Monthly Archives: July 2011

COUNTDOWN

Writing a top 50 of anything is a motherfucker. Nobody maintains a top 50 of something unless they’re truly insane. I keep a top 5 of some stuff, but that’s as far as it goes. And that’s subject to change. So putting together anything longer is hard, and beyond that top 10 ranking, it’s merely tactical. “You put XXXXX at 35! Are you crazy?” they shout in the comments section. And I don’t listen. Douchebags can glower at me at trade shows all they like. Streetwear is a subject that’s very important to me, and I can’t be bothered to break down what constitutes streetwear — you know what it is. Salutes to all who started at 432F.

When Bradley at Complex asked me to list 50 great streetwear bites (that was later changed to homages because “Bites” is a little too controversial), I was keen to get involved. Check it out right here. It’s nice to celebrate a realm before it went all cut, sew and RRL-lite — I’m not qualified to be talking about these things professionally, as I’m just a fan. I’m a toy. But that rack of shirts I browsed in Planet Clothing back in the early 1990s that was laden with Fuct, Freshjive, X-Large and some stray Carhartt is still fresh in my mind. It was a glorious confusion — was it skate wear? Hip-hop gear? I couldn’t work it out. So I used this opportunity with Compex’s 50 Greatest Pop Culture References In Streetwear to celebrate that. But I still had to omit some stuff important to me to fit that 50, and I forgot one key design.

I assume nobody cried about LRG being out the list again, because they’re not peddlers of parody, but I had to ditch Eightball and Droors because they’re skate brands, and before you claim that Supreme is a skate brand, we all know that it’s something bigger in 2011. In fact, I could easily make a list of nothing but Supreme gear, and I’m sure they loathe being tagged as streetwear too. But again, this isn’t the place for debate. It was originally a list of 80 or so designs. Some images were just impossible to find and some creations were excised because I couldn’t justify featuring more than 6 of the same brand when there’s a numerical perimeter to work within. You all knew Stussy and Supreme’s Chanel and Kruger homages would top it though, didn’t you?

But some stuff’s in there solely because I respect their business game or because that design typified an era, regardless of how regrettable it might look now. OBEY warrants a place for importance even if it’s super-wack to me nowadays, but those stickers fired my imagination back in the day. I saw one question on Twitter — “How could they forget air Johnny?” I can answer that one. Because it’s shit. It was nice to take another look at the work of the late Bleu Valdimer’s overlooked Kingpin line and Pervert’s Don Busweiler, who ditched the brand to join a cult. There’s a phenomenal documentary in there somewhere.

I regret omitting Supreme’s ARMY shirt, Stussy’s PiL-style StU, Zoopreme, King Stampede’s Cult stuff, Supreme Maxell, the J$ Situationormal Alpo shirt, Absurd’s A-Wing, DQM’s Meatallica, Diamond D-Wing, Undrcrwn’s Biggie and Pac shirts, Undrcrwn’s Coogi-style basketball shirts, Silas’s ‘Silas Bloody Silas’ shirt, Gimme5’s Ghostbusters image, Fuct’s ‘Warriors’, the BMW Red Army Faction shirt (I couldn’t find the designer), Perks & Mini’s Balearic Flag and Sun-Ra designs, Goodenough’s ‘Dog or Die, Staple’s Cassius Clay, Crooked Tongues’s ‘Crooked Force’, SSUR’s IZM IBM homage, Tonite’s ‘Party On’ Patagonia shirt, ALIFE’s Otis Bantum Correctional Facility, Freshjive’s ‘Don’t Tread On Me’, WTAPS’s ‘Rise Above’ stuff NFC’s Krylon print, 10.DEEP’s Champion shirt, the SSUR Bruce Lee ‘Enter the Dragon’ chest marks, the St. Alfred’s YSL style monogram, the Bounty Hunter Danzig font, the Bounty Hunter Ducky Boys shirt, Pervert’s Kappa bite, Orchard Street’s ‘Pimp Accordingly’, Mishka’s ‘Death to All’, HVM8 ‘Bone Thugs & Typography’, aNYthing’s BAD NEWS series and a few more….in fact, I’m sure there’s a hundred more significant shirts, hats and sweats.

I couldn’t single out a specific NBHD design that’s an iconic homage. Mr. Craig Ford reminded me of plenty more Hysteric Glamour creations, Duffer’s Ducci Gucci bite and a Hermes homage, plus BAPE’s Versace and Cazal copies. The Natural Born ‘I Against I’ and 2K/Gingham Beatles designs are clever, but I never saw them as homages or imitations. Even only including a single No Mas design seemed churlish.

