31 December 2013

Ring-A-Ding In the New Year

Known as, "Ring-A-Ding Rhythm" in the US or, "It's Trad, Dad," in the UK, this little picture was directed by Richard Lester in 1962 and was turned on to me by fellow TCM obsessive, Main Line Sportsman sometime last night.  I hate to say, "last night" 'cause it's embarrassing I never heard of it.  Who cares.

It's a funky little film that mixes a fictional "Boy-Girl story with amazing B&W cinema vérité and you can see Lester's, "A Hard Day's Night" coming at you for a country mile.  It's a rough patch at the beginning but it manages to loosen up and the musical numbers are the reason to hang in there.

Bert Stern mentioned in a Lincoln Center viewing of his 1958 documentary, 'Jazz on a Summer's Day,' that it was his original intent to have a "Boy-Girl backstory with actual footage of the festival threaded throughout the film.  He eventually gave up on the idea, in large part, because there was no script and he was winging it without any idea of what to do with the story.  Lester, a sneeze in time later, seemed to pull off what Stern couldn't do with, Ring-A-Ding/It's Trad Dad.

Bizarre minutiae attends this film in spades, which really makes for a deeper appreciation. John Lennon wrote "Misery" for the "Girl" and  co star, Helen Shapiro, a uniquely attractive brunette with an even more unique and beautiful voice.  The Boy, Craig Douglas, is still touring, although in a wheel chair, and his performance, as a "local" introduced by Miss Shapiro in this clip, "Rainbow in Your Tea" is a show stealer. Then there's a bizarre appearance Craig makes in a very rare clip (that's what they say) of Russ Conway's television show, Russ Conway & a Few Friends:

Sweet, Jesus.  If I were a designer, I'd rip off this entire clip, shoot it in B&W at the Oak Room in the Algonquin and use it to feature my new line.  It certainly beats Lincoln Center.  Happy New Year.

30 December 2013

My Boxers...

...lie perfectly content under khakis,
but under jeans, not so much.

They make it easy to pee and
I even remember a girl friend
pulling them down with glee.

Now I pull them down
I see a pudge of flesh
from 21 years
of sitting behind a desk.

Dropping them over a right knee
there's still a gash
left over from a Yamaha 600
motorcycle crash.

Freckles on my thighs
never let me lie
that some of my hidden hairs
are red.

Tartan patch boxers
stolen by a one night stand.
Quid pro quo?
I don't think so.

A sister-in-law announced
over Xmas dinner
I'd spend my last $50
on a pair of green silk boxers.

Maybe, they've been with me
since the army deemed
they fit me
but I'd add
a red Olde English

If it's all the same
to those who bury me
I would only ask
you prepare me
in Logsdail itchy wool boxers.

An eternity
I swear...
Must come
with some debonair
and I hope someone in Heaven
will scratch me.

26 December 2013

Hungover? I Gotta Cure For That...

Click image to enlarge

I'm indebted to M Magazine for a lot of things but this hangover cure of garlic soup stands in the top 10 of M Appreciation. Days like today?  It might well come in first.

This is a tad more complicated than a rare blue cheese burger on dark rye and a fountain Coke but it really isn't that difficult... although peeling garlic with the shakes can be a little tricky.

You also might smell like garlic for a couple days and that's okay if, like me, your idea of Hell is other people. I'm trying to find a cure for other people but, until I do, this soup ain't a bad place to start.

23 December 2013

Written in 1988 for soprano, Jessye Norman, ‘Christmastide’ has always stood in the way of my motto, “Not as good as it was - Better than it will be.” It is amazing, quiet, erudite, humble, peaceful and simple.  Although, I am sure you will never hear it on the radio.  
Green and silver, red and gold
And a story born of old.
Truth and love and hope abide,
This Christmastide, this Christmastide.
Holly, ivy, mistletoe
And the gently falling snow.
From a simple ox’s stall
Came the greatest gift of all.
Children sing of peace and joy
At the birth of one small boy.
Let the bells ring loud and clear,
Ring out now for all to hear.
Trumpets sound and voices raise
In an endless stream of praise.
Green and silver, red and gold
And a story born of old.
Words: Jane McCulloch   /   Music: Donald Fraser

Please Come Home...

