This is part of an irregular series wherein pretend I haven’t thought of anything new to write about by writing about the last documentary I watched and tenuously trying to link it to a current pop culture phenomenon to give is a semblance of relevance. But there is a little more to my fandom of 1982’s ‘The Killing of America’ than that. Firstly, if the lurid warning above doesn’t set alarm bells off, and you’re of a sensitive/normal disposition, don’t watch this documentary — that’s as close to a NSFW warning as you’ll get from me. I’ve long been fascinated with the mondo strain of extreme documented cinema, but I’m repelled by the frequent violence against animals in them (Victor Schonfeld’s ‘The Animals Film’ is a much better use of that kind of footage) in the infamous ‘Faces of Death’ and earlier Antonio Climati/Mario Morra productions like ‘Ultime Grida Dalla Savana.’ While the genre is often without merit, I still think that the “cargo cult” scene at the end of 1962’s ‘Mondo Cane’ (partly soundtracked by Riz Ortolani, whose work was on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack) is an affecting piece of footage. Laugh it up, but I’d sooner worship that crude plane reproduction than the stuff you’re deifying on your Pinterest boards.
As a child, I was obsessed by the idea of ‘Faces of Death’ — at school, a fellow pupil claimed to have seen it, and described a scene where an ill-fated parachutist drops into a crocodile enclosure at a zoo. It’s worth noting that with maturity, I have less inclination to view this strain of exploitation, but I would love to see that scene. It turns out that my classmate was just a liar. The majority of ‘Faces of Death’s human atrocity is hoax footage, and even the memorable “death” of Pit Dernitz, the tourist eaten by lions on exiting his vehicle was fake, albeit a fake convincing enough to move Gerhard Richter into immortalising the incident in 1990’s ‘Tourist (with 2 Lions)’ painting. These were the days when incidents like a death on a Noel Edmonds show were discussed among peers, but never televised, and the cult of amateur footage had yet to grow into something bigger and murkier.
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My entire childhood was eroded by occasional exposure to Australian cinema like ‘Long Weekend’ and ‘Patrick,’ but even beyond those intentional attempts to chill the viewer, even TV shows like ‘The Sullivans’ every weekday lunchtime would bring me down with that curiously Antipode breed of budget, overcast televisual misery, despite the country’s oft-glorious weather. The UK and Canada can create grim films, but Australia seemed to master it. Even when they’re not trying to bring me down, their film and television output has a drabness that’s tough to beat.
So when they’re trying to make something deliberately depressing, they deliver. Having just finished watching ‘Snowtown,’ based on the squalid mid-late 1990’s case of inter-community serial slaughter by a group led by John Bunting, I’ve not seen such a sobering depiction of psychosis in many years, and I’ve seen pretty much every downbeat, brutal movie ever. Australia triumphs in the matey psycho, who’ll cook you breakfast, ask how you’re feeling, then pressure you into slaying a household pet. Every minute of ‘Snowtown’ is sheer doom, where everybody’s a potential deviant, but some are willing to deviate beyond all comprehension. Daniel Henshall’s turn as John is a perfect performance, with no theatrical twitches and stares — just a conscious evil and unnerving charisma that amasses accomplices. Nobody explains why he does what he does (something that even the equally bleak ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ offered the viewer), and the musical cues crank up the troubling atmosphere.
The prolonged strangulation scene is still embedded in my psyche, yet for all the monstrous behaviour and miserable shack-like cluster of outer-Adelaide residences that make up the film’s backdrop, the cinematography’s beautiful, giving the inhumanity on display an eloquence of its own. As a carefully crafted character study, it’s notable that Bunting still remains an enigma – offering no answers channels the essence of the case. The best killer films aren’t about carefully laid traps, ‘CSI’ style apprehension and transparent motive. They simply remain queasily ambiguous. ‘Snowtown’ is a solid accompaniment to 1998’s profile of murderous behaviour and alpha males, ‘The Boys,’ another Australian film based on a significant true crime (the John Travers gang and the Anita Cobby case) that’s still a cause of outrage. I recommend ‘The Boys’ for a feel bad viewing session that pre-empts incarceration with classic Australian prison films like ‘Ghosts of the Civil Dead,’ ‘Everynight…Everynight’ and ‘Stir.’ Just make sure that you’ve got the ‘Seinfeld’ box set on deck to restore your sanity afterwards.
