31 July 2009

Friday Belts: Surcingle - Cerveza

J Press Surcingle, Polo tie from 1988 and Pacifico Cerveza

William F and his Surcingle

The Mind Blowing Plastilina Mosh

Just this week I received an email for some advice regarding the purchase of a belt.
First of all, I want to say I'm a big fan of the blog, always a fun read. Second, and the purpose of my email, I seek your sartorial advice. You seem to be the authority on cool belts around these parts (of the internet) and I want to purchase a (my first) cloth leather belt, i.e.
However I am unsure of which route to go, I was thinking a stretch webbing one in navy/white or a pattern one in either anchors or tennis racquets. In your opinion, without any knowledge of my style, which do you like best?
In advance, thank you,
your loyal reader

I gave Neto's email a lot of thought. First off, who am I to tell Neto what to wear. Even if he was my brother and I knew his closet like my own. Again, it has to do with, "Anyone can tell me I shouldn't wear it. No one can tell me I can't." They say on the internet anyone can be an expert. I'm no expert. But I can be a resource. And Neto was a great resource for me. I enjoyed his blog and found some music I fell in love with. Plastilina Mosh's, "Pervert Pop Song" is now in my iPod along with their Essential iTunes collection. Amazing music. A Wes Montgomery like, "Ode to Mauricio Garces" with Brazil 66 like background vocals to this video. I couldn't help but think "Que Langosta!" at the opening.

I asked Neto if he was ok with using his request for this weeks Friday Belt. And he was.

Neto, without knowing anything about you, except for your blog, I say, for your first surcingle, go the non stretch, Navy/Red Surcingle shown wrapped around that Cerveza and I'll tell you why. You can wear it with anything. And I mean anything. It looks great with jeans, chinos, grey flannels or even a suit. In the picture of Buckley up there (I've always been a fan of Gore Vidal) you'll see he's wearing a red surcingle with grey trousers. Very traditional and a little out of the box at the same time.

Most consider the surcingle casual belting. I've worn this Navy/Red belt with a J Press blue pinstripe suit with a yellow foulard bow tie. Not because I'm an old WASP and saw my daddy dress like this - - but because I saw a photo of Daniel Patrick Moynihan in a pin stripe suit with a Navy / Red surcingle belt and bow tie and I liked the look. By the way, I saw it on the Trad Forum of Ask Andy, another place where there are a lot of 'experts' but I think it's a great resource.

Surcingle belts are a subtle twist on a suit and I think it really does something for a cotton or wool khaki suit in Summer. I threw the yellow paisley tie in there because I like Navy, Red and Yellow. And I like messing around with these colors but not matching them. Here's a very early post of a Navy& Yellow rep tie on a Yellow button down. And here's a Navy & Yellow bow tie on a Red stripe double cuff. This isn't rocket science. But throwing the three primary colors around with what you wear sure beats khaki cargo shorts and a black tee shirt.

I picked Pacifico for the label but I'll tell you this. It's a favorite cerveza of mine. I still like Carta Blanca in a can. Something soulful about that. But Pacifico is my pay day cerveza. More complex than Carta Blanca and there's a beautiful finish to it. I ordered carne tacos in a small Mexican restaurant down in Florida last Winter with, "...corn tortillas, onion and cilantro. That's it." The waitress told me, "You eat like a Mexican." I was hugely flattered. As I am by Neto asking me for my advice.

So, Neto... here are some places to start the hunt: Cable Car Clothiers, Brooks Brothers, Ben Silver , J Press, Eljo's , O'Connell's, Lands' End , Orvis, LL Bean & Leather Man. They are in the order of price with Cable (Hands Up!) Car being the most expensive at $98 and Leather Man at $28. Try Leather Man first. Made in the US. Huge selection. And a whole lotta soul.
Or, you may want to be my first customer in my new venture, "Belt, Borrow or Steal." For a nominal monthly membership fee you can rent any of my belts. For a week. For a month. Of course some belts require a small premium in addition to the membership fee. And I could probably be talked into renting the Submariner. Anyone want to rent some catalogs?

29 July 2009

Herter's of Waseca

Herter's Catalog
Where in the wide world of sports are you gonna find slaughterhouse knives?

I swear DeNiro was wearing those Lumberjacks (#2) in The Deer Hunter

And Walken was in (#4) The Buffalo Plaid Wool Shirt

Notice the Western Style Belt Loops on (#4) Dacron Poplin Pants

I gotta have a Gunstock Lamp

Anyone know The Buckskin Shop?

George Herter put out the best damned mail order catalog I have ever found. Herter's of Waseca (RR 1) sold guns, boats, mini bikes, stoves, beef jerkey and some bizarre "How To" books like, "How To Live With A Bitch," "How To Make The Finest Wines At Home," "How To Get Out Of The Rat Race And Live On $10 A Month" and "George The Housewife." Leon Gorman, former chairman of LL Bean and LL's grandson wrote about George in his book, "L.L. Bean - The Making of an American Icon,"

"George Herter was still publishing his perfect-bound, phone-book-sized catalog... It contained everything imaginable in fishing and hunting paraphernalia, camping equipment, and a wide variety of unrelated products, all endorsed by his mythical Hudson Bay Guide Association. Herter described his products in the most grandiose (and often humorous) copy I have ever read. I wish I had saved my copies."

It was a catalog I followed for years. Not that I ever bought anything. If I had the money, there was getting the money order followed by finding a stamp and I never could find an envelope. No, ordering something from a mail order catalog was far too much for my ADD. It wasn't until I was in the Army I could get my crap together enough to place a catalog order -- and even then -- it had to be something I really needed. Like a dozen pair of athletic socks. No, I never ordered from Herter's but George kept my name on the list and they managed to get forwarded somehow. Or, maybe it was Phred / Trad Dad, a MN native, who was doing the ordering...Maybe he'll tell us. Anyway, like Leon, I never saved a copy but instead snagged this one off eBay. Easy to do since I didn't have to screw around with a money order.

There's a couple pair of Herter's boots from the 50's on eBay. Not my size but then that's why I just told you about 'em. Don't get excited. You don't have that much of a head start. This piece ran last year in the NY Times and I understand George's books have soared in value. Still, the catalogs are a steal on eBay and will look at home in any man's bathroom.

28 July 2009

The Best Socks in the World

Nice Socks

The Gary Gary Sock

The Gary Gary is a sock that was gifted to me by the charming and erudite, Mr Vivek Nagrani As you can see here, the Gary Gary was designed in honor of some, what I can only guess, are two very heavy hitters in the world of government and the military. I mean, Joe Shit the Ragman does not meet with the Secretary of Defense and have some laughs about socks. So I told Vivek my sock story in the hope he'd consider naming a pair in honor of The Trad.

My story has a connection to the Gary story in that the military was involved. But that's about it. Back in the Army, when I was an E-nothing, I lived in a open bay barracks. Usually 50 or so men per floor on steel bunk beds with two floors per barracks. These were WW II white frame abodes who had no business hanging around as long as they did except... they were so well taken care of by 50 years of 19 years olds scrubbing them spotless. You can still see these relics today on the other side of the wire on any Army post in this country. The latrines consisted of six or seven sinks and six commodes...without any partitions. A big part of my indoctrination in the Army was getting used to doing number 2 with five other guys doing number 2 -- all visible and audible.

So there's no privacy in the latrine. Except in the middle of the night. Which reminds me of the time I was a barracks fire guard and walked into the latrine around 2 AM where I saw a fellow platoon member satisfying himself over a sink while he watched himself in the mirror. You can be assured I told everyone in the platoon and this spread like wild fire to the entire company. I'll spare you the nicknames this unfortunate soldier earned. Amazingly, he turned out to be something of a celebrity.

Most of us opted to be nameless when it came to this activity. Hence, the popularity of the athletic / tube sock. Sold by the dozen for a dollar in Columbia, SC, Columbus, GA or Fayettville, NC, these white cotton socks turned out to be a staple in any Army barracks. Simply by affixing the tube sock under an Olive Drab blanketed bunk, a soldier was afforded, after lights out, a multi - purpose solution to what that troop I mentioned earlier was doing in the latrine over the sink. 30,000 men in the 82nd Airborne Division alone must have created a huge demand for tube socks and ultimately a thriving textile industry boomed in the southeastern states where Army posts were as common as mosquito's and country ham. Although, there were the unsavory types who, instead of throwing away their soiled cotton, insisted on washing their socks. This, I never did understand but I've never been into recycling. At least not when it comes to (or in) socks.

