Manhood

Tied with leather jackets, fistfights and riding motorcycles, wearing a wallet chain is clearly one of the great quintessentially manly things a guy can do. It’s the bad boy accoutrement the banker can pull off. And I’d bet pennies to pounds that if you’ve never worn a wallet chain, you’ve probably at least wanted to. But you’ve got be careful friends; In the wallet chain game there exists a very definite line in the sand that separates the mice from men, amateurs from professionals, Coke from RC. This sort of thing is smack in my wheelhouse, so I’m happy to help.

You can step out of life’s working class line and grab the first wallet & chain combination you see at the local swap meet or Hot Topic. You may even feel a bit “in love” with it, for a while anyway.  And well-done beginning the chase of your hearts desire, even if only as a novice. But what I’d like to suggest here is that anything worth doing is worth doing like a professional. Your Chrysler 300 is a lovely car, and may even look to you like a $200K Bentley… for a while anyway. Until a Bentley pulls up next to you. It’s at that point that the differences become glaringly obvious. And now you know why Chrysler went to such lengths to emulate the Bentley… it’s stellar, just glorious. It’s also clear why the price difference. And, not to take away from the 300, but it also becomes clear which is Big League Chew and which one is just a 4 pack of Chiclets at the Tijuana border.

At GOOD ART we specialize in Big League Chew. In fact it’s all we do. Everything leaving this studio is done right, professionally and to a standard rarely seen these days. Quality is everything here, and it’s as obvious as the difference between the Bentley and the Chrysler. So if in the course of following your heart and stepping out of the workaday week of humdrum do what they’ve done, you want to join the pros, we’ve got you covered. I’m sure you’ve done something good to deserve the best, we can help you acknowledge that. With more than a dozen styles of hand made chains and each of those in a good few sizes, lengths and options, a tailor-made wallet and chain are just an email or foundry visit away. When was the last time you had something made just for you? If never, then the time has come. And if you can remember the last thing we made for you then there’s a good chance you’re ready for more.

There are no half-measures at GOOD ART, something some see reflected in our prices when clearly its reflected in our quality.

 

Welcome to the jungle

Bucket list is one of those terms I wouldn’t have used in my 20′s. It always meant “on the way down, I want to squeeze in…”. A better scenario is that the stuff you’re already doing is what you’d put on your list. I try to live that way. Usually when I hear of someone doing something or going somewhere, I’ve got an opinion immediately about whether that would suit me. Bungee jumping, not for me. Parachuting from a working plane, suspending from hooks in my back, mountain biking down a ski slope, all cool I’m sure, just not my items. Places are the same for me, and for the sake of not insulting anyone I won’t bother mentioning the armpits I’ll be steering clear of.

A little while back we were invited to spend a week in a private river camp in Zambia, Africa. Far away, completely unknown and with a group of good friends all in honor of our host’s birthday (we have some pretty generous & clever friends who understand the real stuff of life). Safe to say Zambia was never on my radar as spot to visit, and now I can’t imagine the same quality of life without having gone.

It’s funny how going somewhere so completely unexpected (not on my list) became what I can truly call a highlight of this life. You know, bucket list type stuff. I’ll spare you the adjectives and just say I sincerely hope you get to experience a trip of this magnitude for yourself.

I’d be remiss to leave this out; I’ve been twice now to the Mwambashi River Lodge as a guest of great friends who enrich their own lives by enriching the lives of their friends. Truly beautiful people whom I consider family, love you WD & AJ. Our lives are markedly better for your friendship. Its also hard to adequately acknowledge the folks who run the camp. A special group of genuinely cool cats who live what they love. Thank you for the first-rate care you give, and for sharing with us an entirely intimate glimpse of another world. Really, the original world. Okay, just this one gratuitous adjective; magnificent.

