Pica~Post No.14

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The World Wide Issue

New York!

Rome! Blackburn!

No.14:

~ PICA



Creative Direction: Nigel Lawson & Steve Sanderson

PICA~POST

Editor: Sam Waller

Photos: Adam Hindmarch, Sam Waller & the Lo Lifes

No. 14

Design: SJ Hockett / Wonder Room Studio

Words: Harry Longstaff, Sam Waller & Eddy Rhead

Styling: Liam Daly & Steve Sanderson Comic: David Bailey Clothes Wearers: Ebo Nwabuokei, Chris Matthews & Ekun Richard Printed by: MARCs & Push Print Thanks to Madison at Powerhouse Books, Simon at YMC and anyone else who helped out in any shape or form. Much appreciated.

www.oipolloi.com @oipolloi

WORLD WIDE Ruminations from the Editor 03 Un Grande Viaggio Cinematografico Italiano 06 Lo And Behold 10 On Holiday By Mistake 24 Wild Times 31 He Did Create 36 Rich Lineage In Post Organic 44

The World Wide Issue

Illustration: Thomas Slater & Stuart Fear

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Different Kinds Of Trainers From Mail Order Specialists Oi Polloi a d i da s

Nike

350 Oyster £100.00 Air Max 93 £110.00 Bermuda £79.00 Air Max 97 £145.00 B W A r my £85.00 Eternal Future Campus £ 8 9 . 0 0 A i r Va p o r m a x P l u s £175.00 Clmba SPZL £ 1 2 0 . 0 0 Air Zoom Mariah £129.00 Deerupt Runner £ 7 9 . 0 0 F l y k n i t R a c e r EQT Bask ADV £ 8 9 . 0 0 Air Zoom Spiridon UK £ 1 1 4 . 0 0 EQT Cushion ADV £ 1 0 9 . 0 0 A i r Vo r t e x £75.00 EQT Suppor t 93/17 £ 1 4 9 . 0 0 EQT Suppor t 93/17 £ 1 4 9 . 0 0 EQT Suppor t 93/17 £ 1 6 9 . 0 0 GTX Oi Polloi Star Master £ 4 9 . 0 0 EQT Suppor t £ 1 2 9 . 0 0 Star Dribble £ 5 5 . 0 0 Mid ADV PK Star Master £ 4 9 . 0 0 Glenbuck SPZL £ 1 0 0 . 0 0 Star Master Mono £ 4 9 . 0 0 Handball Kreft SPZL £ 8 5 . 0 0 UW Star Master £ 7 0 . 0 0 H a n d b a l l To p O y s t e r £ 1 0 0 . 0 0

N ov e s ta

Nike

Hulton SPZL Indoor Kreft SPZL Indoor Super L A Tr a i n e r Lacombe SPZL Montreal 76 Nizza Padiham SPZL Prophere P W H U H o l i Te n n i s H To b a c c o UltraBOOST UltraBOOST Laceless UltraBOOST Uncaged

£ 9 0 . 0 0 £ 8 0 . 0 0 £ 7 9 . 0 0 £ 7 9 . 0 0 £ 1 0 0 . 0 0 £ 8 5 . 0 0 £ 5 5 . 0 0 £ 8 5 . 0 0 £ 8 5 . 0 0 £ 1 0 0 . 0 0 £ 8 5 . 0 0 £ 1 4 9 . 0 0 £ 1 6 9 . 0 0 £149.00

Converse 1 9 7 0 s C h u c k Tay l o r All Star 1 9 7 0 s C h u c k Tay l o r All Star Ox One Star

£70.00 £ 6 5 . 0 0 £ 6 5 . 0 0

New Balance

Reebok Club C 85 Club C 85 Archive Phase 1 Pro Wo r k o u t L o C l e a n Wo r k o u t L o C l e a n I D Wo r k o u t P l u s Wo r k o u t P l u s M C C Wo r k o u t P l u s R 1 2

Spring Court B2 Classic Canvas G 2 C l a s s i c H e a v y Tw i l l

+44 (0)207 734 2585 soho@oipolloi.com

W W W. O I P O L L O I . C O M

£69.00 £ 7 5 . 0 0

Superga 2390 Cotu Classic

£ 5 2 . 0 0

Va n s

UA Authentic 44 CRT300EE £ 6 5 . 0 0 D X A n a h e i m Fa c t o r y ML574EGW £70.00 UA Classic Slip-On 98 OM576OGG £150.00 D X A n a h e i m Fa c t o r y Made In The UK UA Mid Skool 37 OM576OGN £ 1 5 0 . 0 0 D X A n a h e i m Fa c t o r y Made In The UK UA Old Skool 36 U520CI £ 7 0 . 0 0 D X A n a h e i m Fa c t o r y

1 Marshall Street, Soho London W1F 9BA

£ 8 0 . 0 0 £ 9 0 . 0 0 £ 8 0 . 0 0 £70.00 £ 8 0 . 0 0 £ 7 0 . 0 0 £ 8 0 . 0 0 £ 7 9 . 9 9

£55.00 £55.00 £65.00 £60.00

63 Thomas Street Manchester M4 1LQ +44 (0) 161 831 7870 manchester@oipolloi.com


or

at i o n

Edit

in

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from t s

The planet is pretty massive, but thanks to recent developments in travel and technology, it sometimes doesn’t feel like it. Places, objects, flavours and feelings once reserved for intrepid explorers like Marco Polo and Phileas Fogg can now be enjoyed by the masses with fairly minimal effort. And even though the exotic is slowly becoming the everyday, there are still plenty of unseen gems out there waiting to be uncovered — you’ve just got to look a little harder.

All of them are good.

The World Wide Issue

This issue of Pica~Post is full of things from all over this strange rock we call home. Some of them are time-honoured classics you’ll know about, and some of them are relatively unknown wonders that might be new to you.

03

– Rum


The good lord Ralph Lauren continues to weave wonder s and melt minds. This new stuff is presumably what the Lo Lifes would wear if they were sailing a catamaran down the River Irwell. Bright c o l o u r s . . . c h u n ky s t r i p e s . . . massive yachts thrashing through the ocean... Captain Ralph, we salute you!

