Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / Boyhood /
1940s, 1950s, since: @ K. 2001 05 28
We live in a melange of cultures full of Macroinformation, full of contradictions. We speak a melange of languages, mixing natural and artificial languages, and call the mix “English.” Just as we bring our own ideolect to the regional dialect, we also bring our own ideoculture to the regional crio. One aspect of my own sartorial contradictions I reserve this module to narrate. I imagine some readers will relate to it more than others.
As a kid I’d dress up for Sunday School or Church. I’d eagerly dress up for other occasions as well. Other kids shirt sleeves buttoned: I wore French cuffs and had a dozen different sets of cuff links: gold, silver … decorated, plain. Other kids wore a tie to church. I wore some combination of tie clasp, tie pin, collar stay … The owners of His Lordship, men’s accessories with a nautical theme, were clients of my mother’s, so a number of extra fancy gifts drifted my way. By the time I was a teen my Zippo lighter had a seahorse in relief, silver on stainless steel: so well made it never wore. Neither did it ever snag in my pocket. At eighty pounds, I often carried an extra pound of hardware.
Yet also as a teen, when we went to the beach, my friends and I equipped ourselves with floppy sneaks minus the socks, one bathing suit: worn; one tee shirt: worn or doffed as it suited us; one towel: generally carried about the neck while traveling; and one single dollar bill stuffed into the bathing suit’s little reticule of a pocket.
The only remaining item of important equipment was part of our anatomy: once three or so of us where on the avenue, walking toward Long Beach Road, we’d put out a thumb and never had to wait longer than a minute before a car would chauffeur us to the beach: Point Lookout rather more frequently than Jones Beach. But that latter didn’t matter to us. The beach was the beach. There’d be water and sand and girls either place. Either place the beer was $1. Our budget allowed one mid-afternoon beer each (in place of lunch, of course) and age fifteen was close enough to age eighteen for the not too precisely legal beer concessions. The beaches charge by the car, not by the head, so whoever picked up these clean-cut hitchhikers was responsible for that part: our total budget was for beer, not transportation.
We’d arrive at the boardwalk, pick a spot by the water, throw down our towels, kick off our sneaks, peel off our tee shirts and cruise the shore, picking our point of attack. My friends and I were all on the high school track team. I don’t know how well we concentrated on our specialties. Mine was the mile and so long as my jogging the distance garnered me at least three third place finishes a season, I’d get my letter and my punk jacket: more than that mattered naught to me. But one thing we did work on — not the team, just my clique — was acrobatics. We’d flip each other until we could flip solo. By the time I was fifteen I could do a standing no hands flip, landing back on the same feet I started with. (It’s been a while, but I don’t doubt that I could step outside this very minute and flip. I might land on my ass at age 62 going on 63, but I’m utterly confident that I wouldn’t land on my head.) [Now at 75 the bet stands, though I’m all the further from proving it.] So we’d stalk the shoreline till we saw at least one cute girl standing in water up to her pussy (any deeper and our trick wouldn’t have the same effect). We’d attack in formation, one teen on the tail of the other, like fighter planes, like geese flying, sprint into the surf, and, just athwart the girl, flip, and land in a cannonball. Boom … Pow … Kersplash! Water boiling in our ears, we’d hear the girl scream. Then we’d swim out to deep water, ignoring her.
I remember a 1950s Dragnet episode where Joe Friday’s geek weighs all the cop shit he carried with him: gun, ammo, holster, cuffs, flashlight … “No wonder I’m always tired,” he said. No: you’re fat, a lard ass, out of shape, I thought. But you’re right about carrying all that crap anyway. Light is best. (And what about all the Chesterfields they smoked?)
I was a skinny kid. At this moment I look in disgust at the belly I’m carrying right now. Time to starve myself back down to one forty, one forty-two. One thirty-five would probably be my fighting weight: if I ever fought (fought physically, that is). (Marathon weight? Forget it. You can run twenty miles. You can jog a hundred miles. But running past twenty is extremely destructive to the body.) (I’ve never jogged or run more than five and one half miles in any single effort.) (Stop and go, you can go “forever.” Caesar and his army could cover one hundred miles in one day!) (Skiing, I’d ski hard for eight hours straight: 8 AM to 4 PM: but that’s stop and go.) (I gave myself a foretaste of the must-come starvation yesterday, eating only grapefruit for breakfast and a bagel and lox for dinner: no snacks, no beer, not even NA, no pop … But I need to string that together for a month or two. Sorry. Not while I’m struggling with Macroinformation.)