There you have it. My sock story. Which I proudly told Vivek.
He seemed somewhat taken aback but managed a laugh. I'm not sure if he's working on designing a sock in honor of my story... but I do wish you would give his fine product a try. They're very comfortable. And at $45 a pair...I'm not throwing mine away for a very long time.

27 July 2009


Toots. A documentary.

From left to right: Toots Shor, Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason

All that's left of Toots Shor and

...this view as you stumble out.

When it's a hot weekend - - And humid - - I like to button myself up in the air conditioned apartment, draw the curtains, grab a cold beer and watch a movie. Preferably one I've seen a few times so I can listen to the commentary. Toots is that kind'a movie. A documentary made by his granddaughter, Kristi Jacobson, Toots tells the story of America's most famous saloon keeper. A man who would have probably kicked me out of his place but a story that lets me sit next to him for much of his life. Netflix this, buy it, rent it if you can find it. And please be sure to listen to the commentary supplied by Toot's granddaughter and daughter. It's strong and important. Largely for what's not said. There are some unanswered questions in the film that go unanswered in the commentary.

24 July 2009

The Friday Belt - Drinking Green

From New York Magazine July 20-27th, 2009

From my kitchen just over the microwave July 23, 2009

This green J Press surcingle has been in the closet donkey years. There's something about hunter green and bridle tan I just can't get enough of. What classic colors. A great travel belt because it goes with khakis and any color button down --but it's real reason for being is Pink. I like it with the soft shade of the Brooks oxford or, in the 80's, their pink university stripe. Boring as the day is long but isn't that the point?

The other belt is a cocktail called the Monangahela Mule. The Moscow Mule is Ginger Beer with vodka and lime served in a copper cup. The Monangahela Mule, as you can see in the recipe above, is Rye whiskey (I like the green of the Wild Turkey bottle) with lime and Ginger Beer. I saw it in the magazine and had to try it. Happy to say it's a keeper. The Rye really comes out and gives it, what I thought, was a woodsie-like taste. It's hard to describe-- but if you could taste green - - this is what it would taste like. It reminds me of a forest of Georgia pine trees on a hot Summer day. And this is the kind of drink that would make that day.

23 July 2009

Playboy After Dark

As a sex obsessed 12 year old, I would sneak down into the living room late at night and watch Playboy after Dark with the sound so low I had to put my ear to the speaker. I never did understood what the hell they were talking about...and still don't. I learned to just mute it and watch.

Barbi always on the couch next to Hef and a room full of -- what must'a been -- a major suck-up convention. Still, I thought it was the ultimate in sophistication. Years later it doesn't hold up at all. But dig those opening credits. That Mercedes 600 Limo. The overhead shot of what looks like Lake Shore Drive and that piano music that begs you to shake something with ice and pour it neat with an olive. Playboy got me young and I bought into the lie that being a man was nothing more than smoking, drinking and sex. I guess if you're gonna buy into a lie...it ain't a bad one.

21 July 2009

A Brooks Brothers Woman

Brooks Brothers Madras Shirt Dress
Brooks Brother's Sundress
Brooks Brothers Resort Wear

So I'm talking to this old Army buddy who's in the food biz and we're going on about how white burgundies make for a nice pairing with triple creams. This is usually champagne territory but the still white makes it a little more complex. And I say it reminds me of port wine cheddar on a Triscut with Ballantine Ale. Rich is quiet for a moment and says, "You are a man of extremes."

Maybe I am. Give me the sticks or the city. A station wagon or something with two seats and a rag top. Give me J Press or Savile Row. I'm not so keen on the stuff in between.

These are from a 1990 Brooks Brothers catalog and while you may think there's a world of difference between these ladies and the woman below -- I don't. I mean sure, they're Wonder Bread but there's no botox, nail extensions or implants. Or, maybe I am a man of extremes.

19 July 2009

A Woman

A style all her own and a confidence that speaks to the world, "Screw you. I'll do what I want." Unique and honest without botox, breast implants and nail extensions. I have no idea who she is or where's she from but when I saw her picture in a magazine (pg 17. Fall-Winter 1996-97 Le Monde D'Hermes) -- I stopped and said out loud, "My God."

