers and Remote Control.

But don't let these pre-pubescent, cultural concubines fool you, ladies and gentlemen. The first day I saw some unfortunate eleven year old running around that fore-spoken middle school campus in a Clash shirt, I stopped him with the ever-pressing question. The kind of question that totally calls you out on a lie, and generally fucks you over in the end, even if you are just eleven.

"So, what's your favorite Clash song?"

He paused, staring at me like a deer in headlights. He knew his fate before he even answered. By responding, he only sealed the deal. Personally, I half expected him to turn on his heels and bolt out of my grasp as fast as he possibly could. Fight or flight, as the psychologists say.

"Uhm, I like them all?"

They may wear the shirts, the jeans, and the Doc Martens, but they honestly couldn't tell the Specials from the Smiths. It's all about the fashion. The look. The fact that some ten year old in charge of trendsetting somewhere is feeding them messages saying just how cool the eighties were. Nobody questions what the hell they're wearing, they simply go out to Urban Outfitters, but some jelly shoes, and skip on home. But that's fashion, isn't it? Kids are impressionable little shits, and if someone says that Miley Cyrus with her ever-pressing God complex has all the answers, then by Miley, so be it.

In case you haven't noticed, these kids weren't Made in the 80's as their t-shirts proclaim. In fact, most of them weren't even made in the early-nineties. They grew up with fast-access internet, satellite television, and rumblepacks as a standard, not an additional accessory. Yes, we all were. We are Generation Y, ladies and gentlemen, the generation of plenty, born into the world of milk & honey. And honestly, as a product of the grunge age, I'm completely happy with that. I think I turned out with some sense in my head, and hey, maybe not enough to guarantee me a spot in the Mensa brigade, but definitely enough to get me by.

Definitely enough to know that no, in fact, I was not made in the eighties.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Morning Blues.

Because I woke up this morning with a terrible head cold and a truck-load of immigrants cutting down every single hedge in the neighborhood at eight in the morning, it's safe to say there's no post for today.

Instead, here's A Tribe Called Quest. Can I Kick It?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

After spending two years at a high school unlike any you've ever seen, I have to admit that I have learned a lot. No, I haven't been able to memorize the irregular conjugates of "Dire" and "Dare" in Italian and I'm still completely oblivious about most everything that goes on in my math class, but the most important lessons that I've learned come from the people around me, and those fore-spoken people are never the ones that stand at the front of the room with an Expo marker in hand. My kind of lessons come from the kids sitting next to me, chewing gum and downloading the answers to our next Chemistry test on their iPhone. My real-world learning is overhearing gossip about how our History teacher, a woman not much older than us who graduated from the very soil we walk on, was apparently a promiscuous teenager in her high-school days.

As much as school leaves a bad taste in my mouth by the time the day is over, I have to admit that it's the only place in the world where you can experience true, unbridled havoc. If nothing else, by the end of the day I have a top hat full of great stories and a slew of experiences that no world traveler could ever parallel, because even the tightest-knit village of four little huts couldn't spread news as quickly as a high school does.

I really have to thank these crazy kids that I share classrooms with for eight hours a day, because without them I would have never known about the Napoleon Dynamite-esque cat-fight that took place no more than an hour before the news hit my ears.

The China Chongas (also known by those unfamiliar with Miami lingo as "Tokyo Drift") are really two of the strangest students at my lovely school. Even those who don't attend daily know of them because, honestly, they're hard to miss.

As two small asian girls decked in full latin Chonga get-up, they don't just cross racial borders but instead sail across with a kind of impertinent ease that says they were clearly transplanted to the States later in life and raised by MTV. Part ghettofabulous, part Miami skank, and full-time Asia natives, The China Chongas are decked out with bleach blonde hair, gold hoop earrings that I could probably fit my entire hand through, a variation of white/black Reeboks depending on the outfit, and, of course, Sharpie lip-liner.

I refuse to name names for the sake of whatever integrity will remain when I'm finished, but their first names do, in fact, rhyme.

