Molly Ivins, RIP

From the Houston Chronicle:
AUSTIN — Molly Ivins, the irreverent nationally syndicated columnist from Texas who rankled conservatives and delighted liberals, died late this afternoon after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 62.


From her last column:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.

All of them inferior to Duck Hunt


This dude's selling every NES game ever made as one big lot - if you have $20,801, you could be the new high bidder!

More mainstream denim coverage

Earlier this month, the coverage of SelfEdge in the SF Chronicle and today, a summary of the Levi's lawsuit in the NY Times. With not a single mention of any of the Japanese repro companies, or even that they were targets of the suit.
Yet difficult only begins to describe Levi’s business today, after it failed to exploit the designer denim boom in what is widely regarded as one of the biggest debacles in the American clothing business. Levi’s sales have plummeted more than 40 percent since 1996 to $4.1 billion, forcing it to close dozens of factories and lay off nearly half of its workforce, or 7,600 employees, in the last five years.

The clothing company faced two major problems over the last decade. Its image and brand — button fly, rugged, and all-around bad-boy cool — was largely built for men, its jeans cut boxy and loose- fitting. At the same time, the company, which once distributed its jeans largely through department stores catering to the rich, had shifted into lower-priced retailers like J.C. Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart.

Gosh darn diddly-arn!

Gee whillikers, I didn't blog all fudgin' weekend! Entertain yourselves with The Profane Game until I get back. And of course, high scores go in the comments. I expect Spice to win this one, hands down. Girl swears like a drunken sailor.

The Fashion McMegaBlog

Excuse my language, but holy moley I love my new Samurais. I need some brown leather boots to wear with them though.


And to wrap up the denim-related posting for a while, the other Levi's repros I ordered came today - Studio D'Artisan, model D1237. If you look closely, you can get an idea of how slubby these are, a word that refers to the uneveness of the cotton, which comes from slow, hand-weaving. They feel like sandpaper, which is nicer than it sounds. You can see the arcuate and tag design that got Studio D'Artisan in legal trouble with Levi's. The waddling pigs are an icon, so SDA will probably find a way to use them on whatever the redesigned patch design turns out to be.




These are the last two pairs of jeans I'm going to buy for a long, long time. Eons. They should easily last three years each, even with near-daily wear and annual washing. The SDAs, in fact, are going back in their shipping envelope and being stored in the bottom of my drawer until I need a fresh pair of Japanese Levi's repros. In 2009.


Edit: Changed the title to more general "Fashion McMegaBlog" because I want to make two predictions for spring. As the first installment of TrendWatch07, I think sleeveless hoodies and slim-fitting cargo pants will be big this year. You watch and see.

Whys?

I refuse to believe that anyone genuinely likes the new Joanna Newsom album. I'm glad I got it through emusic and didn't pay more than $3 for it.

Samurai S0510XX (photo-heavy)

My Samurai Levi's repros from Selfedge came today! I'm giddy like a schoolgirl in 19oz ring-spun shuttle-loom selvage Japanese denim! When Japanese Levi's repros are outlawed, only outlaws wear Japanese Levi's repros.



The details are pretty fantastic - blue & red selvage lines, selvage coin pocket, hidden rear-pocket rivets, and the smell of 1955. You can see the homage to the Levi's stitching, which (along with the red tag - see the last couple pictures) is the feature that got Samurai in legal hot water. Starting last Friday at 12:01 a.m., it's no longer possible to buy any Levi's repros with those kind of details.






They're unsanforized, so I have to shrink them down to tagged size by soaking them in hot water. Shrinking to a 36" inseam means they were almost 40" long when they came out of the box!


Selfedge had to cut off the red tabs before shipping them, but there are pictures of the carnage -

MY FELLOW AMERICANS, LOOK AT THIS HILARIOUS PICTURE OF A DOG

THE STATE OF THE UNION IS THAT OUR GAS PUMPERS ARE MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN EVER AND LESS PEOPLE DIE UNDER TRAINS THAN EVER BEFORE. TROOP SURGE. RIP THE CROCODILE HUNTER. REMEMBER WHAT I SAID ABOUT MARS LAST YEAR? FORGET THAT. OH SHIT I FORGOT TO MENTION NEW ORLEANS.

