Arriving three quarters of the way through “Pretty Sweet,” Marc Johnson’s clean and fast opening lines sail through like a cleansing breeze after about an hour of heavy-handed editing and over-caffeinated cuts between three or four angles of the same trick. This part for me right now is far more enjoyable to put on than his “Fully Flared” opus, partly because it is a third of the runtime, and partly because Marc Johnson seems like he’s having more fun, though it sounds like some encroaching-deadline madness inevitably crept in. This dude has been steadily recording great video parts for almost 20 years and you respect his efforts to think up something new to bring each time out, but Marc Johnson is as watchable backside flipping benches and switch frontside flipping into banks as he is nollie backside heelflipping out of a frontside noseslide down a rail, or rolling away from that manual b/s 180 fakie manual, perhaps the best-conceived and for sure best-executed wheelie trick of the year. This dude can make a troublesome trick like the backside noseblunt backside 360 look fluid, the brick QP casper turned a lot of those endless flip- out iterations on their ear, and that fakie 5-0 on the guard-rail cruised like an expensive hovercraft.
Posts Tagged ‘Pretty Sweet’
Eric Koston, Exploring The Potential For Hammers In Personal Wardrobing, May Suddenly Have Del Boca Vista On SmashDecember 11, 2012
At Boil the ocean custom sceptre repair and old-tyme blogginghaus we make few pretenses to the effect that our ultimate loyalties lie elsewise than with the 1990s torch-bearing set, and it is against these currents that we swim when trying to weigh the personal bearing and heaviness of the newer faces on Girl/Chocolate, as juxtaposed in particular across “Pretty Sweet.” The task grows no easier when you have Eric Koston, a five-star general in the game who wears a jersey that says Champion and eats a bowl of Wheaties every morning, pushing around dressed like he’s got his mind set on the shuffleboard court and the early-bird special.
Initially “Pretty Sweet” finds him dressed for the PGA tour, schralping a California ditch in a soberly striped shirt and well-appointed swoosh hat, but before long he’s going for that high-risk 360 flip to switch manual off the drop where he can be seen breaking out the neon crayola crayon tees and, importantly, the camo. You may not guess it coming from a dude of his stature, but I am beginning to suspect that Eric Koston does not have a firm grasp on the efficient use of camo. Case in point being the run down the brick banks where Koston, possibly in a fit of wild abandon, chooses to combine a striped soccer jersey with some camouflage army fatigues, breaking several international accords against pairing stripes with camos. Later he indulges in some cut-off blue jean shorts while going all Jake Johnson down an APAC staircase.
More recently, Koston has been noticed swanning about certain European properties in a floral print hat, basketball jerseys and faux leopard skin, like some headphone-endorsing, crash helmet-wearing Tony Manfre.
While curiously diverse the point is not to catalogue the various and sundry fashion combinations that Eric Koston chooses to pursue, bizarre though some may be, but rather to speculate irresponsibly as to what these may reveal about his current mental state. One can imagine Koston, more than two decades into the video deadline grind and flush at last with Nike fuck-you money, grumpily rejecting any claims on tightly choreographed shirt/pant ensembles and thrusting his fingers deeper and deeper into whatever bottomless and mouldering duffel bag he has in tow on the current filming tour, cobbling together increasingly outlandish getups and upbraiding any youngster that hazards a question or sideways glance. You can begin to picture him treating a particularly day-glo hue of pants, better left undiscovered in some discount bin long since abandoned by a merciful god, as a personal challenge not to be left unaccepted and preferably matched with a pair of banana yellow sneakers, a cantankerous sneer perched on his lip and maybe a bingo card stuffed into his back pocket.
Will Eric Koston’s embrace of ultra-technical, two-sided curb tricks reach a peak concurrent to his recent exploration of colorful and multi-disciplined outfits, potentially involving a sombrero? Has Koston finally gone “too far”? Is this all a natural (though somewhat delayed) reaction to the white tee/blue jean uniform of 1995?
Awash in “Pretty Sweet” rewatches here, stopping to wonder at Raven Tershy’s backside tailslide shove-it, the apparent re-embrace of Lego-man caps and the number of slams to tricks in this part putting it near Gino/”Hot Chocolate” levels. Also mulling whether or not the last two tricks landed in the proper sequence — ollie in is far gnarlier to me, what about to you all?
Thrasher Magazine’s Michael Burnett, who is one of the best writers in the space over the last decade, a couple years back wrote a simultaneously biting and loving intro to a Billy Marks interview in which he positioned the dude’s spendthrift and oftentimes fleeting love affair with “gadgets” and his generally relaxed attitude toward personal responsibility as fundamentally American personality traits, and some type of moustachioed, roast beef-grabbing mirror into which we all could gaze as the nation was tossed upon the horns of a fearsome economic decline.
