A Goldmine of 20th Century Mantiquity

February 29th, 2012, byJeremy Freed

You hear a lot of talk these days about who the modern American man really is. No doubt this conversation has been going on as long as American men have existed, and a satisfactory answer has never been found. Fair enough. The American man is as he’s always been, that is, he’s as diverse and unpredictable as you’d expect any group of human beings to be.

I particularly enjoy looking back at generations past and idealizing the way they lived. “If only things were as cool now as they were back then,” I like to think, “life would be so much better.” As others have regularly pointed out, however, (and, recently, much more eloquently than I could), nostalgia is mostly an illusion. That said, whenever I stumble upon a goldmine like The Selvedge Yard, I can’t help but lose myself in sepia-tinted reverie.

Here: Steve McQueen being effortlessly cool. Here: Hell’s Angels reminding us that “biker gangs” weren’t always organized crime outfits. Here: awesome man-caves proving that men have always been interested in interior design. Here: Ink to shame LA, Miami and anywhere else.

Were things quantifiably better in eras past? In some regards, yes, I’ll maintain they were. But that’s not the value of photos like these. Nor is it to remind us how much the American man has changed over the years. In many ways, he’s the same as he’s ever been. That is to say, he’s as hard to define as ever.

 

Last modified: March 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm