Monday, August 31, 2009

brunchy munchy.

brunch is an essential part of new york existence. as my friend said, serving brunch is obligatory for every decent establishment with a kitchen. the early afternoon get-together may be most important social gathering of the week – usually at least once in a weekend, but sometimes twice – because there is no hurry back to work or home to sleep. thus, new yorkers cherish their favorite brunch spots.

while i am quite sure you can find decent brunch almost anywhere in the city, i will mention a couple of places i enjoyed while visiting.

rice serves an elaborate brunch in the weekends. the one i visited is located next to fort greene park and the tables outside offer a beautiful green urban view. the orange juice was exquisitely fresh and my coconut and lime french toast mouthwatering. an additional touch were these scones that arrived to our table as appetizers in addition to fresh lemon curd to spread on top. yummy.

also available at rice is a new york favorite of mine: all you can drink brunches. you can usually choose from mimosas or bloody marys and they definitely do keep them coming until you say "nay, no more..."

just a few blocks away is another amazing brunch location, the general greene. as a prime example of what is happening in brooklyn restaurant scene, it was co-founded by a long-term fine-dining pastry chef. their artisanal and local produce centered menu offers incredibly tasty options whether you're in the mood for fresh fruit'n'yogurt or steak'n'eggs. i had their yogurt parfait and it was heavenly: cinnamon dusted granola on top of fresh homemade yogurt and chopped fruit. they also have a small diy ice-cream cart in the front where their own frozen delicacies are sold. flavors such as lemon-basil, fresh mint chocolate and peanut butter+salty bacon+banana (yup!!) are exciting and new and at least the first one is ah-mazing... if you don't want to take my word for it, read this review of the restaurant in ny magazine.

what's on your favorite brunch menu?


when i lived in nyc five years ago, brooklyn was emerging as a viable, trendy option. williamsburg around bedford avenue was already filled with hipsters, but not gentrified to today's extent. also moving to brooklyn was usually a sign of the inability to afford living in manhattan or starting a family. i moved to billyburg because a part of me enjoys the slightly grimier surroundings and i traded my closet sized hole in soho to an actual room.

not today. a viable option has transformed to preference: an increasing number of people voluntarily and willingly choose brooklyn over manhattan. the neighborhoods are buzzing with restaurants, cafes, bars, stores and beautiful parks. the streets are lined with brownstones with cosy backyard gardens and the interiors of the houses are often completely revamped and modern. in comparison the minute greenery, the noise and the rather small villagey areas of manhattan that lose their appeal in the eyes of trendy new yorkers, the small neighborhoods of south brooklyn all walking distance from each other are attracting flocks of people just minutes from manhattan and with almost as much green grass only a few blocks away as you'd have at central park east.

needless to say, the most significant change in my trip this time was the time spent east of the east river – manhattan seemed to offer very little. to my biggest surprise i actually did not step once into the east village where i used to go regularly before. instead i walked the streets of my beloved williamsburg in addition to fort green (pic above), boerum hill, cobble hill and greenpoint.

although the streets of brooklyn neighborhoods are greener and more spacious, the vibe of nyc is present. the economy has affected all of the big apple and people are less pompous and more laid-back, but the active optimism that pushes new yorkers is constantly apparent in the everyday lives of young brooklynites.

hence, most of my forthcoming recommendations will be from brooklyn. i will write about restaurants, stores and museums; anything else you wanna hear about? let me know!

Friday, August 28, 2009

still here...

i should've known i'd be too busy to update while in town. i've been running like mad catching up with friends, enjoying the neighborhood, eating amazing food, visiting some sights and, yes, conducting some serious but very selective shopping. there are a mere two full days left and i'm off to see edward scissorhands underneath the brooklyn bridge just about now, but i wanted to provide a sneak peek of my new shoe love.

i will not take these babies off my feet all winter. seriously.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

whoopie pie!

greetings from rainy nyc! horribly jetlagged (yet slightly less than my sister) i am enjoying my morning coffee at my friends' brooklyn living room. there really isn't a better time to update, so here comes the first series of recommendations.

after we arrived in the afternoon, some coffee was deserved and needed. we headed out to one girl cookies artisanal bakery for iced coffee and some whoopie pies. the pumpkin pie flavored ones are heavenly, spicey pieces of soft cookie and filling. i might just have found a contender for beard papa's cream puffs...

for dinner we headed back to my old hood, willyburg, and the trusted old chai thai. it used to be great and a local favorite of mine, now was decent, but the familiar atmosphere made me feel at home instantly. nevertheless, still a refreshing change from the thai we are served in helsinki... and the decor everywhere is so stimulating.

