Thursday, September 23, 2010

Date Night in the Mid-1980’s Part II

     Date Night meant trying your best to scrub yourself clean, thanks to the old Bhagwan water heater that is not a problem, just  don’t forget to turn it off while you are soaping unless you want to burn your skin when you open the water again.  Given central or automatic water heaters nowadays it is hard to imagine the old drill of opening the water, turning the heater on, turning the heater off and closing the water.  Soaps of choice are those made by the cologne company you intend to wear, in its absence good old Dial or Irish Spring will do.

     After the bath, a young man spends an inordinate time in front of the mirror.  Whether the ritual is to practice gestures or trying to hide pimples is a thousand page novel waiting to be written.  Oxy Cover in some instances actually makes the zits look worse, but who cares, it is the whole thought of perfection in the mind that matters most.

     There are two ways to meet a date.  You can either pick her up in her house with her requisite chaperone or you can meet her in the place of the date.  Picking her up in her house is the better proposition.  You have the chance to let her hear your song playlist.  Playlists during the eighties meant song compilations in cassette tapes.  Yes, those antiquated magnetic strips holding your songs.  These are lovingly done in your friend’s house with the pile of records  you bought and borrowed.  It would take the same amount of time to create the cassette tape as its length, a C60 meant an hour of taping and a C90 meant an hour and half.  Nowadays, it is simply burning your mp3s in a disc or simply hooking your I-pod in the car stereo.  I guess you can say that car music then was like a musical score in a movie, inconvenient as it may have been to make, it was worth the time if your date complemented the sounds.  The  cassette playlist was a great non-verbal expression of oneself.

     Dinner had a myriad of choices then depending on your budget and mood.  For a romantic evening there were Café Adriatico/Prego in Malate or Café Ysabel in Greenhills.   Being in a Bohemian mood meant going to Penguin with the artiste crowd.   During the later part of the eighties there were the very pop Dean’s street Café/Angelino’s  in Pasay Road and the delicious but expensive La Primavera in Greenbelt.  All of these places were romantic and tried hard to take your mind away from the problems of the country.
     Post dinner meant going to Calesa bar in the old Hyatt if you were into bands.  But if your date was in  a dancing mood the mid-eighties meant Zigzag in Makati.  Faces, Mars and Euphoria(Ewphoria as the mestizos pronounced it) came some years later with varying crowds and degrees of success .  All these places evoke a particular memory and a particular song at one moment in time.  So much so that when a favorite song is heard again in the radio, one is transported back to that same time and place with certain special persons.  A dear friend once told me that every friend she ever danced with had a particular song that was associated with that particular friend.  Upon hearing old 1980's hits, suddenly one is seventeen again.  Now, thats nostalgia!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Date Night In The Mid-1980’s

     One odd day at the office, my law partner Jeff and I discussed the rudiments of dating out during the mid-80’s.  It struck us that while he was from the Ateneo High School and I’m from La Salle Greenhills, we lived in like but parallel universes.  We dated girls from the same peer groups, went out to the same places, bought flowers from the same shop (probably wrote the same bullshit).  Sometimes we got lucky, sometimes we got busted.   We never met during that period, but there was an undeniably unified experience shared.
The Pre-date

     The pre-date starts with the jarringly hard call to your crush’s house.  In the days before cellphones you had to call a land line, yes folks a land line (with cross lines and party lines to boot but that is another story altogether).  You will normally encounter maids with thick Visayan accents, a tough dad, an asshole brother or an overly bearing mother.  If you are lucky to get through, you face your worst enemy “YOU”.  Tongue tied and with little conversational skills, you might need to write a pre-made dialogue akin to a movie script unless you want to hear crickets on the other side of the line.  The pre-made dialogue may be a set of index cards with a conversation flowchart where the answer will mean using other dialogue cards specific to that conversation flow.  When things go well, you will receive that most important YES, an affirmation that she will go out with you.