K E AC G

YO

GI

PA T A L O

H

A A l r i g h t , P a t a g o n i a a r e n ’t f r o m H aw a i i , but these here Pataloha shir ts might a s w e l l b e . I f To n y M o n t a n a w a s a pet detective...

ES

AD S UM

SH

O

NI

L AU

RALPH

REN

Adsum merge outdoor wear with spor tswear to create a real laid-back soup. Not only do they make some of the best hats in the headwear realm, but their jackets are really something to behold.

A C G s t a n d s f o r ‘A l l Conditions Gear’, and t h a t ’s e x a c t l y w h a t this stuff is. Climbing up dodgy cliff-faces... camping in bear-filled caver ns... r unning away from the aforementioned bears... this stuff does it all.

On surface level, these cracking comfor t s h o e s f r o m Yo g i don't share a whole lot with Hanna-Barbera's titular pic-a-nic p i n c h i n g b e a r, b u t l o o k c l o s e r. . . l o o k h a r d e r. Ye p , t h a n k s to their or thopaedic d e s i g n , t h e y ’r e p e r f e c t f o r lengthy woodland stakeouts and pegging it from par k ranger s. They're also b o b - o n f o r r e g u l a r, e v e r y d a y activities that don't include food theft.


Fr e n c h f o o t w e a r b a r n - s t o r m e r s Paraboot have melded minds with the Gallic wor kwear wonder-wor ker s a t A r p e n t e u r, a n d t h e r e s u l t s a r e r e a l l y s o m e t h i n g . C h u n ky s o l e s . . . ultra-classy leather that smells really nice... slight Paninaro sandwich bar f l a v o u r. . . t h e q u i n t e s s e n t i a l l y e s s e n tial summer strollin’ shoe.

ARPEN

T

EU

Striped Breton jer seys have been a tor so mainstay for donkey's yonks n o w, a n d f o r g o o d r e a s o n : t h e y ' r e c o m f y, t h e y l o o k ace and they've got that 'seasoned-seafarer' je ne sais quoi that simply cannot be scoffed at. Orcival are par ticularly good at making this kind of thing – just one look at those pastel stripes is enough to cause even the most level-headed gentleman to abandon their land-lubbing existence for a life of adventure on the high seas.

The Wonderful World of Wares

R

Fujito is one of those Japanese brands who make better Americana than the Americans themselves. Combining fancy fabrics with subtle details, this lot take time-tested classics like the humble tr ucker jacket or the slantpocket fatigue jacket, and elevate t h e m t o h e i g h t s s o h i g h y o u ’l l n e e d a parachute to get back down.

RA

G

We d o n ’t need to tell you that Stone Island make really good jackets, but s e e i n g a s w e ’v e g o t some space to fill on this page, w e ’l l r a t t l e o n a b o u t t h e m f o r a b i t a n y w a y. J u s t l o o k a t t h i s h o o d e d b e a c h parka thing here. Even on that relatively lo-res picture that looks like it was printed using an old potato found in the back of the cupboard, it still looks mint. If Stone Island w a s a r e a l i s l a n d , w e ’d b e s w i m m i n g o u t t h e r e r i g h t n o w.

C I VA L

SUPER

STON E

ISL AND

OR

FU J I TO

The Superga 2390 is a long-lost gem from the depths o f t h e S u p e r g a ’s e n v i a b l e a r c h i v e . Originally designed for militar y training, these have that classic, stripped-back Italian aroma, with the added robustness of a toe-cap. Ideal for arduous drill-hall wor kouts, laid-back strolls around dusty Mediterranean towns and most things in-between.


Pica~Post No.14

E D N A R UN G E N I C O I VIAGG O C I F A R G MATO O N A I L ITA

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Words: Harry Longstaff Pictures: Stuart Fear

If you happen to run into Martin Scorsese while walking to Tesco or something, and you ask him which country has contributed the most to cinema, I reckon he might just say Italy. While it's easy to see why he may have a bias (his family emigrated from Sicily, and he grew up in N.Y.C.'s Little Italy), when you have a ganders at the evidence, it's hard to dispute. He also has more Oscars than you, so I wouldn't try to argue. With that in mind, let's have a look at some of The Boot’s finest cinematic outputs...


(A Grand Italian Cinematic Voyage)

Does this one need an introduction? Clint Eastwood's breakout role... the defining film of the Spaghetti Western genre... a rip-off of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo... you best believe it's A Fistful of Dollars! A Fistful of Dollars concerns itself with The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) as he enters the town of San Miguel and plays two warring crime families against each other in order to bring them down. Due to the 'peplum' (or ‘sword and sandals’ films, American-produced low-budget epics shot in Italy) films of the '50s, which opened the possibility of Italian films receiving American financing and distribution, the spaghetti western was born. The name was coined by Spanish journalist Alfonso Sánchez due to the fact that these films were directed primarily by Italians, shot in places like Spain and Italy and featured copious amounts of blood and gore.

The World Wide Issue

PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) SERGIO LEONE 1964

After a couple of years being unknown (AFOD's distribution in America was halted because Sergio Leone and his producers were being sued by Akira Kurosawa and Toho... for, you know, stealing their film) A Fistful of Dollars was internationally embraced, spawned countless sequels and remakes, and launched the careers of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood (who was an unknown TV actor at the time). We don't like to condone plagiarism, but if you're going to do it, take a tip from A Fistful of Dollars' handbook and do it well!

