Category Archives: NYC

Horological Mythology: The Osmosis of Cool

In the world of watch collecting, one gets used to heady price tags and watching the those prices rise over the years. It’s logical, despite occasional anomalies like market corrections and bubbles, that desirable things go up in value over time. It equally adds up that in a time when wealth is more concentrated than it has been in decades, those who can afford to pay a lot for something can usually afford to pay a WHOLE LOT for something, and so dealers adjust their prices accordingly, and the rest of us have to pay up to keep up. C’est la vie.

But what in the world accounts for something like the $17.75 million we saw shelled out for Paul Newman’s own Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona at auction last week? The most paid for any watch ever. Theories abound, of course. The fact that a normal Rolex “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 Daytona is a somewhat rare and desirable watch in it’s own right is a good starting point. Add to that the sweet story about his wife gifting it to him, and Mr. Newman’s owning and wearing this particular watch throughout an exciting portion of his life (regularly racing cars and frequently seen in public generally being cooler and better looking than the rest of us), thus leading collectors in the 80’s to name the reference the “Paul Newman” in his honour, and we have a pretty solid explanation as to why this watch would be worth more than the “normal” Paul Newman. But a normal “Paul Newman” Daytona goes for about $200,000, so is the one that started it all really worth that much more, solely as an originator of a sect of the watch collecting world? I say no.

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Classic Movie Watch — The Seven-Ups (1973)

If there is a Big 3 of classic car chase movies, it would have to be Bullitt, The French Connection and The Seven-Ups. In 1968, Bullitt ignited the car chase craze that would come to dominate 1970s cop movies and especially TV series. In 1971, The French Connection turned it into art with its ur-cinematic thrill ride beneath and between the elevated trains of New York City. And the vastly underrated The Seven-Ups, made in 1973, essentially elevated the car chase to the level of deus ex machina perfection. One could argue that from that point onwards that pinnacle has been repeatedly attempted but only succeeded in becoming ever more over the top, digitally enhanced and clichéd (although the fantastic against-traffic-in-the-Paris-tunnels sequence in John Frankenheimer’s Ronin does come pretty close to that level of old-fashioned awesome again).

The connection between these three all-time crime classics is their producer, Philip D’Antoni, the somewhat unknown force behind what came to be an action movie staple. For The Seven-Ups D’Antoni also took the director’s helm for the first time and used what he learned on his previous two smash hits to engineer the biggest, baddest car chase of them all. Check it out and see if you don’t agree.

But The Seven-Ups is more than that white-knuckler through Manhattan and across the Hudson to Jersey (and also, if you’re watching closely and out of continuity, up the Taconic into Westchester). It’s also a gritty police procedural with an outstanding cast led by the late, great Roy Scheider as lead cop Buddy Manucci, working again for D’Antoni after his excellent turn as Popeye Doyle’s partner in Connection. As time goes by, one sees how fantastic an actor Scheider was: funny, wry, intense, the bantamweight champion of no nonsense naturalistic tough guy performances. Is it any wonder that he’s in so many key 1970s films? While the fellow cops on his special semi-autonomous squad, tasked to pursue felony crimes with sentences of seven years and up, are not quite as memorable, they form a decent ensemble. In the end, it’s really the shadier characters who counterbalance Scheider’s intense, driven cop.


Tony Lo Bianco also returns to the D’Antoni fold from his breakout performance in French Connection, this time playing Buddy’s boyhood friend Vito Lucia, a funeral home director who provides Manucci with inside dope on the mob. Continue reading

Notable passings — Tony Palladino

In memoriam of a family friend of tomvox’s we post this New York Times obit of self-taught graphic arts legend, one of the true “Mad Men” in 1960s and 70s advertising and a stalwart at the School of Visual Arts for over 50 years, Tony Palladino.

Tony Palladino, Designer of ‘Psycho’ Lettering, Dies at 84

Tony Palladino, an innovative graphic designer and illustrator who created one of the most recognizable typographic titles in publishing and film history, the off-kilter, violently slashed block-letter rendering of “Psycho,” died on May 14 in Manhattan. He was 84.

Mr. Palladino’s conception for “Psycho” originally appeared on the book jacket for Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel of that title, published by Simon & Schuster. For his 1960 film adaptation, Alfred Hitchcock purchased the rights to the lettering for its promotion, which influenced the opening credit sequence created by Saul Bass.

Mr. Palladino said the design — stark white letters torn and seemingly pasted together against a black background to resemble a ransom note — was intended to illustrate typographically the homicidal madness of the novel’s protagonist, Norman Bates.

“How do you do a better image of ‘Psycho’ than the word itself?” he said.

Read the complete NY Times obituary for this highly accomplished man here.

