Thursday, December 01, 2011

Pop art, popping eyeballs, and pop fiction STREET ART

Here's more of that street art that I promised you last week.

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Has that #Occupy spirit

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Lichtenstein at the SF MoMA.

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Owlchild by Swedish artist, Klara Kristalova. I got yelled at for taking this photo. I didn't know photography wasn't permitted at this particular exhibit.

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Lick and Lather, chocolate and soap busts by Janine Antoni at the SF MoMA. According to the placard: "Each head is a cast self-portrait, somehow deformed and misshapen, thus interrogating the idealism commonly associated with the traditional portrait bust. The chocolate version has been licked into a new shape by the artist, the index of her tongue visible in a brushstroke - - like lines across the surface of the form - - a trace of sensual and delicious consumption. Likewise, the forms of the soap piece have been lathered away, the softened features now referencing a process of cleansing. The work can be read as a metaphor for the two sides of the female self as it is often positioned in a culture that idealizes the feminine: seductive and desirous on the one hand, purified and pristine on the other."

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At the Dieter Rams/Braun/bauhaus exhibit.

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I agree, no one should ever be brutally beaten (except maybe rapists and other violent offenders), but people who don't recycle irritate me, especially when the resources are right at their fingertips.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Airport gawking/people watching, some thoughts at the gate

SFO international terminalImage via Wikipedia
People wear some crazy clothes for flying. I am sitting at my gate in San Francisco International Airport waiting for my flight to start boarding and passing the time by watching people walk by with their bags, on their way to some exotic locale, or coming back from one.

Tall brown boots and figure-clenching pants seem to be a favorite amongst the ladies, while jeans and sneakers are a hit with the men-folk. I see a uterus-flashing leopard print mini skirt pass in front of me and wonder why anyone would choose something as uncomfortable (and unflattering) as that for their plane outfit.

I see a bunch of sky high heels-- perhaps the preferred attire for Mile High Club members? Lots of Uggs, lots of branded bags, some flip flops here and there on sunburned and tan-lined parties. Lots of those dopey shoulder pillows that don't do much but give you a neck cramp.

I like to fly dressed as a bag lady, at least when I fly in the colder months. I wrap myself in pajama-like layers of jersey, in this case a tee, a sweatshirt, and yoga pants. I throw on a scarf and top if off with my long grey winter coat that I wore five months out of the year in Philly (but only five days of the year in SF), which also doubles as a blanket on the plane. I look like I just got off the boat from Eastern Europe, if a bag lady were prepared to take that voyage.

Sometimes I catch people eyeing me, trying to pinpoint my point of origin and intended destination, but I don't care. I'm relaxed, I'm cozy. My yoga pants are short, high-water style, and look silly with my boots, but they're less likely than a pair of jeans to ensnare my skin folds after a prolonged period of sitting.

Traveling alone sucks. If I have to use the restroom while waiting for my flight to be called, I have to take all of my belongings with me and try to balance them on the hanger of the stall door, lest they touch the dirty floor. Plus I may not have a seat to return to. If I leave my stuff at the gate I run the risk of having my carry-on ransacked or worse-- turned in to the TSA. "Attention, uh... we have a rogue pink Nike gym bag left unattended at gate 24. Please evacuate. The bomb squad is on its way..."

One solution is to wait until I've boarded the plane and everything is safely stowed in the overhead compartment to use the spiffy closet of a water closet. I suppose I could always ask another passenger to watch my things at the gate, but they say on the loud speaker to report if anyone asks you to do that. What a world we live in these days.

People used to get dressed up to fly, but that era is long over. Flying in this country is no longer seen as a once-in-a-while luxury, a treat reserved for the rich and famous-- pretty much everyone does it on a regular enough basis for it to be viewed as a hassle.

It's my opinion that people who get super snazzy to fly are crazy. Your clothes are going to get smelly and wrinkled anyway. Unless you're directly headed to an important meeting or event, why not fly in your PJs? My sister says she gets dressed up to fly because you never know who you might meet at the airport. There is truth in that, but I'd rather just be comfy. Bag lady style.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Style Update: Makeshift Hair Turban

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Hey all, hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving!