This is the only Christmas song that has really moved me.  I understand it also  moved Darlene Love…into a bigger house.

21 December 2013

Bootsy & Voysey

London, 2001:
She was standing next to an early '70s Triumph Spitfire with blinking emergency lights.  Broken down during afternoon rush hour and taking up an entire lane in a traffic circle somewhere in Mayfair.  Cell phone to an ear, she looked exasperated and... on hold.   Red shoulder length hair bounced as she turned her head just as the cab I was in passed by.  She was dressed in a white silk blouse,  boot cut  jeans and suede paddock boots.  I'll never forget her -- Not that I think of her everyday.

But I was reminded of Bootsy when I saw these -- Maloles Lola M87 -- Sounds like something from Formula 1.

Doris Leslie Blau is a rug dealer in NYC and I've fallen hard for their English Arts and Crafts rugs since they first emailed me a sampling late last Summer.  There's a wide line between American and English A&C.  Not a fan of the former but a big fan of the latter. And while their A&C collection is not for the weak of heart or GS-5 park rangers, there are some fantastic deals on their web site…like this wonderful navy and red kilim. 

If you're thinking of something special for a lady friend and you're pressed for time, DLB has created a story for you.  The Maloles echoing the  CFA Voysey rug.  Maybe you could buy her a Triumph Spitfire as well.

Maloles Lola M87 Boot $430 here

1910 Arts & Crafts Rug (12'7" x 10'8") $45,000 here

Triumph Spitfires for Sale  $4,500 - $32,500 here

20 December 2013

A Friday Belt - Bing, Bitters & Braces

Been doing a lot of walking and not much drinking in the last six weeks.  Consequently,  pounds have shed away but that's not why I'm walking and not drinking…so much.  Much of it has to do with health -- the drinking.  Some of it has to do with work -- the walking.  However it happened, I made several discoveries:  Lowa approach boots being the walking bit with Bing being the not-drinking bit.

A can of Bing can keep me going for four hours and five miles.  I kid you not.  It helps to like blackberries - And I love blackberries. At only 40 calories and 8g of carbs,  it's got a bite and a wild tartness that will keep the kids away. Which is good news at roughly $2 a can.  Last week I saw Fee Cranberry bitters and immediately thought of adding it to Bing.  It's amazing.  Four healthy shakes of  Fee, since I'm such a bitter man, and I swear there's vodka in there.  

And since the Friday belt - sans hooch - can't include a belt, I dug out the Reindeer braces. In the seven or so years I've owned them, they've been worn to three Christmas parties where they stayed under a jacket.  No one knew about them  -- but I knew they were there… just like low back pain. If you see a grimace - offer me a drink.

16 December 2013

O'Toole On The Ould Sod by Gay Talese

Peter O'Toole, Esquire Magazine, August 1963, Photo by Brian Seed

"When my father would come home from the track after a good day," said Peter O'Toole, leaning against the bar, "the whole room would light up; it was fairyland. But when he lost, it was black.  In our house, it was always either a wake...or a wedding."

My Esquire, purchased from the double maduro - double corona chomping used magazine vendor on the upper west side, is yellowed and crumbly. Gay's profile of O'Toole, and it reeks of beer, cigarettes, whiskey and how I like to think I'd handle that kind of success at 31, can be read here.  It's a pisser of a story.

13 December 2013

It's the Seaplane, Boss!

It's that time of year again…  no, not Christmas… but that year... 1968.   It always happens -  Conservative and understated is kicked aside for wild color and free love.  Not that love has been expensive recently.  Ever date a 25 year old?  Twenty minutes into dinner and she's asking you to bed while taking a selfie and blowing in your ear.  Whatever happened to three dates?

The conservative and understated loved their mad dash of Go-To-Hell color on the golf course and at the resort.  But Seaplane Shirts are pitching a different color to a different customer.  There are shades of the '70s Disco Nik Nik but there's more of the  tasteful aesthetic you see in Findland's Marimekko and the bold block pattern of Souleiado from Provence.

