Thursday, October 22, 2009

Man with the Golden Companion


For someone riding a mobility scooter, he was far from the usual stereotype of a rider. He wasn’t overweight. Not particularly old. No real visible signs of disability. If one didn’t know better this would another George Costanza-like situation. Not pretty.

He was dressed like an old high school teacher. Attempting to dress up and convey some gravitas, but ending up looking rumpled and a caricature of what academics think is fashionable yet comfortable. In his case, it was a dark navy blue blazer that though the standard two button, the cut and the design betrayed the truth that it was probably bought a good decade or more ago. The lapels were slightly larger and the blazer itself was about a size too large for his frame.

Adding to that lost fashion sense was a navy blue crewneck worn under that blazer. A curious choice to pair with a blazer for him, but it went perfectly with the faded black denim jeans he was wearing. Both were equally generous with the fading of color, and in keeping with his now obvious near monotone taste in color.

The black chunky boots were a real surprise though. For a person on a scooter to have these hybrid hiking and walking boots was an oxymoron right? If one isn’t doing much walking, why wear those meant for others who are to do much of it?

His glasses on a black tortoiseshell frame completed his look.

At his feet was a dark grey messenger bag. A cell phone sticking out of the side pocket, looking like it was supposed to be in more comfortable quarters.

He spent the majority of his train ride reading the New York Times. The boardsheet in all of its splendor on what is normally a train too crowded for spreading out.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Golden Companion

Man 10/8/09

Golden Companion. Rather, Golden Companion II. That was the name on the prominent label affixed to the front and rear. The Golden Companion II is an electric mobility scooter. Now a scooter in a NYC subway is a rare sight and one simply cannot let this pass without a closer look.

It was a metallic navy blue scooter. A large sticker on the steering column to indicate the name, Golden Companion II, and an even larger sticker on the rear of the scooter on the casing where the battery is located to do the same.

It was a man sitting on this scooter. The seat was similar to a seat one would find on an electric wheelchair. Large back and seat, though curiously no seat belt on this one. Perhaps it was removed? The grey chair was made from a PVC material and the foam sticking out from the worn corners suggested a lot of mileage. It was also slightly discolored and darkened adding to the patina of age and abuse.

At the very top of the steering column was a small circle headlight flanked on both sides by black foam padded handlebars. There were no brake levers on that handlebar, but directly underneath each grip was a small lever obviously meant for the thumbs – the left was marked R, and the right was marked F. On the dash board was a battery meter in the middle of that rectangle console. To the left and right were two little buttons – one for the headlight and the other remained a mystery. At the bottom of the steering column was a rubberized accordion sleeve that was most probably there to protect a suspension or some sort of hinge.

The rather thick chassis sat on three wheels. One in front, and two in the rear. All grey in color and about 10 inches in diameter. There were also two other smaller wheels right next to the rear wheels. Those two smaller wheels were roller wheels that sat off the ground, and probably there to aid transportation of the vehicle.

On the front panel of the battery casing was a large faux wood sticker. Not sure why it was there since it didn’t obviously serve a function nor was it aesthetically appropriate.

His feet rested on a large footbed that essentially dominated the chassis of the scooter. On the front edging of the footbed was a protective metallic gold strip that ran the length of that edge. In keeping with the theme, there were portions that were held down by masking tape and a small portion that was missing completely.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Original

Woman 9/24/09

It was a simple tee with a rather striking black and white image. At first, the initial reaction was one of irony – Oh, how cute that she’s wearing a t-shirt with the face of Pam Anderson, who is clearly the antithesis of everything this woman stands for. Focusing more on the face on that tee, it began to be obvious that it wasn’t the infamous Pamela Anderson who was being subtly mocked, it was the great Brigitte Bardot who was being celebrated.

Brigitte Bardot the icon. Brigitte Bardot the woman who epitomized French sensuality in Fifties and whose influence is still felt today even though the height of her fame was in the Sixties. Unlike those who needed to die young to remain so, she is still remembered as an effervescent beauty who conjures fantasies at the mere mention of her name. What’s probably more striking is that instead of being just remembered for her sexuality, she’s long been a favorite of fashionistas as well.

This fashionista wasn’t channeling Bardot but perhaps celebrating her French style. The tee aside, she was in dark skinny jeans tucked into tall leather boots. The boots just like the jeans were unadorned and offered clean simple lines for the eye. The heels were just about 3 inches and the tan rich enough to impart the craftsmanship and the probable high price.

On her lap was a large handbag. It was an ivory leather with just two handles. All other details though were obscured by the large cotton anorak that she had on which partially cloaked the handbag. The anorak was meant to sit loosely on her shoulders. A thin canvas jacket for cooler summer or warmer spring days had found itself in demand on this cool late early Fall day in NYC. It was a sand color with a hood that had drawstrings of the same color. One could make out the zipper which indicated that the hood was removable. The zipper of the anorak was brass, but the buttons on the side hand pockets were both brown. The relative simplicity of this long jacket was essentially in keeping with her signature taste.

She had a long pixie cut. The hair was dyed in what looked to be two different layers – brown on the outside and black on the inside. The roots were brown, so this just wasn’t a simple case of her black hair growing out. It was a deliberate dye pattern.

Her make-up was equally deliberate. Light on the blush. Heavy on the mascara to highlight her eyes. And a pale powder around her cheeks to offset the pink of the blush. The eyebrows were painted brown. There were a light sprinkling of freckles across her face.

She looked like she stepped out of a fashionista Manga comic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Color of Money

Woman. 9/22/09

At first glance, one sees one basic item of clothing in an innocuous green. But take a closer look, and you realize that one item leads to another – the subtlety was in the delicate balance of shades. Green yet not green.

So yes, it was green. Green everywhere but in all different shades and hues, and varying textures.

Given the warm weather that had enveloped NYC in this first week of Fall, the boots were a clear calling card of someone ready for cooler climes. Green boots which were just the kind you’d expect in early Fall. Not tall at all, reaching just to her lower calf. The green? A pea green that wasn’t unlike a rich split pea soup from one of NYC’s fabled restaurants. The textured leather added another dimension and somehow was able to soften the look of the boot. There was a zipper on the back of each boot from heel to top – dark green in color. On the lower sides of each boot, a double helix stitch pattern in a dark green thread. No socks were visible on her legs.

In keeping with the early Fall theme, she had on a pair of skorts. Ending just at knee level, the skort was actually a seersucker fabric obscured by the dark olive green background color finished with thin bankers stripes done in a light green. One could also see empty belt loops at the waistline.

Perhaps to no surprise, she was wearing long sleeves on this day as well. This was green in all its glory. A clear green like Astro Turf in the night stadium when viewed on HD. It was your basic cotton wide scoop neck top. There was a skinny black strap visible on her left shoulder which turned out to be the black camisole she had on underneath.

Her handbag was aquamarine. Not a surprise really. It had a Coach leather brand tag attached to one of the handles. One the front of the bag was a pocket with a gold buckle though it wasn’t readily apparent if it was for functional access to the pocket or for pure aesthetics. Since the bag was open, you could see that the interior had a multi-colored striped lining.

The rest of her was actually refreshingly simple. Her hair was tied up in a loose bun. And on each earlobe was a thin long gold chain which was holding a single white pearl. Her right ring finger had a simple gold wedding band.

She was reading a thick hardcover book. With it open, you could see a purple Post-it that she had used to mark something on a previous page. The title and author on the front cover was obscured by a rather large paper library tag – in large font, it was marked Baruch College Inter-library Loan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LV in Pink

Woman 8/17/09

You’ve got to hand it to Marc Jacobs. The man who turned Murakami and Sprouse into household names in middle America. Jessica Simpson knows their names.

She was carrying the unmistakable Louis Vuitton Stephen Sprouse handbag. It was the regular Sprouse style writing but in hot pink against the dark brown background. You could spot this bag from a country mile away. The zipper was open and she had a Snapple bottom and what appeared to be her breakfast in a small Ziploc bag sitting at the very top of the opening.

Her outfit was just as eye-catching as her bag, just as fashionable though not as loud color-wise. Her jeans were skintight. From her ankles to her waist, the denim was a second skin. The jeans themselves were of a dark denim but high-waisted, not the low-slug skinny jeans favored by so many today. Perhaps it was because of her full figure, but those fashionable high-waisted dark jeans really worked for her. The label on the rear was Guess.

Her top was this chiffon and silk halter top. An interesting choice for the cool weather. The floral print was a watercolor of reds and greens in a manner that evoked Marc Jacobs – feminine yet contemporary. Definitely something Anthropologie would knock off, or perhaps it was something purchased from Forever 21.

On her feet were a pair of flip-flops from Havaianas. The straps were gold and there was a distinct print on the footbed of the sandals. Interesting choice of footwear but perhaps consistent relative to the halter top.

The large gold earrings on her accentuated her hair and face. The hoop earrings were so large they reached almost to her shoulders and threatened to overwhelm her but the thinness of the rings made them much more subtle – as subtle as large hoop gold earrings can be. The asymmetrical cut of her hairstyle confirmed her fashionista tendencies. A left to right part with severe bangs tilting left but with hair long enough to reach her upper back.

