Monday, 4 October 2010

Bye-bye, beloved Bowlface, hello, Baby Bowlface


It's ok though, because you can still catch the latest AND comment to your hearts' content at

As ever, thanks for popping by - look forward to hearing from you on the new site!

Friday, 1 October 2010

"Is that guy your boyfriend? Because if you're living here I don't want any couply stuff"

I got home at an acceptable hour this evening to find my bed had tripled in size. My 'bed' being a futon mattress, this upwards expansion signalled that although I might sleep comfortably this evening, it was going to be as means of a swansong in my current steal of a gorgeous, taxidermy-filled Williamsburg flat. Believe it or not (easily unbelieved, due to the poor blogging show), tomorrow will mark four weeks of having lived in New York. Four weeks also being the length of my current dream sublet.

Last weekend was a horrific blur of relentless flat-hunting. Like most things in New York, once you've done it here, it will seem an absolute breeze in most other English-speaking western countries. If I thought most aspects of my young adult life have been fraught with competition: surviving the UCAS lottery, battling it out for work experience and competition places, finding even summer jobs, let alone the graduate malarkey in the laughably competitive world of journalism - renting a nice, inexpensive apartment outside of a ghetto in New York is way up there.

It works like this: the weekend before you become homeless, you search frantically on a website called The Craigslist. Known for being riddled with scammers and people who will spam you forever more (my old email account answers only to people who say I've won a lottery or that I need to help them), The Craigslist is also the most effective means of finding accommodation in this insane city. So, up at 9am to check the darned thing, scouting for listings that are spelt correctly, aren't in BedStuy and are within my price range. Cue string of slightly desperate emails emphasising the fact that 'I'm a British intern at Nylon magazine, freshly graduated from university and a respectful, clean, laid-back and fun roommate'. Cue a handful of phone calls, followed by hurried appointments being made in moleskines. At 85% of the doors I turned up at, both myself and the renter had trusty moleskines in hand. The shame. Arguably, most of these places were in Williamsburg or Clinton Hill, but there's nothing like living up to a cliche.

So, on a totally beautiful freakishly hot weekend, when essentially all the trains that service Brooklyn were out of service, I entered strangers' (of varying weirdness, the title is a real-life quote from one of them) and nosed around making unnecessarily polite musing noises whilst thinking where the nearest exit was. Of course, I ended up taking the place I had first looked at. Because the extra sting in the tail of NY apartment hunting is that it is essentially a personality contest. One reasonably priced room in the heart of 'touristy Williamsburg' as New Yorker friend calls it, (rather than the Hispanic grubby outskirts) gained fifty responses within hours of the craigslist post. I had made the lucky first six to view it. If they like you, they call you. It's not even the case that if you like an apartment you can say 'yes please, here is my money'. It's like apartment speed-dating, except you're about a four on the hot scale and the person you're trying to pull is a ten. I was lucky -  all it took for me to find a match in a swish Bushwick penthouse was a weekend - albeit a hungover, sleep-deprived, sweaty weekend. On the plus side, I know a lot more about Brooklyn's geography now, having walked a cumulative 25 miles.

I also know a fair bit more about the Lower East Side's weekend nightlife, after a nocturnal two-on-a-bike jaunt around it last Saturday. The bike was called The Love Tycoon and belonged to fellow Nylon intern Caitlin Smith. To ease the pain of her fleeing New York on a rainy day to the bohemian lure of her native San Francisco, I've been taking the new-in-town graphic design zine intern Holly Black out to a series of  Williamsburg date places we didn't realise were quite so candlelit upon entering. As a result, we had to head to the grime of Monster Island to watch Kevin Morby play and for me to pretend to be a Nylon TV camerawoman, and renowned dive bar Levees for $10 pitchers - just to set the tone back comfortably. 

This week's discoveries include:
- SoHo's answer to Ben's Cookies in the form of Vesuvio Bakery. I fear now I've discovered their cookies, I won't be able to stop.
- That tbs is on channel 8 at breakfast time, which means SAVED BY THE BELL. The original crowd. ON TV. It's like I'm eight again, except now I can really appreciate the retro fashion and poor script-writing to the best level. From tomorrow I'm not going to live anywhere with a TV, but it was sweet while it lasted.
- That ridiculously posh SoHo deli Dean & Deluca may play classical music and force their staff to wear chef hats, but will serve up a mighty fine bagel a lot cheaper than any bagel cart in town.
- That you can buy blankets with faces of varying North American animals on (wolf, bear, lion - not strictly from America -stag) in K Mart for under $20.    

