Tag Archives: punk

PUBLIC ENEMY & STENCILS

outoftheblue1980publicenemywall

God bless social media. Even a modest following contains some knowledge kings and Nick Woj (of Cold World/Nervous Juvenile) is no halfway culture kid. Nick cleared up an age-old mystery for me with the most logical answer I’ve heard for it. You’ve probably seen Dennis Hopper’s 1980 film Out of the Blue if you visit this blog a bit, because it’s a cult favourite round these parts (not least for Hopper’s mad performance, that matches Frank and Feck for wild-eyed mania) — this Canuck production one-third slow-burner, one-third teen punk classic and one-third memorable melodramatics. Continue reading PUBLIC ENEMY & STENCILS

TECHNOLOGY & OTHER STUFF

Sometimes it’s nice to break away from the WordPress logger look and wear something a little more progressive. The best work comes from those with a more nebulous approach to clobber than just remaking past triumphs and Mr. Dominic Stansfield is one of those chaps who knows clothing design inside out, displaying otaku levels of interest in military apparel, but grew bored of the fixation with all things waxy and quaint. As has been reinforced here and elsewhere, the best things come from the minds knowledgeable enough to get playful. They’re not the Muppets banging on about curating or tastemaking, but rather the ones quietly getting shit done in the background. Rushmore and Stansfield were doing the stuff that everyone’s into now a while ago and swiftly moved onto the next thing after suffering an attack of reverse nostalgia. Stansfield’s work was already playing with existing design rather than being some kind of repro-facilitator, so what would happen if he was given an almost limitless supply of manufacturing resources? You get UVU.

While we wait for Mr. Stansfield’s sweatshirt project (bearing in mind he appreciates a Reverse Weave or two), the UVU collection is shaping up nicely. Notions of everyday performance sound nice when they’re reeled off in a brainstorm for the easily impressed, but when they’ve got you looking like some kind of angular future cop from the waist up once they’re on your back, the novelty swiftly wears off. That’s why real performance needs to be the driving force of technical apparel somewhere down the line. That’s why I love Arc’teryx, ACG and Rapha. Bear in mind that even Hiroki Nakamura learnt his craft at Burton before he started emptying your pocket with those beautiful boots and jackets.

UVU is made by KTC, who know performance manufacture inside out and it shows in the samples. Just as there’s evidently room in the market for a hundred old Sierra Designs-alikes, there should be room for several technical contenders when that bubble bursts. Hopefully the explosion should usher in the next rather than some neo-heritage twattery. This interview with FreshBritain main man Bob Sheard on the KTC site, discussing breaking down costs, brand integrity and notions of authenticity is excellent, as is the piece on Chinese manufacture. Like most people, I feel the urge to kit myself out with gear that could perform. That’s not to say I’ll ever put my Lunar Eclipses or Arc’teryx Alpha SV through the paces that they’re built for, but it’s nice to know that in a pursuit situation, or should I find myself stranded on a hill somewhere, I might survive an extra quarter of an hour before I’m stabbed or eaten by a bear. That’s what made wearing the UVU North Pole Race Jacket to commute to work these last few weeks amusing.

I can’t say I put the jacket through its paces, but I enjoyed the experience, despite being a little thrown by the pockets zipping upwards. That’s the kind of thing I would probably appreciate if I was legging it in sub-zero conditions where time wasted equals fingertips. Intact fingers crossed, I’ll never find myself in that situation.

At an un-athletic, luddite level I appreciated the olive accents and reflective ‘U’ details, plus the way the hood protected my massive head from rain without sending me sprawling across a car bonnet when I was crossing Euston Road. There’s your performance review. Set to offer casual counterparts to each part of a hardcore, cold running layering system, you can expect water resistant fleece sweats and shirts (that’s shirting in bellend parlance) with bonded seams that don’t make you look like you’ve just fallen from space — again, to create wardrobe staples that can perform without getting tackily techy from a visual standpoint is quite an achievement. I’m interested in seeing where UVU goes in 2012.

I’m also interested in seeing what Mos Def, Chris Gibbs and Alyasha are cooking up collaboratively for 2012 too. Did they meet up as some secret society for the really fucking well dressed?

Other things on the internet that are far more interesting than this blog include the Martorialist interviewing Mob Style’s Fred Flak and Loomstate covering the opening of the London Ralph Lauren RRL store on Mount Street this week. Dapper looks abound in those photos and the Deadwood theme to some pieces reminded me of my regret at not bidding on the Deadwood wardrobe when the show was officially deaded (I think I blogged it here somewhere). Now Al Swearengen’s suit and underwear will set you back $7000, which is probably how much a similar RRL set would cost. Just as Très Bien have started stocking Alden’s Cordovan leather goods (the frequent object of my affections), RRL London has its own black, limited to 20 pair, take on the brand’s Cordovan Madison boot. Europe’s horse population should start panicking, but I imagine it’s the ones near Chicago’s Horween tannery that are really shitting themselves.

