Where fashion meets Keith Patterson, it’s all about the bands
Runes av Vaskeri has a fantastic new ep of Scando beat pop inspired tunes out on Korda, with a second ep already in the works. This interview chronicles Korda songsmith Jim Ruiz following his early songwriting champion and RAV leader Keith Patterson on a shopping trip seeking 1960’s inspired looks on a budget. Bask in the glorious minutiae as Jim unlocks fashion inspirations of Minneapolis’ best dressed rocker, and catch them both performing live at Korda 4 Showcase @ Hook & Ladder on 10.12.18! Photos and random interjections by Allison LaBonne.
Backstory from Jim:
I first saw Keith perform at the Yukon Club on Lake Street as the singer in The Dig, probably in ’84. I showed up on my scooter with members of my ska band. Keith’s performance got The Dig 86’d from the Yukon, I think for use of profanity. There must have been a plan to make Minneapolis the Medway on the Missisippi. Blissfully unaware of the bands The Milkshakes, The Prisoners and The Delmonas, I didn’t realize it at the time. The Funseekers, The Dig and The Cavegurls played those roles respectively and then proceeded for me what was to become the Swinging Eighties and some of the happiest moments of my life. After a couple of years I began to learn to play guitar, and write songs, with Keith’s encouragement, and that began another journey.
JR: You know what I was saying about like your question what are we doing here [Mall of America]? So my theory is sorta that you know, back in the 80’s, when we went thrifting…
JR: …you know every Saturday, you know, Rena and I would get on our scooter and go thrifting…well this has become the same impulse, the same thing almost…
JR: Just hunting for stuff. Right?
KP: Everything must be must be 75-90% off (laughs).
JR: I don’t have that rule—I feel too desperate. I don’t think this moment is going to last where clothes I like are easy to find, and if it is good I’ll pay for it.
KP: Well ok, 50% off if I’m desperate.
KP: If I’m desperate! What?
JR: The truth is out.
KP: I do like the radical clearance. You know nowadays we’re much more spoiled for choice than we were in olden times.
JR: Even in the 80’s, I was thinking about, you could not buy a striped shirt.
JR: You could not get one of those Beach Boys striped shirts, now I’ve got like a dozen of them or something. You know?
KP: Well every stylistic sub genre is covered…everybody can get their freak on.
KP: Equal opportunity. But you have to strike while the iron is hot. They come and they go.
AL: That’s what Jim has been saying, he went to Forever 21 and got, what did you get? Cords?
JR: I got a couple pair of cords, but I got a lot of striped shirts there, I got two coats.
KP: I thought Forever 21 was only girl’s stuff.
JR: It’s both but, they’ve completely…I’ve seen that go from eighties preppy being their focus, now it’s just grunge.
KP: Oh really?
JR: It’s a wasteland. So Keith’s going to try to find me a jean jacket.
KP: We’ve got to hit all of the usual places.
JR: Or a wide belt. I don’t have a wide belt! I should.
KP: We’ll have you looking like Elvis Presley (laughs).
JR: Did you see, I saw on the news, they have concerts with Roy Orbison, but as a hologram?
KP: Right, yeah.
JR: (laughs hard) That’s crazy! Why do they do that?
KP: I don’t know. Yeah, they do it with Elvis too.
JR: Really? This could be a new thing for Korda. We could send Korda bands on the road with holograms.
AL: That would solve a lot of problems, I think?
JR: So where are we going first?
KP: Well, I always like to take a look in the Clark’s store. I got these (indicating the shoes on his feet) for $50.
JR: No way!
KP: Yeah. Two visits ago, I think it was.
JR: Those are sweet. What are they called, Wallabees?
KP: No, they have some funny name I can’t remember.
AL: I had some Wallabees, those aren’t quite…
KP: Wallabees have the ridge.These are part of that “Originals” series, they have the old designs that they periodically redo, like the Natalie boots? Have you ever seen those? The crepe goes up the back and up the front? They look kind of like elf shoes.
Jim and Keith finish their coffee as Allison photographs what they are wearing.
JR: I wasn’t really dressed for this (laughs).
KP: I didn’t know we were going to be live journaling.
