Cures for despair, boredom & baggage fees
Ricky Gervais, slept-on swag king?? And more profound Personal Spyplane wisdom
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During our last open call for “Personal Spyplane” questions, we heard from a SpyFriend trying to rediscover the spark of jawnz love that, over time, we can all briefly lose touch with:
“What happens when the jawnz well runs dry? When you get bored with jawnz? You ever feel like you’ve seen it all and nothing excites you? What happens when everything looks derivative and nothing seems exciting?” — @strange.practice
One great move whenever you start feeling cynical and spent — whether it’s in clothes, romance, politics, etc. — is to come together with other ppl and imagine a future so radical it may feel laughably impossible now. It’s beneficial to do this in order to retain optimism, keep alive the conditions within yrself for happiness and in order to jostle yrself loose from hidebound conventions and dusty verities…
In the case of the inquisitive and open-minded clothes-rocker, this often translates to looking at unlikely sources for hidden inspiration. Which can only mean one thing — it’s time for a Spyplane Super-Turbo Futuristic Trend Prediction.
For today’s Super-Turbo Prediction we’re tapping into a Mach 8+ “unbeatable cultural conversation” I (Jonah) had a few weeks ago with Big Blackbird SpyConsigliere Nick Weidenfeld, during which we got onto the subject of how “normalized” it’s become to clown on Ricky Gervais … an out-the-gate comedy GOAT, the story goes, responsible for one of the greatest artworks in modern entertainment history with the British Office, who then dropped a bunch of clunkers, proved himself to be vain, smug, and hyper-vocally atheist on some torched Gen-X / Richard D*wkins s**t… and (this much is incontrovertibly true) wore outfits consistently and vexingly centered around expensive-looking fitted v-neck tees, sweaters and knit polos in black and heather-gray, of a kind seen nowhere else besides the wardrobe of Simon Cowell (is this an affluent sixty-ish British dude thing??)
BUT, as Nick and I discussed, and as any Mach 3+ trend observer knows, the sauce pendulum has a way of swinging from one extreme to another, so it’s a simple matter of “swag centrifugal physics” that we consider the possibility / likelihood that not only does Gervais’s post-Office work contain all manner of hidden genius waiting to be rediscovered and reappraised, BUT ALSO that he is a slept-on drip lord in a way that’s hard to fully perceive now, but is starting to come into focus, to the point that circa ~2025 we may witness an explosion of:
What are the central elements of Gervaiscore? There’s the above-mentioned v-neck top — a garment that Ricky possibly loves more than any other human. There’s no-frills all-black mid-tier sneakers nobody’s checking for, like Asics Jolt 3s — OR, like, fire Brooks Adrenalines (detail below) that are currently popping but which Ricky was rocking way ahead of the curve.
There’s “cool guy hopping out the d*mn convertible and tossing the keys to the valet”-style Emporio Armani wraparounds, Ray-Bans and RēVos. The color schemes are typically murdered-out head to toe. (There’s sometimes a leather jacket or bomber, though Ricky is a pro-animal-rights vegan king so these may be synthetics.)
Overall, the materials give off a “sneakily luxe-casual schlubby bruv” vibe — a seeming mixture of Adidas- and Puma-outlet type pieces with fancier brands you and I probably don’t think much about, like Tom Ford or Brunello Cucinelli or Sunspel or something?? (Ricky, come thru for a fit check / brand ID please.)
Some of you are no doubt f**king with this Super-Turbo Vision straightaway, but others might be saying, “Spyplane, I’m ~kinda~ seeing it, but not really — is this a troll?”
Spy Nation, please trust & believe we will never “troll” you, and of course you can’t see it, that’s what it feels like to encounter a visionary unfalsifiable prophecy / thought experiment about a possible near-future!!
The most important thing to grasp here is that, whether or not you f**k with the particulars, Ricky has done what so many of us dream of doing: Lock in a unique, internally coherent, highly consistent look that reflects a clear “personal style.” “I gave up fashion at 28,” Gervais wrote in Esquire a few years ago. “I just want comfort.” All kinds of people say stuff exactly that, and yet — much like the enormous-tees-and-calf-length-basketball-shorts-rocking king Adam Sandler — Gervais’s approach to comfort-seeking bears his own distinct signature. (Also he is a strongly opinionated dude with a fleshed-out worldview that scrambles the line between “cringe” and “based” in a manner we believe time will ultimately be kind to.)
Locked-in personal style is the exact quality that’s turned other unlikely ppl into canonized “post-normcore” fit gods. Adam Sandler’s one. James Gandolfini’s another — no one called him a sauce king in real time, nor for many years after The Sopranos went off the air. But as time went on, winds shifted, moodboards churned hungrily through a zillion reference points, the fog thinned around his jawn excellence, and we were finally able to see what had been in front of us the whole time.
