Tanaka's books are part Boswell, part Margaret Meadto those who see truth and purpose in worn T-shirts stinky with resin and B.O. from retired pro surfers such as Mickey Munoz; dead-stock, never-worn T-shirts touting Iskenderian racing cams, Muscle Beach or doing it in a van; as well as Captain America-style motorcycle helmets and 1970s clothing catalogs.
And then the question isn't why our old stuff and old people were so great; it's why we don't revere them now, why there's not a Steve McQueen library, a museum of vintage leather jackets, a publicly available collection by the two feuding Brucker brothers who bought all the Von Dutch and Ed Roth artifacts, or a motorcycle helmet repository.
This is a history you don't read in books—well, except ones like Tanaka's.
"Nowadays, lots of people are dying, so this is the last time to research this era," Tanaka says. "So I'm always in a hurry to meet them before they die."