Manly Men are and Have Been Dandies

… and for the record I own none of these images nor have I had a hand in their creation. They are just here to illustrate a point.

Dandy is not normally meant as a compliment when directed toward a man. It is considered calling the masculinity of the accused into question. I find this curious.DandyCutout

Maybe the man’s clothing show a little too much flair, a bit too fancy, overly decorated, maybe even froofy in the opinion of manliness police. Calling someone a dandy is often the same as, or at least overlapping with, soft, feminine… gay. Interesting.armor

Now in most cases, someone who would call another man a dandy- or metrosexual, or flamboyant, or prissy- in a derogatory way would also think gay to be bad. I have no intention of dealing with anyone’s opinion of homosexuality here, but I would like to address this curious connection with hetero normative masculinity and fancy clothes.custer-portrait

Clothing does not in fact make the man, or even make someone a man. I say this not to deny that humans signal or communicate when clothing themselves (very much the opposite), but rather to challenge what many think the messaging of frilly clothing means relating to hetero-normative masculinity.george-catlin-iowas

There is a stream of popular American culture that for some reason thinks decorated clothes, or colors such as pink, communicate femininity or weakness. This makes me chuckle. It makes me laugh not because anyone has accused me of dressing less manly (I don’t personally like flamboyant clothes or excessively decorated outfits), but rather because it is historically silly.Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Ever

This tends to be normal for anyone mocking someone else for not fitting some imagined standard. Most mockers are ignoring their own shortcomings, however they measure that standard.

Warriors throughout the ages and across many cultures, have exerted hetero masculinity, strength, and aggressiveness… as well as an abundance of feathers, ribbons, and makeup.samuraiWe kid ourselves that armor and military regalia is utilitarian. Plumes on helms deflect sword blows. A forged metal face plate is only for protection, or maybe a touch of intimidation. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Guys wear that stuff because they think it looks cool.hawaiian-tattoo-on-left-chest

Which is great because in most, or at least many, cases it does look cool… but also super fancy. Super decorated, just for looks, non utilitarian, fancy. I’m okay with this. I understand that such clothing tells me little, or likely nothing, about anyone’s orientation, strength, virility… but it does tell me quite a bit about their taste.Birdman-rapper

And I don’t need to have the same tastes as you. That is okay.mma-karma-elite-daily-800x400

I don’t have to be like you, or like you, but if I don’t (like you) my complaints should not be tied to your clothes.slide_308704_2702404_free

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Alibi Room: because your first time in a bar should be with your Mormon aunt and uncle.

It makes sense that if you are 21 and have never been inside a bar before, your first time would be with your Mormon aunt and uncle.

My niece is not a party girl, or a Mormon. She is a pastry chef. A foodie of sorts. So when she came to visit us we took her out for good food. At a bar. I knew what I was doing.IMG_2545

This particular bar’s kitchen is the only stationary location (of which I am aware) to find the fare of the famed Kogi BBQ food truck. Same food, but with seating.IMG_1010I have extolled their kimchi quesadilla before but today i must praise the chilaquiles.

Mole, scrambled eggs, and chicken.  Heaven on a fried tortilla.IMG_2499

I must say that ordering the Korean BBQ tacos, quesadilla and the  chilaquiles at the same time and trying to eat it yourself is way too much, it is oh so tasty and still surprisingly affordable. If you don’t count the costs of overeating.

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Bottega Louie

They serve food at Bottega Louie. I have seen it, but I cannot speak of it first hand. But fear not, millions of other people can, and have.IMG_2462Yelp has declared Bottega Louie as their most photographed restaurant ever. My Instagram feed believes that statement.
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While I saw sandwiches, the kind with bread and meaty things, I opted for the kind with sugar almond and chocolate. Upon reflection I have no regrets.
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No, that isn’t true. Given the budget and time I had for the day, I do not regret my decision but on a grander scale I definitely regret my budget and time constraints. I need to go back and eat more. And I need to eat everything. Then I need to go eat more of everything.
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High ceilings, high expectations, high brow; this place is all of those things and it lives up to what you would both hope and demand. I regularly doubt Los Angeles’s place in the pantheon of world cities. It has not completely (or at all) won me over to the idea that it belongs in the company of New York or Paris, but Bottega Louie is LA’s best argument yet.
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Wherever You are, Be There: on campus

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Tweed because one should never be above a stereotype, scarf because this is California and you have to capitalize on scarf opportunities (when it dips below 50 degrees), and surly look because you kid yourself that this balances out otherwise pretentious behavior.

