Sunday, October 31, 2004
Check out the article at D.C. Elite's Strong Suit, from washingtonpost.com.
I have yet to visit downtown Greenville but I know people in the area (including my friend Evan) that say that it's quite vibrant. After reading the article, I'm ready to experience it for myself.
Check out the article at Upbeat.
Registration on the website of this article's owner may be required.
Inspired by Spurlock, Jodi Peckich of Huntersville, NC, , vowed to eat healthy at McDonald's for an entire month. Every meal. Every snack. Down to the ketchup and the Sweet'N Low.
How'd she do? The article can be found at A month at McDonald's.
Registration on the website of this article's owner may be required.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
The Capital Room cafeteria at Crabtree Valley Mall's Hudson Belk will serve its last San Francisco chicken today. But at what time is the question. Store operations manager Ronnie Davis said the cafeteria, which more than 3,000 people hoped to save by signing a petition, will stay open today as long as there's food left to serve.
Belk is closing the cafeteria to use the space to add more women's apparel and better compete in the crowded department store scene.
Well, we tried.
The (existing) department stores were essentially for women. Eighty percent of their business was in women’s wear, hosiery, and all other apparel. A man in a department store was lost.
Robert Wood, vice president of factories and retail stores, Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1925
How true this statement was and still is. Many stores followed Sears' lead and established in-store departments for the whole family during the mid-20th century, only to retreat from them by the 1980s. It's no wonder that department stores have struggled since then. There's nothing but clothes now. Wood continues:
We made it a store for the family; in other words, for the men, too. We added hardware, tires, service parts and other items of particular interest to men.Considering that Wal-Mart took the same concept as Sears and become a bigger and stronger company while Sears began to wilt away, maybe Sears should have listened to its own guidance.
1989 was a banner year for Nike. First off, the Air Jordan IV, which is probably my favorite shoe of all time. What else you ask? Air Trainer SC, Air Tech Challenge II, Air Wildwood, the ESCAPE series, the whole line for the Flight and Force series, the Air Pressure, and who could forget the Air Flight 89.I wish I had picked up just about everything that Nike made that year. The line was a visual and technical tour de force. New technology meshed with accessable style in a way that hasn't happened since. I had a pair of Driving Force hightops (technically from 1988) that exemplified the spirit of '89. Clean lines, good construction, high quality materials. Many people complained that the signature Flight and Jordan shoes cost too much that year, but when you look at all the characteristics of the shoes, they were very well-priced.
I started thinking about sneakers from that year at the most unlikely time: watching the PBS show "This Old House." While not usually a hotbed for cool sneakers, an old episode from 1989 or so came on TV where Norm Abram visited a factory and wore a pair of Air Flight '89 Mids. I remember seeing that episode back then, and I remember wanting a pair of '89s just like his, but Norm's connection to sneaker history was lost on me until now.
It got me thinking: there is a paralell between Norm Abram and the Flight '89s. Think about it. Norm played second banana to Bob Vila on TOH for many years, doing the hard work that Bob wouldn't and couldn't do, and never got the respect he deserved until after Bob left. The Flight '89 suffered a similar fate. The Flights played second banana to the Air Jordan IV for many years, but the true sneakerheads knew the Flights were technically better shoes to ball in. Bob Vila and Norm Abram both have successful TV home improvement series these days and the Jordan IV and Flight '89 both are held up as benchmarks of basketball sneaker design.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Sears Archive: www.searsarchives.com
There is a lot of information for the casual and ardent Sears fan at searsarchives.com. From general historical chronologies to the famed Sears Modern Homes kits to brand histories of such names as Kenmore and Craftsman, there's a little bit of everything here. The handful of pictures available are high quailty.
JCPenney History & Guiding Values: www.jcpenney.net/company/history/history.htm
Penney's website isn't as packed with extras, but the chronology listed is complete and well-written. There are also more pictures at Penney's than Sears.
• BACK IN BLACK: Can't decide which pairs of shoes to buy? Stick with black; it goes with everything. Don't forget a matching black belt.
• DAILY FIBER: Natural fibers such as cotton and linen are cooler and feel better against the skin than synthetic materials, such as polyester. Synthetics and blends don't breathe well but are easier to care for and keep wrinkle free.
• LOST AND FOUND: If you're looking for a store near you, try the store locater links at these websites: www.target.com, www.walmart.com and www.kmart.com.
• ALTERNATIVES: Seeking designer labels at a discount? Try off-price retailers Ross, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, which sell name-brand apparel at 20 percent to 60 percent less than department stores. A word of caution: Some items are irregular, out of season or overstocked. For a wide selection of shoes, try DSW Shoe Warehouse.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Adidas touts new T-Mac 4 with leather, but no lace
The good news about $125 Adidas sneakers making their debut next week: At least you'll never have to pay for new laces.
The T-Mac 4, billed as the first laceless performance basketball shoe, will be the fourth "signature" shoe for Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady. And, Adidas spokesman Travis Gonzolez says, it might eventually threaten the shoelace industry itself: "We believe the idea of laceless shoes can go across all sports."
The shoe lets wearers turn a lever in its heel to tighten cables in order to tighten the shoe's fit. But the idea isn't just to finally eradicate the haunting peril of untied shoelaces for consumers.
The high-end sneaker business is also about targeting teens and grabbing their attention with something different, such as the $250 sneakers with a computer chip meant to automatically adjust the shoe's fit. That Adidas shoe, simply called 1, will debut in December.
So-called signature sneakers, backed in ads by star athletes used as endorsers, are often created to sell just 80,000-100,000 pairs — but create cachet for the brand. "You want them to make the shoes aspirational," Gonzolez says. "And hard to get. You don't want them sitting on store shelves for long."
So how about sneakers with computer chips but without laces? "These innovations take years to develop," Gonzolez says. "But I'm sure our (research) guys are trying to do something like that."
