The Flip Side of Jet-Setting

While waiting the four hours in between the flight I just got off of (7 hours and 20 minutes of hip-aching, sleeping-aid-induced “rest”) and the flight that I am yet to grin and bare (5 hours and 25 minutes of lucid aversion to humanity), I get a text message from a friend who claims to be jealous of my around-the-world jet-setting lifestyle.  This is after we exchange our favorite French words – his is a phrase to tell someone they have a booger in their nose; mine is “Banoffee” which is a fictitious word French Starbucks uses to call their delicious looking banana-coffee tart trapped behind a fingerprint smudged window.

Another text message comes in, this in response to my apology that I did not go to their showcase in LA.  I respond something to the effect of “Very sorry.  Was in Paris.  Moved to NY.  Hope it went well!”  He comes back with, “Must be rough.”

Actually, it is.

The only flight I have ever had that defied all conventional opinion about what flying is (crap food if there is food, recycled air, subsequent illness, coughing, sneezing, wheezing fat people spilling over into your seat, etc) was last year when by the grace of God I was able to upgrade my flight to London to First Class.  Holy shit.  Now, that’s living.  I couldn’t go ten minutes without a gentleman in a crisp blazer addressing me by “Miss Bahn” and asking if I would care to have my wine glass refilled.  It has since become a goal of mine to make this extravagance a mandatory in my future life of assumed awesomeness.

I’ve flown First Class once.

The rest, my friends, is steerage.

There’s nothing glamorous or envy inducing about flying for so many consecutive hours that you begin to feel your jeans tighten around your legs that are getting progressively more swollen from lack of proper oxygen and blood flow.  Currently, I am experiencing a tingling sensation in both legs that I would normally attribute to “dead leg” but am more concerned that it might just be that I am undergoing massive blood clotting.

Similarly, being crammed in between a window and a French man who is enjoying every morsel of his freeze dried plane food while you are nearly on the verge of peeing your pants, is not what I would call my idea of a swinging good time.  I had to pinch the inside of my fingers while he debated between eating his table crackers or ginger snap cookies just to keep the flood at bay.

I don’t know what it is about Business and First Class, but each and every time I pass through them on the poor girl’s walk of shame, I note how sedated and calm they are.  They don’t chatter obnoxiously or hover down the contents of a greasy McDonalds bag, filling the air with the potent stench of gristle and burnt vegetable oil.  Most wear button ups.  Most are quiet.  There is no mad shuffle or fighting for luggage space.  These people are human.  These are the people I want to be sitting next to.  Maybe – just maybe – rich people are better than us.

On the next leg of my flight, I am sitting near the rear of the plane but for some reason had a ticket with a better boarding group.  Oh, I remember.  I got here four hours before anyone else.  Anyway.  By the time I’m seated and scribbling in my notebook, the remaining passengers with seats in my general vicinity are already being told that there is no room left for roller bags in the overhead bins.  The uproar begins.

Grown adults race back and forth up and down the isles trying to find a place for their precious cargo, trying to beat someone to some extra space that has somehow gone undiscovered.  I sit in my seat and nurse my rising blood pressure as everyone’s voices get really strangled and high pitched.

The woman next to me, who has used the overhead bin to store her jacket and a Gucci purse that could easily be put near her feet, starts getting all Jerry Springer on this woman who has vocalized her self-diagnosed “bag anxiety” and has begun to shift items around to “make maximum use of limited space.”

“Excuse me.  Excuse me.  Don’t touch my things.  Do not touch my things.  There are business documents in that purse and I am a professional and I need to know where my things are at all times.  You can’t just go moving my things.  I need to know where they are.  There are important things in that bag.  Very important things.”

She wags her fingers and I catch the flash of a wedding ring and I feel extremely sorry for whoever has to live with that day in and day out.

Bag Anxiety woman begins her rebuttal and the most agreeable flight attendant in the air comes over to mediate and move the bag himself with his own hands, which Gucci Bitch has to tolerate for legal reasons I have never fully researched but supposedly talking back to flight attendants is a no-no and results in getting to your destination not at your scheduled arrival time.

The commotion eventually winds down but I’m stuck listening to Gucci Bitch describe to the woman next to her that she’s in PR and spouting out justifications for why she is right and why Bag Anxiety is wrong.  Thank God, I’m not in PR.  Thank God I’m not in PR and I’m not this woman’s husband.  Being in her presence for more than ten minutes is giving me an ulcer.

Back to the glamour.

After a recession caused flight sabbatical in 2009, I realized that for some strange reason, I wasn’t sick all of the time.  It only took me a few hours of thoughtful brain racking to realize that the snot constantly running down my nose and the low-grade sore throats I had learned to live with were most definitely a result of everyone else’s germs flying through recycled air, swishing around the plane, venturing up my nose, and launching a relentless campaign against my health.  Whenever I hear a cough or a sneeze now, I hold my breath.  I do not enjoy being a coinsurer of disease – Strep Throat from Oklahoma, H1H1 from Michigan, Plague from Beirut.  Pass, pass, and pass.

