Sunday, February 28, 2010

Insecurity As Freedom

Some time last week what started innocently enough as a request for info on Men's traditional kimono proportions like Toshio Mifune wears in Yojimbo and Sanjuro:

but ended up being a phone conversation at 2am, with my ex. Which sounds emotional, but being Japanese 2am was when she knocks off work and thus when she decided to call obviously not willing to wait 6 months for an off day as they call them.

As per my 'Taking the Kid Gloves off Post' I didn't ask about her relationship or lack thereof, but she asked about mine. I assume because every ex feels safer if their ex is dating somebody new.
And she called me out, I was doing my whole 'I'm not really interested...I'm not really meeting anybody...not socialising...' spiel and she said in her gifted blunt way 'sounds like excuses' which is true.

I've simply failed to get a girl. I have a bunch of excuses but should stop using them. The bare bones truth is, I don't have a girl because I don't care enough to get one. I hadn't really talked or even communicated to my ex since she forgot my birthday - and why not who am I but some guy she dated for 6 months going on 3 years ago? That gesture too contained only the information that she didn't care enough to remember and really it's quite a reasonable thing to forget. (If you don't have facebook to remind you).

But more than not caring enough to get a girl, I have to admit, I'm afraid to. There was a time when my ex could have asked me to stop what I was doing, all she had to do was ask and I'd have a 9-5 job that wasn't challenging but probably be financially secure and steadily progressing towards 'quality of life'. And remember the race for quality has no finish line.

So yeah... ah... where was I? Oh yeah, I'm frightened, you know the human condition. But unfortunately for me I'm in the very unfortunate position of actually being afraid of women, not afraid to talk with them, or even be afraid to be seen naked by them, no I am simply afraid of having one.

Why? Well let me not answer that question... instead a vaguely relevant diversion. When I was 12 I thought I'd be famous by 18. I used to get anxious about this, because I wanted to meet my first and last girlfriend before I became famous so I knew she would love me for me and not my fame and fortune or whatever. Ha ha, what a cocktwerp, how naive youth is. But now that I'm old bitter and synical, I just don't think it possible.

Professions that involve fame are 'scalable' I highly recommend if you only read one book a year (or even two years) read 'The Black Swan' By Nicholas Nassim Taleb. He talks about these. He talks about Extremistan and Mediocrestan, and then 'scalable' professions and I forget what the equivalent was so we'll just call them 'non-scalable', scalable are winner-take-all professions. Like being a pro-athlete, rock-star, opera-singer, leadership consultant etc. That is, that the number 1 will earn 10 times more than the next most successful in that profession who in turn earns 10 times more than the next most successful, and the vast majority of people 'in' the profession aren't in the profession. They are waiters, work at starbucks or in my case, work in a call center.

Most 'actors' and 'writers' are seen and read by nobody, earn minimum (or less) wage and offer all the security of the Federal Reserve (hah!).

Now I've also said many times, that a luxury women have is that men in most cases don't think about their finances. For example today I was doing a mental exercise that was highly unusual. I was trying to imagine a married lifestyle where I was wealthy enough to have a big house and holiday in Europe every year. Now I admit that if I was earning $100k a year, and that took care of the big house, and my wife earned a relatively modest $25,000 a year, it still seemed like I had to put mental effort into thinking that her $22,000 after tax or whatever would pay for the holiday in Europe. It seems much more likely to me that if I want that lifestyle I would simply aim to earn $135,000 a year for the additional $22,000 after tax or whatever for the holiday.

I don't mean I can't imagine using somebody else's money, I just don't feel confident basing some part of my desired lifestyle that depends on somebody else's ability to earn it. I can't really imagine anybody thinks this way but evidently they do. Also evidently a lot of people also think liek me, earn your own money to control your own lifestyle.

The split seems to be divided by gender (but is not absolute), that is why I say girls have a luxurious position in that if they have a 'dreamer' or 'scalable' career ambition, becoming a dancer, singer, popstar or tennis player I can imagine that there would be plenty of men perfectly okay to have a relationship with them even if they financially contribute nothing. They wouldn't think of it as added stress or pressure on them, but there natural role to provide for a 'family' that includes their spouse. This would be called being simply responsible on their part.

It is a hangover from the atomic family deal, I know, and totally sexist in both directions. It is belittling to women to suggest they earn 'play money' just as it is belitteling to men to suggest they have a fundamental responsibility to provide for consumption.

But it's that view I'm afraid of. I know that most relationships start out just as fun, with ample trepedation that you don't necessarily want that partner for life. And some are over in two weeks, but others grow attached.

Just so, I can imagine meeting a girl that is okay with the fact that I am trying to make my way in a scalable But they're 'okayness' is founded on the assumption that we'll only be together for 3 months anyway. But once those 3 months tick over, suddenly I'm the man in the picture, but I'm not the man that buys that house, that lifestyle or whatever.

Men have the luxury of being able to think that the woman in their picture is an independant variable to everything else in it. Women have the luxury of foisting responsibity in part onto that man variable.

But Germaine Greer said in the 60's that until people recognise 'insecurity as freedom' we can't be free. I'm sure there's millions of years of genes though urging people to feather their nest to care for the next generation, and the behavioural drive of those genes is going to be hard to dissuade.

But I'm afraid, I'm afraid of being asked to stop, to give up. I'm afraid of that. I should trust people not to, to give them a chance. Because at worst I'd just have to say 'get out' but I'm the kind of person that insists on their being a point to everything. Thus I'd rather have no relationships than a string of failed relationships. Sure I could have fun, but they take time and energy, time and energy away from my dreams I can barely afford now.

The great irony I see though, is that those who 'make it' are in high demand by a lot of women. If you're a big-shot comedian, movie star, or rock star or whatever then groupies flock to you, you can pick off some of the highest earning women in the world too, your Miranda Kerr's and Beyonce Knowles.

But where 12 year old me was being so naive was that many of these same women regardless of how much they are earning themselves would not stick around to be with you in the poor and uncertain begginnings of making it. When your mattress is made of cardboard and your diet consists of pocket change.

On top of that, many partners would discourage you in your fledgling years from even trying, with the pursuasive voice of a sexual partner you have become accustomed to. Not all, but many, too many in my experience. I've had ultimatums for cutting my hair on either side of the fence. (dumped if I do, dumped if I don't). The more serious of the ultimatums should have been the end of the relationship then and there.

It's one gender divide that persists and I'm truly mysogenistic over it. I don't blame anything in the X chromosome as such though, just social conditioning. I believe if you are going to teach women to be free, you have to teach them to think 'my money' not 'our money' as horrible as that sounds. I've heard it expressed by Billy Connelly as 'Men buy a house they want to live in, women buy a house they want to renovate. Men marry a woman they want to keep, women marry some guy they plan to change you into in the future.' His advice, dishearteningly was to 'not bother fighting it' and if there's no point to fighting it, I'm just going to run from the fight to begin with.

Depressing isn't it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Soundwave Epiphany 2 of 2

My second epiphany was that I'm not alone, there's a lot of people like me I never see that don't come out of the woodwork until a band like Faith No More or whatever brings us out in numbers.

So what there's a diaspora of band fans. But what I mean is that there are abunch of guys and girls like me that don't at least look like they've sold out, gone corporate or whatever. They seem arrested in their development as evidenced by the number of basketball jerseys, black band t-shirts and camo shorts. It certainly wasn't everyone, for example we didn't look like the teenagers at the festival, we looked like the teenagers we once were, just with receeding hairlines, faded tattoos, non-athletic builds.

And it made me realise, that the adolescent rebellion is a structured part of our lifes contract. The teenager was invented with the transistor radio that for the first time in history allowed them to listen to different music than their parents and that was a start.

Teenagers have since rebelled against their parents as part of forging their own identity.

Then we crush their dreams with VCE/HSC or throw the stone into the barrel (as I believe it is called in Queensland). The adolescent rebellion is lip service only, we get to have haircuts and clothing for a couple of years, but not actually drop out of the shitty system.

What shitty system? The protracted university entrance process known as our primary and secondary education system, that then puts us in university courses geared towards the vocations a corporate community desires yet will not pay for.

Then laden with a debt most people aren't conscious they are accumulating - they start out in a junior position in a 'safe' job performing some rote unimaginative task day in day out to get a mortgage which is just renting your accomodation from a bank (since they typically absorb all or more than all of the rent, the only productive income a house can generate, the rest is paper income vulnerable to sudden dramatic wright downs). Then you have kids and put them into a private school in the hope they can have an even more safe, secure, rote unimaginative job than you did permitting them 3-4 years of rebellion mostly geared towards their clothing and hair style.

The rebellion just needs to be taken to the next level. There's a huge market for all these isolated people that want to rock. People like me, and cant stand the thought that the most imaginitive vision of the future 'our country' has is: stable economic growth driven by foreign demand for raw materials in our resource based economy.

Nobody wants to be a cog in that great machine, I'm not even sure if its worth anybody being a cog in that machine.

This epiphany was much shorter but possibly more significant than my other one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Soundwave Epiphany 1 of 2

It's the riff. The riff is the epiphany.

I was at Soundwave festival in Melbourne Yesterday, mainly to see Faith No More again, and I'll just say that you can't see a band live for the first time twice. It was still the highlight although the crowd wasn't as good as at their sideshow, but they are a phenomenal fucking band.

So anyway, there was stage 1 and stage 2, and from when we arrived it seemed as if stage 1 was for the old timers and 2 was for the kids. I mean it went from some band called 'Paramor' to 'Placebo' whom while not my cup of tea I at least recognised and the dude has a good voice and I could tell their tracks apart. Then to AFI who can play but for some reason just seem totally emasculated, plus their fanbase look like children to me. Then Jane's Addiction, who were awesomely rad, as one of my heavy rotation bands through my adolescent years and just for being a fucking good band. The drummer can play, Perry can sing, you can actually hear the bass lines which drive the songs and Dave Navarro is the third truly A grade guitarist I've seen live.

