Video Review Roundup: Beltway Insider Edition
May 25, 2014
If, as Roctakon once wrote, NYC commodifies cool, and LA sells you the same thing reconstituted as fame, then DC’s most valuable commodity is power. Perhaps that’s what gives DC footage that extra juice, in addition to Pulaski’s status as the coolest-looking skate spot in the country.
The power resides in the marble.
I first sensed this power when my dad used to drive me up there from time to time to go the Natural History and Air and Space Museums. As we headed up Interstate 95, the first indicator that we were entering a qualitatively different power zone were the orange spheres that appeared on the power lines at the Marine Base Quantico exit. Because, like, there were helicopters flying around. The next sign was the Pentagon, which sprawled out on our left after we took the exit onto 395. Later, when I started going there to skate, the office buildings of Crystal City (what kind of a name for a neighborhood is that anyway) loomed on your right. A mythical name for the location (or so we presumed) of those mythical parking garages that Pep and them skated in Skypager.
Astute real estate observers will note that DMV was one of the few areas to escape the 2008-2009 crash. And this year, The Washington Professional Basketball Team sustained #relevance until mid-May. Furthermore, The region has also been extremely productive in terms of physical and web-based media production. Concurrently, DC’s myriad organizations have functioned as the setting for all kinds of television programming—prestige and otherwise–due to this power locus and the accompanying Machiavellian accoutrements. So, in the following article I will attempt to merge, compare, and contrast– thematically and stylistically–recent DC skate videos with recent DC television.
$14 The Hard Way
This is how I find out about stuff in the modern world: I see a shitload of people on twitter discussing one thing, then I have to reverse-engineer a rudimentary internet search to discover what said thing is. This is how the television show Scandal appeared on my radar. Indeed, based on a quick survey of twitter on an average Thursday night, it rates highly in the elusive “bad bitch” demographic.
Along those lines, if you have a girlfriend/wife, chances are you have watched this show under protest. Or maybe not–the protagonist looks mad good in pantsuits. However, gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you anything about the plot–something about blazing the president, I guess? It also involves ridiculously over-the-top dialogue and a barrage of phone calls placed on flip phones from park benches, which Kerry Washington answers with some variation of the following:
“What did you do? What. Did. You. Do.“
$14 The Hard Way, the latest offering from the dudes that brought you Stop Fakin’ and Stop Fakin’ 2, also gets much of its juice from an over-the-top aesthetic, but in the humorous vein of videos like Da Deal Is Dead* as opposed to backstabbing Machiavellian type shit. Eschewing an opening montage for a pastiche of movie clips a la the aforementioned vid, $14 gets down to business with a part from Neal “Gnarly Neal” Wood, who skates to Frank Zappa and resurrects gold rail, after a fashion (more gold rail content later in this post). Music supervision runs the gamut from the aforementioned Zappa composition to LCD rap, backpacker rap, recent Group Home (!), and pre-cocaine Fleetwood Mac.
Later on in the vid, more over-the-top interludes include a local woman pepper-spraying a local DC news crew and one of the legendary Eastern Motors tv ads–not the Clinton Portis one though. #DMV. And like most #DMV vids, there’s a Baltimore mini-montage that showcases Scumco affiliate Zach Dykes killing a slew of the charm city’s grimier spots (no grey marble hubba though) and the first homie montage features this dude Mascelli performing my go-to trick (frontside halfcab noseslide shove-it out).
Gotta keep the flame burning.
ANYWAY, like all the full-length vids in this post, $14 utilizes the #current editing trend of blurring the lines between single part, shared part, and montage–as seen in Cherry. Shit’s cool with me, despite my OCD organizational tendencies. In terms of spot selection, $14 favors spots located in the cuts of DC–like one memorable metal hubba into a pile of leaves–over familiar marblescapes. HOWEVER, Scumco & Sons associate Stan Karbine–a.k.a that dude that caballerial kickflipped over white wall–contributes one of the best Pulaski lines in recent memory, including the elusive caballerial backside tailslide to regular. His well-deserved ender part is set to a chill Spandau Ballet song, and he skates kind of like Westgate in a slightly lower tax bracket, mixing #current “power skating” moves with well-popped tech shit, f/s tailslides on high-as-fuck ledges, and cool set-up moves like the vastly underutilized fakie ollie up stairs. It’s like the old Jason Lee corollary: you don’t have to have every trick as long as you have a few tricks that look cool as fuck.
You can get a #physical copy of $14 The Hard Way via the Stop Fakin’ bigcartel site.
Belly of the Beast
Allen Danze’s Belly of the Beast takes a more serious point of view re: the District–specifically, the sinister iconography that lurks within the designs of all that marble. The opening montage reminds me of the opening credits of House of Cards, as did much of the transition montages. Like, did you ever think about what really goes on inside those granite edifices? Some heavy duty Machivellian backstabbing type shit, no doubt.
ANYWAY, Daniel Kim–a.k.a. that dude that nollie 360 flipped over white wall–opens up the vid with his signature ledge tech interspersed with progressive trick selection on #eastcoast obstacles–Philly steps, skrells, and pole jams. Also, sweatpants. #teamsweatpants
The first montage includes some older Gil and Jake footage in addition to a few #RVA homies and the aforementioned Stan Karbine. George Hanuschak attacks some of DMV’s more esoteric skrell formations in addition to contributing a cool Pulaski line including a switch kickflip over white wall. The obligatory Baltimore montage** segues into a sick shared part by Zachs Lyons and Dykes, which blends into a Pittsburgh mini-montage. Is Pittsburgh the new Philly?
