Tag Archives: 2018

Turn off, Tune out, Drop in: Ryan Reyes in the Ditch Dimension

Ditches are like nature’s skateparks (and I am aware of how I’m misusing the term nature here)… An imperfect and often oversized assembly of banks, walls, edges, ledges, steep-ass roll ins, and the occasional water flow to contend with. Just as Geoff Rowley transitioned from British born vegan to American citizen deerstalker, he also evolved from a street ripper to pretty much exclusive ditch dude.

From a 2015 Thrasher interview with Geoff: “It was interesting and a lot of times you didn’t get kicked out of the ditches either. We had a lot of problems down South, getting kicked out of everywhere because everyone was hitting the handrails out in front buildings a lot. I was sick of getting kicked out and not being able to sit down at a spot. When we went to ditches, you could bring a boom box and a couple of bottles of water and kind of hang out a little bit better. It felt like those old backyard-pool sessions but it was a little bit more street oriented. You’re out there with your friends and nobody’s messing with you. You can still get your kicks. You get more time on the board. More time skating versus driving around in the cities getting kicked out everywhere.”

Be it the enormity of the obstacles, the brutalist concrete look of the spots, or the chillness of a bust-free session, ditches offer all the amenities (and lack of shade) of a skatepark without the illegitimacy and background scooterings of a “park clip”. No road trip through the American Southwest is complete without clocking some ditch tricks. Also, Wallows.

Ryan Reyes has built his career on a steady dose of ditch skating with a sprinkling of unlikely wallrides, but to intentionally film and market an entire part in the ditches has its risks. One may appear a bit over-it and unwilling to deal with street hassles (ala Rowley), or maybe unwilling to really venture outside of your immediate desert geography (ala John Motta), or perhaps it’s just a themed episode of the larger oeuvre (like this). One also risks burning retinas with the somewhat repetitive sun bleached aesthetics of drainage ditches, inducing yawns from seeing the same old ditch spots yet again, as well as the dangers of heat stroke and/or flash floods.

Yet despite all of risks (and some trite video feedback effects), Ryan Reyes’ Ditch Dimension part from 2018 is a success.

I’ve always liked Ryan. He’s creative in his tricks (more or less inventing the board-jam and the railride) and his personal peculiarities (his recently overcome phobia of metal). He always seemed affable in interviews and more than most skateboarders he seems to be authentically ‘living his best life’. He has settled quite comfortably into a merry yet alternative lifestyle of a woodsy microdosing psychedelic family man with a knee brace and he is undoubtedly having a good time. It makes me happy to see someone happy to be skating.

The blunted powerslide underflip body varial is my current favorite post-hammer roll-away trick.

Favorite part of 2018: Ethan Loy in Peace

I think we can all agree that 2018 was a pretty great year for skate videos. With nearly every day birthing a new release with at least a few mind benders and nearly every part begetting what would’ve been considered the greatest skateboarding trick ever conceived if this were just a decade ago. I expected to find myself burdened to pick just one part that stood out forward from the rest.

In a world where quintuple kinked rails are common, skateboarders openly defy security in nearly ever full length, and kids are doing tricks on moving construction vehicles for instagram, it would take something different to burn into the brain and bring me back. Perhaps something slower, something more meditative.

I didn’t expect to find it in an Element video. I really didn’t expect to find it in the middle of an Element video. And I certainly didn’t expect to find it from the lesser known amateur sibling of a more well known pro skater in the middle of an Element video.

Ethan Loy‘s part in Element’s Peace video breathes deep and give us a chance to contemplate. A lot of this feeling is provided by an unlikely pairing with the exotically global tinged stoner rock of Om. Much like Heath Kirchart’s Sight Unseen masterpiece set to the improbable but perfect soundtrack of the Moody Blues, we are given space to experience the skating rather than being battered with an onslaught of heavy tricks in rapid fire. And much like Heath in Sight Unseen, slow motion is used to marvelous effect.

One loses all sense of physics as the opening up-rail boardslide seems to illogically keep its momentum. One feels the claustrophobic constriction of a sweaty underground skate spot, nosegrinding between a metal ledge and a glaring florescent light. One feels a genuine sense of surprise when Loy opts to wallie or jam into rail and ledge tricks.