REAL QUICK — the first time I ever went to Tokyo I popped into a tiny shop and copped a pocket tee from a local brand I’d never heard of, Fil Melange, as a “high-quality jawn souvenir” — cut from very soft midweight organic cotton, it has a great boxy fit, with a patch pocket perched weirdly but appealingly “a few inches too low” on the chest. The next time I was in Japan I copped another, I’ve worn both a bunch since, and they still look great.
So I was very pumped to see that C’H’C’M’ just got in a few (different) new beautiful Fil Melange tees including a piqué-looking pocket joint and a slubby cotton-silk blend joint with knit-looking ribbing at the collar and cuffs — both in a couple colors. Pricewise these are SPLASHY — between the materials and the import duties they cost about 2x what I paid back in 2015, but this is a very ill see-it-in-person brand and a very ill see-it-in-person store so if yr in NYC pop in and check them out. (If yr tempted to cop online, double check this with the shop but extrapolating from mine, a size 3 is a smallish M, a size 4 is a smallish L, and a size 5 is a smallish XL.)
MEANWHILE — here’s a very practical question, about getting out into the world poppingly, that we received the other day:
“What’s the Spyplane mindset on packing for travel? I want to pack light and STILL look good.” —@h000k
You & us both, friend. On a nuts-and-bolts logistics level, there’s a ton of “packing hack” YouTube videos you can watch to learn space-optimizing tricks like rolling yr shirts instead of folding them and stuffing socks into shoes, etc. etc.
But our overarching “packing mindset” — notwithstanding variables like trip duration, weather at the destination or formal obligations when we’re there — is to pare s**t down as close to the MF-ing bone as we can manage (and then, in our ideal scenario, Tetris the minimalist results into a vintage Rimowa suitcase with the old vibey logo on it, why did LVMH get rid of this!? Sans serif ?? More like Sans Swag, WTF!!)
But back to question at hand! Break down the task of travel outfit-assembling into a set of discrete, constrained challenges like as if you were penning a “SUITCASE HAIKU,” i.e., What are the TWO pairs of pants that will get you thru the week? (Wear one on the plane and pack the other.) Is there ONE pair of shoes that will work in any conceivable application, so that you don’t need to pack any extras? (My Salomon x And Wander Cross Hikes tend to fit this bill — waterproof in case of rain, comfortable for walking long distances, can be run or hiked in, go with a ton of s**t because they’re tan, etc. etc.)
Build in the potential for modularity, where a core outfit can be layered and “iterated” a few different ways to keep s**t fresh. Do not be afraid of outfit repetition!!
And — this point is major — pack no more than 7 days worth of infrastructure (socks, undershirts & underwear) and if the trip’s longer than that and unless you are somewhere that f**king sucks and you wish you weren’t there, do a laundry during the trip!!
This works even if the place where yr staying has no laundry on site. Chilling out in a foreign coin-op laundromat for ~90 minutes — reading a book, people-watching, taking a spin around the block — is a “low-key vibey” thing to do during a trip. You might fear that it’s wasted time but quite the contrary, it switches up the rhythm and gives you a pleasing, unfakeably “deep” taste of what it would feel like to actually live in the place yr passing through.
“Are you afraid of death?” —@alexpompliano
For decades I was. I’d be blithely chilling, laughing it up with the homies and/or chiefing these thought-eradicating clouds of loud, and suddenly the gust of chilly air that is awareness of one’s own mortality would rush in out of nowhere and leave me feeling cold and frightened.
In September 2018 I had a very bad bike crash where I broke a ton of s**t and spent 8 days in a trauma ward. Before the impact itself I blacked out, and it’s wild to know that my brain either withheld this experience from me in real time or has withheld it ever since, creating the same result either way: At the moment of what could very easily have been my death, I was somewhere else, “logged off.”
With that in mind, for several years after the crash, I didn’t feel that gust of chilly air anymore. I felt at peace with the notion that I might croak any moment, and, in a paradoxical but liberating way, that, when this happened, it wouldn’t be “my problem” anymore.
But a more holistic sense of what yr death truly means and “how death truly hits” obviously has to take into account the impact on loved ones and the fact that a protracted death is very different than a sudden one.
And in any case, recently I’ve felt the chilly air returning — my bike-crash death epiphany, like so many other epiphanies, seems to have had only temporary effects…
BUT the other night Erin and I were re-watching Avatar in anticipation of the new joint and there was a line of dialogue early on, describing the Na’vi P.O.V. on dying, about how we only borrow energy and at a certain point it’s time to give it back.
D*mn — I found this deeply comforting. Probably other non-sci-fi-based sacred texts contain similar insights into an overarching, death-transcending cosmic continuity of energy, but it was tight to hear it from James Cameron tha king. Why fear giving back something borrowed?
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Wow that last line is powerful, great read
Fil Melange was also very early on gaya-friendlier, 100% wool pile (or "boa," as it's known in blessed Nippon) fleeces done in the classic retro-x style. They briefly had them at Barney's in the #menswear heyday: