Monthly Archives: June 2011


Hey, ironist whitey — don’t front, you know you’ve pretended to throw up a gang sign, Crip walk or done up the top button on a Pendleton and scowled at the mirror. Bet you’d shit yourself if you were in gang territory though — your blogwear wouldn’t stop from being treated like Marky Mark by locals. Still, our preoccupation with Los Angeles gang culture isn’t any more inexplicable than the mafia fascination that pervades popular culture (gotta love ‘Bangin’ in Little Rock’ with one of my favourite moments at 17:06), and any organisation operating outside society’s rules with its own rules and uniforms is going to fire imaginations. Ah yes, the uniforms.

Let’s be clear here, who’s selling the aforementioned Pendleton, Chucks, Carhartt, Dickies, Ben Davis, khakis and white tees to you — some lookbook clown with a side parting who you could put in a chokehold, or some real OGs? That pride in the quality basics is a striking aesthetic that’s had more impact on the current wave of simple, quality looks than is credited.

If we’re going to explore how a blog post like this comes about, it was entirely fuelled by the photo of Crip founder member Greg “Batman” Davis (check his website here) in swagger mode — I don’t understand enough to either condone or condemn Greg’s earlier lifestyle, but with his Charles Manson friendship plus dalliances with the Symbionese Liberation Army and Jim Jones he’s a fascinating figure — that I spotted at the MOCA ‘Art in the Streets’ show. The way a whole gang phenomenon was summarised in a couple of sentences as part of the exhibit was curious, but that high rolling image is a strong piece of criminal imagery, with Davis seemingly looking to document a moment of perceived invincibility fired my imagination.


What happened to Nemo Librizzi’s Bloods and Crips documentary ‘Lay Down Old Man’ from 2005 that got a single screening at Blacktronica and some film festivals before vanishing? It had plenty of footage of Davis reflecting over his past, but whereas ‘Bastards of the Party’ and Stacy Peralta’s ‘Crips & Bloods: Made in America’ are readily available, ‘Lay Down Old Man’ has never reached DVD.

That Crip talk made me think of the Glen E’ Friedman photo session from South Central Cartel’s 1994 LP ‘N Gatz We Truss’. It’s not the guns which grabbed my attention (seriously, what was the odds of ANOTHER group having a Havoc and Prodeje in?), it was the customised Ben Davis work shirts, including the Def Jam West variation that blew me away. I’ve even put it in mood boards, blissfully ignorant of the heavy metal in the foreground. What can I say? I’m stupid like that. That in turn had me pondering the mighty Ben Davis. Seeing as the blog logo (courtesy of Sofarok) is a Ben Davis tribute, I’ve never done the brand justice on this site.

All you really need is O.D. Wolfson’s 1995 interview with Benjamin Franklin Davis and Frank Davis from ‘Grand Royal’ #2 — that offers some excellent background on the brand and how it started. I’ve upped a scan of the page here, but there’s a few other interesting morsels that make for an interesting supplement to the answers Mr. Davis provides.

Beyond the handful of store photos, painted ads and newspaper promotions from the late 1940s and 1950s, it’s interesting that Davis mentions that while the shirt is a Ben Davis creation, their pants were based on a design that was an acquisition (the Ben Davis brand started in 1935) from the then defunct Neustradter Bros. and their ‘Boss of the Road’ line — the gorilla was a reaction to mascots like the ‘Boss of the Road’ bulldog. I found some of their old advertising (dating back to 1901), and it’s notable that the ‘Boss of the Road’ brand was bought and resurrected by Lee in the late 1930s with added Lee branding, but that familiar jowly pooch is still present.

Continuing Ben Davis’s link to other denim powerhouses, Ben’s grandfather Jacob W. Davis’s patent for his invention – the copper pocket rivet for jeans — filed on August 9, 1872 is available too. That started with duck pants before the transfer to denim. That patent was half-owned by a certain Levi Strauss, and it’s a hugely significant moment in denim evolution — Jacob worked with Levi by developing the manufacture of the resulting pants and he sold his interest in the patent to Levi Strauss in 1907, just before he passed away.

Ben Davis passed away on February 19, 2009 — a pioneer and inadvertent father of streetwear in many ways. But that’s a whole different story…

UK/Euro heads should tap up the good folks of for your Ben Davis needs.

Ben Davis store photos taken from this page right here.


Farewell Peter Falk. Forget Burberry’s smart ‘Art of the Trench’ initiative — Peter made ruffled look aspirational. Who wouldn’t want to get one up on smug, murdering company CEOs, landowners and wealthy philanderers and their villainy at the last moment? Detective Columbo wasn’t like the rest of the feds — he did his thing with a shambolic veneer that concealed a mastermind. It’s unlikely that Falk would be too annoyed at being typecast in that role with the whole nation commemorating his passing by pausing by doorways hunched and saying that line in a gruff voice — he was grateful for the Columbo role because he’d been in a succession of TV mobster roles prior to the 1971-2003 run of mysteries (only 68 episodes in 32 years).

