Tag Archives: biz markie


Dick Schaap: “How does it feel now you have the World Championship and you’re the best in the world at what you’ve devoted your life to? How does that feel inside?

Bobby Fischer: “It feels pretty good, yeah. I mean my goal now is to play a lot more chess. I feel I haven’t played enough chess.”

I just finished watching HBO’s ‘Bobby Fischer Against the World’ again. As a disclaimer, I haven’t got a clue how chess is played, nor do I have the patience or tactical mind to bother, but I’m fascinated by the Fischer mythos. Not to the point that I’ll defend his behaviour, but without attempting to justify his idiotic anti-Semitic views later in life, it’s probably safe to say that with his bizarre worldview, Bobby was on the cusp of sanity and susceptible to some nonsensical world views. Lest we forget, Bobby was Jewish.

To witness this reclusive legend in full babbling beard mode as Liz Garbus’s engrossing portrait concludes, wandering pond side in Reyjjavik with Dr Kari Stefansson who literally has to tell him to shut the fuck up to break his constant monologue on nuclear wars and conspiracy, proves that he was no malevolent eccentric, but a truly ill individual. It’s a squalid end for an enigma. But beyond that, the battle against the Russian, Boris Spassky that stays legendary. No amount of rants can tarnish that moment.

I recommend both ‘Bobby Fischer Against the World’ and the excellent book, ‘Bobby Fischer Goes to War’ by David Edmonds and John Edinow for a superior study of genius personified, bizarre antics and a paranoid grand master’s rise from child prodigy warped by his mother’s curious treatment of him at an early age, thrust (with a cash incentive) into a battle between east and west that included Henry Kissinger’s involvement and allegations of radioactive cheating. Bobby was a rockstar with that broad Brooklyn drawl, inadvertent showmanship from that Asperger’s style belligerence and obsession and aptitude for psychological warfare.

The film isn’t some cool teacher, “Hey! Chess can be fun!” affair, but a fast paced document of a time when the world stopped — from pressing matters in Vietnam to more conventional sporting events — at the press of that chess clock. As a supplement to Edmonds and Edinow’s book, it was great to finally see the footage of Bobby taking on a room of old masters as a bored-looking young boy, bugging out over camera sounds, bounding through airports and engaging in hotel room interviews with a curious mix of swagger and total unease.

While the documentary doesn’t delve into Bobby’s fascinating relationship with bodyguard Saemi Rock Palsson (you’re better off hunting down ‘Me & Bobby Fischer’ for that tale in full), Fischer’s humanity is revealed by Scottish LIFE photographer Harry Benson. Harry evidently had a curious chemistry with Fischer that meant he let him shoot him in some of his most private moments, including some comically solemn-faced workout sessions or blank-faced and exhausted in a series of temporary lodgings. Those images are captured in the Powerhouse release, ‘Bobby Fischer’ which gathers plenty of unpublished images of Bobby at work and play. Though more often, with that gaze, it seems that play was often work.

Harry’s work adds some evidence to tales of Fischer’s love of animals, with his rumoured affection visible during his outdoor shots in the Icelandic countryside. That’s a rare moment of seemingly non-calculated documented behaviour from the man around the time of the Spassky game in summer 1972. After victory, Bobby went to the hills rather than revelling in his win and did some wandering. It’s an ethereal moment in a troubled existence and Benson captures it perfectly. With the side-parting, knitwear and woven blankets, it’s like the best brand look book that never was, albeit one with more sensible slacks.

Watch the documentary, buy the books and take in this complex contemporary tragedy of warped integrity and the dangers of all-encompassing obsession. You at the back, accusing every rapper who breaks the Billboard chart of poorly researched Illuminati associations might want to pay particular attention and treat Mr. Fischer’s mental decline as a cautionary tale in how to go from lithe tactician to rotund berserker in just a few moves…

While we’re talking eccentrics, kudos to whoever uploaded this 1991 episode of ‘Pump it Up’ that’s extremely Biz Markie-centric, shown around the release of ‘I Need a Haircut’ with the amiable rap genius unaware of the legal shit storm on the horizon due to some uncleared samples. Quite fittingly, someone at Universal has blocked part 1 for some pointless legal reason that simply fuels Sendspace “purchases” over iTunes. Keep on fighting the good fight Universal.