There is a similar sensibility careening through Girl/Chocolate’s “Pretty Sweet,” or maybe more like a jittery animal instinct, allegedly governing a cultural attention span fragmented across mobile phones, social networks, flatscreen TVs and 3D IMAX movie theaters — beginning with an extended-take intro that dissolves into day-glo pyrotechnics and thumping electronic music with robot vocals, rarely lingering on one shot for more than a few seconds and deploying fireworks, special effects, time-lapse video and of course the super slow-mo. Ty Evans is eager to fish out all his tools as soon as the first part gets underway, chopping Vincent Alvarez’s more-Chocolatey-than-others tricks into a multi-course dog’s dinner determined to move as quickly between tricks and filler shots as fast as Alvarez pushes, with an aural nod to a previous Chocolate production before upshifting again to a third act, which naturally is soundtracked a custom-made song performed by a pro skater and a member of Metallica. Vincent Alvarez spins a 540 out of a curb cut and you blink and are dazed and wonder what has been happening.
And so it goes, as Hollywood celebrities again supply off-color commentary on session sidelines, dudes carve nearly up to the rooftops of buildings and Ty Evans reaches deep inside his bag of digital hocus pocus for other occasional curveballs. Many of these are not new ideas, as the invisible ramps and obstacles from “Yeah Right” make a reappearance, along with the souped-up slams from “Fully Flared” and some synchronized skating and crowd control that provided whimsy in “Hot Chocolate.” The slow-mo super cam is deployed heavily throughout, though in shorter bursts that add Hype Williams alongside Michael Bay and George Lucas as apparent inspirational touchstones for the directors here. There are some fun surreal moments, like the liquifying ledge and the suddenly multiplying boards, that signal some hope for a collaboration if Spike Jonez really were to exercise his “Malkovich” muscle.
The editing and production that are loudly at the center of “Pretty Sweet” takes their cue partly from the skating, which is as diverse a roster as Girl and Chocolate have ever recruited. Bowls, ledges, handrails, gaps, waterslides, ditches and the beloved mini picnic tables all are schralped upon by dudes whose ages must now span about two decades, including both dudes who have beards and other dudes who don’t. The Anti-Hero fandom from those summertime tours is in play, mostly by certain of the “Trunk Boyz” contingent, while a lot of the aging stalwarts tally new and lower-impact ways to spin and shove-it and flip out of tricks.
Some cosmic pendulum is aswing here. “Goldfish” arrived as the early 1990s’ obsession with slow-moving pressure flippery and brightly colored giant pants gave way to smoother and simpler tricks carried out from inside loose-fit blue jeans, and somebody out there would probably argue the case for Guy Mariano’s “Mouse” section setting some high-water mark for difficult tricks made to look easy with a minimum of fuss. There’s no goofy boy outfits strapped on in “Pretty Sweet” but a smith grind laser flip comes off like sprinting in the opposite direction, skating-wise. The younguns too embrace the spirit of excess, as they toast foamy beers and are tracked by camera-toting helicopters and dolly rigs that advance the filmer slowly through a grove of trees to capture a lipslide in the wild. Cory Kennedy, whose mid-backside tailslide kickflip attains the rare status of super-technical tricks that look as good on film as they did in a sequence, casually precedes one handrail NBD with a four-trick run. Such is the embarrassment of riches in Torrance that Eric Koston (Eric Koston) is relegated to a cameo in someone else’s section.
There is a sunny and light-hearted something bouncing through “Pretty Sweet” that, combined with the production values and skits reminded me sometimes more of a mid-period Bones Brigade movie rather than any of the Girl/Choco catalog in particular. This one doesn’t feel so much like it’s got the chip on its shoulder that “Fully Flared” did — Guy Mariano’s comeback is sealed, Marc Johnson seems to have exorcised some of the demons that drove him to record a 15-minute part and abruptly retreat to a mountain compound, Eric Koston no longer carries the weight of the team on his back by way of benchmark tricks, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard seem content in a shift toward full-time mogul status. Chico Brenes shows up and does his nollie heelflips and Jeron Wilson is not sweating it. Also it seems weird to think of someone like Brandon Biebel as a veteran pro, but at this point he definitely is one.
Like with “Stay Gold” some loose talk has gone around to the effect that “Pretty Sweet” will be “the last big video” which, well, you can just imagine how that must hurt the feelings of the poor DGK team members who are getting ready to release their first full-length in about two weeks’ time. You do wonder though what the next Girl video may look like, as there will for sure have to be one unless Ty Evans is conscripted to tote camera machinery through some Eastern European forest in service of the next crop of Disney-owned “Star Wars” movies. Can a lineup underpinned by Mike Mo, Cory Kennedy, Alex Olson and Sean Malto in four or five years’ time command the same gravitas and hoopla as something like “Pretty Sweet” or “Fully Flared” without the decades-deep vets on board? With the VHS-fetishizing movement alive and well, will Crailtap be forced to double down on high-definition recording devices and co-located editing engines? Could there one day be an entire section of after-black editing hammers?
