Tag Archives: jordans


My entire childhood was eroded by occasional exposure to Australian cinema like ‘Long Weekend’ and ‘Patrick,’ but even beyond those intentional attempts to chill the viewer, even TV shows like ‘The Sullivans’ every weekday lunchtime would bring me down with that curiously Antipode breed of budget, overcast televisual misery, despite the country’s oft-glorious weather. The UK and Canada can create grim films, but Australia seemed to master it. Even when they’re not trying to bring me down, their film and television output has a drabness that’s tough to beat.

So when they’re trying to make something deliberately depressing, they deliver. Having just finished watching ‘Snowtown,’ based on the squalid mid-late 1990’s case of inter-community serial slaughter by a group led by John Bunting, I’ve not seen such a sobering depiction of psychosis in many years, and I’ve seen pretty much every downbeat, brutal movie ever. Australia triumphs in the matey psycho, who’ll cook you breakfast, ask how you’re feeling, then pressure you into slaying a household pet. Every minute of ‘Snowtown’ is sheer doom, where everybody’s a potential deviant, but some are willing to deviate beyond all comprehension. Daniel Henshall’s turn as John is a perfect performance, with no theatrical twitches and stares — just a conscious evil and unnerving charisma that amasses accomplices. Nobody explains why he does what he does (something that even the equally bleak ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ offered the viewer), and the musical cues crank up the troubling atmosphere.

The prolonged strangulation scene is still embedded in my psyche, yet for all the monstrous behaviour and miserable shack-like cluster of outer-Adelaide residences that make up the film’s backdrop, the cinematography’s beautiful, giving the inhumanity on display an eloquence of its own. As a carefully crafted character study, it’s notable that Bunting still remains an enigma – offering no answers channels the essence of the case. The best killer films aren’t about carefully laid traps, ‘CSI’ style apprehension and transparent motive. They simply remain queasily ambiguous. ‘Snowtown’ is a solid accompaniment to 1998’s profile of murderous behaviour and alpha males, ‘The Boys,’ another Australian film based on a significant true crime (the John Travers gang and the Anita Cobby case) that’s still a cause of outrage. I recommend ‘The Boys’ for a feel bad viewing session that pre-empts incarceration with classic Australian prison films like ‘Ghosts of the Civil Dead,’ ‘Everynight…Everynight’ and ‘Stir.’ Just make sure that you’ve got the ‘Seinfeld’ box set on deck to restore your sanity afterwards.

If those films aren’t enough to erode your sanity, 1983’s ‘Angst’ is the greatest portrayal of murderous insanity ever made. 1979’s ‘Vengeance is Mine’ is a strong portrayal of a remorseless maniac, Japan-style, but Gerald Kargl’s Austrian vision is mind-boggling yet, due to distribution issues, often unseen. You’ll get no fuel to unleash the ‘LOL’s or smiley faces on social media in Kargl’s film, but what you get is a film that’s two decades ahead of its time from a technical standpoint. The antithesis of documentary style filming, ‘Angst’ is a dizzying box of tricks, soundtracked by Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze in a synthesised style that makes it doubly unsettling. Based on the Werner Kniesek case (and from accounts, it seems fairly faithful), it’s about the pure pleasure of killing, and no ‘Saw’ or straight to DVD ‘Hostel’ sequel can maintain that sense of terror. Erwin Leder’s eyes alone beat any special effect, but that sweaty intensity and primal but inept killing techniques, twinned with the innovative, nightmarish set pieces, make it a lost classic.

It’s odd that Kargl’s IMDB profile ends with this film, but director of photography, co-writer and editor Zbigniew Rybczynski went on to pioneer HD techniques. If you’re a Gasper Noé fan, ‘Angst’s hyperactive camera and use of sonics will help you understand how his style was developed — this is one of his personal favourites. While there’s barely any dialogue to accompany the plot, the killer’s narration needs subtitles, and sadly, Barrel Entertainment, who promised a DVD for half a decade, went bankrupt a year or so ago. Not a pleasant experience, but a necessary one for fans of cinema. Just don’t come crying to me with tales of subsequent trauma. ‘Snowtown,’ ‘The Boys’ and ‘Angst’ — a perfect trinity of murderous misery.

