Monday, April 4, 2011

Where the hell have I been? Certainly not tuned in, turned on, or dropped out.

Truly that is the question on everyone's mind since I have not written anything here in ages (can't count the Pantywaist Factory Fire, since that wrote itself, and did not entertain anyone, especially not me.) Well, let's just say that my rage got the better of me and I had to be removed from society for a period of observation. Thanks for all the flowers, by the way.

So... what have I been wearing? Not some other human's skin, not that anyone can prove. I know that I have mentioned Trash & Vaudeville's shoe sale rack bargain, and the importance of buying that second pair along with the first. I also know that I left you hanging, only showing you ONE pair of shoes. Ever since then, one question has been haunting you day and night, plaguing your dreams, ruining your appetite (or prompting binging – everyone has different ways of coping.) I am oh so happy to proclaim, the wait is over... TA-DA!
Neat, huh! How can you beat black and pink winklepicker brogues? I have always had a bit of penchant for two-tone footwear, especially when it exhibits such a saddle shoe influence. I get that from my mother, like a surprising large proportion of my aesthetics. She loved buying me saddle shoes when I was a little boy, which was somewhat difficult since all she could ever find at "The Shoe Rack" (Yes, our local shoe store was called that. Actually, there were two shoe store across from each other on the Washington Street Mall, but both were owned by Mr. Casale. I am not certain what shoes were at "Casale's" since that was the full retail store whereas "The Shoe Rack" featured that late-August back-to-school sale.  Clearly, I was indoctrinated into the sale lifestyle from the time I could first walk.) were girl saddle shoes. Somehow, post-50s saddle shoes were relegated to the world of cheerleaders and fetish prostitutes. In retrospect, perhaps that contributed to the late elementary school abuse that was hurled at me by the like of Jamie Anderson... he was the ringleader, shouting "tinkerbell" at me across the lunch room all though the fifth and sixth grades. It stung a bit, since he had been a friend of mine before that, but I could never take it too seriously. For instance,  he was short (even by 5th grade standards) and had a horrifying speech impediment. When some tiny goblin with a Dorothy Hammil hairdo starts screetching "tink-i-bell" at the top of his prepubescent shemale lungs, even a delicate 10-year-old has got to laugh. I suppose I was bullied back then, but it was done so ineptly it just didn't register. I should find him on FaceBook and see if he ever broke the 5 foot mark or if he ever found his Rs. Suffice to say I was cool beyond my years in the late 70s.

Wait, what? Oh! Blogging! Sorry. As with any new shoes these needed to be broken in, and even in this day and age and in this city, walking around with shoes and nothing else is frowned upon (also, apparently wearing someone else's skin does NOT count as being dressed either.) In short, I needed some sort of outfit above (but not distracting from) the shoes. The pink and white card suit socks were a natural choice, not just for the color, but for that Guys and Dolls alley gambler motif that follows the saddle shoe idea so nicely. It was either that or bobby socks and a cheerleading skirt.

From there I simply picked my only pink and black suit, the pink of course is only in the lining so it only peeks out as I walk, giving just that flash of zort to those who are paying attention. The thing about this suit that makes it so enticing is that it is sculpted velvet paisley, adding a delicate and complex pattern on top of those relatively bold shoes. My mother has a thing for paisley too, so it's just more of my genetics pushing through. Funny thing about paisley... it has developed this idea that it is a 70s pattern, but really it can be traced back to Persia and India about 2000 years ago. (Thus concludes my educational responsibility to place things in a historical context.) Paisley has to be done right so you don't look like some sort of dirty, patchouli-scented hippy though.

Speaking on the subject of patterns, you may recall (oh, toss me a bone and say you do) that I wrote at length about the joy of combining literally billions of patterns as long as you maintained a cohesive color scheme. I used the black and white example but alluded to using actual colors. Well, the converse is equally true: You can play with perhaps one gajillion colors IF you stick to one pattern. Now this example doesn't really demonstrate that in an extreme sort of way since you will see mostly neutrals, but you get the point, right?
Now here is my big BUT: contrary to what I said above, if you throw too many colors in with a paisley you DO wind up looking like the aforementioned stinky hippy. We are all aware that looking stinky is more or less equivalent to actually stinking. People will just assume that you reek and will go out of their way to avoid you. They will also be terrified that you will attract others like you and spontaneously form a drum circle. But look, it can work if you remember dignity, always dignity. 

I just look like someone you would want to sniff.
I do promise that I will give you a much more exciting mono-pattern, multi-color treat just as soon as I feel like it.

Coming Up: Underpants and why come a child's large fits better than an adult's small.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Great Pantywaist Fire Day Everybody!!!

Today is the 100th anniversary of my second favorite NYC disaster. As anyone who knows me is already aware (my audience of perhaps three? four?), I make a point of wishing a happy Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire day every year. Normally, the only other mention that it gets is a NY1 “Today in NYC History” mention, but since it is the centennial there is a bit more hubbub about it. 

