Jackson Hole, WY (1/14/2019)

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Jackson Hole, WY (1/14/2019)

Last weekend, I traveled to Jackson Hole, WY for three days of skiing, snowmobiling, and unforgettable memories. Because there’s more Jackson #content coming, I’ll keep it short. For one, I now get every word of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” For two, here’s why.

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Thank you to Rendezvous Event Management for hosting me on the trip of a lifetime.

More Jackson photos + writing to come, either here or otherwise.



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Flying Into New York

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Flying Into New York

The first thing you notice is the light pollution. From 50 miles out, burnt purple blots away the stars. There is a city on a hill and you are descending into it. The second thing you notice is how that makes you feel.


Flying into New York feels like resignment. To visitors, it is elation. But visitors do not fly into New York. They travel to it. They see it. They visit.

To New Yorkers, returning from outside means the start of a stopwatch. 


I land at this time. It takes me this long to get home. It takes me this long to sleep. It takes me this long to commute. How long will catching up on email take me? When is that thing due? Will I have time to tick tick tick tick tick tick tick.


The range of an AIM-7E missile is 28 miles. From twice that distance, I-95 light pollution hones in on its own airborne targets.


Are you flying into New York, or is New York flying into you?


(This post brought to you by vacation hangover. Bury my heart in the Rockies.)


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New Years

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New Years

I feel guilty liking 2018.

In the popular narrative, this was the worst year. The sum total of events earmarked “2018” made it Hell on Earth. Wildfires. Politics. Geopolitics. There is a knot in the stomach of America, and each day, that knot twists tighter seemingly just because it can. That does not make for easy living.

In my personal narrative, however, 2018 was great. I graduated college. I wrote a lot. I got the job. Waking up at 6am to get back from the gym at 7:30am so a desk is filled by 9am is the stuff on AnSo nightmares. To me, it feels productive. As the saying goes: “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.” I hope the rest of my life doesn’t include New York rent, but in so many senses, it’s damn good to be here.

Which brings me to here. The big “here.” This fleeting moment, one letter a time.

2016 was the worst year until 2017. 2017 was the worst year until 2018. 2018 was the worst year. Until what?

There’s a part of me that believes the large, secular trends filtered to us through the daily panic are nowhere close to over. Elections won’t fix structural changes. Podcasts won’t fix eroded institutions. If I look both ways each time I cross the street, I’ll likely live long enough to see how our shared complex system dissipates 30 years of tension. As an 18-25 year old male, I hope it’s peace.

But here’s where the guilt really kicks.

One year from now, we’ll know whether the knot has tightened - whether past trends predicted future results. 2019 may be a year of collective exhale. 2018 may have been our 1968. If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t be blogging. Time has a way of healing all wounds, and again, looking both ways should let me stick around long enough to see it.

However, if the plate tectonics we’re experiencing play out, some of the earthquakes now manifesting - rising inequality, asset inflation, divisive politics - may look more like foreshocks.

I hope they don’t. I hope the next year is happy, healthy, and productive. But if it’s not, it’d be nice to say “2018 was great” without furrowing brows.

Optimism and guilt. Forecasts and foreshadowing. A cocktail of emotions spurred by a night of cocktails. Must be New Years.

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Review: Norrøna oslo Insulated Parka

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Review: Norrøna oslo Insulated Parka

This winter, I wear-tested Norrøna’s oslo Insulated Parka ($699) around New York City as part of Clean Clothes, a series by the folks at Highsnobiety on sustainable clothing. This cold-weather jacket is made with as much recycled content as one can cram into a serious winter coat. How does a racecar move when it’s designed like a Prius? Read my full review here.

Special thanks to Bryan Luna (@bryanluna.co) for the photos.

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Review: Haglöfs Eco-Proof Jacket

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Review: Haglöfs Eco-Proof Jacket

In Fall of 2018, I wear-tested the Haglöfs Eco-Proof Jacket ($310) as part of Clean Clothes, a series by the folks at Highsnobiety on sustainable clothing. The Eco-Proof is a stylish waterproof hardshell made for re-use, repair, and recycle. How, then, does a jacket made to save the environment fare when the environment turns nasty? Read my full wear-test at the link here.

Special thanks to Bryan Luna (@bryanluna.co) for the photos.

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What I'm Listening To 12/11/2017

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What I'm Listening To 12/11/2017

A playlist of songs I can't stop listening to, posted Mondays. This week: The Monkees, The Searchers, The Dear Hunter, and a few indirect articles, too.

I got on a real oldies kick last week and ended up finding some really funky sounds. For example: the soundtrack to an award-winning TV movie called "Cowboy in Sweden" (1970). The movie was panned; the soundtrack, beloved. Check it all out in the playlist below.

 

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Highsnobiety: These Were 2017's Wildest Innovations in Clothing Technology

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Highsnobiety: These Were 2017's Wildest Innovations in Clothing Technology

My latest for Highsnobiety, this time covering the craziest clothing tech innovations from the past year. From 3-D printing to the Levi’s x Google jacket, even a year without a Flyknit can still shift paradigms. Check out the full story at the link here.

