Video Review – 48 Blocks/Western Edition: Pandemic

September 1, 2008

It’s hard to put into words how psyched I was when I saw the promo for this video. Truth be told, a Wire-themed skate video could not be more in my proverbial wheelhouse. The two foremost things I love to deconstruct and overanalyze, in one Tim and Henry -sized bindle, if you will.

I’ve discussed the show here at lengh previously. However, just like a drug addict who, in effect, savors the ritualistic aspects of addiction, my viewing of seasons four and five took on similar dimensions. Waiting until 12:01 every Sunday night for the new episodes to come up on the OnDemand became a quasi-religious experience. I fuckin’ needed that shit to get me through the week. Through whatever process, narrative like this, in effect, “turned down” the rest of the world in a Fight Club kind of way. Skating is parallel; oh, what’s that you say? You’re mad because so-and-so wore jeans on a non-casual-Friday day and didn’t get reprimanded? You don’t say! Can’t print? Got a big presentation? Guess what: I just slammed my feet into wood, concrete, and iron for three hours. That’s what I do to relax.
Pandemic sets the stage with a clearly-defined thesis: that skating operates as another component of The Game–of the ways and means of doing things utilized in American cities on a daily basis. I was going to say “urban culture” but that sounded like something off of hypebeast or some shit. You know what I mean. So, let’s see how they go about proving it.
BY THE WAY, I promised myself that after Bill Simmons used one too many Wire metaphors a while back that I would refrain from using the show as a rhetorical device. However, fuck it. I feel that it’s apt here–it’s not like I’m arbitrarily comparing Teddy Bruschi to Avon Barksdale or some shit. So with that in mind, I will review Pandemic by way of comparing the dudes with full parts (Thayer, Johnson, Lavar, and Keegan) to characters from the show. By the way, if you have access to HBO and you didn’t watch Generation Kill (masterminded by Wire dudes) this summer, you lapsed. Unless you are some kind of BBC news junkie, it’s doubtful you have seen or will see as brutal a portrayal of the Iraq War anywhere.

OVERVIEW

Since its inception Western Edition has occupied a space somewhere between mid-Nineties Stereo and Girl/Choc . Drawing upon the Spirit of San Francisco, their three previous video offerings have kept the spirit of soul-soundtracked ledge/line skating alive throughout the current decade. Pandemic, however, sets out on a much more ambitious mission. The promo is edited, in effect, exactly like a 10-minute episode of The Wire–with opening song, opening montage, closing song, and credits. I would have chosen the Tom Waits song from Season 2 (“the forgotten season”) but that’s just me. Each section also includes a meaningful audio quote from the series. I gotta tell ya, the only video I can recall that intertwined film clips like this was those clips from The Man With One Red Shoe that were, for some reason, included randomly in Whatever. Or Da Deal is Dead–I can’t quite recall. Only Josh Friedberg knows for sure…

THAYER

Who’s a dude that’s been in the game for a minute, not overly demonstrative but still effective as fuck?
Bodie.
Shorter than his part in WE3; however, effortless hardflippage on all kinds of different shit more than compensates. Ventures into the Jean-Baptise realm with an overturned noseblunt to switch b/s 5/0 on a bank, or “street transition,” as they say. What does that even mean?

“THE BLOCK” Montage

That “Unfriendly Game” track reinforces the thesis, drawing parallels between The Game and The Industry.

JOHNSON

That smirk? After his ender? That’s 150% McNulty. By the way, whatever happened to that dude Sean McNulty that was on Sugar Skateboards? They should have found him for this project, if only for a line or single.
McNulty is the best. I wish I had a job where it was politic to curse and yell at people.
DAMMIT McNULTY!!!
ANYWAY, Catalyst rep Joey Johnson encorporates tech (on and into actual streets, which is imperative) with flowing downhill type shit not seen every day. Reminiscent of Curtin, after a fashion. Looking forward to seeing what this dude comes up with in the future.

THE WESTERN (district)

In addition to Brad “Carcetti” Johnson, Toeda non-illusion sw hardflips and interprets western culture into switchstance backside tailslides on waist-high ledges. However, in my opinion, Dwayne Galloway came up the most in this part with some ledge/manual creativity interspersed with blasted f/s flips and lien airs.
NEWS FLASH: dudes are skating the fountain gap again.
I repeat: Dudes are skating the fountain gap again. That simple fact psyched me up as much as anything else in the vid.

LAVAR McBRIDE

An assassin coming back from the brink of death. Yup, it’s….

Brother Mouzone, one of the most underrated dudes in the whole saga. The way I look at it, he was at least as badass as Omar. Who else says “good day to you sir” after shooting a dude in broad daylight? I kept waiting for another comeback in season five, but to no avail. However, if you blinked you probably missed Nicky from Season 2 getting arrested.

“No need to prolong this.”
“Nah, we got time…”

ANYWAY,
While not as messianic as Guy’s comeback, Lavar seems to have picked up right where he left off a decade ago. Yes, the “almost-falling-off-the-board” style (
See any Harold Hunter footage for another example) still prevails—an increasingly rare attribute in a world inhabited by bolts landers like Capaldi and Malto. Anyway, it’s Lavar—like an old friend/DYUTSW (dude you used to skate with) that you see at some spot or park after a fucking decade.
Hard to believe this dude, for a two-year period, was arguably top five in the world. Equally as hard to believe is the fact that, the blind lineup in 1994 was Keenan, Lavar, Sanchez, and Creager. In terms of pure mind-numbing technicality, one could argue that that particular group was ahead of Girl at the time. In terms of Lavar in specifically, he had that vibe that there was no trick he could not do – similar to the space Trapasso occupies today. If my memory is functioning correctly, his east coast sidekick Mike Wright once told me that he was fucking with switch kickflip b/s ng at the pier in, like, ’97. It was as if only physical space confined his ability to film hard-as-fuck lines, as seen in the end of 20 Shot. In fact, that part and his encyclopedic part in Trilogy, in which his “ender” line is probably still going on in some alternate universe, spawned the following theory in my mind, a theory that has not been put forth in the written word until now:


THE LAVAR McBRIDE THEORY:

Lavar’s part in Trilogy was so linear that it caused a backlash and paradigm shift in video editing that emphasized quicker cuts, shorter parts, more slow-motion, and fewer lines. Combined with advances in video technology, this resulted in parts like Appleyard’s in Photosynthesis, where one saw single tricks like nollie heel crooked with some computer animation layered on top of it and only one three trick line. The endgame had to have been Luzka’s soul-crushing part in the Almost video ; I have yet to see a more cynical M60-like rail attack editing style.

ANYWAY, Lavar is back, and Nineties nostalgists will be proud. In particular, the switchstance 360 kickflip off the bump into traffic looks like something off the 20 Shot cutting room floor. And, as many of you have undoubtedly seen, the nollie bigspin kickflip over the library gap indicates that Lavar still has that progressive spark in his mind. Hopefully this sets the stage for Affiliate to make moves in the upcoming fiscal year.

KEEGAN

A young gun that kills in the East, kills in the West. Had to be Marlo.


“My name is my name.”

Indeed, the first East Coaster besides Igei on the WE squad nailguns the video shut with a how-to demonstration of techniques at an assortment of Boston, NY, and some SF spots. In particular, that spot that looks like the Museum of Natural History benches, running alongside a river or lake, is particularly scenic. You might remember this dude from the RAW promo, another example of the recent crop of sick “internet only”-type promos. I would go so far as to say that the ten-to-fifteen-minute promo is the perfect format—there’s a reason why Tim and Henry’s and Snuff are in most dudes’ top five. It’s not brain surgery. Kids that rip, decent music, short enough to watch before skating.
In terms of the East Coast mentality displayed, there’s this misconception floating around that once you cross the Mississippi that the only spots are cellar doors, pole jams, and esoteric wallrides. There may be some of that, but kids fucking rip everywhere in a million different ways. Every park, spot, or little zone has that one dude that can do anything. However, the seasons and differences in urban/suburban terrain force one to adapt to survive and foster a certain subtle difference in swag.

Regarding the aforementioned bench spot, the sw b/s tailslide shoveit hearkens back to Stevie’s in the FIT video, which is just about the highest compliment one can give a sw b/s tailslide shoveit. However, like someone said on the SLAP board, it seems like he isn’t really trying, which is a productive mental place to inhabit. He’s still in the “golf club” stage, trying to be a gentleman about it. But one thing he does is show a propensity for combining tech with naturalistic “skating down the street” style. Not quite at the same level as that one part by that other dude from Boston, but it’s early yet. What happens next is up to him, on a day to day basis. There really is no nostalgia; kids don’t care if you were top four in the world at any point. All there is is what happens in the game on a day to day basis. Every day is its own odyssey.

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3 Responses to “Video Review – 48 Blocks/Western Edition: Pandemic”

  1. Skate Nazi said

    Damn, son.This is what it’s all about.I feel you one thousand percent all the way down to the Sean McNulty reference.I mean the first time I saw a clip of that kid, of course I thought holy shit that’s one of Jimmy’s son’s names.I couldn’t wait to see Pandemic, they couldn’t get that shit online fast enough, I knew it was gonna be sick, and it pretty much delivered.The editing was tight and the music was dope, not to mention the skating was actually exciting.Let me guess: in part 2 of your review Lavar is Avon, coming back to claim the crown?I hope so anyway.OH, and that bit about OnDemand, that shit is again one thousand percent me also.Except sometimes the shit didn’t come on at 12:01, sometimes it took another 10 minutes, sometimes it took hours. I remember staying up until 3 in the morning one time waiting and the shit didn’t come on. I woke up in the morning and it was there, thank god or I would have lost it completely. Alright, sorry for the ramble, great work so far, eagerly awaiting part 2.

  2. ** said

    <>Avon<>heh… “Surprise!”I guess you could make a case for Avon…Brother Mouzone, I guess I made that connection because of the whole Lavar/Jehovah’s Witness thing, if that makes sense (Even though I saw in some David Simon interview that they never specify what Mouzone’s religion is) ps. DAMMIT McNULTY!!!

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