Five Favorite Parts with Alex Olson

October 25th, 2013 | 5:54 am | Features & Interviews | 33 Comments

alex poler ollie

Photo via Alex’s New York skateboarding and Icelandic exfoliation trip for Poler and Nike SB.

Right now, this might look more like a regular feature than it has the potential to be, considering volume two is only a month removed from volume one. (If you need an explanation of this rather simple concept, consult the first post.) Not that there is any opposition to it becoming one — just that it’s going to get tougher once we expend the not-very-long list of persons of [wide] interest within the QS company Rolodex.

Anyway, we tracked down Alex Olson to give what may be his most message board fodder-deficient interview ever. Here’s a list of his five favorite video parts, and some thoughts on each one. Sorry if this might be tough to turn into a ten-page forum debate, guys. We’re all #positivevibez for the moment.

All words from here on in are Alex’s. Enjoy this final weekend of 6 P.M. sunsets.


Mark Gonzales — Blind: Video Days (1991)

Chris Roberts made me a VHS tape of all the classic videos for my 15th birthday. It was 20 Shot Sequence, Video Days and a few others. I used to watch Video Days a lot. These dudes would talk so highly of it, but it’s not like you could just buy a copy of it. It was such a myth to me.

Mark was doing these weird tricks that people are only now beginning to catch up to. That part is pieced together so well, that you could see the timeline of him filming it every day. I think they filmed for six months in that video. I’ve heard stories from older guys about how some pros around at the time weren’t that psyched on Mark’s part. Some people thought he was way better in person and he didn’t try hard enough for it. Like, you had to see him in the moment.

I understand that though. A lot of the guys who have influenced me the most — Reese Forbes, Donny Barley, Scott Johnston, Huf — are way better in person. I remember the first time I saw Reese skate at Third and Army. His kit was super sick. He had just got on Nike, so he had these crazy Dunks on with some weird selvedge jeans and golf gloves. He looked so different, and he was skating so fast with such power, that I was amazed. You don’t really understand how big all of the shit he ollies is until you’ve been to it. I was so Baker’d out at the time, but after that day I thought, “I’m way more into this.” His type of skating definitely spoke to me way more after seeing it in person.

Donny Barley — Toy Machine: Welcome to Hell (1996)

That was the first skate video I ever saw, and like any kid, I loved the section where everyone was falling at the end. After that, my favorite part was Donny Barley’s. It was how I thought skating should look: he skates to Black Sabbath, he pushes fast, he does good tricks, he does them super well. It’s the whole package. He skates ledges, pools, all around. I think a lot of it was in Boston, but I never equated something as “east coast” at the time. I just thought his skating looked really interesting.

Guy Mariano — Girl: Mouse (1996)

I feel like I don’t even need to mention it, it’s so obvious. [Ed. Note: Do we just put an asterisk next to every future “Five Favorite Parts” post, and have it be “Five Favorite Parts Aside From Guy’s Mouse Part?”] One of the smaller things in the part that makes it so sick, is that his shoes keep changing. He’s skating in One-Stars, Vans — he has his own different style for each day he went filming. He looks so different in that video because there was this confidence to him unlike anyone else. I also love that you see him push a lot. He’s doing hard tricks, but he’s actually skating around. It’s not like stunt work.

Anthony Van Engelen — Alien Workshop: Photosynthesis (2000)

I watched Photosynthesis over and over when it came out. Dill and A.V.E’s parts were super influential to me. “Search and Destroy” was a big thing because my dad was a punk rock guy, so he would play all that type of music. There was this connection in my head because I had heard that song a bunch when I was younger. A.V.E. had this barbaric kind of style. When I was filming for Fully Flared, I was thinking, “That’s what I want my part to be close to.”

I liked it more than Dill’s part when it came out. Dill’s is sick, but it’s definitely a bit more artsy and dramatic. I think the reason people love Dill’s part in that video is because it’s the part where he “finds himself.” He realized he could experiment with clothes; he’s confident to show people what he was into at the time. I love those sort of parts where the skater grows up. Danny Garcia in Mosaic and Reynolds in Baker 2G also have that sort of vibe.

Arto Saari — Flip: Sorry (2002)

It’s super heavy and insane. The first time I saw it, I was just like “Whoa” as it shoots through the roof. The other day, I was talking with someone and tried to compare it to Guy’s Mouse part. They were telling me I was tripping, but I think that’s because they were older and maybe it didn’t translate as much. I was just saying, “that part has two iconic songs, and it took people years to catch up to it.” There’s emotion in that part. You watched him beat the shit out of his body for it.

Previously: Five Favorite Parts with Jahmal Williams


Comment by Phantom Limb
  • Ohhhh Alex <3 so dreeeeaaaamy

    October 25, 2013 @ 6:24 am
  • Comment by rick thomas
  • what a neat discussion of video parts, shoes and other apparel. fashion is who we are, and it is NOW!!

