Friday, October 30, 2009

High School Weight

Rebecca had a friend in his mid-forties with awful crows feet and a jowly face who proudly bragged that he could still fit into his high school clothes. The thought of someone keeping their creepy old fashions from the 1970’s is too disgusting to bear. After all, those who forget past fashions are condemned to wear them again, so it’s said. Now that another year has gone by and my birthday is approaching the following changes have occurred in my life:

1. I really like spaced out trip-hop because there’s only so many screaming rock guys I can handle and I’m bored with bad jazz music, so I listen to crazy shit like DJ Spooky’s “Zxero”, DJ Food’s “The Riff”, and Kid Koala’s “Drunk Trumpet”, to name a few.

2. I like wearing makeup, and it’s a bizarre leftover from the glam era from the 1970’s. In fact I miss the whole glam era in general, pre-punk so it was all about love, narcissm, beauty and safety-pin hate wasn’t on the menu just yet. Slade, T. Rex, The Sweet, and Roxy Music called the tune, and it didn’t hurt a bit.

3. Social networking means nothing to me. I still haven’t been on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, or anywhere else. For five minutes I had a momentary lapse of reason and tried to register with Facebook. I had to fill out so many boring questions about myself that I had an anxiety attack and got off as quickly as I tried to get on! I can only go as far as Flick*r (who thankfully don’t care what my favorite food is).

4. Maybe I'm crazy, but I still feel like taking off my clothes and dancing - I refuse to get caught up in the 9/11 A Go Go paranoia set where everything is cause for panic and anxiety. I just don't give a shit. I'm here to tell you that everything's gonna be alright. Because I said so.

Getting old doesn’t bother me a bit but guys going through weird Dorian Gray maneuvers like keeping their old clothes and bragging about fitting in them does. The best thing about being seventeen is getting over it, the same way getting over twenty-seven is epic, too. It’s not the age you’re at but how hot you are living it, and it’s not something you can hang in your fucking closet.

Suggested listening: The Stranglers' "Old Codger Running" (from "Black & White")

Saturday, October 24, 2009

C0un7d0wn to Hall0w33n

The latest trend on the internet is Halloween countdowns, replacing Christmas countdowns by many. The only thing I have to say about this without stating the obvious is that people are more comfortable celebrating ghosts, goblins and jack o’ lanterns than Jesus. I can’t argue there!

Seven more days until Halloween! Pumpkins, black cats, wicthes, ghosts and ghouls!

Rather than buck the trend I’ve added a few classic Halloween images. Seven more days until the blessed/damned event.

Release the bats, release the cats! Out demons out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

James Rosenquist Will Blow Up Your Mind

During my lunch break at work I ducked into MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art) and browsed around and stumbled into a huge book of works by pop art painter James Rosenquist. I was always aware of his work but took it for granted until I picked up this amazing collection. It was quite a find, published by The Guggenheim Press to coincide with a retrospective of his work at The Guggenheim Museum in New York. Although the book is out of print and fetching $120 on eBay it was on sale at MOCA for only $50. The color reproduction of his paintings are absolutely beautiful, some of the best I’ve seen in any art collection. This amazing collection really sealed my appreciation of Rosenquist’s genius.

Many Pop Artists hit their peak in the Sixties and faded by the late Seventies, some compromising their work (Warhol) or simply being redundant (Lichtenstein, Wesselman), but Rosenquist’s work has a brilliant consistency that continues through the decades and shows no signs of tapering off. His paintings are as edgy in the Eighties and Nineties as they did in the swinging Sixties.

While many have praised Williams Burroughs cut-and-paste writing, Rosenquist has accomplished a graphics counterpart to that concept by merging random images to the same painting. In one piece a pair of lovers hands are held while a pile of dishes sits in an adjoining frame. Advertising and consumerism aren’t so much criticized as they are rendered absurd by their dogpile of images, which divests it with a deadpan sense of humor. In another piece, cosmetics are displayed in one frame, a pile of tires sit in another, topped by a frame of a turkey’s head. That one kills me!

James Rosenquist began his career as a billboard artist and applied his background to painting bigger pieces than many of his pop art colleagues. Some of his best paintings go as wide as 17 feet long, so his work comes off as billboards from some insane fever dream. His love for painting has not diminished as snapshots of him working amply demonstrate: he stands alone in front of a billboard-sized canvas, first sketching his draft and then applying paints from jumbo-sized soda pop cups…and there are no assistants in sight! It’s just him and the jumbo-sized canvas, reminiscent of Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson in “The Horse’s Mouth” painting one of his insane murals.

I was very saddened to read in Wikipedia that in April 2009 his Florida estate and two studios filled with many of his works burned in a terrible fire. It makes me sick to think that all that amazing artwork is lost forever, hence the importance of huge art books like this so that we can keep them like dead relatives in a scrapbook. Lost or not, James Rosenquist deserves more of your attention because he’s created the best pop art ever produced.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

G.I. Joe and I

Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols once remarked that “every bloke has a bit of ginger in him” and dammit, he’s right. I get a warm glow in my heart when I apply my light blue eye shadow and work that sweet lip gloss like a cheap dame, but nothing can compete with that guy who stole my heart in my flaming youth. I called him my Joe, but everyone knew him as “G.I. Joe”.

