Now if only the same were true about that Isla Fisher shopping movie

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"No. I am a male."

That was a friend's reply when I e-mailed asking whether he'd seen this movie called Rachel Getting Married. I could see the guy's point. As it happens, it was the film's soul-crushingly chick-flick-tastic title that attracted me in the first place. For reasons I won't go into (okay, I'm sort of a control freak), I tend to oversee the Netflix queue in our household—but while I may be a control freak, I'm not a moron, and I'm well aware that there are only so many times a girl can watch The Last Detail before she starts to bristle. And so, after subjecting my wife to yet another cathartic go-round with Billy Buddusky, I knew it was in everyone's best interest to change up the mood a bit. Which is how a 2008 film with the deadly title Rachel Getting Married recently ended up in our DVD player. I mean, it's a flick about a wedding starring that girl from The Devil Wears Prada—that ought to buy me 90 minutes of Tyson, no?

Here's another question: If you end up enjoying a movie that was added to your queue for purely strategic reasons, does it lose all strategic value? Because Rachel Getting Married is actually worth watching on its own merits. No, seriously, I really loved it. (And so, for the record, did my wife.) The writing's smart, funny, and moving; the directing's nimble and intimate, and the same's true for the acting.

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Stuff We Like: Coors Original

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As with most important pieces of writing, this one begins with a reference to Smokey and the Bandit. In Hal Needham's seminal 1977 film, Burt Reynolds plays Bo "Bandit" Darville, who, in exchange for $80,000, agrees to move 400 cases of contraband Coors from Texas to Georgia so that a couple of good old boys can have a right party. The movie raked in over $126 million ($450 million today) at the box office, and, for me, gave concrete form to a five-year-old's foggy notions of adulthood—it was gonna be one giant high-speed carnival of semi trucks, CB radios, and black Trans Ams. It pains me to report that I'm a pathetic 0 for 3 on that count, although I have managed to develop quite a taste for Coors.

This may sound absurd to anyone born after 1975, but there was actually a time when Coors—and I mean Coors, not the watered-down Silver Bullet stuff your girlfriend drank on spring break—was, bar none, beer of choice for the man's man. Both Hud and the real-life Paul Newman loved the stuff. Tom Waits was known to knock back a few. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young swilled it while hanging out in Laurel Canyon (okay, so Nash was never quite a paragon of masculinity, but back in the day Stephen Stills was a country-blues-slinging demigod—look it up). And what did The Graduate's Benjamin Braddock take to drinking while drifting in the pool after getting his first taste of red-hot American cougar? Coors.

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Aside from a passion for the one true Banquet Beer, what these guys have in common is that they did their drinking on either Pacific or Mountain Time. Because until 1981, Coors was only available west of the Mississippi. This helps explain why Universal could plausibly concoct a Burt Reynolds flick out of little more than a mondo beer run across the Deep South, and why Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski was known to load up the team plane with cases of Coors after a swing out West. Rumor has it even President Gerald Ford liked to smuggle the stuff back home on Air Force One, and my father, a corporate pilot, regularly employed the same technique after shuttling some bigwigs out to Denver. I can still picture him walking in the door with a triumphant grin, briefcase in one hand and case of Coors in the other. I would have been pretty young, but I was old enough to know that what was in that case was some pretty cool shit.

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Stuff We Like: The Yuketen Blucher moc

Back in 2005, when I first discovered Yuketen footwear, streetwear culture was at its peak. The new BAPE store in Soho had a line around the block, and it seemed like everyone and his brother had (or at least claimed to have) a closet full of limited-edition Dunks—with all-over-print T-shirts to match. While the sneaker freaks fetishized all things artificial and time-stamped, the meticulousness embraced by this underpublicized Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based brand seemed downright anachronistic.

What a difference four years makes.

