Sunday, September 19, 2010

True Prep...and Brick Throwing

I’ll not offer a review of True Prep. There are other blogs that will surely  take up the subject with enough alacrity and precision for us all. The only thing I’ll say is that I like it, I’m glad I ordered it and I’ll get through it like I did The Preppy Handbook. Cover to cover but in bits here and there…when I want to and certainly, with an expectation of whimsy. Folks, this ain’t Tolstoy.

But over at The Daily Prep, the tribe seems to have a few problems with this thirty years in the waiting, sequel. Here’s what I offered in comment after reading the various well founded and legitimate concerns that people expressed about the book... “I still have my copy of The Preppy Handbook that I bought in 1980. I’ve read it cover to cover so many times by now that I couldn’t begin to guess the number. But I always read it in fits and starts, but cumulatively, ultimately, in its entirety but never straight-thru.
Slightly sardonic—nuanced satire…that’s what the first book was and if I view this one through the same lens, I can’t possibly find this much fault with it. Come on…it’s been thirty years since the first tongue-in-cheek self caricature hit the bookstores.
If you ever viewed The Preppy Handbook as an unimpeachable go-to playbook for how to “be”, then that was your first mistake. It was and is a fun book…nothing more-nothing less. It seems to me that the manifestation of your disappointment in True Prep is really a reflection of taking satire and wit waaaaay too seriously.
Layout and graphics, product pimping, people and places you don’t like…it’s all good. And if the attenuated tribe of genuine Preps are really this rattled, they wouldn't let the world know that they give a damn about this book, much less the first one.”
If I had to select one symbol, a singular bit of iconography to articulate all that’s wrapped up in both The Preppy Handbook and True Prep, it would be Weejuns. An old pair of Weejuns communicates as much about the wearer as a dozen other cues. But I never needed a book to tell me how and when to wear them. And when a book came along that weighed in on such tribal nuances as a pair of loafers, I read it and enjoyed it for what it was…satire.
And so I'll go to Richard Merkin as I close out my True Prep drivel. The whole Prep-Trad-WASP thing, to me, needs to be treated the same way Merkin suggests dressing and painting should be handled
"Dressing, like painting, should have a residual stability, plus punctuation and surprise. Somewhere, like in Krazy Kat, you’ve got to throw the brick.”
 Here’s to brick throwing.

Onward. A.D.C.(rocs)


Ami said...

yeah...what you said.

I haven't bothered to comment or blog about it, so, Yeah. What you said.


Barima said...

It's time I exited from the closet:

I was a Weejuns Kid

Very good coverage, and I like that you were able to rely on Mr. Merkin, as always

Best wishes, friend,


Suburban Princess said...

I had no idea there was so much discussion on the topic. It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood what TOPH was trying to say, as a Canadian teen I thought it was very serious! Imagine my shock when I discovered not all Americans wear needlepoint belts! Or know what Weejuns are! Fortunately I can see TP for what it is in the first reading :O)

Belle de Ville said...

Oh please, did you have to model the crocs?

Laguna Beach Trad said...

ADG, I'm with you brother.

The Lost One. said...

Those Crocs are like a brick thrown at the collective head of Trad-World. I like that they're in GTH/Protestant Orange, but good lord, man:

Socks with crocs?

Agitator! Instigator! Deviant!

Now you've done it. In about two weeks, there'll be dozens of trad sites with pictures of fellows in undarted blazers lounging about in crocs and socks, talking about how it's the natural progression of the Weejun.

I'll wait until the dust settles from this Preppygate scandal before I pick up True Prep. I think some of the trad lads are taking this all a bit too seriously.

Death Bredon said...

Just got my copies of True Prep and Take Ivy, and heartily recommend both with the caveat that, as ADG has correctly adduced, the former is meant to be humorous; the later, not.

BTW, that was not a brick--it was a boulder!

Laguna Beach Trad said...

I would be surprised if any member of the attenuated tribe of genuine Preps actually owns this book or the first one.

Anonymous said...

you need to vacuum the rug.

ilovelimegreen said...

Please burn those Crocs- and remove the image, s'il vous plait. Talk about a contradiction in terms...

Nelle Somerville said...

Phew, I was feeling out of the tribe for NOT owning the origina LBTradl. I do not need a book to tell me I'm a true classic dressing woman. If that is prep, as people tell me, then so be it. I think I'm really just a Prippy. Preppy Hippy.

