30. “Beez 3: Unusual Protocol,” 2007
The shadowy Midwestern Beez collective deconstructs the skateboard video, as well as the concept of skateboarding itself, and puts it back together in grotesque shapes of their own choosing via a technocolour-soaked nightmare that challenges (or occasionally outright assaults) the viewer. There were two Beez productions before this one, but the third installment takes things to fresh levels of depravity and ecstasy, often with a skateboard somewhere within the frame. Seeing this video for the first time can be a perspective-altering experience that people might not welcome or enjoy, at all, but the level of originality and sheer weirdness going on here are denied at one’s own peril. In ten years Beez will still have an unsettling and exhilarating effect on people.
29. “Inhabitants,” 2007
Serving more as a stylistic guidepost than the forward indicator that was “Mosaic,” Joe Castrucci’s second time around the Habitat mulberry bush was in some ways a little too straightforward and on-the-nose when it came to all the forestry footage and part-part-part-part sequencing. Skating- and presentation-wise it’s all pretty awesome though, and ages well in the way of DNA productions, with Steve Durante expanding upon ground earlier tilled by one Brian Wenning, Danny Garcia on the frontside shove nod, Fred Gall smashing buildings and Raymond Molinar spitting out tricks a little bit like a granola’d-out Henry Sanchez. Marc Johnson had SOTY in the bag for 2007, but if Thrasher was accepting of “Inhabitants” footage as a late-arriving 2008 entry, it’s sort of shocking Janoski wasn’t a heavier contender with this long time coming two-song ender section that highlights pretty much all the stuff he does good.
28. “Art Bars: Subtitles and Seagulls,” 2001
Would we refer to this period as third-generation Foundation? Far removed from its Rocco-roots, the gold-plated glory of the “Rolling Thunder” era and emerging from the non-starter “Duty Now For the Future” realignment, by 2001 Beagle and Swank had put together a pretty classic lineup that included Kris Markovich at the height of his second wind (third, if you count Prime?), a gap-minded Ethan Fowler, Daniel Shimizu at the pinnacle of his giving a shit about shit, Mike Ruscyzk no-comply flipping up stair-sets and the Magic F debut of back-tail champ Justin Strubing all mixed up in washed-out colors and grainy film footage. For Foundation the decade would approach but never really top the “Art Bars” period, eventually ceding most of this team to attitudes and lethargy before settling for the cookie-cutter glam of Corey Duffel.
27. “Naughty/Gnar Gnar,” 2007/2008
Mushing these two videos together is kind of cheating for the purposes of this type of nerdy list, but we’re gonna justify it because the originality at play re: production value, format, music, lineups and ah, yea, skating more than offsets the ham-handed attempt at a “big video” that was “Krooked Khronicles”… not a bad video by any means, but nothing close to what the KRK can scheme up. Blurring hazy nights and overcast days in New York, London, DC and parts unknown, Mark Gonzales and Sam Salganik cobble together the sort of unhinged collages that the Krooked camp is capable of, with a revolving cast of characters that fade in and out at the edges; these vids won’t go down as any kind of “Questionable”/”Virtual Reality” one-two punch but were a seriously soothing antidote after years of over-ramped slow-motion and the rising wave of HD productions.
26. “The Good Life,” 2006
Jimmy Lannon ought to be rich and pro by now, and probably if this video part had come out in 1996, he would be, but then again if wishes were ponys I’d be running a profitable dog food factory and Danny Renaud would still be embarrassing other pro skaters right now. Building upon the foundation of the Dango, Joe Perrin’s Killa crew drips sweat and liquor across the Florida police’s favorite locales, with hulkster Jon Newport, flippiter Nick Matlin and Renaud the dirt dog fresh off vacation from Habitat. Ryan Nix’s closer part is pretty heavy and bad-ass enough to ensure his name will pop up in “where is ___?” threads for years to come but maybe the best section is John Buchanan, eating the brown acid and switch laser flipping when Torey Puds was still getting flowed from Shortys – there is a switch 360 flip in this section that’s nearly worth the price of admission by itself.
