Blue Linen Summer Suit

It’s been an almost perfect couple of weeks. Study and school in the morning, run to the beach and snorkel in the afternoon, evenings with the wife, and post-midnight work on a paid creative collaboration. (I hope to be able to tell you more about that fairly soon.) Turn on a B-movie, pass out, start again. Mixed in with this, I’ve gotten another research apprenticeship for the fall. (This one with The Interplanetary Initiative.) And I’ve even had a linen summer suit made. Life these last few weeks has been perfect. It can’t possibly last.

I was a bit nervous about this one. It’s a bit different from what I usually like.

Straight from beach to basted fitting.

I usually work off a basically, for lack of a better term, British suit style template. For that reason, linen has always made me a bit nervous. Fuck knows, I didn’t want to look like I just stepped out of the colonial office for a gin and tonic. I would much prefer to look like a cocaine dealer than Dr. Livingstone. At least the crimes of cocaine dealers aren’t backed by the state. Well, not usually, at least. Not officially, anyway. Most of the time that is.

But, given the high temperatures and suffocating humidity, I decided I required a linen suit. I’m basically content transforming back into my punk form for the summer but it’s still nice to be able to, once in a while, put on some clothes and not just completely die.

I had to make some changes and take some risks with cut and fit, not completely sure how it would all turn out. I wanted a more Mediterranean style. Basically, for lack of a better term, a more Italian cut. Looser fit to catch any breeze, more focus on drape, higher waist, and, for the first time in my life, pleats. I wanted a suit that could keep me cool, and be fairly versatile. Nothing precious. Something that could be casual.

I’m very happy with the result.

Dressed down:

Dressed up:

The linen should wrinkle nicely. There’s not really anything you can do to stop linen from wrinkling. It’s in its nature, you see. But we took a few measures to try to control what will happen when it wrinkles. We even lengthened the jacket sleeves a little bit so that, when the suit wrinkles at the elbows, it should wrinkle into an even better fit.

It’s also my tailor’s favorite suit that she’s made me. She says it’s more the style she likes.

I like it too but, in particular, I’m really liking the comfort, feel and the lightness of the linen. These days, between my corduroy suits and this, I’ve favoring more durable suits made from tougher fabrics. Fabrics that look better as they age. Textiles that improve as they break down. A bit of wabi-sabi. Instead of fearing wear, I want to embrace sweet decay.

And, I don’t know, maybe in three to five years, my wardrobe and I might have a bit of a better grip on the heat and humidity here. I doubt it but I can dream. That’s perfectly legal.

love collapse

I’ve fallen in love. Some people may say that such a feeling is a delusion. A romantic notion. A sick ideal from a dead world. Impossible at the best of times. And during these times?

Surely love is a mistake. Love? In this economy?

More likely, it’s not love. Nothing so romantic. It’s probably just the desperate barnyard rutting of gasping animals. But love? There’s no way. Love is not real. Love is just a free hit of domestically produced drugs from some benevolent dealer lurking in our monkey brains. A plot to chemically trick mammals into rearing children rather than eating them. Or maybe it’s just a mind infection. A pattern of possession, property, and ownership. A reproduction of power in the personal. These giddy heights and slobbering feelings? These are only the joys felt on a Wednesday afternoon by a middle manager cutting hours and maximizing efficiency. The slow caress of fingers across the revised schedule. Nothing to see here. God is dead. There is no love. There is only economy and chemicals. Stop acting like a child. I understand. Yet, I cannot deny my heart. Love. I’ve fallen in love.

Of course, it’s with a fabric. I’m no saint. I’ve fallen in love with corduroy.

It could be worse – I could be in love with a cat.

I’ve known corduroy for a long time. I’ve always liked it. Of course, like many teenagers, in high-school, I experimented with blue denim pants (“blue jeans”) and the like but I was never fond of denim. As a fabric, denim is only really suitable for California – where, like a lot of California fashions that caught on worldwide –Chuck Taylors and the like– it feels great, works well, and is completely fit for purpose. But in Canada, a country that will eat your converse sneakers for breakfast? Denim is too cold when it is cold and too hot when it is hot. A cold wind cuts right through denim and humidity suffocates the legs. It’s terrible.

Now, I would not say I was lucky to grow up in the last century but there were some benefits. In the 90s, used clothing had not yet been repacked as “vintage.” Used clothing was called “second-hand” and it was sold cheap out of thrift shops rather than curated boutiques. True, you were shopping in a sort of semi-organized dump, but outside of the cities, you could get a whole used suit of decent quality for 3-5 dollars. That was cheap even then. It was about the price of a pack of cigarettes. If someone who shared your size and style, taste in collectibles or books, had recently died, you basically hit the jackpot. It was enough to make one think that measurements should be included in obituaries. We should have been reading death notices like the SEARS catalog. Oh well, missed opportunities.

