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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Playing Vinyl - Rega Planar 3

Mark Kwak

I am an audiophile. The first step towards recovery is admission, right? Just thinking back- it's quite sad how much time and money I spilled into this hobby of high-fidelity audio. Believe it or not, I used to buy, sell, or trade at least 3 headphones a week for almost a full year before I realized I was going a bit crazy. And we're not talking iPhone earbuds, we're talking $2,000 headphones. Pretty insane for a college kid with no income.

I scaled it down for a while as I was happy enough with my headphones and speakers setups (plural on purpose), but living in San Francisco got me really thinking about the piece that has always been missing from my high fidelity audio setup. Vinyl.   

Thus, I recently bought myself a little present. The Rega Planar 3 turntable. For those in the know, this is quite a legend of a turntable, one that's been around for many decades. This is Rega's newest 2016 edition of this popular turntable, and I found a deal that I just could not say no to. 

Beautiful, huh? So far I love it, and it's really got me enjoying music again. Went out on craigslist, bought a bunch of old records, and have been enjoying that amazing sound quality only vinyl can provide. I won't get into the "does vinyl sound better than CD/MP3/etc." debate, as I think there are benefits and cost to all formats, but I can say the tangible element of setting down a record on a spinning turntable is quite rewarding. 

In case you think it's a waste of money to spend this much on a turntable, I do have some recommendations at the lower price levels. Take a look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, Denon DP-300F (get the upgraded ortofan stylus if you can), and of course the legendary Technics 1200 Mk2. You'll need to find that last one used. 

What have I been digging?

Mark Kwak

It's been a blue moon and a half since my last post, and fourteen blue moons since my post previous to that. For the past year, I've really lowered Simpler Man as a priority in my life and though I am truly sorry for those who have tried to continue following me, I hope you understand that life can sometimes just gets in the way.

However, I do want to continue posting if I possibly can, so I'll try in baby steps. For this post, I figured I'd let you guys know of some of things I've been digging recently. Without further ado...

Patagonia Long Root Ale. Yes, Patagonia makes beer now. Apparently it saves the world too, though let's be real, I don't really feel like I'm saving the world by drinking beer. Well, maybe the world inside my head? Overall, great tasting beer, but too expensive for what it is. $10 for 4 cans! 

L1001286.jpg

Japanese Whiskey. My interest sparked a while back when Yamazaki won best whiskey in the world with their Sherry Cask Whiskey. So which one did I get in this picture? Well, none so far. But I did get a chance to taste a couple in the recent weeks. Ultimately, I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into before committing to a whole bottle. My favorite so far from my tastings? The Nikka Yoichi. Unfortunately it's a cool $82. 

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Leica M240. Wondered where these pics came from? From my new toy- which cost me an arm and a leg. And another arm. Yes this picture is black and white, and the camera looks like a film camera, but it's actually a color digital one. The last sentence makes me sound like a poser but I swear to you the camera's actually quite well-reviewed. Anyhow, this will NOT be the last I talk about this particular item, but thought I'd share.

Where have I been?

Mark Kwak

That's a Baracuda G9 Harrington jacket in case anyone is curious.

That's a Baracuda G9 Harrington jacket in case anyone is curious.

Hi guys,

It's been a really long time, and I'm so sorry for that! If you're still with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For the past eight months or so, I've been working on a exciting project that has been a dream of mine for a very long time. I wrote and directed a short film called Rules of Exchange - a suspense/thriller about a negotiation gone bad. Unfortunately, with only so many hours in a day, it was at the cost of updating Simpler Man. Perhaps since the film is now completed, I can get back on the horse!

If you are or have been curious of what I've been up to, here's a way to support! (October 6, 2016 edit: we succeeded with the Kickstarter campaign!) Hopefully it's a piece of work you really enjoy.

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

Mark Kwak

Source: HypeBeast

Source: HypeBeast

One of my favorite clothing stores in the world is Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers. Why? Because Thom Browne is one of my favorite designers, Brooks Brothers is one of my favorite clothing stores, and the two are married in this collection.

