Friday, December 18, 2009


Call it an ego thing, but I have flagged the Google search engine to send me an email with a link every time my name, Gerald Andersen, appears somewhere on the internet.

This would not work if your name was John Smith as you would be inundated with emails. Oddly, there seem to be very few other Gerald Andersens kicking around out there. An actor goes by that name, and often I get references to him. Mostly what I get is mentions of me. A lot of it is older stuff from my working days at the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association and Neckwear Association of America. Why I would be suddenly notified of an article that appeared in 2006, I really can’t say, but they come in at a fairly regular rate.

Today I got one that kind of spooked me, and impressed me in a way. It was a letter to the editor that I wrote to the New York Times in 1989. The letter was published and is apparently enshrined on their web site, since the link I got from Google took me there. I wonder how it got there. I believe in 1989 the internet was still a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye. So someone at the Times must have taken the time and trouble to scan it. Do you suppose they actually scan every line of type that has ever appeared all the way back to God knows when? Why it popped up now on Google alert is also a mystery.

I prefer to believe they only preserve the best of the best. The letter was actually pretty good and was written in response to a Times article or op ed, I don’t recall which, bashing neckties. My members took “anti-tie” rhetoric seriously and expected me to respond. I would have done so anyway since I have always loved neckties. I still do.

My members loved it. For years some them displayed it framed on their office walls.
I am glad, according to an article in the Times last week, that ties are making a comeback with the younger generation. That is a good thing.

Here is my 1989 letter to the editor that is permanently enshrined in the Time archive at least until the lights go out or they run out of band width:

To the Editor:

Why does something as seemingly mundane as a necktie get loaded with so much symbolic baggage? Through the years, ties have been seen as symbols of genteel birth, social rank, coming of age, blind following of tradition and, of course, male sexuality. In the 1960's, the tie was the symbol of the Establishment (negative). In the 80's, it represents power and financial success (positive).

Efforts have even been made to link trends in the economy to neckwear fashion. Do ties really get wider when the stock market is booming?

Greg Spring now equates neckties with the big lie (''A Diploma, a Tie and a Lie,'' Op-Ed, Sept. 19). He equates them with all of the currying and toadying to which one must stoop to make one's way in the world. We, of course, see the tie as the symbol of truth, justice and the American way.

No one inflicts all of this philosophy on shoes, shirts, hats or belts. Why neckties? Because there is an air of mystery and romance to neckties. They do not cover one's nakedness or add warmth on a blustery day. They definitely are not practical, nor are they particularly modern.

They are a link to the misty past when a knight strapped on his colors before setting forth to meet the world.

They are banners that proclaim just about any range of mood, emotion, or socioeconomic message that the wearer wishes to admit, or the viewer wishes to interpret. They are a celebration of color, beauty and tradition in an otherwise drab and rootless world.

Symbolism is attached to ties, because their function is largely symbolic. However, like beauty, symbolism is in the eye of the beholder: One man's big lie is another man's great tie. GERALD ANDERSEN Executive Director Neckwear Association of America New York, Sept. 19, 1989

Makes me want to go out and buy a Christmas necktie.

1 comment:

Mary Lois said...

Great letter! This reminds me--I had a letter to the editor of the Times Sunday Magazine published back in about 1986. Think I'll go Google myself!