On her left hand was a silver bracelet formed with open links. A silver heart charm was attached.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Young at Heart

Man 8/30/09

Someday when we’re all old and slow. We’ll either treat our clothes as a bother and not worthy of our limited time remaining on Earth, or we’ll do the best we can because that’s the kind of people we are. Wonder which side each of us will choose.

He was an undeniably old man. A face that reminded one of old Chinese sages that have been a part of popular culture for 2000 years. White eyebrows so long they almost seemed in need of grooming. Age spots on the edges of the face. Slight puffy bags under his eyes. Curiously, no major wrinkles accept for around his mouth.

His forehead and hair were hidden by his navy-blue fabric hat. It was a standard fishing hat with a short brim and three brass grommets on each side.

This ancient style guy was wearing a polyester track jacket. It was a cream colored standard track jacket with green and black stripes that started just below the shoulders on the front, and paralleled vertically down the back. On the left breast was a logo for Winslow, and on the right bicep was a green triangle outlined with the words Winslow Sports Era inside. His zip collar was open and you could just make out the green accent under the collar. The frayed cuffs indicated a well worn jacket.

Underneath that jacket was a white shirt that had somewhat yellowed with age. It was a standard issues spread collar with a tab underneath. This gentleman was buttoned up all the way. In his left breast shirt pocket was a large bulge that was probably his wallet. A curious place if for such an important accessory.

The pants were a matching shade of beige. And thought they were definitely of a synthetic material, the cut was non-pleated. I’d guess the pattern was from the 80’s prior to the explosion of pleated pants. Holding up those pants was a black leather belt. A gold buckle with a simple circular design.

The best thing on this dapper gentleman? His shoes. They were faux leather loafers. In a cream color similar to the jacket. A small metal logo on the outside front top corner of each shoe. The cream was accented with brown strips that weaved subtlety around the soles. The best part? The man was sockless.

Ever the gentleman, he was carrying a slim umbrella. It was medium sized and the fabric was a madras pattern in a primarily blue-green color with hints of orange. Paired with that umbrella was a tote bag with long fabric straps. The cotton bag was in a brown and cream houndstooth check pattern. A small bag overall, but for his small frame – perfect.

Throughout the subway ride, his left hand would be trembling. Every so often the soft tremors would migrate and his legs would be affected as well.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hats for the Memories

Man 7/30/09

The Return of the Fedora. Kennedy tried to kill it in 1960, and two-score and nine years later, the fedora has officially marked a new renaissance. Not a return to glory like the old days, but at least a return to respectability.

As such, this man’s fedora was not to be ridiculed though admiration was not in the cards either. Just a philosophical tip ‘O the hat (all pun intended). His was a new hipster fedora. More a trilby than a fedora really. Black and white in color, and in a faux Prince of Wales check pattern. It was sitting above his head, exposing his full head of dark wavy hair.

With his long thin sideburns and his thinly sculpted goatee featuring a soul patch under his lip, there was no mistaking this gentleman for another. He was a hipster and he was not afraid to tell the world.

The standard uniform was thus observed on this man.

Jeans – dark, dirty and indigo. Skinny with cuffs folded up.

Shoes – possibly used. Very dirty but very Euro in style. White leather athletic-inspired, with 3 velcro straps – two of which were non-functioning bungee bands.

Black Tee – crew neck. Blue and white graphic across the front stretching around to the back. More tattoo or street-inspired than irony-filled.

Sunglasses – new shiny faux Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses hanging off the tee collar.

Canvas Messenger Bag – khaki, again quite worn and old looking. A red, white and navy fabric strap giving a hint of Americana.

Frankly, he looked like he was a hipster who dressed like he shopped at JC Penney or Kohl’s. Other than the trilby, nothing on him was authentic and they all seemed manufactured to confer that hipster vibe.

Nothing we dislike more than a faux-hipster.

Calling all Bikers! Ride for Charity.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

White on White

Woman 8/26/09

Immediately, one notices the obvious. White pants. Summer white, pristine and not quite sheer and very weather appropriate. The white singlet. Ok, the white wifebeater. Plain white and in this context, again, very weather appropriate. On her arm was a grey cardigan, no doubt for the cooler air that her work environment was sure to provide.

Curiously, she wasn’t tan at all. All that white, and her skin was just as alabaster though perhaps not as severe. The singlet revealed very freckled pale arms which matched her equally freckled and pale face. No makeup on her but a slight hint of lip gloss. She had shoulder length brown hair.

On her ears, pearl earrings. One pearl on each lobe, sitting on a gold setting.

As much as one noticed the big hits of white. It also came into view that there was a very deliberate secondary color at play. Orange.

On her neck was a necklace composed of three strands of beads. Well, more like pearls – orange pearls. Three stands of orange faux pearls that demanded to be noticed in a sea of white.

On her feet, a pair of burnt orange sandals. Faux-leather gladiator-inspired straps from toe to ankle with a comfortable sole - maybe Aerosoles? And all this topped off with toenails in a near matching color. Orange, but not quite burnt. Her fingernails though were clean – no color.

Her handbag was this large brown leather handbag. In a hobo styled design. A large brown leather strap on each end attached to silver buckles. No pockets or outside zippers. Just one large opening on the top of the bag.

And as modern women are no taking to doing, she was wearing a men’s watch. A stainless steel sports model with a round black face. Couldn’t make out the brand though.

About three stops into her ride, she pulled a book out of her handbag and proceeded to spend the rest of the ride in reader-trance. She was reading “Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living” by Pema Chodron.


Man 6/16/09

People talk about the Brooklyn attitude like they do about the Bronx attitude or in some cases, the Queens one. (Apologies to Staten Island and Manhattan) The more one lives in Brooklyn, the more you realize that perhaps there is such a thing. Starting from Tony Manero, to the Eighties rap renaissance and followed by the latter day Jay-Z shout-outs. There have been all along pop culture the personification of this Brooklyn attitude.

The kid was dressed much like a lot of his urban compatriots. First off, the shoes. Air Jordans. Not the late model ones, but the early model re-issue. Looked like Air Jordan III to the non-expert shoegazer. The white patent leather, the purple accents and finished with ultra clean white laces. A modern take on a street classic.

Super skin tight black skinny jeans. Worn not in a rocker or hipster manner, but more in the style of the street skaters of today. Just hang out at Tompkins Square Park if you need a closer look.

Over the jeans was a large black puffer vest. It was severely oversize. It’s shiny fabric reflecting the light off the subway train and highlighting the quilted design. The hood was detachable and the collar was in perpetual pop-up mode. Two side hand pockets on the front. Basic gear for this crowd.

But all this was put together with quite some thought. The tee under the puffer vest was this purple crewneck. Not royal but your basic purple. And on his head was a Colorado Rockies baseball cap. Why the Rockies? Purple. The interlocking CR logo was purple with a white outline – no doubt the cap was bought to complete the color scheme. The cap’s bill was as flat as new, and the size sticker still affixed to the top of that bill. His hair was completed hidden under that cap.

His baby face suggested someone no older than his late teens. Which meant the diamond studs in each ear were probably fake – though being that impossibly large screamed fake anyway. A gold crucifix hung across his neck over the front of his purple tee.

On his hand was a metal silver and gold link strap watch. A white face with black numerals.

Further up his left forearm? A large Brooklyn tattoo done in script. Bold, brash and obviously in homage to his hometown.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

State of Confusion

Woman 6/17/09

Variety is the spice of life. So, what happens when one has outfitted and accessorized with the idea of achieving variety?

At first glance, she already appeared to be out-of-sorts. Not in a hair-all-over manner but in a way that one instinctively knows after years of riding the subway – some people are just inexplicable.

She was wearing a denim jacket. Not an acid-wash retread but it was in a light indigo hue which was very, very 80’s. Still it was a standard denim jacket design, with the double patch pockets in front, silver buttons and rivets, and as her once-folded sleeves illustrated - working buttons on the cuffs. Still it was at least one or two sizes too large for her. The jacket shoulders drooped over her tiny frame. Not a tent or a poncho, but it wasn’t a flattering slim fit either.

Under that denim jacket was a simple white cotton tee. It was longer than the typical tee, and the tail of it reached down to her hips. It looked like there was graphic on the tee that resembled the writing on a typical doctor’s eye chart.

The pants were basic business work pants. Black with slim gray, brown and blue stripes running vertically. You could make out the black stockings she had on underneath. And on her feet were two inch heels with a square toe and a small bow on the front. There was a strap at the heel. The contrast of the beige colored shoes and the dark pants with black stocks only served to highlight the continuing enigma that was this woman’s style.

Her accessories only confused more. First, a black briefcase. Yes, a black hard-shell leather briefcase usually seen with die-hard fans of L.A. Law. Sure, this one was slim making it a non-Willy Loman issue, but still nowhere close to being an acceptable part of a respectable woman’s executive attire. The second? A medium green tote bag. The primary color was green but there was a sea of white, blue and yellow dots as well. The dots were positioned such that it reminded one of star constellations. The larger blue dots could have been planets and the smaller white and yellow dots possibly stars and moons. And not content with those two pieces, she was carrying yet another bag with her. This time a very basic run-of-the-mill white canvas tote. The kind LL Bean makes.

