October 21, 2014

Frontside 360s, Both Ways

Matt Reason died. His 411 Profile section gripped me in my mid-teens, and his skating's stuck with me ever since. 411 headman Josh Friedberg has some good words on the matter:
Shit like this reminds me how connected the people that chose to dedicate their lives to skateboarding actually are. If you skated in the mid-90s Matt Reason's raw street style, big ass wheels and solid switch game had a lasting impact on your world. Rest in peace to a pioneer of skateboarding from the East Coast.

Philly local Vern Laird filled in some blanks:

9am in China and waking up a million text messages and emails about Matt is the last way I wanted to start my day. Here is what I found out. He got the flu, and it turned into pneumonia. It moved fast and he died of heart failure today. I spent almost everyday of my life skating with Matt at Love Park from 1991 all through the 90's and witnessed one of the best ever to do it but also to do it with style. I am at a loss for words because I still can't and don't want to believe he's gone. RIP #MattReason

Transworld posted scans of a 1996 interview with Reason, that featured an alternate angle of that feeble grind photo from Love Park that's been all over, tonight:

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TONIGHT 8 P.M. The premiere of #TWSOutliers at #FamiliaHQ

A photo posted by Familia Skateboard Shop (@familiask8shop) on

I don't much remember the previous TWS video; Cinematographer Project was definitely a significant bump atop a long plateau of an almost too productive string of videos. There's a good line up, though, and a new guy making it and a Gladwell joke, so see you there.

October 15, 2014

1962, cornfields, '60 Chevy.

Pretty Sweet doesn't exist on the Internet, at least not in the places I'm willing to look.

Cory Kennedy in Pretty Sweet, is sure to be the video's most fondly remembered part. The other sections really vying for memory--Marc Johnson's SOTY victory lap and Guy Mariano's SOTY robbery--deserved all the buzz they got, though it's unlikely they'll be considered those guys' best ever attempts (for MJ it's close, but not obvious, Mariano=Mouse). For Kennedy, that part is what we've got, and until he goes and does better, there it is. For a video that sometimes felt too much like a music video and or a product, Kennedy's section benefitted from the production value, coming across sincerely when a lot of the rest seemed focus grouped. It also helps that he didn't skate to the female pop cover of a Wiz Khalifa track. That song, that song, that song.

"Night Moves," is yearnful music. Seger's summer of '62 equates the verve of some summers in the late aughts. This Slate podcast discusses the song, commenting on how it's all about sex, nostalgia and mortality, and how it's possible, like I do, to enjoy the song in both ironic and unironic ways. The song might be everything.

To steal one of that podcast's best bits, from Wikipedia on "Night Moves:"

"Night Moves" is a mid-tempo number that starts quietly with acoustic guitar. Bass guitar and drums are introduced as the song's setting is described: 1962, cornfields, '60 Chevy. An intense summertime teenage affair is described, knowingly more sexual than romantic, with short instrumental lines breaking the evocative imagery sometimes in mid-sentence. Piano, female backing vocals, electric guitar and organ are added as the song's emotional nostalgia builds momentum. Then suddenly it stops, as the narrative flashes forward to some period in the future, where he hums a song from 1962. To a quiet acoustic guitar, the narrator, awakened by a clap of thunder and unable to fall back asleep, ponders a different sense of the title phrase. Then the rest of the instruments fall back in, for an extended coda vamp of the chorus.
Damn.

Equally as night movesy as those first summers as a freshly single adult, the time around the making of Weekend Warriors is another ready nostalgic pit, a wonderful bit of existence laser-focused on a goal existing completely outside the rest of reality. A video line-up that moves along together fosters camaraderie and we went out at night a lot, making full use of the fact that the city really opens up past 11 p.m. on a week night. When Meyer put out three videos in three years, starting with the Anonymous premiere, I edited featurettes of the old videos, four minute montages, bangers revisited, that played before the feature presentation. Those clips are lost to time. Weekend Warriors never had a direct followup, so no featurette, though if something had come out in the spring of '08 I bet it would have ended up pretty similar to my precious: The song always gets me going.

October 8, 2014

Back To Dansworld

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We started a new endeavor, the Skateboard Mag is under The Berrics skateboarding umbrella. @berrics #theberrics #theskateboardmag #grantbrittain

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Instagram imbeds now have the captions and the code looks really ugly.