Next up, the Democratic response, featuring Charles Barkley.

E-I-E-I-Traineo

This is a fun thing. It tracks your diet and exercise (like any of a dozen other similar websites), but it also aggregates and summarizes your weekly progress and e-mails it to four people. These are your Traineo Motivators, and their job is to make fun of you for failing (if they're dudes) or be loyal and supportive when you succeed (if they're chicks). It's kind of like Weight Watchers, with the idea that public failure is a bigger motivator than private.

Who wants to be one of my Motivators?

Wincing the Night Away


January 23 PSA: the third Shins album was released today.

Happily, the rest of my top five list of bands also have albums coming out this year - Ted Leo + The Pharmacists (March 20), Modest Mouse (March Something), Spoon (Spring TBA), and New Pornographers (Fall TBA). Toss in new albums by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (January 30), Bloc Party (February 6), Arcade Fire (March 6), Islands (Summer TBA), Interpol (Fall TBA), and Wolf Parade (Fall TBA), and my Best of 2007 is going to be exceptionally hard to make.

Best of 2006 CDs are being cut tonight or tomorrow. Last chance to let me know if you want a copy.

Sadie Rae in Thailand

My cousin Sadie is two weeks into a 2-year Peace Corps assignment in Thailand, and at my suggestion (and with her brother's help), she's going to blog about it. Blogs are driven by attention, so get over there, read it, and leave her comments people! The link is going in my list ("hollers"), so check it when you're making the rounds.

But, c'mon, she totally is

Brit-brit's talker-dude says she ain't preggers, y'all.

And, hey, check out the comments on the denim post down there. Hi, Context! We should talk about me buying a pair of jeans from your competition - I hate to put the blame on someone who isn't here to defend themselves, but you realize that Levi's made me do it, right? C'mon back here, let's hug this out.

Ohayocon 2007: Disappointment of Disappointments

Just a link: How bad of a person am I for thinking all science fiction nerds share exactly this persona?

Denim Speakeasies?

According to a post on Superfuture by the owner of Selfedge:
-Levi's is suing your two favorite denim stores in America [ed note: that's Blue in Green in NYC and Selfedge in San Francisco - Context doesn't carry any brands that made a Levi's repro, so they're not being sued], along with Studio D'Artisan, Iron Heart, Toyo/Sugarcane, Oni (BS United), and Samurai.

-Everybody is being sued for trademark infringment

-All sales of the above mentioned brands are to be stopped by Friday, January 19, 2007 WORLDWIDE

-US and Japanese Customs are in on this, no jeans made by the above brands are to be sent out of Japan starting two days ago (January 15) to stores OR consumers. you've been warned, don't attempt to order your jeans via a bidding service or have a friend send them to you

-The offending points are as follows: 1. There are to be NO tabs attatched between to pieces of fabric on the rear pockets, 2. The cards hanging out of the back pocket, stapled to the pocket, must not look anything like vintage/modern Levi's Info Cards, 3. Arcuates on the rear pockets must not resemble the Levi's arcuate in ANY way shape or form, 4. Rear leather patch cannot contain an image of two moving objects (horses, motorcylcles, pigs, etc..) pulling apart a pair of jeans

-All product with any of the above mentioned accents must be pulled from the shelves of every store in the world by Friday, January 19

-I've spoken to most of the manufacturers named in the lawsuit in Japan already and they are quickly working on producing jeans with either NO back pocket stitching or stitching that is greatly different than the Levi's Arcuate. We are looking at a four week period where there will be very low stock of denim from these companies

-There are four more companies they're going after, i cannot name those at this time.

-This is one of the most comprehensive and largest lawsuits Levi's has filed against Japanese denim manufacturers

Wow - I'm kicking myself for not buying a pair of the Sugarcane Levi's repros now. The suit is international, so these companies won't even be able to continue manufacturing repros for the Japanese market (which could then be purchased by entrepreneurial superfuture members and sold outside regular retail channels). My Lee ones are awesome (and I read are being discontinued), but this makes me wish I had a pair of Samurais, or Iron Hearts, or SDAs or something real, real bad. The black market on Superfuture is going to explode.

