CRY BABY | JOHNNY DEPP IN JOHN WATERS’ ’50S HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS CULT CLASSIC

johnny depp cry baby harley-davidson motorcycle

“John Waters’ musical ode to the teen rebel genre is infectious and gleefully camp, providing star Johnny Depp with the perfect vehicle in which to lampoon his pin-up image.” –Roger Ebert. Well said. Depp has always deftly embraced ironic roles to deflect the trappings of his undeniable handsome-as-hell looks. 21 Jump Street definitely had the potential to pigeon-hole his career, had he been a lesser actor.

Cry Baby would go on to become a cult classic, due largely to the pouty lipped, chiseled face of a young Johnny Depp in his physical prime, and on a Harley to boot. (They used a Sportster and K model, both red, that they swapped a few times in the film apparently with the thought that it would go mostly unnoticed.) For me the enduring 1950s aesthetic is always a draw, and Waters’ witty one-liners are priceless. And let’s not forget the interest that was stirred up back then by the young and sultry Traci Lords. It was her first non-nude screen role following her controversial (not to mention highly illegal) underage porn career that was still hot on everyone’s tongues and minds.

still-johnny-depp,-traci-lords-ricki-lake-cry-baby-(1990)

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WILD AT HEART– VOGUE 1991 | THE EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY OF PETER LINDBERGH

In 1991, photographer Peter Lindbergh shot the elite eight of the world’s sexiest Supermodels in Brooklyn, NY for the September 1991 issue of American Vogue– Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, and Stephanie Seymour. The shoot titled “Wild at Heart” was styled by Grace Coddington, featuring looks that were a hi-lo mix of Chanel meets Schott– and we in the fashion world have never been the same since. This iconic editorial spread continues to inspire and awe to this day– over 20 years+ later. The Brit bikes featured throughout really make this work– several Triumphs, and I think I even spied a BSA in there as well!

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The 1990s was the decade of the Supermodel– Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, and Stephanie Seymour. This shot was titled “The Wild Ones” with the original selling at auction a few years ago for close to $35,000 –Image by © Peter Lindbergh

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Supermodel Helena Christensen channeling “The Wild One” and striking a very Marlon Brando-esque pose in her Erez leather jacket and Harley-Davidson leather biker cap –Image by © Peter Lindbergh

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Marlon Brando as Johnny in the Iconic motorcycle film “The Wild One” which simultaneously thrust biking forward into the limelight in terms of popularity and style, while setting it back in terms of stereotypes and the court of public opinion. Marlon Brando rode his own 1950 Thunderbird in the film– a big boost for Triumph motorcycles. You can read more about that here.

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SEXTON BROS & ARC ANGELS | AUSTIN, THE BRAMHALL LEGACY & VAUGHAN…

I love Texas. There are more Rock, Country, Folk and Blues music greats from the Lone Star State than you can shake a stick at– not to mention the colorful and storied scene they created that lives-on today. The loyal fans who were around back then dutifully keep it alive through a rich oral history.

My buddy Bruce is one of those guys. Ask him if he recalls when the Sex Pistols toured through Texas in ’78 and his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. Before you can catch your breath, out come tales of the filth, fury & raucousness of that time like it was yesterday– “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it. It was a mess! He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!” Ask him about Charlie Sexton, and out come tales of the early days of him and his lil’ brother Will playing in clubs before they were teens…then with the Vaughan brothers (Jimmie & Stevie Ray)…and Charlie’s much-loved band, Arc Angels, with Doyle Bramhall II, son of the legendary Doyle Bramhall…and how Doyle (Senior) and the Vaughan brothers own history together (among many others, Jimmie and Doyle both came out of the legendary band, The Chessman) was foundational in laying the groundwork for the Dallas / Austin music scene in the 1960s & 1970s that is so prolific, relevant, and vital to this day. Whew.

These three families– The Vaughans, the Bramhalls, & the Sextons, are forever entwined with one another in the history of Texas music. Everyone knows about Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan, ’nuff said. Doyle Bramhall (Senior) is a legend who left his mark on this world that sadly lost him back in November. Doyle Bramhall II is known for his early days with Charlie Sexton in Arc Angels. Young Doyle went on to be a singer in his own right, and a much in-demand guitarist who has backed-up some of the greats like Roger Waters and Eric Clapton. Then we have the Sexton brothers…

Charlie Sexton was often railed as a Post-Wave pretty boy, which he definitely was during his mainstream popularity. (I remember a few of the hip girls in High School with Charlie Sexton posters on their walls, and tee-shirts emblazoned with his pouty lips & piled-high coif on their budding chests.) His rising star somehow failed to reach its promised heights back then, but over the years Charlie has silenced his critics by becoming a very well-respected musician (his guitar playing is simply incredible) and producer who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the business– Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, to name just a few. And for you hipsters out there– he even played with Spoon on Austin City Limits back in 2010. Will Sexton is less known, but no less talented– and perhaps even the more sensitive, thoughtful musicians of the two. Definitely more folksy, in a good way. (In all fairness, the video clips I chose of the Sexton brothers are of when they were very young, back in the ’80s, in fact. I think it’s safe to say we all have some fashion / hair moments from those days that we’d all like to forget. Go on YouTube to see their current work, which is very solid.) Charlie and his little brother Will went off on different musical paths, but those paths will bring them together again, as both make their mark in the annals of Texas music history for us to savor, and the next generation to discover.