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Traveler’s Rest

John Overton’s great great grandfather was a member of British Parliament. He did not come from humble beginnings. That being said he was not content to rest on the laurels of others and he spent his life as a mover and shaker in the founding of Nashville, one of the American South’s major cities.IMG_2090

Overton built his two story home in 1799. Well, he didn’t really build it, he had other people build it for him. By people, I mean slaves.

When we arrived at the plantation the woman in the gift shop told us they had an award winning exhibition on the slaves who lived at Traveler’s Rest. We bought our tickets.IMG_2064

The grounds are relatively well tended though not seriously landscaped. There is a white picket fence around the property enclosing in a series of buildings. The main house is a hodge-podge of wings added over time. Behind that are two smaller buildings, a smokehouse and building for spinning. The slavery display was on the second floor of the spinning shed.IMG_2066

The exhibit was mostly the names and approximate ages of the black people who are normally ignored at such places. It was very meaningful in that there has been an effort to get names and relationships recorded and displayed. But reading those names was sort of “meh” and even more it was sort of discouraging. I was reading about the slaves but I wasn’t standing in the buildings in which they lived. Those buildings are gone. The homes of black people are gone, but the smokehouse and spinning shed are still there and I was looking through a window at a giant house that these black people built.IMG_2087

The pamphlet explains that right before the battle of Nashville General Nathan Bedford Forrest slept in this house. The text made note of him as a confederate general, not as the founder of the KKK. But his name was  recorded and that was who he was.

The Overtons hung on to Traveler’s rest, and a surprising amount of their fortune, after the civil war and the location became well known for their stable of Arabian horses. the stables are no longer there. They came down after the family and the horses moved to California. When the location became a historical sight they did not rebuild the stables or the slave quarters. They did however build a large “barn” to host weddings and events.IMG_2089

 

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So Apparently Nashville is a Place

No, I don’t watch the TV show Nashville so forgive me for not knowing things, and shame on you if you think watching that show means you know things, but I was unprepared for Nashville. To say I was unenthused when I boarded the plane is being kind.

And then we landed.

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I expected some good BBQ and a bunch of twangy singers who wear the hats and boots but have never ridden a horse. What I got was a strident city that didn’t seem to be attempting coolness but was rather exerting its own coolness onto the world. Now admittedly Nashville’s brand of coolness was not exactly mine, if it could be argued that I have any at all, but I appreciate what it was doing. I see what ya did there Nashville.IMG_2103

Everywhere in Nashville is a honky tonk, and by honky tonk I mean a venue for aspiring musicians. The lobby of my hotel at 7am, the second floor dining room of a mostly abandoned bar at noon on a Tuesday, and the convention center ballroom on Thursday night, all venues for live music by people I have never heard of that sound better to me than anyone I ignore on American Idol.

I appreciate that.

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Then there was food. Upscale and down. Everywhere.IMG_2098

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I did find it amusing, and eventually sort of unsettling, that while sitting in a sidewalk dining area in the Gulch for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, we counted no less than six separate bridal parties, each group wearing their own matching outfits, be it pastel green t shirts or black and gold tanks. It felt like a sorority event, but it was weddings. It was a thing.

Also, this was a thing:

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And so was this:

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The History of Spring Break: I am an old man

For college kids spring break  is synonymous with sun baked debauchery. For parents of school aged children it is either an opportunity to take the kids and escape the cold, or the torturous task of a weeks worth of rearranged schedules and event planning. To what or to whom do we owe thanks?

Colgate University’s swim team.pool

 

In 1936 the Colgate swim team’s coach took his boys down to Fort Lauderdale to get a jump start on training in the Olympic sized Casino Pool. Now mind you back in those days Colgate was an all men’s, somewhat elite, possibly elitist school and that was a time when for the most part college was meant to prepare rich white kids to become rich white adults.

Part of becoming a rich white adult is meeting others likewise destined. Within a couple years this  Florida trip wasn’t a practice it was a meet (there is a pun in there).IMG_1661

This Florida swim meet/party became so notorious that one year a professor tagged along, wrote a book about it, and that book became the movie “Where the Boys are”. Twenty Five years later MTV was broadcasting unseemly things live from Daytona.

Ahh the decline and fall of the American empire.IMG_1677

I have my own tales of spring breaks passed, but none of them involve debauchery. They mostly involve taking the kids to the beach or Chuck E’ Cheese… but there was that one road trip to Rosarito.IMG_6077

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