But now I’m boring myself.

There’s one major idiotic omission in the listing (and apologies to Erik for misspelling his name as Eric a couple of times) — the Fuct ‘Goodfellas’ shirt. The brand’s early ’92 film poster art preempts SSUR’s ‘Mean Streets’ and Supreme’s ‘Taxi Driver’. I mentioned it, then forgot to include it later on like a dumbass. It seems so obvious to stick gangsterism on cotton now, but back then it felt totally fresh. Fuct is a very overlooked brand indeed.


(Please excuse the shitty image quality)

Why is the list largely absent of designs post-2006? Because there’s some lines that deserve a spotlight and I’m afraid SSUR creations warranted a place more than your line. There’s still some great creations being pumped out from newer labels, but post-2006, the homaged brands seemed to want more of that hypesphere loot and seemed happier to officially collaborate. I feel that murdered some of the rebel spirit and that was an instant disqualification, though on seeing the list, Jeff Staple mentioned that the John Jovino Gun Shop shirt was made with his cooperation.

It’s heartening to see a streetwear resurgence of sorts in the UK. Shouts to Gabriel at Origin London for his latest project with This is My Costume, Puck and Second To None. At fear of sounding patronising, the dude is 17 and creating a presence for his brand using a network of folk who dwell on the new. We old farts are on our way out — and not a moment too soon. Too much nostalgia can prove unhealthy.

With all the current MTV celebrations, it’s always worth re-watching the ‘VH1 Goes Inside Yo! MTV Raps’ documentary from a few years back. There’s some great outtake footage in there, and just as that rack of randomly gathered shirts had a vast impact on me, those saturday mornings watching Ed and the team were life-changing. Anyone else remember those switches to Marxman and Talkin’ Loud releases during Fred’s non-studio section courtesy of MTV Europe? I always felt I was missing out on some amazing US stuff as a result of that intrusion.

And if anybody can tell me what a ‘Purple Onion’ is in the comments, I’d love to know. While this track is hypnotic, I initially wrote the video off as a So Me copy, but the ‘Pop Up Video’ style comments and ‘What They Do’ style is decent.

KUBRICK, CANINES & LEE MARVIN

I have no idea what the central idea behind this blog actually is. It’s not about clothes, music, reading matter or movies specifically, but they certainly recur. It’s just another self-indulgent outlet on the internet, hoping to snare the occasional reader with a like mind in, rather than gunning for the masses on some fancy shit. I only launched with that to fill this paragraph and because I’ve stalled twice on camera explaining what I actually do. I leave this WordPress out of it because it complicates things even more. But I do seem to dwell on films a lot more than any other subject here because most of my interests are borne from a cinematic preoccupation.

That still doesn’t mean I exercise much quality control. Out of boredom, impatience and the crappiness of my local multiplex, I’ll watch films in some really bad pirate quality. Not on the level of the ‘E.T.’ bootleg from my childhood or the unwatchable ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Die Hard II’ bootlegs brought round by excitable buddies in 1990, but I’ve sat through iPhone 2 camera quality takes on blockbusters, all tinged by the cautious periodic wobble of a fearful ‘director of photography’ who’s wary of a fine and rejection. I even watched ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ via a Megavideo link in that quality. I am a fool. But some movies deserve the pristine Blu-ray treatment or they’re pointless. ‘Barry Lyndon’ is a perfect example.

Stanley Kubrick’s second best film (behind ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but way ahead of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’), is one of the most beautifully shot motion pictures ever (John Alcott’s work is masterful), and while some have criticised Ryan O’Neal’s performance, I love his deceitful pomposity. Kubrick using NASA technology lenses to give the film a natural, old world look is a glorious paradox that sums up the master’s unorthodox mode-of-thought. Yet inexplicably, like as with Martin Scorcese’s After Hours’ on DVD in the UK, the only way to get ‘Barry Lyndon’ on Blu-ray is to fork out for a box set — in this case the ‘Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection’. Still, there’s worse things to spend your hard-earned on than seven Kubrick films and a bonus disc. If Blu-ray hadn’t happened, Stanley probably would have made something similar to display his work to his standards.

