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CLOTHES

Another MacBook is unleashing the spinning wheel, so I’m using an Acer that doesn’t have PhotoShop and doesn’t seem to want to accept the card from my camera. So you can make do with over stylised, untrustworthy Instagram shots with the filters that make terrible things look acceptable. I’m grateful that as yet, no magic haze has made writing look much better, though we hobbyist copywriters were hit by nobody actually reading anything over two sentences any more and people trying to tell us to write with Google in mind, so I think we’re all equally screwed by social media in 2012. I visited Jacket Required on Friday and got to wander around a tradeshow devoid of men who look like Zucchero and the guy from Nightcrawlers wielding multiple Wrangler and Superdry goodie bags. There were plenty of beige and camo things on display, plus lots of people seemed to be doing animal printed Y’OH-alikes without Kara’s reference points, but highlights came from Wood Wood’s technical-looking, sporty stuff, Our Legacy’s athletic pieces and Soulland’s Versace faux house of Soulland style sweats.

Lots of colour, lots of embroidery and a look of diffusion line that should set of something in the head of multiple generations who grew up desperate to amass labels. Soulland make beautiful, brilliant clothes and Silas Adler just gets it – I would have thought this brand was amazing for collaborating with Jacob Holdt a few years back, but for continually evolving, surely it’s due to blow up imminently? The orange sweat in particular had me bugging out the most. The blogs are about to go wild for technical apparel (which only a handful of factories in the world can execute properly) and food, but these sweats hit the sweet spot between older brother wear nostalgia and simply being bold and brilliant and confident in those tonal embroideries. US men’s magazines are all over Scandinavia at the moment, but they make it sound like little more than blonde women, slicked back hair, beards and rolled up pants, which I suppose it is, but additionally the clothing coming out of there leaves your heritage brand sprawling by evolving into the perfect mix of basics, avant-garde and detail.

What also had me hyped (though it wasn’t necessarily on display) was the UK-made Palace gear. Being a non-skater doofus who still wears the shirts, I was accosted with regards to the source of my Palace shirt during my recent NYC holiday and the brand seems to have gathered hype at an alarming rate. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch either. See those eBay prices for the Chanel tribute sweats? The way the Trail Blazers snapback is everywhere and how the afterthought New York Giants tee became a bestseller? Crazy. Now the brand has been bootlegged multiple times, people seem to think the comedy surf line is a fake too, but they’re mistaken. British made shirts (are we allowed to use that term “cut and sew” with its visions of gun print tee brands switching to preppy chambrays and chinos really badly?), jackets, plus trousers and other stuff is a nice expansion of the Palace brand and a nice Tango slap to anyone who thought it was just about bolshy screenprints. That’s’s something to look forward to over the next month.

If you know central London, you know that Camissa & Son does the best sandwich in the area at a good price. My friends at Slam City know that and they’ve contributed that recommendation to Vans’ Syndicate newspaper, ‘These Days’. I’m on Syndicate’s dick because it always gets things right. That LXVI stuff? I’m not convinced yet, but Syndicate’s packaging, risky choice of collaborators and hard-core approach to distribution is always appreciated. Their paper (supplied to me by Mr Charles Morgan) reminds me of Berlin’s fine ‘Aspekt Ratio’ in its broadsheet execution, but the lengthy Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen interview, guide to making your own tattoo machine, W(Taps’ TET on his first Vans (a pair of Sk8 His), an Ice-T interview (bringing the whole $YNDICATE thing full circle), chat with skate ‘zine legend Gary Scott Davis and a Mike Hill Alien Workshop design retrospective are all tremendous. I know creating a tangible piece of print media is this year’s equivalent of the dull video lookbook and teaser, but this is absorbing, passionate content that should resonate with multiple generations.

