Category Archives: Destination

Destination | Horween Factory, Chicago

There are very few, if not any, tanneries that carry the same reputation for creating leathers of the utmost quality as Chicago’s Horween. They are the proverbial cream of the crop of tanneries, which needless to say, is the reason I’ve been a fan of their products for quite some time now and is why I choose to work with their leathers for Truman. Family owned and operated in Chicago for over a century, they are currently the only domestic tannery and only one of two in the world to be producing Shell Cordovan. They also developed and are the exclusive producers of the infamous Chromexcel, which is world renown for it’s buttery texture and incredible pull-up.

I was rolling through Chicago on our fall tour and they were kind enough to let me stop by and take a look at the tannery to see first-hand where my leather comes from. A HUGE thanks to John Culliton who took a good chunk of time out of his day to walk me through the entire factory and explain in rich detail everything that was happening. I am the smallest of small when it comes to companies they work with but they really went out of their way to accommodate my visit and to me, that really shows they care about what they do. A big cheers to the good folks at Horween. Here’s a little bit of how my tour went:

The factory itself was built in the late 1800′s and was a tannery from the get-go. Horween was established in 1905 by Isadore Horween and had moved into their current location by 1920. So the building itself has been producing leather for well over a century. The history is rich and you can definitely feel it in the air as you walk through the multiple levels of the tannery.

We started in the basement, where raw hides are brought in, folded and stacked on pallets. This is where it all starts.

I watched as two guys unfolded a horsehide, spread it out on a table (hair, mane and all) and started dividing it up into different cuts, starting at the hind area for the rounds that in a few months will end up being the prized Shell Cordovan.

From there, the cuts all go into giant cement mixers filled with water and lime where they tumble around and have all the hair and remaining bits of flesh removed.

After this process, they get separated into different vats — a giant barrel filled with chrome liquor for the chrome-tanned stuff, and big square vats filled with a mixture of water and vegetable matter (tree bark, etc) for veg-tanned stuff. Some of the hides sit here for months.

The chrome-tanned hides come out of their initial stage in a light blue hue, therefore being dubbed “blues” at this point. The blues then get graded, sorted and split down to different weights.

Every hide is custom split to a specific weight here in the beginning stages of tanning as opposed to after the fact like a lot of tanneries do. This of course is done for a reason — to ensure maximum uniformity in weight (thickness) and a clean, uniformly tanned flesh side.

The hides that are to be Chromexcel are at that point sent into giant barrels filled with a variety of hot natural waxes and oils to be “hot-stuffed”, which means the oils and waxes penetrate deep into the hide creating the pull-up affect.

The Chromexcel is then over-dyed and spread by hand to ensure uniformity.

At their final stages, leather is then hung or spread out to dry for several weeks.

For Chromexcel, the very last step is a bath in neatsfoot oil, which accounts for it’s oily, waxy hand.

After the last active step of Shell Cordovan, it’s stacked to let it age for several months. That’s right, they finish producing the leather and then actually let it sit there for another few months because they feel that the product is best after aging a little bit. That to me is the utmost in concern for quality over quantity. It would suit them best to keep moving product out of their factory but instead, they opt to let it sit there for months, taking up precious real estate in their factory because they feel it makes for the best product. Awesome.

They are also the official tannery for NFL football leather as well as basketball leather.

Note the “W” for Wilson embossed on the leather.

On top of all this, they are still progressive — trying out new formulas and coming up with new leathers. It’s no wonder why the name Horween has become synonymous with quality and I’m proud to be using their hides for Truman.

Destination | Apolis: Common Gallery, Los Angeles

I know it’s been said over and over again but the guys at Apolis are some of the nicest and more genuine people you’ll meet. I met up with Shea Foley for lunch and a little visit to their newest venture — their flagship brick & mortar dubbed, Common Gallery, nestled just around the corner from their former HQ in the arts district of downtown LA.

The space is beautifully done and it’s really something to see their entire product line in one place. Always clean, functional, simultaneously classic and progressive, philanthropic and forward-thinking, they are without a doubt one of my favorite brands out there. If you’re in the area, make sure to drop in and say hello.

