In Excitement for WBATB

Like an aging television network, the Berrics, Eric Koston and Steve Berra’s skatepark-turned-media-factory, is still kicking. I don’t even know if that comparison is apt – I really have no idea what is going on with TV networks. Their shows probably still get the most viewership over subscription on demand services. I don’t have those stats and I’m not going to look them up, so beats me. I’m also not sure what the Berric’s stats are – maybe they garner the most views as well, but I’m also not going to do that research. Point is, TV Networks and the Berrics feel clunky and not super relevant in the same way, at least amongst my peers. Yelling “Do a kickflip!” out a car window at somebody is just as obnoxious if it’s coming from a skateboarder as not. Historically, the only thing that I liked from the Berrics is their “Off the Grid” series, which is a simple idea and features the park solely in the intro. But probably the Berrics’ most popular production is the Battle at the Berrics.

I’ve never really minded the BATB. It was good for cherry-picking skaters I like and watching them throw a couple of flip tricks around. Once freed from its bloated pre-match packaging, some enjoyable and spontaneous skating can crop up – like the Chris Cole vs. Dennis Busenitz marathon, a match I actually revisit from time to time. Not to mention some lo-fi production techniques: unlike other Berrics programming, its filmed as if a camera with a servo zoom was handed to a random spectator and they occasionally rotate the hosts and refs. All of which helped in immediately piquing my interest when the Women’s Battle at the Berrics popped up in my YouTube subscriptions a couple weeks ago.

Speaking anecdotally because, as is my wont, I haven’t done any actual research about this, many of my peers seem to have the same apathy towards WBATB in the way one might towards any Berrics programming. It’s not quite the same, though, because woman haven’t had the opportunity to have had eleven previous editions to be apathetic towards. This is the first and there will be more, hopefully, in a landscape where its increasingly easier and easier to find skaters who don’t look like me. After following the #whoisinwbatb hashtag while it was going on, I learned about a ton of women who were hoping to get involved. I saw that Adrianne Sobloh, a personal favorite and one of the few women skaters I knew already, was in the first round against Margie Didal from the Philippines, someone I hadn’t heard of before. I clicked and watched their “Head to Head” intro video – not the type of video I would have watched before. But it did it’s job. .I wanted to know more about Margie Didal and after that intro I popped her name in the search box. Of course, she rips. Of course, she’s been in Street League. This is stuff I would know had I been paying any kind of attention.

Pointing a radar gun at skaters to create an empirical parameter for what they’re doing is stupid. That’s a stupid way to use a platform inexplicably built on the strength of a couple legendary names. Instead, using that platform to prop up women in skateboarding – a group that has been offered a sliver of the amount of opportunity that men have – is smart. High-minded and in-the-spotlight skaters like Mark Suciu, a seemingly good person and total ripper who happened to go to college and made a sort of palindrome out of his career and latest part while also referencing latin literary terms in an attempt to let us know – well I don’t know what – that he reads? That life is cyclical? That what goes up must come down, what goes around comes back around? At its core, it shows that maybe he thinks about the skateboarding he’s doing. Taking this further, let’s think about what we can do with skateboarding. The Women’s Battle at the Berrics is doing a lot – finally – and elevates it to the most relevant thing The Berrics has done and one of the most relevant skateboarding things on the internet now.

‘Gnarlytown’ in Words and Photos

Words by Me, Photographs By Adam Ianniello

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Like Travis Pastrana blasting his Suzuki over a fireball, the flyer for Gnarlytown suddenly appeared in my life. Its Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-esque design of stencils, coupled with an asphalt-and-neon palette and no less than 14 logos and 6 different fonts, brought my attention to the one-day festival taking place in San Pedro, California, organized by rock station 95.5 KLOS. Pennywise and Rancid–a duo of Northern and Southern ‘90s California pop-punk heavyweights– were headlining, preceded by a part obvious and part head-scratching lineup of the Aquabats, Mike Watt, Rotting Out, Madball, Off!, and Action Bronson. Add in Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus and whatever Chris Cole’s “Rail Jam Invitational” is and you get one doozy of a day down at the port of Los Angeles. 

