Men’s Bags: Hold-alls, Barrels, Messengers, Duffles.

Recently I went with some good friends to a “gay days” at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. We had an excellent time, and I got to ride the fastest and tallest roller coaster in North America. Although most of us were stone sober we did finally arrive back in New York exhausted at 2AM. As we piled out of the van and hugged good bye I collected a whole foods canvas bag which I had used to carry snacks in that afternoon. Justin and I said goodbye to our friends and walked home. The next morning I realized that I had left my shoulder bag in the trunk of the zipcar.

I’m not quite sure how it happened. I think that the Whole foods bag satisfied my need to be holding something, otherwise I probably would have felt naked and would have figured it out.  Also, we were tired.

Since I live in NYC and I’m ALWAYS carrying around books, gym clothes, extra food, etc. the loss of this bag has disrupted me immensely.  But before I I really go searching for a new bag I decided I would really shop around, and take some time to think about it. Here’s a picture of the bag I lost (the colors are a little different):

Fred Perry Blue Shoulder Bag

There are 3 things to consider for the replacement bag:

  • It needs to work in the office, or at least over casual office attire.
  • It needs to be big enough to hold my gyms stuff (the bulkiest part of that is my sneakers)
  • I like the Retro-look, Bright Colors, and typically don’t wear things with huge logos splashed across the front.

So here are some choices.  Since this bag was Fred Perry I decided that I’d look hard at some other Fred Perry bags, but eventually the search stretched out to other designers.  What does everyone like?

Fred Perry Blue and Gold Barrel

Fred Perry Black Hold-all

Goodale Grey Rain Duffle

Lacoste Blue (or Red) Gymnasium Bag

Speedo USA & UK Hands

Puma “Ferrari Collection” Brown Weekender

French Connection UK Red Shoulder Bag


Fashion aside, there are some pricing/sizing concerns,  but it’s fun to cast a wide net .

the NEXT good thing.

Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn.

This past week I went and saw the play Cock at the Duke theater here in New York.  This is a very sparsely written, sparsely staged show in which a young, handsome man must choose between his boyfriend and a woman who he has unexpectedly fallen in love with.  As Boyfriend and Girl battle for the attention of the indecisive, identity crisis victim there are many funny lines urging him to do what is natural: living a heterosexual social existence, or following his “born in” gayness.  Somehow bisexuality as a concept is only briefly mentioned, but mostly this play is about choice. choice choice choice.

Leaving the theatre I was talking to my companions about how much I liked the show, but how I was surprised that it had opened up this debate which I had thought we already finished. Aren’t we, I said, beyond the point where people believe they can choose their sexuality. We are Born This Way to quote Lady Gaga.  The response I got from my friend surprised me, and it was actually the second time in one week that I had someone describe choice as the next era in identity politics.

Please let me backup: Earlier that week my dear friend Cale and I had a long conversation over ramen about  Lady Gaga (it seems she enters all conversations about identity) and how she was “a disappointment” to Cale.  At first I was indignant.  Who could be disappointed? I balked.  I said it not as a worshiping fan, but as a person alive in 2012. Gaga might be an acquired taste, but she is notable enough and successful enough that “disappointed” felt like an odd word.  Cale explained, and I will now paraphrase:

We’ve already had champions for the just be yourself/just love yourself movement. This is something we covered in the 90s and earlier. “it’s ok to be gay.” “black is beautiful.” These kinds expressions are good because they confront discrimination but they are still based on one era of identity politics: the What-you-are is Who-you-are era.  When Gaga first came on the scene and was acting crazy I was really excited because she wasn’t just acting crazy she was defying categories. What type of person wears a meat dress? well no type. Gaga was creating this elaborate personality that wasn’t actually based on race, religion, or gender.  She was simply who she was, with no category of what she was. And so the underlying message wasn’t What-you-are is Who-you-are, it was: Explode-who-you-are and go invent yourself. This is an era of identity politics with much more choice. But then she released the album Born This Way and everything imploded because you don’t have any creative power anymore; you were just born this way. the end.

