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.

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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.

84. Actions REALized : Unity

There’s been a lot coverage about Unity. I’ve talked about them here a decent amount. Often, when things get covered a lot, they get played out. But inclusion doesn’t get played out. Honestly, it’s not enough coverage. Even though the New York Times has ran a beautiful piece on them, it’s not enough. Skateism had Jeff and Gabriel and Unity as their cover story – still not enough. Vice, Jenkem, the Berrics…not enough, not enough, not enough. It won’t be enough until every LGBTQ+ person who’s thought about skateboarding feels comfortable enough to try skateboarding. It won’t be enough until it doesn’t need to be covered because we wake up one morning and realize we live in a world where it’s not noteworthy to talk about LGBTQ+ people finding the space to do what every other person can already do.

So it’s important to cover it. When people, especially the larger skateboarding industry, pay attention to Unity, I get stoked. The Actions REALized collaboration from Real Skateboards is the first time I’ve seen a “mainstream” skateboard manufacturing company publicly recognize Unity in any visible, up-front way. To their credit, Thiebaud and Delxue have always been ahead of the game with this – as the Actions REALized history portrays.

This go-round, they teamed with Unity to create two decks and a shirt, a portion of whose proceeds go to the Transgender Law Center. The accompanying video for the collaboration is simple and elegant, reservedly revealing some of the faces and styles of the broader Unity crew utilizing – simply – elegant filmmaking techniques. Sight and sound, a person with a camera, a few talking heads, a few skate tricks. It’s not a unique combination, but the various voices blend together into one collective vision that champions individual authenticity as a way to connect with others and support each other.

The result is a beautiful and important video that, as I write this, has 2,447 views. Real’s previous post, the throw-away “Kyle Walker Turns Pro…Again!” has 25,000+. So, it is important to cover and talk about the spaces that exist for people to feel welcome and a part of the community. Don’t just listen to me; hear the voices in the videos themselves. There shouldn’t have to be a big event for people to feel comfortable doing the things they love. There shouldn’t have to be a special collaboration with a big-name skate brand to feel accepted. Until that’s the case, I’m going to talk about it.

83. A Day In The Life Of Cher by Magdalena Wosinska

Note: This video was uploaded two months ago, but a trailer was uploaded last week that seems to have redirect a lot of attention, including my own, towards the original upload.

 

The “A Day in the Life” genre of media – video, profile, photos, what have you – seems so played that the signifier almost acts as an anti-stoke. You have a life, there are days in it; we get it; I don’t usually feel excitement when I see pieces like this. At the same time, that’s how every life works: it’s filled with days, notably numbered, until they run out and your days are forevermore spent not “in the life,” at least not on this earthly plane. Those are the facts. So, “A Day in the Life” almost becomes a stand in for “an essay about” or “a film about.” And all that goes out of the window anyway when the subject is Cher Strauberry. This is a documentary filmed over a day in the life of Cher Strauberry from photographer/filmmaker/artist (they’re all the same damn thing) Magdalena Wosinska.

The film opens with Cher letting us know that, like anybody, she doesn’t really know anything, despite what others may think. By relaying how she got back into skating after the death of a loved one, Cher simultaneously and bravely bares a truth about who she is while inadvertently making an argument for the influence of what just one day can do. It can change everything. Suddenly the angle doesn’t seem as trivial anymore. From this start, it is clear that Wosinska and her camera’s presence are a natural element to the space and world of the film, as comfortable close-up in Cher’s bedroom as mingling with skaters at the Rockridge BART station in Oakland. This visual form is what gives the piece half of its power, Cher’s vital authenticity the other.

Cher exists in each scene as if there is no place else she is supposed to be, a miraculous aesthetic when you hear her words describing how much effort she has spent in life to feel natural and herself. The filmmaking, when crossed with Cher’s presence, injects enough extra energy to feel the potential for where the shot may go next. Each cut acts a a gateway to a newly uncovered facet of Cher’s thoughtful daily existence, leading us from her childhood hopes of getting ready to go out with the girls to her family’s struggles with who she is. Personal struggles with loss and acceptance are spoken about openly and frame how she strives to accept those around her. Her experiences surrounding drug use and death are spoken about simply and openly, as is her experience as a queer trans person. Tellingly, she knows that experience is important even though she wishes she could look to somebody else’s.

I don’t know Wosinksa’s relationship to skating or to her subject, but the filmmaking expands on the snapshots of Cher’s life that she captures, mixing the visuals of the Oakland scene with Cher’s voice and music. The work Unity is doing in Oakland and for skateboarding at large is incredible, but it’s one piece – that scene and access should exist everywhere. I love pieces like this – true punk-rock populist filmmaking – because they work to counteract the circumstances that keep us separated and adds to the conversation about and visibility of the people who need our acceptance. The joy of seeing Cher’s life, like reality, is couched in the sadness of learning how long it took for her to be where she is now. I know I am somewhat critically analyzing a formal piece of work, which has its merits, but I believe that a lot of what this work is saying is that we need to just be there for people – and that’s above critiquing.

From a skateboarding perspective, Cher looking absolutely badass. I can only imagine what her presence is like when she’s playing music. Learning that her skate scene and queer friends are a new aspect to her life gave me the same stoke as seeing someone land a trick I love on terrain I love – I can imagine the joy. What stokes me out the most is that this kind of art expands on the work Unity is doing: a deeply necessary representation of all sorts of people in media, art, and life. It reveals, among many other powerful ideas, that you never know what people are experiencing. Wosinska and Strawberry argue for everyone to make those attempts, themselves included, to understand that. The finished product shows how elegant, graceful, and badass you can become with your acceptance. This made me want to try even harder, for myself and everyone, to be open and available, because you just don’t fucking know – and how will you ever without trying to?

82. Brian Delaney — Twice Around Part

Maybe because this was culled from a bunch of different projects, it seems like a collection of some more diverse array of tricks for Brian Delaney than normal. Indeed, he himself joked about the amount of back tails – a trick I’m never really too bummed to see that much when you do em like he does – but I thought there was some seriously flavorful manuals in here as well as a smattering of other serious and seriously stylish ledge-tech. This part is adjacent to a bunch of folk I know, so I’m pre-disposed, but honestly it’s what I thought the most about this week and rewatched a couple of times. Eggs footage’ll do that.

81. Abraham Dubin – Heart Land

For the third week in a row, I’ve ended up having to post something and my thoughts on it instead of talking to the folks behind it. Hopefully that’ll change soon – the world moves fast these days, though! And hopefully I’ll do a more comprehensive interview with Abraham Dubin aka Orangeman, who continually charms me with his homespun creations – board, video, and otherwise – so I can give other people some shine on this blog. I can’t get enough of his compositions and editing and I want to know what camera he’s using. The closeups of paint shaving off of things he grinds seems unreal! I loved finding out he was married via this video and saw it almost more of a little vacation clip with his wife through what I can only assume is the midwest Heartland of America than a skate clip. It may not seem like there’s a place in skateboarding for this to some people but I honestly cannot get enough of it. Skateism agrees with me and interviewed him as well as gave him a column. This stuff just delights me. The piano version of “Shallow,” is better than the entirety of the movie it comes from and the original recording. Happy Friday!