Category Archives: Pop culture

Turban Power

Ah, the end of the year. Time to get serious, to reflect on the tragedies, triumphs, mistakes, missed opportunities, and lessons we’ve learned over the past 12 months. But what can really sum up a monumental year like good ol’ 2010? One thing, babies: Turbans.

I recently had a pretty huge lifestyle-validating breakthrough after reading this article in The New York Times. Yes! Turbans! Back in style! (As if they could ever be out of style.) Finally, our favorite unfit mother

can be vicariously brought to life through you, me, June Ambrose, and Catherine Baba:

And we can all find new hope as we aspire to Garbo greatness, since the Garbo in a turban look

is much more practical and easily attainable than the Garbo burrito

Seriously though, this article is fantastic for several reasons, listed here in order of ascending interest:

First of all, it directs viewers to the Glamourai’s tie-your-own-turban tutorial, thus introducing them to the awesomeness of said fashion warrior AND turning every scarf 30″ x 30″ and larger into a turbantacular wonderland. I’ve recently become obsessed with the tie-your-own-turban after realizing that, contrary to Oliver’s claim, the turban is actually perfect for covering uncooperative hair. In fact, I didn’t wash or cut my hair for over a month after I read this article. Really. I’m that gross. But the turban is so powerfully fabulous, no one even noticed.

Appropriately, I publicly debuted this look at the birthday of The Schmick, (Half)Prince of Persia, future father of my children, and King of my heart:

Let’s get a close-up of that one:

And, while we’re at it, let’s take a look at The Schmick himself, back in 2008, rocking the first turban I ever bought:

That, right there, is my past, present, and future. What a guy.

Anyway, this brings me to the second point of interest I found in Oliver’s article: the debate as to whether or not the turban trend is specifically linked to the conflict in the Middle East, or, more generally, whether we internalize social, political, and/or cultural influences that then manifest in the way we dress. This one should be a no brainer. I wouldn’t go as far as June Ambrose does by saying that wearing a turban is a political statement (I will, however, say that that woman has the sweetest job on earth. I mean, she gets to physically put pants on Jay-Z), but I also find it unlikely that, as Harold Koda suggests, modern turban wearers are very influenced by the fin-de-siècle designer Paul Poiret or his view of Orientalism, albeit subliminally. Even if they were, why are we looking toward “a sense of the other that is visually compelling” at this very moment? It’s hard to believe that this particular trend is experiencing a resurgence at this particular moment in time, completely unrelated to any world issues or the current state of complete media saturation otherwise known as our lives.

So it’s not necessarily an overtly political statement, a call for peace in the Middle East, a show of solidarity to our downtrodden Arabian sisters, or a specific homage to the late greats of fashion. It may be, but not necessarily. What it is, certainly, is an artistic statement. That’s right. Getting dressed, choosing how you want to present yourself to the world, is an act of artistic expression. Ever heard the phrase “fashion statement”? As individuals, we all internalize different aspects of our lives, then we channel those influences into some kind of artistic expression. It’s how we stay sane. Music, writing, painting, drawing, dancing, acting, singing, building, designing, playing, strategizing, etc, etc, etc. Among these, getting dressed is probably one of the most common, and the most looked-down-upon. Why? Because it will never make you rich, it will never earn you more than the most fleeting, superficial respect, it doesn’t reflect the human condition or save lives or win awards beyond the odd high school superlative. It takes very little training to become good at it, and anyone can, and in fact everyone does, do it. It’s materialistic, capitalistic (eek!), and utterly meaningless. No one wants to hear you talk about what you wore except your vapid girlfriends, and many people under the impression that every day fashion and style cannot be analyzed in any way other than comically (btdubs, it’s a sad state of affairs when humor is not equated with substance).

