New York City: People, Places + Things

The ghost of goths past.

1. People

Hi, greetings from New York City  – okay, let’s be real, Brooklyn – where I spent most of the week running around like an eighteen year old with a trust fund, like staying out real late, eating expensive food and hobnobbing with the avant-gard until the wee hours of the morning. It was so fun! Too bad that fake snowstorm got our flights canceled and me and my traveling companion, who I will call Beth, had to flee to Washington D.C. on an Amtrak in order to get back to Cali, missing Amos Mac’s awesome photo show at the Lesley/Loman Gallery, no relation to Lindsay/Lohan. Those skull buckle boots were spotted at the giant Beacon’s Closet secondhand wonderland in Brooklyn. I had those boots in High School, and they were like the best thing I had ever owned! All my friends pitched in and bought them for my seventeenth birthday, and it didn’t matter that they were two sizes too large because I would fill them with change while stealing from the register at my job at Cumberland Farms (statue of limitations – eat it, bitches!). For those who have mourned the lack of secondhand place in NYC, you will delight to the endless shopping at this place. I tried on Prada slacks, Shipley and Halmos sailor pants, baggy wool hings from Benetton, and a stoic button-up from Karl Lagerfeld. Guess what? Nothing fit! Who cares, when you’re in New York you’re sort of wearing the city, and it feels fabulous.


These girls are wasting their lives dancing and should begin modeling immediatly.

At the Abroms Art Center we were treated to Heavens What Have I Done, a mind-blowing piece of dance, rant, monologue, costume, opera, sound, sincerity, participation, scrawl and simple genius from Miguel Gutierrez, who should be presented with a massive perpetual award for Amazing Awesomeness of Life. The Center was crawling with adorable people who just reeked of dancer, like these two girls with their intricate braidy-buns. I stared at the back of their heads for much of the opening acts (who were terrific), mustering the courage to ask them for their photo. After being coldly shunned by a fashion plate at Justin Bond’s show the night before, I was burned. Why do people leave the house looking great, in New York City of all places, if they don’t want their picture taken? Jeez. But these ladies were as sweet as their hairdos.


Princess Leias!

Welcome to my new hairdo.

A messy side-bun! What could be cuter?


Text appeal.

This girl had such great style – I love her glasses and her layered coats. That top one is a Jil Sander she got for $300 on eBay. Well played! Under that she was wearing some sort of red undercoat, and the color peeping out really elevated her from the sea of puffer coats clogging the East Coast. I’m trying to incorporate more red into my life ever since my friend Elisa’s grandmother’s psychic said that red is my color for 2011, and finding it is a surprisingly hard color to commit to. But a little peekaboo crimson I can wrap my head around!


Mr. Fix-It

This is Yony Leyser, who made the fantastic documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, photographed at Allen Ginsberg’s estate on the lower east side. Yony’s winter coat is like a vintage industrial refrigeration coat from a thrift store in Chicago, and it’s totally cool. Check out the detail:

This coat is working hard to keep Yony warm! Know who else is working hard? The girl who is stalking Wes Anderson, who lives in this same building, by hanging adorable flyers around the neighborhood:



What becomes a Mummenschanz most?

What does a stylish butch wear to see Mummanschanz, the 40-year-strong Swiss mime troupe? Leather, of course. Zari Esaian first let me drag her to see Mummenschanz, the troupe whose television commercials haunted me in the 1970s, and then she let me grill her about her ensemble. Like, where did the leather vest come from?

ZARI: Actually, I got this at Red Light in Portland, Oregon. It looks like it’s too wide, but it’s not. Though when I wear it open I try to keep my arms down to cut the width.

How about your leather hat?

ZARI: This I just ordered from the internet, from a leather web site. It’s hard to find a baseball hat without a fucking ball on the top. I decided I wanted more leather in my life for winter.

No fucking ball on top.

Zari, where is your favorite place to shop?

ZARI: Beacon’s closet. Nothing can beat it. It makes the working class feel wealthy.


Zari asked me if she should buy a $300 pair of Timberlands. Just so you know, I will always be the person who tells you to buy the $300 Timberlands, so only ask me such questions if you are seeking an enabler.


This is Dean. He always closes his eyes in photos so I decided not to fight it, but to celebrate it. It looks like he’s having an angelic moment at Diner in Brooklyn while wearing a Rodeo Drive sweatshirt. There is only one thing that could make this classic, classy top even better:

A lobster! Rich people shop on Rodeo Drive, and rich people love to eat lobster! Perfect! It’s by Dinner with Mimi, whose stuff is available on etsy.

Those blue laces in those brown shoes are excellent.

Dramatique! This individual went the extra mile, showing up for Sunday brunch in the freezing cold with a lotta look . Honestly, I was surprised to not see more people bringing it harder around town. This is New York! Don’t you want to get discovered? Anyway, he’s boycotting puffer coats with this lovely forest green woolen number, and his choice of veil over hat adds mystery!

After an afternoon soaking in the toxic positive ions of  Times Square, Beth and I snuck into the opulent Hotel Michelangelo, to primp in their rosy-golden bathroom and rest a moment on their plus and shining sofas. Beth’s smart and velvety satchel from Zara helped us feel like we belonged.

