Thursday, July 27, 2006

speaking of paid labor


I just posted this rambling thing about American Apparel over at Dr. Mabuse.

If it generates any interest there, I ought to be sure to mention that it was inspired by a post at Chapati Mystery, where sepoy links to a handy news article on the company. And by the new American Apparel store I saw in Oakland the other day. And the title of the post? Inspired by Mr. Theodore Dreiser, one very strange fellow.

See An American Tragedy (von Sternberg, 1931)

And A Place in the Sun (Stevens, 1951)

You know who else wrote an essay on the company? Mr. Gladwell. I'm not feeling quite up to reading it right now, but you might be. Lemme know.

And, what do you know, it IS about film. The Oakland American Apparel store, in Pittsburgh, in the old Kings Court movie theater and police station. At least they found a use for that now strangely joyless ex-pleasure palace.


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9 Comments:

Blogger juniper pearl said...

jane ran an article about american apparel's head honcho that made my skin crawl. i guess it must have been a few years ago, because i haven't read that magazine in a while, but it might be worth chasing down if you're interested in the man, in an oh-my-god-that's-so-awful-why-can't-i-tear-my-eyes-away kind of way. he's icky. way, way icky.

but the shirts are so soft! oh, the conflict!

6:33 PM  
Blogger zp said...

There are so many interviews, and in such a range of publications that I get the sense its part of a large publicity campaign on the part of the company, even perhaps a way to try to deal with the lawsuits head on, rather than to let it "be revealed" that he's an asshole. It's hard to imagine the press release that went out: "American Apparel CEO is a total asshole. But in a fun, approachable way. Why not interview him and explore your own sense of what's sexually appropriate?"

then, on top of this, there's (not to be a bitch about your comment . . . but . . .) this total either or mentality. as if fair labor practices, a respectful workplace culture and soft t shirts are in some way, essentially mutually exclusive. as if we can't hold a company to account for everything . . . and then there's the fact that he's just another union-buster like Whole Foods. and employs people without the protection of citizenship.

anyway, I'd like to set a pack of angry, informed undergrads on him.

7:49 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

I love your course idea. And since you posted this I have spent a bit too much time at the AA website. I had read the New York Magazine profile of Charney a few months ago but I didn't realize how pervasive he has become. What a creep.

You couldn't teach that kind of course every place, though. Many towns (mine included) have no AA. People would have heard of it, maybe, but it wouldn't be familiar. But it would be fun to take a class field trip to retail environments. I like that idea a lot.

Btw, have you read the wikipedia article yet?

9:50 AM  
Blogger zp said...

Well, now I have read the Wikipedia article. Yes?

12:00 PM  
Blogger zp said...

That Claudine Ko article has been quoted and cited A LOT. But I'm not sure the full-text is available. But I could assign undergrads to find it in real libraries. And maybe they'd have to make photocopies of their sources.

I'm thinking of a class vaguely like the way they do it at UC Irvine. http://eee.uci.edu/programs/comp/

12:37 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

Re wikipedia, I especially liked this part:
"According to a page on the site, an avid interest in Wikipedia has been known to afflict “computer programmers, academics, graduate students, game-show contestants, news junkies, the unemployed, the soon-to-be unemployed and, in general, people with multiple interests and good memories.” You may travel in more exalted circles, but this covers pretty much everyone I know."

I found the article informative and thought-provoking, but I would have liked more reflection on the production of knowledge/truth. Not necessarily Foucauldian theorizing but at least some more reflective consideration of the very problematic nature of the effort to "get it right." I love wikipedia but it also drives me crazy, and the article did capture that contradictory feeling. I might say more later upon further reflection.

Re Claudine Ko, I found her Blogger minima ochre blog:
http://www.giantrobot.com/blogs/claudine/index.html
And this article (which perhaps you have read) which excerpts the juiciest bits of the Jane profile:
http://www.blacktable.com/graham050720.htm

2:33 PM  
Blogger zp said...

oh, THAT wikipedia article. i thought you meant the wikipedia article [on charney]. which was not that interesting at all.

i just got my nyer friday. i read the first paragraph of that wikipedia article and [with the quote you left also] it looks like the author is very good at lists.

i'm actually dying to read that new new yorker (lots of unfamiliar cartoonists!?) but i'm working on a paper due soon, too soon.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the small amount of posts I've read, you don't seem to give any well-formed arguments as to why any given article is unimpressive. Am I missing something? And does anyone really believe the "it was sitting open so I read this part" excuses?

I don't mean to attack you-- and besides, I'd be surprised to hear that no one has ever pointed out these glaring flaws-- so if you feel like responding on the comments board, I would be much obliged.

You might learn a few things about spelling, grammar, and proofreading from the New Yorker. They wouldn't hire you in a million years. Maybe that's why you're so upset!

-Matt

3:22 PM  
Blogger zp said...

I have felt the t-shirts. They are soft. And the color combos, etc are cute and appealing.

9:53 AM  

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