Wednesday, 01 September 2021

Here we go, dear readers! It’s been a hell of a year and hopefully the worst of it is over. Things are slowly opening back up, social events are possible to some degree, and some of us are even going to be able to go back to school in person. Hopefully things will continue to get better.

A new year, of course, brings with it a new Back to School guide from us at Ground Control Magazine. Will it be the last one ever? Who knows! But for right now, we’re having too much fun putting these lists together. As always we have some well known companies who bring us the goods, tried and true. But it’s the newcomers that we’re excited about as well. 

The GC B2S Guide has a range of recommendations, from audio, to literary, to stylish, to practical, and decorative. Any of these will just be a home run. They’ll make the school year more bearable, yes, but they’ll also make every day more fun. Ready? Let’s go!

Charix Shoes

The company we’re most excited about building a new friendship with is Charix Shoes, and by golly, I think it’s happening. We love Charix because they offer the best in the most elusive shoe style: a handcrafted piece that dresses up any outfit, can be worn casually, fits like a second skin, and is incredibly versatile. That’s what you get with the Charix slip-ons. 

Hand-crafted in Turkey, the Charix shoes come in a single style, tried and true, but a variety of colors. As people who are iwith these shoes, we’ll just give some advice, because it’s important to remember that the perfect pair of shoes is right around the corner. When choosing your Charix shoes, make sure you pick a size that fits snugly and that you wear it often enough at first to stretch out the leather. That first week might require some work, but you’ll be glad you did. Because, afterwards you’ll be left with a pair of shoes that go with every ensemble, for every occasion, and you’ll never want to take them off. Charix shoes are made to last also, so as long as you’re good to them, they might be the last pair of their kind you’ll need.

These shoes come in a variety of colors, and if you can’t choose just one, it’s for good reason — you need more than one. We all have a shoe style for every occasion. The Charix shoe is an eye opener and a much-needed addition to any ensemble.

Fine Southern Gentlemen 

New company ahoy! And are we ever glad it’s the fine young folks at Fine Southern Gentlemen. We live in a world where printed shirts are a dime a dozen. Every bozo dubbed over with any idea — original or stolen — can go ahead and make a shirt. Most of the time it’s that cheap desktop printed stuff, or through an outsourced company that cares more about turning a quick buck than the art involved in the process. Are we going to be fooled by such tyranny? No!

That’s what Fine Southern Gentlemen do. They take their shirts seriously and it’s evident from every detail. First off, they’re silk screened — that’s right! — a phenomenon that’s becoming all-too-rare these days. You can feel that cured ink right on the shirts and it’s a feeling I cherish. Second, Fine Southern Gentlemen uses their own brand of shirts, soft as a baby’s bottom, and engineered to fit a normal person’s torso (not like that *other* company’s shirts). They’re even slightly slimmer fitting for a great look. Third, they deal in original designs from real artists, not knockoffs from clowns. Look through the Fine Southern Gentlemen store and you’ll find designs you’ve never seen before from comedy shows, country artists, punk bands, iconic movies, and much much more. Some of these are even limited edition prints that need to be preordered if you want one. That’s some cool collector’s stuff!

You need to mozy on over to the Fine Southern Gentlemen site and make some new additions to your t-shirt game. Support the guys who care about what they do, and do it so well.

Barrington Coffee

Let’s be real here. School isn’t worth going to without coffee. Hell, LIFE isn’t worth going though without coffee. It’s the sweet elixir that makes life that much sweeter. Forget weed gummies, give me a nice cup of coffee any day of the week. We live in a world where it’s easy getting good coffee, and that certainly should be the case with the coffee beans in your pantry. 

We’re based in New England, so of course we’re partial to local beans, and maybe the best beans in the country are being roasted right in our backyard. Of course we’re talking about Barrington coffee roasters. How legit are these guys? You go to any truly outstanding local coffee house in the Boston area and chances are they’re brewing Barrington coffee. 

And it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Barrington has been at the top of the coffee roasting game for as long as anyone can remember. They offer a wide variety of beans, from different origins, and a variety of roasts. We don’t kid ourselves with coffee over here so of course we’re partial to the darkest roasts available. Barrington knows that coffee doesn’t have to be acidic to be dark. With them, all you get is flavor, and a very robust one at that. 

Take your life seriously and take your coffee seriously. Make sure there’s Barrington coffee whenever you need it.


We’ve talked about the best coffee money can buy, now let’s talk about the best coffee preparing gear money can buy. I have to tell you, 19 times out of 20, when I’m brewing my coffee, I do it out of a Chemex coffee maker. I love a good french press as much as the next guy, and I still use it, but I started using Chemex over a year ago and never looked back. I converted my wife and now she hasn’t looked back either. All that’s left are my folks and in-laws. 

There’s a reason brewing out of a Chemex is so fun. Sure, there’s the aesthetic reason behind it. The Chemex is a beautiful and simple brewing device, because brewing coffee should be a simple affair. It’s also shaped elegantly which makes it nice to hold and look at. But most importantly, you get a damn fine cup of coffee out of a Chemex: with all its essence brewed in. If your beans are dark and robust, or with particular notes, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Also of note is the fantastic new Chettle: their trademark gooseneck kettle (trust me, you need a gooseneck for easier brewing in a pourover). It’s stylish, fast heating, stays hot for 30 minutes, and has a lot of other extra features which make it stand out from ordinary kettles. Perfect for coffee (of course), teas, or if you like just sippin’ hot water (you weirdo).

