Posts Tagged ‘Nick Jensen’

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Lucien Clarke, ‘Palasonic’

July 12, 2019

It’s an old saw, calling so-and-so’s skating ‘effortless,’ and increasingly inaccurate, given the curtain-pulling-backness that comes with obligatory ‘raw files’ follow-ups to each vid of significance, plus the coverage subgenres devoted to meltdowns and slams. So it’s probably wrong to perceive Lucien Clarke’s ‘Palasonic’ opus as some type of gentle breeze through London’s urban meadows, as far as the skating goes, but it’s not difficult to come away from the part feeling some stresses shed: There’s the gentle Toby Shuall strumming as Lucien Clarke pushes through bushes and chips away those loathsome caps at the benches what raised him, not terribly concerned about what company’s shoes he’s sporting, whether there’s a tick-tack here or there, repeated tricks, or a mid-push stance switch. The point is the pop onto the nollie frontside noseslide, the no hesitation on the three-stack ollies, the arm drop on the switch heelflip frontside noseslide, the glide through the switch noseblunt slide, seven and a half minutes of street skating the way it was meant to be done.

The Man Comes Around

March 20, 2016

richunclepennybags

Beyond physics-challenging hair and a stated disdain for clowns, there may be hazy similarities to be grasped at and drawn between Sideshow Bob’s remarkable mayoral run in Springfield and Donald Trump’s elbows-out steamrolling toward the Republican presidential nomination. Amongst the jittery fretters who sense authoritarian tones in the bouquet of Donald Trump’s bombast, Sideshow Bob’s courtroom declaration seems prescient: ‘[D]eep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king.’

Erik Ellington, bigspinning Pissdrunk of years past and curator of his own famous locks, this week mused whether skateboarding has relinquished control over aspects of its greater, amorphous self. No specifics are called out, but if one were so inclined, signs could be observed all around: Erik Ellington’s onetime sponsor Active turning its fortunes over to a bankruptcy court; the sales of DC Shoe Co, Element and Alien Workshop to various holding companies; private equity’s purchases of Huf clothes and the parent of the Crail Couch itself. It is not difficult to visualize a future in which the ‘skater owned’ trope is quietly replaced with a ‘skater designed’ slogan similar to Apple’s California dreamt, China built taglines.

In one indication of the industry being divvied into ones who are sold and those who are told, Asphalt Yacht Club’s tour diary in the Cole Wilson TWS opens with a lament over Nyjah Huston jumping the tie-dyed landship for Swooshier endeavors (though not before fulfilling various contractual obligations for demos and signings that apparently do not also include skating spots with his erstwhile deckhands) before later fondly reminiscing on endearing tour missteps by Blake Carpenter, who the article highlights as another teammate who absconded for the Portland sneaker conglomerate. While quick to apply that familiar disclaimer of forgoing any hatred towards money-getting bros, the Yacht Club also claims some pride in its stepping-stone status: “One year you’re a controversial upstart who no one thinks is going to last, the next year you’ve got so much juice that you’re suddenly the farm team for the heavyweight champion of the world.” In a recent interview Habitat’s former Floridian bluntslide titlist Ed Selego similarly foregoes any hatred toward Nike Inc payrolled skaters, despite a lengthy passage arguing that company’s alleged policy of requiring shops to carry large quantities of potentially wack shoes in addition to the desirable ones led to the closure of an MIA outlet, and subsequent calls from bill collectors:

“Nike was the biggest problem for us. We had many good years selling their product, but at the same time they pushed tons of product on us that didn’t sell. They used shops like ours for years to establish the Nike SB brand. Then they opened up distribution to all the corporate stores and started selling direct to consumer. Being the number one shoe brand wasn’t enough for them. They had to exploit the brand to appease Wall St. and their shareholders. They did this with no plan in place for all the skate shops that struggled over the years. They loaded everyone up with a ton of debt then dumped us. It’s really irresponsible for such a large brand to do this and harm the very industry that they have come to be a part of. There is no better example of corporate greed.”

