TSY x GQ ITALY | STEVE McQUEEN

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TSY is honored and excited to contribute to the October Issue of GQ Italy particularly when it’s a piece on Hollywood’s King of Cool, Steve McQueen. Check your international news stands now for their October issue and see a collection of never before seen photographs of McQueen taken by John Dominis in 1963 for LIFE magazine.  Ciao!

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Steve McQueen –image by John Dominis

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Steve McQueen –image by John Dominis

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GOT A LUST FOR LIFE | KIRK DOUGLAS THE ROLE THAT ALMOST CRACKED HIM

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Lust for Life was the film that should have finally won Kirk Douglas the coveted Best Actor Oscar– after having been nominated for the brilliant The Champion (1949), and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).  He was definitely due for his gripping portrayal of the tortured, complicated Van Gogh, and losing to Yul Brenner in The King and I was an injustice. Douglas was personally devastated by the loss–  “I really thought I had a chance,” he said stoically after losing. It was a blow that gnawed at his soul for years. Lust for Life Director Vincente Minnelli himself stated, “Kirk Douglas achieved a moving and memorable portrait of the artist—a man of massive creative power, triggered by severe emotional stress, the fear and horror of madness. In my opinion, Kirk should have won the Academy Award.”

When you think of method actors, it’s usually Marlon Brando, Monty Clift and James Dean that come to mind– but Kirk Douglas, who’ll never share their misunderstood, hipster mystique, was also known to throw himself into every project.  He would not only dissect his own lines, but everyone else’s, and carefully go through the entire script front to back. It was often said that Kirk Douglas tried to direct every film he was in– he was headstrong and wouldn’t back down from any director. That intensity was also manifested at home, as told by his wife, “When he was doing Lust for Life, he came home in that red beard of Van Gogh’s, wearing those big boots, stomping around the house—it was frightening.”

Filmed largely on location in France, Lust for Life is often noted for its beautiful cinematic use of color to tell the story, which is true– but it is Douglas’ deeply personal acting and eerie likeness to Van Gogh (so much so that while filming on location where Van Gogh had lived, some older inhabitants of Van Gogh’s believed that he had actually returned) that power Lust for Life.  It was said that Douglas got so deep inside Van Gogh’s twisted pain and inner turmoil that it nearly drove him to the brink of madness, and it was very affecting and difficult for him to unwind from the role.

Looking at these still images from Lust for Life crystalize and convey Kirk Douglas’ intensity in a way that even the film can not.  They are absolutely stunning in their composition and emotion.  They slay me.

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France, 1955 — Actor Kirk Douglas portraying the artist Vincent Van Gogh in the film “Lust For Life”. — image by Frank Scherschel

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France, 1955 — Actor Kirk Douglas portraying the artist Vincent Van Gogh in the film “Lust For Life”. — image by Frank Scherschel

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France, 1955 — Actor Kirk Douglas portraying the artist Vincent Van Gogh in the film “Lust For Life”. — image by Frank Scherschel

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HOW TO MOTIVATE THE MALE MORALE | THE PERSUASIVE POWER OF THE PINUP

Betty Grable, in what may be the most iconic pinup image of all time.  –Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though its origins can be traced further back, it was WWII that really put pinups on the map.  The pinup was a reminder to troops of what awaited back home, and as us men go, served as the ultimate motivator to the male psyche– T&A.  What can I say, we are simple creatures.  Maybe you see it as an objectification of women, but the fact is it kept soldier’s morale up in dark, harrowing and uncertain times.  It also served to launch the careers of many a young Hollywood starlet.

It’s an art form expressed through performance, photography, fashion, music, tattoos, etc., that is with us to this day.  It’s taken a decidedly more alternative bent in recent years with the popularity of Bettie Page, Dita Von Teese, Suicide Girls, etc., all of which have helped to keep pinup fanaticism front and center.  Long live the pinup.

May 18th, 1944 — A variation of the old Police Gazette, that used to keep customers happy in grandfather’s day, is this collection of pinup cuties adorning the wall of this barber shop at a U.S. Marine Base in the Pacific. Barber Joseph J. Perino, a Marine Corporal from New Orleans, Louisiana, and a veteran of Guadalcanal, here trims the locks of a customer, who uses the interim for a “dream on the house.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Nov 23rd, 1943 — Here are members of the B-24 Liberator Bomber “Miss Giving” credited with making the longest flight mission from Australia while on photographic reconnaissance over a Japanese Oil producing city last October. The Ship fought its way through intense anti-aircraft fire and was intercepted by approximately nine enemy fighters, downing four of them in battle.  One engine was knocked out, but the plane returned to its base without injury to any crew members.  Left to right, front: S/Sgt. Aloysius Ziober, Chicago, Ill., Gunner; Capt. Jack Banks, Portland, Ore., Pilot; 2nd Lt. John Calhoun, Wenona, Ill., co-pilot; 1st Lt. Robert MacFarland, Philadelphia, navigator; 1stLt. Clinton McMillan, Chicago, Bombardier; Back Row: T/Sgt. James Ressguard, Seattle, radio-man; Sgt. Donald J. Ford, Kansas City, gunner; Sgt. James Murphy, Elkhardt, Ind., gunner; T/Sgt. Phileman Blais, — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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STEVE McQUEEN | HOLLYWOOD’S ANTI-HERO & TRUE SON OF LIBERTY

