Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, December 05, 2021

If the open-collared look on a shirt or blouse makes you feel a tad too guido or floozy, consider the visual language conveyed by the opposite option:

A fully buttoned shirt is the universal costume symbol for “special.” The buttoned-up look is often shorthand for retarded. (I mean this in the clinical sense.) Think Forrest Gump, Billy Bob Thornton’s Karl Childers in Sling Blade, or Sean Penn in I Am Sam. Slow but sincere, they wish to be perceived as serious, fully integrated citizens — and that top button is the key to what the Project Runway set might call their “image management.”

Nerds, eccentrics, and obsessive-compulsives also mark themselves with this over-buttoning aesthetic.

What’s the common thread? Certainly a general uptightness among these types is at play, but it must be something more than that. Maybe it’s a primal fear of exposing the neck. Or an obsession with completeness for completeness’ sake: Every single button on the garment has to be utilized. The personality profiles sync with those ideas. And others recognize such subtle signals.

This also speaks to how commonplace the top-button-off look has become. Once it suggested a casualness that was against the norm; now, it’s the expected sartorial default. The only exception is the required buttoning for wearing a tie, which lends an overall formality anyway.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/05/2021 04:49pm
Category: Fashion, Pop Culture, Society
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Saturday, November 07, 2021

It’s Web 2.0 gimmicky as all get-out, but who am I to argue with $85K for wearing a year’s worth of corporate swag?

Jason Sadler, 26, a former marketing professional from Florida, founded his own company, www.iwearyourshirt.com, in 2008 with the idea to wear a T-shirt supplied by any company and then use social media tools to promote the firm.

For his human billboard service, Sadler charges the “face value” of the day so January 1 costs $1, while December 31 costs $365.

Sadler said this may not sound like a lot but it adds up to $66,795 a year if he sells out every day, which he did this year. He also sells monthly sponsorships for $1,500, adding another $18,000 to his income.

The numbers certainly add up. And I commend Sadler for creatively linking the dollar amount with the day-of-year tally. I don’t know how much that’ll be undercut by his 2010 plan: Doubling the sponsorship fee for each day by adding a synchronized second t-shirt wearer in Los Angeles (Sadler’s in Jacksonville). Since the main exposure comes from posting photos online, versus the eyeballs that see the t-shirt on the street, I don’t see much advantage to having more than one person wear a shirt.

It’s working so far, though. And whenever the gimmick crashes and burns, at least these two guys will have a year’s supply of t-shirts to keep their wardrobes full.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/07/2021 06:01pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, Social Media Online
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Monday, November 02, 2021

Over the weekend, I got my hair cut. Nothing remarkable about that, except that it was the first time in more than two months. Yes, I was well overdue, and I do not carry the shaggy look particularly well.

So I was glad to shed the overgrown follicles. As a bonus, I had a quippy response for the inevitable question I knew I’d be asked:

Them: Did you get a haircut?
Me: Yep. Got ‘em all cut.

A goofy joke, but a good one. I remember when I first encountered it: Hand-lettered in word balloons, in a neat-looking black-and-white cartoon poster that I bought toward the end of high school. It was a quirky piece of mass-produced pop art, and for some reason, it resonated with me enough that I bought it, and can remember it pretty clearly so many years later.

I did some search-engining just now in the hopes that an image of that long-ago poster would magically pop up. Alas, I’m afraid the Internet didn’t yield that artifact from my past. The closest I came was the drawing embedded here, which I’m sure is by the same artist who did the poster — the linework is distinctive enough, and perhaps not coincidentally, the original image file was called “haircut”. It’ll have to do.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/02/2021 11:40pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion
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Saturday, October 24, 2021

block-by-blockNothing says “girly geek” quite like this homemade dress, no doubt inspired by countless hours of Tetris-playing. Frenetic block-dropping never looked so fashionable!

