Menace: A Multi-Part Sociological History: Exhibits M-Q

May 10, 2010

Exhibit M: The L.A. Riots

Around the end of Ninth Grade, a steady stream of crazy fucking images started coming out of L.A. Dudes running around with big-screen T.V.’s with heavy-ass glass tubes. Fire. Black helicopters. Moreso than any other events, the events precipitated by the Rodney King verdict brought to the forefront the menace that was bubbling to the surface just under the seemingly benign surface of the city. The riots caused aftershocks that struck every facet of culture in Los Angeles, including about 47 hip-hop songs, the entire first Rage Against the Machine record, and that one band “Downset.”  One would be remiss to leave Menace out of this discourse, especially considering the ironic social commentary of that one “MENACE POLICE CORPS”  board series from ’97. The Rodney King trial also marked the first time anyone heard of the city/neighborhood Simi Valley until it was again made famous by Capaldi, Pudwill, and that one skate ninja dude that wore all black everything.

I also think the origin of  “can’t we all just get along?” will eventually be forgotten, becoming just one of those stupid phrases people say when there’s a lull in the conversation or they can’t think of anything else to say.

ps. “Who you gonna call?”

Exhibit N: Kareem’s part in New World Order

Building a brand that he would eventually parlay into an empire, Kareem’s first video part establishes the topography of Menace Tech: World Park, Santa Monica Courthouse, Lockwood, Venice benches. The sole missing location is those ledges (Fountain ledges?) with the bump on that corner that was in 80% of the Menace Section in 20 Shot.  Although his part in the latter video is without a doubt his most effective, this one is notable for just fuckin’ showing an African-American dude in a forwards cap with slightly bent brim–this says to the world “I mean business”–fuckin ripping. Truth be told, I still wear this style of hat, even in five-panel form . Even though motivation–monetary or otherwise–is not very menace tech, the ender is still fucking ridiculous to this day.

As far as the build-up to the aforementioned friendly wager, I Didn’t see anyone else pull a fakie 5/0 half-cab flip out until Koston in Yeah Right. Also notable for use of Onyx, one of the handful of early Nineties hip-hop acts that got a deal off of a single vocal gimmick (i.e. screaming, that whole DAS EFX rigamarole, rhyming SUPER FAST). Additional Onyx-related note: Steve Cales is allegedly in this video . I tried watching it and it gave me a headache.

Exhibit O: 60/40

A sister company of sorts, the history of 60/40 is detailed very effectively in this Police Informer post. After Suriel, Alomar, and (eventually) Cales joined Menace, the company somehow recruited some of the most menace tech dudes out, including their “big three” of Gino Perez, Jorge Morales, and the infamous SAD. That dude Larry Moore might have been on there too. And of course, the other Rodney from Queens.

Perez, specifically,  is notable for this ad which lists the NBD’s he performs on a daily basis. This was kind of mindblowing at the time–I mean, were any of them ever in a video part? Has anyone ever done fakie flip sw b/s 5/0 180 out?  It would be an interesting advertising strategy now, for sure. At the time, I thought it was sick. As far as I was concerned, these NBD’s exsted purely in the theater of the mind.  I was content with that. He also mastered the pressure flip-style sw inward heel, as shown in his Glasses For Your Feet part. Morales did f/s bluntslides at the Santa Monica courthouse in a white polo shirt. In all honesty, though, I just  thought it was rad that there was a pro with the name Jorge. And SAD–what can you say about this dude that hasn’t already been said. Truth be told, I skated with a towel in my back pocket until about a year ago. Most of all–and this thought goes through my head on an almost daily basis–there is not, nor shall there ever be, time for slippin.’

Ultimately, though, 60/40 ended up as an LA Clippers kind of deal–some dudes who did some cool shit sometimes, a few good ideas, but perennial draft lottery status. However, I think the Gonz would have had a high enough basketball IQ not to draft Michael Olowokandi.

Exhibit P: The Chronic

Google image search is fucking awesome. How else would I be able to retrieve an image from an ad I recall seeing in 1992? At the time, though, I was more psyched on the first Redman tape. Although I generally associate The Chronic more with the New Deal Whatever video (which probably deserves its own dissertation at some point), and Menace used and referenced early Wu material primarily, it is impossible to deconstruct the cultural milieu of early 1990’s Los Angeles without at least mentioning it at least once. Furthermore, I recall at least one Menace pro listening to a “Dogg Pound” compilation tape. Or maybe it was a dub of an actual “mix” tape–back when they were literally tapes. Come to think of it, it could have been a dub of Dogg Food. I seem to recall that record being pretty terrible.

ANYWAY, along with Death Row Records, it set the stage for the area as an African-American entrepreneurial nexus, perhaps planting the seed  in the mind of Kareem. Kind of like if how one skates with someone really good, it only makes one better, perhaps even doing shit one would have though impossible without the collegial atmosphere. One could also make a case for The Chronic’s popularization of weed creating a ripple effect throughout the industry, after-effects of which we still feel to this day. I mean, I think I saw someone blow smoke in the camera in some internet video like a week ago.

Exhibit Q: First Menace Ad

image from chrome ball incident

I frequently throw the term “life-changer” around on this site. However, to describe the first Menace ad as such is not hyperbole. A life-changer. A  game-changer. It holds especial significance for myself because it was the inside cover of the only skate mag I took with me when I went to Israel that summer. No, I didn’t skate any of those crazy transition formations in that Bill Strobeck Quiksilver video. Pretty much kept it local. Still do. ANYWAY, I might be wrong here, but, aside from a few Hosoi ads where he is riding a motorcycle with some hot chick on the back, this might be the first lifestyle ad.

What does this lifestyle entail? The facet that makes this ad so iconic is the fact that, with just one image, it encapsulates approximately 75% of  Menace’s core beliefs. Chilling. LA. Diverse headwear (five-panel, New Era, snap-back). Braided leather belts.* And of course, the first commandment of menace tech:

Unless thy t-shirt is plain and white, thou shalt wear two t-shirts.

Truth be told, at one point I followed the above commandment so adamantly that I rocked a black t-shirt under a plain white one, which, in retrospect, was totally nonsensical. More importantly, though, by practicing these ideas on a daily basis and transmitting them around the world, Menace was art.

How? To quote Chuck Klosterman yet again, “life doesn’t imitate art; life makes art.” By simply being themselves (“honesty is about keeping it real”) and in turn reflecting the time and place from which they came, Menace created art in a  more organic sense than, say, the RVCA’s** of the world.  The mere fact that you are reading this proves Menace’s socio-intellectual value.

*even though they inevitably became warped and ineffective, braided leather belts are still cooler than shoelace belts. Pants with built-in shoelace belts are the “Osiris Sag No Drag System” of the modern era.

**Even though they sponsor that Cobrasnake dude, some Mixed Martial Arts dudes, and a bunch of models


5 Responses to “Menace: A Multi-Part Sociological History: Exhibits M-Q”

  1. AdamLouder said

    I heard Kareem now sells real estate in Dallas

    • thecarbonite said

      yeah that real estate thing is a weird trip…i know at least one person that was all about it, claimed to be a realtor and all that shit, then completely dropped it when the market imploded.

  2. Alex said

    This made my night. Fucking great stuff. Perfectly written copy about a perfect time in my life.

  3. LBfinest76 said

    “LARRY MOORE” whom you referred to as that dude…..LOL was and still is one of the first black skateboarders from Long Beach. Before it was cool for black kids to be on a board, Larry was tearing shit up…..He still lives in LB, very successful, and frequents every sk8 park now with his 2 sons Tech & Legend….

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