8/16/18

Summer Vacation Report, 2018


My kitchen.

I'm nearing the end of a two week vacation, and learned a few things while relaxing. Last week I heard a podcast featuring Chandler Burr, in which he commented on the perfume industry, specifically the flourishing niche industry. He offered a few interesting tidbits of information about perfume, the cost of raw materials vs packaging expenses, etc, all of which was very interesting, but he also said something I found particularly disheartening - that he didn't know why, after the great financial crisis of 2008, the niche industry had burgeoned into the success we see today.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the success of the luxury market rides the wave of everyone else's economic hardship. The Martin Shkrelis of the world made out like bandits when the markets collapsed. They had been betting on people's misery for years, offering subprime predatory loans to folks who had no financial acumen beyond what they owed for lunch, and when collective ignorance threatened America's house of cards, the wealthy became wealthier, many in mere seconds.

Now, I'm not claiming that Burr is one of these robber baron elites, nor am I saying that he is intentionally obfuscating the correlation between plummeting middle class retirement accounts and rising luxury boutique profits. I'm saying that Burr, as an economist, should probably note that in times of financial hardship for the middle class, a curious and often remarkable uptick in luxury spending occurs. Likewise, he ought to mention that when the middle class begin seeing personal gains in an improving economy, luxury sales begin to suffer. It may behoove Mr. Burr to ask the question: why does this happen repeatedly?

In my opinion, he should ask how the ebb and flow of our economy parallels movements in luxury fragrance markets, and then offer reasoned answers. Simply expressing incredulity at what we've all witnessed in the past decade makes him look like he's just another armchair economist, which would make him like me. And I seriously doubt that I'm anywhere close to the level of Burr's understanding of economics. So if he's going to ponder the imponderables of the rich and fabulous niche industry, he should highlight the disturbing trends of its success. His comments on the podcast disappointed me, because I expect more from him as an economist (a real economist), and everyone should expect more from him when he discusses the economics of luxury perfumes.

This brings me to, well, me. I'm middle class, clinging to the rungs of that ladder rather perilously at times. Sure, I bought a house, and I have a luxury car (admittedly an older, often mechanically problematic luxury car, with incredible depreciation), and I work a full-time unionized job in the education field. I make enough money to pay my bills, eat well, and occasionally purchase a fragrance or two. But I also live in Connecticut, a flailing state with corruption so endemic to its litany of financial woes, that even the most conscientious citizen is burdened beyond belief. Taxes here are killing us, and there is no end in sight.

When my vacation began, I was staring at the expense of a potentially bank-account killing car repair. I had a serious issue with a wheel bearing on the front driver side, and given the nature of GM design flaws, and taking my past repair history into account, I wondered if I was looking at another summer of Ramen and rocking chairs. Fortunately the repair was relatively inexpensive, nowhere near as bad as I imagined. This enabled me to turn my attention to a few personal projects.

As a Connecticut Yankee, my lifestyle demands that I drive. Not just a little, mind you - a lot. I average twenty thousand miles a year, on a slow year. Thus, car maintenance is a primary concern, and learning how to maintain my own vehicle becomes a necessity. Not only does CT require me to truck hundreds of miles a week, but it offers precious few competent mechanics. I'm not joking about that. Fully one out of every ten mechanics knows what they're doing. My next door neighbor is a licensed mechanic who works from his property. Recently he left the keys to one of his client's vehicles in the ignition overnight, and the car was stolen and totaled. Either he forgot he lives in a city, or he's just a dimwit - either way, he's pretty typical of the mechanics I've crossed paths with in this state.

I've been spending almost a week now learning how to drain and flush my radiator and replace my thermostat, which in a 3.8L Series II engine is fairly straightforward and easy to do. I got around to doing it on Tuesday, with success. I already regularly change my own oil, which a five year old could do with my car. But my responsibilities don't end there. I also need to clean the throttle body, and replace the upper intake manifold plenum and gaskets before the inevitable happens, and antifreeze bleeds into the engine oil. The former project is going to be difficult, and I'll probably end up just replacing the throttle body altogether, since GM engineers have a sadistic love for designing things that cannot be cleaned and serviced easily. And since removing the throttle body exposes the upper intake, I may as well just make it all one big project and replace both at the same time.

