Cultrface is a blog about culture and how it can enrich our lives.

Nicky Chulo creates Off-Black brand in response to Off-White's lack of diversity

Off-Black

Off-White is a brand that bridges minimalism and maximalism. Its creator Virgil Abloh, known for collaborations with the likes of Kanye West and Takashi Murakami, was appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection in 2018 and while this was seen as a breakthrough for modern black art and culture, there have been criticisms.

Off-White or off colour?

One has come from a fellow black designer, Nicky Chulo. The graphic designer questioned Abloh’s lack of diversity in the Off-White brand. Particularly “in the room”. In an interview with Black Enterprise, he discussed his reasons for the stance:

Even if he’s just the “face” of the brand I believe he has a responsibility to speak up on behalf of diversity. I’m not discrediting the talent at Off-White, but knowing how hard I worked, especially as a designer of color, to get to where I am, it hurt a bit […] We need more people of color inside the room.

Off-Black
Off-Black tee

And his response? A brand of his own.

What is Off-Black?

Chulo created Off-Black as a way to balance the tables and show black inclusion. He said he was “hesitant at first” when launching but felt compelled to go all in, particularly after Abloh had started blocking people on Instagram who sent him messages under the #diversity hashtag.

But Chulo isn’t looking to make a profit from the brand. 100% of proceeds are going to Leaders Amongst Leaders, “a creative program that teaches kids the sky is the limit”.

Currently, there’s only the Off-Black tee available on the site but I’m considering getting one.

You can too by heading to Nicky Chulo’s Teespring site.

Khalik Allah's "Black Mother" is a spiritual trip through Jamaica

Theatrical poster for Khalik Allah's Black Mother. Designed by Midnight Marauder

I love my Jamaican heritage and love any from of art that exhibits its richness. Black Mother does exactly that. The film, directed by Khalik Allah, takes you on a journey through the Caribbean island but not the kind you’d find on a Sandals commercial. Black Mother shows the true Jamaica with all its highs and lows, beauty, scars, and all. Critics have called it “thrilling and hallucinatory”, “spiritual and philosophical” and “dazzling cinematic poetry”.

Thoroughly immersed between the sacred and profane, Black Mother channels rebellion and reverence into a deeply personal ode informed by Jamaica’s turbulent history but existing in the urgent present.

via Grasshopper Film

Black Mother features sex workers, Rastafarians, and Revivalists who weave their life experiences into the greater Jamaican tapestry. This is a must watch.

Stream the trailer below and purchase the movie poster on the Grasshopper Film website. If you happen to be in or around Beverly Hills on 10th May, screening will take place at the Laemmle Music Hall.

Lorraine O'Grady: the inspiration behind Tracee Ellis Ross' Met Gala look

Art Is... by Lorraine O'Grady

Amongst the plethora of camp looks at the Met Gala on 9th May was Tracee Ellis Ross with an empty frame. But it was much more than that. Her black Moschino dress was gorgeous (as was she because it’s freaking Tracee Ellis Ross) but the golden picture frame was there as a tribute to Lorraine O’Grady.

Born to Jamaican parents in Boston in 1943, Lorraine O’Grady grew up in the West Indian Episcopal church. It was the first of its denomination in the city and “until her sister, Devonia, died then she stopped believing”. Her journey into art took a few turns via a major in economics, a minor in Spanish literature, working as a translator, a critic and a government intelligence analyst.

In 1983, as her persona Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, she created Art Is…, a parade float entered into the annual African American Day Parade in Harlem. She persuaded the performers and parade watchers to pose with empty frames. The reclamation of blackness as beauty through the medium of fine art was, and is, the idea of “black campness”. Pardon my French but that’s fucking genius.

“Camp taste nourishes itself on the love that has gone into certain objects and personal styles. The absence of this love is the reason why [certain kitsch items] aren’t Camp.”

Susan Sontag – Notes on ‘Camp’ (1964)
Mlle Bourgeoise Noire (New Museum performance, 1981), shared via the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
Mlle Bourgeoise Noire (New Museum performance, 1981), shared via the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

The idea that such a beautiful nuanced look was done so effortlessly in the eyes of millions warms my heart. Tracee Ellis Ross addressed the look on Instagram with the caption, “RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE ~ black camp. Thank you #lorraineogrady for existing and creating ‘Art Is.'” As Gianluca Russo said for Teen Vogue, “the outfit opened the eyes of many to the contributions black men and women have had on camp fashion.”

