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.
Posts Tagged ‘Sk8Mafia’
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.
If anybody needed proof of the youtube-era truism that every kid these days can do every trick, the Sk8Mafia video does the job, where you’ll find a kids in freely rippling tee shirts mapping flip tricks out of nosegrinds and other once-unspeakable combos now rendered ABD in and around San Diego. All that puts a bigger premium on the curveball pickup of Javier Sarmiento, a dude who for this site’s phantom adbucks stood at the pinnacle of streetstyle about a decade back, probably peaking near the time of the still-quality Can’t Stop part and even today you don’t see that many folks nollie flipping out of f/s noseblunt slides (present company excluded).
Sarmiento’s hiring by Peter Smolik to endorse Sk8Mafia brand goods serves the planet by plucking the dude from the type of obscurity only achieved by a European pro whose link to the US hardgood media markets goes out in classic whimper fashion. But it’s a little bit topsy turvy also, like Howard Roark going to work for Peter Keating or lending your dad money to secure a boat loan. Perhaps Smolik’s greatest attribute is that he has never apologized for his role as the nucleus of “The Storm.” Sarmiento back then was working in refinements but in the years since “YeS” it seems like he’s clicked on maybe too few Pappalardo links and too many posted by, er, Sk8Mafia. Like nollie bigspin flipping or nollie kickflip 360′ing (?) out of crooked grinds, tricks that don’t seem worth the effort when you look at the way he can still crack a frontside flip over a bench, switch b/s tailslide backside flip out, edge off a frontside crooked grind in the middle of a ledge, or (have the vision to include a clip of Rodrigo TX blasting) a switch hardflip off a whoop-de-whoop in camouflage pants. It’s all mostly quibbling though with the main point that Javier Sarmiento’s still skating and still getting support after Es went into the can — Sk8Mafia’s posted the whole vid for free on their website.
Time was, actual skating – the “putting in work” popularized by labor movement mavens Rob & Big – won you absolutely no career points in the pro skateboarding game, and keeping a low profile was an art best cultivated in darkened Los Angeles clubs or the occasional “rave party” (as the kids called them back then). The advent of the video age, coinciding with cash money once again pouring into skating, changed that, with the likes of Brad Staba (who’s successfully kept work-putting-in at bay for most of the last decade) bemoaning the unending pursuit of footage back in “Modus.” The distressing humanity of a Super 8 tour in the “Final Flare” documentary is enough to make me feel for the Carrolls and Howards and maybe even Marianos (who more or less perfected profiling-as-career) who are old enough to remember a time when every day wasn’t spent feverishly filming, and YouTube hadn’t yet reduced the shelf life of video parts to a matter of weeks.
But here we are. Kellen James is one of these young Turks with the energy and know-how to film a six minute part of retardedly hard tricks (switch f/s bluntslide, switch f/s smith grind, cabellerial b/s tailslide bigspin etc etc), and also confident enough the skating will hold people’s interest that he sets it all to a kind of tuneless Jay-Z mash-up. With everybody from Stefan Janoski to Jimmy Cao turning in multi-song parts maybe this is what you need to do to get peoples’ attention, but it helps that James has the firepower of a Sean Malto and a powerful beard to boot. To seal the deal, why not pump out another few minutes of tricks. Hardest working dude this year for sure, if you count skating for Peter Smolik as working and not some sort of bizarre daily pleasure cruise.
While MJ kind of pushed it to and past the outer limits last year, there’s something to be said for video parts that you can kind of get lost in, where by the time they’re over you’re remembering tricks here and lines there and for a while each re-watch is a process of discovery (or something). Mike Carroll has made a few of these parts, Lavar in Trilogy of course, and a lot of lesser skaters.
Time will judge this new part from freshly minted Sk8Mafia pro Kellen James, who pushes the six-minute mark and strings together enough crazy tricks that I’m not going to name them off. The mash-up music selection is kind of questionable but it’s a banger of a part for sure. Some may whine about paid dues and such, but this dude has been around longer than a while and if logging footage week in and week out on the TWS website doesn’t count as doing your time, I mean, jesus.
Personally I had no idea he was even half this good, and if I wanted to get bitter here I could harp on about any number of tricks that would make better TSM covers than a Sheckler air-ball kickflip, but let’s give Kellen James his moment in the sun here and hold up a toast to more video parts like this to freak out and rewind for a few months.