Recycled material from the hard drive today, with a Tyson-centric theme incited by talk of Roy Jones Jr. scheming a bout with Kimbo Slice, thus devaluing boxing to the point where it might as well involve kangaroos like a 1950s British fairground. If I had my way, the majority of posts here would involve Kid Dynamite anyway. ‘Spin’s January 1991 meeting between LL Cool J (on the back of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’) and a post Douglas-defeat Tyson is excellent. The “Neither of them have ever heard of Morrissey” line in the intro is a nice start and the topics discussed are pleasantly incendiary, linking boxing and hip-hop and scattering it with a few choice bits of trivia along the way. It’s a bit like classic ‘Source’ meets ‘Playboy’ in terms of content. The ‘Wild, Wild Haircut Craze’ piece from a 1989 ‘Ebony’ uses Mike’s ‘Killer 1’ cut as the starting point to talk step-up flattops and “channel cuts.” The images of Tyson (wearing a Fila track top) and Ali, Tyson being congratulated by Eddie Murphy (who’s at a career point between the mild flop of ‘Another 48 Hours’ and the resurrection that was ‘Boomerang’) and an older shot of Mike proving that espadrilles are for players if you’re built like a brick shithouse and wear a chunky anklet with them. TOMS wearers are still bellends though.
Too much copywriting and staggered website relaunches has stomped out any semblance of cohesion between the topics included in this post. They were all worthy of inclusion so they got included. It’s not even another one of those top 10 blogs you drop when you’re running low on ideas, but can cobble 10 minor things together – it’s even more tenuous than that. Still, it’s sunday, and sunday is a blog day, so something’s got to go up. So today it’s Tyson, Morrissey, undershirts, Neneh Cherry, carphones, Larry Holmes, more t-shirts and dear old Malcolm Mclaren.What links them all? Nothing. They’re going up regardless.
Since the homie Waz mentioned that ESPN is killing it with the 30 For 30 season of documentaries (‘The U’ is particularly outstanding), HBO’s hyped new offerings have had to lean back in the download schedule. One of the best pieces of commissioning, and with Levi’s helping bankroll the project, one of the most credible pieces of sponsorship, it’s absorbed the weekend. Reggie trash talking against the Knicks, yayo killing hoop dreams, Iverson’s divisive jail time, bands without teams, defunct leagues with the trump money….fascinating. Being late to the TV party again, the ‘Mohammad and Larry’ film, built around a scrapped documentation of the 1980 bout from Albert Maysles who brought us ‘Gimme Shelter’ ‘Grey Gardens’ and ‘Salesman’ is the anti ‘When We Were Kings’ and an absolute classic. The footage of the perennially underrated, and oft-media unfriendly Larry Holmes in a cheerier mood giving his wife a heads-up about the impending camera crew with a bulky carphone setup is worth your time.
But that was broadcast in October – what’s on the horizon? Reggie Rock Bythewood’s ‘One Night In Vegas’, charting the events of September 7th 1996 as Tyson took on Bruce Seldon, and 2Pac met his maker. While any personal interest in ‘Pac’s output took a swan dive at the bloated ‘All Eyez On Me’ his story and Mike associations are interesting. From a glut of straight-to-disc 2Pac cash in films none stood out bar the big budget ‘2Pac Resurrection’ and there’s been too few solid Tyson documentaries bar Toback’s masterpiece. The fact that Reggie directed the deeply shitty ‘Biker Boyz’ might create some skepticism, but hopefully production yielded some new footage of Shakur and Tyson in swagger mode.
The other personal fixation at the moment is undershirts. Jean Touitou had folks looking at dirt cheap JC Penney chambrays with excitement after singing their praises, but can we also spare a little time for their Stafford line of undershirts? As a freak who can’t wear a shirt without a shirt beneath it, they’re a necessity. Non-transparent, some Stafford pieces like the Performance line are the Hanes Beefy-T of concealed white garments, while the mid-weights are a little better for the summer. This site goes deep. Waaaaaaaaay deeper than anything here. Just check out those undershirt reviews.