Does the woman’s style end with her clothing and accessories choices?

Her hair was short. But the mane was teased up in such a way that coupled with the obvious brown dye job with even lighter brown highlights, one could only say – Tina Turner. A slightly shorter version but unmistakably Tina.

Her makeup wasn’t spared either. The foundation, is understood. The lipstick in a subtle pink hue was even tasteful. Then came the blue eye shadow and the heavy black

In her hand was a thick handheld PDA. I’m not even sure what brand, model or decade it came from. But there she was tapping away with that black stylus pen. Perhaps she was playing a game? She was staring at it rather intently.

On her neck was a small gold crucifix dangling from a thin gold chain.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

John Hughes R.I.P.

I'm just naming my favorites here:

Pretty in Pink
The Breakfast Club
Weird Science
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Sixteen Candles

There's nothing I could add that hasn't been written about John Hughes over the past week. But I'll say this. Until John Hughes came along, no one made movies for teens. And certainly not movies about contemporary teenagers specifically for teenagers. I can only think of George Lucas's American Graffitti, Saturday Night Fever (1977) and of course, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) as two before John Hughes. But Lucas' movie was in 1973 and set in the 50's. So, really only Rebel and Fever. That's a long time before anyone realized that an entire generation existed without a voice in cinema.

There's no one who spent their teenage years in the 80's who could deny the influence of those movies. The Breakfast Club taught us that we're all the same insecure and frightened teenagers under all that bluster and bravado. Ferris Bueller was the smart kid who was cool because he was free of everyone's rules and opinions, and not a typical jock or caricature nerd. Andie making her own prom dress and Duckie in vintage in Pretty in Pink - that is fashion.

And though I hate to admit it, Andie kissing Blane in front of that 3 Series? Made me equate BMWs to girls forever.

Just look at the casting, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, Jon Cryer - yeah they were really white and really surburban, but none of them with classic Hollywood-ready looks and all of them had something for each of us to relate to.

We all loved the movies.

And for a generation of moviegoers, one man was largely responsible for making us feel like we were all in it together and perhaps we were not so different after all. And with a little courage and a little luck, we could be who we really were and possibly even succeed in love and life.

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are.

You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions.

But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain,
and an athlete,
and a basket case,
a princess,
and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club.

Lady In Red

Woman 7/21/09

What is it with men and redheads? Men are under the illusion that all redheads are attractive and desirable. Perhaps its because we’ve yet to see an unattractive redhead.

Her hair was slightly more orange than red. Burnt orange might be the more accurate term. And that hair was tied back into a ponytail. With her face devoid of make-up, she reminded me of Molly Ringwald in Fresh Horses. Then again, for men of a certain age, all redheads remind them of Molly Ringwald, just as older men view all redheads as descendants of Ann- Margret.

The curious case of this redhead is the amount of colors on her that matched her hair color. Her scarf was orange. A summer weight scarf with ruffles and tassels and tied in a double loop around her neck. It really made the orange of her hair all the more obvious. And on her feet were orange Wellingtons. They were from Hunter, and had the usual buckles on the outside of the boot, right near the top, which reached to just under her knees.

Was orange possibly also her favorite color?

She was wearing a large oversized grey cardigan. Long enough for one to tell that it reached to about her hips when she was standing up. Under that a faded blue deep v-neck cotton tee. Just about peeking out from under that tee was what seemed to be a collar of an identical v-neck tee in white.

Slung on her shoulders was a black tote bag that had a black umbrella sticking out from one of the corners. It was one of those cheap street vendor umbrellas.

On her lap was her iPhone with a pink silicone cover. And in her hand was a large coffee cup.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Man 7/21/09

Full disclosure. I am a Chicago White Sox fan. Not because of President Obama, not because they won the World Series in 2005, not even because of the dungeon called Old Comiskey (R.I.P.) But really because of Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell and the greatest Okie State baseball player, Robin Ventura (sit down Pete Incaviglia fans).

It’s no wonder that a man wearing a Chicago White Sox jersey riding the subway in Brooklyn makes an appearance here. That distinct “Chicago” in black script lettering across the chest with sliver and white outline. The white socks on black logo on the sleeves.

What’s really the wonder here is that the man was also wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. Yes, a Red Sox hat – navy blue hat with the distinctive “B” in its auld glory script.

What on Earth? WTF?

The rest of him was a fairly standard blue collar guy uniform. The basic light blue jeans. Loose fitting in a standard wash and there was a handkerchief dangling from his left pocket.. The white Nike sneakers with enough off-white to suggest a decent amount of wear. A digital watch in a stainless steel casing with a black rubber strap – probably a Timex or Casio.

The glasses on his face were a pedestrian rectangular style metal frame. A goatee on his face to highlight his masculinity while not wearing any jewelry of any sort. He was carrying a small black drawstring nylon bag.

One last thing, a lanyard with I (Heart) New York printed on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cuts like a Knife

Man 7/16/09

What hurts isn’t when you see someone dressed in a wild inappropriate manner, or when they are showing too much skin, or when they just plain can’t match, or they are just too damn weird.

No, what hurts is when said subject dresses not quite up to snuff but you can tell that they are trying. They are really trying to be fashionable or presentable and it’s just not happening.

The man was really a kid. Probably right out if not still in college. His baby face gave his youth away. His clean-cut looks were aided by the close cropped hair and the lack of any facial hair.

For starter’s he was wearing black dress slacks that were double-pleated. Apologies to the sartorial gods for not intervening immediately, for the rules clearly state that if you are born past 1980 you are not allowed to wear pleated pants period. You are not allowed to wear pleated pants. Plus, his pants were not only cuffed but they ended at the top of his feet. Too short, two pleated.

On top of those pants? A pastel lime-green short sleeve button front shirt. And paired with that day-glo shirt was a bright yellow wide tie with an equally fat knot. No, he wasn’t dressed as if at a masquerade ball, he was dressed like he was on his way to a desk job or an interview.

The black loafers on his feet were polished and the dark dress socks were not going to be out of place in a standard Herman Miller cubicle. He was carrying a brown leather messenger bag on his right shoulder. It was a fairly worn light brown bag with the standard bronze hardware though his seemed to be crammed full – of what it wasn’t readily obvious.

To complete his look, gold rectangle rimmed glasses and the gold link watch on his left wrist, plus keys dangling from one of his belt loops.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Do the Right Thing

Woman 7/2/09

Sometimes the world sends you a signal that says, “Hey! You! Yeah, you! Pay attention for there is much that you don’t know and paths will cross.”

And it was this morning where that sign appeared though it was little more than a wink and a wry smile.

In case some have missed it, and most have. It was the 20th anniversary of the release of the seminal Spike Lee movie, “Do the Right Thing”. 20 years ago when Public Enemy seared through the ears of the wayward youth, Rosie Perez turned boys into men and Ghetto-blaster entered the nation’s vocabulary. So, this very morning, if this wasn’t a sign, then perhaps it was just coincidence.

Have you ever seen a tote bag that resembled the large Ghetto-blaster that Radio Raheem was carrying around the entire movie? This one was black and on the front was a print of a very large, loud and colorful stereo or Ghetto-blaster. It was an exact reproduction on canvas from the knobs and switches right down to the red, yellow and green colors on the equalizer. Of course this being 1989, there was no CD player, just one large mouth of a cassette tape, plus two large speakers that anchored each side. And funny enough, the side panels of this tote bag had AV input and outputs in the standard red and yellow.

So, what sort of person carries this tote bag?

She, yes a she. I’d say mid-thirties to early forties if I had to guess. Her hair was short, curly and purple. Yes, purple. But the dye job might have gone a little awry as the hair was black in the lower back portion of her head. Or perhaps she had only wanted a crown of purple and liked the black below her eyeline.

Black was the predominant color of choice for her. A black sleeveless tank top – cotton crewneck. A black knit skirt that ended at the knee with a slight flare. Not chunky but honestly looked homemade. And the shoes? Black. Black Converse Chuck Taylor lowcuts. No socks though, this was summer after all.

For all the juxtaposition of her old school radio tote bag. She was actually wearing these black wireless headphones. The oval panel connecting each ear bud was had a Motorola logo which was lit up in blue to signal the use of Bluetooth. And when she pulled out her iPod Touch, you could see the adaptor plugged into the player.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I've Got You Under My Skin

Woman 6/29/09

Summer means skin. Well, it also means sheer. And what perplexes are the New Yorkers who insist on riding the subways wearing sheer outfits that barely conceal the swimwear they have on underneath. If you’re already showing plenty of skin, must you wear and outfit that reveals even as it covers?

You couldn’t help but notice. If sitting across from you is a woman whose pink bikini top is clearly visible underneath her barely there tee. Well, it’s not a skimpy tee. It’s actually a white tee that has a day-glo peace sign with paint drips to suggest an LSD mind melt of colors. This peace tee covers her well enough but it’s so worn it’s essentially sheer. So, while looking at the LSD Day-glo peace sign, one can’t help but also notice that you are staring right at her pink bikini top. Right through that peace sign.

