A Brief History of Anglophilia
July 19, 2012
Dig, if you will, a journey into pre-civilization celtic vibes. One wanders for days across a shroomed-out version of the default Windows XP desktop background. Time loses all meaning. Sustenance: shrooms and the blackest of black tea. Guidance? vibes.
This is the journey upon which one was thrust upon hearing the opening bassline of “Fool’s Gold.” This is trippy music in both the literal and figurative senses. It makes on feel like one is on a trip, and the lyrics narrate a trip. Where? The hills in Wales where Stevie Nicks honed her witching skills, or some shit like that. In any event, the Stone Roses took whatever house/Paleozoic-era rave music beats that were the shit at the time and fused them to one of the most infectious basslines ever and some chill-as-fuck Donovan-type vocals.
This is something that British people, collectively, have excelled at since pretty much the end of World War II—synergizing seemingly disparate influences into some new shit. The Beatles took the Everly Brothers, Little Richard freneticism and some suits and haircuts from France and made some new shit. The Stones—depends which phase tho—took Chuck Berry, whatever old blues dudes they looked up to, and whatever country-rock shit they were hip to in the early Seventies, cemented it together with a herculean amount of drugs, and made some new shit.
ANYWAY, shit was rough aggregating content in the early 1990’s, when “Fools Gold” hit. One could A)record content onto magnetic tape, via a videocassette recorder, or off the radio or B) accumulate compact discs, audiocassette tapes, and vinyl on some kind of shelf. You knew a dude was a legit content aggregator when he had one of those balsa wood cassette shelves. Every so often, one compiled individual songs onto a compilation tape to listen to in one’s automobile or on one’s personal cassette player. Sharing video content verged on the impossible. The most effective method was to just mention to someone “Yo did you see that NWA vid?” and hope that it aired on Yo! MTV Raps the next Saturday. Sharing skate video content operated on a similar faith-based system. If the show sold out of a particular vid, one had to hope that a friend or loose skate-spot acquaintance had it and offered to let one dub it.
This is probably the genesis of my anglophilia—taping 120 Minutes every Sunday nite. I had perfected this technique taping Headbangers Ball a couple of years previous. The most important tactic to remember was to program the recording to start at either 11:59 or 12:01, because one never knew for sure if the videocassette recorder would actually start at the right time if one set it for midnight.
Like I said—maintaining an authentic content farm in the early 1990′s was rough as fuck.
120 introduced me to those bands like Swervedriver, Ride, and most of all, the Roses. However, I never really got into them until my first bout with nostalgia around 1997, when I ceased being straightedge and got into shit like Stereolab and Oasis.
I’m not sure if Stereolab had a couple English dudes in addition to the French chicks or whatever, but one of my skate bros left a compilation tape of their shit in the car and I was hooked. Another key element was that one e’S ad in 411 with that one song off the first record. Oasis, though, I ended up seeing like 4 times. Not sure if I was still taping 120 when Definitely Maybe came out, but I remember part of “Supersonic” being prominently featured in My So-called Life (?). It warrants mentioning that Oasis’ ascent coincided with that of Tom Penny. It’s probably impossible to write something about England + skateboarding without mentioning that dude, but he’s been analyzed to death in every EL with which he was at all associated, so I will save the Tom Penny deconstruction for another post.
BUT ANYWAY, in addition to contributing the epic “I’m going to camp tomorrow” quote from 411 #2, Penny, like the aforementioned British collectives, synthesized the most impeccable influences into a new entity. Along those lines, Liam and Noel—like that one dude said in the fucking awesome seven-part History of British Rock series that comes on VH1 Classic pretty much every weekend–synthesized the coolest elements of the coolest British bands that came before them with an extra dose of Mancunian introspection via The Smiths. The difference between the two bands, conceptually, is the following: Both Morrissey and Liam go to the club alone. However, Morrissey stands around on his own and leaves on his own, while Liam ostensibly cops some low-grade blow, rips it off his hand in the bathroom, drinks between seven and nine beers and leaves with a young lady of questionable moral standing.
From the Roses, Liam and Noel appropriated haircuts, #technicalouterwear, and that certain sense of communal #madferit-ism via raves ‘n shit. Case in point: the chorus to “Acquiesce”–pretty much the Gino-in-Trilogy of contemporary Britpop choruses. Furthermore, based on my rudimentary interent research, they allegedly adapted the “No snow, no show” mantra from Clapton. The key difference, though, is this: Clapton’s shirt was probably facetious in nature, based on his cocaine usage that facilitated his kicking of his early Seventies heroin usage precipitated by George Harrison stealing his girl. Or some shit like that.On the other hand, the Gallagher bros. are straight shooters; if there’s no snow, they’re going gorilla.
ANYWAY, what set Oasis apart from other bands was the fact that their best songs resided on import-only cd singles—the kind that one found in those super-skinny cd cases. Of course, these recordings needed to be physically imported from the UK, thus making their cost somewhat prohibitive. Fortunately, I worked at an operation that had a stash of said cd singles, which I was able to dub onto magnetic tape cassette. Again—similar to hip hop sample nerdery, just simply knowing what these songs sounded like was an exclusive, apocryphal type of knowledge that amplified how rad they were (and still are). Truth be told, though, after Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, the songwriting became increasingly mediocre. But for a minute there Noel wrote some of the catchiest tunes in the history of catchy-ass tunes. As I get older, that musical criterion becomes increasingly all-important.
As the Nineties came to a close, I started listening to Belle and Sebastian—a band notable for cover art depicting a sock puppet sucking on a bitch’s titty. For the life of me, though, I can’t remember who first used their music in a skate vid. Other UK bands started to creep into vids, though; whoever music supervised Modus included the opener of Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space—the record that fuckin’ powered the summer of ’97—in the obligatory “slam” section.
Then came the most significant tipping point in terms of Britpop music supervision—the soundtrack to PJLWHL. It is hard to say whether the Coliseum dudes’ affinity for the genre is reflective of Boston in general, but it would be tight if that were the case. Although I have never been there, one can reasonably infer that the city functions as a nexus point where college kids, cokehead hipster types, Affleck-in-The Town types, rabid B’s/C’s/Sox/Pats fans, and 90’s-centric street skaters converge.* The vid just wouldn’t be as cool if the dudes skated to trip-hop or whatever the fuck; it truly functions as an artifact of a certain time and place. In addition to the PJ Ladd song,** the use of “The Universal” warrants mentioning, if only because the one time I saw Blur the dude introduced it by saying “Here’s something from a Broadway musical.” The dudes must have seriously gotten every Britpop cd that came out, because my ex used to have that Richard Ashcroft solo cd, and that “shelter me” song is seriously the only good song on there. Most of the songs were so obviously written about his girlfriend that he stole from the dude from Spiritualized, thus sending the Spiritualized dude into a vortex of substance abuse that was documented on the aforementioned Spiritualized lp.
Trip the fuck out.
ANYWAY, as PJLWHL recedes into skate lore, the narrative of how a couple dudes from Boston with impeccable musical taste founded a shop that produced the one of the most transcendent video parts ever remains almost as interesting as the video itself. Shit would be a sick movie. Kids meets Empire Records, if you will.
Attn: film industry people: this idea is a SLAM DUNK NO-BRAINER.
Eight years hence, enter Palace. Suffice if to say that Palace is the coolest company out right now. This is not a hyperbolic statement. Not the best, most elite, or technically proficient, but the coolest. If one conceptualizes cool—as boyslifenyc does here—as a quantifiable entity, then Palace possesses the most. Admittedly, when I first heard of the squad, I somewhat dismissed them as “that Olly Todd post-stereo UK company.” However, their video output proved solid fucking gold. Specifically, the PWBC Global Skateboard News, in whch they reaffirmed the important things in life: skating in sideways caps and baggy-ass sweatpants. They followed this up with a series of brilliant webclips, paying homage to the Menace section in 20 shot and the Trilogy pager-check via a pre-line weed transaction. Indeed, The Palace dudes probably perceive Kareem in the same way that the Stones looked up to Blind Lemon Jefferson and all those guys—authentic practitioners of a distinctly American culture. In a macro sense, the use of VHS harkens back to the Nineties, but with an extra dose of that British wit, perspective, or whatever you want to call it. The same shit that set the Stones apart from blues purists like the Paul Butterfield Blues band or whatever the fuck. Always coming up with some new shit. Palace has also made interesting personnel choices, pushing Chewy Cannon’s evolutionary-Quim Cardona style to the forefront, while adding a select couple of North Americans (Powers and Goodall).
Being a North American on Palace is some ill shit, like when the Stones collaborated with the Gram Parsons dude or some shit like that.
