MYSTERIOUS Sopranos merch & other VIBEY ENIGMAS

How Long Gone's Jason Stewart CHECKS IN from the "HIDEOUS GEM" frontlines

Jason Stewart, a.k.a. Them Jeans, a.k.a “Chef Boyar-T.J.”: He’s an ex-DJ… A Mach 3+ gourmand who writes the smart & funny FOOD ‘SLETTER Let Me Get a Bite… And the co-host with Chris Black of How Long Gone, the hit podcast that, if you’ve never heard it and R wondering, ‘Is it delightful?’ all u need to know is that they had yr boy Young Spyplane on as a guest and the vibes were LEGENDARY… (They’ve also interviewed illustrious Spyfriends such as Phoebe Bridgers, Brandon Wardell, Naomi Fry, and the Throwing Fits GD MF boyz, plus SpyHeroes we don’t know such as Tim Heidecker.)

More impressive than any of that?? Jason has a DISCERNING EYE and corresponding ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY TOWARD WACK S**T — since we R the No. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” on dope under-the-radar joints, it’s only natural that we hit him up and asked him to tell us about his MOST CHERISHED RARE POSSESSIONS …

Blackbird Spyplane: Jason, you are a 6’9” goddess — before we get into the things U sent over, are there any big-boi tips u wanna share with the tall kings & queens out there in the SpyFamily?

Jason Stewart: “I actually wrote a piece about this that never saw the light of day—one big tip was to get a retractable clothesline, because when it comes to tall-person clothes you have to wash them cold and hang-dry them so you don’t lose any valuable inches.

“T-shirts are basically fine for me because I wear an XL — I’m tall, but that’s mostly leg. Dickies stocks pants with a 39” unhemmed inseam, and Eddie Bauer makes long pants, unhemmed style, too. J. Crew makes good tall plain-old Oxfords. I know those aren’t very Blackbird Spyplane picks but this is what we’re working with.

“When it comes to shoes, I’m a size 17, so all the cool Nike running shoes and limited-edition New Balance collabs are great to look at, but most of them max out at like size 13. The Dunham Cloud Plus is an ‘ugly but fashionable’ shoe that comes in large sizes. Oddball carries them, which is an online store specifically created for big shoes, and I like these sports socks they sell, too….

“Besides that I’ll just get weird Rockport walking shoes or hideous New Balances that no one has ever owned, or some Larry David Simples or ugly Asics from 2004 that, if they were a size 9, Emily Oberg would cop for $300 and take cute photos but since they’re a size 17 they cost nothing and look horrendous.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Are you a rare-jawns amasser ?

Jason Stewart: “At a certain point I decided I’d rather have something that literally nobody has than a ‘very cool item’ like legacy Jordans or a Rolex or loafers everyone at GQ wears — I’d rather have something be truly ugly and have everyone hate it if I’m the only person that has it, and the 3 coolest ppl I see that day will see it and be like, ‘Okay, respect.’ I only want the respect of the freakiest freaks.

“Like, I’ll have an old hardcore-band t-shirt made in 1995 that I bought on someone’s Instagram page from Europe when I was drunk and spent $300 on it, and everyone will think it’s some dumb thing I got it at PacSun, but then I’ll be at an airport and someone who actually recognizes it will come up to me and tell me their life story…”

Blackbird Spyplane: OK, u told me this bike is yr “most prized possession.” I’m personally known to DUST FOOLS on these East Bay climbs … so let’s do some BIKE-TALK!

Jason Stewart: “About 20 years ago I was living at home in Orange County and got deeply obsessed with the fixed-gear bicycle world in San Francisco. I was really into graffiti and it seemed like a playground back then to just ride around the streets painting, getting drunk, hitting some parties and gallery openings, not a care in the world.

“So at the time I was working an awful job answering customer emails for a credit-restoration company, where I basically copy-and-pasted pre-written answers, and during my downtime I scoured eBay for old steel frames and 90’s Campagnolo components.

Blackbird Spyplane: Mamma mia !!

Jason Stewart: "The frame’s a Centurion, which is a Japanese company, so it doesn’t have as much cred as one of the Italian makers, but I ride a 65cm bike, which is quite rare, so when I look on eBay for vintage steel frames it’s like, here are the 4 bicycles in America you can buy. Which makes life harder and easier, just like buying clothes. But I get the same fun treasure-hunting for bike parts that fit me as I do finding shoes and clothes that do.

“Also, I grew up riding BMX as a kid, and I’ve always liked the maintenance part of it as much as the riding part. I’d work on friends’ and neighbors’ bikes just for fun.”

