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VICTORY

December 14, 2011

In a realm where so many magazines have said no más due to lagging ad opportunities and a focus on digital above pulped trees, there’s still some contenders like ‘Victory Journal’ making the most of sprawling pages and the scope to enlighten in a tactile, visually pleasing way that the web can’t match. Theoretically, with its ability to stream, cater to a statistical addiction, constantly update and get a jab in long before print can retaliate, the internet should have the extra reach to make any showdown a mismatch, but they’re too very different beasts. A legacy of great photojournalism, impassioned essays and sprawling profiles of the characters who dedicate their lives to sporting disciplines — from the frequently forgotten characters (especially during the recent NBA deadlock) who make a living serving snacks, attending the car park and cleaning up long after the cheers and traded blows have finished, to the professional athletes — has made for compelling reading and viewing time and time again.

As well as the spectacle of the events and the jot of participation in the crowd and on the field, ‘Sports Illustrated’ and the defunct ‘Sport’ fueled the No Mas team, inspiring a wave of gear rooted in absolute obsession that span off into media content, fighter sponsorship and an agency (Doubleday & Cartwright). As a showcase of their abilities and as another love letter to sports, their ‘Victory Journal’ is a necessary read. I don’t care much for any sport that’s not broken into three or five-minute rounds, but I love sports journalism from the likes of Gay Talese and some more prominent macho intellectuals’ talk of boxing meets a its match next to Dick Schaap’s work or Mark Kram’s incendiary paragraphs (this moderated chat on the topic is tremendous). With an emphasis on design as well as copy (their typeface game is extensive), the ‘Victory Journal’ team evade the obvious with the cover shot — some nautical jousters engaging in an activity that I never knew existed, continuing a bold move that treasures visual clout over familiarity, moving from Brazilian football to this lesser-known pastime by way of Jimmy Snuka.

Issue Three, with its “For Love or money” motto, is the perfect home for Cheryl Dunn‘s 1980s’ boxing photography and frequent No Mas collaborator Mickey Dusyj’s 1986 Mets portraits. Dunn recently got $45,000 funding via Kickstarter to finish her ‘Everybody Street’ documentary on NYC street photography and these portraits of a golden age are a testament to her versatility and knack for access. Just as Grantland.com and Deadspin.com provide compelling stories online and ESPN’s ’40 For 40′ series had a strong hit rate, ‘Victory Journal’ taps into the part of sports culture that even the kids who spent two lessons a week with great Nikes on their feet but their hands in their pocket can be caught up in the sheer passion and aptitude for oddball behaviour that professional sports (and let’s not forget the luminaries of sports entertainment either) attracts. Go visit www.victoryjournal.com to grab a copy.

I’ve talked No Mas on here before and I’m keen not to repeat myself in my unbridled enthusiasm. There’s some repro brands remaking old Ali shirts for lithe hipsters to wear as well as other notable tee designs, but No Mas is different — it’s not jocked and juiced up, tearing doors from hinges on a testosterone-addled rampage, but it is wild-eyed with obsession and laden with nostalgia. After Staple put out the Ali sweat in the early ’00s, No Mas takes that baton and just fucking runs with it. Actually, given the breadth of their output, maybe they need testing — this is sporting fandom on steroids. Current highlights included a foray into MMA with a licensed UFC 1 ‘The Beginning’ shirt taking it back to November ’93 and a celebration of the defunct but unsurpassed PRIDE Fighting Championships, motivational speaker and Arguello defeater Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor’s “Hawk Time” shirt. The Leon Spinks replica harks back to Leon’s choice of self-promoting attire around the time of the second Ali bout and the ‘Sport’ magazine masthead shirt pays tribute to another lost empire. There’s even an officially licensed Gleason’s Gym shirt.

It comes down to this — the tees and sweats I covet are rooted in sports performance. You can loopwheel it or you can cover it in disruptive patterning, but at the core, it’s about athleticism. No Mas make no attempt to cover up those origins and take it back to the essence. That, in itself, is infectious.

