Tag Archives: heaven’s gate



Haven’t got too much to say right now, but you should definitely check out the DAZED piece on Jungle style to preempt the 4OD documentary in a couple of hours — that there was 22 minutes of a major TV channel dedicated to Britain’s hardcore scene last week was a minor miracle and my expectations are sky-high for this instalment. This YouTube video of a very interesting conversation with the mighty “Rock ‘n Roll anthropologist,” Penelope Spheeris (director of Wayne’s World) from the other week might be relevant to a handful of visitors here who agree with me that Suburbia and The Boys Next Door are classics and that these are two of the best parts of any documentaries ever. Her life story is remarkable.

I wrote a little piece for Stüssy Biannual #3 on the mighty PHADE of the Shirt Kings. I know that it’s the done thing to misuse the term ‘humbling’ in these situations (it wasn’t), but it was a real honour to be involved because I grew up staring at album covers with PHADE and co’s work on the sleeves in one way or another (word to Kid Capri) and wishing that I could own a Stüssy t-shirt. The thirteen year old me would probably spontaneously combust at the prospect of being able to merge the two things and it’s important to keep that in mind. T-shirts that reference sport footwear are mostly terrible, giving wearers over the age of 20 that Robin Williams Jack manchild steez (watch for those black/red Air Jordan Is though), but Frank the Butcher put me onto Chicago brand KSSK‘s Heaven’s Gate Nike Decade tee (was this the first blog to ever talk about that shoe/mass shoeicide via Ghettrocentricity’s oracle-like shoe knowledge? I think it was), with some old style copywriting that makes it the best cultural reference to trainers on a shirt that I’ve seen in a long, long time. Salutes to KSSK for that one.




I made it. I’m officially a menswear blog. Shouts to Complex for spotlighting my nonsense though. It’s a highlight of this week, like finding out that Michael Cimino came up with the story for Heaven’s Gate while, “…researching the history of barbed wire in the West” (cattle barons used barbed wire to block off grazing land, but settlers cut it in retaliation), or R Kelly’s ‘Soulacoaster’ revealing that Kells watches ‘Avatar’ frequently (Aziz Ansari wasn’t too far off the mark), hits up McDonald’s for a coffee with 6-sugars when he’s feeling sad and had rose petals dropped from a helicopter as a romantic gesture (in fact, the WSHH of Kelly singing an unruly member out the crowd is proof that he may be the most interesting person to walk the earth).

It’s easy to sit from a distance and fetishise the gun posing and scowls of LA gang photography, but hard living makes for great portraits. While all eyes were on South Central, the ‘Rolling Stone’ piece on V-13 in Venice Beach’s Oakwood area from early 1988 (‘Death in Venice’) had some of the best photography I’d ever seen back when I was 10 years old. To accompany the story by Mike Sager (one of the greatest journalists ever), Merrick Morton’s black and white snapshots looked like the coolest thing ever — needles, hand ink (back when tattoos on your hand were a sign you probably weren’t to be messed with, unlike hand tattoos in 2012, which are pretty fucking menswear) and weapons. 24 years later, they seem futile and grim, underpinned by the assumption that everyone in them’s probably dead by now. This was reality, but Merrick Morton also acted as a still photographer for ‘Colors’ and ‘Blood In, Blood Out.’ Everyone loves the fancy cars, the fully buttoned Pendletons, the hand gestures and the locs, but take them to the barrio and they’d stain their Dickies. Strange to think how gentrified the area got in the decades that followed, even though gangs remained operational.

‘Pretty Sweet’s Gino quotient, all the Supreme AF1 hype this year and Julien at Nike reminded me of the perfect supplement to the skating in Timberland piece I upped here a few years ago. Skating in wheat workboots is defiantly anti-boardfeel, but Gino Iannucci rocking canvas AF1 Mids in his 1996 ‘Big Brother’ interview (around the time ‘Trilogy’ was released) photos is classic. I actually meant to make this a whole blog entry about skating in Uptowns, but I stumbled and flopped. I still love the quintessentially east coast act of deliberately handicapping yourself in an act of one-upmanship to prove you can.


