30 November 2012

The Genteel Look at Menswear

Interviews with, G. Bruce Boyer, Marc-Evan Blackman (chairperson, FIT's menswear dept.) and myself   - Story Here

29 November 2012

M Mischianza

From left (reclining) Kevin Doyle; (center row) Lacey Doyle, Duncan Christy, Jayne Christy, Kent Black; (rear row) Christina Lynch; Mark Ganem; Kathleen "Kat" Butler, Margo Hammond, Lynette Cortez, Dennis Freedman, Tom Moran

From left (front row) George Chinsee, Steve Pomper, Dennis Freedman, Jayne Christy holding Elizabeth Christy; (rear row) Tom Moran, Kat Butler, John Jarvis, Kyle Ericksen, Malena Black, Kent Black, Kevin Doyle, Robert Bryan, Duncan Christy, Glenn Plaskin

This is only gonna make sense if you're at the Katie Murphy Ampitheatre on FIT's campus (Northwest Side of 7th Avenue at 27th Street) tonight at 6PM.  And even then...I'm not so sure. 

28 November 2012

Mixing Plaids

Brannoch Advertisement, Fall, 1989

Brannoch is long gone.  Owned by Plaid Clothing Group, Inc. and acquired by Hartmarx in 1996, it died under the watch of William Roberti.  Mixing plaid successfully is not child's play. Neither is presiding over Brooks Brothers under Marks & Sparks or shooting Duck Head with a .410 shotgun.  Today Roberti works as a public sector crisis management consultant. He must be doing something right.

23 November 2012

The Klansman

A well cast movie that sucks is like sex with a beautiful woman who doesn't. Looking for something to be thankful for? Be thankful you don't have to watch this.

22 November 2012

Favorite Thanksgiving Movie...

...not to mention the aerial photography. Happy Thanksgiving

21 November 2012

Clay Tompkins Launch: With The Grown Ups

Clay Tompkins launched his new US made menswear line (seen here) last Saturday night and I'm guessing there was at least $7,000 in baby sitter money on the floor.  Where have these people been for the last five years?  Obviously not where I've been.  That is, with their children in Red Wing boots, flannel plaid hunting shirts and rolled up selvedge drinking PBR at Capsule. 

It felt good to talk with grown ups again.  I didn't hear 'awesome' once.  No one brought a skate board, bicycle or a backpack.  No tattoos...that were visible.  Same goes for piercings. No ball caps.  It was actually...normal.   These are my people. 

Able to laugh without breaking into loud guttural guffaws.  Able to drink out of a glass instead of a bottle.  Able to talk while looking you in the eyes.  Able to shave. Able to afford socks.  Able to recall the Surf Club.  Able and willing to dance -- I may never go south of 14th Street again.

20 November 2012

Sterling Hayden: The Men We Are

I was 15 when I first saw Sterling Hayden in Dr Strangelove. His performance as bat shit crazy General Jack Ripper, not to be confused with Keenan Wynn's, Colonel 'Bat' Guano, seemed wildly over the top to me -- Until I went in the Army and met General Hank Emerson but he's another story.

Here's another obscure interview with Hayden on his live aboard barge in Paris. Hayden, like a lot of actors who served in WWII, seemed embarrassed by his success and would drop in and out of Hollywood whenever he needed money or his soul. Stoic about his military service in the OSS, critical of his home land, he was in the end, light years ahead of most.

I once worked with a retired Alaska State Trooper who reminds me of Hayden.  Full of insane stories, he had an independence and insight I respected. He told me, "It's not what a man is born with that makes him a man.  We're all born with more than we need.  It's what we lose and give up in our life that makes us the men we are.