Since this project is fairly huge for an amateur with minimal experience working on engines, I'm bucking up for it in a big way, and planning on tackling it during my Christmas break later this year. If I'm successful with these repairs, hopefully it will extend the life of my already ancient car by another three to five years, which is exactly the amount of time needed to pay off my student loans, and free up the funds needed to finance a new car.

Meanwhile I'm buttoning up a few things in my house. Today I'm finally sealing and polishing my kitchen floor with industrial Zep products, and having flashbacks to my college days as a janitor. I installed a Congoleum tile floor earlier this year with the help of my father, and that alone was a difficult project that spanned two years. A quick summary: in the early spring of 2016 I bought the last of a discontinued commercial-grade Congoleum tile, the kind installed in schools and hospitals, and a couple months later began the arduous process of removing the asbestos coverup job of the home's former owners. Egregiously, they had installed ugly white glue-on tiles to hide the 9"X9" asbestos (or suspiciously asbestos-like) original kitchen tiles.

The worst part about taking up those stick-on tiles was removing the glue, a hideous, waterproof, invasive material that managed to taint every corner of the house with its tack. But remove it we did, and then the equally ugly original floor tile sat exposed for eighteen months, sending its friable asbestos particles everywhere I eat, sleep, and blog. (I'm scheduled to be diagnosed with asbestosis sometime around 2030.) However, the new Congoleum floor, which is almost as toxic as asbestos, is now firmly cemented into place, and as I type this, I wait as Zep's Wet Look Floor Polish dries its first of four coats.

Why am I reporting all of this to you? It's August, I'm on vacation, a new school year awaits me less than four days from now, and it's the silly season, folks. Unfortunately for readers looking to learn new and amazing things about perfume, my trajectory this month struggles to stay on message for this blog. However, I'm working on it; later this month I'm hoping to acquire a bottle of Irisch Moos EDT, which I suspect will get a good review. Until then, I'm pretty busy watching mechanics go through what seems like an endless series of unimpeachable steps toward repairing Buicks, hoping to learn as much as possible, and I'm also busy around the house.

To end on an up note, my neighbor gave away a Weber grill, and I've been enjoying some terrific BBQ all season long. You're all invited to come by and have some, but for those of you who don't live in Connecticut, that would mean you'd have to come here. And put bluntly, I can't in good conscience tell you to do that. So I take it back. Don't come by. More food for me.


8/6/18

Norwegian Wood (Kanøn)



I recall a post about Grey Flannel a few years back, in which I commented about its use of alpha-isomethyl ionone, and how it resembles Indian sandalwood when skillfully blended with similar materials. I have a-ionone in isolation, and can report that at one percent concentration, it smells of wood with a hint of violet flower. There is little doubt that jugs of the stuff resides in a large number of masculine frags produced over the last forty years.

Norwegian Wood gets some buzz online for smelling of "sandalwood." A number of basenotes, fragrantica, and YouTube reviews mention a heavy sandalwood essence. Having worn the fragrance for a day, my take is far simpler: this is a pretty spare and uneventful a-ionone scent, and it is almost completely linear. Aside from a pinch of black pepper on top, and a drop of vanilla down below, there's nothing else to it. Pretty disappointing, especially since it barely projects (I might be anosmic to it, actually), and seems to last ten minutes on my skin.

Despite Shamu's glowing review on his Pour Monsieur blog, and some chatter about it on B&B, I don't think Norwegian Wood deserves any attention. It's priced at $29 for 100ml on Palm Beach Beaute's web site, which is a complete joke, and even at six dollars on discount shelves, it's a rip-off for anyone intending to use it as an EDT. On the plus side, it's a worthy alternative to English Leather aftershave (also an a-ionone bomb), which is where I think this one excels. Still, with Skin Bracer out there, you could do better. This frag is the definition of dull.


