Monthly Archives: September 2011

YAYO & SWEATPANTS

My mum doesn’t believe I do anything for a living unless it’s on paper. If it’s not paper, it’s a fad. Pixels can’t compete. So it’s always nice to get a gig writing something beyond the screen. I gave up wanting to be a journalist years ago when I realised that advertorials seemed more profitable than music criticism and if you can write an advertorial, you can probably write copy for brands which always pays more than integrity. And that was the end of my journalistic aspirations. Shit, even angry old Scott Schuman probably got no maternal props until he put out that Penguin book. That’s why he’s mad at a little girl who writes better copy than him. Anyway, this blog was meant to be a work showcase stuff I’ve written, but I only learnt how to use a scanner a short while ago. Here’s a piece on Supreme for Time Out London (strangely, while I’m prone to plenty of typos, I didn’t put that strange plural/singular G-Star typo in the brackets) for people who’ve never heard of the store.  And on the subject of Supreme’s origins, shouts to Arse_Beard on twitter for reminding me about the Menace Epicly Later’d.

After this week’s madness (chainsaw hostage decapitations and corpse highway road blocks) with cartels, Mexican film ‘Miss Bala’ (based on a true story) about a beauty queen involved with some dangerous characters sounds even more intriguing than it did a few days ago. The poster’s especially cool with the bullet and bikini imagery.

Watching the appalling ‘Killer Elite,’ I was reminded that De Niro seems to have gotten by on face-scrunching alone throughout the last decade. But guess what? If he’d only ever been in one scene (the campaign HQ kung-fu stance) in ‘Taxi Driver’ I’d probably be obsessed with his acting. So he’s forgiven for the cinematic shitslide. Steven Prince is iconic for his turn as creepy gun salesman Easy Andy in that film and it’s always worth using talk of ‘Taxi Driver’ to link to Scorcese’s  amazing 1978 Steven Prince documentary ‘American Boy’ in which cult ex-smackhead Mr. Prince tells amazing anecdotes about Neil Diamond, overdoses and silverback gorillas in hats. This beats any amount of George Harrison footage. It’s like being in the presence of the best cokeheads ever.



This feature on Acronym at Being Hunted is amazing (as is the Being Hunted way), but Errolson’s revelation that he’s got a line on the way with United Arrows called DISAERAN is interesting. The site’s live, but it’s not giving a lot away. I’m guessing that it won’t be waxed parkas and knitwear.

YMCMB apparel has been addressed here before, but my Rhyme Syndicate merchandise comparisons seem triply vindicated by the amazing array of trackpants on the www.ymcmbofficial.com site to complement the YMCMB sweatshirts. There’s even blank tees too, but I’m not so sure about the skateboards. Rappers filming their skate lessons for Worldstar is an excruciating fad. Still, it’s not half as bad as the Dipskate inline skating team.

NEON-NOIRS: 'DRIVE' & AN '80s AESTHETIC

I really liked ‘Drive.’ If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to get embroiled in a rambling conversation about ’80s thrillers with me, then you’ll know that — as a child of the indy video store era — I love that genre. Title screens flash with neon, character actors crack skulls, fake blood is in abundance and when the films are at their best, there’s an inherent taint of sleaze. You can clean up the audio and video all you like, taking it to Blu-ray quality, but that sleaze is too tough to shift. ‘Drive’ is Nicolas Winding Refn’s tribute to that era and he gets it pitch perfect, while shaving off the crappier aspect, so those vintage Clubmasters of yours stay tinted. The urgency of Refn’s ‘Pusher’ trilogy seemed at odds with the cinematic rebirth of his often-ponderous ‘Valhalla Rising’ but here the deliberate pace is pitched perfect, indicating that he’s that he’s opted to (Michael) Mann up.

