31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Photo by Martin Schoeller

"How can your evening be special if your clothes aren't."

28 December 2012

Esquire's Subliminal Seduction

When I was 12, I had a cousin who was a golf pro, somewhere on Hilton Head Island. He drove a white Porsche 912 (he wasn't that good of a golf pro) and was dating more women than James Bond.  I worshiped him. As an only child his parents kept his bedroom, just as he left it, sometime in his early 20s. Whenever we'd visit, I was lucky enough to get his room and his room taught me a lot.

A giant plastic bottle of VAT 69, holding what must have been over $299 worth of pennies, sat on the corner of a desk with a piece of glass covering snap shots of girl friends. Steel drum albums from the Carribean waited for me under bookshelves filled with paperbacks, a few dirty,  and piles of Esquire magazines.

I would sit on the edge of my cousin's bed and stare at the Esquire pages of adults living out their happening lives as steel drums danced from a Marantz receiver.  Booze ads were everywhere.  Large breasted women were everywhere. And everywhere people in Esquire smoked.  20 years later my ex-wife would rightly observe that my idea of being a man was limited to smoking, drinking and breasts.  She wrongly attributed this to Playboy. It was Esquire and... I've always been a leg man.

When I look back at old issues of Esquire, I see where my idea of manhood originated.  Those  old Esquires, smelling of dusty years that make me sneeze, still grab the 12 year old in me --still unsure of being a man.  Of having paid the right dues, made the just sacrifices and fought the good fights to hold  onto my character.   This'll  be my 55th new year.  I still don't think I write well. I know I can't balance a check book. I have no discipline.  There's an awful lot I know I can't do.

But when I look at the January 2013 issue of Esquire  -  I'm reminded of who I am. Sure, most of the smoking is gone but the booze ads are still there as are the large breast-extruded actresses who offer up what they find attractive in a man.  Happily, it's always for sale but I ain't buyin' anymore.  A watch isn't going to define me. Neither is the scotch I drink, the tobacco I smoke or pictures of girl friends under glass.

Having said all that -- I have no idea why I just bought a bottle of Old Crow. I should'a bought the White Horse.

27 December 2012

Riu Rui Chiu

I'll admit I was a fan but there were extenuating circumstances in 1967.  TV was allowed only during the weekend and the Monkees opened those TV weekends early Friday night. In retrospect, were they really that bad?  I don't think so. This video from a '67 Christmas special will support me...Or not. 

25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Three Kings Wood Block by Fredrick M Tinseth, 1969

22 December 2012

My Nuts: A Trad Tradition

I've been invited to a New Year's party. And I'm bringing my hot nuts (and the Golf Foxtrot). The guy having the party has some mighty fine nuts and his wife is a big fan of his nuts but I'm bringing heat this year. Real HEAT.

I've been going by the recipe in the 'Essentially Lilly" cook book for years. Well, ever since it came out in '04. Nice pictures of Lilly in that book. I swear I hit on her at the Conch House in St. Augustine, FL around 1983. She left me standing in the parking lot and waved goodbye as she drove off in a Rolls Corniche. I'm not sure it was her but my heart tells me it was.

If you're going to a party this week - - I suggest you bring your own nuts. Here's a great recipe from Lilly P's book with my alterations:

Half stick of unsalted butter (I've done this with salted and unsalted - didn't seem to matter)

1/2 C of sugar ( Cut Lilly's half cup in half. Is that a 1/4 cup? I dunno)
1/4 C of water (Again, half it)
1 tablespoon garam marsala (double it)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or not if using salted butter )
3 1/2 C Pecan halves (Make it 4C)
Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and add the sugar, water, garam marsala and salt (or not) to the mix over medium heat while dissolving the sugar.

First posted 28 December 2009

For nuts with HEAT add-
1/2 tablespoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon chili powder

Reduce for a minute and dump your nuts in the sauce pan. Coat them as best you can. You may need help some help with this. Once coated, spread your nuts on a glass baking dish and pop in a 350 degree oven turning the dish every five minutes for 15 minutes.

After taking your nuts out of the oven they'll need to cool. But before they get too cool you'll need to scrape your nuts up and toss them in a bowl. Then you're ready to bring your nuts to the party. If you did this right -- people are gonna be saying some nice things about your nuts. Somebody might say, "Hey, how do you walk with nuts like that? And you say, "Lilly taught me. Just before she left me in the Conch House parking lot.

21 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: Badger Pubic Hair

 It looks like she has Buckwheat in a leg lock

Badger pubic hair, and underarm hair as well, are used to make shaving brushes.  Most of the hair comes from China where Badger is a popular dish.  The best Badger brushes are made in the UK where anachronisms make for viable business. And a brush shave, like the Yardley ad says, is still the best shave in the world. 

