Artsy explored the objects that defined 80s youth culture

I was born in November 1989 so I missed all but a month of the 80s and everything about its culture so this was cool to read from Artsy:

At the moment, our pop culture finds itself at peak ’80s nostalgia, as news outlets rush to publish their own guides to the decade’s easter eggs hidden in the third season of Stranger Things (2016–present). Those who came of age in the 1980s are now in their mid-forties, so perhaps it just makes sense that the kids who grew up are now showrunners, casting viewers in the nostalgic glow of their own youth.

One could also argue that ’80s nostalgia is on the rise due to some meritocracy of the decades—the eighties were just a cooler, quirkier, and kitschier time to be alive. My own recollections of the time are a murky haze of fleeting passions, both joyous and totally embarrassing. There are, for instance, the Garbage Pail Kids cards, which hit young male culture hard in 1985—pimply teens sneakily trading Boozin’ Bruce for Adam Bomb or Smelly Sally. I’ll never fully wash off the trauma of the humanoid animals residing in Zoobilee Zoo (1986–87). I’ll never live down listening to the Christian hair-metal albums by Stryper that my mom gently forced on me as an antidote to the more “satanic” alternatives. I’ll never forget the uncomfortable prominence of David Bowie’s codpiece in Labyrinth (1986).

Simon Doonan's 'Keith Haring' biography

In case you missed it, Simon Doonan wrote a biography on Keith Haring which came out in February. It’s part of a series of pocket-sized biographies about great artists called Lives of the Artists and examines Haring’s inspiring life and work during the 1980s:

Revolutionary and renegade, Keith Haring was an artist for the people, creating an instantly recognisable repertoire of symbols – barking dogs, space-ships, crawling babies, clambering faceless people – which became synonymous with the volatile culture of 1980s. Like a careening, preening pinball, Keith Haring playfully slammed into all aspects of this decade – hip-hop, new-wave, graffiti, funk, art, style, gay culture – and brought them together.

Grab a copy of the book on Bookshop and let me know what you think in the comments.

Spend a night in Monica and Rachel's apartment from Friends

So booking.com, in collaboration with Superfly X is offering The FRIENDS™ Experience and a chance to stay overnight in Monica and Rachel’s apartment visit the place where Ross said “PIVOT!”, and relax on Joey and Chandler’s Barcaloungers.

As much as I loved the show and reference it frequently, I’m so over these Friends fan experiences. The show ended 17 years ago; it’s been off-air longer than it was on-air. And, yes, I know they’re doing a reunion series, and this is good for business but I’m tired. But I did realise one thing: the apartment decor was awful. Purple and yellow with a random assortment of furniture? What were they thinking? I guess that passed for decor in the 90s but looking at it now, it’s bad.

Friends related: A semi-alphabetical listing of Black actors with speaking roles on Friends

Carry A Bag Man's carrier bag designs

Aaron Thompson’s job involves garden maintenance and clearing out derelict homes but in his spare time, he goes by the name of Carry A Bag Man on Instagram. The account is dedicated to retro carry bags he finds on his travels.

The power of something so simple as a crinkled old carrier bag hit Aaron time and time again on his searches, and when he found a bag relating to his own life in a 1990s Kwik Save bag, “I was hooked.”

Since expanding his collection, he decided to include bundles from local auctions: “After collecting them for five years, I started to realise that I should probably do something with them all,” Aaron tells It’s Nice That. In need of a way to revisit his finds “without having to haul out all the storage boxes under my bed,” he began to photograph each find, laid flat to showcase their iconic design and shape. Instagram resultantly appeared to be “the fasted way to go about archiving them all,” and is where Aaron has been selflessly pasting design inspiration over the past two years as Carry A Bag Man.

The retro designs on these carrier bags are glorious. They transport me back to the 90s.

(via It’s Nice That)

Daniel Obaweya is Nigerian Gothic

A Nife Omi by Nigerian Gothic (Daniel Obaweya) for Homecoming x Browns. Artwork by Joy Matashi

As crap as Instagram can be for its treatment of Black creatives (particularly fat Black femmes), I enjoy the people who are Black AF on the platform in a multitude of ways.