    October 25, 2013 @ 10:47 am
  • Comment by margiela
  • as much as you guys love to pretend like talking about gear in skating is limited to some queer eye for the straight guy minority, one day you are gonna realize that everyone cares about clothes and shit and that it doesnt make you any cooler for pretending like you dont

    even jahmal (one of the most unhateable dudes in all of skatebarding no question) talked about gear in his favorites post and nobody said anything

    you guys just front on olson because hes a pretty white guy and a easy target

    October 25, 2013 @ 11:13 am
  • Comment by #alphpanumerica denim cargo's
  • y’all niggaz straight forgot style like me

    October 25, 2013 @ 11:24 am
  • Comment by welcome
  • Margiela is right. Anyone who acts like they don’t care about clothing at all is full of shit. The “i don’t care look” is a style itself, and it’s a mentality that anyone with half a brain can see right through.

    Keep hating on a dude that skates better than you and is friendly to everyone he meets. Rick Thomas would suck him off if he was given the chance.

    October 25, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
  • Comment by Scott K
  • Great picks!

    October 25, 2013 @ 12:33 pm
  • Comment by Steve
  • Great picks Alex, definitely agree with most of them. Artos part and AVEs part were beyond inspirational for me.

    October 25, 2013 @ 12:38 pm
  • Comment by Skately
  • Solid list.
    Feeling his Reese Forbes story, had a similar sighting in the late 90s.

    October 25, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
  • Comment by Kyle
  • All bakerd out?? Baker 3 is one of the greatest videos ever I’m sorry they would of never let you be in there video but get real baker has kept it real. You just go with the trends and care more about fashion then tricks.

    October 25, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
  • Comment by James
  • Kyle is spot on. Alex is killing skateboarding

    October 25, 2013 @ 2:23 pm
  • Comment by brogazelle p
  • All the symmetry in Arto’s is sick.

    October 25, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
  • Comment by Paul
  • Talks about Photosynthesis without mentioning Pappalardo ..

    October 25, 2013 @ 3:33 pm
  • Comment by jeff
  • This guy is so gay! And he’s ruining skateboarding!

    But seriously, good picks. I prefer AVE’s DC part, but photo was, obviously, a genre defining video.

    Best comment in this thread, however, goes to Kyle – Baker’s #1 fan. Buddy, Alex is saying when he was younger (not am yet), he was really into Baker. But seeing how other people skate, like Reese, made him change his perspective on how he wanted to skate. Instead of being into over-the-top “hammer” skating” and the whole Baker vibe, he found his niche more along the lines of Reese, AVE – stylish power skating and not dressing like he’s going to renaissance fair.

    And all the people complaining about clothes. Get over it. Skating is not just some jock sport where everyone wheres the same uniform; it’s a representation. Id be lying if I didnt admit that I was into early Girl and Zoo York (Hickey era) if I didnt like the way they dressed. I wasn’t into consolidated or black label or even Anti Hero when I was younger, I was into the guys that dressed the way I dressed and were city skaters – I could relate to it better.

    October 25, 2013 @ 4:58 pm
  • Comment by matt
  • thank you jeff

    October 25, 2013 @ 9:24 pm
  • Comment by Samuel Hamilton
  • Alex Olson is contextualizing his skate experience a lot more with these interviews (this and Jenkem). It makes his skating more interesting and relatable.

    It seems like he might really add a lot to the culture of skateboarding moving forward. And if he doesn’t no sweat, some one will pick up the slack.

    October 25, 2013 @ 10:09 pm
  • Comment by jack black's character from high fidelity
  • damn alex couldn’t you have been more obvious?!

    October 26, 2013 @ 12:06 pm
  • Comment by BitchNigga
  • This nigga said he didn’t skate for 5 months straight. Not from an injury or anything else. Just “Eh, wasn’t feeling it”. Fuck you, you privileged little bitch. Skate for those who can’t you fucking twat. Not everyone can everyday. What’s the Lance Mountain quote? “You aren’t a skateboarder because you skateboard, you are a skateboarder because you can’t stop skateboarding”. This dude’s a punk and I expect him to quit relatively soon to work more hands on in fashion/music/wood working. Whatever bullshit kooks like him do.

    October 26, 2013 @ 4:12 pm
  • Comment by OMGEEZ
  • alex is playing the game correctly. who else is on every blog site mag etc every week? he getting hoes and doing what he want. he’s a career skater he gonna be around for years and probly have a hugely successful company someday. his skating speaks for it self.

    October 26, 2013 @ 4:21 pm
  • Comment by nervous young hustler
  • are there other men out there like alex?? if yes then its gay time in the little straight town that i’ve called my life for too long <3 stay true AO :) stay true <3

    October 26, 2013 @ 5:49 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • I’ll second liking AVE’s part in the DC video more. That part is like the Photo part, but on steroids/crack/speed whatever. That’s probably on my five.

    Some of you dudes really found reason to get upset with his words here? Wow. I understand how he may occasionally rub people the wrong way in some interviews, but you guys are really fishing here.

    October 26, 2013 @ 6:26 pm
  • Comment by Dominic
  • No one can be criticized, EVER, for sweating Guys’ steep in Mouse. First of all, dude pulled off long hair without being a hesh, something many did afterwards but none did before. Second of all, he wore the same shit mad other people were wearing but he stood out. Fucking low top vans and one stars? That shit was dime a dozen then, but when you saw Guy in it, you couldn’t help but think about how cool those shoes looked.

