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Ty Evans Enlists Middle Eastern Royalty, Robot Helicopters for Movie About Skateboarders Being In a Gang Called the Bloods

August 19, 2015

dronies

Drones are in the news again, as fire chief gripe about miniature robotic helicopteros obstructing blaze battle plans, radio frequency weaponizers develop defense systems and the kite-eating tree occasionally graduates to more expensive and, one is forced to assume, tastier and electronified fare. While persnickety oldsters would pass laws and hang out ‘No Droning’ signs, the young and vibrant drone subculture simply wants to drone in peace, twirling their little propellers in disused parking lots and parks. Sound familiar?

Ty Evans, captain of TWS and Girl videos that were, finds himself astride the bucking international drone hoopla as he promotes his newest Film, ‘We Are Blood,’ a citrus soda-financed, high-tech frolic through megacities and undercharted backwaters aimed at pushing the production-value envelope and explaining what makes skaters tick. After a decade in the Crail camp, Ty Evans is unshackled from the rote part-part-part skate video format, trading in Girl’s unexpectedly long-lived ‘SHT SOUND’ for a Dolby hi-fi replacement and free to indulge in as many bro-hugs, high-fives and wildly undulating overhead-hoisted boards as his cameras’ memory chips can manage.

Cribbing the template from Brain Farm’s big snowboard movies such as ‘Art of Flight,’ Ty Evans points his lenses and drones and microphones at Paul Rodriguez, whose impeccable technicality, worldly vet status and passable script-reading capability provide a cipher for framing this road trip exploration of a bond between skaters worldwide. Paul Rodriguez sets it off appropriately enough in Los Angeles’ hallowed schoolyards, jumping to Dane Vaughn at J-Kwon and some euphoric and very welcome ditch-bombing by Omar Salazar before Ty Evans pulls back the lens to fit the rest of the US and well-traveled overseas jurisdictions like Spain, China and Brazil.

Paul Rodriguez dispenses with his own brand of razory execution — the k-grind front foot flip out is taken up a notch — before turning over a good portion of the RV miles to lesser-knowns like Jordan Maxham and infrequently-heralded journeymen like Moose, who rips most of the spots he’s recreationally vehicled to. Tiagos Lemos easily comes over as Ty Evans’ breakout star though, manufacturing at least one incredible clip per location-specific segment and his own mini-part when ‘Blood’ winds its way into Brazil’s particular deep-city grime. His ratio of monologue to tricks like the b/s 180 switch f/s crooked grind fakie flip out, switch b/s tailslide switch flip out, of the switch bigspin b/s tailslide is favorable.

Elsewhere Jamie Thomas boards Ty Evans’ RV to address some Deep South spots that include his old high school, inviting the viewer to marvel at his enduring grit and award style points for the right hand on the kink 50-50. At some juncture Brandon Biebel does a nollie b/s heelflip over a table that could repeat for 10 minutes, or perhaps through the end of the Film, with ultimate justification.

‘Blood’ reverts Ty Evans in some ways to Transworld mode, enabling him to pick and choose seasoned pros and comer-uppers motivated enough to revel in motorhome squalor for seven weeks, book extended stays overseas and spend lengthy stints at the spot biding time until the half-fozen camera rigs are properly aligned. It’s a testament to Ty Evans’ famed work ethic and the spry joints of his subjects that they cultivated a 90-minute Film from just over a year of Filming, versus spending years to construct an hourlong vid from a 30-deep roster of geographically diverse dudes that include a fair number of entrepreneurs.

(Probably Ty Evans and Girl should have broken up before ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Manning a Film that is his alone ups the stakes for Ty Evans the auteur personally but drags no weighty and beloved 20-year video legacy behind it, nor are there destination concerns for precious video-footage minutes turned in by aging favorites and the potential for substantial portions relegated to b-roll extras.)

