Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sid Mashburn


Experience has taught me and my vivid, active, visual imagination that the longer I wait to witness what’s been declared worthy of my attention, the higher the likelihood that I’ll be disappointed. I remember when The Big Chill hit theaters in 1983. Everyone was talking about it and everyone seemed to have something deeper to say about it over and above simply how much they enjoyed it.

Typical of my movie going behavior then and now, I ended up seeing The Big Chill about eight months after it premiered. The build-up in my mind, fuelled by all that had been said about it and all that had been written about in reviews, was really high…unfairly so I reckon. I liked the movie. But as I walked out of the theater I was thinking big whup…big deal versus Big Chill. It was my fault. Everything that had been said about the movie was probably true. The problem was that I allowed eight months’ worth of chatter about it to make my expectations unrealistic. Or maybe I hadn't lived enough life by 1983 to make deeper connections. Who knows.
Time is not a friend to my imagination. I’m just too prone to gin up expectations that aren’t gonna be met. I did the same with Take Ivy, the epic little book that for years was almost unobtainable and when you did find a copy of it, five hundred bucks got you a circa 1960’s photo book of Ivy guys in cool clothes, annotated in Japanese. I’d never seen the book except for excerpts of it from blog posts. Tintin did a story…probably a few stories on the book and the young Japanese guys who did the photography and the writing. So when the second printing was in work, of course I pre-ordered it. My disappointment was one hundred percent my fault. I couldn’t for the life of me, understand what all the hype had been about. To this day I believe that a good bit of it was due to the fact that the original version was so scarce that just lack of supply fuelled a good bit of the book’s aura. I do owe that book and its authors an apology and I’ll do so someday…in a blog post devoted just to that.
"So who the hell is Sid Mashburn?” I said. And I said it several years ago when I first encountered the man in the media. I think it was this Garden and Gun photo of Mashburn on his screened porch. Southern boy gone New York on us and done well in the men's retail/fashion/design business. And he seemed like a nice enough guy, devoid of the manufactured urban irony so common amongst the McNairys, Muytjens and their scores of devotee sycophants who blog their contrived urban edginess online.
Garden and Gun
And then I watched somewhere online a few years ago, a brief interview with Sid about his overall strategy regarding his aesthetic code and how it conveyed to the tactical process of creating goods for his Atlanta atelier. Essentially Mashburn declared that he wanted to modernize the classics and source tasty goods from artisans who turned out high quality interpretations of what he desired. I’d heard similar assertions many times before over the years but there was something more sincere about what Mashburn had to say.
Perhaps part of my taking to Mashburn was the fact that he was a Southern boy with nice manners and his twenties were a few decades past him. He lacked, at least in the video clips that I saw, all traces of Urban Edgy Ironic Angst (U.E.I.A.). U.E.I.A. … You know what I’m talking about if you’ve followed any of the tumblrs or blogs so fraught with the “look at me, I’m the f_cking trend setter here in Urblandia ("even though I convey it from the basement of my mom’s house here in Peoria") and my goal here is to convey the look but to also make you feel less hip than me.” Michael Bastian might be the nicest guy I met at the Ivy Style symposium and I’m pleased that I spent a moment talking with him because I was before that encounter, ready to toss him on the same pile as the U.E.I.A.s. Bastian’s a really, really decent guy and so is I believe, Sid Mashburn.
Then over the last several years, I routinely visited Sid’s website but never pulled the trigger on anything. But I did conclude, not having fingered the goods personally, that the taste level was high, the playfulness and whimsy was present and accounted for, the fuzziness was there but none of it seemed theatrical or costumey. There were no look books with Thom Browne calibre shrunken-ness yet my boy Mashburn in more than one photo in the blogosphere was sockless. I’m on the South Carolina Kappa Alpha redneck record as one to eschew socks when at all possible. And when society or my clients demand them, I’m gonna wear some doozies.
Let me go ahead and call Mr. Mashburn out on the only criticism he or his shop will get from me in this post. I DO speculate that Sid was the guy who if not originating it, certainly fuelled the trend of wearing double monks with one buckle undone. Folks, I’m all for a little Horry County redneck sprezzatura; you know...a bit of ADG fuzziness. But the unbuckled monk thang got campaigned way too grandly to the point of premeditated affectation. Who done it? I ain’t no sartorial sleuth per damn se but I’d go looking under logs and rocks around the U.E.I.A. compound if I was really jonesin’ for the answer. But like I used to say about my sister when we was fightin’ like cats and dogs in the back of my mama’s Vista Cruiser station wagon on vacation in 1971…"Sidney's ass started it, mama."
