28 August 2012

A Criminal Oversight

Ted Lewis on the set of Get Carter, 1971

BBC4 Radio documentry on life & career of Ted Lewis, click image to enlarge

Get Carter with Michael Caine stands as one of the best noir - revenge films ever. I first saw it on video in the early '90s when college roommate Wallace Stroby included it with a couple Chow Yun-fat gangster flicks in what the ex-wife called, 'Wally Mail.' Carter was the far better picture and it got me thinking about how many awful revenge films are out there and why Carter was so different.

Every Mel Gibson picture, from Mad Max (which is pretty darned good) to the American Revolution disaster, The Patriot, are all revenge pics. Mel has a big family. Family gets killed when Mel isn't looking. Bad guys mess up Mel. Mel gets mad and boom, you're in Act III, Mel kills bad guys, roll credits.

Get Carter has a professional hit man in London (Caine) who comes home (Newcastle) to find out who killed his brother. That's a pretty standard setup. But it never goes where you expect it to and like the best noir, you're not so sure you wanna go with it. Stark and dark but there's beauty here too. Get Carter is about as beautiful as you're gonna see and hear in a revenge pic.

The words came from writer and artist, Ted Lewis (1940 - 1982) who wrote the book, Jack's Return Home, that the film is based on. Thanks to noir guy, Wallace Stroby, I learned of a 28 minute radio program on BBC4 (here) about Lewis and his very short life and career. The program is available on line for six more days. Sadly, Lewis's books are barely available at all (prices here) but BBC 4 presents the first radio episode of, Jack's Return Home tonight at 11:00 PM GMT / 6:00PM EST with the second episode to air at the same time on 4 September (here).

The exchange below between Caine and Ian Hendry as Eric Paice, is a good example of the poetry Lewis created. I suppose it helps that Caine, whose career was soaring, and Hendry, whose career was tanking, didn't like each other. But it was Ted Lewis that gave 'em the poetry.

27 August 2012

Style Council: Nautical Flag Trousers

Nautical Flag Trousers - Two days left to bid here on eBay

I could fit in these -- Maybe 10 years ago. Even then, barely. I was thinking of buying 'em anyway. Just so I could look at 'em in the closet. No bids so far. If you're a 34"/30", you'd be crazy not to. Update: Nautical Trou make $169.50 via eight bids.

Of course, if Paul Weller could do this video in the '80s, you could certainly wear these pants. No matter, uh...what you do.

24 August 2012

"Screams from the meat wagon..."

Lincolnville Historical District, St Augustine, FL, 1980

During college I'd ride weekend nights with a couple buddies who were still with the sheriffs department. I'm not sure if I was just bored or if I thought it was a viable career. I brought my Olympus OM-1 with bulk loaded Tri-X for a photography independent study. I failed. I think it was because of my captions. I remember, "Screams from the meat wagon pierced the night." I'm not making that mistake again.

County Jail

County Jail, Winter, 1981

He allegedly murdered his wife in front of their five year old daughter. In that county, crime is the family silver passed down generation to generation. Always linked to drugs. Cocaine and heroin then. Meth today. Mention a family name at an oyster roast and heads will shake followed by stories of petty theft, burglary, assault... Cursed, if you believe in that sortta thing...and I do.

I'm still disturbed by the images of this man. He's a symbol of what can't be saved. Born to parents hanging on by the skin of their teeth. His daughter is 36 now. You wonder, then slam that door shut. It's an exhausting circle of round and round.

23 August 2012

Couples: A Moment or A Life?

Bahamas, Fall, 2010

We pile ourselves
deep inside us.
And take a chance
that it's who we are.

22 August 2012

Snake Shot

Smith & Wesson Model 19, Spring 1976, St John's County, FL

There was a small pond circled by thin pines that screened us from passing traffic on I-95. Cpt Williams was leaning on the hood of his unmarked car when we pulled up on the rutted clay road. Another plain clothes deputy, a sergeant, sat in the car with his door open and listened to the radio for Williams.

No one but Williams and the county sheriff knew our names. Two recent graduates of the Police Standards course with long hair and who were, for the most part, unknown in the county. We'd hang out in bars, light up a joint under our table and wait to get thrown out.

