Still no proper update right now, but if you’re not suffering from Visible Air fatigue, there’s a shit ton of nerdery over here for your viewing pleasure and it might be more appreciated by the audience here than over there. Nowadays, marketing wants to rise above the shabby glory of the efforts above and below but somehow falls short of these thirty-second masterpieces. I like to watch these things to remind me why I like shoes when I’m suffering from the fatigue of PR people and communication folks taking the easy way out with everything and feigning love for product.That Sneaker Corner commercial from 1991 is tremendous (shouts to the uploader, wtcvidman) in its “Morrie” Kessler from Goodfellas style old-school salesman enthusiasm. It’s good to see that their Brooklyn spot is still standing — places like that are an endangered species. I’m not sure that Cal Stores are still open, but everything’s better when it has Oh Yeah by Yello on the soundtrack. I think Sneakers Plus in New Jersey is still going though. Salutes to the little guys — there are not enough of them or the grey importers around these days. Everyone sells the same stuff in exactly the same way. At least these folks made an effort.
I completely forgot about this 1996 Nike documentary that braitnicho uploaded. Seeing this late that year (I believe the Branded series also had Heinz and Levi’s episodes) was a key instigator in making me want to work with Nike on something one day. There’s some interesting footage in the mix here and some good insights from Phil Knight. This seemed to be a golden era of business documentaries that wrangled access to some places that no other documentary seems to have gone since.
On the subject of YouTube, this footage from a CBGBs showcase of unsigned acts from summer 1992, with Bobbito as the host via CharlieChopoff (salutes to Unkut for the heads up) is worth your time — Artifacts clad in Polo, Fatal in a Timberland sweat, 8-Off showing you why he got a deal, plus Hard 2 Obtain and a few acts that never made their splash post Unsigned Hype (like Legion of D.U.M.E) are all present in this rare video.
Another toy I wish had existed when I was a kid is Sideshow’s Snake Plissken figure. The McFarlane toy doesn’t count because it was based on Escape From LA, which we all like to pretend never happened, but this super detailed creation is taken from the 1981 original, complete with the strange cam on the trousers, his weaponry, everything allotted to him by Lee Van Cleef, and, if you pre-order it from the source, you get a tiny repro of the tape which may or may not contain Dixieland jazz to set off WWIII. Now, where’s that Frank Doubleday as Romero toy, reeling off a list of kidnap demands when you pull a string? Carpenter’s classic has always warranted a full toy line.
By now the internet will be at least 25% Lou Reed, but the planet has lost at least 2% of its angry stares in his absence. Contrary to Sickboy’s assessment, Lou never really lost it. I also think his period of musical excellence (though it wavered in the mid 1980s around the time of this Honda ad) up to 1990 tops Bowie’s tenure of brilliance too in terms of longevity (and Lou’s early novelty record, The Ostrich is better than David’s The Laughing Gnome). Those live performances from the last decade and the courtside seats at Knicks games with Richard Lewis meant he was a functioning cool guy up to the very end, regardless of any perceived missteps. For decades, Lou was the final level boss for many an aspiring music journalist to tackle — a lone wolf participant in a jihad against mediocre questioning. Now he’s gone there’s not really a replacement with the intellect to match the bad attitude, is there?
Street Hassle is my favourite Lou Reed song at this moment at this moment in time for that blend of romance and pitch blackness, with that uncredited Springsteen appearance. Even in a spoken word verse from a scumbag junk dealer’s perspective regarding dead body disposal ends in pure poetry. That’s why something might owe a debt to Lou and the Velvet Underground, but it’ll rarely match the dead-eyed beauty of its reference points.
