Archive for January, 2021

Death, Taxes And 10,000 Pounds Of Rolling Steel: Wade Speyer’s Dump Truck And The Quest For Immortality

January 31, 2021

In the smash Broadway politicopera ‘Hamilton,’ the closing number ponders man’s quest for immortality through government. After the gunshot death of major figure Alex Hamilton, lover of women and bayonettor of British, the refrainers mourn: “U lived, u died, bro we’ll tell ur story.” It is true, but only to a point: Andrew Jackson remains a day to day sight, but only until US currencies move fully digital. The system of government designed by aged brewmaster Benjamin Franklin has proven vulnerable to shirtless men in buffalo hats. Even Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln and Roosevelt, their visages carved 60 feet high in solid stone, exist only at the pleasure of phaser-equipped alien spaceships that one day may decide they have grown bored with the entire affair.

Approximately 70 years into its history, the skateboard realm mutters to itself the same lyrics as it flits about its day-to-day. Some things, like kickflips, the ‘Sick Boys’ video and the popsicle shape, persist through time. Others — the shoelace belt, Shorty’s boards, the lapper, Pat Corcoran, Justin Roy, Bridgebolts — rise and fade. And some prove truly immortal, such as Half Cabs, Brandon Turner’s switch hardflip, Fred Gall obviously, and as we shall come to understand, Wade Speyer’s dump truck.

Featured in 2001’s black denim document ‘Label Kills,’ and again in ‘Weekend at Wade’s’ alongside certain other heavy machineries, Wade Speyer’s dump truck has outlasted companies such as Bootleg, Seek and 3D; it has posed for the cover of Big Brother, which is also outlasted, and rolled like a timeless wave as decks and pants have widened and slimmed like the shifting of the tides. Footwear labels such as C1RCA, Ipath and Es have amassed great power only to fade again, but the dump truck persists. Photo/videographer John Bradford in North magazine rightly named it among the seminal moments captured in his photography career:

…I was lucky enough to be asked to help with what I think was one of the best things going on in skateboarding at that moment. It was so sick to be a fly on the wall as those guys put together some of those stories. Like listening to Natas [Kaupas] recount in his own words about his career. We went and filmed Wade Speyer drive his dump truck. We filmed an interview with Clyde Singleton where he refused to take off his Mexican wrestling mask.

Now, in this year of our lord 2021, it rises again, as Darren Navarrette in the February 2021 Thrasher pens another chapter of the legend:

I was always a bit starstruck by Wade. Before one contest, I decided to get a little liquid courage and dipped into a bar. The only other customer in the place was Wade. I was scared. What do I do? Do I pretend like I don’t see him? I decided to pull a stool up next to him. He looked over at me and said, “Darren, you wanna see a picture of my pride and joy?” He pulled out a photo of his brand new dump truck. I was like, What? A dump truck? The funny thing is, I had a picture of my pride and joy in my wallet, too, so I took it out and showed it to him. It was literally a photo of Pride dishwasher soap and Joy hand soap. Turned out neither of us were exactly rock stars.

Has Wade Speyer ever been documented doing the trick called the ‘dump truck’? Should Fred Gall, easily the most widely revered doer of the dump truck trick, buy a real one as he contemplates life paths beyond pro skating? When FA inevitably awards a ‘class photo’ board to the dump truck should it feature a pic of the truck fresh out the assembly line, some Tonka model, or heaps of unrefined iron ore bound for the blast furnace?

Is The Gap Being Properly Minded?

January 18, 2021

Jim Greco is in the news again, winding down 2020 with a display of his remove from skateboarding’s professional rat race, putting forward his most recent Film ‘Glass Carousel’ just as the inevitability of Mason Silva’s SOTY campaign wound to its undeniable conclusion. Ironically, or not, ‘Glass’ represents the closest thing to a conventional video part from the mercurial Greco since 2013’s ‘The Deathwish Video,’ vid; he surfaced not in November’s ‘Uncrossed’ full length. And he rips, rattling long bluntslides across bricked planters, backside 270 tailsliding a serious tall ledge, backside flipping on an impossibly tight bank, a disheveled meditation on a few square blocks in Los Angeles’ hot, disease-wracked core.

