Posts Tagged ‘Scott Johnston’

Due To Skating To An Unreleased Steely Dan Demo And Other Services Rendered, Niels Bennett Hereby Is Named Your 2020 Skater Of The Year

September 6, 2020

Think about the totality of human history. Go ahead. It’s about 200,000 years. A long time, but not that long. Some highs (discovery of fire, the toboggan, automatic bill-pay), some lows (the extinction of the unicorn, alarming levels of space garbage), and in between numerous creamy middles. Yet perhaps the most shocking conclusion over this period is the relatively small number of people have set skate parts to Steely Dan songs.

‘Bro,’ a knowing bro may say. ‘Recall Mike Santarossa, later to be Prime’s most reliable nollie backside kickflipper, skating to “Do It Again” in a demo footage-heavy section for Powell’s “Scenic Drive” that also included the rarely spotted half cab to frontside smith grind 180 out.” This is a fair point, driven home with bloodcurdling abandon by the fact that the terminally smooth Tony Ferguson in ‘North 2’ later would reprise the same song. A deep-thinking bro may go on to highlight how ‘Dirty Work’ soundtracked the latter half of Dan Narloch’s boss level section in the late ’00s Midwestern seminality ‘Boondoggle,’ or that Studio snippeted ‘Boston Rag’ to open its 2012 ‘Mood Lighting’ project. It would have been really difficult for Logan Lara to avoid incorporating ‘Reelin In Tha Years’ into a ‘Boys Of Summer’ release at some point.

And yet all of these choices made by individuals over the last ~25 years fall short in their own ways, for instance by leaning heavily on the somewhat generic if well-executed ‘classic rock’ projections of the early Steely Dan catalogue, before they fully steeped their music in jazz arrangements, kicked off all those other dudes, and plowed through hundreds of millions of dollars in studio time for days-long pursuits of the perfect take. Here in human history, and indeed the planet’s own, Scott Johnston stands apart in Mad Circle’s Bay Area document ‘Let The Horns Blow,’ using ‘Peg’ in a choice that has reverbrated and frequently gyrated through time.

With untold eons yet to go, now comes Niels Bennett, onetime amateur for Girl, this week promoted into the professional ranks via the svelte and vaguely clown-themed ‘Nervous Circus.’ After introducing Australian ripsaw Rowan Davis, some frontside flip reminders from Tyler Pacheco, a couple Sean Malto clips that suggest he could be aging beyond 17 years old, and four straight minutes of Griffin Gass’ thundering, early-Andrew-Allen-meets-Primitive tech, Niels Bennett sails in with a satisfactory-sounding backside 5-0 and a string of high-fives to his forebears. There is a Rick flip, a frontside heelflip bigspin at Fort Miley, a fakie frontside flip the hard way over the Keenan Milton rail in LA, a fakie backside nosegrind 180 out at New York’s pyramid ledges that must for sure have been done before, but this good? The switch frontside bigspin is a post-millennium take on that one planter gap a bunch of those dudes used to skate and he has previously provided Chaffey materials.

Mark Suciu, who may be viewed as a spiritual predecessor to Niels Bennett, embedded similar themes into his ‘Cross Continental’ part in, wow, 2012. But in addition to a vicious and strategically placed fakie ollie and the incredible looking bluntslide to backside tailslide across the Flushing grate gap, Niels Bennett presses humankind forward via the incorporation of ‘Let George Do It,’ a deeply mined demo gemstone cast off by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen early in their 1970s vision quest. The song is in one swoop a sturdy vehicle for Niels Bennett’s loose limbed and cerebral tricks, a nod to his probably more fastidious Chocolate forebear, and a recognition that musical supervision decisions still exist that will stand up across human centuries, while remaining beyond the psionic clutches of Youtube’s copyright beholders.

Are unsleeping and relentless song-recognition algorithms to blame for the Siberian unicorn’s untimely extinction? When’s the last time you turned up the volume when ‘Is There A Ghost’ began bleating out of the speakers? Are switch frontside bluntslides for Griffin Gass similar to a 50-50 grind for everybody else? Does the dreamsicle color scheming of Niels Bennett’s debut OG model fill you with a childlike sense of longing for times past, or an inescapable woe over spilled popsicle sticks coagulating into sidewalk blobs, and guiltridden memories of slain unicorns?

