Posts Tagged ‘Ben Kadow’

A New Gilded Age For Skate Videos

December 2, 2018

There is more hugging in the new Supreme vid than you might think. A heartfelt Tyshawn Jones embrace features in promotional posters tucked into Thrasher and plastered across New York City in the run-up to the billion-dollar streetwear barony’s new full-length, emphasis on the full. Bloby pickup Kevin Rodrigues collects three after one clip, Sean Pablo rolls straight into a businesslike squeeze after successfully stepping to a backside lipslide on the Jake Johnson rail, and Sage Elsesser appears to willingly accept the outstretched arms of Andy Roy. Dudes sitting and watching tricks hug. ‘Blessed,’ which surpasses President Trump’s most-recent State of the Union address in length, freely ladles out the love: These young men bound by the red box-logo are older, better and seemingly tighter than ever, drawn close by their good fortune, high-value boxes, and a tinge of tragedy. Each heavy clip, many slathered in slow-mo, culminates in relief in the trick conquered, exaltation in the accomplishment, and joy in bro-dom. Bill Strobeck’s title, obligatory quotation marks included, says it all.*

This universe is a far cry from headbutts dealt to uppity sneakerheads, but going strictly off the skating, ‘Blessed’ justifies its celebratory vibes. Ben Kadow, he of the thousand-yard stare and latent disgruntlement, hurls himself onto rails and electrical boxes out the gate, but even he eventually succumbs to a satisfied grin by the time he chews through a couple boards on a jagged crescent-shaped lipslide. Rowan Zorilla, who still looks odd decked out in Supreme gear, delivers off-kilter jaw-slackeners including a China Banks nollie flip, another wallie noseblunt for the 2018 tally, and a how-the-fuck nose manual wallride. Sage Elsesser steps to Pulaski’s dishes from another, lower level; Kevin Bradley presses pause on his piling-out campaign to throw a beautiful over-bin heelflip and huck at the Brooklyn Banks. Splindly Blue Steel-worker Sean Pablo flicks a rather mean backside flip to fakie 5-0 at the bank-to-hubba spot while a new generation of tween onlookers man the fence, and elsewhere gets unexpectedly gnarly, backside lipsliding the Jake Johnson rail and taking a picture-perfect line down a three stack under security duress. For goodness’ sake, Na’kel Smith makes slamming look fun.

It is Tyshawn Jones, however, whose curtain-dropper asserts a measure of severity and awe, turning in what must be the heaviest east coast video part since Jake Johnson tore down walls in ‘Mindfield.’ It’s just a handful of clips here that wouldn’t stand as enders for other, lesser pros, and some whose like hasn’t much been seen before — the switch backside 360 over the can, say, or the enormously lofted fakie float over the bar. Bill Strobeck’s lingering and oft-zoomy lens soaks in the pain, struggle and eventual euphoria permeating the last few tricks, and it’s hard to turn ‘Blessed’ off without the feeling that Tyshawn Jones has changed the conversation at some level. (And then there’s the nollie flip.)

The onetime Fat Bill evolved out of the primordial VX-toting ooze to become one of the relatively few videomaking iconoclasts out there, with a fairly set group of muses, a much-derided/much-copied style, and legit classics to his resume. Surely ‘Blessed’ applies to its editor/director as much as any of his leading dudes, and he is savoring their shared moment — but at 84 minutes, he overextends himself, and there are points where ‘Blessed’ drags despite its adherence to a more classical part-part-part structure. Despite all its montages and occasional interludes, ‘Cherry’ kept things moving for a fairly brisk 40 minutes. Here, you’re watching screwed footage of Ben Kadow on a light-up wheeled cruiser for 40 seconds, or waiting as la smoke curls for the duration of Jason Dill’s ‘Trilogy’ part. There’s a lengthy EMB session capturing the crew’s chemistry, but it gets you wondering whether Bill Strobeck’s real aim is to memorialize and immortalize two years of these Supreme kids collectively ‘in the window,’ traveling the world, wearing expensive clothing pieces, and living their best lifes before the vagaries of adulthood encroach — versus constructing a more functional, digestable skate video. His filming, reliably aped here and there by Johnny Wilson, in some cases only obscures any perspective of the trick or spot at hand. There are Madinna and Motley Crue singles, incongruously.

