Tumblr might be rife with anachronistic blends of 1990s and 1980s thrift store and eBay overspend styling, but there’s a few little spots where you can see some shots of those who were there with all the gear and some serious shoplifting skills. Having said that, is getting that throwback outfit historically correct even a thing any more? The internet has created its own timeless gang bang of reference points and music that makes historical correctness redundant. For a new generation, 1996’s iconography is as prevalent as what’s happening now. Factor in the sheer amount of homages to expensive technical outer wear and the reappropriation of rich guy garms of the 1990s and then has become fused with now like never before. Characters like Rack-Lo represent the old guard, and I never get tired of looking at the pictures from their past, as well as the different array of themed outfits you need to be up on if you rock the horse. His self-published The Lo Life Adventures of Rack-Lo book is online here and worth a browse.
It might have been online for a couple of years, but this video by Eli Morgan Gessner that edits together footage from 1986/1987 is a tribute to much-loved OG Shut crew member Beasley who passed away in the early 1990s. Loads of New York legends, Beasley street planting wearing the Iowa Dunk Hi and the Mr. Magic premiere of Nobody Beats the Biz blared from a boombox around the time it happened makes this footage priceless. I was slack with the updates this week. I promise I’ll try harder this weekend. Just watch this instead.
For a few minutes today, pondered writing some kind of ‘best of…’ list for today’s blog entry, because the year’s coming to a close. It’s the easy route to content creation. Then I remembered that you, quite rightly, don’t actually give a shit, because nearly every list of that kind is subjective claptrap that’s either stating the staggeringly obvious, an attempt to get the awardees to retweet the fawning praise (it’s always better to reward those with lots of social media followers who don’t need the props in the first place) for maximum traffic, or some tedious attempt to provoke “conversation” with some willfully irksome inclusions. If you, like me, feel like doing something like I did, I recommend carving it on your forearm or something to make it different to the numerous best of the best of’s that are already out there. But it has been an interesting year. One day, a boffin will create some kind of algorithm which calculates the lateness to a “viral” and subsequent Facebook and Twitter shares of every single user and a figure that determines how tedious they are — a reverse Klout score of some kind, that can be passed to potential employers when they apply for some shitbag social media role so they don’t end up polluting timelines and ruining the good name of a brand or reputable organisation.
The hype around the tiny monkey in a Canadian Ikea car park was a perfect catchment incident to log this late adoption social media blabbermouth data, but I have to concede that whereas parodies by the unfunny and time-rich YouTubers of the world of an already painfully wacky PSY song are intolerable, that monkey still amuses me. He amuses me because he, a small Japanese macaque, rocked the shearling better than Tom Hardy in that letdown Batman film or anybody that rushed out and bought that H&M Margiela shearling and Instagrammed the jacket wearing them, rather than the other way around, with some horseshit about #swag. Darwin the monkey made the jacket look frivolous and luxurious. Humans have made the wearing of a slain sheep look way less cool than it should be. Back in the winter of 1990/91, the shearling was responsible for a handful of homicides in the quest to own one. Murder over an item of outerwear (legend has it that NYC police had an eightball jacket unit back in the day to combat the crime that item was instigating) is a nightmarish representation of how low somebody will stoop to own a material object – if people were willing to slay an individual for a $169 leather jacket, it’s little surprise that they were willing to execute somebody in cold blood for something that was worth $450. Sad, but true.
If morals won’t stop murder over fashion, I wish retro culture would. 22 years on and people are still losing their lives over a pair of Air Jordans. Without trivialising the severity of these incidents, everything operates in a rotation — that shoe you might pull a trigger over will be back again in 3 years or so. Put down the weapons and save your pennies rather than facing 25 to life over clothing. I hope, on release, these killers see the gear they’ve had a couple of decades to regret obtaining through such brutal means gleaming at them from a store window to remind them of the true stupidity of their actions. While you were languishing behind bars the item you valued over a human life may well have hit shelves at least 5 times.
