Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calder's Circus

I love Alexander Calder. And I love all of his forms…his tools…his media. I just think his work is flat-out brilliant in a whimsically geometric way. And for some reason, I tend to believe that unlike me in my present state, Calder did not use narcotics.

I loved the Calder-Miro show years ago and I stumbled upon, literally by accident, the Calder Portraits show several months ago in Washington. As a collector of caricature, I was flummoxed, delightfully floored by what I saw. The brilliance dealt the first blow but then I was bitch-slapped by the mechanics—the technique of bending wire. Just amazing.
I could posit several examples to support my amazement with the Calder Portraits but for now; I’ll let Babe Ruth stand as exhibit number one.
I love the child in Calder and I’ve loved having LFG as my co-conspirator and giggly cohort in reliving my childhood during these last ten years. I can’t speak for others but for me, living amidst this ever so complex world, I sometimes need a huge ass dose of whimsy. And Calder is a great dealer in such goods. Look at the creative clutter in his studio. I've found a new excuse for my mess. 
 Just realized that the three previous paragraphs begin with “I love(d)”. That ain’t that bad is it? LFG and I got great Christmas presents this year and I’m gonna do a post on our loot. But I wanted to tell a story about what might be the best gift I received. I got a book about Calder’sCircus—a child’s book. And no it wasn’t intended for LFG. It was specifically meant for me. And I love it.
Calder’s genius is manifest in all of his media. But for me, there’s nothing better than seeing it emerge through the absolutely crazy characters in his Circus. 
The mechanics and the art appeal to me in etchings and drypoints. Same goes for my late 19th century toy soldiers. Technology and art…left and right brain dialectics. Calder pulls every dialectic lever with his Circus. It’s all there man!
I’d pay serious money to hang out with Calder and ask him about his Circus…what motivated him…where the ideas came from…did he ever get frustrated and trash a prototype in disgust…did he chain smoke cigs sometimes while bending wires and swathing these little contrivances…how did he know when he got one “right”?
“Human Salvation Lies in the Hands of the Creatively Maladjusted” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed Dr. King. Indeed.
Onward…with Oxycontin and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. One less tooth and an implant pending.

ADG II and LFG—In South Carolina

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Sears Christmas Catalog 1969

