THE ITALIAN PRINCE OF PRINTS | RENAISSANCE MAN EMILIO PUCCI

Emilio Pucci is a name synonymous with incredibly chic prints that rocked runways, movie stars, and rich socialites alike during the ’60s & ’70s. (Sophia Loren and Jackie Onassis were among the many fashionable tastemakers to follow him — and Marilyn Monroe was even buried in a Puci dress.) His look was so signature in its modern, graphic designs and rich colorations that you could literally spot a Pucci a mile away. Emilio Pucci’s look became iconic, and lives on as an ever-present influence in womenswear today.

His design talent notwithstanding– I’ve always found Pucci’s personal story even more colorful than his designs. Born with noble blood, the young Pucci enjoyed a life of academic excellence (earning his Master’s degree Social Science from Reed College in Oregon, along with his Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Milan), civil service (Pucci rose to the ranks of Captain and served as a torpedo bomber pilot in the Italian Army during WWII, he even befriended Mussolini’s daughter and aided her escape from Hitler’s vengeful grasp), and was an accomplished athlete who was on Italy’s Olympic Ski team. It was his love of skiing that first led him to design outfits for his team at Reed college. In 1948, while on a trip to Switzerland, Pucci’s striking ski designs this time caught the eye of a Harper’s Bazaar photographer, and set his career as a fashion designer in motion. Stanley Marcus was an early supporter of Pucci’s and was instrumental in establishing him in the US. The rest, as they say, is history.

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1959, Florence, Italy — The legendary fashion designer, Emilio Pucci, with examples of his work. — Image by © David Lees/Corbis

1959, Capri, Italy  — The Florentine fashion designer, Emilio Pucci, lunching with his wife Christina. Pucci once had the guitarist who is serenading them flown to London to lend authentic Italian atmosphere to a show. I love this picture. — Image by © David Lees/Corbis

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DESIGNER ANDREA CAMPAGNA | KEEPER OF THE ITALIAN TAILORING FLAME

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of meeting with the Italian tailor and menswear designer Andrea Campagna. I will always remember walking by Barneys that day and stopping to look at the window (a shrine, really) that they had dedicated to Andrea, and his lineage. I was profoundly struck by the incredible legacy that he is a part of– and is now passing down to his own son.

You see, Andrea’s father was the master tailor– Mr. Gianni Campagna of Sartoria Domenico Caraceni, who himself had apprenticed under the master tailor Mr. Giovanni Risuglia– whose most notable personal client was the legendary style icon Gianni Agnelli. Both men are considered to be among Italy’s finest tailors ever. When I tell him this upon our meeting (like some idiot), he says to me modestly and with a warm, acknowledging smile, “Yes. It’s a good start for me.”

“My father, he started very young. Usually, our tailors, like my father, all start between 6 and 10 yrs old. Actually, my son is now doing some stitching after school. The tailors are kind of jealous when they teach their trade– so they teach you very slowly. What you could learn in 4 yrs– they teach you in 10 yrs. First, they want to see if you’re the right person. Second, they are a little jealous. It’s a process, that took them all their life– and they don’t want anyone to learn it faster than them.” 

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HARLEY-DAVIDSON | AMERICAN IRON, INGENUITY & PERSEVERANCE

The folks at Harley-Davidson were kind enough to invite me down to Milwaukee, WI for a tour of the museum, and their storied archives. This trip had deep, personal significance for me, as I grew up on the rumble and roar of Harley. There is no other sound or feel like it. It quickens the pulse, raises the hair on your arms, and brings a pie-eating grin to one’s face. The distinctive “potato-potato” idle of the v-twin is iconic to the brand, and resonates deeply within many loyal riders who have made their lives one with Harley-Davidson. It’s the personal stories of these cultural icons who forged their destiny with Harley-Davidson, evolving together through the decades, that I love– and that are a source of inspiration and pride to this day.

In my mind, there is no other brand that better epitomizes the American spirit of Independence, ingenuity, and perseverance than Harley-Davidson. Hands-down. The cultural impact they’ve had on America (and around the world) is undeniable and evident all around us. It didn’t start with Easy Rider either, it goes back much further in time.

