Monthly Archives: July 2010

HOLY COW: BURGER BIBLES

Refraining from alcohol is easy. Living in a town were binge-drinking is a way-of-life, the notion that you could go and get slaughtered offers a curious kind of comfort. The knowledge that in the UK, a good burger could be a 7 hour trip by air, bookended by bad attitude is a tougher pill to swallow. To be denied the simple glory of meat in a bun, fused by steam feels like it should break some kind of human rights legislation. Burgers in this country are, on the whole, atrocious.

Ciabatta buns, gourmet options and an excess level of foliage (burger, bun, ketchup, cheese, grilled onion — what’s so difficult about that?) as if London’s rip-off merchants feel remorse at charging the equivalent of $12 for a solitary sandwich and need to add watery bulk. The Byron Burgers chain offers strong burgers and excellent shakes, and the buzz on the nomadic oasis of grease that is Meatwagon is building, but honesty – and here’s the part where you take a sharp intake of breath — on these shores, the McDonald’s double cheeseburger seems to offer a more accurate slice of Americana than most other offerings. That’s nothing to celebrate — it’s downright depressing.

The burger is the ultimate accessory — a democratic foodstuff, and should be, bar a certain comforting level of queue, an easygoing experience. Unless you’re a vegetarian having to substitute for fungus in a bun, it’s hard to imagine why anyone couldn’t be seduced by two patties and bread. It beats music, it beats clothes…on a creation done properly, the first bite is otherworldly. It needs to be soggy — a greaseproof sleeve or foil seem to be alien to Britain too. Japan, ever the Yankophile stronghold does burgers well – from chains to perfectly replicated diners. All a Brit can do is dream.

Chains like Five Guys, Swenson’s and the justifiably feted In-N-Out burger are the dream facilitators. If you’ve wondered why In-N-Out hasn’t gone across the States, let alone global to terrorize lazy patty practitioners, read Stacy Perman’s ‘In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast Food Chain That Breaks all the Rules’ for the lowdown. An inspiring read and the meaty antidote to ‘Fast Food Nation’s scare stories the narrative is oddly gripping that adds some extra satisfaction to your next Double-Double purchase.

Lightning’s regular ‘The Hamburger Book’ showcases some madcap creations, all beautifully shot, with some excellent slogans and portraits of the often alarmingly thin and frequently beaming proprietors. A Japanese burger tour could be an experience-of-a-lifetime. Is ‘Keyperson of Hamburger’ the best name for a chapter ever? Quite possibly. Andrew F. Smith’s ‘Hamburger: A Global History’ comes highly recommended for the cultural context that’s often absent for amateur burger scholars, but the true half-pound don-dada is the work George Motz — a filmmaker, writer and burger Jedi who’s ‘Hamburger America’ is easily top-ten food tome material. 100 standalone restaurants, no-nonsense and superior write ups that extol each filling point-of-difference that justifies inclusion. Steamed burgers, the mysterious nut burger and the deadly looking butter burger get some shine here. It’s enough to make a certain kind of male want to leave work to embark on a pilgrimage — book in hand — culminating in a massive cardiac arrest. That’s a happy death to beat any Camus narrative.

‘Hamburger America’ even comes with a DVD of the 54 minute documentary of the same name. The omission of Swenson’s was a surprise, but check George’s blog to see it receive visitation and a nod of approval. Corner Bistro in Greenwich Village recommended by the brothers Schonberger appears to be a Motz haunt too. The fully revised edition of the book arrives in early 2011, but the original comes highly recommended.

The UK can never catch up. Local pride in fast food is non-existent. You can stick your slow food and patriotism. A perfect burger is good enough to renounce citizenship over. Next week, a work trip to California is causing enough excitement to lose sleep over. The cause? Potential In-N-Out gluttony and The Apple Pan — regarding the ‘Pan, Motz says, “If there were a definitive burger in America, this would be it.” Keep your collaborations, limited editions and Apple accessories. That’s something worth getting hyped about.

