Tag Archives: futura

NYC 1982

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A couple of years before the one-off Graffiti Rock, renaissance man Michael Holman had a 1982 TV show called TV New York. Holman, who had two other equally short-lived shows (The 9:40 Show and On B-TV) on the go in 1982 told Red Bull Music Academy, “It was the first hip hop TV shows anywhere in the world. Before anyone was doing it uptown, before anyone was doing it downtown, before anyone was doing it in Europe.Continue reading NYC 1982

TRANSMISSIONS

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Forgot today was blogging day. Can I just talk about the last three things I watched on YouTube? While I’m at it, I’ll plug this Tinker Hatfield feature too because there’s a few jewels in there for the nerds. I’ve been distracted by Mickey Drexler’s remarks in this Stanford appearance from late last year — I don’t subscribe to the quasi-motivational drivel that do-littles hurl all over Twitter and Facebook, but Drexler’s answer 23 minutes in regarding explosive modes of management is amazing and he offers a good excuse to use next time you swear loudly in a meeting. “Surround yourself with people that get it,” is easier said than done but it’s the key to greatness. It also means you need to recruit fellow dysfunctional oddballs.

This BBC footage of Goldie in 1989, as well as some other writers is pretty good too. It’s a shame that Dick Fontaine’s candid clips of Goldie talking about NYC trainyard and tunnel excursions have been taken down from YouTube.

For a minute I thought that a 2000 Channel 4 documentary (from Madonna Night) on her early Downtown days was a figment of my imagination, but it’s partially available online. One of the few documents of Futura 2000’s relationship with Madge, it includes a few soundbites from the man himself plus Fab Five Freddy’s entertaining attitude to her antics in the early 1980s, “I really thought Madonna was cool, but for me personally, she was not the kind of chick I would really would have wanted to get with, because a lot of my other crew had been up around her. You know what I’m saying? And that just wasn’t my steelo at the time.”

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The FUCT book for Rizzoli arrives in September, but Erik Brunetti has got his hands on an advance copy and it looks very good indeed. He’s taking pre-orders for signed copies on his site and with “streetwear”s continuing slide into just being a load of self-congratulatory thirtysomethings selling crap to kids (actually, it’s always been like that, hasn’t it?) the sense of threat that Brunetti managed to bring to the party seems more vital than ever. The fact Erik really fucking hates street art is reason enough to support his cause.

Zack De La Rocha wearing the classic Ford bite tee on a No Nirvana — a 1993 BBC Late Show special, was a great moment in streetwear on British TV. While Rage Against the Machine sure ain’t grunge (though that show was mostly bands that fell into that genre), will the current preoccupation with that scene’s industry mean an onslaught of short-sleeve tees over long-sleeves as well as plaid around the waist?

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The perfect soundtrack for that FUCT book would be Sly and the Family Stone’s classic There’s a Riot Goin’ On, with its aura of apocalypse vaguely audible beneath the good time riffing and Get On Down’s gold CD remaster comes with an embroidered take on the blood and stars American flag cover. No matter how jaded you are with fancy packaging to make you buy things you’re familiar with all of again, you’ve got to admit it looks pretty.

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RAGE

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I’m still reeling from 30 Rock coming to a conclusion (the Tracey Jordan pacemaker gag made it all worthwhile) and the abrupt return of My Bloody Valentine, with a new album (does this mean that Cube/Dre Helter Skelter project is going to appear in its entirety all of a sudden?). The profound senses of sadness and euphoria have cancelled themselves out and left me numb. So I couldn’t think of much that’s interesting to write about. I’m enjoying Adam Mansbach’s Rage is Back though, even though I approached it with trepidation. Mansbach treated racial politics and hip-hop culture with Angry Black White Boy in 2005, and on first announcement, I assumed this was a sequel. After all, a devolution into increased ignorance and a world where people actually argue for a white rapper’s “pass” to use racial epithets would justify another book on a similar subject. But Rage is Back is about graffiti writers and yes, I feel your anxiety when it comes to a novel on the topic.