7/25/18

The Nature of Manipulated Markets, Badger & Blade Gets Touchy, and the Interesting Idea of "Category Over Content"


So many close shaves.

One of the best things about having a blog is that it almost doesn't matter what you write - you're bound to piss somebody off. As an amateur fragrance writer, I'm entrenched in the fragrance world, without actually having to fight on the front lines. I'm not being paid by Fragrantica or some larger publishing organization, so I'm free to shake off the philosophies and ideologies of others, and instead write exactly what I think and feel. The down-side to this is that not everybody who visits From Pyrgos actually reads what I've written, which leads to misinterpretations of my posts, which leads to other problems.

But before getting too deeply into that, I thought I'd mention a recent thread on basenotes entitled "Carven Homme price gouging on eBay?" (And by the way, I'm not linking to anything in this post: I'm writing it on an iPad.) I have a few thoughts on the content of this thread. The OP writes that he sought a backup bottle of Carven Homme, which he purchased for thirty dollars, but comments that most of the stock on eBay was fifty dollars or more, with some bottles priced over one hundred. He asks if this is normal, or if he searched incorrectly.

This leads to a response by a member named "Zealot Crusader," who writes:
"There are 2 kinds of perfume sellers on eBay:
-Folks looking to offload stock . . . they'll sell at a fair price . . .
-Folks who know the zeal and sometimes deep pockets of fanatical perfumistas/collectors (especially vintage). They'll price as high as possible and just sit . . . They even end and relist higher if everyone else marks up or cancel/refund/relist auctions or use shill bids to get what they want. The predatory side of capitalism for sure."
I have been writing about this to varying degrees over the years, and it sums up the picture pretty well to me. It's almost impossible to cogently argue against this framing of eBay fragrance sales. Anyone who has dealt with sellers knows the "two kinds" that populate the site. I've encountered fair sellers who will answer any question and even offer samples if your knowledge of the product contradicts their listing details. Then there are the jerks who think a bottle of Jules by Dior is worth $300. Yeah . . . no.

But as long as basenotes exists, there will be members who can't handle an accurate summation of this sort of thing. Enter member "richfisher6969," who retorts:
"That's a very one-sided and biased opinion of capitalism (what America is all about) and on some eBay sellers. First, the eBay sellers are not charity. Nobody is putting a gun to your head to purchase any of their items. Why wouldn't they raise the price an additional $20 if the market dictates? . . . Sellers have to deal with crazy eBay selling fees, shipping/handling costs, post office fees and losses, flakey buyers who only have to scream the word "fake" and they get their item for free, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention they have to sit on their stock and absorb all that cost upfront . . . If a seller wants to sell vintage/discontinued items for $1000 and someone out there wants to buy it, God bless them . . . "
Here we have someone who begins his argument by singing an anthem about the wonders of capitalism, yet he immediately follows it with a litany of complaints about capitalism, the thrust of his point being that people should just accept ridiculous prices and market manipulation, because selling stuff is hard, though apparently there's an ass for every seat. This was written without even the faintest twinge of irony. Amazing.

He then adds an anecdote about selling a wallet for $400, even though he bought it on clearance for $50, and pisssed off the buyer by stuffing the clearance tag in the product when he shipped it. Again . . . no. Just, no. That isn't how capitalism works. Markets aren't created by speculators who hope suckers will come along and validate extortionate prices. That isn't what happens in the real world, and it isn't even what happens on eBay, but nice try to "richfisher6969" for making his case, and then using himself as an example of who "Zealot Crusader" was referring to when he described the type of eBay seller everyone should beware of.

This brings me to Badger & Blade, and another recent thread. I won't detail the thread here, because B&B is a relatively small community, and its members know the thread I'm referring to (it's under the "Fragrances" category, and asks if you're guilty of wearing "cheap" wetshaver scents).

