Ballin’ Oates: Darryl and John meet contemporary hip hop.
Skeetwood Mac doesn’t work quite as well as the set above, but it’s a valiant effort.
There are so many pieces out there about riding with young kids, but not many about riding with older kids, so when I started riding with my older child, a young teenager, I felt like we were on the steep end of the learning curve. The Big Kid learned to ride a bike when he was little, had no issues with balance, distance, or speed, but I found that street riding in a more serious way was an exercise in parent-child anxiety. I was constantly yelling, “STOP!” “GO!” “WATCH OUT!” “OMG!” and freaking out about nearby drivers, intersections, and near-accidents, which inspired a serious lack of confidence in BK.
Confidence and safety go very much hand in hand on the road. The two things I noticed that were crucial to his success as a new cyclist were:
If riding bikes with a toddler is about having the right gear, riding bikes with a teenager is about having gear that is both for safety and for confidence.
Convincing him that a helmet was a necessity and not a fashion item was the first hurdle. Admittedly I was not the best role model until we started riding on a regular basis. Once I had some real solo experience on the road — and with the aggression of drivers — we wore helmets. No excuses, no exceptions.
Another crucial step was finding a bike that fits his body. Teenagers seem to grow inches overnight. They are constantly growing. Can’t keep this kid in shoes or jeans. While he once was fine on a youth bike, very suddenly he was too tall for it and required an adult bike — but still one small and light enough to fit his frame. We went through several used bike configurations* before finding one that was comfortable that he could navigate with feet on the ground at stops, and that he could start easily at intersections. That said, some cool lights, some bike stickers, and a helmet that didn’t make him feel dorky were pretty important too.
At some point I realized that in order for him to feel confident on the road, I had to get myself to a level where I was confident and knowledgeable myself. I started reading bike blogs, paying more attention to the local biking advocacy group, and asking annoying questions at my local bike shop. I also had to learn the local laws of the road and get familiar with using turn signals and taking the lane.
As I learned these rules, I’d pass them on as we were riding together. With practice, BK began signaling his movements and taking the lane alongside me. He knew what to to at stop signs and stoplights and when a car was approaching in any direction. He got comfortable in bike lanes on busier stretches of road, and began to learn the side streets in our section of town. I haven’t given him carte blanche freedom to go wherever he wants by bicycle, but I’m confident in his skills.
All this said, before I sat down to write this post, I googled a lot about teenagers and bikes and found that most of the top stories online are of drivers targeting teen cyclists for violence nationwide. Kids are shot at and run off the road for the offense of sharing the lane. This is terrifying. It both underlines the need to educate the greater public about cyclist safety and road rights, and emphasizes the pervasive social enmity we have against teens and older children. Even living in a bike-friendly — or bike-friendlier — community, we have experienced some scary interactions with angry and/or ignorant drivers that remind me that no matter how safe and knowledgeable we are out there, we are always at the will of the people behind the wheel. My job as a parent is to make sure that BK knows how to minimize that risk on the road as a cyclist, and later as a driver as well.
* Craigslist Bikes is your friend.
The allure of Hilda is not that she’s sexually available, but that she is active, curious, adventurous, and unconscious about her zaftig body. She had a full and romantic (if fictional) life, was kind of a goober, and possessed the magnetic, sexy goodwill that comes from living a life of happiness, much like many of the magnetic women you may know. Imperfect, and yet perfect in their imperfection.
* [RIP Heavy D.]
“…but if you’re looking for a handgun, a really good sandwich, a 120 year-old political election pin, and a catalog of new and used Stephen King books, I can get you all these things in a one block radius.” AKA, a regular Saturday with me.
A review of Pop-Up Lafayette, the new, elusive, all local and organic “supper club” that is taking over the imaginations of area foodies.
“Our political philosophies are layer upon layer,” one chef said. Another said, “We just want to cook beautiful food in an interesting way.” Another said, “We want to cook food we are lifted by.” Another argued that the Midwest doesn’t have an identifiable food culture apart from catfish and tenderloin sandwiches. They made a point of emphasizing their purveyors for the event: Everything was purchased or made or grown locally. Mt. Gilboa Farms from Benton Co., farmer’s markets, local gardens of friends and family, a pork farm from Mulberry, locally sourced honeycomb, Trader’s Point creamery, Union City beer from Indianapolis, all fair trade and/or organic. You get the picture.
