March 24, 2010

Never Seen McQueen

In memory of Hollywood icon Steve McQueen, who would have turned 80 today, LIFE has released 20 never before seen photos from 1963 taken by photographer John Dominis.  Dominis spent 3 weeks with McQueen and his then wife, Neile Adams, in California between the releases of The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, capturing some truly amazing images.  Go check them out now.

March 18, 2010

Fess Parker R.I.P.

And that makes three...  My father knew him as Davy Crockett but I knew him as Daniel Boone.  Like so many others before my time, as a child I wore a coonskin cap (that I still have somewhere) and dreamed of being handy with a big knife because of him.
Fess Parker
August 16, 1924 - March 18, 2010

Peter Graves R.I.P.

I only just found out about this....

Peter Graves
March 18, 1926 - March 14, 2010

Alex Chilton R.I.P.

Alex Chilton
Dec 28, 1950 - March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

From The LIFE Archives: College Hoops

In consideration of March Madness I thought a college basketball related post would be appropriate so I dug through the Life Archives until I found what I thought worthy of the GSC.  Enjoy!

March 15, 2010

Open For Business: L.L. Bean Signature

Last fall L.L. Bean announced the vintage-leaning L.L. Bean Signature line for March of 2010 and subsequently launched a pretty forward-thinking PR campaign (complete with sneak peeks and limited edition pre-sales) to create a buzz so buzzing and a hype so hyped here in the blogosphere that nobody could possibly have lived up to it in my prediction.  Well today is the day and, after first glance, I'm surprised and happy to say that Bean has, in fact, lived up to the hype.  They've rolled out a line worthy of your dollar at prices that won't have you slapping the catalog down on the table in disgust while saying "Seriously? Who do they think they are?"  I found almost nothing in the men's category that I didn't like and my wife was more enthusiastic about the women's selection than I've ever seen her about something with the Bean name on it.  (She doesn't wear "mom clothes.")  Am I going to order anything?  Probably not.  Why?  Because I already pretty much dress this way.  But if I was going to do some shopping the below items would be in my cart:
Because J.Press won't sell it in stripes anymore.

This is one of several great madras options.


The belt loops are the details that sell these.

This is a classic.

A reissue. I got mine for 40 bucks last winter on ebay.

There is no escaping the Sperry.

This kind of stuff never gets old for me.

March 14, 2010

Now Playing: North Face

This true story of German mountaineers Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser and their 1936 attempt at the north face of the Eiger looks like something I'd want to see.  It's at The Belcourt here in Nashville all week (maybe longer.)  I don't want to go into detail about the story until after we've all seen it but here are a couple of photos:
Toni Kurz (left) and Andreas Hinterstoisser (right) in 1936

March 13, 2010

What I Did Last Weekend

Last Friday the wife and I stole away down south to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.  We'd been to Atlanta a few times before but never for a whole weekend and rarely without kids.  We stayed at the Omni Hotel, which is connected to the CNN center and overlooks Centennial Olympic Park.  It's not a quaint place by any means, but it's high on service and overall quality and the in-house Prime Meridian restaurant serves a pretty boss breakfast buffet.  Speaking of breakfast, Java Jive on Ponce-de-Leon is always on our itinerary when we are in the Dirty South.  Do yourself a favor and try the award-winning biscuits.  The Varsity is a must for anyone visiting Atlanta so we worked it in one evening but we had to have at least one nice dinner out.  Sarah of That's What She Said recommended Two Urban Licks so we went for it.  Pretty amazing fare, to say the least, although quiet conversation isn't an option at such a happening spot.  On the shopping front, we hit some vintage/thrift stores, the highlight being Lucky Exchange (I passed on two pairs of vintage madras pants) and we naturally migrated over to Atlantic Station for the chain establishments and a 3D showing of Alice in Wonderland (thumbs up.)  Nearly all of our final day was spent at IKEA, where we purchased as many cheaply made home wares as the minivan could carry.  All said, a splendid time was had and we likely won't wait another 10 years to do it again.

March 8, 2010

Roy Smeck: Wizard of the Strings

March 4, 2010

Weekend Escape Plan: Atlanta

Departing Friday with my bride of 10 years.

Plans include dining, shopping, thrifting, and all the IKEA that our vehicle will carry.

Expect a full report upon my return.

March 2, 2010

J. Press for Spring

The Trad/WASP/Preppy crowd (of which I consider myself a fair weather member) will be happy to know that venerable men's clothier J. Press released their new Spring line a few Fridays ago.  For those unfamiliar with the New England retailer, I offer a brief history:  In 1902, a nineteenth century immigrant named Jacobi Press began selling clothing in New Haven, CT on the campus of Yale University.  Over the subsequent decades, J. Press became known for the quintessential "Ivy League" look, even providing institution-specific goods such as scarves, buttons, and blazer crests from its locations near the campuses of Yale and Harvard.  Little changed over the years, even as trends generally became more casual and the Ivy League student body became less elite and more diversified; Pants were always flat front, shoulders were always natural, jackets were undarted 3/2 button sack style, and ties were repp stripes, regimental patterns, and madras plaids.  Signature flap pocket oxford cloth button-downs and tweed sport coats became a staple of the late-50s to mid-sixties Ivy look.  Even with the overall decline in menswear quality that the 1970s served up, J. Press continued in its tradition of tradition.  In 1986, the company was sold to Japanese holding company Onward Kashiyama but today the USA division continues to manufacture the majority of its offerings domestically.  J. Press still operates the New Haven and Cambridge, MA shops as well as stores in New York City and Washington, D.C.  (All web orders are processed through the New York store.)
Today, some would argue that J. Press has lost that something that made it...well...J. Press and arguably so.  Japanese ownership doesn't exactly scream "All American" and the quality vs price ratio has certainly suffered, regardless of the country of manufacture.  (I have personally experienced the inconvenience of stitching flaws on the seams of a Press shirt recently.  After a call and some shipping back and forth, I received a satisfactory replacement.)  True "natural" shoulders in jackets have become nearly impossible to find, even from the stalwart purveyors of traditional style.  And there's always that looming question of whether or not the "elite" look is still relevant in a time when elitism is seen as a social obstacle, an enemy of progress, a locked door in a country where not even walls should exist anymore.  Then again I'm not sure whether or not being relevant even matters.  But I know why I like J. Press:  They make clothes.  Clothes for men.  I don't wear J. Press to feel fashionable.  I wear it to feel well-dressed.  And sometimes I think America, for all her great strides, misses that.