STEVE McQUEEN DOIN’ IT IN THE DIRT | TRIUMPH DESERT BIKE BY BUD EKINS

Nostalgia on Wheels posted these incredible pictures (quite a while back) of Steve McQueen and his Bud Ekins’ desert-modified Triumph Bonneville racer from the June 1964 edition of Cycle World Magazine. Original photos by Cal West. I re-typed the original text so it’s legible, great stuff. Hells. Yes.

“Actor Steve McQueen and his Triumph desert bike in their native habitat.”  –Cycle World Magazine, June 1964

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“Many modifications make a desert bike. Crossovers, skid plate, giant filters, etc.”  –Cycle World Magazine, June 1964

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“GREGORY’S GOING TO GET SCREWED-UP FROM TIME TO TIME– AND SO AM I.”

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“Our whole world as we knew it was shot to ratshit.  I ought to write a soap opera.” 

–Cher

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Being a child of the ’70s, the one over-riding vibe stuck in my memory is that it felt messy. Very messy. Nothing felt solid, like it could all collapse at any given time. Maybe we were all dealing with the after effect of the ’60s free love, drugs, rock & roll deal– only now there were kids, complicated relationships, and worldly responsibilities popping-up that we didn’t feel ready for and certainly didn’t fully embrace. Still hanging on to our freedom– no one wanted to admit it was time to grow up and get real. We graduated from pot to cocaine and hard drugs, and went back to our father’s crutch– booze. Too much.

Looking back on these pics of Gregg Allman and Cher, I’m struck by that feeling. Two messy lives, neither one able to get out of their own way, coming together for an epic meltdown. People magazine, and the like, would have all the coked-out celebrity fodder ever needed to fill the racks at the supermarket checkout lines. Business was strong. Life felt cheap. You better at least look fucking fabulous if you want to survive.

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Cher, smoking in bed, in the grip of a 1,000 yard stare… The Allman Brothers Band (and  fans) did not have kind words for Cher– likening her to their own ‘Yoko Ono’ for distracting Gregg and the resulting disintegration of the group. Truth is, Allman was seriously coked-out and a mess.  His weight dropping down to 125 lbs at one point. His head was all fucked-up from the loss of his beloved brother Duane Allman in a motorcycle wreck. Then, unthinkably, almost exactly a year after Duane’s tragic passing–  ABB bassist Berry Oakley also died in a motorcycle wreck only about a block away.   

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1973, San Francisco– Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band –Image © Neal Preston/Corbis. While with Cher, Gregg Allman found himself labeled a snitch for testifying against ABB’s road manager Scooter Herring in exchange for his own immunity in a drug case. Seems Scooter was busted for supplying Gregg with 1/2 gram of cocaine a day– he reportedly even saved Allman’s life once by resuscitating him during an overdose. Cher stood by her man claiming, “Gregory makes a great villain because he’s taken drugs. They acted as if he had turned his road manager into a drug dealer when it was the other way around.” Most folks didn’t see it Cher’s way. Allman’s name became mud in Macon– death threats were flying and the locals wanted his head. Even the federal judge on the case smelled a rat stating, “the person who ought to be prosecuted is Mr. Allman.” Gregg claimed things were cool between he and Scooter, and that they both understood what Allman had to say and do to escape a prison sentence. It was all cool. In Allman’s mind, if anyone was the fall guy it was him. Somewhere in the middle there lies the truth.

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHER GORDON PARKS

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“I had a great sense of curiosity and a great sense of just wanting to achieve.

I just forgot I was black and walked in and asked for a job

and tried to be prepared for what I was asking for.”

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–Gordon Parks

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Gordon Parks (1912-2006)  – The iconic photographer, artist, director, writer, activist, and musician.

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

During his 93 years, Gordon Parks led an extraordinary life, and bore witness to some of the most amazing events of the 20th century– often chronicling them through the lens of his camera.  Most of us who lived in the 1970s know him as the director of Shaft, the groundbreaking film that featured a black leading man whupping ass, bedding beautiful women– and all without as much as ruffling the collar of his trademark black leather trench coat.