The racks had not yet been picked clean by boutique owners buying every semi-stylish item and marking it up for resale in trendy districts. Even when that started to happen, the thrift shops took a while to notice. Of course, they did eventually notice and respond by raising their own prices. I remember seeing the prices skyrocket as the selection collapsed. I remember the first time I saw a used suit selling for three figures in Value Village — a second hand shop at Bloor and Lansdowne in Toronto. Shocking and absurd. Twenty was overpriced. But once you’re paying a hundred? You might as well not buy it. You might as well keep your money and start saving for a tailor. The difference between seven dollars and a hundred is a lot bigger than the difference between a hundred and a thousand.

In the nineties, there was also an influx of corduroy into these shops. This fabric had been popular during the 1970s and either the people who wore corduroy had decided it was dated and donated it, or the people who wore it had finally succumbed to their numerous vices, and had their clothing donated by their grieving (though, if we’re being totally honest, probably relieved) spouses. The styles of the seventies reappeared at cheap prices.

Time and space operated differently during that era. These days, there’s fast fashion and every era is instantly available and expertly curated. But back in the day? Fashion more or less cycled through death. It even used to be said that you were old when you saw your old styles come back into fashion. Basically, the best and most durable items from any era survived into thrift stores, where they could be cheaply acquired by hot teens in your neighborhood who had never seen them before, and being hot local teens in your area, they made it stylish again. And that’s the context I met corduroy in. A corpse’s old clothes.

By the time I left high-school, I had totally given up on blue denim pants in favor of corduroy trousers. They were comfortable, durable, and cute. Very easy to smoke ____ in the woods in corduroy pants. So what if they made a strange noise while you were walking? They also came in colors –largely earth tones, to be sure– but colors all the same. Blue jeans did not look blue to most people. I suspect they still don’t. Just as FUTURE HUMANS probably don’t see the silver in the silver jumpsuits they all wear, late 20th century humans did not see the blue in the blue denim pants they all wore. Blue jeans were colorless. An absence.

And since then, corduroy has been a staple in my wardrobe. An old and loyal friend but not one I thought much about. Over the years, I’ve had two blazers purchased second hand and made from corduroy –one which, a forest green three button, was my pride and joy for years– and a few different trousers. Whatever else was going on in my life, I needed a pair of corduroy trousers somewhere in the closet. Cooking, cleaning, painting. Needed them.

But even as the selection in thrift shops was generally decreasing, the selection of corduroy was specifically decreasing. Unlike, say, plaid, there was no rush to make new corduroy. There was no new influx of corduroy into second hand shops. Even as old GAP plaid shirts filled the racks, as last season’s FUBU hit the shelves, corduroy only vanished. Unable t breed, hunted to extinction by vintage shops, the fabric vanished. The carcass of the 1970s was chewed down to bare bones. I bought it where I could find it. I could not find it often.

It was always a pleasure to stumble into corduroy. When I used to shop second-hand, even when I got into suiting, I used to shop with my fingers first. I did not look at the clothes. I travelled down the aisle, touching them. You can feel quality in a cloth. My eyes might mislead me, but my fingers were honest. (In suits, fit and quality is more important than color or pattern — both of which are, in my view, a function of fit and quality. By all means, get a pink suit. I have one. But, if you do, that motherfucker better fit right. Otherwise, aim for gray.) When feeling something good, I’d make a mental note, look down, check its appearance and size, see if it could be altered or if it had to be, and move from there. That was my method. It served me well for a long time. Though one wonders if thrift stores can survive fast fashion — not just because of the cheapness of new items but because of their lack of quality. I suspect not. Stereo repair did not survive GoldStar. How can thrift shops survive clothes that dissolve on the skin? Who would pay for alterations?

But I lose the plot.

Corduroy always felt good. It’s a cheap fabric but it feels rich. It feels quality. Whenever my fingers bumped into it, my eyes would open. It’s something like velvet.

Now, I like velvet. But I have feelings about velvet. To my mind, velvet is louche. The amount of velvet in your wardrobe should be a measurement of the amount of opiates in your bloodstream. If you plan on wearing a velvet suit, I approve, but you should accessorize with bruised arms, collapsed veins, a syringe in your pocket, and an antique settee to nod out on. Corduroy makes no such demands. It is sensual without suicide. A rare quality.