So, now that that picture is painted, let's work on the story.

While it's no requirement, for some reason a good chunk of the who's-who at my confidential art school find it necessary to shove themselves into a tiny cafeteria by the time lunch rolls around. I never understood it until the first Cafeteria-centric happening went down, and then I realized that people weren't sitting in there because they liked the wobbling tables and collective roar; they were in there because if anything groundbreaking were to happen, that's where it would take place. The cafeteria is the Los Angeles of the high-school microcosm. No one particularly likes it there, but it's the axis on which the world turns.

To continue. Whilst eating lunch with a slew of their hispanic friends, one of the China Chongas murmured something or another about a girl sitting near by. Of course, this is where the story starts to get muddled. Some say that Tokyo of the Tokyo Drift initiated what followed, others say that the passing Crazy White Girl was dropping out that afternoon and wanted to start at least one fight during her high-school run. What is agreed upon is that no one in the room could understand what they were saying during the verbal food fight that followed. Anyone who has heard those with a latin background go at it knows exactly what this high-pitched vomiting sounds like. Spanish mixes with English mixes with Vietnamese. Words like "papi" and "hoochie" are thrown around like an inflatable beach ball at a sporting event.

Eventually, Crazy White Girl couldn't take it anymore. She wound up, pulled back, and decked Tokyo right in the face.

A stunned silence followed. Even Tokyo didn't move. Everyone in the room was simply amazed that action had been taken; punches had been thrown. Assistant Principles were ushered in and students jumped to one side, cheering on a competitor of their choice.

It wasn't until after they were dragged away that the stories started to come out. Apparently, the China Chongas frequent a local Presbyterian church that a girl in my math class also attends. During the church's annual talent show last year, the two signed up and stepped on stage in their regular get-up of Baby Phat and Reeboks. Only to perform a nun-chuck act.

Stop me if this starts to sound fake.

As the current celebrities of this epic Confidential Art School, they're getting the full spectrum of attention from every clique and class. Granted, rumors are spinning just as quickly as the truth is, but this, I think, illustrates something grand about high-school culture as a whole.

We are all freaks in the making.

Or maybe we're freaks now, in all our glory, and as we ascend into adulthood that inner Smiths-lover and garage band hero fades away into the back of our consciousness. Maybe growing up doesn't mean maturing, but instead means forgetting what it is to twirl nun-chucks at talent shows and solve problems with brute force. Maybe growing up means putting those Reeboks or Adidas or Converse in the back of the closet and trading them in for something more mild. Maybe this is the last chance we'll get to be completely batshit crazy.

Whatever the case may be, this is our daily life. This is what high-school is like, in case all you adults out there forgot. In case it was you who hung away your studded jean jacket and Cramps shirts all those years ago. This is what you have been missing, and what I'd really like to know is has all that much changed?

I truly believe that it is as they say. The truth, it seems, is always stranger than fiction.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Things We Do For Love (Or: A Word On Relationships)

Photo by Reinar Rivera

According to an infallible British comedy, love, actually, is all around. It's on television and in cheap restaurants. It's in backseats and public parks. It's in music and online, in hearts and minds alike. Love is more than just a universal craving. It's an ideal and a feeling that we're all born with, whether we like it or not. And even if we can't find it in ourselves to love, love will find us with it's TV ads and ten-story billboards. Love bombards us and knocks us off our feet, and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of personal perspective.

In a world of fleeting relationships, connections and disconnections from everyday people, love seems monotonous. But what about when you find something that breaks that daisy-chain of the everyday and mundane? What happens when love becomes spectacular again? Should it be celebrated with a grandeur so exquisite and divine, or should the celebrations come from the every day? And, when it comes down to it, is it ever possible to break down a love like this?

How do you know when you've found this fore-spoken bliss, and, more relevantly, how do you hang on to it? It's a fact of life that relationships deteriorate over time, just like most else on this tiny little planet, and we as humans are bound to screw up, but I think that in itself is something to be celebrated because it almost always leads to something spectacular. Love never comes when we seek it out. It's a patient beast, sleeping silently until it decides you're ready. Then, and only then, will it come to find you.