Graffiti in its illegal, fleeting form is a thing of beauty. Trying to pin it down sonically or visually beyond mere documentation can render it corny. Trying to fictionalise it beyond tall tales of how up you were, or apocryphal tales of a prolific but barely-seen characters can be even worse. I’m a total toy when it comes to approaching the subject, yet I find myself drawn to anything relating to it, out of curiosity. Plus I have a few friends who are sick with it, so enthusiasm has been passed through conversations about oddballs, psychopaths and sociopaths with fumes on the brain and/or PCP habits. Whenever I hear about a fictional graffiti story, I think of Jon Chardiet as RAMO, a Golan-Globus sub-culture cash in, or Gleaming the Cube with fat caps rather than skateboards. There’s a lot of great graffiti books, but how much great graffiti lit is there without pictures? Nov York, The World Screaming Nov and Novurkistan by Nov/Loucious Broadway/Dumar Brown are autobiographical but lucid, troubling and brilliant, while Jonathan Lethem’s excellent Fortress of Solitude had a significant amount of graf in the plot too, which was assisted by Lethem’s brother being KEO, who has an insider knowledge of the culture’s folklore and then-unwritten rules. Salutes to Sofarok to putting me onto Alex Holden’s work in Syncopated with West Side Improvement‘s comic strip reenactment of the Freedom Tunnel’s development that includes the SANE SMITH story too (Holden’s site has previews of other graffiti-related strips like Stay Out of the Gorgon Yard, Take the A Train and Field Trip).

The aforementioned examples all succeed and Mansbach’s newest has a touch of the magical about it, like Lethem’s book, that sits with the addled, quasi-mystical (and yes, there is a RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ-alike) talk of the old heads the book’s narrator Kilroy Dondi Vance (the inspirations are overt) was raised around. At the core, the book is about fathers and sons, angry intelligent teens, demons, time traveling, corruption and politics, but the late 1980s and mid 2000s graffiti settings are the perfect places to fill those outlines. It’s well written too — eloquent and capable of juggling the many dialogues of this sub-culture, from straight talking, to adolescent dismissal of grown ups stuck in the past and the dusted metaphors of the old guard. Definitely recommended. For more on the subject, last month’s Brooklyn Radio with DJ Ayres talking to Chino BYI and Mansbach was superb, covering hardcore, graffiti’s existence without that hip-hop “elements” nonsense, book tours and other important matters.


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ARCHIVE

I’m still out the country and still slacking on blog entries. More time eating and less time pondering the minutiae of some unnecessary matters proves toxic to my creativity and I’m trying to at least feign a break from the old routine. Seeing a 1982 Dondi sketch for sale in the Block Party 2012 show earlier in the week (alongside some Barry McGee and Haze pieces I wish I owned) had me thinking back to the swag exhibited in the above image of Futura, Dondi and Zephyr in LA, taken from the ‘Style Master General’ book. They weren’t just talking paint and ink with that title. Member’s Only jackets, tracksuit trousers and Nikes executed in a non-corny manner. Now I’m in LA and about to, presumably, end up doing some form of exercise that’s Nike+ (this Nate VanHook interview on the Hue is cool) related this afternoon, lacking even 0.1.% of the style exhibited by Donald, Lenny and Andrew right there. Though it was good to see Riff Raff holding it down in a bar last night, plus Antwuan Dixon drunk outside trying to get in (on a skate note, Koston Epic’ly Later’d coming soon).

When in doubt, throw up some old ads on the site; these date back to 1986, but are good examples of advertising for a market beyond the usual male audience. Women’s Air Forces (which were reworked for women’s feet rather than just scaled down) and an enviable roster of kids’ shoes with the ‘Some Athletes Haven’t Made it Big Yet’ copy are pretty good.