I’ve shared this conversation with several people and gotten a lot of mixed responses. But it opened up in my head the concept of looking toward choice as the NEXT good thing.  My theatre companion for the show Cock suggested to me: perhaps this play was operating in a space where this man’s sexuality was a choice and not inherent. After all, there was not easy answer for the main character.  He couldn’t just detect who he was attracted to, he had to choose. And it takes him a play’s worth of time.

So what do I think: I want people to believe it’s ok to be gay. And for now having no explanation other than your genetic makeup is nice. The fact that “it’s not a choice” has been a great defense for gay people, disabled people, and minorities. But as two friends in one week have expressed to me, maybe there’s a new era of social justice where (as long as your not hurting anyone) your choices should be respected too, not just traits that you were born with.  That sentence sounds really obvious when I read it back, but in my mind it was a subtle shift. Perhaps we can have it both ways? what you are is ok… and what you choose is ok too.

New Tech

I’m somebody that cycles through a lot of Google calendars. First of all, when you have close friends who don’t mind sharing their calendar with you it’s not hard to collect a whole fleet of them because it makes planning events much more easy. When can I force you to come over and make soup with me?  Well, it looks like you’re free Thursday!

[On the topic of soup.  I’ve been thinking lately about home much I like inviting people over and cooking for them.  It’s such a nice thing that I don’t think I have much opportunity to do in NYC. Part of the reason is because there’s no room in our apartments, but also everyone is damn busy. My plan is to have a staggered dinner party that takes place on 4 different days throughout the month, that way you can invite everyone you like, and there’s a chance they can make one of the 4 days.  I would tie the days all together with a common menu theme, like serving a different soup each night.  The entire series would be called “4 Great Soups,” or maybe “Soup’s On!”  don’t you wanna be friends with me?]

Any anyway, calendars. I also I tend to set up a new google calendar for each project I’m’ involved in.  Lately I become a volunteer event coordinator for my college alumni group.  It’s a lot of fun but it fills my calendar with deadlines and events.  For this reason I created a new Google Calendar and, more than any other supporting calendar to date, i decided that I REALY needed this to sync alongside my general calendar on my iphone.

I’m just going to warn everybody.  This is more tricky than you expect, because you actually can’t do it from you device.  I snooped around in my settings menu for about 5 minutes before googling for the answer which takes exactly 1 more step than i would have expected in 2012.  You can visit this link for all the hairy details, but basically you’ve got a few steps to link you phone to your google account, THEN you gotta switch to your computer, sign into your google account and visit, a place you’ve never been to before, to select what parts of your google calendar get sent over to your phone.

If you need to do this yourself. good luck. 🙂

People’s History

Why does school happen before you’re grown up?  There are so many things that I would have valued more now that I’ve grown.  there is a book called the People’s History of the United States, by historian Howard Zinn.  When I was a rising junior in high school I remember that we had to read this tome (it was a very thick book) as summer reading and write a summary of each chapter.   By the end of this assignment I should have had a solid overview of all of the major events and time periods between 1942 and Today.  HOWEVER, because i was young and dumb and on summer vacation, I somehow found a way to do the work without actually paying attention to anything.  And nowadays I feel like my historical knowledge is a little patchy, so I’m actually planning to read the whole book again!

Just think of the time I would have saved if I had cared more earlier.  But I guess you can just never predict when a future conversation about the musical  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is going to make you regret your attentiveness in 11th grade.

I also occurs to me that I should probably look for those summaries the next time I’m home at my folks house.

Did this need to be invented?

I’ve got a lot of friends with gift registries right now: for babies, for weddings, etc.  Actually.  Those are the only two reasons I can think of.   the end result is that I’m getting a huge array of home goods paraded in front of me, and some of them are quite funny.  Usually I think their funny because they are so specific. Here’s on i saw today:

The All-in-one avocado tool

Now. I love avocado almost as much as I love air.  In fact,  you’ll notice it ranks well on my all time list of favorite things:

  1. Air
  2. Alligators/Hippos from Fantasia
  3. Avocado
  4. Playing the piano
  5. Singing
  6. NPR
  7. Stationary
  8. Funny Drag Queens
  9. Surprise Endings
  10. Bodybuilders

But do you really need an all-in-one avocado tool? maybe a knife and spoon would get the job done.

