July 30, 2012

Unrequited Wishes

The Fourstar video above is yet another example of why I wish, wish, Pretty Sweet will offer an Aaron Meza edit of the movie in the bonus section. Since Penal Code, the dude has been one of the most underrated editors out.

Davis has another Bangin! at The Berrics. BTW (one brings such things up when their last post was a swim stunts video) how good was that Mikey Taylor part?

Young crews coming up: Ben Narloch, younger brother of the other skateboarding Narloch, has his hands in a video called Minnesota Militia. Also, as I was recently tipped to in the comments section of a previous post, also on the horizon is Street Loafers 2D, a sequel to the video of almost the same name.

For those who care, this might be the best offseason for the TWolves since 2003; yet another glorious explosion of irrational exuberance. Let's bask in it.

July 26, 2012


Sometimes swimming beats everything (that's Joe and Aaron and Eddie).

July 24, 2012


Is it me or can you tell which NYC dudes are transplants from the Midwest by how they skate? I don't know, but I dig this video. Thanks for the heads up, Josh.


July 23, 2012

Interview with a Teenager (Grant Taylor)

I was listening to Ira Glass interviewing Terry Gross and their discussion veered into the art of interview, the ins and outs, the feelings, all of it. In fact, the whole damn thing was about interviewing. It got me thinking. The following interview is my most memorable and the most difficult of all interviews I've ever conducted. Grant Taylor was 17-years-old when I talked to him and already one of my favorite skaters. Of coure, the dude went on to be SOTY and he's still one of the raddest dudes out there. But who I talked to was a kid who didn't want to talk about bullshit on the phone. I totally get that; some of my questions were bullshit but they're also par for the course, talking to a kid who skateboards incredibly well. What follows is my original transcribing (with some editing for transcription errors) and an introduction, which is the edited version; I'd originally said Grant would need to work on his interviewing skills. That part was left out of The Mag version which appeared a couple years ago. The interview was conducted shortly after New Year's Day, in 2009.

Grant Taylor’s friend Pat was smoking weed in some bathroom with Grant when I’d called him up to talk about his friend, Mr. Taylor; it was decided that Pat would find a more private place to talk, and that I’d call back. Ten minutes later, I phoned Pat again, and he filled me in on Grant, his homie, his skate buddy, etc. Pat talked about a ton of stuff, like how Grant’s dad Thomas Taylor skates, how Grant has a bowl in his backyard, and how, to quote Pat, “Everybody thinks he’s a dickhead because he doesn’t say much.”

Pat was quick to amend his statement saying that once you really get to know Grant, he really opens up, and from there you’re pretty much family, and from there he pretty much fucks with you incessantly. Oh, and that he isn’t a dickhead either, Pat pointed that out too. He was also very clear that Grant is mature for his age, 17, and Pat’s proof for that matter was that, “I’m fuckin’ 20, and I kick it with him.” Alien Workshop video man and the director of the upcoming Mind Field , Greg Hunt, echoed Pat’s sentiments, saying of Grant, “He’s kind of an old spirit in a way, a skater’s skater.”

None of these details, however, have any bearing on whether or not Grant Taylor would enjoy, or even want to be interviewed. Greg pointed out that Grant has, “Cut out a pretty interesting path for himself [in life],” and that is undeniable; it doesn't matter that he'd rather not be stuck on the phone talking about his life to a complete stranger. Either way, in skateboarding, a little mystery can go a long way.

Happy New Years, you get into anything the other night for New Years Eve?

No, not really.

Just a quiet night at home?

Some fireworks and shit.

You come up with any New Year’s resolutions or anything?


Nothing off the top of your head that you’d like to change?

Nah, not really.

You just broke your arm, how’d that happen?

Skateboarding…in Portland.

That was on a Nike shoot or something?

Yeah, some gay ass shit, they had us skating cars, and I fell off this truck, and broke my arm.

You were skating cars?

Yeah, we were skating a pick-up truck.

So you had fly back from Portland to Atlanta and have surgery on your arm? What was the story?

Nah, I got surgery that night or whatever.

Ended up with plates and screws and all that shit?


How long are you laid up with the arm then?

I don’t know, two months or something?

You gonna take the time and just chill or try and skate through it?

I just bought a TV; I’m chilling.

Where did you break your arm, is that gonna mess with the growth of your arm?

I broke it by the elbow.

