Do you even…

It’s that time of year again. Millions of obnoxious American children find themselves with Christmas money still leftover, even after buying that Lamborghini in the right shade of Pacific Atoll Blue. What to do with the surplus? Invest it? Charity? Give remarkably generous tips? Of course not. That money would be better spent on Che Guevara t-shirts.

Wouldn’t I be so totally groovy (or whatever the kids are saying these days) in that shirt? No. No you would not be so totally groovy. I’m willing to bet more than half of those who wear the shirt even know his name, even less know when he lived, and close to no one knows his beliefs, and if they did, certainly wouldn’t wear the shirt. Wearing that Che shirt, then, is like imitating a cough of someone else’s cold with the belief that that will make you sick. The high blood pressure I get every time someone attempts to be “counterculture,” is a genuine medical health risk. Therefore, in order to spare the sanity of thousands, and possibly my life, I’ve composed a guide on when it’s acceptable (but mostly when it’s not) to wear a Che t-shirt.

Are you a Communist-sympathiser, or at the very least believe in certain socialist principles, and admire the pragmatic methods Che took to implement them?

You should be embarrassed at thinking of supporting that mainstream capitalist oppression with your consumerist buying of mass-produced t-shirts. 

Do you think Che is his first name?

Might I suggest a plain gray t-shirt instead?

Are you a middle-class American? Do you like to think of yourself as “counter-culture?” Do you pride yourself on a standardized rejection of your parent’s socio-economic mores, without regard to these mores placement or compatibility within  your, “ideology?”

You’re what’s wrong with America.

Do you like his face?

It’s probably okay for you to buy it. 

He does have nice eyebrows...

He does have nice eyebrows…

There–the first comprehensive guide to when wearing an Ernesto Che Guevara t-shirt (note: your learning of his first name in no way qualifies you to wear the t-shirt). Please, the internet’s access to endless world markets, and consequent availability of Che t-shirts, should not be used to endorse quasi-Marxist revolutionaries you know nothing about.

The Excuse for Everything

We’ve all been there (maybe we all haven’t. What’s important is that have) – standing in front of some item in a department store, an item somewhat controversial to the existing social order within your group of acquaintances or perhaps society in general. You worry not so much about the price or its practicality, but with how friends, strangers, and Jim the Walmart greeter will judge you if you suddenly showed up one day with such an item. Maybe you bought the item and were judged horribly, exiled from society, and  forced to move to Lhasa and become a Buddhist monk. Thankfully, in these advanced times, no one will ever have to endure a lifetime of chanting sutras and cold heads in the high Tibetan Plateaus because of a salesman assuring you that that plaid jacket and leather pants “just look terrific!” on you.

Are you kidding? Corsets are definitely in right now.

Are you kidding? Corsets are definitely in right now.

How can this be?! you ask, wiping a joyful tear from your eye. With irony. Now, whatever decision you make that would otherwise incur ridicule and shame upon you and possibly merit complete banishment from civilization can be handily explained by the sentence: “I’m doing it ironically.” Stripes and plaid? Irony. Cat with Buddy Holly glasses t-shirt? Irony. Mass human sacrifice? Irony.*

*Warning: “I was doing it ironically” is not a valid alibi in court for slaughtering thousands to make the sun rise.

Calm down haven't you ever seen irony before?

Calm down haven’t you ever seen irony before?

The convention of doing things “ironically,” is essentially a deliberate engaging in an either commonly scorned, overly popular, or ridiculously outdated custom, fully aware of the negative opinion associated with it, in an attempt to showcase one’s complex and vibrant personality, to let free the true individual struggling to escape the confines of their self-doubting soul, through….wearing leg-warmers, apparently. Anyway, regardless of its actual meaning, the socially awkward can capitalize on the phenomenon and free themselves from embarrassment with that magic excuse: “I’m doing it ironically.”

Examples of irony are abundant in modern culture. Take those Buddy Holly glasses I mentioned earlier (the uncultured fool would call them “nerd” glasses). Now these big-rimmed, thick glasses have, for decades, been

It's okay kids. There'll be other dreams.

It’s okay kids. There’ll be other dreams.

associated with nerds, so much so that even a polo-playing, billionaire with a British accent with such glasses could never get a date. But now modern culture has adopted these glasses into the mainstream, almost erasing their original, less-desireable associations along with the hopes and dreams of thousands of would-be Buddy Holly look-alikes. Will this new popularity, and consequent non-ironicy, force Buddy-Holly-glasses wearer into a more drastic representation of the nerd? Will people be encouraging acne, total knowledge of ever Lord of the Rings character, and lack of athletic ability? If so, I’ll be very popular in the next few years.

P.S. – There’s only one thing that cannot be excused with that wonderful irony: crocs. I don’t care if your great-grandfather on his deathbed gave them to you. Crocs are not okay.