 

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What I'm Listening To 12/4/2017

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What I'm Listening To 12/4/2017

A selection of songs I can't stop listening to, posted Mondays (but only some Mondays). This week: Rostam, Mutual Benefit, and a Vampire Weekend cover of one of the most beautiful songs ever written. There's a wide berth of sounds this week, and in a rare turn, every one makes me genuinely joyful. Maybe it's the warm weather; honestly, who's to say?

Regardless, enjoy the music. If it makes you happy, too, all the better.

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Highsnobiety: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Winter Coat This Season

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Highsnobiety: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Winter Coat This Season

In my latest for Highsnobiety, I put together a complete part-by-part breakdown of the technology behind your winter coat, then gave my choices for 2017's best outerwear. Make some coffee, put on music, and put the phone face-down - when I said "complete," I meant it. This one's a longer read than normal.

Still interested? Click here for the full guide, and by all means, enjoy. This piece more than others was a true labor of love, and I hope it shows.

 

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What I'm Listening To 11/20/2017

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What I'm Listening To 11/20/2017

A playlist of songs I can't stop listening to, posted Mondays. This week: Tennis, Bastille, Groundislava, and other synth-heavy tracks to make trudging through snow a little bit more deliberate. Check out the full playlist below: 

 

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What I'm Listening To 11/13/2017

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What I'm Listening To 11/13/2017

An infrequently-posted playlist of songs I can't stop listening to, occasionally posted Mondays. This week: Little Dragon, Grouper, and Oneohtrix Point Never. Don't let that bizarre name turn you away - Oneohtrix makes some amazing if esoteric sounds. Case in point: the ending of "Chrome Country" is the prog rock Interstellar cover I never knew I wanted.

Check it out at the link below.

 

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Highsnobiety: 2017 Was the Year of the Celebrity Sneaker Co-Sign

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Highsnobiety: 2017 Was the Year of the Celebrity Sneaker Co-Sign

My latest for Highsnobiety, talking one of the most insane trends to ever hit the sneaker industry. From Amber Rose to Gary Vee, 2017 was "the year of the co-sign." How long before celeb sneaker collabs become just another part of the merch table?

Read the full story at link here.

 

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Highsnobiety: These 10 Brands Are Killing It On the Fabric Innovation Front

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Highsnobiety: These 10 Brands Are Killing It On the Fabric Innovation Front

My latest for Highsnobiety, talking fabric innovations and the smaller firms that power the industry's growth. Everyone knows Nike and adidas, Flyknit and Boost; now, get to know the rest. 

Read the full article at the link here.

 

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Highsnobiety: Let’s Face It, Buying Sneakers Has Become Way Too Complicated

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Highsnobiety: Let’s Face It, Buying Sneakers Has Become Way Too Complicated

My latest work for Highsnobiety, this time covering the crazy world of sneaker releases. I argue that "bots vs. brands" is an unwinnable fight, that gamified releases are less crack than whack, and that jumping through flaming hoops shouldn't be a prerequisite to hooping in Jumpman. How's that for turns of phrase?  

Read the full article at the link here

 

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Breckenridge, CO (10/17/2017)

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Breckenridge, CO (10/17/2017)

It only took three years, but for once during undergrad, I took a proper break. 

Last week, five friends and I ventured west to the mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado, a ski resort/outdoors mecca sitting at 9,600' above sea level. It was, in every sense, breathtaking. The American West is my happy place (runner-up: the Canadian West), and after two summers of New York office work, a return to thin air and mountains was a high without compare. 

A selection of my favorite shots from the trip are below. 

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Shoe Review: Beckett Simonon "Cohen" Loafer (2017)

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Shoe Review: Beckett Simonon "Cohen" Loafer (2017)

Shoe: Beckett Simonon "Cohen" Loafer in Dark Brown (2017)

Price: $199, from BeckettSimonon.com

 

Loafers hold a special place in the footwear pantheon: for a shoe so simple in design, their identity couldn’t be more complicated.

Descended from a traditional Norwegian fisherman’s slip-on, the English sporting loafer first gained wide appeal as a souvenir brought back on the feet of those who could afford a voyage to the fjords. It then migrated to the resort scene (see: “those who could afford”), allegedly arriving in West Palm Beach, Florida during the 1930’s. There, this lower effort alternative to the Oxford found a group both conscious of image and short of time: the American collegiate male.

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Immortalized in the movie Animal House as the prepster’s piece de resistance, loafers - specifically, the Bass Weejun - became popular on Northeastern college campuses for their blend of athletic ease and aristocratic connotation (see: “those who could afford”). In American popular imagination, the fate of the loafer would forever be East Coast Prep.

Across the pond, however, a different thread was unraveling.

Right around the time that Bass & Co unveiled the Weejun in 1951, England’s “mod” culture stepped into the mainstream. London's mods staked their identity in an idea of a polished, affluent, post-war modernist – from suits to scooters to the shoes they wore to use both, an ideal “mod” product was one that realigned the old to the lines of the new. Slim-fit suits were a part of it. English rock was a part of it. Loafers gave a mod his steady foundation.