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July 4th, 1982 — A very young Charlie Sexton,13-yrs-old, playing with the Joe Ely Band (which toured as the opener for The Clash back in the day– you heard me right, this kid opened for The Clash.) at Gilley’s, Pasadena, TX. That Rockabilly look would carry through to Charlie’s next band, the Eager Beaver Boys– in fact, the hair would get higher and higher. –image Tracy Hart

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REQUIRED VIEWING | STATE OF GRACE GARY OLDMAN AS JACKIE FLANNERY

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“Looks like it’s time to kick some Guinea ass.”

–Gary Oldman as Jackie Flannery

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Ask any hardcore Gary Oldman fan what their favorite on-screen performance is, and most won’t have to think twice– the loveable, loyal, lunatic Jackie Flannery in State of Grace. Directed by Phil Joanou (Rattle and Hum), released quietly in 1990, and largely overshadowed by another epic gangster flick that hit theaters that same week– Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Due largely to Oldman’s mesmerizing performance (one of the finest actors of our time), today State of Grace is considered by many mobster movie fans to rank up there with the best of the best.

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Gary Oldman as badass Irish gangster Jackie Flannery in 1990′s “State of Grace”

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RISE AGAIN LEE SCRATCH PERRY | PLAYING CRAZY TO CATCH WISE

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“For me to survive, me have to find something for myself and it was like a spiritual vibration, so me said– me going to make spiritual music.  This spiritual music coming– they call it Reggae.”

–Lee “Scratch” Perry 

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Reggae and Dub master, Lee “Scratch” Perry is often overshadowed by the Reggae giants that followed in his footsteps– namely Bob Marley.  Not that Marley doesn’t deserve praise– Perry is just long overdue, and grossly under-acknowledged.  Growing up in rural Jamaica, he later moved to Kingston and worked his way up from music studio janitor to songwriter and producer. Perry’s debut single “People Funny Boy” was one of the first recordings to sample– the sound of a baby crying.  In fact, what “Scratch” Perry was able to lay down on old, broken-down, low-tech equipment is nothing short of genius.  Perry’s crazy garb and outlandish, eccentric behavior have oft played perfectly to his reputation for being crazy– but many believe (and by his own admission) it was more a ploy to shield himself from the brutality of Jamaica’s badasses.

Now, to coincide with Lee “Scratch” Perry’s 75th birthday, there’s the release of the new album Rise Again, and documentary film called The Upsetter (narrated by Academy Award Winner Benico Del Toro)which chronicle’s Perry’s epic songwriting and producing career– highlighting his pioneering recording techniques, and ground-breaking (and still influential) contributions to reggae and dub music.

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Reggae / Dub master Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio in Jamaica

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Lee “Scratch” Perry

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Jamaica, 1976 — Lee “Scratch” Perry (and The Heptones) — Image by © Kate Simon  via

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SHEL SILVERSTEIN | FREAKIN’ AT THE FREAKERS BALL IN THE SKY

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Shel Silverstein– the late, great, cartoonist, poet, author, playwright, singer, songwriter, musician… photo by Alice Ochs

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“Sometimes he wears a beard, and shaves his head.  Sometimes he shaves his beard, and wears his head.

Sometimes he’s writing articles, and drawing cartoons for Playboy magazine.

He’s in Hollywood working on movies.  Sometimes, he’s lonesome.

But wherever he is, he’s the one and only Shel Silverstein–

and one of the most talented guys I’ve ever met.”

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–Johnny Cash quoting one of America’s most prolific and revered songwriters, Harlan Howard.

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Shel Silverstein– Songs and Stories

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1980′s OLD SCHOOL BMX RADNESS | FREESTYLE FLYIN’ & STREET STYLIN’

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Full disclosure — I was the kid with the crappy bike.  No Haro, no Redline, no Mongoose.  Not even a brand new POS Team Murray.  Mom bought me a brand new bike from Pep Boys the summer before 5th grade.  I picked it out.  I didn’t know diddley yet–  I was a kid from Rochester who listened to Van Halen. I just knew it had red rims and looked like the bikes the cool kids were ridin’.  It had that tiny sprocket that couldn’t keep up.  Tiny sprockets suck. No worries, it was stolen.

I didn’t get schooled in bikes until we moved to Anaheim in 1980, and it was all about BMX… and Blondie.  Thought I’d finally made it when I bought my friend’s used Rampar with heavy duty rims. Damn bike was stolen three days later while I played Tron in the local Fry’s.