(Via dustbury, who I’m betting saw the same tweet that I did on this)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/24/2009 07:20pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, Videogames, Women
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Sunday, October 18, 2021

Amid the recent outrage expressed over the Photoshop flap involving Ralph Lauren’s “too fat” 120-pound model Filippa Hamilton, everyone’s conveniently overlooking the social love-hate dynamic at play:

The fatter the general population, the thinner the idealized woman. And for all the public posturing and blogging, the only force that stopped people from buying clothes and magazines was the souring economy, not righteous indignation over skinny models.

By its very nature, fashion is a business of falsehoods and costumes, all in service to self-definition. The uncomfortable truth about the fashion industry is it has a knack for tapping into unspoken cultural obsessions and taboos. Fashion sets up a rarefied world of perfection that is, in many ways, defined by how much it differs from the mundane, from the norm. And all indicators suggest that as a culture, we hate what we are becoming: fat…

With that in mind, maybe all of the protesting about deluded designers has been wrongheaded. Maybe all of the demands that editors and photographers just use heavier models have been misguided. Because before fashion models will get any bigger, people in general will just have to get smaller.

It’s pretty simple: There’s nothing noteworthy about seeing regular-looking bodies and faces in media, because we see those same unremarkable images in everyday life. If you want to sell something, you do it by showcasing the rare and the desirable. To the extent that “real beauty” campaigns, like Dove’s, stand out, it’s only because they contrast so much with the clutter that is the glammed-up norm.

The exclusivity of beauty is also rooted in socioeconomic class distinctions, with everything from ideal skin tone to ideal body weight defined along haves/have-nots lines (with preferences often reversing, e.g. Botticelli plumpness being affluently desirable in societies where the masses are skinny due to subsistence-level living). As I wrote in this space years ago:

[G]eneral perceptions don’t work that way. The basic law of supply and demand works for societal trends, too: Those who fit the ideal of perfection (or at least desirability) are always going to be in the minority, and “the rest” are going to be a dime a dozen. Scarcity creates value; that’s natural. If every boy and girl were drop-dead gorgeous, then ergo, nobody would be beautiful.

Basically, we all want, and want to be, that which we can’t achieve unto ourselves. It’s twisted, but then, so is fashion.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/18/2009 03:55pm
Category: Fashion, Media, Society, Women
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Saturday, October 17, 2021

Having already witnessed the prop-like use of babies as fashion accoutrement, I can’t say I’m too surprised by this next step: Fetish Tots, or “kinky couture for little people”.

If nothing else, this puts a whole new spin on the spanking debate. Does baby’s first word turn out to be his/her safe word?

Yeah, creepy-disgusting, I know. And for more reasons than just the obvious:

I told some friends about Fetish Tots, and they seem to think it’s some sort of artistic statement, not a real business. Even if this particular group is just making a statement, some slimeballs will take the idea and actually sell it to people. Parents of small children are the most gullible of all consumers. There are so many yuppies in this town carrying designer babies as accessories just so they have an excuse to consume more overpriced stuff. Just a few short years ago, all my Burning Man friends were wearing fetish gear and having lots of kinky sex, and guess what? They all have kids now, and they’re dying to dress up the little Baby Burners just like Mommy and Daddy!

Crass consumerism crossed with conformity and kinky-cute couture. Good think most fetishists don’t procreate anyway.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/17/2009 06:37pm
Category: Creative, Fashion
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Wednesday, September 30, 2021

I wonder how the bottoms of my dress shoes manage to get smoother with wear-and-tear? It would make more sense to me that they get coarser.

I guess that’s why, when I’m on the sidewalk, I try to walk around with slight scuffing motions, in an effort to gain more traction. This, despite knowing that it produces exactly the opposite effect. I attribute this irrational behavior to my being a hockey fan, and thus attempting to emulate the traditional goaltender prepping of the crease (known as the “goalie dance” or “building a nest”). Even this is the wrong approach on my part, since the goalie is using his skate blades to rough up the surface beneath him, and my intent is the opposite. Although the end result — a friction-based mooring — is our shared goal.

