Posts Tagged ‘Burton’

6. Dylan Rieder – “Dylan”

December 26, 2010

Whether or not he was as backed into a career-corner as his going-there “Epicly Later’d” made it sound, the Jake Burton-underwitten one-part promo wallop did a fine job resetting the gameboard for Dylan Rieder this fall. Earlier we were comparing him to Heath Kirchart due to danger-moves like the handrail switch flip and the boardslide to bus dodge, but rewatching this a few months later and there seems like a really “Visual Sound” tinge to some of this stuff like the bar ollie/frontside 180, the schoolyard line and that sidewalk run with the long lipslide on the white block… maybe it’s the button-ups. Still a little out to lunch on the Dracula cape-drawing moves with the forearm but supremely stoked on his left foot in the backside smith grind, resurrecting one of the better non-Penny kickflip shifties out there, and how many of his teammates filmed clips for his part.

The Last Post About “Mind Field” For A While, No But Seriously

February 19, 2009

Seriously though (pic via Slap)

With the Alien Workshop video pretty much a total success on all fronts* it’s kind of ironic, possibly in an Alanis Morissette actually-not-really-ironic-but-just-shitty sort of a way, that “Mind Field” may be the last gasp of the full-length skate video as a statement-of-purpose document, or if you like, a tool to separate the nourishing wheat from the boring chaff company-wise. Skate videos seem to be streaming their way away from the five-years-in-the-making blockbuster and toward the free/internet promo: DNA and Black Box both have indicated that they’re probably going to pursue more “Regal Road/Kalis in Mono” and Stallion/Eldridge promo-type releases as Youtube wreaks its convenient havoc upon video profitability, which would imply annual videos comprised of parts from whoever’s cracking at the time and a gradual dribbling out of tricks from the vets, for better or for worse.

“Mind Field” is really great; it surpassed my expectations, and though it’s not perfect (alas, no skate vids really is) the depth of the thing and the slow-burn factor that DNA videos tend to have make it a stong candidate for classic status. So a little more random bullshit on this video, then I’m done:

-I’m sort of surprised at the complaints in the comments here and elsewhere regarding the degree of artsy-fartsiness at play, until I remember that “Memory Screen” came out what, 18 years ago. (For what it’s worth I think the art factor runs a little bit closer to that production than “Photosynthesis,” which probably has something to do with the latter video’s shorter runtime.) Right, well, the Segway thing kind of dragged on. But generally it was exactly what I was looking for: you know, grainy seagulls, weird satellite antennas, bizarre paper mache creatures, time lapse melting clouds, all that good shit. Frozen in Carbonite raised the point that a lot of this material would be derided as painfully cliche in another video, which is true, but also kind of the point – I mean, didn’t Alien basically invent this stuff, at least as far as skateboard videos go?

-As far as equating something like that housefly patiently rubbing its hands together ahead of Heath Kirchart’s section to the ad nauseum run/throw board down/roll away clips in “Fully Flared,” I’m not seeing it at all – it’s like an Andy Jenkins board versus a Plan B logo graphic. And I’ll sign on for Dinosaur Jr overkill in lieu of Band of Horses overkill.

-I didn’t post about Dylan Rieder, a skater I still feel kind of conflicted about, but I’ve come to think of his section as the sleeper part of this video – he gets over a little bit too easy in some respects but he’s got a natural way with his tricks with super good execution, and even if it wasn’t quite as good as his “Time to Shine” part I still think that if it were padded with some of the footage from the very generous “B-roll” extras it could have closed out the video. Well, maybe if Heath and AVE got sick. But still: that hair. The Axl Rose hat. Those shoes, those pants. He does win grime points for popping over that crack in the bank-to-bank ollie manual, because I’m sure Jake Burton could’ve sprung for some Bondo. I kind of feel like Greg Hunt’s TWS video editing resume is front and center in this section, like a couple of others, but whatever.

-In all the homage/reference talk, nobody mentioned AVE’s ollie ode to the Nandez?

