Thursday, June 30, 2016

Skate Videos. Why I Hate and Love Them.

I grew up with skate videos. Or rather, skate videos and I grew up together. From the first efforts of Powell in the 80s, to the recent Adidas high production premier, it’s been an interesting trip. In the early years I was stoked to see a new video. They were watched over and over again. They inspired people to go skating. Now, skate videos are worse than a scorching case of Panda AIDS, Zika, and SARS all combined into a neat 20 minute advertisement.

Modern skate videos are a tedious bore. A tragedy to make Homer jealous. Skateboarding has become hard to watch. Golf might offer more excitement. Skate videos are no longer inspiring. They don’t make you want to go skate. They don’t spread the stoke. It’s more like watching someone doing algebra. The specific problem dovetails into two (well, maybe three) issues that make contemporary skate videos a soul-crushing nightmare.

First, is saturation. In order to maintain market relevancy, everyone is releasing 3x video clips a week. Combine that with the sheer number of companies in skateboarding right now, and we’re talking Old Testament floodwaters.

Second, is predictability. Before I even watch the newest video, I know what I am going to see. Super tech ledge tricks. Something gnarly down a handrail. A big gap. **Yawn** It’s just become so, so, fuckin’ predictable. Once you’ve seen footage of Jaws skating gaps, everything else becomes pretty mundane. How many more combos can Shane O’Neil string together on a ledge? It just all passes a point of absurdity.  Maybe I am just old. Maybe I have just seen too much skateboarding. How many kickflips over an X can one man possibly be expected to endure before utter madness sets in? While I may not be able to predict the exact combo, when I see Nyjah skating towards a ledge, I know what is about to happen (it will be something like a Tre flip to nose grind to nollie flip out). I just can’t watch it anymore, and still be moved by it. Yes, Nyjah has absurd talent. Yet, he is also absurdly uninspiring to watch skate, which brings me to the last issue.

The fun factor. Watching a lot of modern stunt-man skating does not look like fun. It looks horrifying, or so tech that it’s just…goofy. Olleing down 25 stairs? I mean, like, HOLY FUCK, that is sooo gnarly, but it screams shattered bones before it even approaches something that looks like fun. Bigflip to f/s railslide to kickflip out. Yeah, crazy hard, nothing I’d ever be able to do, but it just doesn’t speak to me. Modern videos document, but they do not inspire. Sure, some may be inspired by most modern skate videos. I am just not one of those people.

Yet, not everything falls into the “unwatchable.” There are still a lot of videos out there, which simply rock the world. The only videos I can watch these days are ones where I have absolutely no fucking idea what is going to happen next. A few examples are below. What makes these special is, well, watch for yourself. I don’t need to explain it.

The Pyscho Killer / Glenn "Glenzig" Davidson video, which can be seen here.

Any video made by Fancy Lad.

The Magenta Guys have this radness going.

Jerry Gurney. This one takes a bit to get going, and then, wow. The real fun doesn't start until about 45 seconds in.

Richie Jackson. This is simply amazing stuff.

Mike V. and the crew are also putting out clips that is just pure fucking fun, and make you want to go skating more than anything else. Just how it should be.  

EDIT/POST-SCRIPT: A few comments about this post were made on Facebook between a friend and I. They should probably be included.

Jose: The 1 8 makes rad videos that still inspire....when they make a video!

Me: I debated mentioning the 1 8 in this post. I left them out because, well, like almost everything else they do, it's in its own world. Fucktards was so raw. Tent City to Destination Unknown, to the recent "Landfill Contributors" clips on the AH web site...all amazing stuff.

Jose: They never tire cause it's real skateboarding. Hanging out with your bros capturing those moments sometimes when you're actually filming and not just on a filming mission.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Man, I wish I had lived a less authentic life.”

Well, it’s June. That means gay pride events/parades around the country. For the last week or so, for some reason, I have felt compelled to write something about this subject. I am not quite sure why. Actually, compelled isn’t the right word, “obligated” is. Again, I ask why. The gay pride parade in Boston is this Saturday. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.

The first “pride” event, in June of 1969, was a bunch of liquored-up transsexual/transgender/drag queen prostitutes who started an actual riot, in retaliation of/for/to police brutality at a local gay bar in NYC. That night they decided to vote with a brick. Three nights of riots followed (sounds a lot like modern police/race relations, actually). Today, gay pride parades are family orientated events. They are often nothing more than advertisements for corporate banks, local politicians, and churches. People march down the street in pretty rainbows, behind a nice little banner with assorted corporate logos, as if they are walking commercials. Street League for homosexuals. Is this what we fought for all these years? To walk behind a bank’s advertisement? I know I am oversimplifying the issue, but at the same time, I am absolutely not.

