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March 5, 2015
March 4, 2015
"DEBRI2: A Worthy Sequel"
By: Wylie Tueting
DEBRI2--composed by Philip Schwartz and Pete Spooner--debuted on February 20, 2015, from about 8 p.m. to 8:30, and as I walked back to my car around 8:50, checking my mind for the word that best captured the video, I realized I didn’t have it. So I rewatched the video that night, and by the time dawn broke, I had it: fine.
DEBRI2 is fine. I don’t mean that in some namby-pamby folksy way, nor do I really mean it in the way that Lamborghinis or Spanish swords are fine. I mean fine in the sense that DEBRI2 is attentively filmed and edited, while its skating is of high Midwestern merit, and that such things grant the viewer a satisfaction uncommon to most skate videos. Yeah, that’s the kind of fine I mean. After all, DEBRI2 has modern black and white imagery, though within limits; has transitions between parts that fluidly merge instead of clunkily announce; has songs that color the skating without saturating the skating; and has skaters who skate ruggedly and distinctively but especially realistically, since they have actual jobs, not time to skate endlessly--to name some examples. Some fine examples. I mean, how many mainstream videos have such examples? Nothing But the Truth absolutely didn’t, nor Extremely Sorry, nor exactly Pretty Sweet, nor...
But the list only goes on, and we’re getting carried away. So without further ado, let’s just take a careful look at DEBRI2: a truly fine video, and a worthy sequel to DEBRIS.
Spacey noises begin DEBRI2, a cheery melody blends with them, and the next thing you know we’re seeing a montage of infrastructure in the metro, in a way. At first it looks like old traffic footage, as it’s in black and white, showing an aerial view of some highway cloverleaf. But then we see a downtown Minneapolis cable car, and soon after that the Uptown Theater, among other sights, and we realize that the footage is modern. We also realize that Phil or Pete must’ve filmed it, in order to catch the local color of the metro: its streets, buildings, alleys, marquees, skaters, black guys, etc., even if in winter and even if in black and white. And if that sounds like mere summary of the video’s intro, that’s the point. Those are its main aspects, and they work well to create something that is artfully brief as well as in sync with the DEBRIS aesthetic, which seems retro yet modern.
Now let’s talk about Nate Cameron, boasting the first part. Nate Cameron--no more than three years ago--used to skate like you and I: he’d do fs-tailslides, fs-half-cabs, and good fs-180s. But Nate no longer skates thus. No, Nate skates powerfully and precisely. This was Nate’s maiden part, yet he skates like a seasoned local, doing original tricks at, well, unoriginal spots. Behold! his bs-wallride on the Government Center bench, his ollie over the mini handrails at the U-of-M bus stop, and his no-comply atop the grass after that statue--all of which are part of lines. That’s some truly original stuff. But Nate’s skating isn’t just original; it’s now powerful and precise, even quite athletic. It’s pretty hard not to see this, by the time his song hits burnout solo and Nate’s popping over a hydrant to land on both curb-and-street, proceeding to fs-smith a shoulder-high ledge--both tricks of which are, again, part of a line. Because Nate actually does lines, just like he does a fs-50 on a windowsill, just like he does a no-comply 270 onto a ledge, and just like he ends his part by doing a fs-50-50 on a thigh-high rail that curls sharply by a window: all rich things, which make vibrant Nate’s part.
Next part, and we’re looking at a dreary puddle on the street, in black and white. But it’s fleeting, since the image adjusts, turns to color, and is vivified by a skater doing a no-comply through the puddle itself, slip-ons be damned. This is the winter skating part, more interlude than anything. It’s nothing that special, nor is it dull. And quite frankly, I’d never seen a winter skating part until DEBRI2, so I’m just going to call the part undeniably refreshing. An instrumental jungle tune fuels it, underscoring that to skate in the winter is to skate truly in the wild, since conditions couldn’t be worse. Which is why I (and probably you) refuse to do it, unlike the guys here. They make a valiant attempt, and score some gems along the way. Mr. Cameron gets a line; Mr. Schwartz gets involved with something ’80s; Mr. Bollis’ rock-n-roll to fakie is dramatic, flecks of snow scattering off the mound; and Mr. Nelson’s fs-50-50 on the round bar I wouldn’t try in winter if you paid me, i.e., his landing it is really very impressive.
Now fast forward a tad, and it appears that David is struggling to ride onto a curb. But that’s not he; rather, it’s Simon Phuong in black and white, indeed as sure as it’s a new part: the friends’ section. An unobjectionable beatnik song kicks in, and Simon starts the section proper, with a fs-180 and switch bs-wallie, looking more natural than Chris Joslin ever will. Which is to say that this friends’ section, unlike other friends’ sections, really does capture the skating of friends: plainer, looser, sketchier, hardier. And that makes it only more elating. You can try to resist smiling--as John Herbert fights for a fs-50-50 to bs-180 to switch nose-manual to revert--but I don’t think you’ll manage it. Why? Because such skating reflects the stuff of life, not the stuff of The Berrics. The section has many delights – and, too, some oddities. Jeremy Reeves’ threading-of-the-needle will part your lips; Rayshaun Crawford’s fs-noseblunt stall will make you wish he skated more; Huey and Narloch’s footage will sadden then gladden you, as they’re skating all the same; Dom Randazzo’s hippie-jump will unsettle you for infinite reasons; and finally, the NYC footage will engage you, since the tricks are so raw and distinct, but not without leaving you to wonder, must the ender have been one, too? Of course.
