Saturday, January 30, 2010

London Debrief Number One-French Infantry-Hoof Picks and Homeland Security

Three a.m. this morning found me awake-reading James Lees Milne before I finally decided to get up and continue the post London re-entry to Casa Minimus. I’ve got tons to post about for the next week or so but decided to get a miscellaneous report out of the way before positing the more intriguing bits.

Ambling down the corridor to Heathrow Terminal Three after jumping off the Heathrow Express, I hear a faint click on the tile but think nothing of it. A nice gentleman alerted me to the fact that my little Nikon CoolPix camera-the Christmas gift that many of you were more thankful I received than I was-had fallen out of my backpack. I thanked him profusely-picked it up and went on. This morning I prepare to download all of my London pictures and they are gone-poof-evaporated. Not sure how this could have happened but it did. I’m only aggravated contextually for one potential post. Otherwise, I have enough mediocre iPhone shots to tell most of my feeble stories. Lesson learned-I should have downloaded the pics to my laptop during my London stay.

This was a selfish getaway for me-I’ve not taken more than three consecutive non-business vacation days just for me-sans LFG-since…I can’t remember when. Fuelled by an embarrassment of travel points riches-my airfare and modest but for me-very adequate and appropriate accommodations at the Commodore, 50 Lancaster Gate-Hyde Park cost me nothing. I ask for no sympathy-but during the year, my business travel is physically and viscerally tiring-to a degree that unless you engage in similar commerce-you just wouldn’t know. Think about how tired you’ve been-I called it “tired through your bones”-standing at baggage claim after being in another country for a few weeks. That’s as close to knowing what “tired to the bone” feels like when you travel for business-when you are 100% responsible for how everything turns out when you roll into a business conference and have to facilitate business planning and strategy sessions for as many as twenty people in the room while you are the only said “expert”. I am blessed to do what I do but that level of being “on” drains resources like nothing else. I figure I've got about eight good years of it left in me.

Oh-I’ve just conjured a better metaphor (realizing that all of mine are feeble-shut up). Imagine flying from Seoul to San Francisco while during the flight you had to complete the LSAT, GRE or MCAT for graduate school admission-remember how exhausting those tests were? The GRE was humbling for me because it was the first time I couldn’t leverage the strategy of getting a girl to help me. So the embarrasment of travel points have been well earned. Couple this with the fact that I relinquished some of my watercolours to a London dealer and I’m ahead in the cost of travel game-it’s an entrepreneurial thing that aligns with my ADD and my collecting habit.
I rolled in last Saturday morning at 730am London time and had to wait till noon to get into my room. Portobello Road isn’t usually a destination for me anymore. It’s too overwhelming for an ADD person like me-unless you are on a precise mission. 
Too many people-too much stimulus-too many inputs. But it was a fifteen minute walk and as good as anything to kill time till my room was ready. Plus, one of the nicest antique toy soldier dealers, Andy Morant sets up at Portobello on Saturday. That’s the only reason I opted to go there.
As usual, Andy had a plethora of soldiers from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. His prices are always fair and I picked up about twelve little lead men-all about eighty years old but no worse for typical wear-remember-these were manufactured for little boys to play with so their intact survival is always part of the phenomena when discovering them. You’ll learn momentarily that these twelve little men almost cost me my flight home.
I was reminded of how easy it was for Ralph Lauren to populate all of his stores with such great remnants of the Raj-The Empire-Ancestor Worship-Public Schools and Pastimes of the Empire…Portobello Road still sells tons of it.
This travel-campaign chest was a bargain at 495 pounds. Getting it home-forget about it.
Close your eyes-grab anything in Alice's shop at Portobello-throw it in either a Polo or Rugby Shop and it works. I tried to kit out my digs similarly years ago. It didn't work. I ended up with Pee Wee's Playhouse with kilim rugs.

So I’ll leave you wondering about all of the fun things that went on between the two Saturdays and end this drivel with an update on me and my twelve little lead charges seeking access to our departing flight on Virgin Atlantic. These antique soldiers are made of soft lead. More often than not, their rifles and bayonets are missing because you can bend them and snap them off effortlessly and most little boys did when playing with them eighty years ago. I usually wrap them individually so that they won’t break. I knew better than to do so since I wasn’t going to check them-they’d get stolen-and I knew that the screeners would want to know what these little pods of metal were that showed up so brilliantly on the scan. No worries-these people are only trying to protect us from the crazies. Besides-why couldn’t someone mold C4 or some other explosive into things like baby dolls or little lead soldiers? So I carry them on-loosely swaddled in tissue paper. It gets absurd from here.

Sure enough-the little Turnbull and Asser bag containing the soldiers gets flagged-oh and my hoof pick belt was in the same plastic tub. Still no worries-I’ve got 45 minutes before my flight leaves. The screener lady asks….”What are these and for what purpose do you have them?” Now I can think of a hundred smartass answers to this question but I know that ninety nine of them are going to end me up in one of those full body search rooms nearby and I want to get home to LFG. So I give a polite answer-making sure that she realizes that these are harmless toys from ages ago. She is obsessed with the bayonets. I told her that a ballpoint pen and the plastic knives used in the online meal service are more lethal. “You can’t take these on sir” she says. 

I also wanted to tell her that these infantry men with bayonets are French Infantry from the 19th Century-another bit of information that should make her realize that all will be safe on the plane. Who the hell is scared of a French soldier? I’m livid at the impertinence under the guise of safety. She then begins raking the tip of my hoof pick belt across her palm and with a furrowed brow looks at me with a tisk-tisk. “It’s a shit pick” I wanted to tell her but I’m still thinking that I might make my flight if I restrain myself. Keep in mind-there are a half dozen others awaiting the same kind of exception review of something they’ve put through the scan-and of course-my gal is the only one working this station. I’m ready to say f_ck it-take the ninety quid worth of lead soldiers and garrote yourself with my belt. You could breath heavily on the lead bayonet tips and they would literally wilt. 

I ask with restrained assertion for her supervisor. She relents. The supervisor arrives and within three minutes-I’m re-billeting my troops in their Turnbull and Tissue Barracks and refitting my waist with the belt. Barely making my flight.

I loved my London jaunt. There still remains enough of London to make me want to return. But I worry for Britain. My subsequent posts will be sprinkled with a bit of an explanation from time to time.

Onward-With Hoof Picks and Little Lead Soldiers.

Oh and P.S. …. Many, many thanks to all of you for your London suggestions. Many of which were affirmations of things already beloved but a few were brand new and indeed made my trip so much better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shut Up-From London Y'all

I love and appreciate all of your devotion to the drivel I post here. To that end I figured I would check in and say hello. What I've realized after a couple of days over here is that I'm not compelled to post on my blog like some travelling sartorialists and yarn tellers/weavers do! I always post when I feel motivated and selfishly-I have no such desire while here in England. No worries-I'll have tons of stories to tell upon my return but at present-I'd rather traipse around the motherland and blog when I get home ok?


Friday, January 22, 2010

Color Me Gone….

 Dulles to Heathrow tonight. Back home on the 29th in time to pick up LFG for a fun weekend. No promises on intra-journey posts. It won’t be a priority but we’ll just have to see what the motivation-time and mood ratio; coupled with the ease of getting online yields for a post or two from England.

I figured my signature randomness might be in order-you know-to hold you over till I get back. I finally take delivery of my half price Polo-Polo Camel Overcoat...just in time for the temps to return to the 50's. It's all good-and as LFG says about Camel Hair-it's "cuddly".

And speaking of my precious little everything-When I asked her what she wanted from London she said "just a snow globe Daddy". She collects them. I'll get her a little something more than just a snow globe. I can't articulate the love and gratitude I have for this child.

The proverbial Ghillie. A better contrivance for this shoe would be tobacco suede with a tastefully rendered rubber sole-then you've got a Ghillie for dress and for jeans.

Bespoke back rooms are never as tidy as the front showroom-nor should they be.

Sartorial house drawings-plans-renditions-prototypes-start with butcher paper.

It's a shame. All I can say.

The Grecian. A favorite of Eton Dons and Oxford Profs for centuries. A bit better looking than those hideous plaid mallard slippers that Tintin over at The Trad and that Hollister Hovey seem to be so proud of.

Colour-pattern-texture and a great source of inspiration-Apparel Arts

Onward-to the Motherland of Sartorial Inspiration.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flusser Trad Concoctions and a Yellow Confession

While my debauchery and debacles over the years now has me fairly restrained regarding formal wear-there are some tasty options and variations out there. Black Corduroy D.B. Shawl-brilliant.

D.B. Shawl-Grosgrain Only Please. And yes, some sleeve cuffs.

Cashmere-Silk-Cotton Pin Wale Corduroy. Satin Peak Lapels. Satin Sleeve Cuffs. Purple Lining. Crescent Shaped Pockets-Satin Piping. Fuzziest of the Fuzzy Dice.

My rig is a bit more subdued. Off the peg Ralph-Grosgrain Shawl S. B.

Flusser uses a wider gauge grosgrain than Ralph. Grosgrain on a low dose of steroids...I like it.

Colony Trousers-Lots of Drape.

