30 April 2010

Off My Back: Pink & Green & Rose'

A unique pink & green

Maybe too unique

Not so great pattern matching

Best to hide it

Shetland Label

Shirt Label

My favorite label

The sister plaid to the Winter acorn. Again, made by Individualized Shirts and a fabric Wright & Simon owner, Len Simon claimed no one had ordered in donkey years. Picking shirt fabric from small swatches is a tricky (and expensive) business. It helps to select from bolts but we're not all hanging out on the second floor at Charvet.

I like the shirt but it reminds the Golf Foxtrot of something Eddie in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation would wear. "Clark, that's the gift that keeps on giving." Once again, Individualized came up short on the pattern matching. The front placket is off although not by much. Still, I'm hard pressed to find this problem with 'Made in China' shirts. I'm not talking sleeve to yoke matching. This is the front placket for Pete's sake.

Anyway, I hid it. Pretty darned well I think. These last few brisk days shuffled with occasional balmy afternoons require a wool sweater or two be left in the Spring closet. This pink Andover Shetland takes that plaid down a notch or two from Eddie's closet in the R.V. and puts the look square in Clark Griswold's realm. I always thought Sparky was a pretty good dresser.

There's been some grumbling about the MIA status of hooch around here on Fridays. To that end, here's a vintage Rose' from a wine maker who knows hand made from schmatta. The 1998 Vina Tondonia Rose' hails from a Spanish vineyard where wine is still made like it was in 1877. No chemicals, pesticides or machines. Harvesting? By hand. Racking? By hand. Barrel Making? By hand. I think $25 is a more than fair price for all that.

There's a fruit forward punch to this Rose' that'll knock you off your keister if you drink it too warm. This really needs to be chilled and kept that way so make your pours small. Nice with some almonds and olives on a Saturday afternoon. Even better with a marinated flank steak and red skin potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary. Hell, who cares about pattern matching - - just get me to the weekend.

29 April 2010

A Man's Movie: OC and Stiggs

"If we could combine really loud noise with the ugliness of poverty, we'd have the ideal car." Mark Stiggs

When I first thought of doing, "A Man's Movie" O.C. and Stiggs was the kind of film I had in mind. No, that's wrong. O.C. and Stiggs was the film I had in mind. Every woman who has sat down to watch this with me hated it. And not just hated it but found it so annoying and stupid that I'm reminded of how a lot of women react to The Three Stooges.

Shelved in 1984 and released direct to video in 1987, Robert Altman took a lotta criticism for this and that's a shame because no one ever saw it. Wildly confusing on first viewing, it veers every damned where. It pokes fun at just about everything 'middle-class-white-watusi' including insurance agent, Randall Schwabb, whose company motto is, "Misery loves our company." It's totally unpredictable and maybe that's why women hate it. Safe and sound is put to the test through the insanity of this film.

A college buddy, Jeff, introduced me to O.C. and Stiggs via National Lampoon Magazine. There were a number of different stories but, "The O.C. and Stiggs Guaranteed Method of Porking the Vice President's Wife" in the June 'Do It Yourself' issue of 1982, gives you a taste for the concept.

Jeff had a movie poster in his dorm room for the obscure underground hard core film, "Cafe Flesh" with the sub title: "Post Nuke thrill seekers looking for a kick." After dumping Jeff, his ex girlfriend tried to make nice at a college dance and asked if he would like to dance. Jeff replied. "On your grave."

Jeff found a 1961 Lincoln Continental for $500. Five of us were going to split the cost but a $1,500 exhaust system would be needed for the car to pass state inspection. Our dream of living a scene from O.C. and Stiggs, "Utterly Monstrous, Mind Roasting Summer" (Oct 1982) was not worth $400 each.

Riding in a friend's Mustang convertible, Jeff found it impossible not to sit on top of the back seat and wave. 25 years later he's still certifiable. When I introduced him to a business colleague a few years ago over lunch - the unsuspecting underwriter asked, "So what do you do?" Jeff deadpanned, "I work in the adult film business." Never invite old college friends to business lunches.

This cast is pretty damned amazing. Tina Louise, Cynthia Nixon, Jane Curtin, Ray Walston, Dennis Hopper, Lois Nye, Melvin Van Peebles, Bob Uecker, John Cryer and Martin Mull in one of the most bizarre roles and yet he's pitch perfect... like it was written for him. King Sunny Ade rounds the whole thing out (and is a major plot point) with an amazing soundtrack. Hey, is it true Ade's US tour has been cancelled?

Look, I'm not gonna BS you -- This film is an acquired taste. But just like Tripe, try it 10 or 20 times and you may find it grows on you.