However, Gordon Parks was much more than  Shaft. During his lifetime he was a friend to famous artists, musicians, athletes, politicians, fashion models, actors, and general movers and shakers– he seemed to know everyone who was making history in one way, shape, or form.  Parks also made his mark in photography, literature, film, music, and social activism.  I can also say from experience he was one of the most stylish and charming New Yorkers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

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Gordon Parks filming “The Learning Tree”, Fort Scott, KS, 1968. – Photograph by Norman E. Tanis.

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DAY 8 | THE WORLD THROUGH THE EXCELLENT EYES OF ALFRED DUNHILL

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Renowned artist Chris Dent was commissioned to create a jaw-dropping Dunhill-centric cityscape.

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In this world of endless blogs, online magazines, and internet noise, comes a refreshing and fascinating brand experience from an iconic English label whose heritage and importance goes largely unnoticed and under-appreciated here in the US– Alfred Dunhill.

DAY 8 is the deliciously Dunhill view of the world around us.  I appreciate their seamless blend of narrated films and curated pictorals with such varying subjects as artist Chris Dent’s Dunhill cityscape, the precision and passion behind their coveted Chassis leather collection, and a tribute to Chris Milk’s global collective art masterpiece, which no surprise I love– The Johnny Cash Project.

Just days old, DAY 8 already delivers the perfect blend of creativity, elegance, travel, culture & intelligence that makes the short list of daily reads.  More so, it reinforces that in the world of luxury, not all brands are created equal.  Those who honor their heritage and allure of the past, and tell it through relevant and innovative design and dialogue, like Dunhill, are rare.  Color me impressed.

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The Johnny Cash Project is a global collective art project that you (yes, you)  can participate in.

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“THE DUKE” GOES COMMANDO | GEOFF DUKE DOMINATOR & SNORTIN’ NORTON

One of motorcycle racing’s first true superstars– Geoff Duke, known simply as The Duke” by his circuit peers and fans, was a six-time World Champion (racking up 33 Grand Prix victories along the way), who dominated the ’50s racing scene, winning three of his titles on Snortin’ Norton bikes.  After bringing home the championship three years in a row for Norton (’50, ’51 & ’52), in ’53 he moved on to race for Italy’s Gilera– not exactly an endearing move with the British fans and press, but nonetheless ‘The Duke” continued his winning streak, and would eventually find himself racing Nortons again down the road.

Duke’s racing prowess was a boost for Norton, who struggled to regain their racing foothold against the evolving postwar technology as their single cylinder machine was up against the advanced, more powerful multi-cylinder engines being cranked out by the Italians and AJS on home soil.  What Norton did get right was their legendary shock-absorbing “featherbed” racing frame.  The name was coined when Isle of Man TT racer Harold Daniell was quoted as saying that it was like “riding on a featherbed” as compared to riding on a “garden gate” when compared to conventional racing frames.  Their featherbed frame technology, with a lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase, combined with finessed engine placement to further maximize bike handling, were crucial in keeping the Norton Manx competitive– the mother of all badass cafe racers that are still loved today.

Ultimately, Norton frames were paired with Triumph engines by motorheads looking to create hybrid bikes that became known as Tritons” – effectively combining their respective strengths to create fierce racing machines.

1952– The legendary Geoff Duke astride a 500cc Norton bike at the Dutch TT, Assen, the Netherlands. via

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1951, Northern Ireland, UK– The line-up for the start of the Senior World Championship motorcycle race in Ulster.  The winner was British motorcyclist Geoff Duke (No. 55) on a Norton bike. –Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

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CARROLL SHELBY & THE FORD GT40 | FOUR YRS OF DOMINATION AT LE MANS

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When Henry Ford II’s quest to buy Ferrari back in 1963 was spitefully squelched by Enzo, the mandate was given to, “Kick Ferrari’s ass.” And not just anywhere– at Le Mans, the world stage of auto racing.  The ass-kicking would finally come in the beautiful & brutish form of the iconic Ford GT40–America’s most incredible racecar ever.

