Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tadich Ethic—Part One

As the DC area decides this morning whether or not to delay or cancel the various events and happenings that will impact my LFG chauffeuring duties today, I’ve found a moment to finish a story—one that I began almost one year ago. While I’m pleased to pick up the ball on this blog story, I hope that things won’t be delayed or cancelled today. I’d really like to see my child.
I began a story last year about my very last minute speaking engagement in San Francisco and for some reason, it just fell aside. As I now gather enough fodder to reflect on last week’s slightly less impromptu but still last minute San Francisco reprieve, it’s easy to dovetail the year-old draft story herein. The year-old stuff and the Tadich Ethic meaning will appear tomorrow.
I think it was Longwing who commented or asked over at my tumblr about how could/would  I be at the Mirage in Las Vegas the first of last week…then San Francisco mid-week and back at the Las Vegas MGM last Friday. Well here’s the deal. I did a session last Tuesday at the Mirage. Another business unit within the same company asked me to do a session to close out their week-long meeting on Friday. The client company is so large that they essentially filled three different hotels in Las Vegas. It made no sense to return home Tuesday evening and return to Las Vegas on Thursday for my Friday MGM gig.
My Las Vegas loathing is well documented. There exists no place on earth I’ve experienced thus far that elicits in me the same level of revulsion. Las Vegas renders me repulsed to the point of physical and psychological discombobulation. Wayne Newton rather sums it up for me. And I rolled in there Monday before last amidst a wobbly recovery from a 36 hour tummy bug to boot. I decided that there was no way I could survive the Wednesday and Thursday downtime between talks by just hanging out in Las Vegas and I was in no mood to rent a car and do some kinda Hoover damn Dam sortie or similar. 
So I contacted clients in Los Angeles and the Bay Area and decided I’d decamp to one or the other, based on what client; first come-first served, responded. I’d simply create a business but mostly recreational reason to be in another city. And I was delighted that the first ping-back originated in Baghdad by the Bay. Feeling mildly knocked around after my full-on session in Las Vegas, I was still more than ready to knock around San Francisco.
And the Fairmont atop Nob Hill along with The Mark offered me rooms at a buck-fifty a night. So the Fairmont it would be. I don’t think I can describe the efficacy…the cleansing salve of San Francisco’s crisp-blue skied winter air as I walked out front of the Fairmont on Wednesday morning. My two days in San Francisco were bliss. Cable cars may be touristy but I rode ‘em with glee.
And I liked standing at the corner of  California street on Wednesday evening after dinner at the University Club…when things were quieter…and you could hear the hiss of the cables running just under the street's surface.
The sartorial rounds were brief. There isn’t much to see in San Francisco clothing wise, that a clotheshorse like me hasn’t or doesn’t see in other cities. I will make it a point to get over to Union Made the next time I’m there. Tasty, eclectic, high quality goods for a younger crowd perhaps. But their website alone is enticing enough for me to wanna have a look-see in situ. Alas, I did go to Cable Car Clothiers' new, smaller digs. Let me just say that unless there’s a dramatic reimagining of what CCC was…is…aspires to be—they won’t be—for much longer.
Certainly my bucket hat and wool challis bowtie purchase won’t keep ‘em afloat.
