Posts Tagged ‘Black Label’

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?

Excerpts From “Trash” In The June 1993 Issue Of Thrasher

July 16, 2012

HARD TIMES

Henry Sanchez, Mike Carroll, Julien Stranger and Tobin Yelland had a run-in with some mini-mobsters in the Mission District of SF. After a brief altercation, the young hoods shattered the windshield of Tobin’s car with a pipe. Ten minutes later, cops pulled them over for no windshield. Tobin had no license, so he was promptly issued a two hundred dollar fine.

Meanwhile in LA, Ron Chatman’s car got stolen with all his and Mark Gonzales’ skate gear in it.

John Cardiel and Mike Ranquet went off to Japan for some snowboard deal. Cards told the tale of being ripped off by the contest promoters to the tune of $2000. When he finally got back home, he was starving.

Contrary to rumors, John Lucero’s Black Label is not out-of-business. His team is still intact, but Jason Dill jumped ship just as the finishing touches were being made on his model. Former Blockhead rider Jeremy Wray has hooked up a deal with a new company called Color Skateboards.

HALL OF NAMES

Brian Ferdinand is still unattached and unbelievable. Gravedigger Ross Goodman has been seen skating the vert ramp in Sacramento. Shawn Martin is back in the City after a brief stint in Sac.

Seen skating around SF: Alfonzo Rawls, Eric Koston, Chris Senn, Barker Barrett, Greg Hunt, Joey Suriel, Fabian Alomar, recently departed NHS rider Andy Roy, Danny Way and Mike Ternasky (who was filming for guess what?). Not one to be underdone, Pat Duffy kickflip noseslid the well-lathered Hubba Hideout. New kids taking the blocks at EMB by storm include Sean Young, Greg Hunt, Dan Drehobl, Erik Pupecki and Jamie Thomas.

Guy Mariano and Tim Gavin have been living in the redesigned World park. On a recent afternoon, the topic of discussion was Dae Won’s apparent fakie pivot grind 360 kickflip out. The new World facility format is sans mini-ramp and under four-feet tall. Rodney Mullen liked it so much that he moved his whole office there.

WHICH HUNT

Which major team manager/owner recently held a team meeting to discuss “tight money?”

Which one-time mega company’s manufacturing complex was surrounded by a battalion of North American Van Lines moving trucks in the ultimate down-sizing exercise?

Which Philadelphia, PA homeboy was chased from EMB by Jovontae Turner and Don Carey?

Which world’s biggest skate factory owner announced in the newspaper that he’s been forced to sell said facility? Did the same guy also lay claim to industry leadership in the same article? Did he additionally pose for Action Sports Retailers, that geriatric journal of consumerism, riding a box scooter?

MOLD TIMES

Rick BLackhart is doing his own line of trucks straight outta San Jo.

The Master of Disaster, Duane Peters, has sworn off drinking and started a new band called The Exploding Fuck Dolls. Members include Art and Steve Godoy, a guy named Ricky and another called Goatfucker.

FULL BLEED

Todd Swank has become so hands-on oriented that he now thrives on screening all his four-color sublimations himself. Artist Larry Clark has worked to create some fine art skates. The boards depict female genitalia and sell for $3500.

Natas Kaupas was seen in San Fernando hanging out with Guess? super-model Anna Nicole and Adam McNatt. Following that, the trio did a multi-media deity in the desert.

First Spike Jonez moved into a luxury power office high atop the La Brea Tar Pits. Then he moved into Howard Hughes’ old sun-lit sex palace apartment. Now Spike’s been seen hanging in San Diego.

NO BONES

Stacy Peralta, who left the skate scene to pursue his interest in films, was seen in South Carolina hanging with NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty. Peralta filmed numerous hot laps with Petty for an undisclosed future project.

Jay Adams was recently spotted on Oahu’s North Shore consoling Ty Page over the recent death of Ty’s wife. Mark Bowden and Tony Jetton were also in effect. Jetton is said to be opening a step aerobics clinic in Hawaii. Jay continues to surf and skate unabated.

