Category Archives: Zeitgeist

The Short Stack: May 23

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and randomness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy with some coconut water and circus peanuts!

I know I can’t save the world but I can do my part to make it a better place and that’s why I’m leading off with this:

Really ugly jean shorts

This is a mistake. There’s a shop online that’s trying to sell this as a look for summer. No, no, no… this is not a look one purchases. This is a look one arrives at after a series of bad choices that initially have nothing to do with clothing.

To my mind, this is a look we left behind in the 90s, emerging as better, stronger, faster people once this was behind us.

I saw an article in a magazine that asked people, “When did you know you were really an adult?” and, had I been asked as a “woman on the street,”  I would have said, “The day I knew cut-off denim shorts were no longer an option for me, not because I have heavy thighs but because I have taste.”

[OK, I do kind of hate my thighs. I guess I’m not that evolved.]

[Being a “woman on the street” interview would be on my bucket list if I could stand the term “bucket list.” But I don’t want to be asked something like, “What do you think was the most important outcome of The Second Sino-Japanese War?” I want someone to ask me, “What do you think of jean shorts?” so that I can say, ‘I despise them. Jean shorts are everything that’s wrong with our society today.” ]

The Murakami t-shirts arrived!

Peter Cat Jazz Murakami tshirt

I discovered They Draw and Cook this week and got super excited. They have cool t-shirts with a monkey on them, too. I’m going to make blueberry muffins.

Shopping IRL
The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul
Zinnia Folk Arts in Mpls

Shopping Online
Chiapas Bazaar

You probably know this but Orange Is the New Black season deuce comes out at 12:01 am on June 6. But you probably knew. You’re all connected and shit.

Chromeo’s lastest, White Woman, is out.

Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words (Yeah, I’m on a kick)
The Origin of Satan (we should all know, right?)

*Preparing annual Summer Reading List, to be shared on this site and then (probably) promptly disregarded.

Looking At

Some of the best work I saw at last weekend’s Art-a-Whirl in Northeast Mpls was hanging in a hallway at the California Building – the paintings of Ryan Peltier, an artist and illustrator from Minneapolis.

painting by Ryan Peltier

His work, painted on boards and framed in dark wood, has an otherworldly feel, like you’re looking through a porthole at action you can’t quite understand – it could either be an innocent gathering or happening or very sinister. Maybe it’s both – poised right at the moment when something is about to take a dark turn. It’s hard to tell, which is why you want to keep on studying it and forming a narrative.

There’s something about his style that reminds me a little bit of the work of cartoonist Charles Addams.

When I went online to find his site, I also discovered his awesome illustrations of people in addition to his paintings.

Thinking About
Kanashibari (Sleep Paralysis)

Why my dog likes to roll on top of dead animals with liquified organs that get into the scruff of her neck and are sprayed all over my face when she shakes herself off mid-bath.

What to do when I find out that people I like/respect sincerely believe in astronomy.

Why anyone would throw a “90s Dance Party” and not play a single hip hop song? Few people want to dance to Better Than Ezra, many people want to dance to “Daisy Duks” by Duice. Hey, fat man who hasn’t left his basement since 1997, I don’t make the rules. Listen to the people. I’ll even let you wear those jean shorts.

[Warning: only watch this video if you want this song in your head for the next three days.]



The Short Stack: May 16

Every Friday (every Friday I can manage it), I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and randomness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy with a banana and a pale ale!

Foot in tennis shoe in grass
I call this “Foot Standing in Grass.”

I don’t even know why I’m writing this. They found Casey Kassem this week and that’s really all that matters. What else is there to say?

Well, I can start by asking if anyone else remembers Casey’s wife, Jean, appearing on episodes of Cheers as Loretta, wife of Carla’s ex, Nick.

You do? Yeah. Wow. Good times, right? Those were the days.

On the www
Have you discovered The Selby yet? I mean, it’s not new, just new to me. It’s interviews with arty/cool people in their arty/cool places. It’s alternately inspiring and annoying – you know, a lot of “so and so makes things out of yarn and moved to London…” without a mention of family money. But that’s a small thing – it’s so well-done and you can get a lot of ideas for your own life and environs from looking at it.

There are also three Selby books, one of which I’ve read – The Selby Is In Your Place – but the newest one about offbeat world fashion looks the most interesting. It’s got stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 3.37.03 PM

Which reminds me of one of my favorite photo books, (un)Fashion, compiled by one of my favorite illustrators Maira Kalman and her (late) husband, Tibor Kalman. It has stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 3.42.06 PM
Which now reminds me that Maira Kalman has a new book out, something she did with Daniel Handler, called Girls Standing on Lawns. I first heard about it on The New Yorker’s Culture Desk blog. It’s paintings of historic photos of girls standing on lawns. And short poem-caption thingies.

maira kalman illustration of woman on fence
From Girls Standing on Lawns by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Which leads me to remember something else (this is a LOT of remembering this week). My whole life I have not known where to put my hands when I’m dancing. I mean, not totally-getting-down dancing but more that swagger thing you do at concerts when you’re packed in with other people but the music is good so you want to dance and you’re moving your shoulders and then you realize that your arms are just hanging there like hams strung up in the smokehouse.

So then I try to do something with my hands but everything short of clapping or a fist pump feels so artificial that all I’m thinking about is how lame my hands must look. Then I notice what other people are doing with their hands.

