Whenever I’m busy elsewhere, that’s when this blog degenerates into a load of late 1980’s or early 1990’s magazine content thefts to tide me over. This is no exception. I’ve been lost in the Thrasher archives, where covers between 1981 and 1988 seem to be accompanied by the actual content of the issue too. I took that as an opportunity to post every Stüssy ad I could. Then after stealing the images from the Thrasher.com site, I realised that the good folks of Skately.com had already done it for their tremendous ad archive, but I decided to throw them up here regardless. The Stüssy ads are something that had a huge effect on me growing up, depicting something different to the surf mag-centric ads that went before and introducing me to the brand through an aspirational existence rather than guiding my eyes towards any actual apparel. The marketing might have looked lo-fi, but it’s clear that Shawn Stüssy wasn’t just inspired by the logos of some high fashion empires, but studied the power of their marketing too. It might explain the homage to Bruce Weber – the man who defined both Ralph and Calvin’s idealised worldviews — in early 1990’s campaigns, and Juergen Teller’s involvement with the brand that decade assisted in bringing street and high fashion worlds together.
That self-assured aesthetic had me preoccupied in ‘Thrasher’s from 1987 to 1988 (the selection below ran between 1986 to 1988) when I used to get issues of that and ‘Transworld Skateboarding’ (inferior but way thicker during the skate boom) a month late for 75p in a St Neots skate shop/toy store. It didn’t matter that they were old, because it still felt progressive in my hometown. Those Metro Attitude Lows (there were a lot of adidas shoes in those shots) in the ads that I believe were shot by Shawn himself, with Ron Leighton shooting the 1986 images, felt naturalistic, whether it was some Laguna Beach looking individuals, the StüYork Tribe, with some familiar faces, or a cameo from Fishbone’s Chris Dowd. When I went to hunt it down round my way, I just found bootleg pendants alongside knockoff swoosh jewelry in a High Street store. That wasn’t even close to the magic realm those ads sold me. There’s too much in those ‘Thrasher’ back issues.
On early 1990’s trips to London I used to gaze at the mysterious Stüssy tape in stores like Bond. What was on it? Skate footage? I never had the money to pick it up and I had a concern that it might be one of those NTSC tapes that wouldn’t play on a UK player. Released in June 1992, Stüssy Vol #1 packaging promised “A Phat Phunky Loose collage of how we’re Livin’…C-Y-A” My fears about whether it would play were wrong – directed by the late, great James Lebon, it was pretty UK-centric down to the roll call of UK stockists at the end. Some are still going, while others are long gone. There’s plenty of pioneers in the building and it extended that desire to get that tribal existence into moving pictures. Profiling and posing to a Ronin records soundtrack in an assortment of hats looks appealing. Shouts to Roark74 for upping it onto YouTube.
On the mystery tape front, found footage flicks are usually an excuse for a Poundland budget and wooden attempts at acting natural. For every ‘Troll Hunter’ there’s a hundred post-‘Blair Witch Project’ trips to a murder house that’s not worth your energy. Even ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ — the daddy of them all — is barely watchable, despite being a cult favourite. Killing animals for shock factor is some low bahaviour. Still, at least that movie at least projected some doom. Lost tapes and faux haunting or exorcism documentations are a a curious phenomenon that are often much more cynical and pointless than that hated-on slew of post ‘Saw’ Achilles tendon slashers.
I’m interested in ‘V/H/S’ though, turning found footage into an anthology horror flick with a wraparound story. My love of Amicus productions, ‘Creepshow’ and ‘Grim Prairie Stories’ means I need to watch any multiple story horror, but the fact it’s helmed by young directors, including Joe Swanberg (and I have to concede that I haven’t enjoyed any of his films yet, despite their frequent sex scenes) and David Bruckner (whose ‘The Signal’ wasn’t as good as I expected it to be) gives it a contemporary point of difference. Despite my misgivings with the young directors and their earlier work, the time limitations of the anthology should minimise tedium, and I trust the critics who’ve been giving it a good buzz. Plus the promo posters (see below) were intriguing. With so much nostalgia in this blog entry it’s nice to report that one segment of the film is apparently entirely Skype conversation based and with BloodyDisgusting.com‘s Brad Miska as a producer, it’s evidently a very 21st century bunch of horror stories, despite the obsolete format it’s themed around.
I was slow with the ‘Thrasher’ archive and I was slow with the DJ History’s ‘Catch the Beat: The Best of Soul Underground 1987-91’ book. The culture of fanzine compilation is a beautiful thing — so much isn’t electronically retained and opinions then as opposed to today’s altered history as spread by nostalgia junkies like me and their second-hand smoke creates a culture of misinformation. It’s better to hear it from the paper sources for whom ad money loss wasn’t necessarily a concern. Tim Westwood in shades and the revelation that, “His favourite records are Rammel Zee, Be Bop (Sic) and Spoonie Gee, Spoonie’s Rap” is excellent, but there’s plenty more gold in those pages.