Ramblings: Setting up a new home and those last few weeks

ALISON TOON: Jade baby shower &emdash; Jade's baby showerAh it has all been a bit of a whirlwind these past few weeks, and I have been getting so tired that between work, the commute and trying to make our new apartment into a real home before the baby gets here I haven't had a moment to really write anything down. Although there is a lot to be said... I feel like so much has happened and I need to record it now before I forget due to baby brain, or have even less time on my hands! I know full well that the moment the baby gets here I will hardly have time to sleep let alone anything else!

Between the endless (or what seems to be that way) snowstorms and icy winter days and nights we managed to move a lot of our belongings from the old apartment on Troutman St in Brookyn to the new place in Flushing at the beginning of February. Our moving truck man got stuck in the slushy snow pile outside the building, and tried to put Joey Ramone the howling cat in the back with the furniture, but we managed to make it to our new home without breakages or damages. And what a home! It's big, airy, bright and so quiet. I slept so well the first night and woke up to the sounds of birds singing, not to the sounds of the endless construction on the streets of Bushwick. There were still quite a few of my belongings left in the old place, but my mum and wonderful best friend went to pick it all up for me last week so I didn't have to deal with it. I just don't know if I could have faced any more moving at that point.

Setting up home has been so much fun, apart from the fact that every time we save some money, we end up spending on very important things... Necessary things of course, but the money part is beginning to worry me, as we have 4 weeks left until the baby gets here... I know deep down everything will be fine, but I am taking 2 months off, and am not used to not making my own money and not being financially independent! All for a very, very good cause though, as I will be busy looking after our little Munchie and giving her the best start in life that we can give her. Buying a new couch was the most fun part, turning up at Bob's Furniture and walking around trying all types of different couches, and looking at sectionals as we have the space for one. We ended up going for a lovely coffee coloured one with large pillows and enough room for us to both lie down on it and watch TV on our brand new 42 inch HDTV... Which we ended up getting at a super discount price because someone had messed up on the pricing at Best Buy... There are still boxes and boxes that need to be emptied or put away, but there is no real rush with this. I've been doing one or two a night, and trying to imagine how I would like our home to look like when it is all done. I feel like we are finally really making a home for our family, a place that is ours and no one else's!

I'm still working 40 hours a week, and C. is still at his 60 plus hours, and it's been a little strange for us both as I am now working day times and he is still working the usual night time hours. We are going to have to make real efforts to spend enough time together on this schedule as I spent a lot of the first week feeling a bit thrown off and missing him, even though we live together and work on the same premises. I know he did too. Thankfully we both have Wednesdays off together still and these have become even more important than before. We have been trying to explore our new neighbourhood (we already have found "our" deli and "our" diner), looking for places to eat and shop and hang out. It's been a little difficult with the weather that has limited my movements a lot (on top of the fact that I get tired fast when I am walking now, as Munchie is really growing fast). I love how multicultural the neighbourhood is, how there is a church that has service in 5 different languages on Sundays, that it feels like it's still NYC, but a little quieter and more relaxed than where I lived in Brooklyn before. Then again, I wasn't too happy when I had to get the shuttle bus instead of the subway last week and people kept pushing me, despite the fact that I have a very obvious baby bump. I'm sorry to anyone who got my elbow in their face, but being pushed and squashed makes me do those type of things!

ALISON TOON: Jade and Cesar &emdash; Jade and Cesar


I don't really want to get started on the whole getting up and giving your seat to a disabled, elderly or pregnant person on the subway, but I do want to mention it. I was brought up in countries where this was a normal thing to do. You don't look up, look at a person and look down again, without getting up from your seat. Yes, maybe I chose to be pregnant and ride the subway, but standing up for long periods of time in a crowded subway at this point in my pregnancy actually makes me feel light-headed and faint, and easily able to lose my balance. In any case, it's always other women who give me their seat, never has a man offered his seat, not even when I am standing right above them. I'm not the type to ask for a seat, nor am I going to glare at you angrily to make you feel bad, but people need to be a little more aware. It's quite sad really! The best moment for me was the time I asked a woman to move her bag so I could sit down and was looked at as if I were some kind of cockroach trying to crawl into her personal space. Of course I didn't feel bad ha!