-Does anybody have a link to Kalis’s alleged custom Jeru song? Platinum Seagulls, we’re looking at you…

-Back to the B-roll, Alien isn’t the first to throw out Youtube remix raw meat like that, but with all that footage plus the “Kalis in Mono” part sans Stones this could turn out to be a pretty brilliant web 3.0 style marketing effort. (Are we up to 3.0 yet? 4.0?)

*With the exception of about three parts, I’d say

Waiting For the Weirdness

February 5, 2009

Among my all-time favorite AWS ads, from TWS, October 1991

Due to certain geographical, connectional and hygienical issues, I have yet to see the Alien Workshop video, certainly my most anticipated skate release since “Fully Flared,” and probably more so really. For sure my hopes are higher in terms of rewatchability and enduring classic-ness: Ten years after Menikmati and Photosynthesis hit VCRs, just one is mentioned with the greats. Pappalardo may not be down with the Sect anymore, but he nailed that one.

In that way however I think DNA has tended to benefit, video release-wise at least, from moving in shadows, much like Ohio itself. The “Inhabitants” premiere, along with “Static 3,” was nearly lost in the dull roar of late-2007 Lakai buzz; in 2003 more people were checking for “Yeah Right” and “The DC Video” (doubtless dubbed by the same visionaries who named The Skateboard Mag) than “Mosaic.” Photosynthesis came out in the shadow of “Menikmati” and “Baker2G,” similar situation for “Time Code” and “Mouse”/”Trilogy”/”Welcome to Hell.”

Although I was young, I think I remember that when “Memory Screen” debuted, eight of the nine dudes who skated had to work.

But when the hour strikes this time, all eyes turn upon Xenia, and as much video hype as “Fully Flared” ginned up, the actual bar for an Alien video probably is higher what with the 20-year legacy, craftsmanship on past features and the degree of art they bring to the table. Also there is the fact that both Carter/Hill and our newly exalted snowboard gods at Burton have something to prove–basically that one of the best/brightest and for sure the most singular top-tier skateboard company has not, forgive the snowbro pun, lost its edge.

I hope not, really. I have gone hard on DNA in the past, mostly because their output does command a higher production standard than, say, Zero, 5Boro, or Cliche, to say naught of the Elements, Plan Bs, Zoo Yorks and so on. Alien Workshop conceived their enduring empire on an early-90s budget, in the bleak Midwest, fueled by sheer weirdness (and great skating, yeah).

So: I hope this video is weird, “Memory Screen” weird, to and past the point of unwatchability; we’ve given Ty Evans a year to draw us beautifully filmed slow-motion high-def diagrams as to why a noseblunt nollie varial heelflip out is good, and now I would like to see some barely visible ollies or perhaps a hook scratching pavement while the Nation of Ulysses drones away. I would be into seeing Heath Kirchart skate to something off “Drum’s Not Dead,” Omar Salazar maybe with the Jesus Lizard, Kalis with rap music. I expect to see shitty super-8 film and spinning antennas, rotting animal carcasses, general Midwestern blight and Anthony Van Engelen. 35 minutes or less. Arto Saari’s part hopefully not as boring as I can imagine it to be. I kind of wonder if golden boy Dylan Rieder will have the last part. I don’t know if that would be good or bad. I want to be shocked and taught, not just by the skating. I wonder if this is a dumb thing to hope for from a skateboard video in 2009.

I see it this weekend on a big screen; full reports to follow, depending on the meltedness of my brain.

(Don’t post spoilers in the comments, as I’ll probably delete them.)

Future Shock

December 2, 2008

File under tea leaves, goat entrails, etc.

Because I sometimes feel this blog doesn’t do nearly as much navel-gazing as the medium seems to require, I’ll be indulging in end-of-year list tedium with regard to video parts and tricks and haircuts and so on. But before we get into all that mess I thought it would be interesting to look back on the 2008 prognostications of another internet commentator, whose anonymous laundry list of skate predictions for this year turned out to be interestingly accurate.