25. “Menikmati,” 2000
Kinda easy to mock now for the indulgent intros and goony music and general dramatics, but it was a shiny new decade and the kid Arto Saari was frontside boardsliding 20-stair handrails, switch backside lipsliding and blazing super hard lines all over the place in Koston 1′s. Despite the archive-raiding Tom Penny retrospecticus, which was itself a pretty crafty move, the feature length and obvious hard work that dudes put into “Menikmati” raised the bar for the video age to follow and helped bring to an end the era of the profile pro, for better or worse. Ronnie Creager’s sore-thumb appearance wears a little bit better than some of the others but there’s still some interesting stuff to be seen all these years later, like Bob Burnquist switch frontside nosesliding a hubba, the concept of a contest/demo section, and the dork-trick rodeo at the end that now seems weirdly ahead of its time. The last trick in this video is Eric Koston’s backside noseblunt on the Bricktown rail, now sorta quaint, at the time pretty much unheard of.
24. “North,” 2002
Bearing far more weight than any production prominently featuring a giant beaver ought to, Jeremy Petit’s landmark “North” played a big part in revitalizing the Canadian scene for international purposes and pointed the camera toward lesser-knowns that weren’t hooking their fingers and polishing icey Chinese mahjong symbols. This video was also one of the early beneficiaries of message-board buzz, if I remember right, with a blitzkreig part that put Keegan Sauder back on the map and the first of many Russ Milligan sections to feature a serious-business switch bigspin flip. Tony Ferguson rolled gracefully toward retirement too but the gem was Ted Degros’s magical opener part, with precision flip tricks like the second coming of Toy-era Kerry Getz and that exquisite lightness of foot that still makes you wonder why he is not somewhere blowing up right now. If we were going to tackle the thankless task of assembling some “100 best parts” list of the past decade this one would probably rank in the top 20.
23. “Roll Forever,” 2005
This video stands in the long shadow of Real vids past, but holds up better than some others on the strength of a varied line-up and some future hall-o-famers getting comfortable with their own shit. Peter Ramdonetta for instance always left me sorta cold before hitting his stride around this period and pouring on the power-beast sauce with those kickflips. Darrell Stanton bic’ed his head and went absolutely bananas with the Clipper, and it was around this time that Dennis Busenitz and his mile-long powerslide skidmarks began amassing disciples for his current reign as underground king. Keith Hufnagel and Max Schaaf too. As a free full-length video with a generally good soundtrack, “Roll Forever” was for sure the high water mark of that year’s wave of promo DVDs, and unfortunately (or not) it was pretty much downhill from there…
22. “And Now,” 2008
By 2008 TWS had through a process of slow elimination mostly removed the aspects of their videos that weighed them down (lengthy intros, sometimes painful voiceovers, multiple montages) in favor of a more focused formula that was still the standard in production-value gloss and heavy rosters. This one will probably remain as the best of the second half of the ’00s, along with “Time to Shine” maybe – Holland and Ray lucked out with a grab bag of hot-shoes-of-the-moment in Malto, Nick Trapasso and David Gravette, with Matt Miller doing some more tech stuff and Kenny Hoyle nollie backside 180ing off buildings, while Richie Jackson offers enchanted boat tours on rivers of chocolate and pole-jams all the bad little boys and girls.
21. “Manik Promo,” 2007
When watching a video like “Fully Flared” or “Menikmati” it’s sometimes tempting around the 40-minute mark to concoct in your head super draconian rules for skateboard videos – must run no longer than 15 minutes, zero filler footage, minimal interludes and dead airtime, enough “artsiness” to keep it interesting, non-shitty music and surprises, that type of thing. The 2007 promo from the Pacific Northwest’s Manik checks off a lot of these boxes with a very tight four-part video that packs the tricks into its 11-minute runtime; of note are Mikey Burton’s warehouse run, Josh Anderson (now said to be fucking with Kayo Corp.) invoking the power of the Muska, and Jordan Sanchez’s light-speed kickflip catastrophe. While we’re on the topic, more videos maybe should consider incorporating classical music.
Tags: Beez, boiling cauldrons of molten lead, buildings, Double Dragon, Es, Foundation, Habitat, Krooked, Manik, North, Real, the Pacific Northwest, the skateboard company formerly known as Prime, Transworld, trees, Westside skateshop