The Jeans Are Always Blacker (JMag – 2008)
Ever had the feeling that someone, somewhere is having a much better life than you? Ever trawled through a magazine, much like this fine one, and taken the whole thing personally? E Gad! Look at these hotter, wiser, better dressed, more experienced young things. Ever stared at that touchy cutesy couple at the gig and assumed they must have regular, effortless, mind blowing sex while listening to a cutting edge compilation of bands you’ve never even heard of? Well…you’re a bit weird.
Or perfectly normal and wonderful. Probably the latter. It’s a common phenomena I like to call “the jeans are always blacker on the other side of the stage.” It stems from our own insecurities that we are somehow inferior to everyone else. These neuroses are placed in our ears by the aloof fairy on our thirteenth birthday! (I know, I only found that out the other day.) They flourish in high school, which is considered a ninja training ground for low self-esteem. Then, in your early twenties, you hit a second wave of inner confidence and generally figure out that you’re pretty ace, but still find yourself regularly undone by the pop culture pixel grenades thrown in your face by an ideals driven, glamour obsessed media. (Not Frankie of course I mean, like.…ah…Vice magazine…would it hurt them to be friendlier?)
Take me for example – as a musician, I rely on street press to act as an up to date and concise form guide for my industry – a white pages of creativity. Why then do I see it as a brown pages of failure, existing solely to remind me who’s getting better gigs. Just yesterday, my friend excitedly played me a Jeffrey Lewis song. For a brief flash I was inspired that someone else was being playful and witty with their lyrics, but within seconds I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact he’s from New York, has hung out in Greenwich village, and probably lives in a commune of hyper productive hilarious visionaries all strumming killer bohemian tunes, having genius Charlie Kaufmanesque conversations with second helpings of consequence free sex with the DNA cocktails of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Miranda July, Clare Bowdich…
(writer takes short break.)
Clarity starts at home. At International High School, Australia is the quirky loner kid, while Berlin, Tokyo and Paris are the jocks. As a creative lad who’s never left the country but taken an avid interest in the fruitjuices of mod-art, I cannot help but fuel the illusion that my life would be improved if I were hanging with the cool cities – that the rest of the world is one big trend-setting disco while we’re all here watching Burgo’s catchphrase eating nutri-grain. The truth is, like gamblers – you never hear about the losses. You never read articles on the depressive designer getting evicted from her squalid Manhattan bed-sit, or the out of work actor leaving his iRiver on a train on his way to collect benefits on a rainy day in Soho.
By the same token, movies rarely get inside the head of the zanily dressed retro-queen buying a beer – her inner monologue pounding her into dust over the money she’s spending. Nor can they reveal the electro-punk front man, backstage, lowering his eyes over a band dispute that’s been unresolved for months because of the hapless communication skills bestowed on him by a distant Father. Nor will you see depicted his average, nervous sex with a friend of a friend. (Honestly, my debut feature film – nothing but awkward sex scenes.)
No-one can be having that gooder time, because it would mean matching the ferociously perfect caricatures of your imagination. Imagine if your small corner of the globe was actually the charming lo-fi cultural epicentre. Imagine if all this time, it’s actually been you setting off the laser eye alarms of criss-crossing competitiveness. You can’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their jeans, only then will you realise how faded they really are.