Posts Tagged ‘Foundation’

Events on the Horizontal Horizon of the Eventful Event Horizon

February 20, 2017

“Blessed be the ties that bind,” the good book says, referring to the festive ties donned by Medieval lords on the occasions of their weddings to matrons true of virtue and plump of size, who in turn wore flowery gowns and pointed hats in keeping with the custom of the time. The old saying however also could equally apply to the metaphorical plastic zip-ties that once bound the international skateboard community as tightly as the wrists of a newly gagged hostage, but now have been stretched, frayed and slicked with blood after a 20-year ride in a darkened trunk, bumping through energy drink-sponsored contest spectacles, international footwear investment and reality television seasons.

In this brave and bawdy 2017, year of the Rooster, what can draw together late-90s puffy-tongued plaza revivalists with mega-ramping park prodigies and their pastel-draped, body-varialing brethren? Time was, a big video could command the culture’s attention through months of ‘coming soon’ magazine adverts, a few carefully blown deadlines and a riot-inducing premiere. But ‘event’ vids increasingly have become the domain of the major shoe company, and that cupboard looks increasingly barren as Nike, Adidas, Emerica and Vans all have shot their respective full-length wads over the last two years, with mixed results; nearly all now seem to have sworn off the sort of hourlong teamrider-wrangling that takes years and increasingly seldomly stands up under colossal expectations erected with promotional hashtags, tossed-off teaser clips, and internet punditry.

Foundation last week premiered the latest entry into one of history’s stalwart video legacies, ranging from ‘Supercollider Superconductor’ to ‘Rolling Thunder’ to ‘Art Bars’ and ‘That’s Life’ – a heavy underdog narrative was built into the roll-out, including teamriders funding their own trips and pay whittled down to board royalties, making one wonder whether ‘Oddity’ should get you psyched on this latest iteration of the magic F or just hope these legitimately gnarly dudes find themselves a better deal. Ahead lies Transworld’s ‘Riddles in Mathematics,’ extending another beloved video dynasty with a knockout lineup and a GZA-cribbing title, helmed by Chris Theissen, whose Bordeaux-sipping extreme close-up techniques in last year’s ‘Substance’ bypassed perspective and boosted Dramamine sales. The majorest upcoming video may be Lakai’s ‘Flare,’ though with only four names remaining from the decade-ago (!) ‘Fully Flared’ lineup after former pro-model flarees succumbed to the gravitational pull of Nike, Adidas and old age, and much riding on emergent hot shoes such as Tyler Pacheco, Simon Banerot and Cody Chapman, it seems as much a reboot as anything — though the droney zooms and slick panning activity characterizing recently departed flare pilot Daniel Espinoza’s Royal Trucks part, assumed repurposed from his Lakai footage, looks very much prettier/sweeter versus any type of filmographic departures in the Federico Vitetta era.

After witnessing the coming-togetherness spurred by Brian Anderson’s coming out, Dylan Rieder’s death and earlier, John Cardiel’s ‘Epicly Laterd,’ are skating’s shared cultural events leaning less on videos and contests and more on personal narratives like SOTY? Can ‘Sabotage5’ transcend the tragedy of Love Park’s demise or only leave lingering questions as to what the fuck Philadelphia was thinking, and how did the resurrecting Alien Workshop not get behind a group of dudes so heavily infatuated with one of the Sovereign Sect’s most enduring heydays? Will Palace ever get around to doing a ‘proper’ video or are their mixtape-style releases like last year’s ‘V Nice’ so good they needn’t bother? Is Birdhouse gonna take another run at video history with Jason Hernandez behind the lens? Will Danny Way’s now 2-year-overdue video part ever drop or will Bob Burnquist come with another project that pushes it back again? Hasn’t it kind of been a long time since Krooked made a video?