OVER & UNDERRATED

(Excuse the phone cam quality)

This isn’t some contrary rant as a spoilsport reaction to the popularity of ‘Inception’ — the film is, as summer blockbusters go, excellent. Writing as someone who entered ‘The Matrix’ expecting pioneering ultraviolence and got some paranoid hacker wank-fantasy, where that failed to inspire, ‘Inception’s psyche-invasion, heist-flick approach succeeded. It’s not even that complicated. If stupid people shout “IT’S COMPLICATED” enough, a film will be deemed complex. Self-fulfilling idiocy. You could take a couple of toilet breaks and still be in the loop. Looking at the incessant speculation – possibly instigated by tiresome individuals jonesing for the thankfully defunct ‘Lost’, you’d be mistaken for thinking that you’d missed a film so complicated that you’d need to transplant Kissinger’s brain to yours, and view it 900 times — never blinking — for even the mildest comprehension. This isn’t the case. A sub-section of viewers, pleased that they’ve comprehended something less linear than the latest Dan Brown don’t want to hear this, but it’s true. I have trouble watching films in the knowledge that they’ll twist and turn.

The first time I watched ‘Chinatown’ in the knowledge that there was some kind of unspoken plot curveball, I choked. Sat gawping at the TV with a vinegar face of total concentration, I forgot to enjoy the film. Somehow, that total concentration was misplaced, and I got lost in what was a very linear, albeit intelligent, piece of screenwriting. What would the Twitterati have made of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’? Thank god that only Odeo employees could use Twitter on ‘The Prestige’s release. Where were these head scratchers, repeat viewers and talkback debaters for Christopher Smith’s timelooping, mythology-riffing ‘Triangle’ and the headache-inducing ‘Timecrimes’? How would they fare with ‘Primer’? That’s when I really needed assistance. ‘Inception’ was a smarter version of the nightmare-inducing ’80s trash classic ‘Dreamscape’ with shades of ‘Total Recall’ too. I’m a fan of Nolan’s clinical approach to movie-making, the Michael Caine as-a-wise-old-man re-appearances and cityscapes  giving me the celluloid equivalent of three courses, coffee and a foil-wrapped mint to pocket. The use of great actors in Channel 5 limbo like Eric Roberts and Tom Berenger is appreciated too, but the or was it? nature of the finale felt a little lazy after the Rubik’s Magic storytelling that preceded. Maybe it’s just me.

The much-debated Kubrick comparisons seem a little unfair. Christopher Nolan is an outstanding genre director who can fulfill lofty ambitions in an age of mediocrity. His only stumble has been the perfectly acceptable (and certainly superior to the usual Hollywood hack jobs of foreign-language masterpieces) ‘Insomnia’ remake. He seemed lost in the simplicity of an out-and-out imitation. He hasn’t worked the angles like Kubrick did, with period pieces, sci-fi, war, satire and horror. However, it’s worth remembering that while Kubrick is, in my humble opinion,  the greatest director of all time for his coldness — and Nolan to some degree echoes that frost – and his perfectionist streak (I defy you to find a shot in ‘Barry Lyndon’ that isn’t utterly perfect), he was a genius adapter. ‘Inception’ is Nolan’s inaugural writing solo mission, and Kubrick’s only non-adaptation excursions were pulpy too, with the brilliant ‘The Killing’ and the lesser ‘Killer’s Kiss’. Though that aforementioned or was it? still feels like a pulled-punch — a mathematician playing at abstraction — compared to Keir Dullea going Beyond the Infinite with a more convincing level of ambiguity.

It’s a shame that the internet’s inclination to catapult something to classic status in hours (witness ‘Inception’ standing tall above ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘The Godfather: Part II’) to necessitate a mild backlash of sorts. Yes, naturally it is instantly overrated, but it’s very good. There’s little middle-ground when it comes to critique. One group hyperventilate at the brilliance they’ve just seen while the others slate it with unnecessary brutality, stacking paragraph after paragraph with allegations of soulless filmmaking, cloth-eared dialogue and re-appropriated ideas. In 2010 you can become a cult film in a week and a classic in a day. That extreme treatment —which is applicable to clothing, music or literature too — and immediate access to multiple voices, means extreme reactions to output. It’s becoming tiresome.