We'd show up the next night and the bouncer who threw us out would call us crazy fucking bastards, apologize, 'cause he was just doing his job, and buy us a couple beers. We'd tell the bouncer we had some stuff to sell -- most of it stolen. Conversation would ensue and I learned at an early age that most criminals are amazingly stupid.

The sergeant stayed in the car while my partner and I reported to Williams. The three of us stood a couple feet from the cars. My partner was telling Williams we needed some more pot when I pushed my hands in my pockets and sheepishly looked out at the pond.

I saw what looked like a tree branch -- Except it was moving -- At us -- Fast. I pointed at it and Williams, being from the area, shouted, "Water Moccasin!" I drew the Model 19 from a rough suede holster clipped to the inside of the back of my jeans, aimed and fired once. The snake disappeared... along with my hearing.

I heard Williams yell, "HO-LY SHIT!" over the ringing in my ears. "What the hell load you got in that thing?" Looking out at the pond for the snake, I turn to Williams, "158 grain, semi jacketed, 357 hollow point," and add, "Did I hit it?" Williams slaps me on the back, "You didn't hit it but you probably gave it a fucking heart attack."

Lesson learned: Snake shot. First two rounds in every deputy's wheel gun -- back in the day.

21 August 2012

Where Have all The Floppy Tennis Hats Gone?

I bought this hat in Bermuda at least 15 years ago. Never wore it. Too big despite its claim of S/M. I'm a 7 1/4, depending on the last visit to the barber shop.

I learned a trick in the park service for fixing hats that are too big. Fold a paper towel four or five times until it's about an inch wide and tuck under the sweat band. One in front and one in back. Over time the hat'll loosen up but just stick a couple new paper towels in and you're good to go.

The Floppy Tennis Hat is getting hard to find. There are bucket hats but they're not the same thing. For one, they don't have the green shade on the underside of the front brim. Secondly, they're just too hipster at present and I think the aesthetic is all wrong. Too little hat for the head, unless you wear a size 9 ... in which case you can use your hat to carry groceries home.

Then there's the floppy tennis hat with a domed top complete with that silly button on top. That's a big No-Go unless you're a 55 year old woman with frosted hair and pink nail polish who makes a killer G&T and plays in the Atlanta Peach League. The authentic Floppy Tennis Hat has be flat on top. That allows you to crush it and mold it and make the hat your own.

Some folks prefer the all white hat sans ribbon. Probably a good idea -- Unless it's a hat from Bermuda. It's an understated destination and it allows you to communicate your knowledge of, and desire for a Dark & Stormy. I'm not sure what you communicate with ribbon announcing,"Welcome to Vegas."

Those are my requirements. The Floppy Tennis Hat is as much at home on the court as it is on the streets of NYC... with a pair of Ray Bans. I know it's an advertisement for being over 40. What's wrong with that? Sometimes, I like to wear mine like Art Buchwald.

20 August 2012

Phyllis Diller & The Monica Lewinsky Joke

"Come again?"

"Monica Lewinsky. She's outta the news but she's still around. She went to the cleaners the other day, took a dress in and said, "I'd like my dress cleaned." He's hard of hearing and says, 'Come again?' She said, 'No, it's orange juice.' A-Haa -haa - haaa"

Phyllis Diller, The Aristocrats

Eff'ed Out of a Seat

St John's County, FL

The red station wagon was almost 15 years old the day it ran a stop sign on a narrow county road that followed the St. John's River northwest of St Augustine. Most of the homes on the river were mobile while the families living in them were not.

The sheriff's car idled under hanging Spanish moss and was unseen by the driver of the red wagon due to three gas pumps belonging to a Gulf station owned by a thick short man named Jimmy and his German Shepherd.

Behind the steering wheel Tanner complained how long it was taking to get dentures and how his wife enjoyed his lack of teeth when the red wagon rolled through the stop sign. Tanner slapped the column shift in drive with one hand and flicked on the lightbar with another.

Gravel shoots at gas pumps as tires grab asphalt and the Gran Fury pulls up fast behind the red wagon which pulls over immediately. Tanner parks behind the wagon with half a car width hanging out on the road and gums, "Take this one. I got my quota for the month."