Along those lines, we live in a world where, as any social media strategist will tell you, “content is king.” Interestingly, though, Palace has solely made their video content readily available, leading to $500 sweatshirts on ebay (via QS). Recently though, some board were on Josh Stewart’s Theories of Atlantis site, and I heard through a homie that Humidity down in New Orleans recently started carrying some shit. An associate of mine maintains that the disregard for the law of supply and demand demonstrates a horse-before-cart business model. That is to say, if there is demand amongst the 2% of the North American skate population that “gets it” and fucks with Palace, then why not supply? However, it is undeniable, that, in this age of ubiquitous ability to get anything, any time, perhaps this strategy plays into the whole #90s aesthetic in a meta sense. Their upcoming internet video sets the dudes in LA schoolyards and streetcorners—undeniably a power move, like when the Stones recorded at Muscle Shoals or some shit like that.
NOW, enter City of Rats—a video that, according to some internet comment the source of which I can’t recall, sets out to do for London what EE3 did for Philadelphia. That is to say, construct a resilient theater of the mind from its ancient, narrow-ass streets and gleaming marble office buildings, such as this one in Kevin Lowry’s part with sick under-bench mood lighting. Indeed, the juxtaposition of these two elements is what made PHILA footage so compelling, dating back to the Sub Zero vid. The aforementioned streets facilitate moves like Jensen’s switch 360 flipping street gaps—just like Pappalardo in that one EST vid. Mr. Jensen’s section also continues the trend of Hassidic Jews being the new homeless people—in terms of their utilization in skate videos, of course.
That Karim dude’s part is the most relevant to the interests of this web site, as he conceptualizes downtown Londontown as his own private Chaffey, flipping over benches on quick succession. Initially, I thought his whole part was switch—bcause that would be more mnc_tech or whatever—but I did some rudimentary internet research and the dude’s goofy-footed. Truth be told, I think I subconsciously wanted all those 360 flip over stuff to be switch so I could make a Luis Cruz reference in this post. Steph Morgan’s guest appearance in Lucien’s part kills it, but I recommend his part in This Time Tomorrow for a more comprehensive performance. Rory Milanes concludes the film with tech-as-fuck lines on those cobblestones streets—a less-than-ideal environment that my friend who is depressed by UK vids often references. Indeed, one doesn’t come away from the vid drooling over the spots of London; they all kind of blend together, bound by the realization that there has to be some shit like this somewhere in my town.
A “Suicide Girls” approach to spot porn, if you will.
Music supervision utilizes UK hip-hop non-ironically, eschewing that super-fast Tinie Tempah-style flow (what is that genre called anyway?) in favor of more tradition vocal stylists that use phrases like “mental stamina” a lot. I am not sure if these artists are Nineties revivalists, like that Joey Badass dude, or these recording actually date back to Nineties. Like, I got psyched at the beginning of one of the montages when I heard that opening horn riff from ‘Shot Caller,” but it turned out to be some freestyle over the actual “Funky Child” instrumental.
A few months ago, I found out that the Roses had gotten the band back together and were planning some shows in the UK this summer. Immediately, I began making mental preparations to combine going to one of them with a skate trip to London, and maybe that train/bus station with the grey marble ledges if that is located somewhere else. These plans fell by the wayside as I failed to follow through on 100% of the necessary monetary and logistical preparations. However, City of Rats provides a not-too-shabby facsimile.
EPILOGUE: Before I get into the vid itself, a little background: I checked Unicron religiously for about a month for the vid to no avail.*** Finally, I ordered it via SS20 (Penny’s shop sponsor from the aforementioned “Wheels of Fortune”). In order to retrieve the content, I took the following steps: A)receive Certified Mail slip in my physical mailbox B) take slip to my depressing-ass local post office and sign for the video C)a United States Postal Service postal worker handed my the envelope, with cool Royal Mail stamps with Queen Elizabeth’s head D) drive home and view DVD (only worked on the DVD I had purchased a few years ago specifically for viewing .mpg’s and .divx files)
I enjoyed this process.
It is way easier to fetishize content that has a physical form—which is probably why I have yet to purchase an e-reader. That and the twenty or so physical books lined up in the “have yet to read” section on my bookshelf –enough to last me until I physically die.
*This would be a cool Venn diagram.
**gotta tell ya, never got into Pulp, except for the William Shatner cover of “Common People,” which I am shocked that no one has skated to yet.
***Unicron has it now tho
ps. @carbonite1994 if you still use twitter, and @frozenincarbonite on the instagram
pps. I have also linked this site and the tumblr page cokewhitehalfcabs.tumblr.com (someone who hasn’t updated since 2011 took frozenincarbonite.tumblr.com) , so all new content on here should appear on there, probably rebloggable and all that shit.