Archive for June, 2009

Last One, I Promise, I Hope, Sort Of

June 29, 2009

TSM_swift2

Not that he didn’t deserve it, but the August 2009 TSM kiss-off from Dave Swift to skateboarding’s confused, painful mess of a Jereme Rogers*, now rap music’s confused painful mess of a JR, to me falls into the day late/dollar short category. Swift’s point stands, of course — the whole idea behind a magazine is to hold good skate-boarding to the light and enjoy its stoke-a-riffic sparkle — but if you want to get serious about it, lil Jereme’s nonsense has been occupying precious space in the grand pages of our world for some time now, and the best magazines also mark the cultural milestones along the way, so why not a bookend to this absurd and glorious journey that Jereme Rogers has taken us on for the last seven years? As Swift himself notes, Bucky’s pool will be there forever and ever, but I would personally like to take these particular blog characters to urge each and every budding collector type to buy a copy of this magazine… imagine if Gator had penned a retirement letter, or Chris Gentry, or even Bastien Salabanzi, powerfully deluded each and every one. (Kindly insert your Andy Mac and Brian Emmers jokes here.) JR’s “retirement” is the latest tattooed milemarker to these strange times in which we travel.

To get the full read on where JR is coming from, you really do have to listen to the meandering, eight-minute suite “Goodbye Skateboarding,” the ender-ender on his new “This Shouldn’t Be a Mixtape, Mixtape” mixtape; you can download it for free, as he was telling his friends Puff Daddy and Dwayne Carter on Tweeter just yesterday. A more succinct version, no doubt riddled with spelling errors and text-message abbreviations, will run in the Skateboard Mag August issue, where Jereme Rogers lays out his case: a child prodigy Little League pitcher, he gave it all up to become a regional tween gymnastics champion**, which he threw away to live on the cold streets of Boston as a 13-year-old skateboard phenom grinding to make a place for himself in this cold cold world. Or something. Eli Reed was there, according to the song.

The point (if you believe all this) is that JR understands you need to have some skin in the game, so he’s going all-in to pursue his new passion, and since nearly everyone was wondering, his friends and/or associates did indeed try and warn him multiple times that this might just be a fantastically horrible idea. But, JR deflects doubts with hater-proof armor and is willing to go back to couch-surfing to make PMP music a reality. As a stalwart fan of horrible rap music and the possessor of Jereme Rogers’ not-a-mixtape, I feel I can attest that blinding and irrational self-confidence is definitely an asset when you’re trying to think up cool words to rhyme. The other being style/swagger/whatever the kids call it nowadays, and to a lesser extent maybe skill, which are all pretty subjective things and which I personally feel Jereme Rogers has in spades, but my judgment is poor.

If I were to lay a bet with Swift, it would be that JR will be back on the pages of TSM within three years shaping his comeback to skating, with any combination of illegal file-sharing, nefarious business partners and general haterism to blame for the untimely demise of PMP music. In the meantime I feel like we’ve struck the ultimate deal, since we get to observe JR, the tattoo-collecting, God-fearing whisper-rapping spectacle, without having to sacrifice valuable magazine space and video footage on his safety-arm landings. Plus we have all those fond Jereme memories to look back on. Remember when Koston and those dudes stole his plane ticket and he giggled about having to ride a train across Europe, flatground kickflipping all the way there? Also, this:

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Best of luck in the rap game Jereme! Your friends at Boil the Ocean

*Apologies to the Gryffon
**Hopefully young JR doesn’t run afoul of Jay-Z and become the next contestant on that summer jam screen

For The Record

June 28, 2009


In 1988, pro skateboarder Mike Vallely revolutionized the skateboarding sport

My pleas to let anticipation and tension build ahead of the inevitable BATB Round 2: Daewon Song’s Revenge having fallen on deaf ears, exhaustive coverage of the first quadrant is already under way so I suppose I ought to post my picks for posterity, seeing’s how I’m already 1-for-2 or however it’s termed in actual sporting phrasology. After hanging tough in one of those Es games of skate a few years back and that surprise caballerial kickflip last time around I thought Jamie Thomas had a little bit more in him, but as millions of kids 15 years younger than I already know, he did not. Perhaps chomping too many frontside k-grinds. BTO fared a bit better in the Cole v. Vallely matchup, but just barely, as the Colester’s good-natured agreement to bend the rules in favor of ’80s Skate Rags maneuvers produced probably one of the most fun to watch episodes thus far. Honestly I thought Mike V was pretty amiable about the whole thing and it would’ve been amazing to see one of these with Eric Koston or Mike Carroll. Let this stand as a warning, kids, a cautionary tale of what can happen to your switch heelflips if you choose to focus your energy on quasi-celebrity hockey blogging and acting in Kevin James vehicles.

bracket2

Serious As Cancer

June 27, 2009


Ask about our catch of the day

Depending on whom you ask, Powell (was it Powell Peralta again for a shot while there?) is either an enduring monument to the successes and excesses of ’80s skateboarding, a third- or fourth-tier farm team company that’s been home to high-ollie champions and future SOTYs, or a stalwart supplier of blank decks. It has yet to be seen whether the new “FUN!” video will reassert Powell’s seat at the table of board companies people care about or catapult its featured amateurs to, er, am status on bigger/better board companies, but it’s an impressive effort even beyond the skating (which is roundly pretty awesome) – a statement of purpose from a notoriously directionless company, with the only ones that seem to give a shit about the whole affair probably ranking fairly low on the pay scale. Pretty much your classic rag-tag team of misfits taking a shot at the little league title or whatever, in a video that could only begin with a Spongebob song.

Since it’s unlikely that one video is going to turn the Powell ship, which has been floating aimlessly art-direction and team-wise for over a decade now, a more constructive game might be to parse “FUN!” re: the likelihood of different dudes getting tossed lifelines to other teams. Opening dude Josh Hawkins would probably be one, despite some kind of weird body varials out of tricks. He does this immaculate bluntslide kickflip and lands a cartilage-crushing noseblunt toward the end of his part, which features some pretty sizable gap skating. Also the relentlessly rounded Ben Hatchell, spinning a feeble grind whirligig in the shallow end and back-to-back flipping in the full-pipes. He has the crucial Cab cameo and also offers some handrail heroics to and beyond a double-kink feeble grind, crazy tricks that could maybe land him on Real or something; maybe Almost could get some of these dudes when Lutzka’s contract finally, finally runs out.

Meantime former Element-For-Lifer Dallas Rockvam gets his AVE weight up on a fat wallie to backside 50-50, the gap-to-rail lovin’ Aldrin Garcia hops a fence to a puffer-fish landing and scores a sweet look-back after a big backside flip. John White, previously a paralegal and in close competition with Mike Anderson for most boringest name in skating right now, is working with a new light-footed technique that isn’t bad and skids a sick backside noseblunt at the Crailtap electro-box ledge. On the topic of names, Derek Elmendorf has thankfully dropped one of the lamer nicknames around, and winds down a hammer-ready section with a bizarro fakie ollie to switch feeble grind and that 50-50 that must be seen to be believed.

Flarey ledge combos in this video include a noseslide to back noseblunt, nose manual to b/s noseblunt and f/s boardslide spin-around to noseblunt, but all things considered it’s a pretty big guns-focused affair that sees Wallenberg varial heelflipper Jordan Hoffart emptying the clip to “Panama,” stepping right up to the Staples Center hubba as he generally gets his Muska on. Noseslide shove-it transfer on a beefy block, a double-set jump to 5-0, long cranked-out k-grinds and gapping out over some stairs that I’d been waiting the whole vid for somebody to do. He goes and gets his Billy Marks on a little later with that Slap “Curtains” curtains trick, and there’s a finishing move that surely resets some type of bar. It would be impressive if Hoffart and everybody else refused all offers in favor of mutinying the Powell ship, stuffing old George in the brig and pointing the prow toward glory and treasure, but there’s a time to fish and a time to cut bait, and you gotta think that with these kids’ buckets full of freshly heaving lunkheads it’s time to see what kind of price they’ll fetch on the open market. And so ends this extended deep-sea fishing metaphor.

