Tag Archives: black flag

CONCRETE

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Salutes to Charlie Morgan for putting me onto Jenkem’s post that highlighted the YouTube appearance of Concrete Jungle — a lost documentary on the link between hip-hop and skating. I’m sure I saw this on IMDB a couple of years ago and had a fruitless Google hunt film assuming that it would appear officially one day (I’m still holding out for the Harry Jumonji documentary too). But suddenly it’s online. Concrete Jungle feels like a more commercial companion piece to Deathbowl To Downtown, and where Deathbowl had Chloë Sevigny on narration duties, this one has her Kids buddy Rosario Dawson talking the viewer through proceedings.

Directed by SHUT and Zoo York co-founder Eli Morgan Gesner, and executive produced by QDIII (Quincy Jones’ son), it’s part of the lineage of straight-to-DVD releases that began with Tupac documentaries, the compelling Beef series and some genuinely insightful work like The Freshest Kids, Infamy and the Christian Hosoi bio, Rising Son. Sadly, QD3 Entertainment seemed to end in 2011, leaving Concrete Jungle in limbo. Beyond the unnecessary motion graphics and Gangland style anonymous hip-hop beats, there’s loads of good stuff in it — I would argue that more New Deal and Underworld Element talk (seeing as a mohawked Andy Howell is in it), some Menace, extra Chocolate, and Mike Carroll in conversation (who really joined the dots for me in Virtual Reality) over a little too much talk of the Muska Beatz album would have been a better move. But here’s the thing about critiquing a documentary like this — keeping everybody happy would be nigh-on impossible, and getting a dream roster of talking heads to sit and break it down would be a hellish ordeal of timings and shifting equipment from state to state. Plus the thing is supposed to appeal to the person who doesn’t know who Sal Barbier or the Fu-Schnickens are anyway.

Concrete Jungle really finds its form (and to judge a documentary’s pacing based on a rough cut would be unfair) as it approaches the mid-way point, when the early Zoo York footage appears and there’s some good information on the Tunnel’s legendary half-pipe. It’s a testament to the speed that things have evolved (see Wiz Khalifa’s recent ownage at the hands of Supreme LA’s staff) and the rise of Odd Future, Yelawolf (who can actually skate) and co, plus Weezy’s admirable but faintly doomed determination to be respected as a skater, that this documentary seems deeply dated in many ways — a good thing, because skateboarding is so multiracial and rooted in rap right now that, after just 8 years since filming wrapped on this project, its seems weird that it would be seen as anything different. In a world where Rick Ross and DJ Khaled might make a Vine appearance teetering on a skateboard in a You’ve Been Framed style tipsy dad on a Variflex one Christmas afternoon wave, things definitely done changed.

On the documentary subject, The Decline of Western Civilisation has been discussed here a lot — Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris’ trilogy is pretty much perfect, and part three is a perfect companion to Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark’s Streetwise (which I urge you to watch — especially after Mary Ellen Mark’s recent passing). Different generations of Los Angeles musicians and hard-living kids make it a set of films that are amusing and disturbing in near-equal qualities. For nigh-on 15 years, thedeclineofwesterncivilization.com has been promising a DVD release. I gave up hope, just as I abandoned the idea of Dr Jives’ webshop opening after four years of a holding page. But at the end of the month we get to watch Darby Crash and a tarantula, Black Flag before they became their own tribute band, Claude Bessy ranting, Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. disappointing his mum while floating in a swimming pool, plus this absolute bellend, in Blu-ray quality. Part III (from 1998) is a rawer affair that’s been tough to track down, but Shout! Factory and Second Sight are putting it out as a boxset. When BBC2 showed the second film in late 1989 as part of Heavy Metal Heaven, hosted by Elvira (which also included Guns ’n’ Roses Live at the Ritz, a lost Zeppelin show and a show about thrash metal), it changed my life for the better. The prospect of bonus footage alone makes my hands shake enough to spill orange juice like Ozzy.

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COMMERCIALS



As an angry late teen, I loved Crass’ music — I still do — but I’m more than aware that my frequent flirtation with big brands is at odds with the group’s ideals. I’m content to be a sellout though. Before I became an apathetic thirtysomething (there’s plenty of room for a mid-life crisis where I start wearing a nose ring and start squatting after a year abroad) it was Crass who taught me the true meaning of anarchy (though, to be fair, Snufkin in The Moomins gave me a good grounding on its philosophies when I was a lot younger) and plenty of their music still holds up today, not least because it retains an intelligence and subversion (that romance magazine flexidisc stunt was ingenious) that’s still vital. Through all the aggressive imagery (via Gee Vaucher) and anger, Crass’ logo gave their work a legitimacy and Dave King’s snake-wrapped cross is a classic piece of band branding. Scott Campbell is a fan too, judging by his appearance here.

