Archive for February, 2009
About ten years ago, I lucked into a dream job managing a punk rock band that, for a while, rode a crest of some fame in Cleveland, Ohio of all places. I was in my early 20s, making more money than I knew what to do with at the time, and booked an out of town gig for the band in New Orleans for Halloween. It was a fancy affair, so when we arrived in Louisiana, I realized I didn’t have anything nice enough to wear for what shaped up to be a phenomenal night, so I splurged at Saks Fifth Avenue for a whole new outfit.
I spared no expense that day, and bought a Donna Karan velvetine shirt that felt so soft, so warm, so luxurious, I must have run the material through my fingers a thousand times, fascinated, in complete awe that something so wonderful could actually be mine. It was definitely a step up from the closet full of Gap, Banana Republic, and J. Crew back home.
I paired the shirt with a pair of size 28 Dolce & Gabanna jeans that I could never dream of squeezing into again today, if my life depended on it, but back then I rocked like nobody’s business.
The last splurge was a pair of Gucci boots that cost more than I’ve spent on shoes, total, in the decade since (averaging about one new pair a year, when the old one wears out, I’m not a big shopper, especially when it comes to shoes).
In that outfit, I really did feel triumphant and magical. It felt like all eyes were on me, in a good way, in a great way, actually. I went to our concert that night, did all the press I needed to do, and rocked the after party in my fantastic new threads. Looking back, it was really one of the most spectacular nights of my life — an extravagance I’ll never repeat, but one I can’t say I’ve ever regretted, because it was my very own personal “Pretty Woman, they finally let Julia Roberts shop” sort of scene.
And the fat, pimply-faced, awkwkard kid that’s always still inside me, no matter how old I get or what I do with my life, got to put aside all of that awkwardness for a night, and rock out like the rock stars he managed. He got to feel as cool as the guys in the band. And he truly, deeply, loved those expensive new clothes.
Loved them a little too, much, to be honest.
Because long after I stopped managing the band, I kept that outfit in my closet, in plastic bags, for special nights out. Whenever I needed that extra boost of confidence, whenever I needed to feel sexy, I put that Donna Karan shirt on, and squeezed (with ever greater difficulty), into those incredible jeans, slipping into those boots (which, for the fortune they cost, sure fell apart quickly).
After a while, people started to politely notice I “was always wearing the same shirt”, after one too many times of telling me how much they liked it, and the seemingly unalienable luster of that velvetine began to fade away. Probably three years had gone by since that Julia Roberts moment in New Orleans, and I had no idea how ridiculous I started to look, always sporting my now signature, dated, absurd “style”.
And then, one night in grad school, I rocked my “favorite outfit” for the very last time, the night before a class I couldn’t miss, at a party I really shouldn’t have gone to (for my own good). As parties are apt to do, especially the good ones, what was supposed to be a 2am night lasted well past dawn and far into breakfast. Two trains and a cab later, I slinked onto campus bleary-eyed, in the clothes I’d worn the night before, reeking of cigarettes from the days when bars still filled with smoke all night long. I was an absolute mess, dead tired, walking around a sunny college campus as absolutely out of place as a person could be, where everyone else looked like they stepped out of an Abercrombie catalog, while I seemed to have tumbled out of a relatively sedate Cher video.
People stared, and not in a good way.
Some people even giggled, because I was so totally out of place, and what I was wearing was so ridiculously inappropriate.
The class I had that morning was once a week, and the sort that I wasn’t allowed to miss without failing. That day, the professor, of course, had be give a presentation to the entire 100 person class…when I became painfully aware of how ridiculous everyone thought I looked. It was a nightmare.
An absolute nightmare.
And after the class, I headed back to my apartment, where I stood in front of the full length mirror, in the scalding light of day, and realized how truly stupid I looked in velvetine at 11am in Cleveland.
No matter how great my “favorite outfit” looked once upon a time, or out at a night club, it was ridiculous and inappropriate for walking around in the daytime, or for going to class or work in. As much as I loved wearing those wonderful, expensive, enchanting clothes — and as much fun as I always had in them — I realized it was time to put them away, at least for a little while, and start wearing things that were more appropriate.
So, when I see Michelle Obama wearing sleeveless dresses to Obama’s speech before Congress or in her official White House portraits, or watch her don inappropriate cocktail attire to the Inauguration, with a hideously unflattering gown for the balls, I actually feel empathy for her, because I’ve been where she is now.
And I’ve seen pictures of Michelle from high school, and know she was never number one on anyone’s dance list, and realize a lot of the skowls she makes or attitude she projects stems from growing up awkward and lanky, with unflattering, unglamorous clothes.
So, now that she has the opportunity to revel in attention, wear expensive things, and grace the covers of magazines, Michelle heads for the sleeveless dresses that are her personal velvetine Donna Karan shirt and tight Dolce and Gabanna jeans.
