My Best Friend’s Wedding

I didn’t really like that movie, but I loved the weekend. I loaded my bag full of intentions and text books, then boarded a plane.

Southwest Airlines cattle call

I met Riley when he was the quarterback at Utah State University and I was not. I met his then girlfriend, now wife, just a couple months ago when the two of them were passing through the big apple. I did not have to know her as long as I knew him to realize where things were headed. In describing their relationship he says, “I out-kicked my coverage.” For those unfamiliar to sports cliche’ this is a compliment to her, and Riley should know, because he was the best punting quarterback in NCAA history.

Riley Jensen, number 8 on the field, number 1 in our hearts.

It has been some time since I was in a wedding.  I think my own wedding, eleven years ago, was the last one in which more than a gift was expected from me. By “more” I simply mean I was expected to email in my tux measurements and show up. At least I showed up on time.

Let me say this; there could not have been a more inconvenient time on the calendar, other than the groom and his parent’s I didn’t really know anyone, and the entire weekend I was at the mercy of others as I didn’t rent a car. All that being said, I don’t recall an event I enjoyed more. Perhaps my joy for the couple was genuine. Perhaps the company was above par.


One time while on spring break in Mexico, Riley and I spent a night at various clubs in Tijuana. The next morning we returned to the private estate in Rosarito where a girl in our group expressed her dismay and concern that we had spent the night out with all those Mexicans. Without breaking stride Riley, gazing out to sea, remarked how all the dolphins we had seen offshore appeared lazy and dangerous… must be Mexican dolphins. He didn’t let her bigotry slide.

Riley is an international man of mystery... and a staple on KFAN sports radio.

Another time, during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Riley joined me and some of my extended family out for dinner. I realized I had failed to warn him about all the characters who would be present when one began a dramatic tale of what its like in France. It included things like “they are rude” and “in France bread is called baguettes.” I looked over at Riles who was eating with what looked like sincere, closed mouth interest.  Riley spent two years in France and holds a degree in French. He let it slide.

Not afraid to cry... or get sacked an NCAA record number of times.

This weekend included no such uncomfortable instances, just some new faces and some old stomping grounds.

I once spent three hours on the side of this road in January till rescued by a snow plow. Ahhh, good times.
and more cameras

I was of course not the only one excited for the occasion. For two days I sat, or stood, and watched as the woodwork produced crowds of people wishing to congratulate the couple. The two of them handled themselves well. If they were not happy to see every well wisher they deserve a team Oscar for the performance.

Which one gets the Oscar?
and again.

I have been to a number of matrimonial events, both Mormon and otherwise. Normally one is quite inebriated, and the other is rather staid. This one was dry till the dancing started at which point it got quite sweaty.

Boogie Down Productions
The traffic Cop in full effect

As the evening wound down I found myself in a de-assembly line of other groomsmen cleaning up after the party. While carrying a stack of folding chairs I looked over and saw the groom doing the same. Apparently he had no concept of the division between honoree and hired labor. He has always been that way. It is part of what makes him worthy of the honor.

Congratulations. I was proud to have been there.

The Verbosity of Swankiness, Rittenhouse Custom Clothiers

I posted previously to invite others to go where they had never gone before. Last night I took my own advice.

1616 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA

Before moving to Philadelphia I had never heard of the Main line. To this day I have never been to a real country club. Before last night I had never visited a custom clothier nor talked with anyone who actually lived in the Rittenhouse part of town.

I felt myself lucky not just to have been invited, but to have found street parking, thereby avoiding the high costs of the lot. I paused at the elevator to straighten my pocket square, these were people I was sure would notice such things and I was unsure how many little missteps would move me from not belonging, to being legitimately not welcome.

Upstairs I walked into a scene that was everything I could have hoped it would be. Central casting had picked the people, dressed them perfectly, chosen soft music, and decorated with the perfect balance of manliness and style. I should stop there before I slide too deeply into cliche’ and flowery adjectives that undermine themselves.  It was wonderful.  no, I should say they were wonderful.

My pants were cut just a little too long, they brush the floor when I stand. My shirt sleeves were just a little too short and the cuffs were hidden by my jacket. No one looked.  Everyone I met talked too, not at, me. Not only was my point in attending not questioned, but I was engaged in real conversation.  I was made to feel welcome.

Now hands down I was out of my league. I met an old money man named after a Norse God whose vocabulary and combination of words was so naturally deliberate that I was forced to actually think to keep up. I met a silver haired man who was so smooth in manner and style that it appeared I was watching a movie, but he was real. And I met Michael Muscarella, the clothier himself, and he made me want to schedule a return appointment.

I have no tangible reason to schedule a return appointment.  I can’t afford, nor do I really need new clothes. I just met the man so I could have nothing of great importance to discuss with him.  But he made we want to go back again.  It could be the vintage prints of Philadelphia on his office walls. It could be the unfinished story about when he worked for Ralph Lauren. Or it could just be that he and his wife treated me like a person of value, when i was just a looky-loo kicking tires with no intention to buy… and they knew it. They all did. I even shared my own unfinished hypothesis with another party goer, of how it was a natural progression for the attendees of football games to slide from suit and tie to jerseys with another man’s name on the back. He took me seriously, as I did he, mostly because I saw he wore football shaped cuff-links.

