Le Labo, “Vetiver 46”

The moth is a nomad with a guilty pleasure: light. God’s surveillance style is also light, so you could say the two are friends. Moths, however, don’t fly towards the sun, as it is too bright and far away. Instead it flies towards a flame with its morph equipment ready and tiny manifesto in hand, flickering on and off, its poignant synergy with the darkness now complete. It could have gone other ways: violent sap, sticky web, deep winter, etc. God makes a tally and goes back to sleep.

Le Labo, “Lys 41”

Riding down milk road on a motorcycle, you feel free. Life-size tourists with their pet children hang out near the shy fountains. Ten anonymous hymns for guitar begins, and the miracle light reflects off the land juice, blinding you slightly (but in a good way). Year after year drips down your face, and every time you check the time, it’s spring.

Comme des Garcons, “Serpentine”

A glass knife rests in a grass field. Mechanical chirps softly construct a familiar melody. Silver reading glasses magnify a toad’s rapid eye movement, asleep at noon. Two full sets of house-like keys wait peacefully. A stiletto, after standing upright for hours, falls over in the breeze.

Ten meters north of these relics, a translucent white container labeled “OUR FAULT” would be empty if, a few minutes prior, a dove would have held its bladder while flying overhead.

4160 Tuesdays, “Invisible Ben”

Ben, my old friend, works as a teacher. Each morning, he wakes with the sun, runs a lap around the park, and walks a mile to his school. He will never change: he’s always been this way. As one of the only steadfast things in my life, I sought to disseminate his simple, efficient spirit by rendering him as liquid. I hoped that people would know this incredible being was real and living among us: not just a mishmash of chemicals! So, I titled the perfume carefully.

To this day, Ben doesn’t know I created Invisible Ben after him. Ben continues to live in his own modest bubble, each evening returning to his apartment, firing up a jazz record, and spritzing Lemon Breeze Lysol over some sleek objects as the sun sets over the park.

Comme des Garcons, “888”

A tall glass of sarsparilla sweats condensation. Water pools around the base of the drink and makes a ring around the snake on a paper Chinese zodiac placemat underneath. Emerging out of the soft drink is a curly straw filled with bubbles that hover a brief distance and then pop. The bubbles reflect an elaborate table setting leafed in gold, and minute specular highlights reveal a broken window screen. Gossamer strands of a spider’s web connect the coarser fibers of the screen to the window frame. Caught in the web is a mosquito contemplating the scene from a position of sacrifice. Its compound eyes present a pixelated world-view that slowly dims to black.

Profumum, “Alba”

almond extract, swiss roll, scented pantyliner, envelope glue, kitten calendar, bra straps, security ink, mother’s milk, banana boat, bavarian cream, vaseline.

Blood Concept, “O”

Machines warm up just as you do. Pleather-finished foam grips on an elliptical yield slightly under sweating palms. It’s too hot today to run outside so you’re at Planet Fitness. It’s so hot that it’s cold inside, so you forget that it’s hot outside.

Following an agonizing leg day, you get into your car parked in the middle of the lot. Machines warm up just as you do. The cloying smell of the simulated leather interior is emphasized in this 93 degree weather. Legs stick to seat. It will hurt to peel yourself out of the car later. Isn’t it weird that it’s the inside of a car that is finished with skin. And not the outside? Like everything else that has skin? Like Snooki’s matte black snakeskin-wrapped Hello Kitty Escalade?


Diptyque, “Tam Dao”

Coral dawn casts its glow upon a mahogany piano. Dawn turns to dusk. Dusk turns to dust. Dust to dust. Aided by these rays, one can see minute particles of dust settling into fingerprints on the white keys of a beloved piano. In this rare light the black keys seem to recess into the background rather than rise higher than the ivory ones. I wonder what my metronome smells like?

Le Labo, “Jasmin 17”

This national park is confusing. For example, the flowering trees never stop. And when they produce fruit, it’s more like gear. And the mountains are heaps of tiny colored bits. I can tell because when I look close at the ground, each stone is actually a tiny plastic eraser. And when I look to the sky, it’s cuter than usual. And when it rains from the cute sky, pez candy sprinkles down, resulting in a tiny bounce off the erasers.


Le Labo, “Santal 33”

You might be familiar with the wet steam room at the Russian and Turkish Baths. The last time I visited (for a Groupon-subsidized birthday) it was especially aromatic, and occupied solely by a man lying on the tiled bench. After a moment, he produced a vial and poured a few drops onto the heater, which instantly filled the room with mentholated white steam. It felt like my nose had become a Camel Crush after the cartridge was crushed. He said it was LSD.

Santal 33 is a similarly potent formula that’s slippery when wet. Except instead of a spicy, minty hallucinogen, the smell is closer to ginger. Pink pickled ginger, in a unisex steam room.


Issey Miyake, “L’eau d’Issey”

In 1992, Issey Miyake released his own water scent. Far from nothing, Issey’s water promised to be light, refreshing, clean, and soft. However, the fragrance is quietly vile, more like fresh bottled sweat than water. It is a camouflage scent for an alien hoping to be detected as a real human body.

Helvetica The Perfume™

Helvetica The Perfume™ consists only of water. This is, apparently, the scent of nothing.

It’s exciting to finally own a special container of distilled water. Through this, I focus on everything about the perfume except its fragrance: although it has no smell, it works well as a placebo. I wear most perfumes to attract others, but as I wear Helvetica, only I am aware of its existence: a mirror that lets me reflect on my beauty, education, and cultural sensibilities. I do believe, however, that the perfume is poorly titled. It is titled after Helvetica, a Swiss typeface that is far from neutral. Why not name it fondly after its 2 ounce container, allowing its contents, whatever they may be, to last beyond the death of the typeface?

There are moments I find use for Helvetica. Sometimes I apply Helvetica on my rubber plant to simulate conditions of a humid rainforest. Other times I use Helvetica to discipline my cat.

Andreas Maack, “Craft”

You awaken with the sun in a honeysuckle bush. Apparently, you passed out with your right hand in a large bag of barbeque Lays, and the left clutching fun-size salt and vinegar Utz. Your hazy mind vaguely recalls trying to make Fig Newton s’mores over the now smoldering bonfire. You hit the bong and go back to sleep.

Rodin, “Rodin olio lusso perfume”

On March 15, 2016, every office lobby in midtown was was invaded by dew. Detected at dawn by the cleaning staff, they insisted the dew made their jobs easier: the spider webs usually hidden within the glass chandeliers were now made visible by droplets, their silk devices strung with stars moments before annihilation. Office workers reported the elevator’s up button as silky to the touch and its lime glow radiating a bit more than normal. At the end of the day, the consensus was clear. As the sun set, all midtown employees slowly marched towards the giant waterfall on the northeast corner of 59th street and sixth avenue.

Diptyque, “Volutes”

An instant of balsamic sharpness is enveloped in honey and smoke from coiled incense. The moment, trapped in languid substances, crystallizes into candy. It tastes similar to the candied salted plums a Chinese matron might have in a dish on her rosewood vanity. Beside the dish is a compass, an hourglass, and a candle, its single flame multiplied to infinity in the gaze of two facing mirrors.