Yardley, 1960 (click image to enlarge)

The best pubic hair for your shaving brush is mostly white/silver tipped.  The darker the hair the poorer the quality.  Is that because the older gray haired Badgers have softer pubic hair than the younger and more coarse Badgers?  Could be.  I'm old enough to know I'd leave "Fuck" out of a book title.

Best Badger at George Graham

Something -  fuck yeah coarse - will set you back $50 or so.  Hair that's almost black belongs to a brush that bristles crudely against the skin and lacks the essential elegance that comes with wisdom, maturity and good taste. It's referred to, ironically, as 'Pure.'

'Best' Badger looks like a Goth girl's hair on Sunday morning.  Streaked in black and gray, it feels like a well traveled 50 year old man who eats and drinks too much.  Soft, warm and usually compliant...$150 - $200.

Finally, there's the snow haired old man known as 'Super' Badger. Look for Spencer Tracy gray. This is the best of the best and, like an AR15,  who knows how much longer it'll be around.  Costing between $300 and $400, the sting of price is offset by a lifetime's service. Most high end makers offer free repairs should you miss your shaving cup and dunk your brush in a tumbler of Scotch.

Check out Pasteur Pharmacy and Cambridge Chemists in NYC.  Art of Shaving?  They're everywhere...consequently, it's pretty watered down -  More mall than soul. More Dunkin' Donuts than Cafe Grumpy. More NASCAR than Formula 1. Gutsier than USA Today, Hallmark Channel, Bennigan's, well done steak, Miller Light, Men's Wearhouse, awesome, Dockers, Cole Haan Kilties, Cadillac, Bob Seeger, red zinfandel, Texas Toast, Tommy Bahama and all the rest of the mediocre crap that's served up everywhere in this screwed up...

20 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: Satan for the Stocking

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy (God). He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”  The Screwtape Letters 

There's a Playboy interview (Nov. 1985) with Klaus Kinski where the actor goes bezerk over highway signage:

"There is a sign that says, RIGHT LANE MUST EXIT. Right lane MUST exit! MUST! And I say to myself, MUST? Fuck YOU!"  

For me, this was an instant connection to Kinski. It's still there but mostly shows itself through a shallow disgust of popular culture telling me what I should like and most importantly buy.  That's why I'm so happy to discover the truffles of life. A restaurant, an oxford shirt, chinos or even an uncommon thought on a common subject. 

I wish I read The Screwtape Letters when I was 13.  It wouldn't have been an easy read. It's not an easy read now but there's an odd way correspondence between an elder devil (under-secretary), Screwtape, and his young nephew, Wormwood, have illuminated some simple ideas on how to live life...whether your Christian or not.  Screwtape suggests fashion and novelty are key tools to keep man from the Enemy (God).

"The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under."

Despite the formality of C.S. Lewis, it's exciting to watch demons manipulate man toward their goal.  Screwtape digs into the marrow:

"...He (God) wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it rightous? is it prudent? is it possible? ...if we can keep men asking 'Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time?  Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way history is going?' they will neglect the relevant  questions.  ...while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on." 

It's hard to think of a more contrarian view of God that operates in the positive. I say that assuming you're not related to Srewtape.  My own philosophy, 'God tells me what to do but the Devil's my secretary' touches on my own weakness --  giving up when the going gets tough.  

"The Enemy (God) allows disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavor. 
...the boy...enchanted...by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek.
...lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together.
In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing."

When I was 13, I asked my Dad if there was a God.  He took me outside, pointed to a sky filled with stars and said, "It's impossible to look at that and not believe there's a God."  When I asked why we didn't go to church anymore, he said he had changed his mind about some things.  This was only two years after he came back from Vietnam. But, he added, "If you remember only one thing...just treat people how you want to be treated." 

I've failed countless times but it seems impossible to give up on the Golden Rule.  Still, I'm not sure where I would be today had I read Screwtape when I was 13. Of course, I'm not sure where I would be if I had never read it. 

“Nothing...is strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is took weak and fuddled to shake off.”

19 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: Carroll & Co Cashmere Sweatshirt

Full disclosure-  I have a huge prejudice against most things California.  Whenever I see a Los Angeles address for a PR pitch, I delete it without reading it. Why?  Because I know it will have something to do with celebrities and I don't give a shit what sunglasses or t-shirt a celebrity wears much less what magazine cover they're gonna be on. What really amazes me is why so many people do care.

