photos of the summer

Sorry about the lack of updates, just got back from two weeks holiday in Paris and Côte d’Azur (photos to come). It was wonderful! Anyway, I’m spending a lazy afternoon at my uncle’s in NJ today (i.e. mass eating, napping, and, why not, some blogging.) I’ve been meaning to post a few randoms from the summer. Like every New Yorker this year, I know I’ve been complaining a lot about how short and cold the past summer was, but I must say that we had a great run. One of my favorite summers for sure.

IMG_0491The start of the summer: David Byrne at Propsect Park

3Summerfestival show at UnionDocs

4Pool Party, Kent Avenue

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9Butch Cassidy at the Sundance Kid screening, Brooklyn Bridge Park

10Badlands screening, Cafe Ortine

11Edward Scissorhands screening, Brooklyn Bridge Park

12Brunch, Schiller’s

13Philly. My uncle: ballin’ outta control!

14Italian block party, Williamsburg

15Puerto Rican block party, Williamsburg

16.5Woods, Whitney Museum

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19Red Hook food stalls

20Molly’s new tattoo

21Rockaway Beach!

22Le Brumisateur, ahhh!

23Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach? – Herman Melville

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France photos soon!

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this month at uniondocs

Last night’s Examined Life screening went over spectacularly well, thanks to everyone who was able to come out. Tonight, we’re having a radio listening session with Sean Cole and special guests: This American Rest Stop: An Evening of Radio.

Later this month at UnionDocs:

Sat, Oct 10: New World Order & Darkon, 6 and 8:30 PM (Special DVD Launch Screening)

Sun, Oct 11: In A Dream, 7:30 PM (Special DVD Launch Screening)

Sat, Oct 17: Kings of the Sky, 7:30 PM

Hope to see you here!

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love in the afternoon

In my previous post, I mentioned a part in Eric Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon. Here are a couple of my favorite screenshots from the film.

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the sartorialist

Last week, I broke my no-north-of-36th street rule (I work on 36th and rarely have occasion to venture north) to attend The Sartorialist book signing at Barneys. I completely enjoy these occasional visits uptown, if only because it makes me feel like a tourist in my own city. This, of course, belies what is actually my relative prejudice for those parts of New York that lie at a remove from my routines. But hey, a chance to meet Scott, get the new book, and get it signed? Done!

IMG_0277Garance Doré (of the eponymous blog) and Scott Schuman at Barneys New York

But as I was waiting in line, enjoying champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and seriously world class people watching, I couldn’t help but ruminate on Scott Schuman’s project. Ironically, it was during this event that I really began to rethink my position on The Sartorialist.

photo ;)

To be sure, I love street fashion blogs.* I think their ability to wed the tension between anonymity and visibility is amazing. More so, they perfectly inform the narrative of the metropolis, that we are all flaneurs enacting our own image of the self and the city. The idea that the person in the photo could be you or me fulfills the condition of participant, but the format of a blog also gives us the ability to hold that moment (and ceaselessly comment on it), bringing the added dimension of critique and self-awareness, but also detachment – as though looking in from the outside.

This sense of a street life where the presence of people and their character, style, wit, and humor are on parade is probably one of the things I love most about living here (or any other city). There is such vitality in the manifold points of potentiality embedded in the city. This is the life of the street. This is why I walk. I am here reminded of a section in the narration of one of my favorite Rohmer films, Love in the Afternoon. In it, the main character speaks about women and street life in Paris. I feel a total affinity to the main character’s musings:

What makes the streets of Paris so fascinating is the constant yet fleeting presence of women whom I’m almost certain never to see again. It’s enough that they’re there, indifferent, conscious of their charm, happy to test its effect on me as I test mine on them.

So for me, in many ways my interest in fashion is really more about a means to present street life, people, and the city – it is not tied up in fashion as exclusivity or opulence, but rather fashion as the material on which one presents the body as an instrument and as communication. As such, blogging presents a wonderful problematic: how to bring forward the moods, qualities, gestures, and movements  of people in the public sphere without the crass elitism and jealous contestations of cultural capital. For me, the blog can be powerful to the extent that it is the electronic mediation of public space. Indeed, might street fashion blogs locate those in resistance to a fashion of pure consumption?