Details were sketchy regarding a pro street contest in Daytona Beach, Florida, during spring break. The site changed at the last minute but East Coast locs Tom Boyle and Lance Conklin took second and first respectively. Other highlights included Jen O’Brien on MTV in the Beauty and the Beach contest at the parking lot of wet willie’s Daiquiri Bar.

UTTER NONSENSE

“I’m number one now and I’m never gonna slip.” –Keith Cochrane

“You can only be angry everyday.” –Todd Swank

As A Service To Readers We Are Not Employing Any ‘Kid’-Themed Puns In The Subject Line For This Post About Jason Adams Confronting Some Weighty Grown-Up Issues, Even Though We Could Have Without Thinking About It Real Hard

June 18, 2012

There are hard truths in this world that prove themselves out over the course of time: kids grow up, things fall apart, sponsored tweens will land the 900 on a skatecamp vert ramp and graduate to a lucrative soft drink endorsement deal. Perennial kid Jason Adams underscores that first one recently in a sprawling, sometimes dark interview with Paradigm Magazine, in which he paints the rather bleak picture of confronting adult responsibilities as a kind of misfit toy set adrift from the island of misfit toys, partly thanks to the global economic collapse and also some general frustration with the cliquish nature of the skate biz.

He also, towards the end, gets around to challenging one of the most-flogged cliches to grace a TWS Pro Spotlight (or equivalent) — that old chestnut, “skateboarding saved my life.” There’s some hardscrabble substance black-hole stories where you’re inclined to take this as literally true, but there’s far more instances where you read a line like that and wonder well, would Skater X really have wound up in a burial plot had that Variflex not come into his life at just the right time, or would he instead have found a BMX bike, Magic the Gathering, a book on ventriloquism, gone off to pursue a liberal arts education at a public state university, gradually left off skating after moving off to land an entry-level job and secure a domestic lifestyle, etc.

In this interview, Jason Adams puts a pessimistic spin on the old phrase, wondering whether that lifelong muse, creative outlet and source of personal fulfillment may have left him with a body full of aches and a limited means with which to support his family, as the industry looks to cull pro ranks and veterans are expected to continue jumping through various hoops.

There are times I would have said skateboarding, or punk rock saved my life. To be honest, now I wonder if it saved my life, or ruined my life. It’s an inspiring thing and I think people make it out to be bigger than it was, but it’s no different than good art or good writing. If you think of it as a social clique, I would never jive with it, just like I didn’t jive with a lot of skaters all of the time. You can look at it two ways. It can be this beautiful inspiring thing that gives you hope. Or these things can be distractions, and that’s the negative way to look at it. I’m going back to life is shit … We need distractions. Is it a distraction, or a beautiful inspiring thing? To me it’s an inspiring thing, and it’s different to every person; it could be like their religion. It’s our religion basically and we can take it as seriously, or as lightly as we want to. It’s really dramatic to say it’s saving your life, or it could save your life. There’s a lot in that statement.

Jason Adams doesn’t come off as bitter in this interview, more circumspect and defiant and maybe tired. He talks about approaching life on his own terms and some consequences once you come out the other side a grown-up with heavy responsibilities. Another old skate-interview cliche he doesn’t challenge though is the one about the soul-crushing office job being just maybe slightly better than being boiled alive in hot lead, in spite of any fiscal antidotes to money problems, etc.

I remember being a kid watching my dad go to work and thinking, no fucking way dude, he’s a miserable man, I can tell. I’ll never be my father, I’ll never do that, I can’t do it.’ Sometimes I question whether it’s hurt me to go so against it. Maybe I should have just sucked it up. I’ll admit at my weak moments I do think that, but that’s just because I’ll be stressed. I’ll look at my kids and think they deserve better, but what does a bigger house mean? Everyone has weak moments; it’s whether you give into them.

Whenever I read the “rather die than work in an office” I used to think it was a bit rich for a pro skater to say, since they enjoy the talent to have the option, whereas the rest of us don’t have that luxury. It carries a little more weight when Jason Adams reiterates the point in this interview, though, since the way he describes it now his choices are more limited and his need to put food on the table a lot more real. His comments regarding disillusionment with the functions of the industry makes you wonder, though. Is working a white-collar job really the living hell it is sometimes described as? What are the most viable paths for transitioning out of the pro ranks as the autumn years approach? Should Jason Adams’ boards on Elephant also bear the nickname “the Adult”? Is this whole topic ‘too heavy for Transworld’?