It seems like such a strange phenomena that people, us people living on the face of this tiny planet, can connect with each other in such a strong and unbreakable way. We become so close with each other, with our brethren and our lovers, our friends and those strangers who are kind enough to ask about our day, that it seems beyond strange that we're related only by species. It seems as though there is something more to this whole life thing, and that maybe it's these connections that really get us up in the morning and keep us going.

Can these connections even be knighted with the honorary title of "love" or are they simple incidents? When you think about it, love is something undefined. It is something that we can feel deep down in the depths of our bones. It's simply a feeling of euphoria. Cosmic togetherness. Happiness. But don't these little specks of coincidence and chance that fall into our lap really make us the happiest of all? When it comes down to it, I always seem to find myself bathing in a clever conversation starter or a chance meeting when the day finally comes to a close. This is what sticks with me when it's time to turn out the lights.

If all of this is really true, than it seems as though each and every day we are falling in and out of love over and over again.

Maybe love really is just a great song, or seeing your favorite car speed down the highway, or the kind of nail-polish that never chips no matter how long you wear it for. Love could easily be more than people together, one plus one, and instead could be the product of only one. Love could be a great idea, or an even better book, or something as simplistically big as discovering who you really are.

Or, more humanistically, love is waiting outside the dressing room of your girlfriend's favorite store, sitting patiently as she tries on dress after dress. Love is paying for dinner when your boyfriend has had a bad day, even though the twenty bucks in your wallet is your last. Love is patience, virtue, humility, and, if anything, simplicity. It's never giving up, always having fun, and sometimes compromising.

Love will never depart from this tiny planet so long as us humans are still walking on two legs and taking sweet gulps of air. It's as natural as life itself, the ultimate organic diet so to speak, and those who choose to embrace it find more than just peace of mind and somewhere familiar to rest their head. They find themselves. And more importantly, they find a kind of happiness that can't be paralleled by anything else.

There is something supremely spectacular about what we feel and how we act on it, and it is not to be ignored. Despite those scattered billboards and morning commercials, love is not mundane and it is never to be treated like the every day. Love is to be treasured. It's about shouting at the top of our lungs, yelling who we love, what we love, and how this is never to be forgotten. Love, even when hidden in alleyways and night-clubs, is here.

Love, actually, is all around.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who You Don't Want to Be When You Grow Up

Peers, classmates, fellow High-schoolers, I see you all heading in a terrible, terrible direction. Even though I haven't met all of you, I have this nagging feeling that I know all of you because, hey, no offense, but you're all the same. Regardless, in the few of you that I have met, I've observed something slightly strange about your behavior. As you're getting jobs, submitting college applications, thinking about your future, I see most of you going through a change. You're growing up, growing out of your teenaged skin and shedding it for the future wardrobe of your choice. And therein lies the problem. Most of you, even the most talented, articulate messes, are walking towards a future of mediocrity. You're walking towards state schools that will pay your way and allow you to still live at home. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that by the time you're a freshman in college, you'll be eighteen years old. Old enough to vote. Old enough to buy cigarettes (legally). Old enough to go to war. Old enough to move the hell out and get your own life. And I'd really like to know why you choose not to. Out of all places in all the world, I would least expect this kind of behavior and career mapping from the art school I frequent, yet that unspoken breeding ground for intellectualism seems to be the main offender. Why is this, kids? With all of your, dare I say, potential, do you really believe that the best use of you as a human being is as a worker bee? A doorstop for the door to happiness? If this is truly what you want to do then be my guest, but most of the time I see you heading towards this life in middle-management simply because you don't know what else to do. It's what your parents did, and it put dinner on the table, didn't it? It can't be all that bad, right? I see you dream big, children.

