Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trad Ivy Tuesday: GTH 2013

Cheers from Old Town. Its 459am and trust me when I tell you that this is gonna be a big pile of nothin’. As  much as I’d love to be blessed with a couple of hours of playtime to write something that even I would like to read—alas—I’m buried. Buried and blessed with a flurry of project work and travel that leaves me no time for focused, curated, artisanal and certainly not edited…whatever. So this is what I have till I can get back to drafting more focused impertanalia.
The joy of writing about things that muster passion and delight becomes the beacon of hope when one is amidst the drudgery of flogging the keyboard for the man. I lashed myself to it yesterday and banged out a three thousand and fifty-six word White Paper on Accountable Care Organizations and Diabetes Quality Measures. I never got dressed. I never left the house and it like to ‘bout killed me. But I had to get it done because I’ve got a bad habit of eating, paying the three mortgages and bespeaking all kinds of stuff. Oh and there’s that thing about LFG wanting to go to college and the rest of the cash-only work that I’ve gotta have done on my jaw.
So let me just throw some Trad Ivy Tuesday chum in the water and be done with it. And I suppose there’s no better place to start than GTH togs for 2013. I got an email from those Greenville North Carolina tumblr guys…Preppy By the Grace of God and Carolina Style. It seems that Bills Khakis was having a little trunk show down at the sartorial oasis where these two edgy cats work. And they were wondering if I might want something from the Bills' 2013 line-up. Folks, it’s still hot inside the Beltway and I’ve not yet switched my closets over to the corduroy moleskin toggery for fall 2012. And these cats are throwin 2013 GTH taunts my way. Plus, I thought Bills was a khaki company—not a purveyor of my kinda fuzzy.
So I pounced on one of the paisleys. I’ll leave it to you to guess which one of those swatches will be transformed into the ADG 2013 GTH statement. And no, I didn’t buy more than one pair of the paisleys. Oh and before you ask, I ordered the flat-front model...size 33. Yep...a 33 waist...I'm starting to get a little paunchy. Shut up.
And I did, just to kinda balance things out, jump on a pair of tan linen trousers because lord knows--my tan linen trousers are next to nil. Interestingly, I’ve never bought anything from Bills. I’m aware of them and their quality and their commitment to producing their goods domestically but this will be a first for me. Maybe I'll write a damn three thousand and fifty-seven word White Paper on 'em. And I’ve never been to Greenville, North Carolina but who knows; maybe I’ll run down there and pick these babies up in person.
Ok, let's close it out with Kilim. I'm down to two options for my next Kilim slipper installment. My interest leans obviously towards the brownish fall colors and I'll pull the trigger soon as y'all tell me A or B. Talk to me.
Ok, I gotta go. Onward. Still walking several paces behind.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The New Guard

Just letting you know that I've had to add a sentry to this, my home of Trad Irrelevantia. The SPAM volume has become unbearable. Never have I wanted to add the word verification step to my blog but the junk/spam volume is laughably out of control. Seems that I was an avoided target for the first few years and now I'm destination number one for 'em.

Onward. Verifyin'. ADG II

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Trad-Ivy Tuesday: The Kobe Beef Burger of Camp Mocs

