Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: lifestyle

Which Levi’s Jeans Makes My Ass Look the Best?

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For the last few months, there have been these YouTube advertisements plastered all over the subway platforms, in the subway cars, and even on the subways themselves. They showcase a group of girls who look no more than fifteen years old, and have six million followers each.  I’ve never heard of any of them. Bethany Mota? Michelle Phan? Clearly I’m not in the right demographic.  One aspect that I did notice is that they are “fashion and lifestyle” bloggers.

“I’m doing it wrong,” I tell myself each time I board it a train and see one of these ads. “Why didn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?”

One morning, not too long ago, as a mariachi band was playing in my subway car, I had a revelation.

“Why couldn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?” I asked the guitarist wearing the sombrero.  “There are so few middle-aged male fashion and lifestyle bloggers giving advice to other men! The field is completely wide open!”

And that’s how this this post came into existence.  Well, actually, there were two more steps before I get to the post.

First has to do with my dating life.  Or rather it’s lack of existence.  Last week, I was talking to a friend, a recently divorced woman who had already gone on a few dates and was pushing me to join an online service.

Seeking good advice, and trying to change the subject,   I said, “Tell me, and be honest, as a friend. What do women most look for in a man?  Is it his career achievements, his sense of humor, or his intelligence?”

She laughed, saying, “The number one attribute that women look for in a man is — how good his ass looks in a pair of jeans.”

This totally blew my mind.   And then I promptly forgot about the conversation.

This morning, around 10AM, my mother asked if I wanted to go shopping with her at the Macy’s on Queens Boulevard. She received a “Friends and Family 25% coupon” in the mail and she was always up for a bargain.  I hate shopping for clothes, but I agreed, mostly for selfish reasons. Near this Macy’s is a diner that makes a good Reuben sandwich, and there is also a Best Buy across the street, and I wanted to play with the new Samsung phone.

By noon, we were in the department store.

My mother said, “I want to check out some bras,” and I knew this was my cue to go check out the men’s department.

“You know what,” I said. “I could use a new pair of jeans. I’ll meet you back here in a half hour.”

So I went to the men’s department, which is always the crappiest section in every department store, located on the dark and dingy lower level next to the appliances.

I passed by the fancy designer jeans and went straight for the Levi’s against the far wall.   I’m a Levi’s guy.   I mean, other than two brief moments of weakness in my life where I bought other brands of jeans (one was Wrangler in fifth grade and the other was a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt men’s jeans that I would rather not discuss),  I have worn Levi’s all my life. More specifically, I have worn Levi’s 501 jeans since junior high school, never deviating, never changing.

But something changed when I accidentally bumped into this sign.

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I had a number of thoughts.

1) Therapy.   Why do I always wear the same style of 501 jeans?   Could my unwavering choice of jeans be symbolic of a lifelong rut,  the equivalent of only eating Cheerios your whole life, or never leaving your house?  Do I need to change up my style of Levi’s jeans in order to change up my life?

2) Dating.  If my ass in jeans was going to be the dealbreaker in any relationship with a woman, I needed as much help as possible.  I wasn’t born with the genes for jeans.   You see, that was clever.   Clever people never have good asses.

3) Commerce.   What if I tried every single style Levi’s jean, making note of which jeans made my ass look the best, and then wrote about it in my first “fashion and lifestyle” post for middle-aged men, inspiring a whole generation to look to me as their sartorial guru?Who knows — by next year, I could be in a YouTube advertisement on the E-train, next to the fifteen year old YouTube stars?

So, that’s how this post was born.  I went into the dressing room, sneaking in every different pair of numbered Levi’s jeans as I could find in the stacks of jeans, dressing and undressing and taking photos under the worst lighting ever known to man , and probably making the men in the others stalls wondering what the hell I was doing in there with all the shuffling and clicking of the camera.

OK, men — so here is what I learned about the various Levi’s Jeans.   Just be advised that your ass might be different than mine.

First up was my old favorite — a pair of 501 jeans.