This is unfortunate. Because getting dressed, really putting effort into it, and looking good, can also make you feel really, really good. It’s just like any other art and you get the opportunity to do it every single day. You’re not going to win a Nobel Peace prize or start a revolution, but the highs are still very high. Remember how you felt that last time you knew you looked good? Or the last time someone complimented you on your style? You’re also unlikely to be pushed to the brink of suicide by the demons swimming in your head, but the lows are still very low. Remember how it felt the last time you felt like you had nothing to wear? Or how your bank account felt last time you bought something awesome?

Once again, I digress, and must find my way back to point of interest number three. It takes confidence to wear a turban. True, perhaps, it may take a little verve to strut the streets of your small suburban town on a Wednesday afternoon wearing the pinkish-flesh colored Patricia Fields turban your best friend bought you two Christmases ago.

But it’s also a surprisingly effective way to build confidence. Not just a turban, but any equivalently gutsy-fabulous, subliminally substantial item. How do they do this? Are they like magic carpets? Will they make you the most powerful sorcerer in the world, with phenomenal cosmic powers and itty bitty living space? No doofus. They’ll make you look awesome, and I assure you, the confidence pendulum swings both ways. Lauralou, pictured here not turbaned, but still madly hatted,

who’s seen me through some especially dark times, once came home to find me sitting on the couch, wearing grey sweatpants and a(n almost matching) grey shirt. Seeing me in what was obviously a rock bottom moment, she tough loved me out of my misery by informing me that I was “really depressing” her and ordering me out of my drab, slubby attire, which was really only making it worse for both of us.

One of the greatest things I’ve learned from that moment, from writing this little blog, and over this past year in general, after months and months of Holocaust, heart attacks, hospitals, heart break, heart ache, homelessness, hopelessness, and even the frantic, dizzying highs, often characterized by a desperation even more hopeless than the hellish lows, is that no matter how bad I feel, at least I can always look good. Even in the depressive throes of unemployed boredom, I can always wear a turban. It may not work for everyone, but it’s worked for me. So turban, I tip yourself to you (get it?) and humbly thank you for doing your part in keeping me alive.

So for the New Year, wear something grand, something inspired, something that takes a little courage, enjoy the reactions you get (even the negative), and see how it makes you feel. And above all, stay awesome.

Happy New Year!

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You Can Lead a Horticulture, But You Can’t Make Her Think

So as the job hunt draws close to three months, what with the economy and all, one begins to give up on life. I mean, you know you’re losing it when you begin to describe your writing goals as a quest for “general awesomeness” and start signing your cover letters
MORTAL KOMBAT!,
Kim Daly

Clearly a shift in strategy was needed and, as I am what I am, I started with new interview attire. Why? Well, let’s take a look at what I was working with: 

In the grand tradition of getting by with a little help from my friends, I took heart when, in discussing professionally appropriate skirt length post-interview one afternoon, Ariel replied with an emphatic “THAT’S the skirt you wore?” when I indicated the garment pictured above. My eyes were further opened later that night, when I explained to another friend that when going on interviews, I did in fact wear stemmed stockings with my 4-inch patent leather Mary-Jane pumps:

Upon showing these items to said friend, I was rather creepily informed that “that’s hot.” Perhaps not exactly what I was going for.

This scenario really alerted me to the dangers of narrative fashion. It seems in planning my professional attire, I confused Tess McGill, Melanie Griffith’s character in Working Girl,

with V, Melanie Griffith’s character in the 1994 smash hit Milk Money,

Oh, you though I was gonna say Loretta, Melanie Griffith’s character in Fear City, didn’t you?

Because of your intimate familiarity with Melanie Griffith’s oeuvre? Seriously though, Billy Dee Williams IS the man. Can you believe the cool on that guy?

As usual, I digress. But I think I got back on track with the new professional wear:

Not too bad. The skirt’s a bit longer, the heels a bit lower. Oh, and the top isn’t transparent white silk. That too.

