31 August 2011

Your Tailor & Your Rise

Cartoon by J.C. Duffy - The Rejection Collection

J.C. Duffy (his blog here) writes and draws two syndicated newspaper comic strips, The Fusco Brothers and Go Fish. Prior to the debut of the former in 1989, he worked in newspaper illustration and had an extensive line of greeting cards and related products. His books include Moot Points and four Fusco Brothers collections. His cartoons began appearing regularly in The New Yorker in 1998. He lives in Philadelphia.

I had no idea anyone this funny lived in Philadelphia.

30 August 2011

"Sit Next To Me, Sexy"

Chateau Musar- Elegance from the Bekka Valley

"Over the years, I’ve loved some and disliked others, but I’ve always found them fascinating. Their “flaws” will not make them universally loved, with many being turned off for one reason or another (such as the barnyard and funk that often accompanies them).

Those who do like their style and character will be, and have been, enthralled by age worthy wines coming from an unlikely location." Review from Wine Exchange

Many years ago I dated a woman from Lebanon. She was older with thick black hair, coffee and cream satin skin, jet black eyes and the best French kisser I have ever known. Curvy with a fondness for tight dresses -- everything above her heels was welcoming. She defined sultry and she liked to call me, "sexy." As in, "What are you doing way over there? Come sit next to me, sexy."

The 2001 Chateau Musar ($45) is a full on sexy mouth of of silk. While the more affordable Hochar ($26) comes full on Rhone -- Bordeaux would be my reference for Chateau Musar. An elegant blend of Cabernet, Cinsault and Carignane, it finishes unlike any wine I've ever had in my life. Long, spicy with just a hint of sin.

I paired it last night with short rib burgers from Pat La Frieda. No cheese this time. Only a thick slice of New Jersey tomato, lettuce and a slice of onion all on a potato roll. Despite the contrast of a burger and a $45 wine -- or, because of it -- it worked that magic when simple food and wine combinations turn into glorious moments remembered forever.

Does the wine remind me of the woman or does the woman remind me of the wine? I'm not sure. They're both unique and not obviously beautiful. Look, any man browsing in a wine store is not gonna be drawn to a $45 red wine from Lebanon. But, that's exactly where life gets interesting. So... what are doing sitting way over there, sexy?

29 August 2011

Dark & Stormy - A Weekend with Irene

28 August @ 6:36 PM
Fast moving clouds race by a slow moving Columbus Circle that's empty of traffic and people. Windy, cool and refreshing. It feels like a cocktail at the end of a long day.

27 August @ 11:05 AM
Rain is coming down as sky darkens. Last minute shopping. Whole Foods is closed.

27 August @ 11:10 AM
Time Warner Center is open but nothing in it is.

27 August @10:30 AM
Ninth Avenue diner is open until 11:00 AM. Mass Transit shuts down at noon.

27 August @ 12:03 PM
Morton Williams is open but lines stretch the length of the store. A bare bread aisle and no Pop Tarts.

27 August @ 12:33 PM
A Ninth Avenue deli is open, empty of people and crammed with cheese, bread, cured meats, wine and friendship. "We can't slice this. Is that okay?" No problem. No gouging. No lines. A 'NYC Survival' lesson learned. Turn left when everyone is turning right.

28 August @ 7:33 PM
Duane Reade exhibits pre - Irene loss control. All chains are still closed Sunday.

28 August @ 6:57 PM
57th Street looking east from 8th Avenue. There is no traffic.

28 August @ 7:03 PM
There is no subway.

28 August @7:17 PM
There is an open Bodega. Ice cream is very popular.

All photos taken with cell phone and filtered thru Instagram

26 August 2011

Separated at Birth: Wallace & Will

Something for the kids to get jiggy wit...

Tatts & Bolos

M Magazine April 1986

"You can make a lot of mistakes with hair because it grows back. It’s tattoos where I would put my foot down. There’s no coming back from that. If my children were to bring it up, I would calmly explain to them that I used to be really into bolo ties. I thought bolo ties were the shit, especially with my long hair. Now imagine a bolo tie you could never take off. That’s a tattoo." Paul Rudd

Thanks to Grantland via Manshit

25 August 2011

Pork Prep with Johnnie Trayf

Photo by Scott Shoeman

Bloggers, 13th and Wolf (left) and The Trad (always right) check out designer Johnnie Trayf's, "Primping Pork Prep" fashion show at the Holiday Inn off I-69 in Ft. Wayne, IN.

24 August 2011

If I Were A Mormon...

Me? A Mormon?

