VHS Review XI: Zero "Dying to Live"

This was one of the most watched videos in my VHS collection growing up skating with some of my neighborhood friends. We would sit in my buddy’s basement, fire up the ol’ T.V covered in skate stickers, pop in the tape, skate a mini ramp made out of cardboard (Desperate times, man) eat candy, and revel in the glory of skateboarding that existed in 2002. Hand rails, rock n’ roll, and Jamie Thomas. Who could ask for anything more? During this era, with the likes of Flip’s heavy hitter Sorry and Deca’s 2nd to None coming out, the Zero video always stood out, and had a special place within me and my crew. Enjoy.

Intro

Kicking it off with the Misfits clad skele-person laughing in slow motion (reminiscent of a Toy Machine intro?), as The Who’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” builds in the background, the Halloween tinted titles warmly invite us into the madness. ZERO. PROUDLY. PRESENTS. “DYING TO LIVE” (I think they used too many. Editing choices, Jamie). What follows is a barrage of jump cuts matched to the drums of the legendary Keith Moon that only would fly for a video with hucking of this caliber. When the crescendo peaks, being Townsend’s epic “YEAHHHHHHH”, the Chief launches a 50-50 down some godforsaken handrail and you know at this exact moment that this video is gonna blow your fucking 12 year old mind. After just one minute of footage, there is already a total of 23 handrail tricks in the video. Jesus. Moving on.

Jon Allie

Talk about setting the bar high: Slayer’s “Tormentor” blasting as Allie proceeds to destroy all of your handrails. Speed, style, and a penchant for flipping into grinds create a mind-melter of an opener. That kickflip noseslide down the 13 stair is a thing of pure, unadulterated beauty.

One question always stuckout in my mind though; who the fuck is the dude on the bike double-peg grinding a rail that is recklessly thrown in the middle of his part? Was he a friend? Did he get paid? Was it secretly Wade Burkitt? It doesn’t matter. This was 2002, and skateboarding did not give one flying fuck about “image”. This is ZERO god damnit.

John Rattray

Upon watching this again, I was curious why John Rattray went after Jon Allie. Was it to distinguish who was who in the Jon/John category? I dunno, fuck it. Now we have the Scottish Jamie Thomas, skating to the most karaoke song ever, “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers. The band is Scottish. Rattray is Scottish. Coincidence? I think not. The part fits well after Allie’s, with a mix of handrails, wonky lines (Notables including: Nollie 360 flip IMMEDIATELY followed by a Stalefish Front 180 down MACBA) and whatever the hell this thing is:

Feel good part, feel good song, ender was dope. Gotta love the ‘ttray.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Loose Fitting Button Up Shirts

Matt Mumford

The Mum starts his part with the most fitting visual description of who he is as a person: a guy who probably knocks himself out cold on a daily basis. Peep this and prepare for a GNARLY section:

First trick in the part is a line? Followed by another line? Is this dude in the right video? Oh shit.. back lip to fakie on a rail to immediate ‘CRETE SIGHTING. He fits. Mumford proceeds to skate over some pool channels and death boxes, snagging a few tricks along the way while Queen’s “One Vision” blares through your T.V’s arguably horrible speakers. Chugging along through the part, we have a plethora of rails, some flip tricks not into rails, and a pretty good amount of pool skating. Wait a second, what the…was he wearing a blazer during that back smith? Where did he get that? Did Jamie make him wear it? Was that Ellington doing a switch flip? This part was equal parts sick and confusing. Great job, Mumford and Sons.

Ryan Bobier

I really like this part, when Bobier was a young and scrappy am looking to make his place on the Zero squad. His “don’t give a shit attitude” comes complete with song lyrics including “We don’t like you, go away!” from The Adverts. Clocking in at one minute, the part is chock fulla handrails, a Baker board, and for some reason, a nollie frontside 180 down the stair set NEXT TO the Carlsbad gap. Maybe if he had just skated the gap, he wouldn’t have been exiled to MYSTERY. Talented guy, cool part, definitely misunderstood.

Side note: Me and my dumb friends used to call him Ryan “Bobbier”. Anyone else? No? Shit.

FRIEND TIME

I think this might be the only video other than one put on YouTube by an eleven year old that actually uses the title “FRIENDS” before delving into the part. Set to an American classic, Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”, we’re treated to a kickass montage full of legends. Since I suck at identifying people in friends sections, we’re only going to highlight two things: the guy who tried fingerflip boardslide twice didn’t land it, but made it in the video, and the ender: Ben Gilley’s massive 50-50. Two insane slams, followed by the grand finale.

Here is the thing I noticed. We will see this EXACT same set of clips play out seven years later in the 2009 Zero classic Strange World featuring the exact same person, trick, and editing. At the end of the split part from Rattray/Piscopo/Melishinski/Cervantes, we got a clip of Gilley getting WORKED on a giant Frontside 50-50, a second clip of him slamming, and a third clip of him getting thrown into a fucking bush. Only to have the last clip be him sticking the trick in question, in gorgeous slow motion (great effect for skateboard videos). More or less the same thing that happened oh so long ago.

Zero videos are formulaic, from content, to filming, to music choices.. Speaking of that…

Adrian Lopez

That very sweet segue was referring to the fact that Jamie Thomas, whom I can only assume chose the music for this video, elected to use a song by the Gipsy Kings (A French band who sings in Spanish?) for Adrian. We get it. He is of some form of Latino decent. Give him a Spanish song! We saw this earlier with John Rattray’s part receiving the song from The Proclaimers. Anyway, Adrian rips around and has stunning pop for a dude who looks a bit on the short side. Stand outs from this part IMHO are the nollie half cab heel over the barrier in Barcelona and the uses of “fade to blacks” mid part to coincide with a lull in the beautiful strumming of the G.K’s guitars.

