Archive for category Fashion and Pop Culture

Is it a Small World or Did We Sit at the Same Table?

“It’s a small world!” We hear and say it all the time – it’s probably one of the most common clichés and, throughout our lives, we accumulate gigabytes of memories, impossible stories, haphazard connections and crazy coincidences that verify it. The world’s population is approximately 7 billion and the US is just over 300 million – that’s a lot of friken faces — but for as vast and populated as this rock may be, we often cross paths with someone we know in the most random, chance situations.

I love being cyber-connected and knowing people everywhere, yet it never ceases to amaze me how a few degrees separates most of us. I’ve actually had it happen where a Venezuelan acquaintance (who lived in LA) knew somebody I knew from Venezuela with no real connection other than coincidence. How can that be? Venezuela’s population is over 25 million and I might know, at the very most, maybe a couple dozen people there. What are the chances that two totally random people I met—years apart, and by completely different circumstances—know one other? Well, I have a theory about all this: I call it the Cafeteria Effect.

In all those cheesy 80’s movies (i.e. 16 Candles, Can’t Buy Me Love, Pretty In Pink, et al), there is always a common scene. All those flicks depict what many of us experienced first hand in our high schools and even earlier – the establishment of cliques and social groups over food. Never are human demographics more clearly on display than during lunch period. Just as most cafeterias sport those movie theater, round nachos with the in-tray cheese reservoir, subscribe to Square-Pizza-Fridays and employ Mr. Creepy Janitor/Cafeteria Dude who’s always spying the teenyboppers, cafeterias also consistently reveal established tables (“social zones”) designated to certain crowds (“groups”). Table-plots divvy up into the jocks and cheerleaders, rockers and gothics, followed by the gamer (Dungeons and Dragons) computer geek squad, skaters and BMXers, maybe even the physics club and the tree huggers. School cafeterias are psychological arenas where, for the first time, social constructs begin to take root and solidify beneath our lunchboxes. These cafeterias prelude anecdotal evidence “like attracts like” and “birds of a feather flock together.”

However, what we don’t realize is that The Cafeteria Effect doesn’t end in high school; it carries into college and continues to grow with us into our professional years. At any university, our metaphorical cafeteria becomes much larger and so does our “table,” but the sphere of those with whom we congregate remains similarly well-defined. Moreover, these “cafeteria tables” often go a step further, becoming official via a team, a club or a fraternity/sorority.

In essence, no matter what city in which we end up, career path we take, or where our social circle carries us, we return to that similar demographic clique established in the cafeteria.

To state this theory succinctly:

The Cafeteria Effect is the theory that we perceive the world as “small” due to our innate, social instinct to gravitate to individuals with similar interests, appearance, intelligence, type and general demographics, drastically reducing the degrees of separation between people in individual groups, even if geographically widespread.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Invariably, whenever I start to explain this theory to someone, those listening can’t wait to interject and adamantly object that they never stuck to just one table; or they bounced around; or they were friends with everyone; or they changed so much since back then. Funny thing is — this, in-of-itself, can be considered part of the theory. Many of those who fall into the aforementioned criteria make up a “table” of their own… those who bridge demographics comprise a sub-group… let’s call them an “overlap table.” The Ferris Buellers of the world who can sit with “the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him – they think he’s a righteous dude” kinda people.

To wit, I will take it one step further and propose a Cafeteria Table hypothesis – if we took our closest friends today, magically went back in time and all became seniors at the same high school — Would it be wrong of me to predict that the majority of us would be sitting at the SAME DAMN TABLE?  I would imagine we’d be jiving, in a more remedial sense of course, about one of our common topics as we plow down one of those plastic trays of round nachos.

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Decoding Man Code

After watching Monday night’s show The Bachelorette Men Tell All, there was so much talk about “Man Code,” I was inspired to write this.  Which is saying something since, up until now, the only thing that The Bachelorette has every inspired me to do was puke; but since I had a buddy on the show, I found myself watching it – more than I care to admit.  However, as the show’s Velveeta tractor beam overcame my defense shields, I became overwhelmingly frustrated on how bad a rap Man Code received and how improperly men were depicted.  Man Code was portrayed in a byzantine “bros-before-hos,” machismo-sexist, “Go wash the dishes, bitch” unspoken manner.  Either I’m off, or my fellow brethren on stage were not able to articulate an appropriate synopsis of what Man Code truly is.  I hope not to be out of line and speak for my fellow men on the show but I feel Man Code needs to be defended and have it’s reputation restituted. 