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Only twenty years later, however, the “new” was old enough to become new again. The loafer’s association with the music of mod culture gave English punk and New Wave artists license to lean on the venerable silhouette, and before long, even American pop artists were adopting the shoe for its newfound “edge.” Michael Jackson’s moon-walking Florsheims were this wave at peak.

A Norwegian fisherman’s shoe worn by Ivy Leaguers and English Punks, made spectacular by the 1987 VMA winner for Best Choreographythere’s a penny for your thoughts.

 

Impressions

At the time of this review, I’m an American college student attending a prestigious university after a childhood spent in the greater Northeast. Long story short: my read on loafers is more Dead Poets than downtown punk. Yet, even though my wardrobe consists mostly of white tees and dark pants, I was pleasantly surprised with the mileage I get from these shoes.

First things first, let’s meet the loafers. The slip-ons in questions are the Cohen Loafer by Beckett Simonon, a direct-to-consumer e-comm shoemaker offering handmade dress shoes at accessible prices. As GREATS is to sneakers and Warby is to eyewear, Beckett Simonon (BS?) is to formal footwear. Cool products. Low prices. Done.

Speaking of product: the Cohen.

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Aesthetically, Beckett’s loafer is a classic Ivy-style slip-on. There’s a moccasin toe (check), a one-piece back (check), and an austere, sensible monotone upper (Worthington Check, the III). While it’s as generic as they come, for a first pair of loafers, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I own a navy suit, grey chinos, and olive green J. Crew shorts. If I’m wearing a shoe whose connotation meshes with each of those, I’d prefer its looks to do just the same.

Materials-wise, the Cohen is just as traditional. The shoe’s upper is made from full-grain calfskin, lined with untanned vachetta leather for sockless comfort, and then stitched to a leather outsole with a rubber heel cap for added traction. While it’s far too early for me to comment on durability, the leather feels thick out of the box and the stitching is, well, done by hand. For the three weeks I’ve worn them so far, I’ve been impressed by the quality.

“Three weeks of wear?” I’m glad you asked.

It’s time to talk wearability.

As mentioned above, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with just how wearable the Cohen loafer is in casual settings. My on-campus wardrobe consists of white tops and neutral bottoms, varied by occasion: smart casual chinos, late-to-class tees, you know the deal. In these bounds, I’ve yet to find a silhouette where loafers don’t work.

When I need to make an impression without a jacket or tie, sockless loafers paired with cuffed chinos and an OCBD are a subtle way to say “some effort is cool.” When it’s 40 at 9am and 90 at 4pm (shoutout Michigan fall), a crewneck sweater and chino shorts look right at home with shoes meant for loafing. On a sunny day, Cohens can even make a plain tee and chino shorts lean Cape Cod. I wear mine most often with 8" shorts and an uncuffed OCBD in hopes it will one day lead to yacht ownership. 

That being said, as a 21-year old male, loafers are still primarily a formal shoe. Compared to, say, Nike’s sublime Flyknit Racer (another streamlined, low-heeled athletic silhouette), the context created by a century’s worth of Ivy League association might not always be additive compared to the meaning evoked by another similar shape. I’m a firm believer that most aren’t buying loafers to replace their Common Projects, but I don’t want to give the impression of a casual shoe “magic bullet.”

There are many ways to fill a shoe tree, and while our handsome, punk-meets-prep leather low-top may have the cultural bones to play more roles authentically than other shoes, the Cohen Loafer is still not the only shoe you should own.

What it is, however, is a damn good generalist.

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While boat shoes may have worked well for that junior year semi-formal, even the most minimal 2-eyes err heavily towards the “casual” side of smart casual. The same is doubly true of the brown leather “dress sneakers” sold by most heritage brands. On the converse, even a “casual” brogued oxford is typically interpreted as much more biz than the opposite.

In the middle of it all: loafers like the Cohen.

 

Disclosure: Beckett Simonon sent these shoes along to me for nothing more than a request for an honest review, and to me, an honest review requires the reader trusting the writer - hence, the candor. My sincere thanks to Donna at Beckett Simonon for her kind gift. 

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Highsnobiety: Sneakerboots Shouldn't Be A Thing

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Highsnobiety: Sneakerboots Shouldn't Be A Thing

Earlier this week, I reenacted the ending to Cronenberg's The Fly. Four Pins said it best: the Roshe Winter Mid is a war crime. Read my latest for Highsnobiety at the link here

 

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Highsnobiety: Let's Stop Pretending Balenciaga's Meme-Bait is Cool

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Highsnobiety: Let's Stop Pretending Balenciaga's Meme-Bait is Cool

Last week, a straw broke the camel's back. Read my latest for Highsnobiety at the link here.

 

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Grailed: A History of Arc'teryx Veilance

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Grailed: A History of Arc'teryx Veilance

Earlier this month, I set out to give one of my favorite menswear brands the history it has long deserved. Visit Grailed to read Climbing Higher: A Complete History of Arc'teryx Veilance now.

 

Special thanks to Taka Kasuga, Conroy Nachtigall, Bernard Capulong, Gabriel Authier, and Marco Barneveld of The Dyneema Project for making this piece possible.