Tag Archives: blu-ray

CONCRETE

concretejungle

Salutes to Charlie Morgan for putting me onto Jenkem’s post that highlighted the YouTube appearance of Concrete Jungle — a lost documentary on the link between hip-hop and skating. I’m sure I saw this on IMDB a couple of years ago and had a fruitless Google hunt film assuming that it would appear officially one day (I’m still holding out for the Harry Jumonji documentary too). But suddenly it’s online. Concrete Jungle feels like a more commercial companion piece to Deathbowl To Downtown, and where Deathbowl had Chloë Sevigny on narration duties, this one has her Kids buddy Rosario Dawson talking the viewer through proceedings.

Directed by SHUT and Zoo York co-founder Eli Morgan Gesner, and executive produced by QDIII (Quincy Jones’ son), it’s part of the lineage of straight-to-DVD releases that began with Tupac documentaries, the compelling Beef series and some genuinely insightful work like The Freshest Kids, Infamy and the Christian Hosoi bio, Rising Son. Sadly, QD3 Entertainment seemed to end in 2011, leaving Concrete Jungle in limbo. Beyond the unnecessary motion graphics and Gangland style anonymous hip-hop beats, there’s loads of good stuff in it — I would argue that more New Deal and Underworld Element talk (seeing as a mohawked Andy Howell is in it), some Menace, extra Chocolate, and Mike Carroll in conversation (who really joined the dots for me in Virtual Reality) over a little too much talk of the Muska Beatz album would have been a better move. But here’s the thing about critiquing a documentary like this — keeping everybody happy would be nigh-on impossible, and getting a dream roster of talking heads to sit and break it down would be a hellish ordeal of timings and shifting equipment from state to state. Plus the thing is supposed to appeal to the person who doesn’t know who Sal Barbier or the Fu-Schnickens are anyway.

Concrete Jungle really finds its form (and to judge a documentary’s pacing based on a rough cut would be unfair) as it approaches the mid-way point, when the early Zoo York footage appears and there’s some good information on the Tunnel’s legendary half-pipe. It’s a testament to the speed that things have evolved (see Wiz Khalifa’s recent ownage at the hands of Supreme LA’s staff) and the rise of Odd Future, Yelawolf (who can actually skate) and co, plus Weezy’s admirable but faintly doomed determination to be respected as a skater, that this documentary seems deeply dated in many ways — a good thing, because skateboarding is so multiracial and rooted in rap right now that, after just 8 years since filming wrapped on this project, its seems weird that it would be seen as anything different. In a world where Rick Ross and DJ Khaled might make a Vine appearance teetering on a skateboard in a You’ve Been Framed style tipsy dad on a Variflex one Christmas afternoon wave, things definitely done changed.

On the documentary subject, The Decline of Western Civilisation has been discussed here a lot — Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris’ trilogy is pretty much perfect, and part three is a perfect companion to Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark’s Streetwise (which I urge you to watch — especially after Mary Ellen Mark’s recent passing). Different generations of Los Angeles musicians and hard-living kids make it a set of films that are amusing and disturbing in near-equal qualities. For nigh-on 15 years, thedeclineofwesterncivilization.com has been promising a DVD release. I gave up hope, just as I abandoned the idea of Dr Jives’ webshop opening after four years of a holding page. But at the end of the month we get to watch Darby Crash and a tarantula, Black Flag before they became their own tribute band, Claude Bessy ranting, Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. disappointing his mum while floating in a swimming pool, plus this absolute bellend, in Blu-ray quality. Part III (from 1998) is a rawer affair that’s been tough to track down, but Shout! Factory and Second Sight are putting it out as a boxset. When BBC2 showed the second film in late 1989 as part of Heavy Metal Heaven, hosted by Elvira (which also included Guns ’n’ Roses Live at the Ritz, a lost Zeppelin show and a show about thrash metal), it changed my life for the better. The prospect of bonus footage alone makes my hands shake enough to spill orange juice like Ozzy.

declineofwesterncvilization

ART

What’s worse? David Guetta and Thierry “Mr. Brainwash” Guetta collaborating or the x Superdry Timothy Everest project? I can’t quite make up my mind but they’re probably pretty lucrative when it comes to tapping into the psyche of those willing to part with the beige pound and beige dollar. There’s a lot more to the world that the cool-guy realm that’s blogged so relentlessly.

Everyone’s into print these days, but not everybody’s built for it. I can’t see the value in the majority of editorials plugging product that just seem to be executed to keep paymasters who think that kind of thing matters happy with tangible proof that something is “working” but I still get a kick out of picking up a magazine that delivers something different. Standard advertorial can pale next to a well-timed Tweet, but good product is guaranteed goodwill. Recently I mapped out a plan for a publication but lost my temper over something unrelated and deleted the plan out of spite against myself. That self-sabotage was worth it though, because the contents list was tedious. Like I said, it’s not for everyone, I was very impressed by the Acid Rambler newspaper when I got a glimpse the other week and by uniting a Patagonia founder with a Beach Boy, it has a cohesion that’s only apparent to those who get the core concept — that’s some masterfully executed self-indulgence. The (sold out) Oi Polloi tie-dye tie-ins are good too. I like ‘LAW’ magazine too and #2 has just dropped.

Lives And Works magazine is the brainchild of John Joseph Holt, deceived me with its cover (I’ve developed an apathy toward £10+ fashion mags that sit artfully spaced on boutique shelves and never reach a second issue), but takes a close inspection at existing British tribes and characters rather than applying a buzzword to a non-movement. Estate agents with suedehead pasts, housing block signage, Playstation games, scooter shops, wetlook hair, newsagent workers and proprietors, plus Saturday night theme pub dwellers are in the portraits and personal accounts ‘LAW’ includes. That’s pretty much everything Danny Boyle forgot to chuck into the Olympic opening ceremony then. Come the apocalypse, when a new species of human sifts through 2012’s wreckage with their 13 fingered hands, I would hope they’d discover something like this as a document of where we were, rather than some misleading rag that makes us look like a bunch of, tech goth, Azealia Banks disciples haplessly grasping for “movements” who pretty much deserved to be eliminated. I would hope that ‘LAW’ would be cause for more compassion. John Holt’s work parallels team ISYS.TV and their love of everyday style that we seem to aimlessly aspire away from or demonise with chav allegations. ISYS are getting a spot at the Tate with NTS too and it’s a great platform for their work. Go get ‘LAW’ from Goodhood or B Store or get more information here.

