Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hipster English Country Squire

Man 11/29/08

I was with a friend, so it wasn’t really convenient for me to use my notepad. But my friend got to see first-hand the reason why I wanted to start this blog.

Based on my best recollection.

It was two of them. They came into the subway car together and sat perpendicular to each other. Both of them had their own reading material.

The best I could describe this man was hipster English country squire. That was his style. A black and white herringbone driving cap. A tan tweed blazer, under which was a chambray jacket, and a green wool sweater, and an untucked tattersall button-down shirt. Basic tan corduroy pants, and the piece-de-resistance: white socks with Adidas sneakers – also tan. Exactly as I named him. A hipster English Country Squire spotted in Brooklyn, riding the subway.

He was blond, and physically that was all I remember. His look just over-powered and overwhelmed him. But, hey, it a sight that even my friend will remember for a long time.

The best part? The seat next to the squire opened up and his friend moved over. And from the looks of it, they seemed to be a couple and not just friends. That was swiftly confirmed when the friend moved closer, and started reading from his book, How to Parent Your 4 Year Old Child. He was reading the book to the squire but it was almost like a very romantic bedtime story being acted out for the entire train to see. Perhaps it was the leaning into each other’s bodies, or the holding of the book precisely between both their laps.

The Reader? He was in an oversized winter wool jacket and skin-tight black pants, with a wool beanie.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Man 11/5/08

He had this green shopping bag. Well, it was this green tyvek, medium-sized tote bag, with, across the front sides.

Plus, he was really tan. Not George Hamilton orange, but a deep Mediterranean olive tan that suggested a Greek heritage. Even his bald head was sporting this deep tan, though the dark color served to hide the few leftover follicles on the crown of his head. The hair on the sides was short, and a mix of brown and white; colors repeated for his eyebrows.

His ears were possibly the largest single feature on his head, with prominent sunspots. His face was fleshy and sat on a double chin, and when paired with his pudgy nose, he gave off the look of an old prizefighter.

Underneath his olive ¾ length raincoat was a dark three-button suit. With a closer look, it was actually a dark navy blue with very subtle tonal stripes. And you could just make out the blue striped shirt with the white contrast collar, accented by the red tie, which had a basic pattern of blue and orange squares.

His shoes were black. Very basic lace-up Oxfords, like the sort one would get at Wal-Mart. Quite out of sync with the rest of his outfit, which though not quite Saks, did not deserve that quality of shoe.

The watch was the only piece of jewelry visible on him. Worn on the left wrist, it was a classic rectangular white-face encased in gold, and finished with brown straps. His nails were really close cropped, though his hands and arms showed a lot of hair. Perhaps reflecting his possible Mediterranean heritage.

Like most subway riders, he was reading. The New York Post. In fact, he was reading each page quite intently and looking over every piece of information like an archaeologist examining fossils. He had glasses tethered around his neck, but since they were not in use for reading, perhaps they were sunglasses.

Slowly, it seemed that he was preparing himself to exit the train. He brought out his LG flip-phone and gave the screen a quick check. Then he pulled out a small paper bag from his green tote that you could tell was holding one of those tall cylinders typically used for food deliveries. Gave that another quick check. Soup perhaps?


Woman 10/31/08

She had really sad eyes. Bulging bug-eyes that told of an experienced life. The eyes were highlighted with eyeliner and she had on red lipstick. No other signs of make-up were very evident. Her purple headscarf that housed skinny long hair braids out the back, but revealed a mix of brown dye and aged white roots in the front bangs. Interestingly, she projected warmth and friendliness.

It was really the clothing that made her interesting. She was dressed like an ethnic tribal woman. There was this short-sleeved full-length poncho. Black but covered with primary color geometric patterns that suggested a floral influence, with tassels on the bottom. The poncho was cotton.

Under that poncho? A cotton, long-sleeve black blouse with ethnic patterns on the sleeves. And that was layered over a black turtleneck. With a red scarf loosely wrapped around her neck. Continuing her look was this solid black cotton gypsy skirt, over black suede boots with a side zip. She really had a specific style, right down to the light purple nail polish.

