Thursday, December 31, 2009

A handsome man...

My boyfriend is more stylish than I am...

He saw those glasses in a store window late one night and went back for them.  They are actually women's sun glasses with the lenses replaced with his prescription.  They are one of a kind titanium frames made by a belgian designer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missed Connections, except with objects instead of people

Holiday season poverty combined with the shift in shopping mentality from decorating my home to filling the empty space beneath my grandmother's tree has resulted in a lot more covert shopping photography.  Looking at this batch of photographs definitely caused me to think a few times, "Wait, why didn't I buy that?  Oh that's right, I can't afford a dollar thrift store hat because it's Christmas."

My friend Andrew, who is holding this picture, was terrified by it.

We had these exact same mugs in my house growing up.

I collect elephants and it was really hard to walk away without buying this whole batch.  I almost bought a few, but they were too expensive.

Ditto for this Collection of saints!  Apparently one of this store's donors collect all the same things as I do.  Ultimately the male saints were deemed too large, as a way of limiting what I took home.

I've been thinking about beautiful serving wear for my friend Emily's wedding, which I am planning!

And I have been thinking about owls for my friend Mark's apartment, which I have been hired to decorate!

This hat must have been simply too small for an adult head, or I most certaintly would've bought it.

Why didn't I buy this?

What a great combination of art; how appropriate it's the window display.

This guy seemed so lonely and holy in this dirty corner.

I love that couch!

After my last blog entry about unpurchased thrift store goodies, I ended up going back and buying the kitchy rose pattern knee high rain boots!  Maybe something from this batch of photos will be gone back for...

Fox Skylight Antiques Gallery

I've been once again curbing my appetite to shop by photographing the merchandise rather than buying it.  This requires extensive use of the deliciously covert iPhone camera.  These photographs were taken at an antique mall near my house, and so I had to be extra careful.  Antique dealers always think you're some sort of spy when you walk around snapping shots left and right.  So it looks like I'm one of those teen age technophiles texting constantly, and occassionally lifting my cell phone above my head to make sure I get a good angle, err, I mean better reception.

I was with an out of town guest so we spent more time wandering around than I'm used to, leaving plenty of time to find compositions hiding amongst all the pretty things.  It didn't hurt that the antique gallery seemed to be some kind of refurbished factory.  Three floors of pretty things!  And funny things...  and strange... and expensive...

For self portraits taken in mirrors for sale at Fox Skylight Antiques gallery, check out my art blog: The Lunatic and the Swan.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A stylish presidency.

During our last presidential primaries, I was ostracized on more than one occasion for my lack of Obama fever. I had admired his eloquence since first spotting him on C-Span as a junior senator, when presidential aspirations were a distant twinkle in his eye. But when he announced his candidacy, I didn’t tape photos of him on my wall like glossy idols ripped out of a Teen Beat Magazine. And my facebook status wasn’t a perpetual homage to my conjectures of his potential greatness. And I didn’t vote for him in the primaries. I didn’t vote in the primaries at all.

This is where I received the greatest criticism. How dare I? But I was faced with two awesome possibilities (first woman president versus first black president), neither of which would’ve disappointed me in the least. Even John McCain (before he announced his vice presidential candidate) seemed like a reasonable fellow.

But of course, I celebrated when Obama won. I watched his acceptance speech and cried. And I felt a deep sense of American pride.

And now I read the news with the kind of bias that befits a liberal democratic middle class college educated female in her mid twenties. But this blog isn’t about politics. I’m writing today because the Obama industry provided me with something special last week. Something that I relish, something upon which I gorge often: style. Buckets and buckets of style.

The White House's state dinner honoring India's Prime Minister Singh was absolutely gorgeous. Browsing the photographs was a chance to enjoy beautiful tablescapes and elegant formal wear. And reading some of the major news websites coverage of the event seemed more like an article from Martha Stewart’s magazine. CNN highlighted the fact that the menu included “greens from the White House garden, honey from White House bees.” They also pointed out that State Dinners are the most coveted invitations in Washington. I can imagine.

Photo from  Charles Dharapak / AP

Photo from

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waifish little whisps living the dream...