I just flew back from Philly on Sunday night and I've been temping at a job that doesn't have a computer for me to use on my lunch break, thus you will have to wait until tomorrow to get a real post out of me. In the meantime, please enjoy these funny photos of a wacky hairdo I created after towel drying my locks post-shower. Wish I could go to work looking like this.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

"I only read the classics..." street art photo tease

Prepare yourself for a full-fledged street art photo set coming soon to the Tsaritsa sez. This is just a sneak peek because I got called in by my temp agency to maintain the front desk for the day-- the assignment ended Wednesday, but the guy I had been temping for while on vacation called in sick this morning-- and I prefer to do my photo editing at home.

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"Let's see, I've got books on geography, history, religion, the oppression of women, some Tolstoy, some Twain, some Coelho, and oh yeah, Sarah Palin's Alaska. I only read the classics."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Karaoke Ring o' Death: 90s Songs Redux

Hello, karaoke lovers! Welcome back for another exciting installment of Karaoke Ring o'Death, the game where bloggers take sips of something boozy and then film themselves dancing and singing for the rest of the internet to ridicule enjoy. This month, to celebrate KROD's one year anniversary, we're going back to our roots and doing 90s songs again-- remember when we did it the first time?


I'm lucky enough to be hosting my dear blog-friend, lover of all things American Horror Story and hip-hop, and and fellow east coaster, Jes of Jes Getting Started. Jes is totally adorable in this video and gave me a major flashback to the simpler times, when playing with dolls all day was still socially acceptable. Please watch and love, and when you're done leaving your notes of praise be sure to check me out on Tab's blog, Geeky Ambiguous Me, getting down to some Kurt Cobain. Oh hell yeah. Enough said, here's Jes!


My name is Jes and I have to confess a year ago when all of this craziness started I was just some plaid shirt wearing, 20 something rocking out to Alanis Morissette on Wii Rockband. I was nervous, having only recently started doing video blogs and having never sang on camera. Fast forward to today and you would think I was filming myself singing in my bathroom all of the time. Well okay maybe I do. I had high self esteem before but being on camera has clearly given me a huge head and the need to document every single step I take.  Hollywood here I come!  Since its was Karaoke Ring of Death's birthday this month we decided to revisit the theme of 90's songs. My selection is a complete 180 from that very first selection and so is my performance. Make sure you stop by my blog, Jes Getting Started, to check out the amazingly cute Daniella from The Chronicles of a College Girl.





Karaoke Ring of Death - 90s/birthday from Jes Getting Started on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Occupy Cartoon, fan art, and some unrelated updates

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There has been much talk about the Occupy movement since its incarnation in September. I've spoken on the issue multiple times in this blog and have had guests come here to share their opinions as well. I feel like most people give the movement its due respect, but I still hear some really horrible things about the protests and protesters on television, on Twitter, and on the street.

My above cartoon depicts the criticisms on #occupy I've heard from both people on the right and the left. It has less to do with politics and everything to do with disconnect. Condemning someone's ideas because of the way that they look or what they have? The term "flea party" is something I read while flipping through reader comments on an online article.

I was pretty grossed out when I read a bunch of conservatives dissing us and discrediting us based on looks. Same thing for the left, too. I've heard more than a few people try to discredit occupy by commenting on some of the more expensive tents at some of the camps. Who cares what kind of tent I own? How does that change my politics?

And now the occupiers are packing up all over the country, which in a way is a good thing. I think we got our point across and now it's time to actually make change happen, by becoming politically active and further spreading awareness (to places other than the financial district). Maybe we need to set up a traveling #occupy caravan and get the people in Kansas and Kentucky motivated? Maybe we should all pack our bags and head to Washington DC and occupy the offices of lobbyists and Congress? What do you think?

Unrelated Updates:

- I will be announcing the winner of the UPrinting business card giveaway this evening, so stay tuned! There is still time to enter and tweet about it, so get to gettin!

- If you're participating in Karaoke Ring of Death this month (the theme is 90s music), you still have time to make your video and email it to us at karaokeringofdeath@gmail.com. Should be a doozy-- who doesn't love the 90s?

- Less than twelve hours until the new episode of American Horror Story! Have I mentioned that I'm a total geeked-out fangirl for this show? Oh yes, yes I have...