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Pica~Post No.14

LADRI DI BICICLETTE (BICYCLE THIEVES) VITTORIO DE SICA 1948

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Next up we've got one of the greatest films of all time, and the pinnacle of Italian neorealism: Bicycle Thieves. Bicycle Thieves is the story of a destitute father desperately searching post-WW2 Rome for his stolen bicycle. Without his bike, he'll lose his job, which in a country that was recently bombed to all hell during a big ol' war, were hard to come by. For those not sure what the term 'Italian neorealism' means, I'll explain: Italian neorealism was a cinematic movement born after Italy's defeat in the Second World War. Unlike the Telefoni Bianchi ‘white telephone’ films of the '30s, which were usually populated by upper-class characters promoting conservative values, neorealist films dealt with working class people overcoming extreme everyday hardships, with a more leftwing, humanist slant to their politics. The directors of the neorealist movement used non-professional actors and shot on location. This was partly due to the fact that all the film studios had been destroyed during the war, but also due to a desire to tell stories from new perspectives, and film them in a gritty, realistic way. Bicycle Thieves' impact was huge; it influenced countless other cinematic movements and still continues to be a source of inspiration for today's filmmakers. Not bad for a film about pinching bikes.

DIVOZIO ALL'ITALIANA (DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE) PIETRO GERMI, 1961 One of the funniest films I've ever seen, and one of the greatest uses of a Hawaiian shirt in cinema, here's Marcello Mastroianni in Divorce Italian Style. Divorce Italian Style is the darkly comic tale of an impoverished Sicilian baron who comes up with a remarkably convoluted scheme to do away with his wife so he can legally marry his cousin. The film gleefully pokes fun at male chauvinism and an Italian society that prohibited divorce, but allowed light sentences for ‘honour killing’ (murdering a spouse that was unfaithful). This film is a part of, and takes its name from the Commedia all'italiana ‘Italian style comedy’ genre that booted off in the late '50s. These films took aim on ‘spicy’ social issues and used comedy as a method of offering social critique, taking shots at everything from the country's rapidly growing middle class, to the sexual mores of contemporary Italy. If you're after belly laughs aplenty, or advice on how to do away with your missus so you can marry your 16 year-old cousin, Divorce Italian Style might be the film for you.


GOMORRA (GOMORRAH) MATTEO GARRONE 2008

Probably the best-looking horror movie ever committed to celluloid and the cause of soiled trousers aplenty, here's the art-house masterpiece Suspiria. Based on Thomas De Quincey's essay Suspiria de Profundis (Sighs from the Depths), Suspiria is the story of American ballet student Suzy Bannon (Jessica Harper) who transfers to a dance academy in Germany. When a bunch of the academy's staff and students end up dead in various grisly ways, Suzy comes to the conclusion that the academy is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural. Suspiria is considered to be the crowning jewel of a sub-genre of Italian horror called ‘Giallo’. Giallo means yellow in Italian, and takes its name from a series of cheap paperback mystery novels with yellow covers that were popular in post-fascist Italy. Giallo films are, at their core, mystery films that incorporate elements of the supernatural, and take influence from psychological horror, body horror, slasher and sexploitation cinema. Basically, a smorgasbord of things you wouldn't want to watch with your mother (I should hope). However, Suspiria is just as much an art-house film as it is a Giallo film. Rather than devote its running time to story and plot, the film focuses on the visuals and sound, creating a haunting, sensory, hallucinogenic experience. This is all well and good on paper, but when you're actually watching it, the film is a lot less intellectually stimulating and more trouser-wettingly terrifying.

Finally we've got Gomorrah, a film so brutal and bleak in its depiction of organised crime, it'll make you painfully regret every hard-earned pound you spent on Scarface or Goodfellas posters. Gomorrah is an adaptation of undercover reporter Roberto Saviano’s best-selling exposé of the Naples Mafia. Gomorrah reveals how many facets of contemporary Italian society the hand of the Mafia touches, from waste 'disposal' to the world of haute couture. While not explicitly a 'cinematic movement' Gomorrah (the title combines Sodom’s sister city and the Neapolitan Mafia 'Camorra') can be thought of as a reaction to American gangster movies. Unlike films like Goodfellas or The Godfather that romanticise Mafia activities, or at least look at them with rose-tinted glasses, Gomorrah shows how the Mafia as it really is – mind-numbingly dull, brutal and impersonal. The film reveals just how many lives the Comorra clan has destroyed and barely gives its characters a morsel of likeability. There’s no Michael Corleone, no families, no anti-heroes, no redemption and there are certainly no scenes of ridiculous grenade launchers being fired at inanimate objects... Oh wait, no, there are. My bad.

Right. Hope you enjoyed that grand voyage. If there's ever a pub quiz Italian cinema, you should be more answer at least five of the questions.

Italian cinematic at your local on than equipped to Arrivederci amici!

The World Wide Issue

SUSPIRIA (SIGHS) DARIO ARGENTO 1977

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Pica~Post No.14

an interview with Rack Lo

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Ralph Lauren has always been a master of appropriation — from hunting jackets to polo shirts, the great man’s finest designs are heavily indebted to the world of functional clobber. But what happens when the appropriator is... er... appropriated? In the late 80s, at a time when Ralph’s American dream was aimed squarely at the minted elite, a crew of working-class kids from New York took to nabbing his most audacious creations from the racks as a way to stand out on the streets of Brooklyn. And whilst most would look daft in head-totoe Polo ski attire, this lot managed to pull it off, helping to take hip-hop style beyond fat laces and leather tracksuits. Rack Lo was one of the original Lo Lifes, and is still heavily involved today, running his own brand dedicated to Polo-inspired paraphernalia, and helping to organise the various Lo Life gatherings that take place throughout the year. We sent him a barrage of questions via transAtlantic e-mail, and thankfully, he replied...

   by Sam Waller


SW: RL:

Do you remember being into clothes growing up?

Oh man, I remember well. As a kid, my brother was more into materialism and brand names, and I was satisfied with whatever my mother and father were able to provide for me, but as I got older things changed and I became very materialistic. Growing up I remember wearing Lee jeans, Pro Keds and Converse. Back then it was more about your style as opposed to what brand you was wearing — people cherished the look more than the name.

SW:

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 80s, how important was it to wear the right stuff?

RL:

SW:

When did the Lo Life Crew start? When did it go from being a few people wearing Polo stuff, to a full crew?

