Tag Archives: brohammas

Monkey Suit: because its summer

My niece is getting married this summer. I’ve never met the guy. She’s a smart girl so I’m sure he’s great but I’m not so sure about all of this. I am however sure that he has nothing to do with the point of this post so right at the beginning, I’ve already digressed. Typical.

The point is that the reception is outside. Summer wedding outside; what to wear?montgomerymeninsuits

My family is not a formal bunch by anyone’s measure. We may be a little better put together than those with whom we associated coming up, but that bar can’t get any lower. So really, the only one who will care at all what I wear- is me. But I do care. I think we have gone over this before. I may be digressing again.

It must be a suit. I know it’s summer and outside, but it’s a wedding for heaven’s sake. And yes, wear the jacket. The fact that I even felt I had to justify that statement shows just how low that bar is set.

My closet is always just a tad deficient, and I may not be in a position to fix that right now, but in the spirit of weddings and love, allow me to dream just a little.SUIT_Cotton_Linen_Whipcord_Grey_003

I said a “little” so I’m not going to go all bespoke here, but there is still room for reaching without reaching all the way to the stars. I’d be happy to reach for the laptop and order a suit from Bonobos.

Yup, the pants guys make suits.

I don’t just want a suit. I want a cotton/linen blend, lightweight, light colored, summer suit.SUIT_CottonLinen_Almond_Slim_Group_050_(2) (2)

I also want a light colored, slightly playful, but not too much, pocket square to add a little flair. Bonobos makes those too.PKTSQ_HudsonDot_Linen_Carnation_382

I actually made some myself out of a pair of Bonobos pants I owned that met an untimely demise due to rambunctious behavior and a can of paint.destroinside

I suggest you order them as pocket squares rather than pants. Cheaper that way. Less work too.

The rational side of me knows that as a Californian, such a suit could be worn year round. That adds value right?

Just remember, especially when wearing light colored suits; your tie should always be darker than your shirt, and it’s probably best to stick to light colored shirts the pocket square should not exactly match your tie. It can match your shirt, but not your tie.PKTSQ_AnchorWave_Linen_NavyBlazer_377

Come to think of it… 50 bucks says half of the guys won’t be wearing suits but will wear ties. So I think I’ll wear a suit but not a tie. Unless I wear it in my pocket as a pocket square.

New rule: your pocket square can match your tie if it is in fact, your tie.IMG_3463

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Mancation: Inception

I think maybe it was the phone calls.

I get a lot of phone calls but there are these certain types that after I hang up I just sort of stare off into space for a while. In my role in church I get told things that I then have to keep. I don’t get to talk about them, its kind of like confession. So I just sit there and stare while the phone call sinks into my soul like lead. I started getting a lot of those calls.worn out

“You should call your friends and go on a trip.”

I can’t really raise one eyebrow, but if I could, I would have.

We talked. I listened. No; I think I complained and she listened. It was decided I needed a vacation.

How does one vacation? No. Wrong way to think about this. What do I want to do? Right. Thats a better way to go about it. As I sit and think I am annoyed with the need to think and plan. Thinking and planning is what I need a vacation from. Forget it. Forget planning. I’m not planning this.

I sent a text to the guys. They were in, but they weren’t going to plan it either.

I soon realized that to travel without planning I would still need to plan a little. I emailed out a spreadsheet with the supply list: tent, cooler, a canoe, ya know, just the basics. Off to one side was a list of possible destinations: Leatherheads workshop, cheese farm, Root Soda bottling plant, somewhere up north not near anyone, just the basics. Then, up top, I wrote out some ground rules:

No internet

No hotel/motel

No more than one purchased meal per day and only if it is specific to location (ie Maine lobster)

If we come upon a natural body of water 3+ feet deep, we must swim

If any of us almost die Dr. Chadwick must save them

And that was it.load up

Early Thursday morning I drove over the bridge to the Dr.s house and shortly thereafter the were-bear (half man half bear) arrived. kaleo taking pictures

The Kala Beverages boys were back together. We loaded up the rented Xterra and pointed north.

