Archive for July, 2009

Institutionalized

July 30, 2009

cuckoosnest
You don’t have to be crazy to write a skateboard blog but it sure helps! =)

Interesting bookend to yesterday’s posting comes to us today from Rupert Murdoch’s wood-pushing beat reporter Conor Dougherty, who has a rundown on the state of play in Portland Oregon where skateboarding has corrupted “the system,” as opposed to the other way around:

As skateboarding exploded, Portland’s skaters began lobbying for more parks, and for a say in how they were built. One was Tom Miller, who had moved from Seattle to attend law school and later started a non-profit organization called Skaters for Portland Skateparks. The city later set up a skatepark committee that included Mr. Miller, Mr. Dahlgren and Dean Dickinson, a BMX bike rider. The panel pushed for concrete parks designed by skaters, rather than the plastic obstacles many cities were buying from playground equipment companies more familiar with swingsets than skateparks.

But the group also suggested something so bold Mr. Miller says he was almost embarrassed to propose it: a citywide skatepark system. Mr. Miller’s skatepark lobbying led to a volunteer position with the campaign of Sam Adams, who was running for city commissioner. Mr. Adams won the election, and Mr. Miller became an insider: He was offered a job as chief of staff. A few months later Portland’s city council approved a plan to create the skatepark system.

The “skatepark system” is intriguing to me; I’ve always thought personally that far more practical for cities of size, rather than building destination-type parks on the outskirts of town or in some bizarre, hard-to-reach location, would be to make legal spots scattered throughout various neighborhoods. Like a couple flatbars alongside a basketball court somewhere, a wallride spot in the alley behind some city building, legal ledges in schoolyards, a miniramp in the park, etc. But then again I have lots of other stupid ideas like taking spots people are already skating and stop wasting cop wages chasing people around all day. Or getting reincarnated as a grackle in order to shit on haters of various types and descriptions.

Anyway, the WSJ article correctly points out that skateboarding’s subversion/infiltration/sliding in thru the side door of Portland city government was aided by the widely believed fact that the place is run by a load of hippies, or so is my understanding. It’s also interesting to note that this has all taken place in the backyard of Nike Inc., whose interest in skateboarding has probably risen steadily alongside the number of parks in town; somebody more energetic and talented than your BTO staffer could probably make an interesting graph or perhaps a cheerily coloured pie chart to demonstrate this, but if wishes were ponies, well, there you are.

Another interesting sidebar to the Portland story is that as skateboarders have gained civic clout, the BMXers are starting to feel disenfranchised, since none of the power-broker skateboard types want to see their tax dollar-funded ledges all chunked up from pegs:

“It’s almost like skaters are the cops now,” says Mr. Dickinson, the BMXer.

Youch. The irony, she burns. On one hand, the BMXers have a fair point, but on the other hand, now that skateboarders have paved the way* they could go ahead and find their own city government to fill with various moles and rogue agents in fingerless gloves and Fox hats. You know, the Cuyahoga River is just begging for one of those big dirt jumps.

*delicious punnery sort of intended

A Chilling Vision of Things to Come

July 29, 2009

hail-ants
Shouts to Ross Powers, Kenny Brocklestein and Hewlett-Packard

There are days when a dude can do two switch 360 flips in the same line and it comes off all inspired, like there’s still little chunks of zany magic to be scraped from the cracked maple veneers of this earthly life. And then you got days when the Olympics seem like a depressing inevitability that will transform each session into a practice and once-dirtbag kids into future competitors for the glory of succulent Olympic gold. Because, you can’t eat just one.

Anyway, for those of you that are like me and caught this NY Times article on Shaun White’s non-skating Olympic training regimen, today was of the second type. Behold, and imagine a future 10 years from now by swapping out the term snowboarding for skateboarding:

With a deep and talented field, qualifying for the four spots on the United States men’s halfpipe team will be highly competitive. To help riders prepare this summer, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association helped finance construction of a 22-foot-tall halfpipe that meets Olympic specifications at the High Cascade Snowboard Camp on Palmer glacier at Mount Hood in Oregon. White was among several top professionals who spent time training there this month.