First, it had amazing color ways and wasn’t prevalent in the United States ghettos. Polo wasn’t designed for poor urban kids; it was made for the upper class, waspy and collegiate kids. So when we started wearing we took it to a whole different level. The Lo Lifes made Polo popular in the ghetto. We took what Ralph Lauren designed and created new looks and styles based around our concept of ‘Lo Down’. Lo Down is a term used when a person is wearing Polo Ralph Lauren from head to toe.

SW:

I was going to ask you about that. Could someone ever go too far and wear too much Polo stuff?

RL:

Many of the times we dressed in what we called ‘layers’ — layers of nothing but the finest Ralph Lauren Polo on the market. From head to toe all of our clothing was Polo Ralph Lauren. This particular dress code shocked a lot of people, and even Ralph Lauren was amazed. For us it was never about just having Polo, but more about how you wore and coordinated the Polo — that is what made you special.

SW:

Do you remember the first Polo item you got?

RL:

The first Polo item I remember shoplifting was the Anniversary Cross Flags Sweater in 1987. An OG named Mike-Lo (cousin of Friz-Lo) had taken us to Riverside Square Mall out in Bergen County, New Jersey. We had taken the sweaters from a major department named Saks Fifth Avenue.

SW:

RL:

What was New York like in the late 80s and early '90s? What was a normal day like back then? What are your memories of that time?

SW:

New York was very violent and filled with a lot of criminals from all communities. At any time you could have lost your life for the pettiest things — people just didn’t see the value in life back in those times. A normal day for me was doing crime, and by me engaging in criminal activities I was able to sustain who I was and my lavish lifestyle.

It started in 1988. The crew got bigger and gained more members once I decided to unite both parties, Marcus Garvey Village and St Johns. Then some time later, the late, great Boostin Billy started a chapter in Philadelphia, and it started to pick up from there.

Why Polo? What was the appeal of this stuff?

Polo just stood out the most. For some reason we were just attracted to it.

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It was very important because what you wore told a story in itself — what you wore pretty much separated you from the others. For instance, if you didn’t have street respect or a reputation, there were some things you just couldn’t wear, and it would be very dangerous to do so. So in Brooklyn before you wanted to get fly and fresh, you had to know how to fight and defend yourself. If you didn’t have a reputation for defending yourself, you became what we called ‘The Herb’, and people would take advantage of you anytime you were seen. In Brooklyn getting fresh was a part of the street life for many of the street legends.

RL:

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SW:

The whole thing of nabbing and wearing aspirational clothing wasn’t too different to what casuals were doing in England and the Paninaro were doing in Italy around a similar time. Were you aware of any of those subcultures?

Our first tactic was called ‘geeing’ or ‘city slicking’. Using this strategy was more of a calm approach. Even though we wore bright colors, we were still clever in the stores. Then I coined the term ‘million man rush’ as I helped usher in our newest strategy called ‘steaming’. This is where we just entered the store with a mob of like 50 heads and would just snatch what we wanted and headed to the door. I would say the ‘Million Man Rush’ tactic was the more dangerous. And further, that act brought you a heavier jail/prison sentence if you were apprehended.

No, I never heard of those, sounds interesting out in England though. Dope!

Pica~Post No.14

RL:

RL:

SW:

Why do you think people gravitate to this high-class functional stuff? A lot of people wear hunting jackets or skiing coats, but they’ll never go hunting or skiing.

RL:

That’s just how the ghetto operates. Although the clothes were made for those occasions and atmospheres we simply turned those wears into hood fashion artefacts. We never played by the rules, we made our own rules.

I only got my hands on Polo because I risked my freedom to do so SW: Did you RL: Yes, I have

ever get caught?

been caught on many occasions. As a result I was locked up in juvenile detention and I was an inmate on the infamous ‘Riker’s Island’. But in my case I was still fortunate because I never spent time in prison — only in city jails for very short time periods. The longest I spent incarcerated was four months.

SW:

Did all this add to the appeal? I suppose if someone just went out and bought all this stuff, it would almost be like cheating.

RL:

Yes, definitely. But to be honest, none of us could afford to go into the store and buy Polo. I only got my hands on Polo because I risked my freedom to do so. My mother and father never purchased Polo for me, so from the very beginning it was a gamble for one’s freedom.

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SW:

I suppose it’s probably pointless talking about the Lo Life Crew without talking about boosting or racking. Wearing all that bright gear, you lot were hardly inconspicuous – so what were your tactics for getting your hands on Polo gear?

SW:

The Polo stuff at that time seemed to be particularly intense. Lots of bright colors and big logos — what were the main items you’d go for?

RL:

My favorite polo pieces are the Crest, the Yacht, the Anniversary Cross Flags and the Cookie.

SW:

I’ve read in other articles about something called the ‘Endless Bear’ knit – a jumper with a classic Ralph bear on the front, which is wearing a jumper with a classic Ralph bear on the front, which is also wearing a classic Ralph bear on the front. Does this thing really exist?


RL:

That doesn’t exist. And if it does – it sounds corny. Just too much happening in one sweater. Sometimes simple is better.

SW:

Was there a competitive element to all this? Were you trying to one-up your friends by finding rarer stuff?

RL:

SW:

What else were you lot wearing back then? What else was in the mix?

RL:

Besides I wore Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Nautica, Gucci, Descente, Head, Prince, Sergio Tacchini and Coca-Cola. There was a lot of fresh brands we rocked.

SW:

Obviously the clothes were a big part of it, but what else was Lo Life about? What else was going on?

RL:

Everything that was a part of hiphop was happening. Remember this was 1988 the golden era of hip-hop. But besides the clothes we did a lot of crime, partying and just running the streets. It was all about survival. So either you were a street kid or you played it safe and stayed out of trouble. But for us, we always found trouble, because most of the times we initiated it.

SW:

How has New York changed since the late 80s? Do you think you lot could get away with the same stuff if you were growing up now?

