Saturday, November 22, 2014

Flusser Apologetics and JMW Turner Unapologetically

I kinda miss ole Daddy. ‘specially now since I’m a full-fledged orphan. Daddy this time being God, aka Alan Flusser. God you say? Yep. He’s a reluctant owner of the moniker but not too reluctant. I mean really, it makes no difference if you are a nice Jewish boy turned Buddhist from the upper middle class enclaves of the Garden State and then four decades Gotham habituĂ© or like me, a country-ass redneck from the Palmetto State. Everyone loves a bit of adulation.  But my life circumstances have had me missing Alan’s Washington visits and my scant Gotham sorties haven’t offered Flusser Fellowship in over a year.
I started it. I’m the one who first called Alan God. I’ve admired him since way before he ever befriended me and started taking a lot of my money. And I’ve said it a zillion times and I’ll say it again to you knuckleheads who say “Alan Flusser? What happened?” Nothing has happened, dumbasses. Alan’s riding the waves of time just like the rest of us. 
And the “What happened?” question seems always posited on those forums in context to thirty year old publicity/jacket cover photos of Alan. Unless you are splashing on embalming fluid every morning, I’d bet that a thirty year progression of your mug shots would show us a journey not dissimilar. So back off of Daddy.
I’ve aged ten years in eighteen months. Shut up.
I too used to hang on to the idea of Alan Flusser, circa 1984 just like I did with Ralph Lauren, circa 1978. These were my Ed Sullivan moments for both Beatles-esque sartorial acts. The moments when they not only forever installed themselves in my sartorial and aesthetic register, but when they were also both on f_cking fire. Shut up. These were Ralph’s horse blanket Shetland plaid sport jackets (made in the USA by Lanham) moments and Alan's horizontal dress shirted, gut end braces, chalk striped drapy trousered, double breasted days.
But things change—all life is transitory and that includes sartorial epochs. Bruce Springsteen said “every now and then you have to break your own narrative” and National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones said that “if we don’t question our patterns, they become our prisons”. Alan and Ralph have never strayed too far from their core strategies but for the sake of their own engagement, relevance, and perhaps amusement, they mix it up a bit.
Artistic licence (If he’s is anything, he’s an artist) and relaxation would be two characteristics of Alan that I’d use to distinguish the current state of his evolution.  Alan is a grandfather and is long past the need care too much about the opinions of the general public or investors or journalists. So what if most of the world thinks he needs a haircut? I hope he grows it down to his ass and then sells locks of it. I'll buy some and a make a bracelet. Shut up.
Courtesy of Gentleman's Gazette
Look at the sockless daddy...with kick ass Gucci Deal Sleds on. Stronger than wolf nooky. Yep.The one-time arbiter of beltless, Thurston braced drapy trousers and made by Old Man Cleverley himself, buckled or laced shoes, now wears slip ons and flat front belted trousers almost exclusively. His two daughters flipped out when they discovered that he actually bought a pair of jeans. 
And the man is obsessed with comfort. Lora Piana drawstring lounge togs? If they exist, I bet Daddy Fluss has them on right now. Me? I’m in a dirty, terrycloth zebra print robe that I stole from the Hotel Monaco. 
Photo from The Trad
When scores of you suggested that I remove of couple of the dingy-ass cotton bracelets from my left wrist, I added three more. I only thinned out my circular fellowship of bracelets for my mamma’s funeral last week and I hope that Alan only grooms differently for such rare situations. I walked my sister down the marital aisle twice. I don’t think I’ll have to attend a re-do of my mamma’s send off so I’m going to reload my wrist. GTH.
And speaking of “GTH devotees”, I just saw the JMW Turner Late Pictures exhibition at the Tate Britain and was blown away. Every picture in this show was Turner aged sixty-five to his death at seventy-six. Nothing earlier. Radical. Mind bending. And imagine how imposing his pictures were to the aesthetic sensibilities of the Art Establishment of the time. Oh and here's a Turner self portrait as a young man. Probably idealized a bit but still, he was a young shaver when he painted it.
“The EY Exhibition: Late Turner – Painting Set Free is the first exhibition devoted to the extraordinary work J.M.W. Turner created between 1835 and his death in 1851. Bringing together spectacular works from the UK and abroad, this exhibition celebrates Turner’s astonishing creative flowering in these later years when he produced many of his finest pictures but was also controversial and unjustly misunderstood”.
Turner even as a young man was always an incredible capturer of water and clouds. Water and air’s movement, energy and emotion are difficult to memorialize in any medium; watercolor, pastel, drypoint, tempera, or oil. And an artist’s attempt to convey it tests greatly their mechanical skill and even more so their talent for finding and then really, really seeing these magical properties.
Whistler had the same talent for seeing and conveying dawn, dusk and midnight. Anyone with basic artistic skill could capture a lush, painterly image of the old Battersea Bridge. But Whistler shrouded it in atmospherics. Twilights and dawn peeks, mists and vapors. He and Turner saw what others didn’t but that’s only one part of the gift. The artist must then transfer it. And this is the moment when talent and skill must congregate. Ralph and Alan. Congregationalists.
The volume of Whistler’s Venice pastels exist mainly because of chilly mornings and early evenings.  When he deemed it too cold to transfer artfully his mind’s eye capture on to an etching plate with a needle, he would bide his time drawing, courtesy of a little box of pastels and light brown cards that he kept in his pocket. 
When his hands warmed up, he’d tuck away his pastel kit and commence etching. I'm just happy that there were days when his hands were cold.
Photo Courtesy of My Damn Self
Folks, to be able to do that is talent and skill combined and Flusser has it out the ass. Still does. His eye remains unrivaled and his skill for conveying it courtesy of colors, textures, and mediums is as Turner-esque as ever. I deemed Flusser “God” long ago after manifold moments of him gently pulling me back from the crag where I’d unwittingly almost fall into the Canyon of Clowndom. Had Alan not steered me to this heathery green cashmere and wool option, surely I'd have ended up with some kind of bright green hootchie cootchie coat.
Photo from Off The Cuff DC
And I'd ape the hell out of Alan. There was a time when I’d simply see what Alan was wearing at the opening of a season or a trunk show and just say, “I’ll have that.” And that was always a good decision. Why try to knock off Turner and Whistler when you can simply have the Master create one for you?
Turner was sixty-five when he threw into overdrive his slaying  of the staid opinions and calcified mores of London’s Art Establishment. And he didn’t let up until he died eleven years later.  They literally thought Turner was demented. Maybe he was and thanks be to the neurosynaptic gods for it. Look at this picture. You almost need to dress for it. Barbour at minimum. Maybe a crash helmet too. 
Turner looked like this when he opened his final can of whoop ass, punching the Establishment right in the nose. Not quite the dashing fella of previous decades but still loaded with juice.
And how could I have rambled on about all this without including my friend and soothsayer of balance and restrained playfulness, the mighty eruditey, G. The Bruce. Boyer.  Bruce’s  afterburners didn’t even feel the need to kick in till he was into his fifth decade of extolling on things sartorial.  I know of no one who has more thoroughly enjoyed…reveled practically, in the digital age of sartorial expression. Like I’ve said before, nobody shit-talks Bruce Boyer.
Flussdaddy remains the go-to man, the unimpeachable control tower for the sartorial takeoffs and landings of stick and rudder Cessna guys like me who think they are the lead solo jet on the sartorial Thunderbirds.