Another place where print is relevant is in graffiti. You could argue that it’s the transient, fleeting nature of the artform that makes documentation so essential but it’s probably because graffiti has a tendency to attract massive geeks who like buying stuff and probably pretend that they racked it. ATG always come correct in a world where so many can profit from the legal side only and they get up in places that people can actually see from afar. Their blog also makes graffiti seem kind of fun, rather than being something dysfunctional sociopaths bang about on forums. ATG’s ‘Eye In the Sky’ book depicting some pieces with positive messages and plenty of eyes in prominent places is something different though. It goes on sale at Stolen Space after a launch tomorrow.

If there wasn’t a ‘They Live’ would we be subjected to OBEY nowadays? Was it worth it? Of course it was worth launching a tiresome street art career and streetwear for people who like Mr. Brainwash. That scene with Roddy Piper and Keith David’s battering each other in the alley way makes it all worth it. The soundtrack, that subversive subtext that can be enjoyed on a simple alien/human invasion flick level, that ending and the director/star commentary on the original DVD are all classic. It’s one of the greatest genre films ever. The impending Blu-ray release (set for November) has the kind of artwork (nice font too) that sold a VHS to me in 1988, even if the special features haven’t been announced. It’s a shame that there’s not a deluxe edition with replica truth-telling sunglasses/hater blockers, but there’s still time. You can tell a lot about a person by whether they’ve seen ‘They Live’ and how passionate they are about it. This art beats the OBEY poster from last summer’s Alamo Drafthouse screening.

TIMES SQUARE

This blog entry is approximately 27 hours late and an affront to my OCD inclinations. The real kicker is that it’s both tardy and pretty poorly thought-out too. In fact, the majority of it is given to images from an already well documented book that are — to add insult to injury — heavily watermarked too. What can I say? I slacked this week. I’m keen to get my hands on a full copy of Powerhouse’s ‘The Forty Deuce: The Times Square Photos of Bill Butterworth 1983-1984’ because it seems to be laden with strippers, pimps, b-boys and girls and plenty of other characters from the era. I grew up obsessed with b-movies from the time (as well as the classic ‘Times Square’) that depicted the area as a very scuzzy spot indeed, usually laden with offensive stereotypes of Puerto-Rican gents, complete with flick knives and bandanas and hookers berating the stray innocents who wandered into the area Butterworth depicts. Think ‘The Burning’s opening setup, ‘Fear City’ or ‘Basket Case.’ And while it looks grindhouse sketchy in Bill’s photos, there’s an evident sense of unity between crews, whether it’s sex shop workers, drag queens, dancers or anyone else who hung around there. The portraits are strong and the outfits are pretty spectacular, with plenty of posing. You know your swag is at a trillion when you can stunt in front of racks of gay porn (apologies to one-handed surfers who just found this blog through those words and were assailed with paragraphs, shoes and other geeky things) and still look gangster. That couple next to the ‘Beat Street’ (and ‘Strange Invaders’) display? Incredible. There’s plenty more information and imagery right here.

One of the few things that marred my pre-teen years as much as Belial in ‘Basket Case’ was David Lynch’s ‘The Grandmother.’ I always found that short infinitely more nightmarish than ‘Eraserhead.’ Lynch has a habit of tapping into the hallucinatory, claustrophobic essence of a nightmare situation. The car crash scene in ‘Wild At Heart’ troubles me deeply, but Robert Blake’s appearance in ‘Lost Highway’ is utterly unnerving. Blake’s real-life antics give his nameless character extra edge and the whole film remains underrated. Just as I found myself preoccupied with watching the film again, I wandered into Uniqlo and was faced with a ‘Lost Highway’ t-shirt as part of their David Lynch collection. Then I got the news that Universal are putting out pretty much every David Lynch film as a Blu-ray around June 4th. ‘Wild At Heart’ includes ‘The Grandmother’ as a special feature and I want to know what the “Four Intervalometer Experiments” that are on the ‘Lost Highway’ disc are. Even ‘Dune’ is part of the rollout. All this sudden activity around a film I hadn’t thought about for at least half a decade didn’t throw me as much as Bull Pullman talking to a man face-to-face who’s also miles away in his home, but it caught me off guard a little. Now Robert’s eyes and laugh are embedded in my mind all over again.





Retro isn’t going anywhere — right now somebody’s probably being kicked to the ground for a basketball shoe from 1997 — but the new wave is wildly on point. I’ve loved Nike’s Lunar pieces but the Undercover GYAKUSOU collection has done a good job of introducing me to shoes I wouldn’t have paid much attention too until they got some Terra-esque makeups. Zoom Structure+ 15? A serious shoe even though I hadn’t looked at Structures since the bestselling Structure II back in the early ’90’s. I loved the Lunar Elite+ but the Zoom Elite series looked like one of those ranges that was made for serious runners who’d sneer at anything aesthetically pleasing for its fanciness. Suddenly, with that transparent overlay and almost 180 style forefoot, the Zoom Elite+ 5 is a thing of beauty and this version highlights every key feature. The Terra Humara style colourway elevates these significantly and like the Structure choice, there’s a sense that Jun Takahashi isn’t hunting the hype vote with his footwear picks. Shouts to Nike UK fam for these — all I need now is a health scare to encourage me to run. All the gear, no idea is a mantra I live by.

