Madras Jacket

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / Pre-Draft Limbo /
@ K. 2006 05 09

1956 to 1960 I attended Columbia: New York City, Manhattan, Morningside Heights: the upper west side, Broadway & 116th. 1971, I’m still there: a college widow of sorts. 1976 I’m nearby, a few blocks down Riverside Drive.
After 1960 a friend invited me to live with him back on Morningside Heights where he was trying graduate school. I had no money. He said that that was no problem, reminded me that his father was loaded. Then I camped here and there with this or that girl, sometimes was on Long Island with my mother, was always prowling Harlem, the Village, the lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, Germantown … Meeting Hilary while waiting to be drafted anchored me right back on Morningside Heights: her mother ensconced her and her teen sister on th and Riverside: where a marble would roll to if it started at the Columbia subway stop.

Then I was in the army, then I was in grad school. Always I was with Hilary: and she was on Morningside Heights.

By now we’re in the mid-1960s. I’m reading a lot of Marshall McLuhan, soon I’d be reading a lot of Alan Watts. Soon I’d see Watts’ comments on fancy clothing for men. But first I saw a Madras sports jacket in the window of a mens store on Broadway. It wasn’t just dyed lots of colors, maybe Madras isn’t the best or even the right word. The jacket’s outer surface looked like it was assembled from lots of little brightly colored squares. Less perfectly tailored it would look like rags. I’m no clothes horse. I’m normally blind to fashion. But I wanted that jacket. (Watts, by the way, I would soon learn, had argued for men lightening up and wearing some color.) As with all things I wanted I also knew that unless I joined the economy I couldn’t have them. That was OK. Even a monk can feel lust; he just doesn’t rank it as high among things he responds to as the next fellow. I could look at a luxury yacht yet have no plans ever to own one: not unless circumstances changed considerably.

By that time I was planning to teach college, and write. Sure I might make money: eventually. But for a few more years I wouldn’t even be employed. I was determined to live on air until I was satisfied with my studies.

I mentioned the jacket to Hilary. Her mother heard. I hoped they’d look at it. I wasn’t begging for a present (though I wouldn’t have refused it): I wanted Hilary to see what I saw.

Well, both Hilary and her mother went and looked at it. I think Hilary was aghast. (You must understand: she’s English, born in London: and you know the English: how daring? how unconventional?) The kicker was: Hilary’s mother defended my preference. She said, “A man needs something to go fishing in.” !!!
Fishing? That’s the jacket I wanted to receive my elevation to sainthood in! My Nobel Prize! That’s the jacket I would wear as the desperate world begged me to save it.

2016 03 24 Bud Collins recently died. All tennis players loved him, didn’t we? I loved him except for his ridiculous pants! In 1970 or 1971 I got a pair of riduculous pants, madras! Glad I finally god rid of them. Thank goodness we got rid of the 1960s almost altogether.

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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