Then I realize that there are a lot of hands in the crowd. Like, if you made a pile of them (if you could safely do that without hurting anyone), it would be a big pile of hands. And also a lot of teeth and hair. A big cavernous room of teeth and hair.

And then, while I’m lost in my own head thinking that, the concert ends and it doesn’t matter WHAT I’m doing with my damn hands.

People, it’s Art-a-Whirl weekend in Northeast Minneapolis. So much to do, so much to do! This is the time of year when I decide that I’m interested in things like at-home bronze casting.

Indeed Brewing is having music (along with a kabillion other venues) but only they have the Black Eyed Snakes on Saturday night at 8 pm.

And when that’s over with, time to head over to the Video Mania/Art-A-Whirl Dance Party put on by the 90s Preservation Society at Spring Street Tavern. You don’t even have to dress up, you can be all normcore about it!

I’ve been looking for something BIG to do, something that will involve physical fitness and travel, and I think I may have found it in this bike trek through Vietnam. 2015? Anyone??

If you’re looking for a cool/pretty case for your iphone, I think these choices from Rifle Paper Co. are some of the best I’ve seen, plus they are sturdy (you can choose from slim or inlay versions). I’ve got my eye on all the flowers, especially Spanish Rose.

Have a happy and stimulating weekend! If you’re in Mpls, see some art.

The Short Stack: May 2

Every Friday (every Friday I can manage it), I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and randomness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy with a crusty bread and citrusy wine!

Let’s get this show on the road. Tomorrow, May 3, is my birthday, but I always start my birthday celebration the day before, at least in my mind.

So, happy birthday to me!

Happy Birthday cat and cupcake!

It’s been a rough warm-up to the birthday. It’s rained every day, often all day, for the past five days. It is dark, gloomy and wet. Luckily, I’ve had an enthralling book to take my mind off things. So far off things, in fact, that I realized tonight that all I’ve done since Sunday is read about flappers and go to work.

The book is Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell and it tells the stories of Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, Tamara de Lempicka, Tallulah Bankhead and Josephine Baker.

painting by Tamara de Lempicka
Detail from painting by Tamara de Lempicka

I’ve learned so much! I’m bursting with so much information that I’ll periodically turn to Keith while I’m reading and announce, “Flapper fact!” before entertaining him with a factoid I’ve just read. Among the interesting flapper facts:

  • There was a lot of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed mental illness in the 20s and 30s. I know that we lament our mental health system today, but it looks like Candyland when compared to a world where one either had a “nervous breakdown,” and went away for a little while, or had a complete breakdown and when away for years, possibly forever.
  • Josephine Baker slept with whoever she had to sleep with to get ahead and get out of the slums of St. Louis and I don’t think she wasted any time feeling bad about it and ended up having a sweet life in Paris (at least as far as I’ve read so far) and that’s refreshing, in a way. I’m not saying fun or cool or deserved but she didn’t waste a lot of time dwelling on things.
  • It was very common and very unsafe and very illegal to have an abortion.
  • Hysterectomies were performed often and liberally.
  • The secret to being successful at something, or at least getting better at it, is to simply do it and keep doing it. You might not find fame and fortune but you’ll probably live a life you can feel good about. And you may find a sliver of fame, a dab of fortune.
  • Cocaine was considered a god-send by many women. Ditto morphine.
  • Being thin was important in the 1920s. Lots of crash diets. So don’t think that just sprang up out of nowhere in the 90s or something.
  • Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a horrible, truly depressing marriage, most of which was brought about, in my opinion, because Zelda wasn’t able to be the artist she truly was without the shadow of Scott hanging over her (alcoholism and mental illness also played a role). When she sold stories to magazines they often insisted on having it be in both their names or just his alone! That would be enough for me to go berserk as well.

New Haruki Murakami novel gets released in the U.S. this August! Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Did you know that before Murakami was one of the greatest writers ever he owned a jazz club in Tokyo? It was called Peter Cat Jazz. I’m hoping to make my own Peter Cat Jazz t-shirt with my own design but poking around on the Murakami fan blog I found an image of a coaster from the club with featuring its real “branding”:

Peter Cat Jazz club coaster from Murakami's jazz club in Tokyo

Fargo, Mad Men, Orphan Black.

Just found out that Sharknado is streaming on Netflix.

If you haven’t seen Purple Rose of Cairo it’s funny and  entertaining and reminded me of Midnight in Paris (which has a great soundtrack, btw, with a song by Josephine Baker on it). Jeff Daniels is young and fresh-faced and Mia Farrow manages not to annoy (but, as Keith pointed out, she’s basically a stand-in for Woody Allen in the movie – since there was no part for him he seems to have made Mia do an impersonation of him the entire time which, oddly enough, didn’t bug me).

Falling Asleep
I can’t get enough sleep. When I’m awake I’m wishing I was asleep. When I’m asleep I pop awake and worry about not sleeping. Tonight, while I was walking the dog, I wondered, “What would it take to really, fully relax?” What would it take to get a full night’s sleep and have oodles of energy? I decided I didn’t have that answer but it’s something I need to figure out in the next year. I suspect that it might involve vitamin D and meditation. And a hot tub.

Strange Book People
I was excited to go to a book sale at my neighborhood library. I love libraries! I’m a Friend of the Library. Once, at this very sale, I came across the entire Doonesbury collection for Keith.

