My Imaginary Afro

Haircutting is a strange business. It seems to have been normal and traditional up until the 1960s when, like many other things, it freaked out. Normal-looking guys became hippies; normal-looking barbers became hairdressers. Guys started going to salons or just forgetting about cutting it altogether. I know my hair probably grew out about fourteen to eighteen inches at the end of that decade. I went from what was called an "executive" haircut to a Jesus haircut. As I recall, I was ideally going for something similar to what Mick Jagger sported in Performance and Rock and Roll Circus, but today that looks a bit styled to me.

Anyway, in the seventies, when cops and accountants were growing their hair long, I rebelliously went back to "the executive," along with my cronies at Andy Warhol's Factory; and then, in mid-decade, with that punky feeling in the air, I went back to my boyhood hairstyle, which the barber called a "Princeton," aka "Ivy League." My friend Jean-Michel Basquiat called my hairstyle "atomic," and I called his dreadlock look "the Bullwinkle." John Lurie still calls me "Heiny," which was another nickname for the astronaut cut. It was convenient. At the height of my bohemian anti-social rebellion and victimless criminality I could easily pose as a wholesome U.S. Marine on leave.

The problem with this social upheaval was that it did almost kill off the barbering profession. Men started going to salons and getting styled and generally looked the worse for it while paying more. I learned to cut my own hair to save money, as a good barber was hard to find. I remember going to Japanese guys who couldn't speak English and trying to use sign language to indicate what I wanted.

One of my favorite songs of the early seventies was "Nassau's Gone Funky." I can still sing along. "Miniskirts, maxiskirts, and Afro hairdos… People doing their own thing, they don't care about me or you… Nassau's gone funky… Nassau's got soul…" And I loved all of the things mentioned in that song and couldn't believe it when they were gone, particularly the miniskirt and the Afro. I just assumed they would always be there. I loved the big Afros, of the Angela Davis and Sly and the Family Stone variety.



I still can't believe they haven't come back. I'm hoping Ben Webster catches on. But I figure if I had African hair it would be a tough choice between the Afro and dreadlocks. And not only would it be a tough choice, it would be a lot of work. But I'm not going to fake it. White guys don't look right in Afros, even the guy in the MC5; and dreadlocks, well, I had a friend who managed to get some but he could never wash his hair. He had to have it dry-cleaned. Too much trouble. Better to chain smoke ganja as an atomium.

I don't work on my hair anymore. I've got a Sicilian guy who's a master, just like in the old days. He doesn't call it a Princeton. He probably thinks of it as an "Augustus." But if I were black, what would I do?

I know. I would go up to Harlem, to 116th Street by Fifth Avenue, and get serviced in style at B.Braxton. This is a handsome salon, right next to the groovy Asian restaurant, Ginger, that was very recently opened by Brenda Braxton and her husband Anthony van Putten. Brenda is a great Broadway star, a Tony nominee who was in Dreamgirls, Legs Diamond, Jelly's Last Jam, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Leader of the Pack, Chicago (with Usher)… et as they say cetera. Anthony is a famous fitness trainer, although fitness trainers are never as famous as Broadway stars, but he's widely admired, and they are a great couple. And now they have this place that is not only handsome and luxurious and operated with expertise, but it is specifically designed for men who need artisinal African hair care. I couldn't believe the equipment they have for dealing with dreadlocks. It looks like something developed by NASA.

Of course the elegant and luxurious B.Braxton is a full service men's spa, and they have universal barbering expertise. In other words, this is a shop for all men. I may go there as a client myself next August when my man downtown is vacationing in Sicily, because I don't want him to do a pre-emptive scalping on me like he did this last summer, and B.Braxton is probably the coolest barbering and grooming emporium on Manhattan Island.

Anyway, here's Brenda with Rita Wilson at the star-studded (Tony winner Lillias White, Tamara Tunie of Law and Order SVI, Obba Babatunde, the adorable Bebe Neuwirth, author Brian Keith Jackson, Emil Wilbekin, and my man Huey Lewis!) opening of B.Braxton.


