Monday, May 5, 2008

You Loved the Etude, NOW Try the Wallet

The opportunity to ruthlessly mock one's smarter, more successful friends comes along so rarely that I could not pass this up. I've been linked to Braithwaite Wallets, Inc., a deliciously pretentious designer of men's accessories that accompanies each of their two wallet designs with a self-serious, J. Peterman-style anecdote and a return policy that promises, "IF YOUR BRAITHWAITE DOESN'T ENHANCE YOUR LIFESTYLE" within thirty days, they will literally send someone to your home to pluck the wallet from your undeserving fingers. So here's the story behind their model, RAPTURED:
Walking down the street, he was reeling inside after the performance he had just seen. He didn’t typically listen to “concert music”, but this was unlike anything he had ever heard. The solitary piano player, the music that seemed broken and disjointed, the strange and beautiful harmony was still stirring within him. With his legs carrying him without concern for direction, he was happy to be alone in this moment to reflect on what he had experienced[.] Watching the strangers that passed by him, his swirling thoughts began to focus and take shape. The seeds of a grand idea, still vague but overwhelming, had been slowly cultivated by the unfamiliar music that unlocked his imagination. A new desire to turn his feeling into a plan, into action, drove his thoughts, as well as his legs, faster and faster. Finally relenting from his brisk pace, he looked up to see a café, a well-lit beacon within the darkened street, a space to calm his unharnessed visions. Once inside, he now wished he could put his ideas into words, that he could share them with someone else. His mind was distant, his body on auto-pilot. He approached the counter and ordered without glancing at the barista. After the steaming drink was set down, he reached into his coat, pulled out his wallet, removed a bill, and told the cashier to keep the change. “Nice wallet.” Looking up, he saw a woman admiring his Braithwaite. “Thanks.” “You look a little distracted.” As he cautiously began to explain the thoughts that had been overrunning him, she interrupted, surprised to find someone echoing her own enveloping ideas. He smiled as he listened to her recent insights, gladdened to find this new connection: a sense of harmonious collaboration uniting the two as they talked into the night.

At the top of the page is an embedded player, offering the wallet's "THEME: 'A Hudson Cycle' by Nico Muhly."


Sorry, it's actually a terrifically beautiful wallet, as you can see, and I guess I can even see some connections between it and Nico's music. Minimalist texture, baroque flourish—even the asymmetrical pockets suggest Hudson Cycle's undulating polyrhythms—but can you imagine the accessories that might be inspired by the music of other composers? (Yes, I am segueing into a "bit" now.)

Grandma exhaled uneasily and then was silent. Dropping the syringe back into my purse, I signed her name on the new will with CHEATING LYING STEALING, the David Lang fountain pen.


"You seem uneasy, was it something I said?" Of course not—but I couldn't tell her it was my Arvo Pärt luxury hairshirt!

Or maybe,

As the klezmer clarinet slipped into a tango rhythm, the dark stranger lowered the brim of her Osvaldo Golijov-brand urban sombrero.
Or simply,

His eyes widened. 'Please, no,' he would have gasped, if not for the gag. "Anything but the Zorn!"

I think this could work!

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Blogger Unknown said...

So, how much IS this wallet? I'm almost afraid to click.

May 5, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Grrg said...

It is one hundred and twenty-five lifestyle-enhancing dollars.

May 5, 2008 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for "Anything but the Zorn!"

May 5, 2008 at 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a ruse, any man who has true taste does not need a wallet to enhance his life. His mere presence alone should make the average passerby want to something for him! No wallet would do the trick. A pair of Babbit shades perhaps, but not a wallet.

May 5, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fortunately, I do seem to be outside the target market for said wallet, not being a guy. But the way women's handbags are marketed and sold generally puts this to shame in sheer excess, although I don't recall any musical marketing techniques...yet.

May 6, 2008 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Connor F said...

As the founder of Braithwaite Wallets, I have to thank you for the hilarious post! You had me in stitches :) Just to clarify, I designed the wallet first, heard Nico's music and THEN decided to pair them!

However, you definitely have me thinking of doing it the other way round!

I think I'm going to spend my weekend designing the CHEATING LYING STEALING fountain pen and The Zorn gag :) Genius you...

BTW, thanks for the posting on the Tan Dun article in the NYT.


Connor Ferster

May 11, 2008 at 12:50 PM  

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