Taking a brief break from thinking about politics…

It took two sides of Ruben Blades and Cal Tjader to remove the insidious store music from my head. Why am I in a store anyway, when I have essays to write?

I am helping out at this conference on Monday, The Personal Democracy Forum Conference. It’s about citizens participating in democracy and the political process, using the newest technologies like blogs, the internet, web campaigning and on-line fundraising. A key motivation for the conference is redefining what it means to engage with and report on the processes of government.

Yesterday I helped out with some technical preparation stuff for the conference in a Tribeca loft with a neat group of people who work seamlessly under tight deadlines.

Everything was fine until I learned that we are supposed to “dress”. Uh Oh. I gave away all those kinds of clothes to an outfit that provides suits to low income job seekers.

Even the swell technodude who is going to wire up the conference for wifi bloggers, is going to wear a suit. What to do? I thought maybe I could throw something together that would pass for “dress” from the stores in my neighborhood.

I walked around Astoria, prowling the crowded dollar stores that sell clothes off of shelves right next to the discounted silverware and mountains of paper towels.I visited the so-called department stores that feature racks of unsorted clothing spread out on warehouse floors. I even checked out the Indian clothing stores, where the women followed me around, making me feel like a potential shop lifter.

Each store blasted the same shapeless, adhesive pop that gets plopped onto top 40 like mounds of trash in an empy lot. The music made me want to leave the store as soon as I entered. Resolved: no more shopping in stores that play junk music anymore. The last stored played a toneless remix of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It sounded like Lauper on Ludes. The first version was smarmy enough. This one bit back.

I rushed out of the store and hurried home to the cds I borrowed from the fabulous Lincoln Center library. There’s an amazing resource for New Yorkers. Any kind of music you want to hear is probably on the shelves there in some form. And they let you take it home! Problem is, of course, that some people don’t bring it back. But that’s another story.

What about the suit? I’m going to wear my black cotton pants, and the one blazer I own, and that will just have to be okay. Thoreau warns us to be wary of enterprises requiring new clothes. And that’s good enough for me.

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