Untethering himself from the skate vid format seems also to have resparked some of Ty Evans’ creativity that in the last few years seemed to have piled out, like in 2011’s leafy HD rehash of Rick Howard’s forest cruise in ‘Mouse.’ ‘Blood’ breaks from the schralping for an educational and droney cruise through a granite mine that sets up a slab’s brief journey from quarry to waxy ledge, there’s cool time-lapse footage of a wall scarred up by wallrides, a small-world-after-all moment in the unearthing of an ancient Spanish bowl, and frantic gamesmanship between the ‘Blood’ gang and an irate Chinese official wielding a garden hose. Staged puddle sprays aside, the RV segments bear honest whiffs of open-road adventuring and Paul Rodriguez’s ‘blank canvas’ remark about Dubai’s sumptuous plazas is on point, though Tim O’Connor’s quip on traversing the globe’s far corners to end up behind some K-Mart isn’t far off when Theotis Beasley, Sean Malto and others helicopter their way to a high-altitude landing pad where they session a basic bench.

‘Blood’s’ Cleveland-channeling theme of togetherness gets repetitive after 90 minutes, particularly when these annointed blood brothers are nailing ferocious tricks in pristine tropical spots with the blessing of local extreme power brokers, but some of ‘Blood’s’ best detours arise from dudes with only tenuous industry ties. Ty Evans of all people manages to put outer borough nomad Anthony Pappalardo in the most thoughtful and succinct context he’s had recently, same with DC’s Darren Harper. The Film’s message gets over in a surprise Skatopia visit and a well-spoken stop by a small-town DIY.

Whereas ‘Blood’ trades on the concept of a bond between skateboarders, the Film also raises the question of its elasticity. Many* believe in evangelizing skateboarding — Ty Evans in the ‘Blood’ Transworld issue says that “I’ve always been under the idea that I would love to share skateboarding with the world, and especially those that don’t skate. If a kid that doesn’t skate happens to see one of the films I’ve made, and that gets him hooked on skating, then I think that it’s working.”

Are the spirits of the kid kickflipping in front of his stoop in Oakland and the kid who swings through the YMCA park after swim team in the suburbs as closely kindred as those few dozen who may have traveled over an hour to glimpse underpaid pros skate a rickety hockey-rink demo in 1995? It is a question recently pondered by Ty Evans’ former Lakai coworker Kelly Bird, now a Nike employee:

“You can’t check a kid’s gear and automatically draw the conclusion that you’re the only two kids in school that know what Thrasher is anymore. You and the quarterback show up to school in the same outfit and neither one of you think it’s weird. He actually invites you to his party now instead of trying to flush your head down the toilet. You go to his party and have an awesome time. He lets you borrow his copy of Thrasher the next day, then Lil Wayne calls you to go skate.”

It makes little sense to attempt judging Ty Evans’ ‘We Are Blood’ on typical skate vid merits, but the effort to harness a heady concept, glossy production that stands at odds with the broader skate sphere’s persistent VX fetishization, and a lengthy runtime leaves the question as to who the Film is for. For those increasingly accustomed to digesting Guy Mariano’s latest facemelter in 14-second increments, an hour and a half seems a big ask. Volcom’s recent ‘True to This’ was partly perceived as looped fodder for retail outlets, though the number and capacity of whispered Mountain Dew speakeasies remains unclear.

Ty Evans previously has touted the high sales of ‘Fully Flared’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ as signs of their resonance with Joe Kickflip; does ‘Blood’s’ loftier aim require a bigger yardstick? Will collapsing oil prices constrain Dubai’s ability to deploy economic incentives that could help the emirate compete against Spain and China for pro roadtrips and magazine articles detailing esoteric and wily local cuisines? Will this be the Ty Evans production that finally tops Richard Angelides’ Rhythm part in the slow-working minds of certain backward-thinking internet reactionaries?

*Particularly those whose livelihoods are tied to selling skateboard goods

#Trendwatch 2015: Personal Responsibility

August 12, 2015

Drink-More-Water-5

What soul-eroding wreckage hath the tucked-in shirt craze of 2011 wrought? Plenty of yesteryear’s rascally character tropes increasingly are unapplicable in a brave land where oil-enriched royal dynasties shut down portions of their kingdoms to enable drone-powered filming romps and barely a month can pass without some Manhattan periodical fawning over skaters’ fashion sensibilities, amid assorted rumors of cats and dogs living together and stenchful glimpses of a new dinosaur age.