I will simply sum up the gist of the thread. It started out as a fairly neutral topic, with the OP addressing "A Note To Newbies," which I wrote in August of 2016. In that post, I basically stated that newcomers to the fragrance world should keep an open mind, and not limit themselves to what they know. I used members of B&B as a very broadly stated example of what not to do if you're new to fragrance, and wrote:
"Another danger is what I call 'collection confirmation bias.' You have a fully formed opinion of a certain type of fragrance, and only partially formed opinions of others, and your collection is limited to your bias, and you automatically assume you smell terrific. Chances are only 50/50 that you're right. I see this all the time on Badger & Blade. That community is full of guys who collect cheaper 'wetshaver' fragrances . . . Many of these fellows wear this stuff exclusively, and they think they smell terrific. But do others agree? With such a limited range in their collections, it's likely they appeal to other people half of the time, and the other half they're actually annoying everyone around them. They've stopped on the one kind of fragrance they enjoy, and failed to diversify. A stopped clock is only right twice a day."
Now, had this been read ten years ago, my point would have been well taken on B&B. Back then the forum was almost exclusively older gentlemen in their fifties and sixties, and they had an unvarnished sense of collective self deprecation. But today, it was a bit of a flameout. Some members took my point in stride, having completely read it. Others just scanned a couple lines of interest, took offense, and contended that I was myopic, a "bell end," and completely off the mark.

To clarify for the slightly touchy members of B&B, my point was not that wearing wetshaver cheapies is a bad idea. My point was that wearing one kind of thing all the time is pretty evenly good and bad. By just wearing Pens Blenheim Bouquet, Florida Water, and Floid, you're appealing to an older set, and probably annoying anyone under thirty. That's more a reflection on the character (or lack thereof) of the millions of twenty-somethings out there, but it doesn't change the fact that you've limited your appeal. By wearing one category of fragrance on Monday, another on Tuesday, and so on, you increase your odds of having a positive impact on a broader range of people. The person who dislikes your Monday scent may love your Tuesday scent, and their love for your Tuesday scent may make them rethink your Monday scent. In short, treat your fragrance collection like a financial portfolio, and diversify.

If I'm going to start categorizing scents by the days of the week, I may as well wrap things up by mentioning some blowback I've received from my criticism of the new 2018 Guide. One guy on basenotes asked (rather rhetorically, and I'm paraphrasing), "Can you imagine how pissed people would be in 2018 if they released a book about scents from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s?" The general idea is that, as an enthusiast, I've subjectively prioritized the category of vintage classics over the content of the Guide. In other words, peppering in a few classics is ok, but publishing a guide about contemporary niche is more useful.

This is a legitimate argument. I would respond by asking, if niche is what really matters in 2018, why are only rich people wearing it? Why are 85% of the general public in North America and Europe wearing designer and classic designer frags? Why are only a small percentage of the general population interested in mainstream niche, like Creed, while an even smaller number possess the wealth to invest in large collections of obscure niche and indie bottles, each averaging $60 - $100 an ounce?

Turin recently commented that he thinks the original Guide has been discontinued. This is dismaying, and challenges the notion that any official "guide" for fragrance is useful. Still, an illustrated guide of at least one hundred masculine fragrances from the twentieth century might have a large, cross-generational audience.


7/18/18

Pino Silvestre Original (2018, Parfums Mavive)



Whenever a fragrance is reformulated, I ask myself, what changed? Presumably a reformulation is indicative of a scent being altered somehow. With Pino Silvestre, I was interested in whether its pine and honey notes had retained their calibration, and whether its drydown had been edited, or expanded. My experience with early 2000s vintage was mixed. It yielded wonderfully lucid Christmas tree pine notes, followed rapidly by a salubrious honeyed amber, but longevity clocked in at a meager ninety minutes, even with excessive application.