I held no hope that these framed Vanity Fair prints of Bret Harte and Rider Haggard, along with their personal letters, would remain available at Brick Row Booksellers in that building on Geary Street where art dealers and rare booksellers have long since been ensconced. I’m generally not so lucky but alas they were there and I decided to not pass on them again. Rare book dealers and antiquarian print purveyors are a quirky lot. And trust me—I know quirk when I’m amidst it…having learned to embrace my own idiosyncrasies. Or as one of my dinner mates from the University Club on Wednesday evening declared regarding the proclivities of his high end, persnickety clientele… “I’ve made peace with crazy.” Now don’t get me wrong. None of the dealers in the 49 Geary Street building are crazy—just a bit—and delightfully so—quirky. And quirky played to my favor in that for some juju-esque reason, both of the framed images cost me less than what one of them was quoted to me a year ago. And God knows I need some framed caricatures.
With a bit of unexpected extra time on Thursday I ventured over to North Beach and traipsed the mild underbelly of a part of San Francisco that gives me more reason to love the entire city. Unlike the frenetically loud, neonelectrified smarm of Las Vegas, San Francisco’s smarm is patinated. I just wish that I’d a been there when the El Matador was still serving hooch and jazz and hosting the smart set from all over the world when they rolled in to San Francisco. The thirty something year old Barnaby Conrad was told to “do something with the money” that came pouring in after his novel Matador took off…so “I opened a bar.” 
And boy did he “open a bar”. The El Matador hosted not only the smart set but also some pretty good jazz musicians during its heyday. It seems that North Beach was a jazz destination “…in 1963 the jazz scene moved on. North Beach, with its reputation as a louche entertainment enclave, emerged as the San Francisco jazz epicenter and reigned as such in the fifties, sixties and even into the seventies…”
Here with Conrad at the El Matador is Tyrone Power who starred in Blood and Sand…as a Matador. And I suppose that Power’s role in The Sun Also Rises gave these two imbibers a bit more conversational fodder.
Caen and Conrad. Good clean fun fronting the El Matador.
I tracked down the old El Matador location. It’s vacant and man-oh-man if the walls therein could talk. Wanna re-open it or something similar? “Maxminimus” Yep. That’s what we’ll call it. And I’ll open it—from the proceeds of my first novel.
Look at the abandoned El Matador and ponder what once rounded that corner… “Part saloon, part salon, Barnaby Conrad's El Matador was nestled in the heart of San Francisco's cabaret and nightlife district. There, within the space of a few blocks of North Beach's Barbary Coast, one could catch Johnny Mathis singing at Ann's 440 Club, cross the street to the Swiss American Hotel where Lenny Bruce once thought he was a bird and attempted to fly out of a second-story window, and walk a couple of blocks to the Hungry i to check out newcomers like Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Barbra Streisand, and the Smothers Brothers. Still, despite the accumulation of dozens of bars, restaurants, and night spots, the area lacked "a truly chic and comfortable (club), a place where attractive and interesting people could congregate over a martini". Conrad's El Matador stylishly filled the void. On any given night, one might find Noel Coward, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, or Tyrone Power in the club, or hear Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Eva Gabor, George Shearing, or Andre Previn take over the piano.” 