Anyway, on account of this whole ordeal, it’s been brought to my attention just how much my wardrobe is inspired by strippers and prostitutes. So much that I find myself encouraging those I love to enrich their own outfits with sex-worker-inspired narratives. Case in point:

Ariel’s 1970’s Las Vegas stripper/single mother on her day off, late for picking her son up from school, which further developed into

1970’s Las Vegas stripper/single mom at her first PTA meeting, eager to prove herself to the other moms, who are mostly snotty, skeptical housewives and haughty, cynical women with more “respectable” careers. Wait, let’s get one more:

She’s comfortable with her body and sexuality, but unsure of her worth as a mother and role model! Man, these action shots are priceless. That, my friends, is a classically trained actress right there. Thanks Ari.

I also went digging through my archives a bit and found this little number:

Clearly inspired, in a muted and not nearly as awesome way, by Jodie Foster’s breakthrough role (unless you count the original Freaky Friday. But why would you do that?) as 12-year old prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver:

Isn’t she great?

Actually, I imagine that getting a job will be a lot like that most clichéd of sex worker films, Pretty Woman. For example, if/when a potential employer makes an offer, I’m almost positive it will be like the famous necklace scene:

Except instead of a necklace, Richard Gere (potential employer…or Richard Gere, at this point I’m not really picky) will offer me a plentiful salary. And instead of laughing maniacally, I’ll weep with tears of gratitude and shout “Dear God, it’s finally over!!” to the sweet, sweet heavens. 

I’m also pretty sure the general experience of being employed will be a lot like the last scene of the movie:

That’s right Richard Gere/Potential Employer, I’m gonna save you right back with my attention to detail and “general awesomeness.”

Maybe I’m looking for the wrong kind of job…

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I’m Turning Into a Hobo-Chic Superstar

If you do a quick review of We Look Awesome, it becomes pretty apparent that at heart I’m really just an overweight middle-aged gay man who lives with his mother (or at least calls her everyday). Seriously, I’m a bit more obsessed with Patrick Swayze and The Golden Girls than the average 25 year-old female, no? Speaking of, let’s take a look back at a photo from last week’s post:

and reflect on how much I look like Rue McClanahan in it:

Point made? Yeah, I thought so.

Anyway, despite the fact that my outward awesomeness belies the sad truth inside, I do occasionally get opportunities to do really cool things (however limited due to living in the suburbs…but that’s only temporary…RIGHT????).

So though some might think it’s a tad pathetic that I only got to see two bands at CMJ, I’m gonna file it under “better than nothing” in the interest of acting my age, gender, and sexual orientation.

I’ll start with a note on the second band, Fan Tan. I can’t really think of a better description of these guys than the one found in the CMJ edition of The Deli Magazine, which explains the “wish we were in a massive rainstorm and there was a camera shooting down on us from a crane, because then we could outstretch our hands and lift them high to [the] heavens while shouting a roar that’s equal parts joy and pain” that their music evokes. Seeing these guys definitly made me feel like Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption:

but replace the prison with Williamsburg, the rapists with that bartender who wouldn’t give us free steak and eggs (I TRUSTED YOU!), and Morgan Freeman with a group of enjoyably intense and talented musicians. Yeah, that probably works.

And now for my faves:

I’m Turning Into!! Aren’t they colorful and the best? Don’t they defy gravity?

To describe these guys, I’ll steal another quote, this time from fellow CMJ performer and Tayisha Busay glitter girl Ariel Sims, who aptly said, “I swear to God, I have not met a more irresponsible bunch of guys than I’m Turning Into”. As such, about four months ago I asked these guys to send me some pictures and quotes best capturing their awesomeness and they never did, forcing me to put them on the spot right after their show.

Still, I think the boys represented themselve pretty accurately.

Edd Chittenden (left) called his style “cut offs and hobo wear with bright colors”. Steve Tarkington (right) said he chooses his clothes “based on what I wore the day before” and told me the inspiration for that day’s outfit was that he’d “been wearing these clothes for a while”. And Jhon Grewell (center) said “I wear clothes that look like my girlfriend’s clothes, but they’re not, because I don’t have a girlfriend”, to which he added “(wink)”.

