Illustration by Bob AulYou know how some guys wear their sunglasses on the back of their head or neck? My friend Kresal totally invented that!
One day, back in the 1980s, I saw him, and he had his sunglasses on the back of his neck. I didn't say anything because if you knew Kresal, you'd know you don't ask him about stuff like that—or anything else. Sure enough, the first time I heard someone say something like, “Hey, Kresal, your sunglasses are on the back of your neck,” they got, “You think they jumped there?” right back.
Though Kresal's innovation was not an overnight sensation, it did have some immediate effects—not the least of which was its impact on the ladies. Kresal and I were working in the sports department of the Los Angeles Times' Orange County edition in the mid-'80s. Working with us was S., a real blue-blooded chick who went to school back East and who probably thought she had seen it all, but she had never seen Kresal with his sunglasses on the back of his neck! I'll never forget the first time I saw her lay eyes on Kresal with his sunglasses on the back of his neck. She walked into the office, took one look at him and said, “Who's the idiot?”
Who? Just Kresal, my fair lady. And now, 15 years later, that woman is the managing editor of a large metropolitan newspaper, and Kresal is answering the phone at a dot-com in Costa Mesa—follow your dreams, kids!
I thought about Kresal's sunglasses the other day when I was at Disneyland, and I saw all these guys wearing their sunglasses on the backs of their heads or necks. And I was thinking, “Don't even, dude! Kresal totally invented that!” But after I got past my initial outrage, I started to think how wonderful it must be to have that kind of positive effect on the world. It's like being whoever it is who invented the light bulb or the first guy to say “Whatever,” or Linus Pauling. Yes, Kresal is like Linus Pauling—the Linus Pauling of unusual personal-eyewear placement. The feeling Kresal had that moment he first put his glasses on the back of his neck must have been like the feeling Linus Pauling got when he first drew Charlie Brown.
I called Kresal to ask him what it felt like to have this kind of effect. He said he got the idea watching Val Kilmer in the movie Real Genius.
“Yeah, that was it,” he revealed. “Are you really going to write about this?”
Now, you see there? I saw that movie with Kresal in 1985. We both saw that same movie, and yet, while I was distracted by the film's story and dialogue as well as by the work of supporting actor Gabe Jarrett, Kresal's keen eye homed in on the fact that Kilmer was wearing his sunglasses on the back of his neck. Fifteen years later, Kresal is father to a sweeping fashion and cultural movement, and where's Gabe Jarrett? Where? No, seriously—where?
That's how the creative mind works—not only able to see through the inessential but also to the core of the heart of the truth that lies within. It's like that mural Picasso did, Guernica. Because of its nonsensical title, no one knows what it's about, but they do know there is something going on there. Mostly cows.
It's like that with Kresal. Maybe. And like any true innovator, he remains modest. Content to have made a gift to mankind even if it means that, like the light-bulb guy, no one will recognize his accomplishment.
“Yeah, I don't think I'm the one who invented that. I don't think you invent that,” he said. “Yeah, I still do it. Except now they're eyeglasses. I have to because my son grabs them off my head. Seriously, are you writing about this?”