Thursday, 23 September 2010


"There's a storm a-coming!" That's what was shouted at me and a buddy as we braved our way through Williamsburg's less salubrious neighbourhoods to find haven in the kind of Mexican places that hipst-anic (hipster+hispanic) communities produce best: cheap tacos, good beer and all the latest underground tunes on the playlist. Despite making a return to summer today in NYC - hot pants were donned in SoHo and chiauauas shunned their tiny tapestry waistcoats due to the heat - I bore witness to an explosive lightning show in an overground train station in Bushwick this evening. Then the rain came. So it's a damp posting this evening.

Enough about the weather - evidently, I'm in the States now and people are far more likely to open a conversation about what their therapist said to them than what's happening with the climate. In the last few days since I posted various developments have taken place. I turned 22 in a wonderfully bizzare Indian restaurant in the East Village, complete with novelty thrift-store gifts and free candle-lit ice cream. Panna II prides itself on having look like a child with especially bad taste had been left to decorate a particularly naff Christmas tree in solely shiny and flashing things. They should have a sign warning epileptics off, except you can see it flashing from two blocks away. Having a birthday in a different time zone really is a win-win situation as you get a whole extra five hours of people wishing you a nice day. Therefore any fears of having it forgotten (a very real fear after spending my Sunday at the Lincoln Centre Film Society's John Hughes memorial day and watching Sixteen Candles) were dispersed as soon as I woke up to the ultimate of Maternal Inbox Treats: "you are probably asleep, but it's your birthday here, wakey-wakey!" and got into my office to find cake and post on my desk.

Last Friday I had my brain exploded a little bit twice. First by NY's American Museum Natural History, something which really does deserve its own post, but for which I will currently reference as 'GIANT SQUID SPERM WHALE BATTLE'. Secondly by Refresh, Refresh, Refresh - a relatively cultish comedy/storytelling night amongst funny media types in Chinatown. Headlining were New York's answer to a Twitter-happy Reeves and Mortimer, Wise and Cranky Kaplan, who were pretty hilaire in person, but whose tweet feeds continue to keep me LOL-ing inappropriately throughout the working day. Cranky's possibly my favourite, mainly because his sadistic tweets regarding tortoises remind me of similar boyhood antics that apparently went on between my late great uncle and my grandfather. Follow them both, though - American 'humor' never was so good.    

Friday, 17 September 2010

I want a Jeremy Scott meat dress, but made out of poptarts.

I'm averaging six hours of sleep per night at the moment. However, unlike the guilty, educationally-associated sleep deprivation I have bemoaned before, this type is from having ludicrous amounts of fun. I'll admit it, I love the 9-5 (or 10-6, whatever). Especially when the hours you're meant to be at work are spent at New York Fashion Week shows, or interviewing your latest girl crush, or running around NYC smuggling packed-lunches into swanky SoHo cafes.

My optimism in organising my internship around NYFW's S/S shows paid off - I managed to witness four shows in as many days this week. Granted, this is hardly a packed schedule in comparison to that of Susie Lau (whom I could spy sitting opposite during Sunday's Preen show), but considering I was turning up to every one in thrift-store finds, it's not bad going.

A 1982 SLR definitely makes me out as a serious fashion journalist and not someone who just blagged their way into a Preen show...
Exciting designer newbie Ann Yee's presentation in SoHo the next evening followed - inspired by Blade Runner, her pretty, accessible silk jumpsuits and crop-tops with flouro accents suggest that she'll be hitting the NYFW schedule in the next few years. The next evening saw Samantha Pleet's Chelsea presentation on behalf of green fashion week, which was breathtakingly beautiful. With a video starring this season's muse Victoria Legrand of Beach House forming the backdrop to a collection of vintage and fishing-inspired whimsical dresses, jumpsuits, blouses and bikinis named things like 'rust red walkabout shorts' and 'ivory moonbeam blouse', there was little else I could do but eat the free cupcakes and feel deeply inadequate - in a thoroughly inspired way, natch.