AL: This is a street style thing, you don’t need to be prepared for it.
JR: (doubtfully) yeah… they have YouTube channels now, just channels that are devoted to how like rappers dress and stuff.
Having arrived at the Clark’s store, Keith and Jim pause at the window display before entering.
KP: I pretty much gotta have orthopedic shoes, I need like this much (measuring two inches with his fingers) between me and the ground.
JR: I just love that there are Chelsea boots now.
KP: Yeah, I can’t wear those for more than like five minutes without screaming pain.
JR: Really? I got a pair from uh, not Macy’s, one of those bargain ones…Ben Sherman! They’re great, so comfortable. I love them. I never had a really decent pair, you know just cheap pairs.
KP: I have a pair by… Ralph Lauren or something? But they have a really nice foot bed.
Keith points out a pair of Clark’s on display.
KP: I don’t know about those. Maybe this is the new “northern soul” style.
JR: (laughs) So Keith, if I tell you some stores names, tell me what you think. What do you think of like, H&M? Any luck there?
KP: Occasionally, yeah.
JR: What have you gotten there?
KP: When they first came in they were great because they’re a good repository of, you know, narrow legged pants.
JR: Like I got my jeans there.
KP: But I don’t have to rely on them as much because I regularly find good stuff at the Levi’s store. Like pants and whatnot.
AL: And is that higher quality or—
KP: I just sorta like it better. The other place is at Marshall’s they have a lot of…
JR: I never have luck at Marshall’s!
KP: Oh I always do now, I’ve had insane luck at Marshall’s.
JR: What do you find there?
KP: Levi’s stuff, for one. And then of late, in the last year or so there’s a company called Paper Denim Cloth that makes trousers and they’re a really nice cut. And they’re like $15. They’re similar to the H&M ones, but I find better sizing in the inseam. H&M ones I was always having to take up the leg.
JR: Oh yeah. Always. They’re always 34.
KP: I can get 32-30 which is my size.
JR: I’m not going to divulge my size (laughs).
KP: I wasn’t trying to boast.
JR: (laughs) Dang you! Well this (Clark’s store) was kind of a bust. I’m excited to go to Marshall’s. I have never had luck at Marshall’s.
KP: Well you never know. Hit or miss. I think the last time we went in there I got nothing, but the time before, I walked out with about four things. That outfit I wore at the show, the crazy mushroom shirt? And the kind of velveteen red Levi’s?
JR: I thought those were cords.
KP: They’re more like crushed velvet.
JR: No way!
KP: They were past season, they’re supposed to be for winter. But I thought I could get away with them once more. I may have to get away with them again at our casino gig tomorrow, because they may be the only clean pair of pants I have to match the striped boating blazer.
JR: Are you playing that 60’s thing at the casino?
JR: Oh, I didn’t know that.
KP: We (Kinks tribute band “Kinda Kinky”) are playing after The Beatles.
KP: Just like The Kinks did at the (New Musical Express) Pollwinner’s Concert in ’65. The Beatles made them follow them, and everyone was leaving. And The Kinks stunk, if you look it up on YouTube, they’re horrible. And they’re wearing white socks (laughs). And they’re horrible.
JR: Are you ready to go on record saying that?
KP: I badmouth The Kinks every chance I get. They wish they were The Beatles.
JR: Where are we going next?
KP: I always check the clearance at The Gap. It can be great, or nothing. And The Gap is not hip to anyone except old guys like me now. But occasionally they have decent stuff.
JR: Let’s give it a shot!
Keith leads the way.
JR: Do you ever go online to The Rack, or things like that?
JR: I’ve been doing that.
KP: I never have the money.
JR: Or Uniqlo?
JR: It’s cut pretty good, you know the shirts aren’t baggy, but they’re very… ivy league-ish kind of stuff.
JR: Tasteful, you know, not great, but tasteful? Good for work kind of stuff.
Entering the Gap. Keith considers a shirt on a hanger.
KP: A little too French Riviera for me. I’ve got to hide my icky neck. First things first.
JR: Oh! This is almost like Action Cop. But it’s a jacket.
KP: It’s got to have epaulettes for Action Cop.
