The unofficial start of the 2016 racing season is upon us with the great endurance race, The Rolex 24-Hours at Daytona, beginning today at 2pm. The complete broadcast and streaming schedule is below.
2:00 – 4:00 PM ET:
4:00 – 10:00 PM ET:
10:00 PM – 7:00 AM ET (Overnight Stream):
7:00 – 10:30 AM ET:
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM ET:
1:00 – 3:30 PM ET (Finale):
This year’s race features the highly anticipated return of a new, badass Ford GT to full competition racing some 50 years after the original prototype car wrested the crown of endurance champion from fearsome Ferrari at Le Mans with a 1-2-3 finish. This new version will be racing in the elite production car category of GT Le Mans under the stewardship of Chip Ganassi & Co. Ganassi has predictably chosen a veteran driver lineup for his two Ford GTs that features the versatile Joey Hand, Indycar veteran Ryan Briscoe, Rolex/Tudor/Weathertech series prototype ace Richard Westbrook and sports car specialist Dirk Müller. Notably absent is the legendary, long time Ganassi pilot Scott Pruett, who has gone off to join Lexus for his swan song. I wouldn’t expect too much from the great looking Ford right out of the shoot going up against a veritable fleet of extremely seasoned GTLM Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs and their Detroit neighbors, the archival Chevy Corvettes, especially in a grueling 24-hour contest. But as the IMSA-backed and newly sponsored Weathertech Sports Car Championship season wears on, the car and the program should come into its own if Ganassi’s and these talented drivers’ track records of success are any indication of future performance.
Either way, today’s race will feature some terrific day-into-night-into-day action that only a true 24-hour, multi-class motorsport spectacle can provide. And as a harbinger for the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and a big, juicy appetizer for all the racing to come in 2016, it’s pretty hard to beat.
Glenn Frey, one of the founders of the Eagles who, along with Don Henley, was a core member for the band’s entire existence, has passed away. He was 67. The NY Times Obituary is here.
Below are some of the most Glenn Frey-centric Eagles hits. Yes, they’re certainly straight ahead Album Oriented Rock that you’ve probably heard 8 million times by now. But they exhibit pretty damn good musicianship, wonderful harmonies and the hooks still catch 40 years on. There’s also a certain 70s zeitgeist infusing the music that few other bands have retained without seeming terribly dated or bombastic.
Frey served as singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Eagles, one of the most successful Rock acts of the 1970s, a radio staple and still one of the biggest selling bands ever. Frey, a Detroit native, and Henley, a Texan, apprenticed in the burgeoning early 1970s California singer-songwriter scene, including stints together in Linda Rondstadt’s backing band, before striking out on their own and founding the Eagles. Their genius was to mainstream Gram Parson’s “Country Rock” fusion and turn it into Top 40 radio gold. Frey admittedly learned much of his songwriting craft from Jackson Browne, perhaps the ultimate singer-songwriter of that period, famously living above him in LA and absorbing his hard working compositional technique, which featured endless repetition on piano and endless cups of tea. The two would later go on to co-author one of the Eagles biggest smashes, “Take It Easy”.
What hasn’t been said about the Eagles already? For one of the best documentaries on their big time Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle, as well as the particular disfunctional dynamics of their ever-changing membership through the years, check out the epically comprehensive History of the Eagles. And for one of the funnier and most obsessive analysis of any documentary you will ever read, check out the great Bill Simmons take on History of the Eagles over at his Grantland site. His OCD dissection of the film and the band is the definitive take and probably one of the most enjoyable pieces of Rock journalism that I’ve read in a long time, even if it is all vicarious.
So another Rock ‘n Roll great has exited the stage. Even if the Eagles divided critical opinion back in the day, with New York and Mid West-based pundits regularly bashing them for their slickness, perceived sexism and very California-ness, such arguments seem quaint in era where a music magazine like Rolling Stone regularly puts American Idol winners on its covers. Take away the carping of the critics and the band controversies and the music remains solid, well made and enjoyable because it’s generally not going for grandeur just excellence. It survives and still thrives on its own merits and a greatest hits compilation belongs in any serious Rock fan’s collection at the least. Looking back, the Eagles go down as one of the very best of their hedonistic and slightly paranoid era and if they had only made “Hotel California,” actually an atypically dark and cryptic song for them, they would still have an entry in the Book of Rock. But they had a ton more hits and great tunes and so they’ve surely earned their own chapter. And Glenn Frey was a big, big part of that.
