Monthly Archives: March 2016

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Jackson BROWNE; Posed portrait of Jackson Browne  (Photo by RB/Redferns)

What we’re listening to — These Days by Jackson Browne, Nico, Gregg Allman & Paul Westerberg

Once in a while I like to compare the same really good song done by two really good artists. In rare cases, you can get several versions that all work in different ways. Four is pretty unprecedented but In this case it’s warranted. Because the song in question is the reflective, melancholy Jackson Browne classic, “These Days.” Logically, most of us tend to think of the great singer-songwriter’s own version as THE version. It was released on his second album, 1973’s For Everyman, with a beautifully clean and relatively spare arrangement, highlighting Browne’s distinctively straightforward and non-self pitying vocals as they play against the very sad lyrics and the evocative guitar solos.


But Browne’s years as a teenage songwriting prodigy meant that this was not, in fact, the recorded debut of “These Days.” That honor would go to the enigmatic German artist, Nico, most famous for strangely yet appropriately taking lead vocals on 3 tracks for the Velvet Underground’s debut album (at Andy Warhol’s insistence). When Nico went solo for her 1967 album, Chelsea Girl, there was “These Days” with then-lover Jackson Browne on acoustic guitar, no less, and six years before he would get around to recording it for himself. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tannenbaums, you’ll know this version, where Nico’s trademark Teutonic non-emotive, not-really-singing seems to fit the bittersweet, offbeat comedy of that great movie.

 

More cover versions would not be confined to the past, though. Like few other songs in Rock, “These Days” was certified catnip for different artists’ interpretations. No sooner had Browne recorded his own version of the song, putting Nico’s in the rearview, than Gregg Allman almost simultaneously released a version for his 1973 solo debut album, Laid Back. In truth, Allman had helped Browne with his For Everyman arrangement so it seems only fair that the Southern Rock god would get to interpret it his way. Allman’s take was so good, with his trademark weeping guitar and the stoically resigned double-tracked vocals, that Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone called it “the definitive version” of the song, better even than the songwriter’s own. High praise indeed, even if Mr. Browne and his die-hard fans might disagree.

 

However, DeCurtis’s declaration predates another very fine version of “These Days” that I’m especially fond of. Paul Westerberg of Replacements fame covered it for his excellent 2003 solo album, Come Feel Me Tremble, speeding it up a bit from the song’s traditional dirge-like pace, adding a loping, almost dobro like guitar in place of the standard 1970s country-rock flatpicking and playing against a nicely chugging rhythm section for momentum.

 

I think the interesting thing about Westerberg’s version compared to the other three, aside from his trademark ugly-beautiful, slightly wobbly and cigarette-damaged vocals, is that Paul was much older than the other three when he came to record this classic song of regret and resignation. Amazingly, Browne claims to have written “These Days” at the age of 16 (!), so his intense evocation of adult setbacks and heartbreak is precocious in the extreme. By the time he got around to recording it, Browne was still only 25. Allman was likewise a young man of 26 and even the eternally gloomy Nico was only 29 or so. Obviously Rock years are not like regular human years and you could say that even in their mid or late 20s this was a trio of old souls. In fact, Allman had lost his brother Duane and another bandmate, Berry Oakley, the year prior to tackling “These Days,” Browne was already a Rock veteran by 1973 and god knows what Nico had been through in her young life between her time in New York with Warhol, Lou Reed and the Velvets. But when then 44-year-old Westerberg begs “Please don’t confront me with my failures/I have not forgotten them,” you can tell that by this point in his life and career he’s had his fair share.

Any way you slice it, “These Days” is an amazing song open to different interpretations that still retain the essential forlorn quality of the lyrics. And no matter which version you prefer, you’ve got to hand it to the author for writing one of the great rock ballads. In fact, it’s hard to believe it sometimes gets overlooked in the vast Jackson Browne canon. I suppose you could chalk this post up to making sure this gem stays on your radar in one form or another.

