Posts Tagged ‘llamas’

Legacy Maintenance And Mutation In The Days Of Goldfish Focus

November 4, 2018

The time was the early 1980s and in that potent cosmos knowed as Hollywood, stars were aligning so as to align several of music’s biggest stars and birth the greatest musical album ever conceived: Queen frontman Freddie Mercury cowriting operatic party anthems with Michael Jackson, the undisputed king of entertainment. Although their respective musical prowess suggested little beyond certified platinum plaques for days and lofty wages, the artistic chemistry would be fouled by an interloping llama of some description.

According to an interview conducted with the Times of London, Queen’s former manager, Jim “Miami” Beach claims that Mercury called him and said, “Can you get over here? You’ve got to get me out of here, I’m recording with a llama.” Jackson was also reportedly less than thrilled with Mercury’s behavior during the recording session. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Mercury subsequently fell out with Jackson because the U.S. star objected to Mercury taking too much cocaine in his living room.”

On the surface, it’s just another cautionary tale about U.S. llamas, rival species and greedy excess. More deeply, it is a story of personal collaboration, llamas, and the challenges of building a chemistry strong enough to stand through the years. Like many of the 1980s’ greatest lessons, one can draw a direct line toward Element Skate Boards, which recently released its newest video, ‘Peace.’ Twenty-six years into its branded lifetime, the Twigs parent is feeling itself, springing for the considerable talents of Emerica’s Jon Miner to sort a 60-minute full-length from its deep and diverse benches, theoretically to bolster Element’s mystique and power in the board marketplace, while handing a breezy, wet, and flaming hot baton made of dirt to a new guard.

And what of that baton? By the power of the bankroll, Element’s clung to some clout over these many years, overcoming eyebrow-raising maneuvers such as a Billabong-cobranded Times Square outlet store and major-league fan service to corral a talented but usually incongruous mixture of riders, ranging at various times from Julien Stranger to Jeremy Wray to Chad Muska to Ray Barbee to Dennis Durrant to Terry Kennedy to Natas Kaupas to Kris Markovich to Stella Reynolds. Tracing the OG team to Element’s roster as of ‘Peace’ — it is sure to fluctuate again soon — would require several pages for one of Thrasher’s nerds-only company lineage features, and would rival the Bible’s ‘begats’ for reader patience.

Tenuous as Element’s current iteration may be to the ‘Skypager’ lineup or even the prior decade’s ‘This Is My Element,’ Jon Miner gamely coaxes out a cohesive if unwieldy production, strung together with static long-lens shots and a fair helping of psych-rock pulled from the ‘Made’ bins. Bionic Barley heir Brandon Westgate cranks once more down the SF hills to Operation Ivy’s buzzsaw bounce, rocketing over a king-size street gap and frontside flipping what appears to be an entire loading dock. Granola-grimy Tyson Peterson pulls a shocker of a kinked rail dismount and looks as confident sitting on backside smith grinds as he seems to be copping thrift-store trouser pants. Dominick Walker’s TSM cover footage is bananas, Greyson Fletcher catches one of the season’s most lovely and frightening kickflips, the lanky Madars Apse’s Barcelona board bonk and similar antics read like a Polar tryout, or maybe raised glass. Terminally brolic Mason Silva is positioned as ‘Peace’s’ closer, boosting fakie over the back of a rail to 5-0 and uncorking one of the wilder bump-to-bar wallride combos in a while, but it is starry-eyed wanderer Evan Smith, again, serving as the current Element generation’s spiritual core — beautifully switch backside flipping a bench, helicoptering off that silvery wedge for all the Spanish oldsters, and perhaps most dangerously of all, attempting to break Marsellus Wallace’s cardinal rule after a wallie late-shove gone wrong.

Is Element’s perpetually churning team a strength or weakness? Amid the recent media campaign for ‘Peace,’ Tyson Peterson in Thrasher speaks on his longtime Element fandom in terms of Brent Atchley, a dude off the team 10 years ago — and Bam Margera, whose pickup by Element during his ascent to MTV reality television staple marked one of the more surreal team roster mutations from the Chris Hall and Harold Hunter days, or even Reese Forbes and Kenny Hughes.

Meanwhile over at Girl, a 25-year-old entity that has derived much of its powers from maintaining a direct link to its storied pros and past, the dudes seem like they’re trying to tell us something. “We know where we’re going/but we don’t know where we’ve been,” croon the Talking Heads to Niels Bennett’s pre-intro sizzler in Girl’s crackling new ‘Doll’ vid. “I can change,” bleats James Murphy in the obligatory, sentimental-yet-lighthearted closing-credits number, as those yellowy letters scroll. “We sit back on Malayan islands/sipping mixed drinks out of broke coconut bowls, we wilding” croons Ghostface Killah amid Griffin Gass’ punchy, driving last part.

