01 June 2013

Square One

When I first became aware of the furor surrounding the "outing" of the man known as "Richard" from the blog "WASP 101" by Christian Chensvold of Ivy Style, my immediate gut reaction was to sit back and keep my mouth shut about it. I found the whole thing to be childish and unseemly on all sides. But I will readily admit to being drawn into all the gossip (because really, that's what this is), and the longer it drew on the more upsetting I found the whole thing, enough so that I now feel compelled to address it here. If you've had enough of all this the last few days, and perish the thought of reading more about it, then simply don't. Before I begin let me remind you that we all have the free will not read anything we find objectionable, silly, stupid, or whatever else.

I'm not going to address WASP 101 directly, or offer my opinion on it. "Richard" has long been the  whipping boy of whatever nerdy menswear "scene" a small handful of us have created via blogs and alter egos these past few years. So many people found him odious and foolish, and yet he persisted, in no small part because people kept reading. I will not tell you what I thought of it, because it simply doesn't matter.

And then there is Ivy Style, a site regarded by many as some kind of quasi-encyclopedia of what a 23 year old rich boy wore and liked in 1963, or something. I'm not going to offer my opinion of that site either. Again, it doesn't matter. Another favorite, but again only among our own goofy little clique.

They say there was some kind of "feud" or "rivalry" between these two for years. What I saw was a somewhat clueless fellow making an easy target of himself, and another fellow willing to step in and bully him about it. Bullies like easy targets. They either run and don't fight back, or worse, fight back ineptly and in doing so only add logs to the fire. While "Richard" could have exercised more tact in leaving well (or bad) enough alone, Chensvold could have done the same. Blame, for what real crime I'm still unsure, can be laid on both sides, but there is a big difference between blissful stupidity and obsessive and vindictive behavior. Chensvold seems happy to hide behind a wall of "journalistic integrity", but that somehow never stopped him from taking periodic potshots at a very, very easy target. Making fun of people for the amusement of others and a boost in traffic doesn't sound like any kind of journalistic integrity or code of ethics I know. It sounds childish and quite low to me.

So much has been said about whether a person who writes a blog has the same rights to privacy as anyone else. I agree that once something hits the big ole internet, it inherently becomes public, and that no one can expect full anonymity while publicly writing and posting photos for the whole world to see. Clearly, anyone seeking full privacy would do well to stay away  from any active role in the internet. I won't speak to the legal issues surrounding this. And then there's this altogether too involved discussion of what effect this will have on the career of a state rep. from a rural district in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, no one seems to care except our little nerdy community....because it simply doesn't matter to most people. Mountains from mole hills, boys.

Maybe you found WASP 101 to be vapid and misguided. That seems to be the popular opinion. In that case, don't read it. Maybe "Richard" could have used his head a little (lot) better in all this, but that's not my problem. What really stinks here is the stalking, obsession and sheer amount of time and effort someone has put into "taking down" a small beans politico who happens to have been the author of a silly blog. Seriously, its out of hand. Had we all stopped reading "Richard" he might have gone away quietly anyway. Now, with all that's happened, the whole "online menswear community" (gross, did I just say that?) looks like a bunch of petty geeks and nerds with little better to do than gawk at their laptops nitpicking the activities of complete strangers.

I've enjoyed clothing my whole life, and spent most of it struggling against negative response from the world at large for it. In the last few years, the few of us who care about this almost managed to be "cool", for a minute anyway. Not that I ever really cared what anyone else had to say about it, but it was nice to be on the other side of the coin for a while. Things like this throw that all out the window, and make us look like resentful nerds, and drives us straight back to square one. I find the ongoing attack far more distasteful and pointless than anything "Richard" ever wrote.

Thanks, Chensvold. Good job. You really made your point.

p.s. Ivy Style has been removed from the blogroll. I will publish all comments that come in for this post, but come Monday the matter is closed. Until then, speak your minds. We need to put this behind us, because it really is a waste of everyone's time. No one cares but us, and continuing to carry on about it makes us all look bad.

p.p.s Also, what he said.


Boston Bean said...


One really should take sides in this matter, and, clearly, Christian deserved your support. As a loyal reader of your blog, and a believer in honesty, I was disappointed by your reaction.

Mongrel said...

What a remarkably embarrassing saga all around.

To be sure, the Wasp101 fellow seems to be a creepy, self-important misogynist. It's unfortunate that Chensvold has shown himself to be equally classless.

Golf Tango Hoyel said...


Very well said....and thank you for saying it.

Anonymous said...

I thought your reaction was spot on, Giuseppe. You made some excellent points. Mongrel, I agree with you, too.