The proper name for it was the Wish Book. But we weren't much on the proper over here when I was a kid. I’m sitting as I type this, in the same room…in the same spot where my sister and I would fight like cats and dogs over the catalog till my mama intervened. The most efficacious stun-gun in her arsenal from just before Thanksgiving till Christmas Eve was “Santa Claus is watching you.” That simple phrase would have us compliant in a nanosecond.
The Christmas catalog was our Google search. It was our Internet. It was the congregation of the bits and pieces that we’d seen on Saturday morning television ads and at Woolworths and Kress on Evans Street…an amalgamation of options. I suppose it was intended to facilitate trade-offs and focus so that young’uns could tell mama and daddy exactly what to round up for Santa to drop off at the house. That particular intent was lost on me but then again, Ritalin and Adderall weren’t standard pediatric unguents in a Florence, South Carolina of 1969. And when the big book would arrive in the mail, I was riveted. It would prime my imagination with options from alternating pages of grayscale newsprint and in-your-face color depictions of any and everything I knew I wanted. And it offered things that I’d never seen before but suddenly realized that I couldn’t live without.
The 1969 edition of the holy book of goods depicted things that I suppose I received over probably three or four Christmases. Seems like the  categories of toys I coveted had staying power and  most were generally focused on death and destruction or good over evil. The good over evil thang was huge come to think of it. 
GI Joe…far and away my favorite childhood toy. I still enjoy reading about the Hassenfelds up at Hasbro in Pawtucket Rhode Island rolling the dice on this one. Literally betting it all on this game-changer. “Boys won’t play with dolls…nor should they.”
Ok, it’s an “Action Figure.”  And my neighborhood buddies and I would dig trenches and set up battle scenes and then blow it all up with M-80’s. Yep, M-80’s and Cherry Bombs. There was nothing delicate and baby doll about how we rained chaos on GI Joe and his comrades.
But before I had a GI Joe, my mama unwittingly secured for me a soldier named “Stony”. Stony was a feeble attempt to compete with GI Joe and I’m pretty sure they launched in tandem. I don’t fault my mama for choosing Stony over Joe. She loved me—still does—and wouldn't intend to inflict undeserved emotional distress upon me. But it happened. I’ll leave the Stony v. Joe story for now. It deserves its own blog post. Seriously.
Before we leave GI Joe, take a gander at this high-tech 1960's teaser above.
wasn't much on science fiction and space fantasy but one year Moon McDare was a home run for me. There were several other companies that attempted to compete with Hasbro in the action figure category and McDare, I think, was made by Gilbert. Stony and the Johnny West series were courtesy, I think, of Marx.
I had a brief go with the Wild West stuff but abandoned it quickly for my stalwart GI Joe...stuff.
And of course "Geronimo started it"...
Major Matt Mason was pretty cool and I remember stringing up the jet ski like space scooters that Mason and his team rode…in my case…right here in Galaxy 69—my mother’s living room. “Billy Blastoff?” Please. Seems like he went on to make films—of a certain genre.
Here...get to know Major Matt Mason courtesy of YouTube.
Combat Gear. A couple of episodes of Rat Patrol or Combat was all the fodder we needed to roam the neighborhood in search of Nazis and (sorry…it was Florence-1969) and Japs. But since this was at the height of Vietnam, we soon ended up at Mangum’s Army-Navy Store on Dargan Street, procuring the genuine goods. Ten bucks and a station wagon ride courtesy of somebody’s mama would assure a head-to-toe authentic army gear kit-out at Mangum’s.
Bottom of the left page…the Johnny Seven. Folks, words cannot convey the excitement manifest in this one weapon. This one…do all…kill all…protect all device that would have rendered Rambo cowering behind Pudgy Burgess’s mama’s Vista Cruiser station wagon…begging for mercy. Eight dollars and forty-four cents is nothing to pay for that level of security. Shut up.
I mean really. What kid wouldn't want the Johnny Seven after seeing this top secret-classified television commercial update on the J-7 capabilities?
Battle Ground Europe and the Battle of Fort Apache. Not that you care, but these extruded plastic monochromatic “army men” were the death knell for hand painted lead soldiers. The reasoning (other than the fact that lead tends to lower the I.Q. of kids…an already pervasive problem in the South Carolina of my youth) was simple. A kid could get a hundred plastic ones in all guises/poses/iterations of action for what ten lead ones cost. And I had millions of the plastic ones. LFG and I still find one now and then when walking the grounds of my youth.
"Capacity crowd" my a_s. I only have one story to tell about a rip-off. Stony wasn’t a rip-off…just an innocent mistake by my mama. But the NFL Big Bowl Electric Football set was a flat out rip-off. No other way to put it. You set up your teams and hit the “go” button on this electrically mediated contest. The intent was, I reckon, for the vibrating surface of the field to send the players in their proper directions. It was a hoax folks. The players vibrated their way in every direction but where they were supposed to go. There was NO control over them and therefore NO fun associated with this game. I abandoned it within an hour. Funny, about six months later I saw my Aunt Tootie sitting on it and giggling.
The bikes. Spyder death traps and my buddies and I HAD to have them. And we did.
I’ll close this reminiscence with a page from the “these things will kill you” department. I’m not an NRA member and I realize that we no longer live in the world of my youth. But I think every little boy, and little girl for that matter, needs to at least once, shoot a tin can with a BB Gun.

Oh, and one other thing as I sit here in the neighborhood of my youth. There are still tons of kids living on the adjacent streets and the one I grew up on. By seven a.m. on Christmas morning and for the ensuing week off from school, the kids of my youth were swarming the streets and lawns, reveling in the excitement of Christmas toys, bikes and games. In today's online, electronic gadget and gamer world, the same streets are abandoned.


Onward…at home in Florence. Writhing in pain and awaiting the verdict on having the root canal done here or when I get back to Virginia on Friday. No better place to be when in pain than at home with your mama.

ADG the Second and Lady LFG the Only. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heavy Tweed Christmas

LFG and I wish for you and yours a magnificent holiday and great New Year. Our 2011 has been incredible and I’m anxious to have LFG over in the morning to open all of this and then head to S.C. to see my mom.
I’ve already amassed gifts both material and otherwise that reward me far beyond what I deserve. And one of the real treats was the news that Heavy Tweed Jacket is back up and running for the Holidays.
I urge you to leave a message over there and request that Mr. Heavy Oxford Cloth Tweedmon to leave the site up in perpetua.
Happy Holidays!
ADG and LFG

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Heck With Hitchens—I’ve Got a New Girlfriend!

