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The New Sign Painters

One would think that the invention of digital lettering for our commercial signs—on everything from shops to billboards—was nothing but an industrial step forward. As it’s turned out, yesteryear’s signs, which were all painted by hand, offered a beauty and personality that today’s automated version has been unable to duplicate; more important, a hand-made sign lasts much longer. Our correspondent explores what’s left of the old tradition, and stumbles on small but lively seeds of revival.

By LAURA FRASER
Photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN

The Celluloid Gumshoe

Eddie Muller has dedicated his life to finding, and restoring, lost films of the great Film Noir era of the 1940s and ’50s. At this point, Muller is much like one of his favorite characters—a beaten down but determined gumshoe, always looking for a lucky break. At stake: the preservation of our cinematic history, well beyond film noir.

By BARBARA TANNENBAUM

A Tale of Two Vermouths

In a small town outside Torino, Italy, the age-old Vermouth giant, Martini & Rossi has turned this beverage into a model of what might be called industrial spirits craftsmanship. Our correspondent goes visiting, then returns stateside to watch a small one-man shop create the modern artisanal version. What are differences, and why do they matter?

By LAURA FRASER

From Bicycles to “Pedal Steel” Guitars: One Maker’s Quirky Frontiers

Ross Shafer made his mark creating a popular brand of mountain bikes, called Salsa, and a line of small but crucial bicycle parts that no one had brought to the market before. Now he’s making what might be the world’s most beautiful “pedal steel guitar.” Might Shafer’s relentless eclecticism offer a model for a kind of second Renaissance?

By OWEN EDWARDS
Primary photography by MIKKEL AALAND

The best way to buy a Brooks bicycle seat

If you’re the least bit uncertain about committing to a Brooks bicycle seat, there is one vendor out there made for you. It’s the Wallingford Bike Parts Company, in New Orleans. Unlike virtually every other Brooks vendor, Wallingford offers you a six-month unconditional guarantee of satisfaction. In other words, if you find that a Brooks…

Keeping Fishing Simple

Fishing for tiny Japanese bitterling is a Zen-like experience. You hold a six-inch slender bamboo pole delicately between your forefinger and middle finger and drop a line with a speck of mashed potato or a half-grain of rice as bait. If the air is quiet and your concentration focused enough, you might just see the…

Quality made simple, and affordable: The Echo fly-rod kit

Remember when you got your first driver’s license? Odds are, no one put you behind the wheel of a Porsche when a Volkswagen was a simpler way to learn to use a stick shift. Fly-fishing is much the same. This sport can be intimidating enough without having to worry that you’re casting a rod worth…

Mail order gelato?

Whether it’s a comfortable chocolate-caramel, a more adventurous honey-lavender-earl grey, or even a gelato cocktail, you cannot deny the craving for true artisan gelato once it has blessed your taste buds.  If you’re in the states but find yourself too many miles from a good gelateria, you can use this list for some mail-order heaven.…

My Day with the Duchess

The man was having the day of his life—out fishing Idaho’s gorgeous Snake River, accompanied by his gorgeous wife (“The Duchess of Cascading Water”), and a whopper of a rainbow trout teasing him in the depths of a riffle off the far bank. Then suddenly, his day took a very painful turn.

Story and photography by HOPE STRONG

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