RL:

New York has definitely changed. The time I’m reflecting on is considered ‘The Old New York’. Nowadays, there are cameras everywhere. The city is filled with surveillance, so yes in the current times getting caught would be a realistic matter. Plus, there are a lot more cops on the streets now. In the 1980s you had cops, but you also had crime fighters like ‘The Guardian Angels’ who also tried to prevent a lot of the madness from happening on the New York City streets. It worked sometimes, but for the most part, the criminals prevailed. But I know for a fact, if the LoLife’s were committing the same acts in the 1980s in the new millennium a lot of us would be in jail for decades and life on the back of the sentence. Because a lot of Lo-Life’s are three time losers meaning they already have three felony convictions. So a fourth one will keep them incarcerated for life. 2018 is not the time to being doing anything stupid.

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Yes, every day each Lo Life’s intention was to out-dress the next. The competition was high amongst individuals in the crew and we also competed against other crews as well. Some of the greatest show downs took place at Empire Skating Rink.

"for the most part, the criminals prevailed" 13


SW: What are your thoughts on streetwear today? Now that kids can just sit on a computer and buy whatever they want, is it still ‘street’? RL: No,

it’s not street. I’m not into the new fashion and styles — I like gear that stands the test of time. Nowadays, a lot of the brands don’t have staying power. Polo has been here since 1967 and it’s still so relevant — it’s timeless and will never go out of style. This staying power is what all of the other brands fight and struggle for. Will they last for the next 10 or 20 years? I see clothing brands come and go so often.

SW:

Have you ever heard what Ralph thinks of all this?

Pica~Post No.14

RL:

Yes, Ralph had no choice but to acknowledge our movement. I never cared about meeting Ralph or none of that. He was a nonfactor in my life as far as my aspirations are concerned. I’m a realist. The Lo-Lifes go hand in hand with Ralph. In the same way he created a brand, so did the Lo-Lifes. We have come a long way and we are still on the front lines doing it big.

SW:

What do you get up to these days? What’s an average day like for you now?

RL:

Nowadays, I’m all about business, travelling, family, being a great husband and father and truly helping other people realize and pursue their dreams. I view myself as the Creative Director and Visionary in all that I engage in. I have a lot of great things coming down the pipeline.

SW:

Sounds good. Any wise words you’d like to add?

RL: Yes,

An be my to

check out my book Lo Life: American Classic. It feels great to a published author, and this is just first book, I have plenty of stories tell.

   Thank You! 2L’s Up and SaLLute!

  

"Polo has been here since 1967 and it’s still so relevant – it’s timeless and will never go out of style" 14


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As we all know, in the mid-80s, a new and exciting new sound rose - like a phoenix from the smouldering ashes of disco - in the clubs of Chicago, Detroit and New York. But when house music reached these shores, it would soundtrack a uniquely British scene. Briefly labelled acid house before giving birth to an even more hedonistic offspring, rave, this small scene, which reached its wild, lawless apogee in the North West England, would sweep the country and eventually go global. While the music and personalities of the scene have come under endless scrutiny over the last three decades, little has been written about one fundamental aspect of that whole early experience - the buildings in which we did our dancing.

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WILD TIMES

by

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People have been getting off their heads and dancing through the night in Britain, indoors and out, since before Britain even existed. And it wasn’t just Stonehenge and Regency gin palaces. There are apocryphal stories of US Air Force personnel, stationed at Burtonwood near Warrington during World War 2, clearing out the base’s hangars and holding all-night parties. The music was supplied by live jazz and swing bands, alongside records the servicemen had bought from the States played over rudimentary sound systems. Thanks to the amphetamines given to air crews so they could stay alert on bombing missions, staying up all night was not a problem. Bussed-in local girls made the party complete.

Pica~Post No.14

In the 1960s the happenings, be-ins and love-ins of San Francisco’s hippy scene arrived in the UK.

Events such as the 14-hour Technicolour Dream at Alexandra Palace in 1967 saw bands such as Pink Floyd, The Move and Soft Machine play alongside poets and performance artists. Light shows, oil wheels, strobes and films were projected onto sheets. A full-size helter-skelter was erected inside the venue. And, don’t forget, LSD was not yet illegal in the UK. Back up north, from 1973 until 1981, a former ballroom in Wigan played host to weekly all-nighters – but with a very different soundtrack to those 60s hippy happenings. Wigan Casino was the epicentre of the Northern soul scene. Each weekend, ordinary working class kids travelled there from all over the country. Thanks to archaic licensing restrictions, they couldn’t buy alcohol in the Casino, but the fast tempo of its raw soul music soundtrack, and its extended opening hours (the club was open until 6am) meant that amphetamines, if not compulsory, were certainly beneficial. In stark contrast to the multi-coloured, multi-sensory, multi-media hippy happenings of the previous decade, Northern soul nights were austere affairs. The music was the primary focus. This remains the case for Northern soul fans today. Give them some parquet flooring and they’re happy. It’s fair to say that there is a long and honourable tradition of young people staying up all night, dancing to loud, rhythmic music and getting off their tits, but by the early 80s nightclubs had become little more than places to go for drinking and copping off. The gone

glamour of disco (if it ever existed) had and nightclub décor could possibly be best described as 'tacky'. All that was to change with the opening of The Haçienda. New Order, seeking to establish a new identity after the death of Ian Curtis, were in New York. They spent much of their time getting leathered in nightclubs - most notably Danceteria at 252 West 37th Street - absorbing the post-disco and electro sound that would go on to influence their own music. Back in Manchester, flush with money from New Order record sales, Rob Gretton suggested that Factory Records open a venue. There was some debate within Factory – should it be a gig venue or a nightclub? Maybe it could be both. Either way, everyone agreed that its architectural references were to be the underground clubs of New York and Chicago rather than the tacky discos of the UK.

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The Warehouse in Chicago, where Frankie Knuckles started it all - and the place that gave house music its name - was a former factory with a state-of-the-art soundsystem. The Paradise Garage, home of Larry Levan, was a former garage with little effort put into disguising its former use.

