24 February 2012

Black History Month: Miles Davis

Once, when asked to describe his style, Miles simply answered that he was "Clean as a motherfucker." I couldn't agree more. As he got older, Miles let his style lead him into the realm of the bizarre (and often, downright gaudy), but what we have pictured here are examples of Miles in his prime, exhibiting pure, unadulterated cool.

See that jacket in the very top picture? Miles designed it. Simple and elegant, his sportcoat was designed to have as few seams as possible. You'll notice there is no shoulder seam. See the suit in the bottom picture? Miles designed it. Only one working and one decorative button. The double breasted equivalent of a single button jacket. This man was a trumpet player by profession, but made a career out of being a stylish, cool motherfucker.


22 February 2012

The Seiko Lord Marvel, 36,000

Ahhh... the vintage Seiko obsession continues. Had to send back the chronograph, sadly. One of the hands detached from the bottom sub dial after the first day of wearing it, and while I know it was a vintage piece, the guy who sold it to me had allegedly had it all checked out prior to shipping and I don't feel that a recently serviced watch should have broken in this manner. He was not very friendly about the sending back process either... I had to get ebay involved. The seller refused to work things through with me, asked ebay to decide the case, and when they decided in my favor, he balked and said he wasn't going to respect their decision. Ha! That is so... elementary school. The world has too many people of his caliber in it. Perpetrators of low-level energies. It took a lot of focus not to drop to his substandard energy level.

Anyhow, that aside, I found this beauty and had to go for it. Built in September of 1969, this Beautiful Seiko Lord Marvel is in mint condition and functions flawlessly. It came with an expandable band, which I replaced with a Rolex-style jubilee bracelet for now (see the before and after photos). It may ultimately end up with another band entirely. The cool thing about this particular watch, is its movement paved the way for the high end King Seiko and Grand Seiko watches. This Lord Marvel possesses one of the first ever "hi-beat" movements. What that means is, the movement in this watch "beats" 36,000 times per hour, or ticks 10 times per second (When this watch was made, Rolex's best movement beat 19,800 times per hour or 5.5 times per second, and to this day their best tops out at 28,800 or 8 times per second). This provides for a sweeping second hand so smooth, it looks like a classroom wall clock and ticks so fast it sounds like a flea with a jackhammer. It keeps incredibly accurate time, down to mere seconds per day.

The fact that it has a manual winding movement keeps the watch very thin. I love its simplicity: no date window, stick markers, and a slightly off-white dial that most closely resembles the surface of a pearl. Until I can get a King Seiko or Grand Seiko, this lovely watch is a testament to the incredibly high-quality construction of the Seiko watch family and I'm honored to own it. I can literally just sit and stare at the eerily smooth sweeping second hand and my body begins to relax. The one in the video is not mine, but watch this video (above) of a similar Lord Marvel in action. Now that's a sweeping second hand. Freakin' awesome!


14 February 2012

The Auto-Chrono

A Tag Heuer Carrera is a beautiful watch. Likewise is an Omega Speedmaster (I pledged to fill this site with things that I love. It just so happens that I love, and have loved for as long as I can remember, wristwatches).  But with automatic movements, these watches with a chronograph feature are $2,000 (used) on the cheap side.

A couple of years ago I passed up the chance to buy a used but in like-new condition Hamilton Jazzmaster chronograph for $450. I didn't think about the fact that the Swiss Valjoux chronograph movement that gave life to that watch would cost $400 by itself, with no watch built around it! Skipping out on that purchase is something that I regret to this day.

I have since been on the hunt for an automatic chronograph, and I finally found one that captured my fancy. My last post mentioned my new appreciation for vintage Seiko watches, and this beautiful Seiko Chronograph manufactured in January of 1977 is the newest member of my collection. It is in near-mint condition, which is impressive for a watch that is 35 years old, and it very closely resembles the aforementioned Swiss-Made watches.

Now don't think that I am dogging Swiss brands... I will at some point be writing about at least one, but this Japanese automatic chronograph is built like a tank, and its 21 jewel movement is very accurate. It bears timeless and classic style, and with a midnight blue dial and leather band, I'll never have to worry about which color shoes or belt I pair it with.

Let's face it... a watch is really more about form than function. Our cell phones will tell us what time is is, and if the accuracy of a time piece was what we were concerned with we'd all be wearing $10 quartz watches anyway! The important thing about a watch is that it makes the person who wears it happy and serves his (or her) purpose, and my Seiko fits the bill to a "T".


10 February 2012

The Vintage Watch: Another Example

For many years now I have had a passion for watches. At one point, I was into knock-off Rolexes and Breitlings and what have you. Then I got serious about authenticity. I owned a couple of genuine Rolex watches and then realized they really aren't all they're cracked up to be. I owned an Omega, which was less costly than a Rolex and had a better movement. An Ebel chronograph is currently part of my collection, but I've gotten to the point where big and sporty watches are not really my bag. Neither are high-end brands noted for their recognizable logos like a Rolex crown or an Omega... Ω.

What I look for in a watch today is versatility, quality, and beauty. A watchmaker friend of mine has owned and worked on every watch under the sun, from Rolex and Omega to Patek Philippe. Today, based on seeing the insides of every watch imaginable, his favorite time pieces are vintage Seiko mechanicals. His daily wear watch is a King Seiko automatic. King Seikos are *chronometer quality watches with mechanical movements on par with anything turned out by your high-end Swiss brands. They can get quite expensive, with the nicer specimens averaging around $1000 on ebay.

I love the way a lot of these vintage Seikos look, and wanted one for myself, but a King Seiko is not in my budget right now. I did a little looking, and then I found the watch for me. A Seiko Sportsman from the 1960's. This watch features a manual winding, 17 jewel movement. There are a great many Swiss movements that are quite similar. This watch looks beautiful, despite being some fifty years old, and has been recently serviced to run flawlessly. It keeps excellent time.

It also very closely resembles a Rolex DateJust, or a vintage Omega Seamaster (pictured at right), but it doesn't have to be one of those guys. It's allure is all its own, and with this watch I couldn't be happier. Seikos have exceptionally well-made movements, and I am just as proud to own this watch as anything else I've had in the past.


*Chronometer quality watches must complete a series of tests to insure accuracy in all variances of temperature and pressure

07 February 2012

Everything In Its Place

The average person's life is very complex, and in our current ever-changing social climate, it seems as if our lives are only growing more and more complicated. It used to be that one person in a household could work, assume the role of a "bread-winner", and support a family. Now, in most cases, those days are gone. I know those days are gone in my personal situation!

Then, on top of the growing complexity of each individual person's random collection of self-interests, there is the collective complexity of the family unit; picking up the kids from school, driving them to soccer practice, and cooking a meal at the end of the day are all tasks that somebody in the household has to take on... either that, or enlist the help of a willing and available family member (my parents are a Godsend).

I guess where I'm going with all of this is... it's time to get organized.
I have a pretty good memory, and I usually remember all of the things that I have to do in a given day. I also have a smart phone with a calender feature, and frankly, smart phones are so intuitive that my calender automatically updates with details as trivial as my second grade teacher's birthday. It would seem as if a device like this would be sufficient to keep one's schedule in line, right?

Well let me revert to my January 31st post about my quest to reinvent myself. Keeping all of my to-dos organized internally meant virtually storing my tasks alongside the clutter of a mind and body made sluggish by booze, cigarettes, and complacency. Even if my memory was acute, I was not creating an environment for my precious tasks befitting of their importance. And even still, even if I had not been drinking, smoking and taking my life for granted, I was not establishing a graphic interface for the cataloging of my time. (Can you guess where this is going?)

Get a calender. There, I said it. This is where this whole post has been going. And not the calender hanging on the kitchen wall with kittens or hot air balloons on it either. Get a blotter-style desk calender and keep it in a place that will consistently be kept free from clutter. No matter what state of disarray may befall the rest of your home, keep this place free of debris. Keep a pen with the calender that writes smoothly and boldly. I like .07 millimeter gel pens.

These calenders are most commonly seen in a 22" by 17" layout. Since I made my dresser into my special, clutter-free place, this size was little too big for my needs. On ebay, however, I found a calender with the more modest dimensions of 17" by 11". This size is perfect for me. The way I am looking at the calender is that each square is a day of my life that I can allocate however I see fit. On a day that I am working, I am selling one of my squares to my boss for a day's pay. On a day that I am not working, I can use a square for leisure, or self-improvement, or tidying up my house... you get the point. But a graphical layout such this calender is necessary to truly view one's time as a commodity.

Remember the definition of success. Success is enjoying your time. It is our responsibility to "fill our squares" with things that make us happy. Things we enjoy. Most importantly, however, it is important to remember that we choose how we fill our squares. The process of learning to enjoy the choices we make and the allocation of our squares is the pathway to a successful lifestyle.


03 February 2012

The Vintage Timepiece

Something I like...
My Zodiac Spacetronic electronic watch, circa 1968. Battery powered and regulated by a transistor. The second hand sweeps, like a watch with an automatic movement would. Cleaned and maintained to keep perfect time. Understated, cool, classic.


02 February 2012

What's In a Name?

The Large Print. What does that mean, exactly? Underneath this blogs title is a quote by Tom Waits, one of my (if not my number 1) all time favorite performance artists. "The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away." I like this quote a lot. In fact, it is also printed on my checks and on the back of my business cards. Why do I find it so profound?

The quote comes from a song called "Step Right Up" off of Waits's album Small Change, released in 1976. I've included a video of a live performance from BBC TV in 1979, but for those who don't speak "Waits" (his growl can be hard to discern for beginners), the lyrics are included also. Take a few moments to view the performance or to read the lyrics, and then the explanation will reconvene.

