August 18, 2015

Top Five TC Wee Park Tricks Ever*

Twin Cities public skateparks have been really quite bad for a long time but that finally seems to be changing. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is finally updating its forgettable skatepark system, lots of far-flung suburbs have their nice and shiny parks, not to mention the Front Street Plaza, St. Paul's most important trump card when it comes to its twin city. It's been a long winter waiting for all of this to come around.

But let's not get it twisted; me, you, we came up skating shitty wee park skateparks. We kind of liked it. Good parks churn out padded children and the all-terrain dudes du jour, while a proper, no-frills wee park creates something much more interesting. They make skaters excel at the awkward--nollie heelflip crooked grinds on round-coping ledges, long grinds on unsuitable quarterpipes, inhuman leaps--things that actually prepare the young and inexperienced for real life in the streets.

We kind of love wee parks. And as the metro slowly creeps into the modern skatepark world, let's not forget from whence we came, forced to do awesome things with the middling tools cities half-assedly gave us. Let us remember the top five TC we park tricks ever, and embrace them.

Darrell Pelton at Shoreview

More than a decade and a half ago (likely 16 years!) Shoreview's freshie Trueride skatepark was one of, if not the only show in town, and people flocked to it from all over. In the course of another life, I've even told the then-presiding/still-current mayor of Shoreview how much we loved that joint. Darrell's move showed up in Midopoly, it was filmed artfully and it is likely the most difficult/well-executed tricks done on those largely 50-50ed across and down ledges that dot the Midwest.

Dan Narloch at St. Anthony

Another of the original parks, St. Anthony's tier 1 spot just received a breath of life after Jammin' Jay and Woody gave it some new sheet metal. The sunken ramps were to the point of nearly un-skateable; now the ancient asphalt is the biggest issue. The channel grind Narloch does must be the envy of everyone who can't sufficiently backside smith anything and generally strains credulity, though its doubtful he knows much better. The Fulton clip this was in is 7-years-old.

Gregg Clover at Elliot Park

MPRB's least miss of a swing, Elliot Park provides the needy with something to skate without having to go to the far-flung reaches of the city. The layout was never anything that anyone who actually skated would think was a good idea, but they've since given it more room to breath. Clover's crooked grind, as seen in Boondoggle, is the wonderful end result of warming up at the same spot way too many times.

Jamiel Nowparvar at SLP

During the final summer of filming for Weekend Warriors we got into the habit of filming until the wee hours of the morning, from which springs the bright idea to film something amazing by lighting up the wee park at midnight. Jamiel did this pretty quickly, of course.

Steve Nesser at Merriam Park

Literally a gorilla fighting a trick in a phone booth, Nesser's frontside ollie is the sort of shit that'd be only a wee park myth if we didn't have the digital proof above. The mind slows as one attempts to understand A) getting speed for that in cage-like Merriam B) hitting the air breaks or whatever for casual re-entry into that landing ramp and C) the hippie jump after:
*I came up with five tricks that I could plausibly find on Youtube, I'd love to know about more.

August 14, 2015

Iota in Oshkosh

A kind commenter dropped this unseen (by me) gem last night. Evidently, 12 years ago, the majority of the Iota Skateboards dudes drove the 200 plus miles to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for what looked like a pretty decent demo. Featuring Brian Heck, Chad Benson, Olu Pratt, Jeremy Reeves and Steve Nesser, along with the Oshkosh locs. Sadly, there's no sound, but archeologists gotta take what they can get, that's a saying. Elsewhere:

Wylie eating a can of tuna

A photo posted by Kevin Horn (@kevin_horn) on

Shit's in the works.

July 30, 2015

Anniversary, Fam?

This Familia 10 year clip went up quietly more than a month ago, as seen at First Ave. New foote begins halfway.

July 25, 2015

Something, something, 'The Wire'

Stoked enough to update the usually languishing website at 11:18 p.m. with a banger, TC hall of famer Jeremy Reeves posted about the above and dared friendsters to, "Just try to find a better part this weekend." You have 24 hours and 42 minutes.