The Horror.

Dalyn Montgomery; aka Brohammas, aka artist, aka soda pop creator, aka Mormon Bishop, and most recently, graduate student in University of Pennsylvania's MBA program, recently honored me (and Trad Dad) with a portrait on his new Tumbler that hides all evidence of my over indulgence in life's baser pursuits.

Consequently, it's nice to know if I never drank or smoked -- I would look just like a Mormon. Although I don't think I could ever wear a short sleeve shirt with a tie. Dalyn, on the other hand, really needs to do something about his shoes. Thanks, Bro.

23 August 2011

Takers & Givers

I served in a peace time Army but this scene from the brilliant documentary, Restrepo never fails to make me laugh and cry at the same time. I have a strange love-hate relationship with the Army that some of you know about. Someone asked if I learned 'Honor' from the army. I told them I learned 'Honor' from the people I served with. If the army doesn't give a shit about an NFL football player they're not gonna care much about Joe Shit the Rag Man -- That is, you and me.

The drive from Ft Bragg to Camp McCall in an open jeep, in the winter, was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra and was the longest hour I've ever known. When I got cold I liked to sing. Loudly. Mac the Knife was a favorite although I have no idea why. Certainly, this would have not have served me well in the WW III - Soviet invasion of Europe - we all were being trained for. But, on a Ft Bragg range road, at Oh-dark-thirty, singing didn't seem to matter much.

We sang our hearts out to stay warm -- and it worked. A contest to see who could light a cigarette with one C ration match in the back seat of an open jeep doing 60 mph was another way not to think about the cold -- as well as make a few bucks on the side.

At the time, I wasn't very grateful for these moments. I never thought I would look back on them as fondly as I do today. The "Army" was the mean green machine but we were all in the same shit hole and that brought us together in a way the civilian world -- grab all you can then split -- has never come close to.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Takers and Givers. Takers don't do well as soldiers. They're usually found out for what they are pretty quickly. Givers don't do so well as civilians. They're found out as well.

A wise civilian manager once told me, "As long as you stand on a street corner handing out ten dollar bills -- people are gonna take them from you." In team spirit, I brought two large deals to my company but was shoved aside when commissions and congratulations were paid. Sadly, there was nobody to sing or dance with.

19 August 2011

This is going to feel like...

Michael Shaw cartoon rejected by The New Yorker

I'm in the hospital today, but wanted to let those who owe me calls and emails know that, if I don't make it, my last thoughts are of you -- and what an asshole you are.

18 August 2011

Agfa Brovira No. 6

Broadway & 72nd Street - 4:33 PM on August 17th, 2011

With apologies to Philip Trager.

17 August 2011

Sgt Rock & His Faux Commandos

Jeff “Rock” Harris refuses to display his medals and honors in his Kinston home

He tries to keep the awards — three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, 23 Army Commendation Medals, 31 Army Achievement Medals, six Overseas Service ribbons for combat, an award from the emperor of Saudi Arabia, along with several dozen others, he acquired during his time as a U.S. Army Ranger — packed away. However, those around him refuse to let him forget how important his time in the military was.

Harris — an executive security specialist at Down East Protection Systems in Kinston, personal trainer, self-defense instructor and a bodybuilding judge — doesn’t want credit for the bravery and valor he exhibited serving his country.

In fact, he didn’t even want to have any part of a big-budget, Hollywood movie that recounted one of his most eventful and memorable days in the Army.


“Black Hawk Down,” based on the Mark Bowden’s book by the same name, was nominated for four Academy Awards, won two and grossed $172,989,651 worldwide after its release in late 2001. The movie, based on true events from Operation Restore Hope, takes place Oct. 3, 1993, when American troops were sent into Bakara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s officers to stop his regime from starving the nation’s people.

U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force soldiers were sent on Black Hawk helicopters and Humvees on a mission expected to only take a couple of hours. They ended up fighting what seemed like the entire city into the next day, losing 19 U.S. soldiers in the process.

Harris, a sniper with the Rangers, came close to being one of the casualties of Mogadishu. Harris found out about the movie when Ridley Scott, co-producer and director, and his production company started hounding him for his account of the bloody day. But he refused to contribute.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about it (but) it’s a sore spot for a lot of us,” Harris said. “It’s not just because we were losing people and the whole horror of it — that was the third time I went to combat, so it wasn’t a surprise for me. It was just the way it happened, what went down. … A lot of guys got out (of the Army) after that who otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Though Scott’s company kept asking for his input, Harris answered every time with a resounding “no.” Scott nonetheless promised the movie would ring true to the day’s events, be more like a documentary — and most importantly — would honor the soldiers lost in Somalia. “I didn’t even care if my name was even mentioned,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure the people who did the most there, those who gave up the most, were shown the most honor.”

