Friday, July 7, 2017

Waiting for the Axe to Fall


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::


Look, I'm not a rube, I know expensive sunglasses exist.  But even the most expensive Fred specs Competitive Cyclist sells are under $500:




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.

72 comments:

dancesonpedals said...

podium!

Buffalo Bill said...

Woot!

Freddy Murcks said...

If you didn't avail yourself of the opportunity to kick Peter Buchanan-Smith in the pants yabbies while on your visit to the Best Hoax Co., I suggest you go back. There may be no man alive more deserving.

Freddy Murcks said...

By the way, I would have sworn that today's post was entitled 'Waiting for the Axe to Fail.'

N/A said...

I'm guessing there were plenty of tool-boxes in that room.



Ahahaha, that's a shitty bow and ludicrously over priced. In keeping with everything else you pictured.


Tons o' laughs today, dude.

Anonymous said...

ARTI $NAL

Anonymous said...

ARTIS ANAL

Anonymous said...

I just finished a bottle of the Hudson Baby Bourbon my gf got me for my birthday last week.

Mostly meh, but who the hell am I to refuse free Bourbon?

Scranus.

N/A said...

On account of my fondness for the shits & giggles, I thought I'd share this with y'all:

Wooden toolbox, $79, located at your nearest Harbor Freight:
https://www.harborfreight.com/tool-storage/tool-boxes/8-drawer-wood-tool-chest-62585.html

Pist Off said...

I give Best Made Co props for chutzpah. If you have to make money from questionable goods, at least they're taking it from folks who clearly have too much. Specialized is fishing from the same pool with the $6-15k plastic bikes.

Anonymous said...

Best Made is literally marketing the trapping of my impoverished childhood to douchebags with more money than brains.

Anonymous said...

Best Made is literally marketing the trapping of my impoverished childhood to douchebags with more money than brains. it's like stealing valor ... from children.

Hee Haw the Barista said...

I'll say "you're welcome" in advance*

*unless you've seen this meme like a million times already

N/A said...

@ Hee Haw, 1:28


AHAHAHAHAHA, fantastic!

Peter Buchanan-Smith said...

For my next venture in a truly everyday hands-on product: artisinal toilet paper.

Or should that be a "hands off" product? Regardless, every wipe brings a sense of adventure to my dirty, rustic exit hole.

dnk said...

Holy shit snob, I got a big "bubinga riser" out of reading that.

I think you have slapped down your glass balls onto the wooden table of Mr. Best Buy, axe or no axe. Verily the forest of bro metaphors is mixed, and ripe for the chopping.

Plus a gratuitously good Jeremiah Moss on Baby Doll Lounge.

Nostalgia for Lounges Gone Bye said...

Can't believe the Baby Doll Lounge is gone. Sacrilege! The Goo Goo Doll's Band used to pound things down, down there. And replaced by yet another locally sourced, locally curated by a local consultant, locally organic, pasta joint (hint, bring a big bag of cash for this flour and water product). A sign inside the lounge door used to say "No Lips Below the Hips, Boys"; from that, one could infer that lips below the hips was perfectly OK for babes. Maybe it'll re-open someday as the Babble Lounge.

cdinvb said...

Yeah. So you got a fun book out of the deal. Not a total loss, then.

Anonymous said...

Guess what? Baby Doll is alive and well as a pizza shop in Portland, Oregon!

"Baby Doll Pizza offers authentic, New York style pizza featuring dough, sauces, and cheeses made in-house by classically trained chef and owner Travis Miranda. Premium toppings include locally-sourced vegetables and house-made meats like brisket and sausages. Pineapple is not permitted on our pizza, although it’s best to ask Travis for the reason in person. To compliment our pizza and sandwiches, Baby Doll offers a rotating selection of local and regional wines and beers on tap and by the bottle. Baby Doll Pizza takes its name from the Baby Doll Lounge, a topless bar owned by Travis’s grandfather on the corner of Church and White streets in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. Born and raised in New York City, Travis attended the University of Oregon before pursuing his passion for food at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. Armed with classical culinary training and a palette for pizza honed on the streets of New York, Travis returned to Portland to bring proper New York style pizza to the Pacific Northwest."

http://www.babydollpizza.com/about/

dancesonpedals said...

Artisanal toilet paper?

Let me edit that...


Art is Anal Toilet paper....wipe your ass on a Picasso

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:53pm,

Amazing!

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Best Made Artis Anal toilet paper would naturally be specially curated corn cobs for your corn hole. But then you'd need an Arti Anally curated outhouse since said corn cobs won't flush.

Re the Longbow, they are missing out by not curating a Bubinga Wood cock ring, especially in the massive ballsac Peter Buchanan-Smith size.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I think you called it about right on the longbow. Looks about like a Bear Montana which retails around $400. Some artisanal traditional bowyers (one who makes bows)can fetch upwards of 1000 American fun stamps for their custom curated sticks with strings I wonder what if any pedigree these Best Made pieces possess.