Recent talk of William Devane here – reinstated to the director’s cut of ‘Payback’ which was a remake of 1967’s ‘Point Blank’, which I was watching at work today for inspiration via the club scene with Stu Gardner’s psychedelic funk wailing — has got me thinking about the many hard-boiled novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), which depicted Parker getting up to no good. Violent, pulpy and amoral, they’ve been the source of inspiration for vengeful anti-heroes on screen ever since. Godard’s ‘Made in U.S.A’ was an unofficial remake of Stark’s ‘The Jugger’ but the opening credits and trailer are the best things about the film compared to the brutal fun of Boorman’s masterpiece, or 1973’s ‘The Outfit’. I’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s Parker comic book adaptations too. Having grown up on Howard Chaykin’s X-rated ‘Black Kiss’, I’ve long had a taste for the more uncompromising approach to noir when it comes to words and pictures.

As the fine ‘The Ivy Look’ book mentions, Lee Marvin kicks arse in ‘Point Black’ in a fine pair or Florsheim Imperials, and I recommend reading the ‘Playboy’ interview here and the ‘Esquire’ interview here to appreciate the depth of Marvin’s character. Too manly for macho posturing, his opinions on sexuality are particularly enlightening. I’ve also been browsing this Parker fansite a lot — the archive of paperback covers is incredible.






I had an epiphany recently. I don’t actually like Kenneth Anger’s films. I love them conceptually and his attitude’s fun, but I can’t help falling asleep and having bizarre visions during the ‘Majick Lantern Cycle’. Maybe that’s the point. I prefer Kenneth on paper I love his made-up ‘Hollywood Babylon’ books and I’d been looking for a copy of Alice L. Hutchison’s book from 2004 – a definitive text on Anger — for a while, and while trying to get a status update on the oft-delayed ‘Italo Disco — A Secret History of Modern Pop’ from Black Dog Publishing, I noticed that they’re reprinting the Anger book in September too. That should dead some of those hefty Amazon Marketplace prices.

Most mornings I’m woken by a spaniel. The dangly eared buffoon doesn’t care for the sanctimony of sleep and seems to become odder and more immature as the months pass. I’ve long wanted to understand what goes on in its head- I always imagined it was a cover of Hot Butter’s ‘Popcorn’ played using the dog bark effect on a crappy keyboard played perennially until bedtime, but it turns out that it might be more complex than that. I just started reading John Bradshaw’s scholarly ‘In Defence of the Dog’ that talks about the complexities of the canine, their modes of communication and their evolution. It turns out that we’ve been underestimating them a lot. Bradshaw never mentions their love of snapbacks, but I’m still besotted with the Chimp team‘s lookbook for caps. Everyone else should just give up. This shoot (shouts to the Bedfords, Joseph Dawson, Jonathan Paine and Snowy and Bailey) is just perfect to me. Dogs in hats stays classic.

I hate everyman rap. It’s even cornier than the fantastical duck tales that the platinum spitters peddle, but Stalley seems to strike a balance between keeping it real and just being aspirationally cool, calm and collected. He has the Maybach co-sign, but the packaging for ‘Lincoln Way Heights’ (the David Chang art makes it worth grabbing as a physical copy) and videos dropping from it have been tremendous. ‘Pound’ is classic — icily lyrical but deep in the production stakes courtesy of Rashad. The video’s crystal clear clarity of elevator journeys, the artist and lo-fi snippets of real-life panic and ‘Gummo’ gives budgetary limitations the finger. It manifests the Stalley sound. The homie Nick Schonberger is at least 25% cooler in my eyes for knowing this Ohio legend-in-the-making.

THE SANTANA LOGO

“The corporations lead the trends. When did street fashion become all about sneakers? What is that about? Who the fuck cares what hip hop wanker has started what baggy arsed sweatshirt and jean brand? Unfortunately it would appear that many people do care. And so the trends are set.” Russell Waterman, ‘Aspekt Ratio’ #1, 2007

I grew up in a household where much of the music was confined to a small rack of vinyl in the lounge. As a toddler it seemed like an infinite collection of music, but my dad’s record collection wasn’t particularly extensive. It was however, eclectic. I was preoccupied with the covers of the Leadbelly 4LP retrospective, the lettering on Paul Simon’s ‘One Trick Pony’, the back of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Sunlight’, Third World’s ‘Journey to Addis’ and bizarrely, both my brother and I loved the Pointer Sisters 12″ coloured vinyl that contained some label paper in the translucent red due to manufacturing error.

