History | A Continuous Lean. - Page 3

The Secret of that Capitol Studios Sound.

Dec 2nd, 2013 | Categories: History, John Peabody, Los Angeles | by John Peabody


There are a few magical studios with such amazing sound that they have become sort of sonic temples for musicians who dream of making musical pilgrimages to them. There’s Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit, home to the Motown sound. There’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama where artists like Wilson Picket and Otis Redding honed the 60’s southern soul sound.

And then there’s Capitol Records studios in Los Angeles. Housed in the iconic circular building on Hollywood and Vine, it’s uniquely famous as much for what it looks like on the outside, as what’s been created on the inside.

Designed in 1956, the building was actually not meant to resemble a stack of records but well…happy coincidence. A red light, like a beacon, atop the tower flashes “Hollywood” in morse code. And inside the building artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, The Beach Boys, The Beastie Boys and so many more have laid down countless hits.

Hillary and Norgay | Back on Level Ground

Nov 13th, 2013 | Categories: History, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher


Few stories inspire quite like that of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 Everest climb. While Hillary and Norgay’s pioneering Everest expedition has remained one of the most fabled tales of all time, influencing everyone from other explorers, to Nigel Cabourn, to Mr. Lean himself the duo’s legacy stretches far beyond the mountain. Hillary and Norgay might be best known for those shots of them grinning at the summit in some seriously covetable parkas, but the photos of them back on level ground, still grinning in their rakish suits and eccentric outfits are just as notable. Stay humble, on and off the mountain. —JG

60 Years Since Hillary And Norgay Summit Everest

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Introducing the Patagonia Legacy Collection.

Jul 11th, 2013 | Categories: California, History, Menswear | by Michael Williams


A few months ago I made the trip to Ventura, California and stood in the parking lot where Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard embarked on one of his first climbing trips to Argentina. The point of my journey to Patagonia the company wasn’t to tour historic parking lots, it was the see a new collection of clothing that was inspired by the early and important Patagonia clothing that Yvon Chouinard created in that very same spot. Launching this September, the Patagonia Legacy collection is a small ten-piece capsule of product that traces back to the original items from the forty years of Patagonia. The scale of the company has grown over the past four decades, but the mission and the core values remain intact, much like the building in which it all started.

Before I made the trip to California, I saw the Legacy collection at a small preview in New York. I was, admittedly, pretty nervous going in to see it. Often times, these types of historically slanted collections can be tricky and scary to the purists. The last thing we want is some heavy-handed re-interpretation for no good reason. I learned at that preview, and also later in Ventura, that heavy-handed is not Patagonia’s M.O. The Legacy collection is a subtle and steady take on the already great items from the Patagonia’s past.


The foundry where Yvon Chouinard first started blacksmithing metal climbing instruments under the Great Pacific Iron Works name that is still on the front of the building. The shop remains completely intact and is still fully functional. I’m told occasionally Yvon will still work in this shop as a blacksmith.

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The Big Secret at the Clinton Engineering Works.

Jun 14th, 2013 | Categories: History | by Michael Williams



In April of 2012 I posted about Oak Ridge, Tenneesee, one the U.S. government’s secret Manhattan Project sites that was established to produce the fuel for the first Atom bomb. The post was spurred by the Department of Energy and the digitization of their photo archives, which included a lot of long classified photos of the secret town. You can read all about it here.

That post got a lot of attention and people all over the world were curious to see the photos and learn about how a town of over 80,000, which was home to the largest building in the world at the time (the K-25 enrichment building at CEW, which is pictured above and below), had the 10th largest bus network in America and used more power than the whole of New York City managed to remain a closely held secret.

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Checking In | La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel

Jun 9th, 2013 | Categories: California, Checking In, History | by Michael Williams


It took a lot of coaxing to get me to visit San Diego. Having spent so much time in L.A. and San Francisco for work and increasingly for fun, I had honestly relegated San Diego near the bottom of my list of places to visit in the Golden State. My girlfriend of nearly two years, who grew up in La Jolla, was determined to change my thinking (a talent girlfriends wield skillfully) on the subject of San Diego. Her weapon of choice? The historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Knowing my appreciation for provenance, this was a shrewd and ultimately successful move.


JFK’s New England Fish Chowder.

Jun 4th, 2013 | Categories: Food, History | by Michael Williams

JFK (1)

Going through the John F. Kennedy archives I came across this recipe for New England Fish Chowder. Apparently, chowder was the favorite dish of JFK —pictured here sailing on the Presidential yacht Manitou near Hyannis Port, Mass. which was one of his favorite activities.

Could this be the beginning of an archival food section for ACL? Unlikely. But nevertheless it’s an amusing little piece of history. Someone please follow this recipe and report back.


Images via the John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA.

Georgia on my Mind.

May 4th, 2013 | Categories: Americana, History | by Michael Williams


The Boston Public Library has a massive and impressive digital photo archive, which is open for all to enjoy via Flickr. The collection has yielded other interesting ACL posts in the past, and an image search recently led to this collection of old Georgia post cards from roughly 1930-1945.

I’ve spent the past few days in Southeast Georgia (Jekyll, St. Simons & Sea Island) and it got me looking around for old pictures and along came these nearly 600 great old postcards from all over the state of Georgia. Nice stuff here from the BPL as usual.