Many blogs are either too frantic or too earnest for my tastes, but I really like The Obviously Uncommon. That’s because the man behind it, knows a lot about a lot of stuff and had a Doublegoose way before I ever did, but also because it celebrates the bargain hunter. There’s so much emphasis on matters of flossiness and conspicuous consumption, but shelling out full price or an eBay markup is a fast track to a hollow purchase. Bargains come with tales of exploration, disbelief and triumph. £25 Pendletons, wear tested Stone Island coats, Air Max Lights found in garages and 50p hats that are inexplicably big make this site my new favourite. Salutes to the enemies of RRP out there.

SKIN

Every time my commitment wavers with regards to anything, I look to the berserkers who carved Slayer onto their skin for inspiration. Unwavering in their dedication, not led by trends and keen to go one louder than a mere tee with deodorant stained pits, the lack of curves in Slayer’s logo letterforms really lend themselves to sharp objects and skin. This is what separates metal fans from the H&M bought pre-faded replica.

This blog entry has been hindered by my escalating addiction to Hypebeast’s Essentials section and the wild comments it attracts. Good to see Mr. Masta Lee from Patta in there too, repping for Lexdray, a brand that makes bags with so many pockets and secret compartments that those of us without a sense of direction are liable to get lost in their own baggage during the packing process. I want to see a book of the images by the end of the year, provided that they include the talkback remarks too. S95s, MacBooks, firearms, Goyard goods and lots of Supreme box logos have all featured, but the layout, with the rollover crosses for extra detail, is impeccable. It sates a certain hypelust for details and gives keyboard Conans something else to vent about.

I haven’t seen anybody break out an Acer netbook yet, but it’s good to see that there are still some BlackBerry users out there — can people really type as fast without keys as they could with them? The sole thing stopping me from grabbing an iPhone is the way in which it would hinder my copywriting missions on the move. Typing anything substantial on my iPad is like trying to play a concerto on the FAO Schwartz floor piano. Scale that down and I can barely tap beyond the perimeters of a text message length before tapping out entirely. RIM fell off in a major way, but the vinegar faces of concentration on my friends, once so deft on the tactile keys of their Bolds, as they try to Instagram a wacky dog they just saw with an accompanying witticism puts me off entirely.

Eureka’s Blu-ray release of Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’ is further proof of their commitment to cult, and their newly remastered edition of the film ports some US special edition details over, but also includes the near mythical TV version, shorn of all swearing (like the legendary ITV ‘Robocop’ edit) as well. It’s such a sweary and peculiar film, that it’s perplexing that anybody would think to clip its wings to the point where “Melon farmer” would work as a suitable insult (word to Charles Bronson in ‘Mr. Majestyk’ though, because he’s one bad melon farmer). Just as Criterion block us when it comes to regional limitations, this is a Europe-only release, but at least Eureka had the good grace to put up a nifty little screen when it comes to failed loads for global ‘Repo Man’ fans.



While we’re talking 1984 punk attitude, this old ‘South Bank Show’ on Malcolm McLaren as his ‘Duck Rock’ phase went classical/R&B with ‘Fans’ is worth an hour of your time. The irritated interviews with Steve Jones and the beautiful Annabella Lwin, juxtaposed with remorseless quotable from Malcolm makes it classic, plus it reminded me of just how odd his solo work was, as he sauntered from zeitgeist to zeitgeist, letting the last movement burn as he threw himself into the next big thing.



Trying to remind myself of the joys of vinyl during a central London record shop visit, a costly Red Ninja promo in Reckless had me wondering what became of the mysterious Red Ninja? He was an act who had brief cult fame at my school with the dancehall and hip-hop fans alike. Red Ninja and Kobalt 60 were part of the soundtrack to a Fila F-13 and faux Chipie era in my hometown. I had no idea that there was a Red Ninja video, with a £100 budget that had a brief outing on ‘Dance Energy.’ Raggamuffin British hip-hop with dance moves stays winning.

Oh, and shouts to SAS and the Eurogang movement for the shout out on their ‘Tiffy’ freestyle. It took me back to days amassing CDRs of Dipset mixtapes. Props to Mega for that one.

Before the new issue of Oi Polloi’s excellent Pica~Post arrives, this interview with Shinya Hasegawa of Brooklyn-made Batten Sportswear, a former Woolrich Woolen Mills man who assisted Daiki Suzuki and has Woolrich chambray curtains in his home is worth a read. He namechecks the pioneering GERRY brand, as founded by Gerry Cunningham, rucksack and tent pioneer (read more about him here). Their ’70’s ads were amazing in terms of imagery and copywriting. Several who worked for GERRY spawned their own brands, including co-founder Dale Johnson, who went on to found DIY goose-down brand, Frostline. Somebody needs to bring the art of the homemade goose-down jacket kit back.

Lifted from a 1950 ‘LIFE’ feature, this image of a tattooed human skin, removed from the body (purported to have belonged to a gangster) by Dr. Sei-ichi Fukushi and put on display is both grotesque and amazing. the work looks amazing though. Knuckles and neck pieces are everywhere now, but at that point in time, it was a truly outsider artform and a mark of commitment. This picture makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’d like to see an exhibition of Fukushi’s supposed acquisitions.

RECOMMENDED READING

My time management is weak this evening, so this is a blog update for the sake of blog updates. I had something to throw up here, but an embargo deaded that plan. There’s plenty on the internet at the moment that’s better than this blog. First up, this Wall Street Journal piece entitled ‘Made Better in Japan‘ is very good — it did the rounds the other day, but the talk of Spanish napkins at a tapas bar, baristas barred from foamers or espressos due to inexperience and Hitoshi Tsujimoto of the Real McCoy’s owning around 100 Warhols makes it amazing. My friend (and one of the reasons I have the job I have now) Mr. Chris Aylen’s Trash Filter site has an excellent interview with Futura 2000 to coincide with his ‘Expansions’ show in Paris. It feels like a well-executed sequel to the old Spine Magazine (I really, really miss that site) interviews from the early ’00s that made me want to enter this whole miserable subculture in the first place. Now it’s considered remarkable to offer up content that could be in print online, but back in 2000, Spine was doing that. I think a proliferation of cornballs (and in a preemptive answer to any “Was that aimed at me?” emails or Tweets, yes it was) dumbed things down to the point where it seemed novel to offer real writing. Salutes to Spine and props to Chris for resurrecting that style on Trash Filter.