As collectors in any hobby know, sometimes you’ve got to sell something special to get something special. Such is the case with my trusty Panerai Luminor Marina PAM 61, a watch I”ve had for many years and never thought of parting with. However, something special has come up on my radar and I’ve made the tough decision to let this stunning Tobacco-dialed titanium beauty go. But my loss can be your gain.
With a D-serial number prefix this 61 was produced circa 2001 in 3000 examples that year and still features a solid titanium back and not a display version, something Panerai purists prefer. It has a tough and durable 44mm titanium case construction incorporating Panerai’s proprietary oversize crown guard, a well protected lever-locking system. Hard to beat that machine-like crown locker for cool factor not to mention the form-follows-function contribution it makes to the model’s impressive 300 Meters of water resistance.
There’s also a chronometer movement under the hood, the workhorse OP II which is a modified ETA 6497-2 with bespoke decoration. The watch keeps great time and wears like a dream due to the lighter-than-steel titanium case. And the brushed finish tones down the normal Panerai bling factor, making the 61 a more subtle everyday option than their highly polished steel brethren. But the real wow factor is that great Tobacco-brown dial with matte finish. Between the gray of the case and whatever strap you put on, this watch absolutely pops on the wrist with its wonderfully warm brown look. You might call it an autumn but believe me it’s perfect all year round!
Still missing the man but reveling in the music. Here’s to a life well lived and a true Rock ‘n Roll innovator determined never to repeat himself. Now that he’s gone I think we can really see his impact on our culture at large was even more important than was generally thought on a lot of levels.
Third up in January we return to those indispensable Rolex tool watch roots by offering this fantastic circa 1984 Rolex ref. 5513 Submariner, one of the all-time classic Vintage Rolex with one of the earlier appearances of the famous gloss/white gold surround dial. Last of the plastic Rolex Subs, this 5513 is in Excellent overall vintage condition and the beautiful dial is Near Mint (and that’s only because I’m a real tough grader!).
This dial is extremely glossy and has developed a lovely patina to the original Tritium luminous plots. Better yet, the hands actually match the dial plots in tone, something that is really hard to find on these gloss/WG 5513s due to so many of the handsets being replaced over the years. Simply stunning patina on this Sub!
Also cool is that the original bezel insert is a late Fat Font version not the more prevalent thin style from the late 80s. And this great Sub also comes on its original 93150 Heavy Oyster bracelet with correct 580 ends, the true business partner of any late Submariner with it’s purpose built diver’s flip lock clasp and wetsuit extension, two innovations pioneered by Rolex.
Adding to the overall value, this great Rolex has also just been fully serviced and so is ready to rock and roll for many more years, whether you’re on land or sea. Strap it on and see where this classic Submariner takes you. With a dive watch this tough yet stunning, it’ll likely be straight to the top.
Every once in a while you run into something in the vintage watch world that genuinely lives up to that much-abused adjective “rare”. This is one of those times. Here is a vintage Vulcain Cricket alarm watch, one of the classic midcentury complications, dating from perhaps as early as the late 1940s and featuring not only a stunning near-perfect original dial but also cased in 18 karat Rose Gold. Yes, that really does deserve the extra emphasis. Because I’ve never seen one in pink gold before and chances are neither have you or any of your friends. Or your father, your grandfather or any of their friends for that matter.
The most likely explanation for the rare pink precious metal case is a post-WWII French manufacture when the government was controlling gold imports and so the cases would be locally produced after the movements and dials had been imported from Switzerland. This is usually the story on watches of this era double-signed “FAB. SUISSE” in addition to the normal SWISS MADE. I’ve seen it on Rolex, Omega and I’d be willing to bet that it’s the case — no pun intended — on this Vulcain, as well.
If it weren’t for the remarkably beautiful rose body of the watch, the star of the show would be the stunning original dial with its applied rose gold teardrop markers and even-number Arabics placed upon a contrasting circular mirror-style track, plus a full repeating “10-30-50”-increment external alarm track in black. Simply amazing and ultra-clean after all these years. Not to mention that the complicated dual-barrel Vulcain caliber 120 has just been fully serviced for years’ more faithful service. And did I mention it even comes with its original box? I don’t say this often but this special watch really belongs in a museum. Or better yet, out and about on a savvy gentleman’s wrist.
The great Rock ‘n Roll icon David Bowie has passed away at the age of 69 after a year and a half battle with liver cancer. Somehow this feels liken an especially shocking and premature death. Bowie represented youth and eternal transformation for so long it doesn’t quite seem possible that he embarked on his final journey and left the rest of us behind to face a duller, grayer world without him.
Though one couldn’t say he had been a major musical force for over a decade, Bowie always seemed omnipresent in the ether of Rock music and pop culture. He was so far ahead of the curve in terms of gender bending, performance art and sonic experimentation that the public and critics never really had time to catch up with him before he was on to the next thing. This made high critical praise somewhat scarce in his most productive period of rapid-fire evolution during the 1970s but his legion of fans almost always loved his chameleonic ways and rewarded him with a lot of big hits. From his breakout “Space Oddity” where he jettisoned his folk rock persona in favor of cryptic, beautifully operatic sic-fi, which perfectly dovetailed with the zeitgeist of the Space Race; to his first really fully realized persona, the androgynous Ziggy Stardust on the amazing Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars that helped move Glam to the forefront of Rock styles for a time thanks to Mick Ronson’s sizzling guitar licks on such high octane classics as the title track, “Suffragete City” and “Starman”; the less popular but still very good follow-up Alladin Sane, which featured the swinging “The Gene Jeanie” and the scorching “Panic In Detroit”; Bowie’s prescient farewell to Glam, Diamond Dogs with the immortal “Rebel, Rebel” and searing title track; and Young Americans, creating a chapter unto itself by putting Ziggy to rest and delving deeply into R&B and Soul by recording the album at Philadelphia’s Sigma Studios with a large backing band of Rhythm & Blues aces — it produced the two classics that bookend the album, “Young Americans” and “Fame”. Looking back, any critic worth his salt would have to conclude that after all the typical handwringing during those days over what was or wasn’t “authentic” Rock ‘n Roll this amazingly productive period goes down as some of the best and sonically well made music of that or any other era. Listen to it again now and I think you’ll find that most of it hasn’t dated at all. There is a crispness there, a clean feel in production and arrangement, in lyrical content and vocal delivery that just doesn’t age. It’s youth, it’s sexuality, it’s euphoria, it’s empathy. In short, it’s immortal.
For another artist, this prime early-mid 70s period would have been enough and they would have been satisfied to coast and tour on these hits for years to come. But Bowie, like all the greats, had more to give and more skins to shed. He donned the mantle of the Thin White Duke for 1976’s Station to Station, a sort of continuation of the extraterrestrial persona he created in Nicolas Roeg’s cult sic-fi classic, The Man Who Fell To Earth. But he was also battling a serious cocaine addiction and Bowie’s behavior became increasingly erratic. So despite the success of hits like “Golden Years” and “TVC15” Bowie abandoned the problematic Thin White Duke and made an unexpected physical move, first to Switzerland and then to West Berlin to get clean and get away from the hothouse environments of LA and the UK. He subsequently entered what could arguably called his most fascinating period. Collaborating for the first time with Brian Eno, as well as his most regular producer Tony Viscointi, Bowie produced Low in 1977 and then rapidly followed that up the same year with Heroes and finally Lodger in 1979. These formed his “Berlin trilogy” and while the hits were harder to come by due to the challenging nature of the music — “Sound and Vision” on Low, the title track from Heroes — they are astonishing breakthroughs in Rock music. Low and Heroes in particular are of a part of the best Alternative music of the 1970s: uncompromising, innovative in production and arrangements and appropriative of percolating musical trends — in this case, the synthesizer revolution being spearheaded by Krautrockers like Can and Kraftwerk — in the finest sense of those words. It is also fair to say that Bowie would never reach those kinds of creative heights again.
But, as such a visually trendsetting and provocative artist, Bowie remained more than relevant at the dawn of the MTV era, with the heavily played videos for “Let’s Dance, “China Girl” and “Modern Love”, all from Let’s Dance (1983), co-produced with Bowie by Chic’s Nile Rodgers. In fact, Bowie was an inveterate collaborator producing and gaining inspiration from Iggy Pop and Lou Reed — on the latter’s Transformer (1972) it was difficult to tell who had influenced who more. And in the 80s Bowie made a veritable fetish of collaboration: “Under Pressure” with Queen in 1981 then a string of pop hits with Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and Pat Metheny. It was almost as if he were now relinquishing any dominant persona whatsoever and preferred to be just part of a team of players, not the star. His decision to be in the band Tin Machine but not as the true frontman seemed to confirm this new reluctance to put himself forward, carve off new facets and expose himself in the highly Brechtian manner of years past.
