Saturday, March 31, 2012

While at the mall

This weekend while you stop at Sears to pick up the tune up kit for your lawnmower, take a peek into the Lands End shop and look up these shirts.

The shirt above is traditional cut ,standard short or long sleeve, seersucker sold in real sizes (not s-m-l). $40.00

The second, much sharper looking, again sold in real sizes but is a tailored cut, so it ain't happening here. Forty five bucks.

Your mission, should you chose to accept this assignment, is to report back. The on-line reviews are mixed.


Friday, March 30, 2012

new hat for my mule

I accidently hit enter when I should have ducked, and this magically appeared in readers around the globe. I quickly erased it and woke with regrets. While not at all what I intended, it does kind of work. Gives feed for another day as well.


white shoe rule redux

Easter comes early this year, and with it the annual question of when (or if) is it ever appropriate to wear white clothing. Fair Hope, Alabama attorney David Bagwell has settled this issue once and for all with an article titled "The White Shoe Rule and Straw Hat Day". We've printed it here in the past, and will do so in the future. It's printed now in hopes of saving some of you from yourselves.


David A. Bagwell

Fifty years ago, and more, the tradition in the deep South was that beginning on Easter weekend -- well before what people now call “Memorial Day”-- it became safe to wear white pants and skirts, white shoes and spectators, and a straw hat. I lump all that light-colored stuff together into what I call “The White Shoe Rule”.

Some Southerners today don’t buy that. They say that The White Shoe Rule doesn’t start until what we now call “Memorial Day”. Most of those people seem unusually certain that they know what they are talking about.

My answer to them is that they have gradually become –apparently unknowingly, I’ll charitably grant them that– the pawns and tools of the general Yankee-fication of America. I fully understand that this is a serious charge, but as Martin Luther said, “here I stand; God help me, I can do no other”, except he said it in German.

It’s a serious fashion question, even in this time of war, and sadness, and–their first cousin– presidential politics. Maybe it’s idle and frivolous to speak of the rules of fashion, but even during war and elections, life moves on, and so must we.

So, when may we properly begin --and when must we properly stop-- the wearing of white? Good question.

Do you remember the book The Southern Belle Primer by the wonderful late Marilyn Schwartz, whose subtitle was to the effect that Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret could never get in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority because she wore white shoes in Texas the wrong time of year? I’m convinced that a lot of people misunderstand all this “White Shoe Rule” stuff, and not just the late Princess Margaret. A lot of us don’t know as much about our dress code history as we should.

Oh, sure; I know that every written source on fashion which might mention it, will say that you cannot wear white or straw hats before “Memorial Day”; we’ll get to all that in a moment. But all those books are written by Yankees. What you will read in those books is just – out with it now – just the Yankee rules. In the South, ours were always different, and they still are, unless we are morphing into Yankees, as some of us are.

Of course nobody should wear white all of the time. In 1880 Mark Twain wrote of his character Colonel Grangerford that “every day of his life he put on a clean shirt and a full suit from head to toe made out of linen so white it hurt your eyes to look at it.” But every day? Even in winter? In deepest winter, now, you’ll obviously make a spectacle of yourself in white. On December 7, 1906, when Mark Twain went to a copyright law hearing in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.– in December in Washington, mind you– he wore a suit of white wool flannels, not white linen. But the ruckus he raised by wearing a white suit in Washington in the winter landed him in stories in the New York Times, Herald, and Tribune the next morning. Of course, his point about copyrights was in the article, too, which just goes to show you that clothing can not only make a fashion statement, it can also help your substantive statement get published. Twain said funereally that “when a man reaches the advanced age of 71 years as I have, the continual sight of dark clothing is likely to have a depressing effect upon him”. And “a group of men in evening clothes looks like a flock of crows, and is just about as inspiring”, he said. But, if you aren’t 71 and you aren’t Mark Twain, and it is not 1906–and I’m not and it isn’t– you must pay some attention to these rules, you know. Which means that you must know what the rules are.
The first thing to understand is that there are EXCEPTIONS to all this White Shoe Rule stuff, no matter when the starting date is.

One exception is "The Southern Resort Exception". At any Southern resort, like Boca Grande or Palm Beach or farther off in Bermudan or Carribean resorts and all that, white clothes and straw hats are ALWAYS allowed, regardless of the season. My father told me that the Yankees who went to the University of Alabama with him in the early 1930s wore white shoes all winter, on the apparent theory that Tuscaloosa was a Southern resort, which is clearly twelve points off true north.