Of course, you can die in corduroy. It’s just not a requirement.

Until late last winter, I had never owned a new piece of corduroy clothing. They had always been second-hand. When I first started having suits made, I did think about getting a corduroy suit but it always remained my second choice. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. There were reasons for this. Price was a problem. I’m not actually made of money.

Bespoke seemed expensive for corduroy. Like seersucker, bespoke corduroy seemed a bit much. A process totally out of step with the fabric. Overdoing it. And, I suppose in some sense, I was still holding out hope that I would, one day, against all odds, find a second hand corduroy suit that fit. It just never happened. Quite possibly, those are totally extinct.

The other measure of price is value. I feel like spending $20 on a suit I didn’t like, didn’t wear, and fell apart was a bigger waste of money than $2000 on a suit I loved and would last me decades — if I could only keep my body disciplined. But this sort of valuation meant that I often aimed at all season weights. Something I could wear in winter and summer. Corduroy is a lot of things but it’s not something you can wear in the heat. Therefore, bad value.

And, back then, if I was to err, it would often be on the side of fine cloth. I think, my most fragile suit is a Holland and Sherry Super 150 Worsted. I love that suit, take good care of it, and have had it for over ten years, but it does make me nervous. It feels like wearing glass. It’s a cloth for people who can throw something like that out without a second thought and have another one made without looking at the bill. A bit rich for my blood.

Busan has changed my calculations. For starters, bespoke tailoring is cheaper than it is in North America, and tailoring is much more common. It does not seem like the same insane luxury purchase it is in Toronto. Now, it’s still high end but it’s probably below brand names. Altogether, it feels less luxury, more thrifty, and much more in reach. Clothing repair is also very common. And corduroy is a cheap option in bespoke suits. Korean corduroy, cheaper still. And Korean corduroy is really good. My fingers like it just as much as the Italian options.

As far as corduroy being too hot for summer here, it is. But so are all my other suits. The humidity is unbelievable. All my suits are winter suits. I’m not even going to try to fuck around with summer suits. In the summer, I’m just going to let the heat melt me back into some sort of glamor punk, deal with that as it comes, and wait for fall. That’s just how shit will be now. I’ll live. It might get ugly but I will adapt. I have to.

So, with all that in mind, I bought my first corduroy suit late last winter.

This might have had something to do with the general pandemic driven societal shift away from what some people were calling “hard pants.” For me, this meant something soft and comfortable like corduroy more than sweatpants. Though, help me Satan, I have nothing against sweatpants. I hate having to say that sort of thing but I do.

It seems like because I have opinions on what I wear, people love to assume that I have opinions on what other people wear. Even worse, they assume they know what those opinions are — often believing I want a world where everyone is dressed like me. Even more bizarre, people often assume that I must be a big fan of the latest show or movie featuring someone in a suit –that has been going on since Sick Boy in Trainspotting– and people also assume that must like music by people who also wear suits. I like some music by some people in suits. I also like music by people in DEVO hats and metal masks. Mainly, I don’t like music. I don’t care. And my basic opinion on all this is some of you need to get a lot more comfortable with difference. Not everyone wants everything to be them.

I’m not one of those people who goes around judging people by their clothes –if some asshole like me can wear a bespoke suit, all bets are off– and I have virtually no opinion on anything other people wear. I can’t be bothered to develop opinions about areas that have nothing to do with me and relate to the comfort and happiness of strangers. I’m not paying for your clothes, I don’t mind what you wear. If I am paying, you’re getting something cheap and durable. Dickies, probably. I only say or even think about other people’s clothes when I want to steal something, am asked or have something nice to say. Even compliments often feel presumptuous. I only ask that other people show me the same basic respect. You don’t pay me enough to make requests. If you want to compliment me, that’s fine. Who doesn’t like a compliment? Mainly, I like to be left alone.

So now that that’s out the fucking way, for the umpteenth time, and probably not the last, Satan help me, this is part of the reason why I quit this shit DEEP BREATH

But, not only was last winter my first corduroy suit, it was also my first piece of new corduroy. I have never felt new corduroy before. I had no idea how pleasantly stiff it was. I mean, I’d heard the rumors and I have some sense –not much– but this came as a surprise.

More surprising to me was how much I loved wearing it. It felt like I could put my feet up, wear it around the house, go out, roll up my sleeves, whatever. And one thing I like about suits is their flexibility. I like that they are kind of semiotically blank. You can wear the same suit in a lot of different spaces, blend in and stand out to the same degree, and have people draw totally different and wildly inaccurate conclusions about you. Their meaning is often their context and a corduroy suit does this well. It never quite fits. A stranger everywhere.