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tomvox1’s Vintage Watches for Sale — March selection, Pt. II

Proving that a mid-sized watch can still be tough and cool this uncommon vintage Ernest Borel Sub 200T Sharkhunter diver with stunning eccentric matte Tritium lume dial & original matching handset is now up for grabs on all the big forums.

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The story on this Sharkhunter, which is like a 37mm cross between a Submariner and Doxa’s larger, more famous model with the same name, is that at the time this watch was produced in the early 1970s the Synchron Aubrey* company owned Doxa & Borel and had no compunction about using virtually identical dials and model nomenclature across two ostensibly separate brands (*corrected thanks to info provided by @vintagediver on IG — thank you!).

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This well-made, rugged tool watch features the ever reliable ETA cal. 2872 movement with quickset date, shock protection and beautiful gilt finish. And putting the cherry on top of the sundae, this tough ETA movement has just been fully overhauled by my watchmaker for years more of faithful service.

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Ideal for the guy who favors an under-40mm watch, this Borel diver has the striking tool watch looks and the desirable vintage originality to make a greater impression than its relatively modest price tag would suggest. Get it while you can so you can be ready for any ocean adventure and then look super stylish for beachside cocktails afterwards.

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete description over at Timezone.com’s Sales Corner.  ON HOLD

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New feature — Men’s Cologne (Introduction)

Because looking good is only half the battle we’re starting a new feature here on MFL: Men’s Cologne. After all, when you’re suited & booted for work or play you want to smell just as fine as your outift, don’t you? Now, we don’t claim to be the world’s greatest experts on men’s scents or be the biggest noses (that’s perfume speak for “connoisseur”). But we know what smells good to us. We don’t really mess around with unisex scents or go in much for stuff that smells like a fudge browny. We’re also not afraid to go back in time to pick something classic from the 70s or the 80s or even older. Who says you can’t wear something your dad rocked back in the day? On rare occasions sometimes we may even go hunting an old vintage or discontinued frag. But we’re definitely not afraid to try something new or popular.

That said, we also don’t want to be identified as “Cologne Guy.” A man’s fragrance should certainly be noticed in a positive fashion, maybe even complimented, but it shouldn’t speak louder than he does or try too hard. When you’ve got the right cologne on it compliments but doesn’t drown out your other positive qualities. In other words, you don’t want people saying “Nice suit but what the hell was that smell?” In short, we want to smell manly and good, just as a guy should, and from here on out we’ll be sharing our favorite and not so favorite colognes with you and our honest opinions of them. If you’re then tempted to try one or two on our recommendation then have at it. Keep in mind that smell is a very personal sense and you may not always agree with what we choose to wear. But we think that more often than not you’ll like what we’re spritzing on, as well as our advice on how and where to use it. It’s a big wide world out there and smell is one of the most subliminal and effective ways to communicate your own personal cool — might as well try out some new fragrances to help you feel your best and put the finishing touches on your style.

Alain Delon of the past helps sell Dior's new Eau Sauvage Parfum today

Alain Delon of the past helps sell Dior’s new Eau Sauvage Parfum today

Before we get to the reviews, here are a few basics on terminology that will make the discussion easier.

Basic concentrations of cologne by strength:

  • Eau de Cologne (EDC) — Generally a lighter grade of scent, perhaps a little stronger than aftershave but doesn’t last long and generally is not that powerful smelling, though some may start out strong/loud. Most EDC’s are sort of eye openers to start the day before graduating to something more substantial.
  • Eau de Toillette (EDT) — The most common strength for most premium men’s fragrances — you & I may refer to it as “cologne” but chances are any given fragrance off the shelf with any lasting power is going to be an Eau de Toilette. Can be strong and long lasting depending on the scent but generally reasonably moderate in both departments.
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP) —  A stronger concentration than an EDT, an Eau de Parfum allows the perfumer to enhance the depth and lasting power of a fragrance generally speaking. While it should always smell similar to the EDP version, an EDP (often marketed as “intense” these days) can also take some liberties that essentially turn it into an entirely new scent (for example the differences between the classic Eau Sauvage by Dior and the modern EDP version). Generally powerful and long lasting and for guys who are comfortable wearing something with a lot of strength behind it. When in doubt, start with the Eau de Toilette then graduate to the Eau de Parfum.
  • Parfum — Also called simply Perfume or extrait de parfum/perfume extract, this is the least diluted strength of a fragrance and therefore the most powerful. This doesn’t really come up that often for men’s scents unless you are deep into intense fragrance and are a niche fan or serious scent head. Only for the very brave, ballsy and experienced.

