I can already hear the reader asking his/her/itself "If ALL traces were lost, then how exactly did this editor dude find a trace of it?" Please don't ask yourself (or me) such a silly question. Asking such silly questions just makes you sound like a person who likes to ask silly questions with no regard to reality, such as a sociologist (or Noam Chomsky). Of course, by saying all trace was lost, I am merely using my unalienable right as an editor-in-chief (and militia leader) to make editorial content more interesting by creatively interpreting the mundane as sensational. Yes, you could call me a liar, but then I would call you a sociologist and everyone's feelings would be hurt so let's just forget all the mean-spirited name calling and get on with me telling you the brilliant method I used to discover the existence of the long lost SpecAnth.
It all started this summer when I was taking a class in French at the University of Nevada, Reno. As everyone who has ever attended the University of Nevada knows, the humanities building, one of the oldest buildings on campus, was once the agriculture science building. The important thing about this little factoid is that in the basement of Frandzen Humanities (formerly Frandzen Agriculture) there are seemingly inexplicable metal grates in the floor. These grates only become explicable once one learns that the basement was originally the place where the agriculture folks euthanized and defleshed animals. The grates are there to cover a large pit into which the icky stuff no one wanted to touch, namely those things which constitute what we now call 'hot dogs', was drained. However, after 1975, when the ritualistic slaughter of literature instructors was prohibited by oppressive administrators who never had to sit in desks older than any building at the university and listen to literature instructors drone on about suffering poets who, while no doubt miserable souls in their own way, had at least been blessed in that they had never sat through an hour and a half class on English literature in a desk with 2 inch deep grooves on top and only one nail and a piece of wire keeping it from collapsing in a heap on the cold, hard floor of a basement where cute little calves had once been turned into veal, there has been no use for the grates or the dark, foul pit they cover save to dispose of embarrassing documents or to hide out in when it is time to go to French class.
Anyway, to make a long story short, one day this summer I was on my way to French class when I 'accidentally' found my way into the pit beneath Frandzen Humanities. It was a hot day and the pit turned out to be a worse place to be than French class, so I decided to bite the bullet and hide out in the library basement instead, which had the advantage of being air conditioned but the disadvantage of being full of students who might tell my instructor I had been hiding out there. On my way out of the pit, I tripped over a stack of old, damp, rotting journals. That is not the brilliant part of my discovery. The brilliant part is that instead of going on to the library, or worse case scenario, to French class, I stopped to read the title of the journal on top of the stack. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was called Speculative Anthropologist. Enthralled with the heady excitement of discovery, and perhaps under the influence of the fumes surrounding me in the pit, I searched through the many years worth of discarded journals, paperwork, and remnants of literature instructors until I found over 100 issues of SpecAnth from as long ago as 1862, the year the SpecAnth moved from New York to Virginia City, Nevada in order to escape accusations that SpecAnth, like its New Orleans based sister publication, Speculative Grammarian, was pro-confederate.
The publisher and managing editor of SpecAnth at that time, Louis Strauss, brother of famed American anthropologist and 'waist overalls' magnate, Levi 'Claude' Strauss, was a staunch unionist and decided that the only way to escape accusations that SpecAnth was as much a tool of the slave-holding Southrons as SpecGram was to completely sunder the relationship between the two journals (a relationship which had stretched back to the first issue of SpecAnth, then called Speculative Grave Robber, Relic Seeker, and Plunderer, which had been published at the end of the 13th century when many folks returning from the last of the Crusades brought a lot of cool stuff home and started writing about how cool it was and how much fun it had been to acquire it). So, he packed up the archives of SpecAnth, left no forwarding address, and headed out to San Francisco to live with his brother. On the way to San Francisco, he stopped in Virginia City where he fell in with a young newspaper man named Samuel Langhorne Clemens and never made it to San Francisco. Clemens, a notorious carouser, liar, and amateur anthropologist soon corrupted Louis Strauss and became the de facto editor of SpecAnth from late 1862 to 1864, the year Louis Strauss and the entire pre 1862 collection of SpecAnths mysteriously disappeared after the failure of a joint venture with Clemens in the short lived EmptyShaft Mine Company. Clemens, accused of a variety of crimes in Virginia City, fled to San Francisco where he told Levi 'Claude' Strauss that his brother was missing and that SpecAnth was lacking a publisher and an editor. Levi 'Claude' Strauss offered Clemens the editorship, but Clemens, who had at this point changed his name to Mark Twain in order to avoid prosecution, turned the offer down, gave Levi 'Claude' Strauss a stack of Speculative Anthropologists, and vanished into the slums of San Francisco.
SpecAnth was not published again until 1890, the year that the first '501' Levi's blue jeans were made (Levi 'Claude' Strauss had by this time quite sensibly decided that 'waist overalls' was a very silly name for his product so decided to use the number '501' to designate his riveted denim pants. His partner, and inventor of the riveting process, Jacob 'I love rivets' Davis said that '501' was sillier than 'waist overalls' and proposed to call them blue jeans instead. Strauss, who had never figured out how to work the riveter--like many academics, modern technology made no sense to him--had to compromise and call them '501' blue jeans). After the first run of '501', especially a batch that had accidentally fallen in the creek and been pounded with rocks, sold out in just a few hours, Levi 'Claude' Strauss decided he could leave his company in the capable hands of Davis and concentrate on his anthropological work, which often concentrated on textile use, especially denim.
