Archive for February, 2009

Wait ‘Til The Midnight Hour

February 28, 2009


Tick

For some reason I find it hard to write anything that seems at all interesting about the epic game of skate going on at that undisclosed Los Angeles location, which is alright I guess, seeing’s how there’s a 59-page topic a-churning over at the Slap message boards, untold billions of postings on it at the Berric’s cheap China-produced Slap board equivalent, and oh yeah, a feature-length feature in the Wall Street Journal that’s rather on point with regard to the spirit of the thing, explaining the general gist to the Todd Palins and Mary Cheneys of the world, while making an end run around the old gray lady for the skateboard mass media crown (sorry, Bonnier Corp). There’s a video too, though it’s clear the narrator is biased toward the goofy footer…

Probably the best part, aside from any reference to Mike Mo as “Mr. Capaldi”:*

Talent is what sets the Berrics’ games apart. No one trick they try is awe-inspiring, but the contestants are the world’s best. They possess a humbling command of the basics, ripping through dozens of tricks and landing most in one try. It’s like going to the practice tee at the Masters and seeing Tiger Woods place golf balls wherever he pleases. (In skateboarding, as in golf, sometimes it’s more impressive watching a professional practice than compete.)

That’s pretty much it right? We rush (or shuffle bleary-eyed, stinking and off kilter, depending on your own personal mileage) to our computers twice per weekend to watch grown men flip skateboards about on a concrete block, shouting at themselves and one another and sometimes a siren blares. Yes, my dudes, these are the salad days. Before it’s over and the second round is inevitably scheduled, musings on some of the matches that have come before:

Koston v. Donovan Strain
Not even a laser flip could save a very nervous-looking Butters in this slop-filled and ultimately anticlimatic match-up. I almost felt bad for the kid, until I considered how annoyed I probably would’ve felt if Donovan ran the table on a trick cribbed from the credits of a 10-year-old TWS video. Then again, maybe it would’ve been awesome.

Chico v. Mike Mo Capaldi
I wouldn’t have thought that this heavily imbalanced round would be the one to see Mike Mo unsheath the nollie kickflip 360, but I’m assuming this is one of the tricks that he’ll ride to the final round and beyond, if Jehovah wills it. The catch on the switch 360 flip is also notable.

PJ Ladd vs. Andrew Reynolds
A blistering, toe-to-toe, knock-down-drag-out cliche/cliche/cliche battle in which a very staid Reynolds knew what he was up against, but refused to go gently. I think he knew what time it was when the switch backside kickflip was offered, but a valiant effort all the same, bruh.

Steve Berra vs. Marc Johnson
Probably my favorite one so far.

Erik Ellington v. Jimmy Cao
The awesome shockingness of Ellington’s backside bigger spin eased the pain of seeing my Jimmy Cao pick swirl down the drain like so many loose turds. Eh, so be it.

Mike Carroll v. Mike Mo
I think Carroll was genuinely bummed about losing this, although, he maybe saw it coming.

Koston vs. PJ Ladd
For sure, the best battle yet, and one of the few where I felt like a retard when it was over and I found myself hunched all over the computer with my fists balled up, sweaty, the cat bewildered as to what the fuck I was on about. I picked PJ of course, but when Eric Koston broke out all those goddam pressure flips and shit, well, I just about had to go and have a glass of warm milk and take a walk around the block. Was it a cheap shot to take him out on the hardflip? Maybe…

This weekend:
If I can just suck my own dick for a minute here, I’ve had Mike Mo vs. PJ Ladd for the final match since the start, so yeah. I think Mike Mo’s gonna win. $10,000 on the line (?) and he’s got the spark.

*So is “Mo” a nickname or what?

Midwinter Video Roundup: Cle

February 25, 2009


An evening with Cliche

There is a clip in this new Cliche video “Cle,” where bespectacled company honcho Jeremie Daclin ambles into a cafe, sets aside his novelty cruising skateboard and orders a beer, all of which seems so terribly European to me. Like the way he snuggles up to the counter, oddly shakes hands with the sideburned bartender and bustles off to toast the lounge act in the next room. None of this has much to do with the skating or anything else really, aside from the overall mellow cabaret vibe and clean/no frills editing job, which is kind of a nice change of pace after three solid weeks of Mind Fielding.

