Colin Nagy | December 5, 2021

The Executive Edition (12/05/21)

On gifts, libraries, and David Simon

Recommended Products

Sagan Stride Men's Loafers

Formal yet casual shoes good for travel, recommended by Robert Spangle.

Drake’s polka dot scarf

A polka dot scarf with the perfect weight for the holidays.

Dusk - CBD and CBN Tincture for Restful Sleep
Dusk - CBD and CBN Tincture for Restful Sleep

A product useful for falling asleep, reusable at home and on long-haul flights.

Bose Sleepbuds II
Bose Sleepbuds II

Noise masking sleep buds that are useful both at home and on long-haul flights.

Original 1227 Task Lamp
Original 1227 Task Lamp

A task lamp useful for work from home setups.


A book by Robert Caro detailing aspects of his research methods and experiences as an author.

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

David Simon's book chronicling a year spent with Baltimore's homicide unit.

Customer Support

Sleepbuds designed to mask noise and aid in better sleep, usable both at home and during travel.

Colin here. As we’re heading into the holidays, there will be an official WITI gift guide, but I’ve also selected a few favorite things that I’ve bought this year.

  • I’m obsessed with this Seebag from friend of WITI (and author of the Kabul edition), Robert Spangle. It is a perfect size: good for an oversized weekender, but also could easily go for a week plus with smart packing. Robert is an obsessive product designer and I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with this. Long enough handles to sling over your shoulder, molle webbing to attach an external pouch, etc. Highly recommended, and worth the wait if he has to make another run. 

  • Robert also hipped me to these Baudoin & Lange strides, which are formal enough but casual enough for many situations. Good for travel as well. 

  • Elsewhere, a Drake’s polka dot scarf is the gift from last year that I loved. Perfect weight.

  • Gossamer’s Dusk is very helpful for falling asleep, and I’ve started re-using these Bose sleep buds ii both at home and on long-haul flights. 

  • The original 1227 task lamp is useful for WFH setups if you haven’t yet dialed in your light. 

  • Scent is highly personal, but I find a lot of things from Frederic Malle, especially Dominique Ropion’s creations, to be great. (CJN)


And now over to Noah!

Thinking of Libraries

If you’ve read Robert Caro’s Working, you may remember some details about the New York Public Library’s Allen Room. “Established by the Ford Foundation in 1958 as a tribute to the author, critic, editor, and man of letters, who had served as a member of its Board of Trustees, [the Allen Room] assists authors under book contract needing intensive use of the general research collections of the New York Public Library for a prescribed period of time.”

Caro was admitted to the Room in 1971, urged on by the ability to keep research on his desk, something not allowed when using the library’s common spaces. Beyond Caro’s Power Broker, the list of books written in the Room is pretty incredible. Here’s what the New York Times included in a 1987 piece on the space: “Among the books that line the Allen Room shelves devoted exclusively to works that have been written, at least in part, in the room are Betty Friedan's ‘The Feminine Mystique,’ [Susan] Brownmiller's ‘Against Our Will,’ Theodore H. White's ‘The Making of the President: 1964’ and Nancy Milford's ‘Zelda.’ Since it was established in 1954 by the Ford Foundation the Allen Room has been privy to the scribblings of more than 500 writers.”

I think my favorite bit about The Allen Room came from this anecdote from Caro:

These writers provided more for me than merely the glow of their names. In my memory, no one spoke to me for the first few days I was in the room. Then one day, I looked up and James Flexner was standing over me. The expression on his face was friendly, but after he had asked what I was writing about, the next question was the question I had come to dread: “How long have you been working on it?” This time, however, when I replied, “Five years,” the response was not an incredulous stare. 

“Oh,” Jim Flexner said, “that’s not so long. I’ve been working on my Washington for nine years.” 

I could have jumped up and kissed him, whiskers and all—as, the next day, I could have jumped up and kissed Joe Lash, big beard and all, when he asked me the same question, and, after hearing my answer, said in his quiet way, “Eleanor and Franklin took me seven years.” In a couple of sentences, these two men—idols of mine—had wiped away five years of doubt. (NRB) 

On David Simon

I just rewatched The Wire for the third time and had a hankering for some more David Simon. So after many years of staring at it on my shelf, I finally took down Simon’s almost 700-page Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The contents are obviously dark—he spent a year embedded with the city’s muder unit—but it’s amazing how much Simon can do with his words. Having only really heard them spoken in his shows, I’m blown away by his ability to turn what was essentially an anthropological expedition into a flowing narrative. To choose a quote almost at random, here’s a bit on how a good detective learns to assess a crime scene:

He does not move directly toward the body but instead walks around the perimeter of the living room, looking along the floor, walls and furniture. For Edgerton, it has become second nature to begin at the periphery of the crime scene, moving toward the body in a slowly shrinking circle. It is a method born of the same instinct that allows a detective to walk into a room and spend ten minutes filling a notepad with raw data before taking a serious look at the corpse. It takes a few months for every detective to learn that the body is going to be there, stationary and intact, for as long as it takes to process the crime scene. But the scene itself—whether it happens to be a street corner, automobile interior or living room—begins to deteriorate as soon as the first person finds the body. Any homicide detective with more than a year’s experience has already collected one or two stories about uniformed men walking through blood trails or handling weapons found at a murder scene. (NRB) 

What Noah watched on Youtube this week: 

Without question the best thing I saw this week: The INSANE World of Sidecar Racing

Desus & Mero on the Tik-Tok Self-Defense Guru

This is a pretty good SNL sketch that I never saw before: Two A-Holes buying a Christmas Tree

Michael Jordan talking to Stephen Curry about golf

I was reminded of how good this lecture from Philip Ball on quantum physics is

And I’ll leave you with: Keanu Reeves has the Ultimate answer for the question of life

Random links: 

The secretive prisons that keep migrants out of Europe. (CJN)

When did Spotify Wrapped get so chatty?  (CJN)

Remarks complete. Nothing follows. 

-Colin and Noah

© WITI Industries, LLC.