Made In The USA, Soon: Pacific Blue Denims

Last week I told you the bad news about the closing of Cone Mills. Today I have some good news. Pacific Blue Denims has announced that they are buying six of the Draper X3 looms to made selvedge denim in the United States again.

To find out more about the Draper looms and another, much smaller operation using them here in the United States, take a look at Huston Textiles. Note that neither one of these firms actually makes finished clothing; they are suppliers to the large market of small-batch clothing makers out there, many of who are either in Japan or the United States. Cross your fingers for Pacific Blue — and I’ll keep you posted as I find out more!

The Darkest Days Of The Les Paul (Kind Of)

When I got home from the mountain bike park yesterday I saw an email from a friend telling me to watch the above video. “Is that a P-90/humbucker combination in Schon’s Les Paul?” he asked. “I’ve never seen that.” My off-the-cuff response was, “Well, it’s a Les Paul BFG combo, just like my Les Paul Gator.” But that was an obviously ridiculous response because the BFG wasn’t introduced until twenty years after this video was filmed.

So I decided to do a little bit of Internet (and actual book!) research to find out what was going on. The answer ended up being a sort of Seventies synecdoche, incorporating various sorts of concepts and tropes — from guitar-as-tool to Boomer-driven-nostalgia-control to plain-and-simple corporate ignorance.

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Weekly Roundup: The Chicken Edition

Brother Bark and I have our birthdays just a couple of weeks apart. I don’t know what to say other than the known fact that our father is a fellow who sticks to a routine.

Happy forty-sixth to me. Here’s Jaco on his 30th birthday, playing a concert for his friends and family. It seems unfair that I’ve outlived Jaco by a decade. The less you accomplish in life, the longer it takes for you to do it.

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.

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No Longer Made In The USA: Cone Mills, Thanks To The Human Garbage At “Platinum Equity”

Heritage America, meet Modern America. One year ago, the International Textile Group was purchased by Platinum Equity Partners. If you’re not familiar with what “private equity” firms do, it’s this: They buy companies that are perceived as undervalued, then they go through and ruthlessly force every aspect of that company through a race-to-the-bottom process. The newly-efficient parts of the company are then stripped and sold. It is a process by which the rich become richer and the poor become unemployed, and it represents late-stage capitalism at its bloodthirsty, inhumane worst.

The flagship plant of International Textile Group is the Cone Mills denim production facility in North Carolina. Few people expected that it would survive the private-equity process. Sure enough, ITG announced that it is terminating production and closing the plant after 117 years of operation. Think of that! This plant survived the world wars, the Great Depression, the energy crisis, the Carter Depression, and the 2008 recession. But it couldn’t survive a year of private-equity management.

The employees are sad, but proud to have made the world’s finest denim. From now on, the high-end denim market will be entirely owned by the Japanese, who treasure the concept of “American jeans” and who have created modern machines to faithfully reproduce the irregularities of Cone Mills’ century-old production line. There will still be denim fabric made in America, courtesy of “Denim North America” in Georgia. You will still be able to get USA-made denim jeans from Dearborn and a few other suppliers. But the real high-end fabric, the stuff that makes my Flint&Tinder jeans so perfect, the fabric that served as the basis for the USA-made Lucky 363 Vintage jeans — that’s gone with the wind. So a bunch of billionaire jerkoffs can increase their rate of return by a fraction of a percent.

If you want to try the Cone Mills products before it’s too late, I’ve rounded up some options for you, based on some personal experience.

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Haro Lineage Master Build Sheet Plus Bonus “Great Santini”-Style Track Footage

I’ve had enough communication regarding this bike across various channels (email, Instagram, et al) that I thought I’d publish the complete build sheet for it along with a few more photos. Plus I have some footage of the new-for-Fall-2017 pump track at Rays. Last but definitely not least, let’s address the Mexican-Silverado-sized elephant in the room: Hey, dummy, you have three Haro resissue bikes? Don’t you know they’re made in Taiwan?

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Weekly Roundup: Ladies’ Night Edition

“Why are all these women riding around here?” John asked. “Just because they call it Ladies’ Night and then women come out for some reason?”

“It’s more than that, John,” I replied, as another trio of Millennial girls in yoga pants wobbled past us on rented Trek dirt-jumper bikes. “It’s only fourteen dollars to ride tonight if you’re a girl. Normally it’s thirty bucks on Saturday nights.”

