Archive for May, 2009

Kill Yo Self

May 31, 2009


Third time’s the charge

If the rumors are true then I guess this weekend may go down as skateboarding’s parting barrage at SF’s Wallenberg Alternative High School, as officials stand poised to expand the Bulldogs’ kennels down the hallowed four-step, and dash the dreams of gap-minded amateur skateboarders (and razor scooterers, for what it’s worth). Trailblazers Gonz, Bucchieri, Gerwer and Manfre have secured spots in whatever history books keep track of this stuff, and in the end Chris Cole will probably be remembered as the big boss of the Berg, what with his tre-flip vengeance tale and the nonchalance with which he put down the big tricks yesterday. I was kind of shocked he didn’t bring out the switch frontside heelflip, but with all the nonsense exploding down the steps and out of Phelps’ megaphone, probably I would’ve sat down after one switch frontside flip trick too.

But Chris Cole’s quick-draw makes aside, the winner of this weekend’s big-jump hoedown was for sure skateboarding’s nappy boy, the schnozzed-out seventh son of a seventh son* known as Lizard “Mike Plumb” King. Not so much because he landed more tricks than anybody, which he did, but because he spent his 15 or so minutes in the SF air executing some grade-A dork material… and while it would probably be a stretch to hold up a world record backside 180 one-footer as high-level commentary on the whole get-tricks-or-die-trying affair, it added an amazing unpredictable gonzo element to an event so packed with hungry strivers and messageboard mavens checking off boxes on “most likely to be landed” spreadsheets.

Now, a lot of people find the slobbering pursuit of NBD’s that this type of contest produces rather gauche for understandable reasons, and Jake Phelps has taken plenty of heat in the last 24 hours for his usual self-aggrandizing antics, as well as the way he seemed to relish axing dudes and dashing poor Neil Smith’s nollie heelflip hopes. But fair’s fair and hand it to Thrasher for moving the best-trick format forward, and in the process creating one of the few contests that actual people who ride skateboards care about… another being the Berrics game of skate, which you could say has improved upon the don’t-fall-off-your-board-for-60-seconds format. Whereas the Berrics’ warehouse floor democratizes professional skateboarding competitions, Phelps & Co. have successfully set up camp on the other end of the spectrum with shit like the Wallenberg contests, Slaughter at the Opera and so on, don’t-try-this-at-home affairs where, yeah, there’s money, but a shot at a piece of history too.

There’s an argument that packing 11 groundbreaking tricks into one banner-splashed, frenetic afternoon cheapens what it is to do a trick down the Wallenberg stairs, which I can see, but then I think about the legendary Hubba Hideout. In its nth liberation you had dudes flying out to camp there twenty-four hours a day, and yeah it was cool to see Carroll schralp it on the cover of TSM for all the obvious reasons, but that came amid a million web clips, and even legitimately gnarly stuff like Matt Miller’s nollie noseblunt were eventually relegated to the last 60 seconds in that summer’s TWS vid. So, Wallenbergers, get it if you can, while it’s there, make it count, etc etc.

And if there was a best trick yesterday, I think Lindsey Robertson did it. Wow.

*it’s a Utah joke

The Spirit of Competition

May 29, 2009


“show you how to hustle”

When you watch this video of Dennis Busenitz at the Adidas Skateboard Clash contest in Berlin and you see:
-the quick set-up switch backside 50-50 (0:30)
-the hip ollie, frontside ollie on the vert wall (1:20)
-smith grind up the little rail/backside lipslide on the slant box/etc line (2:09)
-backside 50-50 up the hubba (3:00), and
-the surprise finishing move (3:30)

Do you:
A. Wonder who else might have possibly won this contest?
B. Already know it was aside-from-Stevie-Ray-Vaughn-tattoo-looks-and-skates-like-he-did-when-he-was-16 Bastien Salabanzi?
C. Ponder how Dennis Busenitz has banked street cred and power-speed skating to such an extent that he has become revered alongside skate message board dieties Bobby Puleo, Julien Stranger and Gino Iannucci?
D. Wonder what Jereme Rogers was doing at the time?

If you said “D” the answer is: Jereme went grocery shopping wit Spotey’s grandma (“I got so much for that I had to play reverse jenga an arrange the food”) and took marijuana with Niki Breez, an in-house producer for PMP productions and a forestry expert of some description.