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 4 – Tum Yeto Road Trip, 411 #29

July 5, 2016


Tum Yeto hoisted itself to perhaps the hoistiest of its various golden ages in the waning months of the 1990s partly thanks to visceral and brutally earned slam sections that reserved a singular ability to snuff any spark to skate that the preceding video had kindled. Jarring bails pepper this 411 road trip through Canada, populated by a wrecking-ball cast belonging at this point to another age: an Adio-endorsing, lion-maned Jamie Thomas; Mike Maldonado, decked out in corn rows and late shove-its; Ed Templeton impossible tailgrabbing with a few hundred miles’ worth of buffer from the Huntington Beach Pier fleshpots; Elissa Steamer at her pre-Bootleg peak; handrail doubles runs; Adrian Lopez, full cabbing John Drake’s ender spot from ‘Time Code;’ board-catching dome pieces; a miniramp-wrecking Bam Margera, face as yet unlined by the gravities and scars of a reality television career. This clip, considered in some circles the greatest 411 tour part evar, also features a content-complementing, classically licensing-friendly Dischord catalog pick.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 2 #3 – Brad Staba ‘Nervous Breakdown’

June 26, 2014

Is Brad Staba’s jaded/sarcastic persona an elaborate mask for a decade’s worth of bottled-up embarrassment and discomfort after perpetrating several high-profile backside salad grinds in the late 1990s and early 2000s? The answer undoubtedly is yes, though allowances must be made within a time period of hotly fermenting excess when Tum Yeto rode high upon the skate hog, selling decks emblazoned with nothing but Tod Swank’s juvenile and colourful scrawls and later embarking upon a plan to build a skateboard so large it would be an affront to God himself. ‘Nervous Breakdown’ was another chapter in Foundation’s by then established strategy of reinventing itself roughly every 18 months or so, introducing Daniel Shimizu and Omar Salazar and copping Ethan Fowler from atop various European contest-circuit podiums. Yet it was floppy-haired vintage tee shopper Brad Staba who closed the video, shuffling down monstrous handrails and cruising through dirt and occasionally flashing a grin that would later launch a thousand Skate Mental graphics of questionable moral standing. Brad Staba possessed one of the skating world’s best nollie frontside 180s around this time as well as a command of the kickflip backside 360, then a rare bird. The line at 1:07 bumps up the bar from the opening run in his Duty Now for the Future debut, where Brad Staba opened for future Latin American real-estate speculator Daniel Haney and horror movie budgeteer Jon West.

Dispatch From Tod Swank’s Island Of Misfit Toys

November 9, 2011

The realm of the seven-ply maple stick these days is definitely not too real to resist the redemption formula, if ever it was — there’s a “Behind the Music” ring to certain of the “Later’d” series and the heavy 90s nostalgia trip ensures at least one more visit to the trough if you’re any kind of a name, let alone a Mariano or a Muska or a Penny (who I think may actually have attempted to mount his second career revival in the Play-Dough powered “Xtremely Sorry”). Earlier this year TWS tried to sell 16-year-old Nyjah Huston as a comeback story, for crying out loud.

It’s all good if substance and fame took you out for a while but what if your vice was youth, or alleged asshole leanings, or both? Outfits like Cliche and Almost and Santa Cruz have garnered deck sales by scooping up other teams’ supposed dead wood but few have done it like Foundation. In the volatile van ride-making trio of Corey Duffel, Sierra Fellers and Nick Merlino Foundation may have cornered the market in relatively high-profile (if early career) flame-outs from other teams, and these dudes load up the back half of last week’s new video offering from the magic F — distilled for the internet age into a “Brainwash” sort of minimal presentation complete with a keystroke-saving acronym title.

It’s weird to think of Corey Duffel as any kind of elder statesman, of anything, but for Foundation it seems like he now counts. The aging mall-punk employs his boardslides, 50-50s and big jumps with the help of some extra flannel and facial hair, and Sierra Fellers seems kind of on auto pilot a lot of the time, manufacturing flips-heavy ledge lines in a shortened part. He does put out one of the more retarded tricks of the whole video, a kickflip backside lipslide shove-it on one of those California grade-school rails previously leased out by Mikey Taylor.