So while you're off at FSU or FAU or one of the many other F-U's of Florida, just keep this little personalized letter in mind. Remember that there are other choices in life, and that the most "reasonable" or "rational" of the slew isn't usually the one that will leave you the most satisfied at the end of the day. Get out into the world. Take it by storm. Don't just be mediocre. The world doesn't need more burger flippers or soccer moms, and nobody likes the places you guys choose to congregate at. (See: WalMart, Costco, TGI Friday's, etc.) Save the smart-asses of the world the trouble of making fun of you. Go be a firefighter or an astronaut or a ballerina. It can be done.

Reaching for the stars doesn't always mean you'll asphyxiate.

Love, your pal,
- M.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Musical Education

I've realized that, however many months into this alternative to a school-wide rampage of mine, I've managed to slip in little tidbits of personal preference when it comes to books, movies, etc. Yet, somehow, I've restrained myself enough to leave out the most important cultural phenomena to sweep the globe:


Even African aborigines have managed to carve their own form of music, and although some (read: most) modern day chart-toppers may sound a lot like those fore-spoken aborigines, this only illustrates the global reach of sweet sweet music. So, to all of you out there who think that "car music" means showtunes and hitting scan, allow me to and give you the means necessary to choose what's good and bad for yourself. Get out your pencils, kids, and take note. Your musical education starts today.

I know that on "professional blogs," (pardon the oxymoron) folks would usually describe the emotions that I feel towards Ben Folds as "respect" and "admiration." But you know what? I'm fifteen. And therefore I will call it what it is: fangirling. I love Ben Folds with all my heart, and he is honestly what I would consider a Goodwill-clad piano God. Ben Folds, if you're out there, come sing at my birthday party.

Let me say only one thing: Lady Sovereign looks like the girl from Napoleon Dynamite. Yes, she is peevishly annoying when "rocking the mic" on her own, but when paired with The Ordinary Boys, Britpop all-stars taking cues from legendaries like The Specials, she actually seems tolerable. God bless the power of music.

Ladies & gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the greatest band of all time: The Clash. These guys are epic on a scale completely unprecedented, and when it comes down to "favorites" in my musical queue, they take the spot for number one. Music has never been as good as it is with the Clash, and I promise you that no other band will perfect punk rock and rock & roll simultaneously quite like they will. This, my friends, is musical history. And it will never be better.

(No video on this one because I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear some thirteen year old girl try to cover this song and epically fail.)

The first small show I ever went to was at a little dive called the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. It's capacity is about 65 and every night it holds around 200. I went and saw Metric.
Metric is pretty astounding for the sheer reason that they sound just as wonderful on stage as they do in a recording studio, but I think there's something particularly astounding about Emily Haines, their lead singer and resident angel. She has a voice never before heard by even the most educated audiophiles, and when paired with radically poetic lyrics she paints a story that is noting short of magical. Metric is a modern day fairy tale.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Fever

Yes, Ladies and gents, it's that time of the year. Oscar night is upon us. It is a time where celebrities gather at the Kodak theatre, Americans gather in front of their TV screens, and everyone else gathers together their sanity to bear through the four-plus hours that the Oscars entail. With such an important American tradition looming around the nation, I figured that something superbly special had to be done about today's article. And so, after wracking my brain for ideas, I give you the first ever Curbed video podcast.

Now if only I could figure out how to actually make it available for podcast download...


Friday, February 22, 2008

I Got Nothing, Kids

On Thursday, the Today show bombarded audiences with an ever pressing question in our world of murderous war and economic tail-spins: Is fat contagious? Kim Brittingham, resident fatty, was brought in to answer.

Noteworthy: The chasm of negative space between the guest and the anchors.

(P.s. Don't worry, PeTards. Fish & Wildlife was offscreen with hooks and harpoons ready to take her back to the Atlantic as soon as the interview concluded.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

Maybe it's just the stereotype talking, but as far as I can see almost all women have at least a passing interest in what they wear. This great big world of ours offers so many strange and unusual things to glorify the female body with that the greatest challenge as a woman is figuring out what you want to be seen in. I would hardly call myself a fashionista. No, in fact I'm tried and trite when it comes to my wardrobe. Jeans and a t-shirt seem to be the teenaged coat of arms, and what I've come to realize is that anything more is simply not worth the hassle of explaining to your peers.

Granted, I'm not all wood and bore. I own a few interesting things beneath all the piles of concert shirts and off-brand tank tops. Namely, a stash of Weetzie Bat-esque homemade dresses, a few Betsey Johnsons found on the sale rack, etc. But really, in a world where the average sixteen year old spends 40 hours a week locked in a social wasteland, there's little point to going beyond the ordinary.

Baby. Kamikaze Girls of the twenty first century will already know what this quaintly shortened title means. Baby is the truncated less-than-mouthful of Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, a Japanese-brand of oddly adorable clothing. Specializing in the Sweet Lolita look, Baby is the modern day Rococo incarnate, favoring the aesthetic, sugar-sweetened, and all-around lovely. Even the most hardened of souls would have a hard time peering into Baby boutiques and calling them anything less than cute, between the stuffed animals turned handbags, strawberry shaped pumps, and ribboned bonnets. Baby is every little girls dream with a philosophically sadistic twist. Instead of elegant princesses dabbling in philanthropy and showing almost frightful kindness towards forest animals, these real life Harajuku princesses strut around with the simple goal of being fabulous and having fun. Rarely do they concern themselves with finding a real purpose to life, with setting goals and following them through. Instead, the Sweet Lolita lifestyle completely mirrors that of its Rococo influence. The ideal woman is delicate, defenseless, and wants only the sugar-coated things in life. Hardships, as it goes, are simply unladylike.

And quite frankly, only in Japan could this kind of lifestyle survive without much resistence. In fact, American girls are actually crawling down the rabbit hole into this upside-down fashion world after watching Gwen Stefani pole-dance on stage while screaming out simple Japanese adjectives. We, ladies and gentlemen, are in the midst of a Japanese invasion twice as earth-shattering as the one that took place in 1941. Manga is the new Marvel. Saturday morning cartoons are strictly Japanified to draw in more viewers. When it comes to the world of fashion and excess, Harajuku is to Japan as Limelight was for New York, only this time with a sugary sweet twist. This overly hip district houses every single brand of Lolitas and hipsters, from the
Baby-cloaked SweetLolis all the way to GothicLolis, the Baroque end of the historical spectrum. And, surprisingly, to American youth it's now a household name. When I say fashion, thirteen year old girls cacophonously shout out "Harajuku," and despite the fact that almost none of them can afford to pay the price for this kind of high fashion, it's still ingrained in their minds as a pretty fucking hip place.

This, ladies and gents, is what its all about. This is epic for the sheer reason that its actually taking a fantasy that almost every single girl on this planet grew up with and telling them that its all theirs for the low low price of $220.99. (Shipping and handling not included) How amazing is that? Granted, fashion has always been about making people feel wonderful and giving them their every desire, but never before has it literally regressed all the way back into the world of tea-parties and teddy bears, yanking our childhood memories center stage and dressing them up in pink and white.

Basically, being pretentious to the point of excess is cool. I suppose in some parts of the social stratosphere it's always been, but now this behavior is peeking its head out from the ground and grabbing the attention of suburban fleets. More importantly, only in two cultures where shame and modesty went out the window years ago for ratings and glory could this kind of cultural microcosm survive. This, my friends, is not a cruel reality. No, in fact it's not even a slightly harsh reality. This is a reality iced with buttercream frosting, buried under whipped cream, and topped with a bitingly sweet cherry. This is the world of the carefree and lovely. This is the land of the aristos, where femininity is, well, queen. And it is glorious. And anyone not involved directly with this phenomena is in no place to criticize; they have no right to stare and huff under their breath at the thoughtless idiocy that is twenty first century Rococo. All we can do as innocent bystanders to this cultural revolution is take their lead. Sit back, relax, and let them eat cake.