An Autumn With Ace & Gary

May 26, 2009

“Kevin” Spanky “Long” takes a lotta heat in certain circles for looking like a girl, wearing girls’ trousers, having girly hair, his unabashed hipsterism, and occasionally skating like a girl. The internet’s great unwashed can and will debate these points, but to my mind, there is little debate as to the classic status of this f/s air, just reaching cruising altitude above the rim of Brooklyn’s Autumn Bowl. Photo is from a striking B&W set in the Brandon Westgate “Skateboarder,” snapped by Jonathan Mehring, and for those of you who like to make your ambiguity a double, the Spanky pic butts up against a shot of Dylan Rieder backside crailing with reckless, untamed abandon. Elsewhere there’s a really sick Joey Pepper lip trick sequence that I can’t think up any dumb jokes about.

Eli, It’s Real Velour… Let Yourself Go

May 25, 2009


Sweat/Suit

Not to be overlooked when nitpicking Paul Rodriguez’s video productions (this also goes for Jereme Rogers’ generally superior “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) is these dudes’ genuine effort to nurture the alleged next generation of possible pro-level kids, even if that effort does amount to basically attaching their name to some already-in-progress film project. Besides putting people on to your Mike Moes and Daryl Angels and so on, these videos allow semi-established types a chance to re-frame their whole deal and possibly help bust out of the dreaded man-am ranks, types such as one-time World warrior Jason Wakuzawa and former velour tracksuit proponent Eli Reed.

Reed along with Pudwill had one of the hotter sections in the JR vid, his relocation to Southern California apparently helping him develop oodles of crazy switchstance tricks that I personally had no idea he could do (or anybody else either when it came to the Flushing Meadows switch ollie). But, it looks like that part may be a warmup to still yet further bonkers shit in Zoo York’s “State of Mind” video, if Eli Reed’s entry in the Berrics’ venerable “Bangin” series last week is to be believed. All manner of crazy tricks in there — he seems to have learned a bunch of transition stuff in addition to taking some of his older moves, turning them around and doing them down hubbas — and I sorta dig the fact that his switch stuff looks switch, if that makes sense. Meanwhile my personal jury is still out on whether the navy Dickies top the sweat suit.

Burden of Proof

May 23, 2009


You know, they could’ve called this video “The Storm II”

I have this one theory that little kids who come out of nowhere with legitimately amazing skateboard skills are more prone to suffer haterism because, to some observers, they cheapen what it is to have that level of control and power over their board — I’m thinking here of Danny Way, Willy Santos, Bastien Salabanzi, Paul Rodriguez, there’s probably lots of examples. There’s something about seeing a veteran like Eric Koston or Heath Kirchart backside noseblunt a handrail when nobody’s ever done it before, but when four months later some shortcakes am from a flyovoer state comes along and does it, some of the gravitas is sapped from the situation, for better or worse.

That’s not so much the issue with “Proof,” the heir apparent to the Paul Rodriguez-helmed “Forecast” video from a few years back that introduced the world to Ronson Lambert, Nick McLouth and Mike “Boss Stooge” Capaldi. Mostly it’s just kinda boring. Half-there editing concepts and some pretty abysmal music that continues the Ty Evans tradition of lifting from whatever was on Pitchfork’s BNM a year ago don’t help, but mostly it’s the skating, where a lot super-hard tricks come off all bland and forgettable, at least for me. I’m sure agent-to-the-energy drink stars, ex-snowboard pro and “Proof” executive producer Circe Wallace disagrees, but then again, I’m a windbag blogger with numerous brain problems.

Nate Principato gets set up for the Mike Mo spot and fittingly does a lot of the same sort of tricks, i.e. hardflips, switch heelflips, et cetera, sometimes looking like somebody stuck Chris Cole’s head on a Sk8Mafia body. He gives the new edition of the Med Choice gap a workout and has some good tricks, like a different-looking ‘forward flip’ and a switch frontside 360, but it was tough to get into this part. Same with the little kid one-two punch of Stevie Perez and Gatorade phenom Chaz Ortiz, taking his Dew Tour skills to the streets with predictable results, and a last trick that may have Gailea Momolu contemplating a summer contest circuit comeback.

Pivot-happy German S.K.A.T.E. threat Alex Mizurov pops up in the montage, perpetuating the European white-hat stereotype, alongside Theotis Beasely, Moose and the amazing Marquis Preston who I really wish would’ve had a part in this. Also magic-footed half-pint Mark Sucio, bizarrely tech and one of the few little kids I’d actually like to see more of in this or any video.

“Proof” picks up with Josh Grossguth, who loves manuals, sags his pants and has a kind of an unshowered weed-dealer style; this part made me want to do crooked grinds, which is something, and it leads into Keelan Dadd, who does great DGK tricks like frontside flip nosegrind reverts and great non-DGK tricks like 50-50in’ this rail to a big drop. Awesome parts also from Sammy Baptista and Darrell Stanton as well, which depressed me for reasons entirely separate from the skating–Baptisa rips with a Venture “Awake” shirt on and continues to make the case for his ultimate goofy-ness whereas Stanton rifles through nolle frontside noseslides and backside noseblunts that could’ve come out of “Free Your Mind.” No, mostly I got bummed thinking of how these dudes are the ‘old dudes’ in this video.

