Keep the Clothes, Lose the Attitude
I am all for personal style and expression ("The Vintage People"), but I cannot stomach the arrogance and pretentiousness that sometimes come along with it.
New Yorkers Can Be So Quaint
Loved the article ("The Vintage People"). I would have enjoyed a few more photos to show off the great clothing that these folks wear. I myself have been wearing vintage for over 10 years and have a huge collection in my apartment in New York City.
Peggy Lee Cone
New York, N.Y.
Full of Prunes
I've just finished reading about the young 1940s-philes ("The Vintage People"). Why do I feel so uncomfortable?
As far as clothes go, it's their lives. I'm even willing to agree that the 1990s have been highly questionable in both serious and un-serious matters. And, on the level of growing up feeling and being "out-of-step" with one's ostensible peers, I can empathize.
But I have other angles to address: my strong impression that the women approach their '40s-philia with a sense of free choice and lighthearted spirit, while the men sound bitter and finger-wagging -- the women are happy to acknowledge areas of genuine progress such as penicillin, freedom of choices in style for oneself, civil rights, etc; but the men, aside from a couple of concessions, come across (at least to me) like grumpy old men full of prunes -- condemning everyone else for not having their sensibilities, for not living the ways of "the good old days."
Which leads me to Johnny Stokes, described as "resent[ing] the progressive politics and social mores of today." Love 'em or hate 'em, progressive politics and datable mores are far, far older than the '90s, the '40s, or millennia ago. Stokes is free to have his views, but as I read that paragraph, I could not help but think of the bitter ironies -- how many lives were ruined or snuffed out in that decade, during the war and after, over contradictory notions of "freedom," "conservatism," "modernity" -- and how the supposedly "free" American culture became overly rigid, requiring a taste for the very conformist mass-style it had supposedly fought against in Fascism and Marxism. I think Stokes was "born in the wrong era," as he sounds like any number of curmudgeons.
I may enjoy a Mack Gordon/Harry Warren tune, but I tend to acknowledge sides of the 1940s (and other periods) swept under the rug, things not so "stylish" -- like the angry, controversial poetry of Robinson Jeffers also from that era, or the hushed-up stifling, and sometimes downright evil cruelties done to various defenseless peoples. For that matter, these young '40s-philes ain't all that different from their chronological peers in wallowing in the trippings and surface appearances of, say, the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, with skewed definitions of "roots" and "history," i.e., the grass is always greener with envy's projections. I'm sure that back in the 1940s there were a few who clung to the 1890s or earlier, bad-mouthing their present.
Kenneth R. James
Fruit of the Boom
It appeared to me that Jack Boulware missed the mark ("Revenge of the Leisure Class," July 28). The people he describes as being part of the leisure class are more like the new working class. After all, the people he describes work ALL THE TIME. They work 14-hour days, and are allowed out once a week (on Saturday). They are ill-educated, but that is condoned by society because they make so much money; money they deserve because they have no life. They are absolutely choiceless in that they really do not have a choice in the neighborhoods they reside, the cars they drive, or the clothes they wear, including those on "Leisure Fridays." Even the underwear they wear is a given.
The reasons why they walk around with cell phones and beepers is that they must be on call and must respond to trot back to work at the boss' whim. Hey Jack, if you want to meet members of the leisure class come out to the park. Here, you will find people reading books they choose to read, living where they want to live, dressing the way they want to dress, planning travel destinations to where they want to go (not paid for with bonus miles), and thinking their own thoughts.
Of course, though, looking at me or my acquaintances one would never guess we were wealthy. The better part of society would kill for our leisure time and freedom, but the price would be too expensive for them -- lack of status. I think the middle class and the new rich (those desperate characters described in the Boulware article) would be really surprised to ascertain how some of the offspring of the wealthy in this country and perhaps other countries choose to live.
Personal Knowledge Is Theft
Your article on the work of Veblen is timely and informative ("Revenge of the Leisure Class"). However, it misses some glaring examples of conspicuous consumption, while casting too wide a net in other areas. The use of high-tech gadgets is often for practical purposes, people throw crazy parties just for the fun of it, and churches receive stock instead of cash due to tax incentives.
On the other hand, it's not just the yuppies -- go to the clubs and watch the parade of hipness draped in the latest fashions, to the hills and see rednecks with their biggest red pickups, or in the burbs for the lawn-and-garden showmanship of working-class folk. And of course, my favorite: the accumulation of knowledge only for the sake of one's vanity, self-importance, and standing, rather than for any action for the good of others.
Thomas E. Ward
Regarding Greg Hugunin's gastronomic experience with his friend Leah in the Fairmont Hotel's Crown Room ("Full Meal Deal," Eat, July 28) , I enjoyed reading the article and it made me laugh! It was well written and the style reminded me a lot of the devil Henry Miller, which made me laugh even more! I enjoy laughing so please keep writing!
Run Away, Run Away!
I think that in today's age of violence, divorce, and the overwhelming consumption with careers, we should embellish a movie like Runaway Bride ("There Goes the Bride," Film, July 28). Who cares if it's a little corny and predictable! Can't we just sit back and enjoy a two-hour movie that can help us forget what is happening when we actually walk out of the movie theater? Perhaps you just need to lighten up. It's a movie, learn to enjoy it! A little.