Posts Tagged ‘Evol’

Pontus Alv’s Frenetic Lament for a Scattering Tribe

April 10, 2016

strandbeest

From disused plastic piping, zip ties and empty two-litres, Dutch sculptor Theo Jansen has over recent decades bestowed life upon a new and fearsome form of creature he has dubbed ‘Strandbeests,’ nomadic and dinosauric automatons that draw their power from wind and moisture to restlessly roam frozen Scandinavian shores and, through unwitting human enamourment, sprinkle their genetics globally via our computerized internet. Theirs is a lonesome lot on barren stripes of the earth, but their ramshackle ploddings are not without a certain joy and wonder.

A few Lego bricks and Ikea couches away, by accepted U.S. cowpoke measuring standards, Pontus Alv tinkers among his DIY embankments and bowls and at long last takes his third full-length off simmer, a Nordic dream smearing several decades’ worth of lovingly recollected skate touchstones that uncork themselves as the most ‘now’ vid since Supreme’s ‘Cherry’ and 2016’s pulsating frontrunner so far. Buffeted by larger forces both natural and otherwise, the non-complying bros and their half-seen stand-ins populating ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind, Please Don’t Wake Me This Time’ place faith in leaps both figurative and actual that send them soaring atop buildings, crunching through shrubs, high diving off delivery trucks and rolling away from frontside noseslides to fakie with arm dropped just so. Beyond the Alien Workshop and Blueprint camps of yore, there’s not a lot who handle their imagery and mix their media as well as is done here.

Dane Brady’s bucolic opener presents most of the elements, simply — here’s his dog, his curbs, his parking garages, his deceptively intense control, skidding from parking bumper to parking bumper or manualing through the grass or jumping a damn swing. Michael Juras and Jerome Campbell wind their way through bricked out European back streets, speed hopping bump-to-bumps and backside tailsliding way out on rugged ledges, seldom any one dude holding the frame too long without somebody else on the team hopping onto the same spot, maybe the opposite way. Hjalte Halberg crushes big blocks in possibly the vid’s best played-straight part, Pontus Alv is in there with his backward hat and his arcing wallrides, luring his followers into snaking doubles lines at Swedish DIYs and Oskar Rosenberg-Hallberg, seemingly growing up before the fisheye here, buoyed beyond the switch pole jam and ride-on smith grind by the best little-kid stylings since Yaje Popson or maybe Kevin Bradley. Aaron Herrington cashes in what look like a couple years’ worth of chips like the double wallie and later on Kevin Rodrigues, who comes with tricks that have no names.

Pontus Alv has talked about a kind of wonderful weirdess and isolation that go with doing his particular take on skating from one of the unlikeliest spots on the map, while also wearily eyeing the constraints and pressures that come with developing a beloved and increasingly successful company.

It’s always the same. It starts like, “Hey, there’s this cool new brand. It’s small. It’s underground. It’s run by these cool guys and we love it because we can’t get a hold of it.” Like when World (Industries) first started it was exactly like that. And then all of a sudden there’s all this demand and then that brings hype and then slowly the companies get their shit together. They get their business model together, the production, the distribution, and everything. And then, of course, when a companies growing, the company’s costs are also growing so it’s like, “Oh shit, now we have to widen our distribution channels to make enough money to supply the riders, team, video production, ads, and all of those things that you have to do. And then all of a sudden people look at it and are like, “Well, it’s kind of big now. I don’t know. It’s not cool anymore.” And then all of the sudden they lose some of that support and all of a sudden it’s like, “Well, we don’t have the core support anymore but we have this massive company with all these bills.” So you widen the channels more and more and more.

Henry Sanchez, who also came up in the Bay area only to part ways with the CA-based industry, questions the cultural cost of broader-based success in an interview discussing his latest return to skating: I see a bigger corporate presence in skating, and it has a stronger foothold in the market. To me, those are indications that skating is a lot bigger now. It seems like they’ve spent enough money campaigning for your heart. We had a stronger defense with a much smaller army.

It is maybe too easy to see the rising and receding industry tides gently lifting the wallriding Mary Poppins of ‘Don’t Wake Me’ across grassy hilltops, blowing him into spiky trees, or at other points holding the magical umbrella just out of reach in various times of need. But with ever-larger commercial interests alternately supporting Polar’s trans-Atlantic bonelessing and bank-building, while harbouring threats of spiky contractual strictures and molding future generations from Olympic bully pulpits, how much longer does Pontus Alv’s idyllic Polar dream go on? Could a ‘Really Sorry’ type quick follow up serve as a sort of cosmic snooze button? Was the vid’s lengthy gestation period at all related to scheduling difficulties in securing the Rover cameo? What was going through Kevin Rodrigues’ head when he seen that rail? Are all the H-Street references actually subliminal signals from Pontus Alv to the Polar team that they should abscond together for some upstart board company in a few years, thus easing the crushing pressure on Pontus Alv to follow up this video and allowing him to pursue an Evol-like reboot at far lower stakes for all involved?

Elginerpeton, Girl, Blueprint And The Delicate Art Of The 401(k) Rollover

November 26, 2012

offshore

The billions of bloated and rotting carcasses of lungless, would-be amphibians gently fertilizing the beaches of history attest that evolution can be a messy, strenuous enterprise. Witness, in more modern times, the still-ongoing struggles for democracy around the world or also the pre-Oscar trevails of Three Six Mafia.

