Category Archives: Skateboarding

BERLIN, JACKET PORN & OTHER STUFF

I’m unpacking from Berlin. My respect for Vans’s Syndicate line has been mentioned here an awful lot, as has my disdain for both the state of collaborations and physical retail spaces. If every footwear brand had the US/UK facilities that New Balance has as well as a top-tier project as strong as Syndicate, life would be a better and sneakers wouldn’t be as stale. Forgive the stereotyping, but the Germans are thorough. Berlin’s Firmament and Civilist went in this week, offering the antidote to Bread & Butter’s vast denim stands, chambray and Polo shorts and the popularity of Iron Fist clothing.

I love Germany’s ability to throw itself into a sub-culture with an obsessive zeal that’s almost unmatched beyond the otaku types in the far east, and their approach to skate was unhampered by the Berlin Wall before it began to fall on 9 November 1989 — they simply adapted to that existence and used the imagery, surplus and restricted landscape to forge their community. While we were swanning around in fluoro shorts and applying Rip-Grip all over our bulbous boards, East and West Berlin’s youth faced an adversity that strengthened their scene and necessitated a DIY approach. Shouts to Mr. Charles Morgan for the hookup on Civilist’s Syndicate pack — a set that leaves most other dual-label projects in the dust. The leather Chukka Low’s smartly executed, but the pin badges, military-themed Velcro badges on the bag and even the pocket tee that accompanies the set are pitch-perfect in their design.

Some people base a shoe on their favourite ironic ’80s film. Civilist opted to use the Berlin Brigade, the Allied Army unit based in West Berlin and culled from the units already in Berlin made of British and American troops as a result of post-WWII rulings. Brought together for the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961 and disbanded in 1994, the US Army’s Berlin Brigade badge, with its flaming sword, is a key identifier in this project. It’s a striking piece of imagery.

The Morganator put me onto last year’s ‘Transit: Berlin Skateboarding Retrospektive’ ‘zine too, providing some excellent background information and imagery on the scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Tied with an in-store exhibition, Civilist and Vans created the best thing I saw (or put on my foot) this week. Team Civilist are also the minds behind the mysterious Aspekt Ratio — a newspaper-size publication which I assumed never had a follow-up after issue #0 in early 2007.

A few years on and Aspekt Ratio #1 is out ( I think it dropped much earlier in the year), shitting on much of the print competition. I admired the preview issue for its sprawling interview pieces, but issue #1’s pieces on clubbing, Australian youth movement, the Sharpies (particularly enlightening) and interviews with Mike Mills and C.M. Talkington are very much my “thing” if that “thing” could ever be defined. I’ve seen a lot of attempts to put this thing of ours onto paper after the gradual cancellations of several key magazines that educated me during the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s (are those rumours about the return of ‘Mass Appeal’ true?), but this is among the best thus far. Did I mention that it’s free? There’s a website (www.aspektratio.com), but don’t expect some cuddly abundance of detail on their. It’s worth the hunt.

Bravo Civilist.

I did another list for my buddies at Complex on the top 50 sneaker moments in movies – well, it’s more ’50 interesting appearances by shoes in films’ than anything comprehensive, but that wouldn’t bring in the click-throughs. I didn’t check the feedback because I assume it’s all, “You missed XXXXXXX you fucking idiot” and “This shit is lame, Complex fell off” etc. etc. Funnily enough, I couldn’t care a fuck – I’m onto the next one, though I am livid at myself for forgetting the PF Flyers in ‘The Sandlot Kids.’ Check out the list here. Shouts to Russ and Joe for getting me involved again.

Props to Mubi for risking his liberty to bring back these Patta mini-penknives that are a preview of their work with KangaROOS. Victorinox products are the promo products of kings. Shouts to team Patta for arming us.

I respect Kenneth Grange’s design savvy, with a portfolio that included trains and pens, and no signifier that they’re Kenneth’s work other than the fact each creation is very, very good. With an inspirational work ethic, the man’s a genius. In a world where you only have to change the colour of some buttons for some sycophant to bellow “GENIUS” on Twitter in the hope of earning an Retweet that doesn’t sound like much, but Kenneth Grange is the real-deal. To coincide with the ‘Making Britain Modern’ exhibition of his work at London’s Design Museum (bafflingly, the first Grange retrospective), there’s a book dropping in August too. It’s probably worth investing in.

The “I found it while I was looking for something else” argument for finding porn is shit, but it’s still used by husbands, boyfriends and sons globally, but I found the downgirlz.com (NSFW) site entirely by accident while I was working on a project on outerwear. I wasn’t complaining — not because I’m some kind of fetishist for feather filled jackets on females, but because, it was half-naked women and North Face. Then I realised that it’s a paysite and that some of the bondage content is a little creepy. Good titles though — “Betty is layered in 3 XXXL Nupste jackets” “Betty frogtied in Marmot” “Betty in Mountain Equipment Co-Op Expedition down jacket”

I had no idea that a North Face down jacket fetish actually existed but it seems I’m not worldly enough. It takes notions of jacket porn to a literal level.

ENTER DA ARTHOUSE

‘Black Moon’ doesn’t involve drivebys on skateboards or anyone hitting their head on the concrete to beat defeat. It’s Louis Malle’s once-maligned, 100 minutes of glorious confusion, originally released in 1975. If you can kick back, spark one up and go with the flow, there’s something in here about nature, sexuality and, um, talking unicorns. I’ve never really read into this film any more than I’ve attempted to decipher Jodorowsky’s very best, but to have this weird contemporary fairy tale in Blu-ray format via Criterion in a couple of months is a winner.

As has been noted before, where, say, ‘The Holy Mountain’ feels like a director’s shamanistic mindset translated onto celluloid with an earnestness that pays dividends and makes the escalating madness so compelling, Malle doesn’t seem quite so strange and there’s a sense that he woke up one morning and decided to do a surreal film. That contrived senselessness and 1970s look actually makes me admire it a little more.

The original poster is one of my favourites, with that block lettering and bird/moon interface, but kudos to the Criterion designer who took on the challenge of not recycling the existing imagery with a Rorschach/face/unicorn hybrid and a particularly elegant font. ‘Black Moon’ isn’t the easiest film to summarize visually, but as ever this imprint comes correct.

Shit. That wasn’t much of a word count, was it?

Time for some barely connected discourse.

