Rants & Raves, July-August 2010

• White plastic Swatch watches worn against tanned skin
• Watching and then re-watching the Jonathan Meades DVD Collection
• Menswear that is meteorological
• Swifts and swallows in evening skies.
• The new paper stock and page size of Rapha’s Rouleur magazine.
• The Middle Class Handbook
• The first instance of wearing something woolly after the summer months. #ViveL’Automne
• Things that are “bodged”
• Navy blue chinos with brown buttons
• BerlinHausHoch magazine
• Walton Ford’s Bestiarium
• James Cauty’s Design Solutions web site:
• Wearing a pocket square in your blazer with absolutely no regard for the correct way of doing so, while simultaneously ignoring all those pocket-square how-to diagrams in men’s fashion magazines
• How-to diagrams in style magazines in general
• “Apocalypse Now”, which on reflection has more explosions but isn’t quite as good as “Heart Of Darkness”
• Sound-blocking earplugs (eg foam, wax) that don’t block sound as well as they might.
• The Feeling of Confusion over whether to like Andy Schleck for being a good sportsman and decent man, or whether to lament him for not having the killer instinct required to beat Alberto Contador in the Tour De France. #Furtive
• People who say, “yeah I do a bit of DJing on the side too…”
• Pro-Croatstination: the knowledge that you really ought to go to Croatia on holiday now that evertone else is, but can't quite get round booking it
• Using the word “très” instead of very, so as to impart an air cosmopolitan  urbanity
• Attempting but failing to grow household fresh herbs (dill, rocket  etc) in plastic pots on the windowsill. #Despair
• Arm wrestling with your boss when drunk
• Magazine articles heralding the arrival of “A New Breed of” something that has usually been in existence for quite a long time already. 

Flâneuring For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It

The former Iraqi embassy in East Berlin. By Andreas Lux
Notes on the pleasure of Flaning; a form of urban walking named after a type of cake; unsuitable for visits to St Albans. By David Baker

Three years ago I got lost on Hampstead Heath. It was a December morning and I was clearing my head after another Christmas party when I realised that I had no idea where I was. I’d walked the Heath many times before but somehow – maybe it was the light, maybe it was because I was still half asleep – as I walked through a little copse of trees everything looked brand new and unfamiliar.
The sun was no use, hidden somewhere behind a watery grey sky. And when I strained my ears to hear where the nearest road might be, all I heard was the wind in the branches.
But instead of the usual fretting that getting lost in a city brings on – Will we make it to so-and-so's on time? Why do all the roads in Balham look the same? – discovering I was lost on the Heath was weirdly comforting. And when I found myself popping out somewhere near Highgate, that pleasant feeling stayed with me.

Death In The Afternoon

A brief account of the victims of Ziggy the domestic cat. By Paul Rider
There are ups and downs to owning a cat. The ups are companionship, relaxation, interesting chats and disposing of flies/wasps. The downs are medical bills, considering who’s gonna feed them when going on hols, and being too clingy at times. But the hunting side – it’s hard to judge whether that’s a positive or negative. A cat hunts through instinct even though they don't actually need to eat their catch. They munch on a big bowl of processed biscuits or tripe, then prowl the gardens like lions looking for birds. You cannot stop them, besides hanging a bell round their necks, which is just wrong. But you kind of admire the ability, the determination and the loyalty of bringing something dead home as a gift to the owner, at the same time pitying the poor defenceless victim.

Adventures in Morse Code

Some interesting thoughts about an old-fashioned comms tech that was the Tw*tt*r of its day. By Nick Sullivan
Samuel Finley Breese Morse clearly missed a trick. If only he had given Harold Bride, the doomed telegraph operator on the equally doomed RMS Titanic, the wherewithal to beef up his SOS message (perhaps with an emoticon or two, maybe a smiley being eaten by a shark or treading water) then perhaps the whole dour story of the Titanic’s maiden voyage to the bottom of the North Atlantic might have been leavened a touch.
If only Morse, having sent the first ever Morse telegraphy message in January 1841 “What hath God wraught?”, from Baltimore to Washington DC, had appended “touchin cloth.gotta go@ bog” as an afterthought, then he might have caught some of the instant charm of Twitter too. Still, with a 150-year head start on text messaging, Morse was clearly not a complete chump. He did manage to jump on the telegraph bandwagon and create a blissfully simple binary language that could eventually be transmitted round the world in a matter of seconds and provide a system of emergency and covert communication.

