GIVE THANKS TO THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US AND GAVE UP MUCH

This Thanksgiving holiday, give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon us one and all. And please also take time for a special remembrance of the true Americans. The Native Americans who were massacred in this very country, this sacred soil, that we call the home of the brave, and land of the free. Ironic, because there’s not a better description of these very people that we conquered, caged, and crippled. Labeled as Godless, savage, animals by a group that was oddly enough fleeing their own persecution, oppression, and judgement. These beautiful people, here before us, whose land was brutally stolen. Their beliefs, culture, and art were almost completely erased, not for a lack of trying, but by the grace of God. And in the name of, what? A shameful chapter in American history, any way you look at it. Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged. Now go and enjoy your turkey.

The Apache.  Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, taken c. 1907-1930. Edward S. Curtis, a professional photographer in Seattle, devoted his life to documenting what was perceived to be a vanishing race. His monumental publication “The North American Indian” presented to the public an extensive ethnographical study of numerous tribes, and his photographs remain memorable icons of the American Indian. The Smithsonian Libraries holds a complete set of this work, which includes photogravures on tissue, donated by Mrs. Edward H. Harriman, whose husband had conducted an expedition to Alaska with Curtis in 1899.  via

Kotsuis and Hohhuq – Nakoaktok.  Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, taken c. 1907-1930.

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EPIC BIKER ART LEGEND | LONG LIVE EASYRIDERS’ HAROLD R. ROBINSON, JR.

Easyriders was a great biker mag– back in the day. In fact, it was the official reading resource of our household growing up.  Yeah, I read the articles, snuck peeks at pics of ol’ ladies (pre-silicone days, and looking like their upper half had been subjected to major G4-force wind, if you catch my drift…), but mostly I drooled over the mesmerizing artwork of legendary illustrators Dave Mann and Hal Robinson. Hal will always be remembered  for his “Red Rider” and the epic “Miraculous Mutha” cartoons.  What an amazing artist who influenced a generation of illustrators that followed.  Sadly he passed on to the other side back in ’84, but his art will live forever.

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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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DENNIS HOPPER | SOMETIMES IN A CAREER, MOMENTS ARE ENOUGH

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“There are moments that I’ve had some real brilliance, you know.

But I think they are moments.  And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough.

I never felt I played the great part.  I never felt that I directed the great movie.

And I can’t say that it’s anybody’s fault but my own.”

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–Dennis Hopper

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Dennis Hopper, Natalie Wood, and James Dean on the set of Rebel Without a Cause.

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“In the 50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony Perkins (Anthony Perkins) suddenly arrived… God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt like that earlier group – the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts – were a little farther out than we were… So we tried to emulate that lifestyle. For instance, once Natalie and I decided we`d have an orgy. And Natalie says ‘O.K., but we have to have a champagne bath.’  So we filled the bathtub full of champagne.  Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital.  That was our orgy, you understand?” –Dennis Hopper

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Dennis Hopper (at 18 yrs old) on the set of Rebel Without a Cause

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“I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City and my grandparents were wheat farmers.  I thought painting, acting, directing and photography was all part of being an artist.  I have made my money that way.  And I have had some fun.  It’s not been a bad life.”  –Dennis Hopper

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Young Dennis Hopper waiting for his lunch in a Hollywood bistro –Frank Worth, 1955.

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“Like all artists I want to cheat death a little and contribute something to the next generation.”  –Dennis Hopper

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PHOTOGRAPHY OF HENRY HORENSTEIN AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE — HONKY TONK

Jesus, take the wheel– Country music has done run itself off into a ditch.

The hollow Country/Pop crossover stars of today are more L.A. than Nashville. They make Garth Brooks look like Hank Williams. Video killed the AM radio star. Henry Horenstein’s Portraits of Country Music 1972-1981 is a hugely inspiring photographic archive that perfectly captures the days when Country was C-O-U-N-T-R-Y. The artists talked the talk, and walked the walk. They had personality, talent, were characters, and yes– could be a bit corny as well. But in retrospect, that too is part of the charm and allure. So take a spin. Each brilliant Horenstein capture is better than the last, and makes me pine for simpler times– not to mention an icy cold can of Schlitz.

15 July 1972, Billerica, MA — Don Stover was a bluegrass banjo picker from White Oak, West Virginia. He came to Boston in 1952 with the Lilly Brothers from nearby Beckley and they played together for over eighteen years at Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch. Stover had great influence on a generation of important young banjo pickers. He influenced Bill Keith who introduced chromatic scales to bluegrass as a member of Bill Monroe’s band and Bela Fleck, a bluegrass and jazz-fusion star. — Image by © Henry Horenstein

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1972, Boston, MA — Porter Wagoner Sitting on a Piano Playing Guitar (nice Nudie suit Porter) — Image by © Henry Horenstein

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15 July 1978, Boston, MA — Lilly Brothers reunion show at the Hillbilly Ranch. The term “Honky Tonk” strictly refers to the type of bar that became popular after prohibition ended in the mid 1930’s. These bars were a little seedy and usually located on the outskirts of town. Honky tonks were a haven where a band could learn and hone its skills. — Image by © Henry Horenstein*

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TRUMAN CAPOTE’S ICONIC & BITCHY BLACK AND WHITE BALL OF 1966

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When Capote threw a party at the Plaza for the release of his epic “In Cold Blood”, the biggest stars came calling.  But little did they know that it would be Capote’s coup de grace, as he masked the world’s most important faces, in a calculated move that controlled the elites of politics, power and prestige.  It was the night Capote made 500 friends, and 15,000 enemies.