Half cab boardslide ender is a real sign of the times for this video. Bien hecho, Adrian!

Lindsey Robertson

Latter half of the video. It’s fucking hammer time. We open with a young Lindsey Robertson slamming on some rather large shit and proceeding to throw his board around like a 12 year old having a tantrum after learning his pressure flip is in fact NOT a hardflip. After focusing a handrail, his shirt, and a small portable radio, we begin with what might be the most epic song in a video part ever.

Pictured: An epic song

Lindsey starts us off with a slow motion (again, great effect) montage of some really epic stuff, including a very dope and chill shakka after landing a frontside ollie over a double set rail. Montage continues, more large and slow motioned tricks, a #veryrare frontside flip, and a nollie heel down the Temple 12 featuring some self-stoke. Classic Lindsey! Can’t comment on the heelflip indy, as it more or less speaks for itself.

Pictured: An epic streetgrab

Lindsey treats us to a shit ton of heelflips, a front board down a 20 stair looking the wrong way, all culminating with the crown jewel heelflip at the Hollywood 16. Roasted it. Thanks Lindsey.

Ryan Smith

Local bad dude Ryan Smith now shows up on the scene with a line at the famous Sants Benches in Barcelona. Dude roasts a kickflip crook on the top of the bench, immediately grabs a beer, takes a swig (In that elusive slow motion technique) before blowing a nollie noseslide. We’re in for some shit.

This is what your mom thinks skateboarding is if you're over the age of 18. She's right.

As Kurt Cobain’s guitar screeches through the intro, we see Smith funnel a beer, slam a bunch, some titties pop up, and a giddy young Canadian chugs Molson while lying on the ground. 10/10 for your kickass intro Mr. Smith. Lotta hucking coming from the 22 year old from the North in what is definitely a stand out part from the video, though short. Notables include kickflip over the rail at Rincon to board break, the insanely perfect backside flip down MACBA, and of course the backside 360 down the infamous Carlsbad gap*. Thank you for your contribution.

*Sources revealed it was down the stairs next to the gap

Chris “Cobra” Cole

Fade in. Cobra down. Spits. Double studded wrist flair from Hot Topc. Styx. This part is really going to be something. Even your dad would walk by, hear the opening line to “Renegade”, and give it a watch.

"That's how I looked when I saw Styx at the Orpheum in '75, son"

This is the second time in my life that I’ve seen Chris Cole, first being in Thrasher’s Timebomb, released just one year earlier, where he was wearing insanely large clothing, and wasn’t all Cobra’d out. Cole provides a lot of tech wizardry that has been sorely lacking throughout the video up to this point, along with the, most likely required, big gaps/rails. Back tail shuv in Spain? Wild. Kickflip back noseblunt ender? Damn, thank you Colebra.

Suck it, handrail.

For whatever reason, I believe this to be Chris Cole’s best part. He became a super human on a skateboard in recent years, and this part just feels like a classic dude who knows how to skate. Relatable? Absolutely not. Fathomable? Surely. (Minus the insane amount of boot-cut denim).

Jamie “The Chief” Thomas

This is it, friends. The part we’ve all been waiting for. Jamie Thomas. The same guy that tried melon grabbing off of a building, a clip you most certainly downloaded off Kazaa which promptly destroyed your computer. As his part opens, you’re nervous, anxious, and probably ill-prepared for the insane amount of things that will be hanging out of his pockets throughout. Here is a conversation that was 100% had during filming:

Filmer: Hey Jamie, wanna toss the shirt in the car?
Jamie: Naw, I’m good. (Definitely just putting this shit in my back left pocket, man)

Rush’s “2112” blows your ears apart as The Chief proceeds to annihilate. We are currently watching a man who started his career by being homeless in San Francisco and ollieing gaps barefoot, to go on to build his own company, establish a cult like following, risk life and limb for last part in this video of epic proportions. A true living legend.

From the mid part break where we’re told by Geddy Lee that “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Biblical reference #1) as Jamie lipslides a monolithic rail, to the slaughter that continues, Jamie doesn’t disappoint. Say what you want about the guy, but the part is of legend. The ender, a perfectly balanced backside nosegrind down a mountain of a hubba, was wild and awe inspiring. Last clip is a quote from Psalm 18:1 “I love you, O’Lord, My Strength” (Biblical reference #2). Whatever gets you through, bud. Roll credits.

Flair in Pocket Count: 23 Pieces

Slam Section

Genuinely don’t want to write about the slam section. Not fun. The opening clip is Jamie Thomas going backwards directly to his god damned head, and making the worst sounds I’ve ever heard. We’re now treated to a fantastic montage of our new found friends attempting to kill themselves for our entertainment. Just a few quick things:

Fingerflip boardslide guy is back. No dice.

And the fact that this fatty to flatty that probably killed the guy:

Outro

This is the only humanizing element to the whole video. Starting with a tandem hillbomb with someone riding someone else down a hill, we see the fun side of these guys. Slamming, playing jokes on each other, Ryan Smith getting “super punched” by Lee Dupont, and all of the quintessential B-Roll that makes for a great way to relax after such a gnarly video. As “Layla” enters its final act, we’re given a black and white (early allusion to Mystery?) photo montage of the various trips, parties, days in the editing room, and more from the boys in black. Great send off. Thank you for a classic that inspired a bunch of kids to jump recklessly off of things they shouldn’t, Zero.