RL320 - Every Daffodil in the City

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • John almost getting his daughter late to school (Currents)
  • Bold clothing choices by young kids (Early Days)
  • Clothes you could wear to school (Early Days)
  • Merlin growing out his hair (Merlin Mann)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (Merlin Mann)
  • John’s sister’s birthday, peeing standing up (Stories)
  • Using the toilet in the wild, squatting down (Factoids)
  • Athleisure wear (Style)
  • Cowichan sweaters, cultural appropriation (Style)
  • Explaining cultural appropriation to little children (Children)

The Problem: John’s sweater may be problematic, referring to John's Cowichan sweater with a totem pole on it that was not part of the original iconography and might be considered cultural appropriation.

The show title refers to every daffodil in the city shrinking because of the unexpected frost last night.

Merlin hates the idea of alligators with thumbs because that is too much power, and it will keep him up at night because it could steer a car and shift gears.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

John almost getting his daughter late to school (RL320)

John had set his alarm for 7:30am to take his little child to school. He was up late and was only going to get 4.5 hours of sleep, which would have to do, and at 8:30am he heard some thumping downstairs, woke up, noticed his alarm didn’t go off, and his little child had gotten herself up and gotten dressed. She was thumping around as she does when she feels like it is time for daddy to get up. John went downstairs and made her lunch and brekdast [sic] by making one meal and giving her half of it for breakfast and putting the rest in her bastic [sic]: Peanut-butter & Jelly sandwich, raisins, yoghurt and apple sauce, all in a bag.

John was making coffee on his Keurig with one hand, throwing his clothes on with the other, saying ”Sweetie, we might be late to school” - ”Do not get me late to school!” - ”Oh, we are kind of close!” Coming late has become a very big deal because public schools lose funding for absences. John was going to take her out of school for a week in spring of 2019 and it was going to be tough. The hot scolding John gets is not from the school, but from the child who does not want to be one minute late, not only to the school, but also not to the pre-school playground.

It was a frost during the night and every daffodil in the city was shrinking, going ”What? It was 59 degrees (15 °C) two days ago!” John had to scrape the windshield of the car, he jumped into the car with his beer stein full of Keurig coffee, he put the seatbelts on, he was a little groggy and he put the seatbelts on over the coffee. The coffee went everywhere: the lap, shirt, the whole nine, down soaking his underpants with hot coffee. Merlin suggests that it means good luck in Tibet, like when a bird shits on you on your wedding day.

The streets were slippery and daddy couldn't drive fast, but had to drive cautiously. They could be fast and furious, but other people don’t know how to drive when it is slippery. They were talking about glaciers and how they work and they got to school with 10 minutes to spare. John doesn’t know how, they must have gone through some kind of space portal, because school starts at 9:10am and his daughter woke John up at 8.30am. Apparently John doesn’t have to get up until 8:30am!

Merlin’s daughter's school is at 7:50am and it was the same for John last year. 9:10am is pretty great and the whole moving-out-to-the-suburbs makes sense. 9:10am is late enough in the morning that a child might get up and get themselves dressed without any parental supervision. That is how reasonable it is! Middle School starts for Merlin around that same time and that is the one part of Middle School he is looking forward to. Every aspect of Middle School? The kids should be cutting trail (see RL48)! Merlin went to an orientation the other night and it was not encouraging. It was a crucible like Lord of the Flies.

John's daughter asked him to drop her off 300 yards (275m) from the school although she is 7.5 years old! He was wearing a sword and he had coffee spilled from his belly button to his knees, maybe that was it, maybe it looked like he had wet himself. He still got a kiss, though.

As John came home he put on new everything because by that point he was cold. "Of course! A horse is a horse!" Now John has to wash his jeans albeit he and Merlin normally don’t wash their jeans. Merlin recommends a just-above-room-temperature rinse with Woolite Black, he learned about it six years ago from Jesse Thorn's show about clothes. Turn the jeans inside out, put them in a bathtub with some not too hot water and some Woolite Black! It keeps them from fading. John has a 3x5 card to write that down.

Bold clothing choices by young kids (RL320)

There were so many great things for John in Middle School, like Garret, a guy who had matured early. He was tall and not super-articulate, but he was walking down the hall in 7th grade with white jeans on! John had never seen white jeans and it was the boldest move. He still had a milk mustache all the way through 7th and 8th grade and if he had worn white jeans it would have looked like his mom had found some Toughskins on sale or something and he would have been ridiculed for them. Garret was wearing white jeans and in everybody’s mind it was a revolution. He was doing it out of self-confidence. He was also one of these guys who could throw a football through a truck tire from 60 yards (55m) out!