Apolis: Common Gallery
806 East 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Exhibition | Mottainai: The Fabric of Life @ Portland Japanese Garden

We just passed through Portland, OR on our tour and my wife and kids drove down from Vashon to hang out for the day.  We took a trip to the Portland Japanese Garden and besides the sheer beauty, inexplicable calm, and for me, the tinge of nostalgia I feel in traditional Japanese settings, I happened to stumble upon perhaps the coolest exhibition I could’ve ever stumbled upon.  I just about lost my mind when I saw all the patchwork boro and aizome (indigo-dyed) fabrics hanging in a room through a pair of sliding glass doors.  A room full of antique Japanese folk textiles.  Antique…Japanese…Folk…Textiles.  Each of those words alone puts my nerd-out into overdrive.

I didn’t get to spend even a fraction of the time I would have wanted to in there since we had our kids with us, but I blew through the exhibition and took in as much as I could.  I loved everything about it.  I go nuts over traditional Japanese fabrics and especially traditional aizome indigo.  I also found out later that the exhibition was largely comprised of Stephen Szczepanek’s private collection who’s site and blog is a frequent visit of mine (and if I would keep up more with my internet reading, I would have known about this ahead of time).

If you live in the area I would highly recommend a visit.  I’m almost considering a trip back down after I get home since the exhibition will still be running.  Here’s an excerpt from the exhibition’s page detailing more about the fabrics and history behind it all:

“This exhibition of antique Japanese folk textiles from the Meiji period (1868-1912) is comprised of selections from the private collections of Stephen Szczepanek (suh-PAN-ecks) of Sri in Brooklyn and Kei Kawasaki of Gallery Kei in Kyoto. The exhibition demonstrates the remarkable ability of the Japanese to not only make do with the very little they had, but to make art with it.

For generations before the “Economic Miracle” took place in the decades following World War II, Japan was a poor country. People recycled everything. Nothing was wasted, and the word “mottainai” (waste nothing!) was a ubiquitous exclamation used by every frugal parent to warn children about wasting a bite of food or a scrap of cloth or paper.

All of the textiles and garments on view were made from bast fibers foraged from the forest, or patched and quilted together from second-hand scraps of cotton garments of city-dwellers who traded their hand-me-downs with the farmers for rice and vegetables.

The exhibition represents a wide variety of traditional textile making and decorating techniques, including sashiko stitching, bast fiber weaving and dyeing, and patchwork quilting, the latter referred to as boro.”

“Kei explains, “The old adage about saving patches of cloth large enough to wrap 3 beans came from a time when all textiles were precious. People in pre-industrial Japan would patch together various bits of cloth in long rolls. Until the modern era, cotton was difficult to come by in rural areas, especially in northern Japan. Farmers’ clothes were made from hand-spinning such things as linden bark, wisteria vines and kudzu vines. Used washi paper was also cut into strips, hand-spun and woven with cotton to create shifu, an excellent light textile with subtle black highlights from the sumi ink inscriptions written on the paper during its earlier ‘incarnation.’ Nothing was wasted.”

Editor’s note: It’s interesting that the term “mottainai” and the frugality it represents still resonates with the Japanese.  It was a term I heard frequently growing up and still remember my mom making me finish literally every single grain of rice, telling me, “Mottainai.  The farmers worked hard over every grain of rice.  It’s not to be wasted.”  Clearly a leftover sentiment from economically insulated and post-war Japan.

The exhibition will be held until Nov 27th.  Here’s the official site for more info.

Destination | Truman@Hickoree’s, Brooklyn + Misc NYC

We had a day off in NY so I ended up staying in Brooklyn with some dear friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris and Lindsey of Stanley & Sons who were kind enough to let me drop into their studio for a visit. I also got to drop into my buddy Nate’s studio where he’s cooking up some delicious wearables for you all (not sure how much I can say but I’ll follow up on this when the time comes), stop by Blue Bottle for a necessary caffeine fix, and finally, visit the new brick and mortar Hickoree’s shop to drop off some more Truman goods and see the space. I’ve said this before, but I’m very honored to be a part of the amazing stock at Hickoree’s and it was really cool to be able to see my stuff sitting amongst all the other great product in person. The space is a must see if you’re ever in the area. Thanks NY…’till next time.

By the way, that’s shop owner Emil’s personal Minimalist Bifold in the bottom left corner – aged a few months and now displayed alongside the new stock. Pretty cool.

Destination | Truman@Art in the Age, Philly

Art in the Age asked me if I wanted to be a part of one of their monthly installations and having been to the store before and being a fan, I was more than up for it.  I happen to be on tour at the moment and was able to drop by the shop to see the installation in person.  I’m definitely honored to be part of a great installation with other inspirational people (Bob being one of them) and am very pleased to see my stuff stocked alongside many other great brands in a great store doing great things.  Great.  I finally got to meet up with Bob for some drinks and hang time as well.  Greater.

p.s. Thanks for the bottle of Root guys!

