epigram 01: on men’s feet

These feet rule: only if your feet look as good as Constantine’s may you disregard this epigram (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

From head to toe, true gents are discreet,

And never neglect to cover their feet.

With the exception of those times that they are immediately engaged in aquatic activities, men’s feet should be covered at all times in public.  That is, completely, not partially, concealed.  Even under the best of conditions, those meatpegs men walk around on are pretty ugly; Taste demands their concealment from an innocent glance.  No thong sandal, scuff, Birkenstock nor definitely the dreaded flip flop can take the place of a nice  loafer, Oxford or boot.  Those vaguely sandally things may provide a modicum of protection to the wearer’s sole, but does not protect the rest of us from the vision of the foot itself.

For those men of the world who are not be persuaded that this service to humanity is worth the price of their personal comfort, we beg them to consider their own advancement in every arena of their existence, since clearly availing ourselves of their ego is the only trick that may work.  History and popular culture are full of examples of the men who have and continue to run the world, and they do it in full-on footwear. Behold:

Without his fine boots, Napoleon would have caught frostbite crossing the Alps.

Without cleated sneaks, David Beckham would have had a Tinfoil Foot at best.

Pres. Obama’s shoes tell us that even when he puts his feet up, he’s still a hardworking guy just like the rest of us.

Would the ladies think that Don looks Draperesque in flip flops?

Action heroes depend on proper equipment, down to their toes, to execute their proper action.

Yo-Yo Ma could never have tapped his toe to the top of the charts as the World’s Favorite Cellist if it was just his big piggy slapping out the tempo.

What kind of a figure would Professor Snape cut in a pair of Keen slip-ons?

Colin Firth has been nominated for dozens and dozens of acting awards and scooped up an impressive number of them, always wearing shoes.  How many Oscars, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Build Awards and BAFTAs do you have?

The efforts of Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to spread European Modernist architecture all over the globe were greatly enhanced by their footwear (bonus points for the spats, Mies).

“One small step . . .”  Neil Armstrong wouldn’t have been able to moonwalk without his footgear.

And neither would this guy.

Clearly, shoes are a key to the success of all these icons from entertainment to law enforcement, from the performing arts and sports, politics and lady killers.  What do they all have in common, aside from performing with general awesomeness?  One word: shoes.  Few men can get away without them–although, to be fair, we should note the exceptions.  So, unless you’re this guy:

or this guy:

or this guy:

don’t go unshod!  But you don’t have to take our word for it.  This guy has been telling you about proper footwear for ages:

Be a good neighbor, wear your shoes.

birthday luncheon for Le Corbusier

Nous savez, c'est la vie qui a raison, l'architecte qui a tort. (Le Corbusier, 1969)

Nous savez, c'est la vie qui a raison,
l'architecte qui a tort.
Le Corbusier, 1969

Le Corbusier was born on October 6, 1887. From the 1920s to the 1960s he designed many famous buildings in France, Switzerland and other places. His early buildings have sharp corners and are mostly white. His later buildings are curvy and are mostly concrete. There’s a little color here and there, as you might expect from an architect who was once an artist who painted in a school associated with Cubism.

He also wrote several famous books that continue to be read, mostly in schools of architecture. He liked to write in short, terse sentences and paragraphs.

Like this.

I do not believe that Corbu, as we were taught to call him affectionately in architecture school, would fuss over a birthday celebration the way I do. He probably would have condemned birthday parties, especially the cake and presents, as bourgeois.

He believed that sofas are bourgeois, too.

But chairs are not bourgeois; chairs are architecture. He said so.

To mark this date I have prepared a simple four-course menu, designed as the ideal birthday luncheon for Le Corbusier. Let us assemble correctly and magnificently in the light; pull up a chair, s’il vous plaît, and enjoy—but not too much; I have a funny feeling that pleasure may also be bourgeois.

Le menu pour le déjeuner d’anniversaire de Le Corbusier
Service: on a paved terrace, overlooking a manicured grassy garden; skyscrapers in the distance; biplane circling overhead

amuse-bouche: L’Esprit Nouveau
Cold cucumber-leek soup with French grey salt
Served in shot glasses with thick black rims

entrée: La Savoye
Poached trout with egg white omelette (taken from hens in harmony with the zeitgeist)
Discreet garnish of serpentine cucumber peel (measuring 5 mm x 4 cm precisely), circular radish slices
Served on square plate

le plat principal: La Ronchamp
Lamb stew with autumn roots and cream; potatoes dauphinoise
Served on rustic ceramic plates made by local Burgundians

le dessert: Vers une bonbon radieuse
Sunlight, oxygen
Served in large portions

Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. (Le Corbusier, ca. 1927)

Bon Appétit