I want to live in this suit.

I know some people are concerned with outfit repeaters. That idea is the exact opposite of my feeling about clothes. I want to repeat outfits. My ideal is not a new outfit everyday – it is the same outfit every day. If I could find that outfit, if any outfit was that good, I would be very happy. For me, changing clothes is failure. It is a failure of my clothes and of my character. I would love to have just one outfit. From here to the grave. The impossible dream. I have had to settle for variations on a theme. Pobody is nerfect.

Having been so happy with my first foray into corduroy suits, I decided to try again. This time instead of blue, I wanted a dark purple. I did think about a forest green but it seemed too rural. I have not ruled the color out for future purchases and, as much as I like meeting deer and owls and cryptids in the woods, I’m not trying to shoot a quail in the face. I can wear deep purple into the woods. I’m not sure I can wear green downtown.

I am ridiculously happy with this suit. Not just the color and fit of the thing but also the feel. It’s stiff and tough. For now. But corduroy breaks in. And I love breaking in clothes. Too often, a new suit feels more like it is going to break down. The first time you wear it, is the best. That’s when it fits the best and is in its best shape. All that follows is decay.

I don’t mind decay. The custodians of the world do not get near enough credit. Of all the concepts we’ve seen perverted and lost over the years while people chase a buck, the loss of custodianship may hurt us the most. We’ve lost this concept not only in big things but in small. I enjoy being the custodian of my clothes. Of taking care of them. Of knowing decay is coming but these are not things to be thrown away and replaced but things to be looked after, even as I look after my body so that I can keep using them. They will decay. They started decaying the moment I had them made. But until then, I will look after them.

Custodianship is old and familiar to me. But breaking in? This is new.

Though I have never liked denim, I have known people who love it. And those who like it, even casually, often prize this breaking in. How the fabric changes over time, directed by the body. Certain Japanese denims are prized for what happens as they break in. A new beauty emerges from wear. The breaking in of clothes has been a pleasure denied to me. I suspect that it’s denied to many people these days, for many different reasons. Things too often break down before they break in. Boots and shoes even. It’s fucking tragic.

But I can feel this suit, almost like a living thing, adjusting to my movements, my heat, and my contacts with the world. It feels like it will age well. Show its marks. Not as damage but as character. And I am thrilled. This is a quality I’ve craved without knowing it. More even than the color, the fit, or anything else, I have fallen for the collapse. For the ways this suit will change and soften, and stain, and wear. For patches not yet put on.

I know it’s too romantic. I know I should concern myself more with matters of chemicals and economy. But I cannot help myself. I have fallen in love. With corduroy and with collapse.

New Overcoat: Herringbone

The heat of the summers has caused me to pretty much go all in on heavier cloths and cold weather suits. There just isn’t a summer suit that will work here. Not outside of air-conditioned quarters. And most of my time in suits is outside of air conditioning.

In the summers, I’m just going to resign myself to devolving back into some sort of punk nonsense and just learn to live with that. We are Borg. We will adapt.

As far as adapting to the current ongoing lung-grinding airborne crisis, with its various phases, stages, steps, and guidelines, I’ve made some important progress: My tailor made me a mask. Two actually. Both out of the same material as my coat. So they match!

As my photographic skills are, pretty much, total trash, here’s some pictures she took of the situation. These will probably also give you a better idea of how the coat and mask actually look. For some fucking reason, I can never get the color of things right. So here:

Mask worn over the real mask in accordance with KDCA guidelines.

Having those masks made was interesting. My tailor was very hesitant about making these –as well as the length of the coat– but she eventually agreed to both and was very happy with the results when they were done. But before we got started?

She very much wanted me to understand that she was not in the habit of entertaining such insane requests. She would only make these masks for me. Why? Because I’m a regular and, well, because I’m me. And, while I’m not entirely sure of what it means means to be me, I suppose it might mean that I’m, er, a little outside of The Norms of polite society.

The tailoring culture is a little different here.

Now, I want to preface this with — I do think people can read too much into things and misunderstand a lot. I could be totally wrong about all of this. It’s just an impression I get.

The impression I get is that the tailoring culture is different here. For starters, there’s a lot of tailor shops. I haven’t even been able to count how many are in my immediate vicinity and this isn’t even a tailoring or fashion district. There’s just tailors all over the place.

