Niente

As always, a trip to venice started with a group of Fabricanti running for the train. The ticket-checker said “you’re lucky!”

I added a paper mache Venetian mask to my DIY trash masterpiece and took the stage at some thumping party (Ainhoa told me to).

Carnival feels similar to mainstream American Halloween, except with a larger quantity of Venetian masks. I was unhappy to see a bunch of “Mexican” costumes. Other than that there were drunk people being impressed by cardboard costumes (they always are), and drunk people being impressed by my costume (they always are) and drunk people asking if I was a boy or a girl (they always do).

 

“Si una donna o uomo?”

“NIENTE!”

 

Ainhoa told a group of astronauts we were models from California, doing a campaign for Benetton. “Except me” I said “I’m modeling for Commes des Garcons” (making a joke  about my crow costume). The invited us to south Italy to smoke weed.

Everyone drank prosecco from a jug tied to a guy’s back. They invited us to the party at Arsenale. “Will it be actually cool?” I asked. It was around 23:30, the last train is at midnight. I announced my departure. Akanksha and Ainhoa begged me to stay, Alexis was ambivalent, Jenny was hungry.

I continued to walk toward Santa Lucia. Ainhoa climbed a gate. Jenny took pictures. We ran into Giorgia, dressed as a giraffe, wondering who would drive since her and all her friends were drunk.

I continued to walk toward Santa Lucia. Jenny and Alexis came with. We got falafel back in Treviso and the people there asked for our pictures (for their fashion blogs, I’m sure).

Rental Winter

Is the culture of cats different in other countries? Like, is does the way we treat cats across cultures affect the way kitties behave, say in meow style?

I worked all day on one of my patches with minimal distraction (save for constantly updating my Spotify playlist based on what was the most danceable). Whenever I solve problems it is in quick flashes of logic. More and more I realize how important taking breaks is for efficiency.

Cigarette-epiphany.

Today I finally raised the seat on Lil’ Jenny Bike. I sat with Isaac, Akanksha, and Antti at Mensa. Isaac asked me about my goth Rihanna cover band.

Like every day, I intended to do P90X in the morning and go to the post office. I almost convinced myself to go to the post office but ended up cleaning the kitchen and painting over a blood stain on the wall instead.

I have felt deeply tired, like almost unable to talk to people for the past few mornings. Last night I got 8 hours of sleep, not even a 3am mosquito interruption. Am I fending off sickness? It is because it is suddenly colder? Have I been doing something differently to my brain-body?

Alexis and I realized that the laundry detergent we have been using is actually dish detergent, which is a classic “I am living in a new country” kind of mistake. It is hard to get the dank smell out of laundry, even with the help of the heater. Maybe using the wrong kind of detergent is related.

I emailed Cutler and Gross twice about the size of screw needed for the model of sunglasses that I just spent a third of a month’s salary on (used, at > 50% off) and now cannot wear because the screw popped out. They did not give me an answer.

I ordered tiny screws for sunglasses repair and none of them worked.

The monitor I bought didn’t work and now I’m late shipping it back. I probably should contact them but they already gave me the address and I don’t want to be told no. I am worried that if I send it it will be very expensive and I won’t get a refund, or it will be impossible. I guess I’ll wait until Saturday to avoid being late for Fabrica.

The crotch of my Nudie Jeans is so blown out from biking that they are ~2 sexy 4 work~. I ordered a repair kit from them but the black denim patch is not as big as the hole. The Chronicles of Never jeans that I ordered from Grailed didn’t show up and Marta helped me track them down. Giovanni gave me a ride to the Villorba post office during a lecture from the Rotterdam kids (who were for some reason around). We got a coffee and I felt phresh for the rest of the day.

I could barely get the pants over my knees but determined that I was going to make them work and did what tru fash1 bros do and took a bath in them. They have stretched around the knees significantly. They are going to work and they are going to be my favorite jeans… damnit.

Though the measurements seemed right, the beautiful Attachment coat I got from Grailed is slightly snug in the shoulders. Japanese tailoring vs. Scandinavian bones, I guess.  I am wearing it anyway because it is cold, and once I re-sell it on Grailed I will give it a hug and thank it for a job well done. Then I’ll use the funds toward the debt from which they came.

Rental winter.

