And I intend for this to be as rambling and disjointed as I am this morning. I rolled in kinda by accident on a honkey tonk in my ‘hood last night after dinner and stayed till two a.m. You young whippersnappers are surely laughing at that but for me it was unusual. There’s a basement bar called the Bayou Room in Old Town that I used to frequent over twenty years ago and back then it was a little more sedate. And for some reason, while the rest of DC and Alexandria are pretty much smoke free, this joint and the Basin Street lounge two floors above it, remain thick as hell with cigar and cigarette smoke.
Here’s the perverse thing about it. There’s a reason I stayed till two. I loved it. I reveled in the eye irritating haze of smoke and the none too healthy second hand hits I got from cigars. It reminded me of all the years that I did this kind of thing every Friday and Saturday night and when smoke was part of the package. And I knew that my hair, albeit less of it, and my clothes were gonna be thick with smoke smell this morning. It was just a really fun and safe, given that I drank watered down vodka tonics in plastic cups one after the other and didn’t have to drive home. And let me confess this…I danced nonstop for at least an hour. And I’m talking loud head banging music about which I knew nothing. There was no music in the mix that was remotely elegant or crisp or civilized enough to render the shag an option. This was primal body wigglin’ stuff and my whitey whitey white can’t dance self was right in the middle of it. It’s not the beginning of a trend. I might not ever do it again but I sure had fun last night. My ears are ringing and my smokey head hurts.
Ok, on to sartorial stuff. It was a joke, folks. I stated on my tumblr that I was taking a portion of my shoes to the thrift shop in Old Town. Don’t go, they won’t be there. I had them out for a couple of reasons. I am going to get shed of a few pairs but I already have folks who wear my size who are usually willing to transact some second hand shoe business with me. And I’m also pondering what I can go ahead and pack, even though I know not where yet, I am going to land in the Bethesda Chevy Chase area. Additionally, I’ve still got tons of work to do on my place to get it ready to rent.
Yes, it seems that I’ve accumulated a ton of shoes. And there’s another pair of Cleverley bespokes in the works as well as an absurd mongrelizationated green shell cordovan boondoggle gestating presently at Rancourt. It’s gonna be a bell ringer one way or another. And the Cleverley 2.0 effort? Suffice it to say that you should go ahead and practice tisk-tisking now. Two eyelet suede Dainite with tasselled shoe strings in a suede color that you’ve never seen before.
Also, here’s a tragedy for me and an opportunity for someone else. My suede Edward Green Westminister Dainite Double Monks…Dainite Double Monks…sounds like either a Franciscan or Jesuit clique or one of the bands whose songs I wiggled to last night. My Westministers that I’ve worn maybe a half dozen times after waiting nine months to arrive are too big for me. And it’s my fault therefore my only recourse is to sell them. I insisted on a larger size so I own the mistake. I did not listen to my expert guys at Sky Shoes and demanded the size without appreciating the difference in the last. So instead of a perfect 8-D U.S. which is what I needed, I got a perfect 8.5-D U.S. If you are an 8.5-D and you want these, shoot me an email.
They are just too nice and too unique for me to try to live with them avec an innersole or some other compensatory manipulation. Check the retail price of Edward Green Westministers at Leffot or Leather Soul and then add a hundred bucks to that number for the special order/Dainite option and you’ve arrived at what I paid for these. Do not email me and jerk me around with some bullshit offer. But please, if you want them, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . They are essentially brand new and I’ll be willing to let them go at a hefty reduction and if you are in the contiguous 48 states, I’ll cover the shipping. Just make sure you wear an 8.5-D U.S. because once they arrive at your house, they ain’t coming back to mine.
The most daunting packing task ahead is wrapping and packing the small fortune in lead toy soldiers that are guarding this joint. Someone remarked about all of the artwork and the aggravation associated with taking all of it down. That’s easy breezy compared to the old and fragile lead soldiers.
My latest addition…I don’t know what happened to my spending lockdown…is a partial set of the hard to find Heyde Polar Exploration Team. I remain amazed that any of this stuff survived. I had plastic “army men” when I was a kid and we freakin’ destroyed them.
Surprise I know but I don’t give a damn how nerdy my hobbies appear to others. I am completely fascinated with antique, as well as some of the modern lead soldiers. But it is a nerdy hobby. I’ve taken some comfort in knowing that Douglas Fairbanks Jr. had a massive collection for years. So did Malcolm Forbes as well as artist Andrew Wyeth. That’s Sam Torode above, in Wyeth’s studio surrounded by Wyeth’s little lead legions.
I got a kick out of discovering the following passage in the Andrew Wyeth biography that I’m currently re-reading amidst an obsession with the Wyeth clan and their Chadds Ford lives. Andrew Wyeth reflects on being newly married to Betsy…a nineteen year old gal and he only three or so years older. “Wyeth remembers…We were absolutely broke. Best thing for us. We’d go to a movie and spend twenty-five cents for dinner. We started out with an empty living room, a stove, icebox and a lot of toy soldiers.” It was obviously a good start. When Wyeth died, he and Betsy were in their sixty-ninth year of marriage.
And Heavy Tweed Jacket asked me over at my tumblr if “there really are toy soldier swap meets?” Well, they aren’t swap meets per se…they are called Toy Soldier Shows. There’s a huge one each year in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, the Philly area, two in DC and a couple in London. There are also specialist auctions several times each year. I remember taking LFG to one when she was about four years old and she thought the “show” was going to include a performance of toy soldiers. She wasn’t too crestfallen and I think we both got a chuckle out of her misconception.
But sartorially, toy soldier collectors are walking disasters. Keep the nerd variable in mind. Here’s the visual evidence to support my point.
Also, I’m probably one of the youngest collectors and it worries me on a couple of fronts. The older guys with plenty of dough and memories of actually playing with lead ones, keep the market for the better stuff rather high. Mass produced plastic soldiers, coupled with concerns about lead toxicity, essentially wiped out the commercial appeal of lead ones by the mid-1960s. I also fear that as the older guys start dying off, the market will plummet…at just the time when I’ll need to start selling off my stuff to pay for LFG’s sorority dues. Life’s risky ain’t it? But hell, its risky leaving the house looking like sport model soldier collector guy above, no? So the shows are fun and I always buy something. And I always remain cognizant that I’m the only guy who’s ever worn Belgian shoes to the “Show.”
Final word on shoes for today…My Trad-Ivy Tuesday will actually arrive on Tuesday. It’s already written and in the queue. Scary I know. I’ve finally taken up the task of a full report on my Cleverley dealings over the past year. That’s Cleverley above. Brown shell cordovan. Arriving in August at Leather Soul. Can you image how incredible the patina is gonna be on this number after a couple of years? I’ve said it before…if you can’t see art, talent and God in something so sublime, I worry for you. But don’t worry for yourself. Because I see the same things in hand painted lead toy soldiers.
Ok. I’m done. It’s off to the shower to rid myself of bar smoke. I’ve got a lunch date with LFG. She no longer stays with me on my LFG weekends so lunch is the best I can wrangle. These next however many years are gonna kill me. I don’t regret one bit of the investment I’ve made in this child. But I can say unequivocally that I’ve invested in a way that’s left me unprepared for this current phase. The “she’ll come back to you” statement that everyone who’s already trod this path offers me lands logically on my rational self and falls into nothingness when it touches down on my heart. But please realize that I’m not wallowing in it too much. I’m taking action to adjust to this new and healthy next chapter in LFG’s journey. And I remain mindful of how blessed I am to have a healthy and happy child...who only grunts at me.
Onward. With shoes. And soldiers. And a head/heartache.