Seeing as any mention of Black Moon evokes some NYC spirit of a frequently referenced era, with all this Mobb hype I’ve been desperately hunting 2006’s Supreme Mitchell & Ness ‘Hennessey’ baseball jersey — a definite one that got away — that was part of that collection that included the long-sleeve shirts . I thought the Prodigy book might explain a little more about the ‘Shook Ones Pt. II’ but apparently P may have been too cracked out during the video shoot to shed too much light on them. Why were Hav and P’s tees lacking an ‘N’? Could they only accommodate ‘HENNESY’ or was there more to it? Gotta love the ‘QUEENS BRIDGE 95’ on the back. P knew they were important – hence their inclusion on the legendary 2008 ‘TRENDS PRODIGY HAS SET SINCE 1992 AND STILL IS SETTING IN 2008 AND BEYOND’ list, “#6 CUSTOM MADE FOOTBALL JERSEYS WIT HENNESSYand E&J ON EM“

After his Supreme shoot (the real Skateboard P?), Prodigy has been getting his streetwear on via a Mishka interview and shoot, but 40oz VAN NYC got involved a couple of months ago, with a shirt inspired by the legendary ‘HENNESY’ efforts too. They repaired that spelling as well, and managed to get a shot of the Mobb in the shirts too. That’s good going. Now they’re putting out some H.N.I.C. ones too. Somebody still needs to reinstate the typo.* But as Mr. Ben Rayner recently pointed out, who’s fucking with Project Pat’s ‘Tennessy’ tattoo in that classic font?

*Shouts to Alex for alerting me to this Hennessey mesh jersey sighting. I also recall an anecdote from someone (a skater?) about obtaining the actual one from the video.

On a New York subject, Mr. Charlie Morgan put me onto the Smart Crew’s blog and their ‘NYC A-Z Series’ highlighting some acts of lesser-known gulliness.The Canal Street instalment touches on topics raised in T.J. English’s ‘Born To Kill’ — a worthy supplement to the awesome ‘The Westies’ by the same author.

Aaron Bondaroff linked to a YouTube upload of ‘Apple Juice’ — a 1990 skate documentary made by the crew from New York’s Skate NYC store. You owe it to yourself to visit the awesome NY Skateboarding site’s blog and read the piece about the store there. While you’re there, read the previous entries too. Skate NYC’s roster included Harold Hunter and Jeff Pang, and the images that accompany the blog entry are crazy — the hangtag that accompanied Harold’s own t-shirt is especially amazing, and the below video they’ve unearthed is amazing too. And what’s the current status of the ‘SK8FACE’ documentary?



It was NYC’s skate culture 8 years before this kind of proto-hype lunacy:



When I was a child, I had a plethora of crappy sweatshirts bearing fictional baseball leagues and rally-related imagery. They were hastily cobbled together and I was once quizzed by a kindly doctor as to whether I did actually play baseball, which made me embarrassed and caused me to spin an outlandish lie which I’m sure he saw right through, but opted to play along regardless. That fills me with an odd feeling of embarrassment and nostalgia — the same nostalgia that led me to pick up this dumb but awesome RRL sweatshirt from the American Graffiti collection.

I think there’s some 1930s and 1950s influence in the collection, but beyond the references to some Bonneville Salt Flat hot rod legends, it just reminds me of that goofy sweatshirt. Like Garbstore’s 1950s-themed Mechanic Sweat, this design’s saddle sleeved assembly gives it some extra personality — the detailing on the underarm is even more severe than the British interpretation of vehicle-themed fleece cotton and the mix of marl colours is a winner. It also looks like some pyjamas I had when I was a toddler. Again, I believe that’s a strong selling point when it comes to sweatshirt purchase.

On that note, I recently saw someone selling Polo Western Wear jeans from 1979 on eBay with excitable talk of it being a proto-RRL. Wasn’t that the ill-fated Ralph Lauren GAP hookup that bricked even harder than RRL did in 1993?

THE JEFF PHILLIPS TRAGEDY

My MacBook just died. It contained some things I was going to blog about, so I resorted to a backup plan. When in doubt, just recycle an old article that isn’t already on the internet. I see movements accelerated by online outlets to the point where they burn out in mere months and while it’s easy to chuckle at what’s no longer on trend (and we’re currently in a realm where 48 hours after anything arrives online requires some form of self-conscious “late pass” talk), there’s victims in any defunct element of a declining subculture.

Skateboarders love gossip as much as rap fans and graffiti nerds. They love tales of fatalities, misbehaviour and “where are they nows” more than most, and a key catalyst for misfortune was the transition from vert to street. Superstars plunged from grace as a new breed emerged, and the old guard had to evolve or die – of course that was meant literally in terms of diminishing careers and funds, but in the case of Texan skate legend Jeff Phillips — a childhood hero of mine —
the change in the culture’s physical landscape and personal problems led to his suicide on Christmas day, 1993.

We all know how Gator and Hosoi dealt with their problems in the early 1990s, but whereas Mr. Rogowski was afflicted with a douchebag streak, Jeff just came across as a guy who loved what he did for a living.

That enthusiasm was infectious. I recall meeting Joe Lopes (with my dad actually, who constantly made reference tour meeting with Joe until he too passed away – I think he was either trying to embarrass me or impress me with his memory. In the former, he failed and in the latter, he succeeded) in 1988 during a Circle-A tour of local skateparks. He seemed like a good guy (I’m sure he and his team mates were handing out pornography) and I was saddened to hear that he died in a car accident in 2002. I also remember a thinly veiled tale that pertained to the man in an issue of ‘Big Brother’ too, but this isn’t the time or place.

I’ve seen few truly progressive movements in my lifetime beyond skating, so I guess those left behind during its most significant leap. For that reason, stories like Jeff’s affected me a little more than the macabre tales Google frequently spits at me. I haven’t bothered with ‘Rolling Stone’ in a long time. Does it still take itself seriously, ’Almost Famous’ style? The last good article I read was a piece on straightedge gangs a few years back and before that the “bugchaser” piece in a 2003 issue. In 1994/5 they were still publishing some great material.

Kevin Heldman’s JA and GHOST trailing ‘Mean Streaks’ in the February 9th 1995 is a classic, but there’s a few more notable non-music assignments from around that time too. Peter Wilkinson’s ‘Skate Till You Die’ — a six page piece on Jeff’s last days — ran in the September 8th 1994 issue. It was sensitively handled and enlightening too, exploring the complexity of his depression. I miss excellent journalism.

BANGING

The Palace crew went H.A.M.  with their ‘Gangbanging at Ground Zero’ promo. I love the skating, the third-generation mate-of-a-mate fuzz (anyone else remember the dark footage of someone getting hit with a skateboard on a Union video?) in an era of artful virals shot in hi-def video on a friend’s Canon and the soundtrack. The soundtrack was the highlight. Skate videos helped with my musical education over the years, but it was the soundtrack that really killed it. When you’re filming in New York City, you can’t help but echo classics like Zoo York’s first Mixtape (I’ll take a hundred region 1 DVD dilemmas over the NTSC tape traumas from back in the day).