     The next step is to figure out what to wear.  In the 80’s you were either new wave or preppy.  I tended to be preppy with my topsiders, Ralph Lauren polo shirts and khakis.  Dating meant wearing long sleeve dress shirts which Filipinos interestingly call polo shirts, slacky pants correctly called slacks and loafers (Cole Haans, Weejuns (by Bass),  Sebagos or Haruta depending on your budget).  You either bought these at PX stores or Rustan’s.  To lessen costs, borrow clothes from your vain and stylish brother.  Your scent choices were Gray Flannel, Polo, Azzaro, Drakkar Noir or Eau Sauvage.

     Your ride or what we fondly call “wheels” then were limited to box type Mitsubishi Lancers or hatch back Toyota Corollas (okay if you had ties with the ruling family you can borrow your dad’s 123 body Mercedes Benz).  The economic situation brought about by the Marcos regime meant cars were expensive and the average age of cars were 4 to 5 years old.  Toyota Philippines was closed all throughout this harsh economic period, it was probably like a mild form of how the Cubans feel about the U.S. embargo.  Interestingly, due to the fall of the Peso, cars were actually appreciating in value.  Date night meant that Saturday morning was spent cleaning the car.  It may translate to a steam wash in your favourite gas station, a change of white seat covers after a thorough vacuuming of the carpets.   The car scent of choice then was orange scented My Shaldan from Japan,  Pine air fresheners were strictly passe.  To top off the clean car look, don't forget the huge box of tissues above the glove compartment.  Cleaning the car meant the stereo was in full blast listening to James Ingram’s One Hundred ways.  Mr. Ingram gives his all out advice for date night.  (more on the date itself on the next article)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dare to Wear

Admit it, there are pieces of clothing or accessories that you want to wear but do not have the balls to put on.  Perhaps it is that bow tie that you purchased at Saks but have not worn since you bought it years ago?  
Bow ties, bow ties galore but not enough cojones to wear them as often as we want.
Maybe it is a pair of black and white spectator shoes your best friend gave you on his last trip to London?   
Black and white Spectators by Alfred Sargent given by my buddy Homer.
Is it the fear of crossing the thin line between great clothes and costumes?  Is it that nice piece of apparel or accessory that when added into your daily wardrobe makes you look like a poster boy of a bygone era?  Granted, the 1930’s and the 1940’s were arguably the best eras for men’s clothing, but strictly following the footsteps of Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and our very own Rogelio de la Rosa may make you look like you got buried even before you started living.
Rogelio de la Rosa, Philippine movie icon and perhaps one of the best dressed men of his generation.  Note the stylish pinkie ring.  Mr. de la Rosa is photographed here with leading lady Carmen Rosales (photo from Video48 site).
  This is a section of the blog that centers on pieces of classic apparel and accessories that give you that extra edge. In the same spirit, we wish to give advice so that you do not cross the fine line of style versus anachronism.  May you be that guy that you always look up to because he has the guts to wear what he wears.  As the Americans would say, it's that "fuck you" outfit that elicits admiration by sheer bravado. To paraphrase the great  Obi Wan Kenobi, "may the balls be with you!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

About the Masters of the Inconvenient

     Alex, Billy and I think that style is inherently inconvenient.  Let us take you through a few but poignant examples of style’s inconvenience.  
For one, writing with a fountain pen.  The use of a fountain pen is thought to showcase one’s penmanship and individuality but often times leave smudges of ink in your hand.  This does not take into account the occasional ink squirt in your hard bought English dress shirt (you’re doubly dead if it is Thomas Pink).  Another is driving a vintage car, while seemingly a picturesque proposition (think Brideshead Revisited), it will oftentimes leave you (literally, trust us) in the curb or shoulder of the road.  Having style or at least trying to have style entails a proportionate or disproportionate amount of inconvenience.  This blog is all about the stylish items in life that carry inconveniences and whether or not they are worth it.

The 1980's Macho band "Hagibis"
Finally, the other theme of this blog is characterized by the cacophony of the raves and ranting of three guys and contributors in their early forties who were children in Manila during the 70’s and teenagers in the 80’s.  Manila Generation Xers perhaps better alluded to as the Hagibis generation.  So, if you are looking for a central theme you might not get one. Just enjoy the blog and as the players in the play Pippin would say, “come and waste an hour or two”.