Monday, February 27, 2006

the emperor wears vintage

Go away 80s. I'll not mince words when I say that 80s fashion sucks. So stop it, please I beg of you.

It’s hard to tell if my visceral response to the 80s revival has to do with my own traumatic fashion faux-pas growing up. Like that time that I was waiting for my dad to pick me up from school when Courteney Schlein, an upperclassman who was waiting next to me, looked me up and down and said, “… Nice… vest.”

I was clad in a navy-colored puffy down vest, the kind that would be very comfortable if you were, let’s say, skiing in Vancouver. It might also have been unseasonably warm out that day. Of course, I never wore that vest to school again. (I have left out the part where my dad eventually pulls up in our rattling two-toned brown and beige Chevrolet cruiser as Courtney’s mom pulls up right behind him in an immaculate black Mercedes sedan.) Or maybe it’s because of the time that I arrived at a formal wearing a homespun creation that involved black and white houndstooth and a balloon skirt. A formidable combination to say the least.

Regardless, I like to think that my offense is simply on an aesthetic level, pure unadulterated aesthetics, of which mine are very refined and vastly superior to other elementary humans that walk this earth.

But it only dawned on me this afternoon that there is even such a thing as an 80s fashion revival. This occurred as I was eating lunch and taking a moment out of my otherwise very busy and important day when I happened to catch Beverly Hills Cop on TV. The opening montage had Eddie Murphy strolling down Rodeo drive and checking out all the fashion victims wearing clothes that look disconcertingly like the hipster fashion of today. My superfast brain proceeded to make the connection that there are people out there, I dare say very young soulless people, who never actually lived through the 80s, resurrecting out of some sort of retro tomfoolery a fashion wave that should lie deeply buried in our shameful past. What’s worse is the culture of what I call “ironicalism” surrounding it. Whatever (insert finger quotations here).

Let’s call things as they are. First, this so-called “vintage” craze is nothing more than used clothing. That’s right. That would be stuff that other people didn’t want and were almost willing to throw away but were too cheap to do so. So, while I am a believer of recycling and restoration of quality goods (homes, furniture, old typewriters, cars, handmade bespoke suits) I refuse to buy into this delusion over what is in fact thrift store shopping. And if you’re going to buy thrift store stuff, fine, it’s all good, but let’s not go calling it “vintage”. It’s just used shit.

The thing is, some of my best friends wear "vintage" and I love them despite it. I understand that old stuff has a lot more character than off-the-rack Banana Republic. I will even claim to have a couple of prized used items in my own sartorial collection. But if we could only be a little more honest about what it is. And if we could just refrain from pretending like 80s clothing has been around long enough to be "vintage". And while we're at it, can we please not pretend that wearing "vintage" shoes is not completely gross? Someone else's foot was in there for chrissakes.

Fashion is inherently referential. All the looks have been done before and even the bubble skirt of the 80s can be found to date back to the 50s. But what I would like to believe is that if there can remotely be such a thing as "progress" that this would somehow entail leaving the bad stuff behind, being able to judge the ugly from the beautiful, or at least place things in a refreshingly new context where to be ironic isn't just to reproduce a look but to reconfigure that look into a real statement with true irony. When it comes down to it, the whole 80s vintage thing is just a physical manifestation of everything else going horribly wrong in the world. It invokes Reaganomics, Less Than Zero, square headlights on cars. So I don't think that it is overreacting when I say that the next person I see prancing down the road in an ill-fitting "vintage" dress and some outlandish beaded necklace and Jackie O sunglasses is not only committing a crime against fashion but a crime against humanity and should be punished accordingly.

On a side note, it's fracking freezing in LA today. It must be 50 degrees out or something.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

the dragon whips its tail

In an uncharacteristic departure from my general policy not to post pictures of myself, I'm publishing this picture to prove to my beloved friends that I indeed still live.

Here is a curtailed list of some of the things that have prevented me from writing anything:

Olympic curling, out of town visitors, karaoke, car wreck (okay maybe just a bump), grey goose martinis, 2 am chacharoni, Alee, huge fight with the BFF, minor fight with the dad, teaching, and did I mention olympic curling? All while ineffectively trying to make progress with my dissertation.

What I learned from all of this was that human relationships are require work. Sometimes if you're lucky, everything happens effortlessly so that there is a seamless flow between one's personal and professional life, but in most cases you have to make sacrifices to make one or the other succeed. And in the past week I've dropped the ball in showing how much my real friends mean to me.

So on a very personal note, I'd like to send out this belated Valentine's message to the following people:

1. To my "not-so-secret" admirer, thanks for the anatomically correct one pound chocolate heart. It is so grotesque/lovely that I cannot bring myself to eat it.

2. To the Hanscoms, my adopted family, thanks for being a constant in my life.

3. To Alleycat, thanks for making me miss you more.

4. To Kathleen, eat more sushi and call me in the morning.

5. To Walter and Lambda, I wait with bated breath for your visit.

6. Ditto for Anne.

7. To Lily, Happy Birthday.

8. To Rebecca, when life gives you lemons get your legs waxed.

9. To Strongsad, someday Marzipan will answer her phone. In the meantime, stop letting Homestar smoke so much.

10. To "the other Cho", I'll be in Boston in July.

11. Luigi, I know you're out there somewhere. I miss you.

12. And last of all, to the Xoo. Please don't be mad at me anymore. I'm not perfect but trying my best. I have a pig in a blanket and I'm at your door. If you hear me knocking, let me in.

Apologies to anyone else who is reading this. But sometimes you just have to bring it down and keep it real.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

has it really come to this?

Okay listen. I honestly don't know what is more disturbing. That it took me over thirty years to learn how to tie my shoelaces properly. Or that I sat here with my sneaker in my lap reading "Ian's Shoelace Site" for fifteen minutes following Ian's shoetying instructions. Either way, I can celebrate knowing that my days of bungled shoetying are over. No more of those inferior loosey goosey slip knots for me. I'm all reef knots from here on out. Yes! Is this what nirvana feels like? There were certainly no empty promises here... Ian really does know how to bring the fun, fashion and science of shoelaces!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

they are dead to me

The fog rolled in on Palos Verdes friday night in a thick blanket. You could barely see five feet ahead of you. Cars disappeared into the mist like sharks slipping out of sight on a dark ocean floor. It felt incongruous with the room that I had just left, warm and lively, full of sounds of tinkling glasses and muffled laughter. Like stepping out of a cocktail party directly into a zombie movie. That's when a group of zombies actually emerged from the mist and began to chase me. I pulled my camera out just as the leader started to shuffle over to devour me, almost succeeding, before I ran screaming away like a blasted flibbertigibbet. Miraculously, I lived to tell the tale.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


The following words are to be forever excised from the English language:


If you find yourself using any of the above at any time you should send me $100 per word per violation. I accept paypal. However, I'm prepared to provide some wholesome alternatives so that we might begin to incorporate language into our vocabulary that inspire our imaginations instead of regurgitating stale platitudes that have lost any descriptive power whatsoever. Let's exfoliate such linguistic sleaze from our lips and begin to revel in the verbal delights of:

loosey goosey

Screw homogenization and let's live a little.