Flicking through an old issue of The Face the other day, I spotted Harry Jumonji modelling some Subware, reminding me that he has a habit of appearing in some relatively unlikely places. That had me Googling the recently screened documentary and I hadn’t realised that “OG” the Story of Harry Jumonji and the Birth of NYC Street Skating was online to rent or buy right now. The trailer has been drifting around for three years and the documentary includes footage shot seven years ago, resulting in something that gives a deeper overview of Jumonji’s life, up to his recent Go Fund Me aided return to Brazil courtesy of director Erica Hill. The letters O.G. are thrown about with little justification, but with Jumonji, we’re dealing with a true originator — Brazil’s best surfer turned skater who was forcefully sent to NYC by his dad where he helps father the city’s scene, with Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law putting him onto the Brooklyn Banks. It’s clear that Harry was a pioneer alongside fellow legend Andy Kessler (R.I.P.), and the film offers a sensitive portrayal of both its subject’s life as well as telling some of Kessler’s story.
Every drug addict has their “coulda been a contender” spiel, but in this case, it’s true — the local celebrity and cult hero could have been a superstar like friend Christian Hosoi who ended up with his fair share of demons, but, as the blunt talk of those relapses and incarceration testifies, Jumonji hasn’t come out the other side like Hosoi quite yet. The no-bullshit talk from associates like Tony Converse, shocking scene of heroin snorting, and situation with his child — echoing a distant relationship with his own dad — don’t give the Harry Jumonji story any easy Hollywood narratives, but his charisma and curious optimism in some doomed surroundings make him a likeable subject. This hustler since childhood lives that shambolic junkie life, but, just as those NYC skaters had to make do with the terrain they were given, he still has a lot of style both on the board and off it. It’s both a cautionary tale and it’s a celebration of a character who embodies the worldview every streetwear brand wants to sell. Most of us aren’t built for it, so we’re better off with just the t-shirt. Hopefully between that overseas excursion, this film and the recent Know-Wave and Supreme supported ”OG” book, Harry Jumonji is on the road to greater recognition and some positive steps that, in an ideal world’ will give us the slightly happier follow-up one day. Go rent it.
It’s almost a never forgive action that I had no idea that ESPO and REAS’s one-minute Style Wars the Musical short (which, for a moment a while back, I thought was actually a trailer for a full off-Broadway musical) was online via its production company, ApK. This video (on a slightly faraway screen in the Street Market 2 recreation) was one of the highlights of a trip to the Art in the Streets show at MoCa LA back in 2011 — now I want to see a full version of Skeme and his mum’s big number. There have been a lot of magnificent tributes to this iconic documentary throughout the years, but this is one of the very best.
There’s a two-part drama miniseries on the way that’s entirely based on the adidas/PUMA rivalry. Am I the only person excited at the prospect of a three-hour film about the Dassler brothers? The apocryphal tales of a misunderstanding over the supposed “the dirty bastards are back again” remark/unsubstantiated accounts of infidelity or Barbara Smit’s more feasible history of the family feud have long fascinated me and I’m interested to see which version makes it to screen. Adi and Rudi’s post WWII contempt for each other is the stuff of legends, and this German-language production was titled Die Dasslers in its origin country and will be retitled Rivals Forever: the Sneaker Battle (I would prefer The Dasslers, but I appreciate that it probably wouldn’t draw the crowds) for its subtitled distribution. Whether it’s going to be a two-parter outside Germany or a single film (it’s even up for offer to potential distributors/broadcasters as four 45-minute episodes) is up in the air, but the trailer — which you can view right here — makes it look quite appealing. I’d likes to see more shoe related dramas in the future — a Bowerman series, a biopic of PONY founder Roberto Muller and his wild ‘80s antics, a Reebok vs Nike production and a slapstick comedy about Nike’s Steph Curry presentation starring Seth Rogan.
