Unofficial Endorsements (aka My Favorite Things)
A note: Below is a repository for products that I have used, and am more-than-willing to back up with all the weight my word and reputation is worth. None of the companies, proprietors, creators, or manufacturers of these fine goods have sanctioned or even acknowledge these endorsements. These are simply just products I use and enjoy. I've compiled them here in hopes that you, dear reader, might enjoy them too. That being said, I am more than willing to entertain any and all offers.
- Gregory JM Kasunich
THREE STARS SAFTEY MATCHES
Ever since man invented, nay, discovered fire... Let me start again. Ever since Prometheus absconded from the summit of Mount Olympus, cradling the pilfered flame destined for mankind.... Hmmm, this is getting quite lofty.
Look: They are matches. Plain and simple. But they are damn good matches. If you need to light something on fire, I can think of no better way to accomplish the task. These little hot heads hail from Jönköping, Sweden, and believe me, the Swedes know what they are doing. A light scrape across, not 1 but 2, strike strips and the match ignites in a satisfying WHOOSH! Are they better than Ohio Blue tips? Who's to say. Are the better than Diamond Brand matches? Hell yes.
ILLIMAT (GAME) 1-4 PLAYERS
Do you like board games? Are you partial to the aesthetics of a séance? Do you listen to the Decemberists? Are you preoccupied with agriculture and the cycle of the seasons?
If you answered yes to one or all of the preceding questions then this game might be for you. If you answered no to all of the above, then this game might also be for you, it's fairly egalitarian that way.
Conceived by the Portland Oregon indie rockers and illustrated by the incomparable Carson Ellis, this game looks amazing and plays well with others (up to 3 others including yourself). To attempt to describe the game play here would be an exercise in redundancy since the game comes with its own instruction manual. Suffice to say, it's fairly quick to learn, and quite fun to play. If you find it as fun as I did, then go on 'n get The Crane Wife Expansion Pack for even more hipster bullshit fun.
BAREBONES SCOUT FLASHLIGHT
I will do my best to restrain myself from making any obscene jokes about "flashing" during this endorsement.
The Barebone Scout Flashlight is a lightweight way to illuminate your path during in ambulatory excursion through forest, field, or abandoned parking lot. It has a rechargeable internal battery which can be juiced up via a USB port, its telescoping lens allows for a wide or narrow beam, and its matte black aluminum retro body will have you fancying yourself a Hardy Boy (or girl) on the case.
And believe me when I tell you this sucker shines. I don't recall the exact lumen count but it is higher than it needs to be for such a small tool. And with the on off switch recessed into the heel of the flashlight, it is unlikely you will accidentally flash any innocent passersby... I almost made it... dang.
MUJI ALUMINIUM SHORT POCKET FOUNTAIN PEN
In my limited experience with pens and swords, I can say that the sword, at least when employed in corporal combat, is mightier. But in terms of writing down ideas that can topple a kingdom or woo a lover, the pen is much, much, mightier indeed.
I could unspool an effusive rhapsody of complementary details extolling the virtues of this pens smooth writing, velvety ink, and light weight balanced grip, but instead I'll just talk about how unbelievably fucking cool this pen looks. While other scribes jot down notes with their plebeian Bics, you'll be the cool and stylish envy of the longhand intelligencia.
Bonus points: the replaceable and recyclable ink cartridge reduces waste. A small kindness to Mother Earth. Now if only we could do something about drinking straws.
BIRD ROCK COFFEE ROASTER AUROMAR CAMILINA GEISHA ROASTED WHOLE BEAN COFFEE
It is nearly impossible to speak about this coffee in unearned superlative or hyperbole. It is the greatest coffee I have ever sipped in my brief existence. I've had single-origin special-supply offerings from roasters the world over, and although they are all excellent in their own ways, this dear comrade in caffeine, transcends them all to a sensual plain oft reserved for gods and heroes.
This Panamanian pleasure must be imbibed to truly know its synesthetic effects. I believe I'd grown new taste buds after my first swallow as I discovered notes and flavored I did not know existed.