What’s a “Southern resort”, anyway, outside of Boca Grande or something? Well, probably the place where I live– Point Clear on Mobile Bay -- barely qualifies as “a Southern resort”, although locals don’t wear white shoes here in the winter. What about Charleston and Savannah and Mobile? Well, maybe, but that’s pushing it. Here on the Gulf coast in winter the “snowbirds” from Michigan and Ohio and Canada wear shorts all winter visiting here -- and shiny nylon jackets which say things like “UAW Local 312" on the back-- but snowbirds just don’t for my purpose; I mean, they’re just snowbirds, which is what we lawyers call “a lesser-included offense”. To an Englishman, any place where it is warm and not raining at that moment, is apparently considered a “Southern resort”, which is precisely how H.R.H. Princess Margaret got in such hot water out in Texas for wearing white shoes in Dallas before their time– whatever their time is in Dallas.

The second exception is “The Yacht Exception”. I am not too sure of the breadth of this exception, either, never having owned a yacht and all, but I think that weather permitting, you may always wear white clothes on a yacht, at least if you don’t change your own engine oil, and no gentleman does that. This may be a sub-theorem of the Southern Resort Rule, since one always keeps her yacht in the South during the winter, doesn't she? And, speaking of The Late Princess Margaret, since the British Royal family has sent the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA to the wreckers for scrap, I just don’t know where they wear their whites, other than maybe Dallas in a pinch. The picture on my wall of Commodore Vanderbilt on his yacht – and before “The Late Unpleasantness” his yacht was the biggest yacht in the world– shows him in black wool with fur trim, so obviously it is not de rigeur– as we say down home-- that you wear whites on your yacht in winter. What’s a yacht? Well, paraphrase what J.P. Morgan said about “if you have to ask . . . . .”. I do know that none of my little canoes and duckskiffs and kayaks and rowboats and motor skiffs is “a “yacht”, and so mostly I just wear khaki shorts.

OK, exceptions aside, what exactly is The Rule?

Well, everybody agrees on the ENDING date of The White Shoe Rule, namely, that after Labor Day, you cannot wear white pants or suit or shoes, unless you meet one of the exceptions.
It's just the BEGINNING date for The White Shoe Rule that causes the problem.

To Yankees, the rule was always-- at least after Memorial Day was declared, after the Civil War -- that you cannot wear white pants or skirts or suits or shoes until what Yankees have always called “Memorial Day”, which is of course the last Monday in May.

But then that’s Yankees. My research confirms that in general, over the South, Easter weekend – and not Memorial Day-- was the beginning for the White Shoe Rule. Remember that Easter was the day on which boys got a new white linen coat, if their parents could afford one? And white shoes? They didn’t wait until Memorial Day.

That Easter rather than Memorial Day was the starting date for The White Shoe Rule in the South is not surprising, for two reasons. First, the South obviously gets hot earlier than the North does; I mean, what level are we on? Second, what we now call “Memorial Day” was originally set up as a memorial for Union soldiers in the Civil War, and when I grew up it was called “Yankee Memorial Day”. Here in Alabama the Federal workers got a holiday on “Yankee Memorial Day”, but the State workers got the holiday on “Confederate Memorial Day”, which in Alabama was April 26th [The rest of us in the private world always worked on both Yankee Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day]. Nobody in the deep South would have dated a fashion requirement or anything else from Yankee Memorial Day; I mean, laese majesty and all that! So, Easter was it.

I told you straight-out my theory that the people who think that the first day of The White Shoe Rule is Yankee Memorial Day rather than Easter, and who are moving the fashion goalposts from Easter to Yankee Memorial Day, are just one small part of the general Yankee-fication of America. National Public Radio no less, certainly an expert on the Yankee-fication of America, reported that Texas singer “Kinky” Friedman of the singing group “Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys”-- Kinky won the “Male Chauvinist of the Year” Award of The National Organization for Women with his song “Put Your Biscuits in the Oven and Get Your Buns Back in Bed”-- ran for governor of Texas in 2006 on the platform “Stop the Wuss-ification of Texas”. Kinky lost, but that is just a small skirmish in the larger battle over the general Yankee-fication of America.

But, for some reason– I don’t know why-- Easter was not necessarily the beginning day for straw hats for men. Strangely and “counter-intuitively”, as intellectuals seem to say, there was a totally separate and clear Southern rule for straw hats, and it certainly wasn’t Yankee Memorial Day, which was far too late to switch to straw hats. There was something called “Straw Hat Day” in the old days when people wore hats, and on “Straw Hat Day” it was like some Fred Astaire musical with a chorus, and everybody in unison– men and women, but mostly men -- all doffed their felt hats and put on their straw hats.

When was “Straw Hat Day”? Well, if you research it on the internet you’ll find that people in the upper South and Maryland seem to think that there was a “National Straw Hat Day” and that it was on May 15th. Well, not so fast.

