Friday, February 11, 2011

The Pointless "Heritage" Discussion, and An Affordable Speakeasy

Avoiding the tedious genealogical discussions and the laurel-resting that accompanies the over-told triumphs and dignities of ancestors past, the assertions about "heritage" as concerns modern clothing is an odd one.  Thankfully, there seems to exist alert skepticism amongst the more observant, and many bloggers and shoppers have correctly resorted to eye-rolling when they see the word fraudulently/laughably printed in a tea-stained font on a beige label.

I suggest the possibility there there is no discussion.  There is only a hopeless and goal-postless pseudo-analysis of the efforts of dubiously appointed/anointed marketing teams to continue to sell clothing.  While it prickles the grounded and leans distasteful, what do we expect?  Suspiciously granted college degrees in modern marketing dogma will ensure that nonsense like this will continually re-appear (but even the most irritating product branditas and branditos are entitled to earn a living for themselves).  

For those interested in a more calming American Heritage lesson (certainly less annoying than mine, and unlike mine, contains actual authority), I suggest the works of Eric Sloane.  A dear friend and then-roommate introduced me to Sloane's work during college, and I have enjoyed it ever since.  Debating about whether or not a particular model of sweater is "authentic" seems a bit irrelevant when you read about snow rollers, apple-butter paddles, and wagon ruggles.  Vapid blogs detailing gagging recipes with preambles such as "My dinner guests were treated to my luxurious citrus and smoked-trout filled mushroom caps" are compared with Sloane's appendices listing recipes for mead, sillibub, haymaker's switchel, and several formulations for homemade paint.

The man traveled the country documenting American tools, customs, techniques, lives, and creations, drawing rich and readable diagrams supplemented with descriptions that make the back and hands ache and one's own list of preoccupations get chipped down to cushy nuisance.  Ink drawings of extinct architecture, charts of now long-rusted away iron tools, and methods for surviving that live only in the frail pages of decaying letters are all captured and preserved in his work.

I grew up laying claim to my beloved New England as the home of the covered bridge.  Sloane's gorgeously self-illustrated 1954 book American Barns And Covered Bridges provides a back-page census of covered bridges from that year's summer.  Fulfilling our assumptions, Vermont had 121 covered bridges, but surprisingly, Indiana had 174.  Ohio... 349.  The Main Line Sportsman's predecessors enjoyed 390 covered bridges.

Because the heritage discussion is debated from every point on the compass, I am suggesting that Sloane provides the only approachable and legitimate starting calibration for such a thought exercise, should it occur at all (and it should not).  Taking a step back, though... like many terms (and popular abbreviated ones) the entire discussion exists only in the hunched and furiously key-pecked world of blogging, where people with no credentials (myself certainly included) can postulate and opine on the most granular word-play... or just as easily watch a video of some dog riding a skateboard.


As I reached the completion of writing this, none other than An Affordable Wardrobe's Giuseppe Timore appeared in the doorway to shake off the winter's chill with a glass of brandy*, and we immediately retired to Boston's hardest-to-find speakeasy.  Interestingly, we both happened to be wearing shortened club collars and striped ties.

YWP & G.T. elbow the bar.  Two additional guests (not pictured) joined, and took this photo

Heavy gray pressed flannel pants, navy blazer, highly polished brown wingtips, and his pinned collar were all wrapped in a handsome cashmere overcoat.  There are those about whom one can say "their clothes wear them", but Giuseppe not only wears his, he seems to be in absolute command of his clothing.  He is intentional and certain, fully at ease in them, and best of all, somehow without a single trace of preoccupation (which is strange given the regularity of articulation in his blog).

As usual, he was impeccably assembled, and at what was likely a sinister bargain.

*Avoid drinking brandy from a snifter.  Everyone serves it that way, but the encapsulated vapors in the fishbowl immediately anesthetize the nose, deadening one's ability to taste.  Any flush or opened-top glass works very well.

1 comment:

  1. Never read Sloane...but loved the now deceased Earl in Yankee magazine who could identify any tool or contrivance and had home remedies for anything from stained flagstone to ailing livestock ....usually involving boiled linseed oil and baking soda and the like.I trust I would enjoy the reading you reference and will seek out same.
    There are several covered bridges around SE Penna....some nicely preserved and some still in use. My "predecessors" hit Phila in late 1690's and settled around Berks County and Chester County...and the bridges came later....

    Lastly, thanks for the link.


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