Thursday, December 31, 2009

Archives - Detente With Hippie, 1972

I came across this shot of yours truly and my best friend Michael, April 1972. Michael's parents let him wear his hair long and he had flowery hippie shirts. I got away with messy but short hair, but the buttondown collar was here to stay.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Archives - Postwar tourists

My father (left) and uncle in Spain, ca.1947.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Archives - Mom Whoops It Up

My mother, about age 20, dancing with a neighbor who looks to me like he's wearing a suit coat and different trousers, Christmas, 1956, in Hartsdale, N.Y.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Archival Style

My grandfather in the middle, and great-uncles and such on either side. Shot sometime in the 1920s.

Seems they anticipated the ESPN anchorman style with the jackets done all the way up.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Morons Seek Jungle Setting

"Slaves of the Cannibal God" (1978) is an indifferent entry in the "Stupid White People in the Jungle" genre. Ursula Andress, looking like the Bride of Wildenstein, and Stacy Keach star in this feeble tale of a woman supposedly looking for her lost brother in New Guinea, but really after uranium deposits.

Lots of stock animal footage. A heavily made up (and hosed down) Ursula, with concomitant safari-shirt gazongitation tease. Bad teeth. Ritual sacrifice of iguana, and subsequent rejoicing. Two quarts blood, some used as sauce. Flesh-eating. Cannibal dwarf. Bad dubbing. Croc horror.

Way too much plot getting away of the story, and minus one full star for not showing Ms. Andress' upper torso nekkid.

Two and a half coils

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tweed Body Armor

This elderly Brooks Bros. tweed suit is one tough garment. It could be worn skiing, it's that thick.

The fabric repels water, snow, ice, mud — and snotty remarks.

I think the shoes are a little too sleek for this suit. Should have worn gunboats.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home On Deranged

A tender moment in the shed with Ez and Sally

Deranged (1974) is a goober version of Psycho, with Ezra the weird farm boy as the backwoods Norman Bates. (Both flicks were inspired by the Ed Gein case.)

Ezra's domineering mama dies, but not before warning the boy about wicked wimmen. And after about a year in the ground, Ez digs her up for company.

'Course, she smells a bit, so he bones up on his taxidermy and embalming. Eventually he collects a whole set of corpses, nicely arranged around the dining room table.

Which comes as a nasty surprise for Mary the barmaid.

This is a surprisingly good film, with some dark comedy and a fair bit of glop. We've got dead bodies galore; one newly dead body, upside down; one barmaid in her skivvies; one fat lady at a seance; deer hunters; girl stuck in bear trap; demonstration of proper corpse dressing. Two breasts, recently dead. The cheesy narration by the newspaper columnist with the bad necktie kinda seals the deal and makes Deranged a solid three-coiler.

Ez putting on a happy face for his mama

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So Bad It's...Bad

A tender moment and plaid pants fail to save Zombiegeddon from abject suckitude

Sometimes bad movies are exactly that — bad. Which is why the tagline of this blog used to be "I Watch the World's Worst Movies...So You Don't Have To."

So as a public service, I offer the following comments:

Don't waste your time watching Zombiegeddon. Even for a Troma film it's bad. Somebody please tell Lloyd Kaufman that a superficial resemblance to Mel Brooks does not make him funny.

Also skip Girls Nite Out, a college slasher that held initial promise as it was made in the mid-80s (the Golden Age of the Splatter Flick) and stars the relentlessly cheesy Hal Holbrook.

Alas, it is an incoherent mess with no redeeming anything.

I went to college in the early 1980s and I promise you if it had been like this I too would have donned a dancing bear suit and killed as many of these tools as possible.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just In Time for Copenhagen Style

Warm and sunny today in NW Connecticut — clearly the result of man-made global warming from old trucks like this 1983 Ford F100 which I insist on keeping around, the better to exploit the world's resources.

Why? Because I am Eee-ville.