The problem is the lack of knowledge and confidence us regular non-chef folks have in the kitchen. They spoke, for example, of the end-of-farmers-market routine, where the participating farmers donate what produce they have left over to local food pantries. The food pantries find that while they are grateful to have all this fresh food, people aren’t always sure what to do with it.
As someone who likes good food and loves to eat, I wasn’t a strong cook until I got into the now discontinued “The Minimalist” columns from the NYTimes, where columnist Mark Bittman used a narrative recipe style to get you to take 3-6 fresh ingredients, add fat, heat, acid, and seasoning, and end up with a great, fresh meal. I kept going back to the squash salad course in my mind. This deceptively simple dish was quite good, perfect on a hot and humid summer day. I’d never eaten raw squash before. When I asked for a quick recipe to put on the site, they shrugged and discouraged it.
What Pop-up Lafayette would rather we do is get motivated, do dinner with friends, and learn how to cook from one another. Another alternative, one suggested, is to get into City Foods in downtown Lafayette for the regular — FREE — cooking classes they offer there as part of their mission. The other thing is to figure out how to repurpose leftovers, so, for example, how to roast a chicken, and then how to reuse the leftovers on days two and three.
Why all the secrecy? We have a serious red tape problem in town for new restaurants and food concepts, thanks to the ever fragmented laws regulating Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Purdue. Talk to any local cook about the combative relationship between the health department and the restaurateur.
We discuss nonsense food codes with Pop-up Lafayette in the linked article as well.
I’ve been talking about the “pop-up” concept with a lot of artists and foodies around town, and these are the first folks to make it happen. On the Think Lafayette Facebook page, we post a lot of pop-up art and parks and food installations in cities around the world. None of these are municipally sanctioned, and they are organically grown from the creativity of the community around them. I’d like to see more of this in Lafayette, and less “public” art with staged press releases so that local government can take the artist’s credit. As Dave Bangert said, city government is at its best when taking a backseat and letting the citizenry shine. Indeed, for artisans too.
1. I don’t thrift in town if I can help it. I travel to the smaller towns in the region, avoid Goodwill and Salvation Army, and hit up the little church thrifts in Nowhere, Indiana.
One major reason I skip town that the tiny towns may not have excellent quality clothing, but they have a ton of clothes and sell them cheap. A thrift store not too far from here offers $2 a bag sales in which the little church ladies force you to fill your industrial-sized garbage bag of clothing before you leave. Another reason is that if you’re like me and don’t mind mending and spot cleaning, you can find some funky clothes that would otherwise be snapped up by hip-minded college-aged students with an eye for vintage t-shirts.
The other major reason is that the ratio of “time capsules” to collectors is smaller in rural areas. A time capsule is an estate by an older person who has passed on or is down-sizing, and all of their curated items from an earlier era. The best time capsule I ever had the pleasure of shopping was a high-end horse ranch in the middle of nowhere, the estate of two well-traveled professors. It was glorious.
2. Know your size. First, know your measurements and your actual dress size based on those measurements.
Better: Don’t just know the number, but be able to eyeball what will fit and what won’t. I know certain styles, shapes, and fabrics will work with my body and others won’t. I can pretty much look at a piece of clothing and know whether or not it will fit me. My safe bets, being pretty curvy and of average height, include A-line skirts, cotton t-shirts, sweaters, and cardigans. I’m not so much worried about what brand label it is so much as it looks wearable, feels machine washable and I like it. After all, I’m getting an enormous amount of clothes for quite literally a few dollars.
3. Go ahead and try it on — over your clothes. My friend taught me how to try on clothing in a thrift store by wearing things in that easily come on and off in the aisle under your potential buys. Nobody cares, I’ve gathered, and neither do I since I’m out of town.
An easy way to figure out if a waistline will fit your body: Hold the pants/skirt flat. Place the pants waistband over your neck where a tee shirt collar falls. If the waistline of the pant will not meet on the back of the neck, the pant will not fit. If it does and there is some give, there is an excellent chance it will fit around your waist. Seriously.
Yes, you will be wrapping pants around your neck in public like a weirdo, but it works.
