Posts Tagged ‘Paul Rodriguez’

Bring Hither the Fatted Calf and Kill It

February 13, 2016

how_now_apocalypse_now_cow

As the blind oracles foretold, Lennie Kirk is proving to be the guiding touchstone for skateboarding in 2016, with his devotion to hammer-handy fish multiplier Jesus Christ’s ’33 resuscitation and Lennie Kirk’s own unlikely rise from beneath that Pac-Bell van foreshadowing the timely return of top-shelf talents to the turbulent and beery pool that is skating in 2016.

Paul Rodriguez, he of the multi-sponsor fitted and long-distance switch 360 flips, already rolled away the stone and commanded the grave-cloths removed from the pro career of French double-flip enthusiast Bastien Salabanzi. With the Christian season of Lent upon us, Paul Rodriguez would play at the Lazarus legend again, this time bringing out onetime fellow City Star Devine Calloway for what by some poorly considered blog webpages’ count would be his third go-round with the skate biz, after his initial City Star twinkle, his Chocolate grown-up resurfacing some years later and post-‘Pretty Sweet’ bonus footage low profile. Nothing’s changed, it would seem, and besides his apparently mostly successful kicking of a costly New Era habit, he could’ve popped out the fakie flip 5-0 and that Crisco-smooth bigspin immediately following his still-impressive TWS part nearly a decade back.

Days later on the other coast, long-lost Tompkins wunderkind Yaje Popson officially moved his 64-Crayola wardrobe into Alien Workshop’s radiation-proof geodesic dome, itself recently restored to life via Rob Dyrdek’s Street League and television show dollarydoos. Despite what sounded like dual knee injuries, a somewhat dispiriting parting of ways with the Crailtap camp amid the heightened and heated ‘Pretty Sweet’ filming campaign, and the bucolic pleasures of small-city life in Brazil, Yaje Popson’s tricks remain super on point (switch backside smith grind, that pyramid ledge trick) and as suited as any to the worthwhile project that is refurbishing the Sovereign Sect, though maybe a little bit less surprising than Devine Calloway’s rebound given last year’s Sk8Rats turn and how he plainly spoke of missing it all. A TWS interview promises heavier hitting yet to come.

The limited economic prospects, increasingly crowded competition for unique eyeballs and impressions, and ever-present risk cocktail of age and injury raises questions around the logic of gone-once pros and bros returning for further bites of the industry cherry. Yet return they do, from Tom Penny’s bleary trip back in ‘Sorry’ to Guy Mariano’s wristguarded tech triumph in ‘Fully Flared’, the Muska’s single-gloved victory lap with Element, Christian Hosoi’s post-prison bid adventures, Supreme’s Paulo Diaz exhumation, and the extended post-Shorty’s go-rounds enabled by Sk8Mafia. More curiouser may be how such prodigal sons typically not just are welcomed but cheered back — witness last year’s outpouring of support after Kevin Spanky Long’s return journey to Baker put him again astride a pro board and back in the proverbial van.

Is the skate sphere unique in its tolerance for such wilderness years, spent consuming substances, recovering from blown-out joints, pursuing alternate careers or raising families? In the parlance of major-league team sports, comebacks usually are intra-game affairs, with some allowance for those rare talents drawing sufficient investment to bide a season or more in physical therapy, but clawing one’s way back into the professional universe after years away seems a rarer feat still, whether fueled by Kenny Powers-level moxie or some other chemical reaction. But even with a decade or more off magazine pages, digital video discs and relevant social media mobile networks, it’s difficult to imagine an increasingly fragmented and nostalgia-shaped boarding industry turning its collective nose up if long-faded lords like Sean Sheffey, Alex Gall, Scott Kane, Mike Maldonado, Billy Valdes, Pat Channita, Tim O’Connor, Jon West, Ted de Gros, or Gideon Choi turned up with a video part approaching their respective primes and the gumption to keep at it.

Does skating’s willingness and seeming zeal to re-embrace its wandering prodigals flow from the same spiritual mountain spring that nurtures tendencies to stockpile decks skated beyond any reasonable use, pack grocery-store boxes full of even lean-year Transworlds, and scour Ebay auctions to expensively recapture some spark first kindled in a long-lost CCS catalogue? As skating is lassoed, saddled, broken and eventually led head-down and besequined into that great Olympic rodeo, replete with floodlights and sad clowns, will lapsed pros resurface more often or must all spare dollarydoos shower down upon the podium-bound few? Has the YouTube age made it harder or easier for pros to recatapult dormant careers? Is Brian Wenning at Love Park right now? Yall saw Jeremy Klein’s kickflip bench stall in the Greco movie right?

