Torn Sweater/Little Bastard



These were taken by Roy Schatt in 1954.

I watched Rebel without a cause today and fell a little bit in love with James Dean. I enjoyed the romantic ideals and rebellion against tradition explored by the youth in the film. When I say youth, I really mean twenty somethings posing as teenagers. Ultimately the rebellion turns full circle as we see Jim Stark (Dean) fall in love and settle in a disused mansion, a sort of dystopian dream house. Throughout, Stark (and the picture in general) confronts masculinity, and asks "What does it mean to be a man?" And this question I find relevant to my own thoughts lately as I have been exploring with in myself the idea of femininity and the so called "stronger sex". The following questions are ones that I pose: Have I ever actually met a 'real man', someone completely strong, someone who is a complete protector? Can this type of person ever truly exist? Is it all just false expectation laid down upon us by a bunch of fairy tales. What does it mean to be strong? In the film it turns out that the courage to be sensitive is what fills Stark with masculinity. That and (well for me at least) his strong complex enigmatic persona. Perhaps man is truly a man when he has mystery about him. Perhaps they are only strong when their mouths are shut because when they are open they are like children. I'm not complaining. I would not like to add a "Am I right girls?" to the end of that sentence. I enjoy that men are essentially children at heart. The alpha male is obnoxious at the best of times, but it is particularly repulsive when you can see a small boy in his eyes. So who is the stronger sex? The Male or the Female? Weaker or stronger, what ever your sex, you are mostly just weak until you have that other sex by your side. Unless you are gay, the same sex scenario is essentially the same (there is a huge question mark next to the sexuality of James Dean). The love of a someone creates a new strength, a new sex. Together we become strong. Yet there is always a part of the self in tears, weakening you, wanting you to fall.....

Little Bastard....
And he fell. James Dean died a year after the previous photos were taken.
Interestingly, since his death a legend has formed around the car, Porsche 550 Spyder, and it's supposed curse. Could it be true that several accidents have occurred since Deans death involving the aforementioned automobile? Deaths, injuries, damaged property.The legend is as follows (cited from athingforcars.com)


Car designer George Barris bought the wreck for $2,500. On delivery, the Porsche slipped off its trailer and broke the legs of a mechanic. A doctor from Beverly Hills, Troy McHenry, bought the engine of the Little Bastard and put it in his own Porsche. The first time he took the car out, the vehicle spun out of control and crashed into a tree. He was killed on the spot.
Another physician, William Eschrid, bought the transmission of Dean’s Porsche. He went racing – some say against McHenry – and, going in a curve, the car rolled over. He was seriously injured.

Barris sold two tires of the wreck, which were unharmed in the accident, to an unnamed New Yorker. The tires blew up simultaneously, causing the car to go off the road. It was not reported what happened with the driver.

Two young thieves were injured while they attempted to steal parts of Little Bastard. Barris decided to store the cursed car safely away, but the bad luck kept coming from the hunk of twisted metal. In 1959, a fire broke out in the Fresno garage where Dean’s Porsche had been stored.

In that year, the Dean mania was still intense and so the California State Highway Patrol thought of transporting the mangled vehicle to local high schools and show teenagers the dangers of high speed driving. Little Bastard was put on exhibit in Sacramento, fell from its display and broke the hip of a teenager. On the way to Salinas, the flatbed truck with the Spyder on it 
lost control and the driver was crushed by the Porsche.

Little Bastard still was very popular and George Barris took the cursed car on a tour to the other states. On the anniversary of James Dean’s death, September 30, a fifteen year old boy was standing about twelve to fifteen feet away from the exhibit. As if broken by spectral hands, three bolts snapped. The car plowed forward and crushed both of the boy’s legs.

In 1960, Barris decided to have Little Bastard shipped back home to California. In Florida, the Porsche was loaded into a boxcar, the door carefully sealed. When the train arrived in Los Angeles, the seal was still intact… but Little Bastard was missing. Private detectives went after the car of James Dean, but they could not find it. The Little Bastard mysteriously vanished and has not been seen since…
Some of these so called 'facts' are not facts at all, for example Barris did not originally purchase the wreck but the mere shell. And Troy McHenry died in a Lotus not a Porche. Beyond this not much else can be verified. Snopes.com (the most reliable urban legend de-bunker) places a little white circle next to the story which means "unclassifiable veracity". So perhaps if you believe in such things as curses this is quite plausible. Otherwise it is just another one of the mysteries surrounding Dean, and another one of those pesky urban legends that I absolutely cannot wait to tell to my nephew Sebastian when he gets a little older. 


Little Bastard, Car With a Curse....



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