Aside from being a bitch, Gucci Bitch is also a disease carrier.  She hacks and coughs and blows her nose throughout the flight and when she pulls out a tidy little bottle of hand sanitizer I want to ask her if she’ll do me a favor and pass it my way so I can suds down the inside of my lungs and nostrils for good measure.

Now, I’m here.  Thirty-six thousand feet above the real world on hour twenty of my chic little trip to Paris, where the most I was able to see of the city was the inside of the Park Hyatt and two singular glances at the Eiffel Tower, eating at Le Pain Quotidiene most nights and noshing on a generally disgusting combination of snacks I purchased from the market (the highlight being scooping some lentil salad out of a jar with whole wheat crackers, finished by grapes I washed off in the bathroom sink and dried off with a Kleenex.  Jealous now?


How NOT to Eat in Paris

The last time I was in Paris, I had gone vegan only weeks before my flight left LAX.  Prompted by my friend Veronica and the copy of Skinny Bitch she was peddling around on some wind swept pier in San Francisco, I purchased my own for a first hand glance at some potent and convincing vegan propaganda.  Fueled by an aside about chickens getting their beaks cut off so they won’t peck each other to death per their instinctual primal bitchiness, I went on to check out some online video content that PETA had to offer.  For the record, I don’t recommend doing this after having eaten a hamburger or gone for spaghetti Bolognese at the Chateau Marmont.  The website’s pièce de résistance – in my humble opinion – was footage from a slaughterhouse in Romania involving a meat hook, a cow attempting to stand up straight while running from the proverbial white light at the same time, some yellow rain slickers, and a lot of blood.  I mean, a lot of blood.

So when I landed in one of the culinary capitals of the universe, one that doesn’t pander to fad diets or vegetarianism out of strict respect for gastronomy, I was left in a bit of a pickle.  When I came home and told friends that I hadn’t one piece of cheese or even a spoonful of yogurt from a rustic ceramic jar, many thought my dietary restraint, well, ridiculous.  It wasn’t like I had been vegan since my teens; I was a newbie – a newbie whose digestive system would probably not have fully rejected the idea of dairy, meat, etc.  In fact, my body would have likely rejoiced in the choice to actually come to Paris and eat like a Parisian.

But I’m boring, and my head and my body are often at odds with one another.  In 2007, I flew all the way to Paris and this is pretty much what I consumed: English muffins from the supermarket, orange juice from the supermarket, some weird Borba brand skin care vitamin powder that I just got a bunch in a gift bag before I arrived, almonds and raisins, seeded grapes, numerous Cliff Bars brought over from the US of A, and half a glass of Rose imbibed while people watching in the Marais with the sun on my face and a new friend to my left.  I did, however, make an exception for a particular salad made with arugula and tuna, served over a buckwheat crepe.  That was about as French as my vegan diet would allow.  Oh, and I did have a bite of Kelly’s lemon and sugar crepe she purchased while walking with me around St. Germain.

Two years later, I am back in Paris and have long since given up veganism after I felt I was not getting enough protein to my brain that my brain functioning had devolved to a state on par with that of a third grade D student.  I did not come here entirely liberated, however.  After an intense discussion at 1 AM with a DJ about his life changing decision to give up wheat, sugar, and dairy, I figured I’d alter my status as an average healthy person and tip the scales into absurd health freak.  This meant shopping at Whole Foods for bread that looks like a giant soggy muffin and crackers that are made to crack your teeth.

One trip through the Fran Prix market the other day though and I had to throw up my hands: they were simply just not going to have my unsprouted wheat tortillas here, that was for sure.  C’est la vie.  I grabbed a gigantic loaf of wheat bread in a paper bag and called it a day.  Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade and I am one ridiculous spade.

All of this no wheat/no sugar/ no dairy aside, Parisian food presents more than a few problems to the health conscious lady.  Cream sauces are a no go.  Giant chunks of Brie don’t generally find themselves on my gluten free brown rice crackers.  Oh, you want some warm, chocolate filled croissants for dessert?  Sorry, my meals usually end with coffee number 25 sweetened with stevia powder (read: battery acid that sort of tastes sugar but errs on the side of not-at-all).  Everything in Paris strikes me as being exceedingly rich and totally devoid of the food paranoias found in places like Los Angeles where multi-million dollar companies are built upon bullshit like Kombucha tea and $17-a-bag gogi berry trail mix.  In Paris, you don’t really see people with adorable whole wheat baguettes peeking out from a canvas bag while they sail past on a sweet little bicycle, neck scarf waving in the wind.  The damn baguettes are white.  The baguettes are white!

But after tonight, even I have become incredibly bored with myself.  After work, I eagerly walk down to a tasty looking vegetarian place that I had wanted to try since I arrived to Paris.  I look into the empty shop, save for the lone employee who is cleaning up with a lit cigarette hanging from his mouth.  I suppose the health movement in Paris can only be expected to go so far.  I motion to him something that means “You are closed, no?” in a universal language I am not yet fluent in.  His enthusiastic nodding indicates that he is getting off soon and I’m not getting my tofu salad with mixed vegetables.

