• August 2014 Playlist

    Music & Books  


    Listen on Spotify

    Aug 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Best Laid Plans

    Miscellany  

    The orange glow from the east slowly crawls over the pines, dancing on the lake's glass. It's hypnotizing. Therapeutic. Magical. My suprachiasmatic nucleus (the tiny part of the brain responsible for waking you up) triggers as the lambent light hits my dilated pupils. I paddle towards it in a wooden canoe carved from a felled tree over a century ago. Its integrity still in tact, like a good man long laid to rest.

    I should be on Nantucket right now. If I had things my way (of which I often insist), I would be. Sand in my hair, salt in my mouth. But I'm not. Instead, I'm in a small town outside of Providence, Rhode Island. Late trains, missed buses, sold out ferries...disguised whispers to embark on adventures unaccounted for.

    It's the night before and I've stalled in Providence until tomorrow morning. I text Kiel (James Patrick). He and his lost boys will be here in about 17 minutes. We immediately declare a pizza party. All at once, we sync our watches for the 30 minute countdown and secretly hope Dominoes can't navigate the obscure snaking roads (does Dominoes still guarantee delivery in "30 minutes or it's free"? Who knows, we don't care...we just watch the clock in optimism*).

    Tonight becomes a flashback to boyhood. Fire-starting, prank-pulling, firework-lighting, trespassing, and all-around general troublemaking. We hop into canoes just after midnight and paddle into the night. Our iPhone batteries exhausted, we lose all track of time, space...ourselves. It isn't until this morning as I'm paddling out that I realize even the best laid plans are at the mercy of Summer's romantic whims.

    Now on to Nantucket...

    *The Providence Dominoes driver did indeed later lose his job after failing to make good on Dominoes' "30 minutes or it's free" guarantee. We discovered some time later that one of the summer interns inverted one of the numbers in the address. We felt quite badly about this.**

    **That was a fiction. It turns out that Dominoes hasn't promised a pie in "30 minutes or it's free" since 1993. Huh. Seems like it was only yesterday.

    Aug 11, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • A Sea of Split Peas

    Music & Books  

    by Tucker Chet Markus

    It wanders. Through a cloud of foggy reverb, scratching guitar, and halfway sing-speaking is found Courtney Barnett’s double EP, A Sea of Split Peas. It’s a hundred mile an hour stream of consciousness strapped to rusty pickups and evenings in.

    Barnett, as Australian as the way she sings the word “to-mah-to” might suggest, captures the roaming lilt of Dylan and the twang of a sun-beat countryside. Released last fall, A Sea of Split Peas is nomadic, not aimless. It billows with images and story and musings, without pomp or ego. It’s a picture of dust rising off of clay in the Australian countryside.

    The ballast of A Sea of Split Peas sways from careening testimonies pitched on messy cymbal crashes to halcyon and heartfelt missives pinned with brushed snares. The EP begins from the heights of “Avant Gardener,” a digressive (and, in passing, seriously funny) account about an anaphylactic asthma attack during a heat-wave. It's lit up, not by the action, but by Barnett’s captivating inner consciousness. Key lyric: “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cause I play guitar / I think she’s clever ‘cause she stops people dying.”

    We then move across to “Anonymous Club”—soft, sitting with a loosely-held guitar, leaning back on the sofa. “Turn your phone off friend / You’re amongst friends and we don’t need no interruptions.” There’s a simplicity and earnestness in Barnett’s voice. It feels real. Tangible.

    A Sea of Split Peas swings from a bounding rearview window on the rusty-red outback to daydreams trying to avoid light through the blinds. Guided by the narration—or singing—of Barnett, we find that both, via her hundred mile an hour mind, are equally as exciting.

    Aug 7, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • How To Photograph Your Kids…Fashionably

    Miscellany  

    Childhood is over in the blink of an eye. Take a picture—it certainly lasts longer. Modern parenthood practically corners you into taking up photography. You might as well learn to do it well given the one-upmanship landscape of Instagram and Facebook. Photographing your kids is no walk in the park though. They’re often unfocused. Poorly composed. Unruly. And that’s just your pictures. Here, a few personal tips on how to photograph (and tame) your kids.

