Work From Home is a new vertical dedicated to life and culture in the strange and unprecedented situation of self-quarantine that many of us are dealing with right now. From what to watch to how to get a fit off and how to not think about anything, this is our guide to the great indoors. For updates on the spread of Covid-19 and how to keep yourself safe and informed, consult WHO and the CDC.
For such a visual culture, skateboarding’s collective attention span has been drastically reduced in the nonstop content era. One day you’re sneaking in a viewing of Baker 4 during work breaks and the next day you’re arguing about which @versace_plug clip that just came out is better—until something else appears on your Instagram feed.
From full-lengths to Instagram videos, skate media on the whole is still snackable. Anything close to an hour is considered an opus. At one hour and 24 minutes, Supreme’s Blessed feels like a flex.
With millions around the globe doing their part to stop the spread of Covid-19, what better time than now to brush up on classic skate clips both long and short? Below you’ll find a scattered selection of full-lengths, edits, documentaries, outtakes, and things that are sorta just tangential to skateboarding. More than collections of tricks, each of the selections below offers a different dive into the personality of skateboarding and how each take illuminates the sport and the culture’s attitude in completely different forms, mediums, and voices.
Video Days: Behind The Blind Video (2003)
For an entire generation of skaters, Blind Video Days remains the most watched, name-checked and important videos ever created. At 24-minutes long, the Spike Jonze-filmed production was an outlier when it released. At the time, most brands followed Powell Peralta’s long-form model.
Anchored by Mark Gonzales and Jason Lee, Video Days offered a mix of power, abstraction, and irreverence along with Rudy Johnson and Guy Mariano’s first full solo parts as well as the team’s “token vert rider” Jordan Richter. Roughly 10 years after its release, the now-defunct On Video released a documentary roughly the same length as the video, titled Video Days: Behind The Blind Video.
While it’s missing Gonzales’ commentary—he’s notoriously wary of talking about the past—Lee fills the void, with a young Paul Rodriguez and Jereme Rogers offering the perspective of the then “newer” generation. Rather than the typical “it was so sick” commentary, the doc provides context and backstory from the creators and those impacted by it.
Watch Video Days: Behind The Blind Video above.
Krooked Skateboards – Gnar Gnar (2007)
Intentionally aloof, Krooked Skateboards’ Gnar Gnar dropped in 2007 amidst an industry transition between DVDs and online content, opting for a VHS release. While it quickly popped up on file-sharing sites in shoddy resolution, Gnar Gnar existed virtually as a rumor until Deluxe started digitizing its catalog circa 2017.
Filmed mostly by Sam Salganik on vintage camcorders, the video features Krooked mainstays Bobby Worrest, Dan Drehobl, Mark Gonzales, and the late Van Wastell, but the hidden gem is the raw Alex Olson footage documented by Salganik. Seeing a young flanneled AO power through streets and jenky parks is the perfect compliment to the loose “film what you get” vibe of Gnar Gnar.
Hit play to watch Gnar Gnar in full above.
Eli Morgan Gesner – Concrete Jungle (2015)
In 2015, a now-deleted YouTube user named Skaten DeStroy uploaded a rough-cut of a documentary titled Concrete Jungle narrated by Rosario Dawson. As the first talking head on camera, KRS-One boldly announces: “The skateboard community has already said with a loud and clear voice, ‘we are part of the hip-hop community.’” From there, it’s a bit of a zig-zagging narrative, detailing skating’s long-standing relationship with its California hardcore punk roots and the inner-city introduction of hip-hop.
The rough cut is attributed to Zoo York co-founder Eli Morgan Gesner who told me in 2015 that he was approached to create the doc in 2007 but production folded roughly a year later. Despite the project never coming to fruition, Morgan’s deep knowledge and overall access led to a diverse cast taking part in the project including Tommy Guerrero, Natas Kaupas, Chad Muska, Tony Hawk, Andy Howell, Paul Rodriguez, Stevie Williams, Terry Kennedy, Curren$y, Jim Jones, Pharrell, Prodigy (RIP), and more, reflecting on an era where rap music was the outlier in skateboarding and as more than one interviewee points out, was seen as “some white boy shit.”
Interestingly, Gesner has been teasing a new doc he narrates, directed by Jeremy Elkin focused on a similar subject titled All the Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding (1987-1997). While you wait for that to release, watch Concrete Jungle above.
Vision Streetwear – Mondo Vision (1989)
Released in 1989 as lookbook meets “action sports demonstrational video,” Vision Streetwear’s Mondo Vision is a time capsule of a confusing era in skateboarding, BMX and streetwear. Often omitted from streetwear’s lineage, Vision Streetwear was one of the first mass-marketed brands that permeated pop culture, eventually saturating the suburbs via discount clothing chains, losing their city-life street credibility in the process.
Mondo Vision may have hit the rental racks of video stores in ’89 but some of the footage was culled as far back as the mid-’80s. The video opens with what is ostensibly Mark Gonzales’ first video part, titled “Gonzo Goes to New York.” Filmed in 1987 by Shut Skateboards pro Jeremy Henderson, Gonzales skates through NYC’s most iconic landmarks, including the Brooklyn Banks, logging some of the longest and earliest handrail tricks.
Fun fact: Henderson became the de facto lens operator since Vision’s camera crew was scared to navigate the streets with $80,000 worth of Betamax equipment.
VHS Days Episode 04: Harold Hunter In Mixtape (2014)
Part of a series narrated by Billy Rohan on Jenkem Magazine titled “VHS Days” in 2013/2014, the Harold Hunter Zoo York Mixtape episode offers free-flowing storytelling that illuminates a legend. Rohan’s commentary shuns the mechanics of the footage or spot history, opting to dig back into the moments that made Hunter’s impression so deep and cherished.
With no lack of stories, quotes and milestones, Rohan offers a six-minute-crash course on Hunter’s importance without sugar coating or embellishing. “He was the mascot of Manhattan. He never wanted to go to Brooklyn,” Rohan says, “You’d take him to Williamsburg and he’d be like, ‘This is a whites-only neighborhood.’”
Powell Peralta – The Search for Animal Chin (1987)
From Skateboard (1978) to Mid-90s (2018), Hollywood has tried in earnest to capture what’s inspiring about skateboarding. These films nearly always fall short, however, due to the disconnect between how skateboarding feels and how it translates as a narrative. By way of example: some people slappy a curb as a release while others do it for the act of doing it. It’s almost too personal to boil down into three acts.
Rather than try to make the perfect movie, Stacy Peralta’s The Search for Animal Chin uses a fictitious character as a metaphor and his Powell Peralta team riders as the vehicle to convey the eternal “quest for stoke.” Even at the time of filming, the team knew it was corny but also played along, allowing Peralta to create a film that has as much cringe as accidental cool.
The Search For Animal Chin is enjoyable kitsch filled with references that resonate today, like an abundance of beat-up Air Jordan 1s and Steve Caballero’s Misfits “Crimson Ghost” tee which Peralta scolded him for wearing since it wasn’t an “approved Powell Peralta product.”
BEAGLE Tapes: Episode 06 – Antwuan Dixon
As Baker/Deathwish Skateboards’ visual documentarian, Ryan “Beagle” Ewing has captured skate history and logged the craziness that occurs in the streets of Los Angeles and the caverns of suburban schoolyards. His eye for antics has become his hallmark as much as trick angles and early in 2020, Beagle blessed us with his BEAGLE Tapes series, consisting of raw footage from the Baker Gang and others.
The work, the makes, the outtakes, cheerleading, and the commentary are infectious, painting each session as an almost precious capsule cut with humor and flamboyance. Episode 06 pulls from his hundreds if not thousands of hours of archive footage and focuses on the mesmerizing grace and control of Antwuan Dixon.
Green Apple Skate Shop – “Gang Green” (2018)
Although Green Apple Skate Shop’s best work lives offline or as low-resolution videos on YouTube, the collective/store’s imprint on modern skate videos is as undeniable as it is widely unknown. Consistently name-checked by Bronze 56K’s Peter Sidlauskas, Green Apple Skate Shop’s style of leveraging found footage, pop culture flips, and unusual soundtrack choices honed an early-internet pastiche style of editing Bronze 56K took to the masses.
Based in Winnipeg, Canada with a roster of under-exposed rippers, the group’s output provides a true outsider perspective, wrapped in something odd yet relatable. Released in 2018 via Thrasher Magazine, “Gang Green” continues the tradition of unconventional with a snappy avant mix of eclectic skating and editing. Watch it above.
Action East – Along The Eastern Edge (1986)
Viewing Along the Eastern Edge for the first time, I was fixated on every pixel of its Ed Koch-era NYC skate footage. The city’s streets are barren and devoid of color, save the graffiti and garish clothing worn by many of the skaters, including Mike Vallely who appears in most of the segments.
While the vert and demo footage will no doubt hold your attention, it’s the impromptu street jams and freestyle sessions set to Run-DMC and the charging of dirty loading docks to Oingo Boingo that look so bleak and apocalyptic to the point of surreality that give this video its edge.
Clocking in around 52 minutes, the video presents East Coast skating as an almost combative performance art, even when it’s bound to a crowded ramp in a suburban barn. If you’ve never watched Along the Eastern Edge, do yourself a favor and hit play above.
Fancy Lad – “Is This Skateboarding” (2016)
Fancy Lad videos are skateboarding’s equivalent of backyard wrestling—DIY, overacted, bizarre, and laced together with originality and skill. Is This Skateboarding plays as both parody and reality, which makes the warm-beer buzz of Fancy Lad even more intoxicatingly obtuse. There is no formula, no concept, no good or bad ideas, just neurotic impulses stitched together by a land of misfit toys troupe who can skate as well or as poorly as they desire, sometimes simultaneously.
Punk but not problematic, the video does have actual parts, including a dizzying section from “Rodney Mullen on Bath Salts,” AKA Matt Tomasello. Founding Lads, Nick “Big” Murray and Colin Fiske seem to create by borrowing, breaking convention, and throwing the entire thing into a culture blender that’s yet to be cleaned. You have to see it to understand it.