Archive for May, 2011

Ashes tie ashes…

May 16, 2011

Friday was a banner day [sarcasm dripping]. Two funerals. Ugh. Let me tell you about these gentlemen and their legacies.

George Hackbarth is the father of a dear family friend, whom I met about 15 years ago. Diana & Dave Price became friends of Diane as she watched them for 8 years (their boys, Andrew & Adam, are the same ages as Steven & Josiah, my stepsons).

George survived his wife, Irene, for 3 years, and they were always fixtures at their family gatherings. George, a professional tool & die maker, had great stories, and he made fantastic – FANTASTIC – Manhattans. He made them slowly and methodically, as a proper cocktail should be crafted, just as he probably crafted something else with ‘Manhattan’ in the phrase. Yes, the Manhattan Project. George machined the uranium bits and pieces of the atomic bombs that were tested in New Mexico and then final examed in Japan. You can read more of his tales here.

That was Friday morning. I wore a properly dark tie for the proceedings, but rather improperly spilled a drop or three of coffee on my Colker Special, an Armani Collezioni. Luckily my crapiPhone camera won’t pick up the subleties of the spillage. But, when I went to the visitation at funeral #2, my friend John Bernin picked up on those subleties, and gave me proper shit for it. What to do? Well, give him shit back, and go change my tie when I had the chance.

So, for the second time this week, I doubled up on my tie output for the day. I went with another Colker Special, a JZ Richards design for Nordstrom. While it still struck the proper tone, its purple had a bit more color than the day’s Tie No. 1 (these are Tie Nos. 287 & 288, by the way).

And so, with an uncaffeinated Deuxième Tie du Jour, my second funeral of the day arrived.

And thus, I come to Leo Passage, who also passed away this week. He is the father of my dear friend, Corrine Passage, who’s a neighbor that I admire in her own right. Leo is the founder of Pivot Point, a world leader in beauty education. He is an absolute icon in the salon industry, and you would not believe the outpouring of love that was present on Friday evening (and Saturday afternoon). People traveled from every continent (except Antarctica) to be here, and those who couldn’t come sent the most amazing flowers. Corrine and her brother Rob shared the eulogy, which turned into a celebration of the passion that someone can have for his true loves in life – wife, family and profession. Leo had all of that, and the inspiration that he emitted through his very talented pores rested on so many of the 600+ in attendance, as well as those who kept him in their thoughts throughout the week. I found a picture of him in a tie, but as this photo captures the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face, I wanted to use it instead.

I can, however, add his grandson, Jack, to the GWT roster. A spitting image of the young Leo (there was a running video tribute at the visitation), Jack has the world ahead of him, and it’s obviously in his genes to grab what he wants.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Tie the power vested in me…

May 14, 2011

Nope, didn’t get married, nor did I get ordained and start marrying couples. Was just trying to think of still more phrases where I could insert ‘tie.’  Funny that I thought I’d run out about, ohhh, 7 months ago.

It’s been a while since I’ve thanked you, loyal reader, for making this fun. I am still getting, and loving, the feedback, whether it’s on here, on Facebook or in person. After yesterday’s two-fer, I think I’m at Tie No. 286 with my Tie du Jour. It’s been quite a surprise to me, that I’ve kept at it. My transition from the chamber may keep me from wearing a tie every day, but I’m sure I’ll still be at 3 or 4 per week at some point soon. There is no way I want to give this up. Ironically, as I wear them less often, ties may even become a larger part of my life. Stay tuned.

My TdJ is a pretty thin, pretty vintage blue and olive number, from the tastefully named company Prince Consort. I picked it because its tag said “BUTTON-DOWN TIE.” Yep, sure enough, this tie doesn’t need a tie clip, as it has three button holes in the tail. As you can see from the little picture to the right, I just attached it to the front of the shirt. Very handy. Oh, and they were aiming to sell this to the lowest common commoner, as it says, on the tag/keeper (along with Patent No. 2,813,273), “PUT SMALL END THRU HERE.” Well…thanks? Perfect help for the person who’s never worn a tie. Wouldn’t be me, now, would it?

Thanks for reading…Brooke

A Tale of Two Cit-ties

May 13, 2011

It was the best of ties, but since I wore only two ties, I should actually say “It was the better of ties.”

Yes, on Wednesday I pulled the old switcheroo (hearkening back to the glory days of the English slanguage, when “something-eroo” was the “fo-shizzle” of the day). I wore one suit/tie combo during the day, for my regular work-a-day, then gettin’ my seersucker goin’ on for our Annual Meeting.

So, since I have twice as many pix to post, let’s get this double tie-party started.

