Saturday, December 27, 2008

Shoppings in New York

I have been looking forward to shopping in New York. First there was a trip to Roosevelt Field, a gigantic mall on Long Island in Nassau County. I'm a proud shopper of Woodfield Mall out in Schaumburg, so I was curious to compare and contrast the 8th and 9th largest U.S. malls, respectively.

Man scoping out the parking situation...he will later make a crazy turn out of his spot (Camry behind him) to get in that line on the left, causing the Audi in the back to get pissed off and not let him in, making us wait for four cars to pass by before we can continue on to get blocked by a parked taxi and then go around the lot to get in a different line to get out of the single exit for this parking structure.

For better or for worse, there is little documentation of this trip. It consisted mostly of navigating through densely populated crowds, since it was the day after Christmas. Roosevelt Field feels much more cramped than Woodfield, too, so that added to the chaotic atmosphere. Later, we spent an hour and a half in the parking lot waiting to get out. I have never seen such an inefficient parking exit in my life; I'm pretty sure that Woodfield can get bad, but I don't think it'd take over an hour to get back on the expressway. However, I got a sweater on sale at Club Monaco and a purple and gray striped shirt on sale at Zara (first success since 2005 in Paris!), so I can't camplain (sic).

Today, we went to Manhattan, mostly downtown. Who knew there was an Ippudo in New York?! This past summer, I was told that Ippudo was famous in Japan and was taken to one in the Queen's Tower of Yokohama. Reunited!

Corner of 4th Ave & 10th St--Ippudo is on the first floor of the building with the wood-y facade

Left: Shiromaru from Yokohama; Right: Shiromaru from NYC

Ippudo is known for their tonkotsu soup, which is a tasty pork-based broth. I was surprised to see that the NYC location was kind of posh, with dim lighting (hence the difference in color between the two photos?), fancy murals, mirrors, and couches. There were a number of Japanese customers, including families and at least one businessman with a suitcase next to him. I'm certain there were more Japanese people in Ippudo than there are in the entire Chicagoland area. Anyway, that's a good sign that the ramen is good, which it most certainly was.

We moved on to Uniqlo and Muji, where I got down to business. Inspired by Phoebe and Gwyneth Paltrow, I got a pencil skirt more or less on impulse, though I did try it on. I also got black skinny jeans and "Warm Up" herringbone-patterened tights. To my surprise, the skirt was $30 less than I expected. Score! At Muji, I got a planner, small-ish notebooks, a purple pen, and socks made of recycled plastic.

Ozawa Seiji!? Or just a cool Japanese man!?

I really like the boutique-y part of SoHo, along Prince and Spring streets between the subway station and Broadway. I've become familiar with the area over time more than other parts of Manhattan--we met with Jenni there last year, and in previous years we've scoped out the Bape store and bumbled about. This year, the most remarkable difference was that I heard a lot of French, German, and other European languages I was unable to identify. It seems like they were often confused about where they were, thus getting in my way, but nonetheless generally happy that the dollar is pathetic.


Before heading back to Long Island, we stopped at the JJ Hat Center, which Sean recommended, not too far from Penn Station. It looks like they only carry men's hats, but hats are hats and gender doesn't really matter. A nice, enthusiastic and hat-knowledgable man helped me out. I ended up with a beret, and am currently sitting on whether or not to get the Bowler/Derby hat. What kind of statement would one make by wearing such an ostentatious hat? There is one other hat store I'm eyeing, so we'll see about that on Monday.

Also, can I just say that 0% to 4.25% tax on clothes is insane? Why didn't I notice this before? It kind of doesn't make sense, but again--can't camplain (sic)!

To be continued.

Christmas '08


Above, I am wearing some Christmas presents (Nike pullover, Coach bag, Frye boots), and sitting in front of my dad's (32" Aquos with a functional remote control). Lately, I have been experimenting with the curling iron. I was aiming to look like Japanese women in their 20's, like Aoyama Thelma, but my hair is too short and I'm probably curling in the wrong direction. As a result, I get a 40's style, or old-lady-style hairdo, as my mom called it.

