The NTV (Nike TV) project was a set of short films that were used internally and at retailers circa 1986. I’d heard rumours of what it consisted of (like Michael Jordan acting as presenter), but assumed that it was long gone. Jordy of Shoezeum obtained the tapes and put some snippets of them on his Instagram account — it’s very interesting, with some ultra nerdish elements like a tannery piece on the soft performance leather they introduced that year in addition to some Sesame Street style elder/younger chatter with Jordan. Even the familiar elements on the tapes, like the dynamic ‘Men at Work’ commercial for the Air Force II (which premiered the aforementioned leather) with Buck Williams, Charles Barkley, Alvin Robertson, Moses Malone and Sidney Moncrief going at it in the gym seems to be twice as long as the version you might be familiar with (incidentally, I really want to know who directed this advertisement). That video originated from Nike veteran Bruce Fisher’s collection and he upped some smart phone footage of the AFII extended cut on YouTube.
A while back I schemed to put something together regarding the relationship between hardcore and athletic shoes, but the task seemed colossal when it came to research and, crucially, I’m not qualified to write it. The connection between hip-hop and shoes has been mined to mediocrity in pursuit of content and, like some cultural fossil fuel, all that seems to be left — bar those untold stories and archives from those who were there — is fumes. In a cynical world, the do it yourself, self-powered earnestness of it all seems like the antithesis of a marketing grand plan. This ad from a 1986 Maximumrocknroll is just one of thousands of moments — the southern Californian band Half Off (rest in peace to Jim Burke) had a cult following and they briefly had a ‘zine-powered war of words with Youth Crew folks as mentioned in this Noisey Billy Rubin interview from a couple of years ago. The hand-drawn Vandal style Nike with the Terminator/Big Nike style lettering is a nice touch and on that topic hardcore connoisseur William Cathalina has put together a sneaker-centric ‘zine called Shoegazer, with issue #2 dedicated to shoes and the scene. The first run of 25 is long gone, but it’s worth giving him a shout via Instagram to see about a second run.
To some, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were one of those press-inflated flops of the 1980s, billed as the new thing — a glam sci-fi band with a loose dystopian dress code and apocalyptic Droog-like art direction, but incapable of maintaining the momentum of their Giorgio Moroder produced breakthrough. I think they were one of the great acts of that moment — a post Generation X creation who made a record that defines its era and maintained a mystique that had me fascinated. The sense of swindle and piss-taking that pervaded their work had some serious marketing dollars behind it. That promo extended to a 1986 MTV takeover called Sputnik Network Television that user result has upped onto YouTube. Presented by Tony James, who introduces Peter Gabriel videos, interviews shadowy record execs and Jennifer Gray, quizzes a spaniel and takes phone calls a young Futura 2000 is art guest, painting throughout in bike courier attire. Lenny gets a lot of screen time, mentioning his Fila boycott, but citing the brand as, “Sort of a street Gucci of 1986,” and expressing embarrassment at his Clash-produced solo single. A fantastic time capsule of its era that — as Lenny’s mention of his t-shirt line indicates — sows the seeds for plenty of interesting things that followed.
We’ve been down this road before, back when I used to dig up old newspaper promotions because I couldn’t think of any other stuff to fill the site with and justify an update. I ran out of ideas again, so I thought I’d get a little festive this evening. Nowadays you can tell what’s getting its price severed before it even goes on sale. You know if a product is doomed commercially from the second it’s leaked half a year ahead of release. Continue reading LATE TO THE SALES
It might have been online for a couple of years, but this video by Eli Morgan Gessner that edits together footage from 1986/1987 is a tribute to much-loved OG Shut crew member Beasley who passed away in the early 1990s. Loads of New York legends, Beasley street planting wearing the Iowa Dunk Hi and the Mr. Magic premiere of Nobody Beats the Biz blared from a boombox around the time it happened makes this footage priceless. I was slack with the updates this week. I promise I’ll try harder this weekend. Just watch this instead.
No update today because I’m busy selling my soul elsewhere. With ‘Air Max Day’ (possibly created by Mayor Quimby) looming, for which I supplied some writing, it had me wondering why some Air Max models have never made a comeback. The AM1 has been played out for a minute, but there’s other chapters that deserve attention — Sergio Lozano (designer of the Air Max 95) had one of his finest non-95/Air Mada moments with the Air Tuned Max in 1999. I recall going to short-lived club Home late the year that these released and the hefty queue being heavy with Tuned Max. Then, despite having some of the best ads ever, the technology seemed to vanish. Those Alpha Project designs were ahead of their time. When the excellent Air Max Deluxe appeared the following year, the sole seemed to switch back to the 97 unit, which seemed like a regressive touch, but the Air Max 2000 and Air Max 2001 (or was it the Air Max Ecstasy?) brought back the five-dotted Tuned Air. Three years of the same unit seemed questionable. Then the overlooked Air Max 2002 got all progressive and dropped tubular Air on us. The failure of that instalment meant that the 2003 reverted back to a six-year-old air unit. That always seemed like an admission of defeat to me. I’m guessing that bringing back the Tuned Max unit wouldn’t be cheap, given the weird piston-powered, multiple pressure, multiple chamber nature of that particular technology.
Shouts to Garmsville for putting me onto this documentary about Soho circa-1986 that includes Mr. Jason Jules making an appearance at the Wag Club.
I’ve written about it here before, but the last outpost of untapped Jordan greatness is the Italian-made Air Jordan II. A comparative commercial failure on its launch, Peter Moore and Bruce Kilgore’s creation is one of the best shoe designs ever. I don’t know if it was production numbers or the fact that Nike — stung after dropping 15+ variations of the first shoe not including the Air Jordan Knock Off edition — kept it a little tighter. Thus, the Air Jordan II has a little more magic to it. And the fact that none are wearable means you never see a pair on anyone’s feet, thanks to Polyurethane’s decay during dormant years in a box. Then there’s the near-mythical tennis shoes and KO edition that I’ve only ever seen pictures of. Apparently former Nike marketing kingpin made an exaggerated guess in 1986 that one in twelve Americans owned a pair of Air Jordans, which makes current hype look a little tame. While I’d seen the print and TV ads with IMAGINATION on for the shoe, I hadn’t seen the one above before and I never knew that the Jordan II was originally called the Imagination, back in the shoe’s early days. There’s little mystery around anything any more, particularly shoes we grew up with, but the Jordan II is a shoe with stories to tell.