Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Goth Goes Mainstream: The...
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Goth Goes Mainstream: The Moody, Dark Look Lights up the Teen Set

Nancy Sundstrom - August 14th, 2003
It’s unthinkable to many, but horror of horrors, goth culture seems to have gone mainstream.
Initially associated with bands such as Siouxsie & the Banshees and Bauhaus, the goth movement grew out of the punk rock scene of the late ‘90s, and became its own subculture. Punk and goth seemed to be cousins, in that both rejected mainstream conformity and stressed rebellion, but where punk was savage and political, goth was moody and artistic .
Goth itself means many different things to its practitioners, but its primary trademarks are its unique music, art and literature, a focus on medieval, Victorian and Edwardian history, and the wearing of particular symbols ranging from an Egyptian ankh to a Wiccan pentacle. And of course, fashion has always been the most evident expression, dominated by over-the-top vampire chic couture, extreme black clothing and corpse-white make-up.

For guys, some common goth looks include a fishnet shirt and vinyl or leather pants with boots and accessories; and a white shirt (sometimes with the collar folded up to cover the neck), black pants, a black vest, boots or dress shoes. Some guys opt for makeup, skirts, corsets and heels, which is not meant in the spirit of cross-dressing, but is truer to the attitude that gothic tends to be an androgynous culture overall, one that challenge social and gender barriers.
Women tend to favor ensembles such as a cleavage-baring corset top with a long, flowing or tutu-like skirt; crushed velvet dresses; and fishnet shirts with a black bra underneath, a bondage belt, and a short vinyl or long velvet skirt, tight leggings or stirrup pants. Frequently completing the look are fishnet stockings, bondage gear, high heels or heel boots.
For both sexes, goth and punk have many common elements, most notably wearing chains,
spikes or studs (usually attached to a leather jacket or collar, belt or bracelets), tattoos, piercings, (tongue, nose and nipple piercings seem most common), combat boots or Doc Martens, band T-shirts (and having band stickers on your car, notebook, etc), and dyed, sprayed chaotic hair, sometimes with extensions.

Up until recently, these have been looks that seemed to belong to a depressed and deviant lot, but no more. This is now an age where apple-cheeked 13-year-old girls sport Korn and Slipknot T-shirts. Locally, you can find “Anarchy in the Pre-K“ onesies for your toddler at stores that range from national chains like K-Mart and Hot Topic to local independents such as Spider & the Fly in downtown Traverse City.
Melanie Villanueva is the owner of Spider & the Fly, which was better known as Damage, Inc. until it moved into its new, expanded location in the 200 Block of East Front Street in Traverse City this past April. Villanueva’s store carries a wide range of counter-culture clothing and accessories, and she says her inventory is constantly changing and growing, much like the clientele she serves.
“I’m not sure how big the Goth look ever was here or even the punk look for that matter, primarily because northern Michigan seems to be a fairly conservative area in a lot of regards, especially fashion,“ said Villanueva. “I feel like I haven’t seen as much of the look anymore, even in more urban cities. Some people believe it’s sort of died down since the release of the movie, “The Crow,“ but I think a big part of that is also due to the fact that it seems so mainstream, so accessible. When you can walk into stores at a mall or go into a K-Mart for a Slipknot T-shirt, how rebellious is that? And rebellion is a big part of what the look and the attitude are all about.“

At Spider & the Fly, there’s a fair amount of items that reflect counter-culture trends, mainly in the form of band T-shirts, wrist bands, spikes, crosses, armor rings and other kinds of jewelry, patches for clothing, Chuck Taylor tennis shoes, platform boots and hair dyes and sprays.
“If anything, goth has always been a bit more glamorous than punk, with all the make-up, robes, long trenchcoats, velvet dresses and ruffled shirts,“ explained Villanueva. “Punk has more had the look that says you just rolled out of bed and put on what you’ve been wearing for the past few days.
“What I’m seeing today is young people favoring being eclectic and individual over following a trend like goth or punk. That’s what we see and what we cater to. We’re more likely to get people in here looking for Good Charlotte t–shirts and wrist bands than we will costumes for vampire role-playing. If anything, bubble gum punk is where it’s at.“
Late one afternoon, Villanueva’s assessment got a confirmation from Keri and Amber, two 14-year-old students who attend East Junior High in Traverse City, who were perusing Spider & the Fly’s merchandise as they were doing some back-to-school shopping. They were checking out the store’s hot rod-inspired clothing and ‘60s button-down shirts decorated with flames, along with items featuring the “risque“ 1950s pin-up icon Betty Page, and some things from Paul Frank, who uses a monkey face on everything from underwear and bathing suits to hats and shirts.

“This is one of the few place you can go in this town if you don’t want to wear what everybody else picks up at Gap or Old Navy or American Eagle,“ offered Keri. “It’s a cool store and a lot of our friends come down here.“
Added Amber, “You can usually find something that’s different, and if we can’t find it here we go to Hot Topic, but that’s about it, unless you go out of town to Chicago or somewhere else to shop. Maybe that’s why so many people look the same here. There was a time when I guess I wanted to look like everybody else, but I really don’t want to do that anymore. You don’t have a style if you wear the same clothes everyone else has.“
Defining an individual style becomes more of a personal challenge, says Villanueva, as well as one for a retailer trying to succeed as an independent.
“When rebellion shifts into the mainstream, it forces you to you to move on from a retail aspect,“ she said. “I look around at downtown, and we’ve got our niche, just like Ella’s does with vintage clothing, and we’re all trying to cater to what our customers want. In the end, we all have to cater to the mainstream to stay viable, and that means having a pretty wide mix of product.“

That elusive mix of product has resulted in Spider & the Fly carrying more rock band t’s, Paul Frank items, and those for kids who aren’t even out of diapers yet. In addition to the “Anarchy in the Pre-K“ shirts for little tykes, there are ones that say “Cereal Killer“ or have a Metallica logo on them.
“It’s the twisted mindset of their parents and even their grandparents that’s making this stuff fly out the door,“ said Villanueva, who recently devoted her front window to a “biker baby“ theme. “I never would have guessed that this would be the big hit of the summer, but it has been.“
Spider & the Fly is also well-known for offering piercing and tattoo services, and just like the clothing, that seems to have gone quite mainstream, as well.
“Once upon a time, only big, bad bikers or guys in the service had tattoos, and then it caught on with young people rebelling. Now, do you know who we’re seeing the most of? Women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s who have gotten divorces or the kids have left the house, and they’re doing this as a way to reclaim their life or marking a special event. The rebellion thing isn’t such a part of it anymore.“
Rachel Levine is a Traverse City resident who is moving to Boston, MA this fall to study sociology at the University of Massachusetts. She says she shops at Hot Topic and Spider & the Fly, but doesn’t consider herself to have a particular style sensibility other than “eclectic.“
“I’ve never really followed a fashion trend and some of that has been because I don’t think there’s ever been a particular one that was all that big here,“ said 19-year-old Levine. “A lot of young people want to be homogenic and look like each other, so something like goth just seems so different and alternative. Out east, I’ve seen more variety than jeans and T-shirts, with more vintage and retro stuff and polka dots, saddle shoes and swing dresses. I just look for anything that’s cheap and interesting, and that’s about as much of a style as I want to have.“

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11.14.2016 at 12:46 Reply
The former patrons of Spider and The Fly might be interested in joining the Facebook group for Traverse City goths (and like-minded souls). It's a good place to keep track of what's happening in the local scene, and meet people with similar interests. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1727816154113818/