Now let’s talk about the ambitious guy: Jan Jacobson, whose part follows. When I think of Jan, my mind leaps to some faceless northern European, content but complacent in their life. I don’t know why that is, other than that it’s something at sharp odds with Jan’s skating--no less his DEBRI2 skating--debatably his best. Jan’s skating feels like it comes pounding through the video, accentuated by (ahem) the pounding tones in his song. Jan seems on a mission; he seems badass. You should catch that from his first line, as he ollies up a curb and then over a sizable rock-gap. Where’d Jan get the nerve to do that? It isn’t important, as he’s engaging us in other ways before we know it. Jan’s fs-flips and bs-flips are oddly precise, and that’s great, since who doesn’t like a surprise? Jan’s lines are quick, but end not without a bang: observe his high switch bs-crook, his switch fs-heel over the hydrant, and his bs-50-50 to fs-180 onto the makeshift tabletop as it reels from the blow, all of which end lines. That is some aggressive stuff. Which is why I’m especially glad that David Jaimes’s most beautiful fakie bs-lipslide to goofy at the History Center was skillfully inserted into the part, as if cooling Jan’s heat. Because by the time Jan has nollie fs-noseslid that hubba, gapped to fs-board that rail, and pop-shuv-ited over that bar, you’ve seen a set of tricks that probably involved more effort than you’d want to know: proof of Jan’s increasing drive. With zero irony, Jan: it’s a truly accomplished part.
After Jan’s part, things turn hazily more serious--that is to say, poetic--once the Familia part begins. We see slowed, black and white close-ups of Tabari, Kirian, Vinnie, and sort of Aaron. Ominous piano keys sound, making all four of them seem maturer, as though about to pass away. Over-sensitive ideas aside, the Familia part is acutely strong, in respect to its skating interacting with its editing. The skating starts when the music crescendoes, Aaron taking the lead with his loose yet tight style. Aaron has several tricks in the part, but his best trick rather seems his line at the Government Center; just relish how sturdy his board, shoes, and style look there! Real visually pleasing, that is. But even still, it might not visually please you as much as Vinnie’s bs-tailslide to fakie on the concrete barrier, the camera first zooming in on his sable, shirtless, picture-perfect skater’s body: the very clip a thing of Art, and the very part carrying Vinnie’s best skating. But this might be turning homoerotic, so let me just make a few more points. Kirian’s skating here is not his best, and yet it’s strangely appealing. He makes linear, sensible choices: a good kickflip, a two-trick line, a fs-50-50 through the knob. His simplicity doesn’t disappoint. Not one for simplicity, however, is CJ, whose clips yet elevate the part, just as it’s losing force. In fact, CJ’s tricks contrast so much from others in the part that: it’s as if they move with supernatural force. Call me annoying for that last idea, but after Sissi’s tricks come off as jaunty throwbacks, and Tabari’s ender as deft skating mixed with impromptu surfing--you should sense what I mean. It’s a Familia part like you’ve never seen. Now what could possibly come next? Don’t act like you don’t know, even if you simply forgot: Pat Gallaher’s finale part. At the debut, Pat’s part elicited a most calm reaction from the crowd: there were some necessary oohs and aahs, but other than that, the crowd was quiet. While one could endlessly guess what accounted for that, I’m just going to say this: Pat’s rawly mature skating, coupled with his airy song, when edited artfully as a final part, equals one of the most distinct parts you’ve ever seen. And the effect of that is likely to give anyone pause, which is a rare reaction to skateboard parts, but a no less good one, and hence for this one: Pat Gallaher’s part. (You’ve just got to think about it.) Yet regardless of artistic effect, Pat’s skating is a pleasure to watch here, if not because his build is narrow and upright, his tricks regular as much as switch, his spots rough more than smooth – then because this is his fifth or sixth part independent of sponsorship. You have to know of Pat’s steady output, in order to fully appreciate the part. In it he looks and is older, but that he’s still pushing his body for original tricks is inspiring. Just think how subtly scary that fs-50-50 to bs-180 on that bar would be, or that fakie-flip in the wood-yard, or those two switch 360-flips over gaps--all of which he lands with ease. Pat still has major aplomb, though it can seem like he’s not as good now as he should be. But in a way, he is just that good, if better. I don’t know that Pat could’ve formerly done that first line so competently. Nor do I know that he could’ve done that switch fs-180 manual to bs-180 into tail-snap, so gracefully. But what ultimately surprised people most at the debut, was Pat’s nollie fs-180 to switch bs-crook at South High. He’d definitely never done that before. Although, something that Pat had already done at South High--and which he did again in that final clip--was effortlessly ride over the terrible crack that sits at the landing of that handrail. Everyone else lifts up their truck when they ride over it, but Pat still makes it seem like it isn’t even there. If nothing else, things like that make Pat’s part so pleasurable.
So there you have it: a thorough, rather amusing, hopefully honest but generally subjective review of DEBRI2. It’s a truly fine video, if you didn’t already catch that. You can wait weeks or months until two or three or whatever-amount-more of its parts are on YouTube. But DEBRI2 is a fine video, and as such it has things that you’ll never fully notice, nor ever fully appreciate, unless you put yourself in control and get your own copy. Pretty Sweet and the like aren’t going anywhere too far; DEBRI2 get to the root of matters.
Buy the video here or at finer skateshops.
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.