The billions of bloated and rotting carcasses of lungless, would-be amphibians gently fertilizing the beaches of history attest that evolution can be a messy, strenuous enterprise. Witness, in more modern times, the still-ongoing struggles for democracy around the world or also the pre-Oscar trevails of Three Six Mafia.
Like a semi-legged fish cast upon a tidal shore and seeking its footing with the help of expensive high def videography equipment, so too do a couple deck companies now entertain their potential futures removed from the warm and brinesome pools of their hatching, shedding founding-father pros and piling chips upon next-gen hot shoers that may or may not have the conjones to earn the throne and scepter and potential amphibious harem that belong rightfully to the king of the beach. Girl last week unveiled this decade’s full-length video presentation, in conjunction with Chocolate, while Blueprint has bid goodbye to more top talent dating back to the UK outfit’s establishment.
The diminished profitability of board manufacturers has been somewhat offset by the way they carry greater clout in defining what pro bros are about and providing a platform for various creative visions, to the extent these still exist in an era of limitless full-bleed series graphics and customized multi-logo baseball hats. The prior decade’s mercifully brief flirtation with pattern-graphic footwear was not enough to knock boards out of the box in this respect, despite the best efforts of several shoe teams sponsoring motocross bikers.
But even the best and brightest contributors to the ‘culture,’ of which Girl and Blueprint both long ago cemented their status, need active and relevant ambassadors out there preaching and switch backside smith grinding ledges or else you run the risk of losing touch with a permanently youthful and tempermental clientele, or running low on able-bodied independent contractors willing to slide down handrails, or both. Sad as it is, those schoolyard lords of the mid-1990s have been steadily confronting their shelf lives on video and in the streets and same as then not every dude is a Mariano or Koston.
It seems like you need one or more ‘Vision dudes’ (no Brad Dorfman) with a steady hand on the rudder to navigate such generational shoals, and I think here of bros such as John Lucero, Ed Templeton, Todd Swank, Jim Thiebaud, Mike Hill/Chris Carter and even the corporate paymasters who press boards at Element — all having weathered for the most part a total exodus of the names that launched the companies (in some cases several near-total personnel rollovers) and were able to keep drawing new and vigorous blood. Stereo, Plan B, Menace and several Gonz-helmed ventures petered out or folded once the main brains departed or shifted focus.
Similar to “Yeah Right” the new “Pretty Sweet” is being described as a torch-passing moment for the Crailtap crew, probably more true this time around given spotlights generally dimming on the OGs since “Fully Flared” (though multiple Jeron Wilson photos in a single recent mag did not go unnoticed around here). The prospect of Girl Films or Chocolate Cinemas sans Carroll, Howard, Brenes etc seems more and more realistic but ups the ante as far as the capabilities and sensibilities of those anointed ones who would pick up the gauntlet, given the long shadows cast by the dudes that made all those old videos, ads, boards. That track record being the critical mass magnet to Hoover up the needed new talent, but does ‘UnbeLeafAble’ hit the same way Sean Sheffey and the fishbowl did back when?
The outlook for Blueprint seems more up in the air in recent months as honchos Dan Magee, who masterminded the look and video output, and now Paul Shier have turned in their respective papers, leaving assorted rumors as to an unspecified new UK-centric venture, whether some recently picked US dudes will get a bump up and if Palace will sign Danny Brady. Blueprint’s efforts to broaden their platform and pitch a bigger tent made some sense but the steps they took toward that end, like moving the company to California and putting on several Americans and inexplicably relying on “Birdhouse In Your Soul” to kick off a video threw me for several loops, while old- and young-timers like Mark Baines and Chewy Cannon and Jerome Campbell bounced. How Blueprint persists/perpetuates/prevails from this point appears down in part to what roles the other UK vets take, like Nick Jensen, Neil Smith and Colin Kennedy.
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?
Not a lot to say here, other than that this was one of those photos where you’re flipping through the magazine (TSM, Jaws cover) and you stop and say “damn.”* Marc Johnson has nearly a Mumford eagle-is-landing thing going on with his arms here and I like his hat. White tee, blue jeans and a kickflip backside tail, these components could have equated to a photo 20 years ago.
