THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF PULSATING PAULA | A VISUAL RECORD OF NEW JERSEY BIKES & INK

Pulsating Paula tapped TSY with her eye-popping photographic archive of the New Jersey bike and tattoo crowd she shot back in the ’80s & ’90s. These images speak of authenticity, grit, and good times. Looking at these raw, honest shots what speaks to me is that life itself is f’ing good, if you have the nuts to truly go out and live it. It’s not the stuff. You need to show up, be authentic, truly appreciate family & friends, where you are and what you have. When you do that you realize you have all you need.

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“Born in Jersey City. Moved to New Brunswick when I was 8. Got married to my first lay in 1973. 10 years later he bought me a camera, a Canon AE1. I still have it. Started taking photos of biker parties and tattoo events. Sent them into ‘Biker Lifestyle’ magazine who later Paisano publications took over. They came out with ‘Tattoo’ magazine first of it’s kind ever. Between the Biker and Tattoo magazines I had thousands of photos published. The 10 minute set up of my photography studio consisted of 2 flood lights that burnt the shit out of any poor person in front of them, and a 6×9 foot black cloth I got from Kmart that was tacked onto a wall. Never considered myself professional ever. I just loved doing it with every fiber in my body. I know the wonderful people I met and places I been in this journey will live on forever in my photographs. I’m so glad I was there with you.” –Paula Reardon (aka Pulsating Paula) 

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OILER’S CAR CLUB THE RACE OF GENTLEMAN, 24 HRS OF NEW JERSEY | SCOTT TOEPFER

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Scott Toepfer, a guy I’m humbled to call my friend, came to the Jersey Shore to shoot the second annual The Race of the Gentlemen organized by Mel Stultz (OCC) and put on by the legendary Oiler’s Car Club. It’s an event that can only be adequately described by someone who was actually there in the thick of it– and Toepfer was kind enough to share his personal thoughts with TSY on the sights, sounds, and experiences had by a California boy in Wildwood, Jersey. Great stuff, Scott!

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THE STORY OF THE PARASITE | JERSEY’S OWN TWIN-ENGINE TRIUMPH DRAGSTER

My friend Matt Smith over at Smoke and Throttle has been schooling me on the legend that is John Melniczuk. All this incredible Triumph racing/building history and a showroom of beauties to die for, and in my own beautiful home state (no joke) of New Jersey of all places.

“John Melniczuk is not just a Triumph enthusiast whose hobbies turned into an occupation. He’s been working in the field since the ’60s when he was just a young man at his fathers Triumph dealership– Bauer Cycles (established in 1953). John’s grandfather owned another dealership, Cycle Sports Center, which sold Indians and Vincents among others. John’s ambition and devotion for the sport of motorcycle racing eventually lead to a job turning wrenches for the late great Gary Nixon. After a while, being a behind-the-scenes guy was not enough, so John began to campaign his own custom built Triumph T110 drag racer– setting many track records throughout his career. Dragging Triumphs runs in the family as well– His father’s shop raced a twin-engine Triumph-motored monster dubbed The Parasite.”  –Smoke and Throttle

Check out the incredible story of the epic Parasite dragster below, which can be found on John Melniczuk Jr.’s J&M Enterprises site. This tale of the twin-engine Triumph marvel built by John Melniczuk Sr. and later restored by John Jr. is truly something to behold. The images alone are enough to make you crazy. Combined with the personal stories behind the bike and the family’s who shared in its history make it a truly special piece of history.

The story of the Parasite is a tale of two engines, conceived in casual discussion and created by two friends whose dedication and innovation propelled a one-off motorcycle into the Daytona Drags record books. –via John Melniczuk, J&M Enterprises

So Crazy It Just Might Work

It all started in the winter of 1958 when John Melniczuk Sr., a Triumph Dealer and owner of Bauer Cycles of Salem, NJ, and Tommy Grazias, a fellow racer, first toyed with the idea of building a twin-engine dragster. Both had been racing T-I10 Triumphs and the thought of taking the engines from each and building one dragster was too tempting not to try. John would design and build it and Tommy would race it. The best place to showcase such a motorcycle was the upcoming Daytona Drags. The bike would have to be ready to contest Daytona by March of 1959.

