website stats

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm dreaming of a Mod Christmas

Today was the office holiday party, which means it was time for my annual wearing of the red Levi's cords. I didn't have another Christmas-themed tie, so I chose one with red in it, and what's more festive than a retro mod/tiki pattern? (Tie made in Italy by an unknown maker.) This year's party, at my new job, differs from last year's at my old job in two major ways: 1) it wasn't cancelled at the last minute, and 2) we all got to go home early. Now that's living!

I won't be wearing a tie for the last two days of my work year, so this is it for 2006. I have curtailed my tie wearing considerably, but the upside of that is that it will make my current supply last longer. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all; see you next year!

Unseasonable

People have been warning us about the harshness of Ithaca winters for the past six months, but it is still unseasonably warm and looks to stay that way through the next week and possibly beyond. So today I wore a tie that is unseasonably bright. It's a heavy (and wide) vintage tie of cotton by Liebert, a brand that has more hits than misses in my experience.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cats On A Roof!

At first I thought this tie was a cityscape with two giant cats; then I saw that what I thought was a house was really a rooftop fan housing, alongside a TV aerial, some chimney pots, and two normal-sized cats. There are some pink clouds directly behind the fan housing, a sligthly sinister-looking anthropomorphized moon, and a tiny white cloud farther to the left. The detail of the woven pattern doesn't show up so well in the small picture to the left, but you can click through to a larger version. This tie is unlike any other I've ever seen; it's a wide polyester number from 1970 or so. The brand is "Pedigree by Michel;" with a name like Pedigree, I wonder if it was an entire line of animal-themed ties. I can only hope I'll run across another one some day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

After the Fall

Owing to my extended schedule of unpacking in our new house, I was unable to join the other tie guys (Mike and Will) in celebrating Fall with autumn leaves ties; I have some, I just couldn't find them. Here, then, is my belated entry in that category. I know that this is actually a floral tie, but the flowers are stylized enough that they could be interpreted as leaves if you really want to (and I do). (Oh, the many and varied practical uses of abstraction!) The tie is by GianMarco Venturi, and is yet another purchase from the Modaitalia eBay store.

On the earphones: new Inverse Room (a return to longer, more "serious" songs, with a darkly comic undercurrent, or overcurrent in some cases), Spitznagel's Lowcountry Dub (sounds like a great lost Playgroup album).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Missoni

The past week was very cold; I wore mostly turtlenecks and wool sweaters, except for Wednesday when I wore this eye-grabbing Missoni tie. If a network were to broadcast The Point, and there was static interference with the broadcast, then I think this is what the static would look like.

On the earphones: Miles Davis, Pangaea, a recording of a 1975 concert in Osaka. Half is peaceful and meditative, the other half is a funky hard-rock freakout that puts most full-time rock bands of the time to shame. Miles' electric period is my favorite, and Scott McFarland articulates the reasons in this excellent essay. Squarepusher's Music Is Rotted One Note is a reasonable pastiche of this music, and back in 2002 I had the luck to happen across a local band in Baltimore (upstairs at the Ottobar) who cranked out some Electric Miles sounds too. So the sound lives on!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Garber's again

"Today's" tie (and by "today" I mean November 30) is the companion to my October 21 tie, in that it has the same label (Garber's), the same construction (woven, as opposed to printed, silk), and I got it in the same lot of vintage ties on eBay. Click on the picture to see a larger version for a better appreciation of the intricacy of the pattern.

On the earphones: Africadelic: The Very Best of Manu Dibango and Fela Kuti with Ginger Baker Live! (the added punch of Baker's drums makes this my favorit Fela album so far, but I still have a lot of catching up to do).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fair and balanced

Since I wore a Cornell tie to the University of Maryland before I left, it's only fair that I wear a University of Maryland tie to Cornell. This tie was presented to me by the Big Boss himself at my farewell party. It depicts the University of Maryland at College Park Master Plan (2001-2020), and the slice of campus on the front contains both buildings in which I worked: the Pocomoke Building (Building 007) and the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center (which, unfortunately, is located a little too high on the tie and got covered up by the knot). The tie was made by Civitas, a company which specializes in city plan ties (there had to be one); this is their first campus tie. Sales of the tie fund scholarships for the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and internships for campus planning, development, and preservation. Cornell's unique campus geography would also look great on a tie...