Steve McQueen– ironically displaying his signature, perfect balance of allegiance and rebellion.

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“I live for myself and I answer to nobody.”

–Steve McQueen

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Steve McQueen personified the “anti-hero” in Hollywood at a time when the emerging counterculture in America was challenging the very definition of what a true “hero” is.  Maybe a better way to look at it is– heroism is an act.  To live an idealistic, heroic life without fault is ultimately impossible.  We all struggle with aligning our beliefs and goals in life with what is truly right.  The fact is there are grey areas that we have to be honest about.  We saw the good and bad in McQueen, and loved him anyway– in fact, we loved him for it.  He was honest about who he was.

We all know McQueen raced cars and motorcycles, but his story goes a lot deeper than that.  His father abandoned him and his alcoholic mother when he was just six-months-old.  Steve locked horns with his new stepfather, whom he called “a prime son of a bitch”.  He struggled with dyslexia in school and was partially deaf.  The young McQueen soon fell in with a street gang, and ran away from home at 14, joining the circus for a short time, and was eventually turned over to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California.  McQueen later worked in a brothel, on an oil rigger– and was even a lumberjack. When he was old enough he enlisted in the U.S.M.C., went AWOL and spent 41 days in the brig.  McQueen decided then and there to embrace the Marines’ discipline and beliefs and better himself. He did just that and later saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea.  In 1950, McQueen was eventually honorably discharged.

After the Marines, McQueen used his G.I. Bill to study acting at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse. He brought home extra dough by competing in weekend motorcycle races at Long Island City Raceway.  His big break came in 1958 when he landed the role of the bounty hunter, Josh Randall, in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  Steve McQueen became a household name, and his image as the anti-hero was forged through his character’s detached, mysterious, and unconventional ways– like carrying a sawed-off Winchester rifle, the “Mare’s Leg”, instead of typical six-gun carried by other gunslingers. Hollywood soon came calling, and the rest is history.

All this from a kid born into what many would consider a throw-away life.

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“When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it.”

–Steve McQueen

A young Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen in a studio still shot from The Great Escape.

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BRING BACK THE ‘STACHE. | MEN, MUSTACHES, MARVELS AND MISSTEPS

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I’ll say it– I’m a fan of the mustache.  Sadly, we saw the ‘stache fall largely by the wayside over the past few decades as pretty boys seemed fixated on primping, grooming, moisturizing, metrosexualizing, etc. in a vain and sissy attempt to one-up the ladies in the looks department.  Let the ladies be pretty.  Let the men be men.  I say — Bring. Back. The. ‘Stache.  Not the pencil-thin, or micro groomed razor-sharp manifestations that border on ridiculous.  Not the peach-fuzz, thin-lipped scummer ‘stache.  Not the Teddy Roosevelt waxed work-of-art on some hipster who lacks respect and context.  I’m talkin’ about an honest, unassuming mustache that’s there because it fits the wearer’s form and finishes him off– like dotting an “i”, crossing a “t”, or adding an exclamation point.

Now consider yourself warned — the mustache can cut both ways.  While it can add character and distinction, balance your features, etc. — it can also make you look like a total _____ .  So tread carefully, and be honest with yourself — because it ain’t for everyone.  Ask Sean Penn.

And feel free to send in your favorite shots — the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

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Jack Nicholson in The Last Detail (1973).  I’ve always liked Jack with a ‘stache.  Menacing.

