Dick Jewell is a gem in the pantheon of legendary British photographers and filmmakers. Resolutely uncommercial (even his commercial work maintains a sense of subversion), Jewell prefers to create work on his own terms — a vast archive that spans found photo booth shots and club scenes that are long extinct. He’s still as fascinated by the literal movements within movements, clusters of outsiders, tribes and the barely documented. Finally grabbing Hysteric Glamour’s compilation of his work from 2001 sent me to his website, with a great little archive of his video work — Notting Hill Carnival 83 > 86 and Skins are incredible. I’d love to see the Spats film in its entirety too. Before everyone had a camera in their pocket (and I’m sure we’re missing something regardless), Dick was there capturing this superior Super 8 footage for posterity.
I don’t want to hate things – it’s just in my DNA. I’m British. If it’s successful and we’re not getting a piece of the pie — or if it’s different — that’s grounds for hatred. Hate’s such a strong term too, thrown about by the kind of people who would shake the object of their hatred’s hand face-to-face, but call them a prick behind their back. Most of the time, I don’t actually hate something — I’m usually responding to middling things that I’m ambivalent about with a half-hearted negativity that’s not nearly as potent as hatred should be.
It’s an unhealthy thing to carry around, yet it awakens a certain build-em-up-then-talk-shit patriotism in me. Overexposure to the internet and underexposure to the real world can breed it — the internet for example is 30% porn, 10% rap tweet reactions, 10% eBay and Amazon, 10% Mediafire and 40% mechanically reconstituted Hypebeast and Selectism masquerading as “LIFESTYLE MAGAZINES.” That’s filler’s some solid hate fodder. Historically, British youth culture was a hotbed of hate. Individuals bitch, but group them and fuel their tribal instincts, and it can lead to fisticuffs.
Mods, Skins, Teds and Punks were frequent foes despite the stylistic crossovers and behavioural similarities and it’s good to see Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders’s BRITISH REMAINS line pay tribute to the joys of sloganeering, a post-war history of working class style and inter-gang attitude. For the record, I feel greater animosity towards the typified contemporary incarnation of the mod more than the other three — skins seemed to merge some mod and ted swagger and in its picture postcard form, punk feels like the bastard son of all three previous looks. Why would a mod be wearing the ‘60s uniform if they were authentically mod in spirit?
The Camden mohawkers with the Exploited-style do’s have become the nonconformists again through their unwillingness to change from the early ‘80s fad and skins have had such bad press through supposed racist associations that to dress in the skin style could bring them trouble and there’s a joy in seeing the fifty and sixty-something teds who saw no point in any other way of dressing. But mods? I suppose the real mods are the ones that you wouldn’t even recognise as a mod now, bar the attention to the details that are strictly for those in the know. The Weller-ites with their target logos were presumably never cool in the first place.
It’s always fun to write stuff for BRITISH REMAINS because I can enjoy those flashbacks to A-level Sociology and Dick Hebdige’s work. Plus seeing my babbling words typed is a more exciting experience than the usual flat fonts, SEO friendly structures or compromises to copy-paste.
On the font subject, I finally got my hands on a copy of the last Rig Out magazine last week, where Glenn and the team printed my Polo article on four pages that, combined, are the size of a small apartment. Andy Bird’s design is amazing.
Team Proper’s new issue is top too. The writing and content in the new issue is impeccable. The ’20 Albums You Don’t Own But Should,’ Private White V.C.’ competition, Our Legacy interview (the Ethnic Arrow shirt is great) and the Robert Wade-Smith interview is worth your time, taken from that ‘Northern Monkeys’ book that seems to have been in development forever. I love Proper Magazine.
After publishing deals fell through, friend of Proper, Mr. James Brown (via his Sabotage Times site) and adidas Originals have allied to put out the compilation of fabled fanzine ‘The End’ just as DjHistory put out the ‘Boy’s Own’ book a short while ago. The book’s available to order now and looks like it’s a Sabotage-only purchase. There’s no substitute for accounts at the time rather than the retrospective tint when it comes to casual culture. While it was a far glossier an accessible proposition, I’d like to see a good compendium of ‘The Face’s greatest sub-culture articles too.
‘The Face’ prompts memories of religiously consuming ‘Sky,’ iD’ from WH Smiths and ‘The Word’ and ‘Passengers’ on Channel 4. I once wrote about the Chilly Tee/Nike segment on here, but the video was pulled down, but The Word Obsessed has upped plenty of golden yoof’ TV moments. Maligned at the time, I maintain that it was a necessary lifeline for us provincial types. This clip from early 1994 is a great TV moment. Could Terry Christian’s voiceover be any snider?
And here’s John Lydon showing off his Jordan Vs with a Bart Simpson hanging off them in 1991.
Some kind soul also upped ‘Subway Cops and the Mole Kings’ from 1996, which I caught in an impaired state as a youngster on Channel 4 and assumed was lost forever.
Banks Violette channels the doomier side of youth culture nicely with his pop-art-takes-a-death-dive aesthetic. The immersive nature and emphasis on thrashy, sludgy sonic assistance, plus the sheer scale of his works is always worth the detour. NOWNESS — a site that has the rare ability to grab my fractured attention span with an uncluttered sense of focus — just upped a video interview with him.
What’s happening with Meatwagon (contrarians can keep on jocking brioche buns, bone marrow and an abundance of foliage elsewhere, but it’s still the best burger in the UK) after it leaves the Peckham Rye in a week’s time? The www.meatliquor.com site with a mysterious 111111 doesn’t give too much away, but there’s a central London Meatwagon-spinoff opening soon that’s currently recruiting. Central seems to be getting exciting again.
I’m surprised that people still try to shill CDs on street corners internationally in the MP3 era, but what’s the alternative? USBs in novelty crack vials? Waka Flocka Flame’s new mixtape however, warrants a physical purchase just to gawp at the insane cover art. I spend an inordinate amount of time on www.mixtapewall.com looking at artwork, but www.f16artsworldwide.com and their work for Lebron Flocka James is crazy. They seem to be tight with Trap-a-holics and are also the facilitators of Juicy J and Lex Luger’s bar-geeked vision. In a world where cover art is no longer a main feature, I salute the minds still throwing the kitchen sink onto a 12cm by 12cm surface and these guys seem to capture the gunshots, wild boasts and relentless drops of the most prolific mixtape practitioners with ease. Just when you thought Pen & Pixel’s spirit or Phunky Phat Graph-X (RIP Tracy Underwood)’s excesses couldn’t be topped, someone is trippy enough to put their whole crew in a cup of purple drank. That right there is why I still love hip-hop.