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- Speaking of which, I've been all over Tumblr recently posting my original fan art (god, I sound like such a loser for this show) and reblogging my favorite Tate gifs. Tumblr is the bomb for connecting with other AHS fans. I'm in heaven.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

American Horror Story, "Piggy Piggy," & Richard Lawson comments

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As you may already know from my recent tweets and Facebook posts, I am obsessed with the FX show, American Horror Story. It's morbid, it's spooky, it's dramatic, it's well-written, the actors are amazing, and after every episode I'm left with something to chew over, a snack to quell my nerves overworked in anticipation, until the next Wednesday night.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you aren't watching the show, I highly recommend that you catch up on it with On Demand or by watching online, particularly if you're a horror fan. Man, I love this show so friggin much. Not only is it creepy with the ghosts and monsters, but it also serves to show the very real horrors we hear about on the news and face every day in this country.

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Last Wednesday's episode, titled "Piggy Piggy," was especially good because of the disparate emotions it managed to conjure, within myself and other fans. We got to see the dark side of Tate (the lonely ghost who befriends Violet, the daughter of the family living in the Murder House) in the opening scene, where we found that he really did commit the horrific school-shooting back in 1994. We already knew that this scene was imminent, after his victims (whom he did not recognize) came to haunt him while on his date with Violet in "Halloween Part 2," but watching it happen and seeing Tate as the shooter solidified that it wasn't a case of mistaken identity (or was it? like The Shining, the property is very powerful).

The scene, while disturbing, was important to the plot and to the character development of Tate. It also acted as a striking contrast to the more tender moments with Violet later on in the episode. In the beginning of the series, we're not too sure about Tate. He seems like he has issues and the way he talks about Violet to her father is cringe-inducing. But then he saves the lives of Violet and her mother, Vivien, (in the "Home Invasion" episode), and later saves Violet's life again in "Piggy Piggy," after her attempted suicide.

"Piggy Piggy" was a very pivotal episode and we are left with many questions. Had the first scene of the Columbine-inspired library shooting not been shown, we would have even more questions about what is going on in this show. We know that Tate did it, with or without help. And it tears us up inside because we have seen him in a caring and unselfish light in other scenes. The writers know what they're doing in creating this conflict of expectations and emotions with the audience. We don't want to believe that he acted alone-- we want to believe that the evilness of the house made him do it. And this, along with Tate and Violet's heartbreaking Romeo-and-Juliet relationship, is why I (and many others) will continue to tune in.

I'm bringing all of this up not only because the episode moved me (I've been playing the Tate/Violet scenes in my head repeatedly since Wednesday night), but because of a comment (well, actually a few comments) I left on a review (if that's what you want to call it) of "Piggy Piggy" by Richard Lawson (former Gawker writer and Real Housewives enthusiast) on The Atlantic Wire.

Lawson didn't like the opening scene of the episode, saying it was unnecessary and sensationalized the Columbine massacre for entertainment purposes. It was too close to the truth for him, which makes no sense. If he's seen any of the other episodes he would realize that much in the plot is borrowed from true crime stories-- Tate's character is even named after the victim of the Manson killings, Sharon Tate.  I strongly disagree that the opening scene of "Piggy Piggy" in any way glamorized the killings-- for one, it was acted in almost complete silence, the only part spoken by Tate a whistle (borrowed from the film, Twisted Nerve).

So I left a comment telling Lawson that I thought the scene was not insensitive to the touchy subject, that it was integral to understanding the background of the story, and that just because something is raw and difficult to talk about doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it. Additionally, I left a comment expressing that "Lawson should stick to writing typo-laden Real Housewives recaps." Of course I was joking, but it elicited a response from the writer, in the form of a tweet:



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The comment in question can be found here, and here's a screen cap:


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/ end Lawson nonsense.

What did you think of last week's episode? I have to say that I haven't cried that much during a TV show since a particularly touching moment between Oscar the Grouch and Slimey on Sesame Street. When Tate was screeching and dragging Violet into the bathtub to revive her, I really lost it. He loves and really cares about her, and she's in love with a ghost. It's all so tragically beautiful.

What do you think of the show?

It's crazy how hard I'm fan-girling over this series and I'm going a little nuts because I want to gush over it out loud, but I have to gush over it through the FX fan forums because none of my friends are as obsessed as I am.



Monday, November 14, 2011

More thoughts on Occupy: love and humility [guest post]

Today we have a guest post by my good friend and one of the most interesting bloggers I have come to know, Charles. His blog, In Review: Stuff and Things always has some thought-provoking insights to share, so I thought it would be neat to get his take on the Occupy movement. This is the first time he's written on this topic. Please watch the video, and the outline of the video follows.