We had a “Straw hat Day” in Mobile, and in Montgomery where I grew up, and surely in many other towns, but it was not May 15th; instead, it was a moveable feast. “Straw Hat Day” in Mobile was on whatever springtime day the Mayor’s proclamation of “Straw Hat Day” said it would be, but it was always just before Easter, usually on either Maunday Thursday, or the next day on Good Friday, just in time for the spring and Easter– read: white– finery to flower. The earliest recorded Mayor’s proclamation of Straw Hat Day in Mobile that I found during lunch in the City Archives was in 1931.

Why 1931? Well, hard to say for sure, but one clue is that the Mobile Register for March 7, 1931, which said "The first straw hat of 1931 appeared on Royal and Dauphin streets yesterday, far ahead of the official advent of spring. The latest model of 'head-gear' was worn by a stylishly dressed man, who did not seem embarrassed by eyes that stared and comments made as he passed along the avenues". Maybe the notable uncertainty of the proper beginning day for straw hats, so obvious in March of 1931, prompted the male populace to demand that the Mayor set an actual beginning date for straw hats; who knows at this point? While the files are not complete, these proclamations of “Straw Hat Day” seem to have run pretty steadily from 1931 until John Kennedy ran for president in 1960, when fashionable young men decided that fashionable young men simply did not wear hats any more. If fashionable young men don’t wear hats, then there is no need for a “Straw Hat Day”.

These old Mayoral proclamations here of “Straw Hat Day” are wonderful throwbacks to another world of springtimes filled with wisteria and azaleas, usually reciting in multiple “whereases” that “Mobile is a veritable flower garden with the air scented with street perfume and the streets lined with the riotous coloring of floral displays”, that “our birds are singing everywhere and their songs are the harbingers of new life and springtime”, noting the date of the Mobile Bears’ opening game and pointedly proclaiming that the proper hat to be worn at all baseball games “is a STRAW hat” – note that it is not a baseball cap– and declaring “Straw Hat Week”. “All citizens of the city”-- and not just men-- were “urged to put away their winter chapeaux and to replace them with sparkling new STRAW HATS”. So straw hat day was always just before Easter. Attention Yankees and the running dogs of Yankees: “Straw Hat Day” in the South never had anything to do with Yankee Memorial Day.

I’m not the guy to talk about women’s Mardi Gras finery in Mobile and New Orleans, other than admiring it and paying for it, but everybody knows that women beat Easter to the punch by forty or more days during Mardi Gras, wearing light clothes and straw hats.

But, then in the fall, the Southern cities would flip back, on some designated day about a month after Labor Day, proclaimed by the Mayor and City Commission to be called “Felt Hat Day”.
And, it’s worth noting in passing – since it is clearly forgotten by most of us– that there were official Mayoral proclamations banning suits and coats in the daytime in the summer, beginning about July 1st. Apparently the “Coats Off Campaign” in late summer was started by the Junior Chamber of Commerce just after WWII, and by the middle 1950s Southern mayors often proclaimed that beginning on “Sport Shirt Day” on July 1st or 2nd or something, and usually running all summer until the official first day of fall on September 21, “the proper, modest and polite attire for gentlemen in the City [shall] be and the same is hereby declared to be a neat, lightweight sports shirt instead of coat and necktie for all occasions from sunrise to sunset, and also proper evening attire except for formal occasions”. Now, why in the world was that ever abandoned in the South? Obviously the advent of air conditioning nipped it, but still, that is a tradition that Southerners ought to have preserved, just as they ought to have preserved more old buildings and houses and all of that. Here in Fairhope we still have a sportshirt tradition in both the summer and the winter, and we impart this tradition to our sons and grandsons in Homeric song before the fire of an evening. It might be our role to do that now, and so I now heartily recommend to all, wherever they live, that they go back to the sound traditions of their fathers and grandfathers, and not be unsound on the sportshirt question.

Now, admittedly, this fashion stuff was mostly higher- income people in the first place, and whether or not this date was observed by a man plowing a mule –switching his and his mule’s hats from the wool hat to the straw hat– I just cannot say for sure. But I can say for sure that a man who wore a felt hat until Yankee Memorial Day looked pretty strange on a Southern street. Or, a man who even recognized Yankee Memorial Day, for that matter.

But these rules seem to be moving fast. Friends who know, say that at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans, plenty of the horse owners in the winners’ circle wear white suits in the early spring, even shortly after Mardi Gras. Maybe New Orleans always started wearing white after Mardi Gras; I don’t know, or maybe even never stopped wearing white? Is New Orleans a “Southern resort”? But, why-oh-why do New Orleanians have to wear those black shoes and bright shirts and ties with their white suits; it’s Atticus Finch morphing into “Fast Eddie’s Used Cars”, for heavens’ sakes.

