Archive for November, 2010

Does Paul Rodriguez’s iTunes Video Part Deserve An Elusive 10.0 Rating?

November 24, 2010

A number of years back me and a buddy of mine engaged in an epic argument, spanning a few hours and two bars, over whether Paul Rodriguez was in “the top five” or not. Think this was post-“Yeah Right,” around the early days of Plan B. My whole thing was: this dude is heavily gifted skill-wise but not pushing the envelope in terms of innovation or doing things in new ways. The buddy’s view was that I was a fucking idiot. Years later I like to think we were both right.

Hangovers fade, winter turns into spring and injured feelings are soothed with the balm of liquor. But generally my feeling on Paul Rodriguez hasn’t shifted a great deal, as the video parts and corporate sponsorship deals have piled up. Here you have a dude who immediately attained Next Big Thing status upon his arrival on the rosters of super-teams and TWS vids, but even snagging milestones like designing the first among several disposable Nike SB pro-models and posing for the only TSM cover to make Dave Carnie feel like a child molestor, it seems like something on-board has been missing, sort of like he’s yet to really arrive.

Fairly or not P-Rod more than probably any other hot-shoe am has had to evolve under near-constant comparisons to/oversight of the legendary ones like Kareem Campbell, who ensured the rolling of more than a few eyes by purposely scoring the kid’s “Street Cinema” stepping-out to “Want You Back,” with all the subtlety of an “Enter The Pu-Tang” ad. Or, Eric Koston making a PRJr-shaped spot on Girl/Es/Four-star, which you can’t say he didn’t deserve, but set up a certain amount of backlash when he inevitably left to do his own thing.

Ten years after his switch heelflip inspired hushed wonder from Atiba Jefferson, and he’s got a beard and a kid and an ill-advised foray into acting under his belt, Paul Rodriguez apparently still is toiling under the same ol’ comparisons to the Kostons and Tony Hawks (see: new Transworld). Not that he seems to mind, and his ode to Ronnie Creager comes off endearingly genuine, but I look at somebody like a Chris Cole who’s got at least as much skill and achievements over a similar time frame, and people generally don’t present him through this spectrum of greats that’ve gone before.

Tony Hawk invented numerous tricks and named one after Madonna. Eric Koston ran with a decade-long string of blockbuster rail sorcery (nollie noseblunt-backside noseblunt-nollie heelflip noseslide-nollie backside noseblunt-360 flip noseblunt) that justified de-facto closer positioning in most of the big productions where he featured. Getting back to the epic bar argument, this is where you could draw a line between the crop’s very creamiest versus the pros that can just do every trick and add a couple more stairs or an extra kickflip.

Which all leads up to Paul Rodriguez’s $3 iTunes part with the Kanye West song, because amidst the usual ridiculous skills the guy displays there are a few — chiefly the switch b/s noseblunt, a real live cover worthy move at a name spot, but also the nollie flip 270 switch b/s tailslide* and the fakie varial heelflip nosegrind — that threaten to set up shop at that tip-top tier of ultimate board bros. Not sure if all this puts him on par with them what he gets compared to in interview intros or if he’s still next up, but switch backside noseblunting a sizable rail does go some way toward glossing over the whole Target deal and Nascar fitted.

*labeled properly dudes?

If Grant Taylor Or Brandon Westgate Win Skater Of The Year, Will Leo Romero Evolve To Become Skateboarding’s Albert Gore?

November 10, 2010

If I learned anything watching the mildly psychedelic new Toy Machine production, it is that Leo Romero plays fast and loose with the laws that govern speed physics and US tax code, to such a degree that he must be branded a rebel. It is proven true by his moustache and cowboy hats. His taste for going fast and an eye for scale re: obstacle selection have turned him into one of the era’s most recognizable and bloggable pros, solidifying market share.

Yet the Leo era still harbours a gap not easily crossed by the four urethane wheels of a man. Can he capture the heart of skating’s loudest (and more or less historically accurate) Nor-cal critics, alongside the symbolic trophy and free beer a SOTY title promises? Will he reign in glory forevermore alongside Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Danny Way, or trod into his bank-skating autumn years an overlooked icon such as the Muska, pressedganged into conquering the LA record-playing business or New York spray paint art in lieu of the Phelper’s undying embrace.