Rice-tranced rap god Riff Raff’s twitter antics are easily the best of any rapper doing social media (“TALKiNG ON MY iPHONE SMELLiNG LiKE A PiNE CONE”) and he’s also alluded that he’s selling a copy of his alien chain with an “Ain’t nothing important to me except …codeine over ice” cup. Riff-Raff is a good advert for codeine misuse, and his twitpic group shot of chains (sadly excluding his Slimer effort) is inspirational in its riced-out glory.

Searching for some old West Coast punk footage for one reason or another, I reacquainted myself with ‘Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest’ documentary, but I hadn’t seen this footage of Gary Panter and Penelope Spheeris being patronised by Stanley Siegel in 1981. The heavy metal kid in the Hawaiian shirt is a true boss.

BEST FILM BOOK EVER?

Did this year really include a hardback tome on the history of the Vocoder and a full guide to punks in movies? Somebody up there likes us. You need ‘Destroy All Movies!!’ in your life. It’s heartening to know that there’s people out there who are truly sick with it. Like, really, really obsessed with a single niche. Like cinematic punkers. As in every single punk appearance in a film, whether it’s the substantial role played by Trash and company in ‘Return of the Living Dead’, classic documentaries like ‘DOA’ or the nerve pinched punker in ‘Star Trek IV’…then onto the b-movies of the 1980s where every vigilante grindhouse treat, slasher, sex comedy or subculture cash-in included at least one does of mohawked bad attitude or an outsider with studs on a jacket. Who would be deranged enough to try to compile this? Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly amassed a crew of fellow weirdos and trawled increasingly defunct VHS rental spots to create the definitive tome on punks in movies. Everything’s here—even the blink-and-miss crowd moments warrant a full review.

The very best books on cinema, like Kim Newman’s ‘Nightmare Movies’ (which gets an update next April), Chas Balun’s (R.I.P.) ‘Gore Score’, Danny Peary’s ‘Cult Films’ trilogy, Stephen Thrower’s ‘Nightmare USA’ or Creation Books titles like David Kerekes’s ‘Killing For Culture’, this one will make you realise that you’ve only just scratched the surface of b-movies and provide a comprehensive education on some total rarities. Where else does Fassbinder in animal print nestle alongside an interview with the man who helmed 1989’s sleazy ‘Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate’. Even old favourites like Penelope Spheeris’s superior punker flick ‘Suburbia’, ‘Ladies & Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains’ and ‘Times Square’ benefit from added insight and a few sacred cows are skewered throughout. Fantagraphics have been sating a personal taste for the esoteric since my childhood, but this one really has blown me away. There’s even an enlightening interview with Ian MacKaye that answers a few open questions from repeat viewings of ‘Another State of Mind’.

With YouTube and imdb.com primed, the reading experience is even more enlightening. It’s a single-minded subject matter, but it’s surprising how much the rebel figure invaded cinema over the last thirty something years, which makes this one resonate even harder. There’s a curious diplomacy to ‘Fight Club’ getting the same level of coverage as ‘Grotesque’—a truly split-personality viewing experience which veers from home invasion grittiness to high camp. The entire tome has a no-frills, but truly thorough feel that evokes memories of finding similarly obsessive retrospectives in comic book stores, university libraries and second-hand book stores. It’s instantly familiar but riddles with surprises. Hell, there’s a lot of information that’s a Google search away, but it’s never this lucid, structured, insightful or crucially, offered in one place. A sense of seen-it-all complacency gave way to a certain urgency after an inaugural browse—’UK/DK’ and ‘Scarred’ just went on the must-see list.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll attempt to find omissions. And chances are—just like me—you’ll fail. Invest. Looking at the ‘Class of 1984’ poster art on the front, you can judge this one by its cover.

www.punksonfilm.com



KICKBOY FACE

We’re not grooving on the same vibes any more. We’re grooving on different vibes…ugly vibes.

Magazine editors can be a real disappointment. You want intensity – wild-eyed maniacs hurling submissions into the air in a rage, phlegm flying in the faces of critics taking potshots at the publication, interns beaten to a pulp for ballsing up the coffee run and artists ordered out the premises with fists raised. The reality is duller. Most of them are normal people – too normal in fact to inject their own personality across the pages. As everyone decides that they can create a readable rag on the regular despite rudimentary writing skills and life experience in regards to the lofty subject matters faked via Google, editors will become even more tiresome.