I’m fascinated by how some prices stay static — or, in some cases, are less than they were 30 years ago — while some have hyper inflated beyond the relative value of the pound or dollar. I’ve seen reissued adidas shoes with an RRP of less than they were in sports shops 25 years ago and I’ve seen Air Jordans from 1988 and 1989 with a 2016 price tag that’s more in line with inflation (the Air Jordan V was 90 pounds in 1990, which is the equivalent of roughly 200 pounds now), but the quality of materials – despite some romanticism regarding quality the first time around on some things — and disorienting dip from less than original RRP around 2006 on some retro releases to twice the amount a decade later, throws logic to the wayside. Since Fila got sold into multiple licensing deals, its early prestige was sullied. In 1984, the brand’s velour warm-up suits were selling at 268 dollars — over 600 dollars in today’s money. Now they can be bought for under 150 if you’re looking to dress like Roger Moore in A View to a Kill. Of course, the manufacturing wouldn’t come close to the Italian brand’s heyday, but any example of inflation reverse on that scale should dead any premium expectations.
Completely unrelated, but well worth watching, the conversation below is worth an hour of your time. As part of Harmony Korine’s Shadows and Loops show at his birthplace of Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts, he chatted with curator Mark Scala. There’s some cryptic laughter during the proceedings (and you’ll have to guess what the audience’s questions were from the answers), but, as with some lucid podcast interviews of late, there’s some good Korine trivia, like an account of his short-lived graffiti career. Part of me wants his shelved project Fight Harm to see the light of day, while the other part just wants to imagine how amazing it is.
There are a lot of Larry Clark interviews out there and Marc Maron’s WTF podcast is hardly obscure, but it’s always incredible and his chat with Clark last month is a valuable listen if you’re interested in the life events that informed his early work and career to date. That preoccupation with youth makes a sad kind of sense when he discusses his childhood, but for the most part it’s a spirited near 90 minute conversation that includes anecdote after anecdote and, quite rightly, talks about the superb Bully and high-intensity Another Day in Paradise with the reverence that those films deserve. To rise from that background and multiple relapses to helm the Dior Homme video that launched a week or so ago is a significant trajectory.
I’m almost speechless. Just bashing out “FUCK TRUMP” here would be trite and I feel like social media avatar activism is part of what got us into this shit storm. Hopefully we’ve not become so desensitised to the cause of the moment that we rant and break stuff until the new Emoji update distracts us. It’ll get a lot worse before it gets better.
One tiny sliver of positivity in this fuck up is the inevitable anger-driven art that will emerge. With that absolute dickhead set to make D.C. his home, let’s focus on a D.C. legend who helped make masterpieces under Reagan’s reign — the trailer for the Finding Joseph I documentary about the erratic, brilliant, troubled Bad Brains frontman did the rounds a couple of years ago, but there’s a new excerpt out there now via Small Axe and it looks very promising indeed. Continue reading BANNED IN D.C.
Clockers is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. An expansion of Spike Lee’s cinematic vision, aided by Richard Price’s forensic precision, it preempted the grittier, uncompromising procedural depth of The Wire years later (and Price was writer on several episodes, as well as HBO’s American remake of The Night Of). It also managed the feat of nearly topping the Crooklyn Dodgers’ classic 1994 all-star posse cut with a whole new roster and producer for the movie’s soundtrack. I only recently discovered that Saul Bass was very annoyed by the film poster’s Anatomy of a Murder tribute (resulting in an alternate edition with a more generic chalk outline character), telling Entertainment Weekly that, ”The convention is when anyone steals something, they call it an homage.” One-sheets aside, the film itself always felt fresh to me. On that topic, this movie and the previous year’s Fresh were a million miles from the ghetto clichés that distributors were buying up at the time and suffered as a result — those who wanted formulaic hood morality tales were bored, while an audience didn’t bother attending or renting because they thought it was going to be more of the same. This footage, uploaded by Zeke62 Nostalgia, of Ralph McDaniels presenting a Video Music Box show from the Clockers premiere party in 1995 is solid gold.