Posts Tagged ‘Strange World’

The Great Shark Hunt

December 15, 2009


James Brockman, Elissa Steamer, Chris Cole/Tom Asta, Tommy Sandoval and Sheldon Meleshinski on the set of Zero’s “Strange World.” Not pictured: Young Jeezy, Richard Nixon and the interns from “Mythbusters”

Bringing it all the way around, we shall now contemplate whether the Snowman-powered Chris Cole/Tom Asta section is meant to characterize Zero’s “Strange World” in the same way that Ally McBeal’s torrid affair with Jon Bon Jovi came to characterize the final years of FOX’s “Single Female Lawyer.” There is the combination of old and new in Cole and Asta themselfs, Young Jeezy on a Soulja Boy instrumental indicating the continued dominance of the South and Atlanta in particular, and this time around, nobody gets smacked in the face when Chris Cole does his cab frontside blunt on the handrail. It is a section of contrasts that also features a manly nollie heelflip backside lipslide from young Asta, who has morphed from a rail-centered pipsqueak in his OIAM days to a pipsqueak who has time to kickflip into and out of the same backside tailslide if the desire so moves him.

There are other pipsqueaks at work here, suggesting that Jamie Thomas may actually have been bummed that Zero already burned through the “New Blood” title a ways back: Donovan Piscopo brings kind of an Austyn Gillette update to the Bobier part in “Misled Youth” and stocky Canadian Jamie Tancowny* runs roughshod over a good deal of different terrains in the curtain-bringer-downer, karate kicking his varial heelflips and f/s reverting out of a stock k-grind which is a more interesting take than I’ve seen for a while on a handrail. The awesome clipper backside flip is there, with perhaps a brief view of the disappearing sequence-ruiner, as well as a giant switch backside 180 and frontside heelflip, and the Thrasher bigspin cover that came out super good. At 20 or whatever he is who knows whether he’ll get any taller, but aside from shit like the kickflip noseslide Tancowny’s generally safe from the trappings of lil-kid style.

Elsewise the likes of Garrett Hill and James Brockman come off better in this video than in some past appearances, with Hill looking kinda more polished and Brockman executing some pretty major moves that are hard to cast aside, though we have not been huge fans in the past. It would’ve been cool to see more footage of Rattray, whose street stuff seemed more invigorated than in recent years, and the same with Ben Gilley’s southern caveman act, which has somehow become more entertaining and bracing as years go by. It’s like he’s got more to lose by throwing what looks like a sizable frame onto those railings, maybe. One-eyed Sheldon Meleshinski has one of the best tricks in the whole video with a bigspin backside tailslide that’s spun straight into the camera and looks all ridiculous. This posting would also be remiss if it didn’t mention Dane Berman’s ollie into the channel bank as one of the scarier-looking feats in recent memory.

This video was actually more anticipated around the BTO play-yard than the past few Zero vids in part because of the hallucinatory stylistic change-up. It kind of reminded me of the mid-90s, when Nine Inch Nails kept heading further down the spiral and you wondered eventually whether he’d have to just off himself to keep things headed to their natural thematic conclusion. Zero had taken the skulls/death motif to a pretty minimal end in “New Blood” so the fresh bad-trip approach was welcome, but it’s interesting too how closely some of the editing and whatnot stayed to the “Thrill of it All”/”Misled Youth” era – thinking here of Gilley’s 50-50 attempts/accomplishment, Garrett Hill’s fumbling 50-50 transfer at the beginning of his section, the overall pretty enjoyable soundtrack and the tight 30-minute runtime. Zero makes these videos cheap nowadays and both this and the Slave one are worthwhile.

*whose “Lil Fucky” nickname is I think one of the best ones out in a while

Babes In Useless Wooden Toyland

December 13, 2009


Suffrage the joy

It hit me watching Zero’s mildly psychedelic new offering “Strange World” that a company concerned with some of the more macho aspects of skate endeavors has drawn into its orbit two bookends of female street skating, that is, mid-90s Toy story Elissa Steamer and new blood Marisa Dal Santo, who seem to share a similar sensibility if not on-board choice of terrain. The possible reasons are as varied as the public projection-fed interpretations of Jamie Thomas’ motivations. Those inclined to believe in the coldhearted capitalist caricature may see this as Black Box’s calculated maneuver to corner the burgeoning female skateboard market. Or perhaps it’s an outcropping of Christian charity, in this the Xmas season.

If the aim is dredging out double X chromosome-tinged photos and footage though, the notoriously slothlike and often laid-up Elissa Steamer may be a shallow reservoir. Her trick count comes up kinda short in what was pitched as her Zero board-earning debut and while it’s possible she’ll have more stuff in Nike productions still to come, you’re kinda left wondering what coulda been. The tailslide and frontside boardslide shove-its are cool tricks and incorporating hill bombs is a good way to up the gnar factor, maybe they need to send her back to SF and get her back on a program with Brian Anderson or something.