Among others the noble Canucks of Temple Skate Supply put up the list here but I’ll re-post bit by bit, starting with one prediction that finally came true yesterday after more than a year of whisperings:

Blitz breaks up… Flip to NHS… Baker gives up ownership of its name and starts under a new Distribution(deathwish).
And as the world now knows, Flip has indeed packed up its cartoons and kiddie ams and set up shop under Bob Denike’s Norcal empire. The rest is uncertain, but now that Tony Hawk has flown the coop with Birdhouse after buying out Per Welinder and Reynolds & co. have set up Baker Boyz distribution, that leaves the house of Blitz with the Baker name (for the time being)… erm, Hook-Ups, Sk8 Mafia and the venerable Fury trucks. No doubt 2009 will see Mr. Welinder with plenty of time to indulge his “passion for incubating core brands.”

As for the rest of the 2008 predictions:

Rowley and Arto move to a new Burton backed shoe company.
Half right, at least so far, though this was telegraphed well in advance along with the next item…

Burton Buys Workshop and habitat
…which is a dead horse beaten to dust in this space. It did happen.

Appleyard follows his friends and leaves Globe
Or maybe Flip, but as of right now his name remains on both websites, an all-important barometer of team integrity.

TK Rides for ES (the true sign of the end)
I too heard this rather hilarious bit of info, but unfortunately rational thought intervened (to whatever extent it can where Terry Kennedy is involved) and he went to Supra. Ah, for what could have been…

Sheckler Wins the X Games and Finally takes his place as the new reynolds
A quick check of the distressingly lengthy Wikipedia entry on Sheckler’s contest performance reveals that he did indeed win the X-games, though whether he represents the new anything at all remains in high dispute, at least in this space.

Photo incentive photo shopping scandals
What scandal? Things are tough out there, brah. Get those logos in where they fit in. There’s always room for one more.

Big Brother Comes back but only on the internet
True, but discussed years ahead of the Jackass World debut.

Krew gives up traditional skateboard marketing for hollywood glam
This one I’m not sure on, if only because I’m not sure if Krew actively engaged in traditional skateboard marketing to begin with. I guess they had that photo of Penny doing the switch noseblunt, if I remember right. But didn’t they run an ad with Greco doing an actual skate trick recently? That’s like a two-fer right there.

Alphanumeric comes back
They did, though a clothing company returning as a purveyor of high-end (high priced) T-shirts is kind of like a magazine returning as a website…

Circa sells out but hides it by starting a combat division. (pay attention to the left hand while being distracted by the right)
Also true! But most likely it was already in the works for a while when the list was written. I have no idea how well these shoes are selling, but you have to hand it to Circa for having the sheer balls to, in the tradition of Antoine Bugle Boy, see an overcrowded marketplace and say “me too.”

Burton brings birdhouse under its corporate wing
Is there room for B-House to play a sort of un-ironic Skate Mental to DNA’s Girl and Chocolate? I’d be inclined to say no, but it would play into some nice Hawk/White synergies, which I’m assured are all the rage among smart skate conglomerates these days.

Purple Pants become hip
Incorrect, but only because purple pants have always been hip.

Out of pocket

July 23, 2008

When keeping it real goes wrong

Skate magazines these days catch a lot of flack from world-weary oldsters on the internet who view modern interviews in the long shadow of the mid-90s rags, in which certain pro skaters vowed to, for instance, infect every other pro skater they could with the HIV virus. Or simply murder one another. What can I say, it was a different time.

What’s funny, in a not-so-funny way, is that as social standards continue their gentle downward slide, interviews in skateboard magazines have generally gotten less interesting*. Now, there are any number of explanations for this. For one thing, there’s more skateboarders in general, and thanks to the law of averages and the forum provided by the likes of ESPN and the Dew, skateboarding has attracted a greater number of less-interesting individuals than it used to.

