29 May 2009

The Garment District

A stroll west on 40th Street

I spent some time in the garment district. These are shirting fabric samples. My father is going to disown me.

Friday's Very Rare Belts

Nylon Para Belt & Midleton Irish Whiskey

I don't consider nylon Trad. But bear with me.

I learned how to dress from other men. My cousin, the Hilton Head golf pro was a dapper southerner who was good looking, read Esquire, always drove cool cars and had a lot of girlfriends. He was my God and influenced me greatly in dress. That and I scored a lot of his hand me downs. I am also influenced by the men I see on the street. Not the street in Ft. Wayne Indiana but streets in London, New York, Palm Beach and Washington DC. There's more style and taste in these cities than you'll ever see in men's style magazines. But I never thought I'd be influenced by a Command Sergeant Major from the north west hills of Georgia.

We met a couple of years ago at the urging of his wife. His military career was amazing and if I divulged even a tiny bit--he'd kill me. He wrote a book and had some very good fortune. Movies and television and hanging out with famous actors and directors. But he's managed to stay who he always was. A bright and honorable man who can tell a damn good story. I noticed when we met that he was wearing this belt. I had not seen a belt like it since I got out of the Army. Made from nylon with light weight aluminum hardware, they were a common sight on weekends at Ft Bragg's sport parachute clubs (now gone) like the Green Beret Club, the 82nd Club and the XVIII Airborne Corps club. It's a belt that tells a story. Cops like 'em. Vets like 'em. I like 'em. But what I really like is Midleton Irish Whiskey.

You'll notice on the fist sip that this is something out of the ordinary. Like the Green Beret Sport Parachute Club...the smoothness hits first. The full mouth of what seems like honey comes second. It shares with a good Cuban cigar that rare ability to be powerful and smooth at the same time. Then the finish kicks in and hangs out for what seems like forever. If you like single malts -- you'll be amazed by this stuff. You may also be amazed by the price. At $140 or so it is something special and not to be shared with your 19 year old college nephew. This stuff is for you and perhaps a Sergeant Major you know.

27 May 2009

Lunch at Shopsins


Like a lot of things in life -- Shopsins is, "not as good as it was - - better than it will be." The old 900 item menu is now a one page lunch and one page breakfast menu. The venue is like eating in the bathroom of a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Alexander Hamilton stop to be precise. There is no joy here - - only silence interrupted by a battery of "fucks" coming from behind the counter and under the three gray lab darkroom timers suspended from the ceiling. It is a place as nasty as it's owner.

The rest of the market is a joy. Hand made blood sausage for $4.95 a pound. Goat for $3.95 a pound. 10 limes for a dollar. 50 corn tortillas for a dollar. 20 Oz of Achiote Annatto seeds for $2.99 (required for any pibil). And a haircut in the wackiest barber shop for $10. All in all, a very good afternoon in a place where my fellow customers were gracious, the shop owners welcoming and Kenny and crew living up to their reputation.

Kenny Shopsin's half baked theory of being a piece of shit

I'm heading down on the V Train to have lunch at Shopsins...if I don't get thrown out. There's also Aminova's Barber Shop in the same street market. Haircuts for $7 and voted best barber by the Village Voice in 2001. This has all the makings of a fantastic afternoon or a very bad one.

25 May 2009

Ft Bragg, NC 1966

Smoke Bomb Hill, Ft Bragg, NC 1966

My father's A Team just before deployment to 5th Group in Vietnam. A story in every man. An odd A Team in that there were 13 men and not the usual 12. Two NCO's and a Lieutenant did not come back.

I remember a party at our quarters on post just before they left. Everyone of these men were crammed into our tiny living room. Wearing starched fatigues, drinking beer and smoking Marlboro's--I wandered among the spit shined Corcoran jump boots while the theme from, "The Magnificent Seven" boomed over a stereo. I looked at our dining room table and saw a pile of forest green berets with the red 7th Group flash sewn on the front. Some worn and some brand new. I'll never forget the smoke and laughter in that living room. Or that I was around something that was very real and they were going somewhere very dangerous. I'll never forget.

Many years later my mother recalled the same party. Late that night a young sergeant cornered her on the stairs to the only bathroom in the house. "Uh oh," she thought. "Here we go..." He leaned into her and said, "Don't worry about your husband, ma'am. Nothing's gonna happen to him. We're gonna make sure." And with that he turned around and walked away and was true to his word.