None of this would have anything to do with tomorrow’s opening night of the 2009-10 National Hockey League season. If anything, it just means I need a new pair of shoes. And maybe some pads.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/30/2009 11:43pm
Category: Fashion, Hockey
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Saturday, September 19, 2021

It’s actually called The Commuter Tie From Thomas Pink:

The clever new design features a small yet subtle pocket on the reverse of the tie. The [iPod Nano-sized media player] is placed in the pocket to avoid having expensive devices on display or damaging the line of one’s suit. An extra fabric loop keeps headphone wires out of sight and close to the body, leaving hands free to pick up a daily coffee or answer that all-important call.

But I’m giving this hundred-dollar neckwear its proper, functional name in my above post title. Because I’ve long wished for a handy iPod-cket that doesn’t dictate my dress-shirt choices. Unfortunately, it sounds like the tie and pocket are too narrow to accommodate a full-sized iPod or iPhone, so that leaves me out. (Could a demand for hanging larger handheld devices off the neck usher in a return to the ultra-wide ’70s-style neckties? I’m simultaneously humored and horrified at the prospect.)

Anyway, I’ve already got far too many ties in my closet. I have started wearing them on a regular basis again after a long hiatus, but that probably won’t last. Although again, if said fashion accessory provides a good way for me to stash my iTouch, then I’ll gladly wear the old neck-noose daily.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/19/2009 02:18pm
Category: Fashion, iPod
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Thursday, September 17, 2021

I can’t decide just where I’d more want to integrate LEGO technology into my life: In my wardrobe as a geek-tastic customizable plastic-breastplate t-shirt, or in my television viewing with a build-your-own-button-combination remote control.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/17/2009 11:15pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, Pop Culture
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Monday, August 24, 2021

tops out
Well, a million is an exaggeration, even if you count by them two-by-two. But even one exposed boob was probably one too many for some onlookers yesterday, when advocates for National Go-Topless Day marched the streets near Central Park, with bared breasts on display.

And in the Empire State, it’s all nice and legal:

New York is the only state in the country where women can be topless legally, after a 1992 ruling in the state’s highest court. That means any woman can walk around the city at any time with no shirt on.

Among the speakers was Ramona Santorelli, of upstate Rochester, who was the plaintiff in the 1992 case.

“It’s not about baring your breasts,” she said. “But the true meaning is to normalize women’s bodies.”

I could get used to this kind of normalization. Although considering that this Go Topless stunt was organized by the cuckoo-go-nuts Raelian Movement, I think any claims to “normal” are forfeited.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/24/2009 01:16pm
Category: Fashion, New Yorkin', Society, Women
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Thursday, August 20, 2021

You know you’re an online addict if you’ve got these social-media logo pillows festooning your couch (make that futon — because, c’mon, who are we kidding here?). Plush handiwork by Craftsquatch.

They’re probably too delicate for pillow-fighting, which is a shame — I can’t think of a fairer offline way to settle which community site is mas macho. My weapon of choice would be that Reddit one.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/20/2009 06:17pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, Social Media Online
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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

The above hand-crafted neighborhood flier is making the online rounds as a source of amusement. And why not, with such matter-of-fact outrage:


(Drawn from memory. May not be to scale.)
[hand-drawing of bicycle] } 20 inches

My bike was stolen from my front lawn last week. It is a one-speed bike with a skull flag and a lightning bolt on it. The lightning bolt and flag may have been removed. This bike was brand new from the store.


I don’t even want this bike back. I just made these flyers to tell you that I hate you, bike thief. I hope you ride my bike without a helmet and get hit by a monster truck. I hope my bike takes you straight to hell.

As it happens, it seems that the origin of this declaration of two-wheeled hate is a Threadless t-shirt design. And it turns out that the original rage was thoroughly misplaced:

my design MISSING started out as an actual flyer that I put up around my dorm when my bike was “stolen” earlier this year… Later, I found out it had been towed because I chained it to a fence with a “no bikes” sign on it. Whoops!

So much for consigning some bicycling bogeyman to the flames. If anyone’s pedaling straight to Hell, it’s Mr. Missing designer.