And then, during the decade of petroleum based fabrications-there was this boy. An this boy went to the prom. By all accounts, he and his date were…jaundiced?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Salahi is a Verb-Sycophantasia is a Noun

Salahi-Not contrived by me mind you but defined as such by our good friend Dickie over at Southern Gent. He and I were discussing the dynamics of holiday parties where the guest list expands when the host-under the influence of a few cocktails and some holiday cheer, begins to invite others to his soiree scheduled for the next weekend. Is the invitation sincere? Will the host remember to put you on the guest list? Is it considered poor form to ring him up and verify that you are on the list?

The consequences for not verifying your legitimacy on the guest list is to risk being “Salahied”. Showing up adorned in Black Tie with a lovely bauble of a date on your arm only to be told that you are not on the guest list and ergo-not getting into the soiree. Dickey and I agreed that it’s a situation, a set of circumstances that if possible you should avoid.

I’m far beyond giving a damn about being on any guest lists in Washington but somehow end up getting an invite here and there to some snooty function and in small doses, making happy talk with sycophants remains entertaining-in small doses. I bet our boy Hubert is thinking..."'s Suzie Scorchmadrawers-Augie The Scorcher Scorchmadrawer's wife-gotta put on the happy face for her or Augie'll take me off his sugar tit".

While name dropping and ass kissing is part and parcel of the business world and politics, Sycophantasia manifests to a breathtaking degree in higher education-I mean what else do they have other than a bit of intellectual or probably more accurately…dogmatic power? Tenure and the power derived therein is the phallic instrument on campus because money ain’t a currency that they have enough of to sling around arrogantly.  If I piss off my client constituency or my friends, they fire me. That phenomenon alone keeps some of my hubris and cocksurety in check. Shut up. Academics are the worst brewers of ass kissing broth because they have hostages…aka students who want a grade. I learned early on in college that if I agreed with my professors more than I disagreed, my likelihood for a better grade increased. The puffery manifest in a tenured professor who knows that his constituency cannot fire him is stunning. I think most academics would die within ninety days if they had to survive fully…off-campus.

I love the way Maureen Dowd not only blasted the Salahis but also rolled in red hot on Washington society…
 "...even the outrage over the fakers is fake. The capital has turned up its nose at the tacky trompe l’oeil Virginia horse-country socialites: a faux Redskins cheerleader and a faux successful businessman auditioning for a “reality” show by feigning a White House invitation...Yet Washington has always been a town full of poseurs, arrivistes, fame-seekers, cheaters and camera hogs." Orval Faubus isn't thinking about Augie The Scorcher's Sugar Tit in this picture.

College kids have always made the best of a black tie situation.

And older folks remind us that it's never to late to make an ass out of yourself.

Now back to Sycophantasia for a moment....Spot on you are Maureen Dowd. Living in Washington and not being in politics is like living in Hollywood and not being in the movie business. But I like living here-I’m an Eastern Seaboard kinda guy. Proximity to Gotham-the beaches-mountains-my mama and an airport to shuttle me all over the world is right here. And as long as LFG is here-I ain’t going anywhere. Washington is like an old comfortable shoe-but I don’t ass kiss some congressional member every day in search of a favor-a nod-a vote anymore. When I did that job at the state level, I couldn’t shower enough to feel clean after swilling hooch with some state agency hack that controlled access to pharmaceutical benefit design processes. And trust me folks, we ain’t exactly got the Mensa stronghold plotting America’s journey from the Hill.

But the poseurs and star f_ckers descend on this city like no other. Admittedly, it is an adrenaline rush and a lot of fun to be a wage slave on the Hill when you are twenty five years old. I worked for a Senator the summer between my junior and senior years of college and had an absolute blast. I was a dilettante and couldn’t have given a damn about issues-advocacy-votes and ideals. You already know this but all of Washington is for sale. All can be bought-every damned bit of legislation at the Federal and State level can be purchased. I know-I used to budget for it every year.

So the Salahis are not unique. As Ms. Dowd so eloquently stated, this kind of shit has been going down in Washington for centuries. In our age of instant video uploads via iPhone-Twitter Tweets and Reality Shows, the Salahis just provide us a fortified-steroidal version of the Sycophantasia Phenomenon. These people are devoid of souls. They represent sociopathy and narcissism in its most extreme form.

He; the son who has squandered what was by those who know such things-a winery that turned out some decent swill-not only by Virginia wine standards-trust me folks, this stuff has come a long way since I rolled in here in 1989-but by national standards as well. If you are foolish with your money-click on the investor offer scrolling on their winery’s homepage. This boy wants your money.