Important Qualities for a Fragrance:

  • Longevity: Self-explanitory, this is how long a fragrance lasts. This can vary from person to person depending on skin type and other factors like the weather like temperature and relative humidity. This is not directly connected to the power of the fragrance per se, as even when your cologne is no longer making an impression on anyone more than a foot away, if you can still smell it on your skin (“skin scent”) then that still represents longevity. And more often than not, fragrances linger longer on clothing than on one’s skin.
  • Sillage: A French word (pronounced see-yazh) that refers to your personal vapor trail while wearing a fragrance. It essentially defines the way your cologne wafts in the air and can be detected by others. Generally speaking, if you are wearing something pleasant and that you like, sillage is desirable in that you are making a statement with your cologne so other people should be able to detect it in a subtle but perceptible manner.
  • Projection: Sometimes used interchangeably with sillage, projection is slightly different in that it refers to the sort of radius that your chosen scent throws off. Does your cologne enter the room before you do? That’s projection. If you gesture with your hands a few hours after applying your cologne and a pleasant waft of it is newly stirred up, that is more like sillage. Some people love colognes with a lot of projection and some prefer to keep it a bit closer to the body. Depends on what kind of guy you are, the social setting you’re in — maybe what you wear to a nightclub is not so appropriate for the office — and how much of a statement you want to make.

Continue reading

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What we’re listening to — I’m Bad Like Jesse James by John Lee Hooker

If you’re looking for the ultimate in badass proto-gangster Blues, look no further than John Lee Hooker’s “I’m Bad Like Jesse James.” It’s hard to know where the deadly braggadocio ends and the frightening truth begins on this stone cold chiller of a track.

Adapting the tried and true murder ballad format to his patented thumping one-chord, heavily amplified blues chime, Hooker’s deep-as-a-well vocals are extra menacing. There’s no question that he’s serious as a heart attack and there’s no real subtext here even if he’s telling you to read between the lines. The message is crystal clear: You talk smack about John Lee’s woman after he’s done you a solid, you end up in the river. He’s got some boys to make sure of it — as in, four going down, but only three coming back. And, no, crying won’t help ya none. Not when the late, great John Lee Hooker’s done made up his mind that you got to go. Hard not to believe the man when he says he’s “Bad Like Jesse James,” wouldn’t you say?

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Australia — Results & aftermath

Rosberg earns victory in first race of 2016, Hamilton fights back for P2 after poor start; Vettel settles for P3 after early lead

After Saturday’s wet firecracker of a Qualifying, where the new and now-aborted elimination rules left the track empty for long stretches and the majority of the teams unable to strut their stuff, Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix unleashed a corker. Perhaps perversely aided by the limited track time in quali hiding their true performance, Ferrari seemed to sandbag mighty Mercedes as the lights went out for the race start. Front runner Lewis Hamilton, who appeared destined for another victory procession after earning his remarkable 50th career pole, bogged down a bit at the start under the new single-clutch pedal rule and that was all the opening Sebastian Vettel needed. The Ferrari driver shot past not only Hamilton but also his P2 teammate Nico Rosberg, splitting them into turn one and grabbing the race lead out of the gate. Better yet for the Prancing Horse, Kimi Raikkonen also managed to sneak through as the two Mercedes diced to recover, making it a very encouraging Ferrari 1-2 to start the new year. Could the legendary team from Maranello be ready to present a real championship challenge to the heretofore untouchable Silver Arrows?

