Friday, October 11, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Clotheszillas

Late at night, after the stores all close shop for the evening, the merchandise stretches out, gets comfortable, and enjoys some downtime.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to that life-changing moment in every fashion piece's existence when they will be plucked from the shelves, purchased at the counter, and taken to a new home, their own home, to live happily ever after.

The mood softens, the voices fill with longing, and somewhere from the back corner of the store a whisper thin silk shirt in an impossible size waits on the final clearance rack and croons a torch song in a high clear voice, while the silk cocktail dress, recently arrived, sways dreamily on its hanger.  The pencil skirts describe their dream closets, while the pumps talk about the ones that walked away.

Like newly engaged couples, the clothes dream of a future that only exists, for 99% of them, in their fevered, lovesick imaginations; padded hangers, fashionable friends, svelte bodies, fancy restaurants, society pages, and Broadway shows.

The entitled 1% will indeed enjoy an existence of luxury and ease in their well maintained and spacious closets and will only be worn several times before being lovingly consigned to, filmed and fawned over by, the southern belles of Resale Royalty.  They will move on, after a retail refresh, to a second, and possibly more fulfilling, relationship with a young starlet obsessed with vintage.

Oh, of course, most of them are born into this privileged existence; the Birkens, the Coaches and the Lily Pulitzers, for starters.  And let's not get started on the World of Ralph Lauren.  Every once in awhile, however, an upstart from humble beginnings, an Alex and Ani bracelet, for instance, or a Tom's shoe, shows up on  the red carpet or a coveted foot, starts a new trend, and all of a sudden finds itself living large and taking names.  These success stories are the stuff of dreams for the "off the rack" fashion lines.

"But what about the remaining 99%?", you ask.  "What about them?"

Well, my Darlings, after an auspicious and hopeful beginning, they will, of course, be brought to terms with reality.

The most unlucky will pick an owner (typically based on body type), consummate their relationship in the dressing room, legitimize it at check-out, and travel to their new home with high expectations.  Upon arrival, they will be disappointed by a messy abode, a minuscule closet, and the negligence that accompanies over consumption. They'll notice signs of neglect; a missing button here, a dropped hem there, stains of every sort, and the smelly evidence of infrequent dry cleaning.  At night, they'll cry softly for the sale rack they left behind.  It was crowded, sure, but at least they were hung up and not thrown over a stationary bicycle with 25 other sweaty, misused garments.  The energy will be stilted and the air suffocating, as all the Clotheszillas come to terms with a future not filled with parties and lilting laughter, as expected, but debt collection calls, jello shot vomit stains, and yard sales.

The average experience is sure to be something more heartening, one must hope.  A cute dress is found by an average woman who chooses it among all the others on the rack and purchases it with hard earned cash. She will take it home, to a regular sized closet, and a small but carefully selected wardrobe.  It's a hard life, sure, being worn once, sometimes twice a week.  A dress slows down more quickly, shows some wear and tear, but at least it can count on being cleaned regularly, hung up nightly, and repaired as needed. It will develop affection, over time, for the woman, who will likewise come to rely on it when she doesn't know what else to wear.  It will have space in the closet to spread  its wings and it will become close friends with the accessories it is paired with on a rotating basis.   This dress will learn to accommodate and forgive the occasional stretch required of early or post pregnancy weight, date night at Texas Road House, and middle-age spread.  When it grows old and beyond repair, it will be recycled in a respectful manner, and find new life.

These clotheszillas are the lucky ones.  They get to fully live.

Chicken  out

And then, of course, there's eccentric fashion

Colin Hay Waiting for my real life to begin Live HQ 2010

I first heard this Colin Hay song in Yoga.  I listened while breathing into my back during Downward Dog.  I totally got the lyrics. Breathing into my back, not so much.

I'm going to see Colin Hay tomorrow night in Boston, at the Wilbur Theater, with my good friend, Deb.

Colin.  Hey.  Colin. Yeah,  up here, right side, balcony.  Hi!  I'm  Chicken.  I think you are very real.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Butter Files: Drug Lords

Note:  My father was born into a large farming family in central Maine. He grew up, married twice (consecutively, not at the same time), and had five kids.  Everyone called him "Butter".  Butter Files stories are about his side of the family (as opposed to the Vi Chronicles, starring my mom, Violet.)

I had two great uncles.  Uncle "Bob" is an uncle by marriage to my Dad's aunt, "Min".  Uncle Phil was a brother to Min.

Uncle Bob lived in Norridgewalk, and Uncle Phil lived down the road a ways from the family farm where Dad grew up.

One very hot summer day when I was 17, I found myself out Uncle Phil's way.  I had been picking blueberries with my friend, TS.  When the heat became intolerable, we drove to Uncle Phil's farm to take a breather.  Uncle Phil had been married to Josephine (Aunt Jo), who had passed away a couple years prior, and he now lived by himself in the big, old house.

After we had slaked our thirst and made some small talk, Uncle Phil said, "Do you like the marijuana?"

We looked at one another, TS and I, and I said, "Ummm. Why do you ask?"

"Because I have some.", he said.  Then he led us to the guest bedroom where, stacked under the bed, were multiple shoe boxes.  He pulled one out, removed the cover, and showed us his booty.