Friday, August 21, 2009


it is nyc time. i am leaving with antti nylen's collection vihan ja katkeruuden esseitä (essays of hatred and bitterness) which i haven't had the time to read. the author himself could be described as a paradox: a dandy feminist, a conservative catholic and a vegan. riiiight.

he formed a playlist for his essays below and it's downloaded on my ipod, ready to inspire.

Pulp: The Fear
Pulp: 59 Lyndhurst Grove
Morrissey: Dear God, Please Help Me
Gang of Four: Damaged Goods
Islaja: Pete P.
Islaja: Sydänten ahmija
The Smiths: Bigmouth Strikes Again
The Smiths: You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby
Nico: No One Is There
Jarvis Cocker: I Will Kill Again

so, in case you imagined i'd travel to the city of fast sarcasm with a spirit filled with naïve energy, think again. also reading some anti-consumerism thoughts might just do me good before landing into a bonafide shopping paradise.

laters, gators!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


several bloggers, such as petra and anna-maria, were captured by hel-looks, and yours truly was also amongst them. my second time at hel-looks felt just as uneasy as the first even though the duo behind the blog are incredibly nice and comforting. despite flow festival being dubbed "helsinki fashion week" by some people and "hipster hell" by others, i just noted familiar faces and stylish people.

i was shot on friday after running from a hectic day at work straight to the festival area. my gear wasn't planned nor did i go for anything in particular. compared to many other festival goers, my look was very un-fashion forward. my guiding theme for the entire weekend was comfort and ease: looseness, flat shoes and layered warmth.

the pic turned out great – no thanks to the model who looks like she gained about 10lbs since last seen, hasn't slept for a week and whose feet pointing inward were already considered a sign of pigeon-toed retardation *smirk*. i felt good in the outfit: happy and glittery candy pink bliss.

cheers to the photographer and whatevs to the lousy model.

photo courtesy of hel-looks; top diesel black gold, jeans acne hug worn baggy, boots dr martens, purse swedish hasbeens, sunglasses marc jacobs.

Monday, August 17, 2009

i wish i had a girl with a big avocado...

three days of festival mayhem are over. i'm beat and it seems everyone else who attended is also suffering from some serious overflow.

the blogosphere is filled with pics and stories of the festival, but here's my brief musical recap of flow.

day one. we arrived early for heartsrevolution who unfortunately failed to impress. at first i thought i was uninspired. when the same happened with le corps mince de francoise who are amazing and have great energy performing live, i knew something was off other than my mood.

they really lost a lot of their magic in the tent. it is unfortunate that while an increasing success translates to larger audiences most groups just aren't meant to go stadium... or really even out of the dingy club basement. with this i do not mean or want to sound like i don't think bands that are at their best at small venues were any less great than megasupertrouper stars – no way and usually quite the opposite! grander does not imply better when it comes to music, i thinks. however, it seems several bands that played in the tent suffered from a stage too large – some groups just cannot tackle a bigger venue no matter how incredible they were at smaller clubs. bummer bummer bummer.

friday's high was produced by a set of elderly gents. i was ecstatic to see organ play. the gentlemen seemed truly surprised and humbled by the excited audience that sang along – not only to "kundi meikkaa" (roughly "the guy wears make-up") – but also to other songs.

saturday arrived with hesitation and i certainly wasn't sure what to expect. i remained disappointed with the tent, but i was treated to white lies and the amazing grace. although i missed the handsome furs because of grace's buttocks (that actually seem to have a chance of a more exciting life than madonna's...), i calculated the loss replaceable since the duo are fans of finland and will certainly make it to my favorite bar – probably sooner rather than later.

come sunday i was knackered and felt cold all day. but a hefty set of beer helped save the day, as did jenny wilson and her dress.