Play It Again, Mike

June 25, 2009

Walking On Broken Glass

June 24, 2009


Alternate corny post title: “Smash Hit”

Keeping Nike honest means awarding plaudits when they make the right moves, and firing out the fast, noisy, technicolor explosion that is “Debacle” amidst a summer of sweaty and bloated full-lengths qualifies as a win even if they hadn’t put it up in varying degrees of HD glory for free and speedy download. The powers that SB show they can learn too, deep-sixing the skits that mired “NBTT” (for the most part) and amazingly not playing out the car-skating thing… you’d kind of expect the predictable slow-mo one-trick intros centered on the autos.

Skating-wise Habitat’s transfer-happy Daryl Angel brings his brand of inoffensive modern skateboarding to spots in San Jose, Europe and, er, China, and wages his ongoing battle against the bland through two songs, but the little dude manages to turn up the heat around the time the half-cab feeble grind; the up-down Far East rail combo is a head-nodder, if a little predictable for someone to do at that spot, and he flexes gnar chops on the gap to pole jam and an AVE line reconstruction. Other shit like that f/s halfcab nosegrind and the kinked b/s smith point at potential but this dude’s footage needs an editor more than anything else. David Clark’s kind of a mixed bag; the sort of mellow, vibe-friendly tricks in which he traffics don’t stack up well next to the fireworks of a Nugget or Brock in most instances, but he’s not even getting over on style points here that much, though the hubba wallie is a heater. He might be on the Austin Stephens road.

Jolting between China, SoCal and points unknown, Shane Oneill and Theotis Beasley go blow-for-blow in one of the more effect tag-team/cameo combos recently, and for whatever reason the Nugget’s footage here went over better than his part for the novelty t-shirt purveyor Skate Mental… it could be the song, which probably is my favorite in a skate vid so far this year, or the Beasley backside double-flip, or maybe just the filming which is really on point throughout this whole production and helps the between-skating clips go down a lot easier.

Grant Taylor seems to be refocusing on which grabs look the coolest these days, moving away from his sophisticated take on 50-50 grinds in the Alien video, though he packs a cool block gap backside lipslide into his bud-green drug rug. A few months back I was kind of bummed that his “Mind Field” section didn’t have more transition skating but he roars through the bowls here, blasting this crazy transfer out of the whoop-de-whoops and puddle jumping with the bros before rekindling the dashed dreams of one Frankie Hill. The power beanie gets a lot of play with Justin Brock, who rumbles through spots like a rainbow-colored rockslide with a different array of tricks – bigspin grabs above the coping and a pretty impressive run through the pipes. Somebody more pool-inclined than I will have to determine whether a willy grind on backyard transition is legit, but if the sea-green stocking hat didn’t convince you Justin Brock’s going for it, that move oughtta help.

Really I think the hero of this vid has to be Jason Hernandez, who mixes Zero-style editing slices with some of the more interesting lifestyle clips (like David Clark in the window) to move “Debacle” along at precisely the right pace, clocking in under the critical 20-minute mark if you don’t count the credits. It’s a testament to restraint and judicious cutting, especially considering how a lot of filmers still seem held in thrall by the picture quality that HD camcorders afford. Now begins a new debate: is HD video destroying video grabs’ low-fi kitsch?

Zoo York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

June 21, 2009


Hey guys, I’m on my New York shit

Remember how Jay-Z won rap and then retired to marry his girlfriend and get a desk job, but then he came back with a red CD, but he didn’t sound very excited? The CD was red and he had a song with the guy from Radiohead Jr, and rapped about how being in your late 30s was really cool, and he didn’t even mention Cam’ron and it just wasn’t the same… If I remember correctly the CD was called “Best of Both Worlds Vol 2 Unfinished Business.”