There’s no doubt she’s preparing for a day at the beach or perhaps by a pool. Or being a New Yorker, it could just be a trip to the park to lay out. She was wearing sandals that had white straps across the front and back of the foot. One particular strap across the front of the foot had the word Camelot printed on. The sandals had a tan sole and footbed.

Her shorts were not of the bohemian kind one would expect. They were in fact quite tailored, with buttons on the side hems as well as a button on a rear pocket. The shorts were a white and purple plaid fabric – giving it a more sophisticated look. Still they were short and ended at her upper thigh.

With her was this large green tyvek tote bag. There was an equally large Steve Madden logo on the side printed in white.

She reminded me of the wispy girls one sees on America’s Next Top Model. Tall, skinny and pale. A noticeable mole above the left side of her upper lip. Her brunette hair was long but tied up into a ponytail that was then folded back over making it look like a short stump on the back of her head.

And since she was in the outdoor state of mind, her sunglasses were already on her face. They were a purple resin frame - in an oversize exaggerated retro-aviator style popularized by Tom Ford. Frankly, the Barney the Dinosaur purple made those glasses more fun and interesting.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stars and Stripes Forever

Woman 7/1/09

It’s a fairly common in NYC to spot genuine or faux genuine military clothing appropriated as fashionable attire. However this statement generally applies only to men, and it’s really rare to see a woman build her wardrobe around something from Army surplus.

Military field jacket. Or what may also be referred to as a Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) Coat. This was the standard issue BDU Coat made of sturdy cotton and in a green and black camouflage print. The large jacket was too large for her small frame and drooped over her shoulders. The stripes on each arm were Sergeant’s stripes, but with the extra stripes on the bottom, they were definitely of a First or Staff Sergeant rank. What I couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out is if the stripes were current or from a certain era in military history.

What I do know is that the star in the middle of the stripes indicated US Air Force. Of course, so did the patch on the left breast of the jacket. On the right side was the name patch – Benton. There were two other smaller patches, one under each name patch, but it was tough to make out the design from a distance.

So, how does a woman complement her BDU coat?

Well, underneath the jacket is a blue cotton crew neck tee. I’d say it was a Thomas the Tank Engine blue. She was also wearing a basic black knee-length skirt – a cotton poly blend by the looks of it.

She also had on knee length argyle socks. Brown and grey argyle which were just visible above the top of her Wellingtons. Well, Chooka rainboots to be exact. The same Wellingtons that I had described in my earlier post. She was the owner of those much admired shoes.

Her handbag was a medium sized, white canvas with a black tribal or ethnic print. But with these green-yellow bordered black racing stripes going around the bag from center front. The leather straps were black with gold hardware. And there was one front pocket with a zipper.

She was reading a hardcover copy of “Wish I Could Be There “ by Allen Shawn.

In one of the few instance when she looked up from her book, you could just make out the lip piercing. A silver stud centrally positioned under her lower lip.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Rainin' Wellies!

On a miserable wet, wetter, wettest day like today one has to either write it off or look for the silver lining. I was prepared to write it off, and lo and behold, it brought something completely new to my attention.


New York women and their Wellingtons. The surprise? That there are just as many styles of Wellies as there are women wearing them. Here’ s a quick glance.

Multicolor clouds – grey with colored circles resembling clouds.

Penguin - attached eyes staring up at the owner, with orange and black body. Orange handles on sides.

Mustard yellow with two inch black heels. Riding boot style;

Dark green with multi color polka dots

Navy with thin horizontal nautical stripes and buckle on side.

Black with white polka dots of varying sizes. Interior lining was hot pink.

Black with brown Michael Kors MK logo print. Gold buckle on side.

Burberry. She's Korean. It was the Burberry check.

Red with little black penguin silhouettes scattered about.

Carolina blue with matching tote bag.

White black and brown argyle, reaching the lower calf.

Large gingham check. Black grey and white. Worn with holes on left front left and right front right. Black buckle on side.

Most Fashionable?
Burberry deconstructed check. With black sole and black rim. Not Korean, definitely fashionista.

Chooka brand. Black. Rose in horseshoe illustration on the side, same illustration repeated on the front but with word “Lucky” underneath. A pair of peace doves on the side. On the front, a skull and bones motif. And twin red hearts – one with a banner that ‘Rock”, and the other with “Roll”. Black buckle on the side.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Calling all 25 regular readers

Your patience and unending compassion (and abject pity) has been rewarded.

Please don't fall in love with and move on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cool Hand Leia

Woman 6/3/09

Another great plus about the warm weather is the ability to see someone’s personality in totality. The cool mornings require layering but the imminent warm-up necessitates that certain warm weather fundamentals stay in place.

Not that there wasn’t much color on her, which was mostly the case, but rather it was the way the turquoise stood out. Turquoise nail color on her fingers and toes. Quite a nice hit of color on an otherwise mostly monochromatic outfit.

Monochromatic mostly. But cool, most certainly.

She had on this short cropped leather jacket in a light color – almost a light sand. The leather seemed quite worn, almost reminding one of a vintage find. The sleeves ended at the wrist and were zippered like a biker’s. It really was hard to tell if this motorcycle inspired jacket was deliberately designed to be worn small, look vintage, and feel biker-ish. Given the color of the leather, it’d be a safe bet to say that this was some designer’s take on the typical biker’s jacket.

Her dress was a modern take on the sack dress. A deep tan color with a ribbed top and bottom. Hitting her just above her knees. On her feet were updated Roman sandals that featured snakeskin straps. One got the sense that she had an eye for the non-traditional updated with a modern touch.

On her neck was this pendant that was a gold setting featuring a clear matte crystal stone. Not sure what to make of the color. There was another stone on her left ring finger – probably an engagement ring. The stone itself was modest, no more than 1.5 ct, but the band had some interesting etchings that were almost ornate giving it an antique look. On her wrist was a gold watch. Actually, a men’s gold watch with a round black face and gold link strap.

It was raining that morning and her blonde hair was still slightly wet from the rain, straight and resting on her shoulders. She wasn’t wearing very much makeup – just a touch of blush and pale red lipstick.

Her tote was this canary yellow canvas bag that came with leather straps and a zip at the opening.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lay Down Athena

Woman 6/2/09

Warmer weather brings out the most interesting of styles. Funky, flirty, quirky, colorful, boring and even the skin-baring dressers are let loose from their winter shackles. Although this woman was the first for this early summer season – athletic gear as style. No, she was not going to the gym or on her way back from the gym. She was clearly dressed in athletic gear that communicated her style sensibility.

Let’s start with the basics. Sneakers. White canvas by Adidas with white laces and a black sole. Too clean and pristine to be workout sneakers. And she matched them with your basic white athletic ankle socks.

She was wearing a pair of basketball shorts. The black mesh knee-length ones that are now part of everyday ballin’ gear. The logo said Eastpak.

The last bit of her athletic garb? A hoodie. This white sleeveless hoodie with white zippers and drawstrings. She had it over her head which barely concealed her head-wrap. Now, the head-wrap is sometimes labeled as a doo-rag, but this was clearly more stylish than functional. It was indeed a head-wrap by every definition. The best part? The head-wrap was a camouflage print. That’s right, a camo print head-wrap. Needless to say, no hair was visible underneath all that fabric.

Another fashion statement besides the camo head-wrap? The printed tee. She had on this black v-neck tee that had a tan print of an eagle. Not a picture but more an eagle illustration done with an almost spray paint graffiti-like stencil treatment. In another medium, it could be hanging on the wall of Ted Nugent’s basement man-cave. This eagle stretched from the front of the tee all the way around to the back, and touching on the left sleeve slightly.

The dead giveaway that she was dressing to impress? Her jewelry. She was wearing this small gold crucifix hanging on a simple gold chain, though the crucifix did look like it had a little more ornate-ness to it than easily observed from afar. The ear lobes had two matching gold square studs. Her right wrist had a simple gold bracelet. Yes, gold was the theme of the day.

Then why was she wearing this silver ring on her left hand? It was on her index finger – a thick band with some sort of pattern etched in and a red ruby sitting in the middle.

The most curious thing? She was carrying this small black plastic bag that you get at any corner deli or bodega. Not quite sure what that held inside.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sister Christian

Woman 5/29/09

Old. Old and wrinkled. Old, wrinkled and small. Old, wrinkled, small and very nun-like. Her serene face and drab clothing reminded one of Mother Theresa or at least what a lay person’s distant memory of Mother Theresa would yield in the Brooklyn portion of a ride in the MTA subway.

Her hair was mostly grey with patches of light brown that hinted of a different color long since past. The hair was also thinning and her hairline receding. As such, the short pixie-style bob that was her hairstyle probably the best solution to maintaining a veneer of style given the scarce resources.

Her face was an amalgamation of wrinkles. On her forehead, around her mouth and leading to her neck. Her eyes were very deep set with dark circles that were really more red than they were just dark – serving to highlight her eye bags in a manner that suggested a medical issue. She had no eyebrows and age spots dominated an otherwise blemish free complexion.