Then JimmyEatWorld that I described to my brother as 'Folk-Punk' except we both had earplugs in so he kept arguing that they weren't 'Post-Punk' and that Talking Heads were Post-punk.

This triggerred the epiphany.

I admit, that the reason all the kids punk bands sets blended into one droning punk concert for me was that I haven't invested the time to actually get familiar with the tracks. I'm listening to Street Sweeper Social Club on my ipohd at the moment and the first few times through I couldn't distinguish between each track. But like beer, punk is something that once given my first taste I have never had an urge to aquire a taste for it. I can appreciate people who like Punk, are fucking into it and all that - but they strike me as just like the teenagers that got way into beer because they wanted to get drunk - nobs.

But the genre's were the tip off here's two lists:

List #1 Inexhaustive List of Bands I Love:
Faith No More
Rage Against The Machine
De La Soul
A Tribe Called Quest
Jane's Addiction
Stone Temple Pilots
Pearl Jam

List #2 Inexhaustive List of Genres
Alternative Metal
Funk Rock
Anarcho punk
Death metal
Folk metal
Glam metal
Groove metal
Industrial metal
Nu metal
Progressive metal
Sludge metal
Speed metal
Stoner metal
Thrash metal
Crust Punk
Garage punk
Glam punk
Hardcore punk
Horror punk
Skate punk
Street punk

And these would not be sufficient to describe all the genres ascribed to the list of bands I like.

I just called the scene I was into 'Alternative' and I liked the big 3 Grunge band. But even then, I can't hear sufficient differences between say a skate punk band like Blink 182 vs. The Clash being a classic Punk-Rock band. I don't understand the need for genus/sub-genre shite. It must mean something to somebody, but not to me. Again I think punk fans and metal fans are the kind to have monochromatic taste buds in music such that they can actually distinguish between two different breeds of strawberry. (That was a pretty tortured analogy).

But my collection of 10 or so bands there are all over the place. For example, there's no system way to say 'Oh you like a Rap-Metal act like RATM? Then you should definitely check out Primus!' until yesterday I didn't really understand why that statement made sense, when on the surface there's no reason a fan of a rap-metal act would be a fan of an 'experimental rock' or as is the case with all bands too hard to describe in style 'funk metal'. But it's the riff.

It's the common thread between all music I like. They are all based around a combination of melody and tempo that forms the basic unit of a song. Punk tends to be chord based and the tempo to be simply 'as fast as possible' hence it loses me. But even a relatively tight genre definition like 'Grunge' is inadequate given the vast gulf between a seminal band like Nirvana, a borderline metal act like Soundgarden and what in the 90's I considered 'Grunge for Girls' in Pearl Jam.

In fact while Pearl Jam may be 1/3rd of seattle's big 3, I would put it in the other 'big 3' being the '90's girl's album collection - Pearl Jam, Jeff Buckley and Ben Harper. Those three bands combined so often in my female friends playlists that you'd think they would logically belong to the same genre. But no, they have nothing in common, Buckley being a cover band, Ben Harper being Folk Rock and Pearl Jam being Grunge.

The genres are largely meaningless except to hard core genre fans and they in turn are largely meaningless to greater society aka the mass market. I just called it 'alternative' because in Ballarat there was Power FM which played the spice girls and Video Hits that played clip after clip of groups dancing in futuristic hallways, and then there was triple j, recovery and rage that played everything else. Not the syrup for the mass market, but still pretty massive and this was the 'alternative' in the 90s.

But yeah, seeing Dave Navarro play guitar was sweet, fucking sweet because it's always great to see somebody who really knows their vocation, a master of their instrument. Now, I might lose some of you here because Dave Chappelle's sketch is funny because it has a basis in truth - many people are glad to see the death of 80's overplaying.

I think beyond white people loving guitars and black people loving drums and latino's loving electric keyboards, I would add that in my teenage experience females seem far more partial to acoustic music while males seem to prefer (or have greater preference for) amplified music. Acoustic and Punk tend to be chord based, rather than note based in generating melodies and once again the simplistic riffs come across as boring to me.

So maybe due to the various emasculating market forces that are bringing men cosmetics, tight jeans, crash dieting and everything else to make men as profitable and feeling as ugly as a woman, it was natural that the chord based accoustic music that started with 'Time of Your Life' and has brought us acts like 'Mountain Goats' and other folksy type stuff.

Or it could just be that the balance has shifted from melody to rythm thanks to hip-hop becoming the mainstream over the latter half of the 90's listened to by more suburban white boys than African Americans by a factor of 10-1 (or something).

Jane's addiction represent a now dying era where the guitar was played like this:

Such that to me it appears that these days this is how the guitar is played:

Now hopefully if you checked out both clips you will be hearing this song through my ears and maybe they will be fresh ears. Just as when John K talks about how great packaging used to be vs how much modern day sucks he contrasts it in a way that allows me to see it through his eyes.

But yeah, I also know (myself included) that 80's overplaying was a bit over the top, all the 'wiggidawiggidawiggidawiggidawiggidawiggidawiggidawiggida-Wow!' solo's and stadium rock and the charity festivals and shit people just got tired of it, it got too big and large and people couldn't handle the bombardment.

Navarro clearly has hangovers from the 80's style metal solos, but I think the difference between riff based rock and solo/overplaying based rock is finding that sweet spot between melody and rythm in your riff creation. The music scene I identify with emerged out from the flavor of the day which was Hair-metal that I find emasculated and just generally crappy (I can enjoy it now in a more kitsch way) that was Guns 'N Roses, Aerosmith, Mr. Big, Poison, Warwick etc. or as Mike 'Puff' Bordin put it in an interview about Faith No More's origins 'Guys who wore white sneakers and sang ballads'.

Jane's being one of the forgotten founders of the alternative scene (a lot of material I read in the 90's attributed it to Smashing Pumpkins, which is a bit like saying Obama is a contributor to the civil rights movement rather than a recipient [Which is what many people do say]) They have riffs rooted in the bass line that create space for a modest (awesome) amount of solo's and improv on guitar, drums etc.

Again though, I realise many people actually hate solo's. Many people hate rock. The wool was lifted from my eyes going on booze cruises and instead of rotating through the albums of the 1994 woodstock lineup, teenagers were grooving along to Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl'. A lot of people hate rock. I appreciate that, they like folk, accoustic and groan audibly at the concept of a solo.

The riff is what I look for, the pinacle of riffage is probably 'Killing In The Name Of' by Rage Against the Machine, no other track combines so many great riffs into one explosive song, but they do. I groan at the thought of having to endure an hour of chord based songs. Be it punk or folk.

Now it may be said that I'm trying to make a scientifically objective case for why my taste in music is superior. On the contrary, the Vampire Weekend track up top is a good song, sure I'm appalled that somebody would pick up the guitar and want to play it that way, but at the same time I believe in the core of my grey grey soul, that virtuosity and technical ability should never get in the way of good songwriting.

Scott McCloud in 'Making Comics' made up some jungian type 'artistic camps' for comic books that probably apply to all forms of arts. You have 'animist' that believe in storytelling above all else, don't let the artwork, or technical ability detract from the underlying story. What serves the story makes all the decisions for you. Every song has a story and if solo's don't help, don't do them.

Then I think punk is equivalent to comics 'iconoclast' which I personally hate. But it is where it's all about 'not selling out' and given that I'm 'animist-clasicist' in my approach, I find it hard to empathise with this artistic vision, I find it pretentious and self indulgent. I'm sure the reverse is true. I believe it is an important message though and shouldn't be done away with, but when it is in vogue I find it unbearable. In nutshell, it's the philosophy that 'everyone deserves a voice' this I can agree with, what bugs me is that in practice it tends to produce 'everyone deserves a voice - even if they have nothing worth saying' like punk bands with no message that contributes anything that the Sex Pistols haven't said already AND as says 'Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.' and I fully appreciate the irony of posting that on my blog.

But I lean towards the classicist camp which is all about steadily building on the craftsmenship of those that preceded me. Annoyingly it seems we are doomed to live life bemoaning the state of things and talking nostalgically about 'Golden Eras' for which in music I feel was the 60's and 90's where technical proficiency was met with relative creative freedom. Just like John K's Ren & Stimpy was a breakout cartoon because he was a classicly trained animator finally given license to create a cartoon that wasn't a marketing campaign for some toy.

The culmination is the riff, watch people (if you can keep still) at a punk concert vs. one of the 90's riff based bands that headline - Punk appears to consist of raising one hand and headbanging furiously, where in the alternative acts, people's movements are simple, but complex - the head still nods but slower than punk and their torso twists in rythm, dropping one shoulder or the other and their are micro 'static' positions where the movement changes directions.

Same thing happens with hip hop due to the complexity of the beats, but often the emotions are monochromatic (to me, my love of hip-hop is the combo of wordplay and beats) in the mainstream macho-posturing, I'm great, nothing more and often less.

The last thing I'll talk about is the guitars role on a stage. In punk it becomes a drum almost. rythmic strumming of the cords, but when somebody is A grade like Navarro and 'can play' as we say, then we are talking about Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000 hour' rule, they master the guitar, and it becomes a voice. It speaks a tonal language, but can be manipulated almost as expressively as a human voice. The great guitar players are often on even footing with a bands 'front man' typically the vocalist. Often they are the same person, and in the cases where the vocalist is pretty lacklustre, outshine them.

it's because these great guitarists have invested the time to get a voice from their instrument, they can speak through it like Terminator X speaks with his hands. You hear the voice and don't know the words, but you know how it feels and this is lost when reduced to cord strumming, they simply serve as compliments to the vocals not a stand alone voice that articulates emotions without any semantic confusion.