I like being reminded of a time when I’d phone skate shops on a JR Hartley flex (and I’m not talking about the trancey dickhead redux) hunt the black Zoo York hoody with the white stitched lettering. That captures the Mixtape and Peep This era to me…back when that brand was at the Supreme level of necessary apparel. Then all of a sudden they were dropping their own Dunk-a-likes, featuring printed birds in their sweats and devoid of edge.

The Palace video pays tribute by using that Fat Joe and Keith Nut WKCR Stretch & Bobbito freestyle that felt quaint back when Zoo York used it for the Jeff Pang segment. At that point, when Joey was wearing mafia don suits, it felt antiquated, but for some reason that shock-value, no-budget sound seems a little more relevant. Where did Keith Nut go?

Nowadays, if a rapper mentions Satan or moves their hand unusually, they’re accused of devil worshipping. It’s good to see a new wave taking it back to a less conservative time, but even when there was an element of shock-tactics, Keith claiming that “I ain’t your ordinary nigga mister/I do shit like suck my own dick, and child molest my little sister” made Bushwick Bill seem like Drake.

I’ve never heard such a boast of equal deviance since, and while the rest of Terror Squad made some noise – even Prospect is traceable, making some good records – I haven’t heard from Keith since Terror Squad’s ‘The Album’ in 1999, but I recall demos on Stretch and Bob’s show, freestyles on Doo Wop tapes and a fine verse on ‘Jealous One’s Envy’. Now he’s M.I.A. I blame that noncey lyric.

That just stretches back to a lineage of audio gulliness on tape — the Mobb on 411VMs (shouts to Rodney Torres) and best of all, Mike Carroll in Plan B’s ‘Virtual Reality’ skating to ‘Story (Pinky in the Twat)’ by The Beatnuts with the “Sucked her tits then I pounded her clitso” lyric. Most rappers aren’t quite as nihilistic as they used to be, but it’s good to know that Waka Flocka and Lex Luger are bringing that same spirit from the south. Their inclusion on the Palace tape, for Chewy Cannon’s section makes a certain sense. It’s interesting to hear contemporary gnarliness over a lo-fi look. G-check, G-check, G-check…

Another skate mainstay is the constant battle between the skate rats and the artsy types. I love watching it develop in 39 page threads on the Sidewalk forums over the cost of Palace sweatshirts…yep, 39 pages. Even Josh Kalis and Jason Dill are still engaging in upriver/downriver debate. It wouldn’t be the skate industry without heated debate over utter trivialities with an anti-hipster undertone.

Those Palace critics must be typing their fingerprints away over the latest developments for the brand, with a GQ Style magazine feature with Lev and company stood with naked ladies. The impending button-down shirts and Palace x Lavenham jacket should make them even madder, but they get it right every time and the skating’s excellent, which is the important part, right? That, plus the hundreds of thousands of views directed at threads about the price of printed cotton. All promo is good promo, but Palace’s promotional game is fucking good when it comes to films and photos. Brits in New York being very trill indeed, with snuff movie production values is a winning formula.


(Taken from Slam’s Facebook because I’m too lazy to scan)

EVENT RAP

Motherfuckers are impatient. Really, really impatient. A couple of days ago, Pusha-T’s ‘Fear of God’ mixtape made its official online appearance and pretty much shut down select Twitter timelines for an afternoon. Reactions were online within least than quarter of an hour after a Mediafire link appeared. That’s crazy. We knew the moment it would drop (despite a rogue streaming site) and Pusha even hosted a listening party for the tape…MP3, whatever. It was event rap, and that’s the rapid route to a fast-tracked backlash.

On Googling the name, fiending (I’m sure the Thornton brothers would use that as a jump off for yayo-wordplay) for a download, I chanced across a mediocre review made by a forum user that had been made at 4:30pm (half an hour before the release). It deemed the project unsatisfactory with track-by-track commentary. I respect that kid’s journalistic turnaround, but this decision to elevate the mixtape into a social media flooding, forced moment of ground breaking, epoch-defining magnificence, rather than your favourite rapper enjoying royalty freedom with promo-only status is a harmful one.

Nobody expects good any more. They don’t want acceptable, or a slow-burner. They want their music free, fast and immediate. ‘Fear of God’ doesn’t match any of the ‘We Got it 4 Cheap,’ trilogy (thankfully they dropped before the Tweet-rap era, otherwise the excitement may have broken the internet), but any Pusha-T material is worthy, given us that cold-blooded coke talk, with the quirkier touches that he seems to unconsciously apply to a verse, with pleasantly dated cultural references (as I’ve said before, Ric Flair analogies will always earn points with me) as well as Based God nods. One day, references to Lil B cooking and Twitter will be as archaic as 2Pac’s tales of mobile phone envy, but we can get a kick out of them in the short term.

I’m glad that Clipse have maintained their buzz after the Jive fiasco and bullshit Re-Up LP. Hopefully Pusha won’t have a problem with former Jive nemesis Barry Weiss being the new man in charge at Def Jam. Unless you’re Jada, 50, Kanye or Shawn, rap’s in the hands of 21 and below, and at 33, Pusha’s pensionable…Malice is 38. The affiliations with Kanye and that constant Pharrell helping hand, plus a constant lyrical elevation just keeps the duo relevant.

When Pusha spits over Soulja Boy’s ‘Speakers Going Hammer’ he isn’t like dad at the party drunk — he actually sounds at home on it. That’s a rare thing. With some of their early years pilfered by the goons at East West who confined them to bonus CDs with Nicole’s ‘Make it Hot’ CD in 1998 and buried the brilliance of ‘The Funeral’ in 1999. Anyone else remember Pusha being called Terrar and appearing on a Kelis track? Philly’s Most Wanted caught a brick (insert powder reference here) and Fam-Lay ended up in limbo, Rosco P Goldchain has his own legal issues and Lee Harvey vanished as quickly as he appeared…somehow, Clipse beat that Neptunes-affiliated curse. ‘Grindin’ could have gone ‘Tipsy’, even though ‘Lord Willin’ was hard as hell.

The Timberlake hookup had Pusha and Malice spitting some corny lines — you could tell they were itching to talk homicides right there. I met them briefly in early 2004 and they were nice guys, but I assumed that their moment was over as they performed ‘Grindin’ and some appalling commissioned track for London’s ‘World B-Boy Championships’ at Wembley stadium. I was surprised to see how BAPED-out they were, after early press shots had them in FUBU.

