November 26, 2010

The interesting thing about literature–and art in general, I suppose–is that one can use it as a prism through which to view one’s own experience. Or, if one so chooses, one can enjoy it on a purely literal level.

Case in point: The Odyssey. As a typical ninth-grader, the Sirens chapter comes off more like an adventure story; the sirens themselves function as but one in a series of wacky antagonists encountered by Odysseus over the course of his travels. However, almost twenty years down the road, the message the five-thousand-year-old blind dude is sending could not be more clear: Women make dudes irrational.

Another interesting aspect of literature–and art in general–is that the ever-recurring themes remind us that shit now isn’t that different from shit 5,000 years ago. Case in point: the song of the summer from a couple summers ago–in Europe, at least–expresses an almost identical sentiment to the one put forth by the aforementioned 5,000-year-old visually-impaired Greek gentleman:

She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before

Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood whore

I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful

Our protagonist struggles to define his relationship with the aforementioned young lady in a socially acceptable manner. His only point of reference? Oddly enough, the lady of the evening who frequents his residential area.


The way that booty movin’ I can’t take no more

Had to stop what I’m doin’ so I could pull her close

I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful

Our protagonist proceeds to “pull” the young lady in question “close,” violating her personal space. Subsequently, overpowered by her presence, he abandons the social norms under which he previously struggled to operate. Proclaiming her a “sexy bitch,” he degrades and dehumanizes her with words.

He has disrespected her verbally. He has disrespected her physically. Rational thought flies out the window.


One goes through a similar process building a do-it-yourself skate spot. Rational thought flies out the window. One will spend seemingly inhuman and nonsensical quantities of time and money to complete the mission. A do-it-now-or-it’s-never-gonna-get-done mindset dominates.

In Search of the Miraculous, early front-runner in this site’s Year-End Video Superlatives, captures this sentiment and runs with it. “Early” because I may get my hands on the Expedition video (which will warrant its own post) or the latest Josh Stewart opus (is it too late to change the title to Cocaine Cowboys?) before the new year. Intertwining artistic interludes of olde-timey images with skating that depicts Sweden as a cleaner, icier (not in the So Icey Entertainment sense of the word) amalgamation of Barcelona and PHILA, Alv constructs a coherent statement relating the concurrent ephemeral natures of skate spots and life in general. Gunez “Euro Durante” Ozdegan delivers a part that surpasses his section in Origin, and Michal Juras makes the bleakest of former eastern bloc cities look interesting as fuck for skating. Definitely mandatory viewing for anyone that has ever constructed, participated in, or even skated a DIY spot. Also, if one purchases it from Alv’s site, one receives snail mail from Sweden, which is cool in a Wes Anderson kind of way.

Chris Mulhern’s This Time Tomorrow, also a meditation of sorts on time and how skaters relate to it, is a close second in this here year-end video roundup. However, I would actually rank it above ISOTM on the ol’ Get-Psyched-To-Skate-Ometer; I consistently viewed it during pre-skating brunch just about every session this summer/fall.

In a fashion similar to Josh Stewart’s fetishization of graffiti-strewn riot guards, Hern utilizes the visual motifs of clocks–specifically, the City Hall clock tower–and olde-timey city maps to get his point across. Something like: We own the night, but by this time tomorrow–in the A.M., presumably–all traces of our work will vanish, replaced by that peculiar dance of death choreographed by the businesspeople and homeless people.

TTM also taps into my longtime obsession with olde-tymey shit, dating back to Gotham by Gaslight, back in the–pre-Image, of course–comic book-collecting  days. Boardwalk Empire has also recently amplified this proclivity. Although,  I gotta tell ya, even though many of the mini-series’ themes seem directly lifted from The Sopranos, the sickest thing about it is its portrayal of Olden Days lesbians, hookers, threesomes, drugs, and just plain ol’ naked people. This totally fucking blew my mind. Previously, I had not thought any of the aforementioned had existed until 1965.

The film also features the most effective music supervision of the year; as the “Nothing to be Done” montage proves, indie/britpop is underrated as fuck in the prestigious field of skate video music supervision.* Although, perhaps due to its status as a “homie” video,  TTM isn’t burdened by the same intellectual property rules as, say, a Plan B or Habitat.**

ANYWAY, in terms of actual skate footage, TTM triumphs, not by logging the most NBD’s (although Brendan Granstrand deserves some kind of award for pulling the elusive from-the-side b/s nollie sw 5/0 revert at an actual street spot), but by keeping aflame the dying embers of Nineties-centric city center skating. Sometimes the knowledge that dudes are still doing Sanchez grind reverts on the fountain ledge is all that gets me through the day. Indeed, if nighttime LOVE lines beneath the virgin white of gently falling snow don’t do anything for you, then your heart is blacker than Scott Bourne’s arm.

Krook3d conveniently found a way around the constraints of intellectual property by recruiting some cool-ass local musical talent to score the film. It also redlines the ol’ Get-Psyched-To-Skate-Ometer with that wacky city/session format that presumably shows, like, how actual sessions go down with these dudes. Krook3d and TTM differ in one critical way: Krooked includes mess-around footage from, arguably, three of the top ten street skaters ever, presumably to show that these dudes are just like regular dudes. TTM ‘s core lineup is nothing but regular dudes. Regular dudes doing the best they goddamn can. ANYWAY, Worrest’s skating, at least for the purposes of this site, is interesting as fuck because he comes off like a dirtbag variation of an evolutionary Pulaski dude–every flip trick down cold, esoteric flip-in/flip-outery. I still think he deserves some kind of award for that sw tre-up, fakie hard, sw tre down line from The Transworld Video From Two Summers Ago.

Steve Durante, whose Origin part I find myself re-watching the most, also hearkens back to the halcyon days of East Coast tech. Many readers of this site will recall a time when “East Coast” did not connote rough ground and regressive trick selection. Moreover, one could argue that, in the summer of 1994, the East Coast, encompassing D.C. (Pep, Andy, etc.), NYC (Keith Harrison and everyone who did fakie hardflips on the small banks), and PHILA (Gall), surpassed the West Coast in terms of technicality.***

ANYWAY, you might be saying to yourself, “dang, where has Durante been, haven’t seen that dude since Inhabitants.” In actuality, dude pumped out small parts in Last of the Mohicans, Dango is Dead, and, yes, This Time Tomorrow.

This is a Nineties-Rocco-company timetable.

I think I once wrote in this space that A.V.E. skates as if his is brutally making love to a woman. With that in mind, Durante just fuckin’ date-rapes ledges. Metaphorically. The dude is reminiscent of an evolutionary Andy Stone/Sub Zero-era Gall. on HGH. Specifically, the no-setup-time Pulaski line referenced by the homie at BTO reminded me of :36 @ this 411 Profile, which is probably my favorite internet video out right now.

Origin, as a whole, probably warrants mentioning as part of this here year-end video roundup, but I have yet to watch the whole thing more than once all the way through. However, even though it functions like the Use Your Illusion of “sect” (is that even still a “thing”?) video productions–overproduced, different dudes than when the band started, lack of narrative cohesiveness–shit is still a decent pre-skating view. In terms of music supervision, the “garage”/semi-obscure Stones formula is, much to my chagrin, dead. In all honesty, I was secretly hoping for Castrucci (or the music supervisor to whom he delegated the task) to select  “Undercover of the Night;” how has that song not yet been used in a video part? In any event, the Music Supervisor selected some groovy obscure-as-fuck**** tunes, but recycling a song from the previous video is a bad look no matter how you slice it. Besides the Durante/Al Davis part, Suciu (the 2010 version of 2000 Poppapardo, pom hat replacing five-panel) and Khalsa stand out most prominently. I will probably revisit and reflect upon the mind-expanding properties of Guru’s part this winter.


Art, of course, is subjective, as is this essay. ISOTM is the video to which I related to most intensely this year because it provided me with a prism through which to achieve closure with the loss of my town’s DIY spot. This was not a painless process, I assure you.

Why, may you ask? While one’s relationships with such spots resemble relationships with women,  the number of actual street spots in the world and the number of hot chicks in the world are inversely proportional. There have never been less skatable “real” street spots in the United States than now, and there have never been more hot chicks per capita in the entire history of the world than right now. Indeed, if “tumblr” web sites are any indication, the population of hot chicks who hang out naked in their apartments smoking cigs has grown approximately 3600% in the past ten years. Fortunately, Alv reminds us that, while the current limitations of cybernetic technology prevent us from  constructing an attractive female, it is possible to construct an effective skate spot.

Still, forgiveness is hard as fuck. Along those lines, Howard Stern recently discussed this topic during Robin’s daily newscast. Stern asserted that, even if one claims to have forgiven someone, one never really does; indeed, the dude still hasn’t forgiven his parents for staying in Roosevelt all those years, nudging him off the cliff into drug-induced neuroses and OCD. Robin replied that the forgiveness process benefits oneself, not the person whom one forgives.  Truth be told, I lean more towards  Howard’s side on this one.

Hypothetically speaking,  it is probably easier to forgive a chick for banging one’s best friend than to forgive, say, the dude that green-lighted paving over BAM, or the “gentleman” that ordered the foundation spot property manager (or whomever) to demolish the ledges and cart away every inch of angle iron. In all honesty, I hold these gentlemen in only slightly higher regard than the centurions who razed the Second Temple.

If this seems draconian, I would like to reemphasize the following: as previously noted, one cannot swing a dead cat these days without hitting an attractive female, but I doubt that we will ever see a scaled-down LOVE park in the middle of Brooklyn again, or a foundation spot that includes a natural ledge, an upper level for flatground, and a main “pit” area for transition and ledges. Just like Alv emphasizes in ISOTM, all things hold a finite number of occurrences. Therefore, hypothetically speaking , how would I react if I happened to visit on his deathbed (are those even still a “thing”?) the gentleman who green-lighted the paving of BAM  and, consumed by regret, he asked me to forgive him, on behalf of all skaters or some shit like that?

Couldn’t do it.

What’s that quote from Red Dawn again?

“All that hate’s gonna burn you up, kid.”

“It keeps me warm.”

*Also, best use of UMC’s since the Gav’s part in Pack of Lies. Weren’t they from Staten Island or some shit?

**Whose music supervision department, as shown by the song from that Paul Rodriguez part (which is sick as fuck and I watch frequently btw), is as bereft of ideas as their graphics department.

***Chris Hall circa Useless Wooden was the Ur-East Coast Tech Dude.

****The music supervisor whom Jake Burton hired sure was on point with the super-obscure music. I wonder what her tactics and strategies for finding out about new and obscure musical artists are–read Pitchfork and shit like that? I have no fucking idea. Back in the college radio days, it was easy; new and obscure music came in the mail just about every day. The internet, however, makes this process exponentially more confusing. One could, in theory, make a full-time job out of it.

That full-time job is music supervisor.


One Response to “Sirens”

  1. J-wU said

    Good shout, best thing since “Menace: A Multi-Part Sociological History”.

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