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Three Must-See Films This Month

only-lovers_web.jpgOnly Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch's latest is the ultimate hipster vampire film: crazily romantic, darkly funny and musically adventurous. Married undead couple Adam (a lean and brooding Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (an unearthly Tilda Swinton) love each other madly but can't seem to live together. When Eve travels from her home in Tangier to visit Adam, who lives in Detroit, playing music and collecting guitars, Eve's sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) unceremoniously drops in to start trouble. There's also a funky '70s rock star vibe to their lifestyle. A scene where they slow dance to Denise LaSalle's "Trapped By A Thing Called Love" made me insane.

nympho_web.jpgNymphomaniac (Volumes I & II)
Clocking in at over four hours, Lars von Trier's two-part cinematic provocation begins with an elderly gentleman (Stellan Skarsgård) who kindly brings home a battered woman named Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg). While she recuperates, Joe tells stories from her erotic past, like a slutty Scheherazade, about losing her virginity (to Shia LaBeouf) and a contest with a girlfriend to see who can screw more guys on a train. In Volume II, Joe tries to regain her mojo after she suddenly loses her ability to have an orgasm, and her erotic evolution takes a dark turn. It's filthy, funny at times and kind of fabulous.

The-Raid_web.jpgThe Raid 2: Berandal
In this new Indonesian martial arts action film from director Gareth Evans, police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover at a prison and befriends a gangster's son (Arifin Putra) in order to infiltrate the organization and ferret out corrupt cops. Scene after scene includes outrageous, amazingly choreographed fight sequences -- in the prison yard, restaurants, a nightclub and the subway -- that assault your senses. It's also peppered with great villains (Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man are two of my favorites). Trust me, you have never experienced an action film more intense, over the top or relentlessly enjoyable than this gem.

Only Lovers Left Alive photo by Sandro Kopp, Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

10 Etsy Finds: The Bibliophile Edition

1. James Franco Book Club Tote Bag

il_570xN.576255164_ppuq.jpgThis tote makes it easy and convenient to hide carry around all of James Franco's novels, poetry collections, etc that you totally own.

2. "Sylvia Plath Kicks Metaphorical Ass" Literary Poster Print
il_570xN.438196571_9pzh.jpgThe OG member of the Sad Girls Club

3. 90's Pop Divas - A Mini Coloring Book

il_570xN.478084134_acrf.jpgColoring books are books too! From Vitamin C to Aaliyah, this zine is a crash course in '90s pop nostalgia.

4. Library Card Notebooks

il_570xN.222971124.jpgRemember the good ol' days when checking out a book from the library required a stamp and actual human contact? Me neither.

5. Book Worm Sweater Brooch Set

il_570xN.560712567_gahe.jpgThe librarian-chic look isn't complete without a pair of cat eye frames and dapper sweater clips.

6. Ernest Hemingway Onsie

il_570xN.576477012_nowo.jpgFor the bookish baby who is soooo over Dr. Seuss.

7. Ampersand Scarf

il_570xN.544446744_2q22.jpgA pashmina ode to the ampersand. Without this character-saving ligature, so many great tweets would go untweeted.

8. Colorful 1980s Deadstock Vintage Eyeglasses

il_570xN.556301611_70l1.jpgLets face it, even if you have perfect vision, reading is ~30% more fun with cute glasses.

9. Trashy Romance Novel Scented Candle
il_570xN.572675127_hs1z.jpgWe all have our guilty pleasures. For some, it's Ke$ha and for others, it's sniffing candles that smell like trashy romance novels.

10. Björk "Debut" Album as Penguin Books Poster

il_570xN.509168648_sxbb.jpgPenguin needs to give Björk a book deal ASAP.

5 Must-See Art Shows Opening This Week

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 3.03.14 PM.png

Malick Sidibe opens an exhibition of photos taken from the 60s to the 80s on Friday, March 28th, 6 to 8 p.m., at Jack Shainman Gallery (524 West 24th Street). The shots capture "a generation of urban Malians, or Bamakois, as they came of age in the time of Pan-African independence and rock and roll." This is Sidibe's fifth solo show with the gallery. In July of 1999 he did a beautiful swimsuit photo shoot on the beaches of Bamako for Paper. Check that out here.

alonzo_29_theimposter.jpgSan Francisco artist Lisa Alonzo opens "Vanilla Scented Sovereignty" on Thursday, March 27, 6 to 8 p.m. at Claire Oliver Gallery (513 West 26th Street). Her hyper-colorful works look good enough to eat, but "the destructive nature of the object is subverted in its seductive presentation."

On Friday night, March 28th, CRUSH fanzine celebrates their latest issue "I Am Desi Santiago" in honor of the incredible artist (and sometimes PAPER contributor) with a party at Le Bain (444 West 13th Street). Music by Casey Spooner and Donkey.

dc_sd_scanner_ed_webH.jpgBitforms Gallery (529 West 20th Street) opens a cool solo exhibit, "Small Data," by the Spanish artist Daniel Canogar on Thursday, March 27th, 6 to 8:30 p.m. This should appeal to both the fans and haters of technology, as the artist likes to use discarded electronic materials and display them as "contemporary still lives, insidious reminders of our own aging process."

NUTUREart (56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn) opens a group show called "To begin, at the beginning" on Friday, March 28th, 7 to 9 p.m.. It was curated by Sam Perry and includes works by emerging artists including Megan Broadmeadow, Mike Calway-Fagen, Pascal-Michel Dubois, Katalin Hausel, Mikael Kennedy, Tommy Kwak and Phuc Lee. It's up until April 25th.


art2_logo.jpgStarting next week and running until April 28th, the French Embassy is presenting a month-long arts festival called Art2. There is a big schedule of exhibitions, lectures, workshops etc. around NYC. The complete list is here.