The thin hair revealed a pair of rather large ears – relatively speaking. And the neck was typical for a woman of her years. More cruel people would commence with the joking not realizing that we all befall the same fate eventually.

Her nun-wear?

It was a black v-neck cardigan. But surprisingly stylish when one got a closer look at the details – there was a white trim on the lapels, the two outside pockets and on the bottom of the jacket. Plus, the cardigan had these gold buttons which made for an interesting contrast of colors and textures.

She was wearing a basic shirt buttoned to the collar, but the print was a black and white print that suggested a more post-modern artistic approach. Think of a cross between Pollock and Mondrian.

The rest of her ensemble was basic black. Black ankle length skirt. Black walking shoes. Black leather handbag.

The one little other spot of color? Hosiery that was obviously maroon.

Thinking back now, I didn’t get a chance to look for a crucifix. Or did I miss that?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guest Post

Here's my first guest post by a dear friend - let's call her TubaRocks. Enjoy!


I saw the most AWESOME shirt on the subway this morning. Wish you were there to describe it, but since you weren't, I'll do my best:

She was a Chinatown grandma: black slacks, beige orthopedic sneakers, blue nylon Le Sportsac knock-off with a safety pin for a zipper pull. Blah blah, whatever...

THE SHIRT: navy blue cotton button down with an all-over illustrated pattern in mostly beiges, green and red. The colors were not garish. on closer inspection, I realized the pattern was water-color-esque vignettes of a bar patronized by male cats wearing fedoras. The bartender was a female cat in a slinky red dress, heels, and fishnets. In one of the vignettes she's walking up a flight of stairs, followed by one of the fellows. In another she's in front of the bar feeding a puppy.

Too good to be true! Cats, hookers, hooker cats!

Anyway, it was all pretty thrilling.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brothers in Arms

Woman 5/28/09

The rain always brings out the Wellingtons. Hers were by Tretorn, red not glossy but matte and reaching only to her lower calf not towering to her knees. They seemed to be slightly oversized given her slender frame; there was too much room in the opening though it could have been from her slim legs.

She had on these gun-metal gray leggings as well. With a slight pattern but mostly imperceptible from a distance.

Given the rain today, the trench was an easy choice. Hers was again slightly different. It was your typical tan single-breasted trench coat, but from about the chest level down, the coat flared out – making it look like a pleated trench dress. The bottom of the coat ended slightly above her knees and the red skirt she had on went two inches past. Almost like two skirts layered over each other.

The trench was buttoned fully, but above the neckline was her crisp white shirt. A thin pencil stripe with the collar buttoned up – more preppy than bohemian. On her face were these resin rectangular frame glasses – black on the front, brown on the side and yellow inside.

Her handbag was a faded black canvas which on first look had a print that resembled a Keith Haring graphic. Once you noticed the Brooklyn Industries round logo patch on the bottom corner though, it became obvious that the print were the letters that spelled out Brooklyn Industries done in a very Keith Haring-like style. A trace of red on the zipper and around the logo added to an otherwise black and grey color scheme.

The rain had made her dirty blonde hair slick and wet, giving her a just-out-of-shower look. And perhaps the two bungee bands (one auburn, one bronze) on her right wrist were for pulling her hair back in a ponytail when dry.

Halfway into the subway ride, I looked over and saw her with a black little notebook open on her lap. She was sketching. With her artist’s pen, she was sketching faces onto the pages. It was hard to tell if they were from memory or directly based on the people in the subway.

I think in her own way, she was chronicling the people around her. Much like I was her.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Freckles de Jour

Woman 5/26/09

Freckles. Lots of them. Lots of them but limited to a specific area. At least to the public eye. It was limited to just her face. And even then, it was just a wide swath across the middles of her face, from cheek to cheek. Not the forehead, not too many below the lip line. They were dark brown, set off against the sun-kissed bronze of her tan. The freckles looked like tiny flower petals that had blown off the tree and settled on her face in a random pattern.

The tan itself was another matter. Even. Not too dark, not too light. Perhaps her genetics contributed to the outcome. Nevertheless, having seen people go too orange, red, or even ashen with their tans – one appreciates something as simple as a good tan.

Curiously, she reminded me of Catherine Deneuve in that classic flim, Belle de Jour. Her black hair was just about the same past-shoulder length, and the bangs had been styled back to reveal her forehead (sans freckles) just like the image on the poster.

She had little or no make-up on her, and a pair of small studs on her ears. In keeping with the character, she had on a very conservative cardigan. Crewneck, coffee-colored, and probably a silk-blend suited for the spring and summer season. Her top two buttons were undone, but revealed not much more than her tan.

On her legs were skorts. Yes, skorts. Dark brown, going past the knee slightly and from the distance looked like they were a lightweight wool blend material. On her feet were the Tory Burch ballet flats that have been ubiquitous in NYC since last summer. Hers were black with the gold Tory Burch medallion sitting on the front of the shoe. She did have on flesh-tone thin liner socks. They were sitting above the shoes line and if one was looking closely, quite noticeable.

Her bag was classic French. Louis Vuitton hobo style bag. Large. It had an LV nameplate on the front and center of the bag. And was from the Monogram Canvas line.

It was a lot of brown. It was very reserved and a very classic European look. And the freckles complemented her perfectly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

B-Boy Fashionista

Man 5/19/09

It was the watch that set the whole thing off. Perhaps it was the morning commute but I wasn’t paying much attention to this man initially. But a good glimpse at the watch and it made me look at him in a different light.

It was big and it was very bling. This large round black face, matte black watch with small diamonds in the bezel, diamonds in place of the numerals, and right smack in the middle of the watch face a skull assembled out of diamonds. Mind you, one couldn’t really be certain if the diamonds were real. But paired with the matte black metal link strap and the silver dial. It was one very, very striking watch. Black on black with a diamond skull.

His look was classic B-Boy Fashionista. Any other day and he’d be photographed for The Sartorialist or LookBook or any of the million Japanese fashion sites on the internet.

On his feet were Nike Air Force One high tops. White and pristine. On his head was a black baseball hat with a black New York Yankees logo. He was wearing it backwards with the bill flat and the manufacturer sticker still stuck on. Black and pristine.

The pants were an olive cotton that were extremely tapered and clung to his legs but wide and baggy on his thighs. As if he was wearing some sort of military riding pants. The cuffs were folded over but not revealing any ankles. He also had on a loose deep cut v-neck cotton sweater and a grey v-neck tee underneath. In the neck of the sweater he had placed his glasses, which were a retro Woody Allen-type plastic frame but with a modern twist of a brown colored front and a bright yellow reverse color combination.

There was this enormous black scarf wrapped around his neck and looked almost like he had an extra layer of clothing around his shoulders.

The skull motif repeated itself on his right ear lobe which had a black skull earring stud. The left ear lobe didn’t have a stud, but he did have a loop pierced into the top of his ear.

His hair was long but tucked into the hat. A few wisps appearing in the front, but the tail very visible out of the back. It was black but streaked brown. On his face was a light goatee that really looked like a light mustache and some form of a soul patch. Honestly, he probably couldn’t grown a full beard if his life depended on it.

There was of course the fashionista messenger bag. Well, there is no such thing as a fashionista messenger bag. There is however large men totes or in this case a large bag masquerading as a messenger bag. No flaps, no outer pockets, just one long zipper at the top of the bag. Black leather but a wrinkled leather and to his credit, slightly worn. The shiny silver tab on the side said Marc Jacobs.

As he got up to leave, I caught a glimpse of the label on his pants. Dickies. Does Dickies make pants for fashionistas now?

Friday, May 15, 2009

51 - 49


If there were 100 mistakes, he made 51 and I made 49.

He was Steve Lee. The partner who I started a small business with nine years ago in NYC. We'd met while working together at an ad agency. He was director of design, one of the founding members of the industrial design division of that agency. I was in my first job in NYC and clueless about how things worked in NYC, at the agency, and all things industrial design.

Steve quickly took me under his wing when we started working on a project together for the client I was responsible for. Slowly, meetings morphed into lunch. Lunch morphed into drinks after work, and drinks morphed into dinner. Little by little he became one of my best friends in NYC, and I found myself hanging out with him at his loft on Grand Street.

We were very close. So close that he accompanied me to my then girlfriend's (now wife) college graduation. So close that when an opportunity came for him to branch out on his own, I spent an entire week convincing him how great it would be, and how much cooler it would even be if I was allowed to join him as a partner.

So, there we went - opened our own shop out of his loft. Our own version of the American Dream.

But, it wasn't meant to be. I was too young and Steve needed a person that was more mature, more understanding, more driven, more knowledgeable, and more connected. Steve needed the person that I think I am today. Nine years ago I was just a kid. So we fought. We had some great early success, and looked to be on our way to more, but we fought. We fought constantly. Even in good times. And it made us both miserable.

My favorite memory is when we got our first large check from the client. It was over a quarter million dollars. He was so excited he was going to photocopy the check, and then fax off a copy to his mother and also have it framed. I had never held a check with so many numerals on one line.

It was an ugly breakup. But it was bound to happen. It didn't have to be that ugly, but then again, perhaps there was no choice. I lost one of my closest friends and I learned some valuable lessons.

