Another thing that sucks about Chicago is it's bland uniformity. A few weeks ago I wrote about today's "white boy beard and flannel movement, representing the threatened id of white male masculinity.
One reason why I love New Orleans is that so many of Her denizens of every age outfit themselves in lagniappe of all manners of cloth and color schemes, combined with kaleidoscopes of the most garish accessories, top hats, bowlers,vests, chains, boots, gloves jewelry, etc.
I remember meeting one women who fancied hight top Chuck Taylors and white prom dresses dinged and yellowed with age and numerous machine washings and dryings, at Igor's Check Point Charlie where one can drink, eat a spicy sausage sandwich, dance to Zydico, and do laundry all at at the same time.
New Orleans second stores are also literal time machines to retrieve some of the most interesting garments from eras long long faded and gone.
|The Famous Funky Monkey Clothing Exchange|
|A desi representing in the Marigny|
|He's forming a band with Nicolas Cage|
The east coast, although considerably downscaled compared to Nola, also like Chicago has their share of white hipsters and scenesters. But there are also a lot of people, straight-up doing their own fashion things. And generally these people start trends often times borrowing from the other continents including, Africa, Asia and Europe.
|Harlem, New York City|
|Chicagoans are big on beige|
Besides for grammar school, Iv'e always embodied the New Orleans mode of doing my own thing.
Two years ago I brought a brown suede fringe jacket that I always wanted.
Thinking back on it, I think it was connected to when I had a serious case of the Chicken Pox as a child. I don't remember the rash, except two red bumps on the instep of my foot that looked like they were made by a child vampire.
|Salem's Lot/Vampire Child.|
What I really remember, was the full on hallucinatory dreams that occurred several times a day and night where a small malevolent dark pebble appeared before me, hovering in the air. Soon, It would begin to vibrate while growing slowly. As the vibrations increased with greater intensity, the whole room would shake with it. And the virus also created some weird sensory distortions inside me were I could taste the pebble in my mouth. I felt some bizarre symbolic connection with the pebble that continued to vibrate making a mechanical droning sound until it reached the the size of a large boulder still floating air were it would bounce while making a smashing sound. It not only wrecked my mother's bed room ( now became my sick room because my dreams caused me to fall out of my smaller bed that she then slept in) and caused all the surrounding buildings to collapse on my block.
I could see the deviation outside by looking out from a collapsed wall on of our third floor apartment, and would have to be restrained by my mother as a screamed and fought, knowing that I was responsible for countless of deaths including my friends due to the "earth quakes" I caused by the malevolently pebble that I was some how connected to mentally. Once my mother even called my younger cousin who lived downstairs to appear before me to show she wasn't keeping his funeral from me that I claimed she attended after he died in the rubble. Afterwords he promptly went down to the corner and told every body that his older cousin had gone insane and was dying. Then my mother had to fend of the neighborhood coming to "check in on me". My mother didn't admit them to contain the virus, but I learned later that my best friend even worse his suit that he wore to his cousin's funeral.
Finally my Mom , deeply exhausted, called my very southern aunt Murk. Murk still lived in Englewood and had been "doctoring" me by phone- as she always had since we moved off her block. My Mom told her she was taking me to the emergency room. Murk told her that Cook County Hospital's weighting room would only make things worse and that my uncle Mike was driving her over directly. Murk had never been wrong so my Mom apprehensive agreed to wait.
When Murk arrived, she carried me into the bathroom, although she was very attractive with a gold tooth and shapely figure, she was at least six, all most as tall as her giant of a husband Mike, and she had man's strength. She placed me into the bathtub that she and my Mom had already filled with hot water and cooked oat meal. After I soaked a bit, she added a strange brown pouch filled with some mixture that turned the water dark green and pinkish, and smelled really really bad. Afterwords she oiled me down with something that smelled both sweet, tar-ish and like cedar wood that made my skin tingle. My uncle Mike arrived again. He had dropped my aunt off and went to get provisions, Harold's Chicken, whiskey and some other medicinal ingredients. While we all ate, my aunt lectured my Mom on the ills of "white folks medicine" while my uncle Mike made faces at me getting me to laugh. My aunt then told my Mom that I needed to stay up for a few more hours but that she -who hadn't really slept for a week-, should go sleep in her own bed and that I would be fine in the morning. My Mom wouldn't budge so Murk escorted her to her bed room.
While my Aunt and uncle played cards in the kitchen and drank whiskey while
I -starting to feel better- got to watch TV in the living room all by myself. The only thing on was Midnight Cow Boy. It was the first real "grown up" movie I'd ever seen and it haunted me. And I remember being greatly puzzled by Jon Voight's strange suede fringe jacket
A couple of hours later my aunt brought in what turned out to be one of her famous hot toddies, that immediately put me to sleep. That night I dreamed of the dark New York City that I'd seen in Midnight Cowboy. It was both mysterious and melancholy. But for the first time, the pebble and it's destruction were gone although I can still "taste" that rough and metallic pebble even today. I awoke around noon in my own bed. My aunt and uncle were gone and had cleaned all traces of their visit. I watched cartoons while my Mom slept for a few more hours. She'd taken the last three days off from work and was able to go back the next day. I had one more day off of school to make sure I was completely cured.
From time to time I would see that fringe Jacket and think back on those crazy days when I was so disconnected from the world and felt surrounded by death which for some reason the fringes of the jacket remind me off, dangling seemingly precariously from the body of the brown skin jacket.
The people who wore it always seemed cool and mysterious. Two years ago I brought one. I really liked it. It reminded me of a blanket made of buffalo skin, not that I'd ever seen one before.
The last person I'd actually seen wearing it was this feminist women from Colorado who I went to school with on the east coast years ago. When I showed my purchase to the women that I was with at the time, she looked at it alarmed with a slack jaw. She hated it and called it "gay". This led to the jacket being banished to my back closet for another year. My next girl friend was equally dismissive, she told me it made me look old and silly. I came really close to cutting the fringes off because the suede was so cool, but I just couldn't bring myself to deface my jacket like that. The fringes seemed to be a necessary part about it. So it sat for another two years.
The funny thing was had I lived in Nola or New York I would have thought nothing of wearing it.
I've been wearing this jacket for the last six months and I love the way it hangs on my shoulder and the way it sounds like a large tarp when I lay it down. My friend who owns a bar in my neighborhood told me he has a black one that he use to wear back in art school, he said he was going to start wearing his but his wife who happened to be at the bar roundly and soundly rejected the idea so he said he was gonna give it to me, which she immediacy approved.
I get lots of compliments and the cool thing is I have not seen any one wearing one. Until two weeks ago.
As we were sitting at his bar a regular who I never really spoke to walked over wearing "my" jacket, clearly new. I gave her a dirty look and she just smiled at me. My friend laughed and told the bartender to give her a free drink I gave him a dirty look too. But I guess if my fringe jacket does catch on to these drab midwestern plains then so be it at least I can say I did my small part to make people seem less drab in Chicago