JB Gillet catches the sensation too in a lengthy opening street ramble punctuated by a smith grind, all of which is overseen by Jesus and Daniel’s Lakai All-Star Shoe Band, strumming out the softly Spanish soundtrack to some switch noseblunt sliding and lazy-foot fakie bigspin flips. Still skatin’ those French benches, JB exchanges a lot of the ledge-combo fireworks for more classical Pier 7 fare (switch 180 nosegrind pop-out) before the handoff to Lucas Puig, who seconds Kalis’ nomination for the fakie 360 flip/switch 360 flip as the go-to two-trick line* for stair spots in early 2009. Amidst a bunch of hard tricks Puig resuscitates that ledge-to-bank spot from the Flip video with a particularly hot move, but as the part went on the more I began to think his style/execution probably peaked back in “Bon Apetit,” which I guess I kind of started seeing in the Lakai video. Something to do with his knees maybe. There is however a switch frontside heelflip over a road gap here that’s super good.

The badass Basque Javier Mendizabal looks the same as he ever did though, which is, a rare treat to watch on transition stuff or springing out of wallies or whatever it may be. There really is not enough footage of this dude, ever, and the street shit in this video is some of the best he’s done (see: switch backside noseblunts). Elsewhere Ricardo Fonseca has severed his ties with the ponytail and I’m wondering if it’s too late for Cale Nuske to avoid being one of the great coulda-been stories in skating at this point, despite being back on his flip-to-rail bullshit in a serious manner, hardflipping and nollie heelflipping into backside lipslides and whatnot. And human jack-in-the-box Joey Brezinski has another part full of gleefully flippant Joey Brezinski tricks, melding switch kickflips, manuals, backwards baseball caps and Barack ears. My personal favorite is the frontside noseslide 270 heelflip out, which would have been the most Joey Brezinski trick of all if it incorporated a nose manual down the bank.

The thing that bogs this mostly breezy video down isn’t the ams, although newcomer Flo Mirtan brings some of the most inconsequential tricks this side of “Forecast” (backside smith grind off the drop = good though); Charles Collette has improved on the “Kids in E-France-ica” thing and does real gnarly jumps into banks set to passion drumming, also, crazy gap to backside lipslides. What bugs me is all the interminable tour video footage that pads probably like 15 minutes onto this flick, allowing me to once again climb aboard my “too long” high-horse. But why Cliche insists on watering down their videos this way (see also “Bon Apetit”) is totally beyond me, maybe it’s their style. (Or French Fred’s, or “Junior’s”.) I can see a park section, you know. But they’ll throw in all kinds of street footage in there too – JJ Rousseau could have had a full section in BA with all the stuff from Japan. It’s fine that the Clicheiers are unbound to the standard skate video format, and the Wheel of Fortune was fun and whimsical, but by the third song…

Anyway, these transgressions are mostly washed away by the bonecrushingness of Australian headbanger Andrew Brophy and his strength ollies. Watching this part I found myself mentally warp-whistled away to Super Mario 3, World 4, where everything’s larger and one’s sense of scale is contorted. He does big shit on big shit, which sort of negates the size of the ledge or gap or green pipe, or whatever he happens to be skating – the forever blunt at three-up-three-down is a case in point. At the end of his part he gets his serious P-wing on with a serious ollie-after-ollie series that apparently got him over to pro status, but remember, when faced with the hammer-throwing Bowser you must, as all Australians know, go under.

*If you can call two tricks a line. Which I guess you probably can

Superpowers Enable Joey Brezinski to Blend In with Machinery

February 24, 2009

Joey Brezinski’s Transworld interview a couple months ago was entertaining for a variety of reasons, among them his challenges with the French language, designing video game characters based on SAD, and how he uses EA Skate to brainstorm his Rube Goldberg-esque trick combinations:

A lot of my tricks really do come out of that game. A lot of tricks take like five days after I do it for 30 minutes on the couch. In a way that game is mental training for physical training.