If those films aren’t enough to erode your sanity, 1983’s ‘Angst’ is the greatest portrayal of murderous insanity ever made. 1979’s ‘Vengeance is Mine’ is a strong portrayal of a remorseless maniac, Japan-style, but Gerald Kargl’s Austrian vision is mind-boggling yet, due to distribution issues, often unseen. You’ll get no fuel to unleash the ‘LOL’s or smiley faces on social media in Kargl’s film, but what you get is a film that’s two decades ahead of its time from a technical standpoint. The antithesis of documentary style filming, ‘Angst’ is a dizzying box of tricks, soundtracked by Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze in a synthesised style that makes it doubly unsettling. Based on the Werner Kniesek case (and from accounts, it seems fairly faithful), it’s about the pure pleasure of killing, and no ‘Saw’ or straight to DVD ‘Hostel’ sequel can maintain that sense of terror. Erwin Leder’s eyes alone beat any special effect, but that sweaty intensity and primal but inept killing techniques, twinned with the innovative, nightmarish set pieces, make it a lost classic.
It’s odd that Kargl’s IMDB profile ends with this film, but director of photography, co-writer and editor Zbigniew Rybczynski went on to pioneer HD techniques. If you’re a Gasper Noé fan, ‘Angst’s hyperactive camera and use of sonics will help you understand how his style was developed — this is one of his personal favourites. While there’s barely any dialogue to accompany the plot, the killer’s narration needs subtitles, and sadly, Barrel Entertainment, who promised a DVD for half a decade, went bankrupt a year or so ago. Not a pleasant experience, but a necessary one for fans of cinema. Just don’t come crying to me with tales of subsequent trauma. ‘Snowtown,’ ‘The Boys’ and ‘Angst’ — a perfect trinity of murderous misery.
On a lighter, very different, note, I’ve been trying to hunt the mysterious Boyz II Men Jordan XI and tux award show moment, but I can’t find it. Was it a gig? Why is there no video footage? Maybe it’s an apocryphal thing, but I’m certain that I saw a shot once. What I did find in my hunt was a picture of the Boyz in matching white suits and 2000 white/chrome Jordan IVs at a BET bash in May of that year. It’s hard to get hyped on any celebrity wearing retro Jordans (though the internet says differently), but I say that the cutoff is the stray black/cement IIIs on the cover of ‘The Blueprint’ in 2001.
The UK is killing it at the moment. Most football related attempts to be down crumble because, unless you’re a visiting rapper, there’s not much that’s cool about wearing a football shirt and beyond all the fancy stuff, Umbro’s never been a cool brand — it’s a utilitarian one that was affordable without fear of a playground beat down (unless you wore Umbro trainers, then you deserved what you got). But the hard-wearing twill of the drill top was the budget wear of choice in and outside of my school. I’m glad that team Palace have acknowledged that in their Umbro and Palace collaboration that includes a trill looking drill top that brings back that appeal. I like the idea of a Trill Top.
On a Palace affiliated note, Slam City Skates releases the ‘City of Rats’ DVD next week and you need it in your life, because, unlike the days of skate VHS bare-bones, there’s an abundance of extras too. It’s still mind-boggling that this is the first ever full-length Slam City skate video, but it’s okay, because it only took them 25 years to get it sorted. Big.
Graffiti magazines are a different breed nowadays compared to the things I’d overspend on at Tower Records or the ‘zines I’d send an SAE off for only to get nothing in return (maybe they thought I was “the man” or maybe they were just lazy), but truly iconic publications have been few and far between. That’s because graf kids make the ‘Maximum Rocknroll’ readership sound level-headed by comparison, and one man’s masterpiece is another twenty people’s “sellout shit.” The internet was pretty much made for the art form, with internet fame being as fleeting as moving trains, and ‘Crack & Shine’ and ‘Also Known As’ gave destruction a certain gloss that set a new precedent. I’m looking forward to seeing the paper spinoff of Hurtyoubad, ‘Hurtyoubad Journal’ which has been in development for a while promising, “A graffiti publication with no graffiti.” This will be the cause of much anonymous commenting and hipster allegations, but will be an excellent read. And seeing as it’s coming via Topsafe, it should look pretty too.
