In honor of our last day in Europe, here’s an all-time favorite: Randy Newman’s “A Few Words In Defense of Our Country.”

"We don’t want their love, and respect at this point is pretty much out of the question; but at a time like this, we sure could use a friend."

Sartorial Smackdown

From a PTO reader:

I’m a 27 year-old white guy who lives in Brooklyn. I came to work in my NYC finance office (I’m an underling) today in a nice red checkered shirt and a pair of robin-egg blues Uniqlo slacks, finished off with a pair of very white Toms classics.

As a finance firm with a trading floor, it gets very fratty (earlier today, there was a pushup contest and an arm wrestling bout). And it being Friday it was pretty sloppy clotheswise. I walk on to the floor to collect some documents, and a group of five dudes start hooting and laughing, pointing at my Toms.

No.

To quote Captain JeanLuc Picard, “The line must be drawn here! This far! No further!”

So I turn one of the mooks who’s spouting nonsense like “How can you wear those?” and fire right back with “How can you come to work wearing a barf orange fleece jacket?” Laughter erupts, and a rare lady trader pipes up from across the room, “You tell ‘em!” I grab the folder I need, and as he sputtered for a response, I walk past him, “Yeah. Have a nice weekend, be sure to put on some comfortable shoes when you get home.” And I leave. Like. A. Boss.

It was like a scene in a goddamn movie, and I feel great. Put This On definitely gave me the confidence to pull that off.

I’m ambivalent about Tom’s, but I’m gung-ho about sticking it to the mouth-breathers. Bravo, reader!

Some weekend wisdom from The Fonz.

Some weekend wisdom from The Fonz.

“You’re too old to be wearing all that denim. It is not hip.” Larry David to Jay Leno
If you might permit me a digression: if you want to be an interesting person, you should know about Ricky Jay. He has a new book. He also has several wonderful old ones. He can also throw a playing card through a watermelon. Some years ago, I was lucky enough to interview him. A genuinely remarkable man.

If you might permit me a digression: if you want to be an interesting person, you should know about Ricky Jay. He has a new book. He also has several wonderful old ones. He can also throw a playing card through a watermelon. Some years ago, I was lucky enough to interview him. A genuinely remarkable man.

The Trouble with Conan’s Suits

I’ve really loved watching the new Conan show on TBS. O’Brien himself is a brilliant comic mind, they’ve booked funny people rather than famous-for-nothing people with great regularity, and Andy Richter gets me every time. It’s a wonderful show. Conan’s also a very good looking man, and in remarkable shape. He is, in other words, a real winner.

I do, however, have one pet peeve: Conan’s suits.

The other guy in Conan’s time slot who’s worth your time, fellow Great Genius and Real American Hero David Letterman, has his suits made by Leonard Logsdale, perhaps the finest suitmaker in the United States. Letterman is a natural-born schlub, and you can see it in his loafers, white socks and open double-breasted jackets, but when his coat is closed, he always looks fantastic.

Contrast this with Conan.

One presumes that whoever is dressing Conan is trying for a sleek, urbane, contemporary look. Something that says cool and late night. They have the right idea, I think, but the details are sorely lacking.

Conan has favored dark, solid suits with a slim silhouette. Considering current fashion and Conan’s figure, I think that’s a great idea. I’m not crazy about the French blue shirts he’s chosen - I think they’re too dark, and make his pale complexion appear washed out. They do, however, highlight his eyes, so we’ll give him a pass on that.

The real issue is fit. Conan O’Brien seems to be going on stage each night in a suit that’s two sizes two small for him.

Take a look at the lapels on his suit. Lapels should lie flat across the chest when at rest. In fact, a mark of good tailoring is when they lie flat when the wear is in motion, too. Conan’s suit couldn’t be further from that ideal. Even with his arms down at his sides, you can see the pull lines radiating desperately from his button, and his lapels bowing like the mouth of a change purse.

