Monthly Archives: January 2012

CAB

Some things are necessary. They’re not always things that make much sense either, but Vans Caballeros made into Half Cabs BY Cab were necessary. Ever since I made good with a childhood vow to own every item of sports footwear I ever wanted in one form or another, I’ve grown to appreciate the absurdity of the situation. Hoarding shoes you’re never going to wear, with no inclination towards eBaying them is strange, but I still operate under the self-delusion that I’ll get round to it one day, despite only 40 or so pairs out of 1000+ being habitable for the feet of anybody over 30. There is an age cut-off for certain styles and it’s a damned shame, but it’s a universe closing in on itself as it reissues itself out of relevance with inferior materials and larger numbers. Once upon a time, in the UK, only a select few had the £110 and necessary stature to visit one of the nation’s sole Jordan III stockists in South London and pick up a pair. Now the Jordan III is becoming increasingly played-out and it’s a goddamn shame, because it was — until last year — my favourite shoe of all time. Indie kid sour grapes with fanboy potassium levels at work? Possibly, but a product’s near-holy aura can be dented by the evils of overkill. Remember the Dunk at the turn of the 2000’s? Remember how you didn’t want a pair when the next decade rolled around? Exactly.

For some reason, despite being readily accessible, shifting untold units and getting extensive train station advertising, the Vans Half Cab has maintained a certain hardcore appeal – it’s a product of the late 1980’s (despite the cut-down being made official in 1992), unlike its 1970’s siblings within Vans’ icon program. The others are sleek and minimal, whereas the Half Cab isn’t necessarily the most elegant design — it’s barely even a mid and it looks clunky. The homemade heritage roots are still present in production models, whether they’re inline, bulkier versions without the insole, or the sleeker, more comfortable Syndicate editions. The visvim Logan Mid and Nike SB Omar Salazar were obvious tributes, made because Hiroki and Omar are Cab fans. The man behind the shoe was a childhood hero of mine too — say what you will about Hawk’s height and and style, but Caballero had it going on. Everybody respected Cab. Even the guy’s name fired my imagination. Remember him on the November 1987 ‘Thrasher’ in the PUMA Prowlers (you can see more images of that very shoe right here)? He never seemed to wear Vans for a substantial chunk of the 1980’s, though the footage of Cab in his early teens in the ‘Skateboard Madness’ documentary shows him wearing a pair — incidentally, ‘Skateboard Madness’ in its entirety with the Phil Hartman commentary and ‘Heavy Metal’ style animated bookends, from the claymation intro to the cartoon conclusion, laden with weed and Quaalude references is actually superb.

When vert’s death rattle commenced as the decade came to an end, Caballero and McGill’s ‘Ban THIS!’ contribution felt like a dignified last gasp, and Cab sports the hi-top Caballero shoe sliced down for this custom variation there. That Steve has a spine condition should have made his success a matter of triumph over adversity, but when you skated as smooth as him, it just wasn’t an issue. That switch to street led to suicides, bankruptcy and dinosaur status, clipping the wings of those who’d been throwing stickers to baying crowds at demos year or so earlier. Gator’s “I SUCK!” cry during footage of his street skate attempts in ‘Stoked’ are just depressing. That street skating’s next generation embraced the Cab once it was made lower, assisted the Caballero legacy, but his willingness to embrace street and do an okay job of it (he mastered flip tricks nicely for ‘Scenic Drive’ ) was beneficial too. Those Powell ads that targeted indie brands meant they were doomed to suffer in the 1990’s at the hands of World Industries and their various spinoffs. It’s a shame that more didn’t keep the faith with vert, and I’ve never known whether Caballero suffered during skating’s darker days (he certainly never lapsed into any Hosoi-style misdemeanors) — he’s loyal to his sponsors and he’s got music as a side project, plus, as footage around the latest Vans release testifies, he’s still an extraordinarily fluid skater, despite the advancing years.

Everything’s cyclical though. The impending Bones Brigade documentary might tell that tale of vert’s ascent and descent, but it could also attract attention like ‘Dogtown & Z-Boys.’ That in turn could unleash a ton of documentaries on other crews of that era too. Will it fire imaginations like Jay Adams’ rockstar appearance and swift burnout did? Maybe not, but Caballero’s appearance will be substantial. Sneakers took 24 months out the spotlight in favour of a pair of Tricker’s. Sneakers started trying to look like shoes. Then Tricker’s had a Chas and Turner ‘Performance’ style metamorphosis into sneaker-style collaborative hype via their custom program and copyist retailers and brands — now people are back into sneakers again. Shoes…sub-cultures…everything has its moment in the spotlight.

I still have problems buying an object of clothing in the knowledge that I won’t ever wear it. Our notions of limited editions are skewed. When I was younger, I was fixated with comic books, until I worked with them in the back room of a comic book store at the height of Valiant/Image crossovers, hologram covers and monetary markups for metallic covers. Everybody was collecting and “limited editions” of 20,000 weren’t uncommon. Thankfully, DC’s Vertigo line dropped to deliver some hype-free content, but the whole thing imploded, and a million kids were left with worthless polybags of crap, alphabetically sorted for investment purposes. That made me wary of wilful hoarding, and it was paralleled in the sports footwear realm a few years back too.