While gorging on's video footage of New York Fashion Week in September, I kept noticing this waifish little whisp of a thing that could’ve been a girl or a boy, I couldn’t tell. This fresh faced imp was getting interviewed from the front row of dozens of runway shows. At the bottom of the screen, instead of the usual title of “Fashion Journalist” or “Fashion Designer” it just said “Fashion Rookie”. Then when I decided to go back and figure this iddy biddy enigma out, I couldn’t remember the kid’s name or figure out which videos the moppet had appeared in.

So when I accidentally ended up on the Teen Vogue site today (after clicking the wrong link on a blog I follow) I was pretty excited to see the prodigal child (a girl, apparently) with her name on the front page. Mystery solved.

So her name is Tavi Gevinson and she’s 13, and she writes a blog called Style Rookie. Apparently the Mulleavy sisters of the Rodarte label discovered her and whisked her away into a fairy tale world of fashion. And now, according to the article on Teen Vogue, she’s the new face of Target.

So naturally, needing to overwhelm envy with awe, I browsed her blog. It is obviously written by a 13 year old, albeit a very intelligent and culturally literate 13 year old. She’s all at once confident and self-deprecating. I see the appeal; she reminds me of myself at that age and I imagine a lot of people feel the same way. Still, the self consciousness palpable in her writing has clearly been tinged by her 15 minutes. So I went further back into her blog archives, and I found an effortlessness that was probably what attracted all of her readers in the first place. Not to mention her early self-portraits lack the “deer in headlights” look inherent to so many of the shots of her taken at shows.

So this pre-teen is definitely pretty cool although still entirely mysterious.  I hope the fashion industry doesn’t make a habit of this. Whatever makes this weird girl anomaly cute and quaint will make the next one trite. Kudos to this one, though. I’m jealous as hell, but equally impressed.

Unpurchased and unpurchaseable thrift store finds...

When I am thrift store shopping, and I want something that I cannot reasonably justify buying I take a picture of it with my handy dandy iPhone.  I also photograph things that amuse me that I would have no earthly business buying.  Here's a few examples from the last few months...

I wish I collected this technicolor kitsch stuff, I find so much of it.

Seeing all this jewelry excites me...

A pile of panties...

That's a lot of knives for not a lot of money.

Only a thrift store would have such a hilarious combination on the shelf.

Is it just me, or is this Virgin Mary wearing too much makeup?

I would've bought this in a heart beat if it wasn't stained.

These are so awesome, but they were too big!  I may go back and get them anyway.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a use for Lincoln...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Fancier to a Fault

I am a collector, also known as a pack rat, a hoarder, an accumulator, a gatherer, and according to my thesaurus, a fancier. Occasionally a specific collection will become so large and unwieldy that I have to make a conscious effort to stop adding to it. This happened with vintage buttons after hitting the mother-load at an estate sale last summer. I am starting to get this feeling with vintage earrings. My Etsy shop has only a small selection of what I am currently storing. And I’m honest with myself, no matter how many I post only so many will be sold.

I’ve always been a sucker for bright colors and cheap prices, and I doubt I’ll completely stop buying vintage earrings. But I am the kind of thrift store junkie that gets withdrawl symptoms after three days away from the dusty house ware shelves, the endless clothing racks, and the color coded price tags. If I bought every bargain bauble that caught my eye from inside a jewelry case, well let’s just say I couldn’t afford an apartment large enough to store them all. I’m going to have to steer clear from the accessories and continue on my recent hunt for microwave safe vintage plates. Not to mention contact paper, clip-on ties, and jewelry boxes.

Some clip-on earrings from my collection.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Good ol' fashioned dadaism.

During my internet wanderings I was delighted to discover a little bit of dadaistic lovelines on the blog Little Brown Pen.  It's a calendar available for download for free!

I started reading the quips before noticing the title or description.  I began to get suspicious that some surrealism might be afoot, and alas!  I was right.

If you're a poet and/or you have a sense of humor, then go check it out.  And if you have a printer, then I suggest making yourself a gift!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A woman in a man's store.

