Tag Archives: david bowie

RARE

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Inspiration comes from some strange places. Residing relatively near Northampton, I had no idea that their museum held an enviable stash of sports footwear artifacts on display. I knew they had some in the museum and that there was a related event in early 2011, but I assumed it would be obvious releases for the easily excitable. Personally speaking, I have zero interest in seeing anything from the last 20 years on display anywhere, and the fruits of some presumed eBay activity here (if you sift through the battered nondescript runners in the mix) is better than most cynically compiled shoe expos. It’s all about the hi-top adidas (what is that Forum/Concord looking thing above?) they’re holding, including — seemingly out of nowhere — a Forum Hi box that displays the staggering late 1980s Foot Locker price of the shoe ($120), but no actual Forum His (I came across this Flickr account while hunting for Forum facts), plus some pioneeringly patent leather Made in France Concords (a shoe I’ve always loved and have extra affection for because they were the first store description I ever wrote for CT). There’s 1974 Jack Purcells, made two years after the Converse acquisition of the license from Goodrich as well as other oddball brand offerings. Sauntering in there and coming face to face with a pair of Nike Alohas would give me Stendhal syndrome. It’s a logical supplement to the region’s documentation of their legacy of shoemaking (as displayed in this beautiful set of late 19th and early 20th century factory shots), but I really slept on the Northampton Museum shoe stash.

On vaguely related topic, check out this Juan Epstein with Chi Ali where he briefly mentions his enviable shoe stash as a shorty and the Combat Jack show with Raekwon, where the Snow Beach garments are discussed.

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Shouts to Steven Vogel who seems to have solidified his long relationship with FC St. Pauli with the Streetcore line. Many stabs at football culture as a trend statement are the worst thing ever, but St Pauli isn’t your average kind of club. I’m conscious of being John Thompson’s football fan on ‘The Fast Show’ whenever I even play with football culture, but Mr. Vogel has worked well with the team’s already enviable array of skull and crossbones festooned merchandise for one of the few skull printed shirts to not make you want to scratch your eyeballs. He hasn’t just sourced the first black blank he saw either. Craig and the A Number of Names squad’s anon* sweatshirt on a Camber blank brings back a set in sleeved, puffy, US-made, body side paneled silhouette that resurrects the jock fit of a 1996 sweat from Slam, Bond or Dr Jives.

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Idea Books is one of the few email newsletters worth wasting thumb energy on when it shows up on your phone. Their Bowie-related acquisitions presumably always find a buyer at a high-profile brand to justify the cost. I’ve seen a few pages from a similar publication on a Bowie message board a few years back, but beyond the crotch shots and shiftlessness, this David Bowie Fan Club publication from 1973 is full of strange imagery that’s rarely seen anywhere else and the Idea crew are correct in commenting on how awesome the logo for Bowie and Tony DeFries’ MainMan company was. “Happy Hologram” is some pharmaceutical grade yayo copywriting. They’ve also uncovered a rare ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ poster that uses a tagline I’m more familiar with as an accompaniment the shot that’s also used as the ‘Low’ cover art. Go to their site and subscribe to their newsletter immediately, because what they spotlight doesn’t crop up on Amazon Marketplace too often.

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Idea also had a KLF ‘Fuck the Millennium’ kit from their Barbican show back in 1997 that sold out before they even needed to talk it up. As eBooks go, JMR Higgs’ ‘Chaos Magic Music Money’ is a great history of pretty much everything that inspired, parallels or echoes the KLF attitude. Immaculately researched, just as Bill Drummond’s ’45’ held back on delivering a comprehensive history of their exploits, Higgs’ book is a mass of tangents that, like the subject matter, makes its own sense. A linear history would erode the mystique and miss the point, while authorization would be even further from the Ford Galaxie tracks and defeat the object entirely. The author is a master of controlled digression and you should reward his hard work and talent by spending £4.54 on his work.

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BAWSE

Rick Ross might have shut down the internet for a few minutes on Friday, but Springsteen is still the true Bawse. Still, the prospect of a live E Street Band without Clarence is a troubling one. ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Jungleland’ won’t be the same without Clarence Clemons and judging by the laborious process to even find out if tickets for Springsteen’s London shows are still available, it looks like Ticketmaster won the war when it came to paying to see him, but Bruce still maintains a certain magnetism. He’s not the greatest dresser — misguided souls might believe it was jingoistic excess, but ‘Born in the USA’ wasn’t a regrettable phase musically, but that leather, denim and headband hasn’t held up well — and nor is he the worst, but the construct of the Bruuuuuuuce mythos means the outfit must come second to the sound to represent that absolute dedication to the craft (that doesn’t apply to the rest of the band, who wore some wild suits in their day).