1. Occupying is good. Occupying, protesting, and creating a ruckus draws attention to the discontentment of the world, which seems nearly universal. Making a ruckus and occupying, even without a coherent message, at least lets the brainwashed masses see that, perhaps, not everything is as it seems.

Perhaps reality isn't as pretty, today, as advertised on Comcast and Direct TV. Occupying also drains the resources of a government which puts its resources into weapons of death that are used against its own citizens, it's so-called enemies, and innocent non-combatants in far away lands. It may seem counter intuitive to some, but draining the resources of the government, straining it financially and otherwise, are good ways to slow down the machine of war and oppression.

2. Humility is key. I find the rhetoric that proclaims "We are the 99%" to be a little arrogant, in a world of 7 billion people. World health statistics indicate that there are one billion people in the world who are starving or malnourished. Some of those people exist in America Most do not. Most Americans, no matter how they compare to millionaire and billionaire bankers, have a world of abundance and plenty when compared to truly impoverished nations.

America is, more or less, the world's 1%, and as such, I believe it would serve the occupy-wall-street movement well to incorporate as much humility as possible into their activities by acknowledging what they DO have. I am a person who does not have a lot compared to many Americans. But I am a person who can look at what I have objectively, most of the time, and see that I really do have way more than enough. I am warren buffet's 99%. I am the world's 1%. I am not in danger of starvation.

3. Corporate greed fills a very real void, and reflects my own greed as a citizen.
I do not mean to absolve of wrong-doing the people that run destructive corporations or peddle their phony market derivatives in order to make millions, here. I mean to simply say that the wall-street system, the banking system, the credit system and the corporate infrastructure of America all seem to be a reflection of either my own greed or my own inability to stop from being indoctrinated by advertising.

I walk into Target and I see that they are selling about twenty different kinds of hair dryers, and approximately 500 different kinds of shoes and a preposterous array of food, much of which is inefficient and unhealthy. I know that for most of my life, I thought: "wow, how nice that there are so many hair dryers to choose from," or, "how nice it would be to have some more shoes, since there are so many kinds to choose from," or, "wow, this fruit by the foot candy looks like a good purchasing decision." Then I planned my life accordingly and over extended myself into the world because I had allowed the culture of consumerism to teach me that happiness was always right on the other side of that next purchase. I ran up credit-card debt buying iPods and iPads and TV's and eating at Chilli's, which doesn't even taste good.

My greed, my urgency to spend money on credit, and my belief that my self-worth could be wrapped up in the objects I owned, is ultimately what powers the entire system that is now so tremendously unbalanced. Corporations are, by and large, collectives of people under the same illusion I was. That illusion is that "more stuff equals more happiness." Come to find out, more stuff does NOT equal more happiness. More stuff equals more stuff. I can stop powering the system by first looking at my own greed and gluttony and trying to mitigate their influence on my actions. The fact that "more stuff" is not equal to "more happiness" can be taught. Most powerfully by example.

4. Minimizing is good. This plays off of point 4. If greed and over consumption power the system, and that greed and consumption has been relentlessly sewn into the fabric of my own world-view and my own sense of self, then to minimize my life will certainly kill two birds with one stone. First bird: I have minimized by getting rid of my TV, my iPods, iPads, the guitar I never played, and a whole mess of other stuff. I have minimized by simplifying my diet. This doesn't mean that I go pay inflated costs for "organic" food at "Whole Foods."

This means that I have stopped eating at chain restaurants as much as I can. I have stopped buying as many processed foods and meats. I cook simply, and at home. I am by no means perfect with this stuff, but there has been improvement. I am in the process of attempting to pay off my credit cards. As I get them paid off, I will be closing the accounts, to the detriment of wall street. I ride my bike or walk almost everywhere I go, not because I want to "watch my carbon output," but because the compulsion to drive somewhere when I could as easily walk or bike is a form of greed, and is what large violent corporations are counting on. They don't care about anything else except to keep me over-consuming. I am attempting to consume, then, as little as possible. THIS is the solution we seek.

Without my willingness to sit glued to my advertising machine, also known as a television, and without my willingness to buy 20 pairs of shoes when I only need two or three, the empire built of greed will crumble in upon itself. The second bird I kill here is a philosophical bird. Hyper-consumption blocks me from objectively seeing and experiencing happiness, because hyper-consumption DEPENDS on me being unhappy. At least, it depends on me being unhappy enough to believe that I need to buy a product I have no use for in order to attain happiness. I bought and I bought and I bought and attained no catharsis. Then, I tried giving. Holy shit…. let me tell you…. giving brings HAPPINESS.