In 1897, Levi 'Claude' Strauss grew tired of publishing SpecAnth and tried to donate it to the University of California, Berkeley, along with 28 scholarships. The University of California gratefully took the money for the scholarships but graciously turned down SpecAnth, saying that it was an affront to serious scholarly work, citing the fact that from 1849 to 1857, Lewis Henry Morgan had been elected as managing editor of SpecAnth (called Speculative Looter at that time) and for his entire tenure refused to serve as editor, denied he was the editor and even went so far as to say that "Speculative Looter is the ultimate proof that man starts in base savagery. It is a bestial journal with almost no redeeming value to civilized man."
Failing to give away SpecAnth to the University of California, Levi 'Claude' Strauss instead gave it to the University of Nevada which was searching for a scholarly tradition, any scholarly tradition, even a bestial one. Strauss, whose blue jeans empire was growing rapidly, left scholarly work entirely so that he might run his company after Jacob Davis died in a tragic riveting accident (Levi commented in his farewell message in SpecAnth that he had gotten the last laugh on all those people who had found it funny that he, a famous scholar and captain of industry, could not figure out how to work the riveting machine. As he writes "If I had wanted to, I could have worked that infernal contraption as well as Jacob, but I always knew it was a killer. I warned him many times, but he just snorted and told me I was a technophobe. As usual, in the end I was right. I wish I had never let him talk me out of naming my pants '501s'. Some day that name will be huge. Mark my words.") It would be another 50 years before the SpecAnth helm was once again manned by a Strauss but the 'denim link' was always present in at least one article of every issue no matter who was the editor. (From 1907 to 1957 there were several editors of SpecAnth, but they were all anthropologists at the University of Nevada and none are worth mentioning in the space I have.)
In 1957, Claude Lévi-Strauss, a distant cousin, and a kind of famous anthropologist in his own right, came to San Francisco to tour the Strauss factory. Being French, he decided the entire concept of jeans made of denim and riveted together was revolting, but he nonetheless found it fascinating and would spend much of the remainder of his life writing about the use of rivets and denim in various cultures around the world. He edited SpecAnth, which, despite the fact he never set food in Nevada, continued to be published by the University of Nevada, from 1957 to 1965 when he turned over the editorship to William Lee Jordache.
William Lee Jordache took the 'denim link' established by Levi 'Claude' Strauss and amplified by Claude Lévi-Strauss to new heights under his editorship. By the time he stepped down as editor in 1965, all articles printed in SpecAnth had to be on the use of denim and/or rivets in various cultures, mention denim in relation to a culture, or be submitted by anthropologists who always wore denim pants in the field.
Robert B. Lee and his wife, Leigh Strauss-Lee took over editorship from Jordache becoming the first co-editors in the history of SpecAnth, at least that is what they said, but since they didn't have any more of the history than I do (although, I admit that they were probably not trying to read through a thick covering of mildew like I had to do) I don't see how they would know that for sure. They blindly followed Jordache's editorial policy and maintained the strict 'denim link' until they decided they hated people, moved to Fallon, Nevada and started carrying around AK-47s in 1973.
J.C. 'Plain Pockets' Penny took over the editorial chores of SpecAnth from 1973 until his mysterious disappearance in the South Pacific in 1978. He was hot on the track of a Polynesian culture which had developed denim pants with a riveted construction independent of western influence. Since this fit the 'Rivet Destiny' hypothesis of Claude Lévi-Strauss, which said that all advanced cultures would develop a means of riveting denim in order to make strong, albeit hideous, pants, Penny at once set out in search of these people. What was especially exciting for Penny was that, if the rumors were true, this culture was using sea shells for the riveting, a heretofore unheard of practice. Tragically though, Penny's plane was lost somewhere in the Pacific. All that was ever found was a pair of his characteristic 'plain pocket' blue jeans. After his presumed death, one last issue of SpecAnth was published, a memorial tribute to J.C. 'Plain Pockets' Penny, the last managing editor of Speculative Anthropologist.
Wow. I intended to just tell you all how I brilliantly discovered the existence of Speculative Anthropologist. I must apologize for slipping into a lecture on the (known) history of the SpecAnth. It is all just so darn fascinating!
I was planning to outline the editorial future of SpecAnth, but I guess I don't have the space for it now. Oh well. Maybe next time. Until then I will just announce that SpecAnth will begin accepting submissions in the Fall of 1998. There are only two fixed requirements concerning submissions: 1) Your paper must in some way be seen as dealing with one of the branches of anthropology. 2) Each article printed must at least mention blue jeans or denim or rivets at least once. Long live the 'denim link'!!!!!
J.P. 'Relaxed Fit' Newell
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Speculative Anthropologist