9. Chet Childress – “God Save the Label”

December 22, 2009

Flameboy to the Wet Willy that was Lance Mountain’s Flip video section, Chet Childress’ hard-luck tale of broken teeth and soggy pinatas teaches us that there’s little love to be found even in a state controlled by aging hippies and home to free skateparks built by harmonious units of best friends. Here we find Childress zipping switch-stance through Burnside’s humps and bumps and crunching coping, but the part also functions as a comment on video production at the height of the Great Recession, keeping the filming trips to a cross-town minimum and saving pennies that wealthier companies might have spent on a color picture. All’s we’re saying is if you’re likely to do most of your business in concrete parks anyway there’s less photogenic locales you could select, and the bent-arm bro’s coping-pop remains at an all-time high.

The Pit and the Pendulum

September 6, 2009

ThrowingStar
Stick it

Belatedly wrapping up our rundown of the Black Label video, a topic that has spanned two months here, by looking back to the imperatively titled TWS production “Let’s Do This!” and specifically, Brian Brown’s part: at the time, watching this section tended to tire me out trying to keep track of the tricks, as nearly every clip was a sequence event incorporating a wallie, wallride, manual or some other shit. Chris Troy, a professional skateboarder for the Label as of last week, is a similar breed, having apparently never met a 360 or 360 shove-it he didn’t like and seeking to incorporate these into damn near every trick he does. It’s a lot to take in, and there are times when he pulls it off super impressively – the fakie bigspin feeble grind is a ballsy move for sure, though maybe not in the same league as skating to a brand-new Rancid song. Other times though it’s cool to see him do a sort of more simple trick, for instance, the crooked grind backside 180 at the Kellen James ledge, a breath of fresh air amongst the bigspins to boardslides to whirlybirds.

Shuriken Shannon tilts things in the other direction, kicking off his last-part performance with two ollies, on flat, in a line. In a couple different ways this dude is helping shift Black Label’s overall aesthetic but he’s doing it via a Lews Marnell type of solid/frill-free skating (lime grip and occasional ledge combos aside) that gets over mostly on mashing those four little urethane circles to the ground all at the same time in a fairly satisfying way. There are techy moves, like the fakie inward heelflip and the ghetto bird (?) over the rail, but stuff like the 50-50 kickflip, switch frontside 5-0 and backside heelflip are more the rule, and I’d put the ender-ender into this category too – that spot I really like for the purposes of video clips, because it’s naturally occurring, appears kind of scary and tricks look good going down it, especially if people land switch and have to carve it out.

In other vids you’d have to wonder whether our friend the throwing star has the fireworks necessary to close out a feature-length production but one of the things “GSTL” has going for it, like Black Label generally, is the panoply* of styles/terrains/archetypes as opposed to six or seven parts of stretch-denimed greasers taking aim at handrails or tall-teed technicians rotating in and out of New Era fits. I don’t carry a huge torch for Black Label or anything but Lucero’s institutional expertise and general viewpoint are as necessary as they’ve ever been (insert comment re: this day/age here), they make good videos, and have aged well as the glam rock wave crested earlier this decade… to whatever extent they owned some of that real estate before the Baker Boys/Hollywood/Pigwood community moved in, and they’re doing a nice job keeping up the neighborhood.

