The Kempt Twenty-Five
Every Wednesday, we’re giving you a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick. We call it: The Kempt Five.
Josie Russell Rum Punch. “The missus sent me a link to this punch—apparently the recipe was found in Hemingway’s notebooks with the simple heading ‘cocktail.’ Let’s just say that name’s a bit of an understatement: it was delicious, easy to make and (this is key) potent. In other words, pretty much perfect for any holiday soirees you may be hosting in the next few weeks. Pro tip: go with apple cider from your nearest farmers’ market. You’ll taste the freshness. (Also, don’t forget to say a toast to Papa.)” —P.L.U.
The First 15 Minutes of Gravity. “Not the most original pick, sure, but Jesus Christ. It’s fantastic—both in a ‘how the heck did they do that’ way and in a ‘I am really enjoying the sounds and images that are being projected at me’ way. People will be studying this movie for decades to come. (And yeah, the other 75 minutes are pretty good, too.)” —P.L.U.
Honest-to-God Elbow Patches. “I have this tweed jacket. I love it. Would wear it every day if I could. But recently, it began to fray at the elbows (which I’d like to assume is a result of my hulking biceps, and not the ravages of time; no one’s buying it yet). The solution: elbow patches, of course. They were applied by Stanton Street tailors, who I’d recommend for such matters if you’re in the neighborhood. (I’m less fond of their actual tailoring.) This is my first time with patches, and so far I love it—especially since they’re earned, not manufactured. Almost like scars, I suppose. But, you know, not gross.” —P.L.U.
Sugo at Girl & the Goat in Chicago. “There are times in life when one must cast aside one’s dietary restrictions in the name of experience, and this is one of them: a beautiful handmade pasta, with goat and gooseberries, perhaps the most delicious thing you’ll eat this year.” —P.L.U.
The Summer Beard. “‘Aren’t you hot with that?’ —a thing annoying people ask. No, I’m not. And hey, studies say beards have an SPF of 21, so I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.” —P.L.U.
“Walk Us Uptown.” “The first track from the upcoming collaboration album Wise Up Ghost from Elvis Costello and the Roots dropped yesterday from Blue Note Records. It’s a jazzy kind of funk with an up-tempo melody, feels the way I’d like to imagine August 1973 in NYC to be. I dig it, totally an anthem for the rest of summer.” —C.G.
Gustin. “This new denim-and-handmade-leather-goods company out of California launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce selvage denim back in February, and it became the most successful clothing-related campaign in the site’s history. They just launched their full line and website, and the model is something cool I’ve never seen before: they’ve set up their own Kickstarter for each item they make. Customers vote every item into production by ‘backing it,’ and only when it’s fully funded are they charged. And although you can’t order more once it’s funded, they’ll do repeat campaigns for the next run of an item. Also of note is that they’re getting all of their denim from Cone Mills, which is literally the best US denim purveyor, kicking in North Carolina since 1895. Sure, it’s a little ‘denim nerdy,’ but I’m really digging them right now.” —C.G.
Jack White, Musical Humanitarian. “Right now I’m swooning for Jack White, the musical humanitarian. It was announced last month that Rock City’s iconic Cathedral Theater at the Masonic Temple was going into foreclosure due to back taxes. Things were looking grim for the historic rock mecca, until yesterday, when White, a Detroit native who grew up working as an usher in the theater, made an anonymous (now public) donation to save the empire. Hat tip to you, sir. It would have been a tragic loss.” —C.G.
Billykirk No. 235 Leather Tote. “I picked up the Western floral print this past March, and it’s become my staple bag for everyday use. It’s great because it’s not something you need to be precious with; it comfortably fits my work essentials (book, notebook, random miscellany and laptop on occasion) without being too bulky. The best part is, as I break it in, the embossing on the leather is starting to wear darker in all the right places. It just looks really good.” —C.G.