“G.I. Joe” made the scene in the early Sixties and made my pulse pound like crazy until The Beatles came along. He was manufactured by Hasbro Toys from Rhode Island, where I actually lived at the time (1962). In fact, there was a kid in our school named Danny Hassenfeld who we treated like a rock star because his uncles were in fact the Hassenfeld Brothers (hence “Hasbro”).

G.I. Joe was brilliant because finally there was a Barbie doll for boys, if Barbie killed Krauts and drank beer at the local PX. They all had a rugged scar running across their cheek and looked like they could kill Ken in their sleep. It was a major toy-making phenomenon and probably the only important thing to come out of Rhode Island*. When G.I. Joe first started out they confined him to the basic World War Two army soldier model. Once he took off, however, they made a Navy doll, an astronaut doll, a frogman, a Green Beret (topical for the Vietnam War), and then they got foreign on us: there was the British soldier, the bitchen French freedom fighter with beret and black turtle neck sweater (!), and accessories! There was the space capsule complete with 45 rpm record, jeeps, fire trucks, and I made my Dad crazy driving me around to toy stores scoring this junk. I’m surprised he didn’t kill my annoying ass. We even got the enemy G.I. Joes: The Japanese WW II soldiers, the German stormtroopers (I’m sure my father was thrilled to have that shit in his house), and of course the surrendering Italian fascists. No, I made that last one up.

But things got weirder by the day: just for shits and giggles I filled out a Barbie sweepstakes blank at the toy store and quickly forgot about it. When I came home from school my Mom said, “A big parcel came in the mail today for you, Andy”. Kids love parcels, yeah? I won a Francie Dream House and a Twist and Turn Barbie! Shee, yeah! Let me tell you, that TNT Barbie was one happy playgirl, pouting those sweet bee-stung lips of hers as TEN G.I. Joes sat around her serving her by her molded vinyl bed. Even the Nazi was down for it. The sailor might have been watching the astronaut bend over a few times, though. I would pose my studly servicemen around this hot little ingĂ©nue while my transistor radio blared The Kinks, The Turtles and Billy Stewart yodeling “Summertime” like Jackie Wilson on crystal meth. G.I. Joe was the awesomest pal a little boy could ask for. And I haven’t killed anybody.
*Next to me, of course.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Smell Check 2009

Last year I wrote a blog called “Smell Check 2008” describing the testers that came with my GQ Magazines right in time for the Christmas season. Well, it’s two months away from the holiday gift giving season, and already GQ is starting up with loads of testers in their magazines. So here they are, in no particular order of importance, the new stinky stuff for you guys out there:

Gucci by Gucci: The ad shows a slightly more effeminate Johnny Depp circa “69 Jump Street” and smells like bad incense burning in your fireplace. Pass.

Armani Code (Giorgio Armani): Similar to Gaultier with its strong vanilla odor, their slogan is “the ultimate code of seduction for men”. I’ve worn this scent to work from time to time and thankfully haven’t seduced anyone. So, sorry, Giorgio. Disgraciada!

Guess by Marciano: The title that begs for derision. Guess the smell: Lemons? Urine? Carpet cleaner? Do you really want to spend $50 to guess what you just sprayed on yourself?

Givenchy Play: The container looks likes an mp3 player (“Play”, get it?), so not surprisingly the scent is very metallic and dull. Justin Timberlake is pictured in the ad listening to his iPod on an airplane with his website URL blasted in big letters. Talk about confusing advertising!

CK Free (Calvin Klein): Calvin Klein makes great suits. I own a few and love them. He does not make good cologne.

Lacoste Challenge: This sporty fragrance smelled like man-ass, which makes it a sort of homosexual Spanish Fly. Good thing they threw in a free travel bag with each purchase because its going to take a miracle to get my money on this stinker!

Ecko (Mark Ecko): I liked the horny rhino design of the container, but the fragrance smelled like old liquorice.

Only The Brave (Diesel): Shaped like an angry fist coming straight to knock your ass out, this mothersucker has an evergreen meets fruity odor. The ad promises “the warmth and masculinity of lemon and leather”. Holy shit!

Usher VIP: I hate that asshole’s smashed-in face and I wouldn’t buy his crap if it smelled like an angel’s nut sack. Put your hat back on, diva.

Nautica Oceans (Nautica): This one actually smells like an angel’s nut sack, sweet and candy-like. “The new eco-friendly fragrance for men”. Yeah, tell it to the little fishes that have to guzzle this poison when it gets flushed from the factory into the river stream. The next fish you eat will smell like an angel’s nut sack.

Well, the current crop of colognes seem sportier than last year, not as glamorous and more jock-friendly. I think I’ll pass on this year’s bunch and stick with old favorites like John Varvatos and YSL Pour Homme. The old favorites are still the classics. Happy shopping and leave the sporty slop for the Tunnel People.