Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's UGLY PANTS!

            When I see the word “hero,” I think of Bette Midler singing in the movie “Beaches.” More specifically, I remember a hairless child singing the song “The Wind Beneath My Wings” (because there’s the line “did you ever know that you’re my hero?”) as a Karaoke selection at the Roller Kingdom indoor roller skating rink while I was at someone’s birthday party in the 80’s. I also think of the magnificent Strauss tone poem Ein Heldenleben with loud, hard, gratifying horn parts, a delicious sushi restaurant in NYC, and Superman. What I do not think of, ever, are clown pants – hideously printed, wacky, brightly colored, tacky, expensive, louder than the special effects in an action film at the movie theatre pantalones.
Hey guess what, I don't want your personality.
            Not too long ago Net-A-Porter sent out their weekly style mag discussing a trend called “Hero Pants.” Of course, I thought I missed the memo when I pondered, “What the hell are hero pants?!” The handy dandy Internet allowed me to discover that no one else knew what the hell Net-A-Porter was talking about either. Hero Pants or Victim Pants, really ugly printed pants seem to be a big hit this fall. I had almost forgotten about the whole shebang until I was reminded by the ocularly offensive ad Anthropologie sent to my Inbox on 9/24/12. They called them “Personality Pants/ Pants that go Pow.” I think the best part about the girl’s outfits in this email is that she looks like she did her hair with an eggbeater (I hope you remember what one of those is - see picture below if you don't). And I can actually say that is not an exaggeration. YOW. The webpage that email loads hurts to look at. 
Egg beater
            Let’s get back to this whole “hero pants” concept. As far as I can tell, the only requirement of “hero pants” is that they be ugly, based on the selection at this Net-a-porter trend page. In case you don’t feel like clicking through to that, I’ve selected a few of my favorites to show here. And I truly hope that you can envision the look on my face as I view them. If you don’t know me and/or haven’t been shopping with me, it’s something similar to the look on the face of the girl sitting in the lawn chair reading the book about Hitler and friends, except the eyes are bugged out a little bit more, brow raised and furrowed, and my mouth would lie somewhere between breaking out into uncontrollable laughter and a clown frown. 

I’m not sure which is the winner, Tablecloth Crotch, Leprosy Legs, or Golden Girls’ Next Door Neighbors’ Bathroom Wallpaper Print Pants.
            I recall one of my first visits to Century 21 (the discount retailer, not the real estate agent) on Wall St. I was 20. I had a tendency to like ugly things, sometimes. (Top secret information: I still like really ugly things for myself sometimes and that is why I rarely go shopping alone) My ultra-fashionable friend Alicia had taken me – I’m not sure if this is the visit when I bought my first pair of Prada shoes or a different visit. Anyways… I found these pants that I was certain I had to have. I’m pretty sure they were Etro. They were denim and they were covered with sequined apple trees. I can see you wrinkling your nose at me. It’s okay, I can take it. Thank heavens for Alicia, then Parsons student, now designer for Juicy Couture. She took one look at the pants I had in my hand and gave me a look that indicated that if I even contemplated picking them up off the rack we would no longer be allowed to continue our acquaintance. These pants could EASILY have fallen into the “hero pants” category. The real hero in this situation is Alicia. I don’t know what I would do without you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Incompetent People Need To Eat Too