But the sale was overrun by book collectors or sellers, maybe both. The kind of people who run around the sale throwing books into boxes and putting annoying tags on the full boxes that say “Sold,” even though they intend to sit down on the floor and sort through them at their leisure, basically holding a bunch of books hostage so no one else can even look at them.

There were women with those little gadgets attached to their smart phones that allowed them to scan book bar codes and instantly see what the book was worth and they just worked their way down the rows, scanning furiously. There were pasty women in visors and pastel sweatshirts with rolling suitcases stuffed to the gills with books.

And none of them want you to look at anything, lest you get to some prize before they can pile it into their box.

It made me sad. It was not something I wanted to be part of, even if all the money went to the library. Humans always find a way to take something basic and fun and make it suck. It’s not possible to have a book sale to benefit the library without some weirdos turning it into a hoarding spree, piling their cartons high with books.

“Relax,” I wanted to say to the hunched man wearing a sweatband around his head as he humped from table to table. “You don’t need all the books. Be a decent person.”

I can just hear them, “This is how we make our living. It’s a sale – everything is fair game.”

To that I say, I don’t care. This aggression will not stand, man.

Thing I’m Missing This Weekend (That I’m Going to Next Year)
Modern Vintage Chicago

Stuff I Want for My B-day
Dynasty: Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD
Gold shoes
Skinny black pantsBooks, books and more books… but I don’t need all of the books. I’m not going to snatch one out of your hand, for instance.
Cloisonné earrings, preferably of tiny fans or something with flowers. Because you can still find great cloisonné right now, but get it while you can…  Like these babies!

vintage cloisonne earrings of fans with cranes

The Short Stack: April 18

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random goodness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy with a glass of wine and some party peanuts!

Interior with Dog by Matisse
Interior with Dog, Henri Matisse

I did some thrift shopping this week and I stumbled across this:

 Trouble on the Dance Floor by Joey London

That’s right, a self-published memoir about years spent goin’ to da club. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean, “the COMPLETE Guide to Emergent Nightclub Dancing.” People, this is over 25 years of nightclub dancing wisdom in one comprehensive book! I’m talking tips, tricks, techniques, social strategies, outrageous tales, emotional alchemy, physiology, physics, theory of mind, self-preservation and dance archetypes all in one 336 page book.

I want to make the infomercial for this book. I want to sell this book on QVC.

I paid $3.99. It really should have been $1 but it’s like someone in the back room knew I was coming. “Oh, Rebecca’s coming today. Put this thing out for, like, three more dollars than it’s worth so she can have that moment of wrestling with herself before she totally puts it in her cart anyway.

Here’s the last line in the book, “I grabbed a light beer for the hair of the dog thing and jumped in the shower to make ready for heading to the club tonight.”


I’m eager to read this densely-typed book that is surely 326 pages longer than it needs to be. Meanwhile, Moby Dick has been sitting on my shelf uncracked for over a year. What can I say,  I’m someone who craves new ideas about what it means to be human.

I will be tweeting the better lines from this book.

Also reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, one of my all-time favorite memoirs and  You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, a novelist who is new to me and one of those writers I find and wonder why I haven’t heard of them before. This always gives me so much hope – so much good reading yet to be discovered!

When You’re at the Crossroads of Should and Must – this is where I feel like I am lately. You? Money. Time. Security. Success. Being misunderstood. What are you afraid of?

I was so excited to watch An Unmarried Woman this week. It was just me and the dog (and the stupid cat, who was upstairs conducting his ongoing love affair with the bathroom faucet) and Netflix. All I knew going in was that the movie was from 1978, takes place in New York and that it got Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actress. These are all good things!

But the movie is ridiculous to someone who lives in 2014. The world has changed in leaps and bounds and, for better or worse, I don’t know, we do not tolerate knee-high socks in our love scenes anymore. The sweat socks, worn by star Jill Clayburgh in every scene in which she got naked and with every outfit, needed to have their own credit. They actually acted more than she did.

Everyone was so ugly in this film. The hair… Listen, the world before good conditioners and  anti-frizz hair products was a confusing and disappointing place. And the clothing… I know that the Official Palette of the 1970s includes avocado, rust, tan and beige but X took this to the very limit, going from gray sack dress to muted sack shirt to a cape the color of a sad bowl of oatmeal. Did I mention that the socks are also beige, not white?

The therapist in the movie looked like Edie Beale’s uglier cousin visiting from England. And the three best friends… well, I can’t even go there. One of them wears a pantsuit to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

You can catch a glimpse of the socks in this trailer, at about 1:35 in:

You could make a drinking game out of taking a drink every time they say, “Make a pass,” in this movie. “Did he make a pass?” “Why, did he make a pass at you?” “Are you making a pass?” “That was a pass!”

I admit I never even found out, in the end, who made the last successful pass because I pulled the plug.

Better ways to spend your viewing time: Broad City, if you, like me, don’t have cable and can just now get around to watching it, and FX’s Fargo, which I was skeptical about but ended up enjoying (first episode, anyway). Mad Men… oh, Peggy.

Detroit at the Jungle Theater
Antique show at the State Fairgrounds (although odd weekend to have it  – no show on Sunday because Jesus)
Matisse at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Chromeo at First Ave on May 6

I hope that you, like me, have a long weekend in which to put your feet up or set them on some bike pedals or get them out on the dance floor because “deep inside of you there is a great club dancer waiting to emerge.”