This all reminds me of the old “The Kids in the Hall” “Open Letters” bit by Bruce McCulloch. Bruce had only his bike’s front wheel stolen, but that didn’t stop him from calling out his thief as “you human loser”. Given the choice between “I hope my bike takes you straight to hell” and “You human loser!”, I prefer the shorter and sweeter put-down.

(Video of that “Open Letter to the Guy Who Stole Bruce’s Bike Wheel” moment here; I won’t embed it because it seems like whenever I do that with a “Kids in the Hall” clip, it gets yanked from YouTube within a week.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/19/2009 03:09pm
Category: Comedy, Fashion, Internet, TV
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Thursday, August 06, 2021

It’s summer, so it’s time to let your footsies breathe a little. All while holding your breath over yet another outcropping of body-image anxiety:

Summer footwear only increases the opportunities to feel foot shame. Some of the stuffiest workplaces now accept open-toe shoes, and flip-flops are a de facto uniform of the college-aged. Kaleidoscopic pedicures direct the eye downward, as do sandals with such flimsy straps that Manhattanites might as well go barefoot.

Yet a paradox is at play. We paint our toes more than ever, but most of us don’t take the time to care for the rest of our feet. “We pay more attention to our toes than our heels,” said Dr. Marlene Reid, a podiatrist in Naperville, Ill.

This is mainly a female concern. Men do go semi-barefoot, via sandals and flip-flops, more often these days as well, so the more stylin’ metrosexuals need to fuss with male pedicures. But the pressure is with the ladies, because more of their all-situational fashion choices demand foot-baring.

And therein lies the problem, as I lamented long ago:

There are really not that many pretty feet out there. In fact, there are far too many downright ugly ones on display, thanks to this open-toed madness. No matter how many $75 pedicures or toerings administered, ugly feet remain ugly feet. The biggest shame of it is, most women are kidding themselves to the contrary (although I suspect that, deep down, they know they’re not pulling it off).

So if anything, I’m rooting for this feet-first fashion trending to result in a backlash, i.e. people rejecting all the extra maintenance and retreating to cover-up shoes. Out of mind, and (more importantly, for societal-aesthetic purposes) out of sight.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 03:52pm
Category: Fashion, Society, Women
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Wednesday, August 05, 2021

A photo gallery of notably tan-less Hollywood stars conjured up just one thing for me: Vampire chic, catching on.

Oh sure, a trend toward the pale-skin look (which only Caucasians can pull off, barring skin-bleaching) could be attributed to other factors: Skin cancer awareness, an unconscious group-reaction to having a black man in the White House, or even a periodic turn in the cyclical socio-cultural perception of attractiveness. But with all the nosferatu-mania rippling across pop culture, I’m blaming the bloodsuckers.

Perhaps the likes of Kelly Osbourne and Jim Gaffigan are just angling to be cast in the next Twilight spin-off and/or rip-off? Either that, or the palefaces making it obvious that their show-biz success is attributable to dark forces. For instance, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that sheet-white Conan O’Brien has poofy hair that’s reminiscent of that found on Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula”

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/05/2021 12:23pm
Category: Celebrity, Fashion, Pop Culture
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Thursday, July 30, 2021

done garees
Combine sado-masochistic bondage headgear with the soft, comfortable fit of blue jeans, and you’ve got… Well, you’ve got a Wranglers ad that just screams “only in Japan”.

A muffled scream, by the looks of those masks. Good thing denim is a breathable fabric, or else the lack of air-holes for the nostrils might be a problem. Or not, depending on the kinky context. I also like how the mouth area is occupied by a back pocket with the Wrangler patch dead center, conveying the impression of an oral cavity. Not that I’d be brave enough to stick my hand into that pocket…

Just one more fashion-design observation, before my mind gets completely blown: Do you think there’s a zipper in the back of those things — standard sex-wear flourish — or, in keeping with the relaxed-fit motif, a button-fly?

