Jul 16, 2011

“Ou est elle la Mortz toujours future ou passee apeine est-elle presente, que déjà elle n’est plus" engraved quote in the catacombs

Sitting on the steps outside the student dorm for a cigarette at around 2 am is one of the few moments I really felt like I’m in Paris. Seeing the Eiffel Tower the other day and walking the champs eilysees did nothing for me. I wasn’t expecting a moment of awe at the sight of the tower but I guess it’s just something you have to do when you are in Paris for the first time. The Parisness of the tower is diluted with the many tourists and the thousands of replications and distortions they satisfyingly create with their cameras. The garbage they leave behind after ordering food and drinks from the street vendors that profit on the millions of sightseers is different from the vomit looking crap I see outside this building where I stay. It could be some other international student’s trash who thinks they can get drunk and be reckless because they are in Paris. But I choose to romanticize this piece of crap I see before me and associate it with the thousands of people that tread the streets every day to walk to work, go to a café to read or write, buy their groceries or walk simply because it’s a beautiful city for walking. The wetness of the streets after a day of pouring rain brightens everything with reflection, and increases the sound of life in passing cars and exhausted footsteps. The damp, cold blocks of cements giving me a pleasurable chill, the streetlights piercing through the trees aligned along the road, the wet bedraggled building from across the street with the marks of shootings that were never painted over in memory of a WW2 veteran shot and killed against this wall, the smell the rain brings of trees and gasoline combined with cigarette smoke… the surroundings that I can feel with my senses make me “in the moment;” a moment of being. Existing in a different time, being a part of it because it seeps into my present and I be in it.

Book I'm reading: Selected Essays by George Orwell

Song I'm listening to: I'm throwing my arms around Paris - Morrissey

Mar 30, 2011

"There isn't much there if I'd need a solid soul and blood I bleed"

Happiness is loving yourself. Love is loving yourself through others*. What haunts us till our death is our narcissistic instincts. Most of our attempts at self-expression are derived from the image our ego constructs. Every "self-less" deed we enact is tainted with our need to be recognized by an other as 'good' and our hopes that it would be reflected into our self-perception and which would only feed into our selfishness. How can we convince ourselves that we can break out of it? How can we acquire a satisfaction from helping others without the narcissistic self gratification that we will always seek. Would this be found in helping the dead who is not in a conscious state of recognition? The fact that we seek something out of the deed... as little as a feeling, makes it inevitably selfish. Is breaking out of it ever a possibility? Humans will always be damned by their consciences, whether good or bad.

* Lacan and Freud through Lacan, respectively.

Song I'm listening to: My Girls - Animal Collective
Book I'm reading: House of Biswas by V.S Naipaul

Nov 16, 2010

I come back to my empty apartment. Turn on the yellow lights.

Take off my black leather jacket and sticky red rubber boots.

My wool shirt, my faded jeans,

as I stand in front of the mirror:

The only object of reflection I posses; insufficiently superficial.

I stand before the image I see. The contours of my body carefully and precisely structured by the nude corset. Intentionally discolored to hide its work of bottling me into a shape. Distorting.

I take it off.

I see more marks inscribed on my body. Unrelentingly carving, more sternly than the piece I had dropped. Clothing me heavier than the winter garments at my feet. Weighing me down, rooting me, digging my feet deep into the Golden sand.

Song I'm listening to: Blue as your Blood - The Walkmen

Books I'm reading: More than I want to

Jun 17, 2010

Band of Outsiders

Anyone who tells you people shouldn't be judged by appearance doesn't know what they're talking about. If you show up to class in your pajama pants and a ragged t-shirt, I won't lie, I will very much judge you. And I don't care if you're an undergrad and your dorm is a minute away and it's summer and you hate this class but are taking it to increase your chances of getting into grad school. Put some pants and comb your hair. People in their worn out pjs who cruise with their carts around market aisles never escape my scornful eyes. Ok, that's pushing it too much. I'm not a smug. I just don't like the "comfy, yet so ugly" attitude about dressing. It tells me that you're a very lazy person and you don't have a sense of style and are very proud of it and I don't want be friends with you. I'm kidding. You can be my friend. :)

So, I hope this serves as a nice little introduction to my humble review about men's fashion featuring one of my most favorite clothing lines: Band of Outsiders and its diffusion line, Boy by Band of Outsiders. I love men's clothes and I love to see men in nice clothes. And that, obviously, is a big part of my attraction to Mr. Flowers (I'll always try to find a reason to mention his name, and speaking of Flowers, stay tuned for a nice little treat I picked out from his new album at the end of this post).

This piece of information is my own guess and conclusion so don't take it to heart, but I'm almost sure that the brand takes its name from the 1964 French film, Bande à part, which means, uh, yes, you guessed it.. Band of Outsiders! I really like that movie and if you watch it, you'll see that the brand doesn't only take the name but also the fashion. I just wish someone would confirm this assumption for me by providing a source. I would feel a great sense of triumph, and, you know, that's a feeling we're always on the look for. It all makes sense to me since the designer's, Scott Sternberg, clothes are trés français inspired, yet he keeps the Americana look there. To me it screams New York swagger. New Yorker kid with a French Grandpa. But I must mention that the brand is Cali based, in spite of all that.

