Friday 10th April

| BY 10Magazine

Flashback Friday A Meeting Of Minds

Glenn O’Brien and Max Blagg are old friends who share an interest
in things both shallow and deep, from the poetry of the New York
School to designer clothing. They haven’t seen much of each other since
the plug was pulled on their legendary magazine Bald Ego, but at the request of the Queen of Greeks and the Ginger Tom they shared this recent e-mail chit chat.

I.

Dear
Max,

I’ve noticed that on these neo-dandy websites there seems to be a lot of
curiosity about what other men are wearing which seems to serve as a cover for
personal bragging and luxury brand name dropping. (Maybe they are even
cruising. Gasp!) Take “Ask X* About Clothes,” please.  The number one topic on that sad site
currently is “What are you wearing today?” with 15, 544 replies and
1, 320, 080 page views. A similar site “Style Forum” asks “What
are you wearing right now!” with thousands of responses since the coffee
went on this morning.  With that level of
exclusivity one wonders why these mondains don’t simply look out the window or
maybe take a ride on the subway. I suppose they can’t see out of their cubicles
and are stuck there until lunch. But I do wonder what Max Blagg,, among other
fop titans, is wearing today?

Fondly, Glenn,

*Name
deleted. Why break a butterfly on a wheel?

II.

Dear
Glenn,

I feel like changing into some name brands before I answer this note,
but it’s already after twelve and still not out of this old Fredericks’
negligee. I’ve been up since dawn, trying to find a satisfactory last line for
a poem that includes both Chuck Yeager and Oscar Wilde. Pretentious, moi? Chuck
is wearing a vintage leather USAF- issue genuine mouton sheepskin flying jacket
for high altitude flight, officers’ cashmere-lined parachute pants with five
cargo pockets and high top lace-up flight boots. Oscar is still waiting for his
Swaine Adeney Brigg trunk to arrive from Blighty, and meantime making do with
an old bottle green velvet frock coat from Moss Brothers paired with Gieves
& Hawkes glen plaid trousers tailored from wool handspun by widows in the
Orkney islands. He just doffed his hat to a passing stable boy and the label
reads ‘Lock of St. James’. They’re on the same street as his luggage guy.
DELETE It’s balmy out this morning so I’m wearing Ralph Lauren chalk stripe
vest over Lanvin striped shirt under Emile Lafaurie striped sport jacket-it
looks like a gypsy collided with a deck chair but I like the stripes, very
slimming. Ditto effect from the Uniqulo low price/high quality jeans and black
leather lace up ankle boots bought on sale at a cheesy Italian store named
after a famous fop, on West Broadway. And what welter of fine brands are you
sporting today?

Most fondly,  M,

III.

Dear
Maximus,

At the time you replied I was wearing an old flowered shirt by APC. I
must have been thinking of you because your regular wear of flowered shirts, in
the best Swinging London tradition, always seemed cool to me.  Giving you a sort of Our Man Flint feel.  I was
also wearing a new Dunhill suit which was an unexpected gift from that company.
Thanks Dunhill!  They wanted a quote from
me and I gave them something about my old Dunhill suits.  I particularly liked a single breasted peak
lapel suit of theirs that I got from Barneys when I was doing their ads.  I thought it was very “license to
kill.” When I went to pick out my new one I discovered that they still do
a nice peak lapel single breasted model and yesterday I wore it for the first
time. It’s my second non-bespoke suit in a decade but it fits like it was made
for me.  One button, light gray with
white stripes.  I was also wearing my new
Belgian shoes, olive suede with black piping.
I wore this ensemble to dinner at Indochine and when I got home I
watched a film about Beau Brummel,
apparently a BBC TV movie,
starring James Purefoy [Marc Antony on HBO’s Rome] as the Beau, Matthew
Reese as an improbable Lord Byron and Hugh Bonneville as the Prince of Wales.
Bonneville was pretty good but not fat enough.
It’s a part crying out for Stephen Fry. (Now he did right by the divine
Oscar!)  Purefoy is handsome, as the Beau
was, but doesn’t summon the proper hauteur.
Jude Law could have pulled it off.
Anyway, the writing is bad and the direction worse.  Maybe it’s not possible for a woman, in this
case a Philippa Lowthorpe,  to make a
film about dandies.  Maybe it would help
if she changed the name to Hautethorpe. Love to see Tom Ford do Brummell. Even
the clothes here were wrong. The trousers needed to be tight and you couldn’t
even tell which side the Beau was dressing on. After the mangling of the scene
when Byron says of the Prince of Wales in his earshot “Who’s your fat
friend Avenley?” I finally turned it off and began reading The Life &
Times of Beau Brummell which happened to be on the bedside table. A marvelous
book which captures some of the importance of Brummell as a social
revolutionary.  He was the first
celebrity,  the first commoner of great
power.  We need someone like that now who
can challenge the system just by being himself.

Glenn

IV.

Dear
Glenn,

It’s morning here so I wanted to ask you about slippers. Can one
honestly wear them, and if so, what brands do you recommend? Can the wrong pair
ruin a relationship, if one’s partner is confronted by fluffy faux sheepskin
shufflers too early in the morning? Is the wearing of slippers in fact linked
to age and decrepitude? Are they, in a reversal of the Speedo limit [25 years
or under], only to be worn late in life? And what of mules,  mules trimmed with pink fur?, What kind of
statement are they making, if any? This Stumptown coffee is poking me in the
third eye. Your pensées intimes on
footwear and feet, please.

Regards,  M

V.

Dear
Blaggy,

At the moment I’m wearing gray checked Paul Smith pajamas with lavender
piping and Loro Piana cashmere slippers, a Christmas gift from the Mrs..  My third pair of these incomparably comfy chaussures,  which are too hard to come by. I’ve worn two
pairs into glorious rags.  Most men with
the nerve to wear slippers instead of flip flops wear those sad stretch socks
with rubber soles or moccasins lined with faux sheepskin. Real sheepsking mocs
are very American dad.  Mules?  Why not?
A gentleman wears slippers.  As
you know I wear them on the street, being addicted to Belgian shoes because of
self-indulgent feet.  I prefer the Mr.
Casual model and I wear them till the calfskin soles scuff up and then have the
cobbler put on Vibram soles.  I have them
in calf in black,  brown and navy,  in wool in gray and two tartans,  one a Black Watch which matches my favorite
raincoat.  Unfortunately when I wear my
street slippers it seems to be a way of making it rain.  Funny, I can picture you in pink fur
mules,  with your big cyclist’s legs.
Reminds me of those parties at the beach where the husbands and wives traded
clothes.  Except for Keith Sonnier, of
course, who bought his in the big girls department at K-Mart.

Glenn

VI.

Dear Glenn,

Do you know how difficult it is to pedal in mules? And my legs are ‘shapely’ rather than ‘big’.
Glad we got that cleared up. You know I stopped wearing drag after one of those
parties –and we didn’t drag it to the beach, we stayed indoors if I recall,
well away from the windows, because our neighbors were rather superstitious  Polish farmers. Nelly [my daughter] who was
six at the time, flipped out when she saw me in that sleeveless  black and white Miyake  number which I had accessorized with the
wife’s pearls and black elbow length gloves. The child tore the gloves off in a
rage even though I was wearing combat boots as opposed to mules, to offset any
hint of effeminacy. Nelly wasn’t having any. I looked worse than Grayson Perry
anyway. I’ve never worn womens’ shoes more than briefly, but I do adore them. I
still have those Louboutins I got from Grace Coddington’s yard sale years ago.
Haha that was such a Hamptons yard sale, and the women fighting over anything
with a label, even empty Chanel shoeboxes, their savagery delightful to
observe! Keith Sonnier currently has an exquisite show up at Mary Boone, and at
the opening Mary was featuring some very tasteful Manolo slingbacks  in a positively vaginal pink.  They say she has bought an extra apartment
for her incredible and enormous footwear collection.  That’s a show I’d like to curate. Speaking of
Hamptonia, [I really wanted to say, ‘Speaking of curates,’ and segue into some
anti-ecclesiastical rant] I was out there a couple of weeks ago, staying just
down the street from your former House of Mirth. After a couple of very restful
days, we were just getting on the road to Manhattan when I was pulled over by
John Law in Southampton.  For some reason
I hadn’t noticed the 35mph sign and was allegedly doing 50 in the speedy little
Mini Cooper. I thought well, never got a ticket before, and I’m not drunk, how
bad could it be? Bad! $375 worth! I could get half a pair of Louboutins for
that! And the idea of filling Southampton Town’s coffers with my money enraged
me, you know I’ve had finance issues since I was an intern for Lord Byron.  Anyway, I am lawyered up and will contest the
matter in Hamptonia’s High court next month. That Dunhill suit sounds tasty,
maybe I will borrow it for my appearance.
Isn’t it odd how I always crave your clothes, I think it’s the
youngest-of-twelve syndrome, all the older siblings  always giving me stuff, food, clothing,
bicycles. Not as bad as Dylan Thomas though, who would rummage uninvited in his
friends’ closets, get decked out in their clothes and simply keep them, leave
his old rotting tweeds behind.