I dearly want to tie up the nuisances around the edges of my existence – like all busy, broke and picky types who just moved across the world, probably.

Denim Gender

As I faded, listening to the New Yorker fiction podcast and holding the beautiful body of another, I said something about how there are only “600 more days left in the weekend.” I woke up laughing about it, Jess said: “Yeah, I didn’t know how to parse that one.”

Another thing that cracked me up was the idea of trying to braid Jess’ hair while making out.

Enduring my jokes is part of knowing me. When I got back from Italy I took out a tube of tomato paste and said: “The toothpaste in Italy sure is weird.” Kristen cracked up, I cracked up. Noah cringed.

Leaving my house at 8:50 PM last night I thought maybe I should bring sunglasses and a toothbrush – I did a mixture of trying not to be presumptuous and forgetting. Then Jess offered me a toothbrush.

Jess wore a ~too sexy 4 work~ tank top and cutoffs. I re-applied the black turtleneck that is part of my body. We went out for #coffee at the Tea House, talking about denim and gender.

In my age and class group $80 is a lot to spend on pants. $80 is not a lot to spend on pants when considering labor, material, and durability. Though I could do another 2 years in a pair of $40 ASOS jeans, spending $80 on a pair of $200 (organic cotton/ethical labor) pants that will likely last me 2+ years is the type of rich bitch decision I get to make right now – kind of, first I have to pay the internet bill and wait for a check.

More and more, each object in my life is an expression of my own love for it. Anything I acquire, I am choosing to spend my life, or a part of my life with. As I think about who I am and what makes me feel happy, I also think about how objects I adore are going to exist for longer than I will. I’m a big grassy man in luxury homeostasis

Fabrica Interaction Design Trial

Before applying to Fabrica I spent some time searching things like “Fabrica trial experience” and “Fabrica interaction Design Trial.” Now I am adding mine to the stacks, using a boring title for search engine optimization.

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During my skype interview, Sam Baron asked: “Why do you want to come to Italy?” I replied “I want to go to Fabrica.” He asked why I wanted to come to Fabrica, I said: “The pictures look nice.” “Pictures are sometimes bullshit” he responded. “Everything is a joke and an illusion,” I countered, “that’s why you should hire me.”

Fabrica is just like the pictures.

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There are some things that aren’t mentioned in the literature, like that there is a nearby field where several black cats hang out and that two dogs bark at you from a neighboring fence as you walk down a path denoted by a sign that says: “Rugby.”

My trial was broken down into four projects for which I was to propose ideas: An event at Milan design week for Veuve Clicquot, an in-store iPad display for Benetton, an exhibit at Fondiazzione Benetton, and a personal project.

The workflow felt natural. Designers think independently, then meet to discuss ideas. The collaborative nature of larger projects brings out everyone’s strengths.

In the open concrete room that the design department works in, I overheard a 3 hour meeting centering around the name of the Veuve Cliquot project. Sam said he liked “Particle” and an Australian graphic designer said that “sounded too sciency” to a native English speaker. I interjected: “Call it Party-cle” and a product designer responded “Party-Cool!”

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When I met with the interaction design head, Angelo, he encouraged me to begin prototyping my ideas. I made a water vapor screen with the materials around (computer fans, foam core a dry paint bucket…), did some sound design, and built a patch for ultrasonic distance sensors. My thoughts were to ephemerally delineate the Veuve Cliquot  event space. The granular projection surface went with the theme: particles projected on particles. I was also interested in defining the space sonically, specifically to make parts sound like the chalk caves where Veuve Cliquot is aged by adding sharp reverb to visitor footsteps.

For the “Color Run” Benetton iPad display I outlined four ideas: a 2-4 player racing game (encouraging a longer interaction and playing on the theme of “running”), a color-personality quiz (flippant and self-aware of the vapid fashion world), a motion-sensitive “mirror” of colors “running together” (also related to a retail context, and using Benetton’s SS16 palette), and a simple video loop of running paint.

The borders project was trickier as the docket was written in Italian, and the subject matter was historically specific. I approached this proposal in a more general/abstract way, with visitor-based light projections. Angelo said this was too art-oriented and to think about contemporary issues and/or data-driven interactivity. My next proposal was an interactive rights map. The refugee crisis was the biggest contemporary issue that came to mind, specifically in regard to Europe, so this was one direction. The other was a global map of LGBTQ rights. I’m not sure either hit the mark with regard to the client. As I discovered later, Angelo has already covered European borders in a gorgeous way.

