21 January 2009

The Jams

For me, when there's a lot of work to be done, few things can motivate like the Ole' Punk Rock:

I love this record. It is an exercise in the pure simplicity of the excitement that is rock n' roll.

The house was such a mess this morning, but this slab on the turntable really gets me moving. I don't think Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Marky had housekeeping in mind when they recorded songs like "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", but what can I say, it works. Plus, this album is apparently very good blast-around-the-house-in-your-pajamas music if you happen to be a 2 year old boy.

Unlike many people who fell in love with punk, I didn't find it until my 20's. I got real into for a good few years and then, like any sensible grow-up, outgrew it. It did teach me one important lesson, though: the true beauty of art that is raw, visceral, quick and insistent. Few things are as exhilarating when they really reach you. I intend to teach the boy and his sister that lesson someday when they're old enough. Hopefully I can pull it off without embarrassing them too much, though that's unlikely.

Anyway, this record sent me digging in the closet as well. Our coat closet is deep, with two poles, one behind the other. On the deeper of the two, behind my Barbour, Chesterfield topcoat and Burberry Macintosh, I still keep this old thing:

My old leather jacket, lining shredded to pieces, threads hanging all over the place. Ironically enough, it's on a hanger from Simon's Copley Square.
On the back, the name of my old band. I painted it myself, and I did the other guys jackets, too. Very "Lords of Flatbush" (man, you should have seen my pompadour! I'll try to find a good photo to scan), and very goofy, but when we showed up to a gig out of town, we really looked like a band.

This blog is mostly about clothes, and frequently discussions arise about American men's traditional clothing. I'm going to be bold and say that the combination of black leather jacket, jeans and canvas sneakers is as traditional as anything. It may be the look of rebellion, but the "bad kids" invented it sixty years ago and its changed very little since, if at all. Its a look that is distinctly American and timeless, not unlike the blazer and button down.

Though I will almost certainly never wear it again, I will never get rid of this jacket. My grandfather had his old army uniform , and I have this, one last reminder of who I was and where I am coming from...well, this jacket and the records, which are still worth a listen sometimes.

Someday, if you ask nice, I'll show you my tattoos.


Anonymous said...

"It's a look that is distinctly American and timeless, not unlike the blazer and button down."

Give me the blazer and buttondown any day of the week!

Anonymous said...

You HAVE to post those pics!

We all want to be sedated...

Giuseppe said...


I'm definitely a blazer and button down guy myself, but I was young and silly once.

My point was only that "traditional" isn't neccesarily as narrow a term as it is often perceived. No good arguing only one side of the story.

Anonymous said...

I'm afriad that means that one day "traditional" will mean polyester jogging suits.

Jean Martha said...

LOL I have a similar jacket. I painted the words to a Todd Rundgren song on the back and the coat is covered in autographs...it has FRINGE! Fringe. Cringe. LOL

Giuseppe said...


Not really. Those were jumosuits were a fad that looked silly very quickly after they were popular. Black leather jackets have remained unchanged for a very long time, despite changes in trend and fad.

Isn't that the definition of a tradition to some degree?

My point with this post was to illustarte that just because something may not be to one's particular tatse does not make it any less valid. Terms like "classic" and "traditional" do not require that you like them.

I'm also trying to be honest about my background. Certain other bloggers I've read like to hide behind the anonymity of the internet and present an idealised version of themselves and their past. I've never liked that. Sure, I use an assumed name, but I've got the safety of my children to think of. I do like clothes alot, but striped ties and argyle socks are far from the only things that make up my personality.

Renovation Therapy,

It's like you said once "you can take the guy out of the Rock, but you can't take the Rock out of the guy."

Anonymous said...

If you think that polyester jogging suits were a fad that disappeared, you're certainly not living in Southern California.

Giuseppe said...

Nope, I'm in bitter cold Boston, where, thankfully, they never really caught on in the first place.

SCO said...

There's an interesting thread here, I think, in the relationship between American clothing traditions and understatement.

Mods wore darted jackets in oxblood sharkskin. Ivy League preps wore blue and grey.

UK82 is bright mohawks and bondage pants, while '77 is black leather jacket, jeans and Chuck Taylors.

Rockabilly wears a pompadour, Levi's and gingham. Psychobilly has neon fins and leapord print creepers.

As for me, I also have my old leather jacket hanging in the closet next to the Press blazer and the brown herringbone tweed.

Turling said...

If it's good enough for James Dean and Arthur Fonzarelli, it's good enough for me. Great jacket. Great excuse to get a bike (the motorized variety, that is).

Anonymous said...

This made me smile Guiseppe. You have a readership that is surprised by your rock and roll past. Not me, I still picture you with gunk in your hair and big sideburns.

Pitboss12 said...

For some reason when you mentioned punk in past posts I always assumed you meant East Coast Hardcore. I thought shaved head not pompadour.

"...the true beauty of art is raw, visceral, quick and insistent."

So true.

Anonymous said...

C'mon G., you should know that is original drummer Tommy on the first album. Love your blog, BTW.

Giuseppe said...

Damn! I always get Tommy and Marky confused.

Hill City Josh said...

Thank you for posting this. The Ramones were my first introduction to punk rock. In fact, my three year old son is named Jose Ramon for reasons I need not explain.

Jeanfi said...

I like the discussion because it relativise "Trad".
What is a traditional clothing ?
Here with our European point of view; USA is the land of denim and cowboys This is american trad ;-) Ok it's stereotype.
But you see what I mean. Leather bike jacket is as trad as jeans and as any typical suit of New England.
(sorry english is not my first language)