Science Skateboards – ‘The Important Nothing’ video

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To get to the point, ‘The Important Nothing’ is really darn good and you should watch it. If unavailable in your bricks n’ mortar skate shop (R.I.P. SS20, support your local), you can get a copy from the Palomino.

Within a relatively small scene such as the UK, reviewing home grown videos is a delicate task, because they’re invariably a labour of love, by someone with admirable intentions who is likely to at least know someone you know. This small degree of separation means that each such review in our now extinct domestic print media has tended to be super positive. Who would say they didn’t love a work that someone has slaved over, with little commercial return, especially if you could conceivably session a spot with individuals involved in the near future? But you also want to be credible. A review can be a recommendation.

With internet clips vying for attention, why should you, the reader, part with both money and time to watch a full length vid, if you’ve been told that each and every UK video is brilliant? I wrote that the Isle video was excellent, because it was, I’m now going to tell you the Science video is more than worthy of your 25 minutes and £10, because it assuredly is. Unfortunately there are a number of videos that came out between these two offerings that are less than great. Because we’re all friends here, those sub-par offerings are left unmentioned rather than subjected to some narcissistic display of mean-spirited wit.

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Science are an interesting outfit, and are part of the movement of small firms that are increasingly important to our culture and lifestyle. To distill an argument advanced in some detail here, the act of ‘just doing’ something, like setting up a small skate firm, stamping your tastes onto a corner of the market, keeping yourself motivated in the face of the pressures of adult life, connecting to other scenes and firms, and hooking up a community of like-minded skateboarders not only keeps skateboarding diverse and unique in the face of increasing commercialisation, but it helps us pursue our essential reason for being – the urge to create (our “species essence” in Marx’s view) – that is so often lost in the alienating experience of the 9 to 5. And when motivations are this pure, the outcome is more often than not cool as fuck.

Starting in 2006, owner Chris Morgan has been responsible for the lion’s share of the brand’s look and feel, and is behind the editing, design and large part of the filming of ‘The Important Nothing’. His interview with Crossfire is a good read, and provides detailed insight into one man’s personal vision of skateboarding balanced with a keenness to frequently collaborate (including with big names like Sergej Vutuc and Jon Burgerman and team rider Sam Taylor). Aesthetically, Science could be placed within the tradition of post-Blueprint 1.0 UK companies that combine unashamed artiness with an appreciation of gritty UK street scenes, 90s callbacks and golden era hip hop, soul and lo-fi indie, alongside Landscape, the National Co and Isle to name the most obvious. Where the National have looked to the hot shit that comes out of Sweden in their team line up and video aesthetic, Science make connections with the equally hot Japanese and SF scenes – and ‘The Important Nothing’ has strong similarities with recent Japanese independents like the Lenz videos.

Ph: Dan Tomlinson ollie noseblunt transfer by Chris Morgan

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The filming style is unobtrusive, and avoids the closer-than-close fisheye steez currently en vogue and beloved of the Magenta bros and some of the aforementioned Japanese films. There’s a nice nostalgia, with a lot of black and white and deliberate graininess (and the jazz intro keeps things far more classic Stereo Super 8 than Palace VHS), with callbacks to a 90s hip hop appreciation of kung fu movies and frequent flashes of primary colours complementing the lovely DVD packaging and Science’s graphic output and logo. The soundtrack fizzes with a nigh on optimum balance of hip hop, soul, stoner rock and indie that made me think of some of the classic UK and East Coast vids – with Dan Magee, Josh Stewart or Chris Mulhern likely to be pretty stoked on the choices. Rounding off the ‘just right’ mix of characteristics is the 25 minute running time – if my knee wasn’t jacked, I’d have picked my board up and raced into the grotty streets of Long Eaton as soon as the credits rolled (in stark contrast to the soporific effect of the 1 hour plus running time of certain very big budget hammer fests).