NY_GRAFIK_640.jpgThe folks behind the underground London events known as the "Lost Lectures" have teamed with Hyperallergic to host their first New York edition on April 25th. There will be speakers, performers, installations and more from Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, Choire Sicha, Barbara Nitke and the street dance troupe Flex (is King). Get your tickets here and then they'll tell you the top-secret location.

Feinstein_Rococo-Hut-in-Park.jpeg Madison Square Park launches their summer, public art installation on Thursday, May 1st, with three "garden follies" made of metal by the New York-Based artist Rachel Feinstein

See more Spring Art shows this month and next here.

Festival Cuteness From Fruition Las Vegas


Coachella isn't just a festival, it's a culture -- so if you're heading out to the valley this year, try not to look like a total narc. A few pieces from one of our favorite stores -- Fruition Las Vegas -- caught our eye.

YUMs (Young Urban Males) can vibe out in an eagle-soaring-over-the-sunset graphic tee or a Stussy bucket hat while chics can enjoy crop tops, Levis distressed hot pants and RTH beads.

Just think: if Jimmy Kimmel is still out to catch festival goers lying about loving fake Coachella bands, millions of people will be in awe of your impeccable style when the video goes viral.

Check out the rest of Fruition Las Vegas' wolf-embellished festival wear here

Gabe Saporta Gives Us The Deets

afDSC_6088.jpgGabe in his Slub baseball tee.

Though anything goes when it comes to rock 'n' roll, Cobrastarship front man Gabe Saporta is all about the details.

"It's the little things -- like rolling up your sleeves, tucking in your shirt or cuffing your pants --that can make a look cool ," says Saporta, who, naturally, cuffed his Gap Lived-In Skim Khaki pants for our Styld.by shoot. He made his white Lived In Wash Solid Shirt look smart by hiking up the sleeves and added a skinny belt and bright running shoes to his Slub Baseball Tee and skinny jeans. Check out all three looks at here.


DSC_5988.jpg Gabe in his Lived-In Skim Khaki

Saporta says what he wears has been important to him, since way back when he was a thrift store-shopping punk rock teenager in the '90s. "I was always looking for a green cardigan like Kurt Cobain had," says Saporta. "And I loved stuff with stripes and cool patterns -- basically anything that was weird. You really end up putting a lot of effort into looking like you don't care."

Saporta, however, is still making that effort. Asked if his wife, fashion designer Erin Fetherston, ever gives him style advice, Saporta says his fashion sense is what initially drew her to him.

"The moment she says she fell in love with me is when I showed her some pants that I'd had pleated," Saporta laughs. "She was like, 'I have never heard of man adding pleats. Wow.'"

afDSC_5916.jpgDSC_5959.jpgGabe in his Lived In Wash Solid Shirt

Head to Gap Styld.by for more.

Hair and makeup: Stephen Thevenot and Anneliese Tiecke

Joan Rivers Was on The Tonight Show and It Was the Best


Joan Rivers was on the Tonight Show last night after being banned from the network's late night circuit for almost 30 years, and her interview was so fun and tender. Joan 4 lyfe!

Watch Lindsay Lohan scream "I worked with Lily Tomlin!" while she and Billy Eichner destroy a car with a sledgehammer. [PopCultureBrain]

tumblr_mnbprxrupN1qzaxd1o1_500.jpgAgain and again! [LaughterKey]

Y4S2.jpgDoes New Hampshire's Dover Jazz Ghost play a sax and wear shades? Should we move to NH? [Mlkshk]

ghost-photographs_11.jpgSpeaking of ghosts, these photos of ghosts having fun times by artist Angela Deane are so good. [Flavorwire]

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! Watch this model transform into Marge Simpson and try to sleep tonight. Those eyes, those eyeeeees. [Uproxx]

tumblr_n33w0sdkhp1qewacoo4_500.jpgHipster Meryl Streep [Twentytwowords]

tumblr_n34mdb7Mil1qa70eyo6_400.pngMovie posters re-imagined for another place and time by artist Peter Sutts. [Behance]

tumblr_kxpe36SfkA1qafo02o1_400.jpgSubscribe. [FYouNFMe]

ICYMI: This video of a road-ragey tail-gating Florida driver getting served a nice cold plate of karma is pretty excellent. He was later arrested. [Uproxx]

Jenny Johnson's Day at NASCAR: "It Was So Baller"

jennyjohnson_nascar_1.jpgMike and me on the track

Writer, comedian, Friend of Paper and unequivocally one of the funniest -- and bawdiest -- women on Twitter, Jenny Johnson, will be sharing her thoughts on sports, America, and other odds 'n ends in a new recurring column. This week, she introduces us to the world of NASCAR. Read on.

I love stock car racing. Shut up. Don't judge me. You're judging me. I said don't judge me, you dicks. Anyway... I had the wonderful opportunity of going to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race as the guest of driver Brad Keselowski who drives the #2 Miller Lite Ford for Penske Racing. For those of you who don't know what any of that means, it basically says I'm super awesome, I smell nice, so I get to do cool stuff cuz I write filthy jokes on the internet and people like it so they invite me to fun shit like car races. I can feel your jealousy now. Boy, how dumb you must feel for judging me earlier. Who's laughing now? Me. That's who.

So back to my redneck day.

I invited my good friend, comedian and writer Mike Burns a.k.a. @pizzanachos69 a.k.a. @DadBoner to join me for a fun-filled day of racing. I've gone to NASCAR races my entire life. I had always gone with my dad, and we'd drive in his pick-up truck and tailgate in the parking lot, listening to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. We'd drink beer and eat beef jerky like REAL Americans (it's okay if you want to pause to put your hand over your heart and recite the pledge of allegiance). My race day experiences had all been similar. Always with my dad and always at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Since my dad passed away a couple of years ago (not to bring the party down) I hadn't had much desire to attend another race, but when this opportunity to go to a different track with my good friend came out, I couldn't say "no." I thought my dad was probably gonna come back from the dead to kick my ass.

