Wunderbreakers

Ahmadinejad WindbreakerFor some time now I’ve been seriously impressed with the jacket worn by the prez of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Pretty much immediately after he took office I began to pay attention to, and chronicle, the photos of him wearing it. At first I thought that the jacket — a comfy, practical, khaki number — was being worn during the election as a way to seem more like a man o’ the peops, and that after he’d secured his position his regalia would evolve into some sort of proto-Maoist-dashiki job. But it didn’t. He continued to wear it, and so my brain chronicle reported to me that the jacket (hereafter referred to as The Jacket) was, in fact, some sort of signature of some kind, or something. Also, perhaps The Jacket contained the essense of Ahmadinejad. It was something to think about.

Then in January, Newsweek came out with a report that blathered on about the styles of certain leaders, citing Ahmadinejad as a member of the new breed of leader who is “doing his utmost to keep it real,” via down-to-earth, i.e. khaki, styles.

Soon after, I found other stories discussing how the jacket — whose unofficial brand name is Ahmadinejad Windbreaker (hereafter referred to as Ahmadinejad Windbreaker) — is selling like hotcakes in the bazaars of both south and central Tehran.

The Salesmen say that by wearing the jacket one’s business in governmental bureaus and organizations is handled more courteously and efficiently.

I responded to this news by attempting to purchase one of these jackets for my own closet.

Backing up a bit: my favorite jacket that I own and wear is a dull gold jacket. But mine’s a bit more Han Solo than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It also kind of has a motor oil stain on the back, because I accidentally dropped it in some motor oil. And let’s face it: the Ahmadinejad Windbreaker looks comfortable, is sort of stylish (in an “I’m not obsessed with style but I don’t want to look like a slob” kinda way), and is really cheap ($5!). So I thought the Ahmadinejad Windbreaker would work on me.

But it turns out that neither Amazon nor Froogle were selling the Ahmadinejad Windbreaker. Yeah, I had seriously figured that if it’s being sold in the bazaars of Iran, then it’s also being sold on th’ ‘net. But, no dice. I’m a dope. So I resigned to be patient and wait for the Ahmadinejad Windbreaker to make it over to America’s bazaars.

CBS - 60 MinutesFast forward, and then rewind a bit, to last Sunday. I was pleased to see Ahmadinejad sporting the jacket in his interview with retired 60 Minutes reporter, Mike Wallace. The interview provided me with a good 20 minutes to just stare at it; to stare and try to understand the awesome appeal of this seemingly simple jacket. And that’s pretty much the only substance that the interview had to offer. Wallace should have remained in retirement. It was an awful interview — Wallace showed absolutely no subtlety, nor the skill to open a dialog that would lead to an interesting and revealing discussion. I suppose I watch too much NewsHour, where the interviews are not just headbutting matches…

Most of Wallace’s questions ran along the line of, “So why do you want to destroy Israel?!” “Why do you want to build a bomb and destroy the West?!” “Answer the question! Don’t give me an explanation, just tell me your answer now!” Way to waste this opportunity, Wallace.

I found myself focusing on their postures. Ahmadinejad was relaxed–sort of slouching; hands resting on his lap, and when he gestured with them he kept his palms up and open; legs slightly apart; jacket on; even tone of voice. In stark contrast, Wallace was leaning forward, pointing with his hands, leaning back and folding his arms across his chest whenever Ahmadinejad was speaking, and he seemed highly agitated. The exchange was pretty worthless; Wallace seemed too intent on blurting out the questions that he imagined America would want him to ask, rather than cultivating a discussion through a discursive approach.

Ahmadinejad was clearly the less fatigable of the two. And I’ll be so bold as to type that some of that composure could possibly be directly attributed to the Windbreaker.

Unsurprisingly, the high point of the interview revolved around the Ahmadinejad Windbreaker. Here’s the exchange, as pasted from cbsnews (note: I’ve inserted my own comments in bold italics):

After Ahmadinejad answered the question, an assistant handed the president a note. Asked what he was telling him, (Wallace asked this by blurting out, “An aide just handed you a piece of paper with a note on it! What does the note say!” — no exaggeration) Ahmadinejad said he had been told to rearrange his jacket.

“Why are they worried about your jacket? I think you look just fine,” Wallace said, laughing.

“That is right. They have told me the same thing. They tell me that it’s a very nice looking coat,” Ahmadinejad replied. (Wallace then repeated that he thinks Ahmadinejad looks hot.)

Asked if he is a vain man, Ahmadinejad said, “Sometimes appearances — yes, you have to look your back (Typo!)… that is why I comb my hair.”

Basically, if anyone knows someone who knows someone who knows how to smuggle the windbreakers into the US, shoot me a comment. And for posterity, I should add that my minor obsession with this jacket by no means implies a hatred of America. I’m just honest enough to acknowledge smart fashion when I see it.

6 thoughts on “Wunderbreakers

  1. i have always been a fan of the nehru jacket.
    mahmood’s jacket looks simliar to eisenhower’s flight jacket that is still popular.

  2. i’m pretty sure The Jacket is of the “Members Only” type from around 1986–or some earlier date. In fact, i’d be willing to bet on it.

    at least, that’s what i concluded after finding myself increasingly concerned with The Jacket.

    good luck with your search.

  3. I was always unclear about the definition of Members Only jacket. I figured it was sort of a catch-all name for a range of styles. I also figured that they were usually shiny jackets — like, made out of vinyl or something.

    After image searching the phrase, it seems that my hazy definition is still correct. There appear to be lots of different styles that have the label. But I mean, you still could be right that Mahmoud’s jacket is also of that style. But knowing that doesn’t totally narrow things down. The name’s been adopted by so many styles that I’m having trouble finding the O.J. (Original Jacket). though I’ve only been looking for five minutes…

    There are members only leather jackets, racer jackets, windbreakers…

    I think one of the things that led to the label being slapped on all kinds of jackets is that it’s a funny label. “Hey, is that a Members Only?” “Nice Members Only.” and etc. all sound like funny things to say, and especially so because many hip people right now are busy floundering for some type of quasi-80s look. Members Only–the company–made different jackets, although wikipedia only mentions that they differed in color, not style.

    So I might take you up on that bet, but I haven’t decided yet. First I have to be sure that I’d win. In any case, thanks for the info! At least I now have a better search term to use when tracking this down.

  4. I am still trying to find one. This is not a Members Only Jacket, it is made in China and is (or was) available for between $8 and $20 in Tehran. Surely, somebody must know where to find one.

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