Posts Tagged ‘Supreme’

The Bigspin Sleep

January 22, 2023

Scene opens in a musty office; it’s dimly lit, the only light streaming in from the frosted windowpanes, and now the door, which creaks open to admit DAVE. Across the office sits BOB, behind his desk in the shadows, smoking a cigar. BOB motions for DAVE to take a seat, and he does. There is a pause as BOB sucks on his cigar.

BOB: ‘She’s Cheating.’

BOB spreads a handful of polaroids across the desk and gestures to DAVE to examine them. DAVE does, and begins shaking his head, clearly agitated. His face, when he looks up again at BOB, is a mixture of shock and anger. Briefly we can see ETHYL in a photo, with another man, his face obscured by a hat. BOB, calm, puffs again on his cigar.

BOB: ‘You Deserve It.’ (He fixes DAVE with a cold glare.) ‘You Changed. Don’t Ask Me When.

BOB slides another set of Polaroids across the desk; briefly, DAVE is seen with several different women. These further agitate DAVE; BOB next passes a set of papers, which look like bank statements and receipts. DAVE begins to leaf through them, then looks up.

DAVE: ‘OK Then.’

DAVE stands and, returning BOB’s icy stare, reaches into his jacket pocket; it’s implied he is going for a weapon. BOB pushes back his chair, revealing that he already has a pistol drawn — and it’s pointed at DAVE. 

BOB: ‘Play Dead.’

DAVE looks at BOB, looks at the pistol. BOB cocks it, and DAVE hurriedly drops to the floor.

DAVE: (muffled, his face to the floor) ‘I Just Took A Bite Of Dirt.’

BOB: (gesturing with the pistol toward the door) ‘Mind How You Go.’

DAVE: (still on the floor, cowering, eyes fixed on the pistol in BOB’s hand) ‘Easier Said Than Done.’

BOB, in one motion, holsters the pistol, steps around the desk, and reaches down to grab DAVE by the collar, then hoists him up and shoves him toward the door.

DAVE: ‘OK, We’re Leaving.’ (He stumbles, steadies himself on the doorjamb, and sneers at BOB) ‘Thank You For Your Patience.’

We see BOB now has the pistol in his hand again. He half-raises it in DAVE’s direction.

BOB: ‘Then Again…’

DAVE: (Seething) ‘See You Later.’ 

DAVE half-slams the door; we can hear his footsteps trailing away down the hall. BOB replaces the pistol in his shoulder holster and, eyes still on the door, puffs his cigar. Behind him, the closet door slowly opens, and ETHYL steps out — confidently. She strides to BOB’s side, slides an arm around his waist, kisses him on the cheek, plucks the cigar from his fingers and takes a puff.

ETHYL: ‘Good Riddance.’

The office lights go out. A moment later, the office is empty, and we see HORACE, the custodian, emptying the trash can beside BOB’s desk. Pouring its contents into the bin on his cart, we can see HORACE glancing at hotel receipts, airline tickets, and finally, a half-crumpled photo of BOB and ETHYL, embracing on a beach. HORACE shakes his head and tosses it with the rest of the garbage.

HORACE: ‘Sounds Like You Guys Are Crushing It.’

We watch HORACE push his cart out of the office and close the door; the last thing the audience sees as the lights go out are the words printed across the glass: “Bob’s Detective Agency.”

Screenplay by Harry Bergenfield, Pontus Alv, Federico Hazama, Tactics, Bill Strobeck, Drake Johnson, Joshua Simpson, Harald Reynolds, Jeff Cecere, Bye Jeremy, Logan Lara, Neema Joorabchi, Steve Mastorelli, Vincent Milou, Alltimers. NOTE: All proceeds from this production will go toward replenishing the reservoir of one-word skate video titles.