Then there’s the general corporatization of the skateboard industry, another slow process, since a lot of reputable corporations are way too uptight when it comes to the type of lackadaisical shipping schedules and haphazard bookkeeping practices that fly at skateboard outfits (shoutout to Ipath). Magazines were one of the first juicy morsels of the industry gobbled up by corporate concerns, since the magazine business is a known commodity. Cue ads for the Army and Ford Trucks, font size limits for the word “fuck,” and the sudden appearance of kiddie graphics over top of previous nudity (from Larry Flynt, of all people).

So yeah, the Time Warners of the world definitely bear some blame for the watering-down of skate magazine content. But what’s becoming more and more clear is that skateboard magazines themselves seem to be doing their damndest to sanitize their own shit.

About a year ago there was that industry-wide panties-bunching over blank boards. You may remember how they destroyed skateboarding forevermore and took food from the mouth of Andrew Reynolds’ baby. Anyway, the IASC printed up a little pamphlet for the winter ASR that featured a load of prominent pros going off on blank decks and espousing the virtues of branded hardgoods concerns, real warm and fuzzy stuff. Part of the deal was that said pros posed for a big group photo in some LA ditch… and around the same time, TWS ran the same photos under the guise of “a bunch of pros getting together for no reason except just to skate, man.” Slap messageboard maven Neal Boyd broke it down nicely here. Kind of slimy altogether.

There’s loads of other political stuff that goes on, photoshopping of shoes and clothing logos of course, and during his recent debate with Jamie Thomas, Clyde Singleton alleged that the Zero chief is notified whenever his name or likeness appears in any magazine, and presumably he gets the final sign-off on it. Which may or may not be true.

Apparently about four months ago Arto spoke with Big Brother/Vice alum Chris Nieratko (who knows from journalism, at least to some degree) for what was, by all accounts, a pretty straightforward interview: what have you been up to, what’s up with injuries, what went on with the big sponsor changes, and the now apparently obligatory questions about his mobile sauna, which I find a total snoozer. But after hanging up the phone, Arto apparently came down with the old 120-day itch and called up the boys at TSM, ordering them to pull the interview… which apparently they did.

Contrary to what a lot of people have said, I don’t have a real hard time seeing why Burton suits would want this axed: Arto said in no uncertain terms how difficult it was to leave Flip, sort of agreed when Nieratko made fund of Burton and Gravis, and tugged back the curtain on how dead serious Burton is about their riders’ contractual obligations. With all the work the company does to promote Jake Burton as this “jus’ folks” granola-munching dude who’d rather be hiking the backcountry than sit on a conference call, it’s not a good look. And Arto of all people should have known better.

The problem of course is Nieratko. He dipped out of the skate magazine scene when Big Brother was still drawing breath and just recently checked back in, which shows in the way he interviews people and is probably one of the reasons why he’s still one of the best dudes doing this kind of thing. He calls bullshit on stuff—i.e. the sad state of Gravis’s past footwear designs—and probably used his silver-tongued powers to lull Arto into forgetting his Burton loyalty oaths.

The mistake Nieratko made was assuming that his editors at TSM would have his back on the whole deal. With Gravis just rolling out and Alien gearing up for a video release, Burton probably has got a good amount invested in TSM real estate, and at a time when belts are tightening at magazines in general and skate magazines in particular, I’m sure the threat to pull that dough probably was heard loud and clear. You have to wonder though, if magazines keep pulling this type of shit and running interviews bland as a late-period 411 (RIP), who’s even going to read them anymore.

*There are exceptions. Tony Tave’s interview in Thrasher last year, when he was fucked up on salvia, was pretty entertaining, for instance.

Burton, Alien and the curse of plenty

May 12, 2008

Didn’t take long, did it? Less than three months after DNA Distribution confirmed their deal to be bought out by snowboard behemoth Burton, Arto Saari, who signed on with Burton’s clothing company Analog only a year or so ago, jumped to Alien Workshop, and any day now the press release presses will release another press release about him “officially” joining Burton’s hiking, er, lifestyle, errr, skate shoe company Gravis (unless they did this already and I missed it, totally possible). It’s interesting to watch the corporations at work as they take different parts of skateboarding and put them together in new, ostensibly more profitable configurations. Hallelujah holla back, etc.