Basically, the raging irresponsibility and general homeless rainbow aesthetic of I’m Turning Into all mesh serendipidously to one overwhelming effect: these guys are a ton of fun, and it reflects in their music and performance. Check it out (my apologies for the poor video quality…I was using an emptied falafal bag as a tripod):

And check them out here www.myspace.com/imturninginto, and here www.twitter.com/imturninginto, and here too www.imturninginto.bandcamp.com. Because isn’t fun great?

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An Ode to Transition

Two months! Did you miss me?? After being too stressed from writing about trauma, then being too stressed because I’m going through trauma (yeah, that’s right, I just made a vague reference to my personal life. Whatcha gonna do?), I decided to suck it up a bit. I mean I can’t keep coasting on search engine hits forever, you know? “Magical land of alakazem,” “stewardess fucking pilot,” and “white big butt thick thighs” (has ever a phrase descibed me better?) just aren’t enough to get me to the top.

So I decided to turn my frown upside down for a minute and write a little ode to this transitionary period in my life. Because one day, when I’m Senior Executive Editor at Really Important Publishing Co., I want to look back at this time and laugh in a way that is perhaps a bit too maniacal and over the top.

But first, the cold hard facts. That’s right everyone, your (and my) worst fears have come true. I am a waitress with a master’s degree. Serving up your morning coffee with a side of rhetoric, and a pinch of regret. But hey, there have been awesome waitresses before, right? And the cafe I work at is super cute, despite the fact that my uniform consists of a t-shirt (gross!) and JEANS (GROSSER!!). They do allow me to wear my little do-rags though, so I work it.

That’s right, red hair: an indicator of pre-transition times. Oh [nominally]      happ[ier] days, how I miss you so[-so]!!

Now before I proceed, I should make it clear that I in no way look down on waitressing or waitresses. In fact, if you’ve ever had one, you’ll know that there is nothing better than a professional waitress. However, there’s also nothing worse than being a waitress when you really don’t want to be. Although, I imagine this is true of any profession. It probably also really sucks if you’re a brain surgeon but you really want to be a tap dancer. I once had a nurse who said he was really a DJ. I mean, as his patient, that was just scary.

On that note, let’s take a look at some awesome waitresses. Like Dawn from Season 1 of True Blood:

Yeah, that’s right, I watch True Blood. So what if it’s not cool? It makes me happy. I deserve to be happy. I don’t have to defend myself to you. But why Dawn, you ask? Two words: nice ass (not pictured here).

Or Shelly from Twin Peaks (maybe I could get away with wearing that hat):

Why Shelly? Because her husband beat her with a sock full of soap bars! Come on, I’m obvs a trauma junkie. I eat that shit up.

But the be all end all of cute waitressness? The one and only Sarah Connor, before she became the mother of the future leader of the free world (You cannot prevent judgment day. You can only postpone it.):

Grad school did not prepare me for this. But this whole situation is only temporary, right? RIGHT????

In other news, it’s Dollar Bill’s birthday today!! Happy 61st Dad, and get well sooner. In the meantime, I’ll post embarassing photos of you on the interwebs (left, circa 1955ish):

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, high-waisted pants DO run in my family.

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The Great Legging Debate

All right bitches. I’m here to settle this once and for all. Why is it ok to wear leggings “as pants”? BECAUSE AUDREY HEPBURN DID IT.

And she’s awesome. Duh.

So next time you want to rag on someone for carrying out this practice, ask yourself:

1) Do I want to rag on someone for doing something Audrey Hepburn did, thus implying that Audrey Hepburn herself might not have been awesome?

2) Do I really give a shit what other people are wearing when I myself look so awesome? Shouldn’t I be concentrating on my own awesomeness?

Can’t we all just get along?

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Hold me closer, Tony Danza. Featuring the Body of Christ!

