A hero in purpose, Peter W. Kaplan, died today.
Here is the New York Times’ obituary:
killer tune, with an strong message, one endorsed by the columbia street botany skins
AJ McGuire (http://ajmcguire.tumblr.com/)’s zine, Gratitude, is now out, and available from both Standhard Distro and at Not Dead Yet fest, this upcoming weekend, in Toronto. Below is my included contribution, covering this past Chaos in Tejas fest. I’m very happy to be a part of such a carefully considered project.
Also on Texas is this.
The first thing you see when you get out of Austin-Bergstrom Airport is a set of fields, and the second thing you see, further from the tarmac and merging onto the Ben White Expressway, are longhorn cows grazing on very green grass across the street from the first of several three-storey car parks.
I arrived in Austin a day early for a four-night punk fest, after several other attempts at vacation fell apart. I left New York City alone and in the dark, six in the morning, and landed before noon. My friends were either not yet in Austin or not at all coming or deep in work, but those were details. On ethics of vacation―as much activity as possible at all times―I cabbed it alone down the Ben White, past those cows and Acton School of Business, which was by a cell phone store hut advertising 5% student discounts, to Franklin’s BBQ. A bourgeois decision, maybe, but mostly for the wait. After lunch I got a fade haircut, then crossed town to a bookstore. Ribs, brisket and a link, a high and tight and one hardcover copy of The Unwinding later, it wasn’t yet 3 PM. I felt like I would be alone in Texas forever. I grabbed more books and magazines and read them over an iced apple cider latte.
The punk music festival Chaos in Tejas has been taking place annually in Austin since 2004, usually at the beginning of June. It is closer in form to a convention or showcase, like CMJ, than a festival, but is far from either. Like a South By South West, the bills are scattered and overlapping, in eight or so bars on the Red River strip, but the groups are mostly punk and metal. There’s nothing to showcase. It’s no festival, either: There are no tents or big stages or campgrounds (there was an outhouse, but only for Bolt Thrower).
Would I have gone the whole time, to each Chaos, from the three nights at Emo’s (Dicks, Dead Moon, and Tragedy headlining) in 2006 to now, I’d have seen a respectable and relevant cross-section of heavy music. Chaos’ Year One, in 2004, was Prankfest, for the Bay Area thrash label, and featured Paintbox, of Japan, and Sunday Morning Einsteins. By two years’ time, it was a fest proper, with two extra nights of live music and two sets from Fucked Up, one under the headliner and one headlining the after-show. Two important bands from Japan played on the underbill of the finale―I can’t remember who―and things grew from there, in stature if not in size. If Chaos’ sound at any year blends together―loud, to an outsider, or dirty―there’s good detail there, and for a glut of bands, it’s mostly good. The music press, which is slow to these genres, tends to miss the finer points and champion embarrassing heavy bands. Bad taste is no big thing―but few, if any, of those have played Austin.
There are also the punks. Chaos draws a nice contingent of train-hopping scum each year, doing its thing. Most are hideous. Some are outstanding and well-tailored, all are dusted in filth and a thin film of sweat. If you’re not a punk, your eye contact won’t be returned, but it’s fine and that coldness doesn’t keep the style from washing over you. I stick to mostly vintage basics, and like to think I do a good job of it. But I feel a dread walking through the bunch, like I’m obsese, which I’m not. It fits better, even on the fat ones.
Former, aging punks mix with the young hardcore fellows who are at the peak of their youth and hopefully taking advantage of it. Fat, fat women and regular girls, shameful young men and human lawn ornaments and gargoyles and wet blankets and foreigners are there too. It’s hard to say how many people at Chaos have punk jobs, but it can’t be many. It’s not SXSW; it’s a vacation. I sometimes felt like, at hardcore shows, that everyone else there worked harder than me. But I don’t anymore.
I went to the first show a few hours after lunch, in a small one-storey gay bar at the bottom of a cul-de-sac that sloped downwards from a block of bungalows that were turned into bars. The scene came was something out of a movie, all youth and denim. It didn’t smell ripe inside, but it was hot, and the first band―whose name I did not get―sounded fast and mostly bassy. We had to wait by the door to be let in, until three people left, because the club was over capacity. I lasted a song and went outside to talk to my friends. Some of them, thank god, had arrived into town. I asked my friend Dan how his year was. By this point I was outside of the high tonal range, and only aware of the music, taking stock of the folks coming in and out and their wardrobes.
Thank you for reading.
I’ve been looking for one of these for … I’m not going to pretend like it’s been a long time. But since I’ve never seen one before, it feels like forever. Let’s say a shade under two years. This insane wind-shirt (I’d say 1977 or so, but I’m rusty) is not documented on eBay or in a GIS, just in the Lightning Nike bible from a few years back (and, of course, other Lightning and Shoes Up, etc., bibles from further back.)
It’s an great example of vintage clothing’s best aesthetics: quiet gaudiness. If described, the shirt would be an impossible proposition: a massive logo on the back, gaudy colors, a spread disco collar, contrast buttons, and a wind-shirt. But it comes off subtler than anything by, say, APC (I like the linked jacket when I tried it on! it’s just louder than this shirt). How? How does a UCLA-color wind-shirt out-subtle a slimmed-down all-black wool coat?