The first time I ever paid attention to the running of a magazine was back when I was left alone one in front of the idiot box twenty years ago, back when terrestrial TV scheduling was significantly better post-11pm. Not only was I faintly disturbed but impressed by the underrated and deeply eerie ‘Little Girl That Lives Down The Lane,’ but I got to see Penelope Spheeris’s ‘The Decline Of Western Civilization’ parts one and two over two consecutive nights on BBC2. That’s where I was introduced to the genius of Claude Bessy, whose wild-eyed rants, rockabilly dress-sense and out-and-out intensity as one of the main characters behind ‘Slash’ gave me the notion that being an editor could be an occupation worth pursuing, seeing as my wonky-handed illustrations were gradually deading my dreams of being the next Frank Miller.

Best of all, Claude would loathe this blog entry. He appeared to hate mediocrity and sycophancy, and was deeply critical of the music industry, and notion of a ‘new wave’ – payola, ad-money and all that other profitable stuff mixed with a lack of any in-depth know-how means that most of y’all bloggers aren’t saying a damned thing, and magazines are wall-to-wall advertorial. That wasn’t the Bessy way.

As an exported luminary of the L.A. punk scene in the late ’70s, Claude’s legendary ad-libbed rant tops the most memorable quotes from my other favourite documentaries like ‘Salesman,’ ‘The Animals Film,’ ‘DOA,’ and ‘Style Wars’ –

I have excellent news for the world. There is no such thing as new wave. It does not exist. It’s a figment of a lame cunt’s imagination. There was never any such thing as new wave. It was the polite thing to say when you were trying to explain you were not into the boring old rock ‘n’ roll but you didn’t dare to say punk because you were afraid to get kicked out of the fucking party and they wouldn’t give you coke anymore. There’s new music, there’s new underground sound, there’s noise, there’s punk, there’s power pop, there’s ska, there’s rockabilly. But new wave doesn’t mean shit.

The bile, the turn-of-phrase and the sincerity blew me away then, and it still resonates today, applicable to any fly-by-night movement, and the inevitable mass exodus to be down with it. The best part of it is, he really, really meant it. Brendan Mullen, LA punk promoter and friend of Bessy’s passed away last October, ten years to the month since Bessy died of lung cancer, but after Bessy passed, in his eulogy he wrote,

No one was sacred from his barbed wit, not even myself (and I liked to think of him as my favorite drinking crony), and certainly not the major record companies, who’d frequently find their full-page ads adjacent to an editorial review mercilessly trashing the record.”

That’s the spirit we still need. Relocating himself from Normandy to Los Angeles, Claude founded ‘Angeleno Dread’ – the county’s first reggae fanzine.That explains his choice to give himself the nom de plume, ‘Kickboy Face’ after Prince Jazzbo’s on wax attack on I-Roy; ‘Kick Boy Face,’ complete with a particularly bombastic face to foot interface on the record sleeve. Just in case that seemed too standard a career path, he also had a brief foray in acting, playing musician ‘Frenchie’ as ‘Claude Bessey’ in a 1977 Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew ‘…Meet Dracula’ crossover special. Yep, that is ‘Phantom Of The Paradise’s Paul Williams camping it up there – Claude is behind him, and that’s teen sensation Shaun Cassidy on the right. Elton’s boy Bernie Taupin is just out of shot. It’s a televisual oddity.

Entering the fray at ‘Slash’ he was a truly inspirational writer, unleashing elegant but brutal polemic like Rimbaud in a Seditionaries suit, lambasting the fly-by-night fakes and bullshit, and championing the Germs and X. The preoccupation with Lester Bangs is certainly justifiable, but while Bangs gets an affectionate portrayal in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous,’ a dramatised depiction of Kickboy in the middling Darby Crash biopic ‘What We Do Is Secret’ is more of a sweary caricature. Both scribes are linked by a vitriol that’s the byproduct of the frequently disappointing quest to find the curious romanticism at the core of don’t-give-a-fuck rock’n’roll attitude. Finding true outlaw spirit is like hunting dodos, so you can allow the writer his frequent typewriter vents.