The 2018 formula of Pino Silvestre reveals a few significant changes. First, the top notes are slightly different. Parfums Mavive did something I rarely encounter in this business - they added notes. Vintage was mainly an intense blast of lemon, lavender, basil, geranium, and mint. These notes dazzled my nose with their brightness, and almost instantaneously coalesced into a clear analog of natural Scots Pine. New Pino adds dihydromyrcenol and cedar, which achieves a contrasting effect, illuminating the green notes, and dilating a generous swath of cool shade. Unlike earlier iterations, the fragrance now embarks on a distinctly woodier path. Pino Silvestre is my favorite postwar Italian barbershop fern because its accords are harmonious in ways that evoke nature, and not men's cologne. Parfums Mavive upheld that tradition here.

The other change I noticed is the removal of honey. They took a risk and switched the honeyed amber of vintage with a hay-like woody amber of mostly coumarin and cedar. The overall result is a fragrance with immensely improved longevity and presence. Instead of ninety minutes, I now get seven hours out of Pino Silvestre. Its pine aspect never really disappears, and its base is now a distinct woody amber with aromatic nuances. I can't express how much I love this fragrance. It's on par with Grey Flannel and Original Vetiver as one of the best "green" fragrances I've ever smelled.



7/9/18

Recognizing Faces (Part Two): How Youtube and Fragrance Guides Compete For Relevance While Leaving Classic Masculines In The Dust


'TV Static Screenshot 2' by Justin March at www.justinmarch.com

Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have authored a new 2018 perfume guide, and having read the preview, I can say that it's as good as their first book. Meanwhile on Youtube, "MrSmelly1977" has offered a list of his "Top 5 Discontinued Fragrances." I won't ruin his video for you by revealing which frags he's listed, but hint, hint: a few are masculines by largely forgotten brands, frags that were on shelves over twenty years ago.

I have a few complaints, though. Let me preface them by telling you a little about myself. Look, I'm not a sensible guy. I have a very unusual habit. I tend to pick favorites in life, and then return to them in lieu of trying new things. This extends to many interests, especially fragrances and movies. With film, it's quite maddening to people. They'll ask me what I want to watch. They'll have extensive libraries of movies from the last five or ten years, they'll ask if I've seen any of them, and I'll say, "No, but why don't we watch Lovers Like Us?" Which is something I've seen about fifty times.

Turin and Sanchez's new guide is a little like my friends' movie collections. It's chock full of new. Which means it's chock full of fragrances I have no desire to try. If I did try a few dozen of them, I'd probably wind up buying a bottle of Lapidus Pour Homme afterward. These frags boast all the latest special effects in olfactory technology. Many are "smoky," or "oud," or esoteric picks from established lines like Acqua di Parma or Guerlain. Yet Sanchez writes of department stores, "the luxury floor has been having a hard time." Really? Doesn't look that way to me. Reference the ever-growing catalogue of Acqua di Parma and Guerlain. As usual, there's a logical disconnect between what I see and what they write in their book. Sure, the grey market has stumped Creed, Caron, and Guerlain (you can get Mitsouko far cheaper on Fragrancenet), but that hasn't really hurt them, unless the "La Petite Robe Noir" line is indicative of "a hard time."

An interesting thing that T&S do is discuss the historical arc of perfumery as a type of evolution, as if perfumes are biological species that have either gone extinct, or evolved into something new. The implication is that many (or most) twentieth century fragrances have failed to evolve, have been overtaken by newer and bolder predators, and have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Is this analogy fair? Have Lacoste's and Bogart's eponymous masculines been killed off and fossilized by brands like Maison Violet and Aedes de Venustas? If so, why? More to the point, why in all these years has nobody published an incisive historical analysis of the most interesting kind of perfume, the postwar masculine?

According to Sanchez, new frags don't have complex, enduring drydowns, and don't possess the complexity of bygone classics, yet many attempt to replicate the same smoky, spicy, woody, and musky scent profiles of their predecessors. Doesn't that make them inferior? Doesn't that make the superlative craftsmanship of a $10 fragrance like Halston Z14 more interesting than a $165 fragrance by Le Galion? I'm not sure why I should bother with any of these new niche scents. By omitting any expression of love for classic masculines, yet showing a lukewarm interest in frags that attempt to replicate them, I wonder if Turin and Sanchez wrote the wrong kind of guide.