Despite receiving several movie passes and an invitation to see a special screening at Fort Bragg, Harris didn’t watch the movie until he could view it on his own time. “I finally watched the movie for first time after it came out on DVD, just so I can take a break if I needed to,” Harris said. “I don’t want to say that I was pleased because it’s not a pleasing thing to watch, but the rendition of it was what (Scott) said. He kept his word about it.”

The timeline of the movie strayed from the day’s actual events, and some character-switching, including his own, stood out, too.

Man down
In a bloody scene in the middle of the movie, a young soldier’s leg is blown off, opening his femoral artery. In pain and bleeding heavily, the young man’s strained face relaxes and he dies. “That would have been me,” Harris said. “I got shot, and cut my femoral artery, but we got out the next morning. I lived, but that wouldn’t have been as good of a story line.”

Though Harris still has both legs, he sustained a scar on his leg after a bullet punctured his shin, traveled up his leg, cut his artery and hit his spine, earning him his third Purple Heart, and almost ending his mobility. “(The bullet is) still in my spine — it’s still in my lower back,” Harris said. “I wasn’t supposed to walk again. I was paralyzed for almost 20 months.”

Medical experts still aren’t completely sure how he overcame his paralysis, but Harris, a member of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church, credits it all to God. “The day I left Walter Reed (Army Medical Center), they said I would have maybe an 8 percent chance (to walk again),” Harris said. “I never accepted that. … I’m a very blessed guy.”

Harris earned his two other Purple Hearts after being shot in Panama trying to capture Manuel Noriega and after being shot again in Desert Storm. “It’s different every time (someone shoots at you),” Harris said. “It’s just as scary every time. You don’t ever get used to it.”

Aim, fire
Harris wasn’t always on the receiving end of the bullet, something that makes him uncomfortable to this day. I have 316 confirmed kills as a sniper, and that’s only in that last three years I was in the Army,” Harris said. “Every one of those horrifies me regularly because they were somebody’s children, somebody’s husband or father.”

He still feels conflicted about what he had to do, but in the end, he knew it was his duty as a sworn soldier.“They’re bad people and they’ve done bad things, but who am I to take that away from them?” he asked. “But it was my job to do. Lives were safer because of that — but it’s never easy.”

Leave no man behind
James Murphy served in the Army as a Ranger with Harris and said he wouldn’t be alive if not for Harris’ heroic actions. Murphy recalled after he and another soldier were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Mogadishu, Harris ran to their position and carried both of them a half-mile away “not knowing if we were alive or not.” He drove them to safety in a burning vehicle and returned to continue to fight.

“If you know him, you are privileged,” Murphy said. “If you served with him, you were in the presence of a true American patriot. If he is your friend, you should be honored. He gives hope to humanity that there are still decent, amazing people all around you.”

Just a regular guy
Harris said despite everything he has seen and the blessings he has received, he considers himself a down-to-earth person. “I’m just as normal, laid back a person as there is. I’ve just had extraordinary experiences,” he said. “I’ve got a great wife (Amanda), and I’m alive. I’m healthy, and probably much more healthy than I should be at 46.”

Harris is especially lucky after having several medical scares, including having prostate cancer four times in the past six years and a brain tumor. Harris, who is in remission from cancer, said he doesn’t mind talking about his past illnesses, but he doesn’t publicize it because of the way people treat him after finding out.

“They look at you like you’re already dead. … My overall personality is doing for other people rather than myself,” Harris said. “That’s part of my military (background). That’s the thing that it teaches you. You don’t want to be a hero, you don’t want to get credit all the time. A lot of people know me, and a lot of people know where I come from, but a lot of people don’t know my whole story, because I don’t advertise that.”

Say thanks
Harris said he takes every opportunity to thank those who have ever donned a uniform, from friends and veterans Jerry Core of Kinston, Klebear Northrup and James Anthony to Joseph Seabright, a coworker of Harris’ who is deploying next week. “I don’t pass a soldier without saying ‘thank you,’ ” he said. “I don’t tell them who I am. I just tell him ‘thank you.’ ”

Every military holiday, Harris remembers and recognizes the soldiers who fought by his side, especially the 64 in his units who lost their lives. “I will always, as long as I’m able to, recognize those guys first,” he said. “I don’t have problems talking about the stuff I’ve experienced. I think it’s good therapy for me.”

