November 10, 2020
Cookie pillow brigade, chocolate clip artillery raid
Sergeant Major General Mills
Jeff Flake runnin’ reels on Arizona ice picks
ICE rink I think I pick the dreamer
Copper glutamine mattress topper, top this
Sleep quality topless, top-down, bottoms-up beat malady
Trick or treat tragedy
Arthur Conan Doyle in flip flops freakin’ out
Feeling’ loud with pants down
Flapjack stack got a bullet hole in it
Ring toss ’round Sherlock’s home grown Holmes cock
Home spun spun gold toupee
Take a break
Sergeant Major General Mills form a left flank barricade
Bar code lymph node is itching
Head over to Doctor Zed an’ watch him doing brain surgery on Joel Osteen
Watch Lazarus rise and fall into a rip tide
Rip a bong, bonk his head on the entrance of a right angle water slide
Slip down second death sing-a-long hold your breath
Pick a porcelain mug at the Bed Bath Beyond Burger
Badlands chug it down lengthwise have a hammerhead hangover
Who’s a wreck? What’s a wreck? Who Trebek?
I mean “Who is Trebek?”
Ramshackle Shackleton seasoned with allspice an’ cloves
Clint Eastwood Rob Lowe Bob Reddy shrimp bobby pickle fritter
Penguin doesn’t taste good on the stove
Get rich carefully, care for me
Candle rose petals and curry
Candle rose petals and curry
September 14, 2020
When I was younger and had less money I somehow still managed to collect watches. A cool shirt is “eh, that’s neat” and gets tossed in the wash. A beautiful watch straps on every day and becomes a part of you. But I’m not here to wax fashionable.
A watch is necessary, always. People who solely use their phones to tell time must have monk-like disregard for the trappings of the mortal hourglass. I like to know how much universal currency I have and put it to decent use. There’s always been a watch on my wrist for that—more recently, an Apple Watch. It’s a great multitool for exercise.
My small time-telling collection is now resting in the Apple Watch box in my closet. Makes me the slightest bit sad but the wrist-top computer is too practical not to use in place of its more stylistically unique, single-use cousins. Watch cousins. Time bros. Temporal ancestors.
Thing is, default Apple Watch bands don’t match my palette. I’m for a brown leather accessory. Get me sum’n that’ll last. Gain character. Scratch and bend. Get soft. Get tight in the right places. Buckle on. Light as air. Hardly noticeably there.
Also into slim an’ minimal. Only ethically animal. Buy it for life. Everyday multi-use. Wanted a soft brown watch strap that would match my belt and phone case. Simple. Except leather’s no good for sweat and I dig a jog some days. So I found two brands. They shot over straps. And here I am writing about them. Maybe you, too, have an Apple Watch and might check these out. No affiliate link bullshit here—you like it? Cool. No? Great. Post irrelevant to you? Skip around the site, there’s enough word food for all around here.
First up: Braxley Bands. Two fellas. Braxton Manley and Grant Andrews. They were challenged to get entrepreneurial on a student budget and stitched elastic around Apple Watch lugs. A few years later and they’re selling dozens of patterns on the same simple material for thirty bucks a pop.
Their site’s very LA vaporwave. For each band sold, a tree gets planted. CSR—check. Do I like the bands? I really want to. Thought they’d be perfect for all-around usage and go with just about anything. They would be fantastic if they fit when active. My wrists are 17cm and damn if my medium-sized Braxley Bands don’t feel a bit loose at times. Running can cause more unwanted bobbing around than the traditional Apple Sport Loop. A racket swing is also slightly uncomfortable in comparison.
Clear material pros here. Stretchy polyester is going to be comfortable out of the box. It’s machine-washable. Breathable. Depending on the activity, it will stay on during and dry after a good sweat. Depending on the pattern, it could go with any outfit.
Braxley hit all the USPs. They know folks will approach this tiny, cheap material and ask why the hell they are paying $30. Right next to the material explanation, Braxley notes that the connectors are high-quality and come with a lifetime guarantee. This is a magnificent advantage over cheaper options that tend to break easily, putting your expensive glass marshmallow at risk.
