Getting The Flavor Right

“Getting the flavor” of something isn’t the same thing as “getting it,” in the same way that dressing like a rodeo cowboy didn’t make John Voight’s character in “The Midnight Cowboy” a rodeo cowboy.

There’s a 1990 documentary film titled “Paris Is Burning” about drag competitions and it also introduced “vogueing,” the dance style that Madonna later brought out to the public. The film is focuses on disadvantaged Black and Hispanic New Yorkers who compete with each other by their style of dance and costumes. Some guys would even compete by dressing up as briefcase carrying Brooks Brothers clad business types and compete as to who was the most businessman-like acting and looking, something about as far removed from their lives as was naming their “houses” (clubs really) after equally distant fashion houses like Chanel.

Most surfers I know like to drool over the surfboards at surf shops. The old idea that humans are attracted to shiny things is at work here when surfers inspect new board shapes, designs, and colors. But as “lifestyles” become more of a focus, there are now lots of surf shops that don’t even sell surfboards. If you don’t surf you may not notice the lack of surfboards or that there’s only one – and it’s a prop mounted to a wall. I guess your sport has arrived as a lifestyle when the center piece of the sport isn’t necessary to have at the shop it’s named after; like having a golf shop that didn’t sell golf clubs.

There’re lots of examples out there like: suburban kids dressing like inner-city gangsters, a blue blood president wearing cowboy boots, middle-aged men adopting skate clothing, urban hipsters riding the single-speed bikes favored by bicycle messengers, Donald Trump wearing his hair in the style of… never mind him I don’t know what that’s about, professional types wearing black leather and riding chopped Harleys that they trailer instead of riding to the destination, I’m sure you can come up with lots of other examples too. Playing isn’t the same as being.

Playing is fun; but sometimes the people playing begin to think they are who they’re playing.