Friday, May 4, 2012

My 2012 Madras Verdict: CAC-Clapton...and WASP Cloth Gone Wrong

I think one of the things that draws me to madras—other than the obvious fact that there’s no better foundation—no better pulpit from which to preen impertinently and manifest CAC vulgarity, is its place amongst my childhood memories. I’ve mentioned before, how I coveted a madras shirt and an alligator belt when I was in grammar school. My older cousins had ‘em and so did the other older boys in my town and I wanted them too. I’m on the record positing the fact that you can’t start your kids on madras too soon. But all of that’s changed now.
Oh…and what’s CAC? It’s my newly derived species within the WASP genus. I’m absent a few, by my definition, key attributes necessary for inclusion amongst the purest of pure WASP species. And you can best believe that I’ve been tore up about it since I was old enough to figure out that I wasn’t one. Even though my father’s people to this day have been on the same land in South Carolina for over two hundred years, my stock still doesn’t stand the most rigorous test of WASP pedigree. And on my mother’s side, we even have a signer of the Declaration of Independence. You’ll see his signature just below that show-offy flourish of one Mister John Hamcock. Peer pressure and jealously; consistent with what the Good Book, my mama and my grand-mama and Uncle Wiley and Mr. Dawkins, my Scout Master said, is a seductive and ultimately, toxic force. My WASP envy got so bad at one point during college that I would curl up and in a tight little ball and cry like a baby about it. And my college gal, Roxanne Burgess, in all of her desire to sooth me, was an enabler.
Roxanne was about two and a half times my size. Big, obviously, but height-weight proportionate. And she was a stunner. So I’d curl up in her lap and commence crying. "I wanna be like the Alsop brothers” I’d holler…tears puddling and then tributarilating, trickle-down like, into Roxanne’s ample cleavage. And then amidst my waterworks, after gulping some air, I’d whine a clarification on my jealous desires.“…but actually I wanna be like Stewart Alsop because he had hair and liked women.” The more I cried—wailed actually, the more focused and engaged she’d become at trying to sooth me. And sooth, oh my goodness, she did. Looking back on those curled and unfurled moments with Roxanne, I’m rather glad I didn’t arrive at the CAC categorization back then. I’d a had to figure out another pathos over which to have a breakdown. Because one thing was for sure, lap curling and unfurling with my Miss Burgess, was a must-do. Oh lordy, I still haven’t uncloaked the CAC acronym. I am, unequivocally, a Carolina Anglo Cracker. Hold your applause. Shut up.
This was supposed to be about madras right? The iconic badge of Ivy-Prep-WASP-CAC ness right? I’m sitting here typing this drivel in my Brooks Brethren patch madras robe avec white pocket handkerchief and it pains me to declare my final verdict on Madras 2012. I was conflicted regarding whether or not to ban it for 2012. The Brothers Brooks, amidst some of their other misguided Spring 2012 offerings, has done a rather admirable job with Brethren Madras this year. So much so that at one point last week, I was ready to simply declare that Madras 2012 in all iterations, would be wide a_s open. But then God availed to me, a peek at Eric Clapton. And in a flash, I reversed my  2012 decision.  Folks, it had to be a divine intervention because I’d a never found this without His help. Bing Crosby in madras...yes. Clapton? Not so much.
Clapton you say? Yep. Clapton is not God but there was a time when that phrase was bandied about. The graffiti was everywhere back in the early 1970’s. Even my uncle Rembert, direct descendant on my mama’s side, of  my family's Declaration Signer, would come along and add his affirmational personal signature to the graffiti. Butcept always with red spray paint. Clapton was always one of the first to disavow the comparison. He's never been God but he continues to be an incredible guitarist and part of my hearing loss is due to playing Layla over and over again on my mom’s stereo while I banged my drums. Clapton’s great. But he’s not God.
This is my Eric Clapton. Kinda like how Cal Naughton, Jr. and Ricky Bobby conceptualized their Jesus in Talladega Nights.  You have your version of Clapton and I have mine. This is my Eric the way I like to think of him…tentative in his budding fame. And awkward as hell in his 1973 rock star sartorial ensemble…in a bad, side zippered boot kinda way. Oh, and his heroin skinny carcass topped by an “Eric, you oughta try perming your hair” mop. He’s evolved over the years. Fits and spurts and side trips and failings and victories along the way are part and parcel of the Clapton journey. Kinda like madras. But Eric appeared to have most of his fits and troubles early on. Madras, it seems, only started getting trashy in the last half-decade.
Clapton is a good man. Clapton still has most of his guitar chops intact. But Clapton…at least my Clapton, shan’t be wearing any madras cargo shorts in concert. I know they’re comfortable. But they aren’t on strategy for Clapton. At least not my Clapton.
 From heroin chic to patch madras cargo shorts in thirty-eight years. And I suppose the pre-concert email suggested that all participants consider madras cargo shorts. Vince Gill got the email. Thanks be to God that my girlfriend, Sheryl Crow didn’t. Clapton in madras cargo is my new embodiment of madras gone wrong. Madras. Where it shouldn't be.

