September 27, 2011

Something just because it’s a good deal.

Khakis (31×30) from Gap, $45
blue striped shirt (attic)
Green sweater from Target, $5


September 27, 2011

There’s a gulf: those outside the service industry who want to pay too little, and those in the service industry who ??

Here’s our rule of thumb:

Tip in paper.
Round the dollar up, then base your percentage off of that.
9.37 becomes 10.00, then make the total $12.
7.37 becomes 8.00; then tip a couple bucks.
Being generous is better than being tighter than a bull’s ass in fly season.

Give them the benefit of the doubt: don’t assume they’re taking a route that’s going to try to eek more money out of you. They could in fact be, but they also know the city better. This is their job.

From Yelp: (Jan. 2008)

Allow me to ground you all in a more personal perspective, rather than all the hypotheticals about cab drivers.

My husband is a cab driver.

He is a great cab driver, one who keeps a clean cab, calls patrons “sir” or “m’am”, helps with baggage, and even gives free rides to cancer patients and others he has a big heart for. He showers daily, is well spoken, and more than willing to put whatever you would like on the radio.

You know what? He is still stereotyped into being an ignorant immigrant, propositioned for sex, has to deal with people getting waaaay too frisky while still in the cab, has had a gun held to his head, has to suck up the higher cost of gas while rates remain the same, and has to deal with people being jerks. He gets the perk of everyone assuming he is one of the worst drivers on the road. You know why he might take a different route than the one you think is most direct? Because he has driven the streets for so long that he knows he can get you there faster on a different route where there is not as much traffic or not as many traffic signals. It is only in his best interest to get you there as fast as he can, because he has another fare to pick up. More fares is always better.

Talking in generalities doesn’t really help. What if we started talking about all the salespeople? Or contractors? Or personal trainers? Some are great, some are poor.

But if you experience great service, it is worth a great tip. Period. And a great tip is 25%. A good tip is 20%. An ok tip is 15%. If your ride is less than a $5 fare, tipping a between $1-$2 is appropriate. On all fares, you can round to the dollar higher, and then base your percentage on that.

And, if you have a great cabbie, ask for his cell number so you can use his business in the future. My partner has plenty of clients who have an ongoing working relationship because they set up fares in advance, for example a 4 am pick up to Ohare.

NEW INTEL: “Made Right Here”

September 26, 2011
We just caught wind of a sweet new venture, and we want you know about it. American extraordinaires Joe Gannon, Max Wastler and Matt Springer announced a new T.V. project today. Taking into account the other made-in-America shows over the years, this is one of the most original ideas we’ve seen in quite a while.

It’s called “Made Right Here,” and it’s dedicated to showcasing American-made products that have stayed strong by remaining here instead of going overseas. At its heart, it’s about story. The story of Billy Moore (Cause and Effect), the unconventional Tennessee belt maker who I wrote about last week. The story of Imogene + Willie, the denim makers who watched sadly as their parent company moved production to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The story of Pointer Brand, the outerwear maker that sources its materials from Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina, and elsewhere in the U.S.—and has since 1913. The story of people.
And it follows Max and Joe as they take a turn at making these items themselves. Here’s Max:
“I say we made… Really, we tried and failed to make all these things. This is part of the story, too. These are craftspeople who’ve dedicated their lives to mastering a skill, a skill that is really tough to do.”

There it is: the essence of why American craft is important, why it costs a little more and why peoples’ livelihoods depend on you voting with your dollar. Give it a watch, and tell everyone you know.

We’re proud to call these talented guys our friends.


September 20, 2011

Behold: NorthernGRADE. Every September, some of the movers and shakers in American-made menswear descend into the cluttered, boozy labyrinth of the Architectural Antiques in Minneapolis to hawk their wares.
Inspired by NYC’s Pop Up Flea, the ladies and gentlemen at J.W. Hulme Company and Pierrepont Hicks tie shop decided to add the Midwest to the conversation by founding their own market in 2010—which makes this the second of a (hopefully) annual tradition.
I hitched a ride up to the fest for the launch of Buckshot Sonny’s, Max Wastler and Joe Gannon’s vintage sporting goods store. (If you’re not familiar yet, you should be.) It was hard to contain the excitement as it built over the 7.5-hour drive, and it wasn’t long before there were copious amounts of rapping during the 3G-less stretches of Wisconsin and Minnesota. When we arrived, we weren’t disappointed. What follow are simply snapshots punctuated by a few important quotes, because like many of the best experiences—you just kinda had to be there. Next year’s your chance.
Buckshot Sonny’s, named after Joe’s grandfather Sonny and Max’s dad, who they called ‘Buckshot’ as a kid, is “the store your grandfather would have taken your father to for his first baseball glove.”

  • “We want one of our baseballs or footballs to be the family picnic ball. When we’re done, I’ll give it to my son, and he’ll give it to his, maybe.” — Joe Gannon
Red Wing, this year’s main sponsor.

Two fine fellows: Brad Bennett of Well-Spent and Mike Maher of Taylor Stitch.

Intelligentsia coffee was on site.

The Hill-Side, offered by BlackBlue.

The incomparable Billy Moore, of Cause and Effect, hawking his skins. “Buy some belts!” he barks.
One of the (many) interesting things about Billy is that he’s not much for the indecisive. Like a maverick who pops up unannounced at spots all across the country, it’s “Buy a belt here and now, or wait and see where I appear next.”
And his process is nothing if not unique. It’s all about the story for Cause and Effect—whether it’s wading into a Tennessee river to drape a hide over a big, wet rock or hammering belts on a cobbled New York street.

You can read more about his process over at All PlaidOut, but here’s a bit of lore he shared with me about his mysterious Mason jar full of moonshine. This particular batch, Billy says, was made by the son of Popcorn Sutton, the legendary Tennessee moonshiner. No one’s heard from him since around 2009…possibly because he may not be alive any more.

“Popcorn Sutton been caught by the ATF for the fifth time,” Billy says. “He had about 5,000 quarts of moonshine, and they were going to give him 30 days a gallon.
“The story goes that he killed himself rather than go to prison. But here’s the thing: The only people who saw him dead were the sheriff and the coroner—who both happened to be his cousins.”
The trick is to take a breath before you take a drink.
Billy had me make a belt, which you’ll see in coming posts as we track its progress from natural leather to seasoned beauty.
One of the fine products from Duluth Pack, which we’ve written about before.
I had a chance to chat with Molly Solberg, Duluth Pack’s marketing director, who filled me in on why the company’s heritage matters to so many people:
  • “We’re fashionable because we’re 120-plus years old, not because we’re a flash in the pan.”
  • “You can walk into Walmart and by a $20 bag every season or spend $115 on one of ours and never buy another.”
  • “Every day, I walk through the sewing room. You’ll see a bag made by Linda, a breast cancer survivor. We have a sewer, Suzie, who’s been here for 20 years. Whatever we can do to help Suzie as she puts her kids through college, we’re going to do.”
  • “Ultimately, you’re employing Minnesotans and saving money over the long run.”

A clever business card from Angie Sheldon.

Becca James, the editor of Pop ‘stache, browses wool shirts offered by Greenwich Vintage.

On the culture of NorthernGRADE:
  • ‘Zen’ Pomazi, one of the purveyors of Greenwich Vintage, is finding that men take a little longer to care about appearance and quality these days. But eventually, he says, a nostalgia kicks in, even though it might be for something they’ve never experienced themselves.
  • “Guys get to a certain age—maybe they’re getting married, maybe they’re having kids—and they start to pay attention,” Zen says. “They see some of this stuff, and they remember Dad.”
And this, from Noah Zagor, is perhaps the best summation of why any of this matters:
“I had an uncle who was a geology professor at Oxford University,” Noah says. “I remember visiting him, and he would point to the motto emblazoned on the gates: ‘Manners Makyth Man.'”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed the above quote. Our sincerest apologies to Noah. We regret the error.

“You always wore bright colors.” — A Personal History

September 19, 2011
Editor’s note: This is the second in our three-part series looking back at the style (if you can call it that) of our youths.
Earlier, Seth. Now, Jeff.

