Tag Archives: mo wax

CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE

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Anybody who sat up too late watching ITV in the mid to late 1990s will have encountered Club Nation. Sweaty clubbers, artist profiles and a segment on something loosely connected to dance music made up each episode’s contents. You may have woken up with a start to some hard trance after dropping off waiting for sleazy Davina McCall/Claudia Winkleman-fronted dating show God’s Gift (which managed to have not one, but two, celebrity sex cases on voiceover duties, when Stuart Hall was superseded by Jimmy Savile). I can vividly recall tuning in while in a state of some inebriation to randomly see my older brother on the dance floor at Bagley’s and I can also remember being smacked out my stupor by the coverage of 1997’s Contents Under Pressure exhibition at the Tramshed in London. This Stash, Futura and Lee show was something I wished I could attend, but being located in Nottingham with sporadic internet access, I was well and truly out of the loop. I grabbed the Mo’ Wax Arts exhibition booklet from Selectadisc though. While some of the pieces on display weren’t necessarily the artists’ finest work, Contents Under Pressure was something that seemed to set a precedent for elevating graffiti at the time (Haze’s Iconograffiti show a couple of years earlier from the same crew was another important moment too). There isn’t too much imagery of the exhibition online, but this episode of Club Nation includes four minutes on location at the Tramshed (skip ahead to 3:58, unless you really like the sight of hair gel and gurning), which makes it a nice bit of subcultural London history.



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JAMES

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I’m already thinking about resolutions for early 2015. One is to drag the look of this blog and the clumsy URL out of 2009 and the other is to chuck more interviews up here. This site probably wouldn’t be here without Mo’ Wax’s influence and, seeing as I chucked up some Converse press bits a few weeks back (and discussed the MW bulletin board a couple of years ago), here’s a longer version of a chat with James Lavelle on the subject of shoes for the build-up to the Nike project that dropped today. He was very gracious with his time and particularly talkative on the subject of collaborations, answering a few questions I’ve always wanted to ask. That Mo’ Wax Manga project was a significant opportunity missed.

How did the Converse project begin?

JAMES: Once the book started and was on social media right at the beginning, there were a couple of interviews right at the start of the book and it started this wave of re-interest with Mo’ Wax and I wanted to do a series of collaborations around the Mo’ Wax thing, with people who we’d worked with in the past — we did a few things with Bathing Ape again and there’s other collaborations coming as well from people we worked with in Japan. For some reason it came through that Converse would potentially be interested in doing something and I know Ian [Ginoza] from DJing back in the day and I’d done some work with him back in Asia when he was there. We met up in New York when I was there at the end of last year and we talked about doing a possible collaboration that would be a friends and family type project.

Did you pick the Jack Purcell?

To be honest with you, the sneakers that I wear the most are Jack Purcells now. So I was quite keen to be able to work with Converse as a contemporary thing, representing me as a person right now. I buy Converse — it’s the sort of thing I wear and it’s generally a Jack Purcell. I designed it with them basically and the detail was really, really important. Just new ways and new technologies and things that hadn’t necessarily been down before — the idea was to create something that had the Mo’ Wax feel. I really wanted to create a shoe that would stand out as a shoe in its own right and wasn’t gimmicky or over the top and garish. It would fit in with where I was at now and not necessarily where I was at 15 years ago, do you know what I mean? It was with me and Matt [Sleep]. Ian facilitated it and has been very open, like, “Do what you wanna do!”

To be honest, there wasn’t much compromise with what we did. The idea was to take something that was iconic from Mo’ Wax, so the camouflage — it’s a recurring theme in a lot of elements of what we’ve used recently. It’s on the book, it’s on the Nike sneaker, it’s in the Nike garms, it’s on a lot of other collaborations — all these other things, like the Medicom. It’s not a graphic design thing — it has a pattern quality to it. It has something that, in its own right — away from Mo’ Wax — is an interesting image. I didn’t want to do anything where it felt like we were printing images, like when we did the DUNKLE and it was really garish, with lots going on. How can we get the design aesthetic into something really subtle? And with the mids, it was just self-indulgent for me because I really wanted to do something with stingray or something that had an interesting fabric to it. We talked through lots of ideas and I’d just seen the Margiela shoe and was quite jealous of that, with it being such a great idea. They were very much against repeating anything that might have been done in the past or something that was too similar to something that was going on, because I’d suggested about something that involved painting shoes — then I saw the Margiela and was like, “Oh fuck, that one’s done.” So what was interesting with that was keeping subtle themes going, like having Mo’ Wax on the sole of the feet or on the tips of the laces or on the insole or on the little strip on the back — there’s this sort of Mo’ Wax touch. But the stingray was just to try and apply something that would hopefully look pretty cool.

