Rock musicians are notoriously eccentric as a whole, particularly those whose heyday was back in the anything goes, drug-infused 1960s and 70s. But legendary drummer and wild man Ginger Baker stands out from the crowd in terms of pure insanity and fearsome ill temper. A very large redheaded man with a seriously bad attitude and a taste for mind-altering drugs, Baker is most famous for being one third of the best power trio of all time, Cream. Along with the late Jack Bruce on bass and primary vocals and the inimitable Eric “Slowhand” Clapton on guitar, Cream redefined the sound of heavy blues in the late 1960s and made an incredible impact on Rock despite the fact that the volatile trio could only keep it together for 2 years. The outstanding 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker chronicles those heady days as well as the pure obstreperousness of its larger-than-life subject who left a trail of destruction in his wake across several continents in the years that followed.
With his gaunt appearance, madman’s eyes and predilection towards random acts of violence and self-destruction, Baker makes an ideal subject for a film. Beginning in the present at Baker’s fortified South African compound and horse farm and tracing his life back to his boyhood during Blitz-ravaged London, Beware makes use of lovely interstitial animation to add graphic novel vividness to the biography and never flinches fromrecounting the legendary drummer’s troubled life starting with the loss of his tough father in WWII. Baker, who might today have been diagnosed with ADD as a boy, subsequently finds his special quality when he realizes that he has “perfect time” and becomes enthralled as a teenager with Jazz drumming. He was taken under the wing of Phil Seaman, the greatest of the English Jazz drummers in the Gene Krupa style, who turned Baker on to two exceptionally important things that would impact the rest of his life: African rhythms and heroin. By his late teen years, Baker was not only a smack addict but also one of the most preeminent and technically accomplished drummers in England or anywhere else. This naturally led to his contributing to the intense and percolating London R&B scene and he quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in The Graham Bond Organisation, one of those big-in-England-but-not-in-the-States-type groups. With an appetite for drugs even greater than Baker’s, Bond’s band soon collapsed but not before Baker fatefully met Scottish bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce. These two polar opposites somehow attracted and were soon to become the fiery odd couple of British R&B making Rock history in the process.
While Ginger Baker disparages Bruce throughout Beware (as well as pretty much every other non-Jazz musician on the planet except Clapton), it’s clear that despite their mutual antipathy the two men fed off each other to achieve the greatest of musical heights. When Eric Clapton tired of his purist exploits in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and chose to return to the heady world of amplified R&B, Bruce and Baker were a ready made fit for Rock’s first power trio, emphasis on power: The Cream. Continue reading →
If you find older vintage divers intriguing but you’re looking for a more modern watch that you don’t have to worry about as well as something that really stands out from the ordinary, have I got a timepiece for you: this extra funky and cool Squale Tiger rated to 300 meters. Made by a reborn version of the company that produced so many classic, rugged divers in the 1960s and 70s, the modern incarnation of Squale used new old stock parts from their supply, including original Tritium luminous dials with fantastic patina, to create an entirely new yet still essentially vintage model. Featuring a big asymmetrical case with oversized bidirectional locking bezel that is released for rotation by the red button on the lower right lug (much like Omega’s famed Ploprof), the Tiger doesn’t look like any other watch out there and your unlikely to see it on anyone else’s wrist on land or at sea.
Made of extremely high quality stainless steel and featuring a tough mineral crystal and bulletproof ETA automatic movement but priced under $800, the Squale Tiger is remarkable value for money and a remarkable statement on the wrist. For those who dare to be different while living their life of adventure, this Tiger’s got your name on it.
Dear ad agency creatives & account people,
I’m sure you’re tired of your friends and family telling you how much they hate the commercials you lovingly write, produce and work so hard to get your clients to grudgingly green light, not to mention the random vitriol from total strangers. Or the many dates that have ended in tears when you mention your work. Or maybe you’ve begun gradually obfuscating your profession in polite conversation, claiming you are in a more nebulous field like “marketing” or “branding” rather than owning up to the fact that you are, in a lot of peoples’ minds, a worthless suckfish clinging to the sleek and noble underbelly of their favorite TV shows.
Fear not! There is a simple way to regain pride in your work and earn the plaudits of your fellow man. You see, the majority of what you produce does not at all deserve such vituperation. In fact, most of it is quite amusing and well-crafted. In the best of your work, only one or two viewings create an indelible connection between the product and its benefit in the potential customer’s mind. And that should be a good feeling for you, shouldn’t it?
But here’s the rub: once we the viewing public see your little bit of genius 5 times in an hour, well, even the sweetest rose will begin to stink like a freshly opened can of lutefisk. And that not only tarnishes your formerly sterling work but also drags the client right into the crosshairs of our discontent as well.
