Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wipe Me Mamma I’m Done and Gurkha Shorts Redux

...done for the year!

Las Vegas…The Rat Pack…Elvis…Howard Hughes…Liberace…Wayne Newton…Siegfried and Roy (before that Tiger woke up one morning and said to himself…”If I don’t do a damn thing today I’m gonna have me some of that Roy Horn”)…and finally….ADG.

Make no mistake about it. I loathe Las Vegas. This ain’t a take or leave it middle ground kind of a thing. I hate the place. While images of Sinatra et al-shrouded by complementary scenes of Sharon Stone and De Niro walking the casino floor evoke vague signals of style-I never see it when there. “But ADG you aren’t looking hard enough”. If that’s the case then I don’t want to look further because what I see in this tacky ass-orama isn’t in the same orbit as my aesthetic sensibilities.

I see two camps of constituents in Las Vegas. I can’t bear to use with any consistency the abbreviated “Vegas” in my writing or in the spoken word-it nauseates me. One group is the hopeless-borderline homeless throngs of unbathed-greasy looking folks in sweatpants (I wear them at home thank you) and those vinyl windbreakers that are about five quality levels below the old Members Only jackets from the early eighties. Many of the jackets sport the moniker of said fraternal or church league softball organization back home. I have nothing but sympathy for these empty eyed people-Camel dangling from their mouths as they drop another token of hope wrapped despair into the one armed bandit. Seriously-I want to ask them if there is someone I can call. Someone who might love them enough to help them. I’m simply making an observation of these people-not a judgement.

The other crew seems to be the Vegas Bling People. Money-God only knows the genesis and I’ll not be the one to ask. Two hundred dollar baseball caps styled antithetical to how I define proper cap wearing. These caps have bills that have been ironed flat to the point that a carpenter’s bubble level would have it completely square and on an even plane. That is if they are turned forward. Same said cap bill not as important if it is worn backward. Johnny Bench could wear a baseball cap backwards-when performing the task of playing-catcher. Home plate umpires-you too. Otherwise, baseball caps should be worn bill-forward. And finally, I always make the bill “my own” within thirty seconds of possession. I have to bend it to suit me.

The Vegas Bling People also drench themselves in more chains than seen on both sides of a tow truck. Baggy jeans hanging about fifteen minutes below their ass cracks-hanging in puddles atop three hundred dollar squeaky clean athletic shoes of some sort. Word out or shout out or whatever the frig they say-Just so you know Blingers-that little tiny straw that stands in your Drambuie on ice…it’s a stirrer-stop using it as a straw. Give that overly sweet cordial that you drink one after another-all night-like the rest of us sip vodka or a scotch-you know, big boy drinks…a turn or two with the swizzle stick and then remove it from your glass. I’m surprised you don’t have a gold or platinum one hanging from your steroidal charm necklace. Don’t for a minute think that this rant is racist. The Vegas Bling People come in all ethnic flavors. I’m simply making a judgement about these people-not an observation.

Thanks for letting me vent that. I’m in the midst of an endorphin flush as a result. Excuse me while I have a cigarette.

So who has a meeting out there the week before Christmas? One of my clients who wanted to contrive a bit of a boondoggle with a little bit of competitive strategy and a lot a bit of holiday revelry. I’m a peddler-a drummer-a jester and you know already that I show up where they tell me to set up my props and start the ADG shuffle.

I suppose that my dreadful cold was a blessing in disguise since I had a legitimate excuse to retire to my room all three nights with only a brief stopover in the hotel bar for my requisite Stoli-dirty-olives.

The synergy created between said cocktail and NyQuil is to me, vaguely reminiscent of Quaaludes. Ahhh.
These rooms scare me. I know that sin had manifested here in ways that make me want to sleep on top of the bed-with all my clothes on-thank you.

Big enough to have a small cocktail party in-something that I’m sure has occurred here. Mirrors-lots of mirrors. None on the ceiling this time thank you. Mirrored ceilings-when gazing up at them alone-make me chuckle.

Fancy bathroom with a tub big enough to swim laps in-see the alone/chuckle statement above. Now don’t get me wrong-I’m no prude. With the right woman in one of these rooms I’m Tarzan. Jane? Jane? Stop this crazy thing.

Too many knobs on the shower rig-too many shower heads to complement said number of knobs. I either froze or scalded my rhinovirus laden ass every morning I was there.

Room service every night-Club Sandwiches-why spend money on food you can’t taste….except my final night there….

 You tell me the rice is forbidden-my ass is gonna have it.

 Bad Airport Carpet

Ok…LFG and I are off to see the Christmas Show downtown and then it’s over to Shooter Hill for sledding-in what looks like about a foot of snow so far.

