Americana | A Continuous Lean.

Birdwell Flies High.

Nov 24th, 2014 | Categories: Americana, California, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

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If by chance you have flown to Orange County recently you may have noticed an American surf icon staring at you as you float down towards John Wayne Airport. Seeing “Birdie” Birdwell on a factory roof should come as a surprise if you know anything about this sleepy SoCal surf brand.

Just as surprising as it must have been to scroll through Instagram and discover Birdie adorned to a mobile surf shop in Southern California this summer. Also, wait, Birdwell is on Instagram? The question you should be asking yourself is: What is happening at Birdwell? For any other brand this wouldn’t really mean much at all, but for Birdwell this is tantamount to a revolution.

Birdwell Beach Britches is one of the most storied and iconic California surf brands that has ever been. It’s authentic, still entirely manufactured in the U.S. (largely to the original specs) and it possesses a certain charm that can’t seem be replicated in modern brands. It took decades of being family owned and utterly resistant to change for the Birdwell quirkiness to resonate, ultimately giving the brand a cult following. Over the years surfers, lifeguards, beachgoers and the like fell in love with Birdwell and came to swear by the product for the quality and durability. Others, like me connected with Birdwell because it is so distinctly American and a time capsule of a brand.

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At Home in the Natural World: Yellowstone in October

Oct 28th, 2014 | Categories: Americana, David Coggins, Fishing | by David Coggins

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Yellowstone National Park is stunning all summer, but in October it’s even more stark and striking. The grass becomes the color of straw, the bison get frost in their fleece and mist rises off the rivers in the cold. Most of the crowds have gone—though there are still knowing visitors—and snow dusts the mountaintops.

Then there’s the Madison River, the main attraction for anglers making their late-season pilgrimage to the Park. Brown trout head into the river to spawn, their color bolder, deeper red and gold. Following the fish are people who wake up early in the freezing dark to go stand in the water. In feels foolish at times, but when it all comes together it’s clear that it’s the right thing to do.





Why We Still Need True Dive Bars

Oct 23rd, 2014 | Categories: Americana, Cocktails, Drinking, Jake Gallagher, New York City | by Jake Gallagher

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By definition a dive bar has no definition.

If you ask someone to define a dive bar, their answer won’t be about a dive bar it will be about their dive bar. Whether it’s the drab basement bar where they first sucked down a one dollar High Life, or some one-light-bulb hole in the wall where they continue to drink away the post-work hours, everyone’s vision of a dive bar is inherently personal.

Emily Dickinson once wrote, “I can’t tell you, but you feel it.” I imagine Dickinson was describing love (or just as likely despair) with this line, but her sentiment is just as true for a dive bar. Yes, there’s a certain atmosphere that all dives share. The outdated decor, the dusty bottles, the stone-faced bartender, the stench of stale domestic beers, a dirt cheap prices (often because the beer is just so damn bad.) We’re all familiar with these dive bar tropes, but what really makes a bar a dive is a feeling. It’s the sense that the world outside has disappeared, and for however long you sit on that raggedy polyester stool everything else can wait. It’s just you, a sweating bottle of beer, and your compatriots. Even if those compatriots are just the thoughts in your head.





The Surprisingly Stylish Side of Hugh Hefner.

Oct 13th, 2014 | Categories: Americana, History, Jake Gallagher, Magazines, Style | by Jake Gallagher

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Hugh Hefner is one of those rare individuals that appears to exist in a universe all his own. Sure, there’s the physical “universe” of the Mansion, the Bunnies, and the never-ending party that is Playboy, but there’s also something much deeper. Hefner has made a career out of the sort of images that you wouldn’t want your boss, girlfriend, mother, or fellow straphanger to catch you looking at, and yet, Hef still manages to come across as a gentleman at every turn. Of course, there is something slightly off about a nearly-ninety year old man that wears robes in public and is married to a women sixty years his junior, which is why we prefer to remember Hef for his younger, more presentable years.

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Remembering The Golden Age of the American Airport

Sep 26th, 2014 | Categories: Americana, History, Travel | by Jake Gallagher

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At this point, modern air travel is so unpleasant, so inconveniencing, so downright annoying that talking about it almost seems pointless, like shouting into a jet engine. If there is one positive to be extracted from all of our collective airline agony, it’s that it forces us to reflect upon a time when air travel was not only enjoyable, but dare I say, sexy. Shows like Mad Men, and movies like Catch Me if You Can play into our rosy-eyed curiosity with mid-century air travel, portraying well-heeled passengers, sociable stewardesses, and those beautiful modernist concourses. Airports of today are drab reminders of just how far you are from home, but in the early decades of air travel these buildings were sleek, shiny shrines to the future. The terminals that serviced America’s larger cities at this time were designed to not only help carry passengers from point A to point B, but also to reflect the progressive spirit of commercial air travel, which had really only taken off (no pun intended) in 1958 with the advent of the Boeing 707. So buckle up, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position, and travel back in time with us to the golden age of the American airport.





The Grey Crewneck | Essentially Essential

Sep 23rd, 2014 | Categories: Americana, Fall, Jake Gallagher, Made in the USA, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

On the set of Sometimes a Great Notion

Here at ACL, we prefer recommendations to requisites. The term essentials, as we’ve waxed on before, is criminally overused these days, and so we try to adhere to the rule that nothing we cover is so vital that everyone positively must own it.

Except in this case.

Everyone, regardless of gender, regardless of age, regardless of style, could use a grey crewneck sweatshirt. Over, under, up, down, across, through, no matter how you may wear it a grey crewneck is, dare we say it, yes, an essential.





The Escape Artist | Dennis Hopper in Taos.

Sep 21st, 2014 | Categories: Americana, History, Jake Gallagher, Movies | by Jake Gallagher

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It’s become a standard Hollywood story: an actor gets burnt out by the scene and decides that they need to get out of L.A. for a little. They disappear to Marfa, or Capri, or Burning Man only to make a public re-immersion a month or so later, capped off by an interview about how “refreshing” their sabbatical was. Even vacations are punctuated by press releases these days.

The roots of these restorative respites can be traced back to Dennis Hopper, who in 1970 decamped to Taos, New Mexico. Unlike his contemporaries Hopper was driven not by his public image, but by a genuine desire to escape. After fifteen years on the silver screen – beginning with Rebel Without a Cause and concluding with his period-defining masterpiece, Easy Rider, Hopper was in need of a change of scenery. When he had arrived in Hollywood in 1955, he was a straight-laced, baby-faced kid that hadn’t even reached his twentieth birthday yet. In his polo shirts, traddy suits, and slim ties, Hopper had the clean-cut look that execs were looking for, but unfortunately, so did countless other young actors just like him.

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