No? Well, okay, whatever. But it’s no secret that The Sartorialist gleefully steps to the industry shuffle. I suppose this is just another art v. commerce argument and in this case The Sartorialist openly hazards the distinctions between the two. Of course, it’s not the only blog guilty of this, many other fashion blogs are run by industry stalwarts conversant with and eager to play accomplice to the fashion biz. But what’s interesting is that the conditions of their medium (immaterial, semiotic, post-industrial) have not yet been reified. Blogging about fashion, then, becomes a new kind of labor, tilling the informatic terrain so that it might be imagined and ultimately produced as a space of capital exchange rather than, perhaps, an electronic extension of the life of the street.

I don’t blame industry folks for trying to forward their particular role in enacting the usual practices of commerce. We know that’s going to happen. But what I want is for bloggers like Scott Schuman to be more honest about their work. If dude wants to build his credibility using a blog to coral magazines and designers into his portfolio, by all means do! But if he in fact started the blog out of frustration with the gap between the runway and “real life,” as described on the blog, he couldn’t have fucked up more! This is precisely the prevaricating function of capital as it enters the matrices of the Internet. His project obfuscates the highly networked world of fashion, parading instead under the dubious herald of blog culture as authentic: photos of people like you and me. (Well, you and me don’t look like this tool!)

(from Sartorialist, Sep 19)

Or this, thank god! (Sorry, Hamish.)

(from Sartorialist, Sep 18)

I was particularly disgusted with a recent post featuring a homeless man, titled Not Giving Up (complete with a haltingly conservative, patronizing justification of “style”), which I read as another empty bid to ennoble the project as something other than gratuitous. Why didn’t you just call him a good looking monkey and be done with it, Scott? It is specifically this need to pay lip service to a notion of enlightened, guilt-free culture that irritates me. The Sartorialist all but derails the possibility of populist fashion yet asserts as its mandate these very conceits. Why can’t we be earnest here? I don’t care if this blog is gratuitous. Why can’t we sincerely indulge in something vapid rather than pretend all is defensible, just, and haute couture?

(from Sartorialist, Aug 31)

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this, something Refinery29 posted on how to get shot by the Sart himself. Note gleeful cynicism!!! Yay guy with camera!!!

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*Right now, I’m following a handful on a daily basis, found under the street fashion section of my blogroll.

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this month at uniondocs

After our summer holiday off, we’re back and starting up the new fall season of programming. I’m actually a little late to posting this; on Friday we workshoped a work-in-progress doc called The Minutemen about a group of volunteer watchmen policing the U.S./Mexico border and yesterday we had a 16 mm screening of the T.A.M.I. Show, a wonderful rock music variety show featuring early Stones, Beach Boys, Chuck Berry and a very badass set by James Brown. Tonight, we screened I’m A Stranger Here Myself, a doc by Nicholas Ray.

And later this month:

Sita Sings The Blues September 12th – 7:00pm Reception and DocuClub/Arts Engine mixer

Ingmar Bergman Documentary + Karin’s Face September 13th – 7:30PM (I’m super excited about this! I don’t think this has ever screened in NYC!)

Screening on 16mm print George Stoney Weekend September 19th & 20th – 7:30pm (George Stoney will be present for Q&A after each screening.)

Also! We’ve confirmed that we’ll be screening one of my recent favorites, Examined Life, by Astra Taylor on October 3rd.

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long island city, queens

I was sorting through some old photos and came across these I took in Long Island City, Queens during the Guapo shoot earlier this summer. And I know, LIC isn’t Brooklyn, but I keep a fairly agnostic scope of “Brooklyn” with this blog. After all, the banner was actually taken in Queens, in the courtyard of the MoMA’s P.S.1.