Lost you? I'm surprised if you got this far, what an essay my simple epiphany was. But Bryce went to a Big Day Out and saw Lupe Fiasco that year and told me the next week that he 'never wanted to see another guitar on stage again' and I sympathised with him, because most guys on a stage are doing little more than holding a guitar and acting pretentious. I'm sure there are competent guitarists out there they are underground, teenagers that are obsessed with the early 90's, late 80's and early 70's late 60's acts. I just hope they come to the fore again soon, a decade of strummers is wearing me thin. I'll do what I can to create a platform for them... if I ever get the means.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Named and Shamed/Freedom vs. Equality

This is a response to the explosive op-ed piece 'Named & Shamed' found below, to which I will add my combustability.

The basic argument is that whilst many women now choose to keep or hyphenate their maiden* name, most kids are automatically given their paternal surname. This should change, that kids may have their maternal surname...?

I won't really argue against it, in fact I guess it's the same sort of consciousness raising as pointing out how referring to human achievements as 'man's achievements' and 'mankind' and all that shit makes women feel, and if it makes them feel small, belittled or disrespected it should stop. So really as far as I can be 'for' this maternal surname recognition equality stuff, I guess I'm for it.

But I just see this as an argument between two parents ego's. Striving for equality (and it is unequal now) rather than freedom which is the viewpoint and rights of a child:

1. The 'Family' line is a Fantasy.

One of the most powerful passages (when you think of history and how many people have died or been forced into marriages to protect a family dynasty) in Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene is as follows:

When we die there are two things we can leave behind us: our genes and memes. We are built as gene machines, created to pass on our genes. But that aspect of us will be forgotten within three generations. Your child, even your grandchild may bear a resemblance to you, perhaps in facial features, or a talent for music, in the colour of her hair. But as each generation passes, the contribution of your genes is halved. It does not take long for it to reach negligable proportions. Our genes may be immortal but the collection of genes that is any one of us is bound to crumble away. Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of William the Conquerer. Yet it is quite probable that she bears not a single one of the old king's genes.

Gene's and memes. That's it, and neither are preserved with much fidelity between generations. I mean even with memes much of the core values my grandparents possess like views on foreigners, religion, homosexuality, freedom, nationalism etc. are already lost on me, which means they are lost within 2 generations. My gene composition resemblance should last a generation longer. Thus I would argue that the family line is a temporary state centered on the parental generation as a medium between their parents and their children, the family is really a unit most concentrated between parents and children in their youth till majority.
The influence of family on identity deteriorates from there.

The point being, that there isn't much point to being named after somebody four generations your senior, the chances of you resembling them beynd being a member of the human race, or thinking like them are slim to nil.

2. A Question of Ownership

Parents don't own their children, their children own them. Parent(s) choose to bring a child into the world, the child doesn't choose them. I also kind of think all children are accidents. My birth was planned, but seriously my parents couldn't have planned on having me. They had trouble planning whether I was a boy or a girl.
Parents are responsible for providing their children with food, shelter, & security through their vulnerable infancy, and that's all. That they effect the identity of their offspring is an inevitable by product of rendering these services. If they are unable then the responsibility is taken up by the state via the social safety net.
Germane Greer in the Female Eunuch talks about the tyranny of mother-hood in the chapter 'Baby' as below, I was glad to see this prejudice or allusion to a child being the mothers property or even achievement was addressed:

'The intense absorption of the baby in one human being... is a necessary factor in the development of the character which is considered normal in our society. The prejudice against the substitution of any other person or number of persons for the omnipotent mother is very strong indeed'

3. What's in a Name?

My name is 'tohm' that's how I think of it. The name on my license, passport and birthcertificate are the names of a stranger, I don't identify with my full name. When I hear it, or even derivations like 'Tom' I think 'how quaint' or 'gee this person hasn't seen me in ages'.
Most people though stick with what I consider a 'placeholder name'. That is some given name decided on by the parents and as per convention a surname same as the father. Then you can trace that surname's derivations through the paternal line (which is largely meaningless) back to some ancestor. I know of at least one 'rare' family name that came about through a clerical error when the family migrated to Australia, specifically a typo changing their official name.
Most though in the western sphere are regional based some paternal ancestors home town like 'Da Vinci' means 'Of Vinci' and 'Toscano' means 'Tuscan' and largely shed no light on the family identity apart from the knowledge that they didn't have a vocation (eg. Medici) esteemed enough to warrant a vocation based surname. But very few Smiths are still Smiths, even fewer Fletchers are still Fletchers and the 'Hill' for which my Grandfather was named is now long lost to memory.

Names have little intrinsic information as to somebodies identity. They may prejudice people one way or another given your older siblings, father, mother etc. but their main use is to distinguish two people in a group that share the same common name. Though more often a nickname will suffice.

I like nicknames by the way, they are peer given and more often telling of character than given names or surnames.

4. Who's Ego?

All surnames in our society are paternal, which was the first thing that struck me. The argument then is not really about women's right to name their children for their father over their husband. I'm sure nobody thinks of it that way, but that they be able to name the child after a name they have come to identify with themselves.

Setting aside how uneven the current convention is, if the mother has come to identify with a paternally derived surname then it suggests that people would adopt any name given them into their identity.

My mother gets upset that I insist on being 'tohm' and her feelings are hurt that I won't keep the name she chose me. But she could have called me 'Penis Dickface Cock' (which if I survived childhood I probably would have kept) and wider society wouldn't blame me for adopting a new name. Her feelings are hurt because she interprets it as resistance to her ownership of me. Which is true, I don't understand the way she talks about my achievements (or lack thereof) as if they are her own particularly when more often than not she hasn't contributed or has actively opposed my efforts to get them.

Which makes her sound like a bitch, but she isn't she's just a standard mother. Loving, supporting, anxious. I wouldn't take her maiden name ever though because I associate it with her father, who was a dick, and 'head' of the family. Even the word 'maiden' name is these days a misnomer. Few brides are 'maidens' having already broken their 'maidenhead' long before marriage.

5. Property Rights.

The 'Named and Shamed' article builds the child's surname argument from the more accepted practice of Brides that keep their own names or hyphenate. Identity is part of this argument, but the major hurdle it overcomes is the tradition of marriage that is a property transaction between father to son-in-law. Over many years western society has gotten rid of the dowry, the payment to relieve the son-in-law's family from the burden of taking on another woman. But the father still 'gives away' the bride, the engagement ring still marks the bride as the groom's property, and the surname indicates that the grooms family has taken possession of the bride.

I get slightly annoyed at the number of girls that will be all 'that's right' and 'rock on' for the keeping the surname argument but will then flash their engagement rings in a display of conspicuous consumption.

But I would say, the surname argument begins and ends with property, and as it applies to children I happily agree that as it stands it could be more equal (given that surnames have no intrinsic meaning) and would cost little but ego to do so to aportion the egotism more evenly between the genders.

But this would mean that both were doing something that deep down is really vile equally. And equality isn't freedom.

6. Japan!

In Japan if a family produces only daughters (like commodities) then traditionally the parents would find a second son from another family to adopt into the family. He takes his brides surname and becomes head of the family or the next generation. This is because the Japanese take the 'family identity' thing really, really, seriously to the extent that a man with no male heirs will adopt a son just to preserve the family name.

In Japan, unless you are an intimate friend of somebody you refer to them as 'Handa san' or 'Kimura san' or 'Takehashi san' not their first names, but their family names. In Japanese highschools not only do the students address teachers as 'Mr Smith' but the teachers address students by surname as well.

As a foreigner you may not notice it in your direct experience. Most Japanese people adopt a 'When in Rome' attitude to living in our first name societies, plus foreigners never suspect anything is wrong with referring to somebody by first name. ur intimate treatment of strangers in Japan probably endears foreigners to the locals.

So Japan is like a step backwards with its emphasis on being identified with a family or clan first and individual second, and it is a very very patriarchal society, but the answer also comes from Japan.

The samurai traditionally were given a name at birth, that was kind of like a nickname:

A samurai was usually named by combining one kanji from his father or grandfather and one new kanji. Samurai normally used only a small part of their total name.
For example, the full name of Oda Nobunaga would be "Oda Kazusanosuke Saburo Nobunaga" (織田上総介三郎信長), in which "Oda" is a clan or family name, "Kazusanosuke" is a title of vice-governor of Kazusa province, "Saburo" is a name before genpuku, a coming of age ceremony, and "Nobunaga" is an adult name. Samurai were able to choose their own first names.

Tokugawa Ieyasu the most famous and influential shogun. Arguably the supreme patriarch of Japan's cultural heritage was born Matsudaira Takechiyo, he chose his own name and made up the most (or second most, after the Emperor's) famous family name in Japan's history.

7. Frank and Franklin Jr.

Show me somebody who knows who their great great grandfather was and I will show you 4 generations of under achievers. The only real time a person would arguably gain from adopting their parents identity over their own is when they can ride on the previous generations coat tails.
But more often than not, you do your child no favors by calling them Jr. Just look at the success of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's son FDRJR in politics, who was crushed by the expectations heaped upon him, or the dazzling career of Frank Sinatra Jr as a singer.
I haven't thought much about having kids, but I actually don't like the idea of them being associated with me by my name. I don't like the thought of them inheriting some legacy or being judged by my actions. I want them to have a clean slate, neither unduly advantaged or disadvantaged. In the same way that Gates and Buffet will give away their vast fortunes for charity rather than passing it on to their children who haven't done anything to earn it.
Ideally my kid would be given a place holder name, and then I have no doubt that when they reach 16-18 somewhere they would choose their own name through a natural trial and error evolution process like I did.

