October 18, 2010

"What Is Your American Dream?"

We were walking up State Street yesterday, when we were very politely accosted by this young man who was trying to get people to write their answer to that question in his little spiral notebook.


Meade accepted the challenge, and that gave me the opportunity to ask if I could take the man's photograph. I said I was especially interested in the subject of men in skirts, and he agreed to be photographed and introduced me to the term Utilikilt. There was some talk about its usefulness to, for example, a carpenter.


I observed that it would be a useful defense against plumber's crack (since the back isn't attached to the front beneath the legs, so there's no downward pull when you crouch), and he made the less subtle point that it wasn't good if you had to use a ladder.

Having finished writing in the notebook, Meade asked him how other people had answered the question, and the man — his name is Aaron Heideman — explained his project, which was to travel all over the country — hitchhiking — and find out the different ways people would answer. Some people went for abstractions and some for personal accomplishments or possessions. He gave me his card, his consent to blog his pictures, and his willingness to receive traffic to his blog: americandreamorbust.com.

As we walked away, I asked Meade what he wrote. He said: "To live in freedom."


Clyde said...

I dunno, if you're gonna wear a kilt, it ought to be plaid. I don't pick up hitch-hikers anyway on general principles of risk avoidance, but I certainly wouldn't pick up a man wearing a skirt! It would seem to me that if someone is trying to thumb a ride, he'd want to give off a vibe of normalcy.

Unknown said...

So, do you like men in skirts better than men in shorts?

PS You have a very wise husband, Mrs Meade, he knows what's important.

traditionalguy said...

Tune up the Audi. Meade wants to be on the road again...this time to Freedom, Wyoming. The grant a wish foundation says it will pay for the gas. Seriously, that was universally good answer.

chickelit said...

Meade said: "To live in freedom"

Freiheit ist Meine
Slogan of the 48ers, German immigrants who helped settle Wisconsin.

Synova said...

Meade is poetic and awesome.

1775OGG said...

Hurrah for Meade, he'll keep Althouse on the true path!

Plus, anyone who wears a kilt, should wear it commando style.

Other than that, the Ladies from Hell were mighty fierce lads.


Harry said...

People still hitch-hike around the country? I hitch-hiked cross country twice in the early 1970s, but I never see hitch-hikers anymore.

I sure hope he doesn't wear the skirt on the road, or his idealism may soon be crushed.

Meade's wish is good, but I bet there are a lot of really dumb ones in that notebook.

Sprezzatura said...

Coincidently I drove by utili-headquarters/flagship today.

I have a friend who likes to wear his comando style. He combines the kilt w/ giant combat boots and a pink shirt that says 'real men wear pink.' And, he likes to drop a little metal bar w/ balls on its ends into folks' hands. And then, he asks them if they can guess where that piercing came from. [Hint: Favre recently photographed this body part.]

When he's not doing this sort of thing he's protecting the country at the FBI.

sunsong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred4Pres said...

What is your American dream?

Althouse: The end of shorts, not through government censorship, but through a general sense of shorts being wrong.

Kilts are just shorts without a crotch. Better but they still have to go.

sunsong said...

Sorry about that - if you happened to see it.

Lem said...

Great answer Meade.

GMay said...

I wonder how many people put "Home ownership".

I get so tired of hearing "The American Dream of Home Ownership™" as an excuse for lending to people who have no business taking out a mortgage.

Peter Hoh said...

Updated Teddy Roosevelt: Walk softly and carry a lot of stuff in your skirt.

BJM said...

Our neighbor's burly, pony-tailed son wears man skirts...it's kinda scary.

That is one exceptionally fine man you got there Althouse.

Sprezzatura said...

If Meade had filled this out a year and change ago he would have had two dreams.

But, now that he's married to Althouse, his only outstanding American dream is to overcome the real life nightmare which is the unbearable oppression of his government. Keep dreaming Meade, someday you may live in freedom.

Poor Meade.

And poor the rest of you who don't live in freedom. Hopefully, you find comfort in knowing that you are not the first Americans to live w/o freedom. Like them, you too may be emancipated some day. You "have a dream."

chickelit said...

GMay how are you doing superscript? I've tried before to do super and subscript in comments but it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Althouse. The hitchhiker, Aaron Heideman, has an interesting blog. [I think] he wants to be a writer and he's on the right track. Searching for a subject not unlike Jack Kerouac.

Anonymous said...


As to the question, when do dreams expire?