The edges of The White Shoe Rule are increasingly ragged. In the women’s fashion field there is some analog to “Moore’s Law” in computers, such that the rapidity of changes in fashion trends tends to multiply by a factor of four every three years, or something. Attractive young women in high fashion who are inexplicably close to me report that “modern fashionistas wear white year-round to get that ‘edgy look’ as they call it”, not following any rule but their own. Examples?

Wearing white leather boots in the winter, for instance; obviously not meant for summer, but still white. The apparent idea of “edginess” is “intentional fashion faux pas”. But, the edgy look of white shoes year round can only be pulled off by those who are, you know–edgy. “On the average woman, it will simply look like someone who didn’t quite know whether it was Easter or Memorial Day yet.” Which is still better than those white patent shoes and belt on Fast Eddie’s used car lot, and all. Whether white rubber boots on a shrimper are “edgy” or not, I’ll let you decide; I mean, some of these questions are pretty far out.

Well, I don’t have a yacht, and I’m not too sure this is a southern resort, but for my money, white clothes are OK from Easter through Labor Day, on clear days anyway, and being reasonable about it, like “OK at garden parties but not funerals”. Suit yourself, but if you don’t agree, then you may well be a Yankee.

David Bagwell lives in Point Clear, Alabama, and has his own "White Shoe Law Firm" in Fairhope. In almost six decades he has never lived outside the South, although he once spent most of a year traveling around the world on a Fellowship to study international business, during which he almost always wore a suit, but never a white suit or white shoes, since the message of a white suit in -say-Rangoon or Calcutta, or even Marseilles, might convey a different messsage than intended.

Thank you again David.


PS: An email from David says the Straw Hat Day in Fairhope is next Thursday

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Robert Falcon Scott's death centennial and auction

"...I hope this may reach you - I fear we must go and that it leaves the Expedition in a bad muddle - But we have been to the Pole and we shall die like gentlemen - I regret only for the women we leave behind... If this diary is found it will show how we stuck by dying companions and fought this thing out well to the end. I think this will show that the spirit of pluck and the power to endure has not passed out of the race - If recognition of this fact can be given by people will you please do your best to have our people looked after, those dependent on us. I have my wife and child to think of... I am sure you will do your best to see this provision made... Wilson, the best fellow that ever stepped, who has sacrificed himself again and again to the sick men of the party, leaves a widow entirely destitute. Surely something ought to be done for her and for the humble widow of Edgar Evans... We very nearly came through and it's a pity to have missed it, but lately I have felt that we have overshot the mark - no one else is to blame and I hope not attempt will be made to suggest that we lacked support..."

Explorers, adventurers, scientists and armchair travelers have spent countless hours examining arguing, and dissecting Robert Falcon Scott's final Antarctic expedition. Today, based upon the last date in his diary and final letters, is believed to be the centenary of his death.

The letter above was found on Scott's body and was meant for Sir Edgar Speyer's the expedition's treasurer, and is for sale.

Tomorrow, at 2 pm London time Bonhams Auction House is holding a Polar sale, filled with items that belonged, accompanied or told the story of, most of the earliest polar expeditions. Scott's final farewell is the star attraction. Telephone action most certainly welcome.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Same thing only different

From Linen for Summer, Tweed for Winter

In The Eye of the Beholder

Michael Bastain by Mister Mort

Many men worship at the altar of Michael Bastain. I don't blame them, Mr. B is a rare talent, who usually designs clothing that real adult men can actually wear.

The photo above, taken by Mister Mort, shows Michael during NY Fashion Week wearing a fashionably short, shawl collared, double breasted herringbone number. He had me at the shawl. Perhaps missing a button or two.


Monday, March 26, 2012


Today is Tennessee Williams 101 birthday. After a celebratory brunch Mrs. T and I explored our city searching for Tom's boyhood homes. Born in Mississippi, he frequently ranted about how much he hated living in St. Louis. He softened as he aged, believing he probably gave the town a bad rap, and concluded by saying he probably would have hated wherever he lived. Many an ambitious lad feels the same.

When his family moved to St. Louis they lived on the third floor of this apartment building.

In my youth, the building was known as The Glass Menagerie. An update and conversion to condo's in the 1990's rated a new name, now it is called The Tennessee. Space is available.

As the family fortunes fell, the Williams moved into an apartment house, in a seedier neighborhood, several blocks west. The neighborhood is now a mix of rundown public housing, student housing and gentrification. Williams' building was torn down and replaced by a eyesore, now part of a public housing complex.