Originally developed in England by Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd under the direction of Aston Martin’s former team manager, John Wyer, the GT40 failed at Le Mans in ’64 & ’65, as Ferrari finished 1-2-3 both years. With failure no longer an option for anyone who wished to remain employed by Ford, Carroll Shelby was tapped to give the GT40 the necessary bite to beat the Italians.  Shelby’s success at Le Mans in his own Cobras, and again with the GT40, was not about technology, but by being crafty.  He replaced the 289 c.i. GT40 engine with the same powerful, big block 427 c.i. V-8 that powered his Cobras.  The lower revving, larger displacement V-8′s were more able to take the stress of long endurance races than the higher-revving, small displacement engines used by Ferrari.

Shelby not only ended Ferrari’s racing dominance, he exacted sweet revenge for Enzo’s snub– and garnered Ford a remarkable four-year winning streak from 1966 – 1969.

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Two massive American automotive legends — Carroll Shelby and the iconic Ford GT40. Originally labeled GT, ’40′ was added due to its incredibly low 40-inch stance.

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West Sussez, England — A Carroll Shelby masterpiece, 1960s JW Automotive/American Gulf Oil-sponsored Ford GT40  racecar at the Goodwood race track — Image by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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1969 Carroll Shelby / Ford GT40 MK 1 racecar (JW Automotive/American Gulf Oil-sponsored) with body panels removed.  This Ford GT P/1075 is one of the few racecars to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans back to back– here pictured as #6. — Image by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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THE ROLLING STONES | ROAD WORN, FORLORN & ALMIGHTY GUITAR PORN

When I’m feeling roadworn, forlorn, or the subject of scorn– nothing takes me to my happy place faster than great old pics of guitar porn.  I came across the below Stones’ porn pic sifting through the internets and became mesmerized by the artfully haphazard array of axes.  You can almost smell the sweat, smoke  and stale beer as you gaze at the overturned cans, ash, and listing guitars.

The late ’60s – early ’70s was an epic time for the Rolling Stones, and Rock & Roll as a whole.  It was a time I largely missed (being born in 1970), but feel like I experienced, partially at least, vicariously through my mom.  She was a music junkie, went to Woodstock, worshipped Janis Joplin.

Because of her we had stacks of records, taller than me as a kid, right at my fingertips. Aside from the epic music itself that I soaked-up, the album artwork and liner notes were pure magic, and heavily influential to this day– forever etched into my psyche.  I remember hearing “Paint it Black” crackling on the turntable– the sound of Brian Jones on the sitar lulling me into a sedated state of wonder.  Today I appreciate the Stones more than ever– as through the decades they’ve proven again and again that a band like that only comes around once or twice a generation in terms of musicianship, influence, and longevity.  And the icing on the cake is the epic tales of their early days and ways of excess.

1969 pic of the Rolling Stones’ guitar/bass lineup– appears they were hard on everything then.

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Brian Jones (on his Fender Telecaster) throwin’ some heavy, funk vibe — way pre-Lenny Kravitz. There’d be no Rolling Stones without Jones, who was undoubtedly the most versatile musician ever to bless the band, and easily rivaled Mick Jagger for sex symbol status.  Jones also had a very eclectic taste in guitars– amassing a very enviable collection.