These days, everyone and his brother is obsessed (or claims to be be obsessed) with handcrafting the perfect piece of workwear or frontier-inspired gear, and our new-fangled fixation with all things old and enduring has given new life to once-moribund heritage brands: Woolrich, Pendleton, and Quoddy, to name a few (not that you need me to). While I'm all for this resurgence—hard to complain about a trend that emphasizes detail, durability, and quality—no one out there can match the work being done by Yuketen's Japanese-born creative director, Yuki Matsuda.

Of course, I might be biased. Because for Spring 2009, Matsuda has produced what is essentially my senior thesis of footwear: a lace-up moc that combines the crepe sole of Clarks' Wallabee (my go-to shoe for the better part of 15 years now) and the upper styling of L.L. Bean's hand-sewn Blucher (which I wore all last summer and then, to be honest, all this winter, too). It's like Matsuda crawled inside my brain with a tack hammer and Krazy Glue and pulled out this shoe, so I was stricken when I learned that the model wouldn't be released in the States (for shame, all you buyers who passed over it! For shame!). Fortunately, I was able to scoop a pair up from overseas—as can you, with enough dedication and a little ingenuity. At present, Manchester's Oi Polloi stocks them and will ship. And other Yuketen styles are available at Bergdorf Goodman here in New York. Whichever model you choose, I suspect you'll still be wearing them four years from now—even if everyone else is back to BAPEs by then.

Photo: Steven Torres
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Stuff We Like: The Southwick herringbone sport coat

For such a simple thing, the herringbone jacket is tough to get right—too many frills and it turns into Fashion (yes, with a capital F), too plain and people start asking you how your thesis is coming along. But as Glenn O'Brien rightly points out, it's one of those things men should always be looking for—after all, find the right jacket, and you'll wear it forever. For the past two years or so, I had been on the hunt, but for some damn reason, I just couldn't find one I liked. Scratch that: I know the reason—I'm a perfectionist on a budget. So that handsome Daiki Suzuki version? Too fussy for my tastes. J.Crew's take? Just a little drab, and curiously oversized. The Uniqlo number? Easy on the wallet, not so much on the eyes.

So I was relieved when, after years of searching, I finally found this one on sale at Brooks Brothers. It's made—in America, no less—by Southwick, a Massachusetts company that's long made Brooks' suits and was bought last year by the retailer's parent company. (Southwick also collaborated with Engineered Garments for spring; sadly, the company's clothes are no longer sold under its own name.) I bought a 36 short—almost trim enough to please Black Fleece designer Thom Browne, I suspect, but happily not as exaggerated as his usual silhouette. It cinches slightly at the waist, creating a shape that's neither too boxy nor too boyish. The sleeves also truncate perfectly—no tailoring required—to create a Sartorialist-approved half inch of cuff. Best of all, it goes with everything—button-downs worn with or without a tie, dark jeans, even cords. The only bad thing? As the weather (slowly) gets warmer, I'll probably have to stop trotting it out. (Twice weekly at my current rate.) Which means I might be the only man in Manhattan hoping this miserable 40-degree weather lasts just a little bit longer.

Photo: Elissa Wiehn

Stuff We Like: The Seletti BoxItalia jump rope

I've yet to find the perfect workout, though it's certainly not for lack of trying. My recent exercise regimen has included competitive cycling, Pilates, yoga, running, tennis, weights, boxing, computerized hydraulic eccentric-resistance weight-bearing machines, and the Israeli hand-to-hand combat art known as Krav Maga. My mantra throughout all this experimentation has been "If it feels good, do it 'til it don't," and according to that line of thinking, nothing above compares to the pulmonary and muscular havoc wreaked by a single small contraption made of metal and leather.

It's a jump rope from an Italian company, Seletti. I found it a few years ago in the back room at the Paul Smith store in New York, coiled up under a leather heavy bag. Once I made sure it wasn't part of the decor—hey, who can forget Sir Paul's Spring '04 Pugilist Dandy collection?—I bought the thing. The leather strand is perhaps two or three times as thick and heavy as your standard Everlast number, but its real genius is located in the stainless-steel handles. They're weighted—maybe five pounds each, though I've never bothered to check—and equipped with ball bearings for an easy turn of the rope. The effect is actually quite elegant, at least until the roping-up starts. Five continuous minutes constitutes an all-body workout that makes Krav Maga look like swing dancing. I've had friends over who've admired the idea of the thing. Then I show them outside for a quick field test with a smile and a pat on the back. It's probably cruel, but it's great fun to watch: Typically, they last about as long as Christopher Hitchens being waterboarded.