This is from the Fall 2010 collection. Spring is not up yet. But I love these so much:
Off-white, dark navy, sky blue and white. Only this designer could pull these colors off without making it sailor-look inspired. I could've done without the gloves though. Nothing against gloves, it's just they're too matchy here.

On a snowy Manhattan day (yes, I'm sticking to what I said about the NYC look)
For guys who aren't afraid to wear plaid pants.
My favorite. Maybe not runway fashionable, but that's why it's meant to be adorned almost anywhere by any fashionably sensible guy.

and the one below is from the Spring 2010 collection that I was tempted to sneak in over here. You understand why.

Song I'm listening to: Crossfire by Brandon Flowers (what else would I be listening to?)

May 21, 2010

Photos, Songs and Muted TVs

* I'm not big on picture-taking. I say picture-taking because photography seems to imply professionalism. Everyone's a photographer, now that we have digital cameras and accessible photoshop. Some pursue it as an art, which is great. And some are good at it, some not so (par exemple, moi). I think it's because I don't trust pictures that I don't like to take them. How many photos do we have of boring Eid parties that weren't as half as fun as the photos make them to be? Also, I'm not particularly photogenic. Ask anyone who's seen pics of me, they'll tell you that. (My fake smile makes me look like I'm in pain). My distrust of pictures sort of began when one of my professors once brought to our attention how, in this day and age, people seem to have the urge to mediate their experiences through some form of technology, because they might feel like it helps experience them better, which in reality comes in between the person and the thing that they're experiencing. I think it takes away from the experience itself when you are most concerned about taking the picture. Also, I think, with time the value we have of the time/experience will be contained mostly if not strictly in the mediated image and not the memory we have. The experience, then, becomes the image and not vice versa.

Having said that, one photo I am so glad was taken is the one of me, Mochness and Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys. I have praised his artistic genius in a previous post and have expressed my deep admiration of his music and lyrical talents, and you could only imagine how thrilled I was to see him in person. I just wish I had a chance to ask him about his influences when it comes to his lyrics, I've always wanted to know about that. Meeting him, I realized, he's much more down to earth than he lets him seem like. Nothing interesting happened, except he almost signed my ticket twice, until I told him that he'd already signed it, and he exclaimed, sort of shyly, with his beautiful british accent "I've already signed it?!"

* The Walkman's On the Water is a song I've previously posted here, but I just feel I should make a few comments on how excruciatingly beautiful it is. The song has a great atmosphere to it that is created by the sound of prominent, deep bass (which I think characterizes the album as a whole), hints of muted guitar and, toward the end of the song, a repetitive crash cymbal hit and a weird whisteling hymn. The instruments harmonize beautifully to create a sense of surrealism that mostly comes about in the lyrics. The song starts:

All the windows are glowing, branches bending low

skyline is swinging, rocking back and forth

walking down the dirt road

Watching at the sky...

And to top it off, the video is emotionally wrenching and is about cute little bunnies :( Watch it.

* I recently came across a nice little quote by Andy Warhole where he talks about his attempted assassination by one of the people who worked at The Factory (a separatist feminist who formed a "group" called S.C.U.M [Society for Cutting up Men]).

"People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like watching television – you don't feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television."

I so totally agree with that. Feeling existential, my TV is even on mute!

* I also came across this interesting article I found in the New York Times about a new social network called Diaspora* that's to be launched some time in the future. From it's name you could probably guess that it has a certain political persuasion, it comes as a reaction to other major networks' access and control in distributing the users personal informations. This one promises personal privacy, as users are able to set up their own personal servers and fully control the information they share.

* Brandon Flowers (a.k.a the most gorgeous man on earth) is currently embarking a new solo career with Flamingo, his debut album that's release date is yet to be announced. No need to panic now, he promises a fourth Killers album right after. I'm sort of excited but not so much. I seem to have low expectations. I was hardly impressed with their last album and recent singles, and if his album follows the same glitzy fluff of D&A, I most likely won't like it. I'm most excited that Pretty Flowers should be far more accessible when on a solo tour (said bearing only innocent thoughts, I swear).

(A new, post-Flamingo-announcement photo, I believe)

Book I'm reading: The Life of Muhammed by Ibn Ishaq

Song I'm listening to: Keep in Mind - Little Joy

Apr 27, 2010

"A Defense of Poesy"

One of the disadvantages of being the youngest child in the family for seven years of your life is that, in many cases, you're the last to learn how to do something. Before I started grade school, I wanted to learn to read so bad. I didn't understand why a pharmacy would hang a huge sign that said "24 horse," or why our SHARP TV would tell us to "shut up."
This one time when I was just four and a few months old, I was alone watching that same TV set when a commercial for Hooked on Phonics came on. They sell books and, I think, cassettes that teach children how to read. I can remember how excited I was seeing those kids read with their books and phony smiles. Heck, I still remember the number I dialed to order it when I just couldn't wait till my parents got home: 1-800-ABCDEFG. Of course, the lady on the other end asked me my age and then told me I had to get an adult to call.

