December 8th, 2014

Pep Squad

I saw this sweatshirt on the Hickorees site and its vague goofiness amused me.

Dubbleworks

So I bought it for myself so I could properly front my own One Man Pep Squad. I’m basically a 67-inch tall exclamation point when I pull it on.

ScottRees

I’ve had a lot of luck with Hickorees this past year, picking up an expanding stash of Japanese-made sportswear with overtly American undergrad-ish graphics inked across them.

HickoreesSweatshirt

They make me look like I’d grown up a member of all sorts of wild and rugged clubs I wasn’t actually quite cut out for.

    November 11th, 2014

    Nicole Portlock Ceramics

    I got really into ceramics the past year and spent a good chunk of change this summer on works from ER Studio and Bari Ziperstein, among other sources.

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    My latest find is the smoke-fired pieces from Nicole Portlock, a ceramist out of Ireland.

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    Like asymmetrical eggs hatched out of the swirliest depths of the milky way, her work is earthy and other-worldly all at once, and my first Portlock piece is due to land in my hands any day now!

      November 10th, 2014

      My Hair’s Holy Grail

      My hair’s short, un-colored, never blow-dried and yet somehow its always incredibly dry. To the touch it honestly doesn’t even feel like human hair, it’s like some brittle broom bristles the Blair Witch would make creepy dream-catchers out of.

      Historically I haven’t ever been much of a conditioner-user, just shampoo, and just once a week. But the conditioners I’ve bothered to bathe with the past few years in an effort to soften my hair haven’t seemed to help all that much.

      Nor has applying coconut oil to my hair, or that Argan Oil of Morocco always on the endcaps at Target, or Aveda’s leave-in conditioner, or indulging in V05 hot oil treatments.

      I mean all these things help a little. But in a way that merely seems to mask my problem temporarily.

      SachajuanIntensiveHairOil

      Then recently I read how Jenna Lyons really liked Sachajuan Intensive Oil for both her son and herself – and the product packaging was minimalist-chic, so I figured it was worth a shot.

      Well, it’s not just worth a shot, it’s worth a whole bonkers blog post. The stuff’s sublime!

      One small, mess-free pump’s worth of it run through my after-bath hair initially gives it a glossy, coated-seeming sheen. (But that’s what the coconut and argan oils did too – just sorta coat my hair to make it slick on the outside, without doing much for the core/overall condition of my hair. At first application, Sachajuan was truthfully leaving me skeptical.)

      But here’s the difference. With Sachajuan, twenty minutes later, the oil’s worked its way off the outside of  your hair and immersed itself within. (Coconut oil never does that. Your head stays like that of a drippy DeBarge band member all day.) The shiny slime of ordinary hair oil vanishes with Sachajuan, and my hair then just feels softer in an organic and inherent and little-kid way – plus it sorta pumps ‘n plumps my hair up, making it feel thicker (which, when pushing 40, is a welcome side-effect).

      There’s no residue, the effects seem to last a few days, so I only feel the need to re-apply a few times a week. It’s just the sweetest, most delicious syrup for my griddle-scorched-seeming head.

        September 4th, 2014

        Metsa Design – Indigo Dyed Henley

        A clothing label named after the Estonian word for “Little house in the forest” automatically has my attention, and possibly half of my heart.

        IndigoHenley

        Founded by Markus Uran, Metsa Design is neither bolstered nor burdened by the American heritage hullabaloo because it’s a Canadian label basing its aesthetic off a different (national) backstory and brainstorming its own visual narrative.

        IndigoDyedWovenHenley

        There’s a freedom and freshness to Metsa’s mindset that men on any side of every border would benefit from, I think. A sense of further off horizons, unvisited yet familiar.

        MetsaDesign

        All of that, I think is especially evident in the first piece from the line that I purchased, an indigo-dyed woven henley. Lightweight and weathered in its coloring, dyed by hand, rinsed (quite possibly) in a cool Canadian lake, it’s a proper piece for summer or fall, be it 1913 or 2014.

        MetsaWovenShirt

        With a design originally inspired by the day shirts of field hands in South East Asia, cut and then colored in Canada, tagged in Estonian, these handmade henleys are perfectly suited for a British-born half-German living a boundary blurring version of an American life.

          August 28th, 2014

          Summer Getaway – Camp Wandawega

          From Prohibition-era brothel to 1950s lake resort to 1970s summer camp for the children of Latvian Catholics, Camp Wandawega’s been working its woodsy magic on all kinds of folk for almost ninety years now.