Highlights from the skating includes London-resident, Leicester ex-pat and prolific scribbler Sam Taylor and his quick feet, loose style and mastery of wallrides and no-complies. Pete Buckley, whose time in Sapporo, cements the Japanese connection, rocks a classic Girl/Choc (circa Mouse/Paco) steez and boss man Chris Morgan can do stylish new-old (no-complies) as well as old-new tricks (refuting the assumption that 30+ skaters can’t do good flips). I dig any Luka Pinto stuff since his Eleventh Hour section, and really like how he and Glenn Fox have established this unique style that Channel Islands (get it?) Quim Cardona looseness with Magenta quick-feet.Ben Cruickshank reps the lanky-tech (more golden era Girl/Choc – gangly natural street styles of Shamil Randle) and the dope Saafir track.

Dan Beall has been another favourite since his standout Baghead Flats section. Dan reps a different fine vintage of street skateboarding, strongly British in style – the nimble precision honed on rough terrain that other slight-of-frame bros like Welsh Tommy and Jin Shizmizu also rep.

The premiere went off.

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There’s a rad SF friends section that includes relatively well known locals like Tony Manfre and John Lindsay and the combination of spots doesn’t overkill the hill bombs (and includes Fort Miley, some DIY spots and street that isn’t sloping at 45 degrees). Dan Tomlinson is sick, with powerful pop and clean trick selection, that contrasts with Josh Cox’s unusual trick bag and manny mastery. Holdtight London alumnus Joe Sivell holds down the last section, with Roots Manuva setting the scene for tech and fashion that throws a contemporary British-take on early 2000s Puzzle glory days. Remember Stephane Giret? I’ve been betting a pirate’s hoard of gold doubloons on a come-back for both the tricks and the wardrobe of that brother, and Joe’s leading the charge to make sure I’m soon a wealthy man (and laughing at the rest of you as the pound sterling continues to fall through the floor).

I don’t want to do this video a disservice by listing too many historic references (that many of you won’t have been around for… but I’d bet more doubloons, and maybe a bronze cudgel and a horned helm, that Chris Morgan knows exactly what I’m talking about). Suffice to say, a bit like Pontus’ amazing Polar video, you can enjoy it equally as a fresh feeling contemporary offering, if you have the gift of youth, or as a life affirming, knee cartilage re-growing re-up of a certain era that burns very brightly in our sub-cultural memory.

Chris Lawton

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Mike Carroll kicks MJ off Chocolate in an interview

marc_johnsonWhen the news came through Twitter that Marc Johnson had been seen in a new sports skateboarding video this week, we did ponder if it was true as his name as bold as the Eiffel Tower on the Lakai website.

Could MJ have sneakily cut a deal with a billion dollar sports brand after coating off their tennis shoes in a recent interview? Yeah, of course, because that’s sadly how pro skateboarders do their business today after long time friendships in the skate industry. It has become a joke, but today it became even worse.

Mike Carroll has just responded in a very open and cutting interview on Jenkem, the same site that ran MJ’s anti-sports brand rant a while back:

“I’m mad that he told me, point blank the night before the premiere, that there would be no announcements and that he would talk to his lawyer and we’d figure all that out. All the people that work hard for him, that design his shoes, the sales people, production people, the team – everybody that works for Lakai was there and for them to show up to the premiere and get blindsided like that… We didn’t do anything to him to deserve that. For them to find out that way? It just makes us look like fucking idiots, because this dude is a pathological liar. He couldn’t be man enough to tell me straight up.

The night before the premiere, when Marc and I talked, he could’ve told me… I would have been mad but at least he would’ve been honest and I could’ve called the team and told them instead of them finding out like that. He recently had things come up personally and I respect his privacy and distance. I’m just truly disappointed how he went about this. I’m curious to see what he has to say for himself. I can’t wait to see what type of lie he is going to say to justify his action.”

Read the full thing here but good on you Carroll, it’s about time people started discussing how these billion dollar companies are setting themselves up to ruin what skateboarders have worked tirelessly for. Choose skateboarding.

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Real / Krooked – Get it Strait, Roll Forever edit

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Crew members of REAL and Krooked Skateboards smash it down under in Australia in this new 6 minute tour edit. What a line up of heavy talent too, with footage of Ishod Wair, Chima Ferguson, Bobby Worrest, Sebo Walker, Ronnie Sandoval and Robbie Brockel.

Sick edit.

new kids ON the block – FA / Hockey

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Have a mix of old and new featuring chit chat from ON Video back in the 90s and footage of FA and Hockey riders Nakel Smith, Donovan Piscopo, Anthony Van Engelen, Sage Elsesser, Sean Pablo, Jonathan Fitzgerald and more smashing it.