The fact their manager went to prison for trafficking, gave Clipse that edge like BMF and Jeezy (though Jeezy’s refusal to to Tweet due to his belief it’s a form of snitching) may have edged him out the conversation lately) to indicate that they weren’t mere studio fantasies in those wild tales of county lines and lavish car seating. Using mixtapes to fill the label-limbo between albums was a shred move. People still haven’t realised how good ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ actually is — these things need digestion time which 2011 rap refuses to allow — but it was ‘Freedom’ from ‘Til the Casket Drops’ that sold the new Pusha-T to me, living up to the promise of “Hip-hop on steroids” with that verse. And he hasn’t looked back since.

I was more of a Malice fan once (still am, but Pusha took pole position) once with his gloriously monotone, “The boy’s such an author, I should smoke a pipe” line, ‘Kojak’ references and elegantly tasteless Amistad references, but Pusha-T is my current favourite MC. This tape confers that.

Watching Tyler and company shut down talk of Nas in a recent interview was fun to watch. Why should young ‘uns be in thrall of those who’ve peddled tin-eared mediocrity for so long is no real mystery, yet they’re still expected to revere old guarders who’ve squandered their legacy. They spoke of Jay-Z and 50 Cent as their choice of listening growing up (let that be the final word in who one that battle) and there’s a respect for Pusha as a favourite MC too. Ignore the hype. Let that mixtape slow-burn, log out of Twitter and stop expecting freebies to be classic LPs. Just kick back and enjoy deadpan nihilism done well and (illegal) substance that those Rapidshare rappers have yet to develop, despite the singular subject matter..

RIP to Michael L. Abramson — the skinny whiteboy who shot Chicago clubs like Perv’s Lounge and The Patio Lounge in the 1970s, resulting in his portraits of 1970s South Side blues club goers that filled the ‘Light: On the South Side’ book.

The Grey Skateboard Magazine ‘Grey Nights’ video is online and despite its short running time, there’s some offcuts available on the Slam City Grey blog. It’s a great video.

TYSON 2.0

My Tyson preoccupation is something that crops up time and time again here. That’s unlikely to subside as Mike’s career takes some curious turns. Bear in mind that I once turned down the opportunity to party with Christian Hosoi to attend a preview screening on ‘Tyson’ just in case the big man attended (my very own pop-cultural ‘Sophie’s Choice’). His Oscar season viral videos indicated that he’s got an innate aptitude for comedy, but I’m hooked on the Animal Planet ‘Taking on Tyson’ show too.

A pigeon-based reality show simply frameworks some introspective moments that complement Toback’s documentary perfectly. It’s also been hugely educational in explaining the appeal of racing these feathered athletes. Last week’s remark from Mike that people thought, “This guy is a dreadful, offensive cad!” on seeing his ‘90s antics matched the talk of stomping out Don in front of decrepit old white ladies. You enter Tyson 2.0’s entertainment outings with a smirk, expecting a freakshow, but you come out enlightened. I’m pleased to see a happier individual on my screen.

The Nintendo ‘Punch-Out’ game represents a fair amount of my late childhood, and I was amazed to see that a group of fanboys purchased the ROM of the mysterious and unreleased ‘Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch’ a couple of years back. The rape trial and quality issues meant that this game never came out as it was meant to. Dropping in 1992 as the flop ‘Power Punch II’ without Don King and his hair and with Mike replaced with “Mark Tyler” (around the same time, Mike Tyson-alike M. Bison in ‘Street Fighter II’ would be renamed Balrog due to legal concerns), it just wasn’t the same. While it’s available as a free download, the $30 cartridge is what you need in your life. Tyson punching aliens is high concept stuff indeed.

 

Tyson’s ad-libs on Canibus are the sole highlight of ‘Bis’s career. Canibus is beloved of the kind of people who think a raspy-voiced rapper babbling about UFOs is Nobel-calibre. They belong to the same group who purport to have submitted essays on Ras Kass’s made-up history of mankind ‘Nature of the Threat’ as degree projects. Jesus Christ. Now he’s back, claiming Premier worked with Christina Aguilera circa 1998 and ethering himself with a bizarre attack on Mr. Christopher Martin. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I believe an ill-fated 2004 photoshoot truly destroyed Canibus’s career.

The Dismasters ‘Black & Proud’ cover, the Dre Wreckin’ Cru era images that Eazy used to wield, Weezy looking like he was being bummed by a cop in a condom ad and that pauseworthy XXL Soulja Boy/Boo-Boo cover seem downright sensible compared to these images.

Did he demand some “Bollywood ’97 steez” attire from his stylist? “Kraków nightspot ‘07 styles”? That belt, the jacket, the savage levels of boot cut…and that buckle. Did he refer to himself as “The black Richard Hammond” back then on a record? These pictures still perplex me. What the heck was going through his mind when he broke out these garments? For a notoriously tin-eared MC like Canibus to pop shots at Premier after these shots seems doubly ridiculous. I’ll take that same old scratched Nas line and plodding piano over some bloke rasping about supermathematical illuminati armies (I just made that up) or whatever he talks about any day.

I don’t care much for UK rap. I try, but it’s either some old shite sampling hit records from 1990 with a baffling level of immunity (this is because most people are pricks) or a slightly squalid clone of the southern rap in my iTunes library that — as UK rap has always done — wants my coin just because I’m meant to support my own. Fuck that. Where did I put those Waka Flocka MP3s again? It wasn’t particularly good during the last 18 years or so either — just lots of people with group names like Elevated Mindz (apologies if that’s a real group name) talking about how bloody British they are and how they devastate mics. That Skepta video with the tagged in but from a Ben Dover looking production is excruciating. It makes the post-watershed ‘How Do You Want It’ promo look like ‘Caligula’ by comparison.

The ragga crossover stuff gets a pass though — it still sounds hard. Shouts to Scary Éire’s DJ Mek for his ‘UK Ragga Hiphop Mix.’ For some reason West Indian culture permeated UK rap with a greater success rate (RIP SMILEY CULTURE) than those terrible ragamuffin moments that sullied decent US LPs and mixtapes (word to Mad Lion, Lil’ Vicious and Red Fox). This mix is a lot of flashback fun and a fair amount of it holds up better than what came next. Break out the suede Champions and have a listen:

www.djmek.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/remedy-for-the-black-ash-blues

The excellent Grey Skateboard Magazine (not to be mistaken for Grey fashion magazine) has reached issue #4, with a launch party happening right now, plus a screening of some nighttime skate movies, including ‘Minuit’ and Grey’s own ‘Grey Nights’ film. The teaser alone indicates why Lucien Clarke is a badman. I’m also liking Mr. Sam Ashley’s Palace Skateboards in NYC pictures a lot too.