Since I NEVER drink and drive, I hired a car and driver for the day. It was...a little different pulling up in a blacked-out Cadillac in the infield directly in front of the track. While Mike and I tailgated in the parking lot (and drank Miller Lites as our driver rapidly picked up the cans and threw them away for us) I could feel this was going to be an entirely new race day experience for me.

jennyjohnson_nascar3.jpgMike and me and our Miller Lites

We got a nice morning beer buzz going and made our way into the track flashing our fancy passes that pretty much were all-access excluding getting in a race car and actually competing in the race. It was so baller. They even let Mike and I fill out our own names on our passes -- he decided to stick with his Twitter handle @pizzanachos69 while I opted for a more subtle and ladylike name so I wrote down Spinderella.

We met my friend Rutledge Wood who hosts Top Gear on the History Channel for a first-class tour of the garage. Rutledge is extremely popular with NASCAR fans. Not only do people love his show, but he used to be a fixture on the SPEED Channel during all of the races before the channel went kaput. I will say this, Rutledge signed every autograph and posed for every picture. Unbelievably nice guy. Really made me and Mike look like a couple of garbage assholes.

Rutledge took us over to meet Brad's teammate, driver Joey Logano. Brad had been nice enough to provide me with my very own Miller Lite cap so I could fit in with the crowd AND support him. Joey gave us a tour of his team's hauler where they have their race cars (they bring two cars to the track in case they end up having to go to a back-up car, which Joey did have to do because he had wrecked his primary car in practice the day before). It was something I had only seen on TV and I have to admit I was geeking out over the experience. We then made our way to the main stage where, to my surprise, Rutledge was introducing the drivers to the sold-out crowd along with special guest star Gonzo from The Muppets. Yes. Gonzo. I know. Now I FINALLY got your attention. I was star struck.

jennyjohnson_nascar2.jpg Hanging with my friend Brad Keselowski

As all 43 drivers were introduced, they walked across the stage, then got into the back of a truck where they were driven around the track to wave to the fans. Rutledge had to leave after driver introductions, so we met up with Matt Dusenberry who is the Director of Business Development for Brad Keselowski Inc. Matt led us to Brad's car on pit road where I could say "hi" to my pal before the race started. Now if you've ever watched a race, during the national anthem the drivers, their crew chiefs, their spouses, kids and pit crews all line up together by their race cars. It was extra fun to be able to stand there during all of the pre-race ceremonies. Being a lifelong racing fan it was a bit surreal to be standing there with everyone as it was something I had only seen from afar.

Before the race was about to start, we made our way to our super pimp suite courtesy of NASCAR entertainment. While Mike and I had said we would drink Miller Lite all day for Brad, they only offered Coors Light in the suite. Felt like we were really slumming it, but we managed to choke them down anyway like true American heroes. Looking around our suite we spotted a star-studded group of celebs. The Old Spice guy, the guy with the dreads from TMZ, Deebo from Friday and a guy with knuckle tattoos that looked kinda familiar but I couldn't come up with his name (think he was an X-Games dude or custom chopper guy or something), then me and Mike who write jokes on Twitter. Had we all taken a picture together, it would have made Ellen's Oscar selfie look like nothing but a group of well-dressed turds.

jennyjohnson_nascar4.jpgGonzo and me

The race got under way and we watched from our kick-ass seats, drank beers, laughed our faces off, and only got up for pee breaks. Unfortunately my least favorite driver won, but that was the ONLY downside. All and all it was the perfect race day. Thank you for reading about my redneck day. If you need me I'll most likely be with my trainer trying to work off all of the calories I consumed that day.

Huge thanks to Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Rutledge Wood, Matt Dusenberry, Zane Stoddard and Kim Ricard for all of their hospitality and to Mike Burns for being awesome.

Bok Bok and Kelela's "Melba's Call" Is all Kinds of Good


Great neo-R&B track from the rising-star Kelela. The LA-based singer hooked up with Alex Sushon (aka Bok Bok) for a couple of tracks on last year's Cut 4 Me mixtape, and she's back with the British DJ/producer for "Melba's Call."  Would rather the video showed more of her and less of the mixing-board forest, but she overcomes the obstacles.  Kelela is playing The Echo -- happy 10th anniversary -- out in LA on April 1st and 2nd and then swings out here to the newly-reopened Rough Trade NYC (64 North 9th Street, Williamsburg) on April 3rd and 4th.  Tickets are still available HERE.

Nymphomaniac Star Stacy Martin On Von Trier's Latest: "It's Not Erotic At All"

6353039510612000001746491_26_NYMPO2_20140313_NH_018 2.JPGStacy Martin at Nymphomanic's New York premiere. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

It is difficult to imagine anyone other than lithe, Parisian beauty Stacy Martin playing a younger Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac, but the former model almost didn't get the part. Von Trier saw her tapes, but wanted to pass on her, recalls the 23-year-old actress. Though Nymphomaniac is Martin's first film, the director's hesitation wasn't because of Martin's lack of experience -- it was because she reminded him too much of Gainsbourg.

For most filmmakers, aesthetic continuity would be a positive but not for the controversial director, who is used to pushing the boundaries of what we're familiar with on-screen. "He told me, 'I would've cast someone who looked completely different,'" Martin explains. "He wanted to make a portrait of a nymphomaniac. It didn't have to be this particular woman; it could be more of a universal thing. Well, I guess I messed that up." Although Martin was born in Paris, she now lives in London, and delivers self-deprecating quips like that with a distinctly British, deadpan sense of humor.

