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.
Well, physical skate videos are not dead. Apple may have made it tougher to author them, but since when has antiquated technology stopped skaters? These are the people who pour thousands of dollars each year into repairing and maintaining a camera released in 1996. Skate videos are good for at least another 20 years.
If you need a change of pace from the two blockbuster videos that have dominated the winter, here are some of the more notable independent projects to come out in the past two months. With shops like Labor making an effort to carry more local videos, and the seemingly successful “put a few parts on YouTube but still try to sell the full video for $10″-business model, smaller videos seem to be doing alright these days.
After ten years, the presumed end of civilized skateboard society in Philadelphia has been reversed. The only difference between Love today and Love 10 years ago, is that there’s no three-stair ledge. Kids are now good enough to pretend that the planters in front of the ledges don’t exist; the higher ones are just another thing to prop a tile up to. A-list skaters are moving to Philly again (for “college”) and the Photosynthesis comparisons are apparent.
Girl and Chocolate premiered Pretty Sweet in New York this past Sunday. Like most of their videos, it will initiate several trends (540 tricks on street, for one), and come to encapsulate this particular moment in skateboarding more than any video of the past year or two. Even Kanye West showed up to watch it, likely for Spike Jonze related reasons more than rappers-suddenly-like-skateboarding ones. “The blackest white guy,” Michael Rapaport, was also in attendance.
Below are a some thoughts on the video. If you have not seen it and want to go in fresh, don’t read anything below this line. Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. Ben “Burger Boy” Sanchez had the best part. Whoops.
Some of these videos came out in the summer, so this post should have went up in September. Oh well, better late than never. The DVD may be closer to the end than the beginning, but dudes are still out there grinding on them. Don’t be a YouTube bandit. Support local skate scenes and buy a physical video.
Stop Fakin’ Volume 2
In 2004, the trailer for Static II boasted a section of “Philly Survivors,” a reference to a city recently depleted of the world’s most famous skate spot. (The section would be re-named “The Philly Four” in the actual video.) Why Josh Stewart, or anyone with a grip of footage from Philly circa 2004 for that matter, didn’t edit a montage to Cher’s 1998 mega hit “Do You Believe in Life After Love” is beyond anyone’s wildest guess, but that is a topic for another day. If those Static II guys were “survivors,” Stop Fakin’ 2 is a peek into a thriving post-apocalyptic world. Using D.C. as a home base, a roster of mostly unknown dudes (and Jersey Dave) comb every inch of territory between New Jersey and Virginia, filling in the spaces with Pulaski Park and footage of Love’s pink remnants. None of its skaters file under notable northeastern stereotypes (thankfully not a whole lot of highwaters, cellar doors or 200 mile trips to the Courthouse Drop), and the music supervision is gumbo of everything, making it feel like an east coast version of last year’s exceptional Sk8Mafia video. Current college applicants who won’t get accepted to their top choice school in New York can take solace in Stop Fakin’ 2, as it is good enough to make them less bummed on having to move to D.C. or Philly, in turn saving their lives from being ruined by “the party.”
Review by Galen Dekemper. Galen recently went digital with Dollar Stories, his series of ‘zine-style short stories that are available at various stores throughout the city and out of his backpack. “Two Dollar Dances” is probably the most notorious of the bunch. Buy a digital dollar story today.
Most skateboard media displays mastery as representative of much larger voyages. Four visits to a spot results in one photograph. Four years of filming and one may have a video part. The mystique of the trick conquers all, again and again. Format Perspective is Philip Evans’s documentary of six European photographers. Format Perspective is less of a highlight reel and more of a touring anatomy of scenes and sessions. Carhartt-WIP produced the multimedia object, an hour long DVD bound with a 132 page photo volume.
The title Format Perspective refers to how every media device frames then exerts authority over the viewer’s gaze and vantage point. We must see through the capturer’s eye. Each photographer has a ten-minute segment filled with explanations, recommendations and recollections, then music over photo and video montage of shredding. Super-8 film means grainier footage and photographs that appear in sharp contrast with zooms and pans that further direct our gaze. We see how the photographers find their angles and the points at which a kickflip or nosegrind 180 is most visible as such.