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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PHOTOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM GEDNEY | AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE, KENTUCKY

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Man driving car and drinking can of beer. Kentucky, 1972. William Gedney Photographs and Writings Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

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Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re like me– isolated from the starkness and poverty represented in William Gedney’s haunting, honest images of Kentucky life taken back in 1964 & 1972.  We get wrapped up in our own comfortable little coccoon and forget that there’s a world out there, even today, without the internet, shopping malls, and Starbucks.  Driving across this great country years ago, and seeing parts of the rural south with my own eyes exposed me to a way of life in the outskirts of America that I was largely ignorant of.  Most of us have a whole lot to be thankful for, like the simple conveniences and access that we overlook everyday.

From the mid 1950s through the early 1980s, William Gedney (1932-1989) photographed throughout the United States (as well as India, and Europe). From street scenes outside his Brooklyn apartment, to the daily chores of unemployed coal miners, and the indolent lifestyle of hippies in Haight-Ashbury– Gedney recorded the lives of others with remarkable clarity and poignancy. These photographs (along with his notebooks and writings), illuminate the vision of an intensely private man who, as a writer and photographer, revealed the lives of others with striking sensitivity.

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Boy covered by dirt smoking cigarette with one hand, holding can of tobacco in other. Kentucky, 1964. William Gedney Photographs and Writings Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

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TOWNES | YOU’VE GOTTA MOVE– OR JUST YOU’RE WAITIN’ AROUND TO DIE

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Townes Van Zandt

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“You know when Robert Johnson said ‘you gotta move’ — I figured that out. It’s like, you’re happily floating through nothing– you know, nothingness.  All of a sudden, a big giant fish, they way I picture it… grabs you and… puts you in a form, and slams you on the face of this veil of tears, and says– You’ve gotta move!

–Townes Van Zandt

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Townes Van Zandt

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HISTORY OF DENIM THROUGH THE AGES | WESTERN WEAR GOES HOLLYWOOD

I was in 5th or 6th grade, 10 years old, when I started making my own money. I’d go with my Mom on the weekends to the restaurant where she was working at the time out at little ol’ Litchfield Airport in Arizona. The place was called Barnstorm Charlies. I’d bus tables there, re-stock, clean-up, help out in the kitchen– whatever they needed. It made me feel independent, and like I had something to offer the world. I worked hard and didn’t complain– I was proud to have a job, and wanted to be the best employee I could be.

With my hard-earned little fistful of cash, the first thing I remember buying was a pair of Levi’s 501s. I still recall heading to the local Smitty’s, going through the stacks of shrink-to-fits looking for my size, doing the shrinkage calculations printed on the Levi’s tag in my head, holding that dark, rigid denim in my hands– and feeling a wonderful inner glow that’s hard to explain. It was the birth of an intense Levi’s ritual that is still a part of my life.

The preamble is meant only to let you know that denim, Levi’s in particular, probably means more to me than it does to most people.  It may sound strange, but denim represents all that I consider to be good and of value in the world. It’s  pure, honest, unpretentious, reliable, hard-working, American tradition that gets better with age. It doesn’t get any better than that in my book. The story of denim is forever entwined with the story of America. It’s part of our heritage, and a genuine American Icon.

Jack Benny, Dick Powell, Ken Murray, Bing Crosby on drums, Shirley Ross.

Jack Benny, Dick Powell, Ken Murray, Bing Crosby (in head-to-toe denim) on drums, Shirley Ross. Tommy Dorsey is just out of sight on the right on the trombone. Amateur swing contest, ca. 1939.

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THE GREAT BABE RUTH | THE BIGGER THEY ARE, THE HARDER THEY FALL

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“Some 20 years ago, I stopped talking about the Babe for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn’t believe me.”

— sportswriter Tommy Holmes

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Simply put, Baseball’s biggest legend.  Ever.  Not just a great baseball player– the great Bambino was also an all-around avid sportsman, outdoorsman, notorious _______, drinker, and most of all, one helluva natty dresser.  Some great candid shots of the Babe after the jump.

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Babe Ruth clutching his bat, and ready for action -- June 4th, 1920.

Babe Ruth clutching his bat, and ready for action -- June 4th, 1920.

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It was not uncommon for Ruth to knock the cover off of the ball at Griffith Stadium, what was uncommon was the day Griffith Stadium knocked out the great Babe Ruth. On July 5, 1924 the Washington Senators first baseman Joe Judge hit a fly ball to right field, Ruth ran as hard as he could after the ball that was slicing foul, before Ruth got to the ball he got knocked out when he ran into the concrete wall. There he was the Great Bambino knocked out cold for five minutes. The Babe recovers after Yankees’ trainer Doc Woods pours some cold water on his face. The next day in the top of 8th inning Ruth gets his revenge when he hits his 22nd home run of the season off of Senators’ pitcher Joe Martina.

–Mark Hornbaker

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(Babe) Ruth Knocked Out

(Babe) "Ruth Knocked Out" in a game against the Washington Senators -- July 5th, 1924.

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“IVY LEAGUE TODAY” 1975 | VINTAGE RALPH LAUREN POLO

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Heavy Tweed Jacket has one of the most amazing archives of vintage Ivy menswear publications, catalogs, etc. anywhere. Hands down.  It’s a daily read for inspiration, education & nostalgia.  Last week HTJ ran an amazing vintage spread on Ivy Today – 1975 via “Men’s Club” magazine. The pics are truly priceless– including a great ad for the then relatively young brand, Polo Ralph Lauren (est. 1967).

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men's club magazine 6-1975

Vintage 1975 Polo Ralph Lauren ad

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A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

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Classic Roots

Poloclothing

Menswear designers new and old are tracing fashion roots and embracing brand heritage– whether it’s their own or borrowed.  Ralph is the true master of classic American sportswear, and no one is more in their element at this time than him.

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Martin & Osa Johnson- Safari Film Legends

moonserengetismall

In the 1930s, when the last unexplored regions of the world were being “found,” Martin and Osa Johnson, an American couple from Kansas, delighted audiences in theaters with films of their aerial safaris throughout Africa and Borneo.  Both pilots and photographers, the Johnsons explored Kenya and Tanganyika in 1933, taking the first aerial photograph of Mt. Kilimanjaro and documenting herds of wild animals on the Serengeti Plain.

 

rollem

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