I love good skateboarding, but I’m tired of watching the same people skate. In the streets I’m seeing everyone on boards these days, but on the screen I’m seeing the same skaters putting out footage. Or types of skaters – cisgendered dudes, that is. Good skating is good and all, but seeing good skating coming from people of all identities is better. It feels like its representing the world I want to live in. Skateism was so sick of trying to find clips from trans or queer skaters that they went right ahead, picked two of their favorites – Cher Strawberry and Peach Sørensen – and made their own. ThatswhatImtalkinbout! No gimmicks, no nothing but some insanely sick skateboarding, opening with Cher absolutely blasting a fatty-to-flatty melon out of a park quarterpipe, stepping off and spinning the board off a curb just to hop back on, and then furiously ripping down the street to throw in a piercing tre flip for shits n giggles. Cher’s half of the part doesn’t let up, then it transitions into Peach’s brand of hectic skateboard trickery. I thought I knew what to expect, then I didn’t. It even takes a few watches to sink in – each one a bigger pleasure than the last. It’s nice when there’s a clear best thing to watch each week.
Pros and big video releases and NBDs and progression are great and all, but truly nothing gets me more stoked than the local aspect of skateboarding. The skating, art, relationships and experience born from a group of people doing what they love and, hopefully, sharing that with others to build or add to a community at large is what gets me going, in skateboarding and in capital-L-Life. That was the genesis of this blog; I wanted to share things that gave me that special feeling.
Since I’ve met him, Dana Ross aka Pizza (dude just loves pizza) has been one of the main purveyors of that stoke. A Minnesota native from just outside the Twin Cities, I met him through a friend in Minneapolis around 2013 and he helped show me around to spots. He also gave me a copy of his then-newest video, The Last Slice. He’s since completed two other videos, Autumn and his latest The Passion of the Slice, been immortalized by Minnesota’s godfather of skating Steve Nesser through his shop, Familia, by way of a skateboard, and even had an interview in Thrasher after showing a pro team around. Usually it’s the activity of skateboarding itself that does the giving, but in my time of knowing him, Dana’s always dedicated his all to skateboarding and given as much of himself as he can. It’s no surprise to see the returns.
His newest full-length flick, Passion of the Slice, is a no-frills look into his crew of Minnesotans, featuring every type of spot and trick imaginable and filmed throughout the Twin Cities, neighboring municipalities, as well as featuring a sizeable hunk of New York City footage. A heartfelt opening memorial part and intro dedicated to his friend, Minnesotan CJ Tambornino who recently died, really sets the stage for the kind of local scene I’m talking about. You can tell skateboarding in the Minneapolis area, easily one of the coldest bigger cities in the country, has heart: the name is no Macguffin, the passion is inherent in every frame. Dana & co skate everything and anything and the mixture of drab, grey midwestern alley spots mixed with world famous skate locales exuded that skate rat stoke that keeps my blood pumping. I ordered his video, which he charmingly still prints to DVD, giving the whole project a high-school level layer of warmth and love, and got it this week and popped it the hell into my DVD player. You don’t have a DVD player? You can get one for about 10 bucks at a thrift store. Once you do that, cop the video, it will make you want to go skate with your friends. That’s the first step in spreading the passion, yeah?
I couldn’t not hit up Dana to ask him a bit about making Passion of the Slice, so I called him up. That conversation is below.
photo by Hansi Johnson
First thing: tell me about the Pizza/CJ intro. What made you think of that?
My friend Eric Beaudry owns a production company and lives in the same town as me and was always down to do something with skateboarding. My friend Matt thought of the name “The Passion of the Slice,” and then I took the name and went with it and thought it’d be cool to go to all the spots in Minneapolis that CJ shut down. He was a good homie to all of us and a staple in the skate scene here so we had to do something for him. We got his dad in there. All the old footage I found from going through my archives.
That was you in the pizza suit?
Yep. That was me.
What’s your philosophy behind making a video?
Well, I always do all the filming myself, I never take anyone’s footage. I try to keep it consistent with me filming. I film the video front-to-back, everyone’s parts. I edited it with my friend Kevin Horn, who’s made his fair share of skate videos so it was really great to have his input. I normally try to narrow it down to my friends who are hyped on it and want to be in it. Of the seven parts in this video, most of the dudes I’ve never filmed much with before. It was a trip working with Dan Jackson, he’s 46 years old now.
Whoa! He had my favorite part.
He didn’t like his part. He has a very different filming approach, we butted heads a couple times cause he’s got three kids and a life. I’m a later-in-the-day guy and he was always trying to get up at the crack of dawn to film. He wanted some more skits in his part too, but that wasn’t really the approach I was going for. I’ll give him the credit, he worked really hard. Maybe he got a bit stressed, though, especially for a local homie video. He’s amazing, especially for 46, but I think in his head he’s still 19.