So this new Zoo video, which overall is kinda good, and kind of not, basically the same way I feel about the pole-positioned Brandon Westgate. You know, as much as you gotta respect the obvious skills and wish the kid well I really cannot get into his skating that much. Because no matter how fast he’s going (and he clearly is) it looks slow a lotta the time and he seems to be stricken with little kid style and weird, slow kickflips, not to mention a serious and persistent rocket issue on the hardflip, although the up-moves and Duffy-esque last trick are cool. In other general grousing, Anthony Shetler should’ve stayed on Birdhouse, and unfortunately no amount of gritty-city profiling clips and Big L will sell me on Chaz Ortiz.

Matt Miller rips it to pieces though. Kind of was mixed on his TWS part last summer, for whatever reason, but his mastery of the backside noseblunts (see: the Pier ledge) and strategic inclusion of the Redman raps shall not be denied; how come he doesn’t get to be a pro? The dudes with big hair generally ruled this video – it could have done with double the amount of Ron Deily footage, like an East Coast Nick Trapasso. The run with the switch backside smith grind is so good and the booster nolle b/s heelflip is so bananas, I could watch the dude skate all day. Not so much Lamare Hemmings, who is smooth and very much inoffensive in most every way, and Aaron Suski, whose execution and approach I dig but, always kind of feel as though I’m obligated to be a bigger fan of the dude than I actually am. Good skating however.

The older dudes deliver for the most part – KT’s was too brief and had a couple substandard clips but that frontside k-grind is TOTY material, and you could make a similar argument about Forrest Kirby and his switch wallride, but that dude seems genuinely sparked off his CCD classes and newfound author status and cranked out probably the best video part I personally can remember in ten years or so. Tha Plat is calling Donny Barley’s swan song and didn’t seem too jazzed, I definitely dug the section but the fact that it reignited the movie after Chaz Ortiz helped a lot. They should’ve started it with the downhill night line, there should’ve been more night footage in general really.

Questionable music supervision aside Eli Reed comes through in his big moment, chewing spots and spitting out weird little tech moves that sometimes are kind of slow but always at least interesting, and he gets the church bells ringing at that courthouse spot, amongst others. And Zered Basset with another two-song closer, breaking out his bag of switch heelflips, switch 360 flips, backside flips and switch 50-50s to the tune of Ronnie James Dio and the boys from Brownsville (pretty much as ingenious as whoever got the idea to pair MOP and Foreigner in the first place). Too many crazy tricks to count (in particular, the switch noseblunt slide) but when it came to the switch 360 flip lipslide, they should’ve slotted it for the generous bonus round, and here’s hoping the day comes when people stop doing that trick to regular`. Crazy move, like this video is pretty good actually, but something’s off. Perhaps they need to put Anthony Correa back on. And film more shit at night.

Five-Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh

June 19, 2009

The really important thing today is that you watch this entry in Thrasher’s “Saints & Sinners” tour, which features one of the more blistering bowl sessions I’ve seen pretty much ever – witness, if you will, street skating by Neil Heddings; Sam Hitz’s Matterhorn Screamer 5-0 grind; the corresponding nosegrind; Al Partanen’s caballerial; and my favorite, the determined fakie pump around the bend. Gravette’s ollie-out-ollie-in is the icing on the cake. Yow

A Family Affair

June 18, 2009


This preemptive Father’s Day post brought to you by the Wilt Chamberlain Genealogy Foundation

The whole mainstreaming thing that’s gone down the last decade or so hasn’t just put Cristal on the table and Aston Martins in the garage of your favoritest pros, it’s caught the attention of soccer moms and hockey dads the nation over, board by board and blown-out shoe by shoe. Probably a mixed bag in general, with each heartwarming father-son backyard ramp building session matched by EXPN-wise would-be momagers quizzing hapless team managers at demos, demanding a roadmap to Shecklerdom. Was it like this in the 80s? Surely Christian Hosoi could provide a longwinded answer that would save souls in the process, but I can offer only run-on sentences and Ace of Base references.

