Thursday, November 25, 2010

What We’re Thankful for at the Real Deal Brazil

It’s that gracious time of year again.

We at the Real Deal Brazil have certainly got our own list of grateful fors. So, in no particular order, we’re thankful for the following wildly fulfilling, utterly fantastic stuff:

You. Cuz, gosh, you’re swell. Seriously, you buy our Real Deal Brazil hats, and wear them. You get your friends to buy our hats, and wear them, too. You order ’em as birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Dad’s Day gifts, anniversary gifts, gifts for Guy Fawkes Day (our hat is great at British bonfires!), even Halloween gifts to yourself. So we’re just all about you, ya big lug, you!

Brazil. Lots of hot people there, often wearing little more than dental floss for clothing. Plus, that Brazil nut is indeed a tasty thing. And as for that Terry Gilliam movie – a hoot! Not to mention they sure can make a nice hat!

Woody Harrelson. The environmentally minded lunatic actor saw something utterly him in our atypical headwear early on in the filming for Zombieland, and requested that our Real Deal Brazil hat be added to his badass wardrobe for the film. Then many, many people obviously saw our hat because of wonderful the zombie-slaying former goofy Cheers bartender and, well, life is good.

Beer. It’s good, too. Well, the good stuff’s good anyway. The other stuff is just beer. Which is still good.

Cocoa. It’s just nice. Cozy. Happy. Especially with those little marshmallows in it.

Irish whiskey. Jameson, Bushmills, OK! Goes really nice in cocoa, and is also very useful for making really bad decisions that later wind up being great stories you can’t tell your kids. Especially since one or two of those bad decisions might actually have ended up becoming, y’know, your kids!

Our men and women in uniform. They do what they do so the rest of us can be who we are, and then too often take that fact for granted. Doesn’t matter what we think about this war or that politician, cuz when you get right down to it, our service men and women live the sacrifice. You sirs and ma’ams just rock!

Snoozing. Screw that Black Friday 4 a.m. shopping mess. You can have your hand-held plasma TV toaster-oven vacuum cleaner with wireless remote. We’re sleeping in instead!

Family. They make us nuts, cuz when you get right down to it, they’re us and we’re them. And what could be better, or worse? We just wish we could figure out how we’re supposed to be related to “Uncle Arnie.” That guy’s a total freak.

Friends. They’re like family, except we can ask them to leave, and they actually will.

Pets. They’re like family, but with fur. Also, they don’t require money for college. Just no goldfish, please! That damn Uncle Arnie keeps putting them in his beer and drinking them.

Cake. It’s cake, after all.

Pie. It’s good like cake, except that it’s pie. And by pie, we mean pumpkin. Or, really, pretty much anything else for that matter. Cuz it’s pie.

Chainsaws. Sometimes, you need to carve up a pumpkin really quick, right? For pie. Also, chainsaws can be used in a pinch on zombies, assuming you don’t have a gun handy, or have suddenly run out of guacamole and the undead are all at once making a beeline for your brains.

Zombies. We love us some zeds! Just maybe not in our kitchen at the end of a holiday party. Because zombies just never want to go home when the night’s over. They eat all the guacamole with their flesh-rotting fingers. They drink out of the toilet and pee right in the potted plants. On the plus side, if the party gets really out of hand and someone feels the need to shoot somebody else, or get busy with, say, a chainsaw, zombies are already dead, so no harm, no foul, y’know?

Santa. An in yes, Virginia, we at the Real Deal Brazil very much believe in Mr. Claus! We also believe that the Jolly Old Elf wears our hat whenever he can get away with taking off that pointy red thing with the big white bob on the end of it. Because why wouldn’t he love our hat? Our headwear is, after all, sanctified fabulous. Or, in this case, Santified fabulous! Plus, our Real Deal Brazil hats and bags make for the coolest present you could hope to find under your holiday tree. Find one there, or put one there, and see.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast reruns. One word: Brak.

Warren Zevon. The late, and unfathomably great. We firmly believe that the guy who wrote “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” (and, yes, “Werewolves of London”) would, if still with us today, be all over our Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat. And even if, by some fluke of fate, he wasn’t, well, we sure wear our own RDB when we listen, often, to his genius music!

