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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
A STYLE ICON/MAGNUM OPUS HYBRID: For Raymond Douglas Davies; Sincerely, Laura Jane
"If I had to do my life over, I would change every single thing I have done."
-Ray Davies, 1967.
In some ways, I'm exactly like everybody else.
Like everybody else, my greatest assets and my fatal flaws are one in the same. They are:
1) I love the dudes.
2) I spend a lot of my time thinking about the way I look, and,
3) My tolerance for phoniness is zero.
Together, these qualities explain everything about why Ray Davies of The Kinks is my All-time Number One Style Icon. And now, I'm going to explain that.
PART ONE: DUDES ARE SCARY
I am terrified of dudes.
On a given day, I see about a trillion of them. I scope them out, because I am lonely, and then realize: they are all creeps. Even when I see a dude who at first glance looks like he might have a decent personality, or at very least is a babe, all I have to do is imagine myself alone with him for ten minutes, and then it clicks: Nope! You were wrong, Laura Jane! Dead wrong. All the dudes I've ever met, or seen, in my entire life, besides five of them, are tied for "The Universe's All-time Hugest Creep."
Also, more often than not, their shoes suck.
Tragic as it may be, my stance on the age-old "Are Dudes Hotter Than Chicks?" debate is that dudes are hotter than chicks. Therefore, it is only logical that my All-time Number One Style Icon would be a dude. I would never want to validate any of those #1 Creeps I was discussing earlier; as such, my ATN1SI surely must be one of the five dudes I've ever "met" who are not sketchy, evil, probably-rapists. Out of those five dudes, only one of them even bleeps at all on my "Potential Style Icon" radar- no kidding, it's Ray Davies! (side note: John Lennon does not count as a "dude" to me. He is exempt from this entire argument. In the ol' cognitive databank, "John Lennon" is filed away under "God.")
Ray. Ray Davies: beautiful, genuine, non-creepy. Ray Davies: a good person, a genius, a Cancemini. Ray Davies: he dresses awesome. Ray Davies: he is my bro, but he is one of those special bros you occasionally, though rarely, encounter- the kind of bro you don't merely want to "bro to town" with, but who you also want to bone, I mean "make love to." See, out of all the creepy, creepy things about all those creepy, creepy creeps I was talking about earlier, the #1 creepy tie that creepily binds all their creepinesses together is that all they really want is to do creepy, fucked-up shit to me sexually.
But not sweet, awkward, uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin, brilliant, gappy-teethed, Lurch-y Ray. Ray just wants to hold me, while wearing an immaculately-tailored, purple-and-green pinstriped three-piece-suit from Savile Row. And if, for whatever reason, Ray did want the two of us to partake in some weird S&M shit, I know he would ask politely. And if I said no, he would blush, and stutter, and stammer, and apologize profusely. And then I would melt, and say "Awww, Rayyyyy. Okay! Why the hell not?"
And therein lies the first, but by no means the most important, reason why Ray Davies is my All-time Number One Style Icon.
PART TWO: I KNOW WHAT I AM, AND I'M GLAD I'M A DUDE
Just as Ray Davies is not the world's most masculine man, I am decidedly not the world's most feminine woman.
I am writing this down in my notebook at a Thai restaurant on Bloor Street (Okay, fine- it's Thai Basil), since I am in a committed long-term relationship with myself, and like to take myself out on dates, and treat myself like a lady. But, I am not a lady. Right now, my entire table, notebook, hands, face, shorts, and knee are drenched in Panang curry sauce. I'm sloppy! Nobody else in the entire restaurant has a single drop of food-mess anywhere! Just me! Laura Jane!
I'm not the world's most feminine woman in the exact same way that Ray Davies is not the world's most masculine man. Ray Davies and I are the same gender, and it's a fetching gender to be. I'm not the world's hugest proponent of Bowie-style sexy-androgyny- mostly, I'm into weirdness. Ray is still a dude's dude at heart, and I myself can be as girlsy-swirlsy as a cotton candy-flavoured Bonne Belle Lipsmacker on a sunny afternoon. It's just that we're both kinda bad at it. We miss the mark; we fall short. Ray Davies' failure to be a proper man is precisely why he doesn't creep the living shit out of me. It's also why I think he has killer style, and I feel the same way about myself-
I rule because I suck; to a Normie, I suck because I rule.