My own fast-approaching senility aside, right after Terell Robinson kickflip lipslides a big rail to an amazingly wimpy song that Jamie Thomas never would’ve approved, Torey Pudwill shares another MGMT-powered part with Justin Schulte and another dude. With all the techery and poofy haircuts it’s kind of hard to tell who’s who at certain times, but aside from a backside tailslide bigspin across that long kinked ledge, Pudwill brings most of the highlights: tall b/s tail on the winder ledge, high jump to backside smith grind, feeble kickflip out, then looking to knock MJ out the box with a closer trick that rivals some of Joey Brezinski’s longest-named moves. That ledge has to be caked with at least an inch of wax and urethane at this point.

Hey, Leo Romero Also Is Back On His Bullshit

May 20, 2009


Shoot the gun

So this RVCA* promo: basically it’s what you would expect, a load of longhairs in tight pants and red shoes, banks, jangly guitars, 5-0s and so on. It’s kind of less interesting to me than the company itself, as I’ve seen honest-to-god rappers wearing RVCA hats (I think in the XXL with Rawss on the cover) which made me wonder if RVCA is maybe far deeper in terms of, you know, cultural reach than I ever suspected, or perhaps they’re just the post-Vans revival DC except a clothing company. Which probably makes zero sense at all. Regardless Nestor Judkins has some really great tricks here, if that’s him hopping up on the backside lipslide and jumping the handrail into the bank, but otherwise this is all kind of by-the-numbers.

That is til 3 minutes in when the stage clears for Leo Romero to unleash the great Baker footage firehose, or at least the stuff that’s not worth saving for the Emerica vid, logo boards be damned. The fakie frontside blunt** opener was a good one I thought, back to the “That’s Life” part where he’d occasionally throw in random difficult ledge tricks in between gliding down gaps. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen any footage in a while but in this promo Leo Romero seems like he’s skating faster and angrier and at times (such as the humpty-hump to backside 180 and the tight-spot kickflips), seemingly for the sheer “fuck” of it, which is kind of a tough thing to communicate in an age awash with so much urban creativity. This is a good section, not great unless you look at it in terms of what he’s still sitting on, namely all the uphill handrail battles which are apparently contesting Heath’s white period for “Stay Gold” bragging rights. Not sure how rare this vid is supposed to be, but worth the free admission for the long slides, flashy frontside flip and artfully selected slams — which actually work for once, following the landed tricks toward the end of the part.

*Am I supposed to write it all in serious capital letters?
**And did I get it right this time? If I had things my way this would be a fakie ollie switch backside noseblunt because it’s totally different than a frontside bluntslide and everybody’s stupid anyway.

Hey Guys, Antwuan Dixon Is Back On His Bullshit

May 17, 2009


Work hard, play hard

We can all probably agree that the recently premiered Baker/Deathwish tour video isn’t going to be any great shakes as far as real serious skating goes, but, it does portend to be heavy on the hi-jinks… which in 2009 basically means Antwuan Dixon’s ongoing police-antagonization show. But even so this Youtube clip gets meta re: bootlegs in a fashion that’s in keeping with the PD aesthetic and spoils a handful of pretty high-caliber tricks, including Antwuan Dixon switch heelflipping the continental divide (pictured above). It also appears as though they got a front-row seat for that notorious Las Vegas brouhaha. At this point you have to wonder whether Reynolds & Co. have considered appointing a team of cameramen to maintain round-the-clock Dixon video coverage, if not for the sake of Deathwish productions, then for legal reasons. Or if they might take a page from the other Slash’s autobiography and at least hire a goon to haul him home at the end of the night.

Lazy Sunday Redux: Saturday Edition f. Tim O’Connor and Pancho Moler

May 16, 2009


Do da stanky leg

It could be nostalgia, the comforting graininess of pre-Panasonic era or the generally low-impact tricks, but in recent years I’ve found that watching mid-to-early-90s footage relaxes me more so than getting me psyched to skate, et cetera. (As long as you steer clear of the spastic multi-pressure flip stuff of course.) So it goes with this 93-94 Tim O’Connor sponsor-me tape that Thrasher posted the other day — he ups the E-Z-Boy factor with the natural floatiness of certain tricks like the kickflip over the pyramid or the nollie over the curb, and the sequence of flippery down the three-stair with the persistent snowbank lurking nearby. And skating curbs. Perhaps some of those lines at the bank wouldn’t make the cut today, but I challenge you to find a better-cut pair of khakis on the current market.

