It's Kurt Vonnegut meets The Hangover; John Steinbeck meets Milk. Check out our weekly posts from Slaughterhouse 90210 for highbrow insights that may just make some sense of some of our guiltiest pleasures. "But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress...a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all." — Charles Bukowski, Post Office Photograph courtesy of Jake Weird

The Classic: The Stanley Thermos

Courtesy of Stanley Invented in 1913, the Stanley thermos, which evokes an era when women sent their men to work with soup and a sandwich, is one of those often-overlooked design treasures. But the green steel bottle that American fighter pilots carried during World War II is as stylish as ever. Yes, it's great for carrying coffee, but since it can keep liquids cold as well as hot it's just as useful for transporting margaritas. ($32, Monica Khemsurov READ MORE: Portable summer gadgets Where to find the best punch see more
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Prada ($795), 888-972-1900. Photograph by Brad Bridgers. You've owned messenger bags, modified briefcases, and, more recently, maybe a tote, but deep down you still have a soft spot for your very first book bag (the one with the Voltron decals). Functionally, the backpack is the ideal conveyance. It frees up your hands and distributes weight evenly, allowing you to comfortably carry twice as much as a comparable one-strapper. The problem was that this miracle sack was fit mostly for nerds and the kind of people who eat gorp. Now there are options designed for men. Courtney Colavita Material: Choose see more
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Photograph by Brad Bridgers. Click to enlarge What happens when a stodgy, almost-forgotten brand gets together with a couple of emerging avant-garde designers? In the case of Florsheim and Duckie Brown, near perfection. For their first collaboration with the Milwaukee-based footwear giant, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, the men behind Duckie, turned what was best known as a ho-hum line of mall staples into a covetable collection of upscale saddle shoes, brogues, and plain-toe lace-ups. When you're visiting your grandfather in Boca, tell him you're wearing Florsheim. When you're at a party with friends, they're Duckie Brown. Courtney Colavita see more

60 Seconds With Bear Grylls

Photograph courtesy of Casey Rodgers/AP Got a minute? Man vs. Wild star Bear Grylls on surviving city streets, why he likes Brad Paisley, and playing duets with Andrew Lloyd Weber. Q: You just finished filming some urban survival classes for Dos Equis' Web-based video series Most Interesting Academy. How is surviving in the city different from surviving in the wilderness? A: It's all the same principle. Survival is all about heart and never giving up and thinking outside the box and coming up with new ways—clever ways—to improvise. I filmed five of these webisodes for Dos Equis on everything see more


Every Thing Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. [Viking, $26] In Ron Currie Jr.'s second—soon to be cultish—novel, the protagonist learns as a wee fetus that a meteor will destroy Earth when he's 36, info that alters his approach to life (and those of doomed characters like the mother who drinks vodka from Big Gulp cups). To the 34-year-old author's credit, the hook never feels gimmicky, even at the choose-your-own-adventure-inspired climax. Timothy Hodler READ MORE: Nick Reding traces the rise of crank Tom Folson's portrait of Crazy Joe Gallo and his gangster brothers see more


Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Random House, $25) The Irish-American author pulls a DeLillo on Phillipe Petit in this social epic. Using the Frenchman's famous 1974 Twin Towers tightrope walk as the axis around which the story revolves, he paints a picture of malaise-era New York and the diverse cast of junkies, socialites, artists, and priests that inhabited it—and creates a sweeping potboiler. Timothy Hodler READ MORE: China Miéville's most audacious premise yet Work books for the cynic see more


It's Kurt Vonnegut meets The Hangover; John Steinbeck meets Milk. Check out our weekly posts from Slaughterhouse 90210 for highbrow insights that may just make some sense of some of our guiltiest pleasures. "Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love." —Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey Photograph courtesy of


Tortoise, Beacons of Ancestorship [Thrill Jockey] Our rating: 3 out of a possible 5 For their first record in five years, the avant-rock collective sticks to their M.O.:unpredictability. With the exception of "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In," which jumps between skronk rock, ambient noise, rave beats, and swirling keyboards, it's not as revolutionary as their nineties masterpieces. But in Tortoise's hands, even comfort food is arresting. Matt Hendrickson The music video for "Prepare Your Coffin" READ MORE: Dave Matthews adds some much-needed soul Phoenix strikes the perfect balance see more

The Best Car Washes

Photograph courtesy of Flickr It's an easy call: You can whip out the bucket, soap, and Armor All and spend the afternoon cleaning your ride on the driveway, or you can sit back and let these suds masters—young and old—make you shine in a matter of minutes. Ian Daly CLASSIC CAR WASHES: SEATTLE: Elephant Car Wash The original shop, established in 1951 and worthy of seven spin-offs, is as much a Seattle landmark as the Space Needle, thanks to its big neon-pink elephant. [616 Battery St., 206-441-6776;] MADISON, WISCONSIN: Octopus Car Wash The staff motto is Ô┐┐Many Hands see more
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