I always had a thing for obnoxious colors.
You liked them,” said Trace (a.k.a. Mom) when I talked to her this week. “Everybody made fun of me for doing it, but you would just stand there in your Superman underwear and complain that you wanted to wear your bow tie, suspenders or bright shirts.
The other parents would say, ‘Why are you dressing him wimpy like that?’ But you were such a happy kid when you wore those colors and patterns and prints. And if you didn’t like what I laid out for you, you stripped down and refused,” said my mother on my sartorial decisions as a five-year old.
Those are my mother’s words. I just called and talk to her to make sure I didn’t misquote her. Gotta fact-check, y’all.
I grew up on the edge of the suburban frontier with a cow pasture at the end of my street and a general store a few blocks away. My wardrobe was a mix of function and fashion. Overalls to go down to the creek, but bright and obnoxious. T-shirts, jumpers and backpacks, but slathered in with colors and prints and anything that would be able to be spotted from a distance had I wandered off in the mall or down the street.
But first, let’s take a moment to look how effing happy I am in the first photo on that swinging horse with my bright pink Nickeldeon T-shirt.
Left to right: 1) Pure joy: obnoxious t-shirt, swinging on a horse, full of glee. 2) It’s no surprise that I was an early adopter of photo bombing. 3) Acid wash denim jacket? Yes. Do I have acid wash anything right now? Yes. I also feel like this similar pose has surfaced on the Midwestyle.

I guess you could say I formed my personal sense of style from my environment. I was a raised on healthy doses of ’90s television injected everyday with my buddies from Saved by Bell, Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, All That! and anything that covered serious issues involving tweens. Although my mom picked out my clothes in my youth, I took the reins once my brain began to form. Clearly my style didn’t change once I was able to pick out my own Osh Kosh B’Gosh patterned shorts and Bugle Buy jeans.

Left to right: 1) Comb over, blue blazer, white OCBD and paisley tie. Swag, ya’ll. 2) Being a little brother has its expectations and drawbacks, such as being the one suggested to stick your head in a crocodile’s mouth.
I always insisted that we have costumes whenever we played games out in the yard. I’d drag out sheets from the garage to make capes and cloaks for our neighborhood battle royales. Whether it was playing out in the neighborhood with Nerf guns in my elementary days or the yearly Halloween “What do I wear?” issue in my teens, I was always the first and eager to respond to this crisis.
Take notes on the business dress code in my preschool Christmas recital. Singing in front of an audience is a tough gig. Imagine not looking fly in a tie when you’re five. These were my early white boy problems, people. Paisley or plaid.

Left to right: 1) Bright colored t-shirt again along with oversized sunglasses before girls caught on to the bug eye trend. 2) Matching plaid pants and bow tie with suspenders. Mom, I love you.


Bow ties, dinosaurs, puka shell necklaces and Abercrombie & Fitch. The perfect formula of my school pictures documenting my late streak with puberty. It seems like yesterday I was praying that I would grown underarm hair. Presently, I’m still asking for some facial hair that or my mole on my cheek would share the spare hair.

“Girl Picture!” was shouted. Naturally, my friends and I assembled into the standard co-ed pose. Seriously though, you can’t put a group of freshmen college guys together expecting that they’ll pose normally. Sorority girl pose, anyone? Left to right: Glen, Jarred, Ryan, Chad, Patrick, Myself and Zach.

Notably, I’ve had various hair styles as well. Short hair, long hair, shaved hair, dreadlocked hair.
FUN FACT: My hair is actually wavy, not straight or curly. It’s also as thick as your dad’s back hair.
BONUS FUN FACT: When treated with endless swim practices of chlorine-saturated pools and the notion that swimming in a pool equates a shower, my hair only became more dirty/curlier.

CLOTHING MATTERS, people. To be more clear, your appearance and presentation of self matters. Those impressions and first looks carry weight for your future. Even at a young age when you’re playing the most epic game of Cowboys and Indians on 113th Street against the assholes down on 110th, you gotta look fly to out-win and out-do your opponent with the most epic draping and self-tied capes.

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