The End of all things cool

by Janelle Hanchett


A few months ago I was in Marshall’s. And while standing at the check-out line, I saw one of the strangest things my eyes have ever beheld.

It wasn’t the near-toothless twitchy check-out lady who appeared REALLY INTO her job.

It wasn’t the baby in the car seat with a bottle of brown liquid (looking oddly like soda), propped up in her mouth, as if her parent’s only mission in life was to encourage her early tooth decay.

It wasn’t even the mother towing three half-naked screaming toddlers while she yelled at her (obviously unfaithful) significant other.

It was… just sitting there…quietly…lurking on the counter…

…wait for it…

Ed Hardy hand sanitizer.

I stared in disbelief.

“Is it SO?”

I looked away. Then back again. (You know, kinda like the way you stare at a car wreck or bar fight –  the weird sick fascination with the terrifying and gruesome?)

“Is it real?”

I looked again. Looked closely.  Squinted a little. Yep. ED HARDY HAND SANITIZER. For sale. At a store, where people go.

AND THERE WERE SOME MISSING, which means, lest my keen deductive reasoning skills deceive me…that people in fact purchase this item. Real humans pay real money for this real item.

Somebody actually says to herself “Well look at this! Ed Hardy hand sanitizer! Cool! I’m going to spend my money on THAT! Now I can sanitize my hands and look like a fucking moron all at once!”

Okay maybe I added that last part.

But let me just say this directly: I think Ed Hardy is hands-down the most idiotic, disturbing, offensive (in its stupidity) brand EVER TO EXIST ON THIS PLANET. Now I know there’s a fatal flaw in that argument, namely because I don’t know every brand that’s ever existed on this planet. But I’m stickin’ with it, because I’m willing to put money on the validity of the assertion that there is nothing more lame than Ed Hardy.


You either feel me on this one or you don’t.

But let’s talk about it for a moment. Let’s talk about why Ed Hardy is horrifying and may actually symbolize the end of all things cool in America – because it’s really not about aesthetics here. While I would never choose Ed Hardy for myself , that’s not my beef with it. I can forgive people for thinking Japanese tattoo images mixed with fake diamonds is cool. I guess. And it’s from L.A.; L.A. is weird. Plus, I walk around looking like a wannabe granola-eater lazy ass, choosing my clothes based on comfort and which items make me look less fat than others, so I’d rather not talk fashion.

And I could be wrong, but I don’t think Ed Hardy was quite as lame when it first came out. For example, they didn’t make hand sanitizer.

My beef with Ed Hardy is that it represents the obscene over-commercialization and sickening materialism in our culture. It is trying so hard to BE COOL that it absolutely misses the boat on coolness. Coolness is authenticity. Uniqueness. Doing your own damn thing.

Ed Hardy represents jumping on the bandwagon (or inkwagon, in this case) because tattooing is now cool.

It’s about the unending ego-driven pursuit of crap because it has a certain label or I think it’s going to say something about me – “I’m cool” or “I’m hip” or “I have money” or “I’m a fucking jackass.”

[I always blow it in the end.]

But my run-in with that hand sanitizer drilled something spectacular and appalling into my brain: apparently with some people, the yearning for labels extends into the realm of hygiene products. Notice they are “travel size”– so they can be put in a purse and pulled out strategically so everybody knows that this girl has COOL HAND SANTIZER. (Okay I actually just laughed out loud writing that. That shit is funny.)

It just seems ridiculous to me.

Have we become such slaves to marketing propaganda that we actually believe it matters what our hand sanitizer looks like?

Oddly, Ed Hardy himself used to be cool, at least on paper. Back in the day, he apprenticed under Sailor Jerry – THE Sailor Jerry – who was this traveling whisky-drinking outcast sailor who made his living tattooing people and singing songs about liberals and how they’re ruining America. Ed Hardy turned down a Yale scholarship to study tattooing. What happened to you, dude? Sell out much?

Whatever. I’d probably do the same damn thing, had I the opportunity.

I mean how the hell else am I going to get my ass to Borneo, where I can sit around criticizing people for their taste in clothing and $3.00 hand-cleansing products?