On a lighter, very different, note, I’ve been trying to hunt the mysterious Boyz II Men Jordan XI and tux award show moment, but I can’t find it. Was it a gig? Why is there no video footage? Maybe it’s an apocryphal thing, but I’m certain that I saw a shot once. What I did find in my hunt was a picture of the Boyz in matching white suits and 2000 white/chrome Jordan IVs at a BET bash in May of that year. It’s hard to get hyped on any celebrity wearing retro Jordans (though the internet says differently), but I say that the cutoff is the stray black/cement IIIs on the cover of ‘The Blueprint’ in 2001.

The UK is killing it at the moment. Most football related attempts to be down crumble because, unless you’re a visiting rapper, there’s not much that’s cool about wearing a football shirt and beyond all the fancy stuff, Umbro’s never been a cool brand — it’s a utilitarian one that was affordable without fear of a playground beat down (unless you wore Umbro trainers, then you deserved what you got). But the hard-wearing twill of the drill top was the budget wear of choice in and outside of my school. I’m glad that team Palace have acknowledged that in their Umbro and Palace collaboration that includes a trill looking drill top that brings back that appeal. I like the idea of a Trill Top.

On a Palace affiliated note, Slam City Skates releases the ‘City of Rats’ DVD next week and you need it in your life, because, unlike the days of skate VHS bare-bones, there’s an abundance of extras too. It’s still mind-boggling that this is the first ever full-length Slam City skate video, but it’s okay, because it only took them 25 years to get it sorted. Big.

Graffiti magazines are a different breed nowadays compared to the things I’d overspend on at Tower Records or the ‘zines I’d send an SAE off for only to get nothing in return (maybe they thought I was “the man” or maybe they were just lazy), but truly iconic publications have been few and far between. That’s because graf kids make the ‘Maximum Rocknroll’ readership sound level-headed by comparison, and one man’s masterpiece is another twenty people’s “sellout shit.” The internet was pretty much made for the art form, with internet fame being as fleeting as moving trains, and ‘Crack & Shine’ and ‘Also Known As’ gave destruction a certain gloss that set a new precedent. I’m looking forward to seeing the paper spinoff of Hurtyoubad, ‘Hurtyoubad Journal’ which has been in development for a while promising, “A graffiti publication with no graffiti.” This will be the cause of much anonymous commenting and hipster allegations, but will be an excellent read. And seeing as it’s coming via Topsafe, it should look pretty too.

The Diggers With Gratitude team are holding it down for that peculiarly British breed of rap nerdery (and there’s plenty of crossover between our love of skate and rap, with more experts per person in those topics than many other nations) with their issues of lost tracks by the kind of characters you may have briefly checked for in their day but promptly forgotten. For the DWG team, that enthusiasm never died. To paraphrase Ice-T from ‘Colors’ — it just multiplied. Now they’ve gone and put out Latee of the Flavor Unit’s unreleased 1992/3 recordings on the ‘Who Rips the Sound?’ EP. But now they’ve all sold out, so you’re going to have to hope for a second volume of their reissue work compiled on a CD at some point in the near future.

And if that mix of plugging, serial killer films, skate stuff and Boyz II Men wasn’t an odd enough mix for you, here’s an interview I did for my buddies at Sneakersnstuff about Stockholm and Baltimore’s sports footwear scenes.

And shouts to ‘i-D’ magazine, Kate Moss and Alisdair McLennan for this:


This week I learnt a few things. Some PR people don’t like me any more (and emailed me to tell me that), Tumblr is a more powerful traffic source than big blogs as far as click-throughs go and the people who laughed at me when I told them that there would be some kind of hype Huffington Post method of content syndication were wrong, because my buddies at Hypebeast put my last entry up as an op-ed. Unfortunately I’ve been basking in some kind words and an abundance of snack foods that made me forget to blog yesterday, and this evening I’m hyping up those Concord XIs for sale, so I’m busy again. Christmas is a special time of year when people punch each other in the face in Texan shopping malls for shiny toed basketball shoes. If ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was made now, it would end with Jimmy Stewart shoulder barging a thirteen year old boy out the doorway of the Bedford Falls branch of NikeTown before running home triumphantly with a snow drenched Jordan box under his arm.

