Category Archives: style
There is, or at least can be, a fine line between clothing and costume. A fine line between doing your thing, and schtick.
I appreciate those who do their thing, but I fear far too many are just trying to do “a thing”. For example, I present to you Teddy Roosevelt doing “a thing”.
Now compare Teddy doing his thing.
See the difference?
In one, there is a born and raised New Yorker who has gone out West and dressed up in what he thinks Westerners wear, and in the other, he is wearing something suitable for what he is doing, and where he is doing it… in New York.
So on that note, and along those lines, I present some archival finds that should make any hipster eat his own heart. Not to say that any modern day man trying to claim gender normative manliness with a little extra panache’ shouldn’t rock a hat, but these guys absolutely do it better.
As a 14 year old struggling for a small slice of social acceptance I used to flip through the pages of GQ magazine. Mostly I would just look at ads in search of the perfect haircut thinking that if I could get my own just right, maybe I could one day be as cool as these guys looked. No. That isn’t quite true. I was mostly just hoping to get just a little bit closer to cool but I knew I would never really get there. So I just flipped through the pages looking not reading.
Except for this one column, “The Style Guy”.
I grew up in a world where people were very much judged by what they were wearing, but almost no one knew a thing about style. It was just her skirt is too short, His pants are too saggy, and what brand is that? I was aware enough to know I was clueless and too ignorant to really know where to look for guidance. My father could tell me exactly what someone might have been wearing in 1825 Wyoming, or the importance of socks while hiking, but would then communicate that thinking about clothes at school was too trivial to be concerned with. Mom could point out a Mondrian or a Rembrandt but had no interest in either Coco or Chanel.
My only hope was Matt Hilbig.
Matt lived around the corner and taught me that you could buy boat shoes at Payless and no one would ever know they weren’t Bass. He also taught me that you could find everything from GQ ads in Nordstrom, but that my money was probably more in line with J. Riggins. Matt was the source of all of my practical and tactical sartorial lessons- but he was also 14.
Then I discovered the Style Guy.
As I got older it was The Style Guy that answered questions I never knew I should ask, and that even if I knew to ask, I had no one around who could answer. He explained to me the difference between a barrel and a French cuff, which one might assume everyone would know but I didn’t. He taught me what a contrast collar is and helped me understand that they probably aren’t for me. Above all he taught me that I could think about this kind of stuff without just trying to imitate some external norm or marching in some sort of conformist regimental order… and how to do so without being an idiot.
I had been reading the Style Guy for quite some time before I learned that he was that one grown up who used to show up on MTV talking about news. It was long after that when I learned this guy grew out of the Andy Warhol Basquiat punk rock New York and into the suit wearing wingtip world of GQ, without doing some sort of image dance that wasn’t really him. This man was amazing.
I have to say was because yesterday he passed away and I have lost the best teacher I ever had in how to be less of a dork, while still being me. He was the best.
Matt, you were second best. Just sayin.
I am afraid of neither cliché nor dumpster. I may be a little bit afraid of going all Johnny Utah and trying to teach myself how to ride a cliché in Red Hot Chili Pepper infested waters, so I settle for sitting on the couch and painting what should otherwise be a sporting good.
I found it in a dumpster. I saw it as a low rent project that would allow me the tools to learn my next sporting hobby. I had dreams of riding waves and floating just out beyond the break.
Two years later I have ridden very little beyond a sofa and sadly, I float a bit too easily in the pool.
Then I got an idea.
It is still rideable. At least in theory.
A broad “thank you” is in order.
I am generally skeptical of the sincerity of anything posted on social media, especially Fakebook. It is the home of the humble-brag, desperate calls for attention, and every narcissist’s second favorite venue for self aggrandizement (2nd to twitter). It is like the digital age’s version of a perpetual high school social dynamic with all of its posturing, superficiality and huge doses of TMI.
Then came my birthday.
