When I was a kid, I was jealous of Kevin McCallister. I was jealous of his tree house, his ability to process things well beyond his age level and mostly jealous of the fact that he got to party his ass off alone on Christmas.
A day typically spent with family, Christmas is all about eating, laughing, fighting; doing family stuff – or if you’re the McCallisters, doing all this while in Paris. But for the last few years, instead of bearing the brunt of travails back home to Chicago, I’ve opted to stay put in New York and spend the day home alone.
It started by coincidence and travel planning procrastination, but ended up not being so bad. Instead of uncomfortable unwrapping, frequently horrendous travel conditions and over consumption of delicious yet unhealthy food, I sleep in, take my time, and always (even when home) go see a movie. Fortunately, I don’t get forced into setting copious amounts of traps to ward off would be home invasion types.
This year was no exception. After a morning of well wished calls, I hit the quiet streets and snapped a few photos, took a drive and topped it off with a movie (On the Road). Another Christmas in the books.
Spending Christmas alone isn’t for everyone, I get it. And I admit, it sounds lonely, but it’s become the one day a year where all I do is worry about what movie I’m going to see. It’s nice. But for everyone else out there, either alone or with loved ones, happy holidays (albeit a couple of days late), may your glasses stay full and Joe Pesci off your lawn.
Seated on the southeast shore of the Little Traverse Bay sits the small town of Petoskey, Michigan. If you were to use your hand as a map, as does any civilized Michigander, Petoskey can be found in the northwest, or near the ring-finger. For my recent visit, I used google maps.
Petoskey resembles many smaller lakeside towns. Hours away from any metropolitan hub, its pace is slow, its mood polite and its style casual. There’s a main street filled with typical crafty fare, the local inn or two and of course several establishments to take a drink.
Between 1910 and 1920, the Hemingway family spent their summers in Petoskey. It’s said, Ernest and friend even made the 400-mile trek from their Oak Park, Illinois home on foot a time or two. While in Petoskey, City Park Grill would play host as the neighborhood local, where a young Papa spent afternoons huddled over a drink and journal. During my most recent trip to wolverine state, I paid a visit to the former Hemingway haunt for a beer & burger.
Originally known as the Annex, the building that now houses the City Park Grill dates back to 1875 and has seen little change since Papa’s last visit. Most of the bar-side interiors remain as they were pre-prohibition, straight forward and simple, with a few minor face lifts. Tin covers the walls and ceiling, oak, mahogany and redwood make up the back bar, with a single piece of appropriately scarred 35-foot oak seated on the bar top. Above it all, a portrait of Papa.
With his appetite for a drink, there’s no shortage of old Hemingway haunts. Most are either defunct or reside in larger cities and are typically a shell of what they were. Uncrowded, remote and intact, City Park grill may be an exception.
This past weekend marked the fifth go-around for the Pop-Up Flea and as expected it didn’t disappoint. Like the turnout, the selection of offerings was impressive and as with years past there was no shortage of menswears. This year’s welcomed curve ball brought Oil & Leather, an exhibit by Levis Vintage Clothing capturing the tradition of hand-painted motorcycle jackets.
Inspired by the hand-painted leather flight jackets of returning GIs from WWII, American biker gangs took a cue and created their own style. One that would eventually become a symbol of their culture and lifestyle. In celebration of this tradition and style, LVC gathered 21 artists from around globe to hand paint a black LVC leather jacket. Much of the work hits a personal soft spot, capturing or resembling traditional tattoo flash and Americana art work. In fact, a couple of close friends (and tattoo artists) from Chicago were among those selected.
Although I came to stare at watches and waxed canvas, I quickly gravitated towards Oil & Leather, and like the PUF, it did not disappoint.
In case you weren’t in New York this past weekend, catch the exhibit on its last stop at the Shinjuku Levis store in Tokyo (December 7th – 23rd), where all the jackets will eventually be sold in support of a good cause. [LVC]
After a long and arduous journey, good friends, Billykirk have unveiled their much anticipated new site. Improving on their previous e-commerce platform, the new site is chocked full of bells & whistles that are foreign to its predecessor. Speaking from a sheer volume perspective, the Brays have pulled out all the stops and have more online offerings than ever before along with several online exclusives. There’s also an image heavy blog that provides a glimpse into Chris’ obsession with hot rods, worn counter tops and zippers, as well as Kirk’s artwork and some images of product battle scars.
A little about the gentlemen at the helm.
Started in 1999 by brothers Chris and Kirk Bray in Los Angeles CA, Billykirk is a leather and canvas design company which was founded on the desire to make lasting items that get better with age. Billykirk, now partnered with three US-based manufacturers, has been located on the East Coast since 2005. Most of their small leather goods and bags are handmade by in-house artisans or by a group of Amish leather crafters in Pennsylvania.
Sold throughout the world, the brothers remain focused on designing goods that are understated and function driven. This keep-it-simple design philosophy is not led by trends but rather an appreciation for utility, longevity and provenance.
Pop-over to the new site and check out the latest bag of goods along with their upcoming Black Friday savings. Also, if you’re in New York between November 30th and December 2nd, you can catch the Billykirk at The Pop-Up Flea, where they’ll be selling and customizing select belts, wallets, etc. [Billykirk]