I don’t know why I keep returning to ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ Maybe it’s for the same reasons that I keep trying to get dig away at ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ with it’s spine cracked to just 10% of the book’s content — I want to know what I’m missing. I’m not talking about the cult of characters who topped themselves in black and white Nike Decades, but Michael Cimino’s ponderous ani-western, which fired my imagination as a kid by featuring a manic Christopher Walken, Tom Noonan, Brad Dourif, Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke and a nude Isabelle Huppert. Alas, the pauses, the pacing of the first half and the frequent misuse of its spectacular cast means I’ve never managed to finish watching ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ I concentrate too hard and get confused, I get restless, I answer the phone, I end up daydreaming that I’m watching ‘Con Air.’ I got so close — 20 minutes from the end of the 149 minute cut, but after pausing it to answer the door to a Domino’s I realised that I just didn’t want to go back — I didn’t care about Kris Kristofferson’s hero or Sam Waterston’s villain. That 20 minutes could be spent watching a ‘Seinfeld’ episode again

Somebody told me that I’m a fool, a spoon fed moron, who doesn’t understand the nuances of Cimono’s work, but I’m convinced that this film could be distilled into an engaging 100 minutes. I still can’t co-sign the animal cruelty like the supposedly “real” horse with dynamite sequence — if you’re going to die for a film, I’d sooner be the bull in ‘Apocalypse Now’ or the cow in ‘Come and See.’ Being sacrificed for a film that recouped $3 million on a $44 million budget is the final insult. I still haven’t made my mind up about this film. What am I missing? Why did Jerry Harvey make the extra effort to screen the longer version on the Z Channel? There must be something in this abomination that creates these rabid fans who think the film flies by. The Johnson County War is a significant moment in American history, but it isn’t the stuff of gripping cinema — rather it seems to have been something that’s touched on in more entertaining books, TV shows and films as part of a snappier narrative — and the director slows it to a molasses crawl that I can’t quite wade through.

I’m going to return for more when the real director’s cut (the 219 minute version was a rush job) that’s been trimmed to 216 minutes is released by Criterion this November. Maybe that 3 missing minutes is the key to unlocking this mess. Maybe I’m just a glutton for cinematic punishment. Will Criterion put out a ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ 2-disc Blu-ray package in 2032 that lets us reassess Eddie Murphy’s lost masterpiece with a digitally restored 142 minute director approved cut? I hope so. If I had one really positive thing to say about ‘Heaven’s Gate’ it’s that the film has the best roller skate violinist/barn dance sequence of any Hollywood film. And that’s something to be grateful for.

With OG Huaraches set to return, it’s always worth focusing on a slightly more contemporary (though still showing my age) crush than Huppert — Chilli from TLC whose Huaraches and ACG-looking garments in the ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ video make me love her even more.


I’m taking inspiration from some interesting figures this year. You can keep your influencer or “brand builder”—I’ve been conducting my own little investigation into odd and evil characters, and there’s something weirdly mesmerizing about some monstrous individuals. I’d sooner watch the Aum Shinrikyo anime recruitment video than listen to a payola-led prediction about what 2011’s boom-brand will be. I’ve been watching that as well as marveling at the wide-eyed joy on the faces of Heaven’s Gate cult members pre-suicide on the “exit statement” video as Marshall Applewhite excitedly introduces each person, just before the infamous phenobarbitone pudding mass snacking. What do those folks know that we don’t? It doesn’t quite match the nightmarish aura of the Jonestown death tape—Jim Jones’s total lack of his fabled charisma, the bursts of mania and crying, plus the ghostly sound of previous music and hymns from a previous recording on the tape conjures up a scene that’s several shades of wrong. They’re all examples of PR and marketing gone hideously right…how do you generate that level of devotion? It’s one thing to sell bad denim to idiots nomadically hunting for the “next shit,” but getting your followers to take it up a notch in the devotion stakes is very intriguing indeed.