If we’re going to filter down my favourite ’80s thrillers, I favour films like 1980’s ‘American Gigolo’ and 1981’s ‘Thief’ (cited by Refn as an influence on ‘Drive’), where occupations clash and situations engulf the protagonists. Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’ with its stylised LA reveals a heart of darkness in James Caan’s diner conversation with Tuesday Weld, discussing a “not-give-a-fuck” mindstate that’s explosively manifested towards the film’s conclusion. It’s an amazing scene that’s out-darkened by the burst of bile from mob bawse Leo later on, but it’s a classic film. James Caan’s Ric Flair style approach to wooing is also incredible, “I wear $150 slacks, I wear silk shirts, I wear $800 suits, I wear a gold watch, I wear a perfect, D-flawless three carat ring. I change cars like other guys change their fucking shoes. I’m a thief. I’ve been in prison, all right?” On that tailored note, both ‘American Gigolo’s Julian and ‘Thief’s Frank are both kitted out for the screen by Giorgio Armani.

‘Drive’s descent into nihilism echoes elements of ‘Thief’ but there’s a sense that — had Refn had the opportunity — Michael Mann favourites Tangerine Dream would’ve scored it. The German ambience turned up to shattering levels underpinned some classics. Alongside ‘Thief’ they also contributed music to 1983’s ‘Risky Business’ to match Giorgio Moroder’s ‘American Gigolo’ work and 1977’s massively underrated William Friedkin ego-led mercenary masterpiece, ‘Sorcerer’ — Friedkin’s hard-boiled classic with extra hair gel, 1985’s ‘To Live and Die in LA’ is cited as another of Refn’s reference points, and while it lacks Tangerine Dream, it got Wang Chung on the score.

But that pink script that makes up the opening credits of ‘Drive’ is pretty compelling too. What’s the lineage of that? Pick a film from between 1980 and 1985 and you’re liable to find a reference point. The colour evokes ‘Risky Business’s opening titles, but it’s even more evocative of the lettering of the film’s poster. The scrawled ‘Sorcerer,’ ‘Thief’s script and minimal font for the leads (prior to the realistic 9-minute safe cracking sequence that sets off the film`), ‘American Gigolo’s appropriately fancy way with the letters and the fluorescent blocks of ‘To Live and Die in LA’ against a sunny backdrop may have played a part too.

Provided you can wear your reference points on your scorpion jacket sleeve without descending into a mosaic of homages, there’s no shame in taking it back to the VHS era’s most overlooked neon-noirs and ‘Drive’ pulls that off perfectly.

Bonus: With my love of 1981’s ‘Nighthawks,’ I was drawn towards 1982’s ‘The Soldier’ too, a luridly violent, silly b-movie from James Glickenhaus, the director of another personal grindhouse classic, ‘The Executioner.’ ‘The Soldier’ aka. ‘Codename: The Soldier’ benefits from an unexpected Tangerine Dream score and some phenomenal animated opening titles, full of patriotic slogans and communist images. James Glickenhaus is a very wealthy man, having moved from Hollywood to New York’s Fifth Avenue, into the financial realm. He commissioned the tricked-out Enzo Ferrari that is the one-off Ferrari P4/5 by Pinifarina — a custom job so exceptional, that Luca di Montezemolo had it officially Ferrari badged. Imagine Ryan Gosling taking that one on a getaway mission….

GORDON, WALTER & GHOSTFACE

There’s a big week ahead, but I won’t be indulging in much of what’s going on (though I would really like to see the Christopher Shannon show at LFW) because I’m not invited and because I have an unnatural amount of assignments that I’ve greedily agreed to to finish. Freelancing is boring like that. So all I can do here this evening is bang out the things I’ve been checking for over the last couple of days. The most notable thing next week is Supreme London’s Thursday opening – already I see people declaring it to be a sign that the brand is “mainstream” but that criticism seems cyclical — the ’95 kids decried the ’00 kids who decried the ’04 kids who are decrying the ’07 kids who are hating on a perceived influx of ’11 Odd Future fans touching their beloved brand. It’s like a 5-panel hatted foodchain of hate. Funnily enough, plenty of kids crying “NEWBIE” weren’t even aware of the brand when Kanye unexpectedly wore the sweat in ‘Vibe’ back in winter 2003. What a stupid and strange realm we reside in…

Mr. Andrew Bunney and Darryl Saunders are making low-key power moves with the British Remains brand. From their own carefully selected t-shirt fit (and Bunney is super-careful about that kind of thing) they don’t leave much to chance, but the capsule collection with Japan’s Uniform Experiment gives them a new blank to play with, and I really like the circular homage to a humdrum existence. Go check his Honeyee blog for the rest.

