My Peter Beard Sandals


These are the dressiest sandals I own. I won't wear my Birkies with a linen suit, but I will wear my "Peter Beard sandals." That's what my friend Wayne Maser, the globetrotting photographer, calls these Kenyan-made leather sandals, because they are a sort of trademark of Peter Beard, the great photographer, adventurer, and all-around character. Wayne had these made up for me in Nairobi from a faxed drawing of my foot. I love them so much they've been re-heeled and half-soled twice. I'm going to need a new pair soon. I hope I don't have to go all the way to Kenya to get them. Maybe they make them in Ethiopia, too.

My Geeveh


It's 91 in the shade at my house and I'm about to slip into something more comfortable. Around the house, I'll probably go with my Persian espadrilles, which my friend Hooman picked up for me in Tehran. They aren't really espadrilles, they're called "geeveh," and they're a little sturdier than espadrilles, but they're sort of an Iranian equivalent. There's no left or right—they're interchangeable. I love the pointed toes. They make me feel like rugs could fly. They are super comfortable, cool, and washable. I throw them right in the machine. Right now the other geeveh is so filthy it couldn't be photographed.

Geeveh are the national footwear of Iran and they are still worn by villagers. In the big city, however, they have been pretty much displaced by Nikes and Adidas. Fashion tends to kill the great traditions. I sure wish the trade embargo would come down, because I think these cotton shoes with leather-and-rope soles are really great, and I'd buy them by the dozen. International understanding starts with baby steps, and stepping in these is really comfy.

Happy Birthday, Tom Sachs!


I dropped in on my friend Tom Sachs today at his studio. It was the eminent artist's birthday, and he was celebrating it by making a cassette tape of Syd Barrett songs for his friend Joe "Hova," the eminent selector, and complaining about how he has to buy blank TDK cassettes on eBay now. Tom played me the new Louis Armstrong ringtone on his fancy little phone that fits in his wallet. The ring really sounds great, and for good reason. As Tom points, out there was no technology for recording bass back then—they didn't even have bass players, maybe a tuba now and then—so it's the right frequency spectrum for playback on woofer-less phones.

I also saw lots of great new work, including the spectacular observation tower/home Tom built for his cat, which includes automated feeding and pooping stations and a meditation chamber with a Taoist fountain; also a mobile waffle-vending bicycle complete with a chicken for extra-fresh eggs, a state-of-the-art Swedish waffle iron that runs on 220v, and stereo loudspeakers. I also saw parts of his epic new 6-plywood-panel, woodburned Hooters menu. Tom was saddened when I told him that Robert Brooks, the founder of Hooters, was found dead in his home nine days ago—he died of natural causes—but Tom cheered up as the gifts began to arrive. I'm sending one over right now! Write down that date: July 26th is Tom Sachs's birthday (Mick Jagger's and George Bernard Shaw's, too.) Happy birthday, Tom!

A Pack of Trojans from DJ Spooky


I never underestimated the power of the DJ.  I knew the real deal, having grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, home of The Mad Daddy, the greatest of all radio DJs.  Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers more or less invented the modern idea of the mix in the early days of "rock and roll," bringing what he called "the wavy gravy" and "mellow jello" to the Cleveland airwaves, playing Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Link Wray, the Champs, and Andre Williams, et al., in a thick, pulsating mix of mad echo and Twilight Zone sound effects, using eight turntables and any black box he could get his hands on.  Arguably the first rapper, Mad Daddy vented sheer hipster poetry in the manner of Lord Buckley, improvising a new initiatory slanguage for those with ears to hear.  When Mad Daddy was briefly banned from the airwaves, he donned a cape and took a famous skydive 2,200 feet into Lake Erie, just off where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sits today, crying "Zorro!" as he jumped off the aircraft and improv-ing poetry on the way down.  After he was pulled from the lake, he said, "I didn't want those cats to forget me."  Now that's a real DJ, the kind this pre-recorded, mass-distributed culture needs.