5. Those who stand to make a profit beyond modest self-sustenance are suspect. Here I am referring to the media. This is key. Any for-profit corporate media outlet, no matter what they are saying, is going to spin the message of love and of modest living into a grotesque charade of itself. Their interest is not in the success of the occupy-wall-street movement, but in the profit that they can make regurgitating the most sensationalized garbage related to the movement that they can. I mean to say that the more someone has, the less valuable their words are. Just as Rupert Murdoch and Bill O'Reilly are suspect, so are Michael Moore and Keith Olberman. These are men who have over extended themselves into the world.

A millionaire who says "sure, tax me more, it's only fair," does not absolve himself of the misdeed of hoarding substantially more than he needs to sustain himself merely by offering to a pay a tiny fraction more on next year's taxes. I'm not saying that no person ought to be worthy of some luxury here and there. I am saying that, in a world where one billion people are starving, sitting on TV spouting liberal politics while wearing a suit that probably cost $1000 and then going home via a limousine to an estate that could house dozens is, objectively speaking, an act of violence.

I have come to the realization that, indeed, the less I have, the more meaningful my words become. When O'Reilly or Moore give up their fortunes, I'll be willing to listen to them. Subvert the corporate media by staying informed online with twitter and other such services. You can start by reading the Tsaritsa's blog. She be occupying. We no longer need the goings on of the world digested for us by men with money. The internet is here.

6. Love. This part is simple. Love every single day. Love every single person. Don't coerce people, and don't think that a movement that leverages a broken and violent government into coercing the rich into giving up more of their money will ever fix the economic disparities or the social ills of the world. Government can't redistribute the wealth of wall-street through taxes nearly as efficiently as we can by no longer using credit, by not driving our cars as much, by not buying a new car just because the old one is old, by living modestly and by turning off our cable or satellite services.

Turning off the TV is, in a sense, the ultimate act of love. Only by means such as these can we gently deflate the insanely ballooning machine of indoctrinated hyper-consumerism. It starts in the home, loving one another and helping one another. Then locally, finding those in true need and loving them and helping them. Then nationally we can love ourselves by learning how to see fellow people as people, and not seeing them merely as a dollar figure related to their fancy clothing. Then we can love on a global scale by feeding the unfed and by not shoving our guns in the faces of people we don't even know.

Love is about forgiveness. We can, and must, forgive everyone, even the people at the top of this economic disaster. After all, the people that caused this, like the men who run our government, and like the talking heads on TV, are children. At least psychologically, they are children, hoarding as a child hoards toys in a play pen. I was like a child, hoarding. I have found, though, the value of sharing. The value of making myself small. If I can learn it, anyone can. Even Warren Buffet. Although he has the mentality of a child, he is still human, and that makes him like me. And I love me. So I love him. And I love you.

Sick, greedy, altruistic, indoctrinated, smart, confused, giving, impoverished, loving or hating, we are all humans and we are all worthy of love. We are all, then, truly and simply, the 100%.

Friday, November 11, 2011

TRIUMPH: Submit now [to my zine] or forever hold your peace

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It's time to send in your submissions for the fourth issue of Be About It, my semi-regularly published independent literary magazine. I'm closing submissions on Monday, but that's still plenty of time to get your cameras clickin, your fingers typin, and your creative juices flowin.

For more info, check out this post. And If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments or send me a tweet.

I have already received a bunch of great pieces for this issue, but I always want to extend a hand to the lollygaggers and get them on board. So submit now!

And remember, zines and original artwork and writing make great holiday gifts!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GIVEAWAY: your very own business cards from UPrinting

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A company called UPrinting, specializing in custom business cards, contacted me recently wanting to know if I would host a giveaway here on this blog. UPrinting.com is one of the versatile printing companies who offer business cards online. Not only do they print affordable and quality business cards, they can also customize them according to your specific needs and offer custom business cards

"Why not," I thought, "Everyone loves business cards, right?" I know that I do. They're an essential aspect of networking. I even have a little metal case, akin to an old fashioned cigarette case, in my purse for my business cards. It keeps them nice and neat and makes a polished impression when I attend events.