When I heard about Steve Caballero trimming down 20 pairs of Cabs for Supreme, gaffer taping them and signing the boxes, there was no question of non-ownership. That’s a genuinely limited edition. I don’t wear sneakers with black midsoles, but they feel like a fitting tribute to a shoe that’s as important as the Jordan I to me — maybe more so. No other brand would let their star athlete tinker with a shoe like that, then shift them at retail either. As far as I’m concerned, the cut-down Half Cab is the best Year of the Dragon shoe ever. To some, it’s probably a baffling mess of a project, but seeing as I never got Caballero’s autograph at a Stevenage demo in July ’88 when my dad took me there, it feels like closure too. First Barbee and now this. Intrinsically, they’re worth a ton. The downside? Everybody else’s special projects will look tethered and weedy next to this one. And just in case I do choose to wear these Caballero creations at some point, I made sure I got my size too (thank you Jagger), because buying shoes that aren’t my size is one step too far into the abyss. And you can keep your hype on ice and jaunty coordinated caps.









While we’re talking childhood epiphanies, I also picked up this deceptively stylised poster for Jamaa Fanaka’s brutal, no-budget 1979 prison boxing flick, ‘Penitentiary’ this week. I love ‘Penitentiary,’ Penitentiary II’ and ‘Penitentiary III’ ever since I saw part II by accident when it was put in the wrong rental box. We wanted to watch ‘Jabberwocky’ (we dodged a bullet there – the box betrayed how dull and self-indulgent Gilliam’s film was), but we got fighting midgets and Mr T entering a fight dressed as a genie, carrying a smoking lamp. Our lives were changed right there, and a crusade to watch as many jail and borstal films began with that viewing. The first chapter of the trilogy is daft, but extremely gritty nonetheless. The underrated ‘Short Eyes’ (with the early Luis Guzmán appearance, minus dialogue) and the terrifying documentary ‘Scared Straight‘ are perfect supplements to Fanaka’s vision. Arrow Films’ ArrowDrome colour coded cult film subsidiary are putting out a DVD in the UK next month that contains the original ‘Penitentiary’ with a commentary by Fanaka, plus the significantly odder follow-up. Great films. Walter Hill’s underrated ‘Undisputed’ was steeped in ‘Penitentiary’ spirit, albeit with significantly glossier presentation.

40 BELOW

Abercrombie & Fitch is probably the most oppressive retail experience on the planet – Polo Ralph Lauren channelled through a provincial nightclub, with musclebound men at the door for absolutely no reason. But people love it — especially in the UK where people travel far and wide to buy overpriced collegiate tat in dim lighting at a mismatched conversion compared to the US RRP. Do people still buy it in the States? Still, at least it’s not Jack Wills or Superdry, but it still begs a question — why not just buy Polo? In fact, the A&F phenomenon evidently had Ralph shook enough that a mega budget Rugby appeared in Covent Garden recently. Still, A&F’s heritage beats any of the new wave of fictional Americana brands, and it seems that Abercrombie & Fitch stores were awesome once upon a time.

Before they sent anybody with more than 3% body fat or any person with a deformity to a stock dungeon, away from the gaze of misguided teens, and long before they made wildly racist t-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch were cited as the supplier of the shotgun that Ernest Hemingway used to kill himself in 1961 — but that was discredited many years later. What we do know is that A&F were early suppliers of Timberland’s legendary 40 Below, aka the Super Boot back in 1984. That was an era when they were owned by the mighty Oshman’s, pre-1988, and a time long when the six-packs weren’t a prerequisite.

Oh yeah — can every t-shirt line take a look at No Mas’s plastic-sleeved trading card hangtags that contain all the necessary details that go that little extra? That, my friends, is the difference between journeymen and champions.

Managing to merge two of last year’s significant rap crazes, Texan MC Pyrexx is both caucasian and carrying some serious face ink. After a low-level “Free Pyrexx” campaign he was released from jail last year and promptly got some eyebrow tattoos to rep for Houston’s ABN Gang crew. All eyes are on sweary white ladies at the moment, but I like Pyrexx’s verse on Trae’s excellent ‘Strapped Up.’ Then late last year, Trae tweeted something about him no longer representing ABN — despite having it on his face. Rap fans love rumours. I heard it was about a Yelawolf/Paul Wall diss, but that’s second-hand smoke. Face tattooing an allegiance, then being ousted from that group must be a little problematic (see also, Yung LA), but I can’t help but salute the impulsiveness of it all.

At the weekend a new Pyrexx video emerged, with those eyebrow pieces barely perceptible. Did he get them removed? And to the racist WSHH commentators, the ignorant face tattoo isn’t a black or white issue — it’s a goon thing. As cracker rap goes (what happened to Jeezy’s boy White?), I respect Pyrexx’s decision not to pull wacky faces and wear OBEY caps like most new whiteys on the scene do. On a similar note, I still need to adjust to loose French Montana affiliate B.A.R.S. Murre’s white Max B, Cam-a-like flow. It’s not happening for me after he squandered what could have been an awesome Biggavelli beat, but I liked it when he says “R.I.P. Bob Barker” even though the ‘Price is Right’ presenter’s still alive. He even wears ignorant True Religion denim like the incarcerated king of the wave.





