“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.


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


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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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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Chopper bike

1970s Homemade chopper bike-- love the pack of smokes tucked just within reach on the forks.


Back in the day, you most likely graduated from your Schwinn Stingray straight to a 10-speed– the big leagues, baby. Maybe there was something in-between, a hand-me-down 3-speed or 5-speed– but more than likely you just made the big jump.  I remember some pretty crafty adaptions– like wood blocks taped to the pedals to get you over the hump until you grew into the bigger bike.

And there were always guys like our friend above– that guy whose old man or older brother was a welder, or maybe he was a metal shop junkie himself.  Anyway, he’d build some crazy bike, and it’d become his signature– he’d be that guy with the wild ride.  The two would become inseparable in your mind– even years later when the bike was long gone.  The guy had to have a mustache too– that was like an unwritten rule.  You just couldn’t have a wild bike guy without the ‘stache– it wouldn’t work.

Man, those were the days– not like today.  It wasn’t like most teenagers had cars, the way it seems now. If you were lucky, you got to drive an old family car that maybe you even shared with your siblings.   Spoiled kids got cars, the rest of us dealt with getting rides, pedaling our bikes– or we busted our humps at a job to buy a used car. You didn’t get everything handed to you then– we called it character building. Today it’s all about immediate gratification and convenience, for the kids– and the parents who don’t have the time or interest to mold their kids.  Maybe that’s one reason personal character is becoming scarce.  Nobody wants to bother with learning or earning.  Just give it to me.


Love this shot-- California chill beach style at its best.  Schwinn ten-speeds ruled back in the day.

Love this shot-- 1970s California chill beach style at its best. Makes me want to throw-on a pair of OP shorts and head for the beach on my Schwinn.


Criusing on an old Schwinn ten spped bike.  I remember everyone turning their handlebars back like that-- or flipping them around completely.

1970s California criusin' on an old Schwinn ten speed bike. I remember everyone turning their handlebars back like that-- or flipping them around completely. He kinda looks like a young Tom Cruise.


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VP of Paramount Pictures Robert Evans studying his script by the pool at his home-- Beverly Hills, CA 1968.

VP of Paramount Pictures Robert Evans studying his script by the pool at his home-- Beverly Hills, CA 1968.



It was a defining line that stuck with Robert Evans for his lifetime, and became the title to his 1994 autobiographical book (and 2002 movie). During the making of The Sun Also Rises, Darryl F. Zanuck came to the young actor’s defense when other cast members wanted Evans ousted by declaring “The kid stays in the film”. The rest as they say, is history. The guy’s a real Hollywood character– silver spooner, totally affected and completely entertaining. Found these amazing pics of Evans at home in 1968, from where else– the LIFE archive.  The style, grooming and decor is a true feast for the eyes.


Robert Evans Beverly Hills 1968

VP of Paramount Pictures Robert Evans in terry robe, sitting on edge of black marble tub talking on phone, in bathroom at home-- Beverly Hills, CA 1968.

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Steve McQueen | “The King of Cool”

Steve McQueen, CA 1963.

Steve Mcqueen is an icon–  and I still don’t think we appreciate this guy enough for all that he did in his lifetime.  McQueen personified the “anti-hero”.  A true man’s man who raced cars and motorcycles, and had a very enviable collection of both.  He even flew his own plane, for cryin’ out loud.  What a life this guy had.  He ran away from home at 14- joined the circus- joined the U.S.M.C.- went AWOL- was eventually honorably discharged- worked in a brothel- on an oil rigger- and was even a lumberjack.  Later he was an avid martial artist and friends with Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.  It was McQueen that convinced Norris to take acting lessons, which could be considered a somewhat dubious distinction, but one that I’m sure Chuck greatly appreciates to this day.  

As seen above, McQueen was no stranger to the workout room and had an exercise regimen of two hours a day, everyday.  I love this shot for two reasons- McQueen of course, and his irrepressible charm- but also for it’s statement on simplicity.  It reminds me of life when things were simpler, and in my humble opinion- better.  To workout all you needed was an exercise bike, free-weights, jumprope, a chin-up bar and of course- a rope hanging from the ceiling.  

I remember when this was a part of phys. ed. class.  All of us anxiously lined-up in our tube socks, waiting our turn to try to pull ourselves up that rope.  If you could, you were the man, and if you couldn’t, well…  And look at what else- he’s wearing simple, classic grey sweatpants and they fit.  No fancy– wicking, moisture management, antimicrobial blah, blah, blah.  Cotton was the original, and still the best performance fabric.  

Steve McQueen was, and still is the one that every guy wants to be, and that every gal wants to be with.  Sometimes you just can’t improve upon the classics.

American Icons – Johnny Cash & Martin Guitars.

Country/Western singer Johnny Cash in recording studio.  Nashville, TN 1969

Johnny Cash is as real as they come, brother.  I feel sorry for poor lil’ Juaqiem Phoenix – trying to fill those big (white) shoes on screen.  The hard livin’, honky tonkin’, God lovin’ man in black.  God rest his soul.

The Legendary D45 by C. F. Martin & Co.

C.F. Martin & Co. have been making top quality guitars since 1796, and are still family owned and operated out of Nazareth, PA.  Martin is truly a guitar with few rivals in terms of quality, tone and boom- played by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Guy Clark and many other music legends.  Martin is probably best known for their D-45 Dreadnought model (a little wider body and more squared shoulder), first crafted for Gene Autry in 1933.  In my book, both Johnny and Martin are true American Icons.

Link to Martin D45


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