Over the last three years I’ve not been in Atlanta with enough free time to swing by and see what the Sid Mashburn emporium looked like in situ. That’s fancy talk for I’d never been there. And remember, I’ve now had three or so years of Sid Mashburn build-up and ADG imaginative conjugatin’ and cogitatin’ to have my expectations beyond realistic when I did, finally have the time last week to roll in on ‘em. The Big Chill WTF?A Take Ivy take-down?  I was prepared for the inevitable underwhelming or a hog trough full a attitude that would make the tasty goods not so. Plus, it’s just the nature of my business travel, but over the course of any given year, I generally get to see a lot of haberdasheries across the country. And my baseline comparators for well edited tastiness include regular visits to Paul Stuart and the Flusser atelier in Gotham. And thems make for high comparative bars.
The first thing that I noticed when I walked in the store mid-morning last Tuesday was the expanse. It’s larger than my mind’s eye had it. And it’s not over visualized. What I mean is that there’s no evidence of, unlike the albeit uber tasty Polo Ralph stores, a a gaggle of steroid laden visual team ninjas hitting the place overnight and leaving, kinda like Santa or the Easter Bunny, suit forms with five pocket squares and sunglasses brimming out of a now too turgid breast pocket. The place is over the top tasty with black being a predominant color playing nicely with Berber rug kinda neutral colors in balance. The goods are nicely presented and the place, unlike the “let’s pack this shit up to the ceiling and then have constant markdowns to move it out” strategies of J.EverybodyDamnBodyElseCrew et al, is well stocked with inventory without looking like Uncle Fester’s bloated ass sittin’ on the sofa after too much Sunday dinner, The joint is well edited.
And the place was abuzz for a mid-morning weekday. Only a few other customers but everyone was busy and it didn’t seem like busywork. The place had a nice energy and cadence and was inviting. Much unlike the caustic “what the f_%k are you doing in here” sideways glance that you’ll surely get when walking into the J. Crew Liquor Store or their Men’s Shop in Gotham where they almost dare you to buy one of their piece of shit sweatshop button downs with the precious little re-imagined baby collar points. Shut up. So in keeping with my standard practice of not announcing myself as a blogger, I gandered around solo after a very affable gentleman welcomed me to the store. 
The place is fraught with young’uns and they are all into the edgy looks that the twenty-something sartorials are prone to these days. But there was an absence of attitude and a level of professionalism that is sometimes even absent from the Purple Label corner of Ralph’s Gotham Mansion. Let me cut the verbosity and say that everyone I spoke to in the store was courteous and professional. And I doubt that the fact that I was swathed in Flusser and Cleverley head to toe had that much to do with it. And of course I didn’t meet Mashburn. He was elsewhere that morning.
So let’s get to the clothes. Folks, everything in the store is off the charts tasty and I saw nothing that I wouldn’t wear. Nothing. The taste level is there. The quality is there. And the price-point strategy is unapologetically…correct. There’s an absence of Thom Brown shrunken-ness balanced with a basic philosophy of slimmer silhouettes and slightly, and I emphasize slightly, shorter lengths in general. Bottom line is this; similar to how I feel about Paul Stuart…if I bought all of my clothes off the peg, I could outfit myself exclusively from Sid Mashburn’s offerings.
Sid doesn’t offer any $350.00 off the shelf cotton shirts but nor are there any cheap-ass $89.00 dollar ones from the J. Crew type sweatshops of third-worldia. I believe that Mashburn has hit an enviable balance. The quality is there in every item. No bullshit, the goods carry their price points credibly. Off the chart tasty sportcoats, with the exception of Sid’s highest, high end, Kiton-ish jackets can be had for sometimes under a grand. And some of the well contrived two piece suitings are yours for south of fifteen hundred.
I believe the genius if Mashburn’s joint is the balance that he maintains to stay in what I’ll call an all-inclusive sweet spot. Let me explain. A fifty-five year old Piedmont Driving, Cherokee Town and Country Club guy could walk in and feel like he was in the right place. He might default back to H. Stockton if he was a chubby boy but otherwise he'd be ok. And an Urban Edgy Ironic Angster, if he had mama’s credit card and the keys to her Vista Cruiser could rock out in the joint too. Mashburn has hit a steady state of edginess and forward thinking uniqueness while remaining true to the Trad antecedents what brung him. It’s a store for everyone.
Let me close this by updating you on what I bought. Which by the way was precious little. I need nothing and have three jackets in the works courtesy of other bespokeydoke makers so the Mashburn clothing rack was no less populated upon my exit. Oh, and the shoes…If I did need shoes, I could source all of my needs from Sid’s own label makes from Northampton. I think he’s clever to offer a reputable Northampton maker that enables him to keep even his best private label offerings below six hundred-ish-esque bucks. There are a few Edward Green’s on offer at higher price points but why bother. Got to Leffot in Gotham if you wanna step up and start spending over a grand for your shoes.
Oh, what did I buy? I’ve always wanted the Sid oyster belt buckle and now I have it.
And God knows I needed another green canvas bag like a needed another ho on my head.Thanks Sid.
Photo from www.wearethemarket.com
Oh, and one other thing. Sid and his wife have five daughters. Lordy. Maybe I can send LFG to Camp Mashburn for the summer. Surely at least one of his girls would take to my precious young'un.
I’ve not been as over the top impressed with a purveyor in twenty years. Sid Mashburn’s joint is the bomb. If I lived in Atlanta, I’d axk ‘em to let me work there gratis on Saturdays just so I could rub up against the tasty goods.

