Saturday, May 3, 2008

Do we read what we wear?

“this war of ideas is no less bloody than the one being fought by our troops in the Middle East.” Norman Podhoretz

In our local 7-11 (chain convenience store) on Lung Island where sometimes I stop on a morning to buy coffee & buttered roll, there is a young woman clerk that made a disconcerting comment on my purchase of a NY Times some months ago. I immediately felt defensive and assumed she was being a bit snide about my reading habits. In some places in the US the thinking is that the NY Times is a liberal commie newspaper. I am always wary that I don't want to look more intelligent than a carpenter or plumber when I am out and about. I dress for the most part in an appropriate manner with a philosophical grounding in Thoreau -- that at least is why I continue to enjoy wearing work pants with paint on them and holes in inconvenient places. Carpenters and plumbers are not known to read the NY Times. In the exchange our skeptical clerk told me her boyfriend was rooting for Giuliani -- I said that I was waiting to see if he flunked out. I made some quip about a preference for McClain if it had to be. That was the day Giuliani did drop out. I find it difficult not to express on my face whenever his name is brought up that I believe Giuliani is a pompous ass.

Giuliani said in a New Yorker interview that he was reading Norman Podhoretz’s World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. Well, wanting to better understand the phenomena known as Rudy Giuliani, and actually being fairly open to whatever arguments the ‘conservatives’ have to put out, I read the book. Best I can say for the book is that it is not very long and thus fairly easy to carry around. Despite that Podhoretz advocates that we ream Iran a new butthole before the end of the current administration, which was dangerous enough to think that this is the intellectual influence that Giuliani cites… the book is not even good beach reading. Podhoretz does not much more for me than illustrate that at this point in his career that he is a muddle-brained intellectual imbecile. He may have been before this just that I never bothered to check. If this is an example of the brain not on drugs he should go back a few decades and start over?

Beware what you read into this sentence?

His arguments did convince me, though, that we are still playing in World War II and that to say otherwise is something of a political fallacy… kind of like when the president proclaims Mission Accomplished. Or when a former president claimed that the Cold War was over. It is convenient for the expediency to have these markers and milestones, like the War on Drugs, or the War on Terror…. I mean, does this crap ever stop?

Regardless, when I stopped in recently at the 7-11 I had forgot that I was wearing a sweat that said something to the effect, "Too many books, not enough time." It was under my coat that was unzipped open, so one had to actually try to read it. She liked what it said, and expressed to me that she likes to read what people wear. In the mornings she is faced with a constant flow of men and women making a stop on their rush to work, "Next!" It is not a particularly opportune time to strike up a conversation. Here up to this point I was worried she might take offense at my libertarian attitudes and spike my coffee with strychnine -- lightly brushed off her fingernails, of course. So the last visit, and with my coffee buttered roll and NY Times, I apologized to her that I had not thought to wear anything to read.

The place where I live, and enjoy for the very fact of it, is one where if a person is seen in public with a book it is comparable in social effect to a vampire killer walking around with a bible, a cross and gun with silver bullet. For me I feel it is a perfect place for a writer to hide.

But I like the idea that a person with a minimum wage job would be so turned on to reading that they would be conscious to read what is on the front of my chest. For that alone I want to go out and find something kool to read.

In consideration of how bloody the war of ideas is how about, “WWV Veteran, Read My Blog”


  1. I was asked once, by a university lecturer involved in the training of teachers, "If people read the corn flake packet at breakfast, other people's t-shirts and the adverts on the subway, what more do want? That's reading, isn't it?"

  2. dave, I agree with the lecturer's comment as to the penchant to read all sorts of ephemeral material that floats around in our environments. I also have a very positive feeling toward my 7-11 friend that she enjoys to read and that she has the imagination to know people through reading what they wear. As to corn flakes, I suppose we could ask, "Do we read what we eat?" That could lead into a post on cake decoration I suppose.

  3. I had a friend who bristled at wearing the collar and tie required for his management job, so he always wore underneath the loudest and most graphic slogan teeshirts. Trying to read his underwear was one of the joys of the job. :)