Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age

Two things got me excited to load up and sit down for the 35-minute entirety of this Converse China video a while back — watching a carful of bros I’ve never heard of embark on a cross-country shred vacation through a spot on the globe that’s sort of a blur for me. There’s a vicarious sorta thrill to be drawn from vids filmed in far-flung corners of the earth that you’re not likely to visit or have board to hand if you do — new and weird cityscapes harbouring giddy potential in wide-open plazas with lemony fresh ledges, cement that waves and curls, befuddled passersby that keep moving, etc. There were reasons besides Luy Pa-Sin and Alex Carolino and JB Gillett that I watched “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” so many times even in spite of that Kool Shen song.

Trick-wise the “Ni” video is short on your after-black hammers but watching them rail it from town to town and dig into spots like that ice-slick bank at 14:30 or the QP buffet at 30:30 gets the wheels turning when you wonder what else is lying around that 3.7 million square miles, where fishing villages get juiced into 10 million-bro metropoli over the course of a couple decades. All of which can invite tongue-clucking and head-shaking, with China’s foothold as the new Barcelona finding West Coast video heroes jetting halfway around the world to eat at train station McDonalds and film clips at the same dozen or so spots. One vague bummer is that the spot-as-trick-benchmark means that the pros can get over k-grinding a previously unseen hubba that may or may not have seen the same move from a local years before, while those dudes’ own video parts end up Youtube fodder, absent “Night Prowler”-type productions that splash on the overseas radars.

Bobby Puleo, among the more spot-minded people out there, touches on this topic briefly in a enjoyably rambling/ranting interview that went up on his site last month.

“I do know a lot of people go and film their parts in far off places like China and Europe instead of trying to find their own shit in the places they actually live in or operate in. It seems like a lot of kids just simply don’t use their intellect or imaginations enough any more.”

Puleo’s stance is heavily defensive toward his home turf of New York and the rugged/gritty/urban brand it now carries thanks in no small part to his own efforts to highlight that aesthetic, alongside other like-minded bros such as Josh Stewart, Ricky Oyola, Chris Mulhern, Kevin Coakley, sometimes Jason Dill, etc. California kids carpetbagging their way through Manhattan in a bid to offset palm trees and concrete transition raise the hackles of jaded/bearded ones such as Puleo, who I personally would put on the far end of the spot spectrum from those who might hop a plane to film manual tricks several time zones over — fetishizing spots/surroundings to the point that the trick itself is like an afterthought or even a distraction from the attractively deteriorating warehouses or bridge-pilings, catching the smog-tinted sunset rays just so. Ricky Oyola, who interviewed Puleo, at one point seems to suggest this:

“I know nowadays, it looks like kids try too hard to find those type of spots, I think it comes out looking contrived most times.”

Puleo soon resumes his critique on VX-bearing career-builders trampling all around his town, but I think Oyola has a point here — there’s a clip in “This Time Tomorrow,” a generally totally awesome movie, where (I think) a dude ollies up one curb, then another one quickly, then has to make a tight turn and hops up on a rail to do a frontside boardslide down, like, four stairs. Hard, yes, could the typical watcher do it, probably no way, but there are hard questions you ask yourself when allotting video-part real estate and with a certain subset of skating very much shaped by aesthetics-minded landmarks like “Static 2” it’s clear that sometimes the clip is more about the spot than whatever trick happens to go down there.

And we now flip open last month’s Transworld, or alternately click here, to witness the ongoing fruits of a career built partly on this idea — Kenny Reed 360 flipping in North Korea, a jurisdiction with enough mystique and cache and military personnel such that the bar is lowered to the point that a flatground trick earns full-page photo status. A more exotic riff on an idea that still plays at home, which is when you’ve got a brand-new rail it doesn’t matter that Mark Appleyard kickflip backside tailslide bigspinned out on some other rail 10 years ago, because the slate is clean and a veteran pro can get in his frontside crooked grind or backside 5-0 before the amateurs come along kickflipping into everything, or worse, going up it.

Which is maybe one way long-suffering photogs could help make rent every month — hoarding the latitude and longitude of virgin spots and holding out for the highest bids put forth by dudes seeking to justify royalties from their sixth pro sneaker. Style points on a backside smith grind go further when you’re not standing in the shadow of last month’s nollie backside noseblunt and if the message boards are paying attention said pro could possibly even add “spot seeker” to his online rep. Maybe people already are doing this?

