“Blessed be the ties that bind,” the good book says, referring to the festive ties donned by Medieval lords on the occasions of their weddings to matrons true of virtue and plump of size, who in turn wore flowery gowns and pointed hats in keeping with the custom of the time. The old saying however also could equally apply to the metaphorical plastic zip-ties that once bound the international skateboard community as tightly as the wrists of a newly gagged hostage, but now have been stretched, frayed and slicked with blood after a 20-year ride in a darkened trunk, bumping through energy drink-sponsored contest spectacles, international footwear investment and reality television seasons.
In this brave and bawdy 2017, year of the Rooster, what can draw together late-90s puffy-tongued plaza revivalists with mega-ramping park prodigies and their pastel-draped, body-varialing brethren? Time was, a big video could command the culture’s attention through months of ‘coming soon’ magazine adverts, a few carefully blown deadlines and a riot-inducing premiere. But ‘event’ vids increasingly have become the domain of the major shoe company, and that cupboard looks increasingly barren as Nike, Adidas, Emerica and Vans all have shot their respective full-length wads over the last two years, with mixed results; nearly all now seem to have sworn off the sort of hourlong teamrider-wrangling that takes years and increasingly seldomly stands up under colossal expectations erected with promotional hashtags, tossed-off teaser clips, and internet punditry.
Foundation last week premiered the latest entry into one of history’s stalwart video legacies, ranging from ‘Supercollider Superconductor’ to ‘Rolling Thunder’ to ‘Art Bars’ and ‘That’s Life’ – a heavy underdog narrative was built into the roll-out, including teamriders funding their own trips and pay whittled down to board royalties, making one wonder whether ‘Oddity’ should get you psyched on this latest iteration of the magic F or just hope these legitimately gnarly dudes find themselves a better deal. Ahead lies Transworld’s ‘Riddles in Mathematics,’ extending another beloved video dynasty with a knockout lineup and a GZA-cribbing title, helmed by Chris Theissen, whose Bordeaux-sipping extreme close-up techniques in last year’s ‘Substance’ bypassed perspective and boosted Dramamine sales. The majorest upcoming video may be Lakai’s ‘Flare,’ though with only four names remaining from the decade-ago (!) ‘Fully Flared’ lineup after former pro-model flarees succumbed to the gravitational pull of Nike, Adidas and old age, and much riding on emergent hot shoes such as Tyler Pacheco, Simon Banerot and Cody Chapman, it seems as much a reboot as anything — though the droney zooms and slick panning activity characterizing recently departed flare pilot Daniel Espinoza’s Royal Trucks part, assumed repurposed from his Lakai footage, looks very much prettier/sweeter versus any type of filmographic departures in the Federico Vitetta era.
After witnessing the coming-togetherness spurred by Brian Anderson’s coming out, Dylan Rieder’s death and earlier, John Cardiel’s ‘Epicly Laterd,’ are skating’s shared cultural events leaning less on videos and contests and more on personal narratives like SOTY? Can ‘Sabotage5’ transcend the tragedy of Love Park’s demise or only leave lingering questions as to what the fuck Philadelphia was thinking, and how did the resurrecting Alien Workshop not get behind a group of dudes so heavily infatuated with one of the Sovereign Sect’s most enduring heydays? Will Palace ever get around to doing a ‘proper’ video or are their mixtape-style releases like last year’s ‘V Nice’ so good they needn’t bother? Is Birdhouse gonna take another run at video history with Jason Hernandez behind the lens? Will Danny Way’s now 2-year-overdue video part ever drop or will Bob Burnquist come with another project that pushes it back again? Hasn’t it kind of been a long time since Krooked made a video?