Discovering Biltong

One rational pessimist’s journey up the grastronomic Congo and deep into the heart of foodie darkness. By Neil Boorman
Various biltong options offered
A woman plans to leave the marital home for the weekend to visit her parents, opening a two-day window of freedom for the man. In the build-up to the event, the man imagines the debauched possibilities he could indulge in and get away with. The weekend becomes a beacon of hope, yet when Saturday finally comes, the orgy of vice never transpires, and he finds himself eating a greasy curry in bed.
Why would a grown man subconsciously associate junk food and poor hygiene with freedom? Because he is a nihilistic hedonist – he just doesn’t know it yet. Emasculated by society, enslaved by machines and impoverished by his paymasters, the only sane option is to self-destruct. It’s a kind of rational pessimism. Knowing there’s no real chance of bucking the corporate system, the nihilistic hedonist accepts his miserable fate, but vows to go out all guns blazing.
There are two ways a man can go about it. If you’re the kind of guy who’s glass (and wallet) is half full, you could pursue death by luxury. Marco Ferreri’s “La Grande Bouffe” is the key reference here: a group of men hire a master chef and a gaggle of prostitutes and retreat to a remote chateau. At which point they resolve to, and succeed in, eating and shagging themselves to death. It’s quite a scene.

In Defence Of Air Dogs

Simon and his dog
There is no direct correlation between the size of a dog and its hardness, nor should the form of masculinity embodied in its owner be inferred from the unit-capacity or appearance of the dog in question. By Simon Mills
Did you see the Obamas being interviewed on US TV's Barbara Walters Show just prior to the presidential inauguration? If you didn’t, it’s well worth checking out on YouTube because the moment chat queen Walters suggests that America's first couple-elect might want to consider choosing the same breed of dog that she has at home (as the much-discussed White House pet) is not only priceless, but may also go down in history as the first time anyone saw Barack Obama nearly lose his cool.
It’s a special breed, called a Havana, Walters explains on the clip. “It’s hypo-allergenic.”
Helpfully, the host flashes up a snapshot of the preposterous pooch on screen. It is about the size of fox cub with a platinum blonde coat teased out like back-combed kapok. “Her name is Cha-Cha,” explains Walters. Inexplicably, ChaCha is wearing a pair of half-moon spectacles.
Michelle Obama goes, “aaah.. sweet!” while Barack’s face freezes in hyper-allergenic horror. “That’s a yappy dog, right?” he says with more than a hint of resentment in his voice. “It sits on your lap. It’s like [and I swear he almost spat out this last bit] a girly dog.”
“Honey?” say Michelle as the Obamas turned into the Huxtables in front of my eyes. “We are a house full of girls!”
Grouchy Barack is having none of it. He is putting his big size-12 foot down. There would be no white fluff at the White House. Forget the war in Afghanistan and the threat from al-Qaeda; here is a president fighting the war on terriers. “We are going to have,” he says finally “a big, rambunctious dog.”
At that moment I looked down to my ankles. There was my dog, Alfie: 11 inches tall, irrefutably yappy, girly, “cute” and scruffy, a resolutely un-rambunctious thing in a studded leather collar, a canine that was having a rather distressingly emasculating, homosexualising effect on its male owner.

Notes & Intrigues, Rants & Raves July-August 2010

The German-Jafaikan Anschluss
London’s youts dem appear to be naturally adept at the syntactical structures embedded in the German language, judging from this note from Usborne Learn German Guide:

(Example: “Man be learning German, and contemplating the similarities on how man in London dem talk.”)

Incoming: Bamboo Bicycles

This one, modelled by “Dan”, is a fixed-gear contraption built with epoxy, ribbon, recovered metal elements (bottom bracket, seatpost, drop outs etc)) and lengths of tough bamboo in place of the toptube, crossbar and downtube. “Bicycle design is mature now,” Dan, who is a product designer, said. “The next advances will be in materials.” Quite.

"Trennsetter" update

The military-affairs writer T. Lovegrove of Wedding, Berlin wrote in to enlighten Manzine on the“Trennsetter” post below. “It is a play on the word trendsetter that reminds you to separate your garbage (trennung = separation),” T writes. As far as Manzine is concerned, that makes the activity even cooler still.

Mutt Of The Month: Claude from Oi Polloi in Manchester

Thanks to Eoin MacManus @Oi Polloi for the photo, which is by Ray Chan

Solutions for Despairing or Depressed Ankles No.1: Happy Socks