Terriers. It’s on FX. That Donal Logue is a funny guy.

The Big Bang Theory. Oh, Sheldon!

Snoopy. As in the dog. He howls and hangs out with a slightly oversized yellow bird and fights World War I air battles atop his doghouse. Plus, he would seem to cook a good Thanksgiving turkey in that Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special we just now watched again for the 183rd time.

Thanksgiving-dinner leftovers. Especially pie. Hopefully, there’s a little of that pumpkin still left …

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Real Deal Brazil in Way-Cool Windsurfing Pics, Part Two

Four blog entries back we posted a great set of pictures of Newport News, Va., Real Deal Brazil fan Glenn Woodell indulging his passion for windsurfing off North Carolina’s Outer Banks … all the while wearing his Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat!

We thought that was plenty cool enough, what with Glenn skimming fast across the waters of the Pamlico Sound with our hat somehow staying perched atop his head, even without the benefit of our Real Deal Brazil Hat Hitch Wind Strap (sadly, Glenn did later lose his original RDB to the salty depths). And the dude wears that tarp hat well! He’s got that whole rugged-individualist thing going hard.

But then we got a note from Amber Malish-Sconyers, the photographer who shot Glenn’s windsurfing pictures, one of which appears again above, and we suddenly realized we had no idea just how cool …

Amber sent us four additional photos of Glenn windsurfing off Hatteras Island (those new pics follow the text here). Seeing them was a bit of a shock after viewing the first set – because in the new set, Glenn is missing a leg.

But that can’t be right! Glenn’s got two legs in the pictures we posted earlier!

Actually, come to think of it, you don’t see his lower legs at all in the original photos. But surely he’s got two legs, right? The guy’s windsurfing, after all. That takes balance and coordination and grace and all that stuff that most of us like to pretend we’ve got in droves, but then, there’s actually a reason most of us didn’t grow up to be Olympic gymnasts, or become the pro partners on Dancing With the Stars

In the new set of pictures, you obviously do see Glenn’s legs. Or rather, you see his one leg. In place of where you readily expect the other one to be is a prosthetic, and a very space-agey one, at that.

Glenn, it turns out, is an above-the-knee amputee. He lost the lower part of his right leg in a car accident back in his 20s.

After several e-mail conversations with Glenn since, we figured out that he didn’t include any pictures that show the prosthetic in part because he intended the photos to be about our Real Deal Brazil hat, and not about him. We’re obviously very flattered by that.

Because yes, including shots with the prosthetic kind of asks people to focus on the prosthetic instead, the upshot being that many of those same folks (including, we confess, us here at the Real Deal Brazil) then find themselves tempted to regard Glenn’s accomplishments on the board as somehow larger than life.

Glenn does, after all, make something that most of us couldn’t do on two legs look ridiculously easy, and he’s only working with half as many full limbs!

This is the same guy who also enjoys drag racing and roller-skating, for Pete’s sake. Not to mention that he volunteers as an EMT with his local hospital, and takes the time to visit soon-to-be amputees to offer positive insight into living with a prosthetic device.

So it really is easy to think of this guy as being pretty extraordinary, y’know?

But don’t, he says.

“I am Glenn who just happens to have five less toes than most people,” he explains, “rather than Super Glenn who overcomes all obstacles.”

OK, so let’s go with this, then: Glenn is a guy who’s actively chosen to turn an adversity into both a challenge and an opportunity, something the rest of us can no doubt draw inspiration from. And in this mad, often inhospitable rush called modern life, inspiration is routinely in woefully short supply.

Which is to say that while we at the Real Deal Brazil are normally more than willing to give all credit for coolness to our uncommon hats, the fact remains that Glenn probably deserves at least a few of those props himself!

Thanks for making our great hat look even better, amigo

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Real Deal Story of Real-Life Recovery

Some adventures we don’t seek. Don’t ask for. Don’t want. Yet it’s these things, of course, that often do the most to define us …

This posting from Real Deal Brazil fan Kim DeVoid Colby of Manchester, N.H., about her husband, Rob, appeared on our Facebook fan page Oct. 24, and gave us real pause:

“Today my husband did something noble,” Kim begins.