8. Freedom

In Nelson Mandela's long walk to freedom that he is still walking as far as I know, I was surprised to learn that South African Apartheid was arranged into 3 tiers, first there was the white master race, then the intermediary 'coloureds' like the Indian workers (Ghandi being the most famous of them) and way down at the bottom the indegenous Africans.
In prison, Mandela was forced to wear shorts (initially) to infantilise him and his peers, where the Indian prisoners recieved pants.
To me the argument of maternal surname (which is maternal's paternal) vs paternal surname is like putting energy into Africans right to wear pants in prison. It puts them on equal footing with another slightly less oppressed ethnicity, but it is a far cry from freedom which is the real prize.

Evening up the naming rights would be an improvement to a practice I find fundamentally wrong. The only arguments for surnames are the practical ones - the only one being to distinguish between two people with the same first name. But why not just use street name or suburb? (sure it would make it easier for kidnappers) or any arbitrary surname. Anything but one that suggests that children don't belong to themselves. Why not name them for the families breed of dog. At least Labradors have intrinsic associated qualities (hungry and friendly), unlike Fletchers, Smiths, Bakers and Farriers.

Furthermore, your husband or wife is somebody you have chosen to be with (in most countries) so why not take their surname. You didn't choose your parents. Why not institute a surname swap, or have some standard 'Von' type prefix and then take their first name as your surname, 'tohm of michelle's' or something, we should fancy it up with some French.

Maybe I'm the only one who sees it this way, but I doubt it after all there is a book on family called 'they screw you up'. I know too many great people that have been completely fucked over by the 'property of the family' treatment, parental expectations, institutionalised feelings of guilt and debt to people you would never choose as friends. I've been lucky my family is pretty benign, but why take the risk? I would definitely allow for the possibility my kids will think I'm a total cunt, its their life I hope they choose to spend time with me not feel obliged to.

9. Men are Not Free

Every time the Women's movement seems to get derailed, it is usually because it has been striving for equality rather than freedom. A woman's choice of profession is an important right, but to have a 'career' under the same system as men is equality not freedom.

The one time I walked out on Claire in our relationship was when she treated me like a man, namely I had quit my shitty job and she blasted me (as far as she blasts anything, which isn't as explosiony as it sounds, more like a nagging lecture) about being responsible and shit. Which ticked me off, I had no fiscal responsibility to her, we weren't sharing rent or anything like it, she was just my girlfriend. If the situation had reversed I would have been all like 'good on you' and looked forward to sleeping in. I would have paid her the respect of assuming she knew her own financial situation well enough to make the call.

Men have the advantage over women of seldom considering their partner's income when forging their financial goals, but men are still expected to be breadwinners, as Greer points out when she talks about 'How much men hate women' they do percieve women as a trap (or did traditionally) they get married, have kids, get a mortgage and bang! trapped in their life. The lack of insecurity to pursue different interests and career paths is not freedom, men are not free. Having a job that draws on the talent reservoir is preferable to being trapped in a house doing cleaning and fussing over kids, and equality in career paths is a step forward. But now the way everyone approaches work (as just one example) needs to be rethought to achieve freedom. As Greer sagely notes, until we recognise Insecurity is freedom, we cannot be free.

Ben Franklin or Jefferson or one of them said 'Those who would trade their liberty for a little security deserve neither' and this was way before women's suffrage. (I guess its fair to assume the 'those' they were talking about were white men). Equality is only the big picture when you are striving for equality with somebody free. A jailor is relatively free, in that they can quit their job where the prisoner can't, but they still have to go to prison.

It's easy in South Africa for the indigenous Africans to see that it was the Whites they had to strive for equal footing with not the Indians, and they ended up taking all oppressed minorities (majorities) with them. With Gender it's different, Men occupy the superior, but no such truly free gender exists, everyone suffers in some way from the gender role subscribed to them, the male role is preferable but far from perfect. Fighting for an equal opportunity to be a wage slave, or to foist your identity on an unsuspecting child may be valid in terms of equality but they are battles, when nobody seems to be fighting the war.

Seeing Faith No More

I think I've been to the greatest concert ever. Apart from an isolated pocket of anti-social behaviour (smoking tobacco in a mosh pit) the crowd was great. The music was great, it was all life affirming and like most great things hard to put into words.

So here's some highlights in a rare positive take for me on interacting with large numbers of human beings.

1. User Generated Crowd Control.

Some people are dicks, it can't be helped. Some piece of their X or Y chromosome is missing that makes them think they should get trashed to the point they can barely stand up at a concert that most fans are grateful to be at and wouldn't dream of numbing their perceptual filters for a second.
So the vast majority was just picking up these douchebags in an 'involuntary crowd surfing' moment to simply get them out of the crowd. They would be dropped into the arms of security and ejected from the pit. Then you would see some guy getting pats on the back from other guys.

2. Nice Guys.

I foolishly wore my glasses. Which was fine for songs like 'Easy' and 'This Guys In Love With You' and Faith No More's Easy listening numbers. But not so great for 'Cuckoo for Caca' and so fourth. I should have taken the hint and put them in my pocket when some crowd surfers heel went into my face, but I thought I could handle it. I got greedy, and at one point I dropped them. I gave them up for dead of course. It was too crowded and sweaty and the whole pack was jumping 1 meter side to side with every off beat. But then I felt them under my foot and tried to grab them up in a lul. I found part of a watch which I discarded again, then another guy attempted to look for me and found the same watch, which was nice. And the 7 foot guy infront of me who was my anchor turned around concerned I was actually falling down and about to be trampled. Nice guys everywhere.
I found my glasses, eventually and but their new shape into my pocket. Another guy picked up somebodies discarded shirt which I helped hitch up to him hackey sack style. I thought it was something important to the guy, but he was just like 'hey free shirt' hilarious, until you consider how much everybody was sweating in festival hall.

3. Rock is Dead, but can be Ressurrected.

What of Faith No More itself? If your not a fan I won't bother trying to sell you on their music. Look them up on youtube if your interested or read their Wikipedia Article.
The support act was AFI, and for me they proved once and for all just how bad the current fashions are. I didn't realise it but in the war of masculinity forearm tattoos are completely turned pussy by nut hugging tight jeans. Furthermore their guitarist can play, he was doing the two handed tapping and all that shit. But this was completely diminished by his front mullet, which is the only descriptive term I've heard for the current trendy hairstyle. My sister had the call of the night when she held up her phone with the txt 'These guys are for people too ashamed to admit they lik boy bands'. To me they struck me as 'A Man Inside' rather than 'A Flame Inside' but I'm old and crotchety and conservative when it comes to what rock is. Their rightly embittered fan base who enjoyed a piddling hour long set were into their music. They were braving a room full of 25-35 year olds all wearing black shirts, mysteriously loose fitting jeans or army cams and looked like they would do some serious fucking damage if they turned angry.
But the kids you know, they were really into this AFI stuff, and the second FNM concert only happened because they couldn't come close to selling out festival hall. And I will admit that A Flame Inside struck me as harder hitting than most of what cuts it on triple j these days. But they looked like a pop band compared to FNM and for me it affirmed that music has gone soft pretty much since FNM broke up. I've historically attributed it to 'Mechanical Animals' by Marilyn Manson that really ended the 90's and revived the 80's, but of course, rocking goes in waves and the next generation doesn't necessarily rock harder than the generation that precedes it.
The obvious example would be the 80's. The 90's really started in the late 80's '87-'89 saw Metellica and to a lesser extent Faith No More, Primus, Jane's Addiction coming up and creating alternate rock, alternate to hair metal and glam rock bands like Guns 'N Roses, Posion, Warwick etc.
So if you were at a concert in the 80's of Duran Duran, and Led Zeppelin or Sabbath came out and played a set after them, they same thing would have happened as happened last night, you would have had pissed off 'fans of the day' angry that their concert had been hijacked by old fogies that just plain rocked harder. Duran Duran probably isn't a fair example, maybe more like Roxette than Duran Duran.
So yeah, rock is periodically going to be killed by that portion of the masses that complains 'What happened to all the fashion in music?' but is resurrected by 'I want to feel ways about stuff' crowd.

4. Great Opening Act.

Onto the affirming stuff. AFI made an exit and the roadies came out. Their young fans streamed disgruntedly out of the pit and I headed in. The roadies did their thing. It always seems like an hour but is probably only 20 minutes and they dragged the AFI kit away to reveal Puffs' kit. Which was exciting.
Then a uy with a severe comb over and two plastic cups of water came out in a great way to kick off a FNM concert. Some guy in front of me that must have seen FNM back in '96 or something said 'Harvey Hamburger, Legend' or something.
This guy told lame ass jokes, was it in a nutshell. He started with 'Why did the farmer start a punk rock band? Because he was tired of Haulin' Oats. (Pronounced All-the-notes).
The best one was 'Why did madonna feed her newly adopted child dog food? Well she didn't really have a choice, that's just what came out of her breasts.' and then he screwed up the delivery on 'Why did Madonna post divorce from Guy Ritchie have three roadies shit in her mouth backstage at a concert? Because she is single again.'
The crowd actually booed him when he said 'Why did Metellica cut their hair? Because their hairdresser said it was the only way to get out all the man-cum.' Evidently there's a fair if not total overlap betwixt Mettellica and FNM fans.
The point was though, that everyone was hungering for Faith No More, and this guy just kept going with the jokes. I assumed he was there until the crowd got really pissed off and angry, I thought I could see Puff standing at the side stage where Harvey would look periodically as if to ask 'are they pissed off enough yet?' and then what I thought was puff would gesture to keep going.
The guy said he had 80 jokes and I believed him. Eventually the crowd was just chanting 'Faith No More' in an attempt to drown him out and booing continuosly and yelling out 'Fuck off' and stuff. I just thought, what a great way to warm up a crowd. Like cockteasing at a rock concert.

