Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mods! Get ready for the MODtreal Weekender 2014!

Build it and they will come...  Hopefully!

Funky drum roll please...

It's been a dream of mine for a long time to host a Mod Weekender & Scooter Rally in my beautiful city. Well, my Modernist friends, dreams can sometimes turn into reality. Mark your calendar! During Labor Day weekend, from August 29 to September 1st 2014, Montreal will be the centre of the Mod world in North America.

Ever since MODchicago has gracefully pulled the curtain after 10 years, I wanted to fill that void. I'm very proud and honoured to welcome you to the MODtreal Weekender 2014!

On this very blog, I have praised many North American cities like New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas but I have never raved about the beauty of my hometown of Montreal. Ever since the prohibition era, Montreal has had the reputation for having that certain joie de vivre and a nightlife that is second to none. It was called Sin City even before Las Vegas! It was also dubbed the Paris of the North. This is where Al Capone came to hang out and where Frank Sinatra came to perform. I strongly suggest you check this 3 minute documentary from Radio Canada describing the nightlife and jazz scene in the 50s and 60s. You'll get a better understanding why the city is what it is and why we now host, every summer, the biggest Jazz festival in the world.

Click here: Montreal Jazz Scene

It also hosted Expo '67, the World Fair that put Montreal on the map and made it the metropolis it is today. Expo '67 was simply an explosion of MODern design and it happened RIGHT HERE! We even built an island for it! Some of the vestiges of that era will be the focus of the scooter rally.

If the sign says it than it must be true.

Now, let's make it the Mod capital of the world for a weekend. Book your flight now! Do I have some great events lined-up for you. May I suggest that you arrive on August 29 for the Friday night events? Bar de Courcelle, one of the coolest dive bars in town, home of my weekly night, the Mod Club, will welcome an All-Star Canadian line-up of DJs.

The one and only Winnipegger and host of the On Target podcast, Mod Marty has an incredible record collection and will undoubtedly impress many of us with his selection. DJ Gaz, resident DJ of our sister night, Mod Club Ottawa, will show us why he has had the most successful Mod night in Canada for the past 10 years. Some of the Montreal's 60s DJ elite will also have their turn behind the turntables.

Saturday will be a day full of events that you won't want to miss. Montreal's original Face, Eric Boulanger, will take our scooter riders on a sightseing tour accross the city. All are welcomed to join us for our first pit-stop at the coolest spot on the island, the Atomic Cafe for some refreshments and a vintage fair and record swap.

The evening festivities are also sure to please. I'm really excited to have one of the best Mod bands around, crossing the border for their Canadian premier. RAF will undoubtedly bring the house down during our Saturday night main event at Divan Orange. Make sure to grab their newly release EP before they run out. Seeing these guys live alone is worth the price of the airfare.

They will be followed by some of the top DJs on the continent. DJ Karen (Phoenix, Az), DJ TJ (Provindence, Boston), Dan Melendez (LA, Ca) Miss KT (Los Angeles, Ca) and myself, DJ Parka Pat are sure to make you dance until you can't dance no more.

We will close the holiday weekend on Sunday with some local talent. The power trio, Les Envahisseurs, are going to prove to you that Mod is not dead in this city. With an orginal anthem called Je Suis Un Mod (I Am A Mod), need I say more?

Photo by Katia Provencher
The new kids in town, Les Gentlemen, are sure to please with their powerful punch of sixties goodness.

Last but not least, we are honoured to welcome, all the way from Brooklyn New York, Quitty and the Don'ts. Let me just say that this won't be the last you hear from these guys.

Of course, I have many more surprises in store for you. For one, our local vintage scooter shop Scootart has promised as few goodies to be given away during the weekend. All you need to do is "like" the MODtreal Facebook page for all the updates.

I want to sincerly thank Mod Marty for designing our incredible poster, Franck Poireau for coming up with our logo and all our sponsors for suporting us. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to avoid Mod fashion mistakes: 10 principles to live by

Acquiring a fashion sense and developing your personal style doesn't happen over night. Mods are not immune to sartorial faux pas. Like any craft, you learn from your mistakes and over time you can hopefully build a reputation for being someone who knows how to dress well. Humility and being open to new ideas goes a long way in achieving that goal.

Every new school year, I ask my new cohort of 5th graders to describe me in one word based on what they heard about me. It's a little test of my reputation in the school. Year after year, the same words come up: strict, stern, funny and... elegant. I must be doing something right. Many posts on this blog might be the subject of fashion and style but I don't pretend to be an expert on the matter. I might have chosen to be a teacher as a career but when it comes to clothes, I still consider myself a student.

What I can not be faulted on is my passion and my willingness to try new things even if it means falling flat on my Face. Another key ingredient to fashion greatness is to listen to other's opinions and than forge your own idea. I'm guilty of many transgressions over the years and I felt the need to confess my sins. I'm turning the mirror on myself and exposing the ugly truth. Some of these I am not guilty of, they are simple observations I noticed on others and couldn't let pass by.

This is not meant to be a "how-to guide" or the "A to Z of Mod rules". I aim to inspire and not dictate.  I hope this will help in your journey to improve your wardrobe.

1) Dress your age

I have nothing against hipster trousers. They just don't suit me well. They're fine if you're 20 something. The really tight drainpipe trousers can also stay in the closet if you're my age. That doesn't mean I turn my back on a nice pair of tapered trousers.

This is one principle I struggle with from time to time. What can I say, I hang around 12 year old kids all week long. It's hard for me to take the conservative route and tone down my look. When you hit the 4-0 mark, maybe it's time to hang that purple sharkskin suit.

2) Less is more

Mea Culpa. Guilty as charged. Lock me in and throw away the key. I have to admit, I'm all about "attention to detail" but I have come to realize that you don't need to pile on the details. It's not a contest on how many details or features you can fit in one outfit. It's more important to concentrate on the quality of the fabric or a well-made cut than the fact that you have covered buttons.

Over folded pocket squares is a perfect example of how you don't need to over complicate things.   When we see 18 points sticking out of your breast pocket, you might consider toning it down a bit.   If you need an origami class to fold your pocket square, take it from me, you have gone overboard. You should look like you have put thought into your outfit but in a carefree, effortless manner. That  is the essence of cool.

The first one in the top left corner is all you need.

3) The cult of the Parka

Have you ever noticed that although this blog bares the name "Parka Avenue", in more than 175 posts, I haven't done a single one about the infamous American army coat. Don't get me wrong, I own two M-51, a pristine M-65 and a warm and comfortable Lambretta brand M-51 replica. I seldom wear them. They serve their utilitarian purpose on occasion when I take the Vespa or Lambretta out for a spin but if I have a choice between a nice pea coat or a classy crombie, guess which one I'll pick?

If I remember correctly, this was taken at the intersection of Parka Avenue.

4) Jimmy Cooper is not a fashion icon

Although we have tried to mimic him when we were teenagers, it's time to move on. Wearing desert boots with a suit, I have been guilty of and even alluded to it on this very blog (Please keep the tomato throwing to a minimum) but Clarks' should be worn casually.

The Ace Face seems to be the only who got his shoes right even if his trousers are a bit too long for my taste.
Steve McQueen can never do wrong. Wearing a tweed jacket, black turtle neck and desert boots works for me.
Casual perfection from Daniel Craig
Unlike Jimmy, I like to dress for the occasion. I don't remember the last time I wore a suit to a beach fight.

5) The Mod Revival days are over

Can you believe that we used to sew bar towels to our parkas back in the 80s? How about the dreaded white socks? Some of us like to hold on to the past. It's time to turn the page.

My early Mod days

The scooter rally is the place those atrocities are still being committed on a regular basis. I can understand that you don't want to wear an expensive cashmere v-neck to a weekend spend in a tent but surely you can find an alternative to an unwashed bomber jacket full of patches. If you find that acceptable, here's a reality check for you. You are not a Mod. You are a Scooter Boy.

If you're going to a Specials, Madness or Selecter concert, you don't have to wear a piece of clothing that has a 2-Tone checkered pattern all over it.

At a Specials concert in London in 2009

6) Keep the Mod imagery to a minimum

Mod targets, Union Jacks, rally patches, badges, pins by the dozen are not what makes you Mod. When I was a teenager, I had to tell the world I was a Mod. I guess it's all part of growing up and forging your identity. Although I don't shy away from saying that I am one, I don't feel the need to shout it from the rooftops or advertising it all over my clothes.

On the train (the 5:15?) to London for the first time. Notice the small Canadian flag pin on my Fred Perry collar. I blame it on the innocence of youth.
I have to admit, I used to wear an enamel Mod roundel on my suit lapel on occasion. I have since stop doing that. I'll sometimes have a pin or two on my jean jacket but that is usually it.

Enjoying a sun filled day in a cafe somewhere in the French Quarter of New Orleans

7) Invest in quality instead of quantity

The word "invest" might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about clothes but it applies nonetheless. A well fitted bespoke suit will last you a lifetime compared to an off-the-rack mass produced cheap version. Stick with the classics and you can't go wrong. The same goes with shoes.

8) Choose the proper shoe

For the longest time, I would only have Dr. Martens on my feet. Let's face it, the UK-made version are comfortable and can outlast any other brand I know. I still wear them on a regular basis at school. Being surrounded by elementary school kids every day, it's a sensible choice.

One thing I have stopped doing is wear my Dr. Martens boots with a suit. What was I thinking? Might have been acceptable during the Revival but this is the 21st century. I should know better.

9) Don't be a slave to the brand

Remember when Ben Sherman used to make quality shirts and had a wide selection of cool patterns? Now you can buy this for £135 or 225$.

If you think that by wearing a Fred Perry you're a Mod then you are sadly mistaken. I truly love the brand but I'm very selective about what I buy.

10) Don't dress like this guy, buster!

Bad Manners front man Buster Bloodvessel is quite the showman but a style icon he is not. Whenever you are staring at your closet wondering what to wear for a night out on the town, just ask yourself this question: "Would Buster wear this?" If the answer is yes, then put it back in the closet immediately. Simple as that. Come to think about it. Cut the clothes in little pieces and use them as rags to clean the Vespa.

In the end, if there's one thing you need to take away from this post is simply to be true to yourself. I certainly am! I don't always fit in the neat mold that some Mods want to squeeze me in. I don't care. I take chances. I make mistakes. And I love it!