Monthly Archives: February 2018

PRINTED MATTER: THE RETURN OF THE AWESOME CRAPPY ‘ZINE

“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” is a lo-fi, black-and-white ‘zine published by Lone Wolfs (sic) Objets de Surf, a surf brand and shop in Venice, Los Angeles, as well as a music production company and studio.

CSOV is more of an art zine than a surf mag and has virtually nothing intrinsically to do with the act of surfing itself or the “sport.” It’s more a mirror reflection and by-product of surf culture and Venice Beach, with endearing surf illustrations and photos and a brief Q&A with former surf-pro and Venice resident Brad Gerlach. 

It has no real articles or substantive text in the usual sense, but instead relies more on images and artwork. The overall effect is one of an aesthetic and a vibe, which makes its title all the more apt.

“Can’t Steal Our Vibe” comes off as a vapid, hasty and lazy throw-away of a magazine produced with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, great if inscrutable style, and zero fucks given. Its got the intellectual nutrition value of a Twizzler. But it’s a Twizzler we want to keep chewing over and over and over again. 

APPROPRIATION: CLOTHING STORE MINES ‘80s L.A. SURF CULTURE TO HELP SELL DENIM

Junk Food Clothing and Levi’s, the iconic purveyor of denim jeans, had collaborated on a pop-up concept store in Venice, Los Angeles.

The store is located on fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd. and is called Tees & Jeans. It offers customers personalization of the brands’ clothing, which is  growing fashion-and-style trend.

In the service of the selling of these clothes, and adding edge to the shop’s collabo idea, is a retail design concept and interior decor that rips from a specific era of Los Angeles’s pop cultural history: Gritty 1980s Venice and the SoCal surf and music scenes as epitomized by an obscure local band called the Surf Punks.

The clothing is sparsely displayed a minimalist space that feels raw, under-decorated and under-produced. But it is very much produced and every detail has been thought through.

These details include the vintage framed black-and-white promotional photos of the Surf Punks, founds objects like  traffic road signs, and used surfboards covered in dirty wax and scrawled with graffiti, deftly propped up in a corner of the store. (Yet another example of the over-employed cliche of a surfboard as decorative object in a shop or restaurant, as also seen here.)

NEWS FLASH: “SPANTO IS A ‘KOOK’” AND OTHER MYSTERIES OF DEEP VENICE

Sooooooo … Spanto is a Kook.  “Who is Spanto? Why is he a kook?” you ask, savvy reader. These are fair questions. We want to know who Spanto is, too! Spanto’s identity is an esoteric, hyper-local mystery, which makes the graffiti on this condemned house in Venice, in Los Angeles, all the more intriguing. 

A kook, on the other hand, is less a mystery. The word is not obscure. But it’s not used as often in general discourse as it may have been several generations ago. “Kook” in the pictured graffiti is not being used in way that it might be generally understood as synonymous with “crazy person” or “weirdo.” There is another altogether different meaning here. 

This other meaning may be more obscure to most people.  “Kook” is surfer jargon. Though slangy, the term is not new. It’s been hurled as an insult by surfers for many decades. In short, for surfers “kook” means an inexperienced, often poorly-skilled surfer who’s surfing style and manner reveal a naivete or ignorance of surfing rules, etiquette, techniques and customs.

Venice being a beach town and a surfers town with a strong surfer identity and a gritty surfing heritage, no doubt Spanto — whoever he (or she) is — is being slurred with a surfer’s invocation of “kook.”

YOU’RE SO RETRO: 8-BIT IMAGES OF YOUR FAVORITE PEAK TV-ERA SHOWS

Artist Gustavo Viselner is a so-called “pixel artist,” and he’s brilliant. The artist has made a name for himself by creating retro videogame-style 8-bit images of memorable scenes from some of the most popular television programs of the U.S. peak-TV era, a.k.a., the current “golden age” of more quality TV shows than a person has time to watch. These include images from shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Stranger Things.” More images on his website.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: LAIDBACK SURFER HAND GESTURE GETS A SPICY UPDATE

“Shaka” or “Shaka, brah!” Maybe you’ve heard this expression. Maybe you’ve uttered those words in earnest salutation or ironically. Maybe you’re a core surfer living on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, and these words are your go-to, standard form of salutation. You use it all time without even really thinking about it. (For example, when you stride into Ono’s in Haleiwa for a pork sandwich, you offer a shaka to staff at the counter.)

In any case, the word “shaka” and its utterance are but only part of the communications protocol here. Those words are said with an accompanying hand gesture that might be more familiar to many readers than the words. 

The shaka hand gesture, sometimes referred to as the “hang loose” sign, is similar to the “devil horns” gesture associated with heavy metal music. But with the shaka, the pinky finger and thumb are extended outward from the palm while the index, middle and ring fingers are bent down into the palm.

With fingers configured as such, the hand is then raised or extended and often given a little back and forth wiggle or shake, a motion functioning like a wave of the hand, to emphasize and visibly highlight the message to its intended audience.

The gesture is one of positivity. It’s loved by most surfers but also loathed by some surfers, hence the use of the “ironic shaka.” The shaka is undeniably a part of surf culture and has its modern usage and cultural origins in the birthplace of  surfing: Hawaii.

But culture and its symbols evolve. The shaka in the pic above is part of a two-page graphical spread in the zine Can’t Steal Our Vibe that show the gesture altered as a mash-up with the standard “f*ck you!” middle finger gesture.