Anyway, here’s a photo so you know I’m not making this shit up.

what I learned this week…next week I’m writing 4 posts, yo.

by Janelle Hanchett

what I learned this week…

  1. Twenty-year old women either all have breast augmentation or I’ve forgotten how perky 20-year-old’s breasts are naturally.
  2. Not that I’m looking.
  3. Apparently I was not joking when I said I’ve run out of things to say. In the last three weeks I’ve only written 6 posts. Unacceptable. This will not stand. Next week I’m writing four. Lookout.
  4. Someday I will become one of those grown-ups who listens to each voicemail they get in a timely manner. I will not be one of those individuals who stares at 37 unheard voicemails in sad and quiet desperation (because she hasn’t listened to any of them in 2 weeks) – deciding first to delete all messages from people she speaks to daily (husband, mom, etc. – because most assuredly those messages are purely logistical (“what time u getting’ the kids?”)) and all messages from people who she’s spoken with in the last 24 hours (because doesn’t the most recent conversation append and replace any former conversation?) – thereby whittling the number down to 24 and forcing herself to push the “play” button even when the phone has recorded 2 minutes 45 seconds of message that could have been said in 15 seconds or not said at all or better yet, TEXTED.
  5. By the way, why can’t we all just TEXT, at least most of the time?
  6. My kids are well-behaved in restaurants. They are. I’m owning that small victory.
  7. I guess it’s alright to not feel overly compelled to sit in a café or small room or in front of the computer writing…because it’s summer. And I want to get out. It’s fun to get out in the summer. Especially when it’s 112 degrees. That’s really fun.
  8. My 5-year-old son is incapable of flushing the toilet without being reminded. He will never do it, ever. Is there a mental handicap surrounding toilet-flushing? Sorry, Rocket’s future partner. I tried.
  9. I finally discovered a serious advantage to being totally and completely disorganized: you can find ANYTHING in your car if you look hard enough. Last night we went to a party out in the country (which is, evidently, another climate, even though it’s 1.5 miles from my house). The wind started blowing and it got COLD. Like sweatshirt cold and I didn’t pack enough warm stuff for the baby. However, I was able to locate one pair of pants, one pair of socks AND A BEANIE in my car. Pshht. Well-prepared mother if you ask me.
  10. In 3 weeks my baby girl will be one. Is it just me or do years actually pass by more quickly as you get older? Damn.
13 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | July 10, 2011

And then, we moved to Borneo.

by Janelle Hanchett


Houston, we have a problem.

Janelle is out of shit to say.

NOOOOOOO!!!!! (voice fades off into the distance…)

There’s no way.

OR, she has so much to say she doesn’t know where to begin.

Enough with the third person.

Ever feel like your life is one giant holding pattern? Only you don’t know what it is exactly you’re waiting for?

For things to settle down, maybe. Get stable. Easier.

For more money to come around. For the real career to begin. For the kids to get bigger.

(Even though you nearly cried when your boy showed you his first loose tooth yesterday.)

For life to start fulfilling you all the time, for the vision to become reality. For the image you held of adulthood to become what IS.

Yes, please.

I’ll take some of that.

And I know what y’all enlightened people will say… “Live in the moment, Janelle. Wake up! Be present! Be conscious! Don’t waste your life!”

But none of that self-talk changes the fact that this shit is really hard. And sometimes it appears REALLY QUITE MEANINGLESS.

I mean check it out. We get up. We go to work. We drive around. We do shit. We eat. We sleep. We have fun occasionally. We work and work and work again. My husband works and works and works, pretty much 7 days a week.


So we have a house and a car and food and some “savings” and retirement money and an occasional vacation somewhere, so my kids have an opportunity to misbehave in a new environment.

And my kids go to school so they can become good working Americans.

And we go to work so my kids can go to school to become good working Americans.

But what about living?

When do we do THAT? When do we get to just BE? When do we get to stop struggling for the bigger house and bigger car and better clothes…For the time and date when we look around at our lives and say “Sweet. We have ARRIVED.”