Stone Island’s Stone Island 30 exhibition sounds immense and a good reason to go brave the mean-mugging hordes in snug tailoring who’ve picked up on Pitti over the last couple of years. The book is there too and Mr. Errolson Hugh and Future Concept Lab have got some shots of ‘ARCHIVIO ‘992-‘012’, which I need in my life immediately. The exhibition version comes with a tee, but I can live without the promo garment, because at 653 pages in length, it looks like it’s worth the wait. Capping off the week, Drake’s Stone Island knitwear in the ‘No Lie’ video is an interesting sartorial choice that sees a global star dressing like a British road rapper. The last Stone Island/CP samples sale was significantly more gooned-out than a Drake/Chris Brown scuffle.





GIGER, TOKYO CLOTHES & HIP-HOP

As part of a recent Instagram conversation with those older and wiser than me on such matters, the subject of Tokyo’s legendary Let It Ride line emerged. Too many brands seem to be ignored in favour of lesser ones and just finding an old Japanese-made Let It Ride long-sleeve tee with what looks like bleached branding and a ’50s style back print during a clear out reminded me of the brand’s work. Established in late 1993, by former BEAMS and United Arrows employee Ken Sadomura and designer Kiichiro Kurata, the brand was a key part of the ELT (which I believe stood for Every Little Thing) store in Shibuya that also provided the foundation for a few more brands along the way (according to an entry on Pass the Baton, the store made Birkenstocks fashionable too).

Let it Ride made no secret of its inspiration from punk and Malcolm McLaren’s pre-SEX Let it Rock store, with the teddy boy style that imbued the Neighborhood aesthetic too. As the elder statesmen of the industry pointed out to me, Let it Ride was superseded a little by Unrivaled, as stocked in the mighty Goodhood — a brand with startling levels of attention to detail. It’s not that the brand ever declined, it’s simply that the minds behind it seemed to opt to avoid magazine and blog “celebrity” and just let the product talk. Kiichiro Kurata seems to be putting in some extra work on the Tuscany-made PRESIDENT’S line too (that Oddojob jacket is tremendous) but back in mid 1990s Kurata was an early partner with POST O’ALLS on a sub-brand with ELT called SPANISHCURVES, inspired by the rear view of Hispanic ladies during an NYC trip. This ELT site proves that Let it Ride is still very much an ongoing project.

Salutes to Let it Ride for opening my eyes to (cue up the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack) a whole new world alongside GOOD ENOUGH. Out of interest (and I know some of you can answer this in a second), what became of Sarcastic post 2006? I’d also love to know more about another early POST O’ALLS collaborator — Shinichi Nakasone, who founded the LL Bean, New England style of Harajuku’s Labrador Retriever store in September 1988 with some vintage pieces, imports and dog-centric takes on rugged Americana way, way, way before the majority. I know it split into two companies with the same branding in the mid 1990s, causing a little confusion, but Nakasone’s contribution to the culture is deeply significant.

Did the YO! MTV Raps documentary leave anyone else as melancholy as it did me? That show changed my life back in the day and the mild sense of anarchy, title animations and even those white album and directorial credits affected me in a way that’s tough to describe. We got a weekly mashup of those daily episodes on a Saturday morning and I’m not mad at the MTV Europe insert of Marxman and Al Agami videos where US videos would have been either. Even the crappier elements are rose-tinted to me. What Ted Demme pushed for changed my life. R.I.P. Ted.



I still maintain that the Demme co-directed documentary ‘A Decade Under the Influence’, released posthumously and screened on IFC is absolutely necessary if you’re a fan of 1970s cinema — there are few better love letters to cinema’s most subversive period. While it might feel a little rushed, there’s several anecdotes delivered by some folks who’ve since passed on that make it a joy to watch in its three-hour form. It used to be on YouTube in its entirety, until music rights and whatever else led to it being alopecia patchy in the chapter stakes, but you can sample the first part below. During the final YO! In 1995, was that a Supreme sweat that Ed Lover wore or was it made by somebody else? (Edit: Sung from Clae, a former PNB founder member, confirmed that it’s not Supreme and it’s actually a 1993 PNB Nation sweat with a WEST FC handstyle) Bearing in mind that the good folk at Milkcrate Athletics upped some footage of Fab politicking with Stash, Futura and Gerb in tradeshow mode (I recall Fab presenting from NFC retailer Triple 5 Soul in 1990, but I’m sure this was from 432F a couple of years later), maybe Ed got tipped off — his clothes were usually on point anyway.