On the Futura subject, was I the last to notice his work in Heavy D & the Boyz’ ‘Now That We Found Love’ video from 1991? I knew Lee Quinones was involved, but Ernie Paniccioli’s snapshot of Lenny with some video vixens on set and watching the video again reveals a substantial input from him too. I’m also late to the party in studying Steven Hagar’s (who wrote ‘Hip-Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music and Graffiti‘ which trounces David Toop’s revered ‘Rap Attack’ and ‘Art After Midnight‘ on the East Village art and music scenes) blog, which contains some fine hip-hop trivia. Mr. Hagar is selling both those long out-of-print tomes as ebooks for $2.99, and they’re worth your time. What’s even better, is THE ENTIRE FUCKING SCRIPT TO ‘BEAT STREET’ FROM WHEN IT WAS CALLED ‘LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT BEAT.’ That’s the script Hagar sold that was altered significantly, resulting in the much-loved but tacky cinematic rap classic. I’m assuming that might be of interest to a few of my fellow nerds out there.

I’ve let you down on the word count today. Two other things of interest are a UK Blu-ray release for Monte Hellman’s sparse and deeply influential road movie, ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ courtesy of EUREKA!s Masters of Cinema series. It isn’t as extensive on the extras as the Criterion DVD was, but it’s Blu-ray and you need to admire Warren Oates’s knitwear (my second favourite selection of Oates outfits after his inappropriately light suit for the dirty duty of severed noggin retrieval in Peckinpah’s ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’) as well as a beautiful scenery. ‘Drive’ proved that there’s still mileage in unnamed drivers — word to James Taylor. This 1970 ‘Rolling Stone’ article is another recommended read. I don’t own it, but I’m deeply jealous of anyone that recieved the (camera phone image retrieved from Soldiersystems.net) Arc’teryx LEAF V.I.P. pack at the SHOT shooting, hunting and outdoors trade show a few weeks back. Arc’teryx Moleskines look good, but the Cordura Brand fabric t-shirt, made from the same material that lines the Talos Halfshell jacket and the Arc’teryx LEAF GORE-TEX camo iPad cover are my kind of giveaways. Mr. Charles Morgan put me onto this action figure of firearms instructor Chris Costa that’s got a scaled down Arc’teryx Hyllus jacket (and an Arc’teryx hat on one variant) in addition to his other brand-name garments of choice.

FLAMING NIPPLES, COCAINE & LUXURY VEHICLES

It’s a good time to be a David Lynch fan, but even if recent works have been a little too calculatedly oddball, who’s testing ‘Blue Velvet’? The film stays unsurpassed and Lynch’s declaration earlier in the year that some footage had been unearthed for the Blu-ray was no lie — there’s 51:42 of extra material plus a new documentary too. Most deleted scenes should stay buried, but in Lynch’s world and with the predictable struggles with a major studio, it’s clear that footage will be worthy. We’re not talking piss-poor CGI Jabba the Hutt’s here — we’re talking more Pabst Blue Ribbon loving psychopath Frank “You receive a love letter from me and you’re fucked forever” Booth, including a scene where he gets crazy with a pair of flaming tits in the background. As the best advert for a remastered release ever, that scene hit the internet on Friday ahead of next week’s release for the 25th anniversary edition. The option to have the scenes randomly branched into the original film to make it triply unsettling is sadly absent, so they’re only available as a supplement. Still, that Christmas present list is really starting to come together.

I’m continually jocking Criterion for their pick of releases and artwork, the impending release of the jazzy, bone crunching , smartly suited and downright odd ‘Tokyo Drifter’ captures those curiously coloured muzzle flashes and rhythmic feel perfectly. The move from black and white to colour in ‘Tokyo Drifter’ wasn’t for the budgetary reasons that Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If’ switched between the two — apparently it was to capture Tokyo’s feel before and after the 1964 Olympics. On that note, was there ever a more cocaine-friendly, goon motivation Olympic theme tune than Paul Engemann and Giorgio Moroder’s Los Angeles 1984 theme tune, ‘Reach Out’? It sounds like the sequel to the duo’s ‘Push It To The Limit’ (the 12” extended version with the extra guitar is amazing) and was big in Germany. Now he fronts a brand that makes healthy chocolate. Sadly, he hasn’t re-recorded a version of ‘Push It To The Limit’ about cocoa solids rather than coca leaf extracts.

Speaking of coke and movie myths, it’s well worth spending some time on this UK-based temple of all things Cannon. As a child, Golan-Globus productions both delighted and disappointed me, but the lack of Dolby in favour of Ultra-Stereo was a frequent annoyance. This site even manages to play on that budget saving point of difference, but it’s the trivia here with regards to films never made (this other Cannon site mentions an unfilmed ‘Breakin 3’) like a crappy ‘Spider Man’ film from 1986, but also the mysterious ‘Investigation’ — a Paul Schrader script from 1987 that was set to be directed by Andrei Konchalovsky who directed a rare Cannon exercise in quality with the classic ‘Runaway Train’ and starring Al Pacino before a switch to Christopher Walken. Variety magazine even ran an ad with a mooted Cannes 1988 premiere. Thanks to HunterTarantino on the CHUD forums for uploading the ad. He also upped the Variety ad for the John Travolta and Rebecca De Mornay cop flick ‘Crack’ that never got made — another Golan-Globus production. ‘Crack’ was set to be directed by Stan Dragoti who nearly ended up in a German jail on a cocaine possession charge in 1979, with Travolta as a by the books cop and De Mornay as a “street savvy detective” going undercover to smash a cocaine racket. Dragotti promised, “more verisimilitude than ‘Lethal Weapon’…” but no film ever appeared. That film reeks of 1987 Hollywood thriller. HunterTarantino also upped the Variety promo for a never produced John Milius film called ‘Horseman of the Khyber’ for Carolco. I’ve seen that the poster art sold recently on eBay, but I’m struggling to find any other information about that project.