They also poke fun at him for basically not being able to come up with any single-frame photo material, which goes some way toward explaining the lame Colin McKay cover. But squinting and furrowing my brow at the sequence captions got me thinking about how Joey Brezinski on a trick-by-trick basis regularly executes some of the longest-named maneuvers currently running. Spoiler alert, here’s some of the more convoluted items from his excellent section in the new Cliche video “Cle” which we may discuss in further detail some day soon.*

-Fakie lipslide to nose manual to nollie backside bigspin (nine words, 57 characters)
-Switch nose manual to fakie nosegrind shove-it out (eight words, 51 characters)
-Kickflip nose manual nollie backside tailslide (seven words, 50 characters)
-Frontside 180 switch manual body varial manual 180 out (nine words, 54 characters)
-Frontside boardslide pop-up to fakie manual revert backside 180 out (10 words, 67 characters)
-Half-cab kickflip manual backside tailslide backside kickflip out (eight words, 65 characters)
-Half-cab frontside noseslide backside 270 manual revert (seven words, 55 characters)
-Nose manual nollie backside bigspin fakie manual fakie pop out (ten words, 62 characters)

Obviously this is the one and true benchmark by which we must measure his part in the upcoming Transworld video this summer. I think he’s got at least a 15-word trick in him, provided he is able to evade the MongoCorp assassins in San Vanelona or whatever it’s called.

*Note, I counted the spaces as characters because I’m not a crazy word monster who likes his words all mushed together in a big mush.

Don’t Cry For Me Australia

February 23, 2009

Big Daddy Kane famously ruined his own rap career by appearing nude in Madonna’s novel “Sex” back in the early 1990s, a cautionary tale that no doubt weighs upon Renton Millar’s Aussie mind when he brazenly dangles his front foot above the coping. This photo looks so fun. (From the March TWS.)

Spoiler Alert

February 20, 2009

Let me preface this by noting that Dyrdek’s pop-shove it frontside k-grind across that long bench in the Alien video was very cool.

Street Dreams (2009)
This story is based where the skateboard culture is the most foreign, the Midwest. Derrick Cabrera, like all skaters, has a dream of being sponsored and one day going pro. He is an up and coming skater with all the talent but has the world against him. Parents, friends and schoolmates can’t understand how Derrick has so much passion for something that has no future in their eyes. His crew of friends that are skaters is the only place he is truly accepted. But, as he gets better and better, the skater he looked up to the most becomes his worst enemy. In the sport of skateboarding a single trick that has never been done or conceived can bring you stardom in an instant. Derrick has that trick, if only he can make it. As he attempts to make this trick he is faced with skateproofing, a jealous friend and cops who have it in for him. Derrick finally gets arrested for skating on private property. After that his parents lay down the law and try to force him to quit skateboarding. Adding insult to injury, his girlfriend forces an ultimatum on him as well: “The skateboard or life with her.” At that point, Derrick gives up everything and runs away with his friends to the Tampa Am contest in Florida. This is a weekend that can turn an unknown skateboarder into a future star. He sees it as his only shot to make it in skateboarding. Derrick’s rivalry comes to a head in Florida when his crew of friends abandons him because of his jealous mentor. A top amateur’s sister rescues Derrick by giving him a place to stay and convincing him to believe in himself. With all the world of skateboarding watching, Derrick finally makes the trick that shocks the entire skate world and instantly thrusts him into the spotlight. His dream of being sponsored has come true. Written by Rob Dyrdek.

How many barrels do you think he jumps?

The Last Post About “Mind Field” For A While, No But Seriously

February 19, 2009


Seriously though (pic via Slap)

With the Alien Workshop video pretty much a total success on all fronts* it’s kind of ironic, possibly in an Alanis Morissette actually-not-really-ironic-but-just-shitty sort of a way, that “Mind Field” may be the last gasp of the full-length skate video as a statement-of-purpose document, or if you like, a tool to separate the nourishing wheat from the boring chaff company-wise. Skate videos seem to be streaming their way away from the five-years-in-the-making blockbuster and toward the free/internet promo: DNA and Black Box both have indicated that they’re probably going to pursue more “Regal Road/Kalis in Mono” and Stallion/Eldridge promo-type releases as Youtube wreaks its convenient havoc upon video profitability, which would imply annual videos comprised of parts from whoever’s cracking at the time and a gradual dribbling out of tricks from the vets, for better or for worse.

