Monday, May 31, 2010

The Authentic by Majer, 1955

From the Cornell Daily Sun, 1955. Notice cool belt. And just what is the correct shade of Oxford brown.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper RIP

Dennis Hopper, 20, painting in 1956.

and studying acting in Los Angeles with Nick Adams and Natalie Wood.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Paper Chase

According to surveys,something like 10% of Americans have graduate degrees. Perhaps that makes it surprising, there are relatively few media representations of that experience. The experience of graduate school, with its single minded focus on one subject taught at a very technical level, is very different than that of college. The Paper Chase demonstrated that it was possible to make compelling drama out of the obsessions with grades and professors who affect not to know your name and the fear of failure or even the fear that your ambitions will go unrealized.

Timothy Bottoms demonstrated great style playing a 1st year law student. Levi's, flannel shirts, shetlands, corduroy sports coats and knit ties. Narrow the labels a bit and put this on today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sherman Adams

A New Hampshire politician who, under Eisenhower, became the most powerful Chief of Staff in U.S. history. Ike was forced to ask for his resignation when it was revealed that he received a vicuna coat amongst other gratuities from a Boston businessman. A fellow has to stay warm, I guess.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Robert Oppenheimer

Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist at the University of California who was tapped as scientific director of the Manhattan Project. After the war, he took up the directorship of the Institute of Advance Studies at Princeton. There are many pictures in Life magazine and in a few he is not engaged in the consumption of some form of nicotine.

He cut a natty professorial figure perhaps due his patronization of the old line tailors at Langrock. See this review of his biography American Prometheus by Stuart Mitchner in Princeton's Town Topics {thanks to C.Sharp}:
Finally, one photograph that is absent from the interesting assortment in American Prometheus can be found in Philippe Halsman's Jump Book, a collection of jumping luminaries the photographer put together in the late fifties. The photo shows Oppenheimer performing his jump in front of a blackboard at the Institute. It is at once a spectacularly uninhibited and absolutely, gravely determined upward leap, one arm raised high above his head (his face peering straight up), the jacket of his elegant three-piece suit flying open, his well-polished black shoes well off the ground. Halsman calls the leap "metaphysically spectacular." It's nice to know that even after the 1954 inquisition that supposedly "broke" him, the director could still reach for the sky. Look closely and you may be able to make out the Langrock label on his open jacket. According to American Prometheus, while most of the Institute's permanent scholars walked around in sports jackets (not to mention Einstein in his old sweater and baggy trousers), Oppenheimer could often be seen wearing expensive suits hand-tailored for him at Langrock's on Nassau Street. It should be added, however, that at least one witness reports occasionally seeing him "in a jacket that looked as if it had been eaten by gerbils."

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Rise and Fall of H.R. Haldeman

Two classic pictures of H.R. Haldeman. One at a 1968 conference sporting the perfect soft button-down collar with repp tie (his lapel appears like its wilting in the Florida heat). Also, his 1974 mug shot, displaying the classic trouser cut, plenty of rise but tapering through the knee toward the ankle.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Richard Diebenkorn

Originally posted September 2008
Richard Diebenkorn is interesting as an example of a painter who found greatness relatively late in his career. Beginning as an Abstract Expressionist, he switched to figurative painting. At the age of 45, he moved to Santa Monica, CA and began a 25 year series of color field paintings inspired by colors of beach and ocean. Here is Ocean Park #38 from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saarinen and Eames and Company

Originally posted August 2008.
Saarinen also had a sideline in furniture design, most famously with his Tulip chair. Above is a picture from Playboy of Saarinen along with his classmate and friend Charles Eames (Saarninen named his son Eames). Charles Eames worked closely with his partner Ray Eames. Eames wrote a memoir of their partnership called Ray is Not My Brother mocking a popular misconception of their relationship. In fact, Charles was married to Ray. I'm such a sexist that my first thought on reading that was "Wow, he married his gay partner in the 1950s. That's pretty out there." More prosaically, though Ray-Bernice was his wife. Below is a picture of Eames in a beach version of his molded chair.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eero Saarinen

The Finnish born but Detroit raised architect was naturalized just in time to join the OSS (designing missle diagrams). During the 1950s and 1960s, he developed a kind of soft organic modernism that became the jet age American establishment vision of itself. Steel and glass on the one hand, but with smooth flowing lines that seemed to express the possibility of flight.

The Gateway Arch
TWA Terminal at JFK

Saarinen's natural but rational airport is the perfect backdrop for a sack suit as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks demonstrate in "Catch Me If You Can"

Pure delight to our contemporary eyes, but to the orthodox modernists who dominated architecture it was heresy. You see, it is not the function of a building to fly. So, obviously, a form that expresses flight cannot follow function.

