Posts Tagged ‘Alex Olson’

Reality Rap f. Galactic Magnetar (Prod. by DJ Cattywampus)

April 5, 2014

garfields

In a testament to the reliable if rickety supply chain logistics tenuously connecting video-makers with skateshops, “Cherry” hardcopies now are safely installed upon brick and mortar shelves and therefore the real sport concerning Supreme’s not-quite-so-long-awaited inaugural offering can begin: guessing and tabulating what will ultimately become the video’s most-copped moves. Bucket hats, wrist casts and tucked-in beaters all are obvious contenders, as these must be. But of head-to-toe zoom-pans, Baker2G/Screw-mo interludes and the amorphous front-to-back montage-collage edit, a tantalizing prospect for aging pros who may wring more mileage from 38 seconds of footage by sprinkling it intermittently throughout a lengthier production, and potentially pulling another five seconds of screen time by tacking on a bailed flatground trick to the end of a line?

It is a dense movie. Toward the end of the video there is a clip that encapsulates the whole deal pretty well, wherein Tyshawn Jones and Nakel Smith, two amongst the new vanguard offered here by Supreme, chitchat briefly before Tyshawn Jones slides down his pants and bends over a Citi bike in pursuit of a clandestine whiz, while Nakel Smith runs, jumps on his board and gaps out to a beefy feeble grind, thereafter cheered from nearby benches by among others a pigtailed Alex Olson, apparently mid-cell phone call. Elsewhere the vid meanders through apartmentsful of idle kids, a fistfight, adolescent come-ons, an irate vagrant shouting and slapping himself repeatedly in the face and again Alex Olson, heated and manhandling an oldster who ignores a plea to scoot himself off a prized spot.

Alex Olson, who maintains one of industry’s more transparent pro regimes, recently broke down the episode and expressed some remorse, in what’s probably a reasonable manner for a subculture that is currently fumbling its way toward a place that has room for gay and transgender participants and even former rollerbladers. In some ways Olson’s Tumblr mea culpa was a far cry from the comparatively more sterilized walking-back statement that Nyjah Huston disseminated after his remarks that girls shouldn’t skate courted a certain amount of PC backlash. One could argue that for Alex Olson, who maintains his own sponsorship ties to international corporate concerns, the stakes were similar to whatever Nyjah Huston may have believed he faced, given that Alex Olson’s former Nike coworker Peter Hewitt was reportedly booted from his position for recounting a graphic and similarly un-PC poop scenario in an interview.

Dylan Rieder, who shares billing with Alex Olson to open the third act of ‘Cherry,’ ponders the conventional-wisdom concern with regard to ‘big’ companies’ intentions in skateboarding in an interview in this month’s TSM, namely, that said big companies may be fairweather profiteers that duck out the back door at the first sign of an early-90s style collapse:

”I appreciate everything Adidas and Nike do for skateboarding, and they pay some of these dudes really good money where they’ll be retiring off it, but how long is that going to last? They’re going to be in skateboarding until skateboarding is not cool anymore and then what is it?”

Alex Olson and “Cherry” impresario Bill Strobeck can speak from some experience here, given how Quiksilver’s abrupt exit from the skateboard-threads program freed both up to work on Supreme’s vid. The track record though suggests that the recent economic typhoon engulfing the industry has sunk more skateboarder-run ships, ranging from DVS’ bankruptcy, Es shoes’ apparent hibernation, the diminished status of players such as Adio, Ipath, Elwood, Vox, Circa, etc. (It can be debated elsewhere whether Gravis, whose skateboard footwear effort also is defunct, counts as an “independent” shoe outfit.)

Dylan Rieder’s shoe boss Keith Hufnagel, in a separate recent interview, ponders a more interesting question: Rather than exiting when times get tight, what if the big ones instead remain and consolidate their position, strengthening their hands for when economic sunrays again deign to shine on the biz and expanding their status as content/cultural gatekeepers?

“Yes, there are some pros these days that are able to make a great living off skateboarding, which is amazing, but it’s a sad day for skateboarding when skateboard footwear and the industry in general is becoming more and more controlled by these big corporate companies. The more accepted these big corporations become in skateboarding, the harder it is for the smaller, independent brands to compete and maintain a voice, which unfortunately results in the corporations having a large influence on the direction and shape of skateboarding.

…When skateboarders get kicked off teams for smoking weed, getting too drunk or just doing one stupid thing, then things have changed. With skateboarding becoming so commercialized, there are sacrifices to be made on both ends. The big companies have to realize what subculture they have gotten involved with and deal with everything that comes along with it. But skateboarding has also changed as it has become more mainstream. For better or for worse it’s just not what it was before. This discussion is for the older crew and maybe some of the young guys, but I don’t think most people care anymore or even understand.”