Hey, that cunt’s not breathing
I think she had too much of something or other
Hey, man, you know what I mean
I don’t mean to scare you
But you’re the one who came here
And you’re the one who’s gotta take her when you leave
I’m not being smart or trying to be pulling my part
And I’m not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get emotional
And sometimes they just don’t act rational
They think they’re just on TV — sha la la la, man
Why don’t you just slip her away
You know. I’m glad that we met man
It was really nice talking
And I really wish there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain myself to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it’s not like we could help
But there’s nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
Only, someone turns that blue
Well, it’s a universal truth
And you just know: That bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that’s really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought be more careful round the little girls
It’s either the best or it’s the worst
Since I don’t have to choose, I guess I won’t
And I know, This is no way to treat a guest
But why don’t you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out in the darkest street
And by morning, she’s just another hit and run
You know, some people got no choice
And they can never even find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why, they follow it
You know, it’s called bad luck
Ahead of the release of Take None, Fear None and some current Sons of Anarchy binges, I’ve been obsessing over the predominantly black motorcycle club, The Chosen Few and the imagery that defines their crew. Naturally, any appropriation of a club’s imagery is a foolhardy move (as brands have learnt over the years), but it always makes for arresting photographs. Ebony ran a feature on west coast black biker gangs in 1966 that included shots of Chosen Few and Fresco Rattlers members, plus a breakdown of the 1%er name and an explanation of sorts regarding the use of the swastika as a tool of offense rather than a statement of racism (complete with a shot of black club members alongside Pagans beneath the offending logo on a flag). The Chosen Few’s website includes some superb shots that seem to be from around the time of this shoot (many of which manage to be both heartwarming in their multi-racial unity, but deeply intimidating at the same time), but the whole aura seems significantly cuddlier in the Ebony piece when compared to recent news reports on Chosen Few-related arrests. Over 50 years after the club’s inception, that outlaw status seems to have escalated.
The beauty of 6876 is that product simply makes sense. There’s nothing superfluous — no mystery to why you want anything. They’re open to stocking some exceptions though. Coinciding with the release of their Chapman bag, they’ve got a product in stock that I want for no good reason — a scale model of Mount McKinley in a perspex case from Reliorama. Why does a transparent plastic case make an object so appealing? I never knew I needed a tiny replica of North America’s highest peak until I saw this. Then I realised that it’s an object that was missing from my life.
That Boyz II Men Concord and tux Grammy footage and imagery keeps on eluding me. Can somebody send me it and put me out of my misery. Does it even exist? The closest I ever found was the shot of Jodeci standing with Tempest Bledsoe from The Cosby Show wearing the white outfits and Jordan XIs from the March ’96 ‘Coast 2 Coast’ section of The Source. This was a time before Jojo was fainting onstage and Dalvin was plummeting off them.
Back in the day, my dad and I were pretty obsessed with Alien — ever since he described a Chestburster to me as a toddler, I was transfixed. If I’d had access to Alien action figures (and I’m not talking about those crappy 1990s Aliens things with the flying Alien Queens and other such foolishness) from Kenner, it would have been game over — crappy Star Wars figures like Lobot and Snaggletooth would have perished with the quickness. But I never even knew plans had ever been afoot for Alien toys back in 1979 until I got talking to geeks who knew more than me and saw them in a 1995 magazine, by which time I was too old for such things. The closest I’ve come to the 12″ Kenner Alien action figure (which, according to legend was created with the license holders under the impression that it was going to be more of a science fiction extravaganza than a claustrophobic horror film) was the Medicom mini-replica, but I’ve always wanted the scrapped series of smaller Star Wars size action figures that never left prototype stage, because, quite understandably, the 12″ Alien terrified kids and sold poorly.
In one of the most nerd-friendly resurrections ever, the ReAction brand — a subsidiary of Super7 (who I know little about, other than they always seem to have monster figures in every Juxtapoz ever) — have obtained the Alien license and obtained either the prototypes or good quality photographs (apart from one figure which only seems to exist in the same shot I saw in 1995) and finally made those unreleased figures of Ripley, Ash, Dallas, Kane in that strange spacesuit and the “Big Chap” alien. If you want more geekery, they even recruited the lady who designed the original packaging for Kenner and this project back in the day to create the packaging for this release and created fake prototype figures in the blue of the fabled Boba Fett missile firing prototype (cancelled after a child choked to death on a Battlestar Galactica toy), created backdrops, bags and boxes that homage Kenner’s Star Wars Early Bird package from 1977 and even made a fake press release that deliberately plays on the misconception that all the figures will be the best of friends. It’s one of the greatest parts of my childhood that never was and you can read more about the ReAction releases right here. Is their resurrections of shelved toys a work-in-progress? I’m interested to see what comes next. This is a superior lesson in absurd attention-to-detail.
PhoneShop is a patchy show in terms of plotting, but Ashley and Jerwayne’s dialogue is a dead-on snapshot of the inadvertent strangeness of Croydon and Sutton’s slang-speaking denizens. The shoulder bags alone are more amusing than anything Simon Brodkin has conjured up in his appalling Lee Nelson character — a performance by a man who seems to have only ever seen a young person in EastEnders once, four years ago during a plot where Fatboy steals a parrot from a magician or some such shit. After a weak third series, PhoneShop redeemed itself with the ultimate parody of UK road rap, with its sloppy metaphors, shushing backgrounders and slo-mo delivery.