Ty Evans Enlists Middle Eastern Royalty, Robot Helicopters for Movie About Skateboarders Being In a Gang Called the Bloods

August 19, 2015

dronies

Drones are in the news again, as fire chief gripe about miniature robotic helicopteros obstructing blaze battle plans, radio frequency weaponizers develop defense systems and the kite-eating tree occasionally graduates to more expensive and, one is forced to assume, tastier and electronified fare. While persnickety oldsters would pass laws and hang out ‘No Droning’ signs, the young and vibrant drone subculture simply wants to drone in peace, twirling their little propellers in disused parking lots and parks. Sound familiar?

Ty Evans, captain of TWS and Girl videos that were, finds himself astride the bucking international drone hoopla as he promotes his newest Film, ‘We Are Blood,’ a citrus soda-financed, high-tech frolic through megacities and undercharted backwaters aimed at pushing the production-value envelope and explaining what makes skaters tick. After a decade in the Crail camp, Ty Evans is unshackled from the rote part-part-part skate video format, trading in Girl’s unexpectedly long-lived ‘SHT SOUND’ for a Dolby hi-fi replacement and free to indulge in as many bro-hugs, high-fives and wildly undulating overhead-hoisted boards as his cameras’ memory chips can manage.

Cribbing the template from Brain Farm’s big snowboard movies such as ‘Art of Flight,’ Ty Evans points his lenses and drones and microphones at Paul Rodriguez, whose impeccable technicality, worldly vet status and passable script-reading capability provide a cipher for framing this road trip exploration of a bond between skaters worldwide. Paul Rodriguez sets it off appropriately enough in Los Angeles’ hallowed schoolyards, jumping to Dane Vaughn at J-Kwon and some euphoric and very welcome ditch-bombing by Omar Salazar before Ty Evans pulls back the lens to fit the rest of the US and well-traveled overseas jurisdictions like Spain, China and Brazil.

Paul Rodriguez dispenses with his own brand of razory execution — the k-grind front foot flip out is taken up a notch — before turning over a good portion of the RV miles to lesser-knowns like Jordan Maxham and infrequently-heralded journeymen like Moose, who rips most of the spots he’s recreationally vehicled to. Tiagos Lemos easily comes over as Ty Evans’ breakout star though, manufacturing at least one incredible clip per location-specific segment and his own mini-part when ‘Blood’ winds its way into Brazil’s particular deep-city grime. His ratio of monologue to tricks like the b/s 180 switch f/s crooked grind fakie flip out, switch b/s tailslide switch flip out, of the switch bigspin b/s tailslide is favorable.

Elsewhere Jamie Thomas boards Ty Evans’ RV to address some Deep South spots that include his old high school, inviting the viewer to marvel at his enduring grit and award style points for the right hand on the kink 50-50. At some juncture Brandon Biebel does a nollie b/s heelflip over a table that could repeat for 10 minutes, or perhaps through the end of the Film, with ultimate justification.

‘Blood’ reverts Ty Evans in some ways to Transworld mode, enabling him to pick and choose seasoned pros and comer-uppers motivated enough to revel in motorhome squalor for seven weeks, book extended stays overseas and spend lengthy stints at the spot biding time until the half-fozen camera rigs are properly aligned. It’s a testament to Ty Evans’ famed work ethic and the spry joints of his subjects that they cultivated a 90-minute Film from just over a year of Filming, versus spending years to construct an hourlong vid from a 30-deep roster of geographically diverse dudes that include a fair number of entrepreneurs.

(Probably Ty Evans and Girl should have broken up before ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Manning a Film that is his alone ups the stakes for Ty Evans the auteur personally but drags no weighty and beloved 20-year video legacy behind it, nor are there destination concerns for precious video-footage minutes turned in by aging favorites and the potential for substantial portions relegated to b-roll extras.)

Untethering himself from the skate vid format seems also to have resparked some of Ty Evans’ creativity that in the last few years seemed to have piled out, like in 2011’s leafy HD rehash of Rick Howard’s forest cruise in ‘Mouse.’ ‘Blood’ breaks from the schralping for an educational and droney cruise through a granite mine that sets up a slab’s brief journey from quarry to waxy ledge, there’s cool time-lapse footage of a wall scarred up by wallrides, a small-world-after-all moment in the unearthing of an ancient Spanish bowl, and frantic gamesmanship between the ‘Blood’ gang and an irate Chinese official wielding a garden hose. Staged puddle sprays aside, the RV segments bear honest whiffs of open-road adventuring and Paul Rodriguez’s ‘blank canvas’ remark about Dubai’s sumptuous plazas is on point, though Tim O’Connor’s quip on traversing the globe’s far corners to end up behind some K-Mart isn’t far off when Theotis Beasley, Sean Malto and others helicopter their way to a high-altitude landing pad where they session a basic bench.