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2002 Olympics: Why the Word Brohammas.

Once upon a time, when I was in college, there was a ski resort with a $10 half day pass. It only took 20 minutes to get from my door to the lift. This combination of affordability and accessibility were the perfect combination for poor academic performance. It did however lead to great back-country board performance. Sadly there is no listing for back country on my transcript.
bowboardtreescopy

Several years later, still an undergrad, the roommate of a friend says, “dude!” because that was how we talked, “I need some help at work, do you want a job?”

That was how my friend and I became the managers of the official ticketing center for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics.
olyparadeThis job consisted of my friend and I managing the staff of a box office, saying “no” to angry scalpers or tourists who bought fake tickets, and sitting in the back room with a schedule of events and this magic box that printed out legit tickets to any and all of the Olympic events.
olybiff

Our conversations went a lot like this: “Dude, one of us has to be here during business hours so lets each list what events we want to see and plan this out. Okay, so hockey is on Thursday, dude, why would anyone want to watch curling, wait… Dude I told you before no refunds! I know they said they flew here all the way from Denmark just to see curling but if they bought their tickets on Ebay there is no way we can guarantee them… Where were we?”
olykick

Speaking of Ebay, we all reported to a large warehouse to get our official uniforms. They were color coded by role, one color for volunteers, another for officials, another for employees. My list said our color was mountain blue. When I received my mountain blue coat I said, “Dude, this is purple! I ain’t wearing a purple ski jacket.” Some guy in Atlanta had no qualms with a purple ski coat and paid me $500 cash via Ebay.

We each thought the other a sucker. I used my cash to buy a Dale of Norway commemorative sweater. Dale thinks I’m a sucker.
olymedals

I scored two tickets to the opening ceremony. Fifty yard line, about half way up, sweet. I rushed triumphantly home to my beautiful bride, because I had a wife already but still no degree, and presented to her my glorious prize. “Uh… there is no way I’m going to that.” was her simple reply. The words did not register. I repeated again, slower this time, what exactly I had just presented.

Same reply.

“Why?”

“It is winter. It is outside. I-HATE- Cold!”

I called her co workers and anyone else she wasn’t married to and they convinced her that wearing three of my boarding outfits at once may just fend off the elements enough for her to enjoy a once in a lifetime event. She listened to people, most anyone, who was not me.

She is wise.
olyNellyFurtado

Having conquered cold the two of us commenced to conquering the nightly medal ceremonies followed by live music. We watched Dave Mathews, Nelly Furtado gave me a rose, and being unable to convince the Mrs. to leave the N’Sync concert early; I walked home five miles, uphill, at night, in February, alone. She drove home once Justin Timberlake had satisfied the roaring crowd of 12 year old girls.
olyus

I went down to the basement the other day and pulled the old board out of its bag. The edges are rusted out and the foam around my goggles has turned to dust. These days we rarely brave the cold for a concert and I say dude far less than I once did.

Little is left of those years other than some photos, a line on my resume’, and till the other day, my gloves. I just got a text from Boston saying they had found my glove under the seat of the car. Glove. Singular. Now it seams the only thing left of those powder filled years, is the name of this blog.

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Bang! and Reason Joins Civility Six Feet Under

I do not recall the first time I shot a gun. It was that long ago. I was that young. Shooting was always just part of my life. We were mostly, but not exclusively, a black powder family.20130110-111405.jpg

I recall two muzzle loaders kept in sleeves in the back of Dad’s closet, I’m guessing the 30.06 was back there too. There was also a child’s sized rifle kept under their bed. This was the one I remember best. Not because it fit my shoulder better but because its dark cherry stalk was beautiful. It also had a tendency to just go to half-cock rather than firing when you pulled the trigger. It exposed me as a horrible flincher. For a while there was a flint-lock pistol that lived in the gun chest, the chest filled with led balls, canisters of powder, and ripped up cotton patches. I hated the sulfur smell when we sat in the kitchen swabbing out barrels and wiping them down with oil. I fancied myself a good shot.20130110-111415.jpg

I can still hear Dad’s humorless voice ordering me to keep my finger away from the trigger unless I plan to fire, never under any circumstances point the barrel towards another person, and don’t dry-fire, even if you have already inspected the chamber. Always set up the range toward the side of a hill, inspect it for metal or other rick-o-shay hazards, and wear ear protection. These were all non-negotiable. Guns are tools not toys.