For alerts and rumours indicating the far reach of skateboarding’s current enamourment with grown manning look no further than Thrasher, that digital content barony built on crushed tall cans, DIY concrete projects and ill-considered body art, which presented this summer’s landmark ‘Stay Flared’ tour firstly as a lesson in proper diet and taking care of one’s self. Its poster child is Brandon Biebel, he of Redline binges and the pack-a-day Ja Rule voice:

Stay Flared saw an equally intense Biebel, though followers of his social media will know that this one is deadly serious about skateboarding, driven by healthy living and more pumped up than ever before. Most telling was his water consumption, specifically his ritual of “kicking a gallon” i.e. drinking at least a gallon of water every day.

“You want to join this club? You ready to kick a gallon?” he asked, incredulously.

The gallon club already involved several of the Stay Flared crew and Andrew Reynolds explained that back in LA they often send each other photos of crushed jugs throughout the day.

“These guys are drinking a gallon of water before 2 pm,” he said. “It’s pretty competitive. It’s, like, ‘Shit, I better start skating so I can finish my gallon!”

Reynolds’ involvement in the burgeoning and bubbly 2015 water affair is perhaps no great surprise given his years of sobriety recently augmented by ice-baths, fair-trade bananas, some sciatic foam roller and a substance known as ‘arnica gel’ (full list available in the Stay Flared Thrasher). But in an age where Fred Gall embraces domestic bliss and Andy Roy can hold down a $1000/month apartment in the most expensive city in America, it is fair to ponder a potential shift at hand.

With message-board vitriol poured steamily over do-nothing pros unable to film semi-regular Instagram clips that, in years past, would have been rewarded with Polo gear or studded belts for their devotion to various piling-out programmes, it is easy to attribute a more-responsible pro populace to the vagaries and ravages of age, mainly the fearsome potential of a day-job sentence lurking behind any final photo incentive cheque. Yet 90s babies also have proven themselves increasingly upstanding, between Austyn Gillette’s Habitat-endorsed high school ender, Mark Suciu’s BA pursuits and the Sabotage dudes methodically smoothing the Love Park ground and disposing of trash in the bargain, moves that recall the late-1990s citizenry of ledge-repainter Jeremy Wray.

Such are the lofty heights tested by this new wave of behavioral responsibility that Ride Channel of late has taken to truth-testing Slap Board rumors and garnering responses from the likes of Crailtap tour muncher Sam Smyth regarding alleged lynchpin teamrider permutations. Whether the Girl camp felt compelled to address potentially material and market-moving news in light of its recent investment injection remains needlessly speculated upon in the darknet.

Are more such fits of dependibility, sensible living and all-out rational action to come as various pros and industry andministrators test the fat tail of mortgage-debt exposure, and corporate structures absorb further xtreme properties? Do the recent spate of upstart board concerns require more self-starter fluid wrung from the industry’s collective pores, or instead offer a greased-up window that creakily enables hedonistic backsliding motions? Is Andy Roy next in line to host an HGTV show that harnesses his prison background for the purpose of frugally decorating tiny houses? Would the industry have found itself on a much different path had Rocco never repaid that one loan shark?

Nike’s ‘Short a Guy’ Commercial Entertains, Seeds Doomsday Fears Among Industry Boosters

July 22, 2015

A new Nike commercial this week plunged professional skateboarding managers into deep consternation, raising questions around the shoe colossus’ commitment to the extreme sport it has come to dominate.

The ad spot, depicting a youth abandoning his deck for a frenetic smorgasbord of team sports, sent shockwaves through the community of agents, publicists and social media curators responsible for marketing and managing professional skateboarders, some of whom feared the commercial hinted at Nike’s waning interest in action sporting spheres.

“Everybody’s on pins and needles,” moaned one agent who works closely with a journeyman goofy footer who is in the early stages of evaluating potential interest in pursuing discussions with sponsors such as Nike over a possible contract option.

