May 30, 2012

Faded Glory

These fabrics and colors are faded, but bright. These are worn in, soft, humble pieces of clothing that don't scream out about anything in particular. But they exude a quality of longevity that comes from fit, function, and most importantly from the intangible and indescribable element that drew me to each piece. I'm not sure how much of this comes across in the photos. I'm not sure if such things ever can. But when I saw how blown out the highlights are on these iphone pictures, taken in the bright San Francisco afternoon sun, I found it fitting that the light and the gorgeous blossoms on the trees obscure the details, leaving just traces of color and silhouette.

May 18, 2012

Fingering at the Margins

What is the value of digitizing as much printed matter as possible? What comes from our desire to archive? A few days ago, I asked about quick and easy internet access to the periodicals of the past. Such materials, prior to Google Books, could be found in libraries and physical archives. They lived on shelves, perhaps already technologically preserved as microfilm or microfiche.

Clearly we possess a (cultural-technological-socio-political) somehow deeply rooted desire to preserve the past, as evidence of something. But all desires must be checked. Enacting a desire holds the potential to bring about pleasure, and unintentional harm.

We want access to the past. But Google is not magic. I started to think about this in a very peripheral way at school, just over a year ago. The university I attend decided to participate in the Google Books digitization project. A librarian informed me they were shipping a million articles - books, magazines, papers, photos - to Google headquarters. I thought briefly about this shipping process, and the librarians and interns and trucks and boxes involved. I had a tiny piece of information that allowed me to think about this. But still, I did not think about one other major piece of this process, the part that takes place on the other end of the shipping. I allowed myself to just believe in the magic of technology, and it's great promises. I didn't ask any more questions.

I recently discovered a major missing piece. I came across it just days after asking, here on the blog, some questions about the purpose of digitized media of the past. I found this short video, titled Workers Leaving the GooglePlex by Andrew Norman Wilson. It is a monotonous video of workers coming and going from various Google buildings. Most of the content comes from the voice-over narration.

Wilson says this about the video:
Workers Leaving the GooglePlex investigates a top secret, marginalized class of workers at Google’s international corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley. As I documented the yellow badged book-scanning “ScanOps” Google Books workers, I simultaneously chronicled the complex events surrounding my own dismissal from the company. The reference to the Lumiere Brother’s 1895 film Workers Leaving the Factory situates the video within the history of motion pictures, suggesting both transformations and continuities in arrangements of labor, capital, media, and information.

I browsed the portfolio of Mr. Wilson, and found another project based on the ScanOps workers. This collection of still images is described as follows:
ScanOps is (or was) the internal department name for Google’s onsite book scanning contractors.
This new body of work is based on Google Books images in which software distortions, the imaging site, and the hands of ScanOps employees are visible.

These images, for me, speak much more effectively to the range of questions evoked by the (raced and classed) labor of digitizing books. This material process, based on particular values and desires, also creates unintentionally beautiful images. Often, these "mistake" scans show a finger or a hand, wearing little colorful finger covers. These are a few of my favorites. See many, many more on Andrew Norman Wilson's portfolio site.

The Inland Printer – 164

Wohlgemeynte Gedanken über den Dannemar – 113

The Encyclopedia Americana – 879

The Coal Tar Colors – 183

The Inland Printer – 152

Wealth of Nations – 4

Finger Ring Lore – 602

Our Wonderful Progress – 515

A funny thing: In the day and a half I've had this post sitting in my drafts waiting to finalize it, a friend shared (on facebook) a buzzfeed article featuring the same images that went up a few hours ago today. Oh, internet.

Candy Pink and Crystalline

These are my new sunglasses.

I have worn them with an otherwise blue outfit.

The best thing about them, is how they make the world look from the inside. The peripheries are cast in a bright pink halo.

Putting them on puts me in a slightly different world of perception. It's great.

May 17, 2012

Still A Life

1. Marlboro Classics, inaction

2. The center of the studio.

3. I bought a new thing.

4. I've since cut a little off. But still.

Blue Jean Cry Baby

Let's talk about jeans. Non-stretchy, thick as hell, seems like they will last forever, button fly, vintage, real, true, hard working, no bells and whistles, MENS jeans. I bought two pairs. This, for me, is a big deal.

My history with denim is tumultuous. Jeans felt like a torture device when I was a child, and as a child of the American South, they were basically a uniform for most children. I did not care. I refused them. I'm convinced they caused stomach aches. Leggings, tights, and and stretchy bottoms of all sorts have been the saving pant grace in my lifetime. I rejoiced at the advent of stretch denim. It meant I would finally be able to wear jeans that weren't 3 sizes too big. (I resorted to wearing way too big jeans in high school, so they would fall to my hips and thus feel comfortable. This was not grunge-era.) When was that? When my bad pant situation turned into a tight yet cozy pant situation? 2001?

Somehow, recently, actual blue jeans seemed like a thing to have. The stretch jeans, it turns out, do not last. Like most things I spend a good deal of time wearing, I got sick of them all. I decided I could toughen up and get myself some mother fucking 501s.

And so I did.

What you see here are:

1) One pair vintage Levi's 501s (top).
2) One pair Marlboro Classics (bottom).

Both were found in the Castro. The Levi's are a bit more stonewashed or something. There is fading where the previous man owner kept his wallet. They are certainly not the most comfortable on the ole waist, but I keep trying to imagine how they'll feel in like 10 more years. That's the idea, right? I couldn't pass them up because a) I was out shopping for 501s b) I could button these c) they did not look horrendous on my body/legs, and most importantly d) they were marked half off. Of $14.

As for the Marlboro Classics, these are more wearable. Roomier, and already softer. They are a brighter and deeper blue, and made in Italy, to boot. A vintage steal for $12.

Now that I have not one but two pairs of actual jeans, I've been attempting to wear them. So far the results are mixed.

May 16, 2012


The first time I started blogging it was to deal with the change of moving to a more isolated-feeling location (Minnesota). A place that seemed a bit more disconnected from Style, Fashion, Beauty, Glamour, and Artifice than my previous residence in California. I had great fun playing a character who did not fit into this humble environment in terms of daily dress.

Now, I reside in a city. Despite what you may have heard, people in San Francisco do put on airs of "having style" in select locations on a not altogether infrequent basis. I enjoy this, but it also puts my own appearance again into question. What role do I want to play here? What garments suit my needs? (What are my needs?)

Though I maintain a commitment to hot pink (to be further demonstrated), and have investigated select prints, I often find a neutral palette is the best thing for dealing with uncertainty.

These two looks are notable in that I managed to successfully not wear any black. I share them with you because I actually wore them. While I might sound less than confident about these matters, I assure you that these are all garments that suit me quite well. I enjoy them, for the time being.


May 3, 2012

December 16, 2010/Beene Bazaar

I just re-discovered this outfit that never got posted, from (holy shit) a year and a half ago.
The good news: I still like it!
Need to try to work this skirt back onto my body, I guess next winter.

I found this skirt at a vintage store in Minneapolis. Or, was it a resale store? It may very well have been the Everyday People in St. Paul. It's wool and yarn, and vintage Geoffrey Beene!!

The label is 'Beene Bazaar,' one of many clever Beene titles, which changed throughout the years. The best obviously being the 'Beene Bag' tag. I was curious to know more about the Beene Bazaar line, and some cursory googling led to this:

As a full-fledged research nerd, I get unreasonably interested in and excited about old periodicals. The above google news scan from the January 3, 1971 edition of The Milwaukee Journal is probably not nearly as noteworthy to you as this 1997 Spin magazine I just found with Fiona on the cover (and some wonderfully newly vintage-ed clothing ads for things like Sega and UNIONBAY). You're welcome.

Though I remain freaked out about the digitization of things like books and magazine and the general, casual, shameless use of Kindles because I do not want these things to ever be all-digital, it's great to like, have access. I guess. Maybe it's not great to have access. Maybe I should have had to uncover this Spin digging in the back shelves of a thrift store. That would be more #RARE and thus more special. But like, it's so worthwhile and interesting to read these pieces of evidence of other times. Not as times in history, but just as other times in themselves. These bits of paper -- now transmitted to my brain through the painful glow of this finicky, environment-ruining thing on my lap which allows me to paw continuously through more mindless drivel than I ever believed existed in the consciousnesses of other people -- well they are pieces of processes that shaped things, bodies, events, feelings.

Someone once read that laborious description of the Beene SKETCHES (they aren't even actually photographs, just shoddy sketches) and then,  the "Sorry, no mail or phone orders," instruction, and still couldn't resist these offerings. Some actual woman could not wait to get to Gimbels, to get her hands on the latest in "resorting" wear. She saved up a whole one hundred dollars for a tropical blazer in lime, or magenta. She felt something of a pull, and a need, and a desire for these sketched out pieces. Why? Because of Beene? Because of materialism? Because she wanted to look like a sketch in a newspaper?

Because of something else we don't fully understand? 

When I saw the Beene Bazaar skirt, on a rack next to some lamé castoffs, for a moment, I knew. I felt it.