July 23, 2015

Strikes and Gutters

One time Twin Cities skater/resident Steve Johnson, who previously managed the Discontent in Bismarck, is looking at a lengthy prison term following his conviction for selling synthetic marijuana. I heard this one on the radio earlier this week and just put it together today. From the Bismarck Tribune:
The owner of the Discontent chain of skateboard stores, which once included a location in Bismarck, could receive up to 30 years in prison after a South Central District Court jury found him guilty of four counts related to the sale of synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia.

The jury deliberated nearly nine hours over two days in the case against Thomas Teply of Moorhead, Minn., and his employee, former Bismarck Discontent store manager Steven Johnson.

The jury convicted Johnson of three charges: possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver and delivery of synthetic cannabinoids. Johnson was acquitted of three charges, including two counts of conspiracy and one count of delivery of drug paraphernalia.

Johnson could receive up to 25 years in prison.

On a whole entirely lighter note, Boil the Ocean hit us with another banger:
Several skateboarders at New York’s Nike-augmented Lower East Side skatepark, which some advanced internet flunkies already had begun to scour for cracks and weeds and other signals of lax upkeep, expressed confusion toward the commercial.

“Lacrosse, fam?” remarked a bearded driller who gave his name as Skinny Todd.

Longtime skeptics of Nike’s expanding profile and influence in the skateboarding sphere were quick to argue the ad confirmed years-long suspicions that Nike would inevitably pull out of skateboarding at some inopportune moment, leaving certain skaters “high” and various others “dry,” in favor of the more-established legacy sports that require more advanced and expensive shoes and equipment, and where Nike’s technological prowess can draw deeper distinctions between its products and those of rivals — versus pitting its vulcanized soles against those of less deep-pocketed competitors.

“Lacrosse, fam,” said Burt Ballwickey, an artist specializing in dinosaur tattoos who sported a vintage “Don’t Do It” tee to a local bar. “Everybody knew when Nike showed up 15 years ago they wouldn’t stick around when things went south, and now this commercial proves it.”

“And at the end — the football gives the board a final shove, as if to say, ‘the jocks won,'” Ballwickey ranted.

More east metro rumblings:

July 22, 2015

TWITTER DUMP

The guy asked another reporter as she was entering the newspaper building whether it was for lease. She said no, it's a newspaper. The guy, who had a septum piercing and longish hair, regular type build, chatted her up and said he wanted to find a strip mall space for an indoor park. He'd been looking in Mahtomedi as well.

Other stuff:

-Kids turns 20 next month. It was a strange mystery when we were just starting to skate roughly 20 years ago, too.

-Continuing the stream from above, Nthn Cmrn came up with this interview by Pat O'Dell with Harmony Korine. The bit on how his skate upbringing influenced the place and looks of Gummo is pretty good stuff, and his reflections on how violent youth used to/could be were interesting as well. Our little crew made it through our early skate-days without getting beat up for it, but all you needed to see was a truckful of assholes to feel the threat of violence.

-Figuring out how to write about surfing.

-A skater from Ames, Georgie Tsushima, died over the weekend. He was recovering from a brain injury and had just opened a shop the same day he died. There's a memorial jam planned, details in the link.

-Covered kind of a wild prison break/bank robbery last week.

July 10, 2015

Wylie on Elijah

"Our Good Soldier, Elijah Collard"
By Wylie Tueting

I’ve seen many skateboarders in my short life. I don’t know where most of them went, since I never saw them skate again. I don’t doubt that there’s an intriguing account to wherever Tony Lanners or Peter Edge went, or, less locally, to wherever went Colt Cannon or Alex “Trainwreck” Gall. But I haven’t seen anything more of their skating – anywhere, for too long – so I don’t care much to ask. Please forgive me that. Conversely, there are skaters who I met long ago who still skate, for whom I yet sigh, softly, whenever I see where they went – their skating notwithstanding. I’m talking about Dane Vaughn, for example, whose life I can’t help viewing as partially rotten, as much as I try viewing it as superbly American. Please especially forgive me that. As childish as it sounds, I really just wish a skater would resolve to continue to skate, to change as they get older, but not stagnate.

That’s it, and trust me: it sounds “childish” as hell.

But something struck me recently, and I realized I’ve been wishing too long, because there’s been someone – in the streets and at the parks and lurking in the shadows – who’s been skating, filming, and evolving for over a decade. That someone is Elijah Collard.

