Archives for November 2009 | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

American Percussion | Zildjian Cymbals

Nov 15th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Music | by Michael Williams

The Zildjian company is the oldest family owned business in the United States, tracing its origin back to Turkey in the year 1623. The company was established in America in Quincy, Mass. in 1929 by Aram Zildjian who perfected the art of cymbal manufacturing. Now after many years of making some of the finest cymbals in the world, company is coming up on its 400th birthday. The 14th generation of the Zildjian continue to operate the famous percussion supplier at their headquarters and factory in Norwell, Massachusetts.

As you will learn below, Zildjian invented most of the modern day drum kit cymbals like the hi-hat, crash, splash  and ride cymbals, and famously supplied drummers like Jazz legends Gene Krupa, Max Roach and Buddy Rich. Zildjian was also used by the immensely talented and crazy technical drummer Neil Peart of Rush for most of his career.

Managed Expectations | ACL Shop Update

Nov 12th, 2009 | Categories: Housekeeping | by Michael Williams


ACL & Co. bags...

Dearest ACL brethren,

The plan all along has been to launch the ACL Shop this fall, something I have been saying for months now. Well in the interest of quelling the impatient messages and comments (everyone is asking me everyday), I feel it important to set the record straight. THE ACL SHOP IS GOING LIVE ON NOVEMBER 23RD, 2009. This of course, barring force majeure. The shop will be offering a limited selection of goods under the ACL & Co. label, plus collaboration items from a few other designers (which will be announced on the 23rd). The selection will be minimal at first with new goods coming in every month for the next several months.

Those of you in New York City on November 20th – 22nd will have the option of getting first crack at the ACL Shop merchandise at the Pop Up Flea. I look forward to seeing you then!

The Multidimensional Michael Hainey

Nov 11th, 2009 | Categories: Art, New York City | by Michael Williams


One day after work a week or so ago, I headed down to Thom Browne’s store on Hudson Street for the first time in my life.  I never bothered to visit the boutique because I knew too well that I would never look even reasonably good in Mr. Browne’s clothing. What finally drew me to the stark mid-century space was a solo exhibition of artwork by Mr. Michael Hainey. The show, entitled Less Human/More Being, is the culmination of Hainey’s (who serves as deputy editor of GQ) development as a painter. He puts it best in a recent post on “I went through a long wrestling match with myself: You can’t paint. Who do you think you are? But I kept seeing my poem—“How I Learned to Pray”—as a painting. Finally one night I said, ‘Enough! This may be crazy, but I have to make this painting.’ I went out, bought the canvas and the paint, and locked the door. That was the beginning.”

North Carolina Delights | Cheerwine

Nov 10th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Food | by Michael Williams

Picture 2

Speaking of regional delicacies, meet Cheerwine. The super bubbly cherry soda from Salisbury, North Carolina is the perfect companion for a hot summer day or a trip the your favorite BBQ spot. In fact, Manhattanites rejoice, Cheerwine is available at Brother Jimmy’s and I’m sure a few other locations throughout the city. The delicious soft drink lays a serious ass whoopin’ on Cherry Coke, and I don’t even ever drink Pepsi products so whatever they make that is cherry flavored probably isn’t as good as Cheerwine either.

The Goodness That is Biscuitville

Nov 9th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Food | by Michael Williams


A Biscuitville near Greensboro, North Carolina.

The thing that makes homogenization work is that it makes people comfortable; you can go to Starbucks in Chicago or Dubai and it will basically be the same thing. While this can be soulless and depressing, it can also come in handy. A hungover breakfast in Tokyo for instance (#eggmcmuffintime). But I also love to discover the regional spots that have yet to fully conquer the landscape. In Ohio this manifests itself in the form of Bob Evans. This past weekend I was in North Carolina and couldn’t miss the always delicious and still privately held regional chain Biscuitville. To me, Biscuitville is the Southern breakfast equivalent of the West coast burger mecca In-N-Out. The biscuit making began in 1966 as a way for founder Maurice Jennings (who owned a Pizza chain called — wait for it — Pizzaville) to do a breakfast business. In 1975 the first full time biscuit operation opened in Danville, Virginia and Biscuitville was born. The rest is history.

The Scout Video | The Craftsmen of Billykirk

Nov 5th, 2009 | Categories: Video | by Michael Williams

The Billykirk offices are in a converted warehouse on Bay Street in Jersey City, NJ. The space is filled with all sorts of old industrial equipment (that actually gets used in making their products) and tons of Billykirk gear that is either on its way to the Amish folks that make the goods or to some of America’s best stores. Another thing you will notice in the office is all of the great looking artwork that Kirk Bray creates in his free time. If you go by the studio on a normal workday (much like I did yesterday), the brothers Chris and Kirk Bray will kindly welcome you and then proceed to talk your ear off. It is a good thing though, always interesting and inspiring and they will never let you leave empty handed. With its new video series The Scout shares some of the magic that makes the Billykirk guys great artisans and equally great people. The video is an enjoyable watch and it sets a high standard. Congrats to the Billykirk fellas and also to Tom Ran and the folks behind The Scout. Well played indeed.


Nov 3rd, 2009 | Categories: Cleveland, Michael Williams | by Michael Williams


Growing up I spent many a fall Saturday delivering firewood for one of my father’s businesses. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had — my Dad still talks about how much I loved the work. Firewood season was in September, October, November, so I would only really work on the weekends because I was still in school. Most of the firewood would end up at homes on Cleveland’s affluent East side. Places like Pepper Pike, Beachwood, Shaker Heights, Waite Hill, Chagrin Falls, Orange and Russell Township. It was in these places that I mastered the art of stacking firewood and it was on those roads in which I cut my teeth driving a dump truck. I can still maneuver a truck in reverse down a curvy 200 yard driveway, loaded to the gills with firewood. Surprising that that doesn’t become more handy living in Manhattan. Anyway, people would inevitably want us to stack the wood as far away from the truck as possible. So we would hand carry a cord (About 10 pieces at a time and around 400 pieces of wood total. That would make a 4 x 4 x 8 foot stack.) or two across decks and yards and through garages. Past their Saabs and Range Rovers and Porsches, it was awesome.

All of the wood would have to be counted, twice. We would load the truck and count every piece, planning for however many deliveries we had. Many times we would have to come back to the yard and reload several times on a busy Saturday. Then, when back at the delivery spot we would have to count each piece again as we unloaded. This made it difficult to bullshit with your coworker, because you would lose count and that was a major pain in the ass. But the work was good and you were your own boss. Once the wood was all delivered you were done and it was easy to see the progress and gain a sense of accomplishment. That is the real beauty of manual labor — you have a job to do for the day and when it is done, so are you. Every fall I remember those firewood delivery days fondly.