Now, I can certainly understand your incredulity at such a description, and at $45 a... tube (?) your guffawing is not only understandable but deserved. Then again, we only get one go-around on this big ball of dirt hurdling through space, so why not give it a try? If nothing else the business of purchasing, brewing, and formulating your own opinion of the brew will stave off the ever present knowledge that we are on a big ball of dirt hurdling through space and that nothing really matters.
SMITH & WESSON 8 INCH DROP POINT BLADE STAINLESS STEEL FOLDING KNIFE
It should be said, that if you were to bring a knife to a gunfight, it might as well be a knife crafted by legendary firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson.
Now - I want to go on the record as someone who not only has never been, nor wants to be, in either a gun, or a knife fight, and in all honesty, I'm not comfortable or qualified to speak to the socio-political nature of guns, or knives, or weapons of any kind.
But what I can say is that this "Every Day Carry" folding knife is a tool worth its weight. The construction is solid. The grip is grippy. The point is pointy. The blade is cutty. It does everything a compact little pocket knife should... and more! This sneaky little bastard also comes equipped with a seatbelt cutter (which I use to trim twine or overly long shoe laces) and a glass break (which I have yet to use for any reason whatsoever, but it is comforting to know that should glass need to be broken, my little knife would be suited to the task). Also comes with a belt clip, which is very clippy.
REI CO-OP FLEXLITE CHAIR
Picture this -
EXT: The peak of a snow kissed Icelandic volcano - Sunrise. Geo vents release plumes of steam as I sit, not on the ground, but on a small, light weight folding chair. My buns as dry and toasty as an amish quilt as I sip coffee from a tin cup.
Fade to -
EXT: A cool and dense forest of redwood giants, the ground a carpet of needles - Evening. I thumb through a novel in the shade of the prehistoric plants. Are my clothes covered in dirt and needles? No! My tuchus is cradled by a compact and durable backpacking chair.
Smash cut to -
EXT: The Joshua Tree desert, the sky a panoply of paint and light - Sunset. I watch the shadow and sun conspire as the desert heat dissipates. Again, my dungarees remain sand and dust free thanks to the REI Flexlite Chair.
Is it a camping necessity? Oh good god no. Does it turn what could have been a less enjoyable moment of natural splendor into the stuff of cinema. You tell me.
CREMO ASHONISHINGLY SUPERIOR ORIGINAL CONCENTRATED SHAVE CREAM
As a gentleman who has worn a beard for the last decade or so, you might be wonder how my opinion on shaving cream can be trusted. Well, it can't. I'm sure there are smooth-skinned baby faced men-about-town who could really tell you what's what when it comes to matters of facial hair removal.
With caveats issued and grains of salt dispensed, allow me to say this: the little shaving I do do is done with Cremo. Sure, I've used Barbasols, I've used Gillettes, I've used independently crafted artisan creams that smell of Sandalwood and teak. I've used overpriced Maca Root offerings, and all in all, Cremo is just the best.
The brand claims to be astonishingly superior. It is! Nary and nick nor a cut nor razor burn of any sort was produced during my use of the product. The original scent is inoffensive (and even some might find it a bit pleasing). Again I am ignorant of so much in this world, and here, to those who shave the entirety of their faces rather than just a small portion like myself, my ignorance must be evident, but hopefully so is my passion for this fantastically smooth and enjoyable shave cream.
BLUE STAR RASPBERRY ROSEMARY BUTTERMILK DONUT
To the delight, or chagrin, of my dentists, I have never been afflicted with a sweet tooth. I am also not one who particularly enjoys donuts all that much, finding them a source of disappointment and dashed expectations.
So just imagine how surprised I was after I took a flyer on one of Blue Star's staple offerings. The dense, chewy, buttermilk body of this morning pastry is a masterclass in dough density. The crust provides just enough crispy resistance against your teeth before it gives way to a down-pillow mouthful of sweet and savory goodness. The raspberry plays a pop-song refrain as the subtle, but very much there, rosemary infuses the track with 7/8 folksy time signature adds just enough complexity without becoming pretentious.
