How Clothes Can Affect the Way People Treat You
NPR has an interesting story about how some African-Americans used turbans to deal with discrimination in the Jim Crow era. An excerpt:

Routté’s experiment began after he traveled to Mobile, Ala., in 1943 for a family engagement. He wasn’t happy with how he was treated.
"I was Jim Crowed here, Jim Crowed there, Jim Crowed all over the place," he later told reporters. "And I didn’t like being Jim Crowed."
So he went back in 1947, with a plan.
Before he boarded the train to Alabama, he put on his spangled turban and velvet robes. When the train reached North Carolina during lunchtime, Routté walked over to the diner car where the only vacant seat was occupied by two white couples.
One of the men said, “Well, what have we got here?” to which Routté replied in his best Swedish accent (he had been the only black student at a Swedish Lutheran college in Illinois), “We have here an apostle of goodwill and love” — leaving them gaping.
And that confusion seemed to work for Routté on the rest of his trip. He dropped in on police officials, the chamber of commerce, merchants — and was treated like royalty.
At a fancy restaurant he asked the staff what would happen if a “Negro gentleman comes in here and sits down to eat.” The reply: “No negro would dare to come in here to eat.”
"I just stroked my chin and ordered my dessert," he said.
[…]
"He didn’t change his color. He just changed his costume, and they treated him like a human," says Luther Routté, who has been a Lutheran pastor for 25 years. It "shows you the kind of myopia that accompanies the whole premise of apartheid or segregation."
Through the “turban trick,” Routté basically transformed himself from a threat to a guest — black to invisible.

You can read the whole story here.

How Clothes Can Affect the Way People Treat You

NPR has an interesting story about how some African-Americans used turbans to deal with discrimination in the Jim Crow era. An excerpt:

Routté’s experiment began after he traveled to Mobile, Ala., in 1943 for a family engagement. He wasn’t happy with how he was treated.

"I was Jim Crowed here, Jim Crowed there, Jim Crowed all over the place," he later told reporters. "And I didn’t like being Jim Crowed."

So he went back in 1947, with a plan.

Before he boarded the train to Alabama, he put on his spangled turban and velvet robes. When the train reached North Carolina during lunchtime, Routté walked over to the diner car where the only vacant seat was occupied by two white couples.

One of the men said, “Well, what have we got here?” to which Routté replied in his best Swedish accent (he had been the only black student at a Swedish Lutheran college in Illinois), “We have here an apostle of goodwill and love” — leaving them gaping.

And that confusion seemed to work for Routté on the rest of his trip. He dropped in on police officials, the chamber of commerce, merchants — and was treated like royalty.

At a fancy restaurant he asked the staff what would happen if a “Negro gentleman comes in here and sits down to eat.” The reply: “No negro would dare to come in here to eat.”

"I just stroked my chin and ordered my dessert," he said.

[…]

"He didn’t change his color. He just changed his costume, and they treated him like a human," says Luther Routté, who has been a Lutheran pastor for 25 years. It "shows you the kind of myopia that accompanies the whole premise of apartheid or segregation."

Through the “turban trick,” Routté basically transformed himself from a threat to a guest — black to invisible.

You can read the whole story here.

What is taste, anyway?

Carl Wilson is a music journalist, and when he was offered a chance to write an entire book about one album, he chose Celine Dion’s “Let’s Talk About Love.”

Why?

Not because he loves Celine Dion’s music. Because he wanted to understand why so many others did, when he hated it.

Ultimately, he found himself learning about the philosophy of taste. What it means, why we have it (or don’t) and how we judge the taste of others.

Above is a ten-minute conversation between Carl and I on the subject. The rest of the interview - with a lot more Celine talk - will air on my NPR show Bullseye next week, but we wanted to share this as a web exclusive.

Give it a listen… and tell us what you think.

"If I dress like a schlump, I think like a schlump and I work like a schlump." - Nina Totenberg in the Wall Street Journal’s slideshow of how people dress for the office at NPR.
I’ve worked in public radio for twelve years now, though never in an office other than the one where I’m the boss, and this is a pretty representative sampling. Some people look great (Audie Cornish), some look a mess. It’s a funny world, defined in large part by an audience that can’t see you.
(Incidentally, for the twelve million people who’ve emailed me to ask: no picture of me in this feature because while my show is distributed by NPR, I work out of my own office in Los Angeles, not NPR HQ in DC.)

