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.


Anonymous said...

also to note is his angry hair. he'd had the same clean hair cut his entire career.

sprntrl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wylie Tueting said...

Well then "his angry hair" intensifies it; I concur.