At a certain point in life, I don't remember when, I no longer cared what magazines and television told me was a beautiful woman. Rachel Welch, Bridgette Bardot, Joey Heatherton...Ok, maybe Joey a little... But I began to trust what I thought was beautiful.

17 July 2009

Friday Belts - Signal Flags and Manzanila

Manzanilla Sherry - Taste the sea

Signal Flag Belt - - Ms Paltrow is a fan

Summer's almost over and so is this bottle of Manzanilla Sherry. Manzanilla is a dry, white Sherry served ice cold (no ice) and I swear it tastes like the ocean. Briny and clean with a distinct taste that you're either gonna love or hate. Kind'a like me. But it's affordable, unlike me, and well worth the gamble. Try it with green olives, cured meats and my favorite...raw oysters. Hard to find but worth the hunt. Just make sure it's the Manzanilla. I like to listen to Christopher Parkening doing Segovia and pretend I'm in Spain hitting on Gwyneth Paltrow - -in front of Batali in his Crocs.

The belt? You may have seen it in the past. I scanned it. Awful image. I like this one much more. J. McLaughlin needlepoint with lots of detail and better than most of what's being cranked out in Vietnam and sold under preppy names here. I like to wear it when I'm drinking Manzanilla and pretending I'm hitting on Gwyneth.

14 July 2009

Happy Bastille Day

If you live in Chicago - - are you in luck.

My favorite restaurant in Chicago. It's not hip. It's not happening. What is it? Baby, it's soul. And heart. And everything I love. I only wish I was there. Hidden away in a tiny corner of an unknown condo building, Le Petit Paris (the old Zavens) goes back to the early 60's and Hugh Hefner's Chicago where a good French restaurant did frog legs, steak au poive and a decent wine at a decent price. Sorry for being late on this but if you can make it - - Tell the owner, Alain, Tintin sent you.

12 July 2009

Castle Hill Inn

Many thanks to Blushing Hostess for her recommendation of the beautiful Castle Hill Inn. I fell in love with this place and her post.

10 July 2009

Shoe Partay

Tintin & Bordeaux

Tintin and Miloux Belt

2000 Les Caleches de Lanessan Bordeaux from the Haut Medoc

Chateau Lanessan put out this second growth Bordeaux in 2000 and for $15 it really hits the mark. I found it at...OW! Shit, why'd you hit me? Uh, sorry. The Gulf Foxtrot has asked me not to divulge the retailer of this fine yet affordable red. I'm wondering how the heck the French can get a bottle of this to our shores for a lousy $15 bucks when they have more middle men in the wine biz than ADG has peak lapel blazers he can't wear.

Speaking of which...here's another belt I can't wear. Tintin gear goes for an arm and leg...when you can find it. This belt went for a lot more than $15 yet it doesn't taste near as good as the Lanessan. But I can't chuck it. Not yet. Maybe...OW! Shit, why do you keep hitting me? Uh, sorry. Anyone wanna buy a belt? $15 should cover it.

09 July 2009

Newport Marina

The Good...
the bad...
and the...

Summer in Newport

Clothing stores
and Pubs...

These are a few of my favorite things. Cue Julie Andrews.

You ever have that feeling when you roll into a new town that it's gonna be something special? Newport is that kind of town. Boats and seagulls mixed with cod and cold beer and a personal mission to sample every lobster roll in town.

The Royal Male is filled with Anglo soul while the clothing is as tasteful as what I had for dinner at Zeldas last night. Thank you Blushing Hostess for the reckie.

What is it about these Yankees? How do they know...how to do it...so damned well?

08 July 2009

Gosling's Ginger Beer - Not Even Close

Goslings Ginger Beer versus Barritts Ginger Beer

Another kind of Storm

The Ex (Echo Xray?) told me years ago, "Just because you think it's right doesn't mean it is." Amen to that.

Taste is so subjective. So are Batik shirts and tri colored boat shoes. I found the new Goslings Ginger Beer in Newport last night and tried a 6 pack. And I thought Barritts was expensive. Goslings is $8 for 6. Barritts, when you can find it, is $6for 6. Goslings is made with high fructose corn syrup - - which is pretty cheap. Barritts is made with corn syrup. Which is cheap as well. Regatta is made with cane sugar which isn't cheap but I don't like Regatta in a Dark & Stormy.

