Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vermont Fashion Fusion

They say that for every silver lining there is a dark cloud. The cold drizzle that we call Spring in Vermont has driven me inside. It has occasioned me to train my analytical eye upon a topic worthy of my acute power of perception … fashion fusion. Vermont style. In particular, I am speaking of the look that I shall call Vermont casual, bordering on neglect, with that of Madison Avenue … a look that I feel much at ease in both discussing and exemplifying.  My intent is to introduce this revolutionary approach to fashion to the world. Vermont Madison Avenue.  An oxymoron in an ocean of oxymorons.   VT Mad Men. Not Rasputin.  Not Charlie Manson. Mad Men as in 1950’s,  NYC advertising agency gray-suits.

The solution was simple … shop local. And that is exactly what I did. I headed for the Newfane Flea Market. The answer was there … the fedora. That is all it would take. I negotiated fiercely and secured my prize with an offer of $12 and a commitment to forgo the hatbox.  The fedora was mine …and now the world’s!

I adorn myself … my fedora rakishly cocked to one side and pulled low over the eye. The brim … up in back and down in front. The double earrings, tattoo and sandals replace the gray-pinstripes and echo Vermont. I am transformed. I am Dick Tracy with double earrings. I Humphrey Bogart with a calf tattoo. I am Spencer Tracy with in birks.  Today will be a bad day in Black Rock.  I flip the front brim up and with a finger ease the fedora back on my head and the gray suit disappears. I am Spencer Tracy in a London T-shirt. I feel the hand line tighten and I dream of the struggle with fish of my dreams. Wait until the people of the village see this.

Vermont Fashion Fusion. I remember, years ago, gliding down the slopes of Jay Peak with every eye glued to my every move. But, it wasn’t the skiing techniques they ooed and aahed about. It was my ski pants … fashionably adorned with spiraled patterns of duct tape to cover the holes and tears. Who would have thought then that I would again be standing in the forefront of fashion … standing the fashion world on its ear …

… introducing the world to Vermont Fashion Fusion.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amsterdam No. 5 - De Wallen -The Red Light District

There is nothing in Amsterdam quite so bizarre as the Red Light District. Yet, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without at least a brief visit there.  By brief, I don’t mean a 15-minute formal visit behind the curtains.  This was my second time. The first time was forty years ago. Anne and I were finishing up a month-long adventure in Europe, the last week of which was in Amsterdam. My brother, Ron, had told me that while in Amsterdam, we had to see the Red Light District. I was 22 and newly married and worried that it would not be a safe area to take Anne. My solution … I sneaked out one night when Anne was tired and had gone to bed early. I planned to check it out to make sure it was safe. Unfortunately, I went the wrong direction. I found a Red Light District, but it was more like the low-rent one. Instead of the attractive, seductive girls dressed in sassy lingerie sitting or standing in the large picture windows and flashing prices with hand signals, I was accosted by the 50+ set of obese, and often toothless ladies bargaining for my business. Throw in a man hiding in the hidden doorway along a dark alleyway and someone trailing me through the half lit streets until I stopped under a streetlight and stared him down, and you pretty much have a glimpse of my first impressions of the Red Light District.

I would later discover that I had checked out the wrong place. Anne and I went to the real McCoy and it was basically like my brother said … large picture windows bathed in the red glow of the lights … flimsy, see-through nightgowns … slim sexy girls tapping on the windows to get you attention and lure you in.  The streets were busy, but not filled, with a mixture of clients and tourists and the atmosphere was surreal, yet calm.

Not so anymore. The Red Light District is a carnival. It is a beehive of activities with roving bands of gray-headed tour groups parading through the streets, tour guide in front with umbrella or flag held aloft as if a beacon. There are old men gawking at the prostitutes and little old ladies tisking … everyone anticipating the next WC stop more so than the ladies of the night. Scattered like weeds on barren ground are sex shops and live sex shows. 


We stop to examine a window display of a shower, fitted with an installment of an artificial vagina at waist height … just what every man-cave needs! Dildos the size of surf boards … sex creams … sex salves … sex fragrances … postage stamp panties … and sex post cards by the thousands.   

All the girls have tattoos now and many gyrate and posture with phone in hand  … texting all the while … not quite able to hide the look of boredom just under the surface. The windows are two-way mirrors. Who is sizing who up? Lust and disgust, but who is labeling who?  Business is good here … there is no recession … no depression. Save me … I am depressed.

How sad. It is a business. I find it superior to our Victorian approach. Yet, how sad that women or men must resort to this to make their living. How sad that this warped refection in the mirror is “sex” to so many. Is it a question of  “What have we become?” or  is it “Who are we?”


I don’t have the answers. I peek between my fingers and move on.