If we have to persist with the pointless “new Kubrick” headhunting, Darren Aronofsky warrants some comparisons, traveling from a dystopian headache to rival dancing-girls in little more than a decade. ‘The Fountain’ is deeply underrated — with its multi-layered narrative and what some have decried as a concluding copout (remind you of anything?), it deserved further attention. My personal Nolan pick is still ‘The Prestige’, where the twist feels more like the titular payoff rather than a cheap trick. Casting David Bowie as Tesla gives the film an air of barmy ’80s casting too.

The above rant was really just a padding to look at Christopher Nolan’s dedication to clean title cards. In an era when they’re either excised or lurid CGI exercises in showboating, just as John Carpenter kept it clean but appropriately gothic in Albertus MT and Stan was prone to a spot of Futura Extra Bold, Nolan is prone to similar simplicity creating a trademark of sorts with matter-of-fact tracking time after time. That indicates that the ensuing film will be no laughing matter. In earlier examples, serifs play a part, but recently, they’ve taken on an agelessness that refuses to give away the film’s production year. It’s a statement-of-intent regarding the clinical filmmaking ahead, and somehow, those lapses into spaces and serifs manage to look classy rather than Next’s old logo, or the signage on one of the preposterous eateries Patrick Bateman frequents. That in itself is quite an achievement. The ‘Inception’ trailer seems to go a little wilder with the fonts, letting Gotham construct itself.

CARLOS & STYLE'S GREY AREA

No longer being a lefty idealist fixated on the glamour of hurling petrol bombs against “the man” and supporting causes despite the most rudimentary of research, it’s harder to atone for the fact that ’70s terrorism maintains a certain chic. True freedom might belong to those willing to get their hands dirty, but there’s plenty who’d rather keep ’em clean but admire the outfits from afar.

It’s a sad fact, but watching the ‘Battle of Algiers’ nowadays, we’re more inspired to bust out some referential quasi-rebellious screenprints or riff on the attractive spirit of late ’60s Parisian brick throwing in an art gallery environment. Kenneth Mackenzie’s excellent 6876 referenced that imagery nicely on its debut and Unabomber had their moments. Revolutionaries seemed to have nice outfits before the influx of those thick stripe crewneck sweaters and white dreads. In the western world, they’ve forsaken style altogether. Elsewhere it’s all facial hair and wild eyes, no finesse. It’s not going to make the catwalks.

This isn’t some dissection on the distinction between terrorism and freedom fighter. It’s just about the aesthetics. There’s a certain beauty in the ’70s utilitarian uniform of tactically executed mayhem. Back before the Manic Street Preachers morphed into Mondeo music, James Dean Bradfield’s balaclava-wearing Top of the Pops appearance performing ‘Faster’ was some invigorating post-dinner TV. James knew. FUCT’s Symbionese Liberation Army sweatshirt and tee knows that Donal DeFreeze had swagger. Another brand stocked in the Hideout (all answers to what the mystery brand was in the comments here are welcome) created a nifty spin on the BMW logo using RAF. If you grew up in an era where the news dwelled on Belfast murals, Joe Strummer wore a Brigate Rosse t-shirt and the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan getting the SAS treatment at the Iranian Embassy, terrorist attire is probably embedded in your psyche.

Then there’s Ilich Ramírez Sánchez aka. Carlos the Jackal. Strangely iconic in that puffy-faced mugshot, with the goggle glasses and hefty sideburns, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member seems to fire imaginations more than most. It’s the length between capture and that nickname that does it. His face seems to represent a certain era of global terrorism with extra tales jammed weaponry, some heavy scheming and a lot of globetrotting.

On film he’s been the villain, but Olivier Assayas’ 5 hour plus epic ‘Carlos’ fleshes the character out a lot, albeit with a fair amount of fiction. Having watched the first episode, charting the lead up to the OPEC raid, it’s slick, well-crafted television. If you’re expecting lots of side partings, sweating, set pieces, bungled raids, vintage cars and squealing getaways, you won’t be disappointed. Whether Ilich changes in attire and mannerisms over the next few episodes remains to be seen, but for all the violence — and this is frequently bloody — it makes the Jackal look very cool. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez is appropriately intense in the lead and thanks to Francoise Clavel’s work in the wardrobe department, she makes this vicious individual look almost aspirational in appearance.