I’ve become addicted to sneaker footwear beef via YouTube of late – people doing “show reviews” via video is nothing new, but there’s a whole culture of beef, with disses and response videos regarding allegations of Jordan fakery and other such matters. Dribblez Tha God (“What the hell is the deal YouTube?”) resides in VA and he’s far more gooned-out than most — he’s always calling out his opponents and questioning their sexuality in angry rants. One 17:51 minute long rant involves him waving cheques and exposing alleged infidelity via text message — sports footwear = serious business. Dribblez even has his own clothing range (YOUTUBE’S MOST HATED MAN!!), that includes a t-shirt that embodies everything that the term “sneakerhead” conjures up to me — the font and the ultra literal image is a killer combo.

Seeing as tomorrow is Jordan brawl day, it’s probably an okay time to dump a piece I wrote that got rejected by Sneaker Freaker for the new issue in favour of people holding up shoes and an NB 574 based on Ray Meagher. It was meant to be an exploration of why people are preoccupied with Jordans rather than contemporary basketball shoes, but it turned into a rambling 2000 word waste of energy pretty quickly. But fuck it, here it is and there’s three of my favourite Nike Basketball ads at the bottom to reward anybody who scrolls down. That 1981 Dynasty one stays classic:

(Unpublished draft)


Whatever happened to all the heroes? We see the billboards, the constant stream of Flash videos deifying athletes and the constant updates, pumping jpg after clinically cropped jpg of signature shoe colourways way before release courtesy of those crafty back door factory super villains, but where’s the sense of magic that elevated players to the point of deification? Why aren’t we seeing the new brace of basketball shoes worn as much at street level as Mike, Sir Charles and Patrick’s signature shoes were?

Basketball shoes are evolving at a serious rate — just as 1992’s Olympic rollout pushed classics like the Force 180 and the Beijing festivities gave us the debut of Flywire on a court shoe, London’s summer event has kickstarted some new innovations, whether it’s the ankle reinforcement of the new Kobe design, the Y-3 inspired stretch lace strap of adidas’s D. Rose sequel or the Pro Combat lined LeBron 9, we’re less likely to see them on a foot than the shoes of old. Once, the boldness of the Jordan V, Flight Lite and — for the fortunate few — the towering Command Force were on the street, in an audacious era of neons, tongues hanging out like a dog from a car window and wealth measured in bulk and gimmicks. It wasn’t enough to have performance aiding technologies — people needed to see.

But ahead of all that, there was Michael Jordan, a player who transcended the sport. Whether those Mars ads hit your screens or not, the Jumpman was all-reaching. In an era where shoe-related crimes could hit the headlines and be enough of a zeitgeist to become soap opera drama devices, the price tag and escalating war of technologies had the masses scrambling for the shoes. The name alone conjured up a superhuman spirit, even if you’d never seen the man play.

Bucks exec Bob Zuffalato’s remark,”The man doesn`t live on Earth. He just shows up on Earth for practice and game days” hyped up that desire for a piece of Jordan product, whether it was a shirt or the shoes themselves. Jordan spinoffs of the original, like the (then) rarely seen KO created a blueprint for spinoffs within a signature series. After 1985’s first chapter, the II and III were a tougher find. By 1989’s IV was a more accessible option. Without cameras in the pocket of every attendee and coverage a Google search away, we were told that the offending “banned” Jordan shoe was a Jordan I rather than an Air Ship in black and red. Myths were easier to make back then.

The financial boomtime that fuelled the early days of Jordan allowed for extra risks. Sartorial conservatism was absent, in contrast to the powers that be at the time. There was less fear of strange. For all the informational exposure, the current generation likes to play it relatively safe. Given the moral implications of such a question, it’s tough to determine just how much a crack epidemic popularised bigger and better basketball shoes, but it was undeniably powerful in fuelling those ‘80s icons.

