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click opera - All about wristbands
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Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 12:00 am
All about wristbands

"Where are the red woollen wristbands?" I ask Hisae; it's morning, and I'm dressed, but without wristbands we just can't leave the house. You'd think it would be enough for me to have to tie a sort of felt-and-knicker-elastic headband around my bad eye every morning. But no, this year I've added wristbands to my list of essential accessories. Without these little splashes of colour at the cuff, I just don't feel fully dressed.

Where does a new need begin? Perhaps mine started in Osaka in January, when, scouring the uniform shops of Shinsekai for something to wear as the Unreliable Tour Guide at the Whitney Museum, I bought a pair of velcro-fastened white carpenters' wristbands, or tekou, designed to keep sawdust out of the artisan's sleeves. Far from merely practical, Japanese workmens' uniforms are full of mystical touches, references to nature, clan loyalties, hints at the hidden sacred character of various kinds of work. These bands are decorated with a dark blue sea pattern crossed by stitched white thread. I don't know what they "mean", but I do have a practical use for them; although I don't encounter much sawdust in my run-of-the-mill activities, I do own a lot of women's sweaters with sleeves way too short for me. The bands cover up my hairy forearms and keep me warm.



This year I've often found myself in tune with articles running in PingMag, the Tokyo-based webzine "about design and making things". (In fact, this entry is a bit of a parody of a PingMag entry, images and all.) So it's no surprise that back in January they were also celebrating Construction Worker Fashion. Their current lead story is the equally entertaining Jockeys' Funky Uniform.

I make reference to another PingMag story in this week's Wired Column, It's Madvertising!, which starts with a PingMag article about advertising saturation in Tokyo train stations. I pick up this saturation idea and run with it all the way to Coke ads on the moon, and triggered supernova explosions spelling out slogans in the sky (that's the "madvertising" part).



Throughout, I'm sort of ambivalent about advertising. Technologies like TiVo, which allow us to skip ads, are great. Then again, what would Tokyo be like without the neons of Shinjuku or the plasma screens of Shibuya and Harajuku? As usual, I find myself striking a position something like: advertising should either be banned entirely, or it should go much, much further.

Ironically, the podcast for the article, read by a voice which might be a robot or might be a human -- I'm genuinely not sure -- is surrounded, for the first time, by advertising; no sooner have I signed off with "Now that's what I call madvertising!" than a voice announces "and now a word from our sponsors", and a trailer for a Hollywood movie plays.



What does this have to do with wristbands? Well, I wonder whether we mightn't see people paid to wear branded wristbands at some point? After all, lots of people wear brand names all over their bodies voluntarily, for no money. Why not do it for money? Flying back from Barcelona this weekend, I noticed that Hisae was still wearing her CCCB entry band. When I asked her why, she said: "I like wearing things around my wrist, like hair elastics. With the CCCB band, I liked the bright pink colour."



We started talking about some KitKat ads we saw on a subway train in Tokyo earlier in the year. These showed the arms of some third year high school students as they made a star shape with spread fingers on a school desk. "We are supporting the jukensei!" read the KitKat copy, referring to girls in the last year of high school, applying for university and about to sit their exams.

The decorations around their wrists are misanga, lucky charms made of twined thread. It seems that Brazilian footballers originated the custom, but it's been adopted in Japan. The idea is that you wear the thread all the time, tied around your wrist. When it breaks naturally, the wish you made when you tied it will come true. Perhaps wrists are too sacred a place for ads after all.

32CommentReplyAdd to MemoriesShare

chuckm
chuckm
Chuck Meyer
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC)

My very first girlfriend in high school use to weave complicated bracelets of this type. She was really good at it and I had several. I wore them for years -- since they were tied on I never took them off. Unfortunately this led to a nasty skin infection and the subsequent disposal of all the bracelets to make way for the application of topical cream.

Still, they were probably one of my favorite wrist adornments. Much more organic than the rubber bracelets that were so popular in the 80s and again in the last 5 years or so.


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telephoneface
telephoneface
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)

Where its really at is pajama tops; find a long-sleeve one and then cut it up so it becomes a T-shirt with matching armbands. It's disjointed and might make your elbows cold but so much fun!


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silenceinspades
silenceinspades
silence in spades
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)

i've noticed just recently that a rubber wristband has become part of the sort of 'fratboy' style at least near where i live. people either wear green wristbands which 'support' the us troops in iraq or yellow which are meant to signify something to do with cancer research and something to do with lance armstrong being considered awesome.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)

damn straight, man. let's shotgun a couple of these and head out to Pub 46.

Natural Ice (http://40ouncebeer.com/pics24/naturalice24.jpg)


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)

It's been years since I last had a wristband that I later lost. I haven't been able to look for new one since...


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mandyrose
mandyrose
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
Sea Pattern & Boobies

Momus, the sea pattern on your wristbands is the same one I just used in a big wallpaper painting. Except the colors in mine were (radiating out from the center of the wave) black, orange, gold leaf and a thin white line separating these from the next wave. My husband will make a text painting over this. I've been seeing this pattern everywhere... also an aquaintance had that Japanese hemp leaf star pattern tattooed on his wrist, but when I asked him about it, he said he didn't know what it was, but that his grandmother was Japanese. How about that, get a permanent tattoo of something completely unrecognizable? What made it even better was that he had a pot leaf tattoo, bisected by a cross, on his back (I didn't say he was a friend, merely an aquaintance).
Oh, here's something to brighten your day: just start calling everyone, or everything dear and adorable to you, "Booby", or "Boobylegs". It seems ridiculous, but try it once or twice. It will lower you IQ about 8 points the first time, but it's delightful and relieves a lot of the stress of contemporary life. Works great on random strange cute animals on the street, too: (Points: "Booby!", dog smiles broadly).