On the earphones: Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada (super groovy), and The Best of Mandrill: hearing "Fencewalk" and the exuberant "Git It All" pounding in my ears was a transcendent musical experience, which I will be repeating on my morning walk. (It's just not the same on the home stereo.)

From the archives

Monday's tie was a Liberty of London Archival Design (and a Burl Veneer archival tie), one of their lovely classic floral patterns. There's a bird in the design, but unfortunately only its legs and tail show on the front of the tie (to the lower right of the large, gold-purple flower), so you can't really tell it's a bird at all. A wider expanse would benefit this fabric by displaying the full pattern, and I think it would indeed work as curtain or upholstery material.

On the earphones: African Head Charge, In Pursuit of Shashamane Land, in which they inject their seductive dub rhythms with some more energetic drumming, making for fantastic walking music.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving

For the last work day before Thanksgiving I chose a tie that resembles a Thanksgiving tablecloth, both in pattern and dimension (it's huge!). It appears to be homemade, and thus may even have been a tablecloth at one time. This Thanksgiving finds me once again with so many things to be thankful for; new this year are my lovely new home, new job, a walking commute, and a wonderful new home town. May your Thanksgiving be a happy one, and may you find occasion throughout the year to give thanks to the Being or non-being of your choice!

(On the headphones today: Isaac Hayes, Raw and Refined. Awww, yeah!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Squarepusher

I've had the frenetic and irresistible techno-acoustic music of Squarepusher (a.k.a. Tom Jenkinson) on the headphones for the past two days, so I wore this tie in his honor. Like my last tie (nearly two weeks ago!), this is an Italian-made silk tie with no maker identification. This picture marks my stepson's first gig as Tie Blog Photographer; taking the picture was like second nature to him. Way to go!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Double paisleys

I was reminded by a reader today (my dad) that I have fallen behind in my tie blogging; quite so! Here it is November 18 and I'm just getting around to posting my tie from November 8. (However, it's the last tie I've worn; a week of rainy days made the thought of commuting on foot in a tie unappealing, so I went a whole work week without wearing a tie. I confess it felt weird.) This tie is another one of unknown lineage from the Modaitalia Store. It features a large paisley pattern in blue and green superimposed on a smaller black-and-white paisley pattern for double your paisley pleasure! The most remarkable aspect of this tie, though, is the jacquard weave of giant polka dots, which actually came through in the picture: see the one at the top near the knot.

Our exciting news is that we just got an amazing silkscreen print by Spanish artist Juan Romero:



And it's big: 29" x 32"! We just dropped it off at the frame shop today; we'll have it back in a couple weeks to go right onto our dining room wall, and I can't wait! (There are images of other Romero prints here and here.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What the...???

From my "I Voted" sticker (my first time voting in my new home state!) you have probably deduced that this is Tuesday's tie. What are those blotches crawling across the sharp geometric background in Depression-era kitchen tones? Crabs? Lionfish? No, they're flowers, but they have evolved some pretty good camouflage. Victor Vasarely did some interesting experiments in merging foreground and background patterns. I'm not sure what the designer was going for in this tie by Firenze, but it's definitely not something you'll see very often.

Monday, November 06, 2006

First glance

At first glance this tie from Format, back when they were made in Japan, looks pretty psychedelic because of its high-contrast palette and curvilinear graphics. But the shapes don't quite have the Dionysian abandon of true psychedelia; they are more staid, and in some places recall the old-world stylizations of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs. Still, it's a fine attempt at a different genre from a tie maker best known for its excellent swing/art deco ties.

