Philadelphia/San Francisco Day 4

Day 4 T-Shirt of Choice: Love Your Fellow As Yourself by schmoo

Unlike yesterday, Day 4 started off with a nice chunk of sunshine. That was a relief. We were able to do a few of the things that we missed out on yesterday when it was pouring cats and dogs. The day started by walking to City Hall, which is located just a few blocks from the Loews Hotel. We signed up for the tower tour and went to the top of the City Hall clock tower, just below the large William Penn statue that overlooks the City of Philadelphia.

LOVE Sculpture Philadelphi

After taking a few pics from the top of City Hall, we walked over to Love Park, where Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture stands. We took a gazillion photos and then moved on to the Comcast Center. The Comcast Center has a neat (and very huge) HD video wall, with short videos playing throughout the day. Below the lobby you’ll find a small market. We made a pit stop there, where I picked up a drink and a small croissant. The croissant served as a warmup to our Pat’s and Geno’s pilgrimage.

Geno's Steaks

Pat's

(Top: Genos is all glitz and glamour but lacking in the taste department. Bottom: Pat’s, good but not as good as Jim’s Steaks)

My frist experience with a Philly Cheesesteak came to me at Jim’s Steaks. After that first cheesesteak, my mind was blown and I was ready to experience the much hyped Pat’s and Geno’s variety. We caught a taxi from the Loews Hotel to the Cheesesteak mecca of the world. For the uninitiated, Pat’s and Geno’s are located right across of each other and are considered rival cheesesteak stands. So of course, we had to experience both Pat’s and Geno’s. Pat’s was alright, and Geno’s felt a bit too generic (though, their fries were good). My conclusion, Jim’s Steaks dominates both Pat’s and Geno’s. If you want a Philly Cheesesteak, then know this: Jim’s Steaks is the center of the universe.

Despite the disappointing Pat’s and Geno’s experience, dinner more than made up for it! In our attempt to hit up the restaurants of all of the Iron Chefs, we just had to experience the newest Iron Chef Jose Garcia’s restaurant, Amada. Garcia’s Amada specializes in authentic Spanish Tapas. We settled on three different dishes, the LECHÓN CON QUESO (Braised Pork Shoulder, La Peral, Pine Nut, Apple & Fennel), ENTRECÔTE A LA CATALAN (Prime Sirloin with Catalán Spinach, Membrillo & Goat Cheese), and the ARROZ DE LANGOSTA (Lobster Bomba Rice with Clams, Lemon Zest & Golden Pea Shoots). The dishes were nicely proportioned, and, more importantly, tasted oh so good.

Amada

We decided to pass on dessert at Amada and opted instead to get some ice cream at the famed Franklin Fountain. This old school ice cream fountain is like a time warp, as evidenced by the decor and the staff who were dressed as if it was the 1920’s. You might recall that Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food had the Mt. Visuvious here. I decided on the Franklin Mint and Michelle had the Banana Split For My Baby. Both were very indulgent choices. We honestly should have shared one, but, I was intent on mint ice cream. Needless to say, we tried as hard as we could, but in the end, neither of us ate more than half of our ice cream dishes.

Franklin Fountain

And as I’ve been doing, here’s a video slideshow of some of the photos that we took during this lovely day in Philly!

Indie Tee Spotlight #27: Kafkacotton

It’s been a while since the last Indie Tee Spotlight, hasn’t it! If my memory serves me correctly, it’s been almost 9 months since our last Spotlight interview with Hugo Murray of i/denti/tee. In the latest Spotlight I feature the very intriguing Brian Crabtree of Kafkacotton, a new brand that Brian dreamed up after rereading (and re-loving) Joseph Heller’s classic, Catch-22. I had the great opportunity to do a little catching-up with Brian, and he graciously allowed me to ask him a few question about his startup brand and his unique take on marketing it across America.

Kafkacotton

Coty: I’m guessing that Franz Kafka had something to do with you starting your unique line of T-Shirts. What inspired you to start Kafkacotton?

Brian: I definitely took our name from the author Franz Kafka. He writes these nightmarish stories which remind me of stark blacks and whites, long shadows, ominous alleyways – cool connotations for a t-shirt label.

I started Kafkacotton because I think reading is fundamentally flawed. We used to gather around somebody with a good story and listen socially as a group. With books, we read our stories alone so I don’t know what books you like and you don’t know what books I like. These are connections waiting to happen that just don’t. Kafkacotton makes those connections in a hip, fashionable way. Instead of putting that book back on the shelf, why not slap it on your chest and talk about it?

