Physical Graffiti

February 18, 2013

physgraf.bldng

“What are you, some kind of masochist?,” as the one-shot intro to Pretty Sweet appeared on a drop-down screen at a local bar.

My friend posed this question to me after I told him that I had still not seen the vid almost a month after its digital web-based release. There is a good reason for this.

My 2001-era heavy-as-fuck tube tv had died, so I acquired a high definition tv as a replacement. Knowing that the release of Pretty Sweet loomed, my other friend recommended a blu-ray player because of all the aps that come with it, like Netflix and shit like that. So I had this whole new setup–just a chill place to watch physical skate vids, the NBA, and “Girls”(natch). I mean, if this is the last vid part for Carroll and them, I’m gonna watch it on my own terms, not like some suburban tri-state area hedge fund manager watching pRon in his upstairs office.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Therefore, to iTunes it would be, effectively, flushing money down the toilet. I waited for my local shop to get the shipment, then drove over there after work. However, I went to the beach for the weekend the next day, so had no time to set up a  proper Girl/Choc viewing experience. Subsequently, I waited another week. Time is meaningless to me. I am a very patient person–hence the amount of time it takes me to write something for this site.

But consequently, I became ensnared in a “Modern Seinfeld” -type scenario* in which I found it literally impossible to go about my daily business without coming across spoilers. Minor spoilage on the internet is par for the course, but I went to the shop to set up a deck and they were watching Olson’s part. Went to the aforementioned “Skate Night” monthly? Showing it at the bar. I needed a Michael Jackson sensory-deprivation chamber to preserve the sanctity of the watching-a-highly-anticipated-skate-vid-for-the first-time experience.I had transformed into a disconnected acolyte of a bygone age.

The age of physical media.

Ironically, after selling off my analog physical media collection during a move, I had spent the next 10 years downloading every vid I possibly could via every possible technological method –p2b, Bitorrent, megaupload (RIP), mIRC, usenet. Now, however, though I still watch internet videos by the truckload, I take pride in my physical media collection.**  I obtained some classy metal bookends from work to display it. Maybe at some point I will construct an even classier wooden shelf or even a physical media room–like a  skate version of Steve Buscemi’s character in Ghost World. ***

ANYWAY, the time finally came to watch the vid. My girlfriend agreed to view it with me. We heated up some fried aps, (via the “we got aps” scene in Beautiful Girls). First of all, skate vids on blu-ray look fucking awesome; you can almost feel the grit on that Cali schoolyard asphalt. As QS noted in their review, Jesus skates to the best possible song, and one would be hard-pressed to think of better #musicsupervision for Cory Kennedy, Olson,**** MJ (more on him later) or the “New L.A. Guy” Stevie Perez. Indeed, it seems as if they consciously attempted to deliniate the LA lineage from Perez to the first-gen. L.A. guys by selecting a song that maintains the same key (I think? any musicians out there?) and beats per minute as Gabriel’s song in Paco. Indeed, that would be a sick blend had I both tracks on vinyl, plus a mixer and some tables.

In addition, the aforementioned Kennedy busts out one of the most esoteric bank-to-ledge tricks of all time (270 nollie flip to b/s 5/0), while proving that it’s okay to blow off a game of s.ka.t.e. if one has just released a transcendent video part. Eldridge has it figured out, on some one-filming-mission-every-five-years shit. However, the concepts he demonstrates on that otherworldly Chinese marble are clean as fuck, like that 360 flip noseslides and long-ass frontside bluntslide (super hard trick to lock into). It would have been sick if Raven’s part was just him skating a bowl for three minutes; personally, it’s interesting as fuck to watch someone so adept at skating bowls kill one, cause I’m learning how to skate that shit.

It’s a process.

physgraf.bookends

Which brings us to MJ and Guy, two of the final three parts and most culturally significant. MJ hasn’t appeared this clean (concept-wise) and just fuckin’ on it since the Tiltmode vid. Schoolyard lines, white button downs (#trendwatch2013?), and a complete absence of slow-mo lifestyle footage give this part a completely different feel from the rest of the vid, on some Wes Anderson shit, almost. Dude also throws the first legit 360 flip out of a frontside bluntslide. I had thought Rob Welsh did one in the Mad Circle era tho(?).