Goslings GB has a distinct "dusty" taste on the front end as opposed to Barritts more round and sweet initial hit. And while the Gosling's GB has a wonderful spice about it - - that "dust" is always there. Is Goslings making this stuff in 40 year old foot lockers? I dunno. Maybe I got a bad batch. But the Gosling's GB (made by Polar Bev in Mass) did not make it in my book. That's not to say it will not make it in yours. OK, back to the pool.

Tortellini Boat Shoes

From M The Civilized Man - April 1988

I have 20 /20 vison and the rest of the world wears bi-focals.

07 July 2009

Batik on the Road Again

Make mine the 60 Day I.P.A.

Heading to Newport sans Madras

J McLaughlin Linen Batik Shirt

Good morning all you Batik lovers.

06 July 2009

Tom Ford on Hay Street

"I wanted this to be like a house..." Tom Ford

I think I know what kind of house. Is it my imagination or has Tom Ford based his entire collection on pimp attire from the late 70's? I walk though his upper east side store and it's what comes to mind. I'm reminded of Huggy Bear and gold - shag with 'appliance' avacado green. Where even tasteful velvet slippers have somehow been screwed around with long enough to turn them into kitsch. This guy could fuck up an anvil with a rotten banana.

05 July 2009

Chased by a Pimp

"How 'bout a date?"

Images from the Fayetteville Observer circa 1979

As much a part of late 70's Ft Bragg as Camp McCall or Sicily Drop Zone was a strip of bars, strip joints and pawn shops on Hay Street in the bordering town of Fayetteville. The Seven Dwarfs, Rick's Lounge, The Pop a Top and the Suzie Wong Club... just a few names that 30 years of poor memory can never erase. Prostitutes worked without fear of police. It was something out of the wild west and I am not exaggerating...not even a little. I had friend, Bob, who could get credit from the hookers. He was that good looking and that well known.

"How about a date, sweetie?" It was an interesting proposition. A date back then was between $25 and $50 depending on the options. I was never aware of the pimps. I don't know if they were around or if I just wasn't that focused on their activities. Whatever, it took almost four years to find myself being chased by one.

As a hard stripe sergeant and a veteran of Hay Street my attention turned from the hookers to a few Asian strip bars that offered a table or two in the curtained back with a menu of epicurean delights. The food was amazing and many times we went for dinner, talked to the owners and left without ever gawking at the girls out front on the runway. I soon became a dedicated aficionado of the hot cabbage Kim Chi and a wonderful rice wine called Makgeolli.

One night a group of us threw a small party at the Seven Dwarfs for a friend who was off to Benning for OCS. I was in a navy Izod, a blue and red surcingle belt, white jeans and Adidas. I only know this because there's a picture of me with the OCS candidate and a stripper in the Seven Dwarfs. It's on 110 film and because I have crap spread out across three states I can't find it.

We decided to move on and I wound up alone on the street in front of the bar. As I wait for my friends, a hooker approaches and asks if I want a date. Not sure what I was thinking at the time but I'm sure the alcohol had turned me into a bigger smart ass than usual - -I say, "A date sounds great. Tell you what...I'll come by and pick you up in an hour, then we can go meet my mom and dad and afterwards I'll take you to dinner and movie. How's that sound?" She stubs her cigarette out on the sidewalk and says, "You're a smart ass little mother fucker. I got an idea. Why don't you get off my corner." "You're corner! Hey, baby. Tonight this is my corner. Why don't you get lost?" Or something to that effect.

I watched her walk around the corner and reached into my pocket, pulled out a hard box of Marlboro's and lit one with a brushed chrome Zippo. I had not finished the cigarette when I heard, "There, that's him!" I turned to see my 'date' pointing me out to her pimp who came running at me full speed. Or, as fast as one can run with restrictive footwear. The Adidas exploded me off the sidewalk leaving my date's employer far behind. Fifteen minutes later I was able to sneak back into the Seven Dwarfs where I saw my friends in the exact position I had left them. Bob looked at me, "Where did you go?" "Just for some air," I said and settled back into the comfort and security of my friends while I wondered if this was where I belonged.