Scott Johnston, The ‘Aja’ Pill and The Reality of Our Surroundings

July 6, 2018

Have you felt it? Only recently it was Madonna’s ex-boyfriend Dennis Rodman, the former WCW wrestler, providing a septum-pierced window into the mind of Kim Jong Un, heir to the legendary North Korean golf dynasty, ahead of talks toward a nuclear disarmament. Beyonce and her formerly drug-dealing spouse Jay-Z rented out the Louvre for a recent music video featuring Jay’s golden Indiana Jones medallion, while DJ Khaled plugs Weight Watchers. Onetime baseball tycoon Jose Canseco later begged former casino magnate and current U.S. President Donald Trump if he could please join the emerging U.S. space battle force, an interplanetary armed squadron geared toward asserting American values to space’s infinity — and beyond, if duty, honour and extraplanetary riches require. Ours truly is a bold age of discipline and strength, forged in courage and rare-earth minerals, impossible to dilute.

Could it all be a simulation? Scientists have begun to seriously contemplate the question, which if nothing else seems a natural for a non-retrograde Alien Workshop board graphic. The rigidity of mathematical and physics principals hints toward rules for some ‘Big Game’, but really it’s the seams that sometimes show. One worldwide famed instance involved the mass memory glitch that occurred when the ‘Berenstein Bears’ series was erroneously replaced with the misspelled ‘Berenstain Bears’ version in our current when, igniting fury and hair-tearing confusion among readers.

There’s plenty more. In ‘Deathwish Part Two,’ published to the Thrasher.dotcom video engine weeks ago, one of Beagle’s HD VX-replacers briefly captures a splash of skatepark graffiti that includes a spray-painted ‘Nike SB’, some mistaken cut-and-paste job from a reality in which the Greek goddess of victory’s namesake company is some scrappy bro brand hawking t-shirts off BigCartel. Elsewhere, Erik Ellington sells loafers with golden tassels. Andy Roy, freed from jail, a famous TV game show host.

Scott Johnston, in a recent Chrome Ball interview, alludes to an alternate timeline in which his indelible Mad Circle part was soundtracked not to the perky, radio-friendly unit shifter ‘Peg’ but to an entirely different Steely Dan song, widely assumed to be ‘Any Major Dude Will Tell You.’

Justin already had a Steely Dan song picked out but it was a different one. I ended up going through the CD and finding another one that I liked better, which was the one we used. I guess I just kinda took it and did it. (laughs)

Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ part, with its tightly controlled switch 360 flips, is known across this land’s towns and botanical gardens as a classic of the form to be copied to the best of anyone’s abilities, mammal and invertebrate alike. If one accepts/assumes this existence to be a simulation, one also must accept and, ultimately, celebrate the certitude of multiple versions of this same simulation playing out simultaneously, with slight variations, infinitely. It’s easy to envision dozens of editions of our current reality, multitudes of laptop and plasmoid TV and smartphone screens playing Scott Johnston’s ‘Horns’ section, each one soundtracked to a different Steely Dan track plucked with wild abandon as Scott Johnston sifts through a bottomless sack of Steely Dan CDs in Justin Girard’s apartment lo those many years ago, his hand casting and reaching further and deeper into a black night staring back with an eyeless, blank reflection on our artificial existence.

As the trumpets and infrastructure spending of another Olympic Season fade, can we find solace and hope in technology growing closer to reviving the body of the too-soon-gone Walter Becker, if not his Jose Cuervo-bathed soul? In a post-all era, is tagging the names, let alone logos, of multibillion-dollar sportswear conglomerates the height of subversivity? Does Khaled really swallow those Weight Watchers foods? If all this is just one of an infinite number of simulations playing out, are your odds of being in a good one versus a wack one roughly even, or would an advanced civilization prefer to study only ones where shit goes wrong, Love Park gets demolished, Prince ODs, Danny Way’s ‘Tru, B’ part never comes out, Max Geronzi switches over to skating exclusively novelty old-school setups, and Kyle Nicholson never gets a full shoe deal?

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Break It, The Flare Edition

February 2, 2017

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Term Limited

September 24, 2016

old_muppets

Aging may be the great skate industry adventure of the ’10s, as grizzled pros test the tolerance of weathered ligaments and brittling bones in an ongoing quest to avoid that unholy wyrm, the Real World, and its most loathsome prison, the Day Job. There are a few who two decades ago may have seemed obvious candidates if one were to choose a moon-shotter capable of stretching a pro career into a third decade, like Eric Koston or Daewon Song or Marc Johnson. There are are others whose misadventures with substances and the US legal system made them less obvious picks, such as Jeff Grosso and Fred Gall and Guy Mariano. Yet here we are.

Jason Dill, a veteran who never really warmed to half-measures when it came to things like video part construction, socks height or New York City nightlife, appears to have embraced old age as lustily as any slot-playing, shuffleboard-pushing thee-time divorcee. Witness his silver fox persona, his grayed and thinned hair, his floral shirts, the Britannicesque recollections of days gone past and concepts ripe for resurrection. As he raises a brood of young street urchins with life partner Anthony Van Engelen, Jason Dill also has honed an ability to emotionally wound that appears as needle-eager as any sourpuss granny. From his recent Playboy interview:

I’m now past my third year of FA. I’m proud of what we’ve done. If you are a company making stuff, you need to have it in the back of your head that, hey, I might have to kill this thing one day for the greater good so it doesn’t look like a bunch of bullshit. Imagine if Mark Gonzales got to end his skate company, Blind. How would we look at it today? Imagine if Mark had made some deal with Steve Rocco, the owner of his distributor, early on, like, “I’ll totally do this, but when I think it’s time that this is done, I get to put out an ad that says, ‘It’s done. We killed it. It’s over. Thank you.

Jason Dill didn’t have to take it there. For skateboarders ‘of a certain age,’ Blind’s last 15 years or so as a stable for a Canada-heavy lineup resembling a Digital Video Magazine board team will always take a back seat to the ‘Video Days’ lineup and, later, the Ronnie Creager and Lavar McBride-led ’Trilogy’ generation. Nowadays, you’re hard-pressed to place your hand on a Blind board outside the Tech Deck assortments cradled within the boxy bosom of Walmart. In fact, they’re outlawed. But with his reminder that Blind’s heyday now lies a beagle’s lifetime in the past, Jason Dill’s prodding of old sores is an exercise in discomfort matched only by grouchy grandmothers’ bitter questions over the fate of hand-knitted blankets long ago vomited upon, washed and relegated to life’s basement closets.

Time’s grinding passage has yet to reveal whether Jason Dill or Pontus Alv — another long-in-the-tooth owner of an insurgent board company that lies under his control, and who has expressed similar sentiments — will avail themselves of a Hunter S. Thompson exit strategy, rather than some much-later forced transfer to a mall store-ready nursing home. Do they possess the financial and testicular fortitude? The skating mind seems wired for Quixotic pursuits that can batter the body, plague the mind and sometimes, sear the soul — literally throwing one’s self down a set of stairs over and over again, sometimes for days on end. Quitting while one is ahead, whether in the sense of a sound body or arrest-free permanent record, may not pay dividends in the form of shoe contracts and soda-pop endorsements. For every Heath Kirchart and Scott Johnston showing themselves the door rather than be escorted out by younger, abler-bodied teammates, there are multiples of beloved pros whose ratio of video footage minutes to pro deck graphics looks increasingly lopsided.

Can pros turned board company proprietors be relied upon to serve as judges and executioners weighing the street cred of their own enterprises? Should company owners freely discuss the concept of forced euthanasia, for will this only perplex the Dutch? Does Darren Harper’s trick-trying persistence make him more likely to seek revenge for a five years-old board to the head, or vice versa?

Cup Fulla Beetlejuice

February 28, 2012

It seems like it’s been a little while since we seen one of those curveball tricks that gave Stefan Janoski another couple dimensions past just being a style-killer type during his lengthy come up from “Alone” onwards — since “Nothing But The Truth” you sometimes got the feeling he was operating under some legal obligation to represent the premium coffee swirling, fine food tasting, mahogany wood sniffing lifestyle represented by his premium boat shoes. But the above trick, which comes out of the recent Habitat catalogue and is the first time I can think of seeing this move on a hubba ledge, moves back toward the line of thinking that produced big switch b/s shifties and those backside tailslides on top of the curb, Scott Johnston style. Anybody else take this down a hubba to fakie like that?