There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia — it beats trying to run after the young ‘uns and pretending that everything they utter is an essential insight. That’s because there’s nostalgia and then there’s just getting stuck in the mud. Don’t get me wrong, youth insight is important, but I’d sooner be looking up to Glenn O’Brien and Tim Blanks — both of whom don’t seem to waste their time assuming that the kids are the key to everything, and have dealt with recent job cutbacks in an unruffled manner that I found particularly inspirational. If I lose a single revenue stream I assume that the game is over and I’m destined to be back to the temp contract life telling disinterested school-leavers about how I got some free shoes once upon a time. O’Brien and Blanks just kept it moving like it was Condé Nast’s loss.
For years, I read about the Beasties’ bestie Ricky Powell having a cable show in the hip-hop press, despondent that I’d never see it. Spurred on by Oh Snap, I managed to download a few segments of Rappin with the Rickster during the file share and CD burn days. The DVD of the highlights of the show’s 1990 to 1994 run was good, but I’ve always wanted a complete collection. To commemorate its 25th anniversary, Rappin with the Rickster 2015 has been getting weekly updates on YouTube. In an era of Vine, vlogging and a camera in every pocket, the idea of making a show out of daily routines doesn’t seem quite as unique, but the show’s apparent sponsorship by a health food spot called Eva’s Kitchen indicates that the trademark eccentricity is very much intact.
Much of the new episodes’ appeal is in Powell’s continual refusal to adapt to a city gentrifying around him. Powell seems to have always been a man comfortably out of time since day one, but in an East Village and Brooklyn that’s very different to the one he drifted around a few decades ago, with his blues-tuned transistor radio and mock roach-finger posing, he’s a rent-controlled beacon floating against the tide with an array of bumps and heated words with his hated yuppy enemies. Far from being an irrelevance in the digital age, Powell is a living, breathing embodiment of a city’s spirit — one whose sole concession to a modern age seems to be the format for his transmissions, with Bronx buddy Brian Nobili behind the lens, a tablet under his arm and, staying at a moderate distance from the modern age, a KYOCERA flip-phone at hand too.
As everybody knows, northern nostalgics will never, ever let you forget about New Order, but there’s always room for insight on the lesser-discussed elements of their output. As part of the SHOWstudio print project, Lou Stoppard spoke to Peter Saville about the group’s famously late New Order Untitled publication that arrived at the very end of their American tour thanks to Saville’s fastidious way with design. I recall a few copies of Untitled’s run of 1000 ending up on eBay a few years back, where they sold for around 100 pounds. Naturally, as is the case with auction site regret, I declined to bid because it all seemed very steep. And what seemed steep in 2007, is just today’s facepalm. What’s appealing about Saville interviews is the intellectual rationale behind every element of his work. While Powell was putting out a proto-vlog in 1990, Saville thinks this 1989 (eventual) release, was a proto-blog, albeit on paper. It’s nice to know that you can miss a deadline and still create a classic.