Look at the way his the lapel leaps away from his collar towards the back of the neck. See how there’s a solid inch between the bottom of his shirt collar and the lapel of his coat? These are signs of an abysmal fit.

Let this be a lesson to you: slimmer is not always better. This kind of fit is unflattering and inelegant, even on a classy, shapely guy like Conan, and you should avoid it in your own life.

And to whoever dresses our boy Coco: I am here for you. I live 15 minutes away, and I’m willing to work for free. Let’s fix this.

Biz Markie and Dockers

Jesse’s last post reminded me of this hilarious article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

Before rapper and deejay Biz Markie began spinning records at a party celebrating Dockers’ Fall 2011 collection at the Hudson & Broad showroom in TriBeCa, he tried to explain why his teaming up with a brand best known for unhip Dad pants during the casual-Friday ’90s made sense.

"Well, somebody contacted me and, you know, I like Dockers," said the entertainer, best known for his late-’80s hit hit-hop breakup song "Just A Friend."

"I wear Dockers," he said, though he was clad in baggy gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt. "They’re comfortable. I’m a comfortable man." Pause. "Dockers is a mature jean. You can wear it anywhere." Pause. "Eh, plus, I just love Dockers."

A Dockers spokesman said tapping Biz Markie was symbolic as the brand seeks to update its image with more modern fits and styles. 

The last line is especially hilarious. The whole thing reminds me of when Jay Z tried to convince us he uses HP. I mean, come on bruh …

I may have posted this before, but it remains one of my favorite things ever. Street basketball and hip-hop DJ legend Bobbito Garcia aka DJ Cucumber Slice visits the home of Biz Markie to discover a room filled with sneakers. No furniture, just sneakers.

Watch this, then read this thread of Biz Markie stories on the breakbeat message board Soul Strut. Those two things will make your life better.

"The emma-emma-zuh-ay arruh-arruh-suh-kay / guaranteed to brighten your day."

I wrote about Ed a few months ago on the blog. They just opened a one-stop service center for people with disabilities right across the street from Ashby BART in Berkeley, named after him. His mom Zona, a wonderful woman, was there to cut the ribbon. Happy to read about it.

I’ve written a bit about my father’s late best friend Ed Roberts on this blog, and the importance of the work he did advocating for the independent living movement for the disabled. Today I got a note from Robert Blanco, a legislative aid to California State Senator Loni Hancock about Ed. Ed’s birthday was recently made a state holiday, and a resolution to make it nationally recognized was recently passed in the House. Senator Hancock is putting Ed forward to be included in the California Hall of Fame, and they asked me to write a letter in support of him.
Below is what I wrote. If you’d like to write a letter, you can address it to:
California Hall of Fame Selection CommitteeC/O Amanda MeekerSenior Development Associate1020 O StreetSacramento, CA 95814


Dear Members of the California Hall of Fame Committee,I hope you will consider one of my personal heroes for the 2011 California Hall of Fame induction class: Ed Roberts.Ed was a brave man. Faced with a tremendous physical disability - he was paralyzed from the neck down with the exception of one finger - he decided not to capitulate. He decided to fight. First he fought for himself, ensuring he could graduate from high school and attend college at UC Berkeley, then he spent his life fighting for others who were physically challenged.I’m a public radio host, and my work (largely interviewing arts and culture figures) couldn’t be further from social activism. I happened to mention Ed in passing on my blog, and I received half a dozen letters from young disabled people for whom Ed is a hero and role model. What these folks told me was that Ed inspired them to stand up for themselves, to do the extra work to claim a full and rewarding life, despite their disabilities, and despite the lack of understanding in the able-bodied population. Further, they told me that he inspired them to fight peacefully, with compassion and never with violence.Ed is of particular importance to me, because I grew up with him. He was my father’s mentor and best friend, and I spent many weekends at his house in Oakland as a child. In fact, my father was married to my stepmother at that house - I don’t remember it, but everyone tells me I told a joke as the wedding party proceeded into Ed’s living room. Maybe I have Ed to blame for my career in entertainment.I don’t think that as a kid, I quite grasped how remarkable Ed was. He used to give me rides on his wheelchair, and we used to sit with him in the disabled section of the Oakland Coliseum to watch A’s games. He seemed like a normal guy to me. What I didn’t know about was the fight that he led to make those “normal” activities possible for himself and for hundreds of thousands of people around the country. He spent his life fighting to give people with disabilities the opportunity to live thier lives with a little less fighting and a little more normalcy. That central idea - independent living - was so important to Ed. Ed never took any mess from anyone, and he always took care of business. Every battle he fought was in the hopes that his friends and colleagues and the folks who came after him would have the chance to live their lives without fighting those battles. He truly made the road by walking. Or, in his case, rolling.Ed’s birthday was made a holiday in California recently, and I can’t begin to tell you how important this was to the community he fought for and with. I hope this honor will have the same wonderful effect, and perhaps will inspire future leaders of our great state.Jesse Thorn