I also want to help give everyone the chance to read. We do that by donating 5% of our profits towards fight illiteracy. You really have to hustle to promote a t-shirt company and knowing it’s all for a good cause keeps me motivated.

Kafkacotton - On the Road

Coty: You started a very unique campaign that someone named “Gregor”, a life-size cockroach costume and the 48 contiguous states. Tell us about that.

Brian: Gregor the roach! Yes, he’s 6-feet tall, illiterate, German, and on a 48-states-in-48-weeks road trip. He’s visiting one college campus a week to raise literacy awareness, give away tees, and shoot hilarious videos which we post to our blog. We started in Florida in early February and, five states later, we’re in South Carolina heading northwestish. We’re just getting started but Gregor has already been featured on CNN Radio, ABC News, and CBS News.

Why the cockroach? “Gregor” is the main character in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis where a guy wakes up one morning and finds he’s inexplicably been turned into a giant insect. I had read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and realized the most important thing was to not be boring. That’s key. You need to get people’s attention first so you can share your message second. Even if your message is positive and charitable, you need to get your foot in door or no one will ever hear it.

Kafkacotton - Gregor Wide

Coty: What’s the typical response you get when people first spot Gregor in the cockroach costume? What has been the most interesting encounter that you’ve experienced during your cockroach tour?

Brian: There are three basic responses: 10% are ecstatic and run up to give him a hug, the middle 80% smile and laugh, and the other 10% steer clear, watch him out of the corner of their eyes, and pray to god he doesn’t try to talk to them. The last ones are the most fun.

The most interesting experience would definitely have to be while trying to hitchhike in small-town Alabama for a video related to our new “On the Road” t-shirt. All went well until the police showed up …

Kafkacotton - Catch-22

Coty: You use Etsy for your storefront. What made you decide to go that route? Why not have a custom store integrate with Kafkacotton.com?

Brian: Good question. For a t-shirt company just starting out, Etsy is a great platform. Here are the major pros and cons to think about:

Pros

  1. Filled with people looking for new, interesting designs.
  2. The $0.20 fee per item is reasonable.
  3. Very easy to set up.

Cons

  1. Less control over your image.
  2. Customers need to register with Etsy to make a purchase (that’s a big one).
  3. Some customers will forget to list their size in the “Message to Seller” box while checking out. This wastes everyone’s time.
  4. Need to constantly relist items to remain at the top of Etsy’s search results.
  5. Your Google juice gets spread out among several relisted items instead of concentrated on one, permanent item listing.
  6. Can’t set up Adwords goals (which basically means you can’t use Adwords).
  7. Can’t rotate and test sales copy.

I’m glad we started with Etsy but, in my opinion, we have outgrown the site and we will actually be moving to our own cart system and revamping Kafkacotton.com in the next month. I’m really excited about the possibilities! [Coty: This is good to hear, growth is good!]

Just to be clear, even if you’re on Etsy, I definitely reccomend setting up a slick, professional website as well. A blog is critical and you need your own domain for that. Also, certain sites and people will not pay attention to an email sent from “@gmail.com”.

Kafkacotton - Moby Dick

Coty: Out of Print Clothing has a line that, conceptually, is quite similar to Kafkacotton. Both brands bring classic books to the T-Shirt. How would you say Kafkacotton differs from what Out of Print Clothing is doing?

Brian: There’s even a third literary-tee company called, Novel-T! We all started in the last six months which I think is pretty hilarious but also shows there’s a real need here.

Kafkacotton is the only label creating new, original graphic designs inspired by the classics. That’s where I want to be. My passion is being able to take a book that may be 150 years old like Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and create a design that resonates with people in a new way. In that particular book’s case, I worked with Reilly Stroope who did an absolutely phenomenal job.

I’m also all about community. When I want to start on a new book, the community votes and picks it. Before I print the shirt, I post two or three completely different designs and the community votes on their favorite. For instance, I’m working on two 1984 designs right now that will go on the chopping block next week. Sometimes my favorite design gets cut but community is all about trust and you can’t fake that.

I haven’t talked about this too much yet but I’ll also be accepting design submissions in the future. Stay tuned for that!

Kafkacotton - Through the Looking Glass

Coty: And finally, what kind of books do you enjoy reading and what is your de facto favorite book of all time?

Brian: I agree with Thoreau that we should, “read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” I mostly stick to classic literary fiction and love a good, memorable character. My absolute favorite book is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22:

“Justice?” The Colonel was astounded. “What is justice?”

“Justice, sir –”

“That’s not what justice is,” the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. “That’s what Karl Marx is. I’ll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.”

