HISTORY IN THE MAKING

It’s a speed blogging day. Before commencing, it’s nice to see that Fuck Yeah site doing satire so deftly. Whoever’s behind it is a genius—satirising menswear blogging is like shooting fish in a barrel with dumdums, but this person’s picking them off with precision. I particularly like the fact that the targets are laughing along too. I was also hyped to hear of the recent discovery of some form of sneezing monkey that comes in an endangered limited edition of 260 or so. That got me as hyped as the vast Guatemalan sinkhole did a few months back.

Brand new monkeys and holes that swallow buildings are more exciting than trail parkas. Like the colourways that crop up on NikeTalk as mere product codes, that mystery monkey is strictly PhotoShop status at time-of-writing.

Continuing the Criterion manner of doing everything so well that I can’t help but dickride (I’m sure there’s potential for a tagline there), kudos to whoever decided to hire Daniel Clowes to illustrate the covers of Sam Fuller’s pulpy, queasy and unforgettable,’The Naked Kiss’ and ‘Shock Corridor’. It’s a tough vision to capture, but Clowes has done an admirable job.

Sam’s controversial 1982 ‘White Dog’ – a one time Sky Movies mainstay and a film utterly misunderstood by cretins—is a necessary watch too. The director does a superb job with Romain Gary’s excellent source material, creating one of cinema’s finest explorations of racism and one too steeped in metaphor for reactionists to ever kick back and fully understand. If you’ve never investigated Fuller’s work, get involved and marvel at how one of cinema’s key integrationists ended up being accused of being a racist.

I’ve been taking the lazy route and browsing LIFE for some photo-essays (the archive on Google Books is outstanding) that might slap me out of my current apathy with nearly everything (bar ground collapsing and rare animals) and having taken an interest in how Gordon Parks directed ‘Shaft’ and his son directed ‘Superfly’, offering some blueprints for a wave of b-cinema and covering both a conventional hero and a “villain” as central figures between them, I’ve been looking at Parks photographic work. ‘Harlem Gang Leader’ from LIFE’s November 1st 1948 issue is a pinnacle piece, covering four weeks in the life of Red Jackson.

‘Harlem Gang Leader’ sets a blueprint for today’s knives-at-the-camera exploitative gang pieces (depressingly frequent in British papers these days) that journos and snappers pump out in the quest for awards, but this was a more sensitive, powerful affair with some stark imagery and matter-of-fact prose. Gordon was a master of his craft and while the opening cigarette shoe remains iconic, it was good to see it in context and to unveil a little more history behind those frequently referenced Harlem streets. And by exposing the brutal day-to-day existence of Red and the Midtowners, whose life seemed to be limited to specific street boundaries, Gordon broke barriers and made history.