Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lessons from American Royalty

Ahh, November--such a wonderful month 'tis this year. The leaves are {finally} changing, the weather {finally} cooling down, the seasonal dysphoria {luminously} still at bay, and wisdom {unpredictably} bursting forth all around like little turkey coffin births. Just over the past few weeks, I've absorbed a few half-baked lessons myself from American royalty. Let's talk about them now.

1. Quiz question:

What does {serious} money smell like?

A] A new trailer fresh off the lot
B] Low-ammonia hair color from the A&P
C] That fresh $20 bill they give you at the plasma clinic
D] The Estee Lauder offices on 5th Avenue

Answer: All of the above, of course! But most especially, D] The Estee Lauder offices on 5th Avenue.

A couple Wednesdays ago, as part of a Sniffapalooza event, I got to go up to the corporate offices of Estee Lauder and have a gander at their new offerings, which included their Private Collection line and some collectibles. And talk about a experience. Let's start at the beginning.

The glamntacular began as I walked into the lobby of the 5th avenue building (Trump Tower? Is that the one with the FAO Schwarz on the ground floor?), and there to greet us were two young women from Estee Lauder. They were dressed identically in some ivory ensemble with taupe shoes, with lots of makeup and blonde hair pulled back into tight pony tails, kind of like classy updates of Robert Palmer's backup band, only with clipboards instead of guitars. Of course they were also almost blindingly gorgeous. So, Dad, to answer your question about whether there really are girls in New York like the ones in The Devil Wears Prada, yes, there are.

The glambots took us up to the 40somethingth floor into the corporate office, where more glamnbots roamed and we were treated to coffee, Pellegrino, cookies and other snacks while we waited to be led into the original office of Estee Lauder herself. The waiting room was impressive--lots of desaturated blue and old-fashioned furniture and the like. I thought to myself, "I could get used to this." Then I thought, "No, wait. Actually, I don't think I could. I would need to modernize a bit, splash some uurnge around, maybe some LED lights." After a few minutes, a part of us were led into EL's office, where Aerin Lauder herself showed us the new stuff.

That office--yowz! Now that was a glamn attack. The first thing you noticed was the narcotic floral smell, possibly tuberose with gardenia and maybe some lily. Next was the overload of periwinkle, gilt, trompe l'oeil and general luxury. It was fascinating listening to Aerin Lauder talk about the new line and her grandmother and all, especially with all the photos around. And the view of Central Park was breathtaking. It was a bit overwhelming, I must say, and of course for a little while there I did have that Radioheadly "what the hell am I doing here?" feeling. But that may have been the stain on my shirt talking (which I didn't notice until after I'd left the house) (not that most of my clothes aren't stained in one way or another) (but I don't like to think of them as stains--let's call them "birthmarks").

Then we left EL's office, and I had some more coffee. Someone asked me if I was a collector (cue Radiohead), and shortly thereafter I left.

So what's the lesson in this? Is there even a lesson, or is that whole "lessons from American royalty" thing just a way of bracketing the entry? Firstly, yes, there's a lesson. Secondly, how dare you. The lesson, and remember I told you they were half-baked, is thus: I realized as I walked away from that 5th avenue building that after seeing all that glamn and flash and mon-ay, I don't think I'll ever be impressed by yuppies again. So the next time you feel intimidated or out-classed by someone with a bigger bank account, think this: "This beeyotch may have money, but s/he's no Estee Lauder. I bet hir toilet isn't even solid gold." And there you have it, lesson 1.

2. Quiz Question.

What does superstardom look like?

A] A $700,000,000,000 diamond-and-African baby-studded ball gown worn on the red carpet
B] DD breasts + a 12-inch waist + lips like innertubes on a face that doesn't move
C] The revolving door at a new agey rehab clinic with its own Pinkberry inside
D] Monster shitloads of straw-like blond(ish) hair extensions

Answer: Hmm, I guess we have another all of the above here, but what it looked like to me on Black Friday was D! D! D!!!!

It was sometime after sundown, and I was walking from Pier 1 on 5th Avenue (what is it with 5th avenue?!?!) up to Bath & Body Works. I pass this store called Intermix (which I'd never really noticed before), and there were all these photographers and gawkers outside, so I thought I'd hang out and see who the fuss was all about. A few more people were wondering, because one of the photogs kept answering, "Linn-zay Low-hong." (He had a weird, maybe Chineseish accent that I could barely understand.) Whahappah?!?! Lindsay Lohan?!?! I stuck around for probably 2 hours (actually 20 minutes) and strained to get a glimpse. I finally did and walked in. I think I got about 5 feet away from her (she was apparently with her mom and sister or something) and just kinda stared for a few seconds. She was gorgeous, wearing all black and tons of eye makeup with a mountain of blond hair that was simply too gargantuan not to have been a weave. I was starstruck, and it's the only time I've ever been so. It was kind of tacky when she noticed me gawking and mouthed, "Hey, you got any blow?" but whatevs. (OK, that part didn't actually happen.) I wish I'd had a camera--I might have dared to ask her for a picture (probably not). But since I didn't, I just kinda walked out, hung out a little more and went on my way.

What's the lesson in #2? Guess what? Same as #1! The next time you're intimidated by someone, tell yourself, "This person might be zaboobulous, but s/he's no Lindsay Lohan."

For the third blooplet, I'll just tell you the lesson outright: Ed Shepp is a megaspectacular super-being who is so ahead of his time it gives him diarrhea on a semi-regular basis. Here's the backup for that lesson: I was noodling around gawker a few days ago, as is my wont, when they had a story on that bearded guy who wears women's clothes, with the following quote, quoted from elsewhere:

"Andre," said Mr. McKenna, "you look amazing!"

ACTUALLY, he did not say it in quite that way. It happens that the adjective "amazing," pronounced with a bunch of superfluous vowels, is how fashion types, and also certain urban gay men and also one or two tuned-in heterosexual copycats, lately express their approval. Amazing has replaced such locutions as "genius" and "major," which today sound even more old-hat than "fabulous."

And of course when I read that my first reaction was, "Way, whahappah!!! I was obsessively saying amazing years ago, AS THIS BLOG ENTRY ATTESTS. I must be totes part of the cognoscenti & stuff!!!" So this lesson was really just re-affirming something I already know, that I am living the trends years before they happen, so many years that no one but me ever makes the connection. But now we have proof, so there you go.

Whew! That's all the lessons for now, and thanks cod, because that took forever to relate! One more thing, though: I'm so glad to see Lohan and Foxy Brown in the news (but when's the Lohan NOT in the news?!), since I name-checked both of them in my new xmas song (yay!), which I'll postannounce shortly.

And that's the beep for now, gzooplets.

Ed Shepp

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