Tag Archives: the outsiders

KNIVES & CHOPSTICKS

While there’s a frighteningly comprehensive movie firearms database, there’s no decent movie knife database and it’s a shame. I’m currently researching some classic cinematic blades for another project and while this Wiki was set up, it never really took off. I’ve noticed that people take knives as seriously as I take other things and why not? They’re beautiful, tactile items, provided they’re not sticking out your body. I never knew that Rutger Hauer’s switchblade in ‘The Hitcher’ was a custom Jeff Harkins Triton or that Emilio Estevez wields an extremely rare Bali Song butterfly knife during one of my favourite scenes in my favourite movie (check the thread here).

My two favourite knives, wielded by two genuinely scary characters, but unique enough to become an extension of the villain themselves, is the Night Slasher from ‘Cobra’s spiked knuckleduster knife (custom-made by Herman Schneider and later stolen, but seemingly turning up in ‘New Jack City’ 5 years later), a weapon so awesome it made me like the movie, despite the rest of it being dire and ‘Geraldine’ as wielded by Alan Arkin’s sleazy Harry Roat in 1967’s ‘Wait Until Dark.’ Geraldine is a gravity knife set inside a small statue of a woman, made in Italy as part of a run of 5 for the movie. Roat’s goth-beatnik look, with the sunglasses and leather jacket (in fact there’s a few great coats in the film on the villains), plus that final leap, makes him a memorable protagonist, but it’s Geraldine that really sets him apart from other bad guys. I can’t buy an official replica of Geraldine to keep as multiples in the cutlery drawer, but you can buy a Night Slasher repro.

It’s the switchblades that inspire the most dedication though, with this forum thread pretty much covering every screen blade to ever pop out with a satisfying click — it’s good to know what Polanski slashed Jack’s nose with in ‘Chinatown’ (a Rizzuto copy apparently), but oAROWANAo’s multi-part ‘Switchblades in the Movies’ series on YouTube is insane, covering the weapon’s appearance in movies between 1920 and 2009…89 years of slashy cameos, from backstabbing sneaks to cocaine testing from its tip. There’s a certain beauty to this device and its presence onscreen as silencer, negotiator and executioner is unbeatable.

Oscar from 1992 blogging Educated Community ‘zine covers reminded me of the couple off later issues I have in black bags somewhere. The whole New York for a Japanese visitor demographic was pretty unique and while it never came back after a #15/#16 double issue. Salutes to Yuka Iwakoshi (former X-Girl manager), Atsuko Tanaka, Hiroyuki Hatakeyama & Masaki Matsui Inada for putting in the work and documenting something genuinely interesting before the variations on a theme and global community aura deaded that aspirational downtown clubhouse mystique and made everyone feel involved. This site is promising an archive book and it’s something I’m keen to see — the fanzine’s end in 2005 feels timely, with the blog rising at that point as the new mode of education. Still, what made noise between 1999 and 2005 seems to be slowly disappearing from the internet as hosting bills aren’t paid and Google finds new ways to put the last week’s content at the forefront of a search.

Mr Chris Law sent me this video of the story of the Rip City Black Flag skateboard that fascinated me when I saw it in ‘Skateboard’ magazine a few years after that original release. The wrongly screened bars and the spray paint solution is amazing. As David Markey’s ‘We Got Power’ gets an official UK release in January, there seems to be a brief tie-in, with Jordan Schwartz involved in both the board and the book. The 1984 ‘Thrasher’ ads were pleasantly low-key and lo-fi — a Hosoi and Black Flag crossover is nice moment as bluesy misery sludge meets the aerial master’s long-haired kamikaze look.

Now that a decent burger is as ubiquitous in central London as a Starbucks and that for a few hours there was an In-N-Out on these shores, I’ll stop moaning about a dearth of the ultimate foodstuff. I don’t care about a lack of reservations or that everywhere is manned by mustachioed men in scoop neck tees with hand tattoos, just as long as their burgers are good. So what about the ramen? I wanted an Ippudo in London, but it looks like their spot’s being covered on the tonkotsu front. For years I yearned for bowls of pale fat-flecked cholesterol for lunch but could only find other ramen variants. Nagomi did a decent version but booking and peculiar opening hours put me off. Then a restaurant that called itself Tonkotsu opened up, but a Japanese friend recommended somewhere else for a non-porky variant having been disappointed by their noodles.

