Posts Tagged ‘Zoo York’

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 7 — Aquil Brathwaite, ‘Vicious Cycle’

July 6, 2019

Ignore for a minute the incongruity that goes with soundtracking an East Coast kid in an East Coast vid to ‘California Soul’ — in its way it functions as a leading indicator of Zoo’s geographical and mercantile wanderings under the ‘00s Ecko regime. Like all things summertime it’s really about the vibe. Aquil Brathwaite stepped out as a young charger with bottomless energy for snapping trick after trick across pretty much all the media-friendly New York spots going at the time and then some, pushing and pushing and popping something new with the same cocktail of freewheeling ability and youthful exhuberance brought by ‘WHL’-era PJ Ladd and ‘Trilogy’-era Lavar McBride. Maybe fitting for a dude whose most memorable footage came on his arrival, Aquil Brathwaite’s powers at the time were such that he avoided little-kid style even on certified little-kid tricks like the varial flip, and this section remains a document for all seeking truth in switch ollies, kickflip backside 5-0s and hardflip backside 180s.

Summertime Mixtape Vol. 3 – Lurker Lou ‘Vicious Cycle’

July 4, 2015


Among the many Zoo-affiliated video projects percolating in the years around the turn of the century, ‘Vicious Cycle’ held weight not just for its function as a vehicle for Zered Bassett, one of the best dudes working at the time off any of this world’s seaboards, but also as a generation-shifting document for certain dudes transitioning to old head status such as Vinny Ponte and Robbie Gangemi, and the ever present young bucks making meals from the New York spot churn, like Aquil Braithwaite, Brian Brown, Eli Reed and a young feeble grinder going by Lurker. Opting to reserve the heavy pyrotechnics for later on, ‘Vicious Cycle’ alots opener duties to Lurker Lou as he strings together numerous and solid tricks in meandering runs with some crouch-surfer landings, scrapping his way across much of the town’s serviceable terrain mix — for some citizens this would be a mellow season saturated in Etnies Raps and gently blaring horns, and perhaps a final gasp of innocence before Lurker Lou singlehandedly would go on to pursue various subcareers ranging from 411-venerating board developer, Osiris legacy-ponderer to ruining skating forevermore.

Tha Agony and Tha Ecstasy

May 31, 2015

TrillFam

For all the mumblings of Peter Pan syndrome and deferred adulthood attached to pro-level boarding careers and various man-amhoods, such pursuits are not built for the emotionally unhinged: Marking one’s day-to-day progress by recording hard-fought clips destined to be trimmed to a few seconds each and pasted into a Thrashermagazine.com web-video in a couple years’ time, clinging to fleeting victories during which a hammer is performed, landed and hand-on-death-lens marked, then past, perchance to plow through a 30-pack and next week try for another one. Anthony Van Engelen speaks of grappling with emotional voids after completing big video projects, and witness the deep valleys leading to an uncertain but undeniably triumphant peak in Jamie Thomas’ cold war with the not-long-for-this-world Clipper ledge.

Love/hate relations betwixt bros and boards are to be understood and forcibly massaged when circumstances demand. But what of those emotional snake-runs entangling teamriders and sponsors, which have taken to marketing themselves as families and brotherhoods? Chris Cole and his new Plan B family exhibited their unbridled giddiness upon his joining the ‘Tru’ Tank this month, cheesing and fist-pumping and committing various spelling transgressions as the onetime Zero heavyweight apparently shelved any plans to market decks on his own and instead chose to endorse monocoloured boards with skulls and guitars manufactured by another company.

It’s hard to imagine the Black Box camp not feeling some type of way after clicking on this clip, given Zero’s role plucking Chris Cole from the World camp and providing a hard-rocking hessian launchpad for the next dozen years of his career; to boot, Chris Cole just a year before seemed to identify with Paul Rodriguez’ abrupt flying of the Plan B coop as a cue to carve out one’s own deck-centric microbrand: “I think at some point Paul figured out it wasn’t about Plan B selling Paul Rodriguez skateboards anymore, it was about him selling Plan B, and that’s the point where you start to realize you could be doing something more.”

