Escapists

In the 1994 Rick Ross blockbuster ‘Speed,’ main character (also named Rick Ross) is a man who refuses to be pinned down. Haunted by a past he cannot put behind him, chronically unable to drive 55 and enveloped in weed smoke, he is in each moment running from the last. On an empty by-way near Miami — a sweltering port metropolis where people go to cast off their pasts and sometimes, themselves — Rick ‘Rick Ross’ Ross escalates a routine radar trap into a manic flight from Johnny Law, scrambling past the leather-gloved grip of justice and hurling himself over a guardrail, entrusting his fate to the the Atlantic’s chilly bosom. The stakes are his life.

Are the rest of us any different? The seven pressed maple plys, the circular urethane and the shiny metal trucks, properly nutted and bolted together, function variously as a mental off ramp, a time machine, an escape hatch of the soul. The physical transport element is window dressing for the transportative powers of simply rolling down the street, capable of teleporting a person into a different mood, an earlier age, a livelier body less beaten down by time, injury and much toil. Skateboarding has long been a refuge for the kid with the shitty home life, lonely at school. All-consuming battles for tricks can carry a sense of obsession and even futility, but carry the side benefit of blotting out the stress and hurry and noise that can consume the remainder of the day’s waking hours. Pros and others speak of ‘blacking out’ moments or more in the final pursuit of landing some long-fought trick; the ensuing euphoria is often cited as one of the things about skating that draws and hooks people, and the forced mental tunnel-visioning required to get there is probably a main factor behind skating’s Venn diagram overlap with addiction.

Videos can be similarly transportative. Whereas a single-trick clip shows a moment in time, footage of lines thrills with possibility — the far corners of some spot hinted at the edge of the fisheye lens, the uncertainty of where the run will go or what trick will come next, how long it can be pushed. Pontus Alv, a master of the form, grasps this: “What I always try to do is to hide the future for the viewer,” he said in Solo in 2016. “When you film from behind you see where he goes and watch his foot position and figure out what he’s gonna do. I always start filming a line from the front, cause the viewer has no clue then. The more you can hide, the more dramatic it gets, the more energy you add to it.”

Locales work the same way, with the vast and seemingly untapped plazas showcased in Lordz ‘They Don’t Give a Fuck About Us’ as important a part of the video as Bastien Salabanzi, William Phan, Alex Carolino and Florentin Marfain, vicarious spot tourism for US heads that went levels deeper than what Flip and Es and 411VM had brought. Michael Mackrodt built his one-man ‘Fishing Lines’ franchise around exotic spot-seeking in places like west Africa and Siberia. One of the most engrossing videos of the 2010s, ‘Ordos’, included no big-name pros of the day, mainly starring a near-empty city in Inner Mongolia and all the boundless, otherworldly potential it held.

Next in this lineage comes the Nocturnup Taipei video published earlier this month on Free, part of an ongoing project from Daryl Dominguez and Nick Richards that centers on skating some of the world’s most congested cities at night. The practical result is to film tricks that’d be impossible during the daytime crush of pedestrians and traffic, but the sum is much more than the excellent clips — plunging the viewer into a twilight maze of grimy loading docks and indoor malls that never close, a haze of smeary streetlights and crowds of idle scooters. The half-dozen skaters in the crew pop up grates to jump street gaps and do Miles Silvas tricks on tile ledges, threading among midnight street festivals and lone sidewalk sweepers. All around the city reaches into blackness, until the sun starts to rise as Daryl Dominguez battles a 360 flip bomb drop.

Will escalating jet fuel prices and the threat of global recession further throttle wanderlusting pros, and keep the world’s remaining untapped skate spots the domain of their locals for a few more years? Has Michael Mackrodt assumed Kenny Reed’s historical role as the plug for handrails not yet frontside crooked grinded by Jamie Foy, or stonework plazas not yet worked over by Mark Suciu? What was Rick Ross’ plan after jumping into the channel?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Escapists”

  1. HR Says:

    This is why I come here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: