In Polar’s kinetic, nervous and occasionally poignant ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind’ – the best-crafted, most cohesive ‘company’ video this year and maybe for the last few – Hjalte Halberg brings probably the most straightforward street-purist approach, helping ground some of the body-varialing and handrail-bonking flights of fancy from Dane Brady and the Blobys, and (along with Aaron Herrington and Pontus Alv) injecting some of the diversity often lacking amongst an industry where the easier path sometimes comes off like targeted appeals to specific niches. Hjalte Halberg in this vid rains down force and precision on his Copenhagen blocks, blasting backside flips from bumps and rifling off some of the fastest heelflips committed to digital video. He seems immune to friction and there are moments, like when he’s backside 180ing out of a manual, where he seems maybe not fully in control, but these are rare and pass quickly. Between his video with Bobby Worrest and various other footage Hjalte Halberg could’ve made his own whole video of this shit over the past year.
Posts Tagged ‘Hjalte Halberg’
The key to unlocking value in any low-margin business is to maximize efficiency. This is the core truth of commerce and business underpinning a meritocracy in which the fastest copy machine is showered with honorariums and shiny treasure, where specialized mining equipment sniffs and scrapes out rare earth minerals and makes rich men of those who once swung picks, where clean factories churn out safe, packaged meal pills to cheaply feed a growing world labor base and quell any angry strife that could negatively impact production schedules.
Fragmentation and heightened competition from both nimble upstarts and well-heeled corporate gargantuates has similarly trampled profit margins in the skate biz with a trampling motion similar to that of an interplanetary trampling elephant. All around, there is a great diminishing, or distilling, depending where you sit: magazines skimpier, as photos, interviews and footage stream daily off mobile-optimized cloud platforms; years-in-the-making videos winnowed down to one-off web parts and Instagram snippets that ebb and flow on tidal transfer speeds; pro model shoes reserved for an anointed few, while the rest pick out seasonal color schemes.
In a fractured age is the team roster next for culling? The sprawling headcounts still collected by the Baker Boys, Crailtap and FuckingAwesome/Hockey contingents argue otherwise. But increasingly difficult-to-capture attention spans have sent up signals that tag teams, rather than baseball diamond or football field-ready lineups, are better suited for plattering more-meaty video offerings relative to the drip-drop of individual internet parts. Bear witness, would you, to the Bobby Worrest/Hjalte Halberg “Looks OK to Me” double feature that sort of awesomely and ominously asserts itself as the stoke-per-second leader in video releases this year at a svelte 9:46 minutes.
These brothers in Swooshdom maybe aren’t an immediately intuitive matchup, per se. But rattle through enough immactulate back-to-back ledge/flatground combos that, when drizzled out over enough countries’ spots, consistently hollering and clapping for one another, and associated homeboys collected along the way (Reese Forbes – fantastic), and it clicks in the spirit of Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, Brian Wenning and Anthony Pappalardo, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard. Hjalte Halberg’s pop shove it frontside crooked grind line and Bobby Worrest’s line at New York’s three-up/three-down are among tons of highlights, along with the grate tricks and the entire Pulaski park section.
As two-dude videos come back into vogue, could a two-man team that is cheap to send on the road, less prone to complex beefing factions and capable of filming one another become the ultimate in independent contractor efficiency? Has the cozy relationship between Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad made the time right for Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik to rekindle their partnership? Is Bobby Worrest’s fakie flip and switch shove-it landing in time with the snare hit a quiet nod to Rob Pluhowski’s often overlooked and downbeat-friendly Element part and/or a sign that videos could revive the days when wheel impacts comfortably coexisted with metronomes?
Is skateboarding as we know it courting wholesale disaster and destruction? The resounding answer ultimately must be a form of ‘idk but..’ as a steadily swirling swirl of lifestyle choices, fashion accessories and increasingly, tricks themselves increasingly bear the mark of the paterfamilias, to increasingly risky and questionable ends.
The current ‘dad’ fad is little shock when you consider how skating, once a rebellious youthful subculture prior to its modern format as a joint venture of several global footwear manufacturers, previously offered a haven for broken-homed kids that in many cases was preferable to careers in substance abuse or strong-armed robbery. Generations later the youngsters now look up to second-generation pros such as Alex Olson and Riley Hawk, who skate with their dads, swap pro models and career advice as they forge dynasties that can rule over taxpayer-funded bowls and prefabricated plaza spots for eons to come, battling rival clans across the cosmos for wealth and prestige and lucrative mineral deposits.