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Circa 1970 — Robert Redford on his Utah mountain ranch.  Nobody could ride the ‘stache like Redford.  Image by John Dominis

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Charles Bronson –1970’s vigilante badass who let his mustache do the talkin’

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Frank Zappa — Arguably the ultimate mustachioed rock star to ever walk the planet.  –Photo by Jerry Schatzberg, New York City, 1967

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GREAT AMERICAN HOME IMPROVEMENT THE OLD SCHOOL BASEMENT BAR

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

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Our Grandparent’s generation got it right, man– the fully loaded, properly-appointed basement bar. via here

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Like a lot of us affected by the ongoing economic instability, I’ve had to tighten the purse strings a bit lately.  Simply put– I’m spending more time at home, and less dough on going out.  That said, my penchant for enjoying a stiff drink with friends has inspired me to bring back something my Grandparent’s generation held sacred and all had– the basement bar.  Let us be clear before anyone reads on– this is not about having an additional fridge stocked with Corona you bought from Costco, a jumbo bag of chips, and a few crappy bean bags that reek of stale beer from your frat house days.  That’s the JV approach, and not an atmosphere where anyone serious about drinking and socializing wants to hang. In short– it is not a bar.

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Can I pour you a tall, stiff one?  Does anyone wear a tie at home anymore, let alone in their basement? Circa 1965– via here

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The home bar craze started post WWII, as more Americans realized the dream of home ownership (late 1940’s to early 1970’s being my unofficial Golden Years).  As families migrated more and more to the suburbs, they found themselves enjoying entertaining at home.  Probably because as first-time home owners, they truly busted their asses to get into a house– saving every nickel (they’d never even consider defaulting on a mortgage), and when they finally settled on their dream house, they were truly proud of it, and wanted to show it off to friends and family alike.  Also restaurants and bars were still largely urban back then.  It would be many years before the suburbs were teaming with every silly “TGI– what is that ridiculous friggin’ costume” restaurant/bar franchise.  The other great thing back then– the “politically correct” culture of today was not around to stop grownups from socializing– sans kids. Back in the day, entertaining the children  was what the TV upstairs was made for.  With the kiddies safely locked away watching Rawhide, the adults were free to to enjoy top-shelf spirits, Chesterfield smoky treats, and boozy, adult conversation in the privacy of their own homes– truly paradise on earth.

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Circa 1949– Glamour gal, Eileen Howe, having a drink on New Year’s Eve in Samuel Spiegel’s home bar.  Photo by Peter Stackpole for LIFE magazine.

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LA GANG LIFE | DICKIES, THUGS & GUNS THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ROBERT YAGER

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I learned all about the cholo firsthand. I had been born and raised in NY, when in grade school we suddenly uprooted and headed out West for a new start. After a brief stint in Anahiem we finally settled in Arizona– and we were flat broke. For a good many months we (mom, stepdad, sis, myself, and our Doberman pup) lived in a tent out in the alien desert north of Phoenix.

When the family finally scraped up enough money through my mom waiting tables at some greasy spoon and my stepdad running screw machines, we rented a rundown, roach-infested 2 bedroom trailer in Glendale, AZ.  I’ll never forget that place as long as I live.  The trailer park was directly across the street from the Glendale High School. It was anchored by an old, once-stately mansion that was cut-up into cheap apartments, and was surrounded by a sad assembly of rundown trailers and a couple white-washed shack homes.

It was the first time in my life that as a White, I was a minority– and boy did I stand out. I was a lanky stick with shoulder length, fiery red hair that I wore parted down the middle, and to top it off I also wore glasses. This was before the days of designer frames, people. I don’t think there was such a thing as cool glasses back then. I felt like I had a bull’s-eye painted on my forehead. I was fresh meat in a school of tough-ass kids who looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.  The guys all wore pressed Dickies khaki pants, white tees, and hi-top white Chuck Taylors. The uniform didn’t change, except come winter a large untucked flannel shirt, also pressed, and buttoned up to the neck was added to the ensemble. They looked as foreign to me as I must’ve to them. And the funky music, well I’d never heard anything like it– man, I still have Rick James’ “Give It To Me, Baby” ringin’ in my ears…

I quickly learned that if you start runnin’, you’ll be runnin’ the rest of your life. Better to stand and fight– even if you get your ass beat, you can still look yourself in the mirror, and maybe even gain a little respect. Soon enough I’d hear them say in the halls that I was ok– I put up a good fight. Damn if it wasn’t the roughest school year of my life– but I wouldn’t trade those days, even if I could. The cholo brothers taught me to stand up and not take any crap off of no one. I don’t by any means advocate breakin’ the law, but I do advocate findin’ your voice and letting the world feel the weight of who you are.

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“I DON’T WANT ANYBODY IN HERE WITHOUT COATS AND TIES,” SINATRA SNAPPED.

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From the archives of Esquire magazine, featured in their 70th anniversary issue–

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In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra — his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on — and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism — a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era’s most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself. Here are a few choice excerpts from the original Esquire story– a link to the epic piece in its entirety, after the jump.

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Early 1960s, LA — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis.