The furrowed brows and chewed-over nails among skateboarding’s professional management sector spotlight how the industry has come to revolve around the Oregonian supplier of Janoskis, a top funder of skatepark construction, contest purses, hard-copy video releases, pro salaries and advertisements in what print magazines remain. Roughly 68% of all sponsored skaters are directly sponsored by Nike or somehow flowed their shoes, according to gussied industry watchers.

Nike’s new “Short a Guy” ad depicts a boy skating up to a neighborhood basketball court, where another kid explains the players are “short a guy” and quickly persuades him to join the game. The youngster rapidly is drawn into a succession of other games and races, pausing momentarily each time to outfit himself in new, sport-specific Nike gear. He eventually returns to his skateboard, but only to leave it behind again as he heeds the call of several pro ballers.

For some, the commercial seemed to compound concerns raised last month when Nike reported generating $736 million in action-sports product sales in its just-completed fiscal year, growing 4% over the previous year, well behind Nike’s overall 10% sales increase.

The commercial also arrived at a particularly sensitive time as Nyjah Huston was rumored to be negotiating a new and lucrative sponsorship agreement with Nike.

“I told these kids this would happen if they insisted on keeping on buying these other shoes,” groused Colnway Haffpuerg, a personal branding consultant and ‘next media’ e-stylist whose client roster includes several pro skaters. “Now look. Who’s gonna pay Gino? BA? What about all those kids, tomorrow’s pros who would have seen skating for the first time on the Street League broadcast? We’re losing a generation if we’re lucky, and maybe more.”

Several skateboarders at New York’s Nike-augmented Lower East Side skatepark, which some advanced internet flunkies already had begun to scour for cracks and weeds and other signals of lax upkeep, expressed confusion toward the commercial.

“Lacrosse, fam?” remarked a bearded driller who gave his name as Skinny Todd.

Longtime skeptics of Nike’s expanding profile and influence in the skateboarding sphere were quick to argue the ad confirmed years-long suspicions that Nike would inevitably pull out of skateboarding at some inopportune moment, leaving certain skaters “high” and various others “dry,” in favor of the more-established legacy sports that require more advanced and expensive shoes and equipment, and where Nike’s technological prowess can draw deeper distinctions between its products and those of rivals — versus pitting its vulcanized soles against those of less deep-pocketed competitors.

“Lacrosse, fam,” said Burt Ballwickey, an artist specializing in dinosaur tattoos who sported a vintage “Don’t Do It” tee to a local bar. “Everybody knew when Nike showed up 15 years ago they wouldn’t stick around when things went south, and now this commercial proves it.”

“And at the end — the football gives the board a final shove, as if to say, ‘the jocks won,'” Ballwickey ranted.

As Ebay footwear merchants deleted skateshops from their Quickstrike-focused RSS feeds and others hopefully floated DVD copies of ‘Nothing But the Truth’ at collector-level prices, professional skateboarding-focused image curators began calculating time left on luxury car leases and mulling vacation home refinancing options.

“I know how it sounds but in a way I feel like Dyrdek bears some of the blame,” said Millie Tidgette, a designer of custom Instagram tagging-bots for pro and am skaters. “They could’ve tried to bring back downhill for Street League. Or a doubles comp! Something, anything that would’ve allowed for some group of skaters to be short one person and be in that commercial and get that kid back on his board. But now — all is lost.”

