30 June 2014

"I'm Gonna Die…" Part I

Same bike at Ft Bragg - Post Beatles - Sans Peace Symbol

The first bicycle appeared in the garage of our quarters on Ft Sill. Red with white trim,  it had what might be termed today, "a hipster aesthetic" in that it was clunky, void of all frills and extremely utilitarian.  Which is to say, in 1962, it sucked.  What it did offer, on an army post,  was freedom and an extended range.

I was found on the business side of an artillery range by the MPs with a friend who showed the way. We were walking around mostly desert with tumble weeds when we saw a large unexploded round circled by white engineer tape.  And another and another. 

Even at seven,  I was thinking we might be in over our heads and was secretly relieved when the MPs showed up -- After a brief and friendly interrogation I would have the time of my short life riding home in an open jeep with the wind blowing through my pre-Beatles crew cut.  My mother could only say, "Wait until your father gets home" over and over.   

There is a unwritten law for military brats and it's this, "Whatever you do is a direct reflection on your father and his career.  Drugs, black market, shop lifting in the PX, wearing long hair & peace symbols…the list goes on.  This law eases up when living off post but when then neighbors see you being driven up to your home in a MP jeep…there's not much room to hide.  

I was in the tub playing with a battery powered scuba diver when I heard the front door open.  Until I heard the door, I was a blissful million miles away in a seven-year-old attention span.  The scuba diver in the tub.  The monkey banging cymbals in my head.  All of it came to a dead stop when the door opened and I knew…without any doubt, I was going to die.  

29 June 2014

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch, 2004

Merde, time flies.

19 June 2014

Turning Lemons Into Friends





One of the things I like about Arthur is the distance he's managed to travel so far off the reservation. Unashamedly original, Arthur Lhermitte is the owner of Striiiipes, a small on-line shop in Paris.  I've written about Arthur before and I believe he stands on the firmest ground when it comes to matters of taste - without being pretentious - while being just a little crazy. No small feat. Unlike the Chinese who have very small feet. Why is that?

This pocket square (I rarely wear pocket squares, or tie bars, or dental floss around my wrists) is one of three (Pico, Tonic & Peps) echoing vintage fruit wrappers back when fruit was important enough to be have a wrapper of its own. It's a voile-like silk perfect for Summer. So light it almost seems to fly away in the pocket.

Perfect for an unlined blazer of hopsack or a linen jacket and open collared shirt. It would make a great gift when someone least expects it. Not for father's day or a birthday but just because… Give one to an old friend you recently pissed off. That's the title of the post, you know; "Turning Lemons Into Friends." Life's too short to hold a grudge that can be gotten rid of for a lousy 36 Euros. Although, I may not have enough to buy for the Chinese.

08 June 2014

Ska Sunday



Sundays are my SkaDays. Missing Words by The Selectors. Under the radar but a sone cold classic. It went well with a Bloody Mary, side bacon sandwich and packet of Silk Cuts -- Purple or yellow depending on the size of hangover.

05 June 2014

Who's Hotter?

Trad Pinup, Mary Louise Drysdale, Interior Designer and Antiques Expert, 9/2000

A Life ago, my Ex and I came close to buying an antiques shop.  And while I don't suggest, "On the Job Training" in antiques, it was what we were about to do.  A warning sign came a year later from the infamous dealer, Tom Devenish who, when I asked, "What's new," replied, "That fucking Pembroke table in the corner."  Innocently, we began by taking a week long American antiques course at Winterthur.

On the second or third day, folks in the class were getting comfortable and questions for the instructors increased.  Most were not general but personal, "I have this 18th century toile …" sort of thing.  About this same time the marriage was not going well.  My wife and I constantly argued and she suggested that my interests were in younger 20-ish women.

The Ex was making the 'younger woman' point in class when an older woman, well into her forties and sitting next to an even older woman in her fifties, raised her hand.  They were both wearing needlepoint slippers, khakis and button downs.  A frosted blonde bob topped the hand raiser who asked,  "What would the humidity in Palm Beach do to the veneer of a Chippendale tiger wood mahogany chest?"  As the instructor answered, I leaned to my wife and whispered,  "That's the kind of woman you should worry about."

02 June 2014

Beautiful Bullshit


The French Foreign Legion, 1984, photographed by John Robert Young

I heard the platoon from my back yard.  40 men in white t-shirts, green fatigue pants and bloused black boots.  It was 1965 and I was eight years old.  I raced from my yard and caught up just as they turned left onto Sunchon Street in the Ft Bragg housing area called Hammond Hills.  I ran behind the platoon for a block or so before there was a sudden down pour.  The platoon sergeant lead the men under an empty carport, barked an order I didn't understand and everyone relaxed and lit up cigarettes.

I was mostly ignored as Zippos snapped around me.   One young black soldier smiled and I smiled back.  He lit a cigarette and stuffed the bright green pack of Salems back in his trouser pocket.  I don't remember talking.  Him or me.  But I see him clearly in my memory.  Tall, he was built like a "V" with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.

The rain let up and the run continued.  I ran behind my friend for a while but saw the border of Hammond Hills, shouted goodbye and veered off towards home.   I'll never forget that day or that soldier or the feeling I belonged… safe in the platoon.  I see it in my mind as a black and white photo on high contrast paper.  The black of the boots and bright white t-shirts…all in four straight lines.  My home... running away from me.  Ten years later I'd enlist.


01 June 2014