Thursday, June 09, 2005

Thursday Stylin': Alex Kuczynski loses her mind

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and build advertising revenue, The New York Times gives us sheer insanity from Alex Kuczynski, a sad story by a formerly overweight fashion writer, and an article ripped off from Be warned -- between lots of work and the stifling heat of my A.C.-free apartment, I'm grouchier than usual.

Let Clothes Be Your Guide to Adventure. In this week's installment of the Critical Shopper, Alex Kuczynski begins her dribbling screed with the following:
DURING the typical American shopping expedition, the consumer drapes items of clothing across his or her body and poses a list of theoretical questions: What activities will I pursue while wearing this item? Will it showcase my attributes in an effective way? Most important, what story does this garment tell - about me?
Jesus Christ, Alex, way to keep it real. I've never put that much thought into any purchase, much less clothes. I didn't think that much when I picked colleges, and, if I ever were to ask a pretty lady to get married, I probably wouldn't put as much thought into it as Alex Kuczynski does when she's buying her $4,000 slacks. Or in this case, fashion influenced by developing nations.

But hell, no one ever has complimented Ms. Kuczynski's writing for its understated wisdom. She goes to a store on the Upper East Side called Roberta Freymann (for a half-second I thought this was about a deceased physics professor), eponymously named for its jet-set, four-language-speaking proprietor. Alex observes: "Anyone able to sell floral cotton dresses with demure collars to South American women, who generally abide by the rule that demure means your nipples don't show, is worthy of respect."

Yes, that's what Aretha Franklin sang about.

Alex alludes to a store named Searle (for a half-second I thought she meant a deceased philosopher), and, never one to keep herself out of the story, Alex writes, "Maybe it was the double espresso after lunch, but I went a little crazy on my first visit." Alex, I'm guessing that you're more than "a little crazy" after a piece of toast and a glass of skim milk.

But she's pretty down to earth otherwise. She compares herself to "Buck Henry in the 1987 movie 'Aria,' when he spends an ecstasy-fueled evening stroking the iconographic statuary at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, Calif." Oh, and we get another allusion to the elusive Etro. Styles writers -- enough with the fucking Etro shit. No one knows what it is, and no one cares.

Anyway, Alex leaves the store dressed up like a Thai African. To quote Emile Hirsch, "Punk rock, bro!"

Measuring Up. Being short must suck. I measure in at about 6'2 and if I'm around people of similar heigh or taller, I get self-conscious and strangely agorophobic.

This article isn't about weirdos like me, or little dudes with Napoleon complexes. It's about how short guys struggle to buy clothes. Guy Trebay hits all of the Styles section high notes in this piece-of-dump story. Want grotesque overwriting and a flashy allusion? Here:

In a nation that increasingly resembles Gulliver's Brobdignag, coffins are now scaled like piano cases, there are chains that cater exclusively to men as tall as grandfather clocks or as unabashedly hefty as walk-in refrigerators, but nothing for people of more modest dimensions. This news may fall hard on the ears of men under 5-foot-8, although there is no denying that it fills their tailors with glee.

Yeah, all of those gleeful tailors, I hate those fuckers. We get a cheesy anecdotal lede about a dude named Joe Carbone who got suckered into being humiliated by bad writers in the Styles section. Another paragraph contains the following phrases: "Casual Male," "Rochester Big & Tall," "George Formans," "Yao Mings," "high-water trousers," "Pee-wee Herman," "lace-up galleons," "the Herman Munster atelier," "Prada," "Gucci," "GQ fashion spreads." The next paragraph mentions "Gucci privation."

Cutesy! Cutesy writing! Cutesy Guy Trebay, with the cutesy writing about the little guys! Guy Trebay, I hope your editor rubbed your belly and fed you a dog biscuit for this one. Now, fetch!

Fashion, the Mirror and Me. More work by the Times to mess with women's body images and to take its editorial cues from inspirational daytime talk. Something about this article made me kind of sad: the author is plucky and funny, but had the misfortune of becoming a fashion writer. This made her self-conscious about her weight, and she proceeded to lose a lot of it. That's fine and it's good that she's happy, but it sounds like the fashion industry is about as hideous and cruel as one would expect from perusing the Styles section. Poor lady.

For Them, Just Saying No is Easy. Some people are asexual -- they just don't want coitus. Funny (and I'm sure this is a total coincidence) but ran an identical story a week or two ago. There's a debate as to whether the cause of this is hormonal, a result of brain structure, or a psychological condition. I wish there was more to write but nothing in this story is screamingly stupid, and I read the original, better story in Salon. Perhaps Flop (who wants to French every lady, pretty or otherwise) has something to add.

Is That a Plane in Your Hand? What the hell is up with that headline? Are you even trying anymore, Styles section? Long story short, you can buy different tennis racquets.

For Men at the Gym, It's Step, Step, Step Panic! Dudes don't like going to aerobics classes because they're full of women, and they feel emasculated. Huh. Myself, I find the entire idea of gyms emasculating, but I grew up in a part of the world where tipping cows was our exercise. The idea of being surrounded by sweating strangers sounds like hell to me, and I pity the gymgoers. To my shock, the article quotes someone that I know slightly, but otherwise, if you've read my first sentence, you know the whole story.

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