Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear Belieber

                               Photo of Bieber's angelic silver jacket courtesy of

When a modern teen icon interfaces with a teen icon whose posthumous "fame" awakens humanity to the injustice of genocide, one must seize upon the opportunity.

Friends, it is not every day that Justin Bieber visits the Anne Frank House nor does he frequently sign Ms. Frank's guest book so eloquently, wishing intimately that Anne would have been a "Belieber." Note that this term is, in fact, forever etched into said guest book, begging commentary in every social media arena. Comedians have found new fodder. Jeff Ross tweets that Anne would likely have not been a Belieber, but rather a Ke$ha girl. Amy Schumer tweets "Dear Kitty, I know I should focus on the certain genocide we are all facing, but Joey from New Kids is too dreamy #belieber." Well played, Ms. Schumer, well played. I wonder: would Ms. Frank have had her own hash tag?

Regardless, after a day of contemplation and soul-searching, I beg to differ with Mr. Ross; I beliebe Anne would have been a Belieber. And perhaps, if we may beliebe in this, we may also beliebe that Justin's allure might have been potent enough, even in war, to penetrate Adolf's ears so that he might have hummed an occasional Bieber hymnal to himself. And, perhaps, even in war, such emotion flowing from Justin's lips might have softened the hardest of white supremacists and appealed to Adolf's better sensibilities, thereby giving him pause before initiating his Final Solution. Friends, indeed, if our celebrity idols could have such impact, if North Korea and the United States may potentially find common ground in Dennis Rodman, might not have Ms. Frank and her kin and the six million Jews of Europe been spared? Could Bieber have deliebered victims of the Holocaust to safety had he been born multiple generations earlier?

Oh, sweet Bieber, I beliebe.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Suits, Weddings, and Funerals

Picture of G. Clooney impressed with his attire courtesy of

As a general rule, most of us prefer to be plussed, rather than nonplussed, the term "plussed" meaning the most opposite of "nonplussed," relevant for purposes discussed here to circumstances in which plussing may yield respect, and established as a word exclusively for the purposes of this article. In other words, Mandy Patinkin's character, Inigo Montoya, put it best in The Princess Bride when he said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

My father always said that I should have two suits: one for weddings and one for funerals, the former by far more practical as it doubles for interviews, the latter a darker commentary on the nature of "dressing to kill." I managed to pick up a couple suits before my wife and I left New York for Maine. The Men's Warehouse was having a two-for-one sale and, at the time, I remember thinking it would be rather difficult to find a tailor in Maine. I have never had less of a need for suits.

When I was in high school my father came home after buying two suits totaling three-thousand dollars. He was a garmento in the garment distict of the City -for anyone from Boston, "City" does not refer to you. Every night he would come off the Metro-North Railroad and the garage door would go up at exactly 7:42 p.m. One particular night, he walked in two suits richer and three-thousand dollars poorer. My mother was nonplussed.

I did not acquire the fashion sensibility exhibited by my father in this anecdote and instead took to nappy shoulder-length hair, denim overalls, and flannel shirts. It was the nineties and I had no qualm about expressing the real me: a Grateful-Dead-with-all-the-assumed-connotations-listening, My So Called Life-loving, wannabe-hippie, counter-culture, sex-crazed kid. Again, my mother was nonplussed.

I was plussed.

I was so plussed that in all my nonconformity, I did not notice my conformity, the same conformity for which I was so disdainful of my father's suit-wearing conformity.

It was not until college that I began to acquire a more tidy style, though my shorter hair was due more to my thinning hair. These days I keep my sideburns long for that nonconformist edge but I have entered the age of daddy-casual: collared shirt, a v-neck sweater, jeans. Even then, I feel out of place in Maine. I went to a funeral here where most wore black t-shirts. I thought I would be out of place without a blazer. That's Maine for you. My father would disagree and say that it is about respect.

Regardless, this is the real me: daddy-cas'. Smooth. Maybe not three-thousand dollars smooth, but the garmentos might at least like my shoes. I keep my suits covered in the closet and pull them out for weddings or a funeral, the former being far more frequent for now. They are good suits, too, good for plussing people. That might not be the most important thing but it is fun to pluss people. I like to pluss if for no other reason than, when strangers see me with my kids, they might think, "That guy looks like he's got a lot of respect for fatherhood. He doesn't look like a bum. I'm plussed by that dad."