All photos of my hand-me-down clothes were taken by my dog Rocky Li, editor of Third Looks.
VINTAGE CAZAL FRAMES X ALEXANDRE HERCHCOVITCH ZEBRA PRINT BUTTON-DOWN X WILBERT L. COOPER SR.'S LEATHER JACKET
Unfortunately, life isn't always fresh. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is out to ass rape you with no Vaseline. I'm going through one of those times right now. Honestly, I'm in an odiferous funk. I've got really big-ass bills and teeny pay checks. This predicament is seriously affecting my ability to purchase goofball shit like exorbitantly priced Junya Watanabe socks or an obscure punk record with cover art by Basquiat. I mean, I could buy that stuff, but then I wouldn't have anywhere to put it because I wouldn't be able to pay rent and my OCD landlord would put me out on the street with his meticulously organized recycling and trash. And what good is a pair of fresh socks when you can't wash your ass right and proper in your own home sweet home?
I have some nerdy friends who will eat cans of Spam for a month just so they can cop a pair of Rick Owens High Tops. And I have some less fashionable, less-laid nerdy friends who happily live in their mamma's crib just so they can afford to buy hundreds of records at estate auctions. This behavior is totally not fresh, it's fanatic. Please don't be one of those dudes. Keep your priorities straight. When your money is tighter than the vagina of a virgin midget in pants two sizes too small, don't buy more stuff, just hit your folks up for some hand-me-downs.
Shit, truth be told, half of my closet and my record collection were inherited from my people. If you don't have fresh folks, get in good with the old timers in your neighborhood. Chances are their real relatives ignore them because old people can be a real drag when their faces are a constant reminder of how awful they'll look when they get old. Maybe when your geezer neighbor snuffs it he'll leave you an awesomely tattered military flight jacket that is still speckled with "gook" blood from 'Nam? Or maybe he'll leave you his leftover dog food, cause that's what a lot of poor old people eat on the low these days…
Anyway, here are some of my all time favorite hand-me-down clothes and records. This selection is geared a little bit more for the fall/winter because the sun is starting to set earlier and I've been losing some hangtime on my balls. Enjoy!
WILBERT L. COOPER SR.'S LEATHER JACKET X GARLAND JEFFREY'S "WILD IN THE STREETS" X THE ROLLING STONES' "TUMBLIN' DICE"
This jacket was my dad's. He's a pretty complex guy: On one side, he's a very angry militant black man. And on the other, he's a retired Cleveland Police Sergeant (although he would probably call himself a "ex-mercenary for the State"). His style falls somewhere between a Leatherman when he's feeling casual and a Nucky Thompson-style gangster when it's time to get dressed up. If you asked him, he would probably say he has no time for fashion. But I know his style icons are cats like James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, and 50 Cent (he loves G-Unit clothes).
This was my dad's first ever leather jacket. He purchased it sometime in the early 70s. Although he owns more than 50 different leather coats, this beat-up thing is his most prized possession. He passed it down to me when I was still in high school. I've been told it saw the insides of every dive bar and strip club in Cleveland back in the day. It certainly looks like it—the lining is worn through, there is a hole at the elbow of the right sleeve and an epaulet missing from the shoulder. But it is still beautiful to me and it reminds me of what a bad ass lineage I have.
My dad, Wilbert L. Cooper Sr., back in the day gripping my first crib—his ballsack.
Me and my old man are really close and a big part of that connection comes from music. Although he digs other genres like hip-hop and blues (as long as they are violent and misogynistic), he's really more of a rock 'n' roll guy. He is the kind of dude who skips all the Paul songs on Beatles records because Paul was a pussy and Lennon "tells it like it is." And of course he worships the Rolling Stones, who are far and away his favorite band. So, I've paired his old jacket with "Tumbin' Dice," from their classic double LP Exile on Mainstreet. I also paired the jacket with Garland Jeffreys's "Wild in the Streets," because this song's vibe sums up how I imagine my dad was at my age—drunk driving, spitting at cops (ironically), and sleeping with lots of strippers. I'm told I'm much more put together at my age than he was, but I definitely have a bit of his wild side. When I put on his biker jacket and either one of these records, it totally comes out.
GAYLE MILLER-COOPER'S POLICE SWEATER & GANG UNIT HAT X JOHN COLTRANE'S MY FAVORITE THINGS
I feel really bad looking back on my youth because, like many little boys, I had my head so far up my dad's ass growing up I didn't realize how fucking radical my mom was. Her life is like a movie starring Angela Bassett or some shit. One of the many groundbreaking things she did was integrate the Cleveland Police Department for women. Before her and her crew of ladies, women weren't allowed to police the streets of Cleveland. She broke down this barrier while raising three children (my older siblings) and fighting her way out of an abusive marriage (not my dad). Despite the grueling, often violent nature of her gig, she is a real lady's lady—make-up, fancy clothes, fur coats, and stuff like that. My appreciation for high fashion definitely comes from her. Unfortunately for this column, I am not a cross-dresser. Otherwise I would show you some of her beautiful dresses. But I do love her a lot, so instead of pulling a RuPaul, I honor her by exhibitng some of her dope unisex police gear that I wear when I'm trying to stunt on the NYPD.
The sweater at the top is standard issue stuff police officers get in Cleveland. Like the Nazis of old, police officers in Cleveland are fitted with some surpisngly chic slim gear. These sweaters fit like something Ervell would make. He'd just throw some silk lining under it and sell it at Opening Ceremony. The hat on the bottom is pure swag. My mom got it when she was part of an elite detective group called the Gang Unit that strictly investigated the horrendously uncoordinated but never the less dangerous buffoons that make up the organized crime in Cleveland.
This my beautiful mom, Gayle Miller-Cooper, pioneering the nun look that Chanel bit off in 2008.
I used to hate my mom's music taste when I was a kid because I thought it was sloooowww and soft and girly. But I've grown up to realize she is super eclectic and had an amazing ear for superlative shit like Coltrane and Luther Vandross. This The Best of Coltrane is one of her records. She has a stellar vinyl collection that includes guys like James Brown, Issac Hayes, and Marvin Gaye. The only problem is that my much older siblings must have used her albums as frisbees back in the late 70s and early 80s, because many of her records just don't play. I've paired her hand-me-down with her favorite song in the world, "My Favorite Things." This song was probably my gateway into the skag-laden soundscapes of jazz. Thanks mom!
WILBERT L. COOPER'S DNA X PRINCE'S "WHEN DOVE'S CRY"
I have a ton more hand-me-downs, but I've probably already written a bit more than you bargained for when you started this post. Even though I'm broke as a joke, I feel way better talking about how awesome my family is and thinking about how one day I'll be awesome and some little tad pole floating in my nut sack will grow into a human and want all the things I used to wear so they can feel awesome too. That's a really nice concept. Hurry up and think the same thoughts.
Yeah, my folks still get it in! Here they are smooching like some young lovebirds.
And while you're thinking about your kid's future freshness, bump this Prince tune below, which is appropriate because it has that line in it about being like your mom or your dad. I like both of my parents, so I'm straight. But if you have to choose, pick the one who doesn't mind giving you some extra cash when your money is tight, so you don't have to rely on eating your neighbor's dog food.
Previously - Old School Ed Hardy Pimpin' Swag