“Mind Field” is really great; it surpassed my expectations, and though it’s not perfect (alas, no skate vids really is) the depth of the thing and the slow-burn factor that DNA videos tend to have make it a stong candidate for classic status. So a little more random bullshit on this video, then I’m done:

-I’m sort of surprised at the complaints in the comments here and elsewhere regarding the degree of artsy-fartsiness at play, until I remember that “Memory Screen” came out what, 18 years ago. (For what it’s worth I think the art factor runs a little bit closer to that production than “Photosynthesis,” which probably has something to do with the latter video’s shorter runtime.) Right, well, the Segway thing kind of dragged on. But generally it was exactly what I was looking for: you know, grainy seagulls, weird satellite antennas, bizarre paper mache creatures, time lapse melting clouds, all that good shit. Frozen in Carbonite raised the point that a lot of this material would be derided as painfully cliche in another video, which is true, but also kind of the point – I mean, didn’t Alien basically invent this stuff, at least as far as skateboard videos go?

-As far as equating something like that housefly patiently rubbing its hands together ahead of Heath Kirchart’s section to the ad nauseum run/throw board down/roll away clips in “Fully Flared,” I’m not seeing it at all – it’s like an Andy Jenkins board versus a Plan B logo graphic. And I’ll sign on for Dinosaur Jr overkill in lieu of Band of Horses overkill.

-I didn’t post about Dylan Rieder, a skater I still feel kind of conflicted about, but I’ve come to think of his section as the sleeper part of this video – he gets over a little bit too easy in some respects but he’s got a natural way with his tricks with super good execution, and even if it wasn’t quite as good as his “Time to Shine” part I still think that if it were padded with some of the footage from the very generous “B-roll” extras it could have closed out the video. Well, maybe if Heath and AVE got sick. But still: that hair. The Axl Rose hat. Those shoes, those pants. He does win grime points for popping over that crack in the bank-to-bank ollie manual, because I’m sure Jake Burton could’ve sprung for some Bondo. I kind of feel like Greg Hunt’s TWS video editing resume is front and center in this section, like a couple of others, but whatever.

-In all the homage/reference talk, nobody mentioned AVE’s ollie ode to the Nandez?

-Does anybody have a link to Kalis’s alleged custom Jeru song? Platinum Seagulls, we’re looking at you…

-Back to the B-roll, Alien isn’t the first to throw out Youtube remix raw meat like that, but with all that footage plus the “Kalis in Mono” part sans Stones this could turn out to be a pretty brilliant web 3.0 style marketing effort. (Are we up to 3.0 yet? 4.0?)

*With the exception of about three parts, I’d say

The Grimness and Grace of Heath Kirchart

February 16, 2009


Superbeast

Somehow, though a combination of reticence, grouchiness and no small amount of punishing gnarlitude, former crack cocaine purchaser and sometime bikini contest judge Heath Kirchart has over the years perfected the quality/quantity cocktail of skateboarding career moves that most never get right and others probably shouldn’t even bother with, to the degree that few dudes’ video parts are as hotly anticipated as the greasy-haired fellow who these days motors across the country decked out in somebody else’s military medals. It’s a beautiful thing, that such a willfully antisocial weirdo can surface once every few years, command our full attention, and yes, cement his place in the history books by earning the title of TWS’s Best All-Around Skater.

In terms of what he films Heath Kirchart generally isn’t reaching for the high-hanging tech/gnar fruits plucked by the likes of Chris Cole and Eric Koston, and he’s not chasing the biggest/highest/farthest challenges for bonus points either really. And it’s not as though he pulls from a bottomless bag of tricks either (shoutout to the bluntslide and backside flip). But there’s a kind of contemptuous recklessness in the way he skates, heaving himself onto a handrail or slowly twirling ten feet out of some skatepark bowl. And intensity. Oodles and oodles of piping hot intensity.

