The classics endure.

Sometimes people ask, “Is Grosse Pointe really as preppy as all that? Is it really the land of Muffy and Skip, madras and seersucker, headbands and understated jewelry?”

You bet your ass it is. Not so much in my neighborhood, alas, but we have that stuff — mostly in the dug-in WASP enclaves in the City and the Farms. And every so often you’ll stand in line at the store behind a reed-slim dowager, hair in the same velvet-headband pageboy she’s worn since she was 17, in the sort of clean, classic clothes you don’t see so often anymore. From behind, you might think she still is 17, and then she turns and displays a face that is not surgically altered or maintained, and shows every line all those hours in the sun earned her, but it all works, because she is an American thoroughbred, and she’s got great bone structure. She is G.P.O.G.

Also, Grosse Pointe has a Brooks Brothers. So do a lot of places, but it’s different here. It’s, like, the uniform. People who wear Brooks Brothers wear it all their lives, and if you doubt it, you should have seen the woman who waited on me there the other day — 60 if she was a day, in an argyle sweater more suitable for a teenager, but it looked just fine on her. That’s Brooks Brothers.

Jezebel is having a little fun with the current catalog, and to be sure, it’s pretty fun-worthy. Check out George H.W. Bush’s cousin’s pants, here:


I like the cut of his jib! When I saw this feature, I thought perhaps they’d dug up an old BB catalog, but no, that’s the current one. Funniest comment to the post: Who wants to bet that in 30 yrs this is going to be going around the e-mail circles much like that now-infamous 1977 JC Penney Catalog is doing now? There’s someone who doesn’t get it. In 30 years the Brooks Brothers catalog will look pretty much the same as it does today, and that’s why people shop there. Good clothes of good quality that are neither in nor out of style. You’ll never be the sharpest dresser in the room, but you’ll be suitable, the man, or woman, in the gray flannel suit.

Or maybe the woman in the plaid shoes:

plaid shoes

You know what I like about that outfit? The red tartan. Let those rappers and Hollywood types wear Burberry. The right sort of people favor the Stewart tartan.

And who says WASPs don’t have a sense of humor? If they made an “Animal House” reunion movie, Bluto would wear these pants:

go to hell pants

He’s not sure which pattern he has an ancestral claim to, so he just wears them all. I say we call him Braveheart.

OK, then. How’s your week going? All I can think about these days is how much I have yet to do before the holiday, but not so much that I can’t enjoy its pleasures. The tree went up over the weekend, and lo, it is lovely. Where would you think a household in a state covered with piney forests and Christmas-tree farms would get their own? At a local lot, of course, but state of origin? Starts with an M?

“Where’s this tree from?” I asked as the guy wrote out a slip for our bushy Fraser fir.

“North Carolina,” he said.

“You’re kidding me.”

He wasn’t. He said the Frasers need a longer growing season to get nice and tall, and fewer deer gnawing on them to get nice and bushy. I guess Michigan deer are like Michigan squirrels — they’ll eat anything.

I feel like a fool, but thanks, Carolinas.

I suppose this is the answer to a lot of prayers: Armed good guy stops armed bad guy. It’s all a lot of people will need to settle the argument whether we should all be packin’ a piece as we go about our day. Few people ask the questions I ask, starting with the one raised by this startling passage: New Life Pastor Brady Boyd called Assam, who is normally his personal security guard… I was raised a Catholic. I don’t recall Father Gamba traveling with muscle. What a world.

Big day, too much to do. Make merry in the comments.

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events, Popculch |

27 responses to “The classics endure.”

  1. Dorothy said on December 11, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Thirty-four years ago I wore a floor-length skirt that I made myself of that same red tartan. It was two months after I met Mike. I have a picture of us sitting on my parents’ staircase, grinning from ear to ear. Translation of my grin: I’m 16 and I finally have a boyfriend!! Wish I still had it. Hell, I couldn’t fit into it anymore but it would be fun to have.