KP: What I don’t need is another plaid shirt. I’ve got so many plaid shirts. Unless it is just-so.
Keith and Jim peruse the clearance section.
KP: Sometimes I can come in here and get stuff for $5.
JR: They’re not giving it away.
KP: Sometimes they are.
JR: See, you’re lucky you have that perfect taste that, the more you like it, the less it’s gonna sell (laughs).
JR: It’s like my lawyer friend told me “You guys are never going to be famous, because I like you. No one I like ever becomes famous.”
Keith points out a shirt.
KP: I used to have a shirt like this in the eighties. It was a hand-me-down from the sixties and I thought it was so great.
Jim points out a faded denim colored shirt.
JR: I’ve been seeing a lot of these, you know, with the white buttons, like the cover of Dusty Springfield…
KP: A chambray shirt.
JR: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having one of those.
KP: But you wouldn’t want that pearlized snap, it’s too “Graham Parsons is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.”
KP: No it’s too alt country. In junior high my fashion directive was to dress as much like the cover of Beatles VI as possible. Those shirts and whatnot.
JR: Do you ever think “I want to dress like ’66, not ’64?”
KP: Oh, constantly.
JR: So what’s the peak year?
KP: For me? ’65 is my happy medium. I’ll go for anything between 1960-68.
JR: The Shadows look really good in ’62 or whatever.
KP: That kind of continental, that look was kind of your early mod look, basically. (Regarding the clearance rack) I think we’re busting here.
JR: Do think the reason some of these clothes are coming back is that there was an ’80’s revival? And then the ’80’s were influenced by the 60’s?
KP: To some degree, but you find a lot of the ’80’s type stuff and it’s all coral and pastels, hideous colors I can’t get behind.
KP: It’s like “Oh it’s so fun! Kajagoogoo!”
JR: (laughs) But these obligatory scooter jackets, they’re everywhere.
JR: But that’s an ’80’s thing. (Indicating some pants) Are these your size?
KP: You know, I can’t do the slash pockets.
JR: Oh, really?
KP: As working class as I am, everything falls out the sides of my pockets when I collapse on the couch when I come home at the end of a hard day’s work. And all the money I have left falls out….and to me it’s a little too ivy league. I’d have to wear Bass Weejuns without socks to go with my slash pockets.
Keith indicates a trench coat.
KP: Hey don’t you have a coat very similar to this?
JR: Yeah, I just bought one. Online. I paid a little more for it because it was the Breakfast at Tiffany’s cut, you know?
JR: So I was looking for that.
KP: Who is it made by?
JR: I can’t remember. Some Sperry knock off? Like Jack someone? I love it though, it’s really comfortable.
KP: I can’t do polo shirts. Polo shirts are like holiday mafia wear.
JR: Cotton will just break your heart. You wash it a few times and it just looks, eh.
KP: So what do you prefer?
JR: Wool blend, I like the merino stuff.
KP: What about in summer?
JR: They make thin stuff. I still have some cotton, I get cheap polos at Uniqlo, fake Fred Perrys. But you spend a lot on a Fred Perry, it’s just so heartbreaking. I’ve given up on buying anything expensive that’s cotton. And these clothes have to last my whole life because I’m not going to buy clothes again. There’s just not going to be anything I want.
KP: My clothes are lasting me my whole life, but I’ve got like 600 shirts in my closet.
JR: Do you have any clothes from like 1984?
KP: Some, yeah.
JR: I’ve got about twelve skinny ties.
KP: I have my Small Faces jacket that I found at the Moundsview Ragstock in 1983. It was like one of my proudest finds. I still wear it every once in a while. It’s made by Kent which is Montgomery Ward’s. It’s a great summer jacket.
JR: I was having good luck with seer sucker things. That’s come back.
JR: That’s something you could never find vintage because it was always yellow.
KP: I got a really good seer sucker coat, it was I think a Ben Sherman from Nordstrom’s Rack a few years ago. A really nice summer weight. It’s got sort of this pink paisley lining.
KP: It’s a really nice cut, but I don’t find myself wearing seer sucker a lot.
JR: I don’t see you wearing blazers that much.
