Busy tonight (but never too busy to update this blog, albeit briefly). I think Frank Bruno and the sadly departed George Francis was one of British boxing’s great partnerships. As a kid, I was always looking at the gear that celebrities and athletes wore — around this time, if we want to create a Rocky-esque contrasting training montage in our minds, I’m sure Mike Tyson was pacing the streets of Vegas at the same unholy hours in grey NB 996s. Continue reading HYPEBEASTS IN TRAINING
Long before A$AP and adidas crossed paths, the connection between Rocky and the three-stripes helped pave the way for hip-hop history. After Nike endorsed Stallone in 1982’s Rocky III, adidas had made friends with the Italian Stallion in subsequent years , leading up to the fourth chapter. Before the strange bit where it claims that he discovered Run-D.M.C. breakdancing in the mid 1980s (probably not true — b-boying was never their forte and they’d put out an album by 1984), Barbara Smit’s Pitch Invasion is a great source of information on “Mr. adidas” himself Angelo Anastasio. the entertainment promotion man behind that pioneering footwear deal. Anastasio went from a mid 70s pro with New York Cosmos to the Ferrari-driver schmoozing around Hollywood. From Paulie’s robot (after Paulie went from violent woman beating drunk to loveable oaf in line with the franchise’s increased shine) to Vince DiCola’s War — a composition capable of getting a pacifist pumped enough to put their fists through a kebab shop window —it’s understandable that this heavy-handed red menace tale is a fan favourite (I’m a Clubber Lang man myself). I can’t help but think that the only thing more 1980s than Rocky IV, is the thought of Anastasio making power moves around 1985 on the streets of Los Angeles? The world needs a documentary on that pre-Yeezy heyday of entertainment marketing.
With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves. As a result, I’m reflecting on the tragic younger form of me in 1985 and in 1994, when I requested amazing things I never got. On the back of a TV showing of ‘First Blood’ and the release of ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ everybody wanted a Rambo-style knife and sewing kit for mending yourself post self-surgery in the wild while on the run for knocking a policeman out a helicopter with a well-aimed rock. When novelty stores started cashing in by selling badly made weapons with a compass at the end of the handle and an enclosed wire that was meant to cut down trees, but everybody knew was for garroting enemies, everyone suddenly decided they needed one and we got on that camo hype early. I was denied one, but my brother was allowed a “survival knife” which he subsequently ruined while away at camp while throwing it at a tree to show off (or so he claims – maybe he killed a man and had to dispose of the weapon). Not only did it not stick in the tree, but the self igniting matches are alleged to have somehow lit themselves in the process and melted the handle. And that was that.
I wanted a pager because rappers always had them, name checked them and made them seem important. The fact I only needed to get hold of about two people who were glued to their Super NES anyway was irrelevant and after coming close to getting hold of a Motorola numerical pager that would involve elaborate number codes and some premium price to contact me, the plan was dropped. Looking at ads like the ones above, you can’s blame me for willing Santa to gift me the goods though, can you? The brilliantly-named Knifeco also made the more expensive and even more terrifying Survivor model that was like a grown-up version of the Survival Knife Kit. In 2012, the “Answering machine for your pocket” is totally redundant and I’d be arrested and face a custodial sentence if I marched around with Knifeco’s handiwork in a sheath (though I want this official version). There’s still part of me that wants to receive both of them on the 25th of December, just for some closure, but it’s safe to say that the ads are better than the actual items. They don’t do ads like this any more. What can I link this talk of bowie hunting knives to?