Best of all, there was the Santana font — fantasy realist Robert Venosa’s masterpiece that accompanies Mati Klarwein’s painting on the cover of 1970’s ‘Abraxus.’ Coincidentally my friend Jonathan would encourage me to gawp at the cover of Santana’s self-titled debut to see the faces in the lion like some kind of child hippie. Yet we never bothered playing the actual music. In fact, when I did finally listen to ‘Inner Secrets’ it bored me. My dad told me that his Santana collection arose as a result of a casual mention to my uncle that he liked a solitary Santana song. The result? Carlos for birthdays and Christmas. He wasn’t actually a fan.

But what a logo it was.

As a result I’ve been drawn to any reference to the font, and it transpired that three of my favourite brands had a go at parodying it. I just finished a project pertaining to homages and it meant I could dig out one of my favourite t-shirt designs ever — Silas’s Slayer/Silas, which I believe dates back to 2003 (though for a long time, I believed this design was a Holmes release too). Silas’s knitwear, simple sweats, Black Sabbath themed creations and ’80s disco meets punk meets hip-hop collections were great, but this one was just pitch perfect, with the noodling fusion sound of Santana at odds with the speed of Slayer’s sonics. Of course, there were parallels in fiddliness (as any ‘Guitar Hero’ veteran can tell you), but it just felt like a joke told perfectly. The ultimate deadpan delivery. Seeing as there’s no set font collection beyond S, A, N or T, there’s an appropriate amount of improvisation and riffing on behalf of the designer, resulting in that jagged, Obituary-esque thrash metal tail on the ‘R’ ro maintain symmetry.

While I believe this is the best version of the Venosa design, solely because it’s so wrong that it becomes utterly right, Holmes and Supreme deserve shouts too. Holmes was an early fascination for me, back when Slam City and Bond were must-visits on any London pilgrimage. Holmes was the proto-Silas in its early ’90s irreverence, with some sources citing the name as a John Holmes reference, long before ‘Boogie Nights’ — Russell Waterman, Sofia Prantera and several other local creatives generated some forgotten classics under this Slam City owned brand. Their Santana font ‘Satan’ (circa 1994? The picture here is borrowed from my buddies at Goodhood) was one of them. That switched the letters around smartly, and with Silas (hence the character of Silas Holmes) being a sequel of sorts to Holmes, the Slayer tee is like a sophisticated follow-up to that cult favourite from a golden age of pre-Google Image Search homage.

Between both tees, props are due to the Supreme Santana logo shirt, art directed by SSUR, designed by Kevin Lyons and released in 2000. That shirt represents the year when the internet sent hordes to the nation’s capitals in search of expensive toys, elusive Prestos and BAPE. So why dredge up these past glories? Because the current glut of 1:1 replica attempts lack the wit to ever be this memorable and it’s always worth reinforcing just how important Holmes and Silas were.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

According to a Complex.com rundown, I’m one of the top 25 influential sneaker Twitterers. That was a nice surprise. Shouts to the Complex famalam, but I’m definitely not influential, unless being strange is considered aspirational. Still, it’s fun to be acknowledged in whatever form, even if it appears just after you Tweet than sneaker culture is just a load of old men in colourful hats and big shoes. Like all lists it also had some folks acting all “How come he don’t want me, man?” Will Smith too. Between the brands and the consumers, I still think the whole sports footwear cycle is in a dark, dark place right now. Blame the egos, their ’97 mindsets and forays into blog reliance. There’s good shoes out there — in fact there’s some amazing stuff out there — but we in the UK seem to be denied them in favour of some dreck.

Take the Zoom Huarache TR Low for example. Most updates of shoes are a letdown — the Platinum Dunes remakes of the sneaker world — but this shoe somehow channels two years of Huarache running designs and brings it up to date without being anything close to terrible. The Mids seem to be a more popular choice Stateside, but we Brits always loved the runner — from Derek Redmond’s old man (“Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?”) to Olympus sale racks and the Foot Locker and JD Sports high street resurrections.

Thus I’m baffled as to why this model — one of the few pre-Presto times when something so progressive got road wear before popular footwear on these shores went defiantly retro in white-on-white or black-on-black. This model debuted late last year but I’ve not seen any pairs over here. That’s a Bozo move, and with the subtle change in textures and Knicks colours, a bargain at $69 in NYC. Admittedly some other variations feel a little too plasticky, but this is a classic in the making. It’s fun that you can still saunter through ‘Nothing to Declare’ at Heathrow with a gem in tow, but I can’t help but feel that it’s an opportunity wasted over here. These were a breath of fresh air amid the city’s spectacular humidity.