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“YOU’RE WELCOME TO SWIM” #1 — Keith Richards and Brian Jones together in happier times– poolside at the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida on the day that Keith and Mick wrote “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Today this hotel is the headquarters of The Church of Scientology. Later Keith would “rescue” or “steal” Anita Pallenburg from under Jones’ nose, depending on how you look at it– and added insult to injury when both he and Anita (as well as Mick Jagger) were noticeably absent at his funeral. – image by Bob Bonis

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BACK TO THE FUTURE | A RETRO HI FI IN A DARK & COZY MAN CAVE

Listening to music properly has a lot to do with having the right environment. A place that’s all your own. I like the warm glow from the perfect level of indirect, low lighting. I want to be surrounded by my favorite things to look at. And I long for seating that you just melt into and disappear in. And another thing– I love my iPod as much as the next guy– but sometimes there are those moments when you need to break out the turntable and throw on some old records. The warm hiss and crackle of needle on vinyl is like hearing your mother’s voice in the womb. Which is what a man cave really is– a dark, personal, intimate womb.

When we first moved to New Jersey, we bought a great old Dutch Colonial home previously owned by an Italian family– the guy’s name was Nick. The basement he built-out was the clincher. It was like a retro 60s gentleman’s club– red and black lacquer paneled walls, mirrors, a full bar with turntable, and even a pool table which they were good enough to leave behind. I’ll never forget the two framed portraits hanging side by side behind the bar– The Pope & Frank Sinatra. Welcome to Jersey– I loved it. I spent many an evening down there with lights down low, the sound of billiard balls slamming hard into a corner pocket, always perfect tunes in the background, and a cold one. Now I’m in a house with no man cave and going insane…

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Playboy retro Hi Fi stereo equipment

Retro 1960s Hi Fi stereo equipment and mid century modern furniture– great old Tulip table.

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Eames chair man cave

Cozy retro man cave w/ Eames chair, animal hide rug, art, books & hi fi– Done.

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LEVI’S 501 DAY | CUTTING FROM A GREENER DENIM CLOTH

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If you had to pick just one article of clothing to represent pure American style– what would it be?  For me it would without a doubt be the Levi’s 501 jean without a doubt.  It embodies so much of this great country’s heritage– from tough prospecting roots, to a symbol of 1950′s teenage rebellion and everything in between– it’s a staple of everyday life, and at the same time a firmly established fashion icon that still inspires designers here and abroad.

Buying a new pair of 501′s has long been a ritual of love for me.  Going through the stack, looking for little signs that will lead me to the perfect pair– side belt loops stitched directly to the back-yoke seam, side seam spread wide to provide great wear ‘tracks’ down the road, maybe even a little hint of leg twist already apparent…

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levi strauss levi's 501 jean

The iconic Levi's shrink-to-fit 501 jean

 

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To celebrate this year’s 501 Day (on May 1st of every year) Levi’s is launching an organic update of the classic 1947 501 jean.  It’s a reflection of their ongoing commitment to move towards more humane and environmental practices for their workers and the planet.

From the San francisco Business Times–

For the world’s oldest and most iconic jeans maker, going green is about more than doing what’s right.

“In one way, it’s a matter of survival as a company,” said Michael Kobori, vice president of supply chain, social and environmental sustainability at Levi.

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denim prospecters miners


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Are You Smarter Than a Third Grader?

Helping the kids with school reports and assignments is something I’ve never had a lot of time to do in the past.  Or maybe that’s just a convenient way of saying I was bad at making it a priority– man, what I’ve been missing out on.  I’ve discovered just how creative and savvy these little buggers are.  I’m proud of them– and realizing now that I need to be more engaged before the time and opportunity is gone…   

Initially I got involved in the Mars Rover project to focus and guide the formatting aspect– large colorful pictures, bold text, clean layout, and lots of white space.  Cole loves language and order like I do, so I don’t dumb-down anything down when instructing him.  I speak to him like I would to any grownup that I work with– I use all the big words and jargon, and he eats it up.  It makes him feel more on my level, and he starts thinking like– well, the incredible little man that he truly is.  (It was his idea to use different fonts on his poster, and it was a good call– makes your eye travel.)  As he started rattling off all these crazy facts he knew about the Mars Rovers, I felt like I was being schooled by a third grader– because I was.

 

mars rover

 

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