Category Archives: Urban Life

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.”

HAIRY: WHEN YOUR PERSONAL MODE OF TRANSPORT NEEDS A HAIRCUT

You are looking at this photo and you’re thinking “WTF?” Maybe you’re even mouthing the letters as you think them, a just barely audible sound escaping between your lips.

Maybe you’re vocalizing the question with the actual words instead of the initialism: “What the F*ck?!?!” with an emphasis on the last word. (Assuming you’re at work, your co-workers are glancing towards you for a half-second after you utter this.)

All of these are proper, reasonable responses to the subject of the photo pictured here: A hairy, furry beach-cruisey bicycle parked at the bike rack at the popular Superba restaurant in Venice, Los Angeles.

This hirsute bicycle is either a large fashion accessory, a sartorial lifestyle statement piece extended to one’s transport and/or an art project. Perhaps there’s some functionality — the ride is somehow “softer” (?).  Perhaps it’s all these things. In any case, it looks as if Chewbacca took the form of bike and sprayed Sun In all over his over-follicled body. Amaze.

PRETTY IN PINK: ON THE SCENE AT THE PAUL SMITH “PINK WALL”

Swamped by a preening horde posing for carefully-crafted, eye-catching seflies, the parking lot at the Los Angeles store of U.K. fashion designer Paul Smith is flanked by a massive pink wall and has become as much a destination for impromptu Instagram photo shoots as it is for the cars of the well-heeled clothes-horses looking for stylish British designer duds.