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When I was in college, working as a sales associate at the BR in Georgetown, I had to look at the most banal attempts at "visual design." One year, the look of Spring One (there are two of every season in the Banana Republic) was something my manager laughingly called "beach prairie/cowboy." And that was an apt description: full cotton skirts, washed leather jackets, boots, flowery patterns, etc. And the viz that went along with it included sea shells, netting, and glass bowls filled with -- wait for it -- lengths of rope. Think you can guess where I'm going with this? One day, after being subjected to this stuff for weeks, my coworker and I were experiencing what I call "BR Fatigue." (Symptoms include a penchant for mischief tempered by giddiness born out of sheer boredom.) The problem is, when you're bored at BR, the only thing to do is size the Z-racks or refold the khaki wall, and neither of these options are sexy or fun. So anyway, N and I were playing with the sweater table, and on it was one of those oh-so-random bowls filled with rope. Me: this is so effin' random! N: I know! Let's make something! Me: Ooh... let's make a noose! Why a noose, you ask? Because this was 2005. (Though I can freely admit that I look back on this incident with no small amount of chagrin.) Had this been 2007, the year of the noose, I would never have even joked about that. But to my mind then (and even a bit still) when I thought of a noose/hangman's rope, I thought of Bonanza. You know, that awesome show about Ben Cartwright and his boys Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. A noose represented the Wild West and shootouts and saloons; all of which dovetailed quite comically into the beach prairie cowboy theme. I'm African American, but I'm also a Southern Californian, and the deep south concepts of lynching and the like were more like pages in a textbook than anything relating to reality. So N and I made a very crude noose (I must have missed hangman's knot day in Girl Scouts) and draped it over the bowl. And oh, how we laughed. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but I truly doubt it was malicious. But it's 2008 now, and the year of the noose has already bled over into it. (By the way, you know its a Real Issue when CNN does a whole special on the noose. That, and when TMZ staffers "jokingly" suggest they put one in Britney's car to start trouble.). They're everywhere. Including the cover of Golfweek. But let's be real for a minute. Al Sharpton is probably off getting his relaxer retouched, so we can talk without fear of recrimination. Is it just me, or has the noose lost it's shock value? I feel like it's gone from threatening to plain old tasteless in less than six months. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's quite cowardly (although, the fact that many perpetrators of lynchings and cross burnings wore white sheets over their heads makes this rather unsurprising.) I mean, ok, you put up a noose somewhere, and...what? C'mon dude, are you really going to lynch someone? Suuuuuure. Get outta here with that. Stop being extra, go home, and rethink that one, potential noose-hangers. It's been done by everyone, including yours truly. ____

Listening to: Prince, "Cream."

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