This J. Press jacket is kind of an odd duck — a 3/2 sack with twin vents. I grabbed last winter at the Washington store, where it was languishing on a rack of odds and ends. I forget what kind of a deal they gave me but even I could swing it. (Eee-ville just doesn't pay like it once did.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving style

A grey day. Wore a red vest to avoid getting shot by hunters. Putting up the canoe and buttoning down the camp. Sometimes a boring holiday is best. Made traditional Pilgrim fare (macaroni and cheese and a hot dog) and watched bad football.

Grey logoless LL Bean sweatshirt is one of the best deals out there these days. As is basic Lands End down vest.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Got a Wang?

Check out Kent Wang's new website, which is much easier to use than the old one. He's got a knit tie I covet (above).

KW pocket squares and cufflinks are very affordable, and entirely unique.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of sending business the way of the small outfits that are run by enthusiasts. This is how things change — from the bottom up. Eventually the Establishment has to take notice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Slowly but surely...The Winter Look

The transition between fall and winter has been gradual this year, so I am adding (or subtracting) layers and heft as needed. A Donegal tweed jacket from J. Press, partially lined, heavyish widewale cords from Lands End are on the warmer side; a Press pinpoint shirt and Sebago pennies are a nod to the relative balminess of the day.

I was trying to look like an industrial spy but the net effect is more low-level tax dodger, I'm afraid.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Take the Blue Out of Jeans

I agree with Dr. Hobson — jeans are much better if they are not blue.

I'm leaning — literally — toward grey as the preferred color.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Peter Gunn — Ivy Noir


Episodes of Blake Edwards' late 1950s TV series Peter Gunn are available on DVD, and for fans of film noir and/or natty dressing they are indispensable.

Craig Stevens does a passable Cary Grant imitation, both in style and manner, and the series is beautifully shot. Lots of secondhand smoke and jazz lingo.

Stevens was wearing a buttondown collar with French cuffs in the second episode I watched. Made it look good, too.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting My Ya-Yas Out Again

I've listened to Get Yer Ya Ya's Out approximately 80 bazillion times but I never noticed Mick Taylor's sly little rhythm guitar bit on "Sympathy For the Devil" before hearing the remastered CD version.

Swallowed up on the LP, Taylor snuck in a little Stax-y, Steve Cropperesque fillip at the end of each verse (after the simple barre chord pattern that every beginning guitar player learned absolutely first thing out of the box ca. 1981).

The anniversary set also has a short disc of okay unreleased Stones (including a fairly frantic "Satisfaction"), a disc of B.B. King and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue — great stuff but you wonder what the Stoned crowd made of it — and a DVD of leftovers from the Maysles film "Gimme Shelter," including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards doing an incredibly out of tune "Prodigal Son" and some fun with a donkey.

Ya-Yas proper is still a great record. The mix improves Bill Wyman's bass as well, and he is suprisingly busy on the Chuck Berry covers.

Forget whatever it is the Stones have devolved into, get this set, and remember what it was like when giants roamed the earth.

PS: The CD box set also comes with a little hardcover book that includes Lester Bangs' review from Rolling Stone. Bangs was the H.L. Mencken of rock and roll writing. Or something.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hooray for Global Warming

I'll take this in November. Nice enough for lightweight chinos, breezy enough for a partially lined tweed jacket. Just wish I could be going fishing instead of frowsting about in the newsroom and, later, at the town hall in Falls Village, Conn.

Which is why I am stamping around looking annoyed.

The skinny:

Two-button tweed jacket, a sack, no less, from Eljo's in Charlottesville, Va. Brooks Brothers shirt and grenadine tie by Sam Hober. Cheap chinos by Lands End, and shoes from the late great Footjoy, purveyor of decent middlebrow footwear.

And a Wang in my pocket.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

iGent of the Century

Here's a movie for all the Walter Mittys of the online men's clothing forums — Adam Abraham's 1999 Man of the Century.

Co-writer Gibson Frazier plays Johnny Twennies, who writes and speaks from the Ring Lardner/Damon Runyon Handbook, and dresses as the big town's premier columnist should, circa 1923.