Still, Peter’s work with Cassavetes —1970’s ‘Husbands’ (which was the subject of a post here a while back on Ben Gazzara) is a classic and the 1969’s trashy greatness of ‘Machine Gun McCain’ (where they met),1974’s ‘A Woman Under the Influence’ and 1976’s ‘Mikey and Nicky’ is equally notable, mixing b-movies with John’s uncompromising sense of the real. That mix gave Falk’s career a real depth, but I’m glad he got to work with another of my favourite directors — Mr. Walter Hill — in 2002’s overlooked ‘Undisputed.’ While many of Falk’s final roles were mob figures, Mendy Ripstein is the best of them — all world-weary menace, and his language during a particular outburst stays classic.


With Master P, Silkk the Shocker (who’d made Columbo reference on CD six years prior), C-Murder and Boz performing in ‘Undisputed’ as the Gat Boyz and Puff Daddy in the far weaker ‘Made’ the previous year, in which Falk was equally mobbed out as Max, Falk had some brushes with hip-hop heavyweights. That allows for a mildly tenuous segue way into references to Columbo on rap tracks. Most rappers pepper their lyrics with the televisual pop culture references, but Columbo seemed to be a popular one – unusual to see ‘the man’ celebrated like he was, but there’s a fair few negative references to sneaky cops using the fictional character’s name. Nowadays only elders like Malice make reference to things like “…avoiding the Kojak,” but once it was no real surprise. After all, Theo Kojak and Frank Columbo were hardly Rampart-style douchebag types while they were doing their jobs — Columbo barely even carried a gun.

It’s fitting that Prodigy — a man who once released a street album appropriately called ‘Return of the Mac’ has the best ‘Columbo’ reference on the title track of ‘HNIC’ but in hastily concocting this list I had to omit the presumed references to New York’s Columbo crime family, of which the Mobb were occasionally prone. LIFE’s images of Falk, Cassavetes and Gazzara at the latter’s 1982 third wedding (to Elke Krivat) are excellent, while Falk’s solo appearance on a 1975 ‘Rolling Stone’ has a certain slovenly elegance that’s pleasantly at odds with Bryan Ferry’s advertised dandyism. Fuck an iron.

(Note the sheer volume of ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Gumbo’ rhymes)

“Met this girl at the party and she started to flirt/I told her some rhymes and she pulled up her skirt/Spent some bank — I got a high powered jumbo/Rolled up a wooly and I watched Columbo…”
Beastie Boys ‘The New Style’ 1986

“I roll into the party as if I was Five-O/Book investigation biters like Columbo/Pushing rap for some info in exchange for a jumbo/And when I find a sucker it’s time to play Rambo…”
EPMD ‘Get Off the Bandwagon’1988

“If you’re on a drug tip, don’t be a Dumbo/Police investigate like Columbo if they think you’re sellin’ jumbo…”
Kool G Rap ‘Rikers Island’ 1990

“Stupid ass nigga, sewed your ass the raw/Cause the bitch in the ride ain’t nothin’ but the Law/Attached with the wire, Columbo for hire/So now the Law was on their way/Stupid ass nigga had the burp in his tray…”
Above the Law ‘One Time Two Many’ 1994

“Y’all niggas soup, I’m gumbo, ready to rumble, ready to tumble/Yo’ girlfriend outta line, I’ma catch her like Columbo/Tongue twistin’ like an Uzi, y’all niggas can’t do me…”
Silkk the Shocker ‘How We Mobb’1996

“I scope like Columbo/Pose like Mutombo/And blaze MC’s with rumblo…”
Show & A.G. ‘Put it in Your System’ 1998

“I drive up and down Harlem blocks, iced out watch, knots in my socks, cops think I’m selling rocks/Pulling me over to see if I’m drunk but I’m sober/They wouldn’t fuck with me if I drove a Nova. Listen Columbo, you’re mad because your money come slow…”
Big L ‘Da Enemy’ 1999

“Too hot to hold, too hard to handle when I unload?Still knockin’ jumbo watchin’ for Columbo/Rock it to the top of the pot like gumbo…”
Rame Royal ‘Stick Wit Her’ w/ B-Legit, Niki Scarfo and Richie Rich 1999

“Dunn, I catch you while you shoppin’ for kicks/Surprise bitch/Shoot outs is spontaneous and oh, from now on call me Columbo/’Cause I come through wrinkled up, think I give a fuck?”
Prodigy ‘H.N.I.C.’ 2000

“Slang rocks and snort coke, we cook keys like gumbo drops/We chop O-Z’s to jumbo rocks, pay off Columbo cops…”
Yukmouth ‘Spitz Network’ w/ Brotha Lynch Hung 2001

Lately I’ve been working on some copy writing and despite attempting an avowedly anti-1993 stance here, a recent research mission (more to follow later) unearthed one of my favourite ad campaigns for a record – the brave Blood of Abraham LP on Ruthless with the ‘JESUS WAS A BLACK JEW’ line. It caught many a Source reader’s attention, but alas, that didn’t translate to sales. I never was a Crazy Town (a group that Brett “Epic” Mazur was a member of) fan, but Mazik’s role in starting Conveyor at Fred Segal is well worthy of note — as is the subsequent music video direction. Few groups would have the balls to run this ad and it’s a confrontational classic.