Good work on the editing job Matt Lenehan.

2015 And What?

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With the time now upon us to gather in the great mead halls of our forefathers and rowdily toast another year gone by, celebrating 2015 whilst speculating on the fate the Norns weave for skateboarding in 2016, huddled beneath the world-tree Yggdrasil (whilst a grafter busily ‘cretes the other side of its ancient trunk in an attempt to out-Daewon Daewon. That boy don’t need no ‘crete to skate a tree, fool).

It’s tough to drink to 2015 – a good year certainly – without noting that things moved less rapidly than in 2014. ‘Cherry’ came out in spring that year, and almost immediately switched styles of skating and dressing across our younger brethren. Pontus had been urging us to ‘charge’ and, in doing so, add no-complies, wall rides and pole jams to our repertoire for a few years previously. But ‘Cherry’ really cemented that vocabulary in the imagination of the masses whilst encouraging kids to refresh wardrobes to an extent not seen since the Baker rock-star-come-pirate switch-up of the early noughts.

2014 also saw the indie brands square up to the skater-owned giants like plucky dwarven warriors, chopping a few heads off and doing a few things differently, whilst the strangle-hold of the global sportswear mega corps tightened inexorably. 2015 has seen a continuation of these trends. Magenta celebrated 5 years with red wine and screeching urethane, whilst Polar and Palace became legitimately two of the most popular core skate brands on earth – sought after by salon-fresh hipsters and scabrous street rats alike. All done with frequent collaborations with the sportswear giants – demonstrating how Harvard-trained boardroom strategists currently prefer to buy-in their grassroots cool through timeshare rather than take over.

officespaceThis leads us to the other development that has become clearer in 2015 – the schism in skateboarding as a professional career trajectory. From the mid-90s to the noughts, there were just two paths for the talented hopeful: to succeed at skateboarding as a full time job then either have a 20-30 year career or, more likely, move behind-the-scenes, reaping any good will accrued through stunts and video parts; or fail to get a break, live in shitty accommodation on sub-minimum wage through your 20s and maybe 30s, then resign to mundane adult life bereft of marketable skills. Both outcomes rested on the belief that, in order to excel at skating, it must be pursued full time, to the exclusion of all else. This was encouraged by industry heads as well as the natural tendency of young skaters to think of nothing else. Although skating is huge in 2015, the route to the Big Time has puckered tighter than an arsehole.

Quadrants of the internet throughout 2015 have lamented the demise of the ‘middle class’ pro skater, respected style icons but not stadium fillers like many of the OG Chocolate team (Mike York, Richard Mulder, Scott Johnston etc.). Being other skateboarders’ favourite skateboarder don’t pay the bills no mo’. Only a tiny minority of Street League-consistent superstars will emerge from a horde of really, really good kids. Those few, counted in 10s rather than 100s, will have their names embroidered next to Swooshes and will retire to Hollywood condos.

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“Fuck those guys, I’m not interested” says almost every active skateboarder over 14. Especially if they’ve tried to sit through ‘We Are Blood’. But 2015 sees an alternative to poverty pay and perma-adolescence, which any skateboarder of whatever age or talent level can attain. A route that brings about opportunities to bask in the occasional esteem of our peers through independent videos, photo zines, regional websites and bro companies – as long as one has a creative eye to bring something notable to the right time and place. 2015’s grassroots skateboarder, sponsored or unsponsored, super-talented or regular Joe, is a multi-tasker. They do a regular job that they may or may not hate – from New Jersey, NYC and New England skaters’ stated preference for set building, to Europeans who might be Uber cab drivers, teachers, writers or bin men. Then at night or on their days off, they pitch into the running of a company, contribute to media – printing, blogging, archiving and sharing – and spend time ‘creting some disused local space, campaigning for public facilities, or learning about architecture, urban planning or public action. Left-leaning economists call this the ‘gigging economy’, a phenomena in which human creativity and ingenuity exploits the cracks that splinter across late capitalism, refusing to let meaningless jobs in the service sector define who we are, whilst taking their pay cheques to pay our spiralling living costs.