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
I don't lknow Dan pesrsonally, but I do know that he's a cool and creative guy who likes The Big Lebowski almost as much as I do. That, by itself, is reason enough to link up with his websites.
Construct :: Weblog - his everyday (almost) weblog : blog.adion44.com
PosterDome.com - posters and more : posterdome.com
SinCity.Adion44.com - SinCity Fan site : sincity.adion44.com
Black Racing Intl - vintage motocross parts : blackracing.info
Adion Clothing : adion44.com or adionclothing.com
Construct Design - his small design portfolio : constructds.com
In step with a retro look
Colorful track shoes, trainers take a sprint back to the good old days
By A. SCOTT WALTON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/08/04
Money for nothing?
Chicks for free?
Still, rock stars don't get everything they want.
Last week, during a shopping stop at the Standard sportswear boutique in Buckhead, Collective Soul guitarist Dean Roland could only gaze in disappointment at the limited-edition, cap-toed, red, white and blue leather sneakers that Puma had commissioned Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro to design.
"I wanted those, but they blew out of my size too fast," said Roland, who remembers South Korea as the last, best tour stop for scoring unique sneaker styles.
"It's the fashion element," said Roland. "These days you can mix in all kinds of different-colored sneakers with what you're wearing, and it looks cool."
Apparently, people's penchant for rocking the fashionable track shoes that Roland favors runs deep.
The "retro trainer" pays tribute to track-shoe styles originally popular during the running craze of the late '70s.
Love for the shoes began overseas and migrated to the United States about two years ago.
Puma and Adidas are the brands most commonly credited with reviving the track shoe, but brands such as Pony, Asics and Gola have benefited from the revival as well.
Bloomingdale's is a leading proponent of the "retro trainer" trend. And they don't intend to stop selling them anytime soon.
"It's a look that won't go away," said Sheila Aimette, Bloomie's director for shoes and accessories. "The shoe with a vintage feel to it, or a name with history behind it, is extremely popular with kids today."
Sales of retro track-shoe styles in the United States rose from $1.2 billion in the period ending in April 2003 to $1.4 billion in April 2004, according to the New York-based NPD Group.
NPD's sportswear-industry analyst, Marshall Cohen, said the popular look evokes a "lifestyle" more than it does a trend.
"It's all about the consumers looking back and showing recognition of styles from the past, and manufacturers acknowledging the recognition by moving those styles forward," Cohen said.
Manufacturers create a buzz by regenerating the same basic looks every few months — they simply change the color combinations and vary the materials.
"I've learned this: The brighter the color, the better it sells," said the owner of Decatur's Sole shoe boutique, Abigail Lignugaris. "The sneakers people are looking for are more about fashion than function."
Farshad Arshid, owner of the Standard boutique, said the track-inspired sneaker trend has caught on a bit slower locally than it has in cities like New York and Los Angeles because "they're not as widely available here yet, and you have to be a little bit more evolved from a fashion standpoint to get into this look."
But Arshid also predicted that the trend will remain on strong footing, at least for the next two years.
"They're still hot sellers in bigger cities, and they haven't even come close to peaking here yet," he said. "It's not going to last forever, but it's still definitely got some legs."
Monday, October 25, 2004
[New releases by veteran R&B artists] offer much-needed music for underserved black baby boomers. Today, R&B is dominated by young sound-alike singers whose lyrical landscapes are often limited to the extremes of love. New music for older audiences has virtually disappeared from the radio and stores, but record labels are slowly filling the void.
"There is a more concerted effort to address a disenfranchised market," said Gail Mitchell, Billboard magazine's R&B editor. "They don't feel part of the mix anymore. They don't feel a need to go into the record store."
In the last year, whites ages 35 to 64 made up about 75 percent of music buyers, while blacks were about 18 percent, according to the NPD Group. White consumer tastes are represented on the music charts, from the consistent presence of Bruce Springsteen to successful new releases by Barbra Streisand, the Eagles, Bette Midler, Van Morrison, Simon and Garfunkel and Michael McDonald. Al Bell, an executive at Stax Records during the famed Southern soul label's twilight years, said black baby boomers have been abandoned by record companies and radio stations.
In the old days, record companies would release a fairly balanced mix of bubble-gum pop and adult contemporary music for urban listeners, said Bell. But when hip-hop exploded in the '90s, companies began focusing on young listeners. Large radio stations primarily played hip-hop. With the exception of Luther Vandross and a few others, adult urban stations mostly played early hits by older artists instead of new music, he said.
"There's a movement under the way, off the radar, to go back and get some of these artists from back in the day," Bell said. Some major record companies are reaching out to black boomers with specialty imprints: Cash Money Classics released Marie's "La Dona" and Def Soul Classics released Patti LaBelle's "Timeless Journey."
However, other singers aren't counting on the majors. Baker signed with respected jazz label Blue Note Records, which also has Norah Jones and Al Green. Belle recorded on the jazz label Peak Records. Mills created her own label -- J.M. Records, named after her father, Joseph, who died in September.
"I'm glad I did my album independently," said [Stephanie] Mills, noting that it's in stores nationwide. "I'm not going to give up on me. I'm going to work my album until I can't work it anymore."
No matter how these '80s veterans, male or female, get their music to audiences, they're finding success on the charts. Currently, [Anita] Baker, LaBelle, Prince, Luther Vandross and Marie have albums of new music in the Top 100 on the R&B charts.
Several veterans have found success by collaborating with young stars, most notably Ronald "Mr. Biggs" Isley teaming with R. Kelly, or Ray Charles' new duet album "Genius Loves Company," which pairs the late singer with Norah Jones and others. Charles' new disc joins the recycled hits of the Isley Brothers remix album "Taken to the Next Phase," and the 2002 Stevie Wonder compilation "The Definitive Collection" in the Top 100 on the R&B charts.