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  2. Jeff said on December 11, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I note with regret that i know of at least three Catholic parishes in central Ohio who have discreet, but paid security in the back of the church during the biggest masses; Pittsburgh has many/most with same. The number of “quietly handled” “incidents” during services are somewhat startling; very often, we’re talking 18 to 30 year old young men who are variations on schizophrenic, some are armed and most have “objects” they want to throw or use (sledgehammers, bottles of drano, wadded up balls of aluminum foil, mutilated dolls, etc.).

    Big churches, whether RC, Baptist, or whatever, end up attracting folks with disorders like schizophrenia, which hits hardest young men in a demographic where guns too often are in the picture. And yes, i blame the trend to deinstitutionalization and dispersal of mental health resources into communities where lack of health insurance is stressing out clinics that used to help manage mental illness with keeping children and families alive and healthy, so here’s some pills and off you go, young man!

    But schizophrenia is very resistant to pharmaceutical interventions, and needs good diagnosis with ongoing team-based care, even in a secure environment, let alone wandering the streets. So while you COULD NOT PAY ME to attend that church in Colorado Springs (read Harpers Magazine’s prescient profile from a year before Pastor Ted imploded), i don’t blame any big, high-profile church for having security in place. The problem is real, and will keep happening.

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  3. Danny said on December 11, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Those tartans look like several of my pairs of boxer shorts. I must be Brave Butt.

    I like the cut of his jib!

    Nancy, you crack me up, girl!

    About that southern drawl. I know a few very bright engineers who speak like that. I usually say, “They talk real slow, but don’t let it fool you. They are as awake as a mid-town-Manhattaner on the stock exchange trading floor.”

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  4. Julie Robinson said on December 11, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Dorothy, the kilt my Mom made for me in the same era was a mini-skirt, and it’s doubtful I’ll ever be that skinny again. But it’s a thing of beauty, so I saved it anyway. The wool is still soft and without the fuzz that polyester always develops. She worked on all the pleats while watching the political conventions in the summer of 1968, back when they ran about a week and most of it was shown on TV. Quaint, wasn’t it?

    We have no security guards at our Lutheran church, but we do have a few police officer members. I know they are never truly off duty. Never asked any of them if they pack heat during the services.

    GPOP? My acronym finder fails me. Grosse Pointe Old Guard?

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  5. LAMary said on December 11, 2007 at 10:24 am

    GPOG is Grosse Point Original Gangsta.

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  6. Kirk said on December 11, 2007 at 10:35 am

    I can only imagine how big an army Rod Parsley has in his church.

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  7. John C said on December 11, 2007 at 10:58 am

    There’s a store in Grosse Pointe that I may have to turn NN.c on to. It’s even preppier than Brooks Bros. – lots of Lily Pulitzer dresses on one side, and “I like the cut of his jib” slacks and sweaters on the other. There is even a special section devoted to that paragon of preppie fashion – the blue blazer! I was born and raised in Connecticut. So even though I’m Irish Catholic, I’ve pretty much got preppy blood. When I was 13 in 1975 and pining for a leisure suit like all my friends, my mother refused and shoved my arms into a blue blazer. But Nancy hits it on the head. We bland prepsters may not be in fashion. But as long as we resist the urge to try those wacky green pants – and I truly and honestly have to resist that urge – we are steady. I go over to much more hip Birmingham and I see lots of slim, hipster guys who look much cooler and better than me. But I also see lots of rather dumpy, balding fellas (my peeps) who are trying to wear the latest fashions but look ridiculous.

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  8. brian stouder said on December 11, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Regarding the woman in the plaid shoes (and pearls!) – I like the turn of her ankles!

    (edit – and another telling thing about the Brooks Brothers state of mind: did you notice that, unseen on a page opposite the well-turned-ankle woman, they evidently show a cashmere, Merino wool and silk turtle neck, priced $118 – or 2 for $189??! Anyway, struck ME as funny! Seems to encapsulate the idea of enough wealth to pop for a $118 sweater, but still be inclined to go for a blue-light special!)

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  9. Danny said on December 11, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Led Zeppelin played last night for the first time in 30 years and how did I celebrate? Well, we had my next door neighbors over (single mom with three kids) and I helped the 10 year old with her math homework (being an engineer, it’s natural to be asked).