Venison was our winter staple. The family got three “tags” every season. Dad got a buck permit for the regular hunt, then grandma and mom each got a doe permit for the black powder hunt. Dad used all three, the doe permits were to make sure we would have something to eat, the buck permit was in hopes of getting the “big one.” Sitting still in the snow with my father is where and when I learned you don’t always have to talk. It is okay to just sit there. It is also the first time I threw a rock at a bull moose in hopes it would go away.marksman

The guys and I used to drive out to the west desert on Saturdays. Most all of them carried semi-auto .22s, except Trevor and I. I used a .22/.20 over under shotgun, Trevor brought a Mak10. That thing never hit a rabbit but it was very fun to fire. I’m pretty sure that out of the ten of us who went out regularly, I was the only one to ever hit anything. A rabbit would pop out and make a break for it, and despite all the noise, it would just zig zag off into the distance. I remember walking next to Mitch. As he was emptying his magazine I calmly lifted the shotgun to my shoulder and and squoze. “I think it was me who got that one,” he would say time after time. I would just nod and pump the empty out of the chamber.

The first time I heard a bullet in flight. Jimmy Cowley was about thirty yards to my left, my dad about thirty yards to my right, and the rabbit popped out of the sage about thirty yards to my front. Jimmy had a semi-automatic .22 with a forty round clip and he opened fire on the mangy jack rabbit. Rather than running away, it ran right for me. Jimmy was not looking at me, he was looking down the barrel toward the rabbit. He kept pulling the trigger as the rabbit ran between us and by the time he and I realized what had just happened, my father’s barrel was pointing at Jimmy. We were both about 12.

The second time I heard a bullet in flight was while riding a bike in Atlanta. My missionary companion and I were pedaling down the street when I heard a whiz then a slap against the wall behind me. The two of us froze in place while people scattered in all directions. A teenage girl ran by with her coat pulled up over her head.  I saw a man crouched behind a half wall with a silver revolver in hand. From somewhere else I heard the “pop—-pop–pop.pop.pop” of return fire. We turned the corner and just kept going.

Most all of us “inner-city” missionaries had tape recordings of machine gun fire made on the fourth of July. I never knew people fired guns on the fourth till my downstairs neighbors made it obvious. His was obviously a shotgun.

We were already married before my wife ever fired a gun. Under close supervision she shot a beautiful Smith & Wesson chrome revolver at a dirt clod. She pulled the trigger, handed me the pistol, and walked away shaking. She says she was unprepared for how violent it was. She has no desire to ever fire one again.

We don’t keep a gun in our house. I would love too. I miss that part of my life but not enough to make my wife uncomfortable in her own home. I suppose she could learn to get comfortable but that isn’t on her to-do list. I guess there is some irony in that I lived in a house full of guns in one of the safest neighborhoods in America, but lack firearms now that I live in one of the most dangerous. Maybe it is ironic, but it is exactly this situation that has taught me a few things.

Safety and rights are relative.

One of the major hurdles Martin Luther King Jr., SNCC, and other non-violent civil rights organizers faced was convincing the general Black population to put away their guns. For Black people in the rural south the danger of a lynch party showing up on your doorstep, often led by local authorities, was very real. Most every home had a shotgun behind the door as a Black family’s only possible defense. The courts and local laws would not help them. Non-violence was not only a public relations victory, but a daily life miracle of self restraint on the part of an oppressed people.

