the dirty dozen, part 1: back from CA for a week, still catching up on work (hooray!)

01 my new favorite thing about ikea (admittedly, not a hotly contested thing): free shuttles to the new red hook location (where people camped out for several days to score free sofas*) are filling up with non-shoppers. according to gothamist,
The free coach style shuttle buses that deliver riders from two Brooklyn subway stops to the new Red Hook IKEA are filling up with passengers who never set foot inside the Swedish retailer. "I'd say before one o'clock, about half the riders from Smith and Ninth Street don't even go into IKEA," one bus driver told the Daily News, adding that many riders are going to a local methodone [sic] clinic for treatment. And, as predicted, freeloaders are pulling the same move with the free Water Taxi between IKEA and lower Manhattan, an area also renowned for its methadone.

02 while it is not my custom to think highly of bars that think highly of themselves, i did fancy s bar, one of the stops on our one-night-only los angeles bar crawl with little sis and her boyfriend. the s probably stands for (philippe) starck, as he designed the place, but in practice it stands for satan in a most excellent way: the bar is lit by dozens of elegant, mismatched table lamps, suspended upside down from the ceiling. the effect is ever so slightly fucked up - how one would imagine a possessed room might look (the bathrooms give the same vibe: each stall is lit by silent movies playing from televisions embedded in the ceiling). old scratch appears on the menu and a few wall murals, so the devil thing is literal too, but it's really all about the lamps. they (and, okay, the fact that we got past the velvet rope even though joe was wearing his "support the right to keep and arm bears" tee shirt) are the reason i didn't break a bottle and start a bar fight when asked to pay like $16 for souped-up hard lemonade.**

03 two months after deadline, i finally made headway on one of the most infuriating items on my 101 in 1001 list (089 frame my college diploma). my dad's garage was the very last place the wily diploma could have picked as a hiding spot, and it wasn't looking good - until i mentioned that it had been wrapped in some kind of blanket, which turned out to be as significant as the "jesus was a carpenter" line from indiana jones and the last crusade. "oh," said dad, "like this!" - and there, right in a cabinet by the door, it was. thank god, as The University wanted $50 for a replacement diploma that 1) wouldn't have the all-important gerhard casper signature and 2) would say COPY at the bottom (assholes). now i have to frame the thing, which is a new problem: should my frame be identical to joe's? i kind of want to go my own way, but i worry that getting something other than the ol' alma mater special will look weird, since they'll be hanging next to each other. then again, he has a white mat and mine would be black (the design changed a bit over the past few years), so we'd have the spy vs spy effect to offset the cheesiness. hmm.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 what's your relationship with ikea? harvard friends told me years ago that in their circles, thrift store hodgepodge was considered wildly unhip and ye olde mass swedish design was much more acceptable (then again, most of them were tech guys); i'm at the other end of the spectrum, obviously, though i'm also extra-mean about big box stores.

02 would you feel guilty about freeloading on the swedish bus?

03 do those of you in long-term relationships find it weird to hang out at It Bars?

04 what did you do with your college diploma?

*the most horrifying of those was a woman who told a local news crew that she didn't really want the sofa but had "never camped out for anything before."

**which is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS, i acknowledge, but worth it for the one-time design inspiration. my drinks usually cost about $3, so it all evens out in the end.


jacob said...

1. ambivalent. my current theory is that ikea's better for less expensive and non-upholstered items (e.g., bookcases). even so, i think the veneer on our (attractive) bookcases is about 5 atoms thick.

2. no. especially given red hook's relative inaccessibility from the rest of new york.

3. megan and i are both dive bar people, so we'd probably find providence's "it bars" weird, if such bars existed.

4. it's hanging in the guest bedroom at my parents' house - coincidentally, where i am right now. red frame, white matte. david's diploma, which is right below it, is red frame, black matte. both have some gold stanford insignia stuff. no stanford photo, since the only two available, if i recall, were hoover tower and memorial church. which for a liberal jew isn't much of a choice.

also, for what it's worth, my ph.d diploma is stuffed in my desk at home in providence.