Lots of people hate Byron Crawford, but you can’t deny that his musings are the perfect antidote to a world where everybody’s toadying with hip-hop so they don’t get locked out the listening party. He’s just put out a Kindle book, ‘Mindset of a Champion: Your Favorite Rapper’s Least Favorite Book’ charting his rise from proto-blogger to-day jobber and internet, sorry, internets, star. It reads like one vast, sprawling, semi-proofed blog entry, but it’s a fun read. Crawford has a knack for capturing mundanity that matches his appetite for controversy (“KRS-One himself has never been on crack, as far as I know. he’s just crack-ish. he used to be homeless. He’s know for making off the wall statements.”) and there’s tales of rap board wars, talkbacks and hip-hop journalism that justify the £2 outlay within just a couple of chapters.

This interview with Brent Rollins is excellent. Like me, he wishes he came up with the UNDFTD logo, but unlike me, he’s a design genius and it’s revealed that he’s the Jordan IV and orange sock dude on the ‘Do the Right Thing’ poster. On a Complex-related note, this rant from the perspective of some chisel toe shoes is also worth your time.

The Kate Uptons of this world will come and go, but people will still get excited about Kate Moss. Yayo footage couldn’t stop her and neither can any number of sket upstarts. There’s a whole book about her called ‘Kate: the Kate Moss Book’ dropping in November via Rizzoli delivering a full retrospective of her career thus far. Jefferson Hack and Jess Hallett editing, plus an $85 pricetag and 368 pages indicates that it might be pretttttttty good.

PARTY

I just finished reading Glenn ‘O Brien’s ‘How to Be a Man.’ A book with a name like that should infuriate me, but it’s all far lighter and more of a general philosophy  than the instructional title indicates. Any arbiter of style offering themselves up as a counsel of cool dressing is usually a sureshot source of bellendery — just think about that wave of websites post ‘Street Etiquette’ or ‘Style Salvage’ run by sartorial tipsters who were in print tees the week before, offering a lightweight imitation of both cited sites’ success by telling you how to wear a suit. Half those dudes do smart very, very badly, and while it’s easy to slum it and look like some kind of secret millionaire, your attempts to do dandyism will inadvertently reveal your bank balance. ‘O Brien however is just very, very well dressed and — looking at old ‘TV Party’ episodes — always has been sharp.

‘TV Party’ is — quite rightly — held up as a pivotal moment in youth TV. Wherever I go, talk of web TV seems to lead to talk of O’ Brien and Chris Stein’s organised chaos. That public access lawlessness offered a fuzzy, wobbly insight into an aspirational world, but it was also pioneering in broadcasting the cool guy (and girl) existence of a cartel aloof characters enjoying varying amounts of fame, but a constant credibility. The angry callers, the weed smoke in the studio, SAMO and Fab 5 Freddy scuffling, live performances that ranged from classic performances to artful tap drip repetition, plus some stoned attempts at situationism might not have been seen by many beyond the transmission range, but as its legend spread by VHS, DVD and flash video, ‘TV Party’ became the thing that many still want to be. Alas, deliberate attempts at that lo-fi feel, plus a lack of O’ Brien style central figure just feels regressive. You can’t recreate a happy accident without looking awkward — like one of those crooked guys who walks in front of cars to get insurance loot.

I always imagined that working life at the Factory would be awesome like ‘TV Party,’ until I read Bob Colacello’s ‘Holy Terror’ and realised that working for Warhol probably wasn’t as much of a laugh as I’d been led to believe.

‘TV Party’s legacy now sits in the web video that’s at your control. Boiler Room’s london broadcasts represent a good use of that televisual democracy. Intolerable hours of USTREAM with some self-centred individual looking bemused and saying “Can you hear me?” to a discordant feedback blast or YouTube videos of guys in their bedrooms talking about the colours of their latest footwear “pickup” are a DIY television evolution that sacrifices the party spirit for solitude. Not everybody gets an invite you see, as those constant queries O’ Brien fielded about getting into the Mudd Club proved. All they could do is wish. Today’s breed of amateur broadcasters prefer to treat their audience as part of the proceedings. Are the new breed of web celebs and “influencers” creating that same sense of envy as Glenn created between 1978 and 1982? I have no idea. The insistence on inciting those viewing to become participants too opened up the velvet rope to anybody who wants to join in.