Such cautionary tales don’t appear to resonate: Lakai recently ceded two of its longtime Euro promoters, JB Gillet and Nick Jensen, to Nike. Heavy odds are on Danny Brady decamping for Palace-heavy Adidas in the near future, which recently hoovered up DVS honcho Paul Shier and former Lakaiers Na’Kel Smith and Miles Silvas. If it is a two-way street, the inbound legacy ‘skate’ side is peculiarly ill-traveled.

Do Sideshow Bob’s words ring true in skatedom 20 years later, with skaters secretly lusting for a corporate overlord that will tell them when to show up, where to stand and what to do in contractually legal languages? Are pros’ indulgence in vices such as gnarly substances and credit card debt, alternately celebrated and lamented, truly a cry for some grander form of paternal control? Are recent trends in looser trucks, higher speeds and fewer grabs (Homokis aside) reflect a subconscious yearning for stricter oversight under incorporated structures and shareholder-friendly governance practices? Have such forces directed Fred Gall back toward manual labors? How much rides on straighter-laced senior executives, perhaps the grandparents in this elongated and tortured metaphor, either not noticing or not caring about what goes on in the tour van?

Callin All the Girls, Do You Hear Me? All Around the World, City to City. Cheers to the Girls, More Juice to the Guys, Now I Got a Chicken and a Goose in the Ride

January 23, 2016

WampaDood

The alleged, unnamed and unknowable ice world lurking beyond the confines of the generally regarded universe this week became the latest cosmic force to challenge skating’s long-held but fading belief in the Spicolian maxim that, tasty ledges/gaps/bowls and a cool buzz in hand, all will be fine. This supposed “massive perturber” of some description seemed to taunt skateboarders globally in a general and taunting way. ‘See me, my powerful magnetic fields and my girth,’ it seemed to intone from beyond this solar system. ‘I spread my galactic influence among dwarf planets and, literally, chill.’ And yet on earth, vigils are held online and amongst the square-block granite pocket of Love Park, which the powers that be have determined must be gathered up and remade in a fashion devoid of crack rocks, fistfights, switch heelflips and backside noseblunts.

Philadelphia’s scene is to be cut loose from its best-beloved anchor, one it has exhumed before, at a time when that exalted god technology has enabled companies of varying stripe to cleave themselves from any particular municipality or even geography in a sort of freewheeling rootlessness. Companies design boards from Sweden, Cals Nor and So, Ohio, London and elsewhere, order them pressed in China and Mexico, warehousing them here and there before shipping them to kickflipping endorsers on any number of coasts and wherever Jake Johnson may roam. The photo and video spoils are beamed onto Instagram for consumption via mobile phone between classes, at work or in the john, with decks and premiumly priced t-shirts or sockwear readily hawked to admirers from internet web stores.

Yet much like the sun-hugging planets that owe their atmospheric colorations and ore riches to the gravitational gravity of the one true sun, there is a human case to be made that skate empires’ staying power rests in large part upon some local and geographical cornerstone. Deluxe is synonymous with the Bay, Sk8Mafia with San Diego, even the Osiris parts. Palace is filming their video all in London. Dime and Quartersnacks have fashioned clout from their towns and gained the ability to develop proprietary shirts and sweaters. Pitfalls threaten those who may wander: Alien Workshop, emboldened after adopting Philadelphia and New York as its “Photosynthesis” touchstones, floundered in its effort to launch the borderless and meandering Seek. Blueprint and Cliche surrendered a certain cache when they traded their across-the-pond concentrations to sign up the same US pros courted by California companies, skating the same palm-shaded hubbas. Plan B’s widely known ‘Tru, B’ vid was rumored to have been filmed at exclusive marble plazas on eight continents which includes the secret one.