Over the years there have always been great ones scattered out there on the radio, like Frankie Crocker, the World Famous Supreme Team, and DJ Red Alert.  My man Ricky Powell had perhaps the greatest R&B show of the modern era on WKCR until he finally got kicked off the air for uncontrollable cursing.  But I thought it was kind of funny when the celebrity DJ thing started to happen.  I'm talking about club spinners.  It seemed a bit like having celebrity wine stewards or something. I didn't quite get that these guys had followings like bands, and I figured it had something to do with the fact that nobody learned how to play an instrument anymore, so anybody that could play three good records in a row was now a genius.  But then you get out there on the floor and you appreciate a spinner who is also an artist and an educator.

Of course hip hop changed everything, with the turntable becoming an instrument, and so did the influence of Jamaican music, where the toasting MC selecter took on a profane cultural role similar to that enjoyed by big-time preachers, taking recorded music live.  We began to see the spinner as more than an archivist with feel.  And when DJs began remixing records and getting brilliant results, it was a new age in music.

Then I met Paul Miller, who was entirely a horse of a different color.  Paul, aka DJ Spooky, was a first: the DJ as intellectual.  Now that sounds like kind of a bad idea, but the fact is that it works.  DJ is not a job you can fake. When you've got a thousand people in front of you, they are either dancing or not dancing.  When DJ Spooky is spinning they are dancing.  And, in fact, they come to things because of his known ability to keep the floor occupado.  But Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid—that's his full name—is also a theorist with a Marshall McLuhan-like book on MIT Press called Rhythm Science. Paul is a DJ who can rock the house and then explain in great detail how he did it. He is also an artist. Not long ago he did an installation of D.W. Griffith's racist epic Birth of a Nation accompanied by his own soundtrack called "Rebirth of a Nation"—what a remix. Anybody can be an intellectual, and lots of people can spin records, but Paul has the whole package. He can relate mixing to William Burroughs's cut-up method and schizophrenia. And it's legit and not just knee-deep.

Anyway, the occasion of this name-drop and shout-out is a new two-CD set, DJ Spooky Presents In Fine Style: 50,000 volts of Trojan Records. For the uninitiated and undubbed, Trojan Records is a venerable Jamaican label that grew out of a mobile-sound-system empire. Imagine DJs with powerful sound systems literally taking the new music to every part of the island country. Paul has an intimate knowledge of how the music developed—the covers, the dubs, the versions—and he lays it all down for you to hear, with 36 tracks of the world's greatest music for the mind and body by artists such as Desmond Dekker, Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo, King Tubby, U-Roy, Big Youth, The Upsetters, Gregory Isaacs, Peter Tosh, Dennis Alcapone, Dillinger, and many more. It is most excellent and most enlightening and roots, natty roots.


Here is a picture of Paul in a Caribbean environment, in a rare moment of chilling. Next time I see him I'll probably say, "Hey Paul, what's new." He'll say, "Oh I just got back from Kyoto. Before that I was in Mexico City and Edinburgh and Phnom Penh," or something like that. Never ask Paul what he's been doing unless you've got a few minutes. Paul is like a one-man Trojan Records. He's a portable sound system and he's out there taking the music to the people all the time. Take it Paul...

Voice: Soft... Stick: Big


I saw this grand gentleman walking down Broadway yesterday.  He was wearing a beautiful natural linen suit that seemed to be made for him, good brown sandals that strap in the back, and a vivid blue shirt.  He was of kingly proportions and walking in a determined manner downtown, carrying a large, hand-carved and colorfully painted staff.  I didn't ask him who he was or where he was going, but I did ask him if I could photograph him for GQ.  He said, in a soft but strong voice, "You can photograph me for anybody."  He seemed American but if he had said he was a king I would have believed him.  He was regal.


Dress Code, Par 72

I was over at my friend Jimmy Rizzi's house and the conversation  turned, as it sometimes does, to golf.  Jimmy and I used to play a lot  together at the Noyac Golf Club in Sag Harbor.  I was a member there  until I sold my house in Long Island and moved my weekend and summer  operations to Northwestern Connecticut, where I have yet to find a  home course.

