Extreme Makeovers

The Fine Art of Picking a Shtick

New York is the city that never sleeps. College is the place where nobody knows your name. So now that you're an anonymous insomniac, it's time to take some of that book allowance and spend it on crafting the new identity you always wanted. After all, authenticity is just another commodity. * Here are a few personas to try on for size: where to go, who to read and listen to and watch, and of course, what to wear.

Original 1970s Punk Rocker

THE BASICS: Black clothes. Complicated hair. Dive bars. Anarchy. Unsigned bands. Unrestrained hostility.

VENUES:Contrary to appearance, Astor Place (Cooper Square and 8th Street) is not ground zero for the Blank Generation (an essential 1977 record by Richard Hell and the Voidoids). That's CBGB and OMFUG (315 Bowery; 212-982-4052), the storied hole of a club that broke Television, the Ramones, and Patti Smith back in the '70s and is still a completely respectable hard rock/punk destination. On a slightly more modern tip, catch an all-ages hardcore show at the unrepentantly divey Continental (25 Third Avenue; 212-529-6924), which has also hosted the likes of Iggy Pop and various Ramones, but more often features bands like Assrockers and Sabbra Cadabra (a Black Sabbath tribute).

FASHION: For the eternal anti-fashion that is punk, a pair of scissors (for making patches out of your favorite band T-shirts and cutting holes in your black jeans) and a 100-pack of safety pins are all you really need. Trash and Vaudeville (4 St. Marks Place; 212-982-3590) carries the rest of the basics: plaid pants with zippers, ugly T-shirts, and a back room full of scary, scary boots. Also, don't forget New York Hardcore Tattoos (127 Stanton Street; 212-979-0350) for the ultimate in Mom-horrifying accessories.

PREREQS:The list of essential punk albums is long, though the songs are short. Try the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks . . . (Virgin, 1977); the Clash The Clash (Epic, 1977); the Damned Damned Damned Damned (Stiff, 1977); and the Ramones Ramones Mania (Sire, 1988). Also worth a read is Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (Grove Press, 1996), co-edited by original punks Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

MISC./NOTES:Punk comes in many flavors, including vegan/straight-edge, goth, skater, and anarchist, not including Avril.

Artiste

THE BASICS: Film. Video. Installation. Performance. Ennui. Post-postmodernism.

VENUES:Beyond your school's darkroom and digital video lab, the city is paved with artsy destinations. The P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City; 718-784-2084), in a cavernous former school, is perhaps best known for its Saturday "Warm Up" DJ series, which continues through August 30. Mondo Kim's Video and Music (6 St. Marks Place and a Columbia location next to the Broadway Residence) is more than an ultra-hip media store; both the uptown and downtown locations have sections of student film. DV Dojo (310 Bowery; 212-477-2299; dvdojo.com) has classes on film and documentary making, screening rooms, and equipment for rent, as well as an all-night café.

FASHION: Depending on one's particular aesthetic, the Artiste's wardrobe might come from such rarified sources as Kirna Zabête (96 Greene Street; 212-941-9656), purveyors of Imitation of Christ, the fashion-as-performance art line that has held shows at a metro station and a funeral parlor, and Diesel (1 Union Square West, at 14th Street; 212-255-6603), where jeans have names like Kuzko and Zathan; or alternatively, you could buy vintage at Brooklyn's Beacon's Closet (88 North 11th Street; 718-486-0816), customize a Hanes T-shirt yourself, and finish the look with multicolor tights from the Sockman (27 St. Marks Place; 212-529-0300).

PREREQS:Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings 1938-1940 (contains the classic theory-nerd essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"); I Am a Camera: Photos for Saatchi (anthology with works by Tierney Gearon, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol); Quimby the Mouse (by Chris Ware, the baroque graphic novelist who brought you Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth), out in August.

MISC./NOTES:On Tuesday, October 28, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., as part of a show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, visitors will be able to compete in a big game of Counter-Strike, the subject of a multimedia project by Marco Brambilla.

Serious Activist/Sex Radical

THE BASICS:Dreadlocks. Birkenstocks. Anti-Occupation. Slogans. Raptivism. Gender ambiguity. Resuscitating democracy.

VENUES: The Bluestockings bookstore (172 Allen Street; 212-777-6028) is a venerable gathering place and resource hub for New York City activist-feminists and others.

ABC No Rio (156 Rivington Street; 212-254-3697) is an artists' and activists' community center hosting exhibitions, experimental open mics, and a panoply of leftist activities including Food Not Bombs. Gobo restaurant (401 Sixth Avenue; 212-255-3242), owned by the sons of fellow veggie destination Zen Palate, serves vegetarian world cuisine, almost all vegan.

FASHION: Yes, even you must occasionally be a slave to consumption. Terra Verde (120 Wooster Street; 212-925-4533) sells the finest in organic cotton, hemp, and other virtuous wearables. The Housing Works Thrift Shop (143 West 17th Street; 212-366-0820) donates its proceeds to help homeless people with AIDS.

PREREQS:The reading list is long for an anti-Bush soldier. Try linguist-leftist luminary Noam Chomsky's 9-11 (Seven Stories Press, 2001), Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), and novelist-activist Arundhati Roy's War Talk (South End Press, 2003).