The Short Stack: April 4

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random goodness that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy along with a cup of tea and tiny cookies!

yes sail me hot fever sky
April is National Poetry month. Here’s mine. Want to read real poems? Check out

A week ago, I went to one of my formerly-favorite “stuff shops.” It used to be an antique/vintage shop where a person could buy a cheap sparkly top from the 70s or a band leader hat and is now a place where ladies of a certain age can get great deals on second-hand Chico’s garments. Mixed in between all the sweater jackets and jacket sweaters there are still semi-antiques to browse.

It all adds up to a strange combination and not something of which I approve. Nevertheless, I did become obsessed, for a few days, with a sequined cardigan, not Chico’s, with suns and moons on it, marked $40.

I decided I would pay $40 if the moons and stars were spaced further apart on the cloth. Yes, that’s how finely I slice things.

But while I was deciding this (yes, this anecdote has a point), I was wandering around the store picking up various objects and setting them back down while being trailed by one of several older ladies who clerk the store to make sure I didn’t stuff any overpriced sequin cardigans into my purse.

In a back corner, I found a brass skull of a horned animal. It was shaped like a deer skull but the horns were wide and magnificent. I’d never seen anything like it in brass designed just to sit on a table. It was the best of the zeitgeist: animal skulls, brass, horns, etc. It was $15.

I set it back down and walked away, thinking about that stupid cardigan. Over the weekend I suddenly realized that the skull was the coolest thing in the world. I decided to return to the shop to buy it on Monday.

How does this story end?

Yes, with me skull-less after confirming that it was sold the day before. I went back out to my car to eat a terrible tofu sandwich and sulk. Ultimately, I have to say that it’s a lesson: if there are any brass skulls sitting right in front of you at this moment, grab them. Don’t hesitate. This could be something you want to have just because you like it, or it could be something you’ve wanted to try for years but are afraid to do.

Beware the lesson of the brass skull.

The documentary Finding Vivian Maier opens in the Twin Cities on April 18 at the Edina Cinema. Not familiar with street photographer Maier? Catch up!

Re-watching season 6 of Mad Men in anticipation of the season 7 premiere on April 13.  If you, like me, can’t wait a week for more Jon Hamm, check out this video of his appearance on USA’s dating game show “The Big Date” in 1996 (brought to my attention by Keith Pille). See, we were all awkward and dorky and had weird hair!

And as a thank you to Keith, I offer up this:

The last time I got my hair cut my stylist said to me, “I want to try some mousse in your hair,” and I shuddered. I had some rough years in the 1980s when I was definitely into mousse abuse – I would take big handfuls of the stuff and mousse up the sides of my hair that that they dried into crunchy wings while the back of my hair went down. And I had bangs. It was a horrible mess. I think this is what I was striving for:

A 1980s babe in a white leotard, sunglasses and moussed hair.
But believe me when I say it was far, far away from reality. For one thing, it would never have occurred to me to wear a red belt with a white leotard. For another, I’ve never been the kind of gal for whom a white leotard was an option.

Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore, originally published in 1956.

Eat Mangoes Naked by SARK (got it at a thrift store for $2.50, may have overpaid by $2). I get a kick out of SARK’s very 1990s self-help outlook. We can be our own dance partner! This book came out in 2001 but I started eating the Inspiration Sandwich long ago and I’m pleased to see that she’s stuck with the same graphic design and color scheme.

eat mangoes naked by Sark
I want to go to The End.
Vintage turquoise on Gypsy Hunter.
Painted sneakers on etsy.
Hate to break it to you, but you’re going to need a pair of metallic gold sandals this summer. Platforms? Yeah, even better.

“Smooth Sailing” by Queens of the Stone Age
“Hundreds of Ways” by Conor Oberst
“Rattlesnake” by St. Vincent

The Short Stack: March 28

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random blips that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy along with some crackers and cheese and a beverage!

Don't worry be happy in Jamaica

It’s been quite some time since we had a good, inspirational saying we could embrace as a nation, like “Don’t worry, be happy!” or “Life’s a beach!” or “You go, girl!”  Or even “TGIF!” said without irony but with a smile and genuine enthusiasm for the green light to start drinking beer on a Friday afternoon.

Whenever I hear “TGIF!,” I imagine a bunch of co-workers at a 1980s corporation that sells… dot matrix printers… or maybe the paper for dot matrix printers?… high-fiving each other and heading over to the Fuddruckers or Bennigan’s or… TGI Friday’s that’s just down the interstate from their office building and getting drinks that are served in enormous, fun chalices that can be purchased to take home, and feasting on potato skins with a side of ranch dressing. Everything came with a side of ranch.

One of the women in the group is named Debbie and one is Brandy and there’s a guy named Brad. Always a guy named Brad. Their wants are simple and their needs are met because they work at the corporation and one of them, probably Brad, got the Saab convertible he wanted.

Good times.

Looking At
So, it might be hard to explain exactly how and why I ended up on the blog Face Detective. OK, it had to do with Googling the director Michael Cimino, who directed the 1980s flop Heaven’s Gate, only to find out that he no longer looks anything like his 1970s/80s self and now more closely resembles Yoko Ono. Or Sir Paul McCartney.


Michael Cimino then and now

Anyway, what is a “Face Detective?” Apparently: “One who possesses a particular knack for discovering unlikely “twins” and various other breeds of look-alike both celebrity and mortal.”

