Archive for December, 2008

10. Jack Sabback, “Moving in Traffic”

December 21, 2008

Here we go, my top ten video parts of the year begin counting down today:

Recent years have seen a lot of companies take advantage of the comparatively inexpensive DVD format (or the comparatively free web video format) to mess around with skate video formats, bringing about an overdue resurrection of the “Tim & Henry’s”/”Two Songs”-style promo that doesn’t skimp on quality without bogging down the time-strapped viewer of today with interminable intros and lengthy skits. Despite all that and a great beard, Jack Sabback nonetheless shoulders a considerable burden, following a reenergized Bob Puleo and closing out one of the more anticipated promos of the summer, but he gets over on fast skating, an assortment of mellow nosegrinds and a great last-part song. That last line, the way he sets down that backside 180 before losing track of the switch frontside pop-shove it conjures the feeling of long, sweaty summer afternoon sessions that leave your legs with a satisfying ache the next morning. On an unrelated note: fuckin’ stupid winter…

Margin Walker

December 20, 2008


Lame title acknowledged, but I’m tired from Christmas shopping and was having a rough time thinking up some “Concrete Jungle”-themed pun, which probably would have been even worse

Marc Johnson gave us an entertaining Easter egg hunt last year when he mentioned in a couple interviews that his 13-minute “Fully Flared” section contained a handful of tricks that were direct homages to some of the skaters that exerted particular influence over him throughout the years. I’m pretty sure I’ve caught nods to Daewon, Gonz of course, Jason Dill and Ronnie Creager, though my concentration often is interrupted when I have to get up to use the bathroom, or turn on the couch so that I don’t develop bedsores.

I found myself doing something similar with this new “Concrete Jungle” promo from Organika, specifically the super impressive part from Walker Ryan, who strikes me as something of a skate spot buff. Besides switch backside bigspins and flaunting child labor laws for waxing purposes, Walker appears to enjoy mining skateboard history for well-loved locales: I spotted the Tom Penny/BA ledge (see above), the curvy red ledge from Tiltmode/Maple days gone by, the ledge made famous by Elissa Steamer’s nollie lipslide-to-faceplant, and the especially eyebrow-raising 5-0 to manual at New York City’s treacherous courthouse ledge-to-drop spot.

And I’m sure an old ’80s guy out there found some significance in one of those ditches he skates as well.

The other half of this tight one-two promo is rail-skinny spaghettiman Zach Lyons, contorting and twisting his way through an assortment of urban/creative moves that he still tends to make more interesting than your average polejam-to-manual-kickflip-outters. He does have an eye for some extremely bizarre tricks, like the final nosegrind-nose manual tilt-a-whirl, and the frontside nosegrind pop-in is serious precision shit, though he sometimes falls into the Brian Brown trap of requiring every trick to include a manual or wallride.

Besides Quim Cardona lofting one of the huger ollies in recent months, another entry in Rodrigo Peterson’s Big Book of Switch Nosegrinds, and Karl Watson’s extremely suspect bigspin kickflip, this video also includes two of the more pleasing-to-the-ear tricks I’ve heard in some time: Zach Lyons’ 180 nosegrind on the wooden fence and Walker Ryan’s nollie cab backside lipslide.

Tune in from now til the end of the year as I count down the top 10 video parts of the year and other assorted malarkey.

P-Rod, Girl and the Enigma of the Mobius Strip

December 18, 2008


Innocence, destroyed

While the planet, nay, galaxy awaits the already-classic “Street Dreams”, featuring the long-awaited debut of whippet enthusiast-turned-auteur Rob Dyrdek and guest starring Ryan Dunn with the evil mom from the O.C., Paul Rodriguez isn’t waiting around for some Decenzo brother to hand him his daytime Emmy. No, P-Rod is blazing ahead with another star turn in the upcoming “Vicious Circle”, which for purposes of this post I choose to view as a complex, feature-length metaphor about his years skating for Girl skateboards.

