Sunday, 6 March 2016

Fashion

I’ve spent the last couple of years taking a greater interest in dressing well – which has morphed into a greater interest in style – which has morphed into a greater interest in fashion – which is something I’ve never understood. Though, finally, I’m beginning to. I think.

There have been scattered moments in my life where I had a well-defined personal style, my curated EDM-hippy vibe in high school (neon-printed rayon shirts that glowed under blacklight and vintage pants), proto-Zuckerbergian basic neutral normcore for post-collegiate office work (khakis, grey t-shirts, blue button-downs), to my current urban yuppie professor dad steez (ubiquitous corduroy jacket, flat-brimmed hat, worn-in selvedge, high tops).

If I had to assign three major qualities to clothes they would be material utility (what’s it used for?), quality (how well is it made?), and communication (what does it mean to wear it?). Traditionally, I barely cared about any of these – although utility would be the closest, which is the status quo for most folks (men especially). I would buy the cheapest clothes that would serve the greatest number of purposes and cared nothing about fit, provenance, appearance or style. So the world of high fashion seemed completely ludicrous to me. I never consciously considered that clothing could be art.

I am a person who appreciates the well-crafted. I eventually grew tired of buying cheap clothes that don’t fit my proportions and disintegrated after a wash or two. I’ve sought well-crafted, American-made clothing for the last 2 years, and through the research in and appreciation of that craft, I’ve been able to look to the next step to see fashion as art. The utility might be non-existent – but there’s no utility to visual art, music, or creative writing either. I’m talking material utility, not social utility.

So now I pay attention to my own dress, to the dress of others’, and to some extent what’s abuzz in fashion because I took the time to learn the language & what I say by the way I dress. A lot of it still seems like nonsense to me, but I’m willing to attribute that to my ignorance. Here’s to further learning.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Saccades

Today, while reading Tom Vanderbilt’s The Pleasure and Pain of Speed from Nautilus’ Issue 9, I learned about the saccade. This is the term for the rapid movement of eyes between fixation on different objects. Our visual perception is basically turned off during this time – which, apparently, makes up about 60 – 90 minutes of our day.

This ties in nicely to an anthropological theory I have that I wrote about over a decade ago: The Space Between Thoughts. I think we have an instinctual awareness that our perceptions are incomplete – and then we come up with all kinds of stories and theories for what happens in those gaps, and where our perception fails. What happens during a saccade. The saccade is where the coin reappears – where the magic happens.

It’s nice to finally have a word for it.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Legerdemain

            spiderweb flag // on fog flagpole
  porcelain vase of beasts // in rare inks
     huge cube of concrete // speckled egg inside.
             backwards map // for a maze of mirrors
                onion skin // atop onion skin
              time be // tween star // light
             pond of rocks // pond of rocks
           a pond of rocks // upon whose
         foundation a shat // ter rain falls
        and while you were // reading this
      catercorner, edge of // eye, peripheral
                  we sneak // on rat feet
               on rat feet // scuttle scaffolds
               to build or // crash or crash
               we the loud // est shout
           millennia built // magician hands
                  reckless // calculation
        papier-mâché masks // watercolor thunderstorm
           monster fearing // above the bed
         myth minted daily // god cowering
               about women // god? or just
                           // men

Sunday, 6 September 2015

About Giving Up

Giving up is something I’ve been trying to learn the last couple of years. It doesn’t come naturally to me (or any American, probably), but it does take away some chronic stressors. From a business standpoint, the things I’ve given up on are all things that have had no return on the investment I’ve made trying to achieve them. I’m not saying that the good things in life must be defined in terms of capital, but I have limited means to invest, and so I’ve opted out of markets where I’ve been wasting my time.

Relationships

I’ve given up on dating. My last relationship ended in February, and in that time I’ve gone on 3 dates, and have been canceled on or stood up probably 9 times. I haven’t even tried since June. I’m a 34 year-old single dad, which severely limits both the available time, and the number of women who might be interested in me that I am also interested in. For awhile I was going out by myself, but I became envious of all the couples I saw. For all the time, money, and effort I was expending, I was in the same spot. I keep reviewing past relationships in hindsight and second-guessing my decision-making. In my experience, there’s never a clear answer when it comes to love.

Friends

I threw a party a few weeks ago and invited about a dozen people that I consider friends or see on a regular basis. Most said they’d come, but only three showed up. A year ago I would have invited dozens of people, but in that time I’ve reduced my “friend list” from a couple hundred to about four dozen. I removed everyone who I hadn’t seen or heard from in nine months or more. I’ve also pretty much stopped using Facebook. I unfollowed everyone left on my friends list, and only use it for messenger or events. Drastic, yeah, but if people want my company, they know how to get in touch. The people I’m still in touch with, I was in touch with on the regular before. I have three folks I’d consider good friends. We talk weekly, and did so even before I started radio silence.