I visited "Gander Mountain" and posted an entry on my other blog.  It serves as an interesting follow up to my thoughts on “glamping”.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Apiece Apart? Apiece of crap.

I was eating a pile of fried chicken while browsing some of the videos on when I discovered a short film embedded in their blog. The description sounded promising, an intellectual smoothie of cultural references including Lawrence of Arabia and color theory.

Now, I took a few film classes in college and have consumed my fair share of bite sized film chunks dripping with text book examples of “good” cinematography and seasoned by cheap metaphors.  Those experiences did make me grateful for one aspect of Apiece Apart’s “spring short”: that it was short.

My first instinct is to make a comment like “the fashion industry should stick to fashion”. But you know, that’s not the problem here. Fashion definitely influences other art forms. As an “artistic” photographer I have always listed fashion photography among my primary influences. And fashion incorporates many artistic mediums, from music to painting. Besides, a fashion designer didn’t make that film. Clearly there was a legitimate director being credited at the end. Of course there’s the chance that the director was merely a patsy, carrying out the brand’s desire to manifest its’ own convoluted self images.

But all this is besides the point. That video was the most cliché, contrived, artsy-fartsy piece of crap that I have seen in a very very long time. I know pathologically lazy college drop-out stoners who could’ve whipped up something better using the video capabilities of their cell phones. In fact, lower production quality might have actually improved the film by giving it some texture and character. It was so trite and conceited it could’ve passed as one of those fake commercials on Saturday Night Live. It’s like someone put a metaphorical tree up the metaphorical butt of that film.

If you don’t believe me, watch it for yourself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hick-Chic in Milan?

If I were living my perfect life I would’ve spent all of September gorging on front row runway footage and blogging from my living room about my excitement and delight.  Sadly I work a real job, and get distracted by real problems, so my observations trail behind.  But I can’t let this season pass by without rambling on about what Dsquared2 did for hick-chic.

I am going to start with a personal diatribe.  I am from Wisconsin, a state best known for its football team and its dairy products. I live in its’ largest city, but I grew up in its second/third largest: Green Bay. Green Bay is a big town trying to be a little city. It is a middle class oasis of suburban sprawl amongst an Eden of verdant fields and healthy soil. Green Bay dutifully provides the rural population of northern Wisconsin with cultural services like shopping malls and stadiums. But despite a university, more than one performing art center, and handfulls of appropriately trendy coffee shops and used book stores, the only people who think Green Bay is a big city are people who live on farms.

I want to get the politically incorrect terms out of the way, because I can’t write this without them: hicks, rednecks, and white trash. In my youth I tried to reclaim the term “white trash” as a term of pride, like some feminists did for bitch, and my gay friends did to fag. And although my clique of clever adolescent friends appreciated the irony, my mother definitely did not. It was hard to find an acceptably incendiary way to claim pride in a heritage that included many hardworking, undereducated, poor farmers of European descent.  I have many Wisconsinite friends who understand.

My childhood contains all the prescious gems of midwestern "low" culture.  Growing up I spent a lot of time at my great uncle’s bar: Party Marty’s Polish Palace in Pulaski. The adults drank cheap beer and the kids ate cheese curds. More than a few of my uncles sported Mullets long after the hairstyle passed out of style and into comedic infamy. Neon orange was not a gift of eighties revival, but a consistent presence in the wardrobe of rural men who killed animals, ate the meat, and put their carcasses on their living room walls (as long as their wives consented).

The thrift stores of Green Bay are still an overflowing cornucopia of Americana and kitsch. And middle age soccer moms evolve their fashion sense slowly, so that vintage items will arrive at the local St. Vincent de Paul just as they come back in style after decades.

That miniature memoir is, in fact, totally relevant to fashion now.  All that personal history is precisely why my reaction to the Spring 2010 collection of Dsquared2 is totally effing different than every successful fashion journalist who reported from that runway in Milan. I could replicate that entire collection by spending a few hundred dollars in the thrift stores of my hometown.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the creativity and vision of the Dsquared2 collection. There’s something deliciously subversive about rich people paying to look like white trash. And although most of this season’s looks made me want to bathe in chiffon, this collection inspired me in a totally different way. My boyfriend has been hot on the “hick-chic” thing for a while, and local hipsters are no stranger to the trend. Dsquared2 wielded a fad already present on fixed-gear bicycles, in smoky dive bars, and on the often referenced “streets”. And what can I say? It feels good to know that I liked this stuff before it was cool.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wait, is that... a fanny pack?