Any career-minded gnar merchant gathers a certain amount of lumps along the road, and Jamie Thomas like other pros-turned-entrepreneurs signed up for an extra helping by starting his own companies and seeing dudes he put on later pack up and leave. But Zero proved to be one of the relatively few sellers of skate goods to not only publicly acknowledge the departure of a team lynchpin in Chris Cole, but go so far as to post a brief retrospective video and wish him well.

Few others do — Brandon Westgate’s decision in April to join the Element family after seven years holding down the Zoo York family passed with little notice on Zoo York’s Instagram. Gino Iannucci’s Slap board-shaking jump to Fucking Awesome just shy of 19 years as a red block head drew nary an official peep from the Crailtap camp, though months later his former teammates can’t finish interviews without being asked about it. Whereas Mic-E Reyes headbutt sendoffs now rank as just another hallowed memory of 1990s realness and sour jpgs are a Web 1.0-ready if rarely utilized substitute, the default seems to have become an Orwellian electronic eraser applied to the team webpage, removal of the defector from relevant social media hype circles and moving on.

Like insurance and the signing of openly gay athletes, is skateboarding again in danger of being outpaced by major-league sports when it comes to acknowledging contributions from longstanding-but-departing riders? The Seattle Mariners deployed a warm statement of gratitude when outfielder Ichiro Suzuki bounced after more than a decade on the squad, and later publicly big upped him when he got his 4000th hit playing for the Yankees.

Besides agreed-upon stacks of legal tenders, what if anything do companies owe their independent contractors who toil atop handrails and within ditches in the name of endorsement deals? In Alien Workshop’s ultimately transient dissolution last year, some of the then-remaining abductees seem to have received no official word of the shutdown at all, much less any word of thanks:

Jake Johnson: It’s a strange one. Nobody said good bye. Mike Hill didn’t throw in the towel. It’s strange. It was on the internet.

Omar Salazar: I never spoke to anyone. No one ever called me, I’m just like, who is running this thing? They got rid of the only dude who I was talking to [Chad] who told me to stick around. And that’s how you get rid of people after all these years? I was bummed and then got hurt.. But no phonecall. No Rob Dyrdek phonecall… I mean jesus, who are you, man? I thought we were homies, bro [laughs]. Just kidding. Whatever.
…And I still haven’t got a paycheck like, oh, here you go, thanks for your time. Cause I could sure as hell use that for my medical bill right now. Thats all I gotta say about that.

Should the resurfaced Alien Workshop, now promoting a new tribe, offer some parting nod to the former pros who hung on til the bitter end? Did Rocco write the former sponsors of riders he stole publish thank-you notes, or rather did he demand such sponsors publicly acknowledge the service of their former riders for purposes of free promotion? Do digital thank-you notes count? What is the Instagram equivalent of a dismissal-by-headbutt?

1. Brandon Westgate – ‘Made’

December 31, 2013


Beyond upping the previous bro’s ante with another couple stairs or a kickflip onto the rail, or stringing out lines to Stevie Williams-level length, Brandon Westgate in Emerica’s ‘Made’ video stayed stretching the boundaries of what seems plausible on a board with one of the more open minds working today. The SF hills keep luring him back with risky promises of driveways and front walks over which to blast tricks and suffer spills, just some crew-cutted kid in a sweater and jeans who these days happens to be carrying the Zoo legacy on his back. Brandon Westgate steps to chest-high rails and conducts thruster ollies over poles using legs infused with magnesium cores to help him grasp ultimate power, and increasingly it seems like he’s perfected his flip tricks also. If you were going to sit down and draw up a list of the craziest clips all year and had to pick one from this section, the strongest case could be made for the family-friendly tow job to the nation’s stoutest loading dock, one of those feats that grows gnarlier still as he cruises away and the thing towers over him.

Head Cleaner

October 7, 2012

Probably it’s a good thing that after a half-decade’s worth of footwear purveyours collectively issuing the same half-dozen models adorned with various logos, and the seven-ply hot dog holding sway for at least three times that long, it is a plus that a subculture stretched thin by recession and embracing a certain amount of commoditization retains enough crankiness and spark to gnash message-board teeth over perceived biting. And so it is that we take heart in the internet tizzy fermented by the debut of Politic, which devotees of the “Static II” aesthetic immediately scrutinized over similarities to UK phenom Palace, what with their comparable names, repurposing of analog video machines, and triangular logos that come on t-shirts with a little version over the left breast zone and a big version on the back.

