Saturday, February 11, 2006


My life has been both supremely mellow and intensely hectic this semester. I'm not even talking about a bi-polar kind of oscillation either. I'm talking BOTH at the SAME TIME. Anyone familiar with the Buddhist concept of NON-DUALITY? Me neither...

Anyway, I apologize to all my friends who came to enjoy Internet Vibes. I enjoyed writing posts and corresponding with you all. Maybe just check it once a week. Who knows? You might find something!

Today I want to talk about something very personal to me: PREPPY CLOTHES.

Some time in high school I started having strong feelings about Lacoste shirts. My friends and I used to go to the rummage sale at the Congregational Church and find great old Izod/Lacoste stuff probably last worn at the Glen Ridge Country Club's '87 Fourth of July Gala.

I mostly liked Lacoste shirts because of the alligator; an image at once quirkily powerful and powerfully quirky (NON-DUALITY). I soon realized that the quirkiness was lost on most people. A substitute teacher saw me wearing a turquoise Lacoste shirt with a popped collar and said "You look like the bad guy from a John Hughes movie." He was probably right, although I'm not blonde.

The ICONICITY of the Lacoste alligator is both appealing and repelling. On one hand it is beautifully simple and weird. On the other hand, it lends itself to CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION (which is a state of mind and NOT an absolute action). In recent years, Lacoste has made sweaters and t-shirts in which the alligator is monstrously enlarged to cover one's entire chest. This amounts to a crass FETISHIZATION.

Unsurprisingly, RALPH LAUREN (ne Lipschitz) has done the same thing with his POLO LOGO. I've always been kind of out with Polo although I've recently come around to it. There is something MASTERFULLY SUBVERSIVE about a Jew from the Bronx starting THE preppy clothes company and picking a logo as over-the-top as a polo player on a horse. Ralphie must have been smiling as he designed it.

MAN, I HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO SAY! This is the problem with Internet Vibes, everything turns into a novel. Let me just wrap up with some quick bullet points:

- PREPPINESS & AUTHENTICITY - "Do not pop your collar if you don't sail."

What is authentic for a guy like me? Fourth-generation Ivy League, deracinated, American Jew born on the UWS, raised in NJ to middle-class post-hippie parents with semi-Anglophilic tendencies AND propensity to put on Eastern European accents and use obscure Yiddish phrases. The obvious answer is that I, like all of us, should be a truly post-modern consumer, taking the bits and pieces I like from various traditions and cultures, letting my aesthetic instincts be my only guide. In fact, all of my friends (even the children of immigrants) seem to be in the same boat. We are BOTH disconnected from AND connected to EVERYTHING. Now we've transcended mere clothes.

A few weeks ago, a girl at a party was giving me a hard time for wearing my very-beautiful Sean John jacket with fur collar. I could probably write a novel about that. I'll let you fill in the blanks to relate this anecdote to the rest of the post.


While walking around Shimla, a mountain town in India which was formerly the Summer Capital of the British Empire, I came to a Pringle store. Pringle is a super-nice Scottish sweater company. This was right on the main drag in Shimla; a town where the honeymoon suite at a hotel costs $10 a night. This story has no point.

MADRAS, perhaps the most conspicously preppy fabric because of its bold ugliness, is of course from INDIA. In an effort to thoroughly de-preppify the nation, the city of MADRAS is now known as CHENNAI.

Let's not forget that there are NO ALLIGATORS in FRANCE. ALLIGATORS live in the swamps of FLORIDA or CHINA. Also, don't forget their brothers, the CROCODILES, who chill out in the "HEART OF DARKNESS" itself.



Wait, take a look at these pictures. They might help you to FEEL MY VIBE.

Scottish Taliban? Best of Both Worlds? In this L'Homme Run promotional photograph, my ideal alter-ego takes form.

In this picture, I am melancholically pondering issues of identity and authenticity. Note the popped collar.


I've never felt super connected to JUDAISM, but I did go to HEBREW SCHOOL and I had a BAR MITZVAH. Growing up Jewish, you are presented with three images of your people:




Now do you see where I'm coming from? Interestingly, Christianity teaches us that THREE can be ONE. I guess you would call that a theory of NON-TRILOGICITY??!?!?


