During last month’s trip to Los Angeles, the few moments not spent arguing with cab drivers were used to debate topics relevant to any 60% beer / 40% skateboarding getaway. A discussion of forgotten L.A. skate videos came up (hence the LaLa Land inclusion in our Out of Office reply), causing us to remember Listen, Land Pirates, A New Horizon and L.A. County, the best of the bunch.
L.A. County was released during a transition from the classic white tee and chino schoolyard videos (see: World, Girl) to Phase One of the “everyone is good” era that began in issues of Logic, and peaked with In Bloom and Street Cinema. This shift would have been a lot smoother if The Storm never came out, and dudes didn’t spend three years thinking they had to nollie heelflip out of everything.
To the distant observer, the L.A. in this video had an actual *street* skating scene. USC was still around, they skated random shit on sidewalks (something that has been regaining popularity in recent history), and got enough time at the D.W.P. benches to make it look like a plaza spot — not a “let’s hope we get more than two minutes to skate here” Hail Mary mission. With blockbuster skate videos still around the corner, southern California-based projects had yet to resemble six-month highlight reels from the same five handrail spots.
The cast list is all over the place, but in the best way possible. Billy Valdes is the video’s token mid-nineties cult hero who went out of his way to film a solid part. Chris Franzen partakes in skateboarding’s second notable flip-in craze, while Quim Cardona counters the tech with some of the best-worst line choreography this side of Mike York. The promising Marco Romero (promising because he skates in sweats…in southern California), a would-be member of the P. Rod / Evan Hernanez / Mike Taylor / Justin Case little-kid-prodigy class, makes his debut in L.A. County, only to fade away quicker than, uh, Justin Case. Even though everyone is skating the same city, the different origins of the cast allow the video to have one foot in each decade.
Best hardflip evvvvveeeerrrrrr @ 0:45.
But without much surprise, the best parts are from those without American citizenship. Jesus Fernandez does what may genuinely be the best hardflip ever (“But T-Puds did it over a picnic table bro!”), J.B. Gillet stops by and skates better than everyone, Daniel Lebron reminds us that Spaniards will forever be superior fakie skaters, and Enrique Lorenzo has what is probably his most enjoyable part, to a Freddie Hubbard song nonetheless. (Rap Nerd Alert: ATCQ used a cover of the same song for a sample.) He also successfully challenges regulations that prevent Euros from being “phat,” so that’s commendable. (See here.)
Jazzy skate parts work for Spanish guys in Los Angeles, too.
In a Skate Europe episode, Javier Sarmiento explains how “unnatural” skateboarding in “America” (read: L.A.) is: “You have to call someone, get a car, go to the skatepark, or have the police kick you out. I don’t know, I just couldn’t skate.” Though everything filmed in southern California may very well entail a hour-and-a-half process before a person even begins trying the trick, L.A. County, with the help of some talented Euros, made skating L.A. look more “natural” than any other video in the past 10-12 years. It may have come out in 2000, but it was still one of the last videos of the nineties. Watch it over on Skate.ly.