It is the sound of Girl breaking with its past, to some extent; eight minutes of ‘Doll’ unspool before there’s any tricks from a pre-9/11 rider, and then, it’s second-genner Brandon Biebel. The OGs skate for only about 30 seconds in the vid, and whether or not that’s OK is moot in 2018 — the ravages of time and adult living make anything else unrealistic, and Girl’s new hair relaxer-rejecting brood proves more than capable of carrying the half-hour ‘Doll.’

The dozens-deep pro rosters and overwrought theatrica of preceding Crailtap productions mostly are shunted to the side, allowing viewers to marinate in Niels Bennett’s sand gaps line, bounding fakie over one of Venice’s fat ledges, Tyler Pacheco’s loosey-goosey nollie heelflips and frontside bluntslides, Griffin Gass’ brawling rampages through alleys and fountains, and that one kickflip backside noseblunt. There’s winks and nods to past bits like Rick Howard’s dawdling rodent and Keenan Milton’s Rick Moranis moment, but the generational shift at work benefits even the skits — session screenwriter Colin Read, of ‘Spirit Quest’ fame, captures Spike Jonze’s brand of winking creativity using basically a board and a camera for a worthwhile entry in Girl/Choco’s anthropomorphic board series.

As the human attention span shrinks to rival the goldfish’s, ’tis it better, in pursuit of longevity and countercultural heft, to regularly shed teamriders every few years or hold to the original foundation of dudes as long as can be? Did everybody take note of Tyler Pacheco’s fakie flip in this? What about the alternate ending for the board revenge skit? How come nobody ever coined the nickname Matt “Miami” Beach?

Last One, I Promise, I Hope, Sort Of

June 29, 2009

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Not that he didn’t deserve it, but the August 2009 TSM kiss-off from Dave Swift to skateboarding’s confused, painful mess of a Jereme Rogers*, now rap music’s confused painful mess of a JR, to me falls into the day late/dollar short category. Swift’s point stands, of course — the whole idea behind a magazine is to hold good skate-boarding to the light and enjoy its stoke-a-riffic sparkle — but if you want to get serious about it, lil Jereme’s nonsense has been occupying precious space in the grand pages of our world for some time now, and the best magazines also mark the cultural milestones along the way, so why not a bookend to this absurd and glorious journey that Jereme Rogers has taken us on for the last seven years? As Swift himself notes, Bucky’s pool will be there forever and ever, but I would personally like to take these particular blog characters to urge each and every budding collector type to buy a copy of this magazine… imagine if Gator had penned a retirement letter, or Chris Gentry, or even Bastien Salabanzi, powerfully deluded each and every one. (Kindly insert your Andy Mac and Brian Emmers jokes here.) JR’s “retirement” is the latest tattooed milemarker to these strange times in which we travel.

To get the full read on where JR is coming from, you really do have to listen to the meandering, eight-minute suite “Goodbye Skateboarding,” the ender-ender on his new “This Shouldn’t Be a Mixtape, Mixtape” mixtape; you can download it for free, as he was telling his friends Puff Daddy and Dwayne Carter on Tweeter just yesterday. A more succinct version, no doubt riddled with spelling errors and text-message abbreviations, will run in the Skateboard Mag August issue, where Jereme Rogers lays out his case: a child prodigy Little League pitcher, he gave it all up to become a regional tween gymnastics champion**, which he threw away to live on the cold streets of Boston as a 13-year-old skateboard phenom grinding to make a place for himself in this cold cold world. Or something. Eli Reed was there, according to the song.

The point (if you believe all this) is that JR understands you need to have some skin in the game, so he’s going all-in to pursue his new passion, and since nearly everyone was wondering, his friends and/or associates did indeed try and warn him multiple times that this might just be a fantastically horrible idea. But, JR deflects doubts with hater-proof armor and is willing to go back to couch-surfing to make PMP music a reality. As a stalwart fan of horrible rap music and the possessor of Jereme Rogers’ not-a-mixtape, I feel I can attest that blinding and irrational self-confidence is definitely an asset when you’re trying to think up cool words to rhyme. The other being style/swagger/whatever the kids call it nowadays, and to a lesser extent maybe skill, which are all pretty subjective things and which I personally feel Jereme Rogers has in spades, but my judgment is poor.

If I were to lay a bet with Swift, it would be that JR will be back on the pages of TSM within three years shaping his comeback to skating, with any combination of illegal file-sharing, nefarious business partners and general haterism to blame for the untimely demise of PMP music. In the meantime I feel like we’ve struck the ultimate deal, since we get to observe JR, the tattoo-collecting, God-fearing whisper-rapping spectacle, without having to sacrifice valuable magazine space and video footage on his safety-arm landings. Plus we have all those fond Jereme memories to look back on. Remember when Koston and those dudes stole his plane ticket and he giggled about having to ride a train across Europe, flatground kickflipping all the way there? Also, this:

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Best of luck in the rap game Jereme! Your friends at Boil the Ocean

*Apologies to the Gryffon
**Hopefully young JR doesn’t run afoul of Jay-Z and become the next contestant on that summer jam screen