The elastic bands are great. They’re unlike anything else I’ve found for Apple Watch. When you shop their styles, this is one of the few consumer experiences where you can be super confident what you’re getting is what’s right there on the screen—a soft, stretchy, quality-made band designed by two Texans who know how to market to millennials.
Call me boring for going with brown and white. I currently count around 30 color options available. Try one out. They do returns and exchanges in case you back out. Coward.
One more tip. As I write, my wrist is resting on the corner of my laptop, right where the underbelly of the watch band sits. It’s like a second skin. No buckle in the way. A beautiful thing. Something to consider.
Not at all bullshit
Bullstrap, the second on our docket for today. Bullstrap started by selling luxury leather Apple Watch bands and have since expanded into other smell-good journeyer’s accessories.
Actively avoiding ad-speak here. Wasn’t paid to write this. It’s a break from my day job. Got sent some trinkets and am imparting honest reviews because I like to read honest reviews. Good to change up writing genre now and again.
Now… bulls and straps. You’re in for a tasty frontier, boot-wearing, bullet-to-bottle a whiskey-whackin’ treat. I interviewed Mason Hoza, co-founder and fuckin’ great product photographer.
Though Kevin Littrell took the shots for this article—thanks Kev!
WTF is a Bullstrap?
We love cows but we feel that bulls are just way cooler. Leather strap + Bull = Bullstrap.
Makes total sense. I immediately thought of a cowboy lasso, then a whip, then thoughts got strangely sexual. Freudian marketing. I dig it.
Who could be behind such a strapping young brand? The site lists two founders: Claudio “The Analytics” and Mason “The Creative”. Childhood friends, the duo turned entrepreneurial after earning majors in accounting at Florida Atlantic University.
So you and Claudio are pals. Where do cows fit in? I picked up leather crafting a few years ago, started making my own wallets and straps for friends as a post-work hobby and stress relief outlet.
I suddenly wished I was friends with stressed-out Mason to get experimental crafts. But stress ain’t fun so it’s cool I get to be business buddies with him via email and enjoy the fruits of his hard work and crafty marketing instead.
It’s ballsy to get into the luxury market. I’ve always been a luxury watch enthusiast and found myself fascinated by Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Phillipe. Having experienced the quality of the straps that come with watches of that stature, when Claudio and I began looking for straps for our Apple Watches there was nothing on the market that we thought matched up to the craftsmanship we had witnessed before. Ah-ha moment: “Let’s make our own!”
The entrepreneurial battle cry.
Noble. But there are a billion options out there for leather Apple Watch straps. Bullstrap straps are different in only one main way—quality. We didn’t set out to change the traditional leather watch strap, we just wanted to make it better. Bullstrap’s straps are made with full-grain Italian leather (the best tier of leather possible) unlike nearly all of our competitors who use top-grain, genuine, or artificial leather.
Meaning… That out of the box the straps are stiffer and not quite as “ready to wear” as our competition, however, full-grain leather breaks-in significantly with time and ultimately will lend itself to a more custom, unique fit and will also outlast all its lower-grade counterparts.
Stiff is an understatement. That’s a hard-ass strap to get off! I’m testing another brand that boasts fancy metal connector bits. What’s with yours besides the leather? We use 316L stainless steel hardware. 300-series steel is commonly used for military equipment for its durability against the elements and overall hardness. We don’t believe in cutting corners, and we never will.
Stiff is most definitely an understatement. This is under the statement about how stiff the bands are. Mine feel like zip-tie handcuffs. Almost gave up on unbuckling after the first wear. Elbow grease did the trick. A testament to leather quality or a product loyalty ploy? Locked to body. A deal with the leather devil. Nah, just needs getting used to.
No cutting corners, eh? That’s a bold statement. How do you handle ethics in the business of animal products? This is a big one for us and also one that we don’t expound on much simply because the internet is very quick to criticize any “ethical” process that doesn’t line up with their own definition. All the leather hides we use come from cows that are used for food. We will never kill an animal specifically for its skin.
