I was pretty stoked when Doug Gunn sent me a copy of — Vintage Menswear — A Collection from the Vintage Showroom — as I’ve long been an admirer. Being in the menswear trade myself, London has always been a favorite stop for inspiration, and there’s no better place to be inspired than The Vintage Showroom. The collection is insane and beautifully presented, covering everything from academia, sporting, hunting, motoring, military wear, workwear, denim– it’s no surprise that they are one of the most complete and prestigious vintage dealers in the world. Of special interest to me are all things related to motoring as you see below including vintage leathers, Barbour, Belstaff, etc., and all the great snippets of the history, construction, and function behind the pieces.


CHAMPION CAR CLUB JACKET, 1950s– “This is a simple, zip-up cotton jacket with fish-eye buttons at the cuffs and a short collar. What it signifies, however, is so much more. The hand-embroidered, chain-stitched imagery on its back places it squarely in the 1950s, at the height of the hot-rodding craze in the US. Hot-rodding was said to have been driven by young men returning from service abroad after World War II who had technical knowledge, time on their hands, and the habit of spending long days in male, if not macho, company. Rebuilding and boosting cars for feats of both spectacle and speed — often 1930s Ford Model Ts, As and Bs, stripped of extraneous parts, engines tuned or replaced, tires beefed up for better traction, and a show-stopping paint job as the final touch — became an issue of social status among hot-rodding’s participants. This status was expressed through clothing too. There were the ‘hot-rodders’ of the 1930s, when car modification for racing across dry lakes in California was more an innovative sport than a subculture, complete with the Southern California Timing Association of 1937 providing ‘official’ sanction. But by the 1950s, hot-rodding was a style too.  decade later it was, as many niche tastes are, commercialized and mainstream, with car design showing hot-rod traits.”  –Vintage Menswear, Douglas Gunn, Roy Luckett& Josh Sims

Continue reading


Photographer Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball), and poet Sorez the Scribe’s “Living The Life” is an honest and straight-up look into the old school biker lifestyle (fetishized by many youngins today) that’s so achingly gritty and real– it has every newbie with a murdered-out custom and a half helmet tripping over each other trying to co-opt its badass-ery. Q-Ball’s images make you feel like a fly on the wall– knee deep in the mud, the blood, and the beer. And Sorez’s biker poetry throttles, brakes, and pulls no punches. Together they create a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. I have a prized copy, and I can tell you that the pics and poetry are priceless if you dig this stuff.

Q-Ball himself was kind enough to hand-select several favorite images from the book, as well as share his colorful commentary and recollections behind each one, for us all here at TSY to enjoy.

From “Living the Life” foreward: “For years I have been encouraged to compile a book of these images. I hesitated pursuing a book because I did not want to explain, or analyze my photos. The thrust of this book is a collection of my biker photography accompanied by compatible Sorez’s biker poems. ‘Living the Life’ is a personal view of a biker’s existence. Allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions from the material presented. It is not my intention to stereotype the folks in my photographs. This is because all bikers are not alike, but share the same contempt for being categorized.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

“Dirt That Moves MC”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “The name of my old club “Dirt That Moves MC” was earned honestly by two of the founding members. After spending a month on the road with little more than the clothes on their back, and sleeping where ever they fell down, they pulled into a Harley-Davidson dealership. It was raining buckets and they were looking for some shelter and free hot coffee. As they walked across the showroom floor dripping puddles of muddy water, someone behind the counter said, “Well, here comes dirt that moves”. With that a club was born. We wore the name proudly, and fought to keep its honor. We were an unorganized band of tightly bonded brothers, and damn proud of it.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

“Dirt Drags”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “One of my crew’s favorite runs was the Dirt Drags. It was an all day adventure getting there, and a long time before we got home. While we were there we excelled at getting drunk, falling down and getting dirty after all we had a reputation to uphold. One of the events we won nearly every year was piling on a bike, and seeing how far you could ride before breaking bones. The reason we did so well? We practiced all year long at getting drunk and breaking bones.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

Continue reading


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

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

Continue reading



Back in October I ran a piece inspired by my trip to the Harley-Davidson museum and storied archives where I was given a personal tour by their archivist extraordinaire, Bill Jackson. I never posted the complete story, rather referring readers to visit Harley-Davidson’s The Ridebook a site described as “The riding manual from the voice of those few who cherish the search for a new scenery with the wind in their face. A glimpse into a stripped down lifestyle, free of the clutter and filled with style, quality, and the essentials.” There are some great shots and stories that deserve to have a home on TSY now that The Ridebook project is complete. Having grown up with H-D’s and the biker culture, I was honored to be chosen to contribute.

One nagging question that I still have is – how is Harley-Davidson connecting with the new generation of riders out there? Have they stayed relevant as a brand, do they continue to innovate (don’t say V-Rod), and do they have the same hunger and tenacity that got them where they are, and what will the history books say about this chapter of Harley’s history? After writing this piece I heard from a lot of disenfranchised folks out there that view H-D as a sad imitation of its former self. One heartfelt rant really took them to task– “What Harley ‘Was’ and what Harley ‘Is’ today are two entirely different things. They used to be Motorcycles. Now they’re fashion accessories. They used to be the innovators. Now they’re a Sad Parody/Pastiche of their former selves. They used to be about selling Motorcycles. Now they’re about selling a ‘Lifestyle’… And they USED to be all built in the good ol’ USA (albeit with overseas sourced parts here and there). Now Harley-Davidson has committed the Ultimate Treason, building complete Motorcycles in India of all places. Toss that last fact in along with ‘The Company’ screwing Eric Buell, the last of the true American M/C innovators and Geniuses, and I’m sorry to say that as an American there isn’t a Hell of a lot to be proud of, or brag about the Harley-Davidson of today.”  Strong words, but he wasn’t alone.