Gif: Brophy in Obtuse Moments by our Tumblr bud, BetterSkateThanNever.

brophyThe internet enabled the ‘sharing economy’, but 2015’s skateboarders are working out how to turn this into a balanced, life-enhancing portfolio of cool stuff – that sacks off dreams of Street League without resigning one’s self to a damp apartment and a mournful, regret-filled adulthood.

Channel 4’s economics editor, top dude and keen surfer, Paul Mason, argued in a recent interview about his book ‘Post-capitalism: A guide to our Future’ that late capitalism, in its failure to adapt to technological change or to do away with the inefficient, unjust hegemony of the old elites, has created space for its successor. He advises us to do the jobs we hate, but “take another percentage of yourself and you put it into the emerging post-capitalist world”. This will be a world that trades on skills, knowledge, social connections and the well-being we can get from the things that have genuine meaning to us. Because we cannot, and probably should not, make a living from the ‘true’ version of skateboarding that we love so much, a thing that creates great meaning but little profit, we should do other things on the side – for the time being. In 2015 we have seen that we don’t need to forlornly push back real life, Canute-like against the rising tide. We can embrace it whilst bending it to our will, filling our time with advancing skateboarding as it should be.

So this ‘here’s to 2015’ tribute is themed: My ram’s horn full of mead is tipped frothily to the multi-taskers, the odd-jobbers, the night-time rippers and filmers, the bedroom entrepreneurs. You guys are the future for the kind of skateboarding that I care about. It’s a future that you and I can be part of without handing over $100 to sit in some air conditioned stadium and stare as one tiny, distant Swoosh guy outscore another, in an endless loop or pearly teeth and breathable sports fabric.

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And now, to 2015’s Finest Footage in my personal opinion, feel free to post your own at the end of this article:

The unanticipated breakthrough for 2015 were Budapest’s Rios Crew. These unknown, mainly unsponsored dudes deal out relatable but fucking raw skating across a variety of former Eastern-bloc architecture and their own DIY spot, capturing the imagination of tastemakers like Jenkem and Quartersnacks. Their last video offering, Jönnek – a rough edit set to music put together by their mates – made a great impression at the Vladimir Film Festival. A big, enthusiastic crew, a work ethic and an eye for spots are the only ingredients that matter for skate videos that stoke other skaters out. The Rios boys’ output is unlikely to win new converts in Ty Evans’ current target market of MILFs and pre-teens, but that’s not the point. Thousands of dollars’ worth of RED camera kit and editing suites, airplane tickets and fashion-forward wardrobes be damned: get your buddies out of the skate-park and point a cheap DSLR at them and you too can be the belle of the ball. But don’t expect to make any money out of it. This output is entirely without the endorsement of the Swoosh, the arrow and a star, or three stripes.

Dudes who have taken the Swoosh’s patronage are Quartersnacks, but one cannot begrudge them for this. Big brand attention is the consequence of wide ranging yet locally anchored commentary on the state of skateboarding, with an unashamed appreciation of the fashion, night life and skateboarding’s other extra-curricular perks and sidelines – Paul Mason’s economic and quasi-economic together.

QS celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2015 – with main man Konstantin ‘Kosta’ Satcheck still safely in his 20s, meaning that a crew blog that became a globally respected #trendwatch and #thinktank (and proliferator of entertainingly official sounding hashtags) started in his teens. Think on that, all you who passively complain about your weak local scene whilst lazily scrolling through Instagram. With more frequent collaborations with ‘New York’s Most Productive’ filmer Johnny Wilson, 2015 is a tricky year to pick just one (or in this case a co-joined selection) from the stream of skate trip, themed and scheduled start of/end of summer and best of the year edits that QS churn out. Although the transition-themed series chronicling a trip through New England is a departure from the site’s usual preoccupation with ‘low impact’ street skating, it captures many of this article’s themes: normal dudes, battling adversity, lack of investment and official disinterest to populate their own scenes with good parks and clever re-working of dilapidated street spots.