Tom's brother Dakin, who could be cajoled into saying anything in print, so long as you spelled his name correctly, described life there as the setting for "The Glass Menagerie". It must have been grim.

Tom escaped family life by enrolling at the University of Missouri. He lasted three years before family support stopped. In 1935 he enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis and moved into this house. William James Smiths "My Friend Tom" describes life in this house well. I'd live quite happily here in a minute. It's a lovely neighborhood, but the nearest grocery store is miles away.

Williams now lives around the corner from my grandparents. They say he doesn't get out much any more.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

first cocktail party

A frequent refrain in our house, as I watch the occasional history program on the telly, comes from my bride. "That's horse hockey" she'll say (or something that means the same)"they don't know that."

This may be one of those stories. I have no idea how anthropologist's do their thing, but according to then contemporary, learned sources, on Sunday March 25, 1917, former Lexington, Kentucky girl, Mrs. Julius S. Walsh (Clara) of St. Louis, Missouri held the FIRST ever cocktail party, for 50 guests at her home, which was located within walking distance from where I type this.

Says the St. Paul Pioneer Press: Clover Leafs, Highballs, Gin Fizzes, Bronx cocktails, Martinis and Manhattans were served.

In honor of the momentous occasion and to honor the Suburban Princess who's natal day is today, let us give thanks, and wishes for many happy returns, or as they once said on this date, Happy New Year.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tichborne Dole- Redux

This story will become an annual tradition.

Tichborne Dole-1671

As the New Yorker says, there will always be an England. This is one of the thousands of reasons why. The Tichborne dole, predating the Plague by 200 years, dates from 1150 during the reign of England's King Henry II (1133-89).

Held every Lady's Day, March 25th, regardless of the day of the week, some two tons of high-grade self-raising flour is dispensed to families in Tichborne, Cheriton and Lane End. Villagers bring carrier bags, pillow cases and any other suitable receptacle. Their booty - a family of six merits the maximum of 28lbs - is particularly welcome to the elderly and needy.

Before the flour is apportioned it is blessed and the huge flour box is sprinkled with incense and holy water. Then a blessing is made on the soul of Lady Mabel Tichborne, who started it all.

Lady Mabel, a woman noted for her charity and piety, was married to Roger de Tichborne (the Tichborne's and their descendants have owned Tichborne Manor since 909). As much as Mabel was pious, her husband Roger was her opposite. Even the imminent death of his wife failed to arouse his compassion.

Mabel's last request that the value of a small portion of the Tichborne estates be given annually to the poor of the parish in the form of a dole, was poorly received by Roger. No supporter of charity, Roger answered his dying wife's plea by saying that he would agree to give every year, the value of as much land as she could encircle while holding a burning torch to light her way. March being windy, she being lame and near death, Roger felt he was playing a strong hand.

Mabel's curse

Legend has it that the wind abated, as Mabel crawled around 23 acres of land, while carrying the burning ember, after which she charged her husband and his heirs to forever give the produce value of that land to the poor. To this day there is a a field at Tichborne known as "The Crawls."

Mabel added a rider to her demand. She said that should the dole ever be stopped then seven sons would be born to the house, followed immediately by a generation of seven daughters, after which the name would die out and the ancient house fall into ruin.

The custom of giving the dole, in the form of bread, continued unbroken until 1794, when having had forgotten the curse, Sir Henry Tichborne, father of seven sons, stopped the dole.

In 1802, George, his sixth son, died at the age of 13; and the same year the old house partly fell and was partly pulled down. Four years later, John, the fifth son died unmarried in the East Indies. Another four years saw Benjamin, the second son, die in China. He, too, had been a bachelor. A few years later, seventh son Roger died. He was married without children. However, Henry, the eldest son, managed to father seven children - all girls.

Edward, the third son, changed his name to Doughty in 1826. He produced the male heir so badly needed. But in 1835 his son, the six-year-old Henry suddenly died. Edward Doughty immediately revived the Dole.

James, the fourth son, had married in 1827 and produced two sons, one born before and the other after the restoration of the Dole. The eldest, Roger Charles Tichborne, was lost at sea in 1845.

Alfred Joseph, the youngest of James's sons, born after the revival, was the only one to survive Mabel's deathbed curse. The family line continued until July 1968 when the last Baronet, Sir Anthony Doughty-Tichborne died without a male descendant. The family estate has since passed through the female line, and the crumbling manor house is now available for rent. Death duties and divorce are taking their toll. Yet the dole will be held tomorrow.