In this new versions, the extended pinky of the shaka is pulled in, and the middle finger is extended. On first try, it’s not an easy gesture to make with natural fluidity, compared to the shaka.

But no matter. It’s what the gesture means that’s important here. And what does it mean? That’s the beauty of it: For now it’s subject to interpretation. And if the creators have a denotation for it, its esoteric.

We love  that the “F-You-Shaka” hybrid brings together the insouciance, anger and insult of the middle finger with the friendly, laidback “everyone’s a bro” vibe of the trad surfer shaka. These are opposing sentiments and may confuse.

The mashup, we think, is more ironic and captures even more accurately the contemporary core of surf culture: Its rebel semiotics and its knowing cues and tribal codes.

Can’t Steal Our Vibe, BTW, is a zine published occasionally by Lone Wolfs (sic), a surf brand and shop and music studio in Venice, Los Angeles, that uses the new “F-You-Shaka” as a kind of logo on stickers. The title of the zine is taken from a graffiti-like, spray-painted message written on a panel that covered a door that had been shattered in an attempted burglary at Lone Wolfs in 2016. The shop has also spray painted the phrase as a tagline on the side of the store.

STYLE: ALL THE OTHER KIDS WITH THE PUMPED-UP KICKS

It’s not news that a pair or two or three or 50 of fresh sneakers is an essential part of the contemporary wardrobe of the working creative-professional (WCP). These can run the gamut of old-school classic Adidas Gazelles or New Balance 574 running shoes ( that — God forbid — you’d actually go running in) to luxxy $700 Rick Owens / Givenchy / Gucci / Dior leather kicks to $50 checkerboard Van’s Slip-Ons to, as pictured here, Nike cross-training kicks (that — God forbid — you’d actually go cross-training in). These Nikes belong to colleague at an agency we work for. The pair are beautifully designed, and, aside from the red swoosh, understated at a glance. On closer scrutiny, there are few details that make these shoes sing: The red pull tabs, beige suede accents, and rounded laces.

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私たちの同僚の同僚がこの素晴らしいナイキスニーカーを手に入れました。スニーカーは、現代の「働くクリエイティブ・プロフェッショナル」(または「WCP」)の必須のワードローブアイテムです。 ;)


CURRENT EVENTS: RETRO ARCADE-STYLE WEB VIDEO GAME “THOUGHTS & PRAYERS” POKES FUN AT GUN CONTROL AND MEDIA IN AMERICA

In light of recent news events in the United States and yet another deadly and senseless mass-shooting at a school, there’s this retro arcade-style video game on the web called Thoughts & Prayers, which makes a humorous, satirical but ultimately sobering and obvious point. Play it now for free.

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この興味深いビデオゲームは「思考と祈り」と呼ばれています。これは、米国で撮影された学校の最近のニュースに触発されています。ゲームスタイルは、1980年代のアーケードゲームのレトロゲームのようなものです。しかし、このゲームは間接的にアメリカの銃や現在の銃規制法に関する解説をしている。

PROJECTS: OUR BAND ALOHA DEATH HAS A NEW TUNE CALLED “SHIBUYA”

One of our current projects here at Global Graphic is a music collaboration turned band called Aloha Death.  We’ve just released our second tune! It’s called “Shibuya” (Yay!!!) and you can find it now on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.

Check out the band website for more details. In the meantime, follow Aloha Death on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

ICONIC: OFFICIAL PORTRAITS OF BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA UNVEILED

The official portraits of former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama we’re unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. It’s a tradition for outgoing presidents to have their portraits painted and hung in the museum for posterity. For official portraits, the paintings of the Obamas are remarkable, formidable works of art on their own, visually arresting and groundbreaking in style and provenance for the genre.

President Obama’s portrait was painted by a Brooklyn-based African-American artist from Los Angeles, Kehinde Wiley, whose work we’re fans of and we’ve posted here before. The First Lady’s portrait was also painted by an African-American artist, the Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald. Continue reading

KICKS: GIANT FOOT STICKING OUT FROM ROOF OF HOLLYWOOD STORE “TOO INSTAGRAMMABLE”

Can something be too Instagrammable? That is the question, savvy reader. Our initial thought is, “Yes, yes something can be. ‘Too Instagrammablity’ (TI) is a thing.”

But then, upon further consideration, doubt creeps in, and we wonder further, “What does ‘too Instagrammable’ even mean?” It’s a binary, yes-or-no issue in terms of whether anything is Instagrammable at all. It either is or isn’t. And really, anything is Instagrammable by virtue of anybody taking a picture of something and posting it to Instagram. Continue reading

LEGENDARY: GODDAMMIT DON’T ASK ARTIST JASPER JOHNS WHAT HIS ARTWORK MEANS — NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS!

One of modern art’s greatest painters and arguably America’s greatest living artist, Jasper Johns is a giant of the contemporary art world. Recently on the eve of “JasperJohns: Something Resembling Truth,” a massive new exhibition of his work at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, Johns was interviewed by the New York Times. As he has explained in previous interviews, he doesn’t like offering explanations of what his artwork means. The Times article underscored his sentiments and revealed John’s jokey side with what is now one of our favorite quotes.

Mr. Johns himself is loath to offer biographical interpretations of his work — or any interpretations, for that matter. He is famously elusive and his humor tends toward the sardonic. He once joked that, of the dozens of books that have been written about his art, his favorite one was written in Japanese. What he liked is that he could not understand it.