And then there was Kickboy. Slash’s main writer was originally from France; he had the deep, melodic tone of his countrymen, a lopsided grin, and eyes that found humor in the most mundane of things. There was also a grizzled quality to his face…one that spoke of long nights spent with friends, debating the ironies and paradoxes of life. Kickboy clearly did not suffer fools well, so it’s likely that the waves of hero-worship wafting across the waiting room in his direction just irritated the hell out of him.” Aimee Cooper ‘Coloring Outside The Lines: A Memoir’

Kickboy fronted his own band, Catholic Discipline, who, despite ‘Slash’ ultimately founding its own record label post-paper (bear in mind the magazine only lasted from 1977-1980) that once housed Faith No More, never made it to wax. In 2004, a CD of compiled live recordings was released. Showcased in ‘The Decline…’ they’re actually pretty good. Disgusted by Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, Bessy left America and moved to the UK where he took a role at Rough Trade as a minister of propaganda, penning press releases. Inevitably he also crossed paths with the Factory crew and worked making scratch videos for the Hacienda and appearing underground in FACT 125 – a 1984 VHS giveaway, and the ‘TV Wipeout’ tape of the same year, repping for IKON – Factory’s US-based video division. He evidently had an instinct for tracking the zeitgeist. What went down with Rough Trade remains a mystery, but he’s the voice on Sonic Youth’s ‘C.B’ on ‘Walls Have Ears’ where he’s recorded introducing the band before a show on the 30th October 1985 with a lengthy rant condemning the label for attempting to censor the cover of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ which has a collaboration with Lydia Lunch, who also worked with Bessy in 1989.

I’m the emcee, um… so I’m supposed to be saying “let’s hear it for Sonic Youth, all the way from the states”. Except uh… actually I’d like about two minutes of your attention. Shut your fucking face, I want just two minutes of your attention, I have a very interesting little story to tell you. Two minutes, not very long, right? And it’s a… it’s a very instructive little story. Um… Sonic Youth, um, are a band.. shh shh shh… Uh, they’re about to put out a record in this country except their record company has decided to put a no-no on the record. Because of, uh… the cover which is offending some people at Rough Trade. And now, it’s not.. I mean it’s not very offensive cover, it’s uh, it’s got a naked lady, a naked Puerto Rican lady, it’s not very obscene, she’s not doing anything weird. Uh… it has nothing to do with.. you know, in this day of AIDS, an uh.. and all that shit, uh, you would think the major alternative record company would have better things to do than worry about the shape of our bodies. So, I thought I’d let you know, uh, so… um… next time you go and buy a record, and you think you’re really alternative and groovy, and uh, everybody is in… is into the alternative charts, remember it’s just like the other side except it’s a bit, a bit stranger, you know… but just remember, it’s not uh… there’s no fucking culture there, you know. There’s just as much censorship among people our age, or you know.. than anyone else.

It figures that he’d continue his work within the video medium with one William Burroughs – the beat influence was all over his work in the most positive way – taking the root cause and making his own mark across a number of disciplines rather than becoming mired in clone bohemian-lite pretension. Still, the nomadic spirit continued and England in 1987, at its yuppie peak must’ve been as repellent as Ronnie’s new world order at the turn of the decade, so he left for Spain, where his life ended twelve years later at his home in Barcelona. The role of Gitane puffing, louche bar philosopher might be a hefty Gallic stereotype (shit, I even assumed the cigarette brand on account of Claude’s nationality) but it’s a beautiful one.

“First we had no intention of sneaking out of the back door like adulterers in the night, we’re not done with the incomprehensible propaganda yet and there was such an overload of information to lay on your frail intellects, such a gorgeous display of terminal confusion and unexplained phenomena to report and inflict on your village sensibilities as well as much local cliquey foulness to deposit on your elegant rug and offend your world-conscious sophistication (we welcome all types – even the proxy thrill seekers who go slumming thru our X-rated binges), there was so much to give and share and communicate (oh what a sense of duty) that even Jah Jah the old tea head himself couldn’t have stopped this cultural apotheosis. A man with a mission delivers the goods, and when many are involved and they all come thru (take a bow boys and girls) watch out, timber, the impact might kill you. Potent stuff everywhere, droogies, a panoramic scope without equal even if it occasionally blurs out, stunning absence of manifestos and editorial unity (meaning respect in the reader and a stand still at the office), obscure beliefs exhumed from the tomb, cover symbolism (Indian land and punk music meet with…) that doubles as a fashion exclusive. No one asked for it but we can’t resist showing off, there was more but you can only take so much of a good thing. And you ought to know when to stop. Like now?” Kickboy Face editorial in ‘Slash’ Vol. 3, No. 5 (The final issue)

Further information:

www.laweekly.com/1999-10-28/art-books/thees-ees-zee-reel-shit

www.angelfire.com/nj2/cdrsmclub/kickboy.html

www.art-for-a-change.com/Punk/papers/slash.htm