The Wednesday Outlook: February 29, 2012

If you’re a dog in Minnesota today, this is how you should dress before going out:

A beagle wearing a coat and snow booties.

You may have already heard this, or perhaps noticed it yourself by looking at a calendar, but today is Leap Day.

Tonight I may put together a note detailing where I am today and where I hope to be 4 years from now. I would seal this up in an envelope with a $20 bill and then hide it away until the next Leap Day, in 2016.

Why would I do this? I tend to get a big charge out of reading my goals from a distance. They make me more sympathetic to my former self and all I was trying to do. I feel tenderness towards this woman from the past, almost as if it’s not me. Also, it would be interesting and telling to see how much of it comes to pass, how much falls by the wayside and how much I actually care about any of it.

The $20 will be for me to find and get excited about. Like finding money in the pocket of a winter coat I shoved into the closet the previous spring. Found money! Hooray! I will use it to go buy myself a tea and whatever additional food item I will be able to afford for $20.

What will I be able to buy for $20?

To that end, perhaps I should treat my Leap Day Letter like a time capsule, noting what was happening and how things were.

  • Gas was $3.65/gallon (what will it be 4 years from now? I think $6 or $7 per gallon.)
  • We were waiting to see if Romney, Santorum or Gringrich got the Republican nomination. (How did that all work out?)
  • My cat Jones spent the day sitting next to me, staring and purring. (He’s an elder statescat. Will he still be with us?)
  • Facebook was forcing everyone to convert to Timeline. (How many new versions/schemes have been launched in 4 years?)
  • The Artist just won Best Picture at the Academy Awards (Do we still have the Academy Awards?)

And so on and so forth. What I know, from keeping journals off and on my entire life, is that, in looking back, we often judge ourselves less harshly that at the time of writing. We feel that, even just a few years in the future, times were simpler back when we did the writing. I feel this way about 2008, 2006, 2003… I get weepy thinking about 1994.

The Round-Up

Reading: I’ve been excited about fashion history lately. I’m reading two fashion-related books. One is The Fashionable Mind by Kennedy Fraser, former fashion writer for The New Yorker (1970s-early 80s) and another book called The Classic Ten by Nancy MacDonell Smith. This book looks at the story behind ten classic fashion items many of us have in our closets – the little black dress, the white shirt, jeans, cashmere sweaters. It’s fascinating because so much gets pulled into each story – fashion depends on what’s happening in history, economics, pop culture. It makes you think about what black symbolizes, about where cashmere comes from, when men started to wear suits, etc. Highly recommend.

Watching: After finishing the first season of Boardwalk Empire, my watching habits have been stagnant. Except for Smash, of course. Curiously, one of my favorite shows on network TV right now is Shark Tank, the reality show in which entrepreneurs present their businesses to a panel of venture capitalists like Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran (heart) and Daymond John (the tightest of the Sharks).

Not only is it often hilarious to watch people present their products, it’s educational to watch the negotiations (which I know are highly edited for TV). Last week, Mark Cuban became my hero when he backed out on a guy who was trying to sell a watch that cancelled “negative ions” and “restored balance” for the wearer. Cuban said it was bullshit and wanted no part of a scam. It was strange how exhilarating it was to see someone tell the truth on reality TV. Even on TV in general. Hell, in this society. Yeah, it was a stupid digital watch but still… In the time of shows like The Bachelor, it’s refreshing to see someone call foul.

Anticipating: Last December I highlighted t-shirts from the company Out of Print as possible Xmas gifts. Now they have announced t-shirts with children’s books on them – for adults. Woot! Here is a link to the Women’s page of their site – check to see if your favorite book is represented. Right now they have about 9 books represented. No Where The Sidewalk Ends.

Also, Jonathan Adler recently announced that a retail store will open in Uptown in Minneapolis this spring. I’ve been a fan of Adler’s ceramics and designs for a long time (plus, he’s likeable person with a great story). Lately, he’s been branching out at an alarming rate, even doing cardboard cover-ups for rolls of toilet paper. That’s the way it is when someone gets popular… they cash in, become ubiquitous and some fans end up feeling a bit sad, maybe due to loss of “exclusivity”… Although who among us would not want retail outlets bearing our name or deals with big companies to design stuff for their products? Good design does not remain a secret and it should be rewarded.

However, the snob in me knows that I will definitely visit the new store but probably never buy anything… because now everyone can and will have it. I know that’s terrible but it’s true. It’s part of the reason IKEA lost its luster for me… I used to love to fantasize about going to Chicago to load up on IKEA but now that I can go there any time I want, and I’ve experienced standing in long lines while everyone throws their cheap merch up onto the inconvenient check-out counters, I’ve lost interest.

Except when I need an inexpensive lamp…


One thought on “The Wednesday Outlook: February 29, 2012

  1. I am a Jonathan Adler fan, too. But as you say it was more fun when you could only find his stuff on-line or in boutiques. So much for that….IKEA phenomenon, indeed.

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