Saturday, March 03, 2007

Looking to the Past, Moving Forward

In the interest of full disclosure, that's me there on the right. I dress for comfort, reject name-brands, and give little thought to my appearance. Most times that's how I go out in public. I dress up a little when it's appropriate, but that's the default me. I think my wife even bought that sweatshirt at Wal-Mart and those aren't Nikes I'm wearing. They're not even Chuck Taylors. I'm about as generic as it gets. It's not the best of, but is, modern wear.

I think it's important to say all of that because, with it, what I say next may come as a surprise. I miss the old days.

There was an article in the Cincinnati Post recently, talking about Case's Men's Wear closing downtown. The clothing shop has been a fixture of downtown Maysville, Kentucky, for 39 years. The article talked about the closing in the greater context of Main Street America falling victim to the Wal-Marts of commercialization and the olden days of when men and women would dress up to just go out in public. If you were a man, you wore a suit, a woman, skirt and blouse, the article said.

It may be Wal-Mart that caused the closing of shops like Case's but it's a whole other trend that has led to people like myself dressing down. Dressing up is always the classier way to go. That hasn't changed. What chipped away at that idea was an individual's yearning to express themselves individually. Instead of the IBM gray suit and tie, we have a multitude of ways an individual can express themselves, up to and including on the extreme end, Mimi from the Drew Carey show.

What we have really lost, and the article sort of conveys this, is a sense of communal spirit and identity. In our quest to find endless individual expression, we have lost the greater context of ourselves as individuals in a community of others. That's a real loss. Shops like Case's come and go, styles of fashion change with the times, but its not our fashion sense we have lost. We've lost each other.

What we need to find is not a better suit, or a better price. We need to augment our sense of self with a communal identity. That's what makes a town a town. As we move into the future, we need take with us that pearl from the past.

Full Story

posted at 7:38 PM by Jeremy Parnell

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2:03 AM
ktkane said...

Maysville was a sweet town for tomboy bookworms and lovers of the art of doing nothing when I was young. Just sitting and watching the river flow was quite enough on many long days. Although my parents were no slouches in the goals department, it was still happily before children's lives were thought to need managing 24/7. The ability to converse at length with anyone at all about nothing in particular was considered to be a social requirement in my circle and long hours were spent in the company of strangers chatting aimlessly.

5:33 PM
Jeremy said...

Hey, even generic jeans cost around $20 these days. I'm wearing them til they disintegrate. Speaking of which, it's about time to retire those. : )

But what you're saying is exactly correct. It's not really hard to be a basic decent person, and you don't have to feel like you're losing your identity to embrace a community.

12:51 PM
Ken said...

Oh, and it look like you get your money's worth out of a pair of jeans......LOL

12:44 PM
Ken said...

" pearl of the past "
Great line, Jeremy.
I can think of quite a few.
Using " sir and mame " after yes and no. Respecting your elders,
relatives or not. Setting a good example for ones children.
I'm sure I will think of some more.

12:41 PM