An Address To The Corduroy Appreciation Club

November 12, 2010

An Address to the Corduroy Appreciation Club

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to the fifth annual Grand Meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club on November 11th, the date which most resembles corduroy.  Below is the text of my address.  Hail the wale.

First, I’d like to offer my thanks to Mr. Rohan and the kind people of Cotton Inc. for allowing me the opportunity to join this convocation.  It is a great honor to address such a warm and august group.

Friends, we are gathered today for a noble purpose.  We celebrate not just a fabric, but a way of life.  

For a thousand years, corduroy has stood for what is right in our lives.  Intellectual rigor.  Fresh air.  The comfort of a crackling fire.  It is a fabric as forgiving and enduring as our spirits at their best.

Sadly, we stand together this evening in the face of great danger.  Interlopers, charlatans and ne’erdowells threaten our values and identities.  All, if you might forgive the pun, is not wale in our world.

But before we get to what is wrong, let’s talk about what is right.

What is your favorite piece of corduroy?  An old pair of pants?  A sportcoat?  A favored trilby that warms your pate on cool autumn days?

What does that garment mean to you?

How do you feel when you don it?  

As your cold leg slides into that warm, soft trouser leg, are you heartened?  Ready to face your troubles?  As you slip your arm into the sleeve of a tattered old blazer, are you calmed?  Ready to get on with the work of the mind?  When you close the buttons of a suit, are you steeled?  Ready to take on the grasses and brambles that stand in the way of progress?

This evening, I’m wearing my own corduroy suit.  For me, this is a suit in which I can live.

I came to this beautiful hall in a soiled subway car, but I might as well have travelled in a grand carriage.  As I walked down the street I drew sidelong glances.  “Who is this man,” they seemed to say.  “A man at home where-ever he travels.  A man of refinement.  A man of elegance.  A man of corduroy.”

But don’t get the wrong idea!  This is not some fabric reserved for oily diplomats, or gentrymen of questionable morality.  Corduroy is not weak!  It is not effete or innefectual or elitist.  Corduroy is a fabric built to take on the world.  Tuck your corduroy trousers into your boots and feed the pigs.  Roll up your corduroy sleeves and bring in the harvest.  Put on a corduroy field jacket and go outside to build something.

What’s truly special about our fabric is that it a fabric for being and for doing.  For relaxed enjoyment and for taking care of business.  For reading ancient tomes and for building great societies.  Corduroy is the fabric of living.

There’s an Italian word: chiarroscuro.  It translates roughly as “the light and the dark."  It means that the brightest light exists in concert with the darkest darkness.

The sun shines incandescent against the blackness of space.  Knowledge wields its greatest power in the presence of ignorance.  A baby’s skin is softest against its father’s rough beard.

For a thousand years, corduroy has been our light against the darkness.  It has served as bulwark; held the inky darkness back, kept the forces of evil at bay.  For a thousand years, corduroy has battled on our behalfs, but tonight, we join together as one to cry to heavens that we stand behind our fabric.  


We join together because there is one danger so clear, so present that without the efforts of those tonight assembled we might be subsumed by evil.  Consumed by that inky darkness.  

While I am hesitant to even speak this evil’s name, I must, and I will.

Tonight, friends, we join together to battle velvet.


Velvet is the fabric of evil.  

Confidence men and crooked bankers join together nightly in velvet-fueled bacchanalias, laughing at their latest swindles.  Sickly courtesans don velvet codpieces and drink champagne toasts to their dominance of the common man.  Third-world dictators rub themselves with velvet swatches while firing squads execute dissident leaders.  

Louche, lude, lascivious velvet is our enemy, and there is no one to fight against it but us.  

Velvet is soft.  It is this softness that draws us in.  Not just here in America, but across borders.

In Spain, a bullfighter choses a handful of cloth over the love of his wife.

In Russia, an oligarch ascends to a velvet throne, stepping on the dreams of the serfs below him.

In England, the embrace of a velveteen rabbit delivers Scarlet Fever to a defensless child.

What is velvet, after all, but the promise of a life without consequence?  A world of soft-pile dreams with their loops clipped off.  A frenzied rubbing, a mad dash, a sensual, erotic extravaganza that never ends?

But beware: velvet’s soft handshake hides a deadly blade.  In the real world, no matter what the velvet-peddlers might tell you, we must face the consequences of our actions.  We must take on the burdens of the world.  We must find comfort in a job well done – not in a job well shirked.

In our own nation, velvet’s cruel, secret blade cuts deep.

Witness in Iowa, a family of four.  A father cries himself to sleep each night, thinking of the mortgage payments he cannot make.  His tears fall gently onto the velvet nightshirt he had to own, the velvet sheets that drained away his life’s savings.  Their flimsy pile cannot keep out the cold.

In Oregon, a young athlete, 22.  Came to college on scholarship, hoped one day to represent his nation in the Olympics – his sport, biathalon.  Then one day he meets a shadowy figure at a party, a man who promises softness  at any cost.  Soon his passion for shooting and corss-country skiing have waned, and all that’s left is a passion for velvet… and self-pleasure.

An artisinal butcher in Williamsburg opens his own shop.  He’s doing well, selling salt-cured bacon and filet of avocado.  Then one night, surfing Etsy, he spots a pair of gloves.  "Those look nice,” he thinks, “and soft, as well."  He imagines how much more comfortable he’ll be without his metal gloves.  When they arrive, he is comfortable.  For months, he’s happy.  Until one day he slips into a moment of reverie while chopping sun-dried tomatoes for an asiago sausage.  No one wants to buy meat from a butcher with seven fingers.

Velvet: the fabric of liars… cheats… charlatans.  Murders… arsonists… rapists.  The fabric of Hitler, of Mao, of Jay Leno.

Truly, these are terrifying times.

There is much to fear.  Much darkness in the world.  Luckily, there is an answer.  It is us.

We are here, together, today, because we share a vision.  A vision for a world where hard work pays off.  Where the lively mind is rewarded.  Where relaxtion and enjoyment are borne from a moral life.

We are brave in the face of challenges.  Our wales will protect us.  Corduroy is our cause, and also our armor.  We will not stray from our path.

We march towards a better world.  We march inexorably.  We march with courage… conviction… corduroy.

Join me now in a cry of freedom.  Join me!




I thank you, and good night.

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