The Importance of Being Sk8legitimatebusinessmen

December 25, 2011

Throughout history, the dance of death between the sensitive artist type and the rake has surfaced in several different cultures. Beatles vs. Stones. Michael vs. Prince. Hosoi/Alva vs. Gonz/Blender. As we have seen in recent years with dylan., for example, a combination of the two often proves interesting as fuck. Not sure how Joy Division vs. New Order fits into this, but if I were pursuing a PhD in Pop Culture Studies I would probably write a thesis on “New Order people,” vs. “Joy Division people.”

ANYWAY, this dichotomy surfaces again in the recent year-end onslaught of skate vids. On one hand, some dudes play acoustic guitar, take analog photographs, and sip wine on estates overlooking expansive vineyards in Steinbeckian northern California. On the other hand, other companies, like the Shake Junt outfit and the young men of the Omerta-free Sk8mafia, occupy their time skating, altering their consciousnesses through various substances, and taking liberties with ladies of questionable moral standing.

The above might explain my recent obsession with the eponymous Sk8mafia vid. Indeed, simply in terms of music supervision, references to both the New Jersey Nets and #jewishlawyers could not be more in my wheelhouse. Completely devoid of artistic introductions or narrative conceits, it harkens back to the video-per-year days of the New Deal and World. An over-the-top pastiche of ignorant-ass hip-hop, oldies, technical-ass low-impact skating, and what is now referred to as “lifestyle footage,” I would go so far as to call Sk8mafia the evolutionary Whatever.

I will elaborate on that later. First, let me cite my inspiration for this post: a tweet by Munzenrider. The awesomeness lies in the contrast between the worlds–physical, temporal, and philosophical– that Oscar Wilde and the gentlemen of Sk8mafia inhabit. To riff on an idea from a couple posts ago, I think Oscar Wilde might possibly have skated, but not extensively. He would have morphed into the kid who sits at the spot, getting up occasionally to try a few soft-footed nollie b/s bigspins, commenting on everyone’s style ‘n shit. The comments, would, however, be witty as fuck.  But are these worlds really so far apart? With that in mind, I give you a deconstruction of the aforementioned video as seen through the prism of a selection of Oscar Wilde quotes.

Palmore

“between the famous and the infamous there is but one step, if as much
as one.”

At first glance, one would pigeonhole Palmore as a Pat Steiner-esque cellar door dude. However, just as in the Sk8mafia am video,* he sets himself apart with a series of face-melting combo tricks. Similar to the fine line between fame and infamy, the line between a cool-looking and a “cut” combo trick is fine and constantly shifting. For example, the b/s lipslide to bluntslide to fakie  is tight as fuck, cause the dude is in control the whole way. However, I can’t bring myself to co-sign tapping one’s nose on the ledge on the way out of a lipslide. That’s like those nosegrind reverts that some people do that are just an alley-oop b/s 180 on flat with a nose bonk in the middle. But worse. ANYWAY, Palmore kills it once again; I would go so far as to characterize him as a slightly-economically-disadvantanged man’s Marc Johnson.

Turner

“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”

Seems like we have known this dude for his whole life cycle. At first, I assumed that Turner had joined the ranks of skater/mc’s with this song and the intro. However, CWD put me on the the fact that this Ray Jones dude is a homie, not Brandon himself; however, Turner goes in on this mixtape, which I have not heard.

ANYWAY,  this part includes the best switch double flip since Whatever and a 360 flip nosegrind revert on a schoolyard bench that made me yell at my TV like I was watching a Battle at the Berrics quarterfinal or some shit. Does anyone else skate street in sunglasses? Hoyle, maybe? The part’s sole downfall–and maybe the vid’s as a whole–is a propensity towards what border on “illusion”-style switch hardflips, as per that one Mike Carroll interview.

Grey

“Oh, brothers! I don’t care for brothers. My elder brother won’t die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else.”

Larelle Grey’s part in the Sk8mafia am vid, in which he skated to “Colors” wearing mostly all black everything, exemplifies how music supervision can recontextualize a video part, add layers of meaning, and make it effective as shit. He and his brother’s part in this video (the Sk8mafia pro video, I guess), also exemplifies this effect, but with a completely opposite emotional impact. Flocka sounds like an even-sleepier, more-doped out Ma$e on this track–the modern-day ignorant-ass hip-hop “Taillights Fade,” or some shit. Has the world really beaten the shit out of Grey in the past year and a half? We may never know. All we know is what appears before our eyes, which in this part includes a sick b/s nosegrind revert on the inside of a planter and a f/s shove crooked grind on the Ron Bertino sw backside lipslide rail.

Cao

“Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.”