Man Code , defined succinctly, is simply owning things and having the scrotal circumference to man-up when it’s go-time.  The simplest examples would be:

  • When a round of shots come out for the group, you either drink it or say, “No thanks guys…I can’t right now,” or something to that effect. Dumping and out and then feigning to drink it is in violation of Man Code because it isn’t owning the moment.
  • When you “know” someone has a girlfriend and is “playing” the girl who you are interested in, you don’t shove a stick in his spokes without knowing all the facts and/or confronting him FIRST.  You approach the prick and let him know that either a) he tells her or b) you will, because it’s not fair to her if she doesn’t know the truth.  Then she can make her own decisions from there.
  • If you are some douche with ulterior motives, a lady back home (girlfriend or not) who’s twine you are still wrapped up in and you think getting air-time is going to get you the publicity that you desperately crave…then you don’t have much Code to begin with. You might be a habitual violator.
  • Men don’t have any issues with someone who is “too perfect” or who doesn’t fit into the group when it seems sincere, genuine, and unrehearsed; but when it all seems scripted, then the good-boy thing gets old quickly.  For every woman who says that is the kind of guy she wants: you wouldn’t last three dates with a Don Automaton like that.  Ask Jillian…she dumped the Boy Scout and keep the country crooner obnoxious bad boy around.  Is she a dumb ass?  Nope…she’s typical.  Most women want the unavailable, edgy, mystery man with some spontaneity that isn’t so mechanically “on” all the time.  I’m willing to bet my pimped-out, one-of-a-kind, beach cruiser on it!

In summation, Man Code isn’t being some pre-historic grunt or chauvinist playboy.  It’s being a gentleman who isn’t going to get all gossipy and Jerry Springer within the community.  It’s not low-bridging someone when you don’t have all the facts or don’t know the complete story.  It’s having the intestinal fortitude to back-up your actions and confront the issue – instead of tucking tail and back-tracking when you’re put on the hot seat.  It’s manning-up.  Man Code is about integrity…well, that may or may not be Man Code, but I’d like to think it’s my code.

See Man-Up

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My One Female Fashion Veto of the year

frumpy1

Come on girl...you're better than this.

Look, I’ve made a women or twenty cringe in the past when I’ve thrown on shoes and belt that didn’t match or when I sport my shades with bling  on the rims.  Like every man who’s ever had a girlfriend, I’ve geared-up to roll out the door and my girl at that time say something to the effect of, “Is that what you are wearing out?”  Immediately a smart ass response such as “no babe, it’s my post-shower/pre-going out get-up” crosses my mind.  But because I speak Female, I know what she really means is this:

For the love of God, change-please! You would look so much better if…

I know that you ladies only do this because you are trying to help and want us to look our best.  I’d like to give props to the ladies and acknowledge that in fashion and style they can lay an old school Mike Tyson beat down on us men.  Yet, whatever inherent stylista veto power women have over us, I’m going to have to pull rank and flip the script on one particular bit.  Remember all those times you ladies have asked us how you look?  Here is an honest, no-holds-barred answer for you…

I don’t care how “in style” they might be but the frumpy, billowing, shower curtain, draw-sting boob trap dress (see right) has to GO.  I see it more and more every day and it seems to be spreading faster than the swine flu.  Why it flurished and what viral strain was it borne from I haven’t a clue.  I may be out-of-line to speak for my all my fellow bros out there, but through my prospective randomized non-scientific survey at various social gatherings, the majority of men with working vision concur.  These dress are not figure flattering, nor body conscious. 

Now, I’m not saying that all women have to rush out and throw on a body sock or mini-skirt; in fact, I don’t really like a  woman that looks like she is about to take Candi’s spot on the main stage.  But the strapless potato sac dress should be retired.

 Do you want to know what wearing something like this actually says to us?

  1. I have one in the oven and want to wear something other than maternity clothes
  2. I’m carrying a couple of extra pounds and I’m trying to see if a loose fitting gown will hide it

There are a couple of exceptions where maybe I can see a dress like this being worn.  Any woman who has the curves of Anna Nichole Smith (in her hay day) and looks like she might be smuggling 4 melons in the right strategic places could possibly get a pass.  It would pretty much have to be one hell of a rocking body with some voluptuous curves.  Too skinny or ripped, and this look simply does not work.  The other way I see me telling a girl, “Baby, you can wear that whenever you want!” is if I had the inside scoop that she was going commando with it.  Yeah…going full-vent will surly make it interesting and maybe distract from how uninspiring the outter packaging might be. 

frumpy4

A little better...but still no good.

Now we are talking
Now we are talking

Now I do apologize if I might sound a little sexist in this one but it isn’t my intention. I’m also not picking on the overweight.  I have actually been there myself; pushing the envelope and my waste-line a few times in my life.  I know how difficult it could be and would never knock on anyone who has struggled or is struggling with the lbs.  However, even the the plus size women of the world can find the right fit and dress that is flattering and an asset instead of a liability.  Just ask any fashion guru and they will certainly tell you that a stoutly women in a baggy dress makes her look larger not better.  Conversely, Queen Latifah is the perfect example of how it is done right, she is a whole lot of woman but yet every time I see what she is wearing it seems to work perfectly for her and it isn’t frumpy nor trashy but just right. 

If you have to sport the pillowy-fluffy-baggy-shower-curtain dress because it’s comfy… then your best bet is to wear them around the house and double ’em up as PJs.  Otherwise save the soggy laundry bag for the home and gear up in something that does a body good when you hit the town.  I think you get the picture and at the risk of having to forfeit my man card I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Get Things Straight

It seems like in this day and age, many things that used to be clear cut no longer fall into black or white.  The lines have been moved, blurred or just flat our erased.  So things that were once obvious are now much more ambiguous, like…gender roles, proper etiquette and how much to tip in most circumstances…just to name a few.

 

When it comes to social norms and pop culture, Hollyweird has lead the charge in making sure certain roles have taken on all new meanings and it almost seems like anything goes.  Nothing is what it used to be and opposite day has found a shared home with those smart asses in 2nd and 3rd grade.  All this back and forth, black and white, has made many people very uneasy.  What are the proper rules of etiquette, fashion, or social norms?  What’s correct? What is modern day West Coast Faux Pas?  We now have men having babies, same sex marriages, women that are more muscular than most men, and so many things that have become uni-sex that we aren’t really sure what belongs to who.  I’m no judge and jury on what social agendas are “wassup” or “ish-no-think-so” nor will I attempt to be.  But however, I’m going to try and make a gallant effort to lay down some knowledge bombs of metro-culture and what I believe goes.  This one especially hits kinda close to home because I have some buddies that are a little freaked out and seem to think certain things are “gay” (and I don’t mean joyous).  If there were certain things would make you have to relinquish your UberMan-Card and cross over to the fabulous Liberachi world here they are:

 

Lingo is very important and certain verbiage should be restricted exclusive to my gay friends.

 

I actually had an experience when a male friend of mine referred to his girlfriend getting a blow-out.  Gentlemen!…when referring to a women getting anything done to her hair you don’t say any of the following: getting high-lights, low-lights, perm, perm-press, hair relaxed, getting extensions, and for God’s sake never say she is getting a blow-out.  You simply say she is getting her hair done or hair did.  No more, no less.

 

Now when it comes to colors always refer to the original Crayola Crayon colors such as black, white, red, blue, green, etc.  Never refer to any of the following colors: taupe, fuchsia, mauve, salmon…you get the point. As far as fruit colors…orange and peach are the only ones you can refer to. If it’s a tweener (that means in-between) color then combine the manly ones you know. Example: Tope can be described as a “dull rusty brown color.”

 

Referring to anything as “fabulous” isn’t becoming of a straight man…neither is calling anything as “gorgeous” unless it is in reference to a female.  Ubermales who want to add Man points can say “tight,” “solid,” and “hottie” if referring to a woman.

 

Now on to activities that are gay and not.  Yes D, this is for you.