Other online appearances this week included an interview with ‘Crack & Shine’s Freddie for the excellent new site, ‘The Heavy Mental’ that operates from Australia and launched quietly with a wealth of features on talented folk like Lev Tanju, Fergadelic, Luke Meier and Shaniqwa Jarvis. Even Union’s Chris Gibbs — a style king in a realm populated by herbs — is involved. It’s a great start and props are due to Ed for putting it together. It’s worth your energy and a fine antidote to padded paragraphs for SEO’s sake or the shackles of 140 characters.

www.theheavymental.com

It was also good to see Allen and the 12ozProphet crew making big moves at site and agency level at the moment. There’s evidently some huge things in the pipeline that they’ll be rolling out soon, but their meticulous approach to digital, paper and cotton product is an inspiration. There’s never a pixel of half-step on display from these guys and their appreciation for graffiti in its hardcore form manifests itself in the meticulous rather than cliche drips and arrows. I was privvy to some amazing, energising and inspiring work that’s all too rare these days, left as it too often is, in the hands of a head designer with a grip of Thames & Hudson tomes and precious little else. 12oz are role models and I need to get these stickers up by any means necessary, having seen the logo throughout both Berlin and New York these last few weeks. The amount of detail in the labelling and packaging of the tees is appropriately uncompromising.

The late, great RAMMΣLLZΣΣ may have decried the ‘SNEEZE’ logo as “toy” but for $2 (those import charges are a motherfucker) from that Lafayette vending machine, issue #12 is a banger. The almost jizzy, translucent cover lettering over Kate Upton, a big Prodigy fold-out from the Supreme shoot and an interview with the perennially wavey French Montana are all breaks from the bullshit. The Downtown broadsheet delivers time and time again — there’s some insightful content amid the gloss.

WEIRDO LONDON



 
I’m in New York. That means time spent pondering as to what nonsense I should up here is superseded by my love of those sugar and additive laden monster size iced teas for 99 cents, the Shake Shack near my hotel and a quest for chicken parms. As a fan of much that’s NYC, I’m fairly quick to ditch my Britishness in favour of vast portions.

It’s a shame that trips here are no longer based around the purchase of publications and footwear that’s the same as it is everywhere (motherfuck global rollouts and homogenized store shelves). The last bastion of NYC that hasn’t been imported or cloned is the food. So I’m eating my body weight in saturated fats and getting super sized. Box logo hats and Jordans everywhere. It’s important to maintain the identity of your city, or we’re all destined to become the same place with the same attitude, same look, but different weather.

Long before Recon ever expressed a yearning for the old New York, London’s changes had been duly noted. Illustrator and writer Geoffrey Fletcher `had been documenting London’s dark and disintegrating side throughout the 1960s in books like ‘Down Among The Meths Men’ complete with on-the-spot scratchy, haunting imagery, and his 1962 book, ‘The London Nobody Knows’ was adapted into a documentary in 1969, and it’s a bizarre slab of a time long gone. Andrew Bunney reminded me of the documentary’s existence after I hunted snippets from it, instigated into a hunt by an excellent article by Bob Stanley

The choice of subject matter, with a solemn James Mason as the guide is peculiar but absorbing — gas lamps powered by the sewer, oily foodstuffs, fish in urinals, an unnervingly aggressive escapologist, psychedelic electronics scoring kippers and fruit during a market montage and glassy-eyed transients guzzling methylated spirits. Bar a deeply unfunny attempt at humour with regards to an egg-shelling operation, it’s consistent and compelling.

The pallid faces, stern looks, flat caps and disembodied music hall soundtracking give the whole thing a periodically nightmarish quality that’s only topped by 1974’s hideously matter-of-fact ‘Incendio’ in the documentary darkness stakes. I heartily recommend the Darkest London blog for more on the topic of the nation’s capitals and the forgotten oddities it contains. It’s all there to be unearthed and celebration.

For such a supposedly mannered, straightlaced city, London is a very strange place. Looking at the lone figure of the lamplighter, trudging along and working with an increasingly limited workload, I couldn’t help but ponder as to whether he, and other characters depicted in ‘The London Nobody Knows’ are the wandering ghosts who preempt where bloggers and e-celebrities could be later in life. While these are frivolous times, those indispensable in the distribution of triviality could be that guy one day — the keepers of the flame that no longer matters any more.

