Thrash metal legends Megadeth, condiment staple Kikkoman soy sauce, children’s television powerhouse Mr. Rogers, action movie blockbuster Terminator 2, cult cartoon Rick & Morty… these disparate cultural items come together as a sampling of the official collaborations of Primitive Skateboards. And they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sailor Moon, Tupac Shakur, Dragon Ball Z, Corona Beer, Marvel Comics, Anna Nicole, Biggie Smalls, Naruto Shippuden, Sri Racha, Transformers… it appears no intellectual property is off limits for P-Rod and Co.
The picture opens on faded graffiti on a rough, dilapidated wall.
The tight shot sketchily pans upward as a board appears to be handed from below to someone on the wall. It’s Ben Kadow in a beige Supreme sweater with sunglasses around his neck. The focus accidentally pulls to the leaves on the tree behind Ben as he looks forward. The image is never stationary.
An out-of-focus Kevin Rodriguez appears on Ben’s right, holding Ben’s shoulder for balance. We still aren’t sure exactly where we are. What is this obstacle? Is this going to be a trick from Ben or Kevin, or someone else entirely? Perhaps this is some sequence of them chilling at a spot while someone else is skating? So far, we know there are two skaters standing on or against some kind of old wall and there seems to be a breeze in the foliage behind them. The information is slow to come and of indeterminate importance.
The shot zooms out to reveal Ben and Kevin are balancing on some type of old pillar, the ornamental top of which Ben is holding onto. Is he supporting it or is it supporting him? Kevin, using Ben for balance, sets the board’s tail on some mantle on this structure and positions himself for a drop in. We’re still not sure how high up we are or what K-Rod is dropping into, but before we can really get any bearings, it is already happening.
Kevin drops in. The camera starts to pull out and pan down while the pacing switches to that chunked duplicated-frame type of slow-motion. The pan and zoom reveals Kevin is dropping in off this pillar into a banked iron rail of a support structure. Even in slow-mo we only see the entire obstacle for a fraction of a second, and even then Ben’s head is out of frame before we see the ground.
As Kevin gets four wheels on the ground the shot is already zooming in tight towards his feet. By the time he starts a frontside power slide, about 14 inches from the spot he landed, his torso it already out of frame. The ground is maybe stickier than he anticipated as his momentum carries him over his nose and he steps off. But we don’t see his feet hit the ground. The shot, which is still zooming tighter, has now started to tilt upward towards his face. His expression and body language is of frustration. He is out of focus a bit as he looks off camera to his right and covers his eyes with the back of balled fists. The camera continues its zoomed scanning past Kevin. The trees and sky become a blur of motion as the clip ends.
This one shot, a shot of a sort-of make of a gnarly gnarly drop-in (although it is hard to know exactly how gnarly since we really didn’t get to see who who obstacle for more than a moment), lasts 43 seconds (and I forgive you if you skipped my 5 paragraph description of it). It is just a possible throw-away trick from a tour edit, yet because of the extreme amateur ‘Strobeck’ filming, it contains more mystery, tension, suspense, and drama than would be inherit in the action alone. The clip moves slow and the action moves fast. It denies us so much information, yet is richer for it. Under the normal expectations of skate video viewing circumstances, this clip is infuriating.
And, more or less, the whole of Supreme’s Mind Goblin Berlin tour video is made from clips like these.
Team bloat is a real thing. Even once small, independent brands, should they be fortunate enough to taste real success and grow into global legitimacy, quickly face rosters that can expand unruly in size. Positive trends towards diverse teams that appeal to diverse demographics, not to mention international riders, can swell professional and paid amateur head counts to impractical levels.
There really isn’t much more to be said about Marisa Dal Santo‘s part in Zero‘s 2009 video, Strange World. Not that I’m discouraged from writing about it, or posting clips of it, or making data visualization charts of it. But, really, there are only so many ways to express “All Time Greatest Part by a Woman”. And while gender is significant to the discussion, it isn’t really a necessary qualifier to watch this part again and again. It is just a damn fun collection of grind-grabs, big drops, dope thrift store outfits, and our favorite no comply flip trick ever. Whether one wants to enjoy it as just a great skate edit, or as the greatest skate edit from a woman is a matter of context. It holds up either way.
