Posts Tagged ‘Ben Gilley’

The Rise of Hazzard County

May 3, 2020

The world is unfair. If you are physiologically tall, like Tyshawn Jones, it’s easier to do high jumps up things like the EMB six, even switch. If you are low and short, you possess an inborn advantage when navigating spots like the double duck-under bump to gap that Chris Jones skates in ‘365 Days,’ or not hitting your head in low-ceilinged parking ramps. If you possess super powers, you can bust through walls or save individuals from burning buildings or wallride heavy machinery.

Not every advantage is rooted in squishy biology. Generations reared under California’s staring sun and snow-free temperate temps can guzzle cheap imported beer and train for the Olympic Contest all year round, rich with spots and pools and parks all over the place. Denizens of crumbly urbanaties like New York and Philadelphia enjoy doing their tricks against the appealing architectural densities that power some of the world’s most important t-shirt brands. In America’s Pacific Northwest, fever-dreaming hellriders scooped and shaped ever-gnarlier concrete bowls, waves and swirly whirls into breeding barns to populate the ATV era.

But what if some massive, invisible force grasped this intricate and arousing ecosystem of genetic haves, geographical have-nots and assorted others, then shook it vigorously, erasing the standing order similar to a galactic Etch-A-Sketch? Under the microscopic, economy-smashing fists of C0V1D-I9 it is happening. Even as coastal dwellers in California, Washington, New York and Florida remain locked down to various extents, the Great South, Texas’ tidal grasslands and the Dakota fracking grounds are ripe for the proverbial ripping. While socially distant pros and bros sheltering in industry meccas await Amazon deliveries of Iphone tripods and annoy downstairs neighbors with IG flatground challenges, their Red state counterparts increasingly are free to hoover sand from freshly emancipated skateparks, reacquaint themselves with ‘Night Prowler’ fisheye proximities and clip up. In the fast-moving, fickle and fad-devouring world of skateboarding, kids may soon recall coastal dominance of ‘the culture’ only via moss-gathering YouTube embeddings and lore passed down in recreationally scented whispers of oldsters staking out the skatepark parking lot curb.

What would it look like if the industry’s center of gravity shifted below the Mason-Dixon line? Glimpses can be glimpsed via past exploits of past southern-state heavies including Opry-minded handrail cannonballer Ben Gilley, genteel Real retiree James Hardy, hot rod-loving and glam rocking swamp rat Sal Barbier, once and future hessian kingpin Jamie Thomas, Texan ditch coinesseur Michael Sieben. The image in sharpest recent relief comes from Atlanta’s Justin Brock, who dusted off his blue jeans, goatee and guitar rawk last week for a burner of a part for Stratosphere. His fakie master status remains intact in his current team management role, riding a long fakie 5-0 off a loading dock ledge and Rick flipping a sizable crust stretch, and the frontside bigspin is strong as ever, whipping one up a Chicago curb and then fakie down a heaping helping of stairs. He’s got a confident hand-point on the table-top backside lipslide at one point, and the nollie flip wallride enter is Jake Johnson-level force and mysticism.

Is the vision of a southern-led and -fried skate sphere, as laid out by Justin Brock, George Thorogood, Young Jeezy and Skid Row really such a bad thing? Will easing lockdowns draw filming trips to Midwestern and Southern states, delivering an economic boost to their budget motel chains, liquor stores and strip clubs? Would a longterm skate-industry tilt toward Southern and Midwestern states leave the industry dangerously vulnerable to hurricanes, tornados, dry county regulations and Boss Hogg?

The Great Shark Hunt

December 15, 2009


James Brockman, Elissa Steamer, Chris Cole/Tom Asta, Tommy Sandoval and Sheldon Meleshinski on the set of Zero’s “Strange World.” Not pictured: Young Jeezy, Richard Nixon and the interns from “Mythbusters”

Bringing it all the way around, we shall now contemplate whether the Snowman-powered Chris Cole/Tom Asta section is meant to characterize Zero’s “Strange World” in the same way that Ally McBeal’s torrid affair with Jon Bon Jovi came to characterize the final years of FOX’s “Single Female Lawyer.” There is the combination of old and new in Cole and Asta themselfs, Young Jeezy on a Soulja Boy instrumental indicating the continued dominance of the South and Atlanta in particular, and this time around, nobody gets smacked in the face when Chris Cole does his cab frontside blunt on the handrail. It is a section of contrasts that also features a manly nollie heelflip backside lipslide from young Asta, who has morphed from a rail-centered pipsqueak in his OIAM days to a pipsqueak who has time to kickflip into and out of the same backside tailslide if the desire so moves him.

There are other pipsqueaks at work here, suggesting that Jamie Thomas may actually have been bummed that Zero already burned through the “New Blood” title a ways back: Donovan Piscopo brings kind of an Austyn Gillette update to the Bobier part in “Misled Youth” and stocky Canadian Jamie Tancowny* runs roughshod over a good deal of different terrains in the curtain-bringer-downer, karate kicking his varial heelflips and f/s reverting out of a stock k-grind which is a more interesting take than I’ve seen for a while on a handrail. The awesome clipper backside flip is there, with perhaps a brief view of the disappearing sequence-ruiner, as well as a giant switch backside 180 and frontside heelflip, and the Thrasher bigspin cover that came out super good. At 20 or whatever he is who knows whether he’ll get any taller, but aside from shit like the kickflip noseslide Tancowny’s generally safe from the trappings of lil-kid style.

Elsewise the likes of Garrett Hill and James Brockman come off better in this video than in some past appearances, with Hill looking kinda more polished and Brockman executing some pretty major moves that are hard to cast aside, though we have not been huge fans in the past. It would’ve been cool to see more footage of Rattray, whose street stuff seemed more invigorated than in recent years, and the same with Ben Gilley’s southern caveman act, which has somehow become more entertaining and bracing as years go by. It’s like he’s got more to lose by throwing what looks like a sizable frame onto those railings, maybe. One-eyed Sheldon Meleshinski has one of the best tricks in the whole video with a bigspin backside tailslide that’s spun straight into the camera and looks all ridiculous. This posting would also be remiss if it didn’t mention Dane Berman’s ollie into the channel bank as one of the scarier-looking feats in recent memory.

This video was actually more anticipated around the BTO play-yard than the past few Zero vids in part because of the hallucinatory stylistic change-up. It kind of reminded me of the mid-90s, when Nine Inch Nails kept heading further down the spiral and you wondered eventually whether he’d have to just off himself to keep things headed to their natural thematic conclusion. Zero had taken the skulls/death motif to a pretty minimal end in “New Blood” so the fresh bad-trip approach was welcome, but it’s interesting too how closely some of the editing and whatnot stayed to the “Thrill of it All”/”Misled Youth” era – thinking here of Gilley’s 50-50 attempts/accomplishment, Garrett Hill’s fumbling 50-50 transfer at the beginning of his section, the overall pretty enjoyable soundtrack and the tight 30-minute runtime. Zero makes these videos cheap nowadays and both this and the Slave one are worthwhile.

*whose “Lil Fucky” nickname is I think one of the best ones out in a while