Posts Tagged ‘T-Pain’

Lizard King Is Probably the T-Pain of Skateboarding

May 12, 2009


Not Lizard King or T-Pain, or even Billy Gibbons

Back in 2001, when George Bush Jr’s ratings rode high in the saddle, pro deck sales were still on the upswing and PJ Ladd was wrapping up a game-altering East Coast shop video part, plucky softgoods concern Planet Earth released the largely overlooked “F.O.R.E. and Friends,” a city-hopping video that brought together the likes of Kenny Anderson, Felix and a young Terry Kennedy to celebrate the rising star of Forrest Kirby, who at the time occupied a place in skateboarding where he basically was like everybody’s lovable little brother. Whether donning a doo-rag or skidding banger noseblunts, FORE was down with everybody and stood poised to take his place amongst top-ranked professional athletes everywhere, before stepping back to attend CCD and pen Christian memoirs.

As you can imagine we live in less innocent times nowadays. Usama bin Laden remains at large; 50 Cent is having problems selling CDs of his music and snitches roam the streets. Yet some things are not so different. Dustin Dollin remains a glorious mess for instance. Varial kickflips are still better left alone unless you are Brian Anderson. Whereas we once had Nate Dogg, we now obey the robot voice of Teddy Pendergrass, and while skateboarding once ruffled the hair of a towheaded kid from San Antonio, in 2009 everyone wants to be down with the Satan worshippin’, razorblade abusin’, crazy-eyed rail/gap/other killa Mike Plumb.

And just as T-Pain took the stage at the Grammy awards and beseeched award-winning artists everywhere to hit him on the hip for collaborative art pursuits, Lizard King seems eager to get down with anyone and everyone possible — his journey from a one-foot backside lipsliding amateur contest oddity sponsored by Think has brought him into the house of Reynolds, and more recently he’s spreading the endorsement love amongst entities including but not limited to Jake Brown and Sean Sheffey’s not-sure-if-it’s-real-or-not clothing venture “Laced” and, ah, DC Shoes? Lizard King’s three-ring circus is such that I’m not sure what to believe anymore, what is true and what is just bleary-eyed delusion.

Other traits shared with T-Pain: a nonsensical nickname, a penchant for outlandish behavior that might be really annoying in other people, a proficiency at getting laid despite goonish looks (I’m assuming), and they’re both friends with people who have tattoos on their face.

A healthy work ethic and the big-tent approach has worked for T-Pain, just as it has served Lizard King well. And despite the media ubiquity of both it’s hard not to root for them. They are too tirelessly and exuberantly weird to root against, neither seems to take hisself too serious, and for the most part it wouldn’t do any good anyway. In closing, if Mike Plumb contributes an autotune hook to a JR rap song you all owe me $1000.

*who had yet to learn bluntslides from Stevie Williams

Nants Ingonyama Bagithi Baba

February 13, 2009


What happened to that boy

As Sir Elton John famously sang through the mouth of an orphaned cartoon lion, the circle of life is evident in all things, even or perhaps especially the Alien Workshop skate video. New careers are launched, even as others film a handful of low-impact ledge lines on their way toward that inevitable twilight. We could jawbone about professional obligations and numerically stack pro model shoes against tricks in the video, but that won’t get us any further than a Brian Wenning alphabet ledge trick (to keep it vintage DNA for ya’ll) so let’s focus on some of the “Mind Field” veterans who, ahem, showed up for work.

In Jason Dill of course we have somebody who’s been in the skateboarding business for about two-thirds of his life and has actively given a shit about his contribution to the whole ball of wax for at least half that time, if not longer, little shit status notwithstanding. He cares to the point of calling people out on shit that the rest of us would probably let slide, or at least silently simmer until some drunken industry function spills onto a post-bartime sidewalk; he seems to have a very definite idea of what skateboarding can be and puts no small amount of consideration into what he does, how he does it and when. Whether it’s lifestyle factors or some new less-is-more inclination (which I can get down with to some extent) Jason Dill’s video parts and coverage in general have gotten more spare in the last few years, putting whatever tricks he has into sharper relief – I think I like his “Mind Field” part better than his shit in the DVS video, if nothing else because there a noticeable absence of Cass McCombs droning, but also due to the fact that he seems like he was going for it a little more on this one. Clarity of vision, or the whole trying-harder-for-the-Alien-dudes thing. Lots of feeble grinds in uncomfortable places, updating the Photo-era 180 to 5-0 sequences to contemporary abrupt transition spots* and generally weirding up Pappalardo’s non-Flare minimalism. I want to believe there’s some deeper symbolism behind letting the phone float away at the end of the section. Something to do with Chris Carter taping him, right? Or maybe he lost his phone?