Incompetence at its finest
           Many of you know of my distaste for football, and with that I refer to the American kind. It has, however, recently come to my attention that the Canadians also have an American football league. And I find that hysterically funny. Yesterday I was spending time with some old friends and, unfortunately, that time coincided with the Patriots game. I was aware of the strike of the NFL officials; I did not know they had been replaced with total hacks. I did not enjoy the game, but watching the coaches’ and players’ frustration with the nonsensical officiating was unbelievably entertaining, with the game culminating in a winning field goal that appeared to not actually be inside the goal posts. INCOMPETENCE. The word of the day, brought to you by the letter “F” and the demonstrative pronoun “this.”
            I think it’s probably a gross understatement to say that we all encounter incompetence regularly in our daily lives. I know that some of the places I’ve encountered it are at the espresso machine, the pharmacy (yeah, that’s a scary one), the highway, Chili’s, job supervisors, employees, the grocery store, McDonald’s, Radioshack, Circuit City (there’s a reason they went out of business)… Let’s face it, there are days when I think everyone is incompetent. To quote my wise and wonderful friend Shannon, some days are just “mind-numbing moron-athons.”
            It seems that incompetence is rearing its ugly head more and more these days, and I’m racking my brain trying to figure out why. Are Americans as a whole becoming stupider? And if that’s the case, whom do we blame? The teachers, the parents, or the inbreeding/anti-birth control craze? Look, I know that a lot of religious folk are not into birth control and I completely appreciate that and bear no judgment at all. I am just thinking that in a situation such as the infamous Duggar Family (“19 Kids And Counting!!!”) of the TLC Network, I would like to propose the possibility that perhaps a couple’s genetics only have so many intelligent chromosomes to pass on. And, oh, maybe after the 12th or 13th child, the rest of your kids are just doomed to be dolts, if you can even remember their names. Maybe Jim Bob and Michelle are great parents. What do I know? There are definitely people out there whom I don’t want having 19 children.
            If Americans as a whole are not growing stupider, then incompetence has to be a result of ignorance and laziness. I think I’ll also throw in a pinch of self-righteousness as well. That last bit comes from my views on incompetent drivers. Have you noticed they drive as if the roads are empty? They think that if they don’t look at you, you’re not there, q.e.d. cutting you off is no longer against the rules. The guy at the grocery store who puts your dozen eggs in a bag underneath the container of laundry detergent, I have no excuse for him. And that yahoo who manages to mess up your coffee drink at Starbucks even though they don’t even pull real espresso shots, that person sucks at life so bad you almost have to feel bad for them - after you get over the anger of paying $6 for a cup of coffee that tastes like burned tar. 
           What I would like to propose, since it’s the beginning of the week, and we all need a little less anger in our lives, is compassion. Perhaps we should show a little bit more compassion for the incompetent of America…compassion for them because they also need to go to work so they can have food to eat. If they don’t go to work, guess who’s going to be paying for their food! YOU! I’m not sure which is the better deal, letting these people ruin little pieces of your day or take little pieces of your paycheck. The next thing I propose is that we take a step back and feel gratitude. Now hold on, the gratitude is not for the incompetent, the gratitude is for ourselves and the natural filters of the universe. 
           The fact that we are running into these incompetent people in our daily lives means they have jobs doing dull things. We need to step back and be grateful that these people are spoiling our coffee, not anthrax vaccines. They are knocking the rearview mirrors off our cars instead of flying airplanes. And they are smashing our bread and breaking our eggs instead of operating on our aortas. I’d like to think that the more incompetent people I see in regular living, the less incompetent people there are doing important jobs. Of course, if we brought government jobs into it, we’d be here forever…. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Help Hiawatha Get His Groove Back

On SALE at Nordstrom for $18.90!!!!
(scrunched up "are you kidding me" face)

           Do you remember Cherie Johnson? Please tell me you watched Punky Brewster. Some of my fondest memories are of watching Punky Brewster in Pennsylvania with my Pop-pop (grandpa), in the basement of their little house in Intercourse. The back of the room would be lit up fairly bright – that’s where Grandma had her sewing machine - and the front of the room where the television was much darker. Pop-pop thought Punky was pretty cute. This was early Punky, before the episode about refrigerator safety. Does anyone else think it’s strange that children are no longer told that it isn’t safe to play in refrigerators? If you have not the foggiest idea what I’m talking about, Cherie Johnson was Punky’s friend from across the hall. She lived with her Grandma and wore headbands the wrong way on her head – in a latitudinal direction across her forehead, as if she were trying to show you that her face went below and her forehead went above, like little Hiawatha might have worn except without a feather.
            Despite Cherie Johnson being a pretty popular person back in the 80’s, I don’t recall anyone emulating this head division by rubber band trend. I realize it was popular in the 70’s to tie things around your forehead. The hippies did it a lot, but those people were all high. In hindsight, I don’t see that anyone really advertised this as a good or trendy idea. In Hiawatha’s case, I understand. He wanted feathers to stick straight up out of his head. Naturally, the logical way to do this would be to have some sort of band to stick them into, and thus the forehead band is the perfect choice.
            Being a bit of a girly girl, I quite enjoy the hair accessories. I noticed in a recent trip to the Nordstrom accessory department that they had several large elastic headbands that looked much too large for the normal size head. I saw pictures of them online and realized that they are meant to be worn on the forehead. 
$48 at Nordstrom
$38 at Nordstrom
$28 at Nordstrom