I think the standard way that you get a suit is you have a suit made. The typical suit is not off the rack but made in one of these numerous little shops. And the suits are usually for business or formal events. (I don’t think Casual Fridays exist in Korea — thank you, Satan!) A big driver of suit sales is, I believe, The Interview Suit. When you’re getting interviewed for a jobs, you have a suit made for your interviews. There’s guidelines.

Whatever impression one may have gotten from k-pop or k-dramas, the style suit? Not really a thing. Bright colors? They’re a rarity. From what I can tell, the highly developed street style here is generally very introverted. There’s a lot of black and some beige. Rather than express a personality, much of the street style seems meant to create a sense of mystery. It’s more of a pull you in than loudly assert yourself. Conformist, I guess, in a sense but . . .

It was much the same in Toronto. In a way.

If you’ve ever walked around Toronto in a pink suit at any time or in any color during the winter, you will have probably noticed the total dearth of color. The odd flash of a red scarf in that monochromic landscape attracts attention. Only advertisements are allowed to be bright. Everything else is shades of gray and black and beige and brown and navy blue.

That’s what passes for taste, I guess.

But the few bespoke tailors there are in Toronto do seem comfortable with flash, flamboyance, and flair. Now, I was always a bit of an odd duck and often pushed things, but I never got the sense of restraint about tailored suits in Toronto that I’ve gotten here. There was much less a sense of the suit as uniform. That sense existed but as atavism.

Not so here.

When we traveled to Seoul years ago and had a few suits made in Itaewon, it was basically impossible to communicate that the suits were not for business. (The tailor was fluent in English so it wasn’t a language barrier.) When I saw a fairly wild pattern that I liked, I was told that was “a mafia stripe” and not allowed to buy it. The suits were basically divided like that — business and other business. I suspect things have changed, but you get my drift.

I do think the concept of “gentleman” and “dandy” and some confusion between the two have washed ashore here, but, in a way, these have also become uniforms. And me? Well, I’m no gentleman and I was a lot more comfortable being called a dandy when it was just something my friends said to make fun of me, and meant nothing except I was some sort of overdressed drug addict. A weird glowing stain on a bathroom wall, perhaps.

저는 우주 쓰레기다.

It’s probably a peculiarity of my character that I like a value this sense of restraint and of the suit of uniform. I need rules so I can break rules. There’s few things I find more suffocating and oppressive than freedom. I don’t know how to use freedom. I hate a free-for-all where everyone gets to be themselves. It’s like some awful participatory community theater project.

I know this is probably an unpopular idea but I’m not even anti-bully. Now, don’t get me wrong — I fucking hate bullies. I have fought bullies and will fight bullies. Won some, lost a lot more. I fucking detest a bully. But give me a choice between a freak who has fought for their right to be them and some quirky weirdo who has been encouraged by parents, peers, and staff? I know who I prefer. I want the one who has been hit in the face. Been knocked down, got up, knocked down again, and has that “fuck you” in their very bones.

But, I will say this — my ideas on this subject are probably no way to run a society, a family, or anything else. More just a sort of matter of personal temperament. Not a thing I take all that seriously and certainly not a prescription for anything. More a mood. A vibe.

Like, I’m probably just fucked up. Hit in the face too many times. I know that.

Did I have a point? I like my new coat.

Back On My Bullshit

During Typhoon Tapah, which just swept through Busan, destroying umbrellas, breaking trees, and flooding parking garages, I stayed inside eating ramen and researching tailors. This isn’t the easiest research to do online. For starters, tailors aren’t necessarily social media mavens and, as with all things, there’s no direct relationship between social media competency and competency in anything else — especially when it comes to difficult tasks that take time and skill. SNS takes time. So do worthwhile things.

A person only has so much time.

The grave awaits.

A few other difficulties emerge. There’s language, of course, and, adding to that, Korea is online in a different way than North America. It’s Naver instead of Google, Facebook is basically for foreigners, and Kakao is the primary SNS. Now, there is an expat community, some of whom like suits. There’s a couple of problems with that.

The first is that most of their efforts focus on Seoul. Itaewon, in particular. Now, that was of some use when I was near Itaewon. But here in Busan? Not so much.

The other problem is having to listen to the expat community. Especially those in it who like suits. Especially, when it’s the expat community, who likes suits, reviewing things on the Internet. Like, that’s a lot and, frankly, any of it is pushing it. And swear to God, if it’s not some insufferable white asshole holding forth on how the natives treat him like a God and the women all adore him, it’s some other fussy pedant who just wants you to know how above all of it he is, while not actually wanting to pay for anything. Cheap, suit-loving expats, who review things they don’t know shit about online? That’s like super compounded geek shit. And I fucking hate geeks. Geeks wreck everything.

