The Standard #32

CloudsTo be certain, there may exist a myriad of reasons from which a gentleman can derive the proper motivation for achievement and success. His motivation may arrive from varying sources that are both intensely intimate and personal. And certainly, no one should hold the presumption that they can dictate how the aforementioned gentleman summons that motivation. Nonetheless, perhaps we can gently suggest that one’s inspiration for greatness originate from love, compassion, and positivity. To extract inspiration from anger, hurt, and bitterness is not wise stewardship of one’s time and energy. To enjoy the beautiful rewards of future successes, a gentleman must subject himself to painful reminders of the past. Is such a place worth revisiting? Humbly, I submit that it is not. An accomplished gentleman need not be driven by pain to succeed, as his greatness is deeply rooted in the affirmation that he is already great to begin with; only a positive focus is required to bring it to fruition. To embrace pain and suffering in effort to be successful is counterintuitive, and psychological wounds will never be afforded appropriate healing if one chooses to persistently pick at the scabs. You’re better than that. You are already great. Positively focus on your happiness and accomplishments. Going forward, your pain will not be empowered. Your time and effort will be better utilized because you have better things to do – like succeeding. Let’s go!

Black Thought

WEB_DuBois_19181“Let us realize too that even we disenfranchised have our duties.”

-W.E.B. Du Bois

Responsibility. Every gentleman owns a select portion of this in his community. Regardless of his limiting socioeconomic circumstances, a gentleman must deliver the very best of his talents for the improvement of his neighborhood. I definitely understand that this may be difficult for some gentlemen. One may feel that their status in society does not meet acceptable or suitable standards. However, I say to those individuals who may feel as if life has dealt a cruel poker hand; you still have much to offer. Do not sit idle and allow your gifts to waste and rot. Your community patiently awaits your arrival. Waiting for the “right” time when everything is correct in the world is not an option. What if the “right” time never arrives? The only right time is right now. Do not hesitate. Do not second guess. You are stronger, more intelligent, and more talented than you might realize; it is your duty to improve the environment around you. You possess the necessary tools to make a difference. Act now!

Daddy Diary – Yes, I’m THAT Father In Only 2 Months

Baby AvaThe entire experience has been unbelievably surreal – I am a father to a precious little girl now. That long-awaited moment when I first cradled her in my hands, with her tiny head full of hair nestled softly in my palm, her gazing eyes as clear as the clearest crystal, her pouty mouth and puffy cheeks - I knew I would be transformed forever. Other fathers had offered me counsel before, explaining what that moment would feel like. But no amount of descriptive verbiage can truly illustrate the emotions that stir inside a man when he looks at his newborn child. And so, here we are 2 months removed from her born day, and that feeling has not subsided. Slowly, I have transformed into that father. People told me I would change, and I certainly have. How have I changed? Read on and enjoy my fatherly escapades.