On the tee topic, Malcolm Mclaren’s son Joe Corré’s Humanade initiative unleashed the ultimate Malcolm tribute garment. If you ever watched Mclaren’s fly posting show tune moment in ‘The Great Rock N Roll Swindle’ and wanted the shirt he flashes at the very end, it’s been put out to raise money for human rights issues. Seeing as the great man’s final words were reputedly in support of the incarcerated Leonard Peltier and his questionable treatment at trial, and that’s where some proceeds are heading, it makes even more sense.
Can we just have a few extra seconds to pay homage to Annabelle Lwin? She still looks beautiful, but that 1983 look could work in the present day, now even the most corporate artistes are play-acting the whole avant-garde steelo.
if Pete Waterman’s Diamond D affiliations (ask your mum) didn’t earmark him as a curious culture straddling mogul, how about his involvement with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the team behind Buffalo pop duo Morgan McVey? That links him to DJ Milo and, as the interview in the new i-D attests, Shin from Neighborhood was involved during their Japanese tour. 1986’s ‘Looking Good Diving’ (covered by Nick Kamen in 1990) is notable despite being a bit Scritti Politti light, for putting another childhood crush (alongside Annabelle), Neneh Cherry, in the video. It didn’t stop there, someone called in the Wild Bunch to drop a remix – ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ with Neneh (who married Cameron McVey) dropping some verses that are eerily similar to 1988’s ‘Buffalo Stance’ – it actually appears that SAW were behind much of that record’s DNA with all credit going to Tim Simenon. ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ is pretty crappy, but here’s a minute of it anyway…
After mentioning Tim Simenon, it’s worth mentioning that Sony have upped a good quality version of James Lebon’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ – full of Stussy tribalism, Jordan IIIs, shoe shots and Fila. Truly aspirational material for a smalltown 10 year old.
For no reason other than because it’s a great video, this Morrissey promo’s getting upped here too. Stephen and his boys do the whole vintage look better than you right here, filmed back in 1992, even if his output now is as mediocre as it was in 1997 prior to a hefty hiatus.
Folk can argue about his politics all they like – the liberator/dictator argument pertaining to South America has raged all my lifetime, but I find Edwin Valero’s fandom of Venezuelan president for life, Hugo Chávez, kind of enduring. as a fan of bad sporting tattoos, and having been introduced to the bestselling ‘Chavecito‘ (‘Little Chávez’) toy when Edwin waved a Chávez doll after a victory over Honmo nearly three years ago, I was in awe of his decision to really go to town and get some Hugo ink early last year. On the arm? Not visible enough.
Mike Tyson* may expressed interest in a Chávez piece to sit alongside his Che portrait, but even he, with his questionable thought process when it comes to going under the needle, would have baulked at a full Venezuela flag in red, blue and yellow, ‘Venezuela de Verdad‘ (‘True Venezuela’) in script above it, and, requiring explanation, or possibly guessable, given the imagery behind it, his friend and idol’s mugshot across the chest. It’s safe to say that Edwin Valero really likes Hugo Chávez.
It’s pretty bad. The colours look felt-tipped in. Technically, it would be the worst tattoo in boxing history, were it not for the likes of Cotto, Mads Larsen or Scotland’s Ricky Burns festooning themselves in regrettable tribal crap. That’s not the point. This this piece sends a powerful rebel message that may, or may not have caused USA visa issues (though that could be his out-the-ring antics catching up with him too). That’s something interesting.
By marking himself for life, Edwin assures himself of hero patriot status back home; a real-life superhero, and embodiment of the ‘new’ Venezuela. HBO have come down on advertisers using fighters as walking billboards lately, but you can’t miss the message Edwin’s carrying. It’s a serious act of commitment. Valero’s far from the first Venezuelan fighter of note, and critics have accused Hugo of killing the country’s rich fighting heritage. To counteract this, he’s reportedly closing some golf courses for being too bourgeois to develop what he perceives the national sport to be. Valero’s convincing victory over DeMarco at the weekend proved there’s more to him than mere power, which certainly doesn’t stop haters from wanting him beaten – again, that pro-commie tattoo baits the opposition in bombastic style. A mooted light-welterweight bout with Timothy Bradley could be incredible, and the pre-fight debate should be fascinating.
