Letterman: Tom Waits

Before I knew anything about Tom Waits, I knew Dave was a massive fan. Waits has appeared on one or the other of Letterman’s shows ten times. It wasn’t until I saw Down By LawJim Jarmusch’s pulp fiction, jail break picture starring Waits, that I understood Dave’s fascination. From watching Jarmusch’s black-and-white, soupy bayou yarn about three escaped convicts, I could tell implicitly why Dave did everything he could for Tom. For Waits, like Dave, is this somewhat reclusive, creative, punkish American everyman, able to speak to the people of his time by needling together all that has come before, occasionally paying homage, but most of the time poking at it for effect. Here, I have compiled all-but-one of the ten known appearances available, with a sprinkling of notes on certain performances. Come for the music, stay for the interviews.

Tonight, Waits waves goodbye performing a new tune for Dave. According to his site, “I don’t know when I will see Dave again. I guess from now on we’ll have to settle for bumping into each other at pilates.”
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Letterman: Julia Roberts & The Roses

Who cares if this was staged? It is awesome to watch Julia Roberts flatly call him out for failing to send flowers, and then like clockwork, watch as Pat Farmer strolls in with roses. Then at 6:45, all hell breaks loose.

Part One of her first appearance on Late Night. Freshly turned 22, she was there to promote Steel Magnolias in 1989. And a pig. And a dog.

And my personal favorite: Roberts revealed in 1993, after the above appearance, she’d asked Dave to attend the premiere of Steel Magnolias with her.

Fallon and Kidman, eat your hearts out.

“And if it ever happens again, I’ll be happy to go with you anywhere you wanna go: you, me and Lyle, of course.”

David Letterman

Letterman NY TimesIn the summer of 1993, I was twelve years old. It was the last summer I played baseball. It was the summer before I started at a new school, an all-boys school, one that molded my worldview as much as anything. I was a member of a whopping three swim teams. It was the first and last summer I played on an organized roller hockey team on an actual sport court in a city park. After all, it was 1993. And late in that summer, I became the world’s biggest David Letterman fan.

As my last summer before becoming a teenager came to a close, on August 30th, 1993, CBS debuted The Late Show with David Letterman. Prior to that, rare was the occasion when my folks allowed me to stay up past the end of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonI did know that Dave dropped televisions, watermelons, and bowling balls from tall buildings, and he’d have controversial guests with whom he’d occasionally argue, and I knew about Stupid Pet Tricks and velcro suits, and because of all this, my mother did not like him, which obviously made me even more fond of him.

As of today, we have one more week with Dave, and I have been tapping into my early fondness for his show in a big way.

Facing Dave’s impending retirement, I’ve become more wistful. In retreading memories, it’s become clear to me that discovering Dave Letterman signaled my transition from a boy to a young man. For a little over three years, the three years I was old enough to be allowed to stay up until 11:30 and yet too young to drive, I was an avid fan, taping many of the episodes, rewinding and poring over the structure of his jokes, his cadence, developing a keen eye for his trademark folksy, Midwestern turn-of-phrase. I never liked the double-breasted suits, the grey socks, the tasseled Cole-Haans, but I liked his “Hee, hee!” I liked his good-natured self-denigration. And I especially liked that he rooted for the Midwest, land that I love.

When watching, I had a routine: push-ups during the monologue, sit-ups for the first commercial break and through the end of the Top Ten, and then, I’d do some pretty intense stretching while he interviewed his first guest. For a time, I remember being able to lay flat on my back, point my feet, and touch the carpet with my toes. Talk about Stupid Human Tricks, but at least my swim coaches were impressed.

Patrick gets Dave’s socks, January 16, 2009.

Grey Socks Dave Letterman

In thinking of how I — Max Wastler, lowly style blogger — might best pay tribute to this man whose efforts have meant so much to my understanding of the world, I had a thought: let’s all wear grey dress socks and tasseled loafers on Dave’s last day. We could call it #SocksForDave. I’m going to go ahead and pull the trigger on a pair of the Grey Russell Ribbed Dress Socks from Ledbury. Fingers-crossed, they will arrive just in time.

IMG_3250I filled out the online submission in attempt to attend the taping of one of his final shows, but because I was lucky enough to make my way into the front row of the taping of an episode last fall, I assume I’m on a “no fly” list. If you’re reading this, and you’re in New York, and able to take part of your day to wait in line for waitlist tickets, do so, and clap a little harder, cackle a little louder on my behalf.

Letterman MirrorYa got any cups?” Each one represents a completed show.

Speaking of attending a taping, it is precisely as its described at the beginning of this lovingly told profile from The New York Times, from which the black-and-white photography featured here was borrowed. He does wind this dented microphone around the stage like The Who’s Roger Daltry or like its Indiana Jones’ whip. His warm-ups often show up when he first sits down at the desk. The in-joke he’s able to craft and the cutaway to the darkened audience member with whom he shared the repartée still make me smile. Deep in the piece, when he’s approached today, he refers to feeling a sense of “artificial reverence.” Were I to agree with him would defeat my efforts here. I have utmost respect for Dave, and it’s my hope in reading the forthcoming posts, you’ll understand precisely why.

Letterman Rolling StoneI’ll end by saying, it’s also worth picking up the most recent issue of Rolling Stone with Dave on the cover. Josh Eells’ lengthy article is incredible in its scope: detailing scandals, his introversion, the early insecurities, and a beautiful portrait of Dave’s life in Montana.

Stay tuned to All Plaidout this week for more stories about Dave Letterman as only I can tell them.

From the Archives: L.L. Bean Boots

With recent news of a boot shortage at L.L. Bean, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the first-ever factory tour I took with Foster Huntington way back in March of 2009.
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Aaron Draplin Designs a Logo

This is perfect.