Nice. I suppose bona fide vegans wouldn’t be customers of yours anyway. Good to know there’s a no-waste mindset at Bullstrap. I reckon inclusivity goes along with ethics. Your marketing is super male-centric. Have you given any thought to gender? You may expect to see a women-focused line in the future, but we are focusing right now on becoming an established men’s brand before entering the world of women’s accessories.
Fair enough. Makes sense to hone in on one specific audience to find product market fit before expanding. Nothing’s stopping non-males from buying Bullstrap.
Mason gave me two straps to review and I’ll give the other to my gal once I’ve gotten shots for this piece. We both have slim wrists and I’m already on the most cinched buckle hole. Hopefully she won’t find it too loose.
I haven’t broken my strap in enough yet. The bottom of the watch with the heart rate sensor has been floating above my skin, pushed up by the stiff straps on either side. A bit worried the watch isn’t picking up its usual readings, or if it is, that the readings aren’t as accurate.
Establishing a new brand in a saturated market is tough cookies. How have you gone about it? I’d bet folks fall into two camps: those who are alright with the default or cheap-o alternative straps and those who spring for a premium Apple-brand collection. Bold to sell something pricier than Apple whose straps are proprietarily premium. This took time and a lot of marketing. Trying to convince a customer base that’s used to spending $10-30 on leather straps from Amazon to spend 3-8X the price on a different strap. However, after their first purchase, the customer usually has a very positive response to our products! We proudly boast an internal return rate that is well below the industry standard and have a nearly 20% returning customer rate every month.
Took time, of course. How much? There’s an ocean of e-commerce pop-up shops around the net looking for a quick buck. You’ve managed to float above them. Bullstrap is now our full-time gig. Claudio and I are both spending 40-50+ hours a week on operating the company, alongside an amazing team of employees who are both full-time and part-time.
Damn. Who knew! From the site, it all looks like such a tight operation. Quite simple, really. The pros always make their craft look simple. Does the business take over your life at times? We started as a tiny company working out of my garage. As we grew it was so humbling to watch our families and friends step in wherever needed to maintain growth. Since then, we moved to a full-sized office in South Florida. Keeping our friends and family at the top of the totem has continued to be the most important aspect of our business. We’ve been able to hire many of our friends and even a few family members to work full-time at Bullstrap which has easily been the biggest blessing, especially earlier this year.
Sounds like a Bullstrap mafia. If family is an internal motivator, what’s success look like from the outside? Our definition for success is simple: Enhance life’s journey for each of our customers. We founded Bullstrap to offer better accessories to those who deserve more. “Built for your Journey” is our slogan. That’s our goal—to make products that accompany people on any journey they decide to take in this life. If we can enhance your journey with the products we offer, that is success in our book!
“In this life” has me feeling eerie. Maybe if I die wearing this strip of leather I’ll be reincarnated. If so—way worth $90. But that’d mean I could never take it off. Another loyalty ploy. These guys are good.
Enhanced journey—got it. I’m down for journey enhancement. What happens after my journey’s been enhanced? What’s next? Our long-term goal is to become an industry leader for all things when it comes to premium, daily accessories. We’ve been pushing the needle for the past year in preparation to launch a whole new wave of products that will be unlike what anyone knows in terms of what a men’s accessory brand can be. We are keeping this close to the vest until the launch date which should be ████.
Should be redacted!
Good to hear you’re going places with Bullstrap. Genuinely interested in what’s unlike anything else in the men’s accessory space. One more Q for ya, Mason: Where’s the most exciting place a Bullstrap strap has been? Haha this is a great question. We love seeing people take their Bullstrap products around the globe. Celebrities aren’t really on our radar, but we’ve seen our straps on mountain tops in California across the USA, waterfalls in Hawaii, underwater in Puerto Rico, in the heart of New York, and most proudly on the wrists of everyday, anything-but-average people!
Underwater! Neat-o. Especially since the site says: “While our high-quality genuine leather products are splash resistant, we do not recommend submerging them in water as it will cause the leather to darken considerably and become more tough.” When I asked Mason about this, he told me the straps are built for journeys and can be used practically anywhere. He even encouraged me to try running with it on. I can imagine wearing it on hikes. While the fashion element is subtle due to its size, the Bullstrap strap is certainly a lot more charming than more tactile-looking outdoors equipment. Definitely falls into the nature-chic category. I dig it. When I’m not doing nature things, looking nature-chic is cozy enough.
