January 30, 2015

Make-Up Work

Can skateboarding be portrayed in the non-skate media as anything more, still, than a strange unknowable mystery? Political journalism vet Mark Leibovitch can do a profile on Tom Brady on a whim, a change of pace, and DFW can do tennis (albeit with a background in the sport), but when a magazine like Wired wishes to foray into skateboarding, we still get shaky presumptions like, "Skating aficionados would be shocked to see how frequently he falls while practicing: When he was at his athletic zenith as a member of the Bones Brigade, the most celebrated team in skateboarding history, Mullen was known for never making mistakes in public."

That lack of understanding of a basic truth in skateboarding is understandable for an outsider--missing tricks A LOT is a part of the game--but is it too much to wonder if Wired has some correspondent who skated in junior high? Here's a link to the much-linked piece, Rodney Mullen in Wired. Moving past unimportant shortcomings, the piece looks into the unknowns of Mullen's career as of late, the speaking and the consulting and more personal aspects that are normally not spoken of in the skate press, and really gets into the hyper-moneyed weirdness that is the Mutt's life right now. Choice cuts: the near 50-year-old Mullen, griping about video culture:

Three days later, as we sipped green tea on the balcony of the Redondo Beach home he shares with his girlfriend, Mullen expanded on his distaste for how avarice has altered skating. “Don't frickin' skate in front of the camera, don't practice in front of the camera, don't friggin' publish it on YouTube every time you get a new trick—it's not about that,” he said as he gazed at the setting sun through wraparound shades. “If you do it for the sake of loving it, and you don't care whether you're seen or not, or paid or not, all that stuff will come. But enjoy the process! If you start doing things for the sake of selling up front, for rewards, then it's going to catch up to you. The other guys not chasing money are going to outdo you in the end, because real innovation and grit come from loving the process.”
Then there's this shit:
Mullen is struggling to perform a difficult trick, a challenge made tougher by the unusual confines in which he's skating: a tiny geodesic dome encircled with 100 digital cameras that are programmed to shoot in rapid sequence. This contraption is located in the Manhattan studio of Steven Sebring, a photographer and filmmaker who is trying to capture Mullen's balletic movements from every possible angle. All was going well enough until someone replaced Black Sabbath with Metallica on the sound system. Now Mullen feels out of sync, and his board is squirting out from beneath his feet with frustrating regularity.

Once Ozzy Osbourne's bansheelike wail returns, Mullen starts to nail the trick again, flipping the board a full revolution as he thrusts his body clockwise. Every time the camera shutters finish clicking, Mullen takes a moment to confer with Dhani Harrison, the only child of the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, who is crouched inside the dome with a bottle of Stella Artois. The two of them intend to use Sebring's photos to create an iOS app—a guide to the Mutt's vast encyclopedia of tricks, which users will be able to analyze in minute detail.

It's worthwhile to take in the whole thing. I really wish Daewon could have been in there as a source because I really think he'd be more insightful, in line with the pieces angle, than Stacy Peralta. Also, when does the Bones Brigade cease being referred to as the unhedged "most celebrated team in skateboarding history?"

CJ Tambornino in Midwest Marauders is a time capsule of gear, music, and a dude who's been ripping for a long, long time. Previous navel gazing on the Internet led to a stumbling upon of the part, and I'd been meaning to post about it for a bit. Also: Narloch and "Dirty Work" in a video suddenly way older than I thought it was. Been running that song all week.

Elsewhere: I interviewed Randy Ploesser about the unrest in St. Louis starting last summer, and Ian Michna, the dude behind Jenkem, filled in some of the blanks in the interview. The latter half of 2014 was terrible, news-wise, and one of the places that my mind kept returning was wondering what it was like in St. Louis from Randy's point of view--the one guy and skateboarder down there who I know well enough to just ask. Randy is really smart and doesn't pull punches. He did all the heavy lifting for that one.

Also, a long time ago, now, I interviewed Emerica TM and Duluth native Casey Morrissey over at the Ride Channel. Casey is an insanely positive dude and doing awesome things, such as that "Stay Flared" tour that we can only hope will swoop through Minnesota.

1 comment:

Wylie Tueting said...

If I were Rodney Mullen's career counselor, it would go a little like this:
I: (clears throat) Good to see you today, Rodney. . . . Anyway, the guys and I were talking and, while we know you're not a politician, we just think it'd be better if you kept your ideas more clear and consistent, from now on. Otherwise, we fear you might come off as scatterbrained and contra -
He: But skateboarding has no rules! . . . ? (giggles) Yah, yah, much like the universe and math and casper-slides and Globes are infinite and . . .
I: (murmurs) . . . this might be hopeless.