    Have a Plan: pull tears from magazines, scour Tumblr, thumb through coffee table books of your favorite photographers' work in it. What you're looking for here is inspiration—ideas for posing, expressions, styling, concepts, etc. What's that? You’re into taking pictures and don’t have a favorite photographer? Find one. In fact, find several. This shot is likely the culmination of countless Peggy Sirota portraits I’ve pored over the last seven years.

    Style the Shoot: No one wants to look back on photographs of themselves 15 years from now wondering, "What was I wearing???" Your kids won't want to either...because they'll be 25. Aim for timeless and classic. Drop in to Ralph Lauren, Crewcuts, and GapKids for shrunken takes on grown-up classics. Just ensure the clothes fit your kids right now…not 6 months from now. Some kids’ clothes designers make this as challenging as possible. The boys and I cut over five inches off these Old Navy chino shorts just so they would hit a handbreadth above the knee.

    Little Bribes: I prefer the more civilized term "incentive" since that is how the world actually works. And your kids are better off knowing that the sooner the better. If you do x, you will be rewarded with y. When my boys were 4 and 5, it was candy—instant gratification candy. Toddlers need that in order to comprehend the arrangement of being rewarded for the request made of them. Now that my boys are Tweens, it's "I'll drop $15 into each of your iTunes accounts after we nail this shot.” Just don’t show your entire hand upfront. They learn to negotiate eventually.

    Sink to Their Level: Some of the best portraiture is shot around eye level of the subject. Kids are no exception. Get down on their level. You can ice your knees (and lumbar) afterwards.

    Get Wide, Get Close: Reach for a wide angle lens and then fill the frame with your kids. A wide angle lens practically forces your hand to get up close and personal with your subjects. Here, in the backseat of my ’87 Bimmer, I opt for a 20mm…yet, I’m still filling the frame with my boys.

    Work Quickly: No matter how incredible your bribe incentive, the law of diminishing returns quickly erodes its perceived value. In other words, you have 30 minutes (tops) to nail your shot. Go!

    Jul 28, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Debonair

    Top Drawer | Style | Prep Essentials  

    When we caught up with Jason Pollak almost three years ago, he had just given life to Deja Vu Refinery. The pièce de résistance? The Debonair sunglasses. We immediately fell head over heels and have been basking in the sun in them since. Pollak is a product guy. His voice gets pitchy when he starts talking about his glasses’ 45 degree arm joints, historically accurate flat lenses, and custom lens colors (like beer bottle green and polarized beer bottle brown). In a previous life, he was a men's vintage clothing and accessories dealer with a penchant for iconic eye-wear.

    Deja Vu Refinery’s Debonair frame, smartly inspired by vintage Tart Optical Arnels, are handmade by master craftsmen from cellulose acetate (a high quality plastic that lends itself extremely well to coloration). They boast seven barrel hinges (not just five or, Heaven forbid, three), functional rivets, and rounded arm ends—an improvement on the Arnel.

    "What I'm doing is essentially vintage reproduction. It's something you've seen before but better."

    One need not be an eye-wear connoisseur to appreciate the meticulous attention to detail though. It is readily apparent Pollak has created something special. Each frame presented in a time capsule case wrapped in brown butcher paper adorned in idiosyncratic skeleton art. Pollak's personal wax seal finishes it off. The fact that it glows in the dark only confirms what we've known since discovering Debonairs—Pollak embodies an early 90s old-school cool.

    The Debonair ($135) is offered in 36 frame and lens combinations, polished to a shine or in a matte finish. While the translucent blonde hue isn't for everyone, the tortoise shells are as inspired as the iconic frames that came before. You can pick up your own pair for a limited time at 25% off with the discount code “CASTLEBERRY”. Each pair comes with a lifetime warranty and a grip of envious looks.

    Jul 15, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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