The Diggers With Gratitude team are holding it down for that peculiarly British breed of rap nerdery (and there’s plenty of crossover between our love of skate and rap, with more experts per person in those topics than many other nations) with their issues of lost tracks by the kind of characters you may have briefly checked for in their day but promptly forgotten. For the DWG team, that enthusiasm never died. To paraphrase Ice-T from ‘Colors’ — it just multiplied. Now they’ve gone and put out Latee of the Flavor Unit’s unreleased 1992/3 recordings on the ‘Who Rips the Sound?’ EP. But now they’ve all sold out, so you’re going to have to hope for a second volume of their reissue work compiled on a CD at some point in the near future.
And if that mix of plugging, serial killer films, skate stuff and Boyz II Men wasn’t an odd enough mix for you, here’s an interview I did for my buddies at Sneakersnstuff about Stockholm and Baltimore’s sports footwear scenes.
And shouts to ‘i-D’ magazine, Kate Moss and Alisdair McLennan for this:
If in doubt, just pillage a magazine archive for ads. I like to ramble on about morphine-addled authors and the like, but it goes quadruple balsa in terms of visits (still, all of you who read that stuff are quadruply appreciated), so every now and again it’s good to conform to typecasting and up some old Polo stuff. Anyway, if you haven’t already been to Oi Polloi and checked out ‘Pica~Post’ No. 3, I feel bad for you. And if you’re a rival retailer, I quadruple dare you to beat that photo shoot of people bearing fish. Today I mentioned somewhere that 2Pac in the Karl Kani ads beats pretty much all photoshoots bar the Staple X book and Chimp’s canine cap project, but that one’s a winner too. The Andy Votel piece in there about a collector mentality and the birth of Oi Polloi (plus steel-toed adidas Shelltoe obscurities) is also excellent. I wish I could answer his decade-old film query. I’ve got one of my own — a late 1970’s/early 1980’s sci-fi horror that involved a paralysed man with a robot assistant that turned bad. It involved a decapitated head in a washing machine and no, it’s not ‘Demon Seed.’ If you know the answer it’ll be rewarded. I managed to solve the mystery of what the film was where a man went down a mystery hole to hell and went insane (‘Encounter With the Unknown’) or the film where a boy with an aging disease was cast as an alien (The Aurora Encounter’) but this is the only film from my childhood that I just can’t name. Anyway, on the northerners who know their stuff front, ‘The Rig Out’ No. 5 launches tomorrow. A good time for paper coverage of clobber. I wish I could use the term “madhead” in conversation, but as a southerner, it doesn’t work. Anyway, go check those things out. To pad out this blog entry, here’s a slew of Polo ads from between 1979 and 1986, taken from ‘Texas Monthly.’ That big money region was evidently a Polo hotbed. There’s some repeats between this and the ‘Ralph Lauren’ book, plus the handful of Polo-centric Tumblrs, but that illustrated ad above, depicting the Lauren life an overblown cinematic style is amazing and warranted inclusion here. And is there much call for wild knitwear in Texas?
“I’m not anticipating any trouble, because I don’t like violence.”
William H. Burroughs
Something I’m working on led me back to Burroughs. You’re pretty much obliged to bow down to the beats and it’s understandable, but I’ve picked up plenty of tat in my quest for enlightenment. To be honest, ‘On the Road’ didn’t ignite an epiphany in me — I was more impressed by Kerouac’s ‘Doctor Sax,’ (written while Jack was living with William Burroughs), and Ginsberg’s NAMBLA support to prove a point left me perplexed. Maybe I need to reinvestigate Allen’s intent there. But Burroughs is the one whose work felt — and still feels — truly dangerous. Nearly every piece of the man’s work has a clinical oddness that’s somehow at odds with the sometimes squalid imagery in his head. He put impurity down with his own opiate-bred brand of twisting narrative that never felt contrived despite his celebrity status — in-demand from those seeking the seated figure with the memorably nightmarish voice and embalmed appearance. Even when he was being photographed for GAP and promoting Nike’s Max2 line, that creepiness remained. It was a perfectly tailored breed of hardcore, with a sedateness that betrayed what those eyes had seen, with no skull rings or posturing necessary. I’ve had to retreat from certain texts like, ‘The Ticket That Exploded’ (my mind wasn’t ready for that cut-up technique), but his love letter to the feline race, ‘The Cat Inside,’ was a revelation, exposing another aspect of a complex soul, evolving until the very end. Was he always so deadpan, or was it the drugs? Did that experimentation create the face that’s as hard to read as the prose?