i saw lily's nipples and finally experienced fever ray from a spot where i could appreciate the show. and boy did i appreciate it!! ultimate disturbing beauty.

sunday's freakout (in the most positive sense possible) came in the form of fashion-designer-goes-dj. daniel palillo played at the diesel u:music area and we danced through the entire set.

although blur's girls and boys had everyone jumping erratically around, the gem below really sparked some good old memories. and some misheard lyrics...

again this year the organization of the facilities at the festival were flawless – although we could have appreciated some more helpful security guards with our movement in and out the designated drinking areas – there were plenty of bathrooms that were decently clean, the food was rather pricey but at least tastier than pricey festival food ever is and the area itself felt cosy. but as with all festivals, i fear this one is getting a little too big for itself. let's hope not, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

we can festival.

a very brief update before i wrap myself in rain gear and head off to suvilahti for the last day of flow festival. so far the highest points have gone to organ (a 70's (yes!!) finnish synth pop group...) and grace jones. the lady is seriously amazing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


friday night was all about style bloggers unite. i was invited to join silver and petra at a21 cocktail lounge for champagne, fun and blog gossip. our gracious and always so gentlemanly host had some exciting news for us and there were plenty of reasons for toasting. and toast we did.

we continued to dtm for an overdose of madonna songs and drinks. while the gracefully fawn-like beauty petra and sleek'n'slick silver kept dancing like there's no tomorrow, i stood back and had the pleasure to catch up with the forever stylish mv.

as much i love being low maintenance and spending a surprisingly large part of the summer in the countryside, there aren't many things to beat the feeling of dolling up properly for a night out in the city. because everyone including myself adores balmain's cristophe decarnin, the night's outfit consisted of a house of balmain inspired grey jersey dress with stunning shoulder detailing, a studded clutch bag, grandiose earrings and my current fave heels. although i had a teeny bit more makeup on friday, i usually go almost as barefaced as below.
dress and purse by zara, sandals by topshop, earrings bought from the street in manhattan.

thanks y'all! i had fun and looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

smug and conceited?

time flies when you're having fun... last week was extremely busy in addition to being hot and humid. i had loads of work, suffered and tried to recuperate from a summer cold, saw madonna and had several visitors in town. therefore, i'm running a little behind with my postings.

way back last wednesday i had lunch with anna at the four seasons. in addition to exchanging greetings and keeping up with latest news we also shared some thoughts on blogging. part of our meta-discussion touched on the topic of blog writing as a narcissistic endeavor – surely a topic most bloggers are familiar with either through feedback from anonymous comments or friends+fam. we both agreed that having a style centered blog is definitely somewhat self-satisfied, but ultimately saw very little wrong with it.

obviously one could always say that posting any number of your thoughts for others to read and comment is always quite egotistical. add the fact that you remain as your own editor-in-chief and master censor the project starts to look slightly more so; thinking your ideas are worthy of publishing without submitting them to any outside evaluation may be a tad on the smug side. generally (published) writers of all kind snicker at researchers, poets and novelists who self-publish because it is regarded as a sign of desperation and non-existent self-criticism. the former applies to all bloggers: we're just a conceited lot of suckers who ignore publishing authorities.

the addition of photos of yourself to the lot heightens the certainty of self-satisfaction: "hello, it's me and i look fab, dontcha think?" needless to say, i hardly consider myself a full-blown style blogger because i want to retain variety in my topics, and admit i definitely felt iffy about the entire project at first. nevertheless, i have started to enjoy its revelatory results. the struggle with taking acceptable photos continues (my sony cybershot is the crappiest gadget purchase ever made...), but i have overcome my personal hesitations with self-exposure. it's all good fun, really.

thus, there's narcissism and narcissism. the innocent type comes down to being easily excitable and cheerful about one's life. many style bloggers, such as sugar kane, seek style enlightenment and self-knowledge through their postings. for example, i am continuously surprised by my own photos and the way my own eyes distort my perception in the mirror. after seeing my images i have been forced to contest certain body image issues. realizations that unveil while writing your thoughts down apply also to self-images; via explicit handling both one's ideas and one's style become more cognizant.