The pacing is restorative. The tricks are well selected (although how many parts are gonna end with that old motorcycle tow-in chestnut). The filming is crisp and clear. Ethan’s look is clean and austere, yet novel for lacking energy drink logos, forearm tattoos, and/or hair dye. The music is driving, yet soothing, emotional and uncluttered. The whole thing has a relaxed atmosphere, without any of the skating being relaxed at all. The part effectively  resets what should have been an unbearably long full length video.

The strength of Ethan Loy’s part is definitely in the sum of all the elements, not just the tricks. So if he was to have one of those “War & Peace” rough cuts on Thrasher, it definitely won’t convey what worked so well. In the meanwhile, maybe it’ll get released in free sharable format once Element has squeezed all the revenue from online purchases. I’ll post it here if and when. Until then, Peace is available for purchase through iTunes and what have you, and totally worth the 13 bucks.

post photo by Jake Darwin

Zion Wright – Jupiter Rising & Real Part

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and Zion Wright just released his second full part of the year earlier today on Thrasher’s website. Real Skateboard‘s Skater of the Year intentions are loud and clear. So let’s not waste another moment and dive right into Jupiter Rising while revisiting his Real part from June and see how his candidacy stacks up.

First off, don’t be fooled by that 8:54 running time. There are 3 minutes of credits featuring a photographic retrospective of the part you just watched and what could easily be interpreted as an acceptance speech. Still, 5 minutes of skating is damn impressive and even with all the high fives and roll away footage, it’s pretty cram-jam with skateboarding stunts.

It is quite a compliment to Zion that such advanced handrail tricks as backside 360 ollie to frontside boardslide or kickflip frontside 50-50s or long tall overcrooks have been denigrated to “stock” status. But, alas, here we are and here are tricks we’ve seen in a part just five months ago (and also on King of the Road) and I find myself craving just one goddamn manual. Would it kill you to skate a ledge or do a wallie or something.

With that in mind, the bowl footage we get stands out as some of the strongest arguments in favor of Zion’s SOTY aspirations. Aired McTwists and kickflip Indy grabs gives some much needed depth to the part. The last two SOTYs were awarded to rail jockeys (one of which also rode for Real). So with just a few choice filming missions, Zion could easily recategorize himself into the ATV slot. It would give him a boost above the current crop of Tyson Petersons, Ducky Kovakses, and countless other round rail pinchers and carcass tossers numbing up the feed these days.

Half-cabbing into these things is still next level, though.

Jupiter Rising has to be digested in tandem with the bafflingly titled “Real” part from June. I actually prefer the “Real” (I’m already annoyed at having to put the title in quotes to distinguish it from other parts he may produce with his board sponsor, Real) part. But, really, the parts are just so similar.

Would one 12 minute part have been better? I would argue that it is wiser in this day and age for footage stacking skateboarders in their prime to break apart lengthy, multi-song parts into several digestible nuggets, and then release all but one of them at the end of the year.

Drums and Space: Yaje Popson – Brick

Way under the radar in 2018 was an entertaining quick part from Alien Workshop professional and aromatics hippie Yaje Popson. Don’t let the long hair and brightly colored pants relax you into interpreting this as a feel good cruise. Brick is a gritty East Coast urban psychedelic attack. Its a bit disorienting but thoroughly enjoyable.

The filming is close, the music is distorted and rhythmic, the editing is tight on the tricks, and interstitials zoetrope animations strobe. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, we approach the maximum tolerable length for a video like this to be comfortable. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of Thiessen’s unmistakable nauseating fish eye movements until the last trick. Five minutes of this would has the potential to get brutal and completely negate the skating, but two and a half minutes is perfect.

Tossed into the part is a surprising trashcan wallride grind at Philly’s Board Game plaza. The banked ledge backside lipslide is pretty tasty, and I’m still impressed by people skating those little lumpy garden edgers. With the exception of the terribly documented ‘ender’, the final 6 tricks kill it, with the best moment the easy style on that penultimate switch backside lipslide to regular.

I can imagine the new Alien squad often feel like they are fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy; A challenge they seem to acknowledge. But if they can keep producing regular parts like this (and add Suciu to the team already), we’ll all forget Dyrdek ever existed.

Pedro Delfino

Pedro Delfino has a literal death wish

Floridian and future CTE sufferer Pedro Delfino made his official debut for Deathwish skateboards recently and that skull thudding slam to start it off has given concerned citizens plenty of justification when they tell a skater to get off their roof. Rarely are we, the online skate video viewers, subjected to the realistic consequences of stunt level skateboarding. Seeing Pedro’s limp unconscious carcass on the ground (twice!) for a ‘welcome to the team’ video that was already below the fold within 24 hours makes one wonder if it is all worth it.

