Monthly Archives: November 2010

Chop Style: Wool for Winter Part 1- The Pea Coat

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s getting pretty cold here in Baltimore. It’s getting to be freezing, actually, and you’re going to need some protection against the elements. From now until April you’d be damn foolish to leave the house without a coat or jacket. You’re going to want something warm, weatherproof and of course, high on style.

Fortunately, the Chop is here to keep you warm all winter long. Over the next few days, we’re going to present you with three solid style choices that are heavy enough to keep you warm, classic enough to carry you anywhere, neutral enough to match any outfit, and sophisticated enough to make anyone look damn good.

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin both display effortless cool in classic pea coats.

The men’s magazines and internet fashionistos waste many, many column inches every year debating the pros and cons of leather vs fabrics, which is great for them but not much help to the man on the street. They’ll tell you over and over how leather is classic, hard-wearing, heirloom quality, etc etc etc.

Since we’re big on blanket pronouncements, we’re going to go ahead and make one here: fuck leather. Don’t get us wrong, we’re still all for leather shoes and belts (although we are a little guilty about it), but to the Chop’s mind those are the only places a man should be wearing leather. (Okay, maybe gloves too.) Leather jackets carry way too many connotations of bikers, daddies, and 80’s cock-rock hair metal. If that’s the look you’re going for, then have at it, Gentle Reader. We don’t like it, and we wouldn’t buy it.

For the modern Maryland man, wool is all you need to see you through winter; this winter, next winter, and plenty of winters after. The only question left to be answered is do you want that wool in the shape of a coat or a jacket?

Okay. You're probably not looking at the coat anymore.

Why decide? The perfect pea coat will serve in place of both, since in a lot of ways, it is both. The differences are subtle, but there are plenty of types of peas generally available, and styles vary widely. Some have the short length, slim fit, and high neck of a jacket, and others the longer, fuller, scarf-friendly design of an overcoat. A classic cut will fall right in the middle, and be the best of both worlds.

There are plenty to choose from on sites like Overstock and Amazon, as well as well as at shops and malls around town. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping though:

  • 100% virgin wool is best. It’s also very hard to find and very expensive if you do find it. Even most high-end brands and department stores are selling wool-blends.
  • The higher the percentage of wool in the blend, the better. 60% should be the minimum you look for. Price and wool content are not necessarily directly proportional.
  • You get what you pay for, but only up to a point. Look to spend anywhere between $75 and $175. Less than that is too cheap, and more may just be pissing money away.
  • Look for a true double breast- meaning the coat has 2 sets of working buttons down the front.
  • Classic means simple and simple means classic. Stay away from unnecessary bells and whistles like shoulder straps, wrist straps, extra pockets and tons of buttons. Serge didn’t need that crap, and neither do you.

At sea or ashore, a classic pea is an ideal choice for any man looking to get into his first proper coat, or to upgrade his everyday coat to something more stylish. Black, gray, charcoal or navy, you’ll spend the winter looking as good as you feel.

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Best Bets: Christmas Shopping at the AVAM Sideshow

Remember the first time you ate at Paper Moon Diner? You were probably in your first year of college, or maybe it was even over the summer in high school. Remember how you had to put your name on a list, and amuse yourself outside for like half an hour while you waited for a table? Remember how all the girls were unabashed about making eyes at the dessert case and how it was a big discussion whether or not to sit in the smoking section?

Most of all, remember the first time you saw all those toys?

Of course you do. You had a good buzz on. Maybe you were even a little high, and you sat down in there and had to put forth a Herculean effort not to roam around the dining room touching everything you could reach, putting figures in dirty poses and telling everyone crap stories from your childhood. You did that. We all did that.

The Sideshow gift shop at the AVAM has toys for kids from 6 to 66.

That, Baltimore, is the very same feeling you will get the first time you step foot into the Sideshow, the gift shop at the American Visionary Art Museum.

Far from your typical museum gift shop, the Sideshow’s curiosities rival the museum itself. Part Dime Museum, part Toys-R-Us, and part Art Mart, this place is literally a one-stop non-mall Christmas shop with gifts for kids from six to sixty-six.

The last time the Chop was down that way, the Sideshow was closed because it was nighttime and the time before that the place was packed because the museum was free, so we didn’t spend as much time browsing and playing around as we might have liked, but we were definitely impressed enough that we’re planning to make a separate trip down there just to see the gift shop, which you can do without paying for admission to the museum.

This time we’re going to block out at least a solid hour for playing and perusing among their shelves, which are densely packed from floor to ceiling with everything from the highbrow (art books, tea sets) to the lowbrow (plastic dog poop, fake vomit) and everything in between. We can’t wait to get a proper look at all those toys, as well as their selection of original artworks and goods curated from around the world. We’re also especially interested in their archive of screen printed posters from indie rock shows around the country, which are art in their own right and suitable for framing.