Some are struggling to decry ‘Prometheus’ as garbage, so they’re in denial, giving it ‘7’ and breaking it into two halves of differing quality. I just saw muddled rubbish that felt like a straight-to-DVD pilot to a show that never was. Despite falling asleep during ‘Robin Hood’ and the one with Russell Crowe and wine, the marketing had me fiending for a film that turned out to be as engaging as the appalling “AVP2: Requiem’ with that smartly executed TED talk.

I don’t want to know how those curious HR Giger designs came to exist, especially when the Space Jockey looks as though it’s basketball player height compared to the reclining behemoth in ‘Alien.’ The only piece of Giger mythology I wanted answered is how he and Chris Stein from Blondie became buddies, but apparently it was just a meeting at a gallery after ‘Alien’s release, resulting him creating the cover art to ‘Koo Koo’ and directing the videos for‘Backfired’ and ‘Now I Know You Know’ being full of his work. There’s some good photos of Giger’s house on Chris Stein’s site that don’t disappoint — the baby faces on the garden wall are a nice touch. The ‘Now I Know You Know’ video is better than all of ‘Prometheus.’





1984

Weapon ads in old issues of ‘Black Belt’ take it back to 1984 — a time of local video shops with a wall of cheap martial art movies to match the heft of the horror and porn sections and school trips to France being the optimum time to pick up knuckle dusters, fun size explosives and the fabled throwing stars. Not so much ‘Niggas in Paris’ — more like ninjas in Calais. I love these pictures, from the peak of Michael Dudikoff’s career and a time when Lee Van Cleef and Sho Kosugi in ‘The Master’ took ninjas prime-time before a swift cancellation, who wouldn’t want foot claws and a belt buckle with a removable throwing star. The scope for stupidity, and a trip to the emergency ward, with these offerings is still deeply tempting. Who would have thought anything that included a knuckle knife could look downright quaint 28 years down the line?

My quest for the perfect sweat continues and like the white tee one (mission aborted, I’ll stick with Kirklands from Costco from now on) it’s too subjective to announce a winner. But looking in spots like J Simons reveals some contenders that aren’t Japanese repros or the usual suspects. Germany’s Pike Brothers have a grey melange number that gets the neck, cuffs and snug but not skin tight (the downfall of many a fine effort from the far east) fit right. The brand seems more aimed at the 1950s’ revivalist crowd, but even if you’re not a pomade and braces kind of chap, they get this basic right and drop it at a fair price point. Taking the name of the design back to its physical training origins by calling it the P.T. Sweater makes a lot of sense too — resisting any urge for contrast ribbing or flat lock seams that you’d be able to see from a mile off lets this accessorise pretty much everything. A very strong effort.



As proof that people have been solemnly over thinking graffiti on canvases for a lot longer than European tourists have being wandering east London with cameras held aloft on Banksy-themed tours, ART/new york’s ‘Graffiti/Post Graffiti’ has reappeared on YouTube again. It tends to appear then be pulled down and while it’s not essential, it’s a good accompaniment for some core flicks for fans of this miserable sub-culture. I’ve long pondered as to whether anyone downtown in the early 1980s realised that they were at the nucleus of a zeitgeist, or whether it was a squalid hand to mouth time for anyone beyond the chosen few. What is clear is that by 1984, when this documentary was put together, the joy had been sucked out by solemn studies like this. Still, at least some deserving folks were getting paid at this point and now this kind of film is pure gold. There’s some good Rammellzee works and sonics, some Futura and Crash’s leather jacket, but it’s the serious faces in attendance watching the canvas being reworked at the New York Society for Ethical Culture happening that are some of the best footage in this short film. That Marc H. Miller Basquiat interview (an edit of a far longer chat) is the one that inspired the confrontational Christopher Walken conversation in the ‘Basquiat’ biopic — a great film, rife with SANE and COPE tags and throw ups to ruin the historical authenticity, though none were as jarring as the OBEY poster in a Lester Bangs themed deleted scene in ‘Almost Famous.’



