Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The fine line between trendsetting and looking plain silly

It is the 2009 fall season, you wear $300 destroyed Japanese selvedge jeans, a buttoned-up chambray shirt, constructed –one size too small– herringbone jacket, vintage hat, distressed work boots, and didn't shave in three days: you are "IN", but if you are caught wearing the same outfit in 1929 you would only be taken for an ex-convict or a hobo, or both.
Now imagine yourself wearing 70's low hip bell-bottom pants and a poly-cotton t-shirt with some faded graphic like Charlie's Angels, Atari, Seven Up or John Deere's logo... in 1995! Do you think you are five years ahead of the curve? Will your friends think you are original or inventive? A trend-setter? No, you just look weird and maybe stupid.
2007, you wear a tight suit with a narrow lapel, one inch tie and slim pants showing two inches of socks (even better sans socks), you are cool, but if you do that in the 80's, you are Pee Wee Herman, and look funny... and pathetic. If you dress like the 80's in the 90's, you don't get it, if you do it in 2009, you do. (Remember those awful oversized glasses, shapped like old tv screens, that touched your cheeks when you smiled, they have been back for a while, as well as the gaudy sneakers with velcro in the ankles, the colorful leggings, the t-shirt dress, the silver leather belt... go figure skating!)
I like to think I am open minded in general, but there are things in fashion that still puzzle me. For example I'm not sure where "saggin' pants" falls, is it still "IN" or already "OUT"? What I know is that wearing jeans below your cheeks is not very practical, at least for the real thugs: not long ago a suspect on the run trampled on his own pants when these dropped to his knees, with the result of being caught by the police after being shot in the rear. The cops, the paramedics, the judge, the jury, even the fellow inmates in his prison block, are still laughing, understandably.
Being fashionable is all about timing. But if you are like me, the kind of person that is never sure when to clap at a classical music concert, maybe it's better if you give up trying to set trends too early or with references so obscure that nobody can actually place them. Stop trying to be creative and go with the wave. Keep and ear and and eye open and wear the fashionable clothing when it hits the stores, still warm from the factories of China. Be an enthusiastic early adopter. People will recognize and admire your fashion sense.
There is a fine line between being a trendsetter and looking plain silly, stay on it, like a tightroper of style.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Abolition of Success

Let's face it, success is overrated.
OK, now that I am at it: success (or rather the lack of it) poisons our lives, keeps us awake at night –sweating with anxiety– and it's the number one reason for misery, sadness and depression. Success is elitist, exclusive, elusive, expensive... Ironically, it seems easy to those that achieve it, and for some even more ironic reason it looks easier yet, to those that don't. But it is not! Success lures you to the blinding brightness like a lightbulb attracts a moth, just to keep you hitting the burning glass surface over and over, and over again, until your delicate tissue-thin wings are toasted and your god-given multi-lensed eyes are fritters.
Adding insult to injury, some people are succeeding at younger ages than ever. "Talent" they call it, "B.S." I call it (either that, luck or independent wealth, sometimes all of them rolled into one), which not only makes me seem more of a failure, but also makes me look older, poor and unlucky.
What I find interesting is that I can't really say I failed at anything yet. I'm not sure why, perhaps it is for lack of accomplishments. Who knows. On the contrary, I think I'm not bad at what I do, although, obviously not good enough.
No, my problem is that I know too many successful people, and I would bet my right pinky, if I could, that that's your problem too! (can't bet my left one either, because I already lost that finger sometime ago, but that's another story). Thus, my/your/our problem is not really caused by any failure on our part, but by the indiscriminate success of the others. Like Einstein said once to his second wife-to-be Elsa*, "It's all relative".
But despair no more! I have been giving some thought to this important issue and I found the solution. A solution so simple and elegant that you wonder why successful people never came to think of it first.
Here it goes: when I get appointed "Generalissimo", the first law I'll sign into order will be to abolish success, a "decree", I think it's called in legalese. Easy! Isn't? No more envy, no more disappointment, no more cutthroat competition. Once we are all surrounded by mediocrity, everybody will start looking better (or put it this way: nobody will look worst than anybody else), the humankind will be happier.
People then will appreciate my contribution to the betterment of life in this planet, and I would have finally succeeded at something, it will be my claim to fame. Of course, I would make no fuss about it.

(Elsa and Albert where first cousins on his mother's side and second cousins on his father's side)