A fellow once joined a discussion board to post about a peculiar problem: he always wore out the elbows of his shirts first. I don’t know what he was doing (perhaps his sleeves were too short and he stressed them at the elbow whenever he bent his arms?), but his odd quandary helpfully reminds us that we each have a particular wear problem. For most of us, it’s the collars and cuffs of shirts, which certain dandies relish wearing as they thin away, and the seats, cuffs and crotches of trousers.
We listened so often we memorized lyrics like the secret readers in Fahrenheit 451, at least the lyrics to the songs Stipe enunciated. Famously elusive, mumbled and indirect, many of his songs were like codes, with meanings no more than roundabout guesses. All that and more came back hearing that snatch of song, and reading Grace Elizabeth Hale’s incredible Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture. In it she not only clearly and thoroughly tells the fascinating story of the Athens scene around University of Georgia that gave rise to R.E.M. and so many other acts, she captures and conveys the liberation, joy and sweetness of youth.
One of the joys of custom clothing, they used to say, is that is supposed to last forever. Any English teacher would immediately ask, who are “they”? The reassuring voice of others that lured us down this path, the sybarite chorus of lazy fashion journalists and bored copywriters, repeating every few articles or press releases the same tropes about a kind of clothing that had become both incredibly rare and, generally, deterrently expensive a few decades ago.