A little long winded this posting but please bare with the Papa as he traverses this important topic. For those of you familiar with my blog Papa Nui says... you will know that I'm a son of a WWII Veteran. My father served in the South Pacific, in the islands, New Guinea and the Solomons at a time when the security of Australia and New Zealand was directly threatened by the Japanese in their ambitious quest for Pacific domination. At this stage most of our resources were committed to the defence of British Colonial interests in the Middle East and so a handful of ill prepared, ill equipped and ill trained troops were left to stand between the Japanese sweep down through South Asia Asia and onto our doorsteps. It was a tenacious struggle to stop the onslaught, but our troops inflicted the first defeat on the invading forces on the rugged slopes of the Kokoda Track in New Guinea. It was a major setback for the Japanese who at this point had not encountered a determined foe. Britain had already abandoned Australia and New Zealand to its own defences after its own half hearted efforts in Singapore and so with American intervention and routing success of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Australasian region was secured as a forward base of operations for the regaining of the the South Pacific. It became a haven for the training and an embarkment point for the US Marines in their amphibious operations further up in the Pacific. Many more years would pass before our region was completely secured in Victory. It is with great pride that I acknowledge my fathers part in this momentous event in history. His efforts and those of his generation is what underpins Australia in the modern world. Our involvement as a small nation in the major conflicts of WWI and WWII is a legacy that every Australian holds dear and true. It is our national identity that was forged in these trying times. It is no wonder then that the Papa has grown up to respect those ideals handed down to him. Over the years these ideals have manifested themselves in Papa's interests; amateur historian, vintage collector of militaria, hawaiiana and the like. To feed those interests the Papa is prone to spend many hours perusing Ebay in the hope that he'll be able to acquire some unusual collectable from his chosen genre. It is at this point that the real nature of this posting is revealed. The Papa has uncovered a very disturbing trend. That is; the use as a marketing tool and descriptor heading' the term, 'Gay Interest'. There is nothing wrong with this term in itself, perhaps even relevant when used to promote the sale of a naturalists nudist periodical or vintage men's health photography from an era of innocence. The fact however that its common usage is now applied to photo images of our WWII veterans is nothing less than extremely irreverent and offensive.To insinuate or suggest that a group of shirtless GI's enjoying a unique moment of camaraderie earned under the the most gruelling, adverse and violent conditions is not only insidious but highly inflammatory. It makes a complete mockery of what these men have endued to survive and of that unique bond of men in war. It trivialises the actions of those very individuals who have fought and died together to ensure our freedoms. At a time when men are constantly encouraged by modern society to embrace our nurturing side and our humanity our efforts are being undermined by slanderous references to our masculinity. It offends the Papa deeply. A recent letter to an ebay seller who uses the term 'Gay Interest', resulted in some typical accusing anti-gay rhetoric in response. The seller totally missing the point. In today's workplace we have ethical standards to uphold. One of these is a diatribe about the vilification of others based on sexual preference. This is a good thing too as we should all be free to pursue our choices of expression. This is a freedom for which we should be thanking our veterans. However who will defend them? There comes a time when some cross the line as in the point I'm making. Should we allow dispersions cast upon our veterans because its trendy to see male bonding as an effeminate quality? The Papa thinks not and finds it derogatory and defamatory. The Papa intends to defend those veterans whose images are soiled by the quaintness of the title 'Gay Interest'. The Papa will be heard!
To incense the Papa even further, the other day he watched a particularly remarkable German film, called Napola. Set in WWII it followed the lives of two German teenage boys at an exclusive Hitler Jugen school. The first had won a scholarship for his prowess as a pugilist the other a shy sensitive literary type, had gained entrance because his father was a high ranking party official. Against the background of a Nazi education based on fearlessness and duty and the right of the strong to control the weak, a heart wrenching story emerges about humanity and the hidden evils of the Reich. Thinking that this would be a good film to own for a second viewing, the Papa decided to see if it was available on Ebay. No surprises here, the descriptor stated, 'Gay Interest'. What the fuck, that was the last straw for the Papa. The very moment masculinity discovers compassion, humility or understanding some idiot out in the cyber world starts flying the gay sympathy flag. The Papa is over it totally. On the one hand many of us oppose the herd mentality of men, a world of sports, beer and little dress sense and yet the moment we turn our backs on these stereotypes the integrity of our sexuality comes into question. In light of this discourse the Papa has only one comment,"Go Fuck Yourselves!"
The Papa is partial to a good canvas tote. There's Im sure many companies in the USA that do great bags but who are they?? In Japan its totesville, they seemed to turn up the most obscure canvas tote companies in the States and import them; so if you know of anyone doing great stuff send me a lead. The one featured in the photo is by KCP and the logo appears to be of PA origin USA. Can't find any details at all about them on the net though.
The thing that comes to mind to me about Japanese goods is quality and attentiveness to detail. I believe that this approach is inherent to them because of the concept of zen, which in many ways permeates their culture. In vintage clothing replicas they are in a class of the own. This is because every single detail is thoroughly researched and replicated to as an exacting standard as one can achieve. Exacting fabric construction and dye methods, moulding of hardware on zippers, buckles and studs are all of am unbelievable quality. Many western enthusiasts scoff at Japanese pricing but I can assure that this perfection does not come cheap. Case in example is my custom made belt from Warp and Woof. The buckle is cast in sterling silver and is an exacting replica from a 1930's Montgomery ward catalog. I was present when Masato-san my artisan friend showed me the page in which the buckle featured. The native american twirling log design (swastika) features prominently as this design pre-dates the decree of the native american artists associations' decision to discontinue the symbol in response to the rise of fascism in Europe in the late 1930's. The leather belt with its stamp pays homage to the HH Hieser saddlery company of Denver Colorado, famous in its day for quality leathergoods. The belt also comes equipped with various key holders, money pouch and wallet attatchment. An amazing piece which I still wear daily after 10 solid years of use. With all the huzz buzz of the larger Japanese manufactures such as the The Real McCoys and Buzz Rickson, the smaller operations like Warp and Woof are still making and incredible product which deserves to be recognised. If you ever have the chance to visit Tokyo their store is a must stop over.
Of all Japanese brands one of my all time favourites is Warp and Woof in Daikanyama. In 1999 I commissioned them to make this 30's style jacket for me. I was amazed at the results!! Navy blue cashmere and wool with extraordinary detailing. It remains one of my best. Please take the time to check at their blog, http://warp-and-woof.blogspot.com/ I don't believe their garments are available outside of Japan but if you ever visit you must check them out.
This forum is an opportunity for me to shoot shit on my favourite topics, namely surfing, board design, WWII military stuff, beachcombing and grass shack living and lets not forget vintage clothing and lots of other off beat and interesting stuff.
I would love to be able respond to your comments and views so please take the time to include your email address in any correspondence. Write me, email@example.com