Stingray always looks good — I’ve seen real stingray used on a New Balance before.

The only compromise was that I couldn’t use the real thing. There’s laws about exotic materials. But actually, how it came out was pretty cool because it has a weird, unique feel to it.

Collaboration culture really seems to have become a business model now rather an organic act or logical progression. Do you keep up with the current state of collaborations?

No, I’m pretty out of that world now. I don’t pay masses of attention. Because what I was doing back then was about being part of the culture and reacting to that environment. Once it became a business it changed. I mean, collaborations have been going on forever — it’s the nature of the collaborations that changed and the way that certain companies that were unapproachable that you’ve grown up with, that I’ve grown up with — Nike sneakers, Medicom toys, Major Force…all of these things that, when I was a kid, were the things that you collected and the things that you never dream that you’d ever be able to be a part of, were suddenly something that you had access to. And as those things became cool — most people forget that a lot of the things I did at the time did not do very well, because people weren’t very interested in buying the toys, and they weren’t very interested in buying all the stuff and that’s one of the reasons that Mo’ Wax isn’t around any more — and they were in very, very small circles, because there wasn’t the internet involved back then, so things weren’t like they are. You couldn’t see Japan in that way — you had to go there.

So there was sort of a mythology and there was something very much about a united group of people around the world that were collaborating together and also getting to collaborate on the things that they’d admired or grown up on, so Nike was involved. And in many ways, Nike was the beginning of that, because Nike was a commercial brand. It was adidas and Nike, with Nigo doing Bathing Ape and adidas and Nike doing things like the Dunk and other collaborations with Futura and Stash — they were the first time that companies like that were doing fashion-based collaborations or music-based collaborations generally. Nike never did that before and adidas had a bit of history. And once it opened up, it just became the norm that everybody and every company had a Bearbrick, from Chanel to Gucci. Everything becomes a limited edition, you know? From Top Shop to whatever. It’s just a way of marketing things now, more than anything else. It wasn’t really about marketing back in the day — it wasn’t thought out. It was based around a small community of people.

There seemed to be a lot of collaborations that never dropped with Mo’ Wax. There was a Vans that never dropped, plus a mooted Clarks collaboration.

Yeah. There were so many things I tried to do. You see things in the book like the 3D toy and Vans stuff. Then the LEGO. There was the Glen Friedman poster. There was a lot of stuff that we tried to do — a lot of records and a lot of people that we were going to work with that never happened and to was pre-internet and it was a pretty mad, young hedonistic, lunatics taking over the asylum kind of time, you now? So you’d meet somebody that wanted to do something at a company and maybe by the time you got so far, they would have left, or the company closed down or moved on. There was Manga film — was talking to Manga for a year about making a movie. I was talking to a games company for a while about a game. There was endless stuff that never came out — there was almost more of that than the stuff that came out.

Mo’ Wax never really seemed to end for me — I only called off the search on the Friedman poster five years ago. I forget how young you were then — it makes me feel lazy.

I dunno man. It’s hard to look at yourself then. It was a long time ago and I was a different person really. I think one of the fundamental things was that I was very young but so were many of the people who were the fabric of the label — Shadow, Ben, Will, Charlie — everybody was young. Most music that you hear now that’s big is from young people, whether it’s the XX or Young Turks. There’s always that spark in music that creates a lot of people who are successful. With design and art it’s happened more in the last twenty years because of the nature of information and how we look at things. But back in the day, if you were a designer or whatever, it was just before Lee McQueen and that new generation. Most people would work in that world honing their skills for a long time so you know? Your image was based around older, more successful designers and people that had quite a long history of learning their craft.

With the whole friends and family nature of the Converse project it feels like a celebration — has the Southbank project and book allowed you to just back at what you did in a fonder way and see the influence?