Banger Fatigue And The Yearlong Week

December 4, 2022

‘Apocalypse fatigue’ is a vocabulatory buzzphrase leaned upon to capture a sense of dissociation, listlessness, and spiritual shell-shockedness, used early on in the context of eroding public focus on climate change, more recently applied to the Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitics, threats from malicious asteroids, and so on. A sense of international malaise, weaving somewhere between wonder and a concussion, can similarly be applied to the climax of skateboarding’s 2022 awards season, in which around a half hour of bar-raising video footage has been published to digital internet players over the course of a handful of days — stretching the limits of what seems possible and sometimes leaving the viewer to do little else but laugh at the absurdity of a nollie backside heelflip backside lipslide down a 12-stair handrail as a set-up trick, or popping a frontside noseblunt up the NY pyramid ledges. 

Between Nyjah Huston’s 12 minutes of handrail and hubba obliteration — including three tricks at Clipper in the same session involving switch or nollie heelflips in — and Tyshawn Jones rifling off a succession of back-to-back flip tricks over garbage bins higher than some pros could even ollie, not to mention the kickflip over the subway tracks, the skateboard media consumer can be allowed a bloated feeling of overwhelm. In between all this, Tristan Funkhouser smoked SF again and Louie Lopez still looms. Somewheres, kids are staring at their boards, feeling mildly bludgeoned and wondering if something is drawing to an end, and you feel for the Thrasher brain trust having to sort through it all and make a ruling

In past epochs, progression has come and gone in great waves, oriented as much around sub-disciplines as anything else. Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, Mike McGill, Danny Way, Colin McKay and various other 1980s superheroes pushed the vert medium to a certain threshold before the bottom dropped out of the industry and street skating rose up, hurtling toward a flurry of flip-trick technicalities that crested and fell back even more quickly. Zero, Baker, Flip and others later hoisted the handrail era, which eventually was supplanted by the time of ledge dancing brought on by ‘Fully Flared.’ The outfits changed, and most of the names on the title cards, but they all eventually ran out of steam. 

As the focus shifted over the past decade from the professional class collectively questing after biggest/longest/hardest and toward a more fragmented universe in which specialized practitioners mine their chosen seams, progression in this IG/personal brand era revolves heavily around the individual. Now it is Sean Green and Jeff Carlyle driving forward the hill bomb, your Jamie Foys and Nyjah Hustons on handrails, Mark Suciu and Shane O’Neill and so on for technicalness, and so forth. There are not many persons doing things at the level to which Tyshawn Jones has elevated monstrous pop, or Nyjah Huston’s brain-numbing array of handrail stunts. But individuals get tired. Their bodies break, and sometimes they want to chill. 

Turning the calendar toward a fresh year means the revolving door can admit whomsoever wants to get super gnarly for the next annual cycle, and there can be no doubt that there are garrulous contenders now planning their 2023 campaigns. But after the events of the past week — Nyjah Huston taking the k-grind on the Dylan Rieder rail all the way down through the kink, whatever you call the fakie version of a nollie backside over-crook; Tyshawn Jones 360 flipping gaps that previously had only been ollied, hardflipping a 10-foot-tall bump to bar — it is hard to imagine another go-round, even kind of exhausting. 

Despite the eat-what-you-kill, increasingly productivity-oriented biz of pro skating, would anybody hold it against Nyjah Huston or Tyshawn Jones or Tristan Funkhouser or Louie Lopez or the rest of the fourth-quarter strivers if they kind of relaxed next year? By not lacing T-Funk with a shoe deal, is Vans missing out on making it a four-way SOTY contest with Nike, Adidas and Converse? With Nyjah Huston’s street filming obligations assuming to have been fulfilled for the time being, does his training and narrative-building for the 2024 Summer Games begin in earnest? Is it a coincidence that two of the current epoch’s most intensely skilled skaters also rank among its loudest dressers? After this past week does everybody maybe need a nap?

As Above, So Below — Tyshawn Jones And The Power Of The ‘Event Trick’

October 9, 2022

In an increasingly fractitious USA, the dark turn brought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had the somewhat bittersweet side effect of being that rare event that found Americans of nearly all political stripes and persuasions in agreement — a rarer and rarer occurrence in a land wherein the populace seems intent on sorting itself into ever-more specific subgroups of their own choosing. Timelines are tweaked to reflect favoured realities, the hit radio single or must-see TV event now relics of simpler and perhaps more naive times, replaced by self-targeted streaming series and machine-learned DJ programs that fine tune algorithms to dial up personalization, and tune out the rest of the world. The local sports franchise may briefly unite a riven city, and culture-capturing beguilers including ‘Olde Towne Road’ may still prove themselfs occasionally impossible to avoid, but these more and more seem exceptions to a deepening rule of fragmentation that shows little sign of reversing.