MOCA’s Art of Punk series has been superb — the Black Flag edition was incredible (the only band logo I would have — and do have — tattooed on me) and the Crass episode is equally superb. King’s decision to avoid elements touching to make it perfect stencil fodder was a masterful one. While I’d seen all Raymond Pettibon’s Black Flag flyers, I’d never seen the retaliation art that Pettibon quietly unleashed in fury to parody Chuck Dukowski and Greg Ginn after his work was used (and dissected) on the Loose Nut album cover, leading to some legendarily bad blood between Raymond and Greg.

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Having spent part of my teenage years absorbing Iceberg Slim and Chester Hines’ novels and carrying on like that kid on the cover of Ice-T’s Home Invasion cover, I have a soft spot for Mr Slim’s work. Still, it’s curious to see the pimp portrayed as hero in popular culture `(that Don ‘Magic” Juan Emerica shoe was one of the most misjudged projects in years) given the strong-arm tactics and manipulation that Iceberg describes. I support the Seagal Out For Justice pimp-through-the-windscreen technique, but there’s still a certain mystique to the late 1960s and 1970s world of pimpdom (I blame Willie Hutch and Max Julien) and that curious regressive, showboating but squalid realm that the Hughes Brothers’ American Pimp explored. It’s easy to see how such ostentatious characters could fire a kid’s imagination when they saw them in their neighborhood.



Iceberg Slim did a solid job of depicting the trade as seedy, dangerous and vicious and I’m still fascinated by his tales of mentor Sweet Jones (R.I.P. Pimp C) who was apparently based on a character called Albert Bell who went by the name “Baby” Bell (no relation to the wax covered cheeses). Anyway, is glamorising pimpdom any worse than deifying the bullying, psychotic actions of mobsters who murdered their way into popular culture? Ice-T has produced the documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp about the man and the myth around him. That footage of his masked 1968 chatshow appearance (shouts to Blue Howard) is tremendous.

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With a Le Coq Sportif resurrection currently going down, it’s a good time to admire this reflective, hybrid vintage running top that recently sold at Diggermart. Like Cool V’s Le Coqs next to Biz’s Safaris on the Goin’ Off sleeve, it’s pretty damned hip-hop. On that topic, the 1988 commercial below (filmed from a TV on camera) for Baltimore’s Charley Rudo Sports showcases an array of Le Coq Sportif athletic pullovers as the new thing. You need to pay homage to Rudo’s sporting empire because alongside two other Baltimore sport shops they brought the Nike Air Force 1 back. Without them, that reign post-1983 may well have never happened.



While we’re talking about Le Coq Sportif and its old location, check out the commercial for Harput’s in its Oakland location circa 1988 after the Richmond location closed. Check the Fila selection but more importantly, anyone hitting the sale to grab the Nike Air Windrunners they showcased was in luck. Not only is the brown Escape edition there, but the even more fiendishly rare Escape Windrunner in lighter tones (weren’t the AM90 Escape II and the Escape Huarache based on those colours?). The SF location of Harput’s is still one of the greatest stores I ever visited.


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Zak’s in San Leandro deserves a shout for its Slacks, slacks and more slacks, selection of Lotto, the suede jacket guy, their Cazals and an array of Bocci silk shirts.

KNIVES & CHOPSTICKS

While there’s a frighteningly comprehensive movie firearms database, there’s no decent movie knife database and it’s a shame. I’m currently researching some classic cinematic blades for another project and while this Wiki was set up, it never really took off. I’ve noticed that people take knives as seriously as I take other things and why not? They’re beautiful, tactile items, provided they’re not sticking out your body. I never knew that Rutger Hauer’s switchblade in ‘The Hitcher’ was a custom Jeff Harkins Triton or that Emilio Estevez wields an extremely rare Bali Song butterfly knife during one of my favourite scenes in my favourite movie (check the thread here).

My two favourite knives, wielded by two genuinely scary characters, but unique enough to become an extension of the villain themselves, is the Night Slasher from ‘Cobra’s spiked knuckleduster knife (custom-made by Herman Schneider and later stolen, but seemingly turning up in ‘New Jack City’ 5 years later), a weapon so awesome it made me like the movie, despite the rest of it being dire and ‘Geraldine’ as wielded by Alan Arkin’s sleazy Harry Roat in 1967’s ‘Wait Until Dark.’ Geraldine is a gravity knife set inside a small statue of a woman, made in Italy as part of a run of 5 for the movie. Roat’s goth-beatnik look, with the sunglasses and leather jacket (in fact there’s a few great coats in the film on the villains), plus that final leap, makes him a memorable protagonist, but it’s Geraldine that really sets him apart from other bad guys. I can’t buy an official replica of Geraldine to keep as multiples in the cutlery drawer, but you can buy a Night Slasher repro.