  • My occupation requires, at the very least, almost 95.3 % of the work day be spent inside of a cubicle. For the uninitiated, a confined gentleman may be subject to go stir crazy. It is not unusual to see individuals drifting asleep, playing on their smart phone or tablet, or just leaving their cubicle for an extended break. Me – I pass the time looking at pictures that I snapped the previous night on my smart phone of my little one. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen them countless times. I cannot tire of looking at that cute little face. When my phone flashes green, I hope it’s a new picture my wife has snapped at home. One of my favorites: a candid shot of her after she just pooped in the bathroom. The look on her face is priceless. Even though she was approximately 5 weeks old, her face was one of sheepish mischief. Again – priceless.
  • Yes, I find myself getting hysterically, albeit silently, excited over rudimentary baby movements. Look – she turned her head! Look – she’s grabbing my shirt! Look – she’s smiling at me! It’s a fine line to tiptoe: being a proud father and being obnoxious. So, I’m reserved with whom I share my baby movement updates. I really don’t need a cynic raining on my parade.
  • Because, if said cynic says the wrong thing, I cannot be held responsible for what I will say next. On a base level, I suppose we are all part of the animal kingdom, and thus on a base level, we should all be protective of our young. Now, I understand that may not apply to all, but it should apply. Personally, I have probably become overprotective. I guard against danger founded and unfounded. I make sure no pillows or blankets are near her face when she’s sleeping. And even though she can’t roll yet, I make a little pillow barricade on the edge of the bed to prevent any mishaps, even though no real danger of falling off the bed exists yet. My wife just chuckles and smiles. What can I say? It makes me feel better.
  • Truthfully, I was granted sufficient warning from other fathers, the inevitable would eventually come to pass. Whatever bodily fluid housed within my darling daughter would soon become a deadly, slightly gross projectile that would land somewhere on my person. Moreover, after being tagged with said deadly, slightly gross projectile – I would not even care. And so one evening, I found myself sitting on the couch with my 4 week old daughter sitting on my thigh when she suddenly performed an Oscar worthy Exorcist impersonation and began to regurgitate the contents of her tiny stomach all over me. Instinctively, I cupped my opposite hand under her chin to catch as much of the undigested breast milk as I could. Afterwards, after passing her to my wife for a clean-up, I simply washed my hands and changed my clothing. No worries. Two weeks later, I  valiantly waged battle with a poopy diaper of epic proportions. Fecal matter be damned, I arose the victor. Sorry, did I mention that it was a cloth diaper that was probably too loose? So, yes, stuff was everywhere. I had to rinse her off one-handed in the sink. Grab a towel with my teeth to lay on the changing table. Remove the poopy diaper – all while my wife slept in the bed a few feet away (she was tired, she deserved the nap). Of course, I had to administer an impromptu bath, but that was okay. It just afforded more time to bond with my little girl laugh about the previous adventure.
  • So, I stand approximately 6 feet and 1 inch in height. I clock in at 2 hundred and – ahem – pounds. I’m bald. I’m black. And I have a wooly beard. The presentation can be deceivingly intimidating. A co-worker once referred to me as her gentle giant. Yes, it’s true, I do have some soft spots – especially now when it pertains to my daughter. Prime example: This past weekend, my wife introduced the idea of getting our daughter’s ears pierced. Not comfortable with the whole procedure, nonetheless, I acquiesced to the idea. As soon as the pediatrician walked in with the proper ear piercing tools, I felt uneasy. I knew nothing bad would happen, but I still felt uneasy. Now, not too many things shake me. I worked in a hospital for 8 years. I’ve seen amputated feet and hands, dead bowels, handled fecal and urine samples, swabbed sputum (sometimes nasty bloody sputum), and generally worked in an environment that many could not stomach. However, my daughter’s potential cries had me rattled. These wouldn’t be normal cries – I’m sleepy, come feed me cries. These were going to be: Ouch, what the hell was that, screaming cries. I knew inside I would not be able to handle it. So I left the room. Pop! And then the cries began. Now, I either have super hearing or those walls were thin. So I decided to just leave the building entirely until the mayhem was over. Yes, I’m a mega-softy for my little girl now.
  • My creativity has gone through the roof! A crying and fussy baby requires a creative father. Thus, I am more creative now than I’ve ever been. Need music to calm a crying baby? Well, I’ve belted tunes from Troop to The Commodores to The Deele to Stevie Wonder. Hell, I was even able to rock her to sleep dancing to the theme music from Taxi! Shout out to Bob James for that smooth jazz instrumental “Angela”. I read on the Internet that a baby likes the sound of a high pitched voice, so I created this one particular voice that never fails to draw her attention or garner a smile. My wife says I sound like a character from The Muppets. She never says which one. I think she is perhaps thinking of Beaker. Peek-a-Boo. Reading stories. Listening to Mozart. Whatever it takes!

I’m sure there is more to come, as she is only 2 months old. And while it is challenging, it is certainly rewarding. I would not give it up for anything. Stay tuned for more!

 

Style & Substance – The Floral Lapel Pin

Flower Lapel

Lanvin – Mr Porter

So, the idea has been dancing around in my head for the past year. Floral lapel pin or no floral lapel pin? This simple, yet elegant gentleman’s accessory has existed for seemingly centuries, but contemporary utilization had relegated it’s purpose to weddings or other formal occasions that begged strict dress attire. That is, however, until Nucky Thompson expertly demonstrated the debonair art of pinning a floral accessory to one’s lapel, and then proceeded with business as usual, ignoring the ornate touch that meticulously placed it there. Absent any signals that would predict a downward trend in popularity; the floral lapel pin is literally everywhere now – casual or business. Pin or button version; arriving in an array of materials from silk to wool. And so, regretfully, I have procrastinated and not jumped on the bandwagon. The bandwagon seems full. Seriously, it appears that every gentleman is wearing one on every Tumblr page I come across. Last month, I was going to make the plunge, and then my wife spotted Jalen Rose rocking one on ESPN. She thought it was ugly. And truthfully – it was. Too big. Too garish. Color didn’t complement any of his ensemble. It was kind of bad. Nevertheless, I believe my selection process will result in better choices. Spring is officially here – granted it does not feel like it – and the weather is going to necessitate the need for lively color. No time will be better than now to add a floral flair into the mix. Right? So, happy hunting I go. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Black Thought

james baldwin 2“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

The knowledgeable gentleman is reconciled with the reality that anything worth the attempt of transforming could ultimately result in failure. Nevertheless, the very real possibility of failure does not deter or dissuade him from focusing his efforts to bring about change. He understands that change is not fully realized when absent an active catalyst. Please note: Fruitful, bountiful harvests are not born to barren soil. Work must be done. And so, if a gentleman desires to see a difference, he must ultimately commit himself to making a difference. A gentleman must steel his resolve and confront what needs to be confronted, failure be damned. So, the question for you is: What do you want to see changed, and just exactly what are you doing about it?

The Standard #18

 

Jesse OwensFirmly standing upright under an unrelenting, blistering storm of vitriolic contempt and caustic distrust, the successful gentleman remains undeterred in his journey towards triumph. Triumph – born of an unwavering resolve and complete assurance in his abilities; this gentleman cannot be denied what he has tirelessly striven for. And despite ardent attempts to trivialize his work, undermine his legitimacy, or boldly question his intellect; ignorance and hatred will be trumped every time. Believe it. No amount of mockery can shake his confidence. He is resolute. He is intelligent. He is courageous. More importantly, he recognizes that there exists individuals consumed with hubris and guided by conceit, which ultimately hastens their downfall. So, he stays in his lane and does what he does best – win. Are you a winner?

