Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Part VIII: NYC Subway Map - July, 22, 2001 Edition

It is several weeks earlier and we have decided to pretend to date. Here is how pretending to date works. We somehow come to a mutual decision to have dinner together under the auspice of it being for me to introduce her to a Japanese restaurant I think she'll like. I interpret this as a romantic date with intentions of it leading to something more substantial, all while she interprets it as a friendly dinner out with a man she finds attractive but is oddly not attracted to. We will both be completely self-aware of our individual interpretations as well as both have a fairly strong suspicion as to the other persons feelings. Nothing is a secret in real life and this is what makes playing pretend so painful once you've grown up.

Dinner with "J" consists of conversation I can no longer recall, though I'm positive it contained many instances of my profusely complimenting her on any number of things; her appearance, her language skills, her strong will. I have undoubtably complimented her appearance too many times. I'm compensating for not having any real charisma to speak of. Compliments are easy to give, and easy for the receiving party to deflect modestly, and they inevitably give the impression that the small-talk of insignificant conversation was filled with the heady bluster of solid discourse. Nothing memorable is said but a vague impression based on past patterns can be forged. I'm sure I've told her how beautiful she is at least five times before the end of the meal and I will tell her five more times while we sit on the park bench in Union Square. I will tell her five more times after I awkwardly kiss her, just to fill up the dead air surrounding our lips, to keep from saying what I want to say, what I should say, that I can tell she doesn't ever want to kiss me again, and didn't even want that kiss to begin with.

Her body stiffens the second our lips meet, though I'm not really kissing her lips, since she has pulled them in, so what my lips are pressed against is the taut stretched skin around her mouth. I'm holding onto her arms as they are slumped along her sides, her hands cupped together in her lap. I'm holding her there waiting for her to respond in some way that would express a positive reaction to this act of intimacy I've just committed, waiting for the signs of passionate acquiescence; her lips to slightly part, her head to softly bend, her back to gently arch. After seconds of awkward stillness, I pull away from her motionless face, release her rigid body and smile to cover my complete sense of humiliation and fear. She smiles, too, most certainly to help me in my recovery. I can no longer recall if I complimented her right then, but I'm sure I did shortly thereafter. I'm almost positive that's exactly what I would have done.

We hold hands on the subway platform as we await the N train that will take her two stops and me fourteen. We smile at each other repeatedly. She says something incredibly sweet to me that now, all these years later, I can not remember, but I know I was caught off-guard by her seeming sincerity and confused by her intent. Despite the uneasy kiss on the park bench, I'm left convinced our feelings are mutual, that she is perhaps only sexually prudish in public, my show of public affection too much for her too early. She holds my hand in her lap as we sit side by side on the train the two stops to 28th Street Station, the stop nearest the Empire State Building.


It is the week before and there are friends from out of town, visiting from San Francisco, and there is a chance meeting on a corner in the East Village, and there are art students involved, homemade t-shirts, and a Japanese girl in town for the U.S. Open. As of this writing, I am in contact with none of these people, and I'm almost certain that's entirely by choice.

There is one night spent in an underground saké bar with the two girls from San Francisco, a boyfriend of one of those girls, a student photographer, myself, and "J". We drink and eat and talk about nothing at all that matters, except that in the moment it brings forth laughter and happiness, which is all most conversation is good for. Conversation is a drug like any other, that is momentarily abused, exploited for pleasure, leaving behind vague cavernous pits in the skin and memory. It's harmless, mostly, but it can kill in the wrong hands. On this night, it's so harmless as to be instantly forgettable, as to vanish into the air like clean white puffs of perfumed smoke pouring forth from a lit pipe. I'm sat next to "J" in the dimly lit booth, she holding my left hand clasped in hers nested in her lap, in a private embrace hidden from view under the table. Periodically, I will exchange my left hand for my right hand so that I may place my left hand on the small of her back, right at the point where the soft concave arch rounds out into buttock. Through the soft fabric of her blue floral-print cotton summer-weight dress, I can feel the slight depressed edge of the thin waistband of her panties. With a nonchalant air, I allow my fingers to play over this soft ridge with gentle ease. She smiles for my friends at the table. She smiles at me. It will be the closest thing to sexual intimacy we will ever share.

In early September, 2001, I have a job and a "girlfriend", albeit, with quotation marks (though I am not aware of the quotation marks 'til later). Money freely pours forth from ATM machines located throughout the five boroughs, and smiles grace the faces of all those who call those boroughs home. The sky is a shade of blue its' blueness has not been witnessed before. The chirping of MetroCards being run through turnstiles fills the air like joyous flocks of birds singing out songs of peace. It's the dawn of another wonderful Autumn in New York. Good morning, sunshine. Good morning, Empire State. Have you your personal belongings? Next stop, Rector Street.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Part VII: The Revisionist Tide - Various Colleagues and Friends

I'm sitting on a train. I'm exiting the station. I'm stepping out onto the sidewalk. It is 9:05 AM. I am now leaving the borough of Queens, leaving the section known as Long Island City. It is an industrial area full of warehouses, storage facilities, bakeries, television studios, car parks, and increasingly, housing in the form of condominium developments. It is 8:26 AM. I am standing on the Astoria BLVD. platform and the lightly condensed clouds of breath that surround my head are making their way into my mouth and nose, filling up my body with the coolness of early morning. I am running late. It is 8:10 AM. I am walking to the station down the long wide stretch of road that is Astoria Boulevard, walking from an apartment I share with a college student enrolled as a freshman at Hunter. She is asleep in her room. It is 7:55 AM. I am getting ready for work, showering, dressing. I'm waking up to the sound of sharp electronic chirps coming from a clock radio that sits on the floor next to my frameless futon mattress. It is 6:40 AM. It is a beautiful morning in New York City. It is the eleventh day of the ninth month of the 2001st year and I am waking up in the section of Queens known as Astoria.

I am in a gay bar in the West Village that reminds me of the dance club where the television show Club MTV was filmed in the late 1980's. It is cavernous, with multiple rooms of various size serving different purposes depending on the night and the particular clientele in that night. There is one large room where the main dance floor resides, there is a raised stage off of this dance floor where shows are performed: drag shows, musical performances by aging gay icons, and various "beauty" contests involving barely legal muscular Chelsea boys stripping nude are among the most popular events staged here. This room is surrounded by a balcony level, small tables and chairs placed against the railings so groups may get drunk and entertain themselves by judging all those below them. The walls are all lighted squares of white translucent plexiglass, large mirrors, and inset television monitors. Musical video promo clips from obscure European DJs and dance music acts, interspersed with the occasional Madonna and 1980's new wave or club classic, play on these TVs. Nights are themed, so certain nights will see Broadway clips emanating from the multitudinous screens, while other nights will cut the music with gay-themed clips from television sit-coms. The bathroom is one large black-tiled room ringed by urinals, and above each urinal there is a small TV screen inset into the wall. Broadcast on these screens are surveillance images of the bar, dance floor, and other club areas, intercut with clips from hardcore gay pornography. The bartenders are all muscular, gym-toned, and spray-tanned, and all are wearing only ribbed tank-tops and underwear, generally boxer-briefs. This is the standard uniform for all bar employees. There are no women working in this bar and there is a strict quota of how many women will be allowed in the bar. One bartender refers to it as the "hag limit".

