Perhaps the only point in Alex Olson’s recent interview that did not polarize skateboarding’s sea of opinion, was his belief that nobody cares how hard tricks are anymore. We’ve all said “he’s good, but who cares” or written someone off as “a robot” before, so what do professional skateboarders have left to aspire to?
The line has long been the backbone of street skating. Skateboarder even published a print #listicle in the mid-2000s showcasing the best lines of all time. Appropriately enough, the latest entry belonged to P.J. Ladd, because his debut part was when progression really took off, and the “Everyone is Good” movement began to accelerate our numbness to incredible skateboarding.
“But what about style?” Sure, Ray Barbee looked amazing when only doing slappies and no complys, in a way that legions of art students have failed to replicate. Even Carroll’s library line — quite possibly the best thing ever done on a skateboard — wouldn’t be the same if it was performed by some midwesterner visiting San Francisco. Style plays a role, but remember when people would say things like “He’s so smooth?” None of that matters when everyone in a major skate video is “smooth.” Stylistic hallmarks have become less palpable because everyone skates and everyone is good. Everything was the same #drakevoice :(
A wise man once said “I don’t care how ‘good’ a video part is, all I care about is how cool it makes the skater look.” This list features the most timeless lines that were made so by the skater’s ability to make himself look cool, and not just “good.” They will stand out a decade down the line, even when each trick in a Micky Papa part is a go-to for fifty Stoner Park locals.
In a word, these lines are chill.
Rick Howard — Virtual Reality: “The Fakie Inward Heel Kiss” (1993)
#TeamHandsome wasn’t exactly a “thing” in 1993. If it was, you could bet that Rickk’s fist of solidarity followed by a kiss (one of two kisses in the part) at the end of a flatground barrage would be making the .GIF rounds on Tumblr.
Mike Carroll — Goldfish: “The EMB Crew Line” (1993)
Nowadays, it’s perfectly normal for a bunch of “good” skateboarders to spend a session in silence, or for half the kids at the skatepark to have headphones in. EMB’s elaborate celebration during Carroll’s final line in Goldfish looks foreign by comparison. He gives pounds mid-line and picks up a crew towards the end of his five tricks, reminding us that it’s all about friends and fun. (Isn’t the Pretty Sweet intro just a vastly more orchestrated version of this line?)
Lennie Kirk — 411 #10: “The Nollie Back 180 into a Car” (1995)
Though Ricky Oyola may lay claim to skateboarding’s most memorable traffic interactions (the ollie into Kennedy Boulevard at Love and the car cut-off backside flip at the start of his Sub Zero part), Lennie might have him beat by literally nollie backside 180ing into a car. Engaging with moving traffic is not very “chill” (neither is Lennie, if the stories are true), but as the *first* Alien Workshop rider who believed he could go through walls, you have to admire his confidence in knowing the car would not be of detriment.
Kareem Campbell —
Trilogy: “The Pager Check” (1995)
We never found out what was in the suitcase in Pulp Fiction, and we’ll never know who paged Kareem Campbell in
Trilogy 20 Shot Sequence. All we know is that it was important enough for him to land the final two tricks in the line on that try. Kareem even went the distance of preserving this oft-discussed mystery by declining Patrick O’Dell the chance to interview him for the Menace Epicly Later’d episodes.
Billy Valdez — 20 Shot Sequence: “The Cafe Line” (1995) / Jeff Pang — Mixtape: “The Switch Hardflip Line” (1997)
As attention spans grow shorter, the seconds used in a video part become more precious. However, in the nineties, it was still reasonable to go out of one’s way for the sake of a mere flatground trick, and thus increase video part runtime. See Billy Valdez skating across a street and through an outdoor cafe to do a 360 flip, or Jeff Pang riding off into the street, switching direction, pushing a few times, and ollieing up a curb for a switch hardflip on flat.
View Billy Valdez @ 2:13 / View Jeff Pang @ 1:30
Maurice Key — Trilogy: “The Near-Death Experience” (1996)
To backtrack to Lennie Kirk, near-death experiences belong far from the word “chill.” Except Key’s demeanor after the event in question is perhaps the most nonchalant walk-off in near-death experience history, almost as if he had been there before, and wasn’t the slightest bit bothered.
Sean Sheffey — Mouse: “The Post-Switch 360 Flip Spaz-Out” (1996)
Sheffy’s wrath must have been something to see. His one-foot rollaway after a switch 360 flip off a curb cut could have easily ended in the board becoming two pieces. Instead, he uncharacteristically regained his composure, and popped a lofty switch flip soon after.
Hamilton Harris — Eastern Exposure 3: “The Speed Skating Push” (1996)
Skateboarding on car hoods has turned into a #urbanpoints grail of New York web clips — though they have a tough time living up to how relaxed Hamilton Harris looked after riding across one, with his arms tucked behind his back, pushing to kickflip over an Astor Place street grate.