One more quick note on the Bullstrap. I’m not a huge fan of the buckle. Feels clunky to me. As I type on my laptop with my wrists resting on the corners, the buckle scrapes on the edge of the aluminum, rubbing off some of the black painted over the steel. The shape strangely doesn’t keep up with the luxe feel of the rest of the strap. But it comes as no surprise as you can see exactly what it looks like in the product shots on their site. Thought this might be worth a mention.
Braxley Bands are elastic, comfy, colorful, casual, and a great choice if other bands have rubbed you wrong. They look cheaper than they cost but serve you well in their simplicity. Pick a pattern and be yourself—or the version of yourself that fits within one of their 30-some options.
Bullstraps whip onto your wrist for a cigar-puffing, log-hauling, mountain-slapping, manly good time. They wear you more than you wear them. You can’t take ’em off. But you won’t want to because there’s the potential for instant reincarnation. Bullstrap also makes other products like iPhone cases, wallets, and backpacks. Bullpacks?
Texan stretch or Floridian flourish—pick your poison, time ranger.
July 15, 2020
The first of a new series on sound. Alt. links: Apple Music or Spotify
An undisclosed island. He was on paradise, enclosed. Clothed in sand-lined pockets sewn onto sand-colored pants.
Nightfall in the cabin strikes the way the villagers do their bamboo with hand-ground axes to a rallying cloud of volcanic dust. A light island train trickles down the half-piped bamboo gutters lining a clean rubble road.
Fires twinkle in windows twixt the tall rice grasses rolling whispers down terraced hills. A small black bug looks up at the biped above or appears to the way one looks at the sky when the clouds shift ’fore continuing their own scurry.
The man is heavy an’ light, lifted from the neck like a diner syrup lever to press on amid unfamiliar trotting ground. Suppose it’s good here.
The man’s hungry, further off-road down-stream done rambling ’til light’s apparent in the distance. One chance at food this night. A parent in the distance, that sign with a plate and lotus and tall tiki torches splashing glow onto entrance rocks rounding up to the terrace.
The man’s decided here he’ll eat. The man’s me and I take a seat where the one waitress wipes confusion off a tired, friendly face with one swath splay of the menu. A stranger sits far back, outta sight, sipping a stick of tobacco. His embers dance in the distance against a deep black jungle wall, buzzing.
The night-dwellers, friends of the fag-dancer, flip conversation across another round table in the grass. I’m into my colorful meal.
She comes by again, dream-like archetype, the type to take you from one wistful slumber plot to the next an’ never to be seen in that form again.
“Excuse me, happiness?”
Now I’m scarfing a shrimp dish and hear this and get slammed by the heat of that rice doused in that question and thunder a thick reply from a throat satisfied by what it’d needed for some time until that moment. She was talking about the dinner.
As she grinned that kindly mouth-slice reserved for anonymous clientele and took plates and dashed noiselessly away, the man stared out across waves of rice. He’d eaten a whole field o’ that tiny tasteless fruit from the fringe of a tall green spire among maybe millions.
May 31, 2020
I, like Frank, consider the smell of unsmoked tobacco a momentary indulgence. I don’t purchase nor carry tobacco for the purpose of smelling it. But having smelled it before and revelled in its particular olfactory essence, I do appreciate the nostalgia it evokes of nonexistent times filled with deep thinking and even deeper gashes in firewood piled aside some cabin.
The razor held so delicately above both overtly looks and feels like a cigar. It was, at some point in the dearest past, crafted by Ursa Major.
This post is kinda sponsored. I didn’t get paid for it but received the razor handle aeons ago for promotion on my now-defunct television show. The product didn’t make it on air back in the day and it’s been plaguing my conscience ever since. If I were to ever be spiritually abducted into the realm of purgatoire de l’auteur, this should serve as karmic remittance.