1977'S ALTERNATIVE ICONS

Back when this blog was on SlamXHype, I upped a piece about my favourite outfits from Paul Schrader films. It was shit. It’s on here somewhere, but it’s weak. I can’t believe I fucked up and made a half-arsed blog post. My excuse? I was probably tired and it was during my ill-fated blog every two days period. Yeah, I know that you love Steve McQueen (I wrote a tribute to him during that shitty period, pertaining to his appearance in ‘The Hunter’ — bad film, good outfit), but yo, nobody cares about his Persols and Rolex any more. You Tumblr’d it irrelevant. If I could be any film icon, I’d be William Devane in John Flynn and Paul Schrader’s 1977 oddity, ‘Rolling Thunder.’ The fact he’s only got one-arm (ruined by a garbage disposal) doesn’t hinder my aspirations one bit. While the excellent VBS ‘Tattoo Age’ documentary on Smith Street Tattoo was a treat today, the death of Tracy Underwood of Phunky Phat Graphics killed my vibe. So I broke out ‘Rolling Thunder’ and watched the violent bits again.

The shotgun sawing, sunglass wearing killing machine’s detached presence makes for a deliberately joyless cinematic experience – the anti ‘Death Wish’ in which neither Devane or Tommy Lee Jones’s (“I’m going to kill a bunch of people.”) characters are particularly happy post-shootout. And what a shootout it is, matching ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’s bloodshed or the caesarian section bullet-blasting in ‘Way of the Gun.’ Whereas William Lustig’s trashier ‘Vigilante’ — shot five years later —  is gleeful in Robert Forster and Fred Williamson’s dispatch of the bad ‘uns, Schrader never wants to make any of his character studies feel good. I love ‘Rolling Thunder’ and recommend that you watch it as soon as possible. I wish the Major Charles Rane look would catch on and the blind copyists would cut off their naval tattoo speckled right forearms to be more like ‘Rolling Thunder’s main character. It’s good to hear that ‘Rolling Thunder’s long-delayed UK Blu-ray release is set for September.

That Japanese poster might actually be the single greatest movie poster ever created. While I can spend a lot of time on the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I heartily recommend Museum of Cinema (where I pilfered that black and white shot of Devane) and the Grindhouse Database for more information on proper films.

If I was Charles Rane, I wouldn’t settle for the kind of pussy vehicles that McQueen favoured. I’d want to cruise around in the Landmaster from another 1977 flick, albeit a significantly crappier one — ‘Damnation Alley.’ A post-apocalyptic film with George Peppard and Jan Michael-Vincent should have been awesome, but what’s mind-boggling about this film was how lo-fi it looks for something that was aimed at a mass audience. This wasn’t a low budget film, but it’s as if the entire budget was poured into making the car that the crew drive about in. That’s it – the sole good thing about ‘Damnation Alley.’ It was released on Blu-ray after years of fuzzy video purgatory, and that’s only good to ogle the Landmaster — a functioning and and water $350,000 12-wheel creation that was made by pin-stripe and custom car legend Dean Jeffries. There’s a pleasantly obsessive page about it here. Charles Rane in the Landmaster would probably be the most badass thing on earth.

I’m pretty bored of writing stuff at the moment, because I sense we’ve all gone full-circle in just half a decade, but it’s fun working on releases for Mr. Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders’s British Remains line. There’s something about seeing your text in typewritten form that’s eerie in a ’70s Mountbatten getting blasted to fuck, Peter Sutcliffe report kind of way. Yet that’s a pleasant antidote to easily copy-pasted paragraphs. I need to interview Andrew on some cinematic and musical matters for this blog at some time. He knows an awful lot.


BERLIN, JACKET PORN & OTHER STUFF

I’m unpacking from Berlin. My respect for Vans’s Syndicate line has been mentioned here an awful lot, as has my disdain for both the state of collaborations and physical retail spaces. If every footwear brand had the US/UK facilities that New Balance has as well as a top-tier project as strong as Syndicate, life would be a better and sneakers wouldn’t be as stale. Forgive the stereotyping, but the Germans are thorough. Berlin’s Firmament and Civilist went in this week, offering the antidote to Bread & Butter’s vast denim stands, chambray and Polo shorts and the popularity of Iron Fist clothing.

