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There has been a great deal of talk online about Forever 21 lately, and most of it is not good. But you wouldn’t know it if you left the net and walked into a store. Recently in my local mall they moved into an empty Mervyns, a space at least 5 times larger than their previous one. And I admit, when I walked in for the first time, it was exciting. While many smaller stores can be impossible to find anything in, this one was organized and spread out, filled with customers and not crowded.

And the allure of Forever 21 is the accessibility: you can walk in a know that you can afford anything you see. When I walk into Anthropologie, I want everything I see, but I can certainly not afford much more than a tube of lip gloss. And whenever I go, I can always find something rather unique or trendy that spices up my day.

But is anything there really unique? Most signs point to no – and even I, not in the industry, always see similar patterns and designs in their merchandise. It reminds me of when I used to sell women’s shoes at Macy’s and there was a Payless right outside the door. I would often see the exact same designs at Payless that we were selling next door for 4 times the price. The catch of course with shoes is that there is no comparison for quality. But for a trendy t-shirt, quality isn’t such an issue; by all accounts you don’t need to wear it for years, and the shirts that cost $100 versus $12 don’t seem all that better; you’re buying the label.

image Call it the trickle-down effect…

Therein lies the rub: the label, and the reason that designers are making a big fuss. Now I’m not talking about the allegations about cheap labor and production – that’s another issue, one which is more serious in my mind and not addressed here (This is a great article for that issue). Let’s take the case of Virginia Johnson, who sued and settled with 21:

In 2005, her intern spotted a skirt in a Manhattan Forever 21 with a print much like one that Johnson had sold the previous season at Barneys. Johnson’s skirt went for about $175; Forever 21’s version was less than $18.

I’m sorry, but for most of 21’s clientele, $175 is out of reach, so it’s not as if they were stealing Johnson’s potential customers. It must be frustrating for these designers, but I’m sorry, their clothing is just too expensive for many consumers, especially when the clothing is so on-trend that they won’t be able to wear it next season.

This is a result of our economic system: demand producing supply. This is a different type of intellectual property than say, literature or creative writing, because  if two authors wrote the same book, the consumer could choose either one. But there is no choice for me between the Johnson skirt and the “copy” sold at 21.

So the real issue here is not really economic ,which is ironic since all the designer will ever get is a financial settlement, but artistic. And 21 is trying to use more in-house designs that will be original, though there is bound to be some overlap, as artists have always created in ways that speak to the work of other artists.

And we are already Forever 21-ing art. We sell prints, postcards, bookmarks, and puzzles of A Starry Night, because 99% of us can neither afford or even see the original. And does the artist get a cut of every image out there of their painting? Would the designers be content to see a sign over their designs indicating the origin of the design? I highly doubt it.

So it comes down to money. And if I have to hear one more designer bitch about Forever 21 ripping off their $1000 dress…

Is imitation still the sincerest form of flattery?

I’m not saying that there is nothing wrong with the way Forever 21 practices business – they can be sketchy – but in the matter of copying expensive designer’s clothing for the general public, there is less sympathy to be had, and at the end of the day there’s no fake Fendi label on the knock-off purse, only one from Forever 21.

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Well folks, grad school is almost over. Completed first draft of thesis over the break, and I’m down to the wire. Paperwork filed.

Is this the end?

Will I go back?

Do I need a 12-step program to wean me off school?

Maybe.

 

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Did I just tag “graduation?” Shit. YES I DID.

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Sometimes I think that the only way to get through life is with a revolving sequence of Monty Python sketches.

Because really, half the time the world seems to be governed by this kind of logic:

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
Reg: Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea.

And what does the New Year bring? Change? Growth? Resolutions people abandon in February?

Maybe.

This holiday season, it seems to be big on engagements. Couples all around me are getting engaged, and I find it both very happy and also a little sad, considering my boyfriend and I haven’t really been speaking to each other for 2 days after an argument over a ceiling light in the bedroom.

So I don’t think I will be getting married in 2011. Which is fine. I will, however, be giving birth to a thesis – and it’s already about half-written.

And in an important way, this means more to me than a ring!

I also think that I’ve finally – finally – figured out what I would like to do with my professional life. Therefore, I am christening 2011 as the year of the career, in which  I will not worry about what is happening to me romantically.

Cheers!

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I heard the bells on Christmas Day.
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat.
Of peace on earth goodwill to men.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

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The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.
~Jay Leno
 
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. 
~Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.  ~Andy Rooney

 

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Roses are reddish
Violets are bluish
If it weren’t for Christmas
We’d all be Jewish.
~Benny Hill

 

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The worst gift is a fruitcake.  There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.  ~Johnny Carson

 

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And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.  ~Dr Seuss

 

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Happy Holidays!

My final Latin composition; I thought it was rather fun.

P.S: Small disclaimer from Grammar Nazi Cat:

So don’t steal it, k?

“Non omne comminatio est hostis.”

Olim urbs quae deīs amavī erat. Prius urbs factus erat, populī in mediō terrae perliculosae habitāvērunt, cui tuta nōn fuit, nam multa monstra habuit. Pessimae bestiae magnitudis magnae et virīs fuērunt ne vincerentur. Terra concinerata et cum sepulcīs factus erat.

Sed deī populōrum hōrum miseruērunt nam religiosī fuērunt, et simper altara eōrum honorāre memoraverant – etiam in tempore moestitiae. Cum tempestate bonā et autumnīs munificīs eōs benedixērunt, et civitatem aluērunt.

