The Jordan II is the last bastion of mystery (other than the IE on the XI Lows which I believe stands for International Exclusive because we wouldn’t be able to take the patent toe looks of the original — but that could be bullshit) within the Air Jordan line. When a key selling point is your European place of manufacture, it’s clear that (bar that fairly recent dark leather Italian made variation that I can’t recall ever dropping) this has never been retroed with the original appeal intact. It’s unique selling point is absent and it’s a shame — an Italian-made Jordan II with the excellent box reproduced would be a thing of beauty and it’s one of the few editions that isn’t played out despite having a substantial hip-hop following (Skinny Boys, Heavy D and more wore it well) in its day. I always got the impression that MJ was never fully happy with a signature shoe until part III (though I always heard he threatened to bounce after Peter Moore left) and while there’s a name to a shoe each time before and after, I’ve never fully known if Peter Moore or Bruce Kilgore created the AJII (it’s generally assumed that they made it together — did Bruce take over the project? I know Moore exited Nike in 1987 and this patent from 1986 that cites a Gucci shoe somewhere has their names on it and is for the
Italian-made Taiwan-made (thank you Simon Trenholm) Nike All England tennis shoe from 1986 that had the Wimbledon box).
What wasn’t made in Italy (it was made in Taiwan instead) was the mysterious Nike Air Python from early 1987, that’s occasionally spotted beneath shrink-wrap in Japanese deadstock spots (it seemed to be a big shoe with collectors there in the late 1990s) but carried the Jordan II’s animal texture concept and took it a little more literally. Just as the Safari was once an elusive creature, this shoe is a lesser-spotted one — was it actually made for performance? Part AJ II, part Air Force II with some high roller high-end cues (wasn’t that snakeskin real? Edit: it transpires that it was never, ever real), it’s just a strange, brilliant moment in Nike collector lore that’s the sum of two sequels. I wouldn’t be mad at a retro at all, seeing as the world seems to have caught up with this kind of weirdness. Plus, lest we forget, the Mad Foot Mad Monty snake design from 2004 was basically a Nike Air Python. I believe the collar detailing was changed for later Mad Monty designs (though it’s still pretty much the spitting image of a Python). Between the Python and PUMA’s The Beast shoe from 1988, there was definitely something in the water back then. The 1996 AF1s in python (in the brown and grey that both colourways of the Air Python dropped in), plus the early ’00s Python pack seemed to nod to the Air Python’s cult following. The Nike Air Python is a key Look ma, no swoosh! moment, but MJ’s model deserves the props for that. For ditching the newly recognisable branding that seemed like so much of a selling point, the Jordan II is a breakthrough moment in shoe design. The Sports Illustrated piece on the Nike Air Jordan II above is a decent snapshot of the expectations of that shoe back in 1986, including some tux talk that pre-dates the XI by nearly a decade and the Jordan Brand plan in its early stages.
Back in 2006, Bootcamp Magazine seemed to drop from nowhere, to pick up at spots like Stüssy and The Hideout alongside TET’s sadly defunct Philosophy ‘zine. Largely wordless to demolish a language barrier, the quality of some of the shoots, the black and white, plus the old style binding was all striking. It’s also completely free. I haven’t heard about Base Control and their basics and slouchy beanies in a while beyond some collaborations, but I’ve long associated it with Bootcamp because of the ads they carried and Bootcamp Magazine‘s creator, Motoki Mizuguchi of Shibuya’s mo’design agency being the creator of that brand’s logo. I never knew this publication was still running until I heard about the release events in Japan, but v.12 is good. I picked it up while in Nepenthes New York while ogling that Rebuilt by Needles recycled vintage military jacket that still haunts my daydreams occasionally.
It’s great to find out that Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock is an appreciator of the legendary Abel Ferrera flick Fear City, but anyone who cites Eric Red’s Cohen and Tate as a pivotal moment of 1989 would get extra points from me. If you don’t like Near Dark or The Hitcher (both written by Red), I feel bad for you. If you don’t like Blue Steel (written by Red and similar to Kurosawa’s Stray Dog — a film that has had two official remakes over the years) Body Parts (which Red directed) as much as I do, I can understand. Red even got the opportunity to rewrite ALIEN3 (alongside the rest of Hollywood at the time). Cohen and Tate is an ultraviolent fairy story that sits alongside later personal favorites of this ilk like Freeway and Running Scared, with a smart kid taken by mob hitmen (the calculated Cohen played by Roy Scheider and the unhinged Tate played by Adam Baldwin) and subsequently playing them off against each other. It was apparently based on the far more innocent and light-hearted short story by O. Henry, The Ransom of Red Chief and according to The Guardian last week (which also mentions the tragedy of Red’s March 2000 car crash — an incident which reads like a less stylised but equally ambiguous and vicious script from the man himself), Cohen and Tate seemed to inspire the Kane & Lynch video games and it definitely inspired John Wrathall’s script for The Liability with Tim Roth in a Cohen-informed role. After Red put out some incredibly brutal deleted scenes from the film a year or so ago, Cohen and Tate is getting the Blu-ray treatment in July via Shout! Factory with extras and the kind of premium packaging it deserves after years in the bad transfer, bootleg and VHS zone. This is a video shop classic.
Shouts to Doubleday & Cartwright for making their feelings on NYC’s recent sporting acquisition very clear in t-shirt form. I don’t know if this is ever going on sale, but it’s a great design that’s up there with No Mas‘ bestselling protest pieces.