I suppose I feel compelled obligated to write something about “pride” because I know how important it is to be “out.” It’s a lot harder to be a homophobic asshole when one of “those people” is someone you “know.” That, in turn, helps make the world a more livable place for everyone. Part of me wants to touch on that issue, especially in the context of skate culture, because I am indeed one of “those” people (and skateboarding could certainly use it). Or maybe I could talk about, how what I learned from skateboarding, helped me to actually “come out” some 20+ years ago (I covered this in some other posts, anyway). But, I am so over per se identity politics (even if the GOP seems pretty obsessed with us). I’ve been “out” for over 20 years. At least in my life, being queer is mostly a moot point by now. It’s just like…*yawn*. Big fucking deal. Do I need to rehash this, again? Can't we go get tacos, or skate a curb? To those who think of me, or anyone, as lesser person because of their sexual orientation, I'd be more than happy to take the claw side of a hammer to your face.

And yet another part of me just wants to unleash on everything I despise about so-called gay culture. Because of skateboarding, I grew up dirty, bruised, bleeding, in the streets, running from the police, listening to crazy-ass music, and hanging out with crazy-people, as we did crazy-ass shit. The world of high-fashion, fancy cocktails, show tunes, rainbows, some pop-diva wailing about some bullshit, and overall fabulousness makes me want to cut off my own arm, and then fist myself with my own severed limb. Ok, maybe I’m being a little bit dramatic (I am gay, after all. I mean, we’re supposed to be dramatic, or something). That said, I don’t really want this blog to be focused on negative stuff, so I am really hesitant to totally unleash. I also don’t want a skate-based blog to be focused on what I hate about gay culture. It just doesn’t fit. I mean, there is nothing inherently wrong with all of that stereotypical “gay” stuff I listed above, it’s just not a world I can relate to, at all. Glitter, rainbows, Armani, and Madonna? Fuck that. Blood, bikes, skateboards, and punk rock.

So, in terms of what to write about all this, these reservations just leave me with a void. A void that I still feel an obligation to fill. I guess the only thing I really have to say, which I learned from both being a skater, and from being “queer,” is to be who ever the fuck you are, and tell the rest of the world to go fuck themselves. One thing I know or sure, is that no one, NO ONE, on their deathbed is going say, “Man, I wish I had lived a less authentic life.” Be who ever you are, and rock that party as hard as you fuckin' can.

My gay ass, nollie backside lipslide up the block at a local DIY spot.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Safety Last

And…I’m out on injury. Again.

The last year I have been plagued by injury. Two bad sprains. Tendonitis in two different spots. With physical therapy, the latter was making good head-way. I was skating a lot more, and getting a lot of the rust off (from being out on injury). I couldn’t skate as much, as long, or as hard, as I wanted, but I was skating, and that is better than nothing. This week I actually thought one afternoon, “Hmm. I haven’t been off-the-board injured in awhile.” Spoke too soon. The very next day, I jacked my right foot bailing a backside blunt on a Jersey barrier. Here is a small feeble grind I did moments before the b/s blunt injury. 

What I wouldn’t give at this point to just have solid 3 months of skating without injury, without having to hold back how often/hard/long I skate for, and without being in some serious joint/tendon pain the following day. The reality is am 42, not 22. Age is a real thing. I have almost resigned myself to the fact that I will never again be injury/pain free for an extended period. And isn’t that just disheartening. On the other hand, ever time I have fallen, I have gotten back up. Every time I have been injured, I have healed. I have no question that I will yet again. In the meantime, there is acute frustration. Frustration that I can’t do what I love, and frustration that I know injury is going to be more and more common and frequent as time goes on. Lance Mountain made that one comment, “Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder; not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder.” Some real truth to that, as only the injured know. And then there is the John Lucero quote, “My knees are ruined. My back is blown out. I have a hard time walking. I’m going to have a hard time getting up out of this chair in a second, and it’s all because of skateboarding. And it feels so good. It feels so good to know that you’re a skateboarder, and that’s it.”

There is no question that I will be back on the board again. There is also no question that, eventually, I will again be off the board due to some unknown future injury. Both are inevitable. The ying and yang of being a 40+ skater. "Sometimes you have to just say “fuck it” and keep doing the possibly injurious thing, because even that fall will lift you up in the end." -Concrete Lunch. There is also this and this, great posts on essentially the same topic.

Safety last. Life first.