Walking by the storefront of a mid-market clothes mill that made the $200 dollar pair of khaki’s famous I noticed a new line of clothing and cross-promoted apparel. A line of clothes inspired by the hit show Mad Men. The show has made us long for the days when casual Friday meant you could skip a tie clip, and when 3 martini lunches didn’t raise the problem drinking flag.
When the show first aired you could hear people muttering about how they wished we still had that much style and how you could still call a woman a hussy without reproach. You know, when men were men and women were women, or least both had more clothes to get off before hopping in the sack.
I don’t work in the corporate world so my need for suits is rare. I don’t know anyone who bought the Mad Men clothes, and I’m not sure who would admit it. I also don’t know if it was a successful marketing move or not, but I see a lot of tie clips out there on the streets. And I do see the occasional cigarette case used as a wallet.
I’m all for looking good and having style. I like the way pork-pie hats and fedoras are back in vogue, I don’t like that we wear them with shorts, but it is better than the trucker hat remix.
My problem is with those people who try to dress in a completely retro stye, maybe I’m bitter because my days of wearing a 42 are over and I look like an escape artist trying to get out of a straight jacket when I try clothes on in a vintage store. Throwing on the Mad Men template only makes it worse.
It dawned on me that the people you have most in common with, when you dress vintage, are Civil War Re-Enactors. Yep. I said it. You’re wearing a costume and acting out. You manage a hair extension kiosk at the mall, you have as much in common with Don Draper as you do with Stonewall Jackson. Having skinny lapels or a bugle doesn’t change that.
It’s good to have a hobby, it’s even better if you have an embarrassing hobby and you don’t care what people think. That shows you have heart and a sense of humor, or a need to be away from the house, like a dart club, a golf habit, fly-fishing, or a perpetual game of Risk with a guy in Rochester. Just own it. And remember that if you’re trying to be cool, you look like you’re trying. Says the guy who wore a customized extra large dog tag for 3 years. And wore it over the shirt. So I’m not throwing stones. I’m throwing well placed polished artisanal prayer stones with cute slogans on them.
Conspiracy theorists bother me. Mostly because they are terrible at conversation and the art of the segue. They are champing at the bit to tell you what they “know” so your small talk is hi-jacked like a DC 10 in the seventies. It goes something like this —
You: Hey, how are you?
Them: I’d be better if the truth about the plot to sterilize the population through the water supply —
You: Nice talking to you. (You exit)
Conspiracy theorists are the karaoke enthusiasts of the intellectual set. And that is a bit harsh to the karaoke world, of which I have recently relapsed into . If you are an unrequited storyteller, or a talker and not a writer, or if you have hoarding tendencies you might be attracted to embellishing stories that have occurred in our world, it’s like fan fiction. It’s easier than being original. Karaoke people are unrequited performers and they need an outlet.
Which brings me to the pretzels. I shop late at night to avoid crowds and I noticed that at all night pharmacies and 7/11’s that it’s hard to find pretzels. Now, a pretzel is not a carrot stick, but it is better than most of the chip, cheese curl, and funyons that populate the shelves. Why is the healthier option harder to find and in some cases unavailable?
You probably shouldn’t carbo-load before bed, but a pretzel gives you that salty crunch that helps you unwind. But, THE MAN doesn’t want me to be able to eat — See? See how easy it is to get worked up? Maybe the manager forgot to order the pretzels. Maybe they’re sold out. Maybe we all should get a life.
If you’re a writer you probably have some odd ritualistic tics when it comes to the way you churn pages. You might need a certain type of music, a certain type of notebook, but for many it’s a certain type of pen.
Even if you only write down the lottery numbers, you probably have a preferred pen.
I have pen lust. I cannot go to an Office Depot or a Staples without dropping forty bucks. I love office supplies.
Not being a head of state, my pens have no collectible value. I don’t pine for a Mont Blanc – one of those expensive hedge fund dude pens that can cost what I pay in rent, but I am not afraid to spend a few bucks for quality.
The sad truth is, my best pen, The Classic Parker, which was a gift, is only used to write checks. I still write a few checks because I often need the snail mail time for the funds to drop. My pen of choice is a Uni-Ball fine. It is my work pen, the pen I buy in bulk, the pen I use to write in my diary, I mean my journal. The work pen is the pen that is mightier than the sword because the work pen is the sword. The fancy pen is the living room you’re not allowed to sit in, that room off the foyer that looks like Liberace was a guest designer.
You get your work done with your work pen, the fancy pen is covered in plastic and useless just like the baroque couch that no one has sat on since Reagan was governor.
That this photo exists in this day and age is a mystery. A shop that hopes you will spend money to eat within its walls tries to entice you with a cheese sandwich on white bread. To be fair the lettuce looks fresh and the fairness ends there. I have the muscle memory of me trying to power down a dry cheese sandwich in the dark of my kitchen after a night out when I had nothing to eat.
This is a photo of a small businessman with low self esteem. It’s like a headshot where the actor didn’t re-book the shoot and has a black eye in the photo. This is a pre-Photoshop hypothetical. Maybe this shot is pre-Photoshop. Today they could photoshop some char marks from a toaster, some turkey hanging over the edge of the bread, maybe a healthy looking pickle across the bottom. Or they could have made an edible sandwich from their menu and taken a decent picture of it. The problem starts on the prep-board. How ’bout the choice of bread?
In fashion, the choices an art director makes affects the finished product. On the set of this shoot no one mentioned a Kaiser roll? Onion Bagel? Focaccia? Multi-Grain? A freakin’ Pita pocket? No. They stood around the table after a guy with a dirty apron, looking like Paulie from Rocky, plunked down the sandwich and said, “There. Now take the picture and bring it to Kinko’s and get back to work, I’m not paying you to play Picasso.”
Sometimes the style over substance ethos is a good thing. The knock on shallow people is that they worry too much about outward appearances, what’s the opposite of that, being deep or looking like you don’t give a shit? Having no style is a cheese sandwich.
We are living in the megaphone era. Every minute activity must be broadcast in all forms of media and in rapid, real time. The assumption being that anyone cares. To be fair some people do care, but most just get mildly pissed off when they absent-mindedly scroll across the fact that you found a Jamba Juice in your neighborhood.
One of the more ubiquitous forms of broadcasting ourselves is the food porn photo. In an earlier post I was critical of the celebrity showcase of homes and this is our version of it. “Hey, look what I’m eating, it’s probably better than what you’re eating.” I hate to say I’ve done it, but it is a mild regret and not a major shame.
The food photo is probably a shot of sushi 80% of the time, it’s artistic, has great color and texture, it’s also expensive so it’s got a flaunt factor. You seldom see a photo of people at a buffet loading up on stuffing and spare ribs, but that might tell a more accurate story.
A video from a little while ago that tells a good story, check the rhyme, y’all.
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