I’m still bugged out to see my writing anywhere, but to spot it on the point-of-sale for the Free Run+ 2 City Series, the 1948 iPads installed in the new Nike Sportswear east London store and on the wall of the mezzanine section upstairs was strange. Not as strange as seeing your work reflected in a pool of water, but strange nonetheless.



“Mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating.”
(Icelandic proverb)

I sit alone in my four cornered room staring at import publications. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m prone to a moodswing or three, but I spent the last few days aware of my age and convinced that I’d finally outgrown most of the things I spend my days doing. In a curious way I was relieved. Something had to give, right? Everything was fine — I’d just over indulged during the last decade. Then I realised that for once, I wasn’t the problem.

My mind was playing tricks on me. My passion remains — it’s the system I’m overexposed to that bores me. The same one that treats you like a prick. Please allow me to indulgent and engage in one of my thrice yearly rant posts, using WordPress as my metaphorical punching bag for a few paragraphs.

It was nice to realise that I do still give a shit. But people really are peddling some drivel with a po-face and smelling their own farts before retweeting the sychophantic reaction to the odour again and again. I don’t care what you’re into…toy trains, weather reports, scat porn…just as long as you’re passionate about something. The secret rulers of much that I love are dead-eyed capitalists with bootcut jeans on — we need a coup d’état. I refuse to believe that every fanboy and fangirl is inept when it comes to business.

It’s curious to see a hyped-out breed of collaboration culture continue its molasses slow, treacly flow into every facet of life — it’s even present in beverages and furniture. But I still find myself rushing out to get involved from time to time. What truly alienates me is the onslaught of brand events (with an inadvertent sense of anti-aspiration, because they’re populated and targeted at the denizens of a two mile square radius) caught in some kind of nightmarish loop of PR-led mediocrity that take the brilliance of a concept like Nike’s billboard project with UNDFTD or ‘Beautiful Losers’ or even White Dunk (please allow for the excess of Nike reference points) or ‘Contents Under Pressure’ at the Tramshed way, way back and keep flogging the formula until it begs for mercy, weeping to be put out of its misery with a bullet to the brain to end the banal begging for blog coverage.

There’s a checklist for these things:

1. Bad “street art” interpretations of the brand’s logo and product by a plethora of weary looking individuals, all paid a fraction of the budget handed to the agency. These will be painted on the side of an “edgy” space or weak temporary retail spot.

2. A photography exhibition by friends and friends of friends of a brand’s employee with Terry Richardson-lite imagery of misadventures and hi-jinks, all with the vaguest relevance to the product at hand.

3. A DJ who gets paid in product that turns out to be too big for them.

4. More SLRs in the building than there are canapés.

4. Some kind of “workshop” about something or other that’s supposed to emphasise interactivity and youth.

5. Some kind of social media tie in, whether it’s #ashittylittlehashtag or some kind of Facebook group where you can “earn” the right to get in. That’s important because it makes brands hand over more money – people with budgets have heard some buzzwords and have been told that the internet’s quite good.

6. A person with Final Cut skills who will film the same group of blogwear-clad faces (85% of whom are “stylists”) — who would turn up to the opening of your catflap —munching on mini fish and chips, some shots of the product being launched (even though it was on the blogs at sample stage a month earlier) and maybe some talking heads who will extoll how exciting and fresh the project is while remaining utterly surface level. If it’s really professional, it could have opening titles and end titles with a Zomby track playing over them. The three minute fruits of this labour are apparently called “a viral” even though it’s merely a short video made solely to make some bloke called Dan who owns a Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt, owns two Dunny toys and holds the purse strings write “good work!” in an email the following day.

It’s all a game of bamboozling the budget holders.

Of course, there’s other irritations along the way. Middlebrow brands can get someinexplicable levels of e-props. Folksy factory visits on Vimeo of absolutely anything in the continual quest for the deification of the deeply average, paying tribute to there officially being more collaborative brogues than there are people on the planet (though when it’s fashion we say “for” rather than the vulgar xxxxxs of the streetwear realm — same shit, same lack of confidence in solo voyages). People calling themselves “curators” because they put a picture of decidely non-obscure jazz man John Coltrane on their Tumblr makes them the curators of a museum of blurry photocopies. Nobody’s paying money to visit that establishment. Though I’m sure Dan with the budget might give them a job.