Onward-In the snow-With a story about shorts.

Gurkha Shorts.....

Ahh… the Gurkhas-those brave Northern Indian/Nepalese fighters-thought to be naturally warlike and brave. Interesting lack of congruence with their Nepalese cousins-the Buddhists.
I suppose my intrigue with Gurkha shorts goes back to several things. I was a kid during the Vietnam War and for better or worse, the local Army-Navy store was always brimming with used military surplus-the real deal-not a bunch of crap made in China just to fill the modern day Army-Navy stores with ersatz gear. I mean some of the stuff at our local A-N store still had mud on it.
I was from an early age, completely intrigued with authentic gear and back then-five or ten bucks assured you a bag full of loot to take home and don for “playing army”. We all had helmet liners that we used for our helmets. My mom helped me paint red crosses on mine with fingernail polish so that I could be a Medic. I still love my imagination.As evidence of my passion for authentic kit-my GI Joe action figure even had his own set of dessert fighting gear-Gurkha Shorts included. Someone on ebay will sell you these vintage GI Joe togs for about 95 bucks.

Patricia and Mel Ziegler started Banana Republic as an outlet to not only purvey unique-one off-military-Anglo colonial inspired goods but to also gird the offerings with great stories. The writing in the old Banana Republic catalogues was as good as the illustrations and the product offerings. They sold the company for a lot of dough and what we have at Banana Republic today isn’t even relevant to their original intent. Here’s a link to an interesting article written about the Ziegler’s in 2000.
Their catalogues were perfect fodder to feed my right brain. Full of products with pseudo accurate "back stories" to complement the esoteric offerings. I think Hollister Hovey is a living version of a vintage Banana Republic Catalogue.
Five gets you ten that nobody working in a Banana Republic store today has any clue regarding the genesis of the organization.
Gurkha shorts are obtuse-odd-nerdy-edgy. Damn…you’d think they were made for me. I bought three pairs of Gurkha shorts from the Banana Republic catalogue in 1985. A pair for me and a pair each for a male and female colleague in my office. They both returned theirs for refunds-couldn’t get accustomed to the high waisted-wrap around paradigm of the shorts. I still have mine from 1985.
As much of an Anglophile that I may be-I have to say that these boys look a bit twee in their kit. I suppose you can stand around looking this way if for 300 hundred years you've pretty much picked on and plundered weaker countries that didn't have the armaments and scale to bring the same level of whoop ass back on you. The Maxim Gun-manned by a fop in high waisted shorts proved to render useless most spears and clubs. Except for the pretty strong caning the Boers gave the Brits. Oh, and the Zulus were not to be taken lightly either.
Now here's dash and aplomb. Jim Corbett in shorts-relaxing in a Roorkhee chair. I'm gonna do a separate post on Campaign Furniture. I had Knock Down or Campaign Furniture right out of undergrad. One piece was an orange vinyl bean bag chair-one piece was inflatable-we called her Bernice. And the other was a wagon wheel coffee table. It didn't have a name.
Then our boy Ralph did Gurkha shorts for a few years and I still have a green pair of Gurkhas from those days. You can find them now and then on ebay and a few other esoteric offerings come around from time to time. Bill’s Khakis did a great version for a few years but they no longer offer them. I suppose that they aren’t the kind of thing that you get a lot of call for-you gotta offer things for the masses not the asses.
I love all of the vintage British colonial lore-as repugnant as some of their behavior was-and the vintage photos are full of shorts clad Colonialists and subjects. The Camel Corps seems synonymous with military shorts. I’m going to a charity cookout in Annapolis this afternoon. I think I’ll wear mine. Camel and Pith Helmet shall remain at home. I’d hate to have to whip somebody’s ass for laughing at my camel. No doubt they’ll be smirking at my togs. I don’t consider myself properly kitted out unless someone looks at me and shakes their head in dismay.
I wonder who manufactured the gear for 19th-early 20th century British troops. You can always find some of it on ebay. I understand that the British Camel Corp were an impressive bunch-I also understand that camels are mean and will blow snot on you or spit on you. Sounds like fraternity house antics to me.
The Gurkha Monument in London-somewhere in Whitehall I think.
See the guy in the way back? The outlier-one-off-solo camel man? He's being punished. The drunk fool had his Gurkha Shorts on backwards. "Algernon-until you get your kit on properly-you and your camel will retire to the corner-of the desert".
Now this guy doesn't have on shorts but I HAD to include him in this post. Tintin has gone back to the basics regarding shaving with a double edged blade. I'm intrigued by the money saving aspect of Titin's move but I'm too scared to try it for fear of cutting my damn head off. Tintin-you ain't a man till you shave with a straight razor-off of a camel's ass.
Shorts clad British Camel Corp soldier. This is the B.C.C. monument on the Embankment in London. All of the camels pictured in this post by the way, are naked.
Here's what the Banana Republic label looks like in the original stuff from 1985 or so. Yes, I can still wear these. I'm the same size as I was in college. Teehee. Made in Zimbabwe-Fancy that. The residual crust of British colonialists still insist on calling it Rhodesia.
The 1985 Gurkhas from Rhodesia. I don't wear them rolled up that much. I'd need a Maxim Gun to fend off the hotties.
The olive drab Ralph Gurkhas. Too hungover from trying to be a teenager last night to offer a more revealing shot of me. I was a hit at the party-so were the shorts. Quiet please.
Admit it. You want a pair.
And here is a photo of me and my love interest-Charlotte-circa 1996. I'm wearing the 1985 B.R. Zimbabwe Gurkhas. You’ll learn much more about Charlotte in another post devoted to her. She lived in Greenwich Village in the 1930’s. Charlotte was a treasure and my life is so much richer for having had her in it. Had I known her in an earlier life-I would have begged her to marry me. She was a force to be reckoned with-having outlived three husbands and scores of lovers-a few famous ones from that NYC-Village era. My hair weave was down-market back in 1997. Looks kinda like a small rodent plopped on the top of my head. Over a decade later and with better financial resources, I now sport a better one. The Gurkhas however, are timeless.
Longwing once speculated about one of my posts being driven more by ADD than ADG. I suppose this closing bit would fall into that category. Not robust enough for a separate post but enough energy of its own that it begs to be extricated from my noggin’. I am missing my child terribly.

