Posts Tagged ‘consumer packaged goods’

Is The Gap Being Properly Minded?

January 18, 2021

Jim Greco is in the news again, winding down 2020 with a display of his remove from skateboarding’s professional rat race, putting forward his most recent Film ‘Glass Carousel’ just as the inevitability of Mason Silva’s SOTY campaign wound to its undeniable conclusion. Ironically, or not, ‘Glass’ represents the closest thing to a conventional video part from the mercurial Greco since 2013’s ‘The Deathwish Video,’ vid; he surfaced not in November’s ‘Uncrossed’ full length. And he rips, rattling long bluntslides across bricked planters, backside 270 tailsliding a serious tall ledge, backside flipping on an impossibly tight bank, a disheveled meditation on a few square blocks in Los Angeles’ hot, disease-wracked core.

Absent this go-round are the attendant pork products, the silent rootbeer sipping, the inch by inch scraping of metal furniture across bleached concrete. ‘Glass Carousel’ gazes instead upon downtown Los Angeles’ tired and drug-hooked vagrants, Joey Sinko’s jittery lens provoking one to give angry chase and taking a long look as another sucks in chemical vapors. Greco himself of course has been in and of this world, and part of the off-putting allure of him and Joey Sinko’s prior Films has been the way they steep watchers in Greco’s urban ghost towns and drab routines, but the unblinking stare on the downtrodden struggling here rapidly feels discomforting, and a shade invasive.

Maybe that sentiment’s another symptom of skateboarding’s long and halting maturation into its current and more ‘grown’ mindset, the one that eats healthy, draws ice baths and makes more room for those outside the cultural mainstream for whom it always was supposed to be a refuge. Maybe Jim Greco and Joey Sinko let these clips run a few too many seconds beyond the snapshot blinks used for city-grit seasoning in other vids. The surplus of suffering and anguish generally over the past year may have everybody at this point hitting a certain collective limit. Maybe that’s the point?

‘Glass Carousel’ is the most recent in decades’ worth of skate videos to stitch in homeless people and assorted other streetbound characters in between tricks and lines and whatever else. When Ricky Oyola threw hands with the dude at Love Park in the credits of the Sub Zero video around 1994, it was two people who both spent their days in disused pockets of the city, harassed by cops, avoided or castigated by most everybody else. Contemporaries have described the vibe then and there as general coexistence and occasional turf battles between groups who may not have been seen as very many rungs apart on society’s grand ladder, though one set probably much more likely to have a roof over their heads.

In the quarter-century hence, skateboarding’s capacity to generate ad revenue for sport organizations, television networks and bagel merchants have widened that gap, by some measure. In 2003, with the THPS/X-Games era in full swing, California lurkers nicknamed ‘Da Clown’ and ‘Ghostrider’ were providing comic relief and occasional pearls of wisdom between parts and montages in Transworld’s ‘Free Yr Mind.’ Another decade on and the Supreme kids shared airtime in ‘Cherry’ with a Misfits-hating corner growler and the illicit smoker ‘Spark Plug,’ in service of a multi-billion dollar clothing supplier.

In our current epoch, skateboarders of various stripes grace billboards and Superbowl ads, show off their mansions and command what remain of MTV’s airwaves nearly around the clock. Police can kickflip and may give you a couple more tries, a presidential candidate is a ’skateboard philosopher,’ and one of these years the much-ballyhooed 2020 Olympic debut will occur. Meanwhile, after years of moderate declines, the number of US homeless has increased by 20,000 over the past four years, and the coronavirus has spread through shelters and threatens them on the streets.

Ought this increasingly glaring gulf be more recognized/respected by camera-toting inner city spot hunters? Does there exist a sliding scale between the New York summer-vacationing pro squads and the likes of Philadelphia’s Sabotage group, who may spend as many hours in a given day at Love Park or Municipal Plaza as any of the city’s unsheltered, and probably aren’t much banking off it either? Has the dude set up on the Santa Monica Courthouse stage appeared in any videos yet?

Transgenerational Memory Versus the ‘Christmas Complete’

March 25, 2018

At some point along these stretched-out years, a new term clamored onto the deck of our shared cultural lexicon, waited for a lull, put its wheels to the coping and dropped in. ‘The Christmas Complete,’ in the telling of pod-cast hosters and seven-ply salesmen, is springtime purity in product form: That proverbial clean slate, unmarred by bails and makes, all its pop intact — it gets no fresher… all opportunity, and promise. Galvanized identity and anticipation, maybe still in a cardboard CCS or Active box, maybe with a bow on top.

It is a lie. Visions of deftly felt kickflips wither as that sparkling grip holds too eagerly to flat-bottomed soles; the factory-clean grip lines soon sheered jagged after shooting out and careening against curbs. Even the visceral beauty cultivated in perfectly parallel slide marks bordering both trucks can’t hold when inevitably some ledge sits just a little bit too high, or low, clawing the nose and tail with wincing diagonals; worse still, flecked with red or yellow paint. The galactic potential strung through virgin metal, urethane and maple sputters away.

Now this is your board, and everything glorious and depressing that entails. The younger of us can, if they’re cursed to hoard, point to any progression they’re allowed — the hoary and asymmetrical scraping and flaking of a tail tethered to curb drop-ins in time can stand upright and walk with clean(er) horizontal smears, and excessive razortailing can be expected to ease. But with age comes a grim consistency — spread across garage concrete, any decade-deep practitioner will confront grim familiarity on the underbellies of successive deck generations, and the uniform crooked-grind bites into a battered brotherhood of front trucks.

Whether hammered together for an uncomfortable bench or stacked for a cobweb factory in some lesser-traveled basement cul-de-sac, these used-up components, in a sense, still function. The setup leaned against a nearby bedroom wall, the active duty front-liner, is spry, young — the deck just two weeks old. It is middle aged, the wheels and bearings set up six months ago for a road trip and grudgingly protected within a car’s trunk while rain poured down for 36 hours straight. It is elderly, the trucks four years old with enough millimeters of forged ore between the axle and any coping not to sweat replacing, yet. It is ageless, the Phillips-endorsed indentations of its eight one-inch bolts somehow flecked with rust.

But its memory runs back further. When this mounting hardware shook loose from its plastic film all those years ago, they slotted together a month-old deck and two-year-old trucks. The first bearings encircling those trucks were rattling, corroded things, buzzing their last after a short winter, wet spring and hot summer, spinning wheels already a year coned and yellowed. The first board that those wheels moved was short for its duty, broken in only five sessions, and the squeaking trucks on their last legs, bent from frustrated focusing and occasionally fruitful stair-hucking, in those younger days. This universe of components, tagging one another in and out, can trace each push all the way back to the beginning — and further still into another time, if it began cobbled together from another’s castoffs.

The ‘Christmas Complete’ swings a sterilized, eugenics-scented sledgehammer through this grizzled lineage. It is the suit, shirt and tie sold as a rigorously color-coordinated ensemble; it is the prefab condominium block, the garish floral sofa encased in crinkly plastic. Any institutional memory embedded in the cracked deck, pavement-bitten wheels and muddied grip is cleaved away and ended — a new one starts from scratch, another would-be dynasty, unless it’s replaced in another twelve months. It is an act of mercy by enthusiastic Ol’ Yeller shooters, an exercise in the grim fulfillment of web-cart filling and promo code copying-and-pasting, an effort of forced forgetting worthy of those who would pour gravel and dirt into a too-cracked bowl to lay slabs for wood-composite boxes and bolted-down flatcars. It always can be the last one.