So when you’ve got that coke money, what do you spend it on? Vehicles and lavish fittings. The recent VH1’Planet Rock’ documentary on crack and the hip-hop generation was an interesting watch for that archive footage. A little Q&A with the directors recently appeared on YouTube, but it was the few minutes on the spending habits of New York hustlers at Harlem’s Dapper Dan’s (Azie would’ve almost certainly shopped there) and Alpo’s custom Gucci tire cover. There’s shots there of a jeep that’s MCM’d out inside and outside, but I only recently discovered, via MCM’s own blog, that there were official MCM motor vehicles, including a jeep with an interior festooned with the expensive leather. They also upped some old lookbook shots, including a couple living the good life, with the male partner rocking a duck booted look that’s part country gentleman and part baller. I believe this fellow got out at the right time and never got high on his own supply. There’s merit in both tricked-out vehicles.

I’m feeling Y’OH’s new site a great deal. Like those Dapper Dan days, at its best, streetwear should be about aspiration and nods to unattainable luxury — think Stussy with the linked ‘C’s or Duffer channeling Gucci and Hermes. There’s no point trying to be Supreme, because it’s already here and firing on all cylinders, while the Oxford shirt is better bought from those who specialise in that garment. I’d like to support more British brands on here, but for the most part, our homegrown streetwear simply seems too safe to the point where it’s regressive.

Shouts to Palace, Origin London, British Remains, Trapstar (their marketing savvy is no joke — those snapbacks travel far) and Y’OH. Y’OH is by far the most ambitious of the bunch by offering product that doesn’t seek marl grey anonymity, with African prints on the Kanja and Jumoke shirts that offer either a boxy fit or extra length, bold bomber jackets and even manage to make the parka look interesting despite the onset of 40/60 fatigue. Even the t-shirt (Y-Shirt) offerings are deeply unorthodox, making other cut and sew merchants look beige by comparison. Eighty percent of what Y’OH create commands attention and challenges the wearer, but since streetwear became pallid, passive and weedy, something needed to give. Branding can make or break a garment and Y’OH’s patch logo is very strong indeed, with a touch of tribalism, mountaineering and the self-assured ®.

Now you’re at the limit, what do you do? If you’re Waka Flocka Flame, you break out the ramen and put on the kettle, living up to that ‘One Squad’ line, “I’ma forever stay hood millionaire eating ramen noodles…” Where some rappers are keen to talk it up in the spirit of those late ‘80s high rollers, this Monopoly kingpin doesn’t do the Rick Ross lobster bisque for breakfast diet. Salutes to Waka for upping this tattooed fistful of Maruchan chicken ramen onto Lockerz. Ramen is a very hip-hop foodstuff with a disposable, anti-vitamin feel to match the download and delete wave of average mixtapes that dropped last week.

KUBRICK, CANINES & LEE MARVIN

I have no idea what the central idea behind this blog actually is. It’s not about clothes, music, reading matter or movies specifically, but they certainly recur. It’s just another self-indulgent outlet on the internet, hoping to snare the occasional reader with a like mind in, rather than gunning for the masses on some fancy shit. I only launched with that to fill this paragraph and because I’ve stalled twice on camera explaining what I actually do. I leave this WordPress out of it because it complicates things even more. But I do seem to dwell on films a lot more than any other subject here because most of my interests are borne from a cinematic preoccupation.

That still doesn’t mean I exercise much quality control. Out of boredom, impatience and the crappiness of my local multiplex, I’ll watch films in some really bad pirate quality. Not on the level of the ‘E.T.’ bootleg from my childhood or the unwatchable ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Die Hard II’ bootlegs brought round by excitable buddies in 1990, but I’ve sat through iPhone 2 camera quality takes on blockbusters, all tinged by the cautious periodic wobble of a fearful ‘director of photography’ who’s wary of a fine and rejection. I even watched ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ via a Megavideo link in that quality. I am a fool. But some movies deserve the pristine Blu-ray treatment or they’re pointless. ‘Barry Lyndon’ is a perfect example.

Stanley Kubrick’s second best film (behind ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but way ahead of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’), is one of the most beautifully shot motion pictures ever (John Alcott’s work is masterful), and while some have criticised Ryan O’Neal’s performance, I love his deceitful pomposity. Kubrick using NASA technology lenses to give the film a natural, old world look is a glorious paradox that sums up the master’s unorthodox mode-of-thought. Yet inexplicably, like as with Martin Scorcese’s After Hours’ on DVD in the UK, the only way to get ‘Barry Lyndon’ on Blu-ray is to fork out for a box set — in this case the ‘Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection’. Still, there’s worse things to spend your hard-earned on than seven Kubrick films and a bonus disc. If Blu-ray hadn’t happened, Stanley probably would have made something similar to display his work to his standards.

Recent talk of William Devane here – reinstated to the director’s cut of ‘Payback’ which was a remake of 1967’s ‘Point Blank’, which I was watching at work today for inspiration via the club scene with Stu Gardner’s psychedelic funk wailing — has got me thinking about the many hard-boiled novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), which depicted Parker getting up to no good. Violent, pulpy and amoral, they’ve been the source of inspiration for vengeful anti-heroes on screen ever since. Godard’s ‘Made in U.S.A’ was an unofficial remake of Stark’s ‘The Jugger’ but the opening credits and trailer are the best things about the film compared to the brutal fun of Boorman’s masterpiece, or 1973’s ‘The Outfit’. I’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s Parker comic book adaptations too. Having grown up on Howard Chaykin’s X-rated ‘Black Kiss’, I’ve long had a taste for the more uncompromising approach to noir when it comes to words and pictures.

