Sunday, January 21, 2007

Memory played me false!

It is a well-known fact, of course, that memory is highly unreliable, and yet I am still struck with horror when it happens!

As I wrote about Helen Hill the other week, I considered all sorts of details for their accuracy--was the little dress the cat wore really blue and white with yellow flowers, or am I conflating it with something else? was that visit during the fall of 2003 or the spring of 2004?--but ended up with a WILD MISREPRESENTATION OF ART HISTORY in my parenthetical aside about Dollar-A-Pound!

The true originator of the project described there, evil genius/eminence grise Elijah Aron, has kindly provided me (in response to my desperate request) with the text for a lovely correction; I've appended it to the original entry and given it here also for your enjoyment and edification.

(Also I am making a resolution to do more art of a non-writing kind, I forgot how things used to be when I was a Young Person!)

Here's Elijah, in any case:

Very well, Jenny, my old friend,

As I recall, Helen, Paul, some other friends and I were at Dollar-a-Pound when we found about 12 white jumpsuits. We washed them and then I (Elijah!) came up with the idea to spraypaint numbers on the back of the suits and have 12 people wear the suits for an entire week. It was an experimental art piece.

The only important rule was that you couldn't take off the numbered suits except in private (people were allowed to go to the restroom and shower, contrary to some rumors).

David Gammons (I still called him Avatar at the time) was enthusiastic about the project. He never claimed credit but a lot of people thought he was responsible since he was always doing crazy art pieces and was far more popular than me.

The only other people I definitely remember donning the suits were Thomas Lauderdale, Arik Grier and Victor Ortiz de Montellano. Our best friend at the time, Jane Yeh, refused to wear a white suit as she was dedicated to a personal fashion philosophy that involved only wearing bright colors.

I chose to spray paint the number one on my suit, thinking it would clearly delegate me as the leader. But I let the other participants choose whichever number they wanted. Three choices I recall were 0, 13, and the infiinity symbol.

Some of the white suit wearers gave up after a day or two. I can't remember who, but I consider those people to be small-minded conformist cowards. But most people managed to wear the suit the entire week.

People who didn't know each other previously felt an intense bond with their fellow white-suit wearers. At least one Harvard sociology class discussed the project while it was happening. In Adams House, a lot of people felt jealous and excluded from the white suit brigade. Most of the rest of the campus just thought we were weird nerds.

So there you go--thank you, Elijah, and if anyone has any further recollections regarding suit-wearers, numbers, etc. please leave details in the comments.

NB on an only obliquely related note, I have this perverse fondness for the production design of dystopian movies, though I believe we are generally supposed to find such visions off-putting--really it seems to me that a navy blue jumpsuit and combat boots is basically the ideal outfit--I would like it if life involved this kind of a uniform--in fact I am also herewith making a resolution that I will try and find a really good jumpsuit that is utilitarian-looking enough to suit my esthetic but fashionable enough to be worn in a wide range of settings without making me look like I should be sweeping up leaves on the sidewalk--the only risk would be that if I found a really good one I would become psychologically incapable of wearing anything else!


  1. A very nice response from Elijah. Very gentle and intesting! Thanks for your blog... looking forward to the next post!

  2. Yes, I agree. Very nice response.

  3. Darling, I adore you and your sartorial choices (how can you go wrong with cardigans and black?!), but the jumpsuit is NOT a good idea.

  4. you may also be thinking of the ORANGE jumpsuits gammons required for the Jet of Blood crew. mine didn't fit even slightly and i remain grateful to dave, who could be a real stickler about that sort of thing, for letting me not wear it. don't get me wrong. i love art. but when you find yourself walking all stooped over because it feels like your genitals are tied to your shoulders with rope, that, i think, is when you have to begin to question whether there isn't perhaps a different route you could take to the same artistic "destination."

  5. i remember wearing one of those suits. i can't remember for sure what my number was but i might have been infinity. i vividly remember the feel of the material and the zipper and how one had to undo the whole thing to sit on the toilet. one pieces should come back in style though like overalls they are not too practical for women when using the bathroom.
    it was fun going around in that suit, that i remember for sure. i wish i had kept mine...
    and no, these were not orange, they were white!(natasha)