Style

Beard

John wears a full beard that he keeps well-trimmed. (RL238)

Eyebrows

His eyebrows are very blond and he does not have a lot of eyebrow-depth. This is why he wears glasses to give the face some shape. (RL238)

Glasses

John wears glasses to give his face some shape. (RL238)

Tank tops and flip flops

John is not a fan of public tank tops. While he is totally into beach and frisbee tank tops, downtown tank tops like downtown flip flops (or actually flip flops anywhere that is not a sandy environment) is appalling to him. If you want to carry a pizza and a boom box and wear tank tops? That's the beginning of the end! He is not a crazy person, but the other people are bad. (RW63)

Filson Jackets

Main article: Filson Jackets

Pendleton jackets (RW53)

Pendleton is a venerable Northwest company from Portland, Oregon and they make their own beautiful wool fabrics. Recently they outsourced some of the manufacturing to Mexico and because John won't buy a thing unless it is made in America, he now has to be very particular, because the old stuff is better than the new stuff. If you can get a lightly used old jacket much cheaper than a new one, why on earth would you want a new one? John likes to stand out in the rain in wet wool rather than looking like somebody who bike-commutes to work in some kind of new fabrics where the sleeves are glued on. Wool does as good a job as anything, but John doesn't want to get into that now. All that new stuff is made as if everybody would summit K2 all the time.

John understands that you prefer specialty garments that serve a different purpose if you legitimately bike-commute to work in the Northwest. You are doing a very specialist thing and the fact that you look like Pagliacci or the fact that you look like a pile of highlighters doesn't bother you. Riding your bike to work is a noble pursuit and it is a great exercise. John thinks that their life experience must be very different from his, because every morning they have that exhilaration when they leave their house dressed like a Harlequin, get on their little bike that they think about all the time get down into the trenches of the Death Star, zipping in and out of cars, the rain and the mist. They feel this invigoration and when they come down to where they work they need a plan to take off all this ridiculous wear, they have to be storing their actual clothes somewhere and they have to have a capacity to take a shower on the other end. Or maybe you are the Aimee Mann of driving your bike to work and you never perspire? To wear those clothes around because it looks amazing, standing in your child's elementary school? Oh boy! You got that Patagonia catalogue in the mail and what you want is a Gore-tex jacket that has a forest motive, except it looks like a Descente ski unitard from 1987. You will find some interesting colors such as Mauve or Mustard.

Both John's house and his office are full of wool jackets that John has staged in different piles. If you include army jackets, John has about 25-30 that he could sell. For a long time, you could get them for $5 in thrift stores. He does unfortunately not live in a giant warehouse loft where he could have the history of army jackets displayed on the walls, so he needs to get them out of his life. Dan thinks the value is going to skyrocket if John would use his real name, because he is a celebrity and the reigning king of flannel. In the vintage car market, a Steve McQueen car would go for tons more, you had to put an extra zero on it! Everything John owns is large or extra large, but all of his fans are young women, meaning a smaller group of his fans are going to be interested in an extra large Filson jacket or Pendleton range coat.

Having to fix 22 pairs of Levi's (RL255)

John's big recurring problem are his 22 pairs of Levi's. He had them zipped in a big bag that he had forgotten in the back of a closet, but now he pulled them out again and went through them again. They are still 22 pairs of Levis, about 12 of them are Made in USA, proper mid-90:s Levi's, but John has blown out the crotch of every single one of them while the rest of the pants are fine. The crotch is unfortunately the hardest part of the jeans to repair, unlike a simple hole in the knee. John even learned to use a sewing machine just to be able to repair his jeans. Then you think about taking it down to the seamstress person, but she will charge you $15 per jeans times 22 and in the end you still only have a beat-up pile of Levi's. On the other hand, John feels that the pants do have value to him, leaving him confused. The pure amount, the American-ness, and of course the hige! Merlin's life hack is to lay them all out on the floor and after 5 minutes, one of the pairs will speak to John and that will be the crotch to mend. It doesn't make sense from an intellectual standpoint, but it does makes sense emotionally and rationally. On the other hand, fixing only one pair of pants is the opposite of "Make all the bacon": "Fix all the Levi's!" should be the thing, but John has been feeling that those 22 pairs are like a vest full of Geld (money) and somebody threw him over the side of the boat. It is parabolic, because now he thinks that his vest of geld is worth more than his own life.