My mind immediately races back to the early days and the numerous innovations H-D had on franchising and branding. The following success of their notorious and ballsy “Wrecking Crew” racing team (that risked life & limb for victory on hostile dirt tracks and battered, oil-soaked wooden board tracks with dubious, improvised safety gear) further cemented Harley as the one to follow. I think of the soldiers returning from WWI & WWII–  maybe they rode a motorcycle in wartime, or were pilots looking to replace the thrill of flying, and coming home they bought a Harley-Davidson because they yearned for an intense, physical experience of freedom and speed that only a Harley could give them. A lot of those same servicemen who fell between the cracks of what society or themselves deemed “normal” formed the first motorcycle clubs that would inspire Hollywood films, fashion, music, art and attitude to this day. And yes, 1969’s Easy Rider which became the iconic counter-culture biker film that drove the chopper / Harley customization craze for decades to come, and created a look and lifestyle that many would influence for generations to come. Hell, my stepdad was nicknamed “Hopper” after his character “Billy” in the film because of his dark looks, and that suede vest with fringe that would whip in the wind as he roared down the road on his ’79 Low Rider. Two things he impressed upon me– never ride a Sportster (chick bike), and never use your electric start (for pussies).

The point is, Harley-Davidson and those who ride them are a breed apart. There is a profound connection between man and machine that is beyond words. It’s more than a motorcycle— a Harley has a soul. A mighty soul born in a crude wooden shed over 100 years ago.

ca. 1903 —  William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycles in this simple structure. Harley-Davidson’s very first “factory” (if you can call it that)– a wooden 10′ x 15′ shed that sat in the back yard of the Davidson family home. In 1907 Harley-Davidson was incorporated and the company was valued at $14,200. (Rewind– Harley-Davidson was started in a freaking 10′ x 15′ shed?! That’s the American “can-do” spirit in a nutshell, people. When I first heard that, I realized there are no excuses for anyone to not get out there and make it happen.) — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

1939 — The original shed was later transplanted to the new Juneau Avenue factory (built in 1906, and still the site of  Harley-Davidson’s corporate headquarters) as a symbolic reminder of the company’s humble beginnings. (The lesson– Never get so big that you don’t remember where you came from, folks. And never start acting like a big company– especially when you are one.) Tragically, the original shed was accidentally destroyed in the early ’70s by a careless crew doing clean-up at the H-D factory. — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

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THE PARTY THAT IS PETER SELLERS | 20TH CENTURY’S COMEDIC GENIUS

Peter Sellers was a complicated soul– reportedly a violently moody, self-loathing manic depressive with a voracious appetite for drugs and women. His wild lifestyle undoubtedly weakened his heart (in 1964 alone he suffered 13 heart attacks during his marriage to Britt Ekland), and led to his untimely death at the age of 54 in 1980. Admittedly Sellers was not always the funnest guy in real life, but he was undeniably a comic genius onscreen. I never was one for The Pink Panther films, maybe I didn’t give them a fair shake– but I love the madcap classics The Party (directed by Blake Edwards), What’s New Pussycat? (screenplay by Woody Allen), Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick’s dark classic), and the simply brilliant, Being There. He hung out with George and Ringo from The Beatles, and had a penchant for style that matched his rock star lifestyle. Peter Sellers will go down as one of the most unique comedic talents of the 20th century.

