Every Wednesday, we’re giving you a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick. We call it: The Kempt Five.
For anyone lucky enough to find themselves in Chicagoland tomorrow, the first Windy City installment of the men’s pop-up market NorthernGrade will be taking place. And it’s going to be a barn burner.
In the grand tradition of the Pop-Up Flea (co-helmed by our very own editorial director), the folks from Pierrepont Hicks and Well Spent are putting on a Midwestern fete of Americana. The daylong bazaar of selvage, duck canvas and other ruggedly made-in-America-only gear will be hosting 19 coast-to-coast brands, with a few local shops like Penelope’s and Haberdash on hand to help things along.
One intrepid Kempt contributor (and UrbanDaddy Chicago editor) braved the insanity that was this past weekend’s Lollapalooza—if you haven’t heard, there was an unprecedented evacuation mid-festival as a storm quickly descended upon Chicago. Luckily, our man Chris made it out alive to tell the story. Here’s what we learned from his harrowing tale.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of the Civil Rights Movement, it was the age of funkiness, it was… the ’60s and ’70s.
And no one made that transition look (or sound) better than Curtis Mayfield. He lent a soundtrack to Martin Luther King Jr.’s message in the ’60s, and he lent a soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly in the ’70s, injecting some much-needed social consciousness into a wayward genre while also shaping a sound still found in rhythm and blues today. (A young Kanye West built his early career on sampling his Chicagoan forefather.) And all along the way, Curtis managed to match his musical creativity with equal measures of sartorial flamboyance—from gray flannel suits to bow ties to funkadelic leisurewear.
Our brothers in arms over at UrbanDaddy Chicago recently caught up with Illinois’s native son Nick Offerman, best known for his mustachioed brawniness (and playing a guy named Ron Swanson on TV). Below, we’ve got the full interview, including a few additional nuggets of wisdom that didn’t make it into the article.
Christopher Hitchens with Ian McEwan (left) and Martin Amis in Uruguay via The Guardian
We spend a good deal of time here at Kempt headquarters discussing the gentleman’s style: his clothes, his facial hair, his accoutrements, etc. In addition, though, over the past year, we’ve attempted to broaden the definition of style to include his behavior as well: his adherence to a certain chivalric code, his etiquette, the words he uses, his manner of pursuing artistic and athletic endeavors, his morality, his aspirations and, inevitably, the periodic missteps that can and squander those aspirations.
While we hesitate to dip our toe into the murky, stale bathwater of year-end reviews (and while we have even greater hesitation to hurl ourselves, willy-nilly, into the business of doling out meaningless, award-less “awards”), we’re doing so anyway.
Maybe we’re slightly more nostalgic for 2011 than we’ve been in the past.
Or, more likely, maybe we’re finding the exercise of attaching superlatives to people and things and moments to be kind of fun.
Whatever the reason, we present for your perusal—in three parts over as many days—the 2011 Kempt Awards.
Ladies and gentlemen, Chicago is officially the most mustache-friendly place in America.
According to a gleefully fraudulent white paper from The American Mustache Institute, the Windy City took the lead thanks to local mustached celebrities and an abundance of mustache-friendly jobs, “such as law enforcement, construction and relief pitching.”
We’d make a joke here, but it’s hard to top the ones they came up with themselves. Runners-up include Houston (assisted by “nearby rodeo schooling”), Pittsburgh (“a historically mustached city”) and Oklahoma City (for “serving as the off-season home to many employees of the adult entertainment industry”).
A goatee census cannot be far behind.
A great bar is a magical thing. But aside from a few Replacements songs, no one’s really captured the rare mix of folklore and social gamesmanship you’ll find there. So we thought we’d dig up this fantastic Roger Ebert piece on O’Rourke’s in Chicago, which captures it as well as anyone has. If you were wondering what to look for in a watering hole, here’s what you should be aiming for.
The essay’s a few years old, but the nostalgia has aged beautifully. In its heyday, O’Rourke’s regulars included John Belushi, Studs Terkel and a 300-pound antiquities professor named “Al the Greek”—so it makes for a lively read. Wistful too: Ebert stopped drinking in ’79 and O’Rourke’s changed locations in the early 90s, losing much of its scene in the process. Raise a glass, gentlemen.
It would appear the art world isn’t immune to a little financial chicanery. This gold brick is currently on sale at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art as a paperweight/doorstop, but if the $80 price tag seems a little low for ten ounces of gold there’s a reason: it’s gilded aluminum stamped with a few significant dates and christened as art.
Of course, you could always pick up the genuine article for a few hundred more…but you’d have to leave the museum first.
Political corruption is such a tradition in Chicago, it has developed its own dress code. Sixty years ago, it was the pinstripe, and while the mobster suit has gotten more subtle, it hasn’t gone away.
In light of the recent difficulties, we thought we’d point out where the trouble started. Look closely at Rod Blagojevich’s choice in fabrics: Would you trust a senate seat to a man with those checks?
We rest our case.
Believe it or not, there’s still a lot of early 60s staples that have yet to make the retro jump. Our pick for the next candidate is the credenza, a staple of old school interior décor that’s completely dropped off the map in recent decades, but the *Mad Men* set dressers clearly haven’t forgotten. By our lights, it’s due for a revival, but only time will tell.
If you happen to be in the Second City, you can pick up this Herman Miller version (circa 1955) for around five grand at Chicago’s Wright Design Auction on October 7th, along with a few Eames chairs and an embarrassment of interior design riches.
But if you want to stick with your coffee table, we understand.
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