By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"So how was it?" she asks.
Fashion Tales: Just Snub Me
THE THEME OF THE PARTY WAS "girly ambrosia: designer pants and pedicures." The purpose: to introduce Los Angeles to Rebecca Winn and Stacey Bendet, whose Just Pants by Alice + Olivia -- named after their mothers -- was created because the two UPenn grads, according to Fashion Wire Daily, were "tired of constantly having to tailor their clothes just so they would fit." I showed up, I admit, for the promise of mojitos on the rooftop of the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, discount prices on the Just Pants and a free pedicure, to boot.
Of course, after five years in Hollywood, I should know by now, unless you're Tiffani Thiessen, or that sexy brunette girl from That '70s Showor, at the very least, an assistant to such a person, nobody wants to sell you designer pants. And no one wants to touch your feet.
Minutes after the party started, the rooftop was crowded with tall, thin women, some of whom were already wearing Just Pants. I couldn't get near any of the remaining Just Pants for sale. They kept getting snatched out of my hands by women my friend described collectively as Body by Tae Bo.
The pants were $150 each. Some had Just Stripes. Some had Just Little Pineapples. There were handbags selling for $90.
In the pedicure room, I was No. 6 on the wait list -- not bad. Until I learned that there was actually a second list; and that nobody on the first list could get a pedicure unless the people on the second list didn't show up.
The second list held spots for Tiffani Thiessen and that sexy brunette girl from That '70s Show. Neither were anywhere to be seen.
Back at the designer sale, I told the rack girl that I liked the Just Pineapples. I asked, "Don't you have any short-girl, big-butt sizes?"
"It's called a tailor," the salesgirl said. "I'm sure you've heard of it."
Hmm, maybe she doesn't read Fashion Wire Daily.
I headed for the food -- they were serving brownies, pistachio cookies and rum, none of which was going to help anybody get into the Just Pants. Finally, I just left. I went home and gave myself a pedicure. I think the stuff was Revlon. It costs $2.99 at the drugstore. I'm sure you've heard of that.
AS ANYONE WHO HAS ROAMED THE streets of a major urban area with a wireless-enabled laptop can tell you, the ether is abuzz with data. This is no less true in Los Angeles than it is in San Francisco, where the tradition of "warwalking" for Internet access has been fostered by people who believe bandwidth should be free and are willing to configure their WiFis accordingly. ("WiFi" stands for "wireless fidelity," and is the nickname for wireless Ethernet networks based on the 1997 Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers' 802.11 standard.)
Warwalking, though, has never quite caught on in greater Los Angeles, in part because the Southland is short on the sort of digital Robin Hoods who beam their signals to the masses, and also because of the city's horizontal sprawl. In some areas, such as West Hollywood, a wireless connection hums every few blocks, but an open node, from which any old bystander with an 802.11b card can browse the Web, is harder to find. You could walk five miles in Los Angeles before coming across an open node, only to find your generous host has neglected to provide a comfortable bench where you can sit and read your e-mail.
Which is why, when I read about Matt Jones' idea of marking up walls and sidewalks with chalk to alert passersby to the presence of wireless networks, I thought Los Angeles could use it. Jones, who works as an information architect for the BBC in London, stumbled one day upon a group of architectural students working their WiFi-capable laptops on the sidewalk, their office space rendered in chalk around them. When he later mentioned the scene over lunch, a friend told him how American hobos in the 1930s had devised a hieroglyphic system to help each other stay fed and safe -- a big "V" for A-OK, a "V" followed by three small triangles for free food. "That was the moment of convergence," Jones told me over the phone from London. "We needed to invent a hobo language to let people know they can get the Internet outside." Last week, Jones posted the specifications for "warchalking" to his Web log, now at www.warchalking.org, complete with a printable wallet card of the three basic symbols: Two back-to-back half-circles for an open node, a circle for a closed node, and a circle with a W inside to indicate an encrypted network. He left it open to embellishment, he said, "to watch the community collaborate on the design." He encouraged people to warchalk the world, and asked for pictures.
Our effort to warchalk Los Angeles necessarily began with a Sunday afternoon's wardriving -- scanning the boulevards at low-rider speeds for a hot spot, fishing for a signal: "Oh, uh, got one -- uh . . . oh . . . lost it,"Peter would say as we cruised through a WiFi field hanging our little blue 802.11b radio out of the Jeep. When we stumbled upon a strong signal, I'd veer to the curb while he searched for some phrase on Google. If he got one, it meant the node was an open pathway to the Internet, and I'd run out on the sidewalk with our 99-cent-store marble chalk and draw half-circles big enough for drivers to spot, Peter snapping photos for Jones. Wireless networks are identified by something called a Service Set Identifier, or SSID for short, which some home networkers never bother to personalize, leaving their networks named as "WLAN" or "default." Other networks have such descriptive SSIDs that scanning the airwaves reveals a hidden layer of geography: In the hills we intercepted "doghouse"; in West Hollywood we cruised through "Jason's Air Pool." MGM sends a strong signal through the north end of Hollywood; Trader Joe's TJALL echoes all around the intersection of Third and La Brea. Not surprisingly, all are closed and secure.