Fly Fishing | Katmai National Park, Alaska

Anchorage, AK.  12:00 AM.

I landed in Anchorage around 11:30 PM, the sun was still just considering setting and I was immediately reminded of just how far north I was.  It was my first time in Alaska and having only seen it’s stunning landscape and wildlife in pictures and TV shows, I was pretty stinking excited to finally be setting foot on it’s rich and mostly unblemished soil.

I met up with the male side of my in-laws (father and brother) and we flew out the next morning on a vintage Navajo (small 9 passenger twin propellor engine plane) to head for Kulik lodge, a small fishing lodge nestled on the edge of Kulik lake in Katmai National Preserve. Flying down to the landing strip, I really got a sense of just how remote we were — not a single imprint of human presence as far as the eye can see, other than the dirt and gravel airstrip ahead of us and a tiny, winding dirt road that lead to a small cluster of cabins at the edge of the lake.

Katmai National Preserve, AK

We touched down and were greeted by a handful of warm and friendly staff, then hopped in an old beat up Ford van for a quick ride down to the lodges. We were sent directly to the dinner lodge for a warm lunch, then a quick registration/orientation, and we were off fishing, just like that.

Our cabin, Kulik Lodge.

The rest of that day and the next were spent fishing there in the Kulik river — a 1.5 mile stretch of shallow river that sees an enormous amount of Sockeye Salmon returning to spawn every summer and an abundance of Rainbow Trout, who like to feed on the salmon roe. By the time the salmon reach the Kulik they have fully completed their gnarly, werewolf-like metamorphasis and are no longer good to eat, nor will they take a fly, but the trout are-a-plentiful and are a ton of fun to catch.

Kulik River

We did a fly-out on our third day and caught a tiny 5 passenger pontoon plane out to the Kamishak river, just about 20 mins away.

Packed into the pontoon Cessna, flying out to the Kamishak river.  

Alaskan sunrise from the air.  

The flight alone was worth the trip. It’s truly humbling when you see just how grand and beautiful the Earth can be. Following the breathtaking plane ride was another equally breathtaking boat ride up the river. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

Glacier, taken from the air.

Aerial view of one of the hundreds of small waterfalls.

Landing in the Kamishak river near the Kamishak bay to start our boat trip up river.

We reached a spot where our guide thought would be promising and it was on. I have never (and will likely never again) experienced anything like it — we were hooking fish left and right. Char, Chum Salmon, a couple Pink Salmon, and most importantly, a handful of Silver (Coho) Salmon which 1) we were allowed to keep, and 2) had just barely swam in from salt water and were still fresh (un-scifi movie-ed). So new to the river in fact, that we were one of the first of the season to hook any. It was hardly even fishing (I mean that in the best way possible). I stumbled on a spot were literally every 1-3 casts, I would hook a Char or Chum. I actually ended up moving because it was just too much.

Fly fishing!

The Chum were the feistiest of the fish and really put up a hard fight…and we caught a lot. It got to the point where if I saw a chum chasing my fly, I’d stop stripping the line to stop drawing it’s attention. The Silver were fun to hook as well because they were much more rare, they were keepers, and they put up a decent fight as well. Lots of acrobatics. We honestly caught probably 100+ fish between the three of us just in that day. I also got to check off one of my life-goals — eat a piece of salmon sashimi river-side, fresh as it can possibly get.

Filleting a Coho Salmon (Silver) river-side.  Note the roe.  

Yes it was delicious.  

The bear were a-plenty there on the Kamishak as well. I’d never been as close to a large wild animal as I was to these guys. Oh, and they’re Kodiaks, aka Grizzlies. They’re BIG. In fact, the Grizzly Man documentary/movie was shot in the same range just several miles away. They seemingly had no fear of man and would lumber slowly toward you as if you weren’t really even there. They would go about their business and hardly even acknowledge our presence, but still, you couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy when something that powerful is just 20 yards away. By the end of the day though, we were fairly used to it.

One of many Kodiaks we encountered.

Remains of a Kodiak on the side of the river, most likely killed in a bear fight.  It’s guts were eaten out and gulls were picking on it.  Grizzly sight….zing.  