This part brings to mind the dudes fortunate enough to have their own multi-hundred-thousand-dollar megaramps, and the golf carts with which to properly traverse their length:

Last winter, Red Bull, one of White’s sponsors, built a private halfpipe at Silverton Mountain, a spartan resort in Colorado known for its extreme terrain. Rumors and images circulated on the Internet of White’s secret spot, with a giant air bag at the bottom of the halfpipe for soft landings while practicing tricks. His fellow professionals Keir Dillon and Heikki Sorsa joined White, but little was known about their sessions. In a sport in which top riders were accustomed to training together, a private halfpipe marked a departure from past practice. White’s rivals took note.

In June, Nike built Pearce a private halfpipe at Mammoth Mountain in California, which he rode for two weeks with his fellow United States Olympic hopefuls Danny Davis and the brothers Luke and Jack Mitrani. When asked which tricks he was working on, Pearce was circumspect.

“That’s the whole idea behind a private halfpipe, kind of keep it a bit quiet, not let everybody else know,” he said. “So once the season’s under way, it’s pretty much a surprise.”

Also, this:

He did not directly address questions about whether he would return to skateboarding next summer.

“Snowboarding has always been my main sport from the beginning,” he said. “I was just lucky enough to have my snowboarding skills cross over to skateboarding.”

Will the skateboard industry survive this global recession without help from the Flying Tomato, the most recognizable personality in action sports? Spoiler alert, the answer is no. For those of you contemplating suicide on this news, me and a bunch of my friends are going to try and get reincarnated as grackles and shit on Shaun White’s Lambo as a form of avian vengeance from beyond the grave. Login “grackle”, password “gracklezrule2005″

Mike Vallely Films the First ‘Battle Commander’ Part I Watch More Than Once

July 26, 2009

mike_v_berrics
File under: skateboard tricks

When the untamed New Jerseyan, slam poet and personal brand that is Mike Vallely parked his black novelty sportscar outside the Berrics’ hallowed walls, we should have known something was up. Inviting the streetplanting hockey blogger to a technical flip-trick contest for which he was ill-suited was silly enough, and while Vallely kept a lid on his famously flaring temper throughout what looked like a pretty lighthearted affair, it stands to reason that he/his people wanted a little sugar to go with the tough flatground medicine that Chris Cole was dishing out. And so it swung onto the interwebs this weekend, the Mike Vallely “Battle Commander” section, crushing preconceived notions of skateboarding and reality itself. Sort of exactly like the iconic monster truck scene from “Road House.”

These little parts have been used by marquee pros to tease “legit” video parts and test-drive new tricks, but for me at least they’re generally snoozers, seeings’ how it is a part filmed entirely in one skatepark (dramatic light notwithstanding). For Vallely though this is kind of the ultimate environment. It’s a park for one, and the dude has filmed entire documentaries and TV miniseries in parks. Their legal nature provides him plenty of tries for the type of big jumps that get the kids on their feet, and the Berrics’ malleable format gives Vallely’s inner elephant plenty of room to swing its tattooed trunk and plant its broad feet here and there, as the whims of Vallely dictate. At one point they even show him drilling down a board that I thought was going to facilitate an even more huger boneless, but in a typical Mike V twist, he uses it for a drop-in (!) and leaves me confounded once more.

There are all types of amazing tricks in this part though, set off with that somersault/cartwheel into the Chris Cole-approved streetplant transfer thing. Vallely shits upon naysayers, breaking out his legendary no-handed 360 flip along with a couple other flip tricks that incorporate grabs and/or walking up a hubba ledge. Proving that he pays more attention to “new school” skating than he likes to let on, he throws in an up-the-stairs move, along with an up-rail trick with a launch-ramp assist, an obvious reference to “Storm”-era T-bone. Also he wears a vest.

Mike Vallely has been many things to many people. For instance he was once a vegetarian, a lifestyle he left behind in order to chew scenery in the Paul Blart movie.* He’s been called more politician than skateboarder, but what I think Mike V is, is a showman. And he figured out a while ago that he tends to perform best in controlled environments, with the possible exception of Warp Tours, where it seems like just about anything goes. Revolution Mutha music included, this really was the most entertaining Berrics segment I’ve watched in a long time. A few tricks over that hot rod and two solid minutes of purposeful pushing and it would’ve been easily the best part Mike V has filmed in the last 20 years I bet.

*oh, we went there

A Familia Affair

July 23, 2009

mint_hubba
Pop life

BTO overlooked the Familia video* when it came out, a crime only partially excused by the fact that I was maybe occupied with Stevie Wiliams’ gripping saga about being stranded in some airport. But seeing’s how this is a video almost entirely dedicated to the bro-friendly concept of shared parts it fits in with what has rapidly become “bro week” in this space, a concept that will surely prove embarrassing to all involved at some point in the future. However, until we figure out what to make of Bam Margera’s recent TMZ appearances, we soldier on…

Familia, the descendant of Minneapolis mainstay Fobia helmed by Birdhouser Steve Nesser, eschews the meticulous music supervision and thematic concepts of the Benji Meyer era for a quick 15-minute overview of where some past and present Minnesota hitters are with their skating. It’s a low-key affair with a couple gutsy music choices (T-ihanna) that belie the obligatory glass cases/hardwood floors skateshop trappings, Uptown geographical controversies aside.

It seems like the current wave of ledge techery has caught up to the type of tricks Chad Benson has been doing for a while, things like the switch boardslide spin-around to front blunt and the switch k-grind fakie 360flip out. He shares time and space here with Nate Compher, who pops switchstance moves in ways that continue to raise “wha happen” questions around the Lakai/Chocolate situation, where one party or another looks to have dropped the ball over the past few years. Whatever the case he moves the schoolyard line battle forward with a nollie noseblunt-switch backside smith grind combination and later lands a switch b/s smith grind down Hubba Hideout, probably some kind of high water mark for the recent revival.

There’s frizzle fry grabs and a screwed up noseslide from the Zed while Dominic Randazzo musters a couple tricks in the tuxedo T, always a class act, and also a meaty lazer flip. A bit of a bro-tage features shop employees and reps alongside known bro Tony Hawk and TSM employees, and young Rada Espinoza lifts a massive frontside wallride at Jake Johnson’s favorite parking garage. The mighty Jamiel Nowparvar seems like he’s slowed down a little bit from his internet-conquering “Weekend Warriors” section but the switch kickflip b/s noseblunt is business of the most serious sort. Future video game star Steve Nesser does a bunch of ollies and 50-50s with some good nosegrinds both right and left-footed.

Emeric Pratt, the onetime Consolidator who recently cast his lot with Kris Markovitch’s Given boards, is paired with 5-0 happy Habitat flowee David Jaimes, which makes for the easiest type of shared part to watch because it’s pretty simple for mentally limited persons like myself to tell the two dudes apart. Jaimes does Davis Torgerson tech lines and Pratt still can’t keep his hands off his board, there’s a couple variations on the fakie flip stalefish/melon(?), also some kinda crazy bonk to rollercoaster ride. Crooked grind bonk? I rewound it a half-dozen times and still couldn’t figure it out. Check the vid here and let me know if it makes any sense to you.

*I don’t want to go back and check so let’s all just pretend I didn’t already title a previous posting “a family affair” kthxbye

Bros in Time

July 22, 2009

guy_rudy

For whatever reason this week we’re seeing a lot of themes around the glory of bro-ness popping up here and there, so I’m going to avoid retreading tha Plat’s recent odes to the season in favor of more other shit that warms the darkened cockles of aging skateboard hearts*. Such as this time warp Guy/Rudy pic, featured in the new and generally entertaining Wallride catalog. (Check for the Skate Mental dolphin deck and Carroll’s up-rail innovation.) We can sweat the Crailtap crew’s growing pains as they try and chart their course with the ’90s steadily shrinking in the rear-view mirror, but then they’ll parcel out photos like this, or empty the footage vaults for the box set, and future generations of face-tattooed Christian fundamentalist rappers can be forgiven. Too bad they’re not driving a Civic.

Tenuously related is this Lakai commercial for the nold Rick Howards, which I’ve unfortunately yet to sample, in which our pal gets some help from a couple IATSE Local 33 friends. But not Mike Carroll. If 411s were still coming out and I was still watching them I would for sure be waiting on new Lakai spots.

*inevitably bumming out the anti-bro-feeling Carbonite

Baker Boys of Summer

July 21, 2009

baker_tour_bed
It’s a wrap

Though it may not feel like it across most of the country, these allegedly are the dog days of the summer season, and the numerous and powerful corporate interests behind Boil the Ocean hope that you are enjoying them as such. With the high-contrast blare of “Debacle” faded a bit, the super-ams of Powell and Sk8Mafia entertaining new endorsement offers, Zoo York counting its Gatorade incentive cash (nice catch by YWS) and the Blind team again scattered to the four winds, we find ourselves in a lull before the next round of powerhouse productions from the likes of TWS, Zero, Flip and Emerica. Putting the pain of the Duffel/Howard BATB game out of mind, now is the season of bro-dom, in which we all ought to be out enjoying the summer weather* in the manner of your own choosing – skateboarding, shooting the breeze, learning tricks, taking slams and so on.