The seven-ply hard rock maple contingent has long satisified itself with the idea that it blazes trails and sets agendas for fashion conglomerates, artistes and less-evolved species such as scooter handlers; sometimes this proves true, like when Gilbert Crockett’s fixation on Depression-era paper bag pants eventually trickles into the fashion pages of the Wall-Street Journal, and sometimes less so, like paying women pros in line with what men make. The same entropic forces have been at work for years, though, with the street-vert dichotomy splintering into subdisciplines and microgenres that now range from SoCal handrail persisters to Love Park ledge religionists, beverage manufacturer-bankrolled mega ramp athletes, hyper-urban night skating in Japan, and Bobby Puleo carrying his torch for Texas’ 1980s backyard ramp scene. On the contest circuit, there are efforts to harness the political polarization that the much of the US seems to have adopted as its national pasttime.

This week within the span of a few minutes Thrasher, Tyshawn Jones and Atiba Jefferson digitally threw down a photo of the reigning king of New York kickflipping over the tracks at the 145th street subway station, fresh off the presses as the cover of the magazine’s December issue. IG stories proliferated and forceful emojis deployed as people raced to estimate the distance and speculate on the gnar factor of blind bumps or the science of electricity transference; a snippet of an apparent video “will” that Tyshawn Jones recorded before squaring up to the platform gap and an Atiba Jefferson selfie at track level upped the how’d-they-do-it drama that would easily make a mini-doc, like Thrasher did with Jaws’ Lyon 25 jump.

The danger factor, instantly interpretable trick and beautifully simple composition of the photo — plus the footage not yet out — added up to a seldom-encountered ‘event trick’ and immediately catapulted it into the ranks of all-time classic Thrasher covers, Jeremy Wray’s water tower ollie the most direct translation for the still-flummoxed masses. Over the near-eternity represented by a 24-hour period or so on IG, the trick consumed the entire skateboard sphere, bowl barneys and manual pad savants united in shock, praise, thrill and wonder. For Tyshawn Jones, it’s the best yet among a four-year run of four Thrasher covers, which at 23 years old places him alongside Andrew Reynolds, Lance Mountain, Marc Johnson and Jamie Thomas in terms of the number of times he’s been on the magazine’s front.

Since Tyshawn Jones and Atiba Jefferson were sporting masks on the way to the spot, how long has this trick been in the can, and was the Supreme IG video clip, featuring Tyshawn Jones in a different outfit throwing down his board in a subway station, indicative of another trick like a backside kickflip or switch ollie? How seriously do you think were any discussions around timing attempts to include in the photo subway train lights down the tunnel? By how much does this photo up the risk of harm or even death for less-able contenders looking for a shot at glory, like Jamie Thomas’ Leap of Faith? Will the perhaps-near discovery of alien life bring together the earth’s people in a new way, or only drive them deeper into alien-appeasing and alien-opposing camps? For the Thrasher mini-doc, did Thrasher bring along Mike from the Bronx like Jaws did with Ali for the Lyon 25 melon grab?

Josh Kalis Throws Himself Upon The Mercy Of The Camo Court

May 22, 2022

The great grit pendulum creaked further toward the Jersey industrial swamps this week, as Mark Suciu, he of the coffee cup and the dog-eared classic, was spotted on IG skating shirtless in a tropical ditch wearing camo pants. The digital video footage was notable, as even cynics no longer can cast such moves as so much Thrasher-pandering given Mark Suciu in 2022 is at last a SOTY laureate, suggesting something bigger is going on here. Do we head into this bold and burblesome summer of 2022, knowed to some as the dos-oh-deus-deus, with Mark Suciu a convert to the camo pants set? Only the mountains know, and some secrets they hold deep in their chilly, immobile embrace, like the legend of Shock G’s gold.