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scottbateman
scottbateman
Scott Bateman
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC)

Sign me up for some wristband action!


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lord_whimsy
lord_whimsy
whimsy
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 04:55 pm (UTC)
A man's cuffs should be even with the tip of his pee pee...

The cuff bands are a great solution for those sweaters. Mind the inadvertant advertising on your wrists not go the way of Donald Duck ties or sports team cufflinks.

I've always preferred French cuffs to button cuffs (fuller, more variety), but I've lately come across some button-cuffed shirts with three buttonholes and very deep cuffs (about six inches) that look great with a jacket. None of that messy sleeve material ever shows when you're stretching or bending your arms, since one's sleeves should be short enough that a little cuff will show even when your arms are resting at your sides (we American men are notorious for wearing baggy jackets with excessively long sleeves).

Related item: Shirt collar neckbands have finally gone back to a proper height after plunging to a measly one inch for a couple decades. Good riddance to those pitiful little collars--no tie ever looked good with them.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
Re: A man's cuffs should be even with the tip of his pee pee...

Since there is a carpentry element to this post I'll add that - when makiing a pair of sawhorses for an individual the correct height is "asshole high".


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palespectre
palespectre
first class riot
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)

wow those misanga charms are like what we used to wear when i was younger. we called them friendship bracelets and one is supposed to make one and give away to the closest friends. you can't have someone else remove it from your wrists or else your friendship with that person will be broken. only you can remove it (or something like that).


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ataxi
ataxi
Tom
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC)

That's how it works in Australia. They're woven or plaited from cotton threads - most people learn how to do it in primary school. It's a faddish thing that resurrects itself every couple of years.


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wringham
wringham
Robert Wringham
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)

"and triggered supernova explosions spelling out slogans in the sky"

That was a subplot in one of the Red Dwarf novels. A guy spends his days inducing supernovas with the ultimate result of spelling out "Drink Coke" in Earth's night sky.

These books by the way (or at least the first two) are far better than the TV sitcom. More of a Hitch Hiker's Guide type affair.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)

Paying people to wear brands would probably make them less likely to do so, and less loyal to the brands in question. Psychological studies have shown that as soon as money becomes a motivator for an action, other motivations are weakened, and people who might otherwise volunteer become more mercenary.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)

Hence the eternal superiority of indie rock.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)

I wasn't thinking about that. Though replace "indie rock" (didn't NME or Carling or someone trademark that term?) with "art made for noncommercial motivations", and you'd be 100% right.


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eustaceplimsoll
Eustace Plimsoll
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC)

Among my circle in the mid-80s, when I was about 6, one wore a single terry toweling wristband, preferably accompanied by a body-warmer (something to do with Back to the Future I think) while astride a BMX. If you had a pocket full of particularly coveted Panini football stickers, so much the better. The chicks loved that shit. Well, maybe not the stickers so much.

What I'd really like to know is where you got your Mao jacket. I've been wanting one so badly, so long.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)

That particular Mao jacket is from Per Gramme in Nakameguro. But you can buy them here in Berlin too, at Humana Alexanderplatz, or the Treptower Market.


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eustaceplimsoll
Eustace Plimsoll
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)

Thanks. It's about time I puttered around Berlin for a few days, and the possibility of owning a Mao jacket is just the kind of bulletproof excuse I was looking for!


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cityramica
cityramica
cityramica
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)

i used to step on the bottom part of my pants a lot because i'm short, and i'm often left with a large ring/hole where i've been stepping. i like to tear these off, wash them, and fashion them into wrist cuffs fastened by cute buttons.
i would like a new cuff though.


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nicepimmelkarl
.
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)

oi misch mash ! old boy needs hand-shandy. sort him out.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Oct. 26th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
BRACELET

Do English people not use the word bracelet?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship_Bracelet

Spend one minute of your 16 hours a day online to add the Japanese term!


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juuzai
juuzai
ピターパン。
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)

this is my favourite entry, somehow speaking to me (outloud)

especially the kitkat ad.

i would love to get paid to wear things on my wrist.
unfortunately, my fingers are horrid.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC)

Weirdly enough, I've been wanting to blog something about that KitKat ad for nine months!


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juuzai
juuzai
ピターパン。
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC)

and then you gave birth!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 12:15 pm (UTC)

I was a bit worried that this entry might be somewhat lacking in intellectual substance, but having just passed my local newsstand, I see that wristbands are also the lead story on the cover of the TLS:


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dubow_org
dubow_org
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)

I like wearing the wristbands you get from festivals, as I often spend the following weeks spotting people with similar wristbands; we then exchange smiles knowing we went through similar (and often muddy) experiences and of course, it's a sign that we have impeccable music taste. :)


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nicepimmelkarl
.
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)

glastonbury romance mudslide!! i fancy ya!! one finger........two fingers......
sri fingers.....let's boogie!! we sort something out...


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC)

Any more posts about young japanese burds and you'll be getting the bracelets big time!!

Your friend, Willy fae the OSP


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nicepimmelkarl
.
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)

http://www.uhren.ch/shopping/wristbands/detail.asp?ID=10353


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 11:10 am (UTC)

An article about wristbands. That's something I would have gotten excited about in high school. That was a long time ago.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 1st, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
beautiful handmade wrist + hand warmers

just thought i would promote a friend of mines work. really lovely handmade wrist and hand warmers.
Hopefully people here won't find this too shamless, i simple love her work.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stbruno/sets/72157594217144760/
here is the store.
Bruno.etsy.com


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 1st, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC)

Momus, where might an American get some keen wristbands like yours? Does the internet have the answer?

Also, and this is almost entirely unrelated, what do you think of Greg Dulli?


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