So I wasn’t able to find any information online. At least, not much. So today, with the Typhoon safely behind us, I decided to do it the old fashioned way. Just hit the streets and check out a couple of the tailor shops that I’ve seen around.

The first shop is a bit of a walk from me. But it’s near my favorite batting cages. Sadly, things didn’t work out there. There was just too much of a language barrier. Communication is really important when you’re having a suit made. I mean, that’s one of the things that made Don Fabian Lee in Toronto such a great tailor. He listened. We had a rapport. It’s hard to have a rapport when you don’t share a language.

And tailoring terms — how do you translate them? Think about the term “rolling shoulder.” Like, it’s not really rolling. And a computer sure as fuck isn’t going to know what you’re talking about. It’s just going to put those words together to make gibberish.

But the tailor there was a very nice lady and very patient with me. It just wasn’t going to work. I mean, it might have. I liked the spot. But I found a place I prefer.

This one is closer to home.

Now, I’m not going to get into a bunch of naming names and all that – this isn’t a travel guide nor is it Yelp. Just talking about my personal experiences and observations here and I don’t want to put anyone under any sort of searchable spotlight. It just makes me uncomfortable when people start talking about other people online. It’s a bit gross.

And who knows – this could all go badly.

But the young woman who worked at this spot seemed to know what she was about. She spoke some English, which is more than enough, and we were able to go through fabric samples, draw some pictures, and take some measurements. She had an interesting process. While measuring me, she made me change into a suit. Now, that’s a new one by me. I don’t even know if it’s normal. It might be, But, with me, I’m usually in a suit so it usually wouldn’t be necessary. At the moment, though, all of my suits are sailing across the Pacific — that is, hopefully, they’re sailing. Maybe some typhoon has dropped them into Davy Jones’ locker. If so, Davy Jones will be looking sharp these days. But, long story short, she wanted to see me in a suit. I like that.

With tailors, you hear a bit about “rock of eye.” That’s basically a tailor’s ability to size you by looking at you, to see things that the drafts and measurements may not pick up. It’s kind of where the art takes over from the math. So if she needs to see me against a sort of blank canvass to use her rock of eye, I’m all for it. I trust rock of eye and I trust tailors who use it. And she seems to have a good one. She spotted something on me –in my posture– that other tailors have spotted. That’s a good sign.

But what really sold me on this place was the cloth. When you read about tailoring in Asia, there’s usually two things that people talk about as pros and one that is a con. The tailors are good and they’re fast and it’s cheap. These are good things –though, if a cheap, fast suit is what you’re after, maybe bespoke isn’t really the thing. The big knock has always been the quality of the cloth. A lot of it isn’t very good. It’s not wool.

And all that seemed true enough when I was in Itaewon a few years back. But the cloth that this tailor had? It was a lot better. It was wool. It felt good.

It’s a bit more expensive than the cheapest they had and if you’re looking for a suit on the total cheap, it’s probably not for you but —and I wouldn’t say this about the cloth my previous Korean suits were made of— it’s quality. And at the price? A really good deal too. Like, I can scrape this money together. I should be able to do one a year.

Now, the proof will be in the pudding. This all has plenty of time to turn into a disaster. But I’m back on my bullshit and I feel comfortable with this tailor.


I have to head into work but thought I should share a picture of my new suit.


I’m liking the double-breasted thing. I was against it for some time but, well, the shape of my body has changed –thanks gym– and, these days, I’m a little bit less of a stick figure than I was a decade ago. I figure this probably the basic route that I’m going to go from here to Exit. Or, at least until my spaceship picks me up and takes me home so I can be reunited with my Sasquatch companions. Whatever happens first.



Log: Progress

Been a sort of busy week. I finished art history. I only wrote about Bigfoot once. That’s pretty good, I think. I mentioned the famous Bigfoot in response to this prompt about objects aiding worship.
Buddhapada (footprints of the Buddha), Amaravati, British Museum

If you want to know what I said, and I have no idea why you might, yet you’re here, for some reason . . .

“These footprints of Buddha aid the Buddhist in the quest for enlightenment by showing and not showing. By delimiting the Buddha’s representation, they leave his reality unlimited. It reminds me of the peculiar American deity, Bigfoot. When one only sees casts of Bigfoot’s footprints, they feel that the man-ape could be anywhere. He exists as a potential in an ubiquitous zone of mystery because his representation is delimited. But, when one sees a picture of him or, even worse – video, one loses this sense of mystery and its potentials. At that moment, Bigfoot appears as little more than a human in a gorilla costume. The clearer the representation is, the worse this becomes. Now, I’m not trying to say that Buddha is Bigfoot (though I won’t rule out Bigfoot being Buddha) but in this delimited representation of feet, Bigfoot and Buddha share a zone of mystery that aids the seeker of these strange concepts by allowing an impenetrable yet ubiquitous zone in which man-ape-beast or Buddha can exist.”

