It's taken a few months, but I've finally managed to finish this ENORMOUS post. Once again, it's my biggest post to date, so be prepared for an overload of pictures and text – business as usual, you know ;)
Anyway, you shouldn't be too worried about my posting dynamics: my next posts will be notably shorter... or at least that's the plan.
It was a sunny April afternoon, the air was warm, and Eddie Murphy’s classic 1988 movie Coming to America was on TV. Of course, that’s not saying a lot, because that movie is ALWAYS on TV around here (LOL), but I was still happy, ‘cause it’s one of those things you just don’t get tired of :P
I had my nails painted with green glitter nail polish, which was a bit of a problem at the time, because my Bite It outfit ¬ with its magnetic green manicure – was still pretty recent. Having green nails once again meant I’d have to figure out a way to incorporate the colour into the outfit without repeating any of the concepts I had used in my previous look. And, man, that was one hell of a headache.
The problem when you pull off such a winner look as that one was is the same that bands have when they’ve just made a really game-changing album: where do we go from here? There’s no real way you can jump on top of it, so the only thing you can do is take a few steps back and try to get around it, walking in a different direction. And that’s exactly what I did.
I knew that, if I wanted to get away with green this time, I had to do it in a completely different way, which, I ultimately concluded, meant not using green at all.
I spent some time thinking about other colours that could be an interesting match for green. I considered white and yellow as possible options, even though I wasn’t too sure. I started looking around… and one of the first things I came across was a black T-shirt I had gotten from Shana a few months earlier (along with a few other cool evil-themed tees), which happened to have both white and yellow on it. I took that as a sign and decided to use that as my starting point.
The last thing I had done before going upstairs to get dressed was watching this 2009 video of Alice In Chains performing Check My Brain on Later with Jools Holland, so the image was still very fresh in my… yeah… brain, and it inevitably became my point of reference.
Alice have never been the type of band to dress fancy (well, perhaps they had a few freaky moments in the early 90s… but then again who didn’t? LOL), but they compensate it by making their music extra (or should I say ‘extra, extra, extra’?) awesome, and they definitely know how to stay cool at all times.
That quality is perfectly exemplified here.
You just have to look at Mike Inez (well, you can’t really see him underneath all that HAIR LOL) and his fantastic leather jacket; Sean Kinney, with his nose ring and effortlessly badass attitude; William DuVall with his body-hugging black T-shirt and bell-bottom jeans, or Jerry Cantrell, with his rings and his necklaces and his juvenile double sleeves. They all look like teenagers, if you ask me… 40-year-old teenagers, if you like LOLTheir ‘casual but still cool’ approach pointed me in a brand new direction – one that happened to be in the antipodes of my previous outfit… which was exactly what I needed.
Following the path of green landed me straight on the cover of Boggy Depot – Jerry Cantrell’s first solo album. I had heard that record for the very first time only a few days earlier, and I was beyond obsessed with it at the time. Oh, wait a minute – I still am.
Jerry named the record after a ghost village located in the Southern Oklahoma area where his father grew up, and which is still home to the Cantrell family ranch. His connection to the place is so strong it’s impossible not to fall in love with the idea of it… or perhaps it’s just the cowboy in me, y’know.
Of course, using the Boggy Depot album artwork as a starting point didn’t seem that easy at first, mostly because Jerry is pretty much naked on the cover (LOL). But then again, you know I always love a challenge.
The music on Boggy Depot is as mindblowingly Cantrell-tastic as you could possibly expect it to be. Jerry used the chance of going solo to explore sides of his musical baggage he rarely displayed on Alice records, giving way to a 100% unique stylistic blend. You should really check it out if you have the time. In fact you should check out every record Jerry has ever made. Every note that man’s ever played is worth a million. If only he’d gotten a million for each… he’d be the richest fucking bastard LOL
I had the songs from the album playing in my head in random combinations all the while as I tried to get dressed, and that inevitably inspired me to mix country and grunge the same way Jerry did. This probably makes me the first fashion blogger to ever cite Jerry Cantrell as a style reference – guess I should call the Guinness Book of Records or something…? LOL
The idea of mixing country and grunge led me to think of James Hetfield’s looks in the Nothing Else Matters music video. I remembered that he had a few amazing looks there which did exactly that. That whole video, in fact, is a wonderful display of flawless early 90s rock fashion.