I was sharing with a reader some time back that when I lived in Montclair New Jersey, the local cobbler, in his halting home-countried pidgin-esque English gave me the final verdict on my maiden pair of L.L. Bean Camp Mocs. He had just completed their third resoling. After twelve years of constant wear and now my third set of rubber–re-treads and new leather laces, he said that the leather was too worn-out to stitch another pair of soles securely to them. I was by then, vaguely urbane but upon hearing such news, I reverted back to my Horry and Williamsburg Counties, South Carolina roots and blurted..."Do what daddy?" I reckon that Montclair New Jersey hadn't and hasn't yet again, been host to a Southern boy declaring such.
There’s no question that I got my money’s worth out of my first pair. A pair that arrived in the mail at my mama’s house in 1979. You didn’t have such things sent to the KA house back then. And keep in mind that this was back in the time when I’d still not traveled anywhere to speak of so all of the Brooks Brothers and L.L. Bean things that I encountered were either through their catalogues or from seeing someone wearing them at a college boondoggle and declaring that I had to have “it.” My Florence South Carolina Trad Haberdashery didn’t sell shoes and my hometown Weejun source sold us our Topsiders, the only other non-Weejun shoe in my line-up back then.
So in 1979, if you walked into a fratty party down in the Southern backwaters with a pair of L.L. Bean Camp Mocs on, you were a curious outlier amidst a sea of Weejuns and Topsiders. And I liked that. Just as the Trad-Prep-Ivy style ethos should be a result, not an objective, I’ve always kinda reveled in the fact that for some reason, my whateverishness has resulted in me being a bit of an outlier. Five gets ten that I was outlying in my Camp Mocs in the photo above...replete with terrycloth Daks trousers. Shut up.
Surely it isn’t surprising to you that I still have my 1979 pair. If you’ve read more than two of my stories you know that I’m a mawkish-maudlin sentimentalist who with every passing day, spends more time with my head in the past as opposed to embracing the future. And I’m not resistant to casting off material things. I’ve shed and edited ruthlessly my stuff over these past few months and will continue to do so as I slowly-ever-so-slowly, get around to moving. But the 1979 Mocs have too many memories. They’ve been on three continents as well as in every decent and indecent honky-tonk and barbecue joint in the contiguous forty-eight states. Oh, and I had them on when I peed atop a volcano in Hawaii. We drank beer all the way up and …
Here I am. Hung-ed-over to the point of bleeding out of my eyes one morning…in the summer of 1979, at my sister and brother-in-law’s first house in Birmingham Alabama. They were in their mid-twenties and my sister had just delivered her first child, a little boy, about three months earlier. My brother-in-law, the KA fratty boy who I idolized and considered the older brother I never had, was desperate. As much as he was overjoyed to be the father of a new born son, he was also twenty-six years old. And the domestic dynamics coupled with his day job, had him itching to hit the streets with me when I was there. Nightly.
And I was THE perfect excuse for going out. Every. Damn. Night. “We can’t let little ole undergrad fratty boy ADG just sit around here” he’d say to his wife and new mom, my sister. So my brother-in-law, along with my L.L. Bean Camp Mocs and I would hit the street every night for such low-brow places as Tant's, The Plaza (upside down) and once, against my wishes we went to Sammy’s. He was the coolest guy I knew at the time and he drove a great, albeit unreliable British Racing Green Jaguar. Peer pressure...family dynamics...impending liver disease and L.L. Bean Camp Mocs. 
I even used Shoe Goo on them when the leather was so worn that it just began giving up-out-around the stitching and the rubber sole. My 1979 made in America version, as I and others have written about, were different than the current L.L. Bean Camp Moc that’s made in El Salvador. I won’t bore you with the precise differences. Go back and read the old posts. But even with all of my complaints about the current version, they are, at just under eighty bucks, a decent value.
I wore my original pair ten-fold more frequently than my Bean Moc replacements so I’ll never know if the real difference is in longevity. My Salvadorian replacements will outlive me. Same goes for my Maine Hunting Boot—Shoe version that I replaced a few years ago. Still, I can’t get rid of the old ones.
And then someone called my attention to Rancourt and their Mocs. Rancourt...holdouts not unlike Alden, amidst the fifty-year mass exodus of New England shoe makers. I got Rancourt Venetian loafers from Leffot and loved ‘em. I even picked up a pair of Quoddy Venetian Camp Mocs and loved the idea of them…and certainly the quality of workmanship was there…but I couldn’t get the darned things to stay on my foot so some Trad kid, courtesy of ebay, got ‘em for a bargain. But what appealed and still appeals to me about these makers is their ongoing commitment to turning out the kind of goods that L.L. Bean was known for before the slow decline. You know...when they sourced more of their stuff from domestic producers and when American consumers weren’t so punch drunk from the unit price discount goat rodeo that’s so much a part of retailing today. You remember don’t you? It was when the likes of Orvis, that little operation up in Manchester Vermont, used to rely on Hulme to make their iconic Battenkill green canvas gear instead of some sweatshop out of State. Literally. On all counts.
And speaking of green…I finally decided to spend some and make some. But in typical ADG Fuzzy Diced style, I couldn’t be happy with the table-grade standard, tasty goods that Rancourt offered in their Camp Moc line-up. I reckon you could say that I was jonesing for some strange. So I sent Kyle Rancourt an email and asked him if I could bespeak something off the menu. And he said… “Do what?” and I said “Yep” and he said “Really?” and I said “Yep” and then after eleven more clarifications, guess what? Kyle said “Yep” too.
So what I ended up creating is the Kobe Beef Burger of Camp Mocs. Anthony Bourdain rants entertainingly about the absurdity associated with posh restaurants offering patrons with too much money and not nearly enough breeding, a beef patty made from ground Kobe. Here’s an excerpt from Bourdain’s rant…“Enterprising restaurants are now offering the “Kobe beef burger,” enticingly priced at near or above $100 a pop. And if there’s a better way to prove one’s total ignorance of all three words – Kobe, beef, and burger – this, my friends, is it. It’s the trifecta of dumb-ass. …you are asking the chef to destroy the very textural notes for which Kobe is valued by smarter people. …for an eight-ounce Kobe burger, you are paying for the chef to feed you all the outer fat and scrap bits he trimmed off the outside of his “real” Kobe so he can afford to serve properly trimmed steaks to wiser patrons who know what the hell they’re doing.”
So Bourdain is calling out the stupidity and absurdity manifest in both the creator and consumer associated with using such sublime raw material for such a pedestrian outcome when more standard-fare beef would suffice to the point of being indiscernible. Well that kinda sums my ass up right there now doesn’t it? My love of shell cordovan is well established. I won’t bore you with my horse flank devotion and its genesis…just go here and refresh yourself if you want the contextual antecedent under your skirt before grinding through the rest of this story. But a shell cordovan camp moc? Why not?
And while we’re at it…while we are using sublime, Kobe Beef caliber raw material, let’s really tart it up. Let’s do it in green shell cordovan. When I asked Kyle Rancourt about it, he said “Do what?” and I said “Yep” and he relented. And then I asked how much and he told me and I said “Damn.” And then I paid the man.
I speculated that their arrival would be dramatic…either good dramatic or bad dramatic. It could go either way. Listen, if you always play it safe the drama will be minimal…on both ends of the spectrum. And for me, the Fuzzy Maximalist, I take my chances and they’ve not always yielded good outcomes. My Flusser mistakes story is here.
But my Rancourt Green Cordovans are sublime in every way. Replete with the specifically requested brick red rubber bottoms and stainless steel silver eyelets—it’s the little details that often make or break these things. Brass looking eyelets woulda sunk this ship from the get-go so I bet I sent Kyle Rancourt nine-zillion emails clarifying my specs for these.
And they already have some up-front patinated character depth that only Horween genuine shell cordovan can offer. I can’t wait to see how these babies' patination evolve...lift wise and otherwise as their Horween secret-sauced remoulade-ed impregnations give up some secrets.
Are these Mocs a folly? Perhaps. Am I pleased? You bet. And let me say this about Rancourt. I’m over the top happy that they are thriving. They're a small business so they aren’t without their process hiccups and predictable challenges of trying to remain consistent in quality while attempting to scale up their business to meet thank goodness, demand…and the somewhat-free-market allowance for a decent net-net margin. No margin—No mission. And suffice it to say that I received no discount on these shoes. Kyle Rancourt isn’t even aware that I’m a blogger and he won’t be ‘till I send him a link to this story.