As one commenter noted, "Perhaps Levi's should also take note that there is a market for jeans above $35 dollars."

Update: Maybe I was too quick to say that Context won't be involved. They're the US distributor for Imperial, which wasn't named in the suit, doesn't use the arcuate or tab, and doesn't make Levi's reproductions. They do, however, have a tag that falls under point #4 -


Update: This guy's right too-
honestly, i love the levi's arcuate, red tab, and two horse patch but levi's has not made a pair of jeans with these details that rivals what sugarcane, samurai, or sda is doing. lvc quality has not really impressed me and as a company they have not really provided the "repro" niche market with something they can embrace they way these other companies have. these small companies have basically created and nurtured this market while levi's slept and now they want a piece of the pie. if anything these companies were doing levi's a favor by associating their much higher quality product with them and keeping these details relevant for much longer than they would have been. these companies were referencing levi's out of reverance and respect to levi's (and denim) history, not a desire to ride levi's coattails or to rip them off. i mean why not just license these details to some of these companies? assholes. so will the sales of repro jeans w/ these details continue in japan? i can't see how levi's could trump japanese law but who knows.


I called Selfedge. They're staying open until the stroke of midnight. I was on hold for 15 minutes. I gave them my credit card number. They're sending me a pair of Samurai S510XX 19oz jeans. Get off my back. Seriously. I don't want to hear it.

Millions of kids in Africa breathe a sigh of relief

I've got too much work to do for Brit-brit to be pregnant again.

Cheaper and Mondayer


I'm such a superstar haggler that I got these European-market-only Cheap Mondays from a guy on Superdenim for less than a third of retail (which, I'm sure you haven't forgotten, is $65). Converted to Euros, you could count what I paid on your fingers and toes. When that also includes UPS shipping from Germany, you could count what I paid for the jeans on two closed fists. However...




there's no way I can pull these off, and I'm reselling them. Rrrrarr, I'm the hulk of skinny european denim, rrrarrrr.

Return of the Eata'

Let's all welcome BurritoEater back from his honeymoon and congratulate him on his new life, blogging as a hitched dude!

Running from the camera

The rules are simple: I put the self-timer on 2 seconds, push the button and try to get as far from the camera as I can.

Results.

Hold the boat! NO - back the boat up!

How could I finish my Top Fifteen Songs of Two Thousand Six without including "I Love Nebraska" by Ginger ten Bensel?!? A billion reasons why - no, none of them are unique or special. Replace the part about Memorial Stadium and Ginger ten Bensel could sell the same low-rent country twang to South Dakota, Oklahoma and about three dozen other states.

The shot of a jet flying overhead (at :51) is classy though. "Nebraska - we're down here when you're on your way somewhere else. Nebraska."

Closure

Three two one - let's do this thing. As TOWWAS noted in the comments, I'll send you a CD if you want. If you know my e-mail or know someone that knows it, just send me your address and I'll help you rock out.

3) TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
This one may take a listen or two before its excellence really sinks in. When it does, though, whoah - set aside a few hours to just listen to it. Really, though, you should be listening to the whole stupidly-named album.

2) Cold War Kids - We Used to Vacation
I'm finding that, as I get closer and closer to the top of this list, my ability to describe what I like and why is getting less effective. I feel like I should just write - here's #2 it's the cold war kids and they're singing a song about alcoholism and family and dreams and disappointment and here's the video so you can hear it yourself now go watch and listen. I love this song so much that the opening two notes are enough to make me shiver and stop whatever I'm doing to listen. Unless I'm driving - frankly, it's neither safe nor responsible to listen to this song while driving.

1) The Raconteurs - Steady, As She Goes
The rockingest song about settling for an unsatisfying relationship ever written. A long, long time ago, I posted about The Raconteurs streaming this on their website and offered a prize for anyone that figured out a way for me to turn that into an mp3. You let me down, but this song has been the one to beat in '06 since January. Jack White could fart in a tin can and I'd buy the album - this is slightly better.