Wave aside for a moment though what ‘Blessed’ is, or is not, and instead slow-mo pan across what it says — at a time when Instagram, Youtube and other FAANG-funded suspects are meant to have brutalized attention spans and left the full-length skate video for dead, we arrive at the end of 2018 with a bushelful of projects, some ranking among the decade’s most vital. Quasi, Polar, Bronze, GX1000, Element, Foundation, Primitive, Alltimers, Cons, Vans, Girl and Transworld all put out meaty and worthwhile video releases this year; even Etnies saw fit to offer its first in 23 years. The bloat of ‘Blessed’ itself can be celebrated, in that its frenetically collabing, billion-dollar benefactors believe in not just the concept of an hour-plus vid but will support the dude with the vision. Years after ‘Pretty Sweet,’ ‘Stay Gold,’ ‘Fully Flared’ and other big-ticket productions were declared in sotto vice to variously be ‘tha last video ever,’ a bumper crop of great videos, worth revisiting as a whole or in parts — the opening Portland tear in ‘We Blew It,’ Jake Johnson’s uphill roof flip for Converse, Buggy Talls’ switch 180 manual impossible out on the big block in ‘Its Time,’ Jeff Carlyle’s vein-pumping arms-down descents in ‘Roll Up,’ etc — suggest a new gilded age of skate videos at hand.

With internet users reportedly cutting back on Facebook pokes and youngsters formulating fewer Tweets, is it too early to declare the World Wide Web ‘totally over’ and with it, mouldering and half-sensical blogging outlets? Would there have been more hugging in the GX video if dudes weren’t moving so fast? Does Sean Pablo’s extended middle finger segment suggest he’s embraced Richard D. James as his next stylistic touchstone? Will Bill Strobeck’s use of ‘Birthday Boy’ boost Ween sufficiently in the skate video music supervision power rankings such that kids next year will soundtrack IG clips to ‘Touch My Tooter’ and ‘Poop Ship Destroyer’?

*Also, weed

Heated Seats And Pants With No Pleats

October 17, 2015

judge_kiss

“There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it,” grumbled the dark lord Sauron in a recent and grumbly voiceover advertising the new Star Wars movie. “The dark side, and the light.” The vibrant world of wookies and hard-partying ewoks again has fallen into strife and discord, lousy with massing storm troopers and crashed spaceships. It represents an extension of what is perhaps the nation’s best-known workplace drama, in which the rigors of toiling under the Emperor’s exacting standards caused Darth Vader to crack and fail to recoup the Empire’s lofty investment in the initial Death Star, then resign his position before construction on the second could complete.

Darth Vader, like so many other career professionals laboring under layers of blubbery bureaucracy, encountered distressors* that occasionally drove him to lash out at colleagues and competitors, employing telekinesis and a lazery sword in equal measure, often illegally. As hinted by the Star Warrior-baiting Santa Cruz decks of yesteryear, Darth Vader’s broiling frustrations may mirror those gripping the skateboard sphere in these, the autumn days of 2015.

Like an incredulous Death Star space welder handed a snorkel, a flathead screwdriver and an unconvincing clap on the shoulder, stakes and requirements for workaday professional bros seem to ratchet ever higher while the constraints of a turbulent global economy seem intent on culling the industry herd. Once high-flying board affairs like Alien Workshop, Zero and Girl are undergoing painful evolutions, while rumors swirl around the future of Dekline shoes and Adio has taken to advertising former team riders in its bid for continued relevance. Signature-model toting professionals increasingly are expected to bear the responsibility of marketing themselves via crowd-courting internet pages, and we live in a time when not only is it unshocking to see a marginally-known amateur break off tricks like Gabriel Summers’ shiveringly gnarly nosegrind, it also is de regueur do it nominally for free. Olympic endorsement contracts would beckon skateboarding’s sobriety-compatible 1%, while remaining ne’er do wells contemplate crowdfunding raisers to sop up medical bills.

Are stress levels within skating’s grand talent pool rising to a Vader level in which colleagues get choked out at sit-down meetings? You hear these things, but it is hard to know for sure. There are signs and siguls, including but not limited to growth in powerviolence-sprinkled parts and graphics, or soundtracks bearing murderer music. Vignettes tucked into ‘Sabotage 4’ and the ‘Our Life’ video, two of the grittier and grottier outputs of recent weeks, feature fights with cops and passersby, recalling a previous industry crunch that manifested itself in part via board-to-drill combat.

Veins of latent but palpable anger burble beneath the overcast surface and betwixt combusting switchstance tricks in Gilbert Crockett’s ‘Salt Life’ video part for the redubbed Quasi, an outfit forged from the wreckage and occasional raw feelings of a highflying corporate adventure gone kaput. Quasi’s initial video look transposes some of the hi-contrast and sharp cuts of their graphical concepts, anchored in a somewhat deeper trench of Gilbert Crockett’s technical skating, including a crunchy switch backside smith grind and one of the more eye-popping switch shove-its in recent memory, and peppered with enraged grunts and a viciously celebratory board beating.

Has the quantity of cathartic, building-slapping wallrides and wallies risen in lockstep with the industry’s general level of fiscal insecurity? Will snapchatted pro boxing matches emerge as a multipronged answer to slackened incomes and late night instagram sniping? May all of it be symptomatic of a divide-and-conquer conspiracy among deep-pocketed sportswear and drink manufacturers? Does the environment grow ever riper for a Bo Turner comeback?

*versus happier eustressors trafficked among those hard-partying ewoks and jawas