Lawyer Makes Good on Royalties

September 30, 2010

Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp’s recently hired standout lateral Greg Olaniran makes a good amount of money the same way Mr. T. does: syndicated television royalties.

Mr. Olaniran practices in that little-known but highly specialized, and very lucrative, area of the law which deals with the $200 million paid annually by satellite and cable television companies to use previously copyrighted television broadcasts. His past and current clients include Disney, Paramount, WWE, Sony, Universal, Lion’s Gate, NASCAR, and Animal Planet.

The specialty is known a “compulsory licensing” and Mr. Olaniran got into it by working up patent infringement cases against upstarts like Napster, which is representative of a class of technology start-ups which he thinks take illegal liberties with the property of copyright owners for the sake of quick profits.

Birds Of A Feather

September 28, 2010

The Missouri Department of Conservation, in an effort to increase the popularity of, and opportunity for, pheasant and quail hunting, has created a youth-only quail and pheasant season in October. Your editorial staff wishes the Department every success, and young hunters luck afield, and thought some background might be helpful:

Pheasants can be hunted alone or in groups, though preferably not in groups too large: too many boots tramping make too much noise, and pheasants can easily frighten and take flight too soon. A lone hunter can hunt the edges of fields and fence rows without too much trouble; the solitude and easy pace are strong draws for many.

Larger areas are more difficult to cover without help: more land means more space for a bird to escape to. Hunting bigger plots with friends or family allows for posting “blockers,” hunters stationed at edges of a bigger area who can take birds as they flush wild and dart for cover.

Good dogs can help as much as, or more than, other hunters. Labrador retrievers are especially good bird dogs; so too English setters and Brittany Spaniels.

Pheasants generally start their day at sunrise, poking around the short- and medium-length weeds and grasses in which they sleep. They begin to feed in grain fields around 8:00 am, and generally shooting hours begin one hour later. Pay attention to picked corn fields, where pheasants are likely to find missed kernels and ears on the ground for breakfast.

By mid-morning, pheasants hunker down in dense cover, and will run to avoid predators. Flushing them a-flight requires bigger groups then, to cover more land. But by late afternoon, the birds are hungry again and move back to grain fields and grazing areas. The first and last shooting hours are consistently the most productive in pheasant hunting.

Once taken, pheasant meat should be properly cared for, especially in warm weather. The best way is to dress and cool the bird immediately, following the directions of almost any chicken recipe.  

Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar Treasure

September 26, 2010

Entertainer Bing Crosby loved baseball to such an extent that he bought a share of the Pittsburgh Pirates professional ball club, which he held until his death in 1977. Mr. Crosby took in games in person when his schedule permitted, and by television otherwise… except in 1960, when the Pirates clinched the World Series title by downing the New York Yankees, 10-9 in a final game. He followed that one in Paris, by radio, afraid that his presence stateside would jinx the team.

“We were in this beautiful apartment, listening on shortwave, and when it got close Bing opened a bottle of Scotch and was tapping it against the mantel,” recalls Mr. Crosby’s wife, Kathryn, in The New York Times. “When [Pirates second baseman Bill] Mazeroski hit the [game-winning] home run, he tapped it hard; the Scotch flew into the fireplace and started a conflagration. I was screaming and [our friend and host] Nonie said, ‘It’s very nice to celebrate things, but couldn’t we be more restrained?’ ”

That particular baseball game is widely considered one of the best ever played. “It was such a unique game to begin with,” said Pirates shortstop Dick Groat. “It was back and forth, back and forth. It was unbelievable.” In addition to unbelievable, that game was also widely considered lost: NBC, which had broadcast it originally, hadn’t archived its footage. Most game footage was erased or recorded over during the 70s. The end of that unique World Series survived only in memory and in recorded radio commentary.

Except in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar, where silver canisters containing tape of the game were recently discovered. Mr. Crosby, having exiled himself to Paris for the duration of the match, had engaged a film company to record it for him. The recording is five reels in length, the only known film record of that game.

The Quotable Drinker

September 20, 2010

“Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals”

-Abraham Lincoln

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

-W.C. Fields

“They say some of my stars drink whiskey. But I have found that the ones who drink milkshakes don’t win many ball games.”

-Casey Stengal 

Observed In New York

September 18, 2010

Via the New York Observer, by John Pompeo:

For everyday New York men who strive to be reasonably well dressed, it can be a daunting experience shopping for clothes that won’t make you look like an ass.

Simply traverse the labyrinthine corridors of Barneys, Bergdorf and Bloomingdale’s, where the all-over-the-place mess hanging from the men’s racks is enough to induce migraines: Are pink ties metro or macho this week? Should slim-fit jeans really be this tight? Why do these scruffy flannel lumberjack shirts cost $300? And what’s with all the crazy stripes and extra pockets and ridiculous eagle prints? Things aren’t any simpler inside the showrooms of up-and-coming men’s wear designers, a casual survey of which might make a discerning fellow ponder whether he’d rather look like an urban vampire (Robert Geller), a coal miner (Gilded Age) or a confused sailor (Rogues Gallery).