Despite the fact that all skate videos are, in a way, specialized music videos, it is still a risky proposition to attempt to make an actual skate music video. The most obvious precedent that comes to mind is Peter Smolik‘s ill-advised music video part featuring The Fedaralz in Shorty’s Guilty video. While not exactly career ending, it certainly is an embarrassing marker for the upcoming rugged descent that continues to scrape the real life pillage of rock bottom. The lesson is clear: Skate to the music, edit to the music, but don’t put the band in your part.
My opinions about post-Drehobl Think Skateboards have been discussed here on the Warm Up Zone before. I believe I called them a ‘minor league team’ where future talent got some swings in before moving on to The Show and others toiled for years in obscurity. By the time the second decade of the present century came around, Think was pretty far from the mind of most skate deck consumers. Their final contribution to their skate video legacy didn’t hit with a lot of impact.
For 2012’s Business As Usual, the team is a veritable who’s who of “I didn’t know they rode for Think”. Josh Matthew’s opened it solid enough, perpetually overlooked Adrian Williams delivered what could be considered an SF classic part, and pre-toothpicked Cody Mac and Russ Milligan and Bachinsky were all there. And then, of course, Danny Fuenzalida, who had been pro for Think for at least 13 years by this point if you can believe that. Unfortunately, young Joey Guevara and Kevin Coakley had yet to join the team. And Brian De La Torre had departed for greener pastures a few months prior. Interesting footnote, though not relevant to this video, Manny Santiago was also on Think as late as 2011.
But if you only see one part from Business As Usual, make sure it’s that of Canadian closer Lee Yankou.
Many young skaters learning the craft in the early 1990s, like myself, had a ‘crew’ consisting of every skater in every high school in not only my town but all the neighboring towns. For me and the baggy-pantsed brethren this meant there were maybe 8 or so of us, not including the random dabblers and sit-boys. We would take turns purchasing the latest skate video on VHS and then, connecting two VCRs, record personal copies (usually in EP mode so you could fit a whole bunch onto one blank tape).
Some of the crew would make friends with some kids from New Haven or Hartford or New York and the extended network of spot access and skate gossip would steadily grow. As luck would have it, eventually the network included someone who was getting pretty ensconced in the national skate scene as a filmer, thus gaining for himself entry to insider events like video premieres and even invitations to California. From this connection we procured, sometime in the summer of 1996, a bootleg copy of Welcome to Hell.
The Foundation Super Company skateboarding brand, with over 25 years and 12 videos under their belts, once again found itself in serious rebuilding mode in the second half of the 2010s. Several years removed from the WTF! video, half the team had bounced or been dropped, and apparently Tod Swank didn’t really seem interested in utilizing tenured rider Corey ‘Duffman’ Duffel as the cornerstone of the latest iteration of the team. Could the big F, under the tutelage of TM Mike Sinclair, rise from the ashes yet another time?
It happens sadly not enough, but every so often, that you will encounter something that, even as it is happening, is glorious and memorable. It might not be a life altering there-was-before-and-there-was-after thing (then again it might), but it is a piece of something that will be with you forever and you understand this even while it is unfolding right before you.
It can be an incredible meal or a day of river swimming or an art exhibition or a film or a skate session or even just a song. But you get just a quarter of the way through and it just know that this could be IT. But will it sustain? Will it deliver on the promise it has set up thus far? The longer it continues the higher the potential for things to go awry but the greater the joy when it doesn’t crack. Each step further can transport us even deeper; Or will the next step be a misstep? But it doesn’t collapse into something merely impressive. The magic preserves and when it is over you know you just participated in, if merely through witnessing, something sublime.
While 1990 may have been the year that street style skateboarding eclipsed vert in progression and relevance, and 1992 may have seen boards gets symmetrical while tricks got big and dangerous, but, by my analysis, 1994 was the year it all came together. Raw East Coast skating started to get is proper documentation with Dan Wolfe’s Eastern Exposure 2 and Sub Zero videos. Over in Southern California, heavy skate parts like Kris Markovich in Prime’s Fight Fire With Fire and new-to-Plan B Jeremy Wray in Second Hand Smoke added significant nails to the slow-rolling-prayer-flip-to-curb-grind-combo coffin. But arguably the video that made the biggest impact in skateboarding during that significant year was Stereo’s A Visual Sound.