Step Right Up
by Tom Waits, 1976
Step right up, step right up, step right up,
Every one's a winner, bargains galore
That's right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on
One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales
You need perfume? we got perfume, how 'bout an engagement ring?
Something for the little lady, something for the little lady,
Something for the little lady, hmm
Three for a dollar
We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colors, one size fits all
No muss, no fuss, no spills, you're tired of kitchen drudgery
Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business
Going out of business sale
Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man
Don't settle for less
How do we do it? how do we do it? volume, volume, turn up the volume
Now you've heard it advertised, don't hesitate
Don't be caught with your drawers down,
Don't be caught with your drawers down
You can step right up, step right up

That's right, it fillets, it chops, it dices, slices,
Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
And it finds that slipper that's been at large
under the chaise lounge for several weeks
And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
And it's only a dollar, step right up, it's only a dollar, step right up

'Cause it forges your signature
If not completely satisfied, mail back unused portion of product
For complete refund of price of purchase
Step right up
Please allow thirty days for delivery, don't be fooled by cheap imitations
You can live in it, live in it, laugh in it, love in it
Swim in it, sleep in it,
Live in it, swim in it, laugh in it, love in it
Removes embarrassing stains from contour sheets, that's right
And it entertains visiting relatives, it turns a sandwich into a banquet
Tired of being the life of the party?
Change your shorts, change your life, change your life
Change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy, get rid of your wife,
And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax
Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack, see you later alligator
See you later alligator
And it steals your car
It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking
It's a friend, and it's a companion,
And it's the only product you will ever need
Follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing
Well it takes weights off hips, bust, thighs, chin, midriff,
Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job, it is a job
And it strips the phone company free take ten for five exchange,
And it gives you denture breath
And you know it's a friend, and it's a companion
And it gets rid of your traveler's checks
It's new, it's improved, it's old-fashioned
Well it takes care of business, never needs winding,
Never needs winding, never needs winding
Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis,
Christ, you don't know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy,
C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
'Cause it's effective, it's defective, it creates household odors,
It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
It gives you an erection, it wins the election
Why put up with painful corns any longer?
It's a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home
We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it
We need your business, we're going out of business
We'll give you the business
Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale
Receive our free brochure, free brochure
Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included
Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,
Step right up, step right up, step right up
You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away
Step right up, you can step right up, you can step right up
C'mon step right up
(Get away from me kid, you bother me...)
Step right up, step right up, step right up, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon
Step right up, you can step right up, c'mon and step right up,
C'mon and step right up

With this song Waits proves himself a master of tongue-in-cheek satire while beautifully illustrating scientific principles of energy. You see, in this universe, there are only two energies in existence. They are love, and fear.
Love energy is of course, any positive aspect of our life experience. Goodness, health, confidence, affirmation. God.
When John Lennon said "all you need is love", he was absolutely right, because love energy encompasses all things positive.
Fear energy is all the negative. Evil, sickness, poverty, despair, degradation.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Fear does not come from God, for fear paves the way for destruction. Fear leads people to do evil things. Fear crushes and closes off one's spirit; and we can only exist as a slave to fear or as a servant of love.

So Step Right Up! Where does this fit in? Invoking the demeanor of an advertiser, carnival barker, or a fast-talking pitch man, Tom Waits jovially shows how easy it is to invite fear into our lives. Advertisements are designed to program one's mind to accept a product or idea, and advertising, for the most part, plays off of the energy of fear. Think of how most ads are worded; "Hurry, while supplies last!" "Sale ends soon!" "One day only!" "Don't let this deal pass you by!"
All of these phrases are designed to make us afraid of missing out, and the fear of missing out leads to other fears. Failure, for example. "If I don't do this now I will fail. If I fail I will not be successful." As I mentioned in the inaugural post the fear of lacking in success is a powerful fear.

I think Tom was implying all of this when he wrote "Step Right Up". He does such a great job of showing how utterly ridiculous it is to buy into these marketing strategies, yet we find ourselves succumbing to this methodology everyday. Every limited time offer we see keeps us from even questioning our need of a specific item. We just know that if we do need it, we gotta act now! We can decide if we actually need it later, after we get it and take it home and realize all sales are final.

All of this is why I called this site The Large Print. The large print giveth. I want this site to focus on positivity. On giving, and not taking. I want this site to be about ridding life of things that impede success- things that keep me from enjoying my time. I have so many things that were purchased under the "Hurry up and buy now" mentality that I enjoyed for a day and then relegated to the bottom of a shelf or a drawer somewhere. Then I later felt badly about using up financial energy on whatever the item, after the small print came into play to take away my joy, stating that I had no need for such a thing.

The large print giveth... Let's leave it at that.