the malicious kind of narcissism exploits and manipulates. seeking admiration from strangers through posts is usually innocent enough, but surely the blogosphere consists of some style bloggers who seek personal (usually financial) advantage through blogging – nothing wrong with being ambitious or rewarded for being popular, per se, i think, and i salute bloggers who actually make a living from their writing – but sometimes the methods seem suspiciously pious, such as "suggesting" one receive discounts at stores in exchange for blog exposure.

bloggers' egocentrism is also challenged by the sociability of posting. a significant part of enjoying the blogosphere comes from communicating with others. linking sources of inspiration is both courteous and informative, and while it is undoubtedly an essential feature of blog-encounters that the major part of visitors refrain from commenting, most writers (myself included) enjoy feedback. i'm sure you can relate to the idea that the silence of a few hundred daily visitors feels slightly creepy and actually creates some self-conscious paranoia: "why aren't they saying anything..." a self-inflicted paradox between knowingly going public and the desire to be acknowledged verbally for being just that conceited...

nonetheless, most style bloggers seem harmlessly self-centered. the few that i have talked to seem actually only averagely interested in mere surface, but are distinctly verbal about their thoughts on style. additionally, self-ridicule and -irony are plentiful as is pretty tough skin. don't get me wrong, no-one likes bashers or needlessly harsh evaluation, but according to my meagre empirical experiences they're a pretty level-headed lot by comparison to many fashion or looks interested people.

as partial proof, i offer you today's contribution to the altar of narcissus: my outfit for our luncheon. another simple black dress with folds down the front and back that create a slight egg shape below an empire waist. the length of the dress combined with ankle covering shoes creates trunk-like legs, but... well, whatever. i felt quite allright kankling away on my shapeless limbs.

click to enlarge, if you wish. dress by zara, sandal boots by office, bag by vivienne westwood world's end, bracelets by bless.

since you're out there, reading... well, wanna contribute? do you think blogging is a sign of smugness? are we just uncritical buffoons thinking too high and mightily about ourselves?

polaroids worth seeing.

robert mapplethorpe's photographs have fundamentally affected the imagery of sensuality and corporeality. his blatantly erotic nudes that everyone seems to remember him from were enclosed into less scandalous images of flora and classical echoing studies of the human form that radiate beauty instead of presenting obvious, in-your-face provocation.

just like many contemporaries who outlived him – such as nan goldin – mapplethorpe drew his inspiration and models from the rich subcultures of new york city. his continuous preferred format was the polaroid: the fast formation of the small picture fascinated him as the perfect medium for anxiously moving and spontaneous times. despite his later experiments with other media and larger formats, his polaroids strike me as the most definitive and impressive.

if you are by any change visiting oxford, uk, or anywhere nearby, his polaroids are exhibited at modern art oxford until 13 september. if you cannot make it, just browse around at

photos via dazed digital

Monday, August 10, 2009

mad about a donna.

well, yes, madonna was in helsinki. i was there just like 85k others. it was my second experience with the sticky and sweet tour – i traveled to amsterdam in 2008 to see her since i believed it was the last time her madgesty would step on stage and i never believed she'd venture to my hometown. again i was proven wrong.

i'm rather glad she did since this time i was up close and personal. surrounded by excited fans who sang along throughout the show and jumped like mad during "like a prayer" the experience was memorable. we held a pre- and afterparty with a smoking bbq and madonna playing all day and night long. our little crew of front row ticket holders partied less than 10 meters from the stage – close enough to start wondering whether madonna's buttocks actually have a separate existence from the lady herself...

dressing up to a show of a fashion icon and the original chameleon is undoubtedly difficult (as if she'd care... well whatever). considering that i was still slightly sick and the amount of walking and standing, my choice for the hot night was a sequin mini dress worn as a tunic, a large wool scarf to keep me warm on the walk back home, faux leather leggings, boots and a large bag. (click to enlarge)

scarf from my mother, dress by h&m, leggings by american apparel, pirate boots by vivienne westwood, bag by vivienne westwood world's end.