LPC said...

I haven't bought the book, not as a statement, just haven't gotten around to it and haven't managed to win a copy in the giveaways. I didn't really understand the first one when it came out, since High WASPs who move to California go deep undercover. But I think I can add some insight. Those of us who grew up High WASPs get tired of our culture being caricatured, incorrectly. Sort of like Italian-Americans feel when they see yet ANOTHER mobster movie coming out, I imagine. Or when Asian Americans see yet again the nerdy kid cast as an Asian. I won't even speak to what African Americans go through, since that's far more pernicious.

There just comes a point, even for those taught to behave "appropriately" (now there's a code word if ever there was one), to say,"Uh, guys, that's all very well and good, but just for the record, here's the real story."

And then the only appropriate thing to say is, "Right, then."

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - I'm with you on the Prep overanalytical - introspective - taking it all too seriously stuff - but PLEASE GOD tell me those are not your feet in the crocs!

The Lost One. said...

You see, ADG? Already the Croc backlash has started. Brace yourself for the tears of trad-gedy.

I'll wait for the report of O'Connell's offering trad crocs in shrinking, bleeding madras and the ensuing rush to get them.

ackred said...

I agree with you ADG, take the book for what it is. Keep up the great work on your blog. Love the crocks, I love mine.

Preppy 101 said...

Talk about a juxtaposition - those Crocs resting on that rug, which I love and want.
Regarding your post today: Exactly! xoxo

ADG said...

Preppy101...I'll send you the Crocs.

ackred...thanks. The Crocs were just a prop.

LostOne...Amazing how quickly people follow. tempting as it is...please don't ever call me God again. Yes, those are my feet.

LPC...thanks as always for bringing your voice of reason. Well stated. But my observation also included the fact that some seem to think that this sequel is a letdown compared to the first one and to me, that's just silly.

Nelle. Yes-yes-yes you are!

LimeGreenGal...I AM a contradamndiction in terms.

AnonRug...I don't vacuum things that live outside. I shake those rugs every now and then but please, I don't even vacuum inside.

Tradmon...and if they did they wouldn't admit it.

BredonO'Death...but an orange rubber brick.

LostOneagain...I can't help it man. Every now and then I just have wreck everything...when things start getting to comfortable and quiet.

Belledeville...yes, yes I did.

SuburbanPrincess...oh come on. Montreal was rockin' weejuns fifty years ago. No?

Barima...I figured as much.

Ami...what you said.

Reggie Darling said...

Well done, ADG. I remember reading the Preppy Handbook when it came out, thinking, wait a minute how'd they get all this? At first I felt dismayed that someone squealed and my life and the world I grew up in was bulls-eyed in that book. And then I got it, the joke that is, and roared with laughter at it all. I recently leafed thru True Prep while killing time at Brooks (waiting for my salesman to finish calling in an order) and thought it looked like fun, and worth a read. But not at full price so I'll wait to get it when it goes remainder or on Amazon. Light, bright, clever, meant to amuse, nothing more and nothing less.

garden and gun said...

Belgian wouldn't have to add rubbers......still waiting on that post!!

oldominion said...

As mentioned, grew up in Richmond, the orig PH was indeed a guide to my people (even, surprisingly, though RIchmond is not mentioned once; plenty of refs however to Woodberry, UVA, Hampden's Kidney, etc).

THe new one is way off, imo, just not as subtly smart or pointed as the orig. The photos? Please. Horrendipus. Check 'em out, ADG, esp the photos of the supposed preps. Sartorially, the new book is just not nearly as intelligent a satire as the first. Too many mentions of JCrew and (huh?) Tommy Hilfiger, and a large sidebar on Vineyard VInes, fake prep if there ever was, might as well be prep for WalMart, imo. Check out the 'loafer' section. Wha? No shell cordovan? No Alden for BB unlined? No Belgians? One suspects a bunch of product placement contracts...

Yeah. yeah, yeah, it's all in fun, I get it, it aint Dickens. Still, I'd place the first PH on my short list of desert island books (what does that say about me? THere'd also be my man GMFrasier and Flashman, some Dickens of course, a touch of Cormac) and this latest is nothing but a disappointment. Flew through it once, sat down and read it through again, not a chuckle, alas...and I submit that it does not take a lot to make me chuckle.