I've always thought that Cher probably isn't a Normie, but I think that Cher might actually be a Normie, at heart. In 1966, Cher told Ray Davies that, if he ever wanted to be as famous as the Beatles, he needed to get the gap between his front teeth fixed. This must be the most idiotic thing Cherilyn Sarkisian ever thought in her life (actually, probably not). That statement is the Cher/Ray Davies equivalent of a frat boy telling me I'd be hotter if I smiled, and/or was not wearing Iron Maiden Vans hi-tops. Ray Davies' front-teeth gap is by far and away the sexiest thing about Ray Davies. It is delicate, bewitching, stupid, and endearing. It is "Ray-Davies-Perfect."
The way you look says more about who you are than a lot of people have conditioned themselves to believe. It is apparently "superficial" and "shallow" to posit that there might be depth and meaning to a person's physical appearance, but there is- it tells your story. Your body, your face, your accent, your teeth, your front-teeth gap, your gait: it may be surface; of course, it is, literally. But the way you look is the one thing- more than whatever brilliant shit you may do- that makes you not like everybody else.
Last summer, I lived on a organic farm for three days. It was cool. I ate microgreens out of the ground, and hung out with dogs. The farm owner was as hot as George Clooney, only he smelled worse. On the organic farm, everybody smelled worse. It was a real eye-opener, olfactory-opener (?), to finally learn, for once and for all, how insanely fucking terrible a human being can smell if they don't shower for twenty-odd months. While there, I got to talking to the stinkiest genius I ever met. His name was Mike, and I forget his zodiac sign, but it was one of the good ones.
Like all dudes except for five, Mike was creepy. But, in addition to being creepy, he was smart, and, in addition to being just plain smart, he was smart about "The Way Dudes & Chicks Relate to Each Other." And out of all the smart things he said about The Way Dudes & Chicks Relate to Each Other, the smartest was the truest, and it is something that I will vehemently believe in until the day I die:
The most attractive thing about a person is the way they move.
The way a person moves is the physical embodiment of their "soul." The way his shoulders hunch when he laughs; the way she tugs on the back of her hair when she is telling the truth. The way he cocks his head to listen; the way she runs the jagged edge of her front tooth along the perimeter of her chewed-up right index nailbed as he does so.
Ray Davies' lavender-tinted sunnies in the "Days" video seen below are awesome. So is his pre-glam winged hairdo, his brown suede blazer, his stripey fluoro t-shirt. And I can barely imagine how awesome his shoes must be, too.
But what really counts is:
- At 0:21, he purses his lips, then licks his upper lip, between lyrics.
- At 0:25, he waggles his head back and forth and gives a sad little smile. He looks upwards, to the heavens.
- At 0:42, he nods his head defiantly, and frowns softly.
- At 1.43, his tongue hits the back of his two front teeth.
- At 1:57, he does the hottest, most heart-wrenchingly adorable thing I have ever seen a dude do, when he pulls his body away from the piano like a lazy cat stretching. It makes me feel like this:
Actual Good Style does not a Style Icon make. It is not some intangible, unknowable, essence of cool. It is neither confidence nor swagger; it is, in fact, nothing. It is the same as waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth (flossing, too, also swigging mouthwash), walking down the street. It is YOU.
The thing I've loved most about reading Kat & Liz's incredibly mind-blowingly awesome Style Icons pieces this week is that I disagree with their choices. I mean, yeah, no freaking shit Tina Chow and Axl Rose look cool, but they just don't move right, for me.
Knowing that, owning that, accepting that, makes life so safe, in the good way. All you ever have to do is move, and somebody out there is bound to think you're the coolest, sexiest, hottest, most stylish human being they've ever seen. And it will be true. You will be. The moral of this story:
If you sit still, nobody will ever love you.
PART THREE: SINCERITY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
Why is it so difficult to apply the clarity you have about everybody else's life to your own? Case in point: A man named John Lennon wrote an anti-phoniness anthem named "Gimme Some Truth."
It would be really weird if I suddenly started claiming that John Lennon was a phony; obviously, John Lennon was one of the least phony people who ever lived. However, unlike Ray Davies, John Lennon was often insincere The opposite of phoniness is not sincerity; it's honesty, with a side order of genuinity (which, oddly enough, is not a real word! It's "genuineness," but that sounds ugly). The philological differences between "honesty," "sincerity", and "genuinity/genuineness" are near-infintesimal, but to me, right now, they count for everything. You can be sincerely dishonest, and you can be genuinely insincere.