I went out of curiosity, and for the cheese, then found I was enjoying myself. Perhaps I was enjoying myself too much. I was up till 1:20 am finishing up a precis’ on Thelin’s “A History of American Higher Education.”

A Look Inside the Mormon Temple… kinda

While most of the globe has been explored there still remain many mysteries out in the world. To most, the inside of a Mormon temple is one of those great mysteries.

Artist's rendition of the temple to be built in Philadelphia

In my faith there is no place holier than a dedicated temple. There are thousands of Mormon church buildings worldwide but only 134 temples. Churches are where weekly services are held, they are open to everyone; feel free to visit one whenever you like.

Temples are only open to baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and then not all members, but only those who are living up to a basic set of standards including no: alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, or extramarital (or premarital) sex. In addition to the don’t s, an individual must also pay tithes (10%), regularly attend Sunday church services, and live up to any legal obligations (child support if applicable and those sorts of things).

Ground breaking ceremony

On Saturday my wife and I were honored to be able to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a temple that will be constructed on Logan Circle in Philadelphia. For believers this is an exciting event, the type that most will never repeat in their lifetime.  I do not expect I will do such a thing again.

The mayor was there. City council members, various religious leaders, and nearby business leaders, and an apostle of Jesus Christ were all there.

Here comes the part that most readers of this blog should find interesting…

When temple construction is completed, before it is officially dedicated, the building is open for public tours. While construction will likely take two years, I am sending an open invitation now; I will personally take any and all interested readers on a personal tour through the Philadelphia temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

It would be my pleasure.

The Mrs. and I

If you look closely at minute 1:35 you will see my wife and I in the background. ABC NEWS

Trunk Club, Cleaning Up My Act.

I have long-held that being well dressed isn’t just wearing nice clothes, but wearing appropriate clothes for any given situation.  Tuxedos are nice, but just don’t feel right while gardening.  It has been ten years since I was last a student and back then I operated under the misunderstanding that a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt was the right thing to wear to class.

While considering the upcoming school year I realized my closet was ready for a boardroom or a boxing ring, but not a college campus.  What to do?  I called Brian Spaly.

Santa Claus uses Fed Ex during his off-season.

 Brian and I have worked together before and as before, he had the solutions to my problem.  The solution showed up yesterday.

A Festivus miracle!

The way the Trunk Club works, is a shopping averse man talks with a style consultant, in my case Brian, where sizes, styles and situations are discussed.  Next the consultant does some leg work, the stuff I did not want to do, and ta-da, a box full of clothing shows up on Mr. customer’s doorstep.  I could not wait to see if I got the Red Rider bee-bee gun or a lump of coal.

The blue blazer was perfect

 I’m not sure how I made it this far in life without owning a blue blazer but I am an imposter no longer.  No flashy brass buttons, matte finish, good fit.  Home run. Next…

Stretchy and shiny… not so much.

The shirt was well made and if anything it was stylish, but it was not for me.  I am not a glossy person in dress, or in much else and we shall simply say that “slim fit” and love handles should not be paired.  This was an easy “no”, but part of the joy of the Trunk Club is giving a garment a shot.  I did.  The shot missed the mark.  Now shoes…

Probably not best to wear both together.

My shoes have recently, and often, been the subject of expert criticism.  Fair enough; I’m working on it.  I choose to ignore the brand of the above shoes and let them speak for themselves.  The digital menswear world will be happy to see there are no square toes here.  I do have some recollection of the Trad mocking Philadelphia businessmen wearing grey shoes, and till now I have never seen grey shoes, but I think I like them.  I promise not to wear them with a nice suit, most likely I will wear them with the Seven jeans shown in the picture.  Mr. Spaly did well here.  Not too over the top in price or style, but nor bland.  Well done (cue the arguments).  Next…

Life After Denim

I have read that a Black Watch blazer is required and even prefered.  The velvet collar is a nice touch.  It was a little tight but not so much that some responsible eating and trips to the gym would fix.  The jury is still out on this one but much like new music, one should listen a few times before making a decision.  I’ll give myself a minute to adjust and eat more salad.  Next, the best reason to let someone else shop for you…

Unexpected satisfaction

Not in a million years would I have ever chosen a blue and black hounds tooth jacket.  I would have walked right past it without a second thought.  I felt a bit of disappointment as I pulled it from the box and dutifully tried it on.  Once it was on I experienced what Frosty must have felt as the kids put the magic top hat on his head; the world changed. I love it.

After the box was emptied and the contents tested, the Trunk Club takes away the pressure.  Brian could feel free to throw me a few curve balls because his customers are under no obligation to keep what he sends. Enclosed with the clothes are a new shipping label, and the final touch of thoughtfulness… packing tape.