I always assume that everyone understands that this is not some ghoulish affectation on my part but an actual appreciation that a massive historical tragedy inspired some sort societal reflection on what went wrong, and how we (as a society/civilization) might be able to make changes in our philosophy and behavior to prevent a similar (or even vaguely similar) event from happening again. The Great Pantywaist Fire (sounds more magical and perhaps a little feyer) led to not only reforms in fire safety but also to greater power for workers and unions to improve their conditions. My all-time favorite disaster, the General Slocum fire, let to massive reforms in boat safety and government regulation of mass transit.

This year the anniversary is a little more poignant with the recent re-demonification of unions... those greedy unions wanting collective bargaining power to secure healthcare benefits, cost-of-living pay increases, and (oh! the audacity!) fire exits. Somehow, there is now a monologue reminding us about how the benevolence of Executive Management and Owners is being threatened by the money-and-power grubbing laborers. Clearly, if someone has money they deserve it, and those who don’t have it are lazy crumb-bums demanding it at the expense of YOU, the only hard working real American. Of course if you are making similar demands then you are also an un-American commie. After all, the oligarchy gets their authority from god, and no one should fiddle with that.

I know this ranting doesn’t fit within the scope of my blog, but I just don’t want the true meaning of the Great Pantywaist Fire day to fall by the wayside. It’s bad enough that Purim quietly became hipster dufus Halloween.

Next time, back to the usual and informative, I swear: Underpants and Why Factory Seconds Is an Equally Valid Lifestyle Choice

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cake... they all always want cake

So I was bored the other night... really, really bored, and Jeff was passed out on the couch while some bad movie that we had already seen was on the TV. I had nothing to read (since I have yet to replace my liberry card that I lost in August of 2009), so I did what every modern multi-slacker does: YouTube spiral. Now I am VERY allergic to cats (I wasn't when I was a teen, go figure) so UNLIKE what every modern multislacker does: I avoided all videos of cats, kittens, kittens riding cats, cats stuck in boxes, pianos being played by cats, and even monkeys washing cats (heh heh heh). My spiral started with some 80s videos (the music kind that they used to show on MTV, before it became the Knocked-up, Unwed Teenage Slut 24-hour network. (Kids, you can ask your parents what those letters stood for before they meant My Turnpike of a Va...oh, you know.) (Should I edit that out? It did come from a place of both rage and despair.) Anyway, I had forgotten about this particular video but watching it now I realize that its visually styling must have had a massive impact on me.

I could claim some sort of op-art influence on my affinity for dressing in pure black and white, but as you have no doubt learned about me by now I use this forum for the dissemination of truth, not as a virtual chamber of lies and insincerities. I am old enough to have grown up with a black and white TV in my bedroom at the foot of my bed; one that looked much like this:

So I do have a particular fondness for the stark contrast one gets on a classic black and white set. Couple that with some nice static and you wind up with a world that is both bold and alien. Forget the other end of the spectrum — those heavenly 80s fluorescents (because there is plenty of time for that). When I would watch TV in black and white I would just see a screen of graphics; pure graphics. If I became absorbed in what I was watching (maybe Wonder Woman, maybe Space 1999) I would have to let my imagination fill in the colors, and my brain would see something very different from what my eyes saw. Perhaps saying that I would have to let my imagination do anything is a mischaracterization; that part was just automatic. It isn't that far removed from another aspect of pure black and white: it is reminiscent of good old print. Nothing is more vivid than a well-written page, printed in black ink on a white page. Philosophically, I am really gung-ho for black and white.

Ok, perhaps that did diverge a bit from wearing black and white. (How many times have I written "black and white?" A lot, I bet.) Let me try to reel this in a bit and just make some sort of list of something or another:

Wearing all black and white implies a certain level of class and sophistication, not necessarily intrinsically, but by referring back to black and white films. Watch the New Year's Eve/Engagement party scene in Holiday, and tell me that those people aren't dressed to the nines. Now watch any film from the black and white era and tell me that those people don't look good. Even the Charlie Chaplin hobos. The contrast between black and white provides such clean lines that you can't help but notice. Clean lines are sharp.

When you wear all black, you have to make sure everything is equally black; any variation from true black is evident when put against any other variation of black. A really dark warm grey next to a really dark cool grey will smack you right in the eyeballs. That can work for you, but you can't do it all willy nilly or you will just look sloppy and bumbling. The same is true of whites. Of course if you wear both, the contrast of the black and the white overshadows any small variations and you can get away with a lot more. (Murder? Maybe not, but at least manslaughter.)

When your color scheme is strong and coherent, pattern becomes your pal, your buddy, your bitch. You can throw as many together as you want. Of course this is really true of ANY simple and coherent color scheme, but black and white gives you essentially unlimited latitude. Weak-minded people have said things like, "You can't mix stripes and polkadots." I (with my large brain) say poppycock and fiddle-faddle! Throw in the checks too, if you want. If you really want to you can totally redefine the shape of your body with your patterns. This is especially handy for evading predators. Ask a zebra or a panda or a fresh water angelfish. I am actually an endomorph, measuring 5'2" and weighing in at 247 lbs, but you would never know it.

Why are my arms this hairy? Stupid Eastern European genes. At least they left me with a proclivity towards beets. (Bonus tip: No beets while wearing white, if you know what's good for you.)

Just guess what I might be hiding under that outfit.

Coming soon: Underpants and why come we can't wear a bathing suit under our clothes instead.