Much like the Muska of yesteryear, Leo Romero currently is “in the groove” and securing trick-footage the likes of which will not be easily replicated. And they are dangerous tricks. You wish for a second angle on the final crooked grind of “Brainwash” to better judge how the rail kinks just so, but are left wondering. He forgoes the certainty of a motorcycle tow-in and instead just pushes as hard/many times as possible, maybe making the jump or maybe not. He throws himself onto deeply committed frontside feeble grinds that might wrap a lesser ‘boarder’s hardgoods around the metal pole. There is an ease of movement even when trying the otherwise nonsensical, like the up-rail tricks in the Emerica vid, that surfaces also in the mildly technical items he throws out now and then (nollie b/s heelflip off the curb and hydrant switch heelflip, “Brainwash,” b/s nosegrind nollie bigspin heelflip out, “Stay Gold” (even tho the sequence contained that one hilarious spread-eagle frame)).

Like Al Gore, Leo Romero has toiled in ditches to get where he is, flopping over handrails and spilling onto the sidewalk part of the job, but with the biggest popularity contest of the season now before him all chips are on the table. Speculation arises whether a shocking 2010 SOTY loss could drive him into a wilderness period, farming a beard and rethinking the whole reason God made him Senator of Tennessee, known to some as the “Volunteer” state. Perhaps he would try his hand at carpentry, or become a welterweight prize-fighter seeking redemption among a colorful cast of ne’er-do-wells, or feed the poor or create a book filled with detailed drawings of anatomy.

Two of Jake Phelps’ other musings for the title have been mentioned but a more plausible GWB-figure could maybe be found in team-mate Nick Trapasso, a renowned mumbler and word-mangler that has glided to a lofty position atop the skate heap with seeming ease and not a lot of stressing. Not breaking a sweat really this year, but Trapasso did rate the closer section in Thrasher’s still-fantastic “Prevent This Tragedy” and has impressed with what appears like an endless Santa-Claus sack of tricks (in “Brainwash” there’s a switch inward heelflip outta nowhere, and a nice nollie noseslide which has become one of those you suddenly don’t see often enough). A smoker/joker/mid-night toker who would be my pick for this year’s dark horse, if that counts for anything after the Chris Cole twopeat caught me completely off guard.

A Blog Post Involving Fred Gall And The Antichrist That Is Only Tangentially Related To Lou Metal

November 1, 2010

A decade into its existence as the leaf/animal/aeroplane-inspired offshoot to the comparatively antiseptic Workshop sect, Habitat appears to finally have embraced the chaotic, cannibalistic nature of, erm, nature itself. Beneath the wet foliage and gentle acoustic guitar strums lurks a feral beast as likely to gnaw away its own leg as hop a bump-to-bar, a theme that Midwestern DNA zookeeper Joe Castrucci has chosen to explore through the composition of the team itself.

David Lee Roth, a noted man of the earth, has famously observed that Van Halen may not have rocked so hard/loudly were it not for persistent tensions between its song and dance man and Eddie VH. Castrucci has learned this secret too and now is exploiting the idea in an effort to produce compelling skate footage and reclaim market share from rivals Element and Organika. Recall the group sigh that emerged from the Lakai camp following the “Fully Flared” premiere, or the hedonistic, RV-powered excess of Osiris’s “The Storm” tour. But post-“Origin,” from the hallows of the Habitat camp there is a primal shriek, gnashing of teeth, maybe some rending of flesh:

Austyn Gillette:
Daryl got on basically because Stefan and I don’t want to talk about that situation. No one is getting harshed to get on anymore. It’s easy nowadays.

At any point during filming, did you get so frustrated watching Silas skate that you wanted to pull a Tanya Harding?
I don’t skate with Silas. I don’t get along with him too well. He’s bitter and I’m not bitter and we don’t get along together. We really don’t work well together and we’ve both accepted it.