As a fan of spy/cop show music, I am overjoyed to have just discovered Skeewiff, a DJ duo who are the best thing to happen to the genre since Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited. They're making my walks to and from work seem positively action-packed!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Givenchy

Thursday's tie was this brash mod/op-art number from Givenchy. It has an unusual shape that I've only seen in a few other ties, which I will call "entasis" after the ancient Greek architectural practice of making columns bulge slightly in the middle to enhance their aesthetic appeal. This tie, instead of flaring out steadily to it maximum width at the bottom triangle, actually reaches its maximum width about halfway down, then tapers back a little bit before the bottom. So you get the broad expanse of fabric of a fat tie, but without the really fat part that can push a gaudy tie over the edge.

Speaking of mod/op-art, I stumbled across the wall hangings of Rex Ray yesterday. His resin-coated collages on wood panels are especially nice, but at prices of $600-$1800 I'm better off making them myself and decorating the whole house for the price of one. (No slight intended toward Mr. Ray, whose panels are doubtless of a very high quality and worth every penny.)

Today's obscure necktie reference is courtesy of eMusic, which I have decided is the best digital music vendor (because it's much cheaper than the others, you get the songs in mp3 format, and the selection is more interesting). The eMusic album of the day is Bongo Rock by the Incredible Bongo Band (1973-74), which includes the track "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught In Your Zipper." Ba-dum!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chili peppers


This Perry Ellis Handmade tie dates from the earliest days of my necktie collection, i.e. 1990 plus or minus two years. I bought it at the Syms discount warehouse in Rockville, Maryland, and it remains my best-ever Syms find and favorite paisley tie. My girlfriend at the time dubbed this my "chili peppers" tie because of the row of four chili-pepper shapes (leaves?) right in the middle (two green, two yellow) and again at the very bottom. That relationship is long over, but the tie nickname remains. Because this tie is every bit as good as a Liberty of London (in complexity of pattern, color range and balance, precision of printing, quality of fabric, and construction) I honor it by storing it with my Liberties. (See my April 26 post for more information and links on Perry Ellis.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pucci Halloween

Some of my ties have to months, even years before I wear them for the first time. But this Emilio Pucci tie, which I got mere weeks ago, was so suited to Halloween that it was the obvious choice for today. The "capsules" are, of course, astronaut candy corn.

I took all four kids (two demons, a zombie, and a lion) trick-or-treating last night for our first Halloween in Ithaca. (I didn't wear the tie, so as not to upstage the children.) It was a much livelier Halloween than our last few in Greenbelt: lots of kids and parents out and a high rate of neighborhood participation. It was more strenous, too; here on East Hill you can't walk anywhere without walking up and down hills. After pushing the stroller around the extended neighborhood I was exhausted. I lay down to rest after dinner, and didn't get up until morning.

This tie actually came with a provenance of sorts. The seller writes:

This tie came from an exclusive dept. store in downtown Cincinnati many years ago. The name of the store was Pogue's, which was known for selling exclusive designer clothing from as far back as the 40's. It came from an estate where most of the items were from the 40's, 50's, and early 60's, it was packed away with some other gifts given to the gentleman of the house....
And enclosed with the tie was a typewritten gift card:

DEAR WILLIE:

IF YOU WISH TO EXCHANGE THO THIS IS A REAL BEAUTY ASK FOR MR MAFFA AT POGUE. HE SHOULD RECALL ME. THEY HAVE NOT TOO MANY CUSTOMERS FOR EMILIO PUCCI TIES.