The above quote encapsulate’s Cao’s state of perpetual ripping, devoid of image. Why does his board look long as shit, like Guy in Video Days? When was the last time you saw someone skating in DVS’s?  Stringing together lines with seldom-seen double-sided ledge transfers and one-foot halfcabs, Cao appears vaguely Lotti-esque throughout this two song part, rendering the above questions moot. Ender on San Diego black marble municipal building ledge kills it.

Friends

“Friendship…is not something you learn in school,but if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship you really haven’t learned anything.”

Three of the heaviest street skaters ever in one friend’s section, plus, like this dude said, the best friends section music supervision in a decade. Still haven’t pinpointed Fabian’s trick, though.

ps. “Swass” is basically a paleozoic-era version of #swag, right?

Heath

“Wisdom comes with winters.”

I have backed Marshall Heath ever since that one Vermont homie vid in which he did swich tail switch 270 flip out. I think someone said on the venerable Slap mssgbrd that he also pulled a sw tail 270 hardflip out–that is to say, sw bigspin flip out the [really] hard way or some shit. Obviously, the harsh Vermont winters facilitate contemplation–specifically, the infinite ways one can flip one’s board out of a noseslide.

Upon moving to San Diego, however, Heath’s process has remained the same, albeit expanding his skill set to include a few conceptual ledge tricks on big shit (i.e. ender). If Sk8mafia is the evolutionary Whatever, Heath is the evolutionary Shorty Gonzalez. Also, dude rocks the tightest polo/backwards fitted kit since Rick Jaramillo.

Team Montage

“Fashion is a culture that is so vulgar that we have to change every 5 minutes.”

Is Flex O’Connor the best Irish skater of all time?

Enter Smolik, who has toned down the outfits from the huge-print “LACED THE FUCK UP”** shirts, big shorts, knee socks, and chucks ensemble that resembled something one would see on a pop/lock dancer circa mid-Seventies Soul Train. Still got those combos on lock, though. Gotta play your position.

ANYWAY, while conducting rudimentary internet research for this post, I watched that criminally underrated Let’s Do This part and concluded that Smolik is one of the best street skaters of all time. His criminally underrated status, though, remains a mystery. Quartersnacks deconstructed this phenomenon earlier this week in very astute fashion, but I would put forward the suggestion that skateboard media, like MTV, has a short-as-fuck memory:

1988: “Cinderella and Winger*** are awesome! Let’s run their videos nonstop!”

1994: “Wait, we never did that! Let’s run Bush and Hootie and the Blowfish vids all day.”

1999: “Hold up! That never happened either! Here are some N’Sync, Backstreet and shiny suit Puffy/ Ma$e vids for y’all.”

Right now Thrasher is on some super-aggro transition/ATV shit, having blocked out the memory of Bertino f/s noseslide nollie heel out video grab sequences. Transworld seems to be locked in an M.C. Escher-like cycle of filming for their vids, which generates content, which generates vids, etc.

NOTE: Smolik’s influence has also extended into the mix tape game. Although I am not sure if he skates, that dude @RiFFRaFF_SODMG appears to be highly influenced by late 90’s/early 00’s Smolik.

Philosophically, at least.

James

“I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations.”

Just as Ice Cube–at one point, the angriest man in America–and his colleagues in the Southern Calfornia “gangsta”-rap movement blurred the line between art and crime, so does Kellen James draw parallels between his ever-expanding palette of bigspin variations and the criminal nature of documenting them. This concept was also illustrated on the insole graphic of his never-to-be-released e’S pro model, which looks like a sick cupsole hyprid type deal.

The fakie hardflip in conjunction with “treat her like a prostitute” is particularly effective here. However, fingerflipping out of ledge tricks (first new trend of 2012?) and varial grabs on street remain as controversial as Kill At Will.

Sarmiento

“What the artist is always looking for is the mode of existence in which soul and body are  one and indivisible: in which the outward is expressive of the inward: in which form reveals.”

I tried counting the pure, orthodox, non-combo ledge NBD’s in the part. I lost count at, like, seven. Call it a comeback if you will, but with this part Sarmiento attains parity with the six main Euro Tech disciples–Jesus, Lebron, Enrique, Lucas, and Jean-Baptiste. Does skating artistic obstacles in a city that considers architecture a critical art form force one’s skating into a more artistic mindset? This remains to be seen, but I am biased as fuck towards this brand of conceptual, low-impact ledge skating.

However, despite his legendary status, Sarmiento still toils in relative obscurity, while other similar practitioners sleep on beds of money in mansions formerly owned by titans of early-Nineties MLB. Can we at least kick him down Rob Dibble’s old condo or some shit?

Kremer/P-Kid

“The final mystery is oneself.”

One can count on one’s hand the number of dudes who have obtained Zen-like mastery over all facets of skateboarding as has Wes Kremer. He has “figured it out,” as an industry dude once said about Ronnie Creager. Street badassery, flip-in/flip-outery. bowls, rails, stairs. This is his fourth video part in the past three years, and while it, like pretty much everything else, doesn’t quite attain the badassery level of that one DC part, it cements his status as the “quarterback”****/spiritual leader of the Sk8mafia. Truth be told, there is no trick he could do in any realm of skating that would shock me. Eggplant fingerflip to fakie–whatever.