Recent Dispatch From the PJ Ladd Plane of Existence

July 16, 2015

PJ_Rodney

A few months on since Plan B teammate and fellow ‘Tru, B’ sideline-sitter Colin McKay casually compared Boston flatground alchemist PJ Ladd to Queen Amidala’s downward-spiraling leotard flexer in ‘Black Swan,’ third-dimension wallie champ Tom Karangelov offers a somewhat more cosmic update on the recluse technician in TWS’ current and fantastic am issue:

TWS: Any news on the PJ Ladd front?
TK: Oh, dude, I skate with PJ a bunch. He’s working on a part, I guess they want to do a part just with him. He’s super into vibes these days. He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they’re like antennas. They reach out for energy. So his hair’s pretty long. He’s kind of got this mysterious vibe going. Not a lot of people know what he’s up to, and I think that’s cool.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Ryan Gallant ‘First Love’

July 12, 2015


Decades in the future when municipalities join heated combats for economic scavengings, the low-bid winner for the shove-it hall of fame may dedicate TIF funds toward a bronzed likeness of Ryan Gallant, whose ‘Fulfill the Dream’ music-supervised video part from a too-often overlooked entry in the TWS cinema pantheon functions as a clinic on rotating the board into a stupefying range of blocks, rails, hubbas and other what-have-yous. Ryan Gallant has flip tricks like the 90s and the knowhow to execute in squeaky-clean terms shit like the pop-shove it frontside k-grind and the hardflip late 180, and enough youthful spring to shoot from way downtown and look like he bounces into the full cab almost by accident going down the hallway. It’s wild how in 2005, before TWS abandoned and then inevitably re-embraced the voiceover intro, Ryan Gallant spoke of appearing long-in-the-tooth for the boarding life — a decade later there’s still gas in the tank.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – John Buchanan ‘The Good Life’

July 10, 2015

(34:34)
John Buchanan’s surreal Brooklyn Banks opener in this part bookends pretty good with where Jeron Wilson left things off and renders well the atypical elements of this dude’s skating, wringing out a weirdly tweaked assortment of tricks that include in this section a switch frontside rock-n-roll, a spinout, a noseblunt slide to manual and various others. John Buchanan briefly was pro for Yellow Skateboards, a rabble rousing Bay Area outfit that represented skating well both in its piss-off-the-neighborsness and its relatively short lifespan, and John Buchanan had a type of dark side of the moon/brown acid twist on the granola flavor that was getting traction under the Grasshoppers and Kenny Reed pro models at the time. He also wields a certain oily smoothness, like on the nollie noseblunt pop out, and a bracing switch 360 flip, a rare pair card to hold with a switch lazer flip.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Jeron Wilson ‘Skate More’

July 8, 2015


‘Skate More’ was DVS shoes’ Terry Gilliam-infused answer to the blockbuster shoe video parade of the early aughts, and while Mikey Taylor and Jereme Rogers supplied handrailing hammers and Jason Dill pushed gritty gravitas in knee socks, it was Daewon Song’s circus of tech and the 1990s-aged swagger from Chico Brenes and Jeron Wilson that spiritually grounded the project. Jeron Wilson’s heelflips, nollied over a fire hydrant or straight-up over gaps, detonate like bombs and a range of other tricks get soundly handled (switch frontside 360 over the bench, switch 180 up onto the big block in Australia) en route to a plenty dazzling ender for the time (or this one). Song and Girl-heavies friend section seals the deal.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Jon West ‘Come Together’

July 6, 2015

As 1990s Gonz detritus goes ATM Click didn’t come away with a high-mileage logo like Blind or buried-treasure video footage like 60/40 but it may have had the most vibrant second creative wind under the joint vision of Mike Manzoori and Jon Miner, those later constructors of Emerica’s emerald-tinted movies. ATM Click’s hazily cluttered full-length ‘Come Together,’ later xexored by Andrew Reynolds for Baker’s kitchen-sink approach to videomaking once the baton passed from J Strickland, starts with Jon West scrawling tracers by night across some prominent West Coast spots, getting pitched hard and dealing out some lesser-seen tricks for the time (smith grind 180, frontside salad) years before Foundation, the frontside hurricane grinds and horror movies.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Lurker Lou ‘Vicious Cycle’