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It was important to first try on a new pair of 501 jeans as a “control” subject on which to compare and contrast the other styles.  Every since I entered my first science fair back in the day, I’ve always been very determined to follow the correct scientific approach.

The 501 has an “iconic straight fit,” but as you can see from the photo, it does very little for my ass, and the material by my thigh hangs like the drapes in a summer house.

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I don’t want to badmouth the 501. It is a sturdy, honest choice. And it is the only style of Levi’s jeans with the “signature button fly.”  Sadly, what I once found very cool, hip, and special, I now just see as something that requires extra work when I need to pee.

No to 501. It’s time to move on. Sorry, old friend.

The 505 “Regular Fit” fit pretty good, and didn’t feel much different than the 501s.  Like twin brothers.   The boring twin brother who became the accountant.

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Described as a “classic, stylish and comfortable straight leg for all occasions,” it felt as generic as the description.  No one ever gets laid wearing the 505s.

No to 505.

The 517 “Bootcut” was the only authentic boot cut that the Macy’s had in Queens, maybe because very few people in Queens ever ride their horses over the Queensborough Bridge to go to Manhattan for brunch.

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Everything just felt wrong with these jeans. They were too long, and too high, and too much room in the seat. And do cowboys really need so much extra room in the groin area? Maybe now I understand why so many of my female friends have moved to Austin. Unless I was going to attend one of those “City Slickers” dude ranches over the summer, I would feel like a idiot walking around the city in these jeans.

No to 517.

Not unsurprisingly, this particular Macy’s on Queens Boulevard sold every available type of  Levi’s”relaxed fit” style, which I think was a not so subtle way of Macy’s executives telling us that, “You are the Borough of Fat People.”

First up was the 550 “Relaxed,” which is described as “a classic laid-back fit” — and by “laid-back” I think they mean, “jeans for those who used to go to Grateful Dead concerts.”

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These jeans didn’t enhance my ass AT ALL. In fact, it made it my rear end look even less impressive than it does in real life. This is a jeans for sitting — for an outdoor music festival, for smoking pot with your baby boomer friends, for watching an entire season of Orange is the New Black.

These are not the jeans to enhance your ass.

No to 550.

The 559 “Relaxed Straight” was even worse.

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These were the worst possible jeans for my build, and the extra room in the rear made it look like I was wearing a pair of adult diapers under my jeans. Not sexy at all.

No to 559.

The 560 “Comfort Fit” continued the slide into denim atrociousness and I imagined old Levi Strauss himself turning in his grave at the thought of his name on these pants.

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The 560 is roomy in the seat and thigh, but the waist is so high that I could have lifted these pants over my head WHILE still wearing them.

No to 560.

The 569 “Loose Straight Cut” is what I affectionately called “the gangster jeans.” The fact that these pants were the biggest seller in this Macy’s says a lot about the citizens in my neighborhood, and why no one in Manhattan ever wants to come visit me in Queens.

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I always see young guys on the bus from Flushing wearing these jeans, halfway down their ass, and I never understood how they kept the pants from just falling down around their ankles. Now I know the truth. They don’t keep it up. After taking this photo, the pants fell around my ankles.

No to 569. I don’t want to show that much of my ass.

The 510 “Skinny” jeans gets a lot of press because all the young hipsters wear these in Brooklyn.  I was pretty skeptical about them until I put them on, and you know what – I thought they looked pretty good.

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Hey, I’m not bragging or anything that I still have “the right stuff.” And sure, I suppose I was a little narcissistic when I climbed on top of the seat, took off my shirt and imagined myself as Mick Jagger singing “Brown Sugar” to the mirror.

And then I sat down.  And the jeans smashed my balls into what could only be described as a vise hold, in what seemed to be a punishment for that #NotAllMen joke I made on Twitter a few weeks ago.

No to 510.

One by one, I compared the jeans.   I was in the dressing room for so long that I forgot about the time. An hour had passed, and my poor mother was wandering around Macy’s looking for me, and freaking out. And then came the announcement, said to the entire Macy’s over the loudspeaker system interrupting the music, “Will customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. Customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. You mother is looking for you.”

