Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ineffectual scarf

I am fascinated by the semi-recent trend amongst the youth of wearing flimsy scarves. This winter was especially severe in NYC, and I asked a few of my scarf-wearing friends this year if their scarves were keeping them warm. They all replied "no." So it must be for fashion! But, to me, clothes are meant to imply a state of mind, an openness or reticence to social interaction. I don't know what the kids are trying to imply by all wearing ineffectual scarves, en masse. Perhaps they are laying claim to a sort of group identity that I've never felt?

I wanted to photograph this Italian youth wearing an ineffectual scarf, but I didn't want to ask permission - he would certainly not give it. Quick as a wink, Luther offered to pretend like I was photographing him, but then duck down at the last minute, so the picture would be of the youth. Neither of these ideas - the pretending nor the ducking down - would have occurred to me, and I was struck once again by Luther's cleverness, his problem-solving abilities, and his appreciation for a slightly mean sense of humor. He and I are so much alike - even in countenance. But to get the Italian's picture, I would probably have gone over and used my rudimentary Italian ("oggi," [today], and "gli signori" [the men] are the only two words I know) to attempt to communicate the futility of resistance to my taking his picture. That plan probably would have backfired, but you never know - perhaps shouting "today, today!" at fashion-conscious youth while holding a camera would inspire in them the desire to prance about and contort into poses, as though on a catwalk.

Of course, Luther's scheme was thwarted somewhat when the youth looked right at me as Luther ducked down. But what could he do then? Leap up and twist his blowsy scarf into a rattail and snap it at me with a terrible force?

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