Posts Tagged ‘Mind Field’

1. Jake Johnson – “Mind Field” Quartersnacks Edit

December 30, 2009

The discerning observer will realize that it’s hard to come up with many knocks against Jake Johnson’s Alien debut in “Mind Field,” what with the strange and free-flowing arm motions, eye-pleasing urban environments and magic carpet wallrides that are sometimes of the switch variety. Beyond the absence of any rumored handrail switch b/s noseblunt, only two possible complaints are even to be comprehended, one being that more clips would be nice and the other that the original section lacked the hollow rasp of one Young Jeezy to really capture the bleak glory and cash profits to be found in ruling over an empire of crack cocaine consumers.

Helpfully the computer scientists employed by Quartersnacks.com dug into the b-roll footage and Jeezy’s triumphant 2008 song about “putting on” to peanut butter up the chocolate that was already among the awesomest video parts of the year. Due to my hapless internet coding capabilities I have failed in posting the actual video above succeeded in convincing the Quartersnacks bros to upload it to Vimeo. The full AWMF Re-edit can be viewed here, where the part in question starts around 3:00, or you can download it in superior quality off the QS site here. Watch it again for the first time, marvel at the majesty of the switch 50-50 on the bench-back and the b/s noseblunt shove it, and ponder whether Young Jay Jenkins maybe has the game locked by default in 2010 with nearly every other worthwhile competitor jailed.

Update: Original edit here, with the AC music that honestly I don’t hate at all and cameos from that springy bug thing.

3. Grant Taylor – “Debacle”

December 28, 2009

Despite turning in one of the more rewatchable parts in Alien’s very rewatchable “Mind Field,” the one nit this blog-site picked was that Grant Taylor’s section could’ve featured more of his coldly controlled transition stuff, and sure enough a few months later the Lite-Brite perpetual motion machine that was Jason Hernandez’s “Debacle” vid for Nike delivered the goods. Much like the lime-green drug rug donned for backyard rain dances, Grant Taylor wrings extra mileage out of the classics (one-footer, stand-up frontside 5-0s in the deep end) without coming off like one of those kids who hurried to learn pivot fakies after all his friends quit frontside flipping the stairs down by the school. The roly-poly launch to quarterpipe transfer thingy is one of my favorites in this and still gives me the willies occasionally, even after watching this video dozens of times on the i-pod.

5. Heath Kirchart – “Mind Field”

December 26, 2009

Heath Hirchart mustered all the forces of darkness to close out Alien’s “Mind Field” with the requisite sparks a-flying and some bonus bigspins for the ADD-addled YouTube generation. Every Heath Kirchart video appearance is a kind of event on its own, to the point that his appearance on O’Dell’s “Skate Talk” set viewership records only topped by the recent appearance of the self-awareness challenged JR. While JR’s message is about believing in yourself and balling out at the club, contempt for his fellow man festers in Kirchart’s heart, but much like the Incredible Hulk he seeks to channel it in useful ways such as backside lipsliding long rails and breaking the noses of mere mortals. With this part women trembled, the ground shook and minor miracles occurred in nearby counties, as anticipation grew for the Emerica whiteout.

Fat Lady Sings

September 22, 2009

kalisstevie
Techneat

Well, I suppose we’re obligated to ramble on a little bit more on the Kalis/DGK/Alien situation, but believe it or not, I’m kind of at a loss* since this whole deal seems like it should be a bigger issue than it is. Maybe it’s team-hop hangover from Koston-Nike, or maybe it’s like Kalis himself implied in the EXPN interview – he saw it coming, Alien saw it coming, nobody was too broken up over the whole thing. There is a vague end-of-an-era feeling I guess, but AWS has moved a space pun-worthy light year or two from where they were back in 1995 (throwback graphics notwithstanding), whereas Kalis, bless his heart, hasn’t changed his approach too much (brown cords and Rolling Stones notwithstanding).

There’s been talk of unused Spanish footage collecting dust on Greg Hunt’s cutting room floor, the stunted career ambitions of one Marquise Henry**, and the increasingly divergent path of Alien Workshop from its hallowed backpack rap roots, which was one of the things that perhaps made Kalis a more interesting part of the mix in “Mind Field” than “Photo” and for sure “Time Code.” Is it ‘better’ that Josh Kalis reclaim his gold link-wearing past and steer clear of stretch denim and coloured-frame Wayfarers, probably yes. It is a bit sad though, since one of AWS’s great strengths was bridging the gap between the weird, cerebral shit the Ohio brain-trust had going on, and the dudes cracking tricks and fighting bums in the piss and dirt at the Brooklyn Banks. I thought Josh Kalis’s section in “Mind Field” was one of the proverbial fresh-air breaths with its abrasive rap music and baggy jeans, but as long as they hold onto Jake Johnson and Grant Taylor, they should be good riding the Dyrdek/Berra reality TV revenue into Jake Burton’s good graces.

