July 31, 2013
“Remember how cold it was when you took the bus up to Montreal?”
“Winnipeg is colder.”
The above is an excerpt from an internet discussion between me and my homie in MTL. I think I had mentioned that Winnipeg seemed like a tight place to live, based on a)various Green Apple-affiliated videos I had seen b) the plaza that was one of the first ones that seemed to replicate Barcelona architecture and c)the return of the Jets.
He went on to describe a bleak, economically devastated metropolis where native gangs rule the streets at night. Based on Supper’s Ready and Modern Love though, Winnipeg appears to be a spot-filled metropolis where the particularly Canadian sense of humor–via SCTV/ Bill Murray–flourishes in skate vid form. That, specifically, is what effective skate video producers do–create a worldview in the viewer’s mind, whether Socrates’ World Park/Ramona/Beryl axis or Muhern’s emphasis on the Baroque old world-ness of Philadephia architecture. Moreover, Ryan McGuigan (not to be confused with Ryan McGinley) pioneered the technique of creating a pastiche of random Al-Jazeera news anchor clips (or whatever the fuck)* and other random footage into skate vids for #artistic affect that Palace would later expand on. Come to think of it, Friedberg probably pioneered this technique in the much-maligned Da Deal Is Dead and Whatever vids. All that environmentalist stuff in Now ‘n Later started it a couple years earlier, though. Via the intro to Jovontae’s part, natch.
ANYWAY, Canadian skate vids are notorious for two things: the XXL white tee/size 40 jeans/fitted kit and b)a sincerity that hearkens back to the 1970’s arena rock era. Bachman Turner Overdrive and Triumph maintained no artifice in their rock. Straight-ahead 4/4. Videos likeYesterday’s Future occupy a similar philosophical space, a place in which using an incredibly sincere posthumous Tupac song for a part of a dude who, by all accounts, literally lives on a farm seemed totally chill. Modern Love, and to a greater extent, Supper’s Ready, constituted quantum leaps for Canadian skate video production, introducing the aforementioned techniques with a “trippy,” quick-cut editing style. As QS noted earlier this year, its #musicsupervision proved to be a rallying point for the use of #edm in skate vids, as well as my own personal entry into the genre. Indeed, Canadian heroes McDermott, Vince, and Charron all fucking rip. But for the purposes of this article, Supper’s Ready and its predecessor are all about Travis Stenger, aka Canadian Gino.
My Canadian friend becomes noticably upset whenever I refer to Stenger as such. This is probably due to the fact that, one summer when Travis was out in MTL with Charron and those dudes, my friend mainly encountered him smoking a bong with his shirt off in the basement of the skouse in which he was staying. Now, before I continue, let me be clear: my usage of the moniker “Canadian Gino” is partly facetious. I don’t sincerely think Stenger is on the same qualitative level as Gino, if one compares their respective bodies of work and overall import. However, it is funny to describe something Canadian by referring to is as “The Canadian [something American and similar, but kind of superior].” For example, Aldo Nova=Canadian Bon Jovi.
ANYWAY, one cannot deny that, like Gino, Stenger has earned a mythos as a reclusive technical genius who revived previously forgotten, uncool, or NBD tricks and made them look cool as shit. For example, he concluded his signature Modern Love part with a f/s shove-it out of a b/s tail into which he had kickflipped. Subsequently, the trick and variations thereof found their way into everyone’s repertoire. More recently, he resurrected a trick that, to my knowledge, had only been done by Josh Beagle on a 2″ curb and made it appear as second-nature as a Hosoi b/s air (ender here). Subsequently, a few dudes–Daniel Espinoza and Biebel come to mind–have done one, but not quite as effortless-looking or out of as perfectly-balanced a 5/0. Like a more-aggro Javi Sarmiento or some shit, eight years ago he was at the forefront of Canadian loose-fitting-clothing tech skating. I once wrote in this space that Anthony Van Engelen skates as if he is brutally making love to a woman. Along those lines, Stenger abuses ledges as if his hockey team of choice had just suffered an improbable game-seven overtime defeat.
The central mystery of Stenger is, of course why his career fizzled out in the middle of the last decade. There are two theories–Well, two that I know of. A) some aspect of his style and/or personality rubbed Mike and/or Rick the wrong way [nullus]. B) the more interesting theory: according to SLAP board speculation, some Canadian Lakai dudes were slated to have their own section in Fully Flared –kind of like the “royal fam”–but Travis didn’t want to film or some shit, or even really go am.**
If this is the case, then Stenger out-Gino’d Gino. He was over it before Rick and Mike even put him on.