First I thought, “Who can devote an entire blog to this pursuit?” but then I kept reading and reading and now, well, it’s on regular rotation. Who knew this detecting could be so addicting…

Final Cut by Steven Bach, which is an account of the making of the movie Heaven’s Gate, directed by Michael Cimino, thus the Googling. Bach was senior vice-president and head of worldwide productions for United Artists when Heaven’s Gate was made in the late 1970s (it was such a bloated flop that it brought down the entire studio). So far, it’s a book for people who really, really like the details about production and executive life, but I’m hoping that it’s the old “dope-a-rope” tactic Muhammed Ali used with George Foreman during the Rumble in the Jungle – hang back, let the reader get tired, then come out swinging with full force.

Bach went on to be a professor, lecturer and writer of biographies, including one about Leni Riefenstahl that seems to be a must-read.

Are you that special kind of person who has always promised yourself that one day you will conquer Moby Dick? This summer there’s a Twin Cities-based group of Twitterers leading that charge and all doing it together in a read-along. Doesn’t matter where you are, you can join in by following the hashtag #TCMoby. Reading starts May 1. If you want to read more, check out the details on Beth Babbles About Books.

I got these vintage house slippers, never worn! They have hard-soled bottoms, so that’s cool. I’m going to rock mine with jeans.

Freja the dog posing with vintage 1960s gold house slippers

The Grand Budapest Hotel – twice. I admit to never being a huge Wes Anderson fan but this movie won me over. Everything is seamless, it’s funny, the actors are great. The story is fantastic. It’s a joy to look at. It’s like it’s 1944 – you can go to a movie and forget all your troubles, if only for a little while. Then you can go home and add some tin foil to your tin foil ball. (That’s a rationing joke) Go see it.

The Mpls/St. Paul International Film Fest gets underway next week, running from April 3-19. I used to make a point of getting the guide to all the films, reading through it pen-in-hand in order to circle the ones I wanted to see. This was more an exercise in being obsessive than because I’m a rabid fan. The most movies I ever saw during one fest was two. Here’s my new approach: look at the documentaries. Which I did today and here are my top three recommendations:
We Don’t Wanna Make You Dance
Wicker Kittens

Done and done. I always wonder about the fest parties, too. I wish they would have a hot tub party or a roller skating party. Anything other than standing around with a drink in your hand. That being said, check out the photo on the top of this page for the closing night party. One blond woman is giving the bartender a stare that says, “Where’s my frickin’ drink?!” and the other is yammering away to her date/husband, saying something like, “You know you bid too low on that lake house. We’ll never get it!”

I think closing night party should be at TGI Fridays. Chalices of frozen daiquiris for all!

P.S. Mad Men is back April 13!

Cover of Time Magazine featuring Mad Men

P.S.S. Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche
“Real Men do not relate to anything. They do not have meaningful dialogues…. They don’t go for it, catch rays, crash, party, boogie, get down, or kick out the jams.” Besides quiche, they don’t eat bean curd, tofu, pâté or yogurt; they don’t drink light beer. In clothes, they shun “pith helmets, yachting caps, bikini underwear, Sansabelt slacks, gold chains…or anything with more than three zippers.”

P.S.S.S. Dogs in Cars

The Short Stack: March 21

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random blips that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy! Or don’t. Your choice.

It’s spring! Hooray!

Can I put my puffy coat away now? Actually, let me rephrase that: can I burn my puffy coat now? This thing… it’s ripped, it’s got salt on it, it’s greasy in spots. Basically, it looks less like a coat and more like a blanket that a bear used to hibernate on all winter. I am beyond caring. I no longer even do spot cleaning like I did in January. I just let it all hang out. I think the entire things smells. I can’t put my body into it one more time. Here’s something else I’m not sure I can put my body into: denim overall shorts

I’ve got bad news: overalls are back. It was only a matter of time, right? I’ve noticed some definite overalls creep: first on ASOS, then on Madewell and, of course, Urban Outfitters.

[P.S. If someone I knew showed up wearing this “Chambray Machinist Jumpsuit” I would instantly and forever lose respect for them UNLESS they explained that they were, in fact, in the business of fixing cars and/or small motors and would hook me up for free the next time I had trouble with my washing machine.]

This is where it’s all been heading, people. First it was rompers, which you could ignore if you were no longer a baby or a very insecure 18-year-old girl who also wears fedoras. Then it was the return of the jumpsuit, which, whatever, if you didn’t live in Flatbush paying attention was optional. But I’ve got a bad feeling about the denim overall. This is the kind of shit Midwesterners will embrace, you know, because there’s a comfort level associated with it, like with flip flops. So… pack up those skinny jeans and find a piece of straw to put between your teeth as you rock your farm-chic this summer.

Look, I had my overalls phase, back in college. Except I kept it super-duper real by going and getting a pair of used overalls that were probably designed for a 300-pound man. Yeah, I have no idea. It looked like I was hauling a 10-lb. sack of potatoes in my ass, which… huh… sort of runs counter to what most 19-year-olds wanted their ass to look like when they’re at a party trying to impress some guys by dancing around like a fool to Ace of Base.

“I did it myyyyyyyy way!”

This leads me to another observation: I believe humans might have run out of things to do with denim. Maybe I’m being short-sighted here. I’m like the person who said TV would never overtake radio, the Internet wouldn’t last, who cares about Xcel spreadsheets… But I’ve got a feeling that if we’re on the second round of acid washing this cloth, we’ve come to the end of the line.