I’ve had my eye on Bone Daddies on Peter Street (opposite Supreme, to create an axis of food and noodle hype) since ex-Nobu head chef Ross Shonhan displayed an obvious enthusiasm for tonkotsu in this interview. It didn’t disappoint (and was half price for the opening weekend too), with that salty complexity in the broth and an egg that was boiled properly rather than neglected until it’s white and beige (Shonhan understands the importance of the egg to a good bowl or ramen. As time goes on, that bowl should get better and better (Bone Daddies had barely been open longer than the 20 hour pork bone boil when I visited). The killer application (figuratively and literally) was the extra pipette of pork fat I added to mine for 50p. All dishes should come with the pipette option. When I fall to the ground, clutching my chest, you can blame the tonkotsu and that greasy, clinically applied optional extra, but I regret nothing.

APOCALYPSE THEN & NOW

I spent most of this weekend watching ‘Apocalypse Now’ on Blu-ray at the expense of a social life. It was worth it. In the UK, we’re frequently denied the good stuff on the Coppola side — what happened to a DVD of ‘The Outsiders’ (my favourite film ever)? In the US they’ve had the original film on a bare-bones DVD for over a decade, and a special edition for five years. We never seemed to get ‘Hearts of Darkness’ on DVD either. Then Optimum films took pity on us and gave us the entire ‘Full Disclosure’ 3-disc edition smartly repackaged, at a cheap RRP and they’re bringing out a Blu-ray of ‘The Outsiders’ on the 12th of September, 2011. I grew up with ‘Apocalypse Now’ but I overindulged.

As a small child I re-read the ‘Mad’ parody at my uncle’s house again and again, and was surprised that it bore little resemblance to the film when I got round to watching it – I was emotionally unequipped to appreciate the down-river journey, and I just liked the explosions and mirror punching. As a jumped-up teenager, I saw the parallels between Conrad’s text and the film.

‘Hearts of Darkness’ hipped me to the mythical plantation scene, just as various ‘The Exorcist’ documentaries told me about the ‘Spiderwalk’. Both excised scenes are effective, but I could live without them, but their eventual inclusion was appreciated. I love the idea that Coppola ditched the plantation because out of a temper tantrum in that relentless humidity above anything else — it obviously incorporated plenty of work but it was written out entirely, and that documentary does a fine job of showing just how much the trade and national press was quietly willing the film to fail, and the ruffled-looking Francis looks downright shell-shocked during the premiere scene at the end.

I loved ‘Apocalypse Now: Redux’ – restorations like the surfboard stealing and eerie Playboy prostitution for fuel makes for a deeper film, but what was startling was how elaborate some of the excised scenes were — they weren’t bland indoor excesses of dialogue, but vast set pieces. Coppola had evidently edited with extreme prejudice in the late 1970s. It wasn’t a Lucas-esque return-to-it-to-ruin-it affair, but something that felt like unfinished business.

As a barely related digression, FHM magazine had a ‘What’s Wrong With FHM?’ section years ago, where you could submit an error you’d spotted and win £20. I once read Phil Oakey in there saying that he had a real obsession with ‘Apocalypse Now’ in 1975, wrote in to point out that Phil was lying and got the money, which paid for a week’s food in those self-inflicted starving writer times. Alongside some kind of Q&A I had with ‘Front’ which I can barely recall, it’s one of two times a friend has seen my name in print and mentioned it to me. As a big Human League fan, I then felt remorse — envisioning someone showing Phil my smug little letter, and Phil calling me a “sad twat” beneath his breath.

Then I took it too far – I got my hands on the work print that ran at around five hours. Ponderous, bad quality, occasionally intelligible (Brando’s turn beneath extra fuzz was intolerable), it added layers of flab to the film in the two hours of unnecessary extras over the director’s cut. Out of some curious filmgoer’s duty I spent half the daytime watching it, occasionally drifting into a sleep that would be disturbed by a murky napalm blast. That put me off ‘Apocalype Now’ for a couple of years.

The sole exciting addition beyond ‘Redux’ — other than how much more of a dick Willard is in this version — was the resolution of the mystery of where Dennis Hopper’s Photojournalist went after Kurtz lost it with him and what happened to Scott Glenn’s Lieutenant Colby – a great actor left mute in previous versions – Colby shot the Photojournalist dead during his escape and Colby was killed by Willard’s special forces knife. It’s a sloppy scene in terms of editing and effects in its uncooked state — evoking that point in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ when the director feels he doesn’t know how to end the film once he’s at Kurtz’s compound — but it’s one of the meatiest deleted scenes in a long time. It even puts that excellent uncut Drexl hotel drug deal on the ‘True Romance’ DVD in the shade.