The logical end to the camouflage preoccupation is to let it enter your bloodstream by smoking it. Salutes to Milcentric for putting me onto Florida-based Humo del Diablo’s Recon Cigars, with their website that looks like rejected concept art for the ‘Expendables 3’, a tube that’s made to look like anti-aircraft ammo and a case that’s meant to look like an artillery case. That “ECU” wrapper, with added Criollo-Maduro, South American and Candels patches gives this Marine-affiliated brand’s output that camo look (darker in real life than the first image indicates). I’m keen to smoke one to see in the approaching new year.
The only thing worse than misguided #swag Instagram shots and ‘Rainman’ style laid out outfit Instagram shots is Instagram shots of your weed stash (and cheapo rap videos for Tumblr-friendly artists with the mouth to nose weed plumes in slow motion need to stop). There’s no difference between a filtered shot of weed leaf socks and some student twat with a Bob Marley stash tin and scratched copy of ‘Legend’ who sees every object as a potential bong. Smoke it, don’t talk about it like some 14-year-old. Why does a wake and bake get multiple ‘Likes’ and Tumblr love but a morning tumbler of vodka would elicit concern? Instagram weed culture is a good argument against decriminalising marijuana. However, I believe that if anybody ever rolled a blunt using a Recon Cigar and photographed it artfully, it would go triple Instagram platinum immediately and get reblogged from now until infinity.
Here’s to 2013. Thanks for all of the support.
Hop off Serpico’s heavily-disguised dick for a minute in the style stakes. 1981’s ‘Nighthawks’ (known as ‘Night Hawks’ in the UK, possibly to avoid confusion with the 1978 Brit-flick ‘Nighthawks’) is another long-hair NYC cop thriller that still holds up as a document of the big apple’s anarchic feel as a new decade developed, but also showcases some memorable attire. Mindless but smartly executed, they don’t make films like this any more. Curiously homoerotic undertones underpin the ultra-macho content, whether it’s a disco track produced by Keith Emerson, converting the phenomenal synthesised main theme into something that wouldn’t be out-of-place on the soundtrack of the equally foreboding ‘Cruising’, Rutger Hauer urging a scared plastic surgeon to beautify him or no less than two instances of Stallone in drag, dishing out punishment to bad guys.
Stallone is capable of fine performances. With ‘Rambo IV’ and ‘The Expendables’ impending, he’s seemingly accepted a spot as a mindless violence merchant despite years of bespectacled attempts to shake that. The former flick was superb, and his ensemble bullet-fest is something to look forward to, but remember that sense of anticipation post-‘Copland’ with the superior performance he never truly capitalised on? Those who saw ‘D-Tox’ can attest to that failure.
‘Lords of Flatbush’,’F.I.S.T.’ and ‘Rocky’ set a performance precedent. ‘First Blood’ as a ‘Nighthawks’ follow-up was a shrewd move too. Then potential seemed to be squandered until his deaf cop turn. ‘Nighthawks’ is ultimate Stallone. Come on, Sylvester and Billy Dee Williams (fresh from his first turn as Lando), pursuing a terrorist played by Rutger Hauer? That’s a classic in the making. Shot on location in 1980 NYC, that’s the visual clout that all the CGI in the world couldn’t top. New York in 1980 feels like another world, and a place waaaaaay more treacherous than Bespin.
Between repeat viewings of this and remembering FUCT’s.’Symbionese’ Champion sweat, it’s forgivable that one could get nostalgic for a time when leftist terrorism had folk shook. Conversely, it’s depressing that attacks on urban environments seemed far-fetched too. Hauer’s smooth criminal doesn’t rant on murky leaked broadcasts. He’s like Billy Drago’s Frank Nitti, but with finesse, all bombs in briefcases slid from view and exploding department stores, only losing his cool during a subway pursuit on foot and (alas, a graffiti-free) train that rivals ‘The Warriors’ for kinetic breathlessness. And they really are running around a functioning underground station. Hauer would play the pursuer in ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ (“Fuck the bonus“) hunting Kiss’s Gene Simmons as a hands-on terrorist mastermind with equally fiendish schemes but significantly less finesse.