Then there’s the obligation to bow at the alter of fucking SEO online. That means you have to mention keywords – for instance, fucking SEO – numerous times. Keep sentences on fucking SEO short. Make fucking SEO keywords and terms around six percent of your copy, put something in bold, add a fucking SEO header and disturbingly, some schools of thought recommend common misspellings of fcucking SOE in the mix too. This paragraph fails because it’s not at the top of the page and the font is probably the wrong size. I’ll never get those page impressions up at this rate. Thus, the dull gets duller.

Thanks for listening. The positivity’s back. Everyone needs to make like Howard Beale every now and again or the world turns into one triple-label blur. Practise that blind PMA a little too much and your soul erodes. Anger is still an energy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Bobby Hundreds Complex piece. I’ve long been a fan of the way the brand presents itself online. Every brand has a WordPress now, but Bobby’s writing and photography had us convinced the Hundreds was huge before it ever was, with the web presence outsizing the physical store space — that’s a skillful use of the internet. I still check for the Hundreds site for that precise presentation and updated content.

The racist and bizarre vitriol against a lack of LRG when the writer explained their omission in a reasoned manner. You can’t see ’em coming down their eye, so a lot of embittered brand operatives made the comments section cry — rumours of “streetwear”s death are greatly exaggerated, but reading those responses it’s easy to understand why everyone started dressing like their dads in late 2007.


Seeing as it’s Father’s Day, it’s time for another paternal salute on this site. To contextualize everything else, we need to understand how we came to got to our own starting point. I blame my father. In 2011, it’s curious that greater channel choice doesn’t necessarily improve the offerings or operate in a manner that’s conducive to a hunger for obscure movies. I yearn for the days when post-11pm on a weekday or weekend would usher in an oddity bought cheap by a network that might play once and become a key part of a young person’s movie watching education. Somebody in the Grampian region might be lucky enough to get ‘Q — The Winged Serpent’ while we Anglia area dwellers had to make do with ‘Avant!’

It was a lot for a young mind to grasp.

I never trusted the timer settings on the weighty VCR that sat in a cabinet beneath the lounge TV and my knowledge of films barely extended beyond the usual suspects. My cinematic sage was my father, who would periodically spot something playing, sweep into action, throw in a Scotch 120 or 180 minute tape and leave it out for me to watch after (and occasionally before school). Given the sporadic nature of his taping, I’d regularly miss the opening ten minutes and hope that the ad breaks would announce the film’s name, but to this day I’m moved by these simple gestures to bless a young mind with some b-movie classics. In many ways it created my thirst for the esoteric, and there was barely a pattern to each sporadic offering beyond forays into the very violent or fantastical.

My father didn’t pay heed to the fact that many of these films were an ’18’ and I was eight years of age — I’m glad he didn’t too. I think he was fuelling my dual ambition to do horror film effects and draw comic books, because it was quite evident by my lack of patience or logic that I’d become an engineer like him or his father before me. Beyond that, I just think he wanted to share the cool things he’d spotted just before bedtime. It’s curious that particularly graphic body horrors never affected me like Medusa in ‘Clash of the Titans,’ Quint getting chomped in ‘Jaws’ or Colonel Dietrich’s melting face in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ – those were horrors for all the family. I miss being able to recommend some goofy film where Christopher Lambert fights ninjas on a bullet train to him.

It’s the little things that set off big things. Shouts to all the dads out there who feed young minds with music, films and literature.

KLUTE (1971)

I only ever wanted to see ‘Klute’ because it was frequently cited by my father as one of the greats. Should a child be watching a complex thriller about kidnap and prostitute murder? Probably not. He taped this for me after a lengthy wait for it to be screened again, and while I got to see Jane Fonda topless, it bored me. Now I appreciate the movie a great deal more, even if it’s not on the level of Alan J. Pakula’s ‘The Parallax View’ or ‘All the President’s Men’. I’ve always assumed that Jane was my dad’s main reason for putting this in his top ten.


He only hit record on this one at least twenty minutes in and we never knew the name. It was just referred to as, “the one with the sand monsters.” My dad knew that I would like anything in the vein of ‘Jaws’ or ‘Alligator’. I remember enjoying it, just because people were sucked under the beach by some sort of beast whenever the pacing became intolerable and someone from ‘Enter the Dragon’ (John Saxon) and Pauly from ‘Rocky’ (Burt Young) were in it. The trailer really makes it look like a detective film rather than a creature feature, which I’ll never understand. The open ending with baby monsters made me assume a sequel was imminent. I waited many years before calling off the search with regards to a follow-up.

ALIEN (1979)

On the way back from the swimming pool and while parked up waiting for my brother to finish his monday tennis match, my father told me of a film where a creature ripped through a man’s stomach and ran away during an evening meal. The following day, I drew a beetle leaping out of an agonised looking man in an exercise book and had the pages forcefully removed by a concerned teacher. The aura my father had created around ‘Alien’ was so great, that when he surprised me with a taped copy a few months later, I was initially terrified — then underwhelmed — by the weedy specimen that tore out of John Hurt’s chest.