This piece is about him and his wholesome complexity, so far as I’ve distilled the two. And although parts of this piece may ring like a funeral eulogy, it’ll be better to think of them as echoing like the vaults of the Basilica, in a moment of rebirth. (That’s religiously poetic.) Now let us consider things good from the testament of Elijah.

~~~

Few people ever master anything, but of those who do and skate, even fewer know when enough is enough. Andrew Reynolds has mastered the fs-flip; yet who thrilled but Ryan Gee when he fs-flipped the LOVE gap, numbed in leather? Almost no one, since he did it privately and lazily. On the other hand, sometimes a skater holds mastery over a trick for several years, and finally triumphs by doing it in a special way – right before time snatches it up forever. Such has been the case with Elijah’s nollie fs-boardslide. NFSBS at 2:19

Years later, I can still recall Elijah’s regretting how many times he did the trick in Shitheads Vol. 8 (he did about four), but what no one will ever regret is his doing the trick in Open Iris on the mega-hubba at 3rd Lair. Why so? Because he landed it only once, though it was filmed from two angles, in dim light, which felt right, since he was past his prime, yet was doing an impressive trick on a strange hubba, thus doing a strangely impressive trick, which he did perfectly. Elijah did it totally perfectly. That’s something special, especially since you rarely ever see people do nollie fs-boardslides, no less down a strange hubba. Then again, David Nelson both did the trick and down a strange hubba in DEBRI2; but I hardly register that. David’s felt just different, like he’d been having a good hair-day and had nothing else to agonize over, whereas Elijah’s felt pure, purely natural and perfect and special, which is to say: just masterful.

~~~

...Seven years later and I’m skating the U of M with Jason Katz. I finger a platform-ledge, to ask about it. And a vital revelation about Elijah appears. It began like so:

“Hey! Does anyone ever ollie onto that and manual it?”
Jason answered, “Sure. I’ve manualed it before. I skated it with Elijah last month.”
“What?! You weren’t with Elijah. No one’s seen him in years!”
“No seriously, I was. People see him. He skates, definitely skates. If he didn’t, you wouldn’t hear of any new Roll videos anymore.”
“Wellllll, I guess. But if he’s still skating, then he must be still skating like he does in the Roll videos, which I guess means he’s still in some sort of transformation that I’ve never figured out – because his skating just doesn’t look the way it used to.”
A hard silence, and then –
“He simply got older, had to start skating less. The point’s that he’s still skating.”
And there in those last two sentences, Elijah’s vital revelation appeared before me, loomed obscure for an instant, hovered neutral, then unrolled into its final, lucid form.
It spoke thus: So then . . . the changes wrought in Elijah’s skating over the years – such as his rolling less quickly, landing more loosely, lining for longer, and filming whomever doesn’t mind skating in such a manner too, relatively speaking – were never retrogressions but progressions. Since it takes great bravery and clear-headedness to recognize that with time passing, it may be impossible to be as good as you once were at the activity which you still love, but that the best way to surmount that difficulty – in order to sustain your love – is by modifying your approaches to the activity. Which Elijah did, which showed great strength and clear-headedness. O! indeed so much more strength and clear-headedness than those guys who take their talent and leisure for granted by starting, say, a new board company as primitively entitled as Fucking Awesome, or Primitive...

...Yeah, Elijah’s undoubtedly not one of those guys! And because he isn’t and wasn’t, it lead him to compose ten (that’s two digits) Roll videos, videos which revealed a great diversity of locals and styles, and an even greater diversity of spots – so, so, so, so many spots, spots that people just weren’t skating, regarding seriously, but which we skate now, or at least don’t dismiss. Because ultimate truth be told about the Roll videos: “Even though they weren’t the best presentation of metro skating, they surely were the best documentation of it,” as one Shane Brown recently told me, as the sun hung bronzy over a rough and snaky manual-pad atop a St. Paul plaza. The manual-pad had once been skated, we knew, but by Elijah only. . . .

And so the revelation rolled and rolled – more or less, maybe not exactly – but that’s because it’s still rolling, between past and present, from present to past.