It’s funny. I was with Michèle Lamy, who’s Rick Owens’ wife, at Meltdown. It was mad seeing her read the book because she was just fascinated and she said, “Oh, I thought Kanye and Pharrell invented all this — I can’t believe this is 10 years earlier!” So in that way, it’s great. It’s a mixed emotional experience for me because there’s a lot of regret and emotional history and time but there’s also a lot of joy and it’s been really good working with Ben — and that’s been a very consistent relationship — and how we went through it and achieved that process. It’s great that sort of came together and Meltdown came together and could be celebrated in that way and the opening of the exhibition was a very wonderful evening. Going back to your last question, it’s about that environment you’re in as well. Mo’ Wax was a product of its environment and that success was when the environment was really thriving and there was an amazing amount of imagination and creativity, you know? And so looking at this room and seeing all these people that were there…also, a lot of these people at that period in time had a lot of politics. Part of what I did was bring people together who wouldn’t necessarily work together, so we were trying to weave around the politics to achieve something. So that made it quite difficult and quite volatile at times — seeing all these people in one room, and some hadn’t spoken in 10 or 15 years, or fallen out, and them leaving that behind was very joyous. I think, by being in a public space like the Southbank, we all just looked at ourselves and went, “Oh fuck! We’re all part of this.” That was an amazing time and how brilliant it is that it’s being celebrated.

The record as a tangible, beautifully packaged thing seems like a thing of the past now.

It was an amazing time, but you’re young and your priorities are different. There was an infrastructure and there were successes. There was just this will to create and to do — we did a lot of stuff. It was a different time. In many ways the internet has changed a lot of how creativity works — some for the good and some for the bad. With record labels it totally changed because of the fact that there’s free digital records. People would buy records and there was money to spend on making them because they had an economic value. There are still a lot of interesting, creative labels that do unique things — I think that it’s more boutique now. Mo’ Wax was actually quite successful and well-known — it was a successful brand in that we were selling a million Shadow records and we weren’t selling 500 limited edition 180-gram, hand printed records.

As far as the relationship between Nike and Mo’ Wax, how did that begin? I recall a CD back in early 1997…

Yeah, yeah, the running thing that we did. That was weird. I can’t remember what the hell was going on there — that was a really strange project that was. It really did not connect — I wouldn’t connect the dots between that project and creating a sneaker. To be honest with you, that Nike project, and if my memory serves me right because it was a fucking long time ago, it was done through a marketing company — an ad agency. We were always interested in doing things like that — I think the mad thing with that was that it had to be all new music and there couldn’t be any samples. That’s why it ended up being Richard File and Ils doing it.

How did the real Nike relationship begin?

At the beginning we all went out for dinner with Sandy [Bodecker], Mark [Parker] and various others — it was me, Michael Kopelman, Fraser, Giorgio and the guys from Nike. I remember that I had to leave very quickly because I was going to a Queens of the Stone Age gig. I was like, “Hi, nice to meet you!” And they were like, “What would you do?” and I just said, “An UNKLE shoe or something like that…” and it just seemed to happen. So Fraser and I met them at the same time —he wasn’t working with Nike then. Fraser was at Footpatrol then — that’s when the collaborations with them started.

So how did the new project come about?

I spoke to Fraser and spoke about the book and originally asked if we could reissue or do something with the Dunk — I was put in contact with SB and for some reason we didn’t connect. I was meant to have a meeting with some guy and that never happened. Then Fraser asked if I wanted to do something with him and he asked me if I liked the Blazer. I really like the Blazer — I like what Supreme have done with the Blazer. And he showed me the Destroyer jacket and we went from there. And with that collaboration, what I really wanted to do was not use too much of the old graphics.There’s camo in part of the shoe design but it’s done subtly. There’s inner-linings and embossing again. I like repeat graphic patterns — buying into that and repeating imagery in a classic sort of Warhol-esque way. So the Converse and Nike are linked but they don’t look the same — there’s recurring theme and the history’s there. There’s a bit of Ben and there’s a bit of me and a bit of Futura — a bit of Mo’ Wax in general. But the thing with Gio is that when we looking at placing logos on the Destroyer that has patches and stuff, we found the original ideas garish and it wasn’t something that you would want to wear. While this is a Mo’ Wax collaboration, I want these to be wearable. things — I don’t just want it to be for Mo’ Wax people and I wanted to wear it myself, you know?

What’s the concept behind the Nike project?