I was wearing my excellent khaki cargo shorts from Supreme, and was  telling Jimmy that I love these shorts because I can keep everything  separate.  I can have an extra ball in one of these lower pockets, and  this little pocket in the front is just right for a scorecard, and  then I can keep my tees in my left pocket, and my ball marker and  green-repairing tool in my right pocket.  Then Jimmy dropped a bomb on  me.  "You can't wear cargo shorts at Noyac."

It never occurred to me that I might accidentally wear something  taboo to a private golf course, or any course for that matter.  I'm a  big supporter of appropriate dress on the links.  Denim is out of the  question.  Collared shirts are de rigueur.  (Unless you're Tiger Woods  and you can wear a fancy t-shirt with a giant swoosh on it at  Augusta!  The pros are allowed to play looking quite a bit like  something out of NASCAR, with logos on everything.)  Shorts should  reach the knee.  I know you can't wear shorts at all at the hardcore-conservative Baltusrol; any course that's been around since 1895 has  that right.  But Bermudas are acceptable just about everywhere in the  golfing world, and I consider my cargo shorts Bermudas with two  discreet extra pockets.  Sure, if I had six golf balls in each pocket  they might look grotesque, but I'm trying to look good out there.

I think this new rule is suspicious.  If anything is going to be  outlawed it should be those shorty socks that make a golfer look like  he's sockless.  I know there is some tanning issue involved here, but  socks are traditional.  Golfers should wear them.

It's quite likely that I might have showed up at my old club in these  shorts.  I wore them recently playing the Seaside course at the very  proper Sea Island Golf Club and I felt quite welcome.  Noyac was the  last place that I'd suspect of having such a rule.  I can see if they  were camouflage, but khaki?  Why, Jimmy was a member at Noyac when he  had sky-blue hair.  Maybe my old club is going conservative in  reaction to the progressive McMansionization of the Hamptons.

Anyway, after I left Jimmy's I stopped in at Supreme, and their regular  Bermudas with the reinforced seat were on sale for $69.  I bought a  pair in olive.  I think I'll carry them in my bag where I keep my rain-suit.  What's going to be outlawed next?  Pleats?  Whatever happens, I'm  sure you'll be allowed to play in a baseball cap that says "Titleist"  on it.  There's no justice.



As something of a shrimper, a foot fetishist of long standing, to whom a beautiful bare foot is erotically competetive with a beautiful bare breast, I was a bit surprised to find myself getting sick of the urban flip-flop phenomenon. Naturally (or is it unnaturally?) I appreciate a beautiful pair of tootsies, but there's something about the pandemic of the shower shod that makes me want to step on toes.

And this year the flip-flops were out even earlier. I spotted them on warm days in March. Now, I understand that a pair of Blahnik thong sandals go for more than five hundred dollars, and flip-flops are about one percent of that price, so I understand the appeal of money-saving fashion, but it has gone too far. Half the girls you see are wearing flip-flops, some dressed up of course with plastic flowers or rhinestones, but still flip-flops, capable of being torn up by a pop top. And now half the boys you see are in flip-flops, at least on lower Eighth Avenue. I've seen flip-flops worn with suits! And many of the boys are not as careful about their pedicures as the ladies. And even the ladies get sloppy, or at least they get dirty dogs over the course of the day. It almost makes you long for the old foot-washing habits of the New Testament.

So, as much as it hurts to do this, I'm going to have to declare that flip-flops are over. If you are wearing them on the street you are in violation. I mean, if we let this go on, pretty soon we're going to see guys walking the streets of Chelsea wearing towels.

