Stores are going to start trying to sell seasonal ephemera in the coming weeks, so why not get prepped for potential Christmas presents? Books are the ultimate excuse to ignore everyone around you for a couple of claustrophobic days of forced jollity, so the news that both Boogie and Quartersnacks have projects dropping this winter is something to be pleased about. I think Boogie is one of the greatest living shooters, and a man prone to bringing something beautiful back from the dark side with each assignment. After spending a few months in Kingston, Jamaica, the fruits of that trip (which, once again pokes a prying lens down the barrel of a gun) are collated in A Wah Do Dem which drops on the Drago label in late October. The images below indicate that his sixth monograph will be the best yet. This fearless photographer’s work definitely deserves your full support.
The true cover for Quartersnacks’ TF at 1 book is online now. Looking at a blog every day seems kind of quaint, like still eating fried bread for breakfast or choosing to apprentice as a chimney sweep, but I look at Quartersnacks multiple times every day in the hope of a link-heavy update. The site captures something that other outlets just don’t seem to match, and the book promises a summary of the last decade of NYC skateboarding over 176-pages, plus plenty of new content and interviews. On the Q&A topic, I want a Chromeball Incident paperback of every interview too, because it would probably be cheaper than me hemorrhaging printer ink trying to put all 83 conversations onto paper. You should probably take a couple of hours out to go through the Jenkem Soundcloud and listen to both parts of the Mark Gonzales episode of the Tim O’Connor Show — Tim asks Gonz the right things and, as a result, the trivia levels are high.
It’s been a minute since I bought a regular rap magazine, but I’m still buying hip-hop related books like a fiend. Scarface’s recent autobiography was an ultra-downbeat read, but a worthy one (I was pleased to see that have hated the cover art to Geto Boys’ Da Good da Bad & da Ugly as much as I did) that’s a fine accompaniment to Prodigy’s book (still the ultimate hip-hop bio) and the Q-Tip, Lil’ Kim and Benzino memoirs seem to have vanished from the release schedules after a on-off wait of almost Rawkus Kool G or Heltah Skeltah-like levels. The one that I’m ultra hyped for is the Nas autobiography, It Ain’t Hard to Tell: A Memoir, which, according to Amazon and the publisher, Simon and Schuster, drops later this year, on November 10th — four years after its announcement caused some brief blog fuss. Rap books get delayed even harder than the damn albums, but if Nasir Jones opts to make like P and pull no punches, it’s going to be a classic. In the interim, I’ll probably pick up the Luther Campbell, Buck 65 and Kevin Powell books in coming months, but there’s one extra volume with some serious potential — Rap Tees: A Collection of Hip Hop T-Shirts 1980-2000 by collector and connoisseur DJ Ross One, which drops on Powerhouse in October. Promising hundreds of promo, bootleg and concert shirts representing Sugarhill, EPMD, the Wu, BDP, 2Pac and everyone else, the Screen Stars style cover art has me sold on it already. This kind of archive is my idea of heaven — if somebody gathers the rap promo sticker collection of an OG like Jules Gayton and publishes it, I’ll be in heaven. On the Scarface front, the impending existence of a 33 1/3 book completely dedicated to The Geto Boys, thanks to travel writer and New Yorker contributor Rolf Potts, is something to celebrate too.