Setting aside 10 years of Rowley bro-ness and whatever company loyalty counts for in 2008, it’s hard to fault Arto. The El Toro days are behind him, SOTY trophy in hand, place in history assured, and now he can kick back to spend time with his vintage scooters and mobile saunas. As far as skating, for the last few years he’s been in a more contemplative place, or whatever it’s called when you get old and have knee problems and spend most of your time skating ditches. At this point getting a call from Jake Burton, a Wall Street-ready snowboard mogul who wants to build his foray into skating around you and your ideas, it probably sounds pretty good. Those rumors about Jeremy Fox selling Flip to some Billabong-esque conglomerate keep coming up, so what the fuck, right?

Either way Arto’s enjoying the benefits of that big Burton wallet. Fuck, I would too, I guess. From the jump it looks like Burton inserting their poster boy into their new skate acquisition, a la Dr. Dre putting the Game into G-Unit. But you know the Alien guys are probably jumping up and down over the Arto move as well, and it might even have been their idea, which is really too bad because it’s the type of thing that could kill the company.

Since around 2000 Alien Workshop’s Johnny-and-Ed duo of Carter and Hill have developed a taste for the power move. Before that they dabbled a little bit—Jason Dill was long established from his 101 days, but after 23 he was farming his hair, skating DC flow and finding himself. Putting on Danny Way after Plan B folded the first time might count, if it wasn’t such an oddball matchup and if Way would’ve contributed more than a handful of tricks over the better part of a decade. I always wondered how much they paid him. Even when Habitat started their big acquisitions were Kerry Getz, during the Toy Machine exodus, and Tim O’Connor, at that point still known more for his skating than his mouth. It’s not like they were wooing Peter Smolik away from Shorty’s or something similarly earth-shaking.

But Alien’s strength is really its farm team, finding kids who would turn into fairly iconoclastic skaters way before anybody else figured it out. Around the same time they put Jason Dill on they also got Anthony Van Engelen from 23, and not long after they signed up a couple East Coast kids called Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo—who together would put out three of the top five parts in Photosynthesis. Later they got Floridian troublemakers Danny Renaud and Ryan Nix, along with Canadian malcontent Ted DeGros, and more recently Alex Carolino, Grant Taylor, Steve Durante, Jake Johnson and Kevin Terpening. And they’re good at finding overlooked am kids like Danny Garcia, Silas Baxter Neal and Guru Khalsa.

Whether it has to do with DNA’s Midwest HQ or the influence of the rest of the team or Carter and Hill’s general weirdness, all those kids developed into great skaters who were interesting to watch. Some of the pros they signed up clicked with the whole Alien/Habitat motif pretty clearly, like Janoski’s soft-shoe tech and Salazar’s balls-out speed, but other times the team moves ranged from perplexing to inexplicable. Danny Way was an early indicator here, but the addition of Steve Berra and Heath Kirchart in 2002 came way out of left field. Kirchart’s status as a shadowy rail virtuoso made him a logical guy to add, but then there was Berra, whose Hollywood pretentiousness and plain vanilla gap/ledge skating didn’t add much to the equation except sweet backside flips and a name that was already over the hill. Even without the much-ballyhooed fake spots in his DVS part, the skating was boring as fuck.

These were two big California pros though, and in the years that followed DNA would sign up marquee names like Colin McKay, Mike Taylor and Stevie Williams (briefly), and hot shoe ams like Dylan Rieder and Omar Salazar. Then there were all the pros they chased unsuccessfully, like Leo Romero, Darrell Stanton and Devine Calloway.