Her name is LFG. And she’s a dancer.
And she’s growing up so fast I can hardly stand it.
In addition to that bit of breaking news…we have more superficial randomanalia.And I figured we needed it over here at my little corner of the world-after all the delightful pyrotechnics that the Hitchens mention created.  I would have been disappointed and all of you if the fireworks hadn't launched. This load of randomness includes the fact that my Mini Cooper S is quite impractical around Christmas time. But Mountain Dew always seems to mitigate the most perplexing of challenges. It remains to this day, the best antidote to cotton mouth.
What’s been your largest holiday parcel that you've had to deliver this year? See above regarding the impracticality of a Mini Cooper S.
It’s been warm up till now. And I’ve been wearing summer weight suits quite a bit this month. Including this one and only two button Flusser from my archives. All the rest are 3/2.
And this shirt? A twenty year old Ike Behar horizontal hairline stripe…contrasting collar and cuffs. A rather attenuated Gordon Gecko here. Shut up.
But then it got cold and I wore a heavier wool pinstripe Flusser rig another day. Bam. (Bam. Without an exclamation mark. Don’t be vulgar—we’re still in mourning over here)
And then it got really cold.
But not so cold that my girlfriend LFG and I couldn't put up the Christmas tree. Oh, and the Wii Fit? Yep, that’s for me. My arms are getting jiggly and my butt is sagging.
Saggy butts can be aided with the curved cut of a fishtailed English split back trouser. The good folks over at Bookster made the cords for me. Bookster ain't Huntsman but neither are they Huntsman prices. I've yet to try anything other than their trousers but the trews are well worth the price point. I wore these yesterday here in Stamford—the location of my final billable for the year and what a year it’s been. My best since 1996. I’m off the chart grateful. I now finally have the money for my hair transplant.
But if you really wanna draw attention away from your jiggly arms and saggy butt, just strap on a Grecian formulaic Houndstoothian ensemble like this. Jiggly-saggy will be the least of your issues. 
Ok, I’ll close this load of superficial drivel now. Peace. Out.

ADG II in Stamford. Stopping off in Gotham for a dose of NYC Christmas and maybe a little gift for myself. What might that be? Onward.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hitch

I disagreed with him most of the time. But he wrote with intelligence and clarity so I read everything he wrote. His assemblage of words was always as elegant as he was rumpled. Don’t preen and crow as you take Hitchens to task for his views. He’d expect your response to be standard behavior for any self-respecting thinker—and certainly nothing to preen about unless of course, you were offering a robust counter.

We are slowly losing our public intellectuals. Or perhaps we are placing them in locales that are lost to me because I be damned if I can find 'em. I used to watch Firing Line with William F. Buckley when I was a kid and I don’t know exactly why because I really couldn’t grasp fully what they were talking about. But I do remember wanting to watch it because I envied this man who seemed to pop-off the most remarkable words in an almost unintelligible, at least for a kid in South Carolina, square jawed accent. He made me want to learn. I wanted to learn those words and I wanted to get better at grasping ideas and developing opinions. Hitchens did the same for me. And if I'm limited to passing on but one trait-habit-proclivity to my child, I'd want it to be the thirst for knowledge and the openness to accept all viewpoints before settling on hers.
Unwavering. Yep. That’s a proper word for Hitchens. His brother Peter said this about him… “My brother possessed courage to the very end, and if I often disagreed with the purposes for which he used it, I never doubted the quality or ceased to admire it. I’ve mentioned here before C.S. Lewis’s statement that courage is the supreme virtue, making all the others possible. It should be praised and celebrated, and is the thing I‘d most wish to remember."

“The acquisition of knowledge is the unending business of the soul” and I’m in Hitchens’ debt for helping feed my intellect. I generally don’t cower, based on my few experiences, in the presence of famous or powerful people. My problem with authority is such that I think I’m genetically predisposed to become surly as opposed to nervous in such circumstances. I think I’ve told the story of approaching Hitchens at Washington National Airport years ago but indulge me again. I was scared to do so but couldn't...not. And I could barely utter a word. Here’s an email I sent the other day recounting  it…

“Steve
It’s 533am EST and NPR woke me up at 5 with the news. I don't generally get nervous in the midst of public figures but I think I wrote somewhere that when I met Hitchens one day years ago at National Airport, I could barely get "hello" out of my mouth. He gravitated to a little 3 year old LFG who was in my arms and asked me about her. As he walked away I said to LFG..."I hope there will always be a Christopher Hitchens." He turned around and simply said..."thank you."”
I’m already missing the hell out of Christopher Hitchens. I’ve never had a glass of Johnny Walker. And certainly have never had one cut with a splash of Perrier. But I’ll do so sometime this week and simply say…thank you.

