This blog is, in a convoluted way, a hype blog of sorts. Except it’s the stuff that gets me hyped, which means it’s always going to dip into dark realms of self-indulgence that should alienate more than a few people. That’s just how I like it. Forget retrospectives for the moment too. The lead into 2010 is going to be underwhelming, but as the year unravels and you get used to writing ‘2010’ on cheques or paying-in slips (both fairly old-fashioned habits to carry a date that seems so futuristic, but, hey, for the most part, we’re a regressive people) there’s some good things on the horizon. It won’t be all-wack-everything in the near future. Why? Because here’s twenty reasons to be cheerful over the next twelve months –

PALACE – Skateboarding has never felt like a first, second or third language for us Brits, and attempts to emulate the west coast elements of the sport in grey Great Britain always fall a little flat. Thankfully, the whole X-Games commodification of skating doesn’t work here either. Palace Wayward Boy’s Club revels in the outsider nature of it, with a distinctly London take steeped in South Bank history with a healthy lack of pointless nostalgia. More decks, t-shirts and other good stuff is on its way.

FORTHCOMING CRITERION RELEASES – For obeying region codes, and dropping Blu-Ray discs which can’t be played on most UK machines, Criterion lose points. But how can you stay mad when they’re set to release an insanely comprehensive hi-def ‘Paris Texas’ package in January and the underrated 1956 nuclear family gone astray flick ‘Bigger Than Life’ in March with their usual slickly compiled bells and whistles? Best get that player chipped if you’re living away from the US.

A UK RELEASE FOR ‘KING’S WAY’ – This is actually wishful thinking. It’s annoying that this well-designed history of Melbourne graffiti by Duro and crew is available in the US ($28 on Amazon!) and its native Australia, but retails at £50+ on import in the UK. I’ve heard mixed things, but with no knowledge of the scene, this book fascinates me. You can use US hookups to snare a copy, but it’s a shame that it hasn’t been picked up by the usual litany of sponsors, distributors and publishers who pump out graffiti books time after time.

THE FINAL ISSUE OF ‘CROSSED’ – The ‘Walking Dead’ is a given. If you aren’t reading that, there’s no hope for you, but Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows’s ‘Crossed’ has been a pleasant surprise too with an ultra-brutal take on a plague than makes the afflicted into savages – and no, it’s not like ’28 Days Later.’ Ennis loves to shock, and he delivered it here with rape, infanticide and all that other bad stuff, but at its core, the casual decline into savagery of the “normals” is an interesting plot. Not to all tastes, but when issue nine hits in early 2010, it’s not going to pull any punches. However, it’s taken over fifteen months for the first eight issues to drop, so don’t hold your breath. ‘Crossed’ isn’t a zombie comic, but on that topic, the film of ‘World War Z’ looks like it’s a 2011 release, so this and Max (son of Mel!) Brooks’s contribution to February’s ‘New Dead’ anthology should fill some survivalist bloodlust in the meantime.

SCANDANAVIANS RULING YOUR WARDROBE – While the rest of the world was preoccupied with made-in-the-USA everything, Wood Wood’s whole aesthetic got even tighter and that retail rollout is slowly taking over Europe, full of staples with added avant-garde. Norse Projects are honing the minimal basics perfectly with an unsettled perfectionist approach, and Our Legacy does nods to the past with a certain precision. From the details-freak to a more nonchalant consumer, all three brands get it very right without reliance on the trends that frequently flash-flood the blogsphere.

‘SUPREME: DOWNTOWN NEW YORK SKATE CULTURE’ – The Rizzoli BAPE book was an unfocused letdown. This book won’t be when it hits in April. Rizzoli’s Margiela and Vuitton efforts were good, and ‘Downtown New York Skate Culture’ promises something a little more exhaustive. We’ve missed a lot of excellent accounts of this NYC institution on account of language barriers with Japanese publications, so this is an appealing prospect. Supreme-bashers will say it’s not what it used to be. The naysayers got into the brand when it was already over seven years old, so their opinion is immediately nulled. You know you’re going to see collaborative Supreme projects, perfectly executed with high and low profile characters over the next year that’ll have you breaking out the plastic, so it’s best not to badmouth the house that Jebbia built.

CARHARTT EUROPE’S DUCK HUNT – Carhartt Europe understand the allure of the union-made US pieces, and they’re going to go to town with them in 2010. Slimmer Euro fits will mean they don’t look so boxy. Cotton duck features heavily, and cunningly implemented on another line, a duck mascot homaging the crocodile and Polo horse on pique is a clever touch. Expect some refined collaborations from the Work In Progress crew too.