‘Blood’s’ Cleveland-channeling theme of togetherness gets repetitive after 90 minutes, particularly when these annointed blood brothers are nailing ferocious tricks in pristine tropical spots with the blessing of local extreme power brokers, but some of ‘Blood’s’ best detours arise from dudes with only tenuous industry ties. Ty Evans of all people manages to put outer borough nomad Anthony Pappalardo in the most thoughtful and succinct context he’s had recently, same with DC’s Darren Harper. The Film’s message gets over in a surprise Skatopia visit and a well-spoken stop by a small-town DIY.

Whereas ‘Blood’ trades on the concept of a bond between skateboarders, the Film also raises the question of its elasticity. Many* believe in evangelizing skateboarding — Ty Evans in the ‘Blood’ Transworld issue says that “I’ve always been under the idea that I would love to share skateboarding with the world, and especially those that don’t skate. If a kid that doesn’t skate happens to see one of the films I’ve made, and that gets him hooked on skating, then I think that it’s working.”

Are the spirits of the kid kickflipping in front of his stoop in Oakland and the kid who swings through the YMCA park after swim team in the suburbs as closely kindred as those few dozen who may have traveled over an hour to glimpse underpaid pros skate a rickety hockey-rink demo in 1995? It is a question recently pondered by Ty Evans’ former Lakai coworker Kelly Bird, now a Nike employee:

“You can’t check a kid’s gear and automatically draw the conclusion that you’re the only two kids in school that know what Thrasher is anymore. You and the quarterback show up to school in the same outfit and neither one of you think it’s weird. He actually invites you to his party now instead of trying to flush your head down the toilet. You go to his party and have an awesome time. He lets you borrow his copy of Thrasher the next day, then Lil Wayne calls you to go skate.”

It makes little sense to attempt judging Ty Evans’ ‘We Are Blood’ on typical skate vid merits, but the effort to harness a heady concept, glossy production that stands at odds with the broader skate sphere’s persistent VX fetishization, and a lengthy runtime leaves the question as to who the Film is for. For those increasingly accustomed to digesting Guy Mariano’s latest facemelter in 14-second increments, an hour and a half seems a big ask. Volcom’s recent ‘True to This’ was partly perceived as looped fodder for retail outlets, though the number and capacity of whispered Mountain Dew speakeasies remains unclear.

Ty Evans previously has touted the high sales of ‘Fully Flared’ and ‘Pretty Sweet’ as signs of their resonance with Joe Kickflip; does ‘Blood’s’ loftier aim require a bigger yardstick? Will collapsing oil prices constrain Dubai’s ability to deploy economic incentives that could help the emirate compete against Spain and China for pro roadtrips and magazine articles detailing esoteric and wily local cuisines? Will this be the Ty Evans production that finally tops Richard Angelides’ Rhythm part in the slow-working minds of certain backward-thinking internet reactionaries?

*Particularly those whose livelihoods are tied to selling skateboard goods

Awake, Yall

January 8, 2012

Did yall see this one? P-Rod channels this blog website’s RSS feed into his preternaturally gifted feets and puts into action two of the recent mumblings, b/s tailsliding the Mission district’s 3-up-3-down and a pretty jaw-dropping commercial clip, smooshed together for the purpose of explaining Paul Rodriguez’ new alliance with Venture trucks. Whether this suggests Silver is on the block I have no idea, but all three tricks recorded for this clip are the type of top-drawer shit that makes Paul Rodriguez’s case for being one of the best skaters working, rather than just a dude who can do a lot of tricks. Could watch that SSBSTS over and over..

Extreme Athletes Represented By Sports Agents Continue To Be Entranced By Target Corp.

December 16, 2011

In many ways, skateboarding is about self-discovery and knocking down personal barriers to personal accomplishment. In other ways, especially to those of us whose flesh has begun to sag in unfortunate ways, it is about reclaiming lost youth. Other times it is really about sticking it to the Man and wearing flamboyant pants.

In the big-tent spirit that has enabled major retailer brands to access economies of scale and pass along righteous savings to you, several well known pros ask the question, why cannot it be all of these things, with a legit consumer experience delivered by trusted partners at Target Corp? Target is like the Real World cast member who wore ringer tees and a nose ring in comparison to Wal-Mart that fondly remembered some high school football wins and was old enough to frown on the younger stores’ binge drinking ways.