Plus he rides the same pair of old-ass Royals with bone bushings, which is legit as fuck.

Surrey

“It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Truth be told, after watching this part, I had to review Surrey’s part in the Sk8mafia am video. Upon said review, the kid ripped, but I remembered why the part didn’t leave an impression. I think I had mentally filed him with those longhaired California Element kids like Evan Smith, Julian Davidson, etc. Please also remember that it is impossible for me to recall anything that wasn’t linked on Twitter withing the past 24 hours.

HOWEVER, to paraphrase a Bill Simmons idea from a few years back, with this  part, Surrey has made The Leap  into somewhat of an evolutionary “calm style” Peterka.  What is The Leap? To transfer this idea from sports to skating, it’s when a dude transitions from merely ripping with mad potential to piecing together concepts into a transcendent video part. Carroll was always sick in those H-Street vids, but he made The Leap some time between then and Questionable. Creager’s parts in Cocktails and Superconductor Supercollider killed it, but–through Soc’s filming or just the process of gaining experience and comfort level–20 Shot synergized his ideas and skill set into a coherent statement.

Indeed, the first thing that came to mind when I heard the opening riff in this part was that aforementioned last part, also set to a non-obscure Stones song.***** Like Creager, Surrey has become more of a conceptual tactician, coming up with dope concepts like the Gino 270/bigspin out and ollie up to “farside” b/s 180 ng at that bank-by-the-sea spot. He even throws in an old Ivan Perez  maneuver with the sw b/s heel nose manual.

And lines? We got lines across the street from one spot to the next. Lines downhill through an entire spot into the street, weaving through handball games. Lines at that one fountain/manual pad spot from Robert Douglas’ part in Whatever. And that one monster eight-trick line at bank-by-the-sea, including the obligatory “the fuck do I do now?” lookback. I would even contend that we haven’t seen lines of this caliber since…

wait for it…

Lavar in Trilogy.

Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But, like my man said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Sk8mafia has succeeded in creating a world in which San Diego is interesting, which hasn’t been the case since that one dude on Real World San Diego 1.0 got locked up in the drunk tank and hitchhiked back to the house with no shoes. Or some shit like that.

*which, incidentally, is an easter egg on the DVD

**is that even a real company?

***No disrespect to Cinderella (Philly/South Jersey dudes) or Kip Winger

****to paraphrase Clyde’s essential 20 Shot commentary

***** re: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”– as it happens, I have just reached the part in the Richards biography Life where he deconstructs the writing and recording of this song. Trip the fuck out. In case you don’t have the time to read it, here is a brief summary:

  • Brian Jones was a dick, and Richards banged his girlfriend (after he banged early-Sixties Ronnie Spector).
  • Jagger was cool at first—then he was a dick.

ANYWAY, Richards says he recorded the guitar tracks for said song on an overdriven cassette recorder using a crappy acoustic. If this is indeed the case, not only were he and Jagger early adopters of, like, cocaine, but also of retro recording techniques like the current “VHS/ #tracking” trend. They early-adopted mad shit.

Also, there is no doubt in my mind that Richards and Jagger would have skated had they grown up in London in the early 90’s as opposed to the early 60’s.

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6 Responses to “The Importance of Being Sk8legitimatebusinessmen”

  1. spacedoc said

    Don’t you mean Gino Perez?

    • thecarbonite said

      Nah I mean Ivan Perez–pretty sure he used to do those on lil manual pads. Gino Perez might have too, though…

  2. alex said

    This was fucking amazing, I would have added something about Lil B’s receding hairline/dread combo and also his 3flip nose manual could have easily slotted in as another talking point next to his 360flip nose grind reev, but seriously – great review man. Nice work as always.

    • thecarbonite said

      thanks bro…
      yeah Lil B’s hair is amazing…getting close to late-career Jerry Rice territory (‘cept Rice never had dreads, i think?)

  3. J-wU said

    Read this on New Years day, despite my hogmany hangover, but it kept the New Year party going for me.

    Oscar Wilde and Sk8mafia, that is an interesting combination. Got some funny looks in High School from my english teacher when I chose to review, “A Picture of Dorian Gray”.

    I am a strong supporter of the Illusion flips suck outlook, you need to do everything, “proper” in skating.

    Do you reckon If Richards and Jagger did grow up in the 90’s vs the 60’s and skated, that they would have become electronic music dj’s/producers and not the blues band derivative they were?

    • thecarbonite said

      yeah good point…or maybe one of those bands like the Mondays or the Roses or Primal Scream , like kinda danceable but still rock n roll ‘n shit

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