It's very sad, indeed, that someone appeared to aspire to be something he was not, and equally distressing that someone hated him for it, and was determined to take him out (or out him).

Anonymous said...

... And the winner is....



Jimmy Frost Mellor / 'Russell Street'.

Lion d'Or said...

We deserve to know everything about our elected officials.

CoastingThroughTheSouth said...

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you standing up for Yankee Whisky Papa. I admire your and his clearly drawn this-far-and-no-farther line. You and Max and Toad and YWP are where I go learn stuff, laugh and weep. That's quite a trick to be able write as beautifully as the four of you do, freely deliver/decipher arcane knowledge, make readers well up with tears, burst out with guffaws, quite a trick indeed. I thoroughly understand his bowing out, but I am going to miss that voice. Again, good of you to stand with YWP.


Anonymous said...

I agree mostly. But one difference between your blog and Wasp101 is, you and other good bloggers showcase what you like and consider and accept criticism, you do not preach or stoop to engage in petty online fights (which Richard seemed to enjoy for the attention).

Also, if you make your living in the public eye and want anonymity, why would you show yourself (other than facial feature), your home, your wife, your dog, etc.?

It just seems like if you want anonymity, you need to either keep things relatively non-contraversial, or not blend your personal life and image. Or at least present things as satire, humor, etc.

I am not sure what exposing him accomplishes, but the whole thing is weird.

Anonymous said...

I just find it sad that grown men can act like that. We all have a common bond and we don't need to attack each other over petty things. I feel bad for WASP, almost like the little kid in the school yard that just got beat up. I enjoyed both blogs for different reasons. This is all ridiculous. What is the point. That is just MHO


Anonymous said...

Either you try to act like a gentleman, or you're just playing dress-up--a child in costume. Ivy Style's behavior suggests the latter.

Foxtrot said...

It seems that both men provide a lesson in "safe blogging," each with its own negative side effect. It is similar to receiving a lesson in safe sex, with one friend winding up with a baby and the other with the clap.

WASP 101 exemplifies the notion (both online and off) that if you antagonize people, they will be out to get you. This is nothing new. Decades of drug/Mafia films are built around this concept. Is it ethical for people to hunt down WASP 101? Perhaps not. That doesn't change the fact that it could be embarassing/politically awkward when he was finally outed. In other words, even if it is "unethical" for Michael Corleone to have you whacked, you're still dead at the end of the day.

As for CC, I never really got why Richard bothered him so much. Everyone knew that Dick was a rube and probably a fake, of the same caliber as AAW persona non grata Admiral Cod. Ivy Style, meanwhile, was becoming respected as an actual journalistic outlet. It got CC several good writing gigs, guest posts from none other than Richard Press and(I believe) G. Bruce Boyer, and personal contact with the powers that be at some pretty cool clothing companies. Best of all, CC had caught the ultimate blogger's white whale- HE WAS ACTUALLY MAKING MONEY off of this folderol. Why he would have an interest in being sucked into childish intrigue like this over the identity of some nobody is beyond me.

Oh yeah, and it's 2013- we are all "poseurs" (a word that makes me wretch). We ran out of original ideas sixty years ago.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that "Richard" was Chensvold's alter ego and that all this dueling was his way of creating traffic for Ivy Style. With any battle there is always pride envy and love at the core of it. Hug it out boys!

Dirt said...

I wonder how all the women in Richard's universe would feel about the fact that he knowingly posted a blog piece telling women how to dress appropriately for a man? If I were Richard's wife, I'd kick him squarely in the nuts. If he personally devalues women this much, I wonder how that manifests itself in his legislation?

Richard was a first-class turd hiding behind anonymity on the Internet. The minute his name was linked to the Blog, the Blog disappeared. Apparently, he wasn't proud enough of his work to embrace it in the light of day.

Roger v.d. Velde said...

Chensvold is a twit. His blogs are an embarrassment of personal passions posing as a general history of (parts of) menswear.

I didn't even follow the 'Richard' saga, I just wanted to say how much of a pompous, self-appointed twit Chensvold is.

Nathanael said...

Thanks for you comments on the matter, Mr. G, and for generally keeping your blog away from such childishness. Your blog and that of your nemesis are the only clothing blogs I check every day, as despite your differences, neither of you seems particularly interested in screaming "I'm better than you" into the internet ether over and over again. Far too much of the rest of the #menswear world of internet gentlemen reminds me of snotty Jr. High kids.

Anonymous said...

G, you and YWP are spot on. It just made me feel so "blah" to read the whole sordid affair. CC published it as though it was his "Watergate". In the end, both "Richard" and CC have shown their duchebag credentials.

Anonymous said...

Clothes don't make the man.

Anonymous said...

