Trial By Fire

“I’m afraid to ask,” I said woozily, “but where does Trump fit in all of this?”

Oldman shook his head with contempt. “A petty Caesar drowning in the swamp. And he will not be joining us here.” He and Mark shared their first amicable glance, and, in perfect sync, intoned together, “His tie’s too long.

Mark now asserted himself and took the lead. “Mr. Oldman and I are in agreement on something else,” he said. “We’re both Pre-Columbians.”

“Lay it on me,” I said impatiently.

“What he means is that this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into all began in 1492,” said Oldman. “We should have never left Europe.”

“Never sought to conquer or colonize,” Mark added emphatically.

I felt like I was at a tennis match. They were striking the same ball, but from opposite sides of the court. 

“We should have never left,” said Oldman, “and never let anyone in.”

“So no United States?” I asked.

It was Mark’s turn. “Do you not agree that genocide and slavery should never have happened?”

“Of course.”

“Then given how things have played out,” Oldman said by way of poach, “the Pre-Columbian position is the only way we could have assured the existence of our people.”

“Not to mention the lives of other people,” Mark said sternly.

So there it was. No jazz, no Hollywood, no Fred Astaire, no Bass Weejun penny loafers. No shining beacon on the hill. In exchange, no slavery, no Native American genocide, and no culture war. It was a circular argument, or at least it seemed that way because my head was spinning. But in the grand scheme of things, looking down on the human tragicomedy from on high, they had a point.

From opposite sides of the net they could agree that America was a spectacular failure, though for different reasons.

Excerpted from “These Are Our Failures
By Christian Chensvold

11 Comments on "Trial By Fire"

  1. Hideous pre-tried neckwear. What Tom Wolfe called a “pizza-grenade tie.”

    Thankfully the 80s are over and even though the necktie is on life-support, I am optimistic that a new golden age of menswear is not only possible, but probable. Keep the faith, CC.

  2. elder prep | May 31, 2020 at 2:55 pm |

    Gentlemen, I suggest we stay discussing men’s traditional dress here and let others determine the fate of society.

  3. john carlos | May 31, 2020 at 3:57 pm |

    Elder prep (of which I am one), I could not agree more!

  4. Guess you could also make a pre-492 (or so) argument: Goths, Vandals, Huns, Magyars etc. all stay in Central Asia. Better deal all around, especially for Romans, Gauls, Belgii and the like.

    And don’t get me started on those meddlesome Phoenicians.

  5. whiskeydent | May 31, 2020 at 4:54 pm |

    CC, your two friends seem to have found a convenient excuse for their failures.

  6. I wouldn’t be friends with either one of those guys.

  7. “a necessary and hard conversation that the trad and Ivy community needs to be having about its role in perpetuating a narrative of exclusion.”

    I agree. The disdainful comments about white Southerners one reads on this site are appalling, often slandering them as “rednecks”. Let’s talk.

  8. “The act of civilizing is the strong imposing their will upon the weak.” From “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.

    The world is in a bad way; it’s unlikely that things will change for the better. Corona virus has shown us how the masses can be controlled, without military personnel on every corner, as in times past.

    The effects of the pandemic will be long lasting. The “new normal” is as frightening as a “One World Government.”

    Let’s stick to which tie to wear with blazers and so forth.

    Nothing will change what has occurred, and what will happen.

  9. Anonymous | June 1, 2020 at 1:30 pm |


  10. The Young New Orleanian | June 1, 2020 at 1:34 pm |

    Gentlemen, can we please stop all this glum talk and get back to trad clothing

    Can this place still be a refuge where we can get away from all that goes on in the world

  11. Caustic Man | June 4, 2020 at 12:16 pm |

    To those clamoring for a broader discussion, and to those clamoring for no discussion at all: This excerpt perfectly defines the response that I think Christian would make. You chirp from different branches but sing the same song.

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