Handsome, a physical specimen, educated with grace and manners but are we capable as California/artist/performer/author of being debonair? Is our style too casual, too wash and wear, with silk and linen missing from our closet?
The Bordeaux is one continent and one ocean removed. We go to the Napa Valley. It is all so downscale. Yes, we have the French Laundry but who can get a reservation on the day and time of their preference? Dining on their schedule instead of ours?
Telegraphing taste in California is done by automobile. Clark Gable had many elegant rides. His 1938 Packard eight cylinder convertible Victoria with coachwork by the polo playing Darrin of Paris, a war hero, snappy dresser often described as dapper. That is how it was done back in the day.
It goes without saying that since the last good war we’ve had only other kinds of war. Whatever is left of taste and style is piled onto the shoulders of George Clooney. Nob Hill is in decline everyone that is anyone in high tech is south of Market Street now.
A Wilkes Bashford shopping spree can save a man from himself. From there a luncheon at the St. Francis Yacht Club or a martini out at the Cliff House at sunset begins to crack styles salvation back into view.
Our politics is more crude and coarse. We now have wave upon wave of propaganda outlets posing as talk radio hosts. In what universe is global warming a hoax and birth control pill use to be discouraged?
The best educated among us leave for Wall Street. They go with an algorithmically enhanced ambition. Ethics has been drowned in a sea of free market theology. These distinctions are lost on a world that is trapped in a technologically supercharged innovation cycle.
It is where we find ourselves. Sinatra is gone. He had style. Palm Springs did back in the day. Perhaps vulgarity is a necessary part of any gilded age. Our manners, our clothes, our cars all hissing at one another, but missing the acquired pleasure that civility offers to the delicate central nervous systems of a more aspirational soul.
I by chance stumbled upon a radio interview with Norman Mailer. While our current President has raised the bar considerably in his use of the English language when compared to the previous office holder he has to speak to all of the citizens whereas Mailer simply is allowed to speak.
There is a pleasure to a person choosing the right word. We find our lives improved. What they have to say changes us. We know something when they are finished, and it isn’t poured down our throats and manipulated into us. Instead it is by the right means that we get there, persuaded by fact and perspective until the best course is obvious.
This is the hand as substance and the glove as style that I miss in discourse and why there is still much to be said about the fact that the clothes still do make the man while his speech might well undo him.
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