The Berrics bought The Skateboard Mag, a surprising and totally predictable turn of events, given the state, or more specifically, recent size of the magazine. Full disclosure: I'm still tenuously listed on the masthead of the mag as a staff writer in each issue, though I haven't been assigned anything in more than a year. Thrasher has figured out the perfectly integrated web and print entity model, so I'm quite interested in seeing what becomes of this. Is The Skateboard Mag's website now redundant, to a certain extent? Some sort of merger of sites would seem to solve that web and print combo problem, though the company still lacks the direct connection to manufacturers that makes Thrasher such a deadly product. This 20-year-old Guardian article from Dansworld is always a good industry refresher, for times like these. Always the same vertical integration, bundled ads and so on. Hopefully a supposed infusion of cash can bring back some of the inventiveness that used to separate the Mag from everyone else leaning so hard on the am interview/roadtrip/pro interview formula.

To wit: In 2007, for TSM #45, I wrote a 3,200 word Milestone about a pre-pro shoe Stefan Janoski. That is lots of text for 12 pages in a skateboarding magazine*, an awesome opportunity that holds up to hindsight, and one of those pre-Great Recession things that was so easily taken for granted. Even if a story of that length seems like a luxury, that's the type of work that capital "m" Magazines should set out to deliver, a piece of writing that you need to choose the right couch on which to take it in, something you're going to chew over, something that takes time. Without rereading my piece, I'm sure it has plenty of now-embarrassing moments within, but that's beside the point; you've got to try to do good things for there to be good things. If a Berrics owned Mag can bring back Milestones and other pieces that once again set it apart, without killing an issue's budget, which will likely come after it is snapped out of survival mode, I'm all for it. Diversify the voices in the thing (not necessarily a pitch for work, I'm pretty alright), work to many of its strengths that never entirely diminished and work to recreate some of the hype surrounding the project that lead up to that first issue. That was something.

*Thrasher will do big deal 20 pager (10 spreads) Q and A interviews, that are great though not quite the same.

October 2, 2014

The Recent Past

I'd never seen the above edit--it's by Pat Severin as mentioned on Peabody's Instagram--featuring a lot of dudes that typically don't make it in all the clips, like Egan and Longfield, Will Irgang and Peabody himself. When it all went down isn't quite clear, though end of the aughts would be my bet. Proper.

The indispensable dudes at Village Psychic did a round up on Beer Up, Bro Down and even put together a farewell to Glue Factory post.

Former loc Neal Erickson shoots a bunch of film for his photo blog and all indications (he told me so) point to him having a part in the Loof Life vid that premieres in Chicago on Oct. 11.

Episode 1 of the Mostly Skateboarding Podcast is out, which is actually the second episode, a follow-up to episode 0 that came out about a year ago. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet but I'm sure it's rad.

Again: I'm oh so pleased that I can pop a GIF on here without having to do the old tedious shit I used to have to do. Nabbed this from Mostly Skateboarding. It was supposed to be that one of Corey Kennedy doing a line in Australia but I came across this Davis banger, instead. Next time you're lurking Nicolett Island wishing that you lived there (like I wish), peep this thing under the bridge. Trick never got enough love on here; hopefully this rectifies that. Might even figure out how to make those bigger someday.

Chromeball with Lance Mountain commentary. I remember when I figured out that Lance Mountain was actually a significant dude and there was a reason that he hosted 411.

The other night I vibed hard on watching Outkast videos and found they have the best comments out:


Notable, too:

September 29, 2014

Three For Ones

Mysteries abound around the fate of the Open Iris DVD release that was to have happened at some point in the late-aughts. Since the video's initial release in 2002*, maker Anthony Boone had gone to war in Iraq as an enlisted Marine, a majority of the skaters in the video with listed parts had scattered to the wind and the number of viable VHS copies of the video were dwindling, so the story goes for small batch hard copies. I'd guess there were 1,000 or less.

