Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Badass, trigger-finger cool"

1965, and the Hells Angels are properly entering the consciousness of the American public. These superbly atmospheric photographs were taken by Life Magazine staffer Bill Ray who, with writer Joe Bride managed to gain entry to the scary and chaotic world of this most notorious of outlaw biker gangs. The then editor of Life, George Hunt spiked the story saying "I ain't running a story on those smelly b@stards" and until now these images were never published.

As a scooterist, I occasionally find myself waiting at traffic lights next to one or more Hells Angels. It's exactly how I would imagine a mackerel feels when encountering a shoal of great white sharks. The first time it happened, it came as a welcome surprise for one of these Harley-bestriding Visigoths to shout across "Nice old Vespa!", rather than rip my head off and use it as a mudguard ornament.

Of course, the Angels are er, no angels. About a hundred years ago I went to see a next-big-thing American band at the Cellar Bar (RIP) in Bradford. The gig was cancelled after one of the local Angels took offence to his 'old lady' being chatted up by the band's singer, and ejected him from the pub they were in. Via a window. Which was on the first floor. The reporter that the NME had sent up especially (the late Steven Wells, I think) had to conduct an interview from the unfortunate Yank's bedside at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mid-Century Modern

London, city of surprises. When I first moved here I often used to walk down White Lion street N1, past a recess in a wall thick with a palimpsest of posters. Full of the flush of gentrification, Islington council had a cleanup one day and half-heartedly removed them right back to the bricks. All that was left was the rearmost layer - a woodface advert for a house clearance dated 1937. I wish I'd nicked it, or at least photographed it - a day or two later the cleaner finished the job and that bit of everyday history was gone forever.

Recent renovation work at Notting Hill tube station has uncovered these cracking examples of mid-20th century graphic design, in a passageway unused since the station converted from lifts to escalators in about 1957. These images were captured by London Transport's Design and Heritage Manager, Mike Ashworth.

"What is this Ten Inch? Poster week?"

(© London Underground. Thanks to Picnic Design for the tip)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Top Of The Charts

Good innit? Available from Popchart Lab, it's titled The Very Many Varieties Of Beer. 18 inches by 24 and printed on "80-pound card stock" (that's American for thick paper) in Brooklyn, US-of-A.

Click the picture above to embiggen it a bit - although Popchartlab's website has a handy zoom so you can inspect all those varieties. If I'm a good Ten Inch Wheels for the rest of the year, hopefully i'll find this in my Christmas stocking. Thanks to my mate Adam for telling me about it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nothing To Declare

Just did an illustration for a mate - It was such a small job I didn't even want paying. Nipped out of the office and returned to find a Utobeer bag on my chair.

"Will those do?" says my teetotal mate.

Oh, I reckon so. And they'll taste all the better knowing I won't even have to list them on my tax return. Take that, Osborne!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not In Bruges

Last weekend my parents and brother were down for the Skyride - as good a reason as any to try the bottle of Brouwerij Strubbe's Leireken Wilde Vruchten that's been lurking at the back of our fridge for months. I picked it up on our last visit to Paris, when Strubbe's brewer was giving tastings at Cave รก Bulles. His intent, he said, was to create a 'fruit beer which appeals to those that don't like fruit beer'. Well, that's me alright. At the time the brewer looked a bit puzzled when I said it was 'peppery' but some tastings on Ratebeer seem to back me up.

Half a year in storage seems to have changed the flavours markedly - after a sweet, clean nose there were distinct hits of bubblegum, strawberry, cherry and sherbert. Somebody said "moon dust", the popping candy which was once rumoured to give you brain damage. Another gulp brought herbs and even a bit of beetroot and asparagus, all terminating in a slightly sour finish with a backdrop of that original, but fainter, peppery-ness. Odd stuff this - Belgian eccentricity which brought to mind Mary Poppins' magic sweets with a different taste in every suck.

Would I have it again? Probably. But not for a while, eh?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Diaspora

Being lazy. Three trains cancelled. Tuts and frowns as I squeeze my bike on at a colourless Stratford. Elbows. Feet. Blackberrys. Ipods. The Metro. Mortgages. Dan Brown.

Liverpool street. Doors, suits, barriers.

A public school accent.

"Yorkshire? Saw the sticker on your bike"

"Yes. Keighley. You?"


Two bright grins in the walls of grey, and we are gone.