The net result of these people’s 2nd amendment restraint was the passing of civil rights legislation and the assassination of MLK.NRA

On the other side of the country, and the tactical spectrum, other Black people took the opposite tact and began carrying guns out in the open. The White establishment would have none of this. The self destruction and implosion of the Black Panther Party has made most of us forget that these were not just a bunch of leather clad fools. The Panthers not only organized a militia and bore arms but crafted a constitutional argument defending their right to do so. The idea that the only thing that would stop a bad guy with a gun was a good guy with a gun, was preached by the Panthers. They also happened to believe that a large majority of the bad guys were wearing badges and the good guys were wearing black berets. And really, if one looks at things through the historical lens of a Black American… they had a lot of evidence to prove their point. The Panther’s guns were confiscated. The NRA did not defend them.1streetmemorial

Skipping forward to today, most of the Black people I know want guns gone. Gone from the streets, gone from their homes, just gone. I sit in church and listen as month after month someone from the congregation will stand up and tell of someone they love who has been shot, or about when they themselves were hit by flying bullets. I have yet to hear one of these people stand up and pray for more firepower.girlmemorial

My Facebook feed is alive with memes and sound bites taking this position or that on gun control. The newspaper and radio give arguments for restricting guns or arming more citizens. I have seen dozens of stories praising gun owners who have shot intruders in the act of invading their homes. I have also followed a story of man licensed to carry a concealed gun who shot and killed an unarmed kid who was walking home from the convenience store. Where I grew up Elementary school teachers are being taught how to use guns to defend their classroom. Where I live now, a police task force is going to trial for running its own citywide drug ring. A couple of years ago a cop in my neighborhood got drunk, got angry at some noisy kids, went inside to get his gun and killed someone.irishflagmemorial

I hear and read a lot of arguments, not normally about what to do, but about how the other side is stupid. I talk to people on both sides but I get the feeling they don’t really talk to each other. How does this help? Every kid I know in the city can get their hands on a gun if they want one. Many see guns even when they are trying not too. Would more guns really make these kids safer?

Do I think I have a right to own a gun? Yes I do.

Do I want everyone to own a gun? No I do not. I know plenty of people that would terrify me if they were armed. I know other perfectly law abiding people that I would not trust with a gun in a million years.streetmemorial

I’ll tell every bad guy out there right now, odds are, if you break into my home I will not shoot you.

I do not care how bad you are, I do not think my TV is worth your life.

If my wife were to ever relent and let me keep a gun in the house, it would be unloaded and locked away some place making it impossible to be of any use in the event some burglar comes a prowling. This is because I know I can only control certain things in my life and will do everything in my power to make sure no one accidentally, or intentionally, kills someone with a gun I own. But I can only control so much.

I can’t control others who may wish me harm, just like I can’t control an out of control car coming my way.

But I can do my best. I register my car. I get my car inspected for safety every year and get my picture taken at the DMV. I can keep my home gun free to keep my wife happy but mostly because there are no deer or rabbits anywhere near my door.shootingdalyn

Lets go ahead and disagree. If you can show me where I am wrong, please help me out. If I think you are wrong maybe I should try to find a way to effectively communicate why. But please, lets do so in hopes of making things better, not in the name of proving a point. Comparing your apples to another person’s oranges does not make things better. Claiming to know what the other side “really” means or what their ulterior motives are is equally unproductive. Realize that for many people, mostly for the victims of violence, this is not a philosophical discussion. It is real life. It is too often real death.

One of my favorite memories from youth, one I fall back too when I’m feeling old and nostalgic, was the day Jake and I spent at the gun club. It was just the two of us, a .12 gauge, and about ten dozen clay pigeons. I don’t remember any real conversation, and I may have separated my shoulder, but I know I was happy that day. It was a good day, but not the only way to have one.

How do we ensure more good days for everyone?

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Penn State

They call the place happy valley, though it has not been so much that this year. As I drove over the hills my mind drifted to my Alma Mater’s book store which sells T-Shirts that read “Not Penn State”; then I saw this.

Then right after that I saw this.

That explains everything. Maybe the football program is divinely inspired (the sport itself is in fact divinely inspired. There is no room for argument on this) and should be protected at all costs? yeah, no.