My best recollection says the DVD version was re-edited with new footage and some new songs. I'm convinced there was an updated Nate Compher section where he skated to The Game's "Hate It Or Love It," which I might have seen, and it was spectacular. If more than one DVD master of the re-edited video was made, still, none survive. They, the copies, or the, the copy, was and were lost to time. Boone uploaded the video in five parts, with part one above. The transition from city to suburb-Lair happens in-video, the featured dudes the last of some sort of old guard.
*I may be disagreeing with the dude who made the video, I remember it a year later, based on Shitheads Vol. 8's for sure 2001 release date.

Image nabbed from Buzzfeed.

Headlining confusion: Using So Little or the graceless Skateboarding As Religion? Sticking with the former, it's an essay by Sean Wilsey, about feelings on skateboarding that orbit Wilsey's nostalgic musings about Thrasher, with a spotlight on San Francisco, too.

Nostalgia** is key in any description of the piece, first published in 2003, as the vast majority of it is focused on a time and place 15-20 years before that date of publication. Like most any piece that would appear in the London Review of Books or the now defunct The New York Times Play Magazine (the essay appeared in both), it's going to have some compromises and other gripe-worthy moments, the signals that it was written for outsiders by someone who was once inside, now not so much.

That said, it has one of the more pleasing descriptions of eating shit I've read in a long time:

I set down my board, stepped on, pushed off. My plan was to roll the whole slope and use the flat to slow down gradually before the intersection. I had no backup plan.

The acceleration was instant. In a matter of seconds I was moving faster than my legs had ever taken me. After thirty feet I was moving faster than I’d ever moved outside of a car. Faster. Without thinking I locked my legs at the knees and stood as if I were trying to look over a fence, the instinct—a terrible instinct—being to get as far away as possible from the rushing tarmac. My knees should have been bent, body low, arms out to the sides. The board started rocking side to side, trucks (the metal suspension/steering system) slamming back and forth, fast, hard left, and then fast, hard right. It felt like the board was possessed and wanted to throw me off. I had what’s known among skaters as the (dreaded) speed wobbles. And once they start there ‘s no way to stay on***.

I bailed just before the bottom of the slope and tried to run it out, knees aching when I hit the ground, going so fast it was like a wind was pushing me from behind. I kept my feet for ten feet and watched my new board rocketing down the block toward the intersection. Then the speed shoved me over. I pitched forward, screamed “Fuck!” with more emotion than I’d ever expressed in public (skateboarding, like learning a foreign language, offers a whole new personality), and as I heard my voice echo off the buildings I slammed onto the street, hands first, torso second, thighs third, calves and feet up in the air behind me—and began to slide.

This was like bobsledding! I had all the speed of a bobsledder. But without the sled, or snow. There was just me and some fabric and the concrete.

I was no longer going down the center of the street, but, since my last step had been off my right foot, I was plowing into the oncoming left lane, toward the parallel-parked cars on the far side of the street, my destination the front tire of a dark-blue two-door Honda. I braced for impact, closed my eyes, missed the tire, and instead went under the driver’s-side door—a deeper dark filled my head—and kept going, calves banging against the car’s plastic frame and flopping back down, head dinging off something in the undercarriage and then down to the street, until I was wedged under the trunk, between gas tank and pavement, my cheek jammed up on the curb.

The curb is the piece of the city that skaters are most often concerned with. Mine was cold, and I could smell it: oil and salt. I also could taste it in the back of my throat. Piss. I’d never looked properly at curbs until I learned to skate, and I haven’t looked at them the same way since. Steel-edged ones make for long, fast grinds (slides on your trucks). Regular ones make for loud, sloppy grinds. This one was plain and clean and angular, no rounded steel edge (coping, as skaters and masons call it). I was feeling a strange mixture of sensations: pain, embarrassment, isolation, and a pleasurable sort of intimacy with the hidden parts of the city. I felt like I had just survived a rare experience. I was glad to be still. I thought that beneath a Honda might be a good place to lie low for a while and nurse my wounds. I had never crawled under a car on the street before. There was something good about it. There was un-burned-off morning fog under there.

Beyond the longer-than-I-planned excerpt, and beyond my description above, there's more in there, much that is fantastic, including a run-in with skinheads and a convincing bit about why we still need "Skarfing Material."
**I, of all people, in light of how this post begins, should use nostalgia as a pejorative.
***Almost.

Probably ancient Blogger update allows GIFs. Ocean Howell from that I-Path promo.