My main complaint is that very few of the fragrances in the new guide are things I've ever heard of before. Turin is turgid about his love for "smoky" fragrances, "spicy" fragrances, things rich in "drydowns" and "soft, balsamic-salicylate" accords, which is all fine and well. But there's an irony here. Despite his proclivity for rich, woody, floral, and smoky frags, Turin appears to have little interest in reviewing classic twentieth century masculines from the golden era of the 1950s to the 1980s, frags that actually smelled rich, woody, etc. Rather than discuss classic gems like Acqua di Selva, Pino Silvestre, the first Davidoff scent, Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, Jaguar for Men, Sung Homme, and hundreds of others, he would rather ponder fragrances that often cost far more money for the same effect, and which hold little interest for me.

I'm not alone; many guys share my taste. We populate the fragrance boards and tirelessly explore vintage beauties, things like the Ungaro series, tobacco frags like Vermeil and Havana, fougeres like Tsar, the Aramis line, Boss, No. 1, and any Bogart scent released before 1995. We know many of these fragrances by heart, and we continue to wear them, yet we hunger for a respected author like Turin to acknowledge their mark in the annals of history, and "guide" us through his opinions of them. Many are still available, inexpensive, and well made. Many embody the same qualities as the scores of brand new niche frags reviewed in the new guide. Yet there is no love for any of them. They are considered "cigar box" by Turin, as he wrote of them ten years ago.

So instead of reading the guide, I turn to Youtube. Oh Christ, Youtube. As I mentioned earlier, guys like Chris at "Scent Land," Dan, and Lex Ellis are still talking about classic masculines. But they're not the majority. I mean, that's ok, I totally get it. Times have changed. It's not 1989 anymore. We're living in the post designer, post niche, postmodern era. Obscure Italian companies are buying up niche lines, and in a manner not unlike the mega designer conglomerates of yesteryear, they're distributing them under umbrella licenses across Europe and select parts of North America. These fragrances often cost around $180 a bottle, sometimes over $200, and in fewer cases over $300. Many are true niche, smelling of very specific notes with intensity and attention to detail, but many others are just smelling like rehashes of vintage greats, without oakmoss and coumarin to fix the drydowns into "beastmode" territory.

These fragrances are expensive, have little to no legacy beyond a one or two year existence, and they're often discontinued before any real loyalty for them can form. This doesn't stop Youtubers from going on and on about them. Problem is, none of these frags interest me. And the new designer stuff they're talking about? Really don't care either. I don't care about Alien Man. I don't care about Parfums de Marly. I don't care about Xerjoff. I've been spending the summer meditating on midcentury fresh fougeres like Acqua di Selva and Pino Silvestre, which I just bought a new bottle of (updated review pending). I've been spending the last three weeks obsessing over Italian barbershop fragrances like Silvestre by Victor. I'd love for Youtubers to devote hours to these kinds of frags on their channels, but almost no one bothers with them.

If you asked me who has more cache online, Turin and Sanchez or Youtubers, I'd have to give it to T&S. Despite floating in a lake of olfactory obscurity, they are talking about fragrances that resemble the classics I've written about here. The fact that these new fragrances are judged against a hulking skein of multicolored and endlessly layered historical threads is what draws readers by the millions to their guide.

Youtube comes in a distant second place. I'm not interested in dupes of new Creed frags. I'm not deeply invested in "Top Five" lists. Someone needs to stop and breathe, and pull out a bottle of something by Parfums Mavive, or Antonio Puig, and wax poetic about it for fifteen minutes, while exhaustively discussing the fragrance's history, and offering new information, things never before disseminated to the public. Someone needs to have a channel with researched content, worthy of NPR programming, a kind of documentary series. Someone needs to stop leaving classic masculines in the dust.


