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Style Icons Playing Basketball

  • Najib Benouar

Basketball

It’s a big day for basketball, with March Madness finally kicking off this morning.

And it’s been a big week for basketball here on Kempt, with our own bracket pitting icons of the sidelines against one another in our quest to name the most stylish NCAA basketball coach ever. You can catch up on the first-round action here, the second-round action here and yesterday’s Final Four here. But you’ll have to tune in tomorrow for the grand finale...

Because today we’re taking a brief break in our tourney to present a roundup of style icons playing basketball.»

Soccer Explains Israel, Details Explains Spring and Miles Davis Explains the DB Suit

  • Kempt Staff

Dapper Dan

Matches Next to Benzene: Amos Barshad uncovers the deeply inextricable link between soccer and politics in Israel by attending a groundbreaking Israeli soccer match.

Spring Land: Details runs down the three key menswear trends for spring 2013 and how to wear them.

Suit and Trumpet: The inimitable Miles Davis models the perfectly proportioned double-breasted suit.

O Brother: The New Yorker tells the story of Dapper Dan, a Harlem-based designer who co-opted luxury brands for artists, rappers and gangsters.

Icon: Ron Carter

Jazz Icon Ron Carter

Jazz musicians are known for being a dapper and frequently recorded bunch, which is why becoming one of the most-recorded and best-dressed jazz musicians alive is no mean feat. And Ron Carter managed to do it all while standing behind an upright bass.

He came to fame as part of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet (where one Herbie Hancock also got his start)—and went on to record some 2,500 records on the double bass. Along the way, he played with everyone from Eric Dolphy to A Tribe Called Quest, won acclaim as a cellist, composed about 140 songs, taught at CUNY and Juilliard, and—just for good measure—developed a custom blend of pipe tobacco.

But prolificacy alone does not an icon make. This is why Carter made the cut

Here’s a Patently Bizarre Tank Suit Ad from 1970

From time to time, we stumble upon a photograph from the past that simply defies logic. Take this tank suit ad published by Condé Nast in 1970, for example...

What we do know:

Title: “Man Modeling Tank Suit” • Photographer: Mark Patiky, of “Miles Davis Lounging on Bed of Skins with Unidentified Female” fame. • Corbis Description: “A male model lounges on a beach in front of a jeep and a police officer wears a pair of aviator sunglasses, striped tank-suit with a high scoop neck made of ribbed acrylic fiber, by Drummond.”

What we do not know:

• The definition of “tank suit.” • Why there is no mention in the Corbis description of a woman soft-shoeing down the beach in an evening gown. • Whether this is a real police officer, since the only town he looks to be serving and protecting is Sodomyville.

We welcome your thoughts on the matter...

Get Out of the Car

The Dollars: Men’s accessories are up 14% since last year, thanks to the surge in wrist wear. [NYTimes]

Interrobang: Good to know Cormac McCarthy agrees with us about exclamation points. [The New York Observer]

Miles Smiles: A photographic ode to Miles Davis, who is a timeless badass. [A Headlong Dive]

Where Whiskey Comes From: Some lucky bloggers take a tour of the Jameson distillery, including their 36,000-barrel warehouse. [Cool Hunting]

Valentina Zelyaeva Loves Television

Drinking Sherry with Bryan Ferry: The second sentence of this Bryan Ferry profile begins, “Unwinding a very large scarf from around his neck…” [WSJ]

Fit But You Know It: The way your clothes fit isn’t a standard or a science—it’s an art form. Nick Sullivan sounds off. [Esquire]

The Biker Crowd: A chat with the founder/designer behind Rapha. Required reading if you’ve ever thought of starting your own line. [The 99%]

Shoot the J: And just because it’s Friday, here’s some Super 8 footage of John Lennon playing basketball with Miles Davis. It turns out The Walrus has a weak jump shot. [Yahoo Sports]

An In-Depth Investigation of Billy Reid’s Last.Fm Profile

Billy Reid

We’ve gushed quite a bit about Billy Reid’s taste in style, but he’s also the owner of a distinguished last.fm profile, which you may have seen linked from his online shop. So we thought we’d take a look at Mr. Reid’s fall/winter selection (arriving in stores this month), with an eye towards its musical inspirations. As it turns out, listening to that much Drive-By Truckers can have quite an effect…

A look-by-look breakdown of Mr. Reid’s musical tastes»

Julie Newmar Refuses to Leave Her Post

julienewmar_crop.jpgvia WBE

The Birth of the Cool: A connoisseurs guide to the work of Miles Davis. Alternately, you could just listen to In a Silent Way over and over and over again like we do. [A.V. Club]

Army Man: A quick, fascinating interview with Mark McNairy. [Contemporary Standard]

First, Courage: A guide to sleeping well and waking up without sugar or caffeine. We’re pretty sure people have died this way. [Lifehacker]

Denim and Leather: Helm and Raleigh Denim team up for a surprisingly handsome boot. [Selectism]

All That Jazz

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For the decade or so before rock took off, jazz musicians were the epitome of subculture cool. (Not coincidentally, it was also the heyday of the porkpie hat.) Everyone knows Miles (even if we prefer his later phase), but AskMen’s recent roundup reminded us that his piano man was no slouch either.

The pianist in question is Bill Evans, the subject of a fair amount of recent obsession. The slicked-back hair and buttoned-up polo are both documents of the era, but our favorite part of this particular picture is the shades, which have since popped up on Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen more than a few times. With summer coming up, picking up a similar pair might not be a bad idea.

Piano lessons are optional.

Shades of Blue

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Speaking of American classics, another one is coming up on its 50th anniversary. We’re talking about *Kind of Blue*, Miles Davis’ masterwork and the odds-on favorite for the greatest jazz album of all time. The album saw Davis working with arguably the best band of his career—including Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly, and John Coltrane, for a start—exploring modal sketches to work out a new kind of downbeat jazz.

We’ve gushed about Miles Davis before, but fifty years down the line, it’s interesting to consider the album as a document of 1959. It was a bestseller on release, even though it cut against the grain of Eisenhower-era culture. The world of the gray flannel suit wasn’t available to Davis and his bandmates, and the new freedoms they were opening up were entirely musical, but they still looked more attractive than life in Connecticut. As mainstream America got less and less happy with the suburban dream, this was the sound of the underground.

By Its Cover

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While suit-makers look increasingly towards the accountants and ad men of the 50s and 60s, it’s amazing to think they’re overlooking one of the best subcultures of the era. Forget the twenties: the fifties and sixties were the real jazz age.

Miles Davis speaks for himself, but a whole generation of icons stood along with him, ditching the porkpie hats and traditional chord structures in favor of a new kind of music and a new kind of style. Taschen did us a favor rounding up 500 pages worth of album covers for their appropriately named *Jazz Covers*. We can’t think of a better window into the age…other than the albums, that is.

See the covers»