True story.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The joke is on me

Horizontal stripes are in for Spring

Ghurka trousers

Car guys call it a "ten footer". When expressed as "it's a ten footer", it means that from 10 feet that car doesn't look bad, but as you come closer.... Camilla Parker Rolls is a 10 footer on her off days, so am I.

Sadly, I really love it, it fits perfectly, and like lingerie has a few Toadisms that only I know. I've spent too much time trying to convince myself that no one will notice the direction of the weave. It's enough that I know, and I can't escape that. Maybe if I only wore it at night.

The lining is from an old sari.

I had ordered replacement fabric, but couldn't bring myself to deliver it. The new suit would forever be tarnished by the memory of its other. Better to move on. Before consigning this suit to the island of misfit toys, I felt it deserved an airing. Go ahead and laugh. I did. It's a ten footer.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

zone maps

Every few years the US Department of Agriculture revises their Plant Hardiness Zone maps. The maps are an invaluable resource to gardeners and nurseries, and are a reliable guide for understanding what plants are able to overwinter in a particular area of the country. Its folly to attempt to create a garden of plants that won't thrive in your neighborhood. The maps are revised, and provide anecdotal evidence to non-believers, that winter temperatures in the US are on the rise.

When I began gardening in the early 90's all of Missouri was situated in USDA Zone 5, which meant that winter low temperatures would hit -10 degree Fahrenheit (-23 C). Today, the same garden sits in Zone 6, with winter low temps 5-10 degree warmer. Since the 1990's map, zone changes have inched northwards 10 miles per year.

I have always wanted a southern garden but I like it here and and am unwilling to move. However, if the current rate of change continues, the Fashionista can spend her dotage with a New Orleans garden without having to leave home.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caveat Emptor

Today's subtle reminder is targeted for the younger gentlemen. Women know this intuitively. Boys do not.

Regardless whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere the weather is changing. For convenience sake I'll focus on the northern hemisphere's drift into spring, but the same rules apply if your down there somewhere.

By now you've grown tired of last season's clothes, so with a spring in your step and coin in your pocket you feel a want to update your wardrobe to accommodate the coming season. This is right and just, but pay attention. No one is out to getcha, everything is in plain sight, I'm warning you not to fall for something pretty without looking.

Every garment sold has a care label sewn onto it. Before buying that shirt or pair of pants, find the label,

read it,

understand it.

and decide if you can live within its means. When in doubt ask.

If you normally launder your shirts and pants hoping the wrinkles will fall out on their own and the care label says dry clean only, you are going to be sorely disappointed when the washer ruins your clothing, and there is little value for money if your new favorite outfit spends more time at the cleaners than in your closet. Especially if you visit the cleaners less often than the dentist.

Most garments are OK, but be especially watchful when shopping on EBAY and for anything, especially Spring pants with a bit of silk in it.


Monday, March 19, 2012


My child bride is significantly younger than I, several years at least. That's a lot of time to make up, especially when, like she, you grow up on a distant galaxy. Because Mrs. T kept her head in a book while a youth on whatever galaxy, I am forever having to explain 50's and 60's Planet Earth pop culture icons to her. Take yesterday for example.

While watching the basement carpets dry, she announced that verily she missed "I Love My Carpet" a powered carpet deodorizer that has been around since the invention of wall to wall carpeting.

I was met with a blank stare by Mrs. T and the Fashionista when I said, "you mean Psssssst for rugs?" Surely, you remember Psssssst. Not having sisters I'm playing this hand from secondhand memory, so bear with me.

Once upon a time, (the mid 1960's?) Psssssst was introduced to the world as a spray- on dry shampoo for girls who wanted an extra day between hair washing, after sports (pre-title 9) or while camping. As memory serves, it was an aerosol talc, that worked as long as you didn't comb or brush your hair and you weren't overly concerned that your head suddenly turned ashen. While "fragrance free", the wet dog smell was easily covered with liberal doses of Youth Dew.

I don't know if the product ever went away, but it is still available at Walgreens.


Sunday, March 18, 2012


You will be so jealous.

Friday afternoon there was a knock at the door. Mrs. T answered and yelled to me,"the man is here to ruin your weekend." I'm thinking the sheriff, a process server, but all I can see is a UPS truck and its driver lugging a large box.

Unbeknownst to me, I have long lusted for a rug cleaner to call my very own, but living in a house with hardwood floors I was too shy to express my feelings. My beloved bride however sensed my hidden desire and made certain to shorten my bucket list the day before Amateur Day, and what was forecast to be the first dry, warm, weekend in a month.

Red, as we call my new rug scrubber, is an Oreck XL something or other. It's nimble, easy to use, and works very well, especially if you improvise and add steps 4,5 and 6 which Oreck fails to mention in their manual.