Recap of the Top 15:
15) The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations
14) Guster – One Man Wrecking Machine
13) Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken
12) Klaxons – Gravity’s Rainbow
11) The Pipettes – Your Kisses are Wasted on Me
10) Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins – Handle With Care
9) The Strokes – Juicebox
8) Neko Case – John Saw That Number
7) Islands - Humans
6) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Warrior
5) Sonic Youth – Incinerate
4) Tapes ‘n Tapes – 10 Dollar Ascots
3) TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me
2) Cold War Kids – We Used to Vacation
1) The Raconteurs – Steady, As She Goes

That's it - what do you think?

How have you let your gender down?

I, for example, haven't ever owned a pro-sports replica jersey.

Your turn.

**_**BEEPbuddaBEEPdoop!**

Breaking news out of the internet this morning (or yesterday, if you read dlisted during the day instead of while your wife is getting ready for work): Shiloh Jolie-Pitt was an accident, is only kinda loved.

More of the best of last year

6: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Warrior"
I picked the least screechy song from an album packed with single-worthy tracks, but I have no problem with Karen O getting her punk on. I'm realizing that I have a thing for long crescendoes - "Warrior" starts so plaintive and quiet, builds to a demand slash threat, then drops off a cliff. I can't find a good video of it anywhere though.

5: Sonic Youth - "Incinerate"
I had a ridiculously hard time putting #5-#2 in any sort of meaningful order - it's all basically a tie. "Incinerate", unlike #6, has a fantastic video on YouTube. I could listen to this as a 3-hour instrumental and just stare at the ceiling grinning the whole time. Add Thurston Moore's fantastically lazy vocals and it's a winner. A fifth-place winner, but it's stiff competition. Does any other 50 year-old married couple rock 3% this much?

4: Tapes 'n Tapes - "10 Dollar Ascots"
Once again, picking one song from this album - The Loon - made my head hurt. "Insistor" would have been the more obvious choice (not to mention the only song of theirs on YouTube) - it's also a fantastic piece of music, and I'd be happy to give it the #4 spot too. But two #4s would be anarchy, and not in the straightforward International Relations no-central-governing-body way. No, in the pandemonium way. So you're just going to have to listen to Insistor and know that 10 Dollar Ascots is just a hair better. Bonus video - this is how I like to imagine Tapes 'n Tapes play all their concerts.

Hold the boat for an update!! I found a video (from Coachella, with terrible, horrible, no good audio quality) mislabeled 10 Gallon Ascots. The tempo change 1:45 in will change your life.

Updatier: Weird. Apparently, early versions of the album (like mine) have this track labeled 10 Dollar Ascots, while newer versions have it listed as 10 Gallon Ascots. Since the title only shows up in the first three words, it doesn't really matter. Still weird though.

That's all for today - top 3 coming in the next couple days!

Wholesale theft

Want to talk about the Bush speech? You can't do it any better than DailyKos:
Tonight, Bush outlined a complete New and Improved strategy for Iraq. New and improved as in the way a box of Lucky Charms is new and improved whenever they change the shape of a marshmallow. And that's an insult to Lucky Charms.

What was expected to be a major new policy in Iraq, was nothing of the sort. Instead, a red-faced and clearly nervous Bush delivered the most minor, technical tweaking of the current disaster imaginable, and failed to even find language to make the plan sound important.

I'll blog about music in a second - hold your horses.

San Francisco Chronicle: Chronicler of Japanese Denim

Nice article about Japanese denim in the Chronice -
Some brands, like Samurai, which is exclusive to Self Edge, are "known for how stiff they are, like sandpaper," Babzani says. "They're not meant to be comfortable." For best results, you shouldn't even wash them for the first month or two -- if ever -- as you break them in.

Such is the allure of raw Japanese denim. It bends to the owner's whims and life. Self Edge employee Jan Galang was riding his bike and wearing his 15-ounce Sugar Cane Okinawas when he was hit by a car recently. He's OK, but the jeans sustained some damage. Still, it's all good: "With denim right now, it's all about how they fade," he says.