4. Don’t go in with a particular item in mind. Think more openly about, for example, what season of clothes you’re looking for, or specifically what you aren’t looking for. Be open and try on a lot of stuff. There are always more clothes. Buy what you’ll actually wear.
Thrift store shopping provides the great majority of my wardrobe — the only things I spend a good amount of money on are pants and shoes, although I have quite a few pairs of thrift store shoes in my arsenal as well. Purchasing a good pair of pants for work is a good investment if you’re an office monkey, because a black or brown pair can be worn with nearly any crazy shirt you pick up at the thrift store and be made to look professional. I have one pair of black pants, one pair of brown pants, and a pair of gray pants. This is all I need for work with my collection of thrifted tops.
Shoes, too, are a good investment, primarily because you have to care for your feet lest you end up with hooves like mine. Get leather, make sure the heels are in good condition, and that there are no signs of cracking. If they stink, shake some baking powder in there before you wear them.
If you’re local to the Lafayette, Indiana, area and you’ve eaten at Arni’s, you are probably already familiar with G.G. Drayton’s art without realizing it. She was well-known in her time for creating the “Dolly Dingle” character, including an extremely popular line of paper dolls — which are featured in jumbo size in the back room of Arni’s in Market Square.
I didn’t know this until recently, when I purchased a pair of watercolors that I knew were probably special, without actually knowing what they were. Once I got them — for a pittance — and got them into the car and into decent cell reception, I looked them up and just about wrecked my car. I had just picked up two original Grace Gebbie Drayton watercolors, framed, in excellent antique condition. I was first attracted to the little orange cat, which read like a mid-century, mod piece. When I saw the little bulldog, it read Victorian/Edwardian to me and I realized the pair was probably much older.
So, score! But wait a minute, who the heck is G.G. Drayton?
I did some research and found out she was a pretty cool person. An Edwardian clothes horse and the most famous of a family of lady artists, Grace Gebbie Wiederseim Drayton was an early comic book artist and entrepreneur whose work wasn’t often taken seriously because it was “overly-mannered” lady stuff. Regardless, she worked surrounded by a generation of young female artists who were fighting to change the perception of women in the male-dominated art world, not to mention the perception of women in general. Many of these folks were early suffragists and bohemians, and early flappers.
It’s ironic that she was often dismissed as an illustrator because she penned some of the most iconic advertising images of the early 20th century. Not only was she famous for her Dolly Dingle work, her work is the basis for the early Campbell’s Soup campaign. Those apple-cheeked babies with the stubby noses and fat little legs were her hallmark. Drayton’s early work often focused on the lives of children, and she drew extremely stylized children and animals. When adults showed up in her drawings, it’s notable that they were far more elegant, stern, and refined than the chubby babies that dominated her imagination. Note below, the huge, round, stylized baby in comparison with the young, slim, beautiful mother in Victorian fashion.
When adults do appear in her babies’ worlds, they are stoic, straight-backed forces among round, mischievous and happy kids.
Her animals have the same round, tiny faces and round eyes as the babes. They are also just as naughty, guarded and precocious. What does it suggest that in Drayton’s world, children and animals share the same cute but blunt features? Anything?
From what I can gather, Drayton was extremely prolific, drawing for Campbell’s, Dolly Dingle, collaborating with her sisters, and doing many of the one-off prints like the ones I purchased by chance this month. She drew ads and Valentines and postcards and also completed many fine art portraits of elegant women in fine Edwardian dress.
The paintings I picked up are deft little paintings, simple and practiced. They are also way cute and a total coup. This was, as a Twitter pal put it, an Antiques Roadshow moment. For me, as always, getting the back story is nearly as gratifying as making the score.
As part of my regular hustle, I always try to make money selling used clothes. Unlike some folks out there who are buying and upselling strategic designer or high ticket items like jeans and purses, I like to take things I already own and turn them over for a dollar.
I usually don’t shop in consignment stores for clothes — furniture is another deal — but opt for the thrift shops. Thrift shops usually have donated clothing with no cost to the person donating, and because a consignment store pays the donator at the time of the sell, the clothes end up being more expensive. Even though I get a ton of clothes at the thrift shop on the fly for very little money, I often end up with things that don’t fit correctly or that I never end up wearing. Every laundry day is closet cleaning day. You do need access to a car and a few big garbage bags.