22 May 2009

The Friday Belt - DAKS & The Penguin

The Penguin
The Rooster

Discovered in the back of my closet. I swear.

Still on the wagon and belt less. This was going to be about Perrier versus Pellegrino. I like Perrier as a mixer because the bubbles are bigger (swear to God). I like Pellegrino by itself because it's so much softer. Either way, they both go flat in a heart beat. And there's nothing worse than drinking flat seltzer water. I heard about making your own seltzer and did a little digging. /div>

The Penguin, in the Williams Sonoma shot up there, looks like a good deal. The opening mechanism reminds me of gullwing car doors and you can adjust the bubbles. In NYC you can use tap water -- which I don't recommend in Philadelphia. The European seltzer makers are slick looking but run north of $1,000 while the Penguin is $199. Knowing my readers are made up of only the most erudite and sophisticated people -- I have to ask... Has anyone pulled the trigger on a Penguin?

In the late 60's the Rooster Tie was everywhere. And it was the tie to give and get for Christmas. At least in my families circle of friends and relatives. Uncle Clyde gave me one and I gave one to Uncle Clyde...or was it Canoe cologne? I dunno. Anyway, I'd love to tell you this was in the back of my closet. Really... So, I will. This was in the back of my closet because I'm not stupid enough to see it in a tony NYC vintage store on 23rd Street and pay $45 for it. Not me, man.

About the time Rooster Ties were all the rage - - there was the beltless Sansabelt slack. Made by those two famous designing sisters, Polly and Esther, they were particularly revolting in a light blue favored by men who paired them with white patent leather loafers. The DAKS (from "Dad" and "Slacks") waistband was created by the Brit, Alec Simpson in the early 30's and has nothing to do with Sansabelt. It's a favorite detail at Alan Flusser's shop and is popular with corduroys from the UK. There will always be that friend who will point and laugh at DAKS but these are the people you keep around for your own personal amusement.

21 May 2009

Army Watches Madras

NYC - Summer 1985
Army "Issue" Watch with J Press Strap

Getting old always has its moments. 23 years ago and this picture tells me a couple of things I remember and some things I don't. Take the watch. I think it was a Hamilton. Not sure. Positive it wasn't Army issue. Very few of these Olive Drab watches were ever issued or I never figured out how to get one. I went off post and bought this one for $10 or so at a Surplus store in Fayettville. US Government lock sets were another story. An Army buddy helped me with the paper work. "Sgt Tintin requires a lock set to secure his personal belongings." Personal use is a big no-no but Sgt. Murphy told me no one ever read the requests for lock sets so it didn't matter.

That's a J Press strap. Blue and Yellow. My favorite colors. I'm wearing it on my right wrist because, and I'm guessing, the creeping crud I picked up in Panama during Jungle Expert School was making it's scheduled summer re-appearance wherever metal touched skin. I do remember the Rolex Sub was in for an overhaul. It stayed with the jeweler nine months because I couldn't afford to pay the repair bill. When I finally went in to pick it up this guy asked me, "What, did you forget about it?" Hardly.

The Madras shirt was Jos. Bank when they still had some soul. The great thing about Madras, then and today, was it carried huge Trad-Nads while being cheap as all get out. Something important to remember while working as a GS-5 for the Park Service. Although, what is in those Macy's bags is anyone's guess. Hopefully underwear.

20 May 2009

Topsiders of Shame

Ralph Lauren Topsiders - The Shame

Found these last year on sale. Hunter green with red and yellow trim. Ralph Lauren and made in the US of A. Asking price was $35o before being marked down to $100. I should'a bought two pair...I'm wearing these out. A beautiful shape unlike any topsider I've ever owned. Very comfortable. I salute the designer and must find out which US company made these. Hey, Tater! Have any G-2 on these? I'm looking for a life time supply.

18 May 2009

29 Years Ago

Army Leave & Earnings Statement

Driving gloves & Pendleton Shirt

18 May 1980 was my ETS (Estimated Termination of Service) date although the actual date was 17 May. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was to start college in September and had an entire summer with a Fiat X1/9 in Florida. Things were looking up.

The Fiat had a seat belt monitor that could also tell when I had cash in my wallet...which is when it broke. I had to hustle for college loans, basic education grants, the GI Bill and two part time jobs to pay for my first year of college while working the summer as a midnight to 8:00AM security guard at Marine Land.

The Pendleton flannel shirt was from the Ft Bragg PX and I don't even wanna know where those gloves came from. The Fiat (Fix It Again Tony) was a complete piece of crap that many years later friends in London would laughingly tell me, "You owned a Hairdresser's car, mate."

The Leave and Earning's Statement lists Jump Pay at $55.00 a month. Unchanged since WWII when fifty five bucks could go a long way. Still, the "Laundry" or Quarter Master Laundry was a steal. All laundry was done for $8 a month although jeans were always starched which pissed me off to no end but seemed to make the guys from Texas happy.

Soon there will the same number of years (31) between the end of WWII and when I enlisted in the Army. These calculations kill me.

15 May 2009

The Friday Belt - London with Sun

Side Tabs & Democrat Links

The Ginger Beer Challenge - Regatta vs Barritts

We can all use a day of abstinence. And it's nice to go a day without a belt. I fell in love with side tab trousers working in London. A unique bit of tailoring usually associated with bespoke but more and more found off the rack. Perfect with braces or without.

Brits are fond of this detail where they add a clean line to their tall and butt-less bodies. I've never seen more men with less 'ass' than Brits. And they always have that haircut from 1977. Long and shaggy with side burns I haven't seen in 30 years. Shirts are always double cuff and the suit linings are bright red or hunter green. God, they know how to have fun with clothes...and they never talk about US sports...and for those two reasons alone - - I love them. Those links you see were found at Paul Stuart in Chicago. Just before an election a few years back and while they had plenty of the Donkey links --they were sold out of the elephant links. Go figure.

Bermuda is London -- but with sun. A drink that tastes like the sun, a sailboat and sex on a beach is the Dark and Stormy. Goslings Black Seal Rum and Barritt's Ginger Beer with a squeeze of lime is the Dark & Stormy. It is an amazing cocktail and has recently found favor with the hip. There are too many restaurants in NYC who will make you a Dark and Stormy with Canada Dry ginger ale and Myer's Rum. That's just obscene. These philistines are screwing around with a formula that is perfection.

Barritts is tough to find. But go to their web site and give the company a call and you'll have a damn good chance of talking to Bruce Barritt like I did. A great guy who told me where I could find his sweet nectar of the gods. Then there's this other stuff called Regatta. It's easier to find but I've recently done a comparison between the two. Regatta mixed with Goslings sucks. How's that for a Robert Parker review? But Regatta alone is a better ginger beer than Barritts. I don't know how but if you're abstaining -- you're ok with Regatta. Loooooonnnnngggggg pause--- But who in the Hell would ever drink ginger beer without Goslings?

14 May 2009

Ersatz Trad

"It is the manufacturer who has the bad taste, it is he who believes that this bad taste is what other people want. Tradition is destroyed and replaced with nothing. What is culture but a sense of the past continually revivified in their present act. " Cecil Beaton in The Glass of Fashion

13 May 2009

Infant Trad

The Trad wearing a Charvet bowtie

The question was asked, "How long have you worn bow ties?" Not in the womb but shortly after.

08 May 2009

Friday Belts- Mystery Strap & Bushmills

A J Press tartan strap and Bushmills White Label

See the damage done to that bottle over last winter? Not too bad. I'm good with Bushmills. I tend to sip it. With a little ice. It's clean, crisp and dry (and cheap). A nice diversion from a smokey Scotch or Rye. The distillery has been around since 1608. Pairs well with cold roast beef and horseradish on a Sunday afternoon. Jameson Irish Whiskey (ahem) is another story. I do not keep it in the house because of the evil it can do. Especially when combined with Guinness. For me, Bushmills is like drinking with a very attractive nun...I'm enjoying myself but there's not a lotta trouble I can get into.

Ken Bruen, the Irish crime writer, has a cautionary tale of an ex-cop turned private detective in Galway. 'The Guards' is a stumbling haze of Jameson chased with Guinness and a lotta punches. It's a ragged hangover crime noir that is best read with the Saw Doctors playing in the background.

Like a lot of Mr Bruen's books...that tartan strap is a mystery. There's a J Press label on the back and a logo stamp as well but no country of manufacture. I found it a year ago at the Daffy's on East 57th street for ten bucks. I never saw this belt at Press or in their catalogs so I assume it's dead stock - - But what's J Press doing at Daffy's? Where was it made? And who cut the Daffy's deal? I think there's a helluva story here. A story about a retail private eye.