‘TV Party’s demise coincides with the dawn of ‘The Tube’ on British TV in 1982 which led to a post-acid series of ‘yoof’ classics like Def II’s ‘Dance Energy’ that ran from 1990 to 1993, going from cathode ray party to a strange broad daylight club setting, and a place well worth breaking the Huaraches out for, plus Channel 4’s ‘The Word’ which ran from 1990 to 1995, bringing back that shambolic feel and occasional dazed expressions. Alas, after ‘Passengers’ on Channel 4, compiled some frequently smart documentaries for low attention spans, British youth TV seemed to fizzle in an alcopop addled laddishness and ladette-centric realm of shows that made ‘The Word’ look rather considered by comparison. Reality TV could also be seen as a byproduct of public access egocentricity. Latterly, ‘No Hats, No Trainers’ brought Alchemist and Just Blaze to a weekend afternoon with greater success than Channel 4’s abysmal ‘Whatever’ a few years earlier.

Salutes to MVD for uploading ‘TV Party: the Documentary’, the debut episode of ‘TV Party’ from December 18th, 1978, the Halloween 1979 episode and the ‘Sublimely Intolerable Show’ episode with a technically hindered opening. Watch, be inspired by the attitude (some of it is genuinely intolerable) and endeavour to create something completely different.

This part of a 1992 ‘Dance Energy’ special is a YouTube bonus. Six minutes in, there’s some rare footage of the 1992 ‘1st Annual Rapper’s Boxing Championships’, as covered in ‘The Source.’ You can see Willie D take down Melle Mel, Freddie Foxxx beat down a shook-looking Spook from True Colors (I checked Discogs and they had an album, but I never heard it. Maybe this was an ill-fated attempt at publicity). What I never knew was that Poet of PHD aka. Blaq Poet fought at the event against some bloke called Big B and won. Unkut had the magazine scan up a few years back, but this footage is gold. There’s a lot of tough talk these days, but if the ‘2nd Annual Rapper’s Boxing Championships’ took place as a 20th anniversary sequel, I guarantee the majority would pussy out like Tim Dog did or have their weed carrier let off shots for Worldstar to transmit to the ignorance-hungry masses. Simon Woodstock beating Sticky Fingaz was another great moment in hip-hop boxing too.

While I could never pull it off ever, I’m still preoccupied with Phenomenon’s collaboration with luxury good overlords MCM, resulting in these tiger camo garments that have a Dapper Dan does special forces steez about them. Biker jackets, army vests, half trench coats and some strange skinny pants are the second coming of all-over print for the monied and flamboyant. Who wrangled this collaboration? I respect the lunacy of it all. It’s anti-utiliarian, anti-surplus weird that treats those military markings like a monogram. They’re at the Contemporary Fix store now.

Who listens to music journalists any more? Nobody. But there’s always room for good writing on the topic and ‘SUP’ always delivers. In a world where everyone’s gone design-free, Wood Wood are some of the few who bring it on the imagery, innovation and typography. They’re a brilliant bunch of Danish stereotypes in that regard. The ‘SUP’ and Wood Wood t-shirt collection takes some of the best images made for the magazine and commits them to cotton. Jason Nocito and Bea Fremdermann’s work is great, but the Milan Zrnic ‘King of Pop’ image is the best of the bunch.

20 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL IN 2010

This blog is, in a convoluted way, a hype blog of sorts. Except it’s the stuff that gets me hyped, which means it’s always going to dip into dark realms of self-indulgence that should alienate more than a few people. That’s just how I like it. Forget retrospectives for the moment too. The lead into 2010 is going to be underwhelming, but as the year unravels and you get used to writing ‘2010’ on cheques or paying-in slips (both fairly old-fashioned habits to carry a date that seems so futuristic, but, hey, for the most part, we’re a regressive people) there’s some good things on the horizon. It won’t be all-wack-everything in the near future. Why? Because here’s twenty reasons to be cheerful over the next twelve months –

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