Much has been made of Guy’s song choice, and I guess it was explained well in that one article that appeared on the Worldwide Leader’s web site. Truth be told, it would have been sick if Guy skated to “Common People” (Shatner cover, natch, because PJ already skated to the orig. in a pre-PHWHL Coliseum vid).

However, if one takes the macro view of the song choice, two aspects stand out: one–it is a live recording, and two–it is by a female singer. At first, it seems like an obvious choice to juxtapose the last song in in artist’s set to the last part in a video. However, think back to the handful of times a live recording has been used in a skate vid. Then, try to pare that list down to the instances of using the opening song in a set as the opening song in a video.

I am 99% sure that you are left with “I Don’t Know” from the Virtual triple-screen intro.

These two songs bookend the Guy/Carroll/Koston/Howard era. The Osborne/Rhoads composition emphasizes the the existential quest everyone must undertake, while simultaneously championing the free will to determine whether one “wins” or “loses,” whatever that means. The Lissie performance, on the other hand, mirrors the consequences of twenty years on said quest, coupled with the inevitable breakdown of #sevendayweekend, or some shit like that.

In addition, the frenetic, nervous vibe reflects Guy’s new narrative. In the Mouse era, he [apocryphally] chilled, smoked weed, and played Playstation 1 until Tim Dowling called him up and he was like “Oh word, we gotta go film?” Fully Flared had the whole redemption/12-step vibe. In Pretty Sweet , though, he seems to be trying to do everything all at once to make up for lost time,***** almost as if the anxiety of the looming deadline affected him physiologically by literally making his hair stand on end.

As for the content of the part itself, switch b/s noseblunt to frontside heel out is almost crazier than his ender,****** and dude deserves credit for just thinking of switch laser flipping out of a b/s 180 ng on a bank-to-bench. If you gave me a yellow legal pad and three hours to brainstorm “crazy” bank-to-ledge tricks I doubt that would be one of them.

Truth be told, though, I don’t think about laser flips that much, even when I think about skating, which takes up a large percentage of my day. Like, in a meeting, when someone’s talking I’m usually skating EMB.

Oh yeah–Kostons b/s tail 270 out is sick; kinda like something he would do on a double-sided curb in NEXT. Still trying to figure out if that wallride was ironic though. Also tripped out on Sheff/Carroll/Way in the credits.

***

Over the past three months, I probably heard “Bands A Make Her Dance” in the car 90% of the times I went to pick my kids up from their mom’s house. This is due to the fact that the minivan lacks satellite radio, and I am to lazy to transfer the satellite radio unit for only one trip. Subsequently, I end up listening to the local terrestrial “Urban” station, which plays edited versions of current popular rap. If you have ever heard an edited version of a current rap song, though, you know that the editing process, whatever that entails, renders the song borderline unlistenable. However, listening to the edited version is ostensibly the right parental decision, even though my kids already know literally every curse word.

One week, however, they began to ask me some questions about the song, like “why does he keep saying the name of the song over and over again?” and, of course, “what is this song about?”

I replied that it is about a group of ladies that dance–professionally.

This is what happens when one grows up listening to ignorant-ass hip-hop and never stops listening to it. It’s okay though; kids don’t really think that deeply about explicit content. Like, when I was a young’un, my dad used to rock out to that Eric Clapton live tape, the one with the sick version of “Cocaine.” I think that was his favorite song on it; he used to rock out to it so fuckin’ hard that, when he came home from work, he would stay in his car until finished. I didn’t think “whoa, this song makes cocaine sound really cool, I’m gonna go try it,” nor did I conclude that “whoa, this is a really effective cautionary tale about the dangers of doing the drug cocaine, I’m never gonna try it.” I just thought it was a word that sounded cool in the context of the song. Kinda like the phrase “bands a make her dance.”

Circles, bro, life fuckin’ moves in circles.

