Tuesday, March 24

Anderson Cooper goes to Mexico

The most sexually ambiguous silver fox on the planet!Anderson Cooper is going on live from the Mexican border, tomorrow and Thursday on CNN, to cover the very serious Mexican drug cartel problems (think classic Colombian: drugs, firearms, sexual assault, murder beheading style, bla bla bla) that are rapidly bleeding into American soil. Whomever said the Mexicans are not enterprising people clearly have not been watching the news, thought they are a doing things a little passé. Who knew selling drugs was still on trend.

Anyway, I thought it would be nice to send some good mojo Mr. AC360°'s way since who knows what the drug lords over at the border have planned for him. Anderson Cooper is probably (more like definitely) the most blueblood of all American reporters and is worth a healthy sum of family trust fund/inheritance.

Nothing makes Italian leather look more lived in than Iraqi sand and Mexican mud. Let's hope he comes back with his Prada boots all intact.

Monday, March 23

Colbert up in space

Breaking news! Looks like Stephen Colbert's appeal to his "nation" to get his name in a new NASA space station room has worked. He was so popular; he beat out the next competitor by tens and thousands of votes. I'm sure he will be announcing this news on his show tonight at 2330 EDT. More updates to see if the decision will be final.

(Mental) Recession leads to Forever 21

The last few days have been extremely emotional and uncertain for me, mentally. I cannot begin to explain this newfound stress that has taken over ever waking moment that I have with regards to so many aspects of my life now. I know I am too young for this (hogwash) but since I have always believed that I am an old soul trapped in the body of a young adult, I shall continue trooping on. These days, words of encouragement do not even sound realistic anymore.

I've been asking Jesus for favours but he does have a long line of people to get to before it is my turn. I have a deadline, godamnit! Yes, apparently swearing and using the Lord's name in vain will push me to the back of the line even quicker. I've never had the need to be considered a good Christian (to the folks upstairs) until now.

One of the harder aspects of the recession is the immediate lifestyle change that must be adapted to in order to preserve monetary reserves. For one, I can no longer buy many types of products and services I have grown accustomed to and the worse part is that absolute, defeating feeling when I knowingly pay money for an immensely sub-standard alternative.

Take for example my first "unnecessary purchase" last week at the very popular Forever 21 store.

Sidebar regarding F21:
Yes, they of the devout-Christian, professional-counterfeiting Korean couple of Los Angeles! I don't buy their goods not only because they rip-off every dead and living designer they can get their hands on but also because you really get what you pay for in that store. The shoes are not $9.99 without a good reason. Remember folks, counterfeit is theft -- so much for being devout-Christian Koreans! I believe all designers should follow Diane von Furstenberg's move and sue their asses. Buy the real thing or don't buy at all.

So back to the story:
I had been hunting for a pair of blue coloured jeans for a "long time" (about 2 years) now. I am not talking about "regular denim" (which, these days, are popularly washed in a dark indigo-denim tint); I am talking about the type of blue that you look at and you say, "That is lapis," or azure, or turquoise, or cerulean -- that kind of blue. So guess where I found the perfect azure blue jeans -- no prizes -- at the godamn Forever 21 store, for a dirt-cheap full retail price of $13.50! This pair was about 7% of what I usually pay for a pair of jeans. Just too good to be true. The colour was unbelievably beautiful -- saturation was spot-on.

I tried them on and there was the immediate tell. The jeans were $13.50 for a reason. The label may have claimed 98% cotton, 2% spandex but it felt more like 3% or 4% spandex. The weave was not as tight as a $200 pair and the texture was thinner. I sighed many times. I told myself I don't look good in skinny jeans anyway (actually no one does, except 5'10" runway models) so why buy this; I had so many pairs of them already. I said, "You will regret this purchase after you wash it because this horrendously cheap fabric will be out of shape." For all the men reading this post: yes, we women talk like this in our heads.

But I bought it. I don't like counterfeiting Koreans who claim to be running their operations as "the will of God", but I bought it anyway. The colour was perfect, and I had decided to convince myself that if I were to survive this recession, I must buy within my means. I shudder to think if I will dare to give up my cashmere sweaters for acrylic but we shall see. This is a push-comes-to-shove scenario. I do not wish to be in such a desperate situation.

I've been wearing the jeans for most of the weekend and when I paired them with an awesome sky-high pair of cognac-coloured, leather gladiators yesterday, the compliments were beaming. I guess recession fashion will be quite manageable, at least for now.

