I was astonished to learn recently that a new international custom shoemaking competition, and even more astonished that 30 entries placed. I hadn’t counted on 30 decent custom shoemakers existing in the world today, let alone entering an international competition.
I knew the art of travel was dead. We all know those hopelessly aspirational social media posts from clickbaiters with that tag, showing pictures of matching hardsided leather suitcases or steamer trunks, with all of the ridiculous specializations that used to be needed for the itinerant leisured class: hat trunks, crocodile-wrapped valet cases fully stocked with every unguent and ivory-handled accoutrement, shoe cases…
It wasn’t until I read The Story of Babar as an adult, to a young child who loves elephants, that I realized how jarring Jean de Brunhoff’s charming childhood story is. The Babar stories lay in my mind as a vague genial tale of a mellow, rather formal, pachyderm civilization.
The American government’s recent rush to offer billions to farmers harmed by the trade war that same government has threatened reminded me, as do all things, of #steez, of the zoning protection that London’s Savile Row tailors keep pleading for and the recklessly rising rents that are causing Savile Row prices to further skyrocket.
We thought we could transcend ugliness. An old world had exploded and from its ashes rose a new. A new ungainly cosmology of myths as flamboyant as the New Gods comics genius Jack Kirby invented in the 1970s. Cosmology is our attempt to explain – and perhaps impose artificial order on -- a chaotic world.
Long, long ago your correspondent dreamed of an ideal rootless world of a jetsetting lifestyle, ideal for the shock troops of capitalism among whom he daydreamed himself to be, without realizing that they, too, are just more cannon fodder swarming out of trenches for our overlords.