Harris said thanking a soldier and showing him or her support is a simple gesture that goes a long way. “It’s unbelievably important … just to go say thank you,” he said. “Put yourself in their position. Just a ‘thank you’ is tremendous.”

Though he has been through much in his 46 years, he has kept his faith and wouldn’t take any of his experiences back for the world. “I’m thankful everyday I went through it,” Harris said. “As hard as it was, I would have stayed in for 30 years. That was my niche, what I was supposed to be doing … where I’m at, the direction I’m in today is because of somebody else’s plan.”

By Jane Moon - Kinston Free Press

The unauthorized use of military insignia by fashion designers and retailers pales in comparison to people who fabricate military records. This incredible story ran the Sunday before July 4th in Kinston, NC and was picked up by the Fayetteville Observer. With Fayetteville being home to Ft Bragg, the 82nd Airborne Division, Special Forces and Delta , you can guess what happened.

Sgt. Rock's fraud was outed in a fascinating on line investigation seen here and here. Actually, I think Rock would find life in New York City most suitable for his character -- what little he has.

Yesterday, M. Lane, a man over flowing with character, commented on a ersatz military duffle bag, "...I could never carry something like this unless I had earned it." In an upside down world, the upside down message is, "Fake It 'til You Make It' and except for the real nut cases out there, it comes down to how you see yourself each morning when you shave. I'm just guessing, but I reckon Sgt. 'Rock' is working on a full beard.

16 August 2011

Duffle Stories

At Saks 5th Avenue -- I wonder who 'Chad' is?

And whose idea this was?

I got mine for nothing -- Well, almost...

Ft Jackson, Ft Benning, Ft Bragg, Camp McCall, Canal Zone, Griesbach Barracks...

It's not much to look at. It never was. Filled with everything the Army issued, it started on my back at Ft Jackson on the first day of Basic. An insane formation of shaved heads in the front leaning rest with hundred pound duffels on our backs.

Drills yelling, "Get Up! Get Back Down" Getting up, my bag falls off my back and a strap rips my watch off my wrist and sends it flying...never to be seen again. Through the rest of Basic -- I never know what time it is.

The Drills said you couldn't die and go to Hell without a layover in Atlanta. I'd fly in uniform but not for the reason this guy did. WW II vets were always good for a beer and a story in a bar near the Piedmont gates.

I carried it to my dorm room in college and, after graduating, to an apartment on 18th St in Chelsea. The same day a Puerto Rican girl pulled Wonder Bread out of my first bag of NYC groceries and "tsk - tsk'ed" me.

My name and number are barely visible but the stories this duffle conjures up just won't stop. I hope there's room for more.

15 August 2011

Pre War NYC Pied-A-Terre: Midtown

505 sq ft Studio w/orig'l oak floors & custom walk in closet

Kitch w/ south exp.

Modern gas oven

Loads of storage

Built in bookshelves

New A/C

Original 1930s bathroom

Custom shower

As is - $2,100 a month. Two month security and one month's rent required. No Fee.

12 August 2011

The Estate of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr

(click on images to enlarge)

You'd be hard pressed not to use Renaissance Man for Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Dad was Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Stepmother was Mary Pickford and a mentor was Charlie Chaplain. At 19, he marries Joan Crawford, four years his senior and whom he calls, Billy. Life is lush.

Looking through this catalog, I couldn't help but be reminded of the little boy in the film, Goodbye Columbus. Paging through a book of Gauguin paintings, the 11 year old shakes his head and sighs, "Man, that's the fuckin' life."

It's one thing to have good taste and nice clothes but, unlike the Duke of Windsor whose life extended about as far as a card game, Fairbanks actually lived an amazing life. Mostly away from Hollywood. A highly decorated naval officer, Fairbanks set up The Beach Jumpers, a top secret unit from which today's Navy Seals (how embarrassing) SEALs derive.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with his clothes. His tailor was Stovel & Mason Ltd. with shirts from Turnbull & Asser, Budd and Ascot Chang. There are 15 lots of ties including, Brooks Brothers, T.M. Lewin, Hermes, Chipp, I Magnin, the Garrick Club and even Polo. There's a double breasted British Warmer by H. Huntsman and a classic velvet collared covert coat by Cordings.

The auction is in NYC on September 13th with previews from the 9th to the 12th. However, a pre-preview with some friends has been arranged and I'll be able to report well before the first preview. In the meantime, the auction site is online here and while it's not Gauguin in Tahiti -- It is an amazing life.