 

 

INSANE: VERY BRITISH “STREETWEAR”

This blog was actually meant to be about British things. Back when Acyde asked if I wanted to contribute, it awoke some kind of blog-demon within me and I tried…really, really tried to keep it British as a point-of-difference from all the other blogs out there, but I got bored and my yankophile tendencies got the better of me. I’m not trying to be a flag-burner, but a lot of British stuff (note the fact I said, a lot — not all) at street level is fucking corny. If it’s good, the minute you’ve covered it, you’ve wrecked it — like one a well-meaning missionary introducing a remote tribe to western confectionary and soft drinks, and managing to destroy their way of life in the process. Of course, America and Asia is riddled with corniness too, but we’ve condensed corniness.

Plus – if we’re talking “streetwear” — the good, aspirational stuff is meant to be on the cool kids, not the gimps. But now the tough kids wear black hoodies, vast tracksuit bottoms and Fila F13s or Air Max 90s, not the eclectic, expensive garms that led me to my “career” path. Nerds wear all the pricey brands – hardrocks probably aren’t paying more than £25 for a hoody. I used to assume that if you saw someone in a Supreme box hat, they were — in some idiotic, cliquey generalisation — one of “us.” I don’t even know what constitutes “us,” but the box is so ubiquitous, that I and most wearers are estranged. We’d have nothing to say. Supreme is still one of my favourite brands, but I can’t assume that I share an affinity with each and every wearer any more. It’s probably a good thing.

So I can’t be bothered to rep the UK specifically any more. It’s too limiting. Alas, this entry was written on a PC, where Photoshop and something as simple as Grab don’t exist. Even the card from my camera isn’t compatible. As a result — until I visit a Genius — the imagery here is just pilfered from elsewhere (with credit, of course).

I don’t feel that there’s enough history on UK streetwear pioneers on the internet. There’s a certain Brit-mindset that’s keen not to blow our own trumpet too much, doubly downplayed by avoiding blasting those brass instruments in a realm where to enthuse too much is uncool. As a result, things just disappear. We had to get to where we are now somehow, but after the popularity of the raggamuffin style blog entry here last year, I thought I’d take a look at skate culture in the UK and a key brand. Brit-publication ‘RAD’ (that neon sticker that ‘SK8 Action’ tried to bite was kind of the box logo of its day) taught me a lot. it had me hunting for Slam City Skates and M-Zone (the UK’s Stüssy spot of choice, where jackets seemed to price hike from £50 to £200+ between 1987-1991), and it introduced me to some British skate brands like Poizone and Anarchic Adjustment, but it’s Insane Ironic Skate Clothing that evokes the fondest memories. Ged Wells is a UK pioneer.

Looking back at 1980s skateboarding, Americans seemed to be in two camps – the neon, hair metal rockstar idiots or the gnarlier, tattooed Santa Cruz kids. The British contingent seemed to have merged the two to look an awful lot like squatters and crusties. I find it hard to get misty-eyed looking back at old ‘RAD’s (BIG UP DOBIE and check www.whenwewasrad.com for scans of old issues) in terms of fashion, but Insane was something far ahead of its time. Skate style in the UK isn’t something that could come effortlessly — we’re not really a print tee kind of nation, so that look would always seem imported and as a result, extremely posey and awkward. Not Insane. It seemed to take few cues from the States and channelled that oddball charm that makes British skating so evocative with its cartoons, fluid, bouncy fonts. It was strange-good.

Insane was the forefather of Slam City affiliated brands like Holmes, Silas (with artist James Jarvis providing their unique character-led world) and Palace. The romanticized notion of all skaters as artists is of course bollocks, but Ged could switch from foot planting in a pair of Visions (or were they Pacers?) to creating these weird garments. I’m sure Insane was inadvertently responsible for a fuckload of awful clubbing-related brands too — the kind that would be bunched together in distributor ads at the back of ‘i-D’ magazine (with whom Insane actually collaborated for tees), but it’s not the brand’s fault that people were and are idiots.

Circa 1989, Insane seemed awesome and underground. Before Insane, there was talk of the Jim-Jams brand that led to the Ironic Skate Clothing’s genesis. It was on tees, bum bags, sweats, shorts, hats, jackets, videos (‘Mouse is Pulling at the Key’), stickers and tracksuit bottoms. The adverts in themselves were mini-masterpieces. There was even an Insane Skate Supply store in Camden in the mid 1990s. It could be displayed alongside Stüssy without shame or any allegations of lo-fi imitation — the strawberry graphic tees and shorts were particularly good. Insane was very much its own entity. How many other brands could claim that? Ged’s work was present on skateboards for Slam City, but they distributed Insane too, doing a fine job of getting it into spots like Glasgow’s legendary Dr Jives.

In many ways, Insane’s ascent occurred at the point where vert died and the freestyle kids got the last laugh (well, the ones with business minds anyway) so it’s popularity in 1991/2 ran adjacent to an exciting, progressive time for skating. Having launches at the Wag Club in 1989 just conferred the merger of the era’s most well-regarded spots and subcultures. ‘Face’ and’ i-D’ photo shoots placed the gear alongside Nike and Stussy too in a raggamuffin style. The surreal imagery even captured some of that Native Tongues hype of the time. Over a decade before Robin Williams got kitted out in UNDFTD and BAPE, he could be seen sporting Insane around the time of the underrated ‘The Fisher King’s release.

Nothing gold can stay and Insane ultimately left us, but Ged’s still active as an artist and designer. He’s exhibited fairly recently and remains progressive and innovative, but (refreshingly) he doesn’t seem to shy away from his Insane work. He has something to do with Trisickle magazine too, but I’m not sure what happened to the plans to resurrect Insane and retro key pieces in 2006 (was that inspired by the nostalgia tsunami ushered in via Winstan Whitter’s ‘Rolling Through the Decades’?). A Japanese audience obviously took Insane (and Slam City Skates) in as one of their own, embracing the overseas authenticity of these legit Brit reinterpretations of a Californian artform — just as that R. Newbold ‘Monster’ tee Slam City colab seemed to arrive from nowhere, it was refreshing to see Japan’s Tokishirazu team with Insane for an anniversary collection a couple of years back.

All the Insane images here are pilfered from Ged Wells’s Flickr account
www.flickr.com/photos/gedwells — go have a dig there for some classic ads, shoots and apparel, plus information on how some imagery came to be. His website is www.gedwells.com.

As a sidenote, ‘RAD”s letters page actually had an email address in 1988, using British Telecom’s complicated-looking Telecom Gold service: 72:MAG90459 from a time before @’s were the in-thing.