So, I never did try all the styles.  I felt bad for mother, and I was hungry for that Reuben.

So, now is the big reveal.   Did I find my Holy Grail of Levi’s Jeans?

And the answer is yes.   The winner was clearly the 513.

The 513 is the “Slim Straight.”  It gives you a bit of the snugness of the skinny jeans, but lets you keep your testicles for future reference.  It is comfortable like the 501, just not as baggy.

513

Look at my ass.  Have you ever seen it looking any better?

I know this post was probably long-winded, something that Bethany Mota or Michelle Phan or any of those fifteen year old superstars would never do in any of their YouTube fashion videos, but remember — this is only my first lifestyle post, so I’m still learning.

Feeling a Little Blue

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Sophia, Flushing

I enjoy getting comments which read “Oh, Neil, that was so funny. You made me morning.” I like them so much, I hate bringing up times when I’m feeling a little down. I’ve only been in New York for one day, and while I should be absolutely joyous, I’m feeling sort of blue. I’m not sure if it is the bleak sky, the cold, or just missing therapy this week. Even seeing my Mom and eating the perfect bagels hasn’t broken me out of the rut.

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Bagels, Flushing

My screenplay pitch is still on the backburner while the writer’s strike continues. It is hard convincing yourself that you have the “greatest comedy story ever written” for more than a month before you start having doubts. There are a couple of big expense concerns coming up, and thinking about money makes me anxious.

On Monday, at LAX, we had a hour to kill before our flight, so I watched travelers running around, catching fights. It is big world out there, with so many countries and cities I want to see. Will I get to visit everywhere I want? Will I have the time? The money? Today, I found my old stamp collection in my closet. I had organized all of my international stamps into little envelopes titled France, India, Madagascar, etc. I must have been around ten years old. Some of the countries on the list, mostly African ones, don’t even exist anymore! I’m sure I dreamed of traveling to all of these places one day. Now, I’m less sure of myself. Maybe I won’t ever get to Madagascar after all! And that would be sad. Time is moving too fast.

Time also plays games with the mind. Although my mother had done a great job in redecorating the apartment in the last year, the memory of my father is still strong. Everywhere you look, there is a part of him, from his collection of slides he took in the army or massive collection of ties. His essence is here. While it is nice that his presence is felt, it is sad that he is not here in person.

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A familiar view from my old room while lying on the bed

I’m glad Sophia came along to New York. She’s always fun (except for the traveling by plane part where she brings too much luggage). Still, we are theoretically moving closer to the date when I will move out of the house. We both think it would be good to take a break and have some alone time. My therapist didn’t even think it was a good idea to travel to New York together, but what fun would it be without her? Sophia is sleeping right now, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotional ups and downs about our future.

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The confusion over our relationship has created problems for my sex life and my dreams are becoming more anxiety-ridden by the day. Last night, I combined all my fears about writing, Hollywood, and sex in to one big stew of bizarre dreaming:

In the dream, I had just spoken to this movie producer on the phone. The writer’s guild strike was still going on, so my pitch was postponed again. I needed to quickly make more money, so I looked in the newspaper. I ended up getting a job with a CSI crime unit. I was hired to be a special “closer.” My daily assignment: I would go down on a female suspect, and from her taste, I would learn all these facts about her. “She’s 32, runs two miles a day, and loves Cheerios,” I would say to the police captain as I lifted my head up from between her thighs. “She’s a graduate of Princeton with a B.A. in Religion and she is lying about hitting her husband over the head with that baseball bat.” My authority was never questioned and this Princeton religious studies graduate was thrown in jail for committing murder. Rather than feeling good about myself, I fretted about my “interrogation.” I had the nagging feeling that I tasted her incorrectly and put the wrong woman behind bars.

After this dream, I woke up with a terrible headache. And now there’s two more weeks without therapy! God help us all.

Tomorrow, we’re going to MOCA, and maybe meeting Tamar of Mining Nuggets for coffee (that is if she’s not afraid of me after hearing about my dream). Email me if you live in New York and know of some cool things going on or restaurants that you love.