 

Thanks for the love Boston

I found myself in the midst of an odd collision of worlds the other day. News of the attacks in Boston knocked us all off balance, love of friends and family, wondering if there was more to come; The whole mess really resonated badly, and that’s all I need to say about that. But just two days later Boston’s beloved Dropkick Murphys were to play in LA. I wasn’t sure if they’d play, but I hoped they would, and for more than just the obvious reasons. Those little shits did horrible damage, wreaking havoc. But they further tried to destroy our way of life. A way of life we arrogantly took for ourselves as a nation, guided by our founding fathers, who knew a thing or two about suppression of free will. This is the land of the free, home of the brave, where I can enjoy my pursuit of happiness and where I’ll fight to keep doing so. American’s have always been brave and that’s how we won our freedom. Sure we’ve poked a few ant hills. We’re a young nation, and there’s no need to get too into the rightness of “our” way of life, there’s room for improvement. But straight to hell with anyone pulling this sort of shit.

Why all this matters to me enough to share is that when the Dropkicks took the stage in LA I was still reeling inside. When they started to play I got better. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, and directly related to my love of Boston. It was also a feeling of relief, a bit like a big sigh of slipping back to some normalcy. Moments later Kenny grabbed the microphone to say “it’s a tough time to be from Boston” and the crowd erupted in solidarity. The hair on my neck stood up. In the music and the roaring of all of us, I got how the very actions designed to tear us down actually brought us all closer. And I think hearing the music playing so soon after a crushing blow was the perfect way to flip the bird right back at those that would put us down. We’re going to flourish and continue on despite attacks, that’s a great trait we have. We’re a resilient lot.

My sincerest thanks to Jimmy, Scruffy and the lads for lifting our spirits when we needed it most.

 

There’s no place better than the people you know

From our dear friends at Langlitz Leathers and Moto Corsa to the excellent gang at the Bull Run Distillery, and our hosts this latest trip, Tim Greve & staff at Rebel Jeweler, Portland, OR is a perfect example of the people making a place. Good weather and beautiful scenery are the stuff of travel guides, but for me the people always make the place. I’d take the dank corner of an Irish pub with good friends over the Grand Canyon on my own.

We went to Portland to show off some goods and eat & drink with friends. The hearty Pacific Northwest makes for great local flavor. People tend to move at a slower pace than in LA, and it especially shows in the way things are made to last, with care, and in the food (sadly also in the driving). A staple for me when in Portland is the pilgrimage to Langlitz for a chance to thumb though and marvel at the beautiful handmade jackets of 40, 50 & 60 years ago. Getting measured up and ordering a new one doesn’t suck either. Our new tradition is the burger tour thanks to Arun who kicked it off with Slow Bar’s namesake burger (I’d go back!). And now that Tim introduced us to the crew responsible for the beautifully crafted Temperance bourbon, I’m sure we’ll be saying hello to those folks on the regular too. Thanks for calling us up Tim, hope we get that call again soon.

Keep your money in your pocket

And the rest of your stuff you can keep in this card case. Designed to hold my friends business cards, when I saw him next he was using it as his daily wallet, keeping his cash in the other pocket. It’s made by hand from the same Wicket & Craig Veg-dyed American steer we use most everywhere. Each stitch sewn by hand, with 2 needles and thick waxed cotton thread. This stuff is tough, and as it breaks in, the character becomes the beauty you’ve earned. The leather is thick because we’ve laminated two pieces together giving you the smooth grain inside and out. It’s little details like this that’ll keep you happy. This case can be trained to hold considerably more than the few paper cards it was cut to keep; Credit cards, license and business cards in this compact package might make you think twice about another wallet. Held closed with a sterling silver snap, made here in the GOOD ART foundry.

Simple.

 

The Simple Things

Every now and then I come across something where it’s hard to adequately appreciate the object’s simple perfection (no need to remind me about how subjective that might be). The best of those times are occasionally when it’s something I’ve made, but really it can be anything; A perfect leather jacket or a 100 year old wooden table usually fit the bill for me. I relish those moments when the thing is just perfect, and looking at it or holding it is wholly satisfying.

