Lou Reed

I won’t attempt to compete with all that’s being written about Lou Reed in the wake of his death earlier this week. His death just made me reflect on my own encounters with his music.

I’m sure the first Lou Reed song I ever heard was “Walk on the Wild Side,” as it was one of the few songs of his that made it to the radio in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. I always liked it, even as a kid of maybe ten or twelve. It’s catchy, and Reed sings/talks about all these people who were on various journeys to see something new. They sounded kind of down-and-out, especially compared to my own suburban existence. Maybe that was part of the appeal.

Once I started getting into different kinds of music as a teenager I heard a little more of Reed’s solo music, and then when I was about twenty I bought a vinyl copy of “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” in large part because of the cover (I was aware of Andy Warhol, and assumed that buying this record immediately increased my cool factor). I don’t think I had ever heard any of these songs before buying the album, but I had read about it, probably in Rolling Stone.

This album was transformational for me. It’s unlike anything else I was listening to at the time, and it seems like music made not to please an audience, but just because the band thought it was good. If ever there was a song destined to never be played on mainstream radio, it’s “Heroin.” I also like the Nico songs “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” The songs seem simple musically, and despite the band’s tough appearance, the songs are often very sensitive.

Other favorites of mine include “Perfect Day,” “Satellite of Love,” “Sweet Jane,” “Who Loves the Sun?” and many others, I suppose. I think there are some musicians whose music I just seem to get. Not that I love every song, but the ones I love I really love. Lou Reed is one of those people.

Paris, even when it rains

My wife and I first visited Paris in 2011, and we recently booked another trip there for the fall. It’s such a beautiful city, and it has so much going for it it’s hard to know how to describe it. We had great weather for our first visit, and it only rained once. And even in the rain, it’s still pretty great.

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The Blvd. St. Germain, near the Odeon Metro stop, Paris, France

Santa Cruz, California

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my wife and I headed down to Santa Cruz for a long weekend. We returned to this great vacation house we had rented a couple of years before, also for our anniversary. We have fond memories of that weekend, as it was our last little getaway with our previous dog, Frannie, and I think it was the last time she ever made it to the beach. Now we have Sophie, and we took her along for this trip.

Frannie

Sophie

As you can see, there are some clear similarities. Mostly, they’re just happy to be at the beach.

The house we rent is in a great location. It’s on a dead end street that has public access to a really nice beach, and there is a good Hawaiian restaurant within easy walking distance. We also drove down to Capitola for an afternoon, I guess as a getaway from our getaway.

Pt. Reyes Station, California

On a recent Sunday my wife and decided to get out of San Francisco and head up to Marin for the day. The city is nice and all, and we usually find something fun to get into, even if it’s just a leisurely lunch complete with wine and Sophie, our yellow lab. But some days you just want a complete change of scenery, and Marin definitely fits the bill.

At first we thought about heading up to Hog Island Oyster Company, which is in Marshall right on the Tomales Bay. But since it was Father’s Day we thought Hog Island might be a little crowded. So instead we opted to head for Point Reyes, a tiny little town out in Marin.

Marin County barn

“Hello, fog.”

The family

Sometimes when you live in San Francisco, with all its summer fog, it pays to get out of town. We call it “chasing the sun.” As you can tell from the photos, it paid off for us on this particular day.

The Oxford Cloth Button Down Shirt

There may be no other shirt more basic, and more versatile, than the oxford cloth button down (OCBD). It goes with just about anything, it can be dressed up or down, and when you get a good one, it will last a long time, getting softer and more comfortable with age. Last year I decided to pick up a few new shirts, specifically button downs.

The first one I bought is from Ratio Clothing, based in Denver. I read about Ratio somewhere or other and decided to give it a try. They offer an interesting service — custom-made shirts, produced in the U.S., for a good price.

Despite all the options at Ratio, the ordering process is pretty simple. The website walks you through your choice of material (they don’t limit themselves to oxford cloth button downs), collar, cuff, pleats, and all the sizing. I went with a simple white shirt for its classic look. It does take a few weeks to turn the order around, but when I received mine I could see the quality. I hope to order from them in the near future, but I’m confident recommending them based on my first shirt. As an added bonus in the Customer Service Department, I received an email from Ratio about a week after receiving my shirt, just to make sure it was what I wanted and that I was happy with it. That’s good stuff.

White Ratio Clothing shirt

My other button down purchases came from Bonobos, a brand best known for its pants. Over the past couple of years they have branched out, and they now offer button down shirts in several colors (added bonus, they are made in the U.S.).

With the use of some store credit, a sale, and a discount code I was able to pick up a couple of shirts for not too much cash, and I have been really happy with them. They are similar in quality to the Ratio shirt, although I appreciated Ratio’s offering of a slim fit, which suits me a little better. But still, I’m not too picky and if my shirt has a little extra fabric around the middle, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Here is one of the colors I picked up. They call it purple, but it isn’t really purple purple.

Bonobos button down shirt

These shirts have been great for both work and weekends, under sweaters, with ties, untucked with jeans, and pretty much everything else. My wife hasn’t yet slept in one (why does that seem to be such a common motif in movies, ads, etc.?), but she’d probably like it if she did.

Brown Suede Shoes

I really like the look of suede shoes. They can straddle the line between dressy and casual, and, depending upon the details, one pair can go with everything from suits to jeans. Here are a few possibilities, at various prices:

Florsheim Haviland

I used to think of Florsheim as old-man shoes. I’m not sure if the Florsheim brand has changed, or if I have turned into an old man. Whatever the reason, I think these shoes look pretty cool.

Grenson Tom

I have a pair of Grenson Tylers, a smooth brown leather shoe that has a similar shape to the Tom. I like the cap toe on this one, and the brown is rich and dark.

J.Crew Allerton wing tip

This is a recent offering from J.Crew. Apparently it was popular enough to sell out before Christmas. It’s back in stock now (returns, maybe?) but with only a few sizes to choose from.

Alden Wallace Plain Toe Walker from Unionmade

Finally, there is this nice offering from Unionmade’s selection of Alden shoes. The most expensive of the bunch, but I’m sure you can find many guys who will tell you how great Alden is. Whether or not it’s worth it to you, I cannot say.

Unis Gio — Chinos With Color

For the longest time I never gave much thought to the color of my pants. Typically they would be fairly conservative, such as khaki, gray, blue, or brown. I spent more time trying to add color to my wardrobe through my shirts. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but lately I have been looking for pants with more interesting colors. One of the brands I came across is Unis (pronounced “YOU-ness,” after its founder, Eunice Lee), and their Gio pants.

The Unis Gio, in oxblood

I tried on a pair at Unionmade in the week after Christmas, but they were out of the oxblood. For some reason this was the color I had settled on, and so I checked out the Unis website. I had tried on a size 33 at Unionmade and they felt good. Normally I’m a 32 but they didn’t have any 32s in stock — the 33 was maybe a little on the loose side, but given the overall slimness of the fit I thought it looked and felt just fine. And I hate wearing pants that feel too tight.

I ordered a pair of the oxbloods in 33 and I’m still waiting on them to arrive. Hopefully they’ll work out since I can’t return them. If I like them I noticed a few other colors that look good, so perhaps I’ll splurge on a second or even third pair.