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May 2004

Jian Fei Cha

Tea Translation

To date, this is still the single worst and hence the most delightful butchered translation I have ever seen. From a package of Jian Fei Cha tea purchased at Shanghai No. 1 Department Store. A reader once took the time to write me one day when she didn't want to study her physics, and graciously provided me with a more elegant translation:

This product uses carefully chosen, traditional premium tea from Anxi [a place in China, don't know where exactly, but famous for its tea products]. Its refreshing fragrance cleanses the spirit; it tastes delightful and stimulating; its sweet after-taste is satisfying to the soul. The product helps you to stay alert and it also aids hang-overs. It quenches your thirst and relieves you from heat [as in stayed under the 2 o'clock sun too long]. It calms you from stress and frustration of everyday life. It also assists you in your effort to lose weight, and enhances your natural beauty. In conclusion, it is a fashionable, good buy.

Delicious!

Fez

Fez

A shot of the lounge area at Fez before the crowds roll in for the night.

Monty Under Glass

Burnsy

Sealed away for maximum collectibility along with his obsequious aide, Smithers.

(Read the rest...)

Empty Desk with Flowers

Empty Desk with Flowers

and of course an empty podium with flowers. Duh. Just some snaps from AIGA's Fresh Dialogue that turned out more interesting than I expected.

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Fanny May Debutantes

Fanny May

My favorite candy packaging of all time. I’ve been so hypnotized by the design of the box that I don't even remember what the chocolates themselves tasted like.

The Roosevelt Island Tram

The Tram

The Tram, along with the Staten Island Ferry, is more than just another way to get to work. It's also a ride that’s cool as hell.

The Remains of Thelma Rosenfeld

Human Remains

I don't know Thelma Rosenfeld, nor do I know why a coffin-sized box containing her remains was shipped to JFK airport, nor do I know how that box eventually ended up blowing around the street near my house. But nevertheless, these things happen. God, I love city living sometimes!

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Advanced Dentistry

Dentistry

Now tilt your head back and open wide. Be careful, though, not to let that head fall off its little stand. This surreal little gem was from a series of photos of life at the Boston University Goldman School of Graduate Dentistry. It warms the cockles of my heart to know that I have a mouthful of fillings inserted by someone who trained on a scary, plastic, robot head. No wonder my dentist was so impersonal toward me. And I thought he was just distracted because he needed to fly back to California for a court date.

Darkies

Dar'Kie Peppermints

I purchased these mints in the Shanghai airport. I went into the lounge to try and get rid of some loose change when my jaw hit the floor upon seeing a box full of these mints. Having grown up in an era (and an area) where all the lawn jockeys were repainted to look like clowns or white people, it was shocking to see that the "minstrel" was still considered a novel advertising gimmick in some part of the world. Despite the addition of the accent to the name (apparently a nod to the civil rights movement), the attempt to cash in on the same image that Al Jolson used for a while seems obvious.

Motorgate Parking Garage

Motorgate 1

When you walk across the bridge from Astoria to Roosevelt Island youhave to get to the street level by walking through Motorgate Parking, a huge, Brutalist concrete garage with a grocery store tucked underneath. These were all taken on a quiet evening at dusk.

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Are We Not Men?

ASME Wear 1

No, we are engineers, seeking out the most stylish and efficient protection from nuclear radiation there is. Only Milan's hottest and most innovative designers could put together ensembles like these, making a daring statement both on the catwalk and in the cooling tower. Check out those lines and that sexy use of new materials. Oooooooh la la! All photos lifted out out of the June, 1963, issue of Nuclear Energy.

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Close-Up Oscar

Oscar

This isn't as close as you'd thing, though. It's a seven-foot (or so) statue lurking backstage at the Lighthouse that they keep on hand for when they do an Oscars event for the vision-impaired.

Big Gay Hallway

Hallway

A quiet moment in the magazine racks

at the Center in the West Village.

Funny or Deadly?

Dummy

Unknown ventriloquist dummy, safely trapped behind glass at the American Museum of the Moving Image. If you know who this character is, please let me know.

Plugs

Be sure and drag yourself to Ladies First... tomorrow night. I'll be taking tickets at the door, so be sure to say "howdy" if we haven't met already. Like I mentioned before, The WYSIWYG Talent Shows have all been outstanding so far, and this installment promises to be even more fun than usual.

Chris and Andy have been doing a fantastic job of curating and putting on these events, and you owe it to yourselves to see the fruits of their labor. If you can't make it tomorrow, you can always try again next month when I finally take a stab at telling a story of my own for "that’s SO Gay: Tales of Extremely Gay Gayness."

