VHS Review Volume VII: Harsh Euro Barge

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Introduction

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Ah, damnit. I always get so fucking sentimental when I’m doing these. Alright whatever, here we go.

Let me just start this off by saying that in all seriousness I used to watch this video every night before I went to bed. Something about the mix between Ty’s insane obsession with techno and Smyth’s sensual voice just lulled this little guy right off to sleep. So let’s take a journey into my quasi-pubescent dreams, and discover the greatest tour video ever made.

Like anything else, we start at the beginning. When you’re watching a Girl video, you know it’s the beginning when you hear that SHT SOUND come in. That beautiful buzz, which is followed by quite possibly the greatest quote in skate video history.

“I don’t want to stress out driving across country getting kicked out of spots not getting one trick. I wanna be able to skate a spot, not get a trick, and still have fun.”

- Mike Carroll, in the saddest, I-haven’t-been-laid-in-months, mumble

Side-note: This quote was actually what I used in my AIM profile (literally just this, not even a shout out to friends, song quote, nothing) for all of 2003. Needless to say I was also not getting laid.

Moving right along.

This video, unlike other Girl videos, just gets right into it. No long intro, no skits, just straight to the goods. You have to realize that this is Ty taking over the helm from Spike as director for Girl videos. So where Spike was watching Naughty America videos with intricate, well thought out story lines, Ty was over there getting it to some weird ass, tied up, leather strap, handjob while punching your balls shit. Honestly there wasn’t anywhere better for him at this time than Europe. But Ty is a master of his craft, and still manages to make us fall for this beloved cast, even Jereme Rogers.

I have to stop here and say that this wasn’t his first rodeo. Ty gained some Euro tour experience the year before, making Beware of the Flare. You may even recognize some of the same guys. But I will go out on a limb and say that if Beware of the Flare was The Godfather, Harsh Euro Barge was The Godfather II. Ty had an emotion that he wanted to reflect, and where BOTF captivated us and made us laugh, in Harsh Barge Ty comes into his own, and just made us feel something. At this point you might be thinking “jeez, it’s just a fucking skate video”, or “wow, this guy is really rambling”, to which I would respond, yes, you are correct on both accounts. I am very hung over, but bear with me, I promise you I have something to say.

Chapter One: “You’ll be switch flipping in no time”

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It all begins with Brian Anderson dropping in on what appears to be the most fun concrete skatepark of all time. This was filmed in 2002, and skateparks like this did not exist in reality, only in your dreams/footage from Antihero, Bob Burnquist or Chris Senn. Nevertheless, Carroll is roasting varial flips over some orange barrier tabletop setup, which by the way is the most early 2000’s skatepark setup in history, while Jeron is doing classic switch tres, Jereme is rattling off every flip trick imaginable on the pyramid, and the Ricks and Robbie are attacking the hubba. This is the Girl team.

Next stop - the exact same indoor park you see in every tour video ever. Yes, the one with the across and down rail, the big enough to look gnarly, but small enough for someone to nollie tre tabletop. The one with quarterpipes lining one wall, only used to get speed for the box. It may have been in Around The World, or was it Berzerker, or Riding Shotgun with Weiger? But that was a US tour…

Notable tricks, BA’s front blunt fakie, and McCrank doing gap grabs over the top to the down rail. Oh yeah and Sam talking about the streaker of course. Damnit I love the little cutouts of the guys faces popping in and out.

Chapter Two: The Barge hits the streets

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Growing up in the suburbs made this section especially tough for me. If I were watching a Zero video, I could at least pretend that the loading dock I was skating was actually a giant grass gap, or somehow quantify what they were doing. But this, this was different. These spots were incredible, and altogether inaccessible. They looked untapped, and had the familiar cold ledge look of the northeast. These spots, however, actually looked like fun. I fucking hate you Jereme Rogers.

In this part one of the most beautiful things happens. Well, two. Actually three! Firstly, Brandon Biebel does the most insane nollie backside flip over a (what appears to be) neck high chain. Then the magic happens. Carroll does a back tail on a ledge, and birds fly by in the foreground. Coincidence? Perhaps. I’d like to think that these birds knew what they were being a part of, and gave Ty a little gift. Lastly Biebel comes at it again, and takes out Rick with the longest most insane kickflip nose manual. And you know he’s hyped!

Jereme loses his plane ticket like an idiot then does a bunch of tricks down an 8 stair. Jeron catches a hot pocket on a heelflip which they don’t show because they save it for Yeah Right.