1) Throw anything you haven’t worn in six months in the pile. If it doesn’t fit: pile. If you kinda like it but don’t wear it: pile. Don’t lie to yourself.
Children’s clothing is great for money-making. Unless you have somebody specific that you’re absolutely going to pass down the clothes down to, pile.
2) When your pile gets too big to handle or when you’re particularly low on cash, start sorting. I make one pile of clothes that are too ratty to sell and another pile for clothes that reasonably follow trends enough to sell. For adult clothes, no holes, stains, missing buttons, or loose hems. Some stores I sell to are weird about clothing that develop pills (sweaters, some cotton blends) and others are not. With children’s clothes, try to sell everything. Bag everything up in separate bags and label.
3) Pick your stores. Donate everything that is too ratty to resell to a charity. (Goodwill overprices the truly needy out of their market, oddly, and chances are that if you donate everything to a charity all of it will actually be placed out on the racks. Also it’s kind of cool to find your old clothes on the racks next time you go thrifting.)
Children’s used clothes stores are a dime a dozen and I make the rounds — plus they pay well for nice used goods. If it doesn’t get sold to the first store I take it to another, and then another. I also use this time to find newer, nicer clothes for my little one if necessary.
As for adult stores, try to sell the trendiest stuff to a store aimed at teenagers and then branch out from there, since those stores usually offer more money — especially for mall clothes and brand names. Don’t donate something that is a few years out of style or has seen better days, keep trying to sell it at the next place.
I use this technique when I need money to get me through to the next paycheck or if something relatively small but unexpected pops up. If I spend a Saturday afternoon lugging my stuff all over town I can usually make a good deal of closet space and about fifty bucks cash for the effort.
If you do decide to get your stuff into a consignment store make sure you continue to keep up with your wares. A large portion of bread made at consignment stores is off of unclaimed sales.
Believe it or not, one store I sell to is snotty about bringing in clothing in garbage bags, so I always save one laundry basket for the trip to take the clothes into the store.
When wee Baby Cletus turned about a year old, I located a helmet that fit her head and promptly began sourcing iBerts on Craigslist. I liked the idea a lot — baby rides in front between your arms, you can talk and communicate with each other without yelling into the wind. It worked great last year when she was still small, but it didn’t work out all that well this year, now that she’s big, she hit the terrible twos, and has big opinions.
This year my knees bumped up against the iBert seat and I had to pedal with my legs akimbo. My chest kept bumping into the back of the girl’s head, and she took that as an invitation to play the fun game “Head Butt Mom in the Sternum While She Struggles to Pedal Uphill.” Back on Craigslist, I found a gently used Schwinn cart that I can pull behind the bike. It’s the best thing that happened to us this summer.
THE BIKE: I’m not racing, I’m not riding trails, we’re looking to get out of the house and see the world. My bike isn’t that great. My friends with money and willpower are riding around on $2K Konas, but my Craigslisted Wal-Mart Schwinn does all right. My favorite bike, in fact, is a 12+ year old generic Wal-Mart bike I got second-hand from a friend.
If you’re like me and get embarrassed and apologetic about your uncool bike from the big box store, remember: The best bike for you is the one that fits your body and your lifestyle. Does it feel good? Good. Don’t let the bike snobs snob you out of a ride.
We don’t use anything fancy. A bike, good helmets, a headlight and a flashy tail light in case we’re riding at dusk, and a smallish backpack to carry my phone and wallet. I spent maybe $200 for this set-up, a mixture of used and new. Once it’s all set up, it just sits in the garage taking up all my parking space, ready to go.
Note: If you don’t have storage, garage, or shed space handy for gear, be prepared to find space not only for a bike but something roughly the size of a small armchair.
THE CART: The cart is pretty fantastic. The aluminum frame is covered with colorful canvas and has reflective lights attached to the front and back. On the outside, two large flaps lift up in the front and back to give you access to the child seating area and the “trunk.” These attach securely with snaps and velcro. The “trunk” is large enough to carry a couple of bags of groceries or a large tote bag. The seating area can fit 1-2 children and has a five point buckle for each child. Each child has access to a spandex cup holder and a little pocket for snacks and toys. The front flap can be used with open air mesh, or with a second solid plastic flap in case of rain.
Here’s what Baby Cletus discovered very quickly. She can either ride on the front of my bike and cuddle/headbutt mom, or she can ride in the rainbow chariot with a snack, a drink, and an entourage of stuffed animals. Which one do you think won out?
THE BABY: Baby Cletus doesn’t like to sit at home and she is happiest outdoors. Riding bikes is perfect for her needs and temperament. She has a routine she likes to do to get ready for the ride: shoes, snack (cereal, dried fruit), drink, toy(s), bike hat (helmet), all of which provide plenty of entertainment when we’re on a boring stretch of road.
We talk about everything we see on the ride, including birds, dogs, cats, trucks, construction equipment, funny sounds, fountains, trees, flowers, road, rocks, you name it. I usually try to have a destination for our rides, like a small park or a business or landmark. Living near a university campus means there are a lot of restaurants, fountains, statues, and businesses nearby. A ride to the library is always pleasant. Occasionally we pick up another neighbor kid and ride around (which is an extra 60+ lbs for me to haul and quite a workout).
Biking is the magic touch for her. Baby Cletus can be quite a handful and sometimes going out is a crapshoot as to whether or not you’re going to have to apologize to a restaurant/library full of people for her dramatic toddler displays of temper! discontent! and indignation! But these bike rides? She loves them! Which is why we do it almost every day. There are places to see, people to meet, and many fountains to run through. We go places by bike, and we’re happier for it.
I dragged the big kid to see The Great Gatsby a few weeks back. I didn’t say much about it because there was so little to say. Like the rest of the Luhrman catalog, it was big on visuals and light on substance. Like Daisy! Ha.
In all seriousness, this was the movie’s weakness. It stripped the story of the novel’s heavy social commentary about money, social class, the allure of wealth and the dangers of greed, and turned it into a cautionary tale of love lost. This Great Gatsby was all about Leo’s broken heart.
But for some reason my dissatisfaction with the movie has been stuck in my craw. Finally, I realized: It’s frustrating for me that major moments in women’s history always seem to be filtered through the lens of fashion and style, love stories, and decorative trends. The thing about the Daisies of the flapper era is that flappers were a full-blown, grassroots, feminist revolution. It was a trend that defied social class and race and elevated youth culture in a way that wasn’t seen again for forty years in American culture. Fitzgerald seemed to understand this even if he wasn’t able to write an authentic female character, but Luhrman somehow stripped Fitzgerald’s Daisy of any intrigue. In his hands, Daisy was a video vixen, not a wealthy ingenue, and her seduction was not her independence, enthusiasm and sexual freedom, but her weakness and fragility.
See the 1974 adaptation with Robert Redford (yow) and Mia Farrow, which was similarly panned but nevertheless has so much more substance than this one.
In the golden days of pin-ups, some of the best artists were women basing their art off their own bodies and fantasies.
Inequality by Design makes the case that book covers are gendered spaces, and thus subject to all the regular gender prejudice and stigmas of all other gendered spaces in the world. If there was any doubt, it should be cast away by the accompanying pictures on the site, created by the readers of author Maureen Johnson who challenged her audience after being told by a man that he could never read her girly-looking books. See, there are regular movies, and there are chick flicks. There are regular books, and then there is chick lit. There are regular people, and then there are chicks.
There is a word for this: Androcentricsm. It’s the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing men or the masculine point of view at the center of one’s view of the world and its culture and history. In an androcentric worldview, men and maleness and masculine expressions are the default, all else are Other.
Point being: art matters. Cover art matters. Design matters. Every font and image choice are conveying not only what is inside the book, but who the intended audience is meant to be. Books with pink background and curly-cue fonts are perceived as female books, and not meant for men. Book covers that do not convey femininity are considered general audience books.
Some of my favorite gentlewomen, particularly Ann Friedman, have been highlighting the very real gender byline gap for years, and pointing out how the pinkification of women’s writing keeps it from being recognized as real journalism, or real literature, and side-eyed for being “chick lit” and lady stuff. It plays off our perceptions of sexist culture to signal what is for whom and when. Dressing up female narratives in pink, twee packaging can be fun and has its place, but it also signifies that this narrative is “Other” and apart from the cis, male norm, which in our culture is the accepted standard, wherein Others may not apply.
See also: Jennifer Weiner.