But this vid is Nick Merlino’s big moment to justify himself and his large-seeming beanies of varying colour, and he goes hatchet-man, opening up a firehose of stacked footage and exercising some degree of restraint since I saw only one of his famed switch backside 360s included. Drama rears up at various points, like when the camera pulls back on the big switch ollie and when the friends race down the hill to shout him out after the kickflip closer, but for this peanut gallery member’s nonexistent price of admission Merlino’s best stuff came in lesser-seen handrail tricks like the nollie backside tailslide, kickflip backside noseblunt and its cousin the kickflip frontside noseslide, which flashed me back to Justin Roy’s brief tenure on the F.

The best parts in “What The Fuck!” though wind up coming from the dudes with probably the least to prove, namely kink chomper Dakota Servold, extra push-taker Ryan Spencer and tall drink of water Taylor Smith who is for sure going some places with those slick backside tailslides and his undercover mall spot. Ryan Spencer’s got a whole menu of tricks over the backs of rails and a pretty muscular bluntslide through a kinked hubba, plus a genuine internet-going-nuts taildrop move. Handsomest trick of the movie earned by Marquis Preston for the tailslide 360.

You Won’t Have Heath Kirchart To Kick Around Anymore, Except Maybe On His Bicycling Blog

October 21, 2010

Hushed whispers and anxious talk these past weeks that California’s Heath Kirchart may have won skateboarding. Whether such a thing is possible, or even within the tremb-ly bounds of reality, matters little to them who speak of web-winged horrors in the night and terrible, elder gods whose names are better lost to fabled memory. We find ourselves confronting a post-‘Stay Gold’ gap that fits like an abyss and is that much more perplexing for its almost welcome appearance.

It’s maybe wrong to say Heath Kirchart went out “on top” as he didn’t really wear the hungry contender hat — Rob Welsh once notoriously described himself as your favorite skater’s favorite skater, and probably that isn’t really the right hat to put on Kirchart either, but maybe something closer to your favorite skater’s most feared specter. His shadow was a long one, stretched by negative vibes, bushes-hiding and the occasional bout of physical violence, and it will grow with time. And perhaps the completion of certain American biking challenges.

So maybe better to say he left* on his own terms, though the Kirchart of the Thrasher interview might try and argue the point — saying more like forced out by tougher competition or something. But compared to a slow, five-year slide through fourth- and fifth-tier shoe sponsors and cashing elastic cable accessory checks, it could have been much less dignified. And it was without a blaze of sour grapes, or grabbing for some Hollywood brass ring, as interesting as that concept may have been.

Possible knocks on Heath Kirchart: A Career On Four Wheels? With counter-knocks
-Skated for Birdhouse during the height of the cartoon graphic/Tony Hawk deification era
—Was in “The End,” among the best 90s videos; damaged property and lit fires with future “Hater’s Ball” honoree Jeremy Klein; ate shit skating a bus stop

-For much of his tenure, a “handrail skater”
—Unless I’m wrong, was the first dude to backside noseblunt such a handrail; christened El Toro; that lipslide shove-it from the Foundation vid

-Turned in a half-dozen tricks for his last video “part”
—Jumped the mega-ramp/set a higher bar for “street dudes” taking the plunge; told everybody they could stop paying him afterward

Others?

*Barring a comeback, which would inevitably bring comparisons to Jereme Rogers which nobody wants

Now That’s What Boil the Ocean Calls Skateboarding (’00s Edition): 30-21

November 9, 2009

30. “Beez 3: Unusual Protocol,” 2007
beez

The shadowy Midwestern Beez collective deconstructs the skateboard video, as well as the concept of skateboarding itself, and puts it back together in grotesque shapes of their own choosing via a technocolour-soaked nightmare that challenges (or occasionally outright assaults) the viewer. There were two Beez productions before this one, but the third installment takes things to fresh levels of depravity and ecstasy, often with a skateboard somewhere within the frame. Seeing this video for the first time can be a perspective-altering experience that people might not welcome or enjoy, at all, but the level of originality and sheer weirdness going on here are denied at one’s own peril. In ten years Beez will still have an unsettling and exhilarating effect on people.

29. “Inhabitants,” 2007
inhabitants

Serving more as a stylistic guidepost than the forward indicator that was “Mosaic,” Joe Castrucci’s second time around the Habitat mulberry bush was in some ways a little too straightforward and on-the-nose when it came to all the forestry footage and part-part-part-part sequencing. Skating- and presentation-wise it’s all pretty awesome though, and ages well in the way of DNA productions, with Steve Durante expanding upon ground earlier tilled by one Brian Wenning, Danny Garcia on the frontside shove nod, Fred Gall smashing buildings and Raymond Molinar spitting out tricks a little bit like a granola’d-out Henry Sanchez. Marc Johnson had SOTY in the bag for 2007, but if Thrasher was accepting of “Inhabitants” footage as a late-arriving 2008 entry, it’s sort of shocking Janoski wasn’t a heavier contender with this long time coming two-song ender section that highlights pretty much all the stuff he does good.

28. “Art Bars: Subtitles and Seagulls,” 2001
art_bars

Would we refer to this period as third-generation Foundation? Far removed from its Rocco-roots, the gold-plated glory of the “Rolling Thunder” era and emerging from the non-starter “Duty Now For the Future” realignment, by 2001 Beagle and Swank had put together a pretty classic lineup that included Kris Markovich at the height of his second wind (third, if you count Prime?), a gap-minded Ethan Fowler, Daniel Shimizu at the pinnacle of his giving a shit about shit, Mike Ruscyzk no-comply flipping up stair-sets and the Magic F debut of back-tail champ Justin Strubing all mixed up in washed-out colors and grainy film footage. For Foundation the decade would approach but never really top the “Art Bars” period, eventually ceding most of this team to attitudes and lethargy before settling for the cookie-cutter glam of Corey Duffel.

27. “Naughty/Gnar Gnar,” 2007/2008
gnar_naughty

Mushing these two videos together is kind of cheating for the purposes of this type of nerdy list, but we’re gonna justify it because the originality at play re: production value, format, music, lineups and ah, yea, skating more than offsets the ham-handed attempt at a “big video” that was “Krooked Khronicles”… not a bad video by any means, but nothing close to what the KRK can scheme up. Blurring hazy nights and overcast days in New York, London, DC and parts unknown, Mark Gonzales and Sam Salganik cobble together the sort of unhinged collages that the Krooked camp is capable of, with a revolving cast of characters that fade in and out at the edges; these vids won’t go down as any kind of “Questionable”/”Virtual Reality” one-two punch but were a seriously soothing antidote after years of over-ramped slow-motion and the rising wave of HD productions.

26. “The Good Life,” 2006
the_good_life

Jimmy Lannon ought to be rich and pro by now, and probably if this video part had come out in 1996, he would be, but then again if wishes were ponys I’d be running a profitable dog food factory and Danny Renaud would still be embarrassing other pro skaters right now. Building upon the foundation of the Dango, Joe Perrin’s Killa crew drips sweat and liquor across the Florida police’s favorite locales, with hulkster Jon Newport, flippiter Nick Matlin and Renaud the dirt dog fresh off vacation from Habitat. Ryan Nix’s closer part is pretty heavy and bad-ass enough to ensure his name will pop up in “where is ___?” threads for years to come but maybe the best section is John Buchanan, eating the brown acid and switch laser flipping when Torey Puds was still getting flowed from Shortys – there is a switch 360 flip in this section that’s nearly worth the price of admission by itself.

