Thursday, September 26, 2013

Consider the Crabs, or, Farewell Fond Summer

The other weekend, I survived the tumult of the bus down south to the Delaware shore and spent a delightfully lazy weekend with close childhood family friends. Spending time with incredible parental figures, who have known you since you were essentially a pile of rapidly replicating cells gestating, brings great comfort but, notably, is also relaxing because, in short, they are not actually your parents. Potential opportunities for discussing financially planning for the future or career trajectories averted. Their home was beautiful, the air pristine, and the sky a sharp and startling blue; ideal for a jaunt away from my small apartment and Brooklyn neighborhood. 

As a Baltimore native, the ritualistic dining procession of the steamed crab feast is learned young, a cultural development stage wedged between acclimation to typical kindergarten pedagogical environments and navigating the sexual tension of sweat perfumed middle school corridors. Generally, there are long tables, set up outside in the late summer sun, carefully covered in long sheets of brown paper, a scattering of wooden mallets, a gathering of family and friends, and, the pinnacle, a mountain of boiled red crustaceans, tangled claws and shells, drenched in delicious Old Bay seasoning. This is not a meal, it is a social event, for many, the social event of the waning lazy days of summer. Picking the crab is a delicate and precise process, a blend of art and science; a novice is guided by some sage tribal elder, who demonstrates how to twist each spindly leg, how to crack the claws to preserve the sweet white meat. Depending on the mentor, there are inner body bits that are adroitly discarded, or consumed greedily as a succulent delicacy. The crab feast is a marathon of gorging, learning, talking, joking, laughing. 

Having resided in New Jersey for a few years and now in New York, in essence away from the Land of Pleasant Living, I had not indulged in a crab feast in years; in fact, before the other weekend, I could not even remember the last time I had enjoyed this Chesapeake Bay staple. Without hesitation, my childhood best friend, current good friend, Sarah, and I informed her parents that the weekend simply must include at least one dozen crabs. They acquiesced, with little need for the power of persuasion. So, after relaxing on the chilled but sunny beach late on Saturday morning, we traveled to a rustic seafood joint on the bay, open and breezy with broad views of the surrounding grasses and herons. Armed with napkins, cocktails, and a small arsenal of hush puppies, we attacked our crabs, meticulous, driven, and gorged slowly, devouring each limb, leaving no crevice unclean.

Despite what the derivative and trite appropriation of the title may suggest, I will not contemplate the metaphysical or aesthetic implications of the history of boiling and eating these delicious creatures. Another time, perhaps. Like the crab feasts of my youth, summer, at the onset, seems to stretch forward infinitely, without limit; at its inevitable close, sated, I still feel a tad somber, wincing, already nostalgic at its end.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stomp Arounds

The evenings have grown cool, cool to that calming temperature that coaxes the best deep sleep with calming dreams. Open-toed wedges seem a distant memory, boots now a necessary tangential appendage. In response to the seemingly ancient question of black or brown boot leather, a few weeks earlier I decided to compromise with this dual-tone pair: black liquorice and milk chocolate brown. With a casual dress code office, these riding-inspired boots will have the opportunity to be showcased and pranced around quite regularly.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall Fashion Fumbles

Leaning towards masochistic tendencies, at least on the sartorial editorial spectrum, there are a few online magazines that I continue to read despite frequent and flagrant disappointment with their content. Typically, my frustration stems from outlandish curatorial selections for wardrobe staples, couched as must-haves for the everywoman, which then include pieces that are either impractical, unattractive, or foolishly expensive, or all of the above. A week or so ago, I clicked my way through a feature that was guilty on all three counts, promoting the purported fall trends, my teeth clenched. Like a crashing train, I had to find my way to the inevitable end, though, my sensibilities were not calmed. While disgustedly entertained, I was not convinced nor swayed; I am proudly still a master of my own consumer power.

Ludicrous though it may be, the "boyfriend" moniker to describe denim that is even mildly loose is here to stay. Personally, I would love to meet the presumably straight boyfriend, since these styles are exclusively marketed, if not designed, for women, who would wear these in public; having attended sufficient gender studies lectures to know, I am, of course, excluding females who would prefer to self-identify as heterosexual men, a certainly not significant demographic. Pathetic attempts at jokes aside, what is with these joke pants? High-waisted and dual-tone. I may be growing close minded and even more cynical in my advancing age, but these would definitely only look decent on a thin, thin model, like the faceless lass who dons them here. 