So let’s give madras a rest for the rest—of the 2012 season.

Onward. In linen.


Reggie Darling said...

ADG, Here's to you for another one of your classic, meandering side-splitters that takes your readers on a happy magic carpet ride that winds up with the perfect ending. I LOVED it! What has the world come to, now that Eric Clapton is dressing and looking like Jimmy Buffet!?! Reggie

Main Line Sportsman said...

CAC...Just tremendous Mr. Baltzell.
By the way...last call on the Races on 19th...e-mail me ASAP.

gentleman mac said...

Can I modify your subspecies to fit Georgia? I would ask it to be changed to SAC, but, c'mon, who wants to be a SAC?

Dustin B. said...

Terrific acronym!

Does going to junior high and high school in Charlotte qualify me?

Congratulations to Sheryl Crow on dating you though. Seriously. She's come a long way from Matthew McConaughey.

Anonymous said...

I'd venture to say CAC>WASP. Actually being a WASP is a handicap to living like a WASP in this day and age. Consider: money is out or running out, athletic ability withered by inbreeding, Ivies are generally out of the question due to consideration of merit and diversity. My cousins are direct descendants of a Signer and a President, and my Aunt and Uncle are proper WASPs. Their CT mansion is in foreclosure, the kids all have tattoos and piercings, and none have graduated college despite prep school education.

That is to say: Revel in your CAC status.

Anonymous said...

Just as almost all Anglo Saxons are white, almost all Carolina Crackers are Anglo, so if you are looking to match professor Baltzell in redundancy, you are doing fine.

Of course, those looking to be picky might observe that most Carolina Crackers are ectually Celts, but there you go- the beauty of growing up in the Carolinas was that nobody much made distinctions among the various tribes coming from Great Britain- unlike the not-so-inclusive crowds further North and East, who had no interest in the Irish and scant more in the Scots.

Are you sure you aren't talking about the ACC? Clemson, Maryland, Virginia? There is a suspicious lot of overlap.

But here is what we all know about crackers- there is soda crackers and there is Ritzy crackers. And then there is MY old sweetheart, Salteen.

Your pal,
Cody Graham

oldmoney said...

Love Madras, just aquired patch madras pants this week. Can't wait to wear them with a tennis shirt, navy blazer and boat shoes, bare ankles on display! And thanks to G at An Affordable Wardrobe for giving me the nerve to try it.

LPC said...

And I'd just like to point out that apparently our families knew each other at one point, since Lewis Morris (the signatory up and to the right) is my great multiple grandfather. So nice to make your acquaintance, this much down the generations. I say you are a WASP is you wanted to be one, which you don't, and I have at least 2-3 WASP tokens to give out.

Young Fogey said...

Cody Graham opined thusly:

"Just as almost all Anglo Saxons are white..."

Um, what? "Almost"? You sure that's the word you want? Seems to me kind of like saying, almost all squares have right angles.

Maybe I'm missing something.

CeceliaMc said...

Your loss is my gain.

I can now buy madras shorts from Sam's Club with the full understanding that they're now an ironic trad-cum-low-rent-subculture counter-culture statement.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand - that guitar festival was in 2009. Why is Clapton's wardrobe there just now making Madras a "no"?

P.S. A bigger "no" in my book is Clapton's mixing of Madras with a Guayabera shirt.

Anonymous said...

"A bigger 'no' in my book is Clapton's mixing of Madras with a Guayabera shirt."

Ho-lee smoke. I thought it but you said it, and you said it so good!

Besides which, I've already said Medicare Madras is exempt from all these little people rules. Besides which else, my Eric is Unplugged Eric, my plaid-shirt Eric doing Old Love with its unmatched solo of all time @ 3:20, and then Chuck comes in at 5:20, aw heck this tune slays start to finish.


ADG said...

ReggieDarlingTowner…thanks buddy. BTW…I’ve ordered a book for you and Boy. It’s out of print so it won’t be pristine. But after I read about your Charleston Receipts experience, I decided then and there that you must have this great little Charleston book. I’ll let you know when it arrives.

Main Line Sportsman…as usual…I’ve got LFG that weekend and she ain’t goin’ nowhere that I want to go. You know how that goes down.

gentleman mac...I reckon we can go with SAC. But I had a fratty brother whose nickname was SAC and he’ll think we are a bunch of cult followers. And he don’t need no cult followers. Nobody does actually. Butcept Jesus.

Dustin B. ...You got to change that shitty first name of yours. Junior High and High in Charlotte…yep, it could count. But only if you did NOT attend Charlotte Latin, Country Day or Myers Park High School. And Sheryl…she’s a doll.

AnonymousCAC>Wasp...Your not inappropriate broad brush stroke could apply to almost any group. And therefore, I’ve always revelled in my CAC status. Surprise I know—but this story was fulled up with hyperbole and drama. Oh, and I have tattoos. No piercings though.

AnonymousAngloAllCrackerWhite...I’d only tweak your broad brushstroke a bit. There are snooty subsets of Episcopalian/Anglicans amongst the ever so damned confusing to me when I was younger … Scots/Irish…who still cull and split hairs and further separate the herd. My mother’s side was mostly Presbyterian and Methodist and my father’s side was almost all Baptist.

All three of those handlin’ choices were considered tacky by the most pious ass WASPs of the South. Roxanne Burgess’ daddy comes to mind. Oh…and the ACC? I quit with ‘em when USC left the ACC. And the Saltine is the hardest working cracker in cracker business.

oldmoney...Well you’ll just have to wait till 2013 to do so.

LPC--Prunella...Presumptuous of me I know…but I think if I really, really wanted one of your WASP tokens…you’d give me one of yours. And you are my highest-highest WASP…the bar…the comparator…the control variable that I use when poseurs and those putting on airs about “their people” start their usual business about it.

Young Fogey...Be easy on Cody Graham. His mama and my mama come out of the same swamp.

CeceliaMc...Leave it to you to turn this into some kinda Che sympathizer badge of honor thang. From Sam’s Club none the damn less. And yehaw right back atcha. With a Barlow knife in one of my cargo pockets. Bam.

AnonymousDon’tUnderstand...the reason I’m just now giving madras a “no” is that I just found the clip of the 2009 festival. I didn’t know what kind of shirt that was but now that you’ve enlighted me…I share your horror.

AnonymousMedicareMadras...yep. That’s when Clapton looked his best.

yoga teacher said...

This post is so cool, and has cleared up so much! I never knew my initials, but I'm a CACBWT (by way of Texas), and Scotch-Irish on top of that. I really did put the acoustic "Layla" on my playlist this week, but might delete it due to the madrasana image burned into my mind. Thank you.

THe Leopard said...

First of all Clapton, rock icon, I like to remember him in the documentary film The Last Concert of Cream, that was Clapton at his best, now he looks like some trust fund guy in between rehab visits, patch madras and a guyabera shirt, please spare me. As for the madras thing, I still say stick to the non patch classic madras, bleeding if you can get it. I do see your point about the amount of madras abuse going on today, my wife and I recently returned from Las Vegas and saw such abuses of madras fabric (all of it patch) that I almost lost it, it all looked like total crap and was being worn by people who looked the same. When I was young this fabric ruled, now in my mid-fifties I find myself rethinking the whole thing, when will they stop messing everything up for the sake of making a buck?

Young Fogey said...

I'm still a' gonna wear my non-patch madras neckties. Just not all at the same time.

maven said...


You've got to see Bill Murray in all of his patch madras/plaid splendor: