Celebrating the Modern Skate Video's 20th Anniversary Pt. 2

Continuing from Part 1..

World Industries / Blind / 101 - Trilogy
Clyde Singleton, Daewon Song, Enrique Lorenzo, Gideon Choi, Gino Iannucci
Jason Dill, Josh Kasper, Kareem Campbell, Lavar McBride, Marcus McBride, Maurice Key, Ronnie Creager, Sam Devlin, Shiloh Greathouse, Eric Pupecki, Fabian Alomar, Joey Suriel, Billy Valdez, Javier Nunez

Starting with the 101 section, it’s worth pointing out something that hasn’t been discussed about Gino’s footage here: this is barely a song, yet it completely works. It’s erratic, often grating, and slightly unnerving, yet it contrasts the part perfectly, giving way to a steady beat, before abruptly winding down, giving your brain a few seconds to process things, before segueing into the superbly acted Menace skit, which actual actor Fabian Alomar is noticeably absent.

As a bookend to the advancement of LA-Tech to Mouse, Trilogy fills out exactly what the elite side of California city skateboarding was in 1996. Sure, Transdiego was great and all, but this is what really translated to the globe at large, not only because there was a style of skater that would appeal to almost any youth, but in the sheer star quality all involved had. Menace was almost a bizarro Zoo York, and that’s a good thing, right?

Let’s not forget that even though they commingled, the World and Girl camp were pitted as enemies, mimicking the Lakers and Kings rivalry, or something. Most importantly, Trilogy and Mouse pretty much set the pace for Primitive and whatever ledge trickery is happening each Sunday at J-Kwon. Full disclosure though, I’ve never been able to watch all of Lever Bar’s part, that shit is way too long.

Now, an open plea to Socrates Leal to digitize all the unseen footage he’s sitting on. Please Soc?

F.T.C. Penal Code 100A
Bobby Puleo, Keith Hufnagel, Max Schaaf, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Scott Johnston, Mike York, Joey Alvarez, Markus Brown, Peter Bici, Mike “Hitman” Hernandez, Fabian Alomar, Chico Brenes, Karl Watson, Lee Smith, Shamil Randle, Jesse Macmillan, Spencer Fujimoto, Kenny Kirk, Jeff Pang, Jovantae Turner, Nick Tershay, Drake Jones, Ben Sanchez, Richard Mulder, Chris Keefe, Jones Keefe, Lever Bar McBride, Marcus McBride, Guy Mariano, Eric Pupecki, Jeron Wilson, Keenan Milton (RIP), Eric Koston, Rudy Johnson, Weston Correa, Matt Willigan, Greg Hunt, Quim Cardona, Lamont Macintosh, Pepe Martinez (RIP), Ben Liversedge, Robbie Gangemi, Rob Carylon, Phil Shao (RIP)

Credit Aaron Meza for having the balls to edit this one sans-skate sounds, allowing his expert soundtrack choices to shine through, making Penal Code 100A feel very warm and analog. Infact, even for the time, there was something cozy and retro feeling about the video, even though the actual skating was supremely advanced and current. I liken it to meeting someone for the first time and immediately hitting it off, as if you went to summer camp with them and had the same childhood crushes and taste in sneakers.

Let’s also note the most important thing about this F.T.C. San Francisco Skate Shop Video, which was pointed out to me by a friend in conversation recently. It’s the greatest East Coast video made on the West Coast. Supreme was already a shop, but there’s just this “family” section mostly filmed in NYC that appears, with all these very cool New Yorkers, it starts with Bobby Puleo, features Huf’s arguably greatest skateboarding footage, and yes, Scott Johnston is not from California either. Well, SF is the most East Coast feeling/looking cities out West, so there’s some synergy, but whatever was happening in this video is a real capsule of time that is so significant, that it has subconsciously and also consciously informed the future.

The song choices, the backdrops, the integration of bi-coastal talent into one concerted skateboarding effort, showing that we can all get along after all, and that Puleo part is an absolute monster of a first part.

Stereo Tincan Folklore
Carl Shipman, Chris Pastras, Ethan Fowler, Greg Hunt, Jason Lee, Matt Rodriguez, Mike Frazier
The lesser namechecked video of the brief Stereo franchise, but in dissecting it, perhaps the more low-key influential. Sprawling environmental, mundane yet purposeful montages, a relatively twee soundtrack, grounded by post-rock legends Tortoise, UK footage, and jarring edits, much akin to Memory Screen. Much of Tincan Folklore shares more DNA with the beloved, golden era Alien/Habitat films of the late-’90s and early 2000s than Time Code would a year later. It’s the right balance of slightly askew and rightly aligned, without dipping into “art for art’s skate” territory and employing enough noteworthy skateboarding.