What will be longed for in another fifty years? Large Escalades pulling up in front of some loud-ass club…Cristal drenched bling-blingers and an upskirt shot courtesy of an iPhone? Where are the El Matadors today?
Barnaby Conrad Jr. has lived one hell of a life and I’m gonna delve into it a bit more when his two memoirs arrive.
Here’s a little glimpse… “At nineteen Barnaby Conrad vaulted into a Mexican arena and waved his Brooks Brothers raincoat at an enraged bull. At twenty-one he escalated from code clerk to vice-consul in twenty-four hours and was sent to Spain where he became El Nino de California (The California Kid) of the bull fights. At twenty-five he was selling books on the subject.”
  And of course there’s Carol Doda and the Condor amidst City Lights book store and the Beats. I’ve yet to stand at the corner of Haight and Ashbury and haven’t made erudite my Hippie studies but is there truth that the Beats felt like their call to action was more worthy than the Hippies?
And was Doda’s topless-bottomlessness plaque worthy?
I can tell you unequivocally that my plein air solo dining before heading to the airport and back to the Las Vegas smarm was plaque worthy. Stay tuned for round two of my San Francisco sortie.

Onward. Having just learned that all is open for business in DC…now I’m gonna go fetch my young’un.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Ode to Toad...dans Velours Côtelé

Blame this on Toad. He made me do it. Not directly mind you...for he knows nothing about this fuzztacious corduroy shawl collared thang. Leastways not till he stumbles upon this expose'. But it's the kind of thing he'd wanna do. Not stumble. But contrive something this...shall we say...experimental. And Velours Côtelé? Hell, I knew him. Firsthand. Sure as I'm writing this. He drove one of the only two taxis in Florence, S.C. for Moe the Rooster Taxi Service in the late sixties through the early seventies. Used to drive my daddy around when he'd had too much to drink. Which was always. Both of 'em. Mr. Côtelé and daddy. Seems like Velours drove a Deuce and a Quarter with special fabric for the headliner. My daddy wouldn't a much been all that for this jacket but Velours would been all over it. Butcept maybe in purple.
Surely it's a boondoggle and the maker of such things capricious isn't on Savile Row nor is it one of my Gotham Made-to-Measurers. I wouldn't tie-up too much dough in a rig like this and I won't get a sense of how it fits till this Thursday morning. Looks half-decent on the suit form though. Stay damn tuned.
"The Toad." Yep. That's what we'll name this model. Care to the wind it is. Just like my good buddy Toad. But he does care about the things worth caring about. Like friendships and family and little girls. You should read the nice letter that he sent LFG along with his Christmas gift to her. It's in the forever file. He applied for an Unclehood and I advised Princess LFG to oblige him.
Crazy ain't it? This jacket. I considered cloth covered buttons and still might go that route. Bam. Shut the...
Black Tie? Perhaps. In the comfort of a private party. Like the delightful one that the Elegantologist hosted in Richmond this past New Years Eve. I hope I get invited again next year. I didn't spill nothin'. Drank an assload...but didn't spill nary a drop. I'll more than likely wear this with jeans and Red Wings. And maybe tie.
So here's to Toad. And to corduroy and other occasional fabrics and friends and parties and shawl collars where they ought not be. And Princesses...especially my LFG...and

Onward. Not travelling.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

This is a Blazer

Rather staid I know. The options for fuzziness and the latitude for swank are for good reasons, limited in the blazer department. But this one awaits my first try-on.
And of course this is a blazer too. My eleven year old absolutely worn to almost shreds, three-open patch Flusser standard. This remains far and away, my favorite way to model a jacket. Three-open patch pockets…3/2 roll…peak lapels…double vented. But the try-on newbie in the first photo is a departure. Stay tuned for the story and the differences in cut, styling, color shade and…whatever.

Actually, this entire little ditty was code to say that I flat-out don’t have the time or the mental disc space to write anything voluminous these days. Topics and experiences abound but it’ll all have to wait till next week.

Onward…still in safe harbor atop Nob Hill… before heading back for one more round of my juju in Las Vegas.

Till later…ADG II

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trad-Ivy Tuesday: Adolescent Trad or…How to Dress a Son

LFG’s middle school graduation ceremony—year before last—I’m there as always. Like I’ve said a thousand times before…I’m not looking for a fathering merit badge or medal, I’m just trying to do everything that my dad didn’t. And the bar comparatively is really, really low. I don’t remember my dad ever showing up for anything.

Society has lowered or allowed the bar to be lowered on scores of fundamental things that make our world slightly less pleasant. General courtesies or the evaporation of them represent the canary in the coalmine of bar lowering, societal sloppiness. I’m talking about genuine, sincere behaviors that demonstrate respect for ourselves and one another. Not obsequious courtesies like the ones poured on so condescendingly by Southern Junior Leaguers.

Courtesy and good deportment should be gender, race, and age independent…with the exception of adults needing to show our younger charges how it’s done. I’ve struggled to reconcile LFG’s deserved desire for independence against my deeply encoded, rote behavior of opening and closing her car door as well as allowing her to enter buildings before me, courtesy of, again, my door-holding-open Pavlovian damn self. The twelve year old lens through which she sees my efforts conveys hovering daddy as opposed to chivalrous gentleman. Thank goodness that we’ve yet to have the inevitable battles regarding what she wears. Yes, I know it’s coming.

