December 1969, San Diego-- Neil Young plays his Gretsch White Falcon during a sound check at Balboa Stadium before a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
Over his long and storied career, Neil Young has explored and influenced a wide range of musical styles– but it’s his early days that I love the most. There’s an ache and an angst in Young’s voice that resonates, and his guitar playing feels bare, matter of fact, and honest. Neil Young is often referred to as “The Godfather of Grunge” for the impact and influence he had on the grunge scene– Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain in particular. Cobain even went as far to quote Neil Young in his suicide note– using the line “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away” from Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”.
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…
Retro 1960s Hi Fi stereo equipment and mid century modern furniture– great old Tulip table.
Cozy retro man cave w/ Eames chair, animal hide rug, art, books & hi fi– Done.
Home of art director John Holmes, and designed by William Kirsch, is made entirely from salvaged materials and goods: (L-R) Kathleen, Tavia and John relaxing on a second-hand wicker couch in the living room.
Hey now, I know what you’re thinking…it isn’t that John Holmes, ok? This John Holmes is an artist and Art Director probably best known by the masses for his original cover art for the classic novel “Jaws” by Peter Benchley. The guy was an eco-pioneer way ahead of the green curve– using all reclaimed building materials, windows, doors, fittings, furnishings, etc. to build this masterpiece in the San Francisco Bay area. Being a product of the ’70s myself, I can totally vibe on the look of that time– right down to the biased wood slats and overgrown plants. It feels like a living, breathing tapestry. And can’t you just smell the patchouli?
The home would go on to win the Sunset Magazine Home of the Year award, and was (obviously from these pics) featured in LIFE Magazine. Holmes later sold it, and two weeks later it burnt down to the ground. The Holmes family’s following home (also built by Bill Kirsch and made from salvaged materials) is a famous and renowned compound of 3 separate structures set on 44 acres set above Sonoma State University in Penngrove, CA. It went on the market back in 2012, originally listed for 4.35M.
Home of art director John Holmes, designed by William Kirsch, is made entirely from used parts incl. 85 stained glass windows. Here Holmes’ image is reflected in a living room mirror.
VP of Paramount Pictures Robert Evans studying his script by the pool at his home-- Beverly Hills, CA 1968.
It was a defining line that stuck with Robert Evans for his lifetime, and became the title to his 1994 autobiographical book (and 2002 movie). During the making of The Sun Also Rises, Darryl F. Zanuck came to the young actor’s defense when other cast members wanted Evans ousted by declaring “The kid stays in the film”. The rest as they say, is history. The guy’s a real Hollywood character– silver spooner, totally affected and completely entertaining. Found these amazing pics of Evans at home in 1968, from where else– the LIFE archive. The style, grooming and decor is a true feast for the eyes.
VP of Paramount Pictures Robert Evans in terry robe, sitting on edge of black marble tub talking on phone, in bathroom at home-- Beverly Hills, CA 1968.
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MILAN — Home collections have been among the bright spots in the recession-plagued fashion and luxury goods worlds, so it’s no surprise brands were keen to piggyback on the international Salone Internazionale del Mobile fair this year in the hopes of luring consumers to buy more fashion, not just furniture.
Some amazing pieces that caught my eye, via WWD–
ERMANNO SCERVINO: The launch of the company’s first furniture and linens collection was inspired by the designer’s African vacations, namely to Kenya. Sofas, chairs and a canopy bed were covered or embellished with crocheted raffia in black or natural. Similarly, a raffia armchair had legs made of horns of zebu cow. The furniture is produced under license by Nicoletti.
The Talbot Rantoul summer house designed by architect Eliot Noyes. Neil Rantoul cleaning his rifle on a pull-down bed in the boys' quarters which doubles as a painting studio-- Martha's Vineyard, MA 1965.
I was talking with a friend today about how a guy needs space. We need some time and a proper place to check out of this rat race and clear our heads– work with our hands, create something– just chill with the family. Then I see this image and it hit me like a stiff punch to the sternum– confirming that my life is incomplete without the perfect (but not overly done or fussy) summer home getaway. I mean, come on– this place is perfect, right? Timeless clean lines, super functional, open and breezy, room to roam and be creative, comes with a gun– I’ll take it.
I have to take my hat off to this guy. There are people in this world who dream and talk– then there are guys like Randy Polumbo who are actually living the dream, and walking the talk. His life may not speak to those of us that dream of master-planned communities, designer goods, & fancy friends– but if you’re someone that can appreciate beauty formed from an artist’s careful eye, a crafter’s honest hand, and a reverence for history, humanity and the planet that came before us– then this may speak to you.
Why keep consuming, creating demand for more disposable products, and adding to our planet’s endless landfills when there are plenty of reusable resources all around us? I need to get off my soapbox and be more like Randy– who bought and expanded a home out of what most people would consider trash.
Ah man… I wish I was headin’ to the ranch to chill in my tee pee– just me and my peace pipe (check the pics carefully for a hidden blooper). But alas– no rest for the wicked, as they say. Ralph (who else) has a full working RRL Ranch out in Colorado, and it’s authentic right down to the… well, it’s as authentic as someone with his kind of dough and taste wants it to be. Set on over 15,000 acres, there’s lots of room to lose yourself and forget about cranking-out mesh shirts with little polo players on them, and just enjoy the simple life– in your own private Wild West fantasy. Ah, the simple joys of a humble life on the ranch…
George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom. Playboy Magazine, July 1961.
For fans of Mid-Century modern design, this classic image above from Playboy, July 1961 is like the Holy Grail. Design masters & fellow peers in their prime, beautifully captured in a time that was aesthetically crisp, uncluttered and innovative.
Seeing ACL’s story Cottage in a Day instantly brought my wife’s cousin to mind– Dee Williams. Dee definitely moves to the beat of her own drum.
From Time— A few years ago, Dee Williams, a toxic-waste inspector, put her 2,000-sq.-ft. bungalow in Portland, Ore., on the market and moved into an 84-sq.-ft. cabin on wheels that she built using salvaged cedar, torn-up jeans for insulation and solar cells for power. Then she hitched her tiny house to a biodiesel truck and drove to Olympia, Wash., where friends let her park in a grassy corner of their backyard. Although Williams, 43, admits that she misses having room for friends to spend the night, she says, “I love my tiny house.”