In the late 50s, the two-engine dragster concept was unheard of and John and Tommy spent hundreds of hours over a two month span designing, building, redesigning and rebuilding the motorcycle. Without the advantages of modern aftermarket and factory race parts, each part had to be fabricated by hand. The modified Triumph frame was hand built by John and included a girder fork front end brought back from England in a suitcase by Triumph Corporation’s Rod Coates. The half quart gas tank was made of two bicycle headlight shells and an empty can. The rear rim was reworked from an old Indian rim drilled out to save weight. Due to the horsepower created, most of the transmission gears were removed leaving only second and third. Finally, the drag slicks (not available at the time) were created from recapped Indian tires. But difficulties often follow the exhaust of innovation.

The twin-engined Triumph Parasite dragster getting ready for takeoff. –via Smoke and Throttle

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ON THE WATERFRONT | CONTENDER FOR ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S BEST FILMS

“You don’t understand– I could-a had class.  I could-a been a contender. I could-a been somebody… instead of a bum, which is what I am– let’s face it.”

–Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront”

The masterful Marlon Brando, as longshoreman Terry Malloy, in 1954’s epic film “On the Waterfront.” –Image © Bettmann/Corbis.  Based on New York Sun reporter Malcolm Johnson’s 1949 Pulitzer Prize winning exposé on crime and corruption (Crime on the Waterfront), Kazan and cast’s gripping portrayal of blood, sweat, toil and tears on the docks is a gutsy Hollywood classic without peer. It was shot entirely on location in Hoboken, NJ– using the gritty Jersey streets and rooftops as its living, breathing sets– and the hard-as-nails local longshoremen for extras with real life experience and attitude.

Still one of the most powerful films Hollywood has ever put out– On the Waterfront caught a lot of Tinseltown’s elite off-guard when it ran off with 8 Academy Awards in 1955, including– Best Motion Picture (Sam Spiegel for Columbia Pictures), Best Director (Elia Zazan), Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Screenplay (Budd Schulberg), Best Supporting Actress (Eva Marie Saint), Best Art Direction (Richard Day), and Best Cinematography, B&W (Boris Kaufman).

It was a low-budget film, dealing with low-brow business– when Producer Darryl Zanuck was pitched the film he blasted it, saying “Who’s going to care about a bunch of sweaty longshoremen?” Even Marlon Brando wasn’t interested, but for personal reasons– Director Elia Kazan’s perceived act of betrayal against fellow artists by providing names to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952 (screenplay writer Shulberg was also an informer), left a bad taste in Marlon’s mouth. It was a stigma that Kazan would never fully shake. In fact, many would later believed upon its release that On the Waterfront represented a self-serving, cathartic expression for Kazan– a vain attempt to regain his lost dignity, and rebuff his attackers, Hollywood style. Were we watching Kazan, the shunned name-dropping director, making a case for himself vicariously through the heroic Brando as Terry Malloy, the underdog whistle-blower, onscreen?

Marlon Brando and Karl Malden in 1954’s “On the Waterfront.” Karl Malden’s “Father Barry” was based on Father John M. Corridan, a tough-talking Jesuit priest, who ran a Roman Catholic labor school on the Manhattan’s West Side and a very active “waterfront priest.” Budd Schulberg interviewed Father Corridan at length for his version of the “On the Waterfront” screenplay– the original had been written by Arthur Miller (called “The Hook”), and rejected by studio heads– causing a deep rift between Miller and Director Kazan.

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A LOST ART OF DAYS GONE BY | VINTAGE CURT TEICH LINEN POSTCARDS

I’m crazy for vintage Curt Teich linen postcards. The warm, fuzzy, softness of color, printed (sometimes slightly off register) on the linen-weave stock, of scenes when America had a youthful glow. It makes me yearn for a life and times that I was born too late for, by golly.  I find myself gazing at neighborhoods and cities, trying to chronologically piece them together.  I ask myself– what was it like here 100 yrs ago… which houses came first… which were layered in later, and when?  A lot of the scenes in these incredible windows to the past are places where I’ve lived, or passed through that are in one way or another core to who I am.

Imagine living again in a time with no cell phones, internet, and the other so-called modern conveniences that “save us time.” I could go back in a New York second.  Technology and consumption is moving at a scary pace, folks.  I wonder what we’ll be looking back at with nostalgia-glazed eyes 25 yrs from now… Planet Earth?