I had one specific look in mind – one in which James combined cowboy boots with extremely slim-fit white jeggings. I tried to recreate it by putting on my classic brown cowboy booties and a pair of über-slim fit white jeans, but I wasn’t really convinced about how those two interacted – those jeans are SO DAMN TIGHT it’s impossible to squeeze anything underneath them. I was really afraid of getting them stained at dinner, anyway (LOL), so I gave up on that and decided to try something more in the line of the outfit Jerry was wearing in the Jools Holland video.
I picked a blue pair of tie-dye effect jeans and tried to recreate his double sleeves by adding a white sweatshirt underneath my T-shirt (after all, it was still pretty cold out there).
I really liked how the jeans looked. Their curious finish made them seem dusty and worn-out… which is definitely the way your jeans are supposed to look when you’re running around an Oklahoma ranch. The sweatshirt, however, was making the whole thing look a little bit too bulky, and I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to keep it or not, so I chose to go ahead for a while and see where the look would take me.
Once again, I thought about James Hetfield, and decided to add a little bit of tartan to my look, in the shape of my frayed sleeveless studded plaid shirt. It looked like it had been pulled straight from 1990, so, obviously, it had to work LOL
James Hetfield – King of Grunge
After concluding that my brown cowboy booties weren’t working for this outfit, I found myself with a very limited set of choices. In fact, I had only one real alternative, so I traded them for my soft khaki trainers. They looked every bit as dusty and worn as my jeans, which was good. They might not have been the most adequate cowboy footwear, but they definitely added up to the grunge value ;)
I wasn’t sure about how to fill the empty space on my neck at first. I tried my dog choker, but I just didn’t feel it. I wasn’t quite thrilled about the path my outfit was taking, so I had to start making radical decisions. I decided to remove the sweatshirt for good and start over from there.
Feeling notably lighter (and colder) I finally chose to just go crazy and let the spirit of the record take me completely. I threw my beloved brown cowboy hat on and, man…. That was it. Putting a cowboy hat on top of what looked like a rather classic 80s look (you could imagine the young Metallica dressed like that at any time) seemed a pretty risky move at first, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed. The hat also played a major role in defining the palette of dusty earth tones I saw as a reliable backdrop for my Boggy Depot green.
At that point, I had to start considering other options for my neck. A big bow like the one I had pulled in my previous look was totally out of the question, so I had to come up with something else. Rummaging around, I found this curious khaki neck buff. I decided to give it a try mostly because it matched the colour of my trainers.
I wasn’t quite sure about how to wear it at first, so I just wrapped it around my neck a couple of times, and the result was amazing. It looked like the classic bandana cowboys wrap around their face to prevent themselves from eating dust during high speed horse rides and rodeo rounds.
I really wanted to avoid normcore, so I thought I’d have to compensate the relative simplicity of the outfit by accessorizing heavily. I tried on every bracelet I could find around the house, and ended up picking the ones that looked the most badass – consisting mostly of metal and leather – as well as a bunch of more tribal-looking hand-made pieces.
My choice of bracelets turned out to be a mix of rock and country as well, even though I didn’t realize at the time. I also failed to notice that I was referencing Jerry’s own love for using this type of necklaces and bracelets as a fashion accessory.
The chunky wooden rosary was my personal homage to Jesus Hands – one of the Boggy Depot songs I was most obsessed with during those days. Including it in this outfit was a bit of an unusual idea, but it turned out to work really well for whatever reason.
Considering that I had finally decided to go short-sleeved, the weather was still a bit of a problem. Wearing an extra layer underneath the T-shirt didn’t seem to be a viable option, so I had to come up with something I could wear on top. I thought about a denim jacket, but none of them seemed too convincing. After much thinking and a fair share of trial and error, I finally came across this denim shirt, which happened to have an extremely appropriate washed out light blue colour as well as a great 80s vibe.
When I saw myself in the mirror, the first thing that came to my mind was Marty McFly in Back to the Future III. It’s not like the outfit looked exactly like his, but it definitely had something… probably the mix of 80s and cowboy fashion LOL
I was done with the outfit quicker than I had expected, and I even had time to finish Coming to America before leaving home, happily singing the Soul Glo tune to myself :))))
While I was on the train, I thought I probably looked like a total hillbilly, right before I realized I had no freaking idea of what a hillbilly was. I quickly searched for the term on my phone, and Wikipedia gave me this awesome 19th Century quote:
"A Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him."
Pretty adequate, heh? ;)
Remember I told you a few months ago that there’s only one ATM in the whole town (at least that I know of) that accepts my credit card? Well, this is it. As you can see, it’s dirty, it’s old… and the sign in the corner says it doesn’t work, even though it actually does.
