Friday, July 30, 2010

William Maxwell: Seersucker Insouciance

Here’s editor and author William Maxwell. In seersucker—and an unbuttoned button-down. Certainly in his dotage but until the end, very much present…and interested in people and their words.
My first reaction to the unbuttoned button-down was a bit of a Gianni Agnelli esque takeaway. You know…careless aplomb…unfinished finishing touches…watch worn on the outside cuff of a dress shirt… insouciance but not arrogance. I’ll never be in their league. My insecurities demand that I crow, preen and shout about my whateverishness. They just had it.
But then it dawned on me simultaneously that William Maxwell was anything but an Agnelli. Too gentle though, I’ll speculate, to be offended by my comparison. Maxwell probably didn’t have a business or commercial bone in his body. Agnelli’s business acumen is legendary. What they both probably had in common was an adherence to a code…each their own… regarding dress and deportment whose endgame said that neither studied it too much.
I’ve been on a New Yorker magazine tear of late and it’s been great fun. Fuelled by a reader who kindly sent me Genet, the biography of Janet Flanner. Flanner delivered to Harold Ross and the New Yorker gang, dispatches from Paris for fifty years.
But before I could begin the Flanner book I decided to reference a thing or two from the Harold Ross biography. And then I had to pull William Shawn from the shelf. And then Truman Capote popped his elfin-ass little head up again as a result of my peek in on Shawn. I’m telling you, ADD is a gift and a curse. Oh, and I was so re-captivated by the Ross bio that I read the entire thing again.
So then at five thirty this morning I picked up this little William Maxwell tribute book. I’ve read at least once , all of the aforementioned save Flanner. Same for the Maxwell tribute but I remembered dogging a few page ears and so here we are…Maxwellizing on an early Friday morning. Editors intrigue me. I don’t know how Maxwell Perkins tended to Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Wolfe…while also loving a wife and five daughters. I do know that he worked all day with his hat on and had martinis everyday at lunch over at 21. Whatever works I suppose.
Unlike Perkins though, William Maxwell was a prolific editor and writer. I’ve yet to read any of Maxwell’s stories but I will.  And he edited the biggies while in the employ of The New Yorker…Updike, Salinger, Nabokov and a guy named Cheever to name a few. I love what Eudora Welty said about Maxwell the editor… "For fiction writers, he was the headquarters."

A William Maxwell Portrait helped me see what a life of well measured and properly cadenced literary guidance nets out. Legacies are self explanatory and the acolytes, protégées and people who simply loved Maxwell are clear in their convictions.

I like what Michael Collier wrote about his Maxwell experience... “I was to learn that what one should live for more than anything else are small moments of overwhelming astonishment.”  Damn. That probably sums up Maxwell right there.

And Edward Hirsch said… “I had never met anyone, let alone an old man, who seemed so emotionally present. It ran against the grain of my experience to find someone who had not been stopped or closed up, who had not been defeated by old age.”  Emotionally present? Shit, people will be hiding from my ass if I’m still around at eighty.

And what Maxwell said about genuine interest in others…
“All pleasure is got from the rubbing-off of somebody else’s pleasure in something. From eye to eye, skin to skin. A cousin of love making.”  
Charlie Rose offers us an interesting peek at Maxwell. When you have time, take a look at this.

What I’ll leave you with though, is a dichotomy that makes me respect Maxwell all the more. Get the book and read the profound difference in the way Donna Tartt delvers homage versus Ben Cheever’s uniquely assembled gratitude.

Donna Tartt…  “Love at first sight? I can safely say that I loved him the instant I saw him. He carried himself carefully (age had made him frail) but as old as he was—well into his eighties then—he was still very handsome. His spare Midwestern elegance…”

And his paucity of words manifested in the inscription of Maxwell’s book So Long, See You Tomorrow, gifted to Tartt…

“Dear Donna,
I hope you like my farmers-

Ben Cheever… “William Maxwell had trouble believing in God. I had trouble believing in Bill Maxwell.”    and “…I suppose you could say that I was expecting Bill to morph into my father, and there’s some truth here. I missed my father and what I missed most acutely in my father was the occasional brilliant flash of rage, which used to illuminate my world. So I was looking for lightning but to reduce my friendship with Bill to its connection with my father would be the same as to conclude that a man with an umbrella is a meteorologist.”