Then things began to look backwards in the early ’90s. Suedes, Campus and Cortez became desirable again beyond the hands of a few deadstock Columbos. Capitalising on the boom 1994’s retro III and early 1995’s retro I might have landed with an indifferent thud, but just as the post XI Jordan releases from 1996 became so admirably offbeat that only a basketball and inner city audience seemed to appreciate the output, Nike had forged a second lane to catch the new breed of nostalgics. Smart move. Creating a full Jordan brand in 1998 was even smarter, signing up athletes from multiple disciplines. All that before Google even went live.

After Jordan’s retirement Penny Hardaway was the logical successor to MJ’s sneaker dynasty, with a run of innovative releases, including the Foamposite — Nike’s next shock-to-the-system, but it never seemed to rock pop culture like the Jordan phenomenon. For regions where basketball isn’t a second language, Chris Webber, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Penny’s status travelled by the shoes on their feet rather than their feats on the court.

Still, despite strong product elsewhere, a wave of sneaker retrospect salted the earth for generations that followed. Nobody else could have a franchise on Mike’s scale, with its mix of talent, innovative marketing and a moneyed time that allowed for expensive output and a demanding audience. You can’t synthesize a moment like that. Not only is Jordan DNA in subsequent shoes, but it’s also embedded in the psyche of multiple generations passing that reverence for Jordan down to sons, grandsons, younger brothers an nephews. That’s a powerful lineage of brand loyalty.

But beyond that, why aren’t people freaking out over the latest basketball releases on a grand scale? The product’s there and Eric Avar and Jason Petrie are putting out work that certainly doesn’t pale alongside Tinker’s best moments. Do people want the “now” or will they hunt it down as a hybrid retro in fifteen years’ time? So why aren’t, say, Kobe and LeBron, creating seismic activity on the same level beyond basketball and inner city audiences when it comes to their footwear?

One theory could be an insatiable thirst for information that tarnishes attempts at mythmaking. All iPhones are on Kobe and LeBron at any given time — mouthing something regrettable becomes something that makes national headlines and it’s there in flash format for repeat viewings, again and again and again. No amount of Sonny Valachi formulated sports marketing can clean that up without a few specks remaining. It limits damage limitation. Google doesn’t forget easily. How would Michael Jordan have fared in the smartphone flashlight? With cameras in every pocket comes great responsibility.

There’s anecdotes and a few headlines, but with the lens readily available in clubs and casinos things could have been different. How many other NBA players with big money shoe contracts would have fizzled out if their behaviour was traced 24-7? It’s tough to place a player on the pedestal and make them seem immortal nowadays. That’s a “what if?” to match the-what-if-Michael-Jordan-signed-to-adidas? query. Would he have had some Forum-alikes that shifted some units because adidas didn’t have Peter Moore (yet) or Bruce Kilgore or Tinker, or would he have shifted the fortunes of adidas’s basketball division? LeBron’s 2010 media circus and oft-parodied aspirations for a league title buffed the shine a little too. With twitter allowing constant contact it’s tougher to remain necessarily aloof. Now, that constant contact and ability to know what to wait for means you’re perennially half-a-year ahead in terms of planning spending. We’ve lost the unexpected sense of shock and awe that opens the wallet.

Less choice in the 1980s than today’s wealth of retro, mashup and contemporary creations allowed the Jordan franchise to build, but there’s something to be said for the Wieden+Kennedy print and TV ads of the time. Now we’re assailed by attempts to monetize the internet, with popups, annoying 30-seconds of videos before videos and desperate attempts to go “viral” whereas a risky but iconic campaign, deliberately paced and the copy-heavy, powerful slogans of the 1980s and early 1990s proved deeply effective. Now the complete campaign seems a little more fragmented and the scope for distraction from the overall message is immense.

Style has changed – the power to say, “fuck you, this is what shoes look like now” has been replaced by an easier mode of consumer research that can be electronically aided. That fuels a certain low-risk style. Jeans were tight when bulky early Jordan shoes dropped and they’re tight again. Do consumers run to the new big shoes? Nope, not when there’s some Jordan Vs readily available. Zack Morris-style denim might be back, but that’s no use to new shoes with show-off features if ‘Saved By The Bell’ era shoes can still be bought.