1968 — Peter Sellers in “The Party” directed by Blake Edwards

Peter Sellers in “The Party”

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SCUDERIA FERRARI FROM SILVERSTONE TO MONACO | LIFE MAGAZINE, MAY 1956

The 1956 Formula One Ferrari’s were truly modified Lancia D50’s.  The D50 debuted at the tail-end of the ’54 Formula One season, placed in the capable hands of Italy’s two-time and reigning World Champion, Alberto Ascari. He took both pole position in qualifying and fastest race lap in the D50’s very first event. On May 26th, 1955, Alberto Ascari was in Monza to watch friend and fellow driver Eugenio Castellotti test out the Ferrari 750 Monza, which they were to race together in the Supercortemaggiore 1000. About to go home for lunch with his wife, and dressed only in a simple shirt and trousers, Ascari decided to throw on Castellotti’s helmet and try out the new Ferrari. While coming out of a curve on the third lap he lost control– the Monza violently skidded, turned on its nose and somersaulted into the air. Ascari was ejected and thrown onto the track and died on the scene. After the death of their star driver, Lancia fell on hard times and sold to Scuderia Ferrari. Ferrari modified the D50, removing many of designer Vittorio Jano’s innovations. It was rebadged as the Lancia-Ferrari D50, and then simply the Ferrari D50. Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1956 World Championship of Drivers with the Ferrari modified D50. During its competitive run, the D50 raced in 14 Formula One Grands Prix, winning five of them.

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RISE AGAIN LEE SCRATCH PERRY | PLAYING CRAZY TO CATCH WISE

“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 

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

Lee “Scratch” Perry

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

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EL REY DE BASEBALL | ROBERTO CLEMENTE

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

Roberto Clemente is, was, and will always be the standard that all Latino ball players will be measured against.  He and Lou Gehrig are the only players to have the five year Hall of Fame waiting period waived so they could gain immediate entry.  A legendary baseball player– the classic five tool guy, but he also was someone who rose above sports– his selflessness and dedication to help other human beings transcended baseball, and lifted all people regardless of color, creed, or religion.   He was a trailblazer for Latin players who carried himself with grace & dignity– and possessed a fierce will to excel.

July 1966, PA — Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielder Roberto Clemente — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

Nothing was as breath taking as watching Clemente’s batting helmet fly off as he legged out a triple after clubbing the ball into the gap or watching one of his defensive gems in old Forbes Field.  Most will never forget the fact that his 3,000th hit was achieved at his last at bat– almost as if the fates knew he would not be among us much longer.

Sept 30th, 1972 — Roberto Clemente made his 3,000 hit. Doug Harvey, umpire, is shown handing him the ball on the field. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF WINDSOR | THE HEART HAS ITS REASONS, SHE SAID

“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility,

and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do,

without the help and support of the woman I love.”

–King Edward VIII, from his famous abdication speech of 1936.

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The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (AKA Wallis Simpson)— arguably one of the most controversial, talked about couples of the 20th century.  Their affair started while she was still married to her 2nd husband Ernest Simpson– a wealthy Englishman, through whom she gained access to British high society.  The two were introduced at a London social event, and soon she was a frequent guest at Prince Edward’s country getaway, Fort Belvedere.

In January of 1936, Edward was crowned the British Monarch upon the death of King George V. He, however, had no interest in being king. Edward’s focus was solely on marrying Wallis Simpson– the rags-to-riches American commoner who had somehow seduced the now King of England.  Many wondered aloud, what could he possibly see in her?  Give up the throne for– what? Apparently it wasn’t the sex. She’s credited with icily stating, “No man is allowed to touch me below the Mason-Dixon line.” There were also ugly and persistent rumors challenging her own physical endowments as a lady. Shady, unsubstantiated stories surfaced that Wallis Simpson was born a man, and suffered from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome— a hormonal irregularity that causes a genetic male’s body to develop as a woman, but without fully developed, err, privates. Just the the kind of story any gal would love to be the subject of.

And then there were the stories of her affairs, Nazi sympathizing, and shopping.

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MACHINE HEAD | THE EPIC 1972 ALBUM THAT PUT THE “DEEP” IN DEEP PURPLE

Deep Purple credits none other than Led Zeppelin for finally giving the band their focus.  The boys in Deep Purple had experimented a lot with their sound in their early years– adding elements of psychedelia, and funk to their sound.  With Led Zeppelin (and Black Sabbath) blazing the way by laying down the most epic, indestructible and powerful ‘Riff Rock’ tracks of all time– they finally knew exactly how they wanted to sound.  The Mk II lineup was unstoppable– Ian Gillan (easily one of Rock and Roll’s best vocalists), guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (’nuff said), Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and arguably one of the most important elements to the “Deep Purple” sound that truly separated them from the pack– the eloquent and driving keyboard playing of Jon Lord.