Here’s what I’m going to do: bring back the baggy jean. The kind Denise wore on The Cosby Show, belted at the waist so she got that paper bag effect. Yeah. I’m all about that.

Other Fashion Stuffs
Recently I discovered this company called Black Milk Clothing. They have a Game of Thrones clothing line, complete with models wearing Daenerys Targaryen-inspired wigs. I have to say it’s a bit disappointing – no leather outfits at all but an inexplicable ninja hooded catsuit, which no character has ever worn on any episode. Setting that aside, I’m not sure what to make of this (not Game of Thrones-inspired) swimming suit:

woman wearing a dem guts swimming suit OK, why the boots? Don’t feel like getting cigarette butts caught between your toes when you walk across the sand at the beach?

This is called “dem guts” swimming suit. I would actually pay a lot of money ($10) to see a suburban mom wear this to the water park/zero depth wading pool and stand around talking to other moms. With the boots. Maybe also smoking a Swisher Sweet.

I know, I know, so not their demographic. They actually have some other cute ones, if you are into the look and love R2D2. I’m pretty sure Land’s End is rushing to produce some knock-offs. Their body innards suit is going to depict the lungs of a 30-year smoker, for that edgier look Land’s End is known for.

I saw the Veronica Mars movie. Is that what it’s called –  Veronica Mars Movie? If it’s not, it should be, because everyone calls it that. It was like a super special, extra-long episode. I thought the plot was a wee bit weak but it was great to see the old gang. The best part was just feeling wrapped up in nostalgia for belly shirts and that Dandy Warhols song.

Next I want to see the Budapest movie. And I would love to see this doc about Elaine Stritch. Trust me, that outfit is exactly what I’m wearing to work today.

Email subject lines suddenly irritate me. How about people who send you an email and put whatever they want to ask you or tell you as the subject line:

subject: i will be at the meeting tomorrow, 10:30 am, will you be at the meeting

subject: what do you think of this blue shirt with the stripes on it i like it

subject: can we decide what to do about this problem with the print job that we’re waiting on please?

I think retailers are running out of subject lines to sell their crap. Here are some I got this week:

subject: 25% off new-in hotness + so much swimwear
(I don’t even know what this means)

subject: The Structured Pouch Is Here
(hot damn!) (P.S. can a “pouch” be structured? A pouch is unstructured and… pouchy by nature, isn’t it? If I say you have a pouch, it means you have a saggy tummy, not an angular, well-structured one)

subject: Pedi time! Sandals starting at $49.95
(it’s snowing out right now so please shut up)

I’ve been thinking a lot about California and Hollywood lately, so I put together a California song playlist. A few of the songs have no specific connection to do California, I just wanted them in the mix because, in my mind, it’s what I would listen to while cruising down a California highway with no traffic.  I thought I’d share it here. Got a CA song for me to add? No Eagles, please!

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas (duh)
Say Good-bye to Hollywood – Billy Joel
Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain & Tennille (seems so 1970s L.A. to me)
California Girls – David Lee Roth
Hooray for Hollywood – Nancy Sinatra
Walking in L.A. – Missing Persons
Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers (because I can’t stand Californication)
Pretty in Pink – The Psychedelic Furs
We Used to Be Friends – The Dandy Warhols
Hollywood – Madonna
Do You Know the Way to San Jose – Dionne Warwick
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
Los Angeles – X
Hollywood Freaks – Beck
The Only Place – Best Coast
Los Angeles – Frank Black
In California – Neko Case
California Man – Cheap Trick
California Love – Tupac Shakur (the only American export the Russians need/love/want/give a damn about)
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

Little Failure

Tired. Bye y’all.

tupac shakur

The Short Stack: March 7

My 80s Barbies and Ken put their heads together

Old Stuff + My Love of It
Yep, I had the old Barbies out last week. I wanted to see if there were any good disco dresses in their box (coffin?) for spring fashion inspiration but I didn’t find much. Who knows where those hot dresses ended up? I suspect my sister’s basement… that’s where all the good stuff is.

I have all my old Barbies. I just love old stuff. I can’t walk into a thrift store or antiques store and walk out empty handed. If they clean a place up and try to make it more presentable, I no longer like it. This is why I don’t shop at Goodwill – they made it feel like a chain store with bright lighting and clothes that are at most five years old. Yick.

My favorite place in the Twin Cities to browse for stuff in all shapes and forms is the Mall of St. Paul. Stepping in there is like going to an antique mall in a smaller town – there isn’t any pretension and no hipsters (well, a minimum of hipsters) are wandering around looking for jackalopes or whatever else they saw encased in a bell jar on Design Sponge. I’ve been going there long enough now that I know exactly what booths to hit and can case their two floors in less than an hour over lunch.

Recently, they cleaned up their basement. I would be against this except that some booths down there were so crowded and forlorn, and the ceiling so low, that it felt like standing in a hoarders crawl space. Now, entire sections of it are spiffed up with new vendors who have less stuff but very well-curated – notably Rank & File (they have an etsy shop) and Rehomed Retro, who also have an eBay store, although the stuff they have in The Mall is better.

Maybe this is the year I reconsider eBay. I got so excited in 2002 when I won a t-shirt with a photo of President Jimmy Carter’s brother, Billy, on it touting his “Billy Beer.” I thought I was hot shit.