But
I digress. Back to slippers, or mules. I was looking for a tasty pair, perhaps
trimmed in fur, last Christmas, and found myself wondering why there are four
high end lingerie stores within two blocks in Soho, not to mention the Toys in Babeland franchise right next to
my grocer. The lingerinos sell sex accessories too, a couple of them. Probably
catering to the hedge funders who have no clue how to get laid. Silver dildoes
and silk panties to enable the greedy pond scum, haha, in the words of the late,
great, Tennessee Williams, “Don’t make me commence!”

Love,  M

VII.

Dear Blaggy,

Had lunch with a client today so I wore the old gray Anderson
& Sheppard gray suit in that magic fabric that never wrinkles, an old
Charvet checked shirt in pink and baby blue and an equally old Hermes tie with
butterflies and lotuses in a sort of ashy pink and blue and pink striped Paul
Smith socks and blue Belgian shoes.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of
wearing blue shoes, although when I saw my old accountant in blue shoes I fired
him. Good thing. I think he had a hand in the financial decline of Annie
Liebowitz.  Anyway I got a compliment from my dentist on the look.
Then, out of my mind on pain killers and numb from novocaine, I went to Brooks
Brothers and tried on a Thom Browne suit at 50% off.  It made me look like
I had Robert Benchley’s body, so I went down and bought a pair of Peal
spectators at half off. I liked the dykey old saleslady in a Black Watch kilt
kneeling at my feet who said “Only seven weeks till you can wear these.”
You know I took Kate Moss to Brooks Brothers once. They went crazy later when
management found out they’d told her they couldn’t fit her in a boy’s
seersucker suit.  Anyway I’m so glad not to be in the House of Mirth [in
Bridgehampton] anymore.  I felt like the mirth was all gone by the time I
left.  I knew I made the right move when I went to Duncan Hannah’s
girlfriend’s annual housewares sale, where she sells all those quaint English
country things, and Tom Schiller showed up.  He was there at the best of
our beatnik parties at the beach. I still think he could be the funniest man in
America and he’s my neighbor now in the quaint New England village and he makes
the big money same way I do—anonymous TV commercials.  In Connecticut we
have gorgeous state troopers.  One of them saved my life once, changing
the tire on my Mercedes so deep in the woods that the Benzo Driver’s Assistance
told me I was out of luck.  The Connecticut troopers have very snazzy
black and gray uniforms and look very military. Which reminds me, do you know
who made the uniforms for the SS?  Hugo Boss!  They were designed by
SS-Oberfuhrer Prof. Karl Diebitsch and graphic designer Walter Heck.  I
love that in Italy the police uniforms were designed by Armani and the Carabinieri
by Valentino.  Perfect.  If I were running the Defense Department for
Obama I’d give the navy to Gaultier, the Army to Thom Browne, the Marines to
Rick Owens and the Air Force to Adam Kimmel.  And speaking of Obama, I
can’t believe how everything he’s trying to do for the American people is being
shot down by the Republicans who absolutely will not compromise.  If I
were Obama I would grow a big Afro and start wearing one of those black leather
jackets like Huey Newton wore.  He’s been far too polite. And maybe those
Eldridge Cleaver codpiece trousers. That would get a rise out of the
opposition.