28 April 2010

Docker's HQ

Docker's Book
Docker's Shirt

Docker's Pant

Docker's Colors

Docker's Ties

Docker's Belt

Docker's Cube

Scenes in the corporate New York offices along with a book I stole and a sport jacket I'm going back for.

27 April 2010

Statue For Boston Thrifter Unveiled In NYC

Rains in New York City didn't damper the spirits of the crowds who came out for the unveiling of the Giuseppe statue in Central Park yesterday afternoon.

The only statue to honor a thrifter (from Boston no less) shows Giuseppe in a frock coat and a pair of cavalry twills he found for $6.84. The smaller statuary represent the Salvation Army (left) and any Episcopal Church with a thrift shop in the basement (right). In the crook of the left arm is the thrifter's Holy Grail, a used Henry Poole Covert Coat from Savile Row circa 1967.

Following the afternoon's unveiling I was able to chat with the great man himself over an adult malt beverage at a stylish midtown brasserie. Looking dapper in a free shirt and and .99 cent tie -- Giuseppe was clearly humbled by New York's recognition.

"To tell you the truth, I hate New York and all the jerks in it but they sure know how to make a guy feel at home. I mean, what are the chances of me ever getting a statue in Boston?"

Well said, Giuseppe. You would need a great coat, a pair of breeches and a tri corn hat. Not to mention a musket. Prae Omnia Fraternitas

26 April 2010

Danny Meyer Dictionary

NY Times Metropolitan Section (25 April 2010)

When I was 14, I asked my father why we didn't go to church. His sister was a nun and his parents were very religious. So much so, I remember whenever my grandparents visited the three of them would go to Mass leaving me, my sisters and mother at home. I wasn't complaining but we were living in the deep south at the time where everybody went to church and I was feeling like a sinner.

My father took me outside and pointed at the night sky. He told me it was hard for him to believe there was not a God when he looked at the stars (I was confused). I remember he put his hand on my shoulder (even more confused) and still looking at the sky told me if I ever wanted to go to church he would take me.

And then he said, "I'm not sure people need church as much as they need the Golden Rule." "What's that?" I asked. He looked down at me, "That's where you treat other people the way you want to be treated." Not long after this conversation I found myself running around my neighborhood late at night with some friends. A car was parked on the street and the driver's window was down. It was trash night and a garbage can temptingly sat next to the car.

Someone said, "Let's dump that trash can in this idiot's car." It sounded like a great idea. But then the Golden Rule hit me. I objected. Someone said, "Why not?" "Because," I said, "I wouldn't want someone to dump a can of trash in my car."

I'm not sure you need all of Mr Meyer's acronyms up there but they can't hurt.

24 April 2010

Rockingham Dragway, N.C. 1977

The Summer of 1977, I rode along to Rockingham, NC with two army buddies, Bob and Jim. They were really into drag racing. I had a new Yashica Electro 35mm which set me back a half month's pay at the Ft Bragg PX. It was hot and loud and I complained a lot. It would appear I was also underexposed.

23 April 2010

The Friday Belt: Mille Miglia

Don't need to be rich to drink this wine...

although it would help to own this car

Banging 12 on my aesthetic meter - Lancia Aurelia Coupe

This lanyard is screaming to be made into a belt

Mille Miglia cook book (good luck finding it)

Banjo steering wheel

I wanna marry her

Cabbage, percorino cheese and milk? Is anyone in Umbria lactose intolerant?

I love that 1952 Lancia Aurelia Coupe. Red like the color of the Propriera Sperino Rose.

Can anything nail all the aesthetic senses like the Mille Miglia? It's Italian. It's a race (sort of). Lots of beautiful cars. And bars. And restaurants. And Italian food. And Italian girls. Even a beautiful Italian cook book. It's an over saturation of style and fun. But they don't have a belt. Gotta have a belt. That lanyard would make a beautiful ribbon number with black leather bridle and red canvas backing ala The Leather Man. Maybe needlepoint?

When I'm thinking about the Mille Miglia it helps to have a chilled Italian Rose. This stuff is on sale ($16) at Moore Brothers (NJ, DE, NYC) and it's a lot like the Castello di Ama Rose...A big wine unlike a lot of rose that reminds me of Bud Lite. It'll stand up to a grilled steak and works great with an Italian glazed chicken.

So take the Brioni off and put the Puccini on. Crumble off a hunk of parmesan reggiano. A little crusty bread, olive oil and some prosciutto. I take a cold sip of Rose and dream of driving the Mille Miglia in a Lancia. Maybe change my name to Tony. Just to hear an Italian woman say, "Ciao, Tony! Buena fortuna!"