There can be little argument that this current epoch ranks as a kind of camouflage golden age. Freely available and often correctly spelled, the Rothco-or-white-labeled-equivalent camouflage cargo at once both a rank-and-file staple a la Dickies and Levis, and a reliably bankable premium product, regularly surfacing via collabo activities including but not limited to the likes of Huf, RealTree, MossyOak and Vans. Supreme has developed its own realistic camo prints, and Palace too.

The path of ‘the culture’ toward this place of diverse and varied camo patterns n’ prints has been a long and winding one since Matt Hensley podiumed the cargo short varietal in the late 1980s. Despite making appearances across the Brooklyn Banks, EMB, Love Park and Lockwood over the course of the 1990s, the camo pant frequently was sidelined at various points in favour of designer jeans, swishies, cords, and on certain feverish after-hours road trip stops, nothing at all. The road has also been potholed with wrongheaded choices, most notoriously Stephen Lawyer’s day-glo mash-ups that looked like something vomited up by a blotter-addled army surplus store.

All of these different things lead us to the unlikely scene of Josh Kalis, longtime endorser of DGK’s enlarged woodland print and one whose camo bonafides have been the subject of little question since at least ‘Time Code,’ preemptively asking his Instagram following this month to absolve him of what, in 2022, may nevertheless remain a camo faux pas to a decades-deep camo classicist. Donning a snow camo jacket, designed to help soldiers launch surprise attacks in frozen tundra environments, with traditional woodland printed pants, best suited to temperate deciduous forest combat or stylish hiking, Josh Kalis acknowledged the unconventional combo in the IG caption: “and yea.. I have woodland Camo pants and white urban Camo jacket on. Who cares.” The apparent transgression cannot outweigh the camouflage cred that Josh Kalis has banked since being among the few to successfully pull off snow camo shorts in the 1990s, though the textual shrug belies his (accurate) view that such a duo wouldn’t have flown back then.

Was Josh Kalis, seemingly throwing together whatever was around to turn wrenches on his beloved sports cars, in fact quietly testing the waters for a late-career bucking of long-held camo norms? Who’s gonna be the first to skate in ghillie pants? Has Stephen Lawyer, bored with pushing the dimensions and possibilities of camo combos, moved on to fashion prints and cartoon dinosaur scenes?

Of Denim, Dynasties and Destiny

May 1, 2022

Like the krill-scented belch of some deep-dwelling leviathan, a discordant breeze this week did blow. It was the ‘wind of change’: Tyshawn Jones announced on the Internet that he would depart the FuckingAwesome team, for a destination yet untold. Na-Kel Smith would be joining him, and for the first time since ‘Cherry’ it felt as though the expletiveamania juggernaut Jason Dill had built via junior high class photos around this generation’s ‘LA Boys’ was beginning to sputter — sort of like if in ‘Tha Last Dance’ Jordan and Rodman had quit the Bulls after a few championships to start their own expansion team that will also sell ‘pre curve’ trucker hats and airbrushed towels.

Jason Dill long has said FA was ‘for the kids.’ But strictly speaking is was not by them; perhaps it was inevitable that the tweens Dill and Anthony Van Engelen plucked and provided the platform to achieve big-fish status at one point would strike out on their own, but it leaves to burble the question of what might have kept them within the FA fold?

The answer plainly is jeans. It is a knowed truism that in 2022, year of the grub, if you cannot command a $35 pricepoint for a cotton t-shirt, you have no business being a skateboard company. And yet, with the price of a cup of gas thundering higher and supply-chain snarls and snurls reducing the product-slinging pro to a beggar for mismatched trucks, forward-thinking companies have staked their future on a more lucrative and precarious sphere — designer jeans, that fibrous endeavour that immortalized Antoine Boy’s horn and made Marithé and François Girbaud into 13th Ward icons.