Naughty, Naughty

My friend Sante D'Orazio, a noted fashion photographer, portraitist, and life-study specialist, has a new book: Katlick School, published by teNeues. Inside the composition-book cover are 130 more or less erotic photos by an artist who ought to know. The model for all of them is a young woman named Kat Fonseca, who looks mighty good in and out of a school uniform.

I'm not going to say much more about it because I wrote the introduction, "School Girls Rule," a title inspired by one of my favorite old Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks, and I worked hard on it, so why paraphrase when I'd prefer you went out and bought it (or at least read it at Barnes & Noble)?

There was a book-signing party the other night at the bar at Ian Schrager's Gramercy Park Hotel, and I got mine, hot off the presses, signed by the artist and his model. It was a night of torrential rain, but a cool crowd turned out anyway to toast this little gem of eroticism that seems to have put the Diocesan panties in a twist.

We saw actors Mickey Rourke, Kate Bosworth, and Val Kilmer, hotelier Andre Balazs, artist Jeremy Blake, and writer Theresa Duncan (one of my favorite bloggers), art dealer Tony Shafrazi, and models Helena Christensen, Petra Nemcova, and Molly Sims, among many glittering others.

Here's Kat Fonseca and artist Jeremy Blake:


Rourke vs. D'Orazio:


Sante, Kat, and Andre:


Supposedly some less sporting Catholics were upset that Sante's dust jacket portrait shows him wearing a Roman collar and cassock. But we all like to look like that sometimes, don't we?

Fashion Revolution on Broadway

If you live in New York, chances are you've heard of Uniqlo. Because for months that name has been all over the streets. This Japanese company that's superficially comparable to The Gap made sure that their name was everywhere—billboards, buses, subway entrances, phone kiosks. The fact that Uniqlo was coming was pretty much unavoidable. And they racheted up excitement a few days before they opened their big store on Broadway (between Spring and Broome) by opening up a mini store—in two shipping containers, parked at the curb in front of the place. They were doing a brisk business in Uniqlo's signature items, like their colorful cashmere sweaters.

The store is located, I believe, in the old space occupied by Canal Jeans, which was pretty big, but this store is huge—at three floors, running from Broadway to Crosby Street, it's airplane-hangar-like. It's chock full of stuff. Floor-to-ceiling merch. And they have high ceilings. I noticed that at the highest spot there are displays of sweaters 34 levels high. If you want one, they're not running out.

Count the shelves:


I was actually hired to write a little piece for the magazine they do (Uniqlo Paper No. 1), which is a pretty nice advertorial production (no doubt because I'm big in Japan), and a couple of my friends, Kim Gordon and Terry Richardson, were among the "real people" who modeled for them. But I don't think anybody knew what to expect until the place opened. My wife stopped in two days ago and came back with a bunch of stuff, including a new black wool watch cap for me (so I won't borrow hers anymore and stretch it out). I thought the quality was great and it was really cheap.

So today I strolled over and had a look and I was pretty impressed. The men's cashmere sweaters are $69.95 and they feel great and come in a lot of very strong colors. The women's version is on sale this month for $49.95. I know people love multi-ply cashmeres, but I think you could just buy three of these in different colors and wear them in layers. They also do the full spectrum in T-shirts, socks, and other basics. I think this place might actually change the way people wear color in New York. And I don't think any store has changed the way people dressed since The Gap hit with their pocket-tees years ago.

I was also impressed by the arty Japanese T-shirts. We all love cool, exclusive shops, but they had some really good designs here. There was some Godzilla-oriented stuff I might even wear. I'm going to ease into this place, but I did return with some goods. I bought a pair of really nice thin white cotton socks, the kind that are really hard to find, a similar pair in a shade of green that perfectly matches one of my Charvet shirts, a pair of charcoal gray cotton briefs, and a crew-neck tee in a nice light shade of pink. And I spent $14. Let's see how this stuff wears and washes, but I came away semi-amazed.

I kept thinking, "I wonder what Chairman Mao would think of this?" Not just because a lot of the merch is made in China, such as everything I bought but the white socks. (I also saw things made in Vietnam, and the cashmeres come from Mongolia.) But because there is something kind of revolutionary about this place. Uniqlo to me is the phase after logos. It's stuff that's made to work as separates in your own individual way and not as some pre-fab designer vision of status and hype. These are people's clothes, and they are good. I think Mao would approve, at least when he was in his twenties and something of a looker.

I wanted to take a picture of one of the salesmen because he had great style, wearing an almost fluorescent lime green polo as a top over a white shirt and a huge tie, tied very loosely. I'm going to go back next week and find the guy. I think he's part of the color revolution. I'm seriously considering going to multiple-color sweater layers this season. I can afford it now.

Anyway, I think there's something about what comes after Communism that is embodied in this place, with all its cheap cool and weird cds and groovy artists' t-shirts. Forget the masses all wearing blue and gray. In the future the assembled masses will not be generic and anonymous, but will be highly individualized and en masse will resemble the visible spectrum itself—except possibly the artists, who will be wearing cashmeres in the ultraviolet and infrared range.

The Artist on Deck

There aren't a lot of art bargains, but they happen all the time at Supreme, the haberdashery/skating goods emporium on Lafayette Street in NYC, North Fairfax in L.A., and hither and thither in Nippon. James Jebbia, the mastermind of this brand, which he founded in 1994, has commissioned skateboard decks from a variety of artists, from 1998 to the present. Among them: Ryan McGinness, who did an ultracool Pantone series; the always gnarly and inscrutable theoretician of Iconoklastic Panzerism, Rammellzee; realist supreme Dan Colen; Peter Saville, who did variations on his record sleeve for Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures; Public Enemy; Larry Clark, who worked nudity, sex, and violence into his two decks; and, now, Jeff Koons.


I picked up a Koons deck for my son Oscar, who at six is still riding a Razor, and it's hanging on his wall. The kid has a pretty good art collection at this point. The Koons was the bargain of the lot at $68 (cheap).

I figure that eventually Oscar will want to ride it, so I think I'll pick up what we book collectors call "a riding copy." I remember my first board had metal wheels and a small, plain-wood, flat deck. My ass remembers, too.

How I Eat Lunch

I love my neighborhood. I have had several homes in the general Noho, Western East Village, Bowery, and Nolita neighborhoods, and despite the frequently unfortunate development going on, I'm not leaving. I used to call it BumHo, but the winos are long gone. I used to call it Boho, too, 'cause that means bohemian and Bowery and Houston are kind of the center of something, but that never caught on. Anyway, it's a good, as-yet-unruined part of my neighborhood. And it's changing fast. The Bowery, once the city's most architecturally diverse and kooky avenue, is threatening to turn into Sixth Avenue, i.e., a future slum of ugly development-boom highrises.

There are some bright spots, though, like the New Museum going up, and Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson's new Bowery Hotel. The latter project is particularly admirable because the guys who brought us the Park and the Maritime bought what could have been the ugliest building in New York and completely rebuilt it. They're also opening a cute little hotel on 4th Street next to the B-Bar, tentatively called Cooper House.

Anyway, one of the things I love about my 'hood is that it's a good place to eat. We've got a good breakfast-and-lunch spot in the Noho Star (they do a good Chinese dinner, too). We've got the great dim sum and Peking duck of the Chinatown Brasserie, and two excellent Japanese places: Hedeh on Great Jones, in the building that was once Jean-Michel Basquiat's studio, and Bond Street (between Broadway and Lafayette). We are within quick delivery range of Balthazar and Kelley and Ping (on the Bowery). And we've got the best burger in town, in my opinion, at the tiny eatery Sparky's, on the triangle of Lafayette, Mulberry, and Bleecker. Sparky's is organic comfort food. Hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese, fries, cole slaw, stuff like that—but all organic, grass-fed, and local. My wife says they have the best hot dogs anywhere. I like the bacon cheeseburger with the works. The lemonade iced tea is really good, and they sell corn-free sodas!