I’d love to have seen Shoko Asahara, the Rev. Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite perform a TED talk on brand loyalty. They’re scumbags, but they were obviously onto something when it came to marketing. I also want to know why 1982’s cult errr….cult film ‘Split Image’ with James Woods and Peter Fonda (as a religious leader of sorts) remains in limbo.

Marshall’s insistence on a nifty little exit outfit, complete with that ‘Away Team’ patch (the lurid cult logo has long been a favourite of mine), and just as Jim gave out Flavor Aid rather than the rumoured Kool Aid, talk of Cortez as the Heaven’s Gate footwear of choice is wrong too. While that outsole is different to contemporary examples, they look more like budget 1996/1997 Windrunners or—looking at the outsole compared to the usual Windrunner*—a Waffle runner of sorts. I wish Nike would put that shoe out again.

*Thanks to shoe genius Mr. Ghettrocentricity the shoe is officially  identified…it’s a Nike Decade. Wikipedia needs to fall back with its talk of Windrunners. Shoe images courtesy of eBay and only-sneakers.ru.

Is that really a Windrunner sole…or something else?

But if you’re talking workrates, Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski is a fascinating case study. Well regarded by NYC and Newark mobs as the hitman of choice, he was a steely eyed hulk of a man and a complete psychopath, but at least he was thorough. With a child killer as a younger brother and another brother killed at his alcoholic father’s hands, he was destined to turn out peculiar, but he channelled his blank approach to mayhem in a more profitable way. Testing crossbows on strangers to gauge effectiveness, killing prey with cyanide inhalers, videoing supposed rapists being eaten by rats, dressing up as a 6″5 homosexual to apparently evade detection and putting screwdrivers through spines to prevent escape, he was clearly a monster—and a wifebeater too—but he kept his day job a secret from his family. As a freelancer, he amassed a strong reputation that led to constant work. Let that be a lesson to you budding stylists, copy writers and designers out there—keep it thorough. Given his size, location and family life, his story must’ve entered ‘The Sopranos’ at pre-production stage in one way or another. On the HBO topic, their 1991 and 2001 interviews with Kuklinski are excellent. That blank face and subject matter is at odds with his colourful sweatshirt in the 1991 conversation—he’s a chilling character, and he’s in more standard prison attire for the 2001 chat, but seems marginally more relaxed.

If you’re caught up in notions of mobster glamour, Philip Carlo’s ‘The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer’ and ‘The Butcher: Anatomy of a Mafia Psychopath’ (based on the antics of Tommy “Karate” Pitera) are a good read. Kuklinski was apparently a little liberal with the truth, but it’s entertaining and terrifying nonetheless. Philip Carlo passed away late last year, but his book is the crux of a forthcoming film about “The Iceman” which would have been good with the long-rumoured Mickey Rourke lead (though if you’ve watched the chats, Gandolfini or Rip Torn a few years back could have nailed it), but now its rival production has the green light. Based on another book on the big man by Anthony Brunowith and the HBO specials, the usually unhinged Michael Shannon will be starring, with Benicio Del Toro as his mafia employer, Roy Demeo and James Franco as Robert “Mr. Softee” Pronge. Normally, I’d be sceptical that the film will ever materialise, but a test scene has appeared online with Shannon killing a non-Franco Mr. Softee (played by Michael Wincott). I’m looking forward to it. In the violent cinema stakes, Lee Tamahori’s ‘The Devil’s Double’ about Uday Hussein and his lookalike sounds like lurid fun, but ‘The Iceman’ has some serious potential.

This post was meant to be a rundown of what I saw on a brief Germanic tradeshow jaunt, but other than the Gourmet sneakers using Horween’s Cordovan leather, LVC’s new range (and that RRL influence via the new man in charge shows in a major way), Levi’s Made & Crafted and Supra’s plans for 2011, it was pretty underwhelming. Those tripping in France at the moment will be seeing the truly good stuff..