Forced into the wilderness for years first by cords, then by Dickies, Carharts and assorted chinos, jeans now are the stuff of kingdom-making and eternal glory. Polar, once a Nordic upstart consumed with frontside shove its and male nudity, is now a de facto jeans company, made into an international dynamo by its zeitgeist-anticipating Big Boy line, which has been projected to occupy significant capacity levels on Maersk Line ocean freighters. Supreme remade the much sought-after Blind jeans of peak World years, putting the company’s current zombiefied incarnation, when they brought out their own version, in the unique position of aping an homage. Primitive is not so far off, marketing Tiago jeans endorsed by a noted Big Boy client. On the other hand, the strength of the Palace Jeans franchise doubtless played a role in forging its partnership with Stevie Williams manual accessory maker Evisu and more recently the Calvin Klein alliance, one of the more powerful collabos of recent vintage*. Bronze, Quasi, Theories of Atlantis and others all offer customized jeans with branded trademarks.

And what of FA? It is impossible to deny that as a company, in utter reality, they sell jeans. And yet the relatively few models proffered upon the open market of their digital storefront are outnumbered by neon-coloured corduroys, polar fleece sweats with stylized eyeballs on them and surf shorts adorned with graphical representations of babies fistfighting in the nude. To be sure, FuckingAwesome is a power in board sales, but with a fortune to be made hawking jeans to the parched and crypto-rich masses of our day, can FA truly be said to be a jean dynasty worthy of wanton worship and a $150 MSRP?

If FA had committed earlier and more fully to dominating the jeans game, would its pants-related earnings have made Tyshawn Jones and Na-Kel Smith think thrice before leaving a company drenched in denim riches? Or to adopt a ‘Kriss Kross’ position, is it rather that FA ought to instead lean even further into developing and selling graphical boardshorts? Is it time for the forward-thinking pants mogul to make a countercyclical bet on brown cords and boot-cut pants ahead of an inevitable ‘04 nostalgia wave?

*Are those Shaun Powers jeans u are wearing?

Purple Sprite, Narrowing Palettes, And The Trilogy Conundrum

September 26, 2021

It is the nature of the human animal to prod and push and gesture wildly at boundaries. Elon Musk, noted billionaire playboy by day and alleged costumed superhero in evenings, is developing a spaceship to land persons as yet unnamed on ‘Planet Mars.’ A Harvard genomic master intends to make un-extinct the powerful wooly mammoth and set them loose upon wild tundras, for profit and pleasure. Nude mountain ascents have become so commonplace as to be regarded as gauche. China intends to have a functioning weather-control system in place before ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind/Please Don’t Wake Me This Time’ turns 10, and out in Texas they’re working on warp drives.

For several years, skateboarding’s ‘pro elite’ lusted after spins. Time was, the more rotations you could wrest from the vert ramp’s miserly lips, the taller you stood amongst the several dozen other skaters who drifted in that overcast subcultural wilderness that was the late 1980s. This of course followed on the parking-lot pirouette challenges that made hallowed the names of yesteryear’s freestyle kings, and later, pre-Nike skateboard footwear barons. Later on, people built names and fiscal fortunes on many times they could flip the board, how many stairs they could jump, how many kinks they could clank through.

The year is 2021 and skateboarding is all business. Commercial behemoths such as Nike Inc., Red Bull GmbH, PepsiCo Inc. and Frog Skate Boards have seeded their statistical analytics into the modern youth, who heavily fixate upon monetizing social media followings, tabulating trick totals to piece together podium-climbing Street League runs, and stacking minute upon juicesome minute of footage to propel various SOTY campaigns. For pros of a certain age, the business world presents the last and greatest realm in which to level up — a thistly thicket where survival depends on wits, savvy, debt tolerance and nerve, where contest dominators such as Tony Hawk operate on an even playing field as street-level operators such as Steve Williams. And, those who choose to make a go of selling boards in this turbulent hour chase a singular goal, an achievement as elusive and rarified as landing ‘the 900’ — running three separate board companies under one roof.

