Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Summer of Bad Vibes

September 5, 2017

Summer’s strength wilts and, seems like before we’re really prepared, darkness steps out. On the world stage, blunt talk of nuclear war; fires rage across the continent; monstrous storms bringing flood, pestilence and misery; and last month, the sun itself blotted out. Steely Dan is permanently fractured with Walter Becker’s death. And tragedy again in skating as beloved dad, bro, lensman and barbecue grandmaster P-Stone is lost to a car wreck, the driver Girl’s Cory Kennedy, booked on a 0.10 DWI charge, and carrying this burden for the rest of his life.

What else? The Ride Channel, that once-churning aggregation portal that Quartersnacks perceptively pegged as a HiphopDX for skating, is itself deteriorating — adding items of varied relevance now just in fits and starts, and in a troubling suggestion of early-stage dementia, each day posing to its pensive visitors the same question: Why Isn’t Chicago a Bigger Deal in Skateboarding?

Mike Munzenrider’s dutifully researched feature offered a range of answers — weather, cops, general not-giving-a-shitness — and these may well be. Does Chicago need to be a bigger deal in skateboarding? Chaz Ortiz, when he’s not buying out the bar with high-level mages, seems to be making a mighty effort to reclaim and elevate the greater metro area that set him on the path to X-Games glory, while making restitution for Trueride-flavored lines like this. But even in his most powerful Diamond t-shirt, Chaz Ortiz can’t carry 2.7 million souls on his back alone — Chicago’s been second, third, whateverth too long, plenty grimy but too Midwest to chart with the cellar-door-turned-bump-to-bar-wallride pro contingent that gravitates toward East Coast crust. In Chicago, crime wars fill the streets with dead children and the money always seems to be running out.

Not that the town has no talent. But it’s on some other shit. ‘Realm,’ the latest in a string of increasingly gnarly videos from Chicago’s Deep Dish collective, opens on a bombed-out husk of a city shot through with militarism on the march and authority’s heavy hand always just beyond the frame. The skating happens in the shadow of architectural marvels and across crumbling foundations, by streetlight and under those battleship-gray skies. CJ Kelly draws night lines down the block that go on forever, his noseblunts and wallrides bumping off poles and fences. Nico Rizzo tosses a nutty manual to no-comply down some steps, DJ Plummer scrapes off sparks and Mason Barnard whirls one of the crazier manual tricks in some while on a fat marble bench. It is wildly panted Brett Weinstein who breaks the knob off though, bigspinning both ways up an industrial-strength Euro gap, popping tricks over puddles, backside lipsliding up and through viaduct crust and, at the end, climbing up and down through the bowels of the Chase building to unload a pile of lines. This dude hits some minor-key harmony between Gino ledge tricks and the going transfixation on wallies and varial flips, and gets in one of the crazier transfer ollies since that kid jumped out to Jason Dill’s ender block.

Probe deeper though and you come to Chicago’s Ssquirted collective, which has been making videos for five or six years now that seem geared to disorient and abrade, placing viewers inside dimly lit rooms where stuffed animals are ominously scattered, and weirdly costumed characters preen just out of focus. In vids like hoEphase and this year’s bracing ‘PSYKO’ and ‘bLoWiE BuNnY’, voices get pitched down, skate footage slowly rotates and threats of violence and occult imagery fade in and out. A lot of stuff drips. The tricks blur between all this like one of those dreams where you can land everything until your grip loosens and the lights go out and you find yourself with blood-drenched hands clawing at your board.

Are the dissonant and sometimes harsh vibes out of Chicago the right ones for skating at this summer’s jarring end? Will these harsh and forbidding vids pull more people to skate Chicago or keep them away? Did Darkstar anticipate some of this doom and pathos when resurrecting its unoly knights? What’s next?

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4. Neen Williams – “Chickenbonenowison”

December 27, 2011

The unscientific layman’s catchphrase known as the “law of averages” teaches us that random outliers become less frequent when spread out over a large enough sampling size. Projecting the 2007 estimate of 13 million U.S. skateboarders, then reported have grown at a 10% clip for each of the three previous years, to rise at a similar rate in an economic climate hostile to hockey equipment purchases puts us around a very rough 19 million today, a crowd that stands in constant danger of tipping into an echo chamber of stock kickflip flicks and natural-transition pivot fakies. For this reason handcrafted tricks like Neen Williams’ heelflips and backside tailslides and backside noseblunt slides (especially to fakie) stand out that much more from the din and Baker’s Deathwish imprint made the most of the dude’s focused mindset by using his awesome footage to anchor their Shake Junt video (Dustin Dollin made a pretty ripping return too). Extra bonus street points awarded for elevating the frontside pop-shove it to ender status, one of the bigger ones I can recall ever seeing. Neen Williams’ skating is well handled by the Baker Boys editing squad who get that really good tricks oftentimes look best without all that varnish and lacquer. Feel like the filming here in particular is on point, something I don’t notice all that much usually, or maybe it’s just how much this dude is killing it here and there.

Also noticing now that we’ve got three nollie varial flips in this list which certainly merits a really really long think piece all on its own.

Cold Snap

December 18, 2008


Winter wonderland

Being good at skateboarding has a lot to do with timing. And so does life. Newly minted Skater of the Year Silas Baxter-Neal moved to Chicago this month, just in time for back-to-back snow and ice storms. You can’t win em all.* Hope the beard is coming along.

Disclaimer: This post is part of a concerted effort on the part of BTO staffers to pad the SBN-themed post count so that they outweigh the Sheckler-themed posts by the end of the year. Your patience is appreciated.

*It should be noted that Vladimir Putin can win em all if he so chooses.