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Shopping in Americaland

As is the case with discount stores generally, there is often a single item from one designer and dozens by another. At Warehouse W, the racks were fairly bursting with filmy blouses and embroidered jeans from an Italian company called Pinko that is well known in Europe but virtually unheard of here. Apparently, somebody at Pinko had the idea that soft raspberry-colored suede capri pants would be a good seller, and the firm made a multitude of capris, many of which are currently languishing at Warehouse W. They seem ready for a stroll on Job's Lane in Southampton, or the tonier reaches of Tribeca; at $110, they're just about the most expensive item in the store.

It's a mystery how Pinko got its funny name: Surely the company's owners do not mean to put shoppers in mind of the courageous people who stood up to the government during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings a half-century ago and were labeled as "pinkos" or "parlor pinks" by the right-wing press, to taint them by association with "Reds," or Communists. Thousands of careers were ruined by Senator Joe McCarthy and his HUAC henchmen; the Hollywood 10, a group of screenwriters who stood up to HUAC, were imprisoned and blacklisted for their defiance. Now those were people who could tell you about Americaland.

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