Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pedro and The Belgians

Belgian Shoes get a lot of play these days in the trad blogosphere. Laguna Beach Trad weighs in and clearly, if you do a keyword search of my bratty cousin AllieVonBelgiqueen’s blog you’ll get tons of Belgian posits.
There’s really no middle ground on these prissy little cult shoddings. You either like ‘em or you don’t. It’s no secret that they are faves of mine. One of my first posts ever was an admonishment to guys to either wear them with confidence or don’t waste your money. Who spends north of three hundred bucks for house slippers? Here’s my closing Belgians sermon from that early post ….

“Belgian Shoes…like a bowl of biscuit batter in the South or a hanky about to be inserted into a breast pocket …can smell fear a mile away. They all have strong characteristics that must be dealt with confidently. You’ve gotta step up to all three with the same approach…treat ‘em like you own the hell out of ‘em…let ‘em know who’s boss…handle them with strength and aggression or the outcome will be embarrassing. They’ll walk all over you.”

Reggie-Lord of Darlington Hall did a Belgians post recently and asked readers to share where they had worn their Belgians. “Tell me, where do you wear your Belgians?" Here is my comment…
“Mine have traipsed with me down South Audley...'round Grosvenor Square...back to Mount Street...just prior to then slipping over to Claridges for a drink. But honestly, the dissonance, the dichotomy manifest in wearing Belgians up to the top of the Sombrero tower at South of the Border on I-95 is palpable.
So in honor of high and low brow dissonance, LFG and I stopped last week at South of the Border…the proverbial campy-kitschy white trash Mecca just south of the North Carolina line. You already know that I’m a sucker for tourist traps and junk shops and South of the Border, in all of its decline (God forbid its heyday) never disappoints.  
If ever there was a locale where Belgians might provoke more than a tisk-tisk it’s South of the Border. This is gun rack and camouflage land and an ass-whipping wouldn’t be totally out of the question here. I like pushing the proverbial envelope a bit and have now campaigned a tradition of traipsing around Pedro Land in Belgians.
We bought the usual kitsch while there…new salt and pepper shakers and plastic South of the Border placemats but the sartorial coup …why hadn’t I seen these before….was my Pedro Ascot. Dressing the neck is always problematic when one departs from a traditional necktie. I’ve provided you my two cents worth on this issue before. I don’t care what you put around your neck-ascot wise-you are still gonna project some element of Thurston Howell, III. There’s just no escaping it. Wait till the weather cools a bit and surely, my Pedro clad neck will be post worthy.

Onward, now from Boston on biz, Belgians in tow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nothing...Is What We Have

So read this Guest Post over at Blushing Hostess....from a zillion years ago.
And I wrote a little ditty over here for my fellow South Carolinian, Belle over at Life of a Southern Belle

Shut Up

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday LFG

Happy Birthday LFG. It’s hard to believe that mommy and daddy bought you home from the hospital ten years ago today. The enormity of …who you’ve already become...of participating in your journey...of being your father is such that words fail me my love. So I’ve borrowed without permission but with great admiration, the words of poet David Whyte. He wrote this about his little girl—inspired by watching her sleep in his arms.
“Carrying this child…I carry a bundle of sleeping future appearances…
while making invisible prayers to go on with her where I cannot go ….conversing with so many unknowns that must know her more intimately than I do…
and so to these unspoken shadows I make a quiet request—to the great parental darkness—to hold her when I cannot—to comfort her when I am gone…
to help her learn to love the unknown for itself—to take it gladly like a lantern for the way before her—to help her see where ordinary light will not help her…
and twin her passages of loneliness with friendship…may she find in all this day or night the beautiful centrality of pure opposites…
and a future—uncradled by me—but parented by all high call…”

I love you LFG...


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Father's Day Haul

Just being with my child would be adequate but no, little Miss LFG rolled in with Father’s Day loot that topped even the Christmas gift chart. The card would have been enough actually…at what point will these little handwritten contrivances stop being so cute?
I think LFG gets as much of a kick out of the staging—preamble—setup for surprising people with gifts as I do. We have J.Mclaughlin, Lilly, Tiffany and Paul Stuart awaiting me…in honor of whatever it is that I do to deserve such things. Look at those little feet in the lower right corner...shut up.
LFG and her mom saw to it that my long awaited Tiffany silver belt buckle will be a reality...in another week...after the engraving. Thanks little monkey.
Ahhhh...Paul Stuart Ghillies...in suede...how did my little princess know? These are worthy of their own post...stay tuned.
And she even had the good sense to have them done up with Dainite soles. This is a casual shoe and I'm on my feet a lot when working. I dance, I sing...I'm a Jester.
J. McLaughlin silk pocket square. Too small for a do-rag...I tried it already.
And check out my new GTH shorts...Lilly Pulitzer embroidered gator togs. Snappy Pimp Pants.
Wont be going commando in these though. Sad but true...just the alloverish feeling of nervousness...having croc teeth this close to wankertown...will preclude such simple pleasures.

Onward...in oppressive Southern Humidity and Heat.


Oh and P.S. .... I stole this picture from Lisa Golightly...replace that little girl with a four year old me. Replace that lady's purse with a larger Naugahyde satchel and there you have it...my mama escorting me to the top of Ghost Town in the Sky! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