Which brings me onto Lena Waite’s amazing outfit: a Pyer Moss pinstriped suit with “Black Drag Queens Invented Camp” emblazoned on the back and the pinstripes made out of lyrics from Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”. Thinking about it is sending my head spinning because of all the connections to black art, campness, queerness, black power… wow. It’s really a lot and I’m grateful to be around in a world where it exists.

(And credit to Shelby Ivey Christie on Twitter for shining a light on the subject.)

Reading list

Cultrface is 4 years old today

PJ Masks 4th Birthday - in honour of my son who loves them

I can’t believe it’s been four years today since I launched Cultrface. It’s been a slow and steady journey but a rewarding one too. I want to give you a background into why Cultrface exists.

Back in 2015, I suffered a personal loss. It coincided with severe stress and anxiety from my job at the time. I took time off work to recuperate and that turned into about 2 months off. I joked to a friend of mine who was into photography (and still is) that I’d start a blog to showcase his work.

Then I thought “why not just make the blog anyway?” and Cultureface was born – that’s what it was called at the time. I made a Twitter account but the name was taken, so I called it @cultrface and eventually changed the name to that (it sounds cool like that anyway).

I’ve changed the website’s appearance a few times because I have an itchy WordPress theme finger – in fact, the one you see now was only changed on Monday. Some of the older posts have gone as they weren’t up to the quality I wanted for the site. I revamped the rest. It’s all been a learning process on what makes Cultrface the best it can be.

There have been barren periods where I’ve not written anything and recent times where I can write once a day. Blogging isn’t always just sitting down and writing something; you’ve got to find interesting and unique stuff to write about. And sometimes you don’t feel like it.

One of the biggest inspirations I’ve had lately is Jason Kottke, the OG blogmaster general. He’s seen as the father of blogging with his site kottke.org which has been around since 1998.

I recently read an interview with him for Creator Interviews and the idea of just posting interesting content with brief opinions made me rethink I was make content for Cultrface and all the other sibling sites.

In 2018, I created Pandog Media as a “media group” to put them all under. Cultrface is arguably the broadest in scope as culture covers the entire world and how people communicate. It’s important to me that everything covered on the site will pique interest and show readers parts of the world and themselves they may not have known.

As a person of colour that means content about people of colour, what they do, how they do it, when they started doing it, and why they do it. Our most popular article is about Jamaican proverbs – many my mother has said to me (in fact, she read it and left two comments which I cherish with all my heart).

That’s how Cultrface started. And the future? More of the same. But here comes the part I don’t like talking about. Money. I’ve been lucky to have a couple of writers offer their services in the past but all but two articles have been written by me.

cultrface banner 2018
Cultrface – We do it #ForTheCultr

You’ll have seen ads on the site; they are a recent inclusion. Nobody clicks them (I wouldn’t either) so I make maybe a few pence a month, if that. I’ve recently added affiliated links too as a better way to generate revenue for the reader. I place them on products related to our content as we’re not sponsored by anyone.

The point I’m making is I do all of this on my own and it costs money to host the site and the others, as well as yearly fees for domains and other things. That’s why I set up my Patreon account to help pay towards those fees and general living costs (capitalism is a bitch).

If you enjoy what you read and would consider pledging, I would be immensely grateful. Every patron gets a free membership card and certain rewards depending on what they pledge. If you’d prefer a one-off payment, I also have a Ko-Fi account. All the links to these will be below. Okay, enough about money. Time to close this ramble.

I finally want to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit and read. At time of writing, we have amassed over 22,000 views in 4 years. That isn’t jaw-dropping in the grander scheme of things but that’s amazing to me. I aim for 2019 to be our best year yet and it’ll be because of you, the reader. So happy birthday to us and I hope to see you again.

Farewell!

Sign up to my Patreon | Donate to my Ko-fi

(P.S. – I still haven’t written that article on RKZ’s photography. What kind of friend am I?)

The Awesome Art of Karis Pierre

Karis Pierre

The London graphic designer is one to watch for the future.

Social media can be a hellish place when you suffer from anxiety. But I prefer visual therapy in the form of art and that’s what makes Instagram so good (for the most part).

I discovered Karis Pierre aka karpie.jpg via Rhea Ellen and I love her work. According to her Insta bio, she’s studying graphic design at Norwich University of the Arts but originally from/based in London.

My favourite piece is the “Dunk” Nike Store poster. That’d look awesome on sports fan’s wall.

