Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Plus Ça Change Department: LA c. 1970 or Montréal 2009?

The pix is supposedly of high school students in Los Angeles in the early 1970s (Wikipedia says 1973) but as I've been nosing around this morning, trying to get a fix on what kind of clothes a mother and daughter would fight about then, I was struck by how much the pair resemble the students in my Portuguese class at the Université de Montréal last term.

After more than a week of diversion, I'm back working on River Music, and the topic at hand is what Frances will wear to her Graduation Ball in 1973 and what she will pack to go to MIT in that fall. My idea is that this very banal conflict will tell a lot about the relation between the two women, and the career paths they will follow. Frances will become an electrical engineer while her mother, Gloria, was a concert pianist.

I haven't decided what the resolution of the argument will be, but I do know that one young women in my class this December wore a jumper, tights and long sleeved shirt almost exactly like this one, while more than one young man in the class favoured the long hair, jeans and white shirt look of the guy in the photo.

What does this mean? That everything that goes around, comes around? That pretty, slim young women can make anything look terrific? That jeans and white shirts are modern-day classic clothes?

Probably all of the above. And also that being young is a country through which we all pass, and which we forget at our peril.

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