Are ‘au natural’ street plazas going the way of the proverbial buffalo as city councils approve expensively designed, corporate-sponsored alternatives to be tucked safely away from the gentle arts of commerce and civic life? Was Bobby Worrest, by soaking his first and best of three 2014 video parts exclusively in DC’s notoriously hard-to-skate Pulaski plaza, making a point to us all about using every part of such diminishing urban resources, from its highly regarded dish to the bitty handrails? Was he really high-tailing it from the cops at 00:25? Such questions are unanswerable at best and at worst open up the possibility of galactic damnation, which would make it incrementally more difficult to draw continued pleasure from the way Bobby Worrest threads his way through the spot, sometimes seeming to chart his route on the fly (like the line with the frontside 180 nosegrind revert), getting chummy with ledges and with no wack tricks. His lines in this part are varied and deep with hard tricks (switch frontside bluntslide, switch kickflip backside tailslide, switch kickflip frontside noseslide, etc etc), sparing little notice for traffic of the human or auto persuasion. Whether it was the U.S. government shutdown, Zero’s molar-rattling ‘Cold War’ vid, salvation via Nike from the dregs of shoe sponsorlessness or just ‘his people’ (as pictured following the final switch flip), something kindled a fire beneath Bobby Worrest’s sneakers this past year, and the adoring populace can only hope it continues to bubble, blister and blacken his foot-flesh well into 2015.
Archive for December, 2014
‘Skater of the Year is the people’s award, but it is not of the people,’ a sly armadillo was heard to mutter at a recent Hurley exhibition. While the armadillo was on point in a muddled way, a case can be made that in the years when the Thrasher brain trust gets it right — as they did this year with Wes Kremer — it serves as a nod not only to heavily ripping skating but to a dude who captures some type of moment. In a year marred by the Ebola virus, lost planefuls of people, civil unrest and terror, Wes Kremer’s multiple, amazing video parts are the well-worn ’80s buddy cop comedy airing on the next channel up from the 24-hour strife cycle. Here is a Skater of the Year running lines in the wet and rolling in the dirt, getting over without instagramming hashtags or campaigning in still-creased SAD tees, name-checking Rick, Donny, Eric and Brian on his trick list*; even security guards and bike cops are compelled to give pounds. Wes Kremer at times this year seemed on a one-man mission to elevate respectively the slappy, late-shove it and spinout, and heaven help us if next year he puts the no-comply wallride onto Clipper’s summer-jam screen.
*ODS too of course
The ancients believed the frontside pop-shove it possessed various herbal and medicinal qualities that buoyed healing and promoted weight gain. Jordan Trahan, only tangentially related to the earlier-mentioned Jordan Sanchez and famed Alaskan ‘puzzleboss’ Jordan Kiwitroop, knows the names of the forgotten gods and how properly to revere them. As the afterglow gathers toward the close of Bronze’s understandably powerful ‘Enron’ Film this year, Jordan Trahan in two short minutes fulfills many prophecies of old that longer, more expensively made video parts failed to consummate this year. Really, this section harboured all relevant affairs, including a fully cracked backside bigspin and lightly floated hardflip, but to it we endeavor to staple Jordan Trahan’s internet-famous JKwon 360 flip, anointed as an ageless heater by none other than Josh Kalis himself and widely recognized as 2014’s most impactful trick in which a board spins 360 degrees and flips at the same time. As earlier mentioned in the Book of Revelation, ‘I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a 360 flipping board, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.’ And yet as the fella says, certain individuals don’t want war.
Is this the year Dylan Rieder decided to stop worrying and enjoy being Dylan Rieder? Probably not, but it’s sort of entertaining to theorize the how and why as to this paring-back of his skating in recent years — this is not such a one with 10 tricks to his name, and whereas it would be nice to see those switch backside bigspin flips and backside bigspin outs taken out for a walk now and then, Dylan Rieder appears content to zero in on a few tricks — 360 flips, kickflips switch and regular and frontside, the impossible still — lovingly handcrafted and polished for max oomph and richness in the instant document that was Bill Strobeck’s ‘Cherry.’ Whether a natural sequence of progressions from the course charted within the Gravis section or an outcropping of the fuck-you money he gets from DKNY and whoever else, it’s heartening all by itself to see a dude who would be an alternate-universe candidate for the reality show/energy drink/corporate contest axis not just migrate away from multinational sponsor lordshippery, but continue to hone his tricks in the bargain.