One of the most underrated east coast dudes ever, Sean Gregoire get a sugarcane on my hometown’s most famous spot before remixing the Pulaski planters. Subsequently, Sean Driscoll has the most #eastcoast part in the whole vid; suffice it to say, if switch kickflips over the big white wall while smoking a cig are relevant to your interests, you will dig this part. It blends into another montage, which, combined with the high-bpm golden age hip-hop #musicsupervision, reminded me of the Love/City Hall montage in Static 1 more than anything in recent memory.
Which brings us to Jason Spivey. Evolutionary Jake Rupp seems too obvious; evolutionary Anthony Correa to the power of Static II-era Puleo, I guess? He demonstrates that same loose-trucks style and penchant for urban transition power moves. Also, the flip/ledge tricks in this part are few and far between, but when he does one, like, he really means it. Case in point, mach 10 b/s tail and street gap 360 flip. Definitely one of the most interesting #eastcoast dudes on the come-up (no Macklemore).
Kids in a Candy City
I wonder why the legions who worship Seinfeld and Curb haven’t latched onto Veep. It’s not a life-changer, but it’s highly entertaining at times–the workplace banter of a trad sitcom, but it’s on HBO so, like, they can say “fuck.” Similarly, Adam Turrisi’s Kids in a Candy City utilizes some of the elements of traditional, TWS-esque skate vids– slow-mo, amorphous “alt” music supervision, etc. HOWEVER, if you dig DC footage/DC spot porn it’s definitely worth a run-through.
For example, Jason Sinnawi’s opener includes a noseslide up white steps and guest footage of a dude skating in an Ovechkin jersey. And more Daniel Kim footage. Indeed, the high level of collaboration between the video projects and skaters in these four vids speaks to the strength of the #DMV scene as a collective. Then Stephen Jefferson contributes the best heelflip frontside tailslide since Rich Colwell, skates the big Pulaski planters in line formation, and 50/50’s up that one hubba that Greg Harris nollie tailslid in Transworld back in the day.
Isaiah Rodriguez’ part makes the strongest impression, though. Unironically skating to a track from #mnimn, Rodriguez innovates in several ways, most notably the use of a #snowbunny as mid-part interlude. Dude also switch f/s heels up and down stuff and throws a Puig-esque NBD down white steps.
Which brings us to Jonas Durney’s part, which contains the most mindblowing development in a vid this year:
Skating in brown/gum sole (Tom Penny colorway) Sal 23’s.
ANYWAY, his “evolutionary Ron Knigge” trick selection is tight, and the ender on now-skatestopped gold rail is followed by the following stroke of genius: keeping the camera rolling and heading straight to the McDonalds by Pulaski to inform the locals. It kind of blows my mind that no one has done this yet; like, imagine if Jake Rosenberg had kept the camera rolling after Carroll switch bigspin heelflipped the seven and headed right into Carl’s Jr. RIP every defunct eating establishment adjacent to a legendary spot.
ps. shoutout this vid for using Billy Joel “Moving Out” in the credits–best credits #musicsupervision since “Music Sounds Better With You” in Stee.
Bobby Worrest – Hometown Turf Killer
Has a pro skater ever self-identified–via personal branding– with a fictional character to the extent that Worrest has with John Rambo? Maybe Mike Capaldi and Batman, or Kevin Staab and, like, that evil chemist or whatever. In any event, the parallels are clear; like Rambo, Worrest is a rugged individualist on the run from a system that abandoned him.
Way back in March, this part hit the internet with the force of an explosive-tipped arrow from a compound bow. While simultaneously referencing nostalgic passages in time like the DC section in EE2 and Hamilton Harris’ footage in EE3 (via traffic check) it concurrently served as a call to arms for an East Coast struggling to emerge from a historically brutal winter. However, as Worrest points out in that one Vice interview, unlike the aforementioned video parts that were presumably filmed in one blunt-fueled weekend, the Turf Killer part was filmed over months, one line and trick at a time, while on the run from DC authorities. This leads me to believe that, although he doesn’t have a cool catch phrase like “first blood,” Tom Walker from Homeland Season One might be a closer parallel. Not for personal branding purposes, natch (because he was a jihadist ‘n shit).
Like any skater, Walker was dead to the world and on the run–at the same damn time. Like Worrest specifically, he was a stone cold killer. Indeed, he contributed mightily to the first season of Homeland ‘s badassery. Unfortunately, it has gotten progressively shittier every season since. Although, I liked the “business casual” Abu Nazir in season two, and the “Tower of David” in season three seems like a chill place to build a DIY skate spot. Another chill thing about Homeland is Claire Danes’ facial expression whenever Brody, Saul or whoever vexes her; the same exact look as when Angela found out Jordan Catalano blazed Rayanne or some shit like that.
ANYWAY, Worrest’s mastery of D.C.–dude contributed footage to every single vid in this post–has been a recurring theme for a decade or so. Furthermore, I don’t think he got enough credit for that switch tre up/fakie hards/switch tre down line in That Transworld Video From a Few Summers Ago. This is the type of idiot savant-like trick selection that John Coltrane or Eric Dolphy would dream up had they picked up a skateboard instead of a saxophone. Everyone always claims cruising/basic skating as #jazz [bro], but the improvisational/free-form element of #tech has more in common with most of those dudes. Like, Coltrane was technical as fuck.
In any event, Worrest’s killing spree continues in the most recent Thrasher, in which he switch backside nosebluntslides a handrail and announces a well-deserved Nike deal. Presumably, the buzz surrounding the Turf Killer part functioned as a stepping stone.
Classic DC power move.
* the New Deal-style graffiti cover art is tight as well
**including a mini-montage of that “Marlo” spot–I guess lots of people skate it now? Apocryphally, even Sheffey was apprehensive about it in the day