Art by Karis Pierre
Art by Karis Pierre
Art by Karis Pierre
Art by Karis Pierre
Art by Karis Pierre

(All image rights reserved © Karis Pierre)

Concrete Montreal Map is an atlas of the city's brutalist architecture

Concrete Montreal Map

The name Carte Montréal Béton just sounds great on its own. It is, of course, the French name for Concrete Montreal Map, the latest brutalist map from Blue Crow Media.

It’s said that Montreal became a canvas for concrete architecture during the early 20th century, with a peak during Expo 67 which the below Habitat 67 was built for. Designed by Moshe Safdie, it’s a brutalist landmark and one of Canada’s most famous pieces of modern architecture.

Habitat 67, Montreal (not from the map; via jean hambourg on Flickr)

The company have already made maps for major cities such as London, Boston, New York, and Paris. Montreal has an abundance of brutalist buildings and photographer Raphaël Thibodeau brings all 56 of them to life in monochrome.

Australian brutalist fans can rejoice as Concrete Melbourne Map is out later this summer.

Place Desjardins by Société La Haye-Ouellet; Longpré, Marchand, Goudreau; Blouin et Blouin; Gauthier, Guité, Roy; Ouellet et Reeves
Place Desjardins by Société La Haye-Ouellet; Longpré, Marchand, Goudreau; Blouin et Blouin; Gauthier, Guité, Roy; Ouellet et Reeves

(via Wallpaper)

Game of Thrones books versus the TV series

Game of Thrones books versus the TV series

After a hiatus, I’m back into Game of Thrones for the last ever series. I never read the books but I don’t think I will as my Goodreads list is way too big.

The above image shows how much of the books were dramatised per series. As the books went on, the number of POVs (points of view) decreased to a mere 17.5 in Series 7. It comes from a deeper analysis of the books vs. the television series, created by Alyssa Karla Mungcal, Jocelyn Tan, and Pooja Sharma. And for anyone wondering why there might be such differences:

There are various reasons why the screen version would differ from the book, one of which is the limited screen time, but the most important reason is the budget. Every actor costs money, and more if they are speaking roles, so sometimes a minor character’s action is given to an existing character. The direwolves are shown more in the books, but they cost money to animate, less is spent on the dragons.

Sounds fair to me.

(via Flowing Data and got-books-to-series.surge.sh)

The Machete Order for X-Men

Wolverine - The Machete Order for X-Men

You might have heard of the machete order for watching Star Wars movies. The idea is you watch the Star Wars movies in a certain order that makes more sense to the overall storyline and fills in knowledge gaps. Well, there’s now one for the X-Men movies. It’s a good idea on the surface since the X-Men franchise suffered from similar issues to Star Wars but on a wider scale. Lots of confusing plot lines, weak character development, unnecessary character development, way too many Wolverine movies.

James Nghiem put together his own machete order and the biggest positive that stands out for me is the omission of X-Men: Origins and The Wolverine. In fact, his order captures the true essence of the “machete” in that it cuts out a lot of the movies. The final order will be controversial to some fans but any change to the default will ruffle some feathers.

I’ll spoil the order but you’ll have to read his article on NonDoc to find out his reasoning. Do you agree with this order? Let us know in the comments and if not, what should it be instead?

James Nghiem’s Machete Order for Fox’s X-Men

  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men
  • X-2
  • Days of Future Past
  • Logan
LOGAN Official Trailer # 2 (2017) Wolverine, X-Men Movie HD

Yoroshiku 4649

yoroshiku 4649 - nice to meet you

Firstly, this isn’t sponsored – I just like them. Yoroshiku 4649 is a fashion brand from London with a Japanese aesthetic. Their name comes from some Japanese wordplay meaning “nice to meet you”.

Their main style uses camo print featuring the Yoroshiku logo, itself made from Japanese katakana characters for the term.

Yoroshiku Classic: Lips (White)

Amongst their collection, they sell T-shirts, hoodies and jumpers, Jackets, headwear, and accessories. They also have a freebies section with desktop and phone backgrounds (I got some myself).

Sizes come in unisex, men’s and kids and prices are affordable for an indie brand. I got myself a t-shirt with discount for £10 and I’m super excited to get it.

Yoroshiku 4649 logo

And that discount? Fill out their survey and get £20 off anything in-store when you spend £30 or more.

Introducing… Yoroshiku Crest

Is tea the new wine?

Person Pouring Tea Into Brown Ceramic Cup

I don’t like wine but I am partial to a cup of tea. I never used to drink it that much but I go through about 2-3 cups a day at work. At one point, I even synchronised my cuppas with a bunch of people on the internet until Noel Edmonds killed it. But according to an article from Beverage Daily, “Tea 3.0” is here. I’ll try and explain what that means.

