Thursday, November 29, 2007

Highlight Reel

Here's a highlight from my life. While pacing outside before an improv show began I was approached by a young stranger.

"Hey! I know you from YouTube. (that, in itself was great but then:) You taught me how to stencil a shirt. (I made a "Stencil Your Own Shirt" video tutorial a while ago. Then it got better because they pulled up their sweater and said). Here it is!"

They were wearing a shirt with the silhouette of a whale tail and an old man's head. "See? It's Jonah and the whale!"

That was satisfying. As a side note I performed with them that night as part of a show that makes improvisers who don't know each other take the stage as a team. Well, here's the video:

I was never happy how I accidentally used the wrong caption box when holding the ink but those are the kind of rough edges that seemed appropriate for YouTube.

My Great Great Grand, since I was taught how to stencil clothing I have an even greater disdain for the majority of mainstream fashion. In our time, and this may sound silly to you, people wear clothing that displays the name of the manufacturer. I'm not sure of the strength of consumerism in your world (by consumerism I mean defining yourself by the many things available for you to buy). In my day, there is a real uneasiness in the air. Everyone buys things to feel like an individual, products are advertised as heightening our individualism, but the joke of it all is: we all generally look the same.

When I was young I had this revelation from observing a company called Nike that sold shoes. They began to put their company's logo, a checkmark, on hats. And I was amused and amazed that people were paying Nike to buy a hat and walk around advertising for them. I'm not sure if it was new in history at that point but this method has risen (at least in media attention) and been labeled: branding. To my knowledge the previous use of the word brand or branding was reserved for ranchers who owned cattle. They would heat a metal label and burn it into the flesh of their herd in order to claim ownership. Sometimes it is difficult to satirize reality (I learned that when the US military labeled the mission to bomb Afghanistan as "Infinite Justice").

Part of me feels as if I'm breaking away from having the fashion sense of a billboard but I am acutely aware that no one is outside of this box. I have a very practical aesthetic but I rarely stop to think if I'm wearing the best clothes (for me, the most useful). More pockets mayhaps. A shoulder strap with pockets. I don't think we have the optimum design. I feel some stand up comedy coming on: we have a zipper near our genitals. That's the best we could do? Metal teeth near our most sensitive-

At the very least stencils allow me to represent things that I am interested in and hopefully my clothing will be a brief history of myself than of my generation's commercials.

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