(UPDATE: since this picture was taken, the ATM has been cleaned, and it no longer pretends to be out of order. It still accepts my credit card, though, which is a real relief LOL).
Before dinner, my hipster friend and I walked into a sweetshop (because sweets are a huge not-so-guilty pleasure of mine). While we (OK – I LOL) were doing our shopping, the store clerk started speaking to us. He said he really fancied my ‘Texan style’, as he called it, which I felt extremely flattered about. I turned to him and genuinely said ‘Thank you!’, because, honestly… people don’t say nice things to me that often… especially when my cowboy hat is involved LMAO
Seeing my good predisposition to social interaction, the guy continued: ‘It reminds me of Back to the Future.’ WHAT? My brain almost exploded. Was that even happening at all? I quickly turned to him and replied: ‘Are you calling me chicken?’ We laughed at the fact that we were both obviously familiar with the movie.
We kept talking about fashion for a little while. He shared his plans of dressing as Willy Wonka for Halloween, which I personally thought was the best idea ever, and I left the store with a bag full of candy a huge smile on my face.
What a sweet guy. No wonder he runs a sweetshop LOL
We had our usual pizza dinner and, after that, another friend of ours joined us to attend an improvisational theatre play, which was lame and hilarious at the same time. It wasn’t the type of intellectual thing you’d probably expect to see in some hipster New York cafe, but a comedy extravaganza aimed at singles looking for a date – which formed a large chunk of the audience. The three of us, of course, were no exception, but finding a date was nowhere near our list of priorities, so we just sat back and tried to keep a low profile.
Finding a location for the photoshoot was a relatively easy task.
Jerry shot the picture for his album cover in the Clear Boggy River, only a few miles away from the namesake village – a place he used to visit for fishing trips (don’t know if he still does) and where he wrote a big chunk of the lyrics to the album (yes, actually. He just sat by the river and wrote. How awesome is that? LOL), so my idea for the photoshoot was quite clear from the beginning: I wanted to get to the nearest river I could find and shoot the pictures there. Thankfully, the nearest river turned out to be just a 15 minute drive away from my home. Of course, it’s not your most traditional river, in the sense that it doesn’t really have water in it most of the year… but you can still see it’s a river, and that’s what really counts.
We drove to the location, walked for a while until we found a nice starting point for the session, and then realized I had idiotically left the camera in the car, so we had to walk all the way back, get the camera and start all over again LMAO
Here you can see me in the middle of my very own Boggy Depot moment (LOL). I wasn’t really posing – just adjusting my bracelets so they would look right on camera. Can’t say I wasn’t aware of the gesture, though ;)
Walking down a dry river feels weird and fantastic at the same time. Actually, it’s not that different from taking a walk down the forest, but you can really see all those river things: the abundant river vegetation, the ever-present smell of humidity, the rocks smoothed by the water… You follow the non-existent current, seeing every place where the water left its mark, and knowing that it will come back at some point. It was definitely one hell of an experience, and I really have to thank Jerry for that :)
Randomly striking a Freddie pose LOL
Near the end of our photographic journey, we stumbled upon this incredible, amazing, HUGE rock wall – a totally mind-blowing piece of landscape. The wall happened to have a pretty big crack in it, and we thought that it would be a nice idea to shot a few pictures in it, because why not. I managed to squeeze into it, even though it was one hell of a task: the angle was pretty uncomfortable and there were a few brambles hanging at the entrance, blocking the way, which required some extra precautions. There were also some insects in there (obviously), but I tried not to think about it too much and just pose for the pictures (LOL). Thankfully, the result made it all worth it :)
Having to say goodbye to the river was tough, because, honestly, I would have loved to keep going further and further, just to see where it would take us. But, of course, it was getting late and the sun was starting to go down.
Before wrapping up the session, we decided to take some pictures on the huge field beside the road. I’d had my eye on it ever since we had arrived there, and I wasn’t going to miss the chance.
I basically ran around and jumped randomly, hoping the camera would manage to capture some of that, with Low Ceiling playing in my head the entire time. I’d always had this sort of fantasy with that song: listen to it while running around an open field – which is ironic, because the lyrics are really claustrophobic. The music, however, is so enormous; so life-affirming; so free... These pictures describe it better than I can :)
That was a tiny dream of mine come true. A fantastic way to finish a really unique photoshoot – one day to remember, no doubt about that ;)
Trainers: Alma en Pena
Cowboy hat: unknown
Wooden rosary: LSD
Bracelets: flea market / unknown