DON’T DO THE CRIME– IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME | A THUG’S LIFE ARCHIVE


“Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.”

–Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

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Circa 1972, NY– Prisoner reading in his cell with photos of women covering the walls in Tombs Prison. — Image by © JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis

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Circa 1954– L.A. Gang Squads.  Image by George Silk for LIFE Magazine.

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Circa 1993– South Central LA 40th Street Gang members show off scars from bullet wounds. — Image by © Mark Peterson/CORBIS

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All my friends know the low rider, the low rider is a little higher. The low rider drives a little slower, low rider is a real good goer.

 

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Tattooed inmates of the California State Prison. — Image by © Ted Soqui/Corbis

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It’s so easy to laugh. It’s so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind.”

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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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NUDIE COHN | RHINESTONE COWBOY

 

The Legendary Country Western tailor to the stars — Nudie Cohn.

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Circa 1970’s, Los Angeles, CA– Hands of Nudie Cohn the Rodeo Tailor  –Image by © Jeff Albertson

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Nudie suits have been worn by just about everyone who is anyone in the world of Country/Rock music. Simply put, he made Country cool with his one-off original creations that bedazzled a long list of diverse celebs– John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Elvis, Cher, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams Sr., and groups such as, America, Chicago, ZZ top, and the Flying Burrito Bros (Gram Parsons’ “Gilded Palace of Sin” suit is considered the Sistine Chapel of Nudies).  To own a Nudie is to own something special; collected by fashion and music hounds alike– Dwight Yoakam, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Perry Farrell, Jeff Tweedy, and other A-list Rockers of today keep the Nudie flame burning, and even inspired a few of them to create their own line of signature clothing.

The man behind the amazing rhinestone-studded, hand-embroidered suits was none other than Mr. Nudie Cohn– arguably, the larger-than-life 5-foot-7 Russian Rhinestone Cowboy is the most influential and innovative fashion designer and tailor to ever bless the world of Country music.  And he couldn’t stop at clothing– he put his Midas Touch on everything around him– especially his customized fleet of Nudie-fied GM cruisers that he used to promote his LA based Nudies Rodeo Tailors shop on Lankershim Blvd.  Of the original 18 cars, the whereabouts of only 9 are known today.

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Circa 1970’s, Los Angeles, CA– Nudie costomized each of his many cadillacs, protecting his work with plastic. This one is decorated with silver dollar coins and 14 various guns. –Image by © Jeff Albertson

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