Did the doctors say that was going to mess with anything?

Nah, they didn’t say anything about it.

I was talking to Greg [Hunt] about filming for the Workshop video and he said that a lot of your old footage was unusable because you’d grown so much. Does the growth mess with your skating; do you notice a difference?

I don’t know. No. It’s all the same.

You’ve been skating since you were pretty much a baby, huh?


How old were you when you started?

I don’t know, three? I didn’t start really… But I mean like, pushing around and shit? Yeah, I was on my knees.

What’s your first memory of skating?

That, I guess.

What was your first set-up, I heard it was kind of epic.

Julien Stranger’s old board, I think, I don’t know.

That’s what I was told. How’d you come up on that?

Him and some dudes were at [Stratosphere] or something. They were at the shop, and left the board, I don’t know, and I just ended up riding it.

You still have that laying around somewhere?


Have you ever met Julien?

Nah I’ve never met him…

You’ve lived in Atlanta your whole life; do you ever see yourself moving somewhere else?

I don’t know.

Does anywhere else interest you?

Portland, when it’s not raining.

What about Portland makes you think about living there?

Just the concrete; the parks.

Would you say Portland has a similar vibe to Atlanta? I’ve never made it to either city… You’ve never been to Atlanta or Portland?

Never have, man.

Damn, you’re missing out on the Portland concrete.

All right. Tell me about school; what’s your school status right now?


Why was that, it was messing with traveling and stuff?

Yeah, I was just over it; fuckin’ school, I don’t know.

Weren’t you ready to just walk away and let yourself fail? You didn’t do that; what stopped that from happening?

My dad signed the papers and we left.

Word is that you are planning on getting the GED eventually.

I guess, eventually.

Doesn’t really matter that much to you right now?


Do you think that had you done home schooling or anything that it would have been different, or would you just be a home school drop-out?

I wouldn’t have done that home school shit.

Yeah. Would have been the same thing. You live in a big old house with your dad and your sisters, what’s the house like?

I don’t know, it’s fuckin’…life.

You’ve got your own wing to the house, your own kitchen and stuff?

Nah, it’s just an old apartment house. I’ve got my own room, my sisters have their own, my dad’s got his own.

And then it sounds like you’ve got a pretty legit skate setup in your backyard, what’s all back there?

Oh, it’s just dirt back there (laughs).

All right.

There’s nothing back there but just dirt (more laughter).

All right. Who do you end up skating with when you’re at home?

I don’t know. Chris, Graham, Matt, Scapegoat and Pat. David Clark, and that’s it.

What’s the name of that skate crew of yours?

Uh, I don’t really have one.

What about the Down To Earth Lords of Chaos?

Yeah, that’s not my crew or anything like that…

Pat told me otherwise.

I don’t have that tattoo or nothing.

Well I was going to ask, when you going to get the tattoo?

I don’t fuckin’ know.

Good enough…

Probably, maybe, who knows?

Keep the future wide open I suppose.


So what else do you get into when you’re not skating?

Hanging out--I don’t know.

You ever do a little graf writing or some shit like that?

(To someone off the phone) Oh, what’s the deal, goddamn! (Long pause) Yeah, I don’t really write, but Matt does.

So I guess you’ve never really had any trouble with that type of shit, no close calls then?

I mean, we have, we’ve just never been caught.

All right, what did you end up doing to get banned from the Hilton in Florida?

I didn’t know I was banned.

Uh huh. David told me that; maybe you should talk to him. Oh, David said that…Oh, my room got a little messed up. And like, I don’t know what happened. The room was under my name or something I guess.

Oh, just like bad luck huh?

No, we just fucked up the room.

So you’re finished with Mind Field, and you were working on that Nike video until you broke your arm; are you pretty much done with the Nike thing because of your arm?

Yeah, I guess so, fuck…if this gets healed up, whatever, I’ll skate again. Right now I’m just chilling out.

You think you’ve got enough stuff for that video, as you sit right now?

I don’t care. (To someone off the phone) What? Not that much…

Mind Field will probably be out by the time this gets in the magazine, is that pretty much your first big video part?

(Pause) Yeah.

Greg said your part came together pretty quickly.

I don’t know, I just took a few trips and got some footage.

One of the few trips you made it on was Mexico City, what’s it like down there?

Fuckin’ dirty.

Anything memorable happen on that trip?

I don’t know, some cool skating…Shitty weed.

