Made In Detroit: Shinola Bronze Monster and Detrola I Voted

As our relationship with Shinola continues here at RG, I wanted to take some time to highlight two of my most recent arm candy acquisitions from our friends in Detroit: The Bronze Monster and the Detrola I Voted. They live at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum, but both are equally comfortable at home in my collection, and I think they’d make solid additions to yours, as well.

I’ll start with the Monster.

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Made In The USA: Bison

This one comes from a reader who has been very happy with several Bison belts. Most of them are “infinite adjust”, like the USA-made GRIP6 belts, and they can be had in a staggering variety of widths, colors, and designs. Note that some of the belts use the Austria Alpine COBRA buckle, like my old (and no longer available new, but still working perfectly) Waterfield bag. Those buckles are NOT made in the USA, but they ARE made entirely in Austria.

Find them at Bison Designs.

Made in Detroit: Shinola Detrola Watches

Since we started our partnership with Shinola here at RG, several of you have purchased watches, jewelry, and leather goods through our link. We appreciate both your continued support of us here as well as your commitment to purchasing goods that are made in Detroit by American workers.

Some of you have indicated that you’d like to buy a watch, but that the prices are a little higher than you’d like. Fear not, friends—I decided to buy one of Shinola’s lower cost watches, the Detrola No. 2, to see if the lower price point compromised the style or quality that I’ve come to expect from Shinola.

For more info about Shinola’s entry level watches, click the jump.

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Made In The USA: Snap-On FJ175

Our twenty-first-century New Morality is mostly banal and unimaginative but it does have a couple of nifty adaptations to it, the most interesting of which I’ll call One Click Away From Default State. The “Default State” is whatever the New Morality wishes you to be, and the you is very personal.

Here’s an example. Your humble author has probably hired and supported more minority and female writers than any other single editor in the business. However, the keepers of the New Morality would very much like to brand me with “sexist and racist” so therefore any single thing they can find to support that branding will be taken as being absolute and immediate. Let’s say that there was a video of me rapping the “N-word” in front of a hundred people. I assure you that said video would be made omnipresent on Car Twitter or whatever. It doesn’t matter what else I’ve done. That would be the “one click” to doom me.

On the other hand, Sam Biddle has long been on the side of “the good guys” so when he does exactly that, the video gets DMCA’d and disappeared from the public eye. In point of fact, Sam Biddle (and, whisper it, Hunter Biden) can do as much as he likes in the way of racist or offensive behavior. As soon as he says “the right thing”, whatever that needs to be, he will one-click back to his assigned state of Good Guy.

If you want another example, think about how readily society accepts someone’s declaration of alternate sexuality; that “one click” is all you need to get instant membership status in whatever subculture you like. However, if you want to leave that subculture, however… well, I don’t even know how you would do it. Nobody would take you seriously. Let’s say that I declared myself to be a furry next week. Then a week afterwards, I posted that I was “sick of this furry stuff lol” and that I was going back to, ah, relationships without fursuits. What percentage of you would consider me to be permanently a furry?

So, what does all of this have to do with a $935 floor jack?

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Made in Detroit: Shinola Ice Monster Review

When we announced our partnership with Shinola a couple of weeks ago, a few of you said something along the lines of, “That’s a lot of money for a quartz watch.” As we’ve discussed, there is real value in the realization of returning watch manufacturing to the United States of America, and I’d rather spend $550-600 for a watch that is assembled in America (as a few of you already have through our link, and we thank you for that!) than similar or slightly less money for one that is assembled elsewhere.

But for those of you who simply must have an automatic watch, Shinola has you covered there, as well. The first Shinola automatic was released in November of 2017, and it was a lovely dive watch called the Lake Erie Monster, referencing both the Great Lake that borders Shinola’s home state of Michigan and the 1894 legend in which sailors claimed to have seen a roughly 40 foot monster swimming in that same lake. It was a limited production run of only 500, and retailed for roughly $2500. It’s now rare to find one of these original Shinola autos for sale anywhere, and when one does, they typically go for over $4000 on eBay or similar auction sites.

Fear not—the success of the Erie Monster led to the subsequent creation and sale of several other Monster models, including the Huron, Ontario, Superior, and Michigan Monsters, thus rounding out the Great Lakes. These models are significantly less expensive than the original Erie, retailing at around $1250-1450 new.

But for my first experience with a Shinola Monster, I wanted the new Ice Monster.

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Made in Detroit: Shinola Runwell MD-80 desk clock



Okay, I hadn’t been planning to pimp Shinola product directly just yet, but this was announced today.

If you have done any domestic travel over the years, you’ve got an opinion on the MD-80. The ol’ Mad Dog had a version for each of the major American carriers—I did most of my time on Delta’s MD-88.

From the Shinola website:

“The MD-80 airplane, also known as the Super 80 and Mad Dog, was the workhorse of the American Airlines fleet throughout the 1980’s and beyond. When introduced, the Mad Dog was one of the most fuel-efficient commercial airplanes in the sky due in part to its iconic polished aluminum skin, and its retirement marked the end of an iconic era in American Airlines’ history.

Shinola has been given the honor of capturing a piece of that history. Original MD-80 aluminum paneling has been harvested and repurposed into one-of-a-kind limited edition Shinola Runwell desk clock dials and ID plates.