So many things leave my busy mind wondering what could be done to improve them, smooth an edge, sharpen a corner, a little tweak that might go a long way. But I’m on about the other side of that coin right now, the sigh of pleasure and slightly up-turned corners of your mouth when something is exactly right. For me it’s great when you not only rely upon the simple correctness of an object but you continually appreciate it as it stays with you. That’s the high-water mark for everything that leaves my foundry. Not that it’s always hit, but after all these years it still catches me by surprise how much pleasure the simple things bring me. I’ll paraphrase a man much smarter than I who said anything worth doing is worth doing like a professional.

It’s good to have friends in cold places

We got a special delivery from the East Coast today. A nondescript dark van pulled into the foundry, a uniformed Fed-X driver got out and said “I got sum-en big here”. There in the back of the van were the two most beautifully packed foam ice chests with frost around their seals. They were filled to the top with King Crab legs, a bag with 10 pounds of fresh King Crab meat already pulled from the shells and steamed. A dozen pounds of fresh lump Lobster and about 200 of the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen!

So it looks like we’ve done right by the sort of guy who likes to do things the way we do. I’ve always thought you do it right or not at all, whatever you’re doing.  And wherever you can, help out and create a good effect. Living like this we make a lot of great friends along the way, and at the end of the day I think that’s the whole point. We’re pretty lucky over here. George, we can’t thank you enough, this is very cool! Come Monday we’re gonna be feeding a lot of friends and toasting you!

Ages 80 and Younger

Our Armed Forces are comprised of some very specific and specifically proud groups. And they’ve got a lot to be proud of, membership in any branch puts you in an elite category. The rigors of qualification and acceptance are stiff and the standards high. I’m acknowledging this because it’s an easy error for those not in the know to mistake a USN Petty Officer First Class for a Sargent from the three stripes they share. And while no offense might be intended, I do believe service in our Armed Forces deserves a fair amount of respect. Just as no Ranger wants to be called a Marine, I’m going to tread lightly here and make this clear, I’m about to use the name Army Men very loosely and a bit of latitude would be appreciated. And remember, I’m a lover not a fighter, the artsy sort.

It’s with all the whimsey I can muster that I’d like to introduce these little Army Men. The green plastic variety that is. True to the original Vietnam era Louis Marx & Co. toys I grew up with, these almost faithful replicas are cast in solid sterling silver and finished by hand until they’ve earned their stripes so to speak. Don’t consider the price, the heft of the sterling silver or that I’ve lopped off their heads and replaced them with skulls, forget all that and I’d bet you couldn’t tell them apart from the originals. They’re that good. Toys, yes they are. Ages 80 and younger may now resume play.

Music Heals

I’ve been remiss, and I apologize; Adventuring and feasting without so much as a quick blog post to share the sweet deets and spread the love. I’ll chalk it up to a mental block, yesterday healed by the power of music. I had the pleasure of seeing my good friend dust off his dancing shoes and hit the road again after a good long break. House of Pain shook the House of Blues the other night and the fun is fresh as ever. I’m at exactly the age where after 20 years, bands like this bring me a rush of memories from the old neighborhood (Tarzana) and make me wax nostalgic about an exciting time… without the drugs this go around. The perspective over time is amazing, and the music that moved me then, still does today. See them in your city when they come through. Really great show and a great time. Godspeed on tour kids.

King Fantastic

You may have read about one of my favorite musical duos ever, hopefully you’ve given them a listen and feel the same. Killer Reece and Troublemaker tore up the Foundation Room at the House of Blues last night in HLYWD. The show was short and sweet, I could’ve done with a couple more songs but I was glad to get what tasty treats were offered. These guys are the real deal, and live they put up a raw display of the album’s clever lyrics and driving rhythmic beats. Paying respect my beloved city Los Angeles, the room was ablaze last night. I love these guys both and I’m telling you this right now, get their music and bump it in your car on 11. The beats and lyrics are so infectious you’ll take the long way home.