April 30, 2015

Koston in 'Yeah Right' Essay

From comment section obscurity to people's choice, this is Wylie Tueting's second post for Platinumseagulls.

"The Koston We Should Remember Most"
By Wylie Tueting

Every time that I’ve ever brought up Eric Koston – in the fifteen years I’ve skated – praise has ensued. Sometimes I’ve lead the praising, but more often other people have – by praising him a lot, and then some more. But since Koston has attained so much both on and off the skateboard, praise for him has never quite turned in the same way. Often the praise has seemed well-founded, given all his accomplished parts; while at other times hallow, given skaters’ affection for his antics on the golf course; while at others sensational, given the info about his lucrative contracts; and at others more hallow, given people’s admiration for his celeb connections, despite what little those connections have done to make him aware of why he’s so ambitious, as proven by his heartbreaking Epicly Later’d; etc., etc.

I swear I’m no antagonist of Koston, but let’s face it: Koston is a complex guy – or at least he possesses a complex career – and whether to place praise on his skating or on his attainments apart from skating, remains one of the riddles that confuses any conversation about why he’s so special. And let’s face it once more: Koston’s modern-day quirks – like blaring on the megaphone, eating one-too-many cheeseburgers on camera, landing SKATE tricks sillily, and saying “fuck” but then saying it a fuckload more – make such a conversation no easier. Such quirks make it harder.

(Sometimes I really do ache, physically and spiritually, after watching modern-day Koston on a Sunday afternoon...)

But this post isn’t about me. It’s about Koston, or rather it’s about how we might praise him properly, or rather it’s about this idea that I’ve been turning over in my mind for several years now – indeed an idea about how to praise Koston properly. Bear with me.

And turn your recollection back upon Eric Koston’s Yeah Right! part, that most iconic of street parts. We all watched it; were impressed by it; and we all sensed it was unusually vivid, was like no other Koston part we’d ever seen. But despite the truth of that third point, most of us let the thought stop there; we didn’t ask why it was so unusually vivid. We knew Koston had done many masterful tricks, and climaxed the part with a 360-flip to noseblunt, and hence we were content to call him “the best street skater.” But I’ve never been content hearing Koston is “the best” anything without someone explaining what made his Yeah Right! part so unusually vivid; so, in the hope of turning praise for him into something more respectable and specific, I’m now going to attempt to explain just that.

(It won’t be long, just a paragraph or three.) Now groove on this: Eric Koston’s Yeah Right! part was so great – so unusually vivid – because it came off as an angrily ambitious part, or, analogously, because it came off as a “Fuck you; I’m-better-than-you part,” as a certain Chad Benson once said to me. Just think about it, how the part begins with Koston brandishing his own board over some clumsy crook, as he barks in quick hard tones that the crook “empty” his “pockets!,” which the crook doesn’t, which makes Koston swear harder, eyes finally growing wide as he seizes the crook’s shirt and screams in his face. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s an irate Koston, a Koston like we’d never seen him before, a most adrenalized Koston. That intro startled all of us, since it presented Koston anew, and what’s more it forever colored what followed next, since there was no way of forgetting that intro.

And what did follow? Well for one thing Frank Black’s gritty but soulful song “Los Angeles,” a song which I would’ve never thought fit for Koston’s style, and yet a song whose pounding energy only built upon the startling intro, quickly vivifying Koston’s ambitious skating. And about Koston’s skating, it really was quite ambitious, yet early on you could begin to feel it tinged with something else – with an anger – if you felt closely. For instance, after his first line, Koston does three manuals in a row in Barcelona, which marks the first of several patterns in his part in which he does three tricks in a row at a single spot, patterns set up as if to ensure that we saw how versatilely he can skate spots. It’s as if he commanded our noticing that about him, as if it was high time. Or if that’s too speculative for you, observe instead how Koston’s abilities exceed convention at moments, as though out of impatience. You can observe such in his leaping out of that bs-bluntslide and over the sidewalk, or when he combines three tricks into one (kickflip manual to fs-boardslide), or when he lands fairly beyond the necessary landing space (like with his switch bs-flip over the gap, or switch heel down the triple-set). Koston flashed forth those abilities, though not unblatantly. Still not convinced of the anger in the part? Well then at least notice that even though there’s two minutes of slow-mo at the part’s end, the rest of it has a rapid-fire rhythm of tricks, with most of the tricks only being shown once, which is important to note – since every one of the tricks is masterful. At last Koston merely had so many tricks to show, but not enough concern to make all of them flow fluidly together, which was a badass attitude of his. Koston mostly sought glory, not grace.

So what have I proven by saying all that? Well, essentially nothing, except that given how the intro interacts with the song, and how the song interacts with the skating, and how the skating is masterful anyhow, what probably made Koston’s Yeah Right! part so unusually vivid is that it came off as angrily ambitious. That’s my reasserted idea; I stand by it. The part was unlike any Koston part prior to it, and unlike any Koston part we’ll ever see again. And while people can blather what they will about Koston being “the greatest skater ever” in spite of his doubtful modern-day career, I hope we can at least now agree that his Yeah Right! part is his greatest gift to us ever.

