The 21rst Century Relevance of Halloween

That day has come.  We are in the present of a future only imagined in science fiction novels and comic books from decades past, a respective conclusion of Fritz Lang’s 1927 vision.  Westernization has become the Metropolis in which we live – the well-oiled, fire-breathing machine that feeds off the blood, sweat and tears of nations enslaved to the system itself.  Historical social contract has up sprung a nightmarish embodiment of new-age restrictions, manifesting our own cynicism, narrow-mindedness and spiritual anarchism, to which there is no longer any magic left in the world.  1984 is 2011 going on 2040.  We are those futuristic drones from Lang’s expressionist film, from Orwell’s compelling imagery: shuffling in and out of the Big Brother workplace like marching penguins dressed in black and white, matching our outsides with our insides.  We speak in codes and cling desperately to the addiction of our remote technologies.  Surrealism has replaced realism.  We don’t even need to be our own person anymore.  Alter-egos projectile into cyberspace via social networking platforms to create a new world of celebrity in which we make-believe ourselves into anyone we want to be – anyone, except who we really are.  Our phones talk for us, our cars drive for us, our computers compute for us, our machines make and break for us, and we, the Wizard of Oz, sit behind the smoke and mirrors of this global farce, not sure whether to laugh or cry, (maybe there’s an “APP” for that?…)  Too much is at stake for us to be so cavalier about it all.  We are losing our instincts, if we haven’t already lost our humanity.

There is something eerily apocalyptic in our inherent quest for greatness and absolutism.  As if the ‘the meaning of life’ has simply been reduced to an anagram for ‘the fine game of nil’: the more we look, the more there is nothing left to see.  In this day and age of media, technology, profit and gains, alchemy within the world has been stripped bare, reduced to vague reflections in store windows and dancing plastic bags embracing in a sinister gust of wind.  Customs and traditions like Halloween have become a commercial means to a profitable end, where we gain disposable, shallow ideals from the loss of true substance and meaning.  Oh how predictable we have become! Work to spend, and spend just so we can work again.   It is true, the overstimulation of our technologically-charged culture, has under-stimulated our intrinsic understanding and insight, leaving us deeply deprived and starving for a sense of bewilderment and perplexity in the wizardry and witchcraft of the unknowns.  Yes, indeed, we yearn for the return to a world that wriggled in an infinite regression of possibilities.

All Hallow’s Eve is an adrenalin shot of magical mystical wonder straight into the heart of society’s indifference.  It reconciles us with simpler ideas, and acts as reprieve from the burden of daily responsibility and restriction, in which we learn to trust in the wisdom of our youth once again, while stepping out of the shadowy shackles of maturity.  Halloween, like other seasonal holidays, summons the allure of our childhood, when we saw the world through the world’s unveiling, omnipresent eyes, rather than by the prejudice of our own.  Now that Halloween nears, we are reminded of this time to believe in magic again and of the importance of the supernatural element of all existence, (to which we are undoubtedly apart of).  It is time to set aside our tricorder-turned-smartphone, our pop culture trivia and YouTube references, to surrender to the deep.  So on this Hallow’s Eve, whether we share the excitement and anticipation with our children and our families, or we take a solo stroll down a dark street with nothing but moonbeams shining down from a starlit helm, we must look not with our eyes, but with our senses, hear not with our ears, but by the stirring silence within, understand not with our logical brain but with our pure spirit.  In doing so, a quiet beauty will begin to appear, like a small kindling fire catching wind from within your mind.  We shall begin to see magic again, the way our children see magic: a natural perfection that pervades and covers the entire world, like a shimmering sheath of fairy dust.  The supernatural abounds: tree moss becomes witches hair, caught in the branches and twigs as they fly by on broomsticks, black caves on rocky cliffs become the dens of dragons, ripples in the water’s surface are trace movements of mermaids, and silvery moonlit trails through the wood lead to unicorns and dwarf dwellings.

And so, Halloween, like other customs, traditions, and festive holiday seasons, satiates the needs of our humanity, and becomes imperative to the healthy functionality of our societies.  Acting as anchorage to which we are tethered and unable to drift away, even within the stormiest of seas, Halloween is an action of openness, willingness and surrender, a lightness of heart, which unveils a wider world of the infinite.  We cannot speculate about the future but we can plant the seeds and cultivate the right kind of conditions to sway the future towards a favorable, desirable outcome, one that includes magic, mystery, wonder and beauty.

-Elizabeth Cucnik



Vintage Is Indeed, Back In Vogue: THE WEDDING SHOW brings haute-couture sophistication and sensibility to Penticton

There are ideas and movements, and then, there are those ideas and movements that invoke epic sensibilities for deep-rooted change. Change and revolutionary change happen daily - within our homes, in our hearts and minds, en mass in parliaments and city halls, in corporate offices and media centers - within the very entity of globalisation. It's this need and appeal for change that defines who we are, while ideas and movements create the motion of our humanity. Fashion is not only a movement of change via protest, resistance, creation, and innovation; it may arguably be the single greatest reference point for reviewing and understanding the humanities. For fashion is to culture what war is to revolution.

When attempting to understand the true significance of what a place and business like Vintage & Vogue brings to our town, through the world of fashion, we must first understand the significance of fashion. As a generic term, Fashion is used for distinguishing popular style, practice and current trends in the look and dress up of a person. While humanity is an appeal to lateral thinking, a creative multidimensional process that moves neither forward nor backward, it's important to take note that what is current and popular, is also historical and archival. Fashion is a direct reflection of this mode de vie. 