Now get your b_tch ass in the kitchen and make me some pie.

Onward. Going home this week to mamma’s for Thanksgiving.

ADG2. Thankful. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I’m Home

After a flight from Florence to Charlotte and then DCA. And it’s been an incredible past seven days. Home’s now redefined for me and I’ll have to see how this new definition takes form as time now moves on without my mom.

I’ll write something else later but for now I’m revelling in the ear shattering monastic silence that my aloneness this morning at home in Bethesda offers me. It’s good. It’s allowing me to reflect on how lush and rich and raw all of the humanity was last week. I suck at describing things with one or two words but if I had to, I would use “joyous relief” to describe the passing of my mother and the week of her funeral and outpouring of love from all who came to be with us.
I cannot begin to express my amazement that Toad drove nine hundred miles one-way to be with me and my mom and family.
There remains hope for this ugly world when Tom Tevlin, my tumblr friend and father of two lovely daughters, gets off work and drives thirteen hours the day before my mom’s service, bagpipes and kit in tow, and pipes her in and out of the sanctuary and then at the gravesite from a distance, sees her home, piping Amazing Grace. He then drives home to New Jersey after trying to eat a piece of fried chicken at my mom’s house with a knife and fork. My family is still bowled over by his gesture. (Not the knife and fork fried chicken rookie greenhorn thing, dumb-ass) They absolutely loved his presence.

