I’m late with the updates because I’ve exiled myself to NYC for a week as penance for running an online store into the ground. Actually, I’m here on a holiday. That means I’m not keeping my eyes open for product or any releases, but a few things caught my eye. Will Robson-Scott is one of my favourite photographers and filmmakers — he’s technically great, but he’s curious when it comes to exploring the harder side of life too — I think that fearlessness when it comes to his personal projects sets him apart from the rest. The In Dogs We Trust series was created in partnership with Ollie Grove and explores human relationships with our canine buddies (which is beautifully depicted in Will’s John and George), the age-old belief that they look like their owners. Shot across several cities — from London to LA – it’s being published by Victory Editions this March as an edition of 500. I’m hoping it’ll be kicking off with a gallery show of pooches and their human buddies. This is everything I want in a book and there’s more information here.
The most amusing stories around signature shoes like the Air Jordan don’t come via the people who wore them and want to remind us, in tiresome fashion, how they saved/begged/skated a pair…whatever. Who cares? Every thirtysomething has a Jordan shoe story of one kind of another, even if they hated them. No. the best stuff comes from the behind-the-scenes hustles, and Sonny Vaccaro (who was meant to be played by James Gandolfini in an HBO film that never got produced) was at the heart of getting kids signed by any means necessary. The sports marketeer who pioneered a new breed of shoe promotions that made the canvas and rubber wheeler-dealing of old seem ultra-archaic is getting an ESPN 30 for 30 that’s full-length, but broken into online only chapters for a digital debut. Sole Man premieres on April 6th via Grantland and the Jordan Effect episode about the 1984 Nike deal promises, “…a Hollywood story that features secret phone calls, a six-figure check, a mansion in Oregon, and a plate of ribs at a Tony Roma’s restaurant in Santa Monica.”
Finding out the inside story of how LeBron ended up at Nike over adidas (beyond the monetary one-upmanship) should be interesting too. This talk at Duke from a few years back is a good Vaccaro primer before Sole Man screens.
Did ESPN just give me an excuse to fill a blog post up with Nike Air Trainer images via last night’s ‘You Don’t Know Bo’ documentary? It sure looks that way. One of those ad-heavy ones that content hungry bloggers who credit the source super small at the very bottom seem to like? Okay. I wish I was in NYC for the AF1 festivities, but once again, an Air Force anniversary party has passed me by. Maybe I’ll be there for the 35th birthday of the shoe to commemorate some remix of it in one way or another if a hip replacement and advancing age doesn’t hinder my visit.
The hip replacement talk is a nice seque into the Bo film talk too — while Saturday’s 30 for 30 offering was more of a celebration of the Jackson era than a character portrait like last season’s excellent and occasionally disturbing ‘Unguarded’ piece on Chris Herren, it still represented the fabled subject matter in an entertaining, honest way. After all, with a lack of steroids or philandering, the only thing you can talk about with Bo is — as one talking head explains — the man’s aptitude to make remarkable feats look easy. From the apocryphal tales or a young Vincent Jackson dunking a stick in eighth grade, leaping a 40 foot ditch and an unmatched crab apple throwing aptitude that could send the airborne fruit through a screen door, to the triple jump, high jump and pole vault feats in high school to Steinbrenner’s Yankees scout seeing Bo collapse a batting tent during an impromptu trial, his early days were represented by animations from my friends at Doubleday & Cartwright (when was the last time you saw a cartoon of a boy dunking a stick?) in Mickey Dusyj’s unique style.
Little stories, like neighbors visiting to gaze at a phone just because a famed coach called it nailed the community nature of the poor community from which the great man emerged, but the parallels with the apple hurling, the distance hits that got him pro baseball career, that throw and a candid demonstration of Bo’s knack with the ‘bow at the film’s finale bring structure to a tale of a man who subverted sport just by doing his own thing. Playing in the NFL as an off-season hobby? That’s not normal. Excelling there and redefining the running back position? Sonning Brian Bosworth at the height of his tough guy schtick (‘Stone Cold’ is still classic though)? Okay then. Every now an again, somebody excels to the point where I have no other choice but to pay attention and it’s usually by making the superhuman look easy — I’m not interested in the nuances and the things that sports connoisseurs notice because I have no athletic ability or casual game experience that would allow me to gauge the difficulty. As a result, I want people to play like it looks in the movies or do some really, really bad stuff in their spare time. Bo did the former and for once, we Brits knew the name of a baseball player.