after being a teacher for several years i've had to grapple with packing vast collections of information in compact and easily graspable units. understanding complex ideas starts from bits and pieces, but once you've gone beyond the basis it is incredibly difficult to return to the basics. although my previous profession is infested with individuals who believe that the more complex you sound, the smarter you appear, i never felt at ease amongst them. abstract theory is difficult enough, even when explained with clarity, and needs as little additional jargon magic as possible. in fact therein lies a major part of the difficulty: how to expound intricate concoctions clearly. let's say i failed more often than i succeeded.

after school our primary source of information is the news. the tortuous realities of everyday life hardly frustrate less than abstract reasoning. the evolution of newsbroadcasting favors glimpses and brief details – what else could you expect from a mere ten minute tv show covering all important current global events. even the 30 minute news coverage of my childhood where every story took several minutes to unfold is a fading memory. the kaleidoscopic reality portrayed in the repetitive slogan-like storytelling of modern television news creates more of a chaotic and scattered idea of current events than seems necessary. the coverage hardly ever comes full-bodied with background and contesting interpretations; the always relevant political biases of newshouses are visible only in the selection of headlines and their wording because there just really isn't much to call 'content' anymore.

in search of depth there is the possibility offered by quality magazines and online newspapers. although adding favorites and other selection tools help, they also limit the type of information that comes our way. my background provides the necessary instruments for picking out obvious faults and relevant texts that help me in avoiding and ignoring mumbo jumbo – definitely a set neither available to everyone nor something many people value. despite this advantage, i still feel like i'm failing at keeping up with what is up in the world.

quality teaching, journalism and news reporting all share the same elements: cohesion, clarity and profundity. without a vast amount of preknowledge it is impossible to collect the essentials and regroup the tokens into a cohesive and informative package. thus, it seems obvious that in order attain profound results a teacher, journalist or reporter must hold tremendous amounts of info in addition to being able to sort the entire mess out.

the facile method is to choose a viewpoint and follow the path created by one stance. more than often the selection process becomes narrower and almost inevitably leads to a bias of some sort. it seems that to attain necessary depth for one point of view we need to pick sides. the method, nonetheless, fails in a world where multiple standpoints should be accounted for in order to attain any sort of clarity. another question altogether is the having the capability and the will to acknowledge different stances.

surely it need not be as grave as the above may sound. bias is unavoidable and somewhat necessary; life becomes much easier to handle when we realize that such a thing as true objectivity does not exist. but these postmodern fragmented realities need stories – albeit not the grand ones – and good old storytelling. we still need neat packaging and people who take the time to acquire info and stuffit for us.

while we become less auditory and more visual (anybody still listen to the radio for news?), new tools for representing complex phenomena are always welcome. while timelines and graphs are informative additions to information distribution, they always lack in representation. hence, i salute designer/animator jonathan jarvis and his new venture called the new mediators. his aim is to demystify without losing the true complicatedness of the issue he is explaining. with simple tools and temporal diagrams to provide in-depth relations he takes information graphics to the next level.

here's an example where jarvis explains the credit crisis:

obviously creating such pieces requires every bit of the understanding teaching or writing properly does – and possibly more. the time and effort needed limits the use for only a minuscule part of the baffling phenomena around us, but i do see potential here. therefore, i look forward to seeing jarvis' tools used by creative groups of researchers and journalists for exemplary information packages for the many intricate issues around us.

what phenomenon would you like to have explained?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

travel feverish.

there are some special people in this world. sometimes they come in the form of younger sisters. like mine.

she came up with a clever plan of going to new york this fall. despite there being loads of friends in nyc who could show her around, she realized a need for a personal guide, moi. hence, she purchased tickets for her and i, and we're off to the big apple in a couple of weeks. sweet, huh?

part of the preparation is to get familiar with the destination once again. since i already know my way around, a great way to embrace the environment could be tactile, like wrapping brooklyn around meself. soft-maps quilts by haptic lab provide a full immersion into a neighborhood of your choice. they're perfect at this time when i'm a little sick with a slight fever and obviously fearing my trip could be postponed by an unfortunate episode of h1n1.

they also come customized to yer whims in case you feel the need to lay under your childhood hometown or the most romantic place in the world – wherever you may think it is.

which location would you want to wrap yourself into?

photos haptic lab; tweaked by me.