Incentive Zoning


The Ocean Howell interview linked in Monday’s post reminded me of this bit from 2009’s Deathbowl to Downtown documentary — which apparently is $65 for a DVD copy on Amazon now and unavailable to stream anywhere?

Update: Stream it on Vimeo for two bucks.

Both the Howell interview and this bit discuss how cities will give developers a zoning pass / tax breaks on additional floors if they furnish the ground level of their property with a public plaza. The irony is that the plazas are often restricted to people who want to sit and eat lunch, i.e. a rather limited idea of what the “public” is. Nearly every piece of our European coverage has whined about how this is inconsistent with any Euro city we’ve visited, so I’ll spare you the recurring “America sucks for skateboarding” speech. There’s a lot of good early nineties Financial District and midtown footage in this segment, and by the looks of it, they were still busts then ;)

People gave Deathbowl a bit of a hard time when it came out — “the narration was heavy handed,” “the 90s were too focused on Zoo York,” etc. — but skateboarders will dig anywhere to complain. When I got the DVD in 2010, I was a month into nursing probably the closest you could sprain an ankle without needing medical attention. I finished watching it at maybe 2 A.M (on a school night!), yet still got the urge to grab a cruiser, and skate over the 59th Street Bridge to go up and down little hills on the westside til the sun started to come up. Can’t say a proper skate video has relayed that unshakeable “I really need to go skate”-feeling the same way since.

It was fun rewatching it to find this clip, you should give it a whirl.

Need something to do tonight?

Deathbowl to Downtown Screening at the Ace Hotel

Most people reserve Sunday evenings for staring at TV screens (unless, you know, you actually skateboard), but the Sunday primetime grid is usually empty in the summer and basketball season is over. So if you’re looking for something to do tonight, and haven’t seen Deathbowl to Downtown yet, they’re screening it over at the Ace Hotel on 29th Street and Broadway. (N train to 28th Street and walk up one block, or B, D, F, M, N, R, Q, W to Herald Square and walk down five blocks.) Happy hour from 8 to 9 P.M. The documentary itself starts at 9 and runs for about 80-90 minutes.

We can nitpick about omissions and stuff being glossed over all we want, but when it comes down to it, it’s amazing that something like this was actually thought of, and executed so well. Hell, even twelve-hour Ken Burns documentaries leave things out, and Deathbowl does a great job with what details it chose to dwell upon in its eighty-minute runtime. If you have any interest in skateboarding history, or even the cultural history of New York, and you haven’t seen it, you probably should.

Trailer here. Ryan Hickey Deathbowl outtakes at the bottom of this post.

“I had no idea the Bronx was under a tornado watch last night. Neither did this guy.”

Most people who make it onto field level on a regular basis are typically in the upper income bracket. And when the rain starts pouring (figuratively and literally), Lakers fan syndrome quickly sets in and they scurry off to their Towncars / BMWs and rush out of the Bronx. But occasionally, there is a drunken degenerate who works for prominent expensive tee shirt distributors, and who spends his free time filming skate clips for websites named after Little Debbie snack cakes, that breaks through the boundaries and makes it into the distant high-brow land of field level seats, thugs it out through nine innings of being soaked and leaves with a Blackberry that’s no longer under warranty due to rain damage.

Transworld ran a quick day-in-the-life-esque video of Eli Reed skating around the Lower East Side and sitting around the much beloved, Troll Triangle AKA La Esquina Park that has quickly grown into the number one sightseeing location in Lower Manhattan. Day-in-the-life clips need more lines like the one at the Popeye’s Ledge. They’d all be a lot more entertaining to watch that way.

Slappy Cove > The Courthouse Drop. If you like art, and are a part of the Slappy Cove coalition, Rob made a clip for you.

Hollywood trying to pretend like he’s not Hollywood. Anyone who spends the winter in or around Hollywood, is Hollywood. No one should be mad at it though, because everyone in New York wishes they could spend the winter eating good Mexican food in seventy degree weather.

The IBM Ledge is currently blocked off with scaffolding. New York likes being really indecisive with scaffolding, so you’ll either be able to skate it by mid-Fall, or you can start school in the Fall, get a PhD, and still not be able to skate it when you graduate.

If you’re still under eighteen, and into jumping over stuff, it may behoove you to know that the NYU gap got blocked off with a fence. There’s a gate there, and the gate isn’t locked, so you can still skate it.

Deathbowl to Downtown is playing up at Maysles Cinema on 127th and Lenox in Harlem on Wednesday, July 28th. It has been out on DVD for a minute, but runs for around $25-30, so seeing it once on a big screen up there might be worth a trip. It really should’ve been discussed or at least reviewed around here when it dropped, especially for how many times there have been complaints about the constantly post-poned release dates, but whatever. See it yourself and figure it out. The event page is over here. They’re doing some sort of demo with Shut, Zoo, and 5Boro at Lenox followed by a Harold Hunter tribute at the theater the following day as well.

For something that’s the finest news institution in the county, if not the world, The New York Times is so stupid sometimes.

It’s been a slow week, as you probably noticed by the two almost concurrent random links posts, but I’ve gotten caught up on importing footage, so hopefully there should be some actual videos on here soon.

Quote of the Week

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Trapping with the snow


I recently regressed about fifteen years into the past technologically, as I no longer own a computer, or at least a working one. Which you know, means that it is a bit hard to maintain a website. Maybe they’ll orchestrate a fundraiser on password night at the Bowery one day, but until then, we’ll see how this goes.

Speaking of technology, skateboarding seems to be headed fast into two different directions. While everyone is taking out student loans to they could buy the latest HD device for their “film” and/or profound excavation of the beauty and brilliance that coincides with a bunch of skateboarders sitting in a cargo-van littered with McDonald’s wrappers and Coors Light cans, the opposite end of the spectrum is moving in a wholly different direction — the low resolution Flip Cam / Cell Phone Cam / iPhone 3GS. Frankly, this is the more honorable option, but that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with this website’s aesthetic biases. Long-gone are the days when the VX1 was the sole standard, and you were a failure for owning a TRV or Canon according to a bunch of message board geeks. The real format war has come.

Anyway, Adam Abada made a flip cam video, as did everyone’s favorite Nolita degenerate, Matthew Mooney. And here’s one of Pryce and Francesco in Malmo. Where they skate in zero degree weather.

Bryan started posting out takes footage from the mid 2000s over on Official. Luis Tolentino and Jasonwear sections are the first to be up, and they should bring you back to a time when life was much simpler.

Due to a Ryan Hickey thread on the Slap Message board, someone posted a link to this unreleased interview footage of Ryan Hickey that wasn’t included in the DVD release of Deathbowl to Downtown.

Camo pants!

Ty is famous.

The takeover! I can do without the screaming dread though. It only works in Smif-N-Wessun songs.

Quote of the Week:I saw her at Lit years later, and she was like, ‘What are you doing here?’ What am I doing here? I’ve gotten into like thirty fights here. What are you doing here?– Marquez.

The city has reached an all-time low…


…especially when you’re getting kicked out of the Banks. For skating. Past 9 P.M.

Ted Barrow “On the Periphery” Feature in Slap Magazine

Ted also wrote up the first comprehensive review of Deathbowl to Downtown on his blog. I have a pretty good feeling the documentary will never be released on DVD, particularly when it has been ten months since it had initially premiered.

48 Blocks interview with Bill Strobeck, the man largely behind the second greatest skateboarding video of all-time.

Old school bits: Robbie Gangemi 360 flip on Essex Street, Ivan Perez at Astor Place & Harry Jumonji.