Such a feat of course was first accomplished by Steve Rocco’s World Industries, under which in the ‘early 1990s’ a whole crop of sister brands sprouted — Blind, 101, Menace, Plan B, eventually the mighty Prime.* Since then, doubling up with a sister brand to house the proverbial homies has become de rigueur — Girl/Chocolate, Alien/Habitat, Zero/Mystery, Baker/Deathwish, FuckingAwesome/Hockey — but precious few others have made the leap to three. The venerable DNA Distribution offered the internationally flavored Seek in the early ’00s, but hobbled it with furtive visuals and no video push. Crailtap at various points flirted briefly with Ruby decks and briefly incubated Skate Mental but neither became a full third under the Girl umbrella. Giant’s period running the power trio of Element, New Deal and Black Label proved short-lived. Street Corner’s confidence in its abilities beyond maintaining the stalwart Think brand at one point was enough to back the sadly short-lived City as well as the not as sadly short-lived Lucky board concern. Black Box distribution gave Garrett Hill and Forrest Edwards a brief shot on the pricepoint-oriented Threat before the center of gravity shifted and retrenching became required. In the post-Rocco era, only the steady hands at Deluxe have been able to consistently manage such multiples, from Real and Anti-Hero to the once-vibrant Stereo and since, Krooked.

Now comes Jason Dill, unlikely industry kingpin, whose FA/Hockey pro stables steadily bulge, and a line of would-be flowees extending around the proverbial block. Jason Dill, who knows something about flying close to the sun, has pondered and shied from a third board company in the past, a rumored ‘Funeral Home’ concept that supposedly was to have included Austyn Gillette and Jake Anderson, among others. The purity-of-youth bottled in Michael Nicholas’ excellent ‘Untitled’ seems to have Bill Strobeck thinking otherwise, though, with key men of the crew regularly popping up in winking Instagram postings centered around a ‘violet’ theme that the Slap boards brain trust already has tagged as the company’s name; other Supreme-orbit talents including Efron Danzig and Kris Brown have been rumored to be in the mix.

If pursued, the venture would represent a bold wager on the demand elasticity of the Supreme/FA merchandise and the wallet-depth of skaters and those willing to spend to present as skate-adjacent. A third FA appendage risks cannibalizing the dollars, euro, yen and cryptocurrency currently dedicated toward Hockey lightning bolt hats, lovingly embossed FA decks and Supreme mattresses; as the global economy wobbles, FA and Hockey already are pushing the envelope to lift the price ceiling on 7-ply maple sticks above the $55 purgatory that has mired the hard-good industry for ye, these past 30 years. Meanwhile shops ponder the constraints of the physical board wall, along with the capital intensiveness and logistical hoops that e-commerce represents in the eventual post-Covid19 era.

Do Jason Dill and William Strobeck, who survived the harshest diversions that New York had to dangle in the early ’00s, retain enough subcultural surefootedness and business knowhow to shoot the moon and successfully maintain a third board imprint? If ‘Violet’ indeed is the name, does it compensate by representing the ‘safest’ name choice of the three after Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen already persuaded shop owners to plaster a big f-word across their walls, and followed that up by naming a sister brand after a major-league sport with no wheels involved? Does ‘Hockey’ sometimes remind you of the short-lived ‘Bike’? Between Blue, Crimson, Yellow brand, Bronze, Silverstar, Platinum and Golden State Wheels, are potential colour-themed names for skateboard companies running perilously short after only about 70 years?

*Named in memory of Transformer great Optimus Prime

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 9 – Kevin Bradley, ‘Bon Voyage’

June 19, 2021

Before West Coast Kev, here he was, young prodigy on a French-gone-Dwindle board sponsor, skating his ass off and hopping trash cans almost as tall as he was. All the KB elements were already in place, from the giddily boosted kickflip off the LA street bump and quietly brutal gap to backside smith grind to the afterparty-ready rollaways and deep-impact knee drops on the noseblunt and backside lipslide. There was enough range in here with the deep end airs, foot plants and body varial that yung KB could’ve theoretically gone in any of a number of directions — Nike SB contest ATV, Scandinavian-directed cobble surfer, or the current seven-day weekender.

5. Nik Stain — ‘Skate Clip’

December 27, 2019

Whether or not the planet will receive a ‘definitive’ Nik Stain video part maybe is not the right question; there are those who would pound their fists and tear their hair and pronounce that it was already in ‘Bruns’ while others may suggest that there shouldn’t be one, requiring questers to sift 917, Supreme and assorted Jersey video files for a fleeting and piecemeal picture of the truth. Johnny Wilson’s springtime Vimeo freshener hit closer than anything else for a while, the elbows-out backside smith grinds and backside tailslides seared further into the permanent record as critical reference points for a moorless age. Nik Stain gives himself to the purpose, scorpioning across water and asphalt, barreling over rails and double sets and painting urethane swipes across the Manhattan marble, until the next one.