The accessories provided her the finishing touch. A bare right wrist. A full left wrist with a watch that had a blue rectangular face and blue strap. 10 or so thin bangles, majority made of silver or stainless steel, one was resin with purple flecks on white, almost marble-like pattern, and one was multicolor. Pearl earrings accented with diamonds, or rhinestone that really sparkled.

With her backpack, she was taking up two seats. Well, it was really a knapsack. A black leather knapsack with a leather drawstring for it’s main compartment, and on it’s front pocket, a leather map of Africa. At first it seemed like a logo, but a harder second look showed the patch to be a cutout in the shape of the continent. And keeping with her look, the knapsack was quite worn and weathered.

She held her tortoiseshell sunglasses in one hand, and later replaced it with her cell phone from the knapsack. On her lap was this clear plastic yellow Ziploc folder. It was filled with forms of all colors and one could just make-out the logo of NYSCA on one of those forms.

This woman was soon having a conversation with a fellow passenger who’d originally been my first choice for observation, but she seemed to be drunk and sleeping it off. Well, turns out she had sleep apnea. And her birthday was 2/9/62, same sign as this woman.

The woman spoke with no accent, and when the sleep apnea woman exited the train, she pulled out a yellow colored pamphlet and started reading the black type. It was written in Spanish.

Crocs and Philip Roth


I think it was the Crocs that caught my eye. They were white, with multi-color flower and starfish buttons on them. It was the first time I had seen an adult woman with Crocs that were so decorated. Then, it was the book. She was reading a Philip Roth book – The Plot Against America, and a good 1/3 of the way though the novel. Crocs and Philip Roth, a new combination for the subway riding public of New York City to ponder.

She was blonde. Sitting diagonally across from me, was this dark blonde, seemingly natural, though the lighter streaks gave me some pause. Wearing a plain pair of black-framed glasses, reading her book. Her hair was shoulder length, but tied back in a ponytail. You could just make out the mole under her left ear as she turned her head slightly. A very plain-Jane librarian face. No make-up, no real hairstyle, and basic glasses.

The clothing was another window into her individualistic tendencies. If the Crocs and book revealed a lot, what do you ask about the woman who has turquoise tights on underneath her dark gypsy skirt? A gray singlet sits layered below a dusty pink tank top. Not sure if she had a bra on.

The rest of her was in the accessories. Well, first, a long necklace with pebbles made from sliver and colored resin. Then, a smaller necklace that had a single diamond pendant. One ring on her left middle finger – looked like a flea market ornate antique. No wedding ring, but a simple gold bangle on her left wrist. Looking down to her right ankle, there was a string bracelet visible while she was sitting. No earrings.

She was carrying a leather handbag that again reminded me of another flea market find. It had this frayed shoulder strap, and oddly enough a small troll affixed on the end of the zipper. A nod to her Crocs perhaps?

Most interestingly, I wasn’t the only one watching her. There was a younger woman eyeing her as well. And she herself was watching the men exiting the car at just about every stop.

The Descriptionist

I’d been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a while now, and couldn’t quite figure out what I would write about. There are enough shopping, fashion, food, parenting…etc…blogs in the universe at this point. I wasn’t going to do anything unless it was moderately original, and relatively interesting. Both of which I am assuredly not.

My inner thoughts - professional or personal, didn’t really seem all that interesting, and it also seemed to be a little bit much. I only have 2 cents worth, and I’d like to keep 2 cents to myself, or at least to those that would appreciate those 2 cents. I’m not looking to build a fan club of my opinion.

So, riding the subway one day, it suddenly hit me what I should write about. I would be a ghost writer. Literally. An invisible person who is able to observe and impart that observation in print. And it was the sight of this woman sitting across for me on the subway that gave me that Eureka! moment. I was going to sit across from her for at least 30 mins; surely I could come away with enough to write a credible blog entry.

And so, that started this blog. It’s starting with descriptions of people, but I’m sure it’ll gradually morph to other entities; living or otherwise.

Shout out to Scott Schuman, The Satorialist. When I grow up I want to be just like him. And my only two German friends with their own blogs.