Anonymous a lake said...

i was under the impression it was a fake fur collar..
maybe tinchy stryder knows:

it's all real these days
we don't play these days

2:10 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

i think it might be real but the girl wasn't giving me a hard time about the fur anyway. she was giving me a hard time for wearing SEAN JOHN.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous a lake said...

see i knew he knew what was up

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Rostam said...

One thing I always liked about preppy clothes is that they have really saturated colors. When I think of Lacoste I think of that rich green, deep red, radiant yellow. My brother once told me people like Lacoste shirts because they give you a "retro flair." I think that retro aspect is appealing because it was big in the 80's and not in the 90s (blame grunge). When we were young kids we used to have lots of lacoste stuff. I had this one lacoste vest I used to wear all the time when I was a tyke and it would always keep me from getting sick if my mom thought I was starting to catch a cold. So I guess I wear lacoste partly out of nostalgia for my childhood (Proust style).

Ralph Lipschitz may have been masterfully subversive in founding Polo but wearing ultra-colorful clothes is a kind of a subversive act for alot of preppy kids and parents too. Perhaps it's a way of being light and even ironic so as to counteract your very serious education/occupation. Like those bright pink pants with little stiched lobsters all over. Have you ever seen those? Hugh has a pair. At first I didn't like them but they really grew on me.

5:42 PM  
Blogger jawsh said...

What worries me, though, is that we're seriously missing out on the kind of freshness that emerges from (generational) deviation. Diversification is good, in biological things.

ANECDOTE TIME: my dad talks sometimes about the distinction in the PROXIMITY OF CULTURAL tastes between my grandfather and him vs. him and me.

For instance, I will rock out with Harry to BRUCE S. or even TODD RUNDGREN in the car. Todd R. even played at BOTH Woodstocks.

And Harry, he used to be cool with listening to COLLECTIVE SOUL on the way to soccer practice—he particularly liked "December," and thought that they sounded like his ELO.

But Harry always noticed how different his budding tastes were as a child from his father FRED, who listened to (d)Orchestra stuff, the classical shi'ite.

The same, I think, applies to clothing.


Call me a Philistine, but I'M OUT.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous lil stevey c said...


6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well-played, stevey c!

11:54 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

Rostam, I remember reading someone's description of fashion as a strange mix of a desire for individualism with a desire to follow others. In the very funny 1980 semi-satire "The Preppy Handbook", those pants you speak of are referred to as "go-to-hell pants." So yes, they are subversive (and a little aggro) but still ubiquitous enough to merit inclusion in a catalog of generalizations like the Handbook. Sidenote: The Preppy Handbook lists Columbia as the #1 LEAST preppy school in America. Of course, Columbia's status as an Ivy League school (with royal British charter no less) makes it a part of the book's universe and thus more suitable for mockery (double-mockery??) than say the University of Wyoming or Gnarsville Community College. Columbia might actually be the #1 MOST preppy-ethnic school though.

Josh, I have the exact same relationship with my parents. Not only do we listen to most of the same music, they are culturally prepared to accept new things like reggaeton and the Internet. The NY Times Magazine will run a huge article about Daddy Yankee and people like our parents will find it fascinating. I would go with your assessment of the current situation as a normatively better place of hegemonic inter-generationalism. Who's aesthetic has changed? I think that the idea of the malleable aesthetic is now the ideal and both we and our parents are expected to change and accept. Does that make sense?

Stevey C, 1st World Problems are still problems, right? If I thought that talking about them came at the expense of dealing with Third World Problems, I would turn Internet Vibes into a fotoblog of harsh pictures of starvation and illness. The sorority girl's question of "what to wear to the dance?" is certainly a first-world problem. I hope this post didn't come across that way...

9:26 PM  
Blogger eremi said...

I think one could argue (and I'm not necessarily saying I would) that the inter-generational hegemony Josh mentioned is still eluding us. After all, aren't our parents part of the boomer generation famous for breaking norms and revolting against authority? And what could be more revolting to such a generation than children who love what their parents love, and share the same goals and cultural tastes? True, the "proximity" of these tastes may be more significant than in previous generations, but isn't this proximity simultaneously a direct assault the values of the previous generation? Is it possible that we are rebelling by not rebelling? If the "malleable aesthetic" was created by the previous generation's deconstruction of traditional aesthetic norms, then isn't our unquestioning acceptance of this new aesthetic similtaneously an affirmation and a rejection?

