A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Saturday, October 11, 2003 :::
Ah, Washington...An Important Survey of News in Iraq...Undoing the Influence of Calvin Klein...

A Mind That Suits ditched the old Taurus some time back, and a happy concantenation of events--a late night at the office plus an e-mail update from Travelocity--allowed him to buy four round trip tickets to Wlimington for about $500, so he has not driven down here to North Carolina in a while. But an offhand comment from a friend inspired A Mind That Suits to find out that he had car insurance on his credit card, something he had not thought to ask about because he had not needed it for the previous five years, and so he drove down this weekend.

The most convenient place to rent a car in DC is at Reagan Airport in Arlington. The Metro plops you down right fairly near the rental agency shuttle, and everything is all spiffy and modern. Unfortunately, it is where a lot of self-important people fly into DC for meetings. And so it was that, as A Mind That Suits picked up a fairly perky little Buick Century, one very self-important man with a briefcase huffed into the office to report that his car had some scratches on it and that the dashboard needed to be cleaned off.

Now, if it is important to you to have a scratchless car, you can just go back in and ask for another car. Or if you are simply worried that you will be charged for the damage, you can fill out the little diagrams that they provide you for that very purpose, or tell the attendant. And frankly, for a dusty dashboard, it's probably just as easy to ask for a rag. But this was Washington, and this man was in town for very, very important meetings, and so he had to scold and demand and try and make the counter staff submit. They were strong souls, and so, while they offered to help, they also refused to be cowed. But then they were immigrants from fairly hostile regions, and so had probably faced down angry young men with guns and machetes at some point. A Washington lawyer, or even a lawyer visiting Washington, will never really be scarier than that, no matter what they think of themselves. That the immigrants were handling this naked bit of powermongering with politeness and professionalism is a tribute to what they are made of, and what a free system will allow people to further make of themselves if they want.

One thing that is clear about Iraq: the Iraq people are happy to be rid of Saddam, and virtually none of them want him back. There are sizable groups who will benefit if the US leaves now, and they are causing trouble, but most Iraqis still have a wait-and-see attitude. For a good survey of what is actually going on there, please go to the website of the indispensible MEMRI and read its report on progress on Iraq. As links are not possible this morning, here is the address http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID+IA15003

or just go to www.memri.org and look for the report on its main page.

A Mind That Suits ran into a young gentleman of his acquaintance down here who is both bright and personable, and also a borderline smart-ass. He is also very young looking and sort of defines what used to be called a beardless, callow youth. Being a teacher by trade, A Mind That Suits happens to enjoy talking with kids, and tries to encourage them when he can. This particular young man is having trouble deciding his post-high-school path, as it turns out, but this writer was just being pleasant when he asked the young man what was new. "I don't know. I grew a new chest hair?"

What was refreshing about that little exchange is that, ever since Calvin Klein underwear ads brought actual nudity to American advertising--thus making us European, and more advanced--there has been intense pressure in favor of an ancient Greek ideal of the hairless male torso. The first famous Klein model was reportedly naturally smooth skinned, but you can rest assured that virtually none of the subsequent ones has been, because God did not make most American guys hairless. It is hard not to notice that nearly every young man proudly walking around without his shirt has apparently skipped that normal stage of biologically determined development, or spends more time shaving in the morning than most older guys.

The Weekly Standard, normally unconcerned with matters of fashion, has waged a lonely battle against this cultural phenom for years. Even longer ago, the Washington Post Style section picked up on it and got a good quote from as far over on the left as you can go, from the ambisexual, pugnacious, and endlessly perceptive Camille Paglia. She pointed out, accurately, that the trend was disturbing because it implied that women wanted malleable boys instead of men. A Mind That Suits has met a few of those women.

This young man's joke was an indication that things are turning toward the more normal. YSL has begun featuring ads with more natural looking young men, and there is a jeans ad on TV with a guy around 30 who is unashamed of how God made him.

There is a limit to this, however: YSL, in Europe, apparently has an ad in which a young man displays ALL of his hair, and runs this ad in what are supposed to be general interest magazines. In throwing out some magazines he picked up in Italy some years ago, A Mind That Suits was surprised to discover that one had a similar ad, although the young gentleman in question was painted in an imitation of the famous nude portrait of Keith Haring by Annie Liebovitz, that is, all white, with black lines, as in a Keith Haring painting. And some years ago, Rolling Stone ran an ad of a very muscular young man, nude, with his hands firmly placed around an exploding firecracker that had been painted in over his...well, you get the idea. The young man was looking down towards his own nether regions with a look that made the analogy of the exploding firecracker all too obvious. So, yes, there is most emphatically an outward limit, but our society is not really done exploring that, unfortunatley. But there are so many pressures in our society against masculinity in any form, it is all to the good that we are turning back from an excess of hairlessness...

A Mind That Suits had no intention of writing so much today, although the war against masculinity has been a concern of his for many years. Indeed, while he should have pointed it out a week ago--as it will stop being free in a week's time--he recommends Carolyn See's superb review in last week's Washington Post Book World on a new book summarizing all of the evidence from scientific studies that prove what everyone knew until about 1908, when some disatisfied European intellectual thought it would be great if we just assumed that sex did not exist as a biological reality, and we should start talking about "culturally determined gender" instead.

And remind all parents that they should skip the classic rock stations and listen to what their kids do, no matter how much they hate it. If you are over 30 and of conservative bent, you probably have no idea how low our culture has sunk.

Boy, that was a perky note to end on...

Enjoy the holiday weekend...

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:07 AM



Post a Comment


A Related Website on Christian Spirituality
The Fullness of Him
The Easiest Way to Keep Up With the News:
Best of the Web
Links to Web Friends
One Good Turn
A Dog's Life
Power Line
Rambles and By-ways

What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Powered by Blogger