I have mixed feelings about declaring Il Buco the best restaurant in New York, because I love the fact that I can walk in some days and it's just me and Chuck Close's table for lunch, but I feel a change is bound to come as Ian Schrager's spectacular Herzog & de Meuron building comes closer to completion. I mean, one of these days I'm going to have to make a reservation. You do have to book ahead for dinner. Naturally. They serve spectacularly good food, and have a wonderful wine list. The chef, Ignacio Mattos, formerly of The Spotted Pig, is brilliant.

But Il Buco was great before Mattos arrived, under chef Ed Witt. I think that the food has been consistently (though perhaps increasingly) great has much to do with the restaurant's philosophy—start with the very best ingredients available. (At lunch time when you're crunching away on an unbelievable pork panini, you sometimes see the heritage Tamworth pig carcasses arriving from the Flying Pig Farm upstate.) Il Buco does for gastronomy what Sparky's does for fast food. They start with superlative ingredients—oil, salt, bread, produce, meat. I think some of my lucky friends are going to get Il Buco gifts for Christmas this year. They sell salt, oil, and vinegar in sets.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings about publishing this, so, well, uh, I'd prefer if you went there on the weekend, okay? They're closed Mondays. I'll be at Quartino, but I'm not telling you where that is.

Here's Il Buco with product. They don't sell the furniture anymore.


Am I Game?

When I was a little kid, what did I want to be when I grew up? Well, for one thing, I wanted to be an urbane game show panelist like Kitty Carlisle, Arlene Francis, Henry Morgan, Betsy Palmer, Oscar Levant, Moss Hart, Bennet Cerf, Tony Randall, Buddy Hackett, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jayne Meadows, and Steve Allen on such shows as What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret. Hey, I trained for it. Repartee was my game.

Unfortunately, by the time I got here this fantastic institution was gone from the cityscape, replaced by programs too horrible to contemplate. But recently I became aware of a little cable show called Name That Painting, produced by Mark Kostabi, on which "celebrity luminaries" compete for dollars to, well, name that painting with the assistance of art historians and experts. There's even a house band. And Mr. Kostabi hosts the show remotely, by closed circuit from Rome or, lately, L.A.

The panelists are actually in the great New York game show tradition—writer Gary Indiana, Art Newspaper wit Adrian Dannatt, Artnet's Walter Robinson, Paper's Carlo McCormick, artist John Zinsser, personality Taylor Mead, Randy Jones (the original cowboy of the Village People), and last, but certainly not least, me.


I've actually enjoyed the guilty pleasure a few times in recent weeks after discovering, at the urging of art restorer and regular Lisa Rosen, that it really is a fun show. And best of all, I've been the big winner. Except last week, when film director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) cleaned up spotlessly with his attractive French accent and titles that tested the limits of our language.

Here's Mr. Gondry working out with the house orchestra, the White Leather Soc Band:


You can catch the fun every Wednesday night at 8:30 in Manhattan on Time Warner Cable Channel 56, on RCN Channel 108, on MNN's website every Wednesday night at 8:30 EST, or at your leisure at

Grab Your Hat, Leave Your Troubles at the Doorstep

It's not exactly the sunny side of West 57th Street, but it does have southern exposure. And New York's premiere hatter, Worth & Worth, is back on the main drag, even though it's on the sixth floor.

The new showroom at 45 West 57th is sunny (with a skylight), spacious, and filled with terrific hats, from the old mainstay Italian felt fedoras favored by traditional gents to the more eccentric shades and shapes worn by such radical sartorial practitioners as Tom Wolfe. Orlando Palacios is also turning out a line of cool lids that should attract such heads as Pete Doherty or his producer, Mick Jones. I think there's actually a picture of Mick in the store, and one of Johnny Lydon in a straw hat in Jamaica, taken by ace photographer Kate Simon. And speaking of straws, this is the place for Montecristi Panamas.

This is also a full-service hatter. I took my badly crushed Montecristi to Orlando a year or so ago and he shook his head when he saw it, but it came back perfectly blocked.


Here's Orlando (in the hat, natch) with art dealer Patrick Fox. You can reach Orlando at 1-800-HATSHOP, or visit


Creme de la Boheme: Poet Gillian McCain and photographer Kate Simon, hats off, at Worth & Worth.

