(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Life Magazine

“People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs”*…


The Wild One

Marlon Brando, The Wild One


Throughout the 1930s, the sleepy town of Hollister [California], not far from Monterey Bay, had made a pastime of hosting motorcycle rallies. Paused during World War II, an Independence Day rally returned in 1947 with a pent-up energy like never before.

By the end of the holiday weekend, roughly 50 bikers had been arrested for public drunkenness and other forms of debauchery. Then they left, and life in Hollister went back to normal. But the lore of what became dubbed the Hollister Riot grew. Breathless news accounts told of “havoc” and “pandemonium” on the streets of small-town America.

A couple weeks later LIFE magazine published a S.F. Chronicle photo from Hollister, pictured above, showing a drunken fellow teetering atop a Harley, a beer bottle in each fist and a pile of spent bottles at his feet. The headline: “Cyclists’ Holiday: He and friends terrorize a town.”


Historians have questioned whether this photo from the so-called Hollister Riot was staged. Barney Peterson/S.F. Chronicle

LIFE was read by roughly 10% of the country at a time before widespread adoption of the television. The image of wild men on motorcycles, Hunter S. Thompson observed, was like nothing America had ever seen.

In “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga,” Thompson wrote: “There was absolutely no precedent, in the years after World War II, for large gangs of hoodlums on motorcycles, reveling in violence, worshiping mobility and thinking nothing of riding five hundreds miles on a weekend … to whoop it up with other gangs of cyclists in some country hamlet entirely unprepared to handle even a dozen peaceful tourists.”

A few years after Hollister, Harper’s Magazine published a fictionalized version of the rally that was in turn crafted into a Hollywood depiction. “The Wild One” premiered in 1953 starring heartthrob Marlon Brando as the iconic biker outlaw Johnny Strabler.

At one point in the movie, a little girl asks Strabler what he’s rebelling against.

“Whaddya got?” he replies.

Over the years, mainstream motorcycle groups sought to dispel their reputation as hell-raising ruffians. But other clubs wore it proudly. They called themselves one-percenters, a response to the claim that 99% of motorcyclists are model citizens. The most notorious, the Hell’s Angels, was founded in Fontana not long after Hollister. Their motto: “When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets.”…

How the image of the outlaw biker was born. Via the ever-illuminating California Sun.

* Alexi Sayle


As we hit the road, we might spare a thought for Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, better known simply as Erasmus; he died on this date in 1536.  A Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, translator, and theologian, probably best remembered for his book In Praise of Folly, he was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance, the first editor of the New Testament (“Do unto others…”), and an important figure in patristics and classical literature.  Among fellow scholars and philosophers he was– and is– known as the “Prince of the Humanists.”

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam (1523) by Hans Holbein the Younger






Conan O’Brien mourns the death of Newsweek in print: “It’s sad, it’s a little mind-boggling. And what’s even stranger and sadder is when you see some of the magazines that actually outlasted Newsweek.

Newsweek’s gone but these magazines still exist! These are all completely real:” Pond Hoppin, Chess Life, Pole Spin, Airports of the World, Where to Retire, Witches & Pagans, Weed World, Amateur Radio, Racing Pigeon Pictorial, and Just Labs.

JimRomenesko.com (via TeamCoCo)


As we console ourselves that there does, after all, seem to be a future for journalism, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that Life became the third title (after Time and Fortune) in Henry Luce’s publication stable.   The first (essentially) all-photographic American news magazine, it dominated the market for more than 40 years, selling more than 13.5 million copies a week at one point; it was so popular that President Harry S. Truman, Sir Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur all serialized their memoirs in its pages.  Life succeeded as a weekly through 1972, at which point it receded to a series of occasional special editions.  From 1978 to 2000, it was published as a monthly; then in 2004, revived again (through 2007), as a newspaper insert.  In 2008, Time Inc. allowed Google to host the magazine’s image bank (many, previously unpublished).  And finally, in 2009, Life.com was launched; it closed in January of this year.

Here is that first issue’s cover; readers may also enjoy Flavorpill’s selection of  “The Ten Greatest Life Magazine Covers of All Time.”

The Fort Peck Dam in Montana, photographed by Margaret Bourke-White


Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 23, 2012 at 1:01 am

Is it real or is it…?

source: Life

On a continuing theme of (Roughly) Daily (c.f., e.g., here and here): the “grand old man” of pictorial journalism, Life, offers a series of arresting photos and asks “Real or Fake?

As we squint, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that master of illusion, Walt Disney, previewed Disneyland to the press in anticipation of opening it to the public the following day.

Plaque at the entrance of Disneyland

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 17, 2009 at 12:01 am

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