As far as DGK goes we’ll stick with yesterday’s headline, in that there are far cheesier and more cold-blooded mercenary moves to be made than joining an old buddy and putting your remaining video footage and photo output toward promoting an independent outfit. Despite coming up in the golden age of profiling Kalis has never really stopped producing, and DGK could probably benefit from his focus as they gear up for a new video. You know Stevie Williams in particular is psyched to have him on. Old compadres back in the saddle again, etc, plus reports have the DGK chieftan forgoing his next multi-zero shoe deal in favor of filming the best section of his career, a tall order on or off Philadelphia public space.

Far more interesting than any of this is that Jackson Curtain is rumored to be sitting on an alleged 30+ minutes of video footage for the DGK project, raising the possibility of a Marc Johnson-esque reign of terror set to a suite of Just Blaze instrumentals… or maybe a Daniel Dumile approach that would see him parcel out multiple parts over the course of a year in a bid for SOTY status or Nike pro shoedom.

*I know, I know
**who’s good and all but should thank his stars he has powerful people watching out for him

Midwinter Video Roundup: Quartersnacks “Mind Field” Re-Edit

March 29, 2009


Straight up now

I was going to do one of these video-focused postings about the Untitled video where I gave all the skaters names of characters in the midcentury Bible story epic “Ben Hur,” except it started to seem like a lot of work real quick because I haven’t seen “Ben Hur” (not sober anyhow) in a good long while. So whatever. Then I thought about how I should have done one on the Lakai “Final Flare” box set, but it’s been like three months since the goddamn thing came out and you can probably imagine where I’d go with it anyway: the no-sound-all-slow HD feature is basically 20 minutes of footage stretched over a 45-minute snowboard video canvas, the unused footage is bonkers, a bunch of Alex Olson’s best tricks somehow weren’t used (barrier tailslide, nollie b/s 180 over the bar), that fantastic Australia/B.O.B. tour clip is in there, the documentary veers a bit too far into the “Hot Chocolate” lane for comfort and leaves you wondering whether Carroll considered handing Ty Evans his walking papers once the whole thing was over with. One of the issues I have with his approach to making skate videos is the way the drama/emotion often gets turned up to 11… his sensibilities still seem like a weird match for the minds behind the goldfish chase and “Paco,” even all these years since “Beware of the Flare.”

You get the feeling that the Quartersnacks dudes maybe had a similar reaction to “Mind Field,” but instead of snarking around about it on the internet (or in addition to) they took it upon themselves to tear the original to pieces and put it back together in new shapes of their own choosing – a Google image search-inflected reframing of the Greg Hunt masterpiece, compressed to under 30 minutes and strained through a filter of Drumma Boy and “Fresh Prince” that sifts out all the Dinosaur Jr, most of the artsiness and half the dudes’ parts (they kept Arto?). Favored sections are expanded by way of b-roll footage and, as the situation warrants, QS seagull/cigarette equivalents in the form of ’80s tap-dance routines, cameos from the likes of Tom Jones and Lennie Kirk, and an update to the Carter-Dill tapes. Obvious highlights are Jeezy/Johnson and Kalis’s Trick Daddy epic, along with the musical tributes to Dylan Rieder’s fair features. This AVE part is perhaps better than the original and the shocking return of a dearly departed Workshopper at the very end throws everything about the original video (if not the entire universe) into question.

Anyway, a total tour de force, I think they still have it up for download here. Nobody go suing anybody now…

Iron, Ink and Elbow Grease

March 12, 2009


Seeing sounds

One of the things that continues to be worth celebrating about “Mind Field” what, a month after its release is that it represented a return to form for Alien Workshop in the art direction department – the MF ad campaign was generally pretty good and the preview clips were always quality, but as far as board graphics and the editing of other recent DNA video projects, some of it was a little pedestrian considering the source. So at risk of exacerbating what was probably Alien video overkill last month I thought this Transworld slide show/interview between Mike O’Meally and Mike Hill was a sort of interesting read and companion to the “Visual Workshop” feature on the DVD, as the sometimes gloriously low-fi work that went into the visual cacophony seems to have been at least as intensive as the dudes heaving themselves up, over and onto railings, and it’s cool that paper mache remains a viable art form somewhere.

MO: Are there any special things that people should look out for in this next video that is different to the last ones.
HILL: I would probably think that we went to greater lengths to come up with something original for the titles and that was the spark that me and Chad talked about originally that really got us excited about getting back in to building rigs to film things. In the past I would say that I didn’t really care about titles so much but we came up with something’s and we wanted to see if they worked. I’m stoked on that, also maybe having some bright colors in there. Just cause it contrasts cool with grainy black and whites and to me, too much of that made it Memory Screen 2009. I don’t really want to do that. I’d rather progress, so to me doing things to where a little bit with the technology and maybe a little bit with the fact that we can get some get some different effects easier now than then because then there weren’t really any computers, earlier on so if you film something it was what it was. Where as here you can get it kind of close and you know that you can tweak it a little in the computer to get a total glow.

The Last Post About “Mind Field” For A While, No But Seriously

February 19, 2009


Seriously though (pic via Slap)

With the Alien Workshop video pretty much a total success on all fronts* it’s kind of ironic, possibly in an Alanis Morissette actually-not-really-ironic-but-just-shitty sort of a way, that “Mind Field” may be the last gasp of the full-length skate video as a statement-of-purpose document, or if you like, a tool to separate the nourishing wheat from the boring chaff company-wise. Skate videos seem to be streaming their way away from the five-years-in-the-making blockbuster and toward the free/internet promo: DNA and Black Box both have indicated that they’re probably going to pursue more “Regal Road/Kalis in Mono” and Stallion/Eldridge promo-type releases as Youtube wreaks its convenient havoc upon video profitability, which would imply annual videos comprised of parts from whoever’s cracking at the time and a gradual dribbling out of tricks from the vets, for better or for worse.

“Mind Field” is really great; it surpassed my expectations, and though it’s not perfect (alas, no skate vids really is) the depth of the thing and the slow-burn factor that DNA videos tend to have make it a stong candidate for classic status. So a little more random bullshit on this video, then I’m done:

-I’m sort of surprised at the complaints in the comments here and elsewhere regarding the degree of artsy-fartsiness at play, until I remember that “Memory Screen” came out what, 18 years ago. (For what it’s worth I think the art factor runs a little bit closer to that production than “Photosynthesis,” which probably has something to do with the latter video’s shorter runtime.) Right, well, the Segway thing kind of dragged on. But generally it was exactly what I was looking for: you know, grainy seagulls, weird satellite antennas, bizarre paper mache creatures, time lapse melting clouds, all that good shit. Frozen in Carbonite raised the point that a lot of this material would be derided as painfully cliche in another video, which is true, but also kind of the point – I mean, didn’t Alien basically invent this stuff, at least as far as skateboard videos go?

-As far as equating something like that housefly patiently rubbing its hands together ahead of Heath Kirchart’s section to the ad nauseum run/throw board down/roll away clips in “Fully Flared,” I’m not seeing it at all – it’s like an Andy Jenkins board versus a Plan B logo graphic. And I’ll sign on for Dinosaur Jr overkill in lieu of Band of Horses overkill.

-I didn’t post about Dylan Rieder, a skater I still feel kind of conflicted about, but I’ve come to think of his section as the sleeper part of this video – he gets over a little bit too easy in some respects but he’s got a natural way with his tricks with super good execution, and even if it wasn’t quite as good as his “Time to Shine” part I still think that if it were padded with some of the footage from the very generous “B-roll” extras it could have closed out the video. Well, maybe if Heath and AVE got sick. But still: that hair. The Axl Rose hat. Those shoes, those pants. He does win grime points for popping over that crack in the bank-to-bank ollie manual, because I’m sure Jake Burton could’ve sprung for some Bondo. I kind of feel like Greg Hunt’s TWS video editing resume is front and center in this section, like a couple of others, but whatever.

-In all the homage/reference talk, nobody mentioned AVE’s ollie ode to the Nandez?

-Does anybody have a link to Kalis’s alleged custom Jeru song? Platinum Seagulls, we’re looking at you…

-Back to the B-roll, Alien isn’t the first to throw out Youtube remix raw meat like that, but with all that footage plus the “Kalis in Mono” part sans Stones this could turn out to be a pretty brilliant web 3.0 style marketing effort. (Are we up to 3.0 yet? 4.0?)