One could ponder whether Supreme, wielding its renowned reputation as a vibe-heavy tastemaker, played a meaningful part in Nike’s third and successful attempt to develop a “skate footprint,” paving the way for various of its multinational rivals to follow suit and wage blistering combat for shoe-wall real eatate and market shares? It’s debatable, similar in fashion to the true origin of time itself, but it’s interesting to look at the unvarnished street scenes afoot in “Cherry” from this perspective, especially since it isn’t like Supreme had to do a video, much less what will for sure be one of the great ones of the year that lingers over the raw and illegal, same as “Sabotage3,” the House video and so on.

Will “Cherry” inspire a shop-video dynasty in the pattern of the hallowed FTC vids? Has Bill Strobeck achieved the to-date pinnacle of HD skate videomaking? What cards may Anthony Pappalardo have yet up his sleeve? Who will be the first to lampoon the inset image with something like a grinning Fred Gall in place of Camille Row? Is Fucking Awesome off the hook as far as videos go for a minimum of four or five years?

Alex Olson’s Braids Go Hard Dudes

March 6, 2014

fred_grandy

Time was, a young man headed west to probe the frontier, seek fortune and treasure, and just maybe discover a small piece of the American Dream along the way. This was the inspiring tale behind such 1980s computer game franchises such as ‘Tha Oregon Trail’ and 1990s escapades in skateboard distributorship involving chiefly American Dream Unit, but the ensuing years have seen several stars realign and scripts flipped such that Alex Olson, heir to a Dagger dynasty and budding entrepreneur, leaves the Southern California desert basin that raised him in search of a more-inspired industry pathway to be had in New York City, known to some as the City of Lights.

Of a piece with the ‘classic era’ tricks and sensibility that helped land a young Alex Parker Olson on the cover of that now de-funked Skateboarder mag, the breakaway Crailtapper’s brand vision involves pushing skating outside its corporate and cultural comfort zone. However, a couple decades removed from the racially/sexually/violently charged graphics of the World heyday, Alex Olson’s personal vision quest seems to revolve in large part around some of the few remaining industry taboos to be had: the Italian tongue, rave music and a more malleable view of sexual orientations that earned him a ‘Skate or Bi-Curious’ T-Eddy award. Is he or isn’t he? What’s up with the phone number? Will the market continue to bear premium prices for fancy t-shirts? Is Bianca Chandon what’s hot in the streets?

Alex Olson recently divulged some of the venture’s spiritual touchstones when crafting the company with raw mindpower.

AO: I think I had mentioned to Brian (Anderson) before 3D was thought up that it would be really cool to name a company after a boat.

Belying Alex Olson’s beguiling cat-and-mouse branding game is a quiet assertion of aggression via his recent hairstyle, as captured within some Thrasher photos. The embrace of pigtail braids not only pushes the grand Alex Olson envelope that much further, it also harkens back to 1990s rap hairstyles sported by game-related legends ranging from Snoop Doggy Dogg to Wish Bone, Ice T and that other redheaded stranger, Willie Nelson. Alex Olson is challenging the industry to keep pace with his assertive moves, even as he challenges up and comers to match his vertically oriented wallrides, absorb his rave sounds and sport spotless white linens on tough city streets.

AO: I wonder if pigtails will come in as the new style.

TWS: You launched it bro.

AO: It would be funny if everyone had pigtails (Laughs.)

Is the onetime APO nonchalantly carving out his own lane or risking a multi-car pileup by shifting gears on fickle hard- and softgoods consumers one too many times? Will the Supreme vid answer all or just unspool further questions, like an unhelpful Cheshire Cat that is also bearing coveted Scott Johnston clips? Will Bianca Chandon’s party line grow in stature to one day rival They Might Be Giants’ ‘Dial-a-Song’ service for domestic phoneholders? 

Technology Rolls Steadily Forward, And As We Contemplate The Coming Girl/Choco Video, We Contemplate Also The Idea Of Being Steamrolled Or Jumping Into The Steamroller’s Cab Alongside Ty Evans

July 9, 2012

The 1990 “Brady Bunch” reunion/reboot is recalled as a triumph of broadcast television, surpassing lofty expectations set by the artistry of the original series and hauling in ratings that shamed and embarrasses the Superbowls and Little League World Series of that day. The fog of time and extremely singular nature of the event have obscured though the massive risks taken by the artisans and business hounds who plotted it all, with plenty of chewed fingernails and nervously cracked knuckles early on as decades-deep devotees feared and fretted whether that long-ago magic could be rekindled or whether the whole endeavor would amount to so much bodily fluid sprinkled atop a beloved legacy, never again to be un-sprinkled.