*Another one from the same issue is Jon Dickson’s nollie backside flip
Technology Rolls Steadily Forward, And As We Contemplate The Coming Girl/Choco Video, We Contemplate Also The Idea Of Being Steamrolled Or Jumping Into The Steamroller’s Cab Alongside Ty EvansJuly 9, 2012
The 1990 “Brady Bunch” reunion/reboot is recalled as a triumph of broadcast television, surpassing lofty expectations set by the artistry of the original series and hauling in ratings that shamed and embarrasses the Superbowls and Little League World Series of that day. The fog of time and extremely singular nature of the event have obscured though the massive risks taken by the artisans and business hounds who plotted it all, with plenty of chewed fingernails and nervously cracked knuckles early on as decades-deep devotees feared and fretted whether that long-ago magic could be rekindled or whether the whole endeavor would amount to so much bodily fluid sprinkled atop a beloved legacy, never again to be un-sprinkled.
Did the Crailtappers pluck Ty Evans from the TWS camp with the knowledge that he would over the next decade bear on his shoulders the burden and associated emotional message-board baggage of carrying forward a video franchise regarded as helping to set the high bar for the 1990s’ great video rethink? Only Rick Howard’s personal psychic knows for sure, but pluck they did, extending into the 00’s a second rethink driven not by any particular evolution in craft, such as the embrace of the streets as an ipecac-like reset button following the excess of the neon-and-spandex drenched vert era, but instead by the gradual availability of cheaper/better technology and software that within a few years erased much of the distance between Jamie “Mouse” Mosberg and any hometown heroes dredging their local skatepark hip for Youtube-ready NBDs that can involve front-foot impossibles.
Ty Evans’ output suggests a subscription to the school of thought that says “what got you there will keep you there,” in this case referring to a deep, loving embrace of the newest camera models, rigged filming gizmos, lots of effects and filler shots and emotive techno music. Transworld’s Evans-helmed productions had all these in spades of course plus some other tricks including the sometimes-attempted but never well-advised fast-forward/rewind motion in Danny Gonzalez’s “Reason” part, as well as the voiceovers, an interesting innovation that somehow wore out its welcome after 10 years. Going with Ty Evans was an intriguing look for Girl/Choco at the time, given that vids like “Mouse” never had much in the way of slow-mo (perhaps because they’d seen the lackluster results elsewhere at the time) but also cuz somebody reading between the lines could take the old pogo-stick skit in “Goldfish” as an indictment of the high-pressure, high-production regime that dudes in “Fully Flared” wearily recounted after it came out five years back.
Around 2000 though you could say Girl was shopping for a new identity, putting on the gap and rail-minded youngsters who would constitute the torch picker-uppers of “Yeah Right” and “Fully Flared.” It’s tough though, for someone who saw the influence wielded by Carroll/Koston/Howard/Mariano/et al in the 1990s to have felt the same impact from the next-genners with the possible exception of Paul Rodriguez or Rick McCrank, and efforts to extend the super-team rep into the tech-gnar era brought on a mixed spread of amateurs through the Torrance offices that included Jereme Rogers.
For a company whose founding principles included not taking themselves or their skating too serious the post-Modus presentation sounded a little off-key too–the Jonze/Howard sensibility was still there in some of the skits, but especially come “Fully Flared” that stuff took a back seat to high-definition cameras, elaborate filming contraptions and slow-motion explosions. Myself I never had any real gripe with the recorded skating material, but the sanctimonious way it got put together — behold, I give unto you this trick, slowed down and then sped up and then slowed down again; below these bros, with a follow-up high-five and/or running and throwing down the board as a segue to the next clip — seemed miles away from powersliding down the yellow lane-divider lines. Here we will submit that it was no coincidence that the technology-embracing, filler-friendly and emotion-emphasizing directorship of Ty Evans dovetailed with a high-water mark in technical ledge skating that’s inspired some of the current wave of “power” skating by way of backlash, and the Crailtap camp are fans like the rest of us, investing in tall-sock wearers Raven Tershy, Elijah Berle, Alex Olson and Vincent Alvarez over the last couple years.
How then does this dynamic, call it Pappalardo-Flared vs Mariano-Flared, inform the cobbling-together of the coming Girl/Choco feature “Pretty Sweet”? The recently released preview suggests the answer is, not much, or maybe not much different than before. We are previewed some HD video, solid bro-ing footage*, some real painfully slow mo, some emotive techno music** and, if past performance is any future indicator, a release date that is prone to being pushed back. Interestingly, though, if Ty Evans continues to stick to what got him here the likely complainers such as myself will face an interesting conundrum similar to those who wish for “The Simpsons” to be cancelled in defense of the first nine seasons’ legacy — the era of Ty Evans-led Crailtap video productions at this point would at least in terms of years far outstrip what old-timers regard as the classic age, steadily shrinking in the rear-view mirror..
*Major fan of the doubles action, btw
**Bear in mind that while we grouse about emotive techno music, and with good reason, blanket criticisms of Crailtap video productions fronted by Ty Evans were rendered null and void forevermore after “Fully Flared” included a song from the Mannie Fresh solo CD.