Black Watch Friday

I’m stuffed. Rather than fight the crowds, I’m going to stay home and cozy up on the couch with a good book and a warm blanket. Consider doing the same. Make your Black Friday a Black Watch Friday. [Read more...]

Faribault Woolen Mill x All Plaidout

When the time came to name this All Plaidout, a blog with posts about things that are not trendy, about the stories of style over fashion, about the stories behind the clothes we wear, I turned to the rich history of a cloth pattern known as a tartan. I chose the tartan most emblematic of my style, my appreciation of history, and the one that most often showed up in my closet from as early on as I can remember, the Black Watch.

A dark, neutral tartan, it was first worn by the watchmen, highly trained members of the Scottish military who’d combined their clan’s patterns to stand as one. Owed primarily to its widely appealing aesthetic quality, it has become one of the most popular and sought after plaids.

When collaborating with John Mooty at Faribault Woolen Mill on a Black Watch plaid blanket, he offered a unique suggestion.

“Let’s ground it in the threads of the U.S. Military blankets for which we’re most well-known,” he said.

By combining the green from the U.S. Army, the blue from the U.S. Navy, and the black from the West Point Academy blankets, Faribault has created a subtly new, beautiful, and altogether American take on a pattern with a rich and wonderful history.

To capture the evocative nature of the fall blanket, I turned to Carolina Mariana Rodriguez, whose self-portraits fill a frame with emotion and texture, a feeling that extends far beyond a model draped in a blanket.

As for the blanket itself, far from those rough ones I remember wrapping myself in while sitting on the bleachers at high school football games, these thick, warm blankets are made of the same MIL-SPEC yarns as those that protect those whose job it is to protect and serve the rest of us.

Finished with the flourish of a red-yarned whipstitch – which too nods to the various derivations in the Black Watch plaid, a red line in the pattern signified at times difference in rank or platoon – every effort has been made to ensure each blanket provides the utmost in functionality and comfort.


Read Laura Pearson’s piece on blankets in the Chicago Tribune, featuring this blanket.

Available from these fine online retailers.*

Faribault Woolen Mill 
Ampersand Shops
Old Faithful (Canada)
The New York Times

All photos courtesy of Carolina Mariana Rodriguez and Kyle Smith.

*Ask for the “Shadow Plaid Foot Soldier” blanket with the All Plaidout label anywhere Faribault Woolen Mill products are sold.

Lyle Lovett x All Plaidout x Hamilton Shirts

Lyle Lovett Hamilton All PlaidoutI recently took a trip to Houston, and while I was there, fourth-generation shirt maker, David Hamilton measured me for this custom Lyle Lovett for Hamilton Shirt. I’ll be sharing photos from the factory very soon, but I couldn’t wait to share the shirt.

A Summer Dies in Houston

Sitting in traffic. In the rain. On Congress Avenue in Austin. After a day in Houston. The windshield wipers undulated as a Ryan Adams song screeched to an end on the rental’s car’s cheap stereo. The car smelled like french fries from a Whataburger or a taco from Buc-ee’s. I can’t remember.

All I could think about was what just happened. For roughly four hours, I’d sat through bumper-to-bumper traffic returning to Austin from Houston, where somewhere in the middle a small fender bender lead to a nine car pile-up spreading across four lanes of highway. I didn’t mind waiting out the inevitable delay. My day was made when I got to sit and listen to music — my music — much of it created in the land that stretched between the two Texas cities of my current — and very temporary — residence. I found myself allowing the shuffle function of my mobile device to take over, and in the process uncovering a slow devolution into something slightly resembling The Blues. It was a Blues worth wallowing in, for I knew on the other side of those blues was a crack of sunshine, and the day, well, she weren’t over yet.

A Summer Dies in Houston

1) Ryan Adams – When The Summer Ends
2) White Denim – Come Back
3) Stevie Wonder – I’m Wondering
4) Chuck Berry – Nadine
5) L.C. Cooke – The Lover
6) Tom T. Hall – Shoeshine Man
7) Tammy Wynette & George Jones – Something To Brag About
8) Steve Earle – Little Sister
9) Cat Stevens – Maybe You’re Right
10) Paul Simon – The Obvious Child
11) Robert Plant And the Strange Sensation – All The King’s Horses
12) Shuggie Otis – Sweet Thang
13) Connan Mackasin – I’m The Man That Will Find You
14) Warren Zevon – Accidentally Like A Martyr (Unreleased)
15) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms
16) Chuck Berry – Blues #1
17) Emmylou Harris & Willie Nelson – One Paper Kid
18) Steely Dan – Midnite Cruiser
19) Steve Winwood – Take It As It Comes
20) Randy Newman – Back On My Feet Again
21) Vince Gill – One More Last Chance
22) Dire Straits – The Bug
23) Marley’s Ghost with Old Crow Medicine Show & Cowboy Jack Clement – It’s All Over Now
24) Dire Straits – Water of Love
25) Joe Henry – Grave Angels
26) Luluc – Small Window
27) George Jones – The Selfishness in Man
28) Lyle Lovett – White Boy Lost In The Blues
29) Ryan Adams – Tired of Giving Up

30) Albert King – Call It Stormy Monday (Live at Montreux)
31) Mississippi John Hurt – Coffee Blues (Live)

Find it on Spotify. Follow along with my every move on Spotify here.

East Dane Giveaway

The good folks at East Dane provided me with four $50 gift certificates to be used on their site. To win: share your favorite outfit from their offerings in my comments section. Don’t forget to link. I’ll select my four favorites over the weekend and announce the winners on Monday. Best of luck!


A few of my favorite blazers:

And they have a bunch of great stuff in this section: 50% Off Mens.
May the best man (or woman) win.