Did the Crailtappers pluck Ty Evans from the TWS camp with the knowledge that he would over the next decade bear on his shoulders the burden and associated emotional message-board baggage of carrying forward a video franchise regarded as helping to set the high bar for the 1990s’ great video rethink? Only Rick Howard’s personal psychic knows for sure, but pluck they did, extending into the 00’s a second rethink driven not by any particular evolution in craft, such as the embrace of the streets as an ipecac-like reset button following the excess of the neon-and-spandex drenched vert era, but instead by the gradual availability of cheaper/better technology and software that within a few years erased much of the distance between Jamie “Mouse” Mosberg and any hometown heroes dredging their local skatepark hip for Youtube-ready NBDs that can involve front-foot impossibles.

Ty Evans’ output suggests a subscription to the school of thought that says “what got you there will keep you there,” in this case referring to a deep, loving embrace of the newest camera models, rigged filming gizmos, lots of effects and filler shots and emotive techno music. Transworld’s Evans-helmed productions had all these in spades of course plus some other tricks including the sometimes-attempted but never well-advised fast-forward/rewind motion in Danny Gonzalez’s “Reason” part, as well as the voiceovers, an interesting innovation that somehow wore out its welcome after 10 years. Going with Ty Evans was an intriguing look for Girl/Choco at the time, given that vids like “Mouse” never had much in the way of slow-mo (perhaps because they’d seen the lackluster results elsewhere at the time) but also cuz somebody reading between the lines could take the old pogo-stick skit in “Goldfish” as an indictment of the high-pressure, high-production regime that dudes in “Fully Flared” wearily recounted after it came out five years back.

Around 2000 though you could say Girl was shopping for a new identity, putting on the gap and rail-minded youngsters who would constitute the torch picker-uppers of “Yeah Right” and “Fully Flared.” It’s tough though, for someone who saw the influence wielded by Carroll/Koston/Howard/Mariano/et al in the 1990s to have felt the same impact from the next-genners with the possible exception of Paul Rodriguez or Rick McCrank, and efforts to extend the super-team rep into the tech-gnar era brought on a mixed spread of amateurs through the Torrance offices that included Jereme Rogers.

For a company whose founding principles included not taking themselves or their skating too serious the post-Modus presentation sounded a little off-key too–the Jonze/Howard sensibility was still there in some of the skits, but especially come “Fully Flared” that stuff took a back seat to high-definition cameras, elaborate filming contraptions and slow-motion explosions. Myself I never had any real gripe with the recorded skating material, but the sanctimonious way it got put together — behold, I give unto you this trick, slowed down and then sped up and then slowed down again; below these bros, with a follow-up high-five and/or running and throwing down the board as a segue to the next clip — seemed miles away from powersliding down the yellow lane-divider lines. Here we will submit that it was no coincidence that the technology-embracing, filler-friendly and emotion-emphasizing directorship of Ty Evans dovetailed with a high-water mark in technical ledge skating that’s inspired some of the current wave of “power” skating by way of backlash, and the Crailtap camp are fans like the rest of us, investing in tall-sock wearers Raven Tershy, Elijah Berle, Alex Olson and Vincent Alvarez over the last couple years.

How then does this dynamic, call it Pappalardo-Flared vs Mariano-Flared, inform the cobbling-together of the coming Girl/Choco feature “Pretty Sweet”? The recently released preview suggests the answer is, not much, or maybe not much different than before. We are previewed some HD video, solid bro-ing footage*, some real painfully slow mo, some emotive techno music** and, if past performance is any future indicator, a release date that is prone to being pushed back. Interestingly, though, if Ty Evans continues to stick to what got him here the likely complainers such as myself will face an interesting conundrum similar to those who wish for “The Simpsons” to be cancelled in defense of the first nine seasons’ legacy — the era of Ty Evans-led Crailtap video productions at this point would at least in terms of years far outstrip what old-timers regard as the classic age, steadily shrinking in the rear-view mirror..

*Major fan of the doubles action, btw
**Bear in mind that while we grouse about emotive techno music, and with good reason, blanket criticisms of Crailtap video productions fronted by Ty Evans were rendered null and void forevermore after “Fully Flared” included a song from the Mannie Fresh solo CD.

