How many of the Old Ways are lost to humankind, never to be rediscovered? The image of Indiana Jones armed with a laser beam may have made ‘Temple of Doom’ half short and twice strong, but could have yielded greater societal dividends than gumdinger-sized jewels and bosomy, bedded maidens. Nearly 20 years on, it required a ‘Crocodile Dundee’ derivative to finish the job, lasering his damn way toward the revelation of a lost city and civilization so brimming with wealth and virility that even today might pump rival towns and provinces to the brim with festering jealousy.
Do any such bare-chested, whip-cracking paradigm shifters vanquish thugs and crack well-timed one-liners in skateboarding? To answer the question, other questions and even more hyphens may be required. Skating long has clung to antiquated technologies, ranging from the beloved VX1000 to the as-yet unimproved upon seven-ply maple stick. But elsewise skating leaps and races ahead, cybernetically pirating high-tech editing software, monetizing unique social media followers and quietly sharing around big-budget video releases via sophisticated adult entertainment tube sites.
As Worldstar mourns Vine’s untimely demise, is there a cultural opening through which to drag the stiffening corpse of the feature-length skate vid back toward the lands of the living? Recent stabs have delivered only glancing blows at justifying 4O minute-plus runtimes. Vans’ ‘Propeller’ made a decent effort but largely bogged down after the second viewing, Adidas’ standby blurred traffic lights and architectural panning got stretched too thin to overcome couch fatigue, Polar shot the moon and made it work despite re-using a song*. Emerica wisely stopped trying to cram its entire team into ‘event’ releases and has made its ‘Made’ format work, though Nike’s similar campaign ran out of steam after a middling third go-round. The GX1000 vid was perfect.
In these heady and hurried times, who has the gumption to proffer an 80-minute epic? It is Colin Read, whose ‘Tengu’ featured the MNMFTB-challenging contender for gnarliest ollie in New York, now advancing into sweatier and more-exotic terrain via ‘Spirit Quest,’ a deceptively intricate VX1000 feature that basically dares you to look away for more than a few seconds at a time. It is a nocturnal/industrial metropolis similar to Josh Stewart’s third rail-powered ‘Static 4/5’ where walls are ridden and bars hopped, but instead of grainy tunnels and wee-hour bodega runs, ‘Spirit Quest’ soaks its clips in some ‘National Geographic’ acid bath. Here, dudes do doubles runs with themselves; alternate realities are compared in real time where tricks are both landed and bailed; arms contort into ostrich necks, walls turn into floors and exotic creatures freeze themselves into murals or switch places with tumbling skaters. Angles and sometimes tricks mirror themselves in midair, concrete humps flip to planets and bic’ed craniums, boards sprout wings in midair and camera glitches get regurgitated as architecture.
Floridian hydrant-harrier Jimmy Lannon is among ‘Spirit Quest’s cast of dozens, the only dude who can live in snow camo and switch backside 180 sewer caps in matching floral combos. The increasingly inscrutable Daniel Kim is on some Sampson deal where his trick spread (now including switch Japan airs and a switch kickflip tailgrab) seems to grow woollier in direct relation to his hair length. Bobby Worrest, Kyle Nicholson and the sadly seldom seen Zach Lyons cycle through a pan-global lineup that also includes velcro shoes and Airwalks. Taylor Nawrocki gets one of the gullier sequences at Philadelphia’s Muni, Isle’s Chris Jones dips back into a few more tunnels and does a tall switch 50-50, and Hiroki Muraoka stair-steps down a backside lipslide before popping a crazy half-off, half-on bar ollie that’s as mindbending as a lot of the visual miragery.
Will electronics retailers and omnichannels honor the receipts held by drone pilots and green screen enthusiasts, outdone by 20-year-old camera technology, detailed planning and crazily intimate knowledge of spots and cityscapes? What is the max rewatch tally for any 80-minute skate video? Could a 360 flip variation one-up ‘Spirit Quest’s VX fingerflip or just bring out the dramamine and barf bags? Could Fat Joe serve as MNMFTB’s spirit animal?
*Or maybe because of it