Later that day, we left Chicago for Long Island.


We flew directly east from Midway, so this is Chicago from a southern perspective. Chicago's grid is pretty awesome at night from this view.

Monday, December 22, 2008



My second cousins from Yokohama, Mitsutaka and Mai, just left today after visiting us for a week. They were real troopers, coming to Chicago in mid-December after visiting San Fransisco for a few days. When they arrived at our apartment, they started unleashing the omiyage, or gifts, from the motherland. Christmas and Hanukkah came early!!!

Apparently their father gets a lot of cosmetic samples, so they generously shared some of their fortune. With the exception of the Chanel lip palette, the above are all sample products. Clockwise from the top left: facial moisturizing masks, hair treatment oil (that I saw and eyed at Mitsuwa, incidentally), heating packs, sun block base, more heating packs, flowery-scented lotion-soaked cotton wipes, strawberry-honey lip cream, buttery lip cream, sheer "sakura pink" lip cream, and a shimmery facial powder that supposedly makes one more photogenic.


The Chanel lip palette was from their mother--this set is apparently only available in Asia. I played around with it today and got overly excited and applied all four colors to my lips.

They had an early flight today, so when we got home I just fell asleep in the heated table. I couldn't even play Animal Crossing. After I woke up, the living room immediately started to fall into a most disorderly state. Naturally.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sebastien Tellier @ Schubas, 12/9/08


I don't know how people find out about weird musicians like Sebastien Tellier, but I discovered him through American Apparel. I guess one could have found out about him through Eurovision as the failed French entry last year, given the super catchy song, "Divine." Since American Apparel is openly obsessed with sex, I guess they allied with Sebastien Tellier to sell his latest CD, "Sexuality," in stores. The store and musician also came up with the "Sexuali-Tee," which is basically an oversized t-shirt made of slightly sheer viscose. The tag says machine washable, but there was a sticker on the shirt that said "Dry Clean Only." Not sure which to believe, I layer it with other shirts and go the dirty hipster route by not washing it at all.

Sebastien Tellier is a strange man. He was much older than I expected, had a saggy gut, and is losing the hair on his head. When he spoke in English, he had a strong French accent, so perfect I thought it was an act. Then I realized he's just being French. His in-between-song-talks were hilarious, though it wasn't clear if we were laughing because of his accent, his foreignness, his age, or because we found him to be inherently funny. But he talked about how fat his mom was; how Jesus was in him as he banged on the piano; how the holidays are about family family family; how he loves his water, by which he meant his wine; and he threw in a "thanks to Chicago for the bisexuals." He had some mid-song antics as well. Towards the end of "L'amour Et La Violence," he stopped playing the piano and continued to sing but while laying belly-down on the piano. He got intimate with the microphone for the encore, "Sexual Sportswear." It must be a lot easier to act this foolish at such an age when you can hide behind a full-blown beard + mustache, long wispy sweaty hair, and signature thick sunglasses.

Anyway, it was a fun, if bizarre, concert, and I'm very glad I went. The only photos I have are Nik's from his iPhone (above), since my camera is undergoing minor repair, and Mordecai classically forgot his at home after I told him to bring it and checked with him to make sure he had it and he said yes. The only proper photo I have is of myself in my Robin's Egg Blue Sexuali-Tee. I was mad no one else wore their Sexuali-Tees to the concert! I was expecting everyone to look like American Apparel models, but there were only tons of beards and normal people. And four French people in our corner taking pictures and recording the concert.