Some of this is fairly overt: “Boy meets girl,” a nod to the days before the honeymoon ended, when P-Rod was still the next Koston, Plan B existed only on DVD and nobody ever heard of Sean Malto. Paul had a more innocent view of the world then, as you can tell from the nifty suit he wears in early scenes.

However: “Girl has past… past won’t let her go.” P-Rod here is suggesting here that Rick and Mike are akin to the child of an abusive household: determined not to repeat Rocco’s excesses and transgressions, they succeed only in driving away their young stars (P-Rod and Jereme, represented here by P-Rod and “Angel”, a reference to Rogers’ Christian beliefs and pasty pallor).

Paul Rodriguez does a bit of gun-waving, perhaps channeling the unrefined anger of Sal Rocco Jr., and soon the film takes a disturbing turn as P-Rod seeks catharsis via revenge fantasy: the “Girl” dies, and as fingers point in his direction, Paul is determined to clear his name.

Whether this suggests that Rodriguez believes Plan B (portrayed in the film as life after Girl) will bury his former employer is open to interpretation. It’s a disturbing thought, nearly as troublesome as P-Rod Senior expounding on his son’s numerous attractive qualities.

The title certainly plays off the resurrection/rebirth themes that Plan B has mined since Danny and Colin brought it back, and P-Rod’s gracious comment on the role – “I was blessed to be given it… I have to do the best with my opportunities” – is easily applied to the offer that wooed him away from Girl in the first place.

In short, a troubling and fascinating picture of the fractured worldview of a young man, frustrated, consumed with revenge and constantly battling against his own crushing talent. Also, “Street Dreams” coming soon.

Mo’ Mega Blues

December 15, 2008


Stakes is high

Danny Way loves spectacle. He sails over ancient structures and leaps from giant guitars, going so far as to revive the somewhat hilarious rocket air, all for our amusement and the pursuit of world records. Sometimes these things come at a price, including but not limited to fractured ankles, broken backs and 40-foot free falls. But on the other side of that Great Wall lies fame, lucrative energy drink endorsement deals and oodles of prize money.

No fear, though. Fame, sponsorship and wads of dough can still be had if the crash itself is enough of a spectacle, as giggly Australian Jake Brown proved on Larry King and elsewhere during his post-Mega fall recovery tour . And even if sponsors aren’t cutting photo incentive checks every time their logo flashes across the screen on some pro’s shirt as he careens toward the deck, Danny Way’s not tripping — as he notes in the Wall Street Journal last week, each replay of Jake Brown’s tooth-rattling slam is all for the greater good:

I think it’s great that they exploit the slams. That’s the biggest part of people understanding the seriousness of what we do. It’s unfortunate the person that slams has to go through that experience and deal with the repercussions of it. But Jake [Brown], for example, he did so much for the Mega event. They emphasized the slam, but that also brought so much of a focus to our event. It just gives everyone that much more opportunity and makes it that much more exciting. God forbid someone should get hurt, but sometimes it’s good to have things put in perspective. If we’re going to create an event for the public, the goal is to have people on the edge of their seats biting their nails not knowing what’s going to happen next.

God forbid it happens, but it’s possible for somebody to get really, really hurt. It’s the same thing with motocross. Freestyle moto, guys doing double flips and front flips and stuff, that stuff’s deadly, too. That’s why people come to watch it.

Interesting point, and it goes back to what’s kept vert skating on life support for the last ten years – your average Gravity Games-watching armchair gaper gets a lot more out of seeing Lincoln Uyeda blast 10-foot airs, as opposed to P-Rod cracking a nollie heelflip backside tailslide across a step-up ledge or whatever. With the mega-ramp Danny Way has upped the ante a few hundred feet in terms of hangtime, and personal peril.

The WSJ also asks Way whether he believes the mega-ramp is viable as a new skateboarding discipline (to chance an oxymoron), and he dodges, sort of, noting the growing number of pros taking the mega plunge. But if anything the rise of the mega-ramp widens the gap between your average kid kickflipping in the driveway and what seems destined to become skating’s version of underwater lion-taming, or something.

