Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Vietnam Circuit 2013

Poster of our next trip. Detail coming soon. The design base on us: tshirt, mod jacket, vespa super, vintage hand-writing font.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Conversation with Irish Jack

Irish Jack has often been credited with being one of the original members, if not the original member, of the mod scene in 1960s London. He knew the Who’s Pete Townshend from that scene, and Townshend has often said that Jack was the basis or part of the basis for Jimmy, the character Townshend created for the band’s 1973 concept album Quadrophenia, brought to life by actor Phil Daniels in the 1979 film of the same name. Irish Jack recently answered some questions for us via e-mail.

What is your take on Jimmy, the main character in Quadrophenia? How much of you do you think there is in him?

My take on Jimmy is that, yes, I am part of the Jimmy character. I helped [coproducer] Bill Curbishley cast Phil Daniels in the part. We watched him in a thirty-minute treatment by writer Barry Keeffe called “Hangin’ Around,” and I saw him as this loquacious, speed-freak, skinny kid who talked too much and wasn’t very good at listening. Director Franc Roddam and I spent a lot of time talking about Jimmy, and Roddam created similarities between us that to this day still make me smile to myself. I was a post boy at the London Electricity Board in ’64, tramping around the seven floors filling and emptying in and out trays, and Jimmy did exactly the same job at the advertising agency. Also, the fact that Daniels resembled me was a great help. When I showed my son the place in the Criterion DVD booklet where my story “History” begins, he looked at the facing shot of Daniels walking up from the sea and asked: “Dad, is that you? He looks like you.”
Jimmy was a wimp. Useless in a fight. Didn’t have much direction. Hugely the author of the loss of his girlfriend, Steph. Even out on the rock doing his best to commit suicide, he didn’t have the courage. When I was a mod, I got into a silly fight one time and it scared the shit out of me. That was the day I learned I couldn’t fight . . . I had dance steps Pete Townshend copied at the Goldhawk Club and reenacted a couple of nights later at the Marquee, and I had a kind of Irish lyrical eloquence—but I couldn’t fight. That’s who Jimmy really was. He wasn’t the champion of the world. He was an underdog beset by devils inside him. Lacking in confidence. My own devils were indeed quad-fold: My height—small. My girl’s name—Jackie. My Irish accent nobody could understand. My terrible hair back then—too curly and uncool. In fact, the only time I felt completely safe was talking to Pete Townshend, or trying to sound Oxford like [the Who’s] manager, Kit Lambert. Mod saved my life; there’s no doubt about that. But I was scared of who I was.
Growing up in Shepherd’s Bush in the early ’60s with the Who and, in particular, Pete was a revelation for me. I think he regarded me as this lyrical character whom he identified with and studied, and I unwittingly became a kind of catalyst for some of his writing. Hence his going on public record in interviews telling people that Quadrophenia is based on Irish Jack. Is it? What’s interesting is how he keeps the thing alive by sometimes varying my role: making it, say, a composite; another time I’m part of a small mod set who sat in his dressing room; and then sometimes I’m the inspiration. It’s a recipe for frustration, but his variations on me are healthy and they change from interview to interview. I remember Townshend saying in a tour program: “I have always felt a part of, and written for, a group. Not just a rock group but also a social group; a bunch of people from a small neighborhood in a big city. I am always trying to tell their continuing stories.” And that says it all for me. Townshend was an ace face. Nobody else could’ve written Quadrophenia. He was a mod and he lived it.

What is a mod, and what is a rocker?

Rockers were around long before mods. The archetypal rocker wore jeans and a zipped leather jacket and rode around on a motorcycle. Think Marlon Brando’s classic The Wild Ones. Harley-Davidsons, Nortons, and Triumphs. Rockers were very good at fixing their bikes and have a much longer cultural history, in that they evolved from that typical Marlon Brando smoldering look into an Edwardian style of dress that took off in England. And this is where it all gets pretty English: the style—crepe-soled shoes, skintight pants, draped jackets—took its name from King Edward, hence “Edwardian,” which in time morphed into “teddy boy.” Teddy boys were primarily English rockers, many of whom didn’t ride around on motorcycles.
A mod was essentially a young boy or girl from the age of seventeen up who dressed in neat-cut French/Italian clothes, and this fashion was at its peak, particularly in London, from 1963 to ’65. Mods wore handmade Italian cycling shoes and Sta-Prest jeans, usually in high-toned colors like pink, orange, and red. They wore Fred Perry sweaters with a special insignia to denote the fact that the garment was authentically expensive and not a cheap reproduction. They wore full-length coats made of suede and leather—buttoned. The great sin for a mod was to wear leather zipped. Sacrilege! They also wore blue nylon plastic macs to the knee with belts knotted, like an Italian film director, never belted through the clasp. Uncool! That would be more sacrilege. They wore French-cropped hair as well as a full head of hair with a parting in the middle. The only acceptable mode of transport for a mod was a Vespa GS or a Lambretta Li 150 scooter. The most beautiful sound in the world is not the words “You’re fired!” It’s the two-stroke piston pop of a scooter. Pop, pop, pop. The fairing on the scooter was held to be sexy, curvy, delicate like Brigitte Bardot. La dolce vita. Ooh-la-la. Rockers referred to our tiny two-stroke scooters as “hair dryers.”

Quadrophenia: Jimmy vs. World

"It made me want to see the movie again, I guess I ‘ve always had a soft spot for it. I saw it, and heard the album pretty much at their release, and I have a clear recollection of disappointment with the movie at the time, though by 1979 I wasn’t really interested in the music of The Who, by then, according to my reeducation, and Strummer inspired prejudices, a ‘rock opera’ seemed to signify much that was bad about pomp rock. Still, their music was something of a guilty pleasure despite the punk stalinism. I’d genuinely disliked, the uneasiness, staginess and cheap plastic style of Ken Russell’s Tommy five or so years earier, unable to see the irony at 13 I guess. I also thought at the time that the release of Quadrophenia was merely a vehicle to exploit the mod revival of the late 70′s.
I wonder now at my disappointment, a film inspired by a rock album but not a rock ‘n’ roll film. Rather, the film maker seems to have found his source material in the album notes. Jimmy’s story, his alienation and alienating environment, and in a way the film’s narrative and gritty kitchen sink visual style has an equally difficult relationship with the Who’s soundtrack, which didn’t seemed to fit incident or emotional condition snuggly, as one might expect from a conventional ‘rock film’, jarring in a way that makes it more of a punk film than a mod film.
I recently saw an extended interview with Pete Townsend recently to publicise The Who’s revival of the Quadophenia stage perfomances and his reminiscences of his intentions when creating the album seem to describe far more closely Roddam’s cinematic vision of Jimmy than I remember feeling from the album, perhaps Pete was being a little disingenuous there and should have given credit where its was due.
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Vintage scooter in Phillippines

So happy that i have many vespa friends in Phillippines. They had a change to visit Vietnam, and we rode together. As i know, in Phillippines, most of scooterists ride Vespa PX or Vespa LX, Stella beacause of the traffic law. Scooters must have signal turn and mirrors. So when i saw these pictures, i wonder where did these scooters go?
Check out Vespa club of The Phillippines website here: http://vespaclubph.forumo.biz/forum

Saturday, September 1, 2012