July 4, 2015


Among the many Zoo-affiliated video projects percolating in the years around the turn of the century, ‘Vicious Cycle’ held weight not just for its function as a vehicle for Zered Bassett, one of the best dudes working at the time off any of this world’s seaboards, but also as a generation-shifting document for certain dudes transitioning to old head status such as Vinny Ponte and Robbie Gangemi, and the ever present young bucks making meals from the New York spot churn, like Aquil Braithwaite, Brian Brown, Eli Reed and a young feeble grinder going by Lurker. Opting to reserve the heavy pyrotechnics for later on, ‘Vicious Cycle’ alots opener duties to Lurker Lou as he strings together numerous and solid tricks in meandering runs with some crouch-surfer landings, scrapping his way across much of the town’s serviceable terrain mix — for some citizens this would be a mellow season saturated in Etnies Raps and gently blaring horns, and perhaps a final gasp of innocence before Lurker Lou singlehandedly would go on to pursue various subcareers ranging from 411-venerating board developer, Osiris legacy-ponderer to ruining skating forevermore.

Mike Vallely’s One-Minute X-Games Part in the Blue Helmet Is Not the Video Part Your Summer Asked For but the One It Deserves

June 27, 2015

In his tactical 1970s business fable ‘The Lorax,’ Dr. Seuss venerated capitalism’s transformative power via a versatile garment dubbed the ‘thneed,’ a rangy soft thing wearable as a sock, a hat or an overlarge large glove, but also capable of covering bicycle seats, draping windowspaces and carpeting floors. Despite the efforts of various stash-pocket crafting footwear concerns and Foundation’s legendary cinch-shirt, the skateboarding industry has yet to hit upon its thneed. However, when pondering the thneed’s potential further function as grandiose metaphor, New Jersey strongman Mike Vallely has it ‘sewn up’ when it comes to the pro boarding career as a multipronged stepping stool or crowbar toward further pathways and trades, some better explored than others.

Lo, and consider: Mike Vallely alternately over the past 30 years has functioned as the hot-shoe am; deck-shape innovator; Steve Rocco cohort and nemesis in turns; launcher of at least six different board companies; slam poet; pro wrestler; pro hockey player; three-time rider for George Powell; vegan advocate; maniacal tourer; ‘Beef’-style DVD star and vicarious defender of skate honour; Black Flag manager; Black Flag singer; titular performer in Mike V and the Rats; founding father of Revolution Mother; supporting actor to Paul Blart; podcaster; and more recently, streetstyle helmet-endorser.

No longer shall Mike Vallely bear ‘contest-contending pro’ upon his CV, however, declaring the other day that his entry into this year’s X-Games ‘Real Street’ video contest “is definitely the last competition of any kind that I participate in.” Destiny may or may not have other plans in store for the windy and sometimes foggy path it so far has set for Mike Vallely, but for the time being it is hugely fortunate for the planetary public that such a competitive swan song doubles as the most singularly ‘summertime’ video part yet concocted this year – reflecting Mike Vallely’s many and sundry and sometimes peculiar skate-biz travels this section sticks out like a sore vestigial tail from those of his rivals, the oldest of whom runs 13 years his junior and none of whom wear a helmet or have used their physical fists to free the Muska from overbearing security agents.

Bursting with solar wattage, our-street-could-be-your-spot accessibility and curatorially mismatched sneakers, the ‘Real Street’ video makes a big nod back to Mike Vallely’s seismic ’Public Domain’ section using the type of era-specific construction that similarly made Etnies’ World park ‘Skate and Create’ entry one of the best things to come out of that TWS project. It’s been a minute since Mike Vallely put out a more straight-up video part that didn’t also include voiceovers and touring toil footage, which is too bad – trimmed of gravity and seriousness all the street plants and gonzo schrapling make some handrailing and wallie-concerned video parts recorded by comer-uppers half his age look grim and calculated by comparison.

Would a ‘Real Street’ contest win cement Street Plant Skateboards as the last stop on Mike Vallely’s deck-manufacturer endorsement dancecard and help produce a longer part like this? Why has Airwalk been left out of the hazy corporate seance that has attempted to revive nearly all other defunct or culturally comatose skate companies? Has Baby learned anything from his breakup with Lil Wayne that will make him handle things differently with Thugger? Will Mike Vallely be proven right on helmets and thus force future historians to re-evaluate Ryan Sheckler’s tweenage street footage?


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