Yeah, I don’t know what’s wrong with me either. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to post this stuff here. If the police come, tell my mother I love her and I’m sorry.

Just waiting for the marks.

I also sent my Gatsby paper to people, friends and such, who asked to read it. Of course, immediately after sending it,  while in the parking lot at work, where most of the paper was conceived while pushing empty shopping carts, something occurred to me. I had to ask them not to read it, while I tried to get something a little more straight in my head and in the paper. In my experience, one can never be sure if they got a piece of writing right. But you do, sometimes, get a feeling like it’s done. And, after making those changes, I had that sort of feeling. Like I’d properly finished it, at least. Everyone was very patient with me and they all have the new and correct version of my first ever academic paper.

Now, I have about a week off from school before my ethics class starts.

My suit continues to progress. I headed into the tailor shop for another fitting. This was the basted fitting. Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry – I got you. From The Basted Fitting: A Hallmark of Buying A Bespoke Suit:

“It is called the basted fitting because, at this point, the suit is temporarily stitched together with white basting thread. Although measurements had previously been taken, the basted fitting will be the first time you actually get to try on your custom suit. The master tailor will then use the fitting to fine tune the jacket and trousers, so it drapes perfectly over your body. No shortcuts are taken, and every inch of your body will be examined so that your garment won’t require any alterations.”

It’s usually the second of the three fittings that a bespoke suit requires and, if all goes really well, the last that requires any work. It was also the first time I got a look at this suit. I’m very happy with it. It’s always interesting how the look of the cloth differs when it is scaled up to form a suit. I didn’t take any pictures of it. But here’s one of me in the changing room. If you squint, you can see the new pants hanging up.


Anyway, that’s it til next time.




Log: Tailor Trips, Loyalties and Whatnot

It feels like it’s been a pretty busy week. Probably because I had some extracurricular activities. On Monday, for example, I had to get a haircut and go to the tailor. The haircut was expected but the trip to the tailor was not. Turns out the cloth that I’d ordered for my birthday suit was out of stock. So I had to pick again. It’s a shame. That was a really beautiful cloth. But I’m pretty happy with the new one I’ve chosen too so . . .

Basically, how I choose is like this:

I have a rough idea of what I want when I go in. In this case, it was a dark grey, double breasted suit in a heavy cloth with a windowpane check. I go through all the books with the cloth samples. From each book, I pick one and leave it open to that “page.” Then, I get all of those books sitting on the table, all the samples next to each other and I just look at them. In this case, I had about twelve books open. I start to eliminate. Close a book, put it aside. So on and so forth. It’s pretty easy until I get down to three. By the time I’m down to three, there’s not actually much I can do in terms of picking the cloth. Any of them would be fine. At that point, the quality of the suit will be more a factor of other things, the cut and whatnot. Might as well flip a coin. But, often, one will stand out to me and that’s what happened here. It was different than I expected. It’s a dark blue with a check pattern in a cloth a bit lighter than I’d originally wanted. But that’s fine. I’m open to changing depending on what I like. The original idea is more of a guide than anything.

It’s strange working with a new tailor. I miss my old guy, Don Fabien Lee of Trend Custom Tailors, in Toronto. It was very easy to get on the same page with Don. This house is a bit more traditional, which is some of the appeal, but I dunno . . . Having a new tailor is just weird. But you just have roll with the punches in life and let things develop on their own terms. The proof will be in the pudding and that’s just starting to be made.

Aside from all this, I had a fairly significant amount of schoolwork to get through. Honestly, the only day off it feels like I have is the time between leaving work at midnight on Sunday night and when I wake up on Monday. If I manage to get out in front of the school, I sometimes have a Thursday when I don’t have to do anything. No such luck this week. I had to take two quizzes, write a discussion post and do an English assignment. But that’s not so bad. I did get to watch some baseball with the dogs.


A’s were at Toronto. I used to feel a lot more conflicted about this but, these days, it’s pretty easy to root for the A’s over the Jays. Part of that is just Fuck Rogers and another is how much I like the A’s. I still follow the Jays but I have a hard time supporting them. I sort of like hating them. I don’t know. It’s complicated. Probably dysfunctional.

