Tuesday, March 9, 2010
What's your idea of "good stuff?"
Mine can be described in three words. Mysterious. Seductive. Liberating.
Like leftover cheese and onion pizza. Peanut butter straight from the jar. A bubble bath and a quiet evening with nothing other than a good book and a great bottle of wine. A warmed face of sunshine and a mouthful of clean country air. An art museum. Sand on a beach. A sleeping dog.
Now think about what some may consider "common."
Much less exciting, but still, maybe all the same. Maybe what we tend to think of as "good" is easily discernable as "common" and vice versa. Hence, "uncommonly good stuff," may be rather difficult to come by.
So recently when I sat down to locate something as uncommon as a masquerade ball mask for my daughter's upcoming prom, I was rather surprised by how many varieties of vendors Google supplied with the click of a button. There was site after site that listed mask after mask and after a short while I was bored, completely bored and left with a sinking feeling that nothing would ever be great enough for my uncommonly good kid.
Then I found The J. Peterman Company site. In all fairness, I was told to go there by someone who knows me well. He said, "You know where you should look? J. Peterman. Like on Seinfeld. It's right up your alley."
So I did and I found love: the vintage flounce skirt. I also found a few masks that were perfect for the ball. Mysterious. Seductive. Liberating.
I was so enthralled by it all that I signed up for the email list. And I've since returned to the site to be delighted each and every time. I've also blogged a tiny about them.
So when I got the email invite to check out their newest adventure - a online off-shoot rendering of a sneak peek into the mind of John Peterman himself, I thought to my uncommon self, "Why not?" Here is my take on Peterman's Eye; A Community of Curious Travelers.
It's a site that may or may not be from the desk of J. Peterman, but all the same, is written in the same unnerving yet pragmatic prose that beckons even the most mundane and traditional digestor of noteworthy news and gossip to read and ponder and occassionally chuckle. Akin to the retail site and the mail-order business, this site keeps with the theme of delivering unto it's viewers a sense of real old-world value and virtue coupled with a relentless quest to understand and experience every little last detail of the total experience (including new technologies)..like using the back of your fork to mash up the tiniest morsels of cake left on your birthday plate. Leaving you delightfully full and wondering what is to come, this site does not disappoint in it's main content or composure.
Similar to the astonishing flapper dress, the community-news style world traveler companion site offers a rare combination of let it all hang out fun with sophistication that you'll wear through any season. For any reason...check it out...politics, news and gossip, farming, history, travel...are among the top navs with sidebar content that will compliment the main drivers of a story.
As a reader, the stories unfold one tale of incongruence after another in a most amiable fashion, like buttressing Sir Thomas Malory up against Mark Twain in order to set a tone of mystery and balance like no other. (Alas, I consider Mark Twain among those like no other, after all.)
The site offers glimpse's into diverse topics such as finding your favorite chateau while donning your favorite cowboy hat while traveling to places you have never traveled before...uncovering the fame and peril of Knighthood while claiming that perhaps not even the most feminist among us would argue that, "women and children in the lifeboats first." And much much more when it comes to crossing the globe in relative fashion with relatively good fashion.
The best content is perhaps the links to history and bits and pieces of interesting facts that the author weaves throughout the main text - very much Peterman-style prose. It's not all up in your face with literary references and uppity dialogue, either. It's totally readable and pleasant and makes a reader want to learn the why's and how's and fasctinating history behind contemporary thoughts and practices. If for nothing more than pulling out of your back pocket the next time you want to impress the opposite sex, Peterman can be counted on for providing you with a litany of water cooler topics and factoids that are sure to assist in winning a deal, closing a deal or bedding a business partner. Seductive, indeed.
The right side navigation offers portlets to travel destinations that I am guessing the Peterman clan hand-picked via targeted marketing strategies and such. Nice work here. I didn't see a Cancun trip for college co-eds (thank God) but I did see an available chateau in the south of France that offers tours of Monet's gardens at Giverny. Holy crap! Who wouldn't want to do that?
Here is what I am curious about: who are the 52 commenters for the link to an article on bread? I realize that J. Peterman appears to have personally crafted a short note recommending a link back to his local Lexington paper, but really, who are these people who care so much? (I adore people who care, by the way!) Are they bread makers? Basket weavers? Devout followers? Restaurant owners? Employees? Wow. 52 comments is impressive. Or rather, it's the norm for this beta blog. Every article I investigate offers dozens of comments; ranging from a minimum of 15 to over 165. The topics of discussion cover the spectrum and the posting variation is quite regular, so it seems his team takes this site serious. But I'm not so much interested in cutting through 52 comments about bread. I tend to look for repeating themes in reviews to best gauge true consumer feedback. A quick look around the site shows me that Peterman offers a sort of incentive for feedback. Aha. A novel approach to collecting opinions in this world of naysayers and trend-jumpers, it seems Peterman is on a quest to keep his little piece of the pie. His interactive incentive program is called Peterman's Coat of Arms and basically as a consumer, you get rewarded for your level and depth of blog comment participation. Interesting. Not necessarily mysterious or liberating, but maybe a hint of seduction.
And what else can I say? I agree with Teiresias, for I am female and as much as I ache for challenge, I also enjoy an occasional lifeboat.