Anyway: light is best. (2013 10 23 I only got to 145 in 2007, in jail, starving myself and exercising like a maniac. Overnight I went back up to 150. I’m now somewhat stable around 154.)
I inherited and further gave myself plenty of gold & silver junk to go around bejeweled throughout adulthood. Jingle-jangle hardware. In 1976 I brought (traded for) a puzzle sculpture necklace. If you could take it apart, the last two pieces were a penis in a vagina. If you could get it back together again, you could wear it again. I paid $200 odd cash for a gold necklace to hold the damn thing bouncing on my chest. I wore it maybe twice. Around 1970 I bought a harness that was supposed to hold a camera snug against my chest yet stretch on command so I could take a snap shot and get right back to skiing. I wore it while skiing Mount Washington’s Raymond Cataract and practically got my nose broken. The guy who’d suggested it to me wore a scar on his chin from his camera. Forget it. The eye and memory are enough. So, I can’t show my experience to you. That’s OK: the photograph couldn’t show it to you either. Mountains don’t photograph: not like skiing them. I could show you the photographs I took border to border, 360 degrees, the whole panorama from the summit of White Horse Mountain across from Lake Louise. You might shrug: so what? No: you have to climb the mountain. You have to turn. You have to see the glaciers, appreciate your elevation, gasp for enough of the thin air. You have to have been slipping on the shale.
Winter 2003 I finally saw a photograph that does justice to a good mountain piste. This race course is extra-hairy: but no more so than I’ve skied in Utah, Colorado, France, New Hampshire …
No. The wet ware is enough to carry: your own body. Culture as well as climate makes us cover it. But I’ve lived most of my adulthood the way I went to the beach as a teen: minimally encumbered. Best of all was the summer I spent mostly naked on a mountain top. But that I’ll have to put in a different file. Maybe later tonight. (And these days I love nothing better than to boat to an isolated weed bed of Lake Istokpoga and wade wearing nothing but my fly rod. (OK, so I also wear my glasses (or I couldn’t get the hook out of the blue gill’s mouth): and I keep a bandanna tied around my neck (cause the blue gill showers my glasses while I’m taking the hook out!) Oh yes: and I also wear my visored cap: to cut the glare on my eyes.)
Ah. The following memories should perhaps have occurred to me earlier, above, but I’m not going to rewrite. Two thoughts from the encumbered side:
When I was a kid my mother and her sister (my aunt, of course) took me, my sister, and our cousins on a day trip up the Hudson to Bear Mountain. However old I was, I was young enough to whine when my cousin Pat didn’t want me to come into the ladies’ room with her. I’d been attached to her in the moments before her need was announced. Later, on the return trip down river, all my attention was on a group of men dancing in the ship’s ballroom. I understood them to be from Fiji. I was stricken with a love and longing even greater than that for my cousin. The men had filed teeth, implanted with diamonds, gold biceps rings …
Years later José Ferrer’s Cyrano de Bergerac played every afternoon on the Million Dollar Movie. Ah, glory: the men had long hair! Some aristocrat’s tresses fell about his shoulders in curls.
2017 01 16 The TV show Versailles shows plenty of men in long curls: and bisexuality, and lots and lots of hetero-: gorgeous bosoms, pussy galore.
The beard I grew in 1965 I at first let get as long as that depicted for Moses. Once I trimmed it, it stayed trimmed. By the late 1960s some pockets of civilization — Columbia, Berkeley — sported men as hirsute as any yoga. By the 1970s long hair was everywhere. I rode behind a guy building Fuller domes on his Honda as his tarred pigtail smacked me around but good. Maybe I can find my passport photo to show what I looked like in 1970.