I've been wearing the Sexuali-Tee, which looks quite unremarkable in this photo, with a long-sleeved shirt underneath for warmth (and dirt protection). This post is also a means to show everyone my new fur vest. My inspiration comes from two sources--the most recent being the Beaver Man from the Turkey Testicle Festival, and the other being Rachel Zoe. I watched all her shows online, and started to realize that her excessive style is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I did not hunt down beavers or browse a vintage designer store, but I happened to come across this thing at Forever 21. It came with some stringy thing to tie around the waist, which I am not interested in using. It's very warm and the acrylic fur is surprisingly soft. It also protected me from looking like the ultimate nerd for wearing my Sebastien Tellier Sexuali-Tee shirt to the Sebastien Tellier concert. That's like wearing a Mariah Carey concert t-shirt to her concerts, something I have yet to cross off my "To Do List Before I Die."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oji Afternoon

It's looking like Oji isn't the brightest dog in recent years. I opened a bag of Cheetos and ate some, but he didn't hear or smell them from the distance. He doesn't understand doorbells and doesn't understand what guests are. I walked into the house the other day, and was basically standing behind him until he acknowledged my presence. Bad guard dog!

He's also pretty tolerant of shenanigans. My mom pets him with her feet, mushing his muzzle and face, and yesterday she claims she vacuumed his head and neck, the latter of which he seems to have enjoyed very much.

Today was a home alone day for him, but I had some time to let him out in the back yard and whatnot. He enjoys human company a lot, even if he has to settle for less than my dad. We hung out late this afternoon, though that mostly consisted of me sleeping off my small but persistent cold and him lying around waiting for my dad to come home.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

In Defense of Black Friday

I had no idea there are people out there who feel so strongly about Black Friday that they propose outlawing it, until I came across Phoebe's post (last bullet point). But Black Friday doesn't have to be about Wal-Mart (how come no one ever fusses about Target even though they are anti-union and lock you in their giant box store if you work overnight?), flat screen TVs (most on sale tend to be crimes against humanity anyway--what business does a light bulb company have making them?), being a part of a mob, or fighting over toys. As trite as it sounds, I think Black Friday is whatever you make of it. Some people abstain, some line up, some look at the line and end up at White Castle, some shop online, and some go in the afternoon when the Target and Best Buy parking lots are not as bad as they are on any given Sunday afternoon.

I'm guessing that those who are so appalled by Black Friday are horrified by the Wal-Mart story from Long Island (don't act like I don't know you, Nassau County!), or the Toys "R" Us (I wish I could type the backwards "R") incident in L.A., and by the general mobbish chaos displayed in news photos and video footage. This is a legitimate reason to be wary of Black Friday, and I sympathize with this concern. I've never seen Black Friday on bad behavior, but I witnessed some tragic human beings at the H&M x Comme des Garcons opening. No one was trampled or hurt, but in many ways it was traumatizing: when I left H&M that morning, I had to adjust back to reality. Outside of H&M, I kept remarking to myself how there weren't a million people in a small space, no overtly nasty people, no shoving or pushing, no running or jogging after clothes, and no hawkish monitoring of people bringing back clothes from dressing rooms. Every person I talked to afterwards, I wanted to say to them, "I saw H&M x CdG! It was nuts! Let me tell you about it!" but I figured that hardly anyone in the philosophy department knows what Comme des Garcons is, nor would care that they released a collaboration line at cheap-o H&M. Anyway, I imagine this is the kind of "being moved" that one might feel about Black Friday.

But that doesn't mean that Black Friday needs to be banned or regulated. The problem isn't about the retailers and the products for sale so much as it is about irrational people. So consumerism isn't the issue, it's what people let it do to them. Of course, not everyone will be lovely at "doorbuster" sales, so some basic assistance from the retailers will be necessary to calm these "special" people down. See Niketown or St. Alfred when they have popular shoe releases, and Target for Wii when it was harder to get. In these successful cases, retailers help consumers stay sane: they honor the line and let only a certain number of people in at a time. But this is merely a matter of organization and minimizing high population density. The real issue isn't about businesses or governments drawing the line between wanty and greedy, but about people determining where this line is drawn within themselves.