Another big birthday was celebrated by Magenta over the summer. Although they’ve just released the full length ‘Just Cruise’, the edit of their UK tour, sound-tracked with Aldous Huxley’s prophetic voice-over, stood out as a highlight of the year. Brand owners Vivien and Soy have full-time jobs, Vivien has two kids and Soy recently beat cancer, and Magenta is not making either of them rich. But the spirit of the thing: keeping your local scene lit, supporting your friends, and linking like-minded crews worldwide. Surely this is what skateboarding’s really about – whatever your personal view of powerslides and all flat-land lines. Magenta are the ultimate multi-taskers.

If Thrasher’s Skater of the Year could be bestowed on a truer epitome of the blue-collar, skateboarders’ skateboarder, charging through full-sections switch-stance as much as regular like a burly freight train, I’m unable to think of one. Anthony Van Engelen – the Bruce Springsteen of skateboarding in his earthiness and longevity – is surely a SOTY choice that only the most curmudgeonly below-the-line commentator could complain about. Even his Vans ‘Propeller’ out-takes stand as one of the year’s best edits, without even starting on the A-roll stuff that found their way into the final cut.

If AVE is the grizzled master of grown-up, burl and finesse, Gilbert Crockett is the spiritual successor – vying with AVE for best section in Propeller and cementing his place towards the top of the list of skateboarders’ favourite skateboarders with ‘Salt Life’ for Quasi.

Straight across the Atlantic, but staying within the Vans team, Chris Oliver’s ‘Excursion’ from our pals at Sidewalk adds to pantheon of lifers and grafters who combine incredible talent with a sense of being consistently over-looked. Many of my friends cite Chris Oliver as “the best skater I’ve ever seen in real life”. He continues to place high in competitions (against a majority of competitors ten years his junior), kills all variety of transition, and can put out banging, raw and good-humoured street sections like this one. Incredible board control and seemingly little fear of eating shit, but with a variety of interests including DJing and carpentry that add to the personality that comes through in his skating.

Turning it down a notch, one of my personal favourite edits of the year was Long Island’s The Northern Company’s ‘Portland Excursion’. It encapsulated the feeling of a trip with friends in a gentle, nostalgic hue of oranges and browns – lost in time, a blue grass Goonies or Stand by Me (complete with rustbelt imagery of clattering trains and industry reclaimed by nature). No single trick stood out, but it leaves me feeling content and keen to skate every time I’ve watched it – and it’s been one of the few repeat viewings in a stacked year. While you’re at it, read founders Mike Gigante and Steve Fletschinger’s interview for the Palomino for all the right reasons to start a skate company.

As we’ve mentioned in our review of the video premier, Isle’s maiden full-length ‘Vase’ stood out as DVD of the year for all these reasons.

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Finally, it would be a disservice not to mention one of this last year’s most prolific, popping up in edits across Europe and both the East and West Coasts of capitalism’s Promised Land, from QS/Nike and Transworld respectively. Like many skaters the world over, I spent a lump of my summer in Copenhagen and would give my front teeth to repeat that every year. Hjalte Hjalberg personifies all that is best in Denmark – a big, powerful, smiling bastard, annoyingly skilled but coming over as likeably down to earth, taking on the mantle of international power tech forged by fellow Copenhagen export, the late Kristian Bomhalt (RIP). As well as being pro for Polar, he’s a trained teacher and not afraid to jump into a boat and sail into the chill northern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. 2015’s power combo of grafter, multi-tasker and champion nose-slider.

Words: Chris Lawton.

Shane O’Neill on Primitive

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It’s official. Shane O’Neill has just announced on his insta just now that he will be joining Primitive Skateboards alongside new partner Paul Rodriguez. O’Neill will become part owner in the brand as well as a pro.

“I now ride for and am part owner of Primitive, they also have let me hire my friends for filming, photos, edits and really anything they need. Paul Rodriguez is one of my best friends and it only made sense to make it happen. Either way we are stoked and it’s all about the skating not the politics, hope you enjoy the part Dec 1st on Thrasher”.

Boys of Summer – full video

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Get the teas on again for this as Jeff Kutter’s new video Boys of Summer has been sent to the interweb overnight featuring a shit load of known skateboarders. This is fun as fuck, tongue in cheek and well worthy of watching footage of the likes of Jason Dill, Alex Olson, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Jerry Hsu, Heath Kirchart, Mike Carroll, Dylan Rieder, Gino Iannucci and many more.

Download it here.