All horrifying realities of our hobby aside, Deathwish has done well to add Delfino to the team. He adds some needed pool skills, is clearly willing to sacrifice everything for the footage, has a great eye for one-hitter street spots, and his dumptruck style is a welcome change from the bland precision of many of latest crop of overachieving ams.

Maybe it’s just the concussion footage, but it really seems like Pedro Delfino is skating out of his depth and barely escaping the tricks he is initiating. It is thrilling. Plus, his first ever published photo in a magazine happened to be one of the best Thrasher covers ever.

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Bobby Worrest’s cartographically chronological skate part – Real Street 2018

Like the 411 commercials of old, ESPN’s annual round-up of Real Street skate parts are made to be forgotten. Not extreme enough for the mainstream X-Games home audience, not associated with Thrasher enough to count towards Skater of the Year, not long enough to be considered a full part, not core enough for skating’s core to care, library track music too generic to ever be mistaken for a classic track, and usually the whole minute disregarded out of hand.

Why would skateboarding’s top professionals dedicate precious footage towards such an ephemeral outlet? The prize money, of course. We’re talking an alleged $17,500 Disney dollars for first place, with a solid $2,500 just for entering. Worth a footage dump for sure.

Hidden within the Cobra Coles, Cole Wilsons (two time reigning X-Games Real Street Gold Medalist), and Jumpin Joslins of 2018’s competition we discover Bobby Worrest taking us on a trick filled tour of his previously killed hometown turf. Bobby charges the obstacles of Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza like General Casmir Pulaski charging against the British forces (look it up); But this is more than a one-spot-one-day gimmick.

“So our original idea was to do one long line that’s a minute long through Pulaski [Park],” tells filmer John Valenti. “We filmed our edit during peak summer and it was so hot and Bobby was trying the long, difficult line. It wound up being too much with the heat. We then realized it wouldn’t work after a couple of hours trying. So we settled on a different concept. We planned on starting on one end of the park and beginning each line where the last left off.”

The 6 lines in the part draw a definitive path on the map through the spot starting from the northwest corner and heading east. Ledges, stair sets, and an overturned plastic traffic barrier serve as anchors in the geography, connecting the end of one line to the beginning of the next. The obstacles’ matching spacial orientations gives continuity to the scenery.

It’s a video concept perfectly suited to such a storied skate spot as Pulaski Park. When we watch skate videos, we mostly get distorted images of single obstacles. And even the long-lens establishing shots rarely give us a perspective of the spot as a whole. Even the recent use of drone footage is more often than not disorienting and fails to convey a relatable skaters-eye-view of things. Most spots are legendary not for a single obstacle, but for the collection of great obstacles. While some attempts have been made to convey a larger sense of the landscape (Ricky Oyola’s real time narration of his line through Philadelphia’s City Hall from 411 #13 comes to mind), it is shocking that a concept as obvious as ‘linked lines’ hasn’t been put out there.

Of course, all this high-minded analysis gets us nowhere without the self-assured style of Bobby Worrest. Our familiarity with the image of Bobby skating Pulaski gives a casual confidence to all 17 tricks (I’m including the ollie onto the ledge). The switch pushes and planter ollie invoke the power, mirrored 360 flips over tipped obstacles conjure the Underworld Element nostalgia, and that backside lipslide just overflows with that Worrest nonchalance.

When Bobby kickflips over a handrail and rolls into Pennsylvania Avenue I find myself wishing he had taken a left turn before heading out of the park. Certainly a few more tricks and something on that out-ledge were to be had over towards the General Pulaski statue. But time had run out. John Valenti reveals, “The hardest part was squeezing all the lines together to make sure it was exactly one minute. I wound up filming the view finder from my camera and editing on it to see if we had enough or was over the time limit. We had to re-film two of the lines to get a couple of seconds shaved off.”

As far as I was aware (until some know-it-all on the SLAP Boards pointed out Dane Burman’s 2012 Volcom to the Team clip), Bobby Worrest and John Valenti have delivered the first topographically sequential skate part ever. The jaw dropping yet yawn inducing Miles Silvas One Stop part released 3 months before the Real Street drop similarly draws an unbroken line through the entire part, but the slant with that video is clearly the single unedited 5-minute take. With Silvas’ line in mind one can imagine how a single, relaxed, multi-minute line through Pulaski would feel when compared to what we got. For my money, one long lazy line doesn’t contend.