So I’m pleased that my five thirty gander at William Maxwell this morning was evocative. On the other hand, damn you sblr for setting me on this latest round of .... AlgonquinRoundishSmartMagazinesBygoneEraLiteraryVoyeurism.
Onward. With no idea what color my blog background should be. But realizing that if I was more confident of the content, I wouldn’t give a damn about the aesthetics. Damn, that’s me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mid Week Trad Musings and Give Me Your Feedback

Post Update: I got feedback that the black background on my blog made it difficult to read so I changed it. Now I'm getting grief from regular readers. For example...

Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 9:57 AM To: D     G Subject: today's PS

I DO NOT like the new color scheme.  I may go on a commenting strike until you change it - and that brown - yuck.  The original was elegant but this is just mundane.

From:] Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:42 PM To: D G Subject: RE: today's PS

I mean what I say. The distinctive look is G-O-N-E
Ok people, help me out. What should the damn thing look like?
Now back to my post....God has blessed me with a current workload that is rewarding and demanding. I’ve always said that life is too short to do something professionally that isn’t enjoyable but let’s be realistic here…some aspect of all careers is less enjoyable than others. I’m cranking out follow-up material and new project proposals this week…not as fun as being front and center with bright clients who are willing to be challenged and grow. But I can’t have one aspect of my gig without the other.

And so my blessed dilemma leaves me too busy to craft anything approaching erudition or captivating for my blog. I’ve got tons of raw material and when I have some time, I’ll surely fire off a zinger or two for you. For example, we will...
Witness me gloating over the fact that I now have copies of Downbeat Magazine from the late 1930’s and you don't. Issues that include the edgy rhetoric of a twenty seven year old George Frazier. I’ve had to remind myself several times that these trade rag stories I’m reading were published in the 30’s…why? Because other than being just a delightful assemblage of wit and words, this stuff would be edgy by today’s standards. A testament to Frazier’s budding Acidmouth genius. There is no wonder why Richard Merkin loved George Frazier. And thanks to a Maxminimus reader, I've now engaged in a very nice email exchange with George Frazier, IV. He's given me permission to post some of the musings that he and I have shared about his father. And people wonder why I don't watch television. 
Discuss the merits of using dark brown polish for the maiden shine on whiskey shell cordovan monk straps. Cordovan delivers depth and “patina upon arrival” but the lighter versions of cordovan tend to look a bit plastic-ey until you rough ‘em up and shine ‘em up a bit. I care not what your opinion is regarding the outcome of my dark brown appliqué. The fact of the matter is that these babies are now wallowing in depth of sheen and patinated pleasure. And on certain days, they’ve invited my feet to join them. Shut up.
Debate to what degree I should give Thom Browne…the sartorial PeeWee Herman…any credit for the trend in slimmer flat front trousers and shorter pant lengths. I’m way too commercial versus artistic when it comes to said assessments and I still think the guy’s stuff is a joke. But I’m gonna have to throw him a small bone. But not a nice soup bone that a dog would relish. Maybe a chicken neck-bone. My aunt Tootie could gnaw a neck-bone like a work of art. She'd throw it out back after finishing with it and the dogs would look at it like "...and you want me to do what with that damn thing?" We’ll see.
Allow me to explain why I gladly though, give Sid Mashburn credit for taking the Southern Prep legacy to an edgier place. I shortened and frayed an old pair of 501s in homage to his style tweak. It’s a look I like. Sid gets it.
Ask while speaking of sartorial Atlanta, whatever happened to the pugnacious, pudgy poseur Edgar Pomeroy? He looks like Truman Capote...but in size 58 font.
Now I’m not saying that Pomeroy or any other clothier is for certain having Adrian Jules or Martin Greenfield do the initial cut and sew on their garments. The Pomeroy goods may be imagined, cut, sewn and finished right there on the premises. After all, Atlanta has a rich history of highly capable tailors flocking there to ply their talents. Don't misunderstand me...Jules and Greenfield do stellar work. But it won’t be purely bespoke and therefore price points should reflect this. Word is that a Pomeroy suit can cost up to 5k. If so, then every damn pattern snip and stitch better be bespoken. ‘Cause now were talking Anderson and Sheppard and maybe even Huntsman price points.
And these Pomeroy slippers better be for women. These things look like the result of a pair of Cole-Haans, a pair of Ballys and a ballet slipper getting a little too jiggy in a hot tub threesome with no birth control. And this is coming from ADG…aka…Eddie Espadrille…Sammy Slipper…Bobby Belgian. I’m gay. From the ankles down. I’ve got references to support that all above the ADG ankle remains voraciously “the other way”.
Argue I’m sure, over my post on Jeans and the Middle Aged Man. What kind to wear and at what age should you hang them up for good. Surprise, I have strong opinions here. If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.
Discuss why I believe my Tiffany ADG belt buckle father’s day gift from LFG will be a lifetime treasure.
Deconstruct the rumour regarding whether or not I’m really the love child of Gilligan and Thurston Howell, III
 The evidence is scant but there are some of you who insist on this being sorted out.
Examine my latest martini photo collection. Recognizing that the Marriott in Dallas last week provided me martinis with kind of a safety handle—double gripper stem. Aesthetically vulgar but useful when you have the shakes and manda-damn-tory when you have the shakes, rattles and rolls. Oh shut the h_ll up.
But then sigh with relief that at home, I don’t need a martini glass with training wheels or gutter bumpers. But I do need jalapeno stuffed olives.
Recognize that out of every one thousand people I see in airports, one will have a level of trad style that reflects simplicity and good taste…without breaking the bank. Case in point above…DFW last week.
Then allow me to contradict the above assertion by having me admit that I travel in this getup for several reasons. First, I don’t give a damn. Second, it’s been averaging a hundred degrees where I’ve been. Third, you know that I don’t like to pack sportcoats so I wear them on the plane, then steam them for hours in the hotel shower.
And finally, I’ll force you to admit that if you could traverse an airport concourse in this rig with any level of confidence, you’d do the same damn thing. Don’t touch this one if you can’t pull it off. There’s a difference between people staring and people laughing. The day people stop staring at me will be the day I worry. The day people are laughing at you is the day you need not take on the edgier ADG contrivances. Commando in this heat BTW.
NOT open the debate again regarding the Adirondack—Gibson Island genesis issue. These are Gibson Island chairs so shut up. And they are no longer British Racing Green. Not that I don’t still do from time to time, some British and some Racy shit in these chairs…it’s just that we needed a little sprucing up over here at CasaMinimus. Racy shit-bad choice of words. Sorry.
Allow me to once again, gloat chauvinistically regarding why it is so damn easy to be a guy and that there’s never a more compelling bit of evidence than my week’s worth of toiletries for Dallas.