Before you get too weirdly excited, the buzzkill: These gimp-inspired cowls are not for sale. I’m sure these print ad props are proudly displayed as conversation pieces in some studio apartment in Tokyo right now, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/30/2009 01:55pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, Pop Culture
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Friday, July 24, 2021

tweeting is sexy
It took a few days of botched FedEx delivery attempts, but today I finally received the HP Mini 110 Netbook that I won last week at Masquertweet.

A nice, shiny new tech toy to tinker with over the weekend. I still don’t see how I’d use this even semi-regularly — my notebook computer is portable enough most of the time, and my iPod Touch suffices for when I really need to travel light, i.e. something pocket-sized. So the netbook is a classic ‘tweener. But again, a freebie is a freebie, so I’ll find some use for it!

Thanks again to the Masquertweet crew for the fun time. And related to that, here’s a video artifact from the party, courtesy of Nicole and her Socolite “Philanthropy Is Sexy” series:

Yup, I’m in there somewhere, both behind and in front of the camera (I shot only the good parts, of course). Overall, not a bad result from far too many minutes of Twittering…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/24/2009 11:48am
Category: Fashion, New Yorkin', Social Media Online, Tech
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Friday, July 17, 2021

in disguise
Joining Twitter may not have boosted this blog’s traffic as much as I’d hoped, but it has paid off in other tangible, offline ways. To wit:

Last night was the first-ever Masquertweet party/meetup in New York, at 49 Grove. The theme, obviously, was to show up “in costume”, with a mere eyemask sufficing as the bare minimum in dress-up. I took this minimalism to heart by getting a lorgnette handle-held black mask (which got me some looks on the walk down Bleecker Street as I let it hang from my shirt collar like a pair of sunglasses). Perfect as an unobtrusive accessory, plus it put me in mind of Eyes Wide Shut

Proceeds from the cover charge were for charity (12for12k and Eye Care For Kids, specifically), so it was all good. I met some great people, most of them in the PR field or some offshoot. It’s always a little jarring to meet online acquaintances face-to-face, although I’d say most of the tweeters there were people I hadn’t been following up until then. I am glad I got to meet-and-greet with @prcog (who organized this event), @aerocles, @kibbe, @jdodd, and others. I was especially glad to meet @nikisnotes, who somehow charmed me into Flip-filming her host segments for an on-the-spot “Philanthropy Is Sexy” video…

While meeting people in real life is tangible enough, the real payoff came at the end of the night, when the raffle giveaway was drawn. I somehow wound up winning the grand prize of an HP Mini 110 Netbook! I was floored, because I never win these things. So I’m pretty stoked to have netted some free hardware, just for getting out of the house for once and networking/cocktailing. (I don’t have any real need for yet another techie device, but I’ll never turn down a freebie.) Thanks go to PR firm BurrellesLuce for donating the prize, along with some quality conversation.

And, ultimately, I wouldn’t have had this night of masquerade fun and gain if not for everybody’s favorite bird-themed social network. So I have to admit that Twitter is, indeed, good for something other than time-killing. Which I’ll be doing a bit more of, now that I’ve got another wireless toy on the way…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/17/2009 12:08pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Fashion, New Yorkin', Social Media Online
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Thursday, July 02, 2021

Not so long ago, I lodged the following complaint against the post-modern vampire, as personified in Twilight and the like:

Meaning enough already — what used to be fresh and inventive is now the tired norm. The romanticization of the dreamy nosferatu should signal the end of the line for this fantasy-fiction aesthetic. I don’t know that future vampire tales need to revert back to the Bram Stoker trappings, but a fresh reinvention is in order.

Naturally, my plea was roundly ignored, as the realms of fashion and pop culture continue to chug along on the fanged-undead kick:

“The vampire is the new James Dean,” said Julie Plec, the writer and executive producer of “The Vampire Diaries,” a forthcoming series on the CW network based on the popular L. J. Smith novels about high school femmes and hommes fatales. “There is something so still and sexy about these young erotic predators,” she said.