I never got to tell Steve how much I learned from him, and how much he influenced my life. Or that I never considered him responsible for the breakup. It wasn't entirely my fault, but it wasn't entirely his either. 51 - 49. Let's just say the one extra was the catalyst for the breakup.

This week I found out that Steve is on his last legs, and not expected to beat his illness. His health is failing rapidly and he is not likely to live much longer.

I can't say I'm going to miss Steve- I haven't spoken to him for years.
I can't say that I should reconcile with him. It's pointless and disingenous at best - serves no purpose.
I can't say I'm his friend - we parted rather acrimoniously.

I miss his friendship.

The man deserved to live a long and full life. And I will remember him for the rest of my life.

Months after our parting, I bumped into him on the street. Well, not quite. He didn't see me as I was coming up the stairs of the subway station, and I didn't bother to alert him to my presence. We just walked right by each other like any other strangers in NYC.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tiny Bubbles

Man 5/12/09

Name one item of clothing that is a sure sign of warm weather and brings a smile to your face, but at the same time makes you shudder at the thought of wearing it yourself. And no, it’s not lewd or revealing.

Give up?

The Hawaiian Shirt.

See you smiled already.

There was no denying the full force of this Hawaiian shirt. It wasn’t terribly loud. It wasn’t particularly camp. It was very basic as far as shirts in this category go. The man was wearing it as part of his wardrobe and not in some hipster cynical statement making fashion, but as a middle-aged working class man who genuinely believes in the power of the Hawaiian shirt.

It was cut loose and long. Not oversized but definitely flowing. A base yellow color – light almost a warm and pastel dandelion. The print was classic. Station wagons. Not just any station wagons, but those old pre-war Woodies that had the rounded hoods and sides that were paneled entirely in wood. It was the same Woodie printed randomly all over the shirt. And paired with the station wagons were intermittent appearances of a grey silhouetted palm trees. One could just imagine cruising down the coastal road in an old Woodie, windows down and passing palm trees bordering the beach.

His jeans though were another matter entirely. Not surprisingly they were cut loose and for comfort. The color was a light indigo – almost borderline acid wash. But what really caused consternation was that the back of the jeans were a different material and color altogether. Some sort of weird harlequin style had made it into mainstream denim fashion and this man had deemed it acceptable to pair those jeans with this Hawaiian shirt. The material was some sort of cotton, perhaps twill, in a color that was between light grey and dusty white.

Of course, on his feet were these black leather ankle boots. The kind that European men wear and so beloved by NBA notables such as the ex-Knick Charles Oakley. No laces, just elastic on the sides and a toe that was more square than it was sharp.

That smile on the face? Dragged down by the jeans and kicked out the door by those boots.

Black was the other dominant color on him. Black baseball hat with no logo. Black aviator sunglasses sitting on the bill of the black logoless baseball hat. Black laptop bag sitting on his lap. Even the watch was black. Though it was really more of a black and gold combination. The links of the metal band were equal parts gold and black, though the face itself was black.

The most disappointing was the crewneck undershirt that was visible underneath his splendid shirt. It was a little frayed and slightly yellowed from age. Probably clean but definitely well-worn.

New rule. If you are going to wear a Hawaiian shirt, treat it with some respect and don’t sully it an old undershirt. Or at least make sure its not easily viewed by others. Bad fashion pairings is one thing. But that old undershirt is just plain desecration.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Read into Me

4/30/09 Man

Let’s start at the end.

This is a book that I’m definitely going to buy. I never realized it’s existence, and perhaps I might have even seen someone reading it previously. But without this blog, I most definitely would have never bought the book. I still haven’t but it’s now on my list. Granted, it’s not a given that the book, or even the series is even one to my liking, but the point is that one has to seek out new experiences regardless.

The book?

Istanbul Noir. Apparently, there are a series of noir anthologies published by an independent press that sets each anthology in a different city. The publisher is Akashic Books. And this gentleman on the subway was reading one of their books.

Book aside, he had over his shaggy mane these white over-ear headphones. It’s rare to see white headphones – discounting iPod earphones, and these stood out on the brown hair on his head. The logos on the headphones looked like a “JL”, the mark of WESC. It’s a brand that’s been around for a while, and brand-conscious hipsters know it all too well. Didn’t realize they made music accessories too. Lesson number two. These headphones were not too large, white all over, with a mark on a small button that holds the head adjustments, and on the ear-piece a very noticeable WESC logo.

The shaggy hair was followed by a semi-long shaggy beard. Both brown - a medium grade of that color. No glasses, but very large eyes.

The rest of him was de rigueur hipster:

Black bomber jacket
o Nylon
o Ribbed cuffs
o Looks like a more fashionable re-making of a working class staple

o Black cotton but looks weathered enough to pass for a charcoal grey
o White contrast zipper and hood drawstring to alert you that it came from American Apparel

Eye-popping tee
o Bright mustard yellow tee
o A hint of a hot pink illustration screened on the front

Dark indigo skinny jeans
o Cuffs folded at least 2.5” to reveal a lot of ankle
o Pasty white ankles

Ankle socks
o White athletic standards

Athletic inspired sneakers
o Gola – a somewhat non-mainstream brand favored by those in-the-know
o Blue with white accents

And since it was raining that day, he was carrying a cheap black retractable umbrella.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top o' the Morning

Woman 4/30/09

This you’ve never seen before. Perhaps in that far away land which spawned JRR Tolkien or Austin Powers, but certainly not here – not these continental United States of America. Then again, when one is mainly sequestered at home, perhaps one does not see common things as such.

It was a bowler hat. Black, British, and on the left side of the hat a small side feather that was brown in color. This wasn’t your Andes-style woman bowler hat, this was a true British bowler. Although given it’s lack of pomposity and it’s somewhat diminutive size, I’d say that it as probably a hat originally made for a boy, or even perhaps expressly made for a woman.

And so it was that this woman was wearing a black bowler on this damp dreary day in New York City. Not unlike many days in London I’ve been told. The front of her blonde hair was tucked into the hat though most of her straight hair was visible in the back.

And to add to the Anglo-ness of this woman, she was wearing a long red wool coat. That’s right – Beefeater. The bowler hat and the red coat just screamed BEEFEATER!

Coincidentally, she had on these dark skinny jeans that only accentuated the length of her coat, and the Burberry scarf really just kept on adding to the mix. That scarf had the telltale Burberry check pattern with shades of light blue, brown and pink.

What was really standout about this woman was her glasses. A great pair of resin- frames that were a glittering gold color. Somehow, that glitter brought out the blue in her eyes and just made an indelible impression. Imagine the glasses and those eyes without the distractions of the hat and coat. That platinum blonde hair to that mix could be deadly.

By now, you’ve realized that this woman takes her fashion seriously, though not without putting her own touch and personality into it. Yes, she dressed with a point-of-view.

Under the coat was a oatmeal colored cashmere sweater. The cuffs were ribbed, but folded back a good 4 inches – the short sleeves of her coat revealing that touch. And the sweater was hiding what looked to be a white Oxford shirt.

The legs of the jeans were folded back about 3 inches, and on her feet were these blue hiking socks tucked into a pair of boat shoes. Well, a pair of marina moccasins to be exact. Tan with brown tassels and on the outside of each shoe, a panel of nylon. The soles were clearly white.

Her face, as far as one could tell, was natural without any makeup. Two small gold studs in her ears with small diamonds glittering in the artificial light. Her nails were short and clean, and on the left middle finger was a sliver ring band.

She was carrying a tan canvas tote that resembled something one could purchase at a grocery store as a reusable grocery shopping bag.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

These Boots were made for Walkin’

Woman 4/30/09

First I thought: “Puss-in-Boots”. Then it was “Captain Morgan”, and finally I settled on “The Three Musketeers”. Those boots that she was wearing were nothing like I had ever seen. An 18th century throwback, a Pat Benatar 80’s video, and a hint of the boot revival of this new millennium. Defying description yet begging and clamoring to be immortalized on paper or at least in the blogsphere.

The boots were knee high. The color was a slate grey with dark shades of black. Imagine handling a piece of pristine white paper after you’ve read your morning paper. Crumple the paper with your ink stained hands. Treat it like you were trying to stain it black while ironing permanent lines onto it. That’s what the leather looked like. The boots also had a 2 inch plus fold at the top. That extra layer making it look like a Musketeers replica boot. The heels were short - about an inch high only. There were 7 shiny stainless steel buttons equally spaced vertically on the outside of each boot. Each button was about the size of a quarter. And the toe area of each boot was as pristine white as the rest was dirty black.

The rest of her was actually not like those boots at all.

Her hair was in a ponytail, no bangs, but the ponytail stretched all the way to her lower back. She’s been growing that brown hair for a long time, and at this point, there’s not much one can do with hair that length one suspects.

Her face? No makeup. Basic black framed rectangular glasses.