Sometimes these things work backwards. Sometimes you put something on and you need to unpack the subliminal influences that inspired it. Why? Because you’re me and you have nothing better to do than overanalyze the shit you wear. Duh. Take this little number, one of my recent faves:

I couldn’t really get a good picture of it, now that Lauraloo, my primary photographer, has gone off to the fruit farm. In her absence, I’m experimenting with new angles like bird’s eye view:

and this one depicting me as I pay my respects at the clothes chair, where outfits go to die:

Aaaaanyway, this lacy white concoction made me think of that scene from She’s Out of Control, the 1989 comedy starring TV zensation Tony Danza as a father who is cursed with a really, really hot daughter. You know the scene right? Because all of you have seen this movie? It’s taught in most post-WWII American film courses. Haven’t any of you ever taken a film class???

Seriously though, it’s actually a piece of crap, except for this one scene where Tony Danza comes home from his business trip to find his newly hot and dateable daughter (makeover montage!!!!) walking down the stairs in slow motion to Frankie Avalon singing “Venus”. Check it out at 4:01-4:45 on this clip (but don’t watch the rest…it WILL ruin your life):

Hot right? Come on girls, don’t act like you don’t ALWAYS wear exclusively white outfits on all of your first dates.

Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that my all white experiment was shockingly similar to the dress I wore at my first communion. Oh, first communion, when little girls get to wear mini wedding dresses while consuming the body of Christ for the first time…a preparation for one’s wedding night in so many ways.

And who could forget the 1992 first communion fashions? So poofy and over the top with their puffed shoulders and full tulle skirts. I, however, opted for a simpler silhouette with a chic lace overlay for that fateful day, throughout which I acted out the aforementioned scene many, many times.

The moral of this story is two fold. Little girls don’t often get to wear their first communion dresses twice, but if you pick the right one, it will inspire them to look awesome well into their twenties. And as anyone who remembers Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2007 Couture collection knows  (check it out! http://nymag.com/fashion/fashionshows/2007/spring/main/europe/couturerunway/jeanpaulgaultier/), Jesus’s crew got great style.

(Thanks for the pics Ali-Z, you look awesome!).

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Hair today, gone tomorrow.

Oh man. First of all, I love cliches and I’ve been waiting my whole life to use that one. MY WHOLE LIFE. So thanks for experiencing this moment with me. It’s really special.

Basically, I know it’s time for a drastic hair change when a) Montreal gets so hot that I actually develop anemia (note to Montreal, it’s called air conditioning, and they don’t have it in France because it’s generally temperate there. P.S. – You are not France. P.P.S. – I love you, let’s not fight.) and 2) I start doing this mormon-y bangs/bump/braid get-up that very closely resembles Adaleen Grant, Mary Kay Place’s character from Big Love

Check it:

Clearly this is weird and unacceptable. So what do I do? Naturally, I channel the endlessly lovely Michelle Williams

and the infinitely awesome Demi Moore a la Ghost

I kiss phantom Patrick Swayze, for luck

and presto chango alakazam:

It may look like a haircut, but it’s really more like magic (note how the computer on the table turned into a cat. This is a common side effect of the trick).

It all reminds me of that old saying “you can’t take the rusty penis when you leave, but you can always take the diplomat.”

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Let them look awesome!

Of all the years that make up the history of history, I’d have to put 1789 near the top of my faves list. Well I wouldn’t be forced to or anything…I would do it of my own free will. Why? What happened in 1789? Ummm, only the best French revolution ever. I’ll never be entirely sure why I am so obsessed by this particular historical event. Maybe it’s the really, really rich people being guillotined. Maybe it’s the equal-opportunity guillotining that followed (equality rocks!). Maybe it’s the lovely lady who welcomes the tired, poor, huddled masses as a constant reminder that there was a single moment in history when France was like “hey US, thanks for being awesome and inspiring us to have a revolution.” Or maybe it’s just that handsome devil,

Maximilien Robespierre. I mean, you’ve got to admit, for a bat-shit crazy fucker, the guy was sort of a fox. You know, before he got shot in the face over that little festival-of-the-supreme-being-walking-down-a-man-made-mountain- dressed-in-all-white-like-he’s-the-second-coming-of-freakin-MOSES incident. Seriously, the French can be so UPPITY sometimes.

