Tag Archives: malcolm mclaren

MALCOLM ’83

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I’ve seen shots of a Malcolm McLaren in 1983 wearing his long-sleeve tee with PUNK IT UP on the chest and DUCK ROCK on the arms in that familiar but still-unnamed iron-on font for a few years now, but I hadn’t seen the footage before until this Spanish TV chat appeared on YouTube via masterhitsi84. As ever, Malcolm doesn’t project modesty and some of the same punk tales are told, but there’s a few good soundbites beneath that translated voiceover. My friends who are still working on the Heated Words project have tapped into something that seems to link a lot of pivotal popular culture, and clips like this just reinforce that.

NOSTALGIA FOR ANTI-NOSTALGIA

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Most things that are given a punk prefix are pretty terrible. Right now — in an era of carefully curated nihilism — brands and contemporary culture seem to be trying to poorly resurrecting a packaged version of the spirit that inspired Malcolm McLaren all those years ago. They want to be GG Allin but most seem to be coming off more like the moody kid from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie wearing his Sid Vicious tee in the bad guys’ warehouse with the ramp and video games. Continue reading NOSTALGIA FOR ANTI-NOSTALGIA

TOMMY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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It’s good to hear that Tommy Hilfiger’s memoir is dropping at the end of this year. American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion and Business is going to be published by Ballantine on October 16th and promises to be a definitive, despite weighing in at a slim-sounding 240 pages. I’m hoping that it’s not the usual dumbed-down, reiterate-a-point business book, because I want at least 10 pages on his time spent designing Coca-Cola clothing and at least a chapter on the moment when he spotted Puba and his boys clad in XXL Hilfiger gear at JFK airport and got his brother Andy to make the introduction. Continue reading TOMMY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

RECLINING

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Malcolm McLaren is a polarising figure for his aptitude for making money out of any craze (I still want to see footage of him getting booed in NYC for the moment when he stood on stage and supposedly took credit for inventing hip-hop) and even having a damned good go at claiming genres until late in his life (remember his media appearances to push his discovery of ‘chip music’ in 2004?). But I remain a fan of a fair chunk of his life’s work (the whole Chicken saga falls somewhere between proto-Brass Eye satire and truly sociopathic behaviour) and see it echoed time and time again in quick thinking counter moves like this or hip-hop bosses and their frequent acts of cold-blooded hustle. During the early 1980s, he was such a bizarre, self-promoting character, that every interview I’ve seen with McLaren has been magnetic. A new YouTube channel has just upped a one-hour style history lesson with the man from late 1984. Looking like some publicity-conjuring pixie in his pink polo neck, hiked-up trousers and loafers, and setting off the conversation with a bizarre waywardness in his opening pose before he seems to regain some interest, it’s worth watching, taken from footage shot for an episode of the long-gone Rock Influence TV show. After this one, I recommend watching the excellent footage of fans in the parking lot before Lynyrd Skynyrd’s December 31 1990 New Years Eve concert in San Francisco. God bless the internet.





SHARP

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I didn’t know a great deal about Australia’s sharpie scene other than it involved short on top, long at the back hair and that “Chopper” Read was a member. I picked up Tadhg Taylor’s Top Fellas at the Ditto Press space — a reprint of a book published a decade ago — and it’s a fascinating read. A history of this mod and skin affiliated cult and its boom times and renaissances, it follows the narrative and first-hand tear up tales combination that seems to have served terrace storytelling well for the last few years. Sharp outfits, with their focus on fancy cardigans, aren’t particularly appealing compared to the attire that the history books at least, have attached to other subcultures, but it’s all curious enough to give their world a real character and something that just seems quintessentially Aussie. Even as the thing of theirs faded in the early 1980s, the vast nature of the country made it possible that sharpies could keep existing in small towns, ready to pounce on the unwary and oblivious to their extinction elsewhere — it’s in those strains that the kind of culture mutations that don’t get a book emerge. With their folk devil status in the local press, I wonder if any of the tribal kickings luridly described informed a big export like Mad Max — it definitely made its way into Bert Deling’s cult favourite, Pure Shit, as mentioned in Taylor’s book. Australia has given us a lot of great cinema and that rapid-pace junkie drama (which I’ve seen on YouTube and torrent because the recent triple DVD special edition is hard to find) deserves much more attention — Drugstore Cowboy and Gridlock’d at least feel like they took notes from that obscurity. I urge you to watch Pure Shit if you can and if you’re even vaguely interested in the sharpie movement, pick up Top Fellas soon, because these kinds of things tend to become unavailable pretty swiftly.



The Malcolm McLaren Let It Rock exhibition that ended yesterday as part of the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair looked interesting. Paul Gorman worked with McLaren’s estate to curate it and made a good case to GQ regarding how he and Vivienne Westwood helped forge fashion as we perceive it — his influence on street wear is colossal, but that extends to retail spaces too. This magpie approach to design is echoed in today’s referential t-shirts, hats and sweats. Opinions of McLaren’s business practices are mixed to say the least, but his ability to get a notion manifested into something interesting is undeniable. Paul’s piece on a Little Richard tee design is interesting and seems relevant to the Let It Rock stall back in 1972 at Wembley Stadium. W Magazine‘s coverage takes a look at some key pieces in the exhibition with Malcolm’s partner Young Kim. I still need to see the 1993 Vive Le Punk documentary where the clip above is taken from in its entirety.

The World is Yours is a documentary on the internet’s relationship with redefining hip-hop’s marketing and distribution in recent years. The new kind of self-made artist and their distance from the old system has created something that’s worth exploring — this one’s being funded through Kickstarter and contains some familiar faces and case studies that led us into a realm of struggle A&R acting punch drunk enough to give anyone with a million views a million dollar deal. Still, I’m fascinated by this stuff. Shit, I’d watch a three-hour documentary on the whole Charles Hamilton saga given half the chance.



I think I need Tony Rettman’s oral history of a scene, NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990 in our lives. That’s a colossal undertaking and one that invites bitching from anyone who wasn’t included — and it’s a scene with its own share of beefs — but in 450 pages it should deliver an onslaught of hard-living, tough-life, old NYC anecdotes. There’s been other publications on a similar topic, but hopefully this one’s going to be definitive — Rettman’s book on the Detroit scene from a few years back was great and Bazillion Points Books never half step. This arrives close to Christmas.

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TRIBAL MUSIC

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There’s nothing wrong with clothing for the sake of clothing, but the whole concept of streetwear needs a little more behind it. Without any cultural foundations or actual patronage at street level it’s pretty much kidswear for adults, which is why there’s so many terrible items out there. Nowadays a brand co-signing a digital download is part of the plan and seeing Palace’s recent vinyl foray with Theo Parrish reminded me of the Stüssy record that Alex Turnbull and co were responsible for in 1991— this was a tie-in with the STUPID BIG OL’ MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL STUSSY TRIBE in Tokyo and Michael Kopelman informed be that this event was attended by Leigh Bowery and Michael Clark after a chance encounter during that trip and that the evening involved Afrika Islam bum rushing the stage during a performance by The Afros (whose album Kickin Afrolistics will be recognisable to any cheapskates who spent the early 1990s sifting through bargain buckets). The same bin dippers will recognise the name Jamalski from his BDP connections and the Ruffneck Reality album.

After a recent conversation on this subject, Alex kindly gave me a copy of the 1st Tribal Vinyl Gathering of the IST 12″, with Shawn’s handstyle on the label. This Dope Promotional Fly Copy isn’t an obscurity and is easily obtainable for not very much, but it’s an interesting part of the Stüssy story — there’s a link to one of the tracks with Tokyo attendee Jamalski here. I’m guessing that it this project was pretty Ronin-affiliated. It’s an interesting addition to some of Shawn Stüssy’s art direction on record covers from the same era — the 1990 Malcolm McLaren World Famous Supreme Team Show album (which blew my mind as a kid by connecting Stüssy to the British Airways commercial that used Operaa House) and the confusing incarnation of Big Audio Dynamite (were BAD the first group to homage Scarface with the No. 10, Upping Street cover?) that seemed to ditch the old band entirely, but got Sipho the Human Beatbox (RIP) involved and recruited Shawn for the artwork for 1991’s BAD II release, The Globe. It’s interesting that both Malcolm and Mick were Brits, reinforcing the Stüssy brand’s connection with the UK.

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SKIN

Every time my commitment wavers with regards to anything, I look to the berserkers who carved Slayer onto their skin for inspiration. Unwavering in their dedication, not led by trends and keen to go one louder than a mere tee with deodorant stained pits, the lack of curves in Slayer’s logo letterforms really lend themselves to sharp objects and skin. This is what separates metal fans from the H&M bought pre-faded replica.