22 April 2010

Off My Back: New Old Stock

O'Connell's Clothing in Buffalo is well known to the cognoscenti as one of the few purveyors of honest and true Trad apparel. With Quoddy back ordered to God knows when - - I found a pair of Quoddy Camp Mocs ($175) at O'Connells and they were a shade under the Quoddy price ($209) to boot or to moc.

I check their web site every week because I'm sure as Hell not driving to Buffalo. Just last week I found something amazing. New Old Stock of Brooks Brothers shirts. I first heard someone say "piss shiver" when I was in the army. I swear I had a piss shiver when I saw these.

Bang the 1-800 and Ethan answers. Ethan always answers. "So what's the story on the Brooks shirts?" Ethan explains O'Connells was one of eight or so retailers who had a Brooks "store in store" concept from the late '80s to the mid '90s. They sold suits, ties, dress shirts and polos. I ask the big question, "Those Brooks shirts you have on your web site - - Are the collars lined?"

A quick primer. Unlined collars are very important to the obsessed Brooks Brothers oxford fan and here's why. It was that detail of a sloppy looking collar that actually made the shirt. In much the same way the bagginess did and still does. It is - - 110% American. Actually, it's North American but that's another story.

"Unlined" says Ethan. Pull out wallet, credit card, bing, bang, bong. Two days later it's here. A pink - I ordered pink - I haven't seen this pink in years. Softer in hue and almost peach when you hold it up to a recent purchase. Amazing.

Maybe it's better. Maybe it's not. The collar is 3 1/4" compared to 3" today. The shirt tail hits 33" compared to 32" today. But oddly the weight (on a kitchen scale) pegs the Old Stock at just over 11 ounces while the new oxford weighs in at just under 13 ounces. Odd that. Ethan thinks they were made in the early '90s somewhere in the south. Maybe Alabama but don't quote him.

If this interests you -- give Ethan a call. Chat him up and give it a go. No discount from this blog. I paid full freight - - so will you. But these little opportunities of history are hard to find in a world of J. Crew 'curatorial' washed horse pooh. You may wanna strike - - while the gettin is (a-hem) unlined.

21 April 2010

The Best Restaurant In Za Vorld

42 East 20th Steet - Just down the street from TR's birthplace

Empty table but not for long

It'll make you giddy
Update: Check out this NY Times Sunday Metro piece (25 April) on Danny Meyer's sharing his hospitality secrets through his new consulting business, Hospitality Quotient. Nice is Lesson 1.

I remember reading the NY Time's restaurant review of Gramercy Tavern when it first opened 15 years ago. I was on the commuter train to work in Chicago and it was a Wednesday morning. Had to have been. That's when the restaurant review ran. I don't remember who wrote it. Possibly Ruth Reichel but not sure.

What I am sure of was a B&W picture of two women sitting at a table framed by the simple letters of the restaurant on the front window. One woman elegantly tilted back a glass of white wine as if she was taking the very last sip. It was the sexiest newspaper photo I have ever seen. When I got to my office I called the Times and asked how I could buy it. The Times didn't really care about what I wanted - - but Gramercy Tavern does.

I haven't been in a better restaurant. It's rare I don't find something to bitch about but never here. Flawless and intelligent service by people who know the menu and are passionate about food - - not pretentious. Fantastic local and seasonal menus that change but always a pasta that melts in your mouth. Hell, even the nuts at the bar beat out what was once the premier nut dish of New York - The King Cole.

A wine list where I've been steered to what became magnificent obsessions of mine - - Sagrantino di Montelfalco and Domaine Serene Evenstad to name two. A room that is simple and elegant and not a stick out of place. I look up from my plate and see a famous actress and I don't give a shit. Any of the anxiety I brought in off the street melts out my feet. I am calm and at peace and I am happy. It's expensive but it's cheaper than therapy.

20 April 2010

Life With My Camera

Casa Grande Ruins - AZ 1992

Smokers - Colorado Springs 1975

Barracks - Ft Bragg - 1977

Girlfriend - Hampton, VA 1973

Drill Team - Hampton, VA 1973

Reflectos - Colorado Springs 1975

Social Studies - Colorado Springs 1975

Ride Home - Colorado Springs 1975

Couple - Colorado Springs 1975

Sisters - Hampton, VA 1972

Move - Hampton, VA 1971

Caca Fuego - St Augustine, FL 1983

Pinky - St Johns County 1980

Roommate - Ft Bragg 1976

SSgt - Ft Bragg 1976

Statue of Liberty - NYC 1984

Army Women - Ft Bragg 1979

Best Friend and his Girl Friend - Ft Bragg 1979

Hawk - Ft Bragg 1979

Tretorn- Essex 1986

Hay Street - Fayetteville, NC 1977

Suzy Wong Club - Fayetteville, NC 1977