That utilitarian approach to dress meant that Bruce managed to dodge some of the most regrettable looks of the 1970’s, but also put together some excellent outfits — the jacket and white v-neck tee (swooping, but not to the point of 2012 man-cleavage douchery or Givenchy chest bearing) on ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ in 1978, the wooly hat and rolled up denim shirt from the sceptic smashing Hammersmith show in 1975 and the early Columbia press shots are my favourites. 1973 was a good year for my heroes and their garments, including Marvin Gaye’s double denim (yeah, the trousers might have been flared, but he still pulls them off — Bruce’s Hammersmith Odeon slacks were a little voluminous too) and red wool beanie from Jim Britt’s ‘Let’s Get it On’ session shots make for the coolest looking Marvin in his career, but while Gaye was in the process of redefinition, Peter Cunningham’s images of Springsteen around the release of ‘Greetings from Astbury Park N.J.’ in February 1973, in full interview conversation mode are the most effortless Springsteen outfit — beard, grey hoody, flannel shirt and denim. A no bullshit uniform from a time that taste occasionally forgot.

The sound matured from word-cramming opuses and the decades-old throwback romanticism, but Springsteen emerged cool. Not everybody could go balls-out like Bowie when it came to attire in 1973 and pull off teal tailoring or a pirate eyepatch and hoop earring combo. Still, they ended up meeting in 1974, and Bowie covered ‘Growin’ Up’ during the ‘Diamond Dogs’ sessions and ‘It’s Hard to be a Saint in the City’ (with a coked-up soulful excellence), both from Springsteen’s debut. An image from John Kalodner captures the meeting of a megastar and a man on the edge of stardom with two very different dress senses.

Looking for some inspiration for something I haven’t made yet, I revisited Hype Williams’s troubled ‘Belly’ from 1998. Now the film’s fondly remembered after some negative reactions, but while the bulk is style over substance (not necessarily a bad thing, hence my love of Tony Scott’s ‘The Hunger’ with a vampiric Bowie and a lesbian scene with Susan Sarandon that blew my pre-pubescent mind), the byproduct is still stunning. DMX can almost act, Nas can’t, but the film still captures that excess of the era perfectly. In fact, that film lacked a certain substance but reveled in excess makes it as much of an embodiment of hip-hop in 1998 as ‘Wild Style’ was of a rough and ready (and still sketchy) scene in 1982. The opening titles are still some of my all time favourites — the gooned-out masks in ultraviolet lights, the way the beat drops, silenced gunshots and the movement within the BELLY letters are all still on point, with Hype’s techniques still trickling down to WSHH premiered promos of mixtape tracks.

Hype Williams was 29 when he made ‘Belly’, having evolved from bad graf on the walls for ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’ in 1991 to his first video, ‘Two Minute Brother’ for BWP aka Bytches With Problems (he also directed ‘Come Baby Come’ for the equally forgotten K7) and then changing the look of an entire culture half a decade later from working with female acts with acronyms as group names. Seeing as Hype was inspired by Gaspar Noé’s ‘Enter the Void’ for ‘All of the Lights’, I expected big things from a ‘Belly’ follow-up when it eventually happened, but his plans to direct a film from a Joe Eszterhas screenplay called ‘Lust’ was unexpected. Both Hype and Joe have pretty much been off the Hollywood radar since the late 1990’s, and yes,because Eszterhas is involved, it’s an erotic thriller. I’m interested to see how the film turns out if it’s ever made.



David Fincher’s translation from music video man to film director might have had a ‘Belly style production ordeal with ‘Alien³’ but he came of age, and just when it looked like he was going to be the stylish film with a big reveal guy, he drops ‘Zodiac’ and ‘The Social Network’ on us. What’s consistent in his films is a focus on typography, motion graphics and the art of the opening title — Kyle Cooper’s ‘Se7en’ work (complete with Bowie’s ‘The Hearts Filthy Lesson’ over the end titles if we’re going to tenuously try to link these entries with a Bowie birthday theme), Picture Mill’s ‘Panic Room’ sequence and P. Scott Makela’s ‘Fight Club’ design are all memorable. ‘The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo’ doesn’t match those highs, but it works well as a slippery, gothier, bleak take on Bond opening credits, but like ‘Se7en’s opening, Trent Reznor’s work suits the mood. There’s a good breakdown of how the film’s opening titles were developed here, talking to Blur Studio’s Tim Miller who directed it. Salutes to masterful motion graphics dude Onur Senturk too. The sequence looks like the commercial for the Hewlett-Packard peripheral from hell, with Rick Owens on creative direction, but somehow that suits the movie.



I’m late to the party on this video interview with Stüssy Triber Lono Brazil, who also uploaded some footage of the International Stüssy Tribe 1st Annual Tribal Meeting in Tokyo from 1991. It’s worth a watch. Because I just used to gawp at the VHS cassette in clothing stores back in the day without every buying it, I’m not sure if it was on the old Stüssy tape back in 1992.



