Many of those who live in the “Charnock Ranch Historic Business Area”:http://www.palms-california.us/staticpages/index.php?page=20051125145006742#Anchor-CHARNOCK-37516 apparently have no particular job; I see them gadding about every mid-day and every afternoon. Of course, if I had anything to do myself, then I wouldn’t be out to see my neighbors, but that’s not the point of this blog entry. The point is that these obviously unemployed people — unkempt, nappy-haired, filthy-clothed, pockmarked, hollow-cheeked, pinpointed pupils — have a lot more going on, cash flow-wise, than I had expected.
The other day I saw an older, stooped gentleman with a mountain man beard and a brown fitted corduroy jacket and a light green t-shirt covered with the pinprick holes that moths make. He paid for his coffee in quarters and nickels but under his arm was a Wall Street Journal and a large envelope marked “your statements enclosed.” Perhaps he was one of those eccentrics who live an ascetic life and leave behind millions? Or perhaps those were his neighbor’s statements. From the directionless shuffle that brought this man around the corner, I suspect the latter.
Then there was the guy I saw crossing the street. He was dressed all skater-punk but, let’s face it, his clothes were about five years old and stiff and faded from having been washed maybe a dozen times in that period. I couldn’t see the pupils in his baby blue eyes. But he walked purposefully across the street, and under his arm he held the entrepreneurial manifesto “The Art of the Start”:http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591840562/ref=nosim/wadearmstrong-20. I wonder: what’s a guy like this starting?
Perhaps I should take lessons. There’s people like this all around my neighborhood, with no particular evidence of a means of support, but every day they keep going. There must be a trick to it, and I aim to find out.
I applaud you getting out there and not being shy in the middle of your transformation. And, heck, you’re looking pretty good! You’ve got great legs, and, let me say, I really want to give you props for the breasts you’ve chosen. A lot of guys would’ve gone big, but you picked some that are rather small and very tasteful on your athletic frame. Very soon, you’re going to look pretty good for a 50-some-year-old woman.
But, see, it’s the very soon part that counts here. Because, girl, topping off all that hard work at the gym and in the plastic surgeon’s with a head that looks like John Ritter plus an exceedingly receded hairline just ain’t workin. Maybe a wide-brimmed hat?
I live in a moderately rough part of town. This is intentional; in LA, you can find great apartment values in neighborhoods that may look a bit “transitional” but in fact be perfectly safe. My ‘hood, although safe, is filled with both actual gangbangers and those who look like ‘bangers. Every day as I walk to get lunch, I see Latinos in white wife-beaters and baggy jeans, or African-Americans wearing red. Today, walking back from the store, I saw three such worthies, tall, big, African-American, lounging on a car; one was wearing a “Stop Snitchin’”:http://www.blackstarvideo.com/videos2/Stop-Snitching.html t-shirt. As I walked past, the tallest one said “hey, ‘scuse me, yo!”
Banger 1: “Yo, you know where rainbows come from?”
Me: “Yeah, they’re light refracting off water droplets in the sky.”
Banger 2: “I told you so!”
Banger 1: “Yo, where you hear that?”
Me: “Some science teacher”
Banger 3: “That’s ’cause it’s a scientific fact!”
Banger 1: “I don’t believe that, you know, ’cause light is the giver of life, so a rainbow seems more meaningful than all that. It’s like a statement about new life and beauty.”
Banger 2: “Thank you for your help, sir”
Me: “You’re welcome”
Banger 1: “You have a good day”
Palms: where my personal racism is challenged every day.
It seems that gentlemen these days are fond of the tie-with-button-down-collar look, which, I suppose, is a wonderful idea if you really like your collar to poof out, exposing the parts of the tie that wrap around your neck inside the collar. Me, I prefer to restrict the visible parts of my tie to a reasonably competent knot and the wide end, hanging down to the middle of my belt.
OK, let’s start by reviewing the types of collars out there, so that we can all be on the same page. Probably the most common collar is the conservative point collar:
A stylish, formal variation on this collar is the spread collar, which is similar but has a wider gap in the front:
Then there’s the tab collar:
And, finally, there’s the button-down collar:
A tie goes well with any of the first three collars, although, with a tab collar you should take care to keep your knot mid-sized, because otherwise the tie’s knot will squeeze up against the collar itself in a most unattractive manner.
Things only begin to go wrong when you try to wear a tie with the button-down collar. This is a horrible fashion faux pas and will not only make you look funny, it’ll also make me stare ceaselessly at your neck, wondering how you could have ended up in this sad, sad state.
The button-down collar is a casual look, and goes well with khakis or a sportcoat; it should never ever ever ever be work with a tie. According to legend, the button-down collar originated on polo players, who don’t wear ties; they added buttons to the points of their collars to keep said collars from flapping in the wind as they rode. Thus, from its very origin, the button-down collar was not meant to be worn with a tie.
