Kiss o’ Death

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Here’s the thing…I’m standing at the curb waiting to cross to my car.  It’s evening and I’m somewhat dapper in my simple straw fedora. As I’m waiting, a car moves towards me and then slows.  I then notice, nonchalantly, of course, that there is hotness behind the wheel.  We’re not talking 30/30 (only looks good from 30 feet away or driving by at 30mph) hotness here either. I did detect some youth, so I did a quick take for the fuzz, just in case it was a set up…Anyway, car slows and said hotness leans out the window and says, “love your hat”, so far, so good…But then she adds the kiss o’ death, “it’s so cute”.  You got to be shittin’ me.

You’re killin’ me Smalls!  Now I’m a cute old man!  When did this happen?  Life is truly a bitch.  Of course I thanked the young lady and slowly shuffled on to my car.  Fuck, I wish I had a walker.

It’s like Ian Fleming said: “Sex is free until after 40, then you have to tell a story for it.  It’s the story that hurts the most”.

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The Problem with Elvis Style

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Elvis, was the King, of course, but for most of his later career he looked like hammered dog shit.  I was thinking about Elvis (I was in Memphis, so it is impossible not to think of him there) because I was shopping in Lansky’s and was looking at their “Clothier to the King” collection.  It’s actually interesting, since they have taken a lot of the old “Lansky Elvis” clothing and some movie pieces and reintroduced them.  Kind of neat.  Read up on the Lansky/Elvis connection, it’s a nice story and to this day, I have never shopped at a friendlier store than Lansky’s.  Doesn’t matter who you are, known or unknown, they treat everyone the same. Really nice people….Early in his career, with the help of Mr. Lansky, Elvis does have some stylish moments.  Lansky’s black and pink creations are really a work of genius in my mind. Later of course, Elvis slowly slipped into the WTF style of men’s wear which sadly, is how he is mostly remembered.  Really? What genius came up with those fucking jumpsuits?

The thing is, Elvis was not really stylish, he had a unique personal style.  One which only he could rock. It was so unique and wholly his, that when imitated, is a total disaster for anyone stupid enough to try it. I mean, come on, EP was a sandwich short of a picnic (I think you have to be, to some extent, to be a great performer), but he was also a virtuoso performer who was good looking and blessed with the charm and charisma to basically to whatever the fuck he wanted and get away with it. Oh, and he without doubt had the best voice of all time, bar none.

But style? Not, I think, in the way we speak of a Cary Grant or Fred Astaire.  Elvis’ style was unique to him and could not be imitated. None of us can rock Elvis’ outfits and get Priscilla (or any other woman, for that matter) to get to know us in a biblical sense. We’d just be laughed at, and fucking deserve it.  Mainly because were not fucking Elvis, and also because we don’t have the looks, charm, charisma or voice to make it happen.  We can emulate the Grant’s or the Astaire’s of the world, but not Elvis.  And this is actually part of his genius (the other part was that he got laid like carpet even while wearing those god awful outfits).  He was unique.  Admire the man’s unique talent, enjoy his beautiful voice, but for God’s sake, please don’t wear his clothes….

 

1966 1601 Datejust

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Wearing the 1601 from 1966 today.  This is the only Rolex in my collection, for the simple reason that is one of the few  non-in-your-face Rolexes around.  I understand that the in-your-face factor is usually high on the list of “reasons to own” for many Rolex wearers (yes, generalizing and what-not…Cad, remember?) But I prefer my vintage watches to be elegant and low key.  I say vintage because I’m unable to lift, let alone wear, most of today’s watches.

On the leather band, I switched out the jubilee bracelet years ago, it looks like any other nice watch.  Most don’t know it’s a Rolex unless they happen to get an up-close look at it.  Which is the way I like it.  Simple, understated, classic.

Cary Grant’s Gray Suit in To Catch a Thief

BAMF Style

Cary Grant as John Robie in To Catch a Thief (1955). Cary Grant as John Robie in To Catch a Thief (1955).

Vitals

Cary Grant as John Robie, retired cat burglar and jewel thief

French Riviera, Summer 1954

Background

To Catch a Thief is a classic Hitchcock production featuring two of his favorite stars – Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – in a romantic crime comedy-thriller set against the exotic backdrop of the French Riviera. It was one of Grace’s last films in her too-brief five-year acting career before becoming Princess of Monaco.

Grant and Kelly’s undeniable chemistry is still remarkable sixty years later. While legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head dressed Princess Grace for the film, it’s believed that Grant provided most of his own attire as he was, after all, Cary fucking Grant.

After looking very sharp in a midnight blue dinner suit, Grant continued to impress by donning a debonair gray suit for both an office visit and a funeral. While it’s a

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They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore

Benjamin Wild

This article was originally posted with Parisian Gentleman.

 

The Style & Symbolism of Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper & Cary Grant

Man’s stock appears to be falling. He is suffering a public relations crisis.

Three years ago, Hanna Rosin cogently contemplated ‘The End of Man’, as his physical size and strength are of little consequence in our post-industrial society.[i] Four months ago, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen baulked at the ‘new sex appeal’ promoted by James Bond’s twenty-third cinematic outing, which preferences Man’s pectorals and glutes over his personality and gumption.[ii] The debate about Man’s societal role and public presentation gives a new twist to age-old discussions about ‘great men’ and icons, particularly from the golden years of Hollywood. Cohen suggests that Man’s present focus on physical perfection has emasculated him. To make the point, he compares Daniel Craig’s Bond with Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill in Hitchcock’s…

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Literary Matt Helm

The good news is that Titan Books has begun reissuing the Matt Helm series (1960 – 1993) of books by Donald Hamilton in attractive paperbacks with the obligatory scantily clad “dame” on the cover. mh This, I think, harkens back to the book’s roots as classic pulps from the 50s and 60s. Although one must note, that the girls portrayed on today’s covers are a bit more, should we say, svelte, or a little less Marilynesque looking than those in the wonderful Robert McGinnis covers (he did over 1200) which adorned the originals.robert-mcginnis-by-vlamboyant3

Helm, who was introduced in 1960 with the publication by Fawcett of Death of a Citizen, seven years after Bond, but before Bond took off in the United States (this would happen in 1964 with the publication of JFK’s manufactured reading list) continued on for about twenty books into the 1990s. These were the glory years for the pulps, and all of Helm’s adventures were published as paperbacks.  Hamilton and Helm ruled for many years until giving way to a man named Travis McGee.  So much so, that the final Helm book is still unpublished (Titan are you listening?).helm01

Helm suffered a similar fate at the cinema as that of his counterpart across the pond.  As with Bond, movies were produced that bore little or no resemblance to the books from which they sprung.  Even more so in Helm’s case, as the films were purposely presented as camp comedy.  You know it’s a bad sign when Dean Martin is chosen to portray you’re ruthless counter assassin.

Both literary characters are both darker and less humorous than their movie counterparts.  One could say Bond was “humorless” until the release of the first Bond film which in turn influenced Fleming’s writing.  The men in the books are sociopaths, just good looking ones who happen to work for the government.  Bond, really had no personality, which was Fleming’s intent.  He had “things” and habits, but he was a blank slate that the reader could write on. Helm is a bit more fleshed out, but although he attempted to live a “normal life” he was most comfortable in the world of assassination and mayhem. Helm also did not benefit from the “Fleming Effect” (a term coined by novelist and Bond fan Sir Kingsley Amis) which was what would become known as “product placement”, although Fleming was doing it for free.  When Helm looked at his watch, it was just a “watch”, Bond on the other hand looked at his “Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet”.  Fleming felt that this “grounded” Bond in a world that readers would recognize, even if they did not know it.2078937

Helm was much more of a middle class character whereas Bond (Eton, Fettes, Royal Navy Officer) was more upper U.  Both men were highly trained professional killers, although Helm is not a spy, he is a counter-assassin for an unnamed United States government agency.  Helm’s unit (with which he served during World War II) was a Nazi hunting group which the government thought would work on dirty red bastards as well, so was kept going after the war’s end. Helm is much more ruthless and brutal than Bond.  In one story Helm is sent to “convincingly beat up” a fellow female agent, armed with instructions from the agency doctor on what to break, etc. no less (we are told he trained for this, a school I’d like to see) but accidently kills her when she has an alcohol induced heart attack midway through the session. Hate when that happens.  He always carries a Buck Knife and doesn’t like to carry a gun (when he has to it is usually a .38) because they can’t be explained away if caught. Helm’s adventures are less exotic and the Bentleys and Aston Martins are replaced with Fords, Chevrolets and Volkswagens from the car pool.  Helm’s personal vehicle was an old pick-up truck equipped with a camper shell.  Not exactly sexy.  He shops at Brooks Brothers not Savile Row, and we never learn if he eats off Minton china or prefers eggs from particular hens.  He definitely buys his smokes (probably Lucky Strikes or Chesterfields) at the commissary and not at Morland of Grosvenor Street.553177

