Saturday, January 28, 2006

ANN ARBOR: A Jessica Coen Classic

GAWKER DOES MANY THINGS WELL. Nick Denton's flagship Manhattan-based gossip blog not only can dig up great pieces of dirt and spin them in such a delightfully skewering way, but its core -- its well-crafted writing -- is what carries the day, no thanks to Gawker’s skillful editors, Jessica Coen and Jesse Oxfeld.

ALTHOUGH JESSICA COEN AND I both went to the University of Michigan at the same time, we never knew each other. But when I heard that she went to Michigan, her name sounded vaguely familiar. So when I went back into the archives of The Michigan Daily, I uncovered a golden letter to the editor with her name attached to it. (I actually remember laughing as I threw her letter into the layout of the editorial page.) I've republished the letter below.

Even way back then, she was taking the main-stream media to task. But the Daily probably deserved it. It sounds like she was slamming an article that appeared in the traditionally lackluster Weekend, Etc. magazine ... now oddly renamed "The Statement" in honor of former Daily editor-turned-noted-60s-activist Tom Hayden and the Port Huron Statement. (I'm not too sure what that has to do with features and weekend entertainment in Ann Arbor.)

I always appreciate well-written, snarky letters to the editor. They're certainly much more entertaining than the norm.

Can a sorority girl, honor student wear Mavi Jeans?

To the Daily:

I would like to sincerely thank the Daily for widening the breadth of my educational experience here at the University, most recently through Caitlin Friedemann's riveting explanation of Mavi Jeans ("Mavi Jeans so many varieties," 2/12/01). While I often find myself informed by the few pieces of real news you offer, it was refreshing to see an entire article devoted to the most trivial yet important aspect of a student's life: Denim choices. I am sure many an inexperienced freshman has wandered into Bivouac, no doubt bewildered by the staggering fashion possibilities but thanks to Friedemann and the cunning decision by the Daily editors to actually print her article, trendy shopping has been made easy.

By weeding out the trivial jeans like Sutters and Diesels and providing an obsessive analysis of Mavis (the only jeans that matter), shoppers can exercise a detailed and anal-retentive knowledge of the brand and thus achieve a maximum level of mandatory Michigan style. And as Friedemann has pointed out, Mavis are indeed mandatory and run the entire spectrum of the student body, from those honors kids to the sorority girls two student groups who obviously have no possibility of having anything in common and are obviously at opposite ends of the earth.

While I am glad that these two groups have been set at odds with one another as part of your mission to define everything in terms of black and white, I am left feeling confused and empty. As a sorority girl and an honors student (a crossover? gasp!), am I thus restricted to Mavis? How can I make room in my life for Silver Jeans, whose Hipster Sly style flatters most figures with its fit-n-flare? Please help.

Jessica Coen

LSA junior


At 6:41 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Ha, I can't believe you found that! And, actually, the article was a weekday piece -- I totally (and sadly) remember being distracted from my mid-lecture crossword by a friend who made me read the damn thing. Thank you, Daily, for the memories.

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