Rob, we then learn, was recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Knowing what treatment he was facing, and that it would inevitably result in temporary baldness, Rob decided to do something proactive. He lopped off his hair – all two feet of it – and donated it to Locks of Love (, the wonderful nonprofit group that provides hairpieces to underprivileged kids in the U.S. and Canada living with long-term medical hair-loss.

And through it all, what was Rob’s biggest concern about himself? Not that he was going to be bald from the chemo. Not even that the chemo, in fighting the cancer, would be brutal on his body. No, Rob’s pressing worry was about his hat. His beloved Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat.

“His one thought … will his Real Deal hat still fit??” Kim writes. “We love your products and while his hat will fit him again ..., he will be hatless until I can make a skull cap to keep it in place. Thanks for being his number one concern while he loses his hair that has been long for 16 years!!! LOL.”

We’ve since received several notes directly from Rob himself. In one he included a few pictures detailing the beginning of his journey with chemotherapy.

In the first photo, above, we see Rob still with his long hair. He’s contemplating, he says, “the vast journey soon ahead of me.

“As with all great adventures, one must make a sacrifice,” he muses on his decision to donate his long-held long hair. “An offering to those who look down upon us and bless or curse the path before us.”

The next two photos, which follow the text here, are post-haircut. In the first of those, Rob is on his way in to beginning chemo at Foundation Oncology and Hematology in Nashua, N.H., about a half-hour’s drive south of Manchester. (“I am still missing the hair,” Rob writes.) In the second, Rob is “all hooked up and getting the stuff pumped into me,” he notes.

Rob has unfortunately been no stranger to health concerns even before the cancer diagnosis. He’s someone who routinely lives with a lot of pain, suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (or RSDS, a poorly understood syndrome associated with compromised immune-system function), fibromyalgia, bursitis and arthritis.

Any of that would be enough to turn a person’s thoughts dark and squarely inward, yet that’s hardly what comes across in Rob’s e-mails to us. Instead, what shines through is his ready good humor: "If I could offer any advice to anyone who has to get chemo," he says at one point, "get a seat near the bathroom. Man, I was peeing every 5 minutes...”

The other thing most apparent in Rob’s notes is his quickness to praise the folks taking care of him, from the oncology doctor who called him on her own time to ask if he had any questions before beginning chemo to the nurse who tried to ease his boredom by teaching him to knit – “which,” Rob notes, “I am doing pretty good at if I do say so myself.”

In fact, Rob simply can’t say enough about the nursing care he’s been receiving. The nurses at Foundation Oncology and Hematology, he says, are “the Real Deal when it comes to helping others.” (We couldn’t have ever said that any better ourselves, Rob!)

“The nurse who is in charge of my treatment went out of her way to find out a bit about my RSDS and Fibro and how my body would react to the treatments,” Rob reveals. “She didn't have to so this, (but) because (she did anyway), they made sure to give me a bit more of the anti-nausea meds to hopefully spare me the extra pain the vomiting would incur.

“It might be the Chemo and me feeling icky and sick,” he adds, “but I'm getting all sorts of emotional thinking about what I have seen (the nurses at Foundation Oncology and Hematology) do for people so far and I've only been there two days. I still have about 4 more months and can only imagine what I'll see.”

Kim is actually in nursing school herself at the moment, and Rob, she says, keeps telling her, "You better get some learning out of this; I want all this crap to amount to something."

The nurses, Kim adds, "are sooo nice there; they keep teaching me more and more."

Rob is right now going through something none of us wants to imagine could ever happen to us, and his concern for others throughout is incredibly admirable, and more than a little humbling. “Noble,” as his wife has put it.

So at the Real Deal Brazil, we’re really honored to think we’re any small part of Rob’s healing process, and wish him our heartfelt best on his path to his own revitalized Real Deal future.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Family That Real Deal Brazils Together ...

Joe Swenson of Boulder, Colo., has been with us almost since we started in the way-cool-hats-and-bags business, the kind of fan who just doesn't quit. Once Joe had become sold on the Real Deal Brazil -- and how that happened is a story in itself, which we'll get to in a moment -- he immediately started spreading the good word, first buying Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hats and then, later, Real Deal Brazil bags, for family members and friends as well. And at every turn, Joe and his family were not only proudly wearing and using our products, but talking us up, to boot! We could not ask for better Real Deal Brazil ambassadors, and we're grateful to the nth degree.