6/27/18

Acqua di Selva (Visconti di Modrone)


Pine for the past.

Even if you're unfamiliar with Acqua di Selva, a quick glance at the ever-informative H&R Genealogie chart explains its characteristics with near perfect accuracy, sandwiching it neatly between Silvestre by Victor (1946), and Pino Silvestre by Vidal (1955). That's the "Italian Barbershop" section of the chart, a place where midcentury Mediterranean EdCs enjoyed a quiet little Rennaissance.

Acqua di Selva was introduced in 1949, and soon afterward became an archetypical 1950s masculine accoutrement, symbolizing post-war affluence, and the open-collared ease of the mad men era. How does it smell? The short answer is, it smells like pine. Italian colognes tend to smell like pine, usually garnished to varying degrees with kitchen herbs and lemon oil. Pino Silvestre is arguably the best of these earthy fresh fougeres, a bracing slug of sharp citrus and cedar that coalesces into a photorealistic rendition of pine needles and moist sap. I believe Acqua di Selva was its inspiration; Victor's version of this theme was minty, with significantly more lemon and oakmoss, and it has been well preserved by Visconti di Modrone's reformulation. You can occasionally find vintage Victor AdS on EBay and in shops, but I see no reason to embark on that quest. The new stuff smells right.

What makes this fragrance "barbershop?" In my opinion, the composition says it all. When I sniff its top notes, I recognize a familiar interplay between camphoraceous peppermint, lemon, and lavender, and am immediately reminded of vintage Aqua Velva Ice Blue, a minty herbaceous chypre from a few years earlier. This arrangement segues rapidly into a darker, mossier heart, and from there the pine, oakmoss, vetiver, and subtle shimmers of indistinct herbs recall shave soaps and talc, smelling green, dry, and natural, an effortless expression of manliness. Within two hours the whole affair rustles down to a toasted tobacco and oakmoss accord, like unlit pure tobacco cigarettes with a healthy dose of menthol in their filters. The man who shaves with AdS aftershave and applies the EdC afterward is essentially declaring to the world that his "dadness" is inspired by David Niven.

My only complaint, and it isn't mine alone, is that Acqua di Selva doesn't last as long as I'd like it to. I get one hour out of it before it fades down to a skin scent, and even sweat doesn't do much to reactivate it. Many guys complain about this. The truth is, it's a testament to the naturalness of the composition. These old Italian colognes were well made, and still are. They tend to use lucid materials, and there's precious little confusion over what the perfumer meant to say. There is no detectable synthetic musk molecule to help the scent drone on for hours, just a diluted composition of citrus, terpenes, and real oakmoss.

An added perk: my bottle may or may not be defective - the atomizer unscrews and lifts out, leaving an old-school splash. So the longevity issue has an upside, as it can be splashed liberally to double as an aftershave.


6/17/18

Rant: P&G Takes Shortcuts With Nonsensical 80th Anniversary Old Spice Products


A Sad Joke.

It's pretty galling to think that after eighty years of Old Spice's existence on the world market, the best Proctor & Gamble could do to celebrate its anniversary was a minor tweak of the labels for limited edition deodorants and body washes. On its website, they state:
"[The] 80th Anniversary scent smells like 80 years of crisp, clean awesomeness."
Yeah, ok. Great grammar. Apparently they couldn't even be bothered to check the copy editing on their own site. But more importantly, after eight decades of providing a legendary oriental masculine to millions of wet shavers everywhere, and about fifteen years after switching the cologne and aftershave bottles from Egyptian ceramic to plastic, my question is, that's it? No limited edition Egyptian ceramic commemorative "retro" bottle? No brief return to the classicism that made this scent an icon? Not even an attempt to advertise the anniversary beyond a quiet product list on the site? What the hell is going on over there?