Once upon a time I had a friend with a serious boner for all things kitschy nineties vintage. Amongst the most ardent of her obsessions was the insatiable lust she had for fanny packs. One day I wore a cute little neon colored fanny pack, a perfect homage to the burgeoning late 80’s revival happening at the time. As soon as she saw it her whole complexion was flooded with a deep envy green. She told me she had nightly dreams of wandering the 7 mile fair, suddenly discovering the very same object I know casually draped around my hips. She coveted it so powerfully she would not relent in her pursuit of it until I finally agreed to trade for it.

At the time, I thought the fanny pack would be one of those items that remained firmly in fashion history, its usage revived only by those whose eccentric tastes put them on the fringe of even the most rebellious fashion cliques. It’s location proved unflattering to most body types, and then there were the tourist connotations… Let’s just say the bulk of my fanny pack memories include herds of overweight Caucasian Americans in sickeningly bright Hawaiian shirts shuffling around eating stale nacho chips drenched in gooey toxic cheese and guzzling overpriced novelty cups filled with corn syrup at the epicenter of American tackiness.  Disney World.  I’m not going to pretend those memories aren’t some of the best of my childhood, but sometimes the past is best left in the past.

So imagine my surprise to discover a fanny pack elegantly resting on the almost non-existent hip of a model marching down the runway of a Marc Jacobs show. I immediately breezed through the other 52 images that I’d downloaded of the show, and there again! And again! Of course these fanny packs were in tastefully quilted luxury fabrics and on models whose clothing hanger bodies could make anything look attractive. And I’d seen a few stores carry “hip purses” that nodded to the ghost of kitsch past without actually qualifying as bonafide fanny packs. But this was a Marc Jacobs show, and that was definitely a fanny pack, and gosh darn, was I surprised.

Beautiful madness is delicious...

My favorite fashion designer is the love child of a gay Captain Hook and Peter Pan, who has been raised by a glamorous French courtesan, and endowed with a super human ability to make the weirdness of life both beautiful and luxurious.

And if you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about John Galliano, with his delightfully naughty little moustache and his chewy caramel voice. Here’s the understated cliché of the year: the man is a genius. He turned the French revolution into a bloody haute couture spectacle in 2006 and I’ve been madly in love ever since.

Now to be true, I do enjoy the work Galliano does with the epic majesty of the Dior house. But his own work, given his own name, is free from the expectations of honoring legacy. Although this season there was a thread of genetic material running through both the couture and ready to wear Dior collections, right into his own Spring 2010 collection, I can’t deny that the latter was what really won my soul.

I first saw still images of the collection on my trusty little iPhone and I couldn’t quite discern if the floating white bubbles were glass or plastic. Then I read the review, and immediately ran to the least often used bathroom in the office where I work and covertly downloaded footage while hiding crouched in a stall next to a (thankfully) clean toilet. And my god, I don’t want to be vulgar, but his gift for the theatrical is positively intellectually aesthetically orgasmic. Floating bubbles filled with smoke, bursting on the runway, surrounding these tall chiffon swathed sirens with yet another layer of ethereal gossamer. It was delicious.

I’ve often thought if I had only a year to live, what would most certainly be at the very top of my bucket list would be to see a Galliano show live. Forgive my morbidity, but I’ve often wondered what a good sob story earns these days, if a well written letter and a multi-syllabic disease could get me a front row seat.

I am sharing the video of the show (I love that website; it’s like an endless source of free fashion pornography for couture obsessed computer monkeys, thank you Vogue). I hope it tickles your fancy as much as it tickled mine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The beginning stages of a new shop on Etsy...

I have officially decided to open a second Etsy shop for handmade items. I think a more focused approach will make each shop more successful, especially when it comes to advertising.

