Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The kids aren't alright

I don't have children. I have a dog, which, as any dog owner will tell you, is a lot like having a child. Probably worse. Fifteen years from now, a child born yesterday will have learned to use the toilet and know his way around a microwave while my Floyd will still be sticking his nose in my face at 7am driven by hunger and an urgent need to relieve himself. (For the record, I wouldn't trade him for the world...or couture.) I accepted my fate the moment I laid eyes on him, and embraced it the first time he curled up and fell asleep on my feet; a strange surge of warmth overwhelmed the organ that resides in the left side of my chest when he did that, and it's what I can only imagine a mother feels the first time her child is placed upon her breast.

What ensues is pretty similar: a fierce desire to keep them healthy and safe, happy and clean. To educate and instill in them a strong code that upholds the moral tenets of honesty, trust, accountability, loyalty and peeing outside. But most of all, to let them be kids.

Until now. It seems a new crop of keener kids are sprouting from the dirt (or places like Georgia and Illinois). They're charming their way into some very serious industries with their idiot savant-ness by convincing much older idiots with a lot less savant that what they have to say actually matters. And we're meant to buy it. (Disclaimer: The following information may cause depression, nausea, feelings of suicide, anxiety, diarrhea, constipation, sleeplessness or fatigue. Do not read if you are pregnant or breast feeding. In severe cases, contact your psychotherapist or home-delivery drug dealer immediately.)

Tavi Gevinson. A pint-sized thirteen-year-old blogger with gray hair and a Mary Kate Olsen aesthetic, Tavi's blog Style Rookie has made her a fashion darling. She's been featured in Vogue Paris, The New York Times Magazine and Teen Vogue. She sits front row at Couture Week (the absurdly gigantic bow she wore on her head to the Dior show apparently pissed editors off because they couldn't see over it) and covered the shows in New York for Fashion Television replacing veteran host Jeanne Beker who was in Vancouver for the Olympics. She refers to Alexander Wang on her blog as a "kid" and makes snide asides about designers five times her age like "when Margiela was good." The fashion press has called her a "breath of fresh air." She was apparently one of the inspirations for Rodarte's capsule collection for Target.

Jonathan Krohn. A fifteen-year-old Republican who has made it his personal mission to set the record straight on conservatism with his book "Define Conservatism", which he wrote and self-published two years ago. He managed to convince organizers of last year's Conservative Political Action Conference to let him speak at the event. He ranked 190 out of a list of 208 finalists for Time's Top 100 of 2009, and was described by the magazine as "Lil' Limbaugh." He recently released his second book "Defining Conservatism: The Principles That Will Bring Our Country Back," which has been praised by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who, it should be said, wanted to write the foreword, but Jonathan wanted conservative political theorist William Bennett to do it. And he did. Mike Gallagher, host of The Mike Gallagher Show (the eighth most listened to radio show in America) has said: "Any time I am depressed about the state of the country or the future of the modern conservative movement, I consider two words: Jonathan Krohn."    

Now, I don't know about you, but when I was a teenager, I was reading Sassy and dreaming about make-out sessions with Kurt Cobain while navigating the rocky terrain of algebra and gateway drugs. These kids are obviously bright and know how to market themselves — something most adults I know can't do. But experts? No, I'm sorry, that's absurd. And much as both the fashion industry and the Republican party are founded on the principle of absurdity, I just can't stand behind it. 

Friday, 19 February 2010

If you're going to seek my forgiveness, Tiger, do it in a better shirt

Have you heard the little publicized news story about world class golfer Tiger Woods cheating on his trophy wife with a string of slutty 'hos? Yeah, I didn't think so. I mean, it's been buried on the front page of newspapers and tabloids for months now. To bring you up to speed, he just made a public apology to a select group of friends and family. I was honoured to be invited by the CTV News Channel and CNN and The New York Times and, well, just about every other news outlet in the free world. So nice and intimate!

I found it kind of weird that Tiger kept apologizing to me. I don't recall ever asking for an apology. In fact, I don't even recall being the least bit irked by his behaviour. Last I checked, I wasn't married to him, and unless you're Elin, neither are you, so why does everyone care so damn much? Don't get me wrong, Tiger's a dog. But I have a sneaking suspicion that much like the Hugh Grant-Divine Brown affair, the majority of the uproar in this case stems from the fact that few can fathom Tiger's desire for another signature hole. Elin's hot, yo!