There are no women in the bar tonight. I am sitting at the large main floor bar next to "H", a friend of mine who works with me in Lower Manhattan. He is older than me by about 15 years or so. He enjoys picking up boys who've just come of legal drinking age. He is a funny and intelligent man, well-read, educated, traveled. He lives alone in The Bronx in the home where he grew up. He works in the cubicle third down from mine. I am a temp doing data entry. I was informed recently this assignment will end without producing an offer of full-time employment. My friend has been working to try and find me a position in another department. We are sitting at the large main floor bar drinking very strong mixed drinks consisting of gin as the main ingredient. It is happy hour and the drink specials are two for one. "H" is a friend of mine. I am telling him of my meeting with "J", a woman I am romantically interested in, who until just an hour ago was also my Japanese tutor. It is a weekday evening, around 6:30 PM, some time in August. Kylie Minogue is playing onscreen, and Gus Gus, and Pet Shop Boys, and a clip from "Frasier".

It is summer in New York City and it is hot, mildly humid, and still very bright outside. I am sitting in an enclosed outdoor plaza somewhere near Fifth Avenue, near Mid-Town, sitting with "J" who is my Japanese tutor. She is young, younger than me by a year, and she is very petite, slight of frame, with skin the color of a soft white light bulb, and short black hair. She is wearing a sleeveless summer dress in burgundy covered with some type of small floral print. She has a lightweight black cardigan sweater tied around her waist for wearing in overly air-conditioned stores and subway cars. She is Japanese, a classically trained pianist, working as a language tutor to pay rent on a small studio apartment near the Empire State Building she shares with another Japanese girl. She spent time working on a cruise ship that routed around Alaska. She is beautiful, natural, unassuming, and further serves as proof of my continued attraction for women who do not wear cosmetic products. I have been taking lessons from her for the past two months. We meet once a week after work. Tonight is our usual lesson night. It is around 5:45 PM. We are talking about our friendship, skirting around the subject of our mutual attraction to each other. She says she wants to take me out for a belated birthday dinner. My birthday was a month ago in July. I am informing her that I have just learned my temp assignment will soon end and I will have to stop taking lessons for the foreseeable future as I will not be able to afford to pay her until I'm working again. She is surprised, concerned for me, outwardly expresses disappointment. "J" is a friend of mine I hope to turn into a lover. It is 5:34 PM.

I'm in a restaurant off of Fifth Avenue near Carnegie Hall. I am at a long table around which are seated people I do not know and have not met before this evening. They are friends of "J", some students of hers, some friends of students of hers, some boyfriends and girlfriends of friends of students of hers. "J" sits across the table from me and down one seat to my right. She has short black hair, but tonight it has somehow grown at least six inches and hits her shoulders. I mention to her how impressed I am at how quickly she has grown her hair since our lesson three days prior. She smiles gracefully at my compliment, and, as if to school me, put me in my place, and seduce me simultaneously, says to me, "That is the mystery of woman." It is after 10 PM, Friday, August 3rd.

I'm sitting in CAMI Hall, a recital hall located in the Carnegie Hall building. I'm dressed in a suit that fit me perfectly before I moved to New York. Around me are the friends and relatives of those who are performing pieces in tonight's program. The program consists of several violinists, several vocalists, and several pianists, of which, one of them is performing now. It is "J" and she appears almost dwarfed by the glossy black hugeness of the Steinway she is sitting at passionately pounding out a Chorale Prelude by J.S. Bach. There is so much ferocity to her performance it occurs to me that if the piano weighed just one ounce less, it would find itself being shoved offstage with each note. There is a seriousness, a solemnness to her face I have never witnessed prior, a visage that completely disappears, replaced by her usual lightness when she takes her bows upon completing her piece. It is 8:40 PM.

There are things that happen, things that involve people who are now gone and who can never actually exist in their entirety; they must be edited down, cleaned up, made to fit into the accepted parameters set up by those around them, protected from the consequences of truth. I keep certain promises and only break the ones where I will be the only victim. There are little things that can survive, like the feeling of her body weight on top of me as we lay in each others arms in a dark empty room. There is a television on in the room next door, emanating a murmur of scattered laughter and advertisement jingles. This is taking place in New York City in the early Spring of 2001.

They know about each other. They are having dinner together and I am sitting in my apartment watching television news in a foreign language and I am knowing they are having dinner together. I came home from work, walking towards the apartment, down a street in Queens, and ran into her walking towards the station I had just left. We exchanged the usual "what and where to" and she was coy but not clever, so I knew what was happening. I walked the rest of the way home with that feeling one has when they feel they have been caught doing something they've sworn they were not doing, a small sense of dread of consequence. Though, only small because what I've done is not really wrong, and two of us are in on the joke. It is a joke, after all, though one that will prove in short time to end with a most unfunny punch-line. It is nearing the end of a long New York City Winter, early 2001. All Winters can be described as harsh, this one was particularly cruel, more so for certain others. One of whom, is sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan right now waiting for her dinner companion to arrive from Queens.

I feel sorry for every single woman I have ever fallen in love with, doubly so for any woman who has found herself in the unenviable position of reciprocating those same feelings. Luckily, this has not happened often. As of this writing, I can think of only three women who, for however short a time it ended up lasting, were in love with me more than I them. One of these unfortunate incidents happened during my senior year of high school and involved a freshman on the girl's basketball team, so I refuse to count this because any love under the age of 18 is ridiculous. I can think of only two women who were in love with me more than I them. One of these unfortunate women ended up fostering a most unhealthy attachment to me that stemmed from a psychotic fear she had that she was destined to die single and unloved, all because she had recently reached the age of 30. She was under the misguided notion I was her last chance. I refuse to count her because I believe her love to have been fueled by her mental anguish. I can think of only one woman who was in love with me more than I her. She is now happily married to a man considered to be greatly superior to me by those who consider these types of things. I refuse to count her because she has now so obviously found a greater love. As of this writing I can think of no women who were in love with me more than I them.

I am sitting on the rim of a large stone fountain, itself situated across from the Plaza Hotel just off the entrance to Central Park. Seated next to me is "M", a girl who represents a pattern in my life, one of a more common occurrence, that of being the recipient of a pedestal upon which she will sit atop, gladly, looking out beyond me. It is something like the waves of the ocean that lap up onto the sands of the coast; if one sits and stares at these surging tides, it is said, over the course of centuries patterns will emerge, one will see the same waves crash in the same exact way, and, as they recede, leave behind the same darkened stains across the land. Everything that seems random and without structure ultimately will prove to be part of it's own pattern. Patterns are just decorative repetitions, most unhealthy. "M" is a crashing wave in the form of a beautiful 19-year old girl, at this moment sharing the rim of a large stone fountain with me, on a cool summer evening, both of us staring off into the mouth of the park, both of us moving our mouths to form unremarkable sounds we will not remember as words. This is the type of conversation former lovers have when they both know the evening is over, that it will end for one of them differently than hoped, one not knowing how to gracefully put the pin to the balloon, the other not wanting to let go of the string keeping that balloon from flying away. It has been a year, almost to the day, since we were lovers. Now, sitting side by side with the gentle splashing sound of water directly behind us and the wide yawn of manicured city forest before us, that time is only a quaint memory of youthful lust for her, and a bitter taste of soured hope for me. It is the evening of my birthday, July 20, 2000. "M" is a girl I know, who may or may not be a friend, who once may or may not have been in love with me, who once shared a bed with me in San Francisco; a year ago, a side note of another vacation. In a few minutes, she will enter the lobby of the Plaza only to have the doorman procure a taxi from the queue for her. I will watch her slip into the back of the cab, watch it pull off down Fifth Avenue. I will never see her again.