SAD — 411 “Best of #5”: “The Towel” (1997)
We’ve talked about SAD being able to turn the mundane into magic before. Just how Chauncey Billups is understood to be the sweatiest NBA player, SAD must have been among the most heavily perspiring 90s skaters. His trademark was not a moment, but an entire career spent skating with a towel in hand or in pocket, to a point where any other sweaty individuals — from Frenchmen to Southerners — are paying homage to him over a decade down the line. (Note: The “Best Of” part has more towel footage than the actual “Rookies” segment in 411 #20.)
Quim Cardona — Peep This: “The Garbage Bag Line” (1998)
Skateboarding has a convoluted relationship with “trying hard.” Obviously the best skateboarders work hard to be the best, but we’re talking about those who try hard at not looking like they try hard, be it through minimalist spots or strict use of the 5-7 most basic tricks. In less delicate hands, Quim’s nose wallie fakie, half cab over a garbage bag, two consecutive frontside 5050s on essentially the same ledge, and backside flip on flat would come off as a try-hard #summertriptoNY fail. At his helm, it looks incredible.
Stevie Williams — 411 #36 Chocolate Commercial: “The Nut Grab” (1999)
Stevie was entering the “I’m gonna teach you motherfuckers how to skate flat”-stage of his career when this commercial came out. The crotch grab was the punctuation mark on three of the finest tricks ever done on flatground.
Mike York — The Chocolate Tour: “The Nollie Flip Crook, Crook” (1999)
This line had no concerns for unwritten codes, choreography or cohesion. It subverted all the rules of constructing a line in the most IDGAF possible, and for that, we love Mike York.
Javier Sarmiento — The Sk8Mafia Video: “The MACBA Crowd Line” (2011)
There is absolutely no reason for Javier Sarmiento to have insisted on skating MACBA that day; Para-lel is a ten-minute skate from there, and all the other best spots in Europe are a train ride away. But insist he did, while remaining at ease with hundreds of people standing on the spot’s main obstacle as he rattled off a five-trick line, and almost Shawn Powers’d a baby carriage in the process.
Chewy Cannon — Tres Trill: “The Sack Purchase” (2011)
Like Kareem Campbell after checking his pager, Chewy knew that he had bigger things on his mind than skateboarding. Unlike Kareem Campbell’s forever unknown message, we can all give an educated guess as to what the exchange between Chewy and the backpack-carrying individual was.
Pete Eldridge — Adidas in NYC Montage: “The 6th Avenue Cigarette Line” (2012)
The true power of looking cool on skateboard was made known in a clip featuring arguably the two best skaters right now (Busenitz and Puig) at the height of their powers and in #summertriptoNY mode.
Even then, we didn’t remember Busenitz’s monstrous backside 5050 or any tricks into the Courthouse Drop. It was Pete Eldridge that appeared the most natural, in a line that likely began with the filmer asking “Hey Pete, want to film something after you’re done with that cig?” and him responding “No, let’s just do it now.” He was far from the first to skate with a cigarette, but he is the closest skateboard-equivalent of some 1940s movie star smoking in black and white film, and looking undeniably awesome while doing it.
Thanks to Sweet Waste, Jack Sabback, Chops from Chrome Ball and Jason from Frozen In Carbonite for their encyclopedic knowledge of skate minutiae and assistance in compiling this list.
Previously: The 10 Greatest Varial Flips in Skate Video History, The 30 Phattest Outfits in Skate Video History: 1992-2012, The 10 Best Noseslides in Skateboard History
can’t believe you guys just cool-guy’d a whole decade
No Guy in Mouse? Some pretty chill lines, although obvious. 1:25 mark. Or Kenny Anderson’s opening line in Pretty Sweet. Not the hardest, but very chill, especially if you add the kick flip nose manny immediately following. I know Kenny doesnt get too much shine on QS, but just watched his part and he has a smooth, mellow, chill style.
i think Mosley has a stack of CHILL lines in the archives of QS
Kenny Anderson’s career is a chill line.
You forgot Nate Jones’ line at DWP in Real To Reel
The chillest? Chillest??
The most chill is more like it
Dont have to be a grammatical retard to be cool
Always loved Valdez “Cafe Line”
v, v chill
For some 80s love, Neil Blender’s Street Style at Tempe run comes to mind.
great list. oyola’s metrospective line is maybe the only addition i’d make
Mark Gonzales in 60/40 commercial.
Been waiting for something like this since the best varial flips list. Thank you QS
I would say Quim’s line in tim oconnor part deserves a mention too.. switch flip barricade, push regular, backside 180 on flat, push switch, switch backside fifty, that halfcab flip, that shirt
how about Oyola going 100 mph through the streets doing random tricks making it look like nothing.