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I‘m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel.”

–Frank Sinatra

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Frank Sinatra, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing; he had been silent during much of the evening, except now in this private club in Beverly Hills he seemed even more distant, staring out through the smoke and semidarkness into a large room beyond the bar where dozens of young couples sat huddled around small tables or twisted in the center of the floor to the clamorous clang of folk-rock music blaring from the stereo. The two blondes knew, as did Sinatra’s four male friends who stood nearby, that it was a bad idea to force conversation upon him when he was in this mood of sullen silence, a mood that had hardly been uncommon during this first week of November, a month before his fiftieth birthday.

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Hyannis Port, MA, Circa 1965–  Singer Frank Sinatra with then actress girlfriend Mia Farrow on deck of the yacht, Southern Breeze.  His look implies “Hit the road, Mac.”  –photo by Bill Eppridge for LIFE.

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Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra — A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.

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Dec 26th, 1976, Terrytown, NK —  Frank Sinatra is shown in his dressing room at Westchester Premier Theater in Sept. 1976 with (L-R, standing): Gregory DePalma, a defendant in the case; Sinatra; defendant Thomas Marson who was severed from the trial because of poor health; the late Carlo Gambino; and Jimmy (the Weasel) Fratiano.  Kneeling in front is defendant Richard Fusco. Others in the picture were hidden under to bolster the testimony of its key witness. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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JOHNNY CASH | RIDIN’ THE RAILS

In “Walk the Line,” June Carter refers to Johnny Cash’s voice as “Steady like a train, sharp like a razor.”

Amen, sister.  When I think of Johnny, without fail I’ll get an image in my head of an old steam train– big, black, strong & steady.  And of course that classic Cash chicka-boom rhythm sounds just like a trusty ol’ train a rollin’ round the bend, and right on time– so reliable, you could set your watch to it.  Yeah, Johnny Cash sang a lot about trains, prison and hard times– and we all know through his epic lyrics that the beauty of the train is that it represents the freedom of leaving the past behind.  All that crap that you just need to separate yourself from with miles and miles of railroad track and dust. A new start, a second chance.

There’s also something lonely and soulful about a train ride– staring out as the barren landscape goes drifting by.  It’s just you and that train.  It holds you there firmly, with nothin’ to distract you from who and what you’re leaving behind– as the soothing click of the rails beneath your feet reminds you that soon it’ll all be long gone.

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GREATEST RIVALRY IN ALL OF SPORTS | THE ARMY VS. NAVY FOOTBALL GAME

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

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The first reported kidnapping of "Bill the goat" was perpetrated one week before the Army-Navy football game of '53. West Point cadets snuck onto the Annapolis grounds, assisted by a West Point exchange student living at the Naval Academy. After locating the goat behind the stadium, the cadets stashed "Bill" in the back of a convertible-- however, their cover was blown when the goat's horns shredded the car's top. The cadets successfully made it back to West Point and presented the goat to the entire Corps at a raucous dinnertime pep rally-- however, many Navy midshipmen refused to resume classes until "Bill" was returned. After the goat's return was ordered by officials from West Point (as well as President Dwight D. Eisenhower himself, a West Point grad), the Army cadets staged a mass protest which was posted on the front page of several New York papers as "Goat Rebellion at West Point." The Army football team went on to defeat Navy 20-7.

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"Billy" the goat, under the watchful eye of Naval Academy caretakers.

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Every year since 1890, the Navy Midshipmen and Army Cadets meet in the cold of Early December, to play one of the great games in all of American sports.  I’m hard-pressed to think of any other rivalry in all of sports extending that far back, with as much history, sentiment and anticipation as Army-Navy.

While the football fortunes of both service academies have risen and fallen– the grace, tradition, and style of this game endures.

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Original caption, November 1923-- This photo shows the Navy goat and the Army mule wishing each other good luck, in their own peculiar language, before the game. --- Image by © Bettmann. In 1899, at the Army-Navy Game, the Navy football team appeared with a mascot, a handsome if smelly goat. Army fans looked hastily for a mascot of their own. The Army mule was already legendary for its roughness and endurance, so the mule was obvious. A quartermaster in Philadelphia stopped a passing ice truck, and the big white mule pulling it became the first Army mascot. Dolled up in leggings, a collar and a gray blanket, with black gold and gray streamers fluttering from his ears, this mule met the Navy goat and - according to West Point legend - "hoisted that astonished goat toward the Navy stands to the delight of the laughing crowd." Army won the game too, 17-5. --via The Army Football Club.

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1912 -- The Army Mule at Army-Navy Football Game -- Image by © Bettmann.

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