Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Very British Phenomenon, But...

At a pretty early age, I became infatuated with a particular British subculture... which is obvious if you're reading this blog. However, it wasn't the 'Britishness' which captured my attention. It was the method by which that subculture chose to express itself which piqued my curiousity, leading me into a life-long obsession.

Sure, the fact that the whole Mod thing was, indeed, very British did get me interested in the social/economic/cultural conditions of post-war England that led to Mods and surrounded their existence throughout the sixties and beyond. And to this day, I still find that whole history fascinating.

However, as much as I love that history, as much as I think the Union Jack is actually a great design motif, and as much as I really dig the humor of Ricky Gervais, I've never considered myself an Anglophile. For one thing, I don't spell the words humour or colour. Too much typing energy for me. I have also never used the words mate, oi, blimey, carboot, arse, or shite in conversation. I use my middle finger when flipping people off, not a two-finger salute. I call women women, not birds. And I don't know a thing about Manchester or Liverpool football teams. (But I do know it's better to call it football and not soccer!)

That said, I love a lot of British music from the 1960s up to today. (But, I also don't care for a lot of British music... Blur and Oasis, I'm looking at you.) I would rather watch a marathon of the U.K. Office instead of an episode of the U.S. Office. (Let's face it, the British know how to make great TV!) I think know James Bond is way cooler than Jason Bourne! And, of course, British culture helped spawn my greatest obsession: Mods!

And yes, it was a 'very British phenomenon.' Over the years, on occasion, I've heard about how non-British Mods have gotten called out on how they can be into this subculture when they themselves aren't even British. I've always found that to be an odd put-down, especially considering how world-wide interest in Mods has grown over the years. As a Mexican-American, personally, I've been asked before how I could be into a culture that is neither Mexican nor American in nature. And heck, I don't even live in Mexico, unlike these Mexican nationals!

My response to questions like these is that Mods/Modernists themselves weren't feeding off their own culture to begin with! Heck, they were influenced by bits of European culture (Italian scooters, French films, etc.) and a whole lot of American culture! In fact, as I've gotten older, I've realized I'm getting more into the American influence that originally fed Mod tastes and continues to do so today.

So today, in honor of the 4th of July (Independence Day), let's celebrate some of the American influences on Mod/Modernist culture over the years. (Click the header links for more info!) And then, go throw on The Kinks' Something Else LP to balance it all out!

John Coltrane
Photo source: the Ivy Style blog.
The Chico Hamilton Quintet
Photo source: Night Lights.

Ivy League Style
Photo source: The Ivy League Look.
Photo source: Ivy Style.
Photo source: A Modernist.
Photo source: Phil Are Go!
American Blues and R&B
Muddy Waters
Little Walter
Photo source: All About Jazz.

Levi's 501s, Sta-Prest, and More

Photo source: Where is the Cool?

Photo source: VINMAG.

Soul Music
The Impressions.
Photo source: Doo Wop.
Etta James.
Photo source: Little By Little (Hales).
Steve Wonder and the Funk Brothers.
Photo source: Soul Walking.

Bass Weejuns
Photo source: The Weejun (didn't see that coming, did you?)
American Pop Artists (Yes, British Pop Art did pre-date American, but keep in mind the prevalence of these images in Mod design over the decades.)

Roy Lichtenstein - Sweet Dreams, Baby, 1965
Andy Warhol - Campbell's Soup Can, 1964
Well, there you go. Mod may be a British phenomenon, but where would it have been without all of these great American influences? And, quite frankly, where would I be without all of those great British Mod influences? Not writing this blog, I'll tell you that.

Hope you have a super fun Independence Day today! Me, I'm oddly craving some fish & chips, a pint of Boddingtons, and some British freakbeat music right now. Go figure.


  1. Bloody brilliant, gun'nor! Happy Fourth!!!

  2. Nice one geezer. Did make me chuckle a couple of times!

  3. The blog post I always wish I had written but never had the guts to write. Being a French-Canadian revivalist, I can totally relate.

  4. Well, there you go. Mod may be a British phenomenon, but where would it have been without all of these great American influences? And, quite frankly, where would I be without all of those great British Mod influences? Not writing this blog, I'll tell you that. Antique Design Ear Rings , handmade head piece , handmade jewelry box , Slik Stuff Scarf