Having read the books back in the day, I was pleased to find them being republished after many years of out-of-printness.  I enjoy these mid-20th century pulp novels.  So politically incorrect and surprisingly frank about sex and violence for books written in the early 60s. Yes, like Bond, Helm has a way with the ladies, not as suave and debonair, but he pulls in the tail nonetheless.   Definitely worth a look for those with a nostalgic bent.  Actually a little more believable than the Bond stories, just not as well dressed.Hamilton_Wrecking

For those interested, check out The Matt Helm Dossier, which covers all the books in detail and has an hilarious on-going riff on the use of the word “darling”.  Which is a word one comes across in any book of this time period.  Excellent resource.

The Literary James Bond

Fantastic post by man BAMF…Actually one of the best rundowns on Bond out there. I’m a fan of the literary Bond and really don’t care for the movie version. But I can stomach the Sean Connery Bond. Very good stuff.

BAMF Style

Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger (1964), wearing the closest cinematic approximation of the suit imagined by Ian Fleming for his character. Inset is a drawing created by Fleming and commissioned for the Daily Express comic strip. Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger (1964), wearing the closest cinematic approximation of the suit imagined by Ian Fleming for his character. Inset is a drawing created by Fleming and commissioned for the Daily Express comic strip.

Vitals

James Bond, British government agent

1950s-1960s

Background

106 years ago, on May 28, 1908, Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in Mayfair to an eventual member of parliament and his wife. Throughout his life, Fleming would be a journalist, a Naval Intelligence officer, and – the role in which he is most remembered – the author who introduced the world to James Bond.

After World War II, Fleming was demobilized from his position at British Naval Intelligence and began working as a newspaper manager, a job allowing him three months vacation. Fleming, whose ambition had long been to write a spy novel, used those winter months to retreat to Jamaica.

Uneasy about…

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Hamilton 1964

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Added a 1964 Hamilton M 100-3 10K RGP(Rolled Gold Plate) D&A Grade 689 to the collection…At a very good price too.  Excellent condition and with the original band as well.  It is an automatic with a Swiss ETA 689A movement.  Hamilton, as you know, was at one time the premier watchmaker in America.  They ceased US production in 1969.  There are still Hamilton’s being sold, but these are not the original Hamilton.  The Swiss company Swatch bought the Hamilton name and produces these watches today.

In 1964, this watch sold for $100.00 which is approximately $750.00 today. The M series of watches were only produced in 1964, why, I have no idea.  It is a mechanical watch (you wind it daily, you do not insert a battery) and an automatic which means that the movement of your wrist also keeps the watch wound.

A beautiful, elegant watch.  Simple and sophisticated.  Young men would not like it as it is not the size of an hubcap…(that is, huge and vulgar, for those to young to know what an hubcap is).  I’m very pleased.  I have been looking for the right Hamilton for some time.

Oh, and I paid $42.00 for it…I think I’m kind of a BAMF…I’ll have to ask a friend of mine….

Well  Mr. Teeritz, you are the man of a thousand vintage watches…Any Hamilton’s in your obviously, very large, watch box?  And, what do you think of the vintage Hamilton, if at all?

Laguna Beach Fogey

 

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I am a fan of Laguna Beach Fogey who blogs at Admiral Cod…Actually, I’ve been living vicariously through his posts for some time.  From time to time he also posts some thought-provoking, well, thoughts.  Here’s one that crosses the minds of most of us of a certain age and class:

“On another website I recently commented on an article explaining how one should react to civilizational decline. I think the real measure of a man is how he lives in such an age. Not how he survives, but how he lives. There are two kinds of people: the first, those who prefer to bitch and moan about the state of things, who are resigned to their position as passive victims of events; and the second, those who actually do something about it. At core are the questions: How does one survive the whirlwind? What is the best way to live under current circumstances? The following are just a few thoughts.”…

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Very well said LBF.