Some would argue that not a few of Saarinen's designs were not so functional. No one who has ever set foot in the cursed moving terminals at Dulles would disagree.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dustin Hoffman

Originally posted at AAAC
An outstanding example of natural shoulder seersucker on the recently minted star of "The Graduate," I am particularly interested in the shirt. Is that end-on-end. Definitely a gap in my wardrobe.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

CIA Agent II: William Colby

Princeton graduate and OSS veteran, Colby supervised the Vietnam war rural pacification program called "Operation Phoenix." Colby strongly believed that US counter-insurgency had succeeded, recounting in his memoirs that by the early 1970's he was able to tour the countryside by motorbike, without need of escort. After becoming the Director of Central Intelligence, he co-operated with the mid-1970's Congressional investigations into some of the CIA's misdeeds.

Picture from

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CIA Agent I: Kermit Roosevelt Jr.

Probably best remembered for his key role in formenting the coup that overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh and restored the Shah to the throne.

Edd Byrnes

Edd Byrnes who played the hip car hop "Kookie" in 77 Sunset Strip shows the timeless cool of the slim, natural shoulder suit with a soft collar. Below "Kookie" shares his jive lingo with Efraim Zimbalist Jr.

Making of the Sand Pebbles

Speaking of good 1960's footage of Hong Kong. Here's a weirdly soundtracked short film on the making of the 1966 Robert Wise film "The Sand Pebbles".

My apartment overlooks the harbor where the scene in which Steve McQueen and fellow crewmembers storm a string of junks blockading the "Yangtze" river was shot, so it is especially neat for me to see these pictures.


Originally Posted May 2008

Originally Posted March 25, 2008

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Spy

Posted March 2008
Bill Cosby and Bob Culp on location (probably in Hong Kong) and in character as Alexander Scott and Kelly Robinson in I. Spy. The least silly of the string of secret agent movie and TV shoes that followed in the wake of James Bond in the early sixties, featured the two men as hip, CIA trouble shooters traveling the world to basically crack heads. Initially, their cool style was contrasted with Ivy League style suits, repp ties and buttondown shirts. Their dress quickly became more modern. See this 1966 quote from Cosby (found at this nostalgic article by journalist John Stanley):
"Now, you take `I Spy.' In Hong Kong, for example, you've got different kinds of hotel rooms, different people, different customs, different sights. Mexico changes it all again. So does Tokyo. Now, you take the clothes. At first we went around in these suits and ties rescuing people. But when we were in Acapulco we watched these Secret Service guys protecting Lynda Bird [Johnson]. Talk about being inconspicuous. Eyeglasses and the whole bit. Couldn't even see if they were packing rods. So Bob [Culp] and I decided to go native. Besides, it was hot in Acapulco and we wanted shorter sleeves.

"So now, instead of two handsome heroes in subtle tweed suits, we became like two handsome tourists who rescued people."

You can still watch these shows today for the snappy rapport between Culp and Cosby and the international backdrops (the show was shot on location around the world). In fact, you can watch them without standing up, as many are available in entirety on Youtube. The kickoff episode "So Long, Patrick Henry" is a favorite because of the early 1960's footage of Hong Kong.

A bonus pic of Cosby


The Beach Boys recorded their first song, "Surfin" under the name Pendletones, only to have the record label change their name to something more obviously linked to surfing. Originally, the Boys wore the wool Pendleton shirts popular with Redondo Beach surfers at the time. Probably for the best, Pendleton shirts aren't really built for keeping you cool onstage.

In fact, they're built for one thing and that is keeping you warm when it is 55 degrees and damp. That comes in handy when its that temperature 4 months of the year and you don't have central heating. I've practically lived in my Pendleton shirts this winter. Pendleton has moved assembly offshore (to Mexico and China), though they still make the wool material in Oregon (at least for the Mexico made ones). Plenty of new USA made ones still with their tags on, available at Ebay though if you want to go with the classic. Probably one of the most gifted but never worn clothing items. Just the thing to give to Uncle Joe but for Uncle Joe never to put on. Its hard to avoid looking like Grandpa in a wool shirt. Maybe thats the reason. Or just to scratchy for Joe. I don't know.
Favorite Pendleton's

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This is a picture of the Sunrays, a minor surf band hooked into the Wilson family (with Dennis). They were touring England probably around 1967. This is probably pretty much the end of the line for an early 1960's surf band.
Originally posted in DoctorDamage's American Trad/Men thread on AAAT in April 2008

Also, the Rays Eddie Medora with Dennis Wilson.

Their "big" song

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beach Boys

Continuing the dump of my Photobucket account (just to put all the old photos in one place), here are some pics of the Beach Boys. This must be the best single/b-side combination ever. (Thought: Does Itunes sell b-sides? Buy 1 song for .99 and get an album deep cut for free. Probably they should, if they don't).
Originally posted March 2008.

This one's a little better from the same shoot.

This one is slightly later. Probably Pet Sounds/Good Vibrations era.
Probably their best music and best look. Brian and Carl Wilson just weren't built for the candy stripe shirts with tight continental hip huggers seen below at the TAMI show.

This one is a little too apprentice car salesman. It would work a lot better with a Brooks Brothers style repp stripe.

John Glenn

Originally posted February 2008

George Plimpton for Intellivision

Originally posted February 2008

Nixon on the Beach

Originally uploaded 2007