In the wake of the jazzy A Visual Sound, Stereo found its roster a bit lighter, but still anchored by the youthful verve of Ethan Fowler, alongside the speed and style of Matt Rodriguez and Carl Shipman. Shipman in particular puts in a somewhat left field part in the wake of his Stereo debut, opting for a very lurky, murky, lo-fi part, showcasing more abstract, environmental skating, yet still finessed. I mean, he does a pole jam and skates a lot of transition—it’s a bit of a departure, but also, as the part bashes away to the fractured beat, there’s something quite Palace-ian about this section, kind of.

With the true ender in Fowler’s part—Jason Lee’s “part” was a bit of a cruel joke—the “new” Stereo vibe is fully revealed. Fowler stomp and slashes around to a punky, garage rendition of “If I Only Had a Brain.” It’s ramshackle and haphazard—the anthesis of the top shelf scotchy smoothness of A Visual Sound. Despite it being a rougher delivery, we can draw the conclusion that you need to learn how to draw, before you can color outside the lines, otherwise it’s going to just look like a pile of scribbles. Instead of some amature-Basquiat influenced sketches, Fowler muscles around SF like a jazzbo Sean Young, showing that power is as much a part of his repertoire as technique.

Lastly, I am a Greg Hunt skateboarding fan, and nothing puts me at ease mentally, more than watching him craft lines, popping in and out of tricks unconventionally, while Tortoise’s “Tin Cans and Twine,” throbs along during the mid-point of his part. I don’t know how this fits contextually in 2016, but you should probably just watch it again or for the first time if you’re so lucky. Hunt’s part is a beautiful paradox, with his smooth, speedy lines, soundtracked by Tortoise’s melancholy post-rock—a minimalist masterpiece, for those who appreciate the strength of the line, much like Franz Kline’s abstract paintings, and I say that in the least pretentious way possible.

Sheep A Life of Leisure
Brian Anderson, Charlie Wilkins, Ed Templeton, Frank Hirata, Matt Field, Mike Manzoori, Rick McCrank, Sergei Trudnowski

A truly vulcanized dream, set 20 years in the past. Sheep’s only video output felt like another East Coast production, with only two members of the roster being from California in The Tempster and Frank Hirata. OK, McCrank and Manzoori weren’t even from the US, but BA, Charlie Wilkins, and Sergei Trudnowski are all East Coast, so there. Regardless, this has no real impact on the weight of A Life of Leisure’s narrative, only that the inclusion of such a regionally diverse squad showed the shift in skating, away from California.

It should be noted that it featured both Templeton and Anderson’s second full parts in 1996, creating a Toy Machine Trifecta of two parters with teammate Donny Barley. Sheep was a bit too forward thinking in their simple shoe design, which look perfectly inline with the skate trends of the past decade now as does the hippie friendly, abstract skating, and actual filming of the video, at times visually mirroring many of the GX edits we all love so dearly. To be specific, fast-forward to the 1:30 mark during Trudnowski’s part and witness the only person to take this now famous gap on, recently filmed by Brian Delatorre and Yonnie Cruz. Please note that Sergei remains the only one to fully land and then bomb the hill without bailing… on 60MM wheels too.

In 1996, shoe videos were rare, with Etnies High Five coming out in 1995, Airwalk releasing a promo in 96, and Emerica’s Yellow to follow in 1997, once again proving that Sheep were ahead of the folk.

Honorable Mention:
Mad Circle - Let the Horns Blow
Think - Damage
Scarecrow - The Movie
New Deal - Promo 96
Planet Earth - Silver
Big Brother - Shit
And both Thrasher, 411VM, and Transworld’s video output in 1996.

To borrow a term from the corpo stiffs that run this planet, which doesn’t even make that much sense, what’s the “net-net” here? If you take the time the next time you’re home sick from school/work and digest all these videos (I’m not going to use the “C” word aka content), you’ll see how predictive 1996 was for the current state of skateboarding. For me, it simply means that skateboarding’s actual heart rarely does change, no matter what happens, in fact, it often is able to collectively prune the ripe ideas and discard the rest, which someone will eventually recycle into something more useful anyway, which explains why Simon Woodstock’s legacy suddenly seems more relevant. Seriously, if he skated the same way as he did 20 years ago now and had a YouTube channel, he’d be bigger than Revive.

Special thank you from SMLTalk to Anthony for taking the time to write this. All photos via Chromeball.