Today the Observer’s Music Monthly breathed its last with a rollout of the decade’s best albums. As you’d expect it was deeply wishy-washy, with many Dizzee namedrops and Mike Skinner jocking. The reason? Because ‘best album’ polls are generally dated before the voting journos involved have even hit send on that mail with the rich text attachment.
Opinions are like rectums and all that, because while Spiritualized topped ’97 polls in several publications, looking at recent polls, the dated ‘Urban Hymns‘ and overrated ‘OK Computer‘ have lapped ‘Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space‘ and its celestial glory. Which is, of course, an injustice. While Yorke read ‘No Logo’ and became toe-curlingly politicised in the most fey, ineffectual manner, and Ashcroft moped about solo in Wallabees, Jason Pierce and his fellow cosmonauts kept the faith, even if commercial success gradually rolled back to a cult following.
It’s apparent that Camber don’t do funny business. There’s an enduring mystery to this sports/workwear brand that’s nicely at odds with every other brand letting the blogsphere see every inch of their inner workings down to the guts – they make great product, so hard wearing that it nearly falls into the current workwear boom that’s got your local hipster hotspot looking like dress rehearsals for ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ with added GORE-TEX. This has been the year of the heritage range. Marketing guy spots local urchins in denim and workboots, discovers the hype blogs and realises that all they need is their old logo on a patch, Vibram on the sole and voila! They’re in the running.
In the tumble to show just how goddamn old and authentic they are, old brands are acting less like the bemused Farnklin Davis who expressed concern for Ben Davis fan Snoop Dogg around the time he was aquitted of murder charges, “I heard something about that Snoop Dogg guy getting in trouble…” or a crotchety old man chasing a young man in cropped chinos wielding a DMC-GF1 off his factory property. Nope. Now it’s all blogger tours and storytelling.
You’ve got to salute anyone taking the plunge into paper at a time when magazines meet their makers faster than the startling, saddening number of A, B and C-listers over the last five months. That’s not to say that just because you’re bloody minded enough to swim against the deadly swells of the magazine industry’s slow decline your publication will be any good, but it’s admirable nonetheless. With any luck, the new breed of editors and publishers will possess a single percent of the lunacy of Tom Forcade rather than sitting blandly in an office of vintage Eames pieces, stroking a vintage Woolrich coat.
For those of us a little bored of “you weren’t there maaaaaaaan” yippie types talking about dropping out and pranking folks, it’s nice to hear about something genuinely subersive, and the origins of High Times are just that. Tom started the magazine in 1974 with 12k and the proceeds of a drug deal and what could have been a burn-out fanzine, was a glossy creation, well-designed, hiring the best writers and at one point carrying over a hundred staffers. The professionalism of the Trans-High Corporation just made it all the more subversive.
I’ve been thinking about ‘Tron Legacy’ a lot today. Here’s a spot of cinephile autobiography: I can break down my entire existence film by film. Officially, the film that I love the most is ‘The Outsiders’ but for all-out impact for the last twenty seven years the film has been ‘Tron.’ Why? Because it made me into a heathen. Before you assume it’s because this computerised ’82 epic made me contemplate our role in the world, technology’s prominence as the new god or Flynn’s faithless conquest over dark forces, it wasn’t that. I was four for fuck’s sake. On the run up to the film’s release I got hyped. Probably more hyped than you’ll ever know. Sick. Ill with the hype. So much so that my folks began to worry that I could be autistic.
When you grab a documentary on DVD you expect great extras as standard. Plexifilm’s ‘Style Wars’ remains a pinnacle. You’d be forgiven for assuming that excised interview segments removed for the sake of brevity, supporting information, galleries, where-are-they-nows and all that other good stuff should come as standard, but if you saw Revolver’s atrocious ‘Beautiful Losers’ release, bare-bones and inexplicably pitched as a skate movie, you’ll soon realise just how spoilt you’ve been. Likewise, their ‘Tyson’ disc was devoid of extras too, despite thirty plus hours of interviews compressed into ninety minutes and even the forthcoming apology/cash-in by way of double disc is just a rehash of existing fight footage. The moral? Lower those expectations beyond the main feature.
Superb UK skate exploration ‘Rolling Through The Decades’ was two hours already, but the extra forty minutes provided answers to any questions raised, and on the announcement that Coan Nichols and Rick Charnoski’s ‘Deathbowl To Downtown’ was due out as a digital disc there was a certain excitement. Especially in the UK which was, despite vocalising frustrations, omitted from the film’s screening schedule. Now this exploration of New York’s skate history is available to buy, curiously, there’s been little global distribution (in the meantime, buy a copy from www.deathbowltodowntown.com) or fleshing out of the extras beyond cryptic talk of two discs and the nifty accompanying fanzine-style booklet. This ambiguity could prevent purchase, so it’s time to take a quick tour of the mysterious second disc.
Allow me the indulgence of breaking habit, and posting something athletic-footwear based on this blog. I’m aware there’s another sit for this kind of thing, but alas, at time-of-writing, all things army are tinged with controversy and matters of Ministry Of Defence military issue quality are deeply topical. I’ve been known to complain about build on a product, but when it’s a matter of life or death rather than cracked paint on the sole, it’s something else altogether.
As a result, the release of Nike’s Special Forces Boot earlier in the year was a subdued one rather than a bells and whistles affair. So I thought I’d spotlight it here instead in a rare moment of product focus. I also think a lot of the writeups I’ve seen elsewhere have been pretty dry.
I don’t know much about art, but I know what I hate. I also don’t know an awful lot about graffiti either – my tagging career stalled through cowardice, a piss-poor handstyle and leaking marker pens annhilating my Karl Kanis. You see, I knew when to stop. Some people just don’t. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but while I’m a hip-hop fanboy, I quickly tired of talk of graffiti as a hip-hop ‘element.’ That’s constrictive bullshit. I prefer my writers to listen to Slayer or Grand Funk Railroad, rather than body-popping to the local legal wall and cloning DOZE characters. That said, I loathe…LOATHE, the new breed of ‘street art’ and those inspired to paint weak political statements on walls constructed from GCSE sociology and punchlines from last week’s ‘Have I Got News For You.’ Wheatposting your character in London’s hipster hotspots in the dead-of-night? Getthefuckouttahere. Grow the balls to do a throw-up you fucking coward.