Also, what is this "first world problems" supposed to mean? I agree with Ezra that problems are problems whether first or third world. Or is there a hierarchy for problems as well?

11:31 AM  
Blogger Ezra said...

hmm, that's the weird thing about the "malleable aesthetic." it's impossible to rebel against. you raise some interesting questions by pointing this out.

do you really think our parents would be revolted by the fact that we love the same things as them? maybe we should try linking josh's concept of inter-generational hegemony to the ideal of post-hippie domesticity.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous lil stevey c said...

Oh yeah, sorry...I just heard that phrase on this awesome emo board I'm getting into. I just wanted to try it out, and I couldn't sit around and wait 'til you were actually whining about something. I blew my load, I guess.
I liked the post. I've always been curious about the ezra:preppy relationship. The "Fourth-generation Ivy League" remark, though relevant and probably true, might rub some people the wrong way. Maybe not, though.

Ezra, I am NOT HATIN'!
Remember that tone is very difficult to read over the i-net.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous lil stevey c said...

By the way, there is ABSOLUTELY a hierarchy of problems. I don't think Ezra would claim that his probs are as urgent and dire as those of the third world! You'd have to be incredibly selfish to do that.
Of course we can't constantly put those big-ticket problems ahead of our day-to-day concerns. You would sacrifice a lot of valuable discourse/ideas and probably go crazy as well. I think that's what Ezra was getting at, and I agree completely.
On a smaller scale, I certainly hope that the next hospital I'm in has some sort of triage system worked out. I don't want someone to hemorrhage to death while I'm getting a band-aid put on.

Again, sorry for derailing and for misusing "F.W. Problems." I'm just shakin shit up a little, right?!?!

6:08 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

Steve, thanks for the follow-up. Tone IS difficult to read over the internet and given the seriousness of the picture you posted there only seemed like one way to interpret it. The internet is a great forum for talking about shit and I definitely don't feel like anything was derailed. I'm always prepared to defend (or re-analyze) what I've written and no one should be afraid to call me out if they think I'm being retarded.

As for the "Fourth-Generation Ivy League thing", I think it's completely relevant to the discussion. What I was wondering about in that part of the post was how the fact that the past three generations of dudes in my family received classical educations at bastions of WASP-y elitism (which they certainly were back in the day) while still maintaining a clear "outsider" identity
might subtly (or not so subtly) affect the micro-culture I grew up in and my world view. It's a fairly unique history for a Jewish family and to me, raises some questions about assimilation and, my favorite word, authenticity especially in the context of preppiness (which intersects with "collegiate"-style in a big way).

Why should I be self-conscious about saying that? Is not talking about your family's educational history a corollary to the repressed Puritan "never talk about money" thing? I'm not trying to be sassy either. The truth is I wondered myself if that would rub people the wrong way. Ultimately, I concluded that it shouldn't.

8:08 AM  
Blogger eremi said...

Stevie c, I completely agree with you... of course some problems are more serious than others. I just meant (maybe this didn't come through clearly) that constructing a hierarchy with "third world problems" at the top and "first world problems" at the bottom is problematic for a whole host of reasons.

10:38 AM  
Blogger jawsh said...

Dude, who goes to the HOSPITAL to get a BANDAID put on?

4:25 PM  
Blogger jawsh said...


I agree with you that it shouldn't rub people the wrong way. BUT, I did want to make a factual correction. I've been at work with a genealogist ( from Ozone Park, NY, for the better part of the weekend, and SHE seems to think that you're forgetting about your great-great-great UNCLE Yitzhak --- an Irish Cantor-turned-theology-professor who started his career at Bard. (no pun intended between CANTOR and BARD). Anyway, he wrote a text about new ways to wear talis and yarmulkles in synagogue-- a kind of social interpretation of his contemporary dress--and ended up spending a few months at as a guest lecturer at HAVERFORD, which was then a part of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSLYVANIA. The most interesting part of the meeting I had with Dr. Dobalina was that she made the connection between YOUR PRESENT INQUIRY (regarding preppiness, etc.) and HIS INQUIRY.