All of this intelligent, classy, accessible ready-to-wear was, however, blown out of the water by Jeremy Scott's celeb-tastic, 1970s NY homoerotic punk-inspired, screamy, pouty, sexy S/S collection. With guys built like tanks being sent down in bondage-style mankinis, girls wearing everything from bodega-bag-vests to meat dresses (Gaga, eat your heart out) and only a straight-jacket wedding dress pre-empting Scott's own lap of victory around the front row in an angel-tipped leather jacket and kicks, it was beyond amazing. Sitting opposite Kelly Osbourne and Kanye in the front row was pretty surreal, too.

To round of my celebrity-stalking in a more laid-back way, I caught up with newly-discovered girl crush Rebecca Schiffman. Full details on her greatness are to come in Nylon's November issue. However, two facts: she LOVES pigeons and bought me a hotdog. 'nuff said.    

For news about what I get upto when I'm actually IN the office, my first guest post for awesome aspirational writers website Wannabe Hacks made it up this week. As for now, my day off consists of far less glamourous things - wondering what's happening to my clothes at the laundromat up the road, contemplating what new flavour of poptarts I'm going to buy and itinerising my way around taxidermfest at the Natural History Museum... Oh, and happy Yom Kippur!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

losing various virginities.

So much for the daily blogging. Bowlface, like my normal diet, has been somewhat neglected over the past week. What used to be my sole output of journalistic musing has become a well-loved but ever-so-slightly superflous friend in these days of insane tipping rules, glossy magazines and wierd brown stuff in plastic cups that everyone carries everywhere. Think it's frozen coffee. They're attached to peoples' hands here at all times.

So, I left off at the Supermarket saga and I begin again after my first real day of culinary success and initiation. Initiation not into gross types of viscous cheese (once. never again.) but into real Mexican and then excellent home-cooked pescetarian/vegan cuisine. My tummy is beginning to love me back after the serial (ha, cereal, Dad joke) poptart incidents. Mexican corn on the cob is potentially my new obsession. Costing around two bucks, this vegetable treat comes tossed in a small amount of normal, solid cheese, chilli and lime - and I just found out there's an establishment selling them around the corner from my office. WIN.
See you at breakfast.

In between the struggle to fit in three meals a day this past week many more New York firsts have been ticked off. First $20 mani/pedicure (a dangerous habit, I'm sure). First under-Williamsburg Bridge rooftop nighttime impromptu photo shoot. First randomer calling me obscenities for no apparent reason in the street. First venture into 'real' Chinatown under Manhattan bridge. First standing up guilty $1 pizza-slice consumption. First 'real NY party' in a dingy club on the lower east side. First getting-on-the-wrong-bus-and-ending-up-in-Malcolm X-street. First time I've had to put on an American accent to ask for a bottle of 'waahh-derrr' to be understood. First buying-a-futon-off-Craigslist and shifting it up six floors. First visit to The Container Store. And, most notably today, first 9/11 anniversary. Those cloud-hitting lights which mark the position of the Twin Towers were the only sign of Manhattan that could be identifed from a placid Ridgewood barbeque this evening.

Plus, of course, my first week at Nylon. There's so much to be said about my experience of editorial internships in New York that to smush it in the bottom of this post would be frankly ridiculous. Furthermore, there's news of my first day coming up soon on an excellent website created by a few clearly success-bound wannabe hacks. I know it hurts, but you'll just have to contain your anticipation a little bit longer. However, to keep you tided over, one more first: my name on the Nylon blog. Right here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

'There's a new whole foods store here, they sell bio-degradable food'

Things have moved on considerably since the jet-lag hotel situation. Granted, I'm feeling a little dozy right now but I think that's from consuming a peanut butter sandwich, which, despite my best efforts to find bread without sugar in, was definitely considerably sweeter than a UK one and a whole load of grapes which need a couple of bites to eat without choking. My stomach's got a lot of sugar to deal with so it's nicking all the energy from my brain.

Enough of the pseudo-science and back to reality. Although, I'm still finding it difficult to believe I'm actually here - three mornings on and with a pretty hefty amount of Williamsburg and part of Manhattan investigated. Stuff I've got goonishly excited about so far:
- people gambling in the street under the railroad of Flushing Ave. Station on Broadway.
- Being able to buy a hotdog for $2
- Seeing the Empire State and Chrysler buildings from the warehouses of Kent St, near Brooklyn's coast to the East River whilst on my way to this.
- Seeing tiny pedigree dogs walked and carried EVERYWHERE.
- The fact that there's a stuffed deer head in my apt.
- Waking up to blue skies, bright sunlight and fire escapes on the buildings outside windows.
- The literal metres of choice of bagels and peanut butter and two 'Vincent' products in the supermarket.