Putting together the Christmas list, there’s plenty that’s due to drop after the big day. If we fast forward over a year, Mike Tyson’s autobiography has a publication date of the 22nd of May, 2014, but to tide us over, ‘The Undisputed Truth’ by Mike Tyson and Paul Sloman (presumably based on the Broadway show) is released on the 16th of July 2013 and yes, there’s an audio book of it too. Hopefully there’ll be an audio book of the autobiography too. I’m also saddened to see that the ‘David Bowie Is’ book doesn’t come out until a couple of weeks before the exhibition of over 300 items picked from Bowie’s art, outfits and objects that the book ties in with starts at the V&A museum (sponsored by Gucci). Seeing as the majority of men’s fashion editors appear to have just noticed that mid 1970s David Bowie looks awesome, despite the rest of the world knowing this several years prior, this exhibit and book should give them more to copy a little too late, thus defeating the object of Bowie’s masterful re appropriation and ability to stay ahead of the curve.
Image taken from this Flickr account.
Mr. Matt Collett upped a link to a Flickr collection of Nike archive visit images from a few years bacon Facebook and it opened up a whole can of nerdery for me. We’ve all seen the Mag, the Batman boots made from Air Trainer SCs and the Batman Jordans created specially for films, but even on a trip to those fabled vaults recently I didn’t spot the ‘Jurassic Park’ raptor shoes (and I’m not talking newcomer slang for a particular pair of VIIs) there. In Donald Katz’s ‘Just Do It’ it mentions these models as an inspiration on the Air Carnivore because they were supposedly loosely related to, “…a shoe that Tinker Hatfield had worked on for the people running around inside some of the animal costumes in Jurassic Park (Tinker called those shoes Air Dinos and had since encouraged an “Animalistic” design motif).”
Oliver Hutton’s Flickr account is excellent and worth checking out, but is this image of an object credited to the Hulk, the mysterious “Air Dino”? Was it created for motion capture of raptor actors (inadvertent double rhyme) in the original ‘Jurassic Park’? I know there’s a few Beaverton-based boffins who can help me out here and the gift of weirdo knowledge would be gratefully received this Christmas.
“So, okay, okay, okay, y’all can’t fuck with me, no way/Jose or Héctor Camacho/Tech blows and watch yo’ chest close and tacos”
Juelz Santana, Diplomats ‘Gangsta Music’
“And I’ma go so opposite of soft/Off the richter, Héctor Camacho Man Randy Savage/Above status, quo, flow, so, pro”
Lil’ Wayne ‘Mr Carter’
Farewell, Héctor Camacho. You were my kind of fighter. Seemingly boxing forever, Puerto Rico’s own macho man and king of the reverse rat tail ‘do gave not one single fuck. Six losses in 30 years of professional bouts, mastering some bizarre modes of pre-fight mindfuckery, defeating Julian Solís, Ray Mancini, Vinny Pazienza and Julio César Chávez, plus aging incarnations of Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Durán, plus all manner of wild behaviour outside the ring, including getting his dick tattooed and whipping it out for Playgirl when he was pushing 50, burgling an electronics store while high on ecstasy and starring in a Latin reality show, where women compete to date Macho (‘It’s Macho Time’) all added to the legend. You can’t deny Héctor didn’t push it to the limit. Slain by a mystery assailant, he’ll be missed. With his shift to Islam after his own controversies it’s unlikely that Héctor Camacho Jr’s boxing career will be as storied as his father’s, but those hip-hop name checks (including a Cam’ron line on the ‘S.D.E’ album) keep the legacy alive.
Ed Davis’s The Heavy Mental site is one of my favourite places to lurk. The interviews and original work on the site are relevant to my interests and he seems to have myriad affiliated projects on the go and on the low, whether it’s participation in Ralph Bakshi screenings, these patches and tees (that reaper design is serious) and affiliations with Sydney’s excellent Supply store (10 years old this year). Because Ed can design very well indeed, his new S.O.H. collection is looking good too, steeped in thrash and doom imagery and letterforms, with the Southern Lord references (word to Sunn O))))) and Voivod logo homage for a shirt with Supply. S.O.H. launches with four designs and a lookbook titles ‘Expendable Youth’ with blunts, fireworks, firearms and Jeff Fotocar behind the camera. Fuct has a lot to answer for, in the best possible way — between these designs and Julian Consuegra’s Stray Rats, with its hardcore frame of reference, Erik’s uncompromising attitude is present, but the vision is the creators’ own. It’s rare that I get hyped about tee designs beyond the usual suspects, but these are great. Between Ed’s work and Perks & Mini’s designs, Australia does it better than the majority. There’s more pages to that lookbook too and I have no idea where these are dropping, nor can I find a website, but I’m sure a launch is imminent. I admire the vagueness. Most people have teased their tees to death by this point and dropped two Vimeos already.