Daniel Obaweya aka Nigerian Gothic falls into that category with his archiving of Black photography and Black people from the 90s and early 2000s. It’s a period I remember with fondness and trips down memory lane are becoming more therapeutic in this hell year called 2020.

Obaweya spoke to Vincent Desmond for AnOther Magazine about the account and his latest collaboration with Nigeria’s Homecoming festival run by Browns this year.

“Growing up in Lagos, I was introduced to the beach really early and it’s kind of became a second home because I didn’t live far from it and we always walked our dogs there and just went there to chill,” Obaweya says of the basis of the project. “I found that some older African photographers, like Malick Sidibé, have referenced beach culture, and now a lot of newer, younger photogaphers are doing the same.”

You can check out the digital Homecoming festival on Browns’s website and watch one of the panel talks—Homecoming and Browns Present: Can Africa Generate The Re-Birth Of Streetwear?—featuring “The Fifty Dollar Man” Virgil Abloh, Ciesay, and Homecoming organisers Grace Ladoja MBE and Alex Sossah.

(Image credit: A Nife Omi by Nigerian Gothic (Daniel Obaweya) for Homecoming x Browns. Artwork by Joy Matashi)

I Love All The Pins From Super Team Deluxe

Super Team Deluxe pin

Super Team Deluxe is the best place for nerdy pins. Find out how a pair of computer geeks created the “collaborative funhouse”.

Have you ever looked at an online store and wanted everything on the site?

That was how I felt when I first saw Super Team Deluxe. As a geek, seeing all those pop culture references in pin and sticker form excited me. But how did STD come about? And how awkward is that abbreviation?

A super team indeed

The team behind Super Team Deluxe like to call themselves “a collaborative funhouse” and it certainly seems that way. The products they create are unique, quirky, and geeky as hell.

The company is the brainchild of designers Rogie King and Justin Mezzell. The “official” team also includes Hannah MezzellDrew Melton and Alicja Colon. With a creative bunch like that, it’s no wonder their products and designs are so vibrant and nerdy.

What does Super Team Deluxe create?

They say they “haven’t thought too much about the future” but right now STD sell lapel pins, patches, and stickers.

A while back, they released a series called Sci-Fidelity: A Gallery of Miniature Proportions, perfect for fans of Star Wars, Total Recall, and Stranger Things. Most of the range is sold out as I write this, but there are still some left, including a “cute” Face Hugger pin and a Gremlin patch.

There are plenty of other niches if sci-fi isn’t your bag.

They even sell hats. Their Internet Dad baseball cap is quintessentially 90s, harking back to the days when Apple struggled and came back.

Internet Dad hat by Super Team Deluxe. The internet is not a fad – it's here to stay!

Prices that aren’t out of this world

I wish I could buy every pin, sticker, patch, print, and hat they have. I love it all. And it’s affordable, with most items priced at $10. Shipping to the UK comes in at $15, which is more reasonable than some vendors I’ve bought from in the US.

If you need to spruce up a jacket or bag, Super Team Deluxe have you covered with essential accessories for gamers, programmers, designers, and every geekazoid in between. Huzzah!

Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher are The VHS Guys

Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher

I’m a nostalgia freak. There was a lot in the 90s I only saw but never fully experienced and that decade was the happiest of my life. VHS tapes played a major part of that and I love hearing about collectors, especially ones this quirky.

Friends Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher are known as the VHS Guys and they’ve been collecting VHS tapes for over 25 years. But not just any VHS tape. Their collection falls under the “special interests” category or “not meant to be shown in public,” as Prueher put it in an interview with Atlas Obscura. Anything from exercise videos to how-to video guides is up for consideration. The pair take their collective on tour with their Found Footage Festival events in front of live audiences.

One of the creepiest videos in the VHS Guys collection has to be Rent-A-Friend, where the man in the video will be your “friend” in exchange for nothing (well, however much you initially paid for the VHS but that’s all). It’s an example of an “interactive” video; all the rage in the 80s and 90s. They ask you a question and leave pause for you to “answer”. I remember playing a 90s board game called Atmosfear using this “technology” (sorry for all the quotations but they’re necessary). At 4, it felt like magic because it really WAS talking back to me.