Chip Ahoy said...

El Pollo, view source. Not superscript.

& quot;

tags fore and aft (no space, course.)

Robert said...

Utilikilts are made in Seattle. The closer to Capitol Hill and Fremont neighborhoods one goes, the more frequently they are spotted.

They look pretty comfortable and actually pretty useful if one is out and about on a piece of land, hauling trees and such. I thought about getting a pair but as a former competitive cyclist I still shave my legs, and the combination of the two, well......you know.....

Anonymous said...

It's been a few days since I've visited Althouse. How nice it is to come here and find such a delightful post at the very top! It's got everything: a man in a kilt, a wisdom-filled notebook, an Althouse + Meade adventure, a toast to freedom presented as the punchline.

Should I read on? Scroll down? I'm thinking no... nah... this post was so pleasant to experience that I don't want to spoil it. There'll probably be some crazy and discouraging political shit down there in the blogdepths. No, no... I'm all good now. B-ye!

Gabriel Hanna said...

Pioneer Square in Seattle has a Utilikilt store. May be the only one. They sell t-shirts advertising their kilts, and I see people wearing them, but I never see people wearing the kilts.

blake said...

Perhaps an odd things to say at the Althouse (Meadehouse?) but 1jpb's comment struck me in very poor taste.

wv: deutor

What you have to take when the way is bolcked.

BJM said...


It struck me that way too; mean, and uncouth.

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BJM said...

El Pollo,

It's Unicode, not html, if you're on a PC try the character map; i.e. ™ © §...etc.

I haven't used a Mac in ages but I recall that Character Palette accesses extended font characters. Macsters?

Chip Ahoy said...

Isn't Blogger's spam filter a wonderful thing? How did the hat Brille thing with all the links get by? The filters on my blogs tends to error on the side of caution. It's gotta be frustrating for a spammer to have all their posts eaten. That makes me laugh.

Gabriel Hanna said...

How did the hat Brille thing with all the links get by?

Machines have learned pattern recognition. It's just a matter of time before Skynet orders full committal.

rhhardin said...

Arbitrary makes free.

jungatheart said...

He made the less subtle point? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

""The American Dream of Home Ownership™"

The American dream of home ownership is a crooked politician's dream.

Now that you're stuck with a house you can't sell, then they can tax you into oblivion and you can't escape them.

Have you looked at your home's annual tax bill. Has your home's valuation been reduced by your local tax authority? No, no it hasn't.

They're still taxing you as if your house was worth what it was in 2007.

Barney Frank wants you in a home because he knows it's a prison cell from which he can shake you down when you bend over for the soap.

GMay said...

EPR asked: "GMay how are you doing superscript?"

I'm just holding down 'alt' while I enter the code for the symbol. If I could figure out strikethrough here, it would be gold!

Freeman Hunt said...

I like the guy's blog. Project sounds fun.

Opus One Media said...

ahhh meade.."to live in freedom"...

one nation under a dubious tea bag ya' betcha~

Paco Wové said...

I can only assume pbj's dream is to someday be able to properly comprehend simple statements in the English language.

Chris said...

Great composition in the photo, Althouse. The white iPod earbuds really pop. This seems important.

Bob_R said...

A pretty standard carpenter's uniform for framing houses in the summer sun is cut off shorts and a leather apron (essentially half of a Utilikilt). Of course, back in the 70's the old guys would still wear long pants even in the most brutal weather. Standards, you know.

AllenS said...

What a stupid outfit. Wearing shorts during the summer while doing construction is one thing, but can you imagine cutting a piece of wood on a sawhorse with a skill saw and having a wind gust? I swear, the amount of people who have any common sense is slowly disappearing because of the lack of individuals doing any physical labor in their life. Go ahead, try using a chainsaw while wearing a long loose fitting skirt and see what happens.

KCFleming said...

My current American dream is that my college educated children find full time employment at greater than minimum wage.

Crazy, I know, but still, a guy can daydream.

My daughter had a recent 'interview' in which she worked for free for six hours, 'to see how she'd fit in'.

KCFleming said...

Oh, and cute skirt.

Anonymous said...

I haven't commented on this site for some time, because it's become boring as hell.

This posting, however, provokes me to once again state my august opinion.

My Great American Dream is this: I dream about the day when everybody shuts the fuck up about their fucking political opinions.

When this site dies from lack of interest and zero comments, I will rejoice in the fruition of my dream.

