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?
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.
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…
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.
Undoubtedly one of the most recognizable plaids in the world, the Burberry check, formally known as the Haymarket Check or Burberry Classic Check, was first introduced in 1924, and used in the lining of Burberry’s iconic trench coats– but there’s a lot more than the check to the Burberry story.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting London with the designer Jeffrey Banks, who (along with Doria De La Chapelle) wrote TARTAN Romancing the Plaid. While there, we visited the Burberry headquarters and were given a tour of their archives and in-house museum– which included Burberry coats owned by the Queen and exact replicas of garments they had made for Shackleton, who led the legendary 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. The Burberry company history is simply amazing. Their many contributions to fabric & garment innovation that hugely benefited exploration endeavors and war-time efforts alike are mostly unknown to a lot of us, and deserve to be heralded.
Adolphe Menjou below, elegantly reigned as one of the best-dressed stars of the silver screen during the 1920s, ’30s & ’40s. The mustachioed sartorialist immediately brings to mind the dapper & distinguished gents of the Esky/Apparel Arts era of menswear illustration. He always dressed impeccably and carried himself in a way that few could. Look carefully at the picture below with the parrot on his shoulder– Glen plaid dress shirt & tie under a crazy, chunky houndstooth sportcoat.
Menjou above left, back in 1927 sans his signature full mustache and his flawlessy slicked-back hair. The bottom left photo looks so much like Morrissey that I had to do a double take– well, the image is actually a photoshop creation merging the two style icons.
I had mentioned awhile back that I have a new Saturday gig, and it’s not a bad one at that. Friends of mine started-up the Vulcan Motor Club in Chester, NJ (where I hang) and have also recently branched out to Long Island, NY. The club makes a lot more sense than sinking tons of your own dough into buying an exotic– when you join immediately there’s an arsenal of the latest high performance and luxury vehicles at your fingertips, with none of the ownership worries in terms of maintenance, upkeep, depreciation, etc. All you need to worry about is– which car will it be today?
Maybe I’m too “old school” for my own good, but my favorite ride in the fleet is a ’65 Shelby Cobra (replica) fitted with a snarling 565 hp 427 aluminum block V-8. For pure power, torque and thrill it’s the real deal, and a real driver’s car too. Paddle shifters are cool, but I’d rather feel big-block, 4-on-the-floor rumble any day of the week. There are several membership options and new Spring specials, with delivery and pick-up available within 60 miles.
So if this sounds like the rush you’ve been looking for– I can hook that up.
Vulcan Motor Club
Recently a certain reader took issue with my asserting the classic & indispensable style of the white shirt. And I quote–
“My God, How boring and predictable, a white shirt? Please… These rules are for men who don’t have a clue and just want to leave their house half decent without embarrassing themselves. This I don’t have a problem with, when it’s for convenience, comfort or not having to THINK at all about what to wear, but don’t confuse it with style.”
Huh… Montgomery Clift– seeking convenience and comfort? No, I don’t think so. Errol Flynn– on a quest for decency and concerned with not embarrassing himself? Somehow I don’t think he was all that worried about it, buddy. Maybe Johnny Depp appeals to you more? Bingo. White shirt.
So let’s set the record straight once and for all–
The white shirt is for guys, what the little black dress is for our lady friends. It is absolutely a style icon in itself, and it can provide the perfect backdrop for the expression of style by letting it’s accompanying accessories sing. Done.
OK, I really need to think happy thoughts right now and forget about that last story. What a bummer. So let’s bring in Zippy the chimp, a comedic favorite and smoking sensation of the 1950s. He is cute, but whose idea was it to jam his feet into those little people shoes. That can’t feel very good.
Hey, you can’t train a chimp to smoke like that– he really likes it. Look at him draw on that thing, pulling out everything last bit of flavor. Chimp heaven on earth. Fetch me a scotch, woman.
Moe was certainly livin’ the life, judging by these photos. When St. James Davis found little Moe in Africa and brought him home to West Covina, CA back in 1967, it meant a new life completely devoted to caring for the chimp. St. James had signed-on with a merchant ship as a deckhand to see the world and also to escape the glares of the hometown folk that had turned against him for leaving Ladonna (who would eventually be his bride and soulmate) at the altar. You see, St. James was afraid that a wife would get between him and his hot rods. A race car driver and a mechanic by trade, married life just didn’t seem to couple well with his plans. Ironically, it would be Moe that eventually brought him and Ladonna back together, and they lived the life of a happy, albeit quirky, family for many years.
I only wish I could say that it ended well. The LIFE photos are of happier times back in ’71.
Thelonious Monk is guy who’s music & style you either get or don’t. In falls in the realm of atonal jazz, which some consider to be not so friendly on the ear at times. I think it’s brilliant, and invites the listener in to experience the music in a unique and very personal way. Thelonious played with such reckless beauty, and his phrasing was at times more suggestive than literal– I swear, sometimes I hear notes that aren’t even there. He composed around 70 original pieces and recorded them over and over, so it’s possible to have a huge collection of different arrangements with different flavors.
His personal style of dress also had a lot of savory flavor–