Merlin has a kid in his daughter’s class who wears a Coonskin cap every day, which is so fucking cool! In the 1950s when Daniel Boone was popular that was the thing to do, but the kid is wearing a Coonskin in 2019 and it is a very cool look. The kid is not a fetishist and does not have a slingshot made out of a stick in his back pocket, but he is just having fun with it. He is one of these kids who can just wear whatever and it is okay.

Merlin is afraid to ask the kid if the Coonskin hat is a Wes Anderson reference. He is one of those kids who looks like a drawing of a child from a children’s book, a Peanuts character with a perfectly round face with freckles and high tide pants. Merlin’s daughter wears a lot of branded stuff from Steven Universe, Wings of Fire, or other books she likes a lot.

In 6th grade Merlin had one of his all-time favorite outfits that always made him feel cool: white painter’s pants with a Dallas Cowboys baseball shirt 3/4 sleeve, together with Mork From Ork suspenders. He felt good and he was rolling a full Garret with that one!

John had spaghetti sauce in three different locations on his clothes at all times and he still does. Merlin got bleach on his branded basticball [sic] sweatshirt that he got at the game. Wearing sports clothes is totally off-brand for him and he and John feel the same way about adults who wear those. It is like branded flip-flops: it is terrible and he shouldn’t be doing it.

"Kevin Durant, what are you going to say? Clay Thompson, the Splash Brothers, what are we even talking about here? Stephen Cury could break the record for most 3-pointers in a career and he is 30 years old. Herp-a-derp-a-derp!" Is this weirder than Merlin announcing his is gay? He is out of the basticball closet!

Clothes you could wear to school (RL320)

Denim jackets were not in style in 1982, which is weird to think. There was a brief period where denim jackets were considered trucker and had gone out of style because people were into surfer / preppy style. Going into freshman year John was looking at a Levi’s denim jacket at Sears and he knew it was out of fashion, but he really wanted it because it seemed like something a grown-up would wear, so he got it.

Later John was at the fabric store with his mom and instead of leaning at the wall looking solemn he was actually going through the store, looking for cool things. He found the rack of little patches that you sow on things and he really got to like the idea of patches sown on weird places, like in the great famous picture of Keith Richards (probably this one) nodding off on the 1972 tour with a patch of a mushroom sown on the crotch of his pants. John didn’t realize that he was nodding off on heroin and thought he was exhausted as a Rock star.

John found an alligator patch that was about 3-times bigger than the Izod alligator, smiling and giving a thumbs-up sign. He loved it because it was cheeky and John called it the smiling alligator. Izod shirts with the alligator were very popular right before Polo shirts became popular and so they got the alligator patch, his mom sowed it onto the Levi’s jacket and John felt like he was making a culture-jamming statement against consumerism!

John’s mom would never have spent the money on an Izod shirt with an alligator. Merlin almost always had the off-brand version of stuff and certainly not the latest, like orange and blue fake-Nikes from JC Penny. John had Stadia with a swoop that looked like a whale until he eventually got enough status awareness that he couldn’t wear them anymore. He still didn’t need the ones with the swoosh, but he could just wear plain shoes.

The smiling alligator was such a misapprehension of a status symbol and such an F.U. that John’s friends who were trying to make it in the world couldn’t hang with him and had to sit separately at the lunch table. John's friend Kevin was one of those who had to rep a certain thing because of the girls, which didn't mean they couldn't listen to Billy Squire together up and down after school. It was nothing against John, but John was also a major albatross, which he understood and it was fine.

John was wearing army pants to school. He never wore his orange flight suit to school because he wasn’t allowed to (see RW137). There were still standards in the 1980s and his mom told him that he had to wear pants, a shirt and maybe a V-neck sweater. The flight suit was pajamas to her. Merlin had hard rules what he was allowed to wear to church and to school and he was not allowed to wear jeans to school. His pants had to not look like dungarees.

Merlin had white painter's pants with a little handle where you could stick your brush in and he could put his comb into one of the side pockets. He almost always carries a comb and sometimes he had a Goody in the back pocket (see RL155). John was not that cool and did not carry a comb in his back pocket. He could never feather his hear because it had the consistency of a mop.

Merlin growing out his hair (RL320)

Merlin hasn’t had a haircut since May of 2018 because he is growing out his hair. He looks like somebody who recently got pinched for Meth. The last time he legitimately had ponytail-long hair was in 1989. He had floppy French boy hair in the 1990s and he is now going to try one last time if a 52 year old dad can have long hair. His style changes from day to day and sometimes he looks like Lance Kerwin from James at 15.