Shaun White is the latest extreme professional to back Target’s product range and appeal to some different demographics. Here is how he described a branded revelation that came upon him when he sought to equip his second house, as told to the New York Times Home N Garden section:

You go into Target and you realize that there’s that whole other half of the store. I had no idea! Man, it’s not just video games? Spatula set? Yes! I got crock pots, I had panini makers and all these things. I was losing my mind. It’s easy to get sucked in.

Just on a related note, Target today announced that “Target Introduces Huge Savings on Thousands of Items”

Last year, Paul Rodriguez Jr revealed his lifelong admiration for the Minneapolis-based retailer in remarks given exclusively in a press release that sealed his endorsement deal.

“I grew up right across the street from a Target and have many memories of skating over to the store as a kid,” Paul said in the official Target release. “I’ve always loved their brand and am excited about the relationship and potential of what we can do together.”

It seems like Target Corp attracts extreme sporting athletes like a powerful retailing magnet, but despite P-Rod’s switch bigspin heelflip capabilities Shaun White has way more bankable celebrity shine and thus was offered the opportunity to partner exclusively with Target to design lamps and bedspreads that ensure the Tiffany Dunk colorway continues to be variously soiled for years to come. According to the Sports Business Journal:

White is the most recognizable action sports athlete in the U.S. His Davie-Brown Index score (72.41) outranks fellow action stars Tony Hawk, Ryan Sheckler and Bam Margera. His awareness level, a 73.94, is comparable to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Remember, these are numbers that elevate you to bedding money, several lofty levels above signature sneaker paydays but on a different branch of the money tree than reality show loot. It is worth noting that Shaun White’s push into the bedding market puts him into direct competition with his former boss at Birdhouse, Tony Hawk, who already has laid claim to his own corner of the sector. Will a Steve Rocco/George Powell generational battle play out for the sheeting business? Is the market large enough to satisfy the competitive drive of two action sport stars? Will Pierre-Luc Gagnon be the next skater to endorse K-Mart? Is Fashion Bug the “heelies” of specialty retailing?

Posting No. 458, In Which We Muse Upon Paul Rodriguez’s New Sticker

October 6, 2011

Sidestepping the at-times tiresome topic retread and requisite rambling, I guess the question is whether in 4Q11 if the end justifies the means..

Just Sayin

November 22, 2009

For the record. Cole v. P-rod was pretty stellar, but as ever, the runner-up match with Cory Kennedy and Torey Pudwill took the cake…

Burden of Proof

May 23, 2009


You know, they could’ve called this video “The Storm II”

I have this one theory that little kids who come out of nowhere with legitimately amazing skateboard skills are more prone to suffer haterism because, to some observers, they cheapen what it is to have that level of control and power over their board — I’m thinking here of Danny Way, Willy Santos, Bastien Salabanzi, Paul Rodriguez, there’s probably lots of examples. There’s something about seeing a veteran like Eric Koston or Heath Kirchart backside noseblunt a handrail when nobody’s ever done it before, but when four months later some shortcakes am from a flyovoer state comes along and does it, some of the gravitas is sapped from the situation, for better or worse.

That’s not so much the issue with “Proof,” the heir apparent to the Paul Rodriguez-helmed “Forecast” video from a few years back that introduced the world to Ronson Lambert, Nick McLouth and Mike “Boss Stooge” Capaldi. Mostly it’s just kinda boring. Half-there editing concepts and some pretty abysmal music that continues the Ty Evans tradition of lifting from whatever was on Pitchfork’s BNM a year ago don’t help, but mostly it’s the skating, where a lot super-hard tricks come off all bland and forgettable, at least for me. I’m sure agent-to-the-energy drink stars, ex-snowboard pro and “Proof” executive producer Circe Wallace disagrees, but then again, I’m a windbag blogger with numerous brain problems.

Nate Principato gets set up for the Mike Mo spot and fittingly does a lot of the same sort of tricks, i.e. hardflips, switch heelflips, et cetera, sometimes looking like somebody stuck Chris Cole’s head on a Sk8Mafia body. He gives the new edition of the Med Choice gap a workout and has some good tricks, like a different-looking ‘forward flip’ and a switch frontside 360, but it was tough to get into this part. Same with the little kid one-two punch of Stevie Perez and Gatorade phenom Chaz Ortiz, taking his Dew Tour skills to the streets with predictable results, and a last trick that may have Gailea Momolu contemplating a summer contest circuit comeback.