MISC./NOTES:Keep up with the latest in government and corporate malfeasance by reading reader-reported Indymedia.org, Mother Jones, The Nation, and of course The Village Voice.

Retromania

THE BASICS: Fancy hairdos. Shined shoes. Record players. The understated elegance of a more refined era (1920s-50s).

VENUES:The Slipper Room (167 Orchard Street; 212- 253-7246) hosts the longest-running burlesque night in New York on Saturday nights, with saucy vintage striptease and vaudeville acts. La Belle Epoque (827 Broadway) is a gorgeous art nouveau restaurant perfect for jazz brunch. The Carnegie Club (156 West 56th Street; 212-957-9676) boasts waitresses in cocktail dresses and pearls, and a weekly Sinatra tribute, complete with an 11-piece orchestra.

FASHION: Religious Sex (7 St. Marks Place; 212-477- 9037), as the name implies, errs on the fetishy side of retro, but stock includes white gloves, brocade coats, and corsets. Williamsburg's the Girdle Factory (218 Bedford Avenue; 718-486-9599) carries a wide selection of sincere vintage. Though expensive, Cheap Jack's (841 Broadway; cheapjacks.com) is worth a try for hats.

PREREQS:The Retromaniac always has a specialty, be it golden-age Hollywood musicals (Top Hat, Singin' in the Rain); early jazz (Louis Armstrong's The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings, Bill Evans's Sunday at the Village Vanguard); or even literature (Steinbeck, Hemingway). Choose wisely, as once acquired, you will probably have these tastes for the rest of your life.

MISC./NOTES:From August 15 to September 4, the Film Society of Lincoln Center (165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue; 212-875-5600) is running The Whole Wide World: 50 Years of Widescreen Moviemaking.

Japanophile

THE BASICS: Strange creatures with noodles. Techy gadgets. Anime.

VENUES:The Japan Society (333 East 47th Street; 212-832-1155) has lectures, exhibitions, and a lovely waterfall. The Wild Lily Tea Room (511-A West 22nd Street) and the smaller but equally charming Wild Lily Tea Market (545 East 12th Street, both at wildlilytearoom.com) are oases consecrated to teas. M2M Market (55 Third Avenue; 212-353-2698) is a wonderland of a "convenient store," offering all 500 flavors of Pocky.

FASHION: Takashimaya (693 Fifth Avenue; 212-350-0100) is a full-service Japanese department store. Prohibit (269 Elizabeth Street; 212-219-1469) has a section of Japanese imports, including the hard-to-find Hysteric Glamour clothing and accessories line. The super-friendly stylists at Hair Kuwayama (214 East 10th Street; 212-529-6977) will give you the feathery, layered, or asymmetrical cut of your dreams. Kawaii!

PREREQS:Japanese film stretches from canonical favorites (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai) to current horror imports (The Eye, Juwan) and, of course, to anime (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke). Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning, (Harry N. Abrams, 2000) is a monograph on the hot pop artist.

The Wannabe

THE BASICS:Unironic hipsterism (see Williamsburg). Unapologetic pretension. Celebrity-stalking in stilettos.

VENUES: (Caveat: these are subject to change every six weeks.) Hipster division: Pianos (158 Ludlow Street; 212-505-3733), the Lower East Side bar/club that hosts hot local underground acts and a weekly comedy show with David Cross; Verb Café (218 Bedford Avenue; 718-599-0977), the Williamsburg soy-latte house/pickup scene.

Celebrity division: Bungalow 8 (515 West 27th Street), Plaid (76 East 13th Street), and APT (419 West 13th Street; 212-414-4245) are tiny clubs in, respectively, Chelsea, the East Village, and the meatpacking district, that you probably won't get into, but where you might see Puffy, Britney, or Chloë Sevigny on line.

FASHION:H&M (51st Street and Madison Avenue, and other locations), in case you haven't heard, has all the rage in ugly-beautiful and sexy-sexy threads for men and women, like tiny tennis skirts and engineer caps, at outrageous single-digit prices. Century 21 (22 Cortlandt Street; 212-227-9092) specializes in actual designer names on clearance. Pricey Marc Jacobs (403 Bleecker Street; 212-924-0026) has, besides the Winona connection, a boho-esque Marc by Marc Jacobs fall line including plaid shirt-jackets, seriously distressed denim, and yes, a trucker hat.

PREREQS:King of the "hysterical realists" (the literary style of our age, also covering Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace), Dave Eggers, has released his novel You Shall Know Our Velocity! in an extensively revised paperback edition. Check out The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Thingsby JT Leroy, rock star/Gus Van Sant screenwriter/ambiguously gendered person-about-town. Sex and the City (HBO, sixth season) is always good for a vicarious shot of glamour. Ken Park, by Kids director Larry Clark, is the teensploitation art flick everyone will be talking about this fall.

MISC./NOTES:Your best bet for hanging out with celebrities may be . . . English class! Look out for Jake Gyllenhaal and Julia Stiles at Columbia, and the Olsen twins starting this fall at "a New York college." The blog Gawker.com also logs celebrity sightings, so you can be hot on Anna Wintour's trail.

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