A yacht warehouse isn’t something you’d expect in Manchester, given it is 30-odd miles from the sea and not known for its sailing heritage (apart from Henri Lloyd being based in Salford), but Alan Erasmus found exactly that on Whitworth Street West. Instead of trying to smooth out the building’s rough edges, designer Ben Kelly adapted many of its original features. And rather than trying to facilitate a sense of exclusive glamour, Kelly incorporated detailing that was literally straight off the street, with cats-eyes and bollards used to delineate the dancefloor from the rest of the club. The steel girders that held up the roof continued to ground level, right through the middle of the dancefloor. Kelly, taking his cue from Peter Saville’s promotional artwork for previous Factory events at the Russell Club in Hulme, used bright, industrial paint and warning chevrons to make them into a design feature. The Haçienda’s lighting rig owed more to theatre lighting than to club lightshows, partly so the space could be adapted to provide different moods for live acts and club nights. Conventional wisdom says that the stage should be at one end of a long rectangular space like the interior of The Haçienda, but Anthony Wilson insisted the stage should run down the side of the building, reasoning that the dancefloor should take equal prominence. Bands and audiences often found this left a lot to be desired, acoustically. But some early teething problems at club nights were remedied by simply adding more bassbins. The Haçienda, in its early years, was struggling to find its identity and purpose with Factory's ambitions perhaps not reflecting the mood of the country and Manchester at that time. Until house music came along. House music is a musical form born in no-nonsense, often down-at-heel post-industrial cities. It was made by and for people at the margins of ‘normal’ society. It worked best in similarly austere, post-industrial settings, where it didn’t matter how much you earned, what team you supported, or what school you went to. Early house music was dance music distilled to its basic elements. These elements often sounded like the sounds of heavy industry. The highly-syncopated computer-driven drums and the fat, round bass sounds were machine-made music and, in my view, they are best appreciated in industrial settings. Referencing his home town's two most famous exports – Ford Motor Company and Motown Records, Juan Atkins, on of Detroit's techno pioneers once said “I'm more interested in Ford's robots than Gordy's music." When music is inspired by factories it seems obvious to say that it would sound particularly good in a former factory building. You could argue that one of the reasons that house music in the UK found its spiritual home at The Haçienda was because it just sounded so amazing in that particular space.

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These repurposed commercial premises provided the inspiration for The Haçienda. There were plenty such spaces in Manchester at the time.

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Pica~Post No.14

Will Martin is an acoustic engineer for a huge engineering and construction company and was a long-time Haçienda regular. I was intrigued to know if there was any science behind The Haçienda's unique atmosphere. “The Haçienda’s walls were heavy engineering brickwork, which provided very little absorption at any frequency,” he tells me, “which is not so good. However, there was quite a bit of plasterboard at low level (the bar, balcony and DJ booth) and the glazed roof would provide quite a lot of low-frequency absorption – keeping the bass and kick drum nice and tight. “Acoustic scattering was also important. Acoustic scattering breaks up specular (mirror-like) reflections from flat reflective services to give a more diffuse sound field - increasing the audience’s sense of envelopment. “People absorb a lot of sound, so the sound changes as venues get busier. The sound near the entrance door and café had a lovely reverberant, muddy quality, especially when it wasn’t that busy. Standing away from the direct sound from the system, you’d feel the wash of the late reverberant sound, basically bringing a sense of drama upon entering the venue.” Will also offers another intriguing dimension to the whole experience. “Perception is leaky. We might like the sound of the music because of the aesthetics of the spaces, the venue and the lighting, and even the smell of the smoke machine. We mustn't discount synaesthesia.” Synaesthesia may sound like a Belgium new beat record but it is in fact a condition where your senses 'cross over' and your perception changes. Basically, stimulating one sense will trigger a reaction in another. You experience colours as smells, and sounds as tastes. You know you've had a good night when a bit of synaesthesia kicks in. The bold, uncompromising drama of The Haçienda's architecture, the unique acoustic properties that came with it and the way these properties affected impressionable young people and their perception of bass-heavy, amplified music meant that magic was always going to happen. The drugs helped too (but that’s another story). Acid house was perhaps too dynamic a sound to be confined to one venue in one city. The mill towns of Lancashire had long been home to small but enthusiastic pockets of dancers. Thanks to Northern soul, and the later electro and hip-hop scenes, kids in places like Burnley, Blackburn and Wigan had been dancing to up-tempo imported black dance music for years. The second half of the 20th century had not been kind to East Lancashire however. The cotton trade on which its mills relied had disappeared and the de-industrialisation of the Thatcher years had left these once proud and energetic towns with an air of continual decline and hopelessness. Adopting acid house with their usual gusto but lacking a venue like The Haçienda, the kids of Lancashire created their own venues. After all, there were hundreds of empty warehouses, factories and storage depots around them.

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The

Blackburn

rave

scene

was

born.

In fact, the Blackburn thing is a bit of a misnomer. Lots of towns all along the M65 corridor were fair game. Burnley, Nelson, Colne and Haslingden all hosted all-night raves, some of which have slipped into urban legend. Suddi Raval was half of the group Together, who had a crossover hit with their rave anthem Hardcore Uproar, built around a sample of the crowd at the infamous Nelson party of the same name.


Now a sound designer, and still a musician, Suddi has a much better memory than me. “The parties started on 1 July 1989, and there were 29 Blackburn raves in total,” he says.

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“A particularly memorable one was in a former abattoir. One of the biggest was at Ewood Mill, next door to Blackburn Rovers football ground. It was such a big room that even though you were in the same room as the soundsystem, you couldn’t hear it properly.” Whilst 'rave music' tended to rely on big piano hooks and none-too-subtle vocal samples, Suddi says that whole era is best summed up for him by The Theme by Unique 3 – part of the short lived 'bleep' sound that came out of Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield, mostly on the Warp label. A stark and minimal sound with a subsonic bass and a discordant melody, The Theme does encapsulate much about the environment it was best heard in. Slightly uncomfortable, uncompromising, very tough and literally hitting all the right notes at the bottom and top ends of the dynamic range. Ten thousand people turned up to the party Suddi sampled. Everything went a bit haywire. The Lancashire police, on the whole, were decent sorts who, apart from the obligatory trouble at Blackburn vs Burnley derbies, were rarely troubled by serious public disorder. They’d neither the time nor the inclination to break up parties thrown by a bunch of kids they regarded as doing no real harm. But once crowds went from hundreds to thousands, they called in reinforcements. And when the hard-bitten coppers of Manchester and West Yorkshire got involved, things got very heavy very quickly. “They never really recovered after that,” Suddi remembers. “That was on 24 February 1990.”

