Posts Tagged ‘Sight Unseen’

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March 10, 2019

Perhaps Pat Canale called it 20 years ago, bemoaning in Big Brother the ‘rave’ that was Transworld’s latest Ty Evans-helmed video. Pat Canale’s ‘rave’ critique became the subject of debate and scorn, most notably upon Ty Evans’ ‘FUCK CANALE’ grip job featured in ‘Chomp On This’ and also among certain rave circles. But, on the eve of Transworld print magazine’s passage into shadow, a man may take his moment to reflect on change, loss and techno raves. When the night grows darkest, when the lightless hours stretch out like yearsold sweatpants of blackest cotton, who remains? The premiere acts’ fans have gone, the dilettantes tucked in to sleep, the drug devotees scattered to their dens; those left are the true believers, or maybe just lost track of time. Sooner or later, the rave can no longer sustain itself, the party ends and everybody goes to Denny’s.

All that’s already been said is true: In those days of yore, before informational freedom and global connectivity enabled navel-gazers to signal boost and flatten medium access to sub-pancake levels, Transworld stood among a very few and precious portals to a then-exotic subculture. A glossy wormhole accessible from junior high libraries and Texaco magazine stands, through which a Midwestern middle schooler or Euro teen could peer into fantastical ramp configurations, learning tribal lingos, tracing fingers from the coping over the channel, circling in blue ink deck-graphic thumbnails that could sharpen anticipation to unbearable heights while those rectangular cardboard boxes inched their way from California.

But even when Transworld was running flatground flip trick covers and experimenting with non-static layouts, the platform Tracker built already was laying the foundation that would allow TWS more than any other legacy skateboard media property to expand and enrich itself in the 900/X-Games/THPS era: Reliably, its swears hunkered down under relatively safe font-size limits; it became the default venue as the Girl/Chocolate and World camps settled into grown-up LA apartments, cut-and-sew tops and luxury sedans, while Thrasher was fucking with Pete the Ox. Throwing open its pages to much-maligned ads for deodorant, hair gel, consumer packaged goods and the US military helped swell Transworld’s page count to Sears catalog levels and bankrolled video equipment that Ty Evans and his successors would use to revolutionize the skate video. Ramped slow-mo, meticulous editing cuts and Gap-ready techno singles were woven into top-shelf skating from both coasts — and even Thrasher standbys — into an incredible string of annual releases running from ‘Feedback’ to ‘The Reason’ to ‘Modus Operandi’ to ‘Sight Unseen’ to ‘IE’ to ‘In Bloom’ in a streak that now seems impossible to match.

While Thrasher survived its years in the wilderness and middling video efforts by building up its SOTY franchise and positioning itself for the great genre-mooshing ushered in by the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ tour, TWS too-comfortably oriented itself around steadily fading Xerox copies of its golden-age video format — the voiceovers and interludes stuck around way too long and the caliber of skaters struggled to rise to the old, iconic levels as pros proliferated and video projects ballooned into multi-year, pan-global money-losers, hoarding footage and photos as they went. Transworld’s VHS/DVD-driven powers began to ebb around the same time that digital storage costs began to fall and broadband internet powers proliferated, shifting the center of the coverage universe away from company- and magazine-backed full-lengths and toward content-farm online platforms and eventually where it is today, Instagram and Thrasher.

Losing the mobile video battle to its longtime NorCal rival helped to seal Transworld’s fate, and surely is ironic given Transworld’s prowess within VCRs and DVD players for a good decade or so. But it is too easy to count Transworld among the newsstand bodies piled high by advertising’s shift to screens, even with its steadily shrinking pagecount and shift to bimonthly publication schedule putting the magazine in danger well before its print plug got pulled in the same game of corporate-asset hot potato that took out Alien Workshop and sunk Zoo York.

