26 September 2009

American Beauty

American Beauty by Henrich Kemerling

I was walking down 5th Avenue, something in NYC they have yet to charge you for, and was looking at retailer's windows and I kept thinking, "Who would ever buy that?" And then I remembered when I was 12 or so and Bridgette Bardot was hot, the Monkees were cool and my Campbell's Tomato soup shorts were keen. Pretty much because somebody said so. I still have no idea who - - but you were considered a bone head if you didn't agree.

We all do it in our youth. The trick is to grow out of it by 40. Watching the Emmys, I was amazed how all actresses blended into a sameness. I had a client once who extruded aluminum. I'm wondering...is there a Hollywood extrusion press? The faces and bodies remind me of a Marriott hotel room -- Void of any character less they offend.

Most of us simply do not trust our instincts. And we're terrified to say what we like unless it's backed up by a GQ article, a photo spread in Playboy or, the absolute worse, something on the Today Show. As you get older you'll trust your own instincts - - if only because you've been down that road so many times before.

This spells trouble for people who wanna sell us something. They need you to agree with them about a word I grew up with...cool. Is it cool? Is she cool? That's cool. I wanna be cool. Are you cool? Steve McQueen was cool. Wasn't he? I read a biography. Not so cool. And I don't believe McQueen wanted to be cool. All he wanted was a father...and that didn't work out.

A cultural self reliance is key to a well lived life. I see a lotta people in the wine store with a tear out card from the Wine Spectator asking, "It got a 92. It's gotta to be good. Right?" The WS is a good place to start - - it's not a good place to finish. All of this could be a bohemian outlook. The path less traveled. But I don't like paths or woods. I decided when I got out of the Army I was never gonna go camping again. I like the avenues. With lots of traffic. I walk down them and,

"so many things fill my head and then I let it go and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."

25 comments:

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Best thing you've written here, I opine. Oh yeah, you can draw pictures with words, evoke nostalgia, make your readers thirsty, yada yada. This is the first time I heard you talking to your younger self. It sounded true and real.

The Preppy Pauper said...

Love the photo!

I don't know if many folks can understand what you are talking about until they are north of 40 years old, and even at that ripe old age, some may never get it. I've seen fads in clothing, management styles, personal success, music, food and political leadership come in and go out one too many times and when I hear kids say "Back In The Day" and then realize they mean 1998, I shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes. Age has given me perspective and peace with who am I, what my style is and who will never approve. Popular culture is like a 5 year old with ADD who has had too much sugar. 98.9% of the time the media is spewing meaningless noise and trying to sell me stuff I don't want. There is something so liberating about living authentically who you are and not giving a flying F*** if In Style magazine, CNN or Dr. Phil approves of my personal choices.

L.A.S said...

wow. you have the makings of something much grander than a blog...

heavy tweed jacket said...

Gratitude. It is what life should be all about - giving thanks for what one has been given. Thanks, Tintin. You have helped me glimpse, briefly, the sky & heavens above the avenue.

Anonymous said...

" Amen Brother TinTin! Now let's pass the collection plate and have the benediction!" ME

Pink Martini said...

Excellent.

The Sluice Box said...

I think it takes time and interest to cultivate opinions, judgment, and taste. It also requires the opportunity to learn why X is preferable to Y or why this is superior to that. For those without curiosity or cultural self-reliance, as you aptly put it, there are innumerable purveyors who will gladly supply pre-packaged taste and opinions.

Aaron
http://www.thesluicebox.com/

foolio_iglesias said...

Cosign!

Percy Chatsworth said...

Marvellous.

I'm only 22 and I have grown out of listening to those devilish retailers and peers! It is no wonder I hate my job at Gap!

At least I'm the most interestingly dressed employee!

ADG said...

yep. we were prolly separated at birth. i had the campbells soup shorts-shirt and hat. damn.

Anonymous said...

crank wigets!

actually the whole idea of ralph libpshitz's brand is he's making the judgement for you. make sure you're wearing ralph libshitz's label and you'll never look stupid.
You're stupid to pay the price he asks, but that's another story, isn't it?

initials CG said...

Well...that was cool. Wasn't it? I thought so...very cool.

Sorry, that is as deep as I can say it...

Anonymous said...

What a spectacular post, Tintin! Bravo.

I learned early that keeping up with "cool" was way too much work, so I was never burdened by it. Being shy really helped.

That motorcycle jump Steve McQueen did in "The Great Escape" was uber cool, though. All of us boys back then wanted peg leg, stone colored jeans and suede "desert boots" like his. Never mind that he looked more '60s than '40's in the role. We even tore the sleeves off our sweatshirts. Okay, so maybe that was my cool moment.

Wine ratings? We don't need no stinkin' wine ratings! The country French and Italians fill their bottles at the local bodegas. It's not great, but they're not buying the really good stuff either. That's for export and restaurants. So we buy the cheap stuff, devoid of shame or pretense.

My dad also hated camping - after the Korean War, because it meant killing people and escaping capture, though my mom loved it! But dad did enjoy the Times Square crowds and store displays at Christmas.

-DB

cotelgramps said...

makes sense. real cool. loved it. come see my blog too. im always here. brazilian fan;

Scott said...

Thanks for reminding me that getting old ain't all that bad.

Scott

M.Lane said...

Excellent thoughts. And very timely as well.

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Baron said...

Well said. For some vague reason it resuscitated memories of Mary Schmich's "Wear Sunscreen". Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Tintin,
You hit the nail on the head. After you reach a certain age you stop giving a sh*t what other people think and start thinking for yourself. When I hit forty I decided to cut out all toxic relationships in my life. It was the best thing I have ever done. Any photos of you in those Campbell Soup shorts laying around? D

Tin-tin's phred/dad said...

A bit late, but must add my congrats to the plaudits of others.
This is a most splendid piece!

Anonymous said...

Does this mean I have to return the limited edition, super rare, RSVP'd invitation to purchase, $750 RRL third-shift-boiler-room/Grapes of Wrath oiled cowhide crypto Chippewa boots to be approved herein? Cruel, not cuel. Tintin's Salon acceptance or the meat packing district dudes' approbation? Perplexing dilemmas never cease. What would Will do? Where's the decision tree softwear on this infernal machine?! T

OK, Mr. TT, enough reflective, intropective, melancholic, middle-distance gazing twixt the window treatment upon the Edenic valley that is 57th. There's snark to be conjured.

".....inner child and kick its little....." Donald Hugh Henley, Poet Lariat of Walton Woods

Tin-tin's phred/dad said...

RE: "Cool."
Suggest a big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will usually be useless, but it looks "cool.")

tintin said...

First off, I am grateful to all of you who liked this post. Secondly, Foxtrot and I have been babysitting a two year old and a six year old.

I am ready to shoot myself.

Consequently, I am pressed for time but did want to thank you all for the kind words and your insights into gratefulness. Always remember that 'great' is in the word, 'gratefulness.' And the next time I think I missed the boat by not having children...well...you'll know the word I'll be thinking of.

Richard M said...

Agree with all of the above except that Bardot WAS hot.

Beefeater said...

"Cultural self reliance." That is spot on and a great turn of phrase. Well-written indeed.

Keep fighting the good fight, TT.

AG said...

This is exactly how I feel. I think one needs charisma and elements of mystery and danger to truly be cool, and that can only come from being true to the moment, from within.