Archives for December 2009 | A Continuous Lean.

Keep ‘em toasty

Dec 30th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Footwear, Made in the USA, Shoes, Socks | by Michael Williams

With the arrival of arctic weather on the East Coast my Bean Boots (the Gumshoes) have been in heavy rotation. Actually, I have the habit (bad?) of wearing those Bean Boots nearly round the clock. In my twisted mind they are shoes (not boots) and there doesn’t need to be snow or slush anywhere in sight for these bad boys to see action. The thing about wearing those boots when temperatures are in the teens (and below), socks are the key to comfort. Enter Fox River Mills — my wintertime sock manufacturer of choice. Fox River Mills is the perfect convergence of necessity, function and style. Plus, their prices are reasonable and I will give you one guess where they are made.


Two in the Books

Dec 26th, 2009 | Categories: Housekeeping | by Michael Williams


A little acknowledgment to ACL’s second full year of holding down this corner of the internets. The past year has been some of the best of times and some of the worst. Of amazing opportunities and of difficult challenges. Things will never be the same for me as a person after these past 12 months — it has been a year of learning and self assessment, a time forged of realigned priorities and hope for new possibilities. I’m happy to have come out of it with both feet firmly planted on the ground. In my everyday life I tend to consciously or subconsciously use a lot of my father’s sayings (something our family has come to know as “CJisms”) and one of them came up more than the others in 2009. With business being tough, everyone would ask how I was doing (not really about ACL, about my “day Job”) and I would always reply with a CJism via Benjamin Franklin. I would say: “I wake up everyday and check the obituaries, as long as I’m not listed it is a good day.” That’s how I felt for most of the year.

That’s not to say good things haven’t happened or it wasn’t a good year, it was just tough. I’m happy with what ACL has become and I am still excited to post and share things with everyone everyday. I’m also happy people support the little companies on The American List. Every once in a while I get an email from people at the companies listed, they are always gracious and appreciative of the list. I treasure those emails, and the thought that collectively we are making a difference. More than anything, I’m grateful that you guys choose to spend part of your day with me. I’ve learned to take things less personally and to roll with all of the BS that comes with something like ACL.

At the end of the day (or year as it may be), I’m happy for the friendships ACL has brought me — and you guys know who you are. I want to specifically thank the fellas at GQ for the support and for taking a chance on an unknown kid. Andrew Comer, Adam Rapoport and Michael Hainey — thank you. Bobby Solomon for all of your hard work in making ACL look and work great — I owe you one (or ten). I also specifically want to mention a few people that really mean a lot to me and have been unwavering supporters both personally and professionally: Sean Sullivan, Randy Goldberg, David Coggins, Nick Maggio, Mordechai Rubinstein, Josh Moore, Jason Ross, Nick Schonberger, Mark McNairy, Aaron Levine, Brian Awitan and Paul Witt. Much respect and thanks for everything. Look forward to more in 2010.


Related: ACL | One in the Books

Glenn O’Brien: At The Bar.

Dec 23rd, 2009 | Categories: At The Bar, David Coggins | by David Coggins


The first in a series of interviews, ACL contributor David Coggins joins The Style Guy Mr. Glenn for a chat and a cocktail AT THE BAR.

Over the course of his career, Glenn O’Brien has been all things to all people.  Writing for GQ, he dispenses sartorial gospel and incisive wit as The Style Guy. Before that he was a columnist at Artforum and Details. He’s at home writing about I Claudius, cufflinks, or John Coltrane. As an adman he was responsible for the image of Barneys, Calvin Klein, and Island Records. He’s also been an editor: perhaps you heard about his tenure at Interview magazine. Through it all, O’Brien still makes time for his hobbies: golf and housekeeping.

Ultimately, Glenn O’Brien excels at being Glenn O’Brien—he brings his personal style to bear on every endeavor. What is that style? Curious, urbane, unafraid of the profane. In short, he’s an iconoclast at home everywhere.

We met at the bar at Il Buco, his local Italian.

The Santa Fe Super Chief

Dec 22nd, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Amtrak, Design | by Michael Williams


Starting in 1936, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway offered service from Chicago to Los Angeles on their luxurious new train the Super Chief. The line was the Southwestern-colored-art-deco-themed flagship service that became known as the “The Train of the Stars” because it was the preferred mode of transportation by celebrities traveling cross country. The Super Chief —which by 1937 was offering daily service — was the first ever all-Pullman sleeper car train in the United States and featured fine dining in the exclusive Turquoise Room.

LIFE Archive | Marlon Brando in The Men

Dec 17th, 2009 | Categories: LIFE, Movies | by Michael Williams


There is a great photo set (by Edward Clark) in the LIFE archive of Marlon Brando preparing for his 1950 film debut The Men. The story was based on a group of returning WWII vets that had to cope with the mental and physical injuries of war. After coming off of his role in Broadway’s Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando spent a lot of time at a VA hospital preparing for movie.

A Formal Announcement Regarding the ACL Shop

Dec 14th, 2009 | Categories: Housekeeping | by Michael Williams


Above: Cole Rood & Haan, Co. for ACL.

Since I never made a formal announcement, let me take this opportunity to walk you through some of the goods in the ACL Shop. The whole idea of launching an online store came after the idea to start making these little zipper folios to use when I travel. I would actually end up using the little bags daily while ferrying my laptop and camera from home to work. Well, the bag idea was hatched in 2005, long before ACL. When I finally got my act together and decided to move forward with the production of the bags (which will be restocking early next week) I got to thinking that a shop full of zippered folios isn’t very exciting, so I pulled together a small collection of things that I wanted to wear or use. Most of the items in the ACL Shop are unique to the store, collaborations like the Cole, Rood & Haan Co. chukka and the Billykirk canvas briefcase.

The Heritage of Hamilton Shirts

Dec 14th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Shirts, Texas | by Michael Williams

Rodeo Parade

During my recent visit to the Hamilton shirt factory one great part about being on the company’s home turf was all of the historic material in their showroom. If you were going to create a fake old company you would probably try to dream up a heritage like Hamilton’s. Take for instance the above photo of Gene Autry leading the 1942 parade for the Houston Rodeo with Hamilton’s sign and shop in the background. For me, it really doesn’t get much better than that. History is something I am inherently interested in and it is also something that drives the content here on ACL. So when a company is still making an original product today, something that has a distinct connection to the past, it is a home run. Well, it isn’t always a home run, but it certainly is in the case of Hamilton. One look at the photo of R.H. Hancock (pictured at the end of this post) and I was sold. Speaking with David and Kelly Hamilton about the company’s history and some of their more memorable customers was worth the trip to Houston alone, the shirts and the factory was icing on the cake.