If you sleep all day, you wind up awakening to a daunting number of news developments at night. Not that you could have dealt with them had you been conscious earlier. But there's an additional feeling of helplessness at the midnight hour.
Besides which, as a reporter, you really shouldn't call people so long after work to get reactions to the shakeup at WarnerMedia, say. It's considered bad form to rouse someone from a pill-induced stupor just to ask, "Is Stankey's removal of Richard Plepler and David Levy good or bad news for Peter Nelson?"
I've heard it's similarly rude to disrupt a person's sex life to ask why Bob Greenblatt didn't greenlight the Tina Fey-produced sitcom "The Sackett Sisters" at NBC in 2017 -- or whether BG, about to be hired by the Embiggened Bell, might let Turner air boxing to complement the NCAA tournament and Champions League broadcasts already produced under the Bleacher Report brand name.
Such are the issues involved in eating your Eggos at the owl's first hoot.
What to do, then, if your body has you aligned with the wrong time zone -- if at 3:20 am Eastern you've more questions than answers and more answers than conscious friends? Fences may make good neighbors, but somnolent neighbors make for a unique, discomfiting solitude, even in NYC.
You know your schedule is off when you find yourself loading up on Lucky Jack Triple Nitro (concentrated cold brew spiked with espresso) and Honey Bunches of Goat in the corner Rite-Aid and the security guard's fixed gaze indicates not just that you're alone in the store with her (the would-be cashiers busy unloading a truck's contents) but that you're the creep training and common sense dictate she track.
Of course, there's a peace to be found in perusing and parsing material in the gloomy winter darkness. A sense of additional space -- a diameter for more expansive, becalmed, breathing.
This -- besides the mechanical wizardry and craftsmanship -- is why I find independent watchmaker Masahiro Kikuno's wadokei timepiece so stunning: Dividing the day into an equal number of segments (the length of which stretch and contract per seasonal changes) it imbues a hunk of gold with the push-pull, betwixt-and-between dynamics of twilight mornings.
Suspended between dusk and dawn, then, I'm thinking about ...
The fate of Ivy League-aimed clothes retailer J. Press, whose stores in DC and New Haven, whose reopened New York shop, might still hold attraction for naive Biff-wannabes unaware of corporate co-option, in search of their first grosgrain, d-ring belts -- and whose Spring-Summer catalog was released this past week.
In truth, J. Press as WASP clothier was always something of a myth -- for one, the "J" stood for Jacobi and the dude was Jewish; for two, the firm was bought by Japanese brand Kashiyama almost 33 years ago, when Sony seemed fated to take over the world, if not merely Midtown real estate.
I began to read the new catalog eagerly anyway, caring less about misleading branding than about editorial history and Garment District envy.
J. Press: the firm which, at varying points in their own retailing lives, J. Crew and J. McLaughlin and Abercrombie and Vineyard Vines and Structure all wanted to be -- the clothing store whose catalog Tom Wolfe chose to write about, alongside Brooks Brothers', in his overwrought, Kandy-Kolored way:
"At Yale and Harvard, boys...can hardly wait...They're in the old room there poring over all that tweedy, thatchy language."
Former firm president (and founder's grandson) Richard Press had written an opening note that didn't quite live up to Wolfe's work (and his online essay about deceased tailor Felix Samelson, hired by Jacobi after Samelson survived Auschwitz and emigrated from Europe, is well-intentioned but disturbingly casual).
But there's still the world evoked by seeing the look of the brochure and by its typeface, even though I know both are carefully calculated to resemble an older world by the production team of Sako Hirano and Risa Akita.
And I don't blame the Japanese keepers of Preppy faith -- this is an undeniably romantic realm, without which we certainly have more gender equity if less stilted parents for JD Salinger to shock. The beauty of conjuring a prep society without reconstituting it is that only the good survives -- the plaid, herringbone, gingham. There's no inherent paternalism in tattersall -- though I suppose one can't rid madras completely of its colonial origins.
Also, a beautiful effect of being awake while others schluff: there seems less immediacy to the newspaper front page -- it's already a day-old, giving it the effect of being just one out of hundreds of thousands. And so I look at J. Press and think -- when exactly did its offerings make headlines? How long before Ezra Koenig turned it into musical irony did the upturned collar truly die?
Sure, Whit Stillman's answer in the film "Metropolitan" was 1990:
But while you're in a REM cycle I can find instead this New York Times front page from Saturday, May 8, 1976 -- exactly a month and a day after "All the President's Men" hit the box office -- when, apparently, Brooks Brothers stopped offering truly bespoke suits due to a shortage of old Italian tailors.