Like a semi-legged fish cast upon a tidal shore and seeking its footing with the help of expensive high def videography equipment, so too do a couple deck companies now entertain their potential futures removed from the warm and brinesome pools of their hatching, shedding founding-father pros and piling chips upon next-gen hot shoers that may or may not have the conjones to earn the throne and scepter and potential amphibious harem that belong rightfully to the king of the beach. Girl last week unveiled this decade’s full-length video presentation, in conjunction with Chocolate, while Blueprint has bid goodbye to more top talent dating back to the UK outfit’s establishment.

The diminished profitability of board manufacturers has been somewhat offset by the way they carry greater clout in defining what pro bros are about and providing a platform for various creative visions, to the extent these still exist in an era of limitless full-bleed series graphics and customized multi-logo baseball hats. The prior decade’s mercifully brief flirtation with pattern-graphic footwear was not enough to knock boards out of the box in this respect, despite the best efforts of several shoe teams sponsoring motocross bikers.

But even the best and brightest contributors to the ‘culture,’ of which Girl and Blueprint both long ago cemented their status, need active and relevant ambassadors out there preaching and switch backside smith grinding ledges or else you run the risk of losing touch with a permanently youthful and tempermental clientele, or running low on able-bodied independent contractors willing to slide down handrails, or both. Sad as it is, those schoolyard lords of the mid-1990s have been steadily confronting their shelf lives on video and in the streets and same as then not every dude is a Mariano or Koston.

It seems like you need one or more ‘Vision dudes’ (no Brad Dorfman) with a steady hand on the rudder to navigate such generational shoals, and I think here of bros such as John Lucero, Ed Templeton, Todd Swank, Jim Thiebaud, Mike Hill/Chris Carter and even the corporate paymasters who press boards at Element — all having weathered for the most part a total exodus of the names that launched the companies (in some cases several near-total personnel rollovers) and were able to keep drawing new and vigorous blood. Stereo, Plan B, Menace and several Gonz-helmed ventures petered out or folded once the main brains departed or shifted focus.

Similar to “Yeah Right” the new “Pretty Sweet” is being described as a torch-passing moment for the Crailtap crew, probably more true this time around given spotlights generally dimming on the OGs since “Fully Flared” (though multiple Jeron Wilson photos in a single recent mag did not go unnoticed around here). The prospect of Girl Films or Chocolate Cinemas sans Carroll, Howard, Brenes etc seems more and more realistic but ups the ante as far as the capabilities and sensibilities of those anointed ones who would pick up the gauntlet, given the long shadows cast by the dudes that made all those old videos, ads, boards. That track record being the critical mass magnet to Hoover up the needed new talent, but does ‘UnbeLeafAble’ hit the same way Sean Sheffey and the fishbowl did back when?

The outlook for Blueprint seems more up in the air in recent months as honchos Dan Magee, who masterminded the look and video output, and now Paul Shier have turned in their respective papers, leaving assorted rumors as to an unspecified new UK-centric venture, whether some recently picked US dudes will get a bump up and if Palace will sign Danny Brady. Blueprint’s efforts to broaden their platform and pitch a bigger tent made some sense but the steps they took toward that end, like moving the company to California and putting on several Americans and inexplicably relying on “Birdhouse In Your Soul” to kick off a video threw me for several loops, while old- and young-timers like Mark Baines and Chewy Cannon and Jerome Campbell bounced. How Blueprint persists/perpetuates/prevails from this point appears down in part to what roles the other UK vets take, like Nick Jensen, Neil Smith and Colin Kennedy.

Working For the Weekend

November 28, 2008


Ain’t trickin if you got it

If I had a nickel for every skateboarder done wrong by the industry I could probably save deck merchants from the scourge of blank boards, bail out PacSun and have enough left over to take Dave Duncan and Fred Gall out for buffalo wings (not even on 5 cent night). However, on rare instances I get to wondering what’s lost when the industry effectively closes the door on some former hot shoe’s career, for what are usually pretty subjective reasons. The fickle tides of footwear choice and waistlines, etc.

I got thinking on this recently when two Wisco boys, Brian Emmers and Aaron Snyder, popped up in various media via The Skateboard Mag – Emmers with the pic above in the photo issue and Snyder with this “Mag Minute” video feature a couple weeks ago. While as far as I know neither one’s got any kind of major-league sponsors backing them right now (or anytime since the turn of the century if you don’t count S-One [which maybe I should]), both clearly remain ready and willing to skate up to and possibly beyond current standards. Which is cool from a soul-brah-pure-love-of-skateboarding perspective of course and interesting as far as their willingness to continue pushing their personal trick envelopes.

I’m still a fan of Brian Emmers’ part in Plan B’s “Revolution” and remember being blown away by the nollie cab backside lipslide shove-it out, which still isn’t a trick you see done much at all today. Aside from some style quibbles the part holds up pretty well, as does his contribution to the rag-tag group of misfits Evol video, which anticipates the rise of Brian Wenning minus the Yosiris ender. The question on my mind: in an age where camera-ready park pros wax poetic on their frontside feeble grinds, would Emmers’ “respect the skills” transgression still get him drummed out of the industry?

Likewise, when dudes up to and including a skater of the year can get away with fudging a sequence and Photoshopping is par for the course, you wonder whether Aaron Snyder’s fiasco with the Big Brother sequence would be such a big deal. Spilled milk aside, the dude hasn’t lost many steps with the TSM clip, arm-flappiness on the manual pads aside. His last two tricks are genuinely insane.

Whether these dudes belong back in regular circulation is a question best left to industry dark men and the free market. But I wonder if it bums out pros on the slide or come-up kids, seeing dudes like Snyder and Emmers busting legit stuff on current spots like that. I imagine it’s probably the same way strippers feel when somebody’s drunk girlfriend leaps out of her chair, onto a pole and starts working it for free. Those bags of blow don’t pay for themselves, after all.