Posts Tagged ‘urban decay’

Summer of Bad Vibes

September 5, 2017

Summer’s strength wilts and, seems like before we’re really prepared, darkness steps out. On the world stage, blunt talk of nuclear war; fires rage across the continent; monstrous storms bringing flood, pestilence and misery; and last month, the sun itself blotted out. Steely Dan is permanently fractured with Walter Becker’s death. And tragedy again in skating as beloved dad, bro, lensman and barbecue grandmaster P-Stone is lost to a car wreck, the driver Girl’s Cory Kennedy, booked on a 0.10 DWI charge, and carrying this burden for the rest of his life.

What else? The Ride Channel, that once-churning aggregation portal that Quartersnacks perceptively pegged as a HiphopDX for skating, is itself deteriorating — adding items of varied relevance now just in fits and starts, and in a troubling suggestion of early-stage dementia, each day posing to its pensive visitors the same question: Why Isn’t Chicago a Bigger Deal in Skateboarding?

Mike Munzenrider’s dutifully researched feature offered a range of answers — weather, cops, general not-giving-a-shitness — and these may well be. Does Chicago need to be a bigger deal in skateboarding? Chaz Ortiz, when he’s not buying out the bar with high-level mages, seems to be making a mighty effort to reclaim and elevate the greater metro area that set him on the path to X-Games glory, while making restitution for Trueride-flavored lines like this. But even in his most powerful Diamond t-shirt, Chaz Ortiz can’t carry 2.7 million souls on his back alone — Chicago’s been second, third, whateverth too long, plenty grimy but too Midwest to chart with the cellar-door-turned-bump-to-bar-wallride pro contingent that gravitates toward East Coast crust. In Chicago, crime wars fill the streets with dead children and the money always seems to be running out.

Not that the town has no talent. But it’s on some other shit. ‘Realm,’ the latest in a string of increasingly gnarly videos from Chicago’s Deep Dish collective, opens on a bombed-out husk of a city shot through with militarism on the march and authority’s heavy hand always just beyond the frame. The skating happens in the shadow of architectural marvels and across crumbling foundations, by streetlight and under those battleship-gray skies. CJ Kelly draws night lines down the block that go on forever, his noseblunts and wallrides bumping off poles and fences. Nico Rizzo tosses a nutty manual to no-comply down some steps, DJ Plummer scrapes off sparks and Mason Barnard whirls one of the crazier manual tricks in some while on a fat marble bench. It is wildly panted Brett Weinstein who breaks the knob off though, bigspinning both ways up an industrial-strength Euro gap, popping tricks over puddles, backside lipsliding up and through viaduct crust and, at the end, climbing up and down through the bowels of the Chase building to unload a pile of lines. This dude hits some minor-key harmony between Gino ledge tricks and the going transfixation on wallies and varial flips, and gets in one of the crazier transfer ollies since that kid jumped out to Jason Dill’s ender block.

Probe deeper though and you come to Chicago’s Ssquirted collective, which has been making videos for five or six years now that seem geared to disorient and abrade, placing viewers inside dimly lit rooms where stuffed animals are ominously scattered, and weirdly costumed characters preen just out of focus. In vids like hoEphase and this year’s bracing ‘PSYKO’ and ‘bLoWiE BuNnY’, voices get pitched down, skate footage slowly rotates and threats of violence and occult imagery fade in and out. A lot of stuff drips. The tricks blur between all this like one of those dreams where you can land everything until your grip loosens and the lights go out and you find yourself with blood-drenched hands clawing at your board.

Are the dissonant and sometimes harsh vibes out of Chicago the right ones for skating at this summer’s jarring end? Will these harsh and forbidding vids pull more people to skate Chicago or keep them away? Did Darkstar anticipate some of this doom and pathos when resurrecting its unoly knights? What’s next?