It’s easy to tot up the often lame/annoying/embarrassing aspects of increased parental involvement – at least one blogging skateboarder has a mom that still asks why he doesn’t wear a helmet, after nearly two decades of this nonsense – but this Philadelphia Weekly story on Love Park casts skateboard parents in a new role, namely defenders against (alleged) police brutality:

That’s precisely why 37-year-old Jen Chattin plans on attending this year’s [Go Skateboarding Day] with her sons. “I’ll even skateboard,” says the single mother of four boys. She’s fired up and ready to raise hell about the fact that a cop put his hands on her son.

It’s hard to say whether this type of thing will galvanize moms and dads as to the legitimacy of skating spots (as opposed to parks) but it’ll be interesting to see how things develop in the next decade or so, as this type of situation comes up more often, and the ranks of parents who skate themselves gradually expands. Aside from a clunky description of skate action at Love and heavy reliance on an internet message board as a source, it’s a good article, you should check it out if you’re bored in work/class. See if you can spot the paraphrased Stevie Williams quote.

Bonus: This sort of amazing quote from one of the few cops that talked for the story…

“It’s illegal for a reason,” contends Wilson. “They’ve broken those blocks [on the floor of the park] and popped them up so they can use them as ramps. They grind all that marble [sic] to shame. If they were just kids who rolled through and didn’t do any damage, that would be one thing, but they’re not.” 


Last of the Fucked Up Blind Kids

June 15, 2009


A post in which we reference the Venga Boys and anuses but the overall tone is pretty positive

The summer video season is upon us, with what seems like two videos dropping every week and as if to prove the point, I just saw this preview for the new Black Label video that apparently is coming out next month and most definitely features a bunch of kids I’m not familiar with. All of which means that A. I’m over the hill, again, and B. well behind on the commentating, such as it is. I’ll expound elsewhere about the Blind video, known to some as “The Blind Video,” based on the true story about filming a Blind video. If you have not seen it I’ll touch on some of the critical plot points: Jake Duncombe likes to party and as such will one day skate to a Venga Boys song. Jake Brown manufactures t-shirts with the F-word on them and does one of the zanier manuals in a while, Grant Patterson prefers big gaps, tall tees, and music by/for/about the ghetto. Morgan Smith is painfully Canadian, Jani Latiala catches some of his flip tricks really weird, Ronnie Creager glides.

But a few more words and possibly a couple mixed metaphors are due James Craig, however, who to my mind turned in the best section of this video and possibly the best of his career — which if you graphed it would look like two big boobs spanning the last decade, or maybe also a buttcrack with Craig’s heinous knee injury marking the tragic anus. You could probably make a sort-of convincing case for how James Craig represented the rear guard of 1990s World riders, and elsewhere Carbonite submitted “The Blind Video” as the most “Trilogy”-like World production since “Trilogy” which I can sort of see, and sort of not see. For sure a lot of these lines could have been performed in a schoolyard or UC campus of your choosing, but it’s more how this James Craig section fulfills the promise of his Blind amateur footage like this when he was something of a pre-PJ Ladd PJ Ladd (also noting the last trick symmetry with Craig’s first line in this year’s production, yes).

James Craig has also engineered a sort of double comeback with this part… in the unfortunately titled “What If” video it was clear he had pretty much all his tricks back, and then some, but his arms were all over the place to such a degree you wonder if Torey Pudwill used to watch it and take down shaky, jagged notes. He made it partway back with the surprise section in “Get Familiar” (that bigspin flip) but I gotta say I wasn’t expecting him in 2009 to be running around doing high-speed switch heelflip smith grinds, noseblunts to switch backside tailslides, and that rocket launcher kickflip that maybe exorcised some of the triple-set demons of days past. The dude could be a candidate for the short list of people who can pass off varial kickflips and it’s likely the frontside heelflip on flat will rank among the season’s very best. We here at BTO try not to read into pro skaters’ motivations and/or feelings that much but this section has the serious “fun” vibe for me; I’m a sucker for happy endings and glad James Craig handed us this one*, though I heard a second attempt at the ender trick may have taken him out again. If so, get well soon, and we’ll all try to bear in mind the thrice-endowed tart of “Total Recall.”