I am deeply attached to the “Revolution is Sexy” brand identity. I’ve tried to “own” the phrase as a part of my online presence in as many ways as possible. It’s not easy to find a phrase that is unused as a “user name” on any of the usual websites: Flickr, blogger, deviant art, Etsy, gmail, Myspace, etc…

And I don’t want to lose that brand identity, but I feel I should begin an exploration of the wild untamed jungles of my creative potential. My new Etsy shop should embrace concepts that connect it to the first shop. It should evolve from the same primordial ooze of surrealism, imagination, absurdity, and irreverence.

I have been brainstorming for new shop ideas, but I feel to really ensure that I am as committed to the new brand name as I am to the old one, that I should use a phrase that I already have a relationship to. Three phrases definitely show a lot of potential:

Deus Ex Machina: It means literally “god in the machine” but often translates as “ghost in the machine”. The original term comes from Ancient Greek Theater, but I was introduced to it during my Shakespearean studies. Essentially it is the plot device that differentiates comedies from tragedies. It’s when something (or someone) comes “out of the blue” to make everything better. Although I am personally very attracted to the meaning, I am also fascinated by the mystery and provocation of the phrase itself. Ghost in the machine. What a fabulous juxtaposition of words, and gosh do I love juxtaposition.

The Lunatic and the Swan: This is the only phrase in the running that isn’t borrowed from another source. It was the title of a memoir that I began to write. It is also another delightfully juicy use of juxtaposition. I just like the idea of madness mixed with beauty, incoherent weirdness mixed with loveliness and grace. However this phrase has a similar problem that I have with my first brand identity, Revolution is Sexy. The juxtaposition of the word “revolution” with the word “sexy” is edgy and thought provoking, but is it too edgy and thought provoking? In this case, it is less the action of the juxtaposition as the action of the word lunatic. It definitely aims at a specific customer group, but is its’ aim too specific? Are there enough people out there who are going to be intrigued by my dangerously whimsical frivolity?

Curiouser and Curiouser: This phrase had won the competition in my mind until I discovered a blog on Word Press by the same name. As many of you may already know, “curiouser and curiouser” is a quote from Lewis Caroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. I think it definitely conjures surrealism, whimsy, absurdity, and cultural literacy for a large group of people. But as every choice has its downfalls, so does this one. People may be too familiar with this phrase and its original context to really shift their associations to my brand.

Although I am beginning to lean toward my own personal choice, I am going to try and post a poll to hear from others what they think my new brand name should be.

Feedback is always appreciated!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What does “Revolution is Sexy” mean?

The phrase began as the title to one of my student films, in which beautiful women were dressed as famous male revolutionaries. I played Che Guevera, and although my face was covered in the patchy beard of a guerilla soldier, my legs were still exposed beneath a camouflage mini skirt. Images of these hermaphroditic creatures, half super model, half dirt caked warrior, were layered with text from a manifesto that I had written for a cultural revolution. The initial concept had been inspired by the use of Che Guevera’s face to sell t-shirts to frat boys. Though at first it seemed ridiculous and frustrating, I realized that Che himself had begun his life as a clean cut son of the bourgeoisie. Maybe the recruits for the next cultural revolution are right under our noses.

My personal favorite cultural revolutionaries were the surrealists. They believed that art could be, and should be, created by all. They believed that art could change the world. And if none of that is revolutionary enough for you, they were just plain strange. They were weird and people noticed. And that changed things. Now nearly everyone has become culturally literate in the dream language of surrealism. As Jung might say, our collective unconscious has seen it all.

More than the startling curves of Dali’s surreal moustache, there was Kerouac’s hobo-chic. There was Warhol’s soup cans, and there was MTV. And now there’s this.

This revolution self published its manifestos using library copy machines and sharpie markers. This revolution dressed itself in its grandmother’s hand me downs. This revolution elected a black president with the help of graffiti artists. This revolution blogged, knitted, biked, designed, uploaded, downloaded, forwarded, recycled, repurposed, screen printed, and educated itself into existence.

We made the revolution, now all we have to do is sell it. Maybe all we have to do to change the world is be interesting. Maybe all we have to do is be cool.