Nor should you say “well, it’s the style these days; denim shorts weren’t meant to be worn about the lower hips, extending to mid-calf, but I don’t hear you complaining about that, Wade, let’s just go with the style of the hour!” First of all, let me say that I haven’t yet had time to complain about the whole phenomenon of jeans shorts on men. Second of all, let’s look at the mechanics of the button-down collar. When properly-starched (and I know you take your nice shirts to the laundry and have them returned with at least medium starch) and -buttoned, your button-down collar will lay nicely against your neck, with only a slight curve that gives a nice line to the top of your shirt. Add a tie under that, however, and you break the elegant curve — your collar has to arch over the tie itself and thus billows out. Further, because the points are affixed to your shirt, they can’t sit nicely around your knot, but instead will often sit so far out (and be so curved) as to let those looking at you see your tie as it wraps around your collar. Why do you want to show people that part of your tie? Let them look instead at that knot you’ve worked so hard to tie correctly. Really, this is the dressed-up guy equivalent of a girl having her thong poke over the back of her low-riding pants, except that I don’t think that girls really have any interest in what the back of a guy’s tie looks like.
So let’s review. If your collar looks like this:
don’t wear a tie. If you’re absolutely out of all other dress shirts, then you can unbutton the collar and wear it with a tie; although the collar will still sit weird, the tie will at least hide the buttons. A better idea is just to save that shirt with the button-down collar for a non-tie casual event. Otherwise, you’re likely to hear me sigh softly with a broken heart as I see you at a formal event wearing a tie with the wrong collar.
One of my classmates proposed, in all seriousness, that iPods be attached to insulin pumps so that diabetics could listen to music while they got their sugar under control.
I think, at that moment, I could hear the baby Jesus cry.
I went downtown with the Art Society of Marshall today, on a tour of “the LA skyline”:http://www.laconservancy.org/tours/tours_main.php4#broadway. We were accompanied, on the early part of our tour, by an escort of downtown’s finest; that is to say, an African-American homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of flattened cardboard boxes. This worthy was clearly trying to inform us of some of the more subtle things around us: “smells like poo!” he’d yell, at the top of his lungs. “Smells like poo?” “SMELLS like poo!” The inflection varied between outbursts, almost as if he was trying to say different things (just like Junior can mean three different things when he says “hello!”).
But we ignored the poor man, and finally he sat down on a bench in front of “The Standard”:http://www.standardhotel.com/ and played his harmonica. Well, the one note he knew how to hit on his harmonica he played for while. When that didn’t get our attention, he stormed up to the curb, kicked a McDonald’s bag into the street with much gusto, and yelled, at the top of his lungs, “that’s my black ass!”
Much more unnerving was the woman parked near me at night. I went to meet some friends for a bite to eat; we met in Beverly Hills. I found street parking on a dark street (Burton Way, actually a 4-lane thoroughfare, but pretty dark nonetheless) and, getting out of my car, walked up to the “No Parking” sign to discern exactly when there was No Parking. I was interrupted in the middle of the sign (“No Parking 6am to… wha?”) by a scream behind me, “get the hell out of here!” Turns out that there was a woman sitting in the darkened car next to the “No Parking” sign and this strange man standing outside her car freaked her out. I tried to explain that I was deciphering the “No Parking” sign but she just gave me the evil eye. Now, being nervous I can understand but, in Beverly Hills? Her scream was so bloodcurdling, my heart was pounding for minutes afterwards. Now _that_ smelled like poo!
Walking to the store, I saw a tall, nervous man, wearing a baby-blue North Carolina baseball cap, ambling along, looking furtively from side to side. Near the Halal Carneceria, he stopped and, turning around in a couple of little circles, took in everything on the block. Then he sidled up to the water vending machine, leaned against it all cool-like for a second, and slinked in behind it. As I walked past and down to Venice, I could barely see the tall man, he was pressed so close to the water machine; it was as if he was trying to become so thin as to be invisible from the window three feet away. What was he doing? It occurred to me that he might be peeing, but that seemed strange.
Then, walking back, I saw his handiwork:
Somehow, despite standing no more than four inches from the water machine, this shy tagger had managed to pull out a market and write on the machine’s white-glazed exterior. His new, red tag was distinct:
(I can only surmise that the tagger using yellow had left some statement that required a response.)
Sadly, I’m way too white to figure out what exactly the meaning of the above is. Kzumz? K4A? Man, if I was gonna go to all that trouble, I’d at least tag “chicks dig Wade!”
In my professor’s lecture. She’s a batty Britisher, smart as all get-out but a bit flaky. Her classes are nutty but informative. The best part wasn’t, however, that she used “bass ackwards” repeatedly in readings and lecture; the real winner was her English pronunciation, “boss eckwards”, delivered, twice consecutively, with a little chuckle at the end, while pointing towards said 10-inch-high letters.
As much as I appreciate the sight, undergrad women at USC — all of whom apparently have to meet a minimum standard of attractiveness to be admitted — probably shouldn’t ride bikes in skirts that they let ride most all the way up.
One blonde freshman, in a white sweatshirt, in a white Corrolla, with the windows rolled up, teasing her eyelashes with a little round brush while looking in the lighted visor mirror, and listening to Ashlee Simpson’s “La La”:http://www.lyricsdir.com/ashlee-simpson-la-la-lyrics.html at top volume, bopping her head the whole way (yet never mussing a lash). I grabbed my book bag, my gym bag, and my lunch bag from my car, put on my jacket and my iPod, arranged everything, and walked all the way to the stairs; she was still in her car.