Meet your Hero 2 weeks from today

I have a pretty cool job, at a pretty cool place.  and that’s good enough for me.  But sometimes something really cool happens at my job that makes me giddy.  It just so happens that one of these things has happened!

Alan Alda is coming into my office in a few weeks and I’m totally stoked.   You’re all asking: are you a really be fan of M*A*S*H?  No, I’m not, but I was a somewhat regular viewer of the PBS show Scientific American Frontiers when I was growing up.  Something that I’ve always admired about Alan Alda is that he’s an artist (an actor) that spends a lot of time explaining and promoting science.  I actually once read him referred to as “actor and science communicator” because that’s what he does. He himself isn’t really a scientist, he just communicates the science, and makes it interesting and digest-able to laypeople.

Sometime this last year I decided that this exact activity, interpreting science for people using art and media, was just about my favorite thing in the world.  It happened when I got obsessed with NPR’s RadioLab and then I realized that my ideal job in life would be to host science documentaries.  My mind raced: who are my heroes in this field?  I came up with two answers:  1) Bill Nye the Science Guy.  I follow him on twitter, but unfortunately many people have told me he’s a jerk… or was it that his stand-up is really dirty? (or was that Bob Saget?)

2)  Alan Alda. Because He’s so genuinely fascinated by the science and I gotta love him.

Did I get to the point yet?  He wrote a book about Marie Currie and I work for the company that’s publishing it. And in a few weeks he’ll actually be coming into the office to meet everyone.  I have friends who claim they’re used the secret to make things happen. Perhaps this is my own version of that.

Jonah Lehrer and Imagine

Right now I’m reading a book by Jonah Lehrer, called Imagine.  It’s pop-science about how creativity works.  Author Jonah is this prodigy reporter who at the age of 31 had become become a staff writer at the New Yorker and found himself in line behind Malcolm Gladwell as the modern “Idea Man.”  Then his world fell apart.

You can read all about it here, but basically he fabricated some Bob Dylan quotes in his newest book and he has been forced to resign from … his life.

What really interests me is that his publisher Houghton Mifflin has recalled his book, Imagine, the book I’m reading.  The BF asked me if they were also recalling digital copies, which reminded me that Amazon, B&N, and Apple can actually REMOVE books from your digital readers.  Am I alone in thinking that this is crazy and a bit authoritarian?  It’s like you don’t really own it, you just own access to it.  For a while i wasn’t turning my Kindle’s wifi on because I was afraid that the book would evaporate the moment I did! (and I haven’t finished it yet!)

It’s a shame that this guy’s life fell apart.   He was developing into a hero of mine: Smart and driven, all about thinking and science, and not bad looking in certain pics (see below).  If he had been gay too I would have been in love!

Jonah Lehrer

Copy Left

Today I heard an interesting quote (over pizza) from my good friend Cale.  In regard to copyright he says, I believe works should be free as in speech, but not as in beer.  What does that mean? I ask with prosciutto hanging out of my mouth.  It turns out that it means he holds the belief that people shouldn’t have the right to distribute others’ content for free, but that once someone has bought a work they can have free reign with it. Apparently this is a belief touted by “the copy left,” a group of people who believe copyright law stifles creativity and stalls advances in art.  A big topic, sure, but It was exactly what I wanted to hear today.

This all came up because I just made a new mashup last night (Katy Perry vs. Coldplay) and when I tried to post it to youtube it got BLOCKED because they detected that there was copyrighted material in the video.  Give me a break.  DJs work to promote the music that they love, not to decrease sales for the original artists (or gatekeepers).  And in this scenario I have made a new product, it’s taken from found materials, yes, but it is arguably more, and different than the original.  But youtube blocked it, so instead my boyfriend posted the video on his vimeo account and we blew it up all over facebook from there. Problem solved.

There’s a mashup party based out of San Francisco that absolutely adore, called Bootie.  It’s an awesome site, with a pirate as their mascot, and I have gone to every New York party they have thrown except for one.  I’ve been following their blog for about 3-4 years, so long that I have no memory of who introduced me to it, or how I found them.  Nevertheless, despite the long time we’ve spent together it was only recently that Bootie + Pirate came together in my mind to form the realization: oh! pirated, like music!  because mashing up is potentially a violation of copyright.