The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes that scene (plus the monkeys on a boat, with the tribal Doors cover) on a disc in a complete carry-over of the ‘Full Disclosure’ DVD set, but it’s the quality of the Blu-ray transfer for both official versions of the film that finally put bad memories of that muggy afternoon squinting at that screen away for good. Given the film’s lack of opening or end credits, it’s nice to get a copy of Coppola’s theatre-style programme for the film too — that theatrical idea echoes throughout his later films, whether it’s ‘Rumble Fish’s stagey feel or ‘Tetro’s operatic, overblown finale. And yes, I have to concede it — ‘Hearts of Darkness’ is an even better behind-the-scenes supplement than ‘If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of ‘Predator’. I love ‘Apocalypse Now’ all over again.





I also revisited Michael Gross’s ‘Genuine Authentic’ again in light of recent movements with the Ralph Lauren brands. For those who don’t know – the book was meant to be an authorised biography of Lauren, but Gross’s insistence on revealing a mid 1990’s indiscretion put the two at loggerheads, and the outcome certainly feels significantly cattier throughout as a result. But if you can get beyond the notion of Lauren as a narcissist (and I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t), the idea that he’s playing at high society, despite his humble origins, or the cowboy stuff as a grown-up form of playing fancy dress – which was always evident – then the book still aids in appreciation of what Ralph built.

‘Genuine Authentic’ indicates that Polo Sport was the brand’s reaction to Hilfiger and the “urban” dollar it chased (and the use of Tyson Beckford as the brand’s face was a shrewd one), but it’s denim that’s depicted as Ralph’s white whale and the thing he pursues to perfect, but constantly fails with – RRL is periodically lampooned as one of Ralph’s whims. As the book ends, on mentioning the RRL store opening in Soho in late 2000, “Vintage jeans can run into the thousands — and some of the salespeople in the store, who collect rare jeans themselves, will tell you why. They have the time. The store is often empty.”

I wonder if a revision would include the RRL line’s ascent in recent years? Still, like the excellent ‘Swoosh’, despite an agenda (‘Swoosh’ was partly penned by J.B. Strasser, the widow of Rob Strasser who helped Nike conquer with his marketing genius), it’s an absorbing read that’s unsullied by any official company line.

‘PORT’ #2 is pretty good. Even if the promo video talk of a revolution on paper never fully materialised, it reads like a faintly more accessible ‘Monocle’ (it’s all about the briefings these days) and the features on Harry Gasner and David Remnick are excellent. Martin Amis on teen hitmen in Columbia is an alarming read, but the Remnick piece justifiably takes cover space — if you’ve ever had a tight editing deadline on anything and felt that pressure, consider the content that Remnick and the ‘New Yorker’ crew have to put out weekly to the terrifyingly thorough standards that the likes of E.B. White laid down all those years ago. If a great writer like Remnick claims he feels like a “pretender” in his role there, then how fraudulent are the majority elsewhere, pumping out ad-led crap on a bi monthly or quarterly basis?

This week I had to buy another grown-up watch, because I’m too old for digital. But no Rolex or Omega can compete with my love for the Three 6 Mafia ALIFE G-Shock that my friend, Mr. BJ Betts got me a few years back. I’m way too old to be wearing this, but it reminds me of a happier time, plus my fondness for the music of Juicy J and Three 6 — who I think get better and better — in the present day. This must be one of the most lazy/restrained collaborations ever – for all the skull tees and lean consumption, they just put ‘666’ on the strap and ‘MAFIA EDITION’ down the sides. I kind of respect that, but I hate the fact I’m ancient and can’t wear this stuff any more. Having said that, age won’t stop me from enjoying that new Gunplay mixtape.

‘Crack & Shine International’ looks very smart in the flesh. Shouts to Topsafe for this one. The silver on black reminds me of the ‘Unexplained’ book of mysteries I grew up with that left me emotionally scarred for life with an array of pictures of spontaneous combustion victims and ghosts in churches. Of course, this is a graffiti book rather than a ghost book, but I hope it affects a generation of potential weirdos in the same way.

STILL STAYING GOLD

If you don’t like Coppola’s ‘The Outsiders’ we can never be friends. Ever.

I’ve referenced it on these pages a few, whether it’s Two-Bit’s Mickey Mouse t-shirt, the brief ‘Spraycan Art’ appearance or just the general look and feel of the film. It’s the reason I love denim, the reason I really started reading, the reason why I took an interest in Van Morrison’s work, the reason I love Diane Lane, the genesis of my Tom Waits fandom. Adding to that list, it’s also the reason I’ll challenge anyone who thinks Stevie Wonder totally went off the boil in the 1980s. The lists and bombastic prefixes I hurl around like a hot spud are open to change—that’s the nature of the obsessive mind, right? But this stays constant: ‘The Outsiders’ is my favourite movie of all time, and ‘Stay Gold’ is the record I’d want played at my funeral. It’s not the most cerebral of Coppola’s output—it’s a children’s (young adults?) film to some degree—but it’s just perfect. I’ll take it over ‘Apocalypse Now’, the first two Puzo adaptations and ‘The Conversation’—’Tetro’ was a beautiful piece of filmmaking, but the melodrama and stagey dialogue couldn’t contend with the timelessness of Greaser/Socs warfare. And yes, “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight…” still has me in tears. This film is prone to make me act a fool.