Some may call it ironic that for a subset whose pride in cellar doors, wallies, natural and/or abrupt transition and certain other unconventional landforms got it pasted as “creative” here and there now seems clearly to be eating its own tail, but there’s potentially a murkier kind of food chain being linked together here.* Palace came in for accolades from this and other quarters when it emerged as a synthesis of Silverstar, Illuminati and “Time Code” era AWS, transplanted to overcast U.K. backwaters and dubbed over on VHS tape. Politic’s initial look cribs from the same playbook and you could read in some nods to Blueprint circa “Lost & Found.” But whereas Palace a year or two into its run dialed the nostalgia-meter back to 1995 with a big, sloppy kiss to the Menace segment in “20-Shot Sequence,” Politic may be trying not to join Palace but to beat them in their golden-age tribute-payments, its supposed take-off on Palace itself a take-off on the World-led wave of logo swipes that pervaded the early 90s?

The invisible hand of the free market will determine whether domestic and international consumers will catch feelings over this episode, embiggen their hearts to allow room for competition in the subgroup or ultimately cast both into the vast sale pile that sits below the deck wall in the skate shop of the great beyond. What is not up for debate is that Steve Durante seemingly has a long-overdue professional model and the lure of new footage, in these longer and colder autumn days, that right there is enough to warm the cockles of even the most cold-hearted capitalist.

*Others would challenge this statement and say that the staters don’t have a good grasp on the actual definition of ironic, driving additional unique visitors to Dictionary.com.

Diced Pineapples II

September 3, 2012

Taking another run at this as the prior attempt to lay out this idea didn’t get all the way there and, lord knows Maybach Music Group isn’t afraid to go back to the well.

The thinking was, has somebody done a wallride (90-degree wall, off a flat surface/sidewalk/etc) and then grinded (say a 50-50 or 5-0) the top of the wall, with wheels remaining generally in the wallride position? The Jordan Sanchez, Stefan Janoski and Silas ones referenced in the previous episode of ‘Diced Pineapples’ all involve a bank up to the wall, gnarly though they all be. The Forest Kirby one is pretty close, and very gnarly indeed, but had been visualizing more like a grind that locks in briefly on a square ledge. Danny Sargent’s in 1281 and the bro in the ‘Welcome to Hell’ friends section both kind of end up transitioning to the top of the ledge, I’m thinking more sitting sideways.

This dude is on my wavelength: “… a normal bs crooked grind could be an unnormal fs nosegrind. daewon could probably do it …”

Thinking like the Jake Johnson pic above, except if his trucks were about eight inches higher, scratching at the top of the wall. Thanks for bearing with me yall

3. Brandon Westgate – Emerica Part

December 28, 2011

Ancient cavemen surfers were known to coin a phrase, which went something like “when you catch a wave, ride it as long as you can.” Flip knew it, Plan B knew it, Powell for a while knew it and now Bay Stater Brandon Westgate. These past couple years Westgate caught a hell of a wave that may or may not have crested yet, depending on his next moves and how you personally rank homestyle hammers such as tiling a bathroom. For a few different reasons I responded more to this Emerica part released just three or four months past his vast and crushing opener for the “Stay Gold” vid, maybe because it was shorter, more condensed and potent, maybe just because of the last trick. He’s still got his teeth sunk into the San Francisco hills and I think this is some of the most impressive skateboardering this year from a physics perspective, partly cuz you never see a car or motorcycle pulling him up to those bump/bars. Also do we agree at this point to elevate the 360 flip over the bar to the Hall of Kings where it can sit alongside Josh Kalis’ one at the end of “Photosynthesis”?

Title TK

June 22, 2011

Even without flipping it over and looking for the little logo you could probably tell skateboarding bears a “made in America” seal just because of the tendency towards overkill. Big pants/small wheels, goofy boys, paint-on pants, substance abuse, stair counts, ledge combos, the personas of Alva, Muska, Mike Plumb, et cetera. The mega ramp. You have your top dogs specific to a certain latitude/longitude as the pendulum swings this way or that, for instance Ron Knigge or Josh Kasper or Ray Underhill, and then what turn out to be the more longview types that might rise up during one era or another but don’t wind up being defined by it and find ways to roll with whatever’s going at the moment, say Carroll, Daewon Song, Jason Dill, Grant Taylor — Mark Gonzales. Like, there may be more technically skilled or bigger-balled dudes going at any one point, but if you’re watching “the Storm,” you’ve got Jerry Hsu on one hand and Scott Paezelt on another.

