One part Eastwood,
One part Astaire.
Add a dash of Bogart.
Shake, strain and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away

Today I turn 28.

As I blow out my candles I will be wishing to one day attend a party that looks like this for my birthday:

The photo was taken at Arthur and Mathilde Krim’s house, May 19, 1962. Arthur Krim has been the Finance Chairman for the Democratic Party and an adviser to LBJ. It was President Kennedy’s birthday party.
- At Its Best

Cheers to my birthday brethern. I'm in good company:

"Hey cowgirls, see the grass? Don't eat it."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farewell Old Friend

Dear The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,

Hello. How are you? Fantastic.

There are few instances in life where you meet someone so manly that it makes you question your place within the species. Had you lived back in "the day" you would have probably wrangled dames with Sinatra and chugged cigar flavored beer with John Wayne. I heard you once placed third in a marathon while wearing homemade chain mail, self-welded from the remains of a 1960's muscle car. And you captained a tugboat towing a ship full of gunpowder, hairspray and flint rocks down the Mississippi? Is that true? If so, bully! You are a lion amongst men.

...ohh, and question - how does one tend goal for an entire hockey match wearing only a helmet made of meat? Your machismo astounds me.

Despite my affinity for underwater ninja combat fighting and flaming chariot races your strapping good looks and undulating voice has left me pondering my own testosterone levels. I have simultaneously arm wrestled Charleton Heston and pistol whipped a grizzly bear, yet my lady friend still looks at my mustache-less face with regret. Even back rubs with chocolate and the tears of babies whilst humming Marvin Gaye tunes can't shake your image from her head. But I am not bitter nor jealous. No, not me. Rather I am humbled to have met you, for you have given me a new standard of manliness to work towards. I must say I monocle smile every time I see one of your preachings.

Lumberjack pose:

I have been a devout user of Old Spice deodorant since before the crow flies but have failed to convert to your beloved body wash. Forgive me. Perhaps this is why I can't pilot a fighter jet blindfolded with my feet? Only blindfolded. But, I use soap. Soap that has little rough scrubby things in it. Dare I say, manlier than any body wash out there. I basically clean my man skin with sandpaper. You should try it.

Paragraph break.

What's that? Yes. It's me. Trying to hold back tears. If my tear ducts worked, that is. I would be openly weeping knowing that you are leaving us. But they do not. They were harvested at birth to produce medicine. Medicine that makes erections. But alas, your time with us has been special and we have all benefited from your wisdom.

So long, old friend. Enjoy retirement and tell MacGuyver and Chuck Norris I said hello.

I'm on a blog.

Bacon and booze forever,


A few of my favorites (there are so many):

So much more on the campaign:

Old Spice
Creativity Online

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vintage Adventures

The accepted principle is that men get better with age. As our hair grays and the lines on our faces deepen with the passing years, we develop a distinguished charm. Much like the whiskey we drink, a maturation occurs during our earthly casking (if nurtured and distilled correctly), mellowing our attitudes and delivering a complex yet refined product to the palette of our piers. The bite of brash youth develops into the wisdom, experience and charisma of a seasoned man.

There seems to be a direct correlation between this principle and the fact that men often prefer worn-in, used and battered items over something shiny and new (with the exception of gadgetry). As we age, so, inevitably do our possessions - many marked by the experiences we have shared with them. The particularly personal patina on a pair of brogues, marking many miles marched. A chip in the casing of a watch from a clumsy fumble. A battered box of bruised tools recalling years of creativity and craftsmanship. Those items that help to identify us throughout our life have participated in time along side of us and in turn carry an allure that a new item can never offer.