The wood-chippering of this once-mighty subcultural tentpole is sad and symptomatic of a broader entropy at play across skating, which has splashed board companies and screenprint brands across the scene like stars in the evening sky. There now are lanes, and lucrative ones, for Swedish H-Street devotees, head-tatted French gutter punks, runway-walking guitar strummers, Andy Roy, first-billing Soundcloud rappers, Saturday morning cartoon breakfast cereal bowl-drinkers. Transworld’s print magazine has not only become superfluous — the big-tent middle that was the magazine’s strength has been hollowed out and scattered across dozens of smaller camps. The East Coast/EU/underground surge that Transworld commendably, maybe calculatedly, but too late tried to harness for its new core unfortunately wasn’t enough, even with a Bronze champagne drip. As Transworld continues, in some respect, as a lower-cost online entity, the watch now is on to see if they update their own list of deceased print mags.

How many lunar cycles shall pass before Transworld’s current owners recognize and reap nostalgia for the magazine’s golden period via limited-edition, expensively priced hardcover books and photographic prints, or find new owners who will? Did Transworld’s video golden age end with ‘Sight Unseen,’ ‘Free Your Mind,’ ‘Subtleties’ or ‘And Now’? Will Thrasher offer any heartfelt send-off for its southern nemesis in the next ‘Trash’ column or will they take the opportunity to twist the knife? Can you find and identify all of the outdated technologies referenced in this blog posting about Transworld as an outdated technology laid low by its reliance on other outdated technology? Is it ironic in the traditional sense that this post itself comes in a years-out-of-fashion weblog format, or just in the Alanis Morissette sense?

The Functional Baker Boys

June 5, 2015

fabolous_baker_boys

The true glory in growing old and finding one’s self with little or nothing left to prove is that it carries wealth in options. Bill Murray, that graybeard vanquisher of ghosts and pro jock to the Dalai Lama, honored fellow oldster David Letterman last month by leaping out of a secretive cake chamber and proceeding to take shots to the dome. Jack Palance, that silver fox of the US prairies, saw fit to parlay his time at the Oscar podium into boasts about the size of his bowel movements and several one-armed push ups. Betty White this week joined Instagram.

So too in the skate biz, where pro careers now offer second and third acts, there are elder statemenships to be carved out, with Jeff Grosso lovingly hollering at the collective industry to get off his lawn, French Fred Mortagne pulling back the veil on the early years of Barcelona paradise, and Tony Alva donning a puff-ball stocking cap to level-set the Vans video.

Andrew Reynolds and Mike Carroll still have a few miles in them but the heavy retrospecticus vibes and general grown-manning going on when the frontside flip impresarios deposited themselves upon the Crail Couch the other day suggested some pondering toward whatever roles await them as full-time company-runners, number-crunchers and talent-pickers. At this point Andrew Reynolds has been on the sober straight-and-narrow longer than his service under the Pissdrunx, and in interviews he’s been steering kids clear of drugs and drinking for a while now, but it is nevertheless a bit jarring to hear him take shots at Migos:

Advice for the youth?
AR: Don’t smoke weed. Don’t listen to whatever they’re saying in all this trap music, whatever that shit’s called.
MC: MOLLY!
AR: That music, I listen to it in the skatepark and people play it, nonstop, the same song over and over. And I like hip hop. But that new shit though is like brainwash, Migos and all that, like fuck. That’s like, and I see on Instagram, the kids, their little statement about them, is like ‘skateboarding and weed.’ It’s like, alright. And the music is just like ‘disrespect women, money, drugs.’ That’s pretty much it. And if they’re not listening to anything else besides that then that’s just pounded in, all day long.