That is NOT a hair accessory, by the way. That is a forehead accessory. It doesn’t keep anything out of the way of your eyes or tidy your locks in any way. I can’t see something like that doing anything other than giving you a headache. So how did this become a trend? Who is responsible for this ridiculous idea? It just makes you look like a dumbass. Upon Googling the concept, one can find pictures of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie sporting the things. See prior sentence.
            If you want to tell me some load of quadruped excrement along the lines of “It’s fashion forward! It’s so on trend!” or some other string of words that doesn’t really make sense together but you’ve pushed together in the misguided hope that it will make your superficiality sound smart, save it. I saw not a single European person trying to slice off the top of their head with an elastic in the week I was there. I consider the people of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany to be pretty fashionable. I think that Hiawatha would agree with me. I bet that he was a function before fashion kind of guy. Don’t you think he’d be pretty annoyed that all of these ditsy girls were stealing his thunder? Perhaps we can encourage him to make a reappearance the next time Elvis comes to visit. He and Elvis could take a road-trip across the nation, stealing forehead bands in the night. Elvis and Hiawatha – the midnight forehead band-its! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumn, Buddha, And My Personal Struggle With Entropy

           The temperatures are dropping and I am jumping for joy, not just because I am a typical New Englander and cannot stand the heat, but because I get to move back into my bedroom. For pretty much the entire summer I have been sleeping downstairs in front of the television. I am not such an addict to TV that I need it to go to sleep. Quite the contrary. The issue is that my house, like most houses in the area, does not have central air. This is the land of window unit air conditioning. I know several people who recall spending entire summers camping on couches in their own homes. My second home across the street would get so hot on the upper level that even walking by the stairs in the summer time you would encounter this wall of oven like heat. They also had the fun of no heat in the winter and waking up with frost on the inside of the windows. My little brother didn’t have any heat in his bedroom either. And so it goes – a region of the country that grooms its population to not be able to tolerate having the thermostat set above 65 (Or perhaps it is just here on New Fletcher St). We would rather have ice growing on the inside of the windows and be covered in six Polar Fleece blankets than be in a hot house. My college roommates (from Virginia and Barcelona) had fun living with me.
            Since I have not really been sleeping in my room all summer, it has become QUITE the dumping zone. If I’m not going to spend time there, there’s really no incentive to keep it tidy. I’m very pragmatic about my time. I don’t like to waste it. Many people would assume that in lacking a traditional job I am footloose and fancy free. I wish they were right. When I visit my bedroom for whatever reason, inevitably something gets moved out of place, or shifted, or dumped on the floor. This makes my room an excellent demonstration of the concept of entropy, not just in the sense of equilibrium and nature’s predisposition towards disorder, but also in Lazare Carnot’s concept of entropy as energy loss due to friction. I can’t go up there and get anything done without wasting time, making a mess, losing something, getting confused…. the list goes on.
            I am not a Buddhist by any means. I do think the Buddha and his followers and the Dalai Llama have some unbelievably wise things to say. And incorporating a lot of these ideas into your life could not hurt in any way. As I think about moving back into my landfill of a bedroom (which I assure you I will clean), I find myself wondering what Buddha would think of my bedroom. Why? I really don’t know. I have a funny feeling though, that he would laugh quite a lot, having never seen such a ridiculous mess, and then make some sort of proverbial correlation between the state of the inside of my head and the inside of my bedroom.
            I will not deny that I am odd, and sometimes forgetful, and occasionally do really crazy things. I am not, however, the complete and utter disaster that you would assume I was just by looking at the inside of my bedroom. Now I would like to propose that this chaos, this mess, this giant shit show, is a little bit orderly. I do not say that simply because I actually know where things are in the piles and mountains, but because by the laws of equilibrium and principal of entropy, I knew it was going to end up like this. I’m not a psychic. It’s the laws of physics that predict that my bedroom will become a huge garbage heap of a mess.
            My next odd thought: What would Buddha think about entropy? I think we can all agree that the world and all its parts are in a constant state of transition. If the inside of my head is predisposed towards chaos, then it’s going to be extra difficult to clean it up. If entropy and equilibrium are involved, reducing the entropy inside of my head (tidying it up) is going to cause the entropy outside of my head to increase. So, if I really wanted to achieve enlightenment, would that give me license to turn into the Tasmanian Devil and leave tornado style wakes in all of my paths? I certainly wouldn’t mind not ever having to clean. Buddha suggests that we should be clean, though, both for our own sake and for others. With the converse approach, if I make my surroundings perfect to inhabit, the entropy in my head is going to increase and I am going to turn into a bumbling buffoon.
            There seems to be quite a huge debate going on amongst the lazy about whether or not being messy is a sign of genius. Albert Einstein was quite a mess. There are plenty of people out there, on the other hand, who are dumber than chewed up bubblegum that live in slovenly filthy heaps. Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? People are messy (lazy and inconsiderate) – they’re not brilliant or enlightened. I AM going to clean my room, and it’s not going to make me less intelligent or less spiritually awakened. And it will immediately tend towards becoming a mess again. That fact I am quite certain of. I think Buddha would probably point out that in the time we’ve spent debating whether or not messes can be equated with intelligence and entropy with enlightenment, we all could have cleaned our spaces and found out for ourselves.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Dressing Your Child In Versace Is Not Cute, It Is Repugnant.