We should all be a little more like Ed, who believed that everyone deserved a full life. I’m sure he’s giving people wheelchair rides in heaven right now.

I’ve written a bit about my father’s late best friend Ed Roberts on this blog, and the importance of the work he did advocating for the independent living movement for the disabled. Today I got a note from Robert Blanco, a legislative aid to California State Senator Loni Hancock about Ed. Ed’s birthday was recently made a state holiday, and a resolution to make it nationally recognized was recently passed in the House. Senator Hancock is putting Ed forward to be included in the California Hall of Fame, and they asked me to write a letter in support of him.

Below is what I wrote. If you’d like to write a letter, you can address it to:


California Hall of Fame Selection Committee
C/O Amanda Meeker
Senior Development Associate
1020 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Members of the California Hall of Fame Committee,

I hope you will consider one of my personal heroes for the 2011 California Hall of Fame induction class: Ed Roberts.

Ed was a brave man. Faced with a tremendous physical disability - he was paralyzed from the neck down with the exception of one finger - he decided not to capitulate. He decided to fight. First he fought for himself, ensuring he could graduate from high school and attend college at UC Berkeley, then he spent his life fighting for others who were physically challenged.

I’m a public radio host, and my work (largely interviewing arts and culture figures) couldn’t be further from social activism. I happened to mention Ed in passing on my blog, and I received half a dozen letters from young disabled people for whom Ed is a hero and role model. What these folks told me was that Ed inspired them to stand up for themselves, to do the extra work to claim a full and rewarding life, despite their disabilities, and despite the lack of understanding in the able-bodied population. Further, they told me that he inspired them to fight peacefully, with compassion and never with violence.

Ed is of particular importance to me, because I grew up with him. He was my father’s mentor and best friend, and I spent many weekends at his house in Oakland as a child. In fact, my father was married to my stepmother at that house - I don’t remember it, but everyone tells me I told a joke as the wedding party proceeded into Ed’s living room. Maybe I have Ed to blame for my career in entertainment.

I don’t think that as a kid, I quite grasped how remarkable Ed was. He used to give me rides on his wheelchair, and we used to sit with him in the disabled section of the Oakland Coliseum to watch A’s games. He seemed like a normal guy to me. What I didn’t know about was the fight that he led to make those “normal” activities possible for himself and for hundreds of thousands of people around the country. He spent his life fighting to give people with disabilities the opportunity to live thier lives with a little less fighting and a little more normalcy.

That central idea - independent living - was so important to Ed. Ed never took any mess from anyone, and he always took care of business. Every battle he fought was in the hopes that his friends and colleagues and the folks who came after him would have the chance to live their lives without fighting those battles. He truly made the road by walking. Or, in his case, rolling.

Ed’s birthday was made a holiday in California recently, and I can’t begin to tell you how important this was to the community he fought for and with. I hope this honor will have the same wonderful effect, and perhaps will inspire future leaders of our great state.

Jesse Thorn

We should all be a little more like Ed, who believed that everyone deserved a full life. I’m sure he’s giving people wheelchair rides in heaven right now.