Monday, April 27

Vermeer In Furs

Anyone with an outside-knowledge of the Dutch masters will recall that Johannes Vermeer deeply favored specific accessories and pieces of women's apparel; namely, pearls and a golden velvet jacket. The subjects would vary but these items would appear, and while it's easy to believe that more than one wealthy woman in Holland owned pearl jewelry, I doubt the popularity of a flashy yellow coat, thick-trimmed with white fur which was speckled with black diamond spots, in the mild and bashful 1660's. The women he adorned with the things he adored would, by modern standards, be mistaken for sufferers of a genetic disease, but in his time and place they were considered at least decent beauties. It's quite difficult to tell if any of the paintings were of the woman of Pearl Earring fame, or if they all are. I'd say the woman receiving news from a messenger at her desk looks the most like Scarlett Johansson.

Friday, April 24

American whatevers in Paris

One of our American friends in Paris was robbed at gunpoint a few months ago. Police reviewed security cameras from the dark parking lot but did little to follow up on the case, and after he canceled his credit cards though Skype, Parisian life resumed its reliably-safe demeanor.

Upon moving to Paris I noticed a hobby store near our apartment that sells everything one would need to build an intricate train set and thick, black BB guns that look an extraordinary amount like actual handguns. The BB guns lack the large orange tip required of children's playthings in America; in America, they're necessary to distinguish a gun possessor from a cowboy or a pirate, a preventative measure taken to curb accidental Halloween deaths at the hands uppity law enforcement. This precaution is irrelevant in France because no one celebrates Halloween and because it's nearly impossible to obtain a real gun.

In turn, our friend may have been robbed at BB gunpoint. It isn't shameful at all considering how authentic they look and how stupid it would be to call a weapon on being a bluff. Moreover BB's hurt quite a bit and are probably fatal if they hit the neck or that big artery just South of the buttocks.

There are lots of Americans living in Paris. Many come for specific jobs and others, like myself, are freelance hooligans, buying up all the 2€ wine and paying for croissants in small change at Eric Kayser and Paul boulangeries. The majority of Americans in Paris are students, often made to feel comfortable about not knowing French or anything about French culture through immersion in institutions with exclusively other Americans: American University of Paris, NYU at Paris, etc. This stops the American students in Paris from making French friends or entering establishments that their Parisian peers patronize. It also gives them the impression that they can approach people in bars if they overhear spoken English, to spark up a where-are-you-from-oh-I've-never-been-there conversation -- about which they are gravely mistaken.

I have French friends but my French is so atrocious that we always speak English. And despite my poor language skills I don't think I've socially met anyone who was rude; I would easily assert that the French are miles-more pleasant than the average New Yorker. Even French strangers, upon being asked for directions or a cigarette, will usually exclaim, "Viva Obama!" as a way of assuring Americans that any negative stereotype is truly false. Still, if I'm in a vintage store and a slew of girls come in yelling in American accents, I'll quietly glare at them in an attempt to make them feel unwelcome in the city. I'm happy that Paris has been so kind to me but I'm an extremely polite guest.

Last weekend we went to a bar because our [French] friend was deejaying. I had a good time, but in the middle of the night, five American girls came over to our table and tried to relate to us; they came from Texas, dressed poorly, and couldn't read in our faces that nobody wanted to dance with them. My friend Isabelle called to me, "Alaina, these girls are American," knowing full-well that I didn't want to be outed.
"O-ba-MA!" I yelled back, emphasizing the last syllable as French pronunciations always do.

I assume that this loathing will subside before I go back to the US and have nothing to overhear but American accents everywhere I go. After all, I don't hate America; I just hate its loud, ugly brats. But until then, if I should fall upon economic hardships while still living in France, I will most likely invest in a dangerous-looking BB gun and use it to stick up the Americans in Paris; there's a high chance that they won't know any better.

Thursday, April 23

Got Any Plans For Summer?

Careers @ Gap to me

Dear Alaina:

Sales Associate - Gap - Beverly Drive Beverly Hills-00A5B has opened and matches your profile interest.
The job is open and posted on

If you would like to apply for this position, click here. You can also visit our website to review a list of all open positions.

We thank you for your interest in Gap Inc.

Best regards,
Gap Inc. Careers

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Tuesday, April 21

Rough Treatment

The seventh installment of Treat Me Rough was one of those hour-long periods of time wherein I'm unable to open my mouth without fucked and horrible things dripping out. Listen in tonight at 22h [4pm EST] to AUP Radio [] as I try to out-do myself for the eighth time.
EPISODE 6 (56 minutes)
EPISODE 7 (53 minutes)

Sunday, April 19

East And West

I was walking home and saw a curious clock tower in the near distance. I started toward it but slowed to a stop when I saw a small shop's window, displaying beaded jewelry and several action figures of dancing men wearing tall, black fezzes.