She; the ersatz Redskins Cheerleader who has probably lied about most everything on her life journey list.  I dig the name change Michaele. Michelle Ann Holt aka “Missy Holt” seems to have come from solid middle class stock like me…everything in the world to be proud of regarding one’s background here in America. Why? Because if you are smart and work hard you can still, even in the current craziness of this world, become anything you want. Instead she decided to create and live a lie and Mephistopheles arranged the perfect partner for the journey.

Leased, leverage, repossessed and slapped with so many judgments they should both be punch drunk. But no, they still have the narcissistic pang and sociopathic hunger to soldier on in their soulless journey toward infamy. Hell of a way to get it. “Why would we do this if we were not invited…and risk everything we’ve worked for”? Missy Holt Salahi said to Matt Lauer when he asked the Salahis if they crashed the party.  Worked for what? I’m surprised that Lauer didn’t ask that question in follow up. Certainly I’m not the only one who is glad that this poster child couple for Sycophantasia no longer leads the nightly television news or the front page of newspaper.

So am I anti-soiree? Poopooing that party circuit? Nope-I still enjoy a formal shindig from time to time and as I searched for visual props for this post I took a fun little walk down soiree memory lane. I’ll be the last one to stridently espouse black tie do’s and don’ts but I will admit to mistakes past and lessons learned which have pretty much landed me on a code that I’m comfortable with when I do rig up for the evening. Wing collar shirt with a shawl collared jacket? I wouldn't do it but this was years ago and it was my baby brother's wedding. I complied but insisted that I would bring my own bowtie. I'd gotten over that pre-tied stuff long before this and my brother is a prince of a guy so he allowed the latitude.

White tie and tails with Gucci loafers. Yep. It was my best buddy DCA's wedding and we've known each other since sixth grade. I refused to wear those patent plastic Corfam hot-house sweat bomb things from the formal kit hire shop. This was twenty one years ago and my mama said I could. Shut up.

If you are going to commit to formal shoddings. Do it right or not at all. Here's a Ralph interpretation from my friend M.O.

Behave yourself or you'll be confused with the help. They'll put a pitcher of "lemonade" in your hand and admonish you to take care of the guests. I think I ended up this night with those little zip tie handcuffs that the cops use on kids when they arrest them at Spring Break. I'm not proud but I'm not gonna lie to you either.

This woman coached me when I needed help with my swimming efforts after I almost drowned during my first triathlon. She was a full scholarship swimmer at the University of South Carolina and stayed in the south after college. She lived on a lake. I went to said lake for her swimming instruction. I stayed for two years.

Here's the swim coach again-it's my 30th birthday party. My buddy JBA (R.I.P.) and his wife hosted a little gathering. See that rug beneath the chair? A few hours later it was rolled up and we were shagging on that hardwood floor. Both kinds. Everything started out very civilized. But you only turn 30 once.

There was obviously one kind of shagging that didn't happen that night. This is the last time I've ever worn a matching tie-cummerbund set-I don't know. I think the oysters were a little "off" that night.

Notice that all my wingmen have self-tie bows on. Wouldn't allow any pre tied rigs at my wedding. Socks were optional too.

Cigars-Cigarettes-Tiparellos? Ever been asked to leave your own party?

I kid you not folks-our wedding was over the top fun. Every moment of it. Spectacular is an understatment and people told us so for months thereafter. Spectacular indeed-however the divorce made the wedding look like a damn Pig Pickin'. It's all good.Now.

I am sincerely sorry that I had to alter LFG's mom's face. It's mandatory. LFG loves it when I tell her the story about three of us being in this photo. LFG is in her mom's tummy. I still have the black watch bow tie in this picture. I do though, have on a solid black cummerbund. Something about those oysters on my 30th that I've never gotten over.

Ditto the reason for altering the photo-nothing malicious intended here. Just gotta keep everyone happy. We were on the way to a Casino night out in rural Virginny. One of my good buddies is on the board of a community college and this little yearly shin dig was always fun. I left my gut end Thurstons at home and had to borrow the ersatz trouser straps from my buddy JTS. Don't tell nobody. Shut up.

What did Maureen Dowd say about camera hogs? I'm not one at all but somehow I ended up in the Baltimore Sun on a Sunday morning a few years ago.

Granted-had I not been dating this stunner-instead of a picture, they'd have put a pitcher of "lemonade" in my hand and admonished me to get to work. It took the same makeup artists that "did" the Salahis four hours to get that Phantom of the Opera face shadow just right on my elfin mug.