Ford Model T – 1908-1909, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan

Statue of Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, New York City

Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City

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THE NASHVILLE PORTRAITS, PART I | PHOTOGRAPHY OF JIM McGUIRE

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Steve Earle–  Born 1955 in Virginia, he grew up in and around Texas.  Steve dropped out of high school in the 9th grade and began his pursuit of breakin’ into the music scene, and becoming a real deal singer/songwriter– like his hero Townes Van Zandt, who he was obsessed with.   Steve often tells of being all of 17 years old in 1972, and playing at the Old Quarter in Houston in front of a handful of patrons– one of them being Townes.  He was petrified up there on that tiny stage with Townes Van Zandt, who he still considers the best there ever was, sitting dead in front of him with his moccasins propped up on the stage right at Earle’s feet– and loudly heckling him between songs.  (Steve Earle unabashedly fesses to going out and buying a pair of said moccasins the very next day…) The two became close, and will always be joined in legend and history– it’s flat-out impossible to talk about one without the other.  Steve moved to Nashville (like alot of the songer/songwriters did in the 1970s after Kris Kristofferson had become a big star there) and played bass with another future legend, Guy Clark. — 1975 studio portrait, Nashville by Jim McGuire

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Townes Van Zandt– One of the great tragic figures of country music, Fort Worth, Texas, native Townes Van Zandt was a folk singer, songwriter, performer and poet. He was particularly influential in the emergence of alternative country in the nineteen-seventies. Steve Earle described him as the greatest songwriter who ever lived, and his influence was felt by many other artists, including Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, and Lyle Lovett. Bob Dylan refers to this Texas native as his favorite songwriter. He wrote hundreds of haunting songs that have been widely recorded, perhaps most notably “Pancho and Lefty” which was a number one hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in 1983. — 1990 studio portrait, Nashville by Jim McGuire

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Texans Guy and Susanna Clark, both singer/songwriters, first came to Nashville at the time that same McGuire did, back in 1972.  They became fast friends when McGuire shot the cover photographs for Guy Clark’s first studio album “Old Number One”, which was released by RCA Records in 1975. During the 1970s, when this photograph was taken, the Clark’s Nashville home was a haven for emerging songwriters and musicians. Guy Clark has served as a mentor to many other songwriters, most notably Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, and numerous artists have recorded Guy Clark-penned songs. — 1975 studio portrait, Nashville by Jim McGuire

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PHOTOGRAPHY OF DOROTHEA LANGE | AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE– HARD TIMES

Oregon, August 1939. “Unemployed lumber worker goes with his wife to the bean harvest. Note Social Security number tattooed on arm.” Shorpy determined through a public records search that 535-07-5248 belonged to one Thomas Cave, born July 1912, died in 1980 in Portland, OR. Which would make him 27 years old when this picture was taken. This pic has long been a favorite of mine. First, there’s the handsome rake with his devilish “cat that just ate the canary” grin, and his beautiful bride lounging in the background with her equally impressive model-worthy looks. Second, there is more than a little irony for me in this image, as we so often equate physical beauty with material success these days– but here’s a stunning couple eking out a living through sweat and toil one meal at a time. I’m tellin’ you, as sure as I live and breathe– poverty is the ultimate equalizer, folks.

California, March 1937. “Toward Los Angeles.” Another ironic pic– “Next Time Try The Train– Relax.”  Well– give me the fare and I will, buddy.  We ain’t walkin’ for our health…

The American photographer Dorothea Lange was a product of Hoboken, NJ (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965).  She started out her career in photography taking commercial portraits in 1920s San Francisco. Dorothea then worked in the Southwest with her first husband, painter Maynard Dixon. In the early 1930s, Lange intuitively took her camera to the streets, recording the breadlines and waterfront strikes of Depression era San Francisco.  That marked the beginning of a radical shift in her philosophy & photography, that would mark her life and give us some of the most iconic American images known.

In 1935, Lange began her landmark work for the Farm Security Administration, a Federal Agency. Collaborating with her second husband, labor economist Paul S. Taylor, she documented the troubled exodus of farm families migrating West in search of work. Lange’s documentary style achieved its fullest expression in these years, with photographs such as Migrant Mother becoming instantly recognized symbols of the Depression.

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Hook, Line & Sinker

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Sandy Hook is one of our favorite local escapes– great beaches, hiking and history.  There’s quite a bit of fishing to be had, and great seafood all around.  One trip last summer, we tried a section of beach we hadn’t been to before… those cryptic bumper-stickers extolling the virtues of ‘no tan lines’ should have tipped me off.  Needless to say, we quickly moved on.

 

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The Passenger

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It’s been months now since I’ve flown anywhere, and I really miss it.  Like, bad.  Getting out of town– a break in the routine– taking care of business and firming relationships– seeing new people and places– cool restaurants and hotels– gone.

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