1990: Bronx Warriors (1982)

Enzo Catellari’s 1990: Bronx Warriors is a blatant Warriors rip-off that draws liberally from Mad MaxEscape from New York and (to my eye) Soylent Green. No longer under the control of the law, the Bronx is a no-man’s land of cartoonish gangs that battle to expand their turf, all loosely overseen by Ogre, the toughest gang leader who rules the Bronx much like a feudal king. This presents no problem to the leading elite of New York until a leading business man’s daughter absconds with Trash, the leader of one of the motorcycle gangs (played rather effeminately by Mark Gregory). Desperate, the elite task a crooked cop with crooked means named Hammer (Vic Morrow in his penultimate movie) to rescue her. Trash and Ogre pair up against Hammer in a battle that goes pretty much the way one expects these types of battles to go (violently, with a lot of motorcycles and explosions).

For all of its lack of originality, 1990: Bronx Warriors is a lot of fun. There are worse films to rip off than the classic 1980s post-apocalyptic action films. The film has a great cast with blaxploitation star Fred Williamson and seasoned character actor Vic Morrow delivering particularly spirited performances. Worth checking out for Italian genre film fans. Apparently the film made enough money to justify a sequel.

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NYT on the Penny Loafer

Just ordered a pair of Paraboot Harvard loafers, so it makes sense to link Nancy McDonell’s “Loafing Around” article from the New York Times on the history of the penny loafer:

Despite the Ivy League associations and moccasin construction, the loafer is neither American in origin nor named for a little known Native American tribe. Instead, Weejun is a corruption of “Norwegian.” What does that Scandinavian country have to do with the preppiest of American shoe styles? As it turns out, quite a bit: The loafer as we know it came about thanks to a combination of Lost Generation wanderlust and a growing and more general desire for comfort. Though Paris was the most famous destination for F. Scott Fitzgerald and his lesser-known cohorts, some of his peers journeyed further afield. Those who went to Norway noticed that Norwegian fisherman made themselves comfortable shoes that consisted of leather sides joined by a strip of leather across the instep like moccasins — still the way true loafers are made today. “When these young men started wearing these shoes back home,” explains G. Bruce Boyer, a fashion editor and author, “American and English shoemakers copied them and advertised them as being similar to the Norwegian fisherman’s shoe.” Foremost among the brands making this new shoe was G.H. Bass, which had been founded in 1876 by George Henry Bass.

In the United States, the supremacy of the Bass Weejun was unchallenged — from James Dean to J.F.K., everyone wore them. On college campuses, they were de rigueur, and, says Boyer, worn until they fell apart and had to be held together with duct tape (a prime example of the endurance contest that prepsters subject their clothes to). They were sometimes worn without socks, but while this is now a fashion statement, in the early 1960s, when Boyer was an undergraduate, it was more a question of convenience.“Guys who lived in the dorms wore them that way,” Boyer says. “If they were late for their first class they would put on their loafers without putting on their socks first. Other guys would show up in their pajamas.” Pennies were often inserted in the cutout on the instep; theories abound as to why this was done — so girls who were out on less-than inspiring dates could call for a lift home (not that phone calls were ever cost a cent); for good luck; to commemorate the wearer’s birth year — but if there ever was a reason, it’s been lost. Men of elegance wore tasseled loafers, which originated in England and were copied by American firms like Alden. Loafers were always brown, which is part of what made them a casual shoe — dress shoes of the era were black and were kept polished and in good repair. After graduation, loafers were worn only on informal occasions and black lace-ups (or, for coeds, pumps) became the norm.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Rolling Stone interviews Ware, Clowes, and Los Bros. Hernandez

Interesting interview by Sean T. Collins at Rolling Stone with the stalwarts of 1990s alternative comics Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez. I particularly enjoyed the following comments on recent interest in Heavy Metal: 

Clowes: I have to say I have a recently rediscovered fondness for Heavy Metal. That was a big deal when it came out: “Wow, you can draw robots with tits!” It has a certain charm to it, especially the really weird, unpleasant stuff in it. All that Richard Corben stuff was so disturbing.

Gilbert: You can tell the difference between artists: Who’s the madman, and who’s the guy just doin’ it? That’s why guys like [Joe] Kubert and [John] Buscema and John Romita, who were really amazingly skilled artists, there’s just nothing there other than they’re just really skilled artists. Then you see Crumb, who was just a complete nut.

Clowes: Or [Jack] Kirby, who was the opposite.

Gilbert: Or [Steve] Ditko. They’re crazy men. “Who let them do this?” [Laughter]

Ware: When you talk about a pantheon . . . When I went to art school and I went to the art history classes, we were taught this very specific progression of where art came from and where it supposedly was going. It was almost like these pills you had to swallow that had been established by art critics and art writers. One of the things that appealed to me most about comics was that you can pick the ones you like and build your own personal pantheon. I’ve never met these younger kids who are more interested in – I just said “younger kids.” I can’t believe that. [Laughter] Younger artists are interested in Heavy Metal – that’s great. That’s something else completely to start from.

Gilbert: That’s what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good.

Jaime: Less and less important.

Gilbert: It was more about the writing. Eventually people are gonna rebel and say, “Where’s the good drawings?” It’s in Heavy Metal! I think that’s what’s happened – a backlash against blandness.

For the rest of the interview, follow the link.