Another VHS that commenced a little late into the film. In fact, after some inaugural fuzz, it started with the gore scene from the end of ‘Mr. Tiger’ — one of the most well-known segments (it was an anthology horror), before I could understand the purpose of the film. Donald Pleasance talks to four inmates who went insane about how they ended up in an asylum, and my dad was actually keen to show me one of the lesser stories, with Joan Collins terrorised by a tree, but it’s the changing portrait in ‘Penny Farthing’ that really disturbed me. I liked the hit or miss nature of this, ‘Tales From the Crypt’ and ‘Asylum’ — if one story fell flat, at least another was never more than twenty minutes away.


One Easter holiday I rushed downstairs on a bank holiday morning to find this Italian sci-fi gem waiting for me. I never knew it existed, and my pre-teen brain never really picked up on the ‘Star Wars’ similarities — I was just happy to have something with lightsabers and robots in, plus Michael Knight from ‘Knight Rider’ kicking arse. It felt more like a futuristic Ray Harryhausen flick with all that stop-motion work executed admirably under a tight budget. I asked my mum if there were ‘Starcrash’ toys later that morning and she laughed.

THE THING (1982)

The first time I can remember my dad being away on business, he woke me up and gave me some kind of ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Marvel comic holiday special with an ad for movie soundtracks in. I think I was around three, and I obsessed over that page — I loves the ‘Mad Max II’ artwork, but it was the ‘Halloween’ and ‘Halloween II’ images that really did it for me. I used to gawp at the Betamax of ‘Escape From New York’ when my parents went shopping and think that John Carpenter sounded like a very cool name. He told me there was a film where a severed head sprouted spider legs and scuttled off, but never mentioned that it was a Carpenter film — I requested to see it and he taped it during the next screening. This film was life-changing — from the effects to that downbeat ending.


My dad always told me that ‘Deliverance’ was awesome, but it never seemed to be on TV. We both kept an eye out for it (bizarrely, I even got my hands on James Dickey’s book as a kid), but one saturday he broke out this Walter Hill classic on tape and told me that it was “a lot like ‘Deliverance.” I loved this film — the weapons, the atmosphere and the traps…it was all about the hillbilly traps. I was obsessed with the booby traps in John Wayne crapfest, ‘The Green Berets’, but there was far more menace in this masterpiece. Because I saw ‘Southern Comfort’ first, ‘Deliverance’ always seemed a lot duller by comparison.


Not as well-known as other Walter Matthau vehicles of the era like, ‘Charley Varrick’ or ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’, ‘The Laughing Policeman’ is actually quite a smart procedural thriller. While there were heroic cops who acted outside the rules making box office dollars at the time, this one presented them in a far less glowing light, and this film reps for a wave of American pictures that would birth today’s sweary cable TV anti-heroes holding it down on the law’s side. Of course, I found this one dull as a kid, but dad taped it because he liked it, and felt that the opening scene, where eight people are brutally machine-gunned to death on a night bus, was one of the most violent things he’d ever seen. I loved watching that scene again and again — it was pretty brutal.


He taped this one unprompted and in its entirety, which indicated that he’d seen an advert or read up on it, realising that it might be my kind of film. ‘Conan the Barbarian’ was great, but I was always a big ‘Beastmaster’ fan (‘Deathstalker’s VHS art was badly misleading). From the opening where the titular sorcerer rips a woman’s heart out just by holding his glowing fingertips out, I was obsessed. The sword that fired a blade, a brutal crucifixion scene and the cel animation and cinematography was a sleight-of-hand that distracted me from the low-budget. Apparently Oliver Reed recorded a slurring, drunken narrative that was scrapped, and the end titles promised a sequel which was actually released last year, but I’ll be avoiding it for fear of sullying my love for this stupid movie.


Back when we first obtained a VCR, he taped the last chunk of this thriller on a half hour tape and it mystified me for a long, long time. For years I actually thought this film was ‘Piranha’ and could never fathom the excitement over Joe Dante’s classic, but this was still pretty good — there was Lee Majors and Margaux Hemingway, plus a mix of heist and hostage film as well as a very timely application of piranhas too. All the good stuff happens at the end — on watching the rest of it recently, I think it was a happy accident that my dad excised the dull first three-quarters and cut to the action.


It’s a brief update day, due to my own shitty management of workloads. I was very flattered that Mr. John Gotty who runs one of my favourite websites: the Smoking Section (and incidentally, he has a smoking habit that gives him the kind of voice that earns respect — I feel I’d be at least 33% more successful in life if I had Gotty’s voice) asked me to contribute to his Summer Madness section recently, and he upped my picks of anything I wanted for the supposed warmer months ahead. Somehow I managed to put Terrence Malick and Trae the Truth in the mix.