The New Video for the Arctic Monkeys Single “Do I Wanna Know?”. “… dropped last week, and it’s a hypnotic kind of fantastic. The song itself has a smoother, richer sound than their earlier stuff circa Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. The video plays into the melodic bass, acting as a map of sound frequency interspersed with a sort of comic-strip storyline. Makes me pine for the grungy ’90s eloquence of MTV.” —C.G.
A Solid $20 Barbershop. “These stern Russian men on 25th who cut my hair might not be the best conversationalists, but they do manage some spectacular scissor work, and for about as much as ‘just a little off the top’ should cost. So za tvojó zdoróvʹje to them.” —S.P.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. “I went hiking in the Presidential Range in New Hampshire with a few friends from college. Being that this was the first time I’d been above the tree line with the sun overhead (I have a bad habit of hiking on rainy days), I brought a bottle of champagne and some brie to celebrate, and we made a nice little scene of it when we got to the peak. But next thing we know, a bunch of Appalachian Trail through-hikers stop and join the fun, and one of them whips out a copy of The Lorax that he’s been hiking with since he started on the trail in Maine a few weeks prior. Might I just say, I have never heard a more impassioned reading of a Dr. Seuss book about conservationism. And in such an idyllic setting. I’ve been inspired to recycle and plant trees ever since. There are worse things.” —S.P.
Grilled Lemonade (plus Bourbon). “I’d been searching for the perfect porch cocktail the other day, when I happened upon a recipe for this little ditty. There’s just something so obvious about it, I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of such a thing before. Dead-of-summer imbibing will never be the same again. And I can’t say I hate that.” —S.P.
This Volvo Commercial. “If, before I beheld this perfection, you had told me that Enya would provide the soundtrack for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s most compelling on-screen performance, I would have laughed in your face. Turns out, though, you would have been right.” —S.P.
Big-Ass Sweaters. “For keeping warm. For primo cuddling. For concealing the fact that you’ve unbuttoned your pants after dinner. ’Tis the season, eh?” —S.P.
ToyWatch Vintage Chrono. “For the past few years, I’ve been admiring from afar what the Italian watch brand ToyWatch has been doing: reinterpreting the classics with new clever twists—like their monochrome ‘plasteramic’ Submariners—in a way that takes the watches beyond the realm of uninspired knockoff into clever homage. But I did a double-take when I noticed this red-registered chronograph from their recently launched Vintage Collection. It shows some serious vintage-watch-aficionado cred with its unmistakable nod to the legendary Rolex Daytona favored by Paul Newman, all the way down to the squared markers, domed crystal and period-correct smaller case size. The twist: while Rolex made their contrasting dials in black and white—sometimes referred to as a panda dial—ToyWatch opted for a totally unexpected red. Which is not only a cool move, but also seems worthy of its own moniker: the red panda.” —N.B.
The Nelson Platform Bench. “Sleek, utilitarian, handsome, timeless… pretty much everything you’d want in a piece of furniture. It’s been modernizing living spaces since 1946—and can be used as everything from a coffee table to a bench. Ours sits in the entryway as the perfect spot to drop off a briefcase on your way in, wait to greet an expected guest or throw on your shoes before heading out à la Mr. Rogers. Cardigan optional.” —N.B.
Espresso. “It’s something I’ve wanted to get into drinking in earnest ever since I dabbled in the dark-beaned arts during a study abroad in Rome (though at the time I was merely abiding by our age-old obligation to ‘do as the Romans’). I don’t know what the aficionado stance is on using a Nespresso machine, but at this point it’s more than sufficient for my neophyte tastes. (And for lending a European-bon-vivant-ish start to each morning.)” —N.B.
Praise Be to Gant.“I picked up the windowpane linen Gant Rugger Shawler you see above from their pre-fall collection last year in anticipation of my pre-fall wedding the weekend before last. A bit of a departure from the norm—and, quite frankly, it felt a bit risky at first—but sometimes you just have to go big (plus, it was an outdoor wedding in California, so I could take some liberties in the formality department). The linen turned out to be a lifesaver in the 90-plus-degree weather, but the best part: over a week later, I’m still hearing compliments.” —N.B.