The semi-annual 50%+ sales, the high quality fabrics, wonderful customer service, and classic American design also contribute to my love for this brand. I will admit that most of what they sell in their stores I would never wear in public (I mean the patterns can be downright ridiculous), but their basics - like a white oxford shirt or navy blazer - are sometimes unbeatable at sale prices.

Source: Wearethemarket

Source: Wearethemarket

Unfortunately it was announced late last year that the collection won't be renewing for another season. Seems like Thom Browne and Brooks Brothers couldn't get an agreement going, as outlined by this NYTimes article. The physical stores will also be shutting down after this month, though it's only two stores in total - one in New York and one in San Francisco.

So if you like this brand or want a taste of it before it disappears, check out their online store. Everything is 60% off, and I would recommend you pick up a couple oxford shirts or ties while you can. They won't be restocking.

Man I love suits.

Mark Kwak

I was looking through one of the old Gear Patrol GP100s (take a look at 2015's version here if you haven't checked out the GP100 before) and saw a suit by Jack Space on there called the Benton.

Frankly, I don't know much about this suit, and it seems like the line is already done for, but the search for this suit lead me to a cool video that I wanted to share with you all. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering about it, but it just made me want to buy a suit... See for yourself:

Man, do I love the sound of a crisp suit being put on. Anyhow, on with your days gentlemen. Oh and may the force be with you... Always.

 

Adidas Stan Smith Shoes

Mark Kwak

Ever heard of the tennis player Stan Smith? Well even if you haven't, you've probably seen his shoe:

Source: Wufashion

Source: Wufashion

Yeah, I know I'm late to the game on bringing attention to these iconic white sneakers, but better late than never right? In case you're not up with the trend, the Adidas Stan Smith shoe was/is an icon in the sneaker world since probably 1975, and has enjoyed a rather ridiculous resurgence in the last, say, five years.

How much of a resurgence? Well Kanye owns a bunch of pairs. Derek Rose touts them as his main shoe outside of the court. And oh yeah, I called about 12 stores before I could finally get a pair in my size. No joke.

The classics are the white/green version, but they also sell them in white/red, white/navy, white/black, etc. Turns out some of the most popular high end fashion sneakers out there, made by the likes of Common Projects (~$400), Saint Laurent (~$600), and Prada (~$600) all pay homage to these masterful Adidas shoes. WSJ actually wrote about them in an article a while back and had some nice things to say:

Street Cred: Very high. Smiths are the great chameleon of the sneaker world. They’re classy, they’re cool, they’re this season, they’re old-school. It’s almost too easy.
— Wall Street Journal
Source: Hypebeast

Source: Hypebeast

Anyhow, I'm a fan. If you like white sneakers that work in a multitude of casual situations, have some history behind them, and aren't all that expensive for decent quality leather uppers (~$70), grab a pair... if you can find them that is.

PS: Don't get fooled and end up with the Raf Simons version. Sure it might be higher quality, but it's also 6x the price.

APC Petit New Standard Denim

Mark Kwak

Source: Steven Alan

Source: Steven Alan

APC Petite New Standard Jeans

APC has always been (and by always, I mean like the last six or seven years... perhaps I use hyperbole too often) one of the leaders in premium raw selvedge denim. One of their iconic styles is the raw Petite New Standard, or PNS for short. This is the pair that has a mid rise fit and tapers fairly narrow through the leg.

I've always wanted a pair, but never pulled the trigger. Well, I feel like it's that time of the year when I need to replace my denim, and there's a large possibility that these are the ones I go to next. One thing I will say is that these are notorious for stretching in the waist, so it's best to size down. So if you're a 32 waist, go with a 31.

Source: totokaelo

Source: totokaelo

There's some chatter out there about how the quality of APC jeans are no longer up to snuff compared to their glory days, but honestly, I can't tell the difference. I've also never owned a pair so what do I know? Either way, I still stand by the fact that these are a classic and I would highly recommend folks take a gander. They're $185, which certainly isn't cheap, but the good news is that stores like Azalea or Steven Alan give out 15% coupons for first time visitors, and you can apply them to these.

Oh, and in case you don't really know what selvedge denim is... check out this cool infographic from Cool Material. Cheers folks.

Source: Cool Material

Source: Cool Material