The store was lined with books in Arabic and Turkish, so they looked to me the way English had when I was very young. There were rotating stands with beaded key chains and rearview mirror ornaments, with colored beads arranged to spell out years like, "1907" and "1967". If these years marked a bloody revolution or extremely holy occurrence that I hadn't learned about in high school, I feared I would not be permitted to buy them.

As I considered leaving, the shop's proprietor approached me holding a glass cup and dish set with hot tea, a tiny spoon, and a big sugar cube. I was shy to accept but it's extremely difficult to turn down free tea. He led me to a table near the back of the store where a girl was sitting with her own cup of tea and a small notebook. She was wearing a black veil around her hair and neck and was cradling a strand of thick beads in her left hand. I worried that she was a fortune teller, that I had been lead there to be swindled. I began making forced comments about not having money and needing to go to the bank. She shrugged and recalled a bank someplace nearby.

I sipped the tea and it was excellent, a cross between brown rice and oolong but obviously containing neither. There were clocks on a wall next to us, and they too were intricately beaded and detailed with "1907" and pictures of lions and roses. I asked the girl what they signified, and she said she didn't know, "maybe something from Turkey's history." There was a hallway stemming from the back of the store to an assumed storage closet, and the proprietor had walked back there. She followed after him to ask about the clocks for me.
"They're for football clubs, and the years they were started," she explained, "and they're 75 and 95." She sat down again, picked up her beads, and then asked me about myself.

She is studying at the Sorbonne but hasn't had a class since January. She's learning Norwegian languages but doubts any possible related-jobs in Paris. She drives a motorcycle and just passed her car-driving test and although she's half-Turkish, she's never been to Turkey.
"This summer, I hope, we'll all go in a car."
I began fantasizing about our new friendship. I had left my phone at home, and had never memorized my Parisian phone number, but surely I could write down her phone number and give her my email address. We could ride on her motorbike to the Louvre and walk past all of the tourists, the most heart-warming combination of East and West. And when I go back to America, we could remain penpals, alternating between handwriting letters in English and Swedish.
"I have to go into the back and pray now," she said, looking at her phone. "We usually pray at two-thirty but the, the mosquée was closed. I'll be right back."
I could come here everyday at three. She could talk to me about the female-Muslim lifestyle, and I could tell her about the wild American-atheist persuasion. Best not to tell her I'm Greek yet, I thought.

While she was gone, I picked up a catalog filled with ads for Turkish establishments in Paris and hummed the only parts I know from "We are the World." A boy with his own set of beads came into the shop and sat down at the table. He helped himself to some tea as well and explained that he lived just around the block. He better explained to me that the shop was a relaxing French-Muslim hangout, where members of the community could come and buy books and listen to Pure Moods-esque ney music [Turkish reed flute].

My new Best Arab Friend Forever came back and greeted the guy who had come in. They were already acquainted well enough and began speaking to each other very quickly in one of the languages I don't know. Then she turned to me and asked, "Did you go to the bank yet?"
"Ah, no, not yet," I said to her good idea.
She turned back to the guy and they continued talking. They were laughing at things that the other said and I realized I hadn't been laughing at all since I'd sat down. And neither had she. When there was a break in their conversation I announced that I was going to the bank. She looked at me as if she hadn't understood me, and then asked the guy for clarification.
"Oh yes," she said, remembering now. "Okay."

The proprietor had told me where a bank was, but upon following his instructions, I ended up on a street where I knew there are only shoe stores and cafes. I walked back around the block, and then considered not going back to the store at all.
I've got it, I thought. I'll go shopping for food or something, take a really long time, and then go back. They'll have assumed that I wouldn't return, and mourn me, and then when I do return they'll have a rejuvenated interest in being my friend!

I followed my plan. I bought petrified duck eggs and rice noodles that are too thick for me to properly prepare, pre-popped popcorn, Israeli lemon cookies, and a bushel of asparagus, most of which came from different markets. I came back to the Turkish shop, having lost a lot of the money that I had taken out, and found that my friend and her friend were still chatting excitedly. The store had filled with young boys who were fingering and then dropping and leaving on the floor the beaded soccer club trifles that had originally interested me. I picked up the largest one and brought it to the register.

The piece is a yellow, beaded diamond-shape, with beaded tassels hanging from the bottom. The top reads MASALLAH in beads, under which are two, three-dimensional beaded birds, with beaded strings hanging from their beaded beaks. Under the birds are the numbers 1, 9, 0, 7.
I somehow understood the proprietor, who was speaking to me in Turkish, but a man behind me in line was also translating everything he said into English, just to assure me that I was right. "All of the beaded crafts in the store were made by people in prison," said the translator. "The prisoners just make beaded crafts and smoke cigarettes all day."