Onward. Random even when medicated.

Oh and Ps…

A couple of housekeeping things …I’m sorry that the black background was challenging for many of you to read. I’m a techno-luddite when it comes to these kinds of things and as soon as I got some specific feedback on the need to change it, I did. You might find some old posts that need font color adjustment though. If you do run across one, I’d appreciate an email letting me know so that I can fix it.

Also, I’m not sure about this Feedblitz service. So I’m going to add the Google Friends thing as an alternative and request, if you want to, that you sign up for my blog via that venue.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Happened At The Giant... store.

Anonymous said...
"Your devoted fans want to know what happened at the Giant on Saturday".

The reason Anonymous said that is because I said...

…”If all you want to do is get laid, save your money and simply wear that rig to the grocery store. That would be the Giant grocery store in Old Town Alexandria…4:15 pm tomorrow afternoon. I’ll have my coon skin cap on”.

And then MegTown over at PigTown Design emailed me this article from the Washington Post. Kinda sums it up I reckon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

About Your Online Dating Photos

I never considered the dating scene. Why should I? Marriage renders that particular ritual irrelevant…or at least it should. I had no idea that I’d be dating again in my early forties and my first post-marriage year saw me devoid of any appetite for doing so.

Then I woke up from my divorce trauma hibernation. Deciding it would be nice to connect with someone again, I pondered my options. The online thing was something that flourished during my marriage so I was clueless regarding who-what-how-why. I remember personal ads in the back of Washingtonian magazine years ago and I simply figured it was a venue for losers. Sorry.

It’s one thing to hit your neighborhood bar with your wingmen in your twenties and meet girls. It’s quite another when you are a divorced father of a little-one and your schedule is anything but easy and flexible. Plus, I’ve never been the bar cruiser kind of guy. Then someone suggested the online venue.

I don’t currently have a reason have an online personal ad but my experiences doing so are generally more positive than not. You can discover really nice, smart, fun, decent people who are essentially seeking the same things. But there are pitfalls and the horror stories from this venue are usually told by women about their experiences with men. I’ve heard some doozies and regretfully, am not surprised by the predatory behavior of my knuckle dragging gender. So yes, it’s probably an easier venue for guys. And women do need to be extra vigilant in how they manage their internet dating activities.

Which brings me to the motivation for this story. I’ve seen thousands of personal ads by now and while I’d never purport to offer assistance regarding what women should write in their profiles, I do have a word or two regarding your photos. All of the snaps that I’ve posted in this story are from online dating profiles that I’ve gandered.