 My amazing mother came out for a week to help us with everything and to participate in the baby shower that my lovely best friend threw for me. It was really perfect, as I really don't like being the centre of attention, but she made it into a lovely tea party at the Kings' Carriage House where people I love joined me to celebrate the impending arrival of my little girl. Everyone has been so generous and it is really helping us get ready for having a baby in our home. I have the best people in my life, and I hope I am the same type of friend to them as they are to me. Mum took some wonderful photos of the afternoon that display how lovely (and pink) it really was. You can see them HERE

ALISON TOON: Jade baby shower &emdash; Jade's baby showerSo this is it really... Four weeks left (give or take a few depending on when she decides its time to come out), and I am hovering between stages of feeling elated and intensely nervous. Not about the actual birth which still feels like something surreal that is going to happen but that I have no idea how, but more about afterwards. Am I going to be able to breastfeed easily? Is everything going to be OK? Will I be a good mother?!? Will my baby be happy and healthy?

In the meantime I shall continue to feel content and to breathe through all the mini moments of panic, and just know that everything WILL be OK. Both C and I are happy and healthy and are prepared to do anything to make sure our child is happy and healthy too. And I really really really can't wait to finally meet her outside of the womb, and talk to her little face and tell her how she spent the last month inside me kicking my ribs and making me laugh.

This continues to be the most amazing journey of my life.


For more of my mother, Alison Toon's photos from her recent stay here and more check out her website here: Alison Toon

Ramblings: Christmas Time


Christmas has always my favourite time of the year – ever since I was a child where there were all of the joys of decorating a Christmas tree, watching Mary Poppins and Oliver!; the anticipation of Father Christmas coming down our chimney after midnight and trying to stay away to hear him, but always suddenly waking up at dawn and running downstairs to see what presents lie waiting for us under the stairs. School plays and The Snowman, two weeks off school and the time to read and write and relax… Then later, Christmas parties and shopping for gifts, midnight mass and the smiles of goodwill from even the grumpiest of people; the smell of pine and vanilla and gingerbread and the excitement of a snowfall on Christmas Day. Searching for childhood Christmas movies in France and the delight of finally finding Scrooge on VHS, making Christmas playlists and wearing Santa hats outside; Christmasses spent away from family, trying to recreate the same atmosphere and happiness and never actually making it work; Christmasses spent traveling to be with family because that is the only place where it feels right. Christmasses in England, in the Netherlands, in France, in Israel, in California, in New York… 


Last year I failed at Christmas. I didn’t plan anything properly and ended up staying in New York, alone, with no real plans except for maybe cooking a meal for everyone who didn’t have a place to go. I put the old fake Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve, spent the weeks before trying to get into a Christmas spirit by playing my favourite Christmas songs everywhere (and making everyone else play them too), drinking many a Christmas shot of Powers and buying gifts and sometimes losing them along the way. Christmas Eve was lovely, spent baking cookies and watching movies with a friend… Christmas Day came with people too hungover to come over for dinner, so luckily my friend invited me to other friends’ house, people who just added a chair to the table and made me feel welcome. Even though all ended well, I was determined to never spend Christmas in New York without my family again.


Fast forward to today, a year later, a year full of ups and downs and big surprises, and I am spending Christmas here, this time planned and with the same anticipation that I had when I was younger. Next year C. and I will be celebrating our baby’s first Christmas – this year we are celebrating together as a family for the first time. There is something really, really special about showing the one you love all of the different traditions you have at Christmas… Starting with the Christmas tree. I was really intent on getting a real tree this year. I’ve tried to do it over the past few years, and have always failed for some reason, but this year I was determined it would happen. On Tuesday night C. came home from work brandishing a beautiful Christmas tree (at 2am – because tree stands are open 24 hours in this city), and we spent Wednesday decorating the apartment and the tree with lights and baubles and Christmas music. This will be my last Christmas in this apartment with B, so we are planning on spending it all together, cooking and watching movies and relaxing, and just being cozy while it is probably going to be freezing and snowing outside. Remember that blizzard that started on December 26th a few years ago? Bring it on!!! Snow angels and snow men and snowball fights! Although I should probably find another winter coat soon, as this one isn’t going to close for much longer…


And once Christmas is over and the New Year has been rung in it will be time to seriously relax, save as much money as possible, find a new apartment, and finally welcome our little girl into this world… All part of this new adventure that is honestly the most amazing one that I have been on in my life.