Unfortunately, it's 1998.

This disparity doesn't ruffle Johnny's club collar in the least, and he cheerfully plows through modern New York, a wisecracking, walking anachronism.

There's a plot, and music, and fantasy, and it's all very amusing and more or less clean.

And those guys sometimes derisively referred to as the "iGentry" should take a look at this film — just to be sure they're not getting a little too caught up in the style thing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

M Squad and the High Roll, Unvented Sack

I can't find a decent shot of Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Bellinger from "M Squad" — one that shows off the unvented, 3 roll 2.5 sack suit (with single forward pleats on the trousers).

This late 1950s cop drama is pretty good, with a jazzy soundtrack and plenty of low-key lighting.

And Lee Marvin barging around Chicago in this excellent suit. More like a modern high-roll three-button in some ways, with the lack of a vent and a little more shoulder than an Ivy purist would like.

But I looked carefully at a couple of well-lit shots with the aid of my fine cheap DVD player's pause and zoom features, and this jacket is not darted. The top button rolls over, but just barely.

He also wears a stingy brim fedora.

The net effect is surprisingly contemporary. The guys at Thick As Thieves might want to check out "M Squad" from NetFlix.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Hat and Other Autumnal Stuff

Lower Lake camps from Bald Peak

Duck butt (shot from the Rail Trail between Salisbury and Lakeville)

Fat slob in new hat

The Village Hat Shop has these walkers from New Zealand. I'd been looking for something more casual, and this is almost bookie-like.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hitler Under Glass

The Madmen of Mandoras (or They Saved Hitler's Brain) provides a rare treat for conspiracy buffs who have long suspected some dirty work at the bunker in April of 1945.

In this scenario, a team of scientists preserve Hitler's brain and take it to South America. And because a brain with a mustache would look silly and not at all dictatorial, they save his entire head.

The DVD has two versions of the film — one with a silly sister in Capri pants who teaches the Mandorans aboutrock and roll, and one with a team of dopey secret agents who get killed off in short order by the evil Mandoran gang, who look like The Blues Brothers.

Both versions are short.

Lots of dungeons, and because they are below the Equator, the swastika is backwards. Lotsa laffs, especially when they've got Hitler under glass in the back seat of the Packard (below). Three coils.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catskill Fishing Report

Signs (official and otherwise) along the Esopus warn of didymo and offer cleaning suggestions

I took my week off and headed for the Catskill camp, in Phoenicia, N.Y. I have nothing but good news.

First off, the heavy rains earlier this summer seem to have done a number on the rock snot (didymo, a nuisance algae that is popping up in Eastern rivers).

Dave Kumlien of Trout Unlimited told me back in May that while there is no remedy for rock snot, it doesn't fare well in cold water and in high flows.

The Esopus Creek downstream of the Portal (which carries water destined for New York City) certainly has high flows of cold water. And all the rain helped too.

In any event, at Boiceville and off Herdman Road in Phoenicia, where I saw the stuff in abundance in early May, I didn't spy any at all.

And the state finally got its butt in gear, too, with new signs warning of didymo. Previously one private individual had made signs at his own expense and stuck them up here and there.

I fished in the Woodland Valley Creek, both the public and private areas, and the Esopus above the Portal, and saw no sign of rock snot anywhere.

Which does not mean we are out of the woods. After an unsatisfactory experiment with rubber wading boots combined with Yak-Trax (the add-ons fell apart rather promptly, they are not designed for clambering around rivers), I am designating one set of waders and felt-soled boots for the areas of the Esopus known to be infected, and one mangier set for everywhere else.

And I still hose everything down, dry as thoroughly as possible, and give everything a blast of Tilex Mold and Mildew.

Separated at birth?
Above: A brownish drab-looking mayfly. Below: A brownish drab-looking soft-hackle wet fly.

The last two days were warm, humid and mostly overcast. This combination convinced the bugs it was still summer. They in turn inspired the trout.