1. Tyshawn Jones — ‘Blessed’

December 31, 2018

Bill Strobeck earlier this decade helped to save skate video by rejecting the prevailing model of yearslong filming campaigns, budget bloat and too-long productions prone to crumplling beneath impossibly hyped expectations. Instead he went straight to YouTube, dug up archival clips and let the VX roll liberally on lurkers for three-minute snapshots that got more burn than some clothing and shoe money-backed full lengths. A few years down the line and steering his own big video, Bill Strobeck’s ‘Blessed’ got caught up in a lot of the same excesses, from ponderous slow-mo to a near-90 minute runtime that its creator requests be consumed in full. He’s still among the best since Baker at fusing the traditional video part with the recent ‘raw files’ fixation, panning around a few seconds before and after to let atmospherics elevate the trick — an approach that in ‘Blessed’ functioned best for Tyshawn Jones, situating him taking his lumps in the gutters while ascending to the tip-toppiest of pro skating’s tiers, with perfect, incredible hard tricks at the gnarliest New York spots in pricey, limited-edition pants. Like a gold brick smashing an abandoned storefront window, Tyshawn Jones’s skating feels imperial and commanding, brazen and loud — he’s cracking tricks thigh-high in traffic, hopping handrails with a backpack on, skipping pushes between tables in California, looking for ways to make the fearsome NY courthouse drop harder to skate. There is the street gap fakie flip, the switch backside lipslide over top of the Columbus Park rail, the silky nollie backside flip over the black hubba in Garrett Hill pants, the shifty incorporation. But the switch backside heelflip interlude encapsulates the dude’s late-2018 moment, chopping a lock, tangling with security and stacking multiple times on the way to an immaculate catch and euphoric push-away, packing into the van for the escape, everybody screaming their heads off.

A New Gilded Age For Skate Videos

December 2, 2018

There is more hugging in the new Supreme vid than you might think. A heartfelt Tyshawn Jones embrace features in promotional posters tucked into Thrasher and plastered across New York City in the run-up to the billion-dollar streetwear barony’s new full-length, emphasis on the full. Bloby pickup Kevin Rodrigues collects three after one clip, Sean Pablo rolls straight into a businesslike squeeze after successfully stepping to a backside lipslide on the Jake Johnson rail, and Sage Elsesser appears to willingly accept the outstretched arms of Andy Roy. Dudes sitting and watching tricks hug. ‘Blessed,’ which surpasses President Trump’s most-recent State of the Union address in length, freely ladles out the love: These young men bound by the red box-logo are older, better and seemingly tighter than ever, drawn close by their good fortune, high-value boxes, and a tinge of tragedy. Each heavy clip, many slathered in slow-mo, culminates in relief in the trick conquered, exaltation in the accomplishment, and joy in bro-dom. Bill Strobeck’s title, obligatory quotation marks included, says it all.*

This universe is a far cry from headbutts dealt to uppity sneakerheads, but going strictly off the skating, ‘Blessed’ justifies its celebratory vibes. Ben Kadow, he of the thousand-yard stare and latent disgruntlement, hurls himself onto rails and electrical boxes out the gate, but even he eventually succumbs to a satisfied grin by the time he chews through a couple boards on a jagged crescent-shaped lipslide. Rowan Zorilla, who still looks odd decked out in Supreme gear, delivers off-kilter jaw-slackeners including a China Banks nollie flip, another wallie noseblunt for the 2018 tally, and a how-the-fuck nose manual wallride. Sage Elsesser steps to Pulaski’s dishes from another, lower level; Kevin Bradley presses pause on his piling-out campaign to throw a beautiful over-bin heelflip and huck at the Brooklyn Banks. Splindly Blue Steel-worker Sean Pablo flicks a rather mean backside flip to fakie 5-0 at the bank-to-hubba spot while a new generation of tween onlookers man the fence, and elsewhere gets unexpectedly gnarly, backside lipsliding the Jake Johnson rail and taking a picture-perfect line down a three stack under security duress. For goodness’ sake, Na’kel Smith makes slamming look fun.