While I frequently rail against the dangers of blogwear, with an increasing amount of folk dressed like they’re playing a wacky nerd character in an ’80s shitcom who gets asked out for a dare by a beautiful classmate, I am deeply grateful that the internet has put me in contact with a whole host of fellow rap oddballs — whether it’s John in Nashville, Frank the Butcher in Boston or Masta Lee in Amsterdam. The universal language of hip-hop and footwear obsessiveness is a powerful thing. Check it out here and if you don’t have TSS in your RSS, then you’re a dumbass. Gotty and his team run a tight ship, and unlike many of the quick-fix music bloggers, my dude can write smartly, offering some fresh perspective that doesn’t cling, white knuckled, to the back of the latest Tweet-fuelled, out-of-control bandwagon.

I’m pretty bored with the sports footwear realm because it’s so stale. Somehow, overexposure has even sapped the joy out of the Jordan III — my favourite sneaker ever until 2011. It was nice to finally lay my hands on a couple of shoes that have divided opinion thus far. We had the bizarre experience of dinner with Swizz Beatz and Tim Westwood last night (thanks Reebok), and spoke to Swizz again today – nice guy (anybody who produces ‘Banned From TV’, ‘Money, Cash, Hoes’ and ‘Blow Your Mind’ is a legend).

I love sneakers that piss people off and I definitely co-sign the Kamikaze III — the fact Swizz talked to us about analytics intelligently for five minutes as well as informing us that he’s on a remix of Meek Mil’s ‘Ima Boss’ that drops soon was an indicator that he’s not your average rap dude. I also got my hands on Muska’s new Skytop III which also seems to be causing some talkback rumbles — “It’s just a Jordan/Huarache/Presto mix” they shout. So what’s the fucking problem there? That’s an awesome mix. At least it’s not a Vans copy. If anyone wants to wet the bed over skate brands using Nike inspiration, they might want to bear in mind that many of their favourite indie skate sneaker brands started with some “homages” to the Jordan I. Tech beats more baked rubber.

Want to know what’s really offensive? Sneakers that are made to look like Red Wings, Danners or Trickers, because the designers and product line managers themselves are “over”™ sneakers. Fuck off and become a cobbler and let some fans with imagination and passion have your job. Catering to the anti-sneaker market is a self-defeating move — go innovate.

If you haven’t visited lately, John’s Swoosh Page — which I believe is one of the first and best resources of its kind — is set to go offline soon just closed. John’s site has been invaluable to me in terms of information over the years, hosted since the early ’00s as part of the mysterious Trizera Ventures, with links to some running club pages too. John H Wallace III is a pioneer in the field, and as I understand, the listing project commenced around the mid ’90s, before there was even a live. The first time I ever typed in “sneakers” or “nike” into Lycos many, many years ago, John’s handiwork appeared.

Things have definitely changed, but I loved the almost-rustic look of John’s site, staying defiantly 1.0 in a world of Flash, CSS and constant contact. While it was rarely updated in recent years, a constant news feed is an irrelevance next to true passion, operating in blissful disinterest of the retro movement and all who joined the party. John even upped the image I swaggerjacked below — a snapshot of  on 13/06/1996 (just over fifteen years ago). Thank you for the shared information John…

“Over”™ things is a registered trademark of people who arrived too late in the first place everywhere.


I spent most of this weekend watching ‘Apocalypse Now’ on Blu-ray at the expense of a social life. It was worth it. In the UK, we’re frequently denied the good stuff on the Coppola side — what happened to a DVD of ‘The Outsiders’ (my favourite film ever)? In the US they’ve had the original film on a bare-bones DVD for over a decade, and a special edition for five years. We never seemed to get ‘Hearts of Darkness’ on DVD either. Then Optimum films took pity on us and gave us the entire ‘Full Disclosure’ 3-disc edition smartly repackaged, at a cheap RRP and they’re bringing out a Blu-ray of ‘The Outsiders’ on the 12th of September, 2011. I grew up with ‘Apocalypse Now’ but I overindulged.

As a small child I re-read the ‘Mad’ parody at my uncle’s house again and again, and was surprised that it bore little resemblance to the film when I got round to watching it – I was emotionally unequipped to appreciate the down-river journey, and I just liked the explosions and mirror punching. As a jumped-up teenager, I saw the parallels between Conrad’s text and the film.

‘Hearts of Darkness’ hipped me to the mythical plantation scene, just as various ‘The Exorcist’ documentaries told me about the ‘Spiderwalk’. Both excised scenes are effective, but I could live without them, but their eventual inclusion was appreciated. I love the idea that Coppola ditched the plantation because out of a temper tantrum in that relentless humidity above anything else — it obviously incorporated plenty of work but it was written out entirely, and that documentary does a fine job of showing just how much the trade and national press was quietly willing the film to fail, and the ruffled-looking Francis looks downright shell-shocked during the premiere scene at the end.