For Josh Kalis it seems simpler – he’s laid out his philosophy of professional-grade skating several times, likening it to a ladder, or staircase to heaven, or, god help us, a 12-step program. First you get the flow… then you get the pro board… then you get the women. Or, shoe deal. Pro model shoe. Video game. Reality show (or not). Like that. Learn new tricks along the way, take the tricks you know to different spots, do them faster. Not real complex. At this late stage in the game Kalis probably could get over cycling through tricks from parts that Kids Today haven’t even seen (kickflip noseblunt/411 Alien industry section, frontside flip nosegrind/411, switch backside noseblunt/”Sixth Sense”) peppered with the usual 360 flips, switch backside tailslides and so on, but darn it if he doesn’t keep on trying. He’s been talking up the possibilities of the bigspin for years but really pushes it in “Mind Field,” with fairly dazzling results, and when he turns up the heat after Marquise Henry’s cameo the general badassness of the entire affair makes it easier to overlook how some of his tricks don’t flip as fast as they once did, and how the classic eagle swoop form is missing more often than not. But with all the bigspin tricks, the taller-than-a-building switch backside flip, the 360 flip off the Barcelona bump, this might be the best Kalis part of the white cap era. And he’ll have more of course.

Anthony Van Engelen, I have no clue whether he thinks in these terms or not – you want to think his skating is totally visceral and from the gut, the way it translates on video, an idea (or not) and then a full-speed charge. But who knows. He does seem to have gone through some shit during his years in the wilderness, so maybe he’s been plotting, but his new voracious appetite for big rails and off-the-wall tricks (I’m thinking like the fakie f/s 50-50, and the spin-around ledge stuff) kind of seems like he’s shooting first and asking questions later when it comes to mapping this stuff out. I’m not sure if this time around quite matches the platinum standard AVE set with his blazing debut in “Photosynthesis” or the refined and elevated “DC Video” part, time will be the judge I guess, but it’s awesome to see him so hungry again. Depending on the day, this is one of my favorite three parts in the video. That fuckin’ switch frontside noseslide. Ollies straight onto rails = the new nosegrind pop-outs.

*I enjoy the phrase “abrupt transition” and plan to use it often – thanks Deer Man of Dark Woods

Working For the Weekend

November 28, 2008


Ain’t trickin if you got it

If I had a nickel for every skateboarder done wrong by the industry I could probably save deck merchants from the scourge of blank boards, bail out PacSun and have enough left over to take Dave Duncan and Fred Gall out for buffalo wings (not even on 5 cent night). However, on rare instances I get to wondering what’s lost when the industry effectively closes the door on some former hot shoe’s career, for what are usually pretty subjective reasons. The fickle tides of footwear choice and waistlines, etc.

I got thinking on this recently when two Wisco boys, Brian Emmers and Aaron Snyder, popped up in various media via The Skateboard Mag – Emmers with the pic above in the photo issue and Snyder with this “Mag Minute” video feature a couple weeks ago. While as far as I know neither one’s got any kind of major-league sponsors backing them right now (or anytime since the turn of the century if you don’t count S-One [which maybe I should]), both clearly remain ready and willing to skate up to and possibly beyond current standards. Which is cool from a soul-brah-pure-love-of-skateboarding perspective of course and interesting as far as their willingness to continue pushing their personal trick envelopes.

I’m still a fan of Brian Emmers’ part in Plan B’s “Revolution” and remember being blown away by the nollie cab backside lipslide shove-it out, which still isn’t a trick you see done much at all today. Aside from some style quibbles the part holds up pretty well, as does his contribution to the rag-tag group of misfits Evol video, which anticipates the rise of Brian Wenning minus the Yosiris ender. The question on my mind: in an age where camera-ready park pros wax poetic on their frontside feeble grinds, would Emmers’ “respect the skills” transgression still get him drummed out of the industry?

Likewise, when dudes up to and including a skater of the year can get away with fudging a sequence and Photoshopping is par for the course, you wonder whether Aaron Snyder’s fiasco with the Big Brother sequence would be such a big deal. Spilled milk aside, the dude hasn’t lost many steps with the TSM clip, arm-flappiness on the manual pads aside. His last two tricks are genuinely insane.

Whether these dudes belong back in regular circulation is a question best left to industry dark men and the free market. But I wonder if it bums out pros on the slide or come-up kids, seeing dudes like Snyder and Emmers busting legit stuff on current spots like that. I imagine it’s probably the same way strippers feel when somebody’s drunk girlfriend leaps out of her chair, onto a pole and starts working it for free. Those bags of blow don’t pay for themselves, after all.