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Crack and crochet

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The Observer and friend were dining out at their favorite local pizza and beer joint over the weekend and were unfortunately seated at the least desirable table in the house, directly across from the restrooms. Generally not one to complain about such indignities, we were much more bothered by the sight of the doughy lower back and butt crack of the man seated across the aisle. Now, we're no strangers to ladies wearing low-slung jeans, sometimes with a wide swath of underpants concealing the portion of torso that jeans these days just aren't cut to cover, but it's rare to see a gentleman sporting that look. It was unsettling to see a man so laissez-faire about his midsection being exposed. Somewhere along the way, it seems, clothing has deviated from its original purpose of covering our bodies for protection and warmth, and fashion has become art.

Maybe The Observer has gotten a bit long in the tooth, but the outfits we see young people wearing just don't make sense. We've seen skirts you can't sit down in without risking obscenity charges, dresses made of sheer mesh and held together with nothing but sequins and prayer. We have marveled at the persistence of jorts — those ridiculously long shorts made of jeans that seem to be some disturbing form of capris for men. Who thinks these "styles" are fashionable? Do consumers blindly follow media superstars like the Kardashians and the cast of "Jersey Shore?" We wish that more folks around here took their fashion cues from "Mad Men."

The last few years have brought about a resurgence of vintage and retro clothing for the ladies, and basically what we're saying is that we wouldn't be opposed to a similar restructuring of men's fashion as well.

In short: kids, pull up your darn pants and get off of my lawn.

Strolling to the Fortress of Employment through the spring dawn the other day, The Observer was cutting through the parking lot of the Main Library to hit the ATM when we came upon it: a little circle of joy. Someone — hopefully a group of someones, because it looked like a lot of work — had knitted cozies for everything in a fifteen-foot circle near the Cox Center: two benches, trees, a wire planter, all of it swathed in lovely, smushy softness.

The parking lot was empty enough that The Observer actually looked around to make sure somebody else was seeing this too; that it wasn't some hallucination brought on by a mini-stroke or a late reaction to something we ingested in college. One bench was a diamond-patterned rainbow. Four feet of each tree trunk was straight out of Dr. Seuss. A line of thick, bright flags about the size of drink coasters hung on a length of yarn.

We had no idea where it came from or who did it (perhaps, we thought, it was leftovers from the Arkansas Literary Festival concluded two days earlier), but we were sure glad they did. On a morning when we were dreading the desk — yes, even Your Hero has those — it made The Observer smile. There is not enough simple beauty out there, it seems, not enough things done just for the sheer joy of it, and to beautify and warm this all-too-often cold and ugly world.

We lingered, might have stayed all morning had duty not called. We wanted to touch it all, feel the textures, poke our fingers through the careful weave, dream of spring birds plucking at the yarn and filling the dark hollows of the city with wildly-colored nests. Standing there, we imagined a new breed of superhero: a vigilante armed with knitting needles, swinging through downtown on a strand of angora, struggling not against the forces of evil, but against the oppressive gray of Portland cement. Call him: The Midnight Knitter. The Hook-and-Looper. The Clandestine Crocheter. She's all around in the dark like Tom Joad. He's everywhere. And she's got a homemade blankie — nine parts yarn, one part love — to make you feel better.

Thanks, whoever you are. Keep up the good work. A fellow Anonymite appreciates your efforts.

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