Let us pause for a moment and pour one out for all the departed tamers who were mauled and then drowned.

Anyway, for years vert skating has been moving toward a weird sort of commercial backwater, seeming to exist almost solely on ESPN, while half the vert pros suit up in body armor to slay the mega dragon and the other half shuffle off to work on their beer guts with the backyard bowl contingent. The way things are going now, vert’s TV career seems destined to be eclipsed by the spectacle of the mega monster, just months after receiving a stay of execution when the X-Games stood ready to bump it from the lineup.

So: the number of vert pros dwindling, cities building concrete parks as opposed to vert ramps, less on-screen time… will kids even know what a vert ramp is in another five years? Before I tread too far onto Vert Is Dead’s turf I’ll do that thing where I stand in a darkened room with a lighter and my eyes cast upward, fumbling with my mouse to click on the Tampa Am vert finals from earlier this year. Kids are always up for unwinnable causes right? I mean when Danny Way is 360-flip k-grinding a 20-foot vert wall and Bob Burnquist is jumping into the Grand Canyon, will anyone be left to notice when somebody lands, say, a varial 900?

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to French

December 13, 2008


Liberty potatoes

I found this little anecdote from the Joey Brezinski pro spotlight very endearing:

TWS: Does anything ever get lost in translation between you and the rest of the team?
JB: Dude, I don’t know any French. I got this game called
French Tutor, but it doesn’t really help. Last tour it taught me how to say Wednesday and I was super hyped. JB [Gillet] was sitting in front of me and I hit him on the shoulder and say, “JB, Mercredi [Wednesday in French].” And he’s like, “Ehhh, is good, good. You tell everybody in France today.” It was Wednesday that day too. But then he was like, “Now you go and say ‘Wednesday’ to everybody. That’s pointless. You learn nothing. How do you bring up Wednesday in conversation?” I’m like the little brother on the team.

Now for some reason I got it into my head that the new Cliche video “Cle” was supposed to premiere online, and got bummed when I went to the site and saw that it’s not coming out until next month. Whatever, I’m banking on Brezinski’s double heelflip bumping Carroll out of the Berrics Battle after Jeron flared out today. Go Jojo…

American Apparel

December 10, 2008

In skateboarding’s post-2000 pants sweepstakes, Kalis in brown cords has to be some kind of milestone. Pitch-perfect switch smith grind from the new Transworld, which has a lot of good photos, including one that sooner or later will likely end up poached for the header of this page. Try and guess which one. Alien video less than two months away…

Why Birdhouse Desperately Needs Nyjah Huston

December 8, 2008


Not to put too fine a point on it

In news that may be a ghost of bummers yet to come for Element’s current patchouli-scented incarnation, Mike V’s favorite Billabong subsidiary announced this weekend that 14-year-old Jah aficionado Nyjah Huston has either died, or else no longer shares the widely held “Element For Life” view, for reasons of his own. Those reasons could very well be tied to the American dollar; despite current weakness in Australian’s version of the greenback (a good thing), Element’s pater familias continues to grapple with the same bear that’s biting into Pacific Sunwear sales and claiming warehouse jobs.

All of this, or none of this, may have to do with Nyjah being out of his element (heh) and entertaining offers. And ignoring the very possibly totally for sure logic that he will end up at Plan B, due to existing Syndrome ties through Silver and FKD as well as Danny and Colin’s ongoing crusade to lock up superhero talent, checkbook be damned… I would like to make the unsolicited argument as to why Tony Hawk seriously needs to step in and put Nyjah Huston on Birdhouse.

1. Tony Hawk understands the child star
Hated on for much of the 80s, Tony Hawk possibly understands what Ryan Sheckler is dealing with right now, beloved by the secular world and despised by people who, you know, actually skateboard. Nyjah Huston, being five years younger and about 50 times more talented than Ryan Sheckler, is a kid Hawk could (heh heh) take under his wing and (fuck it) teach to soar in both the real skateboard world and whatever market exists outside of it when the recessionary dust settles.