Video-wise, this heartfelt sentiment is best captured by the bro-love section of the Baker-Deathwish tour video documenting, ah, last summer – if you have the DVD it begins around the 26:19 mark. Antwuan Dixon demonstrates that beneath a fearsome façade of face tattoos and battle-ready knuckles there lurks a helpful domesticate who just wants to see his drug-addled buddies sleep comfortably. There’s mother-and-child-reunion high-fives, haircut goofs and a round of match-the-trick before Mike “Jim Morrison” Plumb gets another helping hand from Slash in achieving a world record grind. It gets no better, bros.

*Note, if you’re reading this from the southern hemisphere where it’s winter currently, get a real hemisphere

Let It Snow

July 15, 2009

hamster_nest
Crash pad

Downtown New York artistic circles today mourn the death of Dash Snow, the former IRAK graffiti artist, sometime nudist, and all-around hipster deity who was also heir to an art-collecting dynasty. His work in the medium of Polaroids, collage and, err, his own semen has been alternately praised and derided, but what’s generally overlooked is the instrumental role his work played in Jake Johnson’s addition to the Sovereign Sect.

But first a word on the “hamster nest,” among Snow’s innovations that did not include bodily fluids:

Saatchi got them a fancy hotel room on Piccadilly. They had to flee it in the middle of the night with their suitcases before it was discovered that they’d created one of their Hamster’s Nests, which they’ve done quite a few times before. To make a Hamster’s Nest, Snow and Colen shred up 30 to 50 phone books, yank around all the blankets and drapes, turn on the taps, take off their clothes, and do drugs—mushrooms, coke, ecstasy—until they feel like hamsters.

Flash forward to the summer of 2007, when Snow and affiliates expanded on the idea for a gallery show; while the skateboard world was transfixed by the resurgent career of Peter Smolik, a young Jake Johnson endured a literal trial-by-fire intro to Jason Dill’s brand of artsy weirdness, as related in the most recent Thrasher interview issue:

Any good Dill stories?
One of the first times I went to skate with Jason, Brengar and I met him at 2 am at this art gallery downtown. It was this 10- by 10-foot cubicle room filled with newspaper shavings. It looked like this giant human hamster cage with little pieces of paper fluff everywhere and weird music playing. Jason was there and he got Brengar to film his buddy lighting an aerosol can on fire while Jason skated as fast as he could and ollied into this big hamster cage.

Fall Out Boys

July 12, 2009

slash_fallen

A couple Fallen shoes related items recently crossed the boil the ocean desk, firstly, the new ad featuring Brian “Saul Hudson” Hansen which gave me serious “oh-shit” pause whilst flipping through the Appleyard TWS last week. The sequence of course doesn’t really do justice to the trick, partly because of the speed required, but also because it’s a super-high ledge… Marius Syvanen also took a shot at it this month, hopping onto the little block before jumping the gap to backside 50-50, but this backside tailslide is a monster with form. Due to my substandard scanning abilities I’m leaving out a few frames, but consider this a protest song dedicated to the fact that the Black Box ad archive isn’t updated on a daily basis.

Anyway, on the topic of form, again-hairless Black Box honcho Jamie Thomas turned in his edition of the ongoing “10 tricks” series, after a false start, and it includes this beauty of a frontside k-grind with the classic executioner pose:

jamie_thomas_park

Meanwhile, apparently some of these dudes skated the Maloof contest this weekend

Introducing Greg Lutzka, Creative Director, Southwest Airlines

July 10, 2009

For your reference, on the off chance you missed the other day’s soon-to-be timeless “Industry Metapost”

Turf Talk

July 8, 2009

hitz_turf

You know how when you look at old photos from the 70s, they’ve got that weird look about them – not just the colors and clothes and so on but the people too, like everybody just woke up in a disco or some such. I feel kinda the same way about older skate pics – if it’s the way they’re composed, the outfits, tricks, spots, whatever, I don’t know. This shot of Sam Hitz backside hitzin’ the coping at Milwaukee’s storied Turf skatepark is a nice example, though theoretically this same photo could be snapped today. From Thrasher’s always-good photo annual, aka the Antwuan Dixon magazine, which has a few other photos from the glory days of the Turf along with this kid Tom Remillard doing a zany f/s rock-n-roll.


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