Like I said, I started using a Chemex and never looked back. It’s the simple and convenient way to make coffee where you get the most out of your bean, and that buzz that keeps you going.

JLab Audio

We’ve been flying the Jlab Audio flag for as long as we can remember. For the money, the sound and quality you get from JLab is simply unmatched. Compare them to some big, very respected names as well. I’m still a wired earbuds guy. I love the wireless game, and it’s getting there, but as far as reliability is concerned, nothing approaches the sound and comfort of the J5 metal earbuds. Strong, and stylish, they’re also as close to perfect sound as you can get. Add to it the lifetime warranty and you have earbuds you can depend on forever.

As luck would have it, JLab has also entered the wireless earbud race and are, once again, becoming the standard for comfort, sound, and style. It’s funny how few companies understand the importance of the rubber tips in earbuds. As the only part of the earbuds that actually makes contact with the ear, it needs to be engineered to fit snugly and comfortably. JBuds give you a wide range of options here to pick what fits best. 

The JBuds Air ANC True Wireless Earbud is the flagship model, but you wouldn’t guess it from the price. That’s because JLab have always been able to deliver quality at a fraction of the price of bigger companies. These True Wireless Earbuds are easy to set up, and sound amazing. They are comfortable, so you’ll actually want to keep them in, and even offer different EQ settings for various occasions. They’re perfect for the office, lounging around the house, and exercising. 

JLab’s earbuds should be the default go-to for both casual users and audio fanatics.


It used to not be cool talking about grooming when you’re a man. Yes, but those times are over. I knew we were ahead of the curve promoting Manscaped, and now it’s being featured in all my favorite podcasts. It took those newbies a while to recognize something good when they see it. Manscaped started as a simple and convenient way to groom your body but has grown into so much more over just a couple years.

Now offer a variety of much-needed accessories that every guy needs to keep their body well-groomed. First of all their nail-trimming kit, which offers a tweezers, scissors, clippers, and file, all in a beautiful travel case which also doubles as a storage device in your medicine cabinet. Then there’s the body wash which leaves your whole body smelling fresh and feeling squeaky clean. Mine doubled as a shampoo, because it’s just that good. Then, there’s the boxer briefs which are highly stretchable, yet feel snug and contouring, and prevent all kinds of chafing. I do extra loads of laundry just so that I have a Manscaped boxer briefs ready to go.

Manscaped has got a variety of essential products ranging from the traditional clippers, to nose trimmers, body washes, lotions, balms, travel cases, and the aforementioned perfect briefs. There’s plenty of stuff here a guy needs to be happy.

The Grooming lounge

Look, I’m a hairy greasy guy, OK? So, it takes a lot of work to keep my natural smells in check. I stick to the basics: bar soaps and antiperspirant deodorants. But honestly, sometimes I need a little extra help. We all do. Fortunately, the Grooming Lounge has those of us who take cleanliness seriously in mind. Look around the Grooming Lounge website and you’ll find a curated selection featuring some of the best body washing and grooming products around. All there in one place for you to sort through. But the thing is, Grooming Lounge themselves already have it all figured out with their exclusive brand product.

I knew I was in good hands when I tried their body wash because it immediately worked itself up to a thick and creamy lather. Let me tell you, that stuff feels good going on when you hit the showers after a run in 90 degree weather. It even leaves a tingly feeling which feels more refreshing than your average soaps. And as far as deodorants are concerned, fuggedaboutit. Why? I’ve been using antiperspirants all my life, because I was never able to find anything else that could get the job done. That is until I tried the Grooming Lounge Greatest Pits deodorant. With a fine eucalyptus scent, it goes on so smoothly and works overtime to give you the freshness you need without the pit stains.

For some serious body cleaning you need a product that takes itself seriously.


Ah, Kikkerland. Would this be a Ground Control guide of any kind without our favorite purveyors of the ingenious. There’s a reason we keep featuring them on this site, because every year Kikkerland seems to offer more clever products that we didn’t know we couldn’t live without. Sure, a lot of it is cute, but most of it is just really practical. And the thing is, with thousands of products (or what seems like thousands) they have just about every area of your life covered.

Kikkerland has convenient and fun stuff related to your kitchen, garden, home decor, travel, tech, leisure, and just about any situation you can think of. Also, everything is handsomely priced so you won’t break your bank getting the things you need. I say “you” but did you also know Kikkerland should be your must-stop destination when you’re trying to get a gift for that special someone who’s hard to shop for? They have stuff ranging from small and affordable to fancy and affordable. At Kikkerland you can make your own periscope, get a basic gardener tool starting kit, get accessories for your pets, get new stationary and get it organized, soup up your bicycle with new lights or phone holding gadgets, get a new terra cotta pot for that plant you keep killing, try out ikebana with a new kit, really the sky is the limit.

Kikkerland has what you need to put the finishing touches to your dorm or apartment. Just because you’re getting what you need, doesn’t mean you can’t personalize it while you’re at it. Your place, your look.

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