Archive for June, 2008

Up in smoke

June 13, 2008

Point away from face

Is the summer video season here? “Smoke and Mirrors” leaked the other day and I guess TWS’s “And Now/And Then/Later That Day” or whatever premieres tomorrow, leaving “Last of the Mohicans,” City, Fallen, AWS, and probably a bunch of others I’m forgetting right now. But it’s Bill Weiss’s week to drop, so I’m gonna do a little running diary of watching this Digital, which will probably be the first time I sit through a Digital all the way through since… well I guess I watched the “Digital All Stars” video, uh… five years ago?

Title sequence:
Well first off, I have beef with Weiss because of the uber-generic title. See I was hoping he’d keep riffing off rap albums after the amazingly titled “Get Tricks or Die Trying.” I bet a resourceful guy like Weiss could come up with so many. “Enter the 30 Tricks Chambers.” You know? Totally easy. Or what about “Street Skating Disciple.” You could have Evan Hernandez and some other yahoos sitting around at the Last Supper.

I get that Weiss and his partner in Digital crime Dennis Martin aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel with these movies, and they give a lot of shine to kids who probably deserve it, but damn if the Digitals don’t have the most pedestrian, workmanlike editing out. You could give 500 monkeys wearing 500 Plan B New Era hats 500 copies of the raw footage for this video and they’d probably crank out more or less the same thing.

Kurt Winter:
Hey alright, the one part of this video I was anticipating, right off. Like most North Americans my first exposure to this kid was through this clip, probably one of the best things to ever bear the Stussy trademark, and I’ve been wondering what else he’s got… let’s see: helium-powered nollie flips, switch heelflips, switch b/s flips… I feel like I could watch these nollie flips all day though. He skates fast as shit and twirls switch b/s 360s, so I guess we don’t need that one other kid after all, huh?

Tommy Sandoval:
I’m not the biggest fan of his skating but I kind of dig his outlook on life, what with driving around in a beat up limo and generally reveling in his dirtballness. Most of this looks like leftovers from the Fallen video but the line with the b/s nosegrinds is cool.

Kevin Romar:
Apparently ditched Ice Cream for Es. Smart move? Who even knows anymore. He’s got some intriguing tricks, such as a tall nollie b/s 360. The music selection here continues a trend I’ve noticed with a lot of Canadian videos/skaters, using the original pieces of music sampled for rap songs, in this case Jay-Z “Heart of the City”/Bobby Blue Band “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.”

Ronson Lambert:
At this point I have kind of a perverse fixation on the bizarre freeze-frame hunch pose he strikes after his tricks. He’s getting a little better about it, sort of, but for most of this part I just sat there shaking my head. Moments later I can’t really remember any of the actual tricks.

Is ollieing over fire hydrants to grinds/slides on the curb the new pole jam? Sascha Daley has a big b/s 180 over a rail the hard way and there’s a good Busenitz line. Holy shit, it’s Aaron Snyder. Wait no, holy shit, Fernan Origel does a nollie front foot flip manual that actually looks pretty wild.

Magnus Hanson:
I’m pretty sure somebody’s skated to this song before, but it escapes my memory. The pop-shove it k-grind was nice.

Cody McEntire:
OK, it’s a nollie b/s bigspin trick, this must be Cody McEntire. And, it is. I thought about counting the bigspin variations in this part but gave up. He’s got other tricks too, and he can skate fast, so I should probably stop harping on it. For instance he cranks a long cabellarial kickflip over an Aussie gap and whips out a switch kickflip b/s shifty down some stairs, in a line, which you definitely don’t see everyday. But he’s got a little bit of a squat look when he skates and it’s real irritating to me the way Weiss & co. keep jamming the camera into his face to force an awkward giggle. Not being fortunate enough to grow up under the skate media spotlight, maybe McEntire doesn’t have the quick-draw witticisms the scrutinizing public expects for credits footage, and it’s kind of uncomfortable watching him try and come up with something. Good part though.

So, right. Another day, another Digital. Does the last Blind video count as a Digital? I kind of feel like it does.

24 Hour Party Person

June 11, 2008

Great part from Joe Gavin in the 2006 Manchester DVD “Workers and Lurkers”, vital information which you may notice I copied directly from the Mpora link. I’ve seen clips here and there of this guy but this part is for sure my favorite. He’s got some Paul Shier sort of hyper-flippy ledge tricks happening but he can do power moves too, like the switch ollie at 1:24 in the link. Also I’m really into the way he points his ollies and the way he snaps his tricks in the parking garage line (1:40), which sound so great in this clip for some reason.

This dude’s got a longer part here from last year but I’m more a fan of this video that features one of the better-looking nollie noseslides on a ledge that I’ve seen in quite some time and a switch frontside schralp on a planter. Interesting question: which of these three pretty bad music selections is the worst? I lean toward the PBJ out of principle, but “Landslide” is a whole nother level of depressing.