"M" had made promises. She had promised she was going to tell me she loved me and flew half way around the world so as to say it face to face in the greatest city on Earth. It would be very simplistic to say she broke this promise, because to keep this promise would have required her to lie, and lies are worse than broken promises, especially lies about love. A credit to "M" is that she always was honest. It can't be held against her that her truths came sharp as knives. We all have burdens to bear and this is hers.

It is early evening, just before 7 PM, in Mid-Town Manhattan as I approach the theatre at Studio 54. "M" is waiting outside the glass doors that still bear the famous logo of the long-defunct club. As she takes notice of my arrival, and our eyes meet, a smile that is all youthful energy and teenaged sexuality, all teeth and upper gums, beams brightly out at me, cleaving me into two bifurcate halves of boy and man, lust and need. She is dressed in dark denim jeans and a purple sleeveless top; a small lightweight black cardigan sweater folded over her crossed arms serves as a balancing parallel to the stick straight brush strokes of jet black ink that frame her face, fall past her shoulders, and end sharply over her chest. She is pure feminine seduction and has probably been handed business cards and bad lines from passing men several times whilst waiting on my arrival. This, too, is a burden for her to bear, but one she secretly revels in.

After we hug, "M" hands me the large softly colored envelope in which is my birthday card. We are here tonight to see "Cabaret", the tickets to which were a birthday gift from another woman, one who loves me with a severity built out of desperation, so it does not count. She bought these tickets for us, but I ended our relationship shortly after, out of recognition of her failing mental state, and in preparation for "M's" arrival and promised declaration of love. Now, we enter the theatre on tickets bought and paid for by another woman. Such is how exploitation and advantage works. It's OK, though, because I'm being used, too. "M" is here for the show, mostly. One can't come to New York without taking in a show, after all, and how much better it is when one does not have to pay for it with more than the $2.99 of a birthday card. "M" is 19 years old and this is the most narcissistic age in the life of beautiful women. She is merely taking advantage of pleasures and experiences she can get out of men who are all too willing to offer them up for the chance to fulfill their objectification of her. I'd like to think of all of these men she meets while traveling I am the only one who truly loves her. This may even be so, but it may also stand to reason that other men feel this way, too. All she has to do is pout her lips and furrow her brow in an expression of regretful sadness, an expression that says she is wounded as much by her own actions as you are, and any man believes anything she says, any man believes he is the only special one, the one who truly loves her. We are just victims of wanting something we can't have; the love and affection of the type of woman who needs and requires neither of those things.

I'm riding the N train back to my apartment. It is some time after 3 AM early Sunday morning and the car I'm riding in is empty. I have just left a group of people behind in Brooklyn, a group of people I will never see again. They are not friends, only people I had met tonight through a girl I had met this afternoon after I lit her cigarette outside of H&M on Fifth Avenue. She is from Arizona or New Mexico, is of Korean descent, and has a name that speaks of both her adoptive parents and her hippie Southwest upbringing. She is in town for the weekend, and has a boyfriend back in Tempe or Santa Fe. She will be starting University in the Fall and is out visiting friends who've already made the move to loft spaces in Williamsburg. We all hung out in a dive bar near their apartment and shared an eightball of coke, taking turns snorting it off our house keys in the small single-stall restroom just off the pool table. One of them asked me how I felt about Australians. When I answered that I had never personally known any Australians, and have nothing against them, he looked at me with disgust, ranted on about how horrible Australians are, then stormed across the room to the bar. Later, he would call a group of people at another table "faggots". I said my goodbyes to the hippie-chick and departed for the L train. Now on the empty N train, I'm dancing down the middle aisle, swinging around the poles, humming an incomprehensible song, staring out the windows as the lights of the city flicker by. Out in the distance are the landmarks of the Manhattan skyline, marking off the various districts; Rockefeller Plaza in the 50's, the Chrysler in the mid-40's, Empire State in the mid-30's, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. It is a beautiful, quiet, still, warm early morning in the early Summer of 2000. I'm alone on a subway car, swaying above the empty streets. If there is an afterlife beyond death, then it is this moment here, in a forever night, in an infinite existence of peaceful stillness. There will be no death and Heaven is a small apartment in Queens.

I'm sitting in a gay bar in the West Village with "H", summer of 2001. It is the third night this week. A friend of his, a young man "H" recently started sleeping with, asks why I am so amenable to being dragged out to gay bars by various colleagues and friends. I tell him that I don't enjoy the hassle of straight bars, the expectant need of having to be a straight man. He tells me I'm just afraid of women. We drink our hi-ball glasses filled with vodka. He is wrong. I'm not afraid of women. I'm secretly afraid of all people, and I enjoy being around people who are also secretly afraid, as most homosexual men are. It is August of 2005 and I am staying at "H"'s house while I look for a new apartment in Queens. It is near 3 AM. The door to my bedroom swings open, "H" stands in the frame with arms out. He is wearing his fringed tallit shawl and has the leather tefillin prayer boxes tied around both arms. He enters the room with boisterous Hebrew. He is extremely drunk. He stops suddenly as he catches sight of himself in the mirror that hangs over the dresser. "H" is sitting on the end of the bed, crying. He has confessed to me drunkenly before that if he could do it all over again, and had a choice, he would be heterosexual.

I'm sitting in a gay bar. I'm sitting in an empty cubicle. I'm sitting in a Human Resources office. I'm sitting in a classroom. I'm sitting in a cab, on a subway, on an airplane. I'm watching out over Manhattan. I'm watching a clip from "Frasier". I'm watching her pound out Bach on a gigantic grand piano. I'm holding a pair of scissors. I'm holding a mechanical pencil. I'm holding a curved hip ruler. I'm holding a stack of manila file folders. I'm holding her wrist as she is clenching a pair of scissors. I'm holding her face in my hands, her tears wetting my arms. She is shaking uncontrollably. She is shaking uncontrollably. She is shaking uncontrollably. I'm holding her in my arms for the last time. I'm holding a bottle of champagne as we run through the streets of Brooklyn, in and out of subways and taxis. It is the first hours of the new millennium in New York City and it is all one big opportunity. The city is open for business and nothing is impossible and their is an endless stream of tomorrows and forevers waiting behind every smile and every kiss. We only look like adults on the outside. It is 2009 and I'm opening a door I don't like opening. I'm in a hotel room in San Francisco. I'm vomiting into a toilet. I'm peeling away pieces of my life, ridding anything I can no longer stomach, so I never have to look at them again. I'm leaving myself with only that which is necessary to continue from this point on. Their are those people who are no longer needed and those who were never important at all. If I am friends with you now I will not be in five years. If I am friends with you in five years I do not know you now. We are all washed over and the waves cleanse. I'm leaving things loose so that they will be carried off. I'm writing a love letter to a New York that no longer exists. I'm holding my stomach. I'm holding a time sheet. I'm holding a cup of coffee. I'm watching a heart break in front of me. I'm watching a building collapse. I'm watching 2,600 people die.

