Last week the nation’s ever-deepening identity crisis deepened, again, after a Facebook posting left Americans to contend with the concept of Young Jeezy wearing socks with sandals. The unholy prospect forced all the usual and uncomfortable questions front and center once again: Who are we? Where’s all this going? Can gravitational waves be manipulated for pleasure or profit? How much mass is too much? Was a Florida judge’s special dispensation for Hulk Hogan to don a formal black bandana for his sex-tape trial an indication of white privilege, the Hulkster’s 1% status, or both? And so on.
As ever, the United States may do well to take notes from Baker, whose alternately sneering and stony worldview has persisted through several revolutions of its motley and enduringly diverse lineup. Dustin Dollin stays shooting his mouth off and hurting feelings, while the current iteration of these seven-day weekenders shake loose a Rowan Zorilla-centered promo cementing their danger to various communities. Andrew Reynolds blasts a waist-high* kickflip to tractor-trailer bash, their revitalized Kevin Long spins a nollie backside tailslide flip out and Terry Kennedy, who is a large grin attached to a fakie ollie, formally enters the running for clip of the year by walking down the sidewalk. By the time Gumby-limbed ditch gremlin Rowan Zorilla earns the DJ Screw rollaway treatment to seal the formal pro nod to his off-kilter switchstance formations, the company, careening into its 16th year with 40% of its 2G lineup remaining, seems as vital as ever.
Can Transworld, pushing its own video legacy into a third decade, recapture mojo by blowing up its own timeworn model? Friend to the fisheye Chris Thiessen takes a close-up view of the concept in ‘Substance,’ which honors skating’s long tradition of taking a concept and testing its longevity, in this case hyper-intimate VX techniques cribbed from Lenz and Magenta productions while cutting a barely-threaded kingpin bolt sized radius around longtime TWS vid trappings such as timelapse sequences, voiceovers and slow motions. In parts like Dolan Stearns’, wherein he leaps Danny Garcia’s ‘Inhabitants’ intro-sequence carport and boosts a massive tree wallie, much sense of perspective is squeezed out of the frame**. Other parts like Baker’s arrested developer Tristan Funkhouser, who does a cool bump-to-bump feeble grind and an amusing surf to spinout, and Islee Jon Nguyen, who can do Pupecki grinds both ways and launches one of the meatier bigspin kickflips in recent memory, benefit from a more relaxed approach and compare favorably with the better-aged parts from TWS vids past.
TWS’ video model merits saving. The California Sunday Magazine’s recent Jake Phelps profile*** positions Thrasher as the likely last mag standing as rivals grow ‘anemic’ in the face of a mobile content onslaught, though Transworld’s thinning seems to have plateaued around the 115-page mark, perhaps a product of the revitalization via editor Jaime Owens’ early embrace of the small-company set and fondness for East Coast coverage. In time the ‘magazine video’ format may become relegated to the same shop backroom dustbin as the ‘video magazine,’ but it would be a loss — a bustling market for local/crew videos and daily deluge of one-off online parts retains some lane for gatekeepers imbued with the clout and say-so to corral diverse and blue-chip bros who aren’t otherwise in thrall to sneaker- or soda-funded projects to crank out a worthy and cohesive video in the space of a year.
Between the ever-zooming fisheye camp and the long lens stylings of Fat Bill and his acolytes, are sides being chosen up for a coming civil war that could further diminish the already dwindling population of VX-1000s? Do the ghosts of Digital and Logic and 411 rear up from the underworld to lustily cheer at each successive Transworld vid premiere? Does Jake Phelps remain some reality TV show producer’s great white whale? How bout Rowan Zorilla’s switch shove-it 50-50?
*His waist, even
**Might one put former Transworld Film maker Ty Evans on the other end of such a spectrum, too much perspective?
***Near the top of the heap for ‘secular’ press articles on skating