Harry Jumonji is a name checked downtown skate legend who represents the hardcore attitude of the city, but had a career blighted by crack addiction and jail time. Life would barely be worth living without the prospect of another focused skate documentary in post-production, and after some solid portraits of other characters, from Gator to Hosoi to Duane to Jessee, it’s Harry’s time. It’s nice to see New York in the spotlight, and while I assumed Epicly Later’d might cover him one day (on the Later’d front, the Fabian Alomar story could fit another 2 hours), NY Skateboarding just reported on a trailer for a documentary from Erica Hill Studio. With a life that moved from Parana to Ubatuba to New York, Harry’s a legend — this 1989 image of him skating in Air Solo Flights and Stussy, taken by Bill Thomas and used in the teasers for ‘Deathbowl to Downtown’ is a classic.

SAUCE

I think this blog is becoming a receptacle for magazine scans of anything from the 1980’s or 1990’s and getting a little too bogged down in nostalgia. I could reblog the same pictures of the Kate Moss for Supreme posters that are around town at the moment, but every single blog on the planet seems to be chucking up the same shots. I’ll leave it to them, but I definitely need a copy for my wall. I’ve been trawling the archives for some information on one specific boot and the quest led me to old issues of ‘The Source.’ I can’t stress the importance of that magazine back when the closest place to get it was the WH Smiths in Luton’s Arndale Centre and people got angry because TLC were on the cover. Lord knows what they’d make of Nicki Minaj at the weekend, but I assume they’re probably dead of old age by now, which spares them the rage. I liked the specially shot covers back in the day (seemingly one of the final casualties of their shakeups over the last few years) and I haven’t picked up a copy for close to a decade, but I’m glad that ‘The Source’ is still going.

It was the militancy of older issues and the real reporting (I think Ronin Ro’s piece on Luther Campbell touring Japan, as reproduced in ‘Gangsta’ is one of the magazine’s most insightful moments) plus glimpses of products I’d never seen before that had me hooked. The November 1993 issue was an old school retrospective that taught my gun rap loving self a great deal (it included the Henry Chalfont shot above) and despite the frequently anaemic graffiti content, the four-page feature on legends like Dondi and Futura by Ricky Powell was a great moment in a period generally considered to be the magazine’s downturn and an early 1993 article on the new wave of streetwear brands that hit their radar the previous year was a moment when skate and hip-hop (primarily through Pervert) style really seemed to strike, championed by west coast MCs from the Good Life Cafe scene. I don’t listen to the music so much these days, but everything seemed to gel and broaden my horizons. I never found the boot I was hunting, but November 1993’s ‘Knockin’ Boots’ with the questionable inclusion of Hi-Tec, but including the glorious Iditarod Sport Hiker, Merrell Wilderness ($260!) and the ACG Rhyolite never fails to make me yearn for a golden era of invincible footwear.

The White/Cement Jordan IV eluded me in 1989 in favour of the other key colours — as did the reissue a decade later. The 2012 version feels like closure on that matter (I won’t cry myself to sleep over the lack of NIKE AIR). 2006’s IVs were of quality comparable to the plastic Michael Jackson cash-in slip-ons that some unfortunate kids still broke out at my school back when the IV debuted. The new version is marginally better in quality and after two days of wear, creasing isn’t critical, but the curried goat stain I attained today nearly led to a Buggin’ Out type scenario, even though I was the sole culprit. Probably best to go half a size down, and they still rub on my little toe. But what are you going to do? Grown men shouldn’t be getting so agitated about things they didn’t get the first time around. Plus they’re still the best looking Jordan ever.