It is a beautiful morning in New York City. It is the eleventh day of the ninth month of the 2001st year and I am waking up in the section of Queens known as Astoria. I'm waking up to the sound of sharp electronic chirps coming from a clock radio that sits on the floor next to my frameless futon mattress. It is 6:40 AM. I am getting ready for work, showering, dressing. I am walking to the station down the long wide stretch of road that is Astoria Boulevard, walking from an apartment I share with a college student enrolled as a freshman at Hunter. She is asleep in her room. It is 7:55 AM. I am standing on the Astoria BLVD. platform and the lightly condensed clouds of breath that surround my head are making their way into my mouth and nose, filling up my body with the coolness of early morning. I am running late. It is 8:10 AM. I am now leaving the borough of Queens, leaving the section known as Long Island City. It is an industrial area full of warehouses, storage facilities, bakeries, television studios, car parks, and increasingly, housing in the form of condominium developments. It is 8:26 AM. I'm sitting on a train. I'm exiting the station. I'm stepping out onto the sidewalk. It is 9:05 AM.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Anatomy of the Re-Brand

The concept of peopleareobjects has been with me for awhile now, through many incarnations of personality and many ebbs in career. I have come to realize that it now, in lieu of any actual product or tangible thing, represents a core concept around which my life has, for better and for worse, like a crystal in solution, formed.

To go along with this, it became necessary to reassess the look and feel of all of this nothingness. Hence we bring you:

peopleareobjects Proudly Presents: Anatomy of The Re-Brand

The images featured here consist of pictures I took several years ago whilst I was the lead fashion stylist in the Juniors department for Macy's Union Square in San Francisco, CA. The pictures are of actual mannequins I styled during my last few months at this location. These pictures were taken with a Holga camera shooting 120 medium format film, using only the store lighting. I have blurred them in post to hide any brand labels or other obvious identifying markers. There is no intent to endorse any brand or label that may be discerned by knowing viewers. The pictures were chosen based solely on aesthetic preferences.

The texts featured atop each image are the actual yearbook inscriptions from three different girls I attended junior high school with. They are uncensored and unedited, excepting phone numbers and last names. None of these girls were "girlfriends", though one was a serious infatuation of mine.
I have recently come across these yearbooks in my mother's home and have spent more hours than could possibly be healthy going through them, studying the grainy photos of burned and/or decayed bridges. That's what they are now, no longer friends, crushes, acquaintances, only missed opportunities, regrets, and long shadows.

They are also mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not in contact with any one I attended junior or senior high school with, however, through various social media applications I have seen the tell-tale signs of marriages and children: hyphenates and baby picture-avatars. We are all collectively in our 30's, with the Freshmen now preparing to enter this demographic group, so it really should be no surprise to find these ex-classmates, especially the women, to be in states of wedded and parental bliss. This is the natural order of things, after all, and by this age it is expected that certain milestones will have been reached, certain life markers ticked off the grand to-do lists. Yet, it did hit me with much surprise to see certain few of these cheerleaders and drama students removed now from the analogue monochrome of a yearbook to the digital color of adulthood, holding husband and/or child in hand.
Some history, if you will.

Upon graduating from high school, I found myself lacking any sense of what was supposed to come next. The plan had always been for University to follow, but this seemed somehow now a far off and misplaced idea to me. After two years of false starts in various community colleges near my parental home, I picked up and moved to the big city of San Francisco. Once removed from the flatlands of Southern California, bridges to the past became tenuous, at best. Attempts were made at friendship maintenance, but I was no longer in any shape to participate in such activities with full heart. It was so much easier to just lose things than to work at keeping them. Everything was included in this philosophy; books, clothes, apartments, jobs, photographs, documents, people. Friendship and love required work I was not adept at or qualified for in the least.

(For the record, I do not enjoy looking at this part of my life - and am greatly reducing it down to minimum recap - and truly consider it to be all but dead to me, and only write about these things now because it has become interesting to me at this particular time, when I find myself shoved so ingloriously off the life path by harsh economic climes. I do not much like who I was in the years following High School, nor in my first years in San Francisco. I have often felt that my life did not truly start until yesterday. Life is a perpetual yesterday and a forever tomorrow.)

I do not have children. I have never been married or engaged. I have had very few lovers and those of note were few and far between, and quite short-lived. I have never owned a car or real estate or property of any kind. All my jobs have been entry-level, temporary, freelance, or middle-management, nothing of any real power, prestige, or monetary wealth. I have no wedding band, no birth certificates with the inked footprints of a newborn, no pink slips or deeds, no award certificates with stamped gold foil accents, no honors, no spoils, no notched bedposts. To all casual observers, previous girlfriends, and me own poor widowed mother, my life has been a seemingly endless wreck against the berms and traps of the obstacle course of adulthood. It would seem I have nothing to show for my journey, no trophies with which to fill the glass cases or mount along the wood paneled halls. Now, in my early 30's, peering back over 15 years of life experience, of lost jobs, lost friends and lovers, lost homes and cities, of the things that make up life, I come across the hyphenated married name of a former cheerleader or the picture of a five-year old who calls a former drama student "mom", and I realize that those things I thought I lost were not lost. They were things I never had.
Once upon a time I had an interesting story for how I came up with the moniker peopleareobjects. I have mentioned this before and cast it aside by stating that it no longer was of interest to me, that I could no longer remember it, or that it, upon closer inspection proved to no longer be very interesting at all. The truth is I remember when the words formed in my head, when I wrote them out as one connected word, an idea of human objectification not seen as exploitative but as beautiful truth. Reading over these yearbook inscriptions and looking at these oddly beautiful pictures of eerily realistic mannequins dressed in the low-level junior wear of a major department store brought all of this together.

There is no product. There is only the idea of the product.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Part VI: Coffee Stirrers and Fax Cover Sheets

I have trouble with the little details. I often invert numbers, days and years. I can't remember if Fitzgerald was 40 when he died in '44 or if he was 44 when he died in '40. It's one I'm constantly forgetting, though, I constantly look it up. I do the same with my father's birthday, confusing the month number with the day. Now, I can't remember if it was the 34th floor or the 37th floor my cubicle was located on. I had only worked in this position for a week, and it was a holiday-shortened week, at that. Either way, it was a long way up.

