Ah, shopping. Has it been so long? Well no actually, though as the year grinds on, Summer finally saunters off, and the 'imminence' of Christmas is revealed unto us in the form of miles of festive tat already appearing on Regent street and thereabouts, our thoughts once again turn to the accumulation of yet more things that we don't really need. Yes, already the streets thicken with the first protean stirrings of the years consumer festivities, and we must take again to the streets, jostling for space alongside the tourists, overpriced hot-dog stands, and men bearing 'golf sale' signs for our slice of the pie.
Don't get me wrong though, I subscribe as keenly to the cult of retail therapy as most, and am currently seething with jealously as one of my roomies has picked a rather fetching 60s leather jacket for a song in Wimbledon, having appeared to have tapped an untouched seam of charity-shop wealth thereabouts.
But some people take this stuff waay to seriously, as a brief stroll round Soho/Carnaby street will attest. I popped into Cinch the other day - the Levis flagship store, to find the following legend embazoned on the window:
'Levis recreates original GI clothing'
'For remembrance Sunday LEVI'S VINTAGE CLOTHING have created a GI style bag which includes a GI's wardrobe staples and tales from original GI's. This limited edition package is available for £300..'
What you get for your three hundred quid here is basically a pair of distessed jeans, a worn T-shirt, a Laundry bag, and some bits of paper printed with some pretty unconvincing script font. Now admittedly £30 of each sale goes to the Royal British Legion, but who's buying..? it's not even real vintage.
This pales into insignificace besides the Bathing Ape 'busy workshop' however, tucked away just behind Golden Square at the Regent Street end of Soho. A favoured haunt of fashion-hounds everywhere, this place seems particularly popular with Japanese kids on a style pilgrimage to London, and generic sportswear fetishists from all over, who clog the aisles gawping at the wares wondering if they actually dare ask how much any of it costs. Indeed some of these cats are dressed from head to toe in nothing other than this 'Holy Grail' of post Stussy brands, though to be honest they probably had to remortgage their carboard box in SE36 to get just one of the t-shirts, so attaing the full kit probably required something like auctioning all extraneous bodily organs on the black market.
An example of the genral silliness of all this would be an ocassion a fortnight ago, whilst I myself was in there (see, I love it!) when I overheard one of the shop 'assistants' telling a punter about a t-shirt they would shortly be selling at the Glade store two doors up for wait for it...£300. The T-shirt in question was for Nigo and Pharrell Williams' dubious 'Billionaire Boys Club' imprint, which, although it was going to be studded in Swarovski crystals, is clearly such a laughable purchase that you don't even need to leave the shop to get mugged for it.
What I find stupid about this is that these are brands obstensibly influenced by Hip Hop and skate culture. Both thrifty and durable irrespectively. In the first case Hip-Hop fashion was all about poor kids rocking these incredible styles on a shoestring, while going out and actually doing stuff like I dunno, dancing, painting, DJing and having sex, and secondly, I find the idea of any of these guys endangering their baggy ape jeans by actually doing anything as physical as skating improbable to say the least.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL
Another thing I ocasionally find bothersome about these places is the all pervasive aura of superiority that lingers everywhere. Indeed, a question directed at one of the 'experts' who work there, unless delivered with exactly the right intonation and inflexion will probably be met with a monosyllabic response and an icy stare that would stun a basilisk.
This isn't just restricted to clothes shops of course. I was in Sounds of the Universe in (yes) Soho, when I was lucky enough to hear this textbook of example of customer service:
Customer: Hi mate, alright if I have a listen to these (brandishing an admittedly large brace of records)
Shopkeeper: (Stares incredulously) You having a laugh mate? It's five records only in this place.
Customer: Oh sorry, maybe it'd be helpful if you put a sign up, I'm in town for the day from the country.
Shopkeeper: (archly) We don't believe in that kind of thing in here, this is London mate.
So you don't believe in 'that kind of thing' but do believe in being curt to the point of rudeness with your customers. Tsk. He might have even bought those tunes pal.
