Archive for February, 2009

Over the Top

February 7, 2009

This fairly ridiculous photo of Mark Appleyard backside nosebluntsiding somewhere in Scandinavia was brought to my attention the other day, part of a fairly intense Kingpin interview that details his globe-hopping ways, explores the awkwardness of hurricane horse mortality and adds another chapter to the big book of pro skateboarders’ questionable tattoos. Also, a boatload of crazy photos to go with the one up above. Now usually I prefer a bit more of a stiff-kneed thruster approach to this trick but Appleyard more than makes up for it by arcing onto a thigh-high ledge and warping this trick into the realm of impossibility. Remember when he did that kickflip backside tailslide bigspin on the rail? Like what, seven years ago?

Waiting For the Weirdness

February 5, 2009

Photobucket
Among my all-time favorite AWS ads, from TWS, October 1991

Due to certain geographical, connectional and hygienical issues, I have yet to see the Alien Workshop video, certainly my most anticipated skate release since “Fully Flared,” and probably more so really. For sure my hopes are higher in terms of rewatchability and enduring classic-ness: Ten years after Menikmati and Photosynthesis hit VCRs, just one is mentioned with the greats. Pappalardo may not be down with the Sect anymore, but he nailed that one.

In that way however I think DNA has tended to benefit, video release-wise at least, from moving in shadows, much like Ohio itself. The “Inhabitants” premiere, along with “Static 3,” was nearly lost in the dull roar of late-2007 Lakai buzz; in 2003 more people were checking for “Yeah Right” and “The DC Video” (doubtless dubbed by the same visionaries who named The Skateboard Mag) than “Mosaic.” Photosynthesis came out in the shadow of “Menikmati” and “Baker2G,” similar situation for “Time Code” and “Mouse”/”Trilogy”/”Welcome to Hell.”

Although I was young, I think I remember that when “Memory Screen” debuted, eight of the nine dudes who skated had to work.

But when the hour strikes this time, all eyes turn upon Xenia, and as much video hype as “Fully Flared” ginned up, the actual bar for an Alien video probably is higher what with the 20-year legacy, craftsmanship on past features and the degree of art they bring to the table. Also there is the fact that both Carter/Hill and our newly exalted snowboard gods at Burton have something to prove–basically that one of the best/brightest and for sure the most singular top-tier skateboard company has not, forgive the snowbro pun, lost its edge.

I hope not, really. I have gone hard on DNA in the past, mostly because their output does command a higher production standard than, say, Zero, 5Boro, or Cliche, to say naught of the Elements, Plan Bs, Zoo Yorks and so on. Alien Workshop conceived their enduring empire on an early-90s budget, in the bleak Midwest, fueled by sheer weirdness (and great skating, yeah).

So: I hope this video is weird, “Memory Screen” weird, to and past the point of unwatchability; we’ve given Ty Evans a year to draw us beautifully filmed slow-motion high-def diagrams as to why a noseblunt nollie varial heelflip out is good, and now I would like to see some barely visible ollies or perhaps a hook scratching pavement while the Nation of Ulysses drones away. I would be into seeing Heath Kirchart skate to something off “Drum’s Not Dead,” Omar Salazar maybe with the Jesus Lizard, Kalis with rap music. I expect to see shitty super-8 film and spinning antennas, rotting animal carcasses, general Midwestern blight and Anthony Van Engelen. 35 minutes or less. Arto Saari’s part hopefully not as boring as I can imagine it to be. I kind of wonder if golden boy Dylan Rieder will have the last part. I don’t know if that would be good or bad. I want to be shocked and taught, not just by the skating. I wonder if this is a dumb thing to hope for from a skateboard video in 2009.

I see it this weekend on a big screen; full reports to follow, depending on the meltedness of my brain.

(Don’t post spoilers in the comments, as I’ll probably delete them.)

From The Muddy Banks Of The Great Gray-Green Greasy Limpopo River

February 3, 2009


All set about with fever trees

I would like to begin this week by welcoming back one of my favorite shoe color schemes of years past, the gray/white/black/dark green combo that I personally trace back to the first run of the original Kalis model on DC, released in 2000 or so.* (Try as I may, Google turns up nothing helpful and unlike certain Canadian blogs I don’t have vast expanses of frozen tundra on which to stack boxes of old sneakers into fun igloo shapes.) Basically, the upper (?) was gray, with dark green detailing; the midsole (??) was white and the bottom of the sole was black. In a time of kaleidoscopic D3 color-feasts I remember marveling at the relative subtlety of the whole deal and, upon purchase and wear, even earned a personal thumbs up from the best skateboarder in town at the time. These were charmed days to be sure.

Anyhow, I got a very bizarre but also disturbingly welcome sense of skateboard shoe deja-vu when I spied this new color of Lakai Telfords on deck for release sometime this year (below), and only a month or so later saw a pair of Adio shoes (above) in Thrasher that tapped pretty much the same palette.