The passenger door opens and a black corfam shoe settles into soft shoulder sand. Four more steps and it's on asphalt between the cars. A high rise holster unsnaps freeing the hammer of a four inch S&W Model 19 like it was a hand in a girl's blouse.

Three children, the oldest around 10, quietly stare at the sheriff's Plymouth from a rear rumble seat. Sam Brown leather squeaks between steps of corfam. Four more kids in the rear seat look straight ahead. High water Farah pants, t-shirted button downs and Sunday dresses do little to hide anxiety.

Behind the driver's door edge, Ray Bans are removed from under a green straw Stetson the sheriff forces his deputies to wear. The driver is black and in his 40s with salt and pepper hair. "You ran the stop sign back there." The driver cranes his neck to look back. "Yes sir, Sheriff."

"I'm not the sheriff. I'm the sheriff's deputy." The driver looks at the deputy's gold name tag above a matching Cross pen and pencil tucked into the white shirt pocket. "Yes sir, Deputy." The wife flicks open the glove box and roots through receipts, match books, brochures, while the driver leans toward a kid, four or five, sitting between them.

The driver pulls a hand made whipstich wallet from his back pocket and leans back toward his door pulling out his driver's license. 44 years old and six foot one, Mr LaSalle's wife, not without relief, hands her husband the registration. Taking the registration the deputy asks, "Mr LaSalle, are all these children yours?" LaSalle squints at the deputy, "Yes sir, Deputy. I've about fucked myself out of a seat."

The red wagon pulled away. The deputy returned to the air conditioned Gran Fury. He told Tanner what Mr LaSalle said. "That's a good one," laughed Tanner. "You let 'em go when they tell you something like that." I quit -- because most of 'em were not 'good ones' and, in the years since, I've learned there are many ways to fuck yourself out of a seat.

15 August 2012

I Don't Need This Pressure On...

Spandau Ballet

Before True...

I don't need this pressure on...

Passport Photo 1989

The Roof Gardens. Friday night. Chatting and chatted up while a white swan swims by. Champers. B&H Golds. Take the tie off while Totty Tay dances off. "You got a Corrado, mate?" Strobe lights on a bump friendly dance floor. More like grind friendly. What does legover mean? Hmmph? And then she told me. Three o'clock in the morning. Stand in line for coats. Lights are turned on. Outside feeble cold chills sweaty hair and I know... I'll never. Forget.

I hope they don't either.

13 August 2012


No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

"M" Cover Options by Alex Martin of powerHouse

I'm leaning towards No. 1. Which one do you like and why?

11 August 2012

A Lark

Summer, 1980, St Augustine, FL

To this day, she's why I don't like firemen.

10 August 2012

Oy, Limey, I'm a Gimlet but I need a Canuck

Back in 1867, Lauchlan Rose patents a lime cordial for the British Navy in hopes of cashing in on a regulation requiring all British ships to provide sailors with a daily lime ration to prevent Scurvy. It's discovered, one assumes by the Anchor-Krankers nicknamed, "Limeys," that this cordial, 'Rose's Lime' goes well with a little gin and a splash of water.

When my grandfather was offered a highball by Uncle Tony, a gin gimlet on the rocks was pretty much what he got. Not sure if I associated gimlets with my elders or not but it's a cocktail I have when I'm hanging out with the seniors. Usually at a Supper Club in Door County, Wisconsin with one of those big horse shoe shaped bars and an all you can eat Friday Fish Fry. They whip up a decent Whiskey Sour as well but that's another post.

Troops of the 21st Infantry Division Regiment were nicknamed, 'Gimlets' back in 1921 after a tool used to bore through rock for placing TNT. Their motto was, 'Bore, Bother Bore.' Alain Sitbon, owner of Le Petit Paris in Chicago, nicknamed me 'Pepper Grinder.' When I asked why, Alain held an imaginary pepper grinder in both hands and twisted his fist, "Because, Johnny, you never stop with the criticizing." Alain twists his pepper grinder, "You go on and on and on..."