I checked Ursa Major’s site and couldn’t find the razor. This is damn embarrassing. Alas, without knowing price nor description, I’ll tell you a bit about this fine piece of face-shearing wood. Perhaps you’ll find yourself perusing their skincare products and I’ll feel a smidgen better about putting off this review.
I despise ads and wouldn’t dare clog my beautiful blog with them. I put links to Ursa Major above in case you’re genuinely interested in ’em. They have an affiliate program but I am not part of it and these are not affiliate links.
It’s quite odd to show me shaving because the Ursa Major razor ain’t a razor at all—it’s a razor handle. That’s it. A lil’ piece of wood. It almost doesn’t make sense as a product, which is maybe why they ditched it in their lineup. Until it does make sense.
That wood feels good. It’s minimal, earthy, and decently designed. I’m all for buying sustainable, practical tools that match my vibe (or aesthetic or whatever). Ursa Major didn’t touch the functional part because they know others do it better. You can pop on and off disposable Gillette tops as you see fit. And that’s all there is to it.
Though the handle’s a bit of a collector’s item now, its simplicity says something about the company. Ursa Major cares about biodegradable goods that feel good to use and look good to have. Sustainable design. Do their personal care products cost a premium? Absolutely. Is that inaccessible price tier indicative of the quality of the potions inside the modern-outdoorsy designed canisters? That’s for you to decide. I lean on the side of niche-audience marketing in a subversive neo-capitalistic hellscape. Nah, the potions are cute.
Hey, I like our environment. I’ll back a conscious company any day. The Ursa Major razor handle reminds me of a quality leather wallet—an investment in lasting kit that’ll age right along with you. But my wallet’s not the size of the tree that was felled to make that handle. As a careful consumer I’d opt for a similar, more cost-effective brand like Tom’s of Maine. Come to think of it, Ursa Major is a Vermont brand. It could be Vermont’s answer to Tom’s of Maine. Could be I’m unaware of some turf war between New England personal care brands. In that case, before I become a plaid-donning political prisoner, know that I stand by Ursa Major’s site design over Tom’s. It’s much cleaner and the bear logo is substantially more huggable than my own name in stamp form.
Here’s one more photograph of me and the stubble cigar. My brother took all of these—thanks Kevin.
May 27, 2020
Sometimes you look at a word and it speaks to you.
I recently ramped up work with Gikken, a Berlin-based boutique Apple software company. Alex from Gikken introduced me to a newsletter called Dense Discovery. Upon reading Dense Discovery this evening, I tripped over an American indie magazine called Fifty Grande, wherein I was drawn to an article about folk artists living out of a van. I thought: “Hey, that’d be pretty damn cool to live out of a van.” It’s a thought I’m sure you’ve humoured at one point. In that article, I read the word congestion. It spoke to me.
Why is congestion speaking to me? It’s kinda gross. What does it connote? Mucus? Traffic? Blockage? I’ve dealt with an embarrassing amount of glottal mucus all my life, having been raised in an agrarian suburb. We’ve taken a turn for the intimate.
No, these superficial connections were not, in this instance, what first came to mind. For some reason I read that word like it was brand new. Thought of the raw meaning of it—what might be a definition stripped of allegiance to any particular congestive circumstance. I got all philosophical.
I studied comparative religion in college. My brother asked me on a walk today whether I’m an atheist. I won’t get into that here. Brought this up because my philosophy of religion courses used ancient allegories to illustrate spiritual concepts. Once meditated on a blueberry and felt it more intensely than certain prior sexual encounters. Blueberries’ll do that to ya.
Congestion is something we deal with incessantly. Congestion of the mind. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I’m trying to unearth something via writing. Little thought purge. Ain’t that what they recommend?
Making sense of it
Nothing makes sense—that’s why it’s called making sense. You ought to manufacture the sense yourself.
Congestion is a temporary status. If a passageway were perpetually blocked it wouldn’t be blocked at all because it wouldn’t be a passageway to begin with. Unless it began as a passageway like some Egyptian tomb that subsequently crumbled and was to remain in ruin for near eternity.