If you’ll indulge me—it’s the era, and you just know the second you see it. It’s kind of an art thing, and the above is art. Curator Marion True (truuu) thought the Getty kouros was an forgery, and said she knew it just because she knew it (story is treated more in depth in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”). David Grann, a would-be Cro-Mags profiler and living god, said more or less the same about recognizing fake and real Leonardos in his (incredible) piece on forgery.
How, then? It’s not enough to just point to an initial reaction. These art experts know right away from years of work; so too can you get caught up on this stuff and sniff it out. The more you see of vintage, the more cues you have, and the more impressive the real stuff looks. It just gets deeper and better.
But that’s just feelings. What’s behind the something? As with all attire, it’s the tailoring and materials. The shirt is 35, touching 40, a wind-shirt (the wimpiest shirt there is, material-wise), but looks fine, barely faded. It’s also cut somewhere between a golden-era Brooks Brothers (red tag) oxford and a Pendleton. I hate sounding like Andy Rooney—older is not always better, either in cuts or quality. But if anyone tried their hand at this shirt today, it’d be done wrong. And if it was done right—and it can be done right—it’d have some sort of insane price point. (And rightly so.)
The original artifact here should go for a lot. If it’s under $400, it’s a steal. It’s a beautiful piece.
Two good podcasts (“Popcasts”) (and articles) from The New York Times, w.r.t. Blacks Flag and Sabbath, respectively.
Ben Ratliff, the pop critic, handles Flag (and gets pretty much everything right), and Steve Smith, a Times contributor covering classical music, averages the same on Sabbath (he likes “Sabotage”!). Nice to see deep, sure criticism that isn’t flexing. Ratliff’s broader analysis of the genre’s importance, the keys to the band, and so on are better than anything I’ve read on either subject.
I’m not sure you can ask for a better look at these bands from a mainstream perspective. Shout out to The Times, as this is worth yours. Let’s also remember that The Times’ look at “In My Head” (in ‘86) remains the only truly incisive mainstream look at the band.
Lots to tackle here. Above’s a Duxbak hooded sweatshirt from the 1930s, that is, as of this posting, available for sale from Japanese vintage dealers Berberjin. I emailed them after I saw the Instagram—they have two accounts, if I remember right, (this) one strictly golden-era vintage butt-beaters and the other, indiscriminate 1990s detritus—and asked for the price. I had no idea what it would go for, for the following reasons (I’ll reveal at the end; it’s also in the photo’s comments):
1. Great old stuff rarely pops up. True 1930s vintage doesn’t list on eBay as regularly as postwar does. While prewar joints are always available for sale, most of the listings in that category have either been online forever as Dutch auctions that will never fulfill the seller’s asking price, or are mis-labelled, or garbage. (Lots of them fit poorly, too—this one looks about an inch longer than it is wide*.) The few auctions which do stand out get pulled down early enough that their true price isn’t revealed.
2. Vintage sweatshirt is a broad term. There are a ton of them: grey crewnecks, two-tones, short-sleeves, V-necks, zips, insulated joints. The list goes on forever. Rarer iterations, like this one, pop up less often and, because they’re not as well-known, and are even more subject to price randomness. When a well-regarded vintage item (like an Peanuts Spruce) hits eBay, people scramble: the item is under the light. But when a strange piece, like this, goes digital—and make no mistake, this is a strange piece, it pops up every other year at most, and Duxbak is nearly a small brand—it’s hard to determine price. I’d say under 10 new prewar sweatshirts make eBay a year, which isn’t enough to gauge a real price. A separated-hood went for $1,800 a bit ago, but a pretty cool zip-up brought just $200.
3. Japan is different: Larry McKaughan’s Heller’s Cafe released a sweatshirt inspired, if not directly influenced, by the above model. Heller, it’s worth noting, makes the best reproductions of two-tone sweats, which are better known (that link points to J. Crew!). Heller’s relationship with the original green sweatshirt above is a google search away and McKaughan’s version—available as recently as last summer—looks good, even great. At about $500 stateside, we’re still no closer to determining a price for the original. I guessed about two or three times the retro.
4. Japanese pricing. A store is not eBay; it never will be. Berberjin have robust stock and, I’m told, from a friend who lived in Tokyo, are gougers. To what extent? It’s a six-time split—$3,000—and it’s still for sale. That doesn’t mean that this sweatshirt, were it listed on eBay by some bozack or webstore, would sell for that much. But it does explain why people list garbage and expect a ton. But we’re not all Berberjin.
*This probably deserves its own blog post. I’ll tackle it another time. But it’s helpful to think of baseball: the bigger the sample size—the more auctions there are—the more we can be confident that the number we’re seeing is real.
i love having something to carry around and call my own. though, i like to imagine an alternate universe where everyone is bones-deep into hardcore music, punk and the associated references and signifiers, and when things like this come out in that world, it turns on its ear.