Does it really get more American than Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music? Released in 1962 amid the civil rights struggle, the album blends musical styles and got heavy play on both R&B and Country radio. Think about that, R&B and Country are two very different groups of people. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles “the only true genius in the business,” and I wouldn’t disagree. In producing the album, Ray Charles became the first black artist to demand and get complete artistic control over his music, which would be no small feat today let alone in 1962. Modern Sounds in Country Western gets a lot of play in my life and spans moods like very few can. If you don’t know it, hear it. If you don’t own it, buy it. If you buy it, you will love it.
Northern Minnesota’s Bemidji Woolen Mills is one of America’s last functioning woolen mills. There used to be hundreds of mills like Bemidji, Pendelton and Woolrich scattered throughout the U.S., but these days companies making fabric of any sort in this country are few and far between. The town of Bemidji — who claims the title of “first city on the Mississippi River” — seems like it is the perfect place to wear BWM’s seriously classic woodsman gear. Good to see a company like Bemidji Woolen Mills still doing its thing, making nice looking and rugged clothing all in the United States.
When GM announced the closing of the Moraine, Ohio assembly plant in June of 2008, Dayton area filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar set to work on a documentary about the impact of GM’s decision and the effect on the factory workers and the local community. The resulting film The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant — which aired on HBO earlier in the month — is a moving look at a group of hard working Americans. The Last Truck focuses on the people that worked at Moraine Assembly and does a good job of getting beyond blue collar Midwestern stereotypes. As the Dayton Daily News points out, the Dayton area has a automotive manufacturing history that dates back to World War I when native Charles Kettering invented the electrical ignition.
Update: Get it while the gettin’ is good — HBO took the videos off of YouTube. Look out for the film on DVD soon.
That’s America right there — a nice big fella in head-to-toe khaki standing in front of a beat up American flag. If I knew this gentleman I would buy him a beer and ask him about his days in the big one. As I powered through the Life Archive I keep coming back to photos with Old Glory in them. As it turns out, being young and patriotic is on the up-and-up, so it seems my timing is right on. Enjoy some stars and stripes before you head out for the weekend.
Anyone that follows along with my (mostly) nonsensical twitter updates knows that I was lucky enough to head up the Taconic State Parkway to the Orvis Sandanona shooting grounds this past weekend to shoot some clays and learn how to fly fish. The day was hosted by the good folks at Barbour and couldn’t have been more fun. You can read all about it over at Men.Style.com. While you are there, check out their great hunting gear story.
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Riding on the back of a four-wheeler feeling like I am going to battle.
Speaking of Japan. The Beams catalog magically appeared in my office yesterday and I couldn’t help but to scan so you guys can see what the well dressed 2% are up to this fall. (If you are wondering what I am talking about, go read the comments in That Autumn Look | Turning Japanese and it will make more sense.) As usual, I’m loving the Beams+ gear and the styling looks nice. Good luck trying to pull off a safari jacket in the United States, but it is fun to look at nonetheless.
I thought it was worth a look back at this fantastic BBC documentary about Savile Row that was originally posted on ACL May 3rd, 2008. How has The Row reacted? Since it has been far too long since I have been in London, I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments. Have other High Street retailers moved on to the famed street? How is the economic slowdown impacted the tailors?
Not long ago the BBC presented a facinating three part program on the world of Savile Row. In the first installment the English bespoke world is under threat from the American “High Street” brand Abercrombie & Fitch. Having previously worked on the public relations team at Abercrombie & Fitch, I am particularly familiar with the company. It is a very strategic and well run organization. A&F is a company where every decision is well thought out and purposeful, especially when concerning the brand image. I have to give credit where credit is due — the company’s branding and execution is on point with any of the luxury goods companies out there. That said, A&F’s decision to open on Savile Row while great for branding and image purposes, is painful to see and embarrassing to watch, especially as an American. The affect of mass market retailers on the institution (albeit a privileged one) of Savile Row, could prove to be disastrous. Though I suppose only time will tell.
I can’t seem to find the other two episodes…if anyone can locate them I will add to the post.