Nothing much to report here right now because I’m fed up of the MacBook screen after transcribing two and a half hours of conversation. But here’s a couple of things I wrote for some friends who sell stuff — a short piece on the Stüssy Tribe for MR PORTER (that 1990 CUTiE spread above stays gold) and a bit on the Converse One Star (one of my favourite shoes ever — there’s something a bit longer written for another outlet on the same subject too) for size? Two subjects dear to my heart that crossed over with each other too (as evidenced in the UK newspaper supplement that showcased a couple of pairs on Shawn’s fireplace back in 1993).
There’s nothing wrong with clothing for the sake of clothing, but the whole concept of streetwear needs a little more behind it. Without any cultural foundations or actual patronage at street level it’s pretty much kidswear for adults, which is why there’s so many terrible items out there. Nowadays a brand co-signing a digital download is part of the plan and seeing Palace’s recent vinyl foray with Theo Parrish reminded me of the Stüssy record that Alex Turnbull and co were responsible for in 1991— this was a tie-in with the STUPID BIG OL’ MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL STUSSY TRIBE in Tokyo and Michael Kopelman informed be that this event was attended by Leigh Bowery and Michael Clark after a chance encounter during that trip and that the evening involved Afrika Islam bum rushing the stage during a performance by The Afros (whose album Kickin Afrolistics will be recognisable to any cheapskates who spent the early 1990s sifting through bargain buckets). The same bin dippers will recognise the name Jamalski from his BDP connections and the Ruffneck Reality album.
After a recent conversation on this subject, Alex kindly gave me a copy of the 1st Tribal Vinyl Gathering of the IST 12″, with Shawn’s handstyle on the label. This Dope Promotional Fly Copy isn’t an obscurity and is easily obtainable for not very much, but it’s an interesting part of the Stüssy story — there’s a link to one of the tracks with Tokyo attendee Jamalski here. I’m guessing that it this project was pretty Ronin-affiliated. It’s an interesting addition to some of Shawn Stüssy’s art direction on record covers from the same era — the 1990 Malcolm McLaren World Famous Supreme Team Show album (which blew my mind as a kid by connecting Stüssy to the British Airways commercial that used Operaa House) and the confusing incarnation of Big Audio Dynamite (were BAD the first group to homage Scarface with the No. 10, Upping Street cover?) that seemed to ditch the old band entirely, but got Sipho the Human Beatbox (RIP) involved and recruited Shawn for the artwork for 1991’s BAD II release, The Globe. It’s interesting that both Malcolm and Mick were Brits, reinforcing the Stüssy brand’s connection with the UK.
It’s nearly Christmas and — if you recall this blog’s content from Christmases past, you might recall the hate filled lists I used to drop here. I thought about doing one again, but the blog world is already full of folks getting all cynical despite being as obsessed with emperor’s new clothes as much as the next person, so it doesn’t need me doing it too. I think much of what I wrote in previous entries stands anyway — the world is at least 15% more corny and easily impressed than it seemed to be in late 2011. But why piss on people’s picnics? Plus, much of the work i contribute to every day is hardly firing on all cylinders, so I’m not in the position to take potshots right now. It’s still fun to fire off a few though, even if they backfire.
Just because you’re a pro skater and you’re meant to be all artistic and expressive automatically means that you get to contribute to art shows with some lo-fi photography or a nosebleed on a canvas. It also means you get to start a brand as a passion project, which may or may not be utterly unremarkable. If you’re Geoff Rowley, that brand will be awesome and you’ll spend more time punching people in the face for talking shit, making your own jerky and shooting guns in a canyon. CivilWare, launched in the summer, didn’t catch my attention the first time around, because it just seemed to be another simple tee line. The current store inventory includes coffee beans, an axe made with Base Camp X, paper shooting targets and a custom-made knife with Anza Knives. Because it’s Rowley-affiliated, you know that he puts this kind of thing to use, rather than this being some self-aware attempt to reassert masculinity in the era of organic produce and hurt feelings on social media. I’m looking forward to seeing what CivilWare does next.
Here’s a brief Shawn Stüssy interview from 1992 that calls him the “Urban Armani” and includes him shouting out Brand Nubian and discussing the brand’s expansion plans. it’s no the most in-depth discussion, but it belongs here for completist’s sake.
Shouts to Joerg at 032c for letting me write some end of year shoe-related stuff for their site. Getting to big up Olympus Has Fallen onsuch a prestigious platform was quite a privilege.
Whoever decided to switch up “dog” for “gun” in this Timberland newspaper ad from the 1980s makes this promotion more memorable. Timbs beat guns — anyone who ever had that outsole imprinted on their face or chest and lived to tell the tale can concede that it probably beats a bullet in the assault stakes.