I loved ‘Apocalypse Now: Redux’ – restorations like the surfboard stealing and eerie Playboy prostitution for fuel makes for a deeper film, but what was startling was how elaborate some of the excised scenes were — they weren’t bland indoor excesses of dialogue, but vast set pieces. Coppola had evidently edited with extreme prejudice in the late 1970s. It wasn’t a Lucas-esque return-to-it-to-ruin-it affair, but something that felt like unfinished business.

As a barely related digression, FHM magazine had a ‘What’s Wrong With FHM?’ section years ago, where you could submit an error you’d spotted and win £20. I once read Phil Oakey in there saying that he had a real obsession with ‘Apocalypse Now’ in 1975, wrote in to point out that Phil was lying and got the money, which paid for a week’s food in those self-inflicted starving writer times. Alongside some kind of Q&A I had with ‘Front’ which I can barely recall, it’s one of two times a friend has seen my name in print and mentioned it to me. As a big Human League fan, I then felt remorse — envisioning someone showing Phil my smug little letter, and Phil calling me a “sad twat” beneath his breath.

Then I took it too far – I got my hands on the work print that ran at around five hours. Ponderous, bad quality, occasionally intelligible (Brando’s turn beneath extra fuzz was intolerable), it added layers of flab to the film in the two hours of unnecessary extras over the director’s cut. Out of some curious filmgoer’s duty I spent half the daytime watching it, occasionally drifting into a sleep that would be disturbed by a murky napalm blast. That put me off ‘Apocalype Now’ for a couple of years.

The sole exciting addition beyond ‘Redux’ — other than how much more of a dick Willard is in this version — was the resolution of the mystery of where Dennis Hopper’s Photojournalist went after Kurtz lost it with him and what happened to Scott Glenn’s Lieutenant Colby – a great actor left mute in previous versions – Colby shot the Photojournalist dead during his escape and Colby was killed by Willard’s special forces knife. It’s a sloppy scene in terms of editing and effects in its uncooked state — evoking that point in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ when the director feels he doesn’t know how to end the film once he’s at Kurtz’s compound — but it’s one of the meatiest deleted scenes in a long time. It even puts that excellent uncut Drexl hotel drug deal on the ‘True Romance’ DVD in the shade.

The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes that scene (plus the monkeys on a boat, with the tribal Doors cover) on a disc in a complete carry-over of the ‘Full Disclosure’ DVD set, but it’s the quality of the Blu-ray transfer for both official versions of the film that finally put bad memories of that muggy afternoon squinting at that screen away for good. Given the film’s lack of opening or end credits, it’s nice to get a copy of Coppola’s theatre-style programme for the film too — that theatrical idea echoes throughout his later films, whether it’s ‘Rumble Fish’s stagey feel or ‘Tetro’s operatic, overblown finale. And yes, I have to concede it — ‘Hearts of Darkness’ is an even better behind-the-scenes supplement than ‘If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of ‘Predator’. I love ‘Apocalypse Now’ all over again.

I also revisited Michael Gross’s ‘Genuine Authentic’ again in light of recent movements with the Ralph Lauren brands. For those who don’t know – the book was meant to be an authorised biography of Lauren, but Gross’s insistence on revealing a mid 1990’s indiscretion put the two at loggerheads, and the outcome certainly feels significantly cattier throughout as a result. But if you can get beyond the notion of Lauren as a narcissist (and I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t), the idea that he’s playing at high society, despite his humble origins, or the cowboy stuff as a grown-up form of playing fancy dress – which was always evident – then the book still aids in appreciation of what Ralph built.

‘Genuine Authentic’ indicates that Polo Sport was the brand’s reaction to Hilfiger and the “urban” dollar it chased (and the use of Tyson Beckford as the brand’s face was a shrewd one), but it’s denim that’s depicted as Ralph’s white whale and the thing he pursues to perfect, but constantly fails with – RRL is periodically lampooned as one of Ralph’s whims. As the book ends, on mentioning the RRL store opening in Soho in late 2000, “Vintage jeans can run into the thousands — and some of the salespeople in the store, who collect rare jeans themselves, will tell you why. They have the time. The store is often empty.”

I wonder if a revision would include the RRL line’s ascent in recent years? Still, like the excellent ‘Swoosh’, despite an agenda (‘Swoosh’ was partly penned by J.B. Strasser, the widow of Rob Strasser who helped Nike conquer with his marketing genius), it’s an absorbing read that’s unsullied by any official company line.

‘PORT’ #2 is pretty good. Even if the promo video talk of a revolution on paper never fully materialised, it reads like a faintly more accessible ‘Monocle’ (it’s all about the briefings these days) and the features on Harry Gasner and David Remnick are excellent. Martin Amis on teen hitmen in Columbia is an alarming read, but the Remnick piece justifiably takes cover space — if you’ve ever had a tight editing deadline on anything and felt that pressure, consider the content that Remnick and the ‘New Yorker’ crew have to put out weekly to the terrifyingly thorough standards that the likes of E.B. White laid down all those years ago. If a great writer like Remnick claims he feels like a “pretender” in his role there, then how fraudulent are the majority elsewhere, pumping out ad-led crap on a bi monthly or quarterly basis?