If my sources are correct, and bearing in mind my aversion to all things sports-related (see previous post), Tiger Woods is a golfer. Not a spokesman for a family values coalition or the face of Husbands Of The Month monthly. He's a rich guy whose megalomania and illusion of infallibility came back to bite him in the ass. The ensuing public schadenfreude has been biblical, though. He lost endorsement deals and sadly, his own children's charity is suffering. I reckon the kids will be alright, though, since his absurdly bloated salary, which he gets because he knows how to hit a ball with a stick — wow, that's a life-saving talent! — should be sufficient to keep the hope alive. Just don't let him spew any more of this "caring and sharing" rhetoric. We've seen how Tiger shares his woods, and the kids don't need to emulate that.

But since he's offering, I'll take his mea culpa and apply it to something that offended me, deeply and personally: his shirt. I know there's a formula to dressing the part of the apologetic cad, and it involves sober attire mixed with slumped shoulders and a teary, hangdog expression. So I won't go off on the blay colour of his shirt. (That's my attempt to create a new fashion colour by combining blue with gray, like Armani's greige. Yes? No?) But the collar on his shirt looked like it was starched within an inch of its life; it practically stood on its own. Also, the fit was off and well, lemme just say it, it looked cheap. And when the reason behind your televised apology is to publicly repent for putting in another woman's green, cheap is already implied. Don't highlight it with your shirt.       

Thursday, 18 February 2010

By all means, aim high. Just dress the part.

I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I don't like sports. And I really don't get why people watch them. Every now and then if there's nothing to watch on TV — and when I say nothing, I mean no Simpsons, no Jeopardy, no Seinfeld or Friends reruns, and the Food Network is running a Giada De Laurentiis show — I may stop for a few minutes on, say, a tennis tournament or a Formula 1 race. But that's only under extreme duress. And don't even talk to me about soccer. My father's burning passion for the sport has completely soured me on it. I remember as a child waking on Sunday mornings to find him in the family room watching one soccer game on TV and listening to another on his transistor radio. I firmly believe that if my father were forced to choose between his children and a soccer match in a Sophie's Choice kind of situation his knee-jerk response would be "Who's playing?"

I've tried to relate to the sports lover's high, but I simply cannot comprehend how a goal or a match point or a touchdown can elicit the same ecstasy as scoring Lanvin pumps at 65 percent off. Where's the personal satisfaction in a win that had nothing to do with you?

I don't really watch the Olympics either, which is a statement that often results in scowls and gasps from my friends and family. Just because it's on an international stage, it doesn't mean the sports are any less sporty. I'm proud of our fine Canadian athletes and I rejoice when someone far younger and more disciplined than me brings home a gold. But I won't lie, when watching an Olympic event, I'm usually more fixated on the better looking competitor and the snazzier outfit. Which brings me to a question that's been on my mind for days: was Seth Wescott, the American snowboarder who won the gold in snowboard cross, wearing ripped jeans? Or were they pants designed to resemble ripped jeans? Because if it's the former, I'm gonna need to step in.

Wearing jeans to the Olympics is like wearing Chanel to a Dior show. It's disrespectful. From their beginnings in the 8th century BC, the Olympic Games have stood for precision, excellence and cleanliness. Why do you think torch bearers to this day still wear white? Those Greeks are a fastidious people! I doubt Ancient Greece ever saw a rogue runner in a plaid toga or a chariot with graffiti scrawled on its side. So Wescott shouldn't sully the good name of European sartorialism with ripped jeans. Oh sure, snowboarding is an x-treme sport and snowboarders by extension are X-TREME, dude! They thumb their noses at conventional skiers in tight pants and Jean Claude Killy sweaters by wearing their clothes as big and baggy as possible. Unkempt and slack-jawed, they amble up to the chairlift with one boot strapped onto their board and the other dragging them along in a sloppy, simian fashion. It's not what one would call graceful. 

My cousins and I used to make fun of people in jeans on the slopes when we were younger. We called them yetties. I don't know why. But they were usually beginner skiers who after a couple of runs on the bunny hill would hit the steeper slopes and barrel down in a semi-snowplow all the while yelling a raucous "yahoo!" as warning of their unstoppable approach. There was something so local-yokel about their baggy, high-waisted 501s tucked into a pair of rental boots. As far as I'm concerned, artfully distressed and fashionably slim though Wescott's jeans may have been, he still looks like a yettie to me.

Of course, if he was in fact wearing pants made to look like jeans, then...well...congratulations, dude. That's, like, x-tremely cool.  

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Your mother wears army boots. And I want a pair.

I recently got back from a press trip to Israel on behalf of ELLE Canada. It was a fascinating, albeit conflicting experience. Israel is a beautiful country with a stunning and diverse landscape, a rich and tortured history, and an awesome mélange of old-meets-new art and architecture. But it kind of wore thin after awhile. Maybe I'm weary of history-heavy holiday destinations — my last two major vacations were in Turkey and Morocco, respectively — or maybe it's the fact that tension hangs as densely in the air in Israel as diesel exhaust and the smell of frying falafel. Ongoing political and religious strife has shaped the way Israelis interact, making legendary prickly pears like New Yorkers, Parisians and Romans seem positively amiable by comparison. I dunno, maybe my next trip should be somewhere a little more bland, like Buffalo.

It also doesn't help to put visitors at ease when uniformed teenagers carrying armed assault rifles walk the streets with the same swagger as our own erratic teens. There's something vaguely unsettling about unsupervised hormonally-charged boys with weapons, no? Despite the menacing atmosphere, however, I couldn't help but admire their overall look. Being a sucker for all things olive-hued (I blame a childhood spent watching M*A*S*H reruns), their uniform looked like the polished TV sitcom equivalent of military gear. Slim-fit shirts with green berets neatly folded under the left epaulet and low-rise pants accented with thick brown leather belts made them look like they stepped off a Dior Homme runway circa 2007. The girls too! But it was their boots that really caught my eye. Resembling a classic eight-hole Doc Marten but with a more streamlined sole and an elegant toe cap, I knew immediately that I had to have a pair. They come in black and an awesome vintage-looking reddish brown with gold rivets. I covet!

As we were leaving the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, where everywhere I turned there was a troop of soldiers studying placards, listening to audio guides and playfully joshing one another, my boot envy got the better of me. Was it disrespectful to be obsessing about footwear in a place dedicated to misery and death? I approached a handsome young solider at the exit and asked point blank where I could buy a pair of boots just like the ones he had on. "For yourself?" he asked. "Yes." He looked at me quizzically and told me of a town on the other side of the country where I would find a store that sold the boots in addition to uniforms and other military paraphernalia. "It will be full of soldiers, so you might be a bit scared," he said. "Ha," I replied. "Try going to the Barneys warehouse sale on a Saturday."

The quip fell on deaf ears, naturally, but he smiled sweetly and gave a shy nod when I thanked him. I wanted to explain to him that boots like his would fetch upwards of 500 in a boutique in Milan, but figured between negotiating his country's history and training for its future he had bigger falafel to fry.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

On this day, like every other one

No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a new post. Don't ask where I've been, (Italy, France, Mexico, New York, Israel), or what I've been doing, (eating, shopping, sun bathing, eating, procrastinating, eating). Let's just focus on the fact that I'm back, and clearly, a bee has buried herself deep enough in my bonnet to whip my mental sludge into a frenzy and force me to take to the blogosphere and pontificate on something I find substantially annoying: Valentine's Day. Specifically, how I'm expected to feel about Valentine's Day.

Personally, my sentiments on the occasion can be summed up in one elegant, monosyllabic word — meh. I feel no resentment whatsoever towards happy couples who use this day to reaffirm their love for one another. Please, go forth and splurge on dinner, flowers, jewellery, lingerie, sex toys. Lord knows our retail economy needs the shot in the arm. Stare deeply into your love's eyes, gesture as grandly as your wallet will allow, kiss with tongue! Just don't expect me to look longingly at you as tears well up in my eyes. Nor should you expect to find me slumped at the bar, slurring lonely-cat-lady clichés like, "José Cuervo is all the man I need!" while flashing the bartender some skin. I just don't care that much. Besides, I don't need an excuse to drink tequila.

I've certainly celebrated my fair share of Valentine's days. I've cooked special dinners, lit scented candles, worn kinky panties, waxed, polished, buffed and disrobed. And you know what? Save for the uncomfortable underwear, it always felt like just another day. In fact, the last time I celebrated Valentine's Day with a boyfriend, everything we were required to do was done by 10pm and we started calling around to see what everyone else was up to. If memory serves, I cozied up to both my boyfriend and José that night.

This year, I don't have one special someone, I have several. I went skiing with one special girlfriend last night and tonight will likely go to the movies with another. Monday I'll spend with a small group of special pals, while Tuesday I'm having dinner with a special friend and respected colleague. And I spend every day with my most favourite of the specials, my dog. I want to apologize to my sisters out there, both single and spoken for, who think I should feel sad or lonely, elated or entranced by this day. In truth, all I feel is ambivalent. And maybe a little hungry.

But if it makes you feel any better: I love you. Yesterday, today and tomorrow.