The lodge is a family operated business that has been in operation since the 50′s, with three different lodges (Grosvenor, Brooks, and Kulik) in the region. Kulik lake and river are known worldwide for it’s sockeye salmon run and unbelievable rainbow trout fishing.  Grosvenor is the smallest and most secluded compound, with a max capacity of something like 6 adults.  Brooks lodge is located right on the Brooks river, which is home to Brooks falls, where the iconic bear-lazily-standing-on-edge-of-small-waterfall-as-salmon-hop-up-into-their-mouths photos/videos are taken.  Our stay at Kulik was perfect — amazing fishing, friendly staff, knowledgeable and helpful guides, an overabundance of tasty meals — well worth a recommendation.  I really hope to do this again some day.

The water was pretty cold as it was literally melted snow coming right off the mountains.  

A little vintage sartorial inspiration.  So good.  

Kulik lodge.

Travel Days | East Rutherford, NJ

We took a 3 day jaunt over to East Rutherford, NJ — The land of no left turns.  I wonder if people’s tires wear unevenly from all the right turns and “jughandles”.  Anyhow, we played two shows at one festival and got to see some dear friends we don’t see very often.  I didn’t snap a lot of pics, but here’s a few.  (First picture courtesy of Ping)

Transplanted | Vashon Island, WA

I packed my life into the back of a Uhaul and made a 24 hour marathon run up the west coast from my hometown of Orange, CA to my new home of Vashon, a small island right off the coast of Seattle.  My wife and I decided it was due time for a lifestyle change for us, our two kids, and two dogs.

This place is absolutely perfect.  We’ve got a lot to learn being city folk, but I’m more than happy to be along for the adventure.  So here’s to green trees instead of brown smog and acres instead of square feet.

p.s. If anyone reading is in the Seattle area and happens to have a motorcycle you want to let go for cheap, let me know.  I left mine in OC for the time being (will explain later) and am itching to ride, especially here on the island.

Picture Archives | Moon River Ranch, TX

I was going through my iphoto and found these pictures from a family trip we made back in August.  550 acres of open texan land, ATV’s, longhorn cattle, horses, pools, lakes, chuck wagons, shotguns, skeet, fireworks over the Brasos River, gratuitous amounts of food, lots of lounging and so on.  In other words, it was fun.

 

That’s My Town! | Men’s File, Issue 03

I picked up the latest issue of the UK based publication, Men’s File, on my last visit to Amsterdam at Tenue de Nîmes.  The magazine is packed with all things man — good clothes, motorcycles, hot rods, surfing, history, photography, etc.  I was surprised to see the overwhelming amount of southern California and Orange County in the issue, namely a little article on a couple who run a vintage reproduction clothing line called Liberty Motor Wear from my town of Orange.

Here’s a little snippet from  the article about Orange:

“Located between Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange County and Disney’s capital at Anaheim is the small town of Orange.  There’s a town centre there, a town square with a 1950′s drugstore/diner (Watson’s), a bank and a town hall.  This is Norman Rockwell’s America but it’s not a museum.  I didn’t see a visitor centre or an information kiosk (perhaps they are there somewhere)…There is a very enjoyable hyperreality about Orange.  The Old Town District and surrounding neighborhood consists of many 1920′s and 30′s homes ( ed. note: mine’s a 1904!) in a nicely restored condition and on the main drag there is the best American antique and mid-century market I have ever visited.  If you have ever dreamed of stumbling on an Aladdin’s Cave of reasonably priced vintage Americana, the likes of which is unknown, even in most parts of the United States, then in Orange your dreams will come true.”

Pretty cool.  Everything mentioned here is my immediate neighborhood.  The “town square” or “main drag” mentioned here is what we call “the circle”, and is where we frequent for a bite to eat, some antique shopping, or just to take a walk to.  Orange County tends to live in the shadow of LA and under the taintedness of shows like The OC or Laguna Hills or whatever (I’ve never watched any of these…not sure of the titles).  Granted a lot of the stereotypes may be true, but there’s definitely pockets of goodness that exist.  It’s cool to see my little humble town getting some recognition, especially in an international publication.

And for good measure, some pictures I took at some of the antique stores in the circle just the other day:

Destination | Present & Albam, London

Present
Present was insane.  I’ve been to a lot of shops in my travels (some of which I document here) and Present is definitely one of the best I’ve seen.  Nigel Cabourn, Nanamica, Post Overalls, Heritage Research, Crescent Down Works, Lavenham, Wings + Horns, Gitman, the list goes on and on.  Amazing footwear collection with a whole selection of Trickers long wings with Vibram soles (very cool), Mark McNairy, Diemme, Yuketen, a slew of unique Vans, etc. etc.  One of my favorite things I saw was a Heritage Research button up parka in a waxed dark olive green.  I’d seen and drooled over it online before and was pretty excited to see it in person.  Oh, and it was marked down.  I bought.  LOVE it.  Did I mention the espresso bar right at the entrance?
Albam

Made our way over to the Old Spitalfields Market and dipped into Albam.  Once again, small but great shop stocked full of great Albam pieces.  Loved pretty much everything I saw in there.  Their denim line was pretty tempting.  Nice quality (Japanese I believe) raw selvage denim constructed with no frills and sold at a very fair price.  I did walk away with a pair of their chinos in an army green though.  Like their denim, no frills, great fabric, and great fit.  The weight of the chinos are just perfect.  Stoked, as I’ve been looking for a pair of good non-denim pants for a while now.  Of course they had a good few of their Quoddy for Albam mocs, all with their signature cross-stitching (but not so much now since Leffot is doing it too).

Present pics from here

Albam pics from here

Destination | Oliver Spencer & Folk, London

Oliver Spencer
Oliver Spencer has been one of those brands which I see around on the internet here and there, like what I see, but haven’t taken a specific interest in.  That all changed the moment I walked in the door.  I was immediately impressed with the simple yet crisp and refined looks his collection has.  There’s obvious cues taken from vintage military, hunting, and work gear but with a definite English flavor.  Their stuff really has to be seen and felt in person to appreciate, pictures online or even look books don’t do justice as far as I’m concerned.  There’s something about the clean lines and even refined (physical) feel of the garments that has to be experienced in person to fully appreciate.  At the risk of sounding lame…they feel expensive.  Or should I say, they feel quality.  Lots of great garments in there but I really fell in love with their waxed pullover parkas.  My only gripe with the store is that they didn’t have much of their footwear line at all, which I have admired from afar and was hoping to see in person.  They literally had just one pair of chukkas and one pair of Quoddy bluchers.  Perhaps they were in between restocks.  I ended up chatting with a couple of the guys working there and prior to leaving, was greeted with a courteous handshake and a “My name’s Oliver by the way, very nice to meet you”.  Upon which I of course figured out that I had been speaking to Oliver Spencer himself.  I love that.  That’s some ground level stuff.
Folk

I’ve been a fan of Folk and their unique take on menswear that somehow treads that incredibly fine line of quirky, unique, yet tasteful without being tacky.  Every piece of clothing has some kind of twist, often times subtle enough for the layman to not realize — like an arched yoke, odd shaped placket, or hidden buttons — but interesting and unique enough for nerds like myself to get excited about.  Some of my favorites from the store were their wonderfully colored blue Rain Mac, and their three color button up which I’ve had my sights on ever since I discovered the brand.
Both shops are located within a few yards of each other on Lamb’s Conduit street in the Bloomsbury area of London and are worthy of a visit if you’re nearby.  Special thanks to Brian Ferry for suggesting the visit.
Oliver Spencer shots from here and here
Folk shots from here
More from London upcoming…

Destination | Tenue de Nîmes/Red Wing, Amsterdam

Our mini-euro tour luckily made a stop in the wonderful city of Amsterdam.  We’ve been there a handful of times before and it’s always a pleasure to visit.  This time ’round, I made it a point to make it over to the well-regarded Tenue de Nîmes in the nine streets area of the city.  Walking into the shop, I was greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable staff, as well as a well-selected array of denim, footwear, outerwear, wovens, and various accessories.  I even made a trip back later in the day to take my friend Ping to the shop.  We walked up to find the shop closed and all the guys outside having a smoke/chat.  Not only did they invite us back in to the shop, they made us coffee and talked shop with us for a while.  Very cool.  Standouts to me were their selections from the venerable Nigel Cabourn (it was my first time seeing his stuff in person) and a pair of Momotaro‘s hand loomed denim, which they loom on-location in their store in Okayama (Japan) on a modified vintage kimono loom.  Unreal.  The denim was a lighter shade of indigo, which according to Rene who works at the shop, is a result of a 100% natural dying and treatment process, and had a nice, soft, slubby hand.  Truly an artisan piece that could have been produced hundreds of years ago in the same exact way.  Despite the great selection of stuff, I managed to only walk out with an issue of Men’s File, and their in-store ‘zine, Journal de Nîmes.