So here's how to enter the giveaway:

1) Giveaway ends November 15, 2011. That's next Tuesday!
2) For one entry, send out a tweet about this giveaway with a link to this post (tag me at the end of the tweet @theTsaritsa)
3) For one entry, like the Tsaritsa sez and UPrinting on Facebook
4) For one entry, follow this blog with Google Friend Connect
5) For two entries, write a post on your blog about this giveaway

The more times you tweet the more entries you will receive, and more entries means a greater chance of winning. To pick the winner, I will write your name on a slip of paper (one slip per entry), put them all in a hat, and will randomly choose one person. 

Don't forget to leave me a comment to let me know that you entered!


Super easy, right? ONE lucky winner will take home a set of 250 custom business cards, a must-have for every young professional and entrepreneur. 

The winner will be announced Tuesday, November 15, so get to getting!
Business card choices are
2 x 3.5" Rounded Corners 
2 x 2" Rounded Corners 
1.75 x 3.5" Rounded Corners
2 x 3.5" Leaf
2 x 3.5 Rounded one corner
2 x 3.5" Half Circle Side
2 x 3.5" Oval
2.5" Circle 14pt Cardstock Gloss/Matte/High Gloss (UV) or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated

FYI: this giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, but no monetary compensation was given. I will, however, receive my own set of business cards for hosting. SCORE!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Jordan from Trailer Gypsy has won the 250 free business cards of her choice. Congratulations!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Urban ants, American Dream, Zombies and Skulls [photo walk]

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Is the American dream dead?

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"I fell down by myself, I was not cut down," so says the tree stump.

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Mmmm, sugar skull...

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Mmmm, teardrop tattoo...

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In Nob Hill, a swanky San Francisco neighborhood.

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Eeek!

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A colony of urban ants, living inside a parking lot.

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Not sure what this is, but it looked cool. In the Tenderloin.

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Payphones, now used as urban art vehicles.

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"If you think hip-hop music is all about how much money you have, how big your rims are, and how much your chain costs then you need to WAKE UP." << I completely agree.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Tao Of Wu by the RZA [book review]

Wu Tang Clan co-founder RZA in New York City's...Image via Wikipedia
Looking for a great book to read, or perhaps you have an awesome recommendation-- take a look at my reading list and leave a comment.

Last week I picked up and read a book that has been sitting around in my apartment for over a year. Ben gave me The Tao of Wu last year as a birthday gift, and though I started reading it just after receiving it, I paused after ten pages, put it on a shelf, and forgot about it.

For whatever reason I wasn't ready to read it then, but after going back to the book when I needed some waiting room reading material, I soon realized I couldn't put it down.

The Tao of Wu is kind of like the sequel to RZA's first book, The Wu-Tang Manual, but it goes a lot deeper. RZA talks about his experience growing up in poverty in the housing projects of Staten Island (where he shared a two-bedroom apartment with eighteen other family members), explains Wu-Tang's metamorphosis from catchy street slang to global hip-hop domination, and does all of this while detailing his spiritual journey.

I love the RZA. He's a musical genius who forever changed the face of hip-hop and music production by creating a sound that was all his own, a style that people are still trying to emulate today.

Being a total Wu-Tang head, I knew a lot of the history of the group and the basic beliefs held by group members before reading this book. But reading Tao gave me a new appreciation for the RZA and everything he's been through, not to mention I felt a kinship with his worldview and thoughts on spirituality.

The RZA grew up going to Christian churches with his uncle in the south, the type of churches where grown men and ladies get "the holy ghost," scream and yell and throw themselves on the ground in a so-called spiritual fervor.

Even as a child, RZA saw through this unsightly display, realizing that god is inside everyone, not just those who go to church regularly. That's why members of the Wu call each other "god," because every person is a god-- they just to find it within themselves and tap into that potential. He realized this idea through his studies of the Bible, Koran and teachings of Buddha, but even more when he started learning the Lessons of the Five Percent Nation.


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The Five Percent Nation is based upon the notion that 85% of the world's population is deaf, dumb, and blind to the very real problems in our society, the problems that the wicked 10% create and try to keep the 5%, who are fully aware of the disproportionate power this group has, from unearthing and revealing to the 85% who are content just to watch reruns of Toddlers & Tiaras in the safety of their sheltered homes.