Hayden wrote in his 1964 autobiography, 'Wanderer,' " ...we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.  The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

19 November 2012

Travel to Exotic Places, Meet Interesting People & Kill Them

Entrance to EOC, Ft. Bragg, 1978, Photo by D. Konop

The charge of quarters woke me at Oh-Dark-Thirty on 19 November 1978.  I was told the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) had been activated and I might not return for a couple days.  I walked the block and a half from the barracks to XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters and climbed three flights of stairs to a six inch thick vault door just to the right of the third floor landing.

Pressing the cipher lock  -  rocker switches numbered 1 to 5 and hidden behind a grey steel panel,  I pushed the EOC vault door open and walked along a dark narrow hall with darkened offices for 50 feet or so before it  turned sharply to the right and into a bright florescent lit room filled with steel desks and lined with maps, clocks, classified, secret and top secret cover sheets.

Cover Sheet

The duty officer, a major and a highly decorated helicopter pilot, told me US civilians had been attacked and killed by the Guyana Army. I sat at my desk as an operations assistant and was told I was one of the first to arrive while others were driving in from their homes on and off post.  The major handed me a telex with a Secret cover sheet stapled to it and told me he had a secure call to make.

I lit a Marlboro, tossed the match in an army issue glass ashtray and turned the cover page over. Following  the distribution of military and government offices, two paragraphs described how a US Congressman was shot and killed at the Port Kaituma airstrip along with hundreds of US civilians.  I remember thinking, "Why would the Guyanese Army do that?"

Port Kaituma Airstrip, photo credit: FBI

The EOC filled with men and talk of kicking Guyana ass and taking names.  The Airborne motto, "Travel to Exotic Places - Meet Interesting People - And Kill Them" was finally going to happen.  I was told by the ops sergeant that as infantrymen our lives as Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers (REMF) would soon be over and  we'd be re-assigned to a line infantry unit in the 82nd Airborne.

My stomach dropped just below my knees as I imagined coal black Guyanese commandos with machetes chopping my unprepared REMF ass into tiny bite size pieces and then fighting over my Rolex and boots.  At 20, I was a huge smart ass but I worked that morning without saying a word and wondered if I shouldn't leave my watch behind.

Time, December 4, 1978

It took almost four hours before a telex told the true story.  A US Congressman and five civilians, mostly media, had been killed at the airstrip.  The Guyanese, our enemy seconds earlier, were helping us and had reported 200 - 300 dead at a camp  of American farmers.  In another couple hours we learned it was mass suicide - Some 900 dead.  A G-3 officer wrote in red wax pencil over a Sortie board, "Operation Bag-A-Bod."  A call for volunteers went up to to assist 1st COSCOM with the body removal.  I called my father and told him I was thinking of going.  He told me not to and went into vivid detail as to why.

I learned a lot 34 years ago today.  I learned not to believe everything you hear or read.  I learned a an officer had his heels locked and his ass chewed over a Sortie board. I later learned he retired a major and I think I know why.  Mostly, I learned time changes everything.

16 November 2012

Two Foxy Sweaters - Only One Has Soul

Christopher Fischer Fox Sweater in Cashmere

Trad Needlepoint Fox Sweater in Cotton

I like mine better. From The Trad Archives, 27 April 2009

"My ex sister-in-law needle pointed this sweater as a wedding gift almost 21 years ago. I'll always remember her even though we haven't spoken since the divorce. I'll think about the superficial nature of clothes and then I wear this Fox on a Spring afternoon and am taken back to a time that no longer exists and to people I no longer know. The soul of something hand made with the power to take me back in time never ceases to amaze me."

14 November 2012

FIT Ivy Symposium: Ivy in Japan

I'll be honest. I watched  Dr. Masafumi Monden's presentation with jaw dropping amazement last Friday at FIT's Ivy Symposium. Whenever I look at anything through a different set of eyes... what was common and every day turns into something new and in this case, damned near magical.

The other night I dreamed I was a dog hanging out with a bunch of other dogs who were my friends.  We were having a blast running around with our tongues hanging out.  I woke up and had new respect for what's it like being a dog.  I'm not sure if that makes any sense to you.  Music might be more accessible.  Masafumi turned me onto a new 'GS' band, The Wild Ones.    

You can hear a sample of  Japanese Group Sounds or GS here (@5:50 in there's a cover of the Beach Boy's, 'Surfing USA). I hear some friends outside barking so in the event you do enjoy looking at things through a different set of eyes, I leave you with this sweet biscuit...

Pulled Cork

11 November 2012

Veteran's Day

My Fantasy, Ft Bragg, 1979

His Reality, Vinh Thanh, 1967

My father sent small B&W Agfa prints home during the war. His comments from that time were written in ink. I wrote a screenplay based on his experiences in Vietnam and during a visit in the 1995, I gave him all the photos I had from Vietnam and asked if he would share any memories with me. We sat on my patio after dinner and smoked and drank. He flipped through the pictures saying little. The next morning at breakfast he returned the pictures with comments printed in pencil.

10 November 2012

08 November 2012

Bert Pulitzer's Survivalon Jacket

See the orange jacket on the roof?

 How about the yellow sweat shirt? 

It amazes me how orange and yellow stand out on city roofs.  And while I lean towards understatement in most everything -- there's a peculiar Southern fetish I picked up for loud colors. I've always loved 'em with the understanding they have their place. 

 Andover Shop

Bert Pulitzer sent me a Survivalon jacket; what we called wet weather gear when I lived on a boat. At $495, this isn't for off shore racing but it's nautical origins make it perfect for a rainy Fall day. I wore it during a visit to the Andover Shop in Cambridge.  On my way out to lunch, Larry took it off my back and threw it on a rig. I understand he had five offers in an hour.

"Don't pick a fight, but if you find yourself in one I suggest you make damn sure you win."  John Wayne

Pulitzer created the jacket back in the '70s and used a tightly woven cotton developed by the RAF in WWII. And, while that's cool enough for me, John Wayne bought one, which might be cool enough for you. The Duke liked it so much he ordered five more for his yacht, the Wild Goose.  And I think I know why.

Back in the '70s and '80s, before Gore Tex really caught on, a lot of sailing jackets and parkas were made out of  a PVC like fabric that was hard as a brick.  I had one from Lands' End, circa 1984. It didn't breathe, had two lousy outside pockets and in the rain it felt like wet particle board.

Logo inspired by Belgian Parachutist Wings? 

Contrary to it's look, the Survivalon has a supple feel to it.  It's amazingly comfortable, keeps you dry and it breathes.  I've worn this jacket a lot in the last month and even the hood, unrolled and pulled from the collar, works well.  It's wide enough to give decent  peripheral vision and it stays on your head without having to pull it tight resulting in your looking like a seven year old in a slicker at the bus stop.

In a bind, this coat and a Shetland sweater (think, royal blue, bright red, kelly green) will see you through temps as low as the mid-30s.  I should know.  I wore it last night in NY's first snow storm.  In the low visibility, it probably kept me from being run over by a city bus. Granted, it won't protect me in a knife fight like my old Lands' End jacket but I haven't had one of those, knock wood, since a pissed off girlfriend came at me with my own Randall.

The interior of the jacket is cotton with three inside waterproof pockets and one big enough for an iPad. But remember, this isn't a waterproof jacket...it's water repellent. Having said that, I've been in rain and snow with this thing and have managed to stay bone dry.  If you want to wear a suit with this jacket, and I have no idea why you would - other than I'm old and out of it, go up a size.  With just a shirt or sweater...it runs pretty true to size.

Bert tells me this cloth will eventually take on patina.  I can't wait.  That doesn't mean I'm gonna take sand paper to it or distress it in my backyard with a chain and a snowblower...It means it'll come by its patina in an honest way.  And if the weather continues like this -- it should be nicely broken in by next month.

Comes in black, orange, yellow, fawn, navy and blue. Order from Survivalon Web Site Here