30 April 2008

More Brits

Doing what they do best. After work drinks where everyone gets tanked on White Tops followed by a late night Curry. It was after one of these nights of Curry I invented a new product. Butt sized chap stick. It should be sold in all Curry houses. Next to the cash register (till). One time use only. I could make a fortune in London.

26 April 2008


Look at these cheeky bastards, yeah. Right away the stripes give them away. Always have. That and the double breasted suit and the Hermes tie.

These are two gentlemen who work in the "city" with the uniform of banking or insurance. Double cuff shirts are never called French cuff and are preferred for work. Button down shirts are too informal for the city and usually frowned on. Plus, you can't wear them with a DB suit so what's the point, yeah?

The mixing of stripes is popular and the wilder the better. A good friend of mine was asked to leave Lloyd's of London for wearing a Khaki poplin suit. He was told that he wasn't on Safari and to go home and change.

Shoes are usually Monk Strap or Cap Toe with metal taps on the heels. It's a sound I love hearing on the sidewalks near Lime St. Socks are Marks and Sparks. And on POETS day (Piss Off Early Tommorow is Saturday), brokers spill out of the Lamb Pub in Leadenhall Market and take over the sidewalk drinking pints and smoking B&H Golds.

I love it and I love them. Have for some 22 years now. Nothing gives me more enjoyment than to wear a single breasted sack blazer with an oxford cloth button down, a Repp tie with flat front trousers and shell cordovan loafers. But, when in Rome, yeah?

22 April 2008

Trad Lunch

Fraunces Tavern is at Pearl and Broad down on Wall Street. I loved this place back in the '80s. The history first attracted me. Washington resigned his commission and said goodbye to his general staff here. The fireplace was always welcome on a cold night. Along with the giant bowl of soft Port Wine Cheese and a plate full of Ritz crackers at the end of the bar.

It was my favorite place to meet a date for drinks before heading uptown for dinner. Artifacts, mostly reproductions, were crammed into the place. The food wasn't that great then but the place had real soul. And dust.

I met management one night thanks to a date of mine. She was an FBI agent and while going to the bathroom her .38 fell out of her waist holster and into the toilet. Lucky for her this happened before. She fished the Smith & Wesson, I think it was the hammerless model ... I'm not sure, out of the toilet and since there were no paper towels, she unloaded it and with the cylinder open, placed the gun under the hand dryer. I think the dryer was manufactured by World Dryer, a future client of mine...I'm not sure.

At about this time I was in the harbor on a boat in one of the worse ice storms the city had seen in years. I was running an hour late....maybe an hour and a half...I'm not sure.

While Jean was drying her side arm another lady walked in. And while I'm not sure of this...I'm almost positive this woman had never been exposed to firearms. Certainly not one being held under a hand dryer in the bathroom of Fraunces Tavern. Which would explain why she screamed so loudly as she ran out.

My date, being the ever prepared agent, was ready for management when they stormed the ladies room by holding her credentials out at arms length in one hand and the .38 in the other - - still under the dryer. Management, some pretty big fellas...I do remember that, laughed and stood by the door until Mr Smith and Mr Wesson were dry.

Upon exiting the ladies, my date and management stood by the fireplace and laughed. This is where I came in ...seeing four big men standing around my date and laughing...I thought, "What in the hell...?" Which is when my date saw me and said loudly, "Where in the fuck have you been?" This caused some more laughs as well as one of my favorite phrases from management, "Drinks are on us."

Today, I come here to remember. Dates with FBI agents. George Washington saying a tearful goodbye to his Army. The fireplace. All good. But that was then.

It's pretty horrible now. Someone took all the reproductions and dust. It seems empty and cold. All the charm lost somewhere between then and now. I like to have lunch here alone and ponder what 23 years can do to a place...and to me.

16 April 2008

More Trad Dad

Since my earlier post about my father...and thanks to all who have expressed their concerns about his health...it has occured to me that I keep coming back to him. This is a photograph I grew up with. I was seven or eight when it was taken. This was before he finished the officer's Special Forces selection course. After which he was awarded a full flash (the patch on the beret) and sent off to Vietnam.

I remember when he left. We were at Pope AFB. He kissed my mother and sisters goodbye. He turned to me, pointed a finger at my chest and said, "You screw up once while I'm gone - - I'll come back here and kick your ass. You got that?" I nodded in the affirmative. He turned, threw his duffel bag on his shoulder and walked off to a waiting C130.

As a kid, I walked a fairly straight line. That is, I made every effort not to piss him off. Growing up on Army posts was somewhat unique in that a child's actions were a direct reflection on his father as well as his father's career. As I watch children today running loose in stores, kicking the back of my plane seat from Heathrow to O'Hare, demanding everything from their parents and most recently...video taping the beating of a fellow student...I am reminded of what it was like to grow up with this kind of father. Who could give you that kind of look. Thanks, Dad. If that ain't Trad - - I don't know what is.

The Trad Museum

Some things don't change and thank goodness the Met in NYC has kept this exhibit going. I first saw these guys in the mid 80s and damned if they're not still at the Met. I remember walking into this room for the first time and seeing these four Knights and thinking , "Holy shit. " Probably not what the curator was after but it blew me away. Still does.

Is it Trad? I think it is. I mean it's the Met. And any Trad knows that if this stuff bores you there's always the Wine Bar where you can get a bottle of Claret for $40. That's a pretty good deal for a NYC museum. So sit at the bar, share a bottle of wine with a friend, cross your legs so everyone can see your socks and talk about the fact that none of this stuff would be here if people didn't have sex. You can't get more Trad than that.

11 April 2008

The Trad Hotel on the Trad Island

I fell in love with Bermuda on my first visit. It was England...but with sun. The taxi ride from the airport to my hotel in Hamilton was magical. It was a Friday afternoon and all of the traffic was coming toward us. Men on scooters in blue blazers, Bermuda shorts, kneesocks, Rep ties and sunglasses. Quick images of the ocean outside my taxi window framed by flowers and pink houses with electric blue shutters and bone white roofs. The humid breeze was soaked up by my dry, five below zero with the wind chill flesh. This place is so Trad and I haven't even discussed Dark and Stormies yet.

I stayed at the Hamilton Princess. I was on business and it was where everyone else was staying. A nice pool. Horrible food but only idiots and the lazy ate at the hotel. I was introduced to Dark and Stormies at the hotel bar. Barrits Ginger Beer and Goslings Black Seal Rum. With a lime. Somehow this drink manages to taste like Bermuda. I was invited to tea by some locals at Waterloo House. A charming little hotel between the Princess and downtown Hamilton pictured above.

I'm sitting in the courtyard drinking Lapsang Souchong and nibbling McVitties digestive biscuts and wondering why I'm staying at the Princess when I can be staying at Waterloo. I am on expenses. What do I care. And so I started staying at Waterloo when I could. It's small. Only 30 or so rooms and tends to fill up fast. And that's the reason it is to be closed.

"Not as good as it was but better than it will be." Remember that.

Bermuda, God bless her, has managed to keep most Yanks out of her knickers due to some serious employment and real estate laws. But Bermuda has gotten the whiff of money. Insurance money. Quiet and serious stuff. It seems the footprint of the Waterloo is too small for a 30 room hotel. As it is, this charmer sits between multi-storied midrises whose tenants count insurance company money. Waterloo will close this July based on information just passed to me by a good friend. She will be replaced with office space more in line with the value of the land.

I am in mourning. Maybe the best thing about getting older is knowing that everything wonderful will be shit canned by some ass hole with an accounting degree. By the time I'm my father's age nothing will be left. "Not as good as it was but better than it will be." I'm translating that into Latin and putting it on all my Polo shirts.

09 April 2008

Trad Sunglasses

So, were having this discussion about Trad Sunglasses over on Ask Andy about Trad. What brand do you like, what model, what you're willing to shell out...Persols and Ray Bans seem to be winning. But is going to a Sunglass Hut and dropping almost $300 anywhere close to Trad?

I found these Giorgio Armani sunglasses in a consignment shop in Chicago. Made in Italy, I'm guessing they're circa 1980 to 1985. Bought 'em for $35. Lenses were in bad shape so I took them to Friedrich's in NYC. They put new lenses in and threw in a super nice blue leather case with buff interior (I love Blue and Buff) for $50 bucks or so.

They go well with a Blue Blazer and a Rep Bow Tie.

08 April 2008

The Trad Movie Theatre

The Paris Theatre
Over the weekend I caught the Rolling Stones Docu at the Imax in New York. $16.00 a pop. When my Dad returned from a tour in South Korea, I pestered him to take me to see the Beatle's docu, "Let it Be." Walking out of the theatre he said, "Those guys could shit in a paper bag and people would buy it." I felt the same way about the Stones. I guess I am turning into my father.

The next day I went to the Paris for some contrast. It's a lovely little place tucked between the Plaza Hotel and Berdorf Goodman. Been there for 65 years and has yet to be chopped up into some cash inhaling multi-plex with postage stamp screens, video games and the ever present 16 year old hoovering the carpet. The "Lounge" is downstairs and damned if it ain't a lounge. Plush seating and art decco details everywhere. It really is something from a time long gone. There's even an open balcony. It's civilized and that's Trad.