Dadness already had been stoked to a near-inferno by the widespread re-adoption of loose-fit, faded denim jeans, sometimes with a sensible cuff-roll well suited to low-impact cycling or safely depressing the pedals of a used minivan. Soon after, hat designers including Huf and Bronze56K elevated the dad cap from musty closet shelves and lost-and-found bins to a lofty $36 pricepoint item that comes in fetching pastels, equally at home flipping an 8.5″ popsicle or being flipped via Ebay for healthy multiples of its retail price.
Yet whereas any geek off the proverbial street can outfit himself in dad garb, cultivate convincing flab in pursuit of a lusted-for dad bod and feign a tiresome lifestyle of early bedtimes and a mind-eroding 9-to-5, dadness also has revealed itself gradually through long-passe streetstyle maneuvers. The varial flip, which only style dieties bearing names such as Brian Anderson, Mike Carroll and Jordan Trahan can lift to the level of the tolerable, once was not the sort of move performed in mixed company, but no more; body varial, same deal.
The noseslide shove-it, which elbowed aside no-complies, shove-its and wallrides as well as threatening light balls to capture precious screen time in Polar’s energizing ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind,’ again resurfaced in this week’s Bronze promo ‘Plug,’, marking a new apex in ‘dad’ tricks that may be difficult to surpass. Fifteen years since Rob Welsh nearly single-handedly rescued the noseslide from that doomed scrap pile of tricks too basic for blocks and too ‘Muska’ for handrails, a new era beckons in which legs weary from four presidential terms’ worth of pop-outs are offered respite via a mellow 90-degree shove in the direction the board already is headed, a ‘tech’ trick in the same spirit as the ‘extra mild’ salsas hawked by the jug in Midwestern box stores.
How uncomfortably deep is skating willing to take its dad fixations? Does the unfortunate prophecy of the star-crossed Theban king Oedipus, who slew his father and married his mother, suggest that skating will thrust some metaphorical harpoon through surfing before turning an altogether different and still more troubling metaphorical harpoon toward roller-skating? Is there a convoluted version of the Sphinx’s riddle that could include a basic noseslide in the ‘morning,’ the late-90s favorite with the 270 shove it the hard way for the ‘afternoon,’ and then the current/dad version in the ‘night?’ Will ruin and chaos soon follow, or could the frontside tailslide shove-it be next?
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?
Death walks among us in this jaunty new millennium, they say, here and there and potentially also sometimes as a pale rider astride a dangerous Harley hog belching out noxious smokes that also can kill grass and dandelions. Never missing the chance to blow out a trend, the skate biz has always embraced its own terminal fixation, a chattering anxiety that year in and year out raises and lowers Vegas-styled odds on the next industry crash, which company isn’t paying its riders and is destined for that great physical print Cali4nia Cheap Skates catalogue in the sky, and which named pro may already have committed career suicide via an ill-considered musical indulgence or poorly chosen street grab.
Yet just as street skating’s lust for ledges and handrails yielded a cottage industry in skate stoppers that occasionally assume whimsical ocean shapes, brisk business is done among content merchants eager to pierce the slow and sluggish hot-air balloons of musty conventional wisdom with javelins of pure moxie, alternately declaring the full-length skate vid, the over-40 pro career and the conglomerate-owned hardgoods brand ‘not dead’ with varying zest-levels. This month, the Skateboard Mag entered such bold sweepstakes with an editorial missive geared around the notion that feature-length movies (including but not limited to ‘We Are Blood’ and a feature-length documentary about Chris Cole) not only are alive and well 15% of the way into the 21st century, but that they may hold the key to fixing skateboarding’s long-festering ‘image problems:’
The type of interest that these films inspire from non-skaters has always been a powerful tool to bring awareness to skateboarding, counterbalancing some of our image problems in a very positive way, occasionally even improving our chances for public skatepark support. (Let’s face it, as corny as it may be, hearing your mom talk about “Z-Boys” and 900s is actually a step in the right direction.)
Here are the hard facts cluttering the picture as surely as sharp pebbles threaten the course of a major contest engagement: Attrition grips the skateboard sphere. The International Association of Skateboard Companies, that past campaigner against blank decks, figured in 2013 that the number of those consumers who can scientifically be deemed ‘skateboarders’ had constricted by one-fourth between 2007 and 2011, shrinking to 6.3 million over five years. Casual, regular, frequent and most troublingly the intensely coveted ‘core’ demographics all appeared to flee their boards in droves, dumping skating at an even faster clip than those binning their Razor scooters, and far lagging the comparatively robust growth in ‘adventure racing,’ squash and lacrosse, fam.