(I imported my Sugar Cane 1945 Lee repros direct from Japan for a hair over half what Self Edge is charging, including EMS shipping)

Levi's original location was at 55 Valencia St in San Francisco. In fact, if you can find a pair of old 501s with "55" stamped behind the big fly button, you can probably sell them on ebay for a tidy profit. Or, if they're 31x34s, you can send them my way for no profit at all.

Best of 06: Bonus Feature

Top Five Songs Z104, the local Top 40 Clear Channel station, played in 2006:
5) KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See
4) Rihanna - SOS
3) Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
2) Beyonce - Check On It
1) Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

Most Annoying Five Songs Z104 played in 2006:
5) Saving Jane - Girl Next Door
4) Pussycat Dolls - Buttons
3) Nickelback - Photograph
2) Fergie - Fergalicious
1) Hinder - Lips of an Angel

Into the meat of the top ten now

Best Music of 06 continued. I just realized that I forgot to put YouTube links in the last post - fixing that now. Go back and check it out, homeslice.

9) The Strokes - Juicebox
This came out as a single in late 2005, but the album was released in mid-January - I'm declaring it eligible. Plus, it rocks. The Strokes haven't been cool for, like, 4 years now and First Impressions of Earth got a meh reaction from critics, but the opening bass line of Juicebox will pump you up for weeks. One time I got so pumped I ran an 11 minute 5K after hearing someone talk about drinking a Capri Sun, just because it made me think of this song. As David Cross says in the video, "too much beans in the ol' gas tank." Also, "Everybody likes to rock out."

8) Neko Case - John Saw that Number
After a pretty li'l 30-second acapella intro, you think this was a nice little little between-track bit. Then Neko Case (and whatever band gets to play with her this time) crash back in with the real opening bars of the song, and you're like, whoah, I miss the New Pornographers. No video for this song, but here's one of Neko Case talking about boys wearing too-tight pants.

7) Islands - Human
Weird song from a weird album from a weird couple that used to be in a weird band called Unicorns. All weird in a good way, though. Live show - opening for Metric at this fall's tour.

Countdown cont.

15-13 of J.Bro's Best Music of Ought-Six is a few posts below.

12: Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow
British dance-rock that got the #68 spot on Pitchfork's Best 100 list. They're much more pretentious than me, and here's what they had to say about it - "Copping feels from a dozen genres, 'Gravity's Rainbow' was scrappy but streamlined powder/pill music for children. Its chorus' first half ("Come with me/ We'll travel to infinity") sounded like something a pegasus might tell its young master without a hint of bestiality."

11: The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me

The Pipettes've got the 60's girl-trio thing down cold, and this song is ridiculously, ridiculously catchy. Not to say that the rest of the album isn't, but this song needs to be violently scooped out of your brain once you've been infected. Hear it once, and for days, you'll be bopping along the street, telling strangers that their kisses are wasted on you. Just try to stop frinning idiotically while you watch the video. They wear matching dresses - how can you not love that?

10: Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins – Handle With Care
Look - I realize that a lot of people call this the low point on a fantastic album. Blah blah grarr - violating Roy Orbison's spirit rawr. Is Roy Orbison dead? I could look it up, but I need to leave sooner than that. What? Oh, the song, right. Did you know Jenny Lewis was a child actress? I remember her in Troop Beverly Hills (which only I and my little sister watched, apparently) and The Wizard (which is about a child prodigy - prodigying the hell out of Super Mario Bros 3).

World's first scrapbooking injury?

I'm leaving to take M.Bro to Urgent Care in a few minutes - she stabbed herself pretty deeply in the fleshy pad of her palm with an X-acto knife late last night, and it's all black & blue and still bleeding this morning. Her doctor said it's probably going to be OK, but someone needs to make sure she didn't cut any muscles or tendons. There will definitely be an update, possibly with pictures.

Update: Disappointingly (for my blog), she's fine. What looked like bruising was just blood pooling under her skin. The doctor drained it, cleaned out the cut, and sealed it with some sort of liqui-plastic sutures. M.Bro has to keep it dry for five days, which means no exercising and no showering without a latex glove.