A lifetime of saying the word “gnarly,” at times with absolute sincerity and others with hypocritical disdain, have not rendered me impervious to the irony of this sort of event. Nor have the many years of alternately enjoying and mocking the type of skate-punk music featured. It was, quite clearly, marketed directly at me. Did I take the bait? Shit yeah, I did.  On a sweltering June afternoon my friend Adam, conveniently a photographer, and I secured our one-way ticket (ahem, press-passes) to Gnarlytown.

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Pulling in to the festival, Adam and I were filled with excitement to lambast this obvious grab at SoCal Nostalgia. The most easily lampoonable event, the Rail Jam Invitational, was Chris Cole and friends (namely Billy Marks and some very hard-working Santa Cruz ams), skating an A-Ramp whose main feature was a box consisting of a Monster Energy-branded guitar. Needless to say: it was fucking gnarly. All jokes aside, I did see Chris Cole perfectly execute a switch frontside 360 flip — something I may never see in person again — and all skaters present tried their best to put on a show for the kids on the windy oceanside berth. With the skateboarding contained to one specific area and three interim time slots, the rest of the “bikes and boards” portion of the event was best experienced as bullet points: 

  • The Nitro Circus did indeed play out like a circus, ringleader and all, celebrating testosterone and fossil fuel. I’m sure there’s YouTube videos of it if that interests you.
  • “Send It,” may enter the same mainstream spot in our language as “gnarly.”

Musically:

  • Rancid sounds identical to when I first heard them as a wannabe punk from New Jersey.
  • The South Bay still heavily backs their hometown band, Pennywise.
  • Unfortunately, I missed San Pedro’s hometown representative, Mike Watt.
  • The “Southern California” pop-skate-punk scene seems to be alive and well and it takes place south and east of Los Angeles.

In the end, however, the people won us over. For all the possible gawking, mean-spirited joking, and actually valid indignation at the corporate world of punk consumption, the saving grace of Gnarlytown was its attendees. We met people who were there to see their favorite local bands, teach their kids how to mosh, or spend a Saturday in the sun with members of their community. As the day wore on and Adam and I spoke with more people about their experiences, we began to feel the joyous sincerity of everyone around us. They were not there to poke fun at how capitalism has co-opted their culture. They were there to fucking thrash, and they let us know it. 

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I’m Troll! I’ve been in a few films. I’m an old school punk rocker. I’ve been around it for a while. I’m from LA. I’m a stagehand; I build a lot of stages and skatepark ramps like these. I got All Access, too!” 

– Troll, Los Angeles, CA

 

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“What brings us here today? Fucking…the bicycles and the skateboards! AND PENNYWISE!” 

– Isaac (and family) San Bernardino, CA

 

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“I’m here to fucking get faded and listen to some good shit.” 

-Eric, Torrance, CA

 

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“That shit just cruised up on my Facebook. I’m here to fucking tear shit up in the pit. We’re South Bay locals. Pennywise is my shit.” 

– Austen, Lawndale, CA

 

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“My dad wanted to bring me here for my first time. I’m probably most excited about the moshpit.”

– Finley, San Pedro, CA

 

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“I came out to have a good time with some friends and listen to some good music, man. I was really super stoked to see Rotting Out and, of course, Rancid. You gotta keep it OG. “– –

– Jules (hair being braided) Pomona, CA

“We’re gonna go to the beach in the middle of the night!”

– Julia (braiding hair), Pomona, CA

 

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I’ve seen Pennywise four times but you can never get enough of it, you know? I’ve never seen Rancid, either, so I’m here for Rancid as well. I love Rancid.”

– Brett, Covina, CA

 

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“We’re pretty drunk!”

– ? 

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“My son talked me into it. Thought I should get out of the house. I’m enjoying myself. The ramp is sick! That’s real bad, I’d like to do that. If I was riding my bike I’d do it!”

-Freddy, Norwalk, CA

 

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“I’m the queen of Torrance!”