If you saw Uli Edel’s ‘Der Baader Meinhof Komplex’ laden with beautiful people wielding assault rifles, zipping around in collectible Beemers, consider this a companion piece. There’s a message here, but it’s easy to get lost in all the nihilistic glamour on offer. Women nibbling on grenades? Berets looking good? It’s here. The first few minutes, where the besuited subject exits a plane and then a motorbike, with a holdall slung over his shoulder could be a ‘Monocle’ shoot in motion. This entire episode, the first of 3, could have been some bloody, politicized video lookbook.While there’s a German film-length edit of ‘Carlos’ in existence, the mini-series, at least on first impression, is well worth your time. Curious how we can be drawn to those we should fear, like some stylistic Stockholm syndrome.

It’s not just the clothes. It’s the banners and typewritten manifestos. Take the time to read it and you’ll find cowardly rhetoric steeped in narcissism and flimsy justification for cold-blooded slaughter. To admire the clothes of killers is pretty much the apex of twattery, yet it’s a tough habit to break. Despite the flattering looks, Sánchez himself is livid, fuming at the portrayal, and claiming it’s harming his defence in the recently reignited trial over a series of bombings. You can’t please everyone, all the time. While the real Carlos is looking a little less iconic these days, Ramirez restores the look to the point of sartorial distraction.

BRITISH REMAINS

I’m part of the problem when it comes to plugging things that are hardly revolutionary, and thus aiding and abetting the slow, sludgy flow of mediocre ideas, but by god (bar the excellent social life) I’m glad I’ve evaded the summer’s tradeshows. Just as dogs supposedly see in black and white, only when I leave certain areas of London am I aware that I see in more than just light blue and beige cotton. We’re flooded with it. The heritage lines are in full effect. If your ailing brand is more than 30 years old, start a heritage line. If it’s new, make it look like a heritage line anyway. Bread & Butter is generally awful, but this year’s sneakily shot offerings were total Emperor’s New Clothes (the emperor’s attire in this case being the same tiresome bunch of collaborators on bland brands and brands good enough to know better, and some once-great lines reacting to blog attention and playing themselves by losing that charmingly oblivious aura).

Naturally, the good people of Pointer and Wood Wood are excluded from vitriol as their offerings are looking excellent.

But how much post-Albam crap can we possibly take? Albam make excellent gear, fairly priced, but the slew of Albam-alikes pumping out button-downs, chinos, denim and totes makes a man want to self-harm. Regardless of the material weights, painstaking treatments, sourcing or manufacturer who’s within walking distance, a substantial amount of feverishly WordPressed product looks like Blue Harbour by Marks & Spencer. Ignore my quest for the perfect blank for a second. Bring back the print tee.

Print t-shirts never feel fully British — neither does the tee itself as an article of clothing, seeming more like a sought-after import that arrived and never left. John Lydon’s gleefully defaced Pink Floyd effort, Malcolm McLaren aided graphic output and Katherine Hamnett’s sloganeering seem like rare examples that made a significant impact. There were skate brands in my wardrobe that were keepers, but it took Holmes, Silas and Barnzley-era Zoltar or Tonite to really match the Shorty’s, Stussy and Supreme preoccupation. I think Gimme 5 was an underrated brand with graphics are worthy of a retrospective too. Can’t forget Carri’s Cassette Playa imagery either.

My respect for what Palace is doing doesn’t need require reiteration (Incidentally, Lev’s TMI quote pertaining to Fergus Purcell, “Loads of people try and bite Fergus’s shit as well…he’s the OG guy…” carries some weight) and the Ferg-Tour tee is a great piece of design, and T-Shirt Party, who I’ve enthused about before are still fulfilling their shirt-a-week mission, currently on number 21 with an England backpiece image. Just as they made their ultra low key arrival, Mr Andrew Bunney — a walking encyclopedia on a number of matters and a man who knows a fair few things with regards to subcultures and apparel has started a small brand with artist Daryl Saunders called British Remains for a simple reason – they couldn’t find the kind of t-shirts they wanted.

