Yes, yes, this series is getting too long. I should realize that I am the only person in the world as interested in pockets as I am. However, with one more post we can bring it all up-to-date and cease (for now).
Bright and early in the 21st century, as the Banana Republic vest that I showed you earlier begin to die, I went on the Internet to see what was available when you searched “photojournalist’s vest.” I was delighted to discover a variety of options. A little searching, a little thinking, and I came up with a possible alternative to my old standby. And they ran about half or even one-third the price!
Several Internet sales sites featured vests that turned out to come from a manufacturer called Fox Outdoor and varied in price from $29-$45 (while the Banana Republic vests cost about $100). These even came in various colors, not just khaki (which is a color, younger generation, not a description or style!). Naturally, I went for the cheap end, choosing some cornily named Texas vendor (First Army?)—of probably deviously deep right-wing, gun-toting sympathies, as most of these outdoorsy joints are (and I am not exaggerating: I have shopped around in my PocketQuest where I was clearly unwelcome—that bullyingly violent, KKK-standard in-group exclusivity being one of the truly less endearing, omnipresent qualities of the neo-Right myrmidons of moral doom). However, being relatively anonymous on the internet, I ordered First Army’s photojournalist’s vest in gray. (Creating the link, I remember why they hadn’t gotten my business most recently—prices have hiked.)
I felt nervous about this Internet order, although I don’t know why I should have. Unlike my Banana Republic catalog days, I was looking at a photograph of the vest, not a drawing. The little JPEG from the website was nowhere near as clear as the catalog pictures from TravelSmith, but it still showed what I was after, and the description sounded a lot like a traditional photojournalist’s vest.
When it arrived, although the vest looked a bit olive-green to my eye (rather than true gray), Janet to the contrary to this day after many washings in the meantime, it was wonderful—just what I wanted. All the pockets were there, every one of them! It fit a little smaller (or shorter, really) than the Banana Republic version, but that actually made it feel more lightweight in the summertime. I wore it nonstop for five years, and it’s still in pretty good shape (the rear inside pocket has ripped out the “waterproof” lining long since, but that is the worst problem). I still wear it often.
Pretty quickly after getting that first one, I saved and followed up with two more—one in black and one in khaki. I was a little disappointed to discover that the pocket sizing had something to do with the dye batches, as both the black and khaki vests had various inadequacies in their smaller pockets (the three “shotgun-shell” pockets on the lower left and the pen pocket on the left bellows pocket above) so my Swiss Army knife no longer fit easily in place beside the highlighter and the Chapstick. But I adjusted.
And these babies are pretty sturdy. Both the black and original gray ones are still going (so is the khaki; I just don’t choose it as often). I wore the gray one pretty exclusively through 2006, keeping the black mostly for “dress” (Janet is writhing at that notion) until about 2004-05, since when it has become my everyday wear. I like the black (and the gray) because the colors seems less thoroughly geeky (I am wrong about that, I realize, but it’s how I feel). Both colors show wear, and for Prague I dragged out a stockpiled black vest I had bought since (summertime 2009) so I would look a little nicer. I still try to restrict the Prague vest for “good” although right now that newer one is the vest with the stuff actually stuffed into it (I must have thought I was dressing up sometime a while back, or at least decided to wash the older black one).
Thus, wherever I go, not only do I embarrass my wife (actually Janet has accustomed herself to my oddities pretty well for the most part) in public, but I can carry just about everything I want or should acquire while out and about. Pockets: they’re a splendid invention (and exploring that history might be the one last “pockets” post I have in me to present, especially since the Wikipedia article on the subject is so poor).
And that brings the history of pockets, with appropriate digressions and rants on the side, up to date. Tomorrow’s April Fool’s Day, and we shall have to see what I come up with for that holy day.