Ramblings: Spiritualized again...

I should have finished this well over a month ago, but as usual, I started something with the aim to finish it “at some point”. Thankfully it’s not a review of the show that took place on September 10th at Webster Hall, just some ramblings about sharing music with my unborn baby…


Everything I do nowadays has a “We” to it as opposed to just an “I”. For example, I am not just hungry (make that absolutely starving as if I may collapse hungry) in the morning when I wake up; no “We” are hungry and “We” must eat right away. Little Munchie has taken over my life in the most magical of ways and I will never again see myself as a person alone in the world. It’s amazing. Anyway, the point of all this is that I am now sharing absolutely everything in my life with my unborn child, one of the most obvious things being my love for music. I haven’t been to anywhere near as many shows as I would like this year, but that didn’t stop me from looking forward to seeing Spiritualized when one of my dearest friends bought us tickets as soon as they went on sale this year. I didn’t know I was pregnant then, but I did before we went and it felt so good to think that my child was going to witness the live performance of one of my favourite bands before he or she was even born. 

There are some bands or musicians with whom you have a really intense relationship, one that holds you so hard that sometimes you need to take a step back to reevaluate, just to come back loving them even more. That’s my relationship with Spiritualized. I have seen them many a time over the years, at different venues in NYC, been around them with friends in different locations in the city, and have never ceased to be entranced during each performance, tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. There are some bands and musicians you go to see just for the live music, others you prefer to stay away from as they are just better recorded. And then there are those bands that you want all of: recorded, live, live recordings, conversations, everything. That special music that you will never tire of, will bore your children to death with until they, at a certain age, will appreciate your love for them and may even start to love them too. I have a list of bands and musicians that little Munchie is going to have to listen to over and over again and will probably hate for some years (some on this list are actually musicians that my mother had me listen to before I was even born, so I am just continuing a trend over the generations). In any case, Spiritualized is on this list and I am so happy that I was able to experience one of their performances with my unborn child.

"If you feel lonely and the worlds against you, take the long way home, past the scary jesus, and you'll find my door with your name in diamonds, and you'll feel lonely no more" - So Long You Pretty Things  

A list of random Spiritualized-related memories in no special order (just the order in which they come to mind when I am thinking about the band or listening to the music in some form or another): dancing round and round to Come Together with Hannah at Terminal 5 back in 2009; running late to the show at Radio City Music Hall with Meg but not missing anything due to the disco ball falling from the ceiling a few minutes before the band came on stage (and therefore being yet another narrow escape for Jason Pierce); listening to Death Take Your Fiddle with Meg on repeat for days before marching (stumbling?) off to Darkroom for another night of the same non-adventures; playing Broken Heart on repeat for days and days on end to constantly remind myself that my broken heart wasn’t the only one in the world; receiving a signed copy of Sweet Heart Sweet Light in the post out of the blue from a friend in England; the way hearing Stop Your Crying will always bring tears to my eyes, every single time; reconnecting with old and special friends I haven’t seen in a while at a show, and not feeling like anything had really changed over the months of not speaking to each other; dancing with my now-deceased and very, very special cat Luna to Ladies and Gentlemen in its entirety the moment work got too stressful… Music, friendship, memories, connections, love, anger, happiness and pain. Spiritualized embodies all of that and more for me.

Other bands/musicians on this list are of course The Cure, Marianne Faithfull, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Stevie Nicks, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, PJ Harvey… And so on…

Short Story: 9/11 - The Day the World got Darker

I don't know why I have never posted this one, but it was written years ago one September, as I remembered what I was doing on 9/11/01. I will never forget that day, nor how it made me feel for a few years after that. It's important that we always remember this day, for the horrific acts that happened, for the people who perished, for the heroic people who ran into the buildings to save lives, and for the aftermath of the attacks, all over the world. I know that I will never forget.

9/11 - The Day the World got Darker

It was just another day really… No classes to attend, no teaching classes to give either, so I was just sitting at home pretending to put together some research points towards my MA thesis, but really scrolling through the web on my slow dial-up connection looking for something interesting to read, and watching Derrick on the TV. Nothing better than a daytime German detective show dubbed in French to pass the time.

