Earlier this year, Kempt declared a six-month moratorium on Steve McQueen. Amusing and all, but there’s a reason we didn’t sign on. McQueen madness comes in waves, and it’d be a dereliction of duty to ignore the one about to break. Not in fact on the style front; until you burn all your shawl collar cardigans in Tompkins Square it’s useless to debate his permanence and pre-eminence on that score. But we’re feeling more McQueen than ever this summer thanks to various happenings in the land of the King. For starters, his wicked 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo is coming up for auction in August during Monterey Car Week. A new graphic novel called Steve McQueen: Full-Throttle Cool is about to become our favorite beach read. And a documentary about his classic 1971 racing flick Le Mans which debuted at Cannes was just tapped for theatrical release this fall. And we all know that three makes a trend piece.
There are some things that could only be designed by a dad. They’re so practical, so goofy, so full of insane dad-logic that in the end they’re just these perfect, one-of-a-kind, problem-solving hacks. (Think of the tennis ball hanging in the garage, weird fishing rod holders in the shop and any other “customization” that can be found around a house where a dad has had too much time on his hands). Of all these great paternal ideas, however, the Pops Q Tool might be the apex of dad creativity and efficiency. It’s a barbecue multi tool with 6 different well designed grill-related features. It’s extremely durable, well-priced, and to top it off, made in America by a small family business.
There’s been this massive and insane run on old Toyota Land Cruisers in the past few years. Recently there have been sales of FJ40s at auction for insane amounts, which has been wild to see. As someone who has lurked in the FJ vintage market for the past five years, I can’t believe how high things have gone for a vehicle that at one time was a totally unimportant. And while I haven’t pulled the trigger on an old FJ (yet), I have become a professional online hunter of trucks I will never buy or own. Jonathan Ward from ICON probably wants to kill me at this point because I ask him his opinion on some new random classified just about everyday, or at least once a week. He probably knows I am not going to buy (unless just the right thing came along), but entertains me nonetheless. But sometimes the thrill of the chase is almost good enough.
During one my many searches I would come across an outfit in Tampa called Volcan 4×4 (which may or may not have taken inspiration from ICON), who sells some very nicely reconfigured FJs and other assorted vintage off-roaders. Most of the stock originated in Central and South America only to be bought, shipped and overhauled in the U.S. by Volcan in Florida.
Being good at Twitter isn’t something I would normally say about someone. Now this goes beyond understanding social media as a professional, and it’s more than being a “digital native” whatever that actually means. But when I think about Chris Black who’s new book I Know You Think You Know It All was inspired by his informative use of social media, I almost always come to the realization that this guy is just good at Twitter. Obviously Chris is good at many other things and not just some highly evolved Twitter jockey. If you know Chris in real life it is easy to see how his brand of quirkiness and humor translate so seamlessly to first Twitter’s punchy medium, but also to this humorous (and honestly, helpful) new book. I met with with Chris for a quick Q&A at one of my favorite haunts Lafayette to see if perhaps I do actually do know it all.
Michael Williams: How did this, or when did the idea for the book come about? … When did you first get the idea for something like this?
Chris Black: I didn’t have the idea, actually. Powerhouse had the idea.
MW: Oh really?
CB: Powerhouse approached me about doing it, and I was obviously open to it. Who doesn’t want to make a book, you know what I mean? Especially if someone asks you. But it was you know his, Wes from Powerhouse who’s my publisher, I think the idea stemmed from Twitter, you know. That’s where he got the idea from.
MW: He saw your Twitter?
CB: Yeah, and him and I were friendly, and he followed me and his wife, who follows me too, and they like kinda talked about it is the story that I heard and then they asked me if I would do it, and I was like yeah man, whatever, you know.
MW: So were they thinking like you know you’re good at Twitter, obviously. You’re a quasi social media professional.
CB: Very quasi.
The little inland town of Ojai has popped up on my radar a lot over the past few years. Many of the creative folks who work for Patagonia in Ventura live up there and generally sing praise for Ojai. Word is the Malloy brothers (heros!) live on a farm in Ojai where they grow all sorts of edible earthy things when they aren’t making amazing films and commercials. If it sounds idyllic, that’s because it is.
More than that, Ojai is a town flirting with the idea of change. There seem to be a few opposing forces there in Ojai’s little inland paradise; the old guard who seem a bit more Santa Barbara, or Santa Fe for that matter, and then there’s a younger “cooler” flock of folks looking for quaint LA meets Austin, Texas vibes. It’s sort of a tale of LA hipsters versus old school hippies. There’s also (what seems like) more crystal healing in Ojai per capita than any place I’ve ever spent a weekend.
Though it’s not all just odd ball (sorry if you are into that kind of stuff) rock healing techniques in Ojai, there are definitely some interesting things worth seeing making the town a very worthy destination. There’s Bart’s Books, an incredible open air bookstore that will easily wreck an afternoon. The Ojai Rancho Inn is a sort of like what it would be like if the Ace hotel posted up in Don Draper’s motel room in Utah in the series finale of Mad Men. Ojai’s also got a few interesting shops that readers of this site would like including Summer Camp which occupies a former gas station (in the best possible way) and the standout new retail outpost In the Field. We discovered In the Field with the help of some local friends (though The New York Times had the scoop way back in November of 2014) and couldn’t have been happier to see such an excellent little desert style oasis.
We’ve all heard the famous stories of soldiers who ran through Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at the close of World War Two, taking home his silverware, or Nazi banners, or even his personal photo albums. Yet, this pilfering was not unique to that one battalion, as there’s evidence of American soldiers across all ranks taking home their own personal keepsakes from the war. Most of the time these were standard battlefield ephemera – guns, badges, helmets, etc. but in Japan this desire to bring something back home actually led to the creation of a specific garment, the souvenir jacket, which soldiers would purchase from little stalls before making their way back to America.
Just when you think every possible “content” story has already been unearthed, obsessed over and whirled around by a bunch of blogs — Dustin Cohen goes and tells the fascinating tale of Conrad Milster, Pratt Institute’s long time chief eccentric (and engineer). This brilliant story is about as interesting and touching as I have ever seen in a short little Vimeo. The take away, this man is incredible and New York certainly doesn’t make em like Conrad anymore. Much admiration both to him and Dustin for keeping things interesting around here.