[That t-shirt will be coming out this spring. I learned the danger of storing things too long in a basement when I discovered, to my horror, that my t-shirt from 2000 (with the dog hand puppet on it – remember him?) got stained while lying in a plastic tub in my basement. I have to get out the bleach to try to save it.]

Anyway, I learned an eBay pro-tip this week on The Look Book at NY Mag that has me fired up. I’m the kind of crazy lady who is just one moto jacket away from spending  A LOT of time creating and saving searches on eBay.

On my last trip to The Mall I got a very homemade braided leather and stone necklace, a skirt with giraffes on it for spring and two coffee mugs, one of which is this:

sun your buns coffee mug

Giraffe print on skirt:

Print of giraffes on a summer skirt

And now, after nattering on for too long about stuff, the rest of The Stack:

On Sunday, FOX starts broadcasting the new Cosmos hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson. It’s billed as an epic journey through time and space. Yeah, I could do that! There was just a phenomenal profile of Tyson in The New Yorker and he’s speaking in Minneapolis on May 8 at Beth El Synagogue. Do you follow him on Twitter? You should. If he ran for President, I would vote for him.

A slideshow of women in biker jackets will convince you that you need a biker jacket.

If you need vintage-y clothes to wear and don’t mind it already being curated, Rewind is having their Get Pretty sale today through Sunday. They have two locations in Minneapolis – in Northeast and on Lyndale in South Minneapolis. If I go, I’m on the hunt for a sweater coat.

You can’t read it yet, but if you’re a Hollywood Babylon fan (God, I hope you are!) then keep your eye on Scandals of Classic Hollywood book coming out in September. I’m not sure if I can trust it or not – no one does scandal like Kenneth Anger (and Dominick Dunne) but Ken is super old (and Dominick is dead), so we need to get our scandal re-hashes anywhere we can.

Even though I’m a nonbeliever, the idea of Lent is rather appealing this year. You know, the whole 40 days and 40 nights thing. I think people rather enjoy deprivation, as long as they know it’s not permanent. It’s just enough time to feel transformative. Forty days – that’s how long I need to get my shit together. Lent started on Wednesday and I have yet to decide my course of action, but I say better late than never.

The Modern Vintage Chicago show, which is associated with the ongoing Randolph Street Market but separate, is the weekend of May 2-4, 2014. That’s my birthday weekend. This show, which happens twice a year, it touted as the “Barney’s  of vintage.” I’m just saying.

The Short Stack: February 28

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random blips that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy! Or don’t. Your choice.

Listen, sometimes you have a week and sometimes the week has you. I’m sick! Sick, I tell you! It started on Monday with Mysterious Scratchy Throat and by Tuesday night I was in full-on, low-quality Mumble Sleep.

Whenever I’m sick, even with a head cold, I talk and make a lot of noise while trying to fall asleep, which I refer to as Mumble Sleep. I know, you don’t care. Who does? Not the people of Ukraine, where a lot of serious shit is going down.

This is my way of saying: I don’t have much to share this week. I’m dull. A catatonic sick woman staring at the wallpaper. Except…

There is the this amazing book: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

book cover of life after life by kate atkinson

I got this book on Monday-ish, started it maybe Tuesday-ish and am almost through it on Friday-ish (about 500 pages but some short sections). I have not read a novel this good in a very long time.

This book has gotten a lot of attention, as it should have, BUT I’m usually not paying attention to that kind of stuff.  I tend to think that books causing a sensation and being made into movies are either NPR-y, lit fiction, twee, I-live-in-a-swamp or I-discovered-a-dead-body-and-my-marriage-is-falling-apart or poorly written sci-fi or young-adult-sensation books.

[Does anyone else question the phrase “young adult?” Really? I never talk to a 16-year-old and think, “Why, you’re a young adult, aren’t you!”]

Which this book is not.

This makes me recall the fact that I often read novels I cherish while ill. Jane Eyre. Catcher in the Rye. I remember reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History in college during a terrible bout of flu, huddled under my blanket in my bed in the dorm room, next to the window that didn’t prevent any of the cold air outside from rushing in. And I had a roommate. How awful is that? I’m in my death throes in a tiny space and there is still someone else to be conscious of. Someone who wants to watch Friends and try on 30 different shirts for the bar, wondering if she should go conservative or all-out boob shirt. Or body suit.

Full disclosure: I went to college in The Age of the Bodysuit and I owned, oh, maybe eight of them in different styles, colors and sleeve length. Yes, they were a pain to snap and unsnap when one had to pee but I suffered for fashion.

Anyway… what I’m saying is that Life After Life is worth dropping everything for, or being sick for. It’s the kind of book where, if I have five spare minutes I’m opening it up to get a little bit more of the story and I’m already dreading reaching the end. Be forewarned, this isn’t some mamby-pamby (is that a phrase?) “nice” novel about a woman who can’t decide what man to marry. Some of this is so hard to read that you wince. But it’s incredibly good.

So read the damn thing and I’ll work on not having dead eyes anymore or crust  forming on my eyelashes or terrible cold breath and be back next week with more pop culture and randomness than you can handle.

Don’t believe me? You want to hear about this, don’t you?

sun your buns coffee mug

Notice how I didn’t even tell you what the book is about? That’s not my job. That’s what Amazon is for, or Google. Or be an adventuresome person and just GET IT and start reading!