Now, according to various unconfirmed speculative sources–he plays golf, smokes weed, and skates when he wants to. This only adds to his legend, though–owning a transcendent talent and opting not to #monetize it, via the actual economy and/or the attention economy, runs counterintuitive to the way the world works now. For example, imagine if a top five NBA draft pick–the NBA version of a girl/choc flow dude–opts to not sign his rookie contract. Instead, he chooses to play basketball with his friends when he feels like it, smoke weed (natch), and remain in his hometown with his friends.
The reaction of the sports talking head collective would range from “perplexed” to “livid.” Skip Bayless*** would suffer an aneurysm. However, montages of his college career would live on forever via the magic of the internet, and occasionally we would see a clip of him playing pickup ball at a JCC somewhere.
That’s pretty much what we get in the latest Green Apple offering, Video X. Stenger still kills it via some of the best f/s flips ever and still refuses to switch to slim straight. Along those lines, he even wears an early-’00’s-style yellow XL shirt in one clip.
Gotta keep the dream alive.
One of the dudes in his section even does a f/s 5/0 360 flip out–as an homage? ANYWAY, the rest of the video is sick if you dig Supper’s Ready, albeit the music is less on the #edm tip and more on…I don’t even know what genre. McGuigan appears to have collaborated with some type of electronic musician, or some shit. The interspersed footage, for the most part, consists of animals in their natural habitats–also a change. However, McGuigan continues to excel in his use of cultural memes to add layers of meaning: OJ’s bronco, the SNL “Chris Farley Show” skit with Paul McCartney, and, in a utilization of stock footage that literally caused me to laugh out loud, weaving olde-tymey footage of a dude in “Satan” costume–bright red face paint and all–into the bowl/transition section Justin Basset’s part. The majority of the vid depicts the #eastcoast-type vibes of Winnipeg, which appears as bleak as my friend described it.
However, while Stenger dominated the 00’s, the final two parts in the vid showcase the two most prominent #current practitioners of low-impact Canadian technical skating. Russ Milligan, who has hovered near the top of almost everyone’s “most underrated” list for years, follows up on his Think part by f/s half-cabbing that object Markovich 180’d at the beginning of his epochal Fight Fire With Fire part and pays homage to that one Pat Duffy b/s nosebluntslide by attacking it switchstance. In addition, he continues to cement his reputation as one of the most prolific nollie frontside flippers #ofalltime. Most importantly, though, the part’s music supervision continues the trend**** of blending a 60’s/70’s/80’s song with the track that sampled it. This makes it acceptable to re-use a song from Da Deal is Dead. Furthermore. Think’s recent working-class/underdog/SF-centric rebranding is tight. Which brings us to Paul Liliani’s part.
Is Toronto one of the most underrated cultural meccas of our time? A metropolis that consistently produces a myriad of PBR&B stylists and thirst trap chicks now seems to also serve as a haven for ledge ninjas, considering Morgan Smith***** and this dude Liliani. I think he might be on AWS Canada or some shit? Similar to their health care system, beer distribution network, and professional football league, the rules differ for going am and/or pro–Canadian Style.
Not #newrules , just different.
ANYWAY, the tone of the music and editing switches up in this final part–a little faster-paced. More intense. This mirrors the nonchalance with which Liliani shuts down that blue rail that you might remember from the dylan. internet solo video part. He also approaches Puig-like levels of flip-in/out mastery, and his ender on bay blocks might even be sicker than that one Jake Johnson trick. Which is harder, flipping in or flipping out? The world may never know.
In any event, Milligan, Lilliani, and even Morgan Smith face an uphill battle in the industry as it is currently constituted. Because, similar to Hemispheres-era Rush, they are technical as fuck and rad as fuck, but not very commercial.
So will recent upheavals prove an opportunity or a hindrance for the aforementioned Canadian gentlemen? Only the sands of time will tell, but I think it was Neal Peart who said “working with the negatives could make for better pictures.”
You might be able to obtain Video X via Josh Stewart’s Theories of Atlantis operation. However, at press time (?) they were out. Or, if you live in Canada, it might prove more convenient to purchase it from the Antisocial web store or physical location or the Green Apple physical location.
*I was thinking the other day that it would be tight if someone had filmed my Bar Mitzvah, which was in Israel. Would fit in super well in a Palace web clip.
**another theory is that the Tyson “sign the contract” clip in Supper’s Ready refers to Stenger’s own reluctance to sign such a document
***I tweeted this idea a couple years ago or some shit, but if Ride Channel or some other content provider wanted to be really progressive, they would film a skate version of First Take or Highly Questionable with a couple of old former pro’s with no fucks left to give.
****as seen in Rodrigo Texeira’s Parental Advisory part and the Quartersnacks William Phan re-edit
*****who, by the way, dropped two video parts basically #atthesamedamntime this summer