I was 25 years old in 2001. I know this because I was born in 1976, not because I have any memory of being 25 in 2001. I have discovered a severe lack of overt sentimentality in myself. After years of moving between the West and East coasts, from apartments to hotels to friends couches, of leaving in the middle of the night to avoid officers with eviction orders, I have learned the importance of being completely unattached to objects and assorted possesions. Dishware left in cabinets. Books left on shelves. Clothes left hanging in closets. The things of life which will not fit in an overhead compartment, instead, shoved unceremoniously into large industrial garbage bags, left on the curb at 3 o'clock in the morning. I have learned the real truth is that you can never really own something physically, everything is temporary in some way. The only way to hold onto anything is in memory, and in this, as established, I am especially weak in.

I am attached emotionally to very little, and of very little I will admit being attached to. Numbers are not something in which I put effort into remembering, nor bestow any importance upon. Having no memory of being 25 years old in the year 2001 is akin to me having no memory of being 3 years old in 1979. The numbers are meaningless, just arbitrary markers of time, simple units of value, like inches or grams, or floors or blocks, or the age of a dead author. They don't stick. They can be looked up, again and again. They've been written down, recorded by smarter men than I.

I often say it was 10 blocks between the World Trade Center and the office hi-rise I worked in as an administrative assistant, but that has only ever been an estimate based on nothing more than just a feeling I had. Everything feels like 10 blocks in Lower Manhattan. I know that it was a reasonable walking distance because I would go there on lunch breaks with a colleague friend of mine. I have since occasionally taken to counting the blocks on a map, but this is an exercise that serves only to satisfy futile curiosity, and that is like feeding a hunger that knows no satiation. There is no answer to be found in the number of blocks. There is no real question that would be served by any such answer, anyway.

Rector Street station is about 4 blocks south of the Twin Towers. My office building is about 10 blocks south of the Towers. My cubicle is located on the 34th or 37th floor. I am mathamatically 25 years old. Fitzgerald was 44 years old when he died in 1940. My father was born on April 11th, 1918. The five boroughs of New York City are populated by roughly 8.3 million people. I will be unemployed for 10 months following today. It is just past 9 o'clock in the morning. It is the eleventh day of the ninth month of the 2001st year.

Every cubicle in every office building consists of the same general layout of upholstered wall units, industry-grade countertop desk, and cabinet/drawer system. Fastened to the underside of the desk, generally in the space designated for the office chair, there is a single, long shallow sliding drawer. Open this drawer and one will find it divided inside into various small compartments and shallow wells and basins by a caddy of some sort. There will be a long concave well up front designed for pens and pencils, two to three basins for paper clips, binder clips, and rubber bands, several deep boxed wells for hi-liters and Sharpie markers, and assorted other divots for assorted other office tools. What also will be found in all such drawers will be some, if not all, of the following: loose packets of sugar and/or sugar substitute; short brown or red hollow plastic coffee stirrers, some single-barrelled, some double-barrelled; loose packets of herbal tea and several packets of regular Lipton tea; half-empty containers of Tic-Tacs or other types of breath mints; packs of gum containing only one last stale, brittle stick; various balled up pieces of foil gum wrappers; clear-cellophaned red-and-white striped peppermints from a local Chinese take-out.

In the filing cabinet to the left or right, there will be one standard-size manila folder, unlabelled, stuffed with the take-out menus of all local eateries. These will include: several delis and sub-sandwich shops; several pizzarias and italian food take-outs; three to four Thai noodle shops; three to four Chinese take-outs; an Indian curry house; a sushi bar; a Middle Eastern vegatarian shop; a juice bar; and several bakeries, one for croissants and danish for morning meetings, another for cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and going-away parties.

Another file cabinet drawer will contain a pair of scuffed black pumps and/or a pair of white running trainers. In another drawer will be a half-eaten box of Ritz crackers or a half-eaten, crimped up tube of saltines; another drawer, a box of single-serving packets of instant oatmeal; another drawer, an unopened box of some type of feminine hygeine product. Amongst all of this will be drawers and files containing the various stuff needed for daily activities: FedEx and UPS shipping labels; expense account forms; fax cover sheets; telephone call log forms; yellow college-ruled writing pads; catalogues for various office supply companies; boxes of blank white mailing labels and file tab stickers; small plastic cartons of multi-colored dots; large shrinkwrapped blocks of Post-It Notes; boxes of staples, paper clips, pens and pencils; empty three-ring binders of various size; padded envelopes of various size; and reams of standard-size printer paper, some in cream, yellow, pink, or grey, but most in bright white.

On the desk will sit a black rectangular multi-line phone with the speed-dial tabs only partially filled in; a computer screen, keyboard, and mouse, the latter sitting on a frayed black and gray foam mouse pad; a stapler that jams every fifth staple; and a wire or smokey black plastic pencil cup overstuffed with mostly non-working pens, pencils and markers. All of the pencils will have there erasers completely worn down to the metal band. Most of the pens will be promotional pens stamped with the logos and brand names of either pharmacuetical companies or hotel chains, at least one being Marriott. In front of the keyboard will be a gelatinous foam wrist pad with slight sweat stains corresponding to the placement of one's wrists. The keyboard, phone, and monitor frame will be slightly discolored due to years of dust and contact with oily skin. You will sit at this desk, stare at this screen, type on this keyboard, talk on this phone, and you will develope a habit of repeatedly lifting one end of the wrist pad and releasing it producing a satisfying slapping noise against the desktop. This will be your job for anywhere from one week to one year, depending on the companies eagerness to higher a permanent replacement. This is your life as the middle-child temporary office employee. Welcome.


I am staring up into the sky, staring through a jungle of towering glass and steel, of bricks and concrete, of architecture both turn-of-the-century and new-millennial. There are massive plumes of black smoke rushing out from the Towers into the glossy smooth Pantone blue sky. It is snowing; tiny specks of ash and paper flutter in odd gentle swirls, seeming to melt as they hit the street. The air is crisp and cool, the type of cool that can only exist before Noon. Everything feels closed in, stopped, quiet and loud. I look around to see I am not alone. We are all standing out here, on the sidewalks, in the street, all looking up. I think some people are talking, shouting, shaking their heads, holding their hands to their mouths in disbelief. I think some people break their stares and move on, continue on to their offices, to their jobs, move on with the rest of their day. I think I am one of these people for I am walking to the office. I am somehow reminded that I am still running late. I'm walking and it's important. Right now, work, jobs, time sheets, coffee, voice mail, filing, the office banter of the early morning, is still important.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Part V: This Morning Was Uneventful

The weather is always described as being unseasonably warm, as if that early in September is expected to already be tinged by winter. It's Autumn in New York and the air feels clean and sharp, biting everything playfully like a lover waking you up in the morning through some sensual form of torture. It's agonizingly beautiful and makes one's skin feel new as if freshly revealed out from under layers of dead earth and ash. It's not unseasonably warm, but just the type of weather one sees in New York more often than they care to recognize. It's more fun to complain about the freezing axe of winter or the humid club of summer than it is to tout the days that rock the cradle of the five boroughs and send the crying babies into a sense of well-being. It is not unseasonably warm, but the type of weather that makes life worth living.

I don't remember much about that early morning, mostly because I'd spent it like any other weekday morning for the past 8 months, getting ready for my temporary office job. Morning routines are that type of thing that is both memorized in strict detail and instantly forgotten once it comes to end. The muscle memory remembers the motions of teeth-brushing and shirt-buttoning, but the brain never records anything. When asked what one has done in the morning, one generally answers simply, "I got ready for work." This particular morning, something has happened to jar this pattern slightly for I remember doing everything five minutes later than it would normally have needed to be done to allow me to be at work on time.