Branded Clothes (RW66)

There are people who do wear their own T-shirts to promote themselves, and there are those who won't. There are a few people who can wear their own band shirt, but this group is very small: Iggy Pop can wear a shirt with his face on it, the Ramones can wear their T-shirt or Malcolm Young could wear an AC/DC shirt. That would be acceptable. Ozzy would do that in the 70:s, but he has also "OZZY" tattooed on his own knuckles, which is some real Jake & Elwood shit. But wearing your own shirt as a member of an indy rock band? John once spilled some food on himself while he toured through Germany and he got one of their own shirts from their merch stash, and he found it hilarious walking around in it all day, but it would be a horrible thing to go on stage with it. You cannot rep your own thing without looking crass.

The swag bags at tech conferences are full of t-shirts by companies, as if John would go out of the house wearing a shirt that advertised some widget, but at the event itself, everybody is wearing such a shirt. There is a cultural gulf here, orbiting around the idea of having a free shirt. Dan has a woman at the gym who always wears the same VMWare shirt. Maybe she works at VMWare? Or maybe she decided to wear it because she is in that stage where she hasn't committed on a deep personal level at which she will have a lot of specialized technical gear? Dan had a Squarespace T-shirt the the gym once, and one time he wore a 5by5 T-shirt, but that was right after he had moved to Austin and he only had a few shirts, waiting for the movers to bring all his stuff. It felt weird! Dan has a Roderick on the Line T-shirt, which he wears often, but that is different from his own shows.

There was a time in the 80:s where people talked about branding a lot. There was branding on everything. Izod-shirts with that little alligator were a bit before John's time. It was what the older boys were wearing. The Brooks Brothers have Golden Fleece as their label, but it wasn't an emblem on the shirt. When John came into High School Ralph Lauren's polo pony mattered a lot to the kids. There is the Descente logo from the Japanese ski clothes manufacturer that now also got into cycling. The NIKE-swoosh went across the land. John met a girl who had a Nike-swoosh tattooed on her left shoulder blade, which is like having a barcode on the forehead: it is all coming true! She was not a neo-futurist doing it as a political statement, she was just like "I love Nike!". Nowadays nobody gives a shit anymore about things like that because everything is branded.

John talks about the Filson company a lot, because it was a thing he cared about. He is looking at labels in the thrift stores and it matters to him who made it, because he is bringing a complicated set of ideas to it, albeit a lot of them just being fake ideas that he has stirred up. Companies, eras, craftsmanship will decide if John cares about an item or not. John has about 150 shirts and can tell you the story and what it means about every one of them, but he doesn't wear anything with a logo with the exception of the Polo Pony, John has a lot of those. He wouldn't wear a thing that had a sign on it, though, which is a deliberate choice, because the era and style he wants to project is one from before branding. The things he chooses were actually manufactured before anyone would consider putting a brand on a thing. Alternatively they are manufactured now and are replicating that style. Tennis shoes are the one thing where you cannot escape branding, because the whole shoe is built around the logo. John doesn't have a lot of tennis shoes. There was a time in thrift stores when you would find a Ralph Lauren shirt a rarity, but now there are like 800 of them, so they don't symbolize anything anymore.

Two camps of rain clothes (RL177)

Merlin and his lady were both actively looking for new rain gear. He had found a Marmot jacket to replace his old Marmot jacket, but the front outside pocket into which one could put an iPhone is now missing. His lady was looking for something warm.

Filson would be a commitment and a whole lifestyle: a commitment to being wet. Filson is the old style of dealing with the rain: Wax, cotton and wool, like a sheep dog. "I'm gonna be smelly in the rain, but I'm not going to die in the rain because I have this somewhat impenetrable material on". If a lineman in Seattle is up on a phone pole changing a transformer, there is a very good chance he is wearing Filson, because he does not only want to be protected against the elements, but he is also doing hard work up a phone pole in the winter and needs his clothes to be like a suit of armor. While Filson is waxing a sheep and putting it on, Helly Hansen on the other hand is technical wear, utilizing all the modern fabric that is light and wicking.