It is Tyshawn Jones, however, whose curtain-dropper asserts a measure of severity and awe, turning in what must be the heaviest east coast video part since Jake Johnson tore down walls in ‘Mindfield.’ It’s just a handful of clips here that wouldn’t stand as enders for other, lesser pros, and some whose like hasn’t much been seen before — the switch backside 360 over the can, say, or the enormously lofted fakie float over the bar. Bill Strobeck’s lingering and oft-zoomy lens soaks in the pain, struggle and eventual euphoria permeating the last few tricks, and it’s hard to turn ‘Blessed’ off without the feeling that Tyshawn Jones has changed the conversation at some level. (And then there’s the nollie flip.)

The onetime Fat Bill evolved out of the primordial VX-toting ooze to become one of the relatively few videomaking iconoclasts out there, with a fairly set group of muses, a much-derided/much-copied style, and legit classics to his resume. Surely ‘Blessed’ applies to its editor/director as much as any of his leading dudes, and he is savoring their shared moment — but at 84 minutes, he overextends himself, and there are points where ‘Blessed’ drags despite its adherence to a more classical part-part-part structure. Despite all its montages and occasional interludes, ‘Cherry’ kept things moving for a fairly brisk 40 minutes. Here, you’re watching screwed footage of Ben Kadow on a light-up wheeled cruiser for 40 seconds, or waiting as la smoke curls for the duration of Jason Dill’s ‘Trilogy’ part. There’s a lengthy EMB session capturing the crew’s chemistry, but it gets you wondering whether Bill Strobeck’s real aim is to memorialize and immortalize two years of these Supreme kids collectively ‘in the window,’ traveling the world, wearing expensive clothing pieces, and living their best lifes before the vagaries of adulthood encroach — versus constructing a more functional, digestable skate video. His filming, reliably aped here and there by Johnny Wilson, in some cases only obscures any perspective of the trick or spot at hand. There are Madinna and Motley Crue singles, incongruously.

Wave aside for a moment though what ‘Blessed’ is, or is not, and instead slow-mo pan across what it says — at a time when Instagram, Youtube and other FAANG-funded suspects are meant to have brutalized attention spans and left the full-length skate video for dead, we arrive at the end of 2018 with a bushelful of projects, some ranking among the decade’s most vital. Quasi, Polar, Bronze, GX1000, Element, Foundation, Primitive, Alltimers, Cons, Vans, Girl and Transworld all put out meaty and worthwhile video releases this year; even Etnies saw fit to offer its first in 23 years. The bloat of ‘Blessed’ itself can be celebrated, in that its frenetically collabing, billion-dollar benefactors believe in not just the concept of an hour-plus vid but will support the dude with the vision. Years after ‘Pretty Sweet,’ ‘Stay Gold,’ ‘Fully Flared’ and other big-ticket productions were declared in sotto vice to variously be ‘tha last video ever,’ a bumper crop of great videos, worth revisiting as a whole or in parts — the opening Portland tear in ‘We Blew It,’ Jake Johnson’s uphill roof flip for Converse, Buggy Talls’ switch 180 manual impossible out on the big block in ‘Its Time,’ Jeff Carlyle’s vein-pumping arms-down descents in ‘Roll Up,’ etc — suggest a new gilded age of skate videos at hand.

With internet users reportedly cutting back on Facebook pokes and youngsters formulating fewer Tweets, is it too early to declare the World Wide Web ‘totally over’ and with it, mouldering and half-sensical blogging outlets? Would there have been more hugging in the GX video if dudes weren’t moving so fast? Does Sean Pablo’s extended middle finger segment suggest he’s embraced Richard D. James as his next stylistic touchstone? Will Bill Strobeck’s use of ‘Birthday Boy’ boost Ween sufficiently in the skate video music supervision power rankings such that kids next year will soundtrack IG clips to ‘Touch My Tooter’ and ‘Poop Ship Destroyer’?

*Also, weed