After prison films, college campus films are another of my peculiar preoccupations. It’s doubly odd to think of the rich jerks being sartorial inspirations. I favour the slobs. I still think the current brace of bellends in bow ties look like a simpleton’s imaginary friend and I’m still with Two-Bit Matthews on the state of trousers (“Hey check out their pants!”) these days. Still, I feel bad for you folk that spent big on ‘Take Ivy’, only to see a reprint turn up with English translation for next-to-nothing with an inexplicable K-Swiss endorsement…yes, the same K-Swiss that was founded a year after the book was published. You’re probably feeling like Carl Carlson did with the Stonecutters, “Well, it was a real nice secret organization we had once…” Shit happens.
Half of the biggest whiners are Ivy new-jacks anyhow, and the Film Noir Buff folk got there a long time before you did. I’ve been watching a few documentaries about the darker side of college life in the States too…honestly, the whole fraternity culture is baffling. Can’t you guys just form informal groups and get shitfaced? Does it have to be steeped in ritualistic twattery? Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland’s ‘Frat House’ and Billy Corben’s ‘A Question of Consent’ don’t depict youths in elegant clothes wandering from lecture to lecture in a refined fashion. None of that Ivy stuff here—just braying cretins in reversed baseball headwear hi-fiving and acting the tit. It’s curious to imagine that the attire of college students was aspirational. Things have changed, as to be compared to a contemporary student is sartorial slander.
I’d like to see ‘Take Former-Polytechnic’ depicting the hungover, clipboard wielding sports science students of Hertfordshire shuffling around in G-Star t-shirts with scarves, bootcut jeans and flip-flops. Even in an institution like Oxford, I’m reliably informed that the levels of atrocious brands like Jack Wills are extensive. It’s odd to think that folk don’t actually dress like Ryan O’Neal in ‘Love Story’, Wendell Burton in ‘The Sterile Cuckoo’ or Art Garfunkel and Jack Nicholson in ‘Carnal Knowledge’s early scenes (incidentally, Jack’s “Answer me, you ball-busting, castrating, son of a cunt bitch! Is this an ultimatum or not?” line includes Hollywood’s first use of the C’ word). It looks like date-rape chic overrides the aspirational look of learned elegance in the real world’s campuses.
Those documentaries also had me digging for some hazing gone wrong b-flicks. There’s been some well-documented deaths from campus initiations—particularly in the mid to late ’70s—and in 1977, two films emerged on the topic. ‘Fraternity Row’ is set during Hell Week at a wealthy college in the 1950s. It’s surprisingly low-key, and if you’re some kind of apparel nerd, the wardrobe throughout might be of some interest. I was a little disturbed at the lack of visible breasts, ‘Louie Louie’ on the soundtrack, or general debauchery, but it you’re in the mood, it runs through some curious rituals pretty effectively. Even though it’s far from star-studded, it makes me yearn for a time when Paramount would afford the most budget of films with superb poster art like the above, but its flop status meant that it stays in non-VHS and DVD limbo. Maybe K-Swiss might show up with some sponsorship moolah.
‘The Hazing’ is also known as ‘The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse’ and is actually a half-decent b-movie based around a bad situation, hapless planning and a twist at the end that you wouldn’t see coming if I hadn’t told you there was one. Now you’ll probably just work it out. It’s all based around a hazing accident, but whereas ‘Fraternity Row’ ends on a moral note with a tragedy, this one pretty much commences with one after an excess of unnecessary near-nakedness. Both flicks really did disappear into limbo, barely amassing a cult following—more like an enthusiastic gathering, indicating that folk liked their university movies to be a little more anarchic, or at least heavy on some bloodshed.
Nike, your Terra line confuses me. It has done for a long time. So we know that the Terra T/C unleashed Phylon in the early ’80s and remains inexplicable un-retroed in the VNTG line, and Japan got the TERRA Rainbow. Conventional nerd lore tells us that the Terra ACG from 1991 was the only ACG Terra design, and that Terra would be reborn as a non-ACG off road running line circa. 1996 with classics like the Outback, Sertig and Ketchikan. However—people tend to forget 1992’s ACG Terra Mac or 1996’s ACG branded Terra Tor, looking a lot like the Nike Air Terra designs that would follow. Perhaps it was the Tor that passed over the Terra torch.
And getting a paragraph reflected in a pool of water is the new blogging. Odd to see something you wrote in these circumstances, but props to Stephen, Arc’teryx and team Firmament for putting this presentation together. I like Veilance jackets a lot.
Must-see TV nowadays is the done thing. You could blackout under the pressure of watching drug, sex and crime-related US imports where people do bad things, or simply act sophisticated. That teetering pile of boxsets is probably mocking how out-of-touch you are each time you pass it, like some shiny, less-bloody ‘Telltale Heart’. It’s not easy to keep up with what you’re supposed to be watching, and a fair amount of “edgy” television reeks of desperation. However—if you like John Cassavetes, jazz, awesome guest stars, effortless cool and old NYC, you should buy the boxset of forgotten pianist turned PI show ‘Johnny Staccato’. It’s as lightweight as much of the TV of 1959 and 1960 was, yet it’s hugely entertaining too, with John seemingly calling in favour after favour and making it fall in line with his characteristic quest for authenticity. It’s on sale now, and you can add it to that stack of things you’ll get round to watching when the flu comes-a-calling this winter…