It goes without saying that an interview of me -- on my own blog -- screams of a pretentious ego that I find so annoying on other blogs. Stewart Voegtlin did this interview for Playboy. They never picked it up. There were questions about the German Shepard. If Stew had gone to Penthouse, I might have my own column there.
What moves you to write?
It makes me happy. Damned little does nowadays.
How much of your fiction is fiction and how much it truth?
I’m not sure I’ve ever written any pure fiction. Other than some awful screenplays. Sure, there’s the occasional compression of time or character but it’s rare. I took a Summer writing class at Ragdale outside Chicago, and the instructor called me a gentile Woody Allen. That was more than 10 years ago so I think it was about my writing and nothing else.
What’s a good first question to ask you?
What’s my favorite sandwich — A turkey and Emmenthaler Swiss on dark rye with lettuce, Dijon mustard and very ripe tomatoes. A little salt & pepper. Eaten on a beach in late afternoon with a cold beer in a red solo cup.
Why do you think folks have such a hard time differentiating “preppy” and “trad?”
Because they’re hard at work taking care of kids and trying to keep their head above water in this cruddy economy. Who has time anymore for this sort of nonsense? I only do ‘cause I don’t play golf.
Ever get exhausted by it?
Not at all. When I was a park ranger, other rangers complained how little Americans knew of their own history. Well, it was our job to learn and communicate the history of national parks to visitors. I’m sure visitors knew more about accounting practices than I did.
How early on were you aware of the difference?
About 10 minutes out of the womb. I don’t know. There comes a time in a man’s life where you finally understand the whole, less is more, thing. Understatement becomes important once you know loud — any kind of loud — is the worse. That’s not to say you can’t be loud with your friends far from the office. That’s about fun and being ridiculous. And, you’re friends will understand that’s the asshole in you. But in the city, you don’t wanna draw too much attention to yourself. Your fly might be down, or unbuttoned, whatever the case may be.
Did Wallace Stroby (crime fiction writer & college roommate) always wear black?
Always. Still does except for an old shit-brown corduroy sport coat he’s owned for 30 yrs.
He ever make fun of your clothes?
Always. And my music. And my cars. And my books. And my blog. But never my food or wine. He always keeps his mouth shut when he’s eating at my place.
Why did you start “The Trad?” Did you have a preconceived idea of where you were going with the theme?
I wanted to knock off Schumanns’s Sartorialist, but with pics of people in Northeast Florida and New York City. I just lacked the courage to photograph people. Not in NYC but in Florida. Men don’t have much of a wardrobe or a sense of humor in Jacksonville.
Have you stayed true to that notion?
Obviously not, but it all worked out. I just have no idea where it’s going. I never have and that’s why I do it.
Who/what poses the largest threat to “trad” today and why?
With the understanding that ‘trad’ is Japanese for traditional — because the Japanese couldn’t pronounce ‘traditional’ — then trad isn’t going anywhere. It’ll always be around. It has always been around. Just not easy to find.
However, long after work wear and lumber jacks have disappeared from Brooklyn, “Trad” as a fashion “get” via Gant, Hilfiger, Rugby, etc..is probably already over in NYC. Give it one more year to reach and leave Ft Wayne and you’ll be scraping it off the outlet mall floors in another year.
In 2015, Brooks Brothers will celebrate 100 yrs in their 44th St location. In 2018, they’ll celebrate their bicenntineal. I truly hope they have their stuff together by then ‘cause it could make for a helluva party if they do it right.
And do you think Ralph Lauren thinks he/”his” clothes are “trad?”
No. He thinks they’re RL. Anything he’s been inspired by is RL. Which is why he thinks everybody steals from him.
Pink is to green as ______ is to_______?
I’m gonna ignore this one.
The Trad has more to do with authenticity than anything else, IMO. This extends far beyond Brooks and Weejuns and when a bow tie is more than a bow tie. What does authenticity mean to you and why do you consider it important?
For the same reason you don’t go through life wearing ill fitting underwear. Life is too short. I can’t believe 1992 was 20 yrs ago. It went by so fast. And in another 20 yrs, which I’m told will go by even faster, I’ll be 76. Why put up with overpriced (and it always is) soulless crap when there’s honest affordable beauty all around us. You just have to look for it and it ain’t at the mall or in GQ.
How did your dad’s service figure into your army experience and what do you think you took from it?
It was the family business. My grandfather retired a Sergeant Major in the early ’60s and the old man retired a Lt Colonel in 1975. I enlisted in 1976. Problem was, I didn’t wanna kill anyone. I enjoyed being airborne infantry. Jeeps, M16s, jumping outta C 130s - all of that. I just didn’t have what it takes to kill another human being and that makes for a lousy infantryman.
What was more of a pussy-magnet, working at Brooks Brothers or as a Park Ranger?
Neither. Can I say neither?
Do you recall your…
Ft Bragg NCO club. Beefeater up with olives. It was 1979 and Brubeck’s Take Five was being piped into the dining room. I had just made buck sergeant and was eating the Friday night club special. A NY strip, salad, baked potato and veg with one cocktail for $6.99.
First blowjob? (on the receiving end, at least)
Whew, I thought you were gonna ask me about the first time I jerked off a dog. (German Shepard, Huntersville, NC 1969)
First kill? (animal, vegetable, mineral)
A bass from my great grandmother’s pond in Lincolnton, NC August - 1964
First bloody steak?
That’s the only way the old man would grill a steak. So, I’m guessing 20 minutes outta the womb.
First public humiliation?
I shit in my pants a lot when I was in first grade. They’d put me outside on the curb and I’d wait for my mother to come pick me up.
First bespoke suit?
40 minutes out of the womb.
Hand rolled Bugler when I was nine in the crawl space under a house in Chapel Hill, NC. Same age, my father allowed me to smoke cigars. Windsor claro wrappers from the drug store. He’d make me smoke them sitting on a toilet seat with the fan on. He’d watch. I’d get sick.
Ever miss smoking?
Not so much — I do miss watching women smoke in bars. A woman blowing out a thin stream of cigarette smoke followed by the sip of a cocktail. Man, that’s an amazing thing to watch and it’s gonna become as rare as dipping snuff — Which is not so much fun to watch.
What’s on your bedside table?
Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States and a 1973 Penthouse magazine.
Mandy Pepperidge or “Katy?”