    Also glad AO pointed out the real life vs video issue in skating. SJ came to my town and hit all the spots, landing difficult tricks first try, looking fucking crispy and clean every time, then skated on to the next spot. He killed my town in like two hours. But them some other “big gap/big rail” (who I won’t name) came through, drove up to the biggest rail in town, sat there for like an hour just to back lip it, and them drove away. And that back lip was a slow mo, but SJ’s tricks weren’t even captured on film and it was hands down the best skating I’ve ever seen. So it gives me hope that there are dudes around like AO who value the real deal.

    October 26, 2013 @ 6:34 pm
  • Comment by Dominic
  • Goddam autocorrect! STEEZ! Not “steep!!”

    October 26, 2013 @ 6:38 pm
  • Comment by Yorba
  • dominic, it was better with the mystery.

    golf gloves tho

    even though, with all due respect, that it’s rightly become no contest, does anyone else who was around back then remember that at the time, and for several years after, a lot of people were more into koston’s part in mouse. relatively speaking, i never got the “he’s KOSTON” thing. thrasher mag even gave him the soty award over guy that year. basically, that is still my favorite part of koston’s ever, but guy had a doper and rawer style, and his trick selection was all weeded out on some crazy space shit that don’t even make no sense, while koston’s was chilling more in the south bay.

    October 27, 2013 @ 12:11 am
  • Comment by t.a.
  • I like Olson’s skating. And when he talks about what’s great in skateboarding – like this. Everything else is near useless – don’t be a critic if you don’t have solutions. Anyway, this list is fantastic! And the influence of all these guys is pretty obvious to me, if not on-the-nose with some more than others. Plus, any Reese Forbes plug is a skater that knows their stuff – I get the feeling a lot of the younger kids aren’t gonna know or understand him in the future. He’s been cited by Dylan Rieder in regards to his ‘pop’ game, as well.

    If we get some more solid skating out of this guy in the future, I’m down. And yeah, it’s definitely about the kit.

    October 27, 2013 @ 6:31 pm
  • Comment by Booski
  • I second Yorba’s mystery comment and entire Guy/Koston point

    I had only been skating a year when Mouse came out. First time I watched Guy’s part I kinda shrugged my shoulders, all of it was over my head. Watched it two years later and it blew my mind. Anytime I skated after that I’d hum Watermelon Man to get inspired. It’s been my favorite part ever since. I always thought there was some significance that Koston fakie half cab crooks the LA High rail, but Guy does it nollie, and in a line after half cab heel flipping a trash barrel.

    October 27, 2013 @ 7:54 pm
  • Comment by mArk
  • Kyle,

    Baker was giving Alex boards for a long time and would’ve been stoked to have Alex on their team and/or in that video. Andrew, Greco, Erik, and the whole crew at the time had (still have) an appreciation for good skateboarding. Period. Some guys fit on the team better than others, but that doesn’t stop good skateboarding… as the saying goes, real knows real…

    I know it’s a shock to a lot of younger people, but the guys that you’re talking about not only do not care about all the shit you’re talking about, but in many cases they are completely oblivious to it. Sometimes it’s made up just to fuck with people (fake arguments with Alex, Koston, Leo, Atiba, etc) and sometimes it’s dudes fucking with other skaters for entertainment value only (Forrest, Billy Marks, Larry Perkins, Heath, Beagle, Greco, etc). But Kyle, you stating with such certainty that you know what the Baker team would’ve done is a joke. You’re wrong, dude. And now, think about the other things in your life that you _might_ be wrong about, and tomorrow might be a better, calmer, happier day.

    October 28, 2013 @ 4:57 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • For the record: When I interviewed Alex, he listed about ten parts. I selected the ones he talked about most extensively. One of the parts that he mentioned, but wasn’t as talkative about, was Greco’s Baker 2G part.

    October 28, 2013 @ 5:25 pm
  • Comment by Bosco
  • @ Snack, looks like loose trucks max got to the park slope polejam first

    October 28, 2013 @ 5:44 pm
  • Comment by coke boy
  • who da fuck cares? Either you have style, or you don’t.

    October 28, 2013 @ 10:15 pm
  • Comment by jeff
  • What are the five – or, I guess – four other parts? Would be cool to know.

    October 28, 2013 @ 11:19 pm
  • Comment by Snack
  • “Any Gino part,” “Neil Blender’s G&S footage,” “Jeremy Wray’s tricks at the end of the Reason montage,” Carroll in Modus, Danny Garcia in Mosaic, Greco in Baker 2G.

    October 29, 2013 @ 10:47 am
  • Comment by Gee Kalis
  • Wish this super skinny fit will fade tho SMH SMD

    October 31, 2013 @ 4:06 pm
  • Comment by Skate Scholar, PhD.
  • This has nothing to do with New York or Alex Olson but since he mentioned dudes you need to see in real life to appreciate, the craziest skating I’ve seen in real life was Brent Atchley at Burnside. Also, it’s starting to get cold out and golf gloves seem like an interesting solution I wouldn’t have thought of.

    November 1, 2013 @ 6:55 pm
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