Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Is The Gap Being Properly Minded?

January 18, 2021

Jim Greco is in the news again, winding down 2020 with a display of his remove from skateboarding’s professional rat race, putting forward his most recent Film ‘Glass Carousel’ just as the inevitability of Mason Silva’s SOTY campaign wound to its undeniable conclusion. Ironically, or not, ‘Glass’ represents the closest thing to a conventional video part from the mercurial Greco since 2013’s ‘The Deathwish Video,’ vid; he surfaced not in November’s ‘Uncrossed’ full length. And he rips, rattling long bluntslides across bricked planters, backside 270 tailsliding a serious tall ledge, backside flipping on an impossibly tight bank, a disheveled meditation on a few square blocks in Los Angeles’ hot, disease-wracked core.

Absent this go-round are the attendant pork products, the silent rootbeer sipping, the inch by inch scraping of metal furniture across bleached concrete. ‘Glass Carousel’ gazes instead upon downtown Los Angeles’ tired and drug-hooked vagrants, Joey Sinko’s jittery lens provoking one to give angry chase and taking a long look as another sucks in chemical vapors. Greco himself of course has been in and of this world, and part of the off-putting allure of him and Joey Sinko’s prior Films has been the way they steep watchers in Greco’s urban ghost towns and drab routines, but the unblinking stare on the downtrodden struggling here rapidly feels discomforting, and a shade invasive.

Maybe that sentiment’s another symptom of skateboarding’s long and halting maturation into its current and more ‘grown’ mindset, the one that eats healthy, draws ice baths and makes more room for those outside the cultural mainstream for whom it always was supposed to be a refuge. Maybe Jim Greco and Joey Sinko let these clips run a few too many seconds beyond the snapshot blinks used for city-grit seasoning in other vids. The surplus of suffering and anguish generally over the past year may have everybody at this point hitting a certain collective limit. Maybe that’s the point?

‘Glass Carousel’ is the most recent in decades’ worth of skate videos to stitch in homeless people and assorted other streetbound characters in between tricks and lines and whatever else. When Ricky Oyola threw hands with the dude at Love Park in the credits of the Sub Zero video around 1994, it was two people who both spent their days in disused pockets of the city, harassed by cops, avoided or castigated by most everybody else. Contemporaries have described the vibe then and there as general coexistence and occasional turf battles between groups who may not have been seen as very many rungs apart on society’s grand ladder, though one set probably much more likely to have a roof over their heads.

In the quarter-century hence, skateboarding’s capacity to generate ad revenue for sport organizations, television networks and bagel merchants have widened that gap, by some measure. In 2003, with the THPS/X-Games era in full swing, California lurkers nicknamed ‘Da Clown’ and ‘Ghostrider’ were providing comic relief and occasional pearls of wisdom between parts and montages in Transworld’s ‘Free Yr Mind.’ Another decade on and the Supreme kids shared airtime in ‘Cherry’ with a Misfits-hating corner growler and the illicit smoker ‘Spark Plug,’ in service of a multi-billion dollar clothing supplier.

In our current epoch, skateboarders of various stripes grace billboards and Superbowl ads, show off their mansions and command what remain of MTV’s airwaves nearly around the clock. Police can kickflip and may give you a couple more tries, a presidential candidate is a ’skateboard philosopher,’ and one of these years the much-ballyhooed 2020 Olympic debut will occur. Meanwhile, after years of moderate declines, the number of US homeless has increased by 20,000 over the past four years, and the coronavirus has spread through shelters and threatens them on the streets.

Ought this increasingly glaring gulf be more recognized/respected by camera-toting inner city spot hunters? Does there exist a sliding scale between the New York summer-vacationing pro squads and the likes of Philadelphia’s Sabotage group, who may spend as many hours in a given day at Love Park or Municipal Plaza as any of the city’s unsheltered, and probably aren’t much banking off it either? Has the dude set up on the Santa Monica Courthouse stage appeared in any videos yet?

2. Vincent Alvarez – “Hard Times But Good Times”

December 31, 2012

Lines are some dudes’ friends and a natural enemy to others, meaning that during the space between tricks you get to see the subject navigate the board, push, potentially tug at his trousers or swivel his shoes to get set up for the coming gap, ledge, rail or come what may. Vincent Alvarez is one of those dudes where a healthy chunk of the appeal is absent without the swerve of his trucks, like in the run here that starts with the switch bluntslide, or the switchstance slalom between the cars. Vincent Alvarez skates fast and loose and sometimes like he’s flailing to hang on, and some of these tricks here like the switch frontside bigspin wallride and the hasty follow after the nollie flip into the bank are presented with all their rough edges intact, backed by a meandering jazz tune. A lot of this footage reportedly is drawn from the years around when he got onto Chocolate and filming with buddies afterwards, and to me what elevates this part is how you can see that this is a dude running his own roster of tricks, zooming around some well-traveled labyrinth of alleyways and ditches, facing down traffic and big hills. It is one of the shortest eight-minute parts ever.