The original strip, which I guess would be the official Tie du Jour, is pretty plain-Jane. It’s dark navy with teeny-tiny white, red and green pinstripes in it, barely visible thanks to my crapiPhone. It’s from Harridge Row, which sounds British. This is one of several fairly staid ties that I own, that I avoid constantly. Of course, I go for the bolder ones over the dullards, but I’m going to have to have a YITW pretty soon (Yawn-Inducing Tie Week). Some may say I have had several YITWs up ’til now.

Since we at the chamber love to pile extra work upon ourselves, we planned our monthly SOHO group for today at lunchtime. Hosted graciously by Coworking Evanston, a shared-office space on Davis Street, I even got to capture a new Guy With Tie.

Lightning is owner of inMotion, a consulting firm that helps businesses establish their values and processes. And, yes, his name is Lightning. Love the paisley shirt.

Back at the ranch, I added Creighton Bledsoe, one of our interns who is technically a GWT alum. He was on here before during the week when I was running around with a bag full of ties so I could try to get 100 new GWTs (that includes Girls With Ties). Gotta dig the skinny tie.

Soon it was time to head home and don my Annual Meeting attire. Oh, I needed to be noticed (attention seeker?…PRESENT!) and seersucker was just my ticket to noticedom. My Deuxième Tie du Jour (we’ll call it the provisional TdJ) had a bit more personality. Just a bit, as did my suit.

This bright neon-blue and neon-green strip is from a designer called Club Urbano. I thought it would go well with my bright seersucker suit and my bright white belt and my bright white shoes and my…well, you get the idea.

Since it was a quasi-formal occasion, there were lots of GWTs running around. I only caught a few. Let’s get right to ’em.


James Brewer is owner of Envision Wealth Architects. He’s new to the chamber, and he wore a great Ben Sherman strip that I may need to borrow.

Next we have a threebie pic, GWT alum Todd Paul joins Andrew Levin and Brian Levin, two NU students who have, along with several others, formed LEND (Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development), a company that provides micro-loans for small businesses in struggling areas of Evanston.

Steve, version Griffin

Next we have Steve Griffin, another GWT alum, who is the Community and Economic Development Director with the City of Evanston.

Steve, version L-J

We stick with the Steves, as Steve Lemieux-Jordan was sporting a tie while also taking some pix himself. He and his wife, Genie, are owners of Evanston Photographic Studios. They were taking some LinkedIn profile photos for attendees. They got some good ones, as you’ll see in a second.

I mentioned that they were taking LinkedIn profile pics. I took mine during one of the more enjoyable moments of the evening (aka – I’d had a few beers). Which of these should I choose?

Thanks for reading…Brooke




Goodtie Yellow Brick Road

May 10, 2011

Ive got some goooolden chesthair

I've got a goooolden ticket!

Sir Elton John (né Reginald Dwight, which you can’t spell without T-I-E) was of course at the royal wedding of most recent happenstance. His purple tie was quite befitting of the day, very regal. Of course, many wish he had busted out one of his tie-less outfits from the 70’s. That whole wedding needed a bit of naughtiness.

Naughtiness was not the order of the day, as I spent the first part of it taking a mostly-well, slightly-sick daughter to the doctor’s office. Then that same even-more-well-less-sick daughter accompanied me to the office all day. Luckily for all involved, she brought her laptop and enough books to keep her occupied, at least until the last 90 minutes of our stay, which was of course punctuated by exceedingly rapid-fire requests to leave the premises. Huff.

But, I did manage to get a tie on – and keep my top button buttoned, even – to last the day. It’s what we now know as a Colker Special, one of the group of ties that my friend David Colker loaned me several weeks ago. They are mostly power ties, bold colors that were the favorites of folks in the trading industry. Folks like David, who went to bat for the Cincinnati Stock Exchange against the Wall Street boys. If I ever get him to wear a tie again (I’m pretty sure he’s a GWT alum), I’ll snap a pic. But, if not, then here’s one that I plucked online…

Now, on to my Tie du Jour, or the CSdJ (Colker Spécial du Jour), as it turns out. As you can guess from the Eltonian subject, it’s a bold yellow number, a power strip, so to speak. It hails from the house of Ike, Ike Behar. The one bad thing was that I didn’t have any pocket squares that set it off just right, so I had to settle for something that went with the shirt. Sheesh, did I take my bitchin’ pills today?

Tomorrow is the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, a big to-do that will soon be to-done. Our new Executive Director, Eve Doi, will take a bow, as this will be her first Evanston appearance as our new boss. Best of luck, Eve! Can’t wait to re-meet you (she met with staff during the interview process). Hope she knows that she has to do shots with all of the board members…annual meeting tradition.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Conjunctivitis, aka pink tie

May 9, 2011

No, no, no, relax…I don’t have pink eye, or any other communicable disease or affliction. Nor am I a pinko commie, regardless of what that bitch Joe McCarthy and his 50s witch hunt may say. I have, however, demonstrated the stones necessary to wear a pink tie.

