Kansai Yamamoto

Today I head to Tokyo, so I figure a little Kansai Yamamoto is fitting …


Yamamoto was HUGE in the 70s and 80s.  While his creations were worn by everyone who was anyone amongst avant-garde fashion followers, his poster child was David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust years.  Unbelievably amazing.










Sassy Magazine and its Modern Reincarnation: Rookie

In the ’80s and early ’90s, teen magazine readers could be grouped into two categories. The Seventeen reader with New Kids on the Block playing in her Walkman, her prom dress picked in September, who was more than happy to conform to any and all standards of pop culture.  Then, there were the Sassy girls. 

Sassy was the antithesis of the homecoming queen, please-your-boyfriend culture. It published articles about suicide and STDs while Seventeenwas still teaching girls how to get a boy to notice you. Although Sassy folded in 1994, its readers remember it well, and its influence is still felt in culture today …

… on that note, Tavi Gevinson, has created Rookie, a sort of digital Sassy of today.  Promising honest, funny, and insightful takes on teen life, Rookie centers around a monthly theme with updates three times a day on a typical teen’s schedule: after school, dinnertime, and before bed. Pretty excellent if you ask me!

Won’t You Take me to Funkytown …

August Darnell, a.k.a. Thomas August Darnell Browder, the funky founder and high-style creator of Kid Creole and the Coconuts, was born in 1951 in Haiti, but spent the rest of his childhood in the Bronx. He grew up comfortably, proved his intelligence by earning a Masters degree in EnglishGraduating in English, and then went on to do what else but go into the music business!

Darnell began writing songs for Chapell Music, but when the company didn’t quite take to his propensity for over-the-top clever Latin songs, they mutually agreed to part-company. Finding himself jobless in NYC circa the mid-70s, Darnell and his equally funky brother, Stony, joined forces to put together the legendary Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. which in the mid-70s cut two albums for RCA, and a third for Elektra.  The band had style, and more talent than they knew what to do with, and they put a completely modern, unique spin on the big band genre.

But, as one can imagine, the big labels weren’t so pysched about the fact that they had both signed the same band, so they followed up with some lawsuits.  While Stony managed to keep the original band together, Darnell and Andy Hernandez (Coati Mundi) moved on to Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Kid Creole (Darnell) served as the larger-than-life central figure in a multi-racial, multi-cultural musical carnival.  Inspired by Cab Calloway and the Hollywood films of the 30s and 40s, the Kid filled out his colorful zoot suits with style and grace, and danced onstage with his inimitable, relentless, and self-proclaimed cool.  The band was also co-founded by August and his Savannah Band associate vibraphone player Andy Hernandez, also known as his “trusty sidekick” Coati Mundi, and  Darnell’s former wife Adriana “Addy” Kaegi, who served as the choreographer and costume designer of the Coconuts.  The band also featured the talent of Peter Shott on piano, drummer David Span, Carol Colman on the bass, legendary Jamaican drummer Winston Grennan, ‘Bongo Eddie’ Folk on percussion as well as the Pond life horn section Charlie Lagond, Ken Fradley and Lee Robertson. Then there were the Coconuts – the backing vocalist/dancers who always looked amazing – Adriana Kaegi, Cheryl Poirier, and Taryn Haegy (who was replaced by Janique Svedberg).

Kid Creole & the Coconuts had hits around the world, and they remained especially near and dear to the hearts of downtown New Yorkers throughout the 80s.  They appeared in  Downtown 81 (1980-81), Against All Odds (1984), New York Stories (1989), The Forbidden Dance (1990), Identity Crisis (1990), Only You (1992), Car 54, Where Are You? (1994). They also made a TV film, Something Wrong in Paradise, based on the Mimi cycle and broadcast on Granada TV in the U.K. in December 1984. Love them? They still perform today, check out their website to find out when they are coming to a city near you!

80s TV: Square Pegs

The 80s were awkward; they were the years of neon colors, perms, shoulder pads, new wave dances, and teenagers of the decade epitomized that awkwardness.  Square Pegs, the television show which aired from 1982 to 1983, showcased all of these 80s trends, alongside typical teenage angst, to make for truly some truly great TV.

Entering their freshman year at Weemawee High School, best friends Patty Green (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker) are hungry for popularity, hoping to break into the hipster clique which is run with an iron fist by valley girl Jennifer DeNuccio (Tracy Nelson), her thug boyfriend Vinnie Pasetta (Jon Caliri), and her BFF LaDonna Fredericks (Claudette Wells). But things don’t go as planned when Patty’s glasses and lunchbox, and Lauren’s braces prove to be badges of uncool in the cafeteria, so the forlorn girls find comfort in Weemawee’s other social rejects: future stand-up comic Marshall Blechtman (John Femia) and dim new waver Johnny Slash (Merritt Butrick). Together the teen losers spend their weeks trying to achieve acceptance, only to routinely fail, forcing them to pave their own unique way through the nightmarish high school experience, lorded over by pep-powered Muffy Tepperman (Jami Gertz).


After a pilot episode fueled with the lustful wishes Patty and Lauren hold for hallway supremacy, “Square Pegs” took off in a gazillion different directions over the course of its short 19-episode run, following the loves, losses, and interests of just about every character on the show (contributing to the show’s short-lived existence). Sure, the writing is so-so, and the acting is on the level of Saved By the Bell, but there is something charming and lovable about the 80s cheese of the whole thing, and the musical cameos were pretty excellent (Devo, the Waitresses), not to mention Bill Murray!


Retro Wednesday: Dynamite Magazine

In the 70s and 80s, Dynamite Magazine was the kids guide to cool.  It was created in order to provide children with an introduction to pop culture. Remember, these were the days before cable TV, VCRs/DVDs, the internet, and video games.  Dynamite provided kids with a great way to pass time while they avoided homework and their parents.

The magazine was founded by Jenette Kahn and published by Scholastic Press from 1974 until 1992.  Dynamite always featured a cover story on the newest hottest stars, and articles on the best of TV, movies, cartoons, and music.  It also included all sorts of special features like magic tricks with Magic Wanda; kids’ one-line woes, known as “Bummers,” which always began with the words, “Don’t you hate it when…”; “And Now a Word from Our Sponsor” commercial parodies; the puzzle pages of the ghoulish Count Morbida; Hot Stuff, a section featuring gags and new stuff in stores; the birth and growth of a horse called Foxy Fiddler; reprinted origin stories on Marvel and DC superheroes, and later the comic superheroes the “Dynamite Duo”; and Good Vibrations, an advice column. Best of all, the magazine always came with some sort of cool extras, from puzzles and games to calendars and records, even 3-D posters with glasses if you were really lucky!

Magic Tricks with Magic Wanda


"And Now a Word from our Sponsor"

Count Morbida, the puzzle monster