ID: William Brideau, new owner of Jackson & Connor. If I could, I'd change 'My totally irrational anger with inanimate objects that don’t work in the way I think they should'

Laste modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013
William Brideau grew up in Rochester. N.Y., and Milwaukee, Wis., and moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College. Since then, he’s worked at a number of jobs in Northampton, including at the former children’s store, Impish, before starting work three years ago at Jackson & Connor in Thornes Marketplace. Now he’s the owner of the men’s clothing store, and says he’s enjoying his new venture.

Full name: William Alfred Brideau

People know you as: Will. It’s always been Will

Date and place of birth: Aug. 10, 1985, Rochester, N.Y.

Address: Easthampton

Job: Owner, Jackson & Connor in Northampton

Who lives under the same roof as you? My amazing girlfriend, Rebecca Owen, and my 4-year-old daughter, Zooey

Education: High school doesn’t count, but it was in Wisconsin, which was strange. I got a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in 2008 (Those diplomas are circular, though, so I don’t know if that still counts)

Pets: Lydia, the greatest cat ever

Hobbies: Not a hobby, but what I love to do most is spend time with my family. I like to make pen-and-ink drawings, but I don’t know if it classifies as art. I play guitar and harmonica — I especially love the blues. I used to write quite a bit, and I had a terrific creative writing teacher in middle school who taught me how to write haiku. I’m really interested in space travel, men’s fashion and style, World War II military history, Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, Abraham Lincoln, old airplanes and fancy watches

Book you’d recommend to a friend: “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck.

Favorite movies/TV shows/singers or groups: Movies — anything by the Coen Brothers (minus “Intolerable Cruelty” and especially “The Big Lebowski”), “There Will Be Blood,” Ken Burns’ “The Civil War,” “When We Left Earth.” TV — “Star Trek, the Next Generation,” “Mad Men” (those suits!), “Trailer Park Boys,” “Downton Abbey” (those suits!!). Singers/Groups: Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Arcade Fire, Iggy and The Stooges, Zoot Sims, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Withers

Five items you can’t live without: Neckties, chocolate, coffee, scotch, wool

Last thing you purchased just for fun: A three-piece suit. I love a good three-piece — when done correctly it makes for such a smart look, and it feels like someone’s hugging you all day long

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I don’t think I’m old enough to have one yet — at the very least I hope the bucket is a ways away. I can tell you about something I desperately want to do at some point: Go back to India. Northern India, Sarnath, Varanasi. I would love to see Bodh Gaya again. I went on the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program. It was astonishing and I would give almost anything to go back

Life-changing experience: When I was 15, I contracted a stomach disease from tainted fast food, and this sickness went on for about a year and a half. It got kinda touch-and-go for a few weeks; I was in the hospital, there were painful tests, tubes — a lot of unpleasantness. It changed a lot of things in my life, made me look at everything a little differently, especially having that experience at a younger age. I survived thanks to the help of others, and I learned a really important lesson there, too. When something remarkable happens to us, whether positive, negative or neutral, our success is always dependent on the help and support we receive from others. Nothing is ever achieved “on my own,” because nothing happens in a vacuum. Our love, our appreciation and respect for others should reflect that

Strangest job you ever held: I cleaned curtains and drapes in New York City, worked as a line cook in New Orleans, and did landscaping there (such as the heat allowed). Once, while working for Geiger Mountmaking, I got to build a cage made out of 2-by-4s to protect a rare reproduction of a Michelangelo statue. It was of one of the seated men at the Tomb of Lorenzo de Medici, and was made entirely out of fragile plaster and burlap, and totally hollow inside

A little-known fact about you: I helped judge an international haiku contest for the Japan Society when I was 14

Dumbest thing you ever did: I split my left index finger knuckle open with a knife once, shaving the bark off of a sapling. Totally avoidable, and there was just so much blood — an unreasonable amount

One fashion you’d like to see return: I would love to see the return of the lapelled vest and maybe even collar bars, both great 1920s-era bits of styling

What really sets you off? People driving really, really, (really) slowly on Route 10

If you could spend the day with a celebrity from any time in history, who would it be? Abraham Lincoln — do I really need to explain why? Obviously, I would try to purchase or steal his bow tie/ascot/ribbon-thing. And that hat. You can’t get those anymore

Best advice you ever got: From my father (of course), by way of Mark Twain — “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest”

Favorite place to get a bite? For lunch, Paul and Elizabeth’s — that pasta special is always so, so tasty. For dinner, Sierra Grille. They have superb beers on tap, the most delicious appetizers and small bites — so good all around

What does your ideal weekend look like? Work. When you’re in retail, the weekend is the best time to work. It’s when Jackson & Connor is busiest, and when most of our friends are likely to come in and hang out and do a bit of shopping. Barring that, an ideal weekend would be spending time with my family, going outside, on picnics and the like

One thing you would change about yourself: My totally irrational anger with inanimate objects that don’t work in the way I think they should

What gives you the creeps? Three things: planetarium projectors, water (being physically in it), and large dark things at night (e.g. trees over 50 feet tall, buildings, monuments, statues, etc.)

Whom do you most admire? My family, at the risk of sounding cheesy. I’m the youngest of five kids, and I deeply admire my siblings and my folks. I’m extremely lucky to be a part of that family, and that has never been lost on me. I also admire my girlfriend and daughter for putting up with me and supporting me

Parting shot: There is a verse from Nagarjuna’s “Letter to a Friend” that I think of more often than any other saying or phrase or bit of advice. It goes: “With all its many risks, this life endures / No more than windblown bubbles in a stream. / How marvelous to breathe in and out again, / To fall asleep and then awake refreshed”

Compiled by Brenda Nelson

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