ANYWAY, along with committing to ignorant-ass hip-hop until I die, I am also committed to the Nineties template of  loose-fitting clothing x ledge/schoolyard line skating. Therefore, as you could probably imagine, I am amped on the DGK full-length vid Parental Advisory, which I have yet to obtain in physical form. ******* The DGK camp utilized their budget to synthesize  more polished skits than Trilogy, yet also pay homage to the era in which skating, hip-hop and graffiti coexisted organically. Wade continues his immaculate evolutionary-Rudy Johnson phase from that “Da Playground” part, and can you think of a more perfectly leveled out nollie heelflip than Marcus’ off that bump? Also, did Kalis make a conceptual choice to film his part entirely in ‘merican plazas? If so, the Korean Orthodontist Plaza’s sick on-film aesthetics surely influenced this decision. Keelan Dadd pulled a Jovantae Turner by going pro after a transcendent video part and deserves a lifetime achievement award for coming out the gate [nullus] with a switch double heel and switch 360 flip on flat–just for the fuck of it.

physgraf.casilas

Indeed, the way Dadd casually 270’s out of stuff reminds me of Tae 270ing out of noseslides at EMB, kinda. Along those lines, it should be noted that in almost every Stevie interview he references Love Child and Tim and Henry’s as conceptual touchstones for PA. It’s also safe to assume that his 5/0 to f/s nose at Parallel is a Sanchez homage, kinda like 1/3 of MJ’s part in Fully Flared. However, in terms of the shit I like to write about, the two focal points of the vid are Texeira and Curtin.

Oddly enough, when Texeira first came out onto the scene, I dismissed him as another Brazilian contest robot. However, over the past few years and consistent viewings of his The Firm part[s] and his ridiculously consistent output, it’s clear that he’s in the conversation for Best Dude Out, alongside Lucas and them. In my mind, the Brazilian tech dudes all have the same narrative; learned to skate in a patch of dirt in some City of God-esque shantytown and triumphed by sheer force of will [no Niezche]. In reality, Brazil probably has a more chill scene and better parks than most of ‘Merica. For example, that one super-open plaza with a few ledges that they all skate looks fuckin’ perfect. If there is a park in ‘Merica that has wisely incorporated open space like that, I have yet to see it.

Funny thing, if all the Brazilian dudes–including Pedro Barros, whom every transition skater i know sweats mad hard–started their own team, and partnered it with some legit marketing and branding, it would be the most #elite super-team ever. More #elite than Plan B 3.5 or Plan B 2.0, for sure.

ANYWAY, Texeira has developed into an international ledge assassin, sticking to a part-a-year schedule and handling his business in a highly professional (via the Portman flick, natch) manner, influenced by a potent combination of Alchemist beats (in the same way Rza influenced early Gino) and late-#90s ledge-tech. Didn’t see too much Barcelona in this one, but he shreds the usual China marble in addition to more esoteric locales such as Macao (I think) and staples such as Lockwood and The Korean Orthodontist Plaza. He may not jump down those ridonkulous Euro hubbas anymore, but a whole section, for all practical purposes, of picnic table and ledge NBD’s at the end of his part will do nicely, thank you.  Has anyone ever mixed a song with the track it sampled in a video part before? Shit’s dope; hopefully this practice will #trend in 2013.

physgraf.curtinjersey

Which brings us to the best Jackson Curtin video part since Pack A Lunch. As soon as the camera pans up on the white marble stairs–Pulaski is still the coolest-looking skate spot out–it’s obvious this is going to be one of those “watch before skating” parts. In addition, this section is notable for two reasons: as Pilot Light noted, Curtin demonstrates a functional sartorial template for thirty-ish white dudes who still listen to ignorant-ass hip hop, and the use of a posse cut. Regarding the former, dri-fit™ technical shirts are super effective for skating (or running, via #whitestylez). About the latter, my rudimentary internet research failed to dredge up the use of a posse cut in a skate vid since “Live at the BBQ” in that montage in Let the Horns Blow. 

I mean, it kind of blows my mind that, in the mid-to-late 00’s no one edited a montage to one of DJ Khaled’s hood anthems, with a different dude skating to each verse. Furthermore, was there ever a more effective use of conceptual #musicsupervision than in the aforementioned montage? Looking back, it’s hard to verbalize how fuckin’ on point Mad Circle was in terms of art direction–like a more stylized version of Howell’s early flirtation with hip-hoppery, or a more hip-hop Stereo, back when Stereo had cool art direction and actually paid people, if only $500 month or whatever pro’s made in 1994. I still watch Scott Johnston’s part like once a week, as an archetype of chill, low-impact tech skating. It’s okay that he only released about two minutes of footage over the subsequent 12 years, because that part is so fuckin’ chill. So chill, in fact, it warrants a rudimentary re-edit to “Music Sounds Better With You.”

ANYWAY, when Waka’s verse come’s on at the start of that one line at The Korean Orthodontist Plaza, it’s hype as fuck–as if the viewer is a skate commando on an urban assault mission. I think I’m making that connection because it reminds me of the two or so times I took the Peter Pan bus from the city to PHILA; it was only like $20 at the time. Granted, with the small banks, Newport, and BAM all active, there wasn’t really a pure skate reason to make the trip, but I was courting a Bryn Mawr chick at the time so you know how that goes. But the Philly bus station was only a couple blocks from City Hall, so when you arrived it was if you had been dropped in off a C-130 or some shit. 

Finally, just as modern hip-hop has changed since the Trilogy era, so has the narrative element of hip-hop video productions. Ostensibly, this was something that Stevie set out to keep pace with in PA. At first viewing, the skits may appear corny. However, like they said in the Bones Brigade doc,******** skits in skate vids need to be corny, otherwise they’d be too sentimental or whatever. If you go for emotional gravitas you’ll end up with Street Dreams, or even worse, Hardflip. Along with the increase in narrative, there has been this movement to make everything in daily life like a #movie, or as club promoters would have you believe, “IT’S A #MOVIE!!!” Off the top of my head, there’s that one T.I. vid that’s like 8 minutes long with the narrative voice over and, of course, the recent Young Scooter “visual” for “Columbia.” Truth be told, the teaser for “Columbia” –which also features voice-over narration– is more narrative in essence than the “visual” itself. Indeed, the full-length kind of reverts to rap video cliches like rental Ferraris and rapping in front of an old house. In addition. it leaves (no pun intended) us with a slew of unanswered questions: what becomes of the Isabella? Who is Hector? Does Young Scooter actually develop a system for fabricating drugs in his literal backyard, like a hood version of Breaking Bad or some shit?

The world may never know. #pitchideas (?)

it doesn't get much more #90s than a 40 in a brown paper bag at an active skate spot

it doesn’t get much more #90s than a 40 in a brown paper bag at an active skate spot

The conclusion of Parental Advisory also leaves the viewer with a series of cliffhangers; when Stevie emerges from the ambulance, is that the afterlife, or whatever? Does he gain the ability to stop time, via Zack Morris? In any event, the video provides somewhat of a working philosophical template for#90s dudes, who will appreciate the cameos and visual references, while the youth of today will dig the ignorance.

Moving forward, though, what does the future hold for hip-hop white guys? Is there an age limit on wearing loose fitting sportswear? How long can one continue listening to ignorant-ass #current hip-hop? There are a couple examples/theories that can help clarify this.

Firstly, Welsh. A couple years ago, I noted that my propensity to both walk like I am at war and talk like I am at war (not necessarily in that order) increases my value in the modern-day workplace. Indeed, for the past decade, Welsh has served has the patron saint of white dude skate hip-hoppery. Recently, though, he has entered a Waylon Jennings phase or some shit. That’s okay though. He follows in the footsteps of Kid Rock, who started out on Jive, touring with Ice Cube ‘n shit, and later became an evolutionary Bob Seger-type dude, but more country or whatever. His country songs, like “Single Father” and the anthem “Only God Knows Why,” are legitimately tight as fuck. I’d say he started mining that vein when he was 33-35. So let’s say, for arguments sake, that 33-35 is when white dudes, generally, veer away from hip-hop aesthetics.

HOWEVER, (via Stephen A,), this New York Mag article offers evidence to the contrary:

“There’s no reason why, at the age of 60, I should still be listening to the [ignorant-ass hip-hop],” Steinberg says. “Yet no matter how old you are, the music you listen to for the rest of your life is probably what you listened to when you were an adolescent.” Only extremely recent advances in neuroscience have begun to help explain why.

It turns out that just before adolescence, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that governs our ability to reason, grasp abstractions, control impulses, and self-­reflect—undergoes a huge flurry of activity, giving young adults the intellectual capacity to form an identity, to develop the notion of a self. Any cultural stimuli we are exposed to during puberty can, therefore, make more of an impression, because we’re now perceiving them discerningly and metacognitively as things to sweep into our self-concepts or reject (I am the kind of person who likes [ignorant-ass hip-hop]). “During times when your identity is in transition,” says Steinberg, “it’s possible you store memories better than you do in times of stability.”

Indeed, I remember quite clearly that, on the day the oldest of my little crew got his driver’s license, we listened to the first Redman tape on that first trip to the local yellow curb. That tape was red, right? Or was that just Dare Iz a Darkside? Anyway, based on the above analysis, I am physiologically predisposed to listening to ignorant-ass hip-hop, just as I am physiologically predisposed to gravitating towards the type of skating in the first three Plan B vids.

This makes a lot of sense. I mean, I like country alright–although, truth be told, my appreciation for country is directly proportional to how drunk I am. But it’s not part of my identity, or whatever, cause I didn’t start listening to it, in any context, until about three years ago. I like learning to skate transition–it’s fun as shit, but I feel most at home, psychologically, street skating because that’s what I was doing when my brain was forming.

You was before you was ‘fore you got here, or some shit. This is why it’s kinda weird when 30 year old dudes who didn’t grow up skating start tryna skate. Not bad, or whatever, just kinda weird or disingenuous. Similarly, it’s kinda weird when dudes who didn’t start listening to hip-hop until someone in their third year of college told them Illmatic was good start writing about/reviewing hip-hop. That’s my take on the whole Chief Keef/Pitchfork thing.

Also, if you grew up in the suburbs and didn’t listen to ignorant-ass hip-hop super loud in your car you missed out; I heard that kids today don’t even have systems in their cars anymore because they spend all their disposable income on iPhones ‘n shit.

***

So, that’s my take on this season’s major physical DVD releases, more or less. But what’s the takeaway? How, as a grown-ass man, can I justify my physical skate vid hobby, or whatever (which, according to the New York Times, I have more time and space to practice out here in the burbs!)? Well, there are life lessons to be learned. MJ and TX are like dudes who have a job that keeps throwing more and more on their plate (the pressure to get new tricks year after year after year, with increasing internet coverage, dwindling spots, etc.) on some “do more with less” shit, and they stay killing it. Anyone that has a job –especially “in this economy”–can relate. Just another reason why skaters are more workplace-effective than the average shmoe.

ps. @carbonite1994 on that twitter, @frozenincarbonite on that insta

*I don’t claim to be a Seinfeld expert like @quartersnacks or @mattmoons , but the humor of @seinfeldtoday decreases exponentially once one figures out the formula, which is “Seinfeld character+ anything that modern people do in modern life.” This is usually something topical regarding the internet,  like “George starts a tumblr, Kramer has wacky misadventures attempting  to jailbreak his iPhone” or some shit like that.

**are there any dudes out there who scoff at internet skate vids as a “thing,”and solely watch physicals?

***Yes, I know it was a comic book before it was a film.

****shoutout to the Mets fitted; pitchers and catchers reported like 3 days ago!

*****as he noted in that Thrasher interview

******performed on a very similar handrail to that SF State one on which he performed his ender in the Virtual friends section

******* “Deluxe Edition” #comingsoon tho?

********That doc is alright, except for the one part where Lance said the only reason dudes got hammered and banged groupies on the vert circuit was because they were frustrated they couldn’t beat Tony. I mean, not everything has a deep-seeded psychological motivation.

3 Responses to “Physical Graffiti”

  1. Jesse said

    I thought the kid waking up at the end of PA, and all the soundbites/references from posters and shit layin around his room, meant that the whole vid was some blunt haze induced dream he was waking up from.

    And was the footage of the riot at the very end from the baker premiere? or was that just coincidental?

  2. [...] four months old. But it looks like that’s what happened. Because Frozen In Carbonite’s most recent post reflects on the shared parts by OG guys like Jeron Wilson and Brandon Biebel, while applauding Marc [...]

  3. moe said

    I’m liking the futbol shirts. Jahmal Williams had an Ajax one in his DNA part. Did the Brazilians rock them first? This requires more research.

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