What is it about Mo’ Wax that we’re trying to translate in a shoe? It’s this kind of sample culture idea of Mo’ Wax being part of this generation and why people made the records they did. It was this sample collage generation. We’re trying to look at how to use these elements and do something different. So I thought it would be good to take this idea of sample culture and collage and build and destroy and all of these words that were asserted with Mo’ Wax, because there was a lot of wording on Mo’ Wax records and were on the advertising — I took the classic titling like “Headz”, “sample culture”, “build and destroy” and “our past is your future” and asked Gio to basically write them out and because he also writes backwards, again it’s sort of something where it’s not in your face — it just becomes textual but there’s a historical and a wording concept to it — so yeah, it was just trying to play with how you how you make a record and apply that to something else. The whole thing with the shoe was that there’s lots of different fabrics so there’s it has this sample and collage feel to it.

How did you meet Gio? That’s a relationship that goes back a long way, right?

I met him 19 years ago. He did work on UNKLE stuff and Mo’ Wax stuff. There’s a toy with him that never came out that’s in the book. It’s a skateboarder toy of one of his characters. He is one of my closest, most dear, best, best friends. He’s like my brother. I have of some of his work that he did for me on my arm. When you’re designing the thing I want a certain amount of connection to what we’re doing so it connects you in a way that’s subtle and justifies the work to me by giving it context.

Is the orange lining an MA-1 reference?

Yes. It’s very classic of that era.

Were you a big Blazer fan when it came to that model? You mentioned the Supreme collaboration but it also stretches back to the Glen Friedman images of Tony Alva wearing a pair. It has subcultural relevance.

Yeah. I’ve worn Blazers back in the day — I’m a fan and a I really liked what Supreme had done and I liked it because it was classic. I didn’t want a new tech shoe. I wanted something that I’d wear. I’d do a Dunk because it reflects the time or an Air Force 1 because those were the trainers that we generally wore but I wouldn’t really wear them now so I wanted something a bit more subtle. Build and Destroy repeats on both the Nike and Converse so there’s little links.

Do you follow the build and destroy ethos to some degree?

It was just something that me and Shadow used to talk about a lot when making records. Make something and build it up then move onto something new. It was always about trying to be new — it’s not about being negative.

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THE ONE PERCENT

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Continuing the dewy-eyed Soho nostalgia trip from a couple of weeks back, Sofarok upped the early 1990s (1992/93?) Bond International catalogue onto his Flickr account that @rdadub kindly took the effort to supply and scan. Between this and the 1997 magalogue, there’s more imagery of Pervert clothing than I’ve ever seen online (and there’s a little more information on Pervert right here). Newburgh Street was the spot — Rhyme Syndicate merchandise, Insane, Ben Davis, NFC, Stüssy, Goodenough, Carhartt and Tommy Boy were all in here with a nice global concept that indicates that they put in work. Anyone interested in notions of streetwear and London’s role as a hub for interesting brands beck in the day should check this out.

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The internet has been spitting out jewels this week — if you’re interested in shoes and don’t mess with the Air Humara, Terra Humara or Air Minot, we can’t talk. Those are Peter Fogg designs and he’s one of my favourite footwear designers ever and this Sole Collector series of videos where Nick chats to the people behind the shoes is cool, with some gems coming out of the conversations — the Terra Humara is apparently based on a brake disc from a motorbike.

I also never knew that Steve Van Zandt (one of my heroes) pulled a real-life Silvio Dante move and saved Paul Simon from being assassinated. This Jocks & Nerds piece on Mo’ Wax by former Straight No Chaser man Paul Bradshow is a great read too.

Idiot Twitter was afire with Pharrell hat jokes this week, but it was good to see some discourse on the Buffalo hat resulting from that. There’s none more b-boy or b-girl than that headwear in all its Peru-inspired glory and the fact that, like Bond International, it’s a British creation with overseas connections has got me feeling unexpectedly patriotic right now.



INTERVIEW

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I don’t have much of an inclination to be a writer or journalist. If an opportunity arises, I’m occasionally keen to participate, but the assumption of free work and a brief period spent in the competitive wastelands of fishing for freelance work soured any keenness I once displayed. I still enjoy interviewing people and maintain a wish list of subjects I’d love to document a conversation with. On the writing front, I’d sooner write a brief piece on a product for a brand for money than waste my energy peddling glorified advertorial for nothing. I think out-and-out corporate copy is a little more honest.