Slam City Skates logo designer Chris Long’s online portfolio (www.chrislongillustration.com) has an excellent ‘Relax’ cover from winter 1996 he drew that captures a very UK style.

NOSTALGIA OFFSET

Taking pictures from a Facebook account is a lowblow, so I’ll avoid it, but the homie Thomas Giorgetti (who knows more about sneakers and graffiti than you or I) is making power moves with the Bleu de Paname brand alongside partner Christophe Lepine. The line just gets better and better, defying the preconception that it could just be another denim brand, or another workwear renaissance. It’s far more than that. The pocket tees and sports jackets were killer and Thomas premiered a sample of a Comme des Garçons collaboration on his Facebook the other day. Great line and an astonishingly quick ascent in such a short time. Gun fingers to the sky for Thomas. That and ‘Crack & Shine’ #2 are two things worth looking out for over the next few months.

REASONS TO LIVE: 2011

What’s the point of getting up in the morning? You could get thrown over the dashboard of a speeding car on the way to grab provisions, go into a coma for the rest of the year and not miss a damned thing. That’s pretty frightening. It’s also a grand overstatement —there’s lots to look forward over the next year. Put down those pills and close that tab that’s open on alt.sucide.methods. Get involved with these things…

MIKE TYSON & THE ANIMALS

Iron Mike’s autobiography might be MIA at the moment, but Tyson’s sounding mighty healthy on both Twitter and in the real world. He’s looking a little leaner and he’s got an Animal Planet show; ‘Taking On Tyson’ which seems to be a pigeon racing reality show, with Tyson traveling the world (including Scotland) to discuss his feathered friends. If that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re not on the same wavelength. Kudos to whoever pitched it in to the network too…it probably wasn’t an easy sell. This show debuts on TV Stateside in March.

BIG BROTHER’S BACK

While the Dave Carney ‘Boob’ book is still inexplicably hard-to-obtain, there’s a whole documentary on Big Brother magazine in the making. ‘The Big Brother Memoir: A Stupid Skateboard Magazine’ may well be an extension of the footage posted on the Jackass site a few years back and it’ll probably disappear into the 24 month limbo that skate-related documentaries have a habit of slipping into but it’ll be worth the wait. There’s a lot of magazines dropping these days, but which ones have any personality? Big Brother in its heyday was absolutely untouchable and an arguable influence on the next wave of pretty much everything for those who experienced it. You already knew about these PDFs, didn’t you?

THE SOUND OF araabMUZIK

The current wave of rap-related viral videos seems to be built on addressing rumours and interview arguments. Boring. araabMUZIK videos are hypnotic. The MVP of the MPC is the most interesting to watch at work, and while he isn’t the first to make similar sounds (he sounds like the hyperactive child of Mannie, Justin and prime Heatmakerz), Lex Luger seemed to be…ummm…”inspired” by his work when he gave Jay and ‘Ye a track over which they inexplicably opted to rap like they’d had a Lemsip overdose instead of the requisite H.A.M. levels (at least it caused Busta to drop his annoying date rape flow for 2-minutes). araabMUZIK’s thrash metal team up was the least excruciating hip-hop and metal union since Faith No More & Boo-Yaa back in 1993, another recent video sees him tearing through live beat making with a nifty black-on-black Dipset piece around his neck—at 08:37 he unleashes the kind of drama music that’ll make you want to strike a stranger. What exactly is in that cup?

ANOTHER DEF JAM BOOK

Stacy Gueraseva’s book on Def Jam five years ago was a must-buy, and on a glossier and officially licensed level, the Rizzoli ’25 Years of Def Jam’ effort should be great too. Reuniting Dan Charnas (writer of the essential ‘The Big Payback’ ) with old mentor Bill Adler, there’s no cover or in-depth information as of yet regarding cover art or content other than its hardback status and September release date. Will it have a whole chapter on Jayo Felony? Highly doubtful.

LARRY CLARK IN LONDON AGAIN

Larry Clark’s ‘What do you do for fun?’ exhibition opens at the Simon Lee Gallery on February 10th. It should make up for missing the ‘Kiss the Past Hello’ show in Paris last year, and from a preview on the Simon Lee site, it’s significantly more wide-ranging than the ‘Los Angeles 2003-2006’ offerings at the same space in early 2008. It’s unknown as to whether the newly unearthed silent ‘Tulsa’ 16mm film will accompany it (supposedly, the movie was recently limited to a run of 5 DVD copies).

VASQUE RESURRECTION

Vasque never really went anywhere, but for the fans, there’s two versions of this boot—the current old man hikers and weird trainer hybrids and the ones you used to eye up in the Source. The preoccupation with hiking gear is unlikely to go anytime soon so we might as well have the best and I suspect my homie Mr. Ronnie Fieg—a Vasque boot superfan and the David Z frontman for special projects—will do something with the Sundowner or Super Hiker, even if they’re not Italian made any more like they were in the early ’90s. The brand’s attempt to break the UK market a few years back via some brash lad-mag ads remains an odd move.

PORT LOOKS INTERESTING

Big name magazine launches can be sheer wankery, but ‘PORT’ looks promising. Editor Dan Crowe’s Zembla literary magazine was a superb effort, and while Port’s emphasis seems to be style, there’s plenty of substance promised for its March launch. My days of reading magazines cover-to-cover seem to be numbered, but hopefully this one might restore my papery OCD. I just want to pick up something authoritative. It has a poetry editor and Daniel Day-Lewis writing an essay on Gaza. That’s enough to confer investigation, and it launches at a point when iPad compatibility is more than a rushed afterthought too.

MORE PALACE

This picture from the new Palace line is straight swaggerjacked from the Hideout’s site. I remember happy days of local skate shops stocking a rail bought seemingly at random from New Deal or Shiner, and simply buying the most eyecatching tee, complete with a barely concealed Hanes (or far, far worse in the thickness stakes). This New York Giants style effort is some no-nonsense branding that harks back to happy days of Holmes and many that went before.

NIM CHIMPSKY

Yes, that really was the name of the chimp taught a form of sign language decades ago, who apparently unleashed the 16-word sentence through these gestures, “Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.” Mired in debate, it served to reinforce our relationship with our simian neighbours. ‘Project Nim,’ directed by James Marsh (the man behind ‘Man on Wire’ —a documentary that left me cold), tells the story of the monkey raised as a human, and the byproduct of the experiment. As a chimp superfan, I can’t wait to see it. After showing at Sundance days ago, HBO swiftly picked it up.

