Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Fashion alert on Geary and Masonic, San Francisco

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | May 30, 2007 3:08 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: fashion sense, public transportation, San Francisco, skinny jeans

I'm on the bus, surrounded by someone's terrible perfume closing my nostrils even on this glorious foggy day. Who is the culprit -- is it the woman in front of me, Dior glasses with coffee brown overcoat and matching headband, or the woman next to me who left her keys somewhere, that's what she's telling the person on the phone, please don't forget to bring my keys. But she's a little more on the alternative side, thriftstore cowboy shirt but I'm not sure about the rest of the outfit -- she's too close to scan the details.

Oh, wait -- that's not perfume, someone is wearing a whole scented candle, plum or grape or something -- maybe it is the woman next to me, but when she's getting ready to leave I realize actually she's more high-end than Miss Dior, quilted leather Chanel bag that looks like it might actually be real, her hair tied into a bun, skintight designer jeans and white-and-brown wingtip-hybrid things with heels that are delicate and sturdy, understated matte in the expensive shoe kind of way. She leaves, and there goes the scented candle, but the guy who takes her place smells like a mixture of smoke and soap, like the two are competing, smoke pulling in front of soap no soap takes the lead oh - a brutal fall -- smoke out ahead!

Meanwhile, this guy gets on who's aging gracefully, blue eyes that match his navy quilted hooded jacket, at first I clock him for a fag because of the way he looks me in the eyes, or maybe just the eyes -- I like his eyes -- but I'm not sure about the baggy Levi's gas station attendant jeans -- you know, the ones that look like they were acid-washed with oil. He's got the Asics sneakers with orange crisscross on navy, I guess he's into navy, yes he's the kind of guy who's into navy, although I can also see him working brown. Speaking of brown, it turns out that Miss Dior is carrying a Coach bag, the monogram one, brown and tan. But the true fashion alert occurs at Geary and Masonic: skaters in skinny jeans! Not the mod jeans skaters used to wear back in the day, but those terrible lycra zip-up things making the fashion casualty rounds these days -- skinny jeans with big floppy fratboy hair, Geary and Masonic, you heard it here first.

Mattilda blogs at

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"at first I clock him for a fag because of the way he looks me in the eyes..."
Wow, that's rather offensive to me, Mattilda. Buck is a few posts down getting browbeaten for calling Britney Spears a "skank," and you're up here calling a guy you think might be gay a "fag."

I have to say, with the various conversations that have happened on the site about "That's so gay" and "queer," almost everyone thought that "fag" or "faggot" was offensive. I'm very surprised that you would say that. Why would you?

I'm just curious as to why you would choose to use that language... I just defended Buck's choice of words, and I'd defend yours to the end of time too; we all have freedom of speech. (Not to mention that sometimes I think - as I said in the comments on Buck's post - we all take ourselves waaaaaaay to seriously around here!)

So let's turn this into a real discussion on the word, "fag." Acceptable? Not? Why or why not?

That's a funny story.

I dunno, Bil. I really don't have a problem with queers using the word "fag". I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that I take it in a different context depending on who it's coming from, since it is an attack from one group of people on another, but from within, unless it's explicitly used as an epithet, it's kinda hard to conjure up that sort of victimization.

Wow, that justification is soaked in ID politics. Maybe that's b/c I'm Latino, haha. Now I am curious as to the post-ID politics justification for using that word. Maybe I don't understand what not believing in ID politics really means...

Oh, hilarious -- I love the word faggot, it's probably the primary word I use to describe myself -- along with queen, that is. Or, as I say in my introduction to Nobody Passes, "I identify as a genderqueer faggot and a queen, which means I'm on the transgender continuum, in the genderblur, genderbending section. I use female pronouns and present as femme, but I'm not necessarily invested in people see me as either 'male' or 'female.' Rather, I'd like to create something more delectable and devious."

I also like faggot because it's a threat -- I like being a threat.

So when I say "at first I clock him for a fag," I mean that at first I think he goes to my church, as someone much else might say.

And thanks, Alex, for the clarification -- as for "post-identity politics," that's not how I would frame myself (although press materials have said otherwise) -- I think identity politics are a great starting point from which to take on the world, the problem is when people take an identity as an endpoint, that's how we see the nightmare of gay assimilation where the ultimate signs a straight conformity -- marriage, military service, adoption, ordination into the priesthood, etc. -- are seen as the ultimate signs of gay or "LGBT" success, while issues like housing, healthcare, fighting police brutality, etc. are thrown in the trash.

Yeah, well I got the impression of the post-ID politics not just from your press material, but also from rejection of neat categories of "gay", etc. I suppose there can be a newer ID politics, a politics of "queer" as opposed to any specific group that would get labeled as "queer"....

But I honestly don't see how ID politics can lead to conformity... unless it gets hijacked by those who are already living in relative privilege over the rest of the people who haev ben assimilated into that identity. I've always seen it as something too radical for establishment queers to get too invested in, but then again now that I'm thinking about it they often do become obsessed with defining the essential aspects of gay identity (going to Fire Island, listening to bad diva music, caring about celebs) and then turn around and say that they're like everyone else, mainly because they just see the gay men who are like them around them and assume that they can describe everyone else based on a very specific cultural group. Like how Andrew Sullivan used his position as a wealthy American to declare that the epidemic was over in 1995 because he could afford expensive drugs to prolong his life, and thus rhetorically erased the many more problems that seropositive people face when they are poor or not American.

OK, I'm rambling. But I think I get your point, but I don't think that ID politics are really implicated. It seems more like a repetition of everything that's been going on before, just with a few new words and ideas to go with it.