Martin herself nearly blew off the initial casting call, thinking it was another routine model casting. "My modeling agency asked me to go to this fashion casting and I said, 'Oh I've got class, you know, I really want to do acting now. I don't want to miss class for a casting.' And they said, 'You can go during your lunch break. If you go, you'll get this amount of money if you get it - which means you can do more acting classes!' So I reluctantly dragged my feet to wherever it was. It turned out that it was Des Hamilton doing the casting and he was casting for Lars' film." Thanks to the casting director, who convinced Von Trier to meet Martin in person after viewing her audition tapes, Martin went on to land a supporting role in one of the most talked-about films this year.

By now, it's no secret that Nymphomaniac's two-part, four hour running-time is packed with as many sex scenes as the film can hold. For what feels like an actual lifetime, we follow the anti-heroine Joe evolve from a young nymph to a middle-aged sex addict. For most of part one we watch "Young Joe," portrayed by Martin, naked in various positions with various men, including Shia LaBeouf. The myth that the actors "performed their own stunts" has been debunked (the film employs porn doubles for all the actors) and like many viewers and outspoken critics of the film, Martin is also tired of all the sex talk. On the subject of her sex scenes with LaBeouf, Martin compares them to the mundane routine of grocery shopping. "For me, it felt very mechanical, the sex," says Martin. "Especially filming it. It was very '1, 2, 3 --  OK, next position.' But that's what's great as well: Sometimes sex is quite mathematical. [Von Trier] takes all the romantic aspects of it out, although it can be very romantic -- and it can be a very beautiful thing - but he shows that it's sex and it's something that's part of us, part of our nature. The sex scenes are just part of the film, rather than being shocking. It's not erotic at all."

stacy-martin-nymphomaniac-part-1.jpgMartin as Young Joe in Nymphomaniac

Martin might be tired of discussing the details of her intimate on-screen moments with Mr. LaBeouf, but she has nothing but love for the controversial actor, who recently announced his retirement from public life. "He has this sort of energy. I don't know if it's American, or if it's just him, but he lifts everything up. You actually get to play. He's there, immediately, so all you have to do is react to what he's doing. As an actor that's a gift."

When sitting down to talk to Martin about the film, I was surprised by her enthusiastic presence. As Young Joe, Martin is meek and dead-eyed. Her thin body is quiet and demands nothing of the camera. Although it may be tempting to view Nymphomaniac as a celebration of female sexuality, Von Trier's gaze erases any chances of the film being perceived as feminist. Joe, along with her childhood friend B, don their "fuck me now" outfits to seduce men on trains and ritually chant in praise of the vulva. "Young Joe" may have started her formative years in an awesome, cult-ish womanist girl gang but in the hands of Von Trier, she's nothing more than a schoolgirl fantasy.

In an interview with Dazed and Confused magazine, Martin's co-star Sophie Kennedy Clark (B) defines Nymphomaniac as part of the sexual revolution for women in film, along with Lovelace and Blue Is the Warmest Color. Asked if she thinks the film's portrayal of sex is empowering, Martin agrees. "At the same time I don't want to put too much pressure on 'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a feminist,'" says Martin. "Yes, I'm a woman. So? Maybe that's feminist in its own way but for me to have the freedom to say, 'This is my body and I'm going to do what I want with it and I also have my limits,' that's me as a human being. I see the film more as that." For Martin, labeling herself a feminist is too limiting. "If you start using the word 'feminist,' like people use the word with Lars  -- 'misogynist' -- you put people in boxes," she says.

As always, the intentions of the auteur are unclear. But ultimately, who can disagree with Martin when she looks at you with wide eyes and says, "Lars' movies are universal. They're not just about a woman; they're not just about a man. They're about relationships. They're about life. They're about things that fuck up. They're about good and evil - because we have all of that in ourselves. I don't want to pinpoint it to one thing because he's so grand."

Like Martin implies, between the montages of penises and Shia Labeouf's questionable British accent, the message of the film is a moral one. For the director of the depression trilogy, Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011), and now Nymphomaniac, the world is unfeeling, its inhabitants are victims of it, and Von Trier's women are merely metaphors.

The Three Albums We're Most Excited About Next Month

CN_PoonehGhana_web.jpgCloud Nothings
Here and Nowhere Else  
(Carpark/Mom + Pop )
Following the near-universal acclaim of Cloud Nothings' 2012 release, Attack on Memory, their third LP, Here and Nowhere Else, doesn't disappoint, blasting out of the gate with a tighter, more nuanced take on the '90s post-hardcore they made their name on. The razor-sharp twists and turns of "Psychic Trauma" and the hooky Pavement-riffing of "I'm Not Part of Me" prove that frontman Dylan Baldi is only getting better with age.

Chuck-Inglish_web.jpgChuck Inglish
(Federal Prism/Sounds Like Fun)
For his debut solo album, Convertibles, Cool Kids cofounder and producer-for-hire Chuck Inglish has concocted a silky blend of 808 beats and neo-disco splashes. It's a deft balancing act that produces slick melodies integrated into bona fide rap burners, with Inglish's crew of frequent collaborators like Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper and Ab-Soul all bringing their rhyming A game. Without a doubt, Convertibles is destined to be 2014's go-to house party banger.

jag_web.jpgPink Mountaintops
Get Back
(Jagjaguwar )
The latest from the surprisingly resilient side project of Black Mountain frontman Stephen McBean, Get Back is yet another show-case of Pink Mountaintops' howling combination of psychedelia, garage and krautrock. And while it isn't particularly innovative in its genre-mashing weirdness, Get Back is a damn fine rock record. Best in show goes to the speed-freak chug of "Ambulance City," which has Pink Mountaintops' rhythm section and guitars bracing against McBean's unpredictable yawp.