Take, for example, this typically funny commercial for DIRECTV featuring Rob Lowe and his super creepy doppelganger.
Well done & kudos! Except that there are only two spots in this campaign so far and they have been played to death already. Continue reading →
The inaugural Russian Grand Prix from the brand new Sochi circuit was essentially decided on the first corner of Lap 1 when Nico Rosberg pulled ahead of his pole-sitting Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton but lost concentration while carrying too much speed and locked up massively on the slick new asphalt. This badly flat-spotted the German contender’s tires and he was forced to pit far earlier than planned for a new set of rubber. Rosberg’s improbable mission from then on was to advance through the field while preserving his rubber until the end, as the track caused minimal degradation to the field’s tires and made one-stop strategy the only feasible competitive option. But he was able to rescue his race in impressive fashion to finish 2nd and claw back important points in the Drivers’ Championship that he appeared to throw away with his sloppy first lap mistake, staying within striking distance of Hamilton with only three Grand Prix remaining this year. Rosberg’s impressive recovery also allowed Mercedes to secure the 2014 Constructors’ Championship, their first and a well-deserved reward for an absolutely dominant season during which their chassis has been far and away the best of them all.
In the end Hamilton increased his advantage over his Mercedes teammate to 17 points and thanks to Rosberg’s uncharacteristic error, the Englishman was able to swan away easily for the fist-ever Formula 1 victory in Russia. Continue reading →
Hamilton takes first Pole at new Sochi track, Rosberg 2nd for yet another Mercedes front row lockout; Bottas impressive again to take 3rd in Qualifying.
Pics from the always excellent GrandPrix247.com
Less than a week after a devastating freak accident at rainy Suzuka left Marussia driver Jules Bianchi in a coma the Formula 1 circus made its way to Sochi, Russia for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. With their injured comrade much on the minds of everyone in the paddock, Mercedes ace and Drivers’ Championship points leader Lewis Hamilton put the attention back on competition with the first-ever Pole at the Sochi track. His teammate and rival Nico Rosberg took 2nd to lock out the front row yet again for the Mercedes factory team and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas continued his breakout year to grab 3rd on the grid. The young Finn had been on a flier that may have eclipsed Rosberg’s time in Q3 but had a lurid slide at the very end of the lap that cost him that chance. The new Sochi circuit was quite green, as was to be expected, and tire degradation was far more moderate than at any of the other tracks so far this year. That should make tire strategy particularly interesting come Sunday, as some teams may chose to gamble on very long stints to cement or gain superior track position. The opening lap could also be eventful with Rosberg keen to reestablish the dominance that has deserted him the last few races and desperately trying to claw back points from Hamilton.
McLaren’s Jenson Button showed very good pace to run the 4th fastest lap, while teammate Kevin Magnussen came home P6 but will receive a 5-place penalty for a subsequent gearbox change. Russian national Daniil Kvyat had a dream quali for Torro Rosso to take P5, ahead of not just teammate Jean-Eric Vergne in 10th but also both of the senior team Red Bulls, which struggled with straight line speed. Daniel Ricciardo could only muster 7th but it was even worse for Sebastian Vettel who failed to advance out of Q2 and will start a lowly 11th on race day. Ferrari also had a disappointing Qualifying after an awful zero-point race last weekend in Japan. Fernando Alonso, whose F1 future is somehow now in doubt for next year, could only get as high as 8th and teammate Kimi Raikkonen was a mediocre 9th. Between his DNF at Suzuka, his suddenly uncertain status for next season and the accident to Bianchi, the normally cocky Spaniard has seemed subdued all weekend long. It’s not too likely in the uncompetitive F14 T chassis but here’s hoping the great former 2-time Champion can find some race pace come Sunday when the lights go out.
Team Marssusia prepared Jules Bianchi’s car for the race but will not use a replacement driver. The chassis, in which the Frenchman scored the team’s only World Championship points this past summer in Monaco, will remain in the garage in silent tribute to their fallen teammate.
Here’s another special watch that I’m offering on consignment and, yup, you guessed it — it’s a rare vintage diver just like the Benthos. Only this one has a more conventional type of stopwatch complication even if it’s just as scarce. It’s a circa 1960s “Skin 666” with Aqua-Lung logo, a highly water resistant diving chronograph featuring a beautiful black dial with gold accents and intricate Tachymeter & Telemeter tracks. The gilt hands compliment the dial beautifully and their original luminous fill has acquired a lovely patina.
Inside the screwed steel back is a very robust and classic Landeron caliber 248 column wheel chronograph movement. Unlike most chronos, this Landeron starts the timer with the top pusher but stops and resets it with the bottom pusher, a welcome bit of uncommon quirkiness.