Speaking of Links, Don't Forget Link Wray

I listen to Sirius Radio in my car on the weekends. It's great. I like their channel 'Disorder,' which is what a radio station should be: no discernable format but hipness, and they play a great mess of stuff from the Havana Cuba Boys to Maria Callas to Mercury Rev. They also have a good R&B channel and a very good reggae channel which tends to play the best old-school stuff on the weekends. Their jazz channels, however, aren't so great—nowhere near up to the level of WBGO 88.3 in Newark, or the jazz segments on WKCR 89.9, where the professor of bop, Phil Schaap, holds forth daily.

But lately I've discovered Sirius radio's 'Little Steven's Underground Garage' channel, which features a good show from Little Steven (aka Steve Van Zandt, aka Silvio Dante) and lately has had Joan Jett on a lot, spinning. The channel plays a very loose definition of garage-band music, i.e., rock that rocks, like the Fleshtones, the Troggs, Robert Gordon with Link Wray, the White Stripes, Caesars, the Strokes, and the Teddy Bears' fabulous song with Iggy Pop, "Punkrocker." The early Stones are also represented. Speaking of which, the best thing on the Garage channel (25) is a show from Andrew Loog Oldham, who managed the Rolling Stones in the early days, starting when he was the best-dressed 19-year-old in London.

Some years back I had dinner with Oldham at the house of music legend Bob Krasnow, who was then running Elektra Records, and I was vastly amused by his stories, and totally impressed by his knowledge. Now anybody can get in on it, from 6 to 8 on weeknights and for four hours on Saturday. Oldham plays fantastic, mostly forgotten music, he knows all the stories behind the songs, and he has great guests, like Richard Gotterer and other alumni of the Brill Building. Listening to Oldham rant made me go out onto what Bush calls "the Internets" and buy his books Stoned and 2Stoned, which amusingly chronicle Oldham's brilliant rise and spectacular fall. As you would expect, the fall comes in 2 Stoned as our hero attempts to keep up with the drug use of his clients.


It was Oldham, who worked for mod designer Mary Quant and the Beatles before taking over the Stones management as a sharp-dressed teen, who pushed the Stones in the rebellious, down-and-dirty direction. It was Oldham who pushed Mick to the front and Brian to the back and Stu out of the band. He could be a bad guy, but apparently he could also be right most of the time. Like the day he ran into John and Paul on the street and brought them to a Stones rehearsal where they taught the band their first hit "I Wanna Be Your Man." He was (and is) a truly fascinating character. He looked as cool as his band and was totally over the edge. (For a sample check out his liner notes to 12 x 5—they changed my life.) Anyway, I would urge anyone interested in the history of the heyday of modern rock and ultra-hipness to check out both these books.

So a couple of weeks ago Andrew Loog (rhymes with Moog) was going on and on about the next greatest book written about that time, Simon Napier-Bell's Black Vinyl, White Powder, and I ordered that, too. It arrived yesterday and I can't put it down. Napier-Bell managed the Yardbirds, discovered Marc Bolan, co-wrote "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" with Dusty Springfield, remixed Burt Bachrach's soundtrack to What's New Pussycat?, managed George Michael… you get the idea. I'm still reading, but not only is the secret history with all the drugs and backstabbing here, it's also very well written.

Anyway, those are your reading assignments. And if you don't have Sirius but XM (because you listen to Bob Dylan's brilliant 'Theme Time Radio'), well, you can download Oldham on the Internet. On the other hand, you can also download Dylan. I have Sirius because it came with the Benzo, but from my car-rental experiments I think I prefer Sirius to XM, Howard Stern aside.

Links. Oh, yeah. So I was listening to the Garage on channel 25 and Robert Gordon with Link Wray came on. Now, when I was a regular at CBGB's back in the day, Robert Gordon was a headliner, up there with Blondie and the Ramones, and he put out some truly great records. I don't like the word rockabilly, so I'm not using it. The guy is a rocker and his albums featuring Link Wray, who invented the heavy guitar sound in the fifties (with his hit "Rumble"). Gordon should have been as big as Bruce. Check him out now!