You already know this but let me remind you…again. Guys are visual. Guys ogle. Just because ADG happens to read and enjoy words doesn’t mean that all guys are going to read every word of your profile. If you refer to yourself as “classy”…use “party” as a verb…tell me that you “love Vegas”…then I’m not gonna be contacting you but again, I’m probably not your type of  guy anyway. I’m not suggesting you remove those words from your profile. Chances are you’ll like some of the idiots who get turned on by those declarations and you’ll have a great time…in the heart shaped hot tub…in your room…partying…in Vegas. Classy. I did get a chuckle out of reading this profile line a while ago amidst harvesting pictures for this post… “I've never started a sentence with... "my friends describe me as," and I don't wear sweatpants with "juicy" written on the ass….” Now that’s my kind of gal.

So let’s talk pictures and please, let me help you…
Helmets are bad. Your profile reflects a woman of substance and eclectic interests. There’s plenty to pique a man’s interest therein. But then you had to go and put the damn helmet photo in the lineup.Never forget what a helmet photo did for Michael Dukakis.

 What the flip were you thinking? Every guy surely, would like to spend a Saturday at one of those driving experience schools. We're glad you had a big time last Saturday but you look like Atom Ant's Aunt.
You are otherwise stunning. Your profile story and other pictures are great. But a helmet and a hat...who told you this was ok to post on Off with it. Now.
Even with the jaunty tilt that you and your son are manifesting, this coal miner's daughter thang ain't working.
And it's not just helmets. Your other photos compensate for this one, Missy. You are smart, cute and well written/spoken. But I ain't the Frito F_ _ _ing Bandito.
I realize that you are teaching kids the merits of wearing helmets. LFG and I think your efforts are more than honorable. But what possessed you to believe that this was a good photo for your digital romance efforts? The dog emailed me and threatened to litigate if I didn't black patch his eyes too.
Swim with 'em. LFG did and her photo is priceless. But she was six years old. You honey chile, are gonna have to brush your teeth before you and I do any knacker nibblin'. And look what the salt water did to your highlights. 
I’ve never been to Egypt, or Syria, or Jordan or anywhere else in either North Africa or the Middle East where tourists acquire photos astride camels. I’m sure if I did, I’d be first in line to get my souvenir snapshot…ADG commanding the phlegm flinging dromedarial tourist trappist. But please girls, nobody looks comfortable on a camel. Butcept maybe the natives and maybe some of the old boys in the camel corps of decades past. It’s hard to visualize you on my camel colored sofa after seeing your nervous ass tentatively perched…camelistically. And what did I tell you about helmets?

Here's Trixie...just before Stumpy blew a wad of snot on her. The camel photo opp is the anti-elegant converse to the beauty and artistry of a woman astride a show jumper…gracefully…mid-air with jodhpurs painted on those athletic quads and hacking jacket topping off the athletic commandress of horseflesh. The airborne equestriennesque beauty of equine and feminine forms. Damn. 
So double up on your show jumping shots and dump the camel snaps ok?
May I approach a touchy subject? Breasts. The woman above, at least to me, is beautiful in so many ways. She is confident and sexy. Appropriately provocative in a halter assemblage that says "I don't need plastic orbs to feel like a woman". Now for the rest of you....I know that you saved forever to get the dosh for your implants. I respect the self discipline you displayed when you opted to save another year for them instead of financing your siliconalia at 18% interest. Suze Orman and I are both thrilled. I also know firsthand that there are women who look and feel so much better as a result of having moderately sized augmentation. 
But why, just because they told you the costs for augmentation were the same, regardless of implant size, did you get those absurd things? Are you sure you should be on a dating site? I understand there are sites devoted exclusively to the hooker trade.
You are fifty years old. Happy I know, to be back out in the singles scene. But please. This is the very reason I avoid theme parties and costume centric gatherings. It ain’t pretty.
Your profile states that you teach Sunday School. Ok...but let this be a lesson for all women when they post pictures to complement their dating profile. This shot promises that every freak out there with a boot-foot fetish will barrage your inbox with poorly contrived, drooling rhetoric, offering to rock your world. So if that’s whatcha want…
The Charlie’s Angels pose has been done. And done. And done. It was cute. In 2003. Now come and sit in my damn lap.
And let me offer a perspective on posting bathing suit shots. This woman is forty three years old. Stunning is an understatement. But if you post this type of photo, don’t get pissed off when you receive three hundred emails a day from guys that want to bed you. It’s gonna happen. My female friends forward me emails from guys who are going for broke in their attempt to see and touch this flesh in situ. Seems a bit contradictory for women to have a photo similar to this one and have an all caps bolded headline that says “LOVE ME FOR ME AND NOT MY BODY—IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A HOOKUP, MOVE ON”. No...I’m looking to join your damn book club. On “naked night” only though.
We know that you are a pretty good amateur photographer. There are hobby sites just for that purpose. When a guy sees a profile that says “16 photos” they generally think “nice” as they prepare for the visual treat associated with perusing said profile. 
Gotta tell you girls, when fourteen of the photos are fine-art efforts, the guys who are gonna contact you probably still live with mama. If that’s what you’re looking for, then skip this morsel of advice.
And finally, take my Tweetsie Railroad souvenir vest off. Put some fifty year old woman appropriate clothes on and repost your pictures. You are confused about what it really takes to earn the interest of a man for any connection beyond a one nighter. I can appreciate the discombobulation since this is your initial dating foray after a twenty four year marriage. Your confidence is shaky and you think that if you show us from the get-go that your body is still hot, we’ll be patient and get to know you for you—realizing that your physicality is part of the total package that we—all of us guys want. Trust me when I tell you that you’re headed for a Tweetsie train wreck right out of the post twenty four year marriage station. If all you want to do is get laid, save your money and simply wear that rig to the grocery store. That would be the Giant grocery store in Old Town Alexandria…4:15 pm tomorrow afternoon. I’ll have my coon skin cap on.