Pivot-happy German S.K.A.T.E. threat Alex Mizurov pops up in the montage, perpetuating the European white-hat stereotype, alongside Theotis Beasely, Moose and the amazing Marquis Preston who I really wish would’ve had a part in this. Also magic-footed half-pint Mark Sucio, bizarrely tech and one of the few little kids I’d actually like to see more of in this or any video.

“Proof” picks up with Josh Grossguth, who loves manuals, sags his pants and has a kind of an unshowered weed-dealer style; this part made me want to do crooked grinds, which is something, and it leads into Keelan Dadd, who does great DGK tricks like frontside flip nosegrind reverts and great non-DGK tricks like 50-50in’ this rail to a big drop. Awesome parts also from Sammy Baptista and Darrell Stanton as well, which depressed me for reasons entirely separate from the skating–Baptisa rips with a Venture “Awake” shirt on and continues to make the case for his ultimate goofy-ness whereas Stanton rifles through nolle frontside noseslides and backside noseblunts that could’ve come out of “Free Your Mind.” No, mostly I got bummed thinking of how these dudes are the ‘old dudes’ in this video.

My own fast-approaching senility aside, right after Terell Robinson kickflip lipslides a big rail to an amazingly wimpy song that Jamie Thomas never would’ve approved, Torey Pudwill shares another MGMT-powered part with Justin Schulte and another dude. With all the techery and poofy haircuts it’s kind of hard to tell who’s who at certain times, but aside from a backside tailslide bigspin across that long kinked ledge, Pudwill brings most of the highlights: tall b/s tail on the winder ledge, high jump to backside smith grind, feeble kickflip out, then looking to knock MJ out the box with a closer trick that rivals some of Joey Brezinski’s longest-named moves. That ledge has to be caked with at least an inch of wax and urethane at this point.

Super Ugly

November 6, 2008


“Had to buy your chain back the last time you got robbed”

I confess to getting more excited than I probably should have by the graphic intro for the new Plan B “Superfuture” promo, not because I was anticipating some Simian Mobile Disco soundtrack and Fully Flared production values (though that might have been interesting, if not actually good), but because I thought there might be more than the usual VX2000/fisheye, two recycled songs (one from another Plan B video!) and another song that might as well be. But the DC braintrust behind Plan B’s initial demise and subsequent resurrection unfortunately don’t possess the vision of a Manzoori or a Hill, as you may have noticed from their choice of skaters to their graphics.

But Danny Way continues to confound persons like myself who’d just as soon write him off as a bodybuilding hound for X-Games medals and Guinness world records, doing shit like kickflipping into the goddam giant quarterpipe, 360 flipping the giant jump and 360-flip crooked grinding the giant coping. Colin McKay you could write off way easier and while he’s certainly milking it, I tend to give him a pass because it’s obvious he loves skateboarding to death, is constantly plagued with injuries and generally seems like a sweet dude. So you know. It’s all gravity.

Plan B’s Boston trinity is similarly conundrumous. The bearded car wreck-in-motion that is Jereme Rogers poses the question of whether those gifted with preternatural skateboarding skills are driven by the demands of the trade to shocker tattoos, preachy Christianity and please-stick-me-up jewelry, or if he’s just drawn that way. On the other end of the spectrum you have PJ Ladd, who seems content to dribble out atom-smashing displays of tech mastery (i.e. that Le Dome line with the bigspin kickflips) and lazy, casual displays of tech mastery (i.e. this shit).

And then there’s Ryan Gallant who can do bigspin backside noseblunts and doesn’t really make a big deal out of it.

Wenning and Duffy continue to stick out like sore thumbs, but pretty pleasant sore thumbs, like maybe if you slammed your hand in a safe en route to pulling a successful bank heist. And it’s nice to see Paul Rodriguez stretching his legs a little with the switch tailslide kickflip out to switch, and his last trick, which I’m sure is probably even harder than it looks. Maybe it’s all the moustache.

Aside from D-Way’s mega-heroics the other highlight of this video is Scott Decenzo’s big Plan B debut, and while he’s kind of hard to watch style-wise at times, you can almost see him getting better as the footage goes along and he’s got that youthful exuberance that drives one to do nollie flips close to walls, damned be the consequences. The young Canadian knows his way around ledge tricks but I’m guessing the unassuming rail moves that got him onboard – switch frontside hurricane (not even slow-mo’ed) and nollie backside 180 nosegrind are the sorts of tricks that make you wonder how some kids get pro boards for doing frontside 180s off kickers set up in front of big drops.