At this time, in my early 20's, I was fond of setting my morning alarm at 6:40. I don't remember why now, but I had an elaborate reasoning for this odd designate. Everything was planned out from this asymmetrical hour so that I would hit other specifically designated activities at specifically designated times. I allotted the perfect amounts of time for showering, dressing, and walking to the Astoria Blvd. Station so that I would be walking to the North platform end in time to enter the last train car on the same train, and sit with the same people every morning. For all of its vibrancy and electricity, New York is still a towering industrialized mess of people who do the same exact things in the same exact way every single day for their entire lives.

I have already decided that stopping for coffee will now not happen, as its allotment of time must be sacrificed for the greater good of the overall day's agenda. I also realize that a woman I admire every morning, who enters the N line at 30th ST, will now not be not noticing my subtle passive stares from across the car, as she will be on an earlier train. I know she works in high-finance, too, as is evidenced by her smart black pencil skirts, white blouses, and her exiting the train at Rector St. Station, also my stop. I often follow a few feet behind her up the station stairs to afford myself views of her calves.

She does not enter at 30th St. Station this morning, as expected, so now I search for other women to fantasize about. Some people read the Times, I imagine myself having sex with any number of secretaries, personal assistants, fashion designers, sales clerks, real estate agents, drama majors, and art students who enter and exit along the NRW's long, weaving route. These are the games lonely people play.

There is nothing eventful about any of this at all. There is nothing that separates this morning from any other morning. Nothing happens that makes this particular morning subway commute any more or less interesting than any other commute on any other day. The train empties like a ship with a leak, slowly losing passengers as we get closer to Brooklyn, until there are only two of us left. There is myself and another gentleman. We are approaching Cortlandt St. Station. There is nothing eventful about any of this at all.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we will be skipping Cortlandt Street due to a fire situation in the station. Next stop will be Rector St. Again, we will be skipping Cortland Street due to a fire situation. Our next stop will be Rector Street. Rector Street next stop."

This is the matter-of-fact announcement made by the train conductor and my initial reaction is one of relief. I'm going to make up a few minutes. I may even now have time for coffee.

Our train slows as we enter Cortlandt Street station. The underground tube of tile and concrete is filled with smoke. The feeling is immediately one of bizarre disquiet coupled with rubberneck curiosity, as though we have entered an amusement park ride in which, at any moment, animatronic mannequins will emerge from within the black clouds dressed as end-of-the-world zombies and the walls will shake around our tram in perfectly timed and choreographed movements of theatrical violence. Seconds pass and the echoing buzz-saw grinds of the train wheels turn into a white noise; the gentle rocking of the snaking car disorients as we lazily wobble through the asphyxiated chamber. It becomes clear that this is more than just a trash can fire, still it is not serious.

Out of the station, back into the tunnel, next stop Rector St.

We enter the station and both myself and the other gentleman exit the train. He is tapping on his Palm Pilot. As we make our way to the station stairs, this man turns to me and says, "It hit the building." There is amazement in his voice, a nonchalant disbelief at what he has just learned, that comes across in his broken statement, this non-sequiter with unassigned pronoun. "It was a plane." He turns back to his phone. I don't respond verbally, just nod with a smile, realizing then he is referring to the "fire situation" we have just passed under. We continue on towards the stairs, the two of us joined now by other financial district stragglers from other cars on the train.

Two weeks before this, a man piloting a paramotor, a small single-propeller craft, managed to entangle his parachute around the torch of the Statue of Liberty while attempting to land on it to perform a stunt bungee jump. This was not unusual, for New York landmarks have always been targets for stunts by publicity-hungry thrill seekers, and this is what immediately entered my mind when told of this mysterious "it" that had hit a building above us. A small stunt-plane, single-prop, at the misguided hands of a idiotic adrenaline-junkie. Nothing more than this.

Our small sleep-weary, commute-addled group climbs the station stairs to greet a beautiful September morning in Lower Manhattan. As we emerge from the green-railed steps onto the street, our eyes are all immediately drawn up to the sky. It is the last Autumn morning in New York City.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Plates - Part I

"The Games We Played As Children"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"There Had Been Cake"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Things We Dreamed And Didn't Dream"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"I Understood What Was Meant Most Of The Time"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Hello, Kitty"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Vending Machine"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Our Letters Home All Went Unanswered"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Higher Now Than Ever Could Have Been Imagined"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

"Basic Shift, Mid-Thigh, Part-Time"
Acrylic, spray paint on canvas

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Part IV: Pretending To Not Already Be Dead - Interlude & Prologue

With a new roommate and a steady income thanks to low-level temporary office work, 2000 was ending on a calm note.

To be honest, there was a tremendous amount of personal turmoil due in part to the workings of two women who shall remain nameless. I find discussing or writing about relationships and sex from a personal perspective to be useless. I have not had enough of either to be able to discuss them intelligently, anyway, so adding my two cents in would be a tremendous waste of time for the reader.

The year would end with me taking on a position with an insurance investment firm in Lower Manhattan. Acquired through a temp agency, the job required me to sit in a completely empty cubicle and stare at a laptop for 8 hours while occasionally punching in numbers into a spreadsheet on this laptop. Due to this being considered a data entry position, I was paid rather well for essentially subjecting my right hand to carpel-tunnel syndrome on the ten-key. The best thing about this position is that I was usually left completely alone.

It is important to note that at this time I had been living in New York for just over a year and had made no real friends. My ex-girlfriend and I were fooling each other into thinking there was some type of post-relationship relationship left for us, but it was a double-edged delusion: she thinking that if she could keep herself in front of me it would eventually lead to our rekindling the romance, whilst I was doing my best to keep using the "friend" word; pushing her further away as I was fully aware of her ulterior motive. Severing ties completely would have required both of us to be stronger than we were. In New York it's nice to have someone to have brunch with on the weekends. Lonely people are weak that way.

I also became increasingly aware of her ever-more-pronounced psychotic attachment to me. I began screening all of my calls, purposely leaving my mobile phone in silent. After dinner one evening I checked my phone to find I had 87 missed calls, all from her, all made consecutively during the time I was eating. One of our last meetings together would involve a physical struggle and a pair of scissors.

At some point I bid farewell to one roommate and welcomed in another. She was younger than me, a college student starting at Hunter. She would invite friends from school over and we would cook big dinners, get high, and watch Letterman on Friday nights in Astoria. Everything we said was hilarious and all our dreams were right in front of us. And then we would wake up and it would be Saturday morning.

It was during this time I was deluding myself into believing I was still pursuing a career as a fashion designer. The working theory was that I was laying a foundation for my own business - my own signature fashion line, as it were - and so I would intermittently work on a business plan whilst sourcing materials and putting a small collection together. Mostly, however, I would go to the office, follow that with a few hours of happy hour drinking with a co-worker, follow that with dinner, and then back to Queens in time for Charlie Rose. This was Monday through Friday.