A Summer Ride with Sprezzatura. “I’m currently hell-bent on finding an old knock-around Italian roadster convertible for the summer (possibly sparked by a recent rewatch of The Graduate). A decent amount of ’70s Fiat and Alfa Romeo spiders are on the ’list for under $5K, but the trick is finding one that’s been casually well-maintained for the past 40 years—which can be a gamble. The payoff: breezy weekends spent tooling around in a peppy Italian sports car designed by Pininfarina, the same guys who were also designing the now-classic Ferraris at the time, for pennies on the lira.” —N.B.
General Knot & Co.’s Pheasant Run Bow Tie. “My girlfriend is an intimidatingly good gifter, and picked out this General Knot bow tie filled with little pheasants running around for my birthday. There’s just something wonderful and old-timey about country birds this time of year. Pheasants, geese, partridges-in-pear-trees. It already saw Thanksgiving duty, and is under serious consideration for a Christmas double-dip.” —E.T.
Prince’s Breakfast Can Wait Album Cover. “It’s so meta. But it’s Prince. So he can get away with using an image from the legendary Chappelle’s Show skit featuring Charlie Murphy telling a story involving Prince holding a plate of pancakes. It looks like a joke, but it’s not. It’s simply awesome. Keep being Prince, Prince.” —D.M.
The Hollow Crown on DVD. “So next week there’ll finally be a US release of this BBC miniseries that brings four of Shakespeare’s histories to the small screen. I mean, sure, ‘Shakespeare on the BBC’ doesn’t necessarily send a thrill through many people’s hearts, but these 2012 Sam Mendes adaptations of Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V have some brilliant acting talent going on (Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, a bit of Sir Patrick Stewart…) and all the costuming and epic-battle production value you’d expect on the big screen. My favorite thing about the series, though, is that they’re not awkwardly modernized—it’s straight Shakespeare, and the language just gets into your head after a little while, and it’s amazing.” —J.R.
California Chili Hot Sauce. “Not to disrespect the almighty rooster, but the alarm bells sounding off on the Internet about a potential sriracha shortage make now a good time to talk about other, better chili sauces. We were the fortunate recipients of some California Chili hot sauce, and really, there’s no looking back. It’s got a little less heat than the sriracha made by Huy Fong, but the flavor is immense. It’s less cloying and sweet (sugar is the number two ingredient in Huy Fong’s version) and it has a vinegary, garlicky tang that is beyond addictive.” —A.P.B.
Summer Reading. “You hate it as a kid, you treasure it as an adult. I’ve been shotgunning the novels of Patricia Highsmith recently. I’ve been a fan since I came across her excellent short story collection Nothing That Meets the Eye a few years ago, and after rereading The Talented Mr. Ripley, I’ve gone on something of a binge: The Tremor of Forgery, a Camus-like tale of an author who accidently commits a murder in Tunisia (his weapon: a heavy typewriter) that is subsequently covered up by parties unknown; The Price of Salt, a controversial lesbian adventure that was one of the first same-sex romances to have a happy ending; the second Tom Ripley book, Ripley Under Ground; and now I’m on to A Dog’s Ransom, a nasty tale of a rich Manhattan couple’s kidnapped dog. Each book brims with unsettling dread. ‘With contempt’ may best describe the way Highsmith views the human race, but her wry observations are pretty spot-on. On these very hot, very humid days, there’s nothing like feeling your blood run a little cold.” —A.P.B.
Check out the Kempt Five archives for more of the good stuff.
— Najib Benouar
— Andrew Paine Bradbury
— Caitlin Ganswindt
— Daniel McCarthy
— Stephen Praetorius
— Jessica Rusinak
— Eric Twardzik
— Paul L. Underwood