A few Nike curiosities from the 1987 era below — Bucks player Sidney Moncrief promoting the mysterious Nike Rugby Union designs that seem like a response to the bolder Polo, Coca-Cola and adidas apparel creations around that time. That colour blocking and abundance of embroidered detail makes these interesting and the Bengals’ “Boomer” Esiason mean-mugging in Lycra to plug the recently released Air Windrunner is part of the same restrained campaign that ditches the shouty Futura Extra Bold of the time for a more gentile approach. If you want it bolder, then the cheesy Nike Apparel ad from the same era that’s pushing bicycle-wear via a campy-attired courier. The approach to clothing at this point in time lacked the confidence of the footwear, though an appearance from Agassi in one of the campaign shots hints at a brighter future, both literally and figuratively.
Recycled material from the hard drive today, with a Tyson-centric theme incited by talk of Roy Jones Jr. scheming a bout with Kimbo Slice, thus devaluing boxing to the point where it might as well involve kangaroos like a 1950s British fairground. If I had my way, the majority of posts here would involve Kid Dynamite anyway. ‘Spin’s January 1991 meeting between LL Cool J (on the back of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’) and a post Douglas-defeat Tyson is excellent. The “Neither of them have ever heard of Morrissey” line in the intro is a nice start and the topics discussed are pleasantly incendiary, linking boxing and hip-hop and scattering it with a few choice bits of trivia along the way. It’s a bit like classic ‘Source’ meets ‘Playboy’ in terms of content. The ‘Wild, Wild Haircut Craze’ piece from a 1989 ‘Ebony’ uses Mike’s ‘Killer 1’ cut as the starting point to talk step-up flattops and “channel cuts.” The images of Tyson (wearing a Fila track top) and Ali, Tyson being congratulated by Eddie Murphy (who’s at a career point between the mild flop of ‘Another 48 Hours’ and the resurrection that was ‘Boomerang’) and an older shot of Mike proving that espadrilles are for players if you’re built like a brick shithouse and wear a chunky anklet with them. TOMS wearers are still bellends though.
Has it really been 20 years since Koon, Powell, Wind, Briseño and Solano were acquitted, LA burned, Perry Farrell masturbated multiple times and then everybody declared war on rap and announced that everything with an f-word was “gangsta”? It led to ‘Get the Fist’ — not a pro-fisting anthem, but a charity record that’s better than Live Aid II and III’s reminder that 1989 and 2004 were dark musical times, but not as good as Springsteen and Run-DMC condemning Sun City. I remember footage of Positive K, Biz and MC Serch’s albums being sent beneath the steamroller during the storm over that crappy ‘Cop Killer’ song too.
Still, it was nice to feel like you weren’t meant to be listening to the music — authorities, parents and even the artists goading me and calling me a cracker made the experience fun. Now it wants to be your friend — it retweets you and collaborates with Katy Perry, then saunters off and reworks an Aston Martin. Hip-hop practically strokes your balls and asks how your day at work was. Things done changed. I still can’t resist the lure of the rap autobiography – DMX, Ice-T, 50 Cent, Jay-Z (a decent read beyond the lyrical deconstructions), Common and J-Zone’s efforts were decent in their own ways, but Prodigy set the standard with ‘My Infamous Life’ by talking smack as if he was never going to be released and not letting too much truth get in the way of a good yarn. That seems to have instigated some impending tomes — Lil’ Kim’s ‘The Price of Loyalty’ drops in June, ‘Bizzy By Choice, Bone By Blood’ by Bizzy Bone, ‘The Dynasty: Sex, Drugs, Murder and Hip Hop’ by Ray Benzino arrive in July, Boots Riley has one set for December and Q-Tip’s ‘Industry Rules: the World According to Q-Tip, From Linden Blvd. to El Sugundo and Beyond’ is a long way off (25th March 2014 according to Amazon). Somewhere among all those releases, RA the Rugged Man’s book might appear too.