This sort of contemptuous nonchalance fuels Heath Kirchart’s thundering bloodbath of a bookend to “Mind Field” on a suitably dour Morrissey note as we lap up the usual tropes (backside noseblunt, switch kickflip, frontside noseslide, frontside tailslide) and some newer ones (switch heelflip, backside lipslide bigspin, kickflip nosegrind, the JT Aultz/ollie over to noseblunt slide); in the meantime we’re treated to a hyperventilating owl and an effort to loosen up the collar of the shoelace belt look for summer ’09. It’s not a party exactly – it seems like it never really is with this dude, even when him and Jeremy Klein were terrorizing shrubberies over a decade ago – but when he gets his inner whipsaw or whatever revved up there aren’t many who shove-it out over gaps or bomb frontside boardslides down hubbas or eat shit better than Heath Kirchart really. And it was nice to see the TSM covers, years old though they may be.

Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba

February 13, 2009


What happened to that boy

As Sir Elton John famously sang through the mouth of an orphaned cartoon lion, the circle of life is evident in all things, even or perhaps especially the Alien Workshop skate video. New careers are launched, even as others film a handful of low-impact ledge lines on their way toward that inevitable twilight. We could jawbone about professional obligations and numerically stack pro model shoes against tricks in the video, but that won’t get us any further than a Brian Wenning alphabet ledge trick (to keep it vintage DNA for ya’ll) so let’s focus on some of the “Mind Field” veterans who, ahem, showed up for work.

In Jason Dill of course we have somebody who’s been in the skateboarding business for about two-thirds of his life and has actively given a shit about his contribution to the whole ball of wax for at least half that time, if not longer, little shit status notwithstanding. He cares to the point of calling people out on shit that the rest of us would probably let slide, or at least silently simmer until some drunken industry function spills onto a post-bartime sidewalk; he seems to have a very definite idea of what skateboarding can be and puts no small amount of consideration into what he does, how he does it and when. Whether it’s lifestyle factors or some new less-is-more inclination (which I can get down with to some extent) Jason Dill’s video parts and coverage in general have gotten more spare in the last few years, putting whatever tricks he has into sharper relief – I think I like his “Mind Field” part better than his shit in the DVS video, if nothing else because there a noticeable absence of Cass McCombs droning, but also due to the fact that he seems like he was going for it a little more on this one. Clarity of vision, or the whole trying-harder-for-the-Alien-dudes thing. Lots of feeble grinds in uncomfortable places, updating the Photo-era 180 to 5-0 sequences to contemporary abrupt transition spots* and generally weirding up Pappalardo’s non-Flare minimalism. I want to believe there’s some deeper symbolism behind letting the phone float away at the end of the section. Something to do with Chris Carter taping him, right? Or maybe he lost his phone?

For Josh Kalis it seems simpler – he’s laid out his philosophy of professional-grade skating several times, likening it to a ladder, or staircase to heaven, or, god help us, a 12-step program. First you get the flow… then you get the pro board… then you get the women. Or, shoe deal. Pro model shoe. Video game. Reality show (or not). Like that. Learn new tricks along the way, take the tricks you know to different spots, do them faster. Not real complex. At this late stage in the game Kalis probably could get over cycling through tricks from parts that Kids Today haven’t even seen (kickflip noseblunt/411 Alien industry section, frontside flip nosegrind/411, switch backside noseblunt/”Sixth Sense”) peppered with the usual 360 flips, switch backside tailslides and so on, but darn it if he doesn’t keep on trying. He’s been talking up the possibilities of the bigspin for years but really pushes it in “Mind Field,” with fairly dazzling results, and when he turns up the heat after Marquise Henry’s cameo the general badassness of the entire affair makes it easier to overlook how some of his tricks don’t flip as fast as they once did, and how the classic eagle swoop form is missing more often than not. But with all the bigspin tricks, the taller-than-a-building switch backside flip, the 360 flip off the Barcelona bump, this might be the best Kalis part of the white cap era. And he’ll have more of course.

Anthony Van Engelen, I have no clue whether he thinks in these terms or not – you want to think his skating is totally visceral and from the gut, the way it translates on video, an idea (or not) and then a full-speed charge. But who knows. He does seem to have gone through some shit during his years in the wilderness, so maybe he’s been plotting, but his new voracious appetite for big rails and off-the-wall tricks (I’m thinking like the fakie f/s 50-50, and the spin-around ledge stuff) kind of seems like he’s shooting first and asking questions later when it comes to mapping this stuff out. I’m not sure if this time around quite matches the platinum standard AVE set with his blazing debut in “Photosynthesis” or the refined and elevated “DC Video” part, time will be the judge I guess, but it’s awesome to see him so hungry again. Depending on the day, this is one of my favorite three parts in the video. That fuckin’ switch frontside noseslide. Ollies straight onto rails = the new nosegrind pop-outs.