But hair is a pain. It takes many times more shampoo and sucks the dirt and grease right back up. These days I just take the Wahl clipper and cut it all to the height of the Wahl attachment: ragged-ass crew cut. No earring has ever hung from my lobes: not for five seconds. Only the dentist has touched my teeth. And no, I’ve never tried an arm ring. At twenty I’d walk over into Harlem and buy weird African rings. In the Village I’d pick up finger junk ugly enough to bruise my knuckles. By thirty-five I’d taken even my wedding ring off. Now I wear a watch. I don’t know why, since I seldom care what “time” it is. (Thanks to yesterday’s Lakers ( 2001 05 27) and John Grisham’s The Testament last night and the total non-effectiveness of the Melatonin I took at 5 AM, I went to bed this morning around 8 and woke up this afternoon around 3. Makes no difference to my work which I do whenever. Hell, I was in plenty of time for the Philadelphia / Milwaukee game at 5.
Right now I’m sitting at the Mac in my most normal costume: bare feet, shorts, and a tee shirt. Yes, there are briefs under the shorts. I wash the briefs more often, the shorts less often. If I went without the somewhat hygienic briefs, I know I’d be wearing fungus instead. Toes to shins (from wade-fishing in living water) is bad enough.
pk Dress: 2004 11 30
There are points I would like to make about how humans dress themselves, one or two of which I’ll park here till I get the ambition to write the actual module.
Why do we do what we do? It’s easy to overestimate the completeness or accuracy of our theories.
Why do women wear falsies? Why did Jack Johnson wrap his dick the better to stuff his shorts at his public workouts? The answer to the first seems obvious, to the second almost as obvious: or equally obvious once you’ve even partly aware of America’s history with regard to race. Anthropologists found people in Borneo whose men wear straw phalluses sized by rank. That one seems obvious enough. I’ll bet with the majority on most of our answers, but how complete are they? How much is wrong? We’re only human beans and we’ll never know.
Why did that girl choose black for nail polish? Why did the jerk wear white socks even knowing of his classmates contempt? Why does such and such a tribe pierce an ear lobe with that particular wood, why is the earring more bulbed on one side than the other?
This overall module has touched on dress: but I intend to relate it to a bigger question: Who are we trying to impress?
The guy’s mother taught him to open doors for women. She’s dead now. He still opens doors for women: even though these days he’s more likely to get a dirty look or even an angry word than a thanks and a smile. Who’s he doing it for? The Englishman acts so, so civilized he drives the American crazy. He’s in America now, but still he acts so so civilized. Are these patterns nothing but habit?
Are we trying to impress God? What do we do once we decide that God is somewhere between 99 and 100% con?
There are some personal idiosyncracies where the individual and only the individual knows why she does something. Occasionally the individual is even right. In sartorial matters I’ll tell you one of mine:
For close to twenty-five years I’ve dressed ninety percent one way: shorts and a pocket tee shirt. I could say 98% one way except that for the first decade of those two and a half I also wore shoes more often than not. The whole time, outdoors, I also wear a hat with a brim for the sun. For a good while the hat would be a safari hat. Sometimes a straw hat. Mostly now, just a brimmed cap.
But, especially in that twenty-five to fifteen years ago period when I spent half my time in the north, I’d wear a shirt on top of my pocket tee shirt: unbuttoned, not tucked in. On cool nights now in Florida I do the same: outer shirt: unbuttoned, not tucked in.
My Catherine would tell me that shirts that are cut straight around the waist may be worn hanging; but shirts that are cut hanging down over the bottom in back (and the balls in front) are to be tucked. I wore them out either way. Why?
My son and I, however regularly we communicate, never see each other without mutually known scheduling: he’s arriving on the train, he and Nathalie are driving here, I’m driving to his wedding … Should bk arrive unexpectedly on a cool evening in January, he’d likely see me with my shirttails hanging out. He might notice the neighbors not liking it: or my four day stubble: or my bare feet … (or the unweeded plants). Would bk know why I’m dressed as I am? I doubt it.
I know why (I think): and I’ll tell you. Because that’s how bk dressed, age fourteen or so.
Am I trying to impress my son? Certainly I try to impress bk: always have, always will. But that detail is irrelevant to the effort. It’s not for what he knows: I’m not dressing for him; I dress for myself: it’s for what I know.
(Then why am I telling you: right now? That I really don’t know.)