In 2017, skaters are out in the streets desperately searching for a plaza. The type of replacements we’re coming up with in a post-LOVE, skate-stopped world are insane. There’s a couple not bad ones in Los Angeles, where I live, but none of them are at least a 45-minute drive away for me. Therefore, I spend more hours per week posted up in local parking lots than an average delivery person. The parking lot hustle is super familiar to most, but it’s way more fun to leisurely hang out with your fellow humans than only being privy to them shuttling back and forth from their Audis to the CVS for topical creams or neti pots. In New York, meanwhile, some of my friends have started a minor revolution at one of the oldest plazas the city has, Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. Borough Hall never really looked like much of a plaza and it still doesn’t really but I’m told the city redid the ground. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
My friend Tom Gorelik aka Russian Bob was in Los Angeles recently and our regular chats about cameras led me to revisit his Vimeo page, where I discovered his most recent upload of “2017 iphone drop offs” – an 11-minute compilation clip of random things he’s filmed during the past year. The name is a ripoff of Quartersnacks’ drop-off clips and I’m really not a fan of tripling up the vertical video but I was extremely psyched to see how hard the gang was holding it down at Borough Hall, most notably David Nelson’s use of the second stair. While not a perfect plaza, I did get to thinking about Borough Hall’s place in the larger fabric of the city and how it relates to the urbanity around it which is really about 70% of what any good plaza should do. So who cares if there’s no real ledges or if it took a week of waxing to get the stairs going, the people watching is tops.
So you don’t have to watch all the other stuff, I edited all of the Borough Hall moves in Bob’s clip into a new one of my own. Watch it and then go post up:
Nelson & Friends at Borough Hall from Adam Abada on Vimeo.
The original clip:
Here at Stoke of the Week, the term “SOTY” has a whole different meaning – but more on that in a couple of weeks. What got me most stoked this week had nothing to do with year-end superlative prizes, anyway. What got me most stoked was this quick part of Jeff Lenoce, complete with the man’s signature switch heels, skate-rat night skating, and a whole lot of flavor. Jeff’s Baker Boys Dist. stock isn’t completely eradicated as it appears he’s still attached to Shake Junt by the logo at the end. Good for him and big ups to Shane Heyl for recognizing continued greatness, though I suppose it’s not too hard to toss a brother a few sheets of grip tape. Hopefully it’s putting his name on the lips of some youngins. But are kids watching the RIDE channel? With 1.4 million subscribers they sure don’t need love from me but I actually have a soft spot for them, as they hooked up Backstreet Atlas in an era when there was a little more thought behind a web clip. I’ve also enjoyed some Free Lunch and their international SKATE _____ clips but I’m not sure what’s going on over there. I tend to root for RIDE from afar and don’t click on too many of their clips these days but when you have Jeff Lenoce in the name that’s a mandatory watch. Simply put: this short part from a childhood favorite was the best thing I watched all week. Looks like he’s still got some more in the tank, too.
BONUS: Tom Asta Everslick Ledge Assault
There was a recent éS Instagram post of Tom Asta doing a ridiculous barrage of tricks at the West Los Angeles Courthouse. It made me start following éS and I’m pretty sure sometime in 2018 I’ll buy a pair. Not to be outdone, the NHS camp came out with one of their patented quickie web clips of Asta and a similar barrage at that non-skatepark (but really?) spot in San Francisco that I think I’ve seen referred to as “4th & Army” before – it must be in that same third and army zone, unless I’m totally off base. This clip speaks for itself and is really a fast ad for Santa Cruz’s “everslick” boards, though I don’t think just having one of those boards will hook you up with Tom Asta-level skills. Even so, I thought was a nice true street skating 1-2 with the Jeff Lenoce jam. It also appears to be shot on a phone with a fisheye, which gets me pretty stoked on its own.
The curtain is beginning to be pulled back on these NHS clips for me – they come out so regularly that I’m beginning to think about the spreadsheets scheduling their release. Yet here I am stoked on another one. I wonder who’s in charge of producing them. Wrangling the skaters and filmers in different cities and putting the whole thing together sounds like a low-paying, seemingly awesome but tiresome job. The formula is still solid: get an interesting pro out for an afternoon of doing what they love and get it on film. I wouldn’t exactly say Zered “mobbed around” New York in this MOB Grip clip – leaving a skatepark and skating the streets surrounding it doesn’t exactly qualify in my book – but the best stuff to me was in the Williamsburg plaza anyway. The switch 180 nose manny revert got my attention and the switch ollie over the hip kept it. But it was the switch stalefish that had me coming back for more. It’s my favorite grab and I’ve never even really considered it switch. That trick is really the reason it stayed in my head all week but a few city street pushing vibes and a kickflip over a barrier off those metal construction plates never hurt.
Every year Thanksgiving rolls around and we’re all supposed to figure out some shit we’re thankful for. Well, I’m thankful for the same damn things I’m thankful for every day of my life and, while I like gorging with my family and loved ones, I’m not about to turn it into some special thing. Thanksgiving commemorates how Europeans murdered a bunch of indigenous American peoples: almost everyone is more gracious than Americans, of course we spin it somehow to make a holiday out of that shit.