Unlocking the Llama Herder Within You

As much as I wish this was a self-help article for finding a propensity within your character to breed and maintain light South American pack animals, it is, unfortunately, only a pathetic ploy to attract your average Peruvian expatriate feeling isolated and lonely in America to click.

It's like a mirror to your inner self.

It’s like a mirror to your inner self.

Have no fear, though, you little lost ancestor of the Inca! This article contains far more stereotypes of your culture for you to laugh at. Well, maybe. I’ve always felt South America is such a large resource that has never been tapped by bigots for hurtful stereotypes, they instead opting for the cliche semi-racist ones of today. It shouldn’t surprise me that bigots aren’t creative.

But if this post isn’t about discovering your inner shepherding abilities, what is it about? One word: ponchos.

For awhile now the ‘poncho,’ i.e. a big sweater with a half-hearted attempt at cutting the sides, has been floating around female fashion, not quite alternative, but not exactly mainstream (and not quite a poncho either). However, it’s my firm belief that this is changing, or at the very least is at a supreme point to do so.

And not just in female fashion — the true poncho (not just a big mutilated sweater) is one of those rare, quality garments that can be unisex without also destroying the gender of the person. This opens its potential wearers to a perfect 100% of the world population.

The fashion industry, much like history (well, exactly like history), repeats itself over and over again. Like cardigans and old-style dresses, the poncho, too, is making a comeback after waiting 442 years since that awful when Francisco Pizarro made ponchos “totally passé.”

But wait! you say. Ponchos were never really a part of American or even Western culture, so it’s not really making a comeback as much as it just being introduced. Right? No, it’s making a comeback.  Why? Because I’m writing the blog not you, and they don’t just give blogs to anybody.

Regardless of terminology, the poncho is one of those garments that has the potential to become mainstream, as the gentle beauty of my well-crafted, completely logical arguments will softly guide you to see.

Reason Number One: It works in many climates, especially the “hip” and “trendy” West Coast cities. It’s breathable and open enough so as not to overheat you on warm days, but encompassing and thick enough to fend off a chill in the air or a brisk breeze. People won’t wear things if it’s a huge inconvenience, and the poncho is the antithesis for the western United States (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, etc.) Now is this poncho ideal for states like my own Wisconsin? Not exactly. But the prospect of spicing up a mundane, Packers-dominated existence with the latest fashion from, to use again the only adjectives the media knows how to use in situations like these, “hip” and “trendy” cities is worth losing all your digits to frostbite.

The new face of fashion.

The new face of fashion.

Reason Number Two:  It’s infinitely customizable. Want your poncho bright orange with a picture of your uncle Dan on it? Why the hell not. By virtue of the poncho’s form, it has wide open spaces in which you can put just about anything. And not just pictures of your relatives (why would you even consider that, you freak). Stripes, plaid, geometric designs, ironic triangles, what have you. Fashion designers can have a potential field day.

Reason Number Three: In science, when theories are competing for supremacy, there is a logical tendency to opt for the simpler of the choices. This simple theory is called, “elegant.” In a world where coats are filled with zippers, hidden pockets, hand warmer compartments and detachable hoods, left beside it is the simple poncho. As Demetri Martin explains, with scissors and a blanket he’s two minutes away from a poncho. Yeah, so the poncho is a blanket with a hole in it. But according to science, this makes it better than that newfangled Thinsulate and not-dying-from-hypothermia technology.

Watson & Crick's model of DNA pales in comparison to the elegance of the poncho.

Watson & Crick’s model of DNA pales in comparison to the elegance of the poncho.

Reason Number Four: That one guy you know who bikes everywhere and asks if you like to make children suffer just so you can wear Nike shoes has one.  So many currently fashionable trends were borne from the hipster movement (most notably, faded, torn jeans), and this mainstream appropriation of hipster clothing won’t stop soon. So be ahead of the trend! Buy a poncho, and take pictures of yourself holding dated newspapers so you can prove to your friends later you liked them before they were cool.

Pre-Columbian? Oh, so it's vintage.

Pre-Columbian? Cool–vintage.

Reason Number Five: I don’t have a reason number five, but the Chinese think four is unlucky, and it’s a scientifically proven fact that any culture that invented the wheelbarrow is always spot on with its superstitions.

But if the reasons above don’t convince you, let me change your mind with possibly the most persuasive one: I have a poncho. Yes, I, obvious fashion guru (credentials: sometimes I wear jeans, with an untucked dress shirt), and author of Ironic Poncho, is sporting a poncho whilst he meanders the aisles of Whole Foods, looking for a fair trade organic South American blend coffee. So get yourself a poncho, even if the blood of the Andes doesn’t course through your veins as deep and clear as the waters of Lake Titicaca. When you get one, I suggest re-reading this article in the same way I wrote it: with your favorite coffee in your hand and poncho majestically donned, amusedly shaking your head between sips at the thought of those poor, poncho-less masses who aren’t nearly as cultured and current as you.