When Ann ceases posting her political opinions and shuts the fuck up, the great day of atonement will finally have arrived.

So, help me achieve my Great American Dream.

Shut the fuck up!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by, the way, I elaborate upon my Great American Dream today at:


Now, shut the fuck up!

I mean it.

AllenS said...

Tom the Shouter, do you wear a skirt?

Anonymous said...


You are fucking up my American Dream!

Please, can I make this any clearer?


Everybody, find something better to do. Beat off! Hang yourselves! Learn a foreign language.

But, please, I really mean this:


And, I will now show you how to do this:

I will not shut the fuck up!

Anonymous said...


Goodbye! Good riddance!

I will now: SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Please, do us all a favor, and SHUT THE FUCK UP!

AllenS said...

Tom the Shouter, do you wear a skirt?

AllenS said...

Tom the Shouter, do you wear a skirt?

Tank said...

Althouse married a libertarian.

Who knew?

KCFleming said...

What is it with the trolls again?

Ritmo says he's going to leave a "trail of turds" on every post, and Tom the shoutster wants the blog to have no commenters.

I don't get it.
Why show up repeatedly at a place you clearly detest?

campy said...

Why show up repeatedly at a place you clearly detest?

For pay? Only reason I can imagine.

jr565 said...

Meade wants to live in freedom yet he got married?! Doesn't he know that he's going to be carrying around a ball and chain till death do him part?

Just kidding, that's a good answer and I'm not really that negative towards marriage. They make take our lives, as william Wallace would say, but they'll never take OUR FREEDOM!!

AllenS said...

What Is Your American Dream

I would like to fight in one more war, but I don't want to go overseas to fight it. -- AllenS

Anonymous said...

" To live in freedom."

Certainly cuts through all blather, doesn't it?

The left can't grasp it.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Mr Utili-kilt looks like a Hippie, why didn't you punch him, Meadhouse?

You could have stood over him screaming, "THIS is my American Dream, dead hippies cowering in their own blood, on the ground!"

That'd be a blog posting....

AllenS, you could have your war, at home, if you took up hippie punching...just a suggestion.

Finally Shouting Thomas, is a post-modern humourist, right? STFU shouted IS humour, not a sign of derangement or stoopitity...

MadisonMan said...

My American Dream is to be happy. That's not very American. Could I be happy and not free? Not sure, never tried it.

Failure at happiness this morning. One teen couldn't find something. Oh the calamity. Of course, it's MY fault. :)

Clyde said...

And the man seems a bit eccentric, albeit in an adventure-seeking way, but he doesn't hold a candle to Jimmy McMillan, the New York gubernatorial candidate of "The Rent Is 2 Damn High Party." Now THAT is some righteous facial hair!

Paddy O said...

Very Braveheartian appropriate answer, Meade.

WV: pressbc

I would, but I can't find the bc button. This blog security is getting more and more confusing.

chickelit said...

Meade makes the French saying Liberté, égalité, fraternité sound like that old engineer's saw about picking any two (at the expense of the third).

Anonymous said...


And that's not even the half of it.

Shanna said...

He should wear different shoes with that skirt.

former law student said...

Which particular bonds of oppression are chafing the Meadster?

I think he might feel better if he gave up all claims to the state's bounty, living apart from the professor in a wilderness cabin, built of trees he felled with his own axes and crosscut saw. They can still get together of course, each paying their own way.

KCFleming said...

Perhaps true, fls, if The Law permitted any of it, which it doesn't, including foregoing health care, which is now a duty of citizenry, and declared 'Constitutional' because we breathe in and out.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

I love FLS’ false dichotomy…either live in WI/the US today or live in a cabin in the woods. One must have an UAW-GM bailout, ruinous fast rail and light rail schemes, Cap n’Trade and Green Jobs boondoggles or else one ahs nothing. Really, so the people of Ohio or WI were not “free” until 2008, FLS? Neither were EVER Slave States, so you don’t even get that rhetorical refuge. The people of Ohio and WI weren’t free in 1840, 1940, or 1980? Only NOW they’re free?

You want it to seem that what exists TODAY is “Freedom” and what went before was not. How is that so? Please explain, use examples, and demonstrate that today’s freedom is superior to yesterday’s freedom. Show how the folks living in Lincoln’s Ohio were not free, or how the people of WI under T. Roosevelt, were not free.