It’s twelve years to the day since Ghostface’s ‘Supreme Clientele’ dropped. Don’t confine that game changer to old man rap status either — team A$AP appreciate the contribution that Ghost put in and it was a unifying overground/underground moment in time. Few rappers upped their game like that (though I have to salute Lloyd Banks for morphing from molasses-sounding punchline-mummy MC into a great artist) — especially considering the dude was so skilled to start with. I remember the minor two month delay after the November 1999 release date in ‘The Source’ and I remember ‘Apollo Kids’ via RealPlayer on defunct sites like Platform.net. Post ‘Immobilarity,’ not caring for Meth and Red’s ‘Blackout!’ and being utterly underwhelmed by ‘The W,’ I would have given up on the Wu entirely without the oddball masterpiece that united rap fans, musos and skaters for a minute. What became of that 50 kid he was dissing on there who’d just been dropped by Columbia? On a more serious note, what became of the brilliantly named Lord Superb after his ghostwriting for Ghost allegations? Happy birthday ‘Supreme Clientele.’ And no, I can’t get excited about a sequel…

RAY

This week was a good one. As a result, there’s no rants on here whatsoever. The highlight was meeting Ray Barbee briefly at the Vans OTW spot in Berlin. It’s not cool to fan out, but it’s a natural response if it’s somebody you looked up to as a kid. I’ve only felt the lurching out-of-body fan reaction when I’m speaking to my childhood heroes — it happened during a conversation with Big Daddy Kane a few years back, and it very nearly happened during throwaway words with Mr. Barbee. It’s that flashback during an interaction to watching something or gawping at an LP cover with a feeling of distant awe a few decades prior, then realising that you’re chatting with that near-mythical individual. In 1988 and 1989 I watched Steve Saiz, Ray Barbee, Eric Sanderson and Chet Thomas’s ‘Public Domain’ section on repeat. I even held a tape recorder up to the TV speakers to get an audio copy of McRad’s ‘Weakness.’

Barbee in ‘Public Domain’ evokes a summer of listening to Run-DMC’s underrated ‘Tougher Than Leather’ and being apprehended by local metallers who were at least six years older than me who saw my ‘Killers’ t-shirt and asked me what my favourite Iron Maiden album was — on claiming that it was ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ they said, “Fuck off! It’s got keyboards on it” and proceeded to rub crisps into my mullet hairdo. Traumatic times. I have strong evidence that one of the gang was Chris Law, formerly of Crooked Tongues, adidas Originals and now a Converse resident in Boston. I’ll have my revenge one day.

Other than the KP/hair incident, it’s a time I remember fondly, but Ray and his boys had style, flow and an aggression, fluidly merging vert and freestyle elements with something new that transformed everybody’s perception of the landscape around them as we rode like grems — barely able to ollie — while performing our best vocal impressions of the ‘Weakness’ riff. I was a terrible skater, but in my head I was in that sequence. The skating, soundtrack and black and white film was an epiphany moment for me — it never made me a pro skater, but it fueled my preoccupation with sub-cultures. My mum said that preoccupation would never get me anywhere…and she was nearly right. But it got me to Berlin to meet Ray Barbee.

Now Stacy Peralta’s ‘Bones Brigade’ has debuted at Sundance (according to Hitfix, “Bones Brigade” also features cameos from the likes of Shepard Fairey, Ben Harper and Fred Durst, whose every appearance earned loud and vocal derision from the premiere night crowd.”), I assume that I won’t be alone in this 1980’s skateboard nostalgia this year. Flicking through a book and finding a RAD magazine sticker reminds me of the stickers that preempted the quest for Supreme box logos. These things are as evocative of 1988 as Powell’s VHS effort. I’m no OBEY fan, but their ‘Who is Chuck Treece?’ video on that story behind ‘Weakness’s inclusion from 2010 was excellent, as was Slap’s Ray Barbee ‘Public Domain’ commentary. Ray Barbee seemed like a nice bloke.





Another of the week’s highlights was the news that Giorgio Moroder would score Kim Jones’ menswear show for Louis Vuitton in Paris on Thursday. My preoccupation with Moroder’s work has been made clear here many times. Donna Summer, his classic ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘Midnight Express’s soundtrack are implemented and bombers, sharp, slim tailoring and some more eccentric elements are perfectly deployed to the tempo. The shiny metallic details, PARIS belts and headwear evoke something very contemporary, with some cues from a time when McDonalds coffee stirrers were perfect for cocaine usage (I like how the long-cancelled 1970’s freebies are listed as McDonalds Coke Spoon on eBay) for those doing bumps on a budget. So we know about Giorgio’s Cizeta-Moroder supercar creation and that he was trying to put together a musical called ‘Spago’ but ended up giving the name to Wolfgang Puck for his restaurant, but there’s always time to re-up this image of him openly doing a hefty line of chop, with his yayo carrier looking on. Giorgio Moroder…legend. Salutes to Fast Fashion for upping the Louis, Kris Van Assche and Rick Owens shows. 