After nine months at the helm of the ten-key, the assignment ended without producing a full-time offer. A gentleman who I had befriended two cubicles down from my own took it upon himself to find an opening for me in another department as an executive assistant. Essentially, I would do the same work as before only now it would allow me the use of both hands across the entire keyboard. Ah, a promotion! I would start in this new role the first full week in September, 2001.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Part III: 10% Inspiration, 90% Humidity

The summer came and the humidity arrived.

I was living in Astoria, Queens in a two-bedroom first floor converted studio that was part of a six-unit walk-up. I turned one of the bedrooms into a design studio where I kept a large pattern table I constructed myself out of scrap wood from a local yard. If they didn't have to cut it, it would be free. The piece of plywood that would become the table top was so large, and I was without a car, that the lumber yard allowed me to take one of their rolling racks in order to get it home. I rolled the rack down seven blocks of Astoria Boulevard.

Errors and Omissions:
In the last paragraph I stated that I had a table I "constructed myself". The truth is that I constructed it with the help of my girlfriend at the time. She, too, accompanied me on the harrowing trip along Astoria BLVD. with the rusted-out rolling rack and the huge plywood slab. She owned a beautiful Makita cordless drill with full set of bits.

She was a fashion designer, living in Chelsea, working for **** ******. Out of respect for her privacy, I will not describe her further. She would be my first post-High School girlfriend. It would last only a few months. I was 23 years old.

The summer came and the humidity arrived, and the work dried up.

I found myself with only one client through the whole of summer; a junior wear line that had me knocking off H&M samples for them. I did their first through production patterns, sample fittings, and some technical packages. I did all the work by hand.

Patternmaking is something I always enjoyed and it's the one part of fashion design I still reserve the most respect for to this day. At this time, 2000 specifically, a good amount of patternmaking was still being done in-house domestically in New York City, and one could find freelance work fairly easily if one were not afraid to cold-call. Many small companies, such as the aforementioned junior wear line above, would use freelance patternmakers and technical designers exclusively. It was much more-cost effective to pay a freelancer by the piece than to have an in-house patternmaker there 50 hours a week. Most companies paid under the table, so books were kept clean, and everyone was happy.

The key to being a successful patternmaker is being fast and accurate. Deadlines are not negotiable and missing them is the best way to find yourself out of work. The phone just stops ringing. Most patterns are knock-offs and most designers work in simple silhouettes, since these are easier and, more importantly, faster for factory sewers to run-up. This means you don't have to be the best patternmaker your school produced, just a decent, competent one who understands fit, delivers clean understandable patterns, and delivers them on time.

This process differs from knitwear in that often I would be working with tangible garments. I made the first pattern based on a pair of jeans or a shirt from H&M or Strawberry or XOXO. This pattern would be made on white "dot" paper which is broad drafting paper slightly thicker than tracing paper. A sample garment would be cut out of this pattern and sewn up. Depending on the company this happened in the studio in New York or the pattern was mailed to India or China, along with the sample fabric, and the sample would be run up there and shipped back. The sample garment would be fit on the in-house fit model and I would make corrections accordingly. If the corrections were minor, the next pattern would often be the final production pattern, and this I would cut out of a heavy card stock. This final pattern would be sent off to the factory, along with technical drawings, spec sheets, and sizing rules, and various pattern layouts would be made. These are large grids the width of the fabric on which the pattern pieces are laid out like a puzzle in order to maximize fabric efficiency and keep waste to a minimum. From these thousands of garments are cut, sewn, tagged, bagged, and packed onto shipping containers bound for US ports. Eventually, they make there way to a rickety metal rounder or four-way rack in a retail store near you.


Near the end of the summer I had to take temporary office jobs to keep on top of rent and bills. I also broke down and started looking for a roommate. I took the pattern table out of the spare room and installed it in my bedroom. I kept my futon mattress folded under the table during the day, and I slept under the table at night.

I owned:
One futon mattress
One makeshift studio table
Two tall blue-glass drinking glasses (a housewarming gift from the ex-girlfriend)
A blue Casio digital wrist-watch (a birthday gift from the ex-girlfriend)
One large suitcase of clothing
One television set
Assorted patternmaking tools
One electric fan

The summer came and the humidity arrived, and the work dried up, and I was all alone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Part II: The New Millennium

New Years was uneventful. At a party we attended in Brooklyn the building owner shut the power off at midnight as a joke. Everyone laughed and shouted and five seconds later it was New York again.

The following week I started my first official job in the fashion industry. I began as an assistant designer for a very small cashmere knitwear company right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

Here are a few things to know about the fashion district and Midtown, in general: it looks, smells, and feels exactly like you imagine it will based on your perceptions from media depictions of NYC, regardless of what those perceptions are. The stories you hear about every back alley being crammed full of over sized trucks and of having to dodge men running down streets pushing rolling racks full of clothes is all true. Also, it is very likely there are parts of the pavement that have never been struck by direct sunlight.

What is the smell of Midtown Manhattan, by the way? Well in January , it's a combination of roasted nuts, hot dogs, car exhaust, dirty snow, urine, cigarette smoke, and human perspiration.

The line I worked for had a small showroom on the seventh floor somewhere on W. 37th street. There were only four of us in the office everyday; the president of the company, the showroom director, and the two designers. My first day, the president was absent, having taken a personal day; the showroom director sat in her office reading WWD; the other designer stared at her computer screen all day. I knew immediately that I hated this job.

AND NOW, peopleareobjects PROUDLY PRESENTS:

Start with a basic length, long-sleeve, crew neck fine-gauge sweater as your foundation silhouette. This is body number one.
Change the crew neck to a V-neck. Body number two.
Shorten the sleeves to 3-quarter length while keeping the crew neck. Body number three.
Shorten the sleeves to standard short-sleeve length and keep the V-neck. Call it the cashmere T-shirt. Body number four.
Change the original crew neck to a very deep V-neck, open the front and add three buttons. Now you have a basic cardigan. Body number five.
Keep the original crew neck body, open the front, add buttons down the full length, put this over a short-sleeve crew neck body. Now you have a basic twin-set. Body number six.
Change the original crew neck to a V-neck and now do it in a 2x2 rib knit. Body number seven.
Remove the sleeves entirely from your original body and scoop out the neck all around, lower in front than back. Call it the cashmere tank top. Body number eight.
Do this exact one in 2x2 rib knit. Body number nine.
Now keep going until you have at least 30 to forty different bodies to show at ENK and Intermezzo.
Offer all styles in up to 6 to 8 different colors from your seasons color chart.
Offer all styles in black and all but one or two in white.
Just for fun, add beads or sequins to one for the holiday season.

It is also important to understand that none of this is happening to any real sweater you have in front of you. No actual knitting is being done in the design office or showroom, or in New York City, for that matter. What you are doing are technical drawings of the various styles complete with specific measurements for each and every part of each design; the opening of the neck hole; the length of each sleeve; the opening of the sleeve at the wrist; the amount of ease around the waist, bust and hip; the space between each button hole; the height of the rib knit waistband and cuffs; and so forth and so on. Any special instructions are included, along with any sample trim (zippers, lingerie straps, sequins). These "spec" sheets are put together as "tech packs", translated into Chinese (or Vietnamese, Indian, etc.) and sent to the off-shore factory where the samples will be made.