And the A’s laid a pretty good thumping on the Jays. It was a pretty typical A’s game. Hit a lot and can’t pitch for shit. It only lacked Matt Chapman doing something at third that made me say “Oh my God!” That’s one special player. I’ll be at work for the rest of the series so I’m just going to go ahead and assume that A’s get a sweep.

As far as this blog goes, I’m trying to be a bit more consistent. That means breaking up what would just be Owl Pellets into separate posts. I mean, in the old days, Owl Pellets used to just be ‘undigested parts of the internet’ – the stuff I read but didn’t have time to post about. Seems to me that if all the posts are going to be in pellet form, I just don’t have the time to blog. So I’m breaking those up and using a bit of scheduling technology. Basically, I’m trying to write the week on Fridays before work, leave open Fridays to do a “log” post like this and, if I have the time or inclination throughout the week, then do something extra. Couple weeks in and that seems to be going okay. Shit won’t be cutting edge current or whatever but I think that’s kind of a garbage value anyway. Anyway . . .

We’ll see how it goes.


Bespoke Suicide Pod

Here’s a newish one. Bespoke suicide pods.

sarco suicide pod

The Sarco – short for sarcophagus, if you’re asking – is an assisted suicide pod that seals the, um, ‘user’ inside and then lowers the oxygen level, creating a feeling of intoxication and relaxation. It’s sort of like dry drowning: your body goes through hypoxia without the negative effects of, well, choking for breath and panicking.

A deathstyle industry isn’t exactly new. I mean, look at the pyramids. And going out in style isn’t all that new either. I mean, look at Cleopatra. And none of that concerns me. Whatever these pods may cost, death remains democratic. (For now, at least.) When it comes to dying itself, I have a lot of faith in the innovative power of people to find interesting and cheap ways to die, ranging from the utterly painless to the extravagantly painful. But I kinda wish that we’d stop throwing the word bespoke around. I mean, every 3D printed piece of crap these days gets called “bespoke.” I hate to be pedant about it but maybe these marketing motherfuckers could come up with their own word. A bespoke word.


I turned forty yesterday. Seems like some sort of milestone and the sort of thing a person should have some thoughts about. I don’t. I’ve never been much concerned with birthdays and I dislike birthday parties. Being sung to in public just seems like about the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. You just age until you die and that’s all that is. As for being born? Well, everyone on the planet has done that shit.

So, yeah, I’m more or less indifferent to the passage of time. It’s not some sort of philosophical perspective arrived at through thought or, if it was, I don’t remember arriving at it. It’s just my temperament. I don’t spend a lot of time looking backwards. I don’t mind things changing or ending. You can have a thing or be a thing or do a thing and then not do any of it and the thing is probably just fine, where it is, in the past. I sort of feel, on a gut level, that these things, nothing, ever really goes anywhere. That the past isn’t lost, just unseen from this vantage and there’s not a lot of sense worrying about it.

I’ve always been more inclined to look towards the future. For all the good that ever does. Life is fucking strange. If you’d told me at thirty, maybe even thirty five, that at forty I’d being living in LA, going back to college and going to the gym, while working at a grocery store, I never would have been able to see a path from where I was to here. None of those things were things I’d ever been interested in. So shit is odd.

But, insofar as it’s possible to plan or to give advice, I suppose mine would be to always plan to increase your options. Well, usually. Sometimes, you have to decrease them. Shit, I don’t know. It’s not like age brings wisdom. Other things do that.

I let the day pass quietly, handed in the third part of a paper on The Great Gatsby, which was due and did some Art History assignments, but I did do something a bit unusual – I went to a tailor. That used to be pretty usual. But this was the first time I’d been to a tailor in years. There was none in Sacramento and, well, have you been to Sacramento? Fucking place is about three thousand degrees in the sun. I don’t even think there’s tailors there. To be completely honest, I view that whole period as exile and exile does not make you feel much like buying a suit. It felt like prison. I had to serve my time with the goal of leaving. I don’t want to say that I hated it but, well, The Little Blue Man came for a visit and stayed too long. He tested my endurance. He didn’t break me but he sure beat my ass up and down the block. Put me through some changes, not all of them for the better. I was just not built for that place. And it sure as fuck was not built for me. But I survived it, came out the other side and things are different now. I’m off the mat. I feel better. The Little Blue Man is back in hiding, where he belongs. Fuck that dude.


I’ll probably talk about this more later but, for now, it felt really good to go to a tailor again. I walked home with a smile on my face. A little bounce in my step. I’m getting another suit – a birthday suit, and I’m pretty happy about it. It’s been too fucking long.