Although I do also find his Jacobian successor Georges Jacques Danton sort of sexy too, in a Daniel Craig sort of way…

Anyway, last time I checked this site was supposed to be about style, not the possible do-ability of 18th-century French revolutionaries. But let me know what you think, some people might actually like this approach better.

I digress. I realized recently (and yes, it always takes me an unusually long time to make connections like this) that because of my affinity for this event, I’ve always been especially attracted to garments with a toile de jouy print. You know those cute little French country scenes? Well they originated around the same time as my favorite revolution…probably just before, because whoever designed the pattern was most likely guillotined during the reign of terror for being complicit in Marie-Antoinette’s blind dedication to fashion (seriously bitch, you should have sent some of that brioche out to those starving peasants. Sweet wig though).

Like I said, it’s always a joy to find something in this pattern, especially since it’s usually only used on curtains and teacups…both of which are generally unwearable. Here is what I’ve been able to get my hands on over the years:

#1 The Shirt:

#2 The Dress:

#3 The Jumper:

(recognize that jacket? Yeah, you do. It’s the best!)

Also awesome? These Tom of Finland sheets from the 2006 Dirty Linens Collection:

Gaylorious revolution.

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(S)he’s a yankee doodle dandy!

The best thing about being an ex-pat on the 4th of July? Even though Canadians generally forgo spending massive sums on firework/parade celebrations – opting instead for a more consistent, less bi-polar day-to-day quality of life – since it’s not a national holiday up here, I get to wear over-the-top, Americana-inspired outfits without looking like a total patriotic weirdo. I do this at home too, but here it’s a little less ridiculous. And those rare occasions when I get to be a little less ridiculous are always refreshing.

#1 – The American Airlines stewardess (inspired by KG…who’s not a stewardess. Still, it’s a sweet title, and I stand by it):

#2 – The French American (stripes sans stars):

aaaaand #3 – Daisy Duke goes to the office (featuring Mexican Lucy on the left, and sad Liza Liza on the right, freshly abortioned):

So while y’all enjoyed fireworks, BBQs, and strawberry-blueberry shortcake, I had my own fun with the red, white, and blue. Land that I love…one day we’ll be stressfully and spectacularly together again.

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You’re pretty in your own way (featuring Jennifer Grey and Beyonce).

Two weeks! Did you miss me? I hope so. Upon the recommendation of an especially Foxy lady, I’ve got some outfits inspired by Jennifer Grey’s top two characters from the 80s. BUT FIRST, some things about Jennifer Grey, and her most iconic roles, that should be noted:

1)For some reason, in both Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Dirty Dancing (1987), Grey’s characters have two names, Jeanie/Shauna and Baby/Frances, respectively. Noteworthy? I’d say so.

2)At the height of her career, Jennifer Grey got an ill-advised nose job, which left her (arguably) more conventionally pretty, but nearly unrecognizable as her beloved, already famous bird-faced self. Just imagine, if this all went down today, this unnecessary procedure might have made her MORE popular, a la every 20-something bitch getting cheek implants, breast augmentation, collagen injections, botox, etc. Social commentary? Check.

That said, let’s get to the awesomeness.

First, Jeanie:

which I interpreted as:

While we’re on this, you might as well check out the police station scene with Charlie Sheen:

Classic. Now, while you’re watching clips, check out this one from Dirty Dancing, which details Baby’s transformation from an awkward teenager into a graceful woman through the power of dance and tenor sax solos. Something fairly akin to this happened to me over the course of ten years:

And here is me lamely reenacting the bridge scene from the “Wipeout” montage:

Aaah Baby, who could not be put in a corner, how your knee length cutoffs inspire me. So much that I made a second pair:

They make me feel like Beyonce

because I have thick thighs, which according to this picture from Coachella, can be damn sexy. And because my man packs heat like he’s the oven door. OBVS.

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