‘Men’s File’ magazine has such a pleasant price point and a deeper level of content than any heritage cash in, that it’s more than a fad rider — the Uncle Ralph co-sign and frequent emphasis on motorbike culture, makes it seem like something targeted at those people who like to learn the history and profiles some of the individuals who seem to pull off past looks as if they never left, rather than looking like they just wandered off one of those sepia-effect wild west family photos at a theme park. With their pop-up opening the other week on Lamb’s Conduit Street, issue six of the magazine dropped too. Their The Curator online store deals in replicas, so if you can pull off a 1950s motorcycle cap without looking like a laughing-stock, you’re probably one of the chosen few who’d end up in the pages of the magazine. The new issue has dogs, vintage garments and profiles on bare-bones custom bike build pioneer Shinya Kimura and another hero of mine, Mr. Hitoshi Tsujimoto of The Real McCoy’s.

I also enjoyed this interview at ‘A Fist in the Face of God’ with Kick and Sindre of Nekromantheon that discusses the creative benefits of drinking corpse water.

Anybody else perplexed at Quentin Tarantino’s dismissal of ‘Drive’ in the “Nice Try” category of his best and worst of 2011 lists? Is there only room for one film in the wilfully surface level car movie throwback stakes? ‘Drive’ wasn’t ‘Grindhouse’ fodder, but it could easily have slotted into a 1985 video store themed sequel.

ALL CONDITIONS PT. II (SON OF ALL CONDITIONS)

For something I assumed to be ultra-niche at this point in the 21st century, the ACG-themed post from here late last year proved pretty popular in terms of feedback. There’s evidently more All Conditions fanatics out there than meets the eye, so here’s some more visuals. I’m not entirely sure what resonates so hard with this sub-range of functional oddness — maybe it was the co-sign from climbers and Grand Puba alike, the inner-city re-appropriation that led to the Nike Boot movement targeting that consumer directly with shoes for them under the guise of ACG and the fact that this line created some of the best Nike shoes of all time, built to take on off-road challenges, meaning extra value when you broke open a beige, recycled box.

I’m currently appreciating the Meriwether and previously mentioned Air Max Prime GTX that were created under the Nike Sportswear wing – proof that there’s still mileage in hiking themed sports footwear when it’s not a case of chucking D-rings on an existing model or last to feign Viberg and Danner status. The latter Nike shoe is a Peter Fogg creation, and I’m saddened that during a recent submitted Q&A to the man, I didn’t ask at least 50 questions about the Terra range. While they’re frequently assumed to be ACG, due to their rugged looks, Fogg’s Terra Humara, Terra Ketchikan, Terra Minot and Humara weren’t ACG — I assumed this was because Terra was its own ’97 trail running division that had nothing to do with the early 1980’s Terra T/C concept, but as mentioned here before, the existence of the ACG labeled Terra Tor from 1996 ruins my theory. Unless the Tor was the point when Nike decided to make similar rugged running designs Terra rather than ACG. Bored yet? I need that mystery solved. The Terra Ketchikan is the best Nike ACG shoe that never was.

While the colours implemented across the barely christened All Conditions Gear line were strange for shoes with a swoosh, they followed the crazed-out, hi-vis makeups that outdoor wear manufacturers had been playing with for a while. In the hands of Nike designers, those wild shades and willful contrasts highlighted the best of each shoe, but the little eccentricities — the “lawnmower man” on an outsole, the jagged labeling that bellowed the name of a shoe and the excellence of women’s makeups that were just as good as the men’s variations. Those who know, appreciate these products. At its core, the collection harks back to a certain hippie idealism, where the worlds of running and a boom in backpacking carried a certain romanticism, and with those Oregonian roots, there was scope for both activities (other than the fact the two words rhyme, it explains the ‘NIKE HIKE’ sticker from the 1970’s.

The original Nike hikers pre-date the Nike ACG line by almost a decade, when the Magma, Approach and Lava Dome appeared in 1981 ads with a 1978 image of John Roskelley and Rick Ridgeway (who went on to become a vice president at Patagonia) at base camp on K2 during their dramatic 1978 expedition that made them part of a group of the first Americans to make it. Both men are wearing the LDV (the shoe formerly known as the LD-1000V) during camp time, and you can see cues from that shoe in the Lava Dome. That same runner at base camp concept seemed to be imbued in Sergio Lozano’s lower profile 1998 Pocket Knife design. I’m a big fan of the later B&W image of the amassed group too, with plenty of battered Magmas in the mix.