Until the phone rang.

“Have you seen what’s happening?? Attentats!!”

“What on earth are you talking about? I’m watching Derrick and drinking coffee. Want to meet up and hang out?”

“Put the fucking TV on. Someone has bombed the World Trade Center in New York. LOOK!!”

I groaned and changed the channel and then just sat there in silent shock with the receiver stuck to my ear. All I could see were images of smoke billowing from one of the tallest buildings in the world. I couldn’t even register what the reporter was saying, I couldn’t even read the words that were flying by on the bottom of the screen, but it appeared that everyone was in the same type of shock and no one really knew what was happening.

“Can you please come over right now? This is scaring the shit out of me and I don’t want to be alone here.”

“I’m on my way, will be there in 10 minutes.”

I sat there with the receiver still in my ear and waited. No one knew what was happening; the journalists were trying to scramble together as much information as possible and everyone was obviously in a state of shock and fear. And then all hell broke loose, a silence, and then the reporter’s voice saying that it appeared that another plane had crashed into the second tower.

The moment that that happened the world knew that this wasn’t a freak accident. Two planes flew directly into the WTC towers and exploded inside. I sat glued to the TV, trying to make sense of it all. There was no way on this earth that two aeroplanes had flown directly into the Twin Towers by accident. It was too precise, too calculated. I let my friend in, he made some coffee, and we continued to watch the news together, in silence. There was a hush, a chain of images and then the reporter’s voice, trembling slightly, announcing that there were two more planes in the air somewhere, two planes that had turned off their radios and were most probably heading for the Pentagon and the White House.

Then a plane crashed into the Pentagon. The images on the TV screen hovered between the Twin Towers with the smoke billowing out of them and the Pentagon where there were also clouds of smoke appearing from what looked like the center, and the reporter who was obviously as shaken as we were, civilians all over the world watching in horror as the biggest terrorist act ever carried out was taking place, live, before our eyes. Three planes crashed into important American landmarks, a fourth plane still in the air, possibly heading for the White House. All of those people dead and dying, all of those people trapped above the flames and the smoke, waving for help out of the windows so high up in the sky. I saw something black fall from a window, and then another, and realized that people were jumping to their deaths rather than waiting to burn or die of asphyxiation. There were no real words to describe all of the feelings that were going through my body at once, pain, sadness, confusion, disgust, anger and also the feeling that this couldn’t be real.
Then there was a rumble and all voices stopped talking, and as if in silence, one of the towers just collapsed into a huge cloud of dust and debris. It didn’t fall down sideways, but floor by floor, as if a huge hand had come out of the sky and shoved it down from above. I say in silence, but only because I heard silence in my head, the world had stopped and the impossible had taken place. 

“All of those people!! Oh my God, all of those people!! How could they survive with THAT falling on them??”

And then the same rumble, and the collapse of the second tower. I just hoped that those who were trying to escape the second tower had made it out, because all that was left was clouds and clouds of smoke and dust. The TV went silent for a second, while the commentators tried to gather their composure and explain what had happened right there, in Manhattan. Visible on screens worldwide, the entire world population had been able to see a terrorist act gone completely right, probably even better than had been expected in their wildest dreams. More images on the screen, and then the reporter giving us news of a plane that had gone down in Pennsylvania, probably the last hijacked flight that had fortunately not met its intended destination.
I continued to watch the scenes, listen to the words, hoping that it was all a huge farce, a prank to see how gullible we were. I was speechless. My friend refilled my coffee cup a few times and went out to buy cigarettes, as I couldn’t move. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t really formulate any sentences. I realized I was in shock and then felt terrible, as I was lucky to be thousands of miles away, in the comfort of my little apartment in France. But then again, how safe was I? How safe were any of us anymore? Planes had been hijacked before, not one, but four in one go, right under the eyes of the American officials. Before this plane hijackings were used as a way to extort some kind of deal, money or other (apart from the Lockerbie bombing). When had hijacked planes been used as deliberate weapons to kill? The name Osama Bin Laden was said over and over again, as many times as the images of the attacks spiraled over the screen. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even think straight. I finally got through to my mother in California, and she had only heard the news when she got to work, had been spared the horror of seeing it all happen on live TV. I saw those people die when they jumped from the top of the towers. Flying through the air, all hope lost.

