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Biker jackets are not cool
New Holy Decree just dropped
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— Jonah & Erin
One of the many beautiful things about Blackbird Spyplane is how magnanimous, non-judgmental and non-doctrinaire we are. This is not a “Dos and Don’ts”-type sletter. We tend to avoid absolutes and categorical declarations, because we know that when it comes to sauce, few things are tighter than ingeniously and deftly “breaking a rule.”
And yet — you can’t have sunshine without rain. So sometimes we need to pour down some hard-hitting mental precipitation, interrupting what would otherwise be “365 days a year of Spyplane Sunbeams” to risk raining on a few parades …
With a “Spyplane Holy Decree.”
All of our decrees have been correct. Some people might disagree passionately, yet respectfully, because they are adults and at the end of the day we are all Gaia’s naive children bumbling through the void.
Today, if you are keeping it a trillion, you gotta feel us when we decree that…
👎👎👎 Biker jackets are not cool 👎👎👎
We aren’t talking about all biker jackets. We’re talking about the most-iconic and most-torched version, the so-called “Double Rider” joint, above.
If there were a BBSP Modern Jawncylopedia, this jacket would illustrate the concept of “the piece that wears you” better than any other. It’s the try-hard GOAT garment. The cheesiest MF out. The ur-“We Don’t Believe You” jawn. It’s an immutable rule of Contemporary Jawn Physics that, when you put on one of these jackets, it will not incorporate itself into your gestalt and symbiotically beswaggeth you, the way you want a great piece of clothing to do. No, it will sit uncomfortably upon you, awkwardly un-integrated, like a layer of “swaglessness oil” floating grotesquely atop a glass of “coolness water.”
Why? A key part of it is that a leather jacket is already “doing a lot,” statement-wise. As materials go, leather is encoded with a ton of attitude per square meter, right out of the gate. So when you throw big floppy lapels onto that s**t, plus like a half-dozen shiny diagonal zippers and a gaggle of rivets — and then you take a step back, give it a look, and say, “F**k it, I’m not leaving till I see 2 epaulets and a thick-a** belt on this b*tch,” you have left “doing a lot” miles behind you in the rearview mirror of the motorcycle you don’t actually own and are squarely “doing too much.”
And you’re “doing too much” not in some intriguingly over-the-top maximalist weird sense but via the most on-the-nose, clichéd pantomime of “renegade spirit” imaginable! By now, the double rider has become a fully denuded signifier that can only exist as its own cursed image — a “timeless classic” in the same way an Urban Outfitters repro Ramones tee is a “timeless classic,” which is to say, in the most torched & costumey way possible.
Wearing a double rider is similar in vibe to — yet a bit less cool than — wearing a studded trucker cap that says ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. It’s much less cool than that tweet where Kid Rock flipped off authority.
Let’s answer some “Biker Jackets Are Not Cool” FAQs real quick:
Q: Blackbird Spyplane, can’t cool people wear double rider jackets?
A: Of course. But as a rule, cool people will at best look less cool in them than they’d look wearing something else, and in all likelihood they won’t look very cool in them, period.
Look at the collage up top. There’s some cool people up there and they all look bad. Even ultra-high-swag people will struggle with the double rider because the levels of swag required to not look goofy in one are preposterously high: You need to have a kiloton of excess sauce to burn so that you don’t come out in the red. Less than .00001% of the world population possesses that much swag, and that’s being generous.
Q. Blackbird Spyplane, I love the sletter deeply, but I own a double rider and I love it deeply, too, for [personal reasons]. How are you gonna tell me I don’t look cool in it?
A: Friend — respect. Love is the most beautiful force in the universe. It can warp and transcend seemingly immutable facts of physics. That’s what Interstellar was about. More than anything we are a pro-love sletter, so we accept your physics-defying truth and this irreconcilable contradiction.
Q. Can actual bikers look cool in these?
A. Absolutely. We can’t stress enough that Blackbird Spyplane wants NO smoke with actual bikers, i.e. the kinds of grizzled real ones who roll deep and could and would beat me up for talking s**t. Those bikers look great in everything.
Q: Were these ever cool?
A: Not since ~2003 at the latest, when — after a 50-year pop-cultural run that began in earnest with, like, Marlon Brando in The Wild One — they had their last gasp and transitioned into “undead swagless purgatory.”
Julian Casablancas, Karen O (who wore a modified, maximalist one), and André 3000 were some of the last people in history to look remotely cool in biker jackets, 20 years ago. Unlike any of those people, Rei Kawakubo looked great in biker jackets outside of the context of a stage, so extra props to her. Today, however, it is statistically speaking impossible for anyone to look as good in a biker jacket as any of those people did then.
You can quibble and point out that, like, Sky Ferreira looked cool in a double rider 10 years ago. But she’s a once-in-a-generation “sauce supernova” exception that proves the rule. And yes, The Big Homie Spyfriend John Mayer rocked the f**k out of a couple Visvim Strablers in the “Last Train Home” video, but that’s a video explicitly pretending to be from the ‘80s so it proves the rule, too.
Here in 2023?? The ship has sailed, crashed into a rock and sunk to the bottom of a swag abyss.
Certain jawns go in and out of phase and reveal themselves to be “cyclically popping.” Raw denim is on an upswing right now, go figure. But not these: You’re finished, chief. No one wears togas, ruffled collars or spats and rides pennyfarthings anymore, either — that’s just how it goes. Some people insist on deluding themselves that this isn’t the case, but the gears of jawn history churn onward, unheeding, regardless.
This is a decree Erin & I have kept to ourselves until now because, while double riders are extremely not the wave, leather jackets of other, more popping kinds have been having a moment, so there’s a bunch of other very sick pieces out right now…
In the next edition of the sletter we will stop raining on parades, let the “Spy Sun” shine down once more, and round up a bunch of new leather heaters, secondhand options and even a couple “faux-leather” vegan slappers.
That’s right, it’s Leather Jacket Week at Blackbird Spyplane. This Thursday we’ll drop “Positive Part 2” — the full sletter will be a Cla$$ified Subscriber Exclusive, so make sure you’re behind the recon curtain.
P🏍️E🏍️A🏍️C🏍️E till then — Jonah & Erin
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The Blackbird Spymall, full of rare gems, is here.
Our Profound Essays, Mindsets and “Unbeatably Spicy Takes” are all here.
The Master Jawn Index, featuring earth’s best Spyplane-approved things, is here.