REX
So once upon a time one could get Pucci ties in Cincinnati (and thus, by extension, anywhere), though apparently few actually did. Willie very sensibly kept the tie, as will this William.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trickle-down

The Great Shiny Woven Tie Explosion of 2004 (referenced in my October 8 entry) trickled down to the discount stores in 2005. Burlington Coat Factory had (and probably still has) a wide selection of these cheaply luxurious ties, and was the source for this Adolfo Gold grid of circles in black, blue, purple, and silver.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hundertwasser

It's taken me nearly a week to get last Friday's tie up because I couldn't come up with the larger connection for it, but it finally hit me on the way to work. This tie from "Garber's" (presumably a menswear store) has the colors and abstract patterns of a Hundertwasser painting. Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was an Austrian painter, sculptor, and architect, a genius, and a true original. His passion for the environment informed all his work, which included many posters promoting conservation and awareness of environmental issues (e.g. Save the Seas, Conservation Week, Save the Whales, Save the Rain, etc.). His buildings incorporated organic forms (and organic matter) and his paintings freely mingled the living with the built, all highly stylized in vibrant, multicolored palettes. This tie (from the polyester era but surprisingly made of silk) is a mere echo of Hundertwasser's creativity, but even an echo of Hundertwasser is something special.

I've just picked up John Hodgman's funny book of fake triva, The Areas of My Expertise. Hodgman is fascinated with hoboes, and one section of the book consists of a list of 700 hobo names (all made up). The list merits a mention here because hobo name #207 is "Genius L. Cravat, the Gentleman." Two illustrations for this hobo name can be found here; all the names are listed and illustrated at e-hobo.com.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Reign of Frogs

These frogs would have had a field day at last Saturday's Insectapalooza at the Cornell University Department of Entomology. Our whole family went; after the cockroach races right at the entrance, we went upstairs to the exotic insect zoo to see live tarantulas, scorpions, whip spiders (perhaps the nastiest-looking creatures on earth), black widows, praying mantises, grasshoppers, millipedes, beetles, and many more assorted creepy-crawlies. Come to think of it, some of those creatures could probably turn the tables on a frog. We skipped the bug and worm cuisine room...

Australian Aboriginal artist Doris Gingingara designed this tie for Desert Designs. Mike over at Knot a Blog is featuring all Australian-themed ties this week, so I figured I'd hop on that bandwagon today. (Not to mention that this tie was near the top of a storage bin, a prime consideration these days.) Be sure to read to the end of Mike's October 14 entry to learn an interesting, little-known fact (i.e. not known by me) about koalas!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

That Guy

I didn't want to go another full week without wearing a tie, so here's one six days after the last one. This tie is by Guy Laroche of Paris. Laroche was born in La Rochelle, France, in 1921, and opened his own couture house in Paris in 1957. Perhaps his most prominent achievement was producing the ubiquitous smell of the 1980s, Drakkar Noir for men, in 1982. (Or maybe I just think it was ubiquitous because one of my college housemates doused himself in it all the time.) Laroche died in 1989; the design house continues as a subsidiary of YGM Trading Ltd. of Hong Kong. (They seem to be between head designers, Herve Leroux having just left to start his own house.) This tie touches on two of my favorite themes, stained glass and "heavy scribbles." I'm not so crazy about the colors, but you can't always have everything in a tie.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Just one this week

I only managed to wear one tie last week, on Wednesday. This tie is from my favorite line of polyester ties, the Christian Dior Monsieur line with the oval CD logo on the front. I have previously presented one other tie from this series, and I have one or two more to bring out eventually.

In seeking out quirky music in Ithaca I discovered Inverse Room, the music project of Ithaca novelist J. Robert Lennon. The CD 100 Songs: Pieces for the Left Hand contains 99 (short) songs (I haven't found the hundredth one yet) spanning just about every genre of pop music. Relevant to this blog is the one entitled "That Tie," the lyrics of which are:

I was stakin’ out a gin joint in a rented Cadillac, when I heard a roscoe coughin’ and everything went to black. Next thing I know, Saint Peter was lookin’ me in the eye. He said, “Sorry, I can’t let you in, but where’d you get that tie?”

Maybe that tie looks like this one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another birthday

(Wednesday, October 4) Seems like I just had a birthday last year, and now another one arrives. I didn't have another birthday-themed tie like last year's, so I picked out this wild silk patchwork Robert Talbott Best of Class tie more or less at random. And what a lovely birthday it was: a surprise party in the office with a luscious Wegman's chocolate cake. My boss even made orange chocolate ice cream! My favorite combination of sweet flavors! Mmmmm....