– Jamie (and companion), Torrance, CA

 

And some more without words:

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89. Stoke of the Week Round-Up

Three clips and a sentence on why each one got stoked. A bigger skate-adjacent piece is going up tomorrow.

Tony Karr | Loop 1 | Transworld Skateboarding

Tony Karr is one of my favorites and footage of him is few, far between, and exquisite.

Kyota Umeki {Homies Network} Raw Documents

Kyota Rips and Frog might be my favorite current new company, and not just because I love Frogs.

Ruben Spelta ‘Mamma Mia’ Part

More parts like this, please.

88. Jetlagbrothers: Istanbul

Skaters, brands, footage, and content come and go so fast these days that it’s hard to tell what or who to keep track of. What is Jetlagged and how are all these people possibly affiliated? Brian Delatorre deservedly is all over the place somehow and on the whole it seems like everyone’s hanging out with everyone everywhere in the world on who knows who’s dime. This ruled. And, yeah – why not? Slo mo that pigeon at the end!

87. JENKEM – Cooking Pierogies With Yaje Popson & Quim Cardona

Dad-Quim is in full effect here and it’s genuine and awesome. The additional skate from the west to the east side and all its happenstance-ry made this slice-of-life all the more accessible, mimicking the way a session organically flows into eating and hanging out. These two clearly know how to cook – Yaje in two surprising turns in his earlier Jenkem installments which, apparently, returned due to popular demand – and Quim flexing culinarily here for the first time with a family pierogi recipe. Perfect for the East Village. Handcrafted, organic and complicatedly-simple, the dish seems perfect over a few joints at the end of a day of skating.

86. Ryan Maddox SSDD PART 2 (2019)

Regardless if it was purposely timed with the Jason Adams Nine Club or not, this Ryan Maddox part was re-contextualized by the 15 minutes of slappy talk towards the end. It’s actually a part 2 – sequel to a 2018 part – and its name, SSDD or “same shit, different day” clearly rings true. It’s shot like a professional video that is trying to sell something, which is how anything related to John Lucero comes off – in a good way – but features the sort of middle-aged-dude-skating that just looks so damn fun. I’ll take every bert-slide situation going on here. Pump it up to nearly 7 minutes with curb cameos from Lucero himself, Lance Mountain, and Slappy Hour bartender of choice Jason Adams and catch me two hours later watching every part in Adams’ repertoire and then another three later into the final third of his aforementioned Nine Club interview* hearing him giving slappy tips by suggesting trying to bash your anger out on a curb. Which brings me back to the context that this part exists in: now that slippity sliding on your ass, rolling around in the streets and bashing curbs is fashionable, let’s take a moment to relish when these very people depicted in digital pixels in the above skateboarding part who have not only created the slappy thing but have kept it going for decades are still doing it and will still be doing it when the trend dies. Dammit, it’s getting me stoked just thinking about that.

*side note about the Nine Club – I’m learning to appreciate it in the same type of way the work that Story Corp is doing – maybe more on that later?

 

 

 

85. SKATE JAWN “FIDDY”

People are quick to make snap judgements. It is easy to declare something dead and done, especially if its not really dying but changing in a way that challenges your established worldview. All at once, Skate Jawn reached their 50-issue semi-centennial – printed in glorious color, released a custom Lynx with DC Shoes, and premiered their video “Fiddy,” a name aptly honoring their milestone. So, in a skateboarding landscape where we are constantly lamenting “the death” of print (myself included), this trifecta squares up, directly front and center, as a strong counterpoint. Skate Jawn is alive and well! The mag is as word AND picture-heavy as ever, the topics broad and diverse, the urban skate rat grit and grime expanding and permeating into other realms of skateboarding. For 50 issues Skate Jawn has been playfully and authentically offering up its slice of culture in a real and a raw way, gathering a small but growing number of local skateboard voices and talents in its pages; a collage of many things underground and now with just a touch of corporate money. It’s a great flavor. Fiddy follows the mag’s format; a pastiche of different contributors’ sections, montages and parts, to create a video representative of the Skate Jawn ethos and the world as they see it through skateboarding. Everything about it got me the most hyped to get out and rip this week.