Andrew Reynolds never has attempted to whitewash his past or foist his teetotaling on his riders, and one must assume that for now his official stance toward Migos music is the same.* It’s not clear whether Dustin Dollin owns ‘Rich Ni**a Timeline’ but the sometime devil’s spawn in the ‘Propeller’ divulges that he holds down the other end of the Baker spectrum, apparently the last bleary-eyed pro standing from the Warner Ave 7-day weekend after his assorted bendermates fell out over the years:

Thrasher: [A]re you the last Pissdrunk?
Dustin Dollin: I cannot confirm that rumor. Pearcy still drinks. Dancer still drinks, I’m sure. But yeah, out of the celebrity skateboarders in the public eye, I may be the last. I may be the last of the OG Pissdrunks, but there are thousands of them out there now. Thousands and thousands. And growing! But yeah, Jim doesn’t drink. Ali doesn’t drink, Elissa doesn’t drink, Andrew doesn’t drink, Erik doesn’t drink.

T: Can you still get tricks hammered?
I mean, every day that I go out skating I’m usually drinking and I try to get a trick if my body’s able. So I guess it’s every time I go skating.

Part of Andrew Reynolds’ legend status no doubt flows from about two decades’ worth of steady output that’s managed to consistently raise the bar, whatever his personal circumstances. But there’s a statistical argument to be made in favour of Dustin Dollin’s boozy functionality, previously revealed through his self-appointed role as KOTR footage logger/point tallier/stunt motivator and the staying power of the dudes he’s helped put on, but mainly via his own skate tricks themselves. A review of assorted Youtube clippings and Digital Versatile Discs from Baker2G’s Y2K release to the present indicates that among the named Pissdrunx, Dustin Dollin is the second-most productive in terms of minutes’ worth of video parts released, coming in ahead of now-dry peers Erik Ellington, Jim Greco, Ali Boulala and Elissa Steamer:

pissdrunx_chart

Does Dustin Dollin’s statistical outlier status reflect genetic advantages possessed by Australians in the barroom? What of New Jersey, and might Fred Gall similarly skew averages when stacked against peers less beloved of Sambuca, Ozzy concerts and plunging headlong into burning buildings? Would Andrew Reynolds take genuine offense to the ‘Better than the Beatles’ meme? Will legitimate musicals finally earn Migos the respect they deserve?

*Until the Slap boards divulge otherwise

Boil the Ocean Site Calls Special Stakeholder Meeting With Regards to Greg Hunt’s Compensation Package Dudes

May 8, 2015

VanCopter

The excellent Vans vid, raucous and reverent, feels like the benchmark so far this year and maybe for the surrounding couple when it comes to big-budget video releases*, and like any such worthy it comes bearing some revelations in between the assorted handrail batterings and gently sloping concrete: John Cardiel with a soul-lifting schralp and Ray Barbee hucking a real-deal no comply, Gilbert Crockett’s hot-rolled steel coil pop, TNT’s best part in a decade, Pedro Barros’ vertigo-inducing deep-end dives, all AVE everything. One could go on.**

With the embers cooled one of the more interesting points comes via boss ‘Propeller’ technician Greg Hunt, who last week skimmed some of the sludge from the ‘music supervision’ murk to reveal the sway musicians hold over modern videomaking processes:

“So I had a rough edit because people [the musicians] want to see it, which is actually a solid week of work to do. So you put together a really solid rough edit, send it off, and then you never hear back. So you figure all right, maybe they don’t like it, so we need to find a plan b. Which means finding two or three other songs as alternates, and then doing a rough edit to those songs as well, just to see if they work, and pick the best option. So that’s another week of work. And then you find out that you got the first song you submitted. So it really sucks up a lot of time trying to clear music.

So that’s what we were looking at with Pedro’s part. We talked to the publishing company, and they said they were willing to let us use it, but we needed to get these four songwriters to sign off on it. Which is kind of impossible. It was 48 hours, but really it was 24 hours, because we only had a day to find out if it was possible or not, because if not I would need at least 12 hours to re-edit something, which would have probably been impossible because I still had other things to finish for the overall video. I decided just to make calls. I know a guy at Warner Brothers, and through making the video we got to know one of the main people at Beats by Dre, and he used to skate. They are both people that are deep in the music industry.