And maybe use the internet.

Computers not only made nerds cool, they reinvented everything. The internet gave millions of people access to their 15 minutes of fame. Viral content spreads among us simply by the strength of its own virtues. Some of the richest and most powerful people in this world got to where they are not because they inherited their status from their ancient aristocratic blood lines, but because they had a really good idea and it worked. Bill Gates. Enough Said.

So here I am on the good ol’ world wide web, trying to sell my little piece of the cultural revolution pie. It’s nutritious, delicious, and pretty darn cool. Maybe even a little sexy, too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Retail therapy at its best.

I am a thrift store junkie. (I am also obsessed with rummage sales, but in my temperate zone, thrift stores are a more reliable fix.) Becoming an avid “thrifter” thoroughly alters a person’s shopping sensibilities. After spending an hour browsing through an almost unimaginably diverse selection of jeans with prices that could be covered by the change some people find in their couch cushions, it’s almost impossible to go to a mall. The shop windows showcase a small variety of “current trends” at prices that would get you garbage bags full of gently used clothing. And I guess there’s something about the thrill of the hunt that gets inside you. With a little extra work, you can find something unique. Something that has already lived one life, and instead of going into a land fill, is going to live a second life with you in your closet. Thrifting enlivens hunter gatherer instincts. It helps the environment. It saves you money.

But just because I love thrifting, doesn’t mean that I haven’t found a few other places to satiate these urges. I have often touted my local Forever 21 store for feeling like a thrift store, with its tightly packed racks of uniquely trendy clothing. But there’s one store in particular that provides the same bliss of a totally satisfying shopping experience. That is Ikea.

When my grandmother and I were walking through the amusement park sized parking lot up to Ikea last week, she made a very telling comment, “I feel like we’re going to have to pay to get in.” It was not the first Ikea visit for either of us, and we were both treating the trip like a special event rather than an errand. A single shopping excursion with a singular purpose can easily take hours, and result in more than a few unplanned purchases.

Firstly and most importantly, Ikea has beautifully designed, environmentally and socially responsible products at almost unbelievably low prices. We saw these pillows (vacuum sealed to save space in your shopping cart) for 99 cents.

This company has discovered a formula for reducing cost as well as environmental impact. Sure, you might have to assemble that shelf yourself, but by shipping things “flat” they can put more products into a truck or plane, and reduce the carbon emissions of transport. I saw lamps that used their own shades as the container, and lamps that use solar power. These Swedes are talented designers, not just for their practical sensibilities, but for their keen aesthetic understanding.

Wandering the store is like browsing an interactive three dimensional catalogue. I am a sucker for their carefully detailed store displays, where you can go up to a kitchen cabinet, and open in to find real Swedish food products available to buy on the ground floor.

And since you’re probably going to spend hours here, it’s a must to have lunch in their cafeteria. The prices were incredibly reasonable, and the food? Delicious and nutritious, as they say.

And even I thought Ikea had outdone themselves when I heard the announcement that there was a wandering magician on the second floor. We made sure to stop and catch a bit of the show (though my experience with magicians from my time in the circus sort of takes the mystery and thrill out of illusions).

In the end I managed to purchase only what I had come for. Though I did take the time to garnish a great deal of inspiration, and take a great deal of photographs. There was an almost poetic repetition of shapes and colors everywhere I turned. It was just like a thrift store, a vast retail landscape beckoning for me to explore and discover.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maxwell Street Days

As my grand parents and I drove to Maxwell Street Days last Sunday, I realized that I had been attending this event for at least 20 years. Considering I have only been on earth for a mere 24, and have spent none of that time being a morning person, it is more than a little remarkable. For as long as I remember, I have enjoyed rising at dawn to roam a dusty gravel field inhabited by a sprawling temporary metropolis of strange characters selling precious, precious junk.

My grandmother started the tradition but later my mother’s antique business cemented the trek to Cedarburg among our family traditions. Although I admit I cannot say with utter confidence that I have gone every year, I do know I have gone more than once in a Summer, which I believe makes up for the occasional predisposition to sleep late and miss the fun.