As the fine ‘The Ivy Look’ book mentions, Lee Marvin kicks arse in ‘Point Black’ in a fine pair or Florsheim Imperials, and I recommend reading the ‘Playboy’ interview here and the ‘Esquire’ interview here to appreciate the depth of Marvin’s character. Too manly for macho posturing, his opinions on sexuality are particularly enlightening. I’ve also been browsing this Parker fansite a lot — the archive of paperback covers is incredible.






I had an epiphany recently. I don’t actually like Kenneth Anger’s films. I love them conceptually and his attitude’s fun, but I can’t help falling asleep and having bizarre visions during the ‘Majick Lantern Cycle’. Maybe that’s the point. I prefer Kenneth on paper I love his made-up ‘Hollywood Babylon’ books and I’d been looking for a copy of Alice L. Hutchison’s book from 2004 – a definitive text on Anger — for a while, and while trying to get a status update on the oft-delayed ‘Italo Disco — A Secret History of Modern Pop’ from Black Dog Publishing, I noticed that they’re reprinting the Anger book in September too. That should dead some of those hefty Amazon Marketplace prices.

Most mornings I’m woken by a spaniel. The dangly eared buffoon doesn’t care for the sanctimony of sleep and seems to become odder and more immature as the months pass. I’ve long wanted to understand what goes on in its head- I always imagined it was a cover of Hot Butter’s ‘Popcorn’ played using the dog bark effect on a crappy keyboard played perennially until bedtime, but it turns out that it might be more complex than that. I just started reading John Bradshaw’s scholarly ‘In Defence of the Dog’ that talks about the complexities of the canine, their modes of communication and their evolution. It turns out that we’ve been underestimating them a lot. Bradshaw never mentions their love of snapbacks, but I’m still besotted with the Chimp team‘s lookbook for caps. Everyone else should just give up. This shoot (shouts to the Bedfords, Joseph Dawson, Jonathan Paine and Snowy and Bailey) is just perfect to me. Dogs in hats stays classic.

I hate everyman rap. It’s even cornier than the fantastical duck tales that the platinum spitters peddle, but Stalley seems to strike a balance between keeping it real and just being aspirationally cool, calm and collected. He has the Maybach co-sign, but the packaging for ‘Lincoln Way Heights’ (the David Chang art makes it worth grabbing as a physical copy) and videos dropping from it have been tremendous. ‘Pound’ is classic — icily lyrical but deep in the production stakes courtesy of Rashad. The video’s crystal clear clarity of elevator journeys, the artist and lo-fi snippets of real-life panic and ‘Gummo’ gives budgetary limitations the finger. It manifests the Stalley sound. The homie Nick Schonberger is at least 25% cooler in my eyes for knowing this Ohio legend-in-the-making.

1977’S ALTERNATIVE ICONS

Back when this blog was on SlamXHype, I upped a piece about my favourite outfits from Paul Schrader films. It was shit. It’s on here somewhere, but it’s weak. I can’t believe I fucked up and made a half-arsed blog post. My excuse? I was probably tired and it was during my ill-fated blog every two days period. Yeah, I know that you love Steve McQueen (I wrote a tribute to him during that shitty period, pertaining to his appearance in ‘The Hunter’ — bad film, good outfit), but yo, nobody cares about his Persols and Rolex any more. You Tumblr’d it irrelevant. If I could be any film icon, I’d be William Devane in John Flynn and Paul Schrader’s 1977 oddity, ‘Rolling Thunder.’ The fact he’s only got one-arm (ruined by a garbage disposal) doesn’t hinder my aspirations one bit. While the excellent VBS ‘Tattoo Age’ documentary on Smith Street Tattoo was a treat today, the death of Tracy Underwood of Phunky Phat Graphics killed my vibe. So I broke out ‘Rolling Thunder’ and watched the violent bits again.

The shotgun sawing, sunglass wearing killing machine’s detached presence makes for a deliberately joyless cinematic experience – the anti ‘Death Wish’ in which neither Devane or Tommy Lee Jones’s (“I’m going to kill a bunch of people.”) characters are particularly happy post-shootout. And what a shootout it is, matching ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’s bloodshed or the caesarian section bullet-blasting in ‘Way of the Gun.’ Whereas William Lustig’s trashier ‘Vigilante’ — shot five years later —  is gleeful in Robert Forster and Fred Williamson’s dispatch of the bad ‘uns, Schrader never wants to make any of his character studies feel good. I love ‘Rolling Thunder’ and recommend that you watch it as soon as possible. I wish the Major Charles Rane look would catch on and the blind copyists would cut off their naval tattoo speckled right forearms to be more like ‘Rolling Thunder’s main character. It’s good to hear that ‘Rolling Thunder’s long-delayed UK Blu-ray release is set for September.

That Japanese poster might actually be the single greatest movie poster ever created. While I can spend a lot of time on the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I heartily recommend Museum of Cinema (where I pilfered that black and white shot of Devane) and the Grindhouse Database for more information on proper films.

If I was Charles Rane, I wouldn’t settle for the kind of pussy vehicles that McQueen favoured. I’d want to cruise around in the Landmaster from another 1977 flick, albeit a significantly crappier one — ‘Damnation Alley.’ A post-apocalyptic film with George Peppard and Jan Michael-Vincent should have been awesome, but what’s mind-boggling about this film was how lo-fi it looks for something that was aimed at a mass audience. This wasn’t a low budget film, but it’s as if the entire budget was poured into making the car that the crew drive about in. That’s it – the sole good thing about ‘Damnation Alley.’ It was released on Blu-ray after years of fuzzy video purgatory, and that’s only good to ogle the Landmaster — a functioning and and water $350,000 12-wheel creation that was made by pin-stripe and custom car legend Dean Jeffries. There’s a pleasantly obsessive page about it here. Charles Rane in the Landmaster would probably be the most badass thing on earth.