NOW THAT IS SOME MATRIX SHIT. But I just wanted to clear that up.


4:38 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

did you know that Bard used to be a part of our university?
thanks for the research and thanks for the memories. this has been the longest comment thread in Internet Vibes history.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous alec said...

OK, I want to address one thing head on, which is you love to insert the word Jewish to prequalify some differention from the rest of society.

OK, you are a 4th generation Ivy League graduate. Yes, a lot of these schools were traditional bastions of 'WASPyness'. But WASP in the previous generations was a context of economic success which has morphed from a racial/cultural context of being a WASP) into a strict economic distinction. How many people do you know that attended a tier one school from a lower class background compared to middle or upper class background? I went to a near Ivy League school (I know UVa doesnt count) and have visited plenty (and actually currently date a Columbia grad Jew) of Ivy League institutions. The prime distinction now is rich private school background, regardless of race, gender, or creed. The kind of people that have their counselors call up daddys friends at Ivy League U and bitch until they get in. Catch my drift?

I think a lot of Jewish people get their desire for self-segregation from their parents who may have been the victims of worse times. But a lot of that fear is perceived rather than conceived, so you end up with a bunch of big noses scared to leave their Bagel Habitat in the Upper West Side.

Anyway, apart from this rant, I want to commend you on amazing post (and I actually made you my first link of the day) with a sizeable review on my page. I hope you check it out.


ps. is it 'kosher' (pardon the unpardonnable pun) to make anti-semitic jokes/remarks if one has a jewish significant other? Because I really want to let loose sometime, and if anyone calls me anti-semitic, i want to have the trump card.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Ezra said...

hey alec,
i checked with the council of twelve rabbis who control the world economy and they said you can only make anti-semitic jokes if your past THREE girlfriends were jewish. nevertheless, internet vibes supports free speech.
you make a valid point that there is no ethnic barrier preventing jews from entering the ivy league these days. i was not trying to imply that at all. my point is that being jewish DOES imply some differentiation from the rest of society if only for minor cultural reasons. i have no desire for self-segregation but i still believe that the culture (especially the immediate culture of your nuclear family)affects you. how? i'm not sure exactly. do my ancestor's struggles with assimilation and anti-semitism give me a persecution complex? not at all. i can wholeheartedly say i've experienced very little anti-semitism in my life even having grown up as one of the few jews in my NJ hamlet. i think the effects are much subtler.
just like you say ivy league schools are just about class distinction these days, i could say that preppy clothes are just about class distinction. still, these clothes are rooted in a very specific tradition. IDEK! it's all so complicated. i will keep posting on this topic in the future.
also, believe it or not but there are still country clubs in the USA that keep out da jews and blacks and catholics. also, there are people who will call a preppy jew a JAP because on some historic level there is an ethnicity/style disconnect that rubs people the wrong way. this all comes back to those melancholy issues of authenticity.
anyway, thanks for the positivity on prosebeforehos. i'm feelin' it!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous alec said...

agreed, i think the barrier has been morphed from racial/religious (and depending on your Marxism, were just cloaks for economic differentation) into access based on ecomonics (the education a rich child vs a poor child receives). anyway, my slight wasn't directed at you in terms of self-segregation, but i believe that that vibe exists until the cultural group is completely assimilated. then it becomes necessary (see the current movement in traditional black colleges -- is Emory next?)

also, i thought JAP meant jewish american princess, which was a slight at the idea that rich jewish girls were more snobby/ridiculous then normal rich girls, which is pretty much untrue (if you want to see diversity in action, come down to DC where girls of all strips drop pants for coke & prada bags). and i think the point with clothes is it provides an outlet for grandiose without actually being wealthy (bling vibe example number one). anyway, i live in dc and my country club is primarily jewish, so you lost me on that point. but im sure some backwards traditions still thrive in some elements of our society.

hamster vibes?


1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just had to say that the scottish taliban cracked me up! thanks for posting that!

7:28 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Ezra- You're a lot smarter than most musicians... I saw in you in MPLS on 4/3; the guy jumping up and down and filming you in front of the bassist... check out the vid.

4:37 PM  
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Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
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11:35 AM  
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Ezra, I feel you. I've run into the same problem.

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