Total Request haircut | 5 years ago | July 27, 2001 | Andrew Weiner documented his quest to get a haircut like Carson Daly.
“Reviewing the results of my experiment, I now see that I made at least two crucial errors. The first was choosing a hair salon based on its name. I picked a place I’ll call Omni Styles. The name evoked modernity, versatility, competence. What it meant was, We’ll cut anybody’s hair … the exact same way.
“My second blunder was not bringing a photo.…
“One of the things writers must believe is that the right words exist to describe any object. Apparently this isn’t true of haircuts, at least not as administered by Rhea, the sixty-something hairdresser who met me at the counter. When I told her my plan, she expertly feigned comprehension and went to the magazine rack to produce an issue of Star. Smiling broadly, she pointed to a picture of an orange-suited young man with a crew cut: ‘Like him, right?’ Wrong. ‘Him’ was Timothy McVeigh.
“Before I could think once, let alone twice, about what was happening, Rhea had me shampooed, conditioned, and all but strapped into her chair. She started out well enough, assuring me that ‘a new look is a new you.’ But then she informed me that my birthmark hides a secret message from God, and complained that hairdressers don’t get enough media attention. Right after she told me how she’s had to ‘fire’ long-time customers who didn’t know their place, she told me I had so much hair I was going to have to pay the women’s price.
“By the time we were finished, I knew that the situation was well out of my control. I smelled like a Jolly Rancher, and could hardly bring myself to look in the mirror. When I did, I wasn’t sure about what I saw. Did I look like Carson Daly? Sort of. Did I also look like a well-groomed otter? Again, sort of. Did I look anything like my fantasy doppelganger self? Not really — I just looked 14 all over again.”
Tour de force | 10 years ago | July 26, 1996 | Carly Carioli looked forward to the Warped Tour.
“At a time when ticket prices are limited only by the extent of a promoter’s greed and bookings are stacked together according to profit margins, the second annual Vans Warped Tour … is an anomaly. On its inaugural run last summer, the skate-punk music and sports festival actually lost money, and this year the promoters are just hoping to break even. But more important, the festival’s organizers captured a slice of rock-and-roll utopia, a place where for a day everyone from musicians to athletes to audience seemed to set aside their attitudes and differences.
“Only a handful of bands playing this year have any wide name recognition; for every Fishbone, Pennywise, Rocket from the Crypt, and NOFX, there’s a Blink-182, Red 5, Sexpod, or Sensefield just breaking out. But the Warped Tour transcends the sum of its parts — everyone who went to last year’s show in Northampton came away talking about the intangibles, the stark contrast between Lollapalooza’s tense and clunky authoritarian stratification and Warped’s laid-back, egalitarian vibe.”
Mars attacks | 15 years ago | July 26, 1991 | Gary Susman criticized Hollywood for its escapist tendencies.
“In the new Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the catalyst for our happily anti-intellectual hero-dudes’ metaphysical adventures is an evil 27th-century gym teacher named De Nomolos who stages a coup that threatens to turn his freedom-loving society into a totalitarian state. It's distressing to realize that even the utopian future is not safe from 20th-century-style fascism, but all is ultimately set aright. Bill and Ted, with help from the Grim Reaper, two dead Martian scientists plucked from Heaven, future guru Rufus, and the medieval Princess babes, save the world with peace, love, and rock and roll.
“Bogus Journey may be just a deceptively clever teen comedy with an outlandish premise, but its scenario for dealing with social and political problems is right out of other Hollywood films. Recent movies that confront contemporary dilemmas tend to solve them by enlisting people from the future, the past, other planets, and the realm of metaphysics — anywhere but mundane, present-day existence, where real people actually grapple with such problems. You'd almost think that Hollywood had an aversion to handling current issues in a realistic, timely fashion.
“It could be that Hollywood tacks social themes onto escapist films so that otherwise inconsequential movies can impress critics and Academy members. Or it could be that Hollywood uses the past, the future, or fantasy as an arena to play out real-world issues as an easy way to avoid the messy complications that attempts to solve these problems create in their true milieu. Offering us solutions that may have worked once, or should have worked but didn't, or would work in an alternate reality, is a way of assuaging our guilt for bungling these questions in real life. Either way, the social issues are so utterly foreign to their milieu that we end up with wish-fulfillment in otherwise escapist movies that actually mean to distract us from their real-life similarities, or else with didactic filmmaking that does a disservice to both art and issues.”