We’re going to be bringing two lists with us when we go: one of the people we’ll need to shop for for Christmas, and a blank list for all the stuff in there we’re going to want.

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Sideshow at the Visionary is located at 800 Key Highway in Federal Hill. 443-872-4926. Of course, we’re not actually going today, because like everything else in this crummy town they are closed on Mondays. Their hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm.

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House Rules: Is This a Date?

It’s a thoroughly modern world these days, Baltimore. The days of presenting debutantes, old-fashioned courtships and calling cards are by and large over, and they’re not coming back any time soon. Likewise the ideas about dating that a lot of us grew up with are also fallen by the wayside. Flowers and candy and dinner-and-a-movie can often seem as stale and corny as Chuck Woolery’s hairpiece.

The generation behind ours is also thoroughly mucking things up with their whole hangout-and-hookup dynamic, not to mention text and IM and “it’s complicated.” Even lately we’ve been out with grown women who were attractive and pleasant, yet claim to never have been taken on a proper date, which is astounding, confusing, and more than a little sad.

Are these two on a date? Does it matter?

Brett McKay over at the Art of Manliness takes the old school approach to asking someone out, and even thinks it will make you a better man. We subscribe to most of what they say, even though their advice is from the 1950’s. But the McKays are from Oklahoma, where dating options are limited, and they were married very young, so we take their advice with a grain of salt, too.

The truth is that no matter how straightforward you might be you will, sooner or later, find yourself sitting across from someone not knowing whether what you’re doing is or is not a date.

You can always ask, of course. Asking is not the worst thing in the world, as a gentleman doesn’t assume anything one way or the other, but before you do you’ll need to have decided how you feel as well as how you might react to all possible answers. If your pseudo-date is going relatively well, asking what it is can be an awkward moment at best, and can grind it right to a halt at worst.

So when you find yourself next to a beautiful, charming, exciting, intelligent, urbane, and all-around wonderful woman- as the Chop does from time to time- we say it’s best to just shut up and enjoy it. Be glad that she’s there and glad that you’re alive. Be happy for the conversation, for the connection and the evening; the rest will work itself out.

Whether or not you’re on an actual date is unimportant. What really matters is that you make sure it goes well and that you both enjoy it. Do that, and you’ll know very soon whether or not it was a date, and you’ll be delighted when you find out that it was.

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House Rules: Bring the Bum’s Cooler to Baltimore!

Over the summer, when we were in the Middle East, one of the other Americans we were working with happened to be from South Florida. Now, we know some of you are probably rolling your eyes and groaning just at the mention of South Florida, but hear us out on this one.

This guy, who we’ll call Broward, was kind of an anomaly in that he was actually from South Florida, and was neither a Miami clubfuck or a retired New Yorker. In fact, he probably would have got along quite well in Baltimore.

Broward was about our age, and with the world being as small as it is, we’d actually met him before this trip. Anyway, we got to talking one day, and the conversation had turned to beer and bars and so on, when he told us of a certain bar in his home town which had hit on an absolutely genius idea.

Being down and out is no reason to go thirsty.

This particular bar was located directly across from a greyhound racing track. So when he described it as a dive, you can believe it was a real, genuine dive. It was the kind of place that was open from 6 am until last call every day; where trucker hats are worn without irony and people go to cure the shakes. It was the kind of place where people who lose bets on dog races hang out, and where the bartender would sometimes do customers the favor of cashing their social security checks for them.

But this bar had one thing going for it: The Bum’s Cooler.

Here’s how it works- the Bum’s Cooler sits behind the bar and is stocked with 3 types of canned beer; PBR, Milwaukee’s Best, and Icehouse. For one American Dollar ($1), the bartender will reach into the Bum’s Cooler and grab a can at random to serve you. No happy hour, no specials, just random one dollar swill beers, every day, all day. Don’t like Icehouse? Drink it fast and hope for a PBR next time. Don’t like PBR? Spend two more bucks for a good beer, you bum.

Needless to say, the Bum’s Cooler must be brought to Baltimore as soon as possible. We’ve already imported some of South Florida’s worst ideas, and we say it’s high time we brought in a good one.

If any local bar owner will fill a cooler full of Boh, PBR, and High Life, we promise to sit in there from open to close playing keno and piling up as many empty cans as possible.

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Reptilian Records Retrospective @ Windup Space Tonight

You know, we just don’t hear the phrase “Hail Satan” often enough anymore.