5. The Band.

They rocked and rocked hard. They talked to the crowd, they have so much good stuff (3 5 star albums and 1 4 star album, in my own opinion one that seemed to be shared by everyone in the room). So it's impossible for them to do a live set. For those who it means anything too the set included (but not necessarily limited to): Reunited Again, From Out of Nowhere, Digging the Grave, Last Cup of Sorrow, King For A Day, Midlife Crisis, Be Aggressive, Surprise Your Dead, Epic, Easy, Poker Face, Ashes To Ashes, A 'Don't Dream It's Over' refrain, This Guy's In Love With You, As the Worm Turns, Who Cares A Lot, Just A Man, Caffeine, Gentle Art Of Making Enemies, Stripsearch... and now its testing my memory. Which is to say, no concert is 'unforgettable' it's an experience.
Poker Face was particularly interesting, the Faith No More rendetion really proves how laughable A) considering Lady Gaga avant guard is. B) That a band like Faith No More can totally rock out a pop song, then all the 'hardcore' acts of the day really aren't pulling their weight in their ability to put balls into their music. It was also good because virtually no fans of FNM know the words to Poker Face, which prevented them from drowning out Patton's vocals which was rare in the concert.
During 'Surprise You're Dead' this big guy appeared next to me, and he was REALLY fucking into that song. He was 'dancing' like I was feeling and I totally empathised with him. He was jabbing his albows and thrusting his fists like a prize fighter who had just won the whole fucking bakery. Like a babboon getting ready to rip your face off. It was awesome.

6. Roddy Bottum.

Roddy Bottum is openly gay, as of 1993, traditionally, metal and punk rock, alt rock etc isn't associated with the gay community, the crossover being more in the Sphere of REM (Even though Micheal Stipe waited till 2001 to make any definitive statements about his sexuality), George Michael and Elton John.
But Roddy Bottum has helped composed some of the hardest hitting, epic, rock tracks of all time. It's great to see, really, how irrelevant his sexuality is. I hope it encourages other gay men to fucking rock.

7. Mike Bordin.

I didn't see much of Bordin, he played mostly up the back occassionally strolling up to the microphone for back up vocals. The guy is a positive roll model for pudgy bearded men everywhere. I don't think his bass lines have been showcased better than 'The Real Thing' which was their first Patton Album, but the guy doesn't necessarily play anything complicated, just simple and hard hitting. It hits you right in the balls. He cuts a fine figure and is really a clear cut case of somebody that looks like one of your friends dad's being way way cooler than your friend.

8. Puff.

Mike Patton and Puff were in line from my vantage point. There is nothing that can be said of Puff that would add to 'the guy can play' they played the tracks that really showcase just how good he is - namely Mid Life Crisis and Cookoo For Caca, as well as some of the more punk rock tracks. The guy is committed to being white and having dreads. That's a lifetime of torment but he's stood by it.

9. Mike Patton.

Is really uncontenstably the best vocalist ever, and one of the best front men. I don't really like the concept of front men, but you can't deny Patton is. His presence somewhat detracts from the crowd, because to a lesser extent than Eddie Vedder and Anthony Keidas, he attracts the annoying 'sexual fans' which I'm sure he loves over a sausage fest. But like Vedder and Keidas, the band wouldn't be the band without him, so you have to take the bad for the good. I've said plenty about Patton over the years, but the guy just performs, my voice is shot today and I wasn't screaming like he was, so I have no idea how the guy can back it up night after night. I hope for the sake of the suckers going tonight his voice isn't shot.
He'd clearly lost about 5 kilo's since the Download Festival last year, no doubt from the constant touring. So I didn't mind so much that his shirt was tucked into his pants. Also he dived into the crowd at one point and I touched his head. Stupid I know but I was starstruck. I didn't need to be any closer as it turned out.

10. The Guitarist. I don't know his name even, the concert if it was missing anything was Jim Martin's crazy hair. But having said that, Jim Martin is probably missing his hair. The guy could play, and he played the solo's which it wouldn't be a FNM concert without. I appreciate the guy.

So after the concert I was drenched in sweat with mashed glasses, but I was happy. Very happy. Way more happy than anything could piss me off. Thus the strange blend in any concert of how much you love the band and how much you hate the dicks in the crowd was skewed way towards the love of the band last night. Sure the crowd was a little uncoordinated, like any impromptu mass movement will be, but that was on the whole forgivable making the experience 99% up 1% down. Sure the 'perfect' concert could still top it, but I doubt it ever will. We should all keep striving though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


If I had to name one pet peeve with most professionals it is the repeated claim that they are 'busy' and in particular 'too busy'. Ask someone to elaborate it's surprising how many times (about 30%) they actually can't.

People spend a lot of time at work. Time they are compensated for no matter how meagerly they think they are. But they people who can't substantiate their claims of business are not just annoying but concerning.

Concerning because overwork leads to so many problems. Firstly the health ones, the longer hours you do the less likely you are to prepare your own meals, then you spend less time on yourself, and you are not the inexhaustable reservoir of energy, and more importantly ideas that you think you are.

It's like when Terry Pratchett said that aspiring fantasy authors have to read outside the genre of fantasy. Any ambitious career person has to spend time looking outside the prism of your company. A company is its own microcosm and are prone to living in their own reality rather than the greater reality of the marketplace. A few employees will have daily customer and end user contact, but many in marketing, accounting, IT, logistics etc. can come close to never having contact with the end of their value chain.

Work suffers because you suffer. Your lack of personal interests and relationships shrinks your range of stimuli, like trying to get new ideas from a painting by looking at the one painting again and again. You tick people off who like you and want to spend time with you. You probably have a more involved relationship with your boss than your own father or mother at times.

I mean spend time with people you choose to be with and who choose to be with you. When you aren't forced together and defined by an organisational chart you have the opportunity to use real people skills as opposed to corporate ones.

That's just speaking of the work life balance. Many people won't attempt to achieve it because they are 'too busy', ie. their job somehow depends on them working overtime every day.

The adage 'the work expands to fill the time available' is true. Furthermore your average person is terrible at time management and prioritising. It is almost everyones natural inclination to 'feed a crying child' that is, they confuse urgent with important. Many can't see a difference between the two.

That's why claims to be 'busy' are so infuriating. Why the fuck would anyone have a contract that says '9-5' for a job that actually requires '8-6' or greater? Have your employers lured you into a position under false pretenses? In my experience I highly doubt it. Most people who are most 'enthusiastic' for lack of a better word think they are getting ahead by doing it.

Like 'urgent' and 'important' they confuse 'work' with 'value' and can't see a difference between the two. I think most people create most of their value in any given task or job in about 3 hours of their day, maybe less. I draw on average for 1.5-2 hours per day and get tremendous value out of the exercise, making steady progress. More progress than I made in a week at my old job.

There are some exceptions though, but they aren't what you'd think. Sure surgeons performing 8 hour procedures shouldn't look at the clock on the wall after 3 hours and say 'close him up, we've already contributed 80% of the value' but they work in a rare profession where urgency and importance actually correlate - saving lives. What I was thinking of is more like my part time job now - call center work. The task is pretty rote and repetitive, and provided you can stay in a good professional mood you can contribute value for 6-7 hours to the same standard. The only caveat being that your throat may wear out.

But again, when you are performing market research your goals and productivity are absolute, and very measurable. Surveys per hour, refusal rates and so on. Most 'knowledge workers' if you ask them what the companies objective is will come up with an elaborated version of 'more'.

Management standards are so low in Australia that it is rare to see a manager. (most often called 'Director' 'Vice President' or 'CEO') You spot more frequently another worker with an inflated title. No management is actually done, but they will occasionally exercise authority.

Thus in your average organisation you will see an extended line of chinese whispers where priorities get mutated or forgotten down the 'chain of command' few 'managers' will perform adequate anual reviews, just like few will write an honest reference letter. In summary, few people have any idea why they are busy, as in what productive work they are actually meant to do. They just want to do more, and feel that more is the answer. Not better, not strategic, not smarter, just more.

So it really gets up my nose when people tell me they are too busy, especially too busy to plan. Anyone that doesn't have a plan that says in concrete terms what they are trying to achieve cannot substantiate that they are busy. A person that doesn't have scheduled their actual priorities from said plan cannot tell me where their time goes, and thus cannot be busy.

These people tick me off because they are my friends, and they could be so much happier, healthier and nicer, and have more time to spend with me and their other friends AND be better at their job if they spent less time doing more and more time doing the right things. I can't blame them directly a lot of social conditioning and bad management standards have often encouraged them into the fallacy of 'busy' but I can get angry when they tell me they are too busy to change.

Because its the equivalent of saying 'I'm too busy to be better at my job'. Plus I actually have a trauma surgeon friend and he finds plenty of time to catch up. So anyone not stitching up car crash and drunken brawl victims really has no excuse and no right to call themselves 'busy'.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Subjective Love of Human Foibles

I'm a big fan of N8 Van Dyke's work in particular his Dutch series. So while browsing through his collection I found this.

I love this picture, the expression and gesture had me laughing to myself all yesterday.

I'm still laughing. It makes me fall in love with the moronic human race again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taking the Kid Gloves Off

As near as I could guess, 80% of girls have in their past some ex who turned stalker, took it poorly, threatened to kill himself or some other wacked out scheme designed to load a girl up with emotional baggage that haunts them for the rest of their future relationships. Specifically it haunts their relationships with every other ex.