‘CARLOS THE JACKAL’ – Need to get a post-‘Baader Meinhof Complex’ fix? Me too. France is officially the new cinematic home of the crime drama – think ‘Mesrine’ and ‘A Prophet’ (both with screenplays by Abdel Raouf Dafri, whose ‘L’aviseur’ will be one to watch). A three-part miniseries based on Carlos’s life that’s getting a trimmed down movie-length cinema release too, Olivier Assayas directs, with Edgar Ramirez as Interpol’s most wanted. Expect the inevitable controversy too, as like the cinematic Andreas Baader and associates, Carlos looks pretty stylish.

ARCT’ERYX VEILANCE COLLECTION 2 – Wave one cost a lot, but the quality and fit (a lot of the collection is all about the fit) is outstanding. Now they’ve unleashed some conservative creations on the jacket-obsessed public, Canada’s Arc’teryx continue the Veilance collection for 2010. The Long Coat was great – hopefully, like North Face’s Purple Label, there’s more to come with some quasi-formal flavour. The Alpha pieces from the brand are great, but understandably they seemed built for layering and function alone, whereas Veilance focuses on anatomics and aesthetics with everyday performance too. Not cheap, but it’s progressive product.

SALBIS GTX – Yeah, you’re supposed to be all over Florsheim and Alden or Rick Owens and Pierre Hardy in lieu of the big guns, but there’s impending greatness from Nike, providing they realise how good the product is. Happily reinforcing the confusion between Nike’s Terra prefixed offroad pieces and their ACG range, the Salbis GTX was the best sneaker of 2009. Except it never made production. Why? Who knows. Given their focus on innovation, they’ll deem it dated and never put it out, or see sense, and add this GORE-TEX masterpiece to the Winter 2010 line. The Nike SC2010 looks good too – one of the best mixes of old and new design since the Mateba Model 6 Unica. It would be nice if adidas used their teamup with a famous footballer to put out a great version of the Rod Laver Super as opposed to the dull skinny, vintage Laver wouldn’t it? Oh, and lord willing, that ACRONYM hookup that made a Dunk and Blazer will blossom again in coming months.

‘FROZEN’ – Bad situation b-movies are a personal vice, and done right, they’re great. 2008’s ‘Stuck’ is a case-in-point. Simple conceit – people get stuck on a ski-lift overnight. Now that’s not a good place to be. Sounds innocuous, but with frostbite, animal attacks, stuck skin and broken bones, it could be great. Or it could suck like ‘Open Water.’ Director Adam Green’s ‘Hatchet’ was half a good genre picture. Maybe he’ll pull it off here. He’s not shy of a gory kill or ten.

GARBSTORE & VINTAGE SHOWROOM – This is a good meeting-of-minds. Ian Paley knows his gear and the crew behind the Covent Garden store and West London Vintage Showroom spots have the knowledge too. That’s why this project works. The whole vintage explosion has opened it up for chancers, and the fruits of meetings behind these experts is quite the opposite. I find laceless footwear unnerving. Gareth from Pointer outed me on that matter in the new Sneaker Freaker. The Garbstore/Vintage Showroom Workerbilly Boot is good though, but because of my prejudice I could never wear a pair. Garbstore’s made huge moves lately, and hopefully both parties will be making this an ongoing project. Hopefully the next creations will have laces, or will appear in the shape of some apparel. If anyone can do it right on these shores, it’s these guys.

MORE ‘FRANK151’ CHAPTERS – On the strength of no-replies when I’ve chased payments, we’re losing a few more magazines in the new year. But on the flipside they’ll be several more strong issues of old and new publications.  Other than an impending issue of ‘Sang Bleu,’  it’s a tough one to call, so I’ll stick to an old favourite when I’m trying to get my Nostradamus on – ‘FRANK151’ will drop more classic copies in that handy book size on topics you were clueless on. Over thirty issues into the game, and it just gets better and better, plus it stays free. I dare you to find a better theme-led issue of anything in the last few years than the recent De La edition. If you’ve missed any, they just put the last five years worth up as downloadable PDFs.