Carroll & Co Wall of Cashmere

John Carroll, third generation owner of Beverly Hills haberdasher, Carroll & Co., isn't all that crazy about naming his celebrity customers and that's refreshing.  The 48 year old self proclaimed traditionalist does want you to know that, while his tailored clothing (suits) business is down, casual sportswear is up. Way up.

Keep it simple

Unique, at least to me, is Carroll's cashmere sweatshirt.  Knitted in Hawick, Scotland, Carrol has been selling 32 colors of his contrarian cashmere for 30 years.  At $450, its become something of a collectable among his regular customers and I think it's over due for some East coat exposure.

Mama warned me about girls like Evelyn

Color selection is generous but I'd prefer white -- With jeans and dark brown suede paddock boots -- I think it's something Clint Eastwood's character in the actor's 1971 directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, might wear cruising Hwy 1 south of Montery in his convertible Jaguar with Donna Mills at his side and Jessica Walter waiting for them both in Carmel...Poor Jessica was robbed... robbed, I tell you,  from a Golden Globe by Jane Fonda in Klute that year...not that I'm, uh... into celebrities. 

Carroll & Co.
425 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Phone Orders:  (888) 331-9060

18 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: Film Producer in the USA

The usual suspects are all here;  scissors, measuring tape, buttons, chalk and cloth. What makes 'Men of the Cloth' unusual is the heart of the Italian tailors.  While Savile Row maintains an aloof distance and cool passion, Vicki Vasilopoulos allows us to see and hear men talk of tailoring as if it were a religion or a woman. This film could make a rock cry.

For 10 years, Vicki and her crew stitched together storia and are looking for money so finishing touches can be completed and the film released.  If you ever wanted to be a film producer - here's your chance. Check out your crew and all their hard work here on the film web site.  All you have to do, like most producers, is sign a check.

Vicki, through Kickstarter (site here),  has raised almost $11,000 of a $20,000 goal.  Donate $1,500 and you'll receive that associate producer credit.  For a $750 donation, Nino Corvato will custom tailor a pair of trousers. For a $1,200 donation, Martin Greenfield will make a suit.  There are plenty more incentives on the Kickstarter web site and I can't think of a better last minute Christmas gift.  The deadline is this Friday, December 21st, at 11:39 PM.

17 December 2012

Change Down Range

It was easy to fall in love with guns as as kid, and it didn't hurt growing up on Army posts.  In one of four high schools, I competed on a NRA rifle team and wore my father's shooting jacket from his years on rifle teams.  My first range, under the bowling alley at Ft Monroe, was peacefully dark and brightly lit at the business end with paper targets called the Canadian bullseye.

A wooden block with drilled holes held rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition for a single loading bolt action target rifle.  My father told me to ignore the target center and concentrate on grouping - five rounds per target - anywhere.  Only when I was able to closely group could I work on moving them, Kentucky wind-age style, to target center.

Never did get there.  At least no where close to the Old Man.  Still, I learned basics that held me in good stead on the basic training ranges of Ft Jackson where I qualified M-16 Expert - best in my platoon - second best in the company. I'm still proud of that but pride would fare far worse on the police academy range where I learned it's a rare marksman who is good with both long and short guns.

Couldn't hit the side of a barn with a S&W .357 and was even worse with a 9mm Browning Hi Power automatic. Still, there's something about a range.  Gun powder's saltpeter and Hoppe's No. 9 combine for a blue steeled cologne that I still smell on my hands despite not having been on a range in almost 20 years. The smooth slide of an oiled bolt assembly.  The clicked confirmation of a seated magazine.  A thumb pushed safety.  God, how I loved guns.

I left the range a long time ago but passionately argued for the right to bear arms with the understanding there were a lot of yahoos out there quoting the 2nd Amendment but always leaving out the detail of an 18th century "standing militia." Instead of school shootings, my childhood nightmares centered on a nuclear war and I spent 1st and 2nd grade diving under my desk in drills.  The drills stopped in third or fourth grade.  I guess some kids lost teeth or worse jumping under their desk while school admin types rightly wondered what the point of it all was -- What with an incoming squadron of Soviet ICBMs.

While I haven't owned a gun in over 30 yrs, as an infantryman and cop, who felt it a right for others, I used the image of a single man standing in front of a T-80 tank in Tiananmen Square holding, what looked to be a plastic shopping bag, and told anyone who'd listen, "That crap'll never happen in my country."

But my country has never been invaded by Commies. Only by us.

Can our gun culture be changed?  Not sure it's the individual cowboy spirit as much as it's our competitive nature - economic and religious - that life is a zero sum game. In religion, there's no fun in going to heaven unless you know people are going to hell. There's no fun in being rich without people being poor and, in a very primal way, assault rifles, 30 round magazines, laser sights and 10mm Glocks... all fit right into zero sum. Kill or be killed.