I also made my way to the newly opened Red Wing Amsterdam store located only a few blocks away and owned and operated by the same good folks who run Tenue de Nîmes.  Besides carrying all the key Red Wing selections, they had some great bags by Heritage Leather Co and Duluth Pack, as well as belts and wallets from Tanner Goods.  The love and respect these guys have for the brand definitely resounds in the shop.  The shopkeeper (who’s name slips my mind, but is the brother of Menno van Meurs, part owner of Tenue de Nîmes) told me of their trip to the city of Red Wing, MN and the factory that resides there in order to get a more in-depth and hand-on experience with the brand.  Respect.

Needless to say, if you ever find yourself in the wonderful city of Amsterdam, I certainly recommend a trip over to the nine streets area to visit these two shops.

Pictures of the stores pulled from here and here.

Also visit Tenue de Nîmes’ blog, as well as Red Wing Amsterdam’s blog.

Video of Nigel Cabourn in the Tenue de Nîmes talking about his collection:

Video of the Momotaro hand loomed denim:

…and some random pictures of my trip:

I came upon an antique market:

I ended up picking up the pocket knife pictured above.

On a Sunday | Rose Bowl Flea/South Willard

My wife and I got to steal away for a few hours from parentdom and hopped up to Pasadena to visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market.  Lots of great typical flea market goods — vintage furniture, trinkets, and knick-knacks, and of course a ridiculously large and overwhelming vintage clothing and footwear section.  I spotted a few very cool vintage pieces, including an old USN deck jacket that looked like it could have been pulled from Nigel Cabourn’s collection.  I did a ton of self-editing though, and walked away with only a couple things — a metal tool box for my leathercrafting tools, and a vintage wool baseball cap in a perfectly colored mustard yellow, probably from the 50′s or 60′s.  My wife did slightly better than me (or worse, depending on how you look at it) and walked away with 3 or 4 pairs of shoes, a couple dresses, a bag, and a vintage wooden box, almost like a mini chest.  Quite a successful flea market trip.
We dipped into South Willard on the way home, as I’ve been obsessing over the charcoal grey/brick sole Quoddy bluchers since last summer, which they just restocked a few weeks ago.  I nearly went the entire summer convincing myself that I didn’t need a pair of these, but I’m glad I caved cause these are insanely perfect.  The charcoal grey and brick sole perfectly compliment each other, and the matte black eyelets, non-contrasted stitching/laces make for a perfectly understated and subtle pair of shoes.  Beautiful.  I also appreciate the craftsmanship and build of the shoe a lot more since I’ve been attempting to make my own shoes lately (post possibly upcoming).  Oh, and Ryan from South Willard also gave me one of Altadena’s little key rings that they just had forged and made in Japan.
All in all, a great Sunday morning.

Destination | Europe/UK Tour

Back out on the road again.  This time overseas in Europe and the UK doing a bunch of festivals (and a couple club shows in between).  In case anyone has any recommendations, dates/cities as follows:

8.19.10 | PUKKELPOP FESTIVAL

8.20.10 | AREA 4 FESTIVAL

8.21.10 | HIGHFIELDS FESTIVAL

8.22.10 | GAMPEL FESTIVAL

8.24.10 | HAMBURG @ TRABARENA W/ BLINK 182

8.25.10 | AMSTERDAM @ THE MELKWEG

8.26.10 | LONDON @ THE ELECTRIC BALLROOM

8.28.10 | LEEDS FESTIVAL

8.29.10 | READING FESTIVAL

Destination | USS Constitution/Louis Lunch

When we were in Boston several weeks ago, we had the opportunity to get a personal “behind the scenes” tour of the USS Constitution.  We were allowed to see parts of the ship that aren’t normally open to civilians, which needless to say, was a really cool experience.  Great to see a piece of history like that.  The USS Constitution, for those who don’t know, is the oldest fully commissioned naval ship in the world — launched in 1797, and being named by George Washington himself, it was one of the 6 ships authorized to be built by the Naval Act of 1794.  The ship has a perfect battle record, never being boarded or defeated and earning itself the nickname “Old Ironsides”.  Badass.

