Have All The Real Men Actually Settled On Mars?

Vivek Nagrani – My Two Bits


A young Marlon Brando.


I have been wondering why Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are so fascinated with colonizing Mars. It finally struck me, real men seem to have already commenced the colonization of Mars. The aforementioned pioneers are simply setting up shop so eventually women can move there and the human population can be saved.

Maybe I am out on my own here, but I just do not see any great male role models. Be it sports, music, fashion, or film, I am lost when someone asks me who I see as a great role model. I have had to revert to the fictional character Bruce Wayne to serve as my muse for what I think a man should be.

I get it, times change and that forces change across the board. However, there are basic elements that have defined masculinity since the dawn of time and will continue for our existence – which may not be that long if Trump gets high on a super size value meal and decides to press the big button on his desk. Thank God he does not realize its just a buzzer that is connected to his favorite fast food joint.

Steve McQueen in cru tee, jeans, and sneakers.


What the hell has really happened? When I look back in time, men learned from their father’s who learned from their fathers. But today’s times are different and today’s youth are on their own. My dad sure as hell never used Tinder or eHarmony to meet women. This leaves a vacant space that where the rules have yet to be established. There are no social norms yet, no rules, no benchmarks for what is considered the right way.

In addition, society has just become accustomed to mediocrity. From product to talent, we live in a world where being average is acceptable. Kids win trophies for “participating” rather than actually winning by excelling. Innovation seems to be limited to the Billionaire Boys Club and the rest find solace in just re-making low hanging fruits. Today anyone willing to video themselves doing stupid shit can become a celebrity. Get a YouTube channel and you are a television star.  No one bothers to actually read these days either. What happened to actual talent? Just listen to today’s music. I do not want to sound like a crazy old guy but seriously, WTF is going on?

What really makes me nervous is the future of my eight year old daughter. Not so much for her but more for me. What kind of son in law am I going to be stuck with? So what is it to be a gentleman in today’s time? I sat down and had drinks with a cross section of women to find out what it is that makes a man today. Remember, times have changed and it is important that we are always evolving, but ironically, a lot of the basic traits that defined masculinity in the past seem to be exactly what has been forgotten today.

Circa 1940: American actor Humphrey Bogart (1899 – 1957) sitting on a fence smoking a pipe. (Photo by John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)


New/old rules that every man should follow in today’s uncharted times:

1.  A man should always open the door for a lady, the elderly and the less capable.

2.  A man should actually call when he is seeking the the audience of a woman.

3.  A man should take pride in not just what he wears but how he wears it.

4.  A man should always be gracious and polite to others… until deemed unworthy.

5.  A man should know his limits when it comes to drinking or other recreational drugs.

6.  A man should be physically fit or at least make an attempt to stay in shape.

7.  A man should be well-groomed. Never over-groomed or under-groomed, just groomed.

8.  A man should read at least two books a year (at this point, just reading is sufficient).

9.  A man should know how to cook three basic meals and do his own laundry if need be.

10.  A man should be able to keep a clean and tidy residence.


Lessons In Style From: Steve McQueen

There is no debating it: Steve McQueen is the King of Cool. His style has been a staple in men’s fashion since he first stepped onto the world stage, emulated time and again by men looking to ditch all the bullshit and cut straight to the core of style. In the last four decades, there hasn’t been another person to come along and dramatically impact what men wear as much as Steve McQueen.

But what exactly made him the standard-bearer for men’s clothing? VK Nagrani takes a look at some lessons in style to be learned from Steve McQueen below.

1. The Suit


The suits McQueen sports in “The Thomas Crown Affair” are a perfect showcase of how a well-tailored suit can accentuate a role. He is every part millionaire businessman playboy. The broad cut of the shoulders in the jacket over the signature three-piece with square bottom waistcoat and perfectly dimpled tie. Combine all these things next to that hot car and you have a sophisticated outfit that oozes power.

2. Casual Weekend Wear


In Old Hollywood, there was a certain masculinity that you don’t find anymore. Today’s celebs don’t walk the walk quite the way they used to. Steve McQueen looked like a badass because he was a badass. He was every bit as stylish on screen as he was off of it. In the above picture, you can see that with just the right pair of sunglasses you can turn a plain white tee into a bold—just-got-off-work-at-the-ass-kicking-factory—kind of look.

3. The Canadian Tux


Double denim is notoriously hard to pull off, but with the confidence of a hundred honey badgers, Steve McQueen did it effortlessly. The secret is to use different shades of denim, so try a stonewash shirt and an indigo pair of jeans to create the contrast needed. Add some sturdy leather boots to create a rugged aesthetic that forces you to have to try to not look masculine.

4. Signature


The most important lesson that can be taken away from Steve McQueen is to add your own signature to every look you create. Lightweight jackets are an essential part of the modern man’s ensemble, and you can see why up above. The navy Barracuta Harrington with a matching knit sweater underneath highlights the lining and creates the focal point of the entire look. His real signature was the Persol sunglasses he rocked in nearly every outfit he wore.

In the great Pantheon of Style Gods, Steve McQueen is Zeus. He took a look that has seemingly been around since the beginning of modern clothes and wore them in a way that has yet to be added to in any significant way.