New Standards

Right here - this is why I like denim so much. Before.

A two-year commitment later.



If you order a pair from Context, size down two from what you usually wear - APC vanity-sizes one and New Standards stretch like a mofo.

We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

As long as I'm blogging about music instead of jeans (temporarily, of course), I wouldn't want you to miss all the leaked tracks from Modest Mouse's new album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. 2007 is going to have some early frontrunners for J.Bro's ipod time - The Shins on Jan 23, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on Jan 30, and rumblings of a new A.C. Newman (but not New Pornographers) album.

The countdown begins

I started thinking about my Best Songs of 2006 list before I even wrote my Best Songs of 2005 list last December, so I'm excited to finally get it underway. Like last year, I'll give you two or three a day from now through Saturday or Sunday or whenever. With a few exceptions, this year's list is far more rockin' than last year's, if I do say so myself. Definitely the sharp end of the list anyway - the bottom end is a li'l closer to Spice's territory.

Since Time says we're all the Person of 2006, this year's list will be accompanied by some sort of YouTube links whenever I can find them.

A caveat before we kick down this door - I got a few CDs for x-mas that I haven't listened to enough to consider them thoroughly judged. Therefore, I hereby declare that The Decemberists - The Crane Wife, Acrtic Monkeys - Whatever People Say..., Hot Chip - The Warning, and The Black Keys - Magic Potion are 2006 releases that are eligible for the Best Songs of 2007 list. The same was true for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in 2005-2006, but since I didn't put it in writing, I have to declare it ineligible for this list. For posterity, The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth would be #2. I frakkin love that song.

Let's do this thing.

15*: The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations
I love this whole CD, and picked Stuck Between Stations as a representative track, not because it stands head and shoulders above the rest. You wouldn't be wrong to call this one "rollicking" and "a drunken good time" - in fact, I think I'm contractually obligated to call Hold Steady a sweaty, singalong bar band reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's early days.

14: Guster - One Man Wrecking Machine
Guster is one of M.Bro's favorites and I have her to thank for introducing this song to me. Poor, wretched Guster lead singer - it turns out high school was going to be the best time of his life, but he was too young and stupid to appreciate it then.

13: Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready to be Heartbroken
Sometimes music has conversations with itself. In 1986, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions asked if you were ready to be heartbroken. Camera Obscura, a Scottish band, said "sure, I guess," but with a voice that will melt your soul (not in a heavy-metal-riff way - in a mournful-singing way).



*Because I'll have however many I want to on my list.

Context online


I've linked you to Context before, but their online store went up about a half-hour ago AND they're having a massive post-holiday denim sale. You want to spend $100 on jeans, I know you do. The Nudie Regular Ralf Dry Greycast (which uses a different dye on the weft - the inside - of the denim than most jeans) is a screaming deal at $130, plus it's a really easy cut to wear - not too tight in the thighs and a very slight bootcut.

One pair of jeans you cannot buy from Context - cannot buy from an US-based store in fact - are my new Sugarcanes. M.Bro gave them to me for our family gift exchange last night, and she had to pay in Yen and have them shipped from Japan to get them. It's possible that I had a hand in this process. They're my first pair of Japanese repros - if you remember from a previous post, lots of Japanese companies bought looms from Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler when those companies moved to large-scale wide-loom (thus, non-selvage) production in the 1960s. Sugarcane makes historically-accurage reproductions of all of them, usually on the same looms the company used on the originals.

These are the SC1945, which is repro of Lee's 1945 "Cowboy Pants". They're cut differently than most of my jeans - less fitted in the seat, hips, and thighs, which is a much more traditional workwear-oriented cut. The construction details are fascinating - greenline selvage (Lee's traditional color - Levi's was red and Wrangler was blue), left-hand twill (the ridges run the opposite direction than whatever jeans you're wearing right now), wide pocket stance (so my wallet rides off to the side of my horse's saddle).

Just beautiful pantaloons.



Bleepitybloopbloopbleeepp: Breaking News



National disaster at unnamed New Year's Eve party - stay tuned for bloated, greasy details as we receive them.