This week was a good one. As a result, there’s no rants on here whatsoever. The highlight was meeting Ray Barbee briefly at the Vans OTW spot in Berlin. It’s not cool to fan out, but it’s a natural response if it’s somebody you looked up to as a kid. I’ve only felt the lurching out-of-body fan reaction when I’m speaking to my childhood heroes — it happened during a conversation with Big Daddy Kane a few years back, and it very nearly happened during throwaway words with Mr. Barbee. It’s that flashback during an interaction to watching something or gawping at an LP cover with a feeling of distant awe a few decades prior, then realising that you’re chatting with that near-mythical individual. In 1988 and 1989 I watched Steve Saiz, Ray Barbee, Eric Sanderson and Chet Thomas’s ‘Public Domain’ section on repeat. I even held a tape recorder up to the TV speakers to get an audio copy of McRad’s ‘Weakness.’
Barbee in ‘Public Domain’ evokes a summer of listening to Run-DMC’s underrated ‘Tougher Than Leather’ and being apprehended by local metallers who were at least six years older than me who saw my ‘Killers’ t-shirt and asked me what my favourite Iron Maiden album was — on claiming that it was ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ they said, “Fuck off! It’s got keyboards on it” and proceeded to rub crisps into my mullet hairdo. Traumatic times. I have strong evidence that one of the gang was Chris Law, formerly of Crooked Tongues, adidas Originals and now a Converse resident in Boston. I’ll have my revenge one day.
Other than the KP/hair incident, it’s a time I remember fondly, but Ray and his boys had style, flow and an aggression, fluidly merging vert and freestyle elements with something new that transformed everybody’s perception of the landscape around them as we rode like grems — barely able to ollie — while performing our best vocal impressions of the ‘Weakness’ riff. I was a terrible skater, but in my head I was in that sequence. The skating, soundtrack and black and white film was an epiphany moment for me — it never made me a pro skater, but it fueled my preoccupation with sub-cultures. My mum said that preoccupation would never get me anywhere…and she was nearly right. But it got me to Berlin to meet Ray Barbee.
Now Stacy Peralta’s ‘Bones Brigade’ has debuted at Sundance (according to Hitfix, “Bones Brigade” also features cameos from the likes of Shepard Fairey, Ben Harper and Fred Durst, whose every appearance earned loud and vocal derision from the premiere night crowd.”), I assume that I won’t be alone in this 1980’s skateboard nostalgia this year. Flicking through a book and finding a RAD magazine sticker reminds me of the stickers that preempted the quest for Supreme box logos. These things are as evocative of 1988 as Powell’s VHS effort. I’m no OBEY fan, but their ‘Who is Chuck Treece?’ video on that story behind ‘Weakness’s inclusion from 2010 was excellent, as was Slap’s Ray Barbee ‘Public Domain’ commentary. Ray Barbee seemed like a nice bloke.
Another of the week’s highlights was the news that Giorgio Moroder would score Kim Jones’ menswear show for Louis Vuitton in Paris on Thursday. My preoccupation with Moroder’s work has been made clear here
many times. Donna Summer, his classic ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘Midnight Express’s soundtrack are implemented and bombers, sharp, slim tailoring and some more eccentric elements are perfectly deployed to the tempo. The shiny metallic details, PARIS belts and headwear evoke something very contemporary, with some cues from a time when McDonalds coffee stirrers were perfect for cocaine usage (I like how the long-cancelled 1970’s freebies are listed as McDonalds Coke Spoon on eBay) for those doing bumps on a budget. So we know about Giorgio’s Cizeta-Moroder supercar creation and that he was trying to put together a musical called ‘Spago’ but ended up giving the name to Wolfgang Puck for his restaurant, but there’s always time to re-up this image of him openly doing a hefty line of chop, with his yayo carrier looking on. Giorgio Moroder…legend. Salutes to Fast Fashion for upping the Louis, Kris Van Assche and Rick Owens shows.
‘Men’s File’ magazine has such a pleasant price point and a deeper level of content than any heritage cash in, that it’s more than a fad rider — the Uncle Ralph co-sign and frequent emphasis on motorbike culture, makes it seem like something targeted at those people who like to learn the history and profiles some of the individuals who seem to pull off past looks as if they never left, rather than looking like they just wandered off one of those sepia-effect wild west family photos at a theme park. With their pop-up opening the other week on Lamb’s Conduit Street, issue six of the magazine dropped too. Their The Curator online store deals in replicas, so if you can pull off a 1950s motorcycle cap without looking like a laughing-stock, you’re probably one of the chosen few who’d end up in the pages of the magazine. The new issue has dogs, vintage garments and profiles on bare-bones custom bike build pioneer Shinya Kimura and another hero of mine, Mr. Hitoshi Tsujimoto of The Real McCoy’s.
I also enjoyed this interview at ‘A Fist in the Face of God’ with Kick and Sindre of Nekromantheon that discusses the creative benefits of drinking corpse water.
Anybody else perplexed at Quentin Tarantino’s dismissal of ‘Drive’ in the “Nice Try” category of his best and worst of 2011 lists? Is there only room for one film in the wilfully surface level car movie throwback stakes? ‘Drive’ wasn’t ‘Grindhouse’ fodder, but it could easily have slotted into a 1985 video store themed sequel.