"If I dress like a schlump, I think like a schlump and I work like a schlump." - Nina Totenberg in the Wall Street Journal’s slideshow of how people dress for the office at NPR.

I’ve worked in public radio for twelve years now, though never in an office other than the one where I’m the boss, and this is a pretty representative sampling. Some people look great (Audie Cornish), some look a mess. It’s a funny world, defined in large part by an audience that can’t see you.

(Incidentally, for the twelve million people who’ve emailed me to ask: no picture of me in this feature because while my show is distributed by NPR, I work out of my own office in Los Angeles, not NPR HQ in DC.)

NPR’s Planet Money published an amazing piece of journalism on the mechanics of the global garment industry illustrated by the life-cycle of a cotton tshirt. Alex Blumberg narrates as they follow the shirt from cotton seeds in Mississippi, to the rhythm of the machine weaving process in Indonesia, to the lives of people in Bangladesh and Colombia where the shirts are made, to the box container ships that make global shipping affordable, and eventually onto our bodies. Well, not our bodies, yet. Order a shirt here.

Not only is the story of the shirt, the earth-straddling industry that makes it possible, and the impacts of industry on people’s lives interesting and, in my preachy opinion, capital-I Important, but the presentation is also fantastic—wonderfully shot, concise videos; detail-rich supplementary text, and well-designed infographics. A good way to spend your lunch hour, especially if you care about clothes.

-Pete

What Is Bullseye?

As some who read this know, I host an NPR show called Bullseye. On it, I interview the greatest creators in popular culture, get tips from top critics, and recommend amazing stuff.

I’m really proud of the show (which you can and should get free in iTunes or your favorite podcast app), and I think you’ll love it.

Take a couple seconds and listen to this little piece we’ve put together featuring some of our favorite guests - Big Boi, Dolly Parton, Jeff Bridges, Mavis Staples and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Then subscribe. Because there’s a lot more where that came from.

How a T-Shirt is Made
Following my post yesterday on the problem with country-of-origin labels, a reader of ours forwarded me some links to this NPR story about how some of the NPR’s promotional t-shirts are made (you know, the kind of t-shirts you get when you pledge money to a radio show). The story goes through the production process step-by-step - from the growing of the cotton to the cut-and-sewing of the garment - and it’s impressive to hear how many countries can be involved in even the making of a simple t-shirt. 
The first update to this story was posted just this past Wednesday (it’s a short 15-minute radio clip, and makes for a good listen). To learn more, you can check out the project’s Kickstarter page and Tumblr blog. 
(Thanks to Matt for the links!)

How a T-Shirt is Made

Following my post yesterday on the problem with country-of-origin labels, a reader of ours forwarded me some links to this NPR story about how some of the NPR’s promotional t-shirts are made (you know, the kind of t-shirts you get when you pledge money to a radio show). The story goes through the production process step-by-step - from the growing of the cotton to the cut-and-sewing of the garment - and it’s impressive to hear how many countries can be involved in even the making of a simple t-shirt. 

The first update to this story was posted just this past Wednesday (it’s a short 15-minute radio clip, and makes for a good listen). To learn more, you can check out the project’s Kickstarter page and Tumblr blog

(Thanks to Matt for the links!)

As some Put This On readers may know, I’m a public radio host by trade. This week, on my show Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, I got to talk to one of my all-time heroes: Mel Brooks. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I hope you’ll take the time to give it a listen. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to it free in iTunes.

On my public radio show Bullseye, we close every episode with an essay by me that recommends some piece of culture. This week, I wrote about William Carlos Williams’ spectacular poem “Danse Russe,” but also about what it’s like to be a dad and live well. This piece is short, and I think you’ll like it. The episode it came from, with George Saunders and Maria Bamford, is one that I’m very, very proud of.

If you do like it, you should subscribe to it, free, in iTunes. Or ask your local public radio station to carry it.

NPR’s Michelle Martin talks to Monica L. Miller, author of Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, and chats with some sharply-dressed NPR staffers.

Once in a while, I bring something from my public radio show Bullseye over here. Sometimes it’s because it’s related to menswear. Sometimes it’s just because I really like it. This is the latter.

Tony Hale played Buster Bluth on Arrested Development (and will play him again, as Netflix has revived the show), and he’s brilliant on the wonderful new HBO show Veep. I talked to him about being the Vice President’s “Body Man,” about how his faith intersects with his career as an artist, and of course about Buster.

The interview’s on Soundcloud here. You can hear the whole episode here, or get it (or subscribe!) free in iTunes with this link.