If you have Helly Hansen, you step out of your rain gear and you are just try. It is much more like "I'm going to live in the rain". Merlin's wife has a Helly Hansen jacket in yachting style and it actually has a little porthole where you can put a robe through. Before they go up to their new season, all of the Alaskan fishermen get a new season's worth of Helly Hansen stuff, because it is like an impervious suit. If Alaska fishermen choose it, then you can be guaranteed that there isn't a better thing. But Helly Hansen is not something you want to mountain bike or ski in. On a fisher boat in Alaska, you are pulling monsters out of an iron grey sea which is only not frozen because it is the ocean and you are killing them with hooks. Therefore it is a different kind of gear than if you would be snowboarding, where you just want to stay warm and dry.

Merlin had been a fan of the Carhartt product line in the past, like for example the logger pants with the extra knee in them. Filson is the same thing except it is additionally dipped in hot wax and allowed to cool. Merlin was looking at a Columbia jacket on CoolTools which is very warm and repelling water, but you look like you work at Uber. That's the modern trade-off. In the olden days, Eddie Bauer was the company that made stuff that was burly enough, but you could also wear it in town without looking like a dork. Unfortunately the company went the wrong way and sold their soul to the man.

The other day at Halloween of 2015, John was driving through town and a couple of people in their early 60:s wanted to cross the street (in the Northwest the cultural norm obligates you to stop and let somebody cross the street if they are standing at the edge of the sidewalk and look at you), both wearing outdoor research hats (like an Australian bush hat made of Gore-Tex, a little bit like a dad hat), some purple Fleece Gore-Tex-like cargo pants by "Kühl" and some Salomon adventure shoes. John was wondering if that was a Halloween costume, because they were so Northwest, it is ludicrous. The only thing they needed were ski poles that they were using to go on a brisk walk. These people were ready to go on Mount Baker right now, except they were not anywhere near Mount Baker.

The moment that fleece became flannel and the history of butt-lifting pants (RL177) (RL244)

The moment that fleece became flannel was a sea change in all of our lives. There was flannel and moleskin in all of our lives, and then there was fleece. And once there was fleece, a large segment of the population just never thought about clothes again. Something similar happened with Ugg boots and butt-lifting yoga pants. Suddenly all young women wanted to look like they just woke up. John is pro yoga pants, because you never know if you might want to do some yoga when you go to Hot Sam's, or an Orange Julius. John wonders if yoga pants would accomplish the same butt-lifting effect on him, but suspects that it would instead be bad. (RL177)

Somewhere along the lines the technology of pants has changed to butt-lifting pants with a brezeer like quality. When John was in his teens, there were not that many pants that made your butt look good. You needed to have a certain kind of butt. There was formal slack, there were khakis (thats where you have the flap that goes over the back with the vents), or your Docker-style khakis, maybe with the pleated front. But around 1984 before Dockers existed there was not much you could do to make your butt look good. You could wear Levi's, but not everybody has a Levis butt, Jonathan Richman has a whole song about this! A Levi's style pants is a little more hangy, and John is talking about the twilight of the Jordache, Gloria Vanderbilt and Britannia jeans, some high-waisted jeans with a dark rinse and very butt-centric. If your butt looked like a pear, then you could wear Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and you looked fantastic, but if you had any kind of lumpy or square butt or whatever, you don't want to have your butt look like it was in a bag. (RL177)

One day in the late 90:s, the 7 for all Mankind jeans arrived which had some crazy technology, but still all denim. They looked great on everybody and gave you a special lift and gravitas. (RL177) Those low-waisted jeans focused your attention strictly on making you bottom look good without engaging your lower back. They made your butt high and tight without interacting with the rest of your body. Today the fashion of the millennials is, as part of Normcore, back to high-waisted jeans and they include both your waist and your bottom. There is a lot more going on. Millennials give less of a damn about fashion, instead you rep whatever you want to rep! (RL244)

When yoga pants came out, they employed the same technology in stretchy sweatpants material (they for sure do wicking, they wick the shit out of you), and they look amazing on everybody. All through John's teen years and twenties, we didn't have that technology and now we do and the world has been improved. Today John can walk out of his house and wear skinny jeans that are basically leggings (let's call a spade a spade) - just like cut the stirrups off a pair of stirrup pants - and he presumes he looks cool and everybody agrees. That would not have been possible before, it is a kind of technology that John heartily embraces. (RL177)

Clothing style (RL245)