Stay tuned to VK Nagrani’s Blog for more style lessons from legendary men!


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VKN Badass Guys: Steve McQueen

Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Badass Guys Series.

Few actors were as popular or embodied the pursuit of action and adventure like Steve McQueen. The King of Cool made many films in his career, some incredible (Papillon, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Cincinnati Kid, Bullitt, Magnificent Seven, The Sand Pebbles) others leaving much to be desired (Defender, Soldier in the Rain, Dixie Dynamite, The Light at the Edge of the World) but the one thing that remained constant was his rebelliousness and originality in his work and life.

Let’s take a look at why VK Nagrani thinks Steve McQueen is badass.

1. His Childhood was Anything But Stable

Born to a stunt pilot father in a flying circus, and an alcoholic, occasional-prostitute mother— McQueen’s upbringing was anything but stable. To top it off, he was dyslexic and after a lingering ear infection, became partially deaf. McQueen’s earliest years were spent on a farm with his Uncle Claude and his grandparents before his mother took him back at the age of eight. By age nine, McQueen left home to live on the streets after several beatings by the hands of his stepfather. Unsurprisingly, McQueen became a hoodlum on the streets before his mother sent him back to Uncle Claude’s farm.

McQueen eventually returned to his mother at her request, but the same old story unfolded: a new stepfather and McQueen began a toxic, physical relationship forcing McQueen to leave home again, eventually ending up at good ole Uncle Claude’s. Then McQueen left Claude’s unannounced and joined the circus. Then he landed back with his mother and stepfather, resuming crime life. After a run-in with police and McQueen’s stepfather throwing him down a flight of stairs as punishment, McQueen was sent to California Junior Boys Republic after his stepfather persuaded his mother to sign a court order claiming the young McQueen to be “incorrigible.”

2. He Had Countless Lives, Struck it Big, and Then Remembered Where He Came From

Through all his success and fame, McQueen never forgot where he came from. McQueen left the Boys Republic at age 16, but not without ascending to the Boys Council, a leadership organization that set the rules and regulations governing the school. It was upon returning to live with his mother where he met two sailors and volunteered to serve on a ship headed to the Dominican Republic. The typical McQueen would abandon his assignment and become a towel boy in a brothel, according to Marc Eliot’s Steve McQueen: A Biography. But McQueen wasn’t done there. He worked as an oil rigger, lumberjack, petty criminal and a trinket salesman in the carnival as well. But McQueen didn’t forget about the Boys Republic, coming back throughout his life to hangout with the boys and speak about his experiences.

3. He Served, Rebelliously, And Then Served Well

McQueen joined the United States Marine Corps in 1947 in a move to put his troubled, reckless life behind him. His career in the Marine Corps was a bit tumultuous like his life to-date at that point. He was actually promoted to private first class, but then was demoted seven times to private, unable to shake the rebellious nature he had so often gravitated to. He even spent 41 days in the brig after taking an unauthorized leave to stay with a girlfriend and resisting arrest when the shore patrol found him. It was through the brig where he turned it all around, focusing his energy on self-improvement and the discipline serving in the Marine Corps takes. He saved five of his fellow marines after an Arctic exercise went awry, and was honorably discharged in 1950, even enjoying a stint as an honor guard on President Harry Truman’s yacht.

4. He Became the World’s Highest Paid Actor and Then Did Something Else

McQueen was notoriously difficult to work with. He was often combative with directors, fought with other costars (Paul Newman) on billing and the amount of lines he had in the script (The Towering Inferno) – yet, he still rose to the top of the earning charts. After 1974’s The Towering Inferno, McQueen wouldn’t act in another film for four years, despite him earning five million per picture with another 15 percent of the gross sales. He instead traveled the country in a motor home and raced his vintage motorcycles. He would come back with 1978’s An Enemy of the People, but would only make two more films before his death at the age of 50.

5. He Lived By the Edge of His Pants

He didn’t garner the nickname “The King of Cool” for nothing. He propelled the anti-hero image with his work in Wanted: Dead or Alive and never strayed from it. McQueen raced motorcycles (was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame), loved race cars, flew planes and did many of his own stunts. Perhaps you’ll recall the car chase scene in Bullitt or the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape? In fact, McQueen owned a large number of sports cars, classic motorcycles and planes—most notably a 1931 Pitcairn PA-8 biplane, flown in the US Mail Service by WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker.

McQueen was also a stern student of the martial art Tang Soo Do, of which he studied under the tutelage of ninth-degree black belt Pat E. Johnson. Heck, The Rolling Stones even wrote a song about him, the ultra-dirty “Star Star,” part of the band’s 1973 album Goats Head Soup. The guy may as well not have even worn pants (he probably didn’t most of the time).

6. He Became a Born-Again Christian Shortly Before His Death

McQueen was raised as a Catholic, but due to his upbringing, it’s no surprise it didn’t stick. But even for the most reckless and wild of us, we eventually grow old, feel less invincible and begin to turn inward to ourselves. According to his third wife Barbara’s book, Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, McQueen became a Born-Again Evangelical Christian through the influence of his flying instructor Sammy Mason. McQueen attended church service regularly until his death and his ashes were spread across the Pacific Ocean.

Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more editions of our Badass Guys Series.