Not since the adoption of the Roman priest collar has a single portion of a man's wardrobe so defined his
place and politics in society as in the early 60's. Three small collar buttons defined a part of a the youth
culture as "Ivy League" juxtaposed to "Barts," who wore no collar with their T-shirts and black Big Ben Davis work pants. Buttons, costing infinitely less than a Harvard education, seemed a small price to pay when making
a statement about one's values, pleasures, musical and car preferences and upward mobility. Seems these
two social classes of my youth mixed like camshaft oil and radiator fluid on a cracked block with a blown head gasket. If Gym class served a single noble purpose it was in being an equalizer: Here everyone dressed the same and true skill stood out like tail fins on a 59 Fleetwood.
Two "Barts" from the Mission moved to my neighborhood in 1960 and brought with them gifts that would soon
shape and define the next three generations to follow: Soccer and Marijuana. Looking back on this cultural coup,
I have even more admiration for the Rodriguez brothers. They were friendly, loyal, up-front and
willing to share a much larger part of their culture than we were. In retrospect, they had more to share: Westlake
was a very one dimensional abstraction than ran from the Sunset, tail between its legs, begging for a patch
of green lawn and a loaf of Wonder Bread. It politely spit up the flavors of The City in favor of something more
steeped in the American Dream which, in the end, turned out to be foggy gray flannel and a button-down collar.
Teenagers will always find modes of identification in dress; what tribe doesn't. How unfortunate, as I look back,
on what other gifts and riches may have come packaged a bit differently. Being wrapped way too tight as a kid,
I guess I'll never know. Funny, I still wear those same Ivy League shirts today. Maybe I'll live on the edge, leave
the collar unbuttoned for a few days and see if, by chance, I run into the Rodriguez brothers. I think one of them is coaching soccer at a local university.