“Live by chance, love by choice, kill by profession”
Where Is The Cool? has a remarkably straightforward premise: everything in it is cool, so it’s a magazine-sized attempt to answer that question. The first issue found the cool in unexpected places — there were pages devoted to pigeon racing, and an obscure cookery book called ‘French Tarts’.
In this fourth issue, things have taken a more obviously commercial turn. Adidas tracksuits are featured, as are designer high heels. Interestingly, the first six pages of the magazine are devoted to a series of spoof advertisements: Bruce Lee models for Lee jeans; Alf the bear models for ‘Alf Lauren’. Part of Where Is The Cool’s revenue comes from brand partnerships, and the fake ads at the front seem to be acknowledging a certain level of discomfort with that fact — brand partnerships aren’t that cool.
Thankfully, there’s still plenty in here you can’t buy. One spread is devoted to the “punchline poetry” of old Vietnam zippos. Accompanied by a picture of a rusted silver lighter, engraved with the lines: “Live by chance/ love by choice/ kill by profession” — the text tells the story of how traumatised soldiers would use their lighters to scrawl out “all the bitterness a teenager sent to the chop shop would feel”. Another excellent entry is all about the iconic race-car driver Senna’s passion for flying tiny remote-controlled aeroplanes.
What I like about Where Is The Cool is that every issue feels oddly timeless. Photographs are slightly smudged, and dreamy. You would never know we were in the middle of a pandemic by looking at these pages. You wouldn’t even really be able to tell what decade we’re in. It’s a relief.