In a time of faster and bigger Jake Donnelly out in San Francisco has been quietly making a case for smarts and finesse, putting together a snappy flick with some spring and light-footed landings. All his recent footage suggests he’s got a knack for running some of the best looking tricks, like backside smith grinds on ledges, frontside blunts, nollie backside noseblunt slides, b/s tailslides of course, a good hardflip, et cetera. His part in the Real vid, which early on includes one of the more boss backside shifty kickflips put out lately, is not available for free via Youtube or whatever and really needs to be seen with the bouncy Too Short song to get the full impact, so pasted above is an Adidas clip made by Dan Wolfe that has a really high switch kickflip over a table and a good manual trick. (Note: link to this clip now here.) No doubt the Real part, red bottoms and pom-pom beanies and all, got me more motivated to skate than any other one I seen this year.
Archive for December, 2011
A lot of people did harder tricks and pocketed more soda-pop contest money in 2011 than did Atlanta hatee Grant Taylor but as a Skater of the Year he covers all the critical bases… fast-moving and fearless with little regard for private property and embodying the speed/simple/all-terrain concept that drove a lot of peoples’ skating this year. It seemed like Grant Taylor was doing his floaty frontside ollies, swilling domestic beers and bleeding all over the place in 2011 and the chips all got cashed in with two video parts at the end of the year, but I wound up watching the Thrasher-exclusive one a little bit more partly because of the seven frontside 5-0s, partly because the street edge seemed a little sharper, partly just because of the line at that one humpy spot in China that says up a lot about this dude all by itself. Then the windowsill 5-0 and the boardslide through the curvy handrails with a gap, this dude goes full tilt.
Ancient cavemen surfers were known to coin a phrase, which went something like “when you catch a wave, ride it as long as you can.” Flip knew it, Plan B knew it, Powell for a while knew it and now Bay Stater Brandon Westgate. These past couple years Westgate caught a hell of a wave that may or may not have crested yet, depending on his next moves and how you personally rank homestyle hammers such as tiling a bathroom. For a few different reasons I responded more to this Emerica part released just three or four months past his vast and crushing opener for the “Stay Gold” vid, maybe because it was shorter, more condensed and potent, maybe just because of the last trick. He’s still got his teeth sunk into the San Francisco hills and I think this is some of the most impressive skateboardering this year from a physics perspective, partly cuz you never see a car or motorcycle pulling him up to those bump/bars. Also do we agree at this point to elevate the 360 flip over the bar to the Hall of Kings where it can sit alongside Josh Kalis’ one at the end of “Photosynthesis”?
The unscientific layman’s catchphrase known as the “law of averages” teaches us that random outliers become less frequent when spread out over a large enough sampling size. Projecting the 2007 estimate of 13 million U.S. skateboarders, then reported have grown at a 10% clip for each of the three previous years, to rise at a similar rate in an economic climate hostile to hockey equipment purchases puts us around a very rough 19 million today, a crowd that stands in constant danger of tipping into an echo chamber of stock kickflip flicks and natural-transition pivot fakies. For this reason handcrafted tricks like Neen Williams’ heelflips and backside tailslides and backside noseblunt slides (especially to fakie) stand out that much more from the din and Baker’s Deathwish imprint made the most of the dude’s focused mindset by using his awesome footage to anchor their Shake Junt video (Dustin Dollin made a pretty ripping return too). Extra bonus street points awarded for elevating the frontside pop-shove it to ender status, one of the bigger ones I can recall ever seeing. Neen Williams’ skating is well handled by the Baker Boys editing squad who get that really good tricks oftentimes look best without all that varnish and lacquer. Feel like the filming here in particular is on point, something I don’t notice all that much usually, or maybe it’s just how much this dude is killing it here and there.
Also noticing now that we’ve got three nollie varial flips in this list which certainly merits a really really long think piece all on its own.