We never ordered those books, but it wasn't too long that I was able to read my first book with chapters: Dear Mr. Henshaw. I grew up reading various kinds of books, a few in Arabic but mostly in English. Reading books of fiction provided escapism for me as a teenager (although, I'd say music was my ultimate getaway). It doesn't come as a surprise that I chose to major in English literature after finishing high school (English literature and linguistics, to be precise).

It was during my college years that I truly began to understand my fascination with reading literature. It was no longer just a fun hobby and an indulgence of a girl with an eager sense of imagination, but I began to see that it is an active and continuous process of understanding, interpreting and evaluating fundamental issues about yourself and the life that surrounds you, as fiction creates space for the reader to view life from different angles. I began to understand the importance of studying it, for literature as a discipline encompasses various studies, i.e philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, politics, race, gender... you name it.
While what I learned concerning these studies is invaluable, I am most appreciative of what I've learned about myself. In literature I found an articulation of all the thoughts I had that I didn't know had words for. At the top of my head, one of the important texts that really contributed in shaping who I am is Emerson's "Self-Reliance," and his talk about the importance of individuality. As a sort of passive teenage rebel, I loved this quote he says: "Society is a joint-stock company [...] The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion." Emerson tells it!

I now have an MA in English literature and I plan to continue to study in the near future inshallah, and many times I get a confused response from people when I tell them my major. I know there are those who are not exposed enough or who simply lack depth to understand the point of it all, but the number of times I've met with that weirded out face confounds me.

Book I'm reading: To the Lighthouse by, currently my biggest girl crush, Virginia Woolf
Song I'm listening to: Take you on a cruise - Interpol (a band I can never ever get sick of)

Jan 17, 2010

"Twenty-nine different attributes, only seven that you like" -Julian Casablancas

This is to share seven of my favorite stuff.

1- I'll start of with an excellent TV series called Dark Shadows that I've been watching lately. It's a gothic soap opera from the mid 60's that features vampires, witches, time machines and all that jazz. It's over a thousand episodes, so I only watch the ones that involve vampires. If you've watched The Vampire Dairies on CW or have read the book, you'll see where the writers of that show/book get their ideas. And wait till you here this, the main vampire's name is Barnabas Collins... Collins! ring a bell? There's also a short lived remake of only the vampire's story that was aired in 1991, which I think is also good but definitely not as good. It was on for only 12 episodes.

2- Dior Hydraction Tinted is my current favorite cosmetic product. I'm not usually up to date with these things, but this is an item that could be useful to many people. It's essentially facial moisturizer that is tinted, which works as an immediate skintoner, so it's a great substitute for skin foundation and/or powder. And that's not all, it also works as sun block with SPF 20! Very natural look, and very, very useful.

3- If you treat your hair like I do and you abuse it by frequently dying it, blow drying etc etc then Aussie Miracle Moist hair conditioner is the product for you. I treat my hair so bad; if my scalp could leave me and run off with someone else's head, it would leave in a second. So sometimes it looks awfully too dry and this is the only conditioner that's ever worked for me when my hair was acting out. Problem is, I got it from the UK and I don't know if it's available in many places. The one that's sold in the states (comes in a purple bottle) is no good, and it's coconut scented. Bleh!

4- Since we're still talking appearances, my top favorite clothing lines are Marc by Marc Jacobs and Alexander Mcqueen. The first is quirky and playful, the other super edgy. Both very far from normality.


These are two of items I have by Mcqueen

5- Organic almond butter, berry jam, and fresh, sliced strawberries in toasted whole wheat bread --best sandwich ever! And if it's for breakfast, then I'll also have a mix of fresh blueberries and raspberries in a bowl of vanilla yogurt --best breakfast ever!

6- No fav list by Seuss would be complete without a book recommendation. The book I am favoriting is not the most brilliantly written nor intellectually stimulating book I've ever read. It's a short, simple book that had a deep impact on me, and it's called The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. When I started reading it last month, I was waiting in the car for my mother while she was at a doctor's oppointment, and I had a mixed CD playing. Sitting like that made me realize how much I felt I related to the protagonist, even though I'm certainly no genius. It was a very emotional book and it hit me where it hurt.

7- And I'll end this with a song. I don't think I believe in favorite songs, since I like different songs in different ways, but I've always believed that The Strokes' Heart in a Cage (album version here and live version here) is one of the best songs ever written, musically speaking. This is my idea of an excellent song, in which every element stands out and hits hard. The guitar riff at the beginning and middle, the way the sharp drumming is used as transition to each part, and then the heart-melting vocals make it superb. Julian Casablancas writes all their music. Everything from guitar solos, bass lines, drums and lyrics, which is why he is one musical genius. He says it best when he sings, "I've got music coming out of my hands and feet and kisses." I saw him on his solo tour a couple of weeks ago with Mochness and he was great live. Although, I didn't think his album was as great as any of the music he writes with The Strokes.


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