Wait, what happened to a whole decade! I thought ya’ll were pro photosynthesis? There are a plethora of chill lines just in that video alone! I mean Dill’s line at Vietnam Memorial was pretty chill…. And totally agree that Kenny Anderson’s career is one chill line.
A strong and deep personal favorite movement of linearity
someone named WAYNE in this lowcard webclip
Penny’s no push line??
LIL WAYNE AT BIEBELS PARK. NUFF SAID.
God these people have no idea what ‘chill’ means. Gonz is NOT chill. He’s the Gonz, but he ain’t ‘chill.’
The time period specifications dont allow for some of chill Gonz. Pretty chill skating ralphs, nollie 50 50 on red curb, flowing down the road to some chill jazz. Straight improvisation. But it was 92, so doesnt count.
Ditto Nate Jones. pretty much any part in Real to Reel where he strings together more than one trick could count. In addition to DWP, I’d argue the “line” where he ollies up and down a series of curbs before kickflipping a barrier with a bemused businessman watching is the definition of chill and making the skater look cool.
Also, Wayne at biebel’s park.
What are those DC’s that Stevie are skating in???
Quim’s Garbage Bag line is from Peep This! Come on!
Ba – half cab up curb fire hydrant Ollie front side flip then a cab flip
Ba – nose grind/ wallie/ no comply revert/ back three.
thank you .
Not sure how Harold’s “I never landed that trick in my life” line didn’t end up here.
Yikes! rough list to narrow down. Diggin the stevie commercial, i almost forgot about why i forgive him for Asphaltshitclub. thanks for that!
anything tom penny did in his younger polo-shirt/middle-part/pool-skating days >
(plus he was probably on mad hallucinogens for 90% of said early footage, extra chill vibe points)
surprised there wasnt a theotis beasley gear check line in here
if you were to include the 2000s these wouldve been good:
1) louie barletta powersliding through leaves
2) jerry hsu ollieing that rail in bag of suck with people passing by just as he ollies it
3) erik ellingtons ender ender in baker 3
4) andrew reynolds having a celebratory cig after knocking out a 5 block
also brandon biebel tying his shoes in the middle of a line for something fully flared related
uh, i think you’re exposing the fact that your own personal taste was shaped/borrowed by historical, print-based listicles, because not only was Kareem’s pager line not in Trilogy, it wasn’t even the line that you took the time to take multiple screen captures of. Also, much in the same way that Carroll’s line couldn’t have been done by “some midwesterner visiting San Francisco, Kareem’s line could not have been done by even himself at some suburban high school in San Diego. His was done crossing busy-ass Vermont in LA, and when he finished his line he was probably back within the walls the X-Large store within the hour.
PJ 0:47 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlvwfVCNCB0
theres some chill lines at the berrics
You’re right. Surprised that mishap occurred especially considering I rewatched the 20 Shot part when doing that Jahmal post last week. Correction will be noted when back in the office. Apologies for any confusion. Thanks ;)
you’re both wrong.
The EMB line definitely the chillest ever, Caroll is GOD.
gino’s line at the seaport with the half cab noseslide and switch noseslide 270 out.
line where keenan does a switch flip back tail and then pulls up his pants a bit
tom penny doing that fakie flip and ending with the back 180 down the stairs
great post. killing it.
supreme/fairfax/2013 = x-large/vermont/1993, in every damn way
There is a moment in the Trilogy line where it really does look like Kareem takes his pager out of his waist. I thought it was 20 too, but it’s an easy mistake to make.
Check out kareems new interview on Muckmouth.com for the answer to the pager question
yeah BA’s welcome to hell hydrant line definitely belongs on this list. Tried the line just because The Chief suggests it and ends it by nonchalantly throwing out the craziest flatground trick in the whole video.
Ocean Howell’s line in the iPath promo where he does the backside flip over the trashcan, Bobby Worrest’s line from whatever TWS video where he does two switch 360 flips, and Pat Burke’s line with his rocket ass kicklip from the Slave video should all be on this list.
rowley in sorry front5050 that hubba, front blunt the small curb sized part, nollie b-side flip on flat used to get me pretty hyped in 8th grade
Trilogy mid-line pager check confirmed:
Now the line in the school – where legend has it that you check your pager mid run. Please tell me that is true, that is so fucking cool. Haha. Who was it by the way? An important page?
My girlfriend was pregnant at the time with Kareem Jr. I had to make sure that I check it at all times, you never know if she could be going into labour. But it was just a homie.
I think people are kinda over hearing about penny but i’ll say it again t penny took the cake at that time. At least for a moment he eclipsed skateboarding.
This one is interesting! Maurice Key’s near-death experience is insane! I think I need to go through all of these and watch more from the old ones. Thank you for compiling and sharing!
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