The prophet’s great lesson had been deciphered in the middle hour. Gratitude was born from it, and gratitude has since reigned.

~~~

Not all things in skateboarding can be that sublime. Some things about it are tiring, if not awful, stirring up tricky feelings of hate. For example, I hate Jim Greco’s contemporary clothing (which tends to be awful) about as much as I hate each time an older skater pines for (which gets tiring) how “raw and perfect” skating in the 1990s was. And what’s tricky is that Greco is exactly the type to pine in such a way, so let’s just stop thinking about Greco. Yet let’s begin to conclude by thinking about specific clothing: Elijah’s older clothing.

To do so, we must first remember that there was once a metro clothing company called Supernatural. It had fair patrons, sponsored teammates, degrees of fanaticism, odd-fitting T-shirts, a tour or two, and one mild-mannered owner who could yet seem fierce or Italian. Skaters wore the clothing because its handsome designs felt soft and localizing, but not all of them wore the clothing as well as others, since a certain skater wore the clothing best. That skater – you knew it – was Elijah.

From his red Supernatural hat turned back, to his grey Supernatural zip-up hoody of the navy-platinum lettering, to his Supernatural jeans of mysterious blue hue with the leaf above the right pocket – Elijah had the smoothest look. Or rather he had the smoothest Supernatural clothing, which he’d finessed how to wear – baggily, but not too baggily – given the particularities of the early 2000s, and of his stocky build. Yep, Elijah sure had the look. Splendidly, he also had black iPath moccasins, shoes in which only he ever seemed assured. That I know because he’d catch loose nollie heelflips in them, whereas when Brian Godfrey tried to do the same thing in the Open Iris friends section, he barely got the board off the ground. (Brian Godfrey was never nice to me anyways, so let’s just stop thinking about him.) Instead, let’s almost conclude by thinking about time: how even a local skater’s former dress, gets better and better with it.

~~~

Elijah Collard isn’t literally dead, not now or anytime soon, hopefully. So why would Wylie write these things about Elijah, if Wylie isn’t extraordinarily gay? Because as much as I dislike nostalgia and calls for respecting heritage, I’ve changed with time too, and I now refuse to dislike the older local skaters who came before me and who are still before me. In other words, I can’t help appreciating them, particularly for the wholesome contributions they continue to make by still skating, changing, and not being that self-conscious about either.

Don’t get me wrong: it can no less be hard to sense the nature of such appreciation when, say, I show up to the Familia HQ at 9 a.m. to find Chad Benson there, individualized and impossibly frustrated by the recent additions to the Chocolate Team, an issue which I guess he then works out for himself by doing a nollie heelflip to fs-lipslide to fs-tailslide pretty fast, twelve tense minutes later. Or when I see modern Elijah at the HQ on consecutive winter Wednesday evenings, looking more like Eazy E than I-don’t-know-when, with that hat and the rubber bands around pant-cuffs as he does an unmatched switch nose-manual across the entire long-box, mere seconds after telling me, “At this point, I think Minneapolis sucks for skating.”

Or further still, when I observe Rob Sissi on the HQ pyramid as he does some sort of unflinching and pivoting fs-360, a trick which earns him fair applause from onlookers, yet a trick that he and I need not talk about as we take turns criticizing The Berrics some thirty minutes later in the shop, while he inserts the new Bronze DVD which we both let transfix us instead.

There’s something more to those moments than meets first impression. There’s something appreciatively mature in them, enduring and happy. For it’s those guys who’ve really done something with their time lived in the metro – amid the metro’s queasy smiles, pretty women, unsophisticated professionals, clean downtown streets, inspiring Somalis, pathetic male sports, quite clueless manners, disciplined Hmong, etc., etc., etc. This is not to deny how elevating it can be gassing on Corey Millet in the present tense, on Corey’s propulsive Midwestern drive; but Corey is young, and too much lifestyle indifference and he could wind up as just another passing Dane Vaughn, not a dignified Emeric Pratt.

Speaking of Corey, though, I spoke to him several months ago – we’re going to end on this.
I spoke to him about a specific spot he’d filmed on.
He told me he was pleased to have filmed a trick there, since he was the first guy to have ever done a trick at the spot.
I told him I was pleased for him too, and for his Malcolm-X-handsome looks; but that he wasn’t the first guy to have filmed there, since Elijah Collard filmed there way before that.
Which made Corey pause for a decent moment, and then tell me that he hardly knew anything about Elijah Collard, or about any of those older guys, for that matter.
Well, I thought to myself, I just may have to do something about that.