Now, I thought I saw a similar color of Etnies Raps somewhere recently, which would make this color a certified trend and also certify me as a footwear trendspotter, all but assuring my escape from WordPress skid row and onto one of those street fashion websites that Lupe Fiasco or the Cool Kids name-check in their conscious-but-not-really-conscious hip-hop songs. (I assume I also would get rich at a certain point.)

*Probably the idea predates this, but I haven’t any clue at all.

On And Off Again: A Video Magazine’s Tale

February 1, 2009


In case you don’t understand, I’ma make it understood again

ON Video: a FIC x BTO collab

Right up front let me just tell you how I’m generally unreliable and a veteran procrastinator: I hollered at frozen in carbonite quite some time ago to see if he wanted to do kind of a point/counterpoint thing about 411’s star-crossed “On Video” series, after I issued some smart remark about it and he nobly rose to On’s defense. So he wrote some shit and sent it to me. In the ensuing months, love affairs were launched, puppies lost and reclaimed, missiles deployed, an historic presidential election.

Oh, and in all that time I didn’t watch or download or stream a single piece of On Video footage, and I know there’s at least one floating around my hard-drive. I think it’s the Rodney Mullen one, which I did watch at one point, and downloaded years later in hopes that it was the Love Park issue and I could comb it for Kalis footage to include in this project. But, I didn’t even watch that. And, I never bought any.

Which is basically what I imagine the guestbook at the On Video wake would have read. “Never bought one.” “Watched part of it at my cousin’s house once.” “Got ‘Reel to Real’ instead.” “Too much talking.” Et cetera. On Video, beloved by some, ignored by others, bought by very few. It was definitely a much-welcome lifesaver those long Wednesday mornings when I worked a skate shop, but even then I don’t recall watching one more than once or twice, with the possible exception of the half-hour Danny Way love-feast. And didn’t ever buy one, even with my mighty 10%-above-cost discount.

I did purchase the Arcade tour video, but that’s a whole other ball of worms and just one of my several personal problems.

Which is not to say the forward-thinking On series, and their obnoxious magazine ads with the inexplicable giant red dots, served zero purpose aside from running down the Natas-Satan name imbroglio to half-wit sixth graders. Fueled by a great abundance of tour footage, in an age when each and every road trip was deemed worthy of its own 411 segment (or a section in the abysmal “Around the World” videos), On got people thinking about the history, personalities and places skateboarding has produced over the past few decades as a subject worthy of serious consideration for your independent documentaries or vanity press books or what have you, at roughly the same time the current incarnation of skateboarding was powdering its collective nose for star turns on ESPN, MTV, and any numbers of theaters near you.

Frozen in Carbonite lauds On Video, rightly, for parsing the process behind pivotal video parts, people, places in skateboarding, ideas that were picked and expanded upon by the Stacy Peraltas and Epicly Later’ds and various others. Interesting, sometimes intriguing, usually at least marginally entertaining. But when the chips have been counted and so on, to me the process will forever be second to the finished product, burger over bun, the four-point-five second clip rather than the 90 intense minutes it took to climb the fence, pass over the generator and camera bags, patch the cracks and set up the lights.

Hearing Marc Johnson emphasize the stress and drama that went into making “Fully Flared” doesn’t put the proverbial balls any closer to the wall when it comes to Alex Olson’s part, or make the see-saw slow motion any less distracting. Commentaries are fine, and I enjoyed hearing about Guy Mariano’s favorite hat and the Girl honchos’ ruminations on rap music in video parts, but after one or two times through I’m back to the Earth Wind & Fire, thank you. And trying to build a skate video around the documentary idea hasn’t proved especially successful, at least to me (and I’m thinking mainly of the at-times eyeball-rolling “Hot Chocolate” video here).

And you know what – there’s something to be said for the apocrypha of skateboarding, stories that belong to them what who was there or somehow passed down via skateboard shop bullshitting, post-video screening mullings or after you’ve been at the spot a couple hours and everybody’s spending more time shooting the shit than trying tricks anymore. As valuable as the Andy Roy Big Brother interview remains, as a document and, for some, a manifesto for living, there’s something vaguely sad about the idea of it being reduced to a handful of jpgs to be bandied about messageboards and LOL’ed over. It’s sort of disappointing to think that anybody with a cable modem can click through the highlights of “Tim & Henry’s Pack of Lies,” a video that used to be next to impossible to see, much less own.

Insert here bitter old man comment re: earning it, building character, etc.

It’s certainly not like I hated On Video. And it’s not like I don’t love Epicly Later’d (though my shriveled internet grinch heart did break a bit when Pappalardo and Wenning didn’t get back together at the end of the most recent episode). Without On’s at times fumbly foundation-building, maybe O’Dell wouldn’t have been able to nail it as he seems to have done – disposable, free-of-charge slices of skateboard lore in easy-to-digest six-minute bites, to be viewed and forgotten as necessary, bought on disc by the library-builders. It remains to be seen how often I come back to the DVD of season one, which I didn’t pay for… or the Lakai box set, which I did. (Sans Blu-Ray players, too.) The grand fool-maker time will no doubt reveal which ends up being the better investment…