Merlin only has a bunch of white Gold Toe socks. He is a sock-utilitarian, just like John's mom. John likes socks, also because they are an easy thing to buy as a memento, for example when he is in London and doesn't want a little set of double-decker salt shakers. For every sock that comes out of John's drawer, he can remember where it came from. He does not approve of anklet socks and has very strong feelings against them. If you want the no-sock look, then wear no socks! John has a large enough collection of summer shoes and if one of them goes into the lake, they can sit on the porch and progress isn't going to be impeded. Anklet socks are like cheating, they are like foot diapers. John won't wear collared socks with short pants, but he will wear white athletic socks. John was at the Chateau Marmont when Jesse Thorn crashed their party and gave John some hell about it, because he was wearing white athletic socks to a suit. Jesse had some kind of suit stockings and John asked him if he could climb a fence in that outfit. John only wears white T-shirts under a dress shirt if he expects perspiration to be an issue. Merlin deploys a T-shirt under everything - Always! - while John will put a dress shirt right on his natural self. No socks, no undershirt.

The reason John started buying socks as souvenirs is because during his Rock 'n' Roll era, John went through many years of T-shirts as souvenirs. 1000 T-Shirts from the band "Fiver" and Creeper Lagoon and The Tennessee Valley Authority Bluegrass band. John still wears the Fiver T-shirt all the time. Merlin had a dumptruck shirt from the "Big Time Bad Time" tour, but it had hard, orange pit stains that were a little permanently moist like a wax. He really misses his Archers of Loaf shirts. He did a huge purge before his daughter was born. They had put a lot of their bags to store in a contractor bag and they accidentally threw it away. Maybe 15 Vintage Timbuk2 bags from the 1990:s. Ben Gibbard gave all his old band T-shirts to his mom who made a rock band quilt. She took the logos out, backs it with some other fabric to make it stable and thick, and makes a piano cover or an amp cover out of it.

In the late 1980:s, John once got a T-shirt from a girl with a cup of coffee and the text "Regular" above it. At that time it was pretty alternative, because it communicated that John was not somebody's spring chicken. It was not his first day! Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the ladies got thin, soft, very appealing hoodies while the boys had all those chunky hoodies. When John started thrifting in San Francisco he got some extra large sized, thin soft hoodies that were almost like T-shirts with a hood. All of his lady friends would ask about them, because they couldn't find hoodies like that anymore for ladies. Now all the guys had all the soft hoodies, and John had become the envy of many of his lady friends. He had like an OP shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt with a hood. John can't go there, because that is too Dr. Zog's sex wax. A long sleeve T-shirt is a really tricky game. John has several of them and there are only a few that work: Portland Japanese Garden, Nada Surf, US Arctic Research Commission and Homer, Alaska. There are just a few of them that pass, because the danger is that a long sleeve is two inches away from a mock turtle. You look like The Rock.

The first time John though he had solved the clothing problem was in 1987, when his friend Bob Wood came back to the dorms and said that Eddie Bauer in downtown Spokane had a big sale. He held up one of the long sleeve T-Shirts they had for less than $9, made out of miracle fabric that was still 100% cotton. This shirt was very beefy and John wanted beefy things. They went on their mountain bikes and went down to Eddie Bauer. That was at a time when Eddie Bauer still had canoes in the stores. They had an entire wall with two racks top and bottom with mock turlte necks and crew necks in every conceivable 1980s-color. For a $50 investment, you would never have to think about clothes again! John got 8 shirts, 3 mock turtles and 5 crew necks. During the barn jacket era in the early 1990:s, there was a slight vogue for a mock turtleneck shirt on a fellow. In 1991 when they went out of fashion, John had his mom take the turtle part off. John still has 3 of those 8 shirts and they are shredded!

Being ready for every possible dress code (RL254)

John is good to go for almost any type of event: Whatever the invitation says about the wardrobe, not only can he meet their expectations, but he can show up in his own vernacular of that thing, even if it says cocktail formal or semi formal or formal. The only dress code he can not accomplish is White Tie, but no one does an event anymore that says Formal and actually means formal. You won't even see White Tie unless it is a royal wedding. Dress-codes today are trying to provide comfort of some kind, which is antithetical to the idea of having a dress code. In the past, the dress-code was not negotiable and you will come correct. That idea is more or less gone, unless you are going to the White House. Even at a wedding when you want everybody to be really formal, you will see a bunch of guys in blue suits.