While we’re talking axes and weaponry, just like Bad Santa, Home Alone, Gremlins, Father Ted, Scrooged and A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Tales From the Crypt episode And All Through the House is a Christmas necessity — you can see the original EC comic story here (don’t read it if you haven’t watched it yet) and the shorter British adaptation starring Joan Collins from the 1972 film Tales From the Crypt is here. Larry Drake is terrifying in the 1989 version and Fred Dekker and Robert Zemeckis do great things with the source material. I hope Santa brings all of you what you want and doesn’t arrive in the shape of an escaped psychopath…
Whenever I’m busy elsewhere, that’s when this blog degenerates into a load of late 1980’s or early 1990’s magazine content thefts to tide me over. This is no exception. I’ve been lost in the Thrasher archives, where covers between 1981 and 1988 seem to be accompanied by the actual content of the issue too. I took that as an opportunity to post every Stüssy ad I could. Then after stealing the images from the Thrasher.com site, I realised that the good folks of Skately.com had already done it for their tremendous ad archive, but I decided to throw them up here regardless. The Stüssy ads are something that had a huge effect on me growing up, depicting something different to the surf mag-centric ads that went before and introducing me to the brand through an aspirational existence rather than guiding my eyes towards any actual apparel. The marketing might have looked lo-fi, but it’s clear that Shawn Stüssy wasn’t just inspired by the logos of some high fashion empires, but studied the power of their marketing too. It might explain the homage to Bruce Weber – the man who defined both Ralph and Calvin’s idealised worldviews — in early 1990’s campaigns, and Juergen Teller’s involvement with the brand that decade assisted in bringing street and high fashion worlds together.
That self-assured aesthetic had me preoccupied in ‘Thrasher’s from 1987 to 1988 (the selection below ran between 1986 to 1988) when I used to get issues of that and ‘Transworld Skateboarding’ (inferior but way thicker during the skate boom) a month late for 75p in a St Neots skate shop/toy store. It didn’t matter that they were old, because it still felt progressive in my hometown. Those Metro Attitude Lows (there were a lot of adidas shoes in those shots) in the ads that I believe were shot by Shawn himself, with Ron Leighton shooting the 1986 images, felt naturalistic, whether it was some Laguna Beach looking individuals, the StüYork Tribe, with some familiar faces, or a cameo from Fishbone’s Chris Dowd. When I went to hunt it down round my way, I just found bootleg pendants alongside knockoff swoosh jewelry in a High Street store. That wasn’t even close to the magic realm those ads sold me. There’s too much in those ‘Thrasher’ back issues.
On early 1990’s trips to London I used to gaze at the mysterious Stüssy tape in stores like Bond. What was on it? Skate footage? I never had the money to pick it up and I had a concern that it might be one of those NTSC tapes that wouldn’t play on a UK player. Released in June 1992, Stüssy Vol #1 packaging promised “A Phat Phunky Loose collage of how we’re Livin’…C-Y-A” My fears about whether it would play were wrong – directed by the late, great James Lebon, it was pretty UK-centric down to the roll call of UK stockists at the end. Some are still going, while others are long gone. There’s plenty of pioneers in the building and it extended that desire to get that tribal existence into moving pictures. Profiling and posing to a Ronin records soundtrack in an assortment of hats looks appealing. Shouts to Roark74 for upping it onto YouTube.
On the mystery tape front, found footage flicks are usually an excuse for a Poundland budget and wooden attempts at acting natural. For every ‘Troll Hunter’ there’s a hundred post-‘Blair Witch Project’ trips to a murder house that’s not worth your energy. Even ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ — the daddy of them all — is barely watchable, despite being a cult favourite. Killing animals for shock factor is some low bahaviour. Still, at least that movie at least projected some doom. Lost tapes and faux haunting or exorcism documentations are a a curious phenomenon that are often much more cynical and pointless than that hated-on slew of post ‘Saw’ Achilles tendon slashers.
I’m interested in ‘V/H/S’ though, turning found footage into an anthology horror flick with a wraparound story. My love of Amicus productions, ‘Creepshow’ and ‘Grim Prairie Stories’ means I need to watch any multiple story horror, but the fact it’s helmed by young directors, including Joe Swanberg (and I have to concede that I haven’t enjoyed any of his films yet, despite their frequent sex scenes) and David Bruckner (whose ‘The Signal’ wasn’t as good as I expected it to be) gives it a contemporary point of difference. Despite my misgivings with the young directors and their earlier work, the time limitations of the anthology should minimise tedium, and I trust the critics who’ve been giving it a good buzz. Plus the promo posters (see below) were intriguing. With so much nostalgia in this blog entry it’s nice to report that one segment of the film is apparently entirely Skype conversation based and with BloodyDisgusting.com‘s Brad Miska as a producer, it’s evidently a very 21st century bunch of horror stories, despite the obsolete format it’s themed around.