I’m also massively impressed with the Rap/R&B metal vest that did the Tumblr rounds this week. That Jodeci patch is the winner for me, but James Jirat Patradoon‘s twitter indicates that he (James’s work is awesome) and Aaron Kuswara have another 50 logos to go and might be selling the patches separately. Just when I thought comedy rap references were done, this comes along and knocks me sideways. It looks like a labour of love too.

If you’ve ever hungrily delved into Google looking for food information, there’s a fair chance you’ve stumbled into Serious Eats. Some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten were recommendations from this global scoped network of bloggers and affiliated sites (including the awesome Slice and A Hamburger Today). They’ve gone real world by putting out a 360+ page book this coming winter that promises to match the quality of the site. The infamous Hamburger Fatty Melt is in there, but I don’t think the Fake Shack will be.

How can Money Mayweather pop shots at the mighty Larry Merchant? I love Larry’s deliberate post-fight interview style, complete with deliberate pauses and his earlier writing that matched the mighty Gay Talese’s sports journalism. He’s the king of slow motion antagonism. But seeing an 80 year old man stepping to a 34 year old man was Worldstar gone global. Floyd needs to watch out though, because back in ’97, Merchant had put hands on a buffoon defending an enraged Wayne McCullouch fan who interrupted his Daniel Zaragosa interview. God bless the kind of people who create this nonsense.

The homie Sofarok made this montage of Drew Struzan renditions of sneakers from his posters. This deserved to go triple E-platinum and be retweeted forever, but half of the MAG-preoccupied herbs don’t know who Struzan is. Fuck you if you don’t know about Drew. Charles Morgan knows what’s up. This should be made into its own poster.

I’m freshly re-obsessed with the classic footage of Franz “the Flying Tailor” Reichelt and his idiotic death dive from the Eiffel Tower. It played like a silent movie version of ‘Faces of Death’ but Franz’s flying coat demonstration also feels like the doomed great-grandfather of the latest brace of Stone Island videos.

http://vimeo.com/25484914

Whatever your leaning, you can’t deny (think ‘Deer Hunter’) that the notion of  small towners heading to war and the aftermath makes for powerful viewing. ‘Where Soldiers Come from’ has finally hit US cinemas. The destruction of individuals always drives the point home across more than the mass body bag bombast of press coverage, and those repeat roadside bomb photos can become a little anonymous. Sometimes you need to study a microcosm to appreciate the bigger picture.

I’m re-obsessed with Clarks Wallabees at the moment. It never fails to throw me as to what was deemed a ‘moccasin’ back in the 1920s, courtesy of Padmore & Barnes (who were, of course, the masters of Wallabee manufacture back when they were made in Southern Ireland). For me, worn right, the Wallabee, Weaver and the Padmore are some of the most perfect footwear designs ever. The marketing materials were pleasantly to the point, but frequently text-heavy (my favourite kids of old ad) and keen to dismiss copyists. I always wondered as to whether they were as plagued by copyists as they were circa. 1989/1990 when “baggy” seemed to affect even the most provincial UK outposts. Before there was Ghostface, there was Gordon Monro and Walter Melvin…

R.I.P. Nathan Clark.

