Google’s Glass integrates smartphone applications with an eyeglass-like frame so that one can see commands (there’s a tiny screen attached to one side of the frame) without looking away from the world, and activate them by voice alone. What’s most impressive is that Glass isn’t science fiction; it’s almost here. Google announced a 2014 product release with a retail price of $1,500. It’s just a matter of time, I think, before the screen image is realized as a hologram floating in front of our faces, and then a tissue embedded right within our eyes.
A happy two-minute marketing video, One day…, follows a young man as he moves through his day using Glass. He uses the new technology to arrange to meet a friend, to make a voice memo to buy concert tickets, to navigate his way from East 23rd Street to the Strand bookstore, to locate the music section inside the store, to post photos of graffiti online, and, finally, to broadcast a song he performs on his ukelele to a girl named Jessica. Glass Man is a downtown hipster dream boy, free from work and personal (and even pet) obligations, who only plans things an hour or so in advance, and who spends the day roaming around the city with his buddy. He doesn’t use Glass to do anything vital, and doesn’t use it to do anything an ordinary smartphone can’t do. The video diminishes the most astonishing features of Glass —its almost seamless interface — to spotlight a laddish lifestyle.
The video brought to mind the SNL short Lazy Sunday, where two young men (played by Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell) wake up late, plan to see a matinee of The Chronicles of Narnia, get cupcakes from Magnolia, catch a cab to the Upper West Side, and pick up snacks and drinks at a deli before the show, all the while rapping about their exploits with mock gravity. One day… comes dangerously close to that kind of parody.
Some time between 2008 and now it became socially acceptable to wear Worishofer sandals. They’ve replaced Crocs as the ungainly (it would be unkind to say ugly) but practical casual shoe of choice. These German-made sandals have been photographed on hipster-starlets like Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dust and are being sold, in an array of thirty-three colors, right alongside Thunderbirds and Chuck Taylors, at every cut-rate shoe store on lower Broadway.
The most popular style of Worishofers, the basic slide, reminds me of the classic Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals. Like Scholl’s, Worishofers were developed by a physician in the service of orthopedic health. Unlike Scholl’s, Worishofers are entirely structureless; they’re lightweight and feel more like slippers than street shoes. Scholl’s have smart hardware: a sliding metal buckle and rows of bolts pinning the narrow strap to the sculpted oak sole. Worishofer sandals look like they’ve been glued together from scraps of vinyl. They don’t have the gorgeous object-quality that the most alluring shoes have.