DEAD STOCK by Tintin

It was hot. Too damned hot for the cordovan loafers he was wearing but too damned late to think about it now as he rounded Madison and headed north for the sit with the Japanese at Press. He pulled at his oxford cloth collar and cursed at himself for tying the madras bow too tight. 'They're gonna think it's a crummy pre-tied' he thought as the hammers banged around his head. He had one too many Bushmills at the King Cole last night with that hottie buyer from Ralph Lauren. 'What kind'a parents name a kid, Bunny?' he thought. 'Well...at least it suits her.'

05 May 2009

Bow Ties & Erections

Tom Davis of Brooks Brothers Photo by Garda Tang as seen in Mr Classic by Jeremy Hackett

Bow Tie and Double Breasted Blazer

The Wall Street Journal (I bought two in my life) ran a story on bow ties being hip. I'm seriously looking at selling every bow tie I own. And I have a few. Bow ties are difficult to figure out and certainly this Journal reporter who covers the gaming industry isn't going to help you. Neither will I for that matter but I don't get paid to write about bow ties.

I do have a theory about bow ties and I know for a fact I've given them much more thought than Ms Binkley. In the right place at the right time with the right suit or jacket --they reflect a traditional look that men envy and women adore. Check out Mr Tom Davis from the Madison Avenue Brook's Brothers in that top shot. Tom nails it with a 5 pound sledge.

It doesn't hurt that Tom's a southerner but the bottom line is - - Tom's doing the bow tie with an erudite casualness that's brilliant. No swivel back cuff links here. Instead, double links tastefully small. While I'm not a pocket square fan I salute Tom for his plain white kerchief. And then there's that bow tie. Looks like a rep. Can't tell for sure but you get where I'm going. This man does not look like Pee Wee Herman and every other dolt who looks like Pee Wee in his pre-tied, way too long, tightly tied bow.

Below Tom is a bow I tied this morning. The mistake I made when I first started this bow tie thing years ago was adjusting the tie based on my neck size. I have a 16 neck but I adjust my tie to a 14 and sometimes even 13.5 resulting in a smaller tie. The sloppiness of the bow assures one and all it is not a pre-tied. I mean, there's no doubt someone tied this and most likely it was with a hangover.

Lastly, it helps to be older. I understand David Sedaris opined that a bow tie announces to the world you can no longer get an erection. That's cute. I've never been on the receiving side of erections so I assume David is speaking from his personal experience. As a straight man familiar with only one erection...mine...Mr Sedaris is -- for the time being (knock wood) -- wrong.

Orange & Green for Spring

Tulips on Park and 58th

Nice day last week. A reminder of more orange and green shirt/tie combinations for this Spring. If it ever stops raining.

01 May 2009

Friday Belts: Blood Orange Oars

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and J Press Oars

Start rowing
I'm pretty new to Blood Orange Liqueur but have known the 'Crossed Oar' belt from J Press for donkey years. Lets get the Oars outta the way.

A simple design that's pure Trad in every way. The colors are perfect. Navy, maroon and yellow. The crossed oars form an image I associate with boat houses in Philadelphia, Princeton Crew teams and the J Crew catalog of the 80's. It's an elegant looking belt and made more so by the whopping $28.50 J Press charges. That's a lot of belt for under 30 bucks.

There was the kind of guy in college who I associate with this belt. A good 30 pounds overweight due to heavy beer consumption - - His hair was longish and slightly wavy. He smoked Marlboro's, drove a jeep and went to Cozumel for Spring Break. His family had money and you knew he had zip to worry about...other than DUI's. You found out at alumni he was working as a chef at a tony Aspen restaurant when he was busted for buying cocaine from two undercover cops. And he probably was wearing this belt.

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur is a stand in for any orange liqueur only better. I'm told it makes a better Magarita but I'm not Magarita fan. I was introduced at Gramercy Tavern where I had a Rye and Shine. Rittenhouse Rye with Solerno and fresh squeezed OJ. Very tasty. I've had it with Pelligrino and with Aperol and soda. This weekend I hope to have it with Prosseco. And while it costs more than the belt - - one hopes it will last 'cause it's such a great looking bottle. Complete with a juicer punt bottom. Can I say that?