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I was encouraged to have fun on the weekend… So I came to Fabrica to continue work on my projects. This was the most luxurious and relaxing thing I could imagine. The acoustics in the building are amazing when you are in there alone singing and I’m sure Tadao Ando designed this building with whistling in mind.

Marta, (admin of design department?) was giving a tour to some guests and offered me a ride. She said that they used to throw a party at the Trial apartment every two weeks, and neighbors complained every time. I took this as a hint – personal project? Throw a party.

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I arrived at a busy time, but it appeared to me that no one was working on personal projects. If I were accepted it seems I would have to put in extra evening/weekend hours to complete everything I envision. This is what I am used to anyway ;)

The hours Fabricanti put in are long, which I am also accustomed to, but the lunch breaks are longer than in U.S. capitalist culture. You walk by a giant abandoned building to get to Benetton’s mensa, which features pasta every day (and other options for omnivores). I had pasta with tomato sauce, fruit, a salad, and sparkling water during each lunch hour (these were the entirety of the vegan options). Vegetarian options weren’t robust either (add cheese to the above and have desert if you want it), and food quality was a notch above mediocre. The stipend of 700 euro a month (before taxes) on top of free rent and daily pasta seems geared toward Europeans fresh out of college (without loans to pay off) and is less than I’m used to making for full time work (it would equate to about 7.50 an hour including an estimated 400 a month for rent and 200 for lunches). Still, I would rather do interaction design alongside a creative group than continue to manage social media/SEO for high end designer fashion.

There’s still some fashion industry to contend with, seeing as Fabrica is funded and run by the Benetton group. I respect Benetton’s socially aggressive marketing platforms but am critical of them in terms of manufacturing practices – they follow the tropes of fast fashion and are “unable to” regulate/be transparent about their labor. The Bangladesh factory collapse in 2013 was connected to Benetton production and there is the problem that most cotton produced in the world involves slave/child labor at some point in the supply chain. Come to think of it, I can’t believe I didn’t incorporate wordplay on “Fast Fashion” into Benetton’s “Color Run” themed display.

If Benneton is “socially conscious” fast-fashion, Fabrica must largely function as a tax write-off and a resource for semi in-house marketing (“essential part of the Benetton group” and all) though overall Fabrica feels relevant and independent. This is due to the strengths of the people and the tremendous building.

So there’s my Fabrica Interaction Design Trial experience. I had a fun time at villain-tryouts.

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(Update: after > 8 weeks I found out I was accepted)

Shovel Snow

When my resume asked me what the hell I have been doing for the past year I told it: “Social media management and web development/strategy.” When someone asks me at a show or a party I generally tell them that I shovel snow.

I am happy to once again make the revelation that I am a Murakami protagonist. Shoveling cultural snow. It keeps piling up and someone has to deal with it.

My blogging output varies, last month I wrote 600 posts. Each day I stacked them up, compiling a document, opening multiple tabs to write in product code, and then publishing them in a flurry, leaving one at the top for people to not-read. At month’s end I analyze my work’s effectiveness across spreadsheets.

Through osmosis (and research) my knowledge of luxury fashion, and the fashion world in general has expanded, but my basic outlook remains critical and reductive – occasionally I get in trouble for being “too intellectual.”

Here are excerpts of (SEO boosting) flippancy that I have buried in the web:

“A Noir Kei Ninomiya Bag furthers the brand’s textural exploration of black. Synthetic leather is formed into flowers, referencing plant life with a material that alludes to animal death.”

“Conceptually, Issey Miyake 132 5. is focused on regeneration and re-creation. This circularity is embodied literally through the complex geometric forms that each garment can fold into.”

“Jackets are always key pieces for Rick Owens, the Clean Biker Jacket in Blood completes a moody look with a funnel neck, a dropped back, and Rick Owens’ classic internal pockets for a passport, book, or sandwich.”

“A Brunello Cucinelli sheep costume is embellished with silver detail along the neckline.”

Our website redesign has just launched, and the web manager is having me go back to delete all my old posts. “Practice futility” Bea says. Never look back.

