July, we hardly knew ya. And while it might have felt like the month just flew by in a tropical-drink-fueled, red-white-and-blue blur, we’d like to take a moment to remember some of the more handsome moments. So we’re firing up the Kempt DeLorean and taking a quick drive down recent-memory lane in this month-ending recap we like to call…
Here at Kempt HQ, we often receive letters from our readers—most of it adoring fan mail, but every so often we get a nude photo. Also every so often we get an inquiry from a wayward soul who we feel compelled to answer…
Thanks in part to your advice over the years, I was able to find and get a very handsome suit that was at the top level of my budget. And then, in its debut outing (at a wedding), some knucklehead knocked over a candle near me, which (of course!) managed to spill hot wax all over my trousers and shoes (not new, but still). Now what? Is the cost sunk? Can I at least write it off on my taxes?
Great to hear our words have guided you to the perfect suit; quite tragic that such a sartorial victory was followed by a real-life verse on irony. But this doesn’t necessarily mean a total loss. There are a few things you can try.
There’s nothing better than a good summer read—especially when it doesn’t require much actual reading.
You don’t need all of that flowery prose cluttering up your perfectly good beach weekend or scenic train ride upstate. What you need is a handsome book full of glossy pages you can breezily flip through at will. Whether it’s clever infographics with easily digestible tidbits, photos of interesting cultural phenomenon or just Paz de la Huerta wearing a lot of different wigs, there are plenty of new books out this season that make for ideal summer lounging companions.
On this day 125 years ago, a poem by the name of “Casey at the Bat” appeared in The San Francisco Examiner.
Which reminds us of the lost art of the newspaper poem: just a few timely words, tied to the pop culture of the day and not as flowery or abstract as we typically regard poetry these days.
In the long, proud bloodline of gritty journalists—the Hemingways, the S. Thompsons of the literary world—there was the original: Jack London.
In 1897, at age 21, he sailed to the Klondike in search of gold, and instead of finding a fortune, he picked up a near-fatal case of scurvy. Returning to his native Northern California a little worse for wear and a few teeth lighter, he picked up the pen and never looked back. (As you’d imagine, a running theme in his writings was man versus wild.) For all the love the Gold Rush era gets from the Americana set, there aren’t too many faces that can be put to the name—just anonymous beards and dusty overalls—but Jack London was there, in the thick of it. Looking quite stylish, for the most part.
You know what the greatest Valentine’s gift of all time is? A fully loaded, pearl-white Ferrari made of roses.
But giving the same gift two years in a row would just be tacky. So this year you’re turning back the clock and winning Valentine’s Day the old-fashioned way: by writing a thoughtful, heart-melting and perfectly legible love letter.
We’d like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to remind you that the printed word is still alive and well—and to congratulate one of our own. Shawn Donnelly, our resident sports guru (especially on the matter of European soccer) can now add “published author” to his already gleaming resume of “Kempt contributor” and “all-around stand-up guy,” among other things.
His newly released book, Go Get That Scholarship!, written with Nate Mast, the director of basketball operations at Southern Illinois University, is a guide for high schoolers looking for a shot at playing college ball (also: a good stocking stuffer for the Hoosiers fanatic in your life). Of the book’s many nuggets of wisdom, our favorite is one from Kansas coach Bill Self, who explains why he doesn’t want to scout a player on his best day, but rather on a day when the cards aren’t falling his way. It’s a test of character that any modern man can take to heart.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the literary lion-in-winter that is Tom Wolfe hasn’t been a dapper octogenarian his entire life. So on the occasion of his new book Back to Blood releasing today, Vanity Fair previewed an excerpt and dug up a photo of him from nearly 50 years ago (1966)—and he, miraculously, is wearing the same exact white three-piece suit he’s never seen without (we’re convinced he even sleeps in it). It’s a testament to having an unwavering sense of personal style—and to sticking with what works. It’s still working, sir. Bravo.
Actor. Brat Packer. Lover of mannequins. And these days… travel writer. Andrew McCarthy’s second act has taken him to such far-flung places as Kilimanjaro, Bhutan and… San Francisco, where we (and our brothers at UrbanDaddy San Francisco) caught up with him on tour for his new book, The Longest Way Home.
Gore Vidal published 25 novels, two memoirs and reams upon reams of historical and opinionated essays, plays, television dramas and screenplays. “Style,” he once wrote, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, one of the most stylish gentlemen we have ever known passed away last night at the age of 86.
We’re not ones to flippantly eulogize. (That’s what Facebook is for.) But every so often, the passing of a great man consequently marks the passing of something greater than just one man, or in the case Mr. Vidal, a Man of Letters—erudite, wittily cynical, well-informed, prolific, compassionate and fearless.
A title may never again befit a gentleman so justly.
Even in this digital age, the charms of a leather-bound notebook are not lost on us. Especially when said notebook was bound in a 19th-century barn.
This screen-printed one comes from the newly minted Baltimore outfit Almanac Industries, and even more than the striped leather cover, we like what lies beneath it: deadstock ledger-type pages. See, more often than not, you’ve got to choose between a notebook with blank or lined pages, but this one gives you both options—with lines starting about halfway down and red margins should you need them—so you can jot down a shopping list, balance an account and draw yourself a reminder of what a kumquat looks like all on one page.
We have yet to see an app for that.
Raise a glass, men. One of the most iconic gentlemen of our time passed away last night, the boxing writer Bert Sugar. He was the platonic ideal of a sportswriter—rarely seen without an unflipped fedora, a cigar and some of the loudest ties ever seen in a newspaper. He was larger than life from the beginning, looking and dressing as if he’d just walked out of His Girl Friday. And given that he covered both Sugar Rays and all three Ali-Frazier bouts, the nostalgia was well earned. He’ll be missed.
Over the last 24 hours, the blogosphere has taken a delightful stroll from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, circa 1968, thanks to an excerpt from Hollis Frampton’s 10-minute short film Surface Tension posted on the New York Times blog yesterday.
As the post points out, time-lapse movies like this were decidedly avant-garde in 1968 (inexplicable German narration, for example)—but thanks to the pause button, we can now experience the film from a historical angle as well, which, given the speed of the recording, was clearly not Hollis Frampton’s intention. Which got us thinking…
You may have seen a lot of these lately…
Until the late 1970s, the exclamation point (also known as a “dembanger” or “dog’s cock”) was not featured on standard typewriters. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced and then typed an apostrophe. While this made for rather crooked conclusions to imperative clauses, it also compelled the writer to give pause before employing what, in our opinion, has since become the most overused key on the QWERTY board.
And texting has only made things worse. In finalizing plans for a first date, a colleague was recently scolded by his companion for texting “See you tonight.” She felt his use of the period—or, to be more eye-rollingly specific, his omission of the exclamation point(s)—implied he wasn’t excited to meet her.
George Lois’s brain is an interesting place.
Over the past 50 years, he’s spawned too many pop culture flash points to count—everything from the iconic ’60s Esquire covers to “I Want My MTV.” Now he’s pouring out a lifetime of hard-ass wisdom (including an unusually vicious attack on Don Draper) in a 192-page tome titled Damn Good Advice. And since the book won’t be out until March, we thought we’d pass along some of the best lines. Get inspired, gentlemen…
As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the postcard.
Everyone needs a change of scenery from time to time.
And whether it’s a weekend road trip or a monthlong tour of Asia, we predict you’ll spend at least some portion of the next few months in unusual climes. It’s an opportunity for reflection, mind-broadening and—if you came prepared—a little nostalgia. We’re thinking of the postcard…and the kind that doesn’t come from a gift shop.
You don’t get many chances to get drunk and do ridiculous things in the name of a literary icon, so when the chance comes along you’d better make the most of it.
In that spirit, we thought we’d bring your attention to a little festival called Hemingway Days, raging from July 20th to 25th in the Florida Keys. You’ve probably seen pictures of the lookalike contest but we prefer to focus on the more meditative aspects of the event, and just how great it is to grow out a snow-white beard, pack a few bottles of rum, swing through a reading and then go sport fishing. It would be pretentious if it weren’t so goofy…which isn’t such a bad place to find yourself.
So, in the spirit of the occasion, you’ll be seeing a lot of Papa on Kempt over the next couple weeks, including beard advice, overlooked works, and an introduction to something called the Conch Republic. And if you feel like pouring yourself a drink to celebrate, we’ve got one ready.
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