Notice the small print that says "prepaid". Shipping both directions is on the house.

Now, as I stroll the campus, attend classes, or even those once dreaded cocktail hours, I will stand out for all the right reasons.  Above all, at least for me, I will be appropriately attired for the occasion.  Now if I could somehow find a way for Brian to do my sit-ups for me.

The loot



Around Town, the Weekend

Having spent the weekend in hallowed halls of learning, I switched it up and spent my weekend in hallowed… ruins of once grimy, now disgusting places. No really, I did.

My "photographer" doesn't want you to know exactly where this is. I claim I knew about the place first.

John Barclay was hosting one of his photography course/tours, and they needed someone as ugly as the surroundings to stand before the lenses.  They were paying so I was game.  Hallowed halls are expensive.

There was no saying "cheese" but it smelled like fetta.

We began at  7am on an abandoned pier once used to load inland coal onto ocean going ships.  We then went to Eastern State Penitentiary, where those who once offloaded bootlegged goods spent restful hours, or years, once their career was ended. I frequent only the finest locations.

Training at the pier. "Yo Adrian!"
Even the incarcerated needed dental care... only the finest.

Keeping in the theme of things or places that once were, the family joined me for the flee-market afterward. Lots of dusty old stuff, some cool stuff, and a pair of yellow ladies gloves my seven year old simply had to have.  She spent her own money, bartered the woman down to $3 from $4, and did not care that they did not fit.

MAny Philly places boast that George Washington once slept here, or maybe Ben Franklin; but this place boasts Al Capone.
Great pennant! I did not buy it, I already have the t-shirt.

And of course, as always, I simply slept my Sunday away… not really.

Like Some Sort Of Set-Up

Happy hour was over and it came time for the first actual class.  History of Higher Education with Dr. Marybeth Gasman was full with forty students but I talked to five people who weren’t registered but would be attending.  I had secured my seat in class, but not my books.  I braved the bookstore to fix that.

Poor planning on my part
and then there was more

I do not know if they teach this here, but I’m convinced there is a correlation between lines that turn a corner and the level of frustration felt by those in said line.  The more turns, the more anxiety.  I’m not sure the turns are the cause, but I will argue there is a correlation.

As is the case with college life, moments of stress, and those feeling stress, are mingled with those and times without.  Just outside the bookstore doors a farmers market featured local produce Amish sellers.  I thought we were the Quakers?

I doubt they were Amish or Quaker, and there was no line.

Then there came class.

After some jovial but brief classroom banter we were instructed to break into groups.  Each group would be given a historical document that we were to examine and extract as much information as possible from.  We would be learning history the way historians do it.

My group was handed this image:

There was no golden platter, but there could have been.

If you are new to this venue perhaps I should give you some context, click here.  A beam of light directly from heaven shown down upon my group as we were presented with co-captains and all-American football players from the Penn team of 1900.  I did not know they were All-Americans, nor did I know they became Olympians.  What I did know is that I possess a unique niche knowledge and was being unintentionally catered too on my first day.  I belong!

I was not the only one experiencing serendipitous success. Kurt, recently returned from Fulbright work in Kirghistan, recognized his fraternity’s badge being worn by the man on the right (Truxton Hare).  This was going to be a breeze!

After the group discussions we were promptly given 200 pages to read in the next week plus a writing assignment.

Our First Day

Everyone my age currently has a Facebook wall full of first day of school pictures; images of all our friend’s children trekking off to elementary school. It was my first day as well. During introductions we took a straw poll, I am by far the most qualified to give my classmates “timeout”.

Our first day.

We met the Dean, we got SWAG, we were given advice, and did our best to act as if we hadn’t already forgotten half of what we were just told.  I did some checking and I’m pretty sure I currently have a C in all my classes.  I determined this by dividing the number of people’s names I remembered, by the number of people who remembered my name, realized I was failing in comparison, at which point I inflated my grade to C to make myself feel better. Very scientific.

All was not lost.  I knew I belonged simply because of the artwork outside the conference room.

The sporting depiction wasn't retro when it was sculpted.

One might think me silly to assume I belong in a place by simply appreciating the decor.  Not to worry, I have more proof I was in the right place, a classmates choice of bag.  Again, this is all very scientific.

Very rare out in the wild.

And of course, school must prepare us for the working world, and what is better preparation for that world than happy hour.  I remember my first happy hour with co-workers.  I was 26, my boss was 25, the rest of my co workers were 23.  The entire conversation consisted of the group sharing how they have all evolved in that they now enjoy wine over beer. I was given a written reprimand for not participating in this networking opportunity wholeheartedly.

I would say I learned and grew from that experience, but that would be a lie.  I should have realized then I was in the wrong place.

Last night, making small talk with strangers, my new classmates, we talked about architecture, the metrics used in college admissions and the effect they have on the make up of cohorts.  Wine was there but it was not the topic.

No reprimands last night.

Of course… as is unavoidable when I am in a bar, I was asked about polygamy and my underwear.