The experts behind the World Tea Expo (being held in Las Vegas in June) are ushering in a new era for the beverage. “Tea 3.0” will be “driven by consumer demand for good taste, good health benefits and convenience”. According to a report on Statista, industry revenue amounts to over $129bn in 2019, with the most generated in Brazil ($16.526bn in 2019).

There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.

Lin Yutang

But how will good taste, health benefits, and convenience look for tea’s future? And where does the tea as the new wine analogy come in? Well, the tea industry includes sommeliers who taste test before they’re approved for the masses. Experts believe consumers will want to know more about where their brews come from and many brands fake their origins. This poses a problem for brand trust and integrity, hence the need for transparency.

Look. I’m no expert. An ex-girlfriend once bought me a Mr Tea mug in honour of her making me do tea runs for her all the time but I don’t think that qualifies me. What I will say is I doubt the general consumer will care as much about where theirs comes from as long as it tastes how they want and it’s cheap enough. My personal favourites are Ahmad Tea and Whittard of Chelsea but I’ve not bought any of their products in months. As the price range increases, the wine analogy comes into effect and you start to treat the beverage in the same manner. I guess in that way, fancy cuppas are as close as I’ll get to a glasses of wine. I wish I had the bank balance to reflect it.

Lebron James's Blaze Pizza makes pizza with cauliflower crusts

Blaze Pizza

Despite being one of the blandest vegetables, cauliflower is enjoying success amongst foodies. Now it’s being used as a crust for pizzas at Blaze Pizza, a California-based chain. The brand boasts celebrity investors such as Maria Shriver, John Davis, and Tom Werner, co-owner of the Boston Red Sox.

Blaze Pizza is set to open its fifth Palm Beach County location on Tuesday 7th May and offer two new crusts: cauliflower gluten-free crust with added vegetables and a low-carb crust.

Cauliflower as a crust? It’s not for me but I’m sure people will lap it up in a pursuit to eat healthier. I guess? I don’t know. For more information about the pizza franchise, head over to this Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza Franchise Review.

The insular world of hikikomori

hikikomori

The teenage stereotype of locking yourself in your room was something I experienced growing up. It was true for me (minus the lock) but not to the extremes exhibited by half a million in Japan. These people are known as the hikikomori (“pulling inward, being confined”).

The Japanese government has been conducting a major study to understand the hikikomori and what causes their behaviour. FRANCE 24’s report is thought-provoking and tragic in many ways. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for some in the video report.

Here are some basic notes about the hikikomori:

  • In severe cases, they don’t leave their bedrooms for months or years
  • Friendships are rare due to consistent isolation and inabilities to maintain emotional connections
  • Social withdrawal is often gradual rather than instant
  • The average age of the hikikomori is around 30*
  • The phenomenon is mainly found in Japan, but examples have been discovered in the United States, Spain, Italy, South Korea, and France

One example in the report sees a son living as a hikikomori with his mother. Codependence is seen as an enabling behaviour, as discussed in The Anatomy of Dependence, a book by the late Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi. In it, he talked of a concept known as amae, a “uniquely Japanese need to be in good favour with, and be able to depend on, the people around oneself”. He also claimed that the “ideal relationship was that of the parent-child, and all other relationships should strive for this degree of closeness”.

Watch the report below.

Japan's modern-day hermits: The world of hikikomori

Was Paul Charles Dozsa the Democracy Manifest Guy?

Not Paul Charles Dozsa but Cecil George Edwards

TL;DR So it appears that the Democracy Manifest guy was not Paul Charles Dozsa but in fact a man named Cecil George Edwards who was mistaken for Dozsa. You can find out more about him and the infamous video in this interview with Edwards.


Back in 2012, I ate at a restaurant in Hampstead, London, just outside the Royal Free Hospital where my dad was getting cancer treatment (he’s fine now). After I finished, I got up and walked out and about halfway between the restaurant and the hospital, I realised: I hadn’t paid. Then I asked myself two things – should I carry on or go back and pay? I couldn’t deal with the guilt of leaving without paying so I went back.

For some, eating and skipping the bill is a way of survival. But for others, it’s a form of arrogance and you’re gonna get caught eventually. Paul Charles Dozsa was the finest example. Born in Szeged, Hungary, in 1940, the former chef and world chess champion was eccentric to say the least. He described himself as a “Hungarian nobleman” and liked to wine and dine in the best hotels and restaurants in Australia where he spent his later life. But he didn’t like to pay for the privilege. He regularly left without paying – pleading poverty when asked. How you can say you are of noble heritage and say you’re poor is beyond me but there we are. Dozsa hustled his way through 54 of these acts. Attempt 55 was the final straw.