Look how much can happen in 20 years — Bill Clinton, the Backstreet Boys and the Atkins diet all rose to power and faded, as did Peter Smolik and Tom Petty in their own respective ways. If you woulda told me about 20 years back that “Last Dance With Mary Jane” one day would be used in what I’m assuming is only a semi-ironic nature to soundtrack a skate part, my 1993 self would’ve sneered and spat, but here we are, Smolik cast as a Southern Californian kingpin of some description whose board company has managed to nurture some of the heaviest hitting kids to come up. Tyler Surrey’s been marinating away for a few years but officially blows doors at the end of this “Sk8Mafia Video” a few months back, putting to work a switch flip that looks of the same bloodline as Arto’s and Nick Jensen’s and Mike Mo’s. My favorite tricks in this part (which kinda looks like one long careless summer in Europe) are the switch flip nose manual on the slanty block, the nollie heelflip over the bench, that nollie backside noseblunt of course and the last trick which really is worthy of Smolik in all the best ways. Still sort of hate the Tom Petty but watching Tyler Surrey cruise is worth it.
Habitat might’ve been guilty of playing to type a little bit in putting on Brian Delatorre even going beyond the easy ponytail jokes, but if his MIA closer part didn’t goose his career trajectory somehow than things may have been in much worse shape for 2011 than they otherwise were. There’s maybe a handful of dudes out there taking the same sort of risks this guy does on hills and it’s always cool to see dudes who go for the gusto on set-up tricks, like here where he’s nollie flipping or nollie backside 180′ing up the curb before blasting off whatever handicap ramp. It’s nice to see use of the nollie varial flip down a gap and the way he keeps swinging at some well-worn SF spots. The ender fits that spot like a glove too.
Remember being drawn to rewatch this part because of the meandering street lines, especially the ones taped at night. These are the type of clips that capture that free and sorta sneaky feeling that I think Brian Anderson was getting at in the “Modus Operandi” voiceover, but with less soundstage strings attached, just pushing your board down some empty street doing tricks without having to worry too much about cars or pedestrians or cops or running out of pavement. Before this clip I didn’t pay Evan Smith a lot of mind but this is a well put together section that’s judicious about filming a few good rail tricks at good angles and throwing in odd curveball, like the ender. This part is a good bookend to the Zach Funk one in terms of spots and I like to mute the volume and put on “Planet Caravan.”
TWS ran something billing Wes Kremer as a sorta Tom Penny heir, maybe down to the giant switch frontside flip and transition flippin and general sort of loopiness, but his first line here suggests he’s a little bit too hyper to fit the mold, what with running off the curb all cockeyed and whipping his board around and beelining for the red curb. What keeps this part really re-watchable I think is the range of different tricks he does on different shit — to roll the TWS idea further you could say he goes Muska on the hubba ledges, Reynolds on the gaps, Duffy on the moistened rail, maybe Jimmy Lannon on the hydrant? Between this section and his stuff in the Sk8Mafia video (watch the line at 3:01) Wes Kremer had a big year for sure and that pop shove-it noseslide out of the bowl in the TWS part still looks magical to me.
(Re-edited part, all I could find on the internet, starts around 2:05)
Colin McKay is either one of the most underrated skaters of the past howevermany years or among the most overrated, depending on whether you’re looking at technical transition trails blazed or some tricks-to-pro-model-product formula. But in his time he was (is?) a real wizard with lip tricks and new vert kid Alex Perelson conjures some of those same chills in his part in the Real video — which counts as some sort of honorable rebellion even in the current ATV era, just by being such a ramp-heavy section with the superlative topping out at “super” rather than “mega.” But there’s some magic in seeing a Real deck rotate over coping and Alex Perelson can sail a stalefish or turn out twisty lip contortions like a kickflip frontside noseslide or a half-cab 5-0 revert over a channel. Also does a backside tailslide shove-it in a pool, which is saying something. They don’t make a lot of video parts like this anymore.