BOTTOMS UP! | A LOVE AFFAIR WITH TAVERNS, BARS & PUBS

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For a lot of us, one of the most exciting milestones in our lives is when we reach that magical age when we’re finally old enough to buy and consume alcohol– and step foot into a bar for the first time.  America has a longtime love affair with drinking and bars– alcohol seems to be the magic elixir for all our worries, and the hazy comfort of a favorite bar can be like collagen for our souls.  Just seeing all the shiny glasses & colorful bottles lined-up and ready for business is comforting, and seems to put all things in order.  I am not what you’d call a frequent bar patron anymore– family and priorities have other plans, which is just fine with me.   But when I do get an hour or two to unwind with a friend and a cold one, maybe even catch a great game too– it’s a very special time to relish.

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 bar

Subway Series: Rapt audience in bar watching World Series game from New York on TV-- Chicago, 1952.

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Grey Gardens | The Beautiful Decay

When I saw these images in the New York Times my mind immediately drew parallels to Dickens’s Great Expectations– from the once-grand mansion in decay to the fascinating & eccentric characters Miss Havisham and Estella– it’s all so eerie in a beautiful, maddening sort of way–

A 1975 documentary captured the eccentric lives of Edith Bouvier Beale, known as Big Edie, and her daughter, Little Edie, in Grey Gardens, the filthy, dilapidated mansion they occupied in East Hampton. 

After Big Edie died in 1979, Little Edie sold the house to Sally Quinn and Benjamin C. Bradlee, who undertook a massive renovation. These photographs, which have never been seen by the public before, were taken by a photographer hired by Ms. Quinn at the time she and her husband purchased the house, in order to capture the extent of the decay.

Thirty-four years after a documentary film introduced the world to Grey Gardens and its eccentric occupants, a new movie on HBO is again casting light on the legend of this East Hampton property. In 1979, when this photo was taken, Sally Quinn, the writer and Washington hostess, and her husband Benjamin Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post, purchased the property, which had fallen into complete disarray, and set out to restore it to its earlier splendor.

Thirty-four years after a documentary film introduced the world to Grey Gardens and its eccentric occupants, a new movie on HBO is again casting light on the legend of this East Hampton property. In 1979, when this photo was taken, Sally Quinn, the writer and Washington hostess, and her husband Benjamin Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post, purchased the property, which had fallen into complete disarray, and set out to restore it to its earlier splendor.

 

Ms. Quinn says that when she pressed a key on this piano in the living room, the whole thing collapsed and fell through the floor.

Ms. Quinn says that when she pressed a key on this piano in the living room, the whole thing collapsed and fell through the floor.

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Lilly Pulitzer | Pink & Green Palooza in PGA

Lilly Pulitzer visual and print teamLilly Pulitzer PGA Jose Cuadra

My good buddy Jose Cuadra was hard at work with Lilly’s very talented team of Print & Pattern designers– Jeff Mattia, Victoria Davis and Paige Smith, creating a stunning visual masterpiece for Lilly Pulitzer’s latest store opening in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.  Jose and I worked together when I headed-up visual for Lilly, and let me tell you– Jose is not only one of the most talented visual merchants in the business, he’s also one of the all-around greatest guys going (BFF).  At Lilly, the print department houses some of the best designers in the business– they are all truly artists that paint, sketch and create through heart & hand. They are not just click and drag CAD jockeys.  What this inspiring team of artistic talent created is truly incredible.  As Brad Bradbeer would say– “Go team!”  

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CECIL BEATON | THE RANDY DANDY OF PHOTOGRAPHY & FASHION

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Cecil Beaton will always be remembered for his huge influence on the world of photography and fashion. His incredible works personified elegance and grace– but his personal behavior was at times, anything but. He was not known to be a loyal friend, a humble talent or a genuine soul of any sort. In fact, his persona and image was a self-creation– fabricated with great calculation to gain him access to the world that was just beyond his reach.

When obsessive vanity, insecurity and posturing are the guiding forces that propel you forward, it can be anything but attractive.

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Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton-- behind the camera

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Fashion’s Shifting Paradigm | A Farewell to Lazy Merchants, Irrelevant Offerings & Bloated Markups

live beyond your means

Sorry Antonio– this image is too good, I had to borrow it.  The irony is incredible– “Live Beyond Your Means” on the window of a store that went under.  Says a lot about the retail climate we’re experiencing.

There’s a lot of reactionary “strategy” in motion right now by apparel retailers & wholesalers who are desperately trying to stop the bleeding.  Slash prices, cut inventory levels, homogenize the product, reduce the workforce, cut expenses, close stores– but what’s the long term answer?  The industry is facing unprecedented times– but this didn’t happen overnight, and we only have ourselves to blame.  The industry is finally paying the price for years of over-saturating the retail landscape with too many stores, an excess of irrelevant “me too” brands & products, and in many cases– undeservedly fat markups.  

“The consumer is so well-informed today, they don’t want to be told how to buy and they feel conned and manipulated by big flagship stores, and by the disproportionate margins the brands are making,” Inacio Ribeiro said. “However, the consumer will welcome suggestions, and that is the way forward.”

Fashion’s reliance on ever-lower prices failed last fall, as sale signs shouting 60, 70 and 80 percent off attested. Value is making a comeback across the price spectrum.  –WWD

In short– we got fat, lazy & greedy, as the consumer became more sophisticated and savvy.  Now they are deciding with lethal force who will survive and who will die– and quite honestly, a lot of us deserve to die.