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20 Responses to “Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age”

  1. k.bra Says:

    Remember Carhartts trip to Mongolia?

  2. Bubba Says:

    It pains me to say this, but Puleo comes across as a top-shelf asshole in that interview with Oyala.

    • ljonz Says:

      and his rebuttal just makes him look even more ridiculous… i’m sure he has a point with dickfaces profiting from your spots/city but at the end of it he comes off as a hella petty dude!

  3. Bubba Says:


  4. ljonz Says:

    and that converse china film was fucking awesome! perfect sun. afternoon fodder.

  5. rick schilitz Says:

    why don’t you clean up your writing so it’s actual nice to read instead of trying hopelessly to write your way through your failed creative writing MFA dreams?

  6. editor Says:

    Agree with Rick. Speaking of “rambling/ranting and contrived,” put down the thesaurus and learn to write and develop a thought and premise first. Then try telling us something we don’t already know.

    • art hellman Says:

      call the waaahmbulance. nancy boy and his pet toad’s journalist standards for skateboard prose have been assaulted.

      • rick schilitz Says:

        feel like the avid readers of this site got bumped on the head one too many times trying curbside 50-50s and can no longer distinguish between good and shit writing

        hoo hah

  7. Rudy Says:

    I don’t really care that Bobby Puleo and Jason Dill are assholes. It’s funny and only adds to their character. (I know the Dill/Puleo things are two different stories, but could easily be lumped together in that two grumpy men are ranting about things being “upriver” and how people should skate.)

    Really, people are hating on Pilot Light now? I thought this was the only asshole-free website left in skateboarding…..

  8. smorales Says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty sad to go to someone’s personal blog and make claims that suggest you are owed a certain type of writing. Although I would be stoked if “editor” posted the link to his dope shit where he tells us shit we don’t already know by developing his killer thoughts and premises.

  9. Sleezy Bone Says:

    All this shit’s passe anyways, don’t you know the real new shit is skating dirt and grass!?!?!?!?!?!?

  10. Sleezy Bone Says:

    But for serious, how the fuck is street skating going to ever die out? It’s not a living breathing entity, it’s what you do the instant you step out your door and start pushing.

  11. juliuskeen Says:

    Although I agree that this post lacked cohesion there were several redeeming qualities.
    Skateboarding his too concerned with either/or fallacies: vert or street, fresh or hesh, bangers or mash. Puleo’s interview is definitely defensive. The guy has a vision; he walks a fine line between artist and pretentious asshole (possibly being in both at once). But I agree, Static II and This Time Tomorrow were just as much aesthetic accomplishments as skate videos. Raw. Whatever.
    Still, traveling the glove, spot-seeking is raw too. Kenny Reed’s full-page flatground tre is jaw-dropping in its own right. I currently live in South Korea. Skating around the Seoul area is fine, but crossing the border to shred the North is out of the question.
    Finally, about the ams kickflipping into everything:
    Live with it. A video-game culture is better than a stagnant one. There are also guys putting out conceptual parts (Kyle Leeper, French Fred, etc). And besides, no one is arguing for a full-scale return to the Bertlemann slides of yesteryear. We push forward, eh?

  12. Booger Mountain Says:

    When I go to my local Dyrdek skate plaza, I like to pretend that i’m in North Korea and Kim Jong Il will put me in a work camp for 10 years if I don’t land the next switch flip. Then I relax with a sandwich T.G.I.america.

  13. rick schilitz's mom Says:

    you’ll have to excuse him, he wasn’t breastfed

    • outward kickflip Says:

      This made me laugh to the point where I coughed up some mucus. Which was great because I’m trying to get rid of a cold.

  14. intheknow Says:

    ricky and his editor sadly miss the tongue-in-cheek tone in PL’s writing. instead, they project their own misgivings about their writing styles onto that of this blog’s author and feel the need to publicly bemoan it (all the while committing egregious grammar and spelling errors in their own posts) as “academic” and “contrived.” way to go fellas…i personally can’t wait to read your latest take on the rival high school basketball games on the websites of your local newspapers.

  15. kang liu Says:

    wait, who did the nollie backside noseblunt? i dont know how i missed that

  16. Tammy Says:

    One of the best blog i have seen recently..

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