The Standard #31

 

MountainIt is wise for a gentleman to avoid an ascension that strays him amongst mountains of hubris; an ascension that betrays his remembrance of the ever distant valleys beneath his feet. Gentlemen, be not thoughtlessly mistaken, your climb towards success does not preclude the possibility of an agonizing fall. Depending upon the heights that one rises, arrogance may silently corrupt your character, and thus the descent could be resolutely sharp, steep and abrupt. This is not say that a gentleman should not achieve or strive for the greatest heights of success or prosperity. To be certain, a gentleman can certainly ride amongst the highest clouds of accomplishment, and yet remain grounded in modesty and humility. It is the appreciation of the valleys that makes the view from above that much more beautiful. It is the appreciation of the valleys that assuage any fear of falling. Because, if a gentleman so finds himself in the midst of a certain plunge, his spirit is steeled with the knowledge that he will rise again. Conversely, a successful gentleman may never experience any affecting gravity upon his achievements. Nonetheless, the underlying message is steeped in consistency, never lose sight of your origins and appreciate the valleys of one’s life that have transformed into triumph. And if you are not there yet, don’t worry, you will be. See you at the top.

Review – Swiss Stays – Collar Stays

Swiss StaysFor the discerning gentleman that appreciates the unspoken sophistication that an unobtrusive accessory may grant; the patented adjustable collar stay from Swiss Stays is under TGS’s microscope today. Birthed from sartorial necessity by custom clothier and founder of Astor & Black, David Schottenstein, the adjustable collar stay was invented to mitigate any frustrations that may arise when trying to coordinate the correct collar stay with the correct shirt collar. Now, for the sake of definition, a collar stay is a small shirt accessory, fashioned in the shape of shirt collar tip, designed to slide into specifically cut pockets beneath the shirt collar. The purpose is to provide much-needed stability and weight to a shirt collar that can that may be prone to floppiness and slackness.

Now, a collar stay may arrive in the material form of brass, stainless steel, titanium, plastic, mother of pearl, horn, etc. Some shirts may already possess collar stays upon purchase – most likely of the plastic or brass variety. They are also designed with varying lengths for the differing collar styles that may be on the market. With Swiss Stays, the available materials for purchase are as follows: plastic (PVC), stainless steel, brass, and titanium. For review purposes, TGS was shipped both the PVC and titanium versions. Pertaining to length, the offerings from Swiss Stays have four adjustable positions for a gentleman’s preference as demonstrated below.

Swiss Stays 2

So, let’s jump into the dapper details of these unique collar stays. As mentioned above, the uniqueness of these collar stays reside in the function of adaptability. The titanium collar stays are decidedly sturdy and strong – almost to a fault. It is going to take a little finger strength to adjust your stays into the desired positions. I’ve found that the easiest method is to use your thumb to push apart the two moving parts, and then push them together simultaneously to move back into the starting position (visual #1). With the passage of time, perhaps the moving parts will loosen sufficiently for the various configurations. One thing is for sure, these collar stays won’t break anytime soon.

Now, the PVC collar stays were much more flexible than its titanium associate. It should be noted that although the material is plastic, it still feels stronger than the plastic stays one might find in a newly purchased shirt. This plastic version from Swiss Stays would probably suit the gentleman who isn’t particular about floppy collars, but may be intrigued about the possibility of keeping them in check.

Housed in a metal package that closely resembles a vintage Zippo lighter, three pairs of any collar stay of choice sit neatly arranged in two rows of three. Each version of collar stay must be returned to its original folded position to be placed back into its case. I should also add – as a gentleman who has misplaced a few collar stays over time – the metal storing case is a nice touch. It allows a gentleman to smartly keep track of his stays.

Swiss Stays 3And now – pricing: Available in four different materials and price points (PVC $8; Stainless Steel $20; Brass $30; and Titanium $50), they come in packs of six and fit all 24 different styles of shirt collars on the market. Also available, a sterling silver leather gift set ($150). Depending on your sartorial lifestyle, a cool set of these unique collar stays could be the solution you have desired to tame that undesirable case of runaway collar. If you’re already an owner of a few collar stays, this offering from Swiss Stays may be worth your attention. If not, they may afford a fresh approach to how you handle your shirt collar. Stay stylish gentlemen.

The Standard #3

harlemThe knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. When he gazes into the mirror, the reflection of greatness should readily greet him. It does not begin with the clothing he chooses to attire himself in, nor the vehicle he selects to navigate city streets. Not the place of employment where he makes a living. Not the amount of money presently residing in his bank account. Why? Well, because character starts with his self-worth. His esteem is not erected upon a mountain of biodegradable materialism – subject to decay and waste. No, the gentleman’s image is based on gentlemanly fundamentals that are concrete and certain. Virtue. Honor. Principle. Forthrightness. The Gentlemen’s Standard.

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