After the passing of Heavy D last year, I documented some of the Nike obsession that runs through his early work, but 1989’s ‘Money Earnin’ Mt. Vernon’ video is notable for him and the Boyz rocking what looks to be matching Lava Highs, plus a scene in a sports store, with stacks of red Nike boxes, vintage ads and a serious Reebok diss when the Overweight Lover openly casts a Union Jack topped box aside – the most grievous rap video brand diss since Doug E. Fresh’s Bally’s destroyed some Superstars. Lava Highs pre-date ACG, but if they dropped today, they’d be blessed with the triangle. I still can’t get enough of Tinker’s Mowabb sketches either — “Outdoor Cross Training” sums up that design nicely, but the fishy Rainbow Trout inspiration for that midsole speckle and proposed Pendleton blanket lining are interesting elements. I still can’t get enough of those advertisements either.

REASONS TO LIVE: 12 THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2012

Everything’s a preview these days. We know what’s coming out years in advance, and in the age of Instagram, everyone’s a secret agent. No idea’s original and nothing’s particularly surprising. That doesn’t stop 2012 from shaping up to be an interesting year — ignore the Mayan killjoys predicting our collective demise, because there’s some good stuff on the horizon. Here’s some stuff I’m feeling that may or may not drop this year. Usually when I attempt these things, 25% is good, 25% turns out shitty and the other 50% never happens. That Herno Laminar sub-brand, taking Herno’s old world outerwear and giving it some Errolson-aided progression, the Jordan IV black/cement/grey colourway’s return, Sarah Silverman (who I’ve loved since she played Kramer’s girlfriend) naked onscreen in ‘Take This Waltz’, and maybe, just maybe, the much-touted Neville Brody and Kez Glozier magazine project, ‘THE NEW BRITISH’ are guaranteed to instigate buzz of one kind or another, but I decided to list 12 other impending things that could be good:

1. KING LOUIE’S ‘DOPE AND SHRIMP’

Blog favourites keep on blowing up, and Chicago’s King Louie’s mix of gangsterism, sleep-deprived wooziness and sci-fi production is cold enough go huge, after 5 years of local cultdom. Man Up Band Up Remix’ is still effective and LoKey’s production is strong. His ‘Work Something’ video appeared then vanished from YouTube early this week. The ‘Dope and Shrimp’ album drops this month, and it comes out on Lawless Inc, which is co-owned by former Kanye manager John Monopoly. The cover art, as premiered on Fake Shore Drive last summer unites both shrimp and dope in an almost Daniel Johnston or Seth Putnam way, really sold the project to me.

2. ‘CROSSED: BADLANDS’

Comic books can be dull, but when some Garth Ennis is involved, ultraviolence and a certain sense of despair that he’s honed since the ‘Crisis’ days are guaranteed. This time he’s created an even bigger crisis – he first ‘Crossed’ series was a black-hearted complement to the zombie epidemic across popular media when it debuted in 2008. These infected are closer to the madness of Romero’s ‘The Crazies’ than Romero’s zombies, and they’re the kind to forcefully fornicate and bludgeon you with a human appendage rather than simply eating you alive. So is it murder porn for trenchcoated comic book guys? Not really — it occasionally offends, but Ennis is in control of an uncontrollable scenario. The follow-up series’ sans Ennis have become progressively worse, so his return for ‘Badlands’ is a welcome one. Issue #0 is fairly unremarkable, but my hopes are still high —it’s ‘The Walking Dead’ on angel dust, and while I’ve heard rumours, I doubt it can be tethered enough to become a TV series or film. The French method of promoting ‘Crossed’ is particularly impressive. I don’t think they’d get away with that in the UK.

3. T-SHIRT PARTY’S RETURN

The original T-Shirt Party was fun, with Stan Still dropping 52 shirts with accompanying videos over one year. I never thought he’d make the final stretch, but he did it. Mine shrunk fast, so I need more. Thankfully, in an act of masochism, he’s starting the project up again after a year out. There was something very British about the project, without resorting to the obvious, despite little diversions like the excellent Lisa Bonet design. Those raised on an era of yoof TV know what time it is. The last one started around February/March 2009, but I’m not 100% sure if it’s 52 designs again. I hope it is. And I hope there’s a Chris Eubank design in the mix this time.

4. CAROL CHRISTIAN POE DOES SHOE FITTINGS WITH A HAMMER

I like the madness of Carol Christian Poe’s Poell’s designs for men and women. Alas, I could never wear any of it, but for utter innovation, he can’t be stopped. Luxury fabrics, a you’ll-get-it-when-you-get-it approach to fashion in a seasonally regimented world and more ideas in a single garment than anyone else makes C.C.P. creations something special. At its most accessible, it’s like H.R. Giger meets Massimo Osti and this cryptic little video that appeared on the Carol Christian Poe Poell website with a wedge heeled shoe that fits by being beaten with a hammer is some brutalist elegance — I hope it catches on and we have to beat the shit out of our footwear before we can leave the house in it. Custom high-end violence.

5. MOVIES WITH SOME 1970’S GRIT?

I know very little about ‘Drift’ or ‘Duke,’ but I know that the former — a true story of Jimmy and Andy Fisher becoming surf entrepreneurs in Australia circa. 1972 and getting mixed up with bikies and drug dealers and the latter — with two dysfunctional brothers cleaning up the streets with one pretending to be John Wayne and the other pretending to be a cop, sound like the kind of 1970’s films I’d fixate over as a kid. Surf action? Morally ambiguous vigilante heroes? At least the concepts are intriguing. ‘Drift’s marketing materials are significantly shittier in appearance than ‘Duke’s, but it’ll be interesting to see a trailer for either film some time soon.