At age 41 I have finally joined the iPod generation: as a birthday present I got a Samsung YP-U2J portable mp3 player, so now I can listen to music on my walks to and from work. In fact, it's made me even more attached to the brisk half-hour walk at the start and end of each workday. Unfortunately, brisk half-hour walks are not quite compatible with wearing neckties, so I'm going to cut back on the tie-wearing. That means the tie blog will no longer be daily, but occasional. I still have plenty to trot out! If you need to see more ties, please visit the other fine tie bloggers using the handy links in the right sidebar.

Finally, in case you were wondering: no, the Onion article "Man Required To Wear Tie Decides It Might As Well Be Wacky" is not about me. I prefer the wild to the wacky, and I have not actually been required to wear a tie for a few years now. But some of the observations in the "article" are a little too close for comfort!

Mr. Beene

One day in 2004 Mrs. Veneer and I took a trip out to Annapolis Mall so I could ogle the Duchamp ties at Nordstrom. The big surprise was when we went to Hecht's and found hundreds of Duchamp/Ted Baker/City of London-style ties being offered by nearly every tie label there. So I picked up a couple by Geoffrey Beene, and this is one of them. (We were even more surprised to find similar offerings at JCPenney.) These woven-patterned ties of brilliant silk thankfully found their way into the mainstream, were they remain today. Hooray!

Catching up

I had a busy week and fell behind on the blog, but here I am again. The tie for Monday, October 2, is another Exotic Silks tie from Pamper Him of Chicago. The silk satin is a real joy to handle, the shape is perfect, the knot effortless. I think there are six Pamper Him ties in my permanent collection, which I am now getting a chance to rewear, as they have not been blogged yet, and they are new to my new workplace.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Once emerged from the gray of night

Today's tie is from the Gallery Collection by Christina Desiree, and is based on Paul Klee's 1918 painting (and poem) Once Emerged from the Gray of Night. The painting itself has a gray band in the middle, which I take to represent the gray of night, and which was dropped from the necktie design. I think I would have kept it, but the tie is still special. In this one piece Klee has created not only beautiful pattern of letters and colors, but a work which ties in the sounds of the words and the meaning of the poem they assemble. Translated into English, the poem reads:

Once emerged from the gray of night,
Then heavy and precious and strong from the fire--
In the evening filled with God and bowed...

[gray band]

Ethereally now rained round with blue,
floating off over mountains' snowcaps to wise
constellations.

(And if I can find again where I found the translation, I will give credit for it; it wasn't me.) A fine testimonial to this painting's influence is the fact that it is still used as an art exercise for children.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Good Day Sunshine

It started out as a sunny day here in Ithaca, but it ended as a rainy one. My Desert Designs tie, though, was sunny all day, thanks to Jimmy Pike.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Whodunit?

The problem with using one's own written signature as the sole brand identifier is that the signature may be illegible, with the result that anyone wishing to pass on the brand information of a particular tie is likely to do so inaccurately. This subject comes up not out of the blue, but was prompted by the label of today's necktie, which reads, possibly, "Gio Busceri" (I know the B is right, as there is an additional logo which is just a B), and definitely, "Made in Italy." And just because a Google search for "Gio Busceri" comes up empty doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't exist (I have heard there are some scraps of information that just aren't anywhere on the internet, yet). Whoever made it, the pattern is quite singular, with its modified stripes embellished by shapes that could be flowers after the style of Yves Tanguy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gold Lion

Tuesday's tie is a "Gold Lion High Fashion" tie from Korea. The design consists of some swing-era "wavy diamonds" with "echo lines" for an overall effect of, say, a topo map of a mountainous region, or an aerial photo of rice paddies, or coral atolls. As accents there are one green and two mauve "kites." It's a wonderfully fluid pattern, marred by an unfortunate choice of background: stripes that fade into one another. At least there are no intra-stripe fade effects, usually used on polyester ties to simulate the reflective qualities of silk; that style of tie, worn with a short-sleeve shirt and a pocket protector, has become cultural shorthand for nerdiness. (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Escher