I continued to watch through-out the night, fell asleep to the same images that I woke up to. All regular TV shows had been suspended and the news reports kept coming in the rest of the next day. Death tolls and interviews and pictures of women running for their lives, covered in dust and debris. Statements from different terrorist groups, images of people weeping and people cheering, a collective feeling of horror in most places, chants of joy in certain countries. Death is death. It kills you just the same. I couldn’t wrap my head round the enormity of the acts, the change that they brought to the entire world. The day those planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania, was the day the world changed. No country was safe anymore, and no country would ever be safe again. Ever. During the Cold War we feared nuclear attacks, but we also knew that they would never really happen, neither the US nor the USSR wanted to commit that much damage and death. Not really. But on September 11th 2001, a new evil emerged from the darkness and bared its teeth to the world. There would be no warning, no amnesty and no guilt. You were going to die, wherever the fuck you may find yourself in the world. 

I lost the little hope and optimism I had left that day. For weeks afterwards I was obsessed with watching the footage, over and over again. I followed the war in Afghanistan with baited breath, with some anger that it had taken such a terrible act to actually care about what was going on in Afghanistan. I think that I couldn’t help feeling like it was too little and too late. I started to stay in as much as possible, just in case something else happened. The TV was on day and night, with me waiting  for the next attack, the next images of death and destruction and hatred and sorrow. A plane disintegrated above Queens and all of the national TV channels went on high alert until it was determined that it was just a “regular” crash, based on some kind of technical fault. Engine failure.

I started suffering from brain failure. My slow decline into depression that had started months before took a nosedive, right down into the pits of the dark world that surrounded me. There was no hope left inside. Food tasted bland, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything apart from the news, terrible chick lit novels and my thesis. Sylvia Plath? Why not, I mean I was more than willing to crawl right under the bell jar with her, snapping it tightly shut. We could breath the same foul air together, but at least we were protected from the outside world. Three CDs on eternal rotation on my CD player: Tim Buckley’s Greatest Hits, Tom Wait’s Used Songs and Bob Dylan’s Desire. A Tim Buckley cassette compilation I had made was in the shower, nothing else. The Cure’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me on my record player in the living room. I couldn’t drink alcohol anymore, it just made me want to vomit. My dreams just turned to nightmares, so it was better off I didn’t really try to sleep, just toss and turn and think of death and how much warmer it felt than life.

How can something so much bigger than you, something that effects the world as a whole, something that triggered events that would never end, wars that had no meaning, more death, more hatred, more despair, affect one person in such a way? Why did  not let it change me for the better, why did I crawl away into a hole and hope that I could hide away in death, because life had no more happiness to offer? I felt like I was wasting away, I withdrew myself from my friends and stayed in my apartment, cuddling my cat and watching the news. There was no more hope. What happened to the girl who was an idealist? Who lobbied for the rights of the Tibetan people in front of cinemas and bars? What happened to the girl who tried to talk to everyone about the fate of the Afghan women under the Taliban? What happened to the girl who cared, who wanted to make a change, who wanted to make things better?

She lost hope. The day those planes crashed into those buildings was the day I finally lost the will to survive.

“Want to go out for a drink? I’m out with the boys at the usual bar, everyone is asking about you and is wondering why they haven’t seen you for a while.”

“Ah… I’m in my pyjamas. It’s too late, I have class tomorrow.”

“No you don’t! You have one class a week this semester, and don’t use the thesis excuse, I saw how far along you are. Take a night off, come out and have fun. Please. I miss you. We all miss you.”

“Don’t just say that to make me feel better love, I know you will all have fun without me. I… Just… I just can’t right now. I don’t feel well, I feel like I may puke and just want to stay in bed. I love you.”

“I love you too… I’m worried. I’ll bring you coffee in the morning.”

Click. 

What did I say? Lost all hope.


Ramblings: The beach in September


I love the beach in September. Just after Labour Day the beaches are much quieter, and there is more room to spread out and enjoy the sound of the waves breaking on the shore (as opposed to people shouting and blasting music from every side). September has always been my favourite month in NYC (even though it signifies the end of summer and the beginning of autumn which is always followed on by cold, cold winters…): the air is cleaner and les muggy, the sun is still shining and warm and the nights are cooler. There really is nothing like walking barefoot in the warm sand, relaxing right by the water and soaking up the sun, never knowing if this will be the last time you will make it to the beach before the cold sets in.


The Rockaways have always been my favourite part of NYC. I’ve written many times about my trips to the beach, to Rockaway Park or Fort Tilden (when you could still go there before Sandy). A 45 minute subway ride from my home in Bushwick finds you in the middle of a lovely beach community, with miles of beaches to choose from, a perfect place to get away from the oppressiveness of the city and the humidity that coats everything through-out the summer. There have been years when I have spent at least a day per week on the beach, and then other years when I have struggled to make it out there more than a couple of times a month. I have to say that I have done better this year than I did last year, and mainly because I felt the need to support the place that I love so much after all of the devastation that happened there during Sandy. The first time I walked down the street towards the beach the boarded up places (especially the Sand Bar, a regular stop-off place for my friends and I), made me sad, although the fact that so many businesses were back open and ready for customers surprised me and made me realize how hard people had worked to go on with life even after part of it was destroyed. The beaches themselves were completely different. Smaller, with only partial boardwalks, the rest swept away during the hurricane. Fort Tilden closed for the foreseeable future, but beaches that were still accessible, comfortable with all of the amenities that one would need. I’ve always preferred the Rockaways to Coney Island – it’s more laid-back and less noisy (and there is always Pickles and Pies deli where you can buy sandwiches and fruit, not just places where you can only get fried food like hot dogs and fries). Coney is fun, but the Rockaways are my real place to go to, to relax and swim and be in the sun. 



I realised this week, listening to the Psychedelic Furs and contemplating the future while lying in the sun on Beach 106, that this is probably my last summer in NYC and that my future visits to the Rockaways may just be that – visits. There are oceans and beaches all over the world but this one will always have a very, very special place in my heart. Today some of the beaches are “closed” (although if you listen to the construction workers they will just tell you to walk over the dune and hang out on the beach – that no one is going to stop you from going there), but only because there is still so much work to be done to clean up after Sandy. I just worry that we will get hit by another super storm again this year… Or next year. Hopefully the work done will help avoid the extent of the damage that we all suffered last year. Right now a huge man-made dune has appeared all the way down the beaches, exposing a large pipeline (carrying water?), and the beach is even smaller, especially at high tide. But the same feeling is still there, it will always be the same place, no matter what the natural and man-made changes are… And it will always be a place that represents freedom, happiness and beauty in my heart. Hopefully I will still make it out there a few more times until the end of the month as I still want to finish a photography project I started using film earlier on during the summer. Fingers crossed that the weather will hold out until October. 



Exhibition: Punk - Chaos to Couture at the Met



I’ve been pushing off going to this exhibition since it opened in May, especially after the whole opening gala kind of made me a little sick to the stomach. I knew all along that this wasn’t really an exhibition about punk in general, about how the punk movement began, where it came from, and how it developed and how it died, or evolved (however you want to see it). I knew all along it was more about how punk influenced fashion… But still. I literally grew up around a lot of music, including a lot of punk, seeing as my father was one. Back in the early 80’s he sported a pretty impressive Mohawk and wore some interesting items of clothing. He also lived the kind of life you can only imagine a punk would live in England back then, and I was very much a part of it as a kid. For someone who grew up in the middle of those dark days of Thatcher and amidst the punk movement I didn’t want to go to this exhibition as a snob, but with an open mind. I really did try.


But seriously. There is hardly anything referring to the movement or the music itself, except for a few quotes on the walls (was it really necessary to quote Joe Strummer as “Joe Strummer from The Clash” and Johnny Rotten as “Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols”?!). The CBGB bogs made me laugh because it was funny to see a place where we have all peed or done something in once in our lives uprooted and displayed as part of a museum exhibition. There were a few original Vivienne Westwood pieces from back in the day on display, but all in all the exhibition was mainly a collection of haute couture designer garments that were in some way influenced by punk. From a fashion point of view it was pretty cool as there were some items that resembled outfits that I’ve been putting together since my teens, a lot of lace, black, shredded jeans and t-shirts. The couture dresses made from garbage bags were interesting, although I doubt they could actually ever be worn, more pieces of art than actual articles of clothing.