So I basically sent them both an SOS email saying, “I have to get a hold of these four guys, immediately, can you help me?” Both those guys basically got a team of people to help track these songwriters down. Literally it was like, one of these guys knew someone who knew a guy who knew the son of someone that was in the band, but he wasn’t even in the band when they wrote the song. It was someone who was in the band later. But I got in touch with the son, and then his dad, who told me he wasn’t in the band then, but to talk to this other guy, and eventually we got all four guys in the band on the phone within 24 hours and had them stoked to give us verbal okay to go ahead and use the song. But dude, that happens every time. The stress levels are out of control.

The highly reliable and widely cited Celebrity Net Worth web site estimates Rick Howard’s net worth at $45 million. Fandangle innovator Eric Koston is seen worth $15 million; Tony Hawk, who named a trick after Madonna, $140 million; Stefan Janoski and Andrew Reynolds, $20 million and $10 million apiece. Meanwhile the amassed riches of Greg Hunt, along with pro pastor Brian Sumner, remain under review.

Like the TWS vid disclaimers of old, it is acknowledged that there is only one Anthony Van Engelen, Geoff Rowley, Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi, for better or worse Dustin Dollin, et cetera. But there’s probably a hundred pros. The list of seasoned video makers with multiple big-release videos snugged under their shoelace belts is comparatively short. Besides Greg Hunt, names that come to mind include Ty Evans, Fred Mortagne, Jon Miner, Mike Manzoori, John Holland, Ewan Bowman. These are the box office-level safe hands; there are separate echelons of indie directors like Josh Stewart, Dan Wolfe, Bill Strobeck, Benny Maglinao, Lev Tanju, Pontus Alv, the sorely missed Dan Magee, and the Bronze 56K dudes with the duffel bag in the alley.

As the mp3 failed to subdue the full-length album, so far YouTube, Vimeo and their hyperactive younger sibling Vine have yet to torpedo the full-length video despite several steamy and Thrasher cover-ready death notices penned over recent years. Rob Dyrdek, that sunglasses-at-night visionary of the skate biz, has projected that there may be room for no more than 10 pros in the future — how many veteran filmer/editors will remain to compile blockbuster-level releases such as ‘SB Chronicles 17’ and ‘Still Tru, B’ and ‘Lakai Limited Footwear Presents Flarey Tales’ that despite years-long production processes, crushing hype-cycles and telephones increasingly swelled to cracking with web-ready video parts, still need making, as evidenced by VF Corp.’s five-year investment outlay behind ‘Propeller’?

Greg Hunt, whose near-matchless CV at this point includes ‘Sight Unseen,’ ‘The DC Video,’ ‘Mind Field,’ and ‘Propeller,’ in the Concrete interview says at one point that “I don’t know if I could have done this video 10 years ago. I think the only reason I was able to pull it off was experience I’ve had from doing videos in the past.” Should Greg Hunt’s breadth of talents — steering and organizing five years’ worth of skating and filming across multiple continents, steadily capturing tricks while pushing full-speed down drainage ditches, imploring Beats By Dre employees to his cause, managing filmers and colourists and Dustin Dollin, correctly identifying the need to continue incorporating Slayer into video parts as a service to the youth, consistently waking up before noon on road trips, sidestepping multi-year deadline blowings, projecting Brian Wenning’s future through a ‘DC Video’ skit over a decade ago — and subsequent scarcity as an asset qualify him as the highest-paid dude on the Vans team? Should one of the magazines feeling its way toward a more-digital world sponsor a Sundance-type festival for rising videographeurs?*** Will the bro-cam one day earn the respect it desires and become anointed the ‘brother-cam’? Is Andrew Reynolds, as a professional skater, video editor and experienced mammal handler an original Hollywood ‘triple threat’?

*Some may term them Films
**Like in this posting for instance
***Addendum: This interview with Propeller/etc filmer Ryan Lovell reminds that such a concept already exists