Tag Archives: gangs



Ahead of the release of Take None, Fear None and some current Sons of Anarchy binges, I’ve been obsessing over the predominantly black motorcycle club, The Chosen Few and the imagery that defines their crew. Naturally, any appropriation of a club’s imagery is a foolhardy move (as brands have learnt over the years), but it always makes for arresting photographs. Ebony ran a feature on west coast black biker gangs in 1966 that included shots of Chosen Few and Fresco Rattlers members, plus a breakdown of the 1%er name and an explanation of sorts regarding the use of the swastika as a tool of offense rather than a statement of racism (complete with a shot of black club members alongside Pagans beneath the offending logo on a flag). The Chosen Few’s website includes some superb shots that seem to be from around the time of this shoot (many of which manage to be both heartwarming in their multi-racial unity, but deeply intimidating at the same time), but the whole aura seems significantly cuddlier in the Ebony piece when compared to recent news reports on Chosen Few-related arrests. Over 50 years after the club’s inception, that outlaw status seems to have escalated.





The beauty of 6876 is that product simply makes sense. There’s nothing superfluous — no mystery to why you want anything. They’re open to stocking some exceptions though. Coinciding with the release of their Chapman bag, they’ve got a product in stock that I want for no good reason — a scale model of Mount McKinley in a perspex case from Reliorama. Why does a transparent plastic case make an object so appealing? I never knew I needed a tiny replica of North America’s highest peak until I saw this. Then I realised that it’s an object that was missing from my life.




24 hours late on the blog updates and still not much to say. The leather jacketed or vested ne’er-do-wells of old always fired my imagination in movies and magazines, but I can’t help but think that gangs were making more of an effort to dress back in the day. Juvenile delinquency looked particularly fucking cool in the 1950s and 1960s, back when the dawn of the teenager had “squares” bricking themselves at grease-slicked haircuts and tribal uniforms. These pictures from a 1957 LIFE feature on Upper Westside and Bronx gangs called Teen-Age Burst of Brutality make alleged thugs look like rock stars. An Egyptian Kings member looks cool calm and collected on the way to be quizzed for a murder, complete with fans peering in the window, and the crew shot of the Laughing Jesters in Manhattan makes them look like the best gang ever. People generally seemed to look more excellent 50+ years ago.


While the gang jackets in this anti-hoodlum film from the 1950s are the worst thing ever, the gangs in the 1961 San Francisco based documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell Me which has some kind of religious redemption overtones (and did the blog rounds back in 2009 when it seemed to go into public domain) has crews of dudes who are deeply stylish, until they start doing decorating and digging holes and being productive members of society because society asks them to be — it completely does the opposite of discouraging anyone from not wanting to stand on a street corner playing elbow tit (as depicted in The Wanderers). Even in the 1970s, the gang jackets on the cover of New York Magazine‘s March 27, 1972 cover story on east Bronx gangs (which can be read here) would almost certainly have a kid reaching for the marker pens to decorate a garment so he and his friends could rumble with neighbourhood rivals.


Ralph Bakshi has drawn some great hoodlums in flicks like American Pop and Coonskin and given his escalating inability to work within the system, an initiative like Kickstarter is the perfect way for him to raise capital. He’s currently working on a series called Last Days of Coney Island with pledged voice work from folks like Matthew Modine and there’s some amazing incentives to pledge some dough here ($35+ for a Bakshi character doodle?). And I’ve talked about Ralph’s work here a lot of times, because Wizards, Fritz the Cat and Lord of the Rings, plus shows like his Mighty Mouse redux had such a big impact on me — if you don’t know who he is, educate yourself immediately by picking up a copy of Unfiltered and reading this interview with him from a year ago. The sketches and imagery from Last Days of Coney Island look pretty good so far.







Does anyone else recall Champion’s Japanese licensee putting Champion on some extremely underwhelming hiking boots in 1995 to capitalise on a boom in hiking heritage? I thought I dreamt it until I pulled out this old ad again. They really did a number on the iconic ‘C’ right there.