I lived in Barcelona for a year (studied abroad in college), and my Spanish friend told me an expression they use over there: “Spaniards work to live. Americans live to work.”


That’s true.

I’ve never forgotten that. And I saw it when I was there. I thought those Spaniards just didn’t have any drive – I thought they lacked ambition, the way they just kinda hung out and worked as little as they could, spending much more time in cafes and bars with friends…not really concerned with getting ahead or getting rich…leaving work at 3pm in the summer cause it’s just too damn hot, taking 2 months of vacation a year…closing their businesses for the afternoon siesta…every day.

But even then, I had to admit: those people seemed HAPPY.

I’m not trying to stereotype an entire nation. Those were just my general observations, of a culture I was living in for the first time.

But I think they have a few things figured out. I think their priorities make sense: do what you have to do to enjoy your damn life. Then, enjoy your damn life.

Because this is it, folks. This is the only chance we get.


Am I going to give a shit how big my house is when I’m 80 and dying? How nice my cars were? How much money my kids make?

Probably not.

I will, however, probably feel it deeply if I wasted my life in the ego-driven pursuit of STUFF, buying into the well-established fallacy of the American Dream, at the cost of my contentment, my time, my joy.

My life.

Part of me wants to fuck this whole deal, move elsewhere (Borneo, perhaps?), run some goofy dive shop or café and just live. Let my kids run around. Let my mind run around. Stop seeking earning running.

Sit in cafes with friends. Make enough money to get by.

Work to live.

Clearly it’s too hot. I’m losing my damn mind.

Or, I’m ready for a change. I think I’m on the brink of change.

I just don’t quite know what it is yet…

what it is exactly I’m waiting for.


What I learned this week…wait. I can’t remember this week.

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. I’m having a little trouble remembering the past week (which is a little alarming), so we’re just going to limit this list to things I’ve learned in the past day. or so.
  2. I’m not sure I could survive in an environment without air conditioning.
  3. I hope we can afford to run the air conditioning as much as I’ve been running it.
  4. If we cannot afford to run the air conditioning as much as I’ve been running it, I’m going to keep running it like I normally do and lie to my husband about it.
  5. It’s too bad they don’t have a coffee delivery service. This morning, upon discovering we are out of coffee, (oh hells yeah at least I remember that far back) I faced a predicament: leave my house in the 100 degree heat, by myself with ALL THREE kids, at a time that interferes with the infant’s morning nap (which is, incidentally, the only guaranteed nap of the day) thereby risking a day of annoyed-and-irritated-baby-for-undisclosed-reasons….OR, not have coffee (which seems out of the question, right?). Strangely, I chose option 3: drink a shit-load of earl grey tea and hope for the best.
  6. Earl grey works, in a pinch. (And by “work” I mean of course “prevented that knife-stabbing caffeine-withdrawal headache until you are forced to leave the house and can buy more coffee.”)
  7. On Friday (oh look! I remember two days ago!) we celebrated my father-in-law’s 60th birthday party in St. Helena, at a sort of wine & cheese wealthy-person street fair. You walk around to all the shops and each one is serving a different wine, the idea being that you get drunk and buy shit, I guess. Since we don’t drink, we just kind of walked around and looked at things we can’t afford and scowled at the yuppies. It was fun though. The Napa Valley is supremely beautiful and my father-in-law’s sisters are some badass women, all married to laidback, really smart nice men. Good family makes all things fun.
  8. While attending the aforementioned street fair, I noticed two things: 1. Hair-flipping 21-year-olds with fake tans, who do that screaming thing when they see each other (you know the one…arms up, running toward one another, ‘oh my GAAWWWWWWD!’) are just as annoying on the street as in a bar (counter to what one would think, the scream does not dissipate in the open air, nor does the scent of their perfume); 2. No matter how thin they are, there are some outfits that should just not be worn on 50-year-old women. Just should not.
  9. Vital realizations almost always come to me AFTER I’ve blown it, rendering the said realization useless in terms of preventative value. They only serve as the catalyst for the quiet utterance of the following words: “Oh FUCK I really should not have said that.”  For example, we take these “Myers-Briggs” tests at work and I always think it’s hysterical to make jokes about trying to rig the test so I come out a “feeler” (which is a more sensitive type person). AND THEN after making this joke numerous times, the thought steals into my mind, like a thief in the night: “Janelle, you know, you might not want to make that joke any more, considering it involves FEELERS, who, be nature, get their feelings hurt more often, they may not think you’re funny, Einstein.” DOH! SHIT! But the thing is I wasn’t trying to make fun of the feelers, I was making fun of myself, for being so non-feeler-like…you know, the juxtaposition of my personality with the label “feeler.” You see, then I try to make it better, and it just gets worse.
  10. Although, is it possible to rig one of those tests?