It played out as expected.



Mongrel said...

" Lion d'Or said...

We deserve to know everything about our elected officials.

June 2, 2013 at 8:00 AM"

I agree and disagree; or, rather, I agree, but it doesn't mean that Chensvold & co. were justified in their behavior. Their hunt for "Richard" wasn't due to his electoral status or the public's interest. That was just a coincidence. It's a coincidence that can serve to justify the disclosure but can't provide a moral explanation for the initial pursuit. It's as if a burglar happened across a senator in bed with his mistress.

Certainly, "Richard" is a ****ing disgusting sexist, classist, self-obsessed sort of character, and as a voter I'd certainly like to know such things - though as a GOP state legislator I imagine he was elected because of, rather than in spite of, such qualities.

At the same time, however, I have the distinct impression that his most heated foes were motivated less by those failings and more by his lack of dress sense and his pretensions to an old money WASP heritage. Quite a few of the most aggressive are the same sort of disgusting white-supremacist Ivy-fetish ****offs that attack our host. "Richard" was attacked by people who are every bit as racist, classist, and misogynist as he is, simply because he happened to have poor aesthetic judgement and too many pheasants on his blog design.

That can't help but leave a bad taste in my mouth. In some ways it's worse - "Richard" is trashy and ignorant and sexist, but at least it's without active ill will towards another.

"Richard" can go take a long walk off a short pier, but Chensvold can go right behind him. Neither man is a gentleman.

Unknown said...

Here, here to reasoned debate. I love the blogs that will help build and grow rather than abuse and destroy. Well said Guiseppe.

mwikali said...

as a North Carolinian, I admit to being fascinated by this story. The fact that this guy is a part of one of the most radical conservative legislatures in the county while simultaneously putting on this WASP-y, slightly misogynistic and weird facade online is just perfect.

brandon sargent said...

thank you for saying aloud what I had been thinking.

Chens said...

Punk rocker sides with bible-thumping GOP politician over jazz-loving hepcat he's actually shared a drink with, citing a dystopian future affecting his own penchant for peacockery: "Things like this... make us look like resentful nerds, and drives us straight back to square one."

Joe said...

Punk rocker sides against spiteful and vindictive behavior, regardless of who the target is.

I'm sorry, Chens. You're behaving like a mean spirited clod. This is not journalism, you are not busting some big scandal wide open, you are merely making an ass of yourself.

If I recall correctly, the very first post of Ivy Style included a pot shot linked to Richard. Does the phrase "this naif who defies description" ring a bell? As long as we're all being childish, shall someone shout "Mom, he started it!"

I'm not siding with anyone. You and "Richard" should both be nothing but ashamed of yourselves. We've come to expect this from him. You are the one who has proven to be a disappointment.

Joe said...

Button down collar, tweed, repp tie, flannel slacks, penny loafers. Remember?

Joe said...

Or would it have been more honorable to have spoken with you directly on the matter than to have just gone online with it? Stop digging the hole.

Chens said...

No doubt you've seen the Camel City Dispatch story. There will be much more to come. Thanks for pointing out that I smelled a rat since day one.

Joe said...

Nobody is arguing that fact.It's your behavior about it that I find upsetting.

Joe said...

With that, I close this discussion. I will not allow an argument to take place in the comments section. My email address is available for any and all readers right in the masthead if anyone really wishes to discuss this further.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog because of the content you provide, your willingness to try things that your readers suggest (letting readers send in pictures of their "finds"), and most importantly, your ability to allow for understanding that people can disagree so long as they agree to disagree and can move on without grudge.

Anyone who spends inordinate amounts of their time scouring the internet to bring someone down sends up a red flag...especially in regards to blogs about men's clothing?! Why? For what reason?

I read the so-called "Ivy clothing" blogs because it is the style of clothing that I am used to wearing since being a kid in the 1980's. But I never imagined being in my early 40's watching two 40ish (maybe younger, in "Richard's" case) battle it out over something that each said to one another. TRULY geeky in every since of the word!

So, I guess now that "Richard" has been "taken down", the nerdy universe of Ivy menswear blogs can feel safe again? Really, Chensvold?

Although I still read Ivy Style because of its historical content, I now feel somewhat of a lose of adult respect that I once had for Chensvold due to this childishness.

The idea is to hold one's self above it all so as not to stoop to the lowest level. That is what a true gentleman should do.

I've said my bit so now I am forgetting about it!

Thanks, "G"!

JS said...


You are a man after my own heart. This whole episode has shown those who call themselves men to be a perfect example of simpering, petty and vindictive assholery.

Chens finally revealed his character and class to be on par if not lower than his target, and I applaud you for saying as much.