Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I've commented a few times before about the sartorial splendors of the Seventies, but the thrift stores never fail to amaze and awe me by spitting up ever-more-funky cultural remnants of the the nuttiest decade ever.

Case in point: last week I came upon a mini cache of deadstock boys jeans from the era of Evel Knievel. Until then I had forgotten (willfully unremembered) the sheer ugliness and total uncomfortability of Toughskins. Fortunately my parents never forced me to wear forest green or cardinal red pants, but I've since had a flashback of wearing a pair of stiff denim monstrosities with reinforced knees and all the comfort of spun steel wool on the playground. That was right before I accidentally fell on piece of glass, ripped a hole in them, and rendered them thankfully ineligible for school wear. And that is the story I will swear to my grave. Ah, childhood.

What really caught my eye about these warehouse finds (other than their hilarious colors) was the original tags. "Husky" sizing (that can't still be the preferred term, can it?), the laundry-list claims about their indestructibility, bell-bottomed boys in innocent and yet slightly dangerous neighborhood hijinks -- that kid looks like he 20 feet in the air -- is he falling down or bouncing up?

But my absolute favorite tag was on this plaid nightmare. From a distance it seems like it just makes the same claims about wear and tear -- with a 70s kind doing the very 70s (pre-iPod, pre-Playstation, pre-fun) act of climbing a tree.

But look closer my friends. Past the claims of you-can-not-f**k-up-these-pants-even-if-a-nuclear-bomb-goes-off (by the way, what the hell was it about the 70s that was so damn dangerous to boy jeans? Other than random pieces of glass flying up out of nowhere to ruin a brand new pair of pants. I was there, it happened)

Anyhoo, that's not just a kid with a bullet shaped head and shiny silver sneakers.

It's a damn, dirty robot! Climbing a tree! With its cold steel claws and its beeping computer brain, scanning the landscape for humans to kill. Oh, and it's wearing rainbow stripe Brady Bunch bell-bottom trousers. Okay, I willing to concede that maybe he's a cyborg, but still: striped bell-bottoms?

How did this advertising campaign sell boys pants? "Hey, Moms! Your son, like this sterile iron machine, will never be able to destroy our pants!" "Does your boy remind you of the Tin Man? Now he can dress like him too!" "Robby the Robot says: Stylish jeans? That does not compute!"

It certainly doesn't promise comfort. "The Softest Jeans Your Shiny Metal Android Ass Can Buy!"

Maybe it's just a dumb kid in his Halloween costume -- right before he runs out of air and falls 3 stories to his death. At least JCPenny guarantees his 10 oz. denim pants will be ok.

Was JCPenny's hoping that 7-year-olds would select their pants based on whatever monster was illustrated wearing them? "Mom, I want the Frankenstein Flares!" The mind reels with possibilities.

Perhaps we'll never know. But one thing's for sure: these pants will outlive us all. Run for your lives! [Cue Terminator music -- or the theme to Forbidden Planet, if you prefer]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Well, thrift store lovers, beings-as (a colloquialism from my Midwestern past) it's already 2009 and I haven't posted in a while, I just have to share two horrible toys I saw today.

Exhibit A: what can you really say about the ethnic and racial stereotypes and egregious cultural misconceptions that naked dolls in bags labeled "Indian Chief" and "Indian Princess" toys perpetuate? Maybe the less said the better.

Exhibit B: Not sure if this is worse, but it's pretty awful. Awful funny, that is.

Now when I was a lad "water worm" had a totally different meaning. I'm wholly sure the toy company isn't intentionally going down that path.

Then again what else could "Squirts up to 25 feet" and "Continuous stream" imply?

And what of "No pumping required?" Uh, at least the box art clearly doesn't really look like a, ah, you lad's worm... they wouldn't go that far.

Oh. Okay. Imagine that illustration outside of its context. Like a health ed textbook. Even in this context, "Tail will squirt water indicating when worm is full" is pretty hard to read in any other way.

By the way, for all the boys and men out there, I think that your doctor would agree that the advice "Do not overfill worm!!!" is quite intelligent, especially if you want to avoid any prostate issues in your later years. So my father tells me. When we talk about water worms. Which is not very often.

Okay, okay. This is a family website. I'm not a prude, but I don't think it's my job to teach young boys (with apparently fat, fleshy palms) how to shoot water out of their worms. And if you don't know that you need to "hold neck firmly and pull worm head back" to squirt it up to 25 feet well you're really coming to the wrong internet site. Seriously, there's a WHOLE world of water worms out there that would make your head spin.

Gross I know but I felt like sharing. Happy new year? :{