This week I had to buy another grown-up watch, because I’m too old for digital. But no Rolex or Omega can compete with my love for the Three 6 Mafia ALIFE G-Shock that my friend, Mr. BJ Betts got me a few years back. I’m way too old to be wearing this, but it reminds me of a happier time, plus my fondness for the music of Juicy J and Three 6 — who I think get better and better — in the present day. This must be one of the most lazy/restrained collaborations ever – for all the skull tees and lean consumption, they just put ‘666’ on the strap and ‘MAFIA EDITION’ down the sides. I kind of respect that, but I hate the fact I’m ancient and can’t wear this stuff any more. Having said that, age won’t stop me from enjoying that new Gunplay mixtape.

‘Crack & Shine International’ looks very smart in the flesh. Shouts to Topsafe for this one. The silver on black reminds me of the ‘Unexplained’ book of mysteries I grew up with that left me emotionally scarred for life with an array of pictures of spontaneous combustion victims and ghosts in churches. Of course, this is a graffiti book rather than a ghost book, but I hope it affects a generation of potential weirdos in the same way.


On peeping the Nike archive in Beaverton late last year, I made so many mental notes that my memory seems to have crashed since, fragmenting the amazing things that I was shown. I remember Air Trainer Max with a 180 unit, some sketches of the Air Safari, with it looking more like a loafer of some kind and some BWs that looked like they were built for a memory — those are just extracts of a blur. One thing that leapt out was that Nike’s apparel was strong from the early days — I’d been led to believe from books like ‘Swoosh’ that apparel was a weak point until the early 1980s. Incorrect. Displayed in lockers, there were some pristine examples of excellent design.

The morning before visiting, I put my camera to the side, assuming I would get it smashed to smithereens if I so much as aimed it. On arrival, Dan (who does an excellent job of looking after the Department of Nike Archives) asked me where my camera was. That’s one error I may take to the grave. If my spirit has to tread mournfully through corridors, I want it to lurk in that vast, dusty, shoe-stacked space.

In that maelstrom of geekery that was the Nike archive tour, I managed to forget something significant. Champion x Nike pieces. Of course, I’m overstating the nature of the garments, because Nike were — quite rightly — focusing on footwear to start, in the mid 1970s, they printed a few (presumably rush made) designs on Champion Reverse Weaves, tees and polos. They did the same with Hanes and Russell Athletic too, but it’s bizarre to see two brands so close to my heart in a solitary piece of apparel. It was ‘Lightning’ magazine’s peerless ‘Nike Chronicle’ issue/book/bible (shouts to Russ and Koba) that reminded me of that sighting. It’s the greatest (sweatshirt) story never told.

If you haven’t checked out yet, then you’re slipping. Yeah, everyone’s making a blog about trousers or retros of retros of reissues, but very few are getting to the crux of the cultural context or even reflecting what anybody in the real world actually wears beyond clusters of circle jerks in beige and khaki single-gear hotspots. These folk are doing a good job of trying to capture the realer stuff. I need to get off my arse and write something for them, because they’ve asked me nicely loads of times and I keep stalling. They just upped an interview with Matt Wolf, who directed the impending ‘Teenage’ documentary based on John Savage’s excellent book.

I have to shout out Sharma from WAH for creating a format I copied for this blog when she dropped knowledge on Raiders caps many years ago and for giving me an uncorrected press copy of Savage’s opus back in 2007 — it was an education, and I loved the image of a “typical” Mancunian hooligan in the late 1800s, with “narrow-go-wide” trousers, an elaborate belt buckle and a peaked cap in an early example of sensationalist scaremongering with regards to the younger generation. I would love to see a “professional scuttler” on SBTV spitting bars about their crime life.

My people at MOTHERFUCKING Patta have relaunched their website with a little blog to accompany the e-commerce and other good stuff. Patta and Precinct 5 man dem are family, and it’s worth noting that they just upped a link to the first ‘Luffie Duffie’ from DJ Edzon. I hope they up the old Patta Mix Tape from the same year too. People need to know that there was once a time – not too long ago – when sneaker references on a freestyle weren’t the corniest shit ever.

While we’re talking about real gs on the European side of things, Thomas Giorgetti gets shit done. If you haven’t seen the screwface he administers at the mere thought of a Jordan II that isn’t made in Italy in the ‘Sneakerheads’ documentary, you’re missing out. That’s the sneer of a connoisseur. From graffiti to creating something that’s more than another workwear line or fey facsimile line, Bleu de Paname keeps with the power moves and this Visionnaire video is good. I like how Thomas ties graffiti to the most prominent of his current occupations. ‘Lil’ Tyler’ magazine doesn’t get the recognition it deserved — the father of many styles.