Gwen Guthrie's "Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" Video Is Perfection


Glad to see that the Red Bull Music Academy is returning to NYC this spring -- the full schedule is HERE -- and also extra-glad that they've included a free block party on May 11, noon to 6 p.m., in honor of the legendary DJ Larry Levan.  The "block" they've chosen is King Street between Varick and Hudson that once housed the Paradise Garage, where Larry spun weekly during the 80s.  Today's oldie-but-goodie video, Gwen Guthrie's ""Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent," was a big hit at the Garage in 1986 and Guthrie performed there frequently.  Sadly, both Guthrie and Levan passed away in the 90s.  For a taste of another era, come through on the 11th.  You can bet DJ Francois Kevorkian plays this and/or "Padlock," a track Levan produced for Guthrie in 1983.

This GIF Is How We Feel About Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis' Nuptials

In our new series, we're asking Brooklyn-based artist, illustrator, and jewelry maker Ryan Blomberg to GIF-ify some of our favorite stories found in the gutters of media (also known known as celebrity gossip sites). Join us for this first installment, won't you?

You can find more of Ryan's work HERE.

Mr. Mickey's Fitness Diary: "I Did My Best to Strike a Seductive Pose While Drenched in Sweat"

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 5.40.48 PM.png
Current weight: 237
Starting weight: 241
Height: 5'7

Those of us who fight the battle of the bulge are a bit notorious for looking for excuses to go off the diet and fitness program and I'm guilty of doing that because of Fashion Month. Fashion Weeks in NYC, London and Paris got me off the exercise kick (although, coming back from Paris, despite gobbling up candy bars and pomme frites, I had lost 2 lbs. Yay!) I did watch what I ate a bit and the food is just better there.

Coming back, I tried to get right back into the saddle at SoulCycle but that took me a little longer than anticipated. I have to admit that the first class I went to in over three weeks nearly killed me. I was panting and cramping and schvitzing and losing my mind but I did make it through alive. I think it was Nietzsche or Kelly Clarkson who said, 'What doesn't destroy us, makes us stronger." And that certainly is the case with SoulCycle. That craziness wrecks me and I love it.

I've really been going to a lot of SoulCycle classes with instructor Ben T., the sexy straight who also teaches meditation or some eastern thing and Emily T. who teaches the '80s class and in general is my favorite. There have been more men at the classes I go to lately and one day a hot, muscley, hairy dude seemed to be checking me out regularly. Now I was lifting and squeezing and bending and flexing all while pedaling the bike my feet were locked into. Not exactly the most fetching of poses but I did my best to strike a seductive pose while drenched in sweat. Later I realized he was checking HIMSELF out in the mirror behind me. Still, it brought an added splash of excitement to that class.

Earlier in this fitness diary series I mentioned that I felt like Laraine Newman in the movie Perfect. She was the sweet and quirky girl at the fitness center who was desperate for dick and wasn't really in superstar shape like Jamie Lee Curtis. I'm now proud to say that I feel like Marilu Henner, who was the next step up on the food chain. I can adjust my bike by myself and can kind of do all the moves, although I'm far from a pro.

Speaking of movies I felt like I was in one today. Emily T. was teaching and my sidekick Jamie and I were warming up when in walked a kid who could have been me in 1993. I don't wear my glasses so everything is totally a blur but this kid was perky and had his long hair in a little bun and was wearing super tight hot pants and a tank top that fit like a baby tee. Everyone else wears a very standard non-descript look so this kid stuck out like a fabulous sour thumb. Like me at that age he was kinda skinny but not lean and had a lil tummy. Well Mr. Man went wild during class. He shook his hair out of the bun while pedaling and threw those tresses around. He danced. He followed his own rhythm. He had fun and worked his tuchas. It was fun to see someone who listens to the beat of his own drum in an exercise class that can seem intimidating to a clowny type like me.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 5.42.19 PM.pngMeanwhile I have a new crush on SoulCycle's own Lenny. How cute is he? He's not a teacher.... yet. I told Lenny once he's an instructor I'll move up to the front row and be his biggest groupie. Fingers crossed I'm up to Jamie Lee Curtis or at least John Travolta level in Perfect by that time!

The Best, Worst and Weirdest of the Week

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 5.31.20 PM.pngBest Way to Occupy the Time You Were Already Going to Spend Staring at Beyonce: This Beyonce GIF game. It allows you to ogle at various incarnations of Queen B under the pretext of game play. Flawless. -- Katy Miller

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 5.58.49 PM.pngWorst New Breakfast Item of the Week:
Taco Bell's "waffle taco." I have to admit, a waffle taco SOUNDS AWESOME but according to Vice, eating it "makes you question everything wrong you've done in your life that got you to this point." -- Gabby Bess

Amy-Poehlerssuperlatives-photos-for-the-sketch-comedy-series-Upright-Citizens-Brigade.jpgBest Photo of the Week:
This collage of makeup test snapshots of Amy Poehler during her UCB days. -- Abby Schreiber

Best Australian Thing We Saw All Week:
This clip of a nice Australian man trying to take his goat friend, Gary, to the park. -- Tucker Chet Markus

a_3x-horizontal.gifBest Tutorial of the Week: How to ugly cry like Beyoncé. Queen Bey got emotional during her last show on the Mrs. Cater tour but she still managed looked amazing through the tears. As it turns out, the art of the perfect ugly cry can be broken down to a simple equation: 60% lips and "at least 15% intensely furrowed brow." Combine with a dramatic statement and a quivering chin to achieve an award-winning ugly cry. -- G.B.


Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 5.45.19 PM.pngBiggest Backstreet Boys-Spice Girls Collaboration Tour of the Week Tease: This one. You're tearin' up my heart. Don't tease us like this, Brian. -- TCM

Adorable American Kid of the Week: This little guy. Nothing cuter than tiny children saying bad words. -- TCM

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 6.06.59 PM.pngBest Tweet About Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's 'Conscious Uncoupling':
This one. ZING. -- A.S.

Adorable Russian Kid of the Week: This girl. My Russian is a little rusty but I believe she is arguing against the unlawful annexation of the admittedly majority ethnically-Russian Crimean peninsula by the bumptious and corrupt Putin administration. That is so cute! -- TCM

SNL's Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant's "Dyke & Fats" Cop Show Parody Was All Kinds of Good


On Saturday's fabulously weird Louis C.K.-hosted episode of SNL, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant played Dyke & Fats, two '70s era Chicago cops who kick-ass and won't stand for anyone calling them those names. Those are their words! Bravo. [via NBC

Another highlight from the episode was Kyle Mooney's amazing digital short in which he played a mid-to-late-90s high schooler named Chris who's running for class president. Among other things you should know about him are that he has "a dog named Sammy" and doesn't like "extra stuff" on his hamburgers. (He's a simple guy.) The whole thing is weirdo perfection. [via NBC]

Also an SNL homerun this week: "Black Jeopardy."

Y6KD.jpgCorduroy gets LIVE. [Mlkshk]

Y6LZ.jpgStumper. [Mlkshk]
This horrendous, giant David Hassellhoff mannequin can be yours for the right price. Sleep tight tonight! [Gawker]

It's dumb Monday and aint nobody got time for that. Enjoy this video of a bulldog puppy and a baby hanging out to quell your sorrows. [TastefullyOffensive]

It's Time to Hit the Brakes On Gentrification

David_web.jpgRecently Spike Lee went off on an epic rant about gentrification, shooting off a blitzkrieg of f-bombs in a speech he gave at Pratt Institute in honor of Black History Month. He touched on a series of familiar tropes to draw a picture of a minority under siege in his home borough of Brooklyn -- specifically Fort Greene, where he grew up.

Around PAPER HQ we're familiar with the effects of gentrification, having witnessed the transformation of downtown Manhattan from an affordable artists' haven to an outpost for the rich and upwardly mobile. The story of artists pioneering neighborhoods, only to be pushed out with the tide of rising real estate prices, is exemplified in the remarkable rebirth of Williamsburg, which has left artists leaching out to Bushwick and beyond, including Lee's beloved Fort Greene.

As an African American speaking during Black History Month, Lee has a different perspective. He's not so much worried about artists being displaced as he is the locals -- the inhabitants who fought to keep their neighborhoods vibrant during hard times, paying taxes on their properties, supporting local merchants and sending their kids to public schools -- being pushed out of their homes. The increased cost of living in neighborhoods like Fort Greene is forcing people to look for other options, leaving once-vibrant blocks rich with African-American street life now almost entirely white, with a few holdovers resisting million-dollar offers for homes originally bought decades earlier for around $60,000. The story is not new. Lee himself prefigured Brooklyn's gentrification in his 1989 movie Do the Right Thing with a character played by John Savage, a bicycle-toting white boy with a Larry Bird T-shirt, the lone non-African American on the block.

For me, Lee's arguments strike close to home, like when he talks about his father, a jazz musician and longtime Fort Greene resident whose new neighbors called the cops to complain about him playing his acoustic bass, or when he addresses the protests from new Harlem residents about the drummers in Marcus Garvey Park who have called the neighborhood home for decades. I had a similar experience a few years ago when new residents moved into my building on Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. For as long as anyone can remember, the sound of singing and conga drums has been an integral part of the summer weekend soundtrack, something residents at once love and hate. Sure it can be annoying, but it's an authentic and heartfelt expression of the hood's Hispanic community and, like Spike said, "You gotta have some respect,"  because they were there first. So when a notice appeared in the lobby of my building asking residents to organize against the drumming, I, like Lee, went off. What chutzpah! People move in and immediately want to change what's charming about the neighborhood in the first place?

Marcus Samuelsson, proprietor of the Red Rooster restaurant, expresses similar concerns about Harlem in a recent New York Times op-ed piece. He notes that the sense of hospitality that permeates communities like Harlem quickly disappears once the churn begins: neighbors move away; local businesses lose their regulars and the neighborhood its character. San Francisco is also under siege as the wealthy tech industry moves in, with activists assaulting Google-owned buses that transport employees from the city to their Googleplex in Mountain View each day.

The good news is that cities are starting to do something about these crises. "Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification," reads the headline of a New York Times article citing Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh as cities working to "protect a group long deemed expendable -- working- and lower-middle-class homeowners threatened by gentrification." The initiative, which calls for freezing or reducing property taxes for such residents, is a small step, but hey, at least they recognize that there is a problem.

What makes this wave of gentrification so destructive is that, while at one time it took a decade or more for a neighborhood to reach a tipping point, the infiltration now happens much faster, accompanied by massive construction projects bringing hundreds and eventually thousands of new people into a neighborhood, upsetting its ecosystem.

Don't expect Manhattan to revert back to the grungy good old days when tourists were afraid of 42nd Street and below 14th Street was a no man's land of punks, artists and gays. But let's at least learn from our mistakes.

Photograph by Jacqueline di Milia

Puff Daddy Is Baaaack


Whatever you prefer to call him, Sean Combs is back. And though he admits that he's getting old, he still has time to hang with a dieting Rick Ross and French Montana. They're counting big stacks of money and throwing away the bills that are a little wrinkled. They're swilling lots of booze kindly provided by their liquor sponsors, sporting new fur coats and name-dropping products you and I can't afford. Fine, but what's Gary Coleman got to do with it?

So Whatever Happened to the Stars of NYC Prep?