I walked back to the tea table with my new possession. Nobody looked up until I held out the MASALLAH and whispered, "Look." I continued to stand, waited for another break in their conversation, and then said goodbye.

Saturday, April 18

Bro Bait Dressed As Hipsters For Halloween

Josh feels the costume was more, girl about to be reamed by a group of guys from the basketball team.

Thursday, April 16

Blind Culture

A few months ago Terry and Mia went to a production of the musical Pippin. They rarely want to see musicals and never had a desire to hear someone belt the piano-bar-ballad Corner Of The Sky; in fact they went to hear as little as possible. The play's direction was based around making the night accessible to the deaf, with several deaf actors singing and all of the dialogue signed out as it was spoken. Terry and Mia said that at the end of the play, everything went silent and then the principle character, alone on stage, performed the last monologue with just his hands. Near the closing of his monologue, all the deaf and otherwise sign-language-literate members of the audience burst into laughter; Terry and Mia sat quietly and grinned.

Deaf culture is strong and unified, birthed from an active community and use of the word "handicapable." Such is not the same with the blind, although not because of difficulties relating to one another. They all use the same color cane purposely, and shop in the grocery store [alone] in the same way; having tried to memorize the layout of the shop, they'll go to where the peanut butter generally is, wait for someone to walk by, and then ask the shopper to hand them a jar. However, because of how hard solo actions can be, it's harder for them to get together on their own.

Many of them are illiterate, by which I mean that they can't read Braille. "Why waste the time teaching Braille when so many audio books are available?" goes the argument. And while listening to an audio book still probes the imagination, there is something in the effort that it takes to interpret a tone on your own that makes reading all the more enriching in the long run.

Reading Braille must take longer than with a printed language, at least for new readers, and I've often wondered if it's more satisfying to finish a Braille book because of the extra time invested. Then I've wondered if jokes are much funnier in Braille because of how long the build up is to the punch line. Last week, after coming home from Mains d’Œuvres, I spent an hour sitting on the floor, scouring YouTube for videos of blind people reading a sentence in Braille and then laughing.

I found tons of videos of kids pretending they couldn't see and then running into walls with shopping carts, and one video of a girl pretending to read erotic Braille and touching herself and then getting teased by another girl who could see her doing it and was also able to read Braille. It made me think of idioms like, "the blind leading the blind," and "you'd have to be blind to," and "are you blind, bitch?" Those poor people! They deserve so much more respect, and in the meantime, a solid Braille joke book.

I solemnly swear to write one one day but until I do, David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day is available in Braille for $44.95. The man is quite a miracle worker.

Wednesday, April 15

I Would Wear This $64 Sports Bra As A Shirt

As seen on NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Monday, April 13

Athletic Heirloom

Last night I videochatted with my dad and held up this shirt. He recognized it from his last year of high school, when he moved from Greece to New Jersey to avoid serving in the army and to go to college in America.I found it on the first floor of my grandmother's house, which she built in the mid-60's along a river before other land-locked Greeks had considered the value of living near water. The shirt was folded and crisp with dirt in my aunt's childhood room, which had been rendered unlivable by floods and stray cats and a long period of neglect. Upon realization of the shirt's greatness, its velveteen letters cracking and turning gray, I stuffed it into my handbag and then my duffel bag without mention, unable to risk it being wrongfully claimed after all this time.

Saturday, April 11

We All Will Be Received In Iceland

The slightly-stronger-than tentative plan is to, instead of flying from France to America, fly from Paris to Iceland, knock around Iceland for a week [either with my dad or alone] and then fly to New York. If I should end up alone, here is my adventure skeleton:

Day 1 Reyjavik -
Day 2 Blue Lagoon (sleep in Reyjavik)
Day 3/4 bus to Höfn í Hornafirði and then go to Vatnajökull glacier
Day 4/5 Skaftafell National Park--->Svartifoss (Black Falls) / Lónsöræfi [depending whether this is day 4 or day 5]
Day 5 bus to Reyjavik
Day 6 bus to Keflavik - and then if i need to sleepover - - but hopefully back to Reyjavik
Day 7 Reyjavik to New York

things to see in Reyjavik:
The Hallgrimskirkja Church - designed to look like Black Falls
The Perlan Observatory
Zoo - ride Icelandic horses / Botanical garden
Buy a bunch wool crafts and go to hipster bars -

outstanding ways to break vegetarianism:
hákarl (putrefied shark cubes)
svið, singed sheep's head
Slátur, consists of lyfrapylsa, a sausage made from the offal of sheep, and blóðmör which is similar to lyfrapylsa only with the sheep's blood mixed into it
Lundabaggi (Sheep's fat)
hrútspungar (pickled ram's testicles)
hot dogs (but exotic!)