ADG II

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cheer for a Buck-Fifty

I’m never at a loss for suggesting to my public what to get me for Christmas. I prefer NOT to be surprised by my clan for more often than not, the surprise is not a good one. LFG and I for years, have engaged in a fun little tradition of buying me antique toy soldiers for Christmas. We go to my buddy Neil’s shop on the Hill…I select three options for my gift…I go sit outside and wait till LFG chooses one of the three. They call me back inside after LFG’s choice has been made and boxed up so I won’t know the selection. And then Neil sends me the bill. Works great for all involved.
My pal over at Vogue on the Range emailed me and asked for insights on Christmas gifts for the budget minded. I’ve long since been smitten with Ms. Ranger…a stunning gal and at present, dutiful law school attendee. Here's her missive...

"Dear ADG:
Couldn't help but notice what methinks is your trim, hoofpick belt-clad midsection on Scout Charlottesville today, and so I thought I would drop you a line.  Could you please do a post of a gift guide for the sartorially inclined gentlemen friends (with perhaps a section on appropriate stocking stuffers and otherwise less tres cher gifting options for us currency-challenged law students)?"


And of course, I’m happy to oblige.

But first, let me tell you the story about the evening I asked her to marry me. I’m not making this up. If you don’t believe me, ask my sister AllieVonAintNevahSeenaBudget and her husband MisterDoctorBaby. Or axk my man D. … late of Southern Gent and presently at Politico. They was all sittin’ at the table when I done it.

Allie pulled together a little drinks/dinner meet up for us all back in the summer.  I hadn’t even finished one drink so it wasn’t the hooch doing the bidding. It was all me. Being twice Ms. Ranger’s age, I didn’t prevaricate around the bush. I simply asked her to marry me for fifteen years. Thereafter, she’ll still be in her prime and I’ll deserve to be left to my own dotage and devices. Perhaps I’m delusional but I DO think I’ve got fifteen good years left yet after that, I’d be willing to set such a lovely gal like Ms. Ranger free. Skin elasticity issues horrify me and I be damned if I’d ask  anyone to hang around and witness that immutable process.

Alas, with great poise, Ms. Ranger reminded me that she was commited to a lucky man and that was that. So what does one buy for such a lucky man when the budget is tight? I decided to pull together a gaggle of things that I’d like to have…all coming in at less than 150 bucks. Here goes…
Dressing theMan: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion—35 bucks: If your man reads, and if you think he’d appreciate a style reference, Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man would be my suggestion. There are other good ones out there but Alan remains King.
Target BoxerShorts—Four Bucks: I wasn’t kidding y'all when I said I buy boxers at Target.

Central Watch GrosgrainWatch Straps-Five for 30 bucks: AllieVonChaChinger turned me on to this source.
J.Crew Fun Socks-Three for 30 bucks: Great stocking stuffers.
Sid MashburnOyster Belt Buckle—75 bucks: I’ve changed my tune on Mashburn. More later in a post devoted to him.
Other Sid beltsfor 50 bucks: Mashburn’s banging eleven on the style/fuzzy meter.
Sid Sport Shirts for 145 bucks: I’m gonna pop for a couple of these my damn self. Instead of buying two-three of those cheap ass sweatshop made ones over at J. Crew, buy one of Sid's.
Rugby Canvas& Italian Leather Bag: On sale for 130 bucks: I’m a Battenkill/Hulme man but I checked this bag out at Rugby (Who by the way, is kicking J.Crew’s ass in the fuzzy department). I did not like this bag at 250 bucks. I pounced at 130.
Wiley Brothers Belts:The Hoof Pick—145 bucks: Are you gonna buy a bunch of little things or one BIG present? If 150 is your budget and you’re gonna opt for one thing. Pounce on the Hoof Pick. Yet again, another heads up from SistahAllie two Christmases ago for me. I’ll have this belt till well beyond skin elasticity issues. I admit openly and without shame that I hope to be wearing it when I proudly step to the counter at CVS to get my first prescription of Viagra filled. I’m hoping by then though, that they have a combination product that mitigates both ED and BPH. I suggest that they call it…Niagra.
Bill Hocker’s 79thNew York State Militia—153 bucks: I like 100 year old lead soldiers but Bill Hocker faithfully recreates them and I LOVE his interpretations. Hocker is always my alternative venue for an LFG gift to me.
Ok, that’s it for now. I’ve got a real job to focus on and a lifestyle to fake. Oh...I almost forgot another option. LFG will make you some hippie bracelets but you'll need to contact us soon if you want them before Christmas. They are one-of-a-damn-kind-artisnally inspired-curated and pickled. 400 bucks each. 350 for the ones that LFG's dog peed on.

Onward. Still fairly pliable. Over bracelet-ed this morning. At a buck-fifty or less.
ADG II

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