It startled us; wowed us; it had a song that roused us; had lines and manuals and angry ambition too: Koston’s Yeah Right! part remains the greatest street part in the history of skating.

And Koston has never needed it said more, simply.


Koston turned 40!

About the author:

Wylie Tueting is twenty-five, and has lived in Edina, MN almost his entire life. If it’s insightful, he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2013, having majored (more or less) in English Fiction writing, while studying Latin and Greek on the side. He now spends his weekdays as a paraprofessional in schools, or working as a waiter’s assistant. Yet he spends his every day struggling to read, make bag lunches, write, iron clothes, study Spanish, post on Platinum, or skateboard. The thing about Wylie is: if you ask him about the history of Mexico or Grady Moquin, you’ll see a similar sequence occur: his eyes grow wide, his breath turns shallow, and his applying of the phrase it don’t get no better than! to both subjects. Wylie’s working on getting subtler about that, and he’s grateful for your time.

April 28, 2015

I Married A Raver

Stumble upon the 20-year-old Chloƫ Sevigny New Yorker profile:

During the day, ChloĆ« and Lila would hang out outside, with the skateboarders. Skateboarding is not quite equal-opportunity employment. The girls mostly watch. “You’d just sit there for hours waiting for people and watching people skate,” Lila says. “Skating is a little life style. They stick together. Skaters aren’t really into drugs. Just weed and booze. They shun hard drugs.”
You wish there were more on those guys, though they lurk in the background of 1994 NYC barely named--Harold, single name, comes up--while the writer lingers on fashion and kids at the club and thrift stores, so much of that.

I power ranked full length shoe company videos for Ride Channel in full and conscious anticipation of the Vans video that premieres Monday. I don't think I've seen Ride The Sky all the way through--tell no one.

News on Elliot Park: It's looking pretty good right now, FWIW. Been hearing lately of a bit of resistance to pristine plazas and an embrace of more traditional (read: shitty) skateparks. News:

Vadnais Heights is seeking input on a skatepark. They're operating off of a beginning Lion's Club donation of $2,000 and looking to fundraise for the thing, so, meager beginnings, but the more serious responses, the better.

File to "Bummer:" early reports indicate no Twin Cities stop on the Lakai/Emerica "Stay Flared tour, though there are Chicago, Milwaukee and Des Moines stops for those who feel like driving.

Another Wylie piece going up in a day or two.

April 20, 2015

Interesting Results

Details have come down from on high about this purportedly near-hour long offering, perhaps the end of a long line of big old skateboard videos that we think will be a thing of the past, at least in the near future. The showing is on a Monday night, a cool twist on the normal premiere plans, and tickets will be available at Familia and Calsurf, with some possibly more limited numbers available at the Uptown Theater's door. Be aware: The theater's capacity is a known number to event planners so plan on working your angles accordingly to get a ticket (which likely just involves going to one of the shops, politely asking for a ticket and probably buying something, for good measure). Sounds like tickets should be available next week.

What's there to expect? There were Dollin at the carwash rumors and expectations of more Rowley than not. It'll be interesting to see what Greg Hunt comes up with, outside of the stylistic confines of a Transworld or an AWS video. Also, one wonders if Propeller is going to favor Kyle Walker fans over backers of Jason Dill. Put another way, will this thing try to be a demographics panacea or follow some of the same economic realities that Pretty Sweet followed? Two weeks and we find out, baby.

The good folks at Village Psychic asked me about Minneapolis skate videos. For the long, click the link, for the short, we've been super fortunate for nearly two decades to have a steady-stream of super good local videos coming out of here.

We were once again skipped over for the skate blog Pulitzer Prize.

Transworld posted an interview with Chicago's Dave Ruta aka @koolmoeleo. The Q and A outlines the singular obsessiveness required to post insane amounts of scanned photos on Instagram, as well as cool stories about the Chicago skate scene that I'd only ever heard of second hand. There are even bits about half-started skate careers, too. H/T to Quartersnacks for the link.

Finally, found out over the weekend that Kevin Wilkins was relieved of his editor position at The Skateboard Mag, late last week. Wilkins took a chance on me as a skateboard magazine writer, something for which I'm forever grateful. He didn't shake-up your work unless you needed it, he was frustrated when something got killed, and he had his writers' backs. Wilkins' voice was a huge part of what made TSM so rad for so long; without him the magazine continues on its change of direction, for better or for worse. Thanks, Kevin, and good luck with the next thing.

April 14, 2015

Season Opener

Yeah, it's been a while--so long that I can only make pray hands at that third cantankerous comment on the last post from a month ago--so pray hands to everyone else, too.

For the time being, contemplate the vagaries of the printed/typed word/photographs and one-footers and stuff with Boil The Ocean. Also, purchase the latest/greatest from Wiskate, Too Stupid to Care. It's great.

Finally, eat up some vintage Elijah Collard shot by Terry Ferkey at Front Plaza today at lunch time--it's 75 degrees--and be satiated by the knowledge that I promise more posts soon. Promise. For now, check out The Heshdotcom, heard it's new, redesigned.

VP's got a new Narloch part all posted up.