2nd Law

a blog by collegiates from around the purple nation (though mostly living in NYC) in the midst of transitioning to the real world

Monday, February 27, 2006

Assisted Living

Reporting From the L.A. Office: An Assistant's Cold Feet
By Sophie Sharp

I was far too smart to become a mother at 20. Good girls like me aren’t mothers until they’re 29 and married happily to an upwardly mobile Jewish doctor. But destiny had other plans for me.

When G came into my life, there was instantly room for no one else. There were so many responsibilities: feeding him, dressing him, monitoring his bowel movements, making sure he was meeting the right people, getting him where he needed to be… His neediness and unconditional trust validated my efforts, but his utter inability to express gratitude or appreciation for the sacrifices I made for him made our relationship painfully one-sided. G was not my child. Nor was he my lover, my ailing relative, or any man I should ever have known or been responsible for so intimately. G was my boss, and for four bitter (and pretty fucking unsweet) months I was his second assistant, which was more motherly responsibility than I had ever intended.

When Tom Ford ended his legendary tenure at Gucci, Time Magazine asked him “What was the biggest shock for you when you left?” His response: “I could not even send an e-mail because I had three assistants, so I never had to learn…I don't think I was actually a contemporary person any longer…I hadn't been in a grocery store in years.”

This comment must have struck other readers as petty, ridiculous, and humorously exaggerated. Having worked for G, a mini-mogul of perhaps quarter scale to Tom Ford, I understood it completely.

I jest only mildly when I refer to my duties for G as motherhood. Last Rosh Hashanah I had dinner with a young family friend. She had a three-month-old child, and I had my new job. The similarities between us were frightening. We were both sleep deprived, strained in our interpersonal relationships, and letting ourselves fall into physical disarray. Each of us attended nearly selflessly to another human being. But my family friend had an advantage. Her baby knew when it was hungry, I had to remind mine.

I would walk into his office and prompt him, “Okay G, lunchtime. What do you think today?” He would shoot me a pouty look. This was usually a sign that he had been hungry for a while, but was not aware of it. It was also a signal that I was going to have to list off lunch places until he found something he liked, “Macrobiotic…Thai…Chinese…Deli…”

G would make his selection, I would call and order (he always got the same thing, like a four year old, so I had his orders memorized). He would then scowl at me until the food arrived…as though I could expedite his Brazilian food through Los Angeles traffic.

Lunch was only one matter I attended to for G. He had a fondness for colonics, which I scheduled for him with alarming frequency. I was privy to an uncomfortable level of intimacy with G’s bowel movements. I consider this task only slightly less odious than changing diapers, as it was also accompanied by a horrible recurrent vision of him, lying on his side in the clinic, naked with a plastic tube stuffed up his ass.

Some tasks were more obnoxious than painful. I was responsible for the entire contents and meticulous upkeep of his calendar and personal life. When his friends had birthdays, I bought and sent them gifts. When he needed to go to the doctor or dentist, I made the appointments (It is worth noting that my own mother still makes MY appointments to go to the doctor and dentist). When he needed to wake up in the morning for a call or a meeting, I had to call him until he crankily conceded to get out of bed. When he had a television taping or media appearance, I had to remind him what clothing to wear. When he decided to impulsively cancel meetings and phone calls, I was the one who e-mailed the other assistant to apologize for his unpredictable rudeness. He was functionless without me, paralyzed by some combination of incompetence and vanity.

On good days his utter uselessness was endearing. He once called to find out his own address from me. On my favorite day of all, he asked me to spell a word for him. The word “legal.” But ultimately it wore me down. It was depressing to be enslaved by this idiot savant (20 parts idiot, 1 part savant, maybe). I’m too immature to be in a long term relationship, I should have known I was too young to be a mother.

I know my job was typical, probably less demanding than that of many assistants that populate Los Angeles. Other assistants at other companies work for monster bosses, whose demands and needs dwarf G’s. Blowjobs, babysitting, and blood donors are just a few of the horror stories I’ve heard.