I try to live a journey grounded in gratitude and balance and all at present in my life is good. My dull throb of missing LFG is a selfish thing. I’ve seen little of her since our return from S.C. – just a couple of brief frolics as I’ve been travelling for biz. She’s now in Park City Utah on her final summer tour-visiting another set of cousins and reveling in all the summer things one does at the ski resorts there. She and I will do a farewell to summer week at Rehoboth Beach next week and my daddy batteries will be recharged. It’s during these rare but extended times of absence that I let it get to me a little bit. I was just made to be a dad and being a daddy of a little girl is a gift of inestimable reward. I would have traded the five hour outdoor Annapolis charity event yesterday-last night for five minutes of giggly time with LFG.
I think everyone who loves kids and especially those who have daughters can’t help but be touched by these photos. I saw these on yahoo news and couldn’t help but well up. A surely bereaved and confused Sargent Shriver is doted on and comforted by a Shriver granddaughter at the Eunice Shriver funeral Mass.
You can’t buy this kind of youthful love-humanity and tenderness with money and you can’t shroud yourself it trad togs-go to a seen and be seen soirée as stand ins for swaddling yourself in the experience and blessings of having little people in your life.

Ok-Shut up. And someone come hold me-someone in a skimpy Nurse Outfit-or French Maid getup or Girlie Gurkha Shorts and a skimpy top.



LPC said...

"another token of hope wrapped despair..." Applies to more things than one might think at first glance. Do you talk like you write? They may be paying you just for the pyrotechnics. Talk about eggplants and they'd find a place in the budget anyway.

Gail, in northern California said...

So glad you're home and all it holds for you.
Sledding with LFG...could it get any better?

Anonymous said...

"as they drop another token of hope wrapped despair into the one armed bandit"

"more chains than both sides of a tow truck"


D, you and Tintin were pretty much tied in my mind for "favorite trad clothing + lifestyle blog" before this, but I think it's safe to say you take the cake with writing like this.

Keep on doin' what you're doin' and Merry Christmas.

pete saussy said...

not sure how i found your post but i have had a lifelong interest in the Gurkhas, to the point of going to Nepal and coming back with dengue fever and Nepal army rank insignia and badges that i still wear today. the shorts, however, i never took to. don't protect teh legs from bugs, bushes or basalt. all the brit memoirs i read referred to them as "Bombay Bloomers" my father served in the Pacific and called them thatk, having seen new zealanders wearing them.

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - I like the way you bend your bill.

Mrs. Blandings said...

As for Las Vegas, I find it amusing for 48 hours. I didn't think I would, but I do, but after the 48th hour I must either flee or fall into despair.

As for the rest - the combination of these posts (and the first is incredibly amusing) encapsulates how complex people are regardless of our desire to place them neatly in one box.

SFTrny said...

Instead of shorts, give these a try: UK Officer Khaki Drill Trousers

I just got a pair and love them. I think I'll wear them to Las Vegas.

James said...

I'm 100% with you on this! I think you've written the definitive review of this ilk. Now I've got to get some Gurkha shorts before summer.