THE OTHER JAY & JUSTIN – Hip-hop’s not dead. It doesn’t need reviving or any of that other nonsense. It’s alive and kicking in NYC, LA, Florida, Atlanta and in the Midwest…everywhere really. Except in the UK. It really did die on its arse over here because artists felt they were owed a living because they rapped in “proper” accents. That was of course, bollocks. What is nice is tracks with replay factors of more than ten listens – the current state of music is undeniably a tad disposable, and when something a little sturdier arrives, it deserves to be championed. I was on the fence with Jay Electronica. He was always better than the Rapidshare rappers who popped up in the late ’00s, but I was distrustful. Nice use of film soundtracks, but it all washed over me. Until I heard hs work with Just Blaze and wisely got on board. ‘Exhibit C’ is crack and ‘The Trial And Crucifixion Of Jota Flowers’ is the mooted name for the album. That’ll probably change. Jay’s one of the best to flow on a Just Blaze beat since, well….the other Jay, and if Hov’s got cloth ears and the Yardfather is still slacking with that release (despite telling us it’s coming in the ‘Warning Shots 2’ booklet) like Royce and Primo, here’s a perfectly pitched double-act.

THE FIGHTER’ – I didn’t heart the Huckabees, and both leads are overrated one-note performers, but David O. Russell’s ‘The Fighter’ – a biopic of boxer Micky Ward (justly famed for his battles with the sadly deceased Arturro Gatti at the end of his career) with Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg appeals. I liked ‘Cinderella Man’ a lot too, so make of that what you will. Seeing as the Pacquiao and Mayweather bout is currently in jeopardy and ‘Pound For Pound’ won’t be at cinemas until 2011, this should keep me happy.

A STANSFIELD SWEATSHIRT PROJECT – According to his excellent blog, Dominic Stansfield is working on some sweatshirts. With a nod to ’90’s rap style, and going on his total obsession with archive gear, you should be excited about this. “Another project I am working on is for one of my oldest and best friend’s from Manchester’s company. Will post about this another day when we are finished but we are channeling the spirit of 80s and early 90s hip hop – the golden era and all that (my mastermind subject) – and starting off with Champion-esque sportswear. Every man should own at least one Champion reverse weave sweatshirt (I have about 10!) – the 100% cotton ones with the ‘C’ chest logo – so that’s what were doing and keeping it accurate and faithful, with a nice little logo.”

A ‘FASHION’ IMPLOSION – Something’s bound to give. It’s all getting a little stale. I’ll concede hypocrisy here – I love old vintage clothing, but I’m a toy who’s stuck in his ways with little interest in fashion, and I expect more insight from those in positions to sway, contextualize and educate with regards to clothing. Bearded men playing at woodsman for shit photoshoots, po-faced treatments of brogues, bad writing, lots of chambray. Boooooring. Look at this ‘Seinfeld’ episode! George Costanza’s sooooo on trend with that jacket! Yes. Because you’ve all become utterly conservative and dress like your dad. In a bad way. Bring on the futuristic fabrics.

EAST LONDON RETAIL – Shopping in London lately has required some serious travel time because of the scattered nature of stores. Central is a little barren, Camden, where I’m stationed is only good for burritos. Further afield, east London has risen again in these recessive times and these’s a genuine sense of a scene. The homies at Goodhood and The Three Threads are bringing it, plus Present, 1948, WAH and Albam, Artwords is holding more magazines and books than ever before, fixie kids are catered for too, and Truman has Rough Trade and, just when closures seemed to kill the clothing side of the brewery, Son Of A Stag is taking denim very seriously. Hopefully the daytime footfall will keep the area looking mighty healthy.

HBO BRINGING THE RUCKUS – There’s nothing like quality television, but bar the non-HBO ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘True Blood’ I haven’t enjoyed much from the States. Yeah, channels that allow swearing, references to sex and biker gangs are cool and all, but I like a spot of substance, which Home Box Office can excel at. ‘The Wire’ was tarnished by irritating latecomers and lefty broadsheets, but 2010 will be ushering David Simon’s ‘Treme,’ Martin Scorcese’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘Band Of Brothers’ sequel, ‘The Pacific.’ There’s some heavy torrent and boxset marathons ahead.

LEVI’S VINTAGE’S 2010 PLANS – Cone or Kaihara? First things first, this thread here, which will tell you about physical changes in thread like LVC’s US-made decision to use polycore instead of cotton, is epic. Apparently Maurizio Donardi’s XX division of the brand is taking LVC very seriously. By the sounds of things (unconfirmed) last year’s US-made Cone 1915 jean is the shape of things to come, and whereas there’s been curious differences between Japanese and US factory made pieces, they’re about to all go American-made for the most part. There’s talk of a mysterious  ‘Made and Crafted’ line too. Expect plenty of oddball reintroductions on the horizon, and apparently cotton duck figures heavily here too.

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