Once upon a time, before the advent of rap, there was only one M.C.: M.C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis Escher, 1889-1972). In addition to his pictorial tricks of gravity and perspective, Escher raised creative tessellation (symmetries) to an art form, devising patterns of identical and perfectly interlocking birds, fish, crabs, and the lizards that are the basis of this tie, among many others. His symmetries are eminently suitable for college dorm wall posters and have probably sold millions of copies in that form; Boxelder of Milwaukee has printed them on neckties for those of us in the older set.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chaps

I've always thought of Ralph Lauren's Chaps line as the rustic, western-flavored, lower-priced alternative to his flagship Polo line of rustic, New England-flavored clothing. This Chaps tie, however, has more in common with Liberty of London's 1960s-era ties. Go figure.

Picasso

Thursday's tie design is taken from Picasso's 1924 cubist painting Mandolin and Guitar and was made in Korea in 1989 for "Picaso" neckties. The single-s spelling of Picasso is presumably to avoid any trademark infringement charges, though that's a pretty iffy tactic if you ask me. On the other hand, this tie is much more vibrant than any I've seen under the official Picasso label.

Ted Baker

Oops, what with catching up the kids with homework for their new schools and going to back-to-school night, I have fallen a few days behind on the blog. Here, then, is Wednesday's tie, from UK clothier Ted Baker. Baker hit the scene with a line of heavy, shiny, woven-patterned silk ties about three or four years ago (about the same time as the City of London ties popped up, which I believe are made by the same company), and within months everybody else was on the bandwagon. I chose this Ted Baker tie for its suggestiveness of one of my favorite childhood toys, Pressman Crystal Climbers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The City of Townsville

After the great animated television shows of the early 90s (The Simpsons, Ren and Stimpy, The Tick), I lost track of cartoons for a few years. Then when my son went to kindergarten, he started talking about The Powerpuff Girls. So I watched it with him, and fell in love with that show too. It's set in "The City of Townsville," a retro-futuristic burg drawn by people who obviously know their Mid-Century Modern; this Screenplay by Martin Wong tie (from a Robert Taliver design) would like right at home there. The Girls' creator and ersatz father, Professor Utonium, is always seen wearing a plain black tie under his lab coat; but I think he wears a tie like this offscreen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Quilt Central

I have landed in a quilting hotbed: quilts adorn nearly every suite in my new workplace, made by staff members past and present. So I was not surprised when this Brite tie was immediately identified as being made of quilting fabric. Cotton batik like this is usually cut up into fat quarters and sold for quilting, i.e. to be cut into even smaller pieces and sewn together with other fabrics. (As in the quilt my mother-in-law made for us as a housewarming gift, made of six different batiks in luscious dark blues and purples.) But so many fabrics can also stand on their own, as I believe this tie ably demonstrates. It won't keep you warm, though.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

And the answer is...

As I pulled today's tie out of an underbed storage container, I realized that I can finally answer the perennial question: how many ties do I have? And the answer is: 181 quarts. That's two 70-quart containers and one 41-quart. The caveat is that that represents how many ties I had at the time of packing for my move; additional ties have arrived since then. I'm still trying to work out an acceptable storage plan for my ties. In the meantime, the 41-quart container, which contains my permanent collection of ties, is on the top of the stack, so that's where this Jhane Barnes tie came from. Not only does the pattern evoke cut geodes, it is also similar to the recent work of stained glass artist Dick Weiss, which I encountered while clicking through yesterday's blog links. Serendipity!