The rave scene migrated to more permanent venues, before moving into the so-called superclubs a few years later. And now, apparently, it’s all about huge EDM stadium gigs.

The Haçienda deserves its place in history for its musical and cultural significance but we should not forget that its post-industrial design aesthetic and architectural originality paved the way for countless (mainly inferior) copies. Its whole look still informs bar and club design to this day. As an end point I was trying to think of a particular sound that, for me at least, summed up the early House experience. Not a record that had good musical or nostalgic memories as such but a sound in a record which takes you back, not to a time or place, but to a feeling. I had one in mind and asked both Will and Suddi if they could think of one. All independently, and without prompting, we all mentioned a very specific part of one record that we all agreed on. The Mayday mix of ‘Wild Times’ by DeLite – at 31 secs when the bass drops – I’m sure ex-ravers of a certain vintage will all know what we are talking about and if you weren't lucky enough to experience The Haçienda or an early warehouse rave then this may give you a tiny inkling of what House music experience really sounded like. Many thanks to Will Martin, Suddi Raval and Sean Smith for their help on this article.

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Founded by Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins back in 1995, You Must Create (or Y.M.C. to give it its snappier title), has been a firm Oi Polloi favourite for donkey’s years. It was one of the first things we sold in our old Tib Street shop back in 2002, and although a fair bit has changed in the world since then, their trademark blend of stripped-back design, high-end fabrics and left-field cultural references is still as flavoursome as ever. Fraser is the man who designs the stuff. Curious to hear the yarn behind the garms, I made the perilous voyage down to Brighton to hassle him with some questions...

Words: Sam Waller

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Fraser Moss from YMC

Pica~Post No.14

He Did Create: An Interview with...


Starting from the beginning, where did you grow up? Newport in South Wales. I grew up in that period when youth culture was really important, and it was all led by music.

How did you end up working with clothes? Was it something you were always into? I was working in a sports warehouse. I was working there and thinking, “I’ve got to get out of here.” So I’d get the coach up to London, and in those days it was all about the Kings Road. I used to go up and down there trying to get a job. I ended up getting a job at Vivienne Westwood, at World’s End. It was just after all the Seditionaries stuff, so it was like a dream getting to work for her. But then I got sacked because I got pissed up and fell asleep on the counter — someone came in and robbed half the shop. So then I started up Professor Head, which was dealing in old school trainers.

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Was anyone into old trainers then? That must have been a relatively new thing at that time. It was just us and the Japanese. We’d go to the library and get the Yellow Pages for a district of America, then sit there all afternoon ringing them up to see if they had anything. Then we’d get on a plane, hire a van and then go around Boston or somewhere. The shit we found was unbelievable. You’d go into the basement and they’d have full stacks of Jordan 1s and the Wally Waffles. And they’d be selling them for two or three dollars a pair. We had this little office in Soho and a stall in Camden Market, and we’d just sell to the Japanese. It was good while it lasted. I wish I’d taken photos, but no one had cameras — no one cared. How long did you do this for? Until our addictions collapsed the business. By 94 it was going tits up. In 95 we started Y.M.C. I was too young for punk, but I was old enough to recognise it. At that time it was more that post-punk thing — we could see what was happening up in Manchester. There were only two magazines you could buy which involved style – I.D. and The Face. And you couldn’t even get those in Wales. I had to subscribe to them like some saddo, getting them delivered to my mum’s house. You were limited on the knowledge you could gain.

How come you started Y.M.C.? What was the thing that set it off? I was really sick of the fact that the only fashion that was available at the time was big Italian labels, hip-hop or skate. I’m not against any of that, but it was either American or European stuff, and I just felt there was a need for understated, minimal clothing that people could create their own style with. At that time, people didn’t have quality simple clothing — it wasn’t available.

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Where does the name come from? It’s a quote or something isn’t it? Yeah, that’s Raymond Loewy, who did the Shell logo and the Coca-Cola logo. He was one of the first graphic guys who felt he could put his hand to everything. He’d design a logo, he would do architecture and then he’d do a can of soup. He was multi-tasking. He did this lecture, and he said, “The thing is, you must create.” And we just nabbed that. At that time it was all very well me being anti-this and anti-that, but I had to do something. It was a lot easier back then. The world was much more D.I.Y. But to be honest, apart from the ideas, our first collection was shit — the fabric would be the wrong way around, or one sleeve would be longer than the other. We were learning as we were going.

Pica~Post No.14

How basic was it back then? How many people were involved? It was just me and Jimmy. How did you meet him? I met him because he had the same German agent as our trainer shop, Professor Head. We were both disillusioned with what we were doing, so we set up Y.M.C. When we first started it, I was homeless. I’d been dumped by my girlfriend, and I was living on my friend’s floor. And then we got this little office, so I just lived there. It didn’t even have a shower; there was just a tap and a sink. Slowly we built it up so I could live like a normal person, but I remember for a month I was living on Oxo cubes. It was good though, I was a 28 inch waist. Going back to you in Newport, was there a regional style when you were growing up? Yeah, particularly when the casuals came along. Every football club had its look. Some might have been more influential than others, so the other teams would copy them. Newport might have nicked this from the north, but we really went for that gentleman farmer look — a deerstalker hat, a wax jacket, some plus four cords and a pair of Forest Hills. Seeing those guys on the terraces was bonkers.

