JESUS THE DUNKER

JESUS THE DUNKER

How a kid from West Oakland learned to fly with the Golden State Warriors

Jesus Showtimedunk

It’d been two months since I had talked to Jesus. Phone tag and missed opportunities nearly sinking what could’ve been a dope feature on an Oakland native. I hadn’t given up, but I had moved on when my phone rang on a Sunday night. An unfamiliar number, I picked up, it was him, Zeus. By Zeus I mean Jesus El, the first name pronounced Juh-zeus, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

“What’s good man?” he asked me. I apologized for the delay. We had started an interview over the summer that I had yet to follow up on. A staple of Golden State Warriors games since the early 2000’s, Jesus’ penchant for high flying acrobatics has earned him a place as one of the Warriors’ preeminent acro-dunk entertainers. Known for dazzling crowds by launching himself 30 feet into the air, since starting more than a decade ago, Zeus has parlayed his extraordinary abilities into opportunities to travel the word, and to put on for the youth in his community here in West Oakland through his work.

“I just wanted to follow through on our interview,” I told him, “I didn’t wanna fully drop the ball.” He had invited me to his gym when we first spoke, but I didn’t know if the invitation still stood. I reminded him of his offer. “We train on Mondays and Wednesdays,” he replied. “Bring some shorts, and a shirt you can sweat in.” “Okay…” I responded, but I must’ve sounded a bit unsure. “If you want to write about this, you should go through it, so you know what we’re doing out here. So you’re not just writing from speculation.” I couldn’t object.

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HIGH FIVE

HIGH FIVE

Jay Stone's 5th Handed looks to breathe new life into the vintage sportswear realm

Jay Stone

A pursuit cherished by those with an appreciation for the past, vintage clothing has experienced a resurgence in recent years. While many claim the realms of style and fashion to be cyclical by nature, it’s maybe true more than ever that today, everything old is new. No better is this truth revealed than in the world of vintage sportswear, where celebrated aesthetics from seasons past have found a new home on the backs of today’s youth.

Central to this resurgence is the vintage dealer, the person with the eye, the connections, and the hustle to source the hard-to-find items, and provide them to their customers. Jay Stone–known to the world as both a spitterand gear connoisseur–is one such person. The founder of Oakland’s 5th Handed Apparel Company, Jay has amassed a dizzying collection of rare throwback gear, and vintage sportswear that he’s now opening up to buying public.

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A COACH IN THE KILL ZONE

A COACH IN THE KILL ZONE

A look inside Castlemont High School's Football team and the coach looking to transform it from within

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 1.19.21 AM

Oakland breeds heroes. Something tells me it’s been like that since the beginning. People just move with purpose out here. Maybe it’s in the air. The most recent independent film that’s come across our table focuses an eye on East Oakland, and more specifically Castlemont High. A short documentary that expresses the bond between sports and community, A Coach in The Kill Zone sheds an unwavering glimpse into the life of Edward Washington, the newly enlisted football coach at Oakland’s Castlemont High School.

With three years having passed since the Knight’s last win, at the ripe age of 25, Ed’s challenge is to turn the program around in the face of immense obstacles on and off the field.

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STEPH DAZZLES AT KEZAR

STEPH DAZZLES AT KEZAR

Steph Curry puts on an unannounced show at the San Francisco Pro Am

steph-curry-buckets-nba-playoffs

Contrary to popular opinion, summertime is a wonderful time for hoop fans. For fans who didn’t make it to an NBA game this year, summer league and celebrity basketball games are the next best thing. Shit, remember two years ago during the lockout? It was joyous. KD at the Rucker, and Lebron at the Drew League? It doesn’t get much better…

Unless you’re a Warriors fan maybe. SF’s Kezar Stadium might just be the summer joog spot after what went down when hometown hero Steph Curry stepped inside the gym doors for last week’s Pro Am game. What transpired was nothing short of incredible, but then again, that’s just typical Steph.

