man in black

I loathe to admit it, but The Morpheus Company is, if only by the vaguest of technicalities, a member of the stylish yet potentially certifiable fashion machine. Deeper artistic and talismanic ideals aside, we are more or less in the business of making people look good.

I'm not saying that we're qualified to be any particular orientation's "eye" for any given lifestyle's "guy", but I will maintain the sordid fantasy that over the years we've impacted, for better or worse, the aesthetic sense of at a runway or two's worth of fashionistas.

Through various parts dumb luck, memetic infection and mad artistic skillz(tm), our curriculum vitae supports the surprisingly unlikely notion that The Morpheus Company has managed to dis-inform, misrepresent and extort its way into flavor-of-the-moment status enough times over the years to at least register as an aberrant murmur on the EKG of that which doesn't completely suck in the eyes of trendsters around the globe.

The delicious irony of achieving this ignoble rank in the silicon set's pecking order is that I, the head man of the laughter factory in question, am about as fashion-forward as Don Knotts. In all fairness, this may be an untoward assault on the stylish dressing flair of Barney Fife, so let's settle for "as colorful a dresser as Maynard G. Krebs," snap our fingers a few times in reverence and get on with it.

Regardless of whether or not black is the new black this week, I'm happily clad in charcoal and watching the fads fly by in blissful apathy. Depending on what section of the color wheel Cosmo deems worthy to glom on to at any given moment, I'm either that creepy gothish undertaker or basking in an understated glow of casual elegance.

Whatever the case, I find my fashion choice incredibly convenient come laundry day. Strictly speaking I'm not sure that I've mismatched a sock in years. Figuring out what to wear hasn't been an issue since I 'went monochrome' either, I simply pretend my closet is located under Wayne Manor and grab the bat-suit of opportunity.

Obviously, I'm not the first misguided genius to come up with this sort of zero tolerance solution to the fashion dilemma. Einstein himself was reputed to have an entire closet full of identical suits, and most of the "Seattle Sound" bands of the nineties solved it by grabbing whatever clothes their high school siblings had left on the floor a few weeks prior. So far, I've only found one downside to all of this nonsense.

It's the same thing that does in vampires all the time.

As a side note, this sort of thinking isn't that outlandish. When you regularly are asked if you are a blood-sucking creature of the night because of your mode of dress, you spend a lot of time pondering how much revenge on mankind the undead can get away with before some Van-Helsing-Do-Right decides it's time to strong arm said being of fallen body temperature into a martini-olive impersonation.

To understand my theories regarding the dilemmas of the damned, and those that dress like them, you'll have to allow me to beat this idea into the ground for a moment. In the name of Swiftian conclusions, I'll continue to boldly go where no man with a pulse has any business going.

From my perspective, the garden variety immortal minion of infinite darkness (and assumed infinite darkness wearing) has it completely wired. Superhuman strength, senses and stomach for cheesy cinema at their expense. Logic dictates that while the centuries whizz by like a technologists' porn montage, these bozos in black should be eternally unliving the life of Riley. Quietly sitting there sipping their type O port, they by all rights should be able to outlast any issue that comes along. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, pale Transylvanian's are forever getting themselves into harm's way.

This is because the monotony eventually sets in and makes them wacky.

A dear friend of mine once offered up a fabulous definition of insanity. In simplest terms, it's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When this logic is applied to a person's life, the moment right before the breaking point is usually referred to as being in a rut.

It is fortunate that in my case I only dress like a member of the late-night metabolically impaired vein-draining scene, and thus contrary to popular assumption my stroll into the blinding light of reason did not leave a smoldering pile of ash as evidence of my willingness to grow as a person.

Shortly before my 31st year, I came to the startling realization that I had been dressing like the late, great Johnny Cash for almost a decade. Damn near ten years of seeing the same thing, day after day, in the wardrobe mirror. Like Dorian Gray, I found myself face to face with the better part of a lifetime having gone by and nothing outward had noticeably changed.

A lifetime of experiences had evolved who I was beyond recognition, but externally I seemed to be at a standstill. Aside from a penchant for the occasional jewel tone in my dress shirts, my personal style had statically served with an ennui befitting far more centuries than I had been moping around.

I realized that I had no idea who this mysterious man in black was anymore. Somehow, my insides had become mismatched from my outsides.

For a person who's life focus revolves around being entrusted to create external items based on the internal symbolism of others, this is far more critical ground than might be immediately obvious. You can't do magic when you spend your time looking down your nose at it. More importantly, you can't be a hypocrite and stay deep-down true to a cause.

It seemed that I had found myself, emotionally speaking, in the red on this issue of being in the black. In the name of sticking to my ideals, I snapped audibly out of my rut and did what any sane person in my position would have done...

I shaved my head.

It has been pointed out by more than one astute bystander to the train wreck of my logic that somewhere along the way I not only revisited the monotony breeds wackiness hypothesis, but decided to stay the weekend at the local bed and breakfast.

In my defense, I did actually think this through a bit before commencing with the removal of a decade's worth of unchecked ponytail growth. Sane or not, I'd be the first to agree that any decision involving the application of sharp objects your head deserves a little reflection.

As I mentioned at the onset, The Morpheus Company is essentially in the business of personal fashion. I came to the realization that, while I loved the uniform, I held to it so strictly because I had an underlying concern about being in a constant state of reinventing myself.

I believe that a big part of the reason I've had any success in life is because I keep my eye on the ball. Being constantly in a state of reinventing myself seems like a good way to suffer needless focus creep.

I think if you aren't careful when constantly exploring new ideas in personal expression, you can end up losing your track of identity. Most people sort this crap out in their teens during their "dress like an idiot" phase, but professionally speaking the question of the external self gets shoved in my face every time I pick up a sketchbook.

If you don't provide yourself an anchor somewhere, you can lose your mind in the manner of many method actors. Your true self gets lost in the rogue's gallery of characters you've played.

For all the jokes, being the man in black provides a safe constant in an artistic life which demands no absolutes. The bind in this sort of behavior comes when you don't deconstruct the whys behind your actions from time to time. If you don't make heavenly hamburger out of your sacred cows every now and again, your lofty herd eventually loses its meaning and you stagnate.

Funny thing about Swiftian conclusions is that they seem so insane until you play one out for yourself. In my case, it was not the clothes that had gotten into a rut, but rather the emperor. So I gave the new clothes idea a rest and changed something about the monarch wearing them.

No Mr. ArtCritic, I expect you...To Die!

In the end, I'm honestly not sure if the guy in the mirror looks more or less like the me inside. However, he certainly looks nothing at all like he did prior to my choosing to get medieval on my scalp with a Gillette Mach 3. Between the rut-busting exploration of self, and the fact that women seem to think that black-clad chrome-domed artists are dead sexy, I'll take it.

06 / 05 / 2009