Despite this cautious approach, I wanted to speak to my friend Maxime Buchi because he doesn’t deal in one-word replies and because he asked if I wanted to conduct an interview to coincide with the release of Sang Bleu #6. If you have common ground but never grew up together, it’s strange how much conversation discusses other people’s past and output without ever broaching personal stories. If you know Mr. Buchi, you know that he’s an intense individual with a multitude of philosophies.

After conducting this interview almost a year ago in an incredibly noisy branch of Byron Burger (where background sound and dense dialogue muffled by food munching made it hell to transcribe), our outlet to publish it made the decision to stop running features. A few other outlets were approached but they wanted it edited down, which we felt rendered it pointless (and made me give up on magazines that operate within the industry I work entirely) and a mismatch for Sang Bleu’s glorious sprawl. Another good friend, Nick Schonberger wrote a great intro, but still, we had no choice getting our doomed chat published anywhere – either digitally or on paper – so Maxime upped it on the Sang Bleu site a couple of days ago. I’m blaming Maxime for any typos too. Here’s an extract:

GARY: You’ve got a Gucci Mane tattoo. What incited that addition to your body?

MAXIME: Gucci Mane as a rapper is pushing what I think is postmodern. He represents my idea of postmodernism in rap. Even before the albums he was representing something extreme and new in the same way as NWA back then. If you listen to it now, late 1980s rap was so theatrical. And then in the early 1990s, tension started building up. If you listen to NWA going into ‘The Chronic’ and if you listen to Ice Cube’s solo albums you can feel that it’s getting more and more serious.

G: It reaches an apex around 1992.

M: With the LA Riots.

G: When’s the first time you saw tattooing in hip-hop? Tone Loc’s Crip tattoos were early. There were a lot of shoulder tattoos but Treach from Naughty by Nature seemed to be on forearms early.

M: You know what? I just remembered the other day, that the first rap tattoo I remember was a French rapper from the group NTM.

G: What was the tattoo?

M: It was a logo that MODE2 designed.

G: MODE2′s and Chrome Angelz’ work lends itself to a tattoo very well.

M: MODE2 designed that logo and it was the cover of their very first single. It was a mini CD. Joey Starr had it tattooed at the top of his shoulder. You can see it in the video of ‘Le Monde De Demain.’ If I remember well, I even got it as a sticker in on of the early issue of infamous french rap fanzine ‘Get Busy,’ I am not talking about the watered-down 2000 resurrection, but about the early 90′s photocopied ones. The first copy I got — the one with the sticker — had a MODE2 illustration on the cover too. I still have it. It’s amazing. I used to think that the first rap related tattoo I was struck by was in the Warren G ‘Regulate’ CD booklet.

G: The ‘Long Beach’ back piece?

M: Yes. It’s so good.

G: You grew up in Switzerland. What was the hip-hop scene like there? Is it like Germany, where people really get into things?

M: Yes. I have a feeling that hip-hop kicked off in France and Germany as a very serious cultural thing. Switzerland came early too. Bambaata used to visit. We had the Zulu Nation, of which I was a member. Those who could were traveling to NY as if it was going to Mecca.

G: If you can only get certain things sent over, you’re going to get serious. What got you into hip-hop?

M: Rap. I grew up in a very political environment and my parents were very left wing.

G: Were they bohemians?

M: Kind of. In a Swiss way, whatever that means! They had strong values. I read ‘The Communist Manifesto’ when I was a teenager. I declared I was a communist when I was 12. Obviously, I didn’t know what it really meant, but I could understand and agreed people should generally be more equal. My grandmother was an Italian Protestant. We had that obsession with America right out of post war Italy. And also because of the hippy culture my parents were into.

G: Did your parents have any interest in the Black Panthers?

M: Absolutely. My parents didn’t like punk. For them it wasn’t an option. It influenced me. For them rap was that fight in America for civil rights. Obviously, they couldn’t understand the lyrics – then they might have had another opinion. They might have had another opinion. The first rap I heard was Run DMC’s ‘Tougher Than Leather’ which was pretty hardcore. Rhythmically and lyrically it’s pretty tough. From then onwards I was only interested in things that were tough sounding.

G: Getting a backpiece as a first tattoo is a bold move. Don’t most people end with that?