Cold and uneager to walk around for forty-five minutes trying to forage something exotic, I opt to go to Le Pain Quotidien.  For the second night in a row.  This is embarrassing for a variety of reasons.  Mainly, that there’s one down the street from my apartment in Manhattan and there’s one down the street from my previous apartment in Los Angeles.  I am in Paris and I am eating at a chain.  I flew 4,000 miles sitting in the middle seat on a redeye to eat somewhere I can walk to in five minutes any other day of the year.  I currently possess a fair amount of self-loathing for myself so lay it easy on the judgment for now.

To make matters more pedestrian, every morning in Paris, I go to the local Starbucks three blocks down the street for a soy latte.  Starbucks!  The first time I went inside I thought it would just be me and every other asshole American who refuses to take themselves out of their comfort zone, but surprisingly Starbucks is taking off with the indigenous people of Paris.  This morning, as I sit sipping the stevia sweetened soy foam out of my cup, I slouch down in my comfortable oversized chair and thought that it was sort of nice to have Starbucks wherever I go.  It’s like my own personal US Embassy.  This is generally the type of narrow minded mentality that I am not comfortable with having myself: this is the type of comment that allows me to pigeonhole someone else as unadventurous and boring with a capital “BORING.”

Back to my boring dinner Part Deux.  Despite having reintroduced meat into my diet, I generally only like eating it a few days a week and definitely not multiple times during the day.  I think there’s some merit to this, as opposed to my generally obnoxious and arbitrary restrictions on my universe.  For lunch the last three days, I have ordered the same Cesar salad with char-grilled breast of chicken with dressing on the side.  This is less so a personal choice and more a conscious awareness that the Park Hyatt is charging my client 33 Euro (my rough calculation puts it at under $50 US) for this salad and that’s one of the more reasonable items on the menu.  I’d like to venture out and try some chicken satay with “two garnishes of [my] choice” but that’d set them back about 50 Euro, and in terms of manners and ethics, I just don’t roll like that.

To avoid getting the same thing I ordered last night, I ask the server what salad he would recommend.  Unfortunately, his opinion of the most “complete” salad involves chicken and blue cheese.  Pass.  His next option is the grilled vegetable salad but I got a preview of someone eating that last night and it didn’t look entirely delicious – one of the few benefits of dining at a restaurant like it’s your personal kitchen.  Which takes us back to…the same fucking thing I ordered last night: a salad they call “Salade Detoxification” to emphasize just how hideously healthy it is.

I point to the menu.  I ask him to choose between the Detox salad and an artichoke heart number with basil and white beans.  He doesn’t hear me when I say I came here last night and had the Detox Salad.  “You should get the salad detoxification, yes.  That one.”  Sigh.  “I’ll have that,” I grumble cheerfully.

After nearly thirty minutes of waiting for something that requires zero cooking, the server comes back to inform me that there is no arugula tonight.  This is okay with me, as I had arugula on my third Park Hyatt 33 Euro Cesar salad just a few hours ago.  The removal of a second does of the peppery green leaves makes me feel comparatively less predictable and boring.  When the server offers to replace the arugula with avocado I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

My salad comes out: healthy and green and the kind of thing that nutritionists have wet dreams about.  Quinoa, sun dried tomato, mixed greens, avocado, and tomatoes.  Yesterday there were shaved carrots and as I have my first bite, I realize that yesterday there was also some delicious dressing which appears to have gone missing this evening.  I’m hungry so I figure I’ll keep chowing down until the waiter comes back so I can ask him for dressing.

As I sit scooping dry leaves and quinoa into my mouth, I become increasingly embarrassed that this is my second meal in a row at this same restaurant and I have ordered the exact same thing less than 24 hours ago.  The thought of saying, “Excuse me, yesterday this salad came with this like white dressing that tasted like sun dried tomatoes…” makes me shovel the rest of my Salade Detoxification sans dressing and drinking water to aide in getting it down with ease.  I eat quickly because I don’t want him to come back and notice that there’s not dressing and think me strange for not caring that there’s no dressing on the salad.  This thought process is a sure fire route to indigestion, I’ll tell you that much.

I finish as much as I can before I get really bored and go up to the counter to pay.  My waiter is behind the cash register, alternating duties between server/ bread slicer/ barista, he swipes my credit card and asks how everything was.  I lie and tell him it was delicious, which is actually only a half lie because it was delicious yesterday.  He asks me if he can ask me a question.  I say sure.  He follows asking if I am in town for fashion week.  I say yes, which is less complicated than explaining showroom modeling to him.  Another half lie.

It’s dark and blustery when I walk outside.  My puffy black coat flaps against the back of my legs and I pull my hood with faux fur over my unbrushed hair.  I look into restaurants with friends eating and drinking, enjoying each other and enjoying their food.  Meat plates, Pinot Noir, smiles.  I let out a groan because I’ve willingly just wasted another culinary trip to Paris.  Then I promise to myself, the next time I come to Paris…I will be normal.


Liar Liar Pants on…Well, Just Covered in Vomit.

The cab pulls up to get me off of Lafayette.  I’ve got my cell phone raised above my head like it’s a rock concert.  For those of you who haven’t been to a rock concert in the last ten years, cell phones have replaced lighters as the sentimental luminescent of choice.  There’s even an iPhone app that is just a picture of a lighter with flame in full blossom on loop.  It exists.  I’ve seen it.

