Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weather Gods and Blue Jeans

Happy Saturday to one and all. It's been a couple or three days since last I was here. It seems that the end of the school year caught up with me and real life got in the way of the blogosphere for a short while. This morning weather in the low 50's and pouring rain got in the way of a good start to the summer. Well it's afternoon and the sun has magically returned. Perhaps it was the goat I sacrificed to the god of the sun. The sun god has many names in many cultures. Around here we just call him Bob, and we call him on his cell phone, which I have been sworn to secrecy not to divulge. Anyway, Bob the Sun God told me that he was having a few of his god buddies and buddettes over and a select few demi-gods, and he could sure use a goat to roast. Lucky for me sides of goat were readily available at Costco. I obliged. Bob the Sun God was pleased. The Biblical proportion rains ceased. Now if we can only negotiate some normal mid-June temperatures. Maybe Bob would like some excellent t-bones. Costco had a pretty good deal going on them. Hmmm. Anyway, when I went to the grocery store earlier this afternoon it was 56 degrees at the Mini.

You know, when you think about it, over the millennia we've all become accustomed to pleasing the gods with a little bribe here and there. A goat sacrificed here, a vestal virgin there. Is it any wonder then that politicians are always getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar? Hey, in order to go into politics in the first place you have to possess and ego the size of a god. I suppose most believe they are just this side of godhood. I suspect that's the in joke amongst Washington insiders. "Where you live man?" "Oh you know, in the God 'Hood." But to make a short story long, the point is that with egos the size of Montana, and a belief that they are very near godhood, it's only a small step to thinking that mankind should give them little gifts, a.k.a. making sacrifices to the gods, so that they should be appeased. Then they might just find it in their hearts to do you a little favor. Then those damned judges and prosecutors, a.k.a. persecutors, get all bent out of shape and next thing you know they're building a whole new wing on the federal penitentiary just to house the politicians from Illinois.

Anyway, that's not what I intended to talk about today. What I intended to talk about was blue jeans and America's love affair with denim. Babs and I went out for a little while this afternoon, after the rains had ceased. We stopped off at 900 North for a fro-yo. I don't care if it is 56 degrees out, it's mid-June and it's time for frozen desserts dammit. Didn't go outside with it, too damned cold. Sat in the 1st floor lobby of 900 North and watched the crowds flowing in and out and seeing to it that the economy doesn't collapse. Then we headed off through Bloomingdale's, by way of the shoes. Babs had to look at shoes. Just a reflex I suppose. Anyway we eventually made it out the side door and off down the street to Einstein's to pick up some bagels for Sunday breakfast.

On the way it was decided that my current jeans were getting a little frayed and worn-looking. It might be time for a new pair of jeans and as luck would have it, just two doors up from the bagel shop, what should we espy but a store that was entirely devoted to, you guessed it, blue jeans. Now mind you this was no little shop that caters to teenagers and sells jeans to fit all at a relatively low cost. This was "Gold Coast Shopping." This was a shop where they try to elevate blue jeans to the status of "haute couture." Snooty pretentious sales staff and snooty pretentious blue jeans, all for a snooty pretentious cost. But it is the "Gold Coast" and everyone in the neighborhood has a gold card at minimum, or they're not allowed in. I didn't end up buying any jeans, though the sales girl assured me I looked great in them.

But I digress. The point is that America has a love affair with denim. Walk down any street, even in the most upscale neighborhoods and you see people in jeans of all sorts, as well as jeans on people of all sorts. Boys, girls, men, women, young, old, middle-aged, they all wear jeans. Many sport shirts and jackets of denim as well. Where did this come from?

Back in the 1800's Levi Strauss invented blue jeans as a heavy duty work material. It was for working men because it wore well and endured much. By the 1950's Mr. Strauss's blue jeans had become a favorite of teenaged boys all across this great land of ours. Wearing working men's clothes was a sort of protest and a way of making a statement. Then by the 1970's all the girls had begun wearing them as well. It was the "Baby Boom Generation" and denim became the uniform of the people. "Stickin' it to the man in my denim jeans."

Then the "Baby Boomers" grew up and found that they still liked those damned jeans. Beat the hell out of those stodgy old khakis and dress pants, or in the case of the women, the dresses and slacks that were available. People might dress differently when they went to work, but when they went home out came the jeans.

Then some bright marketing sort decided that the jeans that had come in a direct descendancy from Levi Strauss's work pants were, in some cases, a bit declasse. How about we create "designer jeans," something that is made of denim but that can be worn in places that are traditionally kind of "dress up places." Then people began to market boot cut, straight leg, easy fit, stone-washed, distressed, and all kinds of variations on the basic jean until people couldn't even go into a store and just buy a pair of jeans anymore without making some major fashion statement. And the streets are filled with blue jeans, of all these shapes, sizes, colors, styles, and on people of all shapes, sizes, and styles. In the end, though, they're all just people wearing blue jeans. Levi Strauss would have been proud.

There is something in the American mindset that tells us that we're all being egalitarian, we're all just "Working Joes" under the skin, and the blue jean seems to fit our national character. Well it does, sort of. Rest assured, however, not all blue jeans are created equal and not all Americans are created equal. Underneath that veneer of national equality, lies a divide as wide as the Milky Way. I recognize that I and my jeans are not in the same monetary and power structure with G.W. Bush and his posse, nor am I in the same strata as Mr. Obama in his jeans. Still, I like my jeans, and I suspect that in my 99th year I will still be wearing jeans and tennis shoes and t-shirts. It's ingrained in my person. It's a big part of who I am, when I'm busy just being who I really am. I can dress and look and act the part of somebody else when necessary. I own a suit. I own some dress pants and starched shirts and silk ties. I even own some Italian dress shoes, but on the day I die someone will no doubt take note of the fact that a large majority of a long life was spent in jeans. I'd prefer it if you cremated my remains, but when it comes down to it I'll be dead and not in a position to bargain that issue. Don't really care if you bury me on the "Lone Prairie" or ditch my remains in the "Deep Blue Sea." Just remember this. If you bury me and you want people to honestly say "He looks so natural," you'll have to bury me in my jeans.

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