T-Shirt Party and Palace are channeling a certain Britishness that’s alien to or US cousins but easily accessible. To convey UK imagery without descending into mockneyisms or tiresome levels of nationalism is tough. I remember a streetwear brand called Artful Dodger, never my particular cup of PG Tips who were presumably (I certainly hope they were) American, and their awful ads in Frank151 that bordered on Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep patter. We don’t want to go there. But the Britain I love is a mixed bag, and I love to see our grimmer side showcased. And boy, do we do bleak well. Andrew seems dedicated to researching and unveiling the country’s treasures and oddball elements, and mixed with a keen eye for aesthetics, that means some nice shirts (plus totes too if that’s your thing) that play with some localised elements, some as common as W.C. cubicle signage, the glorious London Brickworks (which operated near to my hometown) and some class matters.

Just for riffing on the Hambert and Deverson’s ‘Generation X — Today’s Generation Talking About Itself’ study, familiar to a certain generation of sociology student as being, alongside Dick Hebdige’s ‘Subculture: The Meaning of Style’ a rare moment of interest in an otherwise tedious curriculum on the ‘Generation X’ design, the brand impressed me more than most on first impressions. I look forward to seeing where this line goes, as I’m in no doubt it will confound any presumptions that printed white cotton will stay the sole medium. I love the type on the press release/statement of intent too.

As you may have gathered, I really like t-shirts, and London is making me proud at present.

Go get British Remains and Palace from www.hideoutstore.com

www.britishremains.co.uk
www.t-shirt-party.co.uk
www.palaceskateboards.com

AN NYC CLASSIC

Hop off Serpico’s heavily-disguised dick for a minute in the style stakes. 1981’s ‘Nighthawks’ (known as ‘Night Hawks’ in the UK, possibly to avoid confusion with the 1978 Brit-flick ‘Nighthawks’)  is another long-hair NYC cop thriller that still holds up as a document of the big apple’s anarchic feel as a new decade developed, but also showcases some memorable attire. Mindless but smartly executed, they don’t make films like this any more. Curiously homoerotic undertones underpin the ultra-macho content, whether it’s a disco track produced by Keith Emerson, converting the phenomenal synthesised main theme into something that wouldn’t be out-of-place on the soundtrack of the equally foreboding ‘Cruising’, Rutger Hauer urging a scared plastic surgeon to beautify him or no less than two instances of Stallone in drag, dishing out punishment to bad guys.

Stallone is capable of fine performances. With ‘Rambo IV’ and ‘The Expendables’ impending, he’s seemingly accepted a spot as a mindless violence merchant despite years of bespectacled attempts to shake that. The former flick was superb, and his ensemble bullet-fest is something to look forward to, but remember that sense of anticipation post-‘Copland’ with the superior performance he never truly capitalised on? Those who saw ‘D-Tox’ can attest to that failure.

‘Lords of Flatbush’,’F.I.S.T.’ and ‘Rocky’ set a performance precedent. ‘First Blood’ as a ‘Nighthawks’ follow-up was a shrewd move too. Then potential seemed to be squandered until his deaf cop turn. ‘Nighthawks’ is ultimate Stallone. Come on, Sylvester and Billy Dee Williams (fresh from his first turn as Lando), pursuing a terrorist played by Rutger Hauer? That’s a classic in the making. Shot on location in 1980 NYC, that’s the visual clout that all the CGI in the world couldn’t top. New York in 1980 feels like another world, and a place waaaaaay more treacherous than Bespin.

Between repeat viewings of this and remembering FUCT’s.’Symbionese’ Champion sweat, it’s forgivable that one could get nostalgic for a time when leftist terrorism had folk shook. Conversely, it’s depressing that attacks on urban environments seemed far-fetched too. Hauer’s smooth criminal doesn’t rant on murky leaked broadcasts. He’s like Billy Drago’s Frank Nitti, but with finesse, all bombs in briefcases slid from view and exploding department stores, only losing his cool during a subway pursuit on foot and (alas, a graffiti-free) train that rivals ‘The Warriors’ for kinetic breathlessness. And they really are running around a functioning underground station. Hauer would play the pursuer in ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ (“Fuck the bonus“) hunting Kiss’s Gene Simmons as a hands-on terrorist mastermind with equally fiendish schemes but significantly less finesse.