Living The Life

hey call Palm Beach the Southern paradise of dirty glitter; where glamor goes to retire from being glamorous. On this sleepy little island off the South-Eastern coast of our country's limp penis, you'll find old glitz mingling with sour glamor on golf courses and in five star restaurants. Sagging women who married into the family tree of paper bills apply the same shade of pomegranate lipstick they did when they were twenty two. Wrinkled men tuck white button-ups into Armani pants and strut one foot after the other into the Breakers, a martini in one hand and a ball-point pen in another. The pen as good as the sword to Palm Beachers, for neither Japanese steel nor Smith & Wesson will ever protect you from utter misfortune and pain like signing your name can. In fact, most residents of the Island of Palm Beach invest great time and money into picking out the perfect pen for doing so. Specialty shops that sell such items sprout like mushrooms after a spring rain, slapping price tags the size of an average American's yearly income on one perfectly crafted ink well. The pen, as you will overhear in passing conversation here, truly represents a man. Like a firm handshake, it's the clincher. The deal-breaker. The kicker, if you'll pardon my passé vernacular. When it comes down to it, even if one dressed in the sloppiest of drabs (mainly jeans, usually discounted, and any kind of off-brand top that the lower classes seem to fancy) pulls out a class-A pen to sign their name on their brunch bill, the person in question is automatically regarded as someone of at least mild importance.

In Palm Beach, price dictates value. A dog is not a dog unless it costs a pretty penny. In fact, most dogs aren't even considered
animals unless they're stocked in cribs at pet stores and a rack of Channel carrying bags is within reach. (If you don't believe me, simply ask and I'll gladly produce photographic evidence of a nearby pet store that, yes, carries a wide array of small yappy-type dogs in baby cribs, each with a price tag that resembles that of my car.) Respectively, this means that high-fashion is of high-importance to the belles of Palm Beach. Granted, most of them probably couldn't spell couture, but generally speaking the more expensive, the better the item must be. Fashion is not about runway shows and Bryant Park to Palm Beach women. No, rather it's about credit card bills and deck shoes. It's about looking the youngest at one's book club meeting and boasting about the astronomical cost of one's terribly ugly handbag. Fashion is not about being fashionable, but instead about being as unfashionable as you possibly can and paying so much for it that it makes people think in passing that maybe there's something to it.

Palm Beach is where LA Neely O'Haras and their Leons go to die. It's where
glamor goes when it spoils like milk. Palm Beach was never fashionable or, god forbid, rich enough to retain all the yuppies and hipsters, so instead it did what it was best at. It burned that proverbial (and literal, if you look back on Florida's racially charged history) bridge to the ground and left the rubble for everyone to see. And, strangely enough, some found comfort in that mess. After willingly chasing all of the real glamor away, Palm Beach pretty much said fuck you, rest of the world, we're making our own goddamned rules, and became dreamily content with its sour grapes. Like a cat so very proud of catching a poisonous snake, Palm Beach decided it was best to broadcast this accomplishment to the rest of the world as though it were, in fact, a very good thing that it was full of unfashionably haughty old people.

Strangely enough, the rest of the world bought it.

Yes kids, when it comes down to it, Palm Beach is full of partially educated corpses that you would never guess had ever stepped out into society before in their entire lives. One of my earliest and fondest memories on that great big island is walking a very old and mild-mannered Greyhound around the street to take a potty break (do not ask why I had Greyhounds on Palm Beach. It's a very long story and it does not fit well with my current sentence structure.) and having a fifty five pound woman who quite accurately resembled Tammy Faye Baker shriek at me at the top of her fucking lungs, from five feet away, claiming that my dog was going to bite her. The dog slowly lifted its head towards this walking Clinique warning label, and watched with heavy eyes as she continued to point and scream. He and I simply watched on with equal confusion as she backed away and continued screaming that the dog had rabies, that the dog was dirty, that the dog was attempting to slowly gnaw her leg off. At this point, I can almost guarantee that the dog was far more frightened that the woman was. Eventually, my employer strutted towards the late Joan Crawford and, assumedly, worked everything out, but not before we were threatened by security. Yes, that's right.
We were threatened by security.