The Short Stack, February 21

Every Friday, I share  the pop culture, fashion, lit and random blips that crossed my radar during the week. Enjoy! Or don’t. Your choice.

Well, well, well, hipsters… look what mainstream culture has done to your precious  totem.

macys long sleve shirt with bikes on it

That’s right. It’s a knit top with bikes all over it, sold at Macy’s. Next month, they’re coming out with a penny farthing version for soccer moms to wear during the Susan G. Komen 3-Day this summer. I’m sure the men’s department is selling suspenders to wear with Calvin Klein boxer briefs.

I needed some shoes this week. In fact, I would categorize it as a bit of a shoe emergency. So I went to the one place I thought I’d be in greatest shoe saturation – Mall of America. However, I forgot to calculate in the retail industry’s capriciousness. Although the Midwest has been locked in sub-zero temperatures tempered only by days of snow storms, retailers have decided it’s time to move on. That’s right, time to stick your frozen feet into some open-toed booties or platform sandals with wool socks.

Even DSW, which has the word “warehouse” in its name, was stripped of most weather-appropriate shoes, devoting entire rows to glorified flip flops. One row was stripped bare, as if DSW had thrown up its hands in disgust. “We will stock nothing! We will sell air! You can have Fit Flops or nothing!”

Look, I know what you’re thinking. The stores are selling for spring break (what fashion snobs call “resort season.”) Spring break? Entire stores are making their inventory choices based on the fact that a few of us might go to Orlando for a couple of days? Meanwhile, if you need something to put on your feet while you go to your job, that thing that sort of helps fuel the economy… too bad?

But, like that wise character played by Morgan Freeman in that one movie says, “Get busy living or get busy dying,” so I took to the Internet. Hooray! Lots of closed-toed shoes there. But also a lot of shoe pathos. So much analysis and strangeness that I sat there and read reviews and never bought any shoes. Here’s a sample of what I found:

“I love these shoes, they are so comfortable and edgy.” [the shoes in question could be comfortable but were certainly far from edgy]

“They jingle like you’re wearing spurs.”

“This was the first pair of Pikolinos I ever purchased, and they came out of the box reeking of a minty smell. This was so bad that both of my cats got up and left the room! I held my breath to try them on. They are insanely comfortable, but the style (which I called “prairie” and my husband called “medieval”) just wasn’t me, so I sent them back.”

“If the price dropped, I would consider it again and definitely accept it as a gift.”

“Made in Spain…and you know, Europeans are used to wear better quality shoes than we do. So they produce much better shoes than Chinese or American brands.”

“Unless you have the thinnest, flattest feet around, do not order these shoes.”

So… could Yakky Doodle wear them?

yakky doodle

Lock-ins for middle aged women called Change Your Life Lock-ins. I haven’t worked out exactly what happens during the lock-in (starting on Friday night at 8 pm and ending on Saturday morning at 10 am with a pancake breakfast) but it has elements of a boot camp for wayward teens, The Crying Game, the Hunger Games, The Breakfast Club and that annual episode of Oprah where she gave away her favorite things to the audience.

Captain Phillips was stinky. I don’t get why it took the Navy Seals like five days to do anything. Plus, Tom Hanks has very, very strange man nipples that pretty much took over the final scene. Can they be nominated for Best Supporting Actor?

Sunset Boulevard is streaming on Netflix.

The Pajama Game is worth watching, by all accounts, and is next on my musical list. Cuz I have that list. In my purse. Just in case I’m out somewhere and hear about a hot musical.

Cutie and the Boxer is heartbreaking and uplifting in unexpected ways. Right now it has my vote for the Academy Award, although I’ve seen none of the other nominated docs. Somehow I’m never in the mood to watch The Act of Killing after a long day when I could be watching dudes wipe out at the end of their ski cross run at the Olympics.

The Group by Mary McCarthy. Excellent pessary drama!

The Hare with the Amber Eyes keeps coming up for me over and over again. Does that ever happen to you with a book? You keep seeing it, keep reading about it, keep hearing other people recommend until finally you say, “Fine! Give it here.” Also, related to that, the novel The Exiles Return.

Did you know it’s the 50th anniversary of Harriet the Spy? What the hell? How is that possible?? A special edition is being released on Tuesday, Feb. 25. So, you know, put that shit on your Amazon Wish List and all (to borrow an elegant phrase from Zappos: “I would consider it again and definitely accept it as a gift.”) Here’s a factoid about author Louise Fitzhugh:  she attended three different colleges but never obtained a degree. I’m not sure why that is so very special to me.

New York Magazine called my attention to the fact that “Disco Dresses” are a major theme for spring. Did someone say disco dresses?? Let me push my way to the front of the crowd. I’ve been waiting for disco dresses to have a renaissance since I was six and jealous of the slinky, one-armed sequin dresses my Barbie got to wear. Yes, Lanvin, Reem Acra, Gucci and  Versace are pumping out metallic, slinky goodness. But really, why pay thousands when you can get that shit for a few dollars at the thrift? Get down there right now and start snapping up the lamé. Has Macklemore taught us nothing?

A hot mess of disco dresses ready for spring
A hot mess of disco dresses from New York Magazine.

There’s a snow storm raging outside, there’s women’s long program figure skating on TV and it’s time to call it. But before I go, here’s an Olympic memory… Remember Surya Bonaly? Yeah, that back flip. Ah, the 90s.