It was at these cluttered tables that I really began to learn the fruitful art of haggling. Although hardly adept during my early attempts (no doubt to my childhood budget clashing with my childhood taste for expensive collector Barbies) I quickly grew the skills, and more importantly, the confidence. Now it is an ever present habit to offer less than the initial price, knowing that dealers almost always account for some wiggle room. Last Saturday I only accepted the price once without question: fifty cents for a the orange metal box of a vintage science kit, in perfect condition!

And although I was sore when we’d finally passed by the last booth, we managed to squeeze a few local rummage sales into the schedule. But not until after breakfast at the local George Webb’s (the food at that location being much better than the ones in Milwaukee). I spent my entire budget of $20, but my bounty was plentiful. And some of the items will prove to make excellent etsy merchandise, including a colorful pile of vintage earrings.

Most of the earrings came in bulk, neatly bundled into two Ziploc baggies. However the second purchase I made that day (barely even a few yards into the grounds) was a single pair of vintage earrings for 25 cents, and the haggard looking gypsy woman said with a thick accent, “You are my first customer, you better bring me luck.” Call me superstitious, but I was a bit intimidated to wonder, what happens if I don’t! She fit right in among the dirt kissed old men wearing overalls and chain smoking hand rolled cigarettes. Other kinds of sellers have slipped into the spaces between the stereotypical antique dealers. Some people set up huge cardboard boxes filled with cheap new items like sponges, bright plastic clipboards, and masking tape. Not to mention the food vendors, the florists, and the middle aged middle America lady crafters with all manner of handmade kitsch.

And of course I found a few figurines to add to my collection. In addition to my usual habit of buying Virgin Mary and Saint statues, I also picked up an adorable plastic fawn that reminded me of an apartment/studio I saw on the Etsy video series: “There's no place like here.”

The whole day was absolutely exhausting but thank goodness I had two days of labor day vacation to follow it. That much shopping requires a recovery period!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bowling for Style

As far as surrealists go, I live a pretty good life. My situation is neither so intense nor so horrible that it warrants an explicitly political revolution. Instead, I work toward undermining the boring and banal. And happily I often find myself surrounded by others with exactly the same intent.

A good friend of mine, Tommy Bang Bang, lives in Portland and came into town this week. In order to celebrate her visit, a large group of us decided to go bowling. Since no one seemed confident about their ball hurling, pin crashing skills the object of the game was changed. Tommy decided to introduce us all to Bowling for Style. Now, a few of us did not fully appreciate what this would entail. We obliged the concept with colorful eye makeup, panty hose, and earrings. I wore two sets of leg warmers on my arms but did not take it much further than that. While a vaguely eccentric group of us waited on a porch, enjoying the new Spring weather and waiting for our friends, we saw a neon colored blob appear on the horizon. Our friend from Portland was coming down the street in the most horrendously bright pair of snow pants that this world has ever seen.

To add to the absurdity of the occasion, our bowling alley of choice was in the basement of the Polish Falcon, a bar and community center for old polish people. This is the kind of place that only accepts cash, has a grand total of six lanes, and don’t even think about computerized scoring. Which was probably better since we weren’t scoring based on the number of pins you struck down. Points were awarded based on the overall absurdity of one’s appearance, as well as the gregariousness (and sometimes the lewdness) of the ball throw.

Did I mention there was a family with three young boys on the other side of the room? Needless to say I think we all forgot about them as we screamed vulgarities and exhibited a great deal of intoxicated behavior. To my credit, I only had one beer.

Props were definitely a great asset to those who brought them. A cabbage patch doll, rainbow feather boa, a straw hat, and a catcher’s mitt were all used to assist in the throw. At one point the cabbage patch doll made it halfway down the lane as well.

Needless to say the scrawny old man behind the counter had to come over and begrudgingly dislodge a neon pink ball from our gutter, complaining loudly about our “fooling around” but we never did get kicked out. Still, with 10 people playing, the place closed just as we finished frame 9. I tied for fourth place with Leo Long, who wore a tuxedo coat with tails and added a lot of drama to her throws. Tommy won, of course, since she was probably the most inspired (inebriated) of the bunch.