Tag Archives: Las Vegas

don’t call that vintage:snaps

25 Mar

My designer friends would probably tell you that the resurfacing of the 70s and 80s aesthetic sensibility is so five years ago, but I am aware of it now, so I’ll just say that it’s “new.”  Maybe it’s because I realized my son is closer to the age of 21 than I am (oh, *&%$!) Maybe it’s because I visited a Swatch store on vacation, I don’t know, but I am seeing pieces of my childhood resurface in the oddest of places. Only now, the hipster at American Apparel is telling me it’s ironic, and fresh, fashion-forward, but still, gulp…vintage.

Every generation nods with a wink at a generation or two from before. I wore John Lennon glasses for a while, and for no reason. Maybe it’s fine for the kids who are enjoying it the first time around, but isn’t there some kind of rule preventing me from whole-heartedly embracing dingy bad photos and questionable shoulderpads, because I lived through them already? Maybe.

I’d like to welcome you to part 1 in my blog mini-series. “Don’t call that Vintage – I bought that new.”

I am about a year late to the hipstamatic party, but I am completely hooked on taking early 1980’s photos with my smart phone, which I realize is weird on about 7 different levels. I posted some of my work (may I call them “pieces?”) on Facebook, and almost immediately got a snarky remark, from a favorite snarky remark giver – a college freshman currently living across the country.

“Someone just discovered the hipstamatic app,” she wrote.

I had, and it was a problem, and I knew that.

I was lounging around in quarantine AGAIN with a flu-ridden kid when I downloaded the app to my phone. Hipstamatic takes what would be a perfectly good photo, and subjects it to vintage film, lens and flash effects. The kid with the flu was actually the one subjected – to me taking multiple photos of him sitting on the couch, taking a nap, watching tv, or pretending to take a nap in the vain attempt to get me to perhaps go away.

I showed John my results, and he nodded. After about the 10th oddly lit and grainy shot, he sweetly said, “They’ve made many advancements in photography, you know. On purpose. Pictures are much better now.”

“I know, I know. But look how gritty it is. It looks like the 70’s.”

“But why would you want it to look like the 70’s? The 70’s really didn’t look very good. We knew that while the 70’s were happening. And we were kids.”

When we met up with some old friends at a Starbucks (sure it was a Starbucks in Las Vegas) I showed them my handiwork. Megan was nice enough to play along with me. I’d snap one, and then we’d quickly look at it, critiquing each shot…the flash, the composition, and how our hair looked. Our husbands looked at each other, rolling their eyes the way only grown men and 12-year-old girls can, and went back to talking about basketball.

Other than the photo of a “Tigers Love Pepper” t-shirt, the rest of my Las Vegas photos were taken this way, as were the bowling photos a couple of days later when parents from our church went out for a high-brow night on the town. There is something about Las Vegas and bowling that seem to be the perfect vehicles for gritty, grainy images, and face-distorting lighting.

After 11 grueling minutes of Internet research, the dormant cub reporter in me was intrigued to find out that there is actually a backstory to the hipstamatic craze. (I will call it a craze, because I am currently very interested in it, though I don’t actually have any research to back up its popularity. Apparently, I am currently not that thorough of a cub reporter.) There is even a touch of controversy and a hint of burgeoning urban legend. Suppooooosedly, two brothers manufactured a handful of all-plastic hipstamatic cameras in 1982, that were inspired by Kodak’s instamatic cameras. The brothers were tragically killed in a car accident a short time later, and nearly all of their photos were lost in a housefire in the early 90’s. The story goes that a third surviving brother strives to continue Hipstamatic photography to cement his brothers’ legacies and further the artform that they loved.  However, conspiracy theorists boasting more than 11 minutes of Internet research claim that no such story can be substantiated, and that it is a clever marketing ploy designed specifically for suckers like me, and kids being ironic.

Whatever the story, I love these ridiculous pictures. 1980’s flash does wonders for my vintage skin.

Three of the four photos above are from my camera. The other one is legit. (Hint: my mom’s pants are also legit.) The one with the female humans (girls? ladies? moms? women? that’s a whole different issue) is me and my friend Megan (she’s the adorable pixie on the right). We’re waiting for the fountains at the Bellagio entertaining ourselves while our husbands rolled their eyes. Again.

the terminal

8 Nov

I fly some. Not a lot, but some. Usually not very far and there has never been a passport involved. That will change someday, I’m confident. And hopefully on the other end there will be either insane sunsets and tropical breezes, or scones and Big Ben. I’m certainly not complaining. I will never complain about flying to New York, or Las Vegas, or to Lubbock where they have the…coziest….airport I have ever seen. Not when there is an amazing friend waiting 11 feet from the gate to pick you up. ( think I could have almost tapped her on the shoulder in the official waiting area from my seat on the plane.) Yes, I’ve become pretty adept at fitting magazines, books and gum in my purse, putting my license where I can grab it and strategically wearing slip on shoes.

OK, so I’ve also been known to be the harried and disorganized looking woman at the security gate that makes you roll your eyes and ask the person next to you, “do you think she’s ever flown before?” But I swear it’s not my fault. This belt is practically part of these pants. I wasn’t aware my knee brace is held together by something that looks like a scythe. I didn’t know you’re not allowed to have too much change in your wallet. Did you know that? I did not know that. But I found that out when the nice TSA lady had to put on a rubber glove to go through my change purse.

I know about the liquid thing, but I forget how often I have a bottle of water at the bottom of my gargantuan handbag. I don’t talk back or get snarky when they speak slowly to remind me that I cannot take that on the plane. I just apologize profusely and chuck it into the recycling bin left there for the adorably forgetful and oblivious. When we flew to San Diego for a conference last week, we saw a guy chug a liter of Diet Coke so he wouldn’t have to put it in that bin. A liter! Like the kind you take warm to a staff lunch or a picnic that you really didn’t have the energy to bake brownies for. He looked like he was going to throw up when he was done, so I secretly hoped he was not going to be sitting next to me.

While I may work hard at projecting the image that flying is a mundane exercise that one must endure to get somewhere cool, there is still the 5-year-old girl in there somewhere who finds the process pretty glamorous and cosmopolitan. Have you seen “Catch Me if You Can”? If you haven’t, you have to. It captures the golden age of air travel like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s wearing a hat, and the ladies have scarves, heels, and red lipstick. Pilots are suave and revered and, as you will find out by watching this movie, can get away with anything. And going to the airport was a big deal.

I nonchalantly hook myself up to the airport wi-fi as if I do it every day, but in the inside I am high-fiving myself. I’m trying hard not to hop onto Facebook to update, “I’m at the airport! Me! At the airport!”  or “Guess who I just ran into at the airport!” or “Wow, the airport is crazy today!” 

John also looks nonchalant from the outside, but I think he feels that way for real. Like many of you, he has about a gazillion miles logged.  He’s traveled on one of the longest flights on Earth multiple times. (I said a gazillion for emphasis, but when I said one of the longest flights on Earth, I was being serious – JFK-Johannesburg.) As adept as I am at selecting, packing, and reading magazines, he’s actually honed the art of sitting and staring. He can actually just zone out for sport. When we climbed on board the short jaunt to San Diego however, his eyes lit up when he spotted a new issue of Sky Mall. He may have, under his breath, referred to it as his favorite periodical.

There are many of you who fit into this obscenely well-traveled category…who fly weekly or monthly, and to locales that I’ve never heard of. I know when it is such a regular part of your life, there is the inevitable drudgery of delays and cancellations and the person next to you who won’t stop talking (shockingly, that is NOT me – can you believe it? I am not an airplane talker!) The excitement must wear off, and you stop looking at everybody and wondering where they are going or where they have been. You probably have a favorite airport.

I do. Other than SFO, I would have to pick McCarran in Las Vegas and JFK in New York. Las Vegas purely for sociological research. This is the one airport on Earth where you can tell who is going and who is arriving just by looking at them; the faces full of hope and promise vs. the cloudy eyes that reflect defeat and a killer headache.

We landed in JFK on our first trip to New York. It smelled exactly how I imagined it to – It was utilitarian and kind of dirty and reminded me of that show Night Court that was on in the 80’s, and the old opening for Saturday Night Live where the city looked gritty, but exciting. Everybody at the baggage carousel seemed to be planted there for my benefit…the “Welcome to New York, F-you” package. The accents were almost as thick as the air, and I’ve never heard so much simultaneous swearing in my life. I tried to contain my traitorous giggle and keep my eyes down for they were surely full of wonder & delight and would quickly give me away as a non-New Yorker.

The last time John was at JFK he and a handful of adults had to usher 55 kids through customs on the way to Africa and as the last one through he was stopped for the full search which caused him to sprint to the plane only to make it to his seat as the doors were closing. SFO-San Diego with just your wife and a carry-on may not hold the same sense of challenge and adventure. Unless your wife has $11 dollars worth of dimes, a built in belt, half a bottle of Aquafina and a knee brace.

The jet-setting feeling of air travel goes away though when you are standing barefoot, arms in the air above your head in the full body scanner machine. Having your full body scanned (or body fully scanned – I don’t know which is less disturbing) while a bunch of barefoot strangers watch, does not feel very glamorous after all.

land of plenty

15 Sep

I finally got the photos off my camera. Easter’s on there. The last day of school. The first day of school, and everything in between which includes two different rounds of the boys’ haircuts and our official summer family vacation.