Exhibit A, or rather, Exhibit P: I present to you, precious peruser(s), my Tie du Jour. As you can plainly perceive from the posted picture, it is, with 100% probability, a pink tie. A plaid beauty from Michael Kors, it promotes blue elements to perk up the pink. I picked this up at TJ Maxx, if my perfunctory memory serves (I have proven, quite often lately, that it does not), and paired it with a blue pocket square. Perfect!

Well, I may as well cut out the P-words before I get to the dirty ones. And, I may as well start to cut to the chase with my big news that I announced I’d be announcing.

I have resigned my full-time position with the Evanston Chamber. We are still working out a last day, but it will likely be Friday, May 20. That’s not to say that I’ll be leaving the Chamber completely (“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!”), as I have offered to switch to part-time, hourly-compensated employment. More details later, as they become clearer to me…

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Absence makes the heart bow fonder

May 8, 2011

Bow Tie Week, the little brother of last year’s Bow Tie Fortnight, has come to an end. Many thanks to my great friend Dan Murrell, for keeping me in bow ties, and promising to keep me replenished as I need them. I’m planning Seersucker Week for the week after Memorial Day (if memory serves me that day), so I’ll ask him to send me another couple that would work with my suit or blazer.

My final BTdJ was another from Beau Ties of Vermont. These red hearts would be great on Valentine’s Day (or Hallmark’s creation called Sweetest Day), but why shouldn’t they come out any day of the year?

Over the weekend, I was able to complete a FSWT (Father-Son With Tie) combo. I went to a first communion after-party at the home of GWT alum Peter Reinhart. His dad Jack, looking dapper at 90 (which is a kid in the Reinhart clan…his father lived to the ripe young age of 110), posed for me. Love the paisley!

Just want to give a teaser now…keep reading over the next couple of weeks. There will be some big news on my tie future.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Bow Country for Old Men

May 6, 2011

Once again, I had police officers involved in my day, and once again, I was not a lawbreaker or victim. It’s the first Thursday of the month, which can only mean Leadership Evanston time! All of my classmates had the chance to talk about our experiences with our ride-alongs (or would that be rides-along?), and 4 of Evanston’s finest joined us for some role-playing. In three scenarios (domestic dispute, teenage brawl, traffic stop), we played the cops and they played the suspects. My very authoritative bow tie didn’t keep me from having my (toy) gun stolen. Oh, well, so there won’t be a late-life career shift into the law enforcement industry. Great job, Officers!

My Bow Tie du Jour is tagless, but I do know that it’s a Murrell Special. It’s a very cool orange and blue which, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be an orange and purple tie. Intrigue, no?

After I sported my bow tie into domestic-dispute-scenario-battle, we had a speed-networking hour with more than a dozen Evanston organizations. Of course, I had to find some new Guys With Ties.

Art Mollenhauer is CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Chicago. He’s an Evanston resident, and if this tie is any indication of his collection, he’s a great addition to GWT.

Another guy, another great tie…Jeremy Barrows is the Director of Development & Communication for the Evanston Community Foundation. He joined up for the speed-dating (as they put it)…

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Take Bow Prisoners

May 6, 2011

Wednesday was a first for me…I got to ride in a police car. No, no, I did not break any laws, nor was I wrongly accused of breaking any laws. As part of my Leadership Evanston experience, I had the privilege of going on a ride-along with Officer LaShawn Cook, one of Evanston’s finest. She took me on a tour of her beat, and we even got to make a traffic stop (a lady pulled out her cellphone and started texting right in front of us. duh.). Contrary to popular belief, manifested in the movie Superbad, I did not get a chance to discharge a weapon or burn a wrecked squad car. Officer Cook was very patient with my stupid questions (“How fast can one go before he/she gets a ticket?” “Can I discharge a weapon or burn a wrecked squad car?”). Thanks, Officer Cook!

So, knowing that I’d be cruising around in a cruiser, did I change my Bow Tie Week responsibility? Of course (k)not! This orange number from the Churchill Collection via GWBT Dan Murrell’s collection may have been the first bow tie in that car, unless they busted some college professors for smoking the reefer recently.

I’m sure that folks who saw me riding along wondered what the hell that guy with a bow tie was doing in the police car, especially once you see the ensemble (that’s a tan blazer, not yellow, as my crapiPhone would suggest). That would have taken the whole ‘good cop/bad cop’ thing to a different level. ‘Snazzy cop/sloppy cop’ or maybe ‘good fop/bad fop’ come to mind as suitable replacements, should the mighty bow make its way into the uniform of our men and women in blue.

