Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chicago-Oral Oncologics-Toad and Pumpkins

I love Chicago. My memories of a woman on North Clark Street in Lincoln Park are vivid. I didn’t even mind slumming with her during the cold months. Her move to Schaumburg was the deal breaker for me. The Chicago burbs for some reason seemed to blunt the intensity. We had to drive in for our usual frolic in the city and …. Well, you get the picture.

Travelling light as always. Orvis carryon replete with my propaganda. Lucky Brand jeans-old as dirt Ralph D.B.-Ralph double monk suedes.

My two day meeting at the Wit hotel was really great. The moral and ethical threads regarding chemotherapy cannot be extricated from the dialogue regarding how you market it-how much should it cost and who should pay for it. The smoldering dynamic in oncology is the issue regarding profit margins realized by the physicians for administering the chemotherapy. Oral products versus infused regimens change the entire dynamics of chemotherapy economics. If the efficacy and survival endpoints are the same-should a physician then choose the regimen that he makes the most money on-even if the less profitable alternative is an oral agent that the patient can simply consume at home with a glass of water to wash it down?

Ok…I’ll stop. For a moment there I thought that I was writing a White Paper on oncology practice management economics. Back to the Wit for a second. I wish that I could have done in my Wit guest room,  a “Control-F” like we do on computers to find words in a document. I’m all about “experience-concept-philosophy”. However, instead of you telling me about the experience manifest in your concept and philosophy-allow me to discover it on my own. Everything short of the towel that I stole had an “experience” attached to it. “Experience the telephone-Experience room service-Experience these expensive ass peanuts in the Servibar- Experience the Shower Head-Experience the Catalogue where you can actually buy the same showerhead-Experience-Experience -Experience –Experience” Shut up already. I promise you that the word experience could be found a hundred times in my room. I would go back to the Wit in a heartbeat. Really nice and very well run-they like scores of other boutique hotels just need to stop trying to be so boutique-ish and just “be”. 

The carpet in the rooms was butt ugly. Here are my Ralph double monks offering some contrast to the dookie brown zebra carpet.

I rolled in to the Wit with a few hours to kill and took a sartorial walk up Michigan Avenue and over to Oak Street. Before I departed the room though-I “experienced” a snack from the Servibar. The offerings seen here cost four thousand dollars. Margins on this stuff are higher than on infused chemotherapy.

Didn’t pack a raincoat or an umbrella. Old Ralph navy blue serge D.B. buttoned up and collar popped offered my best defense against the Chicago elements-not too cold out but just damp and misty enough to take notice. Fifteen year old blazer from the Ralph outlet back when the outlets were full of samples-prototypes-etc. Matter of fact-everything I have on in this picture either came from eBay or the Outlets save the pocket square.

This gal does the Yellow Mac with greater panache than anyone. Check out this incredible uber marionette event in Berlin-Here.

Kinda sad that the Playboy Building ain't the Playboy Building anymore.

I remain committed to Federal legislation that would control the manufacture-distribution and donning of Spandex. Most of the time it’s just not pretty. Spandex blend Yoga Pants walking north on Michigan Ave however, seemed to strike just the right balance between function and form-very, very nice butt that my camera didn’t do justice. Jesus-I was JUST lookin’ not lustin’. Quiet please.

Thanks to the Wit-I was able to experience one of their little loaner umbrellas.

The Ralph store on Michigan Ave rivals Gotham’s mansion. I asked one of the guys there about the square footage difference. The Chicago store is larger than the Mecca Mansion on Madison. Absolutely stunning. Even though I’ve not a penny to spend-I relished what Ralph does best-the Aspirational Lifestyle was manifest clearly in the Chicago store. Take an hour and watch the Charlie Rose interview with Ralph. He is an amazing strategist and entrepreneur. I hope the economy will kick up enough for high end retailers to experience a good holiday season. God knows I won’t be helping them this year. Ralph et al nailed it this season. Everything looked great.

The only difference between this-The House of Ralph in Chicago and the one of my upbringing in South Carolina is that we never took the wheels off of ours.

Walking down the stairs back to the street level-I’ll take one of each.

 Tasty goods for this season-reminds me of Polo in the early 1980’s. Our boy Tintin just posited some great thoughts about Ralph circa 1985.

 Really reminiscent of the late 70’s-early 80’s Polo horse blanket plaid sportcoat. My camera-as always doesn’t do this one justice.

The Ralph sortie was so heady that little ole Paul Stuart on Oak Street was bland at best. Their goods are second to none-unequivocally so. It’s just that I don’t see Paul Stuart really fitting in Chicago. It’s a Gotham grounded legacy and they seem like a stepchild in Chicago.

The horizontal striped and polka-ed knit ties were noteworthy though.