The other 20% btw, is where I would guess the girls simply don't have a boyfriend in those formative highschool-college years wear they are most likely to go crazy and burn their name in their front lawn when they get dumped. Which is really exchanging one lot of baggage for another.

But as my mother's new principal wisely said 'these kids are not "problem kids" they just have problems and everybody has problems.' thus thuserson I'm trying to establish here what we all know already:

I am probably not that special.

Nevertheless in my own checked baggage their is a bag labelled 'distrust'. If I'm honest about one of my most limiting hangups, I assume people don't trust me, and their is just something about me that does not inspire trust. I don't know what it is, if I had to guess it is probably all the nasty comments I made in pretty much every social situation till recently that I passed off as 'wit'.

But I don't know. My ghosts of girlfriends past though often reinforce this by treating me with kid gloves as though they were on constant alert that I would douse myself in petrol and set myself on fire.

I usually take the hint, albeit often slowly and just fuck right out of their lives completely rather than pose a constant threat of... well whatever it is they imagine I am being protected from.

Don't know what I'm talking about probably the most brazen example I can give is:

'love you friend,' as a signoff. I must admit most ex's simply drop the 'love' or 'xox' signoff as their way of avoiding mixed messages, but this was an amusing qualifier to make sure I didn't interpret brotherly love as the love between a man and a woman.

Admittedly, the kid glove treatment comes from a compassionate and caring place, and probably is a practical level of caution. Because when people get dumped, they do go crazy, due to the massive change of the chemical coctail in their brain. But the treatment does get tired and condescending after 6 months or so, particularly when you haven't had any 'incidents' in that time, and should at least definitively cease once you have been broken up for longer than you dated.

Yet often it is simply there to stay. I can live with that, girls live in a world populated by bigger, stronger, emotionally repressed morons and they have to look after themselves. I'll cop that, what I've decided to conscientiously stop is buying into the whole scheme.

Example, often I feel that in order to gain an ex's trust I should show an active interest in their new relationship, which in all honesty, most of the time I simply don't care. My working theory though is that being open and receptive to the reality of their future relationships I can demonstrate to them that I am emotionally stable enough to be trusted with this important part of their lives (often its almost as important as a career).

You know just like with any other friend where you are all like: 'And how's Juan Ignacio?' you aren't prompting to find out if they are single, you are just asking in the same way you ask 'How's your mum and dad?' unless you are that rare friend hoping for news that their parents marriage is on the rocks so you can move in on mum or dad and become your friends new parent in the process...hmmm.

Most of these are just talking points, questions to carry a conversation forward and sometimes or often provide some stimulating piece of news. 'My new boyfriend is a gun slinging ninja bandit.' etc.

But I'm going to stop asking ex's about their relationships, not because I don't care, find the talk dull or otherwise (if these things do occur it is accidental to my argument, I can't make people date interesting people can I. Can I?) but because I'm doing it for the wrong reasons, more or less, I'm apologising that I'm as trustworthy as a ticking time bomb.

In the spirit of 'let right be right' fuck them. If they don't want to trust that I'm not going to break down, cry then shoot up everyone in the postal office if they mention that they are getting married in the spring, fuck them. At the very least it will give a cool, dangerous edge to my character. I've never been able to capitalise on the bad boy edge anyway.

And if they don't want to invite me to the housewarming because they don't trust me to not raid their CD collection - well fuck it I just won't go.

I'm going to stop trying to train myself out of behaviour I never had in order to get a pat on the head from somebody who doesn't love me anymore, just to try and overcome an image problem that could be no fault of my own, but some dickwad they dated in highschool.

I remember quitting a door to door sales job (a fond memory for anybody) after I talked to an ex where I just got pissed off at the kid glove treatment. I quit the field early that day and got a lift to the trainstation. The guy Chris on the team told me to scribble her name out of the phonebook (I didn't get a mobile until after university) and that 'being friends' was 'easy to say hard to do'.

I think I always just thought the 'hard to do' part was more of a challenge. I do genuinely wish I could be friends with my ex's they've all been pretty cool people, but its hard to be friends with people who don't trust you and just tip-toe around you. Okay it's a bit different if your friends don't trust you not to do some borderline gay-shit when they are drunk and pass out. It's relatively easy to be friends with those people.

But the friends that treat you like a car with a hyper sensitive alarm that goes off, perhaps are just not worth the trouble of putting on the metaphoric protective gear for each encounter. Perhaps that sales rep that told me 'hard to do' should have appended 'so hard and tiresome it often isn't worth the effort'.

Bitter, dark, emotional... but you know, baby steps.

News Just In: Elvis is Dead

If I ever do take on the world in some fight to the death. This is the track I would use to psyche up before coming out.

or les originales here. (features pigs)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chunking Express

Before you correct me Harvard, the typo is intentional, it is my last ditch effort to come up with a creative name for this post.

To chunk is computer nerd lingo for compressing some recurring piece of programming down into a simple term, so you can compress big pieces of code into small strings of symbols and you see, my typo is clever because... Oh fuck it who cares.

I watched Chung King Express because I'd never seen anything by Wong Kar Wai before but somebody had told me that the past 2 decades of directing have really been his and Tarentino's. Now to put anyone in the same sentence as Tarintono is a pretty big claim. I guess unless it's Eli Roth or Robert Rodrigez in which its a non-statement.

Do I even mean what I say I am meaning? Ahh... I'm tired.

Anyway, this may be really uncool, but I really liked the ending of this film, it was beautiful. It may seem painful, like a movie about not getting any, but at the risk of sounding like Harvard when he claims 'in the mood for love ruined my life' I really related to the ending of this film.

I couldn't relate at all to the long drawn out, girl breaking into guys apartment every day for what must have been months, that was just weird and way way too repetitively tedious, but in the end... and here's what I suspect is uncool so if you haven't seen it I'm going to give you a sentence of generic text to avoid the temptation of reading a spoiler.

Lorum ipsum lick my balls, cogito ergo sum, post hoc prop something something ergo prop.

I like when Faye is drawing out the boarding pass, and asks Richard where he wants to go and he says 'wherever you want to take me' or something to that effect. That's my definition of 'true' love, or perhaps how to ask for it.

When I was lucid again in the prolonged (by my perception of time) breakup with Monkey-hands and we were conversing in a rational way (by my perception of reason) I remember in perhaps a barbed gesture mentioning 'I don't know what kind of abandonment issues I'll have from this one.' and while generally I think I've survived my relationships thus far with no real abandonment issues that would make me overprotective or paranoid that I would be walked out on again, I think it manifests in the belief that I am yet to experience that 'true' love.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about 'the one' like some girl that got cheated on at her debutant ball after party with tears streaking through my instatan. I'm talking of that commitment to somebody that is so much more and so much less than a wedding ring.

There's something so cut and dry and dull about marriage to me. As in it's the icing on what had thus far been a tasty nourishing, healthy and affordable cake. This is different, this is the simple beautiful gesture of being asked to come along.

I knew I'd written this somewhere before I watched any Wong Kar Wai, and it was in my overwhelmingly positively recieved 'A Girl's Guide To Break-Ups':

B) You can stop trying to make long distance relationships work, invite your boyfriend to come with you, or move on.

That's just the most blatent example of a sentiment that is repeatedly alarmingly often in that post and any psycho analyst who read it would have stumbled on my abandonment issues long ago.

But it struck me that I've never been invited to stay by someone I've loved, or to come with them. Not even given the option, they simply left me. I tried to follow to some lacklustre extent once, and with lacklustre results. But I feel like the 17 year old girl that's never been kissed, not even at her debutant ball.

Stupid huh? Pathetic huh? But sadly true, perhaps relationships always provide new frontiers, but the next girl I'm with, the kisses will be nice I'm sure, and the sex will be fun, but I'll be pining for the day she tells me of some pending career move, or lifestyle change, or sabatical, or even holiday and actually thinks to ask me if I want to come, instead of being treated like a sofa they are going to have to palm off before they go.

When I think about how nice this would be, I worry that A) I would start crying if it actually happened. B) My abandonment issues are very real. C) That monkey hands will probably point out the time she asked me to go to Belges with her for her friends wedding and I said no because I was a pennyless bum and seem to have conveniently forgotten the offer.

As for the girl I shall codename 'homestaress' the one I made a lacklustre attempt to follow, she illustrates the scenario where her assumption that I wouldn't come with her is probably correct. I wouldn't have, her future was too restrictive for mine to be compatable. But she didn't think to ask, to do me the kindness of coming to the same conclusion on my own.

So yeah, I really liked the ending of Chungking express, if not the 40 minutes of a girl going crazy in some dudes apartment before said ending, but maybe that's just my cultural perspective, making me think that grown men and women having childish conversations with giant stuffed animals is a bit sad and weird.

By the same token the annoying sequence allowed for Tony Leung's sweat line 'I've become more observant...'