TAKAHIRO MIYASHITA CAN’T LOSE

Just when outdoorsy screwfaces prove they’re here to stay temporarily, former Number (N)ine kingpin Takahiro Miyashita’s The Soloist project keeps on innovating in a weird way and the S/S 2011 collection is somewhere between woodland hipster buffoon, Victorian tinker, Hoth reconnaissance, the twins from ‘Rad’ and something far more innovative. Accompanying gear with New Balances, teaming with Oliver Peoples and using some very luxurious fabrics is a winner—as is Takahiro’s leisurely pace. While everyone else has let the cat out the bag for the whole year. Who knows what he’s got planned for the colder months?

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS STORIES

Avant-garde film director, writer, musician and artist Jonas Mekas is 87 years old and he’s still got more ideas and vanguard spirit than you. Don’t feel bad. He’s a genius. ‘Walden’ is a sprawling, brilliant headache of a film and he’s back after six years with an 8MM film experiment and ‘Sleepless Nights Stories’ which seems to have Björk and Harmony Korine involved too. That’s as much as we know.

CARHARTT KIMMEL

Adam Kimmel’s been peddling terrifyingly expensive workwear that’s actually very wearable, plus something significantly sharper for a while now, so his alliance with Carhartt sounded pretty natural. A.P.C. and SOPHNET have done big things with the brand (though in the case of the latest SOPH, I’m not looking to dress like a train driver from the 1920s), but from shots on the Hideout’s blog, it looks significantly more cohesive and wearable as a total look. There’s pocket tees, three cashmere versions of the watch cap, but the jacket in the picture here is the one for me. It’ll terrorise your credit card when it drops, but if you slept on the Junya jacket early last year this might cheer you up. Initial reports indicate that the line is non-smedium.

MORE BOILER ROOM

Boiler Room is awesome on a number of levels. As I drop out the loop, FACT magazine and Boiler Room’s transmissions are something of a lifeline. USTREAM is often misused. For every transmitted sexual act, live suicide or other watchably grand gesture, there’s a drivel tsunami on the broadcast front. Team Boiler Room keep the strong lineups coming every Tuesday at 8…you too can experience Dalston as you imagine it to be, without having to deal with the everyday reality and twattery of the area. The SWAMP 81 label gets a showcase on Tuesday and I’ve been told there’s some serious guests booked for the rest of the year too.

www.boilerroom.tv

MINDSPRAY BLOGGING

Extra-curricular copy-writing has prevented this entry from being anything approaching conceptual. It’s just a mindspray of things currently exciting me at this very moment in time. Things that hype me, even though this isn’t a hype blog, unless you’re very, very odd. Like me. Does that make it a neo-hype site? Fuck knows. This began life as a rant about the launch of the Pretty Green store on Carnaby Street, which is fitting, since the gear is as credible as a rasta wig/hate combination from the tat stores a few doors down. If wearing a fisherman’s hat like Lennon and a twatty little scarf is your idea of style, you’re beyond help. Same goes for Kasabian fans. Knobheads from Leicester play at abstraction and fail, because they’re abysmal. Bet they get a guest line with Pretty Green next year.

And breathe.

What’s good out there that can restore the disturbance in the force (incidentally — everyone collaborating with Lucasfilm is 13 years too late — the airlock closed just after they botched the Return of the Jedi conclusion)? Plenty of things. The impending Guillermo del Toro remake of ’70s TV-movie ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ is amassing interest after initial redux eye-rolling. It’s not a Platinum Dunes creation, and del Toro knows how to give you chills {‘The Devil’s Backbone’ remains underrated, despite the plaudits – one of the best ghost stories ever filmed). If you’ve never seen the original, it’s a curiously mean-spirited tale of a woman tormented by walnut-headed monkey demons, Cheap, grim and very, very disturbing. The teaser footage of the remake reportedly made a roomful of nerds shit themselves, and seeing as comic book artist Troy Nixey is at the helm, the poster’s cool too. An “R’ rating just for being frightening? This could match the phenomenal ‘Drag Me To Hell’ next year. Speaking of nightmarish TV -movies, ‘Bobby’ from 1977’s ‘Dead of Night’ was all shades of wrong too.

Preoccupied with the crazier end of the skate spectrum this weekend, it was a good time to dredge up some Sean Sheffey footage to re-watch. In the process I found out that not only did crazy Mark “Gator” Rogowski (eff that Anthony shit) go buckwild that fateful day in 1991, a teenager called Gator Collet, who changed his name by deed poll from Jeremy in tribute to Mark, was put away for murder in 1993 too. Now that’s taking idol emulation to the next level. The mad skater obsession is timely, as the Antwuan Dixon Epicly Later’d goes live on VBS next week. In honour of Antwuan, and Rogowski’s ill-fated conversion, the best of both worlds was manifested in the legendary Lennie Kirk, whose 1991 Alien Workshop ‘Time Code’ section is classic and reputedly the reason for his sudden switch to christianity. According to legend, Lennie awoke from the dumpster head crack at 0:35 born again like Mark Gottlieb in ‘Neighbours’ when he went god bothering after a blow to the noggin. Lennie got over it and reportedly robbed a taxi driver with a sawn-off. He’s in prison but stays a hero in my eyes, and this gospel-soundtracked clip remains timeless. Stay up, Lennie.

The ’30 for 30′ ESPN rollout hit new heights with Jeff Tremaine’s ‘The Birth of Big Air’ documentary, produced by Spike Jonze about another berserker — Mat Hoffman. That should be online on this YouTube channel very soon for the non-US fanboys and girls.

Over the last week I’ve realised there’s some fundamental omissions to recent entries here with regards to Larry Clark, burgers and UK -brands and their t-shirts. So consider the following a postscript of sorts.

Forget the speculation. The Meatwagon does offer the best burger in the UK by a serious distance. On some recon regarding an upcoming BBQ event, work and burger love collided. The ‘Hippy’ burger that was on sale in their tucked-away Peckham industrial estate location on friday was a fine reproduction of an Animal-Style Double-Double at In-N-Out, fried with mustard and the basic cheeseburger was a work of art too. It might even be one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. As ‘Free Bird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd began to play on the van’s stereo as I swallowed the last mouthful, for a few brief seconds, all was right with the world. This burger you cannot change. Check the interview with Yianni, the man behind the van here. He really is very serious about beef and buns.

