June 10th, 1998
Cheer up. It can't possibly rain forever. Summer's just a bit tardy, that's all. Many of you have sought refuge in that little box of the '90s, searching for sunshine online and cruising WEB sites about Bermuda and such. I myself was indulging in some virtual fun-seeking when I came across www.cyberthings.com, a fashion site full of bright, crazy clothing that will dissolve those rainy-day blues faster than a spoonful of Viagra in your morning OJ.
Perusing the site is a pleasure. Rainbow graphics lead you in and out of pages showcasing world welterweight boxing champion Paul Nave modeling a late-Elvis era jumpsuit festooned with tiny red lights along with blond bombshells displaying the latest in electric lingerie. Accessories like blinking computer controlled earrings (quite handy when trying to find your keys after a night on the town) and trance-inducing sunglasses (not recommended while operating heavy machinery) aid their wearers in creating a little Las Vegas everywhere they wander.
The site itself and everything on it are the brain muchkins of one Jim Fox, Marin resident and self-described mad-scientist." He calls his creations "programmable clothing" and has appeared wearing them at countless rock concerts and festivals around the Bay Area, as well as local bars and downtown street corners after dark. "All of it is designed to be interactive," Fox said as he held up an enormous tangle of wires outside Cafe Amsterdam. "I've designed dresses, jewelry and toys."
A fortyish hippie-type with an elfin grin Fox seems to magnetize an instant crowd. As he twirled around a wand winking every color on the palette, a gaggle of teenagers gathered around the chain link fence where he'd strung up a few pairs of his ga-ga glasses. A barefoot, ponytailed blond tried them out, and after a few minutes, reported flashing sparks and psychedelic fractels.
After discerning that the contraption didn't cause immediate raving lunacy, I popped 'em on. A groovy laser light show sparkled through my grey matter - a kind of vanilla acid trip. Fox claimed the goggles have therapeutic value and the fancy flickering "sucks all the thoughts out of your brain." He paused for a nanosecond, "Only the bad thoughts. It leaves the good thoughts."
The other gizmos were equally intriguing, although I declined Fox's offer to model the velvet-lined, leather "cyberbra." His pigment-changing quartz crystal structure was a big hit on the street, oozing into deep greens and purples like a mood ring on a schizophrenic. Fox danced in a circle with a few 9-year-olds who had escaped a birthday dinner down the block. "I'm the Pied Piper! The kids love this stuff!" Indeed, the children oohed and aahed over each glimmer, and when their parents came to collect them, everyone stayed entranced. One urchin cried out "You're smart mister! You're like Einstein!"
For sure, Fox's vision extends above and beyond menial consciousness. He's keenly aware of enviornmental abuses, and uses an electric sign with a keypad for hitchhiking rather than drive a car. Fox says that a benefit fashion show for St. Vincent's Dining Hall is "in the works". However, the star-studded cast he's imagining could be referred to as a bit - *ahem* - fantastic. "I want Sean Penn, Robin Williams, Sharon Stone, Chelsea Clinton - She'll be a hard one," he said. "Don't think her dad would like it too much."
Well, stranger things have happened. It's all an illusion anyway, so for the time being, forget the sun. The freaks come out at night, as they say, and you won't see their wares by the light of day.
(c) 1998 The Pacific Sun