2003 was huge for skateboard essays, because Ocean Howell wrote one too that year for Topic Magazine. Perhaps it's impossible not to use Birdman's 900 as some sort of looking glass for all of this. Regardless, and it's a good essay too, if not as expansive as the one above (certainly by an insider though with fewer compromises), Howell's distillation of important plot points from Back To The Future might do more to distill skateboard coolness than so much highfalutin thinking:

As they prepared to chase him through the old town square in their giant finned convertible, McFly grabbed a scooter from a kid, broke the handlebars off, and launched into a series of comically exaggerated skateboard acrobatics that sent his pursuers crashing into the back of a manure truck. The rubes were enraged; the girls were in love; everyone was shocked. I was sold.

My emphasis.

Searching for that essay, I came upon Howell's "Rate My Professor" profile; the kids seem to like him, if not his style of grading. At least one student thinks he's "incredibly good-looking."

September 19, 2014

Community Bulletin Board

Lots of dudes hitting free agency, what with the GF hitting the GF. Thanks, Dan and Ian, for all the fun. What's this?

August 29, 2014

AUG. 29 SOTY POWER RANKINGS

"The skating is sick but the song/editing/clothing/VX/etc. in that part is garbage." Thanks to Thrasher for using FB comments so there's a modicum of accountability there, keeping the prevailing nature of commenting pretty standard nitpicky.

Few songs are completely sacrosanct in skate part world; Joe McLellan skated to Natas' song from Streets on Fire in a Maple video less than a decade after Natas' turn, and while perhaps there was an element of homage therein (it wasn't obvious), it's a not-that-controversial exception to the rule, a rule recently reiterated by Josh Stewart while on his ongoing Static 4/5 press junket.

All that's a circuitous way of getting to saying I could see someone making the call to edit a Wes Kremer section to something along the lines of "93 'til Infinity," seeing as how his songs can act as dog whistle tracks for those of a certain age, and sort of being OK with the whole thing. Sort of. Kremer, so obviously with the evidence above, continues to rank among the best out, the video part an occasion to do AUG. 29 SOTY POWER RANKINGS:

1. Bobby Worrest: If Worrest wins SOTY we'll have sudden proof there is some sense left in the Universe, a small, righteous rebuke to the horrible (news) happenings of a summer now ending. He put out yet another part a week ago on Quartersnacks, making it three on the year. He seems like only a dark horse candidate until one remembers he's got a good portion of the skateboard industrial complex backing him, as in Nike and Deluxe.

2. Wes Kremer: With a current ranking most likely a result of the afterglow of watching his section prior to 8:00 a.m. today, Kremer's eventual overall ranking (if I ever revisit this) will likely reflect his natural orbital trajectory: perennial and highly respected All-Star, perennially coming up fourth in MVP voting. He may simply lack the extra flash and marketability to convince Jimmy on the street to back him fully, but then again, maybe you just decide he's got it and make it happen. DC's tried before.

3. Dylan Reider: Two parts and a couple of fashion spreads, along with mononym status sets Reider apart from many. If there's such a thing as a "gutsy" SOTY choice, he's it, if only because of skateboarding's forever simmering sexual insecurity. Then again, Dylan would be a triumph for skateboarding's smaller entrepreneurial class, a Rocco-like rebuke to the industrial complex which, confusingly, really does include Deluxe.

4. Nyjah Huston: 1996 in 2014: Nyjah is Chris Senn 18 years later. Left at the altar in 2013, Nyjah is winning all the money (contests) this year, and while it's unclear how he placed at M√ľnster, if a Senn-like a ascension is possible in this day and age, Huston is your dude. Plus, he's probably got a November-surprise-video part planned, even more brutal than the last.

5. Davis Torgerson: DT is good for fifth on paper, a rookie-pro and possible homer pick, but like at the beginning of the sentence, here's the qualifications: two video parts (and a Real Street section), a media tour/victory lap after the pro-model, a high likability rating. On these rankings he's more akin to a Chris Bosh middling selection, solid as hell and super well-regarded, if not even a bit underrated, but still, sorry bud, no chance at the trophy.
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Edit: The original post touted these as "AUG. 28" power rankings, even though I did them a day later. The mistake will forever be immortalized in the URL.