Oh well. Some people never learn. Have a good week!

5 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | July 3, 2011

Idiot surfing!

by Janelle Hanchett


I have a new favorite past-time. It’s called “idiot surfing.” It involves reading parenting chat-boards and Facebook comments in response to questions involving mothering. It’s not really a past-time, but I do in fact engage in the activity with relative frequency. I don’t really know why. I mean, I know where it’s going to lead and it’s all bad. I see the question, I know I’m going to hate some of the answers…I know I’m going to have moments filled with rage, moments filled with desperation at the plight of humanity, moments filled with “good God I don’t even know you, yet somehow, I fucking hate you” – and yet, I read any way. So I decided I might as well generate some good (or something productive, at least) out of this particular sadism.

Therefore, this blog post. I have a feeling this won’t be the only one.

Recently I saw the following question on Facebook: “Do you allow your kids to have toy guns? Why or why not?”

And here were some of the responses that generated one or all of the aforementioned visceral reactions:

  1. “No. My husband and I both agree that guns represent violence against people and animals and those are equally abhorrent to us.” – Obviously violence against people and animals is abhorrent. But really? Do you have to say shit like that? It just sounds so pretentious and holier-than-thou. I bet the person that wrote this is one of those really loud vegans (oh come on, you know the type), with a “Do no harm” bumper sticker on her car, which is ironic, considering driving a car in the first place is, well, doing harm. Carbon footprint, bitch. Plus, do guns really represent violence? Or is it the person behind the gun, pulling the trigger? Is a gun, alone in the wilderness, still a gun? Hmmmmm. Deep thoughts.
  2. 2. “We have a squirt gun. but we dont call it a gun – its a “squirter”. No guns!”– Um, hey genius. You can call it whatever the fuck you want, but it’s still a gun. Does calling it “squirter” diminish any of its gun-ness? I could call war a “drum circle” but I don’t think that would help any, now would it? And, you might want to consider the occasional, strategic use of apostrophes.
  3. 3. “Uh, no.” – Translation: “How could you even ask me such a question? What kind of idiot do you think I am? Everybody with even the slightest sense of perspective, of depth, of good parenting, would never even think of such a thing as allowing a kid to play with a TOY GUN. Pssshht. I’m so above that I can’t even respond.”
  4. “I don’t stop my kids from playing with them. But often I give them ideas of how to use them as energy healing guns! Where they shoot loving healing energy at their target, or shoot beams of zero point energy to stop and move things :)” – I forgot the other reaction: vomiting a little in my mouth. Fucking healing energy. Oh shit. There it is again. *hacking noise*

I’m sending all of you some healing energy. It’s called “go idiot surfing and immediately feel better about yourself.”

And, next on the list, we have a quick one. Here’s the question: “How do you teach your kids about Earth Day?”

And the only response we need to highlight…

“Homesteading- the same thing we do every day But I did make homemade bread this morning and three kinds of jelly: spicy tomato, dandelion, and mint (the last two made from foraged plants!)” – What the FUCK is ‘homesteading?’ And you baked homemade bread and crafted three kinds of jelly from “foraged plants?” You’re a damn liar. Stop lying. You know you went to Grocery Outlet.

Foraged plants.

Kids will probably end up weed dealers.

But it’s cool. Cause it’s ‘homesteading.’

Whatever the fuck that is.

So…what do ya think of my new past-time?