She doesn’t seem to have anyone to tell her how ridiculous she looks in sleeveless dresses in winter, anymore than I had someone to call me out for wearing that Donna Karan everywhere. Sure, people laughed at me and made comments, some of which I heard, while others were shared behind my back. But, being human, I generally only listened to people who complimented me, just as it seems Michelle’s only paying attention to those who call her a fashion icon, ignoring those who called her Inaugural gown a Flintstones-inspired Yabba Dabba Don’t.
Michelle Obama’s allergic to sleeves because inside she’s an awkward, challenged girl, still, wanting to dazzle the way she always imagined she could, without regard for the appropriateness of that dazzling in February, at events that are not cocktail parties or balls.
She wears sleeveless cocktail dresses the way I wore nightclub clothes to class on campus, in broad daylight.
And she looks as ridiculous as I did back then.
Will she realize this one day and start dressing appropriately?
Yes, of course she will.
Just like I did.
Who knows when it will happen, but maybe she’ll begin to compare the photo album her staff’s building of her time in the White House with the First Ladies who’ve come before her, and she’ll start to see how inappropriate evening wear is during broad daylight.
The antidote to her sleeve allergy is historic perspective, and the realization that the four years she’ll spend in America’s house are something that will live on long after she’s gone, and could either be the butt of retrospective fashion jokes, or could be timeless and memorable in all the right ways.
It’s up to her how she’ll be ultimately remembered and represented in all the history books. But, she hasn’t been in this role long enough to realize that yet.
The sleeveless dresses will be put away in time, I’m sure.
But, they’ll never be thrown out, of course. Because I still have that Donna Karan shirt in my closet, wrapped in plastic, as it’s the only designer shirt I’ve ever owned, and still enjoy pulling it out every once in a awhile to see if it still fits, and to feel that marvelous velveteen and remember how clueless and excited I was a lifetime ago when I first bought it.
So I think I understand why Michelle’s doing what she’s doing, and also know she’ll evolve out of her sleeveless phase in time.
It won’t be soon enough, frankly, but like with me and my own “favorite outfit”, it will be better than never.
Chicago, IL Tea Party
Friday, February 27, 2009
11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.
Daley Plaza Civic Center
50 W Washington St.
Contact Info: 312/282-9310
UPDATE: If you are attending any of the Tea Parties, in Chicago or elsewhere, wear all black, like it’s a big funeral for Democracy and the American republic. Which, it kind of is, come to think of it.
UPDATE: Photos from the Chicago Tea Party:
Things kicked off at Daley Plaza in The Loop at 11am, just across from the new Block 37 studios of CBS Chicago. Once assembled, the group of about 500 marched with police escort from Daley Plaza, up to Wacker, then over to Michigan Avenue, across the Chicago River, and onto Tribune Plaza, where giant statues of Grant Woods’ American Gothic stand.
11:00 a.m. Bilateral with Her Excellency Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Vice President for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy of the Commission of the European Communities.
11:30 a.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Franco Frattini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic.
11:00 a.m. Senior State Department and USAID Officials will brief reporters ON BACKGROUND on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming travel to the Middle East and Europe. The briefing will be held in the U.S. Department of State Press Briefing Room, room 2209.
12:30 p.m. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David T. Johnson will deliver remarks on camera, on the record on the release of the 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report in the U.S. Department of State Press Briefing Room, room 2209. Assistant Secretary Johnson will respond to questions following his opening remarks.
Go, Hillary, Go!
Sometimes we’re really amused by the completely random Google search terms people use to reach this site. Outside the realm of politics, people looking for information on werewolves, hot guys, Queen Hatshepsut, and Pearl Harbor stop by here, for whatever reason, no doubt as surprised as we are that a Hillary Clinton site is part of their day.
There’s totally a haiku in this somewhere, we just know it.
This is one of those things we keep telling you about that’s absolutely ridiculous, but how things are done, The Chicago Way. $10.1 million for designing an Olympics mascot? Of course it’s not going to really cost that much, in actual dollars. It’s probably about $5,000 or $6,000 to design the mascot, and the rest of those millions will go to graft and corruption. The way things are always done around here.
And, of course, this is consistent with the problems we have with Obama’s Trillion Dollars in Spending: how many of the projects in the spending bill Obama rushed through Congress are like the $10.1 million Olympics mascot design? Projects that should cost millions less than what was listed, but because they received no debate or scrutiny, millions will be wasted needlessly…on a much, much larger scale than the Olympics mascot boondoggle.
Which, in the end, will most likely produce something hideous and bizarre, like Atlanta’s 1996 “Izzy” character.
The best suggestion for Chicago’s Olympics mascot that we’ve heard so far? A foursome of cuddly Chicago inspired animals, to conjure up images of The Chicago Way: a sloth, a rat, a pig, and a weasel.