I bang on the trunk to have the driver open it.  Idiot.  I’ve got a roller bag; you should have preemptively popped that sucker open.  Anyways.  I get in the car and the driver starts rambling on about stopping by a bank and that he doesn’t want me to use my credit card or whatever.

Me:  “So you don’t want me to use my credit card?”

Driver:  “No.  Cash, please.  If you do cash please I can go home right after this.”

Me:  “I literally have no cash on me.  I have to use my credit card.”

Driver:  “We can stop at an ATM on the way.”

Me:  “You want me to stop at an ATM? Or you want to stop at an ATM?”

He says something indecipherable about five dollars.  This leaves me excruciatingly confused.  We are heading towards Houston and all I want to know is if I need to get in a cab that can take my damn credit card.

Me:  “If your cab can’t take my credit card then I’m going to have to get into another one.”

I motion towards the mountain of cabs to my right.

Driver:  “No. No.  No. No.”

My driver sees his pretty fifty dollars slipping out of his fingers.  I use this as an opportunity to lie.

Me:  “I can’t stop at an ATM because I’m late for my flight.”

Driver:  “What time is your flight?”

Damn you.  I lie and say 9 even though my flight is actually at 10:15.

Driver:  “Oh.  Well.  It will only take us 35 minutes to get there now.”

I hardly believe this.  It’s 7:13 PM, which spells rush hour in any language that isn’t Cow Town, USA.  So now I am forced to lie again.

Me:  “I need to pay for this with a credit card so I can give the receipt to my client and so my client can reimburse me.  You get it?”

This is partially true.  More true is that I just want to keep everything on my credit card so I can accrue more American Airline Advantage points so that I can fly to New Zealand for free by the end of this year.  My driver buys my bullshit and we take off without further mention of stopping by a bank of any sorts.  I sort of care that he won’t be able to go home right away, but then again, tough cookies dude.  You’re a cab driver.  Drive me.

We’re busting down Houston and the lights are changing at the right times and we’re passing cars and we’re going fast and we approach the end of the island and pretty much at this point things get fucked.  Red lights.  Lots of brake lights telling me that it’s going to take a long time in this cab with a coughing driver and AM radio talking about some shit I just don’t care about.

But Driver has another idea.  We head back down south in the direction of my apartment that I should have just picked a cab out in front of instead of walking all the way down to the subway, thinking that I was going to take the subway before changing my mind.  This nonevent happened downstairs, while standing in front of the closed doors of the Uptown J train, which I was going to utilize to transfer in one stop to the ACE train.  I change my mind when my text message relaying transportation consultation from Colin came through.  I have a hard time thinking for myself unless I am trying to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.  Real decisions based on real details are much harder.

One nausea-building, treeless loop later and we’re on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Beach House plays on my iPod, trying desperately to drown out Driver who is yelling “JFK!  JFK!” flanked by words in Indian that I just don’t understand.  Giant fluorescent bulbs dot the bridges connecting Manhattan to the real world and I feel like a rat in a carnival.  My peaceful reverie ends soon enough; in about ten minutes I feel like a rat begging for arsenic.

I watch the traffic on the highway we’re supposed to be heading towards stand still.  Damn this.  I hate cabs.  I hate cabs and I regret the decision to have not taken my trustworthy steed “The Subway.”  I don’t mind that it’s the equivalent of a modern-day horse and buggy.  I don’t even mind that kids pick their buggers and put them under their seats.  What I appreciate most is the fact that I have never once wanted to throw up all over the damn place while in its charge.  And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

Driver:  “I’m going to take you the shortcut.”

The next thirty minutes are spent driving like a bat out of hell through Brooklyn while I try to keep my trail mix down.  I feel the water I just chugged five minutes ago rise through up to my esophagus, begging to just be released all over the black vinyl interior of this cab.  At one point I look over at a bus we’re passing at a fairly true-to-size Bill Paxton holding the hand of maybe Chloe Sevigny. I’m too sick to look further back at who’s holding his outstretched hand.  Oh Bill, I know I’ve said I hate you as an actor in the past, but please, oh please, save me.  Driver steps on the gas and Bill vanishes.

It’s like Die Hard 4 and I’m just an innocent bystander who has been caught up in a high-speed chase.  I’d be the girl listed in the credits as “Hysterical Girl #8.”  I’d show up somewhere in between the gaffer credits and location information and everyone would have already left the theater.

Now, I know how my mom would handle a situation like this.  My mom would forgo the pleasantries of passive aggressiveness and shoot straight for, “You’re driving erratically and you need to slow down.  RIGHT.  NOW.”  I’ve seen her in action at moments like these and it never fails to make me think the driver’s just going to slam us right into a divider just to shut her up.  I’m presently on the verge of doing something similar out of necessity because there are no paper barf bags from my vantage point and I’m sure this guy doesn’t want to make a trip to the car wash at 10 PM tonight.  But I can’t do this because I am a liar.

Driver’s just trying to do me a solid and get me to the airport pronto so that I don’t miss my international American Airlines flight.  Driver just wants to take care of me, just wants to do his driverly duties to the maximum.  I’ve passed the point of no return; I’m just going to have to ride this sucker out until I’m in front of Terminal 4.  I haven’t felt this dedicated to a lie since high school.  If there’s a God, he/she is laughing his/her ass off.