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Do you think that regional thing still exists now? There’s less tribalism. You can be anything you want today, but that doesn’t mean to say you’re part of something. But these guys lived for the clobber and the weekend — it was different. When you’re in that tribal gang, that’s all you know. You’re kind of blinkered. I imagine you’d get a lot of stick for dressing like that back then. Can you imagine? Newport is a working class town. You’ve got the steelworks, the mines and the docks. I used to dress up like an absolute clown back in the 80s. I’d wear these opulent Nehru suits, I had my hair long, I had a walking stick and a fur coat. I’d be pissed out of my head, rolling into curry houses at three in the morning and going to sit with a load of rugby boys. You can imagine the abuse I got. Do you think that adds to the appeal? You were putting yourself on the line. Definitely. It’s edgier. Today, I can walk around how I want and no one is going to bat an eyelid, but walk around Newport in the 80s like that and you’re putting your life at risk. I suppose it’s like tattoos. In the 60s having a tattoo would be a pretty raw thing. There’s no edge to most things now. Everything is accepted. From antiques to records, everyone knows what’s what. Everyone’s an expert and nothing shocks anyone. You can stream ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ on the internet and then say you’re a Joy Division fan, but it’s only on a basic level, the passion has gone. I’m an obsessive vinyl guy, but I always have been. When I was young it was only vinyl, and when CDs came along, I didn’t reject them, I just couldn’t afford a CD player. And now I have to deal with my own son telling me that vinyl is fashionable and putting records on his wall. I say, “No, you play it, you don’t put it on your wall.” It’s not a trophy. I collect records because I want the music. I go to record fairs, and there’s always dirty old fat blokes in overcoats looking for a Japanese import Madonna picture disk — it’s Madonna, what does it matter?


"There’s no edge to most things now, everything is accepted"

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Pica~Post No.14

You’ve mentioned a few times about having an edge. How important is that? It’s everything to me. I have this argument with people all the time. I’ll say, “Taylor Swift is shit,” and they’ll say, “Yeah, but she’s successful.” But she’s still shit. People in the modern world can’t differentiate success with talent. And that’s why it’s important to have an edge. What about for Y.M.C. — is it tough to strike a balance between what you want to do and what you know will sell? Yeah, when we first started it was all about creativity, and ultimately it got to the stage where it was too out there. We were doing turquoise leather tracksuits in the late 90s. We weren’t doing four armed jumpers and hooded underpants, but it was still pretty out there. You’ve got to be creative, but it’s a business, it’s not a folly.

What are your thoughts on that remake angle — people who make clothes exactly how they were in the 60s or whatever? I understand why that’s done, but it’s just not for me. I want to watch Peaky Blinders, but I don’t want to dress like them.

Is it hard not to be swept away with trends and stuff though? It is, and I don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone who lives in a small town, but if you’re living in a small town, and you’re craving the latest thing, then you’ve only got the internet to tell you what’s happening. But when I was young, we had nothing, so we had to create it ourselves. And now I just sound like some old bloke. When I design things, I tend not to look at other people’s stuff. I’m not on Instagram and I don’t have a Facebook account – I’m not totally unaware to what’s going on, but things are as pure as I can make them. Obviously you’re mad on records and bands and all that. How does that feed into Y.M.C.? People talk about influences, but I always want to know how they actually affect things. When we first started, I was listening to Stereolab and a lot of library and soundtrack music. It was that retrofuturism thing — that idea of looking to the past and twisting it to create something for the future has always been relevant. You can’t create a 100% new thing. And it’s the same with clothes — everything we do has a twist on something that has come before — but we’ll never take anything literally.

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What do you mean by that? Well, we wouldn’t just say, “We’re making a hippy collection.” You can use elements from the past, but you’ve got to make it relevant and modern — clothes still have to be wearable.

A lot of the stuff you reference is military or workwear. Why do you think men always come back to these functional things? Men like there being a reason for something. We just love all that. It’s that idea of the working man. It’s all fantasy – I mean look at me – I look like some Vietnam veteran.


Haha, like Lieutenant Dan? Yeah, we all play these rolls. You can’t take it too seriously. I suppose you lot aren’t making clothes for the military, but that functional thing is still important. Yeah, it doesn’t have to be ballistic, and it doesn’t have to be fireproof. I just think of my mates when they go to watch the football. I’ve got to make sure that if they wear one of our coats, it’ll either keep them warm, or protect them from the rain.

It’s interesting how something can seem outrageous to someone, and then within a couple of years, it’s something they can’t live without. Believe it or not, when we first made a V-neck cardigan maybe 20 years ago, people were like, “What the fuck is that?” But eventually, it registered. It’s like the cropped trouser. We’ve always done a short-legged trouser. I don’t know why, it’s just something we’ve always done. In Wales we say you need to put jam on your shoes and invite your trousers down for tea. But now you look around and everyone is wearing ankle flapping trousers. It becomes the norm. I remember when I first moved down here twelve years, I had a quiff. And I used to get people shouting, “Elvis!” out of their car windows. 12 year ago, a quiff was seen as outrageous.

On a deeper level, how have things changed? Are you still trying to do the same thing with Y.M.C. as you were back in 1995? Yeah, we’ve kind of always kept true to our beliefs. Basically, we’ve got the same ethics now as we did when we started twenty odd years ago.

Is it hard to find things to reference? There are only so many jacket shapes out there. If you’ve spent the last 20 years immersing yourself in it, there aren’t really any surprises anymore. So when you do find something new, it’s a good feeling. A new shape or a shoe no one has seen before.

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Yeah, things move pretty fast. How have things changed for Y.M.C. since it first started? Computers, the internet, social media – it’s changed everything. I doesn’t matter how much I moan about it, but this stuff isn’t going away. When we started people were still photocopying and using fax machines.

What would you say those ethics are? Well, it all goes back to the name... You Must Create. All we want to do is create nice pieces of clothing that the customer will want to buy and wear how they want. It’s all about the product. It’s important that it’s not fickle or trend led. I’d like to think someone could have bought a pair of trousers off us ten years ago and still wear them today. We’ve rattled on for quite a while now. Before we wrap this up, are there any words of wisdom you’d like to add? Nah, after rabbiting on for this long, I haven’t got anything left to say. I’ve probably contradicted myself a hundred times.

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Pica~Post No.14 No.13


"I want to watch Peaky Blinders, but I don’t want to dress like them" The World Wide Issue

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Pica~Post No.14



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