13 July 2014

Until Next Year

Not as good as it was -- Better than it will be

09 July 2014

Shagging in the Past

You've said that you regarded respectability as one of the
prime enemies of individualism.  Do you regard love as 
an enemy of individualism?

No, no --  What's love got to do with respectability?

I posted this video in April of 2012 with Al Green's lyrics.  Seems appropriate to repost today.

I remember heading down to Myrtle Beach for a long weekend with two cars of Army buddies when I was stationed at Ft Bragg.  I was 20 and wound up dancing with a frosted blonde in her forties. She had long pink nails and held a Schlitz 'Tall Boy' in one hand and an Eve cigarette in the other. She taught me how to shag.

The past is never dead. It's not even past.  William Faulkner

08 July 2014

Is Turkey Red Too Red?

Back in the early 19th century, Turkey Reds, aka Adrianople Reds, were a madder based dye with Turkish origins. These patterns were only printed much later by an Alsatian who solved the problem of over printing on the intense color.

I'm way out of my comfort margin here but I love the patterns and if anything ever said, "Go to Hell," or worse, it's Turkey Red. I'm not a 100% on this but I'm thinking about it. With a black velvet dinner jacket at a New Year's party… I might. Would you?

03 July 2014

01 July 2014

"I'm Gonna Die…" Part II

"A Dangerous Place"

"I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die…" went through my head as I sat in the tub while the scuba diver's battery powered legs flapped away.  Suddenly no interest in scuba.  Intently focused on footsteps approaching door.  A Door opens -- shoulders involuntarily hunch up at the anticipation of being popped from behind. But I'm not popped.  He puts the toilet seat down opposite the tub, sits and leans toward me -- Almost like he's begging.

"We live in a dangerous place," he says.   "And today you were in a very dangerous part of where we live.  We don't want you to get hurt.

Everything says I made it.  No killing.  No chewing out.  Nothing.  I'm home free. He leaves and I happily go back to the scuba diver.  And so it became my protection.  Not the scuba diver.  Thinking the worse will happen.  Think it, and it will NOT happen.

I'm not gonna pass 2nd grade.

I'm not gonna get a new bike.

We're not gonna go camping.

My parachute is not going to open.

She's pregnant.

I'm gonna get a DUI

Most of the time it worked.  I still do it --  I still think I'm gonna die.

Dirty White Bucks

Purchased in 1984

They were partly a middle finger to the college establishment who instructed males that graduation dress would be white shirt, dark trousers with black shoes and black robes.  I wore a pink shirt, white duck trousers, pink argyle socks and these shoes … 30 years ago.

They were resoled in 1996 and haven't been touched since.  The brand is lost to the ages but the wear is honest.  30 Summers and never a season more.  That's not so much a rule as a personal code -- It's the same reason I wouldn't intentionally 'distress' them or anything else I own.

Sometimes it's hard being honest... but a man's shoes should never have to lie.

30 June 2014

"I'm Gonna Die…" Part I

Same bike at Ft Bragg - Post Beatles - Sans Peace Symbol

The first bicycle appeared in the garage of our quarters on Ft Sill. Red with white trim,  it had what might be termed today, "a hipster aesthetic" in that it was clunky, void of all frills and extremely utilitarian.  Which is to say, in 1962, it sucked.  What it did offer, on an army post,  was freedom and an extended range.

I was found on the business side of an artillery range by the MPs with a friend who showed the way. We were walking around mostly desert with tumble weeds when we saw a large unexploded round circled by white engineer tape.  And another and another. 

Even at seven,  I was thinking we might be in over our heads and was secretly relieved when the MPs showed up -- After a brief and friendly interrogation I would have the time of my short life riding home in an open jeep with the wind blowing through my pre-Beatles crew cut.  My mother could only say, "Wait until your father gets home" over and over.   

There is a unwritten law for military brats and it's this, "Whatever you do is a direct reflection on your father and his career.  Drugs, black market, shop lifting in the PX, wearing long hair & peace symbols…the list goes on.  This law eases up when living off post but when then neighbors see you being driven up to your home in a MP jeep…there's not much room to hide.  

I was in the tub playing with a battery powered scuba diver when I heard the front door open.  Until I heard the door, I was a blissful million miles away in a seven-year-old attention span.  The scuba diver in the tub.  The monkey banging cymbals in my head.  All of it came to a dead stop when the door opened and I knew…without any doubt, I was going to die.  

29 June 2014

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch, 2004

Merde, time flies.

19 June 2014

Turning Lemons Into Friends

One of the things I like about Arthur is the distance he's managed to travel so far off the reservation. Unashamedly original, Arthur Lhermitte is the owner of Striiiipes, a small on-line shop in Paris.  I've written about Arthur before and I believe he stands on the firmest ground when it comes to matters of taste - without being pretentious - while being just a little crazy. No small feat. Unlike the Chinese who have very small feet. Why is that?

This pocket square (I rarely wear pocket squares, or tie bars, or dental floss around my wrists) is one of three (Pico, Tonic & Peps) echoing vintage fruit wrappers back when fruit was important enough to be have a wrapper of its own. It's a voile-like silk perfect for Summer. So light it almost seems to fly away in the pocket.

Perfect for an unlined blazer of hopsack or a linen jacket and open collared shirt. It would make a great gift when someone least expects it. Not for father's day or a birthday but just because… Give one to an old friend you recently pissed off. That's the title of the post, you know; "Turning Lemons Into Friends." Life's too short to hold a grudge that can be gotten rid of for a lousy 36 Euros. Although, I may not have enough to buy for the Chinese.

08 June 2014

Ska Sunday

Sundays are my SkaDays. Missing Words by The Selectors. Under the radar but a sone cold classic. It went well with a Bloody Mary, side bacon sandwich and packet of Silk Cuts -- Purple or yellow depending on the size of hangover.

05 June 2014

Who's Hotter?

Trad Pinup, Mary Louise Drysdale, Interior Designer and Antiques Expert, 9/2000

A Life ago, my Ex and I came close to buying an antiques shop.  And while I don't suggest, "On the Job Training" in antiques, it was what we were about to do.  A warning sign came a year later from the infamous dealer, Tom Devenish who, when I asked, "What's new," replied, "That fucking Pembroke table in the corner."  Innocently, we began by taking a week long American antiques course at Winterthur.

On the second or third day, folks in the class were getting comfortable and questions for the instructors increased.  Most were not general but personal, "I have this 18th century toile …" sort of thing.  About this same time the marriage was not going well.  My wife and I constantly argued and she suggested that my interests were in younger 20-ish women.

The Ex was making the 'younger woman' point in class when an older woman, well into her forties and sitting next to an even older woman in her fifties, raised her hand.  They were both wearing needlepoint slippers, khakis and button downs.  A frosted blonde bob topped the hand raiser who asked,  "What would the humidity in Palm Beach do to the veneer of a Chippendale tiger wood mahogany chest?"  As the instructor answered, I leaned to my wife and whispered,  "That's the kind of woman you should worry about."

02 June 2014

Beautiful Bullshit

The French Foreign Legion, 1984, photographed by John Robert Young

I heard the platoon from my back yard.  40 men in white t-shirts, green fatigue pants and bloused black boots.  It was 1965 and I was eight years old.  I raced from my yard and caught up just as they turned left onto Sunchon Street in the Ft Bragg housing area called Hammond Hills.  I ran behind the platoon for a block or so before there was a sudden down pour.  The platoon sergeant lead the men under an empty carport, barked an order I didn't understand and everyone relaxed and lit up cigarettes.

I was mostly ignored as Zippos snapped around me.   One young black soldier smiled and I smiled back.  He lit a cigarette and stuffed the bright green pack of Salems back in his trouser pocket.  I don't remember talking.  Him or me.  But I see him clearly in my memory.  Tall, he was built like a "V" with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.

The rain let up and the run continued.  I ran behind my friend for a while but saw the border of Hammond Hills, shouted goodbye and veered off towards home.   I'll never forget that day or that soldier or the feeling I belonged… safe in the platoon.  I see it in my mind as a black and white photo on high contrast paper.  The black of the boots and bright white t-shirts…all in four straight lines.  My home... running away from me.  Ten years later I'd enlist.

01 June 2014

30 May 2014

Jan Michael Vincent Returns

When I worked on Ellis Island, I had about 12 guys who were union movers reporting to me. They were making four times what I was making as a GS-4 and there was this one guy who was the laziest motherfucker I had ever seen. I've seen worse since then. Oddly enough, in NYC as well but I don't think PR has unionized yet...

We all ate lunch together, wherever on the island we might be, and I told this guy, while eating my can of tuna fish,  he was what we called in the Army a "Buddy Fucker," since he wasn't carrying his weight… which was significant. I'd have added he could lose some weight by only eating a can of tuna fish at lunch but he was furious and all six foot three and 300 odd pounds of him stood up and said, "No fucking Yuppie (this was 1985) calls me a Buddy Fucker."