South American fighters representing Cuba have been well treated by Castro. Being pro-coup can get you a mansion, as Félix Savón and Teófilo Stevenson discovered. according to ‘Sports Illustrated,’ Panama’s Roberto Duran was asked to speak to Cuba’s leader in the late ’70s and managed to blow it. I heard he lived there just pre-retirement, but the phonecall didn’t go too well,
“The fighter had just had a call from General Omar Torrijos, the President of Panama, who was visiting Cuba. Fidel Castro wanted very much to meet Duran. “I told him to go ahead,” Eleta said, “but I warned him, as I always do, not to get involved in politics. I told him to be careful of what he said.”
Pledging to be discreet, Duran flew to Havana, where all went smoothly—at first. And then Castro mentioned Teofilo Stevenson, the Cuban two-time Olympic heavyweight champion. “What would you think of a fight between Stevenson and Muhammad Ali for the world title?” Castro asked.
The question didn’t sound political to Duran. “Don’t be crazy,” he said. ” Ali would kill him.”
“Adios” Fidel said.”
I don’t pretend to know much on tattoo history. I’ll leave that to my friend Mr. Nick Schonberger. It’s still entertaining to see boxing working hard to reinforce itself as a sport after so many controversies, and tattooing pushed as a real artform, only for all the amassed intentions to come undone when the two mix. Riddick had his kids on his flesh, there’s no end of traditional glove motives discreetly applied, as well as the obligatory religious iconography blandly executed. Nigel Benn’s peculiar star back piece is worthy of mention too. Now no fight is complete without some ill-advised ink on display – Diego Corrales has plenty of bad work, Winky Wright’s ‘Winky’ piece is funny, Manny’s seem well-intentioned but atrocious, Barrera’s rose is atrocious, Kermit Cintrón’s dog image on his back is goofy.
The successes arise when fighters really go for broke – Archak ‘Shark Attack’ Termeliksetian’s Shark-nipple interface? Johnny Tapia’s ‘Mi Vida Loca’ Catholic chest piece? Louis Collazo’s entire torso? Incredible – it even seems to include the Kraken from ‘Clash of the Titans’ as part of a religious good/evil scene. Kessler’s tribal touches border on a failure, yet the cartoonish viking reaching around his back give him the fearsome look that was presumably the intention, but it pales next to the previous trio. For sheer attention-seeking, Edwin still takes the belt for most madcap tattoo in the sport – no mean feat.
*MMA fighter Paulo Filho has a rendition of Mike on his arm. It looks very little like Kid Dynamite, more like some racist propaganda from the Jim Crow era. However, Paulo offsets this with the ill pitbull million dollar bill stomach piece he rocked post-rehab.
Edit – This Chris Isenberg interview by A Silent Flute’s Nat Thomson is worth your time.
Somebody make it stop. More PR blurb bouncing from blog to blog like a paragraphic echo over a 48 hour period, with loving descriptions of leather goods and other such gentlemanly matters, and the new spurt of non-groundbreaking sites pointlessly telling you how to dress in a shirt and a nice coat could have someone reaching for the Baxter of California Double Edged Safety Razor with thoughts of an afterlife. Did some kind of poison gas leak causing mass delusions of stylist-credentials? Saddled with information to the point of apathy, stockpile your Rogue Status and Campbells tins, lock yourself away and pray for the next coming of the all-over print. Seriously, it’s no less excruciating from the outside looking in than those dark days. The “cool kids” are putting a time-limit on timeless. Yet some lines get slept-on in hypesville, but just keep on bringing it in terms of solid product, intelligently executed – like No Mas.
American sports that aren’t pugilistic can be a tough global traveller, undeniably exciting, but so steeped in stats and history, that they can prove impenetrable to an outsider looking in. The gear, megabudgets, the lurid presentation, glamour and frequent rap references make it hugely appealing though. There’s an aspirational quality to US sporting activities, from seeing Lil’ Wayne in human ESPN mode to the humble sweat in a generous jock cut. No Mas embrace sport culture, and at a global level, in all its forms. Scandal, rap references, the next generation, true legends treated with non-ironic reverence…all of it.