KP: I do a slob’s job so…
JR: That’s what I think, I describe how I dress as a total slub in 1963. If I was in 1963 I’d be considered a total disaster (laughs).
KP: Well, a beatnik.
They enter the Levi’s store.
JR: You ever see those leather vests?
KP: Like a beat group vest?
KP: A leather jerkin?
Keith notices the song playing.
KP: Alright, Buffalo Springfield. My first real band in junior high, we used to play almost the entire first Buffalo Springfield album.
Keith looks at Levi’s on display.
KP: I like this multi-colored stitch thing.
JR: What style do you buy? Do you have a favorite?
KP: Oh, number? They change from year to year. They’re really routinely changing. I find like 512, 513… (disappointed) they used to have a whole wall of clearance, but it’s been cut down to just this.
JR: So you can’t depend on the number.
JR: What do you think about this Harrington jacket revival? In the 80’s I never really heard about Harrington jackets.
KP: Didn’t you have the Richard Barnes book? The Mods book?
JR: Yeah, I do.
KP: They talked about it in there, I think I got one in ’81.
JR: (laughs) I must’ve missed that sentence.
Finding nothing good on sale, they depart.
KP: It’s weird every time I go in there they are playing some song I have a strange connection to. Last time I went in there they were playing kind of a horrible version of This Strange Effect.
JR: Oh like the Culture Club version or something?
KP: No, no, it was something used in like an iPhone commercial recently. It’s like… (Keith hisses the lyrics to the song with no discernible notes) It’s a band from New York, the girl literally whispers the entire thing.
JR: Who wrote that song?
KP: Ray Davies.
JR: Oh, Davies wrote it.
KP: Do you want to go to the Levi’s store in Macy’s? (second guessing) No, their sales are never deep enough for me.
JR: (indicating the Levi’s jacket Keith is wearing) Where did you get this?
KP: The Levi’s Store. Like $14. It’s really luck of the draw. My favorite one is sort of this crab pink red one that I bought a few years ago there, and it was like $7. It’s like my favorite jacket ever, but it was almost too small for me, and Sally bought it, and then I just stole it from Sally. Should we head to The Rack?
JR: Yeah, let’s do it.
KP: The problem with The Rack is, the discounts aren’t quite deep enough. But occasionally you’ll find just that thing that’s like (fake gasping for air).
JR: When’s the last time you were in a vintage store? Do you ever go to vintage stores anymore?
KP: Occasionally but I don’t like to pay those prices. I’m a little too spoiled for choices now.
JR: Yeah, you don’t need to now.
KP: Spending money at all is kind of a problem, so I try not to even do this too often. But when I do, I like to make it count. Is this the Korda crass consumerism edition? (laughs)
JR: I think people are interested in how you find your clothes. You’ve got a distinctive style. You’re able to dress 60’s in a 2018 world. It’s remarkable.
KP: What I used to say, people would always jive me about my clothes, and I’d just take that line from Hairspray (haughtily) “I happen to be the height of teen fashion 1965!”
Keith and Jim peruse clearance blazers.
KP: It’s so Minnesotan, all the dark dull colors. Every few years I might find a cool blazer. Of course a couple years ago, for a few years it was three button everything, and then it was like three button is no longer in style. But now they’re coming back with them.
JR: Have you seen some?
KP: I have seen some three button. But last year they had these crazy coats at Target that were four button.
JR: Ringo style?
KP: Did you see those?
JR: No, I didn’t.
KP: Yeah there was like a four button one that was very much like this paper bag material, it was like an Eric Burdon and the Animals jacket.
JR: Oh really?
KP: Yeah and they were giving them away at the end. Nobody wanted them. Who the hell would want them? But they’re totally like you know spring of ’64.
JR: You shoulda called me, man!
KP: (meekly) I’m sorry. Maybe we can still find you one?
JR: I work with a guy who’s tall and skinny, those coats look good on him. But they don’t really look good on me. The ones I’ve tried.
KP: I have friends on the west coast much bigger than you that were getting them. The word got out “you’ve got to get to Target, they’ve got these four button jackets that are ridiculous!” (laughs)
JR: Do you have any thoughts about the whole Mad Men phenomenon? Do you think that was a good or a bad thing?