Life Goals

By now I was hoping to be married, with a fleet of kids, and living in a nice home that I own. To be settled down. Maybe have air conditioning. I’ve given up on those goals. I made a couple of poor decisions in 2007 that irrevocably changed my life. I’ve resigned myself to being a single dad; to not having any more kids; to renting for the rest of my life. The kids piece is the hardest one for me to reconcile myself with. As an only child, I always swore that I would have more than one child myself. Being a dad is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, but it’s only going to happen once.

So, what?

Having given up on the above, I am better able to focus and invest my energies on being a dad to Abraham, and working hard at my job. After those items are squared away, I’m fairly monastic. Bike rides, walking my dog, maintaining the house I rent. Trying to simplify. If not happy, at least content; mindful. It is very hard.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Historical Footnotes

I posit that the event horizon of “historically important” as a quality of information is the point at which the dataset disappears from living memory. The magnitude of certain events ensures that they will be recorded for posterity, but even then, the reasons behind that recording fade as the people who experienced it die. I might be using the wrong terms here. Maybe it’s not history I’m talking about, but anthropology. History is “these are the things that happened”; anthropology is “these are the ways people acted.”

Living as I do, in a society where many people are arguably obsessed with recording and archiving every detail of their lives, I wonder what methods future historians/anthropologists will use to sift wheat from chaff – especially when, as this post is evidence for, so much of what is shared and saved is chaff.

That’s long-term historicity. If history is still being recorded 5,000 years from now, this whole epoch will likely be reduced to a one-liner: “An age of technological growth so rapid it’s effects threatened to destroy civilization.”

Specific to this is the rise of the automated autobiography. People have been posting things online so long now that there are services to show us and let us share what we were doing to the day, 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago. Is there a broader desire to consume these mini-histories, or do they just exist to serve our need to feel more important than we are? It doesn’t have to be either/or. My bet is that it’s an admixture of onanism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism.

Signal to noise depends on your ears.

Trash is treasure.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Some Job Interview Basics

I’ve been on the other side of the table for job interviews the last few months. One thing that I’ve noticed is lack of candidate preparation in the interview process. I want to hire people who work hard to get the job they’ve applied for. Here’s what I like to see from a candidate:

  • Clarity, honesty, precision, concision. Your cover letter, resumé, and interactions with the staff interviewing you should demonstrate forthrightness. If you don’t know something, admit it. That will get you more points than trying to weasel your way around the answer. Don’t ramble.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the business and position. If you know jack about the organization or the position’s requirements, you appear ill-prepared.
  • Asking questions about the business and how the position fits within it. If you do not show a desire to understand how a job fits within an organization, you probably do not care about the organization’s mission or values.
  • Show respect for the process by dressing up. You don’t have to be rich to look nice, and people notice. I wore a tie to my interview at Burger King when I was 15½. I wore a tie to my interview as a seasonal teamster/warehouseman when I was 18.
  • Be ready to answer tough questions. Even a menial job will require the ability to deal with the unexpected. We’ll want to know that you know how to handle those unexpected situations.

It boils down to one rule: Work as hard to get the job as you’ll work if you get it.

We’ll notice.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

When the Cavs Won/Lost It All

About a week ago I was contacted by Bill at Fox8 who had remembered my previous Fox8 appearance about my Poetry 4 Free project. His idea was to make a piece about how Clevelanders were reacting to the Cavs being in the finals & he wanted me to come up with something that would help tie it all together. I think he did a great job considering he had to plan the piece to work for victory or defeat. Clevelanders tend to be good at that kind of planning. Here’s the piece:

I also anticipated the possibility of needing two outcomes. My full poem is below. I only gave a couple of hours to it, so it isn’t as revised as I would like, but I knew it was going to be a small part of a larger whole, so I tried to structure it for both coherence and reorganization. I only had to change the first line of the last stanza to change the tone of the poem. Efficiency!

What will I remember about today,
in this city
that takes every punch,
unflinching, on our chins;
that rises up from every blow,
standing tall, cut-mouthed
against the world?

I'll remember
that this day is like
every other day
this city working doubles
while you slept on it
this city skipping vacation
to get the job done
this city, laconic, intractable
where we bow to no king
no, not even our own
this city of redemption
where we always welcome our sons home

Today, today
is for 
                YOU 
to remember:

this city can always say it left it all on the floor
this city where every stand is a last stand
this city where we pull for each other, exchange 
blood-stained grins
and sing loudest for the unsung.

You have forgotten (or) One day you'll learn
what we've always known
Cleveland is the city
filled with champions
and tomorrow, 
we get back to work.