Posts Tagged ‘Dean Ween’

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

Let’s Stay Friends

February 8, 2010


Hold on to your genre

Once upon a time there was a band called Ween, two brothers in blurred vision and fractured humor who made cheaply recorded records full of bizarre and beautiful ditties dedicated to squelching weasels, juicy trees, Mexican restaurant menus and persons called “Jilm.” Born of hotboxed bedrooms in that fabled decade of the 1980s, the Ween bros for years beckoned listeners to follow as they stumbled sidelong into new nooks and crannies of their aural rabbit-hole, until at a certain point they decided to try their hand at actual songs – cleaning up the rattling fuzz, taking the delirious helium out of their voices and scaling back on the copious chemical consumption that fueled the fever dreams of their early days. Few begrudged the evolution and broader success followed, but that beloved loopy spark was diminished.

Try as I might to shrug it off I’m having a hard time not feeling similarly wistful re: Blueprint’s annexation of U.S. amateurs in recent years, most recently highlighted in this “Make Friends With Marty (Murawski)” clip teasing the hotly anticipated “Make Friends With the Colour Blue” vid. There’s nothing much wrong with the skating of Murawski or his Bostonian brother-in-boards Kevin Coakley, who preceded his entry to Blueprint’s ranks, though Coakley sometimes has left me nonplussed and Murawski’s manual madness in this most recent clip didn’t particularly move me, with a few exceptions including the manual to f/s 180 to switch manual to revert.

Aesthetically these two guys are fine and all but you kinda wonder to what purpose they’re seeking out these US dudes, overlooked by domestic operators either fairly or not; I suppose you can’t blame Blueprint, particularly in these tenuous economic times, for trying to be more than “just” a British concern. They’ve earned a seat among the top-tier outfits of the world by virtue of output, progression, very nice graphic design and general staying power over the years, etc. But I recall putting on “Waiting for the World” and cocking an appreciative eyebrow at the meticulously constructed intro, like a TV-shaped portal into an empire of overcast skies, decrepit ledges and red phone booths where the “unique vision” of the thing, in the earnest parlance of a Tim Gunn, more than made up for tricks that weren’t necessarily 411-opener flashpoints. The rather ripping Brady/Jensen footage in the “Make Friends” clip is a good/current example, and fuck, their approach got these dudes into the biggest vid of the past five years, so they’re doing something right.

This is all sounding kind of “you know, when I was a kid…” and whatnot, which is true, but Blueprint’s got some global heft to its name and the hope is it’s put to good use, as opposed to loading up the new BP holo-vid in ten year’s time and seeing a load of the same Arizona ditches and San Diego handrails that recently appeared in the 20th-anniversary SK8Mafia video for instance. Keeping it gutter, and so on. Probably I’ll be proven wrong on multiple fronts when “MFWTCB” arrives, and I’ll buy it regardless, but in the meantime I’ll continue to wonder why you’d fish overseas when there are bass like this to be boated in your own backyard.

Addendum: Do you think Brady frontside flips into that thing for the video? Holy fuck.