Stephen Burum’s cinematography elevates the proceedings from teen angst to something infinitely more widescreen and Coppola’s occasional heavy-handed stumbles are disguised in this instance by the simplicity of the narrative and great central performances. Seeing as I never caught ‘Over the Edge’ when I was very young, this was an introduction to the presence of Matt Dillon (it’s all about the magazine sweep near the film’s conclusion) and the extent of C. Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio’s range. Even Emilio Estevez’s ‘Transformers’ style switch from clan clown to battle-ready stance with a few flicks of a switchblade is seared into my pysche. Over-stylized? Undoubtedly, but this isn’t a subtle movie—it’s a grand affair that overlays a 1950s wrong-side-of-the-tracks b-flick with a 1930s big studio grandeur. That’s why the extended cut from 2005 jettisoning Carmine Coppola’s orchestral score was a poor decision. That version’s fine for the uninitiated, and the restored footage is largely excellent, but to see the ending altered felt like a tweak too far. Dallas’s brutal exit and the Johnny voiceover have long been cues to grieve and the studio fucked with my formula.

In terms of apparel, ‘The Outsiders’ lays down the rules—if you’re cool, it’s Chucks, double-denim and black t-shirts. Metallers sporting denim vests have known all along that it’s a strong look when it’s executed right. If you’re square, it was pastel pants and a sweater round the neck. Motherfuck a preppy. Those lightweight garments looked even more wretched after a rumble in the rain. That was drummed into my psyche at an early age and there’s still a great deal of validity in those onscreen divisions. The rich dressed like pricks and the poor looked effortlessly cool. Is there a more beautiful musical bookend than Stevie’s paean to wide-eyed innocence? No. Please—feel free to prove me wrong. So why the heck has it never had a UK DVD release? Sweden got a version briefly but we’re not deemed worthy. In fact, skip the DVD— few films warrant the hi-res glory of Blu-ray more than Francis’s definitive work. They could even put the deeply patchy 1990 14-episode follow-up TV series from Coppola and S.E. Hinton in there too. While they’re at it, can we have a very special edition of ‘The Wanderers’ too?

While I was raised on the painted artwork that reflects the director’s grand intentions, lifting the lead characters to somewhere almost fantastical before they’re brought back down to earth with the bump of a falling church roof, I’ve become acquainted with the simpler portrait shot and clean fonts used in most of the posters and DVD art. The lesser-seen Italian art above (often cropped) for their version, which seems to translate as ‘Boys of 56th Street’ looks closer to ‘Class of 1984’ than the sensitive portrayal it actually is. They even put Johnny Cade into some adidas Nizzas for no real reason. The German poster seems to show a completely different cast, Thailand got heavy on the romance, while France’s goes heavy on the violence angle, ensuring some audience disappointment for those expecting bloodshed. One of the Japanese efforts is fantastic—check Francis’s face in that ‘O’…

R.I.P. Darrel “Darry” Curtis.

OUTSIDERS

Living outside of London is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that one can’t succumb to a hipster overdose, and a curse because, at time-of-writing, the PALACE Lucien  party is shaping up to be a classic. Twin distance living with an impending site relaunch, and you know tonight’s partying is a no-go. Oddly, the last relaunch of said site coincided with some buzzworthy DC event in 2006. Where did the last 4 years actually go? Seriously, what happened?

It would be east to become another of the low-work ethic, sniffing hordes mumbling broken promises of freelance work. Fuuuuuuck that. Chill doesn’t pay the bills. Everyone knows that London is the UK’s cultural epicentre, and when events go on beyond this miserable capital, it feels more like a sympathy shiner than a true celebration. But industry events are riddled with dead-eyed PRs (“That…is…so funny!”) and the same folks day after day after day -the same characters who’d hang about to attend the opening of a Red Bull can if they could. Break out the checklist – hapless communications type making “powermoves” by staring over someone’s shoulder during inane conversation? Men dressed like shit Serpicos? Self important folk with, like,  blogs and stuff? Tilted New Era  guys looking paradoxically solemn yet colourful? Attractive girlfriends bored and blankly thumbing an iPhone? Lots and lots of folk with Canon 550Ds round their necks? Boring. My Grandpa once berated me for claiming I was bored with the stock, “Bored people get bored” reply. 10 minutes at some inane shoe customisation non-happening and he would have hastily retracted that statement.