I stood up and said, "Yuppie?! I make $12,600 a year." His face went from anger to pity in a half second and he said, "Shit man, I thought you were a big deal around here. Hey, if you want, I can get you in the union." And then he said, "You look just like that mother fucker Hawk on Airwolfe." So, I had that going for me. Although, Jan Michael Vincent's Twitter shows him doing far better than I am...

26 May 2014

Don't Lose the Dignity of the Day

Photographer Unknown  US Air Force  ARVN Jump over Tay Ninh Province 

Denim & Supply - Ralph Lauren

SP/4 Salvador Romero 151st Infantry LRRP

Denim & Supply - Ralph Lauren

Photo by Mark Jury:  Fire Support Base Wood

Denim & Supply - Ralph Lauren

US Army Photo: Capt.  Gerald Devlin, 44th ARVN Ranger Bn.

Denim & Supply - Ralph Lauren

Marine Corps Photographer Sgt. David E. Weimer

Cheapen uniforms of those who served and died by the uneducable and characterless who dress up as a soldier one day and a cowboy the next.

25 May 2014

Car Sales in the Army

Rightly or wrong, whenever I hear "…the VA," I cringe.  I entered the Army in 1976 for a four year stint as an airborne infantryman but I was an Army Brat and familiar with war stories of servicemen I knew at the Ft Carson Sport Parachute Club.  Gordie, a jump master, had 1st degree burns from napalm and I still remember him telling me how they rebuilt his ears.  And there were already issues with Agent Orange.

My father told me early in my enlistment that, "…you don't waste lives like they were office supplies."  That makes a lot of sense to me and pretty much anyone who has ever heard it.  But….

The Army is a big place.  In big places, people do things they wouldn't normally do for the sake of the institution.  I have no doubt working at any VA hospital is a stressful and an altogether sad job.  But they're not getting shot at.   Neither was I.  Getting out in 1980, I just missed Panama and was happy I did.  I had no desire to take anyone's life.

I did jump from airplanes, flip over jeeps, fall off a tank twice and came very close to shooting my squad leader who zagged when he should have zigged into my firing lane.  Twenty years ago I had a problem with my lower back.  I was x-rayed and the doc asked if I was a gymnast in high school or college due to repeated impact at L4/L5.  "I'm not gay,"I said.  The Doc laughed and I added, "I jumped out of planes for four years.  Could that have something to do with it?"

That doesn't bother me.  Mostly because I'm lucky and have decent health insurance.  I could afford to avoid the VA.  What has bothered me was the "Used Car Salesmanship" the Army and a doctor displayed during my ETS (termination of service) physical.  During a hearing test, "raise your finger when you hear the ping" the administrator looked at me and frowned, jotting down the numbers you see that were later crossed out by the doctor.  Oddly, a civilian.

The doctor tells me the hearing test results are wrong because, most likely,  the machine is screwed up.  I ask what that means.  The doctor, who looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a lab coat, creaks back in his chair and tells me my only option is to extend my service a week until the machine is fixed. I tell him I'm getting out the next day.  He tells me it's up to me.  So, numbers are changed and my only exception to my health, "My hearing" is scratched out.

Looking back, I was a kid hot to leave Army. I was not hanging around Bragg for another hearing test.    How's my hearing?  Ask anyone who knows me.  It's not Agent Orange but this Memorial Day Weekend, I often reflect on the history of using men, and today women,  like they were office supplies.  I've talked more than one kid outta joining.  In the end, I usually sum it up, "No matter what the Army says, they don't give a shit about you. If you're okay with that -- You're good to go."

24 May 2014

"How We Used to Live"

"Whenever you go down the roads in Britain, you travel not in three dimensions but in four.  The fourth dimension is the past.  And as we move to and fro in this fourth dimension,  we see not only landscape, but the economic, political and social forces at work behind the landscape…shaping it…forever changing it, but leaving, here and there, the record and the mark.

The interesting thing about the use of images is that they're often drawn up of something in the past.  Some experience which stimulates a strong emotional response.  There's life everywhere and the tracks we make are shared and crossed by the paths of others…who know this world better than we do." 

From,  "How We Used To Live." A documentary by the band Saint Etienne and film maker Paul Kelly.  It premiered last October in London but haven't seen it available in the UK, much less the US.  It's a beautiful trailer that speaks to those who came before us and how they are still with us... in that fourth dimension.

"I'll Have Peach"

You don't see the peach colored shirt as much anymore and that's a shame --  Loads of color will  go with it and it's an elegant way to ride off the reservation… on an Appaloosa …backwards. That and it's my favorite home made ice cream flavor. Larry Miller tells my favorite story about peach.  I know it doesn't look like much -- But, like peach, I think it'll surprise you.

23 May 2014

Is Smoke Bomb Hill Kosher?

