5 Unnecessary Endorsements: Field Notes, Nick Waterhouse, Prescription Ray-Bans, Rod Laver & NatGeo Weekend
Been a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and update the blog. Work has been crazy. Family nuts. I can’t believe how quickly my life has gone by recently. I hope to, eventually, sit down and catch up on my writing, but today is not the day. Instead, I thought I would offer five unnecessary endorsements for stuff I’m loving this summer. There’s a bit of a theme – stuff that feels old – which reinforces how I’m viewing my state of mind lately – “A Mistaken Case of Nostalgia.”
Endorsement 1 – Field Notes
I’ve always been a Moleskine man. I have dozens of them. Mostly black. Mostly medium sized. All of which are half-way full, holding as many notes as I could get down before I got either a) bored or b) distracted by a shiny new one staring at me from the shelf of my local bookstore. The bottom drawer of my desk is full of them. Shelves at home are jammed. It felt like a bad habit and I needed a change. But, I’m a notebook guy. I like having them. So I knew I needed a product change, not a habit change.
So I decided to give Field Notes a shot. I’d first seen them in the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa. Then again as an accessory on The Midwestyle and in other magazines, sites and blogs. I had read that they were invented by an agency in Chicago. I work in the agency world and when I found a Father’s Day offer on huckberry, I decided to treat myself.
I bought the full shebang. Twelve plain notebooks, six with graph paper, six pens and six pencils. It’s been a week and I have to say – I love these damned things. They fit in my pocket, my wallet and don’t require me to carry around anything heavy. Funny how age makes you reconsider things like bulk and weight. Each small notebook is only 48 pages, which is a bit small, but I like the idea of economy. I also like the idea that I will, eventually, fill them – which is the point, right?
Endorsement 2 – Nick Waterhouse
I haven’t gotten excited, truly excited, about new music for a while. There was a Christmas morning bump for Mumford & Sons a while back, but I never found myself driving down the highway with the windows down and “Cry No More” blaring from the speakers. And if that simple act is an expression of endorsement and excitement, then Nick Waterhouse has earned my approval.
This LA-based singer, guitarist, song-writer and producer walks that fine line between timeless awesomeness and kitschy throw-back with such aplomb and skill that you can actually begin to taste disdain when someone tries to describe him as “retro.” Sax-laden with heavy beats and clean guitar, the album – “Time’s All Gone” – will be the sound of my summer. It’s the kind of music they played in the back, staff cabins in “Dirty Dancing,” a cross between Ike Turner and The Alabama Shakes. Totally awesome. Listen to it, love it. Let me know.
Endorsement 3 – Prescription Ray-Bans
Not really an endorsement so much as a reinvigoration. I bought my first pair of Wayfarers in high school from the rich kid who I don’t know that I ever really liked but was entirely to upset by the idea of him not liking me. I bought them for $20 and asked my dad’s permission before I did. I loved those thing. I loved the scratches I put on. I loved the way they made me feel like Buddy Holly. Then, of course, I lost them.
I bought a pair of Oakleys a couple years later after a girl broke up with me and ended up busting those during a tennis tournament. I didn’t spend any real money on sunglasses for a ten years after that when, freshly let go from a job, I decided I needed a pair of prescription Ray-Ban aviators. It was an investment I didn’t need to make, shouldn’t have made. But I wore the hell out of those sunglasses. Everywhere I went, every time I stepped remotely outside, they were on my face. We were renting a house last summer at Ocean-Isle-Beach, North Carolina, when I decided to head into the mild swell to play with my son. I was tossing him into the waves, living it up, when I lost my footing, fell and turned my back just as a three or four-footer hit me from behind. I didn’t even feel them go. They were just gone. A flash of cold on my back, a quick rush of water over my face and – bam, gone.
I got contacts when we got home and for nearly a year have suffered through that. But when I realized my vision insurance would cover sunglasses, I made a quick decision – get another pair of prescription Ray-Bans. Maybe it was the high school kid in me, maybe is was my newfound love of the mid-20th Century, but I went for the Wayfarers again. This time the smaller, tighter Wayfarer Two in tortoise and, brother, am I glad I did.
First, it’s really hard to not look great in these glasses – I should know. Second, they fit like a glove and there’s just nothing like having sunglasses with your prescription – no dry, itchy eyes, no need to adjust. Just put them on and go. I’m hooked.
Endorsement 4 – The Adidas Rod Laver
I was looking for a pair of Purcell’s on Amazon when I glanced at the referral box and saw these. Green toe, no striping, piping or swoosh. Just plain. Stylish. Classic. This is the perfect summer shoe. A guy in my high school, Wes, used to wear these things and he made them look good. Pair of slim chinos. Pair of jeans. A plaid button down. A dark Polo. It’s a look that’s pretty tough to screw up.
These, not the Jack Purcell’s, would be my summer shoes. Arrived Friday and quickly becoming vital to my comfort. I love these things.
There’s always been some discomfort for me when it comes to shoes. I can never find my stylistic home. So much goes into it. If I wear some wingtips all the time am I giving up my outdoor cred? What about Jordans? I’m still in love with the IVs, but I’m no longer a seventh grade worshiper at the altar of his airness. It’s the curse of having grown up before irony – things mean things, possessions are a reflection of the man who owns them. So, I suppose it is fortunate I found these before the moment of truth. After all, am I more of a Champion Canadian Badminton player (Jack Purcell)? Or a rough and tough but elegant Australian tennis legend like Laver? Well, pass me a Fosters and charge my card on file, the Lavers are coming with me.
Endorsement 5- National Geographic Weekend Podcast
I want to like Rick Steves, I really do. But there’s just too much cheese under all that folksy hair to let him be my favorite travel podcaster. He’s too margarine, too PVC for me to get into. For my money, I need someone with a little bit of soul, somebody with a story – a real God-damned story- like Boyd Matson.
Matson has a bit of cheese to him, but in-all, he seems like a decent person. He’s friendly to his guest, inquisitive about the world and has had more adventures than most men can even dream. High adventure. good interviews and an easy-going style, the National Geographic Weekend podacast had made it into my regular commute rotation.
Other Podcasts I listen to: Sklarboro Coutry, Adam Carolla Show, Ace on the House, NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me,” “Car Talk,” “WTF with Marc Maron,” and two or three others, depending upon how I’m feeling. I take my podcasting seriously and my adventure from the driver’s seat of my car. Thanks to Boyd Matson, I can have both.