Blather Fashion Health Making Fun Of People Observations People Pointless Narcissism Pop Culture Rant

On The Corpulence Of Santa Claus and Other Social Problems

My friend Mike, a close friend of my dad’s who later became a close friend of mine, looks like a member of ZZ Top. He’s got a long white beard and a long white ponytail and he rides a Harley. He’s a Harley mechanic, actually.

Due to his natural resemblance to the Jolly One, Mike’s been playing Santa Claus at his church for the past few years. This year, he was asked to ride a motorcycle dressed as Santa for the local Harley Riders chapter’s annual Toys For Tots run–a look that was perfected by the Santa hat sewn on outside his helmet and the dark black ZZ-esque shades he wore. There was a photographer on the run with us, and he took a picture of Santa Mike with a horde of bikes behind him that ended up on the front page of the Calendar section in the local newspaper (I was on the run with another friend, and although we were in the picture–my very bundled-up face and the side of my friend’s helmet–we were so teeny tiny you’d only know it was us if you’d been there). The people who organize the annual arrival of “Santa” on the ferry in Vineyard Haven happened to see the picture, and as their usual Santa had fallen very ill, they called up Mike to see if he’d be willing to do the job. We spoke on the phone several days later.

People are real weird about Santa nowadays, he said. You know in Australia, Santa’s not supposed to say “Ho Ho Ho” because it’s sexist, or degrading to hos, or something. So everyone who plays Santa in Australia is supposed to say “Ha Ha Ha” instead.

And now the Surgeon General says that Santa can’t be fat, Mike said. Apparently it’s misleading to children to present such a positive role model as being obese. So that’s the reason American kids are fat. I always thought it was the fact that there’s a fast food restaurant on every corner and a big screen TV with 500 channels in every living room in the country. Boy was I wrong.

First there were the worries about inappropriate touching (“Okay kiddo, I hope you’ve got good balance because I can’t put my hand on your back to hold you up, I might get arrested”). Then there was the trouble with Hos in Australia (“G’day, Little Dibbie. What’s that? You wunt a paony? Ha Ha Ha!”). Now, Santa’s not even allowed to be round. What’s next, PETA claiming that it’s unethical for Santa to use reindeer to drive his sleigh, or the American Association of Little People protesting the use of the term “elf”?

This is an imaginary character, people. An imaginary big fat man in a fuzzy white suit, who smokes a pipe (or at least he used to when I was a kid, I’m sure the pipe was nixed sometime in the 90s) and rides around the entire world in the span of 24 hours, managing to climb down the chimneys of 6 billion houses–a character sketch which completely explains why most people cease to believe he exists by the age of five. So what’s the big deal? Isn’t there something more important the Surgeon General could be worrying about?

Leave Santa alone, for fuck’s sake. And if someone is willing to put on a terrible, itchy, silly-looking suit for three hours and play pretend so that a bunch of kids can pee on him and yank his beard and spit in his face and walk away convinced that Christmas is something to look forward to, then damn it, leave that person alone, too. We’re raising such a cynical, superficial generation of kids that Santa Claus will probably be obsolete in ten years anyway.

Besides, a skinny Santa would be really, really creepy.

Blather Fashion Making Fun Of People Observations People Pop Culture Rant

A Random And Unprovoked Attack On Contemporary Fashion

I have been reading a lot of Chuck Klosterman lately. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Klosterman’s writing, he’s a pop culture and music writer (critic, sort of) with a consistent ability to both esteem and make fun of almost everybody, including himself. I have also been doing quite a bit of traveling between Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, and have been routine witness to some of the most ridiculous fashion trends since Hypercolor.

With that in mind, I took the hour-plus I spent on the subway this afternoon to compile a list of some of the most bothersome developments in recent fashion:

    Five Trends That I Loathe.

5. Diaper Bag Chic

What I’m referring to is the cadre of supposedly stylish women who cart around purses (and if they’re traveling, duffel bags) made of brightly-patterned quilted material, the likes of which were, until recently, reserved for the transportation of Pampers, Similac and the occasional Nuk.

These bags are ugly, tacky, functionally useless in the realm of stuff-protection (as far as I know; they could have Kevlar innards for all I know, I’ve never gotten that close), and tend to get grubby rather quickly. And did I mention that they’re ugly?

4. Overly Tanned White Person Skin

We all know that most people, particularly white people like myself, look healthier and more attractive if they’ve got a tan. This is because tan skin hides many blemishes, goes better with more colors of clothing than “pasty” does, and masks the appearance of bodily flaws such as cellulite, wrinkles and spider-veins. It is also because the Vitamin D absorbed from sun exposure makes you actually healthier, bot just apparently so (everything in moderation, though, of course).

As long as I have been alive, it’s been considered attractive to be tan. It seems, however, that recently a number of young American women (and perhaps foreign women as well) have fallen prey to the predominantly Floridian and Las Vegan belief that “tanner is better.” As evidenced by the legions of crocodilian grandmas in Naples, this is not true.