It might even be the best rap parody I’ve ever seen — from that obligatory Taliban mention to the threats to sleep with your missus, it captures a subculture that’s doomed never to crossover without heavy compromise and it’s actually better than all UK rap, because our take on rap in 2013 is either JD Sports garms and bandana waving in the hood, Boxpark fodder that’s all murals, shitty streetwear brands and beatboxing, chart stuff that’s just a novelty record that won’t fuck off (because careers seem to be sustained by imbeciles and social media) or it’s practiced by people who look like they steal lead off of church roofs and like to engage in terrible rap battles that are mostly AIDS jokes in front of a crowd of excitable people in Supreme Being sweatshirts. Westwood was always right to ditch our own produce in favour of DMX and Diplomats and I hope that this sketch stops people making UK rap forever.
What’s the situation with these (scrapped?) Supreme x Nas images? Looks like a photo shoot that should have happened a long, long time ago and something that could cause a hype situation if it appears on cotton sometime soon. There’s a lot of rappers out there who don’t look at home in that kind of gear — they’re on that Karmaloop trolleydash non-steez or (insert Zumiez stocked brand here) surprise box anti-swagger. Nas looks at home in it.
The ad above is another late 1990s Small Earth ad (I posted a sumo wrestler in XIs one here a couple of years back) dating back to 1998. French-made adi, a selection of Jordans and a handful of cult 1985-era Nikes were worth money to Grand Rapids, Michigans buy and resell to Japan enterprise. Chuck Vander Hoek and his business partner capitalised on the Japanese kids coming into their vintage clothing stores to set up this targeted business — some OG American resellers. Anyone shifting their Hawaiis to them for $63 was probably jumping for joy. If only they knew…
I never got down with the whole toy thing because I’m old, every release was more expensive than I ever anticipated and because some dickhead decided to call them things like “urban vinyl” to justify being over the age of 11 and still buying action figures. That doesn’t stop me needing the new life-size Medicom Gizmo, complete with puffballs of potential mayhem caused by a clumsy Corey Feldman. I still kick myself that I never got hold of the Medicom Bride of Chucky era Good Guy doll replica, so despite the $300+ price tag (nostalgia is an expensive industry), I need Medicom’s latest foray into the Mogwai species in my life. Gizmo is the pet I always wanted and ownership doesn’t mean the fear of having a dubious stereotype knock at the door to claim him back, or the potential annihilation of my hometown.
Bobbito Garcia’s Where’d You Get Those? is the greatest book on sports footwear ever written by a long, long way. There’s a few books on the topic en route, but nothing touches this 2003 tome’s authority and sense of actually being there and hoarding AF1s at least a decade ahead of the majority. By cutting off at 1987 (bar his section on slept-on classics) to avoid the influx of gimmickry that dropped in the years that followed. The Where’d You Get Those? 10th Anniversary Edition drops in November after being out of print for a few years and it looks like Bobbito has wisely avoided any temptation to go beyond the cutoff year for this one. However, that proposed cover, is an abomination compared to Brent Rollins’ masterful work on the original release.
A while ago I wrote an interview with the mind behind SOTech. It’s pretty detailed and worth reason if you’re inclined toward military gear and tired of milspec’s misuse of late. My eagle eyed partner-in-hype Charlie Morgan spotted the SOT-BLK gear crop up in Union — the fruits of SOTech’s work with Rob Abeyta Jr (who has a military background and is who I would want on my side in a brawl situation) — with the near-invincible baggage that’s created for battle conditions is tweaked slightly for everyday use. If you’re going to protect your blank Moleskine and copy of Monocle you never got past page 17 on, it’s good to know that if those parachutes drop en masse, your MacBook will be protected during the subsequent fight for freedom. The SOT-BLK Mactac bag is a tweak on a design originally created post 2008 Mumbai attacks for anti terrorism gear to be kept in a single bag. It’ll be interesting to see how the recent moves to get the U.S. military share a single camo pattern affects contractors and manufacturers, but this is perfect baggage for the disorganised and accident prone. Built to survive the world’s worst and ideal if you wake up and you’re the last living blogger on the planet.
While I keep hunting the rest of this W)Taps GRIND shoot, I recommend listening to this William Friedkin interview, where he discusses throwing out some Basquiat paintings, meeting Darby Crash and naming Sorcerer after Miles Davis’ 1967 album (which is also discussed in his fine memoir, The Friedkin Connection). Sorcerer is a slow burner, but that exposition and slow-burn tension pays off, so it’s good to hear that one of the most underrated films of the 1970s (a notorious flop) is coming to Blu-ray in remastered form. Friedkin’s approach to audio is something deserving of more than the current bare-bones, half-arsed DVD release. Despite his reputation for rages on set, Friedkin’s opinions, co-signs and evident passion for the craft are admirable.