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.

Es loses their damn mind

June 4, 2008

The Osiris of this shit

I feel sort of bad ragging on Es, because it seems like they’re really trying. They figured out pretty quick that they weren’t going to be able to hang on to their Menikmati-era all stars, finally scrapped the ill-fated “YeS” project, put together a fairly interesting team and got busy moving on. Last year’s Especial promo wasn’t bad at all and they’re staying busy on their website, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re fighting a losing battle, because it’s becoming so plainly clear that they’ve lost their way when it comes to, you know, the actual shoes.

Now, in an age where one could start a skate shoe company and bank off rehashing the dunk, Chuck Taylors, half cabs, eras, and on and on, I do give Es a lot of credit for trying something new, over and over again, often with simply bizarre results. From what I can tell, with their new fall lineup, they’re betting big on the technological shoes of the late 90s/early 00s coming back into fashion. Will they be right? You be the judge…

The amazingly ill-conceived Scheme remix makes it back for another season! The total cluelessness of this design is endearing to me, especially as they insist right on the sight that it’s not a throwback. Embrace it, Es!

It seems to me Es has been trying to push this design in various forms for a while now. I can’t be bothered to go back and check of course. Do the euros even go in for the teched-out shoes anymore?

Currency symbols really aren’t anywhere near the worst all-over print, but it’s still pretty stupid. Keep your head up, Accel.

This “TXL” may or may not be a Rodrigo creation. If it were, I’d guess the language barrier might explain some things. I picture TX tilted far back in an office chair, eyes far off and muttering “it’s crazy like,” while a pair of designers scribble furiously and dart frightened, confused looks at one another.

Having milked their thesaurus dry, the Es team muscles in on C1RCA territory with the mysteriously named “FV-1.” Although I guess it could have been designed by Fausto’s ghost? Actually don’t mind the colors on this one but packing in not-one-but-TWO airbags at the height of the vulcan era is a bold move indeed.

Like the half-formed afterbirth of a Vans janitor’s trunk sale. Moving on…

This one, wow. The color combo is almost ridiculous enough to work, almost, but these knockoffs of dearly departed pro models never really work out.

Here we have an example of taking a great idea that hasn’t been blown out yet (black soles on lighter shoes) and screwing it up with the all-over-print panel in the back. I guess your pants might cover it up, but still. My gut tells me that it shouldn’t be this difficult, but what do I know.

This one really isn’t that bad, aside from the laces. Classic Es design and it looks like they threw in one of those SLB/AVE inner-sock things, which deserves to be revived every few years. Some colors other than white/black and gray/black would help, but this is good mostly.

The WASPafarian’s dilemma

June 3, 2008

“Jah bless, bros”

So the news came out yesterday that longtime Element posterchild Tosh Townend has been relieved of his duties as head dread in charge over at the shareholder-friendly skate company for suburban tweenage hippies. Much is already being made of the fact that Tosh was an early adopter of the Element “package”—consolidating clothing, shoe, board, wheel, and whatever other sponsorships under one roof that almost certainly would never fall in on you. Right? But like many environmentally themed construction projects, Tosh’s Elemental Odyssey suffered from a fatal design flaw, possibly related to the enduring presence of Mike V. Glass houses and stones, etc.

You could feel sorry for Tosh. I might, if he weren’t the biological heir to a surfing dynasty, pulling pro shoe money since he was 18, and seemingly not slowed by major surgeries. Me, I feel worse for Element. Because like many parents, the honchos of ElementBillabongCoIntlGroup seem to have got out of bed one day, looked at the bedraggled and odorous dreadlocked mess snoring on the couch, and decided enough was enough. Like any parent of a carefree hippie who’s left one too many roaches between the sofa cushions, Element had to take a deep breath, throw the front door open and tell the boy they’d raised to get the hell out and get a job.*

I expect that Tosh will spend the next few days blearily blinking his reddened eyes, smoking a sympathy bowl or two with his fellow rude boys, possibly cursing the name of Johnny Schillereff and pondering a return to Zion. But he’s long overdue for starting his own shit. He was a big force behind the Sin Habits crew/video, which gave way to something called the Weenabago Projekt, where—get this—a white guy with dreadlocks is gonna drive across the country in a retro bus with all his best bros. Crazy idea, right?

Anyway the point is young Tosh (still only 23, which kind of bugs me out) has his own crew, he’s been doing his own projects for a while, and he’s got a cozy relationship with the High Grade distribution camp. So if the hobbit’s leaf gets the better of him he can probably crash on Creation’s couch for a while. One love, Tosh.

*For what it’s worth, the financial markets seem to have taken this as moderately good news.