Hype makes the industry tick. No blog buzz within 24 hours of launch? Disaster. Nothing gets time to breathe. I find myself laughing at peers picking up on something that went wall-to-wall on Facebook 48 hours prior, and it’s not something that I’m proud of. I’m convinced that the downside of this quick hit, tentacled notion of “street culture” is that while it might snake out far beyond printed tees (and my friend Mr. Marcus Troy made an interesting point on Hypebeast regarding the possibility that too many brands might be dwelling on an “over it” audience at the expense of an audience who want to wear caps, tees and hats, rather than washed-out, button-down blues), it doesn’t seem to take time to create any roots.

I also think that exposure to everything that goes down globally in ten minutes of browsing is homogenising local scenes. I still the joys of information overload provide benefits that outweigh that issue, but I felt it was something worth discussing, because when you turn into a miserable old fuck like me, you cease to create, and commence with utterly unnecessary introspect. Eugene at Hypebeast was kind enough to let me vent a little on the site about a lack of movements (though the title accidentally invokes my lazy way of life and approach to my career too), complete with a little disclaimer too for the site’s Op-Ed experiment.

Lest I look too much like an ageing hipster doofus, I wrote it a short time before the OFWGKTA movement truly went mainstream with the Kimmel and bug-chewing and I realised that nearly every hip-hop blog had become a redundant Johnny-come-lately. So please allow for the token trendy dad reference point. It’s the kind of unfocused ramble you might find here – mostly BlackBerry written and bearing my trademark cavalier approach to grammar. But the aim wasn’t another tiresome things were better in 19_ _ or 20_ _” rant, rather a query as to how cultures might progress in the abundant information age. You can find it here. The next Hypebeast crossover with this self-indulgent corner of the internet will be more focused, but it’s a fun opportunity I appreciate.

Any talk of HYPE also reminds me of the excellent 1989 Sports Illustrated article of the same name, talking about the relationship between sport and hyperbole, using the white leather jacket with “Don’t Believe the Hype” in gold and black across the back that Mike Tyson was fetching from Harlem’s Dapper Dan store at 4 in the morning when he ran into Mitch “Blood” Green and left him needing expensive sunglasses.

Just as the Lo-life gang’s illicit efforts popularized Polo, Hilfiger Nautica and The North Face in such a way that they altered street style forever, Dapper Dan deserves similar status — Gucci, MCM and Louis Vuitton can’t have been too pleased to see themselves bootlegged to the point where folk thought they might be making the madcap items taking pride of place on record sleeves sailing up the Billboard charts, but they created a brand loyalty and aspiration that’s made these houses a fortune. The Louboutin Swizz hookup and Kanye Vuittons are the by product of what “Dapper” Daniel Day was capitalizing on when he stayed open 24 hours for an audience of celebrities and the criminal minded back in the day.

Exclusive Game clothing are following that lineage with their gear for Jadakiss, Rick Ross and Diddy (check the custom MCM piece in the ‘Another One’ video) and anyone crying “FAKE!” might be missing the point. I only recently noticed that DJ E-Z Rock is wearing some customised Louis Vuitton monogram Air Force 1s in Janette Beckman’s 1988 photo shoot for the ‘It Takes Two’ album. Maybe I’d always been too distracted by the early Uptown sighting on an artist’s foot as well as that Dapper Dan tracksuit to pay full attention to the swoosh and heeltab. I always thought the designer fabric Air Force was a late 1990’s phenomenon, but this was Harlem style in full effect.

PHADE and the crew’s Shirt Kingz empire that ran relatively concurrent to the Dapper Dan movement with their printed sweats and tees deserves its props as part of the bigger contemporary picture now too. Mr. Paul Mittleman posted up some images of the crew’s heyday (I love the Safari sighting and some shots reiterate just how popular the Air Force II was — there’s some Assault action beyond the Fat Boys too) recently and it was clear that while the west had its own surf and skate culture for new brands to gnaw on, hip-hop’s golden age informed the east coast’s streetwear — Jamaica Coliseum Mall, where the Kingz had their retail operation apparently has a stall selling airbrushed shirts up to the present day, but PHADE, NIKE and KASHEME helped form a uniquely hip-hopcentric apparel and an industry that’s worth billions.

Shit, even the cheap artist photo tees that followed (usually incorporating a deceased artist) inspired Supreme’s teamups with Raekwon, Jim Jones and Juelz, plus the rest of those eBay-friendly releases. That lineage makes the sight of a sullen Lou Reed on a shirt even more entertaining.