          WandawegaWagon

          In its current incarnation, Wandawega’s the semi-private playground of two Chicago-area advertising execs who open up their Moonrise-y Kingdom for wedding parties, clothing catalog shoots, and corporate retreats. Lower-key kids like me just looking for some outdoorsy fun in a Pinterest-worthy paradise can book left-over nights/cabins/beds through AirBnB.

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          WandawegaBadminton

          Hurly and I and our niece/honorary daughter Kaya booked a Wednesday through Friday stay in the three bedroom “Raccoon” cabin.

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          WandawegaWall

          But we were the only guests at the camp the first night, so our host Joe took us on a lengthy historical tour of every cabin, every guest room, every tree house, every pup tent and every tepee on the site and said we were welcome to sleep wherever we wanted.

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          We ended up sleeping in our assigned cabin both nights, but we napped indulgently one afternoon in the American Indian tepee, and Kaya helped herself to what we goofily called a “hooker’s bath” in the women’s restroom at the old brothel, and we wandered all around Wandawega freely, wowed by the wall-to-wall antiques which were just begging to become the backdrops for photoshoot after faux-catalog-style photoshoot.

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          Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

          Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

          We enjoyed plenty of un-posed fun too, scout’s honor. From shuffleboard to board games, hatchet throwing to canoe rides, we did everything the spirits in Lake Wandawega could’ve wanted us to.

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          Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

          Everyone’s favorite activity was swooping over the lake on the two rope swings. One had a wooden plank on which you could sit and sorta relax. The other was Tarzan-style, set-up for shooting yourself out and into the sorta scarily shallow waters.

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          From the fonts on the front gate, to the travel-sized soaps set atop your beach towels, every aspect of Camp Wandawega resurrects the retro charm and hospitality honed during the golden age of American road-tripping and long since lost.

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          There’s even an old-school souvenir vending machine from which I picked out a Wandawega motor-lodgey keychain and Hurly and Kaya selected an Indian arrowhead necklace.

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          Souvenirs

          By artfully assembling in one place all the Kodachrome-y, memory-building traditions that family vacations should be made of, as Camp counselor/curators David and Tereasa have, my little troop’s settled on making summer trips to Wandawega a tradition of our own.

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          Next time I hopefully won’t travel three hours back toward Minneapolis before realizing I’ve left my military duffel bag full of Teva’s and T’s from Hickorees back on the bunk beds at our Wisconsin summer home-away-from-home. (D’oh!)

            August 25th, 2014

            Gimme Som

            Being that I don’t drink alcohol and I rarely wanna waste my sugar intake on a bottle of soda pop, my life, beverage-wise, is admittedly pretty dry.

            SomDrinkingVinegar

            While shopping for birthday gifts earlier this summer I spotted Pok Pok’s Som drinking vinegar, which sounded like just the sort of offbeat and antiquated refreshment I’d be into.

            DrinkingVinegarRecipe

            Mixed into water, sparkling water, or liquor-centric cocktails, drinking vinegar has been enjoyed worldwide for centuries as a refreshing, health-boosting tonic.

            DrinkingVinegar

            At the shop where I came upon Som they stocked the Ginger, Thai Basil, and Tamarind flavors, and wanting the most exotic experience possible, I went for Tamarind. Unscrewing the vacation-colored bottle, the scent was incredibly sour. But once I’d mixed it with sparkling mineral water the taste was much closer to a sweet soda, with just a hint of astringence.

            TamarindDrinkingVinegar

            I especially like being able to control the amount of sweet ‘n sour I splash into my glass. It’s summer, so it’s nice keeping things on the light side.

            Som is offered in six additional flavors including Pineapple, Honey, and Blackberry. I’m wondering if they’d be weird or weirdly wonderful poured over ice cream…

              August 19th, 2014

              Topo Designs Fleece Jacket

              About April or so, though I can’t explain exactly why, I decided I should own a sorta norm-core-ish fleece piece. I wanted it tan or teddy-bear colored and tried (and tried and tried) to find an end-of-season Patagonia zip-up that I quite liked. But that just never panned out so I set my eyes on Topo Designs.

              TopoDesignsJacket

              Based out of Colorado, Topo’s Made in America mountain-wear treks through the natural-high vibe of 1970s camping gear but with surfy splashes of late 80s and early 90s shades.

              FleeceJacketCoyote

              Their Coyote-colored fleece pullover was out of stock for most of the spring, and too thick to slip into during the peak of summer. But you can already feel fall in the air round where I live, so this weekend I was finally able to layer up in my Topo. The way it feels in the cool morning wind when the sun shines right on it is sublime – like getting snuggled by cinnamon toast or something.

              TopoDesignsJacket

              I don’t think I’ve wanted to wear fleece since 1997, but right now it’s feeling really, really right.