4 1/2 clams.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

tohm's Fashion Week (Or 5 things I don't like about fashion): 5

Once again I can't deliver what was promised. I'm going to be positive today. Let's talk reform, how I think clothing should be made. Let's address it in 4 subheadings drawing on this weeks prior complaints:

Increased Mutation:

If you accept and are preturbed by the high fidelity with which fashion is spread globally, then chances are you have devised a bunch of solutions already. But let's talk process - the clothing design starts with you. Remember that even genetics is basically binary, we are the sum of a trillion on/off switches that have created all the mutations that are not only present in the human species, but all species.
So why not start with you? You're somebody, and you occupy a space that is impossible for anyone else to occupy.
Question: By what divine intervention did all the renaissance masters gather in Florence (Firenze) during the renaissance? No divine intervention necessary. Mayhaps a genius like Da Vinci is rare, but you would find in a sample of every million or so, people that are 1/1,000,000 and many of the renaissance masters, were perhaps even less. What's the point?
There is no need to direct your attention towards New York, Paris, London, Tokyo in the hope they are going to say something interesting about fashion. Start with yourself. What do you do? Who do you like? What qualities attract you in other people? Where do you feel you are lacking? Who do you want to be? (dangerous path, globalisation wise, please don't say 'someone from Brooklyn!') where did you grow up? What sports do you play?
Do you see how mutated you are from the fictitious concept of 'the norm'? How the fuck is some designer in Paris, London, Tokyo or New York going to guess all your permeatations?
Let your clothing start with you. Sure a designer of some renoun already may be able to create something you would like to wear, but that does not disqualify everyone else.
My experience with creatives, is that the good ones love to work, love their work, and love you for giving them an opportunity to work. They'll wince and bluff when they try to quote you for the job, because they are desperate to blurt out they'll do it at any price just so long as they get to do it.
Okay maybe that's a little far fetched... word of advice, never treat somebody you want to create something wonderful for you like a bitch/dog/slave.
The qualities you are looking for are 1. someone local. 2. somebody who wants to push themselves. 3. somebody who loves their work. 4. they listen to you, not to trends.
If you cant find people with all 4 qualities, just buy out of season clothing and be happy to be done with style alltogether, by linearly displacing yourself one season behind in time.

Now you need to brief the tailor, here is what you must insist on - 1. that they are making a finished piece not practicing some skill. 2. they are making it for you, you are there most reliable source of information and inspiration to make you happy. and that's it, a one-two punch.
This should promote mutation. And by all means, you need to stop reading the fashion magazines etc. It literally is the case that if someone has taken a photo and put it in a magazine it is already stale. It is already an idea by someone else for somebody else. It is information put their for opinion takers, not opinion makers. Instead read everything else, look at anything else, anything but fashion itself for inspiration.

Full Spectrum Values:

Love yourself first. Stop confusing your dreams and desires too. Write them down, then seperate out each individual achievement. For example - you don't have to be sexy to have a successful career (not even in porn).

Start perhaps with your friends, write down all of them and list the qualities that you find attractive in them. There is this neat reversal trick, where you then write those qualities down about yourself. I.e. if you say 'Jim is a giant of a man' and then write your name 'Eugene is a giant of a man' you'll feel really good about yourself. And it will probably be true.

It's a good way to stop yourself from being sidetracked by the positive quality of your ideal self that you feel an overwhelming need to emulate (ie. sexual attractiveness) and refocus yourself on the smorgasboard of positive qualities you could be choosing to flavour your clothing. 'Giant' should produce some really interesting clothes.

And like I said, if people were learning to design, start with animals, it's also going to fleshout different positive qualities like 'speed' for a cheetah. 'Dignity' for an elephant, 'humanity' for the great apes and so fourthwards.

Any suit, dress, shirt, or pants 'for all occassions' is going to be some monochromatic garment that claims to make you sexy. There's nothing wrong with being sexy, but there are many roads to Bethlehem, or some shit. Power can be sexy, confidence can be sexy, dignity can be sexy, humanity can be sexy. But plain old 'sexy' needn't necessarily actually be 'sexy' particularly when your pubes crop up over your waste line.

How to Be Interesting:

If you simply do something with your life, the interestingness will take care of itself. Try, fail, try again. What? Anything.

Get control of your time, I don't like the concept 'me time' because it sounds like therapy or recuperative process. If you feel like you are being used up by your day to day existence, don't put on a mask or outfit to try and cover it up.

Career going nowhere? Ditch it. Embrace as Germaine Greer says 'Insecurity as freedom', people get into property to give themselves security, I have never met a person who owns a mortgage that radiated security outwards to me. At best they were normal like a renter. Many are more stressed and feel trapped and that's the sad ass truth of it.

This one is a bit negative and it's hard to not be negative when trying to come up with ways to 'not steal other people's identities'. I guess positively it is simply embracing the fact that any attempts to outwardly emulate your role model without adopting their inner traits is doomed to fail. To be a hollow shell of what they represent.

So here's where to start. Buy the plainest outfit you can imagine. Think of it as a 'white room' then over time accumulate your clothing, and subsequently your style when your life demands it. Just as you would gradually be given crap, forced to buy crap for school, and so fourth that would assemble seemingly randomly in your room, how you would pick up books that are interesting, borrow shit and never return it and have ex's leave clothing in your closet just before a very bitter breakup - your clothing will do this too.

Fact 80% of the shirts I wear are gifts from other people. 10% are the promotional shirts that come from events I ran in and the rest I actually bought myself (about 1 a year). It's a great way to accumulate a style, because every gift is a communication about you potentially originating from a blind spot. One caveat though, be weary of partners who buy you clothes in an attempt to 'smarten you up' or otherwise change you. They may be dressing you as their 'ideal' partner, not dressing you as a genuine friend.

Dressing From You:

Here is an abbridged version of 'Horstman's Wager' for job interviews - you the interviewee hopeful for a job offer have two choices 1) be yourself. 2) pretend to be somebody else. Likewise the recruiting officer has two choices A) offer you a job. B) Take a pass.

You end up with:

1A: Offered the job for being yourself - result you love your job and your job loves you.
1B: Rejected from job for being yourself - you successfully avoided a job that wasn't right for you.
2A: Offered the job for pretending to be someone you are not well. You have a job! But you hate it and it hates you.
2B: Rejected for job for pretending to be someone you are not well/poorly. You have no job, and you'll never know whether you would have gotten the job and loved it if you had just been yourself.

Freedom for any individual involves going with option 1. The recruiter will never know whether you are or not, until time passes and it becomes clear you were the right candidate for the job.

Dating is the same, dressing is the same. You have the same two choices. 1) Be yourself. 2) Pretend to be somebody else.

Always, always pick 1. You don't have to apologise for your existence. The only way you can get satisfaction from any other person on earth is as yourself. You cannot Hannah Montana it.

Don't dress like bait on a hook for any old fish to come along. Dress like the fish, or better yet, the fisherman. Either way you would be an enlightened consumer.

Never put on clothing to make yourself invisible, to apologise, or because it will make you more pallatable to somebody else. There is no universal pallet. Some people like durian, others hate it. Some men like armpit hair on a girl, some people hate it. The question is: Do you like it?

Secondly, be conscious, as conscious as you can be of what you consume and why. Keep a journal, your very on fashion journal, and complete this simple sentence:

'I want to wear [item] because [reason]' and be honest as you possibly can. Don't trust yourself, question it.

For example you write 'I wear foundation because it offers SPF protection and keeps my skin relaxed' when you should be writing 'I wear foundation because I feel ugly and can't confidently show my face in public'.

If you do this, you will over time make more intrinsic and informed choices about what you wear and why. And fashion will start to follow. You'll start noticing when people are selling you insecurity instead of security. Like people eventually learn mortgages create stress not peace of mind. (I assume).

Bonus tohm's fashion design school curriculum:

Say you are a designer, not just a consumer. How can I set myself apart (hopefully so I'm not running shows in Paris, London, New York and Tokyo).

Year 1 - character design.

I give you random animals, and you have to design outfits for them. Be they sphere, oblong, crustacean or otherwise. You make no clothes (I wouldn't know how to teach it anyway) then we move onto comic book character design. Here we segue from cartoony animals to cartoony people, and look in depth at the various geometric shapes and motiv's that go into character design for cartoons and comic books.

Year 2 - clothing for people.

6 months of life drawing kicks it off. This is to shake up the concept of beauty. When you start drawing people beauty inverts. The hardest and most tedious people to draw are pretty young girls. You have to omit pretty much every line on the surface of their body, and their bodies are boring, being a smooth collection of 6 to eight curves. People who life draw see a lined old hobo's face and fall in love. I want my designers to experience this.
Second semester you actually meet some people. 6 random people, selected for a variety of heights, shapes, ages and interests. You have to interview them in depth, find their most positive qualities and design a set of clothes for them. Again I wouldn't know how to teach someone to actually make clothes, but presumably we could hand the sketches over to somebody who can and they could haphazardly make the clothing for the people.

Year 3 - Materials and shapes.

Hopefully by then I would have been able to read up on the technical aspects of clothing materials, and also look at more purely geometrical concepts of design. Like what vertical stripe patterns do vs horizontal and so fourth.
This would be the year to embue more architectural ideas into the students so they can innovate and better problem solve, now that they have well and truly had the fundamental process of beginning with the person who wears the clothes drummed into their brain.

That's it, fashion week over. It was fun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

tohm's Fashion Week (Or 5 things I don't like about fashion): 4

In the late 1960's Germaine Greer wrote a book that was quite fashionable to read, caused much controversy and little effect. In the past decade Greer wrote a book that caused a flutter of controversy, almost nobody read it, and the fashion world seems to have adopted its message with gusto.

The book of course is: The Beautiful Boy.

Its avowed intention was "to advance women's reclamation of their capacity for and right to visual pleasure". It is a study of the youthful male face and form, from antiquity to the present day, from paintings and drawings to statuary and photographs.

I haven't read it, it sounds sort of interesting, but in terms of fashion today's thesis as inspired by this book could be called:

One step Forward, Two Steps Back.

Firstly, I'm going to take a stab but in antiquity it seems to me that society was even more patriarchal and mysogenistic than now (even if we have progressed little), and in that regard to suggest that Michelangelo's or the unnown ancient Greek sculptors that made statues of boys weren't thinking of 'women's visual pleasure' but their own, and if women took 'visual pleasure' in this produce then it was by accident not design.

As I said I haven't read the book but I'm sure Greer would address these points and do so cleverly. It is the limit of my imagination as to why one should argue for 'reclaim' as opposed to 'claim'.