Festivus is with us again, which usually calls for a Frank Costanza-esque airing of grievances. For a couple of years I ran some kind of hastily compiled list of things I hated the most — largely compiled from my Twitter feed and exceeding anything of any real importance — in the preceding year. But then the last one did the Twitter and Tumblr rounds and the kind of people that the semi-concealed clumsy subliminals were aimed at were strangely excited about it, oblivious to the fact I wasn’t too keen on them. So I can’t be bothered to do another one. Hate’s too easy too and at this time of year I can barely muster the bile — there’s too much misery out there in the news, so a bunch of poorly built home truths is a distasteful addition. Especially when the world ends tomorrow.

I would have included: People who dress head to toe in hyped apparel mocking people dressed similarly by calling them “Hypebeasts”, people that believe dickriding in Instagram comments is the fast track to success, people that describe their WordPress as an “online magazine,” the death of mystique by brands and stores asking their legion of fans how they’re doing on a Monday morning like a talkative taxi driver, people that start editorial-led projects who can’t photograph, write, style, design or offer any form of Teflon business plan and are subsequently surplus to requirements, any form of middle person who simply slows down the communication and cash chain, people that ask you to follow them on social media, people that write “RT” after Tweets, people that fill Facebook with links to fictional motivational quotes that no great mind of the 20th century ever said, people that want you to phone them back to discuss what they could have emailed you in a single (easier to dismiss) sentence, people that think you’ve turned into a prima donna because you don’t feel like working for them for free, people that get so angry about mediocre sports footwear they wouldn’t be into if it wasn’t hyped up that they call everyone a reseller and make you like resellers way more than “sneakerheads”, people that put a full stop in front of an @ response so they can broadcast a conversation to everyone, nothing being allowed to be “quite good” any more because it has to be a classic or else it’s a crushing letdown, PR companies paid to represent a brand they know or care nothing about excitedly sharing links to sites barely rehashing press releases because said PR company gave them the shoes/jeans/t-shirt/hate (delete as applicable), blogs posting exactly what a bigger blog has posted and expecting anyone (bar the aforementioned PR company) to care, anyone who still clings onto “selling out” as a negative, a Benjamin Button in a snapback world of such regressed adulthood that any normal activity that isn’t prancing around getting hyped over complete crap is deemed “grown man shit”, multiple recaps of launch parties laden with exactly the same fucking people where any right-minded person would have zero aspiration to attend, tiny credits that nobody ever clicks through for the provider of content for an entire post on a blog complete with a click-through gallery of every image (thus eliminating any reason to ever visit the source site), that secret project that somebody heavy handedly alludes to over a period of time that nearly always turns out to be crushingly mediocre, the people that announce to the world pre or just post New Year that “This is my year” and then do absolutely nothing except Tweet turgid guff, people that think they’re being “hated on” or “trolled” and spend much of their time explaining this but are actually just hateful wankers who bring it on themselves and cry themselves to sleep (hopefully), people that call Supreme “Preme,” paranoid people that assume that this blog post is about them (word to Carly Simon), people that think they’re curating things because they take pictures of free stuff and anybody that doesn’t realise that most brands they’re all over are no better than that HYPE streetwear Dave brand.

Aaaaaand, breathe.

Now sneering at menswear and influencer culture is easily available (and more articulately executed) elsewhere, there’s little call for it here at this moment in time, plus Keef said it better than I ever could too. Salutes to everybody who just gets on with it and will quietly make powermoves in 2013. Anyway, how can I be angry while that Estelle Hanania portrait of Giorgio Moroder from the excellent feature on him in ‘PIG Quarterly’ (thank you, Sofarok) exists? Can’t do it. It’s also hard to be angry after BKRW put me onto Yan Morvan’s French gang photography that’s the subject of a new book (‘Gangs Story’), videos and an exhibition soon.



Gang story


Blog post from May 2009.

Fuck technology. I had a blog on Integrity (the band that is, nothing to do with my lack of it) prepped on my BlackBerry, but it lost it. Or I could be lying. Anyhow, before I rewrite a paen to Dwid and company, I can fall back on the lapsing blogger’s friend, the LIFE photo archive. I could trawl through that thing for 72 hours straight like a crack binger and still be fiending for more.You might be familiar with the photo journalism of Declan Haun primarily his documentation of the Civil Rights movement – spending 15 years in Chicago he documented his hometown in depth, and given the Windy City’s gang problem, it was inevitable that he’d be there gaining access to capture it in its formative years.
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