Wednesday, March 18

God is an Italian cobbler Part II

This is about a bunch of shoes I ordered before the recession but they came recently and I wasn't really bothered to deal with them until now because ... well, I've had to get rid of some of them.

Before I start my homage to all Italian cobblers I want to give a shout out to the team that designs the footwear collections each season at Calvin Klein. They've really always been dismissible but about 3 years ago, the quality and the design that has come out of the White Label and Collection lines have been amazing. I now wear both lines quite fanatically.

So, in this 21st century day of mass-produced manufacturing, why does Calvin Klein still bother to make shoes in Italy? Let's be honest, people will still be suckered to pay $700 for a pair of Christian Louboutin even if he decided to make them in Afghanistan. And while Italian shoe manufacturing processes are widely known and documented (read: Salvatore Ferragamo gluing only half of the footstep base sole), how has Calvin Klein managed to convince the folks working at the Italian shoe factories to give individual attention to each shoe in his line?

I present to you the hand-hammered sole! I know -- when was the last time you saw something like this? I think they only do these on custom men's leather shoes (maybe John Lobb; everyone else has gotten lazy). Take a look below:

CK does the matte black box. I like.

My favourite of the bunch. Can you tell?

Close-up of the vamp. This shoe is so friggin' gorgeous. I am not kidding.

Shearling and suede booties. I bit out of my usual range but I was being adventurous because it is best to embrace the current times.

So here is the hand-hammered sole. See the little nails at the sole curve leading to the arch.

There are also 3 little nails hammered into the tip of the sole below the vamp.

Little nails, woweee!

Now on to the heels, which is the only reason women buy shoes. This one is architectural.

This one has nice exposed stitching on the outer back seam.

Too bad this pair is not in my size. Look how awesome the patent contrasts with the matte cowhide.

*Sob*sob* Bye bye nice shoes.

Tuesday, March 17

It's St. Paddy! Slainte!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Today is not a federal holiday of any sort but I believe most people will be taking a mental vacation from school and/or work, so watch out for the drunk drivers out there. I estimate the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area will register about 400-500 alcohol-related hospital visits today alone. This is a rough and dirty estimate but I think the number is pretty accurate since there are at least 65,000 students covering this 20 square mile corridor in southeast metro Detroit.

The weather was excellent yesterday (very high 50s) and today (mid 60s), with plenty of sunblock-worthy UVA/B rays, and I went walking around to see the jovial embrace of spring in Ann Arbor; depicted below:

Nice weather brought the kids out in full force. I was being kind so I did not snap pictures of the fashion mishaps. It is the start of spring after all, so some folks need time to get the wardrobe thing together.

The campus activists took advantage of the sunshine ...

... as well as the protesters. They protest almost every day, even in winter. But Jesus was throwing them a bone this week.

This spiffy thing is, in plain English, a garbage can that self-compacts. The top domed part of the box is made of glass and houses a large solar panel. Yes, these Ann Arbor liberals thrash their trash very seriously.

This is the Denali loft condo block on Liberty Street, quite possibly the most misplaced and uncannily cool albeit ridiculously expensive piece of real estate in Ann Arbor. I am not exaggerating when I say that the loft condos in this building sell (not for rent, like most of the places in Ann Arbor) for $650,000 to $800,000. The biggest unit is probably only 1,300 square feet by my estimates. Not a worthy investment by any standards but since real estate prices have never fallen in Ann Arbor, even in today's recession and real estate bust, grab these if you see them for sale and you like loft living.

This picture is self-explanatory.

Sunday, March 15

Norman Rockwell is in Detroit, bitches!

Network updates

I have not made any progress with Recession Plan A so far and that failing spirit is starting to drag me down. However, I have started to spread the news to good friends about my untimely misfortune and over the weekend, particularly today, many have responded with mighty words of encouragement. One has called and told me it is time to jump straight to Plan C. I have very averse feelings about Plan C. Only time will tell.

Not usually a horoscope reader, I stumbled upon an e-mail from my cousin and also some online-published predictions for the day. One of them read:
"Hard workers. Warm-hearted. Strong, has endurance. Solid beings who are stable and secure in their ways. Not looking for shortcuts. Patient and reliable. Determined."