Onward. To Denver for a day. Amazing what I’ll do for my day rate of two-fifty. Shut up.

ADG II

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Riffin' The Blues


“Who’s interested in playing a band instrument?” I wasn’t certain that I wanted to play in the school band but at ten years old, when an offer to leave class and spend twenty minutes anywhere other than amidst the pedagogy of whatever a Royall Elementary School teacher was forcing on my already brilliant ass, I was certain that I’d at least go to the meeting. So a few of us headed to the auditorium to hear Mr. Alan Perry’s spiel about joining the school band.
Mr. Perry was a cool cat. Kinda ironic and mildly sardonic at the same time butcept I wasn’t aware of it at that particular moment. I’d discern such later when I sorted out his after school activities as a Jaguar E Type S-1 owner and member of a jazz group that played local weddings and social events. The car alone was enough to make him a cool cat. I mean really. His yellow Jag convertible was exotic in its own right but even more so when Mr. Perry pulled up at school and parked it amidst the early 1970’s teachers’ cars caca. But I digress.
So not only did I decide that I wanted to be in the band, I settled on being a drummer. I took the information home to my mama and she agreed it’d be a good idea since I’d recently been kicked out of Cub Scouts so we went to Summerell’s music store to see about a snare drum. Actually, it was Mr. Summerell’s house. Small town. Shut up. And within thirty minutes at Mr. Summerell’s house/store, I was kitted out with a snare drum starter set. My mom wisely rented it, knowing that I was just as likely to be done with the whole thing in a week as I was to become the drumming prodigy that I thought I became.

Mr. Summerell for some reason, kinda haphazardly tossed me a probably twenty year old Slingerland drums catalogue that would fuel from that moment on, my absolute obsession with owning a full set of drums…the entire kit…GeneKrupa style. Whoever the hell he was.
I dutifully learned my 13 Rudiments and jammed with my fellow band members to Riffin the Blues and Pine Tree Patrol during practice. And I drove my mother off the deep end when playing that snare drum at home. But it was the Slingerland catalogue that got me. I thumbed the pages relentlessly, lusting after the goods on each page not unlike the contents of the moldy Playboy magazine that we kept up in Purvis’ woods at our camp. The difference though was that I had a vague idea regarding what to do with the stuff in the Slingerland catalogue. I had no idea where Niles, Illinois was and I probably pronounced Illinois like noise. All I knew was that they made Slingerland drums in that town and I wanted them to send me some.