I watch Brooklyn fly by at a rate I never thought possible.  Random government buildings turn into rundown brick brownstones with boarded up windows, which turn into even more rundown warehouses.  The thought crosses my mind that Driver is taking me somewhere to chop me into little pieces, but then I recall his yelling “JFK!  JFK!” into his cell phone just twenty minutes earlier and unless he was screaming, “I AM GOING TO CHOP HER UP INTO LITTLE PIECES BUT I TOLD HER I’M TAKING HER TO JFK!  YES, JFK!” then I’m in the clear.

Soon enough, I see the green freeway signs to my right announcing airport terminals and instructions for arriving and departing flights.  It’s almost over.  Even through the airport roads, Driver is busting major taxi ass and I am wondering if I’m responsible if he gets a moving violation.

We screech up to my terminal and he runs to get my bag while the credit card receipt comes through.  I watch the little white paper chug chug chug out of the box in the dashboard and I tip him 20% because that seems like the appropriate compensation for nearly killing the both of us for the sake of my lie.

I tell him, “God.  Thanks so much for getting me here so quickly.”  Driver managed to get us from Manhattan to the airport in thirty minutes flat during the height of rush hour.  Just to round out the evening, I finish our experience together with another lie: to emphasize that I am in a grand hurry to make my flight, I run from the taxi to the inside of the terminal, which is less so to get me to my gate and more so to buy some Dramamine.  Pronto.


Paris Diary Day 2

At midnight I wake up.

At 3:30 AM, I am up again – this time for an hour.

At 5 AM.  Again.  I tear off pieces of wheat bread I bought yesterday from FranPrix.  I wash a bunch of grapes.  I eat those, too.

5:30 AM.  Energized with food, I unexpectedly fall back asleep.

8:15 AM.  I wake up panicked that I am late for my job.

I dress myself better than I dressed myself yesterday (I had forgotten how chic everyone is in Paris.  Urban Hobo is definitely not all the rage here).  Lanvin men’s button-up.  Jenni Kayne skirt recently shortened within an inch of its life.  Black tights.  Leather motorcycle jacket.  Black boots.  Giant black coat that I keep open in front so all of my efforts in looking half way presentable do not go unnoticed.

The nearest Starbucks is three blocks away.  I go there.  This is tre American but they’re the only place I know of that serves soy milk lattes.  I get half of my request out in makeshift French.

“Bon jour!  Caffe Latte con soja…”

And then I give up because I don’t know how to translate the following:

“With an extra shot.”

They know I’m a faker and call out the order in English, say “Thank you” to me in English when I sign the credit card slip for the amount which they have also read to me in my native tongue.  Damn it.  I’m trying here, people.  Humor me.

With thirty minutes left of me time, I walk back to my hotel room, down my coffee, surf the internet for ten useless minutes, and do my makeup.  I tidy up the room a little bit just so the maid isn’t totally overwhelmed by my uncanny ability to ensure all surface areas are covered by clothes and empty water bottles.  I bring my passport, iPod, and computer to thwart any potential thievery.  I leave.

Today brings the gloom but I welcome it.  It smells like snow and even though none falls, I adore it.  The clouds have a way of enveloping you further in this Paris bubble, this beautiful place.  It’s gray on gray on gray.  Clouds on rooftops on people.  Monochromatic world.

Work is work.  Put on tights, roll hair into a low bun, try on gowns, try on cocktail dresses, try on gowns headed for the Oscars or crazy balls I never am invited to, get my picture taken, turn around, turn around, turn around, smile but not too much.  Six o’clock rolls around and I am done and the sun is still above the horizon.  The clouds have lightened their stronghold on the sky and the world is yellows and pinks and barren trees, kids with red cheeks and me with frozen hands.

Oh, Paris je t’aime.

See you tomorrow.


In Paris!

Forgive me if the posts come few and far between.  I’m in Paris loving the clouds and such and might not recover from jet lag in time to post regularly.  But I assure you there will be posts when I return.  A further problem might be that I just made my mac charger explode in a French electrical socket.  Jolly good time.

Bon jour!


God Save the Children

It must be hard being a kid teenager these days.  First, you’re expected be covered head-to-toe in Proenza Schouler mixed with a few key pieces from the latest season of Chanel.  Second, you’re sixteen and your feet hurt like hell from traipsing lazily back and fourth from third to forth period in your six-inch Louboutins – it’s early onset bunion time for you, my friends.  Gossip Girl and Teen Vogue have managed to heighten everybody’s expectations for what young girls are supposed to look like and what parents are expected to pay for it.  And, hey, I totally understand.  In 1999 when all the girls in my grade started rocking those navy blue parachute pants with the orange stripe at the heel from Abercrombie I yearned for them to be a part of my own sartorial rotation, but $68 was a far cry from what I had been spending at the Wet Seal the last four years.

Little Suri is skewing the curve even younger.  She’s like a preemie fashion fetus and I want to stick her back in the oven and leave her there until she’s thirty-five and completely ridiculous, friendless, and alone, because I assure you, someone wearing heels a year and a half after they’ve learned how to walk is inevitably headed that direction.  Fare thee well, young friend.