Severely cut, (Stallone claims it was packing ‘Taxi Driver’ levels of bloodshed), ‘Nighthawks’ is still a brutal film, and the wardrobe achieves a curious middle ground between odd and utilitarian. Berets are a no, but the militaristic trenchcoats, variety of leathers, that cardigan and Stallone’s hefty sunglasses still look fresh. Alas, given the era, flared, striped slacks occasionally kill an outfit. These are maverick cops, and Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox’s outfits are appropriately maverick. For all his cold-blooded antics, Hauer’s Wulfgar gets less love on the costume front until he wields his MAC-10 aboard a cable car towards the film’s conclusion with layered rollneck ruthlessness.

‘Nighthawks’ director Bruce Malmuth passed in 2005. He deserves respect for helming this classic, the Seagal vehicle ‘Hard to Kill’ (“This is for my wife—fuck you and die“) and bizarrely, for playing the ring announcer in the original ‘Karate Kid’. This isn’t a call for the Criterion treatment, but if those deleted scenes are anywhere, a DVD special edition would be welcome. That’s word to Billy Dee Williams’s Superman t-shirt.

23.06.45-10.07.06

Dad deckchair chilling in Nike Air Spans. His friend Ian is rocking the Reebok, reflecting the brand warfare of the time. Nike wins.

Chill. I’m not going to lapse into the vulgarities of emo blogging. I won’t get all Jay-Z and let the blog cry. That’s always excruciating to read. Even more than poorly punctuated 900-word mind flatulence on drug documentaries. Thinking about my dad on the fourth anniversary of his passing, as the boiling weather and World Cup anticlimax echoes the atmosphere of summer 2006, I’m in ultra reflective mode. The above picture shows my old man chilling at a tawdry local theme park circa 1989/1990 rocking the mighty Nike Air Span. He knew something I didn’t when he picked them up in Bedford’s Champion Sports.

I was preoccupied with the visible Air of the Jordan IV and the Air Max Light, and dad’s decision to pick up the relatively minimal Air Span seemed strange. My mum reprimanded him for spending £58 (minus discount) on something she perceived as dull too. He grabbed me a copy of an art book on Giger’s ‘Alien’ concept imagery that day too. Sports footwear and horror films. That’s why I loved him-the encouragement of my preoccupation with nonsense. I think he loaned me 25p to buy a battered copy of William Peter Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist’ that day too.

Strange how a warm Saturday’s purchases could resonate over two decades later. Nike might be putting out the dull 1991 version of the Pegasus, and the Span II was…pfff…whatever, but the original Span is a pretty strong shoe. It’s better than much of the era, and while the Pegasus and Icarus lines would be the poor man and dullards’ picks locally, I never saw anyone else wear the Air Span other than my dad. For that reason, I’d love to see it reissued. Time vindicated my father’s investment.

I’ve said it before, but I connected with my dad when he was facilitating my access to violent movies, late-night TV and, linking the ‘Alien’ theme again, when we worked on a model of an Alien Warrior guarding a facehugger filled egg together. That’s not trivialising a father-son relationship either.The small acts have a butterfly effect emotionally post-passing. Everyday acts are something to cherish. Him returning from the British Virgin Isles obsessed with Sean Paul back in 2002 was a strange moment of father and son synchronicity, leading to a bizarre pre-holiday daily workout session where he’d use his rowing machine to the sounds of ‘Dutty Rock’, visible behind a closed conservatory door taking occasional Budweiser swigs between artificial mileage. That is, until the rowing machine broke, possibly owing to this unorthodox regime. Happy days.

For this reason, as mentioned here before as a result of some bonding over film viewings a strange blend of flicks, some classic, some utterly trashy, bring back vivid joint-viewing memories. ‘Marked for Death’, ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’, ‘Rockers’, ‘The Thing’, ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’, ‘Out For Justice’, ‘In the Heat of the Night’, ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘Ricochet’ are important to me. Even weak ‘Star Wars’ copy ‘Starcrash’ has been elevated psychologically by dad thinking of me and sticking it on a 180 minute Dixons tape. He encouraged my peculiar nature rather than attempting to rid me of it, leading to the strangely adjusted individual writing this unfocused nostalgia. That’s something to be grateful for.

