Make Note

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In the age of laptops, iPads, Siri and smartphones, who would have thought that the common notebook would be such an object of desire? Moleskine, the reinvented Italian company that boasts Hemingway as a one-time client, revived the blank notebook through a brilliant marketing campaign, although with their success it appears that Italy can now no longer actually produce enough of their product. China, it seems, has endless production capabilities.

For those who want their notebooks (even if they never actually write in them) to stand out from the crowd, there are hundreds of brands that make beautiful ones—from Field Notes, the good ol’ American company, to Smythson, the British outfit whose leather books are objects of envy.

Muji, the Japanese “no brand name” brand that makes wonderful objects one never knew one needed, has a terrific stationery line, attested to by the crowds in their stores trying out the latest mechanical pencil or colorful pen. Their new “Passport” notebook, however, is truly a standout. Made in Japan, where paper connoisseurship reaches ridiculous heights, it is exactly the size (and even color) of American and European passports (and most other countries’, too). With enough pages to last a vacation or business trip, or to just fill just weekly musings, it is nonetheless thin enough, and flexible enough, to cram into any pocket. Conveniently, for those who like to brandish some leather, it also fits into any passport case. Even with a real passport facing it.

It feels far more substantial than the $1.75 cost, and is elegantly simple; yet not so precious that you’ll wince when tearing out a page. Buy them by the dozen, and you’ll never run out of things to say. Or write.

Happy Camping!

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August is vacation time in Europe, and many in the U.S. also take advantage of slow work weeks, the hot weather, and their kids’ free time to hit the road. These days of easy air travel (well, easy except for overbooked flights, monstrous lines at security, and inevitable multi-hour delays) means fewer people actually hit any road at all, except for the highway to and from an airport, of course.

In days past, the family vacation in a station wagon, or perhaps even in an RV or with a trailer, was de rigueur for many middle class Americans (and some Europeans too), and the ne plus ultra of campers and trailers was the Airstream.

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An icon of early and mid-20th Century style, they exist today; often refurbished with the latest technology and furnishings. Objects of beauty, they can be seen in the occasional driveway, on a highway or a beach, but in large numbers at the Burning Man festival, where they have competed, aesthetically, with their owners’ looks and outfits. Or naked bodies, in too many instances.

Panamas


Spring is a time to think about and sometimes even wear straw hats—genuine Panamas (always made in Equador, not Panama), wannabe Panamas, and other models. This one, photographed by Ken in Costa Rica, isn’t the né plus ultra of Panamas—which can cost thousands—but is a genuine one, and yes, does roll up nicely to go into one’s carry on.

The collection of hats displayed in Cartagena, and spotted by the peripatetic Ken, makes one yearn for the warm, sunny days that will make wearing one a necessity, or simply a pleasure.

Bon Voyage


I’ve been known to express (in writing, no less) my dismay at the lost art of travel, and my distaste of, or even allergy to, wheeled luggage; to say nothing of my horror at the display of atrocious style in today’s airports, train stations, and ocean-going liners. Luggage is as important to me as any sartorial choice in travel— as with dress, one does want it to be as convenient and comfortable to use as possible— and, yes, I do understand that wheels make carting suitcases around airports, now that porters are nowhere to be found, rather easier. But to me nothing seems less elegant than pulling or pushing a suitcase, unless you’re over 70, and besides, just how heavy can a suitcase be? Will the little physical exertion required to carry a suitcase twenty yards or so really kill you?

I would love to have Goyard make me a custom wardrobe suitcase or trunk, one with little drawers and hangers so that I’d never have to unpack on trip, but alas I can neither afford it nor would such a case be practical for travel today, unless one is traveling with a valet and a footman on one’s own plane or yacht. I settle for suitcases I’ve had for years— an ancient Globetrotter (before the re-branding that brought re-pricing) that has needed little care over the years except a change of locks; a Tanner Krolle bridle leather suitcase that works as good as new, except for the deep gashes and scratches that come from handing over your luggage to airlines to care for, and a bridle leather carry-on that has endured far more abuse, including being checked in on occasion, than a leather case deserves. Since I dislike shoulder straps (I’m not a schoolboy) as much as I dislike wheels, a vintage 40′s briefcase, that happens to fit inside the carry-on, is my preferred vessel for a laptop, notebook, and books. I may get a little more exercise than I want to when traveling, but I say it’s worth the effort…

Cuba Libre




Yes; necessity is the mother of invention, or in the case of Cubans, the mother of utilization. But good style is sometimes making the best of what you can have, just like the lovingly maintained, rebuilt, or re-engineered vintage cars Cuba is famous for. In a Havana apartment, belt and trousers belonging to a gentleman, aged to perfection just like the cigars he still smokes…..

