Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How to become a Bobo

I moved into a studio in Marylebone "village". I went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday, and all you could hear was a hushed hum, you could almost see the blue blood running behind serious, charismatic faces picking vegetables and fruits. My mom says the people in this area "don't have battered faces." Their every action, every expression seems measured yet smooth - just right, how it should be. I felt nervous and clumsy. All new reference points - the bar is higher now. My parents hope I'll come out of this more sophisticated.

I passed by the Ginger Pig and La Fromagarie, all anxious as I am when I go to Bebek or Nişantaşı -a little out of place. I will stop by later when I'm not by myself.

Knowing myself for this long, I don't think I have a sophisticated bone in me. I will sound fatalistic, but some people are just born with it. Their faces, hair, clothes, they are intelligent, smooth, serious. They are not flashy or overly confident or annoying. They are respectable. They carry everything they own and are with subdued entitlement, and live up to the life they are born into. I, on the other hand, am clumsy, anxious, worried and late. My face shines and I sweat. I'm not smooth, because I think too much and I worry.

After a trip to Waitrose, I decided to venture into the East End. When I lived there I hardly valued or appreciated it enough, but I missed it and fell in love with it when I moved away. First the stalls of Spitalfields, then onto Commercial Street, the Smudge Gallery with commercial graffiti, vintage shops, and finally Brick Lane. I walked into the Up Market in the old Truman Brewery, people sitting on the threshold with greasy Asian food. First food stalls, then I bought a necklace made from "recycled materials", then a silver ring, then I ran into this artist's stall. I liked his delicate work. I got his card, and moved on to get a reading lamp (more on that in the next post.)

I walked around some more with my reading lamp, stopped by and listened to a dirty but cheerful street band right around Vibe, ran into Gokhan from Athena (a Turkish ska band who performed at Bazaar Day once, back in the day), walked on this side street with expensive little Bobo shops, walked into a small art gallery and got a crispy bacon beigel (I think this was the high (low?) point of the day, depending how you look at it). I walked to the end of Brick Lane up to Bethnal Green. Then walked back to Liverpool Street from Shoreditch High Street. For my next move, I want a wooden-floored loft around there. It will be expensive despite the sketchy (not really), dirty (really), but spirited area. Just like a Bobo likes it.

I felt carefree and happy and myself. Excited about what could be lying ahead. Like I do when I walk from Galatasaray to Tunel and then to Galata.

On Monday, I considered getting Banksy's "feisty maid" for my vast empty wall, something I thought would remind me of the things I sweep under the rug. But on Tuesday, I decided to go find the artist in the Up Market. I e-mailed him and he responded promptly: He lived and worked in Stoke Newington. The Turkish area I've never been to.

I took Bus 73 from King's Cross, and passed through Islington. Islington seemed uglier and more run down then I thought, Stokey more cheerful and pretty - especially around Church Street. (High Street is more "rough" around the edges, as Pierre's London for Londoners book observes.) I found his flat/studio on a residential street, his flatmate (looked like he jumped out of Notting Hill with his white undershirt) got the door. The building was like a communal tower with rooms lined along a staircase. One room - storage for all his work, prints on canvases stretched over rectangular wooden blocks, the other an airy bedroom with the blue paintings he's working on. One piece of the three-piece print I got is cracked, apparently he dropped it off the window. Like the stats book that fell off the Healy Building once. He will replace it when I visit him in the Up Market not this Sunday - but next Sunday.

I got my prints, took the bus passing through Kingsland and Dalston and Shoreditch High and Liverpool Street. I saw what's beyond Shoreditch High for the first time.

I find it ironic how my tidy and clean flat has these prints from this artist's studio in Stoke Newington, how it has this reading lamp from the Up Market.

Does this little deliberate civilized adventure qualify me as a Bobo?

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