Both of those mugwumps will get exclusive blog stories of praise and appreciation sometime soon. 
And my redneck country-ass brother from Greenville, N.C. was there too—in brown suede shoes. Kinda kills the assumption that these so called friendships, courtesy of the blogosphere are really at best, ersatz alliances—amorphic and when called to form. Non-existent when needed. Shut up.

Your personal emails to me have been incredible too. Here’s an excerpt from one that I got about ten days ago when my mom was still deciding to leave.

“I hope your S.C. riding is not too bumpy. And if it is, you are riding the bumps with grace and love. I am confident you are. I have not been where you are, so I can only imagine the reflection, the joy, the sorrow, the transitory nature of watching someone you love deeply slide to death. To stopping. To stop. We are such 'go' creatures. Stopping is often so elusive; we enjoy slowing down so that we can take in all the senses. Falling in love is slowing down. Falling out of love is the senses gone amuck. We don't taste, feel, smell, hear any more--at least not the way we once did. Maybe death brings us back to love since it rocks our senses. And that, I believe, is a good thing: to be rocked by love. Rocked in both meanings of the word: comforted gently and also to experience life with vigor and vitality, dancing and not caring if anyone is watching. I hope that you are rocked by your mom”.

And I replied to it again today with this…
“The first paragraph, as lovely as it was the first time I read it, is now lovelier. It struck me so the first time, as my still alive mother was amidst contemplating her departure, because it captured for me another way to look at death and loss and letting go. And I loved how love and cadence were key themes. And now after burying my mother, I’ve again read it simultaneously through the somewhat weary eyes of grown man Dustin and the always present eyes of the six year old me—the ukulele playing Dusty. And its lushness is even greater”.
I’ll now smugly begin plowing through the piles of unattended life things that have either been ignored or on hold for so many weeks. Fake swagger will be my guise to prop me up till I regain my sea legs. 

I appreciate all of you and my mom does too.

Onward. Home.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

I've Been Priviledged

To have had such an incredible mom. And it's always intrigued me to read her Salutatorian welcome speech from her high school graduation ceremony. She was sixteen when she crafted such a well written expression--only two years older than my LFG. My mom passed away about an hour ago.
And I feel fortunate that LFG, the last of her grandchildren, got here soon enough to firsthand see and feel my mom's love.
My mother was a gift of inestimable value. And I'm awash in the joy of relief--knowing that she is relieved--relieved of her suffering. And I'm reveling in the  blessing of having no regrets--no unrequited issues or situations that would be forever gnawing at and asking for resolution now impossible. My mother and I were rock solid in our uncomplicated and unencumbered love for each other during these last months of her journey.

My only regret is that the sixteen year old woman who wrote that lovely little welcome letter never read Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.

Onward. Now untethered.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

She is Safety--She is Home

She is Home.  The source of our very essence.
We are born from either collaborative concept or randy capriciousness.
In three trimesters.
Conditions of our residence be damned. She’s our mother ship and safety is assured.
Yet we are groomed for departure and encouraged to leave.  Healthy leaving sees our mother ship go from umbilical confine to swaddling base camp. You can always go home again.
But is base camp really home?
Forever allegiant and drawn back towards it. Circumstances dictate how often we return and how long we stay.
The brevity or duration of our visits lessens not the value of our base camp returns. Nor the need to again return when we are too long away.  She is succour.
Our earliest attempts ex base camp see us scrambling about on the lower slopes. Where the risk is low and she’s never out of eyesight and earshot.
Ungainly but confident in our knowing. Not that our scrambling will improve but that she awaits us. Home. Our base camp. And for now to her we frequently return.
Ambition. Compelling Options. Wanderlust and Seduction. Skill and Achievement.
All bolster our willingness and ability to venture above the lower slopes. The higher we go the thinner the air and we allow ourselves to believe that this air is somehow rarefied.  Exclusive when it’s merely attenuated and less nourishing.
Our worst self fails to see the scores of others all around us, eyeing the summit and poaching our rarefied air. The audacity to think it theirs.
The deceitful cocksurety of exclusive air carries us to even higher summits and makes home superfluous. Base camp unessential. You can never go home. Nor do you need to.
Yet we return. And she loves us and questions neither our impertinence nor the length of our absence. You can always go home. Our ego gives way to the reception of restorative love. Shelter without judgement. Lush oxygen. Base camp.
Home’s permanence foreshadows base camp’s temporal utility. And we are forgiven for toggling her back and forth between the two. She was always there regardless of the construct.

But what are we to do?  To what do we return when both are gone?