Lisa said...

In those crocs are you doing your Mario Batali imitation? If you're going to wear them, can you at least cook?

Kathie Truitt said...

Gee, I thought you were the best looking in Old Town (next to Mr. T) til I saw those ugly orange crocs. If I ever see you in those in public I will run you over. Don't try me.

Anonymous said...

Haha! I love the crocs. I have to admit, I have a pair of hot pink crocs I wear aroung the house. They are exceedingly comfortable, espcially for someone with foot problems. Onto the book. Sigh. I loved the clothes in TOPH, still wear many of them. There is not much I thought was cute in True Prep. It did seem to be mostly product placememnt. That is what I did not understand. Preppy (to me) means clothes that I can buy now (nice navy blue crewneck sweater) and wear forever. A lot of the designers (for women, men are always a different subject) that were showcased in the book were just the same people I would read about in Vogue, people who make clothes that are in style for a couple of months and then they are useless. That is why I was disapointed. The satire in TOPH worked because it was based in truth. While True Prep was funny in parts, it read more like the website 'Stuff White People Like'.

Summer is a Verb said...

I throw my brick every time I head out to the grocery in my Nana's mink stole over my jammies...XXOO

*also currently rockin' the Ilie Nastase terry wrist band look on my runs :)

Patsy said...

There are a large number of folks out there who see the Preppy Handbook and True Prep as self help books/shopping lists. Scary.

I like the crocs! Scarier.

Christian said...

My perspective is that the OPH and True Prep serve their purposes well for two completely different spaces and times.

Came to this realization recently after viewing some old photos from Deefield in cira 1967-1971, Notre Dame from 1971 -1975and the University Michigan from 19751977 and comparing them with some pics taken within the last three years of students and buildings on all three campuses. This trove of images reflects significant and profound cultural, demographic and ecnomic changes the USA and the world have undergone during the intervening years.

Time to cease bemusing what once was and place our focus and energy on getting American moving forward once again!

Crocs and ADG are totally incompatible!

Young Fogey said...


Crocs in box.
Fox in socks.

Crocs on fox in socks in box.
Socks in Crocs and fox in box.
Fox in socks on box on Crocs.

(with apologies to Ted Geisel)

Anonymous said...

My Eyes! My Eyes!


Anonymous English Female said...

Rather agree with LBT 12:57pm. Wading through all the hoo-ha I'm frequently reminded of Queen Gertrude's line in Hamlet: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Young Fogey - quite, quite brilliant. 'The Young Fogey Book of Poetry' - now that's a book I'm looking forward to being published.

Ignorance Arbitrage said...

Review unmentioned so far:

This article is, in my opinion, the last word on the subject: what was is no longer and it's silly to insist it is. Many of us still pretend it is/ cling to it with varying degrees of self-seriousness/self-mockery, nostalgia, affectation, snobbery, and rigor (both arbitrary and logical). It's gone; there is no "preppy" there there.

(I particularly like the next book reviewed which suggests that the thrifty values many associate with Prep or Ivy or whatever, may still be found in "flyover country" rather than on the coasts.)

p.s. I'll never understand the animus against Crocs qua object. They are ugly as sin and shouldn't be worn as regular footwear might, but are tremendously utilitarian-- super for gardening, because they are comfortable and easily cleaned afterwards. Much, perhaps, like Bean boots?

Steve said...

The problem with True Prep is that it had none of the sly humour of the original. It reads like Lisa Birnbach wanted to promote a few brands and be so inclusive that no definition of "prep" could possibly exist today.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Holy Mackerel, Andy!

ADG said...

All great comments and thanks. I'm behind on my responses here. Fogey....brilliant! Suess are.

And the Crocs....if you look carefully, you'll see that they are brand new...never having been worn out of the house. A gift from a certain little 3 year old girl who thought that her daddy would look great in them.

Thanks everyone.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Those who profess not to take this crap seriously, are obviously the ones who do. Alone, in the privacy of their bedroom, or on their therapist's sofa.

Looking forward to not reading it.

Anonymous said...

JEEEEEZUS - why so darn serious people - live a little.
True blue, old timer preps "get it" and take the book for what it is - a SPOOF ! !
Let the nouveau get aflutter, drool and swarm around this tome.
I'll be sitting back, smiling and nodding.

Good show, you nailed it, Maxminimus.