It was ‘BO KNOWS’ that put me onto Bo though. The Air Trainers and the cheaper non-Air variants, plus that W+K engineered Futura bold sloganeering and it was, for an Air Trainer nerd like me, good to see some sketches and moodboards for the 89-91 Bo-endorsed SC offerings on display in the film, as well as a Tinker Hatfield appearance. There were even some OG Air Trainer pre-Bo sketches shown that indicated the line was a riposte to arch rivals Reebok and their Workout concept (look at those white shoes) and even included a loafer. Strangely, it’s constantly reinforced throughout ‘You Don’t Know Bo’ that — bar the painstaking post-hip replacement rehabilitation — Jackson didn’t actually train, despite being the poster boy of the whole Nike Cross Training category. It’s more of the man’s innate knack for contradicting popular performance wisdom, but that versatility and the snappy nickname still made his involvement extremely relevant. He even got his own video to accompany the ‘Bo Knows Bo’ autobiography as part of the newly created Nike Sports Entertainment line with Fox.
It was also good to see that director Michael Bonfiglio also managed to include the pop cultural Bo moments beyond the fields and footwear, with talk of the infamous Tecmo Bowl advantage and his role in the ‘Pro Stars’ cartoon, where his destruction of evil practitioners of illegal deforestation by wielding an entire tree didn’t seem as over the top as some of his real life antics, like the bat snapping acts of exasperation what spawned thousands of bruising failed imitations. Culminating with Jackson contently carving arrows for his hunting habit in his “man cave” where a bull’s head resides next to an MCM holdall, the what could have been nature of the man’s career after that premature retirement at 28 doesn’t feel like a tragedy, because the dual career, the achievements and the fact he did it his way is something too otherworldly to mourn — the world just needed a reminder as to what Bo knew, and ESPN provided a perfect refresher.
Remember when David Mills’ (RIP) ‘Kingpin’ promised great things, as the ‘Corner’ and ‘Homicide’ man turned his hand to a mini-series about a drug cartel? Remember what a crushing let down it was, squashed by non-HBO residence? That’s because the real thing is more remarkable than any fiction. Theme parks, pet hippos, discotheques inside prisons, ostentatiousness redefined and wars declared on countries of residence? Yayo money can, as ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ (directed by Billy Corben who made previous ESPN ’30 for 30′ highlight ‘The U’) attested, make people do crazy things. Cartels had a hand in Columbia’s football leagues and national side, with major money changing hands. A documentary about the Andrés Escobar’s 1994 slaying ran on Channel 4 during their ‘Gangsters’ season a few years back, but there was still more to the story. The History Channel’s ‘Killing Pablo’ had me fascinated all over again. As did the Vice article and VBS feature with those downright creepy images of Pablo’s family get-togethers.
Taken from Viceland’s ‘Memories of Medellin’ feature—Pablo’s ‘Three Musketeers’
But the ESPN 30 for 30 presentation, ‘The Two Escobars’ is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Depressing, gruesome, and shorn of any Corben docu-sheen, it dispels a few myths yet adds to the tragedy of Andrés’s death. Directed by the brothers Zimbalist, Jeff and Michael, it screened earlier last week, and if you’ve watched the film-makers’ ‘Favela Rising’ you know you’re in for a treat. My fellow documentary-heads, especially those with a penchant for the macabre, will go crazy for it. It’s comprehensive but gripping and necessarily grim without being alienating. Plus there’s some suits to make Chopper City envy, big-haired flamboyant football (that scorpion kick save on an offside ball makes an appearance) and one of the best portrayals of a country shattered by corruption on a scale that’s difficult to convey with cameras alone. Best documentary on 2010? Pretty much, and ’30 for 30’s unleashed plenty of sporting competition. The upcoming Tim Richmond one could prove interesting too.
I detest having to use the term soccer over football, but add a “narco” prefix and I’m a little happier to throw it around.
Reading about Joaquín Guzmán when he made ‘Forbes’ last winter, and with the recent Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke drama, it’s clear there’s a few more stories to be told in documentary format over the next few months. Drug lords make good TV.
The best bit? What seems to be an official ESPN account just upped ‘The Two Escobars’ in its entirety on YouTube. Enjoy. It’ll linger in your mind long after viewing.
Too much copywriting and staggered website relaunches has stomped out any semblance of cohesion between the topics included in this post. They were all worthy of inclusion so they got included. It’s not even another one of those top 10 blogs you drop when you’re running low on ideas, but can cobble 10 minor things together – it’s even more tenuous than that. Still, it’s sunday, and sunday is a blog day, so something’s got to go up. So today it’s Tyson, Morrissey, undershirts, Neneh Cherry, carphones, Larry Holmes, more t-shirts and dear old Malcolm Mclaren.What links them all? Nothing. They’re going up regardless.