5Boro is named for New York and so is its new ‘5BNY’ video, which boasts the capacity to open with a black-and-white cityscape motif soundtracked to jazz music that doesn’t come off all contrived, and next by showing tricks from Sylvester Eduardo, a crusher in the ‘Welcome to Hell’ mold who can muscle through some burly 50-50s and wallies and also do floaty frontside pop shove-its and frontside 360s. (Sometimes in Raps, always nice to see on the East Coast.) He’s the first among the ‘5BNY’ lineup to crisscross streets choked with pedestrians, street vendors, autos, commentary-spewing passersby and the rest of the bros, up to and including Quim Cardona*. Karim Callender glides through some of the more lackadasical nosegrinds in a while and Rob Gonyon exhibits power camo and a notable noseblunt shove-it before the scene is cleared for Jordan Trahan, this era’s 360 flip king, tossing off little-seen noseslide 50-50 combinations and no-push lines with impeccable arms, a boss over-the-can carver and probably never enough 360 flips. There could be a whole part of the 360 flips.

Similarly debuting in this blogging site’s fiscal 2016, Isle’s long-awaited ‘Vase’ comes soaked in London brick and feels sort of like a prodigal son type of homecoming after Blueprint’s unfortunate last years and ill-advised dabbles in Americana, such as the still difficult to understand decision to open a video with ‘Birdhouse In Ur Soul.’ This streamlined and gallery-damaged lot rebuild via mixed media and the same type of dollar-store intro inventiveness that helped ‘Bag of Suck’ endure as well as the editing-bay hokum of ‘Fully Flared’, but it is Tom Knox, Chris Jones, Nick Jensen and Casper Brooker who thrust their hands into London’s cracked and smoke-stained guts — Tom Knox’s vision seems not to stop at tricks that could be done at spots but to see spots around corners, overhead or behind parked vehicles, most ridiculously on tricks like the loading dock drop-down to street-gap 360 flip, or the gables-scraping tailslides. Sixteen or so years removed from ‘WFTW’s pint-size gap switch kickflipper Nick Jensen still has vicious South Bank lines and a switch backside nosegrind worthy of Steve Durante while Casper Brooker has the video’s best frontside shove-it and a wild South Bank kickflip transfer. The best section is Chris Jones, with his avant garde switch heelflip and switch manual hops across the sidewalks, which peaks with the careening tunnel runs (the ride out on the backside kickflip).

If the Isle bros can successfully reclaim London via the vital and eminently rewatchable ‘Vase,’ is it similarly possible to cultivate new roots for one’s ‘personal brand’? Surely Jereme Rogers’ years in the wilderness and before had already taken him through Las Vegas, but his recent King of the Strip video part positioned Jereme Rogers’ current formulation of hedonism, fashion mishaps and face-tatted self-aggrandizement** as a persona ready-made for Las Vegas’ rentable, plasticine and transient sin. Whereas Lennie Kirk fused spirituality with a certain on- and off-board brutality, Jereme Rogers proffers an elixir of wealth-seeking Christianity and shameless excess that seems suited to Las Vegas’ neon-heated Gamblor lairs, all-u-can-consume buffets and drive-thru wedding chapels.

Could Las Vegas provide a blinging launchpad for Jereme Rogers’ long-awaited skateboard comeback? Could an as-yet unknown icy giant hold a gap or obstacle that Jordan Trahan could not 360 flip or would its slackened gravitational pull enable even greater 360 flip feats? Why must Pluto keep getting dissed? Has any skate concern successfully transplanted itself? How come it’s been so long since somebody used Big Pun?

*Who has come to occupy an East Coast station that approximates the gonzo exuberance of Chad Muska, or maybe Smolik
**which his jail bid seems to have dulled right?

Hollywood Divorce

March 28, 2013

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It has been observed that the skateboarding industry is like high school, replete with jocks, nerds, overachievers, fashion victims, would-be authority figures, substance enthusiasts and vengeful, scheming captains of the water polo team who drive tricked-out jeeps and are partial to ripped jeans. Sticking with the analogy, last week we saw a long-running couple, recently broken up, each show up to the prom with new dates. Here was Blueprint, determined to pick up the shards of its spray-heart logo and shake off an ignominious dumping last fall, escorted by a half-dozen unknowns from the Southwest, and Mike York, who I like to imagine wearing a seersucker suit and white corsage. And then the former Blueprint squad, trotting out a sleek new name and logo spotlighting their Old World roots, ready to move on.