Back to the Wit and to work. I’ve conducted meetings in every conceivable venue-good and bad. I can tell you that the meeting room in the Wit was stellar. Floor to ceiling glass comprised two of the four walls. Excellent-excellent meeting room experience.

The meeting room carpet experience though-was almost as bad as the carpet in my room.

Back home and prepping for Trick or Treating-I figured I’d share with you a few years worth of LFG Pumpkin carving shots. We aren’t fancy-just a bunch of triangles configured for desired facial features.





This is the only surviving photo of LFG’s first ambulating Halloween. She kept the lady bug antennae headband on for hours-much to our surprise. Cute as ever. This would also be the last Halloween that I lived in the same home with my heart-my raison d’ĂȘtre-my strategy-my LFG.

And finally-it is with mixed emotions that I announce the end of my celibacy-promiscuity strike. Actually, it never really began. I am pleased to report that on November 10th, the voice of reason-the honest rolling merchant of Midwestern skepticism will return. Toad will be back. And-he's grumpier than ever! Here's the press release announcing the end of his sabbatical...Curse you all. Ya sleep with dogs ya get fleas. If ACD was man enough to revive Holmes, I'll be man enough to be found in my usual spot beginning Nov 10. Mrs. T and I are heading to NOLA first
October 30, 2009 1:31 PM




The Whole Gang said...

ADG- a very nice post, indeed. The most expensive tie I have ever purchased came from New and Lingwood's Paris store in 1983- black silk knit with white dots embroidered to order. Fast forward to 2009 when an old B Bros vet gave me one like it with red dots from his archive. Silk knit is pretty arcane, even for the connoisseurs of arcana, but as Ben Silver suggests, eminently packable. Love the pics of the little one. Happy Halloween

LPC said...

Your photos are wonderful. Evocative. I have only one request. Can you please deconstruct for me the striped socks phenomenon? You have perhaps done this previously. That's OK. Good stuff bears repeating. Luckily, or I would have had to die about 6 years ago.

HGB said...

ADG, you are posting like a mad man lately. Thanks. Enjoyed your comments on the Wit hotel. As a management consultant I experience quite a few hotels myself. Why just next week I get to experience the Marriott in Lansing, Michigan. Oh wait...that's not good is it?

ELS said...

I'm just praying the coffee table glossy tome 'Carpets of America' will be out in time for Christmas.

Kathie Truitt said...

I want your wardrobe. Every time I see your 'outfit of the day' I want it for myself. If you said that about my 'ootd' that would make you a cross dresser. So, what does that make me? Not sure. Anyway, I do love your jackets and shoes - I'd definitely wear them, however the ties I'd wear as a belt.

Sophia went as a lady bug this year. Love the pictures of LFG taken through the years. Her little face never changes. Her hair just gets longer and she gets a little taller.

Gail, in northern California said...

LFG has the power to melt hearts.

That's the lasting impression from this post but will write more later when the rest of it sinks in. You are all over the map, my friend...but, of course, that's what makes it interesting.

Paul said...

Those pumpkin poses will become treasured memories in time.

My most expensive tie was from J. Press. That RL store looks awesome. No such thing in these parts.

ADG - always a captivating read!

Victor said...

ADG, great post as usual....makes me wish it wasn't 87 degrees here or sunny as hell.

Your Chacago jaunt would've been an excellent Twittering experience...I'm just saying.


Cannonball said...

Max, love the travelogue and as always, your way with words- but, pleasepleaseplease ( to paraphrase another style icon, JB, who was your fellow South Carolinian) get a small quality subcompact digital camera so your snaps match your thoughts & words.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that Michael Gross' book about RL brought out, among others that he couldn't have been too thrilled about, was that things like the Rhinelander (and it's Chicago cousin) and Purple Label are his loss leaders. The RL empire really is funded by the over-logoed prole status-symbol crap he sells in the outlets and in department stores. And yet he really hasn't been affected by brand dilution all that much.

I think this is honing in on my overall sentiments about RL- I like so much of his stuff, yet the vast majority of it is pretentious garbage.

ilovelimegreen said...

Do tell what LFG was for Halloween this year! I've yet to encounter any other writer who can pull completely disparate threads together so humorously and smoothly.

Gail, in northern California said...

I knew we were in for a bumpy ride when I saw the headline "Chicago-Oral Oncologics-Toad and Pumpkins" but then, you added Ralph Lauren and hotel carpeting, ta' boot.

Have you looked at the Paul Stuart website? Beautiful, --as is the photo you took of the store on Oak Street.

Before you race off again, do you know yet if you were able to retrieve the love story from the south post? I'd like to see it repeated for Mrs. Blandings.

I know you have to work (and travel) for a living but if you could squeeze in that story about Charlotte, the lady with the beautiful blue eyes... Signed, The Nag.

ADG said...

