Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Seattle Icon of Epic Proportions

The Location: Lowell's, an iconic restaurant in Seattle's Pike Place Market.
The Inspiration: The Epic's "Fuzzy Photos from Great Bars."
This Afternoon's Drinks (at least a few of them):

"Mi Novia" (muy, muy caliente)

Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

Naughty Nellie Golden Ale

Whether you live in Seattle or not, The Pike Place Market should always be on your hit list.  Aside from the expected excellent seafood markets, bakeries, cheese mongers, cafes, etc., there are the unexpected things and places which really make it shine. Locals and tourists collide, mingle, smile at each other and it's all good. Shopkeepers are genuinely friendly and don't seem to be there just doin' another shift. We are all happy to be here. Lowell's is great because it has three floors of seating all with epic views of Elliott Bay, West Seattle, and the Olympic Mountain Range. Note well: the bar is on the second floor and the best time to go is any late afternoon.  Ask for Nick.

Hip Hip Chin Chin! Signing off for a week - Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Boom Boom Bow

Almost one year from today, we will set sail out of Victoria, British Columbia for our  approximately two week voyage to Maui. Four of us on a 36-foot boat and the Pacific Ocean. I am looking forward to the total media purge, the inability to yield to the calling of my favorite blogs, the inability to write blogs, and the knowing what it's like to see nothing but water for days upon days. I'm told that you cross over out there, mentally, and that there is no going back. Like Cortez, I just might have to "burn the boats" when I get there.

The Race (held bienially)

The Boom

The Bow

"Seven Seas" by Echo & The Bunnymen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Preppy Pajama Poseur

The Urchin of Venice
I was forced to watch "The Tourist" the other night.  Mrs. Cascadian Prep brought it home to watch - not for the story, but for it being set in Venice. My parents had just returned from Venice and it had stoked MCP's interest.  (I don't have an interest in Venice anymore than I have an interest in any over-touristed, smelly town. Trieste... now there's a town.)

Anyway, Johnny Depp spent considerable time running along Venetian rooftops in his "jammies."  It was at this moment that I realized I didn't have any official pajamas in my wardrobe... just the typical boxer/t-shirt set-up. Also, realizing that our family would be hosting a female exchange student soon and that I probably shouldn't be gallivanting through the house in such unsecured raiment [read "eminent wardrobe malfunction" here] I set about procuring a real set of PJs. 

The author's first set of real pajamas in two decades.

I landed on these from Lands' End.  And in the spirit of going big or going home, I got the double monogram - one on the shirt, one on the pants.  When I came downstairs in them to show off, MCP rolled her eyes so much and with such vigor, I thought she was having a seizure. That's fine.  She can harsh the PJs and harsh the double monogram, but we'll see if she ever gets to wear them now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seersucker in Seattle - GTH Pants?

For God's sake, when does it end? It broke 70° F here yesterday, so in a rapturous moment of summertime cheer, I busted out my Jos. Bank blue seersucker pants. I snuck these new babies into my closet, right under the nose of the Mrs. I found that when I procure new garb, if I can sneak the package off the front porch, get it out of the plastic bag and into my closet undetected, I'm home free. Well, not this time.
"When did you get those?" she asks wryly.
"Oh, I've had them a while. They've just been in the back of the closet." I reply.

"First with those red pants, now with the stripes? Can you say 'mid-life crisis?'"
"No!  I can't say 'mid-life crisis' and I won't, I won't, I won't."
An LA stomach with an Oakland badonkadonk

The rumpled writer in repose

I have to admit, I do, at times, resent living in a region where seersucker pants and jackets are as uncommon as the Oregon Spotted Owl, but come on, why should the South and Eastern Seaboard have all the fun?  And as far as the West Coast goes, California probably encourages seersucker to be worn to their famous garden and poolside parties. So WTF Pugetropolis?

That's OK, I'm wearing them anyway, but I probably will wait until the temperature hits the upper 70's/low 80's, when Cascadians are whining about how oppressively hot it is.  I will wear them when my fellow citizens are so tired and rundown from the heat that they can't muster a smirk or laugh. And if they do manage a chiding laugh, I will respond with a laugh and remember what that favorite of all seersucker-wearing icons - Mark Twain - said. 
 Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand. - Mark Twain

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Voluntary Simplicity

"The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It's so easy to make it complex."
So says the sage figure - Yvon Chouinard - in a scene from 180° South

The quote (and documentary) really resonates with me, but instead of trying to wax poetic on the subject of voluntary simplicity, let me take a simple stab at trying to put the idea into a prep context.

Preps gravitate towards quality, the classics, and the time-tested.  Be it "stuff" like clothes, cars, and furnishings or those pursuits of the mind and soul: education, charity, and the spirit of stewardship.

Tradition. Ritual. They link us to the past and give us a heading for the future. I try not to clutter my closet or my mind with "stuff" I don't need. A "prep lifestyle," or moreover, a "Cascadian prep lifestyle" suits this aspiration.  Fortuntely for me, the people of the Pacific Northwest (for the most part) get this concept. But then again, it's hard to be showy and ostentatious when you're indoors so much of the time or when you don't know whether the person next to you is a billionaire. (Seriously)

Men's Patagonia Rain Jacket

As a company and as a brand, Patagonia also gets this concept. Now don't think I'm getting all weepy on you. One has to be very selective in what you buy from them or you might come out looking like a "Trust-a-farian" - you know a Rastafarian wannabe with a trust fund - or that pizza guy at your favorite summer or winter resort who "doesn't care about money," yet drives an A6 and lives in the corner suite of that new condo complex. Just sayin'.

Keepin' it simple in Cascadia... one "Rain Shadow Jacket" at a time.