It always struck me as bizarre. Why would a company that’s so good at finding new talent and bringing on dudes that weren’t getting much shine elsewhere waste its time throwing its hat in the ring with every big-name pro whose contract is up? Do Carter and Hill, now about 20 years after starting the company, still feel like they have to prove something to Southern California? Like a Midwestern inferiority complex? Do they think it sells more boards to sign up a big-name pro rather than the kids they brought up from obscurity? Maybe it does. But wasn’t the whole idea of Alien based on weirdness and conspiracy mythology and grainy film footage and comic-strip ads where kids turned into moths? I.E., not what everyone else was doing? What’s the point?


May 3, 2008

welcome to the team!

more on this later, but for now:

As from today, Arto Saari is no longer riding for Flip Skateboards, and has found a new home at Alien Workshop.

Everyone at Flip wishes Arto the best for his future with the Burton family, and are in total support of this move for him.

“Arto is like a brother to me. After years of being on the same team with the same goals it was time for him to move on. We remain the best of friends and will continue to skate together probably harder and probably more so than ever!!! I wish him all the best and as a brother, I shall always have his back”

-Geoff Rowley

Alien sells out

February 8, 2008

Bo Turner demands residuals

Maybe kind of a rough way to put it, but after months of no-way-never-gonna-happen rumors, yes way it did happen, Burton bought DNA Distribution. You can read the freshly scrubbed version of how it went down on Burton’s corporate news page, which is updated way more often than you’d expect. Or maybe not, since Burton’s been doing deals with Apple and buying other snowboard companies and making skate shoe power moves.

The big question is why. Alien Workshop and Habitat aren’t exactly Shorty’s. They got big-name pros and the boards sell. Sales may be down, but if companies like Blind and that one Christian company that advertises in the back of Thrasher can keep limping along in 2008, you’d think DNA could find a way to make it work. Carter and Hill started in 1990, they know about lean times. Fuck, they could save a pile of dough by kicking off Berra and Selego, who between them have maybe filmed three minutes’ worth of footage in the last five years, which is probably more time than anyone’s spent looking at their photos.

Seventeen years is a long time, though. The Alien guys weren’t fresh-faced young kids when they started the company, except for Dyrdek. They’re in the wondrous world of their 40s now and have probably thought more than once about how long they can keep this shit up. For all its artsy imagery and seagull footage, DNA is basically a hardgoods company, boards and wheels with the requisite t-shirts and New Eras to match. They don’t have shoe company money to fall back on and they never pushed a clothing line, which is probably to their credit. Living and dying off board sales ain’t as easy as it used to be, especially with blank boards running around putting noble factory workers out of jobs and butchering people’s mothers.

Probably not a lot is going to change, at first anyway. Carter and Castrucci are going to keep running Alien and Habitat, the operation’s going to stay in Ohio, and all those dudes on Quiksilver already bounced for Analog a few months ago. Despite the hand-wringing going on right now, it’s pretty doubtful that Burton’s going to insert everyone’s favorite high-flying ginger Frankenstein into the mix (although if rumors are true, Heath Kirchart might get to explain to his new bosses why he allegedly ended his tenure on Analog by choking out a sales rep [ALLEGEDLY]). Maybe the Burton deal will end up being like a venture capital infusion–instead of Castrucci doing team management, art, ad buying, taxes and running out for burritos at lunchtime, he can concentrate on the important things like the art and the burritos. Or something.

Down the road, though, Carter & co. may lose interest, or find their interests coming into conflict with the power structure at Burton, who may or may not be the same people who engineered the deal with DNA in 2008. That’s when Alien/Habitat will change, and probably for the worse. How bizarrely amazing would it be for Carter to hand over Alien to Dill when he hits retirement age? Not gonna happen, if such a thing were ever likely in the first place, which is doubtful. But now, instead of DNA closing up shop when the founders leave the building, it’ll carry on, if there’s still money to be made. Who knows. Burton could kill the whole thing in two years if they really want. Or the entire earth could explode tomorrow. This is the type of thing that keeps Jim Gray up at night.