By the way, have you been checking out Culturebot? Supporting the WYSIWYG Talent Show is far from the only thing Andy's been doing over there. It's really turning into a great source of perspectives on what's going on in the underpublicized downtown arts scene. ("Downtown" in this sense not being so much about location as about the spirit of it.)

Culturebot

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Every so often Rooster or I find one of these devotional cards (picture on the front, scriptural verse on the back) lying around on the street, and they really creep us out because the guy being held by Jesus has a disturbingly uncanny resemblance to Rooster. I even found one on our front doorstep once, which was extra creepy. When I looked up the illustrator (Thomas Blackshear II) and found out they grew up in the same city, I was creeped out even more.

What Not to Say

It should go without saying that the British version of What Not to Wear is vastly superior to its snarky, grating American counterpart. Englishwomen Trinny and Susannah are wise, direct, cheeky, and magnificent. Americans Clinton and Stacey are smarmy, a bit obnoxious, and often trying much too hard to be zany. There is one sublime pleasure to the American show, though the moments when the unstated threatens to burst forth and send the show off in other directions altogether.

Clinton KellyYou see, Clinton Kelly is a bit...swishy. Granted, he's no Carson, but he has a certain way about him that would be a bit much for your run-of-the-mill metrosexual. Being gay is no big deal, and in a lot of ways it's refreshing that they don't use it to explain why he's a style expert, but there are times when the refusal to acknowledge his queerness is as ludicrous as in an old Tony Randall movie. Every once in a while, Clinton runs up against a male guest who's either so gay or so straight that you can cut the tension with a knife. Like a delicious snack!

When guests are totally out and easygoing about it, they almost seem to be baiting Clinton, daring him to relax and gab like one of the girls. With really macho straight guys who are a bit uncomfortable with all the fuss and criticisms of a make-over, you wish Clinton would just make a quick joke about what the guys are thinking and let everyone just get past it. In either case, Clinton shows a panicky, wide-eyed reserve that betrays his worries that his cover might be blown at any second. The silly part is that it never seems like anyone would care: the only tension seems to come from Clinton's panic, not anyone else's. It's a lot of fun watching him squirm. It certainly makes up for all the bad fashion jokes.

Clinton, honey, let it hang out. It's not a paunch that needs to be hidden by a well-cut jacket it's just you. Relax.

Chinese Propaganda Book

Spread 1

My pal Tom brought this little gem back from a trip to China last year. It's a cheaply printed booklet of a little bit of Chinese text and a whole bunch of illustrations that appear to show the many ways that people can contribute to the greatness of the modern Chinese state.

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Drummer Magazine

Drummer

Fetish magazines aren't usually where I’d expect to find exuberant typographic solutions to design problems, but life is full of surprises. I guess this is from some time in the late seventies. [Update: Volume 1, Issue 6, from 1976. Read the entire issue here.]

I Remember the Good Ol' Days

It was quite a scene at the NY Bloggers event last night, what with the blogging and blog-curious hordes filling up the back of the Apple Store. (You can see me here hanging with Jeff and Matt.) Overall it was fun and interesting, but I left feeling pretty similar to what Chris describes conflicted, and a little bit nostalgic.

The publishers panel was fascinating, but it was definitely the part that seemed most surreal to me. My reasons for maintaining the site for all these years have been mercurial, but they've always been intensely personal. Listening to two entrepreneurs discuss which of them has the better way to make blogging its own profitable medium seemed awfully mercenary. To be honest, Nick Denton's approach seemes much less mercenary and much more realistic than that of Jason Calacanis, who is even more unctuous than I expected. Also, Nick has tapped the talents of good people in a way that seems a natural progression of things they've been doing all along.

Blogging as a business model just seems strange to me, because it's been such a given for so long now. Maybe it's a symptom of my lack of entrepreneurial zeal, but it seems so gimmicky, like basing a business model on water-cooler gossip. I guess my sympathies lie with the folks on the technology panel who are more interested in finding a way to sustain their interest in enabling social interaction, rather than making a fast buck by skimming off the top of what goes on out here.

The editors bantered lightheartedly in a way that was much more in tune with my experience of doing this stuff. They all seemed to share a sense of not taking any of their limited fame too seriously, despite the effort that goes into their sites, since they're mostly just interested in writing interesting stuff about things that holds their interest. In the end, that’s the biggest challenge you face after doing this for a long time, even if your site has become less personal and more general interest. How do you still give a fuck?

But then again, this has always been a dot-org endeavor for me, not a dot-com.

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