What really breaks my heart is that these poor children are really growing up in a cultureless void.  It’s all about haircuts and tight jeans and bad music.  Terrible, terrible music.

Ordinarily, I don’t like to watch TV while working out.  The screen is so close to my face that it is a sure-fire way to induce vomiting.  It’s like the Blaire Witch Workout.  Puke.  I decide to do a casual flip through the channels to see what is going on in the world outside of the endless loop of self-chatter brewing in my own head.  See how the other half lives, as it were.  I scroll the news (depressing).  I stop in for a few morning programs aimed at stay-at-home-moms (uber depressing).   I land at MTV and despite my urge to immediately flee the scene I stay.  God forbid I become totally old and irrelevant.

And so here is my glowing review of the world in god-awful music today.  Enjoy.  In fact, you better enjoy, because I made my eyes and ears bleed for this piece.
Paper Tongues – Ride to California

Let me open by saying that this epic wordsmith of a songwriter has paired “grocery store” with “fo sho” in the first stanza.  Talk about a way to get me going.  For those of you who don’t speak retard, “fo sho” means “for sure.”

The lead singer looks like Tracy Chapman and dances around like he wants to be Kid Rock.  They all jam out, leather clad and some incarnation of what a fifty-year old record exec thinks the kids want out of rock and roll these days.  I immediately start picking up obvious references to a multitude of music videos that I have seen in years past.  Dear Director, allow me to rip apart your story board.

1.    The song is about California – although the inspiration for which remains unclear – so you’ve added the Mad Max-ian flavor of Tupac and Dr. Dre’s West Coast anthem “California Love.”  Except the difference here is that song didn’t suck and this song does.  Perhaps that’s why the director of “California Love” bothered with elaborate costumes and art direction.  That being said, I appreciate your attempt at a rip-off homage.

2.    I really enjoyed the POD era rough-and-tumble slow-motion shots.  It’s been a long time since I thought about my eleventh grade theme song, “Alive.”

3.    Who would have thought the shoot location for Monifa’s “Touch It” would come back in all of its concrete glory?

4.    I’m glad Jared Leto’s wardrobe stylist could help out on the shoot.

Upon further listening to and watching this video for research (shudder), I am considering pitching the idea to the immigration officials in California to stave off the massive pouring of people into the state.  This song is like birth control for people craving sunshine.  Now I can’t help but think of the idea of California and twitch.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it might even keep wanna-be actors out of Los Angeles.  LA, whoa!

Hot Chelle Rae – I Like to Dance

Unfortunately, Sony won’t let me post this gem myself, so you’ll have to do the leg work or just trust my opinion if you want to see this.

The video opens up with a crew of skinny-legged boys followed by an entourage of everything I hate about young fashion right now.  All of the girls either look like Cindy Lauper (which was cool when it was JUST Cindy Lauper doing it) or some extras from the movie Tank Girl (which was super cool but I’m pretty sure it got shit reviews).

Next, Amanda Bines hands them the keys to some warehouse.  “Anything happens, you do not know me,” she says.  I’m sure that’s what the guys will be thinking when this chick eventually gets impregnated by one of them.  Oh, wait.  That’s not Amanda Bines.  It’s just a trashy hooker who looks like Amanda Bines.

The boys start a parade through what appears to be the back of an electronics shop.  Everyone is super rad and quirky in their animal masks and giant purple tutus.  I’m a big fan of the movie Go as well as Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet, so when my brain automatically thinks back to the rave scene in Go and the lavish party scene in Romeo and Juliet I am furious to have involuntarily pulled them both down to this level.

Now for the close up shot: the lead singer is pale and raven haired and I begin to wonder if someone just gave The All American Rejects a faux hipster makeover and sent them back into the recording studio.

I keep watching, tortured by what I am seeing and hearing.  I mean, what is this band name?  Does it mean “Red Hot Chilly Peppers” in some language I’ve never heard of?  At some point I see the same green laser beams used in J-Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight” and I just about fall off my machine.  With each passing second I get more and more furious that shit like this is even in the market.  I mean, shit like this is the market.  You like to dance?  Well, I like music that doesn’t suck.

Never Shout Never – I Love You Five

You love me five what?  Is five the name of a girl?  I don’t stick around through this entire video because the gray scale and contrast of this black and white video hurts my artistic soul and looks like a commercial for a cell phone company trying to be cutesy.

This poor guy elicits the most rage in me, mostly because of his haircut.  Someone please tell me what the fuck is growing on his head.  Please!  I am seriously so furious at the hair “stylist” that did this to a human being.  It looks like the cheap fur you make DIY Cowardly Lion costumes out of.

When I found this picture I became increasingly more confused by what I was seeing.  I thought he was ten but he’s covered in tribal tattoos that were mistakes that happened in the 90s.  Apparently, the “new and improved” Never Shout Never dude wants to ruin his life.  Dear God.  I think the video left me less angry than the Google image search I just completed.  Someone give me a Xanax.