Given his notorious inability to hold his tongue, Benzino’s book appeals to me – I want more information on the whole ‘The Source’ deal, the early Boston rap days, label issues as a result of the aforementioned ‘Cop Killer’ fallout, the CGI magic carpets and that strange documentary that was on WSHH recently, which featured an inexplicable Jay Electronica appearance banging on about Satan and the illuminati, years before he took to blasting the shit out of pheasants with Zac Goldsmith of an evening. I imagine it will probably indicate that Made Men made classic albums too, but I’m willing to overlook all that. Every rapper used to have a book, film and beverage in the offing, but many failed to materialise. I never believed ‘Zino’s book would appear, but now there’s even a cover shot as proof of life. On a biographical note, HarperCollins are reported to have obtained UK rights to Mike Tyson’s memoir and it’s apparently set for an October 2013 release — very good news indeed. Getting overeager about these things can prove humiliating though – a lot of us have been waiting for ‘Bowie: Object’ (which sounds like an even fancier version of ‘My Rugged 211’ or that Hiroshi Fujiwara ‘Personal Effects’ book, but this time, it’s a tome showcasing some of Bowie’s favourite archive artefacts), but Bowie Myths showcased a “leak” that looked questionable. It was evidently written by somebody that understands Bowie, yet predictably, it turned out to be fake and even the man himself took to Facebook (“Blinkin’ garden gnomes! Really”) to dismiss it. Between that and a hastily doctored pair of Jordan Is with the Nike SB logo on the tongue (as I understand it, that Jordan I SB for the Bones Brigade film isn’t happening), fast news travel and a hunger for information are optimum conditions for pranks.
Every meeting I’ve gone to lately seems to have talk of “a print project” thrown around in the same way they were banging on about an “online magazine” a year or so ago. Unless you’ve got an oligarch backer the high gloss approach will crash and burn and just trying to be ‘Monocle’s fashion section distilled down like weak Ribena – a sickly pink when it should be a purple, isn’t enough. I can’t say I’ve been awed by a magazine lately (though there’s been some strong content) on visuals alone in the same way that ‘Relax’ used to blow my mind frequently. Sure, it got to a point where on grabbing it from Magma, it was all plants, pastels and Mike Mills again and again (the visual angle was important, because I couldn’t understand a bloody word of that Japanese text) and then it was cancelled in 2006, but before that, it was a perfect, progressive example of magazine design — inserts, posters, stickers and those covers…inspirational in a way that ‘The Face’ once was and very little has been since…at least nothing that would leave you with change from a tenner. The adidas and Dogtown issues were tremendous and there’s still room in my life for something just as powerful. The Being Hunted crew always seemed to worship this magazine too (I’m looking forward to seeing Being Hunted 7.0), because Jorg and co know their stuff. Salutes to the LMCA archive for maintaining the covers and the YouWorkForThem squad for keeping their magazine and book visuals stored, even after they stopped selling them. Why isn’t there a ‘Relax’ retrospective book? I still believe print can change lives, but `also I believe that it’s a format that only a select few can truly succeed in.