In my youth, going "antiquing" seemed like a cruel punishment. Wandering around smelly stores filled with junk was agonizing, boring and seemingly endless. I could never quite figure out why my parents lusted after odd bric-a-brac when all I craved was mass produced consumer crack. Recently, though, I've come to appreciate such trips and have been the catalyst for a few vintage adventures. As my style radar has been advancing with age, I have come to realize that much of what I lust after and draw inspiration from cannot be bought on demand but needs to be cultivated and collected over many years. And while many of us are lucky enough to be passed items from direct family lines, we can also seek out items indirectly, as they lie on dusty, cluttered shelves and in worn wooden cases.

This past Sunday I meandered along the weathered tongue and groove of select Shrewsbury, PA shops, gobbling up eyefuls of the preserved past. Unlike contemporary shopping most of the enjoyment I garner from gazing about hides in my imagination and not in lustful greed. I begin to formulate backstories for those items that intrigue me. "Where is this from and who might have owned it?" "How was it used and did its previous owner(s) see the value that I see?" "Was this a mere household item of no great worth or a cherished keepsake?" Often I'll paint a still life on the wrinkles of my brain, depicting the treasures in their prime, ultimately adding character to an otherwise bland relic. What others see as a trinket, I have now transformed into an artifact. I stand in a personal museum, where I write the history of each exhibit:

Shoe polish tin - Grand Central Station, 1919. A gentleman wouldn't dream of heading to the office without a well buffed shoe to compliment his hat and cane. He sits, peering at the Terminal's crowds as a boy works the polish into the leather:

Mantle clock - Formerly perched atop the cherry mantle of a newspaper magnate's office. Deadlines loomed as the clock ticked, rattling the nerves of those who entered:

Tobacco tin - Once stocked with a moist blend, this tin sat in a drawer next to a wing backed arm chair. Its owner relaxed each evening tamping its contents into his well charred pipe. Legs crossed, book in hand, he reflected on the days events and on the sweet aroma of tobacco that tickled his tongue:

Cooler - Filled to the brim with Cokes for the kids and Budweiser for their Dads, a camping trip would not be the same without its chilly services:

Coke opener - Has seen its share of active duty behind the drugstore counter. A precious tool for summer refreshment:

Bottle opener - It's lonely at war, but the 'tttsssst' of a top being cracked from a bottle brought a remembrance of home and what he was fighting for:

Radio - A fireside chat, the bottom of the ninth, or a cheeky Charleston. A child lying on his stomach gazing up as if a character was to pop out of the speaker. A time when imagination was entertainment and seeing wasn't always believing:

Band Aids - The bright red cross against the ivory backdrop provided instant relief to all those childhood scrapes and scratches. The application of its contents and a kiss from Mom sent the kids back out to play:

Maxwell House container - Cozily set next to the shiny percolator on the white counter of a mid-century kitchen. Two neighbors play mid-afternoon cards and enjoy a cup of coffee while gossiping incessantly. The coffee, a facilitator - and good, as always, to the last drop:

And a few other finds, minus the J. Peterman write-ups:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red Wing Spring/Summer 2011

A look into the future. Work boot meets boat shoe:


Friday, July 2, 2010

Gatsby Sunday

All images: click to enlarge
Photo credits: Melissa Ciesla, MJ Candioto, yours truly

The Great Gatsby had somehow eluded me during my formal education. I felt guilty and a little cheated that I had never read such an iconic piece of American literature. In an attempt to correct that void in my life I picked up a copy of Fitzgerald's novel at the beginning of May and soon settled down to devour his words. Contrary to my normal course with books, I was finished within 10 days, eagerly racing through his eloquence towards a bitter-sweet conclusion. Through his complex and wildly worded sentences I became lost in his tale and found faint reflections of myself in the "great" title character. 

On Sunday I sat sipping morning cocktails atop the cobblestones of Stone Street, a scrawny block resting in the Financial District at the southern tip of Manhattan. It was a particularly fitting way to begin the day's festivities, adding to the feeling of old world charm. In the company of two fine ladies, I feasted on an outdoor brunch and began to digest the effects of the days heat. My pink contrast collar button down hugged me close in the absence of a breeze and I could feel the sweat begin to cling to my undershirt.

Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan via New York Outdoors

With satisfied stomachs and lighter wallets we set out for our final destination. Looking out over the harbor, the sea breeze brought with it a hint of elegance from the tiny adjacent island that lay just out of reach. Once upon a time Governor's Island was used as a military base to house Naval and Coast Guard officers. Much to our delight, the uniforms were long gone and the public was once again welcomed to its shores for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. 

As we approached an intimidating line for ferry service, I found myself in a dreamlike setting - one of sartorial bliss. All around me were men brandishing linen, bow ties and straw fedoras. A steady stream of uniquely colorful frocks and bountifully brimmed hats paraded past on the bodies of various lithe ladies. My thoughts, for once, were full of unspoken compliments instead of pretentious judgement. This was the New York I had always dreamed of living in - even just for an afternoon.

As time progressed the sun's intensity bore a mighty wrath with the match set to begin. Looking across the massive field we, the proletariat, could see the towering tents that shaded the chosen people from harmful rays. Together with celebrities, moguls, politicians and artists we all settled in to watch a model battle a prince - Nacho Figueras's (of Ralph Lauren fame) Black Watch versus Prince Harry's Black Rock - with beauty eventually triumphing over nobility by a count of 6-5. 

Pre-match research taught me that polo is played on the largest field in organized sports, measuring 300 yards x 160 yards. Each team is comprised of 4 players and their mounts who compete against each other over 4, 6 (most common), or 8 chukkers, or 7 minute periods of play. Due to grueling activity during the match, players frequently switch to fresh ponies between chukkers. I was also interested to find out that the mallet must be held in the right hand and that the uniform numbers were more than just identifiers. Each numbered position, 1-4, has certain responsibilities to execute in the ultimate goal of putting the ball between the posts for a score (from Wikipedia):

•Number One is the most offense-oriented position on the field.

•Number Two has an important role in offense, either running through and scoring themselves, or passing to the Number One and getting in behind them. Defensively, they will cover the opposing team's Number Three, generally the other team's best player. Given the difficulty of this position, it is not uncommon for the best player on the team to play Number Two so long as another strong player is available to play Three.

•Number Three is the tactical leader and must be a long powerful hitter to feed balls to Number Two and Number One as well as maintaining a solid defense.

•Number Four is the primary defense player.

And, as in Pretty Woman, there is the ritual halftime "devoting" that takes place on field. Unfortunately for us only the wealth could participate in such a sacred event… I can only hope that a few of the hoity toity mistakenly stomped on a steaming divot, leaving their Louboutin reds caked in brown.

As our time came to a close on the fancied isle my mind wandered back to Gatsby. I had used the novel's grandeur as inspiration for my attire but never expected a deeper insight to form - was I a poor man's Gatsby? Just as Jay clumsily toiled around his manse, so do I at such chic events, wondering when I will be exposed as a fraud. As I have mentioned in a previous post, my appreciation and enjoyment of the finer things does not jive with my objective successes to date. Gatsby and I are not so unalike in our personas, hoping we can skate by on illusion, except from opposite frames of reference. Some men luck out and live a life of undeserved, ignorant enjoyment while others work hard to achieve a level that is well earned but limited. Either way, each is looking over their shoulder hoping to be free from a stigma that states what they are supposed to be, do or like.

Whether we like it or not there is a separation between classes - a giant polo field that divides the bourgeoisie from the elite. My existence lies in the former, my tastes in the latter. I am fascinated by tailored clothes, expensive scotches, prestigious sport and old world opulence, yet by societal standards, all is undeserving. I hate that such a divide exists, which is part of my thesis for this blog. By intertwining the tastes of the two worlds I feel it makes for more genuine, well-rounded and interesting people. Money, power, status, affiliation or the lack there-of should not dictate what can be enjoyed. I have just as much right to indulge in poor polo as one who might in rich rodeo. And on this Sunday in June it happened.

For more on the fashion front head over to GQ's slideshow.