I’m Down with this Donald

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I see his work as a sort of loose, maybe even sloppy, Matisse. Not that he would ever say that about himself, at least not that I have heard, but then again, how would I have heard?

But what I have seen, is pared down lines, patterns, and brush strokes that despite lack of detail and apparent precision, form fashionable women and style. Like Matisse.

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Having survived the heyday of art directing at Conde’ Nast and Vogue, Donald Robertson has left the hustle of New York and opened up shop in LA, and when I say “opened” I mean his door is open (not right now though) and you can go say hello.

I went and said hello.

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With his new work hanging, or laying, around and his young kids doing the same, Donald and I didn’t hatch a new collaboration or become best friends (I am open to both) but he did answer my question easily and helped me feel relaxed and welcomed.

Then he drew me a picture in my sketch book thereby increasing its value by approximately 2000%.

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His studio is where Evett’s Model Shop once was (1636 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica) and he will let any fool off the street just walk right in and talk to him.

Matisse never did that.

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Punk Rock Where You Don’t Expect: out of place in Mexico City

IMG_2546We went to that part of town to visit a library full of books written in a language I can’t read. I had never been to Mexico City before and this library’s design is world renowned. The shelves hang from the ceiling rather than standing on the floor. It is giant, cathedral-like, and filled with books written in Spanish.

 

I don’t Speak Spanish.

 

But I know what looks cool, and that spot is cooler than most, so we went.

 

As we opened the Uber door and stepped to the curb something unexpected happened.  Right next door, in a graffiti covered alley, was something loud that I recognized.

Blaring horns, a solid bass rhythm, and a heavy back beat. Played fast. I did not expect to hear punk ska in Mexico but expectations don’t matter so much when you are in the moment, and in that moment, I followed the sound.

 

The alley was packed full of temporary booths and tons of people. Ramones t-shirts, black leather jackets, and Doc Marten boots were both stacked on tables and worn by the crowds. A thousand or more people sporting full mohawks and spiked collars pushed their way through crowded stalls looking at stickers and buttons. I saw Bad Brains cassettes and Sex Pistols albums, anarchy logos and large gauged earrings everywhere.

 

And we joined in.

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My buddy looked at where we were, looked me up and down, and just started laughing. He shook his head and said, “Dude.”

 

I had to laugh as well. It wasn’t just my Anglo skin and bullet straight part -I was wearing khakis.

 

I was the very visual embodiment of “The Man”, a square, the epitome of suburban dorkiness, middle aged middle class might as well have had a flip phone clipped to my belt; shouldering my way unabashedly into a Mexico City punk fest.

 

I didn’t care.

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I didn’t care because I have rarely felt I fit in anywhere.

 

It isn’t that I haven’t wanted too, in fact I have made all sorts of efforts to find my place. It is more that in those efforts, on that journey, I have traversed so many spaces and places looking for a fit, that what I mostly found was overlap. It is natural (more so for some demographics than others) to see ourselves as the center of the world’s Venn Diagram, but I think my overlap was a little less centered. A bit more marginal. Like I am the outside circle of a million other group’s graphics but rarely checking off multiple boxes, or enough boxes to gain full membership. On such a journey one must either find a place and conform, or gain some sort of peace being a misfit.

This place had Misfits gear galore.

 

I didn’t care how I looked because I knew all the words to all the songs on those bootleg disks and coming out of those speakers. I learned them when I was 12. I learned them alone in my room listening to alternative radio or lurking around that one back rack of the record store. And here it all was in Mexico?

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I loved it.

 

I had no idea what the live bands were singing, but skankin’ just needs that rhythm and a mosh pit was never really content driven.

 

I fit just enough to feel at home.

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Mr. Porter

IMG_4471So there was that one time when I was at a table full of Billy Porter fans and Billy Porter just happens to walk in. Then, everyone gets psyched up enough to say hello and he quickly says, “sorry no pictures”… but THEN I whip out the sketch of him I just completed while he was sitting at the bar and now Billy Porter is asking US if HE can take pictures.

 

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I Wasn’t Exactly Born Tough, but I’m surprisingly sold

In general, I am not big on large logos. Nor am I one to conflate casual wear with gym clothes. Nike and polo are great, but both would be better if they just let the clothes be clothes and not billboards. Also, a track suit isn’t meant for the movies.

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A long time ago I stopped really worrying about how I looked while working out. This was mostly a function of me realizing I would never get back in to any kind of shape if I wasn’t willing to sacrifice some pride- or dignity. It doesn’t matter which as they both hurt the same when sliced. But this lack of worry was also in part caused by my complete disillusionment with most athletic gear. IMG_1048

I do not like flashy gaudy colors and slogans, this is not my house it is a stadium, I am at best giving it 73%, and there is no way in the world that my level of performance needs the latest NASA technology infused compression top.IMG_1063

With all this in mind, about 15 years ago, I discovered small brand designers, hipsters, and people with taste, who make exactly the type of gym clothes I desired. Streamlined cuts. Functional. Simple solid colors- but with a NASA pricetag.

Enter Elite Sports, and Born Tough.

Same company. Two brands. different purposes.

These are now my go-to shorts for all things athletic. Granted, for me, getting up out of a chair is exercise, and the only thing I’m competing against is cardiac arrest, but this pair is the best thing I have found that moves, covers, and lets me jog without worrying my car key is going to fall out of the pocket. They hit that sweet spot in between John Stockton and Shawn Kemp, and they skip the logo. I’m a grown man and unless I once played for, or now own, a franchise, I generally don’t wear their logo. These are perfect.DA4F26AB-9FFA-4C09-B314-A1E799950F2E

The hoodie is heavy duty, simple, and my favorite- it cuts lower in the back, preventing the normal riding up when bending over. This stooping could be done while deadlifting, crossfitting, or in my case, trying to find that chocolate covered almond that just rolled under the coffee table.Whatever the case, it works for me.

And of course, because this is the world I inhabit, these are regular person priced rather than artisanal handcrafted alpaca wool from the Andean high country priced.