Packing for Argentina, Rethinking Baseball Stadium Design, New Haven Pizza is Going Mainstream, Oxford Pennant and 9 Life Lessons.
Welcome to Signals, my attempt to package up all of the interesting bits from the past few weeks and the good things I’ve found on the internet.
I. Packing for Patagonia
There’s at least one big story from Patagonia coming from me, but first I wanted to talk about my pack for the trip. I’ve talked about my packing strategies before and do consider myself adept at these types of things. This trip however, I saw a systemwide breakdown. I was telling Coggins that this was “the worst pack job of my life.” That’s true with the exception of the rare trip when I would stupidly pack with a few cocktails in my system. (That has happened and I don’t recommend it.) So here’s what went wrong, some bright spots and what I would do differently.
Deciding what to bring for this trip was difficult for me because of the fishing (which is why I enlisted the help of my friend Al James for that part). The various types of weather and the different destinations also complicated things.
We started out in Buenos Aires for a few days before heading to Patagonia. With summer in full swing it was hot in BA. That meant I needed clothes for days around town and some nice dinners. Then we were heading to Patagonia where it was also quite warm during the day for the fishing and then things would cool down at night. I actually didn’t know what the weather was going to be like in Patagonia and erred on the side of colder temps — which was a mistake. To complicate things further, I was traveling with boots, waders and other equipment for fishing. This consumed a decent amount of space in my bag and with an internal Argentina flight I was trying to get everything into one large duffel (without wheels naturally). The unknowns about what I would really need for Patagonia threw me into a state of flux which I apparently couldn’t overcome, but it did provide some good learnings.
What are the best shoes? What shirts work with the fishing pants I brought? There were too many of these questions. I did manage to get everything into one bag, but I sort of never felt like myself. My low score for packing didn’t affect the trip negatively, but I do want to share a breakdown of my pack and things I might do differently next time.
Footwear: Shoes are always an important part of the equation and I always want to minimize what I bring as much as possible. In this situation I limited things two pairs of shoes which worked well for what we were doing. The standout was the Rancourt Ranger Mocs pictured above. I worked with Rancourt to develop this particular style as a proto for golf. That might seem insane but these are some versatile shoes. They have a midsole and a chunkier outsole which makes them good for light outdoor activities — which includes going to and from fishing, golf if it’s not wet, and then for dinner, etc. They may or may not be your thing, but to me this is as versatile as a pair of footwear gets and they were just the thing to bring. Even Coggins complimented my strategy here — a bright spot indeed. The other pair of shoes I brought were a pair of Nike GORETEX trail running shoes. Again in terms of versatility, these shoes do a lot. You can wear them to workout, where it might be wet and they just do everything you might need from a pair of athletic footwear. I took them to Hawaii and they worked for so many different situations that I knew I had to take them to South America.
Fishing Clothing: As I mentioned, it was hot in Patagonia. I want to be able to jump into a river and dry quickly, so I’m personally not going for cotton shirts for these days on the water. These Patagonia warm weather hoodies and this option from Duck Camp are excellent for sun protection and ease of movement. The sun in Patagonia was scorching and I was going full hoodie, Buff over my ears with gloves, hat and glasses. This combo was highly effective on all fronts. I do love Rivay button-down shirts which I would wear while fishing if it weren’t so hot. They would also be perfect for after fishing with a good pair of chinos.
I try not to every wear joggers, but these lightweight pants were super clutch on their own, under waders or on the plane. Option 1 from Patagonia and option 2 from Duck Camp. Overall, I have found a lot of good stuff from Duck Camp which works active moments like we encountered in Patagonia.
This Pinebury merino wool shirt was just the right thing despite it being hot. I’ll say it again, merino is one of the most underrated materials out there. It performs so well across a variety of different temperatures and applications.
Areas to Improve
Challenges and Missing Pieces: My big take away from this trip was that mid-layers are not to be overlooked. When you pack it’s important to make sure you have options to represent each set of layers. You need hot weather gear, things that work across activities and environments and cold weather options. So for mid-layers a canvas jacket would have solved a lot of problems and a merino sweater would have worked for mornings and evenings. If these things can cross over to the city or to travel that’s even bette.r It would have been better for me to bring less fishing gear (or generally less options overall) and to have swapped in some mid-layers. This is an important learning. Go wide not deep. I didn’t need 6 shirts, I needed two things for each temperature zone.
I also wish I would have had a pair of Lusso Scenario slip ons for post fishing and for days on a boat. Another thing I needed was a more versatile and standard pair of khakis which I could have worn at dinners and also in the city. I brought a pair but they only seemed to work in the city for hot weather. Something like these from PennBuilt would have been more versatile. (I own these pants but didn’t bring them — which was a mistake). Overall, I learned on this trip that function alone shouldn’t be the guiding light. Sometimes versatility should have been prioritized and it would have served me to consider situations for the trip a bit more carefully. Overall it didn’t matter — that time in Argentina was one of the best trips of my life.
II. Make Baseball Stadiums Small Again
In Central Division news (the other CD), I caught this interesting documentary about Comiskey Park and the impact of the jewel box baseball parks. It’s a long movie for the non-White Sox fans among us, but it did make me think about ballpark design how the car has ruined the intimacy of modern stadiums.
The other idea floated in this film was that the MLB’s retro building boom of the 90s is turning out to be ill conceived by some. (Although I do love Jacobs Field.) The Score published a great story about Comiskey (which included this video) where they lament the evolution of the modern stadium and offer an interesting look back at the jewel box parks of the past.
“To eliminate obstructed seating caused by beams needed to support the upper deck, both stadiums pushed the upper deck back from the playing surface. Layers of skyboxes and club seats were added between the upper and lower decks. This became the template. The retro generation of ballparks, for all their amenities and wider concourses, have done one great disservice to the fan experience: they've pushed fans further from the playing field.”
It’s said that Jerry Reinsdorf was apparently presented an option to do a more Camden Yards style stadium and turned it down in favor of something bland. Ooof.
So how did the car ruin stadium design? When ballparks stopped being wedged into city neighborhoods (which were easily accessible) the started to become these massive bland buildings. Think McMansions surrounded by endless parking. It’s easy to see the negative impact of designing something for massive open space with no constraints. You end up with something devoid of soul or personality.
We wouldn’t have the Green Monster without a limitation of the surroundings of Fenway at the time. These quirks are what made jewel box parks compelling. We often overlook how important constraints are in not only design, but in life. "Without the limitations, you wouldn't come up with creative solutions. And architecture is by definition about restrictions." -N. Scott Johnson, chief of operations for architects Richard Meier & Partners
Sadly, NYC is losing a lot of old places. Morscher’s Pork Store in Ridgewood, Brooklyn is closing its doors on February 1st. [Righteous Eats]
This is a good and simple wine for home and casual affairs. [KLWM]
Interesting story about the Throwing Fits guys and how younger men view fashion / style. Also, am I the Elder Statesman of Menswear? [The New York Times Magazine]
New Haven Pizza has gone mainstream. [The New York Times]
“There are people who think of a diner as just a place to get a meal, and then there are those of us who understand diners, who cherish them, who seek them out and settle into them. We are recharged by time spent in diners in the way that adults who emerged from happy childhoods are recharged by a visit to their parents’ home. Every diner is different; every diner is exactly the same.” [The New Yorker]
Go Oxford Pennant, Go! (Sorry to Bills Mafia— my support now moves to the Lions.)
9 Life Lessons from Tim Minchin. This is good.
How Garrett’s Popcorn is Made. This and Chicago tavern style pizza and I’m a happy man.
Thanks for reading. See you out there.