All of which is a typically long-winded way of coping with a melting of mind following a couple watches of Eli Reed’s entry in the X-Games “real street” competition, a minute-long clip that’s a little gratuitous as far as including a couple magazine cover clips and some of the more original (versus “creative”) tricks to come along in a good while. If I was, heaven forfend, a judge on “America’s Next Top Flow Bro” I would formulate some sound bite to the effect that Eli Reed has a “point of view.” Like, who’s doing nollie bonelesses on name hubbas? Switch backside 360 manual? I’m sure there are some “Forecast” seeds that have pulled similar 360-flip nosegrinds and switch bigspin flips but a key difference is that this dude’s method has that appealing stink on it. Switch k-grind for the 90s dudes and wise use of the big switch ollie, which also helped get me onboard with Mikey Taylor during the City Stars days. A minute long and this is easily one of the best sections all year, I hope he gets the $50k or whatever it is.

Is Brandon Westgate’s New Emerica Video The Career Equivalent Of Ollieing Over The Back Of A Rail And Grinding It Uphill? Switch??

January 19, 2011

Now that everybody can do all tricks and caballerial kickflips are a prerequisite for post-roshambo strategy I kind of have no idea whether restraint as a concept is still in play. Probably not the time or the place to have the conversation about whether or not the bro going for the kickflip frontside blunt down the park handrail can do it consistently on a curb but maybe there’s some similar elements. Pretty sure that Spiderman explored some related themes of power and responsibility in his new off-broadway production, I think it’s called “U Do U And I’ll Do Me: Turn Off The Dark While I File This Workman’s Comp Claim On U” or something.

Speaking of responsibilities young Zoo Yorker Brandon Westgate has professionally designed footwear to sell and name recognition to build ahead of a potential retirement gig as an “extremely” informed home renovation specialist on HGTVX. Your more seasoned pro might get his companies to pony up for a mini-ramp jam in a strip club and let the blurred web-only footage do the heavy lifting, but instead you’ve got handyman Westgate continuing to push the old boulder uphill with a whole new video section after an teeth-rattling entry in the Emerica vid a couple months ago.

To me this one’s way better — half the length and zeroes in on the more dramatic aspects of his skating, bombing down those San Francisco hills like he’s riding a snowboard* and the ungodly pop up onto some of those bars. The run where he 50-50s the fence off of the sidewalk bump is the kind of clip you want to watch every day, all the time, one of those little slices of what skating is perfectly captured on a digital video-making machine. The nagging reservations I harboured around his sort-of weird-looking flip tricks in the past are basically washed away here with not a lot of complex moves — Quartersnacks and Platinum Seagulls are riding for the giant kickflip but over here I’m promoting the 360 flip over the rail that seems like a totally ridiculously long distance to launch that particular trick. Later on the ender quietly asks the world at large how much better they can do with the up-rail movement in 2011, the answer could be some time coming.

*in a good way, dudes

4. Eli Reed – “Zoo York State of Mind”

December 27, 2009

Eli Reed switch kickflipped into New York’s courthouse bank in a display of sexual prowess that earned him his choice of mates and long-delayed professional status from the Zoo board of directors late this year. Fate sometimes seems to align against this dude, what with whoever was in charge over there sandbagging his part with BTO’s ode to the union movement, and the faintly snarky way people keep bringing up that amazing Celtics outfit he used to rock. Not to be that guy, but the ollie up the curb at the beginning of the part is sort of beautiful, and you can’t hold down someone who’s intent on nollie nosemanualing into a crazy bank and then switch ollieing into a second bank that also is crazy. One of the great things about this part and Eli Reed in general is that he’s all over the place in more ways than one (switch bigspin flip nose manual, hardflip manual on that banked ledge), and here’s hoping he has some shit in that new Converse/Thrasher vid which I have not yet seen so we’re counting it for next year’s tiresome list-making, FYI.