She was however wearing this short summer dress. It was green with a print of mini-wildflowers. From a distance, they looked like assorted small flowers like daffodils and daisies. The skirt reached to about mid-thigh, and was a very deep cut v-neck. However, in keeping with her modesty, she had on black tights, and a black scoop neck tee. So, really she’d layered what was a very short and revealing summer dress over a black tee and leggings. And if that wasn’t conservative enough, she also had on a black cotton hoodie – though that might have been on account of the cool morning weather.

Perhaps she’s one of those woman who are a closet extravert. About 6 drinks in, and she turns into this flirty and aggressive woman who wears those boots precisely because of the attitude they convey. Everyone has one of those friends. The drinking alter ego that emerges as the gregarious Hyde to their original meek Jekyll.

It is Thursday. Perhaps we’ll see Ms. Hyde out tonight.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Young Ones

Girl 4/22/09

Iron Fist. That was the name on the hoodie with the all-over print. That hoodie print was repeats of this cartoon-like alien head, all done in multiple colors and haphazardly arranged. The head reminded me of the old Area 51 Martians that we used to see in old comic books. All those pink, green, blue and yellow heads. The zipper pull was that same alien head in blue. The reverse side of the hood was black, as were the ribbed cuffs. The hoodie looked a slightly too large on her. A stark contrast to the jet black skinny jeans she was wearing.

That hoodie was easily the loudest piece of clothing on this young girl. But by no means the last. Her shoes were in the mold of canvas Chuck Taylors, but with a twist that matched her hoodie. From the front, the shoes were a standard black canvas high-top. The long tongue was flipped over to reveal a reverse that was a bright neon pink. The back and the near-rear sides of the shoes were decorated with a print that looked like someone threw up hot neon colored noodles and other assorted mostly digested food items.

Her black JanSport backpack had matte black stars printed all over. And the left shoulder strap had her name written in block letters running vertically from top to bottom. She also had her name on the front of the pack, right under the JanSport logo.

She was carrying her black down bomber. Short and white a hood that was trimmed in faux grey fur. There was a print on the jacket, but indistinguishable the way that the jacket was placed on her lap.

For all the color and attitude her clothing was saying to the world. The rest of her was really quite plain. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail that was full of curls. The bangs barely covered her forehead. There was no trace of makeup, no earrings (though the holes were there), and no accessories of any kind. Heck, she didn’t even have an iPod. And she had on a pair of basic black rectangular framed glasses.

Halfway through the ride, she pulled out a day-planner, and proceeded to look her calendar over and made some entries with a pen.

Could this girl who dressed in a hoodie made by an obscure South African street brand be the same plain girl using an old fashioned day-planner?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Shape of Things

Woman 4/22/09

Honesty is the best policy. And to be completely honest, I noticed this woman because of the shape of her body. She walked past me, and from the rear she had this great silhouette. The shoulders were broad but just so, and totally in proportion to the rest of her lean physique.

Perhaps it was an optical illusion brought on by her long cardigan. She was wearing this heather grey full-length cardigan that stretched down to her hips. That cashmere-like fabric hugged her frame and gave the already lean 5’7” woman even more length. Add the jeans that showed off her slim legs and you could see why that shape caught the eye.

Curiously, she wasn’t much of a fashion statement with the clothes she had on. The v-neck cardigan covered up most of her inner layers, but you could just see the scoop-neck lace top she was wearing. The shoes were just basic Nike runners in white. It was really that one grey cardigan that made the outfit.

What was interesting about her were the accessories she was carrying. Her handbag was this small duffle-style bag that was a faux-forest camouflage print. You’d find a similar print at Cabela’s or even Bass Pro Shops. Her small retractable umbrella was this faux-animal stripe print. Reminded me of a dress from DVF I once saw. And just when you think there was some ultra-trendy woman hiding under her J.Crew outfit, she was also carrying this cheap corner grocery store plastic shopping bag, which was holding what seemed to be plastic food containers. Threw everything for a loop.

She looked like she could be the younger sister of Cecilia Dean. Hair pulled back in a ponytail, no make-up, but a certain kind of aura about her.

A pair of black over-ear headphones sitting over her pulled back hair. A rounded rectangular shape that had a ring of silver inside, like a track around a stadium. It was a pleasant surprise when the small words, SONY, discreetly showed up on the frame. The black cord was attached to a small black remote control unit that she had clipped onto her cardigan.

My guess would be that this woman was either very active in terms of leisure physical activity – perhaps a regular swimmer, with a previous competitive background, or that she was in a profession that required her to stay in shape. Dancer? Trainer?

She pulled out a small Japanese book from her bag, swapping that with her umbrella. She never did the book though. A quick glance, and then she closed her eyes.

Last I saw, she had her right hand propping up her head, and her elbow on her knee. Must have been really tired.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Man 4/16

There is an old story about Beethoven that he always deliberately placed a wrong note in everything he composed, because nothing was ever supposed to be perfect. Not sure where I heard it told, but it rings true enough for me.

This man was perfectly attired. He looked like he could have been the younger brother of Michael Caine – circa The Ipcress Files. Anyone who knows men’s fashion knows that Michael Caine movie and its widespread influence.

Let’s start with the Burberry raincoat. After all, if you’re channeling Michael Caine and dressing like a closet British dandy, you have to start with the classics. Black raincoat with the telltale Burberry check lining for everyone to see.

Next up, the suit, shirt and tie. The suit was a charcoal grey window-pane check that was made up of the subtlest of blue lines. It was a standard issue two button and finished with cuffs on the pants. The shirt was light blue but betrayed a barely detectable check pattern upon a closer look. No French cuffs though – thank god. And his tie was the modern take on the GOP power tie. It was thin maroon and lavender stripes on a standard width but the fabric was a silk sheen. Immaculate knot, of course and everything buttoned-up.

So, where’s the closet dandy come from? Good question. His socks. I love interesting socks that make sense, not for the sake of being shocking, but just compliment the look. His were a grey with these dark block patterns – almost Mondrian inspired, except one of the blocks was this bold purple.

The shoes were a standard good black leather split-toe lace-ups. Well cared for, and expensive I’m sure.

The Michael Caine part? Oh yes. Well, picture Michael Caine from that movie. Now, crop the hair shorter and perhaps slightly receding. Color everything white, grey and a sprinkle of black. Add a well trimmed goatee. The glasses here would be modern and more architectural. Rectangular, a composite metal frame, and the arms have die-cut blocks to suggest a modernist influence.

So, what’s the immaculately dressed man carrying? Interestingly enough, a messenger bag from Porter. A black canvas messenger bag that has two large pockets in the front panel. A shoulder strap and two carrying handles. Well, we know he has good taste, and we know he has money to spend. Porter is a little left field. Maybe it’s his way of saying that he’s more hip that his attire lets on.

For the entire ride our man was reading from his Kindle 2. I’m not sure that the leather cover was the standard issue Amazon version. It just didn’t seem to be his style.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Observe without prejudice

Man 4/15/09

It could have been the magazine article I was reading about the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Or the Muslim man with the skull cap a few rows over in the train. But it occurred to me that sitting directly across from me was a man who could have easily worked on a Hollywood film as a clichéd American version of the secret sleeper cell terrorist. The one that blends in though not quite blending in because obviously he has something to hide.

He was actually sleeping. Not the usual homeless man huddled into the corner sleeping. His head was drooped down, occasionally bobbing, his shoulders were slumped over and his legs slightly more open that usual.

His head was crowned with a thick mane of hair. Wavy, not quite curly, but black and plentiful. It was long enough to appear unkempt and unstyled, much like the full beard on his face. His thick eyebrows and dark circles under the eyes did nothing for his perceived state of well-being. Add the few pockmarks on his cheeks and the occasional pimple dotting his forehead, and this picture of a tired young man with too many burdens starts to appear easily.

For a Hollywood movie cliché, he certainly dressed the part as well. The jacket was this olive green with military inspired touches. Though it was really more of a field or hunter’s jacket in origin. It was made from a thin corduroy fabric, and had two small snap-flap patch pockets on the chest, and two larger similar ones lower down. The shoulder epaulets weren’t functional and neither were the tabs near the cuffs, though those did have two small metal rivets on them. The brass zipper went all the up to the stand collar where there was a zipper that hid the stowaway hood.

Adding to the look. He had on a grey chunky wool sweater. It was actually a full-zip turtleneck, and since he had it zipped up most of the way, the large collar almost covered his entire neck and made the collar of his jacket seem small in comparison.

His thin brown corduroy pants matched the brown leather athletic-inspired sneakers he was wearing - my guess; Skechers.

He did have a simple gold wedding band on his ring finger, but nothing else really.

Given that it was rush-hour on the subway. The man was sleeping, disheveled and traveling without a messenger bag or backpack, I could see the NYPD doing some racial profiling and keeping a closer eye on him. That would be sad but true. Though if they did watch him, they’d know that he was a little too stylized to be a real threat to anyone.

After all, if you’re wearing a jacket that looks like it could have been a knock-off of a Ralph Lauren or Belstaff jacket, you probably are just a cliché and nothing more.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sha La La La La!

Woman 3/24

Parents generally dress their young children in bright colors and all sorts of cute clothing. So, it’s not really interesting to document toddlers or kids since in their own colorful way they all dress the same.

