November 25, 2002

Too long between updates.

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Too long between updates. Apologies.

Arlene is in town, and we’ve spent a good part of our waking
day downtown, getting a bite in the market and shopping for a
few things. This “shopping” process perplexes me, especially
around Christmas. Christmas gifts, if I read the manual right,
are supposed to be “heartfelt”. Whatever that means; if you give
somebody a nice new shirt, do you feel deep in your heart that
their current ensemble is sincerely inadequate? What if you
give somebody a book?

This is going somewhere. Bear with me.

Fashion has never really concerned me all that much, but what
is currently fashionable does bother me. Apparently it is now
trendy to buy clothes that look like they are thoroughly worn in,
“lived in” as it were. On our trip through the Rideau Centre I
discovered that this has gotten to the point that can buy ball
caps that are pre-ripped at the brims and jeans which have had the
upper front area one might wipe one’s belabored hands on pre-faded.
Pants are now pre-abraded around the seams, to provide one with
that coveted non-new appearance for which one pays, of course,
approximately triple.

This irks me for a number of reasons, the obvious first being that
somebody thinks I’m willing to throw my hard-earned cash money
at clothes that the Salvation Army would bag as unusable and turn
into dishrags. I wish I could say that this kind of thing doesn’t
bother me anymore but it does. I should by rights be inured by now,
for the same reasons that pop music and the Ottawa Sun should just
roll off my back – people who are stupid enough to exchange money
for that crap deserve what they’re getting, and should be separated
from their money as efficiently as possible so that society can at
least benefit from their taxes before they find their way into the
Darwin Awards. Don’t forget to spend the extra twenty dollars to
see the P.T. Barnum exhibit, I should be saying.

I can’t, though, because whoever thinks that is clearly right –
people are buying it. Huge numbers of them, of us,
are spending money on this stuff. Possibly because it’s nice to
look at but really, I think, because the Yin and Yang of popular
culture are that (a) if enough people are doing something that
automagically makes it a good idea, and (b) that every consumer
within three standard deviations of the mean is apparently
functionally retarded. Watching people shop like trough-fed pack
animals is disheartening enough but when they’re, we’re
emptying our wallets for stuff that’s already worn down, I just
don’t know how to react.

Fashion, I think Oscar Wilde said, is the opposite of beauty –
if the Fashion industry ever stumbled across something genuinely
beautiful, Fashion would end. The situation has apparently
deteriorated since he, or whoever, said it; fashion is now the
opposite of sincerity as well. It’s physically painful to watch
people who’ve never left their front porch trying to dress like
they’ve been around the block a few times. It transcends mere
embarassment into the viscerally disturbing, a faint echo of
the way sane people react to seeing over-made-up, underdressed
eight-year-olds strutting awkwardly around a beauty pageant stage. If
this was just a handful of overmedicated Eurotrash-wannabees wearing
the detritus of a Parisian catwalk idea that never took off that
would be some solace but when you see somebody, lots of
somebodies, spending $150 on artificially worn-out, chemically
sun-faded pants that say “dryclean only” on the tag, there’s not
much you can do that doesn’t involve staring at your hands for a
few hours or setting something on fire.

So, what do you do? Buying people little trinkets and pretending
they come from “the heart” as opposed to the more likely “Taiwan”,
“Indonesia” and “deep-rooted guilt” when fraudulence itself has made
the leap from bug to feature seems a little bit, well, problematic.
Even books and CDs seem iffy, like a cop-out – the go-to,
conveniently sorted by genre, for when you’re out of other ideas.

Me, I think I’m going to try to bail out of the whole process. I’ve
tried to divest myself of my oversupply of stuff this year, and
God knows, I’ve got a few things that have some mileage on them;
I think I’m going to start with those. I’m going to try to find
things of mine that I know other people like, and give them to
those people. Especially the things that are important to me; those
must go first. I think that seeing something important to me on a
friend’s bookshelf could be a lot more rewarding than not seeing
something there that never really mattered in the first place.

So write me a note if you can think of anything. There’s plenty go
go around though not, hopefully, for long.

Hey, it might work. At the very least those
artificial-authenticity-peddling bastards won’t be getting rich
off my sweat equity this year.

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