Ciao, Mr. Chow

Michael Chow's restaurant on West 57th Street was about the coolest art world hangout in the eighties. Mr. Chow was a great collector, and all the artists flocked to his tables. I remember dining there with Andy Warhol, and I remember the great dinner Jean-Michel Basquiat threw there after his final one-man show at Vrej Baghoumian. It was a final triumphant celebration when the chips were down. One of my favorite Mr. Chow memories was a big dinner Kenny Scharf (who had traded paintings for food) had there when he decided to spend his entire tab in one big blowout--the whole impecunious Mudd Club/Club 57 hip crowd was there, along with our few rich artist pals--swilling Cristal and living it up like there was no tomorrow (there wasn't).

And Mr. Chow wasn't just 57th Street. There were Mr. Chows in Beverly Hills and London, both of which were eminently groovy, art-filled, hiply simpatico establishments. There was Puiforcat silver service all over the place, and leather menus made by Hermès. I remember a Ruscha painting in Mr. Chow L.A. that was supposedly painted entirely with things like Peking Duck sauce and mustard.

The New York place had some ups and downs, particular after the sad death of the lovely Tina Chow, but once the hip-hop crowd got into the place in the nineties it was up and up and up. For several years I was a real regular there as it was the closest restaurant to my house. I also loved the place. Brian, the maître d', was always able to handle the crowd with aplomb, despite some serious hectic rushes by the rich and famous. The food was always tops, the service excellent, and interesting people hopped tables. The only worry I ever had there, aside from possible renegotiation of the tab, was that I didn't want to sit next to anyone's bodyguard in case of a crossfire, but peace always prevailed here. I remember one night during the NBA playoffs I had missed the game because of an important meeting and as I was leaving I just looked at Allan Houston, who was having a quiet dinner. "We won," he said quietly, reading my mind.

The only problem with Mr. Chow was the bill. I often suspected it had nothing to do with what one ordered but with how well the house had done on a particular night. They had a way of ignoring what you actually asked for and then charging you something mysterious involving some sort of prix fixe, family-style formula known only to them. Itemization was out of the question, but if it seemed way out-of-line negotiation was possible.

I recently tried the new Mr. Chow on Hudson and North Moore Street in Tribeca. It had gotten wretched reviews but I was going with an open mind, as an old fan of the franchise. Well, the good news is it's not too late for Michael Chow to change everything. Such as firing the snooty chicks at the door who made us wait for a quarter-hour when we showed up on time and the table we would eventually occupy was vacant, as were several others. After one drink my wife, a Mr. Chow veteran, suspecting a ruse, asked one of the snooty sisters which table we were waiting for and we were seated promptly.

The new Mr. Chow has a patio (loading platform) on Hudson Street filled with tables and a wall of doors opening onto it. The fact that these all open and don't close themselves kept the restaurant at about a steady 80 degrees. The waitstaff was pleasant and professional enough, but what arrived at the table wasn't what we ordered. We got the mystery seaweed we didn't order, we didn't get the filet mignon we did order, and when the almost astonishing tab arrived I realized we'd had a "prix fixe" meal. Because the entire restaurant surface except for the marble floor is lacquer, the acoustics of the place are ridiculous: it was aroar, with much of the roar coming from parties of unaccompanied young men who look like they study Entourage religiously. Each group seemed to have a Turtle and a Johnny Drama, but none of them contenders.

The "highlight" of the evening was when a Chinese cook appeared and made a loud, athletic display of pounding, pulling, and twisting some Mr. Chow noodles. After seeing this demonstration my dinner companions and I all agreed that we'd rather be at Benihana. I wasn't about to negotiate the bill here; I'd rather stay away in droves.

The night before I had dined a block away from my house at the Chinatown Brasserie, a terrific new restaurant where the Time Café used to be that has a fun Big Trouble in Little China décor and a menu quite similar to Chow but better prepared and presented, and far more easily procured. The service there is friendly, efficient, and utterly attitude-free. I will always treasure my memories of Mr. Chow, and I still dig the uptown joint thanks to its seasoned pros like Brian, but I would suggest that the proprietor seriously consider what got him down here near Nobu in the first place and fix this disaster.


Here's one one of the windows of of the Chinatown Brasserie. In the reflection you can see me, one of the few remaining parking lots in New York City, and Robert Rauschenberg's house.