Even past his prime, Bowie remained exceedingly active with a mania to create and work on art, film and music with other artists. But it is for his amazing achievements of the 1970s that Major Tom, Ziggy, the Man Who Fell to Earth, The Thin White Duke and the Berlin Lodger will always remain in our collective cultural consciousness. It is a result of those indelible, seminal creations and the vibrant music that emerged from his constant pushing and probing that Bowie’s passing seems so very abrupt and shocking. The characters he birthed remain alive in our minds today even if he sloughed off those particular personas years ago. Driven to create, Bowie could not help but become restless with his creations and retire them in favor of something and someone new. The pace of his self-reinventions during the decade of the 1970s is head-spinning when viewed in retrospect. Perhaps he got tired of always portraying “the other”, some kind of semi-alien creature, a product of but not a part of our society as a whole, reflecting back at us like a deliciously distorted mirror. Eventually I imagine he just wanted to be David Bowie and maybe even just David Robert Jones, an artist yes but a flesh and blood human being with “regular” tastes and moods, a two-time father and a more down to earth bon vivant with a supermodel wife. But by playing out his artistic impulses prior to that in a very public, very theatrical way, Bowie managed to fuse Rock ‘n Roll with performance art to create something that was both sonically and visually new, exciting and ultimately extremely satisfying. He seemed like nothing so much as a one man self-propelled cultural explosion for a while there, where he might baffle you with his choices but it would always be imperative that you keep up with whatever Bowie was doing, wearing and singing.
And so the best of his work still remains. The great artist leaves behind the works he has created for the masses to enjoy even as he himself must inexorably move on to the next phase of his creativity driven not to repeat himself. But the works remain for our enjoyment, the same as a given period of work for Bruce Nauman or Richard Serra or any truly innovative fine artist. David Bowie created more than his fair share of genius works through pain, experimentation, self-exploration and pop culture telepathy. The best of what he leaves behind can only be called great art. To listen to the best of Bowie is to be transformed and swept up, not just to a time or place in our past but to timeless moods and the very vibrations of life itself, and that’s why it doesn’t really age. It just keeps orbiting the Earth and dropping in for occasional visits, a transporter beam to sonic bliss, vicarious thrills and unconditional understanding of our own unique strangeness and individuality. Just like Major Tom, David Bowie is still out there somewhere and always will be.
And now for something completely different… Since man cannot live by vintage alone I’m starting the New Year off big — literally! — by offering up a modern watch, albeit one with a definite neo-vintage feel. It’s an oversized diver crafted in sandblasted steel by Vintage VDB, a small manufacturer located in Erfurt, Germany.
This is one of only 40 examples in this blasted configuration, truly living up to that much-abused term Limited Edition. But that’s not all that makes this “No Limit” stand out — it’s a real beast at 46mm wide x 56mm long x 17mm thick, as rugged as they come. And unlike most of Vintage VDB’s offerings it has long, conventional lugs that make it a bit more versatile for average sized wrists in my opinion. Of course, if you’re already a fan of oversized divers like Panerai, Kaventsmann and Ennebi Fondale you will pull this bad boy off with aplomb.
This handsome model also features a lot of carefully chosen details with definite allusions to famous Blanpain, Omega and Rolex/Tudor tool watches. To wit: A really great looking matte black dial with applied luminous-filled markers. Cool red accents including the reverse printed “No Limit” badge. White-on-black date at “3”. Brushed steel luminous-filled sword-and-dagger hands with classic Rolex-style “dot” sweep seconds hand. Plus, all the Luminova on the dial & hands has really nice creamy vintage-style patina added. That all ads up to something of a modern classic in its own right to my eyes.
This uncommon VDB Vintage “No Limit” comes complete with box, card and extra strap and is available at a significant savings over the factory’s MSRP, which already represents remarkable value for money when you consider the impressive construction and high quality ETA movement ticking away inside that huge mass of steel. So if you’re looking for a tough-as-nails military-inspired diver in a jumbo modern package, look no further. The “No Limit” has got your name on it.
We at MFL would like to wish a Happy New Year to all our loyal readers and occasional visitors. We really appreciate you stopping by in 2015 and wish you & yours all the very best in 2016.
Our New Year’s Resolution is to keep on marching to the beat of our own drummer and expanding our horizons to all things interesting and gentlemanly and then hopefully sharing that with you. What’s yours?