When I’m watching footage of Burroughs or reading his work, as well as pondering just how high drinking nutmeg and water will make you, I’m looking for those glimmers of humanity, rather than the UFOs, viruses, governmental weirdness, extreme shape shifts and poisoned blood perversities, all the while bearing in mind that he shot his wife in the head once. In between all the dispatches from the dark side, there’s a joy in trying to decipher where his mind is at. With ‘Rub Out the Words’ — a compilation of his written letters during his ‘golden era’ — recently published (and worth your time, his near-constant financial issues explain that willingness to participate in so much during the 1980’s and 1990’s), and Burroughs’ shotgun art of 1986/87 going on display at Uruguay’s Bohemian Gallery & Museum of Contemporary Art, there’s always room for a retrospective. Blasting cans of spray paint in front of canvases with a firearm feels irresponsible, given the man’s relationship with bullets, but it’s an authentic representation of where his head was probably at. Had Burroughs had a knack for illustration, his canvases and sketchbooks might have been an even clearer depiction of his dreams. From recollections from fellow Harvard students that William was fond of firearms, to that day in 1951, to the end, where he’d entertain/scare visitors by producing a sword from his cane (as recollected in ‘Last Words’), weaponry was a significant accessory in the Burroughs mythos. That fetish gets a memorable outing towards the end of ‘Burroughs.’
Howard Brookner’s ‘Burroughs,’ filmed between 1980 and 1983, is a superior documentary that — like the Omnibus ‘Cracked Actor’ documentary — was a BBC production for the Arena strand with Alan Yentob heavily arrived that deserves a DVD release, quietly capturing the complicated subject at a significant point in their career. It’s one of my favourite documentaries, making good use of his readings (and I recommend the UbuWeb sound archives for a thorough collection of Burroughs audio, from him reading ‘Junky’ in its entirety to dubs of cassettes made with Genesis P-Orridge) and including some memorable moments — rare footage of William and his tortured, tragic son Billy at the table (Billy died in 1981, during filming) that’s interspersed with some unflattering remarks from James Grauerholz, William visiting the home of his old gardener and leaving him visibly moved with his surprisingly lucid recollections of the man’s deceased son, a visit to see Lucian Freud, a moment of mirth around his improvised ‘Danny Boy’ lyrics and quite a few weapons — on showing off a telescopic baton, he animatedly describes a telescopic blade to slash somebody’s throat “…right in the middle of a sentence” and shows off a massive knife and fires off a blow dart too. Then there’s his terrifying looking ‘Bunker’ that’s a disused YMCA locker room, where he discusses a paranormal visitor as if it’s simply a matter-of-fact. It’s a compelling watch and Jim Jarmusch was recruited for sound duties (Howard Brookner was gaffer on ‘Permanent Vacation’). Brookner’s passing at age 34 robbed the world of plenty more equally strong portraits.
Somebody has kindly upped the whole documentary on YouTube, but there’s also a full upload of 1984’s ‘Decoder’ there too. ‘Decoder’ couldn’t feel much more 1980’s, but with the real Christianne F (Christiane Felscherinow) as a love interest and Burroughs in some unsettling dream sequences, it’s worth 88 minutes of your existence if you’re my way inclined.
People still get injured over sports footwear and it’s a baffling thing. As somebody who kind of works in footwear retail, to see rows of tents outside stores is a shock…after all, everybody was in Tricker’s about seven minutes ago, and it’s doubly odd to hear that “sneakers are dead” from people who might want to look out the window once in a while. Tents, riots, newspaper headlines…probably not the sign that anything’s on the wane. And the reseller’s the bogeyman again like he was with Dunks circa 2004. In caveman times those who missed out on getting sticks after the fire hype went viral on cave walls, because of their inter-tribe popularity probably declared fire to be “over” or the stick game to be “played out.” If you want to sleep rough for a few days to get something, do your thing and stay safe — I salute that level of dedication. I hope the contents of the box lives up to those sleep deprived expectations.
