Archives for May 2011 | A Continuous Lean.

Otherwise, no salad.

May 31st, 2011 | Categories: Random | by Michael Williams

A rare personal note from your humble steward about how people from the midwest interpret salad.

Yesterday at about 11am I went for a walk along the Hudson River and decided to give my mother a ring to see what the folks we up to on their Memorial day down in Florida. First of all, my mother starts off the conversation with, “Happy Memorial Day.” To which I reply, “Mom, I don’t think Memorial Day is a holiday in which you extend well wishes to people. It’s not New Year’s Day or anything.” (Which is part of what inspired the previous post.)

What can you say, mom’s got a good Midwestern heart. (Did I mention their place in Florida is on the gulf side? Or maybe you guessed that, because the gulf side is where the midwesterners go. That’s just how they roll.) Once all of the “Happy Memorial Days,” were out of the way, I asked what she was up too? “Making potato salad” she said. My next thought was instantly to the below video. Then I immediately missed my folks and the Memorial Days of my youth in the Middle West — even if it means that these days I’ll need to go to the gulf side of Florida to get some “salad.”

It is amazing how much this series hit home with me and how ahead of their time they were. Here’s an extra helping of potato salad for you Mr. Morris. Otherwise, no salad.

Memorial Day & the Story of the Higgins Boat

May 30th, 2011 | Categories: Americana, History, WWII | by Michael Williams

Andrew Higgins as photographed by Charles Steinheimer for LIFE 1942

The federal holiday Memorial Day began in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina by formerly enslaved Africans to honor the dead soldiers of the Union army. Eventually the holiday was expanded and today Memorial Day honors all Americans that currently serve, have served, and of course, those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Being someone who has a keen interest in the WWII conflict (especially enjoying the work of historian Stephen E. Ambrose) I think it fitting on this day to highlight Andrew Higgins, a person of great service to America (and intrigue to me) as the inventor and builder of the Higgins Boat. The landing craft that somewhat famously became synonymous with the industrious man who created it, saw action in every theater in which Americans fought and dramatically altered the outcome of World War II.

Andrew Higgins as photographed by Charles Steinheimer for LIFE 1942

The North Shore Sporting Set

May 26th, 2011 | Categories: Jared Paul Stern, Sport, TNSIL | by Jared Paul Stern

“A Small Patch of Long Island Houses the Rich and Great of New York” Life announced in 1946 in a cover story on the North Shore photographed by Nina Leen, focusing on the sporting set. “It requires little more than an hour to drive from the sweltering summer heat of Manhattan to the cool comfort of the Piping Rock Club” in Locust Valley, the magazine noted. “But it can take a lifetime, if not several generations, of financial and social success to become one of its 700 members.” Nonetheless in the land of Gatsby they discovered there “a pattern of life that is ordered, gracious, and, amid great luxury, basically simple,” not to mention damned stylish.

Made in Italy | The Iconic Gucci Loafer

May 24th, 2011 | Categories: Factory Tour, Italy, Made in Italy 2011 | by Michael Williams

On the outskirts of Florence, in Italy’s traditional shoe-making home, sits a nondescript, boxy building that was built during the post-war Italian industrial boom of the 1950s. While the factory doesn’t look like much from the outside, once through the door it’s an altogether different story. The facility has the honorable distinction of making the Gucci loafer, one of the most iconic shoes made by one of the most prestigious and revered brands the world over.

If teleported into the building without any knowledge of the craft that held within those walls, one could reasonably think workers were turning out semiconductors or some other ultra-modern device. The neatly-organized space is bright and clean with machinery clustered sporadically along a looping line. It is the perfect marriage of technology and traditional craft with a seasoned group of shoemakers, sewers and cutters all under one roof. The nexus of old and new world is best exemplified in the attire of the tradespeople themselves; each worker wears a white lab coat with a beautifully tanned leather apron in a charming way that only Italians can pull off. The craftsmen attach the leather loafers to the last by hand with a nail and hammer while sitting on a little wooden stool at a well worn and purpose built work bench. Even the tools have their own Gucci embossed leather kit to keep all necessary instruments organized and at hand. Looking around, I had a vision of what it would have been like for an Italian 1950s me driving my Cinquecento to the factory, grabbing my apron and going to work as a skilled (and humble) craftsman. If Daniel Day Lewis can do it, why not me?


May 23rd, 2011 | Categories: SIGNALS | by Michael Williams

  • You can have every issue of Playboy dating back to 1953 on your iPad for $8 a month. I personally subscribe for the articles. [iPlayboy] [Likely NSFW]
  • These folks do just about everything right. Much respect. [Schoolhouse Electric]
  • Like a battle-hardened Native American JJJJound. #daywrecker [Them-Thangs]
  • A week later and I no longer secretly hate Eric Yang for having an X100, as I now have my own. [The Material Review] [Pictured w/ friend]
  • So so so good… a blog that is “for the ladies,” but I think it is just for me. [Tomboy Style]
  • UPDATE (BONUS): Bergdorf Goodman has a Tumblr. The future is now. [The Bergdorf Goodman Swipe]

— Shameless plugs: follow ACL on Twitter and Facebook. —

New York City in Black & White

May 21st, 2011 | Categories: New York City, Photography | by Michael Williams

34th Street. Note the building with the billboards who wouldn't sell to Macy's so they built around it.

There’s something about these old photos of New York that continually draws me back. I actually posted some other images from this collection by Berenice Abbott back in 2009 during the thick of the economic meltdown, which sadly many people are still dealing with. Abbott’s photos — which were commissioned by the WPA and are part of the New York Public Library’s collection — cover a large swath of New York life during the mid-1930s, another very difficult period in our country’s history.

Even though you may have seen these before, these photos are never a let down. To me it is interesting to see how much the city has changed and of course, how it hasn’t. You can see the complete set here and can own the book too, should you desire.

Under the elevated train. Beautiful.

The bread was warm. Note the fog on the glass.

Untimely Coverage of Autumn Outerwear

May 20th, 2011 | Categories: Fall, Outerwear | by Michael Williams

The nice weather got us thinking, when is it going to be cold again so we can start buying new fall jackets? Actually we didn’t really think that,  but we did come across these photos from the last round of trade shows of the the Woolrich John Rich & Bros AW11 collection and figured now is as good as time as any to start thinking about fall outerwear. These two jackets were the standout pieces from the new fall collection and were designed by, (you guessed it!) none other than our hero, Tokihito-san.