Maybe it wasn’t the job, and I just wasn’t cut out for this kind of motherhood. In the city of ego, I couldn’t get rid of mine for long enough to groom someone else’s.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Aborting the Past

The Internet Provides an Abortion Manual for Rogue Clinics

Perhaps the most recent and distressing news in domestic affairs has been South Dakota's abortion bill, which passed the state's Senate this past Wednesday in a 23-12 vote. The bill has yet to return to the House to account for cha
nges made by the Senate. From there it will be delivered into the hands of South Dakota's Governor Mike Rounds for signing or a veto. Political projections indicate an easy passage.

The bill makes it illegal to perform an abortion, except to save the life of the mother.

The bill has filled a contentious role in the abortion debate. Supporters of the bill hope to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, galvanized by the recent additions of conservative Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Pro-choice groups, such as South Dakota's Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice, have already vowed to
take the bill to court if passed. Skeptics from both sides of the debate doubt whether this specific bill has the legal power to overturn both Roe and a later 1992 Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

While the bill is certainly newsworthy, the abortion debate is un-refreshing and tiresome. Defining the conception of life has many scientific answers, but the battle has sparked a ridiculous fight for absolutes. Additionally, ranking the rights of a woman over a fetus (and vice-versa) becomes cyclical and is easily weighed down by prejudices. These issues pose questions that politics cannot answer. It will surely be interesting to hear what the court decides, or how it will argue its position, but I am cynically prepared for recycled and unmotivating rhetoric.

What is interesting is that this scare has provoked a new, and until now, unheard response. The Blog "Molly Saves the Day" has written an Abortion Manual for those interested in setting up rogue clinics in the absence of a doctor:

In the 1960s and early 1970s, when abortions were illegal in many places and expensive to get, an organization called Jane stepped up to the plate in the Chicago area. Jane initially hired an abortion doctor, but later they did the abortions themselves. They lost only one patient in 13,000 -- a lower death rate than that of giving live birth. The biggest obstacle they had, though, was the fact that until years into the operation, they thought of abortion as something only a doctor could do, something only the most trained specialist could perform without endangering the life of the woman.

They were deceived -- much like you have probably been deceived. An abortion, especially for an early pregnancy, is a relatively easy procedure to perform. And while I know, women of South Dakota, that you never asked for this, now is the time to learn how it is done. There is no reason you should be beholden to doctors -- especially in a state where doctors have been refusing to perform them, forcing the state's only abortion clinic to fly doctors in from elsewhere.

Notably, the blogsphere has once more challenged the nature of information and the (potential) legality of its accessibility. The New York Times Op-Ed writer Nicholas Kristof wrote a compelling opinion piece on how terrorist organizations are mobilizing via Internet, circulating hefty amounts of violent "how-to" information. Now it is possible for the average Internet viewer to learn how to make a suicide-bomb vest or to perform an abortion without a doctor. This is a reality that serves "good" and "evil" purposes, depending on the person you ask. We need to think more broadly when analyzing information's availability, because it prompts a more intelligent discussion on censorship and monitoring. More generally, the accessibility of information undermines the influence and utility of traditional informational sources. Molly Saves The Day probes this role while also potentially shifting the abortion debate in new directions. Information which was originally kept furtively underground before federally legalized abortion may now circulate with much more ease and peer-editorialship (note the comments following Molly's post).