Stream the 5-minute interview below.

will.i.am Can See the Future

Vic Berger is the master of comedic videosurrealism (I don’t know if that’s a thing but I’m making it one) and for this particular short, he puts together clips of will.i.am being… will.i.am. The added sound effects perfect the oddities.

will.i.am is a unique guy but this twists and distorts what we already knew into something truly spectacular. It also makes me wish I had a talking toilet. And some ill.i’s (yeah, they actually exist). You just take the wam out.

You’ll see what I mean.

Sucklord, The NYC Artist Who Makes Bootleg Action Figures

Bootleg culture is a major subculture of our times.

It repurposes the discarded and creates new life. The Sucklord lives by his name under a super-villainous guise and makes bootleg action figures. The New York City pop artist is known for his “subversive Action Figure mashups and Reality TV Persona”, according to his website.

Operating under the Brand SUCKADELIC, The Sucklord’s Line of self-manufactured Bootleg Toys steal shamelessly from STAR WARS, Vintage Advertising and All manner of Pop Culture Trash. Packaged in layers of ironic self-Mockery, His shoddy looking wares have inspired an entire secondary Art movement, with dozens of entrepreneurial Toy Bootleggers creating their own versions of highly referential, low-Rent interpretations of their favorite figures.

Stream the video on Vimeo.

Pop Culture Soaps by Yvonne Kai

These dope pop culture soaps are “all natural, vegan, and kosher with 100% pure essential oils and fragrance oils” and “Come Clean” with a number of different designs, from pugs to Nike sneakers and Minions (if that’s your thing).

The creator of the soaps, Yvonne Kai says the soaps are:

  • Handmade in USA
  • Hand-poured in New York City
  • Naturally scented with 100% Pure Essential Oils
  • Paraben and sulfate free
  • Moisturizing
  • Kosher
  • Vegan
  • Adorable

You can buy them on Etsy.

(via The Inspiration)

It's Not Hip To Be Square: What Is A Hipster Really?

But has it always been that way? Well, the truth is they aren’t the first hipsters to walk the earth.

A quick search of the term “hipster” on Wikipedia brings up two examples: one from “contemporary subculture” and one from “1940s subculture”. By definition, the former relates to the hipsters we know today, described as coming from a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior”. From this perspective, the term first came into prominence during the 90s before gaining a new life in the past five years but looking at the term’s previous history in the 1940s, everything changes.

In 1948, American literary critic Anatole Broyard wrote an article called A Portrait of the Hipster where he described the hipster as a “the illegitimate son of the Lost Generation” longing “to be somewhere”. Brossard’s article continued, describing terminology of the hipster such as “jive” – described as “a philosophy of somewhereness”, “solid”, “out of this world, and “drag” amongst others.

Norman Mailer in his essay “The White Negro” described hipsters as “philosophical psychopaths living on the fringe of society” but the crux of the essay depicted them as white people appropriating black culture through their adoption of black styles, vernacular and jazz music as their own as well as their choice of living in abject poverty. He also discussed the idea of hipsters living a life surrounded by death and choosing to disconnect from society with their own brand of existentialism.

Looking at the two produces stark contrasts in definition and subculture but in some cases, there are similarities. There’s a sense that the current hipster (or as I like to call them “fauxhemians”) chooses to look dishevelled and absent from the mainstream culture as do the hipsters of the 40s.

But getting into the nitty-gritty of their motives is where the likenesses branch off. Fauxhemians are more aligned with indie music while hipsters were lovers of cool jazz and the former’s association with organic produce is a unique development. The reason I call them fauxhemians is because their lifestyles seem to be closer to those of the bohos of pre-20th Europe (although they are said to be descendants of the 40s hipster) rather than their appropriating American counterparts.

Their disconnect from mainstream society isn’t related to a life centred around death; rather it seems to be a choice purely in the name of paradoxical individualism, as perfectly depicted on 2000s TV series Nathan Barley. They even have their own brand of racism and sexism, involving “ironic” Kill Whitie Parties and appropriation of Native American headdresses supposedly to satirise political correctness and repeated uses of the terms “bitch” and “slut” amongst others.

Truth be told, it’s a complicated subject to form a complete picture of how the movements are all related and what they truly mean to those involved. But one thing’s for sure – the new hipster isn’t going away any time soon and they’re not quite as cool as their 1940s cousins.

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