Sometimes, just sometimes, there’s too much for one blog entry, but not quite enough to be broken down into a number of blogs. So the solution is to just shoehorn them into a solitary roundup, even if there’s no relevance between each topic. That’s how we do round these parts. This is one of those days. Lots of subjects on the mind that need to be put down in pixel, some trivial, some inspirational.
i. JACOB HOLDT
Everyone’s a fucking photographer now. That point’s been raised here before. Glen Friedman made some interesting points on the current wave of snappers in a recent ‘Juztapoz’ and while wilfully amateurish, warts and all is the order-of-the-day, there’s a sense that the current aesthetic lets a few chancers in the backdoor. If you’re going to sacrifice technique, for fuck’s sake shoot something pertinent, rather than some pallid coke slag in tube socks. Larry Clark, Nan Goldin frequently shock me into submission, and Stephen Shore altered my perception of the mundane, but Denmark’s Jacob Holdt is the man behind the greatest book of photos to date – ‘American Pictures’ (sadly out of print again) – seemingly an oddball idealist, he threw himself into a documentation of the American dream gone sour, specifically focusing on race and class relations.
Funded by blood donations and goodwill, wielding his Canon Dial, he compiled something extraordinary. Still powerful, and sadly, still relevant, his documented experiences and accompanying text – Jacob’s keen to reinforce this isn’t art photography – are unsurpassed. As a book and show, it was last updated in 1997, but while his personal website might look a little rudimentary, the whole of ‘American Pictures’ is online here. The follow-up from the images going public was even odder – the KGB got involved and he was involved at the premiere of ‘Precious’ too, having had a relationship with the film and book’s lesbian author Sapphire back in the day. As we’re shocked by the news that Terry Richardson loves to get his dick out, and that fellow dirty old man Dov Charney’s empire seems to have gone cockeyed, it’s worth taking it back to something real for inspiration. Vice’s recent interview with Holdt was good too.
ii. ALL BROWN EVERYTHING
Alongside Nasir, Shawn Carter isn’t one of the best-dressed rappers out there, seemingly in flux between getting his grown man on and dressing like its still 1997 with a touch of TK Maxx in there too. Still, his line on ‘Run This Town’ made an impact – watch it repped by the big brands later this year. While the young ‘uns can pull it off, what about those of us who look like cat burglars, Milk Tray men or mimes in a fully noir ensemble? What’s wrong with brown? Carhartt’s duck canvas and the current Dickies line do it well, but what about some other rugged mediums? Rest assured, this blog makes efforts to minimise the levels of cooing over chambray fabric – you can see that in every corner of the internet. Spit in the wind in any hipster hotspot and you’ll stain some fade-effect cotton with saliva. But why is there so little brown chambray out there? Buzz Rickson’s excellent Mock-Twist shirt comes in brown, and is a worthy purchase, and the chambray chino from Lofgren and Cushman is something different. Still, grey, pale blue and red have a tendency to run things.
How about denim? Brown jeans are a tough one – they’re out there, but chocolate-brown APCs and Levi’s have been lacking. There’s distant memories of Tenderloin making something decent along those lines, but Sugar Cane made a good dyed version back when they were homaging the red tab device. The current SC40302A version that uses persimmon juice to get the brown hue seems a little fussy. Superfuture’s got a whole discussion on persimmon denim colouring going on – apparently it oxidises and, contrary to the preoccupation with gradual fade, gets darker with age.
Personally, as admirable as these creations can be, the obsession and proliferation of retailers nerding out with the reproduction brands can occasionally lose sight of denim’s no-frills intent and make product as far-fetched as any overtly distressed, boot cut monstrosity – an abject case of when keeping-it-real goes wrong. But then again, the notion of brown denim is presumably inauthentic from the very beginning. Hence duck canvas’s popularity. All suggestions on this matter are welcome…brown jeans wanted, preferably selvedge and preferably not as part of some madcap natural colour science experiment.
NYHC stalwarts seem to be pushing the self-help mantra even further with some interesting side projects. Toby from H2O is going school to school for the ‘One Life One Chance‘ initiative which espouses the benefits of straight edge and empowerment to schoolkids. The west coast’s school system gets Toby, we got mumbling policemen telling us tales of “wacky baccy” and mystery pills. Respect to Toby for that move. The images on the site with some D.A.R.E. tie-in were an odd one – having seen the tees worn ironically, I’d always been apprehensive of that project, but presumably, Mr. Morse knows the deal there better than I do. Additionally, Cro-Mag John Joseph is following up ‘The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ (which you really should have read by now) with the brilliantly titled ‘Meat Is For Pussies‘ which, from reviews, sounds like ‘Fast Food Nation’ with bigger biceps and a lot more ink. Looking forward to picking it up. THC and red meat are my downfalls – I’m open to being swayed by these two underground figures on those issues.
Seeing as Positive Mental Attitude plays its part there, it’s worth taking a brief look at the history of P.M.A. – self-help author Napoleon Hill included it in his seminal philosophy of achievement tome, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ back in 1937 before teaming up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone to pen ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ in 1960. Stone, a notable conservative, donated around 10 million dollars to Richard Nixon’s election campaign. HR from Bad Brains was introduced to Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in the late ’70s and P.M.A. became part of the doctrine of the early hardcore scene. Unlike Stone’s outlook, HR’s “A true person would never vote for any politician, especially Ronald Begin and his husband Nancy because they eat many taxpayers jellybeans.” section in his ‘DO’S AND DON’TS OF A TRUE PERSON’ approaches things from a different angle politically. With Bad Brains’ heavy weed intake, and what came next for their career – some major drug issues for some members – positivity never necessarily meant abstinence, but by its very nature, it’s open to reinterpretation. Hence Toby’s version, continuing the lineage of P.M.A. in hardcore for a whole new audience. Which can only be a good thing.
(Image taken from X442X’s photostream)
Some good CBGBs footage recently released from Japan-only rareness…
iv. OTHER THINGS
FANTASTIC MAN 11
Charlie Porter just previewed a new ‘Fantastic Man’ on his Twitter – no other magazine does men’s fashion like this publication. Precise, sharply written and innovative, it would never trouble itself with matters of brown denim. It’s also a step your styling and shooting game up to the wannabes. Artist Wolfgang Tillmans on the cover,’Village Voice’ and ‘Vanity Fair’s finest, Bob Colacello and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor makes this an interesting proposition. Thus, the stakeout of glum-faced London magazine hotspot RD Franks begins…
THE RESURRECTION OF KWIK ZIPS
Good to see the obsessives at Eastman Leather going even crazier on the details. The coined KWIK (“The Zippiest Zip!”) zip was the faster of choice on plenty of flight jacket designs, but has been out of production since WWII. So Eastman seem to have acquired the exclusive rights (after putting the Crown zipper on other garments) to KWIK, putting it onto items, whenever it’s historically relevant. Now that’s dedication.