I just love how weird LIC is. There are blocks and blocks of great industrial spaces full of warehouses and ex-factories and look at these terrific hand-painted signs. Have a look…

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test driving cars as a recreational sport, pt. 2

A while back, I posted about the time I test drove an old Thunderbird, which was a hoot. And I would be lying if I said that was just once because now and then I’ll find a car on craigslist that I just can’t pass up. It’s been a while since the last time I posted on cars, but here’s follow up from what I hope will be a series of car vignettes.

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Bimmer Auto Sales, 1998 BMW 840i. Long Island City, Queens.

The BMW 8 Series is a curious thing. Its model run, 1989 – 99, missed the greed-is-good years of the 80s, but had all the breeding and extravagance for the yuppie-gone-Bateman set: a large, powerful grand touring coupe produced in exclusive numbers and, with a V-12, exceeded $100,000 USD. But in part because BMW has consistently failed in its bids for the high-rung sports car segment (M1 and Z8 come to mind), the 8 Series today is just an arcane model that comes up in the wash once in a while. More importantly for me, though, is that this is a car I always dreamed about when I was little — I thought it was the coolest thing ever! So when I found this 840ci offered for sale by a used BMW dealer in Long Island City (admittedly, for a suspiciously low price) I had to go take a look!

Upon seeing the car, the first thing I noticed was the car’s incredible presence, it’s just huge! Land yacht huge. Very low to the ground, which adds to its presence. I suppose a bit like I imagined it when in grade school. My excitement was tempered, though, by a few things: I noticed it was emblazoned with M-sport badges everywhere, an instant red flag as BMW never produced an “M” version of the 840.* This fact, coupled with the strong smell of cheap cologne wafting from the tired leather seating made for a very colorful (and displeasing) idea of what this car had gone through. Even still, I could picture myself in the car; a nice weekender for uncorking hairpin turns in the country or a good long distance road trip or maybe even an occasional track day.

So anyway, heavy middle-aged dealer guy is sitting next to me, taking away from my fantasies with his crushing commentary on sales-these-days, his-wife-that his-kids-this. Whatever. Not too annoyed, after all this is a car I remember lusting after as a kid. And now, if only my younger self could see me! Here I am sitting in one! Doing my best to pretend the traffic light on Northern Blvd is a starting grid, I excitedly wait for the light to change. Minute passes. Finally, green! I bury my right foot into the throttle and… nothing. A small lurch. Car gently moves away from the intersection with no urgency whatsoever. My mind reels. But. But! It has a 4.4L V8 for chrissakes! Motor builds to 3000 RPM, a banal number. The car moves without drama. But! It’s a god damn 840! It’s supposed to move! 282 BHP! It doesn’t have a B pillar! It has those cool headlights that only pop-out when you need them! Why the hell aren’t I pinned to the back of the seat?! By the time 4000 comes around and I let out a yawn. That’s 310 foot pounds of torque at the wheels and I got nothing. My childhood race car fantasies are gone. It doesn’t go to 5000. I sigh, sheepishly come to a stop sign, turn in and head back to the dealership. It is over.

BMWs seem to shake the worst out in people. Associated with power hungry yuppies, brash parvenus, and – in the case of all things “pre-owned” – low rent ballers. And worse still is the fact that I love BMWs. Not for any of these reasons, but because they are truly one of the last automakers that has maintained stringent fidelity to their mandate: fast, balanced, no bullshit performance cars.** Unfortunately, this particular car felt tired and probably had been through an unsavory cast of owners, but it was enough of a reminder that, hoakey as it, some fantasies are best kept as just that: fantasies.

*I don’t mean to make a Moby Dick of a post on the details of this particular car, but if I may vent briefly… BMW makes fast cars. BMW has a special department that makes some of their cars go extra fast. These cars are designated with “M” for “Motorsport.” However, what separates charlatans from the devout is whether or not the owner has plastered “M” badges to a non-M model. Clearly in this case, the previous owner was an imbecile.

**Exceptions: X3, X5

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