It’s the switchblades that inspire the most dedication though, with this forum thread pretty much covering every screen blade to ever pop out with a satisfying click — it’s good to know what Polanski slashed Jack’s nose with in ‘Chinatown’ (a Rizzuto copy apparently), but oAROWANAo’s multi-part ‘Switchblades in the Movies’ series on YouTube is insane, covering the weapon’s appearance in movies between 1920 and 2009…89 years of slashy cameos, from backstabbing sneaks to cocaine testing from its tip. There’s a certain beauty to this device and its presence onscreen as silencer, negotiator and executioner is unbeatable.

Oscar from 1992 blogging Educated Community ‘zine covers reminded me of the couple off later issues I have in black bags somewhere. The whole New York for a Japanese visitor demographic was pretty unique and while it never came back after a #15/#16 double issue. Salutes to Yuka Iwakoshi (former X-Girl manager), Atsuko Tanaka, Hiroyuki Hatakeyama & Masaki Matsui Inada for putting in the work and documenting something genuinely interesting before the variations on a theme and global community aura deaded that aspirational downtown clubhouse mystique and made everyone feel involved. This site is promising an archive book and it’s something I’m keen to see — the fanzine’s end in 2005 feels timely, with the blog rising at that point as the new mode of education. Still, what made noise between 1999 and 2005 seems to be slowly disappearing from the internet as hosting bills aren’t paid and Google finds new ways to put the last week’s content at the forefront of a search.

Mr Chris Law sent me this video of the story of the Rip City Black Flag skateboard that fascinated me when I saw it in ‘Skateboard’ magazine a few years after that original release. The wrongly screened bars and the spray paint solution is amazing. As David Markey’s ‘We Got Power’ gets an official UK release in January, there seems to be a brief tie-in, with Jordan Schwartz involved in both the board and the book. The 1984 ‘Thrasher’ ads were pleasantly low-key and lo-fi — a Hosoi and Black Flag crossover is nice moment as bluesy misery sludge meets the aerial master’s long-haired kamikaze look.

Now that a decent burger is as ubiquitous in central London as a Starbucks and that for a few hours there was an In-N-Out on these shores, I’ll stop moaning about a dearth of the ultimate foodstuff. I don’t care about a lack of reservations or that everywhere is manned by mustachioed men in scoop neck tees with hand tattoos, just as long as their burgers are good. So what about the ramen? I wanted an Ippudo in London, but it looks like their spot’s being covered on the tonkotsu front. For years I yearned for bowls of pale fat-flecked cholesterol for lunch but could only find other ramen variants. Nagomi did a decent version but booking and peculiar opening hours put me off. Then a restaurant that called itself Tonkotsu opened up, but a Japanese friend recommended somewhere else for a non-porky variant having been disappointed by their noodles.

I’ve had my eye on Bone Daddies on Peter Street (opposite Supreme, to create an axis of food and noodle hype) since ex-Nobu head chef Ross Shonhan displayed an obvious enthusiasm for tonkotsu in this interview. It didn’t disappoint (and was half price for the opening weekend too), with that salty complexity in the broth and an egg that was boiled properly rather than neglected until it’s white and beige (Shonhan understands the importance of the egg to a good bowl or ramen. As time goes on, that bowl should get better and better (Bone Daddies had barely been open longer than the 20 hour pork bone boil when I visited). The killer application (figuratively and literally) was the extra pipette of pork fat I added to mine for 50p. All dishes should come with the pipette option. When I fall to the ground, clutching my chest, you can blame the tonkotsu and that greasy, clinically applied optional extra, but I regret nothing.

EMILIO ESTEVEZ'S PUNK PHASE

And I’m still recycling my Black  Lodges blogs…

Lately I’ve been pondering as to why Emilio Estevez was the major studio’s punk rocker of choice back in the early ’80s. On face value, he fits the mould as a varsity jacketed jock or rough-edged clown (as demonstrated in his Mickey Mouse tee-wearing, ‘Two-Bit’ Matthews turn in ‘The Outsiders’) than he does as a punk rocker.

Continue reading EMILIO ESTEVEZ'S PUNK PHASE