Furthermore, this confronts our generation with an issue we have not given much thought, much to what I believe is our expense. The legality of abortion has allowed us to avoid uncomfortable "what-if" situations that earlier generations faced. It has also maintained our complacent apathy. When I say the debate is tiresome, it is because much of it has left Abortion Manuals like this one in the closet. How many of us have read Richard Brautigan's The Abortion? While I honestly hope that no one is put in a situation that requires such action, it is important to be starkly reminded both of the future we face and the past we left behind.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Childishness of Civilizations

For the past two weeks it seems like the words "Clash of Civilizations" and "Huntington was right" have been ringing in my ears. Violent protests, demands for beheadings, and torched embassies have been cited as evidence to this alleged cultural divide - all in response to twelve satirical cartoons. I have always had problems with Huntington's theory, so from the beginning I was wary of fitting the issue into such a neat binary. In my mind at least (I won't argue that this is the case for everyone), it seems that the cartoons are offensive because they are insulting to Muslims; while the depiction of Mohammad may be impermissable to some Muslims, in this case it is a secondary issue. I agree with Robert Fisk, who writes that, "it's not about whether the Prophet should be pictured. The Koran does not forbid images of the Prophet even though millions of Muslims do. The problem is that these cartoons portrayed Mohamed as a bin Laden-type image of violence." Rather than a fundamental cultural clash, the whole thing seems more like what Fisk calls "the childishness of civilizations," or, as Reuters had it "a dialogue of the deaf," where one side is arguing about free speech and the other about religious tolerance.

Although I hadn't seen the cartoons during the first days of protests, I couldn't help being reminded of the demonstration that occurred here at Columbia two years ago after the publication of a racist cartoon in a campus humour newspaper. The argument that "Hate Speech is not Free Speech" seems to apply in both cases; after all, as Fisk points out, many European countries have laws prohibiting holocaust denial. Clearly free speech has its limits- there should be no surprise if offensive publications provoke protest.

Of course violent protest is a slightly different issue. Classroom walkouts and sit-ins on the the steps are very different from burning down embassies and calling for mass beheadings. Violent behavior of this kind is not only destructive, but also reinforces the original stereotype - i.e. that Muslims are violent.

Speaking to this hypocrisy, many top-ranking Muslims have denounced the violence and entreated their followers to demonstrate peacefully. Mohammad Rashid Qabani, Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim cleric, said no matter how strongly Muslims felt about the cartoons they must exercise restraint: "We don't want the expression of our condemnation (of the cartoons) to be used by some to portray a distorted image of Islam." Similarly, the world's leading Islamic body, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference condemned violent reactions, saying that, "Overreactions surpassing the limits of peaceful democratic acts ... are dangerous and detrimental to the efforts to defend the legitimate case of the Muslim world."

So, why then does it seem as though violent demonstrations are raging across the Middle East? Media sensationalism may be part of the problem. Although it's easy to come away from incident with visions of militant protests and burning embassies across the Muslim world, in fact the protests have been less far-reaching than one might think. John Simpson of the BBC writes that, "despite how it looks on television news, the response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad has mostly been non-violent so far. There were no demonstrations at all in a sizable number of Muslim countries. In Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq, the demonstrations passed off quietly.There has been serious trouble in Gaza, Damascus and Beirut, but in each case, local tensions clearly boiled up and found their expression in this particular issue."

A second factor is that there are a number of "fake" cartoons circulating. The cartoons actually published by Jyllands-Posten were inflammatory to begin with, but the "fakes" (or at least those I have seen) are blatantly offensive. If the impression was created that the fake cartoons were actually published by mainstream newspapers, fierce reactions would not be surprising. In December and January, radical Danish imams traveled to the Middle East to complain about the cartoons. One of the clerics, Ahmed Akari, later told the BBC that in addition to the twelve published cartoons, they also brought three caricatures- probably drawn by extremists as part of a hate mail campaign- to demonstrate the attitudes that Muslims in Denmark face. Although Akari insisted that the clerics were not trying to inflame a violent reaction in the Middle East, the confusion between the real and fake cartoons may be a large part of the problem.

