Late Pass: All This Mayhem

October 1st, 2014 | 1:26 pm | Reviews | No Comments

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“Why the hell would I want to watch a documentary about two Australian vert skaters?”

That thought likely popped into many people’s heads when told they should watch All This Mayhem, the Tas and Ben Pappas documentary that was released last month.

“No dude, it’s really crazy, watch it.”

Considering there is already a documentary about Gator and the surfboard bag, how much more “crazy” could a skate documentary get, especially to elevate it beyond what we expect in an Epicly Later’d or a similar straight-to-web series of shorts?

In assessing the horrible P.R. behind Australians visiting New York (see point B), a frequent gripe — mostly from those who work in hospitality or nightlife industries — is their love of cocaine. Cocaine is believed to be a major source of awful Australian behavior on American soil because of its availability, not to mention low price when converted against our weak dollar. (Couple a drug that makes people annoying by-design, with the rambunctiousness of partying with play-money, and you have an eight-million person city at odds with a 23-million person continent.) Perhaps these were only problems to DJs annoyed at being covered in spit particles during the night’s third “Shake It Off” request, spoken in an accent rendered undecipherable by a half-dozen drinks, but after watching this “crazy” documentary, maybe Australians really do love cocaine that much ;)

If it’s possible to go into All This Mayhem fresh, without any knowledge of the story aside from a vague recollection of Ben and Tas’ names from the peak X-Games era, you’ll get the most out of the film’s “holy shit” factor. Coming from a generation that invented “the vert button,” this should not be difficult.

Stray Thoughts: Static IV

August 22nd, 2014 | 5:20 am | Reviews | 17 Comments

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There’s no need for a “review” of Static IV. The video is great. The premiere was one of the funnest skate video experiences ever (New York had the first viewing, so everyone was unaware of the dual video format, Jake part, and plenty of other surprises), and the physical copy feels more like a fancy Criterion DVD than a skate video. All the snarks about the video’s endless delays from these past 7-50 years were eradicated with the final product.

Everyone has had time to properly digest the video, so here are ten loose observations in a format lifted from Chris Nieratko’s “17 Things You Didn’t Know” Vice piece. The timeframe for spoilers has expired by this point, and some of this might have already been discussed on the T.F. bench. Fair warning if you’re under a rock.

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Video Review: All City Showdown NYC 2013 DVD

January 31st, 2014 | 2:46 pm | Reviews | 4 Comments

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There’s that old line about “eight million stories in the naked city.” Skateboarding’s variant is something like 27 minutes of footage in a day, at least according to this DVD. For the few who may not know, the All City Showdown is a contest in which three skaters and one filmer are allotted eight hours to get as much footage as possible within city limits. (Staten Island was conveniently ignored.) The best team wins two grand that one could assume will be spent on art supplies or alcohol.

The final result is a footage dump by design, but it’s tough to not watch it with “Wow, this all happened in one day?”-sentiments throughout. Compare this to say, ten years ago, when an east coast footage dump like E.S.T. took over twelve months to come out. All City Showdown features almost every young not-pro you have seen in a New York web clip or homie video before. The real pleasure of a video featuring non-curated, sometimes B-level footage from people you could easily YouTube a cohesive video part from is that it encompasses everybody at once. Practically every recognizable crew is represented. (Except Quartersnacks, obvs. We declined participation because we can only skate flat, and also don’t start skating until 5 P.M.)

Book Review: The Accidental Playground

November 27th, 2013 | 7:00 am | Reviews | 12 Comments

the accidental playground

As D.I.Y. spots have become more common over the past decade, the Brooklyn Volcano remains an anomaly. It was the first New York spot of its kind, and existed in a place that could have hypothetically grown into something the size of a skatepark. Given the route real estate has taken throughout the Bloomberg years, it will likely be the last of its sort. New York D.I.Y. spots are now one-offs in spaces that could not accommodate a full, skater-made skatepark.

Daniel Campo’s The Accidental Playground is a case study of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT), a onetime freight loading yard. The BEDT was home to the Volcano, a photogenic D.I.Y. spot overlooking the Manhattan skyline, seen in any skate magazine from the early 2000s. Campo is a former New York city planner and an architecture professor at Morgan State University. He is an advocate of “unplanned” public space, and writes The Accidental Playground to discuss the merits of when cities do not get involved with the recreational lives of their citizens, allowing them to “make their own environment.” These sort of spaces present a “get your hands dirty” alternative to the “manicured” nature of a Central or Prospect Park.

Compared to the restrictions faced in official parks, the BEDT was practically lawless within reason. Recreational use of the space was pioneered by dog walkers fed up with leash laws, but eventually gave way to a range of characters with interests that were not accommodated by other nearby parks. This included artists, a punk marching band, undocumented day laborers who could not procure on-the-books housing, and neighborhood residents who wanted to drink a beer outside without worry of an open container ticket. Campo considers skateboarding to have been the most sophisticated use of the space, though each group is afforded its own chapter in the book.

SHARKS IN THE WATER, DROP A MOLLY IN THE TANK: Late Pass on Stee, the New(ish) Sk8Mafia Video

September 25th, 2013 | 7:03 am | Reviews | 12 Comments

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At a moment when everyone is preoccupied with the Emerica video, we are going to discuss some skateboarding that is two or three universes away, not eight. Stee, the collaborative video between Sk8Mafia and Sweet Skateboards, has been out since June, but recently went from “I’ll see it when I see it” to “must-see,” thanks to a hyperbolic tweet from Frozen in Carbonite (more on that later.)

Sk8Mafia is great. Though they are grown-ups who spell “skate” with an eight, rarely travel outside SoCal, and have art direction that reaches the bare minimum required for a brand to look more like a skate company than a drug front, they utilize a winning formula in which everyone onboard actually skates together. This translates to a fun experience when watching anything they put out.

“If you like Sk8Mafia so much, why did it take so long to watch Stee?” To put it bluntly: What the hell is Sweet Skateboards? (Answer: Sweet Skateboards is a Swedish company that has existed for over ten years, with a bunch of tall, mostly technical white guys whose names you cannot pronounce on its team.) It’s like the skate video equivalent of when Cam’ron started putting out those mixtapes with Vado — there’s always some hesitation when an old favorite mixes with an unknown. This sort of European crossbranding has worked in small doses, e.g. J.B. in the late-period World videos, the likes of Penny being introduced through 411, etc., but an entire project seems like a bit much.