Does your dad still skate?

Yeah he still skates…a lot.

Who’d he ride for back in the day?

Uh, Schmitt Stix, New Deal…I don’t really know all this shit.

He’s been doing stuff in Atlanta for a long time, what all has he been involved in?

Workin’ the shop. I don’t know, doing his shit.

I take it you’re glad your dad skates?

Yeah, I probably wouldn’t be doing this shit or whatever, if he didn’t skate.

It’s two days into 2009 now; do you have any predictions about what going to happen this year? And random claims of what’s going to happen in the future?

No, I can’t say.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Healing up my arm or some shit, riding my board again; nothing really. Any parting bits of wisdom for the kids?

No, I don’t have any. This interview’s probably going to be gay as fuck though.

Eh, so it goes.

You don’t think so?

We’ll have to see.

You have to type it up?

Yeah I have to type it up. Here’s a question, what would you rather be doing right now than being interviewed?

Not talking on the phone.

There you go, succinct as always.

July 20, 2012

Nice Boy's Saloon

I'm a week late on this NYT skateboarding in Uganda photo set, but that doesn't make it any less awesome.

Davis and the Real dudes push around Chicago. It's rad, though the distortion on that lens needs to go.

Dig the Max Murphy Traffic Report.

A three month old interview with Mike Burnett.

Happy birthday Nesser!

Happy weekend.

July 19, 2012

Pasta At Walls

So ingrained is my suspicion of MSM skateboard coverage that I reflexively retweeted the tweet above (that was painful to type, still) with a little bit of commentating, a simple "Weird" attached at the end. Our instincts are not to trust a major media outlet, even one as revered as The New Yorker, to handle something skateboard related well, especially when they cite the depressed and teeny-bopped TWS as some sort of authority, though, granted, their "30 Most Influential" piece wasn't that far off the tracks. It's also dawned on me that we should no longer automatically denigrate MSM efforts to quantify skateboarding for the masses in a meaningful way, because, gasp, we've infiltrated, dudes.

With that said, the New Yorker piece in question starts out a little suspect, for the first couple of sentences, and quickly coalesces into something with which we in the choir can enjoy. The author, James Guida, provides a plausible "snubs" list for those who should have been included on TWS' list (Elissa Steamer especially, think about it), while meaningfully explaining a lot about skateboarding in a way that's palatable to all. He hits his highest marks discussing the ride and Gonz in Video Days (which is described as "one of the best [parts] ever") as "a novel act of the imagination."

Beyond, Guida discusses the older skater's impulse (he very accurately pegs this age group as 30-38-years-old) to discuss the pains of the game in an older age and the nostalgia talk that follows. I find myself, after some introspection and the recently uninstalled early 90's retrospective that hung at Familia until a couple of days ago, more and more reluctant to truly bank on the early 90's (a sort of constructed memory for me, which I never experienced) or the late 90's (which I experienced) as some sort of unadulterated ideal. Guida explains well that much of everything that happens now is grounded in the decade that began more than 20 years ago, but doesn't touch on the feeling I have that too much retrospection in skateboarding might inhibit the future. If the ideal video part occurred 21 years ago, what have we been doing all this time?

Guida was never posed that question nor attempted to answer (he touches on Questionable as a milepost in progression of tricks early on in the piece), but it's interesting to think that this thing that we do, that's lasted some 50 or 60 years, might have peaked in art and fun and form and expression, on VHS of all formats, a full five or so years before Little Johnny and all his friends, who make up the majority of us who do this thing, now, were born. It's easy enough to write off, but still, even when folks are asked about the best video parts of all time (disregarding Gonz' to move forward), recent times are mostly neglected and we might call out Mariano in Mouse, or Koston in Menikmati* or (for younger old dudes) Marc Johnson in Fully Flared. The parts previously listed came out roughly 15, 10 and five years ago, respectively. Don't forget all the 37-year-olds that'll claim Carroll in Questionable, which is 20-years-old.

It'd be easy enough to say "Top-Any-Number" lists are stupid because of opinions and leave it at that, no matter how stupid and reductive that line of reasoning is. That said, such lists would be well served by an expiration date which coincides with their date of publication. Influence, with a capital "I" waxes and wains (mostly wains, when dependent on the collective memory of an act which trends, day by day, younger) and must make way for Busenitz and Janoski and the PRod and the O'Neill and whoever insists on hopping around after making a trick (not Kalis, but he explains). The Gonz is and forever will be an influence, but perhaps in this day and age of forgetfulness, he won't be the influence, but an influencing factor.

That The New Yorker would pick up upon such a thing as who's influenced skateboarding the most, albeit as well done as it is, somehow signals the outdatedness of the whole affair and indicts myself as well. For the most part, obvious now, those writing about skateboarding are the old guard, perhaps one that's outdated. If there's to be a glimmer of hope now, and forever on, it's that many of our younger contemporaries tend to exist within a myopic version of skateboarding which moves too fast as an ephemeral thing. Quality is lost to newness, newness trumps history and begets ABD, those in the know laugh and keep influencing and providing a memory. The Gonz is safe.

*Someone must love it.

July 18, 2012

Front Redesign

St. Paul is planning to redo the Front Skatepark and they're trying not to blow it. Per Witt Siasoco:

Hey all, I have been trying to work with the St. Paul Park and Rec on the redesign of the Front Skatepark. We all know that the public skateparks in the Twin Cities suck, so I am hoping to get more people involved. The Park and Rec created a survey monkey and would like to get skaters feedback.

Here's the survey. It took me fewer than five minutes to fill it out.

July 17, 2012

Sea Change

Mark Muller has left the building. While his reasons for leaving 3rd Lair are decidedly vague in the interview above and a message he posted on Facebook, there's no doubt that he's been hugely influential in the Twincities skate scene in many ways.

Beyond that, word has it the Lair plans to renovate and rebuild sections of the park this fall.

Edit: Also, there's some Debris extras to check out. So do it:

July 14, 2012


The random song that pops into your head then put to a video part, or section.

July 10, 2012

Low Vibrations

Some AZ homies with Send Help connects are throwing a best trick contest out at Oakdale this Saturday. Free food and free beer. Go get some.

July 9, 2012

July 4, 2012


Happy birthday Jackal. May you survive yet another Bloody 4th.

July 3, 2012

Remember The Kids

Quoting B-Show from Twitter and writing posts about the X-Games; skaters, 2012 really is a strange time.

Sunday afternoon was hot and I watched the X-Games street finals drinking some Miller High Life out of a can that resembled the American flag. I'm not sure that seeing skateboarding on the television is still that much of a shock given that these things have been happening for the past 17 years, but there's still something transfixing about it in a very different way from which we normally watch the act, be it in person, or through the fisheye and rolling long lens. The X-Games' camera work maximizes nothing about the obstacles; it is, in fact, quite shoddy, exemplified by Nyjah Huston grunting an annoyed "look out," as he brushed/bumped a camera man before perfectly handling a bigspin frontside boardslide fakie to finish his first and best run.

On Nyjah, who was pumped up as having an injured left knee by Tony Hawk (who claimed to see a hitch in his push, which I couldn't perceive) and the who-knows-why-this-dude-is-there Sal Masekela: yes, we know, the kid is frighteningly amazing at riding a skateboard with which to do tricks. His brutality towards the board and rail was on full display as he did three 360 flip lipslides in a row (in different runs) and too-close-for-comfort attempts at kickflip backside noseblunt slides at the ends of runs that must have been tiring, if not completely nerve wracking. He's seemingly emerged as an antihero, at least when it comes to contests, in that his complete and quiet destruction must somehow be stopped by something else, lest we know what not is that something else. He's the skateboard equivalence of the San Antonio Spurs of the past decade or so, in that there's nothing more to hate than the consistency, lack of flair and the inevitability.

Enter Paul Rodriguez. P-Rod was never exactly considered to have a chance if you listened to the commentators. He's surgical with the type of accuracy with which we could only wish our drones could operate (the drone/robotic analogy would have been apropos a couple of years ago, but dude has grown on me, a lot). When he made his tricks, which he struggled to do until a perfect final and winning run, it was with an inevitable type of control which Nyjah could someday hope for. What separates PR from NH is the finesse over the brutal, a deeper bag and, in the end, more difficult tricks. P-Rod did this with switch frontside bluntslides to straight and a run capping switch 360 flip down the contest stack that was, especially within the constraints of the five or six seconds in which he threw down, popped and completed within time, elicited a grunt from me which lead to inquiries from the kitchen regarding whether all was well.