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Arguably, one can say that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” catapulted Truman Capote’s stardom to a level that very few writers ever reach.  It was a work so special, with a style of prose so signature, it would stir literary heavyweight Norman Mailer to openly praise Capote as “the most perfect writer of my generation.” Capote himself would later say that Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the turning point in his career. Still Capote knew he could go further, professing– “But I’m nowhere near reaching what I want to do, where I want to go. Presumably this new book is as close as I’m going to get, at least strategically.”

This “new book” Capote was referring to was “In Cold Blood”, and it would do more than enough to get him where he wanted to go.  Upon its release in 1965, “In Cold Blood” created a wave of acclaim and controversy that would carry Capote for years to come, and make him one of America’s most talked about writers ever.  And a work of art this important deserved a grand celebration that was equally epic.

So in 1966, Capote decided to host a party that would be his “great, big, all-time spectacular present” to himself.  Some might even say that the 1966 Masked Black and White Ball was truly one of his greatest works ever.

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Truman Capote arrives at the Plaza Hotel holding hands with Mrs. Katherine Graham, the guest of honor.  Mrs. Graham was the president of the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine.  — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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No stranger to celebrity, Capote was already a fixture in New York City’s elite social circles, and knew very well how to play the game.  A masterful manipulator of self-promotion, he knew that this was much more than just a celebration—it had the potential to be a major publicity opportunity for “In Cold Blood”, and the ultimate act of self-aggrandizement.

The task before Capote now was no easy one.  How could he devise the perfect, titillating, gimmick for the party he planned to hold for himself?  One that would create a spectacle like none ever seen before, that would hold both the media and fans breathless?  Well, the answer was pure genius.

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Candice Bergen holding her white bunny mask at Truman Capote’s epic 1966 Black and White Ball. — Image by © Elliott Erwitt

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“WHATEVER IT IS– IT’S BETTER IN THE WIND.”

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There are somethings painfully lost in today’s gadget-driven virtual world.  We are replacing real life experiences with time-sucking, technology bullshit.  We peek through our internet looking-glass like voyeurs of some distant reality, where people are actually living life as it was meant to be.  Do you really effin’ think that Steve McQueen would be glued to his iPad surfing for the latest neat-o apps? Or would he get off his ass and get to livin’?  We are in serious danger of becoming emasculated by all this cyber-crap.  I’ve been absent the past couple weeks, not even thinking about the internet.  And you know what? It felt really good.  I can honestly say I didn’t miss a damn thing.

I admire the guys at It’s Better In The Wind for reminding us of the pure joy that can come only from the quest for adventure– the kind of adventures that were taken on more by generations past than the iNerds and Crackberries we’ve become today.  All I can say is we’ve largely lost our desire to live, and replaced it with a need to be validated by smartphones, laptops, and all the other crap that keeps us from the physical world we were created for.  Let’s grow a set, and go find our souls.

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BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH PT. III VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK

Holy Handlebars, Batman!  Regis Decobeck has blessed us all with another installment of old-school Daytona Beach black & white images from ‘74 – ‘78.  Regis picks up where – BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH II VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK– left off, with more eye candy that’s sure to either take you down memory lane, or give you that sick feeling that you were born too late.  Either way — Enjoy y’all.

Circa 1974 – 1978 ~ Another Kustom WTF, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Bikers window-shopping (AMF, not Harley’s Golden years…) Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Dig the aggressive ink on the thigh, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

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DAVID HOCKNEY | STYLE– TAKE WHAT YOU WANT, AND DON’T LET IT TRAP YOU

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“The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty– you know you’re an artist.”

–David Hockney

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(Lt.) Artist David Hockney — image King Collection/Retna LTD (Rt.) Art Card by Simon Fieldhouse

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“Style is something you can use, and you can be like a magpie,  just taking what you want.  The idea of the rigid style seemed to me then something you needn’t concern yourself with, it would trap you.”

–David Hockney

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David Hockney’s philosophy on art appears to be perfectly manifesting itself in his personal style above. In his younger days, there was this cool juxtaposition between the artsy-fartsy, graphic form of the harsh, black-framed glasses and Warhol-ian mop-top, mixed with his rumpled, old school ease from the neck down–  prepster rugby shirt, chinos and battered tennis shoes.  Style– Just take what you want, don’t let it trap you.

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Circa 1965 — Visual artist David Hockney at an art opening. — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis.  I dig the clean, graphic shock of red & yellow against the black t-shirt and eyeglasses.  Simple, yet striking.

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“Any artist will tell you he’s really only interested in the stuff he’s doing now. He will, always. It’s true– and it should be like that.”

–David Hockney

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Circa 1980s– Artist David Hockney — Images by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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“Art has to move you and design does not– unless it’s a good design for a bus.”

–David Hockney

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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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