Gene Krupa was Slingerland’s front man and was on the cover of every Slingerland catalogue for thirty years. And Krupa is credited with many of the trap set standards…tuneable heads, the high hat stand as well as working with Zildjian on creating standard use cymbals in the ride and crash categories. I loved the marine pearl drums that Krupa played and I wanted them. Real bad. 
 Buddy Rich in my humble opinion was far and away the better drummer. Speed…that was his differentiating strategy. But Buddy was not a true blue Slingerland man. He flirted with other makers including Ludwig but in the end, he was back behind a set of Slingerlands. Watch Krupa and Rich. It’s clear that Rich, while being respectful of his legendary elder’s skill, was just waiting his turn to smoke him. 
But I thought both guys were cool and I was  intrigued that they played drums in suits. I only wore a suit to church on Sundays and only then because my mama made me. Later I learned that Krupa got busted for marijuana and that made him even more mysterious and edgy to me. Remember, I was ten. That's Krupa above. Voluntarily boarding the Paddy Wagon after his arrest. It would be several more years before I'd be herded onto a similar vehicle in North Myrtle Beach. And I wasn't near as elegant as Mr. Krupa during the boarding process. I had those plastic disposable Spring Break handcuffs on and I was crying and drooling draft beer spittle on the front of my Howdy Doody t-shirt and I smelled a little bit like upchuck.
I begged my parents for a Slingerland set…the marine pearl ones just like Krupa’s. And since I was a model child, the next Christmas I had ‘em…at least a starter version. Two mounted tom-toms, a high hat and one ride cymbal…Zilco not Zildjian. Zildjian cymbals were pricey and my prodigy-ness was yet to unfurl. I saved my money and later added better cymbals and a floor tom. Look at my Justin Bieber, curl blow dried out of my hair, bang(s).
The Slingerland set fuelled my transition from school band member to rock star wannabe. My mom found a gal who taught drums…not snare drumming but how to play a set of drums. She came to our house with a book of very basic drumming sequences and showed me how to read each line of music that represented different drums or cymbals. I practiced my ass off and the two times she showed up to teach me were great. Then she no-showed one afternoon. I learned later by eavesdropping on my mama and aunt Kat in the kitchen that the gal got busted for marijuana. First Krupa and now my two-visits drum teacher? What was it about that evil weed?

Remember the stereo system in your parents’ den or basement? You know, the one that was a piece of furniture about as long as a steamer trunk…replete with a swing arm multi-album turntable and an AM-FM radio as well. Then to top it off it had the area to house albums and forty-fives. The speakers were in the front panels. Well, I blew my mom’s speakers within six months of banging my drums in the living room. That's little LFG in front of the still damaged and still in my mama's house, stereo.
Sandy Nelson albumsTeen Drums and Drums and More Drums fronted my first play along with albums efforts. Chuck Berry’s Maybellene and Johnny B. Good were easy enough to keep up with and I played the Rare Earth Get Ready album; with one side devoted to the title song, incessantly.
R.R. got a guitar and small amplifier and S.S. got a beat up old bass and we had visions of going on the road. Mostly we just played at whoever’s mama’s house would tolerate our noise making. And I continued to play in the school band through junior high. But here's an important point...We didn't have uniforms and we didn't march anywhere during elementary and junior high band. So I dropped band  like a bad habit during my inaugural, pre-freshman year summer band camp. I was too busy trying to be a hippie and besides, chicks didn't dig guys that wore goofy ass uniforms while playing in the marching band. Thereafter I was playing in various pick-up bands and had pretty much abandoned playing anything as elegant as Krupa and Rich style music for loud Rock and Roll. I have a 70% hearing loss in one ear to vouch for those heady years. 

I shared this in another story but here you go again…if my cymbal wasn’t in the way, you’d see ADG, the high school sophomore accompanying Louise, the gal who won the talent show that year. My band had just finished covering the Stories song, Brother Louie and we didn’t win dooky.

After my sophomore year of high school I pretty much ran outta gas on the idea of being a rock star. I played drums here and there but then gave it up for college and the KA house and all things fratty. My best childhood buddy, fellow school band drummer and wingman to this day, DCA, ended up with my drum kit at his house. Then it got lent to various and sundry parties and I figured it to be lost forever. Not too long ago DCA informed me that they had emerged again. They’re now in his attic and even though I’m not in a hurry to go get ‘em, there’s comfort in knowing that my marine pearl noise makers are within reach.

Onward. No autographs. Please.

ADG Deuce.
 Oh, and please…enjoy Stories and Brother Louie. Oy. One big-ass wah-wah pedal of 70’s twang.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

ADG Fall 2013 Sneak Preview

Please don't flood my inbox with queries regarding who's gonna purvey these sublime togs. I'll share the sources with you in due time.
Just let the anticipation build for now. 

Onward. Elasticized.

ADG II

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mangum’s Army Navy


Spare me the comments about how I spend too much time thinking about the past. The older I get the more I choose to conjure a blissful childhood and come to think of it, there’s very little conjuring necessary. I had a blast.
Downtown Florence, S.C. … comprising about four blocks of Evans and Dargan street retail commerce during my upbringing…seemed to my dismay, gone forever. Every time I’d visit home over the last fifteen years I’d drive through what had become almost Detroit calibre urban decay. Ok, ok, there’s a bit of hyperbole here but not too much.
Let me put it this way. Those adults who can today still walk the few blocks of their downtown childhood retail purveyance are fortunate. My little downtown that provided my everything from birth till mid-elementary school when the mall was built seemed gone forever. I remember my mom taking me and my enemy (older sister) to The Children’s Shop (above) for our elementary school clothes. Other than requiring my skinny little ass to be present to assure that the clothes fit, my attendance was ignored. I had zero say in what was purchased and my school pants were always bought with enough extra inseam to require they be turned up with cuffs that were half-again as tall as my little spindly legs were long. God forbid I hit a third grader nano-growth spurt that would take me from looking like HervĂ© Villechaize to a lanky Kareem Abdul Alcindor with highwater pants. And if I so much as squeaked during the procurement process, my Tareyton 100s smoking mama would give me a shut up look that was freakin’ nuclear. 

But there seems to be hope. Not for my Tareyton 100s smoking mama but for Downtown Florence. I always speculated that nobody would risk investing the money or time to be a first-mover in a “let’s re-do downtown” strategy. But it’s slowly happening and I’m hopeful that the resurrection will be enduring. Do resurrections endure? Or is it more accurate to declare that once the resurrection is manifest, one defines the ongoing whatever as something else. Come to think of it, I hear routinely that if you “have a resurrection lasting more than four hours you should seek medical attention.” Well that settles it then. I hope the amidst renewal Downtown Florence will...sustain.
Oh, right, this story was supposed to be about Mangum’s Army-Navy on Dargan Street. Folks, here’s my late sixties-early seventies “Little Dusty (I never did hit that Kareem Abdul shit)  has five dollars to spend and wants to go to Mangum’s” as it stands today.
This is the place. The destination that I’ve referred to in previous stories where Vietnam era military surplus was strewn about in cardboard boxes for the picking. It was to me, simply nirvana. 
Mr.Mangum didn’t merchandise the martial surplus loot like Mel and Patricia Ziegler did in their first couple of Banana Republic stores. He simply put the boxes out on the floor and threw a delightfully low price on random ammo pouches, web belts, entrenching tools and helmet liners.
I remember one time when Mr. Mangum got in a gaggle of old nylon parachutes. Good God Man! When word tweeted through the neighborhood that Mangum's had parachutes, (Picture my little barefoot ass running across the front lawns of my ‘hood with a parachute behind me...that’s tweeting, 1968 style) every kid wrangled ten bucks and a ride to Mangum’s to get one. I think the rest of our summer was defined by those parachutes.
They mostly became tents and coverage for whatever but only after my best friend GRR tried to actually use his for what it was intended. I thought his rooftop jump-off over at JJF’s house would surely end in the confiscation of all our canopied nylon. Interestingly, the only consequence was GRR's broken leg. Oh, and Stinky Burgess, Roxanne’s brother, made a caftan from his parachute. He writes for the Village Voice today.
So my drive through Downtown Florence recently was kinda hopeful amidst moments of lost hope otherwise. And I’m sure at some point that the Mangum’s signage will come down. But I was glad to see it again and recall the surge of excitement that coursed through me as I pushed through those doors to see what the cardboard boxes next held for us.