Other seasoned artists with new albums include Mavis Staples' "Have A Little Faith" and Kool & the Gang's "The Hits: Reloaded," which pairs the funk band with contemporary artists such as Angie Stone.
More new music for older black listeners is also available or on the way, but from younger artists. Billboard's Mitchell likes the young Jermaine Dupri-produced singer Trina Broussard and Jill Scott. Faith Evans' new disc is due in December.
"I don't think people should write this audience off," Mitchell said
In Richmond, there were two large regional “lifestyle centers” built in a single year, endangering the retail life of the region’s dominant enclosed malls. The premier enclosed property in the Richmond market, Regency Square, had the most to lose, as the two new centers were decidedly upscale in market orientation.
Both Stony Point Fashion Park and Short Pump Town Center put the kibosh on Regency. Stony Point snagged several prominent stores from Regency, while Short Pump took mostly prestige and popularity. The newer, fresher approach to shopping with large outdoor spaces, multiple upmarket food options, and diverse tenant mixes seems to resonate with Richmond shoppers who were used to more typical malls like Regency and Chesterfield Towne Center.
Rather than give up, Regency Square has adapted to the new shopping trends. The mall was renovated this past year, with new soft seating areas and a substantially renovated food court, slowly eradicating what had been a very dark and dated shopping environment. By taking a proactive approach, Regency has not declined to the extent that so many of its enclosed peers have. In fact the crowds at the mall on this past Saturday were still robust.
The tenant mix is still dominated by the upscale, as proven by stores like Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, Williams-Sonoma, Sephora, and Lindt Chocolatier, New stores, somewhat less upscale than the premier merchants previously favored, have given the mall a little more flavor. The addition of Finish Line alone is cause for celebration; Regency never was a great place to buy sneakers before.
The kingdom has shrunken somewhat; but Regency Square is still the dominant enclosed mall in Richmond.
--Regency Square’s Sears store is one of the retailer’s few three-level locations.
--JCPenney has no exterior entrances on its lower level because of the site’s topography.
--Hecht’s has three locations at Regency Square, a North store selling men’s and children’s clothes and home items, a South store with women’s apparel, and a separate Furniture Gallery across Quiocassin Road in an adjacent shopping center.
--Regency Square and the newer Stony Point Fashion Park are owned by the same company, Taubman Centers, The two centers, five miles apart, share management, marketing and advertising.
Sun Goddess -- Ramsey Lewis with Earth Wind & Fire
I call this “the Carolina Circle song” because it reminds me of the old Carolina Circle Mall, which, like this song, was very, very ‘70s. Listen
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
My latest favorite modern rock song. I want this album. Listen
Spellbound and Speechless – Incognito
Very ‘90s, but very nice. This song is from one of the only Incognito albums without vocalist Maysa Leak, but I still like it. Listen
A Lover’s Holiday – Change
It’s hard to hear this song and not feel good. Evocative of an era, to be sure. Listen
Love Like This – Grover Washington, Jr. featuring Lalah Hathaway
Vintage Lalah vocals that I rediscovered just recently. I used to love this song and I still like it a lot. Listen
Star Of A Story (X) – George Benson
If you’ve never heard George Benson’s 1980 album Give Me The Night, you’re missing a treat. This was the peak of his commercial creativity, he was still jazzy and his pop sensibilities hadn’t gotten the best of him…yet. This is one of my favorite songs from that album, written by Rod Temperton. Listen
Play With Bootsy - (featuring Kelli Ali) – Bootsy Collins
This recent album track by Bootsy shows he can still get down, even if it isn’t exactly classic funk. This is a great dance track. Listen
We Gone Make It - (featuring Styles) – Jadakiss
Bling-rap over a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” sample. Very phat. Listen
Take The Short Way Home – Dionne Warwick
This Warwick gem was produced by Barry Gibb and it disappeared quickly after release because Gibb’s music was horribly out of style circa 1982. That said, this isstill a good song. Listen
Turn the Page -- El Debarge
Too 1989, too many chord changes, too awesome. This song disappeared too quickly. From the album Gemini (sign of the twins, get it?) Listen
Sunday, October 24, 2004
I got to try a couple different restaurants while I was there: Richbrau and Galaxy Diner.
Richbrau is located downtown in the Shockhoe Strip area along Cary Street. It’s a microbrewery and they make any number of delicious lagers and ales. I tried several of the darker beers (that’s my preference) and was pleased with all of them. It’s located in a renovated mercantile building and the atmosphere is very classy and urban without being self-mocking.
Galaxy Diner is located west of downtown in Carytown, a stylish early suburban district, also along Cary Street. The Galaxy is a modern interpretation of a classic diner that has just as much substance as it does style. Breakfast there was slow service wise, but the food quality was solid.
I wish I could have stayed a little longer, and I’m going to try to next time, but the overall trip was really fun and cool.
On my trip to Richmond, I missed meeting up with a couple of old friends that I was hoping to see because I didn’t end up going to an event they were participating in. Sorry about that, the error is totally my fault.
I’m hoping that next time I can plan things out a little better so that we can all go and have dinner and talk. I’d really like that to happen.
Over time, I learned how to shave better and to change my razor blades, wash my face more thoroughly and often and to keep more healthful daily routines like plenty of water and exercise. Still, the problems persist to a point, and I’d been looking for the final solution to bring my face back to normal.
I’ve tried any number of solutions, from homemade cures to ultraluxury potions, all with little to no success. The tide changed when I purchased Tend Skin.
Tend Skin is a post-shave product applied to dry skin. The active ingredients help reduce redness, ingrown hairs, and razor bumps. It’s a unisex product and can be used on faces, necks, legs underarms, and bikini lines.
It’s a little pricey, but the visible improvement one sees after a few uses is well worth the cost. I buy mine at Sephora, but it is sold in a number of retail stores including Nordstrom, plus at its own website.