Take a look at any hip-hop record (remember those big black discs?) sleeve from 1987 to 1993 and Jordan’s present somewhere if there’s a group shot. Even metallers, from the heavier sector like Dave Mustaine, to the weedier hair rockers like Kip Winger were repping the Jumpman. Even God-fearing oldies’ favourite Cliff Richard had been snapped in a pair of IVs. For the most part, the death of the album cover in the MP3 era could have been detrimental to the newer basketball styles.

Who could gawp and aspire any more? When it comes to newer shoes, they’re up against brand Jordan’s seeding savvy — Wale, Khaled, Rick Ross and other Maybach Music affiliates have broken out the ‘Brons as a refreshing alternative, but those Jordans are still the video stars (with flash video being the key visual vessel for hip-hop in 2011). Jay and ‘Ye’s ‘Otis’ is a perfect example. Would a contemporary comedian ever break out Kobes or LeBrons like Jerry Seinfeld in the V, VI and VII or a pre-Simple Larry David behind-the-scenes in VIs? Louis CK in Kobes? Andy Samberg in LeBrons? We haven’t seen that yet.

Each Jordan instalment is about all change. The franchise was powerful enough to allow for risks and as a collaborator Mike was open to madness at a pivotal time for innovations – from innovative colour blocking to Italian-construction during the crack era, visible air and — in latter chapters —interchangable innovations. Those colours, a lack of iD accessibility (you got what you were given) and patterns as integral to the shoes as the technologies were definitive. Now we know there’s more around the corner and sheer wealth of options can water down the offerings and dilute any notion of a definitive shoe.

From the beginning, the Jordan shoes tell a story of sneaker design’s evolution from simplicity to brave, avant-garde silhouettes, regardless of your opinion on the shoes. LeBron’s collection is strong, but there’s certain similarities between key chapters simply because that’s what the athlete favours and needs — Kobe’s adidas to Nike brand switch waters down that shoe legacy (try as you might, that Audi effort makes the Jordan XV look downright sleek by comparison. The stories don’t flow as effortlessly as Jordan’s basic shoe to moonboot narrative. Eric Avar’s work for Kobe for the lower IV and the even lower later instalments is excellent, but Mr. Bryant has an influential formula that works for him and it’s some fine and accessible variations on a theme.

Then there’s good old ability — it’s all in the stats. Numbers don’t lie. 38 points with a stomach bug? 10 NBA scoring titles? Twin that with some of the greatest marketing ever and it’s a hard act to follow. And if those spectacular sneaker design precedents and creation of a retro basketball market weren’t enough to kill your footwear franchise, Mike goes and contributes to the NBA lockout so nobody gets to publicly play in the shoes at all. Now that’s true boss behaviour.


Integrity. Where do you start with that one? They’re both the band that couldn’t play the game, go major and keep on giving the fans the same. admittedly ace album, and they’re something that at this moment I most certainly am lacking in. I’m currently writing a page for a magazine filled with bad brand shoes (not quite Gola, because that would be a step too far), because a Submariner won’t buy itself. That my friends, is a lack of integrity on a grand scale. I like to think this blog, in a small way, might restore my karmic balance for the former monthly deed.

So I’m devoid of it today, but INTEGRITY still carry that heavyweight reputation as the most progressive of hardcore bands – opening minds since 1989 while much of the scene degenerated into a sound that’s not too far from Durst and company’s rap/rock dreck, the 7″ vinyl packages that carry the band’s name this last month are impressive – the UK’s own Thirty Days of Night records is taking orders for a split-band release themed after the kids’ book and record sets of old, with a new INTEGRITY and Rot In Hell track on record one, an 8-page hardback children’s book written and illustrated by the mighty Dwid Hellion and another record of the man himself narrating it. Again, like the Freeway Rhymesayers release last month, if you want to move me from MP3 right-clicking, that right there is the way to do it.

