With roots that can be traced all the way back to the days of ancient Greece– flipping the bird, as I like to call it, (or giving someone the finger) is the world’s favorite naughty gesture.  But there’s definitely an art to it.  The subtle nuances of the physical fingering, facial expression, and context of the act itself, can make it anything from phallic and vulgar, to friendly and fun-lovin’–sometimes even deeply profound.

Love it or hate it– this bird you cannot change.  Oh yes I did.


Circa 1989, New York, NY — Marlon Brando distinguishing the middle finger of both his hands on the set of the picture The Freshman.  The “nonchalant double-fisted fuggetaboutit” flip.


Circa 1954, USA — Director Elia Kazan on the set of his 1954 film East of Eden with Marlon Brando and James Dean. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Sygma/Corbis.  The “I’m not smilin’ for no camera, and you need to get yer own schtick, kid… oops, did you catch me flippin” you off” flip.


Aug 22nd, 1957, Washington, DC — James R. Hoffa, heir-apparent to the Presidency of the giant Teamsters Union, as he appeared before Senate Rackets probers. Investigators reported that they have been told that former heavyweight champion Joe Louis “was paid $2,500 to sit in the courtroom for two hours” during Hoffa’s recent bribery-conspiracy trial. Hoffa, who was acquitted, told the committee: “If he was paid $2,500, he was not paid by Hoffa. I know nothing about it.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.  The satisfying subversive “Something’s in my eye, your Honor…” flip.


Sept 16th, 1976, Binghamton, NY — Vice President Nelson Rockefeller gives a crowd of young hecklers an upraised middle finger gesture at the Broome County Airport during a brief stop here while on a campaign trip with Vice Presidential candidate Bob Dole (L, Background, out of focus).  Rockefeller said he was “responding in kind” to the demonstrators. Love it. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.  The “I could buy and sell you, you little smarmy toad” flip.


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the kings of hollywood slim aarons

Slim Aaron’s most celebrated image was shot on New Year’s Eve of 1957 in the Crown Room at Romanoff’s restaurant in Hollywood.  Called ”The Kings of Hollywood,” it shows Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart — what Smithsonian magazine called ”a Mount Rushmore of stardom” and the novelist Louis Auchincloss ”the very image of American he-men.”  Why are the men in the picture all laughing?  Mr. Aarons sometimes said he did not know why.  In all truth, those chortling stars in ”The Kings of Hollywood,” Mr. Aarons sometimes admitted, were really laughing at him.  Mr. Gable had said how bad he thought Mr. Aarons’s acting was in a small movie part.


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The beauty of being able to draw, or paint, from an early age is that you never feel trapped, least of all by your immediate circumstances.”

–Bill Blass


From The New York Times

In early December 1999, the mood in the Bill Blass showroom at 550 Seventh Avenue was as gray as the film of dust on a potted plant that sat in the corner and always seemed to be dying.

Blass, arguably the most famous of all the American designers, had shown his farewell collection that September and sold the company a few weeks later.  He had been ill for some time, living with throat cancer for years — he was then 77 — and he didn’t seem much inclined to argue with the new owners about who would fill his oversize shoes.  They wanted a name.  So the future of Blass’s longtime assistants was far from certain.  Laura Montalban, one of two top designers, left to work for Oscar de la Renta; Blass called the other, Craig Natiello, who had been with him for a decade, into his office.

“You’re not going to like the people who bought the company,” Blass said.  He made a phone call, then told Mr. Natiello, who recalled the conversation in a recent interview, that there was a job waiting for him at Halston.  “Here is your out. Do you want it?”

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is class.  Keep a stiff upper lip, tell it straight, and repay loyalty with loyalty. This kind of character is an increasing rarity, unfortunately. Kudos, Mr. Blass.

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Jimmy Stewart’s Honorable Style

Jimmy Stewart Rope

With seemingly every known sportswear brand with a nickel’s worth of history coming out with an “authentic” or “vintage” line, I’m left wanting to step away and rediscover the “heritage” of dressing well.  At least I won’t have to worry about being stoned to death for not wearing the correct of-the-moment hipster boot anymore.  So I’ll have that going for me- which is good.

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In Like Flynn | A Swashbuckler’s Legacy

hosl01_yachts errol flynn yacht

“A boat is like a horse… every ship has her own personality, the tricks she does, the foibles she has.” – Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn was born in the British Commonwealth seaport Hobart, Tasmania, on June 20, 1909. His father, a distinguished marine biologist, introduced him to the sea at a very young age. Flynn always said the one true love of his life was the ocean. Sailing became a lifelong obsession and his favorite escape.


“I like my whiskey old and my women young.” – Errol Flynn 

A young Brigitte Bardot cooing over 47 yr old Errol Flynn. –1956. He passed 3 yrs later. The phrase “In like Flynn” originated as a coarse reference to his powers as a seducer.  

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Buddy Holly and the Crickets

It was over fifty years ago– February 3, 1959, that the chartered plane carrying singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, fell out of the sky and rock ‘n’ roll was forever changed.  Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”  His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music.  In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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The Curious Case of Captain Mike.



3224004932_167011a908_bLook, let’s just be honest here.  We all know who the real star of Benjamin Button was– Captain Mike.  Jared Harris is the reason that I will remember this film at all.  He totally stole the movie right from under that pretty boy Brad Pitt.  Poor guy is going through a divorce right now from British actress Emilia Fox.  They say he’s dark and troubled waters– the sensitive, difficult type.  Yeah, and?  The guy’s Irish, and an actor.  Did you know he’s the son of the late, great Irish actor Richard Harris?  That definitely explains where he gets his acting chops.  Whatever they say about the guy– he is OK in my book.  Long live Captain Mike. Continue reading

Vintage Dillon, as in Matt Dillon.


So– we can’t really talk about The Outsiders without acknowledging who was the King of 80’s teen cinema.  Even with the borderline unibrow he sported back then, Matt Dillon was undeniably King of the clearasil screen.   Yeah– I’m glad for Matt that he later found his comic side in films like There’s Something About Mary, and Herbie: Fully Loaded.  But personally speaking, I would much rather remember him as Moody in My Body Guard, Dallas in The Outsiders or Rusty James in Rumblefish.  The bad-boy Dillon as we knew back then ended with Drugstore Cowboy (directed by Gus Van Zant in 1989), which finally won him the critical acclaim and recognition he long deserved.


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Hollywood Icon Marlon Brando’s Canyon Home


Marlon Brando and James Dean were contemporaries– with a very contemptuous relationship.  The were often compared, and neither one was appreciative.  Brando publicly ridiculed Dean, accusing him of “wearing my last year’s wardrobe and using my last year’s talents…”  Dean later responded– “I was riding a motorcycle long before I heard of Mr. Brando.”   To Newsweek Dean said– “People were telling me I behaved like Brando before I knew who Brando was.  I am neither disturbed by the comparison, nor am I flattered by it.  I have my own personal rebellions and don’t have to rely on Brando’s.”

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