Etiam, deī “Terminus” in sospitatem eōrum commodum praecipuum capissivit. Terminō deō finitonum et murōrum, Terminus decrevit murum faciendus esse, ut populī possint de monstrīs perliculosīs ipsōs defendere. Etsi nōnnullī deī sapientiae Terminum nōn intercedere monuērunt, eum adjuvāre desiderāvit. Post multa diēs, Terminus virum invenit, quem adjuvāre potuit. Nomen eī fuit “Hadrianus.”

Cum auxiliō Hadrianī, populī murum magnum circa domicilium fuērunt, quem eōs de monstrīs defendit. Cum vigore, cito provenērunt, et urbs magna esse surrexērunt. Et propter sacrificia populī gratī, deī beātī fuērunt.

Sed Terminus eīs urbem expandere desiderāvit, tam libellum speciale ex librarō sanctō, quod narrāverit quam vincere monstrum terrae. Ex caelō libellum demisit, et is ab populō invenit, quō mox terram periculō levaērunt. Monstrō captuō, populum sensērunt eōs requisivisse murum, nec salutem eius. Ignavus exisitērunt, et potestatis et civitatis cogitāre incepērunt. Altarem eōrum dedicērunt, et super rem frivolam pugnavērunt.

Longe urbs huius audivērunt, et bellāre decrevērunt ut illam terram acquirerent. Dixērunt; “Hanc urbem petāmus, quam tam superbam est. Sine monstrīs, mox exercitus urbem advenit. Urbs, sub unō duce nōn potest conciliāre, cito victae sunt et ab rē publicā capissitae sunt, quam Mārs amata erat. Cum magnō dedecore, Terminus urbem eius Mārī dedit. Mārs, victor, solam commam dixit: “Nōn omne comminatio est hostis.”

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Randomly political, seriously long quote from Say Anything. Yea, that pretty much sums it up.

Society has interesting names for people who decide they want to do the same thing forever. Some positive, some not. We have “terminal bachelors” (aka George Clooney) and also “old maids” (aka librarians, sadly). We have “eternal optimists” and “eternal pessimists,” “career politicians” and those who will “go down with the ship.”

But what about the eternal student?

There are positive versions of this, of course: my grandfather was a member of a Life-long Learning program, and he had earned more credits in his lifetime than anyone in the history of the University. He had studied in some way at colleges all over, and out of, the country. But he also held regular jobs at the same time, so maybe we can’t exactly put him in this category. But should we?

While browsing around, I came across this interesting article titled “How to become an eternal student,” (source) in which the author poses theories about the different types of students:

“Most often when one refers to an eternal student the automatic assumption is that of the Truly Dedicated Eternal Student. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre course work. You most often find these students among Classical Studies or History students. The reason is simple. No one cares about those majors except the people in them. Who really needs to major in Sanskrit anymore? It’s a five thousand year old dead language. So students of these types of majors can always find something old to study and claim the need to study that fully before they move into “the real world”.”

And this is where I really started to chuckle:

“These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around so darn long. Since no one cares about these studies anymore these students are free to hide is the sunlight-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The major difficulty in being a truly Dedicated Eternal Student is to lie convincingly enough so that the parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe that the student needs to remain ensconced in their studies.”

And I cannot deny that there is some truth in this. As a medievalist, and a student of Latin, there is a definite scorn from some people out there – the beauty of it being that the scornful ones usually don’t have a clue about such topics, so you can project an atmosphere of learned intelligence that tells them to back the f*&# off.

And then we come to the next type:

“The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only eternal student to ever actually earn a degree. And not only do they earn one degree, but they earn several. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than in their name. They will earn a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH, and on and on and on. In some ways this Eternal Student is the most talented and most conniving of all Eternal Students.

Not only must they posses the intelligence and talent for earning these many degrees but they must convince others that they actually need these degrees. The danger, however, in being a Multiple Degrees eternal student is that, unlike other eternal students, these individuals have actually completed acceptable levels of education. At some point their financial support will revolt due to the immense financial burden these multiple degrees impose and the student is generally told to go ahead and utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this type of difficulty is to be educated out of any possible job and so, after a brief interval, return to higher education.”

Hmmm, this is dangerously close to the conversation I’ve been having with myself lately, upon nearing the completion of my current degree. Something along the lines of, “maybe I should go to law school…” And let us not deny that along with the ability to bullshit in prose that comes with an English degree is the ability to bullshit others into thinking  that all the money spend on said degree is well-spent, and that you would be wise to spend more. Nefarious scheming, indeed.

The article closes with this piece of wisdom:

“The privilege of Eternal Student-dom is not to be taken lightly. At no other point in your life is it a) acceptable that you not know what you are doing b) normal for people to give you excessive amounts of money and c) expected that you will do dumb things.”

Now my question is, is this article serious in it’s admiration of students, or is it mocking their very existence? I can’t help but wonder if eternal students were ever respected culturally, or always viewed as some sort of self-fulfilling characacher.

There is a tendency to believe that school is not “the real world.” But what is the alternative; “the imaginary world?” Sound more fun, in my opinion. What does the “real world” offer you? Whatever it is, we need Prozac and Ambien to deal with it.

If I can make a living out of living in the “imaginary world,” you can bet that’s where I’ll be. And it seems to me that most people worth knowing will be there too.