May 15, 2011
In an effort to be au courant I’m devoting this week’s blog to a question of overriding social importance. No, it’s not “Oh, Lord, why won’t you buy me a Mercedez-Benz?” My friends have no Porsches, I have no need for amends. As important as that question might have been at one time it has now been superseded. Dialing for Dollars is no longer trying to reach me.
The great debate of the 21st century: Is it UGGS or TOMS?
I’m told that UGGS are definitely out in California, though after more decades as the epi-center of hipness than anyone currently living can recall, California itself may be out. In the second decade of the third millennium places like Tennessee and Massachusetts are more in than anywhere on the West Coast. It seems the more sets of double letters you have in your state’s name, the inner you get, which of course puts places like Minnesota and Connecticut right up there with the Bay State (except that it’s a commonwealth). Although TOMS had enough cachet to get a shout out in last month’s Delta in-flight magazine feature on El-Lay, UGGS maybe winning out where it counts.
Of course, there’s one state we won’t even bother to mention because it’s so far in by this standard that everyone has already made up their own punch line. Here, what’s critical is simply that you wear shoes: See the feature story here. Of course it’s also possible that Converse will be making another of its periodic comebacks. I’m from the generation that was wearing Chuck Taylors before we even knew that they were Chuck Taylors. How far in can you get? One more thing, though: Watch out for pink.
“I’m sorry,” someone said, “isn’t this supposed to be a blog about food and farming? Where do you get off bringing up some lame question about shoes?”
Okay, I’ll admit that I’m flailing about just a bit here, trying to stay in fashion and up with the Joneses, even though nothing could be further behind the Joneses than an expression like “keeping up with the Joneses”. It’s become apparent to me that this whole food thing has run its course. Oh yeah, we read Michael Pollan and some of the incredibly swish among us even ate kale for a while. Or perhaps I should say we remember when our parents read Michael Pollan and made us eat kale. That whole Food Network thing was before we heard about how cool it is to dig through garbage or run a pawn shop. If there’s one constant, I figure it must be shoes. Jimmy Buffet sang “I’ve got my Hush Puppies on” to remark on how uncool he was, then he changed it to “hiking boots” and now it’s back to “Hush Puppies”. How cool is it to talk about how uncool you are by pointing out what kind of shoes you are wearing? And isn’t it even cooler when just as the old uncool got to be so old and uncool that no one even knew what you were talking about, some punks in Manhattan start wearing them again, and you can be cool by talking about how uncool you used to be, as if you still were. And its even cooler when it turns out to be a Michigan company, even if we don’t have any double letters in our name. So I think that foot sheathings will be a barometer of what matters for-ever.
But food? Food is out.
Tennessee, can you give Vermont the news?
Paul B. Thompson is the W.K Kellogg Chair of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University