The whole thing is wrapped up in a sweet welterweight glaze, heavy enough to punch, but light enough not to be cloying. Balanced and beautiful, this donut is a tune I've set on repeat.
SONG EXPLODER PODCAST
As a young boy I often tested the patience and understanding of my parents as I compulsively disassembled all forms of household electronics in search of what made them tick. Tearing down a printer to its screws, or a router to its circuit board, or a television set to its tubes, was a quest to better understand these things that seemed to operate on pure magic. And I can think of nothing more magical than music.
Hrishikesh Hirway hosts this delightful and didactic podcast where he, in conversation with the artists, breaks songs down to their studs in order to elucidate the audience on the machinations of the muse. Each episode is different - some artists talk more about production, others about inspiration; some about process, and others about frustration.
Not only have I discovered new artists through the show, but have come to love, understand, and respect the magical and mysterious process of song craft in a deeper and more fulfilling way. Headphones recommended.
THE NIX BY NATHAN HILL
What can I say about this novel that has not already been said by writers and critics far more eloquent and insightful than me? Nothing I suppose, but should that stop me from writing an endorsement about this beautiful masterpiece of Americana? Probably. Am I still going to share my thoughts... I think you already know the answer.
This book rattles, thumps, bops, and zings with one part Franzen, one part Dylan, a few dashes of Chabon, and a soupçon of Vonnegut. The book is so fun, funny, sad, dark, and brilliant that the knowledge that this is Mr. Hills DEBUT novel, either invigorates future novelists with fire and inspiration, or reduces them to despair.
I wont sum up the plot or attempt and academic analysis of the novel - but I will say that it is probably the best book I've read in the last 10 years. But you also don't know what I've read in the last 10 years, so you know, I could be full of shit. The only way to find out is to pick the book up for yourself.
MARVIS JASMINE MINT TOOTHPASTE
The following endorsement for this product will be rendered as a poem, because it is the most fitting way to communicate my feeling about this dental hygiene paste.
What is this Divine and Unfolding
upon my pallet?
Hath Persephone conjured this discrete and gentle interplay?
The sweet floral vine of Jasmine
dances with a mélange of Mint
And gone from my mouth, any fleck of food.
Banished any odor or semblance of sourness.
Only Joy remains, lacing my words with
a perfume gentle and bright.
Marvis - a minor god of the apothecary
Hear my song of freshness
So - that's all just to say it's pretty good. Give it a try.
CHEMEX COFFEE BREWING VESSEL
For those who know me personally, it might be said that I like coffee. Through the seasons of this love affair I have prepared coffee in almost every conceivable fashion. Automatic drip, french press, syphon, V60 pour over, stove top espresso, Turkish, Indian, Italian, instant, Aeropress, cold brew, and so many others.
So when my peers ask me, "what is the best way to prepare good 'ol cup of regular Joe?" I grip them by their lapels and pull them close screaming CHEMEX! CHEMEX! CHEMEX! And although those friends and acquaintances recoil in horror, I know they got the message loud and clear.
Now see here, this is a matter of subjective preference. You might like popping k-cups into your moldy old Kurig until the cows come home, and brother (or sister) that's just fine with me. But if you ever want a clean mouth-feel a syrupy body cup of mud- then give the CHEMEX a go and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Heck, maybe the next time someone asks you the best way to make coffee, you'll be one one receiving your very own retraining order after emphatically shouting your endorsement directly into their unsuspecting face. Just maybe...
AESOP REVERRENCE AROMATIQUE HAND SOAP
This soap is too expensive. No one should purchase this product for the price point at which it is currently being offered. A 16.9 oz bottle of this stuff costs $39.99 (USD). What the fuck? Does it do anything other than clean your hands? No.
Yeah, ok, it smells really, really good. It smells the way I imagine George Cloony's personal library probably smells. Does it lightly exfoliate with tiny pieces of pumice leaving your skin as silky smooth as a 90's R&B ballad? Sure does. Does that justify the price tag? Heavens to Betsy, no, it does not.
