VISVIM: I like it but I have questions


304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

Visvim was founded by Hiroki Nakamura, a former designer for Burton.

The brand has several locations in Japan and is primarily carried by other stockists in the States.

They produce design forward clothing mixing together traditional Japanese, streetstyle, and Americana aesthetics.

It is artist designed, craftsman made, expensive, and cool.


I asked the person working there if she knew anything about the lining of this Kiyari Jacket.

She replied that it is an original work by the designer.

I asked if she knew anything about the events depicted in the art and she replied that she believes it is historically inspired but wasn’t sure.

Now I’m a little uncomfortable.

The most common source of this sort of art were Native American prisoners of war in the 1870s. With access to paper, via things like ledger books, and time, many of these captives recorded historical events, battles and individual exploits. The drawings were perhaps a little more storytelling than artwork, which adds an extra level to my disappointment that the salesperson didn’t know the story.

It made me wonder if the designer knows the stories.

Appropriation isn’t really a difficult thing to suss out in a strictly American context, with our well established exploitative power dynamics and history, but it becomes a bit more complex when the person doing a “thing” that isn’t their own, isn’t American and doesn’t carry the same baggage.

So I have questions more than I have conclusions or statements.

Jeff is the Hero We Need: Jeff’s Table and the Oy Bar

I don’t know all the stuff about Jeff, his story, his restaurant (s), or about many things at all, but what I do know is a sandwich.

Jeff is a certified sandwich genius. officially. Actual genius in sandwichology.

Jeffs Table

5900 N. Figueroa St.

The Brohammas Institute of Bread Encased Hand Foods has been evaluating sandwiches for decades and while I should be humble in many things, I am unapologetically confident in my expertise on casual overeating.

Jeff. Is. A. Genius!

Jeff’s Table is a small sandwich kitchen in the very back of a Highland Park liquor store. I don’t get the impression that it is tucked back there in an effort to be cool or exclusive (the reverse speakeasy thing) but rather because the kitchen was available. or affordable. Whatever.

I first found the place while taking a meeting at Occidental and Google told me there was a place nearby whose name was a pun on a highbrow food documentary.

The first thing I saw on the menu was called the “Hot Kim-Cheezy” Thin-sliced smoked pork-shoulder ham, house-made kimchi, melted smoky cheese, with salted plum mustard, aioli & chili oil on butter-griddled sammie roll.


Then also, the “Dirty Baby”. Chopped turkey, melted toma, smoked cheddar, crispy shallots, and pickled onions on a grilled challah.

Some food you try, and then have to think and discern. This food instantly explodes your taste buds and you die a happy death after which you ascend to food heaven.

The only drawback with Jeff’s Table is that seating outside can be competitive and my car doesn’t have the best ambiance. Luckily for me, Jeff is a genius, and as such, he has a solution. The Oy Bar.

I do not drink so the cocktails he creates can be evaluated by someone else.The atmosphere is a mix of casual yet “nice”, but the burger…

Toma, hoisin ketchup, lettuce, red onion, cilantro, cucumber, dijon, and a sesame bun.

I was unsure about the cucumber and that is why I am not the chef. Jeff. Jeff is the chef and above all else, the reason to visit either place is the food, each meal made intentionally by someone who wants to make it, but also (I always have an also) Jeff will come say hi. To anyone. He knows all the famous people, or at least they know, and love, him, and even if you are inconsequential as I, he will convince you that he likes you. He will make you feel at home. He will make you feel like he is glad you showed up, not just glad you hand him some cash, but to eat what he made.

Harbour Surf

Harbour Surfshop

329 Main St. Seal Beach, CA

Harbour makes the claim that their Seal Beach shop is the world’s oldest continually operating board manufacturing location.

Rich Harbour, the name behind the brand, started shaping boards back in 1959 so no matter the validity of their historical claim, they play a major role in California surf history.

Today the shop has artifacts scattered around the walls, on shelves, and hanging from the ceiling. It also has new boards on the racks, being shaped in the back, and available online. The place is not a museum but a functioning shop.

It is crowded with tourists and surfers, the two not being mutually exclusive, parking is tight, but you should visit.

Mollusk Surf Shop: Venice Beach

Mollusk Venice

1600 Pacific Ave

There are three Mollusk shops, Venice, santa Barbara, and the original in San Francisco.

They are all pretty much the same look, same stock, and same vibe, but without feeling contrived or templated.

At least not compared to the big chains or the more corporate shops with posters of sponsored riders on the walls.

This place has a weird octagonal clubhouse high up on one wall and the other wall is painted with some sort of stylized lion that is drawn to look crude but not exactly childish.

The pallet is all light wood, tan, and muted tones- which did make me wonder a little bit if this place was made for surfers or the sort of suburban instagram mom who wears tall leather boots a chunky poncho and broad brimmed hat while out grabbing a Starbucks.

I would say that woman would fit in here visually, but I don’t care because those Danny Hess surfboards are works of art.

Sid Mashburn

Sid Mashburn

1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta

Sid Mashburn the brand started as Sid Mashburn the shop, in Atlanta.

While that may be true of the brand name as a business, perhaps it helps one understand the sort of look Sid Mashburn creates if the CV of Sid Mashburn the man is explained.

Mashburn has been a designer for J. Crew, then a designer for Polo, then Tommy Hilfiger, and then on to Land’s End. He has been at, which I would say then makes him, the “who’s who” of preppy or trad menswear.

My experience in person is that those who work the shop in Atlanta are welcoming and inviting to both visitors and customers. I was just a visitor but would love to be the other.

Ralph Lauren, Chicago

Ralph Lauren

750 Michigan Ave, Chicago

The Michigan Avenue Ralph Lauren location is not in a mall, or a historical mansion, it was built to be exactly what it is; a Ralph Lauren wonderland.

Ralph and his portfolio of brands has always been a movie set version of American style and this venue takes a bit of this imaginary world and makes it tangible.

Every inch, and there are millions of inches, is packed with well curated images and items that form the world in which these clothes were intended to be worn.



608 Imperial St.

I stood in line for 30 minutes to go inside a small retail space full of t shirts and hoodies.

I stood there because my 18 year old daughter, who knows what’s cool these days much better than I ever did, wanted too. I don’t get it, but she does.

In high school, a very long time ago, I had a Stussy T. It was tan with a black fleur de lis in the back.

I bought it at the mall.

American Rag Cie

American Rag Cie

150 S. La Brea Ave.

American Rag has been called the greatest denim store on Earth. I can’t make that call, but I can say it is cool.

Seriously cool.

Denim aside, the place has a fantastic mix of all sorts of other things. There are rows and racks of second hand items, new lines of outerwear, pretty much anything that isn’t formal.

Anywhere West Coast that carries Brooklyn Circus, might in fact be the best.

For people like me, who have a budget, or perhaps just appreciate the “one-offs”, there is a second location just down the street that is much more curated thrift store than high end vintage.

And it is still cool.

Hobie Surf Shop


34174 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point

Hobie opened their first surf shop in 1954, claiming to be the first in Southern California.

Hobie Alter had long been making surfboards in his garage, but with this new dedicated location Hobie the man, and the brand, stepped things up.

Hobie played a major role in not just shaping boards, but in the many ways the boards themselves shaped surf culture. Hobie helped pioneer the transition from balsa wood to foam and had a hand in shifting surfing from a local culture to a global image.

Much of how the world views California, is just a reflection of Hobie.

At the Dana Point shop you can watch a board being shaped and stand browse the history hanging from the rafters… then buy a Burton shacket and a pair of Quicksilver shorts.