The IASC document submits television and general couch-potatoness as top culprits, but ratings data indicate that millennials also are slithering free from the digital wiles of broadcast programming. Distressing though it may be, The Skateboard Mag may be right that the only truly blameworthy visage may be viewable in a viewing mirror.
In the span of just about a week, Boil the ocean internet web blog was able to compile an array of image-damaging content features and fiery remarks that reflect poorly on the extreme sport that once seemed on pace to unseat baseball as the sport of the future:
Small beatings from Thrasher’s EIC. Thrasher commander Jake Phelps is widely recognized as one of the oldest persons involved in the skateboarding industry, yet his elder statesmanship toward parental authorities came into question this week when the Jake Johnson issue dropped into subscriber mailboxes. Penning a rare tour article*, Jake Phelps recalls with curmudgeonsome glee how he and Tim Upson years back were run up upon by a gaggle of German 10-year-olds who, after baiting Jake Phelps with a professed interest in his ‘load’ (skate board) switched to pillage mode and set to ransacking his group’s knapsacks: “I ran back and the riot was on — punching out ten-year-olds is the price they pay for rat packin’ out shit,” he intones. Several moms are known to have ten-year-olds of their own — what are they to think at the prospect of a 32-year-old Jake Phelps traveling through time to whup up on their present-day children who may deign to pick through any skateboard-bearing luggage a time-traveling Jake Phelps may have borne through alleged time wyrmholes?
Leaders of the ‘F-word’ world. Using vulgar language in a major skateboard magazine — in this case Thrasher — that’s widely read by kids puts the black leather jacket on skateboarding, but aiming swears at the potential next U.S. president puts the illicitly purchased cigarette in skateboarding’s curled lip. Anti-Hero skateboards saw fit to live up to its moniker in its latest Thrasher ad, spouting an apparently unprovoked ‘FUCK DONALD TRUMP’ and ‘FUCK TED CRUZ’ scrawl in the usual semi-legible handwriting. Lest any foul-mouthedness toward leading politicians be explained away as unhinged rants from over-the-hill discontents, Sean Pablo — sponsored by the unprintably named Fucking Awesome World Entertainment — offered a verbatim vulgarity from skating’s younger generation in a Skate Warehouse interview this week. (Anti Hero and Sean Pablo’s super PAC affiliations remain currently unknowed)
Production values from the bargain ‘Rack.’ Johnny Wilson’s most recent video injection sees noseslide sportster Hjalte Halberg’s East Coast summer vacation continuing as he pushes brawny lines through Philly and New York, while Antonio Durao’s switch 360 flip takes all stair-set comers and John Choi pops a silky curb cut backside flip. But smudges and dirt on the otherwise pristine HD lens occasionally mars ‘Rack,’ giving outsiders freshly treated by Ty Evans’ immaculate drone-cams the impression that rival moviemakers don’t care enough about their equipment — or production values — to break out a purpose-made microfiber wiper, the type of thing a skating-friendly mom might tuck into a pocket tee before folding her arms and shaking her head and half-smiling out the front door as her boys hustle to the nearest skatepark.
Respect for others out the window. Longtime Santa Cruz holder-downer ATV Emanuel Guzman possesses enough wiry sprock to handle both switch backside 360s and deep-end coping, but his ‘Magnified’ clip from Thrasher this week won’t win him many fans among parents — or apartment bloc overseers. In the span of just 45 seconds, we see Emanuel Guzman and his friends attempt to bribe a female professional (who potentially suggested they reapparate a nearby skatepark) before ignoring her call to police, blasting a tight-quarters windowpane ollie and departing with cries of “fuck yooouuu, bitch.” (No indication is given whether this actually may be her surname just spelled differently, or how many O’s in “yooooouuu” they intended to use.) Thrasher’s description of the video claims that Emanuel Guzman “has a history of clips like this,” though it does not specify which web browser he may use.
Three stripes and we’re out. One may expect Adidas, an established worldwide leader in footwear branding technology with firm commitments in place on chemical runoff and workplace diversity, to know from setting positive examples. But Adidas’ new clip advertising ADV Superstar sneakers soundtracks Tyshawn Jones’ brain-boggling ollie over to pointer grind to a curse-packed rap song by celebrated rapper Big L, which glorifies bullying less-skilled artists and advocates physical violence and physical gunfire as solutions to perceived problems such as being bad at reciting raps. Are hovering moms really going to ask to click back to Tyshawn Jones’ hardflip again when Big L is reminiscing about leaving a nameless female conquest’s ‘thighs dented’?
*On a serious tip Jake Phelps really needs to do these more regularly