LA & OTHER STUFF

Once again, this blog’s looking like it’s on the Nike payroll. It isn’t. But this has been Nike’s week. I just got back from Los Angeles and the whole Nike MAG madness superseded any hype I’ve seen before. I watched people applaud a shoe on a stage — it was truly odd. Fabolous was at the MAG launch too, leaving early with a glum-face and unnecessary entourage, but the strangest image I captured is the one above. It’s a self-portrait. A self-portrait in a vast green screen room at Universal Studios, where RED cameras filmed us and projected us onto a screen, placing us in a CGI Hill Valley setting. To add to the sense of strange, I’m talking to Gee from Patta while wearing a t-shirt that’s turning transparent like Marty’s hand when he starts to disappear from time, Matt from Nicekicks and Jeff from High Snobiety are kneeling down and hastily blogging in the virtual land and ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy screenwriter Bob Gale is in the shot too (he also wrote ‘Trespass’). I don’t know who the skinny guy with the ill WhatsApp stance is though. I think that picture sums up the trip quite nicely. A while back, while preparing a piece for Complex.com, I struggled to find any imagery of Doc Brown’s Vandals. At the Montalbán I spotted them in a display case. While they were labeled as Marty’s Bruins, I’m guessing they were the Doc’s, but I was always sure that he wore cut-down yellow versions with a yellow swoosh, rather than these red ones with what looked like camo branding. Either way, they looked amazing.

And that ends me babbling about that trip, now I’ve upped this Tinker Hatfield interview. On that Nike topic, I have no idea why the nubuck-toed takes on the Air Trainer SC II were released in similar colours before these way, way better Quickstrike versions dropped. The teal is reinstated, the sail cloth detailing seems more accurate, the Velcro is fluffier and crucially, they’re made of real leather. I seem to have actually taken to buying shoes again after several years of freeloading — it’s refreshing. Literally flattening them after their first wear using a flatbed seat while business class balling was a fail though. Thankfully, leather is more forgiving than the plastic imitation and they’ve returned to life. The SC II was a good shoe to combine with the late, great George Carlin’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a singular idle moment on the trip. This was a shoe I obsessed over more than any Jordan as a kid and this is a standard that all retros should live up to — Bo still knows, yo. Even if I’m over the age to wear these without looking a little bit “special.”

Continuing that childish preoccupation, I am obsessed with the acronym-tastic ‘F.E.D.S.’ and ‘Don Diva’ magazines. As with my frequent Worldstar visits, my aim isn’t to look down at, laugh at or degrade anybody, but simply to see some things that boggle my mind. With ‘F.E.D.S.’ (Finally Every Dimension of the Streets) and its imitators like Allhood Publications, ‘A.S.I.S.’ (Artists, Streets, Info, Style), F.E.L.O.N. (From Every Level Of Neighborhoods) and ‘Don Diva’, my fascination with aspects of criminal mindsets is sated by the hefty profiles of serious offenders that make these publications hip-hop’s take on the true crime rags that are inexplicably popular with the elderly.

Typos for days (one entire ‘Don Diva’ article, written in the first-person uses lower case ‘i’s throughout to jarring effect, and “through” is repeatedly written as “threw”), pixellated low res jpeg imagery, sex advice (“Finger Popping 2.0”), questionable-looking legal features and frequent moments where the editorial staff feel the urge to denounce criminality to avoid trouble and stay on the shelf are all secondary to those features on the individuals deified as folk heroes on the mixtapes clogging up your hard drive. ‘F.E.D.S.’ and its copyists appeal to that part of your brain that will merrily watch three-hours of ‘Gangland’ or BET’s ‘American Gangster.’ I got strange looks while avidly reading these magazines in the hotel lobby, but now I’m up to speed on the Treacherous Zoe Pound and NYC and Baltimore’s outlaw dirt bike crews. Why don’t UK newsagents stock these magazines any more? I’ll take this over the label-jocking higher-profile hip-hop media. XXL hasn’t been the same since Elliott, regardless of the excess of Interscope in there during his tenure, though I’m feeling ‘Respect’s current direction. And what happened to mighty ‘Murder Dog’?

I’ve been craving some kinetic action with a spot of innovation ever since ‘I Saw the Devil’ last year but nothing’s delivered in the required volume. ‘The Horde’ came close, but ‘The Raid’ looks like a classic. This Indonesian thriller stars the awesome Iko Uwais (who starred in the sporadically fun ‘Merentau’) and his Pencak Silat martial arts skills. This time he brings it with guns and knives too. That double head shot at 1:03 in the trailer? Insane. This special thank-you recorded for North Carolina’s ActionFest is amazing too, including a head-battering shown more slickly in the redband edit. Check the official blog here. A Welshman directing Indonesian action films could be the plot for a film in itself.