29 May 2008

Trad Noir

I have an old friend who writes crime fiction. He also works for a newspaper. And he doesn't know a 7.62mm from a 5.56mm but he's a much better writer than I am. For years Wally has turned me onto some great books and some strange music. I'll save the music for another time but check his blog out here http://www.wallacestrobycom.blogspot.com/.

This book is outta print. Published in 1967, I can just see Trad Dad reading this in the Team House bunker as he sips at his can of Ballantine and flicks the ash off a hot boxed Marlboro.

In addition to being a brilliant writer...Wally or Wild East as he is known in some circles, really knows writers. He's interviewed lots of living ones and knows everything there is to know about a lot of dead ones. You could say it's his passion. He'll send me an interview on tape with a writer and the writer's new book. I call this "Wally Mail."

I thought it made sense to share this recommendation from Wally. It has one of those opening lines that grabs you right in the button fly area of your plain front khakis.

"Parker spent two weeks on the white sand beach at Biloxi, and on a white sandy bitch named Belle, but he was restless, and one day without thinking about it he checked out and sent a forwarding address to Handy McKay and moved on to New Orleans."

I spent four weeks in Biloxi and would have killed for a white sandy bitch but I sure as hell never thought of putting one in a sentence. Not like that one.


26 May 2008

Trad Memorial Day

Two great views. One outside and one inside.

The outside view: What's that old saying? Oh, yeah. "What do you call two boats on the water? A race." So, we had a race over the weekend. Lots of tacking and scrambling around on the deck. A beer. Sit on the bow. A beer. The captain thought beer kept his crew from getting nervous. Hence, the offer for a beer was stated as, "You nervous?" I answer, "Uh, yeah." And suddenly there's a cold beer in your hand. Lots to be nervous about in a boat race.

The inside view: That's the club house. They call it a Yacht Club but who's kidding who. We amble to the bar. And just as I'm ready to order another "nervous" I see a six pack of Barritts Ginger Beer. "Holy Crud!" I lean over to the bartender. "You have any Goslings Black Seal Rum?" He holds his arms out like he's Jesus and says, "Of course. Although some people like the Barritts with Mt Gay Rum." I reply, "They're philistines." We had a number of Dark & Stormies (Barrits and Goslings with lime). We won our class. And I calmed down.

20 May 2008

Trad Art

The very best Trad Art is - - Well, I once heard it perfectly described as, "It don't cost nothin'. " Yes, indeed. That would mean a friend or family member did it. By did it - - I don't mean they bought it. I mean they made it. We start with my Trad Dad and his oil painting with firecrackers. Brilliant.

I watched him as he did the painting above and numerous others. He'd take a long string of firecrackers and squeeze tubes of different color paint down the length. Tack the firecrackers under the seat of an old bar stool. Prop the canvas in front of it. Throw an old piece of carpet over the whole production. Reach under the carpet with his Ronson cigarette lighter that was engraved with, "Fuck Communism" (long story) and light the fuse. And there it is. Not bad at all.

When I lived in Chicago, I could've thrown a shoe out of my apartment window and hit 22 bars and restaurants that would've have paid a fortune for this. Or, I could have had an open tab for a month. Same thing. I'm not sure if I have it right side up. I'd ask my Dad but I don't think he knows either.

18 May 2008

Trad Orange & Green

Summer is about color. So is Fall, Winter and Spring but this is when you can knock it out of the park. Which reminds me...I work in sales and every manager I've ever had (except for a woman) used horrible sport metaphors (like, knock it out of the park) in order to motivate me so I could pay their mortgage. I'm not going there today. Maybe some other time.

I love Orange and Green. I must admit, I never gave it much thought until I saw, "The Tall Guy." Emma Thompson (hubba - hubba) played a nurse who was in a relationship with Jeff Goldblum. I think I speak for every woman in the world (or those whom I've dated), that Jeff is a creepy guy. Maybe. But I liked him in this off beat British comedy. Any screen writer who manages to insert a musical based on the Elephant Man is a genius in my book.

So, Emma tells Jeff on his first visit to her place, that her favourite colours are Orange and Green. You know, in that wonderful, clipped accent of hers. And then they have wild sex. That scene alone is worth the purchase of this movie. As I watch them having wild sex...I thought about the colors of Orange and Green. I think about colors at church. In meetings. Stuck in traffic. Anytime I'm really bored. Not that I was bored with the sex scene. It's pretty easy to follow.

Next comes the clothes hunt. Long story short... I have three orange shirts (two stripes and one check) and half a dozen green ties. What can I say, The Tall Guy was a long time ago. I bring this up for one major reason. Pink and Green. It's such a cliche now. Like owning a Lab and a Jeep in Lake Forest. Try out Orange and Green. Goes great with a Blue Blazer and khakis...even better, with white ducks and white (banged up) bucks. I'm not a big fan of the pocket square but if you are...leave it at home. This speaks pretty loudly. No reason to fop it up.

17 May 2008

God, Crab & Montrachet

Crab cakes and white wine. How's that for not burying the lead? But the details are very important. It must be the right crab. And that is becoming an issue. Fresh and hand picked, Jumbo Lump is getting expensive. But once you've tasted it - - nothing else will do. $32 a pound. If you can find it. Not as good as it was but better than it will be. NAG-AIW-BBT-IWB (TM).

Just a few years ago the season for crab (now) was met with these beautiful, clear containers nestled in chunks of ice. Oh, what a site they were. Some Old Bay Crab seasoning and a little mayo and you had a ticket to Nirvana. But it gets better.

Chassagne Montrachet figures into this in a big way. A white Burgundy that must have been created by God to pair with crab cakes. "Okay, I just created the crab." God wipes his hands. "Now, is'a time (I always think of God as an Italian) for the perfect a'wine to go with them." Poof! Chassagne Montrachet. God takes a bite of crab cake, "Oooo, thas'a nice. Nutty, clean, I taste'a the sea." God swirls his wine glass - - sniffs and takes a sip. "Oh, my God! Wait a minute. I am'a God." God takes another sip. This one is a little longer. God sighs and says, "Damn, I'm a good."

Chalk up another one for God.

We live in a world of entitlement. Every once in a while God slaps me upside my head and I remember to be grateful. Granted, this ain't cheap grateful. All in, we're talking a hundred bucks or so. But if you've lived in Nebraska your whole life...you probably don't know what I'm talking about. God would be upset about that.

Pickers, the people who do the very hard work of picking crabs have always been hard to find. They're getting even harder to find. Gas, which is getting more expensive, keeps fisherman from fishing. If you're not grateful now for this experience - - you will be in a year or two- - 'cause it may be gone. Pasteurized crab from Vietnam and Thailand will be our options. And God will not like that one'a bit.

16 May 2008

Ralph Lauren and the US Army

I came across these shorts in Florida. Now, I don't want to beat a dead horse but what is happening at Polo? I love their Madras shorts. I'm the proud owner of three Purple Label suits. If it wasn't for Polo a lot of wonderful Trad clothing would disappear. However, what is their obsession with Military inspired clothing during a war? Some designer has decided to take The Old Guard patch and sew it on the posterior of a pair of "Emergency Sustenance" shorts.

Who is the Old Guard? Ever see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? That's the Old Guard. The Old Guard buried my Grandfather at Arlington National Cemetery. Is this some one's idea of a joke? I'm a pretty liberal guy. Never voted Republican. Hell, I've worked on two Democratic campaigns but I'm not taking this crap anymore.

I have to assume since the people who serve in the military would never wind up a designer at Polo that some idiot did this while flipping through a book of unit patches and thought, "Wow, cool patch."

It's not just Polo. Someone out there saw the XVIII Airborne Corps unit patch and decided that it looked cool. They've sewn it on the right shoulder of a "puffer" coat. A unit patch on the right shoulder has some pretty heady meaning in the Army. It's the unit you served in combat with. I saw this coat at the corner of 57th Street and 2nd Avenue a couple months ago. I was with the girlfriend when I approached the young man wearing my old unit patch to ask him when he was in XVIII Airborne Corps. The girlfriend tugs at my arm and says, "Please don't." I replied, "What?" She says, "I know what you're going to do and I beg you...please don't. Not here."

So I didn't. But I'm gonna start. Fair warning to those of you who wear this shit.

07 May 2008

The Trad Woman

C.Z. Guest circa 1956. Man- O- Manischewitz. No dyed hair and nail extensions here.

Years ago in Manhattan (I should rename this blog, Remembering the 80's), I was walking with a friend and as we approached the Sherry Netherland Hotel I saw a woman exiting the lobby with the doorman leading and hailing a cab.

We were next to her when the doorman opened the taxi door. I'm pretty sure it was a Checker. Mid 50's in a Chanel suit with a short skirt. Hermes scarf. Her hair was up. Beautiful legs and the same face as C.Z. but just a little older. Walking by, I took off my Ray Ban Aviators, looked her in the eye and said, "I think I'm in love." She smiled at me and said, "I'd break your heart." She got in the cab and as the doorman closed the taxi door he looked at me and laughed...that NY kind of laugh. Like New Yorkers laugh when they see someone slip and fall on ice or fail as a hedge fund manager. You know what it sounds like.

Fast forward a lot of years to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. I'm in a class on early 19th Century furniture with the "then" wife. She had a thing for the Federal Period. I was always fond of the late 18th Century but that's another story. Has anyone figured out I use a template for writing these posts? No? Anyway, things were not the best between us then despite 13 years of trying and earlier in the day she commented that I would wind up with a wife in her mid to late 20s pushing a baby carriage in Lincoln Park and looking like all those other old farts in their 40's doing the second go around.