H-D was the badass bike back in the day. If you rode a Harley– you were not to be messed with. Now if you’re on a Harley, you may just be another fat, old, rich, white dude. It’s a sea of ol’ Fat Boys riding Fat Boys out there. (No offense, I’m getting there my own damn self.) One golden rule of branding is to not grow old with your customer, because when he dies you do too. Has Harley-Davidson done a good job of staying relevant and innovative? I know lots of guys who are nostalgic for the brand and love to rebuild the old Panheads, Knuckles, and Shovels who wouldn’t touch a new Harley. How much of the greatness was Harley-Davidson the machine, and how much of it was the the hardcore spirit of the lifestyle (vs. today’s hobbyists) that made it great. When I really stop and think about it– it was the guys on the bikes, more than the bikes themselves, that made Harley-Davidson a badass brand. I don’t remember a lot of stock Harleys ridden by bikers back then. Lots of chopping and customization was going on. It was the spirit of the rider that made it what it is. Always has. So does Harley still draw that same hardcore spirit of independence and individuality? Maybe that lifestyle (and chapter in Harley’s past) was a moment in time that will never be again, and the comparisons are unfair and just need to stop. I’d love to hear from the riders out there– speak up.

1920 — Ray Weishaar is seen above with the famous team Harley-Davidson “hog” mascot on the tank of his bike. (That pad on the gas tank was for Ray’s comfort while racing– not the pig’s.) The ones originally responsible for harley-Davidson’s “HOG” handle were a roughneck group of farm boys that rode for the H-D racing team back in the 1910s-1920s who took their little pig mascot “Johnny” on a victory lap after the 1920 Marion race victory–- giving them the name “Hog Boys.”  They deserve a great deal of respect– like I said, more than one paid the ultimate price and left it all on the track for the sport that was their life– racing motorcycles. These guys also had their careers interrupted by our great country’s call to serve in WWI. More than likely, many of us today cannot begin to fathom the depth of their personal commitment and sacrifices. In the early days, Harley-Davidson fiercely frowned on motorcycle racing– feeling that the danger and mayhem was bad for brand image. Over time they changed their stance on racing (as any businessman would), when they saw it draw new customers into the dealerships and adopted the sentiment– “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.” — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

Continue reading


Matt Smith & JP check out a ’65 Triumph Bonneville T120C rebuild at Matt’s shop Quaker City Motor Works in West Chester, PA. –Image by Ashley Smalley

My Friend, Matt Smith, vintage Brit bike restorer at Quaker City City Motor WorksSmoke and Throttle, has joined forces with some very impressive talent–  avid motorcycle collector and racer John Lawless, ex-dirt bike racer and experienced filmmaker Ed Buffman, and former director and editor at NBC Shel Brown. The result is this great little trailer for a television show being pitched that Matt would host, called– “Retro Moto”. I’m really excited about it because it’s exactly the kind of show I’d want to watch– all about classic bikes, their history, and the people who love to ride ’em. Check it out after the jump and let us know what you think.


Continue reading


Our friends over at  R E L I C  put together a nice little short on the guys that run Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s own Tomcats Barbershop. It’s a place where you can roll up on your Harley, and step in for a period-perfect ’40s or ’50s barbershop haircut by a guy who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

The film was produced in collaboration with the Harley-Davidson Ridebook and pays tribute to the great American brand that, “…impacted the early identity of American culture in everything from the way people began to dress to how they wore their hair…” Amen.


Continue reading


Times sure have changed.  Playing “Cowboys & Indians” outside has been replaced with playing “Halo” or “Call of Duty” in a darkened room.  Heck, it’s probably so politically incorrect to even mention “Cowboys & Indians” that someone somewhere is having a tizzy.  The American cowboy is an icon of grit, honor, independence and masculinity.  Hard work, long days, and little pay except for the open sky, a horse to ride, a hot meal and a drink or two to wet your whistle.  Maybe even a dance with a pretty girl if yer’ lucky– and don’t stink to high heaven.

The 1910s – 1930s saw the Wild West American lifestyle move largely from a way of life, to ever-increasing faded memories and mythology.  Our country was getting smaller. Technology and transportation were ushering in a new era of industrialized cities and advanced accessibility.  The real jean-wearin’ cowboy lifestyle of days past were kept alive over the decades largely through the Western fashions worn by the stars of silver screen and music.

These images are some of my favorite captures of the American cowboy at the very end of his reign– many not surprisingly taken by LIFE photography giants like Loomis Dean, and Ralph Crane to name a few. Some, unfortunately, are uncredited.  If you know the pic, give me a shout  so I can give the photographer their due, please.


circa 1934– “Rear view of a man wearing chaps and spurs”  –Photo McCormic Co., Amarillo, Texas.

Lubbock, TX, 1940– Matador, A Texas Ranch: Seven cowboys sitting along corral fence draped w. their chaps (which they don’t wear while not working), as they wait for brand irons to heat up during cattle roundup at Matador Ranch, the second largest in the state.  –photo by Hansel Mieth

Continue reading