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GREATNESS IN THE MAKING

GREATNESS IN THE MAKING

A look inside the career of professional footballer Jordan Spence


Illustrations by Danielle Schnur

At the age of twenty-three, Jordan Spence has made an admirable life for himself. He plays for one of the most recognizable football teams in the world, has played for stadiums of thousands and is engaged to this lovely lady. So what does it take to reach the heights that Jordan has? And what is it like living a life that so many people aspire to have?

But Jordan’s story has wrinkles in it too. Rather than the idyllic rise to fortune and fame, his story is marked by perseverance–making his a story that’s equal parts exceptional and relatable. I met Jordan two years ago while he as on loan to Bristol City Football Club. He came into Reiss, where I was working and we’ve been friends ever since. Fast forward two years and a plethora of life experiences and I’m sitting down with Jordan to interview him for the Bowties.

Since the day we met, whenever I meet up with Jordan I get the the unequivocal feeling that I’m witnessing greatness in the making. Jordan is seeping with potential. In the two years since our first meeting, that potential has led to some incredible things: a spot on East London’s storied West Ham United club chief among them. Now, Jordan’s got an opportunity to prove himself on a big stage, a challenge he’s navigating with a true sense of purpose. Today, around 2pm in London, Jordan, his fiancee Naomi and I are walking back from a bagel shop on Brick Lane, heading to Jordan’s studio to eat before our interview. After we finish up lunch, we settle in for a conversation, and Jordan catches me up on where he’s been, and where he’s planning to take things next.

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NIKE’S SPIRIT MACHINE

NIKE’S SPIRIT MACHINE

A three-man design collaboration between Nike's visionaries aims to save the brand from itself

Nike

What do you when your brand has achieved permanent ubiquity? People used to cite some survey that located the Nike swoosh in the hyper-elite category of recognizable symbols; I don’t remember the order, but the crucifix, Mickey D’s, and Coca Cola were all in the conversation. For those of who grew up with J’s and all-white Forces as absolute wardrobe staples, it can be easy to forget that Nike was once just another sneaker company, trying desperately to separate themselves from the pack. Luckily for them, Michael did. And then they did themselves, through the efforts of visionary designers like Tinker Hatfield, partnerships with top athletes, and some extremely effective three-word sloganeering. Adidas is probably still salty.

A few hundred billion in revenue later, and Nike is still the most powerful sports brand in the world, but along with that massive structure come some pitfalls. Generally speaking, brands on that type of scale can get stale and boring real fast, and innovation can sometimes take a backseat to comfortable economics.

Nike’s leaders though, are making a concerted effort to reverse that trend. The folks at Berlin-based design and culture magazine 032c recently spent some time talking with Nike CEO Mark Parker, legendary designer Tinker Hatfield, and musician and artist Hiroshi Fujiwara, who collectively comprise HTM, a three-man design collaboration aimed to inject some risk-taking creativity into Nike’s vast corporate structure.

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WINE & BOWTIES PRESENTS: COME FLY WITH ME

WINE & BOWTIES PRESENTS: COME FLY WITH ME

Next Thursday, our Surf Club screening series takes a trip down memory lane with Mike

Wine & Bowties Oakland Surf Club

Back in ’89, MJ’s fingers were still naked. He had changed the way the game was played, had raised the profile of an entire league, and had set Nike on the course to a permanent spot at the top of the sneaker game. But that elusive ring had yet to materialize. Come Fly With Me captures The Greatest, mid-journey and mid-conquest, when the best was still yet to come. This Thursday, we’ll take a trip back to MJ’s early days, and to the grainy, VHS days of our collective childhood. Before Space Jam. Before Playground even.

Next Thursday, Max and Ari and the good folks at Oakland Surf Club will be hosting us all once again, and giving us the forum to enjoy a quality film in good company. This’ll be the third installment in our nascent screening series at Surf Club, and after Cocaine Cowboys, I’d say things are only getting better. Should be some familiar faces, and hopefully some new ones too. In any case, you know the drill. BYOB and bring the folks. Preview after the MORE.