THE COCAINE, MILK & RED PEPPER DIET

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“There’s a fly floating around in my milk and he’s… he’s a foreign body in it, you see, and he’s getting a lot of milk. That’s kind of how I felt – a foreign body and I couldn’t help but soak it up, you know. I hated it when I first came here, I couldn’t see any of it.”

Cocaine’s a helluva drug. Curious that it’s easier to obtain now than herb, but that’s not the purpose of this post. Bowie appreciations are DONE. Yep, no stone has been left unturned, and they’re played-out like McQueen mini-essays (of which, this blog pleads guilty), but having been on a documentary kick, watching the great unreleaseds, and withheld studies of a few choice musicians, of which ‘Cocksucker Blues’ and ‘Cracked Actor’ stand tall, and with a bootleg of Bowie’s 05.09.74 Los Angeles Ampitheater performance blasting, self-indulgence wins again. After all, is it possible to tire of images of the great man at this point in his career? Well on his way to becoming an unlikely sartorial inspiration for a generation of British youth more inclined toward beating each other senseless than fey introspection around three years later, in 1974, his transitional phase between glam showman, blue-eyed soul and traces of the Berlin ‘look’ is present when he hits America’s west coast.

Pitched between absolute focus and a visibly burnt-out need to move on at the time of filming, it’s not surprising that David’s vetoed a DVD release of ‘Cracked Actor’ – first shown on BBC2 in early 1975, but if you’re looking for him at his absolute best, the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour is it. Sadly, this is the only footage of it, because understandably, the artist’s not too proud of his prodigious disco shit habit at this point-in-time. Beyond the sonic side, this is the ultimate example of the Bowie’s self-destruction and restless urge to reinvent to keep ahead of the imitators. They might have brought him to the peak of total destruction, but the drugs probably helped propel that level of genius. At the point in time documented, he’s the coolest motherfucker on the planet. No question.

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Were you to try to subside on nothing but top quality yayo, milk and red peppers, you’d repel people. Not so, Bowie, skinny enough to slip down a drain, borderline vampiric, yet, as is his way, still that dude. Numerous reports indicate he lived on that diet during the ‘Diamond Dogs’ era, with the addition of nicotine and a YSL wardrobe to compliment the pallor. As an addiction spirals, the artist still governs the zeitgeist. That’s no mean feat. Highlights in the documentary are the moments that reinforce tales of that consumption – a deleted ending, apparently present on a US screening, shows him holding a white bag that’s significantly more than an eight-ball, taking a hearty sniff and lick before downing some dairy. Ron Burgundy might have made an ill-fated choice with his hot weather beverage pick, but it seems even more curious when David’s in the back of a limo driving through the desert, brimmed hat on in the blazing heat, slurping milk and blasting Aretha Franklin, blankly making the above outsider observation using his carton as part of the analogy. Best of all is his lapse into excitable cockney wideboy on clocking a wax museum – “Look! A wax museum. Imagine ‘avin a bleedin’ wax museum out in the middle of the desert. You’d think it would melt wouldn’t you?

Proto-moonwalking across the stage, making out with a prop skull while wearing some of the flyest sunglasses ever made during a blistering performance of the titular track and including a young Luther Vandross in the backing band, from what’s collated here, this was an immaculately executed show, and as a documentary, it’s not judgmental or too intrusive (bar the aforementioned excised conclusion) when it comes to the obviously troubled subject. That’s a surprise given the sensationalist era in which it was screened. It lets Bowie do what he does, contradicting himself, occasionally slipping into introspect before coming alive onstage. An official release on DVD/Blu-Ray would be welcome. The following month, the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour would become the ‘Soul/Philly Dogs’ tour, with Eddie Floyd and Ohio Players covers in the set, but the same elements of expressionist, ambitious theatre in the staging of the shows, and the next incarnation, embracing those adopted elements fully.

In his Thin White Duke phase just prior to ‘Low’ during recordings made a year later, that diet might have altered, but Bowie was still fond of one type of the white stuff, but for some serious sniffs and jitters, his December 1974 Dick Cavett interview makes the chats caught by Yentob and company seem comfortable by comparison.

The dystopic views espoused on ‘Diamond Dogs’ owed a lot to old Bill Burroughs, so it seemed natural to bring the two together, as ‘Rolling Stone’ did earlier that year. Opiate wisdom versus cocaine babble makes for an engaging conversation, especially on matters of Warhol. It’s reprinted here, and in the excellent ‘Rolling Stone Book of the Beats.’ The accompanying photoshoot is good – it’s worth noting Bowie’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ tee, worn long before kitschy practitioners of plastic cultdom pumped ’em out everywhere. No piece on this period could work without a bunch of images, plus, for good measure, a killer shot of the great man post 1976 drug bust (hence the much Retweeted mugshot) flanked by his bodyguard and a Sunday Times magazine cover from the same year.

Enough of the weak potted history. The paragraphs above were just an excuse to chuck these grabs up on the site:

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