                August 7th, 2014

                This “Making of Contra” video makes life worth it.

                As you will soon see in this new documentary about the creation of a not-that-new-anymore album, Rostam, the band’s smirky keyboard player, blacked out the white letters “YAM” on his favorite little keyboard so that it just reads “AHA” instead.

                AHA, for sure!

                The lives of these musical brainiacs are one brilliant lightbulb moment after another and I’m locked in the ultra-bright glow.

                  August 5th, 2014

                  Warby Parker – Waterway Collection

                  I’ve been to the eye doctor no less than seven times in the past eight months. Something’s off with one of my eyelids and so after twenty-five years of wearing contact lenses almost constantly, I’m supposed to stick to a four-eyed life for the foreseeable future and only wear eyeglasses.

                  WeltyWarbyParkerUnderwater

                  It’s never been easy finding frames I’m a fan of, for myself or for my hubby Hurly. But there’s a bunch I’ve found at Warby Parker recently, and today they’re launching a summer-stretching update of some of their popular frames called the Waterway Collection.

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                  Inspired by splashy getaways both near and far, there’s optical and sunwear options ranging in shades as light as sea spray to dark as the ocean floor.

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                  I ordered some stellar Warby Parker x Into The Gloss aviator optical glasses last week that are totally Trigonometry Tutor circa 1982. But I don’t want to squint through what’s left of summer’s shining so some prescription sunglasses are definitely in order.

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                  The Crystal Percey (second image from top) and the Whiskey Tortoise Griffin (above) are the new styles I’m seriously eyeing. Era-less and effortless, I could wear whatever I’d want with either of them.

                  WarbyParkerWaterwayCollection

                  Obviously I wouldn’t have opted for the eight months of eyelid irritation that’s led to my recent adventures in all-day/all-night eyewear, but the opportunity it’s now provided me to dive into a whole new segment of shopping and accessorizing is just fine and quite fun – allowing and inspiring me to refresh my entire aesthetic through the breezy ease of Warby Parker’s take on eyewear.

                    July 28th, 2014

                    Old Factory Soap Company

                    Imagine the waves of the ocean being frozen mid-crest and that’s the ruggedly beautiful look of Old Factory Soap Company’s bars of organic soaps.

                    OrganicSoaps

                    For men, the Texas based skincare line batches together three Adventurously Scented bars into one brick-y little blue box.

                    EventHorizonSoap

                    Event Horizon combines olive, activated charcoal, and black iron oxide into a black mossy, moody little two oz. bar.

                    WoodeSoap

                    Flaxseed and French red clay combine for the pack’s color-blocked Woode bar, spicy if not camp-fiery in its cinnamon-y scent.

                    OldFactorySoap
                    Peppermint leaves, raw goat’s milk, and Virginian tobacco anoint the Herb & Soil slab as the most dawn-breaking of the bunch, cool and invigorating on mornings that feel everything but.

                    Stacked atop one another like topographic tablets on my dresser, I found them almost too strikingly sculptural to pick a piece up and put to good use. But getting clean without black iron and such seemed suddenly super boring, so I got over it real quick.

                     

                      July 23rd, 2014

                      Cinematic – The Terrace Theater

                      Places speak to us, I can hear them saying things.

                      TerraceTheaterMinneapolis

                      In older spaces, like the Terrace Movie Theater right outside of Minneapolis, when I look at photos of its heyday I hear an excited voice saying, “This will be a great space, designed with care, making the people inside it feel important and the time they spend inside it feel important. This attention to design, this feeling, will bring people here and bring people back which will make the space a success and the business behind it profitable.”

                      TerraceMovieTheater

                      TerraceTheater

                      Most commercial spaces (or schools or churches) built after 1979 or so have less inspiring things to say. Something more like, “America is fading and making a profit in it is so hard today. This bland, builder’s-grade structure will do well enough. It’ll keep investment costs and overhead low, and through this approach the space will have an easier time being a success and it won’t be so hard for the business behind it to become profitable.”

                      Both these stories that spaces can tell you make sense, logical sense. But one story makes life better, and America better, and industry and craftsmanship and so much more so so much better.

                      TerraceTheaterRobbinsdale

                      The Terrace theater is like seven minutes from where I live, and one minute from the hospital my sister was born in. I don’t recall having ever been there before it closed in the late 1990s. But it still stands there today, tired and tattered within a parking lot growing so much wild, weedy greenery it looks like those “Earth After Mankind” Discovery Channel specials.

                      Sigh.