*With the exception of about three parts, I’d say

The Grimness and Grace of Heath Kirchart

February 16, 2009


Superbeast

Somehow, though a combination of reticence, grouchiness and no small amount of punishing gnarlitude, former crack cocaine purchaser and sometime bikini contest judge Heath Kirchart has over the years perfected the quality/quantity cocktail of skateboarding career moves that most never get right and others probably shouldn’t even bother with, to the degree that few dudes’ video parts are as hotly anticipated as the greasy-haired fellow who these days motors across the country decked out in somebody else’s military medals. It’s a beautiful thing, that such a willfully antisocial weirdo can surface once every few years, command our full attention, and yes, cement his place in the history books by earning the title of TWS’s Best All-Around Skater.

In terms of what he films Heath Kirchart generally isn’t reaching for the high-hanging tech/gnar fruits plucked by the likes of Chris Cole and Eric Koston, and he’s not chasing the biggest/highest/farthest challenges for bonus points either really. And it’s not as though he pulls from a bottomless bag of tricks either (shoutout to the bluntslide and backside flip). But there’s a kind of contemptuous recklessness in the way he skates, heaving himself onto a handrail or slowly twirling ten feet out of some skatepark bowl. And intensity. Oodles and oodles of piping hot intensity.

This sort of contemptuous nonchalance fuels Heath Kirchart’s thundering bloodbath of a bookend to “Mind Field” on a suitably dour Morrissey note as we lap up the usual tropes (backside noseblunt, switch kickflip, frontside noseslide, frontside tailslide) and some newer ones (switch heelflip, backside lipslide bigspin, kickflip nosegrind, the JT Aultz/ollie over to noseblunt slide); in the meantime we’re treated to a hyperventilating owl and an effort to loosen up the collar of the shoelace belt look for summer ’09. It’s not a party exactly – it seems like it never really is with this dude, even when him and Jeremy Klein were terrorizing shrubberies over a decade ago – but when he gets his inner whipsaw or whatever revved up there aren’t many who shove-it out over gaps or bomb frontside boardslides down hubbas or eat shit better than Heath Kirchart really. And it was nice to see the TSM covers, years old though they may be.

Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba

February 13, 2009


What happened to that boy

As Sir Elton John famously sang through the mouth of an orphaned cartoon lion, the circle of life is evident in all things, even or perhaps especially the Alien Workshop skate video. New careers are launched, even as others film a handful of low-impact ledge lines on their way toward that inevitable twilight. We could jawbone about professional obligations and numerically stack pro model shoes against tricks in the video, but that won’t get us any further than a Brian Wenning alphabet ledge trick (to keep it vintage DNA for ya’ll) so let’s focus on some of the “Mind Field” veterans who, ahem, showed up for work.

In Jason Dill of course we have somebody who’s been in the skateboarding business for about two-thirds of his life and has actively given a shit about his contribution to the whole ball of wax for at least half that time, if not longer, little shit status notwithstanding. He cares to the point of calling people out on shit that the rest of us would probably let slide, or at least silently simmer until some drunken industry function spills onto a post-bartime sidewalk; he seems to have a very definite idea of what skateboarding can be and puts no small amount of consideration into what he does, how he does it and when. Whether it’s lifestyle factors or some new less-is-more inclination (which I can get down with to some extent) Jason Dill’s video parts and coverage in general have gotten more spare in the last few years, putting whatever tricks he has into sharper relief – I think I like his “Mind Field” part better than his shit in the DVS video, if nothing else because there a noticeable absence of Cass McCombs droning, but also due to the fact that he seems like he was going for it a little more on this one. Clarity of vision, or the whole trying-harder-for-the-Alien-dudes thing. Lots of feeble grinds in uncomfortable places, updating the Photo-era 180 to 5-0 sequences to contemporary abrupt transition spots* and generally weirding up Pappalardo’s non-Flare minimalism. I want to believe there’s some deeper symbolism behind letting the phone float away at the end of the section. Something to do with Chris Carter taping him, right? Or maybe he lost his phone?