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Roberto Puleo, Dear Leader And Skate Spot Colonialism In The Video Age

February 26, 2011

Two things got me excited to load up and sit down for the 35-minute entirety of this Converse China video a while back — watching a carful of bros I’ve never heard of embark on a cross-country shred vacation through a spot on the globe that’s sort of a blur for me. There’s a vicarious sorta thrill to be drawn from vids filmed in far-flung corners of the earth that you’re not likely to visit or have board to hand if you do — new and weird cityscapes harbouring giddy potential in wide-open plazas with lemony fresh ledges, cement that waves and curls, befuddled cops that keep moving, etc. There were reasons besides Luy Pa-Sin and Alex Carolino and JB Gillett that I watched “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” so many times even in spite of that Kool Shen song.

Trick-wise the “Ni” video is short on your after-black hammers but watching them rail it from town to town and dig into spots like that ice-slick bank at 14:30 or the QP buffet at 30:30 gets the wheels turning when you wonder what else is lying around that 3.7 million square miles, where fishing villages get juiced into 10 million-bro metropoli over the course of a couple decades. All of which can turn quick into tongue-clucking and head-shaking with China’s foothold as the new Barcelona finding our West Coast video heroes jetting halfway around the world to eat at train station McDonalds and film clips at the same dozen or so spots. One particular bummer is that the spot-as-trick-benchmark means that the pros can get over k-grinding a previously unseen hubba that may or may not have seen the same move from a local years before, while those dudes’ own video parts end up Youtube fodder, absent “Night Prowler”-type productions that splash on the overseas radars.

Bobby Puleo, among the more spot-minded people out there, touches on this topic briefly in a enjoyably rambling/ranting interview that went up on his site last month.

“I do know a lot of people go and film their parts in far off places like China and Europe instead of trying to find their own shit in the places they actually live in or operate in. It seems like a lot of kids just simply don’t use their intellect or imaginations enough any more.”

Puleo’s stance is heavily defensive toward his home turf of New York and the rugged/gritty/urban brand it now carries thanks in no small part to his own efforts to highlight that aesthetic, alongside other like-minded bros such as Josh Stewart, Ricky Oyola, Chris Mulhern, Kevin Coakley, sometimes Jason Dill, etc. California kids carpetbagging their way through Manhattan in a bid to offset palm trees and concrete transition raise the hackles of jaded/bearded ones such as Puleo, who I personally would put on the far end of the spot spectrum from those who might hop a plane to film manual tricks several time zones over — fetishizing spots/surroundings to the point that the trick itself is like an afterthought or even a distraction from the attractively deteriorating warehouses or bridge-pilings, catching the smog-tinted sunset rays just so. Ricky Oyola, who interviewed Puleo, at one point seems to suggest this:

“I know nowadays, it looks like kids try too hard to find those type of spots, I think it comes out looking contrived most times.”

Puleo soon resumes his attack on VX-bearing career-builders trampling all over his town, but I think Oyola has a point here — there’s a clip in “This Time Tomorrow,” a generally totally awesome movie, where (I think) a dude ollies up one curb, then another one quickly, then has to make a tight turn and hops up on a rail to do a frontside boardslide down, like, four stairs. Hard, yes, could I do it, probably definitely no way, but there are hard questions you ask yourself when allotting video-part real estate and with a certain subset of skating very much shaped by aesthetics-minded landmarks like “Static 2” it’s clear that sometimes the clip is more about the spot than whatever trick happens to go down there.

And we now flip open last month’s Transworld, or alternately click here, to witness the ongoing fruits of a career built partly on this idea — Kenny Reed 360 flipping in North gosh-darn-it Korea, a jurisdiction with enough mystique and cache and well-fed military personnel such that the bar is lowered to the point that a flatground trick earns full-page photo status. A more exotic riff on an idea that still plays at home, which is when you’ve got a brand-new rail it doesn’t matter that Mark Appleyard kickflip backside tailslide bigspinned out on some other rail 10 years ago, because the slate is clean and a veteran pro can get in his frontside crooked grind or backside 5-0 before the amateurs come along and fuck it all up by kickflipping into everything, or worse, going up it.

Which is maybe one way long-suffering photogs could help make rent every month — hoarding the latitude and longitude of virgin spots and holding out for the highest bids put forth by dudes needing to justify royalties from their sixth pro sneaker. Style points on a backside smith grind go further when you’re not standing in the shadow of last month’s nollie backside noseblunt and if the message boards are paying attention said pro could possibly even add “spot seeker” to his online rep. Maybe people already are doing this?