Much like the animals that symbolized the Salt Lake City Olympics and mountain winter spirit, but instead representing all that Chicago really has to offer, now brought to the national scene by way of Obama.
The room these photo ops take place in at Foggy Bottom is so beautiful, with that pretty pale blue and the crystal chandalier.
It makes us so happy to see Hillary Clinton thriving in her role as Secretary of Great — Go, Hillary, Go!
We don’t watch Rachel Maddow, and for the longest time thought she was Ralph Macchio, but find it interesting she’s now apparently a fan of Hillary Clinton — or at least of her coat.
And, it is a very nice coat.
But, not as nice as the one she wore last year during the primaries, with the resilient little squares on it, like it was made from T-Rex or velociraptor. That defiant coat that weathered many storms, and turned up everywhere from McKeesport, Pennsylvania to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, as Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton proved each and every day why she’s our champ and hard-working heroine.
THAT, is a coat.
THAT, is a fighter.
And that’s why this lady is our CHAMP.
And while we’re happy the Karate Kid approves of what Clinton’s wearing these days, Maddow’s a little late to the party.
And it’s not the coats that make this woman, as fabulous and elements-defying as they are. This woman makes everything she wears, and everything she does, special.
We. Love. This. Woman.
And all her coats too, apparently.
This is Rahm Emanuel’s Smurf-blue and strawberry pink house in the Lakeview area of Chicago, in Illinois’ 5th Congressional District.
And this is Strawberry Shortcake’s strawberry pink and Smurf-blue Cupcake Cottage, in the Berry Falls area of Strawberry Land’s Porcupine Peak district.
This is Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, a foul-mouthed grown man living in a fabulous Smurf-blue and strawberry pink dream house.
This is Strawberry Shortcake, adventuress of Strawberry Land, a sassy grown woman living in a fabulous strawberry pink and Smurf-blue dream house.
Separated at the berry patch?
Who would have thought that foul, vile potty-mouth was hiding so much strawberry scented sweetness.
“Pass the creme anglaise and a rusty fork, Motherf***ers! Momma’s schooling you down to the strawberry patch, and you’re gonna like it berry, berry much”.
Term in Office: November 6th, 1852 – March 3rd, 1853
Succeeded by: William L. Marcy
- Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, April 11, 1794;
- Graduated from Harvard University in 1811;
- Pursued theological studies and received M.A. degree in 1814;
- Became pastor of the Brattle Street Unitarian Church, Boston, in 1814;
- Studied and traveled in Europe 1815-1819 receiving a Ph.D. degree at Gottingen in 1817;
- Occupied the chair of Greek literature at Harvard University, 1819-1825;
- Edited the North American Reviert 1820-1824;
- Married Charlotte Gray Brooks in 1822; was a Representative from Massachusetts, 1825-1835;
- Governor of Massachusetts, 1836-1839;
- Served as Minister to Great Britain 1841-1845;
- President of Harvard 1846-1849;
- Was commissioned Secretary of State in President Fillmore’s Cabinet November 6, 1852, entered upon his duties the same day, and served until March 3, 1853;
- As Secretary of State, declined a proposal of France and Great Britain that the United States enter into a convention with them guaranteeing to Spain the possession of Cuba;
- Senator from Massachusetts 18531854; became known as one of the greatest orators of his day;
- Unsuccessful candidate for the Vice Presidency on the Constitutional-union ticket in 1860;
- Presidential elector in 1864;
- Died in Boston January 15, 1865.
Happy 29th birthday, Chelsea Victoria Clinton!
1980 – Bill and Hillary Clinton’s greatest accomplishment, born this day in Little Rock, Arkansas
1560 – Treaty of Berwick expels French from Scotland
1594 – Henry IV crowned King of France
1617 – Treaty of Stolbovo between Sweden and Russia ends Ingrian War, shutting Russia out of Baltic Sea
1700 – New Britain discovered
1797 – Bank of England issues first one and two pound notes
1801 – Washington, DC placed under jurisdiction of Congress (District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801)
1844 – Dominican Republic independent of Haiti
1860 – Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech
1900 – British Labour party formed
1922 – SCOTUS rebuffs challenge to women’s right to vote in Leser v. Garnett
1933 – Reichstag fire
1939 – Sit-down strikes ruled illegal by SCOTUS
1945 – Lebanon declares independence
1951 – 22nd Amendment to Constitution, limiting presidents to two terms, is ratified
1964 – Italy asks for help to keep Leaning Tower of Pisa from falling
1967 – Dominica independent of Great Britain
1974 – People Magazine published for first time
1986 – US Senate allows its debates to be televised
1991 – President George H.W. Bush announces liberation of Kuwait
1999 – Olusegon Obasanjo becomes Nigeria’s first democratically elected President since the 1980s
2007 – Chinese correction: Shanghai Stock Exchange falls 9%, largest drop in 10 years