John Lennon was often insincere because John Lennon was often defensive. He was so cripplingly afraid of his art and ideology being misheard by phonies that he overcompensated, and buried his earnestness ("earnesty": also not a real word!) beneath bitchiness and sarcasm. He was snide, and it was a defense mechanism. The same is true of Paul McCartney, in the way that something's polar opposite tends to be its closest relative: Paul cared too much about being perfect, and so masked his sincerity under heaps of prissiness. He is twee, and it is a defense mechanism.
But Ray Davies hid nothing behind nothing, and couldn't have if he wanted to, which I can't imagine he would, since artistic insincerity is a fucking stupid thing to want. Ray Davies can be snide (the part in "Yes Sir, No Sir" when he sings "Give the scum a gun and make the bugger fight"), and his twee-er moments ("Dedicated Follower of Fashion"; "Fancy"; every moment of every song on Village Green) are so twee, they make "Penny Lane" sound like Black Sabbath (or "Helter Skelter," I guess).
I love John Lennon and Paul McCartney more than I love Ray Davies, but I relate to Ray Davies way more than John or Paul. This is because, recently, I have become sincere.
It is scary to be sincere. Sincerity as a "Life Approach" requires that you rid yourself of all deep-rooted coping mechanisms. It means you are bare, which in turn means that anything can hurt you. You become a target, which leaves you no choice but to get tough. It is kill or be killed; moreover, it is Be You or let them Be You. And if you let them Be You, they will always be wrong. It's a raw deal.
A few days ago, I made a deal with myself. It is that I am not allowed to relapse, ever again. I am allowed to be anorexic anytime I want, but if I make that choice, I have to be anorexic forever and ever until it kills me, and then the end of the story will go that the writer Laura Jane Faulds died of anorexia when she was twenty-four years old. And that is NOT HAPPENING.
When I was sick this past winter, I would force myself to walk insane distances in the freezing cold so that I could burn as many calories as possible. I would listen to "Days" by the Kinks on headphones, and sob openly on the street at the lyric, "I wish today could be tomorrow." I felt those words so hard, I wished it too. I wished more than anything that tomorrow would be it, then, that it, Tuesday or Saturday or Wednesday Whatever, would be the day. That it would all be over and done, that I would no longer have to live in Hell, that maybe, tomorrow, I could just live.
And then it came. Here I am. I am alive.
I listen to "Days" every single "day" of my life. It's my favourite song. Now, when I hear Ray so sweetly sing that he wishes today could be tomorrow, I still agree. Only now, I wish it because, even when I am sad, I am the most deliriously, delightfully, sincerely happy I have ever been in my life. I wish it was tomorrow, because, based on my current track record, tomorrow is going to rule. Every day, I am fucking goddamnedly stokedly excitedly stoked to find out what is going to happen next.
I've never had a choice but to be brutally honest, to not be a phony. It's awesome about me, but it is innate. Sincerity is a choice I've made, and continue to make, which is why I care. I am sincerely grateful that I've figured out it's worth the effort. I don't have time for insincerity. It bums me out.
Sincerity has everything to do with why Ray Davies is my All-time Number One Style Icon-
I want to dress the way Ray Davies writes songs.
The clothes I wear, and the way I wear them, are as significant of a component of who I am as an artist as are the words I write. I am sincerely committed to Total Design, to being me wholly, to leading a high-concept life.
I am sincerely, madly, direly, head-over-heels in love with being alive, and I am in love with being in love with being alive, and I'm probably in love with that, too. Sometimes, when I walk down the street, I have to force myself to stare at my shoes, because if I look straight on, I will see too many things I need to write down. Sometimes, that's annoying, because all I want to do is chill out and listen to the Kinks on headphones! The writer Laura Jane Faulds is not going to die of anorexia in five months' time. I have too much to do, to say, and to give. I love myself, and I amm not ashamed to say it-
I'm not like everybody else.
Except Ray Davies. I'm exactly like Ray Davies.
Laura Jane Faulds
4:02 PM, Thursday, May 22nd, 2009.
Tags: Canceminis, Cher, Days, dudes are creeps, Dudes Scare Laura, eating disorder awareness, eating disorder recovery, George Clooney, John Lennon, Laura Jane Faulds, LJ ON JL, microgreens, not like everybody else, Ray Davies, Ray Davies is a genius, Ray Davies' front-teeth gap, Ray-Davies-Perfect, Raymond Douglas Davies, S&M, sincerity, Sir Paul McCartney, style icons, wishing today could be tomorrow
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