Are we just arming a mad house to the teeth?  

13 December 2012

Christmas Party Sport Coat...

With party name tag

...Your Average Russian

"Not the brand of choice for your average Russian.  The problem with the Andover Shop is -- you have to have very good taste to appreciate how great their stuff is."  Michael M. Thomas

12 December 2012

Gideon by Paddy Chayefsky

Esquire, December, 1961
The Angel
"It is passion, Gideon, that carries man to God. And passion is a balky beast. Few men ever let it out of the stable.
It brooks no bridle; indeed, it bridles you; it rides the rider.
Yet, it inspirits man's sessile soul above his own inadequate world
and makes real such things as beauty, fancy, love and God...

Passion is the very fact of God in man that makes him other than a brute. I must own, Gideon, yours was an old and cold and settled soul, and I huffed and puffed quite a bit before I found the least flame of passion in you."

11 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: Caswell Massey Lime Line - Discontinued in the USA

Going, going...

J Press turned me onto Caswell Massey Lime.  Their house cologne, Press offered the lime soap and talc as well.  About three years ago the Press labeled stuff disappeared off the shelves and was replaced by CM labeled product.  About a month ago, CM confirmed they were discontinuing the lime line entirely.

If you're a fan, go to their web site and grab what you can get.  I received a private sale circular offering an additional 25% off the already discounted price. Looks like the cologne might already be history but the soap is still around. Use Code DPS12 when ordering on line or over the phone.

10 December 2012

Trad Xmas List: The Burning House - Blogged in the USA

Foster Huntington, Summer 2011, NYC

I used to pass judgement on dates based on their apartments.  An admission of my shallow youth.  Meet a girl, have a date or two... get invited back to her apartment.  Beyond the obvious: neat vs sloppy, religious vs artist, much was based on their possessions. A collection of "Precious Moments" figurines was reason for immediate flight.  Same with Unicorn snow globes.  At the other extreme was the gal who showed me four shotguns in her closet.  I've discussed my theory before about dating women who own firearms. Don't.

There were the more subtle cases.  A lack of character seen through rental furniture, empty book shelves and a small fortune of make up in the bathroom. I mentioned all this one night to Foster on the phone. Shortly afterwards he told me his idea for a blog about what folks would take with them if their house caught on fire.  Foster claims the idea came to him at a dinner party where friends discussed on-line dating profiles. Pride of authorship aside, I poo-pooed the idea thinking the 'hip' would use it to tell how hip they were rather than telling their real story.

I was wrong and Foster's book, The Burning House, has been published and his life has changed dramatically.  So much for my advice but I still think there's some of my dating experiences in this book. In fact, I find myself oddly attracted to women whose stuff I like while making all kinds of assumptions about the women I don't.  Tree huggers. Granola chewers. Small fortunes in make up... My shallowness has been hard to shake. Anyway, it makes for a great Christmas gift at just over ten bucks (here).  Absorbing as the web site but easier to browse around in that way you can with a book.  Buy a copy for your date.

Issues with ego and penis size

Tuva is from Sweden - I like Oddy and Pucci

Libby is calming although I have no idea why

What's not to like: Cut off jean shorts, Lucky's and contraceptive pills

07 December 2012

Christmas Tea

Lake Forest, IL 1995

My college journalism professor, Jack S Smith, was chief editor of the Associated Press in London during WWII and news editor for the Today Show until his retirement in 1980. I was photo editor of the college newspaper and D-76 pumped through my veins. It was one of my career fantasies to be a photojournalist... complete with safari jacket and a couple black bodied Nikons hanging around my neck and a Lucky Strike hanging outta my mouth.

We were discussing ethics in journalism one day when I asked Jack what purpose was served by sticking a camera lens in the face of a grieving mother who lost her son in a tragic accident. Jack said it was news and that years after the initial story, that image would still be around... telling its story.  I thought of Capa, Weegee, W Eugene Smith and other photographers who had to stick a lens in a grieving face and I understood Jack. I also understood I didn't have that ability. 

Years ago, I was asked to take photos of my mother in law's Christmas Tea.  And long after the tea...the images are still around.  Haven't had any hits Googling, "Christmas Tea Photographer Job" yet, but I'll keep trying.

06 December 2012

Tie Pun Unlined

Man goes into a restaurant. Maitre'd stops him.

"Sorry sir, you need to wear a tie to enter".

Man goes back to his car. Looks around. No necktie. Man takes jumper cables, wraps 'em around his neck and ties a knot. Man goes back to the restaurant. Maitre'd stops him

"Well, you can come in...Just don't start anything."