9. Fabian Alomar – “Free Fabes”

December 23, 2012

Whatever happened with the DGK video and the fortunes to be gained and lost peddling this generation’s version of the FUCT t-shirt line to rap singers and their suburban admirers, Stevie Williams cemented his position as a skate mogul by using his clout to help put out a video part that a certain segment of the populace had been waiting on for 15 years — a feat that apparently had eluded Kareem Campbell, Steve Rocco, Patrick O’Dell and possibly others. The continued fetishization of mid-90s attitudes and filming equipments can’t recreate the fit of the jeans or the sound of a k-grind across the Venice pit ledges, and Fabian Alomar’s nollie backside flip over the sand gap, the line at the white planters and the tricks off the bump at the end could have run in any of the greatest videos of that era. Tough luck that it took a personal tragedy for this footage to see the light of day, but it would be testing fate to overlook a gift pony internet sites such as this one have been requesting from Santa Claus for so long. DGK’s “Free Fabes” website is here.

Supra Has Stevie Williams Riding The Bench

July 29, 2012

Incendiary click-bait topic title aside, not a great deal to see here other than a much fantastic photo of Stevie Williams in this ad for his Supra signature model footwear. Enjoy that this photo doesn’t clonk you over the head with a big fisheye angle showing how high the bench is, kinda like Stevie Williams’ strictly basics attire here, the whole idea seems to be take it or leave it. A dude cracking an awesome trick as he goes down the sidewalk, on his way to wherever. The Hollywood squares sidewalk kind of threw me at first but this is a worthwhile entry in this internet site’s long-running love affair with the switch frontside noseslide and from a veteran practitioner. There are plenty pro-types whose off-board months and years carry the whiff of wasted time but Stevie Williams always has seemed to be genuinely operating in the background, to whatever end, and really looking forward to his section in this long-discussed DGK video.

The Medium-Sized MNC Star T-Shirt Is The Message Dudes

December 7, 2011

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Quartersnacks the other day posted up this deep dive into Sect adherent Jake Johnson who sounds like he’s spent the better part of the last year pondering ponderous thoughts on a skate-oriented pilgrimage to Pittsburgh as part of a broader effort to reconnect with his inner dirtball. The idea wins kudos at this blog webpage, where such concepts are prized above sponsorship by big-box retail chains. One of Jake Johnson’s ponders involves the “message” that underlies skateboarding, a potent smoothie of rebellion, aggression, creativity, pain and escapism, some of which might be lost on a generation coming up with parks aplenty and tweet-ready reality idols straddling the primetime viewing hour. There’s a separate message though for which Jake Johnson feels more personal responsibility, transmogrifying his board into a ball-point pen and the streets to an 8.5×11″ piece of white printer paper:

“My sponsors give me a lot of freedom. For the most part, they understand that me developing a concept, message, and my style of skating is the most important thing for their company. They’re willing to do whatever it takes for me to skate my best, and they trust me that I know how to do that. A lot of companies don’t.”

Thinking back on “Mind Field” Jake Johnson from what I recall worked hard to root the footage in his working frame of reference which was mostly New York at the time, setting up kind of a contrast to Josh Kalis’ various beefs about Greg Hunt not incorporating enough of his Barcelona tricks, but whatever. The comment (and whole interview really) signal that Jake Johnson found an early grasp on what somebody can do with the career opportunity he was handed and seems to be thinking hard about what he wants to do with it.

Who else thinks in terms of this “message” thing? I think Leo Valls and the “Night Prowler” guys definitely have an aesthetic that they’re looking to promote with their skating, built on what Ricky Oyola and Bob Puleo developed, a sorta homesteading purity for the streets. When Jamie Thomas cued up that clip of himself skating over that bridge in Chicago at the beginning of his “Welcome To Hell” section I think he had an idea he wanted to get across, same with Jim Greco and Stevie Williams a couple years later. Jason Dill is a dude who you can imagine looks at his message as a malleable and mutating thing. Mike Vallely’s career arc cast him into a spot now where you could say that “message” is nearly all he puts out, versus skate tricks.

There’s some comments made in the (too) long-gestating “Epicly Later’d” on Menace along the lines that Pupecki, Valdes, Suriel et al were at the time some assortment of castoffs and misfits corralled by Kareem Campbell to fill out his allotted corner of the Rocco empire. Maybe that’s partly true, but you gotta think that the mastermind behind our still-beloved “mNc” star logo had his own type of message in mind, having to do with communicating through vaguely scary hand-signals and 360 flipping through sidewalk cafes. If all he wanted was some square pegs he could’ve got Adam McNatt and Ryan Fabry.

Bros in Time

July 22, 2009

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For whatever reason this week we’re seeing a lot of themes around the glory of bro-ness popping up here and there, so I’m going to avoid retreading tha Plat’s recent odes to the season in favor of more other shit that warms the darkened cockles of aging skateboard hearts*. Such as this time warp Guy/Rudy pic, featured in the new and generally entertaining Wallride catalog. (Check for the Skate Mental dolphin deck and Carroll’s up-rail innovation.) We can sweat the Crailtap crew’s growing pains as they try and chart their course with the ’90s steadily shrinking in the rear-view mirror, but then they’ll parcel out photos like this, or empty the footage vaults for the box set, and future generations of face-tattooed Christian fundamentalist rappers can be forgiven. Too bad they’re not driving a Civic.

Tenuously related is this Lakai commercial for the nold Rick Howards, which I’ve unfortunately yet to sample, in which our pal gets some help from a couple IATSE Local 33 friends. But not Mike Carroll. If 411s were still coming out and I was still watching them I would for sure be waiting on new Lakai spots.

*inevitably bumming out the anti-bro-feeling Carbonite