Like a dunce, I worked too hard and made it look too easy straight out of the box. I needlessly raised expectations of my output well beyond what was necessary. Now I'm told if I work just as hard today as yesterday, I'll finish the basement carpeting tomorrow. Tuesday I can begin the upholstery.


You can borrow it whenever you want, after Wednesday. No, I won't deliver and while I may be well trained in this model I am unlikely to do yours. You would find the price prohibitive.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Famine Hunger

An excerpt from "The Famine Hunger" by Padraig Haugh

Irish Americans as you stand by me, you are heroes one and all
Your great grandparents were fortunate they didn't fall
In the famine back in Ireland, they got on the coffin ships
You are everlasting monuments to their memory,
your heritage must never slip.

Cholera was an epidemic both in land and sea
On the voyage from Ireland, buried in the deep
They are the ones who made it struggling to their shore
To mark the stars an stripes their flag forever more.

--from Kiawah Island Legends Magazine vol 23.

Happy St. Patrick's day. Avoid the amateurs at all costs. Come back to us safe and sound.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Odds and Ends

I. Car stuff:

Since I drive a car that is as likely to hurt me while it sits in the garage as while on the road, this falls into a "do as I say, not as I do" category. I have been a car guy most of my life. Mrs. T has just about broken me of it, but occasionally I still get revved up about a car. Also, I have long liked Volvo's, even the wagon we had in the mid '80's.

At the Chicago Auto Show, John Maloney president and CEO of Volvo North America pledged that NO ONE will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.

When's the last time you heard a car company stick their neck out like that?

II. More Car News

From the Vanity Fair Daily Blog, an interview with Shaquille O'Neal about his first impulse purchase upon entering the NBA.

"Though no angel on the court, the man known as “the Diesel” or “the Big Aristotle” is gentle and amusing off it—and an impulsive shopper, no doubt. I asked him to relate the story of the time he bought three Bentleys on a whim.

“I was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, and there’s a Rolls-Royce dealership in Beverly Hills. I always used to ride by it,” he began. “But one day I just went in. Mike Tyson was in there buying a couple of Bentleys. I had on some shorts and a tank top and flip-flops, and I said to the salesman, ‘Sir, how much does this one cost?’ He said, ‘Can you afford it, sonny boy?’ I was so upset that I bought three Bentleys right there on the spot.”

He was too tall, however, to fit into their driver’s seat. “A million dollars gone in 10 minutes,” he added, quite disapprovingly."

III. In a odd way this kinda sounds like fun

"Unique opportunity to acquire an entire town, along with the Buford Trading post, an income-producing convenience and fuel store. Included in the auction are 10+/- acres of land, five buildings including a 3 bedroom home, United States post office boxes, plow and three vehicles. There is also a Union Wireless cellular tower with lease, and parking area previously used by an overnight shipping company for nighttime trailer switches."

The seller maintains 1000 people a day hit the Trading Post. The town also comes with its own zip code. Since there are no other residents, the zip is all yours. How cool is that?

Offers near (USD ) $100, 000 can make it yours. It's a shame that you'd probably have to live there full time, since if managed well this might actually pay off.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shooting Sticks

The Gizmo my friend is balanced upon is called a shooting stick or seat stick.

They are lightweight, fabulous perches for those who while away in the out of doors, or in the malls. Also, as the name implies useful for hunters. Highly recommended.


To do, or not to do

I have a milestone birthday fast approaching, one that separates the men from the boys, one which got me thinking it's time to retire my avatar, my mid 1980's vision of myself, as highlighted in Norman Hilton's then contemporary advertising. I'm considering something more age appropriate, yet something I can grow into. Hopefully, just as dapper, just as sporting, just as youthful in outlook. The same guy, only more so. What do you think? He's from an old Esquire magazine piece.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Nick

I nearly forgot grandson Nick's 13th birthday which is today. He is celebrating by having a cast put on his arm.

What do the simple folk do?

My campaign to enlist Carla as Mrs. T's sister wife was making progress of a sort hit until Mme. Sarkozy chimed in. While pandering/ electioneering, to the French masses in order to keep her husband in office, Carla announced with a straight face, that she and he were just simple, stay at home folk, and they much preferred living in her home in the Paris suburbs than The Elysee Palace, the traditional home of the French President. Their idea of the perfect night was spent watching a DVD at home. Cue the Camelot soundtrack!

" In a recent PR exercise to show how ordinary the presidential couple are, Bruni told a TV magazine she liked to sit on the sofa watching soap operas and the French equivalent of Pop Idol, despite Sarkozy vaunting a new-found love of watching DVDs of European arthouse films."-The Guardian

I was crestfallen. If that's her idea of a good time she'd fit in well, but it's not what I had hoped. I expected she would have been more outgoing, engaging, perhaps even entertaining.