One does not need the Welfare State to be free; neither does a rejection of the Welfare State mean rejection of the State. Certainly the Founders were not Anarcho-Capitalists. They acknowledged a role for the Federal Government AND State Governments. A smaller “State” does not mean NO State, but if that’s what you want to think of your philosophic opponents, please drive on. Your ignorance will be your undoing…please consult Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions If you wish to support the political science version of “phlogiston” feel free, but a refusal to understand the nature of the paradigm shift approaching can prove intellectually fatal. If you wish to be the Left’s Robert Taft, feel free…but expect it to get pretty lonely over there.

Big Mike said...

Good answer by Meade. I was going to suggest that you consider joining the faculty of the Dartmouth law school (state motto: "Live Free or Die") but apparently Dartmouth doesn't have one.

Ah well, winters in Wisconsin are bad enough. And Wisconsin has a better football team.

former law student said...

I was going to follow up Big Mike's suggestion with the thought that the professor apply for work at the independent Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, but they have recently chained themselves to the State, and are now the UNH School of Law.

Escaping the snares of government is so hard these days.

Sixty Grit said...

Shanna for the win!

WV: reppare - reppare thee to thine chamber and donneth socks.

Robert Cook said...

"I get so tired of hearing "The American Dream of Home Ownership™" as an excuse for lending to people who have no business taking out a mortgage."

What does this statement even mean?

Those lending to people who were poor mortgage risks were not doing so for any other reason than to rip them off and leave them--and us--holding the bag.

They succeeded quite smashingly in their criminal scheme and made billions in their thieving.

Unknown said...

Seriously? Am I the only person who reads both Althouse and The Oatmeal?


Robert Cook said...

The hosannas here in response to Meade's answer--"To live in freedom"--make my brain ache, given the Hallmark card banality of the sentiment...it's as if the clouds parted to reveal God, who spake...only to say "Have a nice day."

GMay said...

Robert Cook missed a couple of newsdays:"Those lending to people who were poor mortgage risks were not doing so for any other reason than to rip them off and leave them--and us--holding the bag.

They succeeded quite smashingly in their criminal scheme and made billions in their thieving."

Not very familiar with the CRA or all those banks that went belly up eh? Hard to make billions when your institution tanks.

Robert Cook said...

Don't worry, GMay...those were the smallfry...winnowed out by the market. The big boys on Wall Street are doing quite well. You wouldn't say the Mafia has been defeated if a few soldiers are gunned down but the dons are still living handsomely on Staten Island.

lonetown said...

I assume that is the beta model?

Kirby Olson said...

I always like to read about Meade.

Unfortunately, he is my diet guru, and I've gained back five pounds. It isn't his fault.

Michelle Obama is also gaining weight.

Or gravity.

I had hoped to attain Meade's levity. But there was a sickness, then a root canal, and I couldn't stay on track, but am beginning to think about it again.

yashu said...

It's a compelling project. Reminds me a bit of David Lynch's Interview Project (haven't watched too many of these, but I've been moved & charmed by those I've seen).

I think the key to doing a project like this is to try to approach every one of your subjects-- each a distinct unique human life in medias res, a self making some fragmented sense of itself-- without contempt. But rather try to summon and maintain something more like wonder and compassion… at the recognizable, unfathomable other. (I think the best photography requires something like this too.)

ken in tx said...

I checked out the guy's website and verified my guess that he is from Ecutopia on the upper left coast. They are very popular there. I have a nephew who lives in Washington state. He wares these things. He is a normal guy, an architect, getting married, to a woman.

ken in tx said...

P.S He also rides in a nude bike rally once a year. It's a different part of America.

Sixty Grit said...

He "wares" them, is normal and rides his bike nude.

Somehow all of that just doesn't work together.

Tari said...

AMEN, Meade.

jungatheart said...

Shanna, you thinking maybe a combat boot look?

GMay said...

Robert Cook assured: "Don't worry, GMay"

I won't Bobby.

Just like you didn't worry about mentioning the CRA. Smart move.

Meade said...

Thanks to those who took the time to comment on my comment. Obviously (to some), I took the question not as "what is MY American Dream" but as "what is my idea of THE American Dream."

My hope and wish FOR Americans is that fewer and fewer take for granted our sacred rights and liberties or consider the idea of living in freedom to be banal, trite, or somehow unworthy of expressing.

former law student said...

Good explanation, Meade.

I was heavily influenced by "The Impossible Dream" in my youth. "Living the Dream" is a different take.

JAL said...

Ahhh Meade.

A good man, Professor.