Puttin’ On The Ritz

170 kya. It’s fancy dress day on Logarithmic History. Between 170 and 80 thousand years ago, people started wearing clothes. We know this from recent genetic studies showing that sometime during that period, probably closer to 170 kya, pubic lice and body (clothing) lice diverged into two separate species. This is before modern humans left Africa, so it probably means clothing was not just about protection from high latitude winters. (There’s an even earlier split, three million years ago, between head lice and pubic lice, that probably means human ancestors had lost their fur. And there’s another story about the ancestors of East Asians picking up a different strain of head lice from non-sapiens humans that we’ll cover later.)

Lice are not just disgusting, but dangerous. On later dates, we’ll have occasion to see how louse-borne diseases like typhus have affected the course of history. But for now let’s forget about lice, and celebrate clothing, with Irving Berlin’s song about fancy duds, “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” covered below by a Moscow flashmob.

Have you seen the well-to-do, up and down Park Avenue

On that famous thoroughfare, with their noses in the air

High hats and Arrow collars, white spats and lots of dollars

Spending every dime, for a wonderful time

If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to

Why don’t you go where fashion sits,

Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Different types who wear a daycoat, pants with stripes

And cut away coat, perfect fits,

Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper

Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)

Come let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks

Or umbrellas in their mitts

Puttin’ on the Ritz



One thought on “Puttin’ On The Ritz

  1. ardentgardner

    Hurrah for the Sparrow Hills, the most beautiful place in Moscow! (The location of the flashmob/wedding party)



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