Monday, May 20, 2013

Dreaming of Distance

I fantasized at length of how it might be, to have enough money and single-mindedness to leave suddenly without explaining myself, go somewhere simple and clean, far from here, like the island of Kumlinge in the Baltic.

I saw myself in watery sunlight, divested of all obligations and connections, walking without luggage along a narrow road by a sandy bay, with sea thrift and gorse and a solitary pine, a road that rose to a promontory and a plain white country church…

...everything could be resolved in Kumlinge, where the air and light were pure.
                                - Ian McEwan (Sweet Tooth)

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Blue Day's Reading: Last Spring - Gottfried Benn (trans. Michael Hofmann)

Fill yourself up with the forsythias
and when the lilacs flower, stir them in too
with your blood and happiness and wretchedness,
the dark ground that seems to come with you.

Sluggish days. All obstacles overcome.
And if you say: ending or beginning, who knows,
then maybe—just maybe—the hours will carry you
into June, when the roses blow.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reebok: Cheat on your girlfriend campaign

One more:

Don't have a boyfriend? Get proactiv!

I discussed the recent Abercrombie & Fitch debacle (see previous post) with students today in my college writing class. One brought up a recent ad from proactiv. More insidious than the admission that Abercrombie & Fitch uses targeted marketing (which we all already knew), this ad stakes personal value and lovability on clear skin. I can only say that I disagree.

come away with me...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch Fiasco

Background: there's been a media and facebook storm about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries saying that they market toward attractive people and thus do not make sizes for people who are overweight. Jeffries is quoted as followed:

"Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."

Let me say that I find this sentiment and strategy awful. But it's not surprising and I wouldn't be shocked to find this sort of mindset widespread in retail. Furthermore, it doesn't bother me at all that a company would focus on clothes tailor-made for thin people. Though Jeffries' reasons are offensive, specializing in clothing for small/thin people is not.

I am thin. Though the trend is changing as I near thirty, I have always had problem keeping weight on. Go for a week vacation in S. America or live (and eat) with a person on a diet and I dip below a healthy weight. I'm pleased that I've been able to put on more muscle lately but that hasn't been easy until recently. 

Because of my height and weight, I have to special order all my shirts online. Standard larges make me look like a dirigible and standard mediums show off my stomach if I raise my arms. Clothing simply isn't tailored to my body type. Large t-shirts from Faroe fit well; the population is generally thinner. But I have an awful time of it in the United States. 

It makes sense to me that a store would focus its efforts on making excellent clothing for a certain body type. Doing so is a common strategy. Lane Bryant - a plus sized women's store - doesn't sell sizes smaller than 14. No-one is protesting them or threatening boycott because they discriminate against the petite. If it's okay for Lane Bryant to make excellent clothes designed for a target body type, it isn't so strange that Abercrombie & Fitch do the same. It would be nice though if they had better motives for doing so.

Teaching Ithaca

We had a breakfast at school today honoring our first graduating seniors. Afterwards, my college writing class, which all the seniors attend, held a Socratic discussion on the question "what is the future?" They shared viewpoints and argued on statements from the future does not exist to we shape our futures. At the end, I shared this, one of my favorite poems, read by Sir Sean Connery (whom they love). This is the wish I impart to the young scholars of the class of 2013 as they set out to pursue their dreams in the wider world:

    Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you're destined for.
    But don't hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so that you're old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
    Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
   Without her you would have not set out.
   She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaca won't have fooled you.
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you'll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

Sigh No More