Bonus: James Craig’s part from the Razor Sharp vid, which I think I watched whilst drinking one time.

*pause

And Then We Came To The End!

June 11, 2009


Eric Koston scouts his last-minute trick for “Debacle.” Interesting fact: The truck, made of crepe paper, was designed by Swedish architect Johan Fredrik Åbom and cost $850,000.

Nike’s final, successful attempt to crack the shoe-chewing skateboard market is probably the story of our lil pasttime in the ’00 decade, even if it’s sort of a bass-ackwards version of what the rest of the industry has undergone. Skate shoe companies took center stage as the big-money game beyond boards and wheels, muddling through the thankless game of trying to maintain credibility with the dirty, scabbed kids that brung em to the dance, while signing pro wakeboarders and serving up juicy discounts to big-box retailers that will happily put your trucks on backwards as you shop for carabiners. Meanwhile, the suits at Nike were cherry-picking independent skate shops and aging East-coast pros that together would ride the wave of sneakerhead largesse and make it hard for even the die-hard purists to argue that Nike was the bloodthirsty corporate monster we’d all been led to believe.

It was an interesting story that died a boring death today, as Nike SB signed Eric Koston and can no longer be seen in any shape or form as an underdog in skateboarding. The Birdos were half-right in that Nike eventually decided to be Nike and throw its wallet around, buying up top talent as they see fit, flowing everybody in the industry who isn’t skating for another shoe company, reigning supreme over Tampa, flooding the mall shops with SB’s and pushing “Jocks Suck” 6.0s elsewhere. Meanwhile the current generation doesn’t remember a time when people didn’t skate Nike shoes, pre-fab skateparks are awash with swooshes, and the SB branch has more or less figured out how to act like a skateboard company as far as putting out videos, doing demos, getting tour articles into the magazines; eventually they can be expected to start blowing video deadlines I guess.

Getting Koston has seemed so much like the predestined move for Nike from the beginning that you wonder what’s next, except it appears Nike’s already provided the answer in the form of Sacto-birthed pro models for Stefan Janoski and Omar Salazar, both Vans knock-offs that make it pretty clear Nike’s given up on trying to be any kind of leader, the way they were when they came in with the Dunk a few years ago and helped the Es Accel usher in the wave of low-tech simple shoes. Beyond the staple Blazers and Dunks Nike SB is/was the one company making teched-out shoes that A. had serious space technology behind them and B. actually sold despite said low-tech shoe trend, so seeing their operation fall into line with the parade of Vans imitators (belatedly) communicates complacency at best, surrender at worst, or perhaps an Antarctic sabbatical with Marty Stouffer for the shoe design squad.

There have been and will be long and usually boring debates on Nike’s role in this big teddy bear picnic, but at this point the threads feel like they’ve been played out — Nike came on the scene and boosted some half-forgotten pros* like Danny Supa, Reese Forbes, Gino, etc.; they proceeded to make the expected power moves via P-Rod, Janoski, Salazar, and now Koston. For a few years there SB sales, restricted to actual real skateboard stores, translated to serious loot for the operators that they weren’t seeing selling other shoes, for various reasons; now you can order “CCS Exclusive” colors of Nike Dunks off the internet or get them at Zumiez. Nike takes good care of its people, pros to reps, and they do joint ventures with Blueprint and Slam City and the SPOT and Slap and Skate Mental; they should do all this stuff because they can and it keeps cranks like me from complaining too much.

But now that Nike’s at last acting like the 800-pound gorilla it is, it’s hard not to feel wary about what comes next. Best case scenario is they generallhy follow the rest of the shoe pack, make good videos and do right by the proper people. Or, perhaps they scoop up Ryan Sheckler, appoint him president of the 6.0 division, and sponsor nationwide skate camps hooked up to Rob Dyrdek’s proposed “skateboard league”… clearing the way for a generation of talent scouts and parent-managers hanging off the skatepark chain-link fence, calling the cops on the oldsters and scaring away all the precious weirdos that came up with the screaming hand and the idea to jump a skateboard on a handrail.

*By the other shoe companies, anyway


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