KP: I don’t think it had that big an impact on general fashion overall, do you?
AL: It helped sales at vintage stores, because people started having Mad Men dress up parties. But that’s more of a costumey thing, not everyday wear.
KP: It probably did influence what places were hewing towards, but overall I don’t think it filtered down to the street.
JR: What do you think of this type of collar?
KP: I’m not a fan of the spread collar. That could go back to the fifties.
JR: Yeah, a lot of politicians wore them.
KP: With a tie, even worse.
KP: Pretty horrifying.
JR: I didn’t watch Mad Men, but it just seemed like, I never had the goal of dressing like a square. Who cares how the squares dressed in 1965?
KP: Exactly. They’re wearing fedoras on that show, in the office, like they were older guys with more of a forties sensibility.
JR: I saw a Ben Sherman shirt on line, a white one that had one of those, what do you call them, tie…
KP: Oh, tab collar?
KP: For years now I’ve been trying to find the right black tie. I had this English teacher in high school who was a mod in the mid 60’s in Minnesota. He drove a scooter and he lived like halfway to Mankato. And he’d drive his scooter to the city and he’d go shop at the John Stephen shop? In Dayton’s. Dayton’s was the first place in America that had a John Stephen outlet. He had an old suit that he’d gotten rid of but he still had the matching John Stephen tie, and he gave it to me, and he gave me his copy of My Generation, the album. But this tie was THE perfect black tie. The material, and the width of it and everything. And then years ago I took it to the dry cleaner once, and for some reason when it came back to me, they had done something to it, they’d opened up the tie and re-pressed it, and it was narrower, and it was pressed crooked, and it was re-stitched in the back, like they’d completely damaged it. And I’ve been looking for a tie in that material ever since. And all you find is this glossy finish kind of thing. I did pick up a couple ties at the Marshall’s down at The Hub a few weeks ago that were just dirt cheap. They were kind of psychedelic, but they were good. Speaking of psychedelic…(Keith ogles a button down shirt on display) They were you know kind of Kinks 1967.
KP: Basically that’s what I’ve always done. I look at the groups in the mid 60’s and that’s what I go by. Some people like to dress like a ticket. Gotta have the desert boots, gotta have the… and it’s just like being in the Marine Corps, the Mod Marine Corps, be a squared away Mod. I go for more the outlandish group kind of thing. The bands tended to show up in…
(Keith later advises, “dig the drummer’s coat at 1:20”):
JR: It’s not about the brand.
KP: Exactly. (shopping) Some winter trousers here, looks like.
JR: I guess what I’ve been enjoying is… if I owned it in like 1984, and I see it? I buy it. I want to have the same clothes I had then. It’s almost like reclaiming your youth or something (laughs).
Keith pulls out a wide stripe t-shirt.
KP: Kind of a nice t-shirt. The colors may be a bit eighties. I can’t believe that’s size small.
JR: Yeah, you know what? They’re getting oversized again.
KP: Yeah. This is America. After all. I’m not feeling it. Let’s hit the shoes.
JR: Have you ever resorted to buying children’s clothing? Extra large children’s clothing?
KP: No, not on any kind of routine basis.
JR: What about women’s clothing?
KP: Oh, I’ve definitely done it. A couple years ago at The Gap they had these really sweet women’s turtlenecks, with the wide stripes. Those were under $5. I couldn’t resist.
JR: So it’s not a secret.
KP: No, not at all. I cross dress (laughs).
JR: I kind of feel like I’m following a hound dog.
KP: Looking for truffles. Morrell mushrooms. These look brutally uncomfortable. No center seam, I don’t want to know about it.
AL: No center seam? What does that tell you?
KP: On a Chelsea boot? I like to have a center seam. Either that or they gotta be like ridiculously comfortable. And how often are shoes like that comfortable?
AL: Those look more comfortable.
KP: Yeah, I don’t want to go for more of a cowboy kind of thing.
Points out some chunky ankle boots.
KP: I got a pair of these for $25. To replace my Clark’s winter boots, best winter boots ever, I wore them into the ground. They did have a center seam, and they were just insanely comfortable. You could wear them all day everyday in the winter and they were just warm and dry for a decade. If I found something like that I’d spend more.