My recommendation would be to find some boutique shop that sells crystals or a restaurant that serves something "sprouted". Chances are they might have a bottle of this stuff in the bathroom and you can pump a few heaping globs onto your mitts and go to town without washing your hard earned cash down the sink.
I have removed the BUY HERE button for this endorsement because I can't be even partially responsible for increasing the demand of this product at its current price.
DUKE CANON EMERGENCY HEAT + LIGHT TOBACCO & LEATHER SCENTED CANDLE
It's late at night, the power has gone out. A cold wind blows through the post-war bungalow that you share with two roommates you once called your best friends, but in the intervening 3 years and 2 months have come to hate. Maybe it's because they are a mirror reflecting back all of your shortcomings, bad habits, and failures. Maybe it's because of the dishes. But that's not important right now. Right now you need light. You need heat. You need something that smells like the warm embrace of your distant and disapproving father. You stumble through the dark and grope underneath the sink (still full of dishes from yesterday). Your hand closes around a small metal can. You hold it up to the moonlight. It's that candle your roommates bought for you last December after that really bad audition. Prying off the top, you inhale the sent and your taken on a nostalgic head-trip. You ignite the wick (with your box of Three Stars Matches) and as the warmth and smell and heat wash over you think, eh, my roommates... they're not so bad.
ORBIT PLUS TURNTABLE IN WHITE
I won't do it. I will not get drawn into a debate about the merits of vinyl vs any other music format. I simply will not. If you want to listen to music on a TalkBoy, be my guest.
I also can't defend this product against anything else. I'm sure there are better turntables out there. More attractive looking turntables, richer and more accomplished turntables. Turntables with good pedigrees and Ivy League degrees. Turntables with a real future in front of them. Turntables with grit and determination and a great sense of humor and a winning smile... I digress. Where was I?
This turntable is simple, smart, sleek, and sexy. It's a drive belt, a platter, a tone arm, and a decent cartridge. It will play the crap out of your records and look good doing it, all understated like. It's affordable, made in the Boston and doesn't need your validation.
This was all about the turntable. Nothing else. Just the turntable.
PHILIPS WAKE UP LIGHT ALARM CLOCK WITH WITH COLORED SUNRISE SIMULATION
You're on a mountain, except it's not, like, really a mountain, it's sort of, like, underwater and your cousin is there but he's dressed like that one guy from that show... WAH! WAH! WAH! WAH!
It was all a dream, and now, because you use your phone or some other device besides the Philips Wake Up Light, you have been whipped into revery from your sweet slumber throwing your circadian rhythm into an unnatural cycle. This could all have been avoided.
Listen: I know we can't all live our lives by the law of nature. It's unrealistic to walk barefoot in the dewy grass or sleep under the stars, but this light is the closest we're going to get. It lulls you to sleep by simulating a (tiny) sunset right next to your head, sending you off to dreamland in a marshmallow taxi. It wakes you up with a gentle simulated sunrise, slowly getting brighter as your dreams dissolve away like cotton candy in a cool Swiss creek.
Also comes with poorly simulated nature sounds. It seems man has yet to perfect the art of birdsong.
NIKE SB ZOOM BLAZER MID-TOP IN UNIVERSITY RED
These impractical beauties are the Mazda Miata of shoes. They are classic, cool, and simple. They are not the coolest shoes are the market, but they look pretty great for the price tag. They are a little annoying to get on and off, as you have the loosen the first few strata of laces before you can slip your foot out. They are not the most comfortable ride, a little stiff and narrow, but they do catch some eyes.
Maybe one day you'll settle down, start a family, get a nice stable job, but you'll hang on to these shoes. They will be sitting there in the back of the closet reminding you of a time when you had the time and patience to work the laces, or you didn't mind the discomfort. A younger you, maybe a little foolish, maybe a little impulsive. Then, one day your kids will be off to university, your wife is out of town on a work retreat. You're cleaning out the closet and you find these shoes. You slip them on and think, "yeah, hello old friend, let's go for a ride."