Oh, yeah: links. My clever, congenial, and curious web editor Andy Comer recently added some interesting ones to this blog which will appeal to those interested in style matters. I just checked out this StilinBerlin and was amused. It's sort of like my amigo The Sartorialist (now available in GQ), except on the streets of Berlin, where grunge is a way of life. Funny, I've been thinking about checking out Berlin lately because it's supposed to be a little bit like New York was in the days of rock and wildness, and it has famously cheap rents. Well, if you check out this link you'll see that they're not spending their surplus Euros on clothes. But there is a certain charm to the Berlin style. They appear to be totally unconcerned with designerism. Each person seems to be their own designer. They might be wearing things that came out of the trash, but these kids have their own look, and their threads were trashed and abraded and stained personally and not in some factory. That's the way it was in the old days. And that's what style is all about.

All Souls Eve, I'm Still Full

My six-year-old said he wanted to be Darth Vader, so I bought him the helmet that makes that heavy breathing noise a few weeks ago. He got a lot of wear out of it, but I was thinking it wasn't the best trick-or-treating accessory (it's not great for crossing the street), and it wasn't going to work all day at his school (where the kids get to wear their costumes). Fortunately he loves Jack Sparrow, the pirate played by Johnny Depp, so we picked up that outfit and an optional, partially-beaded dreadlock wig. He loved that, although there was some argument over the Darth Vader issue, and it was a big hit at school. There was only one other Jack Sparrow, and he didn't have the wig. My son did get inexplicably confused with a pirate girl a couple of times, though—I reassured him that he was a manly little buccaneer.


I bought a wig. I thought I might try to go as… well, I'm going to save it for next year… so I didn't restyle the wig. I just put it on to take Oscar to the parade, and gee if I didn't look a little bit like my old boss Andy. I put on these French frames I bought recently and that even added to the effect. So last night I said, "Oh, gee, that's great," a lot. Here's a picture by Lynn Goldsmith:


I was a little disappointed by New York's national holiday this year. I did see some great efforts, but generally a lot of people were content to take the easy way out with devil horns or angel haloes and wings. But to be truthful, I didn't have much endurance. Jack Sparrow had to be in bed early so he could pillage and plunder this morning.

Also, I'd been out the night before Halloween, attending a tasting at Ye Waverly Inn, a new restaurant at an ancient location on Charles and Waverly in the West Village. This beautiful little restaurant is owned by my amigos Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode—I almost published a picture of Eric here from Halloween of last year, when he went as a boy scout, but I value our friendship—and Graydon Carter, the man about town who edits Vanity Fair. It is a delightful spot. It looks like it's been there forever, a sort of mini-21, with antiques, fireplaces, eclectic memorabilia, and good-old-days art, and a charming mural depicting frolicking celebrities by the New Yorker caricaturist Edward Sorel. The place has a wonderful, intimate, sophisticated but comfy, and unpretentious air, and the food is very good. American bistro food in that style we all came to love at various McNally restaurants around town like Odeon.

Spotted Brian McNally in the handsome little bar, checking the place out, and various other luminaries like David Kamp, Bruce McCall, and Alan Buchman, the man behind the Culture Project theater. It was a tasting, so I tasted as much as I could, including all of the desserts, and we wrote little suggestions on the back of our menus. There wasn't a lot to complain about. I recommend the chicken pot pie, the country salad, and the cheesecake. Also, for a change, the waiters are all men of a certain age, giving the place a kind of professional air, and you didn't have to go into contortions to get their attention.

I forgot my camera, but I'll be back there soon. I also ran into Judy Wong there. Judy, who ran the Odeon, has a new place of her own in the West Village, partnering with Odeon's Lynn Wagenknecht on Café Cluny, at 284 W.12th Street. (On the Paris Metro, Cluny is the next stop after Odeon!) It's a small neighborhood spot with a congenial atmosphere, excellent bistro food, and a smart, well-priced wine list. I plan to hang out at both places, although I still tend to get lost when I go to the West Village. I'm going to have to force myself to lay off the biscuits at the Waverly, though—they're just too good, and I'm starting a new career as a model.