(At the time of this posting it's  57°F and lightly raining.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow-up to Nantucket Reds / U2

As a follow-up to my posting on wearing the venerable Nantucket Reds to the venerable U2 concert, I'm sharing this posting from Daniel Rosenthal in Quora.  It's funny and it aptly explains the allure of  U2 and bands like U2 to this Cascadian prep. Just substitute "Nantucket Reds" for "jeans."  Enjoy!

Big Market
Imagine you’re a middle-aged, upper-middle class male.You live in a large metropolitan area. You have a good job. Your wife does Pilates. Your oldest just started Kindergarten. Yes, you’re an adult but you’re still cool! Your jeans cost $125. Sometimes you wear sneakers with a blazer!

You like the idea of being a guy who’s into live music but the last few concerts you’ve been to were a) too loud b) too crowded c) too foreign (you're lucky if you recognize one song). You’ll snap a few photos with your smartphone and tell your bros about it to get some street cred but let’s face it – you didn’t enjoy yourself. There are millions of you. And you’re willing to drop cash to have a concert make you feel cool again.

Product Market Fit
Then you learn that U2 is coming to town – U2! Earnest, melodic, Oprah-endorsed U2! $200 a ticket? No problem. You get a sitter. Your wife is excited – this is going to be great! You invite some friends from college to join you.

On the way, you listen to the “early stuff”. Joshua Tree pumps through the speakers of your Lexus SUV (no judgement - you have two kids!). The harmonies soothe. The lyrics are straightforward. You recall a simpler time before car seats and prostate exams. The nostalgia is so thick you have to wipe it from your face. You haven’t looked at your phone in nearly 11 minutes.

You arrive at the show and see yourself everywhere. Tasteful North Face and Patagonia jackets abound. The stands are awash in earth tones. No one is shoving. No one has a nose ring. These are your people.

The band begins with A SONG YOU RECOGNIZE! You’re on your feet. You’re drinking “craft” beer. Everyone is singing terribly.

And the best part – YOU CAN DANCE HERE! 80,000 people surround you and there’s not a coordinated movement in sight. Even the band sets a low bar. Bono doesn’t so much dance as lunge and bounce. The other guys seem content to nod and rock. All around you, middle-aged people are rocking and lunging and bouncing and singing badly. Is that guy wearing Tod’s loafers and a Barbour jacket? Yes he is. And he’s in the zone.

The set is basically a greatest hits playlist. The band graciously performs two new songs that no one recognizes to give you a few minutes to use the john and grab another IPA. They might as well flash an intermission sign.

Even the political statements go down smooth: “Democracy!” “Fight AIDS!” How could you possibly disagree? You’re not only dancing and reminiscing – you’re spreading freedom and reasonably-priced medicines to distant lands!

And the kicker: not one but TWO encores, the ones you know best – the ones you first heard that summer you painted houses or kissed Katie at the beach party. You’re closing your eyes now. This is sad and sweet. You put your arm around your wife. You’re wondering if Katie ever got married. A third of the crowd departs after the first encore. It’s no big deal – some of us have work in the morning! Anyway, the traffic will be better if everyone doesn't leave at once.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nantucket Reds in Cascadia

Just a quick little posting to say that my faith in Cascadians is restored... at least temporarily.  I donned my relatively new Nantucket Reds at the U2 concert at Qwest Field (Seattle) Saturday night and was met with compliment after compliment. Most kudos came from drunken rabble-rousers, but their words were positive, nonetheless.  Giant-sized grunge guys, middle-aged suburban women on a "Girls Night Out," and Vancouver Canucks fans down for the show all paid tribute to the "Reds." (Congrats to the Canucks who won Saturday's game of the Stanley Cup.)

U2's 360 screen from the floor of Qwest Field

a surreal experience

Since the Mrs. and I had general admission floor tickets (putting us on the crowded field), she appreciated my wearing them since she could see me a mile away - I easily stood out in a sea of blue jeans, baggy brown cargo shorts, and fully-tattooed legs.  There must be something about U2 which causes one to have an open mind because I really thought I would be jeered, not high-fived by my fellow Cascadians.

The pants are great, but you have to choose your venue wisely.  The U2 show was absolutely incredible, and they chose their venue wisely - a metropolitan Cascadian night. 70 degrees F, not a cloud in the sky... only stars and the dulcet tones of The Edge's guitar.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Filson - "Might As Well Have The Best"

No self-respecting Cascadian prep or general man's man would be caught dead without his side adorned with a Filson briefcase. Quite simply THE. BEST. BRIEFCASE. EVER.*

the mark of [cascadian]excellence

I have the "Original Briefcase" in otter green, which today sells for $210.00 (a steal). Made from rugged twill glazed with oil, it is indestructable; and if you do manage to rag it out, the good people at Filson will repair it or replace it free of charge.
Shop floor at Filson

At their flagship store in Seattle, Washington, one may view the factory (sewing) floor from the showroom, which reveals several of the sweetest-faced little ladies from SE Asia you'd ever want to know made your briefcase.

interior of Filson
Have you noticed the "Harley wave" or "Porsche wave"? You know, when owners of these vehicles see another enthusiast, they give the two-finger signal, as to show membership in the same club.  With Filson, it's no different - get in an elevator or on an airplane with it, you are sure to get the nod or that two-fingered gesture in recognition of your impeccable taste.

* NB:  Not suitable for all professions or in all office environments. If you wear a suit to work, this style of briefcase (and brand) may not be appropriate, any more than wearing brown shoes to a black tie affair is. However, if insouciance is your MO, take the case and the brown shoes to that black tie affair, and have a one-fingered gesture at the ready.