6. MORE ‘THRASHER’

As a kid I had ‘Thrasher’ covers coating the wall, and now that the magazine’s 30 year anniversary is up, the ‘Thrasher: Maximum Rad: the Iconic Covers of Thrasher’ book on Universe that’s set for a February release gathers them all and adds anecdotes and information about each image. There’s been a few ‘Thrasher’ books before, but every cover in one place is an appealing proposition. A fair proportion of those images remain mind-boggling, and the amount of bones broken in imitating as part of the quest to get a cover one day must be in the billions. John Gibson’s May 1985 pipe cover stays amazing.

7. LIGHT UP NIKE RUNNERS?

Trawling the patents, there’s a technology logged that I haven’t seen in action yet. As a kid I sketched weird light-up shoes in the back of exercise books, but the reality of the situation was those atrocious L.A. Gear Lights for kids. So I put that one on the backburner, because shoes that illuminate was more liable to look like the rope lights on the DJ booth at a relative’s wedding reception than something even remotely futuristic. Seeing the Air MAG with its charged lighting had me pondering as to whether a design for night running could carry a more subtle sense of illumination. “Article of Footwear Incorporating Illuminable Strands” is some sci-fi sounding footwear that seems to keep the light-up stuff looking Flywire-esque on those illustrations. And I don’t even know how a “Fluid-Filled Bladder for Footwear & Other Applications” works, but I’m into it. Will they ever come out? I have no idea.

8. MORE COURTNEY LOVE YOUTUBE COMMENTS

Courtney Love is good for soundbites, but she’s especially good on a name dropping spree as shellylovelace on YouTube. I only clocked the quoted comment here, which somehow links Courtney, Martha Stewart, Jodorowsky and Yoko Ono while looking for images of Phil Spector’s khaki shirt, studded wristband, sunglasses and presumably, a concealed firearm outfit in the studio with John Lennon. Watching John and Yoko on the Dick Cavett show from a link on the Featured Videos section, I came across this mini-anecdotal gem. I think there’s probably more to come, and the most recent made unfavourable comparisons between Nickelback’s lead singer and Dave Grohl. Courtney and the internet is a winning combination.

9. STONE ISLAND’S 30th ANNIVERSARY

Some brands are so progressive that even when they’re being retrospective, they’re still far ahead of the rest. It’s Stone Island’s 30th birthday this year and hopefully that means anniversary releases old and new, plus that rumoured book project. Some brand book projects are a crushing letdown on their release, stylised, but offering little new information or the product archive listings that the geeks want. Stone Island could put out something on the ‘DPM – Disruptive Pattern Material’ level that fellow obsessive Hardy Blechman created. Hopefully they will. Let’s hope the presentation is as innovative as the content.

10. CRITERION DOES HOLLIS FRAMPTON JUSTICE

Hollis Frampton, deep thinker, photographer, digital experimenter and filmmaker always struck me as a solemn kind of chap, but I’ve always found his work abstract but fairly accessible. While his work could easily have fallen into the frivolous pitfalls that make so many artists slip into self-parody, his work seems stuctured with reasonings that, in the mind of Frampton, seem utterly reasonable. And he was eloquent enough to make me feel dumb for dismissing a lemon artfully shot in the shadows. The slow burning of (nostalgia) is oddly engrossing and I love the ‘Screening Room’ footage with him (“Without wanting at least to sound pretentious…”) chatting very, very seriously at a time when people could smoke in television studios. Criterion have compiled and restored his body of work into high-definition digital, and are putting it out in April.

11. THE RETURN OF MASS APPEAL

Having spent a substantial amount of my life hunting down issues of ‘Mass Appeal’ from Tower Records (R.I.P.) during London, Edinburgh and Birmingham trips, and it being one of the few graf publications that warranted more than a cursory read for a toy like me, I was sad to see it disappear in 2008, after becoming increasingly elusive, but still being extremely readable (one of the last issues I read had a good piece on the Decepticons and another fine R.A. the Rugged Man movie feature). Before the ailing days and before publisher Patrick Elasik tragically passed, ‘Mass Appeal’ was my pre-blog information carrier, and offered some of the best cover design of any magazine. The homie Russ Bengston’s shoe column was excellent too. Four years on, the website indicates it’s coming back. Good. There’s unfinished business to attend to and room in the market for ‘Mass Appeal’ to step back into the arena.

12. ADAPTIVE CAMO

I’m not a man of science by any means, but reading this month’s ‘Popular Science’ there was some mind-boggling talk about camouflage that can be customised to your surroundings, with the material containing a display that can be made to adjust to your location for accurate concealment, as well as thermal and radar suppression capabilities for some state-of-the-art sneaking. That sounds like ‘Predator’ in real-life, right?