Lance Kerwin is is not a basketball player, John is thinking of James Harden who plays for the Houston Rockets (John is loosing it because Merlin talks about basketball again) who is a quantifiably a different kind of player and is playing a different game with off-the-charts unassisted 3-pointers, which is very interesting. Merlin continues to ramble on about basketball.

Other days Merlin looks a bit like Shemp (Howard) with the hair parted in the middle and combed straight down. In the back it is long enough to curl up a little bit. John finds that Merlin has good hair and Merlin says his hair is dense and narrow. There is a picture of Merlin and Ken Stringfellow from the time when Ken had orange hair and Merlin was 35 pounds more than he is now and did not look good. John thinks Merlin is going to look spectacular with long hair and because it will be a major statement of ”Here I am, world!”

Merlin's family is supportive of it, which is strange, because he looks like he lives in the woods. His daughter being afraid he is going to embarrass her is a very different conversation, though. There are many articles of clothing he is not allowed to wear to school and the cascade of what he is allowed to do in public with her has been getting narrower and narrower. It started obviously with ”Don’t sing songs from Les Mis!” and got reduced down to ”Don’t tell jokes!” Merlin is also not allowed to show her a YouTube video while they are walking around, like ”Dad, please! Seriously!” He still gets a hug and a kiss, but then she is out of there.

Hydrogen peroxide (RL320)

Merlin cleaned up his desk and now he doesn’t have anything except for some hydrogen peroxide and a knife. He is a big swisher now and uses the hydrogen peroxide to swish his mouth, but he has to go to the bathroom to spit it out because he doesn’t have a spittoon. He does micturate into a bespoke container when needed, though. If he is ever not talking for 30 seconds, then something is up, obviously, but he always mutes.

John always assumed Merlin had a spittoon, because Merlin liked West World and Deadwood, the show where Nancy Spungen talked dirty in the Black Hills of Dakota. Merlin liked that show a lot and he likes off-kilter premium Westerns as much as anybody, although he doesn’t have a Daniel Boone hat. If Merlin had a nice spittoon of brass he could spit his hydrogen peroxide in there. Really a lot of mud in these towns!

John’s sister’s birthday, peeing standing up (RL320)

The other day was John’s sister’s birthday and they had a birthday party for her. John lives in a world entirely of women and they were talking about a semi-new invention that allows girls to pee standing up. His sister and her girlfriends go on adventures, for example to Nepal, and the worst part about it is that there is no place to go to the bathroom. John’s sister was telling them about a product called Peebuddy while John was sitting there, looking off, picking at the Calamari while they were talking to each other.

You have to get one and practice in the shower because you have to learn how to use it and can’t expect how to do it right away. John’s daughter was curious about it as well. Then they all looked at John, like ”Peeing standing up, right?” and John wanted to qualify it because although it is great, it is not the greatest thing and there are problems. If you are wearing a really long shirt, you might pee on the end of the shirt or sometimes you pee on your belt.

They told him that this was an example of him being incompetent, not of there being anything fundamentally wrong about peeing standing up, which was fair enough. John encouraged them to practice in the shower all they wanted, but it will still come with problems and responsibilities. Now they have to deal with the splatter and clean up the potty when they go number one and they were saying that they would still sit on the potty when there is a potty.

Merlin made a study of always having the lid up and checking for splatter and he is frequently shocked by how much splatter there is, even on the floor. The bowl is doing its own back-business and is returning your fire, which makes you realize how much pee there must be in a bathroom or on the bottom part of your pants.

Using the toilet in the wild, squatting down (RL320)

John has dropped a lot of dukes in the wild, not only when he was on his big walk, but also when he was a canvasser for Ralph Nader in the late 1990s. If you are out in the suburbs and have to poo, you go to a house, you ask ”Hi, I’m here for the national environmental law center, but also: Can I use your bathroom?” and people are usually not into it. Suburban areas have a lot of trees and John would go into the trees and use his clipboard with his brochures as a scraper.

The band practice for Merlin's band Bacon Ray in Tallahassee, Florida was in a storage shed with a garage doors and no bathrooms. One morning in particular they brought the ADAT out and had a long day of recording for one of their cassettes. Merlin had gone to breakfast before and had some coffee and he had to go up by the fence to have a little alone time.

Merlin is sympathetic to the idea that you have to crouch in the wild to do your business and, this is not virtue signaling, guys do have an advantage. Squatting is a standard way of not sitting in public in other parts of the world, it is very big in the slavic countries, but Americans don’t it as much. If five dudes are standing around in Poland, they will all squat down, it is a relaxed position for them, while in America you lean against a wall and prop yourselves up.