This blog entry is approximately 27 hours late and an affront to my OCD inclinations. The real kicker is that it’s both tardy and pretty poorly thought-out too. In fact, the majority of it is given to images from an already well documented book that are — to add insult to injury — heavily watermarked too. What can I say? I slacked this week. I’m keen to get my hands on a full copy of Powerhouse’s ‘The Forty Deuce: The Times Square Photos of Bill Butterworth 1983-1984’ because it seems to be laden with strippers, pimps, b-boys and girls and plenty of other characters from the era. I grew up obsessed with b-movies from the time (as well as the classic ‘Times Square’) that depicted the area as a very scuzzy spot indeed, usually laden with offensive stereotypes of Puerto-Rican gents, complete with flick knives and bandanas and hookers berating the stray innocents who wandered into the area Butterworth depicts. Think ‘The Burning’s opening setup, ‘Fear City’ or ‘Basket Case.’ And while it looks grindhouse sketchy in Bill’s photos, there’s an evident sense of unity between crews, whether it’s sex shop workers, drag queens, dancers or anyone else who hung around there. The portraits are strong and the outfits are pretty spectacular, with plenty of posing. You know your swag is at a trillion when you can stunt in front of racks of gay porn (apologies to one-handed surfers who just found this blog through those words and were assailed with paragraphs, shoes and other geeky things) and still look gangster. That couple next to the ‘Beat Street’ (and ‘Strange Invaders’) display? Incredible. There’s plenty more information and imagery right here.
One of the few things that marred my pre-teen years as much as Belial in ‘Basket Case’ was David Lynch’s ‘The Grandmother.’ I always found that short infinitely more nightmarish than ‘Eraserhead.’ Lynch has a habit of tapping into the hallucinatory, claustrophobic essence of a nightmare situation. The car crash scene in ‘Wild At Heart’ troubles me deeply, but Robert Blake’s appearance in ‘Lost Highway’ is utterly unnerving. Blake’s real-life antics give his nameless character extra edge and the whole film remains underrated. Just as I found myself preoccupied with watching the film again, I wandered into Uniqlo and was faced with a ‘Lost Highway’ t-shirt as part of their David Lynch collection. Then I got the news that Universal are putting out pretty much every David Lynch film as a Blu-ray around June 4th. ‘Wild At Heart’ includes ‘The Grandmother’ as a special feature and I want to know what the “Four Intervalometer Experiments” that are on the ‘Lost Highway’ disc are. Even ‘Dune’ is part of the rollout. All this sudden activity around a film I hadn’t thought about for at least half a decade didn’t throw me as much as Bull Pullman talking to a man face-to-face who’s also miles away in his home, but it caught me off guard a little. Now Robert’s eyes and laugh are embedded in my mind all over again.
Retro isn’t going anywhere — right now somebody’s probably being kicked to the ground for a basketball shoe from 1997 — but the new wave is wildly on point. I’ve loved Nike’s Lunar pieces but the Undercover GYAKUSOU collection has done a good job of introducing me to shoes I wouldn’t have paid much attention too until they got some Terra-esque makeups. Zoom Structure+ 15? A serious shoe even though I hadn’t looked at Structures since the bestselling Structure II back in the early ’90’s. I loved the Lunar Elite+ but the Zoom Elite series looked like one of those ranges that was made for serious runners who’d sneer at anything aesthetically pleasing for its fanciness. Suddenly, with that transparent overlay and almost 180 style forefoot, the Zoom Elite+ 5 is a thing of beauty and this version highlights every key feature. The Terra Humara style colourway elevates these significantly and like the Structure choice, there’s a sense that Jun Takahashi isn’t hunting the hype vote with his footwear picks. Shouts to Nike UK fam for these — all I need now is a health scare to encourage me to run. All the gear, no idea is a mantra I live by.
Many blogs are either too frantic or too earnest for my tastes, but I really like The Obviously Uncommon. That’s because the man behind it, knows a lot about a lot of stuff and had a Doublegoose way before I ever did, but also because it celebrates the bargain hunter. There’s so much emphasis on matters of flossiness and conspicuous consumption, but shelling out full price or an eBay markup is a fast track to a hollow purchase. Bargains come with tales of exploration, disbelief and triumph. £25 Pendletons, wear tested Stone Island coats, Air Max Lights found in garages and 50p hats that are inexplicably big make this site my new favourite. Salutes to the enemies of RRP out there.
Dick Schaap:“How does it feel now you have the World Championship and you’re the best in the world at what you’ve devoted your life to? How does that feel inside?
Bobby Fischer: “It feels pretty good, yeah. I mean my goal now is to play a lot more chess. I feel I haven’t played enough chess.”