Special Operation Apps are already developing applications, like CamoScience that can work with site-specific Photographic Camouflage. According to the blurb, the CamoScience app “uses augmented reality to test and create images in real time in the field.” Snap your locale on your iPhone and make it a “wallpaper” on what you’re wearing, or the vehicle you’re in? That sounds outlandish, but K. Dominic Cincotti’s patent contains a diagram of a six-layer “Multispectral Adaptive” technology that looks complicated. This, and quick change deception camo concepts make those battle pattern jackets in your wardrobe look pedestrian.

ON THE BUSES

I’m on holiday, so I’m taking a holiday from even attempting to make anything in this blog entry particularly cohesive. I forgot it was Wednesday, so I’m just chucking the contents of the tabs on Chrome and what’s in my Gmail up here — I hope it’s sufficient. Anyway, you shouldn’t even be here — you should be on Egotripland reading this piece on the making of the ‘Lil’ Ghetto Boy’ video.

One of the most interesting things I’m currently looking at is Will Robson-Scott (the man behind the lens on ‘Crack & Shine’ 1 and 2) and James Pearson-Howes’s ‘Top Deck’ project with Mother and London clothing brand Utile (all London everything) of images shot from the top deck of London buses. Having spent more hours than I’d liked to have spent gawping from double deckers down at London, the traffic choked leisurely pace has given me some interesting perspectives of the city and the behaviour of those who dwell in it. It’s a shame that I’m usually too irate to appreciate them, but Will and James’s images should resonate with any of us who aren’t stupid or rich enough to attempt to navigate it by car.

Launching as an exhibition downstairs at Mother (Leonard Street) on Thursday and being printed and collated in a newspaper format, ‘Top Deck’ celebrates a ubiquitous but oft-squandered view. Two years of dreary journeys documented is proof that we take our surroundings for granted and if I didn’t only use buses over the underground in a hapless attempt to save time, meaning I’m too agitated to relax and just absorb the overhead view. At least the Routemaster (and the new reworking of it) offers more scope to get lost in a flight of fantasy than the curious tension — of wild-eyed fidgeting loners, screwfacing women having to stand with a pushchair and sweating fare dodgers — that’s present on each and every bendy bus. Go grab the publication here or attend the exhibition and grab it while you’re there, but make sure to check out the tie-in Tumblr.

What could be more British than staring from a bus? How about a mug made to commemorate a UK hip-hop favourite? Like a ‘Fat Lace’ joke made physical, the ‘Serve Tea Then Murder’ mug from Style Warrior sees the makers of tie-in Brit rap merchandise with the nod from the referenced artists and labels shift from cotton to glazed ceramics. It started as forum banter, but now Style Warrior is taking pre-orders on them. Brilliantly at odds with the po-faced, harder than hardcore content of the record, the 1991 Music of Life release provides the no-nonsense imagery and lettering here. Consume enough caffeine from it and you too can be a No Sleep Nigel. While plenty of Britcore releases leave me a little cold in 2012, creations like this hot drink receptacle remind me of the kind of mad merchandise I’ve seen in Tokyo hip-hop outlets over the years.

In fact, the quest for the Sophnet Nike ACG Mt. Fuji jacket from ’07 in an XL led me to hero and all-round nice guy, DJ Muro’s King Inc. site and its Diggermart pages again. But I’ve blogged about them a couple of times before. What caught my eye was the bizarre key charm from Lil ‘ Limo in association with Muro and for Warp Magazine’s birthday last year. ‘Sesame Street’s Elmo in multiple colours with a ‘King of Diggin’ tape and 45 attached? Why the fuck not? Only in Tokyo could something like this exist, yet it sits alongside the Elmo that Raekwon cradled for Supreme, or Agallah’s ‘Crookie Monster’ as a strange piece of Jim Henson hip-hop tie-in. Anyone else remember the official Cookie Monster DJ Muro sweat with the crazed creature munching on vinyl. Nobody got quite as sick with the hip-hop imports as Japan did, and I’m preoccupied with the footage — from the ‘Wild Style’ tour to that eye opening 1994 Yo! episode where Fab 5 Freddy returned and did his awkward language barrier thing to look at amazing record stores, and beyond.



While we’re talking YouTube videos, every Onyx video between 1992 and 2002 is on there as a compilation in cleaned-up quality, plus the Bad Brains CBGB show from Christmas Eve, 1982 in better quality than the hundredth generation VHS look of most hardcore show documents from that era.



And for the sake of it, here’s a Shawn Stüssy interview from ‘Spin’s December 1991 issue. It’s not the most enlightening feature, but it was available and this blog entry’s lacking, so I upped it.

BAWSE

Rick Ross might have shut down the internet for a few minutes on Friday, but Springsteen is still the true Bawse. Still, the prospect of a live E Street Band without Clarence is a troubling one. ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Jungleland’ won’t be the same without Clarence Clemons and judging by the laborious process to even find out if tickets for Springsteen’s London shows are still available, it looks like Ticketmaster won the war when it came to paying to see him, but Bruce still maintains a certain magnetism. He’s not the greatest dresser — misguided souls might believe it was jingoistic excess, but ‘Born in the USA’ wasn’t a regrettable phase musically, but that leather, denim and headband hasn’t held up well — and nor is he the worst, but the construct of the Bruuuuuuuce mythos means the outfit must come second to the sound to represent that absolute dedication to the craft (that doesn’t apply to the rest of the band, who wore some wild suits in their day).