White Trash Vacation

“Where are we going mama? To the mountains—with your cousins Jimmy and Fran and Aunt Mildred”. Okey doke…as if I had a choice and any trip with my one year older Cousin Jimmy would be fun.
I remain a fan of brow high and low and like many of you, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to experience things elegant and intriguing—literally bumping in to Marissa Berenson at the Ritz in Paris immediately comes to mind. 
But I also relish with equal enthusiasm Albert G’s barbecue joint in Tulsa Oklahoma whose locale is a former gas station. I sat in what was an oil change bay while enjoying their version of the hallowed pig.
My mother says that everything in my life happened when I was four. I counter her silliness with the fact that my memories are most vivid beginning at said age and indeed, the summer of my fourth year saw us embark on a vacation week that to this day, rivets my memory with what was possibly the most fun I EVER had as a child. Butcept maybe when Roxanne Burgess and I played “doctor” at recess one time—in the eleventh grade.
So we piled in to my mama’s station wagon—air conditioning wide a_s open and four kids cousins…brother and sister squared … fighting like cats and dogs. My mama drove a serial line up of wood paneled station wagons for twenty five years. We embarked on our Smokey mountain jaunt in a wagon that was similar to the car pictured at the masthead of this drivel. I can see my mama right now, switching her Tareyton 100’s cig from one hand to the other so that she could use her best hand to reach back and slap my aggravating little self into a vertigoid state for messing with my sister. My sis would be about seven at this time. I hated her—she hated me.
These kids might be a bit older than me when I made the Smokey Mountain Pilgrimage but the era seems about right. Brother-sister-cousins-bookends...that harassed and harangued each other constantly.
Maps? Itineraries? Nope. We were just headed to “the mountains” whatever that meant. I’d never seen actual mountains. And through four year old eyes, the Smokies…older, smoother and less jagged…more undulating and rolling than their younger arrogant Rocky Mountain cousins, were mind blowing for me. My vivid imagination already had Daniel Boone and Mingo…Fess Parker and Ed Ames…waiting on me somewhere up in the hills of our destination.
I’m thinking that our first stop was somewhere near Brevard because I can still feel the icy waters of Sliding Rock. I can also remember standing out in front of a little cabin…certainly it was one of the motor lodges that hosted our stay…and not being able to see the blue sky when looking up.
I can’t assemble words to explain this but my little neck wasn’t craning enough to see beyond the surrounding mountains and I was flipping out—in a good way. All I could see was green when I looked up and I talked about it all night. For all I knew we were on another planet—actually planet North Carolina—about four hours from home. I rested well that night...knowing that I'd need all of my energy to conquer our first tourist trap of the next morning. Tweetsie Railroad.
Tweetsie Railroad tested all of my mettle as a young frontiersman. The formulaic showdown would be repeated at Ghost Town in the Sky as well as at Frontier Land. I loved each redundant display and my mom was only too happy to endure a stop at each ersatz Western xenophobic kill the Indians and bad guys tourist trap.
But the train robbery on Tweetsie Railroad almost did me in. I was screaming and hollering and burying my head in my mama’s lap while looking up every second or so to see if I needed to defend the life and honor of same said woman. Good thing I didn’t because ultimately, I buried my little head so far inside her big ass vinyl pocketbook—literally ostriching my crew cut noggin in there amongst her little packets of Kleenex, Tareyton 100’s, a huge tube of red lipstick and other mama supplies. She coulda just zipped my head up in there. And I can remember—it was prolly ninety-five degrees outside—and it must have been four hundred degrees inside the sanctuarial recesses of that pocketbook. I was awash in a combination of four year old little boy sweat and tears but felt marginally safer in there. Back in the car, I recounted a different story involving my conduct during the raid but was immediately branded a coward by my cousin Jimmy. It was ok. We had five more days.
I think Frontier Land was next. Not to be confused with Frontier Land at Disneyland. This contrivance was a bit more down-market. I like to recall it as being, shall we say, more granular.
And granular it was as we stood up on the walls of the fort and watched the ensuing massacre. Kinda like watching a cock or dog fight I suppose. Can you imagine the outcries of a dozen human rights and civil liberties groups if the same campy version of this stuff prevailed today? God I love my childhood memories.
And another interesting commonality comes to mind—the chair lift. I suppose that a bunch of southern flatlanders got a kick out riding these things to whatever not too far away destination it delivered us—because every one of these places had one. I was scared—real scared. I didn’t bury my head in my mama’s pocketbook but I clenched that mutha with a strong grip—of the lions paw.
The Ghost Town in the Sky chairlift delivered us to...you guessed it...another Bonanza movie set just begging for a shootout.
The next night my mama wanted to see some play about the Cherokee Nation’s displacement…the whole Trail of Tears thang and of course, I had to go. I wore my new coonskin cap that I got at Frontier Land. It was an orlon-dacron-whatever “__on” synthetic coon fur rig that I think, had been glued to leftover bathing caps. It coulda been three below while wearing my Crocket-Boon lid and my little head woulda still been sweating. Jimmy got one too.
I don’t think mine was as nice as this fella’s but that’s ok—my ears weren’t as big as his either. My sister yanked the tail off on about day four.There’s just something about a coonskin cap without the tail that shouts nerd and I was heartbroken. Till my mama reached inside that big ole vinyl pocketbook of hers—this was not a purse—and with safety pin in hand—put me back in coonskin cap business. 
I didn’t like Unto These Hills but I allowed all of us to go because mama wanted to see it. And after all, she was financing this entire boondoggle. Well my dad was actually financing it and you can best believe he took a big ole pass on joining us for these trips.
Ruby Falls was chilly down in the bowels. Stalactites and stalagmites? Who gives a sh_t? Let’s go back to the motor lodge and swim.
Rock City saw my next tchotchke acquisition. To this day I’m a sucker for a touristy-campy-resort junk shop. Jimmy and I got a canteen in a pouch. Labeled “Rock City Firewater”. 
Identical to this one I found on eBay. Probably came from the same vendor…just different branding. 
I put Kickapoo Joy Juice in mine—and it got all sticky with the sugar and such. Jimmy’s fell from his hands as we walked along one of the treacherous bridges at Rock City. My sister offered to scale down the ravine and fetch it. My mama vetoed it and Jimmy got another one when we went back through the gift shop. They were probably a dollar.
Incline Railway was a must do. I won’t retell the ostrich in vinyl pocketbook sand story again. Suffice it to say that my head was interred just as deep during this absurd defiance of gravity.
Then we finally hit the big city. Nashville. And we stayed in a hotel for the first time on this sortie. Until now we’d stayed in those quaint little roadside motels. I prefer to call them motor courts ‘cause back then—honorable middle class people were their carriage. Not the “by the hour” Third Rate Romance clientele that South Asian entrepreneurs today rely so heavily on to stay in business. This might have been the first time I had room service.
Why Nashville? My mama’s boyfriend was performing at the Mother Church—the Ryman Auditorium and she was gonna see him come hell or high water. Johnny Cash performed and for all of the vivid memories I’ve shared in this tale so far, I can say unequivocally that I don’t remember a damn thing about that night regarding the Opry performers. 
All I remember is that it was hot in there. They gave us paper fans with wooden stick handles—surely they’d be worth something today. Seems like they had a picture of the Ryman and a picture of Jesus on them. I could be mixing up the funeral home paper fans with the Opry ones. Who knows. I was four. 
I also remember the pews—you sat on pews in the Ryman and I can remember my little legs not coming near close enough to touch the floor. I didn’t bury my head in mama’s vinyl pocketbook but I probably fell asleep on it—while Johnny sang to mama.

Onward—On Vacation