Longtime readers of this blog may recall that back when it was good I wrote extensively (perhaps too
extensively) about a designer camping supply and artisanal axe-bedazzling concern called "Best Made Co." In fact, my first post on the subject appeared seven years and one day ago, on July 6th, 2010
. It was, characteristically, both insightful and hilarious.
By the way, if you're wondering whether or not I ever heard from Best Made, the answer is...sort of. Evidently someone named Jack forwarded my post to the axe-bedazzler himself, Peter Buchanan-Smith, and in turn forwarded me his reply, which was as follows:Jack! Thanks so much for the link. I'll comment when he shows me his face, tells me his real name, or is willing to test drive my product... then he'll have grown a pair of balls big enough to slap down on the proverbial glass table... Thanks so much for sending the post. Always a pleasure to see Best Made inspiring such critical thinking. All the best, Peter
In my reply to Jack (which I told him he should feel free to forward to Mr. Buchanan-Smith) I pointed out that both my face and name were featured prominently in the mainstream media
, and that I was more than happy to try one of Buchanan-Smith's axes and see if it was worth over two times its usual retail price because he painted the handle.
I never received a reply from either party.
Anyway, let's skip ahead to late June, 2017, when I received an invitation to "An evening with Specialized Bikes, whiskey, and Best Made Co.," described thusly:In addition to celebrating good people and tasting fine whiskey, we’ll be displaying our new adventure/gravel bike, the Diverge. The crew from Yonder Journal is making the trip out from Oregon to talk about their latest documentary, Project Y, which aims to discover the motivations behind gravel racers, and how the popularity of gravel racing events have seemed to explode over the past few years with events like Dirty Kanza and Grinduro. It’ll be a great opportunity to dive headfirst into the experience and hear from the folks who are living it!
I like bikes, I like whiskey, and I think Best Made is freaking hilarious, so you'd better believe I RSVP'ed in the affirmative faster than a ticket-buying bot scoops up the first row of a Taylor Swift concert.
The event was last night, and so it was that on the seventh anniversary of my first Best Made post, I ventured forth into the belly of the beast:
The Best Made store is located on White Street, just off of Church Street in Tribeca, and if you're: a) a longtime New Yorker; and b) depraved, you may recognize this as the erstwhile location of the no-longer-extant Baby Doll Lounge
Best Made doesn't occupy the actual space (it's a "modern, casual restaurant & wine bar with a creative Italian menu featuring pizza, pasta & omelets" now), but it is one door over.
Regardless, when I saw all the hip bikes parked out front I knew I was in the right place:
And so, brimming with furtive excitement like a Baby Doll Lounge patron, I entered The House that Bedazzled Axes Built:
The first thing I noticed was this showcase, featuring an item no New Yorker should be without:
I can only assume this is the American Longbow, which sells for $798
:Like The Best Made Axe, the American Longbow is a timeless instrument fabricated around a hickory core, harvested locally in the USA. Black fiberglass laminates and bubinga risers add power and beauty for an elegant merger that is equally effective on the range as it is on the hunt.
Now I'm no Archery Fred so I'll tread carefully here, but I did enter the phrase "best longbow" into a popular search engine and the sense I get is that this thing is overpriced by about $300.
If any William or Willemina Tells would like to weigh in please do so in the comments below.
Anyway, once I was finished checking out the longbow I ventured forth into the bro-down:
I greeted Derrick from Specialized, who I've known for quite awhile, and thanked him for inviting me. In turn, he presented me with a book someone gave to him to give to me like five years ago or something:
The connection here is that, like Richard Feynman, I too lived in Far Rockaway as a child. However, the similarities end there, because unlike Richard Feynman, who was a world-renowned physicist, I am an idiot. Nevertheless, I was touched by the gesture.
Book in hand, I then graciously accepted a modest pour of some artisanal bourbon:
And continued browsing the store. There was much to admire, such as this thing:
I have no idea what it is, but it costs eighteen hundred and fifty bucks:
There was also this $1,650 box:
This may seem like a lot of money to pay for a box, but keep in mind it performs two (2) vital functions:
1) You can put weed in it;
2) It makes this smaller $600 box seem like a total bargain:
But what good is a box if you don't have any gloves with which to handle it? Don't worry, Best Made has you covered:
These "rough-out" gloves are made in the USA using high-quality medium weight tannery run elkskin, which in addition to its durability, leaves natural imperfections and handsome scars that develop with age.
Sure, you could pay a lot less for Geier gloves elsewhere, but they don't come with the prose:
Best Made also carries plenty of merit badges you can use to reward yourself for your imaginary accomplishments:
Welcome to the uncomfortable place where the outdoorsy bro aesthetic and the white power aesthetic meet:
These will look great on your rucksack or bomber jacket, as applicable.
And of course there were the axes:
The handle says "courage" because after that second small-batch bourbon some Best Made axe owners actually muster up enough of it to take the thing out of its presentation box.
In any case, it was absolutely brilliant of Specialized to hold this event at Best Made. Anywhere else a $9,000 gravel bike
might seem like an extravagance, but in this setting it seemed like a total bargain, and certainly it was the only object in the room I'd actually want to take home with me and use (besides the whiskey, of course):
And while ordinarily I'd be tempted to scoff at stuff like dropper posts:
And sproingy headtubes:
It all seemed positively prosaic in the context of really expensive boxes and $540 sunglasses::
And at least those things are genuinely bedazzled.
Plus, the Diverge even comes with a toolbox, and I'm sure if Best Made sold a bike toolkit it would cost at least as much as this entire bicycle:
It would also be made of wood and filled with straw.
They showed a trailer for the full-length film and answered questions from the crowd:
The project seems genuinely interesting and entertaining and I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'm also pleased to report that during the Q&A I was the first to ask "#whatpressureyourunning."
And so, having accomplished everything I'd set out to do, I hopped back on the subway and cracked open my copy of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" for the ride back to the Bronx:
As for Best Made and Buchanan-Smith, he was right about my not having big balls, because Specialized also organized a demo ride this morning but I skipped it--partly because I was busy, but also partly because it was raining.
Then again, doing big rides in the rain is sort of like having big balls: it seems like something worth bragging about, but it's mostly just uncomfortable, so who the hell needs it?
Anyway, I'm hoping I can convince Specialized to let me borrow one of those Diverges, but I'm not holding out much hope for that axe test.