And while looking for geode images for today's blog, I discovered the website of fiber artist Linnie Craigie: great stuff! Ah, the joys of websurfing...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another first day

Not only did my daughter take my tie picture today, she also had her first day at her new school, which went marvelously. (Good thing, too, as schools were a primary consideration for our move.) This Pierre Cardin tie has a geometric pattern that reminds me of stained glass, a craft I've been toying with taking up since getting the book New Glass by Otto Rigan (1976) a couple years ago. The artists featured in the book completely surpass conventional notions of stained glass art, and the glass pieces transform interior spaces in a way that no other medium can. Tom Krepcio has written a useful "where are they now?" entry on the New Glass artists on his Vitreosity blog, which, now that I've found it, is set to consume a great deal of my net-surfing time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Speaking of Modern Art

(Which I was yesterday, in the context of sculpture...) How about a little Kandinsky? Wassily Kandinsky has been on my mind since I read a review of Peter Carey's new novel, Theft, in the Washington Post. The novel deals with fraud in the world of art. Here's the quote from the novel that has stuck in my mind:
"Real artists don't have strategy.... C├ęzanne could not explain himself, nor could Picasso. Kandinsky could explain everything. Q.E.D."

I don't buy that. Just because he could explain everything doesn't mean you have to believe him. You don't even have to read his explanations. I haven't, but I doubt that they would reduce my appreciation for his explorations of form and color. They are most definitely real art, because they make me think and feel, and I like them. Q.E.D.

The tie, by the way, is by Daniel Craig (not the actor).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mexican batik

Batik is usually associated with Indonesia, but this extra-wide cotton batik tie comes from Mexico. The color scheme is unlike any batik I've seen before, and the green foreground figures echo the abstract forms of Modern Sculpture in its 1960-ish heyday (such as those in the Sculpture Garden Loop of Cornell's F.R. Newman Arboretum, which I referred to obliquely in this post as my "personal happy place"). My new house is also of that era, so my affinity for so-called Mid-Century Modern has come to glorious fruition.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Greetings from Ithaca!

We made it! We got the entire contents of our house onto a moving van on Wednesday, loaded the whole family into the minivan and drove to Ithaca on Thursday, bought our new house on Friday, spent the weekend on sleeping bags and air mattresses, and the moving van arrived today with all our stuff. Yippee! That just leaves the small matter of selling our old house...

Today's tie is a hand-marbled tie whose label has fallen off, but it came in a lot of several Cosette ties, so that's probably who made it. The final pattern of a hand-marbled tie is determined partially by chance: the marbler knows how to do it, and has a rough idea of how it will turn out, but there's no predicting exactly how the dyes will lay down on the substrate, or exactly how they will swirl and mingle when the comb is run through. I felt that was an apt metaphor for the first day at a new job, which is what today was for me. Hence the marbled tie. Today went well enough that I will definitely be going back tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Quittin' time!

I think this outfit might qualify as a "blaze of glory" for my last day at the University of Maryland. By no chance at all, it happens to be the same outfit I wore for my last day at Johns Hopkins University two years ago, so it is now my official "last day suit." (Not that I anticipate ever wearing it again!) Today's tie was handmade by Olive W. Hanson (of linen, I think), and is one of several ties she made that I bought in a large lot, probably an estate lot. I have already waxed nostalgic about the bygone days of homemade ties, so instead of rewaxing I'll direct you to that post.

I won't be wearing ties for the next couple weeks; contrary to popular legend, I don't wear them around the house. We will be packing up in Greenbelt, Maryland, and moving out to Ithaca, New York, for what promises to be a better quality of life. Thus the tie blog will now go on hiatus; thank you for reading, and check back in mid-September!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Last Friday

I would call this striped shirt with Gene Meyer tie "going out in a blaze of glory," but I still have one more day at work, so this is just another run-of-the-mill Freaky Friday entry. You may be thinking you've seen this tie here before, that I've run out of ties and started repeating them, hoping that no one will notice. But such is not the case. While the tie I wore on October 5, 2005, has the same pattern as this one, it is a different tie, done in different colors. No repeats, ever!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Last Thursday: Looking Ahead

To dispel any confusion, this entry is entitled "Last Thursday" because today was my last Thursday at work. Today's tie is a Cornell University tie, a welcoming gift from my new colleagues at Cornell--and I'm not even there yet! The red on the tie is not just any red, it is carnelian, for university founder Ezra Cornell; the white is also significant, representing Cornell's first president, Andrew Dickson White. Here's a closeup of the university insignia that is repeated on the tie:


The small shield in the upper left of the large shield represents the United States; the small shield on the right represents New York State, being a portion of the New York coat of arms; and the open book in the bottom portion of the shield contains Ezra Cornell's vision statement: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." (Here's an older version of the insignia, in color.) For a complete history of Cornell's various logos (and the reason this is not called a seal), I recommend this .pdf document at the Cornell website.