That utilitarian approach to dress meant that Bruce managed to dodge some of the most regrettable looks of the 1970’s, but also put together some excellent outfits — the jacket and white v-neck tee (swooping, but not to the point of 2012 man-cleavage douchery or Givenchy chest bearing) on ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ in 1978, the wooly hat and rolled up denim shirt from the sceptic smashing Hammersmith show in 1975 and the early Columbia press shots are my favourites. 1973 was a good year for my heroes and their garments, including Marvin Gaye’s double denim (yeah, the trousers might have been flared, but he still pulls them off — Bruce’s Hammersmith Odeon slacks were a little voluminous too) and red wool beanie from Jim Britt’s ‘Let’s Get it On’ session shots make for the coolest looking Marvin in his career, but while Gaye was in the process of redefinition, Peter Cunningham’s images of Springsteen around the release of ‘Greetings from Astbury Park N.J.’ in February 1973, in full interview conversation mode are the most effortless Springsteen outfit — beard, grey hoody, flannel shirt and denim. A no bullshit uniform from a time that taste occasionally forgot.

The sound matured from word-cramming opuses and the decades-old throwback romanticism, but Springsteen emerged cool. Not everybody could go balls-out like Bowie when it came to attire in 1973 and pull off teal tailoring or a pirate eyepatch and hoop earring combo. Still, they ended up meeting in 1974, and Bowie covered ‘Growin’ Up’ during the ‘Diamond Dogs’ sessions and ‘It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City’ (with a coked-up soulful excellence), both from Springsteen’s debut. An image from John Kalodner captures the meeting of a megastar and a man on the edge of stardom with two very different dress senses.

Looking for some inspiration for something I haven’t made yet, I revisited Hype Williams’s troubled ‘Belly’ from 1998. Now the film’s fondly remembered after some negative reactions, but while the bulk is style over substance (not necessarily a bad thing, hence my love of Tony Scott’s ‘The Hunger’ with a vampiric Bowie and a lesbian scene with Susan Sarandon that blew my pre-pubescent mind), the byproduct is still stunning. DMX can almost act, Nas can’t, but the film still captures that excess of the era perfectly. In fact, that film lacked a certain substance but reveled in excess makes it as much of an embodiment of hip-hop in 1998 as ‘Wild Style’ was of a rough and ready (and still sketchy) scene in 1982. The opening titles are still some of my all time favourites — the gooned-out masks in ultraviolet lights, the way the beat drops, silenced gunshots and the movement within the BELLY letters are all still on point, with Hype’s techniques still trickling down to WSHH premiered promos of mixtape tracks.

Hype Williams was 29 when he made ‘Belly’, having evolved from bad graf on the walls for ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’ in 1991 to his first video, ‘Two Minute Brother’ for BWP aka Bytches With Problems (he also directed ‘Come Baby Come’ for the equally forgotten K7) and then changing the look of an entire culture half a decade later from working with female acts with acronyms as group names. Seeing as Hype was inspired by Gaspar Noé’s ‘Enter the Void’ for ‘All of the Lights’, I expected big things from a ‘Belly’ follow-up when it eventually happened, but his plans to direct a film from a Joe Eszterhas screenplay called ‘Lust’ was unexpected. Both Hype and Joe have pretty much been off the Hollywood radar since the late 1990’s, and yes,because Eszterhas is involved, it’s an erotic thriller. I’m interested to see how the film turns out if it’s ever made.



David Fincher’s translation from music video man to film director might have had a ‘Belly style production ordeal with ‘Alien³’ but he came of age, and just when it looked like he was going to be the stylish film with a big reveal guy, he drops ‘Zodiac’ and ‘The Social Network’ on us. What’s consistent in his films is a focus on typography, motion graphics and the art of the opening title — Kyle Cooper’s ‘Se7en’ work (complete with Bowie’s ‘The Hearts Filthy Lesson’ over the end titles if we’re going to tenuously try to link these entries with a Bowie birthday theme), Picture Mill’s ‘Panic Room’ sequence and P. Scott Makela’s ‘Fight Club’ design are all memorable. ‘The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo’ doesn’t match those highs, but it works well as a slippery, gothier, bleak take on Bond opening credits, but like ‘Se7en’s opening, Trent Reznor’s work suits the mood. There’s a good breakdown of how the film’s opening titles were developed here, talking to Blur Studio’s Tim Miller who directed it. Salutes to masterful motion graphics dude Onur Senturk too. The sequence looks like the commercial for the Hewlett-Packard peripheral from hell, with Rick Owens on creative direction, but somehow that suits the movie.



I’m late to the party on this video interview with Stüssy Triber Lono Brazil, who also uploaded some footage of the International Stüssy Tribe 1st Annual Tribal Meeting in Tokyo from 1991. It’s worth a watch. Because I just used to gawp at the VHS cassette in clothing stores back in the day without every buying it, I’m not sure if it was on the old Stüssy tape back in 1992.