Anonymous said...

I used to have an old pair of BR shorts like that! I found them in a thrift shop (of course) and bought them because they were longer and more elegant than any pair of shorts I had ever seen. Sadly, I have no idea where they might have gone to.

I couldn't agree more, Las Vegas is the world capital of attention seekers and dead end lives, all at the same time. And we didn't even mention the all-you-can-eat buffets. I haven't seen a worse human condition since I last traveled to New Jersey. Which is for all intents and purposes is just an East Coast Las Vegas, but with 100 times more fake tans and bad jewelry.

ELS said...

as they drop another token of hope wrapped despair into the one armed bandit.

Clearly made an impression on all of us - don't try the old 'I'm not a writer' rubbish any more.

Come round my house sometime; we have more khaki shorts, and pics of people wearing them, than you can shake a stick st.

So pleased you're all done and home enfin.

NCJack said...

If you want to see America, you got to see Vegas once. But as far as I'm concerned, a drive down the strip at night is enough. Mark it off the list, and head for Zion NP, or Grand Canyon

Pigtown-Design said...

So glad you got in before the weather hit. Really beautiful, but what a mess it's going to be!

Anonymous said...

So I guess that explains why Ed Hardy is not included on your label list...

Anonymous said...

As for caps worn backwards, I always ask "Are you a catcher or a welder" ?
The gold standard for the Gurhka's is Lt.Col John Masters DSO, Indian Army,4th Prince of Wales Gurhka Rifles. Quite a character,3 volume autobiography...says it all.

Kathie Truitt said...

Your posts are always so interesting and of course this one doesn't disappoint.

What does disappoint is the new and 'improved' Banana Republic. Oh, how I used to love that store way back when. I like flipping the pages from some of my magazines from the seventies and early eighties and love seeing the ads.

I, too, despise the 'gangsta, backwards ball cap, bling-bling thug' look. Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I. Loathe. It.

ADG said...

LPC….God I hope so. When I become delusional and DO talk about eggplants and other random topics I hope they’ll still find it entertaining! And yes, I generally speak this way too.

Gail...Thanks. Yes, we’ve frolicked relentlessly in the snow. And no, it can’t get any better. It’s bliss.

Luke...I can’t carry Tintin’s water when it comes to writing skills. He is consistently brilliant. I get lucky about every third post and pull a sentence or two out of my butt that resonates. Thanks though-for the kind words.

pete saussy...Thanks for checking in and thanks for your great quips about Gurkha shorts.

Anonymous English Female...Stop it.

Mrs. Blandings...I can’t do the 48 hours there anymore-without feeling the dark cloud of despair closing in.

SFTrny ...Those look great and they are only 45 bucks? Are they reasonably well made?

James...Good luck finding Gurkhas.

David...Well said. However, NJ has some really great spots-seriously. Las Vegas has none.

ELS...I am NOT a writer. I am Batman.

NCJack...I agree. AND I loved touring Hoover damn one time.

Megtown-Design...It’s just a mess now. Beauty gone. Mess here.

Anonymous...I worship Ed Hardy.

Anonymous...Catcher-Welder…great line. I’ll have to check out the John Masters bio

Kathie...Stay warm!

Anonymous said...

Your 1st photo of "Gurkhas" holding steel planking is almost certainly not of Gurkhas but Indian troops. To echo earlier comments - John Masters' wonderful autobiographical book - "Bugles & a Tiger" has to be the definitive account of pre-war soldiering with the Gurkhas on the North west frontier.
Those blokes in shorts may look effete but they held their own against the Afghans & defeated the Afrika Corps.
At least they were wearing Khaki drill - spare a thought for the troops at Rorkes Drift fighting the Zulu in woollen serge. No Maxims for them either - single shot rifles & long bayonets.

ADG said...

Geoff...thanks. I play strong when it comes to thematic efforts in these posts but never on the details. So indeed I accept and agree with your assertion that the first picture is of soldiers non Gurkhas. I'm after the Masters' book but the prices are really high on it....eighty bucks is the going rate. A book on Viscount Slim in Burma is in the queue and I just finished Pegasus Bridge as well as John Howard's Pegasus Diaries.

Wool serge smacks as arrogantly in South Africa as the assumption that the encounter would be brief and the Zulus docile.

Anonymous said...

I too had/have a pair of those BR ghurka shorts and even though I can still wear them they are worn out to threads. I am always on the look for another pair or two but have found it impossible to find a source. I will be thrilled if you have a clue to where I can purchase these shorts.

Anonymous said...

Everyone that works for Banana Republic knows the origins of the brand. It's in the orientation for new hires. So five gets you ten that ignorance breeds ignorance.