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.