Young Versace store in Milan - not my
photograph and I'm too disgusted to care

           I went to Milan on Tuesday. I had never been there. Visiting one of the supposed fashion capitals of the world, I had expectations of being surrounded by beauty, art, and awe-inspiring textiles. I think I expected something along the lines of Paris, where art is around every corner, buildings are gilded, and luxurious textiles are about as common as cracks in the sidewalk. What I found in abundance was commercialism. Excess. Rude tourists. Greed. And very little art.
            I was quite taken aback by the fact that I found four Prada stores within a five block radius of one another. It seemed unnecessary. The tourists hobbling like weeble-wobbles because they had so many shopping bags hanging from each hand were comical in a Tim Burton-esque sort of way, rushing down the sidewalk to get to as many stores as possible before they expired. What I found most distressing was the number of designer label children’s clothing stores I came across – Versace, Moschino, Blumarine, boutiques with D&G. The fashion houses are not creating museum quality garb for wee ones. They’re hocking status symbols for mum and dad. To quote Helmut Lang, “Not every fashion is great fashion; not every art is great art.”
            When does art stop being art? The line blurs when commercialism and the laws of supply and demand are mixed in with anything artistic. Is it the act of putting a price on something that diminishes the art? Is it mass production? Or is it the change of mind of the artist from “This is my passion.” to “This is my job?” True art evokes feeling. The inside of the Duomo was evocative, whether it be art or spirituality could be debated. For the most part, Milan left me feeling empty and the abundance of commercial luxury for children was the most repulsive piece of all.
            I keep coming back to thoughts of the recent suicide bombing outside NATO headquarters in Kabul (Sept 8 ’12). An old friend of mine is there teaching music and has been posting stories about the children who died in the blast, yes, children. Innocent children – as innocent as they could hope to be growing up surrounded by war. These sweet souls will never grow up to know what it is to live away from bombs and guns. And the children of visitors to Milan will, perhaps, grow up dressed in Versace. The victims of this “act of courage (so say the jihadists)” sold trinkets for food while these other children wear clothes that cost more money than I have in my bank account.
            Children are supposed to play, laugh, learn, and get dirty. They are not supposed to know fear, war, terror, or hunger. Sadly, those things are a bit beyond our control. Elitism, greed, bigotry, prejudice, ingratitude, and entitlement: these are learned behaviors. Dick and Jane don’t care who made their clothes. They’ll only care if someone tells them to. Children learn these from their parents and those that surround them. In teaching these ideas, we also contribute to the theft of innocence.