But people assaulting or killing for footwear might not be anything new — in fact it’s the darkest retro of our ’90’s preoccupation — but imagine spending decades behind bars over shoes. There must still be folks in jail who murdered kids over 8-ball jacket envy in 1990 — it must be odd to tell a new cellmate that. It’s hardly a crime of passion, rather a crime of fly-by-night fashion. And when the 8-ball killer is released in 2015, with a Mystikal-like lack of internet knowledge, it might be an ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’ Antonio Fargas moment, or, at the current trajectory, as he emerges in his Starter hat, Champion sweat and Air Flights, the killer emerges penitentiary “on trend” looking like he’s a kid with a premature ageing condition. People need trend forecasting before they kill for clothing.
However, if I did have to slay another human being for a jacket, it would probably be for something akin to a Ten C one. On first electronic impressions it’s all drab olives, but having seen Mr. Gary Aspden’s Ten C coat in the flesh and felt the Japanese-made mix of 60% polyester and 40% nylon mix that makes up the shell and is clearly built to last, I was sold. One for the wishlist and a good compromise between innovation and stuck-in-the-mud icons from former Stoners Paul Harvey and Alessandro Pungetti. Shouts to Gary for the intro to that line. Anything built to last a lifetime is still going to end up accompanied by 100+ more pieces that are “the only” ones you’ll ever need, leaving you with a wardrobe of expensive immortals. The website (www.ten-c.it) copy doesn’t match the garment quality, but each piece of Harvey’s audio introduction to them is well worth paying attention to.
On that subject, what became of the Paul Harvey archive? Tantalising images of a progressive pile of technical jackets, shoes and fabrics went online in 2008 so I assume the warehouse’s contents went to a good home. You can’t tell Paul anything about fabrics, fit or construction, so that he stripped it down to necessities for the new project is interesting — superfluous aspects can be a life or death issue in military gear, so the lack of becomes an innovation in itself. On the Stone Island subject, the 30th anniversary book of jacket porn that was hinted at in the new year is apparently only available as part of a package with a 30th anniversary jacket reproduction according to Stone Island’s replies beneath a YouTube video of Carlo Rivetti talking outerwear from last month.
Paul Harvey’s archive was considerable, but there’s other admirable feats of information fanaticism out there too — few can collect like James Hyman has done. As a print disciple myself who has had to bounce back from multiple parental paper culls to start from scratch, bar the stray back issues that evaded the recycle bin, to see James’ collection on his blog a few years back was mind-boggling. ‘Vanity Fair,’ ‘Select,’ ‘The Face,’ rap ‘zines I’d never spotted in Tower, ‘Playboy,’ ‘Loaded’ (when it was good) and lots of ‘NME’s is my idea of a pulped tree paradise. It looked like a walk-in Google. Now he’s made it a “proper” archive and it looks spectacular. I guarantee that a fair proportion of what he has amassed has never been online. With stacks of magazines from a time when journalism had an earnestness that paid dividends, the ’80’s ‘NME’ pile is of particular interest to me and his unpolished phone video footage on YouTube extolling the cover-to-cover power of the era’s music journalism is infectious. Very, very infectious.
You want to see another collection? Check out the vintage Stussy on the newly revamped Hideout site’s blog, taken from the collection of Keith Wainwright. If you’d owned that leather in its day, a certain subsection of young males would have pretty much worshipped you as a god.
Marc Singer will always be a hero for that starring role in Don Coscarelli’s ‘The Beastmaster’ and its ‘Style Wars’ connection, but for playing Donovan in the mini-series ‘V’ and the subsequent series, he gets props (the incredible end theme to the miniseries was composed by Barry De Vorzon who composed the opening theme to ‘The Warriors’ and ‘Theme From S.W.A.T.’), but for wearing Nike Lava Domes with some serious regularity, Singer is pretty much immortal to me.
Sunday is a good time to just bang out a blog full of stuff other people have put me onto. Mr. Errolson Hugh put me onto this incredible piece from Outside Online about GORE-TEX’s monopoly and the rise of NeoShell that’s some real reporting from Mike Kessler. On the subject of technology, I’m currently enjoying the Nike+ FuelBand, even though I’m as non-athletic as it gets. With devices, there’s scope for misuse — mine has already been on a dog’s collar, amassing 211 FuelPoints through some stair and hall-based hype. Minus the canine, it gathered 113 during AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ at a wedding reception on friday. It’s like being rewarded for energetic stupidity — I’m already a fan. I have to salute Tom Scott for highlighting D-WHY’s ‘Macchiato Music‘ — forget trap rap, because this is NATO strap rap. I don’t know what to make of it, but I believe the moment when Kid said to Kamron of the Young Black Teenagers “Do me a favour — talk white” in ‘House Party 2’ he unleashed this kind of thing. More’s the Pitti. Dude can rap though, but if you’re going to do the Italian thing you need to be name checking Gianni Agnelli — as every menswear blog and book is keen to reiterate when they’re not telling you how to wear a suit and pocket square. Don’t listen to them for instructions — just look at some Gianni images, but if you’re looking to imitate, remember that the great man’s whole style was born of risky tweaks to formalwear, so to carbon copy kind of defeats the point. ‘Life’s ‘Everybody Works For Gianni’ piece from a November 1967 issue has some good Agnelli images — no over the cuff timepieces, but study closely and you can see the little quirks.
Farewell Moebius. The internet’s got us dropping ‘RIP’s all over the place — usually for the kinds of people under appreciated during their living years (chill, I’m not going to link to any Mike & the Mechanics). If we aren’t rest in peace-ing, we’re Tweeting death anniversaries. If we aren’t doing that, it’s about commemorating dead people’s birthdays. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it shouldn’t water down the resonance of true legends passing. Moebius’s relationship with Jodorowsky, work for ‘Heavy Metal’ and more was an evident inspiration for personal favourites like Geof Darrow (who collaborated with him), but his concept art for ‘Alien,’ ‘Tron’ (I had no idea that he contributed to ‘Space Jam’ and ‘Masters of the Universe’), that never-filmed ‘Dune’ adaptation and the late 1980’s Epic compilations of his work, with volume 4’s ‘The Long Tomorrow & Other Science Fiction Stories’ having a huge influence on me, setting heights so lofty that they’d rarely be matched by anything elsewhere, which fueled my cynicism by the time I reached my teens. Ridley Scott was inspired to make ‘Blade Runner’ because of ‘The Long Tomorrow’ — I was just compelled to hunt similar levels of detail and emotion on the printed page. 2007’s ‘In Search of Moebius’ BBC Four documentary is worth a watch, but regardless of the lack of English dialect (I watched a dubbed version on TV around 1987 though), 1982’s ‘Les maîtres du temps’/’Time Masters’ is a beautiful-looking movie from the director of the occasionally sampled ‘Fantastic Planet.’ The ending’s great, after the great man’s death, it’s kind of appropriate here.
It’s not like Clarks are strangers to making sporting versions of the Wallabee — there was a Wallabee Sports in the 1970’s and Nike famously made a collection of leisure shoes (that were actually pretty good) the following decade that flopped. Sports-casual, as Alan Partridge demonstrated, isn’t easy. Mr. Agnelli’s mix of tailoring and luxury hikers is it done correct, but many flopped. Still, with the visvim Polke and Nike HTM Macropus homaging Clarks’ classic, as well as many weaker moc-toe mockeries (I think I’ve used that obvious wordplay here before, so apologies for that), I was always surprised that they never brought the Sport back. What we did get was the Clarks Originals Cobra a few years back that never made much noise, but branding and contrast stitch aside, was a smart little tribute. It even included some crepe on the outsole. In burgundy it was good but in black it was bland and cheap-looking. The new wave of Clarks models that got a Footpatrol launch last week pays tribute to the Desert Boot and the Wallabee Boot and I like the Tawyer Mid a fair bit, with the update looking strong in both colours. The ballistic nylon and leather mix is good (the Cobra played with a similar combo) and the EVA sole isn’t too tricksy, which is where the Cobra stumbled. Still, I’ve seen the Cobra looking good with shorts and the burgundy Tawyer has similar potential, as well as scope for “Wha’ dem?” queries from men in the street. It’s all in the unobstructed curve from tongue to toepiece. Pretty good. Respectful updates and the beauty of those Wasabi Oi Polloi makeups makes it a good time to be championing Wallys.