I argue: Violation, but not defamation.

A few weeks ago I attended an Off Broadway show called 3C, by a playwright named David Adjimi.  The stage show lifts characters and environments directly from the show 3’s company, apparently with the intention of mocking past eras for their homophobia and racism. Now the TV series is suing the production for defaming the show and it’s characters.  Defamation is a weird thing, because couldn’t I right editorial after editorial describing how I thought a show was terrible? I’m defaming it then, but for some reason it’s different if you use names and text from the original work. 3C was definitely painting the 3’s company characters in an unappealing light (although I had never seen the TV series before), but there’s no conclusive proof that this could actually be damaging to the franchise.  I read later that the TV series people were also planning a stage show and that their complaint was mostly focused on perceived damage to this specific project.

Now, I ask you: is remix culture defaming original pop? no way. I wonder why Youtube and Soundcloud can’t look studios in the face and say “get real”. Studios: I can’t understand why you’re not excited that people are blowing your stuff up all over the internet.

I’m not really in the mood to rant, but I’ve been increasingly interested in copyright conversation recently.  For about the past year it’s been one of my favorites, ever since a NPR (or something) sparked it as an interest of mine.

Below is the video my boyfriend made to accompany the mashup. Comments on the work, or the morality are welcomed.



Putting on my yarmulke


A Different Sort of Morning

A Thursday out of the office.  A different sort of morning.

For me, a new test. Ground-breaking.

With hot sun on our faces we planted you there in an orchard of stones.

Our eyes released their sorrows, and we let you down easy.  Death absolves many sins.

He took his turn with the shovel and I held him afterword. He has always prayed to his grandmother, but now he can pray to you as well.

Was it already time for this type of worry? How old we suddenly seem. How married, even if we’re not.

I think: can there really be 3 more of these ahead?

The ride home leaves family reaching for the precious take-away, or perhaps a take-back in the face of what they’ve lost.  Stories and jokes are easiest to find, but perhaps there’s a lesson as well.  All agree:  Even in death you went gently, and without rage.

Farewell father, farewell fighter. 

Thank you, man who made the man I stand by.

Farewell father, farewell fighter.

Enjoy your rest. Amen.

Famous Pop Singers Who Record on a Bus

If you have talked to me in the past 4 weeks chances are I brought up a New Yorker article I’ve been reading. Every time I talk about this article I laugh because it sounds like i’m name dropping the New Yorker to sound smart, so I quickly correct and explain: no no no it’s about Rihanna. Well, I suppose it’s about the team behind Rihanna- her producers and top-liner Ester Dean.

As a “manufactured” artist Rihanna really has a village behind her (which doesn’t bother me so long as she’s dong her part well).  But even if I knew that other people wrote the songs, and R only sings them, I was still surprised to hear the process from beginning to end, including the strung out recording schedule. Apparently Rihanna is the most prolific pop singer, with an album every year and a tour that never stops.  This leaves little time for actual recording. Article writer John Seabrook reports:

“The production notes for Rihanna’s single “Talk That Talk” say that her vocal was recorded on “the Bus” in Birmingham, Alabama, in Room 538 of the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, and in Room 526 of the Savoy, in London. When I remarked on this peripatetic recording method to Hermansen, he replied, ‘It’s music as aspirational travel.'”

This is the tid-bit I quoted to friends again and again.  How funny that a song, which is almost always experienced in full over 3.5 minutes, would take multiple weeks and three countries to complete.  It’s kind of a let-down to think of the internal swells of the verse and chorus that never actually poured into one another- It was all just assembled after the fact.  

I wonder if this is sad for Rihanna. I’m sure at one point in her life she told someone that she loved music, otherwise, why would she be where she is today?  Do you think Rihanna likes recording two lines here, and 5 lines here.  Maybe she would rather go into the studio and blare the whole this out at once… if she would ever stop touring.

But then again, usually an article is enjoyed in one sitting- and i somehow made this one last 4 weeks. Imagine me finding the time to read Game of Thrones.Image