Time was when you could walk down any street in Fells Point on a Sunday afternoon and cross a group of kids with bags of records in hand walking around on nearly every block. The common parlance in those days wasn’t “Hello” or “How do you do?” It was Hail Satan. It was the Dark Lord Himself who provided free pizza in those days, as well as coffee and protection from alcoholic bums.

Reptilian Records hosts a retrospective at the Windup Space tonight. 9 pm.

Reptilian still exists in some form. Much like Lucifer, it cannot ever truly die, but it’s powers have weakened severely in recent years. There’s a website, and even a facebook presence, and the label is still a somewhat active entity in conjunction with the Scapegoat Publishing imprint.

Sadly though, this is only a shadow of the demonic glory that was Reptilian in the Fells Point years. We remember when they sold not only records and CD’s, but also cassettes and VHS, not to mention comics, toys and t-shirts as well as hosting live shows and running the biggest and best label in the area.

We can only hope that tonight’s retrospective at the Windup Space will recapture some of the dark powers of the Salute to Satan events of old. Marking Reptilian’s 21st unholy anniversary, this one-night-only event could easily be the centerpiece exhibit in a museum of mid-atlantic punk. Just looking over some of the online photos we recognized a lot of friends looking young and dumb and up the punx, but thankfully no photos of the Chop in there.

Aside from pics at the store, there will also be photos and video from shows at some of Baltimore’s Dead Venues, as well as the premiere of the Upper Crust DVD, which was shot at the Ottobar so long ago that we’ve already forgot what year it was, and perhaps a few other surprises, Hail Satan.

If you grew up punk in Baltimore, you’re going to need to come by tonight for what will feel more like a family reunion than anything else. This is what holidays are all about, and tonight promises to be the blackest Black Friday yet.

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Windup Space is located at 12 W. North Ave. in Station North.

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Happy Thanksgiving From The Baltimore Chop

It’s been a few years since we were around for the holidays. We’ve been all over the world, but there’s nothing out there quite like Thanksgiving dinner with a large and happy family.

Here’s hoping that you’ve got plenty for which to be thankful. We certainly do.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Pat Me Down Slowly, It Feels So Good Edition

Most people view Thanksgiving as a one day event focused around Turkey and trimmings. To these people we say “What the hell is the matter with you? You’re missing the point entirely!”

The truth of the matter is that Thanksgiving is a holiday that takes no less than three full days to observe properly. These three days highlight all the best of what it means to be an American, and with one of these elements missing, our 3 legged cultural stool would topple instantly. Thursday is of course all about food. Feasting is the order of the day, and failing to eat your weight in carbs is downright un-American. If Thursday is all about gluttony, then Friday is set aside for greed. We buy things because we want them; because they’re on sale, because we can.

Wednesday, however, is our favorite night of the three. It’s the night when people come home from wherever they’ve been and we all go out and drink. And what better place is there to drink tonight than the Laughing Pint with the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally?

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally chapter meets at the Laughing Pint tonight. 7 pm until... ?

And we may as well talk turkey, since with all the lame ducks around there’s not much happening in Washington these days. All that anyone in the media seems to want to report on lately is the TSA and their army of perverts who are groping our grandmas and molesting our mothers on a daily basis.

We’re truly sick of hearing stupid statements like “Well, it’s better than having a bomb on your plane.” or “Rape-iscan machines give you cancer!” or the dumbest of all “Well, if you don’t like it, just don’t fly. It’s that simple!” Would that it were, but the world is not just that simple, and life doesn’t work that way.

These searches may be awful, but hearing about them every day is as awful, and lasts a lot longer.

One thing we’re not sick of hearing about though is Good Time Charlie going to the well. We didn’t think much of the charges they stuck on Charlie Rangel. Apartments this and stationery that… none of it was really that scandalous. At the same time though, Rangel is an argument for term limits if there ever was one. Uncle Charlie is 80 years old now, and has just been elected easily to another term after 40 years in congress.

This guy is a product of an old Democratic machine system which, for the most part, doesn’t really exist anymore except in the deep down nitty-gritty old school neighborhoods of east coast cities, a perfect example of which is Harlem. Rangel doesn’t so much represent Harlem as he does lord over it in a kingly fashion. When he fianlly does fall over and die, rest assured that he will have hand-picked his successor for the next 50 years.

Don’t get it wrong, we like Charlie and his voting record okay, but we also don’t really like him much at all. He’s less venerable old statesman and more crazy old goat, and when he’s called to the well of the house and roundly chastised, you can believe the Chop will be tuning into C-Span on the big screen, popcorn in hand.

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Laughing Pint is located at 3531 Gough St. (corner of Conkling) in Highlandtown. (410) 342-6544

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