Thursday, October 29, 2009

ghosts of halloweens past

Taking it back to Santa Barbara: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. There's a plant winding up the legs of my bell bottoms, but that's nowhere near as incredible as Colin's page.

Jono one-upping my Robert Plant in New Zealand, where Gary Anderson's birthday party (click) has usurped Halloween as the country's main occasion for dressing up.

Will the real Karl Lagerfeld please stand up? Not to brag, but I threw this together in a matter of minutes. Was even better when Jesse asked if I was some sort of "Nazi accountant from the future."

Looks like real produce, right?

It's actually Carmen Miranda's headdress. Moose is a taco, and I especially like the stunned bunch of grapes in the background.

I think Mike D. may have actually been working on alternative energy strategies when he wore this one.

Speaking of energy, there's Edward Scissorhands (click) with the Energizer Bunny.

But the best bunny in show goes to Bella Rabbit.

Happy Halloween! Is it too soon to start on the candy?

Monday, October 26, 2009

of grandparents and garments

A few years ago my grandmother, Mom Mom (pronounced MUH-mum, in case you've not met her), came to visit me in the 39th Street showroom of the designer I worked for at the time. Here we are then, as she asks that all-important question, "What to Wear?"

It's a question I've been asking, and attempting to answer lately on my new website (click).

Recently, the reporting has taken me back to my first days in the Garment District (pictured above and below). A rally there last week got me thinking about the demise of American manufacturing, something I know my late grandpa Jack had quite a lot to say about.

I found this (click) in a letter he wrote to The New York Times 22 years ago:
" believe that trade deficits are not detrimental to the wealth of a nation is to miss that these deficits provide the foreign exchange that is gobbling up American corporations, compromising national sovereignty and systematically reducing Americans to the status of tenants in their own land."
Yesterday, I visited Mom Mom, and told her about the rally in the Garment District and finding that letter.

"Well of course," she said, " You know your great grandparents were in the garment business."


I'm sure that any number of relatives on my dad's side of the family reading this are thinking they must have told me this a hundred times. But I didn't know! My great grandfather, as history would have it, established a factory on Greene Street that made pants for the soldiers in World War I. This is sort of like reporting on the history of Elsie the Cow this summer (click) and discovering Elsie's handler hung out with my other great grandfather at the 1939 World's Fair.

As my cousin Ken said yesterday, witnessing my discovery, "You can't escape your family."

For more, see the newest entry on the Sartorialist's Dilemma: (click)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the power of pink

Splat! went a giant can of pink paint on the subway, and the perpetrator scurried away, embarrassed. The man on the bench remained, daring the paint to approach his shimmering white sneakers.

Incidentally, this occurred the same week that my new piece, "Is Backlash the New Pink?" went up on Vanity Click for more for on the perils of pink.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

of lost boys and wild things

Observing the wave of Peter Pan syndrome that's swept across Manhattan in Where the Wild Things Are's wake (likely from the direction of Williamsburg), I wonder if the phenomenon has less to do with nostalgia than with self-recognition in an island of sensitive and destructive creatures. "I wish you guys had a mom," says Max, looking into one Wild Thing's eyes. I can imagine a Lost Boy or two who's inspired the same reaction in me along the way.

JM Barrie, Peter Pan's author, suggested that girls are "much too clever" to be sent to Never Never Land, but the photo above might suggest otherwise. That's me, Deanna, and Erin, finding our inner Wild Things in Isla Vista, California--Never Never Land on earth, if there ever was. That shot was taken in 2003--I think by the big brother of that little boy on the left. I wonder how old he is now.

See Vanity (click), for my elaboration on this idea.

Monday, October 19, 2009

dog days with david chang

This summer, while at Saveur, I got to talk to David Chang about his new cookbook. One of my favorite bits didn't make it onto Saveur's site, but I wanted to share it with you:

JA: Well’s it’s funny—it seems like you’re confounded with this rapid rise [to success], so I was wondering if doing the book might have helped you to process the last couple of years in any way…

DC: Yeah, it totally did. Just going over all that stuff—it’s sort of insane. It just feels like dog years. You know, it feels like it went by very fast, but it literally feels like 30 years.

JA: I think that's New York years too.

image from

Dog years!

And by the way, I love the book (click). It reminded me of graffiti artist Claw Money's scrapbook (click), only with pickle recipes, and gave me a good sense of the Momofuku dynasty as it stood when he wrote it.

Although David Chang doesn't really vibe "dad," I kept thinking of the restaurants as his kids:

There is the firstborn and eternally popular Noodle Bar, reliable home of sweet and fiery Ramen broths; Ssäm Bar, the temperamental late-bloomer that courted death before exploding into the late-night pork orgy it is today; Ko, the fine-boned beauty whose two Michelin stars Chang lives in terror of losing; and, last but not least, Milk Bar, the sugar-buzzed little sister attached to Ssäm’s side.

Paging through Chang’s stories of fleeing pants-less chefs in Tokyo and converting East Village dens of iniquity into risky restaurants left me intrigued. Recipes like spicy pork sausage with rice cakes and pan roasted asparagus with a poached egg and miso butter made me hungry. So I called up David Chang for more details...get some here (click).

That St. Louis shout-out at the end was completely unscripted.

Friday, October 16, 2009

free for all

Kevin Kearney (click) called me a cheap date (!) when I forewent my free footwear at Cole Haan's party the other night--but then I told him I was hungry.

photo from The Selby for Cole, Rood & Haan

For more details, see the Sartorialist's Dilemma. (click.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

jaybird's jeans

It's not news that I'm a little picky...okay, obsessive about jeans.

Here's a shot I took to accompany my first story on the topic several years ago (click.) As usual, looking for an excuse to photograph my feet (click.) The Denim Diaries continue now, on The Sartorialist's Dilemma: click.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the sartorialist's dilemma

As I mentioned Monday, this Gathering String thing is a work in progress, and I've already moved it. And renamed it. It's now called the Sartorialist's Dilemma, and it resides here: (click). I would love your comments as I embark on this project, combining two inspirations, The Sartorialist (click) and Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma (click) in an effort to figure out: What to wear?

Many of you, dear friends and family, have been collaborating with me on this for years. As you well know, this is no new dilemma for me.

Help me figure it out: click. I really would love your comments in regards to the project!

Monday, October 12, 2009

gathering string

Well, good morning! I'm presenting a whole new project to you today. For the moment it's called gathering string and resides here: click. I've made three entries already, and the one that may best outline my intentions thus far is this one: click. In essence, it's one Jaybird's attempt to figure out what to wear. Remember the first day of school? click.

gathering string's URL (that's web address, luddites) is catchy, I know, but for the time being, we're sort of in beta. Which is to say, that you, dear Jaybird readers, are my test kitchen.

It's very much a work in progress (what isn't?) and I'd love to know your thoughts on it. By all means, leave comments or send me emails. More to come...