Blackbird Spyplane: The power and pleasure of REPAIRING / MAINTAINING beloved jawns is so much richer than merely COPPING them…

Jason Stewart:I don’t know what type of childhood disorder I had, but I used to take things apart and put them back together, like, I would dismantle an old stereo and pretend I knew how to reassemble it, soldering wires and listening to Nine Inch Nails ‘March of the Pigs’ in my mom’s bedroom.

“When it comes to bike maintenance, it makes me feel more connected to the machine. Why go to a bike mechanic? I’d rather spend hours doing it myself — kind of like doing the dishes when you’re stoned…”

Blackbird Spyplane: We f**k heavy with “goofy merch” at BBSP, and U sent over some wild gems. The first is 2 deadstock Sopranos candlestick holders… WTF!

Jason Stewart: “So the previous owner of my house left a few random things in the garage, like paint cans and tiles, but these were inside one of the boxes with some long red dramatic candles, but those had melted into blobs by the time we found them.

“You do wonder, like, how did the marketing team at HBO decide on these out of all the mafia-related ephemera in the world? They’re so ugly that I’ll never have them out on the dinner table, but they’re too odd and special to ever throw away. ”

Blackbird Spyplane: Do u collect a lot of “kitsch bric-a-brac?" I vaguely remember u posting a story of, like, a Sonic the Hedgehog Gucci facemask…

Jason Stewart: “Close — it was a Gucci mask with Mickey Mouse dressed up as ‘Smooth Criminal’ Michael Jackson for some reason.

“But yeah I’ve always had a strange fascination with odd bric-a-brac — objects that are ugly and bizarre and have a lot of personality.

“This past New Years’, Chris Black and I took a road trip with our partners through the American south, and I loved stopping in these old gas stations to see all the regional items there, like shelf-stable pickled pigs’ feet in a bag…

“So we were somewhere in some marshland randomness of South Carolina and hit up this tiny old gas station, where I found this one-size-fits-all flip-phone case celebrating Pharrell’s 2006 album ‘In My Mind.’ I never liked Pharrell that much, I don’t have a flip phone and probably never will, the plastic feels like it’s decomposing, and the dust on it feels toxic. But of course I had to have it.”

Blackbird Spyplane: U also sent over scans of the local restaurant ads in old copies of Gourmet … These are a trip. Shout out CORINTIA RISTORANTE with the classy marble ad & validated parking !!

Jason Stewart: “I grew up obsessed with magazines, so they’re my preferred window into a bygone era — but to me it loses its magic if you go and seek them out, so I like to stumble on them. Like, whenever you get an Airbnb in Palm Springs that hasn’t been turned into some Wayfair nightmare or a dreamcatcher desert oasis with industrial barstools —”

Blackbird Spyplane: LOL

Jason Stewart: “I like to check the part of the house that connects to the garage, where the owner keeps all their old books and magazines they can’t give up. No one ever looks at them, they’re all pristine: It’s like a going-to-an-estate-sale kind of energy — like, ‘an old lady lived here and died and it’s a time capsule.’

“Oftentimes you’ll find great old cooking magazines like Bon App or Cook’s Illustrated, and I especially love old copies of Gourmet because they were at the height of ‘80s cooking opulence, like how you’d see in a restaurant scene in American Psycho.

“The recipes and articles are useless, classist messes, usually. To me it’s not about, like, the old Ruth Reichl poems about prunes. But in the classified ads you can see the hopes and dreams of these local restaurants taking out a 1” x 2” black-and-white ad to basically print their business card.

“It’s always a perfect hand-drawn logo with a caption like “most romantic restaurant in Denver” or “CUISINE AND SERVICE, ABSOLUTELY TOP DRAWER.” The Asian restaurant ads are all kinda racist, like, they have geisha girls on them — it was this time of opulence and ‘dining greatness’ that doesn’t exist anymore…

Blackbird Spyplane: So u STRAIGHT JACK ‘em from the rental houses ??

Jason Stewart: “Yeah, I have a sticky finger, I’ll steal a couple. I call it ‘foraging’ — somebody’s got 50 issues of Gourmet, no one’s gonna miss a couple.

”It’s an act of preservation, really. I’m taking the heirloom seeds and passing them on to future generations.”

-Find Jason on Twitter and Instagram.
-His EXCELLENT FOOD newsletter, Let Me Get a Bite, is here.
-Listen to How Long Gone, his podcast with fellow Spyfriend Chris Black, here.

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