Friday, October 22, 2004
It's been a long time since I laughed so hard at a single website, in this case, the site It Came From The 1971 Sears Catalog. As the title describes, these are actual scans of a Sears catalog from 1971, which are funny in themselves, but the author of the website, Linda Causey, decided to add in her own witty commentary which seals the deal. Laugh out loud funny, to be sure.
I missed out on some of the things here because I was born in the mid-'70s, but a lot of the stuff pictured looked eerily familiar. We had a 1976 Sears catalog that was a lot like this when I was younger, too. Those of you who actually were alive during the early 70’s will wonder how you ever survived this fashion nightmare.
As one reviewer said, "There's nothing quite like cranking up the Wayback machine every now and then — for the sake of nostalgia. Maybe too, to better understand why as a society we stopped doing certain things."
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
First Proffitt's Store Opens in Birmingham, Alabama; Store Offers a Multitude of New Approaches to the Traditional Department Store
October 20, 2004
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Oct 20, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Retailer Saks Incorporated (NYSE: SKS) (the "Company") today held the grand opening of its first Proffitt's department store in the state of Alabama. The new 264,000 square foot store at the Riverchase Galleria Mall in Birmingham is the largest in the Proffitt's chain and features a multitude of new approaches to the traditional department store model.
Toni Browning, President and CEO of Proffitt's, noted, "We refer to our Proffitt's store as 'surprisingly different.' As a result of extensive research with our customers, we have created a truly exciting, innovative, and fun shopping experience for our guests."
The new Proffitt's store is the second prototype location developed by the Company's Saks Department Store Group (SDSG). Younkers at Jordan Creek Town Center in Des Moines, Iowa opened in August of this year. Browning noted, "Our Riverchase store features many of the wonderful elements unveiled in the Younkers store but also pioneers some other unique features."
The Proffitt's store carries a wide selection of fashion apparel, shoes, and accessories for the entire family, as well as fine jewelry, cosmetics, and home and specialty gift items. The store features premier brands and specialty merchandise, with a third of the merchandise offerings unique to Proffitt's. The store also offers an extensive computerized gift registry for weddings and other special occasions.
Proffitt's is known for its friendly, personalized customer service. The Riverchase Proffitt's also has several sales associates who are professional entertainers, so look for them to break into their specialties at any time!
The store's interior focuses on customer comfort and convenience. "Living room" seating areas scattered throughout the store provide a relaxed atmosphere for guests. Just a few of the features and design elements unique to Birmingham department stores include:
-- Innovative technology which includes over 40 plasma screen TVs running promotional ads, music videos, and cooking demonstrations all day long and motion lighting that carries excitement throughout the interior of the store. In addition, the store's sophisticated sound system is capable of adjusting to the ambiance of each merchandise department.
-- The Gourmet & Coffee Shop at Proffitt's by Culinard and The Bakery at Proffitt's by Culinard, which offer delicious coffees, bakery items, sandwiches, and mouth-watering gelatti in countless flavors.
-- Various beauty services, including a full-service beauty salon, nail bar, and beauty bar offering a tanning bed, micro-dermabrasion, waxing, and facials for those looking to treat themselves to something special or relaxing. In addition, the store offers various clinical skin care products and computer kiosks in the cosmetics area that provide detailed product information to the customer.
-- A miniature version of its original Berkley, California store, the Elephant Wellness Boutique offers a variety of natural remedies, vitamins, cosmetics, body care products, and healthy living classes to help customers stay beautiful and healthy inside and out.
-- Club Libby Lu, catering to "tweens" between ages 6 and 12, refers to its customers as VIPs (Very Important Princesses) who receive the "royal" treatment as they enter the pre-teen fantasyland for shopping, birthday parties, and special events. The Club Libby Lu shop is organized into four zones: Libby's Laboratory (beauty and bath products), Libby's Bedroom (bedroom accessories, casual wear, and sleepwear), Libby's Jewelry Box (charm shop and jewelry), and The Style Studio (makeovers, dress-up apparel, shoes, and accessories).
-- Numerous interactive and entertaining experiences including a virtual golf simulator, fishing simulator, pool table, video games, pinball machines, and more.
-- Spirit, the store's Junior's area, which features not only an exceptional assortment of the latest contemporary fashions but a full array of accessories, temporary henna tattooing, and a "hang out zone" set in a club-like atmosphere with a photo both and a music bar, where the hottest CDs can be scanned and listened to.
-- A Signature Portrait Studio by Olan Mills, offering both appointments and walk-in service.
-- A cooking demonstration area in the state-of-the-art kitchen in the home department.
Browning added, "We are so happy to introduce Proffitt's to the Birmingham market and hope our customers will find the store not only entertaining and fun but filled with exceptional merchandise and service."
Saks Incorporated operates its Saks Department Store Group (SDSG) with 241 department stores under the names of Parisian, Proffitt's, McRae's, Younkers, Herberger's, Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner's, and Boston Store and 31 Club Libby Lu specialty stores. There are 27 Proffitt's stores throughout Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Company also operates Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises (SFAE), which consists of 64 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 54 Saks Off 5th stores.
SOURCE: Saks Incorporated
Trust me, it’s a cool book. I got it cheap at Barnes & Noble and it’s been a quick but interesting read. I never realized all the trials, tribulations and intricacies of something I took for granted as an always-here snack that I guess I thought magically appeared on store shelves.
Before Jell-O gelatin, Victorian housewives had to endure a whole day’s work to create gelatin desserts. Before Jell-O instant pudding, all pudding was slow-cooked on the stovetop. The Jell-O products were some of the first convenience foods and are a uniquely American creation.
This easy-reading book was the antithesis of the last book I read, A Consumer’s Republic, by Lizbeth Cohen. That book was all about how consumerism and government consumer policy shaped late 20th century America. Though a thorough read filled with well-documented facts, it’s not a bedside delight, unless you’re suffering from insomnia and need a cure.
There was an interesting parallel between the books, though. Cohen spent her childhood in New Jersey and focused a great deal of research on the city of Newark, which saw its population shift from prosperous and white to poor and ethnic, partially due to government economic polices that eased the transition to the suburbs for middle-class whites.
One of the people left behind in the ruins of what was once the prosperous metropolis of Newark was playwright and author LeRoi Jones, now known as Amiri Baraka, who wrote a controversial one-act play called “Jello” in 1965.
“Jello” addressed the empowerment of blacks by turning Rochester Van Jones, the black valet of Jack Benny’s character on “The Jack Benny Program” into a radical militant that robs Benny and other cast members who reference Jell-O products as they suffer for the wrongs they have done to Rochester over the years. Benny was a spokesman for Jell-O for over a decade starting in the 1930s and his radio show was sponsored by them.
“Jello” attempts to explain some of the rioting and especially looting that occurred in urban areas throughout the 1960s, which wraps back around to Cohen’s thesis that once blacks were exposed to consumerism, they wanted to experience it first hand. Since laws, traditions and economic policy prevented them from joining the mass market, urban blacks fought for their piece of the pie, even if it meant burning down the kitchen to do it.
The Federal Government responded by passing laws that gave minorities greater access to the basic pleasures of American life, allowing blacks to more fully experience the American Dream. One of the beneficiaries of the Civil Rights movement was comedian Bill Cosby, who went on to become Jell-O’s most famous spokesman.
When you think about it, two books that seemingly have little to do with one another can be intricately connected. Both Jell-O and mid-century American economic policy empowered consumers. Jell-O was the snack of choice in the early days of suburbia and symbolized the future of packaged foods, much as the Civil Rights movement symbolized the future of the interaction of Americans. Jell-O takes time to solidify, much like the grass-roots and government forces that joined together to make every American free and safe.
I wanted to be the first kid on my block to grace the internet with my presence. But to be fair, I was the third, because my friends Doug and Chris had their personal websites through Tripod before I did, but I digress…
As I was saying, I put up a site, and no one visited, other than my friends once or twice. I got bored and took it offline a year or two later. I got off the internet for a couple years, and when I returned in 2000, so did the site, to even smaller crowds than before. I lost interest and took it down again.
Now, seven years after my first attempt, it’s back. I only put up a couple of pages at stevenswain.tripod.com, this time using Microsoft Word, but I’m hoping that by me doing this blog, I can keep myself interested enough in providing the world with even more b.s.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
This was part of a great article on Charlotte.com on the irony of newspaper reporting, though I have to disagree somewhat with the author, Charles Held.
A tiny Daily Briefing at the bottom of the page in the Sept. 10 Business section reports the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The entire article is only three sentences. Compare this to the ink spilled on the opening of Nordstrom at SouthPark, or merely the possibility of Neiman-Marcus coming to Charlotte.
Stories about both purveyors of $400 shoes were awarded the Observer's premier placement: Page 1A, upper right, with bold titles. Wal-Mart never gets that kind of press unless it's under assault by local NIMBYs complaining about "big-box" stores (as if Nordstrom is a Mom 'N' Pop's).
The last sentence of the Wal-Mart briefing makes for interesting reading: The store will employ 500 people (without taxpayer subsidy!) and "include a fully stocked grocery area along with a Tire & Lube Express, Family Fun Center, vision center, McDonald's, portrait studio, one-hour photo lab, pharmacy, Murphy USA gas station, Hometown Threads embroidery shop, nail salon and hair salon."
Wal-Mart is the whipping boy for "sprawl," but residents can make a single trip covering groceries, photos, gas, prescriptions, eyeglasses, car care and haircut! How much running around, how much wasted gas, will it take for a SouthEnd condo dweller to do the same? One tiny article, great insight.
Nordy's and NM are big news because so few cities have them. They are symbols that a city has "arrived," as it were. Wal-Mart is everywhere and the opening of a SuperCenter is not big news anymore, even if it does produce 500 (low-paying) jobs.
The Observer's not fair. And Held's not entirely wrong. But by lumping all Nordstron and Neiman-Marcus shoppers into a gas-guzzling, condo-living SouthEnd heap, Held's bias against the "$400 shoe" crowd shows and he becomes what claims to detest, a hypocrite, in my opinion.
Warren: I don't want to sing this song with Dottie! I don't want to sing this song with Blah! I want to sing it all by myself! Me, me, me, me, ME!
Gil: Warren, that's not the message we're trying to convey with the Sharing Song.
How could a show like "Greg the Bunny" not suceed? And on Fox, of all places? Admittedly, it's a hard concept to swallow: a behind-the-scenes look at a fractured children's show where the puppets are living breathing organisms. But inconcievable concepts aside, this show was awesome. Despite hints of greatness, the show was never a ratings hit and lasted less than one season in 2002.
On the show, Greg (voiced by Dan Milano) is the best friend and roommate of TV production assistant Jimmy Bender (Seth Green), whose dad Gil (Eugene Levy) is the executive producer of "SweetKnuckle Junction." The kids' show is in crisis as its lead rabbitt puppet drops dead on the set during a taping, just as Greg is visiting Jimmy. Greg is hired on the spot, and hilarity ensues as he tries to assimilate with the other puppets and humans on the show.
There are overtones of racial pride (Greg joins a "puppish" movement after he's labeled a sell-out), Sesame Street (Count Blah [voiced by Drew Massey], a character on the show is an obvious homage or rip off, depending on how you view things), class struggle (Warren Demontegue [also voiced by Milano] is a pridefull classically-trained puppet who works on the show as Professor Ape for the money) , a seamy underside (provided by cast memebers Junction Jack [Bob Gunton], Dottie Sunshine [Dina Spybey] and Alison Kaiser [Sarah Silverman]) and slapstick comedy (Tardy the Turtle steals many of the scenes he's in) in "Greg the Bunny," making the show a lot more sophisticated then it seems at first glance.
I haven't seen the DVD collection yet, but it's coming out today and I will be getting it soon.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
The guy who painted the Dunks used a rough stencil then a fine brush. He says that altogether it took about 8-9 hours. According to him, “ [T]he reason there is no color but yellow is that the kicks are based off frank miller's that yellow bastard...if you've never seen frank miller's work you should check it out...it's amazing what he can create using only black and white.”
True dat. I’m not much of a comics reader, but these were quite nice as well as Frank Miller’s work, from what I’ve seen.
Check out the photos at the link above and the site for the trailer at www.sincity.adion44.com
Monday, October 11, 2004
At Pac-Man City we had our choice of (obviously) Pac-Man games, plus Asteroids, Galaga, Gyrus, Donkey Kong, Dig-Dug, Q-Bert, pinball and Lord knows what else. For a crappy arcade, it had a lot of options. The video games from back then really were my favorites. They were simple, cheap, low-tech ways to have fun.
As time went on, all my old favorites got replaced by more sophisticated, realistic video games that I’ll never understand. The practice of the gaming industry making things increasingly complicated turned me off and I honestly haven’t paid much attention to gaming since the ‘80s. I’ve tried some of the new games, but they’re way too involved and expensive for me.
I have seriously entertained the thought of purchasing a vintage or rebuilt video game machine with those early ‘80s games on them. They’re on the internet and stores like Frontgate and Brookstone sell them. But they are quite expensive (up to $3000) and finding a space for one here at the house would be a problem.
In the meantime, I’ve found a suitable substitute: A company called JackksPacific has come out with a 5-in-one video game system that you can plug up to your TV’s audio-video jacks. The one I bought at Wal-Mart has Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Galaxian, Rally-X, and Bosconian. The other one I want has Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga and several other games. It’s really cool. And incredibly cheap. The consoles sell for less than $20.00.
Looking back, some of the games are so simple it’s embarrassing, but it harkens back to the time when things seemed a little more innocent and natural, like childhood is supposed to be. I know things weren’t perfect back then, but having a game that was fun for the whole family (and still is) made life a little more bearable, for me anyway. We, my dad and brother and I, were never closer to each other than wee were back then. In fact, think Dad was a little nostalgic when I showed him what I bought. That’s got to count for something.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
The Superstar was introduced in 1969 as a performance basketball shoe and was the shoe of choice for high school, college and NBA players throughout the 1970s.
In the '80s, it became the footwear of choice for the emerging hip-hop generation, exemplified by the rap group Run-DMC, which wore unlaced adidas Superstars exclusively on-stage for years, even penning an ode to them in the mid-'80s.
The '90s saw a revival of the Superstar as streetwear, with any number of variations on the original design, including the SS2G series which refashioned the general look of the original into a modern basketball-worthy sneaker.
The 35th anniversary model features special embossed leather upper, metal eyelets and lace ornaments, and unique labeling. It is sure to be a hot seller for collectors and fashionistas alike.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
SNEAKERS MAY SMELL, BUT THEY NEVER LIE
By PATTY-PAT KOZLOWSKI
WHILE millions of Americans know the conspiracies behind who killed JFK and why Elvis is living in a trailer park in Port Orange, Fla., I don't waste my time with such theories. Instead, I live my life and judge people on their athletic footwear. I call it the Sneaker Theory.
Growing up, every generation had the fear of having to wear Bo-Bo's. Already the song is creeping in your head: Bo-Bo's, they make your feet feel fine, Bo-Bo's they cost $1.99.
Just like you didn't want to be the kid who was forced to eat a urinal cake, you didn't want to be the kid wearing Bo-Bo's. Thankfully, my parents, a hard-working Port Richmond couple, always bought me name-brand sneakers. They knew the importance of Adidas shelltops and Reebok Classics.
At 17, I graduated from high school and was told by that same couple that the gravy train had stopped: No more would they buy me sneakers, CDs or clothes from the Gap.
With more than $1,000 in graduation money, I did what I thought was the most responsible thing for a girl starting college in the fall. I chipped in with my best friends, rented a house in Wildwood and bought a pair of $135 Nike Airs.
These shoes were magnificent. They were white leather and mesh with royal blue soles and a lime green swish. And they had the air pockets in the heels so when I was running from Wildwood police for underage drinking on the beach, it felt like I was running on, well, air.
I took a job in a boardwalk ice cream store and by July Fourth the Airs were ruined - stained with jimmies and smelling like sour whipped cream. The swoosh peeled off and was replaced with mint chocolate chip and butter pecan stains. The laces were covered in waffle batter.
I needed new sneakers but I realized that another $135 was more than half my paycheck. No way was I going to spend that much of my own money. So for the first time in my life, I bought a pair of Bo-Bo's. The taste of urinal cake was never so bitter.
It was then that my sneaker theory was born. I vowed to never spend more than $20 on sneakers again, and a fetish for people's footwear was born. I started to judge them by their sneakers.
When I started working in public service, part of my job was writing vouchers for people who couldn't afford groceries. As I sat at my desk and filled out the number of people in a house and what food they needed, I would drop my pen so I could look at their feet: Bo-Bo's or the $135 Airs that I could no longer afford?
I never denied anyone a voucher. In fact, many times I listed more people so they would get more food. But in the back of my mind, I thought, "How is it that you are wearing $135 Nike Airs but you don't have money to feed your kids?"
You get disgusted with the system when you're writing a voucher so people can feed their kids but their cell phone goes off and they tell you to hold on a minute as they lift their newly manicured fingernails.
Hey, Mother of the Year, get rid of the cell and stop going to the nail salon and buy some ground meat and spaghetti. And there's footwear called Bo-Bo's: They make your feet feel fine, and they only cost $1.99!
