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Letters From the Editor


I was supposed to have lunch with a friend of my father’s at the Yale Club on Friday; I say supposed because I was turned away – by the coat-check guy – for wearing jeans. Now, I was wearing a tie, jacket, even a shirt with French cuffs, but blue jeans (and these were clean, solid color Levis, no bleach stains or scuffy cuffs) are not acceptable.

‘I’m sure they’ll take our money across the street,’ said my host, himself in suspenders, a blue suit, a red tie, loudly for everyone to hear and we left and found ourselves a nice lunch at some bistro by Grand Central, but still; rejected for blue jeans? From the Yale Club? It was too delicious.

I had been there once before as a kid with my grandfather, a Yalie (as remembered before) that stood by the University until his grandchildren chose to go elsewhere and then swore the school had gone to pot; it was all large armchairs, dramatic blue curtains, lots of old men with windshield-like glasses. I don’t remember much besides the height of the armchair my grandfather was in; I was only six or seven at the time, but the arm was above my head and smelled like leather.

Having gone to a small college in New England, I’m routinely invited to join the Williams Club, (with open arms; it seems their rolls are down and they’ve had to invite outsiders – from practically every college East of Chicago) but, Jesus, if I was to join one of these things I’d certainly try to crash the swells and stand rank with a little posterity. Say, the Harvard Club, where people have arguments about architecture and design.

There’s a coup d’etat brewing at the Harvard Club. The membership is squabbling over a modern, glass-sheathed addition to the club’s stately home on West 44th Street, near Fifth Avenue. Critics feel the addition, currently under construction, will wreck the aesthetic of the red- brick, 1894 neo-Georgian edifice. Some members gripe that the Harvard Club board rammed the design down the throats of the membership at large, and many are furious that the board sold a beloved John Singer Sargent oil painting to help finance the $25 million project.
Unfortunately, Harvard is for the crimson-blooded only; unlike the Yale and Williams clubs, its members are required to have spent time taking bong hits in Cambridge:

‘Our fear is that a board that’s capable of selling off the artwork and building an inappropriate addition may be capable of making other changes, like admitting graduates of other universities,’ said this committee member, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He added darkly: ‘As the Yale Club and Princeton Club have done.’

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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