Why Yesterday I Didn’t Wear Pants

I’ll be honest. Last year wasn’t a great one. 2014, while it didn’t kick my ass across the room like 2013 did, did have more lows than highs, and in general it just wasn’t great.

There were of course, moments of greatness – like getting to spend some time in Paris with a very dear friend who I hadn’t seen in FAR too long. Also, getting to know my newest niece. Cause even at just over a year old, she’s pretty frakking amazing. And a couple of people came into my life or became bigger parts of it, who I now can’t imagine my world without.

But then again, there was the severe lack of employment, leading to a severe lack of funds, leading to a questioning of myself, what I do and my talents for doing it, and just generally putting me in a head space that wasn’t only unhealthy but downright destructive at times. I had a few medical problems, some rather serious, that had to be dealt with. Those weren’t fun. And paying for them isn’t going to be fun for quite some time I imagine.

But that’s all behind me now – at least as much as it can be for the time being. And as the new year started recently, I started looking at the things I wanted to change in my life, my work and my relationships. The news year’s resolutions started to form, though I really hate the term “resolutions.” Resolutions, for me aren’t a thing that you should measure. They are just things you do. And they shouldn’t be started under the pretense of New Year’s or for any other reason that begins with social pressure to “make yourself better.”

Instead, I set myself GOALS at the onset of a new year. Goals are tangible. Goals have a definitive success level that can be measured. When you reach a goal, you can see the result and say “Hey, I did that. That’s good.”

I have five this year. The first four are indeed personal and rather normal. They are the boring ones – paying off of credit cards, going on a specific vacation I’ve been wanting to take for ages, lose the weight I put on due to my medical problems last year… you know, the usual bullshit sorts of things that people talk about. But then there is the last one. And this specific goal is the one that made me take off my pants in public yesterday.

I WILL, AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH, DO SOMETHING NEW THAT IS WELL OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE.

(Honestly, I hope I do these things more than once a month, but I figure once a month is a good starting point.)

So I did it. One down, eleven more to go. Yesterday, along with over 100 other people, I took off my pants and rode around all day on the Los Angeles metro. And I liked it.

I participated for the first time in an annual event simply called the “No Pants Subway Ride.” It is organized one day a year spanning 59 cities in 29 countries and I can tell you, it’s a blast.

I arrived at our meeting point, where there were a varied group of people of all styles and subcultures standing around sort of aimlessly, until we all started asking each other “Are you here for the no pants ride?” At some point, about 15 minutes before we all headed into the actual metro station, someone announced that it was time to de-pants. And we did. Some straight off with no issues, and some of us (I assuming the other newbies like myself) taking an extra beat before pulling off our outerwear.

But then, there it was. A group of mostly total strangers all standing around in our underwear. Some wore costumes, some made outfits out of their underthings, some had themes, and some, like myself, just didn’t have on any pants. Which is sort of the point. The idea of the mission is to act like there is nothing off or wrong or different about not wearing pants. We were instructed to get on the train in small groups. To act as if this was just a normal day on the train.

So we did. Several times, the friends I was with were asked why they weren’t wearing anything below the belt – particularly because they were specifically dressed in Hogwarts uniforms sans pants. One of them just pretended she’d forgotten them. The other blamed his lack of trousers on a spell gone wrong. I just looked at the questioning parties as if I had no idea what they were talking about.

But that was just part of the fun. Now, I’m no prude by any means. I will wear the tiniest of skirts to a nightclub without batting an eyelash. In that environment, I am totally comfortable. But this was not a nightclub. This was not an expected venue for the outfits (and lack of them) that were seen and worn. Which is what I feared would take me out of my comfort zone. And it did. For a little while. But not for as long as I thought it would. The sheer absurdity of being in a group of people all walking around without their pants on in the middle of Los Angeles – at Union Station, on Hollywood Boulevard, was brilliant. And un-surprisingly freeing. To be honest, I lost all self-consciousness in minutes.

Also, not surprising, was the friendliness with which everyone greeted each other. It’s hard to throw attitude when your junk is on display, unprotected by nothing by thin cotton panties, teeny tiny briefs or form hugging shorts. If that’s all it takes to break down cultural strata, maybe we should all go pants-less more often.

I could try to wax on about the day and how life changing it was, but the truth is that it wasn’t that. It was just exactly what it was supposed to be – a brilliantly fun day, and after the subway riding portion of the day ended, my friends and I adjourned to the Pig-n-Whistle for some beers and burgers until it was time to put our pants back on and head home. And I did accomplish what I had set out to do – I did something new that took me out of my comfort zone. I highly suggest that everyone try to do that more often.

With this goal in mind, already I feel like even if this year isn’t overall better than last, at least it’s going to be a hell of a lot more fun.

Me with the No Pants representatives from Hogwarts.

Me with the No Pants representatives from Hogwarts.

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Part of my favorite no pants clan – a Star Wars group. A Stormtrooper, an Ewok, Han Solo, Darth Vader and even a Wampa – all without pants.

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The crowd with no pants heads up to Hollywood Boulevard.

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Just a normal day on the metro… without pants.

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That’s Not An Exhibit, That’s What’s In My Living Room

As a member of LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), every few weeks, I check their website to see what new exhibits are coming up. I try to go at least once a month for a wander through my old favorites in the Broad Contemporary Art Building. Usually, there’s a few interesting exhibits to wander through and most often, given my career path, I get excited when a new photography exhibit comes through. (Though, I have to say I CANNOT wait for the Tim Burton exhibit in May.)

Today was no different. An otherwise non-eventful Saturday afternoon, this is exactly when I usually go. I’d seen on the website listing for an exhibit of photographer Larry Fink’s journalistic portraiture. I was intrigued by the description. I’d of course heard of Larry Fink before, and I knew he had a long career snapping portraits and his many times was the only camera allowed inside the legendary Vanity Fair Oscar Parties. His career spans over 40 years and I was thrilled to see the possibilities of what his lens might have captured. So this afternoon, I asked a friend and fellow photographer to join me up there to check it out.

What was billed on the website as an “exhibit” was a huge disappointment. For a man whose work spans 40 years, the portraits included only cover 9 of those years. And to be honest, it looked to me like almost all of the images pulled for this were from the same year and party. And the number of images was ridiculous. I’d say there were about 18 images in total. That was it. Forty years of a career, 9 years of material to pull from and the artist didn’t even take the time to pull 2 dozen images? Who does that?

Though, seeing some of the images in their intended silver gelatin print form, rather than in digital or printed in a book was nice. And the prints were beautifully done – at the least the gelatin prints were. There were also a number of inkjet prints, I assume from digital images, but they looked off – both in colour and contrast. They were a bit green to be honest. Having worked with a photographer who did a large number of inkjet prints for a gallery show all from digital, I know that this is an avoidable issue, so I can only assume either he didn’t have time to double check them or just didn’t care enough to do a proper job on colour correction on his prints.

The only thing about the show that I did enjoy was this one image of Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Kid Rock sitting together at one of the parties. Just the juxtaposition of these three icons of media got my attention.

As for the rest, the only thing that made the images interesting was the subject matter. A few years back, some friends and I were discussing the book project that another photographer we knew was putting together. He was focusing on doing lighting techniques in the book, but the images used as example were all images of celebrities. And the question put forward was “If it wasn’t a celebrity in the photograph, would it STILL be an interesting image?”

For most of the work that I saw yesterday at the Larry Fink exhibit at LACMA, the answer is sadly, No. I felt like we were walking through a hallway of a grand home. It was wall art. For the size of it, for the subject matter and the way it was presented, I’d have to say that this wasn’t an exhibition, it was a vanity piece.