New York, Ten Years Ago: Video Edition

January 27th, 2011 | 3:52 pm | Time Capsule | 3 Comments

Blackout was a video released by Satva Leung in 2001 or 2002 as a promotional piece for his of-the-time venture, Judah Skateboards. Much like Zoo York’s E.S.T. series, it is an assortment of montages split up by region, and provides a nostalgic look back at what New York skateboarding looked like ten years ago, before the internet changed everything, and kids got significantly better. (Here’s the photographic edition of “Ten Years Ago,” in case you missed it.)

A chronological list of observations:

Instrumental boops and bleeps have slowly become an outdated safety-zone for soundtracks in east coast skate videos. They had a stronghold on song choices in the beginning of the file sharing era, as they provided original music when record companies were looking for new candidates to sue for copyright infringement after their business model collapsed. Today’s standard seems to be bands from Brooklyn and Baltimore.

With the remodeling of the spot formerly known as Chinatown Ledges, and the demise of the big banks, we have lost the two dirtiest spots in New York (as rightfully pointed out in a Skateboarder article.) The Fat Kid spot might lay claim to that title today, but we’re open to alternatives for picking up strange diseases and rashes after falling.

Dag Park is an oft-forgotten entry on the “Spots I wish were still here” list. The best ledges / best ground combo in the city that you didn’t get kicked out of, circa 2000-2001.

Even though it hasn’t been nearly as long, the [spot across from] Javitz Center is missed, too.

People who move to New York with skateboarding largely in mind, but gradually lose interest (at least in actually skating New York, if not skateboarding altogether) in exchange for potentially lucrative art careers are not a new phenomenon by any means. The Muska has been on that program for quite some time.

Even though Dave Mayhew is disregarded by historians on the basis of his participation in The Storm, he has one of the best tricks ever done at the Banks. (Seriously, bikers are the only ones who ever launched off the big banks, and he backside flipped off of them…over a police barrier, i.e. he figured out how to treat the big banks like the small banks, pre-fence installation.) He was also ahead of the curve in doing impossibles out of tricks. Carroll had to step up and make it more legitimate, though.

Westchester spots look a lot like midwestern spots. Aside from Sue’s Rendezvous. That spot looks like it’s in Atlanta.

Remember when people who mostly skated Manhattan found out that there were a lot of recycled plastic benches out in Brooklyn?

The Flushing grate maintains to be one of the few New York skate spots where all of the best tricks have been done by locals. (For an internationally known spot, “local” means the tri-state area.) So other regions were never up for the title. James Reres will probably hold it for a while longer.

Anthony Correa would make a great Chrome Ball Incident post. The Zoo ad of the nollie half-cab crook revert at the Houston ledge has always been a favorite.

Blackout was the last video with enough foresight for future legends to give Geo “TOMA!” Moya the ender.

Continue reading for the montages of the other cities, just don’t expect anything great, as this video is being discussed for historical/archival reasons, not because it is exceptional in any way.

Wooh Da Kid (“All my white friends say Wooh Da Kid is rad! YES!”) actually made a significantly better Blackout recently. As there are probably ten non-disintergrated copies of this left on VHS throughout the planet, thanks goes to the original uploader.

Alien Workshop’s Photosynthesis Video: Ten Years Later

November 8th, 2010 | 11:15 am | Time Capsule | 28 Comments

(Or how hamburgers remain to be one of the greatest instruments of eating.)

One of the major footnotes to Habitat’s ten-year anniversary video is that it marks a decade since the release of Photosynthesis, the finest skateboard production of the 2000s. It was the video that taught New Jersey what to do with its shoulders when it does a backside nosegrind, gave one final hurrah to Long Island’s seemingly endless allegiance to the swooshy tan cargo pants, and provided a small dent to the ozone layer due to the surge of Philadelphia field trips that proceeded it.

If that is not enough to back up a longstanding cultural impact, the homie from Boil the Ocean summarized the video’s main contributions to the act of skateboarding fairly well: “Van Engelen’s grease-fire ledge attack, Pappalardo’s clockwork precision, Fred Gall with one pants leg up, Danny Garcia demonstrating how to pop out of a backside tailslide, Wenning’s backside nosegrinds and switch heelflips, Josh Kalis doing ‘the’ 360 flip and the walk down into Jason Dill’s bent world, back when he was doing all those 180s the hard way into ledge tricks and settling into New York.”

But skateboarding alone does not make classic skateboard videos, as ironic as that may sound. Before high-speed internet, it took a few years for tricks to get outdated — not to mention the turnaround on editing, production, and shipment of physical VHS tapes that preceded the release of the said tricks. Simply running down a list of maneuvers in a post-millenial video is not enough to surmise it being worthy of the “classic” label, e.g. when was the last time you watched Menik Mati? Once a video reaches ten years of age, the atmosphere and feel of an era gone by is what makes or breaks the chances of you unearthing the tape from its dust jacket. If you find yourself justifying any portion of an older video as “good for the time,” it’s not a classic. The whole thing requires a timeless quality.

A Look Back at EST Video Magazine

October 22nd, 2010 | 1:18 pm | Time Capsule | 22 Comments

Zoo York's E.S.T. Video Magazine - Issues 1 thru 4"

As hard as it is to believe, nine or ten years ago, an endless stream of New York skate footage available for public consumption did not exist. There was Metrospective, which for all its merits, was updated irregularly. But you’d still sit there on your 56k modem and wait for a minute-long clip to slowly load, because you weren’t likely to catch much footage of any local spots in the latest 411 or Digital video. There were also the four Zoo videos (we’re talking up to around 2001, 2002 here), the INFMS video, Static, 5Boro’s 511, that Blackout video with the New York montage, but definitely nothing like the overload that comes with the autofill results when you type “nyc skateb…” on YouTube’s search bar.

But seeing “pros” (translation: dudes in skate videos) skate your local spots (outside of the Banks and Newport) matters a lot when you’re a kid. And was probably a lot more of an event back then than it is now. Everyone in my little circa-2000 skate crew was psyched when Pappalardo did a nollie heelflip into a sheet of plywood set down the six at Hoboken Ledges in his Photosynthesis part. Not because it was an amazing trick, after all, it was a 16mm artsy cut-in, but a small piece of history of the spot to hold onto, and especially relevant if your local spots weren’t any of the trademarks of the era (again, the Banks and Newport.)

That’s probably the reason why issues of EST were something to look forward to every year when a lot of us were growing up. For the time, it was a great idea. A video magazine in the vein of 411, Logic, or Digital, but with montages segregated by regions on the east coast, and supplementary feature materials. Basically, an eastern vehicle to give career boosts to up-and-comers in the same way a “Wheels of Fortune” segment would for some under-the-radar schoolyard kid out in the Valley. (Not that east coasters never received 411 segments, but they were more of an exception to the rule than the overall norm.)