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21 September 2002

Two items in this weekend's New York Times shining a lamp on the cultural Zeitgeist!

I'll take the one of more pressing personal interest first: According to an article in the Times Magazine, it seems that hairy chests are the new Izod of 21st-century men's fashion. As one who's never been able to stand the cave-salamander texture of smooth pecs -- ideally, any guy I date should be hairy enough up front that, in an emergency, I could judo-flip him to the ground and use him as an impromptu bathmat -- I had to pinch my nipples with alligator clips to make sure I wasn't dreaming!

Zarah Bradford's commentary is [tee-hee!] titillating, and -- for the benefit of preschoolers and foreigners -- accompanied by a few photos that I've already inkjet-printed and taped up in the bathroom for my scheduled Private Time later this evening. Still, I'm not sure how timely it really is. It would take a pro like Paglia to properly... um... deconstitute the piece's... semiotic... endoskeleton, but I'll give it a whirl.

To begin with, Bradford actually finds a way to invoke 9/11 as a contributing factor in the Alley Oop revival, though she wisely evades responsibility for this thesis by slipping into the passive voice: ''In the front row [of a recent fashion show where male models flashed their braidable torsos on the catwalk], this rebirth of butch was attributed to Sept. 11 and the ensuing images of heroic firefighters, police officers and rescue workers.''

Then, she gets in the obligatory fag-hag sucking up, explaining that this ''rebirth of butch'' also has roots in ''the gay community, always the cutting edge for male grooming trends.'' Oh, golly, lady. If you think butch has made some kind of noticeable resurgence in the gay community, what the hell are you using as a benchmark for ordinary middle-of-the-road masculinity -- Jiminy Glick? Richie Rich? At any rate, ''waxed gym bunnies are having to make way for bears.'' Bears being -- are you all you folks on the hetero tourboat taking notes? -- ''those big, ultramasculine men, whose beards and bellies make the local gay bar look like a Crosby, Stills and Nash convention." Har!

I dunno where Carrie Bradshaw -- I mean, Zarah Bradford -- gets this present-tense "are having to make way" stuff, as though bear were a new coinage in the gay argot. I've only been out for ten years, but even then, bears had been around long enough to call themselves a Community, with a capital C. They even had their own flag -- rather a nicer one than the familar gay pride banner it's modeled on, with attractively muted earth tones replacing the garish rainbow stripes. Plus, there was that sitcom way back in the '70s, ostensibly about a trucker and his fun-loving pet chimpanzee, though not in any way derivative of Clint Eastwood's Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel, which were ostensibly about a trucker and his fun-loving pet orangutan. Close analysis of the B.J. and the Bear theme lyrics, however, show it to be little more than a thinly-veiled ode to male camaraderie among professional sword swallowers, if you get my meaning. (Every Which Way But Loose, meanwhile, can be read as an allegory for Kissenger's Cambodia policy.) In what's surely no coincidence, B.J. star Greg Evigan would later appear in My Two Dads, itself an embarrassingly transparent celebration of ''alternative" households.

Where was I? Oh, yeah -- the article's only authentic revelation is that some makeup artist was actually tasked with mowing Sean Connery's pectoral kudzu while The Presidio was in shooting, though it's not clear whether Connery was letting his inner sissy-girl come to the surface or if this was a request of set technicians who found that boom mikes and other equipment were getting tangled in the actor's Sasquatch-like growth.

Stay tuned for part II, when I'll examine the alleged emergence of anti-Semitism at Harvard; I've just got to nip over to the drugstore for Kleenex and handlotion...

posted by Throbert | 9/21/2002 07:23:00 PM |
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