The 2007 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

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Logo Design by Vanessa of the Butterfly Blog (get an array of concert buttons for your site at her blog)

THE CONCERT PROGRAM

Were You There on Christmas Night?
sung by Lizardek (“the Swedish Celine Dion”) with Sharon Johns

Sleigh Ride
sung by Heather (“Broadway Baby”) of OMSH

Mele Kalikimaka
sung by Kerflop (“The Virtual Hawaiian Honey”)

Have Yourself a Very Merry Little Christmas
sung by the — Greeblemonkey and Ms. Sizzle (“the Simon and Garfunkel of Christmas”)

The Man with the Bag
by Vanessa “the Fourth Andrews Sister” of the Butterfly Blog (not her real talking voice!… she wants you to know)

Silent Night
by Erin (“Vivacious Voice”) Villanovababy (and hubby Tim Cooper on guitar)

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
sung by Sophia, (“Hot and Spicy Songstress”)

Coventry Carol
sung by NFH “The Minnesota Mantovani” from This Journey

Everyboy Got Pissed At the Party (a little adult)
sung by Whit “Rapper Whiteboy” of Honea Express

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
sung by “Ukelele Pam” of Nerd’s Eye View

Vermont Snow (an original song)
sung by MapleMama “Green Mountain Diva”

The Christmas Song
sung by Bec (“The British Barbra”) of Out of My Tree

Light Up (Himmelman/Broza)
by Psychotoddler (“Jewish Doctor Feelgood”)

INTERMISSION

Carol of the Bells
by Merry Mishaps (“They Call Me Merry”)

Mi Yimalel
sung by Danny (“Wilco’s Secret Band Member”) of Jew Eat Yet

Ner Li (Hanukkah)
by Otir (“the Female Jacques Brel”) of Un Jour a La Fois

I’m Dreamin’ of a White Trash Christmas
by AKA Monty (“Let’s Make a Deal”) of The Daily Bitch

O Little Town of Bethlehem
sung by Hilly (“The Hills Are Alive”) of Snackie’s World

Mon Beau Sapin (Christmas)
by Otir (“the Female Jacques Brel”) of Un Jour a La Fois

Baby, it’s Cold Outside
sung by Ms. Sizzle (“Ms. Claus”) and her special Santa

Te Harinui (a New Zealand Christmas song)
by Dee (“The Diana Ross of Down Under”) of Singular Scene

Hanukiah Li Yesh
sung by Tamar ( “the Philly Sound”) of Mining Nuggets

Christmastime is Here
sung by Angela “Jazz Hands” of Fluidpudding

“Light Up”
with Psychotoddler in a live concert version

Love
from Kyran Pittman (“The Poetess of Song”) from Notes to Self

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
sung by Saviabella (“the Sweetheart of Saskatchewan”)

… and a special performance by Sophia (“Hot and Spicy Songstress”), who sings…

Flicker Wicker,
a new Hanukkah song she wrote especially for this concert, done to the tune of ABBA’s Super Trouper. (You know how much I love ABBA.)

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Sophia

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Christmas photo by Whit

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Christmas photo by Greeblemonkey and Ms. Sizzle

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Christmas photo by Erin and Tim

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Winter Wonderland photo by Vanessa

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Christmas photo by Mckay

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Christmas photo by Dutch Blitz

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Hanukkah photo by Tamara Eden

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Christmas photo by Whoorl

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Christmas photo by Jennifer of Open Book

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Christmas photo by Laurel

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Hanukkah photo by Letter B

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Creative Advent Calendar photo by Kerflop

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Christmas photo by Assertagirl

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Christmas photo by Cici.

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Christmas photo by Alissa and Evan

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Christmas photo by Gorilllabuns

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Christmas photo by Jill of GlossyVeneer

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Holiday photos by Shash

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Happy Holidays! The Christmahanukwanzaakah Holiday concert will be re-broadcast on Christmas Day, so feel free to send me any new material if you missed today’s deadline, whether it be audio, video or Holiday photos.

Relive the memories! — The 2006 Christmahanukwanzaakah Holiday Concert

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