Sarah Silverman delivers the anthem for all of us schleps who can’t remember the last time we partied or if we ever did.
The Doors exploded onto the music scene 46 years ago with their eponymously titled debut album. No other band sounded as muscularly visceral in those days. I remember hearing their music over the PA system when I attended the Monterey Pop Festival at the ripe old age of 15. The band didn’t play the festival, but their spirit was strongly felt there. They were the raw, dark, sensually and sexually charged sound of The Summer of Love. An adult-oriented contrast to the album that most represents that time, The Beatles opus, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist who founded the group with vocalist Jim Morrison, was responsible for much of the band’s signature sound. The album version of their first single, “Light My Fire“, features one of the most deservedly famous organ solos in rock history. I think there is no more fitting statement to Mr. Manzarek’s mastery of the instrument. Only a few, rare times in popular music have artists joined to make such a lasting impact on the sound of an era. In the rebellious California music scene of the late 60s The Doors was just such an amazing confluence of talent.
It would come as no surprise to any reader of this blog that a major point of the blog is the physical admiration of men. I would go so far to say that I participate strongly in the visual sexual objectification of the male body and I will not apologize for that penchant.
However, let me make it crystal clear that in my personal life, I do not, nor ever will, participate in selectively excluding people based on their physical superiority or lack thereof. I am not pro giving pretty people higher levels of anything save attraction. Pretty is not necessarily a synonym for cool in my book.
My support of human endeavors extends to all positive efforts regardless of the “pretty factor”. Overall, our culture responds more favorably to people based of their attractiveness and I would be a hypocrite to say I didn’t suffer from that bias as well. That being said, I will never consciously support rejecting anyone’s ability to be equal, to experience all the joys of this life despite imagined or real disabilities, and to be treated with respect and dignity in almost every regard. (Yes, even those people I work against in the battle for gay rights.)
The recent clash of philosophies between Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries and normal human beings has brought up a culture clash around the meaning of “cool”. Mr. Jeffries believes that his store aspires to support only pretty people who are cool in his estimation. Mr. Jeffries, everyone is entitled to an opinion even one as heinous as yours.
A&F is now the kind of store that would have refused to sell to me for a greater part of my life. I remember bath houses that screened clientele in LA in the 80s. If you didn’t measure up to their judgmental standards you weren’t allowed in. (In hindsight, I should have been grateful that I never frequented such places. After all, I managed to live through the AIDS crisis in part because of my failure to party in casual sex establishments.) Gay nightclubs like West Hollywood’s Studio One had sexist and racist standards of admittance that didn’t personally affect me, but made me feel ashamed of gay men’s abilities to ostracize others while screaming about how they were ostracized by the greater society.
This kind of superiority based on insecurity and fear bothers me to this day. It was ugly then and it is even more ugly now at a time when we need to grow up and start accepting others for qualities that go beyond fickle measurements, false standards of beauty, and superficiality. Cool is not an acceptable yardstick for establishing people’s worth any more than “hot” is. Yes, I get that Jeffries is preaching to his core customer base, mostly people under thirty years of age who still possess adolescent mind sets and bodies. These are individuals who haven’t matured yet. Though Jeffries himself is no spring chicken, it is obvious to me his declarations mark him as one of those individuals who has never matured past the hackneyed standards of his adolescence. In enforcing the value of cool he has managed to not only look crass and foolish himself but become the very arbiter of what is uncool in our culture.