60s

Janis Joplin

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When I listened to Janis on a daily basis, back in the mid 90s, I didn’t realize it was my duty to do so. I was young, and had nothing to lose. When I listen to her now, twenty years later, I don’t feel young and free and powerful. I just feel sad and a bit lonely. I suppose that is what happens when one person in a relationship matures and the other is suspended in time.

I almost stitched the image of her lounging on a couch with her hand draped over a bottle of Southern Comfort. In the end, I decided to give her a bit more respect, and a few flowers.

Thurston and Lovey

DSC01043Watching Gilligan’s Island always annoyed me because Gilligan was such a bumbling idiot. He ruined everything, all the time, and Skipper was a complete fascist. The one redeeming quality in the show, for me, was Thurston and Lovey.

Lovey with her pearls and giant wicker hats, and Thurston with his silk cravats and golf references, were far funnier than Gillian’s stumbling slapstick nonsense. In fact, seeing the Howells in embroidered bliss makes me want to crack open the bubbly and forget that I have a care in the world. I might even want to crawl into a hammock, but I don’t trust those contraptions in the least.

Bonus link: The Official Gilligan’s Island Fan Club! If you can stand all of the Comic Sans,  you can click on a coconut icon to hear the theme song. You can purchase a replica Gilligan shirt. You can email Gilligan’s Island experts. It is some crazy ass shit, I’m telling you.

The Rat Pack

The Rat PackThere was a guy who used to live in Pt. Pleasant Beach. His house on the boardwalk was known as the Sinatra House, because he blasted (“blasting” is relative, but you could hear it from a pretty wide radius) Sinatra throughout most of the day and night. I used to think this was bogus. After all, if he had opted to blast the Misfits or worse, Naughty by Nature—both New Jersey natives, just like Frank—the police quickly would have been at his door. I moved away from Point Pleasant 8 years ago, and the owner of the Sinatra House has since joined Frank in the great beyond. However, I think I am more sympathetic to what Sinatra means to a lot of people of a certain generation and geography. There was a toughness and endurance about Sinatra and all his cronies—particularly Deano and Sammy—in the Rat Pack. They weren’t PC, they didn’t care about stepping on toes. They did their thing and didn’t care what anybody said about it. Maybe that is going a bit far, but that is their lore. And their lore, their myth, is what matters more than any reality.

When one thinks of the Rat Pack, their place in history seems to make sense immortalized on cocktail napkins—meant for drinks, a bit dainty, but they wouldn’t care if you called them dainty or not. Sort of above the opinions of the common horde. I still think it’s horseshit that a New Jersey punk or hip hop outfit would not be allowed to own the boardwalk on summer nights, but I guess that’s the way it goes.

Doctor Who

TardisHave I mentioned that I love custom orders? This was my second request from my pal over at Dinner is Served 1972.

Now, I have to shamefully admit that I have only watched one episode of “Dr Who” in my life. I can’t remember what happened. I wanted to love it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything about it – loving it, or hating it. Maybe that means I need to try it again.

In any case, this TARDIS stitch is going to be sewn into a pillow (that’s Time and Relative Dimension in Space – thank you, Wikipedia). I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Elvis Presley

Elvis PresleyEveryone loves young, pretty, hip-thrusting Elvis. I prefer old, fat, jumpsuit-wearing Elvis. At first I thought that with age, his voice matured, changed, and even became more emotional. Upon further thought and discussion, it seems that his material also improved over time, and suited him better. I only know that if “In the Ghetto” doesn’t make you fall to your knees weeping, you are a heartless robot who deserves the worst demise.

Speaking of the worst demise, I dream of remodeling my bathroom in an Elvis theme. It would be nice to include all musicians who have died in a bathroom, but I don’t really like Jim Morrison or Whitney Houston.

Liza Minnelli

Liza

This was my first use of paint with my stitching, because I couldn’t stand the idea of stitching in all of her hair. Next time, I’ll thin the paint a bit with water, but it was much easier for filling in a large space.

And could Liza be more dramatic and fabulous? Honestly, I found her quite ridiculous until her role in Arrested Development, which still floors me. She can laugh at herself, which makes her dramatic, fabulous, and hilarious. She’s not so tragic, so pathetic, now that I’ve seen her as “Lucille 2”, playing poker with the boys and staggering with vertigo.

Still, that’s not to take anything away from her beauty. Those shots that Andy Warhol took of her are truly breathtaking. Her look  will always be iconic, and yes, I suppose she’ll always seem a bit ridiculous. But should she be shunned from a selfie taken by the cool kids at the Oscars? Ellen DeGeneres be damned. RESPECT, Liza. Respect.

Up next: Crazy, sad, tired Liza.

Star Trek

Picture 046I am not a Trekkie. Because of this, I cannot nerd out on you and preach the complexity and wisdom of the show.

However, I have been to a Star Trek convention. You heard me correctly, my friends, and it was an experience I will never forget.

With it being so unforgettable, I should remember the year, but I don’t. I can only pinpoint it to my time in New Jersey, which was 2002 – 2006. I can further deduce, based on my haircut and the clothes I wore (yes, I can remember these things, but not the date), it was likely 2004. The weather was hot, and I was stubbornly dressed for autumn, which makes me think it was probably September.

None of that really matters. What matters is that I went to a Star Trek convention in Cherry Hill, NJ with the sole purpose of seeing William Shatner. Up to this point, I thought Shatner was intriguing because everyone seems to ridicule him, yet he seems to also be in on the joke somehow. He appears to be just aware enough to laugh with everyone and not look like a complete tool. Also, I discovered his recording “Has Been”, featuring a song with Henry Rollins, that further proved to me there was something to Shatner besides a huge ego and a bad toupee.

As it happens, there is something more to Shatner – it’s an extra ego because one is not enough for him, as well as a steaming side dish of assholery.

The convention was held in the lobby, hallways, and various ballrooms of some mediocre hotel off of the turnpike. It was weird, to say the least. There were tables and booths full of Star Trek shit, people milling about in costume, men gingerly caressing action figures and plush toys – basically the peculiarity you’d expect at such an event. While waiting for Shatner’s appearance, it was entertaining enough to watch people, which is a favorite pastime annually at the Iowa State Fair. This wasn’t all that different from the fair, actually. Instead of obese Midwesterners eating fried food on a stick and farmers commenting on the testicle size of the blue ribbon boar, there were copious yet differing geeks wearing plastic Spock ears and there was an exciting buzz over Shatner being in the building.

Cue Shatner. In he comes, taking his place behind the podium. He’s funny, he’s charming, and he quickly launches into a story about Riverside, Iowa – the birthplace of his character Captain Kirk. This might not seem unusual for those who are familiar with Kirk’s character. However, I was/am not a Trekkie. I was a somewhat newly transplanted Iowan living in New Jersey. I did not expect to hear Shatner mention my homeland, let alone dedicate his time slot entirely to the small town of Riverside.

It didn’t take long for my surprise to morph into apprehension, then into downright rage. Shatner went into splendid detail of how he punked the entire town and filmed it for national viewing pleasure. In true East Coast fashion, he stood before me, mocking my heritage, my people, my fucking birthright.

I was not amused.

In retrospect, I realize I was being hypersensitive. One thing I quickly learned upon leaving Iowa is that many people really do believe and adhere to stereotypes. Conversely, upon returning to the Midwest a few years ago, I realized my rose-colored view of my aforementioned birthright was 75% bullshit and 25% sentimentality.

In the end, Shatner was an incredible asshole and I was a naive fool. I guess we both fulfilled our own prescribed stereotypes, as expected.