From Left: A couple A team sergeants and Dad on far right

Smoke Bomb Hill and Hammond Hills (click image to enlarge)

I remember him walking home. At eight, I was in my Hammond Hills bedroom researching an MG-TC. The Old Man was racing in the local SCCA club and I desperately wanted him to dump the Berkley with the chain driven motorcycle engine for a British Racing Green TC. For some reason, I look out my window and I see the swagger. More shoulder than hip - he had cocky written across his forehead.

The captain bars on his green beret glint from the sinking September sun. Starched jungle fatigues are cut at the waist with a web pistol belt. My Old Man is walking home from Smoke Bomb Hill with his XO who has less than seven months to live before drowning in the Son Toy River. Later that night, I'll fill an empty Budweiser bottle with water and wander out to the patio and stumble and weave in front of these two men who'll laugh their asses off.

10 years later I drank draft beers at the main post bowling alley with three of Dad's team sergeants from his tour in Vietnam. Two were still in Special Forces. The third had retired and spent most days sitting outside his trailer in Spring Lake, playing gospel music over a surplus PA system. The two sergeants told me how Dad used a Boy Scout wire saw to garrote VC. They laughed while the gospel lover just stared at me.

I was in the middle of zero month for the SF Qualification Course. Phase I at Camp McCall wouldn't start for another two weeks but I was happy fucking off on Smoke Bomb Hill. SF was a fairly loose group and I watched senior NCOs dry hump each other out in front of morning formations. There was so much dry humping in the Army that when I went back to college, still shitting army chow, I dry humped Roland Schumann who was bending over an ice box looking for a pint of chocolate milk. He turned and looked at me with this unmitigated terror in his eyes... and I realized he didn't get it. Neither did the 300 or so other students watching from the dining room.

Back in the Army, I knew I wasn't going to make it through Special Forces training. One of the few times I've accurately predicted anything. Of my class of 88, only three would get a green beret and they were all second term NCOs. The washout was so great, I was told my class was the last to allow anyone under E-5. But knowing I didn't have a prayer took a whole lot of pressure off and I Ghosted, disappearing to avoid details, whenever I could.

Another formation, more dry humping and names of the 85 "No-Go" are read. The 1st Sergeant repeats, "82nd Repo" over and over and over…until XVIII Airborne Corps goes to an PFC infantryman. Everyone looks at this bastard and wonders whose dick he's sucking. I'm wondering what the fuck an infantryman does at a corps headquarters and as I ponder the thought, my name gets closer and closer and the first sergeant, who's fond of saying to the formation, "You, in the green pants and black boots, come here," says my name and XVIII Airborne Corps. And everyone looks at me and wonders…

To this day, I still do. Before my father died a couple years ago I asked him for the umpteenth time, "Was it you? It had to have been you." He sucks on a cupped cigarette, inhales and blows out a pin stream of smoke and tightly wrapped words, "That wouldn't have been kosher."

19 May 2014

Sarah's Soundtrack

Second from Left

This post was from 2-2-2011 and reminds me of my mother's great love of  Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  In this way, you can get an idea of what she was like at a party...

A few days after my father returned from Vietnam in 1967, I remember watching the first Herb Alpert TV special with the family. My mother was a huge fan of Herb & the TJB and it was at her insistence we tuned in. I'm pretty sure I was missing Get Smart.

When Herb appeared my father let out a snort and called him a 'fruit cake.' I remember asking what 'fruit cake' meant and my question was answered with, "Never mind." My father guffawed through pretty much the whole show and watching these videos I can see why. He had just come back from a tour of Vietnam -- Watching this must have been bizarre.

But I was never in a war and Herb isn't a fruit cake and I really enjoy this video and the memories. It might even be better than Get Smart.

For Sarah & Nilla Wafers: 1935-2014

Hampton, VA 1975

Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico 1953 (Dad, 5th from left - Mom, far right)

Huntersville, NC 1972

San Juan, PR 1954

Sarah and Mark Tinseth, 1970

She did not allow her children to say anything to anyone about her lung cancer. A heavy smoker, she quit only five yrs ago.

My sisters and I were surprised to see how alike my parents, divorced for many years, were when it came to their final wishes. Cremation. No ceremony or service. I'm not sure whether they didn't want to put anyone out or just didn't care.

Mom did not like my blog and I don't blame her. It cost me a lot and regretful sacrifices were made. She wouldn't be happy about this post,  but some maternal relatives follow this blog and so these pictures are for you. They remind me of that kitchen table at the farm where you'd lift a piece of table cloth and find corn bread, country ham, red eye gravy and my favorite, Nilla Wafer banana pudding.