Speaking of Grantland, McSweeney have compiled articles from that site with a basketball texture cover. But beyond sports, their food publication in association with Momofuku’s David Chang , ‘Lucky Peach’ is on its second issue. This looks like a publication to match ‘Swallow’ in terms of content and design. I don’t know what I was smoking over the summer to miss the first issue — a ramen special — but it won’t happen again. An adhesive tribute to fruit stickers? I’m all over that.

On a sporting style note, Edwin Moses doesn’t get his dues for looking slick on the move with that (post-Diadora?) sunglasses and beard steez that made him look like Rick Ross if he kicked the breakfast bisque habit and got athletic. People criticised Ed for looking distance in the shades, but he had eyes susceptible to glare (and I’m not talking about the glares of haters). I’m not sure the beads were for medical benefit, but the overall look is serious.

If Steve Jobs and Kyle from Tenacious D didn’t sell the New Balance 993 to you, it’s also Louis CK’s shoe of choice too. Louis’s Rolex, loose denim, black tee and black 993 combo is no joke. Larry’s love of Simple might be infectious, but the 993 is officially the shoe of geniuses. Louis rocks it during his $5 comedy special (well worth your money — the weed routine, parental revenge and soldiers on planes bits are worth, like, $1.6666667 each alone). Its been a good year for New Balance, and this is a happy finish (insert jizzy punchline here).

Team Gourmet know a lot about shoes. Jon and the Gregs are passionate about footwear – not in that dry skinny chino pinroll, Fuzzyfelt AM1 and Obey five-panel hat way…that by numbers shoe dude stuff is horrible. The minds behind Gourmet know shitloads about every brand and reference all kinds of footwear. Except a lot of people don’t notice that, because they’re too hype on a retro shoe that looks like it came from one of those sites where everything’s $80. I like shoes with a story. Not a story in some superfluous PR muppet kind of way or basing it on a type of fish, but in the naming and execution. You should like a shoe on face value first and the covered, zip up style of the Dignan is appealing. There’s a spot of Moc in there and the brand’s usual high-end cues, but the real inspiration is ‘The Departed.’ Specifically the end scene where Mark Wahlberg’s foul-mouthed Sgt. Dignam shoots rat cop Colin Sullivan in the face with hospital shoe covers to cover his tracks. Gourmet have always maintained a healthy preoccupation with a shady living blend of tracksuit, fancy footwear and pinky rings, but this clinical tracksuited outfit ups the ante of anti-hero outfits. Cross trainers, renegade cops doing the right thing and technical fabrics in one shoe? Salutes to the crew.

If you haven’t bought a copy of ‘The End’ compilation, and you’ve got an interest in the roots of Britain’s adi fandom, you’re slipping. The adidas sponsorship of the book is perfectly pitched and isn’t gratuitous like, say, UK rappers looking glum in PUMA, Salutes to Sabotage Times for putting it together too (it’s available from Selectadisc, Oi Polloi, Garbstore and HMV now too). The adidas ads in there include a great Forest Hills one, but the ad inside for a special made-in-Germany Munchen for February 2012 is the most interesting element, harking back to early ’00s issues of ‘The Face.’ One of adidas’s finest late ’70s moments (and way, way, way better in PU sole form as Munchen or Suisse than the skinnier ’72 version too) is coming back in homegrown form, and even the box looks on point. The casual connection can be horribly mishandled, but adidas and ‘The End’ are great partners.

Shouts to Gabriel and the Origin London team on this i-D feature too — young London talent on the rise, offering something that isn’t steeped in wearying self reference. 17 years old and already running a brand? Salutes.

One Comment leave one →
  1. LBNS77 permalink
    December 19, 2011 12:16 am

    I was there at the Beacon Theatre. Fortunately one of the 2,500 people there not to have ruined their families’ Christmas (yet!). And am Jewish.

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