I'm a bit of a primitive bow fred myself but any dufus can buy a bow. I made my own.

Name said...

Followed Yonder Journal and their various associates very briefly a while ago on the social medias. Then realized they were all part of a marketing scheme from Specialized...

Spokey said...


hoooray, 25 today

hey, what do i know. i beats Boasson Hagen today.

Anonymous said...

"...the American Longbow is a timeless instrument fabricated around a hickory core, harvested locally in the USA."

FAIL. Harvested locally on a 3000 mile wide country? Dumbasses. All their shit is decent but WAY over priced for what it is.

bad boy of the sooth said...

I guess somebody didn't have an axe to grind.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

My bow link seems to be defective. Try this one:

RCT's bow

Cat 404 e-Racer said...

"And while ordinarily I'd be tempted to scoff at stuff like dropper posts: "

That's what she said, hehe!

Spokey said...


i had a bow that looked just like that. i think it was called old hickory or something. i do notice the first weight is 25lb. best i remember that was an appropriate weight for me being a 9 year old sissy back in the 50s.

it is interesting how inflation chews up the dollar. i'm pretty sure mine cost about $10. and it came with a couple shitty arrows.

Anonymous said...

Peter Buchanan-Smith doesn't exactly look like someone who's ever swung an axe in the woods...

JLRB said...

"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?"

Beddazled Platinum!

Latetothepartyasusual said...

Please tell us what is going on in that film scene.

1904 Cadardi said...

Those wooden boxes are from Gerstner who have been making really really nice wooden tool chests for over a hundred years. They're well liked by tool and die makers because they don't damage delicate tools like micrometers, or dull the edges of cutting tools like metal boxes do, and being wood they'll transport moisture away from wet tools helping prevent rust. The kind of thing that gets handed down between generations because they're well made, durable, and functional.

The large one looks like the classic which retails for $1345 and the small one appears to be the $445 J0900 "Purse".

So not at all remarkable that BestMade (by someone else) gets them, sticks their name onto it and raises the price a few hundred bucks so some poor soul can pay too much to stick in on a shelf. Schmucks.

#whattoolchestyourunning

N/A said...

@ 1904:

I worked in machine shops for many years as a young man. I had a semi-crappy Craftsman tool chest and some not-crappy Kennedy boxes. One of the old fellas I worked with had the most beautiful Gerstner box you've ever seen. He oiled and wiped it down, then put a blanket over it when he left for the day. Every couple of years he'd replace the felt in the drawers.


I'd be surprised if these Best Made clowns are really using Gerstners. Too thin a margin I would think. There used to be a bunch of knock-offs of varying quality levels, but I don't really know the market on those types of boxes anymore.

Frickus Rungus said...

Could someone please explain the "proverbial glass table" reference? Is this an inside joke that only members of the professional bedazzlers local union No. 121 will get?

Die free said...

Bringing up the rear again. Maybe I need an axe...

Spokey said...


i'm kinda shocked that snobbie didn't recognize the red thing for 1850 coupons. it's obviously an artisnal sandwich board. you can even see the shoulder straps in his picture. don't they use those in the big appalachia anymore?

BikeSnobNYC said...

1904,

Thanks for the background on the box!

--Wildcat Etc.

Spokey said...

frickus

it's the thing below the glass ceiling. when you break it and get the shards in your big balls, it's even more painful.

leroy said...

Dear Mr. BSNYC -

I thought your big balls, big riding in the rain analogy might finally assuage my dog's discontent about having him fixed.

I'm pretty sure his response was sarcastic.

Oh well, ride safe.

As for Best Made's main man Buchannan-Smith's throw down challenge: It was gratuitously cruel to give my dog false hope that one may re-grow a set big enough to slap down on a glass table.

You can imagine his disappointment when I explained that was just an expression.

But I thought of a better metaphor.

And fortunately peeing contests are more his thing.

Some guy from upstate said...

Actually, I am a wee bit of an archery Fred, so I would say "best longbow" is like "best pennyfarthing". Maybe you object to the aesthetic of the (objectively superior) modern compound, but it's quite possible to make an artisanal recurve bow with the significant functional superiority demonstrated effectively by 12th century Mongols. The longbow is useful if you are a battle of Agincourt reenactor. In which case it should be made of yew, not hickory. Hickory is too stiff. Did you know the English equivalent of our middle finger comes from Henry V's archers, who would hold up their first two fingers to show the French their bowstring hands were ready to rein more death upon them?

And I like the $1650 machinist's toolbox. I have a few from various ancestors but they are all greasy and full of micrometers and taps and shit.

