"I think teenagers are all the same everywhere," says Kira Plastinia, a 15-year-old Russian, and "wrinkles her nose." Kira is apparently the Miley Cyrus meets Mary Kate Olsen of the former Soviet Republics; her dad, an orange juice mogul, bought her a a clothing line, and a signature shade of pink, and Paris Hilton's number, and a horse named Baloven — meaning "someone who is spoiled and treated too well" — and now a store in Manhattan, which has inspired a profile in New York Magazine. Wait, am I really burdening you with this information? Do we really have such a dearth of the great global wealth concentration's photogenic beneficiaries over here? Over the weekend I was dutifully forcing myself to read the NY Times' review of a book called Bringing Home The Birkin, which chronicles the quest of an eBay Power Seller to land one of the coveted Hermes bags. "What is a Birkin bag and why on earth should I care?" demands editor Sam Tanenhaus of the book's critic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine editor Christine Muhlke, on the Review's weekly podcast.
"You shouldn't!" I yell at my laptop.
Muhlke tries, patiently, to explain that the bag was inspired by Jane Birkin, who had trouble keeping her shit together on planes, and the CEO of Hermes felt so sorry for her.
"And who is Jane Birkin?" Sam Tanenhaus wants to know.
"Jane Birkin," Muhlke replies, laughing, "was the wife, or possibly not actual wife of the French singer…please help me…"
Yeah, exactly. The trappings of wealth are really fucking boring and no one fucking cares, not even the editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and pretending that we really actually care because that's what the cool people do is just creating a dull class of international jet-setters who are all indistinguishably dull, and with that I'm going to leave you with two profound paragraphs from the Kira profile and the excerpt to Bringing Home The Birkin which will maybe bring some joy to going about the rest of your day poor.
More than ever, she's right. A generation ago Russian teenagers were trading for jeans on the black market and listening to hopelessly out-of-date Billy Joel. But there's no lag, anymore, between the culture that European and American teenagers consume and what makes its way to Russia. Kira and her friends vacillate between punk and pop and R&B with the same immediacy as their counterparts in Orange County or Leeds. They study photos of Lindsay Lohan's leggings, Nicole Richie's hair. Kira's friends wear Abercrombie & Fitch, Topshop, and Hollister, bought during trips abroad or ordered on the Internet.
And here readers, the epiphany that inspired the writer to quit his job and start arbitraging overpriced handbags on eBay for a living:
But lately I found myself becoming more jaded by my globe-trotting. Not because of the silly things you always heard those bridge-club biddies bemoaning in the airport - it wasn't lost luggage or the lack of a proper bagel that had me down. I didn't mind the calculus of currency conversion or the etymology of exotic entrées. No, it wasn't the inconvenience inherent to travel that was burning me out. It was boredom. I had increasingly noticed a sinister sameness about each of these foreign cities. Before my very eyes, every place was turning into every place else.