31 March 2008

My Trad Dad

He's on the far left. With the Ballantine can in front of him. Vietnam- circa 1967. A quiet, no bullshit, Green Beret, A Team Leader in the Central Highlands. A fan of movies. Especially, The Wild Bunch. His favorite quote from Pike Bishop, "When you side with a man - - You stay with him. And if you can't do that you're like some kinda animal. You're finished. We're all finished." Abso-fucking-lutly.

He's not really a Trad. You'd never see him in a bow tie. Although, he was fond of short sleeve Madras button downs. Bleeding Madras of course. A Rolex Explorer he purchased in Vietnam for $200. A Randal Attack Survival he gifted me when I joined the Army. Along with a French Foreign Legion Para Jacket. Those Army issue glasses are certainly Trad but this man is hard to label.

A career Army officer, he was also an artist. Two paintings of his are in The Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC. He experimented with oil paint on strings of firecrackers and subscribed to the Evergreen Review.

At 16, I earned my third degree brown belt in Judo. I told him over phone and he told me when he was in a wheel chair he'd be able to kick my ass. Adding, "I'll bite your adams apple out and spit it in your face."

He's very sick now. I love him dearly.

24 March 2008

Surplus Ersatz at Bergdorf

I stand open mouthed at the article of clothing above in the Polo Department at Bergdorf Goodman. A sales clerk approaches.
Clerk: Isn't that a great looking jacket?
Me: Actually, I think it's obscene.
Clerk: (With a, "Oh, shit." expression) Uh, well. Why is that, sir?
Me: They're knocking off uniforms. That ain't right.
Clerk: You know, I asked my manager if we've ever had complaints and he said, no. Maybe if we were in West Virginia it would be different.
Me: Why is that?
Clerk: 'Cause they're more patriotic than New Yorkers I guess.
Me: You know, some men died wearing this stuff. Don't you think it's a little...I don't know...
Clerk: No, I know what you mean. Still, no one complains. You're in the minority.
Me: I guess so.
Made in China by the way. By Communists. Odd that.

17 March 2008

Airborne Trad

I'm walking up Lexington Avenue when I see these in the Stubbs & Wootton window. The old Airborne, "Death from Above" logo on a pair of linen slippers. The maroon beret signifies the Airborne or Paratrooper status. Oddly enough - - throughout the entire world. That's right. All countries signify their Airborne troops with a maroon beret. Nice to see the world can agree on one thing.

The skull is Death. And the wings are from US Army designed jump wings. Trad Airborne Slippers? No. They are not Trad. In fact, a Knish has a better chance at being Trad than these. I was in the Airborne and I find these repulsive. Those who will pay $395 for them in New York or Palm Beach will most likely have no idea what they are. The sales girl in NY certainly didn't know anything about them.

I find designer's impulse to "knock off" military patches and awards a lazy afront to those who "earned" them.

13 March 2008

More Yiddish than British

Contrast is everything. I can't stand matching. "You need to pick up the shirt in the tie." Old girlfriends were big on this. And they were wrong. You need contrast in clothing just like you need it in life. Six hours of a BBC miniseries can wear you down. Before you know it you're asking people to hold the lift. Asking where office drinks will be and telling your mates you're off to Spain to holiday for a fortnight with some nice Toddy you chatted up...

The Knish rides to your rescue. Hopefully, before all of your friends think you're an affected tool. I discovered the potato Knish during my first job outta college in NYC. I was looking for something in the morning that was cheap and would fill me up. The Knish off a Greek coffee cart fit that bill. After a couple of months in the city a nice Jewish girl showed me around. "Never eat Nova lox. That's for the Goyim. Always get Belly." And so it was...I learned about White Fish and H&H bagels. And I was taken here for a proper Knish. Are they Trad? Well, they are hand made. On Houston between 1st and 2nd.

10 March 2008

The Trad DVD

If you like Public Broadcsting (and what Trad doesn't), the BBC, amazing clothes and beautiful location shots, then buy or rent this DVD set of, "Edward and Mrs Simpson" (1978) with Edward Fox and Cynthia Harris. You'll never see wardrobe like this and Fox wears his so well. Smoking jackets galore, brown chalk stripe suits with suede shoes and shirt collars so high it boggles the mind. Double breasted suits fill this TV series to the gunwales.

Mind you...there's a lot of smoking in this. Cigars, cigarettes and pipes are all smoked with an elegance of the time. Americans who whine anout the "image" of smoking should avoid this DVD at all costs. It was shot on video and 35mm (I'm guessing) which gives it a unique look. Video for the interiors and film for the exteriors. And the exteriors are amazing. As are the Art Deco sets. A real mind blower all around. The story? Eh, it's there and you already know the ending anyway. So, check it out. What have you got to lose? Other than six hours...

04 March 2008

Trad German

While they even look good at the scrap yard (see below), there is something so beautiful about these cars when they've been cared for. The paint is so deep and the lines look like scupture. Why the Germans haven't taken their design genius for cars into clothing is a puzzle. They even came out with some pretty snappy uniforms a while back. Wonder what happened to the guy that designed them?

Trad Slippers

Trads use their own initials when going the monogram route. I'm not crazy about monograms on shirts. If you have to then something very small and discrete at the ribcage. Never script on the cuff. That's about as bad as it can get. I have my last name sewn onto my shirtfly by my tailor, Frank. But slippers scream out for a monogram. Not R.L. but your own. These are Shipton & Heneage. Not Lobbs. Hell, not even E. Green but they work. Worn at home with the rare venture outside in summer with tartan bermuda shorts and a white polo sans any logo. They do get looks. Even on 57th Street. I do wear these with a dinner jacket which explains why they're a little beat up. But beat up is very Trad.

03 March 2008

Trad Italian

You know... I could watch this a hundred times. Is there anything Trad about this? I don't know and I don't care. I'm an Anglophile. And this makes me an Italiaphile. I wanna meet her in an Alfa Romeo outside of Lucca and just listen to her roll her r's with the top down. The guys at the bar are Trad. Love the glasses on the short one. But Mina stole my heart a long time ago. Ciao.