This year I chose, for the first time, to allow my birthday to be public. I have seen long scrolling lists of people wishing other people happy birthday, and the snarky voice inside my head thought that really they were a bunch of people who wanted to bee seen wishing happy birthday rather than really wanting to celebrate any certain person, so I was not really surprised that many people sent me online well wishes, but I was a little bit surprised at how it felt.
It made me happy. It felt good.
People said some nice things. It was a bit like when the Grinch stole Christmas but the Whos still sang and hearing it made his heart grew bigger. My cynical inner Grinch told me that “happy birthday” from someone I never talk to means nothing and drawing satisfaction from such shallow offerings makes me the emotional equivalent of a toddler. But then some people PM’d me, a couple even called, others just said Happy Birthday on my wall and kicking and screaming my inner Grinch gave way to simple gratitude and appreciation. It was nice.
Sometimes people are just plain and nice and when they (you) are, it makes a difference. It matters.
I appreciated the well wishes. I learned from it.
So- thank you.
I advocate for leading a life of sophistication and collected calm. Anything rowdy or without deeper meaning is to be avoided. As the kids might say, I keep it classy.
For example, I support the attendance of dinner parties where one can commune with thought leaders and sophisticates. Mingling with those who elevate thought and decorum is the best use of one’s evenings.
There may be occasions where physical exertion is appropriate, but dignity should predominate. If an outing is to happen, one need not lower one’s self.
Music is an important part of creating an atmosphere of celebratory sophistication. Many of the great symphonies and orchestras perform the classics during this holiday season as a service toward the elevation of humanity.
When dining one should not overindulge. Moderation takes a back seat only to presentation. Please remember that seating arrangements and plating are what truly makes a dining experience “fine”.
There is at this time of year a tradition of gift giving. I reservedly participate but remind us all that the appropriate response should always be quiet reserve and calm.
I like to think of myself as an example of intellectualism and decorum. The world needs more of this. There is far too much noise and irreverence. I am above such things and would that this were true for us all.
Yes. A paragon of elevation am I. And as such, I bid you all a happy new year.
An important part of parenting is protecting your children from infectious disease. While my offspring have been able to avoid measles, mumps, and Jenny McCarthy, I am still a failure in this regard. You see, my daughter has contracted a condition that flares up every December. It elevates her stress levels, tires her out, and completely disrupts our life.
It is sad. She is only 12.
I wish there were a cure.
Some kids grow out of it, others learn to live with the condition even when it is in remission, but it never goes away.
This disease is called Balleritious Nutcrackevitus.
I heard it was first contracted in France. It found its way to my house when my oldest daughter was 5. It caused uncontrolled leaping and a swirly dizziness. She was a mess.
I hoped she only had the juvenile strain but as time has gone by, it has only gotten worse.
At first it was almost amusing, but then it started taking over. The uncontrolled swirls gave way to these repetitive motions. She would squat then stand, squat, then stand- for hours. She would lift one leg, then put it down, over and over again, and again, and again, and a gain. It ate up all of her mind and soul, and finally, it ate my weekends.
We have tried everything. We have seen experts, spent thousands of dollars on treatments, and finally, we visited an institution.
It was like some sort of leper colony where similarly infected young people could commune and older people could commiserate together. It was supposed to be therapeutic but it seemed to only make things fester.
We even tried relocating, thinking that perhaps a drier climate would help her system grow stronger. It was hard, she struggled. We thought she would finally break free, but then Decembers would roll around and she would succumb.
One specialist recommended we try these orthopedic sort of shoes. They build in some sort of contraption to try to control the spinning. These medical devices are expensive and not covered by insurance. She has become completely dependent.
I have learned that varying experts disagree on prescribed treatments. Vaganova says do this, Cecchetti says do that. Balanchine only treats a specific strain of the illness. I have been told that we have to pick a theory and go with it. I always want a second opinion.
I have watched the patient get worn down from a swirly little squiggle to becoming serious beyond her age. She tends to fixate and focus on every little bit of the therapy. You have never seen such a dedicated out-patient. All of the patients are that way. Fixated.
I fear that if she does not recover soon, institutionalization will be her only hope.
Merry Christmas Nutcracker families.