 

Not Just For The Army

I’ve always thought that despite the indignity of airplane travel today, one should not dress for travel as if one just crawled out of bed on a lazy Sunday, or as if in preparation to go for a morning jog. A sports jacket for men, tweed or a blazer, looks good, and can do wonders if asking for an upgrade, checking overweight bags, or in eliciting a modicum of courtesy from security agents. Many people look for comfort, though, and are loath to wear anything that might wrinkle or be even slightly uncomfortable in the cramped quarters of tourist class. Enter Massif; a line of comfortable, stylish, and beautifully made clothes, by the makers of military wear for the Pentagon. Massif has launched a civilian line that is a perfect fit (pun intended) for travel, and the sports jacket pictured, in a wool fabric that feels like felt, is ideal: from the flattering and fashionable cut, which means it can be worn with a tie, to the hidden zipper pockets for stashing passports and cash, or gold coins when necessary. The secret though is in the anti-microbial wool fabric that also won’t wrinkle, and a flip-up collar that can buttoned against the chill, of the aircraft or of the destination. And we all know how airlines can alternate extreme air conditioning with extreme heat, to say nothing of the microbes that inhabit their fleets.

 

 

 

Electric Boogie

We know all about electric cars, the future of automobile transportation, but far less about electric motorcycles, which in big cities such as New York, are infinitely more practical. The Zero Motorcycle company makes two models– a large battery powered and a smaller battery powered– that have all the advantages of two wheeled transport and virtually none of the disadvantages. The smaller model, with a range of over 70 miles (the bigger battery range is over 100 miles), is not only stylish but is a bike you can ride to work or to play, as it, like Vespa scooters, has no shifter (thus saving the leather on your nice shoes), and is as easy to ride as a bicycle. The bike can be charged from a standard outlet, or from a 220V one for a fast charge– charging stations are springing up all over big cities although with the range, you probably will never need one outside of home.

This bike, The Zero ZF6, has been customized by carbon(-), a motorcycle, electric bicycle, and Vespa dealer in NY which is Zero’s exclusive distributer here. MSRP on the ZF6 is $11,495– expensive, I know, but not so much when you consider it’s made right here in the US, and a good wristwatch can cost more. The motorcycle is as quiet as a bicycle, a big plus for Hog-phobics but disconcerting to those who want to alert cars to their presence. Until they make an app for the sound of a engine, you might just have to do with silence or a very loud boom box on the rack. Zach Schieffelin, the owner of carbon(-), might just throw one in for you.

Men in White

At the Course Camarguaises in Arles, France, the kinder, gentler bullfights unique to the area and the Camargue. Men run at the bulls in attempts to pluck ribbons from their horns, rather than do the dance of death we commonly know as bullfights, and which even Barcelona has now outlawed. Combining grace, style, and spectacle, and this being the French, wearing appropriately all white outfits, the razeteurscompete not for the ears or tails of the bulls they must outrun and outwit, but for good old fashioned cash.

 

 

Barcelona Hat Shop

Hats, with the exception of baseball and truckers’ caps–which should only be worn while playing ball or driving a truck–should never have gone out of style. The great hat shops that survived the fallow fashion period, Lock & Co. in London, Chapeau Motsch in Paris, or Worth and Worth in New York are wonderful, but every major city has a wonderful hat shop–”worth a detour”–as Michelin might say. I have fedoras, newsboy, and Persian Diplomat hats, and wear them all. Hopefully not in an ironic way.

Gaudi

 


Not all Antoni Gaudi creations are necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but this, the tiled Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, has to be the finest covering of a thoroughfare anywhere in the world.