The California Shirt on

I woke up this morning to a text message from Michael B. Dougherty, author of the latest post at The text simply read, “BOOM.” It was followed by a link to his story. It’s about my journey to making the first product to carry my name, The California Shirt. 

BOOM is right. It’s fitting that the first story about a product made from my life’s history (this shirt’s pattern is based on my father’s first custom shirt which became a hand-me-down for me and my brother) would come from Esquire. 

It’s likely that I wore my dad’s shirt on or around the time that I discovered in the back of Mr. Jerry Boyle’s AP English classroom a pile of vintage Esquires. Mr. Boyle liked to heap praise on his students comparing us to his favorite of Esquire writers from the sixties. Where others were compared to BaldwinMailer, or Talese, after a fluffy story of my family’s fall traditions, he dropped my (A-) paper on the desk in front of me with a delightful, delayed delivery, chewing his words: “Mis-ter Wast-ler…. a nice attempt at Nora Ephron….” 

I would’ve been fine dying then and there. Esquire was also once home to one of my college mentors, Mr. Tom Chiarella, whose ability to tie the personal narrative to many of our national conversations is unrivaled among his peers today. In my time under his care, I leaned on him more often than I probably should have for fluffier stories with a particularly collegiate bent to them: profiles of the women’s rugby team or a takedown of the Administration following the suspension of one professor or another, or somehow tying a campus cycling race to the Tour de France. 

But today, I am featured not as a writer but as a merchant, and Dougherty did a wonderful job encapsulating what I am attempting with this first offering. It should be noted that as acquaintances, he reached out to me at a time when I felt uncomfortable seeking press. I actually deliberately did not seek publicity hoping instead to allow for the proof of my concept to speak for itself on this early beta run of what is to come. Granted, I am entirely grateful to him for the platform, for the kind words, and for the opportunity to share more of the behind-the-scenes. 

If you have time to read his profile, I would be grateful. I suppose it goes without saying, nonetheless I sit here humbled to see words I’ve spoken gracing a space authorized by a publication I have admired for so long. Thank you again to Michael B. Dougherty and to Esquire.