I really can only foresee a pair of floral culottes in my future when, or more optimistically if, I glide down that not terribly steep slope to the realm of senility, a few decades from now when my neurons decide to strike. Again, a prime example of tailoring that typically only flatters the thin and tall, a rare and often vapid species of female. Harnessing the look of hilarious cartoon icon Peggy Hill is not in my fall trend plan.

Menswear-inspired pieces, when properly tailored, are definitely a safe bet and an enduring classic. A shapeless vest shift dress, however, falls more than a bit flat.

(images taken from Refinery29)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sunday Fun Day, Jets Edition

Though certainly an avid sports fan, professional football has never been my obsession; still, I snatched at the opportunity to attend a Jets game this past Sunday. While no dedicated fan to the sport, I appreciate nearly any live event in which drinking during the day, or during mass transportation, is both acceptable and expected. Stadium architecture always fascinates me as well, a synergy of modern sleek steel and a more primordial sense of Lek mating grounds. There is a collective cultural archetype and nostalgia that I always imbibe in big stadiums, these contemporary colesseums. The same sentiment that binge-watching Friday Night Lights induces, being a patch in some large quilt of diverse but cohesive Americana. 

Three ladies, dutifully dressed in various shades of green, mine the most neon and the least symbolic of the actual team colors, we were surrounded by loyalists, mostly men, shouting, sometimes angry and exasperated, often proud and full of joy. Occasionally, they would offer to us their few cents on the matter, a referee call or a foolish play. When the Jets won, very narrowly, with an ugly but effective field goal kick that sort of lobbed the ball pathetically through the air, we received high-fives and a face full of cheers. A win, combined with some cheap domestic beer and a deliciously expensive hotdog slathered in ketchup, left me sated.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Game Changer

Last week, a few of my lady colleagues and I were discussing the sometimes laughable, often times loathsome fashion of bridesmaid dresses, hovering not exactly over but in the vicinity of the water cooler. One of my colleagues was lamenting a particular dress she had just discovered she would be obliged to wear, something backless, which sounds promising, until the pragmatic and very real prospect of under garments entered the equation. The equivalent of the deepest and most disgusting depths of hell for women with even mildly ample bosoms, complicated draping and cuts that ultimately require odd suction cup bras, while beautiful on the hanger or some wraith model, incite fear. And anxiety. And my colleague did not hesitate to give it a proper name: that monoboob thing. Or, depending on the remedy that is sought, that sagging thing. That uncomfortable contraption thing.

"You should try a leotard, for a backless dress with straps like that." I spoke these words clearly, calmly, confidently, without fear, a woman assured of her strategy, a woman who has refused to paste gelatinous underwear to her chest. I smiled, watching the epiphany occurring in her mind just before my eyes, those neural cogs slowly turning, away from exasperation to utter relief and joy. 

(image taken from Little Plastic Horses)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shine On You Crazy Rhinestone

Leveraging my acute problem solving skills and occasionally devious wardrobe machinations, I am more than adroit at seamlessly integrating marginally inappropriate or wild pieces into my daily office garb. This feat was more impressive when the enforced and prescribed dress code was the ever infuriating but easily manipulated business casual at my former employer. Now, where the edict is casual and the masses have the freedom to run amok, at least sartorially, wearing the bold, the outlandish, the daring, has slightly less appeal. Not entirely, but slightly. Thankfully, there are always limits to be pushed and boundaries to flaunt wantonly. Unfortunately, sapped of creative energy of late, I have not been the individual pushing or flaunting. All work, substantially less play; these dated and trite adages are grounded in very real truths.

So, in my soporific sartorial slump, one of the more bold, outlandish, daring moments has been these tailored shorts, emblazoned with a tessellating graphic of squares. Comprised of chevrons and smaller squares in neon salmon and deep royal blue, collectively they create an illusion of diamonds. Like diamond, each component seems precisely and geometrically bonded, held together in a perfect structure by the noble laws of organic chemistry. A tad shorter than what I would likely swing during my days confined to a business moniker, for a hot summer in the city, paired with a plain and modest cream top, they were ideal.

Like so many other of my earrings, particularly those discovered and collected in more recent years, I was drawn to these bodacious bronze leaves for their unique sculptural elements. To a more numb or tedious eye, this pair hardly resembles earrings at all; they hang stiffly, yet they exude a wonderful movement in the curvature of the metal and in the great sparkle of the false stone when light strikes.