M: In Japanese tattooing you start with your back then expand to your entire body and that’s totally how I approached it. I was totally ready for such a commitment. I had been considering my tattoo for a long time. That’s just the way I am. A backpiece is a personal and symbolic investment. It’s like having a good watch. Not a lot of people know, but those that know appreciate.

Check out the whole interview right here.

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Jorg at Beinghunted has started talking about the origins of his site. I’ve long cited BH as a key inspiration on what I do and with the current array of content management tools, sites like that being updated in HTML makes them seem like something from another world. Ease-of-use 12 years later is staggering, but as the man points out, it still works. I remember seeing the Hideout version of the Nike Presto on there (see above) in late 2001 and desperately hunting them until they mentioned that they were a one-off a few weeks later. Were they made by Nike? I’ve never known, but that Jordan IV Cement theme seemed unique at the time. Bear in mind that these were the days when an Alpha Project shoe could appear in a major Hollywood production, like this cameo from the Zoom Seismic in 2000’s Hollow Man.

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The Mo’ Wax Urban Archeology trailer shows that James Lavelle and everybody else involved seems to have plenty to dig through. This video was presumably meant to coincide with a Kickstarter link to raise book and exhibition money, but at least it’s happening. There’s plenty of Mo’ Wax music I couldn’t listen to in 2013, but the imagery and ephemera collated is something I’m keen to see. Will the Mo’ Wax Bulletin Board get a mention too? That was a key digital nerd meet up spot to see in a new century and wait for releases that never seemed to happen.

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A-Z

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Self-publicity time. Shouts to Nike and Not Actual Size for letting me write this Nike Free A-Z. Nice to get to work on a project that’s based on contemporary runners and technologies, plus it takes me back to reading the old Crooked Tongues Tobie Hatfield feature from 2004 and thinking that I’d quite like to write something along those lines one day. The downside? Because it’s 2013, it’s one of those new-fangled digital book simulations. My mum won’t believe that kind of thing constitutes real work because it’s “the internet.” Only tangible, tactile evidence that I do anything will ever suffice. Anyway, go flick through that as proof that not everything I write is full of cowardly subliminal shots and poorly punctuated anger. Apparently there was a launch for the campaign the other day and Steve Cram was there — somebody should have made him some black and yellow Cram Windrunners with a Free sole specially for his appearance. I now know more about the science of shoe technologies than I did in January of this year. It’s nice to work on projects relating to products I can safely say I mess with without sounding like a corporate stooge. Maybe a childhood spent memorising old Nike ads — while other kids were actually doing sports that the shoes were intended for — wasn’t entirely squandered.



As an antidote to the nausea of self-promotion, Criterion‘s YouTube channel has been uploading some nice videos for the 40th anniversary DVD and Blu-ray release of Badlands, including the first four minutes of the movie, just to remind you how flawless that use of a narration is. Martin Sheen’s Kit is the coolest serial killer in film history and Malick’s direction and Tak Fujimoto’s cinematography are a perfect partnership. This disturbing and poetic true-crime (though the names were changed) classic proves that you don’t need gimmicks to make a movie with style. And because this is a period piece, Badlands never dates – plus it inspired Bruuuuuce to record Nebraska. I’ll always be in debt to Alex Cox for putting me onto this film as a double bill with 1951’s The Prowler (James Ellroy’s favorite film) on BBC2’s Moviedrome – a meanness in this world portrayed with unsurpassed elegance. I can watch this time and time again – the rumoured 6-hour cut of Tree of Life? I’ll pass, thanks.







Stüssy are putting out a twice-yearly publication called Stüssy Biannual. Given their sheer volume of projects, global tribe connects and emphasis on photography, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. For years I hoarded infrequent Stüssy mook releases from Japan, but an English language equivalent would be very welcome. Dropping on Friday, Stüssy Biannual #1 features contributions from Kenneth Cappello, Shaniqwa Jarvis and plenty of other talented people. Now, how about a hardcover Stüssy book, covering the brand’s history?


I wanted to see a Mo’ Wax book of some kind too, but seeing as I’m still waiting for the MWA Glen E. Friedman poster to drop, I gave up hope of anything like that happening. But Urban Archaeology is an impending book and exhibition to celebrate Mo’ Wax’s 21st anniversary that’s going to be Kickstarter funded. My interest in this project outweighs the grim realisation of how many years have passed since 1992. There’s a new site too — www.mowax21.com. They should put a bulletin board on there and weird animated launch page with Major Force West on repeat to resurrect the Beggars Group online era for the label.