I was slow with the ‘Thrasher’ archive and I was slow with the DJ History’s ‘Catch the Beat: The Best of Soul Underground 1987-91’ book. The culture of fanzine compilation is a beautiful thing — so much isn’t electronically retained and opinions then as opposed to today’s altered history as spread by nostalgia junkies like me and their second-hand smoke creates a culture of misinformation. It’s better to hear it from the paper sources for whom ad money loss wasn’t necessarily a concern. Tim Westwood in shades and the revelation that, “His favourite records are Rammel Zee, Be Bop (Sic) and Spoonie Gee, Spoonie’s Rap” is excellent, but there’s plenty more gold in those pages.
I’m on holiday, so I’m taking a holiday from even attempting to make anything in this blog entry particularly cohesive. I forgot it was Wednesday, so I’m just chucking the contents of the tabs on Chrome and what’s in my Gmail up here — I hope it’s sufficient. Anyway, you shouldn’t even be here — you should be on Egotripland reading this piece on the making of the ‘Lil’ Ghetto Boy’ video.
One of the most interesting things I’m currently looking at is Will Robson-Scott (the man behind the lens on ‘Crack & Shine’ 1 and 2) and James Pearson-Howes’s ‘Top Deck’ project with Mother and London clothing brand Utile (all London everything) of images shot from the top deck of London buses. Having spent more hours than I’d liked to have spent gawping from double deckers down at London, the traffic choked leisurely pace has given me some interesting perspectives of the city and the behaviour of those who dwell in it. It’s a shame that I’m usually too irate to appreciate them, but Will and James’s images should resonate with any of us who aren’t stupid or rich enough to attempt to navigate it by car.
Launching as an exhibition downstairs at Mother (Leonard Street) on Thursday and being printed and collated in a newspaper format, ‘Top Deck’ celebrates a ubiquitous but oft-squandered view. Two years of dreary journeys documented is proof that we take our surroundings for granted and if I didn’t only use buses over the underground in a hapless attempt to save time, meaning I’m too agitated to relax and just absorb the overhead view. At least the Routemaster (and the new reworking of it) offers more scope to get lost in a flight of fantasy than the curious tension — of wild-eyed fidgeting loners, screwfacing women having to stand with a pushchair and sweating fare dodgers — that’s present on each and every bendy bus. Go grab the publication here or attend the exhibition and grab it while you’re there, but make sure to check out the tie-in Tumblr.
What could be more British than staring from a bus? How about a mug made to commemorate a UK hip-hop favourite? Like a ‘Fat Lace’ joke made physical, the ‘Serve Tea Then Murder’ mug from Style Warrior sees the makers of tie-in Brit rap merchandise with the nod from the referenced artists and labels shift from cotton to glazed ceramics. It started as forum banter, but now Style Warrior is taking pre-orders on them. Brilliantly at odds with the po-faced, harder than hardcore content of the record, the 1991 Music of Life release provides the no-nonsense imagery and lettering here. Consume enough caffeine from it and you too can be a No Sleep Nigel. While plenty of Britcore releases leave me a little cold in 2012, creations like this hot drink receptacle remind me of the kind of mad merchandise I’ve seen in Tokyo hip-hop outlets over the years.
In fact, the quest for the Sophnet Nike ACG Mt. Fuji jacket from ’07 in an XL led me to hero and all-round nice guy, DJ Muro’s King Inc. site and its Diggermart pages again. But I’ve blogged about them a couple of times before. What caught my eye was the bizarre key charm from Lil ‘ Limo in association with Muro and for Warp Magazine’s birthday last year. ‘Sesame Street’s Elmo in multiple colours with a ‘King of Diggin’ tape and 45 attached? Why the fuck not? Only in Tokyo could something like this exist, yet it sits alongside the Elmo that Raekwon cradled for Supreme, or Agallah’s ‘Crookie Monster’ as a strange piece of Jim Henson hip-hop tie-in. Anyone else remember the official Cookie Monster DJ Muro sweat with the crazed creature munching on vinyl. Nobody got quite as sick with the hip-hop imports as Japan did, and I’m preoccupied with the footage — from the ‘Wild Style’ tour to that eye opening 1994 Yo! episode where Fab 5 Freddy returned and did his awkward language barrier thing to look at amazing record stores, and beyond.
While we’re talking YouTube videos, every Onyx video between 1992 and 2002 is on there as a compilation in cleaned-up quality, plus the Bad Brains CBGB show from Christmas Eve, 1982 in better quality than the hundredth generation VHS look of most hardcore show documents from that era.
And for the sake of it, here’s a Shawn Stüssy interview from ‘Spin’s December 1991 issue. It’s not the most enlightening feature, but it was available and this blog entry’s lacking, so I upped it.