All this serves to remind me of 'Comic book guy' Jeff Albertson in the Simpsons, who similarly seems to belive that relative expertise and a career in retail are a license for offhand treatment of customers. This quote kind of sums it up.
"I must hurry back to my comic book store, where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them."
Anyway. Enough, I must be off to go and spend my hard earned. Happy shopping aye?
Well, it was a nice crisp sunny Sunday today, so I hiked up Camberwell Grove to gawp at the William Booth college, which is basically the Salvation army international headquarters. It's f**ckin' huge. Big enough anyway to house a private army, so I rather like to imagine it as being like an MI6 training ground from a Bond film inside, replete with SA corporate ninjas abseiling down ropes, and brass bands with machine guns hidden in their instruments, though in reality it's probably given over to admin.
After that walked over to Ruskin park where I bumped into my friend's housemate who was also taking pictures, and we did a bit of trespassing to look at the fenced off bandstand, and mooched around looking at the various critters that live there e.g ducks, geese, drug crazed squirrels (bear with me here). Apparently she told me, there's a problem in South London with squirrels finding drugs that dealers have stashed in parks, gardens etc. and becoming addicted to crack. And if you don't believe me.. here's what the Guardian has to say about it.
Personally - and I'm going out 'on a limb' here, but I rather suspect the average tree-rat isn't going to have time to get addicted to anything once it's wolfed down a rock of crack, being primarily concerned as it will be with overdosing massively and shuffling off this mortal coil.
Anyway. Did that then hooked up with a mate in the evening at BRB in Camberwell for one of their tasty pizzas, then went and watched as much of 80s 'classic' cocktail as I could stomach.
Top Tens are great aren't they. You really know where you are with a good old numbered list, w-why, between 1–10 of course!
Everyone does it from poncey music mags listing fave tunes of the moment to er, poncey weekend newspaper mags listing their favourite.. forks? or something. Hell, lazy TV producers love that shit, and I think the formula goes something like this: think up a concept for a top-ten-based hour long Saturday programme e.g. top ten things I never did in the 70s, then get a load of Z list celebs to wax lyrical with about 10% of their brain, while planning how to spend their fee with the rest. Then everyone can knock off early and go to the pub. Simple.
Anyway, truth be told, I'm getting a little sick of the genre, so I thought I'd end it all in one fell swoop. So check it out playaz, here it is, the one, the only, the definitive:
Top Ten Top Tens
10. Ah nostalgia.. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 70's! Everyone loves 70's TV it's OLD, and people dressed differently then!
9. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 80's! Everyone loves 80's TV it's OLD, and people dressed differently then!
8. Top ten Kitsch TV moments from the 90's! Everyone loves 90's TV it's (slightly less) OLD, and people dressed (slightly) differently then!
7. Top ten favourite foods. This, if it was on TV would probably have the guy from 'Ready Steady Cook' on it.
6. Top ten favourite sweets.?
5. Top ten favourite ..smells? I'm getting bored of this.
4. Top Ten Cartoons, and yeah The Simpsons will be at number one..
3. Top Ten films, though damn, if Star Wars aint at number one there's going to be hell to pay..
2. Top Ten Bands, everone loves music, and everyone loves top Tens! Though yeah, it's probably going to be the Beatles at number one. Snore.
1. This top ten of course! See what I did there! Oh shit the universe has ended.
Well its been a quiet old two weeks, and I've done little save ring recruitment types, look for work, and attempt to coax a pigeon on to my landing with a bacon sandwich wrapped in string. Actually one of those is false.
I did however stumble across this 'gem' which I thought I'd share with anyone fortunate enough to be reading this blog. It's basically a link to a reasonably arbitrary beast-based combat system. You heard of Pokemon? Tekken? D&D? Well forget that shit - this is as real as it gets. Basically you type in a name, phrase, or just gibberish and the magic of the interweb fleshes out your avatar with a randomly generated form. For a name I chose 'Your Dad' which (aside from the psychological edge) gave me a huge flame wreathed moth with metal jaws. Believe.
So if any of you are as bored as I've been, perhaps you might like to do battle in the digital realm etc etc.