Like many a vacation tale, it started off a little iffy before it oozed into what would be a lazy, sun-drenched, donut-filled extravaganza. The first ½ hour was a little touch-and-go, what with driving out of the garage with the back hatch still open (hello vacation cliché!), Zachary dropping a ketchupy hamburger open faced onto the floor of the car, and John and I digging furiously in the console for the bridge toll transponder that was sitting safely on the hutch at home.

I was already apprehensive. Last year’s “vacation” was almost the end of me. It was two weeks on the road, driving through various deserty landscapes of the west. The boys fought constantly… to the point where I threatened to have taxi glass installed in the car when we got to Vegas. Oh yes, Vegas – a favorite destination of years past, but now where we had to answer an endless barrage of questions about the lady butts on every billboard, and what exactly  people were drinking out of the giant test tubes and plastic guitars. And why, in the pirate show, were the dozen bikini clad lady pirates holding that one poor man pirate hostage?

Then of course there was the great Bellagio buffet incident of 09 – where on top of me allowing the boys to maintain Vegas hours and walk amongst booze swilling pirate bikini fans, I ok’d at one of the ritziest buffets in town, a plate of sushi, a large coke, and a ginormous slice of hazelnut cake for our then 8-year-old. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about how that unfolded. I will say it ended with a mad dash across the restaurant, and us slinking out under the cover of darkness with John muttering something about the absence of a paper trail, and the unfortunate lady in the white pants.

As we high-tailed it out of town the next morning we told the boys to take a good look, because there was no way we were bringing them back to Las Vegas before they turned 21.

That was last year. This year of course, our plans for a variety of reasons included Las Vegas. Haven’t you had a trip, for reasons outside of your control, ended up including Las Vegas? I thought so. But you can understand my hesitancy as I prepared for this year’s trip. Two weeks again. Vegas again.

Las Vegas usually brings out the quirks in people, no surprise. Even outside of the seven deadlies…which probably, technically aren’t quirks. Ok, maybe gluttony is a quirk. The long-running joke in my house is my wacky and adorable scarcity mentality, and in La Vegas it comes out something fierce. Now this is actually very exasperating to me, because it is in direct contradiction with my own faith where there is an endless supply of grace, and love, and blessings and forgiveness. But, I’m fairly certain I would have been one of those Israelites traipsing through the desert, yammering into Moses’ ear about manna this, and manna that and getting a good spot to set up my sleeping mat for the night, because the desert, with all these people, feels scrunched.

The thought of going to the Las Vegas hotel pool any time past 10 am gives me the shakes. I’m certain we’ll never get a beach chair, and I’ll be left to wander around with armloads of books and towels and sunscreen, my kids trailing behind already wearing their goggles; roaming in between the oiled, tanned and hung over, like an agitated ghost in a sun hat, unable to find an eternal resting place. The joy of finding a chair, even one chair to share with three other people is just almost too much to bear. Suddenly that one little chair is the promised land. And you don’t care that you’re going to get splashed or burnt or maybe no sun at all. Because it’s yours. You earned it. And you’re not leaving ‘til dark.

Or until the buffet opens at 4:00. Now if your kid isn’t throwing up at the buffet, that’s the happiest spot in Vegas. Unfortunately, it’s the other place my scarcity mentality rears its ugly head. John rolls his eyes, but appeases my desire to get to the buffet the moment they open the doors. I try to compromise and allow a 4:30 arrival. Of course, the line is a monster, filled with people who will flat out tell us we are too young to be eating at 4:30.

I stand there in line fidgeting, looking over the little ladies in front of me without even standing on my toes, trying to sneak a peek at the dining room.

John looks at me, and sighs because he can read my mind.

“They are NOT going to run out of shrimp….(brow furrow)…or crab legs.”

This is always when I spy someone practically skipping back to their table with a plate in each hand – one piled high with shrimp, the other with crab legs. My brow goes back to the furrow.

“Colleen, they will NOT run out of shrimp. This is Las Vegas, they know what they are doing.”

I nod tentatively, but really don’t relax until I’m the one skipping back to the table with my shrimp, trying not to make eye contact with the people in line who are of course, eyeing my impressive shellfish haul.

I’m curious when I’ll learn. Because I’m never right. We always find a seat, and I always eat so much that I feel gross, in a good way. In fact my unfounded concerns are so rarely realized that I do that dumb thing, where you almost hope you don’t find a chair, just so you can feel justified in your unjustifiable concerns. Another quirk.