Or so people thought.

The infamous “Democracy Manifest” video that most of us now know was part of a longer video, taped by a reporter named Chris Reason for Australia’s Seven News. The full video shows a man being arrested but his real name – Cecil George Edwards – was revealed as well as the fact it was a case of mistaken identity. Edwards was later released that day. The shortened clip was uploaded to in 2009 and soon went viral. And, with viral content comes myths and speculation, which I clearly fell into myself.Other names suggested were John Bartlett and John Ziegler but none were true. It was Edwards all along.

Gentlemen – this is democracy manifest!

Cecil Edwards, upon being put in a “headlock”

Edwards’s identity wasn’t revealed until 2020 when an Australian punk band called The Chats made a music video for their track “Dine ‘N Dash” featuring the real Cecil George Edwards. The reasoning for his theatrics when arrested was to “appear crazy so he might be placed into an asylum where it would be easier to escape”.

For Dozsa, however, his ways of escaping payment included a misplaced wallet, bounced cheques, poverty, and convincing the restaurant that police involvement was a waste of time. As the venues for his crimes were always 5-star establishments, he was discreetly removed without arrest as not to disturb the guests. One such case involved feigning illness to avoid paying.

What is the charge? Eating a meal? A succulent Chinese meal?

Edwards questioning the reason for his arrest

And the reasons for his crimes? The Hungarian Army had implanted a device in his head. He was half right though. At least with the head part. Dozsa passed away in 2003, apparently from a brain tumour (although the story revelation involved breaking the Hippocratic oath). The tumour might have explained the behaviour and his subsequent cognition. But I’m sure he died as he lived – by the seat of his pants with a full belly and no money to pay for the privilege.

And you, sir? Are you waiting to receive my limp penis?

Edwards before being shoved into the car

For more info about Dozsa’s life (there’s a lot more, trust me) check out this forum thread. RIP Paul Charles Dozsa and long live Cecil George Edwards – the real Democracy Manifest Guy.

The magnificent arrest of Cecil George Edwards

400 Gradi Makes World's Cheesiest Pizza

400 gradi

I add extra cheese to any pizza I buy (and I eat a lot of pizza). But 154 different varieties? I’d go into a cheese coma. 400 Gradi is a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. Its chef Johnny Di Francesco is the man behind a new Guinness World Record – The World’s Cheesiest Pizza.

The previous record stood at 111 by Johnny himself, after his initial 99-Cheese Pizza (a brilliant reference to Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). But he wanted to set a new benchmark. Needless to say, he accomplished it again.

“We had an overwhelming response from our customers, so much so that they petitioned to have it a permanent menu item. Since then we decided to up the ante and create a 154-cheese pizza.”

Johnny Di Francesco

But it’s important to know that Johnny Di Francesco isn’t just a record-chasing chef. In 2014, he became World Pizza Champion at the Campionato Mondiale Della. 400 Gradi is also called “the home of traditional, Italian eating and the World’s Best Pizza” on its website.

What I want to know is what cheeses were used? Johnny told the Guinness Book of Records, “the cheeses included the likes of gorgonzola, pecorino, Taleggio, aged cheddar, gouda and of course, many more!” The pizza has been so popular, it sold out of all 400 Gradi venues within five days, with a total of 797 sold. Okay, I need to stop writing about this as my mouth is watering.

The BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!! Eating at 400 Gradi in Melbourne

Pizza Pi - the Caribbean’s only “food truck boat"

pizza pi

The U.S. Virgin Islands is a group of islands in the Caribbean and home to an amazing pizza restaurant. But it isn’t on dry land. Pizza Pi is the Caribbean’s only “food truck boat, specially fitted with a commercial kitchen that cranks out New York-style pizzas”.

Based in the Virgin Islands, you can order a Pizza Pi pizza by boat radio, phone, or email, but they don’t do delivery. Instead, you have to collect your pizza in Christmas Cove. That means people on the west of the islands will need to travel a bit.

Sasha and Tara Bouis were the masterminds behind the Pizza Pi but sold the boat to another couple, Heather and Brian Samelson. Despite changing hands, the food remains the same and there haven’t been any complaints so far.

PIZZA PI — The best pizza of the caribbean — Sailing Uma [Step 78]