P-Rod was transcendant in difficulty and Nyjah got aced out by simply not trying hard enough (tricks). They finished first and third, respectively. Other guys, like Chaz Ortiz and Manny Santiago and Ryan Decenzo all properly vied for fourth, in what was really good skateboarding, if not anything that was a compelling display of what skateboarding sort of feels like.

Enter Ryan Sheckler. It should be more of a faux paus than it actually is, on the ground nowadays, to reflexively hate Sheckler. All the first hand, close accounts point to the dude being one of a kind awesome and if we are to take the Phelps endorsement at face value, the dude is pretty goddamn OK. Beyond that, he was the only skateboarder out of the six to really approach a type of skateboarding that could be called barely in control, balls out, or fun. Where Santiago picks up his board and daintily turns it around to drop in, Shecks ollies into the ramp only to speed check. His hip ollie/air is a kind of stinky nosebone but he grinds the bank-to-bench with no set up and we're thinking he might be the only guy in the whole thing that might surprise us, not by difficulty, but by sheer unexpectedness (real surprise). He put together a second place run to end the contest and it was a delight; Hawk and Sal said the kid thrives under pressure but it came off more like a dude who knew his friend was bound for first and just wanted to shred and succeed at it. He fatty-to-flatied a backside 360 (he and a 20-year-old Danny Way could have had a field day battling on that one) to end the whole thing, but the writing on the wall was written.

On judging skateboard contests: I've judged my share and the creme is usually obvious unless it is truly middling. I'm sure the guys judging the X-Games knew that; while Nyjah did more difficult tricks, Sheckler simply was better, in that strange intangible way that just makes some things more compelling than others. They bumped him by a third of a point to beat the formerly dreaded kid, and while he'd finished the event with a true exclamation point and a little bit of electricity, P-Rod, with some likable flair, rightly, claimed top billing.

Offering some ways in which to better the event, I'd say the first thing to do is move Birdman to a color commentating spot and leave Sal, a brand, if he is such a thing, on the wayside. Hawk might be one of the best practitioners of all time, but as far as modern streetstyle goes, he leaves a bit to be desired in the true knowledge department, weird as that may seem. Install some feisty upstart from the SPOT fold and we're fine. Otherwise, I'm sure some of the young geniuses that make the Disney Co. happen can make the skateboarding at the X-Games look like the skateboarding that skateboarders actually watch. The talent pool of hungry filmers is deep and even if they need to join some union or some other, it's all the better for those kids. The lay TV watching community won't notice a difference between a washed out long lens and a nice fisheye angle (Nyjah might like it too if the filmers knew where to be).

In all, I've belabored the blog post. Compelling skateboarding in a public (ESPN 2) setting is still a seeming rarity, and it's worth writing about and parsing out at the same time.

That I consumed skateboarding in the same way that I might have watched a Twins game is a little testament to where it's been and where it might be, later.

I had a couple more American flag beers after P-Rod won. He thanked God for winning a skateboarding contest, telling Dune, or Chris Pastras or the interviewer, that, essentially, God let him win the whole damn thing. Oh how petty, Old Testament style, He can be.

The invocation of God was it. We accept much about the "State of Skateboarding" and we contend that we haven't quite lost it to something else, in a macro-type-sense, but we have. It's easy to imagine Paul Rodriguez saying something else to whoever might interview him after a Tampa win, but having him play into every cliche of sports seemed both jarring and right. It, the skateboarding, has arrived, but we stand as midwives, helpers, who deliver what we once thought was something else, something maybe scarier and edgier than He on high thinks, at least up to that point.

The midwives among us stand to determine what's next in a nominal way, but that's not a place of powerlessness. That I enjoyed the whole spectacle (go Cultural Studies classes!) of the ordeal means that it was relevant, but not the name of the game.

While at dinner Monday, I noticed a group of three kids come out of an alley with skateboards, one without shoes, one with and a skinny girl in flip-flops. They handled the boards awkwardly, from some old dude's point of view, but all they cared about was getting there and doing it fast. I keyed my girlfriend into the scene, and told her that those kids are why skateboarding is awesome. She understood.

Thanking God is not an exclusionary point but a point of which to take notice. The X-Games are not going away. ESPN put on a great show of skateboarding; the skateboarding son of a comedian furthered his excellence. It's 2012 and there's no groundswell because it's already split. We write the story, or something, and the kids still rumble around, barefoot, going somewhere, while we pay some decent money for dinner.