Year by year it seems steadily more difficult to figure out ways to push out the boundaries of what is possible on a skateboard, particularly after x-ing out the incremental stair count addition as innovation. Jordan Sanchez blew minds last summer and since by seeming to tap some sort of collective glaze-eyed consciousness gurgling away when so-called spots like the corner railings or taut steel cables or invitingly low loading dock bannisters are passed by amid the drudgery of daily life, and proceeds to crooked grind rather than boardslide, stall rather than tap, no-comply onto the handrail rather than kickflip. Lots of flip tricks have been tossed down lots of gaps in the past couple decades but not so many people have elevated the Natas hydrant spin, or thought to try.
While making Jake Johnson the marquee no-complier, wallrider and shove-it man on Polar may have been a concept terminal in its redundancy, it is enduringly awesome to see the dude apply his raw and wiry talent to the genre, birthed as much by Josh Stewart’s ‘Static’ series as anything else, and stretch it to gobsmacking distances. Jake Johnson’s line down the black bank etched itself into Alien Workshop’s apparent eulogy and in profile recalls those dudes surfing Portugal’s freak waves, while the now-famed frontside slappy down Clipper pops up with as little warning as the idea that anybody would try such a thing at that spot in the first place. The squalling guitars here are a serviceable Dinosaur Jr approximation and if there’s any knock at all on this footage it might be that there’s plenty more room for Jake Johnson to unbottle some of deep-web technical ability, like the fakie ollie to front blunt, but it is fabulous to watch him in this zone.
Habitat last winter may have synthesized the premium combo of YouTube-era runtime and full-part gravitas in ‘Search the Horizon,’ comprised of 2.5 real-deal video parts and some team montageness; DGK ran the same format this year to similarly potent results, unveiling their own newly minted pro duo and a smattering of tricks from the rest of the Kidz, including this bloggosite’s vote for most accomplished use of skuzz in an original production, Dane Vaughn. ‘Blood Money’ ends with Boo Johnson, boasting the most impeccablest arms in the game, espousing various casual comforts to be had olleing up ledges or hopping over the back of massive handrails, hardflipping over bars, and also a boss backside heelflip. Frontside 360 shove-its suggest he paid attention during Devine Calloway’s second career arc and you can tell he thinks about his tricks with how he jumps out to regular from a lot of his frontside tailslides, like the one across the long flatbar.
Joey Guevara is a hill-mining San Jose footsoldier in the Mark Suciu mold who presses somewhat faster and looser than many and spices lines with some tricks you don’t see too often, ranging from a switch frontside noseslide to a kickflilp backside lipslide to a fakie backside nosegrind revert (frontside) and an Ellington frontside noseslide. The song they used here clicks with the skating going on, in a Satva Leung sense — as in nothing overly bombastic (there’s a 50-50 danger dismount though) other than the sorts of tricks and runs you may wish you could do on the way to work or the store, in particular if you worked at the bottom of a hill with a vertical pole wallie and some treacherous whoop-de-whoops.
Between the grown-out bowl cut, chin duster and mid-40s over-the-hillness Louie Barletta’s shameless appeals toward the Street League/Mtn Dew set nearly are fit to exorcise him from this list. Nevertheless, 15 years on from ‘Tilt Mode’ Louie Barletta is confirmed on some Daewon Song level progression-through-longevity (or vice versa) and his good humor-man sheen probably too often glosses over the real ridiculous nature of the tricks he continues to brew up: casper wallride, handrail wallride, that volcano pogo thing, and other unholy combos that might just as easily have been derived from some inebriated rendition of skate Mad Libs. The dude now does time in industry trenches, and with any luck this will not be his last ‘full-length’ effort, but if so, there’s far more gruesome and horrific methods of exiting an illustrious pro career, and one that amid the ascent of the late 1990s handrail age probably had fair odds stacked against occurring at all.
Around, good lord, thirteen years ago some magazine succinctly summed up the primal appeal of PJ Ladd’s genre-shifting ‘Wonderful, Horrible Life’ video part as “a kid skating down the street, flipping his board;” that is basically what occurs in Luan Oliveira’s Thrasher section out earlier this year, except down some crumbly Brazilian hills and in between the odd pedestrian. After getting a good deal of spazzy tech out of his system in Flip’s claymation movie ‘Xtremely Sorry’ Luan Oliveira has migrated into a Brandon Westgate mode in recent years, and with not a lot to most of the spots in this part the focus winds up being heavily on the tricks, which are fast and textbook-sharp without being lifeless — there is a mean switch frontside heelflip here, which Luan Oliveira has had around for a while, a monstrous hardflip, et cetera. For whatever reason the soundtrack to this one doesn’t grate as much as it probably should.