This, ladies and gentleman, is the kind of place that makes you wonder if common sense and dignity ever lived here in the first place; If there was anything ever remotely fashionable to wash up on the Palm Beach Municipal Beach other than a '76 Cadillac converted into a Cuban-smuggling raft and Ivana Trump's wedding bouquet. The collective insanity that happens here is not news. No, press releases about the mayor of Sarasota breaking into random strangers' back yards to rescue baby squirrels never makes the eleven o'clock news, and only occasionally gets a nod in the paper. It's just a blip on the radar of supremely strange shit that happens in this isolated little world of ours. If the United States is the kindergarten from hell, then Palm Beach is the mothertard. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can top this place on the Richter scale, and I think the rest of the nation is pretty much okay with that. They typically can cope with our "zanyness" because the Texans and, god forbid, even the New Yorkers could never relate to us without having lived here. They graciously acknowledge our existence, and sometimes even fantasize about the tropical climate and sandy beaches of glorious Flah-rida because they believe that where they live simply sucks.

To those people, I believe I have already stated my warning; my manifesto as a born-and-raised Floridian. I have witnessed this madness first hand, future snow-birds, and all I can say is that I will never be the same.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Science of Sleep Space

They say the bedroom is the key to the soul. It's where life happens, like the living room only with more personality. More intimacy. People never bother to put slipcovers on their beds because, really, who are they trying to impress? The bedroom is something that belongs to you and only you, or you and your partner respectively. It's a birds eye view into who you are, simplified. But in the design world, the bedroom is a battlefield. It's a rabbit hole stuffed with posturepedic mattress pads and personalized sleep numbers. When it comes to decor, there are pillowcases and decorative pillows and shams and blankets, not to mention the lowest common denominator of the comforter. But really, what is all this shit and more importantly, is it really necessary?

I've lived my whole life with two X chromosomes, and I still couldn't tell you what a duvet cover is without Googling it. Granted, I'm not exactly high society in breeding. I also couldn't tell you which side of the plate the salad fork goes on and what the appeal is in having a Pomeranian except as a doorstop. But bedroom anatomy has always fascinated me. It's a strange and interesting way to mask who you are, in both a decorative and personal sense.

I've grown up in a place where bedrooms were both taboo and gathering grounds all in one. Whenever venturing across the street to visit my friends in elementary school, we would romp around the house endlessly, hiding in the pantry and exploring every nook and cranny in that tiny bungalow. Yet, even on the most spontaneous of visits, that bedroom door was always closed and locked tightly. I wasn't even allowed the grace of a peek, and for that matter nor do I think their own kids had ever seen inside that iron maiden of a room. To suburbanites, the bedroom is for sleeping. Anything else is simply out of the question and possibly harmful to their reputation as outstanding citizens.

Conversely, in my house the bedroom was the heart of the house. I would always spend Saturday mornings hopping from my bed to my mothers, cozying up and watching cartoons while eating Apple Jacks straight out of the box. Our bedrooms represented us. Mine was always teetering just on the edge of messy, with posters tacked to any available wall-space and books strewn across the floor like a Bradbury battlefield. My mother's, on the other hand, was always a complete mess, and we usually had to share the bed with stacks of papers and boxes. She slept on one side and her college-ruled counterpart slept on the other, yet despite the crowd of cardboard and pulp, her room always felt just right. Cozy and welcoming, always warm, even on frigid mornings, and this in itself gave me comfort.

There's a certain message behind the concept of the bedroom, both physically and emotionally. It's the kind of place that is always reserved for the best room of the house, the most spacious and glorified sector of any apartment of bungalow. In this, it's obvious that we put a pretty high importance in this one, simple room. It's where we decorate as we please, some opting for a JC Penny's floor model of a bed, others wanting only a mattress slouched on the floor with some comfortable sheets thrown over it. The better of the two is really a matter of personal preference, which is what makes the bedroom so great. You can be whoever you want to be. You can be yourself. You can be someone else. This room, his crazy little room, is all yours, and very few will have the audacity to criticize you for it.