Kerry Getz:
I didn’t know Austin and Silas are far from being BFFs.
There’s a lot going on over there. I don’t know; that’s some West Coast stuff, man. I’m so far out of all that stuff like who is fighting with who, who hates who, who is talking about who. I just stay on my side of the campfire and shut up. I just recently heard that Austyn and Daryl don’t like each other and I never knew that. Now you’re telling me Austyn and Silas don’t like each other. Someone has issues over there; just keep me out of it. It’s high school games.

Kerry Getz attained silverback status some time ago and is entitled to grumbling rights but it’s hard not to read some brinksmanship into AG’s commentary, even post-ESPN edit — he worked hard on his two-song second-part and it shows, though this site continues to harbour reservations around general execution (someone wiser equated his aesthetic recently to Apple Computers), he can be reasonably argued as having the best section in Origin between the sidewalk-to-sidewalk frontside flip, the feather-light b/s smith grind b/s 180 and that brick-cracker ollie at the Brooklyn Banks. Then the well-telegraphed alley-oop 5050 run, which I bet Jason Dill cheered when/if he ever saw this vid.

Trimming down probably mountains of footage helped Daryl Angel’s part as this dude to me still makes tricks look so easy as to detract from their actual hardness–thinking here of stuff like the switch pole-jam-wallie and the gap to feeble grind, although you can see dangers in the humongous switch hill-bomb jump and the final handrail jammer. Also a fan of how the nollie backside 180 is moving up the ladder in terms of a power trick, with Dylan Angel launching it down a longish stair-set and Marius Syvanen taking it over a high bar — there’s some Nordic tinges of AVE to that dude’s part and he’s got a related nollie b/s tailslide in there that’s for sure praise-worthy, kind of wish he worked in more of his really effortless and almost bizarre-looking manual stuff like he had in that Canada tour clip.

Notable new guy, Mark Suciu, brings a relaxed-with-some-stink style that sorta reminded me of a young Danny Renaud. All the footage where he’s wearing the five-panel hat is pretty much golden, specifically, the Gideon Choi-slide and the backside tailslide on Pat Duffy’s kinked rail. Al Davis’s part should’ve been longer as well as Tim O’Connor, to whom you can apply that complaint for basically every appearance since Photosynthesis, Steve Durante crushes at Pulaski with no set-up time and a separate switch wallie that threatens to shut down the video right there. This is nearly the best part in the video and had it incorporated some of this footage would’ve been perhaps the best one all year.

IRS scofflaw Fred Gall leads a pretty good delivery from the old bros that includes a bluntslide on a handrail, proving that beer drinking helps you. Danny Garcia’s switch backside tailslide variants are gathering rust but he still sails mightily over a rail, Stefan Janoski indulges his taste for switch k-grinds and nollie frontside flips, Silas Baxter-Neal bounds over handicap ramps and employs a “Welcome to Hell” ender that deeper mines his no-frills brand of solid trick-landing, when he’s not wintering in Illinois or rubbing Gillette the wrong way for whatever reason. Bryan Herman cameos for the ride-out shot.

Guru Khalsa’s spaced-out quiet storm is the real ender ender though, completing one of the best-looking SSBSTS’s of this new decade and incorporating maybe the most outlandish “psychadelic” image in “Origin” by way of an uncredited appearance from Christian Slater. It took me some years but feels like I’ve fully warmed to this dude’s sometimes off-kilter, sometimes classically ’90s boarding (the big b/s 5050, vs the frontside tailslide ahead of the f/s blunt). When do you see dudes jump up on a switch 5050 like that, when do you see dudes push eleven times for a trick but still not seem in a real big hurry.

Bookending all this discord and occasional moments of quiet tranquility is archival footage that reminds of the talent that slipped away for one reason or another (Renaud, Raymond Molinar with generally impeccable trick choices) and others like Ed Selego or Mark Appleyard where you could forget they were on at all. Still not sure what the thinking was here, beyond vague celebration of Habitat’s inaugural decade-long offering — there were things said like they wanted to re-use footage to music where they could get the rights, or incorporate clips from dudes like Wenning or Pluhowski that maybe don’t rate as #habitat for the current generation, but do a couple montages do the trick, or is this a further, more glorious-er mess left for us to unravel, akin to the mysterious spaghetti squash.


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