If the event says "Gala", the highest standard people will go are blue suit or an ill-fitting rented tuxedo. In most cases, Formal involves actual formal at night, which is white tie and white waistcoat, but John hasn't seen that in a long time. In olden times, white tie like a Jiminy Cricket outfit was for dinner and black tie was like a morning coat. You did not show up in a black tie and tuxedo at a gala at night, but now that is the peak! You also didn't wear a white dinner jacket unless you were in the tropics, but now people like the look of them and you see them everywhere. You didn't wear a white dinner jacket in the winter, but now people do. It becomes more like a costume and people are having fun with it. Paul F. Tompkins always wears white tie as a costume. People no longer know or care that the dress code actually signifies some kind of archaic social order. The more formal you want to get, the more plain it gets and paying attention to all those details show if you are in the know. Today we see it as part of our patrimony.

Adding your own touch to your composed uniform (RL254)

John is interested in how people dress, not only because it is cultural heritage, but also because he loves codes, social codes, and interpreting codes, like Dow Constantine wearing his Seafair-pins and Converse to the parade. It is ultimately expressing a knowledge of people and stories, which is what all this stuff is about. John admires it when he sees it and he feels like that single piece of scotch tape he saw on the sheriff's gun was a thing the sheriff initially put on there because a screw fell out of it, but then he liked what it symbolized: He is a man of the people, he has a piece of tape on his gun and nobody has said anything about it. Judging from the look of it, he has been wearing that piece of tape on his gun forever. He has been wearing it like a pin on his lapel and finally John was the first person who said something about it! He was thrilled and his deputy was thrilled! All these little flag pins we have are saying "this is me". A sheriff cannot simply bling out his outfit, because it is completely composed and even if he would stick a flower on his lapel he would be out of uniform, but he can put a little tape on the handle of his gun. Shouldn't a police officer make sure his gun doesn't have tape on it?

Wearing a personality hat (RW75)

Dan saw an older gentleman in his late 60:s at the gas station who had a modified short brim Fedora, not quite a Trilby, but made out of cloth or canvas instead of a more dressier style like wool. Dan assumes that this man probably wore a Fedora in most of his young and adult life. Fashionable men under 40 stopped wearing hats of that sort in the 1960:s during the JFK time period. At the time there were lots of old dudes in their 60:s who continued to wear their hats because they always had and of course there are still guys wearing hats even in photographs of a Downtown scene in 1970. By now, if you are 68 and have been born in 1948, you were 10 years old when people stopped wearing hats. John's sense of a 68-year old wearing a canvas modified fedora is that he just recently started doing it as a way of appearing young and fun, because young people are wearing canvas Trilbys now.

John is sorely tempted to start wearing a personality hat, for example a big 30 gallon cream-colored beaver-felt Stetson in size 9. Would he be starting wearing the personality hat at the age of 25, it would be his personality hat. He would be the guy in the giant hat at the Grammy Awards and it would make him look like a cartoon ant. Starting to wear a personality hat at 48,5 just feels like a reaction to precisely this moment that John is trying to navigate with grace and it feels like a crutch, like letting this hat do the work of the transition and letting this hat do the talking for him! "I'm still young, but I'm also aware of the work of Tom Waits enough to understand that this big hat puts me in a category of someone who has lived a little bit and this conversation piece hat is how you will know me". John doesn't want to go that gently into that particular "good night".

Right now John is growing his hair out as he has done many times before. He is a bit like a girl: Whenever he has long hair, he wants to cut it and whenever he has short hair, he wants to grow it out. If he were a surfer dude, he could be granddaddy surfer guy with long hair, but then he would also need to have a tan and a short sleeve button-up Hawaiian shirt. Just being an older guy with long hair is the Iggy Pop version, like a Husky middle aged guy with a grey beard and long hair. It is almost like he needs the personality hat to complete the picture!

The hair of Prince William and Donald Trump (RL260)

Prince William is very handsome, but has surprisingly lost his hair as his hair-line has receded all the way when he still was so young and so beautiful. He didn’t go as far as to do a Donald Trump, who thought that he would be standing in front of airplanes a lot during the next several years and he was just going to be president baseball hat or president pastry hair. Merlin has a collection of unflattering images of the president, which is one of his many small therapies. It is believed, but not proven that he has some kind of anxiety about stairs, but for years he had been tweeting that president Obama should use the handrail when he gets off Air Force One. We know he doesn’t like wind and getting on and off of planes must be a stressful thing for him. Lately he has been doing more and more screaming-over-the-helicopter-blade-sound mini press conferences, so he must have found something that is working for him.

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