JR: What do you think about, why doesn’t a company just make a Beatle boot? What is with that?
KP: Well, would you really wear, like, Cuban heels?
JR: No, nothing impractical but just center seam, kind of pointed, I’ve just given up that they’re ever going to do that.
KP: It’s cos they’re squares, man. (laughs) That’s what I loved about those winter boots. They had the center seams, and the gussets on the sides, and they were these big, meaty…they were like mod Frankenstein boots. Like if Frankenstein was really stylish. So, I think that’s pretty cool.
AL: You kinda need that for Minnesota.
KP: Exactly. But it’s sad. You walk through all this and you think, what a waste. You know what I mean?
AL: (laughs) Oh, yeah. It’s overwhelming.
KP: Yeah, yeah.
AL: There are so many materials, and cheap labor here.
KP: Yeah, I know. When I think about like, fifty years ago, you’d go to buy a pair of shoes, you’d go to the department store and they’d offer about a half a dozen things. And you would need to order it in. Or you’d order it from the Sears catalog. Do you remember that? You’d go to the catalog store, and you’d open up the catalog and write down the number and the size, and you’d come back like two weeks later and they’d have your stuff. And you could try it on, and if it didn’t work you could return it, but yeah, your choices were so limited. But now you just walk into this and yeah it is overwhelming.
Keith points out a pair of shoes.
KP: You know I did have a pair of Born boots that I wore for over a decade that were insanely comfortable, and really, really cool looking.
AL: When you find out how good they are you wish you would’ve bought a second pair.
KP: Right, because shoes are the craziest thing, you can never find the same ones, and even if you find and order what you think is an exact double, they can be completely different. And they feel completely different.
JR: In the past 30 years, what was the hardest time to find clothes?
KP: (sighs in reflection) Probably the early 80’s for me…
JR: (surprised) The 80’s?
KP: Yeah, because it was a process of discovery. Finding the right places to find the right things.
JR: But then you could find vintage, though.
KP: But this is Minnesota, there wasn’t a lot of great vintage. It’s always been routinely boring. The wild stuff was few and far between.
JR: So you think this is a better time than the early eighties. If you wanted to dress like the Rolling Stones in 1965, you’d have better luck now?
KP: Oh yeah. For sure. You just gotta keep your antenna up for the right thing. I’ll never find a pair of shoes like Brian Jones has on the cover of High Tide and Green Grass. My mom had a pair of shoes like that when I was a kid.
KP: I’ve seen pictures of them all wearing them, Mick, Brian wore them all the time, Keith, they must’ve bought them for the entire band. I’ve never found a pair… speaking of which (Keith perks his ears at the Rolling Stones on the store’s Muzak) Not exactly primo era stuff.
JR: (not finding anything) Well that’s a bust.
KP: We’re right above H&M.
JR: That would be fun. I’d like to see H&M through your eyes.
They head through the mall
KP: I’ll tell you what, in maybe November of last year I found this insanely great turtleneck, the most comfortable turtleneck ever. A heavy sort of fisherman’s…almost cable knit with a big thick roll collar, and they were forty bucks and I paid full price for one. But it was so comfortable I never wanted to take it off.
JR: What color was it?
KP: It was gray, like a dark gray. And a week or two later, I was going to get one for Sally’s dad for Christmas, and they were all gone and I’ve never found one since.
JR: There’s a lot of stuff online that isn’t in the store. And they’re going to open a biiig H&M, this huge H&M right across from where Zara is. You know Zara?
JR: I got this at Zara, this cycling shirt.
KP: When’s the last time you went into a Ragstock?
JR: (passing the MOA Ragstock) That is the most surreal thing ever!
KP: Is there anything used in there? I remember in the early days of the mall when I was still working downtown, I got to skip out of a meeting and came down here to the mall, and I remember going into the Ragstock and I found this really great pair of black and green houndstooth hip-huggers…they were insane, and that’s when I found my first Clark’s desert treks. With a center seam. And it was like one of the happiest days of my life. Because I was supposed to be at work at this really dull company-wide meeting, you know like when they roll out a new platform, at the State Theater. And everyone said “I’ll meet you there,” and I just hopped in my car and went shopping.
JR: What was your position there at IDS?
KP: Gopher. General gopher. I worked in the investment department at the library for part of the day, and the other half of the day I worked for Treasury as a bank courier.
JR: So basically you’re like Jimmy in Quadrophenia.
KP: Yeah, basically. I spent most of my days at banks downtown, so I actually became part of the Wells Fargo bowling team because I was at Wells Fargo so much.
JR: Oh, here’s that shirt I wore at the Irish thing.
KP: Oh yeah.
JR: It’s held up really good. It’s nice, you can wash it.
KP: (eyes a pair of shoes) Of course these things are never real crepe. That’s where the money comes in. (heading to the back of the store) I’m going into the back because I have this pipe dream of finding that turtleneck for $7 or something.
Jim points a jean jacket out to Keith.
JR: That’s almost close.
KP: The collar is not convincing. I can tell the collar would fall funny.
JR: It’s just kinda cheap?
KP: It wouldn’t fold out right.
JR: OK. I’m gonna need your help.
KP: It would have an eighties Benetton cut. It wouldn’t have that Levi’s kind of…
JR: Ohhhhh…I see what you’re saying.
Jim picks up a pair of black and white checkered socks.
JR: These are like Dance Craze socks. The cover of Dance Craze?
KP: Did you go see Dance Craze…
JR: At the Uptown? Yeah, I did!
KP: And did they have the dance contest before?
JR: I don’t remember that.
KP: I remember going to it in ’82 and there was a thing, it must’ve been before or after the movie…
JR: Do you ever see that ska guy who used to ride around with his bass amp on his bicycle? He was like Mr. Ska?
KP: The guy who does the radio show on KFAI and has for like 30 years?
JR: Yeah probably.
KP: Yeah I think he might still have his ska show on at like 2am-4am on KFAI, Thursday nights or something.
Jim decides to buy the socks.
JR: You never know how these are going to hold up. They had these union jack socks? And I bought two pair and they both just tanked. These will look good with my tassel loafers.
KP: (joking) I think I found the new Korda men’s look for 2018.
Allison photographs the display of overwrought white pants.
AL: Wow, GQ.
KP: I find of late that H&M, I just come here for tshirts. I do like their tshirts a lot.
They leave H&M.
JR: You know, I got a lot of tshirts at American Apparel, oh they last so long, they’re unbelievable. I’ve had those things for ten years and they’re like brand new.
KP: We can take a quick look at the Urban Outfitters clearance.
They enter the store to a colorful array of Crosley record players as “Eminence Front” by The Who plays on the stereo.
JR: Working at a record store, this must be weird for you to see. What do you think of these?
KP: I think they are designed to last like two weeks. Some of them look cool…none of these. But they’re all garbage. Laughingstock of the record business.
JR: I never look in here.
KP: They used to have a semi-decent clearance, but I don’t know where it is now (Keith circles the store and finds very few men’s clothes altogether).
KP: They must’ve changed their business model.
JR: It’s sexism! (laughs)
KP: Now we have to go for broke and hit Marshall’s.
JR: What do you think is going on with vinyl? Do you think it will last? Is it just conspicuous consumption?
KP: I think there’s a growing appreciation for the tactile.
JR: Is it mostly kids coming into the store? Or is it people like us who are just nostalgic?
KP: Its kind of across the board. All ages. A kid will walk in and say “Sweet vinyls! Look at all these vinyls!” but also we get 70 year olds.
They enter Marshall’s.
KP: (Points out pale gray slacks on a circular rack) See these are those Paper Denim Cloth pants, they are like $15. These are awesome. I’ve got these in several shades. They are super comfortable. More comfortable than the H&M ones, they’re stretch. Stretch is a big thing for me.
Jim decides to buy two pairs and try them on later at home.
KP: The first time I found those pants two years ago I sent a photo to a friend out East (shows Allison a photo of himself modeling the pants) so that’s me in my first pair. And a shirt that I love that I found at Marshall’s the same day.
KP: Of course I’m not a big fan of the ironed look, being the beatnik that I am. It’s gotta be sorta throw and go for me. That’s me not being a squared away mod. That’s more of my beatnik origins.