All of which helps explain the current appeal of American “trad,” short for traditional: an Ivy League–inflected style that’s managed to retain an old-school sensibility without seeming dated or costumelike. Trad is, quite simply, a safe haven for sartorially selective gentlemen amid the ever-growing chaos of department stores and runways. 

Think Oxford button-downs (and that’s real button-downs, meaning collars that button down, not simply dress shirts, to which the term is often misapplied). Natural-shouldered blazers. Flat-front khaki trousers. Loafers. Bow ties, rep ties. Polo shirts in solid colors. Lots of madras plaid. Early Brooks Brothers. New England WASPs. F. Scott Fitzgerald.“Trad is sort of the antithesis of what’s happening in fast fashion right now,” said Michael Williams, 30, who obsesses over classic American men’s clothing on his blog, A Continuous Lean. “It’s like the opposite of what all the men’s wear designers are doing,” Mr. Williams continued. “It’s not fashion; it’s clothes.” 

THE ORIGINS OF trad date back to the turn of the century, with the founding in 1902 of the New Haven–based men’s clothier J. Press, considered the epitome of the style. The look became prominent on the Ivy League campuses of the 1950s and ’60s, as documented in the Japanese book Take Ivy, a rare photo collection first published in 1965 that’s enjoyed something of a revival in the past year. The term trad itself is said to have been coined by the Japanese, who have also been driving the current fascination with obscure U.S. clothing brands and Americana that’s taken hold at various men’s boutiques, department stores and on a handful of blogs akin to Mr. Williams’. (J. Press was acquired by a Japanese company, Onward Kashiyama, in 1986.)  

Perhaps you’ve noticed Lacoste polos, Ray-Ban eyewear, bow ties and hand-sewn camp moccasins on the streets of Billyburg?

Those who embrace the look say subtlety is key. 

“When done right, it should almost be invisible,” said John Tinseth, 52, an insurance broker and longtime traddy who’s been writing a blog called The Trad—anonymously, until now—for the past two years. He was on the phone from his West 57th Street apartment, dressed, he said, in L. L. Bean khakis and moccasins and a yellow university-stripe Oxford by Rugby.

“A guy should walk right by you and he’ll have the whole thing down and you won’t even notice,” Mr. Tinseth said. “That’s when it’s done perfectly.”

‘Imagine your best-dressed uncle throwing open his closet for you to frolic around in.’—David Wilder of J. Press

In New York, ground zero for trad is the J. Press store on Madison Avenue and 47th Street, one of the company’s four U.S. retail locations. (The others are in New Haven, Boston and Washington, D.C.)

There, you will find David Wilder, a polite 41-year-old sales associate and trad guru to scores of Manhattan males.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Mr. Wilder, who is tall and broad of build, with thin blond hair and Joycean spectacles, was toggling between register, rack and fitting room, stopping every so often to chat with familiar customers, who greeted him brightly by name.

He was trying to find a properly fitting $595 navy blue wool blazer for a young buck headed back to school at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.“I think this one’s going to be a lot better,” Mr. Wilder said, sliding a size 41-long onto the studious shopper’s shoulders.

Mr. Wilder grew up in Greenwich, Conn., “surrounded by Madras jackets and what we would call ‘go to hell’ pants, which are heavily patterned,” he said on his lunch break, over a quiche and a bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale at a sandwich shop across the street from the store. “The type of stuff you’d wear to the Belle Haven yacht club.” He was wearing tasseled Alden loafers; English-made J. Press over-the-calf socks; American-made J. Press khakis with a one-and-three-quarter-inch cuff (the trad standard); a Lewin striped shirt purchased on Jermyn Street in London (a bit racy for a trad ensemble, he said); a flat-knit solid navy blue necktie; and a natural-shouldered navy blazer by David Cenci. (His J. Press jackets were at the cleaners that day.)

 AT YALE, Mr. Wilder studied 18th-century American and European history, and spent several of his summers working part time at the J. Press store in New York. “It was like working in your eccentric uncle’s genteel closet,” he said fondly. “Imagine your best-dressed uncle throwing open his closet for you to frolic around in. Like an insiders’ club for people who love the Ivy League look.”

After that, Mr. Wilder helped run a high-end personal stationery business, Therese Saint Clair, that his parents founded when he was 9 years old, and that he eventually sold in 2001.

About five and a half years ago, after a stint working as a concierge at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, Mr. Wilder sent his résumé to the New York J. Press store on a whim. He was hired shortly thereafter, he said, and has been shilling trad style five days a week ever since.What is the difference between trad and preppy, The Observer wondered?“Preppy is a little broader than trad,” he said. “It’s more eccentric, more colorful.” (All those duck prints!)Trad’s entire purpose is to defy and transcend the whims of fashion, but inevitably some elements will be seen on the runways this week—likely during Thom Browne’s show on Sunday, Sept. 13, at his Hudson Street store (Mr. Browne got a massive plug when Vogue editor Anna Wintour recommended him to David Letterman on her Aug. 24 Late Show appearance).Since 2007, Mr. Browne—otherwise best known for encouraging men to expose their hairy ankles—has been designing a trad-oriented specialty collection for Brooks Brothers called Black Fleece.

This year’s spring/summer line was heavy on the madras, seersucker and paisley, with a predominantly navy blue, white and gray color palette. (A photo that surfaced on The Sartorialist blog in April 2006 of a silver-haired gentleman wearing a slim, short-cut navy blue blazer, a light blue Oxford shirt and dark gray slacks with an ankle-length pant hem ran with the caption: “O.K., Trads, you’re really closer to the Thom Browne aesthetic than you may want to admit.”) Like Mr. Browne, Michael Bastian, who is showing at Exit Art on Sept. 14, is a breakout men’s wear designer known to dabble in trad pieces.“Pick up a Browne or Bastian shirt,” said Mr. Tinseth, “and you can feel the heft of it and know it was made with care.”But a true traddy might opt for the more economical and authentic route of getting his dress shirts custom-made, perhaps by a tailor like Alexander Kabbaz, shirt maker to Tom Wolfe, Mr. Tinseth said. Likewise, a traddy would buy a J. Press suit over one made by a trendy designer.

“This stuff lasts forever, which I don’t think fashion people like because they need to sell new stuff,” said Mr. Tinseth, citing a pair of cordovan shell Alden wingtips he bought in 1986 and still wears today.Mr. Wilder, of course, concurred.“Traddies want something authentic,” he said, taking a sip of ginger ale. “Not something that’s a riff on something authentic.”

The Boston Cracked Shoe

September 16, 2010

Shelby Cullom Davis (Princeton ’30) was a Bostonian of the most patrician, and endangered, variety: an Ivy Leaguer and a very succesful banker, he served eventually as ambassador to Switzerland. In dress, he favored two-button blue blazers and repp ties, khakis with cuffs, and cap-toed lace-ups cracked deeply across the front.

Ivy-Style reports that the look wasn’t confined to Ambassador Davis, either: men across New England subscribed to the Boston cracked-shoe look, wearing shoes long past the point at which they’d gone from new- to used- to battered-looking. The message inherent was three-fold: first, the men who subscribed to the look were, despite success, generally frugal and prudent. Second, they were too well-heeled and removed to be bothered with such banalities as cobblers. And finally, that their primary care was for taste, things well-used to the point of smooth burnishing, and not for high fashion.

Newly-minted lawyers and bankers climbed their respective ladders in spit-shined brogues; the old partners at the top of the ladder had the luxury of comfortable shoes. Cracked shoes meant success.

“The first time this stubborn Yankee frugality came to the attention of the public was during the 1952 presidential campaign,” wrote Ivy-Style contributor Bill Stephenson. “LIFE Magazine ran a picture of Adlai Stevenson with his feet propped on a chair, and there was a large hole in one of Stevenson’s shoes. The press was dumfounded at what they considered to be a huge faux pas.”

What LIFE failed to note was that Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (he declined “Jr.”), scion of a wealthy family of New England politicians, was merely at ease in his own environment, cracked shoes and all. So at ease that novelist Tom Wolfe was inspired to coin, in Bonfire of The Vanities, the phrase “Boston Cracked-Shoe Look” …and it stuck.

Photo via Maxminimus.

Rugby: Dartmouth Hosts Granite Cup

September 15, 2010

Fall rugby season got underway at Dartmouth College this past weekend as teams from the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont, St. Michael’s College, Franklin Pierce, Keene State, and Plymouth State converged in Hanover. British cologne maker Royall Lyme sponsored the tournament, and also sponsors the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club.

Ted Kennedy at the Dartmouth-Harvard match, 1964.

Despite injuries and pre-season commitments, the DRFC fielded three full sides, each of which performed strongly. The Green side took the pitch at 10 am and quickly notched 12 unanswered tries against UNH, a fair number of which were carried in by co-captain Paul Jarvis ’12.  By the final whistle, Dartmouth was up 76-0 on the newly unveiled scoreboard. The scoreboard is dedicated to the 1959 DRFC’s tour of California and will be officially dedicated at the club’s 60th anniversary in October.

A less experienced DRFC side took the pitch next to put St. Michael’s away, 53-0.

After play, the club was generally optimistic about its performance. “There were definitely positives to take away from all of the games,” said Jarvis. “A lot of guys were able to get playing time, often working in new positions or new combinations, and the boys responded well …there is a lot of room to improve, but it was a very promising day for the team and built on the good foundation this team had established the week earlier [during tour] in Canada.”

Official season Ivy League play begins September 25th and 26th, against the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, respectively.