The constraints of summer heat and a time limit made Bobby’s part something different, something better. It is about a spot, but unlike Worrest’s previous single-spot part at Pulaski, this one places the obstacles within the context of one another. The opening curb hop and final pushes away from the camera place Pulaski Park within DC’s surrounding streets. The progression of tricks chart a path through the plaza and out into the city.

As more and more legendary American skate spots fall under the jackhammer of development and skateboarding intolerance, I find the video preservation of such things all the more crucial to our culture. How could a kid whom has never been to New York understand or appreciate the layout and connection of all the obstacles of the Brooklyn Banks? Is it possible to convey the utterly stupefying architectural layout that was Philly’s City Hall and Love Park being right next to each other? Is there any way for a video to communicate the thrill of skating from Hubba Hideout through EMB and over to Pier 7 in a matter of 3 minutes?

Perhaps not, but videos like Bobby’s Real Street get us as close as possible.

 

Jon Dickson and the embarrassment of riches – Deathwish Part 2

Damn, what a run of high-quality online skate videos it has been in the past two weeks, although mostly released through Thrasher’s website. We had Zion Wright going rail-crazy for Real, Christian Maalouf fakie flipping tables over here for WKND, Erick Winkowski taking the Christ Air to the streets with a board that can only be describes as impractically 80s, Taylor Nawrocki soars up the rankings of my favorite skaters with an ambidextrous single-spot Beastmon part filmed entirely at the Williamsburg Monument (plus, anything Colin Read is involved with is usually gold), and speaking of Nawrocki, Theories of Atlantis gives of four minutes over at Transworld with the Patsy cut.

Did I mention Primitive skateboards released Never the day after Shane O’Neil announced he had quit the team? They did, and its more or less full video with questionable slow-motion and gratuitous drone interstitials to compliment a fantastic non-arena part from Mr. Paul Rodriguez Jr and some very, very heavy footage from Nick Tucker. Then Trent McClung leapfrogs way ahead of both siblings and teammates with a tornado bluntslide.

Plus, even as I write this, new groundbreaking edits of Pedro Barros (oh my god, that’s sick) and Breana Geering are just begging for multiple viewings. Plus probably another dozen or so more decent things were released in that I just didn’t absorb.

So it is easy to feel bad for the Baker Boys. A video like Deathwish Part 2 has every right to stand head and shoulders above the rest and could be the best video of 2018 to date. That such a good video might get buried in the heaps of gold that were released this week is a shame. Even if you remove Lizard King‘s psychedelic interpretation of what’s an acceptable place to land your large drops (apparently right in the middle of a stair set), take away Ellington‘s inward heelflip, ignore Jamie Foy‘s convincing argument for back-to-back SOTYs, disregard Jake Hayes executing another perfect kicklfip, and pretend Neen‘s varial heelflip never happened (also Kirby and Slash’s tricks) and we would still have a part to blog about. Jon Dickson.


Jon Dickson skates like a speeding bulldozer with machines guns mounted on its sides, destroying gaps and tearing pants with the unstoppable force of an Incredible Hulk with sideburns and a man bun. Sure he kickflips into handrail tricks of both the slide and grind variety, and hell yes there’s cabellarials over the bar and into the bank, and of course he casually pops out of that smith grind before the knobbed end (although I’m convinced he would just plow right through that thing), and obviously he can turn a flatground frontside flip over a picnic table into a set-up trick… but the real joy of Jon Dickson in Deathwish Part 2 is the roll aways.

A man of Dickson’s power and density has no business gliding away with such poise. Check the right arm crossing gracefully in front of him. Scope the left arm swinging behind his back like a lazy boat rudder cutting the calm waters of a still lake. His knees are bent like the bank carving surf style skaters of the 1970s. His eyes glancing over his shoulder from the ground to the road ahead with no sign of surprise or shock. Take away the death defiance of the tricks and brawniness of approach and, dare I say it, Jon Dickson is an elegant skateboarder.

Also, look at his legs on that 11-stair switch frontside flip at around 11:30 in the video! Good lord that is insane. Of all the tricks to not get a second slow-motion angle of, why that one?