#132: Small Talk Studio
Nick and Phil from Small Talk Studio drop in to tell us about Kleman Padror shoes, High Valley Books, Collared Sweatshirts, Bean Bag Chairs, and more
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Small Talk Studio founders Nick Williams & Phil Ayers to come on Perfectly Imperfect & redistribute their good taste.
Small Talk Studio is a clothing line and design studio run by Nick Williams and Phil Ayers that’s known for their custom hand-drawn and embroidered pants, jackets, and shirts. Their style consists of detailed marker drawings sourced from old magazines, reference books, eBay listings, graphics almanacs, and good old fashioned google image searches. Small Talk is teaming up with Gitman Vintage on a project set to drop early next year, and Nick and Bijan from Intramural Shop are cooking up an illustrated apron to celebrate home chefs. Nick and Phil have great taste and lucky for us, they’re here to tell us what they’ve been into.
Without further ado
Nick Williams (instagram)
🪐 Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy
Earth is a beautiful place full of magic, but it also sucks ass and sometimes you need to escape. For a committed escape try these ~2000 pages of ecosocialist utopian fever dream on a not too distant future Mars. KSR writes with great care, wit and political insight about the process of settling and terraforming Mars. The books have an unparalleled combination of beautiful rambling descriptions of nature (both Terran and Martian), high political drama, good sex, and patient character development (with longevity treatment, people can live for centuries).
🚢 The Cruise (1998)
My sister is an architectural historian and lover of cities who runs the account @formfollowsfantasy, and last time we were together she showed me this beautiful and concise (only 77 min) documentary about Timothy “Speed” Levitch, a divinely inspired double decker bus tour guide in 1990s NYC. He is quite literally in constant conversation with the city and its inanimate (to most people) objects, and he possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of where the city’s great artists, writers, and performers prospered and suffered. He leads groups of unsuspecting tourists from all over the world on rambling jaunts through the city where he shares what appear to be stream-of-consciousness poetic performances with them from the roof of a double decker bus. Everything that enables the flow of life is “cruise” (a well composed outfit, undeniable sexual connection with a passerby) and everything that disrupts that flow is “anti-cruise” (cops, the never-ending grind of work for money). Words to live by.
My everyday shoe. Like Paraboot’s Michael, but less than ½ the price and way cuter. They have a little scalloped edge detail around the front of the shoe and a chunkier sole, and once broken in, they will carry you far and wide with style and comfort. They’re a great shoe to peek out from your deep break baggy jeans like a little hoof, wear with athletic shorts and dress socks or anything in between.
☎️ 🤝 Sharing your Grailed/Ebay wins & losses with a friend
My friend Charlotte and I have a text thread dedicated to embarrassing selfies with ill-fitting secondhand online purchases and affirmation of inspired fits. If you convince yourself you can pull off a pair of 80s women’s Adidas track pants from Russia and they turn out to be unsurprisingly tight on the crotch and too short, but no one knows about it, did it ever happen? In the best case scenario, you can trade ill-fitting jawns and find great harmony and satisfaction when the other person pulls them off flawlessly. There’s no reason to keep your failures between you and mirror. Share them with a friend.
High Valley Books is Bill Hall’s vast collection of rare and out of print books and magazines spanning fashion, art, architecture, interiors, photography, and fiction. It is run out of his Greenpoint basement (and now upstairs annex). My girlfriend Hannah is a writer and former bookseller who put me on to his place when she found a great copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalogue for me a couple years ago, and we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Bill’s hospitality and deep knowledge on a few occasions since then. They have an online store if you’re not in NY and their “New Releases” email is one of the few recurring retail emails I would recommend subscribing to.
Joe is a good friend of mine who works as a sleep scientist by day and moonlights as an amateur nature documentarian and musician. His films range from 15 seconds to about 4 minutes at the longest, and he scores most of them himself. My favorites are Beach Lumps III (The Lumps of Our Lives), Duck Destiny II (Ducks Unlimited), Marmot Melange, and a very old one called Frog (you should let autoplay roll you straight into “Goats” afterward). Joe lives in San Francisco, but sometimes he sends me a small stack of flyers advertising the release of a new 3 minute nature film complete with the full text of the youtube link, and I post them up around my neighborhood in New York. Someday we will make something together.
Phil Ayers (instagram)
John Locker is a man of the sea and a true hero of mine. Living in Cornwall, England with his wife Hannah and son James, John has a youtube channel to document his damn near daily coastal foraging and fishing expeditions. In his cute British accent with the pristine backdrop of Cornwall's beautiful beaches, John shows you how to lure razor clams from the sand using salt, locate all sorts of sneaky crustaceans and how to harvest oysters and other bivalves in the most sustainable way. Each episode usually culminates with John and his family cooking their bounty over open fire on the beach, inspiring both mouthwatering envy and awe. This is by far my favorite youtube channel and whether you're into coastal foraging or not, I'm sure you'll find John's wholesome videos captivating, educational and extremely heartwarming. Pro tip: John's coastal foraging videos are a lot more exciting than his fishing videos (though those are fun too). John and his wife are both good follows on IG as well (@thefishlocker & @lockerhannah).
Impressionistic piano album by H Hunt released in 2016. I love listening to this album over coffee in the morning while I watch my fish swim and/or any time I'm feeling anxious and stressed. The title is quite literal as it was initially recorded as a Christmas present for the artist's Dad before being released by cool guy UK label tasty morsels. Obviously there's a specific time, place and mood for a solo piano album but this one always hits.
👕 Collared Sweatshirts
It's one thing to wear a collared shirt under a crewneck sweatshirt, but I prefer to cut out the middleman and just wear a sweatshirt with a built-in collar. It's an easy way to feel cool, comfy and classy all at once and is fit for both informal and formal occasions. I found this one at a Goodwill in Ohio when I was in college about 10 years ago and it remains a favorite in my wardrobe to this day. Beams+ also makes some nice ones.
🪑 Bean Bag Chairs
When I moved into an apartment above a funeral home last spring, I was looking for some furniture that wouldn't break the bank and would help offset the macabre mood of the place. I found a green bean bag chair to be the perfect solution while also complementing the other furniture in my living room pretty nicely. Some of my friends initially made fun of me for this purchase, saying that's something you get from a Pottery Barn Kids' catalogue, now those same friends come over and exclusively wanna sit in my bean bag chair. Don't knock it till you try it, folks, bean bag chairs are the shit.
⛽ Rockaway Sunoco/Waterview Car Care
I spend a lot of time surfing out in Rockaway and whenever my car is in need of gas, I make a point of stopping at this particular Sunoco on Beach Channel Drive. It's situated right on the edge of Jamaica Bay, so while you're pumping your gas, you've got this beautiful, unobstructed view of the water, the birds and the boats, and on a clear day (most days) you've got a full panoramic view of the NYC skyline in the distance. If you don't wanna pay at the pump or the car reader's broken, you've got to pay the cashier inside of a bait & tackle shop, so you can also get some beer and all your fishing gear in one fell swoop. Exact location: 112 - 10 Beach Channel Dr, Rockaway Park, NY 11694 and if you wanna
Check out their website.
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