Schuyler Brown's idea was to create colorful shirts for men to wear to work.  If you think about it, we're still in the Dockers, golf shirt and Cole Haan kilties thing with most men who don't have to wear a suit to the office.  That and the the rolled up denim, gingham, Red Wing look that I swear was borne from so many of today's designers watching Jethro Bodine from their play cribs.

Brown could have made the shirts in China and asked a couple hundred bucks but he had an even bigger agenda.  That is, to change how the retail model works.  A lotta people talk about it doing it but once they get a whiff of a 500%, 800% or even 1,000% markup -- Thanks to China -- They always come up with an excuse why they couldn't find a US maker.

By going direct, and buying last fabric remnants, Brown can have a shirt made and sell it, sans the retailer, direct to you while still making a profit.  We're talking $49 to $65 a shirt, and you can buy directly from Schuyler, or go to Amazon.com, who handle his inventory and where his shirts may also be had with free two-day shipping fro Prime customers.

Seaplane Shirts is hitting all my buttons.  Made in the US, tasteful and overboard all while doing business with as few hands in the middle as possible.  Schuyler told me a story of how, in 1917, his maternal grandfather inherited a plowline factory in N.C.  One day he saw a tractor and knew he was in trouble.  So he figured out how to braid rugs with a lot of the same equipment; for nearly 100 years the company has made a substantial contribution to employment in Montgomery County.

I think Seaplane has seen the future as well.   Most men don't realize that's what happens when they buy an Alpha sized shirt for $250…But if they knew how much the mark up was, and most importantly, who was getting most of the money…Well, no man likes to be a chump nowadays --  Especially the guy who takes a girl on three dates.

Seaplane Shirts
Website Here
Amazon Site Here

09 December 2013

Peter Kaplan's Cover Story for M Magazine - November 1992

Click image to enlarge

As promised, here's Peter Kaplan's cover story for the last issue of M Magazine. Kaplan thought late night talk shows not only spoke to America but spoke for us as well. Kaplan's daughter sang Irving Berlin's, "What I'll Do" at his funeral. It seems fitting to include Bernadette Peter's rendition that aired on one of the last Johnny Carson shows back in April -- Oddly, the same year of M's demise.

08 December 2013

Hello, Death

Marty Feldman & Spike Milligan in The Undertakers from Marty Feldman's Comedy Machine

I've always been a dreamer. One of the earliest dreams I remember having was when I was 16 and having sex with Angie Dickinson on a bumper pool table. Lots of excitement and wonder but with plenty of anxiety and frustration. Ever have sex on a bumper pool table? It's not easy.

I've been thinking of death a lot lately. I had a dream where Dad and I are sitting at this rustic table on a hard scrabble hill overlooking an Italian village.  We're sharing a bottle of white wine and Dad's eating pasta. In front of us is Death. He's 10' or so and in the black hooded robe but instead of a sickle, he's got a hoe and he's chipping away at the hard dry dirt and digging up skulls. Each time he uncovers one, he picks it up and tucks it into his robe.

I hear a cell phone ringing and look at Dad who's slurping up pasta and ignoring Death. 'Is that you ?' I ask. Dad shakes his head without looking up from his bowl.  I look at Death and he reaches into his sleeve and pulls out a flip phone.

"Hello,"Death says. "Hello?...Hello?...Hello?"

Death shrugs and returns the phone to his sleeve. Death's mobile rings again.

"Hello? ... Hello?... Hello?..."

I turn to my father, "Death sure is a pain in the ass," I say.   Dad puts his fork down and looks at me, "No shit. "

04 December 2013

Clay Felker on Peter Kaplan

Click image to enlarge and read

Peter Kaplan, who told me he had no idea, wrote the cover story for the last issue of M, or as it was known by 1992, 'M Inc.' Clay Felker, Kaplan's friend, mentor & editor of M Inc., praised the TV obsessed Kaplan for the piece he did on David Letterman.

In describing Letterman and his gritty honesty, I always thought Felker was describing Kaplan as well -- Like Warren Oates doing Sam Peckinpah in, 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.'