Bedrooms are human, and although many gnaw endlessly on design catalogues and floor plans trying to map out decorating choices, I say fuck feng shui. The real heart behind the room is something personal that bedspreads and allergen-tested sheets can't penetrate. The bedroom has history. It has life. This room, this little piece of doubly-expensive drywall, this is us. And that is something that even those reserved suburbanites cannot deny.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Resolution

I'm one of those superstitious types that believes the key to a great new year is a great beginning. I try to spend every New Years Eve somewhere magnificent; swinging concerts, quiet home parties with sparkling juices and champagne glasses, empty patios with tiny lights strung up like billions of electric galaxies. The beginning of the year signals the beginning of a new chapter in life where anything could happen.

Yet despite all of New Years Eve's effervescent glory, what really matters is what happens after that. The new year gives us a perfect opportunity to fine-tune ourselves and "become the change that we want to see in the world" through a college-ruled list of resolutions. Even if it's something as everyday as "lose weight" or "stop smoking", it's a perfect start to becoming more comfortable with yourself and, in turn, a happier person.

My resolutions for this fabulous and furthering year are simple, almost mundane, but hardly strict: Get back on the organic bandwagon after jumping off in pursuit of Sloan's famous ice cream and Pret a Manger brownies, be more simple with my paychecks, travel instead of saying that I'll travel next holiday, etc. It's nothing as gallant as "lose weight," but I hold a firm belief that if I lose any more weight I'll quite possibly disappear from the face of this little Earth.

We're only four days into 2008, and already it seems like a pretty swinging year. Barack Obama has swept the Iowa caucuses, my boyfriend has, somehow, found a Wii and snatched it out from under the watchful gaze of a steady soccer mom, and the usual heat-stroke of a winter in South Florida has dissipated into a fifty degree wonderland. But more importantly, everyone seems
happy. Some distant planet must have gone retrograde, because it seems like love is all around. I don't think I have to mention what a rare occurrence this is, especially right after the often-stressful holiday season, but here it is nonetheless, rejuvenating folks with a smile and a cup of joe.

I have a funny feeling that this is going to be a very good year, even with the craziness and maddening thrills that are bound to happen. I'm hardly an indigo child, but I've got impeccable faith in this hunch, even if it's just paperback fiction. The funny thing about the new year is that the only way to find out is to buckle yourself in, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Where It's At

What does it mean to really be curbed? Curbed is not about being deterred from what you are. It's not about turning the other cheek and chaining back your inner-child. Curbed is about the twists and turns in life. It's about the zany and sparkling underbelly of arts, culture, and society as we know it. To be curbed is to drive through life with one wheel scraping along the unexpected and another teetering on normality. To curb it is to park in the middle of the highway and walk the rest of the way. It's about the journey, the road, and the people you meet along the way.

Curbed is about how culture affects us and what we can come up with next. It's about the good, the bad, the crazy and the calm. It's about being asinine and getting away with it. It's about being cool, and putting a definition on what cool is anyway. It's about taffeta dresses and finding a Wii and the next episode of Lost and falling in love.

Curbed is about everything silly. It's about being undecided because you can't figure out what you love the most. It's about the Lego blocks of society, insignificant on their own, although a choking hazard, but when put together they can make this huge and magnificent picture of where we stand.

Quintessentially, Curbed is about people. It's not a culture blog. It's a culture jam. Culture blogs itself on its own because, really, it
invented the blog. Curbed is the American Beauty-esque lifestyle that we can all relate to, even though it seems so hard to define. It's milkshakes and baseball games, Donald Trump and Youtube. A high school course on culture, society, and what makes the modern world go round.

Curbed is us. It's here. We are a curbed culture, and when you look closely there are people curbing it all around.