Just another day in beautiful Jersey City. These colorful ladies, left to right, are Liz and Venus. The dignifed gentleman dog on the left is Remington (10), and the golden/color bombed lady dog on the left is Duchess. She is SIXTEEN YEARS OLD.
I really, really, really wanted to buy something from your store, but somehow, in the course of a few minutes, I ended up a probably permanent non-customer.
I wanted to take classes in your store, which is filled with pretty yarn, and apparently has classes in a lot of things, just not knitting dog sweaters--which was my interest. Which seemed a little odd to me, because you, dear store owner, were toting around a little dog in your arms, and you informed me that yes, your dog has a sweater. I can understand how you might not feel there was a demand, that's your call. There were about a hundred dogs in the Halloween parade in our town, but..
What I don't understand is this: when I said, well, put me on your mailing list, why did you say, "I don't really DO mailing lists."
No e-mail lists either? No easy sign-up sheet in case I might want to take something else. Nope, apparently not. Huh. Then you told me that I should check the store's website for any changes in the class schedule. And then you did not ask for my e-mail.
And then we were done.
You were never rude, store owner, just...disconnected from the idea that I was a customer. You never asked me if I was interested in anything else, you didn't have any books on hand that might lead me to my goal, you didn't recommend anything--even though clearly, you must have learned how to knit your dog a sweater from somewhere. And by turning down my contact information, you basically told me I was on my own, and good luck surfing the web--which would have made sense several years ago, but seems pretty 20th centuryish now.
I try to tell myself that you might have been having a bad day, which we all have, but regardless, you managed to turn me from an eager customer (and someone who wants to write, for publication, about the making of my dog sweater), into someone who will be taking her business elsewhere (and not writing about you).
All you needed to do is take my e-mail, and I would have been back. You wouldn't even have needed to do anything with it. Now, I'll be taking my knitting elsewhere.
We met briefly while you signed my bobblehead in Emmett's lovely garden. When I told you you were my "favorite department chairman," you asked me if I taught, and when I said yes, you asked for my card. Which I did not have. I proceeded to babble and hand you my book, which you accepted like the paragon of grace you are.
Here's the offer: I know YOU could do ME a world of good. It's not that I don't know about fashion, I just can't figure out what fashion is about for big-hipped, middle-aged, still pretty groovy me. You'd figure out my issues, and my solution, in the blink of an elegant eye.
But pick me, not because I am a fashion klutz, but because I have something to offer YOU, as a department chair: if you pick me for your show, I will teach writing to a class of your Parsons students FOR FREE. I have a particular gift for teaching students in the arts how to write. I am both a taskmistress, and a big ball of fun. And you, you able phrase-turner, know they need it. Even if this culture is all about the image, they still have to write the occasional thank you note...and the all-important business plan. I have done both with great success.
And while I may Gabbana my Balanciaga, and fail to understand the wispy appeal of Marc Jacobs, I can crack the whip when it comes to shapely prose. Now all I need is the right jacket--selected by you--while I do it.
When I was a kid, I was addicted to reading Pauline Kael in the New Yorker. I remember one day reading her review of the remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and it made my heart beat so fast that I jumped on the next bus downtown to go see. In many ways, it was a terrific movie--but it wasn't the movie Pauline Kael had seen. Her movie was...spectacular. This movie, which got in some witty digs at yuppie culture when that was still fresh territory, fell far short of the movie in Pauline Kael's head.
I felt the same way with "The Devil Wears Prada," only this time, it wasn't Pauline Kael transforming the off-and-on Cinderella update with a wan Anne Hathaway (who actually rocked the house in "Brokeback Mountain," with her embittered rodeo rider rich girl--so hey, I know she can act her ass off when she gets the chance). It was Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep who hijacked the movie into greatness, whenever they had the chance, aided by a couple of choice speeches that definitely made it clear that the screenwriter has better things up her sleeve....
The movie in their heads had Style to Burn. The movie we watched--not so much.
Which is a longwinded way of saying, I'm thinking about starting a new blog (ugh) about...style. Style, in all its iterations, from "Project Runway" to art projects like the Seattle choreographer who wore ONE brown dress for a whole year.
To William Morris, designer, radical, businessman. My secret boyfriend of all secret boyfriends.
And here's the thing: I'm a size 12/14. I wear three pairs of L.L. Bean stretch black jeans almost all the time. But I think about Tom Ford a lot, and I still wonder if I could have saved my Stephen Sprouse fist-in-the-eyeball magenta cotton sweater from extinction, along with my Geoffrey Beene tuxedo flats.
And I believe, deeply, that Edith Head changed Barbara Stanwyck's life.
But the activist part of me wonders: does style and/or design really change things, fundamentally? The Nazis had a certain kind of style to burn, and yet it did not, as we know, make them nice people. An era of low-income housing---a certain style, if you will--clearly contributed to all kinds of social woes. Jane Jacobs identified a transformational kind of low-rise sociability that takes place in Greenwich Village--yea! But Malcolm Gladwell claims that the business world used city planning that widom to create...CUBICLES? Huh? Dilbert, can you please talk to the man?