Monthly Archives: September 2009

SWEATSHIRT VALHALLA

The hunt for the perfect grey sweatshirt is as troubling as the quest to find that special white t-shirt. Other clothes can come and go, but the glorious neutrality of the marl grey sweat is the piece that comes out season after season, year after year. It swoops above subcultural pigeonholes too.

Curiously, while I’ve grown in stature, I’ve reduced my sizing since my days pausing MTV Raps to gauge branding – in 1993 I was submerged in an extra-extra large oatmeal-coloured mass of hooded Carhartt. A year or so later, infuriated by the sagging waistband, intended at portly welders rather than my pre-pubescent scrawn, I downsized to a volumnious extra large. It’s notable that the sweats I sported had more longevity in crewneck form. But now I’m inclined to feel (Japanese brands aside) like a Nurishment supping car thief when I go beyond a large.

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TWISTED TALES

A long wait fuelled by fanboy hype is a dangerous thing, and after seeing the long-shelved ‘Trick ‘r Treat’, a movie originally set for a Halloween 2007 release, funded by Warner and with a Bryan Singer co-sign, plus books and merchandise tie-ins, on the runup to its October 2009 DVD release, it was decent. I wanted groundbreaking. If I’d caught it late at night or been swayed by bombastic press quotes into a rental…sorry, download, blind to the film’s content, I would’ve been satisfied. But such is the power of protracted delays and word-of-mouth that in its 82 minutes, it left me wanting.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t check it out if you’re even mildly led towards genre films – the performances are good, there’s a fair few shocks and black comedy moments, and the art direction is phenomenal. I just like my horror anthologies a little too much, and the sting in the tail of the four or five overlapping stories ‘Trick ‘r Treat’ contains seemed to have been, perhaps with the exception of Brian Cox’s eventful evening, clipped. I blame the animated comic book opening for drawing comparisons with the legendary ‘Creepshow’ – that’s a tough one to top.

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DANDYISM

“Hey, Silvio, look at Jerry here, prancing around in his coat with his purse. Yup, he’s a dandy. He’s a real fancy boy.”
– Cosmo Kramer

Anyone elseĀ  underwhelmed by the Sartorialist book when they acually had the damned thing in their hands rather than floating on a screen surrounded by hyperbolic promo blurb? Are Scott and the majority of the book’s male subjects the 21st century incarnation of a dandy? As elegant as these character are, things done changed. Buoyed by the impending Seinfeld ‘non’ reunion and deflated by the diminutive stature of said tome, the concept of dandyism has been on my mind.

The approach to elegance isn’t quite as extreme as it should be. I was first introduced to the notion of a dandy in his more fantastical sense when I was handed an archaic Terry’s chocolate box filled with cigarette cards. For the uninitiated, the act of smoking in the UK was once enlivened by the addition of themed cards in sets of, say, fifty – like cancer-causing Pokemon.

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INFORMATION OVERLOAD

Relax, it’s not one of those lame “today I freeloaded...” mention-in-exchange-for-a-freebie blog entries. I overreached myself attempting to blog from the BlackBerry. Hence the lo-fi image above – the Bold in its current incarnations seems to afford its indoor camera subjects with a cateract soft-focus tint. Mission aborted. As one of those rare good magazine weeks, this is the pile of print I’ve opted to absorb this weekend. Too much information. Except Wallpaper* – still too smarmy to warrant anything beyond a browse. I only bought it for the cover.

Back in 1996, when my internet use was confined to looking for nude female celebrity images that loaded…very…slowly, Sandbox Distribution, old TV theme tunes that wouldn’t play on RealAudio Player and haplessly trying to navigate Nike-based newsgroups, my computer habit was minimal. It wasn’t until an impassioned fanboy speech on Ras Kass’s Patchwerk career and Coolio affiliations that winter over bong hits caused my friend James to explain his fear that I could suffer some form of meltdown from “information overload” – he even cited some vague example of a university professor who’d been looking into the effects of, for want of a better term, memorising too much crap.

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R.I.P. +1 & THE PALACE WAYWARDS BOOK CLUB

I like having a favourite section in a magazine or newspaper. Funkenklein’s ‘Gangsta Limpin’, The Perry Bible Fellowship, The Rap Bandit, a free rag’s ‘Pet Of The Day’ or Jonathan Bernstein‘s ‘Aerial View Of America’ and as with those four examples, I’m usually left to mourn them. Either the publication goes under, or the scribe loses their edge, passes away or gets the boot for being too damn niche. Seeing as I let myself be so susceptable that I believe I’m not susceptible in the slightest, secretly, I’m open to a regular guru to point me in the direction of specific products.

Take books for example – your common garden hipster doofus might try to foist the likes of ‘Steppenwolf’ on you, but the reality is, it’s just a percieved must-read they pretended to read. No disrespect to Mr. Hesse, but that book let me down. I don’t want to go down the Dan Brown route or weepily speed-read ‘A Cat Named Darwin’ either. And I’m too lazy to withstand the weekend book reviews, and trawl through the Peter Carey dickriding. That’s why Stuart Hammond’s ‘Palace Waywards Book Club’ – the literary spinoff from the Palace Waywards Boys Club crew, that reinforced those skater stereotypes of hidden artistic depths was the shit. It was excellent taste at work, but was also, with +1 magazine’s passing just a few weeks ago, nipped in the bud.

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MEN'S 'FASHION' BLOGGERS – FADE TO BEIGE

Back in the early ’00s, when it was ‘cool’ to document reissued athletic footwear and the plethora of lurid apparel, including referential screenprinted shirts, beyond the core of fine English-language sites, Being Hunted being a primary example, an explosion of bad imitators sprang up. An inevitability. Then, circa 2007, the whole damn thing imploded in a mess of all-over logoed cotton fleece and excess zipper fabric. This was a good thing, as something most certainly needed to give.

In 2009, things are pleasantly aimless, but those nomadic bloggers need something else to cover – and that’s led to a strange mix of Vuitton, Eames, Watanabe, Alden, Kimmel, Swooshes, Italian bikes, Carhartt, shoddy ‘street art’ and even the onetime sanctuary of Far Eastern repro brands like Real McCoy (hopefully Cushman will be left alone) opened up to a newer section of the blogsphere. Noone can actually gauge the current zeitgeist, but as per usual, it looks like bunch of people feigning ‘over it’ and not giving a fuck when secretly, they really, really do. So it’s exactly as it was before then, but a great deal more scattershot (or should that be scattershit?).

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B+ – VISUALLY DIGGING

Whether you were there at the very start, were overseas feverishly browsing Subway Art or just stacking dog-eared XXLs, someone has helped define how hip-hop looks to you. George DuBose, Glen E. Friedman, Martha Cooper, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabaz and Brian Cross among many, many others, have made memorable contributions by amber encasing key cultural moments. Despite his B+ moniker, Limerick-born Brian Cross is far from an underachiever, putting out A-grade output for nearly two decades, from coast to coast, but calling LA home. He gives the City Of Angels a unique contribution aesthetically – appreciating the elements that only a onetime outsider could bring to the surface.

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