While attempting to get through Midnight in Paris over the weekend, Mrs. T's threatened murder and claimed she didn't want some glitzy show girl as our wife. In my heart I know she's right, I wouldn't have the time, desire or energy anyway. I'm so over her. Another great plan killed by reality.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

douglas adams

Remember The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Today would have been its author, Douglas Adams', 60th birthday. He is buried at London's Highgate Cemetery.


American's, Spring Forward this morning ASAP

3 in 1

Mayberry's largest suburb, the City of Saint Louis,Missouri was founded in 1764 by 2 lost French Canadian fur trappers. Situated on the confluence of what are now known as the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, it was a good place to trap, so they stayed.

During the 1700's depending upon the fortunes of war and marriage the royal cousins, rulers of France and Spain traded ownership of the ground underneath the new city every 30 years or so. During the later years of the 18th century Saint Louis was in Spanish territory. (The land our home sits on was first deeded as part of a Spanish land grant.) France took over in 1800 but couldn't be bothered and left local governance to the resident Spanish authorities, until Napoleon sold its American territories to the fledgling United States in 1803.

It took time for the news to travel. On March 9, 1804 the Spanish flag which normally flew over St. Louis was finally lowered for the last time. To honor the locals the French tri-color was briefly raised then lowered after which the Stars and Stripes was raised. For one day, the city lived under the flags of 3 countries.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Maybe-Maybe Not

Are we so evolved that swimwear detergent has become deriguer?

From the wonderful folks at Roux Maison


Friday, March 9, 2012

vita sackville west

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of British writer, wife, lover, mother and gardener Vita Sackville West. May her memory be preserved forever.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

On this date in 1978, at 1030 GMT, BBC4 radio aired the first episode of Douglas Adams' A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Each anniversary day is treated like Bloomsday in our household with readings and airings of the broadcasts. Having had enough, my long suffering bride usually leaves home for the afternoon around 2. Many thanks Mr. Adams.


More spring things

There is a wonderful book of men's clothing, Anderson and Sheppard-A Style is Born edited by Graydon Carter and Cullen Murphy which highlights the 100 year history of the venerable Savile Row tailors, Anderson and Sheppard and their illustrious clients. It has become one of my style favorites.

I stole several ideas, (not including the horizontal striped suit) from them during my recent trip to the alchemist including the Ghurka pants worn by Mr. Fiennes in the photo above. I hate wearing braces in the summer and Ghurka pants seemed just the thing for a lightweight casual suit. This Spring I've noticed that Gurkha's are back!

They never really went completely away, What Price Glory have long carried Ghurka shorts and pants in stock. I've tried the shorts, and liked them, but you must follow their instructions and buy them a size larger than normal.

J. Peterman is showing Ghurka pants and shorts in its Spring catalog (#94)

The best value may be on EBAY. J L Powell is offering their linen, flat front or pleated Ghurka shorts for $69 (US) Buy it Now.

With Daylight Saving Time coming this weekend I'm trying to get a jump on Spring.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First fitting-White on White

"After our tete a tete, I believe I've figured out why so many men are disappointed with the clothes they have tailored. They simply don't put enough work on the front side to be able to articulate what they truly hope to receive on their backsides." Feb 13, 2012

Today was first fitting for the White on White seersucker suit day. I left the alchemist's not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Either would have helped.

"I spent a week prior to our meeting, stealing ideas from sources far and wide, measuring my favorite clothes, then making, bringing and leaving a copy behind, with photos, of my list of wants, to ensure that nothing significant was left to chance. I have little expectation that it will work, but I'm learning as I go along. I hope I'm not disappointed if all goes as well as planned." Feb 13,2012

"Significant" is the operative word here, it is a pliable word. What is significant to you may not be to me. What's significant to me may not be to the alchemist. I left out a biggie.

After exchanging fulsome greetings I said to the alchemist, "Dazzle me", and he did. I won't make excuses for him. I blame only myself. He isn't from here, he arrived on our shores from some distant post in communist Eastern Europe. His English language skills are better than my eastern European, and he cuts and sews like a madman, but occasionally nuance skips right on by.

I was dazzled. I slipped on the best fitting suit I have ever worn. I felt like Jeremy Irons looks, but it was 100%, entirely, positively unwearably, wrong. He saw my disappointment and was hurt. "What's d'matta?" he asked.

Fat men do not wear horizontally striped seersucker, even when it's white on white. Imagine a suit that looks like a Martha Washington blanket.

I've reordered the fabric and we shall begin again. May all my problems be so easily solved.