In talking about Brits and t-shirts, the always-ace Original Store just dropped their ‘Black Cowboy’ tee with the mighty Faithfanzine. Nice design, and the prospect of a free mix CD’s a winner too. A great expansion from Farley and company after their Firmament Boy’s Own shirts came and went in Berlin last year. Faithfanzine was always a great read, as was the Boy’s Own anthology. Gentleman and scholar Mr Jason Jules’s piece on Cuts in Soho was a good inclusion too. For some reason Farley and company weather the retrospective storm by staying open-minded, whereas the Factory-bores up north managed the impossible, and made Joy Division seem dull just by NEVER SHUTTING THE FUCK UP ABOUT THE HACIENDA. Thus projects like this neatly sidestep the shittiness of backward-thinking Pretty Green projects and stay gold. I miss the FUC51 blog already, but their final entry last month was a good ‘un —

We’re off. It’s been real, thanks for the memories. Remember back in January? The posts were stronger and cost £15 to read, and hardly any fucker used to come here. Needless to say, those that did have all got book deals now.

DJ Muro’s King Inc. Digger Mart remains one of the most accurate electronic reproductions of random Tokyo rap-related shopping experiences. I’ve revisited since my last blog entry on it to coincide with the news that DJ Muro mixes might be a whole lot easier to find on these shores in coming months. A couple of good buddies seem to be involved in the European release of some upcoming goodness. Muro and Savage might be the minds behind my favourite collaborations, but Digger Mart always has something to make me double take. Beyond the TLC longbox and Dolemite VHS collection, personal picks this time were the Troop LL Cool J releases, a security t-shirt for an Earth, Wind & Fire show, a Budweiser plaid shirt, a paisley Hilfiger number and a Tommy Boy cap with a suede peak. I love Digger Mart.

After the ‘Kids’ post I realised I’d forgotten to mention the talking heads footage that’s been on YouTube for a couple of years regarding the film’s production. I’m guessing it was taken from the 2003 ‘Larry Clark, Great American Rebel’ documentary. On a ‘Kids’ tip, I ignored Mac Miller too long for his backpacks, talk of reissued shoes and box logo stickers all up in the videos. Part of a generation seemingly steeped in the early ’90s, I can’t sleep any more. The current output got the “Oh shit! It’s not even wack” Dame Dash reaction from me. His music dwarfs the crossover sounds currently blowing up in the UK. In one mixtape cut this kid ethers anything by the inexplicably popular, but always unlistenable Professor Green (was that F64 a fluke or what?) or Example. And the clown Evening Standard journalist who compared Plan fucking B to Smokey Robinson needs a chin-check. Mac’s ‘K.I.D.S’ mixtape, due out in mid-August looks to be laden with imagery and samples from the 1995 film. Yelawolf and Mac have soundtracked some warm weather this year. Is it whiteboy day?

STUSSY & NARDCORE…

While it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever pick up a book called ‘Cult Streetwear’ (they seem to have put an ‘l’ in where they surely meant to add an ‘n’) but there’s glimmers of hope from some big brands that it hasn’t all gone to shit. I won’t lie – some recent questionable releases, and the Letraset-style use of Shawn’s handwriting had me losing faith in Stussy a little this season, but the Brits came and knocked it out the park via the Cassette Playa hookup, and lately, while the tees aren’t necessarily my thing, Tyrone Lebon’s Stussy Deluxe x Greensleeves video is very good indeed.

It brought back memories of the hard-to-find 1992 World Tribe VHS, filmed by Tyrone’s uncle, the legendary James Lebon. That family atmosphere extends to the use of Clash members’ and Mr. Don Letts’ children in the video – a nice extension of the spirit of the recent Buffalo family shots in the Neville Brody designed Homme+. It’s the best re-up of Stussy’s original appeal in a while, and a more thoughtful use of the Clash than the recent Supreme tees too, harking back to a time when a cap with that surname in a familiar script was the stuff of daydreams. I think I should’ve had more faith in Stussy as a brand in 2010.

The video’s up there with the well-chosen Jaime Hernandez tees from last winter in terms of intelligent collaboration. While Tyrone’s video harks back to a time when to be affiliated with a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend in the London Chapter would’ve been an honour, the Hernandez tees, steeped in ‘Love & Rockets’ were defiantly left coast, channeling that LA skate-punk atmosphere that arguably birthed streetwear as it relates to cotton and screenprints. Don’t write the Hernandez brothers off as bookish art-kids – they were deeply involved in the ‘Nardcore’ (Oxnard represent!) scene, where Sims team riders and future White Sox pitchers made some hedonistic punk rock – some has aged well…some less so, but the heavily detailed aesthetic of those sleeves still packs a punch.

Dr. Know had some Hernandez art, but off all the albums of the era, 1983’s ‘Don’t Be Mistaken’ by Agression still feels fresh. It’s ripe for a proper remastering. Agression seemed to fall through some gaps, and should’ve been bigger – this 1983 LP brought the group’s live intensity to the turntable with relative ease, but as a onetime comic book disciple, it let my favoured cultures collide in a way that validated my geekdom – was that controversy-baiting ‘SS’ a Kiss-homage? Surf Nazi styling? An early example of credible skate-rock, the Glen E. Friedman cover shot is classic, while Jaime Hernandez’s skeleton rendition of the band was strong too. Word to the Better Youth Organization. Rather than being a mere funnybook tribute, Jaime’s Stussy work was steeped in the subcultural nucleus of the brand. Would this be a good time to revisit 1988’s ‘Comic Book Confidential’ too? A great documentary that throws back to the days when we got very po-faced (“It’s NOT a comic! It’s a graphic novel!”) about the artform…

On a barely-related note, the Supreme book is good, but if you paid over the odds for a slipcase version I feel bad for you son. Can anyone else verify that Levi’s tried to sue Supreme for using a logo in a red rectangle a few years back, assuming the Kruger homage was a bite of the Red Tab Device?

Shouts to Chris and the hip-hop OCD crew at Diggers With Gratitude for being obsessive enough to get in touch with Boston’s deeply underrated (hope they get Orangeman to reissue his LP too) T.D.S. Mob for a ‘Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme’ package on vinyl and CD. There’s room in my heart for some golden age rareness as well as Drumma boy productions, and favouring these new-fangled CDs, Chris and the boys hooked me up with the CD/DVD package.

The 7 audio tracks are hard as hell – that it takes a predominantly UK-based team to recognise greatness is both depressing and deeply heartening – some of these artists should’ve broken out beyond regional appeal, but DWG projects aren’t another bootleg operation – they’re executed in conjunction with the artists themselves, who I imagine are a little perplexed when they get an email from the team, announcing their intentions. the DVD has a couple of effective videos from 1989 and 1990, some live footage and video magazine chatter, and in the stills section is that the mythical ‘adidas Tree’ that’s mentioned in this essay? With some occasional gear from local brand Reebok, the 3-stripes is prominent across the videos – adidas should be celebrating this heritage – motherfuck N-Dubz and that Hudson character. Dead the downloading for a minute and invest.