Absent this go-round are the attendant pork products, the silent rootbeer sipping, the inch by inch scraping of metal furniture across bleached concrete. ‘Glass Carousel’ gazes instead upon downtown Los Angeles’ tired and drug-hooked vagrants, Joey Sinko’s jittery lens provoking one to give angry chase and taking a long look as another sucks in chemical vapors. Greco himself of course has been in and of this world, and part of the off-putting allure of him and Joey Sinko’s prior Films has been the way they steep watchers in Greco’s urban ghost towns and drab routines, but the unblinking stare on the downtrodden struggling here rapidly feels discomforting, and a shade invasive.

Maybe that sentiment’s another symptom of skateboarding’s long and halting maturation into its current and more ‘grown’ mindset, the one that eats healthy, draws ice baths and makes more room for those outside the cultural mainstream for whom it always was supposed to be a refuge. Maybe Jim Greco and Joey Sinko let these clips run a few too many seconds beyond the snapshot blinks used for city-grit seasoning in other vids. The surplus of suffering and anguish generally over the past year may have everybody at this point hitting a certain collective limit. Maybe that’s the point?

‘Glass Carousel’ is the most recent in decades’ worth of skate videos to stitch in homeless people and assorted other streetbound characters in between tricks and lines and whatever else. When Ricky Oyola threw hands with the dude at Love Park in the credits of the Sub Zero video around 1994, it was two people who both spent their days in disused pockets of the city, harassed by cops, avoided or castigated by most everybody else. Contemporaries have described the vibe then and there as general coexistence and occasional turf battles between groups who may not have been seen as very many rungs apart on society’s grand ladder, though one set probably much more likely to have a roof over their heads.

In the quarter-century hence, skateboarding’s capacity to generate ad revenue for sport organizations, television networks and bagel merchants have widened that gap, by some measure. In 2003, with the THPS/X-Games era in full swing, California lurkers nicknamed ‘Da Clown’ and ‘Ghostrider’ were providing comic relief and occasional pearls of wisdom between parts and montages in Transworld’s ‘Free Yr Mind.’ Another decade on and the Supreme kids shared airtime in ‘Cherry’ with a Misfits-hating corner growler and the illicit smoker ‘Spark Plug,’ in service of a multi-billion dollar clothing supplier.

In our current epoch, skateboarders of various stripes grace billboards and Superbowl ads, show off their mansions and command what remain of MTV’s airwaves nearly around the clock. Police can kickflip and may give you a couple more tries, a presidential candidate is a ’skateboard philosopher,’ and one of these years the much-ballyhooed 2020 Olympic debut will occur. Meanwhile, after years of moderate declines, the number of US homeless has increased by 20,000 over the past four years, and the coronavirus has spread through shelters and threatens them on the streets.

Ought this increasingly glaring gulf be more recognized/respected by camera-toting inner city spot hunters? Does there exist a sliding scale between the New York summer-vacationing pro squads and the likes of Philadelphia’s Sabotage group, who may spend as many hours in a given day at Love Park or Municipal Plaza as any of the city’s unsheltered, and probably aren’t much banking off it either? Has the dude set up on the Santa Monica Courthouse stage appeared in any videos yet?

Covid Beards, Flame Beanies, Cargo Sneakers And Other Detritus From This Pandemic Year

January 1, 2021

Ten further
-Josh Wilson, ’Hardware For The Masses’ — lighting up Michigan City, pre-Covid beard
-Jahmir Brown, ’DC’ — near-knockout blow for the famed Pyramid ledges
-Nik Stain, ‘John’s Vid’ — dude needs a pro model flame beanie
-Patrick Zentgraf, ‘Kiosq’ — no matter the country, strong switch backside tailslides and track pants will eventually draw Primitive’s attention
-Jake Anderson, ’Cheap Perfume’ — to go with the helicopter heelflip frontside 360, there’s a great clip of a lady holding a tropical fruit and gasping in disbelief
-Javier Sarmiento, ’Jarana’ — the don of the Basque country can still do switch smith grinds, frontside and backside, in lines
-Chris Colburn, ’Heatwave’ — if Element’s weird arms’-length management of this dude and his backside 180 to switch frontside feeble grinds on handrails leads to yacht rock music vids like this, maybe it’s all fine
-John Shanahan, ’Cargo Sneaker’ — noseblunt to fakie on a handrail is rare, but pop shove-it to noseblunt on a ledge may be rarer
-Amelien Foures, ‘Introducing’ — Orlando Blooming tech on tree stumps
-Griffin Gass, ’Nervous Circus’ — flips-out that may be unrivaled right now