*I enjoy the phrase “abrupt transition” and plan to use it often – thanks Deer Man of Dark Woods

In Utero

February 11, 2009

“Mind Field” is a big meal. Beginning with the ams…

Grant Taylor is a hard one to pin down: all-terrainer of the new school, fresh-faced fifth-grader features with an affinity for graffiti(?), ramps and fits of grouchiness that could coax a cracked-tooth smile upon the craggiest faces of slash dogs. He lives in a bowl and reportedly spearheaded the construction of his own foundation spot, at the ripe age of however old he is (my guess, not very). Following the brief trick-list rundown in the Nike video and assorted cement park schralpage sprinkled throughout the Indy 30-year tour thing, “Mind Field” finds Grant Taylor sharpening his street teeth on some standard little-kid thrill chasing (big rails, big jumps) and other shit of a way different order: the half-cab backside smith*, the door bash and so on. Personally I would’ve liked to see more transition out of the kid, because I like that one thing he does with his arm when he lands, but it’s going to be interesting to watch where he takes things from here – I get the feeling he’s already foregone a probably assured career milking his ingrained Penny style on easy ledge/natural transition stuff. More to come, I guess.

Tyler Bledsoe I knew first as a midget in baggy pants who wore glasses and made periodic appearances in complimentary DNA calendars; we now know him as an upstart Oregonian with an affinity for headgear of multiple types, still-loose clothing and the ability to impress Rick Howard with frontside bluntslide variations across the USA. Hat wearin’ Tyler, as he is known to some**, practices soft-focus landings and Sean Malto dismounts and brings probably the greatest level of Lakai ledge flare to the Alien production; at times it’s like the honchos in Ohio opted to trade in their option on Torey Pudwill in favor of the next-gen edition with the kinks worked out. Bledsoe doesn’t have the off-kilter tech mindbender nature that Pudwill employs, but you’re less likely to fear for his pelvis when he’s bigspinning out of some tailslide six or seven feet off the ground. So maybe it was an insurance liability issue. Which would explain all the hats, to cover the glasses strap.

Jake Johnson we have waxed on, and waxed off, in this space previously… I’ll keep this brief: several viewings in, his section remains my favorite in “Mind Field” and I regularly sit up straighter on the couch when those kaleidoscopic twinkles fade in after Omar’s ovation. Johnson builds on the ambidextrous/low-tech approach taken in the Chapman video a year ago, with the limber flips and skyscraper rails, but he looks a lot more fluid now – on some kind of Nate Broussard puffy cloud even when he’s riding away from those colossal wallrides, or that hairball of a fakie heelflip.

*Also performed about eight or nine years ago by your boy, Bobby D
**some who read this blog post, anyway

Eleven Initial Thoughts on the Alien Video

February 9, 2009


via Epicly Laterd

-Jake Johnson had the best part.
-AVE got his handrail mojo back, in a major cot damn way (b/s nosegrind)
-for guys with their own, private skateparks, you’d think they could get more footage
-Kalis taking the bigspin-to-ledge switch made me want to, you know, something
-a handful of intentional-or-not homage/tributes to past DNA productions, among them Jake Johnson’s regular-footed Lenny Kirk, the wind-ups, Mikey Taylor’s nollie f/s noseslide to fakie and Heath Kirchart’s kickflip-as-pretelegraphed ender (sort of)
-Jason Dill’s abiding love for the indie-rock Phish is rather endearing
-Omar Salazar’s Stallone grind brought the house down
-Heath Kirchart, fuck, but err what happened to the all-white part?
-Mikey Taylor still rides for the long frontside 50-50
-A nice effect: somebody breaking a glass concurrent with Tyler Bledsoe touching down a bigspins
-A suitable amount of razzmatazz and middle-America flotsam.

Who out there thinks they can make a better video this year?


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