Onward. Green. No envy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Morning—Words and Nothing, Really

LFG is still asleep. I’m almost giddy amidst the phenomenon of having her here with me for three nights in this, my incrementally devolving Casa Minimus Man Cave. She was exhausted last night after two dance classes yesterday and her second week of seventh grade homework. I fed her dinner…comfort food…like the old days when she was five or six years old…baked chicken and French style green beans. She was postprandially comatose on the sofa within minutes of finishing her dinner.
I’ll gladly engage in my finance and transportation duties today as I shuttle LFG to back to back dance classes and a couple of other appointments as well. Here’s what I mentioned in an email to a friend earlier this morning… L___is still asleep. I gave her a small dose of adult NyQuil last night before bed. She’s got an adult sounding rattle in her chest. It’s been so long since I’ve had her here, in Old Town, for three consecutive days…I’m reveling in it…even though I’m essentially doing the transport to dance classes thing for the most part. I’m just a completely different and frankly, better person when I’m with my child. I think you know what I’m saying. Only parents can understand that phenomenon.” I don’t give marital or child rearing advice as a general rule. But I’ve come to the following so take it for what it’s worth—Either have zero kids or more than one.
I’m still smarting from having to miss the F.I.T. Ivy Style opening reception last night. I gladly accepted the invitation to join all of the Trad-Prep-Ivy devotees when the reception was originally scheduled for last Tuesday night. I’d already booked my train to Gotham when I got an email informing everyone that at the last minute they were moving it to last night. I don’t subordinate my LFG opportunities to anything, including what I’m sure woulda been a fun get together at F.I.T. It pained me to do so but a few years ago, I had to decline the opportunity to spend an evening with Tom Wolfe and my friend Alan Flusser at the Rhode Island School of Design’s evening gala honoring the late, great Richard Merkin. I don’t subordinate my LFG opportunities to anything.

