National Motorcycle Race. From the LIFE archive.

 

National Motorcycle Race

 

National Motorcycle Race II.  Helmet optional.  Floppy felt hat - a must.

 

I love everything about this shot. The cast of characters lined-up on their stripped-down bikes getting ready to tear it up, and the guys behind them buying coffee from the food truck all huddled together in their jeans, pea coats (which were probably their own from when they were discharged) and engineer boots.  BTW- the term “pea coat” is derived from pilot cloth or P-cloth, a coarse type of blue twill cloth with a napped face from which they were made.  

I don’t see any gals around– must have been too cold.

James Dean in Denim | Safe Driving PSA

Actor James Dean clad in Western garb for his role, holding a coiled rope, on location for the movie "Giant."

James Dean on the set of George Stevens' "Giant".

 

James Dean and I share the same birthday, so I have always felt strangely close to him – kinda like a kindred spirit.  I have seen Dean’s movies countless times over the years, and his enigmatic charm and intensity are just as strong today.  I love watching the scenes in Rebel Without A Cause when the kids are rocking their rolled-up jeans.  Back then, the greaser’s pomade and cigarette ash would get rubbed into the jeans and create an incredible patina.  Oh, how I long for the days before contrived whiskering and washes.  

While still in character as Jett Rink filming George Stevens’ epic “Giant”, James Dean starred in this PSA that addresses safe driving.  Ironically at the end he adds– “Take it easy driving, the life you might save, might be mine”.