I just finished watching HBO’s ‘Bobby Fischer Against the World’ again. As a disclaimer, I haven’t got a clue how chess is played, nor do I have the patience or tactical mind to bother, but I’m fascinated by the Fischer mythos. Not to the point that I’ll defend his behaviour, but without attempting to justify his idiotic anti-Semitic views later in life, it’s probably safe to say that with his bizarre worldview, Bobby was on the cusp of sanity and susceptible to some nonsensical world views. Lest we forget, Bobby was Jewish.
To witness this reclusive legend in full babbling beard mode as Liz Garbus’s engrossing portrait concludes, wandering pond side in Reyjjavik with Dr Kari Stefansson who literally has to tell him to shut the fuck up to break his constant monologue on nuclear wars and conspiracy, proves that he was no malevolent eccentric, but a truly ill individual. It’s a squalid end for an enigma. But beyond that, the battle against the Russian, Boris Spassky that stays legendary. No amount of rants can tarnish that moment.
I recommend both ‘Bobby Fischer Against the World’ and the excellent book, ‘Bobby Fischer Goes to War’ by David Edmonds and John Edinow for a superior study of genius personified, bizarre antics and a paranoid grand master’s rise from child prodigy warped by his mother’s curious treatment of him at an early age, thrust (with a cash incentive) into a battle between east and west that included Henry Kissinger’s involvement and allegations of radioactive cheating. Bobby was a rockstar with that broad Brooklyn drawl, inadvertent showmanship from that Asperger’s style belligerence and obsession and aptitude for psychological warfare.
The film isn’t some cool teacher, “Hey! Chess can be fun!” affair, but a fast paced document of a time when the world stopped — from pressing matters in Vietnam to more conventional sporting events — at the press of that chess clock. As a supplement to Edmonds and Edinow’s book, it was great to finally see the footage of Bobby taking on a room of old masters as a bored-looking young boy, bugging out over camera sounds, bounding through airports and engaging in hotel room interviews with a curious mix of swagger and total unease.
While the documentary doesn’t delve into Bobby’s fascinating relationship with bodyguard Saemi Rock Palsson (you’re better off hunting down ‘Me & Bobby Fischer’ for that tale in full), Fischer’s humanity is revealed by Scottish LIFE photographer Harry Benson. Harry evidently had a curious chemistry with Fischer that meant he let him shoot him in some of his most private moments, including some comically solemn-faced workout sessions or blank-faced and exhausted in a series of temporary lodgings. Those images are captured in the Powerhouse release, ‘Bobby Fischer’ which gathers plenty of unpublished images of Bobby at work and play. Though more often, with that gaze, it seems that play was often work.
Harry’s work adds some evidence to tales of Fischer’s love of animals, with his rumoured affection visible during his outdoor shots in the Icelandic countryside. That’s a rare moment of seemingly non-calculated documented behaviour from the man around the time of the Spassky game in summer 1972. After victory, Bobby went to the hills rather than revelling in his win and did some wandering. It’s an ethereal moment in a troubled existence and Benson captures it perfectly. With the side-parting, knitwear and woven blankets, it’s like the best brand look book that never was, albeit one with more sensible slacks.
Watch the documentary, buy the books and take in this complex contemporary tragedy of warped integrity and the dangers of all-encompassing obsession. You at the back, accusing every rapper who breaks the Billboard chart of poorly researched Illuminati associations might want to pay particular attention and treat Mr. Fischer’s mental decline as a cautionary tale in how to go from lithe tactician to rotund berserker in just a few moves…
While we’re talking eccentrics, kudos to whoever uploaded this 1991 episode of ‘Pump it Up’ that’s extremely Biz Markie-centric, shown around the release of ‘I Need a Haircut’ with the amiable rap genius unaware of the legal shit storm on the horizon due to some uncleared samples. Quite fittingly, someone at Universal has blocked part 1 for some pointless legal reason that simply fuels Sendspace “purchases” over iTunes. Keep on fighting the good fight Universal.