I almost caused a riot in a supermarket when a couple in front of me used their welfare access card to buy shrimp, steaks and Ben and Jerry ice cream, while I was hoping I had enough cash for the store-brand dog food for Bruno the Dalmatian.
It wasn't that these people were buying top of the line items that made me angry because, hey, if someone gives you a free shopping spree, you're gonna buy steak and shrimp and not hot dogs and Mrs. Paul's.
But these people were wearing the brand-new Reeboks that Randall Cunningham was pitching for $120 at the local Foot Locker. I know because I wanted those Reeboks but couldn't afford them.
SNEAKERS ALSO tell a lot about a person. Take restaurant stiff Neil Stein. Here's a guy who told a judge that he didn't have the money to pay the staff at his restaurants, but he shows up the next Friday night wearing $250 Pumas that you can only special-order! How do I know? Because I surf sneaker sites like a pedophile surfs tellytubbies.com! I window shop on Walnut Street and drool over the Pumas that equal my car payments.
The other day, everyone's favorite professional protester, Cheri Honkala of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, helped shut down City Council for a few hours. Honkala is dedicated to organizing welfare recipients, the homeless, the working poor and all people concerned with economic justice.
Hey, more power to you, sister, but next time you stand in front of Council and preach about being poor and underfunded, don't wear your $95 New Balance sneakers - you know, the ones with the black suede and the gray leather logos?
I thought my sneaker theory was foolproof until I came across a pair of brand-new Adidas shelltops at a flea market. The seller said his high school daughter only wore them once, and he was selling them for $2.
He told me he bought them for $65 last year but she outgrew them when the next new fad came along. So I bought a pair of name-brand sneakers for the same amount as a gallon of gas.
In reality, could all these name-brand-sneaker-wearing pet peeves of mine have bought their sneakers for $2 at a flea market?
Did Neil Stein leave Striped Bass one day and venture to a flea market to buy used $250 Pumas that some rich guy didn't want anymore? Did Cheri Honkala's New Balances fall off a truck on a street near one of her tent cities?
Did the food voucher needy momma buy those pricey Nikes at a thrift store? Did the surf-and-turf-eating duo at the Shop Rite buy those gold-tipped Reeboks with their Access Card, too?
If that's true, then I open my mouth and insert my under-$20 sneaker.
Patty-Pat Kozlowski wrote this column wearing $19.99 Pumas she bought on sale at Franklin Mills Mall.
'Old skool' sneakers are beating a path to new
Karl Treacy IHT Wednesday, October 06, 2004
PARIS Remember those stinking sneakers you threw in the trash in your teens?
They could be worth hundreds of dollars by now - for vintage sneakers are the height of cool.
Like much that has influenced fashion in recent years, the popularity of the vintage sneaker can be laid firmly at the door of the music industry, specifically that of rap and R&B, with legendary names like Run-DMC not only important in music history but in footwear terms too. Like urban black music and its "bling-bling" mentality, the craze for "old skool" sneakers did not take long to enter the mainstream.
"About two and a half years ago, the re-release of the Nike Air Max 90 ignited a spark," explained Magdi Fernandes, owner of Slammin Kicks in central London, which specializes in the kind of sneakers that are fueling the demand for vintage styles. "Now you can't go into a trainer store in the U.K. without seeing rows of vintage looks."
Unlike some other stores, Slammin Kicks does not sell original, worn footwear to an informed niche market of collectors. It sells re-issues of classic or rare sneakers to an eager general public. There are always exceptions, such as the four pairs of Nike Air Force 1 and 2, as well as Rocafella and Black Albummodels donated by the music
impresario Damon Dash that are worth at least £1,000, or $1,790, each. The rappers Jay-Z and Kayne West, two of the store's better-known clients, have added to the store's reputation as an epicenter of a hot trend.
Fernandes, who played basketball professionally, has made it store policy to "provide shoes that no one else can provide, at real prices for the street." This notion of affordable exclusivity, generally associated with products like luxury handbags, is increasingly apparent in sports footwear.
Oki-Ni, a concept-driven retailer of hard-to-find fashion, footwear and gadgets, is one such example. Its main store on London's Savile Row is only one of a number of such outlets scattered throughout Britain and springing up in Stockholm, Hong Kong and Japan beginning in late September. They act as glorified galleries for the retail activity taking place on the company's Web site.
The store's owner, Paddy Meehan, collaborates with Adidas Originals' heritage division to "trawl through the vintage back catalogues," selecting styles for reproduction, often with various tweaks on the original. Usually they are issued in very small runs of about 50 pairs, which means that selling online from a warehouse base is the only option.
Meehan said Oki-Ni's customer base ranges in age from late teens to mid-40s and is "fairly savvy" on fashion. He is quick to point out that "these are people who are knowledgeable," and that "what they are looking for is a unique and beautiful product."
Drieke Leenknegt, Nike's head of communications for Europe and the Middle East, works for a company whose Air Jordan and Dunk models are benchmarks in the history of sports footwear. "Our approach has always been first and foremost the product," Leenknegt said, with vintage style a more surface concern."The first objective is to design products that perform and then look good," she said. "There is no reason why something from the past can't and shouldn't influence design."
Fernandes agreed on the importance of function, pointing out Nike's Huarache 2K4, which he nominated as a future classic. Designed for the basketball star Kobe Bryant, and inspired by 11 past styles, the resulting shoe is a smooth, unfussy fusion - an element of design simplicity that classic sneakers share.
Tokyoites, a Japanese boutique in the Marais district of Paris, sells vintage action toys in their original boxes and a various mixture of items from bicycles to clothing and shoes.A store employee in charge of footwear pointed out star pieces like Nike Night Track glitter-soled runners, which date to the late 1970s, black Adidas shell-toes that commemorate the late DJ Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, and a pair of Dunks featuring artwork from the late French artist Bernard Buffet.
