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.

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."


sprntrl said...

Pretty sure this vid came out in 2002. In hindsight it's a pretty epic vid. At the time I thought it was just an "Anonymous" bite, but now that I look at they were obviously inspired by what Benji did and thats not a bad thing.

Wylie Tueting said...

A new news-post has already outshined this one, but I'd feel incomplete not to share something about Open Iris.
For me, Open Iris remains one of the most refreshing videos to have come out of the metro. I say this for many reasons, some of which are: every song in the video accentuated something about the skater; Heck proved himself to be a lot better and grittier than we knew, and he looked healthy while doing it; there was a lively park-montage, in which Mr. Collard did a nollie fs-boardslide and nollie fs-5-0 on the mega-hubba, which were strangely very impressive tricks, which is to say perfect, and I'd say Elijah was in his prime then; Neal Erickson's part was quite varied, not least of all because he actually did lines and didn't try to land everything perfectly, which was perfect of him; there were no awkward partying scenes; and finally, Jamiel's part was impressive for its manuals and for the fact that he was relatively young, but after that even he couldn't deny that his style looked a little too stiff and noodly and that it would need some improvement, which made him a nicer person.