I’m pretty bored of writing stuff at the moment, because I sense we’ve all gone full-circle in just half a decade, but it’s fun working on releases for Mr. Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders’s British Remains line. There’s something about seeing your text in typewritten form that’s eerie in a ’70s Mountbatten getting blasted to fuck, Peter Sutcliffe report kind of way. Yet that’s a pleasant antidote to easily copy-pasted paragraphs. I need to interview Andrew on some cinematic and musical matters for this blog at some time. He knows an awful lot.


APOCALYPSE THEN & NOW

I spent most of this weekend watching ‘Apocalypse Now’ on Blu-ray at the expense of a social life. It was worth it. In the UK, we’re frequently denied the good stuff on the Coppola side — what happened to a DVD of ‘The Outsiders’ (my favourite film ever)? In the US they’ve had the original film on a bare-bones DVD for over a decade, and a special edition for five years. We never seemed to get ‘Hearts of Darkness’ on DVD either. Then Optimum films took pity on us and gave us the entire ‘Full Disclosure’ 3-disc edition smartly repackaged, at a cheap RRP and they’re bringing out a Blu-ray of ‘The Outsiders’ on the 12th of September, 2011. I grew up with ‘Apocalypse Now’ but I overindulged.

As a small child I re-read the ‘Mad’ parody at my uncle’s house again and again, and was surprised that it bore little resemblance to the film when I got round to watching it – I was emotionally unequipped to appreciate the down-river journey, and I just liked the explosions and mirror punching. As a jumped-up teenager, I saw the parallels between Conrad’s text and the film.

‘Hearts of Darkness’ hipped me to the mythical plantation scene, just as various ‘The Exorcist’ documentaries told me about the ‘Spiderwalk’. Both excised scenes are effective, but I could live without them, but their eventual inclusion was appreciated. I love the idea that Coppola ditched the plantation because out of a temper tantrum in that relentless humidity above anything else — it obviously incorporated plenty of work but it was written out entirely, and that documentary does a fine job of showing just how much the trade and national press was quietly willing the film to fail, and the ruffled-looking Francis looks downright shell-shocked during the premiere scene at the end.

I loved ‘Apocalypse Now: Redux’ – restorations like the surfboard stealing and eerie Playboy prostitution for fuel makes for a deeper film, but what was startling was how elaborate some of the excised scenes were — they weren’t bland indoor excesses of dialogue, but vast set pieces. Coppola had evidently edited with extreme prejudice in the late 1970s. It wasn’t a Lucas-esque return-to-it-to-ruin-it affair, but something that felt like unfinished business.

As a barely related digression, FHM magazine had a ‘What’s Wrong With FHM?’ section years ago, where you could submit an error you’d spotted and win £20. I once read Phil Oakey in there saying that he had a real obsession with ‘Apocalypse Now’ in 1975, wrote in to point out that Phil was lying and got the money, which paid for a week’s food in those self-inflicted starving writer times. Alongside some kind of Q&A I had with ‘Front’ which I can barely recall, it’s one of two times a friend has seen my name in print and mentioned it to me. As a big Human League fan, I then felt remorse — envisioning someone showing Phil my smug little letter, and Phil calling me a “sad twat” beneath his breath.

Then I took it too far – I got my hands on the work print that ran at around five hours. Ponderous, bad quality, occasionally intelligible (Brando’s turn beneath extra fuzz was intolerable), it added layers of flab to the film in the two hours of unnecessary extras over the director’s cut. Out of some curious filmgoer’s duty I spent half the daytime watching it, occasionally drifting into a sleep that would be disturbed by a murky napalm blast. That put me off ‘Apocalype Now’ for a couple of years.

The sole exciting addition beyond ‘Redux’ — other than how much more of a dick Willard is in this version — was the resolution of the mystery of where Dennis Hopper’s Photojournalist went after Kurtz lost it with him and what happened to Scott Glenn’s Lieutenant Colby – a great actor left mute in previous versions – Colby shot the Photojournalist dead during his escape and Colby was killed by Willard’s special forces knife. It’s a sloppy scene in terms of editing and effects in its uncooked state — evoking that point in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ when the director feels he doesn’t know how to end the film once he’s at Kurtz’s compound — but it’s one of the meatiest deleted scenes in a long time. It even puts that excellent uncut Drexl hotel drug deal on the ‘True Romance’ DVD in the shade.

The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes that scene (plus the monkeys on a boat, with the tribal Doors cover) on a disc in a complete carry-over of the ‘Full Disclosure’ DVD set, but it’s the quality of the Blu-ray transfer for both official versions of the film that finally put bad memories of that muggy afternoon squinting at that screen away for good. Given the film’s lack of opening or end credits, it’s nice to get a copy of Coppola’s theatre-style programme for the film too — that theatrical idea echoes throughout his later films, whether it’s ‘Rumble Fish’s stagey feel or ‘Tetro’s operatic, overblown finale. And yes, I have to concede it — ‘Hearts of Darkness’ is an even better behind-the-scenes supplement than ‘If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It: The Making of ‘Predator’. I love ‘Apocalypse Now’ all over again.





I also revisited Michael Gross’s ‘Genuine Authentic’ again in light of recent movements with the Ralph Lauren brands. For those who don’t know – the book was meant to be an authorised biography of Lauren, but Gross’s insistence on revealing a mid 1990’s indiscretion put the two at loggerheads, and the outcome certainly feels significantly cattier throughout as a result. But if you can get beyond the notion of Lauren as a narcissist (and I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t), the idea that he’s playing at high society, despite his humble origins, or the cowboy stuff as a grown-up form of playing fancy dress – which was always evident – then the book still aids in appreciation of what Ralph built.

‘Genuine Authentic’ indicates that Polo Sport was the brand’s reaction to Hilfiger and the “urban” dollar it chased (and the use of Tyson Beckford as the brand’s face was a shrewd one), but it’s denim that’s depicted as Ralph’s white whale and the thing he pursues to perfect, but constantly fails with – RRL is periodically lampooned as one of Ralph’s whims. As the book ends, on mentioning the RRL store opening in Soho in late 2000, “Vintage jeans can run into the thousands — and some of the salespeople in the store, who collect rare jeans themselves, will tell you why. They have the time. The store is often empty.”