When I was training at Gleason's boxing gym in Brooklyn, the rope always attracted attention (though none, sadly, from Hilary Swank, who occasionally trained alongside me while preparing for Million Dollar Baby). Zen masters normally so skilled that they appeared to be standing still as the cord blurred beneath their feet could handle maybe a couple of minutes. No wonder, as everything comes into play: consistency, timing, rhythm, speed, and strength. Somewhere along the way, my own sessions evolved into a standard for my fitness level. If I jump like a chump, I know I'm not living right—and, sexy as it sounds, I'm know I'm not going to fight my way out of a funk on that computerized hydraulic eccentric-resistance weight-bearing machine.

As a side note, the handles of the models being sold now are gold, which is a small shame (I've always been a silver man), and the rope now comes with its own drawstring carrying pouch, which seems to me like lily-gilding. But quibbles over form can't detract from the Seletti's essential function—it's a gut-check, head-check, leg-lung-and-heart-check in one affordable package. Provided, that is, you've got the cojones to put it to use.

Photo: Elissa Wiehn

Stuff We Like: The Four Corners hat

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Hats are having what they call a moment. I credit—some might say blame—Alexander McQueen, who topped the terrific Victorian bruiser looks in his Fall 2009 menswear collection in Milan with a terrific Victorian bruiser's take on a homburg. Not entirely street-legal for '09, perhaps, but it looked great on the runway. Then, two weeks later in New York, the stylists at Z Zegna and Diesel Black Gold offered their own variations on the trend with oversize bowlers. But, as Godfrey Deeny points out in the Financial Times, it's not just a catwalk thing. The ever-vigilant Deeny spotted no fewer than seven hats on the dance floor of Beatrice Inn.

The question is, why now?

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Stuff We Like: The Musical Instruments Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Despite (or perhaps because of) my complete inability to play a lick of music, I have always been drawn to the Met's incomparable collection of antique instruments. It's housed in what you might call the greatest Guitar Center ever built—a comprehensive library of kooky obscurities, all without some asshole noodling on a Flying V or banging on a drum set. In fact, I've noticed the wing hardly has any visitors at all, thanks to its dingy location—a dark, low-ceilinged corner that feels like some security guard forgot to rope it off during construction. (It's so off-putting that on one recent visit, my guests preferred to linger over Paul Revere's ever-exciting flatware.)

But once you get past the fusty surroundings, treasures await. Among them: a bird-shaped Mexican whistle from the first millennium; a huge 1670 clavichord so ornate that the original designer charged admission just to look at it; and my favorite, a triple-necked lyre-guitar (pictured) that predates "Stairway" by a good 170 years. (It's fun—and, I confess, incredibly nerdy—to imagine what kind of noise they would make if, for one night, the museum let actual musicians come in and play around with them.) But what makes the place so comforting (if a bit haunting) is knowing that these instruments will never be heard from again. So just as a morgue helps you appreciate life by reminding you of its absence, the wing reminds me of music's power by enveloping me in silence. (Seriously, the place is usually deserted.) That said, if the museum ever needs someone to noodle on that lyre-guitar, I'm available.

Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stuff We Like: Ultra Dynamic sunglasses

In case you missed it—admittedly, there were a few other things going on in the news—Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal passed away last month. The Las Vegas gambling legend was the basis for Robert De Niro's character in Casino, and while I don't know much about the guy's real-life personal style, I've always admired the eyewear Lefty's alter ego wore on screen. That's one of the reasons why I love the vintage shades pictured here, which were given to me by my friend graffiti artist Claw Money. She sealed the deal when I tried them on by telling me, "You look like De Niro!"