Of course, unlike many of the melanomic grannies, the young girls have been warned by their moms that too much sun is bad, so they’re getting tan without sun. This is unnatural, and results in a sickly orange color that is apparently so prevalent now that cosmetics companies are producing foundation to match it. These girls don’t look sexy, they look like aliens. I wish someone would tell them.

3. White Trash Hipster

I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I dislike the “hipster” fashion enough that I routinely declare it to be an actual allergy. I believe people should bathe regularly, and I believe that if people have bathed, they should appear clean (sorry, Bumble & Bumble), and not as though they may be harboring Scabies. I think the donning of more than one belt at a time, no matter how cool the belt, is both hideously impractical and, well, stupid-looking. We are humans, after all, not armadilloes. This, along with the leggings-and-miniskirts fad (which went out with Madonna’s cone-tit bra if I’m not mistaken) makes the majority of hipsters appear as though they’ve been dressed by enthusiastic five-year-olds (1). This is not cool, or sexy, regardless of what the girl in the hot-pink skull Keds might tell you (the girl who wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing anything with a skull on it until they became incredibly trendy in 2005).

But what is even less cool, and less sexy, is the recently-championed “white trash” aesthetic.

Trucker hats. “Wife beaters.” Mullets. Flannel shirts with the sleeves ripped off. Big, blocky Converse sneakers with the tongues hanging out. Ripped fishnet stockings and visible neon bras. Drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) or Schlitz beer (2).

Yes, there is a portion of America which does all of these things simply because it doesn’t know better (or is too broke to do anything else, or is unaware that 1987 was twenty years ago). To consciously mock a rather unheralded group of Americans (and Canadians) by dressing like them, often to a ridiculously exaggerated degree, is not clever or ironic. It’s stupid, and it’s rude. And from what I’ve seen in stores, it’s goddamn expensive. Paying $40 in New York for a plastic and polyester hat that you could get for three bucks in Arkansas–that’s about as bright (and cool) as picking up an ice cream cone off the sidewalk and eating it.

2. Urban Camouflage

Traditional “camo” is ugly, and clashes with every color except brown, olive drab “O.D.” green, and black (3). This is because, according to its intended purpose, it’s not supposed to be worn with colors. Camo is intended to be worn while hiding in vegetation with the express purpose of a) killing something before it notices you’re there or b) avoiding being killed by going unnoticed.

With that in mind, I cannot think of a single reason that “Urban Camouflage” was created. Not only does it look ugly, and clash with everything (4), the odds of Urban Camo making you invisible in an urban setting and thereby protecting you are ridiculously slim. I’d say they’re about equal to the odds of the FBI discovering that the Zodiac Killer was a friendly church marm from Kansas (5).

In my opinion, Urban Camo, due to its sheer hideousness, transforms its wearer instantly into a walking target. If you wear it, you’re pretty much asking for someone to shoot you on principle (6).

1. Frye (or other, knockoff brand) Harness Boots

Don’t read me wrong on this one–I love Frye boots. I love them with a passion only Imelda Marcos ever felt for footwear. I have a pair in red-brown, and I wear them as often as weather (7) or activity (8) will permit. When I become rich and shameless, I’ll buy a pair in every color but yellow.

What I don’t love about the harness boot trend is the “trend” part. Some displaced stylist happened upon a hot girl in Fryes on a ranch somewhere in Montana about two years ago, and all of a sudden Lindsay Lohan’s rented a room at the Chateau Marmont (9) to house her collection. “Fashionable” college students are wearing them with miniskirts, leggings and trucker hats while swigging PBR at frat parties. It’s downright sacreligious.

I’ve been wearing harness boots since I was seventeen (10) and worked in a motorcycle shop, right around the time that Paris Hilton was learning how to read (in the eighth grade). I wore them despite the fact that the prevailing fashion idioms at the the time dicatated that my footwear was clunky, mannish and tough.

I liken the appropriation of my beloved boots by “them” to the proliferation of bandwagon Red Sox fans after the Series win in 2004. You can say you’ve always loved them, but I’ll never believe you.

1. I forgot to mention the neon-yellow “pumps,” which further solidify this theory.
2. Doing this because of poverty is entirely different than doing it for fashion.
3. Debatable. Despite the proliferation of this combo among metalhead circles, I still think it looks awful. I’ve sported it before, I should know.
4. I’m also convinced that Camo, in all its variations, makes everyone look fatter. Even Mary-Kate Olsen and Kate Moss.
5. Which is to say it’s possible, but I’d say the smarter money would be on Britney Spears going to college. Ever.
6. This is also true of anything in the color “chartreuse.”
7. Frye boots in 80 degree weather is as stupid as Ugg Boots with miniskirts, a trend which is so idiotic that it’s not worthy of a full paragraph of ranting.
8. I’d rather have my toenails ripped out than waitress in Fryes ever again.
9. Somewhat reputable sources have claimed that Lohan keeps a room at the Marmont for her clothing.
10. Just so you don’t get the mistaken idea that I am in any way fashionable, I still own a pair of Corcoran military jump boots that are held together with a mish-mash of hockey tape and duct tape, and I love them. I have also been told, on numerous occasions and even by my own father, that I dress like a 14 year old boy, and we all know that most 14 year old boys are as dumb as garden gnomes.