Keith finds a button down shirt and Levi’s jeans.
KP: It says imperfect so I have to see what’s wrong with them. What you don’t want is for the seam to be irregular, crooked you know.
KP: You don’t want it to fall in some funny way and drive you nuts. But twenty-five bucks. I’ve paid less.
AL: So you do length 30’s?
KP: Yes, I like them to fall right at the bone of my ankle, basically. Or just above.
JR: So, Mods are trying to dress American, so how much will you buy something if it is American? Like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate or the guy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
JR: Yeah, kind of the Ivy League thing. So are you more hung up on getting ticket pockets?
KP: I just go for…
JR: But even Georgie Fame, he was wearing just straight American, right?
KP: I’m not that hung up on Brooks Brothers kind of thing, some of those touches are nice, I’m aware of them and everything…
KP: but I don’t hew to that. Basically I think of what would The Hollies, what would The Pretty Things have worn? What would The Zombies, whatever. I see those pictures of those bands, that’s what I want to wear.
JR: Even though it’s American inspired, it still has a twist.
KP: The Hollies and The Pretty Things, their shirts? They’re all early Ben Sherman shirts. You know, a lot of the striped shirts and the plaids and things…
KP: A lot of that was Ben Sherman.
JR: Like a fake madras?
JR: OK. That answers my question. You hew more to the bands.
KP: Which was more sort of slob chic at the time, the denim jackets, the Mod shirts, the Ben Sherman patterns…
JR: Yeah it’s funny when I go to work people think I’m overdressed but I’m dressed like a complete slob.
KP: Right. Back in the ’80’s I’d go to work in a tie and people would be like “Why are you wearing a tie, you must have a job interview,” or whatever. (Indicating the shirt and jeans he selected) I’m going to jump into these.
Keith heads to the fitting room, and returns in dark blue Levi’s and a button down shirt.
JR: (Inspecting Keith’s Levi’s) I think they’re too big.
KP: Too big??
JR: The legs are perfect.
KP: No, the legs are the problem.
JR: The legs are the problem?
KP: The legs are too Paul Revere and The Raiders, like revolutionary tights.
JR: Ohhhh. They stick to your calves.
KP: No this in here, (motioning to the hips of the pants) this is perfect. I don’t know what year you’re thinking, but this is 1965. You want them to fall like that.
KP: (Motioning to the calves) This is a little ridiculous. I like them a little wider than that.
JR: I see what you’re saying.
KP: The fact that they wouldn’t need to be taken up appeals to me. But the older I get, the more I want to breathe.
JR: How much are they?
KP: $25. (Consults the tag) $24.99.
JR: Do you have a pair of dark blue jeans?
KP: Probably too many.
JR: Oh. My first impression was they are big up here.
AL: I think they look big because the calves are so snug.
AL: Otherwise they look like they fit nicely.
KP: I like this kind of denim. (Heads back to the fitting room) I’ll make up my mind by the time I come out.
Having decided to purchase the shirt and jeans, Keith waits in the lengthy check out line at Marshall’s.
JR: Do you have any advice in closing?
KP: Stay home. Don’t go shopping. (Taking the clip on shades off his glasses, Keith inspects the shirt) I didn’t even realize this had yellow in it. Blech. From a distance it looks like an off white color, right? If you look really close there is actually yellow stitching in there. Do you see yellow in that from a distance?
KP: You gotta get right up on it. I like the kind of aged… I just like a button down collar. It doesn’t have to have a button in the back. (Points out the shirt he’s wearing) This is from The Gap Clearance Rack. I also got one, what is it pink, green, like a crazy variation of the same thing. They’re two of my favorite shirts.
JR: Nice. Well Keith, I think we’re going to take off. Love the album!
AL: Thanks for taking us shopping!
Though we didn’t succeed in finding a suitable jean jacket or wide belt for Jim, this Korda field trip yielded much insight into Keith’s style influences and savvy for finding a fashionable needle in a bargain basement haystack. Following the interview Allison gave Jim a lift home, and a haircut, while Keith checked out at Marshall’s and headed to IKEA for lunch before a busy afternoon of teaching guitar.