Disaffected Prep

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Assouline Fall Preview

The Plaza, New York City
August 24, 2010
Assouline Fall Preview

You are a fan of books of art, fashion, and design that are themselves a work of art, fashion and design. (1)

From Assouline

From Assouline
You are aware that Assouline operates a boutique inside the Plaza Hotel, and shop there on occasion...

From Assouline
...to outfit your handsome library that is filled with ecclectic art, fashion, and design titles such as the above (though without all the duplicate copies)

From Assouline
As a cultivated gentleman, you know Proust does not rhyme with Faust

From Assouline
You are not the kind of guy who would normally spring $550 on a limited edition, hand bound 25th anniversary restrospective of Tommy Hilfiger's work, but then again, you know how to pronounce Proust correctly so clearly you have attained some level of cultural refinement and possibly material comfort. (2)

From Assouline
Surrounded by such lovely folios, you feel particularly Romantic and frame a scene resembling a Casper David Friedrich painting. (3)

(1) As you can tell I'm employing the second person narrative here.  This was an event sponsored by Assouline and they invited me to attend, and I'm still wringing my hands over how to present this linguistically without resorting to introductory cliches like, "Well I swung by the Plaza on Tuesday night," or (my absolute least favorite) "The fine folks at XYZ Company invited me..."  So after more time staring at my blank notepad than I care to admit, I found the second person narrative to be my least worst option. 

My frustration with the aforementioned cliches stems from the two narrative paths that they lead you down.  Either you you completely obscure the fact that it was a press/media event and appear to have stumbled upon it like the lost city of Atlantis, OR completely come out of the gate with your hands up and fess up to the reader that the story originated from the PR team of a given firm.  Now it may seem that the latter option is more honest, though in some ways I think it is stylistically abhorant as seems to collapse the wall between the reader and the company that was formerly served by the writer.

I'm completely aware that I may lapse into one of these two cliches in the future.

(2) Jay MacInerney probably is not a fan of excessive footnoting (he gave an umimpressed review of DFW's Infinite Jest), so I'm finding the juxstaposition of his first eight lines from Bright Lights Big City and an explanatory footnote pretty amusing. 

(3) The name checking continues.  I blame it on the books; they put me in a haute culture mood.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Into the Wild

Some advice, courtesy of the late David Foster Wallace, regarding possible encounters with wild hamsters:

It's a herd of feral hamsters, a major herd, thundering across the yellow plains of the southern reaches of the Great Concavity in what used to be Vermont, raising dust that forms a uremic-hued cloud with somatic shapes interpretable from as far away as Boston and Montreal. The herd is descended from two domestic hamsters set free by a Watertown NY boy at the beginning of the Experialist migration in the subsidized Year of the Whopper. The boy now attends college in Champaign IL and has forgotten that his hamsters were named Ward and June.

The noise of the herd is tornadic, locomotival. The expression on the hamsters' whiskered faces is businesslike and implacable — it's that implacable-herd expression. They thunder eastward across pedalferrous terrain that today is fallow, denuded. To the east, dimmed by the fulvous cloud the hamsters send up, is the vivid verdant ragged outline of the annularly overfertilized forests of what used to be central Maine.

All these territories are now property of Canada.

With respect to a herd of this size, please exercise the sort of common sense that come to think of it would keep your thinking man out of the southwest Concavity anyway. Feral hamsters are not pets. They mean business. Wide berth advised.
--Infinite Jest

Sometimes you find an author and he or she burrows into your heart and doesn't really leave.  I've got a couple of those - F. Scott Fitzgerald (beautiful lyricism makes me weak in the knees) and the poet Mark Doty (whose poems are sensuous and sublime).  This summer I added DFW to the list and I haven't been able to shake him. 

Like when you find a good band and start rummaging through their back catalog in hopes of finding a couple of gems that inform their later work, I've been mining the internet the past couple weeks of anything DFW-related.  Criticism, remembrances, interviews.

Parts of his interview with Charlie Rose are below. 

In the third part of the video, David basically explains post modern lit in a devastatingly concise way over the course of 90 seconds.  I wish I had his Cliffs Notes for all academic jargon - I'd feel a lot less adrift. 

You can't help but to sit back oogle his written sentences, ones that are best characterized by the words "riff," "stratospheric," and "dexterous."  It's both incredible and humbling to watch him spin.
Though, the real palm-applied-to-head disbelief comes when you realize that however post-modern and wunderkid-ish David's writing seemed, he had great big dollops of Big Heartedness that cut through the cynicism that marked a lot of his peers and influences. 

Though its trips around the internet number somewhere between the Ally McBeal Dancing Baby and the Crank That dance by Soulja Boy, it's still worth pointing out DFW's commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College.  I find myself reading it all the time, and I might just go to one of those teacher supply stores so I can use their giant lamination machine and turn it into a placemat for my breakfast so I can read it every morning.  It's that good. 

I wonder a lot if that speech, which he kept at a nice cruising altitude of comprehension, marked a shift or a "maturing"(1) of his voice that we'll see a bit more when his unfinished novel, The Pale King, gets published in Q1/Q2 2011.  As much as I'm enamored with his work now, it's a change I'd be happy to see.

(1) I realize the word maturing seems inappropriate for someone who used his senior year of Amherst to write a well received novel AND a philosophical thesis that overturned a philosophical idea or whatever Major Important Things are called by philosophers, but it's the best I have to offer.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Wringing out your denim

A lot of things occurred in the past ten months, but there is one thing that stands out like a immobile lodestar in the face of this flux and change (standing-athwart-history-yelling-stop!), and that is the simple fact that I have not washed my new APC jeans (purchased back in October 2009) in that period of time.

Now now, here come the caveats that are supposed to make this slightly less ridiculous to a non denim-head: the jeans are selvege denim and I usually go this long without washing the raw dark stuff, that by keeping the jeans dirty it imparts a better fade and thus more personalized-jeans-experience, and most importantly, once you hit 5 months w/o washing what’s really the point of holding out a few months more to make it to the double-digit month category?

This pattern of hitting some absurd mile-marker in time with denim and then out of nowhere getting fired up to wash the darn things is something that repeats itself over and over with me. After awhile though I just reach my own personal tipping point of dirtiness (real or perceived) and toss the things (and before you ask: woolite dark, inside-out, by itself, cold wash etc etc) in the wash.

Today was one of those days, don’t ask me why.

I felt like documenting the whole thing, and if it comes off like a wistful parent snapping 278 pictures for their child’s first haircut - well - I can’t get around that. It’s borderline obsessive, I know, but something (and that something has been written about already and available for dissemination if you want to e-mail me, though not posted here because it interrupts the narrative flow much like this epic parenthetical thought) compels me to record it.


I love the structure, the undulations and the topography that raw denim obtains after months and months of use.

Denim with a faded pocket where your wallet usually rests is one of the coolest things a guy can have. There, I said it.

Blown out crotch. It happens, just patch it.

Reason #30,983 why raw denim is cool: the crinkly-cut design that occurs behind your knees that slightly resembles the cover of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album.

I cuff. Do you cuff?

After taking a couple of good-bye pictures (and perhaps a tearful hug) I dutifully turned the denim inside-out, placed a little Woolite Dark in the washing machine and turned the duties over to the cold water delicate cycle.


Technically I'm aware that I have several cleaning options available to me, and that I basically selected one of the non-extremist ways of washing the jeans. APC, among others, recommend that you either a) Have it dry-cleaned for your first washing b) walk into the ocean with them on and have them dry out in the sand or c) just let them soak for an hour with cold water and Woolite Dark.

I realize the various benefits of these methods (namely that it enables you be an even bigger denim snob). However, I feel like going 10 months without washing my jeans is extreme enough for me.


Washing machine action shots!

Once the jeans dry out I'll post further pictures


As I mentioned, available upon request. 


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