Workshop

Noah got me a job through nepotism so I learned about 30 designers and stalked people around the store telling them: “Those shoes are handmade in Berlin, they’re super comfortable,” -“ They’re called “2nd skin” leggings because they’re made with tiny-baby-lamb-leather in the foothills of Italy.”

After 2 days on the floor I was pulled to join the web team and got to sit down and generate content.

When I am writing the blogs that no one will read to enhance our ratings on google search results I look at a product image and attempt to succinctly yet poetically draw out its essential qualities.

“The Amber shoe by Trippen is a play of near-parallel and curvilinear exposed seams, forming and armadillo-like exterior. “Amber” is at once a chelsea boot and a wedge, a deconstructed cowgirl and an avant-mod.”

“The Trippen Route is a modern take on a wallaby – skinned alive with muscles showing in a bold cotto hue, with licorice in place of laces.”

“Any local wizard knows that a Monies necklace is also a veritable toolkit of crystal-vibes”

“This shoe is sort of like a skinny dog-head with no ears.”

I load products onto the website, serve champagne, smile lovingly at my boss, blog, work on photo-shoots, and just got our off-planet social media service fired through being way more relevant than them.

The building that Santa Fe Dry Goods/Workshop are housed in is Spanish Colonial (which I learned from overhearing downtown tours) and haunted (which I learned from downtown ghost-tours). The other day the internet was down and they needed help on the floor, so I picked out sale Anette Gortz and Ann Demeulameester for the woman who owns one of the tour companies. I kept feeling bad for not working and just having fun shopping with this woman, but ended up making more money for Workshop/Dry Goods than I would have working on the web.

Afterward I wrote her a note about my vicarious melting head at the color combinations she chose, and how self-expression through outfits is art and is important.

During Fiestas I was late to work because I couldn’t cross a parade. When I got in another parade was passing by the front door. Sha-big-boss and I talked about fiestas being the celebration of successful genocide, and how we didn’t belong there to have opinions about the celebrations either way.

I exist at tense and widely unexamined intersections of class and culture in all my jobs. A white person selling high end clothing on the pueblo-styled plaza, who’s history is wrought with a mixture of indigenous conquest and appropriation; a pawn of the contemporary art world which is divided along similar lines, and a volunteer with incarcerated youth, who are caught in a racist and classist system that is perpendicular to the jobs with which I bring home the organic watercress.

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Sometimes my job description also includes photographer.

I walk through the continuous bathroom/hallway/stock room with a hundred thousand dollars worth of cashmere and giggle. I drink espresso in the dark hallway by the dumpster. I look at a pigeon on the roof outside the window near the desk where I work, in the “executive suite,” fluorescent-lit short-ceiling with brown carpet upstairs in the historic building.

If they don’t change out the wood chips in the executive suite I become less playful. Luckily, the web manager, to whom I am an assistant, has cleaning wipes for wiping the toast-crumbs and grapefruit juice off the keyboard. There is also a woman who cleans around us politely on Tuesdays.

As with any setting where you are part of a diverse group for x amount of time, each personality becomes inherent to your internal flavor-pack of work-friends.

Betsy comes into the back room and says: “I have a present for you.” Noah, Dion, River and I dance around for a while. Betsy gives us chocolate almonds.

Chocolate almonds are currency amongst the staff at SFDG/WS.

We also have a “Nespresso” machine. The pods of pre-fab espresso are good, and probably created from the life-force of enslaved babies, which Neta and I talk about over said small-caffeine cups.

I keep having dreams about Neta, in the most recent one she had had her baby and declared she would take a week off for maternity leave.

Neta had her baby shortly after and sent out a group email with a picture of the infant with the words: “No longer pregnant.”

The money from the coffee jar goes into the company margarita fund, which is used when Sha-big-boss is doing a floor change – which she’ll work on from 7pm to 6am or so. Last two times there was a floor change I helped and received margaritas. We moved the racks, everything on the racks, and the plants/dead trees she had brought from the mountains to and fro the catacomb-entry basement while blasting Diana Ross.

After a floor change Sha-big-boss is understandably sleepy, but gets up at 6:38 to take her kids to school, then entertains visiting designers with beers + ice cream, writes checks, and talks to the people at Retail Pro when the computer inventory is down. After such an occurance a few days ago the web manager said “Your eyes are red – you look like a marsupial, Sha-big-boss replied: “I am a goddamn marsupial.”