“Why would anybody ever do anything just to save fourteen dollars?” He was legitimately puzzled.

“Let’s hope that’s never a problem you have,” I laughed. It made me think about a couple of weekends in the winter of 1987 where I didn’t have the eight bucks I would have needed to go race — or my bike needed parts that I couldn’t quite afford in order to be ready. They say that sort of thing builds character but I don’t recall feeling characterful sitting in the house while my friends were racing. There was no character-building involved in sitting in the school cafeteria on Monday morning listening to the other kids brag about running both races on a weekend. Sixteen dollars!

For our Saturday trip to Ladies’ Night, I built a new-school Haro Master reissue more or less from scratch. Just to amuse myself, and because I can afford it, and because I have enough character to last a lifetime when it comes to self-denial stuff like that. Fuck character. Let’s stack the living room with bikes. Let’s buy a 6.2-liter truck with ventilated seats and use it just to drive to the indoor MTB park. Let’s have handmade English shoes and Brioni suits and let’s put the dinner tab for eighteen people on the Platinum Amex. And let’s hope that my son always remains slightly mystified as to why you’d change anything in your life to save fourteen dollars.

(Oh, and let’s hope he grows up to run down the yoga-pants college girls just like he does in the video.)

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Made in the USA: SILCA

Here’s an unusual Made-In-USA story: SILCA, a manufacturer of bicycle pumps and assorted tools, was founded and operated in Italy until the death of its founder, at which point the new owner brought it to the United States. More specifically, he brought it to Indianapolis. I’ve heard so much about SILCA’s stuff, and all of it good, so when they put a few items into a scratch-and-dent sale I figured I had no choice but to pull the trigger.

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This is 40

Warning: Stream of Consciousness typing ahead.

I turned 40 two weeks ago. My kids made a big deal of it, with black balloons, and funny signs around the house that said things like “Lordy, Lordy, Dad is 40.” It was cute. I spent about half of my Age 39 Season telling people that I was 40, anyway, so when the actual day came, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I’ve made a million jokes about being “halfway to the eternal dirt nap,” and although death doesn’t exactly excite me, I no longer fear it like I once did.

I think what messes with most people when they hit a milestone birthday is what I like to call the “Should Haves.” Everybody has a list of things that they think that they should have accomplished/attained/obtained by their 40th (or 30th or 50th, etc.) birthday. I’ve heard countless friends and family say things like “I should have a million dollars in my retirement account my the time I’m 40,” or “I should be the Vice President of Sales for my company,” or “I should have my house paid off.”

Frankly, I don’t worry about that sort of thing very much. I know it’s very much in vogue to set goals and achieve them, blah blah. Listen, I’ve been in ridiculously good shape (two years ago) and I’ve been twenty lbs overweight (um, probably now). I’ve had six figures in my checking account and I’ve had a red number in my checking account. I’ve managed a group of 80 people and I’ve been an individual contributor. I’ve had Hyundais and I’ve had Porsches. And what I’ve learned from all of my material and frankly solipsistic obsessions over the years is this:

None of it matters very much unless you are happy and healthy. But I’m starting to think about health and happiness in a different way now.

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CPO Test Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H

For the eight of you who have been following my automotive scribblings here on RG since early 2017, you likely have gathered that I like the premium offerings of Ford Motor Company. This is of course true. It must be if I have two Town Cars. Two! But despite my close relationship with my local Lincoln dealer, and the great service I’ve gotten from them over the years, as late as 2015, I hadn’t driven any Lincoln automobile newer than a 2011 model, and tended to favor the good old final-generation Town Car. At the time I had a 2000 Town Car and a 2006 Volvo V50 station wagon.

Back in the summer of 2015, I stopped in to check out the used cars at Strieter Lincoln and yak with my favorite salesman, Peter Clarke. I’d been eyeing the last generation MKZs, as CPO 2010-12 models were frequently sitting on the lot with attractive pricing, say 22K or so. Not bad. Sure, it was based on the Fusion, but the upgrades were nice, especially the interiors.

An especially appealing 2011 MKZ was on the lot with black cherry metallic paint and off-white leather. Peter was more than happy to throw me the keys. It was a V6 model.

I turned out of the lot and stepped on it. Holy crap! This thing was zippy! I enjoyed driving it, but ultimately my cheapskate…err, frugal personality overrode and I returned the keys without making an offer.

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