Page images taken from YouWorkForThem
If it’s quirky, it’s cult now. I’ve been trying to work out when cult ceased to be an appealing tag – perhaps it was the post Quentin slew of chatty, smart-Alec mob flicks that jarred each and every time. Maybe it was Rob Zombie and co’s attempts to reproduce a moment in time that was originally simply a victim of no means and a lack of professional crew. Either way, the best stuff from back in the day had an earnestness about it and a sense of strange that wasn’t synthesised. All the talk of ninjas last week had me thinking of David Carradine’s work and I still maintain that 1989’s ‘Sonny Boy’ is underrated. Alongside ‘Santa Sangre’ it offers something uncomfortable but intoxicating in a totally unrestrained approach to bloodletting and Carradine’s commitment to the film, from his cross-dressing performance to the work on the soundtrack is admirable. Cheap and memorable is a fair summary (like 1990’s unnerving ‘Luther the Geek’), but that doesn’t necessarily make it a film for all tastes — come to think of it, many will just find ‘Sonny Boy’ deeply offensive, but I guarantee you’ve not seen much like this one before. Brad Dourif has spent much of his career stumbling into curiosities like this and I’m assuming distribution issues mean it won’t ever get a proper DVD release again.
“You’re pint-sized, I’m Mike’s eyes with the gladiator tattoos on it.”
Nas, ‘Nazareth Savage’
“I freak beats, slam it like Iron Sheik/Jam like a Tec with correct techniques.”
Nas,’It Ain’t Hard to Tell’
This post is dedicated to the memory of the MacBook Pro that just passed, taking away imagery for a planned post and making me improvise with hastily cobbled together entries like this. Iron Mike‘s Instagram image of the big man stood alongside the Iron Sheik at the end of last week was — and I’m not being ironic here — one of the best pictures I’ve seen in years. This was a meeting of two of my favourite people who’ve grown up but not lost their capacity to entertain. The Sheik’s wild threats via twitter live up to his wild image of old, namechecked by Nas and authentically unhinged in a heavily rehearsed realm, and Mike Tyson is a man who seems to have emerged from the darkness, the family tragedies and the apparent catharsis of James Toback’s ‘Tyson’ documentary a changed man — less the rent-a-thug or genuinely unnerving thousand yard stare of his appearance in the Wu-Tang heavy mess of ‘Black and White’ and more of a controlled presence that seems to be in on the jokes. I’m not a Tyson apologist, but I’m a fan of his fights, his respect for boxing history and willingness to bare his soul. He’s a complicated character and the current woeful state of heavyweight bouts has me nostalgic for the Mitch Green scrap outside Dapper Dan and even contemporary Mike meltdowns like the Lennox press scrap (now that’s how you brawl at a press conference — it isn’t a real brawl unless legs get inexplicably bitten) and the threats at journos. That’s the raw side of a warrior mindset, but the Haye and Chisora dust up’s use of props was straight-up WWE behaviour.
In fact, I’d rather watch WWE than watch the aforementioned pair fight. At least I’ll respect the fighters more. Long after Mike’s 1990 WWF refereeing replacement for a Hogan and Randy Savage bout in favour of an unexpectedly victorious Buster Douglas, and several years after his wild post-jail antics seemed to be an influence on the Raw-era he was given WWE Hall of Fame status at the weekend. And it was here that two legends met. That image of them together is a classic Mike image beyond the ring — up there with his meeting with Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1991 clad in flamboyant knitwear, his late night Wheaties run in a particularly fly Fila tracksuit, ‘LIFE’ magazine ‘s shot of him in an MCM and Rolex combo, plus the entire ‘Sports Illustrated’ shoot from 1985 (note the Etonic Mirage on his feet in the pigeon coop) for the January 6, 1986 cover story (which you can read here), where a 19-year-old Kid Dynamite greets well wishers and chills with his pigeons. A hero meets a hero. I’m just surprised that when these two legends met, the universe didn’t implode in honour of them. There’s a few personal favourites below, plus a heavily watermarked picture of Webster in Air Jordan Is from the 1987 ‘Webster’ episode with the Tyson cameo.