Sunday, September 30, 2012

Football finally grows a hair

Let your freak flag fly, dude!

I don't pay much attention to the NFL. Football seasons come and go, and I am largely oblivious to all the hub-bub and hullaballoo. I have tried, but have found I am unable to watch an entire game all the way through. I acknowledge this is due to some failing on my part. I lack a certain gene that other spectators have, allowing them to feel excitement, while I feel as if my brain is digging, scavenging old radio parts and bed boards to construct a system of tunnels, as in the movie the Great Escape.

So I was not aware that something beautiful has been unfolding on the football field. Namely, the cascading, flowing  tresses of NFL players.

They are growing their hair. They are letting it fall out of their helmets and onto their shoulders. Now THIS is something I could watch!

More typically, football players have been clean-cut. But these guys are hairy. They are hairy noon and night. They are hairy high and low.

Don't ask him why. He don't know. 

A home for fleas. A hive for the buzzing bees. A nest for birds. There ain't no words. 
 For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of their hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
They want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy

Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen

Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied! 

 Their hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it!

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
Their hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair!!! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yes, I'm judging you -- I have a right to. (How I've come to have less guilt, more shoes.)

They say you can't judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. Or a woman --though I'd hasten to add that in order to judge a woman you need to walk two miles, in stilettos.

Well, I have done that. Walked in other women's stilettos, pumps, and sling-backs.  Their boots, loafers, moccasins. As one who shops and wears used footwear, I have walked many many miles in many ladies' shoes. I therefore consider myself to have carte blanche to judge whomever I damn well please. That's the real payoff of buying second-hand!

Freedom to be more judgemental with every mile. 

And remember....a pedometer makes a good accessory!

Here are some actual used shoes owned at one time by actual other people  - and I'm walkin' in them!  

Like new, but these babies have been around the block a few times:

  Still elegant, sure, but boy if these shoes could talk!


This velvet green pump has seen its share of bathroom tile.

This snappy little number wasn't born yesterday!

These didn't just fall off the turnip truck.


These boots were made for walking. Walking and judging! 


  These hurt like the devil but give me license to scorn. 


Hell yes, these were someone else's shoes.
You think I could afford these rich-ass slippers new?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

How the 80s got me hooked on second-hand and vintage.

Soon it will be time to return to the thrift stores.

It’s a fall kind of thing with me. A tradition that began 30 years ago, in 1982.

I was going to college in Lawrence and some friends introduced me to a vintage clothing store downtown. They shopped there ironically, combining Eisenhower-era styling with their post-punk sensibilities, and I was soon trying to doing the same. I had left my small, western Kansas town behind and was eager to hurl convention to the wind, like it was a sun-dried cow patty.

Dressing vintage was fun, because it was a way of embodying the culture of new wave, which seemed to pay homage to the post-war boom period, while also mocking it. MTV was brand new, but many of its videos evoked the past. In the video above, Split Enz, one of my fave 80's bands, sends the lead singer down a two-toned retro staircase into what might be a web of beatniks.

New wave video was also theatrical, sometimes painfully so, when New Romantics like Boy George and Adam Ant sashayed across the screen, dripping eyeliner. And sometimes it was just plain god-awful. But the message was: The siege is over. Disco is dead. At last, it's okay to be weird again.

I had been waiting for this liberation a long time, having been taught, back in my farming community, to hide any latent tendencies towards weirdness, lest it disturb the cattle and throw them off their feed.

 Now that I was free to be eccentric, I embraced vintage clothing, wearing beaded lambswool cardigans that harked from the early 1960's, and dresses that brought to mind Sandra Dee. But one of my best finds was a green wool army jacket that became my winter coat:

Not my every day look. I added the white-face for Halloween.

The way I saw it, shopping vintage was NOT the same thing as shopping for used clothes. It was an act of curation, requiring a level of discernment and good taste that had not been bestowed upon the masses, but rather granted to only a select few, like moi.

If I had any detractors, I dismissed them out of had. Certainly "typical people", which at the time was defined as anyone not in my insular cluster of art and drama school fops, did not have the eye or imagination to appreciate the conceptual wit of my vintage assemblages! Nor did they get that I wasn’t merely wearing “old clothes.”

There was only one problem. The vintage clothing store didn't turn around their inventory very quickly, and I was getting bored, rifling through the same loud polyester print blouses (that even I wouldn't wear) over and over again.

One Saturday close to Halloween, the autumn leaves falling and the wind feeling brisker, my friends and I ventured into the Salvation Army store, seeking costumes, and it was like a world of untold treasures opened up to me. Racks upon racks of cheap-ass clothes that, in the right context, could be made funky. There was a spiky-haired girl trying on hats and sport coats. This was not so she could be a hobo. This was just the way she liked to dress, and the Salvation Army happened to be a great place to find men's cast-off jackets. Browsing the shoe racks, I realized that second-hand could be a helping hand indeed. Where else could I find a pair of metallic gold flats and red pumps for only two dollars a pair?

Back in my small home-town, it would have been considered trashy to haunt Goodwill, but in Lawrence, it was not only acceptable, it was a sign of hipness.

I shopped the Salvation Army store every chance I got, and then some, even skipping out of a drawing class to do so. While the other students were bent over drawing pads, trying to render a precarious stack of cylinders and cubes, I gathered my things and told my instructor I just "couldn't be there." I felt reasonably sure that he, a fellow artist, understood the unpredictability of the artistic temperament. But I wasn't so sure he'd understand if he knew my plan that crisp November morning was to head straight downtown to the Salvation Army store, to see if they had in any new (old) shoes.

Many years have passed, but I still associate a chill in the air with thrift store shopping.

And yes, I still buy used shoes. Believe it or not, you can find some pretty amazing second-hand shoes in bang-spark condition! But NOT at the Salvation Army. You have to know where to look.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, when I take you on a tour of my shoe closet, where you'll see how nifty a thrifty foot can be!

In the meantime, enjoy this bonus video for the Split Enz song "Poor Boy", revealing their history as visual jesters, during which they resembled everything from escapees from a schizoid circus to beserk country-western performers, championing a playfulness that surely inspired many an 80's kid to head straight for the nearest thrift store.