It was, indeed, stuffed with homegrown.  I said, "Uncle Phil!  What are you up to?"

He grinned and said, "Nothing.  Just wondered if I could grow it.  You can keep that box."

A couple of years after Uncle Phil died, I was at a family reunion, and Uncle Bob had my ear.  He asked about my job, my life and whatnot, and it occurred to me that  I didn't really  know what he had done for a living, so I said, "What about you, Uncle Bob?  Do you still work?"

"Yeah", he said.  "I work-part time for the government.  I'm part of that war against drugs thing."

"Oh really?", I asked, "What does that entail?"

"I'm a scout.  I look for pot farms, mostly.  I go up in planes and fly over different areas of Maine, or just drive around.  Sometimes, I'm just walking through the woods. If I find something, I report it."

"HOLY SHIT", I said to myself.

To Uncle Bob  I say, "Wow, that's so cool!  How long have you been doing that?"

"Oh, about 7 or 8 years."

Uncle Bob's scouting career definitely overlapped Uncle Phil's pot farming years.  Was Uncle Bob purposely not reporting Uncle Phil?  Were they in cahoots to become the home grown drug lords of Maine?  Sort of like Duck Dynasty with fewer ducks?  And less facial hair?  Or was Uncle Bob just not very good at his job? Was Uncle Phil growing pot to see if Uncle Bob could catch him?  Or did he suspect that Uncle Bob was making shit up again?  Or did he really just like growing pot?  And finally, how well do you ever really know your relatives?

Since that day, I've carried a mental image of Aunt Jo and Uncle Phil smoking a fatty out on the back porch of the farm, while Uncle Bob flies overhead, binoculars in hand, reporting, "Nope, nothing to see here.  Let's head back."

What were those two old coots up to? Are there any older relatives in your family you wish you had known better?

Chicken out

These aren't my uncles.  This is from "Bucket List".  The sentiment is sort of the same, however. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hi. I'm Chicken!

I pulled up to the crossroads of civilization in the late evening.  Not sure which road to turn down, I looked for a visitor's lodge or a guard booth and found neither.  I pulled over and got out to stretch my legs.  I walked about the area for ten minutes or so before almost sitting on a hobbit I had mistaken for a large rock.
I said, "Hi. I'm Chicken! You're not Satan are you?"

And the hobbit said, "Why do you ask?  Were you looking for Satan?  Maybe I am he, maybe he is me. Why do you ask?"

And then he did four back flips in a row down the middle of the road.

"Dude", I said, "I'm just here to make a delivery. I don't play fiddle and my Momma loved me. Just to be clear.  Hey, do you know which of these roads leads to the encampment of Alexandria?"

"All of them and none of them", he said.

"Ok, interesting.", I said.  "I have 50 kilos of Cotton Candy here, deliverable to one H.M. Stuart. Do you know which road might lead to him? Or the Alexandria Carnival?"

"Oh, the Good H.M. Stuart, you say?  He gets around.  You might find him anywhere.  You could try the yellow brick road straight ahead.  Ignore the monkeys along the way.  Don't smell the poppies.  Don't feed the animals.  You might want to telegraph ahead and make an appointment.  Chances are, he's not there."

"If he's not on the yellow brick road, then where do you think he might be?  I really want to drop this shipment. There's a storm blowing in and I'm meeting friends for drinks two towns over."

The hobbit's head spun around a few times on his neck.  The back of his head addressed me.

"He could be at the Firefly Lounge.  Head straight down the dirt road to your left.  You can't miss it; lots of big blinking lights. They're having a Halloween party tonight. Bobbing for apples, candy corn, pineapple ham pizza, the whole bit. You could go. That's probably where your cotton candy is going, anyway. I heard David Lynch will be there. There's a rumor the ghost of Robert Johnson will be performing"

"Thanks. I didn't bring a costume", I said.

"You'll figure something out. Of course, he could be hanging out at the Capitol Club tonight.  Down that highway to the right.  It's book club night."

"Oh yeah?  I like books.  What are they reading?"

"Rules for Radicals.  Have you read it?"

"No. I don't like politics", I understated.  "I like Stephen King. And Chelsea Handler."  I said.

"They are all very scary", said the hobbit.  He blinked and vomited green bile.

I looked over his shoulder, down the highway he had gestured toward.

"Nice road. How come they don't pave the road on the left?" I asked.

"I dunno.  I think they had every good intention of paving it, but once they got the first road done, they just forgot."

"You know, I'm kind of in a hurry." I said. "Where do you suppose he's most likely to be tonight?  Can I call him?  I really need his signature to release this load."

"Oh you don't call H.M Stuart, Good Chicken; he calls you.  But your best bet is the Firefly Lounge.  He enjoys a good costume party, and the Capitol loyalists are rumored to be crashing later, after book club. You'll know them by their togas. H.M. is sure to show up.

"Ok, thanks a lot.  Would you like a lift?"  I asked the hobbit.

"I would like a lift", said the hobbit, transporting himself instantly into the cab of my truck.  "I don't get many invitations. You must be incredibly naive?"

"I am incredibly naive.", I said, "But the Law of Karma protects me."

"Oh yeah", he said, "Deepak will be there.  In a toga."

"By the way, Chicken", he said, "Would you like to see our lions? Hang a right at the fork."

Chicken out