THE WISHLIST – 11 THINGS I WANT BROUGHT BACK

It’s too easy to look to the past – this site is riddled with retro tendencies, riffing on the olden days. In an ideal world, it would be riddled with teched-out madness,  future shocks and the new shit, but there’s some stuff that needs to reappear, whether it’s a look at a career, a new presentation of a lost classic or a deeper delve through past glories for a brand. From a spot of speed pondering, 11 things that seem very necessary came to light. There’s a ton more worthy of mention, but here’s what seems pertinent at time-of-blogging…

A RELEASE FOR BO HARWOOD’S CASSAVETES SOUNDTRACKS

It’s curious that John Cassavetes’ body-of-work has been given a beautiful treatment by Criterion and Optimum, and that his name is on the lips of anyone talking indie opuses. As an actor (‘The Dirty Dozen’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Fury’ spring to mind) he had a serious presence, but as a director, he fathered so many styles, to quote Malice, he should’ve been handing out cigars left, right and centre. From an experiential point-of-view, everyone should watch his entire directorial output.

You’ve got to love those naturalistic performances from Falk, Rowlands and Gazzara – while the kid in ‘Gloria’ is the worst child actor ever, John could generally get a great turn in his movies. ‘The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’, his interpretation of a noirish gangster thriller is a claustrophobic, deliberately paced, gruelling experience – Gazzara as Cosmo is terrific, and the anti-glamour of his plight makes it essential viewing. Bo Harwood was a sound engineer and the man responsible for the raw “scores” for ‘A Woman Under the Influence’, ‘The Killing…’ and ‘Opening Night’ – the curious distorted electro stomp that launches ‘…Chinese Bookie’ is one of the greatest musical moments in ’70s cinema, yet it remains mystery music. Thankfully Nick Cassavetes seemed to ditch a 1997 plan for a remake. Bo Harwood talked about releasing a CD of this music with accompanying notes here, but after that…nothing.


MIKE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Not necessarily a bring-back, but without getting dumb enough to assume that Mike Tyson’s strange Italian ‘Dancing With the Stars’ appearance looking a little less rotund means he could ever re-enter the ring, it would be nice to see him take a reader through his life and career. Recent tragedy might have set things back a little, but he sent a proposal for his autobiography to five publishers this time last year, leading to a presumed bidding war. Post documentary, and after the popularity of Agassi’s effort, this is a classic in the making. Books like ‘Fire & Fear’ were lacking…the world needs a great Tyson book – ideally an official one.

CLARKS GOING THROUGH THE ARCHIVES

The Weaver Hi is set for a release later this year, and while teaming with Liam Gallagher’s deeply shitty Pretty Green label means Clarks Originals loses some luster, the plaintoe version of the Wallabee is an inevitability. That should earn back some points. But how about the brand digs a little deeper? The truly barmy Deep Country boot, heavy on the crepe, and the Padmore, with its formalised plaintoe look would be a welcome resurrection too – a pipe dream of course, because as the name suggests, an Asian-made Padmore, regardless of accuracy, would make no sense.

MIRACLEMAN EMERGES FROM LEGAL LIMBO

If you were savvy or lucky enough to get talked around by a comic shop staffer in 1990 into grabbing the perfect bound Eclipse reissues, you know that Alan Moore’s work on ‘Miracleman’ is phenomenal, matching ‘Watchmen’ and ‘From Hell’ – evoking a glorious ’80s era of UK comics. If you weren’t that fortunate, you’ve been deprived of a masterpiece – eBay and Amazon Marketplace prices are daft at present. The reason? A tangled legal mess that seemed to embroil every imprint in the industry with rights issues left, right and centre. Marvel got the rights, announcing this last Summer. Rumour has it, a monthly issue-by-issue reprint could happen. Alan Moore has pledged his profits will go to the character’s creator (originally ‘Marvelman’) – 94 year old Brit-funnybook legend Mick Anglo.

ACG OPENS THE VAULTS

If whispers about Nike scheming to take it there with All Conditions Gear are true, then a balance between the old and brand new would be a beautiful thing. The 20th anniversary of the sub-brand was cool last year, but for fanboys, not enough. It’s never enough. A Tarn reissue would be great, but a Kibo High would be killer too. While it should’ve been an ACG flagship, instead it fell into the ‘Nike Hiking’ line on its introduction. One of Nike’s very best.