The supermarket has been my latest conquest (shortly following the subway and the shopping streets of Upper East Side Manhattan). Not least because you have to squeeze through metal bars to get in, which considering America's obesity statistics is somewhat cruel. For all that popular culture can teach you about America, I was still left standing, gawping, staring at the shelves. I was Mr. Burns, picking up identical bottles of stuff and trying to decipher between 'Catsup' and 'Ketchup'.

Whilst I picked up an insane amount of asparagus for $1.69, buying a bag of Spinach would set me back double. A whole cooked chicken will cost you as much as some boxes of cereal. Poptarts come in every flavour except the 'produced for the UK' Choco-mallow. I picked up a box of 12 's'more' flavour ones, but after the sugar OD of sandwich and grapes I'm going to have to take a 'raincheck' on them. Strawberries are cheap, win, prepared salad leaves are not, fail. Journeying around Key Food I found my brain's feeble mathematical capabilities going into overload - not only converting everything into sterling, but creating a weird kind of food ratio, e.g: huge lump of Parmesan : one bottle of 'magic soap'; 'jar of pesto : 24 poptarts'. Maybe that's why I'm sleepy too.

Meeting other lovely Americans has also brought to light the most unlikely aspects of British vernacular which remain unrecognised in the US. British accents are pretty much un-commented on here; only when I asked if they stock Rimmel in Sephora (FAIL) and spent a good while trying to pay for a bottle of Snapple's Pink Lemonade (the addiction that started in California aged 11 has come back to haunt me) with change have my home county tones become apparent. However, words like 'fortnight', 'stone' (as in weight) and 'pastiche' are apparently Brit-centric, if not in need of definition. Fortunately so far my new buddies are cultured enough to know what I want when I ask for the loo, as yet the dreaded 'restroom' has not been uttered from my lips.

Some things, however, seem not to change across the pond. Yesterday a septuagenarian commented on my shoes, which then struck up a long conversation about dance footwear and comfort over style - this has happened at least three times before in Blighty, and it makes me feel all the more at home here.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

So. I am in Jamaica - the one in Queens, NY, rather than the Caribbean island. It's 05.18 here, but my frustratingly consistent body clock had me up at 4am. After forty minutes or so of rolling around and huffing, I figured I'd do something constructive with myself and create a massive sleep debt with a little Bowlpost.

It seems a long time since the Fancy Nancy discoveries - since then I have packed, re-packed, taken out some definitely essential knitwear, denim and shoes, packed again and underwent varying tedious airport things. The flight consisted of me catching up on some heavy cheekbone-action from Tom Hughes' bad boy performance in the Gervais-Merchant hillaire that is Cemetery Junction, eating some not unpleasant airline food and sending myself off to sleep with a G&T. Once I'd got through the rigmarole of security, in which I repeated that yes, I was staying just in Brooklyn for 90 days, about eight times to three increasingly terrifying men in uniform, my bag had kindly fallen off the baggage carousel for me to establish that one of its straps had decided to retire to make the most of its 'vacation' in NY. I gather it was just very keen to be searched by blue-gloved hands unsuccessfully for something that wasn't clothes or Marmite.

A little wander down the dark streets of Jamaica, past a couple of Gentlemen's Clubs and even a Liverpool St and I arrived as a sweaty wonder in the hotel. Four hours of sleep later, and here I am.

NY fulfilled-cliches and discoveries so far:
- I am old enough to be called 'ma'am'
- A 'Bodega' is a corner shop.
- American people do say 'lift' instead of 'elevator', but they might just have been humouring me when I questioned its whereabouts.
- The aforementioned lifts are so far the same size as most of the bedrooms I've rented.

OK, fairly underwhelming list but if you check back: I've been in this country eight hours and asleep for half that time. I've not even switched on HBO yet on my insanely huge TV, which is directly opposite my insanely huge bed and in front of the insanely huge shower.

Just one hour until I can run downstairs and gorge myself on (hopefully insanely huge) pancakes. Excellent.