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Pictures via GrandPrix247.com

Before that answer could be known for certain, the race took a very hairy turn on Lap 18 when veterean McLaren driver Fernando Alonso misjudged his pass on young Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez, sending the Spanish former champion catapulting through the air over a gravel trap and into a catch fence. Despite the fact that Alonso’s McLaren wound up looking like a balled up piece of aluminum foil both drivers walked away unharmed. That scary shunt led to an extended Red Flag period, which neutralized Vettel’s advantage, as all the cars were able to change tries without costing them time. And while Ferrari chose to keep Vettel on the high-performing, quickly degrading super soft tires, the rest of the field opted for the long running medium compound. Ominously for Ferrari, shortly after the Red Flag restart the highly placed Raikonnen was forced to retire on Lap 22 with a fiery engine failure as he pulled into the pits. That continued the star-crossed Finn’s run of bad luck since rejoining the Scuderia.

Meanwhile, Hamilton found himself stuck in 6th behind the very competitive Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen. Between pit stops and his typically aggressive driving Hamilton was able to make up ground and work himself up to P4 by Lap 33. At the front Rosberg was catching up to Vettel. And when the Ferrari team had an uncharacteristically poor pit stop while changing Vettel’s tires, the Mercedes driver inherited a lead he would never relinquish. The Ferrari bobble also insured that Hamilton would be able to catch Vettel despite the former 4-time World Champ’s best efforts at holding the Englishman off, albeit with both finishing far behind Rosberg. And so just when it appeared that either Ferrari might take the whole enchilada or Hamilton would once again crush Rosberg’s fragile confidence with a dominant victory, it was Rosberg who flipped the script and left Hamilton chasing him in futile pursuit at the end of the Aussie Grand Prix. Hamilton’s unlikely poor start and Ferrari’s surprising woes gave Rosberg just the leg up he needed to try and wrest the crown from his archival and chief tormentor. We’ll have to see if his momentum, which now includes an impressive four consecutive race wins dating to last season, can give Rosberg the impetus he needs to break Hamilton’s stranglehold on the title and earn the German aspirant his first Championship. Time will tell.

2016-RosbergAustralianF1GP

In other notable results, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had an excellent run to finish P4 in front of his home fans in his newly “Tag Heuer”-powered chassis (really just a re-badged Renault with improved performance over last year’s woeful power plant). Continue reading

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2016 F1 Grand Prix of Australia — Qualifying results

The 2016 Formula 1 season is finally upon us! Qualifying for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix has already taken place down under and featured the preview of F1’s somewhat byzantine new elimination rules. By messing with something that clearly wasn’t broken, the series is taking a big risk that this new lap speed elimination format, where slower cars are eliminated during the qualifying session itself rather than when time expires at the end of the session, will force more teams to run harder earlier. But if what we saw today was any indication, it will more likely lead to the two fastest cars pounding around out there on for a huge chunk of Q3.* That being said, here’s how they qualified at Albert park in Melbourne.

Mercedes & Hamilton still dominant at dawn of new season; Rosberg continues chasing the champ at P2 & Ferrari’s Vettel a familiar P3; Verstappen poised to break out for Toro Rosso with impressive P5

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM TIME LAPS
1 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:23.837 14
2 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:24.197 13
3 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:24.675 14
4 7 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN  FERRARI 1:25.033 13
5 33 MAX VERSTAPPEN  TORO ROSSO 1:25.434 12
6 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:25.458 12
7 55 CARLOS SAINZ  TORO ROSSO 1:25.582 14
8 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:25.589 15
9 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:25.753 12
10 27 NICO HULKENBERG  FORCE INDIA 1:25.865 14

Complete Qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

*In fact after the unsatisfying Quali in Australia F1 announced they would revert to the 2015 rules for the next race in Bahrain. Lesson quickly learned…

Tomorrow’s race airs live on NBC Sports at 1AM Eastern with pre-race coverage starting at Midnight.