Okay, yes, they could look costumey on some, but for some reason when I wear them, strangers assume I'm an authority on a variety of things. (I guess they figure that if I can pull these huge frames off, I might be on to something.) I can't count the times I've been asked for recommendations and directions while I've been sporting them. People just seem to be attracted to the flashy tortoiseshell frames and gradient lenses—so much so, it can lead to awkwardness. On a recent trip to L.A., for instance, the flight attendant joked that he was waiting for me to doze off so he could swipe them from my breast pocket. (I didn't sleep a wink.) Not that I can blame him: The other day, I noticed that Bergdorf Goodman was selling this same pair for the recession-unfriendly price of $700. The cost may have gone up since Lefty's time, but their style, evidently, is timeless.

 

Photo: Elissa Wiehn

Stuff We Like: Gieves & Hawkes brogues

When my father told me, out of the blue, that he'd fallen in love with a pair of shoes and was sending some my way, I was (sorry, Pops) nervous. Our tastes diverge, but not in the way you might think: He gets more daring as time goes on—witness a healthy collection of Fake London sweaters—while I, a recovering punk, have become more reserved. Turns out I should have known better, because my father's also a lifelong shoe man of excellent taste. Though a dyed-in-the-wool Ferragamo loyalist, he'd been tempted away from the Milanese brand by the dry wit of a Gieves & Hawkes brogue. Its shape was traditional—wing tip, Balmoral lacing, Goodyear welt—but the broguing, usually meticulously applied, was sprayed haphazardly over the cap, vamp, and throat.

That bit of tongue-in-cheek deconstruction is unexpected, given Gieves & Hawkes' august background. The brand occupies none other than No. 1 Savile Row, and was first granted a Royal Warrant in the early 19th century. Gieves & Hawkes currently holds appointments to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales, and makes duds for the Royal Army and Navy. At around $425, the shoes are admittedly an investment, but after around two years of regular wear, mine (pictured) are only beginning to break in, suggesting a long life ahead. Not that I wouldn't welcome the arrival of another pair.
Approximately $425, available at gievesandhawkes.com

Photo: Elissa Wiehn

Stuff We Like: Deconstructing Harry

For some, it's Citizen Kane, others La Dolce Vita, but it was Woody Allen's neglected 1997 film, Deconstructing Harry, that introduced me to the joys of grown-up cinema. It was probably the first film I saw where the protagonist wasn't a superhero, gangster, or some other character that only exists, well, in the movies. Instead, I found myself—a teenaged Midwestern Protestant—relating to a neurotic New York Jew, played (of course) by the Woodman. His Roth-inspired hero (Harry Block) was an angry, horny smart-ass—just like me (or so I hoped). Naturally, he was much better with the ladies (especially Elisabeth Shue, roughly half his age) and much funnier. (At one point, his sister tells him he only believes in "nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm." His rapid-fire reply? "In France, I could run on that slogan and win.")

I recently caught it on cable, and expected to be disappointed. To my (pleasant) surprise, it holds up: Turns out the character's angst doesn't stem from that classic juvenile concern (not getting any) so much as that ageless male concern (not getting enough, because enough doesn't exist). The cast is outstanding—Kirstie Alley will never top her unhinged psychiatrist—and the gags still zip, most memorably Robin Williams as an actor who is literally out of focus. (A prescient metaphor.) And for such an angry movie, it's also damn fun: Allen augments his usual one-liners and Benny Goodman tunes with frantic, Godard-style jump cuts and Annie Hall-worthy narrative detours. (The scene where he visits hell, in fact, was originally written for Annie Hall. I'm glad he waited 20 years, because, in a perfect bit of casting, the devil is played here by Billy Crystal.)

It has some flaws—no one should have to see Woody trading zingers with a hooker in hot pants—but, hey, so doesHannah and Her Sisters. (Daniel Stern's caricatured rock star, for starters.) But a decade on, it's still funny, still relatable, and still, well, brilliant. Which is more than you can say for Celebrity.

Photo: Fine Line Features/Courtesy Everett Collection
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