It’s a film-related blog entry today rather than the usual clothing/shoe/rap babble. As a child of the video rental and regional late night movie selection, Michael Winner has long been a figure of fascination to me. Later in his lifetime, Winner trolled the nation by using his News of the World column to moan about Boots screwing up his negatives while getting a second set of photographs developed, and bragged about his lavish lifestyle with a remorselessness and regularity that was presumably tongue-in-cheek, but his film career had substantial share of moments, despite his reputation for hackery. Winner’s Death Wish trilogy had a huge impact on me, installing a love of the vigilante b-movie that I’ve never quite shaken. While I got my hands on Glickenhaus’ The Executioner and Lustig’s Vigilante (both referenced here a great deal), the first Death Wish eluded me for decades, with only Death Wish 2 screened on UK TV (in which Charlie looks at his most stylish in the beanie and sweatshirt combo) and part 3 being my video store rental of choice for its all out stupidity.
Why a slightly edited Death Wish 2 was deemed acceptable over the other two remains a mystery — with its gratuitous duo of rapes and sleazier atmosphere (Larry Fishburne’s bad guy ‘Cutter’is significantly more vocal than Jeff Goldblum’s ‘Freak #1’ in the first film). The Death Wish films were sheer exploitation, but all my favourite films of the era can be summed up succinctly with those two words. Michael Winner (alongside Frank Henenlotter and seemingly every alleyway scene in every NYC film between 1979 and 1987) had me assuming that on a brief trip to New York, you’d have a switchblade pulled out on you by a garishly dressed, sunglasses, jive talking, ragtag, multiracial gang before you’d even exited JFK. How was I to know that Death Wish 3 wasn’t even filmed in Brownsville? It was shot in London, as Bombin’ would later educate me, with Brim being spoken to by Michael Winner as if he was a toddler halfway through that classic hip-hop documentary. Brim was right about the film’s negative portrayals, but Death Wish 3 is still my flu bed flick of choice — starve a cold, feed a fever and treat both with exposure to Charlie blasting perps via bazookas and Gatling guns.
Beyond Charlie Bronson shooting fleeing perps, Winner’s early works — after a start shooting random documentaries and teen craze cash-ins — with Oliver Reed, like the moddish The System and I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname bear a certain Britishness and mild subversiveness (the latter got into some censor issues for its use of the word “fucking” while the former had Nicolas Roeg on cinematography) shine among the unfunny comedies (which he’d later echo with 1990’s slapstick monstrosity Bullseye!). The Nightcomers with Marlon Brando is nigh-on unwatchable, but as a lead up to The Turn of the Screw it seemed to preempt the wave of horror flick prequels by a few years. Winner evidently had a knack for westerns — Lawman is pleasantly vicious in a post Wild Bunch kind of way and Chato’s Way brings Charles Bronson to the fore for a superior First Blood style revenge scramble.
The Mechanic is a lean, muscular movie that, as the remake proved in its anaemia, has that 1972 grit that comes as standard and is tough to replicate. The Big Sleep with Robert Mitchum in the lead isn’t nearly as bad as its reputation indicates, but Winner’s final non-Bronson standout is 1977’s The Sentinel (which you can watch here) that sits alongside The Omen as a grand, star-studded spectacle that goes further than Tod Browning’s vengeful misfits by casting real life people with deformities as denizens of hell, but has some Christopher Walken and Sarandon weirdness, and genuinely disturbing goings on.
Worthy of mention just for its blend of soap opera style production values and performance with random bursts of phenomenally poor taste, 1984 home invasion thriller Scream For Help (available to watch here) also has John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (after Jimmy Page, who scored Death Wish 2 couldn’t do it) on soundtrack duties. No matter how much time passes, Winner’s later work like Dirty Weekend and Parting Shots remain unwatchable. He was no Ken Russell, but the eclecticism of his work (some might cruelly call it hackery and argue that it had a constant in its mediocrity) meant Winner’s work is deserving of attention. Even more bizarrely, he was lined up to direct Captain America back when Cannon had the rights in 1984 (which eventually ended up being made by Albert Pyun and released in 1990 with JD Salinger’s son Matt as the lead). This incident, as recounted by Jim Shooter from that period casts a dark shadow on the whole thing though. Still, they don’t make them like Michael any more and, given the tidal wave of appalling January film burials hitting the cinema over the last few weeks, it’s a good time to reevaluate Winner’s contribution to the industry. Right wing, reactionary, sexist and condescending traits are bad things at a dinner party but good when you’re panning for scuzzy b-movie gold.