Words. Read this…“Blackberry jam is my Proust's madeleine - one lick of the knife and I am eight years old again, devouring slightly burnt toast with a slab of cold butter and a seed-flecked puddle of complete heaven.”  Go over to MonAvis, Mes Amis and read more of it. I mean shit…if I could write anything without profanity and sans photos and actually have people read it, then I’d call myself a writer. Shut up.

Words…Randomanalia and Butcept long ago became two of my faves here in blogland…to the point that when I announced my blogging cessation, Yankee Whiskey Papa and Giuseppe declared that they wanted the rights to them. But for some reason, they eschewed any interest in Shut up. Now that I think of it, I believe that I stole Randomanalia from Lime Green Girl. But this morning my keyboard flicks contrived one that I think’s gonna be a keeper for me. Irreleventia. Kinda sums it all up for me.
Onward. Awaiting a Shell Cordovan experience on Monday that’s gonna be big. One way or the other. There will be no middle ground on this one. I’ll either be preening or hiding.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trad-Ivy Tuesday: Uncurated Randomanalia

So for this Trad-Ivy Tuesday I’m back to unedited-uncurated-unfocused randomanalia. It’s just flat-out easier to throw a pile of this at you than it is to distil anything more thoughtful. It also seems that you people like the random stuff better than my more thought-out, scrivened gyrations and (I’m delusional, I know. Hang with me.) keyboard-esque hip thrusts. Shut up.
I now have an editor and I’m pleased by it. On the other hand, we are amidst writer-editor conflict right out of the gate. “Anonymous asked you: Good writers deserve good editors- not just to pare their prose, but to suggest topics. Until you get the editor you deserve, you has me. May I humbly suggest that the Blogosphere is full of stories of O’Hara and the Brethren? Why not a post on boxers? Whip out a half dozen pair and photograph them. Maybe discuss the subtle virtues of buttons vs all over elastic and the outrageous expense of Edwardian style tie backs. Touch briefly (ha) on knitted models. Tell about white linen show thru…”
Ok editor, you make a good point. The O’Hara anecdotes and his sartorial whateverishness have been done. And done. And done. But I’m still gonna eventually write about it for a few reasons. First, I write all of this stuff really, to please me as opposed to editors (Sorry…my new editor) or paying clients/publishers. If someone paid me to do this, I’d be mildly but not too much so, more compliant. Next…O’Hara and his Brooks Brethren buttoned-down poseuressence have indeed been done. But not by me.
I want to write about how I was late to the O’Hara short story party and what an impact a couple of them had on me. And how Appointment with Samara didn’t do it for me but the son of a legendary Boston Globe columnist who is associated with an O’Hara Brethren button down story did think Samara was ok. And I have some never told information that I want to peck out on the keyboard in my words and see how my retelling resonates. So thanks, new editor. Don’t abandon me but give me some wiggle room on the O’Hara thing. I bet you’re gonna find it tolerable. Whew. After that, I feel like I need a cigarette and I don’t even smoke.
How the hell do you smoothly transition from that? You don’t. You just move on. So now I’ll thank one of my readers for giving me a heads-up about the pair of Edward Green Oundle monks that were half-price at Leffot and coincidentally, just my size. Leffot has an incredible shodding line-up and I’m pleased that a tasty goods purveyor like Leffot doesn’t choose or seemingly have to play price point grab-ass with the public. All retailers it seems; must start some 20% off hoochie coochie sh_t with their new season’s goods within one week of announcing their arrival. For anyone with an IQ hovering above 90, which is a stretch for South Carolinians, the fact that the week-one discounts are built into the made in Outer Sweatshoplandia price point is obvious.
Leffot is a tasty joint and Will over at A Suitable Wardrobe says it better than me...“Steven Taffel of Leffot, on Christopher Street in Manhattan, has assembled what is probably the best collection of shoe brands offered for sale in the Eastern United States, with hard to find delights like Corthay and Aubercy complementing better known names such as Alden and Edward Green.”
Susan Tabak Photo
So Leffot needn’t have massive unit price discount promos very often. But Messrs’ Taffel et al a couple of times each year, clear out a few things. I’d cruised the discounted remainders as soon as I got the Leffot sale email but saw nothing in my size. A few weeks later my reader ping-pinged me with a link to the Oundle. I don’t win raffles and I’m never very lucky at chance games but karma and juju washed over me in this instance. 
My Edward Green Westminister double monks that I demanded be special ordered for me in what was ultimately the wrong size, went to a reader courtesy of a hugely discounted and lesson-learned-by-shoe size/last shape know-it-all…me. So the karmic shoe energies of the world prevailed the Oundle on me at a price that has me back to the original investment I had in the Westministers. I need another cigarette after rationalizing this one.
Sticking with shoes for another moment…these are now about a zillion percent off at the Brethren. But I still won’t take ‘em home. And don’t you either.
Even though we’ve passed the official “it’s after Labor Day, now put your linen, madras and seersucker away” deadline, I’m gonna hang on to my darker tan linen trousers for a few more weeks. My cousin Willie   (you've seen him before in another post, wearing his Scottish Kit, on the right in the above Kodak) who still lives down in that moral cesspool known as South Carolina, offers that below eighty-five degrees is his break point for eschewing linen in S.C. Makes sense to me—down there.
Moral cesspool? Yep. I was searching online for an update on the publication of Mel and Patricia Ziegler’s memoir about their brilliant for the first six years, concept known as Banana Republic. So when I googled keyword stuff I not only got the Ziegler update that I was looking for, I also found the above. Eight bucks and five days later, courtesy of Alibris, I was in to this page turner. I blew through it in about three sittings. 
We always avoided Myrtle Beach except for an evening drive down to the Pavilion from time to time when I was a little kid. As the smarm moved north, my parents even decamped the wood framed screen porched gentility of Ocean Drive and built a house at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. I was bored mindless there.
Ok…off of my little Carolina rant and back to clothing. I noticed something a while back when I came home with my nine thousand dollars’ worth of dry cleaning. Even though I love my weekend GTH stuff, my standard fare linen is hugely monochromatic. I think the khaki indoctrination from years ago became an immutably imprinted imprimatur, declaring the color tan to be the little black dress of men’s trouser palate options.
My baby began 7th grade last week. Shitake. It seems like just yesterday that she was in preschool and the kitting out process meant nothing more than a navy blue uniform.
And I think uniforms are great. Really. Just look at these future Old Etonians. We’d probably get better behavior out of our boys and girls if they had to wear top hats to class. And I’d demand that they wear them properly. Not like the topper that the guitarist Slash from Guns N Roses wore. That hairy mugwump gives the proper topper a bad name.
I'm pretty much out of the fray when it comes to taking LFG shopping for her clothes. It was a no-brainer when she was in that three to seven year age range. I could simply buy those smock thingys at the Gap Outlet and if I was within one size of correct, all was good. I did though, accompany trail her by fifty feet to Georgetown the other day and bought her a pair of must-have flip flops. "Flip flops" her mother axed? "It's back to school shopping time." Yep.