It doesn’t stop there either. Organized Crime Records just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Integrity’s debut ‘In Contrast Of Sin’ with a beautifully packaged reissue – clear vinyl with the option of an additional cover reinterpretation from the mind of Stephen Kasner, a genius artist in his own right, and the supplier of the incredible sleeve art for SUNN O)))’s ultra-intense ‘ØØ Void’ and its glorious drone. It isn’t the first limited reissue of the record, and it won’t be the last, but it is the most legit to date. There was something the water around the Cleveland area. There still is. In coming months, ‘Those Who Fear Tomorrow,’ ‘Systems Overload’ and ‘Seasons in the Size of Days’ get the same packaging, with download codes for those picking ’em up for the packaging rather than play.

Music seems to have a calculated viral marketed, music blogged lack of edge at this moment in time, and Dwid’s work still doesn’t file those edges away. Pitched between recluse and an accessible figurehead of the scene, active on eBay and on related messageboards, he’s a talented artist himself, and having steered himself from quasi-jock rocker to something altogether stranger and darker, there’s no way of pre-empting where he’s taking Holy Terror Records.

In its current form INTEGRITY and affiliated acts like VVegas cause me a glorious confusion, with their Holy Terror gospel of individualism at any cost, deifying the likes of Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara and Robert Degrimston, whose Process Church of The Final Judgement has provided plenty of iconography and philosophy ties with my preoccupation with these oddball outsiders. As a kid I was obsessed with an aerial photograph of the Jonestown Massacre in a Reader’s Digest book my grandpa gave me. Yeah, I was an odd kid. I think Dwid probably was too. Videos like this are just disturbing – cult propaganda doesn’t get much bouncier than this:

I never was a fan of the Psywarfare side-project, but the imagery was pretty astounding – Dwid still sells patches of his oddball Holy Terror Church MANSONFISH design and Process Church logos on his site. In many ways, I suspect I’m an enemy of progress though – as with most things, I seem to be set on returning to 1995, where, during the ‘Systems Overload’ tour, Dwid was resplendent in Jordan 1 reissues from the previous year and the tie-in t-shirt used Champion as the base. in fact, on the INTEGRITY merchandise thread (one of the most merchandised indie acts in history?) on the B9 board, forum member Mike Apocalypse recalls,

In 1995 INTEGRITY toured the U.S. for their “Systems Overload” record. When Dwid printed the shirts an error occurred. The shirts he used were Champion T-shirts and to get a fair price on them he had to got to a Champion outlet store. While picking up tons of T-shirts a XL muscle shirt, with a small tear in the back, found it’s way into one of the boxes by mistake. Dwid got back to the Den Of Iniquity and began to print shirts. When he got to the bottom of the box he spotted the muscle shirt. Not being one to waste things he printed it up, and tossed it in with the other shirts and then headed off on tour with the Melnick Bros, Frank 3Gun, and a fat dude. When GEHENNA played in Reno with them Dwid took notice of my impeccable sense of style and offered me the muscle shirt, and told me the story.

Thank fuck for INTEGRITY. Rejecting prescribed notions of sXe before it became a tiresome, regimented plague, bringing the experimentation without compromising the powerchords, and still harnessing enough energy to make you feel like running amok. Best of all, I still don’t quite understand their point-of-view. That’s part of the charm. By the time I do, I’m sure Dwid and company will have moved on. That’s why they stay vital. Love Bunni Press has got some great Clevo HC resources, including the first interview they ever did, from 1988, where they seem exasperated with the state of the scene,

Dwid –Let me say on the straight-edge tip, what I see it as, straight-edge was exploited, it was raped. It’s nothing now, it’s a joke, it’s a way to dress, it’s a haircut, and it’s a way to have generic beats.
A Double- I’ve seen bands where all they do is wear Champions and Nikes and are considered straight-edge.
Dwid – I’m ashamed to be straight-edge now.

There’s also an accompanying one from the following year where they express some Slayer and Cro-Mags admiration amongst the griping. Holy Terror’s got the albums up for download absolutely free. A lot of their contemporaries sound naive now, Judge excepted, but on a Judge-related tip, to quote Reinhold in ‘Fast Times…’ get acquainted with those MP3s – learn it, know it…live it.