Monday, November 24, 2008
Customization and spot work were traditionally the realm of the warrior. Ancient knights customized their Armour not just for protection but so that they could be easily identified. These warriors could distinguish themselves in combat and strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. That tradition which can be traced back to the beginnings of human civilization incorporated popular culture in WW 2 when American airmen used their favorite media characters to decorate their jackets and planes and proclaim their achievements and intentions to their Nazi targets. Camouflage was not the concern unlike soldiers on the ground. The social and antisocial biker clubs that rose from the traditions of brotherhood and danger of WW 2 also sought to proclaim themselves through irony and often fearful imagery. Bikers routinely co opted and recontextualised popular culture icons into their jackets both combining powerful imagery and Armour appearance with practical protection from the road. One of the last great antisocial movements that celebrated this combination of culture, aggression and protection was the punk rock movement. Punkers celebrated their warrior status by wearing their politics on their leathers. Lefty punkers, anarchists, skins, Nazis all decorated their "war" gear appropriately with images of their musical heros, and studded their jackets like medieval knights in leather hobnail Armour. The goal was to strike fear into straight society, and their "enemies" in other groups. I added two photos of my old buddy Ken just to relive a moment in time
Sad ebay side notes of the month: Ebays new feedback rating system ensures that even when achieveing 4 stars out of 5, no seller qualifies for any discounts, search optimization and now sales. Part of the new requirement is 4 4.5 star ratings to get any discounts on Ebay. Apparently 80% isn't good enough, ebays c minus service requires a sellers A ++ rating of 90% or better. And because buyers think they are leaving good feedback with 4 stars, we all get to pay more to ebay...way to go!
Friday, November 7, 2008
So what are all these fantastic custom pieces of leather with their studs and metal and spots everywhere. When I was young and goodlookin me and my friends would buy our leather cyclechamp d-pocket brimaco jackets and customize them with pain, punkrock and metal to be menacing and bad. The more threatening and armor like your jacket, the more bad ass it was. We thought we were so original, and how wrong we were.
Leather and studs go back thousands of years back to the Mycenaean culture and beyond. Inserting metal onto leather was the earliest form of protection and armor making. But what is important is where leather, metal and identity meet. The Medieval knights of the upper classes armored head to toe, had to customize their look to be identified friend or foe. Leather, metal and customization was a long history of warrior culture and continues today from punks and bikers, Rockers of Britain and the old time biker clubs of America. Spots not only saved expensive leathers from scratches and road rash, but they became a form of expression of personal identity. And it didn't hurt to have a flash of shiny nickle when riding down a lonely highway in a black leather jacket when a 2000 lb car came screaming by!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The last bunch of years has been a bit of a joke. My business (the vintage clothing business) has been hammered by Bush policies and general right wing agendas. First it was SARS when American media tried to demonize Toronto because people had the flu, then the dollar bouncing and now cheap knock off crap from China (Im glad Wallmart is richer) and wall Street greed. I have to say I actually was a bit emotional when Obama was elected last night. We just went through our own election here in Canada and as usual it was uneventful and more of the same.
American elections hold a real interest in Canada. In reality American politics often dictates as much about our policies and economy as our own government. As you can imagine Bushy hasn't really been very good for Canada or Canadian values. After I watched Obama get elected most (not all) people here in Ice land sighed a sense of relief. Like maybe we have a new hope for change away from the madness of the last 8 years. We all lost money, we all feel badly for people embroiled in war, and especially me, I feel for my friends of color especially my black friends who after years of experiencing racism in one form or another breathed a sigh of relief, like it was finally not completely wrong to be black. I actually was moved.
Just a thought, now that there is a new President: People are still going to be bigoted in America, Canada and the world, but isn't it nice to know that it will become just that much more unacceptable and less the norm and more the exception. Next we need a Gay president or a Woman, or a gay women...we can keep this thing going! And when it is all done, we can elect people who actually represent ... Read More their own politics, and don't bow out cause they smoked a joint or their kids friend published naked pictures of their privates on the internet or because they hung out with the wrong person when they were 12, who knows maybe one day we can live in a clean environment and where oil company s and banks don't dictate domestic and foriegn policy and where mutual respect and hard work are rewarded and where deviant social behavior is punished and or reformed, wow....I think I saw that show it was Star Trek the original series!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I like to think of myself as an intriguing mix of Alfred E. Newman meets Steve McQueen. This year for Halloweeny instead of my usual fare, Nance and I dug into the archive of vintage leather and went as dead 40s bikers. I considered it an homage to all those people who lived hard, died and left me their fantastic apparel. In some way their spirits live on in their leathers so we donned the garbs and went aspookin. This was a nice prelude to some interviews I'm doing with some real old time club bikers who are nice enough to share some picture and stories from their day. I'm wearing a Buco police jacket and a pair of Score (Toronto) 1940s copy Harley jodhpurs with 1940s harness boots and a 1930s military belt, Nance is in a 1940s Cycle Queen, some 1950s flat track racing pants and we both have on early riding gauntlets. Halloween was...awesome!