So gussy yourselves up and have a good old formal time. Just modulate your sucking up and watch out for dodgy oysters. Sycophantasia may result.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Giddy Up Y'all

The matter of cowboy boots is similar to the issue of slippers. Confidence and indifference are required behaviors necessary to avoid the “Giddy Up” syndrome. The aforementioned syndrome and the "Big Hat-No Cattle" cliche are first cousins methinks. I mean the lattitude for ridicule when caught wearing slippers without the uvulas to do so is limited compared to the shit you can get when attempting a cowboy rig. Careful now.

And let me just tell you early on-if you EVER wear any kind of boot with shorts-make sure you have your Broke Back Mountain-Can’t Quit You t-shirt on to accompany your rig ‘cause that’s what you are broadcasting. Fine if you want to-but just make sure you stay away from my ass-literally. I'm channelling that great ensemble-The Village People.

You are not a cowboy-and for those of you who genuinely are cowboys, you probably aren’t reading this blog and if you are-none of the drivel herein applies to you. You are a rare and vanishing breed and I am humbled in your presence. You wear hats-buckles-belts not only because you can-but because it’s part of your lore-your heritage and by god, that’s what you generally wear to work. You, Cowboy, have every right to shout “poseur” to every “Big Hat-No Cattle” dilettante who is foolish enough to attempt adorning themselves with even one component of the Cowboy rig. Butcept I just realized that Cowboys don't use words like poseur 'cause if they did they would be poseurs and ...well you know what I mean. Your authority on which to base such call outs is exactly why I leave my boots and buckles at home when Texas-Oklahoma-Arizona and New Mexico.

So this post is for the rest of us. The ones of us who got cowboy outfits for Christmas when we were little kids-the ones-if you were like me-who got one new pair of cowboy boots every year. For me, this ritual occurred in the fall when my mom bought my back to school clothes. Phil Nofals Fine Shoes-the source of one hundred percent of my shoddings for the first fifteen years of my life, only carried cowboy boots in the fall. I can still smell the new leather of the Acme boots at Phil Nofals. I think I usually got black ones.

I got reacquainted with cowboy boots after college. The trad years of undergrad didn’t support a cowboy boot option. You would have been ridiculed right out of the Kappa Alpha house had you rolled in wearing anything other than L.L. Bean-Topsiders-Bass Weejuns. Strict trad code in that environment and I certainly didn’t have the uvulas to be the outlier-situational or otherwise.

Jack Kreindler, co-founder of 21 in Gotham was a big fan of cowboy boots-as evidenced here. Wonder where these babies are now?

Howdy-Doody sported a unique rendition-a man of no consequence-seeing how he had his initials tooled on his boots.

When I make another million and don’t have to give it to someone else-I’m gonna have the boys at Rocket Buster make me a fancy pair.

Every time LFG and I go to Cactus Cantina I ask if I can try on a few of their vintage boots.

Cuh-boy boots as my buddy back home,W.A.H. calls them-are probably about thirty percent of my afterhour’s casual shodding since about that same amount of swathing finds me in jeans-and I’m often in boots when wearing jeans.

I wear pretty basic cowboy boots. Noconas are my brand of choice because they are reasonably priced and are fairly high quality. I have three pairs that serve me well. 

Black-Brown-Brown Suede. And when the weather is oppressive in the summer-you can always bust out in a pair of Nocona shoe boots. The slipper of cowboy shoddings.

Green Lizard. Any Green Lizards at your house? Shut up.

The cowboy boot realm is where this normally fuzzy-diced redneck guy practices restraint. Why? Because if you push this envelope too far a real cowboy is gonna beat your ass or you are going to end up a member of the People of Wal-Mart website-if you go to Wal-Mart in an envelope pushing cowboy rig.

Toe variations-they're all good.
These are my general guidelines for the ever so shallow dip that I take into the cowboy pool. This should be considered a compass-not a detailed road map. If you are in need of more detail-call Roy Damn Rogers.

I wear boots ONLY with jeans-blue denim year around-corduroy five pocket jeans ten months a year and white jeans in the summer. NO boots and suits-dress trousers or formal wear.

I make certain that my jeans are long enough. I tend to wear flat front casual trousers a bit on the short side. That’s fine with loafers-it’s not fine to have jeans coming to a halt before the correct exit point on the bootie trail.

I wear a Polo-Ralph Western belt with a fairly modest silver buckle. 

Leave the Turkey Platter Rodeo buckle to the folks who’ve earned the right to wear them. Ass beatin’s may once again ensue over such issues.

And finally, I wouldn’t wear a cowboy hat on a bet. I defer this to those who are authentic in their western swathings. I’m an unabashed giddy up poseur but even I have limits. And my limit is met-long before I top it off with a ten gallon boater.

Onward-Giddying Up Y’all