01 December 2013

Peter Kaplan: A General Kind of Love

Peter Kaplan, A Civilized Man, November 1992

Peter Kaplan died of cancer Friday. He was 59.  A couple months ago,  I called him on his cell since he never answered his office phone.  He answered with a curious, "Hello?" I'm guessing because of the mysterious area code.

"Mr. Kaplan, this is John Tinseth and I don't mean to sand bag you on your cell, but I just wanted to let you know what was going on with the M book, and we're gonna make it an E book 'cause it was impossible to get in everything we wanted hard copy, and the proofs from the printer in China sucked, and we'd like to insert  filmed interviews in the E book with folks who knew and worked  on M, and since you wrote the last cover story, would you be interested in doing an interview?"

This was said at roughly the same speed and pentameter as Ralphie asking Santa for a Red Ryder  BB gun.  "Sure," Kaplan said,  "I'd be happy to help in any way that I can.  Just let me know when you wanna do it." Getting the firm order, I thanked him and said goodbye before he could change his mind and kick me down the slide. The second I hung up, that monumental exuberance, like a parachute opening, would change to paranoid dread as I wondered how I'd ever get Kaplan on the phone again, or,  if he even meant it.  This was New York City after all and people like Peter Kaplan had bigger fish to fry --  Little did I know what was going on...

From the NY Times obit, he had been diagnosed last Summer.  When I found out this morning, all I could think of, being the selfish asshole that I am, was what a gyp.  My first meeting with Kaplan was for a 3PM lunch in an Irish pub in April of 2012.

Peter Kaplan Mar 28, 2012

Dear John Tinseth,
Hi. We haven’t met—but I am a great fan of The Trad.
I would very much like to speak to you about M magazine and your new book—a topic of plenty of importance around here. Do you have time for a drink in the next couple of weeks?
Peter Kaplan
Editorial Director
Fairchild Fashion Media

We were meeting in his building lobby and at the last minute I grabbed an Observer from a news stand and spread it out in front me while crossing my legs on a Barcelona ottoman while trying to look relaxed.

"John?" he said.  I lowered the paper and saw him smiling.  I stood up and offered my hand --  Just to shake, but from what I knew about Kaplan, it was a proposal as well.  He wanted to talk about M Magazine and the book.  I wanted to work for the mother fucker.  I folded the Observer and tossed it on the ottoman.  Kaplan frowned and pointed at the pink paper, "You're leaving the paper?" "That's not a paper anymore…" I whined, "it's classified ads for real estate."  Kaplan didn't laugh but I saw a small grin.

On May 23, 2012, at 3:50 PM, "Kaplan, Peter"
wrote:  Just got out. Want to meet at Starbucks on Third and 47th? 

After that lunch, we'd get together a couple more times at a Starbucks around the corner and, never would I have guessed,  our last meeting in his office.  By then he knew.  We talked about a story I did on Charlie Davidson and the Andover Shop.  I could tell he didn't like it but he said it just needed a little tweaking.  I left feeling like I had let him down.  I also felt like a phony trying to be part of something I wasn't qualified for.  I still do. 

From: John Tinseth <the.trad@yahoo.com>
Date: November 12, 2012 11:10:13 AM EST
To: Kaplan, Peter
Subject: Cup a coffee for a Vet?
It's the only card I have. 
From: John Tinseth [the.trad@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 08:31 AM Eastern Standard Time
To: Kaplan, Peter
Subject: Fwd: Cup a coffee for a Vet?
On Nov 13, 2012, at 8:43 AM, "Kaplan, Peter" wrote:
Dear John I am so sorry. I have been out of the office a lot lately. Let us schedule a phone call. Peter 

We talked a handful of times afterwards but I never saw Kaplan again.  I wanted to.  Anytime I found myself close by his office and Starbucks, I'd hope to bump into him on the street.  It never happened but I could feel his presence walking that avenue ever alert for his tortoise shell glasses, khakis, blue oxford button-down and dusty foulard tie.

The Trad, never a financial success, has given me rich access to some of the most interesting people.  It's funny, but I think of the Army the same way.  I didn't make any money but I met men I will never forget. I don't think it's too far off the mark for Peter Kaplan to be my favorite general.  Like the generals I worked for, our relationship was not intimate, but it was about love and that's why some people can lead and most of us can't.