    BUT, I was wearing my Led Zeppelin bandanna! 🙂

    Here are some videos:

    Good Times, Bad Times
    Since I’ve Been Loving You (excerpt):
    Black Dog (excerpt, in da news):

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  10. nancy said on December 11, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Thanks to Kerry for this gem:

    And thanks to Jeff for that very serious point. I’d forgotten the crazy element. As a wag of my acquaintance once said, when people go nuts, they generally go in one of three directions — religion, sex or aliens.

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  11. Jeff said on December 11, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Klaatu barada nicto!

    (trans. — “Send more Chuck Berry”)

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  12. ashley said on December 11, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    It’s posts like this that make me want to kiss Nancy all over.

    Well, that and the alcohol.

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  13. Dorothy said on December 11, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    But I wanna know – what exactly IS a jib? And why is it cut?

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  14. del said on December 11, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    GPOG? Grosse Pointe Old Girl? (Original Gangsta’s right)

    Julie’s take on Jeff’s post reminded me of my friend’s dad, a retired Detroit cop (now living in Grosse Pointe). Had his family at the Lutheran church in Detroit about 30 years ago and saw a purse-snatcher . . . chased the guy down and drew his revolver to safely retrieve the purse. His 10 year old daughter was stunned as were others. Yep, hard for cops to ever rest.

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  15. MichaelG said on December 11, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    A jib is a sail. You can google for details. The term “cut” refers to its shape which is optimized for the individual boat. So, technically, one is complementing a boat owner on his nicely done sail. It’s also an old expression used to indicate one’s approval of someone. Just as Nance used it. “I like the cut of his jib.”

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  16. Jeff said on December 11, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Don’t have one of these conversations around someone who’s reading their way through the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin series. “Avast” is the least of what you’ll hear hoisted to the mizzen, ye hearties.

    Arrrr, maybe it’s time to read ’em again.

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  17. Dorothy said on December 11, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks MichaelG. I have heard the old expression before. Mostly I was kiddin’ around! But the saying has such a great ring to it, doesn’t it?

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  18. MichaelG said on December 11, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    It has a kind of wearing a smoking jacket and ascot while holding a pipe in one hand ring to it. Gray hair, glass of single malt.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on December 11, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Hey, Del, I think we visited that church once. Is it the one where you take your coat and purse with you when you go up for communion?

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  20. brian stouder said on December 11, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Well, I’m not a gun person, let alone a gun fetishist – but the good guy shooter is flat-out sexy!

    Some big PR-type oughta snap her up

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  21. MichaelG said on December 11, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    I dunno, Brian. Somehow I’m not turned on by pistol packin mamas. They make me nervous.

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  22. brian stouder said on December 11, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    She looks like Valarie Plame

    (but don’t tell anyone)

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  23. Kim said on December 11, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    I am surrounded by people in plaid (in winter) and pink/green floral (Lilly Pulitzer) in spring/summer. I want to take them by the hand and ask when was the last time they had any fun — I mean, surely it was in the days before the kelly green grosgrain belt with the blue whales on it got cinched around the waist.

    It’s really the uniform of the wealthy, as opposed to the uniform of folks like me: Gap (outlet) T-shirt, Levi’s 505 or 550s (men’s), during winter months J Crew (outlet) shirt. Warm months=running shorts and some free T-shirt or Life is Good tee. I’m just a simple midwesterner. Thank god.

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  24. LAMary said on December 11, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve been aware of people who dressed like that since about 1960. Nothing has changed. They probably get less tan in the summer now. The ones I know say to-mah-to and have been saying it that way for generations.

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  25. nancy said on December 11, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Breaking GP prep news: I just got back from CVS, where I witnessed a woman shopping in a full-length black mink coat and, get this, ballet flats in a red tartan plaid.

    She might have had her PJs on underneath for all I know, but in case you wondered who wears plaid shoes…

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  26. Dave said on December 12, 2007 at 1:52 am

    Jeff, you read them all? I read them all, too, and have thought about doing it again.

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  27. del said on December 12, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Julie, I don’t know what church it was but it must’ve been on the East side as the family lived on . . . I think it was Collingwood . . .

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