A third factor to consider is that the violent demonstrations occurred in places where there there was unrest before the cartoon was published. "All these countries have domestic problems," said Swedish foreign minister Laila Freivalds. "Most of them are dictatorships and are under pressure from the world to do certain things. In that situation it can be good for them to draw attention away from these problems and direct it at something else." Lebanon is a prime example; tension between Christians and Muslims has been a longstanding problem, and the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri only exacerbated social and political unrest. Vivienne Casparian, a witness of the February 6th cartoon protest in Beirut told the BBC that the majority of the demonstrators were peaceful, but that a small minority seemed to be trying to "stir up conflict between Christians and Muslims." A protester named Rana told the BBC that, "There were two protests. The first one, that we were on, was peaceful. Then the others came." Another witness, Charles Accra, thought that the militant protesters were "foreigners, or people who support the Syrians. They want war - it's better for them if the Lebanese are fighting each other." In fact, of those who were arrested, only twenty percent were Lebanese. Reuters reports that, "security forces arrested 174 protesters: 76 Syrians; 38 Lebanese; 35 Palestinians and 25 stateless Bedouins." A fourth witness, Bilal Daibo, added, "I would say I speak for 95% of the Sunni Muslim population when I say we are against any sort of destruction in Lebanon, against Muslims or Christians... It was an uncivilised act by a small group of people... On the other hand, I think I speak for 95% of the Muslim population when I say we are against what the newspaper did - not only against Muhammad - if it was against Jesus it would be the same."

Maybe it would have been the same if the cartoon had been about Jesus, but that is a scenario that will never exist- at least not in the western media. The BBC reports that in 2003, the Danish cartoonist Christoffer Zieler offered some satirical cartoons of Jesus Christ to Jyllands-Posten. One of the paper's editor's rejected the cartoons, saying, "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry." This incident makes the later arguments by the newspaper championing press freedom democratic ideals sound somewhat hollow, at least to my ears. To me, the escalation of the cartoon row and the immediate cry of culture clash sheds more light on the depth of European multiculturalism than it does on any purported "clash of civilizations." I don't mean to ignore or condone the violence that has resulted from the cartoons, but rather to argue that the debate surrounding them has missed the point. I have to agree with Phillp Kennicott, who writes:

"People on both sides want to picture it as a fundamental conflict of values, between absolute religious beliefs and absolute political principles, between God's word (as interpreted by man) and the freedoms enshrined in Western democracy... But even people who hold fast to the bedrock principles of liberal democracy may feel the exasperating hand of a darker manipulation here. Because when forced to an impasse, the cartoon battle becomes exactly what ideologues in both worlds would like it to be: a proxy for the Clash of Civilizations. Religious fundamentalism forced the issue; political fundamentalism inflamed it. An apology for giving offense is now capitulation to religious tyranny; the basic instinct of moderation is equated with cowardice. A little ink on paper is inflated to proof of a basic cultural incompatibility."

I am a bit confused about what these demonstrations have to do with civilization in the first place. Protests against percieved prejudice are not unique to Islam, and it would be an injustice to Western Civilization to consider them so. To paint the cartoon demonstrations as evidence of a clash of civilizations betrays a misunderstanding of both "Western" and "Islamic" history, as well as a blindness to the role of Muslims in today's global arena. Many of the countries where the demonstrations occurred are saddled with authoritarian rulers or one-party political systems which, in many cases, have been created or supported by European and American intervention during the past century. And now, even in supposedly tolerant democratic countries, Muslims are ridiculed as being equivalent to terrorists. Martin Luther King Jr. called riots "the voice of the voiceless." So should rioting come as a surprise in countries whose citizens have little or no political voice? I don't mean to defend violence in any manifestation, however it seems childish to conflate the frustration of the majority with the actions of a militant minority. Or to view protests against perceived prejudice as evidence of a clash of civilizations.

(Demonstrators in the West Bank; three of the original cartoons; two of the fakes)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Free Culture

Spontaneous Digitalia

Update: We got on BoingBoing and Brooklyn Vegan!

This past January, Maggie and I decided to spontaneously film the Free Culture New York Regional Summit that had been organized on Columbia's campus. We collected some good material, and a few weeks later, sat down at the Penn editing labs to put together a short documentary.