Developments in fashion throughout history, often occurred during times of social and economic change, and through trans-cultural diffusion, (the profound spread of cultural items through an exchange of ideas via travel, exploration, religion, war and trade). Therefore, contemporary academics use fashion as a means for dating, analyzing and understanding the history and relevance of the humanities. Fashion allows us to rethink the current pop-culture, positing: what's trendy today and why? A rising interest in vintage clothing, for example, reiterates the need for a 21rst century environmental sustainability: to reuse, recycle and repair, rather than promote this throw-away society by means of excessive production of short-lived items. Vintage is back in vogue, as we rethink over-consumption with a return to quality versus quantity. Mark Twain probably said it best: "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." And so we see the rise of vintage clothing and vintage-inspired reproductions on both the high street and couture runways, as a rhyme in our cultural prose. Vintage & Vogue is not just an ode to a previous era, it is a clothing store that brings a global and historical sophistication and perspective to our town, exposing us to the reason for fashion, the powerful means by which fashion operates, and how fashion reflects and manifests the human condition.

Vintage & Vogue, along with the Penticton Lakeside Resort, are hosting one of the most enduring, exclusive events of the year - THE WEDDING SHOW.  Bringing urban high culture and Euro chic, to the thought-think of our small town, the fashion show features a callback to the Edwardian and Victorian eras, the Trousseau epoch, and affectionately explores the world of bridal obsession. The spectacle transcends absolutely, so it's easy to forget where one is, as an observer. Sitting in the dim of the audience, looking up on the bright expansive runway that serenades a train of glamorous, statuesque models, draped in the most exquisite, hand-picked vintage masterpieces, one can truly transpose. For a moment it's Milan, and the socialites abound, searching for their winter wardrobe or the perfect wedding dress, or Paris, abuzz with top industry representatives, buyers, merchandisers and fashion journalists. And when it's all over, you'll want to hit the streets of New York for that dry martini and canapés, flashing your best smile while descending into cavalier conversation. Without having to travel half a world away, it’s easy to get what you want with Vintage & Vogue at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. So dress in your finest designer garb, dust off your grandmother's coat and scarves, drape yourself in Aunt Betilda's jewellery, wear your most obnoxiously high heels and English fascinator, and have your cosmo or crantini in hand, to enjoy the show. It may not be a total revolution, but it is its own sort of triumph, creating movement and change in Penticton today, to create movement and change somewhere else, tomorrow. Tickets sell out quick, so don't delay. Prices are $20 or $35 for rushed or preferred seating and are available at the Penticton Lakeside Resort also at Vintage & Vogue, downtown Penticton. Enter to WIN a weekend getaway or a vintage brooch bouquet.  For more information call: 250-493-8221.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


Below is a clip from the Vintage & Vogue Spring Fashion Show, 2010



Rethinking Thanksgiving Beyond the Turkey

Why does the translation of autumn generously lend itself to a season of "giving thanks" and what exactly does that mean to us in our modern day society?  Surely it was more relevant during humanity's rudimentary epochs of war, systemic political and religious oppression and exploitation, feudalism, famine and rationing, plague, subsistence agriculture, and pre-industrial manufacturing... or was it?

Perhaps the relevance of Thanksgiving, as a concept, is less obvious today than it has been historically, but that doesn't mean it is any less material.  In fact, it may be even more appropriate in our current times than it ever has been before.  With our natural resources diminishing daily, global climate change fatally threatening the ecological balance in which we live and thrive, the endangered species list growing at an alarming rate, the fight for the arctic and dwindling natural resources heating up, the prevalence of extreme polarity and the rise of radicalism in political and religious fractions, not to mention war, power and struggle over Africa and the Middle East, and the global economic crisis creating shock-waves worldwide, it's definitely time to reconfigure mankind's priorities.  If the goal is to create a universal tolerance and collectiveness, enabling our survival, than we must first understand what that means. In order to change, we must appreciate, and in order to create, we must resist those things we cannot change to make room for those things we can. So where does this appreciation and impetus come from?  With the rise of chronic disease and a growing demand on healthcare comes an appreciation for general health, prevention, and well-being.  With the rising prices of oil, water and energy, the growing expanse of concrete and the greenhouse effect, comes an appreciation of natural resources and fresh produce.  With an exhausted global economy comes a renewed appreciation for the product of one's own labor and a return to the basics.  With oppression comes libretarianism, from synthetics comes a return to organics, and with exploitation comes a revival of ethics.  In sum, appreciation comes from the holes within our society, needed to be filled.  Today, Thanksgiving is about reassessing the way we view our world and its societies by rethinking morality in a much broader scope, in which we must treat our world and its people as ends rather than means to an end.

Canadians have much to be thankful for.  We still have wide open spaces to roam, wildlife to observe, forests from which to breathe, lakes and rivers from which to drink, and access to the kind of variety that would make many peoples' head spin.  So Thanksgiving and its season is not just some bequeathed historical tradition that conjures up a myopic, 17th century visual of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony breaking bread with the Native Americans; nor is it a remembrance of the English and continental-European Harvest festival, or a nearsighted understanding of Canadian, Martin Frobisher and his celebrated 16th century quest to find the Northwest Passage.  Thanksgiving is so much more than its historical references.  It is of a timeless relevance that transcends historical commentary because it pervades all things in existence to which we recognize, appreciate and respect.  So, as the much loved holiday nears, and we busy ourselves with the turkey preparations, the squash roasting, the pumpkin pie making, the leaf burning, the hot chocolate brewing, we should take a moment to remind ourselves of all that we have and are truly thankful for - not just on a personal level, but in a general consensus for a beautiful today and a better tomorrow.

-Elizabeth Cucnik