Meg said...

1. Eh. I like to call it the overpriced lumber store, since really you just go pick up scraps of wood with dubious directions about how to assemble it into furniture that always has at least one thing wrong with it.

2. No. We only went to red hook once. It was the day we left NY, and we got trapped in red hook and couldn't get out. David was freaking out.

3. I find It Bars weird period. Also? Annoying.

4. It's at my parents house in a stack of papers. NYU won't even issue copies, and they have been promising to frame it since I got it, and haven't. I just need to take it back and do it myself, clearly. Also, re: David n' Jacob's diplomas? They used to be one over each twin bed in the guest rooms. You picked your sibling and slept under their diploma.

Meg said...

PS I always picked David's because that bed was softer.

enjelani said...

1. i heart ikea unabashedly. i have no interior decorating sense and it's the only way my apartment has ever looked remotely presentable, given my cheapness and ikea's penchant for recycling motifs (been rockin' the gray steel/blond particleboard/wire mesh look for years now).

even better is used ikea stuff. which abounds here in north b'klyn.

2. probably. if the lines weren't too long, i'd grab a three-pack of scissors or some swedish meatballs before heading to my real destination. (sometimes i buy trial-size toothpaste in drugstores after using their restrooms.)

then again, i've never been stranded in red hook.

3. i imagine this would be a more terrifying activity to do single than with the boyfriend. depends on whether my posse was trying to fit into the It, i guess. 'cuz any guy i'd date would not.

4. it sits in a cardboard box labeled "1999-2000," along with my first employee badge. certificates marking accomplishments always weirded me out a bit.

what prompted you to undertake the framing, ms. k?

lauren said...

i offend myself a bit with the It Bars question, as what i'm getting at is what couples get from them (which implies that fancy barhopping is solely for booty, which is unfair). i wanted sis's (smitten) BF to explain what he loved about them, as i was honestly curious (he's a true connoisseur), but he kept thinking i was just bagging on his taste in bars.

@enjelani: joe's parents gifted him with a frame, and he finally decided to hang his diploma here in NYC awhile back. i got thinking about mine because i pass his in the bedroom every morning, basically, and it looked lonely. also (cough) it can't get lost again if it's on the wall. i really panicked when i thought it was AWOL, though i hear you on being meh about certificates. i busted my ass for that one, you know?

Ma said...

01: You have real live Croatian cousins in Red Hook, so you don't even have to have a relationship with ikea (Dora and Anton).

02: See 01

04: Mine's in the kitchen...and yours (ahem)was exactly where I have been telling you it was for the last 5 years.

tangodeltagolf said...

Super seeing you guys out here in Cali after, what, nearly 10 years? Tell Jo to go Code 1 on her Facebook messages, 'cause I sent her something. We've been living a block apart from each other for months now.


01 Laura is more the aesthete. In most circumstances, I'm strictly a function over form sort. Ikea works if there's nothing cheaper at a nearby thrift place. It's cheap for new stuff. It's light (usually made out of pressboard and other low density fiber products). It comes in flat boxes that are easy to transport. You realize, the big super-secret of Ikea's business model is that universal twisty-lock nut that is used in assembly of all their stuff. It's idiot-proof, dirt-cheap, universal, requires no tools other than a throw-away allen key or a screwdriver, and allows them to ship and stock all their merchandise as flat packages, which greatly simplifies their logistics and inventory, as well as the customer experience of purchase and transport. Maybe that high-speed space program-type jazz explains your Harvard geek friends' chubby.

02 No, probably especially not if I were a junkie on the way to the methadone clinic. Hey, if Ikea really gets smart, they'll open a chain of clinics in their locations! Get well while you get your living room set (I expect Wal-Mart to beat them to that idea though).

03 We did Bar Sinister a little over a week ago. Laura & I had a slightly awkward moment in Purgatory when 4 girls decided to have an impromptu make-out session nearly in my lap, before I managed to get a $15 absinthe into her. Was it Goethe who said "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing"?

