Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Signs of Old Times: Advertising Antiques (reshown)

What is it about advertising, or ‘country store’, collectibles that make them so cool to me? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, show up at the estate sale of a guy who used to own a store back in the 50’s and who put away some of the old fixtures and stock in his attic. Every old coot in over-alls will show up at 5am for a crack at some dusty old signs or faded boxes of corset wax or whatever strange stuff they sold back then.
I’ve got to admit that I have the bug too. A good tin advertising sign can double as wall art and will hold its value a heck of lot better than a print from Crate N Barrel. And there’s something about old country store antiques that can remind you of your roots. Just a couple of generations ago, the majority of Americans lived in the country on farms. Our ancestors only traveled out of state a few times in their lives. The country store down the road was a hub – not just for food and gas but for social activity too. Boring, but true.

I remember when I was a kid playing little league football in my home town. Back then, coaches thought that depriving kids of water ‘made them game tough.’ –I guess the same concept applied to the turf because it was a hot, dry dust bowl during practice. On the drive home, we passed by Hill’s Store. It was a classic country store with one of those old water cooled chest coolers with the ice water circulating around the glistening, ice-cold bottles of soda. Grape Nehi. Orange Crush. Royal Crown Cola. Mountain Dew. Popping that cap on the side opener and chugging the contents was, without a doubt, the most lascivious experience that an eleven year old boy could ever hope to have.

Occasionally, my brothers and I would bike miles down country roads to Hills Store. Our mission? Those bottles of soda at the end of the journey. Think about the sensory experience of chugging a Squirt soda in the spring sunshine while careening down a country road, all the while inhaling Honeysuckle perfume welling up from the roadside. –Yearning for that old Coke sign yet?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Octoberfest, Make it Wimblefest! (reshown)

(Since it's Octoberfest time and also time for the last Major of the year, The U.S. Open, I thought I'd reshow my post on Elena Dementieva in hopes that it will bring her good luck).

I am kicking off my first edition of Trailer Trad Hall of Fame with a purely selfish nomination. She has been called the greatest female tennis player never to win a grand slam title. That is enough to gain her entry right there. Her name is Elena Dementieva, the most beautiful Russian tennis player that you’ve never heard of.

Why does she deserve to be nominated to the Trailer Trad Hall of Fame? Her statuesque blond beauty certainly helps but it’s her quirkiness that makes her trailer trad. She’s very traditional – but in the Russian sense. Her biggest tennis goal was not to win a major, but to bring home the singles gold for Russia in the 2008 Summer Olympics, which she did. While most of the other hotties on tour are cashing in with huge conglomerate sponsorships, residing in Monaco and training in the U.S., Elena remains fiercely patriotic to Mother Russia by living in Moscow and by obtaining few Western endorsement contracts (compared to Maria Sharapova, at least).

WTA Star Ana Ivanovich

She had been somewhat of a hard-luck story on tour for a few years even though she stayed in the top ten. Few on tour can match Elena’s strokes or her physical gifts but she had a nasty habit of choking away matches. This became even worse when, after recovering from a shoulder injury, she changed her service motion which caused her problems on her serve. ‘Train wreck’ is probably more accurate to describe those crucial moments in matches when she would double-fault after double-fault. At times, she would look up to her mother/coach for support (she’s so traditionally Russian, she remains a momma’s girl into her late twenties. –Disconcerting, but traditional). Some commentators would roll their eyes at whether she had what it took to win at majors.

That changed at Wimbledon in 2009 where she fronted for one of Wimbledon’s major sponsors, Evian bottled water. –What a bargain that was for Evian considering how well she performed against Serena Williams in the semi-finals and how, um, healthy she looked in her white tennis togs. In one of the most spectacular WTA matches in years according to many, Dementieva played brilliantly but came up a hair short losing to Serena 6-7, 7-5, 8-6. She remains one of the few players who can match the Williams’ power stroke for stroke and seems set to have a very successful year on tour in 2010.

To honor Elena Dementieva, one of the great players and also one of the nicest people on tour, I advocate a new holiday – Wimblefest!

It combines the elegance, tradition and athleticism of Elena at Wimbledon With plenty of beer served by blond waitresses in festive dirndls

Resulting in …. Voila! You’re very welcome. As Charles Dickens might say,”God Bless Elena Dementieva and Merry Wimblefest Everyone!”

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trailer Trad Attire: John Daly is More Trad Than You

It would seem to be an insurmountable rhetorical challenge. The challenge that I'm referring to is making the case that PGA golfer John Daly is trad, maybe even more trad than you. You scoff but hear me out.