In Tokyoites, though modern reproductions abound, the focus is on original sneakers, some with merited mud marks - and price tags dripping an unfeasibly large number of digits. Karim's personal feelings about the quality of modern sport footwear were unprintable.
They were not shared by Leenknegt, who said that Nike's "iconic" Air Force One basketball shoe, for example, had "led the way" in performance and design.
Of course the resuscitation and adaptation of retro fashion is nothing new, and at Martin Margiela, the trend has always been the dissection, reworking and re-assembly of old clothing in new and thought-provoking ways.
It was an organic progression for Margiela to delve into the world of sneakers. He worked first from a stock of sneakers from the Austrian Army and then from a cache of surplus air force sneakers. Finally, the shoes were customized by the reclusive Belgian designer by adding personal graffiti.
While reserves exhaust themselves, trends also tend to wear out like over-worn soles. However, Fernandes said there was consensus within the industry that vintage sneakers and their copies would stay around for at least the next three to five years.Leenknegt's feeling about retro is more ambiguous. "Who knows?" she said. "There is no greater force than the future."
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
If you’ve read the music magazines over the past several months, they’re hyping two rock acts as The Next Big Thing: Franz Ferdinand and the Scissor Sisters. I’ve heard both, and I think SS is more distinctive, but FF has a better chance of longevity.
So my question is, what do you think? Do either of these group’s buckets hold water? Or is there some other new act out there that kicks their asses? Discuss.
For those haven't, click on the title link above to see one of the more stunning assemblages of new and exotic kicks on the internet. From the sublime to the ridiclous, it's all covered here. I'm a pretty thourough researcher, and they threw some stuff at me that I'd never even heard of. For example, who'd have thought Hermes had a sneaker?
Most of the kicks shown are available for sale, but some of it is not at the links specified. However a cleaver researcher can find most all of them on the internet. That said, check out the site and drool at the hotness!
It’s been a good outlet for my opinions and assorted knowledge about all things sartorial. I have yet to submit a question or inquiry, but I have answered any number of them. The most common ones are “I need a new look, please help,” “Does this match?” and “Is this product/procedure right for me?” I’ve actually been thanked a couple of times, so I guess I’m helping someone out there.
The only downsides are the occasional bickering factions (a couple of members have a bitter but hilarious rivalry that spills over into the forum when one answers a question) and the weird questions, like the guy who wanted to know how to get rid of foot hair. I wouldn’t touch that question with a ten foot pole. But overall, it gives me something to do and keeps my mind sharp right before bedtime
Sunday, October 03, 2004
You can click on the title above to link to the page, as I didn't want to clog up my entire front page with sartorial opinions. That would take away room reserved for mindless chatter about sneakers and malls :)
If you don't read the whole thing, here some points I gleamed:
--Women care about a man's intelligence, sense of humor, integrity, listening skills, etc. But style is what that whole package is wrapped up in. It's the first impression.
--Gay men, on average tend to be more adventurous and more focused on clothes - or at least are willing to admit that they are. but the male fashion scene is also influenced by African American men, teenagers, sports, technology, CEO's and Hollywood.
--In clothing decisions, choose quality over quanity. Love thy tailor. Dress for the occasion. Be comfortable and don't be a chicken.
--Buy pants based on fit. Nothing makes you fatter than pants that look too small on you and show your gut hanging over.
--The wardrobe of male fashion conformity: Dockers, blue chambray button-down shirt, loafers with a rolled over heel and that haven't seen polish in their lifetime, canvas backpack
--Everyone is allowed their indulgence. for some people it's clothes, for others it's cars, wine, jewelry, rare books, season tickets to the whatevers. the problem is when the indulgence leads to debt counseling.
True dat. Read the article.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
If you’ve read this blog much, you know I’ve been looking for a low top pair of white-on-white Nike Air Force 1 basketball shoes for a little while now. I actually wanted two pairs: one to floss and one to customize. But that’s another story.
They were seemingly everywhere for a while after they were released, including Dick’s Sporting Goods in Greensboro (which I mentioned on a previous post as one of my luckiest spots for kicks). But after I convinced myself to buy a pair, they seemed to disappear from stores all at once.
I found out from the salesperson at Dick’s that the reason that some Nike shoes seem to disappear is that Nike tightly controls the distribution, producing a limited amount of product, and reigning in the unsold pairs after a certain amount of time to keep the remainders from being deeply discounted. It’s a strategy that a lot of vendors use, but this was the first I’ve heard of Nike doing it.
Sneakerheads: I know you hear me. When you see some kicks that you want that are hot, don’t screw around. STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT!!!
Nike has already pulled the immensely popular shoes from many stores, but they still are available if you look real hard and you’ve got good luck. Like I did. I got the last pair of size 13 white-on-white AF1 lows in Greensboro, not to mention the last pair Dick’s had, period! I couldn’t be prouder.
I’m ending my search for the second pair for now. The Dunk lows are more widely available and they have more layered surfaces to color once I convince myself to customize a pair.
If you’re out there looking for the same thing I was, then here’s a couple of places you can check that I think may have them. I linked the mall websites, where applicable, so you can find the phone numbers for the stores.
Champs Sports: Four Seasons Town Centre, Greensboro, NC had white-on-white AF1 lows on display, but sizes are limited. Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh, NC had a few pairs of lows and highs as of last Monday, but that could have changed.Other than that, there’s always the internet…
Dick’s Sporting Goods: Greensboro, NC still has highs, but the lows are gone. Select Dick’s stores may carry AF1s , but call your local store for availability.
Finish Line: Valley View Mall, Roanoke, VA had highs on display, but sizes are limited.
Also, check out Vitals. Only one pair of sneaks in the premier issue, (in the back: they’re special edition Dunks and they are phat) but it’s an otherwise perfect light read.