La Roux – Bulletproof

When I finally tear myself away from the train wreck I’ve created in my brain for the last twenty minutes, I flip over to VH1 where La Roux’s video is playing.  Since when did VH1 become cooler than MTV?  I’m totes confused.  I allow my ears to acclimate to what good music sounds like for a few seconds and then I am forced to unleash my fury on this video as well.  I would have really loved for this to have been a visual palate cleanser but I am an equal opportunity bitch.

Poor girl looks like Ziggy Stardust revamped and walking down a CGI hallway like in the only Jessica Simpson video that anyone’s ever seen because her abs were defined that week.  I absolutely love La Roux but come on, can’t anyone be original today?  It’s like one of the cast members from Kids Incorporated moved to a small village somewhere in the outskirts of Paris when her dad got transferred and subsequently befriended a small music recorder because no one would talk to her in English.  Since turning eighteen, she moved stateside once more.  And voila, La Roux!

I close my eyes and try to focus on the music.  Focus on the music.  Focus on the music.  I’m rocking myself into a comfort zone and all of a sudden my thirty minutes are up.  I get off of my elliptical machine and head downstairs to suffocate myself in a bin of dirty towels.  If I’m dead, I can never have children and if I never have children they’ll never be subjected to what I just subjected myself to.


I used to be friends with the environment, but we had a bit of a falling out.

There are seventeen some-odd items in my green handcart.  Frozen entrees, frozen spinach pancakes, two types of broth, LARA bars.  All of a sudden I understand the bachelor mentality.  The idea of slicing up a chicken to make a delicious stir-fry for just little old me seems absolutely ridiculous, even on the days I stay home literally all day.  I microwaved a sweet potato for the first time the other week.  I’ve never stooped so low.

And so I stand in the middle lane, shuffling my handcart along the cement floor in unison with the shoppers to my left and to my right.  Four of us move in a synchronized fashion and I listen to the symphony of grating plastic sliding across the floor.

Number 7.

The loud Robo-Tron voice tells me it’s my turn to offer up money to the organic gods.  Please take this paycheck as an offering of thanks and gratitude, Mother Earth.  I hope Whole Foods cuts you a percentage.  I walk over to the check out counter at the end.  My handcart gets propped up in front of my male Whole Foods employee who will be assisting me for the next five uncomfortable minutes.

“Are you going to need a bag?”

He looks at me with eyes that both dare and taunt.  Clearly, he sees that I have no canvas or otherwise eco-friendly bag currently in my possession.  No, man.  I’m going to fucking juggle this shit all the way down Bowery.

“Yeah, and actually, if you could get it into two separate ones….That’d be great.”

My voice hangs apologetically in the air and I make emphasis with my two hands that I would like a bag in each of them while I’m walking home.  I don’t think this translates.

“I will do my best.”

I’m confused.  You’re going to do your best to give me what I asked for?  This is the type of thing you say when someone requests that you place seventeen pounds of Macintosh apples into a tiny plastic bag with a hole already forming at the bottom.  On that occasion, “I will do my best” is entirely apropos.  “I will do my best” is what people say when a request is practically out of the question and entirely ridiculous.  It certainly isn’t hard to fill two paper bags with an amount that could be placed entirely into one if need be.

Just give me what I asked for, asshole.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so perturbed at this man’s passive aggressive way of chastising me for participating in the deforestation of Uruguay.  But this happened the last time I was here when I asked for the same thing, and then I even stipulated that I didn’t need a big bag, just two small ones.  The counter dude stared me down, sighed, and relented.  “Fine.  But I can’t double bag it.”

I wasn’t asking for gratuitous baggage.  All I wanted was to separate my thirty pounds for canned soup and bags of nuts to be equally distributed by weight so that I could get home without pimp walking.  Letcha shoulda lean, shoulda lean. Asshole.

Don’t get me wrong; I am an avid environmentalist.  Plastic bags suck.  Paper bags suck, too.  I acknowledge that my shuttling back and forth across the country on airplanes multiple times a year is probably killing a whole slew of polar bears.  But I will hold on to plastic bottles all day long so that I can recycle them at home and not just throw them into any old trash can.  I get it.  But this is New York.  I don’t have a car.  I can’t carry around two reusable bags in the bag I’m already carrying the rest of my life in.  I don’t know when I’m going to want to go grocery shopping.  I don’t have a car I can take things away in.  And on top of all that, my building doesn’t even give me the option of recycling.  The logistics of this city has rendered me an environmental terrorist.  Manhattan is not terribly “green” and to expect me to be in spite of all obvious odds is fucking ridiculous.  Lo siento, mucho.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

I watch as my disgruntled employee carefully stacks my boxes of crackers artfully next to other squares and rectangles.  He wants it to all fit, I know it.  I wonder when he’ll give up on his ridiculousness and just start filling the next bag.  It’s like an activist’s game of chicken.  Oh, yeah?  You wanna kill some trees today, huh?

His judgment is palpable and I stare mindlessly at the sleeve of my coat and tap my plastic credit card on the counter.  Last time, I tried to explain that I just moved here from Los Angeles and they’d be so proud of how many plastic and paper bags I never used, how I’d just put bottles of ketchup in my purse if I had room.  But that shtick gets old real fast.  I’m not going to apologize for myself into perpetuity.  I feel like a young Republican.