2. The Shaun White experiment has failed
Half the kids who skateboard don’t know who the Flying Tomato is, the other half regard him as a fool, nobody considers him a for real pro skateboarder and the leopard-print tights aren’t helping anybody. Birdhouse long ago cast its lot with the cartoon graphic-fixated tween demographic, and with Tony Hawk in the announcer booth instead of the winner’s podium at the X-Games or Gravity Games or whatever, the company needs fresh star power to move those re-screened Brian Sumner decks.

3. Revenge
Self-explanatory. Scooping up Element’s treasured prodigy would slake the Birdman’s thirst for vengeance after Element appropriated his own protege, race car driver and projectile pooper Bucky Lasek.

4. Birdhouse has the money
Or maybe they don’t, but while pro paychecks get delayed at your favorite deck purveyor, Tony Hawk likely continues to sleep upon a sizable pile of cash. Since bringing Birdhouse under the illustrious Tony Hawk Inc. power umbrella, the proprietor has stated that “increased oversight and involvement” in the team will be his highest priority. This would give him the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is bills where his bill is.*

5. Birdhouse needs a power move
Putting Nyjah Huston on would remind people that A. Birdhouse exists, B. they give a shit and C. that they want a seat at the table as far as high-profile team maneuverings (no disrespect to Nesser, Ploesser, Willy Santos et al). It would also suggest that the company has some sort of longterm plan for the future aside from Riley Hawk and selling repro’d Hawk graphics, which, if you read Sean Eaton’s interview in TSM recently, doesn’t seem especially certain.

TSM: You look at Birdhouse as a big mistake?
SE: I personally do, yeah.

Was it disheartening to see Tom Green and Shaun White go pro before you?
Dude, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

Now, bear in mind that this whole posting carries the major disclaimer of relying upon my own questionable judgment and intelligence, as I prepare to fully fail Nate Sherwood’s “skate IQ” test. Stay tuned as I report back the assuredly depressing results.

*That was awesome

Meet The Press

December 5, 2008


“Don’t be a dick, and skate”

With the rise of “Epicly Later’d” a lot of different people have been trying their hand at being the next O’Dell, with generally mixed results (yea, “Behind the Griptape”; ehh, Skatebook.tv) Personally I think it has a lot to do with the dude guiding the interview. “Later’d” generally does a good job keeping people on topic, moving shit along and O’Dell stays out of the picture when it isn’t necessary.

This Danny Supa interview on the Stereo site recently caught my eye because the guy conducting the interview has a way of asking questions that to me is extremely compelling and penetrating, in a way that I feel few skateboard interviews really are. Supasiriat is a mostly soft-spoken type with a straightforward approach to skating and life in general but the guy sitting down with him gets right to the brass tacks. (Check 0:46, 2:09, 4:08, 5:39.)

For sure an entertaining watch; with ON Video in the rearview mirror (more on that later) and that long break between seasons of EL still fresh in the memory banks, this dude could be on track to make waves in investigative skate video journalism. Possible starting point: is the Etnies/Adidas holiday hanky-panky a precursor to a post-holiday depression fueled takeover of SoleTech by the tri-stripe? Film at 11…

That’s Just The Way It Is

December 4, 2008


“Made a G today…”

In an age of tumult and upheaval, both good and ill, it’s nice that there are those constants out there upon which we can rely. American Idol is about to come back on, a peroxided Britney Spears roams the Billboard charts, and the Sheckle-Air is alive and well – and in Guinness Hall of Fame form.

Dy-No-Mite

December 3, 2008

This new Thrasher cover of Tony Trujillo thrustering above the rim is really the sort of thing I probably ought to post more regularly in this space: a simple-pleasures type trick that if anything suffers from paragraph upon paragraph of ponderous analysis. Boom!