But this isn't a book review. Because long before this book came out, my high-school cronies and I were deriding a minority of students we called 'pretty boys' for their lack of leg hair, disused facial razors, 'girly' hair cuts and neat attire.

High school is the time you are supposedly meant to transform from the boy of primary school into the man of adulthood. (allthough the older I get the longer I think I remained a child in retrospect).

The alpha males had leg hair at the very least, and their shoes were inclined to look like they had kicked the odd footy around and done active things. But even then the tidal wave of emasculated mens fashion was well and truly on the rise.

Now it is socially acceptable for a man to wear tight jeans, have shorts cut above the knee, to wear hats previously reserved for Alex Mack. It's fashionable to be as skinny as possible, whereas when I was in the age bracket where you can supposedly be fashionable it was well known that a guy was better off (ladywise) being fat than being scrawny. You would rather be Toadfish from neighbours than Christian Bale from the machinist.

I suspect since it isn't natural for a teenage boy to become stick thin in vast numbers that these ladyboys are on diets.

Now all this may seem misogynistic, but I just mean it is a step backward. Time to look at the women's reality of fashion:

If I had a Daughter

If I had a daughter there would be two things I would give her at age 12 as my minimum effort to do right in raising her to go out in the world confident and secure.
The first would be to give her a copy of the life story of Casonova to read. Why? Because Casanova is the only man in history famous for using his sexual allure to succeed in life (something widely promoted as completely viable and valid for a woman to do, even going so far as to call it 'empowerment') Hopefully his story which ends in being broke, blacklisted and riddled with STDs will serve to show up that one should depend on 'sexual power' to get were they want in life for the fallicy it is.
The second is a copy of Salt N Pepa's 'Very Necessary' a classic, and in my listening experience, the only true 'Girl Power' album. They are who I want teaching my daughter about sexual identity, feeling sexy, sexual pleasure, self respect and interpersonal relationships.

A healthy example of 'being sexy' (Salt N Pepa) coupled up with an unhealthy example of 'being sexy' that exposes the gender double standards when people talk about body image, fashion etc.

The girls world of fashion in large part appears to say 'make yourself the tastiest bait on a hook you can be then hope a big fish comes along and snaps you up.' Whereas the guys world of fashion used to be 'you are the fucking fisherman, use all the bait you need and eat the fucking fish after clubbing it to death.'

One of the things that got me through the deep funk of realising my hairline was receding was believe it or not, my ex-girlfriend's 'fat days' that she used to have.
After three days of paranoid checking and rechecking of my hairline and wracking my memory to try and think if I'd always not had hair growing out of that part of my forehead I realised 'this must be how ***** felt on her fat days, I am not going to spend my life feeling like that.' and like that I was cured of my depression.

Horrible isn't it? A) that I used somebody else's insecurity to cure my own and B) that I could just say 'fuck it I want no part in this' so easily. This was the advantage that men always had, one of the few genuine advantages, but men are being emasculated, made to feel that 40 is no longer the prime of their life, but it's somewhere between 16-21.

All those other positive qualities that were served in men's fashion I alluded to on day 2 of my fashion week: power, confidence, comfort, athleticism, dependability etc that don't necessarily need be related back to sex are being stripped away and men are becoming Castrati in greater numbers.

In other words, Women's fashion has gone nowhere since the 1960's except perhaps in the sporting attire department - sports bras, gym gear etc. Many would argue they have gone backwards, like in Female Chauvinist Pigs with much of women's new fashions originating from the sex industry, and cosmetic work for vaginas.

Watch Mad men and you'd notice that the writers job can't be particularly hard because women were treated the same in the corporate world as they pretty much are now. The difference is men's fashon.

The one step forward is this: As far as I can tell, women do take pleasure in the appearance of teenage boys. They seem to have an attraction to feminine qualities in a man in much the same way that men are attracted to tomboys. I don't know if its a blanket statement, I'd be more certain that it isn't, but if promoted as a general rule, people are more inclined to follow it when trying to validate themselves via popularity with the opposite sex than stand on their own two feet and forego the masses to get somebody that likes them.

One of the mysogenistic eye-openers is to see how you feel when somebody turns a campaign successful with/on women on men.

I could find this add on youtube because there appears to be a lot of men deriding it as one of the worst ads ever. My own reaction when a middle aged man says 'because you're worth it' or whatever is ridicule. As in 'seriously guys, you think that will work.'

Tempting though it is to reject such campaigns as doomed failures to go along with man-gagement rings (although apparantly these too are becoming more common).

But these campaigns seem to work for/on women. They buy the line 'because you're worth it' because L'Oreal hasn't dumped the line yet, and they seem to be successful in some way.

It's terrible I know, that it remains the status quo that even in western societies a woman's independance is still ip service only. The engagement ring designates them as property, the expense is compensation for their sex, the numerous expenses that make free sex 'more expensive than prostitution'* are running strong and growing stronger.

Japan is definitely a fashion capital in this regard, where sex is widely recognised as a financial transaction (remembering that for any statement made about a culture, the variation between individuals that comprise it will be greater than their similarity to the whole) and the phenomena of 'compensated dates' where teenage girls sleep with 40-50 year old salary men in exchange for Prada and Louis Vitton hand bags are frequent enough to get a widely recognised name (that isn't paedophelia) and boyfriends regularly achieve the pet names of 'meishi-kun' and 'ashi-kun' (Mr. Meals and Mr. Legs, an allusion to their only supposed positive qualities - legs refering not to their shapely legs but the fact they have a car to chauffer the girl around in).

This is the future of fashion, where a girl will trade sex for a handbag to a man she cares little for in order to achieve meer 'acceptability' as the status quo. Men in turn will pluck their eyebrows into shape, worry about their weight, hair line, and whether to shave their legs above the knee or risk wearing shorts below the knee.

I think its easy to hate any money making strategy on insecurity, and it applies equally to men and women. Women shouldn't be made to feel that their worth depends on their ability to attract somebody with actual power, choices and opportunities and that their life is effectively done and dusted by the age of 25.

To say that something needs to be done about it, is hopefully redundant, but the direction fashion is taking is the opposite. Even the vainglorious superficial yuppies of 'American Psycho' preserved their masculinity between herbal mint gel face masks and rogaine applications. Now the masculinity is being stripped away... from who? Everyone.

The men aren't just being sorted from the boys. Many are being blocked from even trying by modern marketing campaigns. A world where men apply foundation, get laser treatment on their beard zone, and where engagement rings is not so implausable as before. But if men start wearing engagement rings it won't signify they are some woman's property, but property of De Beers.

I hate the trend towards 'emasculated fashion' rampant in mens fashion today. Plain and simple. It took me a while to get on board the big pants-homeboy train but once on it I felt that we were making as a society a very linear form of progress.

Did you know that the Japanese Shoguns deliberatly wore oversized robes to conceal their actual proportions? Check it out:

Toyotomi Hideyoshi - first man to unify all Japan's warring states.

Tokugawa Ieyasu - founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, one of the most dominant and longest running family dynasties.

You may note that neither men are what one would call 'lookers'. I don't know what derailed the Japanese 'big-robes' movement, but fashion clawed its way back:
either that or takehiko inoue is a fashion stick in the mud like me.

A man can be cool, powerful, charismatic and sexy without being a 'looker' that's fashion doing its job. In many ways, mens fashion was superior to that of 'the fairer sex' because there was so many varieties and flavors.

It's easy to be dismissive and say 'skinny leg, relaxed fit it's just another style' but a relaxed fit looks like a coiled spring, like a muscle ready to be flexed, it could conceal a leg that could crush your head like a paper cup, or it could contain a chicken leg, there's no mystery in a skinny leg jean. You see a guy that can't defend himself in an alley (even if he actually can). Furthermore, skinny jeans aren't going to suit a fat guy, fortunately guys seem to have the remaining sense to where loose pants if they are fat something big girls seem to be crushed into by media and mother combined.

But if the campaigning behind says 'your worth is in your looks' (which is what L'Oreal is actually saying) then the fashion needs to be thrown out with the bathwater. (Am I mutilating metaphores here? George Orwell would be ashamed of me). What I mean is, that it may 'suit' some people of some builds, and in that sense be a harmless 'style' to be chosen from many. But fashion never works like that, there's a status quo to belong to, and there's the marketing campaigns that reinforce them. Opinion makers are never going to be hurt by fashion. (just offended like I am) But there seems to be men that fear the worrying trend towards castration along with me, at least according to this poll.

In the intrest of fair and balanced there is this thoughtful blog post I came across while searching for the above link. It may not be gushingly pro-adrogynous fashion, but at least it presents another side to the argument I seem incapable of thinking of myself.

It may be that I am not secure in my sexuality, or feel insecure and thus desire to express 'hypermasculinity' all I can say in my defence is that I don't feel like it and nor should my concerns extend to men who are not myself.

I certainly know I am not in the upper eschalons of masculinity, and I think the whole debate hinges on what 'femininity' means. Germaine Greer in 'The Change' wrote:

Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the western world. As long as they like themselves, they will not be an oppressed minority. In order to like themselves they must reject trivialization by others of who and what they are. A grown woman should not have to masquerade as a girl in order to remain in the land of the living.

I think women haven't achieved this 'like themselves' status yet, even going below the ages of 50. I think few think of the appeal of being a 'grown woman' and this as a 'feminist' text I assume reflects on femininity itself.

In the 'State of The Female Union' addresses, I think as a statement of plain fact, women occupy an inferior position in self-determined societies, as such whilst we can ascribe many positive qualities to femininity, I think it would be the rare man that would actually want to take their position in society to access them.

Women need to brought up from the monochromatic fashion ideal of 'Young and Sexy' men don't need to be brought down to it.

*I read this somewhere, it isn't mine, but I can't remember who said it or where.