In the front of the class are two older women (mid50's) wearing embroidered slippers. One with Napoleon Bees and I can't remember what was on the other pair. The one with the Bees's, a perky blonde with a Bob'ed cut and a starched Brooks Brother's stripe OCBD-- unbuttoned one button too far says, "How will humidity affect the veneer of say, tiger stripe maple in a climate like Palm Beach?"

I leaned over to my then wife and whispered, "Don't sweat the 25 year olds. That..." I pointed to the Bees, "is what you need to worry about."

"The" Trad Catalog

Some months ago I discussed these very catalogs with a senior type from Press. He said they had found tons of them during the recent move from 44th St. I said, "You should gather them all up and publish them in a book. Same size as the catalog. Soft cover. It would sell like crazy." He looked at the floor and shrugged his shoulders. Couldn't be less interested. What was it Butch told Sundance? "I got 20/20 vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals."

These are from a great blog, The Continuous Lean. Go check it out. Some fascinating Charlie Rose interviews with Micky Drexler and Alan Flusser plus other Tradly items and pursuits. Go here: for more images and hi res scans.

06 May 2008

Not so Trad visit to Pinehurst

I was visiting the blog of Ms. Bunny Tomerlin when I saw these two images and had a flashback. Not the one you may be thinking -- I never played golf at Pinehurst. I didn't have G&Ts in the bar while wearing a Lilly P blazer. It was... different.

My last year in the Army I had a somewhat cushy job in XVIII Airborne Corps G-2. Still, I was an operations sergeant (E-5) and was in the field a decent amount of time with Warsaw Pact stuff. T-54 Tanks. BTR 60. A BMP. I later learned we were in violation of the Geneva Conventions but that's another story.

I was a short timer on my first enlistment. Had no desire to reup since they wouldn't assign me to the 504th Abn Regiment in Italy for six years... You're probably wondering what in the hell this has to do with Pinehurst and a Lilly P madras blazer. I'm getting there.

I was sent on a recon for location of a training area with all that Warsaw Pact stuff. Two of us are tearing around fire breaks in a jeep around Camp McCall... not paying particular attention to the map when we got lost. Anyone who spent time with me in the Army is not surprised to hear that.

I had the great idea to get off post and to go into Southern Pines and get directions at a gas station. I had a one over fifty thousand map and knew the locals could help. We wound up pulling into the driveway of the Pinehurst Country Club. I told "the" driver to wait and sauntered into the main entrance with my map case. A very nice man at the front desk helped me with my map and re-oriented me. I turned to walk out and saw "the" driver standing in front of the club's Pro Shop scratching his head with one hand while holding his Ranger cap in the other.

The driver points to a Madras Blazer proudly displayed in the shop window and turns to me. "What in the fuck is that, Sergeant T? " "That's a madras sport jacket, Mayne." Mayne was around 6' 3" and towered over me. He was a hunter and fisherman from the Midwest and had I listened to him we would never have gotten lost. "Two questions," Mayne asked, "One, who in the hell would ever wear that? Two, why in the fuck do you know what it is?"

Friends, family, co-workers, an ex-wife, a current girlfriend...they all want to know, "Why in the fuck do you know that?"

Trad Wedding

How often do you see the Stroller anymore? Granted, these look rented but who in their right mind is gonna buy a Stroller? A short morning coat, it was popular for day weddings some time ago. I say that because the last few weddings I've attended have been sartorial train wrecks. Tuxes at noon. Guests wearing dockers and golf shirts with sunglasses on top of their head. In reality, it is "her" day. So you have a good time anyway...and take notes.

Here, the groom was wearing a nice pair of black cap toes while the fellow on your far right wore black cowbow boots. He's a Hollywood screenwriter so go figure. The man on the far left wore a black suede-like running shoe. He's a crime fiction writer. Go figure again. The groom's father wore a beautiful pair of corrected grain paddock boots. Now, corrected grain is usually a big no-no but for this event it was perfect. According to Hardy Amies, he was the only one who nailed it.

05 May 2008

Southern Trad

If ever there was an icon of Southern Trad in the 80's it has to be Duck Heads. This unique brand is found only in the southeast. Popular in Georgia, Virginia and The Carolinas. Cheap, good quality and as cool as cool could be. These trousers hit my college campus in the early 80's and raged in popularity until the early 90's when there was a change in company ownership. And sure enough, some smart guy decided customers wouldn't notice the move off shore to Costa Rica, El Salvador and China. The Olive Ducks are circa 1989-90. Notice the detail of the sewing.

Still, what's not to like for $2.98? They retail for $40 but they're always on sale. I found the Breton Reds at a Goody's outlet. Best worn with cuffs and without socks. Blucher's if you have them and a button down oxford with surcingle belt. Grab a red plastic SOLO cup full of cheap beer and you're suddenly 21 again. Like shrimp and grits...they're all about comfort. Even though I always liked 'em starched.