Why still make a DVD?
I make DVDs because I still think it’s cool to have a physical, tangible thing to show after working so hard. In Minneapolis kids are still pretty good about supporting that kind of stuff. I sold all of my DVDs and had to do a re-up for premieres in Madison, WI, Chicago and New York! We filmed in Chicago, Madison, and New York mostly so I thought it’d be cool to do a premiere in each one of them. All my other videos I’ve sold out but not this quick. I went through my run of 100 in a matter of a week and a half. I made my money back in terms of what I spent to make the DVDs but not in terms of traveling for filming.
Will it ever be online?
Thrasher was down to host it but with the music I used I can’t. Especially after that whole Quasi thing. Eventually I’ll probably put it up on Vimeo so more people can view it.
What about your old videos, The Last Slice and Autumn…?
Yeah, I’m definitely going to get those up, a lot of people have been asking me about those. Those should be up in a week or two.
Favorite story from filming?
Ha! Probably any story involving Dan Jackson. Anyone who’s ever skated with him, or folks from up here know, he’s really talented but is also a very mental skater. He gets in a rut of betting a hundred dollars on his trick attempts to get himself hyped but then never pays up when he doesn’t make it. So that’s a running joke now, saying “A hundred dollars this try!”
Kirian’s ender, probably. At this spot in Minneapolis – this tennis court with a bank to ledge where he did a tail slide to fakie but hopped over the whole bank to the flat. People were pretty shocked by that. Also Jabarai’s ender, the nollie tre over the grass gap. And this kid Mikey’s kickflip over a block that was so steezy.
How’d you fill out that two-song friends section?
A lot of those clips are from when New Balance and Nike dudes roll through and I show them around and get second dad-cam angles. It’s pretty funny to get the skate celebrities in my montage, a nice Pizza angle of them. They were all pretty cool about me using that stuff, as long as I make sure it comes out after their projects.
My blog is called “Stoke of the Week.” So, Dana, what gets you the most stoked?
In general, while skating? I guess skate videos. Ones that let me see what my friends are doing. They get me pretty dang stoked. A good, solid, full-length video. There’s three local videos that are coming out this fall that I’m stoked on. Pete Spooner’s new video, the Cal Surf shop video, and my homie Dan Rusin’s video. He refuses to film in the Twin Cities but only in small towns, sort of like that video Grains.
Hell yeah. What’s your favorite slice of pizza?
A place in St. Paul called Cossetta. Just cause I’ve been going there since I was 7. I’m biased.
Do you prefer being called Dana or Pizza?
That’s a good question. I guess Pizza just because so many people call me that. Some people just know me as that, especially when I travel. In New York, RB Umali was talking to a mutual friend about Minneapolis skateboarding and he mentioned how he knows “this dude Pizza.”
From a bona fide New Yorker, to boot. What’s next?
I guess these couple of premieres coming up. Heal up and get back on a skateboard. I broke my foot recently. Do some skating for myself and not worrying about carrying a camera bag. But I got sparked going through all that old CJ footage so maybe this winter I’ll go through all my old footage and kind of make a best-of. I’ve been filming since 1998 so I have a lot to comb through.
Good crew videos make it seem like everyone involved lives in their own, possibly fantastical, world separate from the ornamentation of a straight life. The bunches of giddy fun had by this group of adult skaters to thrash metal riffs from bands you’re never going to hear of seems to shun the rest of contemporary society. I didn’t know what skateboarding is like in Israel and now I feel like I know a bit about it. Far as the four wheels are concerned, this video makes it look pretty sick. It’s for a bearing company called “Briza,” so I hope referring to it as a crew video isn’t seen as a belittlement – it’s a compliment. The 18-minute flick is filled with awesome Israeli spots I’ll probably never skate and a whole lot of funky hair I’ll definitely never grow. There’s just the right blend of point-and-shoot / “oh-shit-he’s-getting-close,-grab-the-camera” and semi-composed shots, like filming was often an afterthought and was remembered halfway into the day. There’s an overall feeling that some of the tricks are just the remnants of a session that everyone was having too good of a time at to bother filming. Yet other bigger, gnarlier moves have just the right amount of balance in their shot compositions to show that at least a bit of care went into creating this team video, as do the camera flashes present at certain moves. The whole thing is strung together with cohesive interludes, like the washed-out excitement of a spot that looks like Fort Miley on steroids, and these dudes look like they’re wholly un-American in a way only the Middle East can provide. The one-minute excerpt in my Instagram explore tab got me psyched enough to watch the whole thing, which is a great formula, for my money. I know most people aren’t necessarily clicking the #linkinbio but I much prefer when Instagram is used as a window into a larger content world rather than the universe itself. I sure as shit wouldn’t have caught this video any other way, even though Thrasher posted it as well.
