Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mark Twain GQ

So I'm looking at this picture of Mark Twain in the NYTimes. Black and white of course and Mark is dolled up in his white suit, the Tom Wolfe of his era. And I get thinking about the paradox. This shot is from 1907. He was in his later years with the big white hair. All around him are trees and grass and rural outcroppings--I wonder if this was in Elmira, NY. Anyway, people lived in the country then quite frequently. The REAL country, where it was miles from anywhere. We don't even have a concept of that any more because all we have are suburbs. The space is all taken. There is no more country.

But yet HE'S WEARING A SUIT AND TIE. They dressed up, those people. There was no one for miles, but they wore layers of linen and wool and god knows what encumbrances underneath those getups. I find it remarkable. If you look at most any snapshots from a hundred years ago and more, the men wore collars and ties, even just to sit around and read the newspaper. Boy, no one does THAT any more. A few years ago I used to say that the men in our company looked like they were going to a barbecue. And it's gotten worse. When I look at the dresses I used to wear to the office, I know that I would be laughed at now. I suppose it's fine really--what's the point of getting dressed up, but still. I love to see a man in a tie. Almost any man looks handsome in one.

Men are lucky in that way. I'm glad I didn't live in the 1940s. The hairstyles on me would have been impossible because my hair is so curly, and I would have been miserable. When you have your high school photo taken, you truly feel you look unique and unlike anyone else. Then twenty years later, when you page through the yearbook, you notice that every girl looks exactly alike. Why can't we see it when it is happening? What are we doing now that we don't know we're doing?

Profound for a Saturday night, huh? I've got a scratchy cough and the start of some weird cold. I shopped again for book signing duds and came up empty again. I'm going to have to settle on something soon.

A bientot


At 3:11 AM , Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Hope your cold gets better - esp in time for your launch.
You're right about dressing up - or down I should say, these days.
Remember how we liked things to match? Matching is anethema to the young now - to produce a look of horror, try mentioning to a young person some positive comment about how well-matched someone's outfit looks!!! (even the word outfit would get howls of derision!)

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