I didn’t skate much Thanksgiving week nor did I have a lot of time to watch skateboarding. Suffice it to say my cue is extra long this week. There’s some new stuff on the net as well. I’m stoked as hell to dig into this Krooked video named after a drug acronym (but not really?), a few Thrasher parts, and this end of the year stuff is surely about to pop off. Louie Lopez released another part, too. It’s wild how easily you can see inside this SOTY machine nowadays. Who’s getting it – him or Tiago? Or Riley Hawk? Like Thanksgiving – who cares?
I did get a chance last week to watch this Evisen promo five times, though, and it rang through my head for a few days after. From the absolutely badass Sin City style smokey jazz cityscape opening to the insane place these folks have pushed ollieing out of boardslides to the high-contrast grit of the shots, I’m sold. I haven’t heard of the Japanese (I think) Evisen before this but they have great graphics. I can’t wait to see the full video, which I unfortunately can’t see this Saturday in New York at the Wythe Hotel Theatre for 5 bucks. I’ll be thankful for you if you go in my place.
The next best thing to a piece of media that highlights, celebrates, or critiques the connections between skateboarding and the many layered levels of society in which we live is one that seems to be made with no audience in mind whatsoever. By his own admission, Kyota Umeki’s new video does just that – and he lets us know with a scrolling intro message to the viewers explaining that it began as a capital J Joke to film his friends with a Nintendo 3DS – something that: a) I forgot existed; b) doesn’t have any reason to have a camera and; c) of course has a camera. Being a big believer in using whatever camera you have access to, I needed no more information to continue watching the 15 minute clip, obviously but cleverly titled “DS1000”. The video quality recalls a period in technological time somewhere between the first Razor phones capable of video and a Blackberry, as if you can feel the 3DS being whipped out of Kyota’s pocket in a rush to capture a homie’s move nobody asked to be filmed. This lends a raw, giddy, almost childish street feel to the video that puts you right into the age range of a child with a Gameboy waiting at a bus stop. I’ll chalk up some of that vibe to the 3DS’ camera but can’t ignore the creativity of the person holding it that sparked the idea in the first place. Kyota skates with an astonishingly vast and diverse amount of people, with grainy images from the likes of a smiling Eric Koston to Rachelle Vinberg to Labor Skateshop regular Galen DeKemper (if you know, you know) making appearances. I found myself bopping to the tunes and having way more fun than a minute long Instagram montage in this clip that had no business being as watchable as it is, which may be the key to the whole thing. Since it began as a Joke, theres never the pretension of asking the audience to pay attention to any one thing and nothing is being sold – skaters and filmer alike – other than the inevitable residual uptick in Nintendo 3DS sales that this now-esteemed work will facilitate as soon as I click that “publish” button.
Not many words this week – I should have some thoughts on skateboarding and its relationship to society in a format that more closely resembles an essay soon. It’s real easy to get all bloggy when you have, you know, a blog. I’ve never really kept a journal, this is kind of tight.
I try to steer clear of the bigger stuff people have probably seen but I got stoked this week by that stuff – namely Hockey III. It kicked ass. Andrew Allen slamming gets me so hyped. Dude goes down like a sack of potatoes thrown into a pile of bricks. I rewound his slams, which he takes with the gravitas of a make, more than any other trick in the video. It makes me want go outside and rub my hands against gravel just to get those little pieces stuck in my palm, let alone skate.
Palasonic is, of course, so sick. You didn’t need me to tell you that. I’d be down for the next one to not be VHS, though. I haven’t watched the Thrasher stuff this week – Deathwish and Blind – but I intend to before the session later. Deathwish has been my shit since I moved to Los Angeles. Maybe I’ll buy a board.
Shout-out to Jenkem, also, with some of my favorite not-too-high-brow-but-above-Instagram-level video content. I’ve finally come around on Orangeman, that freaky mad scientist.
Dude, blogs are hard. I completely forgot about this while working out of East Texas last week. I can still remember what got me most stoked, though, and you can still consider it. In the tradition of some of their early video work like “April Fools,” Krux, whose trucks I’ve never owned, does these monthly “best of” videos on YouTube that seem to be compilations of their rider’s Instagram posts or clips they’ve already posted. Since I like things to be longer than a minute and I like even more the idea that thought went into them, I always watch these. Just the stitching together of smaller things you’ve made in the past makes it seem more like the videos are pieces of an episodic story – which they are. It’s called “life.” These remind me more of a video version of a zine than a throwaway Instagram clip and I find comfort that some people think documented things are still worth revisiting. It comes as no surprise that the NHS camp that owns Krux, the people behind the Strange Notes zine and videos, are still ramming that square peg into a round hole and refusing to give in fully to the chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out ethos of the social media generation, which is where most of their money is coming from. It makes me want to hit the streets and be a part of the action. Taking this to the next logical step and turning all their monthly best ofs into a yearly best of come list season would be awesome.
Hopefully I’m more back on track this week.