And what we wear counts. I paraphrase G. Bruce Boyer loosely when I say that it’s silly to think that what we wear doesn’t convey things about us and what we believe and how we are likely to behave. Oh lordy, that’s an unfair broad-brushstroke I know. But on balance, I’ve written about not judging books by their covers where I’ve admitted that those nose bolts and those ear lobe expander things that kids install in incrementally larger diameters to make even larger and more ghastly lobe holes kinda scare me. But I also said that I will always give everyone till proven otherwise, the benefit of the doubt regarding their character and integrity, even if their sartorial and body adornment choices scare the dooky out of me. Surely this is two-way traffic as well. Trust me. I’ve met plenty of well groomed, button downed, ultra-traditional…assholes.

“What you are hovers above and thunders so—that I can’t hear what you say to the contrary” rather sums up the deportment and courtesy thing for me. I’d just amend it a bit to read “…what you say and what you’re wearing…” If you’re a turd, it makes no difference if you’re Flusser or Pierced Goth…head to damn toe.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so gobsmacked over this kid. When I was his age all kids were scrubbed and swathed appropriately for momentous occasions like chorus productions, awards functions, and church. But this kid knocks it out of the park on all fronts! I don’t know his parents but I’d like to. I wanna know who gives this kid his instruction. Not just because he’s so neat and well put together but because there are jaunty bits of personal style fuzziness already manifesting.
Gingham button down and thick, chunky rep stripes. BAM!
Well cut flat-front khakis that preclude this young man from looking like a Thom Browne acolyte. Well done mom and dad.
And of course—loafers…the Meryl Streep of shoes. They thrive in any role…especially when the wearer is ten years old. And socks that offer just a bit of baby fuzziness courtesy of a piccolo argyle splash.
I’ll say it again. Well done young man and well done mom and dad. I’d a been impressed if the bar was still as high as it used to be and where it shoulda remained. 
But I was more impressed and smitten by this gal, the young lady sitting a few rows behind him.

Onward. On the road.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Senior Prom 1973

My mother hosted an after-prom breakfast for my sister and her friends. I remember it. I also remember wondering what the big freakin’ deal was about the prom. It was 1973. I wasn’t quite dialed into the prom thing just yet. And when I did become prom age, my peeps and I weren't jonesing for breakfast afterwards. Mainly because our dates were puking Sloe Gin and thinking that they were bleeding internally. 
These gals were high school juniors and their fellas were seniors. All three of the girls had been friends since elementary school and remain so today. Everyone in the photo went to different colleges and after the one-year younger girls graduated, three weddings soon occurred  Yep, all three married their high school sweethearts. And my mom’s living room décor and the revelers’ prom outfits just scream…1973.
This is my sister and my future brother-in-law. They'd already been dating for almost two years and he was the older brother I never had.He drove a ’69 Camaro with Cragar mags and he taught me how to drink three beers real fast when we would go run errands for my his Camaro. Of course he knew who sold beers to sixteen year old guys. He knew everything. He was cool as shit. When he hit college and became a KA, his button down shirts and khakis were so heavily starched that I often thought he was in a body cast.Years later he left my pregnant sister and their two toddlers for a slightly younger woman, still tight bodied and sans babies. And a decade later he called my sister, crying. Seems that the tight bodied woman left him for a slightly younger man, still tight bodied and sans babies.
This twin-set of lovebirds remain married today. I saw one of these guys in a meat and three local lunch joint when I was home last week. He looked like shit. Really.
Sometime around a decade after the prom photo was taken, my mom did some early 1980’sliving room remodelling  Different curtains and an anything but drastic change in wall color. The sofa was recovered and different color matting shrouded the framed engravings. This is what it looks like today. I’ve smooched on this sofa in both its current but yet again outdated sheathing as well as the original, pre-1983 version. And my ten years younger brother swears he doesn’trecall it. “It” being when he walked in on me and my first girlfriend while we were doing something we ought ’n.

Onward.Looking for something I ought ‘n.