04 Framed it. The week that I got it. With a frame that I already had ready for the occasion. How ya like them apples?

One quasi-cheesyish thing about UC diplomas, they all say "University of California" at the top, and you have to look near the bottom to see the "Given at ____" city to tell which campus it came from. So at first glance, my Berkeley-issue sheepskin is indistinguishable from one from UCLA, or Santa Cruz, or even Riverside. Arrogant much?

tom said...

Back from Vt. and my grandma's 90th birthday. And thus it appears I missed an opportunity to totally crush on Ikea. They outfitted my whole apartment totally on the cheap -- prolly saved about $1500 versus comparable stuff. (Of course, I just sunk that onto my credit card for a new TV and assorted accessories, but it has been about five years since I got a new one, and about four since I had a DVD player that worked. I was due.)

Anywho: by comparison, there was this other Scandanavian outfit about ten miles east of the Ikea here (Jen: it's Dania, just south of the Edens / Tri-State Tollway split). Really awesome cabinets and sofas -- jaw-droppingly good, well designed. But: items were at (excuse me) THREE TIMES the price of stuff that looks and feels just about the same at Ikea.

Some of the stuff at Ikea is incredibly overpriced for what you get (e.g., $109 bar stools), but some is ridiculously cheap (e.g., $19 bar stools with wood seats instead of padded ones). I will admit: it's mass produced, utilitarian, and somewhat soulless. But, really: a bar stool has four legs and a platform on which you put your ass. Overspending for that seems unnecessary.

(BTW: please tell me the Ikea bus has a cutesy name, like Vroom or Transportuur or something with an umlaut in it. That would be just too much.)

lauren said...

@tom s: given how it's been repurposed, one can only hope it's called FIXX.

@tom o:

One quasi-cheesyish thing about UC diplomas, they all say "University of California" at the top, and you have to look near the bottom to see the "Given at ____" city to tell which campus it came from.

dude, our diplomas begin with "...JUNIOR UNIVERSITY." part of the reason i'm afraid to shun the standard issue frame is that otherwise it looks like i graduated from community college (it's generational: when my mom first read her acceptance letter back in the day and saw said "...JUNIOR UNIVERSITY," her first thought was "shit! i applied to a JC!").

tangodeltagolf said...

Hey! I graduated from a JC. Though I'm not sure where that diploma is right now.

Is yours in Latin? I saw one from Howard Law once that "Universitas Howardiana Washingtonii" or some such. Seemed to stretch that dead tongue as far as it could go.

Interesting point, because of an official effort at purging Latin from California law, the UC uses none, even in honors notations. Ergo, I graduated "with honors", rather than "cum laude". That historical trend is actually creating a little bit of a disadvantage for me now pursuing a legal education: most of my exposure to law thus far has been in California, but you have to learn the Latin terms in law school, both because they teach for all 50 states (and international) and covering historical case law, and because the traditional terminology best captures and abbreviates relevant concepts. I have to go over Black's and Wikipedia ahead of time to brush up now.

lauren said...

nothing but love for JCs, tom - my point is merely that stanford is a different beast. i could be wrong, but i'm pretty sure there's no latin at all on my diploma - o, that ever-so-modern jane s.

speaking of keeping things current, sweet christ, watch where you point that wikipedia! it is the bane of my existence (predictable, given my profession), and where truth goes to die!

tom (s.) said...

Looking at my diploma (nicely framed, thank yew), there is in fact no Latin. There is, however, Olde English on there -- "to all to whom these Letters shall come Greeting" -- as well as odd capitalization choices. But it is entirely in (some form of) English; they left zee German auf of it.

(See? I made a funny! Auf, off, auf... oh never mind.)

Tom said...

Er hat eine kleine Witze gemacht. Sehr kleine.

Just playin' on the JC thing. But I did go to SMC, "UC Santa Monica", as its known, so there!

If it weren't for Wikipedia, how would we know that the evil dictator Charlie Chaplin tried to take over the world, before facing the greater power of the Un, who Un-nazied the world forever?