Since the homie Waz mentioned that ESPN is killing it with the 30 For 30 season of documentaries (‘The U’ is particularly outstanding), HBO’s hyped new offerings have had to lean back in the download schedule. One of the best pieces of commissioning, and with Levi’s helping bankroll the project, one of the most credible pieces of sponsorship, it’s absorbed the weekend. Reggie trash talking against the Knicks, yayo killing hoop dreams, Iverson’s divisive jail time, bands without teams, defunct leagues with the trump money….fascinating. Being late to the TV party again, the ‘Mohammad and Larry’ film, built around a scrapped documentation of the 1980 bout from Albert Maysles who brought us ‘Gimme Shelter’ ‘Grey Gardens’ and ‘Salesman’ is the anti ‘When We Were Kings’ and an absolute classic. The footage of the perennially underrated, and oft-media unfriendly Larry Holmes in a cheerier mood giving his wife a heads-up about the impending camera crew with a bulky carphone setup is worth your time.
But that was broadcast in October – what’s on the horizon? Reggie Rock Bythewood’s ‘One Night In Vegas’, charting the events of September 7th 1996 as Tyson took on Bruce Seldon, and 2Pac met his maker. While any personal interest in ‘Pac’s output took a swan dive at the bloated ‘All Eyez On Me’ his story and Mike associations are interesting. From a glut of straight-to-disc 2Pac cash in films none stood out bar the big budget ‘2Pac Resurrection’ and there’s been too few solid Tyson documentaries bar Toback’s masterpiece. The fact that Reggie directed the deeply shitty ‘Biker Boyz’ might create some skepticism, but hopefully production yielded some new footage of Shakur and Tyson in swagger mode.
The other personal fixation at the moment is undershirts. Jean Touitou had folks looking at dirt cheap JC Penney chambrays with excitement after singing their praises, but can we also spare a little time for their Stafford line of undershirts? As a freak who can’t wear a shirt without a shirt beneath it, they’re a necessity. Non-transparent, some Stafford pieces like the Performance line are the Hanes Beefy-T of concealed white garments, while the mid-weights are a little better for the summer. This site goes deep. Waaaaaaaaay deeper than anything here. Just check out those undershirt reviews.
On the tee topic, Malcolm Mclaren’s son Joe Corré’s Humanade initiative unleashed the ultimate Malcolm tribute garment. If you ever watched Mclaren’s fly posting show tune moment in ‘The Great Rock N Roll Swindle’ and wanted the shirt he flashes at the very end, it’s been put out to raise money for human rights issues. Seeing as the great man’s final words were reputedly in support of the incarcerated Leonard Peltier and his questionable treatment at trial, and that’s where some proceeds are heading, it makes even more sense.
Can we just have a few extra seconds to pay homage to Annabelle Lwin? She still looks beautiful, but that 1983 look could work in the present day, now even the most corporate artistes are play-acting the whole avant-garde steelo.
if Pete Waterman’s Diamond D affiliations (ask your mum) didn’t earmark him as a curious culture straddling mogul, how about his involvement with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the team behind Buffalo pop duo Morgan McVey? That links him to DJ Milo and, as the interview in the new i-D attests, Shin from Neighborhood was involved during their Japanese tour. 1986’s ‘Looking Good Diving’ (covered by Nick Kamen in 1990) is notable despite being a bit Scritti Politti light, for putting another childhood crush (alongside Annabelle), Neneh Cherry, in the video. It didn’t stop there, someone called in the Wild Bunch to drop a remix – ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ with Neneh (who married Cameron McVey) dropping some verses that are eerily similar to 1988’s ‘Buffalo Stance’ – it actually appears that SAW were behind much of that record’s DNA with all credit going to Tim Simenon. ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ is pretty crappy, but here’s a minute of it anyway…
After mentioning Tim Simenon, it’s worth mentioning that Sony have upped a good quality version of James Lebon’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ – full of Stussy tribalism, Jordan IIIs, shoe shots and Fila. Truly aspirational material for a smalltown 10 year old.
For no reason other than because it’s a great video, this Morrissey promo’s getting upped here too. Stephen and his boys do the whole vintage look better than you right here, filmed back in 1992, even if his output now is as mediocre as it was in 1997 prior to a hefty hiatus.