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 2.54.51 PM.pngA promo photo for NYC Prep's first (and only) season. Clockwise from left: Jessie Leavitt, PC Peterson, Sebastian Oppenheim, Camille Hughes, Taylor DiGiovanni and Kelli Tomashoff.

"I never used to believe in things like the moon landing being faked," Camille Hughes says over the phone, "but after being on a reality show, I wouldn't doubt it." Hughes was one of the six cast members of the short-lived, but extremely publicized reality show, NYC Prep, which premiered on Bravo in June of 2009. The heavily-criticized show only lasted one eight-episode season but has maintained a steady cult following since its brief run. The show followed the lives of six teenagers living and going to high school on Manhattan's Upper East Side --  a reality show cousin of Gossip Girl, as Laguna Beach was to The O.C. NYC Prep,however, was a far shrewder and darker take on modern teendom than Laguna Beach's, while not sacrificing the ghoulish awkwardness of high school.

It's almost impossible to narrow down the best moments from the show. There were the brutal and ridiculous bon mots from the eyeliner-wearing Chuck Bass clone, PC Peterson ("I don't want to see anyone anymore; I'm just kind of done with everyone," he said about dating at 18 and "I feel bad for the people that can't have that [money]," he opined in reference to castmate/Blair Waldorf stand-in Jessie Leavitt's charity event for Operation Smile). There were also heartthrob Sebastian Oppenheim's way-suave moves with the ladies like his succinct answer to the "Can we still be friends post break-up?" question: "I mean, we're not friends [hocks loogie]." Jessie's voice on the phone while being asked about her vacation in West Palm Beach ("It's good. I'm, like, on the terrace with my friends") will forever be seared in my brain and I'll never forget when the lone public schooler/token "poor person" Taylor DiGiovanni mused on future career possibilities by saying, "I don't know, [I might become] maybe, like, a philosopher or something." The list goes on.

But before any of these teens were dropping clueless soundbites on Bravo, they were doing what all modern high schoolers do: checking Facebook. Hughes, now a senior at College of William and Mary in Virginia, recalls the bizarre process of being cast after a Facebook post about the show started circulating among the NYC private school scene. Then a junior at the Nightingale-Bamford School -- the same school attended by Gossip Girl author Cecily von Ziegesar -- Hughes had been mentioned by numerous students as a fitting candidate to be interviewed for casting. Before she knew it, she and her friends found themselves in a "slightly sketchy" building downtown with lots of white walls, getting grilled by show producers about themselves. Soon after, she was picked as a lead on the show.

"I saw it like any other extracurricular activity," Hughes says, "Like, 'OK, so I'm going to do lacrosse, and also a TV show.'" She emphasizes how affected the show was, with each teen molded into an embodiment of various stereotypes about the Manhattan prep school scene; Hughes was made out to be the icy and ambitious brain, with a campaign to get into Harvard that began at birth. "They told and showed us nothing during and after filming," she says of the producers, who concocted everything between the cast members. Not only that, the castmates had virtually no knowledge of one another before filming started, giving everything a strange, science experiment quality that made the show both mesmerizing to watch and just plain weird.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 3.06.16 PM.png Hughes then and now. (Photo on the right via Instagram)

"They would actually refer to us as characters between takes," Hughes remembers. "Before shooting, they'd tell us, 'OK, and then your character will say...'" The cast quickly adapted to the artifice and, as you might expect, viewers weren't exactly taken with the teens. "NYC Prep, with its privileged nobodies flaunting their self-perceived hotness and their my-perceived inarticulateness, is actively annoying," wrote Ken Tucker for Entertainment Weekly back in '09.

Over at A.V. Club, Scott Tobias wrote of the pilot episode:
The new Bravo series NYC Prep has been touted as the real-life Gossip Girl, an intimate look into the lives of privileged Upper East Side snobs with absentee parents, fake IDs, and limitless credit card accounts. But based on the dreary pilot episode, "Top Half Of One Percent," it's really more like The 'Lil Future Housewives Of New York, conforming so rigidly to the Bravo reality TV formula that the six kids chronicled are more like castmates than anything approximating real teenagers. And that's at least part of the reason they come off like monsters: It's bad enough that they do the terrible things that any narcissistic teenager with money would do, but the show goes to great lengths to keep from suggesting they have any interior life. They're preening stereotypes of spoiled, snooty rich kids, served up for viewers to hate on sight.
"The producers took the most ridiculous stuff I said," Oppenheim says in defense. "So of course I came off negatively." He's good-natured about it, though. "I was 16, and playing a role," he said, reflecting on the absurdity and glibness of being a teenager -- the only difference was he just got filmed being one. Oppenheim says this Bravo-created image of him has stuck since the show's end, even now, as a student at the College of Charleston, where he majors in international studies and is hoping to someday move into broadcast journalism. Both he and Hughes tell me about experiencing "long stares" from people on their respective campuses from time to time. Oppenheim seems to have some fun with it, explaining how open he is to answering questions people have about whether he is really like the "Sebastian" from the show. "I think after a few minutes, they realize I'm not that person," he says, laughing.

Made out to be the lothario of the group, most of Oppenheim's scenes featured his famous hair flip (apparently irresistible to females in all five boroughs) and him constantly reminding viewers of how many girls he was currently "hooking up" with (hooking up = shaky, slow-motion make-outs on street corners). His love triangle with two of his fellow castmates, Kelli and Taylor, became a central source of plotline for the show's only season. As cringe-inducing as they were, the stilted, mumbling conversations between Oppenheim and the girls were some of the most on-then-nose representations of teens exploring "adult" relationships seen on reality TV. "The romances you saw were as real as it gets in 10th grade," Oppenheim says. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get Kelli or Taylor's take on the three-way romance as they, along with Oppenheim and Hughes' other NYC Prep co-stars, were unavailable to comment.