A few months ago, Joe, a self-described "recovering lawyer," sent a new terrific batch of pictures of him and his family doing one of the things they love best, fishing. We kept trying to figure out the best home for these shots, since we really wanted to share them all. So at long last, after having the kind of a-ha moment that made us feel dumb, since it was so obvious -- The blog! Let's put them in the blog! -- we're including them here, in our blog.

The bulk of the photos appear at the end of this text. And in all of these pics, the Swenson family is back, you might say, at the scene of the crime. Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island's North Shore., where they vacation each year at Grandpa's house.

It was there that the family's ongoing Real Deal adventures first began more than two years ago, toward the end of their summer stay in 2008.

It goes like this: Joe and wife Cyndy, plus son Zach, then age 13, and daughter Elle Joe, then 11, were taking a midday walk on the beach. A storm the previous night had littered the water’s edge with the typical flotsam. However, Zach spotted a clump up ahead that seemed out of place. The thing was covered in sand and seaweed, rolling around in the unusually choppy surf. Maybe, he thought, it was some kind of fabric ... ?

“We expected some old, cruddy rag,” Joe wrote in an e-mail to us not long after, “but Zach found a treasure instead.”

It was a hat, the family discovered, kind of like the Indiana Jones one, but way brawnier. The logo on it said "The Real Deal Brazil." The story of how the hat was made was printed prominently inside. “It was like finding a message in a bottle, of sorts,” Joe noted.

Other than some fraying around the brim, which only added to the hat’s rugged character, the dense recycled-truck-tarp fabric appeared unmarred by its mystery seafaring adventure. So after rinsing the hat and shaking it off, everyone tried it on; fittingly, it fit Zach perfectly.

“Now he’s the envy of the entire family,” Joe said.

And soon enough, Joe had bought RDB hats for Cyndy, Elle Joe and his own brother, as well. And also, yes, one for himself. But that really was just the start, and we've long ago lost track of how many more he's picked up since!

In the note accompanying this great batch of family-at-fun photos, we received an update from Joe on how he now uses his Real Deal Brazil Iguape messenger bag: "I tried the Bag as a Briefcase in my alter-ego life as an Attorney," he wrote us, "but The Bag was too cool for the Courtroom. It works perfectly as a Surf Tackle Bag, it's original purpose set out by its designers, I am sure."

But of course, Joe! Whatever fantastic way you happen to put it into service is absolutely the way we intended it be used.

Our ongoing thanks to you and your family, for being so dang Real Deal, every step of the way.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Real Deal Brazil Hat in Way-Cool Windsurfing Pics!

At the Real Deal Brazil, we get a whole lot of cool pictures from fans of our distinctive, each-one-one-of-a-kind hat. Sometimes, we get a slew of photos from just one person, and then have to decide on one or two of the bunch to post at our Facebook site, just to keep the size of the galleries down, and to keep from overwhelming potential viewers.

But then, every now and again, we get a batch from one person that's just impossible to whittle down to one or two photos – the whole set is fantastic! Such is the case with these shots from windsurfer Glenn Woodell of Newport News, Va., the bulk of which appear below this text. We weren't about to pick. So we're putting them all up here instead!

Glenn sent us a terrific note along with the photos:

"I have been wearing one of your tarp hats and it's the best hat ever. I even bought one for my dad. I have been wearing it for everything for the past year, especially while windsurfing. Unfortunately today while I was windsurfing in the wind and waves from tropical storm Nicole, I got tumbled in the big shorebreak and my hat got ripped off my head. I let go of my gear and went after my hat but after getting hit by another large wave I lost sight of it forever. I searched for almost an hour after that to no avail. So I am going to have to order a new one. I got my first one while on Hatteras Island, NC but I can't wait to go back so I'll order one online but with the strap that you now sell. :)

Thanks for making such a cool hat."

Our thanks backatcha, Glenn, for being such a cool guy wearing our cool hat!