*BTO’s college word of the day for you

Rushing Elephants

August 31, 2009

pink_elephants
The psychedelic Walt Disney reference so nice we used it… again

There was, and probably still is, a certain breed of skateboarder that works second-shift assembly line jobs, uses their deck to clean weed as often as skating it, and gets evicted from cheap apartments. They’re not the best dudes skating the spot, but maybe they buy liquor for the best dudes, and you could say these types remain a crucial part of the skating DNA as far as flying the high school dropout/”fuck an office job” flag. I’m pretty sure this demographic still exists – I hope it does – and would like to think of future “buy a vowel” T-Eddy contender Ben Skrzypek as a sort of standard-bearer, because he totally looks the part. I’m pretty into this guy’s section in “God Save the Label,” because he skates different from most of the others and somehow ups the sleaze factor, no small feat in a Black Label vid, whilst generally skating much faster than you’d expect with a dude who looks like his off-board time is spent dealing bammer weed out of a single-wide trailer and flipping a butterfly knife around. There is validity to the Rob Welsh comparison on some of these ride-aways (like the fakie flip b/s nosegrind) and it’s always nice to see a dude on the make who’s not caught up in the outfit wars. We are partial to the switch frontside heelflip over the rail of course, the backside flip over the hydrant, and the cracked ender that looks like it took some balls to ride out.

Whereas Skrzyp6qrxpek rarely shifts from his black tee motif, Adam Alfaro continues the rich history of in-the-public-eye pros aligning themselves (read: dressing up as) members of their favorite band. On its face this practice may be considered uncreative and/or laughable, but I sort of thought Alfaro had something going with his desert-dweller GY!BE deal. So in some ways it seems like he’s lightened up for his part in this video: colorful socks and some loopy spots with a comparatively bouncy song and those effortless kickflips. The carve-around ditch kicker thing looks like a snowboard spot, and pretty fun.

But if you’re short on spots, or buy into Chet Childress’s sob story about a bad recession ruining his scheme to frontside grind the Taj Mahal, you could do worse than film a one-spot video part at the ever-mutating Burnside, and the harebrained hillbilly is probably among the better-suited types to pull such a thing off. He’s claiming Portland as a hometown of sorts now, and while he could possibly claim Canada after pushing a Wu-Tang sample for his song, the Label benefits from the thematic push forward I think. And the part’s good, full of trademark Chetisms such as the bluntslide pop-out, the 5-0 revert, as well as an eyebrow-raising switch drop-in and some weird disaster sorta stuff. It is also mostly free of ebonics, for those of you who A. watched the NBTT skits and B. reacted negatively. Personally I rank Chet Childress among the better skate video actors, up there with Tony Ferguson, Keenan Milton and Lance Mountain, but it’s all about the script innit?

Veni Diddy Vici

August 30, 2009

VDV2
Render unto John Lucero…

Haven’t heard a great deal of buzz over the new Black Label video, which debuted a few weeks back, something that could be chalked up to people being busy tearing up obsolete Berrics brackets, downloading any of the other 40 videos that came out this summer, or still watching “Debacle” which is high in this blog’s personal running for top five vids of the year (maybe). Whatever the case it’s kind of a shame because the venerable Black Label spirit is very much intact through this new production, despite dumping half the team and making some questionable additions over the last couple years. Not that it means much, but when they put out that preview clip a few months ago, I didn’t know who half the dudes were, and this is coming from somebody who recently went out of their way to read a Slap board topic listing all their flow kids.

Scraggly speedster Vince Del Valle I had heard of, and mainly associated with that one Adidas ad where he’s doing a backside tailslide shove-it on a ledge above a set of stairs – it made a more interesting ad than usual because they’d gone with the still shot instead of the sequence, well-timed with the shove-it halfway to his feet, which probably incited a few arguments amongst the current crop of driveway kickflippers as to what trick it was supposed to be really. When Vince Del Valle popped up as the first elephant on parade in “God Save the Label” I was hoping to see how it turned out, since that maneuver wasn’t in his “Diagonal” clip… alas, not. But there’s plenty of chicken-fried flavor to this part, which includes tricks over pieces of trash and a proper 90’s-style switch` hardflip into a ditch – on a related topic VDV also packs one of the more classical 360 flips in a world gone mad with Brian Boitano flare-foot*. Also nice: the underpass escalator backside lipslide, pictured above, the tailslide to regular on a rail, cruise control on the multicolored bank and the horns chiming in for the helicopter ender.

*We’re blogging at you, Josiah Gatlyn

Leather prowler

September 26, 2008


Ambiguous indeed

Now, I’m not saying Peter Watkins looks like a well-worn adult film star here, but… I can’t think of a way to end this post.