The tie was made by Wm. Chelsea Ltd. Custom Designed Neckwear of Madison, Connecticut of a lustrous, heavy silk twill. Thank you to my new compatriots, I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last Wednesday: Double Your Pleasure

I started out the day with a horizontally-striped tie from Gene Meyer, who breathes new life into the striped tie milieu:


Then, after a nice lunch out with my boss, I had an afternoon meeting. I was late, but it was okay, because the meeting turned out to be a surprise farewell party from my co-workers! And everyone there, of both genders, was wearing a tie! They presented me with a fabulous University of Maryland tie, so I doffed the Gene Meyer tie and put it on:


On the ground floor of our building there is a display case full of University of Maryland merchandise, including three different neckties. This is the one I wanted! I love the turtle-shell pattern, and the Leonard-of-Paris style diagonal band (with M's in the red part), and of course Testudo, the Maryland Terrapin himself. I wish a heartfelt thanks to the third floor crew; I'll miss you guys!

Three more work days to go... Coming up tomorrow is another special tie!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Last Tuesday

Today was my last Tuesday at my current job. Just four more days! I wore a Jhane Barnes tie from my permanent collection: it has the kind of overlapping tiles pattern that I just can't resist. And the shapes remind me of three-dimensional wooden puzzles like this one, like my dad had when I was little and I could never figure out. Well, not "never," as I did eventually figure them out, but it took a long time.

Jhane Barnes's new fall collection is out. The "Pushed" shirt is especially fascinating owing to a novel weaving technique, which Jhane herself describes in a Quicktime video here.

Positive/Negative

Gene Meyer puts forth this tie with a woven pattern that invites much speculation. The pattern is a simple positive/negative space alternation in two shapes: the borders of one shape define the other shape, in the manner of M.C. Escher's graphical fantasies. Is there any significance to the shapes? Are they stylized ones and zeroes, an oblique reference to the computer age? Are they I's and O's, for Input/Output? They are a mutually exclusive binary system, and as such either of those theories could work. Or they could be lathe-turned wooden candlesticks. Or I'm just reading too much into a simple design. Is it significant that the dark bands are thinner than the light bands? Does anybody really know what time it is? (Positive/Negative is also a song on the second album by Positive Noise, one of the great lost bands of the 80s.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I've got a fever...

And the only prescription is more cowbell! Today's tie by Keith Daniels looks like a Liberty floral as seen in a fever dream, replete with what could be floating eyeballs shooting out death rays. Could this tie be from the same Keith Daniels responsible for this collection of mostly awful novelty ties? (I say "mostly" because the Autumn Scene ties are quite nice.) I don't know; if so, I think he should focus his efforts on finding more fabric like this.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Countess Mara

It took a long time for me to get past the embroidered "CM crown" logo on Countess Mara ties, which always struck me as tacky. But with a fab design like this that embodies the whole swinging modernism aesthetic, claiming credit for it right on the work itself makes perfect sense. The self-styled Countess founded her tie business in 1938; it continues today as a brand of necktie giant Randa/Wemco. The Countess issued perhaps the most famous necktie quote of all time: "Tell a man you like his necktie, and you will see his personality unfold like a flower." Mike Segers also has some sweet Countess Mara ties on display over at Knot a Blog.

(If you're keeping track, yes, I skipped Wednesday, I was home in bed with a nasty bug. A perfect tie-wearing day wasted! Drat!)