If you want to maintain the sheen, don’t get too involved. Seriously. Working in a comic shop as a kid, giddy excitement gave way to apathy at the stacks of Image/Valiant crossovers and Cerebus back issues strewn in the stockroom – that was the end of comic hoarding. An overdose of trade priced reality nipped that habit in the bud. The same grotty realism and hordes of jaded folk can kill other obsessions too. It’s best to dip in but keep your distance for the most part.

Talk to any hip-hop fanatic from beyond the states, and witness their devotion to rap rareness that those from rap saturated NYC took for granted and ignored. That’s distance learning at work. If you grew up poring through Face magazines, sending stamp addressed envelopes for sticker packs, saving booklets from sport stores and gazing at those shout out names in fold out cassette sleeves, you probably got as much enjoyment through wistful “what if” dreaming as those who were in the mix, participating. Curiously, the provincial oddballs who lived their lives vicariously through record, skate and WH Smiths shelves make for the most interesting conversations just because they have a tendency to be truly psychotic about their pick of subject matters.

My small town existence deliberately keeps me out the mix. Despite constant commutes, London still maintains a certain mystique, and I can concentrate and get shit done. After all, what else is there to do in boogie down Bedford? Sometimes you need a normal human being who isn’t dazzled by repro stitch detailing and limited numbers to tell you when you look a prick – that’s another hometown benefit. Travelling greater distance can be preventative when it comes to making the shorter trip up your own arse, providing you don’t regale all around you with tales of a phony big shot existence in the big city.

In the socially networked blog realm where it’s a race to attain “first” status, and you don’t even have to leave the bedroom to stay in the loop (though the loop is itself, overrated), let alone pick up a print magazine or hop aboard a train. Beyond mere apps, you can live your aspirational lifestyle through the internet – a cloud existence, and drop it whenever you want to. People are overrated. The e-persona usually beats the cold ‘The Wizard of Oz’ style reality. If you want to maintain that enthusiasm, rather than going through the motions and becoming a stinkeye administering “over it” shit talker, enjoy it through a monitor. I prefer to dip in and out at will – my bipolar moodswings and sudden character changes are a testament to this – London made a monster. Robert Frost summed up the taint from a purer worldview with “So dawn goes down to day, Nothing gold can stay” – as Johnny Cade from ‘The Outsiders’ implored in a neater summary, “Stay gold” – stay away, stay enthusiastic and stay gold.

THE MICKEY MOUSE T-SHIRT

I’m not the biggest Disney fan – never was. I always was more of a Tex Avery kid. I hold the Disney corporations precious approach to their films for this. I wasn’t going to buy ’em or squander a rental on a ‘U’ when I could be watching a ‘PG’ at the very least. Got ‘The Jungle Book’ as a book and tape and saw ‘Dumbo’ as an end-of-term school screening, but bar Donald flipping out after chipmunk troubles, the unexpectedly terrifying ‘Sleepy Hollow’ short and the glimpse of the black and white efforts on a Bank Holiday, I was never a Disney Club candidate. As I grew up as a tinpot socialist in my late teens, I treated Disney output with contempt.

I was a fool.

I’m no fan of Mr.Disney’s politics, but every time I see an atrocious ‘street artist’ use an appropriation (D*Face for example) of Disney logos or characters, my allegiance to the evil empire grows. The reason? Because these legal wall painting, fly postering, money-grabbing, A-level politicking, culture commodifying, watered-down wastes of Stolen Space don’t have a fraction of the talent that Mickey Mouse’s originator and animation legend Ube Iwerks or the cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson carried. In fact, anyone who painted a single cell for Disney’s key motion pictures of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s deserves a magazine cover over these clowns. And the Lichtenstein bites four decades too late? ‘Satirical’ reapproriations of Jack Kirby? Don’t get me fucking started. These frauds are Mickey Mouse in the most negative way.

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EMILIO ESTEVEZ'S PUNK PHASE

And I’m still recycling my Black  Lodges blogs…

Lately I’ve been pondering as to why Emilio Estevez was the major studio’s punk rocker of choice back in the early ’80s. On face value, he fits the mould as a varsity jacketed jock or rough-edged clown (as demonstrated in his Mickey Mouse tee-wearing, ‘Two-Bit’ Matthews turn in ‘The Outsiders’) than he does as a punk rocker.

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