(Even though the other NYC Prep-ers didn't participate in this piece, through focused Internet stalking and word of mouth, I was able to find out a little. PC appears to be a student -- or recent graduate -- of Rollins College and has interned at MOMA, where he worked in cataloguing works and developing shows, including one for the German artist Sigmar Polke. Jessie's stayed true to her dream of working in fashion, interning for designer Carmen Marc Valvo and currently getting her degree at F.I.T. Kelli's kept at it with her singing career, even making some music videos like this one and performing around Meatpacking venues in NYC and at Sundance. Unfortunately I could not track down Taylor, but I can only hope she is doing great things at philosophy school.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 3.05.07 PM.pngOppenheim then and now. (Photo on the right by K. Cooper Ray for Social Primer clothing.)

While Sebastian's aftershocks have been fairly manageable, Hughes endured a Scarlet Letter-like fallout from being on the show. The administration and alumni at her alma mater, as well as the school's parents, became outraged over her appearance on the show, asserting that it "lowered" the Nightingale-Bamford's prestige. "They sent out a school-wide email about me," Hughes says, recalling the pain of being scrutinized so harshly in such a formerly safe haven. After a gossip columnist from the Wall Street Journal released an article citing the email the school's head had sent, the backlash intensified. Hughes describes media camping outside her family's Manhattan home, as well as harassing phone calls from alumni and angry parents of friends and classmates, who blamed her for their children's Ivy League chances possibly being hindered by her television stint. Even though Hughes had never worn any attire indicating where she attended school, nor even mentioned it, the school wanted her to write a letter of apology. Rather than apologizing for something she didn't feel she had done, Hughes transferred to the famous Professional Children's School for her senior year. It was a good decision. Thanks to spontaneous, Fame-esque sing-a-longs and lunchtime dance parties in the cafeteria, Hughes says her year there was one of the best school years of her life.

I can see why these two were picked to be on TV. Even over the phone, Hughes and Oppenheim ooze charm and impress/intimidate me with their articulateness. They say they've embraced their experience on the show for better or for worse. And half a decade after its sudden admittance into reality show afterlife, the fascination with NYC Prep lives on. With the show now immortalized on Netflix (where I've already watched it several times), Oppenheim says he's seen a resurgence of "Aren't you that guy from that show?" questions from strangers. Camille's Twitter bio bluntly answers these burning questions: "Yes, I am that Camille from Bravo's NYC Prep. No, I didn't go to Harvard. Yes, I know the show is on Netflix."

Both castmates describe falling out of touch with each other almost immediately after filming, due in part to wanting to distance themselves from the show. Nevertheless, they each mention the pang of sentimentality they feel whenever they run into one another around the city. All drama and cattiness (whether staged or not) aside, there's a clear enduring bond between these former reality stars. "We kind of became a little team," Oppenheim says.

Soar high into the midnight mauve, NYC Prep, high above Manhattan's orange glow. We miss you.

5 Thoughts on Episode 4 of Lindsay Lohan's OWN Reality Show


1.) The show is losing steam (note: our '10 thoughts on Lindsay Lohan's OWN Reality Show' recaps are now '5 Thoughts on Lindsay Lohan's OWN Reality Show') and Oprah's big 'get your shit together' visit from last week is continued into the first quarter of last night's episode. Dina Lohan is in the mix this time, and Oprah gets her to admit that she done effed up when she let a teenage Lindsay move to California. "I didn't even know the names of half the drugs she was on," Dina offers like any good, enabling parent. Oprah does her best impression of Oprah being like, 'that's so Oprah, Oprah!', telling Lindsay she must be "a master of her faith and a captain of her soul." Then Nana Lohan comes in, hugs Oprah, and announces that Lindsay should have won an Oscar for The Parent Trap. I think we all know who the real star of this series is.

2.) Lohan's Put-Upon assistant Fancy Matt is still Put Upon and still in his three-piece suit for reasons unknown. He hires Lohan an additional assistant, Hollie, who crashes around Lindsay's apartment, trying to put together some clothing racks. He later fires her for drinking a glass of wine on the job. Jesus Christ.

3) We see how desperate Lohan is to work again, and, for the first time this season, her OWN-hired life coach, AJ Johnson -- who thus far has taken Lohan to pole-dancing workout classes and asked her soul-searching questions like "swimming pool or ocean? yes or no? top or bottom?" --  seems to be actually helping her. She listens patiently while Lohan complains that her management company doesn't fight hard enough for her to get roles. We see ripples of the "$7 million-a-film"-teenage-star Lohan, frustrated and tearful that an Avengers part she had wanted had been give to "an unknown." Johnson carefully suggests that it's still up to her to prove to people that she's actually hireable and dependable. Lohan was like, "yeah," and stared off into space.

4) Lohan does some community service work at a NYC children's center, bonding with a little boy named Donovan who tells her earnestly as she's leaving "thank you for hugging me." It's soul-crushing. Lohan promises to come back and visit him. So help us God, Lindsay, you better have gone back.

5) Lindsay's fancy movie star veneer falls off (how's that for irony?), which requires a trip to the dentist. The veneer just needs to be cemented back on, but for some reason requires her to be put under by an anesthesiologist using a "light" combination of valium, fentanyl and propofol. Asked by the director if this means she's breaking her sobriety, Lohan reasons matter-of-factly that she'll still be sober after the procedure because the drugs "wear off." You know, as opposed to other one-stop-shop substances and drugs that keep you soaring 4 lyyyfe. Later, her anesthesiologist admits that painkillers like the ones Lohan was given might impact an addict "to a certain degree." To which all of the 500 people still watching this mess responded at home with a resounding "no shit."