MO’ WAX: THE BOOK

When it comes to talk of the rise and fall of James Lavelle’s empire and its rise and fall, laugh it up fuzzballs. Mo’ Wax collated a lifestyle that has its considerable dips and troughs but now, going on the aspirational drivel of ‘How To Make It In America’, it’s well and truly part of the mainstream. Most probably have a stack of beautifully packaged nothingness gathering dust with the Mo’ Wax logo affixed alongside the essential stuff, but visually, the label never let the consumer down. Logos, artwork, marketing – this was total obsession. Like ‘Miracleman’ there were label rights issues that caused extra complications, and several artists were, apparently, less-than-happy. REAS’s art on the overlooked ‘Now Thing’ compilation, one of the last label releases is classic material. Bankhead, Drury, Futura and the rest’s work deserves to be collated in one tome. Hope Rizzoli Editions are listening…

CRITERION’S ‘THIN RED LINE’

Criterion have been cryptically promising a Terrence Malick release for a minute, and their excellent monthly newsletter included a cartoon hint at what’s on the horizon. Could that be deciphered as ‘The Thin Red Line’ on Blu-Ray? They get the gasface for regionally coding the Blu-Ray releases, but if that cartoon translates as the Malick masterpiece – one of the greatest war movies ever made, the potential is immense. No slouches on the extras, could this Criterion version lead to the premiere of the 6 hour version and those deleted Haas. Rourke, Mortenson, Thornton, Oldman and Sheen appearances restored?

RAP-A-LOT REMASTERS

James Prince’s Rap-A-Lot empire created a blueprint for the south. If you don’t like Geto Boys, Outlaws, Big Mike and 5th Ward Boyz, you’re slipping. In Z-Ro they’ve still got a legend on the books. It’s a shame that Trae and Devin the Dude departed, but with such a spectacular back catalogue, a definitive documentary, remastered albums with bonus DVDs and more would reinforce just how hard this label changed the game. Pill and Yelawolf rep the new breed of down south spitters, but while NYC marinades in its own nostalgia, the south has been too busy progressing to take time out to chart its history beyond local common knowledge. Maybe it’s time to do that.

EGO TRIPPIN’ 2010

Super-publisher Ted Bawno’s Tweets are a necessary follow, but he recently made a more overt reference to the return of the mighty Ego Trip. Will it be online? Televisual? In print? They’ve done all three with aplomb before, but as the editorial team split to take over the industry post ’98, they could bring the magic back with ease. Lest you forget, Brent Rollins’ design, that mix of hardcore, skate and hip-hop, plus Supreme in the fashion shoots and ads before you knew what it was made for the best magazine ever made. And following that, the best book on hip-hop ever written. Note to the herbs – don’t underestimate Ego Trip.

UNDERCOVER TAKES IT BACK PROGRESSIVELY

The whole beige and cardigan thing is done. Where’s streetwear when you need it? Oh yeah, there it is – people are still making referential print tees, except now they have to have a Vimeo teaser. Where can you turn? You can look to one of the originators; Jun Takahashi for a start. Undercover seemed to go back to its roots without compromising the high-end traits of the brand and showed a flailing industry how its done. Most lines are unwearable but buoyed by e-sycophancy – Jun however, is a don. Posing himself for an ill lookbook,  you can assume that there’ll be a trickle down of what’s on display via lesser brands. Is this the return of Tokyo street circa 2000? Did things just go full circle? Bet Jun’s apecentric former partner-in-crime drops something serious too…

KILLER CAMO

It’s quite clear that camouflage is back – bear in mind, if you’ve watched the new CNN/Imam Thug, it never actually went anywhere, but as maharishi sank and all-over print overkill set in, it became endemic of streetwear’s overkill. That of course, is bullshit, Camo is timeless, and while fickle types went all Americana, it kept on developing – last month ACUPAT was, as rumoured for a few years now, apparently succeeded by MultiCam as US-army issue for the next tour of Afghanistan. Even British soldiers out there get a MultiCam influenced version of DPM in Multi-Terrain Pattern as of this month too. It looks good on a version of Oakley’s Land, Sea, Air boot set for Summer and an Arc’teryx combat jacket for the LEAF line too.