Which development the New York Times found sufficiently sociological to pair on its front page with news of an actually destructive Italian earthquake -- which is perhaps not as editorially misguided or sensationalist as it sounds or looks now.
Meanwhile, J. Press pressed on with the service.
I have no idea whether that means, in another era of mendacity, we're all gonna be okay. I do think a shrug is maybe more honest and called-for than doomsday alerts, even as I am really glad the diurnal people are treating the public degeneracy as dire. Someone has to, and if I were less tired, maybe I'd volunteer (but here's an easy one: Yo, PG&E -- you seriously spent five years putting off maintenance on a 100-year-old electricity transmission line -- possibly the cause of the fire that killed 85 near Malibu last fall? That' would be some really basic, and therefore evil by way of negligence, at best, Grenfell Tower-Rana Plaza shit -- like someone remade "Chinatown" and replaced water with fire).
I'm thinking about how, in a Rangers season intentionally lost, not long after the Blueshirts engineered their further diminishment, sending away Hayes and Zuccarello (more on the latter man in a moment), my inner hockey idiot loved seeing the Islanders welcome back former captain John Tavares with admirable crassness, in the home they should have never left (the Barn).
I'm not for Don Cherry-inspired CTE-causing ice brawls -- the only sport in which I really wanna see punches is the sport that calls for them by nature. But I am for telling the guy who left Long Island in free agency that he's a sellout and an asshole -- not because it's true (it might be) but because to do so requires unity. And if hockey is about anything, it's about rolling out lines that gel -- about joint eruptions and mutual jeering.
Also, Tavares said he didn't wanna leave. Maybe that was so, but if you've spent your life in Nassau or Sussex County, no one was offering you a contract to go yourself. You're by nature left back. So kill him verbally -- attack his character (within some bounds, but even as your enemy, I'd say, keep 'em as loose as the swinging bathroom door on the last LIRR train outta Penn Station on a Saturday night).
How effing great is this?
And major credit to the Swedish press for not pulling punches or going euphemistic in its coverage of the game. I don't speak the language, but you don't have to in order to pick up this Aftonbladet headline: "Utbuad och sågad av fansen: 'Asshole, asshole, asshole.'”
Also making news in Aftonbladet Friday: A man in Saffle, Sweden, has been ordered to prevent his goats from staring through the window at his neighbors while they eat dinner. The headline is: "Your Goats Are Staring at Us When We Eat Dinner."
And the sub-head continues: "Now Staffan is forced to move his animals."
Staying in Sweden, I was remiss not to wish a happy birthday to Anders Hedberg four days ago, when he turned 68 -- he was one of the first Scandinavian skaters to navigate the NHL, and he's also the scout who supposedly spotted Norway's Mats Zuccarello for the Rangers a decade ago (incidentally or not, he was dropped as a scout four years ago).
An anniversary I'm gonna get ahead of here: Saturday, when Cuban super-welter Erislandy Lara faces undefeated Argentine Brian Castaño for a belt in Brooklyn (and live on Showtime), will mark exactly 39 years since an Emanuel Steward-trained Kronk kid won that pairing its first title -- and while Thomas Hearns scored a KO on the card, he wasn't the boxer who nabbed it. It was lightweight Hilmer Kenty, before a packed local audience that included Detroit-returnee Joe Louis in an arena already named after him:
Kenty held onto the belt for only a year, but managed in that time to make three defenses. We all know what Hearns eventually managed. I can't say I've kept up with Kenty, who's said himself he didn't handle success well. I believe Kenty works for an IT firm now called Strategic Staffing Solutions -- I'd reach out to him, only it's the middle of the night at the moment.
What I can say is that even to get that pro title shot, Kenty had to face a merciless line-up in the amateurs -- this dude lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in the finals of the Golden Gloves and Aaron Pryor in the '76 Olympic Trials.
In 1974, he fought in the first amateur world championship in Havana, Cuba. True story: on the day I went inside a Havana boxing gym to do some interviews four years ago, the kids were all gone -- they were fighting in an amateur tournament elsewhere.
(How long I stay writing in this space is entirely dependent on how long the startup I spent two years working for decides to avoid remunerating me as promised.)
Happy 39th, Hilmer -- you inspired a hell of a lede from Times writer Michael Katz that night:
"Kronk. Say it softly and it's almost like saying it loudly."