Thanks to Brian Crabtree, or should I say Gregor, for taking the time out from his busy road trip across America to chat! Now, you guys go and buy some tees from Kafkacotton!

Re-writable I Love NY

I usually try and keep pen tips away from my shirts as much as possible to prevent ugly pen streak marks. But this shirt from Markertees are all about bringing the pen tip to the cotton. So your t-shirts can transform into whatever mood you’re feeling for any particular day. A marker is included with every shirt and the drawing disappears after every wash. Pick up a Markertee now for $28.90.

Re-writable I Love NY

Seattle/Portland Trip Day 5 + 6

And my Seattle/Portland daily recaps continue!

Day 5 T-Shirt of Choice: Make Me A Sandwich by Seibei and Bombs Away by Dale Edwin Murray (Tilteed)

This marked the start of our road trip to neighboring state, Oregon. We began the morning by having breakfast at a little cafe en route to Tacoma, were would switch off with our friends cousin whose car we were borrowing for the trip to Portland. The Shipwreck Cafe is this small stop off of Martin Way in Olympia, Washington. I got the breakfast special, which consisted of chickenfried steak, eggs, hashbrowns and toast. It was better than I expected! Tons of gravy lathered over the chicken steak. Don’t pay attention to the calories because the gravy really makes this dish special.

Oregon

After breakfast we headed straight for our first stop in Portland, the Full Sail Brewery, which is right next to Hood River. Full Sail Brewery is known for their award winning Session brew. The brewery tour lasted about 30 minutes and was quite interesting and informative. They walk you through the entire beer making process and even let you taste the ingrediants that go into brewing beer. At the end of the tour you score a free Full Sail glass!

Full Sail Brewery

The food at Full Sail Brewery was OK but the beer was exceptional. I especially loved the Full Sail Session Lager, that is definitely my type of beer and well worth the 2.5 hour drive from Tacoma. We ended up buying a case to bring back to the hotel.

After Full Sail we headed to Portland to check into our hotel, the third Marriot stop of our Seattle/Portland journey. We got lost. But that was a good thing because we ended up at a Traders Joe’s and bought tons of snacks! I wish Hawaii had a Trader Joe’s.

Lo and behold our hotel was only 5 minutes away from Trader Joes. We made it to our hotel, quickly unpacked and headed out to yet another beer destination – Rogue Distillery & Public House, to meet up with Travis Greenwood of Found Item Clothing and Patrick Treadway of Tilteed! We had a great time chatting about tees, Portland life, tees, and tees! It was great meeting up with those two excellent dudes. And my friends were happy because they scored some free tees from Patrick and one of you lucky readers will score a free tee(s) from Travis (I need to first figure out how to give them away)!

Travis Greenwood of Found Item Clothing

That’s Travis Greenwood from Found Item Clothing. Amazing guy who knows a ton about shirts and has crazy ideas! Follow him on Twitter @founditemclothing.

Parick Treadway of Tilteed.com

Hey, it’s Patrick from Tilteed.com! He markets, prints, and ships out all Tilteed orders by himself! Talk about dedication and being passionate about what you do! Follow Tilteed on Twitter @Tilteed. Use the code “TiltCoty” for an additional $2 off your Tilteed order!

After Rogue, Patrick was kind enough to drive us to VooDoo Doughnuts to get a taste of the weirdness that is Portland! VooDoo Doughnoughts was great experiece filled with an eclectic set of people! I’ve never quite experienced anything like VooDoo Doughnuts. It was a trip to say the least. And Patrick was right, VooDoo Doughnuts is best experienced at night because when we stopped by the following morning, the crowd was a bore compared to the night munchers.

VooDoo Doughnuts

Yes, that’s bacon on top of maple syrup drenched doughnut. Only at VooDoo Doughnuts!

Day 6 T-Shirt of Choice: Make Wellness Not War by I Am Wellness

Portland here we come! The morning was spent exploring the Pearl District of Portland. Our first stop was the famous Powell’s Books on Burnside. To say that this bookstore is huge is a big understatement. It’s ginormous. It’s probably larger than most public libraries you’ve been to. The store is split up into 8 different sections based on genre and occupies three full floors. You could spend countless hours exploring Powell’s, unfortunately our time was limited so our visit was brief (I still left with two new books).

Keep Portland Weird

As I was walking through Portland someone walked right pass me and said “I Love Your Shirt”. You can get it from I Am Wellness. Use the code “SUMMER09″ for 15% off (hopefully the code still works).

By the time we were through with Powell’s we headed out to lunch at Old Town Pizza which is an iconic Portland eatery with a haunted reputation. “Don’t be surprised if an unexpected guest joins you for a slice today. A constant presence at Old Town Pizza is Nina (pronounced “Nigh-na”), our resident ghost. If you feel a presence behind you, or smell a faint waft of perfume, you may have just received a visit. Nina is often seen in a black dress observing diners and wandering the basement below.” We settled on the House Pizza topped with salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, black olives and bell peppers. The pizza was good but unfortunately there was no sighting of Nina, the resident ghost. I will say, though, that the restroom was freaky as hell. It is very dimly lit in there and I had a weird feeling (while I was peeing no less) that someone was watching me. Freaky!

Ground Kontrol is a neat little vintage arcade that Travis of Found Item Clothing suggested we hit up and I’m glad that we did! We spent about an hour in there playing some very old school arcade games like Centipede, Punch-Out, Simpsons and Space Invaders. This is not your typical arcade because at Ground Kontrol there is a fully functional bar. Awesome.

Ground Kontrol

I’m a huge fan of Punch-Out so I was stoked to find this classic arcade game at Ground Kontrol!

After Ground Kontrol my buddies decided to grab a box of VooDoo doughnuts for the drive back home. While they stood in line (in the hot sun no less and yet another reason to go during the night time) I ventured down the street and stumbled across a neat little coffee/art shop called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. It had a a nice open space as opposed to the typical cramped coffee shop. I had the Queens Iced Tea and it was the cool refreshment that I needed! While the guys stood in that line for VooDoo doughnuts I sipped on my iced tea in air conditioning!

Good bye Portland, I knew you for just a day but I had a great time! Now en route to Tacoma (to return the car), we decided to stop by the Outlet Mall near Chehalis and in Centralia, Washington. The outlet stores of importance included Quicksilver, Billabong, and Nike. We hit those three shops up pretty hard.

From there we caught a shuttle to the 4th and final hotel of our stay – the Marriott Seattle Waterfront, which is just a few steps from Pike’s Place. We didn’t stay in the hotel for long as we decided grab some Clam Chowder from the original Ivar’s Seafood, right on the Seattle Waterfront. When you go to Ivar’s there just one thing you need to get – The Clam Chowder! We ordered one of each of the three different varieties: white, red and salmon. I urge you to do the same.

Ivar's

They encourage you to feed the Seagulls.

Ivar's

Small cup of Salmon Clam Chowder from Iver’s before heading to Del Rays for even more food and drinks!

Next we hit up Del-Rey’s for appetizers and drinks (or should I say beers and margaritas) and then finished the night off by closing down the bar at, appropriately, Ohana’s in Belltown, a Hawaiian themed bar. This was the third night that we stayed at a bar till closing (2am in Seattle).

But the night did not end there. We ventured off into the alley ways of the Seattle Waterfront and eventually ending up at Pier 67. The streets were empty and all that was left were four guys from Hawaii, laughing, talking and enjoying the camaraderie that you get from being with your closest friends.

Ohana Bar

Strangely enough, we ended our last together at Ohana’s in Belltown.

Go Love Your Own City

I definitely have to pick up this tee for my sister because she absolutely insists on collecting as many “I Heart X” tees as cities I can visit. Her collection is growing at a rapid pace so much so that maybe a quarter of her closet is filled with this tourist staple. The Go Heart Your Own City tee was made for her! It’s printed on a 100% cotton tee and is an exclusive re-release by Reason Clothing. These are extremely limited and are numbered 1 to 48. The cost? Definitely not the standard tourist street price. A I Heart NY tee will set you back 5 bucks, this limited print will cost you $36. 

Go Love Your Own City by Reason Clothing

Catstronaughts

This shirt by MasterControl excels on so many different levels! Cats have been getting an extraordinary amount of attention as of late, especially with the popularity of sites such as ICanHasCheezBurger. I’ve mentioned on the site before that I am not the biggest cat fan, but, this shirt is kickass because of the cats! Interestingly enough, MasterControl mentioned that this was originally submitted to Threadless but did not earn a print. I’m glad that this got a second chance at Design By Humans. You can pick it up from DBH for $25. 

Catstronaughts

The Standard: Not Your Ordinary Tourist Tee

These aren’t your ordinary tourist tees! Artists Jose Parla, Natas Kaupas and Eric Haze have collaborated to produce a unique set of “tourist” tees for each of the three cities represented by The Standard. The collection, known simply as The Tourist Tee was produced in NYC in collaboration with Tony Arcabascio. For those of you unfamiliar with The Standard, they are a chic and trendy hotel chain found in Miami, Los Angeles and New York. 

