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:
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.
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.
Tags: airing greivances, Animal House, Austyn Gillette, bitterness, Chris Nieratko, Executive Producer Jake Burton, EXPN, foilage, Guru Khalsa, Habitat, Mark Suciu, Ohio, Origin, Silas Baxter Neal, Twitter feeds