Coming off a huge 15 month tour to support their successful In Rock, the band holed up in ‘Le Pavillon’, an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland. Using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit, Deep Purple recorded one of the hardest rocking albums of all time– Machine Head. Apparently the locals were not aware or appreciative that Rock history was in the making. In the middle of recording ‘Smoke on the Water’ the Swiss police showed up– pounding on the door to shut them down for keeping up the entire town of Montreux.  Deep Purple’s roadees were holding the doors shut so that the band could get the track down on tape before getting thrown out.  Deep Purple had to find new digs to record in, and finally came across a grand old Victorian hotel on the edge of town that was shutdown for the season– it was now the depths of winter.  They found a tiny, quirky little space off of the main lobby where they could setup, and that was where Machine Head would be recorded– in just 3 weeks.  Quick, dirty, and epic.

1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Singer Ian Gillan of  Deep Purple playing guitar. Their epic album “Machine Head” was recorded in an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit. — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

“…Highway Star was written on a bus going down to Portsmouth. We were playing Portsmouth Guild Hall– and we took some of the filthy press down with us, to, um… and Ritchie was dickin’ around on his banjo, and one of them said, ‘Well, how do you write a song then?’ And Ritchie went like this– he just went ‘ding,ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding… and looked out the window playing ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding’–  just playing one note. So, I started singing– and uh, we played the song in the show that night.”

–Ian Gillan of Deep Purple

’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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PIANIST GLENN GOULD | REJECTING THE ‘BLOODSPORT’ CULT OF SHOWMANSHIP

“A record is a concert without halls, and a museum whose curator is the owner.”

Glenn Gould was blessed with a musical talent that few have managed to match in our lifetime. A ‘child prodigy’ pianist, he was thrust into fame’s spotlight in 1955 at the age of 22 when Columbia released his groundbreaking Bach ‘Golberg Variations.’ (Gold was his birthname, which his parents had changed to “Gould” over fear of anti-semitism during WWII– the family was not Jewish. When he was often asked his religious ancestry he’d remark, “I was Jewish during the war.”) His rebellious style, anti-establishment vibe, and longish locks also made him a sort of counter-culture icon of Classical music.

Gould’s incredible playing– inventive, unorthodox, and originally shunned by classical purists like Leonard Bernstein, was often noted by a manipulated tempo, sometimes very fast, yet each note amazingly clear. He was also known for his signature ‘humming’– which he wouldn’t allow to be removed from the final tracks over fear that doing so would diminish the sound quality.  His other eccentricities are also legendary– the lone, personal folding chair he insisted on using for playing, the layers of gloves he’d wrap his hands in year-round, his refusal to shake hands, hypochondria, the social awkwardness, and difficulty with fame– mostly likely can be attributed to Asperger’s Syndrome.  By the age of 31, Gould had sworn off public performances.

Glenn Gould passed away from a stroke on September 27th, 1982– shortly after his epic second Bach ‘Goldberg Variations’ (recorded in 1981) was released.  Many who knew him said he was planning on abandoning the piano and move on to conducting.  God only knows what incredible works would have resulted.  Below is an incredible series of photographs taken during the recording of his 1955  ‘Goldberg Variations’ by another cultural icon, the photographer Gordon Parks.

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March 1955, Columbia recording studio, NY — Brilliant young Canadian pianist Glenn Gould listening intensely while a section of his performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is played back as the sound engineer (R) follows the score. — Photograph by Gordon Parks for LIFE

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March 1955, Columbia recording studio, NY — Glenn Gould eating his lunch (graham crackers & milk cut with bottled spring water) while sitting at the sound engineers table next to wall festooned with nude pinups.– Photograph by Gordon Parks for LIFE

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