Depending on the complexity of your samples and the number of children the factory employs, you can expect to receive your finished samples back in New York within a month. At this point, the samples are measured and checked against the original spec sheets to see exactly where ten-year old Suchin Lee erred when she got her finger caught in the machine. Corrections are made, angry emails and phone calls are traded, and eventually sweaters are ready to be sent off to a grateful nation.

After four months, I quit. During my tenure there I found out the other designer was a racist. She once commented that Chinese people all suffered from foul body odor and should go "back to China on the rafts they came here on." The showroom director was pregnant during this time and she continued to wear very high heels and remark to us how expensive they were. I once overheard her tell a client in the showroom, "Why would anyone ever go below 14th street?" I was already doing a solid amount of patternmaking as a freelancer, so I decided I didn't need to subject myself to such a cramped and uncomfortable environment. One day in April, I came in early, cleaned out my computer files and desk, and left a note on the presidents desk.

As I stepped out of the building into the cool Spring morning air, I felt free. I was completely unaware I had tipped over the first domino in what would prove to be a long and heavy chain of dominoes that is still falling to this day.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Part I: New York City, 1999 - Arrival

The plane banks right and drops down slightly. We are below Manhattan, circling the borrough on our descent into LaGuardia Airport. It is a bright morning, around 10 AM, a week before Thanksgiving, 1999.

To our immediate right is the entire length of Manhattan, stretching out seemingly without end. The morning sun shines its golden rays across the surface of the island, sparkling and glinting off of the glass and metal angles of the concrete blocks below giving everything the appearance of being carved out of gold; as if a giant Faberge egg has been opened revealing this beautiful strip of jeweled land held aloft as a promise.

The Statue of Liberty, the Twin Towers, Central Park, The Chrysler building, Empire State; all laid out like the miniature tokens of a board game.

The pilot does this on purpose, even announcing the extra pass.

This is my Ellis Island moment.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Some Attempt at Seriousness That You Should Not Expect Often

I enjoy the relationship between shadow and negative space.

What I don't enjoy is attempting to write or talk about this or anything else related to the work I do.

I'm not exactly sure why I am attracted to the images I choose nor am I exactly sure why I feel the need to devote a massive amount of time, energy and money to produce these images. They exist because I make them exist, and that is enough for me.

However, as I have started to show my work privately in studio, it has come to my attention that many people have questions and that these questions require answers.

Answers are always messy.

I started working with stencils while living in New York City in 2006. I gravitated toward this medium because I saw it as a simple and cost-effective way of transfering prints to textiles for use in a dress group I was designing at the time. As I began proofing the first stencils I discovered I enjoyed the solitary images against the clean white surface of the bristol board. To my eyes they needed nothing else. They were simply the shadows and the negative space, and it was right.

There are several artists working today who use stencils as their means of expression. Most of these artists, if not all, started out on the streets where they lived, utilizing the stencils as a media that allowed for elaborate images to be tagged very quickly, an important consideration when your work is illegal.

What sets my work apart immediately is that it has never (not once) appeared on the side of a public building, on a newspaper kiosk, a sidewalk, or the plywood sheets boarding up a construction site. My work has never been meant to be "graffiti". I have no interest in "tagging" or "bombing" in the middle of the night. With all due respect to graffitti artists, (and there are those who do deserve great respect) I personally see nothing romantic about traipsing around at night in bandanas and "vintage" Nike hightops, eluding the police in order to spray some tragically hip or trite stencil on the side of a post box.

There are two or three prominent stencil artists working in high-profile today. I do not need to mention them as anyone who knows anything about this type of work knows who they are already, and they do not need any more publicity from me. It is impossible to work with stencils, however, and not find oneself compared to them in some way. For me, the stencil is just a medium like oil paints or encaustic. The work may look similar at first glance, but as with anything, closer inspection reveals the true personality and true talent (or lack thereof) of the artist. I am not in competition with any other artist. There existence helps all.

As stated prior, I have no interest in talking about the subjects of my work. I believe they mean whatever it is the viewer wants them to mean. We react naturally and instantly to an image, whatever that image may be and however that image may find its way in front of us. It is a natural and organic reaction that takes place within the viewer, resonating for them based on their make-up, their personal baggage they carry around. It is not my job to interfere with that process.

I enjoy the relationship between shadow and negative space. When I am cutting a stencil I am doing nothing more than carving shadows, sculpting a person or image out of the shadows created by the crevices and bends that form the shape of things. When I place a stencil down on the blank paper or canvas to spray the image, I'm turning the blankness into negative space. This blankness now becomes infused with energy though it has not been altered itself.

I work with images of people. People are so infrequently surrounded by nothing, so dense are our environments and so cluttered our personal spaces. I enjoy pulling people away from their surroundings, taking them out of the framework of their messy lives. This leaves the subject open and raw, without the crutch of context to hold onto or hide behind.

As for the images themselves, I will leave them to be what they are. I will not explain my choices, nor do I feel I am even capable of doing so.

I hope this has answered any questions you may or may not have had.

Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Formal Introduction - Excerpts From 2006 Annual Report

"...peopleareobjects is an experiment. It is an ongoing project started in 2006 in New York City."

"This is an everchanging accident. This is a mistake waiting to happen.When all else has failed, peopleareobjects."

"...peopleareobjects is a community-based, multi-tiered, hyphenate commited to servicing the needs of the community..."

"In previous years peopleareobjects has been associated with many groups with interests rooted deep within the very fabric of the heart of the issues that matter most to the most people."

"Just last year alone peopleareobjects was responsible for more awareness among key demographic sectors than any other solution-based system, when compared using the Ranft-Leemer equation to re-allocate sum totals prior to the most recent inflationary period."



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prologue: What is all this really?

peopleareobjects is a name I created while living in New York City in 2006.

At one time I had a very interesting story as to the origin of the name and what it meant, but now the story no longer interests me so I don't tell it anymore.

It is also possible that I have no interesting story at all.

I can't remember now.

The idea came to me while I was a freelance stylist in the city. I spent hours working on all kinds of design projects: photo shoots, store displays, showrooms, windows; running around four of the five boroughs shopping, propping, renting, salvaging, painting, building. It was exhausting, sometimes frustrating, but always - at all times - very rewarding.

During this time I was also working on various personal projects, mostly a large stencil art series, as well as a small collection of women's clothing. I would always present any personal work under the moniker "peopleareobjects" as I absolutely hate designers who turn their name into a brand. Signature labels are best left to couturiers, and even then I have reservations.

This blog itself has been through several incarnations and I feel the name is appropriate in that it, too, represents something in constant flux. My life has not ever been stable for more than a few months at a time, so why should these things that represent it be any more stable? This blog and its name, my life and my work, are whatever I need them to be at any given time. peopleareobjects is a brand name without a real tangible product. It is just an idea.

The "it", of course, is whatever this is.

Which brings us back to our original question. What is all this really?

peopleareobjects is a name I created while living in New York City in 2006.

You see where this is going, right? Good.