This blog entry is approximately 27 hours late and an affront to my OCD inclinations. The real kicker is that it’s both tardy and pretty poorly thought-out too. In fact, the majority of it is given to images from an already well documented book that are — to add insult to injury — heavily watermarked too. What can I say? I slacked this week. I’m keen to get my hands on a full copy of Powerhouse’s ‘The Forty Deuce: The Times Square Photos of Bill Butterworth 1983-1984’ because it seems to be laden with strippers, pimps, b-boys and girls and plenty of other characters from the era. I grew up obsessed with b-movies from the time (as well as the classic ‘Times Square’) that depicted the area as a very scuzzy spot indeed, usually laden with offensive stereotypes of Puerto-Rican gents, complete with flick knives and bandanas and hookers berating the stray innocents who wandered into the area Butterworth depicts. Think ‘The Burning’s opening setup, ‘Fear City’ or ‘Basket Case.’ And while it looks grindhouse sketchy in Bill’s photos, there’s an evident sense of unity between crews, whether it’s sex shop workers, drag queens, dancers or anyone else who hung around there. The portraits are strong and the outfits are pretty spectacular, with plenty of posing. You know your swag is at a trillion when you can stunt in front of racks of gay porn (apologies to one-handed surfers who just found this blog through those words and were assailed with paragraphs, shoes and other geeky things) and still look gangster. That couple next to the ‘Beat Street’ (and ‘Strange Invaders’) display? Incredible. There’s plenty more information and imagery right here.
One of the few things that marred my pre-teen years as much as Belial in ‘Basket Case’ was David Lynch’s ‘The Grandmother.’ I always found that short infinitely more nightmarish than ‘Eraserhead.’ Lynch has a habit of tapping into the hallucinatory, claustrophobic essence of a nightmare situation. The car crash scene in ‘Wild At Heart’ troubles me deeply, but Robert Blake’s appearance in ‘Lost Highway’ is utterly unnerving. Blake’s real-life antics give his nameless character extra edge and the whole film remains underrated. Just as I found myself preoccupied with watching the film again, I wandered into Uniqlo and was faced with a ‘Lost Highway’ t-shirt as part of their David Lynch collection. Then I got the news that Universal are putting out pretty much every David Lynch film as a Blu-ray around June 4th. ‘Wild At Heart’ includes ‘The Grandmother’ as a special feature and I want to know what the “Four Intervalometer Experiments” that are on the ‘Lost Highway’ disc are. Even ‘Dune’ is part of the rollout. All this sudden activity around a film I hadn’t thought about for at least half a decade didn’t throw me as much as Bull Pullman talking to a man face-to-face who’s also miles away in his home, but it caught me off guard a little. Now Robert’s eyes and laugh are embedded in my mind all over again.
Retro isn’t going anywhere — right now somebody’s probably being kicked to the ground for a basketball shoe from 1997 — but the new wave is wildly on point. I’ve loved Nike’s Lunar pieces but the Undercover GYAKUSOU collection has done a good job of introducing me to shoes I wouldn’t have paid much attention too until they got some Terra-esque makeups. Zoom Structure+ 15? A serious shoe even though I hadn’t looked at Structures since the bestselling Structure II back in the early ’90’s. I loved the Lunar Elite+ but the Zoom Elite series looked like one of those ranges that was made for serious runners who’d sneer at anything aesthetically pleasing for its fanciness. Suddenly, with that transparent overlay and almost 180 style forefoot, the Zoom Elite+ 5 is a thing of beauty and this version highlights every key feature. The Terra Humara style colourway elevates these significantly and like the Structure choice, there’s a sense that Jun Takahashi isn’t hunting the hype vote with his footwear picks. Shouts to Nike UK fam for these — all I need now is a health scare to encourage me to run. All the gear, no idea is a mantra I live by.
Many blogs are either too frantic or too earnest for my tastes, but I really like The Obviously Uncommon. That’s because the man behind it, knows a lot about a lot of stuff and had a Doublegoose way before I ever did, but also because it celebrates the bargain hunter. There’s so much emphasis on matters of flossiness and conspicuous consumption, but shelling out full price or an eBay markup is a fast track to a hollow purchase. Bargains come with tales of exploration, disbelief and triumph. £25 Pendletons, wear tested Stone Island coats, Air Max Lights found in garages and 50p hats that are inexplicably big make this site my new favourite. Salutes to the enemies of RRP out there.