Friday, April 10

Birthday Brood

I got high yesterday and came to the 'realization' that I generally feel ashamed celebrating a birthday. I like the perks of a solo anniversary - forcing people to hang out with me, getting to choose what we have for dinner, etc - but I feel uncomfortable at the idea that everyone should submit themselves to me for 24-hours for no serious reason. As a species we've taken the struggle to survive out of our day to day regiment, so to me aging really doesn't feel like an accomplishment worth mentioning. In early high school I dated a Jehovah's Witness for about a week, and in that week he came up to me and said, "Today is my birthday, not that it matters"; I don't act like that but when I want to reference something that happened the same date that I was born, especially if that date was within the past week, more often than not I'll leave the holiday element out of the retelling.

I wondered if there was another, more innate reasoning behind my discomfort. Do I really dislike birthdays because the people of my heritage prefer to celebrate saint-related Name Days? Or because birthdays were invented by a defunct cult? Maybe, after 19 conscious years, I'm bored of constantly celebrating other people's special day and reflect upon it when it's time to deal with mine.

These are all things to consider as you download the lightly-Birthday-themed episode of Treat Me Rough, which aired Tuesday on AUP Radio. The 56 minute MP3 is available today.

Thursday, April 9

Being Cool

Wikipedia censored it almost immediately, but I was able to first capture this moment of playful ill-intent. You can see from the original content that I was v accurate.

Wednesday, April 8

Old Blue Eyes

Blue-eyed soul (also known as Aryan soul) is rhythm and blues or soul music performed by white artists. Blue-eyed soul has always been one of my favorite genres because, as with it's artists, I've always wanted to be black but was born too corny. I'm so boring and white that I have to dress like a circus so people will care when I come to town. And worst of all, I inherently can't sing or dance. Life's just too unfair to the fairest.

Watch now as 60's teen idol Paul Anka pretends that he was in the rat pack, and does karaoke, his way.

Tuesday, April 7

Rock Me Amadeus

Today in 2003 the Billboard #1 song was 50 Cent's first hit, and when people would ask what I was up to later, I'd mock him with, "You can find me in the cluuuuub," despite it's obvious improbability. For 2006 it was "Had A Bad Day," a lullabye for receptionists written by James Blunt-impersonator Daniel Powder, and before that, in 2000, "Butterfly" by Crazytown was at the top of the Top 40. But my favorite song of April seventh would have to be 1899's smash hit, "I Guess I'll Have To Telegraph My Baby."

However, if you really want to be playing my song, you'd first need to powder your nose and then your wig, and then put on 1986's Rock Me Amadeus.

Monday, April 6

Excessive Dramamine Usage

Dan- "Dude, what are you doing?"
Me- "I'm swimming"
Dan- "Man that's a table, not water"
Me- "Your face is melting."
Dan- "what the hell?"
Drew- "Dude he took like a billion dramamine pills earlier, he's tripping the fuck out"
Dan- "sweeeet gimme some'a dem shits"

Friday, April 3

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Best Dressed Band Of The 20th Century

I almost called Ladysmith Black Mambazo the "best dressed band of all time" but then thought for a moment and realized that I liked the things Mozart wore more. My twenty-third birthday is on Tuesday, April seventh. If you live in America and are the type of person who would buy me a present, you should get this shirt for me. If you know other people who might take this advice, talk it over with them first before bidding; otherwise you might needlessly drive up the price fighting for me against someone who is also fighting for me.

Thursday, April 2

How You Gonna Wear Sandals With Nasty Corns?

This Sporty Theivz video has way more zingers than I ever gave it credit for, alongside timeless, tried-and-true fashion tips. If I was Left Eye I would've driven my car off the road, too.

Wednesday, April 1

Most Unique

Not to toot my on horn too loud but when I was a senior in high school the yearbook committee invented a new superlative that I was an obvious shoe-in to win: most unique. It doesn't mean anything, but because I had no qualities that would bring me recognition as Friendliest or Nicest Hair and because I got a 2 on the AP art test and in turn wasn't even in the running for Most Artistic and because I was enough of a high school personality to deserve extra pictures in the yearbook, especially because my actual yearbook picture was surprisingly ugly, the yearbook committee gave me my due. And because superlatives were set up so that one girl and one boy won for each category, a kid I had never really spoken to and I were photographed together. I initially assumed he was undeserving and lucky that I was around but tonight I found a picture of him from 2003 on Facebook, and because somewhere beyond the studs and chain wallet there seems to be something special, I'm beginning to think that I thought wrong.