No, I never was that fly freestyle guy with the rad bike.  But I can still dream.

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Kettering, 1986. via

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Old School BMX/Freestyle –All rights reserved by vincent frames

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“The Condor” Mat Hoffman, mid-flight, Oklahoma City. –All rights reserved by TenEyck Media. via Snapshot from the old Hoffman Bikes HQ in Oklahoma City. Hoffman’s contests were an annual pilgrimage for serious freestylers back in the day.  Between competitions, Hoffman would get towed via motorcycle up to speed, hit the giant quarterpipe and soar. Everyone in attendance held their collective breath until he landed.

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POISON IVY OF THE CRAMPS | PSYCHOBILLY GUITAR GODDESS

Now, you don’t seriously expect that I can post on Elvis and not followup with The Cramps, right? There’s something about a gal playing a sexy Gretsch guitar that makes a many a little weak in the knees. ‘Least that’s what I’ve been told…

Poison Ivy “Rorschach” and Lux Interior, R.I.P. (her husband and co-founding member of The Cramps) gave us a genre of music gleefully known and loved known as– Psychobilly.  Starting out as the ultimate garage band back in ’76, with their raw performance intensity and simple, throbbing tunes– they influenced an entire generation of rock/punk/goth bands who followed behind in their giant footsteps, and are still thrilling kids who “discover” their musical legacy to this day.  Lux is the man, and Poison Ivy is no doubt the woman. Just get a load of these epic pics, and try not to bite through your lip…

1992– Poison Ivy of the Cramps, Tamaris Rock Festival  via

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1995– Pois0n Ivy of The Cramps at the University of Utah Olpin Union Ballroom. via

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | TOM WOLFE THE ORIGINAL THIN, WHITE DUKE

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“There are just two classes of men in the world, men with suits whose buttons are just sewn onto the sleeve, just some kind of cheapie decoration, or—yes!—men who can unbutton the sleeve at the wrist because they have real buttonholes and the sleeve really buttons up.”

The Secret Vice, by Tom Wolfe

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In 1952, a promising young pitching prospect out of Washington and Lee University showed up for a tryout with the New York Giants (the baseball Giants, that is– they hadn’t yet decamped for San Francisco).  The prospect made a decent showing: three innings, three men on base, no runs scored.  Good screwball, nice sinker, not much heat.  “If somebody had offered me a Class D professional contract,” says the prospect– whose name was Tom Wolfe– many decades later, “I would have gladly put off writing for a couple of decades.”  But the Giants cut Wolfe after two days, and he became a giant of another kind. (Via)

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

Recently, in the wake of the recession, Wall Street greed, and the wreckage of Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns et al, the term “Master of The Universe” keeps getting thrown around to describe these fallen titans of Lower Manhattan.  Whenever I hear this term I always think of the man who penned it, my nominee for the TSY Style Hall of Fame, Tom Wolfe.

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1970s, New York City — Author Tom Wolfe — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Cultural Chronicler is another term that also gets thrown around a lot– I mean one well reviewed novel and Bret Easton Ellis was the voice of his generation (I remember I lived through it), but few American wordsmiths can actually lay claim to writing about the people and events that shaped a lot of the last 50 years of the 20th Century as a largely inside observer, and in the process coining some phrases that became part of the popular lexicon.

Tom Wolfe always managed to get underneath the surface of events and reveal the most primal of human emotions-greed, arrogance, courage, humor, longing-and come up with phrases like “Radical Chic”, “The Me Generation”, “Social X-Ray”, “The Right Stuff”, and one of his favorites “Good Ol Boy” which he used to describe the racecar driver Junior Johnson.

Other than being an avid reader of Wolfe’s work I have a somewhat personal connection.  For a few years we lived in the same NYC neighborhood and while I can never say I spoke to him, he was impossible to miss.  A tall man, with an aquiline nose Wolfe was always decked in an immaculate white suit, high collar Jermyn Street custom dress shirt, splendid tie, pocket square that screamed dandy, white shoes, and occasionally white hat.  His style was very much like his writing, elegant but with a sense of humor and irony.  I mean who dresses like that anymore!  Yet Tom Wolfe looked crisp on the hottest of days.

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Tom Wolfe — the American journalist, pop critic and novelist, 1980. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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ROKY ERICKSON | THE GREAT, LOST TEXAS PIONEER OF ROCK AND ROLL

“I’ve gone through three changes– I thought I was a Christian… then I was the devil… then the third one, where I know who I am… you know… I feel like I’m an alien.”  

–Roky Erickson

The beautiful, gifted, misunderstood and mysterious Roky Erickson wiil forever be lumped with Syd Barrett and other so-called mad, musical geniuses– but unlike some of the others, thankfully Roky came back to us.  Better late than never.  We love you, Roky.

Photo by Scott Newton

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Photo by Scott Newton

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