But where was the music? Where were all the photos that could have been displayed around the rooms? Where were the videos that could have been shown on TV monitors? Why were most of the models wearing clothes designed after 2000? If the point of the whole exhibition was to showcase how punk had influenced fashion then why were there not any references or pictures to the icons in the late 70’s and early 80’s who created the outfits in the beginning? Of course Vivienne Westwood is one icon, as is Malcolm McLaren, but there are so many others, not fashion designers, but musicians, poets, people who just were there at the time and created their own outfits out of nothing. Because, you know, I doubt that anyone who was part of it all back then would have been able to afford a Moschino trash bag dress. I mean, I know my dad couldn’t, seeing as being on the dole in the early 80’s didn’t really make you a millionaire.

Anyway, there could have been a lot more to this exhibition. Instead, to me, it was really just a bunch of designer outfits lined up in different rooms, which were somewhat influenced by punk. I just feel like it fell short of a lot of things. And the whole “no photos allowed” part was quite silly – are they worried somebody is going to steal the designers’ ideas?! I mean, that’s a little ironic, don’t you think? I managed to get take some shots with my phone anyway, but it’s pretty easy to find a bunch of images online if you search. If you really want to.


All in all, pretty cool from a visual aspect, but completely lacking in any kind of background or actual real punk substance. Only bother going if you love fashion and haute couture, or if you want to visit the rest of the museum (which is completely worth it). There is SO much they could have done to make this exhibition amazing. They just didn’t.

One of my friends gave me THIS brilliant book about Vivienne Westwood as a Christmas gift quite a few years ago. Now this is relevant and pretty awesome in terms of background and images.


Punk: Chaos to Couture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art   - exhibition ends on August 14th

Exhibition - NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star


1993 was a year of changes for me. A month in India with my family where the colours and the smells and the people transformed my horizons. Listening to Tim Buckley’s Sefronia in the boiling bathtub after a month of bucket-baths that were scheduled every three days, and finally appreciating how lucky I was to have constant hot, running water. Hearing Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam on the radio and connecting with this music scene so intensely, but still not knowing how much it would actually affect the rest of my life. I remember school still being a nightmare, but at least with new friends who shared my passions, my interests, my hopes and my fears. Family falling apart around me and tensions were always riding high at home.

1993 was the last year in Sassenage, a village next to Grenoble, nestled at the bottom of the Vercors mountains. It was long summer nights listening to Led Zeppelin and Tori Amos, writing in my journals and dreaming of cute boys and good-looking musicians. It was cold winter treks home from school on the A tram and still sometimes struggling with the French language when my shyness overcame me. 1993 brings me back to my early teens. Emotional, happy, depressed, full of dreams, angst and smiles. And a lot of good music!

How could I miss a museum exhibition named after a Sonic Youth album that focuses on the year 1993? NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star has been on at the New Museum for a few months now and I had  wanted to go since it opened but finally made it there last Friday. The exhibition focuses on artwork that was exhibited in 1993, and goes from the 5th floor all the way down to the ground floor. Outside of my own personal life in 1993 I remember all of the different things that were happening, conflicts in the Middle East and Yugoslavia, AIDS, demonstrations against racism in my home town… 
While walking through the exhibition I felt that I was walking through a moment in time, but also a moment that is still completely relevant today. Politics and culture and history melded together to create sometimes amazing, sometimes shocking, but mainly inspiring pieces of art that still tell stories. I love that they grouped together a wide collection of artwork and artists that define a year, and even the beginning of a decade, but that it is not focused on one group or artists, but more a span of well-known artists, lesser known artists, New York based artists and foreign artists whose work was exhibited in New York in 1993. Altogether it creates an experience of walking through similar ideas and clashing viewpoints, difference, changes, ideas and personal views. I felt like I was walking through a minefield of inspiration, which lead to me being inspired to go back home and pick up everything that I have put aside and finish off what I started, for better or for worse. 


