Thursday, January 30, 2014

ode to Alvin Duskin

At first, I was merely delighted that my doppelganger, the more sentimental one who was willing to hang onto these icons of our youth for several centuries, finally said, Eh, to her fond memories of smoking in the girls' bathroom while Sly and the Family Stone had hot fun in the gym.  Since I was at home recopying my AP Biology notes at the time,  I am now using these excellent props, scored at the University Ave. Goodwill, to invent a more interesting high school experience.  One in which I talked to boys and ate store-bought bread.
As I was enjoying the unsurpassed ability of 100% acrylic to produce sweat, I noticed the classy-looking label -- Alvin Duskin San Francisco.  Are you going to San Fran Cisco.... sing it with me.
Ok, that's enough.
So I stalked Alvin and discovered, from a 1970 article in the Boca Raton News, that he's a pacifist-anarchist-capitolist. He did not sell out. And if he did, it was completely justified, as the dress above demonstrates.  Warning:  Learning may happen. Stop here if you're a don'tcare-ist.

Alvin's dad owned a small knitting mill in Shakeytown which was cool until Alvin got into high school when it became The Establishment, that nonetheless paid for Alvin's very fine Stanford education.  He hung out, did not get drafted (that's the pacifist part), expanded his mind with the help of various pharmaceuticals and was BFFs with Cesar Chavez, Fidel Castro and Ralph Nader.  In that order.  He tried to join the Black Panthers but was quietly overlooked even after he said he could get them a very good deal on berets.  Saying Berkeley was too uptight, Alvin and some other lonely guys visionaries established a "college" in a 22-room house in Monterey, CA.  Little is known about the academics or the football team, but dorm life was reportedly, "Bangin."  Unending, gymnastic sex lost its luster and the founding fathers took their Masters in STDs and split. 
Broke, Alvin became an opportunist.  Not a capitalist pig, really. Thinking to make a quick buck by selling some of his father's excess sweaters so he'd be better positioned to do anarchy right, he made the sweaters about 2" longer, called them mini dresses and sold the lot in like an afternoon for twice as much.  Alvin and his wife (oh man, proliferating diningroom sets) opened a shop in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood and soon he was a very successful capitalist, no matter how hard he tried not to be, and was besieged by young beautiful women digging his thing (as in, the thing he was doing).  This anarchist could not buy a break.
But he did stick to his hippie principles. By 1970, he'd built a $5M annual grossing business and had 250 employees to whom he offered profit sharing,  fringe benefits (which may or may not have involved weed in the company lounge) and compensation well above the going rate.  He also hired some fresh out of school designers -- Cathy Hardwick and Betsey Johnson.   I feel like Betsey Johnson practically signed my Duskin with that lace-up back.
Alvin has been an activist his whole life, fighting high-rise buildings in San Francisco (the earthquakes were strictly coincidental) and more recently championing energy and climate change issues.  He was still activisting as of 2009.

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