It's all downhill from here and that's just the way we like it...a twosome cruisin' down the singletrack on GIANT's luxury-grade off-road bicycles. How do two busybodies make time for romance and fitness without enduring such bugaboos as Gym Monotony and Weekly Yoga Class Fatigue? To commingle amour, high-tech exercise, and the autumnal outdoors, make room in the garage for a spry couplet: love should be robust, but waistlines should be slim, get a mountain bike for her and another one for him.
If Jake Mueser isn't the best dressed man in New York, then he must be the custom clothier dressing the chap who is. His shop, Against Nature Atelier in the Lower East Side, is a modern boulevardier's hideaway with apparel to upgrade any gentleman's life in a meaningful way. You know the sensuous thrill that comes over you upon arriving at the farmers market: redolent mint, eye-popping heirlooms tomatoes, suede-skinned peaches? Here, senses alight to the smell of craftsmanship, the luster of handworked silver, and the light fleecy feel of eight-ounce mohair. A cluster of off-the-rack seersucker suits stands summer ready in traditional blue stripe plus red and pencil grey along with custom denim jeans. Mueser, who could pass for Roger Federer's runway-ready younger brother, identifies fabrics like a sommelier naming grapes in a meritage: cotton, linen, worsted wool, cashmere.
Vilebrequin's french definition might not exactly translate as "killer beach-trou, bro," but that's what you'll hear all day long whilst sporting a pair. I test-drove this slick import in demanding summery conditions featuring 95-degree scorch, scampering tots, sun-worshipping hipsters, and riparian resplendence along the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The view flowed from blue sky to lush green vegetation, punctuated by a smattering of kayaks that made the panorama look like the scene of a brief paint gun fight. On the rocky beachhead, the afternoon produced a lithe parade of string bikinis, tankinis, and bandinis (sadly, no monokinis). Nearly all of the males wore board shorts of various lengths and tattoos of questionable taste as they reposed on tattered blankets and pulled lotion from beat-up backpacks. The stylish exception shone like a beacon of smartness: my two boys and me in matching Jim & Jam Vilebrequin swimtrunks (those ain't no cute models in the pix, these are our family photos...Brooks & Sebastion with yours truly). If the day were a William Carlos Williams poem, I'd say that So much depends / upon / a blue rabbit / glazed with river / water / besides the white / linen.
Vilebrequin rhymes with "celebs will grin," and anyone who's taken holiday on the gulf of Saint-Tropez will recognize the reinforced double-stitching, spinnaker canvas, and the braided tying cords tipped with engraved zamac, an alloy that will never tarnish or corrode. If you own a bespoke suit, a tailored shirt, or custom cufflinks, this is your bathing suit. I mean, why on earth would you wear cut-off denims shorts to anything other than a costume party, Daisy Duke convention, or a spontaneous dip outside the Diesel outlet? If you don't yet have a shirt-maker on your speed-dial, consider this your entryway into fine duds. Appreciate the couture of hand-cut back pockets for pattern alignment, water wallet for stowing cash and cards dryly, and a signature label upon the rear waistband that's a handsome and subtle, anti-gauche declaration of brand. Add to this garment's quality construction the whimsical, classic, breezy, patterns of tropical flora and fauna the likes of which one might find papering the walls of cabanas in exotic locales, and you've got a helluva reason to hit the surf.
Who knew so much Petrossian decadence could fit into a diminutive box no larger than a panettone. Nestled between cold packs, five jars of edible jewels from Petrossian Caviar begged to be unloosed and introduced to a stack of blinis. Yet, in an age of depleted wild sturgeon and general oceanic irresponsibility, I wondered if satisfying a caviar craving was akin to picnicking on White Spotted Owl sandwiches or proposing to a lover with conflict diamonds. Thus, to properly understand and appreciate the goodies, I boned up on Inga Saffron's vast, gritty and noir-esque read, Caviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World's Most Coveted Delicacy Unlike some glossy, coffee table tome, this is a behind-the-scenes, sea level perspective of the rise and fall of sturgeon, Caspian politics, and caviar culture. After absorbing the book and the jars of caviar, I also caught up with Petrossian Inc.'s Michel Emery, Director of Sales & Purchasing for the eighty-year-old New York firm, Luxist's 2009 Reader's Choice Award Winner for Best Caviar.
The Row Over Roe
While caviar's allure has been venerated for centuries, its modern rarity stems mainly from an incompatibility of sturgeon biology and human development. Sturgeon are older than the dinosaurs, and the Caspian Sea contains the world's highest concentration of sturgeon because it's more of a salty lake than a sea and these ancient bottom-feeders love the brackish deltas and estuaries. Further, since sturgeon always return to the same place to spawn, many of the twenty-seven species are only found in a single river basin. "If a dam blocks the way to a sturgeon's birthplace," Saffron writes, "it will refuse to spawn." Yes, nature has given female sturgeon as many as 10 million eggs per cycle, but these slow-moving, easily-caught giants (the largest beluga ever caught weighed over 4,500-lbs and measured 28-ft long) might only produce eggs ten times during its life. We've squeezed habitats, polluted waters, and hunted them to near extinction à la American buffalo and African elephants, and whereas generations of fishermen on the Caspian used to snag 250 beluga per hour, the catch nowadays yields mostly empty hooks.