Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Haruki Murakami Wears Valenki

Laura Miller describes Murakami's protagonists as "dreamy, brainy introverts, drunk on culture (high and pop), with a tendency to get mixed up with mysterious women and outlandish conspiracies." Well, such men are hard to come by, especially if we mysterious women expect them to also have ambition, dignity and looks. There are enough conspiracies to go around, but how many of them are really racy anymore? I'm sure there are plenty of starched white men looking out floor to ceiling windows high above New York who are knee deep in fraudulent tax secrets, but where is the intrigue in that? Give me the pop-drunk introvert with a fitful mind. I want mine with gravitas.

What does a man wear? Do the clothes tell you whose approval he is seeking. I think so. I want catalysts who dress for their own skin and hold a sense of fashion that isn't taught or manufactured. I want him not to try to BE anything, not EMO, not trendy, not cool. I want to see him trouncing around in valenki with that dreamy brain of his on overdrive. Then he runs into me and my mysterious womanhood, and together we conspire to take the material world less seriously. In our consumer culture, what's more outlandish than that?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snowboards a Go-Go

Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Winter 2007-8.

Alas, snowboarding comes unnaturally to a surfer and kiteboarder. The "weight on the front foot" dilemma baffles the body. You mean I'm supposed to lean DOWNHILL? And the outcome of those misplaced edges is a breathless sprawl. But as I lay, staring skyward at the pristine blueness, wondering if my tailbone is in two pieces or six, I think about the cocktail awaiting me at the bar after this last run. Will I limp into that drink or be carried? I've earned my beverage, either way.

At the ski-out, ski-in apartment, which has proved to be ski-out, crawl-in for me the last few days, I wash my hands of my instruments of torture and collect the saviors of foot and psyche alike, my AKA Valenki. (www.akaculture.com) Angels with trumpets stand on billowing clouds of sweet perfume like heralds of a Boticelli raw bar. Can so much joy be carried in a shoe? Yes.

I have a partner in crime to accompany me toward my libation, a frisky female who we shall call "Sapphire." She is an AKA convert from our New York days, fully immersed in a love affair that knows no compromise. The only argument being jealousy from pairs of boots as to which color best suits her mood this evening. She opts for black and I for white, and smoothly we descend to the slopeside shindig.

I see him first. And I claim him with a quick whispered 'shotgun'. Sapphire is displeased, and rightly so. Less tan than a full time ski bum would be, must be a musician in town for the Texas Rock Festival. That explains why he's camped under the space heater in jeans. I love musicians. Sapphire orders two whiskey rocks at the bar to saddle up for our nighttime rodeo. I'm guessing a guitarist, young and nimble with the fingers. He's got that smirk of arrogance I like to wrestle with in conversation and beyond. This should be fun. I grab him away from his company with a knowing smile. 'Jay' he says they call him. Then his next words are the last ones he had control of. "Nice boots, but you're standing in a puddle." After that, he was mine. "I know, and I know." I said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Warm Feet and Uncompromising Style

Valenki are my personal happiness. There are too many puddles in life to go around them all. So with warm feet and an uncompromising sense of style, I will be telling the world the stories of a messy life. I've lived in New York, San Francisco, Seoul and Buenos Aires. I've won and lost the hearts of men and women. I've sold my dreams and bought them back at a discount when the market crashed. I've been asked for my hand and a cigarette at the same time, and gave one of two. My AKA Valenki have been my witnesses. Start by getting yourself a pair, then listen to the stories I have to tell.