First off, there are a few straws that I could grasp regarding his life and livelihood that support my argument. John Daly is very good at a very trad sport. He, in fact, is a British Open champion. On its face, there can’t be many accomplishments more trad than that (maybe captaining the 1940 Yale baseball team). On the other hand, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe are Wimbledon Champions but that doesn’t make them trad. There’s the fact that the British people love him and that means something. After all, they love Tom Watson and they really loved Bobby Jones; both trad legends in my book. On the other hand, they also like Eminem.

The huge awkward elephant in the corner is John Daly’s collection of bad habits and bad choices that he possesses (drinking too much Diet Pepsi among them). However, upon reflection, I’m not sure whether that’s a case against him being trad or a case FOR him being trad!

I’m saving my chief argument for last. There are few people that I can think of that personify a specific, preppy iconic look. In Daly's case, the look that I’m referring to is wearing Go To Hell (GTH) pants. His collection that he proudly displays on tour gets to the heart of GTH. Preppies are too nonconfrontational to ever actually TELL someone to go to hell. These pants are intended to convey that and his do that better than any in history.

Recently, I visited a trad blog. You know, one of those Southern Gentleman blogs. The blogger hosted a 'wild pants party' or some such thing. Visualize a dude sending in a 'groomsmen dressed in Vineyard Vines' picture submitted for publication in the VV Spring catalog and you get the picture. This reminded me of what Go To Hell (GTH) pants are all about.

To compare John Daly’s pants to other ‘whimsical’ brightly colored pants is like comparing L.L. Bean duck boots to magenta Crocs. Daly’s vertigo-inducing eyesores do what they are supposed to do. Lilly, Vineyard Vines, etc. are timid winks at it; a half-hearted effort that says that while you want to appear wild, you really just want to be accepted for the fun lovin’ fella you are!

Brass tacks. You reach a point in life where the superficial approval of peers at the club, the office or at church becomes clear for what it is. No more. No less. You have reached that point in your life where it must be known that you are a grown man. You occupy a certain two foot square plot of ground. And you ain't going anywhere. This is where that special pair of pants comes in. They're called Go To Hell pants for a reason. These garments not only cover your body, they convey a message. A very special message. A very trad message.

Like Repp ties, blue blazers with brass buttons and flat-front khakis, John Daly's pants are masculine totems of strength, honesty and truth. Keeping it real. Phoniness is not trad. John Daly is flawed. That's well documented. But if you let him, he probably would pitch a tent at St. Andrews and live amongst the dunes and surf fish for his dinner 'til the end of his days. And he would be quick with a joke and always give you the straight take. What's more trad than that? And, if you didn't like him, he'd be first to tell you to go to hell.

Trailer Trad Grooming: Pinaud Clubman (Reshown)

Why write about an aftershave that has no advertising budget, no cool ads and no celebrity endorsements? Because when you think of it, what is more trad than mildewy old golf locker rooms with communal urinals, barber shops with $10 haircuts or your granddad’s medicine cabinet? You could always expect to find Pinaud Clubman grooming products in these places. Sure, the bottles are no longer glass and the formulas may not be what they were 75 years ago but I always feel just a little manlier splashing on Pinaud Clubman Lime SEC aftershave even if does smell a little like Lemon Pledge going on.

Need more evidence that Pinaud Clubman products are trad? Let’s examine their signature scent ‘Lilac Vegetal.’ Its violet color and delicate decanter don’t resemble most other dimestore aftershaves that are named after woodcutting tools and come in motor oil bottles. That’s good. Second, it was originally formulated in the 19th Century by the French perfumer Pinaud for the Hungarian Calvary. Hungarian. Calvary. Third, it proudly proclaims that it smells of Lilacs while not claiming to make you a chick magnet. Fourth, It’s called ‘vegetal.’ While I’m not sure what that means, at least it doesn’t smell like V8 (although smelling like a pitcher of Bloody Marys at the office could get you that devil-may-care rep you've been going for).

Legend has it that it alone is stocked in the member’s locker room at that Holy Grail of preppiness, The Everglades Club.

Yeah Skippy, Clubman is preppy enough.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Put On Your Shaggin' Shoes: Raleigh Beach Music Blowout (Reshown)

