About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"It's the Pits"

I'm a lifelong fan of college basketball. I've had to own up to the fact that much of the fascination has less to do with the sport than with the uniforms. Unfortunately, these have changed in style over the years. Gone are the the short shorts worn by classic stars of the 50s and 60s -- folks like "Pistol Pete" Maravich and, earlier, Jerry West; later, Steve Alford, Adam Morrison, and Christian Laettner. The uniforms "evolved," and today players no longer wear the sleeveless athletic shirts ("tank tops," some call them, incorrectly). Together with tops that look more like T-shirts, too many of today's college teams wear shorts that are as long as those worn by cholos and other gang bangers.

One of the reasons the sleeveless athletic undershirt is a personal fetish is that it frames what for me has always been the sexiest part of a male body: the armpit. I always felt a little odd for finding male armpits exciting. For one thing, the media used to go to great lengths to avoid showing them. Sports TV cameramen would cut away from the free-throw shooter just as he lifted the basketball to shoulder-level, supposedly the better to show the ball flying through the air to make or miss the extra points. Lately, some cameramen are relaxing the ban (if in fact that is what it was), just as we are now seeing on TV something Europeans have glimpsed for years: bra commercials.

Simultaneously, the male armpit has become a fashionable element not only of porno but mainstream advertising. It amazed me that people who claim that "the body is the temple of God" took umbrage to photographing any part of the house of worship. Tantrics in India taught (and still do) that there is no part of the human body that is not sacred, and their position makes more sense. So I welcome the changes in awareness and allowance. It makes me a feel a whole lot less "weird."

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