Whole Gang Man...I remember the first time I ever spent a hundred dollars on ANYTHING. A pair of Polo loafers from Niemann Marcus in Atlanta. Thanks for the kind words about LFG-I had to bag Halloween after 20 minutes-respiratory gunk.

LPC ... Yes, I’ll sort out the horizontal socks for you.

HGB ...Posting-I feel like I’ve got some catching up to do. Lansing Marriot-Been there!

ELS ... “Carpets of America” indeed! Subtitle-“Variations in Dooky Brown”

Kathie Truitt ...If I have another year like this one-all of my stuff will be for sale and you can have first dibs! Thanks as always, for the kind words about LFG

Gail Of The North...You are not a nag. Thanks as always for your gushing and undeserved accolades. Paul Stuart is indeed one of the tastiest interpreters of menswear. I worry for the financial stability of them all. Alas, two of my most important-at least to me-posts have not been recovered-Merkin and New Orleans. Not sure if I have the stuff to rewrite the New Orleans one-took me a while to get over that one. Charlotte and a post on my father are on the way.

Paul ...Thanks. I wonder how many more years LFG will tolerate the Pumpkin Pose!

Victor ...If I start Twittering-Tweeting-Twaddling…then I’ll never get anything done.

Cannonball ... I hear you. The iPhone camera sucks-I’m gonna go and have them look at it. I don’t see travelling with a camera quite frankly.

Anonymous...Your observations are spot on indeed. Purple Label is beautiful but there aren’t any salespeople sophisticated enough-save maybe at the Mansion to even interpret-explain and sell it. You can’t have hourly wage folks punching a clock and also developing any passion around a two thousand dollar sportcoat. I’ve always felt that the larger stores were an advertising expense-a loss leader. More precisely-and I think it was Gross’ book that shares this-at one time, the sheer volume and margins on the knit shirts eked the company into the black for a year or two. The Outlets for certain are their most profit rich contributors.
I love Ralph and Alan Flusser so I’m not very objective. I love Ralph for his entrepreneurial vision that he actualized. I love Alan because nobody interprets color-texture in ways like he assembles it. He has never desired to scale it up though. Logos-I wear only one Polo Pony logo-the knit shirt adornment. Otherwise, I feel like I’ve supported that logo enough. My conclusion is a bit less harsh than yours-even though I’d say we are both correct. The mass marketed stuff has become a bit too “costume-ish” and caricaturish for my tastes. PRL is a publicly traded company-I don’t expect much different from them. Thanks for sharing your observations.

ilovelimegreen...I’ll post a picture. I had to bag pretty quickly-I’m sick.

Summer is a Verb said...

You may be interested, fellow Polophile, to know that Ralph Lauren is currently having a private sale; 40% off with an additional 15% off that. Dangerous. Quite dangerous. When the cat's in Brussels, the mice will charge send..XXOO

Gail, in northern California said...

And another thing....

Regarding your comment about, " many more years LFG will tolerate the Pumpkin Pose!"

If our family is any gauge at all, my kids and now grandkids are hopeless romantics who thrive on tradition. It gives them a sense of stability in their lives. Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same if I didn't use the same tablecloth and napkins. Even though they're sophisticated teenagers now, a birthday call from Captain Zoom still brings giggles. They WANT things to stay the same.

So, even though LFG may balk, continue the pumpkin pose...for her sake.

Sermon over.

Gail, in northern California said...

And another thing....

Regarding your comment about, " many more years LFG will tolerate the Pumpkin Pose!"

If our family is any gauge at all, my kids and now grandkids are hopeless romantics who thrive on tradition. It gives them a sense of stability in their lives. Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same if I didn't use the same tablecloth and napkins. Even though they're sophisticated teenagers now, a birthday call from Captain Zoom still brings giggles. They WANT things to stay the same.

So, even though LFG may balk, continue the pumpkin pose...for her sake.

Sermon over.

tintin said...

I meant to mention Roger who works at Polo on Michigan Ave. A Brit who managed Dunhill on Oak before it was closed, Roger would always clue me in on hidden sale items.

I've watched the Rose interview a number of times and learn something new each time. My sense is that RL has always looked, and he admits this, to people 'doing things' for inspiration. 30 years ago he was looking to the British and was happy to 'borrow' their country lifestyle of hound and horse and interpret it for us. And I dug it. No labels to speak of and mostly understated elegance.

That's grown to taking anything else people are doing to include: Safari hunter, cowboy, indian, motorcycle gang member, pilot and most recently, soldier. Ralph mentions in the interview that he steals from the Army not so much to imitate killing but to inspire courage and bravery. That's one heck of a way to look at dressing up and playing pretend but it seems to have been profitable.

Patsy said...

the LFG pumpkin picture experience was outstanding! thank you.

hope you are feeling better.

EsseQuamVideri said...

Loved your tour of Chicago -- you might like this place next time you're in town:

Just posted it today -- enjoy!