Anticipating a chilly outdoors, I take my leather gloves out of my bag and as I’m pulling them on I wonder if this guy is part of PETA and he’s watching me like I’m burying my hands into the side of a cow.  I quickly hide them at my side.  As quickly as he was done putting the last of my overpriced frozen dinners into the second bag (victory), I swipe my card, press a green button, sign my name, and take off.

As I began my trek home, shoulders ergonomically placed at the same exact height, I began to rant in my head.  Had I the huevos rancheros, here’s what I would have said:

You know what, judgey wudgey Whole Foods employee?  My scoliosis is bad for the environment too.  Because one day, I’m going to be so crippled from shuttling organic apples and frozen vegan dinners back and forth between Houston and Canal that my back will be twisted like a grape vine.  And you know what happens them?  I’m going to need a battery-operated wheelchair to get me around everywhere.  And when I kick the bucket at a hundred and two because of all of those nutritious and pesticide free fruits and veggies and cage free eggs I’ve bought from you weenies, that battery from my wheelchair is going to get thrown into a dump somewhere and start leaching into the groundwater, eventually traveling through the pipes of a school system somewhere near Redlands and it will poison the entire third grade class.  So give me my fucking two paper bags that I am going to reuse as trash bags after this anyway and stop looking at me like that.  Maybe I’m just reading too much Bret Easton Ellis right now, but come on baby, spare me.


Have Beer Wench, Will Bridal.

I enter the lobby and stare at the back of a mountain of black.  Black scarf, black coat, two small black legs poking into black boots.  Bleached blonde hair tufts out wildly from the top.  A model.  She turns.  “Jenny!” I hear.  A model I know.  It’s Talia.  Talia looks like what Cameron Diaz probably looked like back in the days before she booked The Mask and went from doing the bullshit we do to being one of the highest earning charming and talentless actresses of our generation.  Inspiration for my future self in some capacity.

The casting studio is stark white and glossy.  White floors, white walls.  It’s like that sterilized chamber in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  There are girls wearing black lining the walls of the studio, staggered like the inside of a sweathouse in Chinatown.  Some sit on the couch, some stand at the back.  We all watch as a photographer takes shots of our competitors individually.  A long table is set up across from where the photographer is sitting with a sign in sheet and two women with dark hair.  Professional judgers.

I sign in.


Agency: NYM2

Height: 5’10 ½

I take a seat in the kitchen, putting my giant coat next to the sink.  Talia sits next to me and we keep talking and we eventually move into the topic of agents ruining our lives.  I ask her to hand me her book that she just had reorganized by another model who was horrified by what her agency did to her portfolio.  These are the stupid things that make or break your bank account: what order your pictures go in, if you have too many beauty shots, if you don’t have enough beauty shots, if your stomach protrudes in one out of twenty pictures, if your sex kitten body shot is inappropriately paired with a picture of you looking like a ten year old posing for Delia’s online catalogue, if you look too old.  We rely on our agents to do this well.  They rarely do.

Talia complains about a test her agency arranged that came out horribly.  A thousand dollars.  A fucking grand for pictures.  She hates them.  She hands me her book and I take out her card.  Whoa.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Pink eye shadow.  Pink lips.  A total and utter tragedy.

It’s like “Glamour Shots by Deb.”

I laugh because it does have an extremely close vibe to those hazy images taken at the local shopping mall.  I then catch the Napoleon Dynamite reference.  I laugh again.

See?!  I look like fucking Barbie.  Like old Barbie.  Look at my armpits.  I can’t believe how much they retouched this.  Ugh.

She’s right.  She does look like Barbie and she does look like she’s got alien pits.  I can’t believe she’s spent a thousand dollars on pictures that make her want to put a gun to her head.  But this is how it goes.  Often.  More often than anyone wants to admit.  Sure, the other girls are shooting with Steven Meisel and even a shitty Steven Meisel pictures is a Steven Meisel picture.  Ten out of one thousand girls get to look like shit by the hands of an artist.  The rest of us are left to be butchered by overpriced amateurs.  Bloody hell.

The girls trying on over-beaded, stiff and wrinkled satin bridal ball gowns are what I can only best describe as “zaftig.”  Zaftig is quite possibly one of the most precise ways in which to describe a certain type of chubby girl.  It’s like onomatopoeia for chunk factor.  It implies a short of St. Pauli’s girl softness in the face and goes double for the arms.  They are big girls, bigger than me by about twenty pounds.  Even still, the casting directors have to clamp the extra fabric to keep them decent.  These samples must be size eights.  Gi-normous.

In the corner are the “runway” girls.  These are the ones who would literally drown in these white lace catastrophes – chocking on lace made in China and swallowing fake plastic pearls sewn on in India.  Tall, sallow, brunette, generic Russian types.  I am confused as to where I fit in.  I hand them my book and I think that they like me, but I look neither like a heroine addict nor a frequent midnight doughnut run binge eater.  The photographer takes pictures.  The casting directors flip through my book.  I say thank you.  I put on my coat and scarf and grab my canvas bag that’s quickly going from light beige to a soiled gray and leave with Talia.  We walk through the white hallway and back into the elevator and back outside and that is all.  That is all it ever is.  Thirty-five minutes of maybe.