For Josh Kalis it seems simpler – he’s laid out his philosophy of professional-grade skating several times, likening it to a ladder, or staircase to heaven, or, god help us, a 12-step program. First you get the flow… then you get the pro board… then you get the women. Or, shoe deal. Pro model shoe. Video game. Reality show (or not). Like that. Learn new tricks along the way, take the tricks you know to different spots, do them faster. Not real complex. At this late stage in the game Kalis probably could get over cycling through tricks from parts that Kids Today haven’t even seen (kickflip noseblunt/411 Alien industry section, frontside flip nosegrind/411, switch backside noseblunt/”Sixth Sense”) peppered with the usual 360 flips, switch backside tailslides and so on, but darn it if he doesn’t keep on trying. He’s been talking up the possibilities of the bigspin for years but really pushes it in “Mind Field,” with fairly dazzling results, and when he turns up the heat after Marquise Henry’s cameo the general badassness of the entire affair makes it easier to overlook how some of his tricks don’t flip as fast as they once did, and how the classic eagle swoop form is missing more often than not. But with all the bigspin tricks, the taller-than-a-building switch backside flip, the 360 flip off the Barcelona bump, this might be the best Kalis part of the white cap era. And he’ll have more of course.

Anthony Van Engelen, I have no clue whether he thinks in these terms or not – you want to think his skating is totally visceral and from the gut, the way it translates on video, an idea (or not) and then a full-speed charge. But who knows. He does seem to have gone through some shit during his years in the wilderness, so maybe he’s been plotting, but his new voracious appetite for big rails and off-the-wall tricks (I’m thinking like the fakie f/s 50-50, and the spin-around ledge stuff) kind of seems like he’s shooting first and asking questions later when it comes to mapping this stuff out. I’m not sure if this time around quite matches the platinum standard AVE set with his blazing debut in “Photosynthesis” or the refined and elevated “DC Video” part, time will be the judge I guess, but it’s awesome to see him so hungry again. Depending on the day, this is one of my favorite three parts in the video. That fuckin’ switch frontside noseslide. Ollies straight onto rails = the new nosegrind pop-outs.

*I enjoy the phrase “abrupt transition” and plan to use it often – thanks Deer Man of Dark Woods

In Utero

February 11, 2009

“Mind Field” is a big meal. Beginning with the ams…

Grant Taylor is a hard one to pin down: all-terrainer of the new school, fresh-faced fifth-grader features with an affinity for graffiti(?), ramps and fits of grouchiness that could coax a cracked-tooth smile upon the craggiest faces of slash dogs. He lives in a bowl and reportedly spearheaded the construction of his own foundation spot, at the ripe age of however old he is (my guess, not very). Following the brief trick-list rundown in the Nike video and assorted cement park schralpage sprinkled throughout the Indy 30-year tour thing, “Mind Field” finds Grant Taylor sharpening his street teeth on some standard little-kid thrill chasing (big rails, big jumps) and other shit of a way different order: the half-cab backside smith*, the door bash and so on. Personally I would’ve liked to see more transition out of the kid, because I like that one thing he does with his arm when he lands, but it’s going to be interesting to watch where he takes things from here – I get the feeling he’s already foregone a probably assured career milking his ingrained Penny style on easy ledge/natural transition stuff. More to come, I guess.

Tyler Bledsoe I knew first as a midget in baggy pants who wore glasses and made periodic appearances in complimentary DNA calendars; we now know him as an upstart Oregonian with an affinity for headgear of multiple types, still-loose clothing and the ability to impress Rick Howard with frontside bluntslide variations across the USA. Hat wearin’ Tyler, as he is known to some**, practices soft-focus landings and Sean Malto dismounts and brings probably the greatest level of Lakai ledge flare to the Alien production; at times it’s like the honchos in Ohio opted to trade in their option on Torey Pudwill in favor of the next-gen edition with the kinks worked out. Bledsoe doesn’t have the off-kilter tech mindbender nature that Pudwill employs, but you’re less likely to fear for his pelvis when he’s bigspinning out of some tailslide six or seven feet off the ground. So maybe it was an insurance liability issue. Which would explain all the hats, to cover the glasses strap.

Jake Johnson we have waxed on, and waxed off, in this space previously… I’ll keep this brief: several viewings in, his section remains my favorite in “Mind Field” and I regularly sit up straighter on the couch when those kaleidoscopic twinkles fade in after Omar’s ovation. Johnson builds on the ambidextrous/low-tech approach taken in the Chapman video a year ago, with the limber flips and skyscraper rails, but he looks a lot more fluid now – on some kind of Nate Broussard puffy cloud even when he’s riding away from those colossal wallrides, or that hairball of a fakie heelflip.

*Also performed about eight or nine years ago by your boy, Bobby D
**some who read this blog post, anyway