In NYC, the strollers are either McClaren, Bugaboo or for the even more discerning Phil & Teds. Every so often, you get a Baby Bjorn. If you wander or pass the more Chinese areas, you get the grandmas who use makeshift wraps to bundle the baby to their backs. What you don’t see very often is a baby in a sling.

It was a fleece sling. Red fleece strapped from the left shoulder and around her right waist. You could just make out a small head resting on her left breast and her right hand was gentling patting the baby’s butt. You could also see that the baby was wrapped in a banana yellow waffle blanket. On the baby’s head was a white cotton beanie with an illustrated animals print.

Given the size of the sling and the small size of the head. The baby couldn’t have been more than 8 – 12 weeks old, if at that.

The mom herself was wearing in a green knit hat. Chunky wool with a short visor. Her winter coat was a long black down jacket with a purple lining and a detachable hood. With the baby across her body, and the jacket zipped up, there wasn’t much else to observe of her upper half.

Underneath her winter clothing, she was dressed for comfort. Light grey sweat pants that featured a two-colored triple stripe of navy and white running down the side. A bleach spot on the bottom of the outside of her left leg cuff was also quite prominent. The shoes were Asics sneakers. Blue and gold logo stripes. Basic, functional and comfortable.

She had with her this large blue tote bag. The logo on the bag? NCURA which stands for National Council of University Research Administrators. The seal said “50th Anniversary Meeting. Celebrating the Science. Supporting the Scientist.”

In that tote bag, she pulled out a green polka-dot purse, apparently to reach the banana wedged underneath inside the tote. And with the purse safely back in the tote, she proceed to peel and eat the banana.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Yorker State of Mind

Woman 4/2/09

It seems to be impossible for a true New Yorker not be aware of fashion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fashionista, a hipster, a b-boy, a homeboy, punk, a rocker, suit or construction worker. Everyone has that unique style marker that places them as New Yorkers.

Whenever I see someone wearing something patently mid-western or suburban, the automatic assumption is that they are tourists or visiting from out of town. New Yorkers might wear sweatpants, but they don’t rock Fruit of the Loom discount specials.

She couldn’t have been a New Yorker. I still don’t believe it. But when you’re reading a tattered paperback copy of The Blair Reader in the subway, you’re a New Yorker. Hate to say it, but show me another city where this college writing handbook is leisure reading for a mass transit rider who is in her mid to late forties. Yes, it has to be in mass transit, not a college campus.

So, you know she was wearing sweats. All 200 plus pounds of her jammed into these off-white pants made out of cotton. With all the unsightly bulges and human flesh pressing against that fabric, even I felt suffocated. There was a stain on the left knee area, and possibly more elsewhere.

Her black Crocs matched her black athletic socks. People are already shuddering and it’s only halfway through this description.

Continuing on this journey, she was wearing a lavender jacket. Nothing fancy, a plain LL Bean jacket that had a fleece lining and two side pockets. LL Bean calls it their Warm-up jacket, and the logo is on the zipper-pull. Underneath she had a wool cardigan, possibly a vest, but either way in an oatmeal color and unbuttoned. And her base-layer was a ribbed mock turtleneck in red.

Besides the book, it slowly dawned on me that she must be a New Yorker because her accessories were too gauche to be anything but. A silver necklace hung around her nexk, with a pendant that looked to be the size of a Metrocard. That pendant looked like a small amber colored stained glass window hanging on her neck. On her right hand, was a big silver bangle. Her engagement ring finger had another big chunky silver ring. Her watch on the left hand was a large ladies model – silver with white face.

The hair on her looked like William Katt from my favorite TV series (of all time), The Greatest American Hero. And somehow she had done her own version of the smoky-eyes look. There was a slight trace of hair on her upper lip, and a prominent flesh-colored mole on the right side of her chin. She also had on black framed glasses.

The handbag, at first glance, looked worn, but in fact was a brown with gold rubbings that made it appear faded. The faux crocodile skin pattern made it somewhat interesting. And the fact that her companion bag was this Sierra Club logo-ed black gym bag just added to the confusion.

So what do we have here? A New Yorker? Has to be. Too many clues for her not to be. She’s one fashion challenged New Yorker though. Guess rules are meant to be broken, just like the mould.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Veteran Hipster

Woman 3/26/09

You’re a woman. Probably in your early forties, though mid-forties is not entirely out of the question. And you’ve dressed this way since you were probably in your teens, or maybe twenties. You’re the veteran hipster. You never graduated to a high-level corporate job, certainly didn’t get married and have children, and still attending concerts and dinner parties in the far outposts of the city.

What do you wear?

Well, if you’re the veteran female hipster, in winter, you start with the coat. A vintage number, red with a sort of black stencil print that almost looks like embroidered paisley. That abstract pattern complements the frayed edges that lines the entire coat. Plus, the two side pockets share the same frayed edging on the top opening. To add to the hipster-ness of the coat, each of the three coat buttons are made of a different material, though same size and shape.

Your shoes would be the next most important item of clothing. These would be suede. An orange suede. A faded and dirty orange color on boots that run to midcalf; each with a buckle and strap across the lower front.

The rest of your outfit?

Well, you’d never be a stickler for matching, so you’d be wearing one of your favorite black dresses. Only this one features an allover mini-polka dot print. The stockings would be black fishnet, and the scarf a basic purple. Not exactly clashing, but just enough to suggest your continued bohemian lifestyle.

Your accessories?

Well, if its raining. You’ll probably have a small compact umbrella tucked into your coat pocket. Red of course, the umbrella would be. You wouldn’t be carrying a run of the mill handbag. And because you’re on your way to a party, you’d be carrying clutch instead. A large dark aquamarine clutch that has a triangular top flap. Leather, but definitely not luxury designer unless it was vintage.

Your earrings wouldn’t be run of the mill either. They’d be large hoops – silver, but with ornamental extras attached and dangling in the center of the hoops. I’d guess it was an ethnic design, maybe Native American given the Dreamcatcher resemblance, but could as easily be South Indian or Central American. You’d be wearing at least one ring. A large amber stone set in silver. But on your right index finger lest someone pre-judges you.

Your outfit aside?

The hair is red. Well, dyed red but the black roots would be visible. It’s shoulder length of course since you’ve had it this way for at least 2 decades. No bangs but wavy on the bottom, almost curly there. You’re not cutting your hair short for anyone just yet.

The make-up would be precise. Red lipstick – standard. Eyeliner that is a glittering silver, typically found on younger women, though not a problem for you. Long black lashes – check. And blush. Don’t forget the blush.

The nails? A British racing green. Because if they can’t tell already, you like darker shades of green.

Some finishing touches?

A flower tattoo on your right wrist. Something you got a while back since it’s slightly faded and in need of touch up one of these years.

The last thing?

A Chinese silk embroidery covered mirror. Not the lipstick case, just the mirror. Reinforces your street credibility.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Super Fan


It’s rare to see a woman Super Fan in New York. They exist, but by and large its really just men who are decked out in their team’s apparel. What’s even more rare then is the female Super Fan who supports a team not from New York. That’s right, in this city where they love their teams, there are Super Fans who proudly show their loyalty - New York public condemnation be damned.

She had on a Pittsburgh Steelers canvas varsity jacket. Big bold Steelers logo embroidered on the back sitting on a black background. On the front left, another embroidery of the Steelers logo with the words “Super Bowl” above and “Champions” below the logo. On the front right, roman numerals indicating the Super Bowls won - starting from bottom, IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL, three rows in all.

The sleeves are a bright Pittsburgh Steeler yellow with the actual Super Bowl logo patches sewn on. The left sleeve had the logos of Super Bowls XIII, XV and XL, while the right had IX and X. The cuffs, waist and collar were done in a yellow and black striped rib-knit.

A football fan would know that Pittsburgh just won their sixth Super Bowl, and that this fan’s jacket was at least almost 3 years old given that Super Bowl XL took place in 2006. Nevertheless, this Super Fan wore hers proudly.

The rest of her was pretty working class, straight out of Roseanne I’d say. Faded black jeans, a black cotton hoodie, a white oxford shirt and a crew-neck white cotton tee. White Avia sneakers. Which really means that she dressed like a man living in blue collar Pittsburgh.

She was a short petite natural blonde with her hair tied back in a ponytail. No make-up and no nail polish. Though she did have on these basic round-ish glasses.

There were three things about her that I’m still not quite sure about:

1. Earrings. She had these silver earrings that looked like they were tusks coming out of the lobe, almost but not quite connecting on the bottom. Something I am sure I had seen before on countless goth or punk kids roaming NYC.
2. Messenger bag. It was black leather. The top flap had a white heraldic cross (that stylized medieval cross), and silver square studs around the edges. It was like a biker version of a messenger bag, only you could probably buy it at Wilson’s.
3. Lord of the Rings. She was reading a paperback copy of LOTR, The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a fairly recent copy since the cover referenced the movie.

NFL team varsity jacket and the blue-collar outfit made sense together. The earrings, messenger bag and the Tolkien book. What was a simple chicken noodle soup just became a chicken gumbo.

I miss the chicken gumbo served up by Morry’s Deli in the south side of Chicago.