25. “Menikmati,” 2000
menikmati

Kinda easy to mock now for the indulgent intros and goony music and general dramatics, but it was a shiny new decade and the kid Arto Saari was frontside boardsliding 20-stair handrails, switch backside lipsliding and blazing super hard lines all over the place in Koston 1’s. Despite the archive-raiding Tom Penny retrospecticus, which was itself a pretty crafty move, the feature length and obvious hard work that dudes put into “Menikmati” raised the bar for the video age to follow and helped bring to an end the era of the profile pro, for better or worse. Ronnie Creager’s sore-thumb appearance wears a little bit better than some of the others but there’s still some interesting stuff to be seen all these years later, like Bob Burnquist switch frontside nosesliding a hubba, the concept of a contest/demo section, and the dork-trick rodeo at the end that now seems weirdly ahead of its time. The last trick in this video is Eric Koston’s backside noseblunt on the Bricktown rail, now sorta quaint, at the time pretty much unheard of.

24. “North,” 2002
North

Bearing far more weight than any production prominently featuring a giant beaver ought to, Jeremy Petit’s landmark “North” played a big part in revitalizing the Canadian scene for international purposes and pointed the camera toward lesser-knowns that weren’t hooking their fingers and polishing icey Chinese mahjong symbols. This video was also one of the early beneficiaries of message-board buzz, if I remember right, with a blitzkreig part that put Keegan Sauder back on the map and the first of many Russ Milligan sections to feature a serious-business switch bigspin flip. Tony Ferguson rolled gracefully toward retirement too but the gem was Ted Degros’s magical opener part, with precision flip tricks like the second coming of Toy-era Kerry Getz and that exquisite lightness of foot that still makes you wonder why he is not somewhere blowing up right now. If we were going to tackle the thankless task of assembling some “100 best parts” list of the past decade this one would probably rank in the top 20.

23. “Roll Forever,” 2005
roll_forever

This video stands in the long shadow of Real vids past, but holds up better than some others on the strength of a varied line-up and some future hall-o-famers getting comfortable with their own shit. Peter Ramdonetta for instance always left me sorta cold before hitting his stride around this period and pouring on the power-beast sauce with those kickflips. Darrell Stanton bic’ed his head and went absolutely bananas with the Clipper, and it was around this time that Dennis Busenitz and his mile-long powerslide skidmarks began amassing disciples for his current reign as underground king. Keith Hufnagel and Max Schaaf too. As a free full-length video with a generally good soundtrack, “Roll Forever” was for sure the high water mark of that year’s wave of promo DVDs, and unfortunately (or not) it was pretty much downhill from there…

22. “And Now,” 2008
andnow

By 2008 TWS had through a process of slow elimination mostly removed the aspects of their videos that weighed them down (lengthy intros, sometimes painful voiceovers, multiple montages) in favor of a more focused formula that was still the standard in production-value gloss and heavy rosters. This one will probably remain as the best of the second half of the ’00s, along with “Time to Shine” maybe – Holland and Ray lucked out with a grab bag of hot-shoes-of-the-moment in Malto, Nick Trapasso and David Gravette, with Matt Miller doing some more tech stuff and Kenny Hoyle nollie backside 180ing off buildings, while Richie Jackson offers enchanted boat tours on rivers of chocolate and pole-jams all the bad little boys and girls.

21. “Manik Promo,” 2007
manik

When watching a video like “Fully Flared” or “Menikmati” it’s sometimes tempting around the 40-minute mark to concoct in your head super draconian rules for skateboard videos – must run no longer than 15 minutes, zero filler footage, minimal interludes and dead airtime, enough “artsiness” to keep it interesting, non-shitty music and surprises, that type of thing. The 2007 promo from the Pacific Northwest’s Manik checks off a lot of these boxes with a very tight four-part video that packs the tricks into its 11-minute runtime; of note are Mikey Burton’s warehouse run, Josh Anderson (now said to be fucking with Kayo Corp.) invoking the power of the Muska, and Jordan Sanchez’s light-speed kickflip catastrophe. While we’re on the topic, more videos maybe should consider incorporating classical music.