There is a party going on in the North Hills section of Raleigh on Thursday nights this summer! As with most things chronicled in this blog, it is ‘trailer trad’ and I’ll tell you why. It’s trad because, duh, it has all of the ingredients necessary for a good summertime party in the Carolinas. It’s got great music by the likes of the Embers and the Tams and other very good beach music bands. It’s got lots of shaggers young and old in great summertime clothes like Bermudas with loafers on the guys and sundresses on the girls. It’s got plenty of cold beer and warm evening breezes. It’s got plenty of those ‘Carolina Girls’, which as the beach music classic goes, are the best girls in the world! Finally, it’s ‘trailer’ because the party is free and open to all! These weekly events are an eye opener for a couple of reasons. First, the sheer numbers. I can’t measure crowds but these weekly soirees take up parking for blocks in my neighborhood and the throngs converging on North Hills give hints as to the size and lively nature of these gatherings. Another thing about the event is how festive and upbeat the mood is. These days, that’s saying something. I think that just being outside hanging out while listening to happy, upbeat music really lifts people’s spirits. Perhaps what is most striking about the Thursday night beach music party is that the partiers are of all ages. Nowadays it seems like people usually socialize according to their ages and this makes sense. Teenagers would rather be with teenagers and older folks would rather be doing age appropriate things with others their own age. But there is something significant about people coming together as a community to celebrate a timeless summer ritual – listening and dancing to Carolina beach music.
North Hills on Thursday nights is a gathering of different age groups but it is interesting how the different ages party. Whereas many of the older people who have followed beach music since the 1950s and 1960s are content to listen and talk while sitting on folding chairs, the teens and twentysomethings crowd the dance floor or meander around, checking one another out. Folks in the 30s and 40s like me are somewhere in between; chilling out a little, dancing a little and socializing a little. The younger set is in the majority, thus ensuring that North Carolina's great music will endure. The only drawbacks to having so many young shaggers there is that they move too fast to photograph properly! The older, er more experienced shaggers, also have expressed concerns that inexperienced shaggers have poor technique and may hurt someone with all that twisting and whirling around on the crowded dance floor!
Another great thing is the location in the North Hills section of Midtown Raleigh. What's great about the North Hills location is that there are dozens of food and drink options to enjoy before, during or after the live music. Options range from excellent barbeque with PBRs at Q-Shack to sushi at Mura to steaks at Ruths Chris to excellent french bistro cuisine at Le Coquette Brasserie among many others. In addition, there is a huge cinema and an excellent new hotel. The party is right in the middle of it all.

As I was walking home, a couple of skaters in black and tattoos were standing next to their car dipping Skoal. Passing by, one of them said “Hey, you forget your shaggin’ shoes?” “Nah, my Rainbow flip-flops work fine” I said sticking up my blistered foot and giving him the thumbs up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trailer Trad Living: 'Watered Down' Indie Rock

Indie rock has a rich history with the sea. Not the sea, per se, but things related to the sea, nautical things. I've come up with a late summer compilation of some songs that I like that have 'watery' things in their band names or song titles.

If I had to pick a favorite featured here, I'd go with 'Weightless.' The guys in Nada Surf make terrific music and 'Weightless' is gorgeous. The video was made by amateur fans as part of a contest and it is very charming.

Also, pay particular interest to Future Islands and The Rosebuds because they are both from North Carolina. The Tin Man video features some great NC coastal images (as well as some from the awesome city of Baltimore!). The Rosebuds, in particular, are world-beaters and are one of my favorites. They are on the prominent indie label Merge Records (the uber-hip Canadian band Arcade Fire's label). The husband/wife duo produced their last album on their own out of their old Victorian home here in Raleigh. They're brilliant.

The West Coast sound is well represented on this list by Best Coast, Surfer Blood and Wavves. Very enjoyable. I also added such stalwarts as Maritime, Band of Horses and Seawolf. Yacht was included because their single 'Duck and Bunny's Boathouse' is, undoubtably, the most preppy sounding indie rock song title in history. Plus, it's a decent piece of electronica. British Sea Power ends it on an epic note. I've presented them with good Youtube videos that I found. Hope you like them.

Indie Rock Water Music:
Best Coast - Boyfriend
Sea Wolf - You're A Wolf
The Rosebuds - Silence by the Lakeside
Band of Horses - Islands on the Coast
Surfer Blood - Swim (to Reach the End)
Future Islands - Tin Man
Beach House - D.A.R.L.I.N.G.
Nada Surf - Weightless
Maritime - Someone Has to Die
Yacht - Bunny and Duck's Boathouse
Wavves - King of the Beach
British Sea Power - Waving Flags

Best Coast- Boyfriend

Seawolf - You're A Wolf

The Rosebuds – Silence by the Lakeside

Band of Horses – Islands on the Coast

Surfer Blood - Swim

Future Islands – Tin Man

Beach House – D.A.R.L.I.N.G.

Nada Surf - Weightless

Maritime – Someone has to Die

Yacht –Bunny and Duck’s Boathouse

Wavves –King of the Beach

British Sea Power – Waving Flags

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If Ty Webb Owned An Inn: Pinehurst's Pinecrest Inn

"I don't play golf against people...for money."
- Ty Webb
"What are you, religious or something?"
- Al Czervik
To paraphrase Caddyshack's Ty Webb, Pinehurst's Pinecrest Inn is not just about golf or making money. For decades, the Pinecrest Inn has provided a home away from home for golfers who want a relaxing atmosphere, great food and good times at a cut-rate price.