 

Contrary to some peoples belief manicures and pedicures are not gay.  As a mater of fact it could be a very positive attribute for men to have fairly good feet and hands.  After all what woman wants some alligator cheese crust feet or callous eagle talons touching them?  It’s not gay people…it’s being hygienic.  Now if you live in a nail salon…that’s pretty gay.  I also know that I have pushed the envelope on this one by getting my big toes painted black and having a Cross and Star put on them (she couldn’t do the skull and cross bones) but just trying to be fashion forward and start a new man-trend.  Now if I would have gotten red and had them put flowers on their I would hand over my man-card but under these circumstances I keep it.

 

The gym culture and fitness trend continues to grow, and as we become increasingly active recovery also becomes important.  In my search for a good activity that balances my lifting and outdoor cardio I discovered yoga.  It has been a great discovery!  I get a great workout and feel like it absolutely helps my recovery.  Is it gay?  Absolutely not!  If men were smarter they would make it a point to go.  It is a great workout, helps maintain flexibility, and helps core strength and posture.  Besides, the ratio is totally on our side…it’s at least 4 to 1 odds girls to guys.  Where else do you get those odds and have hot bodied women squatting, stretching, and getting all bendy a foot away from you?  All upside…I really don’t see a down side.

 

As far as activities that are gay…well you can basically gay out anything.  Rollerblading is one of those.  If you wear the right gear you should be okay.  But if you flounder around in short jean cut-offs and a wife-better 2 sizes to small while you’re blading Venice Beach, you might set off every gaydars from WeHo to Malibu.  If you’re not sure how to gear up for Roller blading, I got a better solution… Get a skateboard and don’t even think about roller-skates. 

 

Going to bathhouses is a gay activity.

 

On to fashion and social behavior…

 

Straight men’s belts must go through belt loops and buckle at the front.  None of this buckling between the first and second belt loop crap.

 

No gloves unless it’s really friken cold! Especially no single glove (so you ask who does this…I swear some Cheese Sprite at a bar the other night).  It is not feminine to wear workout gloves in the gym but it is certainly not Alpha Male.

 

Absolutely no skinny Jeans!!  Leave this one for women.

 

No murses or man-bags…want to carry more shit than your pockets can handle?  Get a back-pack or messenger bag. 

 

No fanny packs for straight men (I don’t care if it’s Gucci, Louie Vuitton, or any other brand). I have no clue as to why this one is even still in existence.  You can thank the gym/bodybuilding culture for keeping this one around.  The rationale being that most bodybuilders’ legs have gotten so massive that when they wear pants nothing fits in their pockets…I don’t care…find another solution!!!  If you are an anesthesiologist you get a pass on this one but only in hospitals.  Since they are all in scrubs and scrubs only have 2 pockets it makes sense to have something small and accessible to put all their goodies in.

 

Wearing a shear or cut-off shirt is gay.  The only way you get to wear a cut-off or shimmy shirt is if you play football…American Football. Not some Westside intramural league crap or that other one people refer to as soccer.

 

When ordering a drink straight men should never order anything pink, bright yellow (exception: vodka or whatever with Red Bull), neon green, purple, or bright blue.  Stick to clear, shades of amber or darker/muted yellows.  Gooey drinks and Tropical drinks are only allowed when…yes…you guessed it…when in The Tropics or maybe day drinking at a pool or beach bar.  Also if the name of the drink sounds gay or fruity…then it is gay and fruity.  No Cosmos, Sex on the Beach, Purple Woo Woo.  Lastly if it comes in a test tube with whip cream or has ice cubes that light up do not touch it.  If I have to explain this further you might as well come out already.

 

Indoor tanning for men is not gay however getting to George Hamilton burn sausage brown color from the Megatron 1000 Bed as you dry roast your nuts is pretty gay.

 

Having frosted tips…not gay but certainly not uber-male.

 

And for my buddy G-Love…I concur that Sunglasses indoors isn’t gay but it certainly is douchebaggery!

 

Also men should drive men’s cars…No VW Bug or Rabbit, and no Sebring, 

 

I hope this help clarify some things.  This could be a living document so feel free to add and give insight and we can continue to write the Uber-Metro-Male By-Laws.

 

BTW…I don’t see how but I hope this doesn’t offend anyone…and if it does.  Sorry and get over it.

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