Look at Blueprint, chin out in an ill-fitting getup, dudes with blond dreads and Canadian management, trying at some kind of statement setting its team makeover clip to “Coming to America” (presumably by way of Quebec). As the would-be masterminds behind Ice Cream Shoes will attest it’s not easy to pull a Kareem Campbell when it comes to plucking unknown ams from the skatepark ether, and the pressure may be giving their filmer a case of tremors. Yet the former Blueprinters, offering pedigreed graphics and a trimmer team, may have the harder path. The stakes may be lower without this company having carried the UK on its back through the late-90s universe expansion, but it still arrives from some of the dudes who made all those legendary videos, and with no Canadian owners in the wings it’s all on them this go-round.

Both companies have an obvious fixation on America, economic or otherwise, and it is not difficult to see opportunities for them to jointly tap into American’s long-running love affair with familial turmoil and fractured relationships. Could a grudge match demo-tour produce 411 “Road Trip”-worthy highlights as each squad looks to one-up the other? Is there a potential sequel to last season’s “One in a Million” pressure-cooker meltdown to be had by confining the two teams to a “Big Brother” style condo to chew one another’s limbs off over British skate lore and whoever drank the last beer?

The respective team pages are telling. Are seeds of internal strife already germinating within Isle? A solid two-thirds of the team lists some variation of “green” as their favorite color, while boss figure Paul Shier stakes out the other side of the color wheel with “orange” and Nick Jensen boldly declares “not green.” Can they stand against the newly united Blueprint group, which have no history but seem to be on the same page when it comes to cuisine, roundly backing Mexican and BBQ variations? And will Isle continue to stick with the British spelling of words like “colour”? For that matter, will Blueprint?

Up With Smoke

September 9, 2012

Can a shop video to succeed without doubling as a love letter to the city in which its backing store is based? The enduring ones, like by Coliseum, FTC, Orchard, Uprise, MIA and Fobia, have been as much a ‘where’s where’ of the meanest spots as they are a ‘who’s who’ of the dudeliest dudes on the scene and while it’s gotta be a blast wallowing in all those marble ledges under the Spanish sun, you’d think most DVD purchasaurs really are not trying to see the local bros going Mr. Me Too at the spots the top-rung pros scraped clean five years prior.

For those of you who, like me, furrowed a brow at the outsized representation of AZ ditches and Boston loading docks in the last Blueprint video, Henry Edwards-Wood invites you to spend a solid hour submerged into the claustrophobic, bustling, brick-lined canyons of London, where streets drip with smoke stains, spray paint and wrought iron. Slam City Skates’ “City of Rats” has been out for a while but has rarely left the player this summer, as all these Palace, Blueprint, Landscape and other dudes shiver and sweat through what looks like one long, generally overcast season here, all the hovels and tight alleyways and weathered stone served up like red meat to “Static” faithfuls. South-Bank gets a loving soliloquy and two of the best-loved spots in this video include a sidewalk ledge set up for lines to close out with flatground tricks over a red rumble-strip and a thread-the-needle street gap into a corridor that’s probably far gnarlier than it already looks. It is jarring when, early in the video, you can see a Texaco sign.

Nick Jensen’s first run communicates the basic idea through a sidewalk bump to noseslide on a windowsill ledge, and isn’t long before he is back at that one sidewalk gap (switch 360 flip this time) and South Bank, where for weeks I have struggled to recall whether anyone else has kickflipped that high bar in the past. For a while it’s a parade of all the dudes you want to see skating these spots, like Joey Crack coming with the movie’s best nosegrind, a line from Snowy starting with an ollie snapped into a bank that celebrates all that is fantastic about that dude and the galaxy that we live in, Danny Brady pushing lines that confidently extend his career to the decade mark and Neil Smith steadily going hard, manualing into some big launch over a gate.