The sadness in the whole series of events is that Penn State is first rate in so many other things. Granted the campus did not awe me, I have no deep love for gargantuan straight lined building that scream 1972.

But if you are a scientist or educator, or aspire to be one.. or aspire to being so many other things, it is by all accounts a top shelf school.

But sadly, over the past decade or so, if you happened to be an underprivileged young boy, the school was willing to sacrifice your youth and peace of mind to protect a revenue stream.

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Nutcracker 1776

Tickets are a bit steep but what do you do when the ticket is to see your own kid? What we did was buy one ticket with which the Mrs. saw the first half, then we switched at intermission.pinkballerinaWhen the lights began to dim I found my seat and sat down. The woman next to me looked over and remarked, “you don’t look like the woman who was here before.”

“Yes. She looks much better than I do. She’s my wife.”

“Not better; just different.”

I think I like this lady.crossI have seen the schools Nutcracker before but it still amazes me that it is more or less a high school production.

When the Sugarplum Fairy danced onto stage the excited woman on the other side of me proudly whispered, “that’s my daughter!”

She’s very good. The mother asked which one was mine. “O, she is little. Does she like ballet?”

“She loves it.”

“I am soooo sorry,” she said in all seriousness. “We moved here from Oregon for my daughter to go to this school.”littlemakAs I watched my girl all done up in lipstick and blush, bun pulled back tight, I wonder if there will come a moment when this all ends. Will she decide she is done? Perhaps my budget will crush her dream, or maybe a stone faced instructor will one day have to tell her that her skill has taken her as far as she can go and that its over.nut2012

But none of those times are now. Now is all smiles and this strange soft, mushy feeling I get when I see her stand with straight back and elongated neck on stage. I love the wide eyed excitement in her face when she tells me all about how the little kid she was in charge of is a hand full and how she got to be in the front row and how there is an after party and can we please, please, please go?

My fear of tomorrow can wait till then.

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Dr. Fisher I Presume?

Dr. Fisher is the sort of man who would become lost in Africa, only to turn up in ten unexpected places all at once. I met him when he turned up in Philadelphia for a residency in radiation oncology.

Dr. Fisher in purple tie, likely contemplating Thoreau.

I got to know him when we worked together mentoring a group of young men. He was young, slim, and came off as quiet to the point of being non-communicative. He had this magical ability to either have slightly shaggy, longish, hair or a buzz cut, never in between. I saw him mostly at church on Sundays where he would normally wear a white shirt, tie, and khakis rarely ironed but all were always well fitted.

I recall once seeing him wearing the skinniest tie I had ever seen. As I shook his hand hello he just smiled slightly and continued on his way. As he walked away I realized it was a draw string tied in a full Windsor around his neck. Neither of us ever mentioned the draw string. He rarely mentions anything.

It is natural to assume that those who don’t mention things have nothing to talk about. I guess many made this mistake with Dr. Fisher.

The first time my family ate at his home I noticed a sculpture in the entryway. It was a figure with an up stretched arm and clenched fist, the head had short hair in knots about his scalp. The entire figure was greyish, made of hard straight lines, and looked much like a three dimensional figure pulled from La Guernica. There was a poem hand written down the arm and onto the torso. In his living room was a painting or rather a mixed media collage of two people, trees, and text, another of more trees, both by him. They were good. Positioned in one corner of the room was an upright cannon barrel with a bright red bowling ball perched on top.

I have admittedly not spent time in the homes of many doctors but this was obviously the home of an artist.

Argentina


Dr. Fisher spent a summer living in a VW bus after high school. He can recite lengthy Thoreau poems on demand. And he cures cancer.

on Mt. Ranier


A couple years ago he started a non-profit called “Radiating Hope.” It is a partnership program that raises money to send used radiation machines to third world countries. Turns out America replaces machines regularly with newer and better models.
Some nations don’t replace machines with new ones because they never had any to begin with.

in Panama


In fine Fisher fashion he doesn’t just “raise money”, that would be normal. He fund raises by climbing mountains. Big mountains. He has sights set on the seven summits.

at Drexel


I am writing this from an air conditioned/heated office, sitting in a padded chair, and I’m sure Dr. Fisher is busy doing something better. He is the sort of person who doesn’t just let things go. He acts. He acts while most of us just pose.