People in many Asian countries and in Africa don’t understand why Americans are wiping their ass with dry paper. Why don’t you squat over a hole and then have a wash cloth? Merlin wants to be open-minded to the idea that there are a couple of ways to do things and squatting covers a couple of those bases. It is a good way to wait for a bus, but in America you would look like a weirdo. A white American guys squatting looks dicy.

Athleisure wear (RL320)

Also, to properly squat as somebody who is just chilling with the bros you have to be wearing a black Adidas track suit and a flat cap, maybe an off-brand Adidas-like track suit, not the one with the tiger, but Fila. Under Armour is everywhere now and even Merlin's food-tracking app is made by Under Armour. They make a lot of technical wear, T-shirts, running-stuff and yoga-stuff. They might be conservative, they might be problematic.

Lululemon had a revolution in Yoga pants, which are still the thing and Merlin thinks the Millenniums are killing jeans because everybody is wearing Athleisure wear now, which is an excellent word. Everybody is wearing tights and Merlin thinks of fleece as a little bit athleisure and Yoga pants are the ur-athleisure. John found a picture of somebody walking in a sports-bra which is now considered a top and no longer a bra.

Merlin sends John photos of his basketball sweatshirt and of his daughter’s basketball team. They are not squatting, but kneeling and they are instructed how to put their knees. Merlin’s basketball sweatshirt is a tribute-to-Chinese-culture-shirt, it is Merlin’s favorite of their uniforms. He also has the T-shirt, which is a good deal more ping pong.

Cowichan sweaters, cultural appropriation (RL320)

John has a bunch of Cowichan sweaters and also his life-hat is Cowichan. When he was up in Vancouver the Stop Podcasting Yourself homeboys told him how to pronounce it correctly. Pendleton makes a Cowichan-style sweater in a Southwest look, but Cowichan is North Coast, not Southwest, like Tlingit & Haida looking stuff. The story is that the original Scotts, the first white people who came to the Northwest, brought sheep with them and the indigenous people of the region had already a culture of weaving, making woven garments out of straw or local bark.

The Scotts offered them sheep and wool and they started making these sweaters out of it. In the 1950s a Canadian lady named Mary Maxim took the Cowichan native handicraft and started to knit pictures into the same sweater style, pictures of dogs, floatplanes or old-fashioned cars. That style is a real amalgam. The local people took the sheep from the Scotts and started making their traditional woven things with their traditional emblems, except out of wool, and other people took that and added Southwestern motives of cows, curling teams or whatever.

All the way back to the 1950s John’s family wore real Cowichan sweaters from Vancouver island because it was part of the regional style. John has a little collection of them, but he also started to collect Mary Maxim ones with wolves or horse shoes on them. He has one Mary Maxim sweater that is very problematic, something that was knitted from a pattern by a mom somewhere. She didn’t sell sweaters but patterns and people would knit sweaters for their families with horse shoes, like the green one that John is wearing in the picture standing in front of the RV.

John also has a sweater with a totem pole on it, which is a Northwestern emblem that was not part of the Cowichan iconography. It is a thing that a Canadian mom wove into a Mary Maxim version of a Cowichan sweater. This sweater is from the 1950s when Northwest Native-American-coopted iconography was part of the Northwest regional look & feel, like Trader Vic’s, and every time John has this sweater on he wonders what Jesse Thorn would say about it.

John has a lot of different angles on this sweater. It is a thing from the 1950s, it is Northwest appropriate, but it also cultural cooptation in several different ways. The Cowichan sweater is specific to the region, but while the sheep aren’t native they have been knitting these sweaters for 250 years. Very complicated! John wears this sweater, but he is not not aware of the sweater’s reverberations and he is prepared to have the conversation if somebody came up and ”Ipso facto!” Wearing a Bill Cosby shirt is one thing, but to have Bill Cosby on a head dress is another thing.

Explaining cultural appropriation to little children (RL320)

One time John sent a picture of his daughter from a thrift store to Jesse Thorn. She had found a paper parasol, a tourist thing from Japan town, and a silk high-necked Chinese garment for little girls and she recognized both things as being Asian, put them on and was walking around the thrift store, like ”Daddy, look at me, I’m a Japanese princess!” - ”Yes, darling, you look beautiful!” John sent a picture to Jesse Thorn who wrote back almost immediately that either or, but not both. At the time she was 5.5 years old, but John still has a responsibility to the world. Problems like that solve themselves, because she wandered away and the next time she showed up was in a Darth Vader helmet (see RL271).

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