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tomvox1’s Vintage Watches for Sale — March selection

On offer this month is this absolutely stunning mid-1970s vintage Rolex reference 5512 Submariner. The true Steve McQueen watch — don’t let anyone tell you differently — the 5512 is the iconic Chronometer-rated no date Sub, which was produced in ever diminishing numbers as time went on and Rolex realized that not many customers cared enough about the fancy movement to pay the higher price when compared with the standard non-Chronometer cal. 1520 5513 model. It was, in fact, discontinued in the late 70s.

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But the discerning few were willing to pony up then and still are today. This is one of those magic Rolex Sports models that you come to appreciate as you learn the history of Rolex’s dive watches and how they all fit together in the big picture. Simply put, the 5512 is an elite Submariner and a cut above most matte 5513s or 1680s, all other things being equal.

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And this particular example is even a bit more special than most other matte 5512s. Along with its beautiful 4-line SCOC dial (technically referred to as “Non-Serif” style in the ever more complex glossary of dial definitions) it displays a plethora of all-original qualities: wonderfully patinated Tritium luminous; matching original hands; a sexy Fat Font bezel insert with Tritium pearl; domed acrylic crystal for that unbeatable vintage look; and it even comes with its original Folded Oyster bracelet with “PATENTED” diver’s extension. It’s not easy to find a 40-year-old watch in this sort of all around period correct condition — this baby is truly a survivor!

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To put the cherry on top of the sundae, this great 5512 has just been fully overhauled for years’ more faithful service to its new owner. If you’re looking for an elite Rolex tool watch with that extra special, extra collectible quality of 100% period correctness — not to mention that magical McQueen connection — look no further. Your Submariner has arrived.

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Check out the complete ad with many more pictures and complete description over at the Vintage Rolex Forum’s Market section  SOLD

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Gorgeous Lady of the Week — Rebecca Ferguson

In 2015’s surprisingly good installment of the action adventure evergreen, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, Rebecca Ferguson didn’t just hold her own with the franchise’s superstar, Tom Cruise. She proved to be his co-equal, which is no mean feat for any actress. The 32-year-old Anglo-Swedish import’s memorable portrayal of Ilsa Faust, a morally ambiguous rogue MI6 agent, is every bit the match for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.

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A striking beauty with remarkable martial arts, weapons and vehicle handling abilities, it is Faust’s mental brilliance that truly makes her such a confounding and alluring opponent for the Mission: Impossible team. And with a stunning choice of apparel for an opera assassination showing off her feline grace and wonderfully muscular physique, Ms. Ferguson certainly made a profoundly favorable impression on many a movie goer.

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Born in Stockholm to a Swedish father & British mother, Rebecca began modeling in her teens and had a breakout success in the Swedish soap, Nya tider, at the tender age of 17. This led to more TV and film work in Scandinavia until she came to broader attention with her titular role in the BBC’s The White Queen. While the historical drama failed to garner a huge audience, Rebecca’s portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville, scheming consort of King Edward IV during the War of the Roses, received high marks, including a Golden Globe award for best actress in a miniseries.

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In 2014 she had a good little role in the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vehicle, Hercules, and had another miniseries lead in Lifetime’s Biblical drama, The Red Tent, where she played Dinah, daughter of Jacob and brother to Joseph, alongside Minnie Driver & Deborah Winger.

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Then came her standout work in Rogue Nation and the good news that Ms. Ferguson’s formidable Ilsa Faust should be staying on for the sequel, M:I 6, when that ramps up. With a number of other projects in post-production, as well as her own Tango studio to help keep her in nimble and muscular good shape, the multi-national, multi-talented Ms. Ferguson is primed for even more and better work. And with a winning combination of natural beauty and physical grace, she’s also likely to keep on making the kinds of impressions that only a very few talented and appealing actresses seem able to manage on a regular basis. It should be interesting to watch where Rebecca Ferguson goes from here. Our guess is it’ll be pretty far.

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