I’m still waiting to see that Bad Brains documentary, A Band in D.C. (which seems to have annoyed Darryl Jenifer), but in the meantime, the Afro-Punk documentary from 2003 is up on YouTube in its entirety. It’s a solid depiction of racial identity in a realm perceived as whiteboy central.
Because there wasn’t enough imagery in this entry, here’s two ads for tiger stripe camouflage from around 1969, when the Vietnam conflict had somehow sold it to outdoors types as a hunting aid.
Festivus is with us again, which usually calls for a Frank Costanza-esque airing of grievances. For a couple of years I ran some kind of hastily compiled list of things I hated the most — largely compiled from my Twitter feed and exceeding anything of any real importance — in the preceding year. But then the last one did the Twitter and Tumblr rounds and the kind of people that the semi-concealed clumsy subliminals were aimed at were strangely excited about it, oblivious to the fact I wasn’t too keen on them. So I can’t be bothered to do another one. Hate’s too easy too and at this time of year I can barely muster the bile — there’s too much misery out there in the news, so a bunch of poorly built home truths is a distasteful addition. Especially when the world ends tomorrow.
I would have included: People who dress head to toe in hyped apparel mocking people dressed similarly by calling them “Hypebeasts”, people that believe dickriding in Instagram comments is the fast track to success, people that describe their WordPress as an “online magazine,” the death of mystique by brands and stores asking their legion of fans how they’re doing on a Monday morning like a talkative taxi driver, people that start editorial-led projects who can’t photograph, write, style, design or offer any form of Teflon business plan and are subsequently surplus to requirements, any form of middle person who simply slows down the communication and cash chain, people that ask you to follow them on social media, people that write “RT” after Tweets, people that fill Facebook with links to fictional motivational quotes that no great mind of the 20th century ever said, people that want you to phone them back to discuss what they could have emailed you in a single (easier to dismiss) sentence, people that think you’ve turned into a prima donna because you don’t feel like working for them for free, people that get so angry about mediocre sports footwear they wouldn’t be into if it wasn’t hyped up that they call everyone a reseller and make you like resellers way more than “sneakerheads”, people that put a full stop in front of an @ response so they can broadcast a conversation to everyone, nothing being allowed to be “quite good” any more because it has to be a classic or else it’s a crushing letdown, PR companies paid to represent a brand they know or care nothing about excitedly sharing links to sites barely rehashing press releases because said PR company gave them the shoes/jeans/t-shirt/hate (delete as applicable), blogs posting exactly what a bigger blog has posted and expecting anyone (bar the aforementioned PR company) to care, anyone who still clings onto “selling out” as a negative, a Benjamin Button in a snapback world of such regressed adulthood that any normal activity that isn’t prancing around getting hyped over complete crap is deemed “grown man shit”, multiple recaps of launch parties laden with exactly the same fucking people where any right-minded person would have zero aspiration to attend, tiny credits that nobody ever clicks through for the provider of content for an entire post on a blog complete with a click-through gallery of every image (thus eliminating any reason to ever visit the source site), that secret project that somebody heavy handedly alludes to over a period of time that nearly always turns out to be crushingly mediocre, the people that announce to the world pre or just post New Year that “This is my year” and then do absolutely nothing except Tweet turgid guff, people that think they’re being “hated on” or “trolled” and spend much of their time explaining this but are actually just hateful wankers who bring it on themselves and cry themselves to sleep (hopefully), people that call Supreme “Preme,” paranoid people that assume that this blog post is about them (word to Carly Simon), people that think they’re curating things because they take pictures of free stuff and anybody that doesn’t realise that most brands they’re all over are no better than that HYPE streetwear Dave brand.
Now sneering at menswear and influencer culture is easily available (and more articulately executed) elsewhere, there’s little call for it here at this moment in time, plus Keef said it better than I ever could too. Salutes to everybody who just gets on with it and will quietly make powermoves in 2013. Anyway, how can I be angry while that Estelle Hanania portrait of Giorgio Moroder from the excellent feature on him in ‘PIG Quarterly’ (thank you, Sofarok) exists? Can’t do it. It’s also hard to be angry after BKRW put me onto Yan Morvan’s French gang photography that’s the subject of a new book (‘Gangs Story’), videos and an exhibition soon.