Fishing the most plain-Jane soft-hackle wet fly in the box, I caught trout after trout in the big river these two days, mostly just downstream of the Emerson complex in Mt. Pleasant. Plenty of the small-to-medium rainbows the late Paul O'Neil loved to write about (and eat) but some bigger bruisers as well.

The Esopus is, at heart, a wet-fly stream, and sometimes I forget. Especially with the soft-hackle flies, the Western Swing* approach works in the long riffles.

Woodland Valley Creek

Harry the Heron and I played leapfrog along the Esopus for two days running

As Austin Francis points out, the Esopus is an egalitarian stream. Here is a salmon-egg dapper in action.

There should be a way to incorporate this into an ad — but for what?

* Western Swing — Cast wet flies or nymphs at a 3/4 angle upstream, mend as needed for a dead drift until it passes you, and then allow the line to go into a full swing. Repeat two or three times with successively longer casts. Then wade upstream — three steps up, one out — and repeat entire process. Your hits usually come at the top of the cast or on the swing. For multi-fly rigs, using a bushy dry fly as a top fly/indicator is acceptable; using a strike indicator is not. Doing it completely by feel, with a single fly, is the ne plus ultra.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Morons Abound

Morons From Outer Space (1985) answers the question, "What if the aliens are just like us, but dumber?"

A group of what appear to be working-class Brits, albeit from the planet Blob, crash-land on the M1 freeway in England and the authorities have a hell of a time figuring them out.

Meanwhile, Bernard, the fourth member of the crew, and thoughtlessly marooned in deep space, winds up in a national forest in Arizona.

The aliens become a pop phenomenon, and the world is never the same.

The end.

I got this from NetFlix expecting some straight-to-video disaster. Imagine my surprise when this turned out to be a clever, witty little film.

Nothing terribly brainy, mind you. Plenty of locker room humor, and slapstick.

But this film is so unpretentious I can't help but like it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Carter Stevens - Not Your Average Pornographer

You never know what's going to arrive from Netflix. Thinking Punk Rock was a cheesy exploitation quickie that would offer a glimpse into the New York punk mindset ca. 1977, I put it in the queue.

Turns out this Punk Rock is a porn-noir that also uses footage from another Punk Rock (no info on the director of the latter epic).

This mangy little flick has a slightly better than threadbare plot involving an ex-cop turned private eye who is trying to find a runaway teen and discover who murdered his partner. For once, there is not too much plot getting in the way of the story, and the sex scenes are such that too much plot getting in the way of them is no big deal either.

The extended music footage is the real bargain here. Some of the absolute worst rock and roll ever committed is on tap from The Fast, The Squirrels and a leather and bondage group trying hard to be a combination of James Chance and the Contortions and "Venus In Furs."

And failing, quite spectacularly.

We're talking gnarly 1970s sex scenes. Unconvincing stabbings. Atrocious outer borough accents. The Squirrels, looking like Exiles From Ziggy Stardust Street. Pay phones. Allegedly hard-boiled voice-over narration, sounding like a over-medicated person reading Charles Bukowski through a straw. Utterly worthless. One half coil.

Punk Rock is a two-fer with Pleasure Palace, a heart-warming tale of how two entrepreneurs, fleeing the corruption of the big city, buy a brothel from a guy in Connecticut.

They can't believe how cheap they're getting the business, but they find out a few sex scenes later. The Mob wants in.

We're talking gnarly 1970s sex scenes. Unconvincing shootings. Atrocious outer borough accents. Pat Benatar lookalike hookers. Large American cars. Sheriff with robin's egg blue cowboy hat. Completely without redeeming virtue of any kind. One coil (extra half coil for no Squirrel music). 

This DVD is the only thing from the auteur available from Netflix, who apparently believe that such titles as Tied, Tickled and Trampled, Down in Dorothy's Dungeon and The Painful World of Moose Malloy would not be popular.

Also worth noting is that Mr. Stevens used a variety of pseudonyms, or noms de smarm: Herman Braille, Edna St. George, Steven Guano and Studs Looper are the standouts.