The Standard did an excellent job at selecting the artist for each of the three regions. Citing that lettering often reflect the individual person and the region from which they are from. Haze represents NYC, Parla represents Miami and Kaupas represents the west coast’s Los Angeles. All three are renown street artists. 

Each of the tees come in a reusable pouch with the name of the artists printed on the front. Unlike standard tourist tees, these will set you back some with each tee costing a whopping $55.00. You can purchase one now at Shop The Standard. 

Los Angeles

Miami

[Read more…]

Threadless Loves Travel – Bird Migration

I am not sure how this one slipped me by but Threadless announced their Threadless Loves Travel winner earlier this week and to no surprise the winner was Alex Solis and his Bird Migration entry. 

Alex won a huge prize pack courtesy of Threadless, which included a round trip for two to Iceland and $2000 cash and much more! What’s even cooler is that the band Calexico wrote a song inspired by the Bird Migration entry – titled Absent Afternoon. You can download the track for free here!

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Here’s what Alex said about what inspired his entry:

“A little story behind the design, I was on my way to Bulgaria for a competition, and I was stuck on the plane for 18 hours, I had an idea for a while, about migration and the process, and thought it fit perfect with the TRAVEL theme, and what better place to draw it then on the plane while traveling, I was a bit sad I was going to be away from my daughter, and that build to the design, me wishing I could take everything with me every time I travel far.” -Alex Solis

Bird Migration

Bird Migration

Hawaii Superferry

And so the Maui journey begins by catching the Hawaii Superferry. We’re about 20 minutes into the 3 hour journey and so far no “Aloha Spills”, apparently Aloha Spill is Superferry talk for barf. OK scratch that, a kid a few feet ahead of me is being led to the barf zone with a barf bag. Might this be the Aloha Spill I have been waiting for!

Boarding the ferry was quick and simple. No line and all we needed were our boarding passes and ID’s. They should just skip having us print out the boarding pass and just cross check our ID’s with their computers. It would be much greener that way.

We chose not to bring our car which ment that we paid just 49 bucks each way. Not bad considering a flight would have cost about 20 dollars more.

One mistake we did make though was assuming that coolers were not allowed. They are allowed. And so now were are stuck with a warm 12 pack. Our bad.

The fascilities are clean and the staff is quite nice and friendly. And they have an abundance of flat screen tv’s throughout the cabins playing Sportscenter. Awesome!

Update:
OK, we are two hours into the Superferry ride. I fell asleep for about an hour. I’m gonna head to the outer deck to see what the view is like.

The outer deck on the Alakai is quite nice. The sides of the ships are a bit windy and the rear of the ship will you get you wet. If you do ride the Superferry I would suggest stepping outside once a while. First of all, it’s not as cold as the ferry interior and secondly it is a calming experience, at least for me it was. If you step out just after the ferry departs Honolulu you’ll get to see a nice view of Honolulu Harbor and Diamond Head.

The restrooms are small with just one toilet and one urinal. I could imagine lines during peak peeing periods like just after departure.

The concession stand was stocked with lots of goodies like sandwiches, musubi’s and saimin. You also get a good selection of pastries to choose from. Beware though, prices on the Superferry are at a premium. $2.50 for a musubi. Ouch!

For those who fear getting sea sick, the Superferry offers free Ginger pills and Dramamine for purchase. I didn’t have an issue with the too and fro motion but others did. If unsure as to whether or not you’ll get sick, take the pills.

All in all the journey aboard the Superferry was a pleasant one. The downside for me was the speed of the journey, or should I say the lack of. Other than that, I’d definitely recommend it as a means traveling to and from the islands.

photo

photo

Off to Maui Wowwie

Off to Maui, Wowwie Wowwie
Taking the Superferry, will it be merry?
Afraid I’ll barf,
If I do I’ll turn to Mark.  

Only going to be there for two nights,
Enough time to see the sights.
Road to Hana, Ryan’s going to drive.
Twists, dips and turns,
I hope we all survive. 

Mark wants to see the top of Haleakala,
He hasn’t seen silver swords, halaka!
At five miles per hour,
he said he’ll drive.
Afraid that he’ll see an apparition by his side.

The aquarium, the aquarium,
That’s what Joel wants to see.
Turtles and sharks swimming with glee,
Maybe we’ll see one of them pee.

So off I go to pack my bag.
Surf shorts, sun screen and maybe a hat.
And let’s not forget a bag full of snacks.