Palace’s Karim Bakhtaoui has garnered fame as a sort of London edition of Darren Harper but for my money I’m backing the light-footed Pluhowski styling of Jin Shimizu, looking relaxed in this sometimes oppressive environment. He’s flipping his board around and not too fussed, the chain ollie to no-comply submitting a general lesson in quick work under pressure. Lucien Clarke and Steph Morgan combine for the best kind of shared part, one where you can always tell which dude is up, and Lucien Clarke looks to be spending some time to craft one of the best nollie inward heelflips on the market. Ender-ending Rory Milanes helps the Palace dudes more or less corner this vid, going around the horn with a backside smith grind, completing the circle on a nosebluntslide 180 back in, switch jumping a block and capturing a Chewy Cannon cameo that in general sees these dudes at the peak of their power right now.

Palace this week opened a temporary store that enables the company to directly tap Supremesque demand levels for their triangular optical illusion logo that already has sold not-so-gently-used softgoods for hundreds of pounds sterling in transactions, moderately rattling international currency segments. Celebrity-spiced embrace of the company as its thematic output has tilted closer to All City and further away from Silverstar has driven some internet backlash, and if the rule holds that the best retort to such critiques is to let tricks do the talking you wonder whether hefty proceeds from the pop-up boutique will finance some China trips to seal the deal on their own VHS sooner rather than later, but coming off the strength of this Slam production I’d sort of rather they stay home.

Let’s Stay Friends

February 8, 2010


Hold on to your genre

Once upon a time there was a band called Ween, two brothers in blurred vision and fractured humor who made cheaply recorded records full of bizarre and beautiful ditties dedicated to squelching weasels, juicy trees, Mexican restaurant menus and persons called “Jilm.” Born of hotboxed bedrooms in that fabled decade of the 1980s, the Ween bros for years beckoned listeners to follow as they stumbled sidelong into new nooks and crannies of their aural rabbit-hole, until at a certain point they decided to try their hand at actual songs – cleaning up the rattling fuzz, taking the delirious helium out of their voices and scaling back on the copious chemical consumption that fueled the fever dreams of their early days. Few begrudged the evolution and broader success followed, but that beloved loopy spark was diminished.

Try as I might to shrug it off I’m having a hard time not feeling similarly wistful re: Blueprint’s annexation of U.S. amateurs in recent years, most recently highlighted in this “Make Friends With Marty (Murawski)” clip teasing the hotly anticipated “Make Friends With the Colour Blue” vid. There’s nothing much wrong with the skating of Murawski or his Bostonian brother-in-boards Kevin Coakley, who preceded his entry to Blueprint’s ranks, though Coakley sometimes has left me nonplussed and Murawski’s manual madness in this most recent clip didn’t particularly move me, with a few exceptions including the manual to f/s 180 to switch manual to revert.

Aesthetically these two guys are fine and all but you kinda wonder to what purpose they’re seeking out these US dudes, overlooked by domestic operators either fairly or not; I suppose you can’t blame Blueprint, particularly in these tenuous economic times, for trying to be more than “just” a British concern. They’ve earned a seat among the top-tier outfits of the world by virtue of output, progression, very nice graphic design and general staying power over the years, etc. But I recall putting on “Waiting for the World” and cocking an appreciative eyebrow at the meticulously constructed intro, like a TV-shaped portal into an empire of overcast skies, decrepit ledges and red phone booths where the “unique vision” of the thing, in the earnest parlance of a Tim Gunn, more than made up for tricks that weren’t necessarily 411-opener flashpoints. The rather ripping Brady/Jensen footage in the “Make Friends” clip is a good/current example, and fuck, their approach got these dudes into the biggest vid of the past five years, so they’re doing something right.

This is all sounding kind of “you know, when I was a kid…” and whatnot, which is true, but Blueprint’s got some global heft to its name and the hope is it’s put to good use, as opposed to loading up the new BP holo-vid in ten year’s time and seeing a load of the same Arizona ditches and San Diego handrails that recently appeared in the 20th-anniversary SK8Mafia video for instance. Keeping it gutter, and so on. Probably I’ll be proven wrong on multiple fronts when “MFWTCB” arrives, and I’ll buy it regardless, but in the meantime I’ll continue to wonder why you’d fish overseas when there are bass like this to be boated in your own backyard.

Addendum: Do you think Brady frontside flips into that thing for the video? Holy fuck.