Tag Archives: hiking boots

HOODLUMS

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24 hours late on the blog updates and still not much to say. The leather jacketed or vested ne’er-do-wells of old always fired my imagination in movies and magazines, but I can’t help but think that gangs were making more of an effort to dress back in the day. Juvenile delinquency looked particularly fucking cool in the 1950s and 1960s, back when the dawn of the teenager had “squares” bricking themselves at grease-slicked haircuts and tribal uniforms. These pictures from a 1957 LIFE feature on Upper Westside and Bronx gangs called Teen-Age Burst of Brutality make alleged thugs look like rock stars. An Egyptian Kings member looks cool calm and collected on the way to be quizzed for a murder, complete with fans peering in the window, and the crew shot of the Laughing Jesters in Manhattan makes them look like the best gang ever. People generally seemed to look more excellent 50+ years ago.

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While the gang jackets in this anti-hoodlum film from the 1950s are the worst thing ever, the gangs in the 1961 San Francisco based documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell Me which has some kind of religious redemption overtones (and did the blog rounds back in 2009 when it seemed to go into public domain) has crews of dudes who are deeply stylish, until they start doing decorating and digging holes and being productive members of society because society asks them to be — it completely does the opposite of discouraging anyone from not wanting to stand on a street corner playing elbow tit (as depicted in The Wanderers). Even in the 1970s, the gang jackets on the cover of New York Magazine‘s March 27, 1972 cover story on east Bronx gangs (which can be read here) would almost certainly have a kid reaching for the marker pens to decorate a garment so he and his friends could rumble with neighbourhood rivals.



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Ralph Bakshi has drawn some great hoodlums in flicks like American Pop and Coonskin and given his escalating inability to work within the system, an initiative like Kickstarter is the perfect way for him to raise capital. He’s currently working on a series called Last Days of Coney Island with pledged voice work from folks like Matthew Modine and there’s some amazing incentives to pledge some dough here ($35+ for a Bakshi character doodle?). And I’ve talked about Ralph’s work here a lot of times, because Wizards, Fritz the Cat and Lord of the Rings, plus shows like his Mighty Mouse redux had such a big impact on me — if you don’t know who he is, educate yourself immediately by picking up a copy of Unfiltered and reading this interview with him from a year ago. The sketches and imagery from Last Days of Coney Island look pretty good so far.

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Does anyone else recall Champion’s Japanese licensee putting Champion on some extremely underwhelming hiking boots in 1995 to capitalise on a boom in hiking heritage? I thought I dreamt it until I pulled out this old ad again. They really did a number on the iconic ‘C’ right there.

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O.G. STYLE

Hypocritical miserabilist rants about the proliferation of hiking styles on solemn city residents are about as ubiquitous as the gear itself on those who’ve no intention of conquering any more than the mildest of gradients. So there’s no point segueing into one here. It doesn’t matter how overexposed they get. There’s an intrinsic beauty to the D-ringed boot that’s hard-to-beat. It’s just a shame that the sports footwear industry is intent on “homaging” them at every turn. Still, in researching something that’s yet to be seen, and in conversation with Kish, the subject of greatest album sleeve footwear moments sprang up. On the hiking side, Stephen Stills seemingly had it on lock. The guitarist’s off road styling on 1969’s ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ and his eponymous 1970 album’s artwork is both effortless and iconic.

It’s surprising that ‘Free & Easy’ haven’t dedicated an entire album to Stills’s look. Were he to walk into the Rugged Museum, it’s safe to assume the staffers might fall to the ground in reverence. But that’s not the greatest album cover moment for trail footwear. That belongs to some other boys from Texas.

O.G. Style’s ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’, harking back to 1991 is the ultimate footwear LP sleeve. It’s easy to assume the east coast was hip-hop’s spiritual home for iconic shoe imagery. That would be incorrect. J. Prince evidently looked after his Rap-A-Lot roster on the sneaker side of things, and this is the best collection amassed in a single cardboard square. The Houston duo’s DJ Big Boss and MC Eric “Original E” Woods rocked matching Nike Baltoros on the front cover, but eyes left for the stern-faced, long coat and hiking boots look. Eagle-eyed fanboys will also note the Jordan VIs at the rear and the Foot Locker LE Air Max 90s on the right. For out-of-towners, there’s something curious about a bunch of men wearing ACG shoes in a Houston ghetto (5th Ward?). The assumption is that the area is a little warmer than say, New York or Washington. But that’s probably just ignorance. Turning to the rear, Big Boss rocks the grey Baltoro, and Eric opts for a Foot Locker LE 90 too, this time in a contrast black and white to his homeboy on the front. He’s also rocking that model in the ‘Catch ‘Em Slippin’ promo.

Closeup courtesy of NTM on the CT forums.

Not only is it festooned with the finest in footwear, but ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’ is a strong LP that’s up with prime Geto Boys and Convicts for the best early example of Prince’s rap dynasty. Good to hear James again on the intro to Bun B’s excellent ‘Trill O.G.’ Tragically, DJ Big Boss passed away in late 2006 of kidney failure, and Eric Woods died of a brain aneurysm on January 3rd 2008. Mourning should be officially inducted as a hip-hop element, given its prevalence. Currently the rap nation is mourning the demise of the NYC Fat Beats store, despite abandoning it for several years in favour of downloads. That’s the nature of the artform’s fans. O.G. Style deserve more respect, and the passing of both members warrants infinitely more retrospectives. Hunt down the album—listen to the music and respect their footwear savvy.

As a postscript, I’m actually hoping the current poor man’s monsoon season signifies the end of the UK’s summer 2010, so I can put this pile to use after months of inaction…