While the conference covered a variety of details concerning copyright, digital rights, and technology we decided that it was better for us to focus the film on the idea of student activism on the Internet. In our blurb we write:

The film explores a new form of student activism, based primarily on and about the Internet. Beginning with the Free Culture demonstration at the Times Square Virgin Megastore, the documentary covers Free Culture members out to educate consumers on alternative forms of music distribution online (archive.org, ccmixter.org, blogs, etc). It continues the discussion with interviews featuring conference participants (Cory Doctorow, Creative Commons, Free Culture students activists). Finally, using cc licenses for distribution and production, the film acts as an example for other young student filmmakers who are interested in alternative copyright licensing.

We've put the film up on Archive.org, an excellent site that hosts tons of media on the Internet. We've also been blogged by FreeCulture NYU. The short has been up for less than a day, and it already looks like we're getting a lot of positive feedback.

We're hoping to enter the film in a variety of student film festivals this spring, including the Ivy Film Festival and UPenn's Gregory House. While the camera work is somewhat improvised, we think it's important to promote the message of alternative licensing to young artists and filmmakers.

Anyway, if you're interested, feel free to download the film here. And thanks everyone for your support and participation!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ramallah, 2005

Patrick Hilsman remembers two nights during the time he worked in Ramallah

When I describe Ramallah, it is a city in the clouds where it rained wildly for weeks in the months after Arafat died. Where I would imagine myself like Humphrey Bogart, sitting in the back of dark cafes where the candles have been replaced by the flickering computer screens after hours and where the gambling has been replaced by endless sessions of counterstrike. It makes me wonder if I will ever reconcile my blue jeans with my kafiah, my Gauloise Blondes with my Marlboro Lights.

New York and Ramallah are linked in my mind because they can make smokers out of anyone.

On a night in, I ran out of my room after hearing gunfire because I needed nicotine to fall asleep. I left my room on the campus where I was teaching, walked out the front gate, and told the security guards I was having a nic fit. The gate slide open with a hum of the electrical motor; it felt like the type of security reserved for government buildings and airports.

I walked away from where the gunfire had been minutes earlier. I asked two men in crude Arabic, "Where can I find cigarettes?" As I walked to the town square, I could see the lights of sirens going wild in the near empty square; something terrible had happened and I was in no mood to find out what. I paid for my cigarettes, paid the expensive Israeli price. The vendor and I try not to think about the Israeli generals and prime ministers on the coins and bills.

On the main drag of Ramallah/el-Behr I ran into the two men who had pointed me in the right direction for smokes and I gave them each three. They disappeared into the familiar scenery. I peered down the alley and saw a figure and heard loud pops. I could have sworn it was either someone setting off fireworks or shooting at stray cats.

When I lived there, Rahmallah was wrapped in a fog so thick that I felt as if when the fog finally lifted I would be able to return to the same hills and find that Ramallah never existed; that it was only passing through, like the countless olive trees uprooted by the army on "security grounds," like Carthage - a city younger than the oldest of the olive trees, like the Palestinians.

There are ghosts in the Holy Land. When I return to find Ramallah gone, I will still smell the nagilah smoke and body odor and jasmine and panic, the peeling paint. The Holy Land may be turned into some quaint little suburban hamlet for new immigrants from Russia and Brooklyn, but the secret the settlers will not know is that even in their spacious homes there will be no space to breath. The dead are everywhere, packed shoulder to shoulder and sky high.

On one of the few clear days I have known in Palestine, I planned to keep to my usual routine of tutoring at school in the morning, and drinking coffee, surfing the net, and watching pirated DVDs till 1am in the Internet cafes (my own private paradise, the VIP lounge of modern war). I often waited till one in the morning, because my girlfriend in New York would be finished with classes and online. Instant messaging is fucking magic in Palestine and I took countless unnecessary risks to use it frequently - dragging my white ass home across dark, deserted streets scattered with the occasional sketchy figure. I sat tending the flickers from New York, in row with people killing time on Islamist websites and Celine Dion websites; people talking to relatives marooned in Gaza, separated by 60 years of Diaspora, two Berlin walls, and countless checkpoints. Beneath the hostility towards America, people still bought me tea and snacks and gave me countless cigarettes and asked me if I had been to their cousin's falafel stand in Miami or their brother's college in Boston.