Chapter Three: “Where is Koston!?”

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Ok, this is an integral part of the video. It’s a turning point. It’s where you are VERY nervous. McCrank is out after bailing on a 70 stair rail and bruising his heel (no clue how he didn’t just evaporate upon impact, proof that he is not human). Jeron is also out from aforementioned injury, and then Koston gets #thefear and leaves. I can’t tell you how incredibly frustrating this was as a child watching this video. You’re left in suspense. What is going to happen? Is the video just going to end? How can they make this work? Is Howard going to step it up and become the demo god he was born to be? Is Carroll going to try to get gnarly? What does this mean for Ty’s career? What does this mean for me?

This is where Ty shines. You see, Ty knows that this is what you’re thinking, and he uses this to bring you deeper into this truly emotional experience. He plays the clip of Carroll taking the worst slam of his life, puts on Cat Power - Cross Bones Style (very intense) and then tells you that Rick Howard is out as well. Wow.

You ever seen the movie Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Damme? Well, a quick synopsis. Jean’s the main character, and he’s in a martial arts tournament. His friend gets killed after a cheap shot, and to win the tournament he has to avenge the death of his friend by beating the guy who killed him. During the final fight the bad guy throws some powder in Jean’s eyes, blinding him. THIS IS TY AT THIS MOMENT. Ty is BLINDED, his key players are out. But he knows that he has to adapt, and make it work.

Chapter Four: “Look at the clouds, fool!”

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Brandon Biebel. If I had to pick anybody to single handedly save this video, it would have be Brandon Biebel. He's ripping, always psyched, eternally quotable, and has never been seen not high. Brandon, if you’re reading this somehow, I just want to personally thank you on behalf of Ty, and the rest of everybody who has ever seen/loved this video.

Biebel might not have any clue where they are, or what they’re doing, but he knows what a sweet sunset looks like, and that’s what is important. He also knows how to do the most gangster nollie back heels done (in corn rows, +5 points).

Ty puts on The Strokes for this one. See, this is how you can tell that he is a true genius. He knows how to ease the tension. In 2003 The Strokes were a radio band, so this was a particularly bold choice. Ty does not care about this. It does not matter to Ty whether a band is known or unknown. He is not interested in snobbery, he is not interested in exclusion, he is interested in the product. It is about the big picture.

Chapter Five: The Pit

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Now that the video has turned around Ty gives the mic to Sam Smyth to finish off with narration and take us down the home stretch. This is where Carroll skates the rail in the rain at the Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert. You all know the quotes, so I’ll spare you. This is a monumental point in the video and a significant moment in skate history. Carroll shows you that he does care, and when he wants he can turn it on. It’s like when you’re playing your dad in basketball as a little kid, and all of a sudden he decides that he doesn’t want to let you win anymore, and slam dunks in your face.

This leads us to the last demo in Austria, and some final street clips, where to be honest there isn’t really anything significant that happens, but you do get the Rick line as the ender for the video with a textbook front nose. Couldn’t ask for more than that. So wait, you say, there was this whole thing about Ty turning the video around, but now the video’s over? I don’t get it, where’s the magic?

Chapter Six: Another Point of View

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The credits/after credits. This is what differentiates Girl videos from the rest. In other videos the climax happens with the ender, with a bang, with somebody’s sick part. In Girl videos it’s like you watch the last part, then Ty gives you some molly and you’re left in a state of euphoria thinking about how much you love all your friends and just want to dance.

Think about this, the video itself is 16 minutes long, but the total runtime is 27 minutes. Are you a mathematician? Well if not, let me tell you, that’s a long fucking credits section. At no point, however, does it get boring. Jereme’s nollie heel noseslide down the escalator, talking shit on Robbie for playing golf instead of skating, random makes and misses, hugs and kisses. And the songs. DB Boulevard and μ ziq. It’s just so damn feel-good. If they released just the credits section without the video I would buy it. So many quotes. “Charles De Gaulle, France go!”, “This is the dopest lesson I ever learned”, “Big guy on a little board” I could go on. Aw man, am I crying? Maybe? Yes. Yes, I am. Last thing I want to say is that the world would’ve been a different place if McCrank had landed the front tail kickflip.

“How should we end the video? Just Biebel, it’s gotta be Biebel. Handstand pushups fade to black before he hits the ground”

THE END

Post Script: Random BA footage talking about his Manowar tape.

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Thank you Ty, thank you Sam, thank you Biebel, thank you Girl.