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In 1978, director Theodore Bafaloukos pulled off an incredible feat – he made a movie so unpretentious that it’s easy to forget you’re even watching a scripted feature at all. Bafaloukos, who was a Greek freelance photographer, had set out to make a documentary about the burgeoning reggae scene he first discovered in 1975 when Island records sent him to Jamaica on assignment. Yet, his resulting film Rockers doesn’t so much document as it does flow.

The cast is composed almost entirely of local musicians playing exaggerated versions of themselves, the plot is forgettable, and the film was clearly produced by a crew that had enjoyed a bit too much of Jamaica’s local cash crop, but Rockers is nonetheless a perfect time capsule of the uninhibited infancy of reggae. The scenes meld together as the main character, drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (played by himself of course) takes us through the lively streets of the Kingston ghetto and beyond.

At the time, the Kingston scene was largely separated from the corporate music industry (barring Bob Marley of course), but they were still aware of the world at large, which creates this interesting subculture in which the characters laze across the screen speaking Jamaican Patois, while also wearing U.S. military surplus gear. As the characters crisscross through the shanty-filled streets, the painted buildings and lush jungles create a vibrant setting that almost pulses along with the steady beat of the film’s reggae score. In the end the film isn’t so much about anything in particular as it is about capturing the cultural mishmash that was Jamaican reggae in its loose early years.

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Horsemouth in shirtless overalls

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Matching Adidas tracksuits long before Wes Anderson did it in The Royal Tenenbaums

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A patchwork shirt that’s straight out of the Abercrombie catalog.

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Ghurka shorts on an unfortunate tourist. Nice fit from his ladyfriend though.

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A Dick Tracy Villian in Kingston

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Surplus accents

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The starter kit for a Jamaican criminal – Gold rings, silk shirts, and a copy of Playboy on the dash.

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The rare sleeveless V-neck sweatershirt

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Grills

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More track jackets

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Elbow reinforcement on Horsemouth’s field jacket

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Casual club attire

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And now after Wednesday’s dose of reality, it’s back to my regularly scheduled program as I give you RRL’s $850 Roper Boot. Now to be fair, $850 is an entirely reasonable price for a suede roper, especially when you consider what it actually takes to create such a boot. These stompers come straight from the heartland, as they’re produced in a Nebraska factory that’s been churning out hand-made boots for over one hundred fifty years. That legacy of craftsmanship can be seen in each detail, from the fully lined uppers to the rubber coated goodyear sole, to the steel shank, right down to the leather stacked heel.

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Of course, most of RRL’s customers won’t really be wearing these to rope cattle, so the boot’s aesthetic features likely outweigh all of its guts in the end. Built upon vintage lasts from the 1940’s, it’s about as classic a boot as you can get, devoid of any superfluous ornamentation or stitching, this roper could probably sneak by without being called a cowboy boot at all. Maybe it’s because I’m having my typical mid-summer southwest dreams, but come Fall I could see myself wearing these with a pair of 501’s (never boot tucked of course) and a navy blazer. I’d dub it “the confused East Coaster in Santa Fe.”

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In honor of July 4th (yes I’m a day early, but I’m checking out early on this one) and in response to this appalling statistic, I give you The Annin American Flag. Since 1847, the Annin brand has been making their proud flags right here in the U S of A. When explorer Robert Peary reached the North Pole, he planted an Annin flag. When the Apollo Eleven 11 crew planted that first flag on the moon, it was an Annin. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima? Yup, you guessed it, that too was an Annin product. They’re 100% cotton, clock in at just under $35, and are made in New Jersey (Annin was founded on Fulton Street here in New York, but has since made the leap to the other side of the river.) Enough with the China made flags already, get an Annin from Best Made Company now, you’ll be doing this country proud.

And that’s enough heritage blogging for now, I’m gone fishin’ (er, drinkin’) have a good 4th everyone.

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Right around this time of year (it is the first official day of summer after all) I always come across these stories that praise the “purity” and “simplicity” of this season, but quite frankly I just don’t see it. Fall, winter, those seasons make sense to me. It’s cold, you put on a jacket. It’s really cold, you put on another jacket. It’s really, really cold, well you don’t leave your apartment. But summer on the hand, summer is a problem.

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Details (that seven letter word that seems to encompass every single thing you read about on blogs such as this) are always paramount (or so we say) but in summer their importance is heightened. There is a reason Hillary and Norgay are still brought up for simply looking so damn cool during their Everest expedition – there was a lot to see in their outfits but there was also a lot to miss. In summer, we don’t have the luxury of hiding behind layers, so there’s less room for both experimentation and error. Which is why in my eyes, the only real solution is to lean more towards the casual side of the spectrum.

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On this week’s episode Kyle, Jeff and I delve into the career of Turkish designer Umit Benan Sahin. Since his debut as the “Rising Star” of the Fall 2009 edition of Pitti Uomo, Umit has become somewhat of a folk hero for the young menswear community. In this episode we discuss his ability to meld tailoring with streetwear, his familial influences, and even his tattoos as we try to determine what makes Umit Benan one of the most fascinating figures in modern menswear.

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Growing up, as I remember it, my parents had these matching belts from Singapore, or maybe Spain, or maybe it was even Argentina. As you can tell, I can’t recall the specifics all that well, but I do remember as a kid that I’d look up and see that multi-colored motif of mother’s beaded belt staring down at me. That was the memory that came back to me this past week, as I opened up a package from La Matera, a Brooklyn based accessories start up, and saw the green and gold pattern of their Bariloche belt.

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George Peppard and the Cardigan Layer

George Peppard and the Cardigan Layer

New York Fashion Week is nigh upon us here in the city, which means that it’s been about a year now since I first came face to face with the bizarre world of “capital F Fashion.” In that year, my style hasn’t changed much, (which I’m happy about for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is monetary), so with a few exceptions here and there, I plan to keep it pretty boring and just wear the same pieces this time around as I did twelve months ago. Although, there are two things that I wore heavily this past winter, but will remain in my closet this time around, and that’s my pair of down vests. It was around this time last year, as menswear was reaching it’s peak of Italian infatuation, that the down vest was thrust from the L.L. Bean back catalog, slimmed down and reinterpreted as winter’s layering pièce de résistance for much of the younger generation (myself included.)

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If I’ve spoken to you over this past week or so, you probably could’ve seen this post coming from a mile away, because I’ll admit I don’t think there’s been an waking hour that’s gone by since the start of the new year that I haven’t brought up The West Wing. For about ten days now, thanks to Netflix’s ever so wise decision to finally buck up and offer Aaron Sorkin’s political masterpiece (which all of you should check out if you have the chance) I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the majority of my days basking in the liberal utopia that is The West Wing.  While I love The West Wing, and I’d like to believe that it accurately portrayals the inner workings of our political system, I’m not naive, it is still television after all and it’s no secret that the show takes it’s fair share of liberties with history.  Yet, one area where it is not off base is in the attire of the president and his team.  President Josiah Bartlett and rest of his staff dress like pretty much all modern day politicians: lame, cookie cutter, stagnant, and all around average.  As with any rule though, there is one large exception, and that’s John Spencer’s character, White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry.

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