Alex is sporting classic NYC snowstorm attire! She’s so bundled up with her fluffy chapeau and her thick scarf, but her choice of trench instead of puffer gives her a body, and then down there at the bottom are the best boots ever, LL Bean duck boots! Let’s get a close up:


I found Casey Johanna serving up NYC anarchist bookstore realness at excellent Bluestockings, one of my favorite bookstores in the whole world. I love the like, what is that, is that a lug in her ear, I don’t know, I’m not like mechanical enough to know but I am punk enough to get that it’s awesome. As is the colorful feather stuck in her terrific hair sculpture.

Speaking of realness, I ran into designer/writer/artiste/former JT Leroy Savannah Knoop at the American Realness Pussyfaggot show at the Delancey. She looks dashing and dapper in clashing stripes, one of my favorite pattern clashes!

. . . and our glamorous stay in New York City comes to an end in a Maryland suburb, in the cozy domesticity of a couple of death metal punks who gave us shelter, warm chocolate almond milk and Weezer snugglis. Want to hear my only Weezer anecdote? When I was an alcoholic in my 20s I was at this warehouse party, and I went to the bathroom to go poop and there was no toilet paper! But someone had left a Weezer t-shirt on the sink, so I used it to wipe my butt and then threw it out the window. When I opened the door, a frantic girl was standing there, desperate for the Weezer shirt she’d left in the bathroom! I played dumb and returned to the keg.

Okay this is the end of our trip, but not the end of this blog.

2. Places


Puff daddy

Know what is so great about the internet? You can watch awesome TV shows that would never make it to television, such as Hamilton Morris’ riveting drug-seeking documentaries, Hamiton’s Pharmacopeia, in which the subdued yet charismatic chemist Hamilton Morris goes to Haiti in search of the zombie drug, or the Amazon to partake in psychedelic toad, or Iceland to forest magic mushrooms. Then, if you are obsessive, as I am, you can find him on the internet, learn you have mutual friends, and weasel your way into his Brooklyn apartment to interview him about his scant yet stylish wardrobe.

Hamilton Morris in his one pair of jeans and borrowed sweaters.

IBC: Did you really only bring one pair of jeans and two t-shirts when you went to Haiti to find the zombie powder?

HAMILTON: I actually never change my clothing anyway, so it was fine.

IBC: How come you don’t change your clothes?

HAMILTON: Because I really don’t have much clothing. I only own two shirts and one pair of pants. I’m wearing three sweaters right now and only one of them is mine. It’s just much easier. It’s highly efficient. Also, I don’t really sweat, so my clothes don’t smell ever. I don’t jog. The only exercize I get is walking up four flights of stairs.


Hamilton Morris with his two shirts, by Nom de Guerre

HAMILTON: I spilled sauce all over it last night, so I may have to change it.

IBC: What kind of sauce?

HAMILTON: Newman’s dip.

IBC: So, you were in Haiti in only this outfit.

HAMILTON: The producer felt it would disrupt the continuity  to change. Even when we were back and doing chmical analysis he insisted I wear the same clothing.

IBC: How come you cut your hair? (In the Amazon, Hamilton’s hair was so long the locals would debate his gender, and in Haiti it was shorter but still long.)

HAMILTON: It was really long. It was the first time I’d been to a barber. It was a very aggressive haircut.

IBC: Have you ever made weird clothing purchases while on a drug? Once on a pot brownie I pot a very psychedelic shirt, and I never wore it.

HAMILTON: I go shopping for clothing so rarely, it would be weird if I went shopping for clothing while tripping. When I was in 7th grade in Amsterdam I was higher than I’d ever been and I bought a shirt that said RASTA PRIDE . Which was the same shirt I was wore the whole time I was in Haiti, inside out.


Hamilton is the second person to bring Haitian zombie powders into the United States. They are in his freezer in Williamsburg.

HAMILTON: I think my clothing is incredibly boring and plain at this point. Especially at VBS, people hate anyone who looks like they’re trying to have an alternative style. And I’m not trying to sit in chemistry in chemistry class in anything too avant-garde.


Zombie antidote!

Hamilton Morris, a man of few words and fewer clothes. We wrapped it up so he could take off to a lab in Philadelphia where he would continue to study the zombie powder and write a scientific paper on it for the Journal of Ethnobotany, perhaps sampling some brand new hallucinogens that haven’t hit the street yet. Before we left I asked him if, like, nothing we experience is actually real but just a series of chemical reactions in our bodies. YES, he said emphatically, BUT I wouldn’t say JUST a series of chemicals . . . Hamilton is a cosmic chemical seeker! Check out his show on VBStv, it’s so fascinating and entertaining you almost forgive Vice for being such an empire of douchebags.

3. Things

When I forgot my camera in Brooklyn and found myself in Bergdorf Goodman taking photos with my cell phone.

Alexander McQueen. On sale for only $1,300!

McQueen is dead, long live McQueen.


holy god. also McQueen.

Alexander Wang, velvet + pearls. Makes me think of . . .

Lights (42nd Street) by Jack Pierson

Stella McCartney



Alexander McQueen

Say 'pruuuuuuuuune!'

And I’m out.



About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.

One comment

  1. carrieleilamlove

    Long Live McQueen!! Siiiick boots.

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