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Blank City


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By Celine Danhier

Documentary – 94min

BLANK CITY tells the long-overdue tale of a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. In the late 1970’s and mid 80’s, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today.

Directed by French newcomer Céline Danhier, BLANK CITY weaves together an oral history of the “No Wave Cinema” and “Cinema of Transgression” movements through compelling interviews with the luminaries who began it all. Featured players include acclaimed directors Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, actor-writer-director Steve Buscemi, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Hip Hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, photographer Richard Kern as well as Amos Poe, James Nares, Eric Mitchell, Susan Seidelman, Beth B, Scott B, Charlie Ahearn and Nick Zedd. Fittingly, the soundtrack includes: Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Contortions, The Bush Tetras, Sonic Youth and many more.

blankcityfilm.com

©2010 Pure Fragment Films

Legends of Roubaix: Rik Van Looy

From the Rapha Blog, by Joe Hall

Known as Rik II, the Emperor of Herentals and the King of the Classics, Henri “Rik” Van Looy’s royal status came about because he was the first man to win all five major classics. This Belgian phenomenon of the post-war period is sometimes overlooked by his younger compatriots Merckx and De Vlaeminck. Yet this powerful rider from the Flandrian town of Herentals competed against riders such as Jacques Anquetil and Louison Bobet.

He took the Hell of the North spoils no less than three times in his career, a feat only bettered by one other man – De Vlaeminck, his rightful heir as the King of the Classics. A powerful rouleur but also a very good climber, in 1961, riding for Faema, he won Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege which saw him become the first rider to take all five Monuments, having also won Milan San-Remo, Giro di Lombardia and the Tour of Flanders. In 1962 Van Looy won Paris–Roubaix for a second time and in the same season also won the Tour of Flanders, another Gent–Wevelgem, and two stages of the Tour of Italy.

In 1965, Van Looy scored 42 race victories including his third Paris–Roubaix title. Although Van Looy’s dominance was challenged by new Belgian star Eddy Merckx as the 1960s progressed, he still managed to take second in the 1967 edition. Van Looy also rode to nine six day victories with Dutchman Peter Post.

One of the latest Rapha Club Jerseys honours Rik Van Looy, the King of the Classics.

High Fascism, by Rhonda Garelick

From NY Times

Fashion is more than business in France: it’s a mythology, a secular religion, a source of national pride, especially during Fashion Week, when the country recalls its history as the birthplace of haute couture.

In recent days, though, in response to the anti-Semitic diatribe by Christian Dior’s creative director, John Galliano, the French have been recalling a far more ominous chapter in their history.

According to witnesses, a drunken Mr. Galliano exploded at a woman seated near him in a Paris bar. “Dirty Jewish face, you should be dead,” he is said to have told her. “Your boots are of the lowest quality, your thighs are of the lowest quality. You are so ugly I don’t want to see you. I am John Galliano!”

France is highly sensitive to such matters, and reprisals came quickly. Dior fired Mr. Galliano, who now faces charges of using a racial insult, a crime in France. But beyond the spectacle of one man’s abhorrent politics, the episode invites consideration of the curious relationship between French fashion and fascism.

During the Occupation, the Nazis and their French allies recognized the power and national prestige of the French fashion industry and sought to harness it. When the collaborationist Vichy government took over direction of the French lifestyle magazine Paris Soir, it announced in its pages a “summer of couture … and shopping.” The Nazis were so enamored with fashion’s place in French culture that in their plans for postwar Europe, they stipulated that, unlike other industries, the fashion sector would remain in France.

“Every woman in Paris is a living propaganda poster, the universal function of the Frenchwoman is to remain chic,” wrote one fashion journalist in the early 1940s. “Frenchwomen are the repositories of chic, because this inheritance is inscribed in their race,” wrote another. And as Vichy continued to toe the Nazi line about Aryan physical fitness, more French fashion magazines began focusing on exercise and diet for women.

At the root of the whole system is the most elusive myth of all: the impossible promise that fashion can vanquish physical inadequacy and aging, conferring the beauty and youth we see on the runways and on every page of Vogue — a cult of physical perfection very much at home in the history of fascism.

And although we insist on the racial diversity of fashion’s current standards of beauty, the fascists’ body ideal has persisted and expanded far beyond Europe. The hallmarks of the Nazi aesthetic — blue eyes, blond hair, athletic fitness and sharp-angled features — are the very elements that define what we call the all-American look, still visible in the mythic advertising landscapes of designers like (the decidedly non-Aryan) Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

Last week the French daily Le Monde declared that by firing Mr. Galliano, Dior had sounded the “death knell for the myth of the omnipotent designer.” That may be premature, given the myth’s deep roots. But the drunken ramblings of one man in a bar may have set off an important discussion about a less pretty undercurrent in a multibillion-dollar industry. Happy Fashion Week.

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Rhonda Garelick, a professor of English and performing arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is working on a cultural biography of Coco Chanel. Image by Jillian Tamaki.

The Master Chart of Fashion Influence

From WSJ, by Ray A. Smith and Maryanne Murray

The fashion world may often inhabit its own bubble, but fashion doesn’t exist in its own vacuum. Designers are influenced by other designers, past and present, whether they realize it or not—and whether they admit it or not.

There are varying degrees of osmosis, homage paying, and “borrowing” during fashion week as well as camps and schools of thought. Ideas run from designer to designer, especially from one generation to the next.

Some younger designers, like Prabal Gurung, have formal mentors. His is Carolina Herrera. Each attended the other’s show this week and it’s clear there is some link between Mr. Gurung’s polished elegance and that of his mentor as well as lions like Oscar de la Renta. Derek Lam worked at Michael Kors and surely some of Mr. Kors’ aesthetic seeped into Mr. Lam’s own.

The X Factor

From the NY Times

Nothing to Loose

By Monsieur Qui

XOOOOX, London + Berlin

Via unurth

Rapha + Paul Smith – A Conversation

By Rapha

Be Linen Movie

By Benoit MILLOT

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