Onward…Entrenched...Doing finance and transportation for LFG. And loving every minute of it.

ADG-Two

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Acid Washed Eighties

It’s a karmic thang. At least for me. I’m firmly settled on the fact that when what I’ll call…"humbling” photos of me emerge, I must reveal them. I’ve tried to destroy most of the worst ones but every now and then a few will emerge from the vapors.

I’d like to think that I have a fairly decent moral code…a good sense of right and wrong without a big pile of stuff for which I need to ask forgiveness. I try to roll rather clean in that regard because my other burdens are generally heavy enough to tote. And since I’m not prone to mince words when calling others out on their shrunken clothes, unbuckled monk strap impertinence; I feel that it’s my calling to share the absurdity of my former missteps.
And the record already shows that I readily admit to and reveal my sartorial missteps and poorly guided decisions regarding dress and deportment. My one hundred damn percent polyester banana Prom episode is on the record visually and in print. Right here
Oh, and I was reasonably self-deprecating, here, in my first girl, Nik-Nik shirt story.

So my best childhood buddy, DCA starts texting me photos the other week when I was back home. DCA and his wife were preparing a slide show for their son’s birthday celebration and he ran across a gaggle of photos of us from the early eighties. Oy. I think DCA knew that I needed cheering up a bit and the photos were nothing short of guffaw worthy. Oy. Again.
Some might say that photos of this type should be destroyed…never revealed and if they did emerge, full denial of knowing the subject therein would be the best strategy. This I cannot do. See again my opening statements. So here we have my porn star mustache phase in full furl. Furl—yep. We gotta caterpillar rolled up and sittin’ right there. On my upper lip.What. Was. I. Thinking? Alas.
But it gets worse. Acid washed? DCA is on the left and RCC is in the middle. I remember this particular evening clearly. We were celebrating RCC’s wife’s birthday, drinking at The Cellar in Charlotte, N.C. At least I’d shed the mustache. And the fact that I had on Polo Ralph white bucks offers zero compensation for the acid washed shitake that had me preening like some kinda high-waisted soccer mom. I believe the waist band on these babies hit me just below the nipples. Shut up.
At least I wasn’t wearing my Jimmy damn Connors loves Roscoe Tanner tennis hot pants like this cat was.
I don’t know what to say about this one. Polo Rowdy loafers. On a pontoon boat in the middle of Lake Murray. With a Totie Fields moo-moo on. At least when I cross dressed, I did so with an eye for practicality and comfort. Shut ____.
And here’s the photo that almost made me run off the road when it came through on my iPhone. Oh lordy. Saturday morning in the men’s store. Surprise...I was hungover. Interestingly, all three of us in this photo went on to become entrepreneurs and business owners. DWT and DCA have enviable net worths today. I have a negative one. And DCA already had contact lens, thank goodness but for some reason that morning, he hadn’t yet put them in. His glasses weighed eleven pounds. But who am I to trash talk his momentary, pre-contact lens, bug-eyed-ness. Look at my porthole sized glasses and my “I need to look like Harry Reems mustache. This is bad. I haven’t much else to say about this butcept that I thought until now that the seventies were bad sartorial years. I’m now clear on the fact that even though I was making my way out of a dark decade and into marginally better sartorial and grooming habits, I still had a long way to go.
Forgive me.

ADG II...travelling on business. Thank goodness.

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