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“SURFING’S A WHITE WASHED SPORT”

“SURFING’S A WHITE WASHED SPORT”

Thoughts on the documentary film "White Wash", and the struggle of black surfers against cultural hegemony

White Wash

I’ll never forget the day I bought my first surfboard. I had been talking with Tiago at my old apartment in Culver City when he said with his typically irrepressible enthusiasm, “Bro! I found you a surfboard, bro! Fifty Dollars. Let’s go!” On July 1st, 2010 I paddled out for the first time.

A year later, Max told me that surfing had changed my life. I never really thought about it. I always just felt how much I loved “tapping the source” as the grimy surf author Kem Nunn would call it. He was right, however, it had transformed me. Physically. Spiritually. Emotionally. I may sound like I’m the stereotypical surf dude, but what I’ve learned from surfing has crossed over into my life on dry land. It may seem like surfing was brought into my life by an enthusiastic friend; like I had simply been introduced to the sport and that’s all that was needed. In truth, however, hobbies don’t form that way. Much of what goes into people’s interests is a result of experience, and my foray into surfing had been slowly brewing over decades.

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A TRIBUTE TO T-MAC

A TRIBUTE TO T-MAC

While debates rage about Tracy McGrady's legacy, we look back on the good times

Tracy McGrady

Anybody who was playing NBA Live much around ’03 or ’04 should know that T-Mac during that era could very well have been the most devastating player in video game history. I used to go stupid with him on the Rockets. He was, after all, going stupid on the league in real life, and he boasted one of the most insane inside-outside games, and general skill sets anybody’s ever seen. Raining 3’s, off-the-glass bashouts, sneaky dimes–he was electrifying to watch, even with the half-lazy eye, and even without the Kobe-esque competitive fire.

Look, I don’t wanna do this as a cautionary tale. There’s no moral of the story here, and it’s not a “what could’ve been” lament. Besides, Bill Simmons already did that excellently, and thoroughly, the way only Bill Simmons does. For good measure, that piece even includes a positively tragic player-by-player recap of Tracy’s perenially fucked up supporting casts, a critique of his unleaderly demeanor, and a wistful meditation on what might’ve been, had he been able to get cozy in his cousin Vince’s shadow. Fortunately though, in that extensive retrospective, Simmons also identifies the seven-year peak of T-Mac’s career as one of the most phenomenal runs of its kind. And it was. 32-a-game-at-23-years-old phenomenal. 22 straight W’s in ’08 phenomenal. I remember running back the 13 in 35 seconds footage a dozen times in a row, because, well, there wasn’t any other option. YouTube must’ve been brand new, and I’m certain I spent my whole lunch in the computer lab that afternoon.

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“THIS IS REAL”

“THIS IS REAL”

Hoodslam brings populist pro wrestling to the heart of Oakland

Ho-ly shit! Ho-ly shit! Ho-ly shit!

On a Hoodslam night, it’s not uncommon to exit the Oakland Metro with the chant still ringing in your ears. It was Banks and Tom who led me to my first Hoodslam. The idea had been communicated to me, vaguely but enthusiastically, that we’d be watching a wrestling show at the Oakland Metro, and that yes, we should bring along a few pints of Hennessy and a blunt for good measure.

At that point, early on in 2012, I couldn’t really remember the last time I had tuned in to anything pro wrestling-related. Naturally, I had fond memories of Revenge on N64, The Rock before anybody knew his first or last name, and of course, telling other kids to suck it–but my short-lived love affair with the world of wrestling wasn’t something I figured I’d ever rekindle.

Suffice to say, the next three hours or so were damn near revelatory. As sensory experiences go, it’s bonkers: the snarl-serenade of the death metal Hoodslam theme song, the Bufferesque boom of ring announcer Ike Burner’s voice, as he made introductions between drags from the blunt between his fingers, the muddled thump of palms slapping the side of the ring, and an endless chorus of fuck you’s. Tables get smashed, drinks get poured, boobies get paraded around, and full-on acrobatics are executed with utter precision. There’s even a guy in a fucking Pink Panther suit.

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