This clear day was to be different no matter what. An American friend had invited me to see a concert of what he described to me as "kind of Palestinian reggae." I would never make it to the show.

After school in the afternoon, I sat typing away on AIM in a cafe on third floor of one of the tall (for Palestine) buildings that ring Ramallah's central square. I struggled with an ancient keyboard that wouldn't pick up all of its keys and improvised by using approximate letters and symbols.


An unmistakable sound breaks out closer that I have ever heard it before.

fleance89: my g0d thy r sh00ting everywhere wh@t the fuck

I rushed across the floor and ducked below the window overlooking the square. I peeked out with a few other onlookers and my mind erased the stunning landscape, zeroing in on the crowd of people rushing about.

"Is it the army?" My weak Arabic kicks in. "No it's not the Israelis," a cafe employee tells me in English.

Machine gunfire sounds comically similar to what we are used to hearing in movies. Very ominous.I had to do a double take on the men in black jackets firing into the air three stories down. White fliers were being thrown in the air and swam about with the milling crowd. I noticed that the only people who appeared to have run were the police and the people with children. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade had lost a comrade the week before. From what I could gather, it was rumored that someone (presumably the security forces) had killed a member because he had been collaborating with the Israelis. This was al-Aqsa's stand to refute that claim.

I was shocked to see some people run right up to the gunmen and grab fliers as the guns blazed. They were 50 times closer than me and I was scared to death. I literally froze in my tracks, I could feel the tendons in my legs tightening to breaking point. Someone patted me on the back. "It's OK no problem, we are OK," the stranger said to me in unstuttering English. The humanity and calmness in his voice brought me back down to earth and made me abandon the thought racing through my head that everyone in the room was about to rip me to shreds. The people in the cafe either paid me no mind or sought to reassure me.

To me, the face of terror had always been obscure. On September 11th, I was 17. It didn't seem real in the same way that houses and highways aren't real from 13,000 feet. The brutality was shocking, but it was never real to me or anyone around me. In New Jersey, Ground Zero was the scene of an accident we never saw happen.

That was all a billion miles away, but the gunfire was still across the street. Gunfire is one of the most obvious sounds, as obvious as the sound of someone having (or faking) an orgasm, as obvious as someone hitting a bong or farting loudly in church.

The people around me advised me to stay at my seat and away from the window until the madness cleared. The owner of the cafe told me "for future reference," that "when people run away from gunfire it is the Israelis, when people run toward it, it is the Palestinians."

That stuck with me and it is advice that I was smart to heed. The militants have such broad appeal because of their air of control, of doing something as opposed to nothing. The kafiah of the Palestinian militants below me would always be romantic when compared to bulletproof vest of the Israeli soldiers who man the separation wall. The inequity of power gives the militants a superhuman air. The mythos of the Maquis, fighting losing battle after losing battle, is still fresh in European minds. It is hard for many Americans to understand that this romanticism is often easy to separate from morality.

Actually looking at the gunmen, I was astonished by how young they were, how frail some of them looked. I asked around, "are they in the resistance?" The word "resistance" was awkward on my lips, but I knew full well that "terrorist" is a loaded word anywhere, in many ways it is not a word. "Yes," people answered.

By the time I was able to go about my business and go streetside it was already dark. The concert was on and I didn't even know where it was. The street was empty and the vendors were hawking their usual wears once again like nothing had happened. The bold stand by al-Aqsa had evaporated as quickly as it had materialized, but I felt uneasy for days. I walked home past posters for Hamas, Fatah, and Mustafa Barghouti. I arrived home exhausted and passed out. That night I slept like a baby; I was high on the thought that the whole
experience might have rolled off of me.