VIII

Dear Glenn,

I will try to address the
welter of information contained in your last note. First, why did Eldridge  Cleaver
suddenly switch from politics to fashion? Especially after he said, and
I quote,” one
of the most obnoxious things that is happening today is what the homosexuals
are doing to our clothing!” Perhaps he was trying to rescue fashion from the
iron grip of the homosexualists. Fat chance, Mary!. I
think maybe he did a bit too much acid while he was holed up in Algiers with
that trippy dipshit Timmy Leary. In revolutionary splendor at the Hotel Aletti,
Algeria’s  answer to Claridge’s, where
I’d like to be shackled I mean shacked up with Natalie and Frankie. I wonder if
you can find those codpiece pants on E-Bay. I did find way too much info about
Cleaver, who, apart from designing those ugly pants, with the almost marsupial
pouch that could safely house a couple of pounds of cod, was also at various
times a Moonie, a Reaganite and then a crack addict. I guess the ice melted and
his soul sank to the bottom of the loon lake he skated on. And thanks for the
info on Hugo Boss, with a stylized lightning strike, sibilant double ‘s’! I had
no idea Hugo himself  designed and
manufactured those stylish black uniforms, but wasn’t he an actual working
member of the SS, not merely a designer of tight fitting military
clothing?  That bitch Diebitch  [is that pronounced ‘Deebitch’ or ‘Die,
bitch!’ ?] was definitely on the Totenkopfer team. The midnight black was very
striking, contrasting nicely with the silver deathshead emblem too, but hell to
wear in warm weather, so the SS switched to a fetching but still ominous dove
grey, and gave the sweaty black uniforms to collaborating cops in countries
they had just invaded.  Current Boss
tailoring doesn’t fit me well on the shoulders anyway. I’d rather talk about
fashion than police but I’m still annoyed about that speeding ticket, because I
can usually smell coppers when I’m on the road. I get an odd metallic taste in
my mouth, like chewing on a belt buckle, and there’s an indefinable reek, akin
to the odor of double weight serge in high summer. I take my foot off the gas,
because sure enough, up ahead there’s invariably a black & white crouched
in the median, or concealed in the foliage like some evil magpie preparing to
peck at your wallet. I’ve disliked the police from an early age, since they
often came round the house looking for my brother Jake.  I remember the penile silhouette of the
standard Peeler helmet in the frosted glass of the front door as if it were
yesterday. Jake told me their heads went to the top of their helmets and I
believed that for years. I’m rather aghast at your lovefest with the Connecticut
troopers, I really don’t see the adjective ‘gorgeous’ being applied to any
American cop, most of whom feature a low riding convex shape usually associated
with a constant diet of donuts. Any designer is going to have to incorporate a
lot of stretch fabric and maybe even some form of corsetry to obtain a decent
silhouette. But
enough about the Filth. I need stew meat from Ottomanelli’s so I shall pedal
off  to Bleecker Street. Out the window I
can see my bike chained up right next to Jay-Z’s Maybach, with its twee little
window curtains, waiting to take him and/or Beyoncé anywhere they want. I bet
he envies me, freely wheeling around the Village, buying my own stewing steak
and cooking it up with parsnips and collard greens and Yukon gold spuds, instead
of having my meals prepared by minions, while other minions make my bed, iron
my shirts! Haha, chances that Jay-Z prefers a bike to a limo, anonymity to
fame, about a minion to one. I leave you to your trooper in the woods and still
maintain you are mad to have left the beauty of Atlantic beaches, always
deserted by the magic hour, the hedgefunders
dragging their trophy wives to some stiffnecked benefit while we stay
behind in the golden hour, light the bonfire, grill the handcaught striped bass
and gossip freely, some of us raising a glass of Chardonnay to that noble
oenophile from whose small vineyard we occasionally bought wine on Sundays when
the liquor stores were closed. He died a grisly death last year, in Brazil,
sliced and diced  by a speedboat while
swimming in crystal clear waters. A little Brazilian bird said it was no
accident.  I’d ask Dominick Dunne to
confirm,  but he’s dead too.

Stay well, M

IX.

Dear Maxswell,

Truth be
told I never thought a copper gorge until I was rescued on a cold midnight road
where bears and mountain lions prowl, after being stood up by both Mercedes
Roadside Assistance and the Allstate Motor Club, which latter I resigned
immediately.  In retrospect my rescuer was merely handsome, crew cut and
straight from Iraq.  I too have had a lifelong aversion to the coppers.
My first arrest was with the entire St. Ignatius High School football
squad when we were holding an informal off-season work out at a public high
school facility.  Trespassing, they said, and hauled us off in every squad
car they had.  Coach had to come bail us out. The Rocky River, Ohio cops
probably nabbed us because we were number one in the state.  I won’t
comment on any subsequent arrests, but I still contend that my mug shot from
St. Patrick’s Day 1982 is the best photo ever taken of me. I was the only
whitey in the lockup that night.   My real fear of cops dates back to the
hippie days when they’d pull you over just for having long hair or a peace
sticker on your Volkswagen.  I was afraid to drive through Philadelphia
during the sixties because of their police brutality culture. I still find
Pennsylvania state troopers to be fascist creeps.  I get a speeding ticket
every year on Interstate 80 coming back from visiting the in-laws after
Christmas.  But some cops aren’t so bad.  When I tended bar in DC a
young local cop used to come by at closing time to walk us to the bank night
depository and smoke a joint with us.  And I still remember the retired
New York City cop who was working as an insurance investigator and came to
interview me after my old Toyota Corolla struck a wino running across eighth
avenue with a fistfull of dollars against the light.  The bum got a broken
leg, found a lawyer and sued me for a million bucks or something and I was
rather poor at the time.  The old cop said, “I hate to say this, son,
but you should have killed the guy.”  Speaking of Maybachs, I read in
the N.Y. Post this morning that P. Diddy bought one for his son. Isn’t he
worried about spoiling him?  I wouldn’t have gone beyond an A6, even if
you’re training him to pimp. As for stew, I highly recommend ox tails.
Chris Blackwell served us one at his Jamaican rancho Pantrepant recently,
saying “I don’t want to put you off your food but this tail was wagging
yesterday.”  Mmm.  As for second homes, I don’t regret leaving
the Hamptons one bit, except for my membership in the Noyac Golf Club.  I
couldn’t take the road rage, and that was just in the supermarket.  Which
reminds me of Hamptons cops.  I remember them directing traffic very
obnoxiously during that horrific equestrian event in Bridgehampton and blasting
NWA’s “Fuck the Police” as loud as my Bose auto speakers would kick
it.  I still love that song.  Anyway, vis a vis the Hamptons, the
tsunami is long overdue or there is no Poseidon.  But I do remember that
grower. Channing Daughters proprietor, wasn’t he?  They made a decent
plonk.  If any Hamptons vintner deserved to be garotted by Cigarette boat
it was the owner of the Bridgehampton Winery. I didn’t know him but the wine was
that bad.  I do miss hoisting a few with you.  Is your interminable
drought about mood or the liver?  How long do you want to live anyway?

X.

Dear Glenn,

It’s more mood than liver now, though when that cop looked at my driver’s
license he turned it over and it said “Organ donation: Eyes only.” Like Susan
Hayward, I want to live, and drink seemed liable to foreshorten that plan by a
few years. In my cups once I attacked the wisteria with an axe, and almost
chopped off my foot. Or was that something Bacchus directed some other drunk to
do? Yes, by typing “Bacchus axe vine” into my Googly engine, I get the name
immediately. ‘Twas old King Lycurgus who chopped up his own son while tripping
on veeno. Is that where the word ‘lysergic’ comes from? I also discovered that
Bacchus, aka Dionysus, was almost raped by sailors when he was a boy, being
inordinately pretty. How thrilling! Which then reminds me of a poem by the late
great James Schuyler, wherein the narrator, fully engaged with some apelike
sailor he has picked up on 23rd street, abruptly raises his head
from the pillow and says “I order you back to your ship’. For some reason I
find this hysterically funny. Schuyler had a problem with drink, too, they gave
him Antabuse. Haha I’d rather remain shitfaced than take that shit. Lenny
Bruce, who also used drugs, once remarked on the subject of quitting, “You
won’t live longer, it’ll just feel longer,” or words to that effect, implying
the boredom of not being fully loaded. But you know I’m still a member of that
Moravian society to which William  Blake
and his mother belonged, and I want to be fully conscious every time I open
that portal to heaven. Haha I am speaking in tongues, let’s not go there. I
hinted at the wrong vintner by the way, it was that affable German, Christian
W. who was attacked by a speedboat in Brazil, not the good Channing father. We
did buy our Sunday guzzle from Channing Daughters though, and lovely people
they are, like many who cultivate the delicate fruits of Bacchus. I love that
sexy god, especially as depicted by Caravaggio, and I recall your well-oiled
advice one not so soi-distant summer night, “If you’re not gonna drink the
god’s brew, at least pour a libation on the ground for him.” And I did, and
still do. Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.

Love M.

Taken from Ten Men, Issue 22

By Glenn O’Brien and Max Blagg