A gin Gimlet can pack a punch. 3 ounces of gin to an ounce of Rose's Lime in a shaker. A cup of ice, shake, until you think your gonna get frost bite, and strain into a martini glass. Some people garnish with a lime or mint. I'd use more Rose's if I could convince a Canuck to send me a bottle or two. US made Rose's has fructose corn syrup and it's very sweet. Brits and Canadians use sugar. Cleaner and brighter which is pretty much what Brits and Canucks think of themselves.

I recently tried a Bacardi Gimlet. Rounder and smoother than gin. More character than vodka. Use the same portions as gin and try to find the connection between this post and yesterday's Lolo & The Bar-Kays. There's another giveaway and test question next week.

And, if you find yourself in Chicago, check out Le Petit Paris. Tell Alain 'Pepper Grinder' sent you...and ask him why he's always out of Montrachets, when he's gonna stop comping Jesse Jackson, why he took my picture down, where's the Dover Sole...

09 August 2012

Sound Track: Lolo & The Bar-Kays

1)Mute video above
2)Cue above to play at 4:33
3)Play video above
4)Play video below

Sometimes track just needs a soundtrack.

08 August 2012

Ice Cotton Give A Way for Africa Hot Days

I've spent time in some pretty hot places. Even Biloxi, where the aforementioned title reference, "Africa Hot" originates. I prefer heat over cold for the simple reason that cold, in all its toe numbing, eye tearing and frozen ear lobe misery, has always been something I take personally. While heat - - heat was just hanging around, had too many beers and got a little outta control.

It's been 'Africa Hot' everywhere this Summer and I'm guessing that in a couple years there's gonna be palm trees in Bangor. Smart guys are looking at the weather and investing in things like generator companies. Don't forget cultural shifts like soup makers for Baby Boomers with dentures and tattoo removers for their kids.

Back in Chicago, I knew a married couple who loved Winter camping and called each other, "Ice Hole." I'm not sure if that was affectionate or not. David Chu at Lincs has come up with a cotton to keep your body cool. I was pretty skeptical about "Ice Cotton" and thought it might be something cooked up by those two twin designing sisters, Polly and Esther. Actually, the stuff works.

I've field tested a shirt in harsh NYC Summer conditions for almost a month and I'm impressed. The off white polo has a placket trimmed in Infantry blue and will lower your temp by twenty degrees. More, if you count the people wearing black in the noon day sun. It's 100% cotton and will fit a man over 40 who might be packing another 20 pounds more than he needs. I recommend, from personal experience, that you wash in cold water and hang to dry. Less the shrinkage factor grace you with a 'Pugsley' silhouette.

Here's the free part. Last week I posted two films, The Pope of Greenwich Village and American Gigolo. Both films, while polar opposites, share an important crew member. The first reader who correctly identifies this crew member will receive three Ice Cotton Polo shirts compliments of Lincs. That's almost $200 worth of Ice Cotton. Post your answer in the comments section by 5:00PM on August 10th. Good luck and stay cool.

Contest Update as of 10:31 AM, 9 August 2012:
The Pope of Greenwich Village and American Gigolo shared the same Director of Photography, John Bailey. Well done, Tucker. You were first. Send your email address to, The.Trad@Yahoo.com, and I'll put you in touch with Lincs where they'll take care of your order.

06 August 2012

Trad GB

Fred Perry Classic White Shirt, BC (Before China)

It's great to see GB running third in medals. God love 'em. I always have. In college, I had this obsession for Fred Perry(BC). Mostly 'cause it was so hard to get. I considered myself lucky to have a couple Fred Perry wood racquets and a pair of wreath embossed tennis shoes. But shirts were expensive and hard to find in the states while the Fred Perry (BC) Holy Grail, a V neck sweater, was non-existent. A college friend lived in a suburb of London close to a Perry outlet. She'd take orders during Christmas and Summer breaks but I guess my Fiat was in the shop.

The wreath logo comes from the All England Club. Fred wanted a tobacco pipe but a wreath was suggested by his partner since he didn't think a pipe would be too popular with the ladies. Good call, that. You can read more at the Heritage section of the Perry site here.

My personal heritage with Perry goes back to 1980 when I first heard The Specials. "More Specials" was an album that seemed to come from outer space as much as the UK. Everything U.S. grown that year seemed so, Daryl Hall, John Oats, Billy Joel, Eddie Money...Not just white but Ohio white.