As well as a pair of Mossimo lace-up Bluchers from Target. Yep.

Students—style—duende—deportment? I don’t see it with my thirty-something year old clients so why should I look to see it amongst the ranks of students? Here’s a young undergrad named Walter Cronkite. I rest my case regarding the decline. In clothes and evening news anchoring.
I tole you this was gonna be random. When I was searching for pictures to help me tell the story about my daddy’s Mustang, I ran across a cache of pictures depicting the racing life of the Ford Falcon. I’m not gonna poach too much from what I found because there’s another unique post therein. But the photo above cracked me up! Talk about incongruence. A Ford Falcon atop a Citroen transport vehicle. Suffice it to say, they weren’t headed for Daytona or Darlington. Citroen. Just saying it out loud with my country ass accent cracks me up. Falcon. Imagining a French aristocrat saying it in high French cracks me up. High German? Could be impressive. High? I must be.
Wanna talk interior design for a moment? Good. Neither do I. But I will share that even though I’m not a hoarder, I remain flummoxed by the amount of accumulata that I’ve managed to pack into a thousand square feet in Old Town Alexandria. I’m trying to edit ruthlessly but its tough going. Plus, I’m dragging my feet getting to Bethesda as my ten to fifteen minute radius from LFG’s house hasn’t yet yielded a place with the right bones for me to resettle my damn self.
And please, shoot me if I ever experiment with Chinese red lacquer again. 
Or as Reggie Damn Darling refers to it..."Retail Red".
I lost count of the number of primer coats it took to cover this mess.
I’m priming the darker colored rooms…my hunter green bedroom, LFG’s purple Dr. Seuss bedroom and the hallway before I have the painters come in and do the entire place rental property beige. Again.
LFG shared recently that even if I wasn’t moving, it was time to take down all of her formative years artwork from the LFG kitchen gallery.
I disagreed. She prevailed.
Pert near kilt me to take it all down. Daddy Land be closed.
Shut up. And I mean it.
Ok. I’m thinking that one thousand four hundred and almost seventy words are enough for this Tuesday’s load. Onward. Editing. With scant efficacy. And wondering wherever my head of college hair went.