I have a theory as to what happened, and it doesn't bode well for anyone under the age of 35. I'm looking at you, Millennials. It's clear you have invaded American industry. You were born in the late 1980s and 1990s, and you were raised on TV, computers, cell phones, and the Internet. You have a "Swipe Left" mentality about literally everything you encounter. You're soft, you're weak, you're pretty stupid (most of you couldn't find Brazil on a globe), but you grew up entitled. Your parents told you that you were wonderful, that you could do anything you wanted to, that you could change the world, because you are special.

And as you moved through the 2000s, your middle school and high school years, you gradually began permeating American culture. It started sometime after The Matrix, but before Avatar, roughly the time Obama was elected, that you took positions of power in the manufacturing sector, and suddenly everything really started going to shit. Pop music, movies, clothing styles, furniture styles, cars, and fragrances all started looking cheap and undesirable. The Millennial mindset - a short attention span, an unwillingness to read books and learn, a self-esteem fueled binge of crude postmodernist creativity - began rendering everything, even simple things like aftershave, as less than they were before.

I would wager that whoever is in charge of the budget for the North American Old Spice Classic division at P&G is under the age of 35, a Millennial, and I'd also bet that he or she is pretty stupid. This person was likely raised to believe that their decisions are always worthy of praise, and therefore thinks their short-sighted decision to take shortcuts in the eightieth anniversary packaging of Old Spice was no big deal. Why should Old Spice fans expect anything to celebrate over?

I'm here to tell you, whoever you are: you really screwed up. You disappointed millions of loyal consumers who yearn for a return to the glass bottle, even if only for a few short weeks, and you made guys like me, born on the furthest fringe of the 1970s, wonder how his contemporaries could be so dumb. Do you think life is an App? Do you think that it's a great idea to end relationships when they begin to get challenging, when they begin to demand more of you and your precious time? Do you think it's a good thing that almost every other movie that comes out these days is from Marvel Studios, the least edifying movie culture phenomenon in the history of film? Do you look forward to the next Taylor Swift song, because you think pop music is fun?

Congratulations, you're a stupid Millennial, and if you're working at P&G, you probably have no appreciation for vintage Old Spice packaging, or for the long history of traditional celebrations that Old Spice has enjoyed over the last eight decades. That anyone over the age of forty who works for P&G would think that just going on Photoshop and revamping a pre-existing deodorant label was enough is nearly impossible to swallow. More likely some simple-minded moron who graduated from college in 2013 told the design department to just cut a new look on existing plastic, and called it a day.

Of course, I could be wrong about this. Maybe the design department and bean counters are all grizzled old guys in their fifties and sixties who just don't want to be bothered. But that wouldn't make much sense, would it? Guys that age would have more interest in reviving their own memories of a wonderful bygone era, when Old Spice was still popular among young men. A time when quality was looked upon as a source of pride in the manufacturing and commercial sectors, and high-grade materials mattered. They'd be cringing at the reality of their favorite cologne being packaged in plastic, and waiting for the day when they could justifiably break free of that financial constriction, even if only for a few weeks, and offer celebratory revival bottles on the anniversary of the product.

To the execs at P&G in charge of Old Spice, whoever you are, read this: your cheap, crappy shortcut approach to your flagship men's fragrance is embarrassing and unacceptable. I know you think it doesn't matter, because reasons, because this apparently forgotten "legacy brand" is just there to make you members of the nouveau rich, and everyone around you thinks you're wonderful anyway. But you're not wonderful, and you're not helping your bottom line, because had you spent a few million dollars and issued glass bottles of cologne and aftershave, you would have seen an incredible return on your investment. As it stands, you're seeing nothing, because you haven't offered this fragrance's faithful users anything at all.

Wise up. The 90th anniversary better be conceptualized by someone with an attention span significantly greater than that of a fruit fly. If you think manufacturing grey stoppers for 1930s styled ceramic bottles is a bad idea, you're a disgrace to the brand, and if I could, I'd fire you immediately. Would someone please create a startup page for an acquisition of P&G? I don't care if it takes you fifteen years to raise the capital; it's worth it. An icon like Old Spice deserves so much better. This nonsense needs to end.