This blog entry has been hindered by my escalating addiction to Hypebeast’s Essentials section and the wild comments it attracts. Good to see Mr. Masta Lee from Patta in there too, repping for Lexdray, a brand that makes bags with so many pockets and secret compartments that those of us without a sense of direction are liable to get lost in their own baggage during the packing process. I want to see a book of the images by the end of the year, provided that they include the talkback remarks too. S95s, MacBooks, firearms, Goyard goods and lots of Supreme box logos have all featured, but the layout, with the rollover crosses for extra detail, is impeccable. It sates a certain hypelust for details and gives keyboard Conans something else to vent about.

I haven’t seen anybody break out an Acer netbook yet, but it’s good to see that there are still some BlackBerry users out there — can people really type as fast without keys as they could with them? The sole thing stopping me from grabbing an iPhone is the way in which it would hinder my copywriting missions on the move. Typing anything substantial on my iPad is like trying to play a concerto on the FAO Schwartz floor piano. Scale that down and I can barely tap beyond the perimeters of a text message length before tapping out entirely. RIM fell off in a major way, but the vinegar faces of concentration on my friends, once so deft on the tactile keys of their Bolds, as they try to Instagram a wacky dog they just saw with an accompanying witticism puts me off entirely.

Eureka’s Blu-ray release of Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’ is further proof of their commitment to cult, and their newly remastered edition of the film ports some US special edition details over, but also includes the near mythical TV version, shorn of all swearing (like the legendary ITV ‘Robocop’ edit) as well. It’s such a sweary and peculiar film, that it’s perplexing that anybody would think to clip its wings to the point where “Melon farmer” would work as a suitable insult (word to Charles Bronson in ‘Mr. Majestyk’ though, because he’s one bad melon farmer). Just as Criterion block us when it comes to regional limitations, this is a Europe-only release, but at least Eureka had the good grace to put up a nifty little screen when it comes to failed loads for global ‘Repo Man’ fans.



While we’re talking 1984 punk attitude, this old ‘South Bank Show’ on Malcolm McLaren as his ‘Duck Rock’ phase went classical/R&B with ‘Fans’ is worth an hour of your time. The irritated interviews with Steve Jones and the beautiful Annabella Lwin, juxtaposed with remorseless quotable from Malcolm makes it classic, plus it reminded me of just how odd his solo work was, as he sauntered from zeitgeist to zeitgeist, letting the last movement burn as he threw himself into the next big thing.



Trying to remind myself of the joys of vinyl during a central London record shop visit, a costly Red Ninja promo in Reckless had me wondering what became of the mysterious Red Ninja? He was an act who had brief cult fame at my school with the dancehall and hip-hop fans alike. Red Ninja and Kobalt 60 were part of the soundtrack to a Fila F-13 and faux Chipie era in my hometown. I had no idea that there was a Red Ninja video, with a £100 budget that had a brief outing on ‘Dance Energy.’ Raggamuffin British hip-hop with dance moves stays winning.

Oh, and shouts to SAS and the Eurogang movement for the shout out on their ‘Tiffy’ freestyle. It took me back to days amassing CDRs of Dipset mixtapes. Props to Mega for that one.

Before the new issue of Oi Polloi’s excellent Pica~Post arrives, this interview with Shinya Hasegawa of Brooklyn-made Batten Sportswear, a former Woolrich Woolen Mills man who assisted Daiki Suzuki and has Woolrich chambray curtains in his home is worth a read. He namechecks the pioneering GERRY brand, as founded by Gerry Cunningham, rucksack and tent pioneer (read more about him here). Their ’70’s ads were amazing in terms of imagery and copywriting. Several who worked for GERRY spawned their own brands, including co-founder Dale Johnson, who went on to found DIY goose-down brand, Frostline. Somebody needs to bring the art of the homemade goose-down jacket kit back.

Lifted from a 1950 ‘LIFE’ feature, this image of a tattooed human skin, removed from the body (purported to have belonged to a gangster) by Dr. Sei-ichi Fukushi and put on display is both grotesque and amazing. the work looks amazing though. Knuckles and neck pieces are everywhere now, but at that point in time, it was a truly outsider artform and a mark of commitment. This picture makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’d like to see an exhibition of Fukushi’s supposed acquisitions.