Well I sure hope all this horoscope mumbo jumbo is true. Times are bad so I am reading now because I want to believe. I am determined not to let this recession win. You can't get rid of me so easily, America!
Who else is going to buy all your stupid, gloriously-designed-but-never-better-than-the-Europeans consumer goods ... err ... fashion ... err ... electronics ... err ... crap.

Saturday, March 14

The perfect pinstripe

I'm not a big fan of the "obvious pinstripe" suit on anyone but check out Lewis Hamilton (yes, people, in case you didn't know: the world's best Formula 1 driver is a black man; yes) at Buckingham Palace this week, where he received his Order of the British Empire (MBE) award. This is how you wear a grey pinstripe suit. See the wool fabrication, tailoring, triple button (!!!) medium stance, slim lapel, spread collar, slim (not skinny) tie. *aouuuu*

Tuesday, March 10

God is an Italian cobbler

More to come on this beauty.

Wednesday, March 4

America's top 10 unhappiest cities by BusinessWeek

Detroit ranks 4th on the list.

Cloudy days = 185/365. Now I can yell back at the Michiganders (official name = Michiganians, but it sounds stupid) who claim there are less than 100 days of sun in Michigan.

Unemployment rate (December 2008)= 18.6% --> This is a sharp jump from the last stat I saw at 10.6% but we're still at the top of the list in the Land of Yank with unemployment rates. *woohooo*

Tuesday, March 3

Technology is dead

Okay, stop staring at your iPods and cell phones. In general technology is alive. But in the employment market, it is dead now.

Remember the dot.com bubble, and all the wonderful academic programmes pushing IT-related employment to young hopefuls deciding what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives? Yeah, that technology is dead. Granted, I never did anything with my IT degree but even if I wanted to "fall back" on it, I wouldn't have a chance now. America does not love IT anymore.

America loves healthcare. That's right, I said it.

I'm not talking about doctors. They have been around a long time. America loves healthcare so much now that they have college programmes to teach you how to operate medical billing applications! Yes, you read right again. These entry-level, high school graduate jobs now require certificates. And along with all the other healthcare related employment out there (they can't seem to hire enough nurses, medical assistants, etc.), I wonder if my IT degree is as 1967 as bell bottom jeans and hippie headgear.

(I realise that, like fashion, many things have cycles of popularity again).

I just don't have time to wait for IT to be hip again. I can't be job hunting for 20 years. Who is going to pay my rent? Who is going to pay my Amex bill? If you need more proof that technology is dead, look at Bill Gates -- even he is not bothered with technology anymore. He is busy spending the money technology made him on; guess what; medical aid and healthcare programmes for third world countries. I can't believe that Bill Gates is more on trend than I am when it comes to employment! (Well, it looks like he always has been).

Jesus, just give me a job!

p/s: But more proof that old things will come back in style again:
This recent January authorities seized the first distribution-sized package of "processed DMT" in New Jersey and warned that the hallucinogenic drug once popular in the '60s could be making a comeback.


Monday, March 2

Weird news in the United States (today)

I'm sure by now everyone has heard that woman-beater Chris Brown and Chris-Brown-battery-victim Rihanna are reconciling their relationship. The media also reports that Rihanna's father "will be supportive. If that's the road she wants to choose," which completely contradicts his statements at the beginning of this fiasco when he suggested that his daughter no longer pursue anything with the assaulter, teenager Chris Brown. Love is blind, if there is such a thing as love anymore.

Yes, I believe time heals all wounds but violence is never to be healed in relationships. There is absolutely no excuse for one person in the relationship to hit the other. I have noticed that old married men don't say many things to me but the one "fatherly advice" they always seem to mention is that I should walk away and never return if anyone were to hit me. Who wants to guess how long before Chris Brown hits Rihanna again?

In other news, the folks at Champaign-Urbana in Illinois have found placentas in their water sewage system. Count it, not one but three this year. Yes, you read right, placentas, as in the stuff that "carries" the baby in the womb. Pretty disgusting. Turns out the bad economy may be a factor -- medical waste disposal costs money and dumping it down the drain is free. The news snippet says:
State regulations allow parents to keep their baby's placenta, said state Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Maggie Carson. Some parents may want them for a post-birth ritual, she said.

"But it is never acceptable to put placenta into the sewer system," Carson said. "Never."

And in local news, kids attending any school in the Detroit Public Schools system will be required to bring their own toilet paper. The DPS is so broke, they cannot afford light bulbs and toilet rolls for the schools. America is behaving very "Third World" now.