Easy entry this week – a classic look at New York from Emilio Cuilan’s Hardbody brand. The VX and film really shines in this one. “aight bet.” feels like all the best footage of New York, where it was never really about the most fancy, has always felt but with updated spots, tricks and styles. Even so, back tails are done switch, with and without heelflips into them. Everything else is done with just the right amount of elbow grease to warrant entry to the show and the whole program doesn’t get much more efficient. Was that Chachi’s backside grab into the banks? Looks like it was out of a damn ramp, holy hell. I can feel the dirt kicking up from the city’s wintry asphalt cracks just looking at the thumbnail. Makes me wanna find some pavement.
Cop some Hardbody at hardbody.nyc.
Like many things one loves, when people ask me to name favorite skaters it’s hard to come up with an interesting, encompassing answer. What I consider my diverse set of tastes and styles usually boils down to the same greats that everyone says; Cardiel has been the boilerplate response since as long as I can remember. There are skaters, new and old, who fascinate and routinely show me what’s great about skateboarding each time I see them on the board but it’s usually in the moments between watching them skate and going out myself that my blood gets flowing. Seldom do they cauterize into a definitive list and I sort of forget about them until they come up again.
David Gravette is one such skater. So I’m going to use this space to lock him in as one of my favorites. Something about his nonchalant trick and spot selection makes it seem like he can do anything and his dirty little mustache means he’ll have fun while doing it. He’s the type of skater you can refer to as “all-terrain,” but not to keep up with any sort of trend or satisfy what’s popular at the moment: I think he just genuinely enjoys the feeling of his wheels riding on whatever’s up for offer. He’s a skater who’s just as comfortable doing a backflip as nose-manualing down a hill. At the 3-up, 3-down in San Francisco? Toss a switch 360 flip off it, why not – who cares if it’s been done better? He crosses the devil-may-care skate rat attitude of a grimy kid you didn’t even know skated with the tech ability and trick insight of someone who could only have learned it from years on the thing. A personal favorite of mine is his love of doing tight little backside flips on the lower part of any transition in his way – often tossed at the start or in the middle of a lengthy line utilizing the entirety of a park.
This part made of his extra footage from the last Creature video, before a string of injuries has kept him off the board since, definitely got me the most stoked this week.
Note: the whole Creature referring to their fans/riders/whomever as “Fiends,” i.e. “Creature Fiends,” is kind of weird to me.
Today I’ve got a sort of super-fast stream of consciousness type post. It was a hecka slow one this week in terms of clips being published and me watching said clips. For the last few weeks as a matter of fact, I’ve been finding myself having less and less time for getting stoked via web clips, my screen-time being monopolized by work and web chores I’ve only been able to watch a few a day. Rest assured, though, that there’s some cool stuff in the works, even though this blog still looks crummy on mobile and even though I’m still relatively sure only a half-dozen people read it when I do something to remind them. Speaking of, I haven’t been posting on my separate social media channels to remind anyone about it for the past few weeks because a) I like to post only when I have something extra special and b) I want to see if anyone reads it on their own. I should have made people aware of this Skateism post, though, because Skateism rules. I should have also let people know about this interview I did with good friend Will Cornwall about creating a skate plaza in his hometown over Providence, RI over on other good friends Spencer and Mike’s blog the Village Psychic. Oh well. If you’re reading this, drop me a comment! I don’t know how analytics work for this, I really just want to keep myself writing at least weekly (although daily would be better) so I maintain this blog. But I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment! I’ll be updating every week. More cool stuff coming soon!
This short video posted by Solo got me most stoked out of what I did watch this week. If I’m being honest, that was mostly because of the super grey vibe of the whole piece – much of the footage was filmed at night and the whole thing seems dreary and desaturated, reminding me of winters ripping around the northeast US, even though it’s dead summer for me in Los Angeles and a legitimate 102 degrees outside right now. But the clip reminded me of this Nick Jensen piece filmed by Dan Magee (who I’m pretty sure did a bunch of the Blueprint video stuff and now is a filmmaker in his own right who’s moved out of the skate world, but I forget) which is one of my favorite web clips of all time and, in my opinion, perhaps a perfect clip and the spiritual ideal for this blog.
More from me soon, everyone or no one!
WKND really used the whole buffalo with the parking lot here and this clip depicts a pretty much dream session; people-watching and endless fun on underwhelming obstacles. So many vibes flowing from day to night that you don’t even have to leave the non-spot you’re at. I feel like most people aren’t going to want to watch your three-minute intro – though I definitely am – so the skateboarding afterwards has to be spot on. It was. The animations add to the vibe and the personalities of the skaters in the opening really got me hyped for what was to come. Plus: Danny Montoya sighting!