Assembled in our Detroit watch factory, this desk clock is built with a durable chrome casing and fastened with a caseback plate that displays an individualized serial number.”

I’ll probably buy one. If you spent any time in the seat of the MD, you might want one too. $395 is a steal.

As a reminder, a portion of the proceeds of any Shinola sale using our link goes to fund this website. This is #sponsoredcontent.

How To Burn A (Beta)Brand

Nine years and nine months ago, after a surprise fuel pump failure in Turn Six dropped me out of second place and kept me from getting the authentic Grand-Am podium at Laguna Seca about which I would no doubt still be talking on approximately am hourly basis to this very day, I didn’t go to Disney World: I went to Betabrand. An unassuming door on San Francisco’s Cesar Chavez Street opened after five minutes of knocking to a whirlwind of activity: people running back and forth with patterns, fabrics, random sheets of paper. The floor was covered in scraps of every clothing material one could imagine. I’d expected a retail store but in fact my girlfriend of the time and I had landed in the beating heart of what was then a relatively fledgling operation.

Somehow, after another ten minutes’ worth of conversation with random passers-by, we got assigned a pair of very stereotypical-looking hipsters to help us find some new clothing. The fellow working with me came up with a set of “Japants” in an olive herringbone cloth that I still wear to this day. No two pairs of Japants ever fit alike, because they were cut and sewn individually in another San Francisco warehouse; these were, and are, the best pair I ever got. My girlfriend, who wore an improbable 32FF bra courtesy of modern medical science, wanted to find a “San Francisco dress”. There were no fitting rooms, so she stripped and stood in the middle of the floor while her new companion attempted to tug various seersuckers and florals around her upper body. At one point, while actively molesting her client to at least second base in the course of a fitting, the impromptu salesgirl yelled to me, “I… just… love… her breasts.”

In the years that followed, I wore Betabrand clothes more often that I didn’t. There was the infamous “Golden Disco Hoodie”, a half-dozen “Sons Of Britches” pants in every fabric from plain denim to salmon canvas, the “Sea Monster Cordarounds” I was sporting in 2014 when I managed to fracture nine bones using one simple trick! I adored the company’s inventiveness, their avant-garde designs, and their small-batch efforts. All made in San Francisco. For a while, anyway. In 2014 they used an overseas supplier for shoes, and by the middle of 2018 some new clothing lines were sourced from China. By and large, however, the important stuff was still sewn and stitched in those chaotic Bay Area offices.

Last week I visited the Betabrand website and was shocked (shocked!) to see that the company as I knew it was dead. In its place was a yoga-pants reseller wearing the Betabrand name like, as they say, a skinsuit. How did this happen? Who was the cretin skulking in the shadows, working secretly to destroy one of my favorite clothes companies? What faceless venture capitalist dragged the Betabrand name through the mud?

Duh! It’s 2021. Evil no longer skulks. It brags.

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Made In The USA: Tactile Turn

Anybody else remember being in Catholic school and getting firmly ruler-slapped for fidgeting during class? To this day I have all sorts of odd quasi-autistic habits that I exhibit whenever I’m bored. Moving from a traditional office to a mostly-at-home setup has reduced my fidgeting quite a bit, but I nevertheless continue to expect that part of my life will consist of listening to other people speak and think at (what feels to me like) a Galapagos-esque (Galapagan? Galaxian? Galaga-ish?) pace. I was in a meeting a while ago where it was suggested that we all sit there for 20-some minutes and watch a TED talk. At times like that it would be nice to have a distraction.

The Tactile Turn bolt action pen is made in the United States with what feels like the precision of an 1896 “Swedish Mauser” rifle. There’s no slack in the thing. I got mine in copper, with a Damascus-pattern titanium bolt, because copper is supposed to, uh, kill bad vibes or something.

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Made In The USA: More Stuff, We Hope (With Bonus Cremation Content)

Credit where credit is due: his early actions have torpedoed some American jobs, but as of today Joe Biden is also taking executive action to encourage/force the government to buy American-made goods for contract fulfillment. This is more important than it sounds because government contracts are often long-term, allowing companies to build up capacity that can then be used for civilian sales, avoiding the chicken-and-egg problem that has beset would-be domestic producers.

(How’d the Chinese beat the chicken-and-egg problem in their manufacturing spin-up? By printing money to be used exclusively for business loans with low expectations of repayment.)

President Trump also did a lot to return manufacturing to these shores, of course; let’s hope President Biden continues to emulate his immediate predecessor in this respect rather than continue the Clinton/Bush/Obama policies that often created staggering incentives for offshoring.

Last week, one of my readers at Hagerty expressed a wish that I would get killed in my Neon. He’s not going to get his wish; the rollcage in that car is rated up to and including “failed Snake River jump”. If, however, I manage to die some other way, I’ll definitely want some Ohio pride in my cremation, which brings us to the second half of this post.

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Made In The USA: Steele Canvas (and double bonus content)

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that it took an email from a reader to get me to feature Steele Canvas on this site. My wife has been a customer of theirs for a while now; in addition to a couple of their “laundry trucks”, which are indestructible and not terribly expensive for what you get, we also have a couple of The Current’s Year’s mandatory face diapers from Steele Canvas as well.

If you’re not into laundry trucks, however, I have a few more suggestions for this Christmas season:

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