Not white, say like a Fred Perry shirt. Or better, that V neck sweater. As I sit here in my wheel chair, with a Hudson Bay blanket on my lap, dictating this to my Summer intern, I remember a college dorm room with Fred, The Specials and Rhoda Dakar. I'll cue the Thoren's turntable, crank up, 'I Can't Stand It' and blow off my Survey of English Lit class as I crawl back into bed. And this time, I won't have any guilt.

04 August 2012

Saturday Shorts: The Patron Saint of Porn


There's only one reason a young man gets rid of his porn. A short film by Bevan Walsh from Short Film Fests.com

03 August 2012

Tom Wait's Tribute

MC, Jonny Porkpie, A man so annoying - he has to take his hat off to pee

Mamie Minch and her tattoo, author of, The Razorburn Blues

Don't remember who this was - too many tattoos

Who at my table stays up late enough for Letterman?

I can't remember who this was either...

I have no idea who this is or what it was about

The nicely dressed boys that are NICKCASEY

Lee Chappell sings "Shiver Me Timbers" for the military brats

The Burlesque Act shivered her timbers

On the rare occasion I'm out late in NYC, I can't help but wonder two things.

1) Where in the hell did all these people come from?

2) What in the hell are they doing out so late?

Last night City Winery hosted, "The Piano Has Been Drinking - A Bespoke Tribute to Tom Waits." It was the one year anniversary of a Bespoke series held at the Rum House at the Edison Hotel on 47th Street. As an aside, the hotel bar at the Edison looks like it was designed by Tom Waits.

Best pal and Tom Wait's cognoscenti, Wallace Stroby threw tickets my way since he was gonna be out of town. The tickets still don't cover the Riedel Burgundy stem he broke and a 2000 La Spinetta Barolo he hoovered -- But, fortunately, I'm above being a petty... Did I mention it was a a 2000 LA SPINETTA BAROLO?

Anyway, the whole 1940's swing thing comes across, to me as crude and not surprisingly, very California. Greased hair, pencil thin mustaches and closed vent suits with ties ending four inches above the waist are all hallmarks of the look. In short, it's a kitschy costume. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm a live and let live kind'a guy. I don't prowl '40s apparel forums and post comments like, "Dude, you look like a gas station attendant in that rig." I'm above petty prejudices. Mostly. I was impressed last night with the JC Hopkins Biggish Band, a regular at the Rum House, and many of his guest performers.

The night was pure Waits in all its gritty, drunk, burlesque, booze soaked-ashtray glory. Although, Tom quit drinking years ago and you can't smoke anywhere anymore but you get the gist. People came out with un-lit tobacco products and pretended to be drunk...sort'a like Civil War re-enactors or swing dancers.

Still, beneath the surface there was amazing talent with glorious stage presence. Like I said, I don't get out much and, to be honest, haven't seen Letterman in 10 years, so please temper my gushing for Mamie Minch, a sexy, no bullshit, sharp witted broad who absentmindedly (or not) pulls her dress up to her thighs while she sings. She plays guitar in the style of Rev. Davis and has written, Razorburn Blues, a woman's version of my blues song, "I Got The White-Boy-My-Closet-is-as-Small-as-a-Matchbox-Blues."

NICKCASEY is a Brooklyn duo who cranked it out loud and hard. I like their performance at City Winery but am not so sure of the performance on their web site. They're young and they probably watch Letterman all the time. They were also nicely dressed and my grandmother would tell you that counts.

JC Hopkins (sounds like a car parts catalog) was also nicely dressed while channeling a little Mark McNairy, just-out-of-bed-forgot-to-comb-my-hair steez. I loved his Biggish Band and while I'm sure he gets a lot Swing requests, I was happy the entire evening was devoted to Tom Waits.

My biggest problem of the night and, what will keep me away from the Rum House despite my curiosity, was the MC who goes by, Jonny Porkpie. 'Porkpie' doesn't dress so nicely and if his objective was to emulate the annoying assholes who worked as MCs in the strip joints and burlesque shows of days gone by... Well, he knocked the cover off the ball. Named for the hat he always wears, I'm sure he has to take it off in order to pee.