The (Inclusive) Tables Down At Mory’s

November 30, 2010

Yale University is unique among top colleges, and even among other Ivies, in that it boasts a private club on campus. Well, not completely unique: Dartmouth College fully owns and operates the Hanover Country Club, membership in which is open to Dartmouth students.

But Yale really has something special in Mory’s: a private club in New Haven, right on York Street, catering to (and offering) the exclusivity and pedigreed stratification of a social structure which grew out of the same university responsible for Skull & Bones.

Mory’s came into being one evening after crew practice in New Haven: a group of oarsmen from Yale’s Class of 1863 found an unpretentious ale house at 103 Wooster Street, between Franklin and Bowery, and stopped in for a drink. The rowers found themselves served and entertained by Frank Moriarty, proprietor of the tavern “whose hospitality and dignity belied its dingy surroundings.”

After temporarily closing due to financial difficulties in 2008, the newly opened Mory's is trying to be more inclusive as it seeks to expand its membership.

Word spread, and Mr. Moriarty’s pub gained in popularity at a steady clip: soon, he had all the Yale business he could handle. He died in 1876 and his wife – known locally as The Widow – moved the business to Temple Street, and into more aristocratic lodging. When The Widow died, her longtime manager Edward G. Oakley took over and immediately gave every undergraduate $20.00 worth of credit at the newly christened Temple Bar. As students neared their limit, Mr. Oakley would gently remind them of their debt and thereafter accept only cash from that customer. He never dunned any man beyond that gentle reminder and nobody ever asked to have his limit extended; in ten years, Mr. Oakley lost only $25.00 in that system.

In 1912, The Mory’s Association was formed to ensure the longevity of the bar. The Association began issuing shares of the venture to Yalies and, eventually, converted the shareholding membership into a private club. The Association bought a new house for the club and many of the old bar’s original furnishings and fittings were bustled into the new property and installed there: windows and door casings, wainscoting, the entire front entrance, tables, chairs, and fireplace mantels.

The club fell on hard times in 2008 and shut its doors temporarily; the Association raised money for a grand re-opening and renovation and, in the midst of it, secured financing by loosening membership requirements in a bid for a greater dues-paying base. And it worked: membership among undergraduates is nearly 2,000 now, 75% of the club’s goal. Christopher Getman, president of the Mory’s Council, couldn’t be more pleased. His administration’s goal of increasing inclusivity by relaxing membership requirements has seen the to club prosperous times, and Mory’s financial footing, if not its original character, is solid again.

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Authenticity, Faked

May 17, 2010

With narrow exception, the fashion web logs out there, especially those inclined to advise, are worthless. To be fair, some aren’t bad (and some of those which aren’t, or are less bad than the rest, are linked to herein). Few of them lurch across the line into “good” and none of them demonstrate anything beyond a passing familiarity with the English language. Than is usually then, or vice-versa; there are lots of words spent on “The Ivy League Look,” very few on the places where that look grew up: schools which would be ashamed to have turned out most of these bloggers.

The style bloggers are enamored of what they call sprezzatura, an idea of affected nonchalance. They love the concept in parts nearly equal to their disdain of grammar. Think of rumpled shirt-collars, ties tied so that the back-end (the “blade”) hangs down as far as, or more than, the front, and working buttonholes left unbuttoned on jackets. That’s the idea: “I’m too stylish to care about style, so these casual mistakes are actually indicative of my sophistication… I’m so fashionable that I’m above caring whether I’m fashionable or not, and that makes me even more hip.”

This is obviously stupid, but alerting the sartorial blogosphere won’t do any good. Those people have enough trouble on their hands already, sounding out words in their heads as they write.

So we’ll leave this between us, you and your editorial staff, and we’ll do our best to lay it out quickly. If you make an effort to outfit yourself in a way that looks like it didn’t require effort, and go so far as to prove your lack of effort by making the additional effort to introduce into that outfit some small foible like unbuttoned shirt cuffs, you’re not too fashionable to care about being fashionable: you’re a fraud.

What’s worse, you’re an obvious fraud because no man who cares enough to spend $500 on his necktie would not care enough to tie it properly. So the improperly tied tie must be done that way on purpose, we all know, and since we all know, you’re not fooling anybody but yourself. You’re the trust fund brat who eschews “Capitalist materialism” to travel the world and find his poetic soul in Amsterdam but doesn’t mind, or get, the irony of undertaking the soul-searching on his parents’ dime. Again… a fraud.

A few come by their artful slovenliness honestly: they’ve been wearing ties and blazers since prep school and reach for the repp so absentmindedly that the way it’s tied really is honestly absent-minded; those guys aren’t the type on the fashion blogs. And if you’ve spent $2,000 on a sport coat with functional buttonholes so you can leave one artfully unbuttoned, you’re not one of them. Don’t pretend you are.

Chuck Bass: too cool to care?