My last major memories of this enabled nerdery was a 2005 trip to a Scottish Nike outlet after my gran’s funeral to buy dirt-cheap Vandals. He taught me how to pronounce “apocryphal” that road-trip too. That’s why I use that word a lot. Watching ‘Predators’ today, I think he would’ve enjoyed it. There’s nothing like a ripped-out spine and death-by-machine-gun to bring back those wistful memories…

MY LIFE IN MAGAZINES (A SUMMARY)

To throw a solitary publication is a curiously traumatic thing. I’ve got thousands of magazines stacked in various locations. Incidentally, that wasn’t intended as some low-rent boast. It’s the sad truth. To throw away a single part of the pile feels gut-wrenching-treachery against the dwindling number of print titles out there. Chucking away a fistful of ‘Monocle’ back issues shouldn’t feel like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. That’s just unnatural. Look at the hoarders on BBC fly on the wall shows, living among tins, newspaper stacks and defecating in their back gardens. They were once like you or I. Here’s the problem—I’ve got magazine abandonment issues.

After graduating from Marvel UK weeklies via my 30p pocket-money, and the occasional ‘Spider Man’ in black attire import if I was in hospital for whatever reason, amassed a metre-high paper empire to dip in and out of for a permanent supply of reading matter. How much of that (1982-1987) do I still own? Nada. My collection (1987-1989) of more costly comic books, ‘Fangoria’, ‘Gorezone’,and ‘Cinefantastique’? Gone. My copies (1989-1992) of ‘Sky’, ‘The Face’, ‘RAD’, ‘Thrasher’ and i-D? Binned behind my back. Most gallingly, my issues of ‘Rap Sheet’, ‘The Source’ and ‘The Bomb’ (1992-1996) were disposed of from their position, quietly sat behind a bedroom door during my first year at university. That’s an oversimplified timeline, but I recall the sense of loss for each wave wiped out. I was complicit in a few disposal decisions. Like I would ever work in a role where old Nike catalogues might come in handy…

With each bulk binning, I was like a beaver constantly rebuilding a dam. Sisyphus rolling that rock uphill, time and time again.

Until just recently, magazines came and stayed. That’s been the case for the last few years. I’ve had my fingers burnt in terms of research materials ridded, so I used that justification as a keeper. Then the floor boards began to creak, and it was time for a cull. I love magazines unconditionally. I’d badmouthed the notion of a ‘robo-book” in what interviews I’ve ever done, but I can concede that a tablet is a fair substitute for perishing like the Collyer brothers. I still love the stocks, the spot varnishes, the tactile experience of reading (and stacking). That won’t stop. This Salon piece from April gets to the bottom of the extreme end of collector culture. I’ll make an effort to grab Maxime’s new project, ‘Novembre’ even though I don’t speak Swiss, and I’ll grab ‘AIE Magazine’s inaugural issue and Mr. Vogel has put me onto ‘Case de Abitare’ – the song remains the same.

But I underestimated just how grueling it was to stack five feet of publications and fill a recycling bin, both physically and emotionally. I’m a weirdo. These weren’t even significant copies of anything. I’ve got debut issues for days. They’re staying —those grand launches and indie triumphs that never returned after a single winter. Fleeting glories. But if you spend a tenner on a ‘Monocle’ back issue at a Comme-centric department store, you’re probably a bellend. ‘Wired’ I love, but I’m assuming that the majority of their content will be accessible via the next-gen (I’m holding off) iPad. Yep, I’m really putting my faith in online publishing as justification for the perfect-bound genocide I just committed.

As mentioned before, last year I started writing a magazine-themed piece for TMI. It required constant edits for months as at least a quarter of the publications cited went under. As 2009 reached its cold conclusion, I found myself adding, where I’d been hitting delete with a certain frequency. The magazine realm was obviously in a seriously transitional moment, and attempting to bottle that state an a handful of paragraphs was a fucking disaster. Perhaps I’ll put it on this blog as a cautionary tale. According to Mr. Magazine, these are positive times for print compared to months past. Just being print isn’t enough. I expect a certain quality of writing and integrity that the blogsphere merrily omits. Most new magazines don’t fill that criteria. Enthusiasm isn’t quite enough to propel me from page to page unless you’re teaching me something new. But don’t let me put you off. Those stacks will rise again. And again.