Second set of pictures are from Louis’ Lunch as well as some random Yale architecture in New Haven, CT.  Proclaimed to be the birthplace of the hamburger, Louis’ still serve their original burger on toasted white bread and no condiments whatsoever (and don’t ask, there’s even signs).  Coolest thing about the place was the fact that they still cook their burgers on the original cast iron, vertical loading grills that supposedly birthed the hamburger.  Neat.

Destination | Art In The Age, Philadelphia

A little late in posting this, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy on the road.  Anyhow, we were in Philadelphia a week or so ago and I stopped by Art In the Age‘s flagship store in the Old City neighborhood (116 North 3rd St) by recommendation of Bob from Corkgrips.

The store has an impressive and well chosen, almost general store-like array of handmade or small-scale production goods…aka stuff that keeps it real.  Billykirk and other leather goods, Yuketen (saw the Maine Guide Boots for the first time in real life…YIKES), soaps, screen printed T’s, aprons, felt planters, misc clothing, etc.  We were even allowed to try a sample shot of their ROOT liquor, which I read about some time ago and have been wanting to try.  It was really tasty…suprisingly smooth and quite like a really yummy and earthy root beer, only alcoholic…which makes perfect sense.  The store isn’t allowed to actually sell you the liquor since they don’t have a license, but we were sent a couple blocks down to a liquor store that carried them.  Check out the video below for the short run down of the ROOT story.

If you’re in Philly, go pay them a visit.  They’ve got a really neat thing going that is well worth supporting.

Destination | Revelstoke, BC

We spent our day off between Seattle and Edmonton in beautiful Revelstoke, BC.  I was up for about the last hour or so of the drive into Revelstoke and it was breathtaking.  Trees upon trees occasionally gave way to picture perfect lakes, and the mountainsides played host to rock cliffs, waterfalls, and of course, more greenery.  I decided right then and there that I was going to make the most of my day in the woods of Canada.  According to the girl at the front desk of our hotel, it’s “downtime” for the most part right now, and a lot of the recreational activities weren’t in operation, so a hike it was.  I was able to rally a couple other guys and we took to the trails.  It was an absolutely perfect way to spend a day off.  So refreshing and rejuvenating.  The woods this time of year are so lush and so incredibly green.  We decided that the city needs to make shirts that say “I got stoked in Revelstoke”.

Destination | Blackbird/The Field House, Seattle, WA

3 for 3.  3rd day of tour was spent in Seattle and we were greeted by near perfect weather.  Once again, I hopped on my moped and made my rounds.  I’ve been meaning to stop by Blackbird for a while now and I finally actually made my way over.  The shop was pretty cool, but stocked some higher fashion brands that aren’t really my cup of tea.  It was neat to be able to see a lot of the pieces in person though.

More up my alley was Blackbirds sister shop, The Field House, which is literally right around the corner.  I love the concept of The Field House and have always been jealous that I don’t live in the area for their in-house workshops/classes on various life skills (knife sharpening, gardening, whiskey appreciation, etc).  The shop was great, and has a local general store vibe/selection of goods with only the finest hand-picked goods stocked (with of course a great selection of footwear/clothing).  I picked up a couple bars of insanely good smelling handmade soap (“Woods of Washington” and Lemongrass) and a can of Filson garment wax.  I also got a quick lesson on axes and wood splitters (both of which they stocked) from the friendly and very knowledgeable fellow working there.  Truly my kind of shop.

On the food tip, a good friend took me to Paseo and again, the line was out the door but the food was well worth the wait.  I got the recommended favorite Cuban Roast sandwich.  It. Was. Tasty.

Random Seattle snaps:

Destination | Winn Perry, Portland, OR

2 for 2.  Day 2 took us to Portland and I rode my newly acquired tour enhancer, aka my Motobecane 50v moped, over to Winn Perry.  I got to see the navy suede Quoddy Bluchers that I nearly pulled the trigger on in person, along with some other fine goods. Stand outs for me were the navy suede Quoddys I just mentioned, tan suede Alden Longwings (yikes!), and a pair of olive Wings + Horns chinos.  I think a guy there was getting fitted for a custom tailored suit…pretty sweet.  The fellow at the counter was friendly and amiable and the shop was small but well-stocked.  Once again, well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Portland.

Also worth mentioning is an absolutely insane taco joint called Porque No.  The line was out the door but the food was well worth it.  Being from SoCal, I know my tacos, and these were easily in my top 3 of all time.  SO good.

Images courtesy of Sangsouvanh