Let’s agree that it’s temporary. Shouldn’t congestion then be relievable? It often is relieved. Can that relief be facilitated manually? If we are discussing mental congestion, then surely it may be. Phobia, for example, causes a congestion that takes gradual chipping away at to allow for the passage of… well, some inverse of fear. Writer’s block, however, simply takes:
- Two (2) parts bourbon.
- One (1) part amaretto.
- A spit of lemon juice.
- A dewdrop of maple syrup.
- Your evening mug met with ice.
It’s time to sleep. If you too are due for a snooze, may we both awake without congestion, mental or otherwise.
May 24, 2020
The beginning of a letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse:
Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just do.
It sat on Frank’s desk. While he hated referring to alleged quotes for inspiration, he knew this was some bona fide correspondence and he liked the sounds of the words in the long list when said. Frank considered that he would willingly give up all of Sol’s suggested verbiage besides boning if it would mean he could do in the sense of accomplishing something rather than ing-ing about it. Then he pondered the disparity between boning and doing and wondered profusely which provided more agency to that being boned or done. Or whether it should be them rather than that, for that matter—for their matter.
The phone rang, as they tend to do. Frank spat his toothpick into the deforested hectare of felled wood-pike disarray fencing a lousy perimeter ’round his desk chair.
“Frank.” said Frank.
“Frank I need you to tell me what’s on channel nine. It’s dire. Frank. Frank? Can you hear me? Turn to channel nine. Be a dear and tell me what’s on channel nine. Frank dear do it now. I know, I know, thank you Frank.” said a high-pitched voice across the telephone line.
As Frank listened to his name leak out her lips a dozen times, he pinched and spun around the embossed brass nameplate at the edge of his desk. The more he stared at the letters, the less they formed the name he’d been branded with much like that cheap metal rectangle who wore it better.
Elsewhere on the desk, a sticky note read: MILK, CHICKEN. Was stuck to a stapler spread open by its hinges almost as wide as the legs of Kermit the Frog, who leaned crookedly on a can of ale weighed down by a straight razor shaft sticking out of it that directed a fleck of light from its blade onto a chiseled section of wood whittled by a worried pen tip whose cap escaped this microcosmic crime scene for the great abandon of the corner behind the waste basket. A projector was set up, searing the ceiling with a tired bulb whose luminescence shone obscene shadows built by what lay on its lens-like surface each day as an extension of Frank’s desk. The common lamp was on backorder for the second time since some mysterious late-night circumstance had hopelessly toppled it.
Frank didn’t smoke. He simply liked the smell of cigarettes and carried the same pack of double gold-ringed Rohnsteins around for aromatic comfort. He withdrew a stick and popped it into Kermit’s perpetual jaw-drop where it wedged into the stitch of the fabric at his puppety gullet.
“You still have my remote, Wendy.” said Frank.
“I…” Wendy trailed off.
“The hole!” Frank shouted opposite the receiver, to the empty room.
“Ah that. Let me see…”
The wall on the right rumbled a bit. Something rolled from a height and thudded on the floor. Papers shuffled. Then, a dot of red light appeared through a pencil-thin poke in the wall just under a nail-hung gloating plaque.
Nothing happened. Frank picked an apple core from a little plastic dish and lobbed it at the wall, striking the plaque so it spun on its nail and dislodged, clapping on the ground.
“Eh fuh,” Frank mumbled.
The light dot shone again, longer. Then off. Then on. It blinked. In the opposite corner on a stout refrigerator box, a pale black screen jittered to life. Though the stodgy man had big dreams and an even bigger ocular prescription, Frank had a small TV.
Wendy suctioned her ear up to the wall, listening as she held steady the remote control and lathed its channel button over and over.
“WALNUTS AND CHERRY OATS. ADULT CER…”
“WANTED TO KNOW WHO SHE WAS. SO I TOLD HER. SHE THOUGHT SHE COULD GO DOWN TO THE LORY DISTRICT AN…”
“SA-VANVANVAN RA-DUNDUNDUN SVAAA!”
Frank kicked his feet up. Wished she’d stayed on the orchestra. He watched the channels turn from the doubles back to single digits and up toward nine.
06, 07, 08…