Guitars We Love – The 1962-1975 Fender Jaguar

jag 66 sunburst

Nearly immaculate 66 Jaguar in Sunburst finish (Image courtesy…

There might not be another guitar in the world that has had such a scrappy rise to fame and fortune as the Fender Jaguar. From a debut full of big hopes, to a slow decline into the cheap seats, to a meteoric resurgence that ended in a  permanent place in guitar history, the Jag has had quite a ride so far. Equally loved and hated by guitar players and collectors, the Jaguar is a one of a kind guitar, and my personal all-time favourite.

Amazing condition 1965 Jaguar in very rare Charcoal Frost finish (Image from Jay Rosen)…


A Quick HIstory-

Introduced by Fender in 1962, the Jaguar came loaded with all sorts of bells and whistles, and was meant to be Fender’s new top-of-the-line model (priced accordingly higher than a Stratocaster!) For better or worse, this plan didn’t succeed. Most customers felt the Jag was a bit too flashy or weird looking, and the Stratocaster remained the king of the Fender line-up. Fender then began marketing the Jaguar largely as a  “Surf Guitar”, as Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys were known for playing them at the time. They also tried to lure customers in by offering custom nitrocellulose lacquer finishes for a 5% add-on to the sticker price. But alas, even the cool finishes couldn’t do much to boost the popularity of the Jaguar. By the late 60’s the Jaguar had been relegated to the backseat of Fender’s line-up, and production of the original guitar finally ceased entirely in 1975.

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What We’re Wearing – Doyle Mueser / Against Nature


Above Image Courtesy: Against Nature Copyright 2013

The second profile in a series on my triumvirate of top notch New York City tailors to bring to your attention is Doyle Mueser, a small but very stylish label founded and run by Amber Doyle and Jake Mueser. Ms. Doyle and Mr. Mueser bring a very young and cool sensibility into their tailoring, woven into a foundation based on the traditional English tailoring of Savile Row. They maintain two shops in NYC. Doyle Mueser, located in the West Village, and Against Nature on the Lower East Side. I visited them at the Against Nature store recently, where I snapped a few pictures of their shop.

Doyle Mueser 3

Ms. Doyle & Mr. Mueser in their workshop

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And the prize for longest article about a person you will stop giving a shit about after the seventh paragraph goes to…

This incredibly long paean by Liz Robbins in today’s New York Times about aging former Meatpacking District restaurateur & scenester Florent Morellet.  A mercifully short excerpt from this slavering epic:

In his raspy, French-accented voice, Mr. Morellet extols the potential development of Newtown Creek’s waterfront (post-pollutants), analyzes North Brooklyn’s messed-up grid and pushes for more skyscrapers to accommodate the city’s growth. He moved to what he considered the most viable edge of Bushwick, but he sees the boundaries soon pushing farther east on the M and L lines. He considers the two dirtiest words in the English language to be “nostalgia” and “gentrification.” He especially hates “the g-word,” as he calls it — but only because neighborhoods fight it.

That’s what’s happening now in Bushwick. A plan to rezone nine square blocks for retail and high-rise apartments has upset longtime residents and the likely new councilman, Antonio Reynoso, 30. Artists met this summer to discuss whether it was better to join the development bandwagon or be swept away by it.

Mr. Morellet, who read about the meetings in a local blog, thought they belonged in the TV parody show “Portlandia.”

“Cities change,” he said. “Young people are going to be pioneers in neighborhoods and make them livable. Wealthy people are going to move in and young people are going to move to the next neighborhood, and the next neighborhood. We have tons of neighborhoods to rebuild. Yes, the prices are going up. That’s great.”

To which those of us who are not discoing away every night in our luxurious retirement can only say: Fuck You. As if Brooklyn needs any more ultra-rich douchebags coming over from Manhattan to advocate for building luxury skyscrapers (none of them providing affordable housing) in the middle of previously low-rise working and middle class neighborhoods and trying to make their cool little “discovered” corner of Brooklyn more like, you know, Manhattan. Please go away or die already. You say “we have tons of neighborhoods to rebuild”… until we don’t and we are all living somewhere near JFK with jets roaring over our heads every 5 minutes because that’s all we can afford. And did not the editor think to tell Miss Robbins to maybe cut her ode to Mr. Fabulous here by, oh, I don’t know, 15 or so paragraphs?  It boils down to a fawning story about a guy who owned a restaurant and is now on his 3rd midlife crisis discovering his personal fountain of youth in Bushwick, not exactly Pulitzer-worthy journalism. Jesus wept, at 3000 words who could possibly make it to the end of this damn thing? I dare you to try to finish it without wanting to throw your computer out the window.