Severely cut, (Stallone claims it was packing ‘Taxi Driver’ levels of bloodshed), ‘Nighthawks’ is still a brutal film, and the wardrobe achieves a curious middle ground between odd and utilitarian. Berets are a no, but the militaristic trenchcoats, variety of leathers, that cardigan and Stallone’s hefty sunglasses still look fresh. Alas, given the era, flared, striped slacks occasionally kill an outfit. These are maverick cops, and Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox’s outfits are appropriately maverick. For all his cold-blooded antics, Hauer’s Wulfgar gets less love on the costume front until he wields his MAC-10 aboard a cable car towards the film’s conclusion with layered rollneck ruthlessness.
‘Nighthawks’ director Bruce Malmuth passed in 2005. He deserves respect for helming this classic, the Seagal vehicle ‘Hard to Kill’ (“This is for my wife—fuck you and die“) and bizarrely, for playing the ring announcer in the original ‘Karate Kid’. This isn’t a call for the Criterion treatment, but if those deleted scenes are anywhere, a DVD special edition would be welcome. That’s word to Billy Dee Williams’s Superman t-shirt.
Apologies for the lack of blog updates. NYC is taking up too much of my time. Seeing as the industry blogsphere is 80% mechanically reconstituted lookbooks, I could get in on that action, but I can’t bring myself to do it. So I’d rather wait until I’m not on a burger hunt. Burgers are more important than blogging. Blame the Lightning Magazine burger edition. Corner Bistro, Five Guys and Shake Shack take the crown at the moment. I’m willing to find even better eats, so all suggestions are welcome.
In the meantime, watch this documentary about Fang’s Sammytown post-prison. It’s the first time I heard him spoken about so lovingly. “He’s fucking cool man. He’s right as rain. But shit happens. Yeah, he’s a murderer. Yes he is…”
Sports footwear will probably be the thing that sends me under. It doesn’t take long to get yourself stereotyped as a “shoe dude” – tougher to uncategorise yourself. Not the worst thing in the world, but at the age of 31, you don’t want to be perceived as the sort who wakes up in a cold sweat at the notion of missing the Cool Grey Jordan XIs at Christmas time. That’s not healthy. For all the cynical taint (having worked with most of your favourite brands at one time or another, you’d have to be murmuring on Lithium not to start sneering at the retrospective preoccupation, and the fact line art renders anything shit), but periodically you’ll see something that cuts through the crap – well-to-do fifty-something tourists in Lunar Racers. A pensioner with bicycle clips resting above a rarer Terra Humara makeup (before the reissues). And the image above.
Sat on the hard drive, from someone prone to right clicking and clipping any instance of unexpected sneaker (trainer?) wear, this is a personal favourite. Taken by my good friend, Miss Joanna Chaundy, during a trip to NYC in 2004, at around 4am, it’s become some odd talisman whenever hype fatigue kicks in – these are sneakers worn for necessity, yet the mystery man (are those decorator’s overalls? Is he homeless?) is flossing with a flashbulb aid. The Scotchlite ‘N’ on those New Balances is gloriously at odds with the drab surroundings.
I’ve long had the brand pinned as maintaining a certain democracy despite their place as budget busters back when they dropped the $100+ 1300 back in the mid ’80s. Maybe it’s the minimal marketing budget compared to bigger companies, the Flimby and Boston factories keeping a level of manufacture close to home, or perhaps it’s the low price point on the 574. The 991 has long been the triumphant nerd’s choice – look at Steve Jobs’s feet pre-Nike – as well as the clued up everyman’s pick. This bearded man doesn’t care who, why or how, but the shoes are serving their purpose. There’s a gloriously composed purity to the proceedings caught here. It makes me like the NB more than any mega budget, contrived “viral’ campaign. And I’ll take this look over any number of side-parted Hitler Youth-alikes in the snapshot quest for true street style. This guy needs a lookbook appearance. I love this photo.