The new lady on the scene Marisa Dal Santo brings the heat however, cribbing well-advised moves from the likes of Fred Gall, Donny Binaco and Mike Ruscyzk in ways that put to rest concerns that the Chris Nieratko makeover might see her embrace a more polished and feminine persona. With Steamer’s Toy Machine rise as the benchmark for successive challengers to queen-bee status (Torres, Sablone, Caron) Dal Santo does her share of envelope-pushing and bar-raising via the kickflip f/s boardslide, a fairly major varial heelflip and the 14-stair frontside boardslide.

We are about to be a decade deeper, and the debate over girl skateboarders rages on. To wit:

I’m just saying skateboarding is based on skill. So if girls are not as skilled, I don’t think they should be getting magazine articles, pro boards, pro shoes, and the likes. What’s next? Someone getting a pro board because they’re fat and it’s way harder to skate when you’re fat instead of skinny?

But there may be broader implications here than just whether or not a video is entertaining. Photos, footage etc help establish what is possible and relevant, showcase progression and build the foundation for what’s next – in this respect we’ve traveled from tripping out over even seeing a girl in a video to the first womanly Mctwist. Are the ladies supposed to progress in secret, or some type of separate-but-equal feminine sphere, akin to “international” board/shoe teams? If women are to achieve the same parity with men they have found in basketball, NASCAR and international warfare they need at least the chance to act on the same stage. After all, look what the critically acclaimed documentary “Most Vertical Primate” did to break ape skating out of the underground, and indeed, Ryan Sheckler is now a well-known aerosol deodorant pitchman. It makes you think.

Throwback Fridays

December 11, 2009

I noted this recent Thunder ad a while ago and meant to post it up and remark on how the ballcap, faded jeans and t-shirt ensemble could’ve placed this Jamie Thomas trick back in the Toy Machine days, certain advances in graphic design aside. The trick’s in the “Strange World” video and it’s fairly gnarly as you might expect but toward the middle of the video I started noticing a lot of throwback spots as well – Dane Berman skates what looks a lot like a gap utilized by Thomas for the “Thrill of It All” section, I’m fairly certain Donovan Piscopo walked the barrel-laden path of Ronnie Creager and Kareem Campbell, and I think somebody skated the Neal Mims rail from his Transworld cover. BTW, to bring all this shit full circle, there’s a pic in the new Skateboard Mag photo annual of Neal Mims grinding a tank, of all things. It shall take its rightful place on the militaristic wall of fame in between Berra backside flipping that plane and Tony Hawk doing a handplant on a Jeep Cherokee.

Chris Cole: Back For the First Time

December 5, 2009


Turn his SOTY on, again

Chris Cole is an amazing skater with a truckload of natural ability and the skill of a sober ninja who was born in the 1980s. I would say Pierre Luc Gagnon, for instance, is another dude with high skill levels and the temerity to take it to the extreme. But there can be only one skateboard version of the Highlander each year and this year it is again Chris Cole, for any number of probably valid reasons. If you’re an internet bean counter, though, you may count this particular blog zone in the vaguely disappointed pile. Not because Cole isn’t a Rob Zombie superbeasto on the ramps and rails, all while managing to not act like an asshole all over the place. (Did everybody see this one?) And not because we think he won’t hesitate to not withhold punches from his weighty arms should he come upon us saying so. Because he seems like a gentle giant type, despite the skulls and leather and shit. Not like one of those church-burning, brain-gobbling Norweigan guitar slingers. Pretty much what we’re saying is, you could probably buy a used auto from Chris Cole and count on getting at least a decent deal.

But, Skater of the Year twice? Same decade even? The SOTY nomination/voting/election process is famously opaque and has not been overseen by international election observers since His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I took office. There is no doubt that the ultimate yardstick must lie within the skateboard pudding served up over the course of the year. However. Cole’s noble performances these past 12 months (Wallenberg, Maloof, Berrics, “Strange World”) probably would better serve to affirm the wisdom of his being chosen the first time around, whereas Phelps & Co. could take the opportunity to anoint someone in 2009 who will be assured to blow minds in 2013, should our civilization, such as it is, defy the Mayan calendar and live that long. There’s a strong case to be made for COLETY09 sure, it probably could’ve been made last year too what with that Fallen video, but zeroing in on an already acknowledged legend-in-the-making who also happened to put some blood/sweat into building the Thrasher brand in recent months runs the risk of watering down the one award that’s supposed to mean something, doesn’t it? But you know, at least Sheckler didn’t get it.