I love Germany’s ability to throw itself into a sub-culture with an obsessive zeal that’s almost unmatched beyond the otaku types in the far east, and their approach to skate was unhampered by the Berlin Wall before it began to fall on 9 November 1989 — they simply adapted to that existence and used the imagery, surplus and restricted landscape to forge their community. While we were swanning around in fluoro shorts and applying Rip-Grip all over our bulbous boards, East and West Berlin’s youth faced an adversity that strengthened their scene and necessitated a DIY approach. Shouts to Mr. Charles Morgan for the hookup on Civilist’s Syndicate pack — a set that leaves most other dual-label projects in the dust. The leather Chukka Low’s smartly executed, but the pin badges, military-themed Velcro badges on the bag and even the pocket tee that accompanies the set are pitch-perfect in their design.

Some people base a shoe on their favourite ironic ’80s film. Civilist opted to use the Berlin Brigade, the Allied Army unit based in West Berlin and culled from the units already in Berlin made of British and American troops as a result of post-WWII rulings. Brought together for the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961 and disbanded in 1994, the US Army’s Berlin Brigade badge, with its flaming sword, is a key identifier in this project. It’s a striking piece of imagery.

The Morganator put me onto last year’s ‘Transit: Berlin Skateboarding Retrospektive’ ‘zine too, providing some excellent background information and imagery on the scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Tied with an in-store exhibition, Civilist and Vans created the best thing I saw (or put on my foot) this week. Team Civilist are also the minds behind the mysterious Aspekt Ratio — a newspaper-size publication which I assumed never had a follow-up after issue #0 in early 2007.

A few years on and Aspekt Ratio #1 is out ( I think it dropped much earlier in the year), shitting on much of the print competition. I admired the preview issue for its sprawling interview pieces, but issue #1’s pieces on clubbing, Australian youth movement, the Sharpies (particularly enlightening) and interviews with Mike Mills and C.M. Talkington are very much my “thing” if that “thing” could ever be defined. I’ve seen a lot of attempts to put this thing of ours onto paper after the gradual cancellations of several key magazines that educated me during the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s (are those rumours about the return of ‘Mass Appeal’ true?), but this is among the best thus far. Did I mention that it’s free? There’s a website (www.aspektratio.com), but don’t expect some cuddly abundance of detail on their. It’s worth the hunt.

Bravo Civilist.

I did another list for my buddies at Complex on the top 50 sneaker moments in movies – well, it’s more ’50 interesting appearances by shoes in films’ than anything comprehensive, but that wouldn’t bring in the click-throughs. I didn’t check the feedback because I assume it’s all, “You missed XXXXXXX you fucking idiot” and “This shit is lame, Complex fell off” etc. etc. Funnily enough, I couldn’t care a fuck – I’m onto the next one, though I am livid at myself for forgetting the PF Flyers in ‘The Sandlot Kids.’ Check out the list here. Shouts to Russ and Joe for getting me involved again.

Props to Mubi for risking his liberty to bring back these Patta mini-penknives that are a preview of their work with KangaROOS. Victorinox products are the promo products of kings. Shouts to team Patta for arming us.

I respect Kenneth Grange’s design savvy, with a portfolio that included trains and pens, and no signifier that they’re Kenneth’s work other than the fact each creation is very, very good. With an inspirational work ethic, the man’s a genius. In a world where you only have to change the colour of some buttons for some sycophant to bellow “GENIUS” on Twitter in the hope of earning an Retweet that doesn’t sound like much, but Kenneth Grange is the real-deal. To coincide with the ‘Making Britain Modern’ exhibition of his work at London’s Design Museum (bafflingly, the first Grange retrospective), there’s a book dropping in August too. It’s probably worth investing in.

The “I found it while I was looking for something else” argument for finding porn is shit, but it’s still used by husbands, boyfriends and sons globally, but I found the downgirlz.com (NSFW) site entirely by accident while I was working on a project on outerwear. I wasn’t complaining — not because I’m some kind of fetishist for feather filled jackets on females, but because, it was half-naked women and North Face. Then I realised that it’s a paysite and that some of the bondage content is a little creepy. Good titles though — “Betty is layered in 3 XXXL Nupste jackets” “Betty frogtied in Marmot” “Betty in Mountain Equipment Co-Op Expedition down jacket”

I had no idea that a North Face down jacket fetish actually existed but it seems I’m not worldly enough. It takes notions of jacket porn to a literal level.