From beauty to pain, via controversy and anger, artists such as Lina Bertucci, Nan Goldin, Nicole Eisenman, Charles Ray, Paul McCarthy, Sean Landers, Gillian Wearing, Pepon Osorio and Larry Clark (among many others) are exhibited. Sculpture, paintings, photography, writing, quotes and collages: all forms of artwork are displayed on all of the floors of the museum. I walked through listening to Nine Inch Nails on my iPod, and felt how perfectly it all worked together, so much that I am still thinking about it today. I love going to museums alone and getting lost in the artwork and in all of the thoughts that it inspires in my own head, and thinking about it for days afterwards. This exhibition is only on until the end of the month, so if you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend it.



New Museum

Photography: Random film prints


I love finding a random roll of film that I forgot to get developed in the bottom of my bag, not remembering when I finished the roll and what on earth is actually on it. I finally got round to getting this roll developed today, all photos taken with my Holga over the past year, most of which I had totally forgotten that I had taken. I love the striking colours the Holga tends to produce in bright sunlight, as well as the softness, or slight blur, that appears in most prints. My favourites are definitely the ones taken by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco last year, mainly because the blues are so dense and pretty, and also because it is one of my favourite places to be in the world. I must make it one of my goals to use my Holga and Canon AE-1 more often this year - and then wait a while to develop the films so that I get more nice surprises.
Link to the full set below.


San Francisco BayWalking the Golden Gate BridgeView from my sideTime n PlaceSunset in JamaicaSnowed in
San Francisco skylineRosie at the beachOleanderGuinness IciclesGolden Gate BridgeFort Tilden
Clearing Orchard StCaribbean SeaCalifornia flowerBridge in the distanceBoats on the water200 Reflections
Film 2013, a set on Flickr.

Photography: Spring equals Happiness




Springtime!!!

Pink blossom 1BroadwayCashPainted wallsFlower standNamaste
Free moviesChildrenBushwick buildingWall artA wicked thing to doOn Troutman
Doll in a truckMagnoliaBushwick AveGreen and brownFreedomOK
Lost hensSuper truckWhite blossomGeneral strikeStreet artStrange
Springtime!, a set on Flickr.

Finally. This past winter dragged on and on and on and I never thought it would actually start getting warmer and brighter and more colourful outside. I woke up this morning and went for a walk around Bushwick, taking random shots of tree blossom, flowers, new and old street art and enjoyed feeling the warm sun on my face. I can't wait for it to get even warmer and for all of the adventures I aim to go on over the next six months... To be continued...

See full set of this mornings shots HERE (and link also above).

Music: The Raveonettes - Observator

You know how there are so many bands that release an amazing first and/or second album, and then you lose interest in them? Or those old bands that have an amazing repertoire of music, but sounded much better 10 or 20 or 30 years ago? I could give you a list of them that would go on for ages, including even some of my favourite bands that I feel I have been listening to my whole life. The Raveonettes are the exact opposite for me – every time they release a new album I find it even better than the last one. The latest, Observator, released back in September, is absolutely brilliant.


The Raveonettes have always been one of my main NYC loves, and Pretty in Black, released early 2005, was one of the first albums that I purchased just after I moved to NYC. I remember strolling into Tower Records on Broadway (I’m still sad that it doesn’t exist anymore), listening to it on one of those listening stations and taking it away with me. Those were the days when I didn’t really know anyone in the city and spent my free time walking around the streets and hanging out in record and book shops. I love the mix of Jesus and Mary Chain-style tunes with 50’s-style rock and Motown sounds combined with lyrics that are often darker than you would expect, especially in the more poppier songs. I‘ve seen them live many times and they never disappoint.

In any case, this latest album just knocked their previous album, Raven in the Grave, off my obsession list. It’s darker and dronier (don’t know if that is a word, but it’s the only one that actually says what I want it to say), and also sadder than other albums they have released. It corresponds perfectly with my mind set at the moment, and actually paradoxically lifts me up and makes me feel happier. The lyrics are spot on in all of the songs. I wish I could play it on a loop all night at work tonight, but I don’t think that’s possible, so I will just listen to it again all day today…

“I saw it you and me in time apart
I get a shiver from broken hearts
I like the sun when it don't shine
I make it hard on anyone
So many restless souls
I don't wanna be young and cold
I don't wanna be young and cold”
From Young and Cold