This generation of undead prowls high school hallways and dimly lighted dance clubs as menacing — and as seductive — as they have ever been. The June premiere of the second season of “True Blood,” in which Sookie, played by Anna Paquin, is reunited with her imperious fanged suitor, drew 3.4 million viewers, making it HBO’s most-watched program since the “Sopranos” finale in 2007.

Charlaine Harris has just published “Dead and Gone,” the ninth novel in her Sookie Stackhouse series, variations on Southern Gothic fiction on which “True Blood” is based. The publishing world has been intrigued by “The Strain,” a first installment in a planned trilogy written by the film director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, about bloodthirsty predators run amok in Manhattan.

The style world, too, has come under the vampire’s spell, in the shape of the gorgeous leather- and lace-clad night crawlers who have crept into the pages of fashion glossies.

As silly as the vampirific trend is in books, movies, and TV, it’s doubly ludicrous when applied to fashion — and that’s an industry built upon the sublimely outlandish. To me, it comes off as nothing more than goth revisited, with maybe a hint of blood-red color. It’s ironically anemic in concept.

I guess this meme will have to run its course via overkill. But even without actually directly intaking any of its manifestations, the marketing osmosis I experience from this movement has already stricken me with bloodsucker fatigue. Somebody drain me, quick…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/02/2021 07:59pm
Category: Fashion, Pop Culture
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Tuesday, June 23, 2021

I must be completely punch-drunk tonight, if all it takes is a tweet request for me to post the above picture. That would be me, wearing my festive purple pimpwear fedora, a leftover relic from a years-ago masquerade party. I had a more-or-less complete suit to go along with it, but that’s long gone now.

Note the accessory fuzzy dice hanging off the side. I added that touch myself. I must have lucked upon them, because they obviously match well with the hat’s leopard-skin trim. Believe me, the partygoers appreciated my attention to sartorial detail.

Bigger photo on Flickr, although the quality is only fair, thanks to my cameraphone’s limitations. Pimpin’ may be easy, but spur-of-the-moment photography sure ain’t.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/23/2009 11:20pm
Category: Fashion, Photography
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Saturday, June 20, 2021

If you want to look like you’re down with the Mexican Mafia, Torcido Clothing will hook you up with Southern California’s slickest gangland garb. And while this outfit isn’t officially gangmember-approved, it’s got the next best thing: The company is run by a Los Angeles-area police officer.

Among the shirts [El Monte Police Officer George Fierro] sells is one with a black handprint dripping blood — a symbol of the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The shirt includes the names of members of “the EME” who “wore this tattoo logo.” Another shirt has a logo that reads “Green Lighters” with a splatter of blood in the background. The term refers to someone who has defied the Mexican Mafia and has been put on a hit list…

Some gang intervention experts said they were surprised anyone would sell clothing referring to the Mexican Mafia, or that anyone would buy it. Mike Garcia, a former Boyle Heights gang member who works to prevent gang violence, said wearing such clothing can be dangerous in many neighborhoods.

“You’re not even supposed to talk about them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member or not,” Garcia said. “You can get in a lot of trouble. That’s dumb.”

This is pretty much akin to a narcotics officer running a head shop in his spare time. to avoid the conflict of interest, maybe Fierro should take up selling real estate on the side, like everyone else in California.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/20/2009 05:01pm
Category: Fashion, True Crime
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Thursday, June 04, 2021

On a Midtown sidewalk today, a rather large individual walked past me, wearing a black tshirt with this simple slogan on it: APE NEVER APE.

Given my fascination with cryptic tshirt-based phraseology, I just had to make note of it.

And research it further, of course. Not much online, but it seems to be connected to fashion boutique A Bathing Ape. Must be a discontinued brand, because it doesn’t seem to be in Bape’s current clothing line.

It’s an odd word structure. Ape never ape? Does that mean that a primate never copies?

In any case, I feel I’ve focused enough mental energy toward this sartorial mystery. If anyone knows the low-down, by all means share.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 08:41pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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