If you really think about it, this notion is completely true. How much wrongdoing is going on in this world that most people simply tune out and turn away from? And although the numbers may not be exact, it's an illustration of how the powerful few have complete control over the ignorant many. The point of the Five Percent Nation is to wake people out of their self-inflicted cocoons, spread knowledge, and get the masses to reach self-actualization. To take a stand for what is right and not just accept the status quo.

Usually, after reading a book, I am left with something or a few things from the book to ponder over, which is one of my favorite aspects of reading a good book-- having an idea to turn over in my head. With that said, I usually do not feel compelled to write anything about the book afterward, which is why there are scant book reviews to be found on this site. I'll recommend a good book I've read to a friend and provide a few key details or reasons why they should read, or maybe even write a short blurb, but doing a review like this is rarely on my agenda.

This book, however, made me want to share. I really enjoyed RZA's take on spirituality, showing that one can tap into godliness without being religious:

"I'm not a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, a gangsta, a thug, or a prophet. I'm not any one of these things, although in a way I'm all of them," says the RZA . I agree. The things we learn in our days become a part of us, but not any one of the things you've learned or experienced in life can define you as a whole. People are too complex.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes the Wu-Tang Clan and hip-hop, and also to anyone who is interested in religion and spirituality. RZA writes this book in his own voice-- while reading, I heard his distinct dialect in my head, pointing out bits of wisdom and uncovering his humanity. Check out this book at the library or if you'd like to borrow my copy to read, just let me know and I'll lend it to you.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Recycled fashion: tips on buying vintage clothing

I went to the Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire, a two-day shopping fair at The O Club with timeless looks from the prim Victorian-era to the day-glo 1980s on display in 50 booths selling a wide array of clothing for women and men, couture, jewelry, accessories, textiles, fine linens and more.

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It was a great show, and I got to meet some awesome people (like Jillian of Joules Jewels Vintage, who I had Happy Hour drinks with last week-- she is new to the Bay Area and started her shop selling jewelry, but has now incorporated retro threads into her line).

Annie, my friend and fellow vintage-lover, was visiting me here in San Fran for my birthday so we went to the show together (and hitch-hiked back to BART afterward, but that's another story for another day). Before going to the show I picked up some serious vintage shopping know-how from expert and event co-founder, Sandra Michaan. Read on for her tips on buying vintage, choosing the right era and mixing vintage and modern pieces.

What is a good way for someone to get introduced to buying vintage?

A good way for someone new to get introduced to buying vintage is to attend a vintage fashion faire or expo event. There are dozens of professional dealers vending all in one place. Many have been in the business for years and own shops. They are experts and can find the right styles for you to try and are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to eras, inventory and sizing. It’s like having a mall of personal vintage shoppers who hand pick and select merchandise that is right for you. Also, if you don’t have a stylist, you can enlist a stylish friend who already wears vintage to go shopping with you. I always help my friends find pieces for their collections and show them new ways to mix vintage.

Any ideas for beginners who aren’t sure how to wear it?

Look at magazines and browse the internet to see how other stylish folks are wearing vintage. You can be inspired by style blogs, since many bloggers are savvy to mixing vintage with modern pieces. Also many celebrities are wearing vintage and they have stylists who are vintage collectors so they style them for appearances and photo shoots. I recommend starting with accessories like vintage scarves, hats, belts and jewelry and working your way into more adventurous looks as you get more confident with wearing vintage.

Can anyone wear any era of vintage or are certain eras more appropriate for different body types?

I believe you can wear any era of vintage and look fantastic, but certain eras have cuts that are more flattering to different body types. It’s all about finding the style that feels right for you.

How can one identify different eras of vintage? What distinguishes one era from another?

If you’re new at collecting vintage there are books to guide you. Also, at vintage shows, dealers can assist you with their knowledge. Watch TV and films from different eras. They depict very specific time periods and the costumers get it right. They win awards for their expertise. I’ve studied fashion history and it’s fascinating to go to fashion exhibits at museums. What distinguishes one era from another is fabric, length, fit, etc. and it will be easy to determine once you get the hang of it.

Is it ever acceptable to wear vintage from head to toe? What about mix-matching eras?