Wednesday was kind of a big day, and not only because of my brush with the law. We had our monthly Lawyers, Guns & Money (funny that I was dropped off by Officer Cook, who had a Gun) event at the Prairie Moon. I should always get more GWT at these events, but I don’t want it to be just about the camera. I did snag/snap attorney Michael Poulos, on one of his rare visits to LGM (he’s in the Chicago Bar Association’s orchestra).

After cavorting with the collection of lawyers and money folk, I was collected by Jenny and we headed to SPACE to see singer/songwriter Chris Pureka in concert. It was a fantastic show, and she even sported a tie. The crapiPhone may even give you proof, but don’t hold your breath. I swear she had on a tie.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

I’m your ice cream man, stop me when I’m passing tie…

May 4, 2011

An open letter to Mother Nature:

Hiya Ma,

I can tell you’re angry. I don’t know what someone said or did to you to make you so upset, but I hope it wasn’t me. Oh, sure, you’ve given us crappy Aprils before, but my calendars all agree that it’s May now. Today started out with a little bit of sunshine, so I dressed accordingly, without checking the thermometer. You know that I’m not a weather checker: I know you can and will do your job, and you don’t need me playing armchair quarterback like that Tom Skilling. Later on in the day, the clouds had swallowed that star that keeps us warm, and the thermometer in my car (which has a sunroof, not an overcast roof!!) reading said 45 degrees.

Whatever we can do, please let me know and I’ll tell everybody. I’m sure we’re all ready for a collective “I’m sorry” so we can revive our spring.

Sunnily yours,


Anyone got a stamp?

Yeah, we Chicagolanders love to talk about the weather. Unofficial stats put forth by at least one blogger (me) note that 92% of elevator conversations speak entirely on what’s going on outside. The other 8%, by the way, are broken up this way: 5%-Bears; 3%-fact that coffee hasn’t been had yet.

The temps just aren’t lending themselves to a good Bow Tie Week. As you can see from my ensemble pic, I brought out the seersucker (just the blazer, not the full suit–gots to be hots). Honestly, seersucker isn’t meant to be shivered in, nor is it used to having a trench coat worn over it. The nerve!

So, let’s pretend it was summer as we describe the Bow Tie du Jour. It’s a Murrell Special from Beau Ties of Vermont. Now, I’m not sure if it was originally from there, or if they fashioned it out of a regular necktie. I think that’s a great service…I have a couple of strips that I want them to make a bow tie out of. Anyway, this looks like it may have been an Hermès in its prior life…

Thanks again, Dan, for loaning me a few of your precious bow ties!

Speaking of Few, tomorrow is a big day at Few Spirits. The first batch will be run through the mash tank and put into the fermentation container. Cross your fingers that those little yeasty beasties will get hongry on those sugars and produce some yummy booze.

Thanks for reading…Brooke

Do Not Pass Bow, Do Not Collect $200

May 3, 2011

I only wish there were $200 attached to this post. But, perhaps there could be a way to attain some economic gain on here. Hmm, lucky for me, I’m friends with Billie Kershasky of Astor & Black. She and her buddies at A&B have come up with a contest (read about it, as well as a worldwide treasure trove of style tips, on their Style Log) in which the winner will receive an iPad.

Oh, how nice it would be to keep track of my TAW (Ties Already Worn) and my TTW (Ties To Wear), on an electric medium such as the iPad. I could take photos of the ones that I need to wear, and set a plan for which would be the upcoming Ties du Jour. Then I could just blog on the go. Plus, when my brand new, custom-crafted A&B suit arrives later this month (thanks for the fitting, Billie!), I can use the iPad to show it off, since I can’t wear it all the time (or can I?)…

Now that I’m done entering the contest, it’s time to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Strike up the band! It’s Bow Tie Week! Not to be confused with Bow Tie Fortnight, mind you, BTW is more than just a condensed version of BTF, more than just a different third letter in the acronym. Oh, no, my pretty, it’s a harbinger of spring, even though it started 6 weeks ago. Bow ties, to me, are like shorts; oh, sure, bow ties are worn in the cold months, too, but they look so happy, so, well, spring-y.

My Bow Tie du Jour is from R. Hanauer, who have the very valuable domain name I bought this bow tie from Dorothy Coletta, a friend of mine whom I met through my friend Katherine Eiff (who gave me the George Washington tie that I adored so much even though she said it should be a part of Ugly Tie Week). [Exhale]. Dorothy used to own a clothing store on the east coast, and brought a lot of the merchandise out here when she moved. That reminds me, she had a couple of ascots; I need to try an ascot before 100D100T is history.

Well, I have a new category…Petrus Manach here is the charter member of the PADWT (Picasso’s Art Dealer With Tie). Petrus was an art dealer who signed Picasso to a contract in 1900 (ah, the Internet). This print was in my friend—and GWT alum—Todd Paul’s bathroom. No, I did not take a picture of anything else in there.

Thanks for reading…Brooke