This Aqualung “Skin 666” was constructed by Schild Co. in Switzerland and then imported by California’s US Divers Company to be sold along with their top-of-the line diving equipment. You can check out some of their cool catalog images below — love that vintage ad style and layout!
In amazing true Near Mint condition and even featuring its original Tropic rubber strap, this Aqualung chrono is 38mm in diameter by 47mm long, just the right size in my opinion. In terms of wrist presence it wears similarly to a Rolex Submariner of the period. But for all its charm, scarcity and functionality, it’ll cost you way less than one of those. I always say you don’t have to break the bank to make a statement with a cool vintage watch. This beautiful Aqualung diver’s chronograph from back in the day is surely proof of that!
Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was critically injured Sunday
The Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, already under threat from a menacing offshore typhoon, was marred by a freak accident in rapidly deteriorating weather late in the race when Marussia driver Jules Bianchi lost control at Dunlop Curve and collided at high speed with a recovery tractor on the circuit. The promising 24-year-old Frenchman, who scored Marussia’s first and only Championship points at Monaco this year, aquaplaned and his low slung car appeared to submarine the edge of the tractor, which was on the scene attempting to remove Adrian Sutil’s beached Sauber after he had also lost control on that exact corner. Bianchi was taken by ambulance to a local hospital (the mandatory medical helicopter appears to have been grounded by the weather) where he was diagnosed with a severe head injury, underwent emergency surgery and is now listed in critical but stable condition. This is the worst on-track incident in Formula 1 since 2009 when Felipe Massa was hit in the head during Qualifying at the Hungaroring by a spring that had come off of the car in front of him. Having only just seen the recently released video of the incident, this accident looks must worse than Massa’s and I can say without exaggerating that it is remarkable that Bianchi survived the shunt. It is also remarkable that the hurtling vehicle did not collect any of the safety personnel on the scene.
The Bianchi incident prompted a red flag that prematurely ended the race on lap 45 and overshadowed what had been an exciting day of wet weather strategy and dynamic racing. Lewis Hamilton was declared the winner and in truth it looked like no one had anything for the Englishman even had the race gone the full 53-lap distance. Continue reading →
Kicking off October (and starting a definite trend for the month) with another wonderful consignment watch: a super cool and chunky 1970s Aquastar Benthos 500 diver’s chronograph. This is a big watch at about 43mm wide without crown and 14mm thick and it features a very unique purpose built minute counter complication: once the pusher at “4” is depressed, the big orange hand begins a 60-minute journey around the dial (to tell the wearer how long he’s been underwater, for example). And while it can be reset back to zero with another click of the pusher it will not stop counting until it has made it all the way back to “12”. Unlike most chronographs, the straight white sweep seconds hand is just that, a constant seconds that is always running and unconnected to the minute counter feature. The highly unusual movement is an A. Schild caliber 1902/03 that seems to have been made and modified exclusively for the diver-specific Aquastar Benthos line, as I’ve not seen this strange type of complication in any other watches.
The whole watch is really pretty scarce, in fact, and to find it in this sort of unpolished and simply beautiful original condition is no easy task. Personally, while it’s not inexpensive I feel like it’s actually undervalued for as uncommon and special as this watch is. Best of all, if you’ve got the swagger to pull this bad boy off you’re unlikely to see it on anyone else’s wrist. The Aquastar Benthos 500 is a rare classic from the heyday of mechanical dive watches and it’s for the serious enthusiast knows the importance of the specially designed tool he’s got on his wrist.
As a fierce typhoon was bearing down on Japan and the Suzuka circuit another massive storm erupted in the paddock that made Qualifying for a race that may or may not happen on Sunday seem like an afterthought. Come with me below the fold to find out all the major doings from Japan… Continue reading →
Once in a while you are reminded of a great song. You put it on, and it blows you away, reminding you of how great music can actually be. It’s subjective, because we’ve all got our own lists of songs that light that fire in our hearts and bellies, but one at the top of my list is U-Mass, by The Pixies. The Pixies are still a great band, but in 1991, when they released their final studio album “Trompe le Monde” after a 5 year run together, they seemed somehow even better. The late 80’s and early 90’s were a weird and great time for music, a kind of last gasp before the “alternative” became the mainstream. Stalwarts of the dangerous and subversive fringe of rock & roll like Jane’s Addiction were calling it quits after beating their heads and hearts against the wall of society for half a decade, despite Lollapalooza having hit the amphitheaters and coming out a huge success, while Nirvana, Mudhoney, and seemingly everyone else in Seattle were taking the baton for a few more years of legitimate thrashing around before the whole thing blew up in a sad mess of sanitized, canned angst, a la Weezer and Bush. On MTV you were likely to see a Soundgarden video bracketed by C+C Music Factory on one end and Color Me Badd on the other. It was a confusing time. No wonder so many of us young guys wore nail polish.