It is acceptable to wear vintage head to toe if you are re-enacting an era. Some people are vintage lifestyle enthusiasts and even wear authentic undergarments. They belong to vintage societies and are passionate collectors. If you do choose to wear vintage in that way you will look as though you stepped off a movie set and you will get noticed. However, a more modern approach is to mix modern and vintage. Also, it’s perfectly fine to mix vintage eras. I like to mix Victorian lace and 60s styles with modern pieces. It’s how you mix it that matters. Try to find eras that echo each other in tone. It’s an advanced styling technique but it looks fresh and unique when you see it.

How do you feel about recycled fashion (modifying a vintage piece into an updated or different look)?

Recycled fashion is an art form. I’ve seen some pieces that have been destroyed by time restored into a fabulous new garment that looks new and modern by some of my dealers at my shows. I have myself done this. Sometimes, an old garment just doesn’t work in it’s original form and needs a fresh update. Often, moths destroy sleeves, or silk disintegrates. Embellishments can be added to revive a tired gown. I love to recycle fashion that way and reinvent something. Even broken jewelry can be made new again and many dealers at my shows have achieved this beautifully.

Why are fashionistas drawn to vintage?

One of a kind looks are always a strong way to make a fashion statement. Stylish types love to go for fashion that they know others won’t have. No one wants to walk into a room and see another person wearing the same outfit! Not to mention that vintage garments are often couture quality for much lower prices.

Who are your favorite vintage designers?


Halston, Yves St. Laurent, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar De La Renta, Pucci, Lilli Ann.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Flea markets, books, magazines, film, museums, art, nature, travel, music, the internet!

What are your tips for buying vintage: what should one look for, and what not to buy?

When buying vintage always look for good condition. If you buy something that needs restoration, take that cost factor into consideration. Don’t pass on vintage items if they aren’t current designer names. Sometimes, lesser known labels can become collectible in the years to come. As for size, it’s always a good idea to go up in size since you can always get larger items altered to fit. Don’t rely on modern sizing since old labels have different sizing standards. Sizes vary from decade to decade and from manufacturer to manufacturers since they are from the past. Try every item on or get measurements to ensure a proper fit. Lastly, always buy what you love. Vintage is a good investment and is always in style.

Originally posted on SF Indie Fashion, words and photos by yours truly.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

My Sookie kitty is super stylish *meow*

"Mommy's shoes smell good after a long day of work," says Sookie.

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Sookie is seriously the best cat, ever. Not only is she so loving and fun (when I come home from work or wherever she's always waiting at the door for me, and then when I walk in she starts pouncing me and running around, wanting to play.

She's kind of like a dog, but much smarter. And much more stylish. You know she would look smashing in those red heels (which I only wore to work for my Zombie Amy Winehouse costume on Halloween Monday) and carrying that vintage Dooney & Bourke bag. Chic kitty.

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Are your pets super stylish? Do they like to snuggle up in your shoes after a hard day's work?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bloglovin and BILFs (bloggers I'd like to... forever enjoy)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Just joined Bloglovin after attending a Blogging Seminar hosted by Lorraine (my boss) of SF Indie Fashion. Another blogger at the conference uses it and recommends it, so I figured I'd try it out. Do you use Bloglovin? Do you like it? Are there any other networking sites for blogs that you use and love? Tell me about them!


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In other news, I just got a tweet from Q of Thank, Q For Common Sense informing me that I was chosen by him to receive a BILF award. His reasons for giving me the award are that I am "open-minded, intelligent, and comfortable in front of a camera. 'Nuff said."

*blushes* Geez, Q, thank you! I'm flattered, truly.

Now to pass this award on to five lovely and gorgeous bloggers. The following I have picked because I love their blogs, not because I want to do anything dirty with them (for the record). I have a boyfriend, so my recognition of these bloggers is strictly platonic:

- Ashley of Beyond Passing Time has a unique viewpoint and always has something intriguing to say, like in this satirical guest post about Julia Roberts.

- Claudia of Molto Fashion because she's got great style, takes amazing photographs, and is a total sweetheart.

- Hipstercrite is a hilarious blog and also totally relatable to all us self-aware twenty-somethings out there trying to find our place in the sun.

- Charles of In Review: Stuff and Things has a knack for writing and is an inspiration to me. I am humbled by his empathy and understanding.

- Donald of Up In The Clouds keeps me entertained on Twitter and has impeccable musical taste (and I'm not just saying that because we did a hip-hop related collabo-post before)-- check him out!

Hope you're all having an awesome weekend! Don't forget to pass this award on.