Like the west coast’s UNDFTD, always consistent on the design front, team No Mas channel their locale’s legacy, attitude and aesthetic perfectly. They had gems on Digital Gravel, but during a trip to the Union sample sale in L.A, where Chris Gibbs knew what time it was with the sample Stussy world tour varsity at £44 in UK money, seeing the No Mas ‘Former Champion’ project in the flesh, instantly created a No Mas fan. The brand’s name, seemingly riffing on the second Duran and Sugar Ray bout was cool, but stitching disgraced sportsmen’s names on the back of US-made Champion Reverse Weaves and hand stitching ‘Former’ before that familiar lettering felt like the fruits of a high-five laden bar conversation brought to life. They even added their spin on the original Champion tag. Now that’s dedication. The Dee and Ricky assisted collection of bags made from old ‘Starter’ jackets, retitled ‘Finisher’ was clever too.
For the most part, we tend to skirt around the sporting origins of those grey fleece garments you’re rocking now by looking too close under the microscope (guilty as charged here your honour) at the direction of the stitch, the collar the cut and the authenticity or recreation rather than the utilitarian reason for being of, say, a sweatshirt, or a t-shirt…dwelling on day-to-day lifestyle instead of ever breaking a sweat seems to lose sight of the bigger picture. Chris Isenberg and Dan Larzelere founded the brand in 2004 based on pure passion for the subject matter, and the No Mas brand has grown into a media outlet too, whose updates are always worth your time – more on that later. Oh yeah – have a look at their guest-edited Frank151 from a few years back too for the ‘Illustrated History of Recreational Drugs in Sports.’
Like Supreme, the tracking down of relevant figures and official licensing dodges the cheapo pitfalls that left most streetwear brands floundering a few years back – currently, their use of the Wiffle Ball licence (an item recently marvelled over by a limey contingent in a Cleveland-based Dick’s store for its striking logo) on tees looks great, a collection of Ali shirt reproductions in association with Worn Free that aren’t tainted with the Superdry-style wack of so many other cotton garments bearing the man’s name, shirts dedicated to stubborn refusals to accept new ground names, and their sponsorship of Golden Gloves winning heavyweight Tor Hamer means tie-in gear too. Even after recent events, it’s tough to beat a ‘TYSON VS. GIVENS’ lettered zip-up.
The haymaker in the collection is the hookup with Everlast NY, and the reproduction of the EVERLAST NY t-shirt worn by the legendary Floyd Patterson during training. This isn’t bullshit nostalgia – this is a labour of love, seemingly made for the handful who know the deal with both fighter, and a legendary brand. It’s a shame it seemed to go under the radar, as it’s one of the most perfectly executed collaborative creations in some time.
Before this blog entry hops off the dick, back to the visual treats; the No Mas ‘Rumblevision’ project let James Blagden, David Rathman and Jerome Lagarrigue interpret key elements of the “Rumble In The Jungle” through animation. Victory is celebrated as often as misbehaviour in Isenberg and Larzelere’s world, but even the most non-sporting can appreciate Blagden’s visual interpretation of Dock Ellis’s LSD-addled antics. Seriously, just check out their YouTube channel. If you were a fan of ‘Ben Younger’s fine debut, ‘Boiler Room’ aka. ‘Wall Street’ with added O.C. on the soundtrack, watch his ‘Hammer Of Tor’ Hamer documentary for Playboy TV in association No Mas. If your boss calls you up on it, just say you were clicking on it for the sporting documentaries.
A blog entry that’s purely visual today because I’m lazy like that. Plus it allows a follow-up of sorts to my last entry, which seemed 60% preoccupied with ’80s boxing without this site becoming little more than a bunch of disperate pugilism-themed missives. It’s easy to deify the matter-of-fact main event and undercard listings of fight posters from earlier in the 20th century, with their densely columned mass of names, prices and occasional boasts of prowess, plus some killer typography, but I was raised in the Don King and Frank Warren ruled time when the heavyweights like Tyson, Berbick and Holmes, and middleweights as powerful as Duran and Hagler entertained.