I wonder if a revision would include the RRL line’s ascent in recent years? Still, like the excellent ‘Swoosh’, despite an agenda (‘Swoosh’ was partly penned by J.B. Strasser, the widow of Rob Strasser who helped Nike conquer with his marketing genius), it’s an absorbing read that’s unsullied by any official company line.

‘PORT’ #2 is pretty good. Even if the promo video talk of a revolution on paper never fully materialised, it reads like a faintly more accessible ‘Monocle’ (it’s all about the briefings these days) and the features on Harry Gasner and David Remnick are excellent. Martin Amis on teen hitmen in Columbia is an alarming read, but the Remnick piece justifiably takes cover space — if you’ve ever had a tight editing deadline on anything and felt that pressure, consider the content that Remnick and the ‘New Yorker’ crew have to put out weekly to the terrifyingly thorough standards that the likes of E.B. White laid down all those years ago. If a great writer like Remnick claims he feels like a “pretender” in his role there, then how fraudulent are the majority elsewhere, pumping out ad-led crap on a bi monthly or quarterly basis?

This week I had to buy another grown-up watch, because I’m too old for digital. But no Rolex or Omega can compete with my love for the Three 6 Mafia ALIFE G-Shock that my friend, Mr. BJ Betts got me a few years back. I’m way too old to be wearing this, but it reminds me of a happier time, plus my fondness for the music of Juicy J and Three 6 — who I think get better and better — in the present day. This must be one of the most lazy/restrained collaborations ever – for all the skull tees and lean consumption, they just put ‘666’ on the strap and ‘MAFIA EDITION’ down the sides. I kind of respect that, but I hate the fact I’m ancient and can’t wear this stuff any more. Having said that, age won’t stop me from enjoying that new Gunplay mixtape.

‘Crack & Shine International’ looks very smart in the flesh. Shouts to Topsafe for this one. The silver on black reminds me of the ‘Unexplained’ book of mysteries I grew up with that left me emotionally scarred for life with an array of pictures of spontaneous combustion victims and ghosts in churches. Of course, this is a graffiti book rather than a ghost book, but I hope it affects a generation of potential weirdos in the same way.

THE OTHER SANTA

It’s no fun being a Dario Argento or Alejandro Jodorowsky fan. Take Dario as an example—when the Italian film industry was in full swing and when Fox stumped up some cash, he produced stunning visuals. You don’t watch an Argento film for the acting or plot. Without the financial support you get budget dreck like ‘Mother of Tears’ and ‘Giallo.’ Watching ‘Inferno’ in Blu-ray drove that point home.

While the Argento fan has to traverse various cuts and versions of their favourite films for full satisfaction, they’re spoon-fed compared to Jodorowsky’s disciples. Another master stylist, Alejandro’s films—past and future—have been mired in nonsense. This is a filmmaker who offers tantalising visions but then lets the fans down (rarely intentionally) with the regularity of a deadbeat dad. The argument with Allen Klein (over a proposed remake of ‘The Story of O’) left ‘El Topo’ and ‘The Holy Mountain’ in bootleg purgatory until their official release in 2007.

While ‘El Topo’ remains readily available, the Tartan edition of ‘The Holy Mountain’ has been deleted, fetching unholy prices on eBay and Amazon, as is the box set from the same year. Then the cheap but excellent Anchor Bay DVD of 1989’s ‘Santa Sangre’ was pulled around a year later. We fans weren’t mad though, because while ‘The Sons of El Topo’ never got beyond pitch and pre-production stage in 1996, he had a gangster film called ‘King Shot,’ co-produced by David Lynch set for a 2010 release…until Jodorowsky revealed that it was shitcanned due to funding issues in late 2009. Like I said, it’s no fun being a Jodorowsky fan, yet we all know that despite the infrequency of his films—often down to his lack of compromise—there’s a potential classic locked in sketchpads and notebooks.

I’ve never been a fan of 1990’s ‘the Rainbow Thief,’ but it’s still more interesting than many subsequent films and Tarsem’s ‘The Fall’ may have been Jodorowsky-lite, but had it been more commercially successful, it could have jump-started new Jodorowsky projects. The great man’s actually a prolific Twitterer (albeit in Spanish) and he’s claiming that ‘CainAbel’ —a film using elements of the ‘Sons of El Topo’ screenplay—is going to happen. I’ll believe it when I see a trailer.

I’m all about this forced tattoo design, with shades of Dipset from ‘Santa Sangre’

Something more set in stone is that ‘Santa Sangre’ comes to DVD again and debuts on Blu-ray this month. Just in case you’ve never seen it, this is the best Jodorowsky film. Accept no arguments to the contrary. The screenplay by Alejandro, Roberto Leoni and Dario’s brother Claudio Argento adds some meat to the gristle and screeching bloodshed of the film. It’s visually flawless, innovative and utterly unsettling. I was captivated by a 1990 review in the long-defunct ‘Fear’ magazine which dwelled on the style and violence throughout, and it’s a frequently imitated work that’s willfully peculiar yet still retains a linear narrative to complement the set pieces forcefully tattooed on my psyche.

On Blu-ray it should be the definitive presentation of the film, and the promise of a 1990 British documentary on the director, a brand-new 90 minute documentary on the film’s production and a feature on Cárdenas Hernández—a serial killer and big influence on the film, after Alejandro apparently bumped into him back in the day—is tantalising.

There’s plenty of unofficial and official releases from over the year and given the film’s hard-to-classify content, I’ve lost a few to lending, solely because a verbalised synposis might put me into an asylum, so this release is a New Year’s blessing…over the years its been interesting to see how distributors (both legal and illegal) depicted the mania within on disc and tape artwork. The latest gives the bare minimum away—taking  it back to the original US VHS cover, but other examples have dwelled on the lunacy. Track this film down.