We Travel Back In Time To The Year 2006 For A Cautionary Tale About Beef, Wisdom and Standing Your Ground (That Also References Big Punisher [RIP 1971 - 2000])

July 23, 2011

It was the fall of 2006. Americans were marking one year since the devastating hurricane-floods in the South, the unlikely St. Louis Cardinals stunned the baseball world by winning it all over the Detroit Cardinals, and Shawn Carter was laying the groundwork for an un-retirement by racing autos in beer commercials and, later, selling beef. Several months beforehand, Cam’ron had twice done the once-unthinkable in one swoop, releasing a sort of shitty album and targeting his former boss Jay-Z in an extended dis record that made suggestive remarks and accused Jay-Z of copying raps off of others. The then-retired rap music mogul ultimately crushed Cam with a surprisingly effective weapon, silence. The message was that the “Purple Haze” emcee did not rise to his level.

Flash forward to the fall-time, when Jay-Z is prepping his return. Following attacks by ascendant Killa protege Jim Jones, Jay-Z threw caution to the wind and recorded a response over the by-then acclaimed Jim Jones single “We Fly High” — an eyebrow-raising move that proved catastrophic when Jimmy hours later utterly buried Jay-Z by basically giggling and randomly commenting over S. Carter’s version, turning in some rhymes and a mothballed Juelz Santana verse and general trash-talking. Jay-Z went on to release some albums that sorta diminished his legacy while marrying Beyonce and befriending the guy from Coldplay and other celebs, elevating his net worth to nearly $1 billion.

Yet as he lies asleep on his solid gold bed, next to his megastar-model spouse, fingers aching from counting his riches, belly full of expensive hamburgers, you have to wonder if his eyes remain open, teeth grinding as his mind echoes with Jim Jones’ comments about Big Pun whacking him in the head with a Cristal bottle in a club all those years ago, and wondering if things could have turned out different.

And to everything, turn turn turn

June 6, 2008




Seems weird that there’s this big pro-board shuffle right smack between the ASR’s, but what the fuck right? Summer’s here. Time for the young bucks to live it up while they’re young, time for old dudes like Klein to have their “Summer of Klein” complete with cheese block and fridge chair before… well I guess before going back to the same shit he’s been doing for these past 10 years that hasn’t really involved much skating.

The big news of course was at Girl, where every day’s a party in this post “Fully Flared” era. They throw you a surprise shindig for getting on the team, Guy Mariano skates with you all the time, and you get to go on vacation with Frank Gerwer. I mean, Jesus Christ. So what to do, what to do, with three super-ams that are no doubt getting offers left and right, two of them already opting for bigger shoe paychecks, all fresh off video parts… bite the bullet and turn em all pro at once I suppose. Kareem, in his infinite wisdom, pulled the same shit with P-rod and Mikey Taylor, if you’ll recall, and they were kind enough to sell a few City Stars boards before jumping ship. So hopefully everybody over at the Crailtap camp enjoys the hugs and rainbows while they last.

Turning in his pro board is Jeremy Klein, and let me tell you, this news shocked me to the core. For a few years there I was mad that Klein still had a board out. “He’s milking it!” I would seethe to myself late at night, fingers clutched tight around some issue of TWS. And it was true! How many years did he ride that terrible “Destroying America” video, which stretched his and Heath’s brilliant “The End” part to an interminable length? And he barely skated in that. Now, I understand he’s got a part in the Birdhouse video that came out last fall, which I haven’t seen because nobody saw it. (Quote from Tony Hawk at the premiere: “We’re still here.”) Which is partly why it’s such a surprise, this retirement. You’d think with a new video part, he’d have justification to keep his board on shelves for another five years, at least. And shit, he didn’t even need justification. If Jeremy Klein, your favorite asshole pro’s favorite asshole pro, can’t milk a video part for 10-plus years, who can? In a way, I gained far more respect for Klein in the last few years than I ever had for him when he was ripping in the early 90s, simply because he was pushing the envelope so much further than anyone else in terms of keeping his career running on fumes.

Anyway. At DLX there’s rumblings of Van Wastell getting a board this fall, which is kind of overdue in a Pappalardo-Wenning sort of way, when you look at Bobby Worrest. I mean, I’m a big Worrest fan, but I can see why a Van Wastell fan would be bummed that it’s taken so long for the dude to get the pro nod. In sadder news it appears Flip may retire Ali’s board next fall. I won’t moralize on that one, other than to point out that Flip had Penny’s back through all those years in the wilderness, but nothing’s certain yet I suppose. Flip site says Boulala’s up for parole in two years, at which point he’ll hopefully be back in some kind of skating form. In the meantime, here’s what I imagine Australian prison is like.

Addendum: Here’s Alex Olson’s part in “Gnar Gnar” which to me is still the best shit he’s put out.


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