                      Apparently at The Terrace there was a TV Lounge for macho husbands to sit and watch sports games and such while their wives watched the latest chick-flick weepies in the theater proper on the big screen.

                      What a place. What a time…

                        July 16th, 2014

                        Northwest Passage – The Road to Twin Peaks

                        Northwest Passage, if you didn’t know, was the working title for what would eventually become the very best anything ever: Twin Peaks.

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                        I was an impressionable and not fully-formed fourteen year-old when the series washed onto the shores of television, wrapping a dead girl in plastic and possessing my mind and spirit ever since like a supernatural demon. My bucket list isn’t terribly long, but touring the series’ shooting locations near Seattle has definitely sat toward the top of it for at least a decade now. Thanks to a Washington state wedding Hurly and I were invited to, my bucket list is now one entry shorter.

                        Come see what I saw.

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                        The night before the wedding we stayed at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, used as the exterior of the hotel where Special Agent Dale Cooper stays while investigating Laura Palmer’s murder.

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                        The interior scenes in the pilot were shot elsewhere, which made it all the more difficult for the lodge owner’s daughter Audrey to walk in on my breakfast and ask if my palms ever itched. But right below me and my (not) damn fine cup of coffee (cause I can’t really stand coffee) was perhaps Peaks’ most iconic location…

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                        …The falls outside the Great Northern! Just steps from the spa, the Snoqualmie Falls looked exactly how they do in the series’ opening credits, though perhaps less sepia-tinged. The stunning spray splashed up to my face as the show’s theme song flowed over my ever-humming lips. In this moment Twin Peaks wasn’t just a show, it was real a place after all, and I was in it, at last.

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                        On the far side of Snoqualmie’s historical district sat the high school where Laura’s classmates learn of her death. I couldn’t get inside since it was summer and shut up tight.

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                        But I could, and of course did, faithfully re-enact the scene of the un-named Twin Peaks Senior High School teacher running from this door, shrieking with her hands on her face right before the Principal tells the student body to go home and grieve with their families.

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                        Not five minutes further down the road was the location of the Welcome To Twin Peaks road sign. Right behind Hurly, right where our ruby red rental car parked, that’s where the sign once stood. The summer foliage and mid-morning mist shroud the twinned mountain peaks in the distance compared to the image used in the first shot of the opening credits and on the show’s soundtrack album cover. I might’ve missed the spot altogether, honestly, if it wasn’t for the assistance of the otherwise useless Siri.

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                        Most of what was used as The Packard Saw Mill closed and collapsed years before, aside from this one building.

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                        The office for the actual mill was used as the Sheriff’s Office. In the pilot, if you look past Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman you can see the mill right outside the interrogation room windows. The Sheriff’s Department structure, thankfully, hasn’t been torn down yet, although now it houses some sort of outdoor adventure company.

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                        Next stop was Twede’s Cafe AKA The Double R Diner. The cafe’s interior is now decorated tragically with Tweedy Bird stuffed animals so I refused to sit and order a slice of cherry pie purely on principal.

                        DoubleRDiner

                        Instead I alternated cell phone selfies with D-SLR shots snapped courtesy of Hurly and recited my favorite Double R line of Donna Hayward dialogue. “Why don’t you sit here and hold hands and try and figure it out.”

                        RoadhouseInteriorText

                        Bar-brawly juke joint The Roadhouse was actually filmed using two locations. The interior was a Seattle performing arts center only my iPhone’s eye was able to enjoy.

                        RoadhouseExterior

                        The exterior was located outside Snoqualmie and no matter how hard I listened I couldn’t hear Julee Cruise crooning from inside.

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                        Way out in Washington, far from anyone who might hear Cousin Maddy scream, was the Palmer Family home. Completely blocked from the street by towering bushes and thick brush it was eerie, sneaking through all that green to get a good glimpse, and thinking about all that had gone on inside that house. On the television show they never shot it from an angle that demonstrates  just how hidden the house really is from view, but seeing the truth of it, there was a sinister, symbolic sense to it.

                        SnoqualmieFalls

                        As our tour wound down, a dreariness came over me. I’d made it as far into a make believe place as is possible and there was an emptiness to that. I couldn’t ever get any deeper into Twin Peaks, or any closer to Cooper, or ever actually ask Audrey if she needed extra help with her amateur investigation into One Eyed Jack’s.

                        The complete un-realness of something that has always been and felt so real to me was brought to light. And yet, even if the ugly emptiness of the modern world insists on tearing down every last saw mill structure or slapping Tweedy Birds all over its restaurant walls to remind me TV shows are just shows and they live for a while and then they die – Twin Peaks has always felt real to me and amazingly, it still essentially does.