Fuck You Money

May 15, 2009


Deviating a bit from mining the R&B charts for tenuous pro skater comparisons

Taking a break from beating the Koston shoe-sponsor horse into a fine, not-all-that-humorous powder has given me some time to really, you know, lay back in the cut and marinate on this whole thing for a while. Like, perhaps Koston’s abrupt ship-jumping isn’t predicated on some brass-ring grab or a valiant effort to shore up Lakai’s balance sheet, but rather a wish to live out the remaining years of pro-skaterdom in whichever kicks he sees fit.

The above pic, which purports to depict Koston skating a pair of Adidas, got me thinking that he may be having a jolly old time sampling the ever-expanding skate shoe buffet, confounding internet speculators and no doubt enduring a fair amount of grilling from the old lady in the process. But why not eh? Koston’s been a loyal soldier for the past 15 years or so, if you aren’t looking at his trucks, and if he hasn’t earned the right to play the field a little bit before Nike makes the official announcement, well, who has.

However – and here comes the obligatory “the 90s were better” part – think it would be kind of cool if Eric Koston played this thread out for the rest of his career. Forthcoming multi-zillion-dollar contracts notwithstanding, he’s already got some money, and if there ever was a working pro skater out there that can get by without a shoe check, he’s the one right? A video part featuring a smorgasbord of skate shoes on Koston’s feet would probably be kinda jarring, but could serve to remind us that there once was a time when you could maybe skate another company’s board/shoes/shirt and the footage wouldn’t be slated for the low-res web clip file. An element of mystique even – recall if you will Gino’s Reeboks from the 101 part, the shoes that launched a thousand Slap board queries; to a lesser extent, the Sauconys sported by Smolik in his TSM interview or Simon Woodstock’s clown shoes.

Lizard King Is Probably the T-Pain of Skateboarding

May 12, 2009


Not Lizard King or T-Pain, or even Billy Gibbons

Back in 2001, when George Bush Jr’s ratings rode high in the saddle, pro deck sales were still on the upswing and PJ Ladd was wrapping up a game-altering East Coast shop video part, plucky softgoods concern Planet Earth released the largely overlooked “F.O.R.E. and Friends,” a city-hopping video that brought together the likes of Kenny Anderson, Felix and a young Terry Kennedy to celebrate the rising star of Forrest Kirby, who at the time occupied a place in skateboarding where he basically was like everybody’s lovable little brother. Whether donning a doo-rag or skidding banger noseblunts, FORE was down with everybody and stood poised to take his place amongst top-ranked professional athletes everywhere, before stepping back to attend CCD and pen Christian memoirs.

As you can imagine we live in less innocent times nowadays. Usama bin Laden remains at large; 50 Cent is having problems selling CDs of his music and snitches roam the streets. Yet some things are not so different. Dustin Dollin remains a glorious mess for instance. Varial kickflips are still better left alone unless you are Brian Anderson. Whereas we once had Nate Dogg, we now obey the robot voice of Teddy Pendergrass, and while skateboarding once ruffled the hair of a towheaded kid from San Antonio, in 2009 everyone wants to be down with the Satan worshippin’, razorblade abusin’, crazy-eyed rail/gap/other killa Mike Plumb.

And just as T-Pain took the stage at the Grammy awards and beseeched award-winning artists everywhere to hit him on the hip for collaborative art pursuits, Lizard King seems eager to get down with anyone and everyone possible — his journey from a one-foot backside lipsliding amateur contest oddity sponsored by Think has brought him into the house of Reynolds, and more recently he’s spreading the endorsement love amongst entities including but not limited to Jake Brown and Sean Sheffey’s not-sure-if-it’s-real-or-not clothing venture “Laced” and, ah, DC Shoes? Lizard King’s three-ring circus is such that I’m not sure what to believe anymore, what is true and what is just bleary-eyed delusion.

Other traits shared with T-Pain: a nonsensical nickname, a penchant for outlandish behavior that might be really annoying in other people, a proficiency at getting laid despite goonish looks (I’m assuming), and they’re both friends with people who have tattoos on their face.

A healthy work ethic and the big-tent approach has worked for T-Pain, just as it has served Lizard King well. And despite the media ubiquity of both it’s hard not to root for them. They are too tirelessly and exuberantly weird to root against, neither seems to take hisself too serious, and for the most part it wouldn’t do any good anyway. In closing, if Mike Plumb contributes an autotune hook to a JR rap song you all owe me $1000.

*who had yet to learn bluntslides from Stevie Williams


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