The next day at school I began to get a migrane attack. I still was handling fairly well, but I could tell it was a coping mechanism. My mind had no intention of letting go. It was perplexing: no one was shot, no one was even injured, some property was damaged, and I had spent a nervous couple of hours half-hiding. Then why did it stick so much?

It was 4 monthes before the images of men in black jackets with AK-47s would creep into my dreams.

(text and photos by Patrick Hilsman)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fashion Week Preview

(Un)dead is in this Fall...

Since this winter has been unseasonably warm, many of you may be eagerly looking forward to next year's cold weather to put your fall clothes to use. Luckily, several designers have released their Spring/Summer collections well ahead of fashion week, giving you a quick preview of what to buy for the Fall season. "Death" is the theme that ruled the runways this week, from Alexander McQueen's Irish vampire ensembles and Miu Miu's undertaker-chic for men, to John Galliano's blood-spattered zombie-frocks for the women's line of Dior.

Galliano drew his inspiration from the turmoil that rocked France this past summer. "There was a lot of political unrest happening," he remembers. "I wanted something bolder and toughened up. The beat of what's going on." In order to capture the beat of what's going on in France today, Galliano summoned his memories of another great revolutionary year, 1789. Seeking to create his own miniature Terror, Galliano's collection features oversized crosses, large Count Dracula style capes, spiky leather jackets, blood-spattered hemlines, and of course, lest we forget the source of his inspiration, frequent repitions of the number 1789.

Typically, Miuccia Prada has opted for a more subtle variation on the season's leitmotiv. Leaving the revolutionary zeal to her more audacious counterpart, the men's Miu Miu collection opted instead for the muted macabre. Centering on the theme of hungover undertaker, Prada's collection was full of grays and navy blues, wollen trousers and suede cropped pant; neck-brace scarves and paper-thin sweaters were the hallmarks of her Spring collection.

Fashion commentator Tim Blanks described the setting of the Alexander McQueen men's collection as being akin to "a vision from hell." To Blanks, McQueen's creations seemed to depict "the eventual transformation of healthy young men into the cadaverous undead." The show featured lacy kimono-like bathrobes, cossack-inspired coat-boot ensembles, and an troupe of alien-looking ladies while "a preacher ranted apocalyptically on the soundtrack, Johnny Cash croaked Personal Jesus, [and] a blood-red moon hovered above the catwalk."

If you have been lamenting that the only day it is socially acceptable for you to dress up like a zombie is October 31st, then Lady Luck has finally smiled on you. Or perhaps you have been feeling an overwhelming nostalgia for the days when goth was cool. In any case, there is a lot to look forward to as the Dior, Miu Miu, and Alexander McQueen shows indicate. Although death might not be in your thoughts in light of all the warm days we have enjoyed this winter, come next fall your wardrobe should be prepared for some grim and gruesome additions. Sun and fun may be on your mind at the moment, but a peak at what fashion designers have in store for next season should be enough to put you in a morbid mood.

(Photos from the shows of: Dior; Dior; McQueen; Dior; Miu Miu)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Prophetic Posting

"Brokeback" is the "Future" of Cinema

Barely a week ago, on this very page, Nicholas brought our attention to the existence of a sequel to the Brokeback Mountain saga. In that prescient post, Nicholas quoted the critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper who predicted that Brokeback Mountain 2 would become the bedrock of future American cinematic endeavors. They forsaw that Hollywood cinema would reference and be inspired by Brokeback 2 well into the "unforeseeable future." Only days later, the truth of that prophecy is becoming manifest with the release of the trailer for Brokeback to the Future. This film explores similar themes to those dealt with in Brokeback II, and conforms to a similar aesthetic standard. Starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the film chronicles the secret passion of a young man and his mentor in the machismic Old West. To view the trailer for the upcoming Brokeback to the Future, click here.

PS: Thanks to Thessaly for finding the trailer.