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JACK NICHOLSON | EASY RIDER, 1969

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Jack Nicholson Easyrider

Jack Nicholson

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To mention the 1969 film Easy Rider is beyond cliche anymore– but I remember growing up with a lot of Easy Rider references around the house as a kid. The old man fancied himself as “Hopper”, a nickname given to him by his biker buddies for his resemblance to Dennis Hopper’s Billy in the pivotal biker flick. He milked that one for all it was worth. I also remember a certain amount of disdain from the biker crowd towards Peter Fonda starring as Captain America. Sure, they loved the iconic chopper (the real star of the film)– but Peter Fonda was considered by real bikers to be a Hollywood punk that grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth (read: pussy) who had no business on a Harley.

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Yale’s Skull & Bones | NWO Secret Society or Just Silly Seniors

Yale Skull and BonesNazi Skull & Bones

skull and bones c1947 ghw bush

Skull & Bones annual class photos are always in front of the same clock-- and always set to the 8 o'clock hour. Here you see an all white male grouping of the '47 Bonesmen-- today it is open to all cultures and women too. Just what every gal wants to join-- a club that worships old bones.

I guess I’m a little surprised at all the conspiracy theories that dog Yale’s elite society– Skull & Bones. All the seemingly incredulous stories are just a little too far-fetched and over-the-top to believe, even for me– who loves this kind of stuff.  It’s not to say that it couldn’t happen– I guess I tend to be too optimistic in regard to human nature and our country to want to believe it.

The skull & bones icon itself has definitely enjoyed a nice run in the fashion world too as of late– with Rugby Ralph Lauren and Barker Black using it as an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek branding tool. But let’s get back to the tales of the infamous secret society– where the controversial theories are so deep, it requires an almost suspension of reality to buy in–

Every year, 15 of Yale’s finest seniors are tapped to join the mysterious order– from several generations of the Bush clan (George H. Bush, left of clock) all the way to Paul Giamatti, of all people. Many  members of Skull & Bones have gone on to hold positions of great political power with an alleged intent to create a shadow government (NWO) and advance the order’s long-standing allegiances & agendas– leading to extreme political wrangling. No doubt, some very influential people have belonged– but are the claims of their abuse of influence & power throughout American history really plausible? Were they really Nazi sympathizers or behind the assassination of JFK for his speech that spoke out against them? 

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One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Castle | Home Sculpted from Found Objects

I have to take my hat off to this guy.  There are people in this world who dream and talk– then there are guys like Randy Polumbo who are actually living the dream, and walking the talk.  His life may not speak to those of us that dream of master-planned communities, designer goods, & fancy friends– but if you’re someone that can appreciate beauty formed from an artist’s careful eye, a crafter’s honest hand, and a reverence for history, humanity and the planet that came before us– then this may speak to you.  

Why keep consuming, creating demand for more disposable products, and adding to our planet’s endless landfills when there are plenty of reusable resources all around us?  I need to get off my soapbox and be more like Randy– who bought and expanded a home out of what most people would consider trash.

Randy Polumbo Joshua Treejoshua tree trash house 

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Lucien Carr | “The Glue” of the Beat Generation

Lucien Carr wedding 1952 Ginsberg

Lucien Carr and Allen at Lucien's wedding to Francesca "Cessa" von Hertz, January 4, 1952. "Depressed, Allen wrote that Lucien looked like a toy doll with his neat mustache and plastered-down hair. He noted tha Lucien wore a gray suit with a flower on his lapel and talked with all the old ladies, making them laugh." (I Celebrate Myself Bill Morgan.)

 

Lucien Carr is often credited as the guy that brought the beats together by introducing Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs to one another– though Lucien didn’t quite fit the mold of a beat himself.  That is not to say though that he is without mystique.  In fact, although Carr is lesser known, his own tale is deeply intriguing– he’s a real interesting bird, that guy.  

In 1944, Carr killed former friend, David Kammerer, who was also part of the beat scene, and went as far as to ask his buddies Kerouac and Ginsberg to help him coverup the crime.  He eventually turned himself in and served only two years in prison– then after his release became a writer for the Associated Press.  

One of the beats kills a guy, then has the nerve to write for “The Man”?  I’m telling ya’, truth is always stranger than fiction…

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The Bow Tie | A Love/Hate Relationship

bow tiePee Wee Herman

The bow tie is probably the most polarizing accessory in menswear.  Guys tend to either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  I say, if you want to wear them, you must be confident and know a few things right from the get go–

1.) Don’t think you’re being original– some say the bow tie is the most unoriginal attempt to be original.  I’ve even heard them referred to as the nose-ring equivalent for conservatives– that one always gives me a chuckle.  

2.) Don’t wear them often, or where you know you’ll be one of many donning a bow tie.

3.) Some guys will think you’re a pompous tool– the bow tie can be like wearing the middle finger around your neck.  It just flat-out turns some people off. 

4.) Some guys will think you’re a nerd or lightweight– think Pee Wee Herman or Orville Redenbacher.

5.) They look best when you’re well-layered.  They bow tie can easily be underwhelming when there is a lot of shirt showing.  A sweater or vest will nicely frame a bow tie and make it pop with more power.

Personally, I stay away from them.  They just aren’t my flavor, and I have absolutely no desire to be known as that guy in the bow tie.  The bow tie is something that to me, always feels better in a nostalgic “looking back” kind of way.  I know guys that can definitely pull them off, but that guy isn’t me.  We have to know our limits– I’m no Andre 3000.

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