It’s time for another of those film posts that nobody looks at.
Back on the blog and I didn’t prepare anything to up today, so I’m working with whatever I’ve been looking at online over the last 24 hours. Motherfuck content creation, because there’s a strong recycled video streak today.
The homie Jeff at Selectism reminded me how much I love Gary Weis’s classic documentary ’80 Blocks From Tiffany’s’ yesterday, and I’ve discussed the greatness of Rita Recher and Henry Chalfont’s ‘Flyin Cut Sleeves’ — both dealing with the topic of New York street gangs of the 1970s, but there’s another contender too. Firstly, as someone who grew up a long way from the United States, I was a child of the video shop, fooled into renting anything that promised bloodshed.
I digested a fair few films that were ‘Mad Max’ knockoffs — Enzo Castellari’s ‘Bronx Warriors’ trilogy plays a prominent parting my psyche, with its fusion of post-apocalyptic lumbering action, lo-fi stunts and unintentional camp, but gang films like the cheap but fun ‘Warriors’-does-splatter fun of ‘Future-Shock’, the faintly racist yuppies-in-peril antics of ‘Chains’ and my favourite — ‘Enemy Territory’ with a younger Tony Todd and his vampiric posse (plus graffiti from Chico Garcia) causing trouble for the denizens of a project building. I love that movie.
These cultish b-flicks had me believing that on stepping foot outside an airport in New York, a multi-racial gang of ruffians in fingerless leather gloves would slice me up, or set me alight. There’s precious few good documentaries on the crews that fuelled the tabloid myths to inspire the following decade’s cheapo cinematic urban nightmares, but fortunately those that were made are fairly easily attainable. One of the best isn’t even English language — German journalist and filmmaker Max H. Rehbein’s 1978 documentary ‘Lefty — Erinnerung an einen Toten in Brooklyn’ (which I believe, loosely translates as, ‘Lefty — Memory of a Dead Man in Brooklyn’ won a couple of prestigious awards after its debut television screening.
Max and his crew get an astonishing amount of freedom to film the punishments, beatings, arrests, politics and beliefs, debates and even shoot during the infamous New York City blackout of July 1977 (and miraculously escape unscathed) resulting in some phenomenal footage of the titular Lefty and his Sex Boys gang (apologies to any left-handed typers who ended up on here by Googling those words in a non-gang context), the Crazy Homicides (who wore giant cavalry hats) and lots of Coney Island footage, long before Swan and the boys incited fights in cinemas via Walter Hill’s opus. The synth soundtrack is awesome too and if you’re even vaguely interested in the subject matter, check it out.
This classic first chapter in Rehbein’s ‘New York Trilogy’ (screened between 1978 and 1980) is on YouTube at the moment in what I believe is a 60 minute cut shown in 1990, as opposed to the 88 minute original version that continues to elude me. This is early street culture in full effect and a pretty absorbing watch. The director is still alive, and given his wartime experiences prior to ‘Lefty’, New York’s gang culture may have been a walk in the (Central) park by comparison.
Another thing that made me enthuse during the last 24 hours was the official announcement of Edzon from Patta’s ‘Luffie Duffie’ mix from 2006 getting a sequel in 2011 that should coincide with a significant release from the overlords of the sneaker “game” — everyone at Patta knows their shit back to front and Edzon’s soul-laden follow-up will be very necessary.
ATG are killing this blog shit. Looking forward to seeing the byproduct of their partnership with Carhartt.
Speaking of Carhartt, Detroit’s Bo$$ needs a kidney transplant. This lady rapper talked pure gun talk until she was exposed as a middle-classer. But we don’t care about authenticity any more, and while the ‘Born Gangstaz’ album is crappy, ‘Deeper’s Bobby Womack, Gwen McRae and Eddie Murphy samples are still my shit (Curtains murdered a similar beat, sans Gwen and the silly cod-ragga stuff a few years back). I wish her all the best, and I recall reading a lengthy regional newspaper piece on her prior ill health too.
Mr. Chris Aylen brought this eBay auction to my attention. Just as a Tribe Called Quest’s demo (from the same seller) ended at around $800, DMX’s demo (in some no-frills studio biro aided packaging) came to a close with a final hike from around $100 to $625.29. I’ve heard plenty on rarities CDs, but there’s some bits on the tape samples that the seller provided that I’d never been exposed to. This man’s style changed a lot over five years or so.