The village of Pinehurst in the Sandhills region of North Carolina is famous for golf. Specifically, Pinehurst Resort's course Pinehurst No. 2. It is perhaps one of the four or five most famous courses in the world and is rich with history. It captures the essence and history of golf as only St. Andrews, Augusta National and Pebble Beach do in the minds of golfers everywhere.

So many memories echo through the quiet fairways and streets of this little village. Who can forget Payne Stewart's putt that won the 1999 U.S. Open?
But, in a sense, the village of Pinehurst is more than that. It is one of the centers of the golf universe; a keeper of its history and its soul. The village was constructed a century ago when the resort was laid out and appears much as is did then. New England shingle style architecture is scattered along its tidy blocks. It is a relaxing place to shop and enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants. The majestic, genteel hotel The Carolina anchors the village and is the center of the action.
It is wonderful and my family has stayed there many times. The Holly Inn, Magnolia Inn and Manor Inn are also great. But none of these are trailer trad. However, the little-known Pine Crest Inn is also a vital part of the village's soul and is, quite definitely, trailer trad.

The Pine Crest Inn has quietly served its patrons in the shadow of its larger, more proper sister hotel The Carolina since it opened in 1913. The revered Father of Golf Course Design, Donald Ross, owned The Pinecrest (it's true) for many years but it has been owned since 1961 by the Barrett family. This stubborn family ownership has instilled a warm, familiar quality to the establishment. There seems to be little interest in injecting a 'luxury' or 'exclusive' experience when staying at the Pinecrest. Then what do you get when you get your room key (that's 'key' not card) at the creaky front desk?
Well, you get a very pleasant room in the exact center of the Village. And you get a great breakfast AND dinner for much, much less that you'd expect to pay. Granted, you'll not find the latest in fusion cuisine (whatever that is). On the other hand, some of the kitchen staff have been cooking there since golf was telecast in black and white nd it's good, old-fashioned southern cooking.

The Lounge, off to the right of the front desk, was not designed by Ralph Lauren. It doesn't look like an English library or golf museum. It's been renovated in recent years (or so they say) but an interior decorator would definitely be puzzled by the lack of cohesive 'vision.' -But, for a 'Nineteenth Hole', isn't that the best vision of all? The bar staff are old-school. Been there and done that and quick with a joke. The lounge gets very crowded and spills over into the lobby and out onto the veranda. Nightly. -Folks in this joint have been around a cocktail.

In case that's not enough, the lobby hosts a couple of attractions that set it apart. First, don't leave your chipping wedge in the bag. In front of the hearth in the lobby is a wooden target with a hole in the middle. Guys who have chipped into the hole read like a who's who of trad golf and, according to legend, Ben Crenshaw holds the record score.

The second selling point is the live music performing most nights in the lobby. But it's not just any live music. There's a guy who has been playing a portable electric piano there for years. Cheeztastic stuff like 'Ebony n Ivory' as well as danceable beach music classics. He's awesome.

It's no secret that over 80% of guests are repeat customers. -And the rest are probably word of mouth. This lends the place a slightly clubby atmosphere; like it's a frat house and you're pledging that weekend. But that's OK. It's a frat you'll want to join.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Trailer Trad Collecting: Vintage Souvenir Glasses

Vintage souvenir drinking glasses from the 1930s through the 1960s pack a lot of nostalgia into a little eight ounce cup. Get a load of how small serving sizes were in the 1950s! These glasses not only serve as reminders of travel back then but they often say a lot about what states and tourist attractions were like. Important industries back then might be long gone for example. Using bright primary colors and mid-century graphics, they illustrate how trains, cars or passenger liners conveyed tourists to wonderful, arcane destinations like Cypress Gardens FL or Oil City PA.
What did states think of themselves and how did they wish to be remembered? For Minnesota, it meant a huge Paul Bunyon and a gopher (or is it a badger?) dressed in hunting gear carrying a shotgun, I guess.
Some of these glasses illustrate specific tourist attractions of the day. Many 'tourist traps' were set up in the 1920s to attract the legions of new motorists and to increase traffic on newly constructed highways. Postwar families needed places to take children when on vacation.
Sun Valley Idaho looked like a lot of fun-even back then! If you couldn't afford the train fare to Sun Valley, there was always Luray Caverns in Virginia.
For the ultimate in extreme family entertainment, let's load up the car and head to the 'Land of Make Believe.' -And, no, that's not located in Washington, DC.
These glasses can be found fairly readily at antique shows and flea markets and shouldn't set you back much more the $5 each. -Not bad for a little geography lesson that you can drink out of.