Fashion: Zubaz Pants
Imagine, if you will, the perfect piece of apparel for the lower half of the human body. It would be elastic of waist, given our collective tendency to pack on the pounds. As for the thighs, they’d be generously cut — due to possible weight gain, yes, but also because it’s just more comfortable that way. The ankles? Tapered, natch, to prevent inefficient friction between the wearer and his environment (and between the pant legs themselves). The fabric, meanwhile, would be lightweight, airy, breathable. Because it gets hot in there, damn it.

On to the aesthetics. The animal kingdom’s most splendid denizens see no reason to be modest. So why should we? Screw muted tone and textures — give us multiple colors, patterns that bewitch and bewilder the eye.

Are you concentrating? Then you know the end result is more than a mere pair of jeans or corduroys. It’s something, instead, that delivers an emphatic message: “Here I am, world — and here are my pants!”

Lo, it is a pair of Zubaz: conceived in the late ’80s, proudly worn by Arena Football players and the young men who emulated them, and then — quickly, unjustly — consigned to history’s ash pile. If you chance upon a pair, in a thrift store or your parent’s basement, snatch them up and wear them — not timidly, not ironically, but joyously. Your legs and groin will thank you.

— Adam Reilly


Entertainer: Ashlee Simpson
When Ashlee Simpson’s lip-synching game was exposed on an episode of SaturdayNight Live on October 23, 2004, she responded, at first, by blaming the whole thing on her drummer. There were subsequent excuses about her acid-reflux, and the fact that she was planning to sing but needed a cued-up backing track to help make her tired vocals sound richer — nobody believed that! Especially a few short months later when Ashlee sang in front of a live audience again during the Orange Bowl. She sounded ghastly. Absolutely horrible.

But my adoration of this scorned member of the pop-tart entourage is pinned to the perfect shit storm of her flaws. For the same reason subscribers to US Weekly and People defend and pray for the renaissance of the Spears family — loving them for their messes and mistakes — I feel the same inexplicable devotion to Ashlee. She’s a girl who isn’t all that gifted or all that groomed, yet still has managed to persevere through one of the biggest scandals in music or pop-culture history.

Her buxom older sister, Jessica, marketed her virginity and planned a dream wedding for an early marriage that went to hell in a hand basket. And what did Ashlee do? Talked about her sexual exploits in interviews, lied about never getting plastic surgery, and celebrated her 23rd birthday with an ’80s prom party, during which she was, of course, required to wear outdated fashions. Ashlee’s egregious personal and professional errors have earned her lusty boos from an angry nation of music lovers and fame junkies, but through her sheer will not to be brought down by the celebrity machine she abused for her own desires, she has succeeded in winning my heart.

— Sharon Steel

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