We’ll Make It Better, the Second Time Around

August 20, 2009

f_nickintroanim
Where were you on this one, Eli Reed

Unless Gator, Ryan Sheckler, JR Blastoff, Chad Fernandez, Kurtis Colamonico, Adam McNatt, Shaun White, Tyrone Olson, Josh Kasper, Greg Lutzka, Andy Mac and Mike Vallely all climbed into an ocean liner that plowed over some baby whales then smashed into an iceberg, caught fire and was devoured by the horrible kraken, then Nick Merlino is not the most hated dude in skateboarding. Although it is kind of a clever marketing campaign for Foundation, the company that blinked first and this week signed up New Jersey’s favorite switch spinnin’ Baker reject. Foundation and Nick Merlino: Making skateboarding annoying again? Make it work, people…

It’s an interesting tack for Foundation though. Comeback stories are nothing new over the past few years, but really it’s only if you’re an old dude that people liked in the first place*. Flaring out at the beginning of your career is way tougher to rebound from, even in a world as steeped in nostalgia as the skate-sphere. This is the hard road faced by young Justin Case and also those millions of American Idol contestants who will one day show those nasty judges once and for all that they are true superstars. Like, are people still checking for Billy Waldman?

Of course Nick Merlino’s issues were more political in nature. For those of you not caught up on your messageboard drama, a few years back his gap/rail prowess earned him flow positioning for Baker and Krew companies along with a ticket to Australia, where depending on whom you ask, he flagrantly one-upped Bryan Herman, got in a fistfight with Braydon Szafranski, infested the country with bullfrogs and got along quite nicely with Antwuan Dixon, thank you. Whatever the case he returned to the U.S. in despair, promptly injured himself, dealt some cards in Atlantic City and honed his self-deprecation skills.

Ponder, if you will – was his crime being a too-talented young idiot? And how else does one learn not to be?
What the Fuck is your problem?
A.D.D. is my biggest problem. I just can’t wait to land my shit, I’m too goddamn impatient and I want to get it over with.

Anyway. Adding Merlino, whose time away found him switch heelflipping big shit and not winning many more friends, puts Foundation in this interesting spot where they’re giving dudes second chances and letting them sort of correct earlier missteps. Whether or not Corey “NAACP” Duffel is a changed man is a judgment that this blog will hand off to the big messageboard in the sky, but after Foundation got behind him, people/the industry haven’t exactly ignored him. Also consider Mike Ruscyzk and Matt Allen: Tod Swank has been down to stick with dudes other companies definitely would’ve bounced long before they stepped off the world’s biggest skateboard.

Between Baker and Bummer High, Foundation’s ranks have grown kind of thin lately, but the pro refuse pile may still hold some gems if they want to keep going down this road. It’s been a while since the F had a tech dude, and Brian Wenning is still a free agent, right? Bastien Salabanzi could probably be extracted from his Jart deal, or what about Anthony Mosely, is he still doing those one-man demo camps? Perhaps Danny Gonzales could un-retire one more time… for the bros.

*Here again we reference the McGill pic

Bird Flu 2

March 2, 2009


Yeah right

I guess if we’re gonna annoint the straight ollie onto rail as a hot trick trend, then this mindbending Skateboarder cover of Leo Romero going in through the out door certifies the reverse rail ride once popularized by the likes of Ed Templeton, Ricky Oyola and Jeremy Wray as officially returneth. Time and general physics will determine how far people are able to expand beyond recent 50-50 variations from Anthony Pappalardo, Alex Olson, Olly Todd and others, along with the occasional crooked grind or boardslide, but for the time being I’m assuming lil’ Leo holds the distance title. Next question: after-black hammer for Baker 4 or homage to a new boss?