The Made in Brooklyn series from filmmaker Dustin Cohen won’t stop telling good stories. The subject this time is Frank Catalfumo of F&C Shoe Rebuilding in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn who’s been making and fixing footwear out of his little shop since 1945. Despite being 91 years old (or ninety and a half as he says), Frank is still going strong working five days a week alongside his son Michael. It’s really interesting to hear about how the neighborhood has changed in the nearly seventy years since he’s been there. While Bensonhurst may not have stayed the same, Frank with his sunny outlook has persevered.
The best endorsement of a product is through the people who use it everyday. That is the philosophy of Tellason and its founders Tony Patella and Pete Searson, so they set out to highlight the most interesting people who wear their jeans. The stories of these intriguing end users eventually became a series of mini-documentaries that illustrates the mindset of not only Tellason, but also the compelling characters that back the brand.
The first film in the series shines a light on photographer, artist, graphic designer and motorcycle builder Todd Blubaugh, “who loves to document two-wheeled adventures with a camera” all while wearing Tellason’s jeans. Not only is it an entertaining story, it’s also an interesting perspective on what Tellason is all about.
Stephen Bilenky has been making bicycles in North Philly for the past 30 years. His company Bilenky Cycle Works started out as a repair shop, and then soon after morphed into a custom manufacturer of great looking and highly functional bicycles. The operation was recently the focus of a mini-documentary which beautifully illustrates the commitment of American small batch bicycle fabricators. The film illustrates the commitment and skills that it takes to make high quality bikes like these. And while a Bilenky bike carries a significant price tag, one can easily see that these people are not exactly in this to get rich. Things like these bicycles take time, effort and know-how — money seems like it is the last thing Stephen Bilenky is interested in.
Short videos of people making things is nothing new around these internets. How many factory videos have I posted on this site? Answer: a lot. Does it mean that all of the attention to craftsmanship is slowing —not so much. And it is not dissipating because it is still interesting. People are also becoming more and more interested in actually making things —be it leather goods or food items. Small batch goods from small batch makers in towns all over the world.
The discovery of the tumblr Those Who Make came as a very welcome surprise. The site is sort of a catch all for interesting maker films — sort of like a regionally unspecific version of my Fuck Yeah Made in USA, but with a more open concept for food, consumer goods and all sorts of other interesting stuff. After looking through, I found some of the food / spirits films most intriguing and original. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but the culinary film aspect hasn’t been as front and center. With the exception of the Mast Brothers who must have had thirty shorts focus on them. I pulled out a few of my favorites, and added in a few other recent film discoveries that seemed to fit the same bill.
I should add that far and away my favorite film of this sort was made by The Smith (discovered via Devour) who profiled hunter / gatherer /cook Rohan Anderson —who could be the most badass man on the internets since Aaron Draplin crushed the world one slice of illustrator at a time. Watch as Rohan builds himself a smokehouse by hand, all with bacon in mind. It is a gloriously representative film for a mesmerizing movement that I hope continues to flourish.
One of the Missing is the late Tony Scott’s first film about a Confederate soldier on a scouting mission during the Civil War. The story was written by Ambrose Bierce (an equally adventurous and talented man) in 1888 and is an incredibly powerful piece of American fiction that led to a stunning (and now, a rather uncomfortable) directorial début by Tony Scott.
While the motivations and circumstances surrounding his death aren’t abundantly clear, Tony Scott was an incredibly gifted artist and storyteller. While the style of One of the Missing differs greatly from the style that made him a one of the most successful directors of all time, it is easy to see the man’s brilliance here.
In the spring of 2008 I posted the video of J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler’s captivating appearance on Charlie Rose. It was after watching that program back then that I first started to get an idea about what makes Mickey tick. Over the past several years I have seen first hand that Mickey is a truly fascinating person. Tonight, CNBC takes things a step further with a one hour documentary about Mr. Drexler and J.Crew. Judging from the clip below — which CNBC surprisingly sent over as an ACL exclusive— we’re all in for an interesting evening tonight.
While filming in the Albini Group mill in Bergamo Italy, where Thomas Mason fabrics are made, Silvio Albini, fifth generation to run the mill was showing Mickey Drexler (and CNBC’s David Faber) how it all works. During the tour, Drexler noticed a sign on the factory wall that reminds him of a customer email and he springs into action.
One last personal tidbit about Mr. Drexler. When The New York Times profiled me as part of the “New Breed of Bloggers,” one of the first emails I got was from Mickey —a person whom I’ve had a few meetings with over the years but is really someone I don’t know— wishing me congratulations. It was surprising to say the least. But just like in the clip above, the man is connected to the business in a remarkable way.
After watching motorsports of just about every species, I’ve ultimately evolved to appreciate one race more than the others: Le Mans. The 24 hours requires incredible endurance, driver skill and unparalleled reliability. It is unlike any other event in the world and is, in my opinion, the best racing in the world. One other wonderful aspect of the race is the fact that Le Mans has been followed very closely over the years and a lot great footage exists, much of which is on YouTube. I thought posting some of this footage is especially timely with the recent passing of American motorsports legend Carroll Shelby (more on that shortly) and with the race coming up in a little more than a month from now.
And if you haven’t seen Audi’s stunning 2009 documentary Truth in 24, you need to get on that. Audi also just announced Truth in 24 II which centers on the German automaker’s 2011 victory. With subject matter like Le Mans, there’s no way that this new doc will be anything but great.
1954 Part I
1954 Part II