N/A said...

1904:

Holy Lob, they are Gerstners. Now that I'm home looking at the pictures in an enlarged sizeway, I can see the stamping on the metal latches.

Name said...

So won't Gerstner object to their products being sold with another label sticked on?

Hair Furor said...

Just chiming in to say, "thanks for the laughs!"

Thanks for the laughs!

Fred Clydesdale said...

$1850 for an artisanal sandwich board? absurd! but for an artisanal leaf and flower press*, it's an incredible bargain. imagine the crestfallen looks on the other kids' faces when you show up with leaves & flowers from your front stoop pressed in this thing. there's only one gold star being handed out in THAT class!

(*can be used to store your summer doilies during the winter months.)

bieks said...

What had a higher retail? The bourbon or the cups?

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed one of the Outside articles but am curious about the softball incident with the yarmulke boy.

Unknown said...

I have practiced and taught archery to many people as a certified coach but I have never seen an enchanted bow that "patiently teaches true form" before. That bow is a wonder! Its best attributes are its high price and unimpeachable pedigree. The bow is above average in size.

Ground Control said...

As a recovering bike Fred and a part time tree fred-or maybe a George (of the jungle)-I think he's wasting his time with axes. The next wave of hipster is looking for saws. In fact specialized would be wise to look into this. They already make carbon fiber tree climbing spikes.

Ground Control said...

http://www.sherrilltree.com/gecko-cf-carbon-fiber-tree-climbers-17in-small

Dooth said...

Nothing says New York like axes and bows and arrows...I think, or is it bagels and cream cheese and yellow taxis?

BamaPhred said...

While I appreciate fine tools and craftsmanship, I simultaneously laughed at, and was appalled, by Best Made. Good job.i don't understand the expensive axe thing at all.

Philip Bey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Schisthead said...

His note implies he test drives many objects one would not normally think of 'test driving', like socks, pencils, marmalade, glass coffee tables, etc.

Do you think he pens a screed comparable to yours on such matters?

Please post a link if you find one.

Anonymous said...

surely you're joking is a great book on how to tackle life. of course like most biographies the 1st half is much better than what follows. stunts he pulled on colleagues is something to aspire to.

I'm All A quiver said...

The Archer Fred will go for a crabon bow.

Robin Hood said...

If I were to shoot an apple off my GF's head, I'd want to use a Best Made Bow. Do they sell a cross-bow, err, I mean, a curated, locally sourced, made of non endangered organic wood, cross-bow model?

Chazu said...

Other than the copious effeminate males: How many female (humans) were present?

Merry Man said...

Cyclocrossbows use both nuts and bolts.

Olav Friis Nielsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I highly recommend the Feynman book, hilarious and thought provoking, be warned though, Feynman is irreverent and has no respect for pompous people, maybe that's not your thing? :-) /s

I realize your job as high-powered bike-blogger and human kid-schlepper may not leave you much spare time, so start with the chapter about his safe-cracking spree at Los Alamos, page 137 in my copy. If you're not hooked afterwards just drop the book.

JLRB said...

I've got an axe to gravel grind

Wesley Bellairs said...

Polkadot Bicycles in Lincoln sells Colossi which are handmade gravel bicycle frames from Columbus Nivachrom for $875. WTF is Special ed doing? Jesse James used a gun!

Ed Ames said...

Hatchets, do they carry hatchets too?

Anonymous said...

Seems appropriate they served Widow Jane whiskey, which is made by Midwest Grain Products, purchased and watered down by Widow Jane, then put into bottles with fancy labels, and sold as a small-batch product.

Anonymous said...

I see what appears to be the rear right quarter of female human head in one of the photos... but the "man bun" is everywhere these days so you never know.

Freddy Murcks said...

Anon @1:04 - I am glad that you noted that and I am glad that I am not the only one who calls out fake 'craft' whiskey makers whenever the opportunity presents itself. If MGP didn't create the faux craft whiskey business, they sure as hell enabled it. With a few thousand dollars worth of MGP's booze, some fancy bottles, and a bullshit but engaging back story, you too could be in the ARTIS ANAL whiskey business (see, e.g., High West 'Distillery'). Their order form makes it easy as pie.

In any case, fake craft whiskey from Widow Jane seems to be a perfect pairing with fake artisanal axes, tool boxes, etc. from Best Made Co.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:04pm,

Thanks, I did not know that about the Widow Jane!

(I had the Hudson Whiskey, which seems actually to be distilled in NY.)

--Wildcat Etc.

Kevin Love said...

William Tell used a crossbow.

Yendor Nemingha said...

hope you get a chance to read the Feynman book. I enjoyed it years ago. I think you'll find you have more in common with him than you might have thought.

Caroline Thomas said...

That's good to hear about it.Thanks for giving such a good content.
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