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Emory

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Hunting Season and Menswear as Punishment

Mom could always sew and her skill kept clothes on our back. Dad could hunt and his skill kept food on the table.

Them in 80′s. Not the 1880′s… the 1980′s.

She was making him a nice navy jacket. We called such clothing church clothes and Dad would look quite respectable in this piece. As she sat at the machine threading needles he went off to the woods with some friends.

As the tale gets retold, and knowing what I know of my father, I’m sure the hunting party’s staying out through Sunday was a surprise to dad. Perhaps a truck got stuck in the mud on Saturday forcing them to stay the night.

Mother suffered his lingering over the Sabbath in silence and finished father’s gift.

When the jacket was presented to Dad he found that the lining of the coat was hunter’s orange. It would be rude of him not to wear it and when on, no one could see the blinding insides. But when sitting in the pews, if Dad felt the desire to put his arm around his wife, the Bishop behind the pulpit would get a fluorescent flash from Dad’s jacket reminding everyone of my father’s transgression.

Happy hunting everyone.

Them playing dress up.

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Rutgers: Queen’s College and the King of games

In 1766 Dutch reformers formed a college in New Jersey. It was called Queen’s college in honor of Charlotte of Mechlenburg. Some time after the revolution the name was changed to Rutgers in honor of a revolutionary war hero.

The college became New Jersey’s land-grant college in 1864. Of the colleges founded before our country’s constitution was written, only Rutgers and WIlliam and Mary are now state schools.

But none of this is what you should really know about Rutgers. What you should know is that Rutgers is responsible for the bloody lip I got this Thanksgiving morning.

The Turkey bowl started at 9am. 30 or so folks of all ages arrived at the field, including a continngent of teenaged boys wearing under armor and cleats. There was the usual complaininng that “I was open!!” despite being double covered, and an occasional complaint of pass interferance any time there was an interception. The teenage competativeness was for the most part balanced out by fat old men and their 8 year old children.

Except for that one kid who decided to be an all-star at defensive line.

You can spot these kinds of kids at any touch football game as soon as they get in a three point stance. Three alligators were for the most part enough to give the QB some time and we fat old men just sort of rolled our eyes when he would hit the afterburners at two and a half. When the man assigned to blocking him had to leave to run turkey day morning errands, I figured I would step in.

He blitzed on first down. His shoulders were low so I stepped back and let his high octane motor drive itself right into the ground. He did not like this. I was a little surprised when he blitzed again on second down, you only get one blitz per series. Learning from last down he tried to swim me. When his arm was raised above his head, I caught it, shoved hard, and watched as he spun around and fell over flat on his back. I was not surprised when he blitzed for the third time in a row. This time I just caught him directly and held my ground while he drove his feet to no avail.

By this time others took notice and started to ask the kid what his deal was. When the quarterback questioned his following the one blitz per down rule I just waived them off. I figured this kid was wound up and I was no longer bored.

When the game finally ended this kid had gotten zero sacks and I had somehow gotten a bloody lip. As I wiped off my face I realized my lip looked a little like Angelina Jolie, the kid was kneeling on the ground with his face in the grass. I asked him if he was okay and his only response was to stand up and give me a manly hug and then walk away never saying a word or looking me in the eye.

It was at this point I fully realized our mismatch. When he hugged me his head only came up to my chest, but still, take it easy kid.

On November 6th, 1869 on the field where this building now stands, was held the first college football game in history. Rutgers beat Princeton 6 to 4. Since that day the world has been a better place, bloody lips and all. Were it not for Rutgers Thanksgiving may have never had any association with the Detroit Lions.

Yes, that is a ridiculous sentence. Just as ridiculous as getting a bloody lip the morning of the best meal of the year.

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