Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

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?

Are We As A Subculture Strong Enough To Stick Together As Mike Carroll Goes Gray?

November 14, 2012

Around 18 short months ago the singer Chris Brown released the Toto-sampling single “She Ain’t You” and later had the planet on smash. The move was a unique look for Chris Brown, coming off a domestic violence scandal that rocked the industry, potentially lost marketing revenue, and left the nation jaded on celebrity relationships. Now, Chris Brown, performing in a tan outfit and with a wide-brimmed hat that was not really a cowboy hat but looked kind of like something that Michael Jackson might wear. He modeled certain parts of his new song on the original Michael Jackson song and another part on Sisters With Voices, and sold ringtones. Chris Brown hit #5 on the R&B charts and went gold in Australia in what some characterized as a turning point for his career.

This web blog sometimes speaks openly on topics including ageism, the arrow of time, and futuristic battlefields littered with the limbs of damaged ‘mechs, some brought down by SRMs aimed at the groin. One can try and mentally prepare for the unknowable, spinning curveballs that life places upon you, but only so much. So it was that longtime watchers of Mike Carroll encountered several surprises in recent months — one, hints and several suggestions of gray hairs along the sides of his head during the Eric Koston Epicly Later’ds. The second was a revelation that he had not long ago been diagnosed with that feral-sounding disorder that brought down J Dilla, lupus.

On the cusp of this new decade’s full-length offering from the Crailtap camp the hype cycle is unsurprisingly focused on any potential star turn from the reinvigorated Guy Mariano and whether this may be enough to achieve a magazine trophy, some limb-risking efforts on behalf of this crop of would-be torch-picker-uppers such as Elijah Berle, the length of Marc Johnson’s er video section and whether an allegedly more relaxed filming schedule might manifest itself in a movie that doesn’t carry the weight of the world in terms of production effects and moody techno. I have not heard a great deal about Koston. And though there have been offstage mutterings to the effect of ‘this is really the last hurrah for some of these dudes’ you have to wonder in the year 2012 whether it is really the last hurrah for some of these dudes.

Versus the clockwork-like recording of NBDs that Eric Koston has been able to turn in over the past two decades, Carroll’s career has always been a subtler affair with less fussing involved, that synthesizes the EMB cool-guy envelope-pushing with the self-deprecating launch ramp antics that Girl got into along with some rap CDs and crew cuts and sometimes a rave event. But if one or the other retires effectively upon publication of the “Pretty Sweet” video project, which would deal the heavier blow to an industry already disenchanted with slowing board sales, widespread (alleged) doping and the twin career flame-outs of Pappalardo and Wenning?

Has Mike Carroll ever made a bad video part, over what is almost a quarter of a century now? Recently he issues the same sort of weary commentary as Gino Iannucci around any further footage being largely given over to recycling old tricks at new spots, but when it comes to those frontside flips and backside tailslides, should that matter? Eric Koston’s Epicly Later’d series suggested that his pro career represents a rare bird that continues to peak, but what of Mike Carroll’s — across the Plan B and Girl catalogues, is there any easily identifiable high point?

In Which We Pause For A Moment To Take Cheap Shots At Not One But Three Action Sport Celebrities

September 18, 2012

For better or worse, this web log’s entry into this particular caption contest occurred to me pretty much immediately upon hearing* that the ‘Flying Tomato’ had gone tragically HAM on a hotel fire alarm at 2:00 a.m.:
‘Shawn White’s credibility among hard-core skateboarders briefly rises to the level of Jereme Rogers.’

An employee also reported seeing White destroy a hotel phone.

In the xtreme sphere’s neverending quest for equilibrium, it should be noted that Shawn White’s subsequent apology to his family and business partners returned him to his prior neighborhood, also inhabited by Andy Mac, who it happens recently debuted a new video part. The production features a relatively small amount of yellow cotton, some truly Ty Evans-worthy slow motion sequences, Dave Metty’s name in the credits and a big ollie out of a 50-50 that really is no joke. For those keeping score Andy Mac’s website notes that this is his first video section in 12 years, which places him well beyond Gino Iannucci on the great footage-o-meter.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I learned this news from my mom, which is a whole other conversation.