Sorry girls but most guys except me are still good old knuckle dragging hard heads who need little encouragement to misread your intentions. Make sure your pictures overstate...redundantly who you are and what you really want. Otherwise this whole online love connection effort of yours is gonna be trouble. Chances are that your accompanying words are gonna pale in comparison to your visual assertions.

Onward…from Dallas…but coon skinning it over to the Giant tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jesus and Seersucker

LFG and I have put a wrap on another summer week together. I'm now sitting in Dallas for a few thank God, billable days... I’ll have one more LFG week before before school starts and to say that life with LFG is flying by is an understatement. I’ve had several people tell me that these transitions I’m amidst with her are only beginnings of many, many more. I get that; thank-you…but as the father of only one child, I’ll remain in denial for a while longer.
We enjoyed a few fun days post Rehoboth right in our hood but speaking of hoods…LFG and I stopped for lunch in Annapolis on the way home the other day. There’s a quaint little enclave on a hill overlooking the river, above the Naval Academy. LFG’s mom and I almost bought a house there years ago...this house. I drove LFG by the house and told her how her mom and I almost lived there years ago, before she was born. We speculated about how fun it would have been to live there and how pretty the little hilltop patch is today. Funny, I can engage in this banter with LFG but I can’t even darken the street of our marital neighborhood. Shut up.
So here’s just a quick flurry of randomness and I suppose that I’d better address the associated title of this post before I lose you. LFG and I spent the day Saturday with one of my business partners and his little daughter, LPS, who is three months older than LFG. We swam at their pool and then the four of us went to the Saturday evening handlin’. LPS's mommy was out of town for the weekend so it was a father-daughter exclusive. LFG giggles when I tell her that she was in mommy’s tummy when her mom and I picked up LPS and her new parents from National Airport. LPS was adopted through a stellar outreach program for unwed mothers based in Utah. 
Here’s a post pool picture of LFG and LPS that lives on my fridge. They are pruny-post pool waterlogged three year olds. Dig the LPS-LFG necklace creations.
I snapped a photo of these ten year olds in the same spot the other day. Time…where’s it going?
Ah, the utility of shell cordovan penny loafers. Poolside one moment and church the next. It’s all good.
I wore my Flusser seersucker sans tie…I should wear more of my suits this way…I’d get more use out of them. Sunday handlin’ always leaves much to be desired sartorially but the Saturday extravaganza is a sartorial goat-rodeo. I’m not judging--yes I am. The Man cares not what you wear to fellowship. I on the other hand…I do.
And a couple of miscellaneous closers. LFG is currently assessing her color options for the bedroom re-do. She’s declared the Hello Kitty themed, Pepto-Bismol pink girl cave…passé. Stay tuned.
 “Daddy, what’s a seam ripper” … Well in this context LFG, it’s a little device I use to remove extraneous pockets from non-bespoke shirts like the two Andover Shop beauties I snagged the other week. Other contexts are not to be shared with you, my little princess. Shhhh…
Onward, to Dallas and beyond.