Tag: "blind"

Warning: The Art of Marc McKee | a book by Winston Tseng

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

My affinity with everything World Industries-related might’ve died with the birth of Flameboy, but there’s no denying the back catalogue. A third of my infatuation came from Rocco’s business model and his marketing schemes, another third from the ridiculous skate talent all World teams contained – but another hefty portion came from Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s incredibly good artwork.

Winston Tseng put together this nice little monologue of McKee’s artwork for Mark Batty Publishing: Winston’s own artwork is worthy of review, as he’s the Art Director at Enjoi skateboards and has created loads of amazing work himself.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

This book isn’t the massive portfolio that it could have been, but it’s a nice portable size: whether you’d risk reading it on the bus is another matter, as there’s plenty of McKee’s confrontational graphic work in here to offend the most stoic of commuters. Fucked Up Blind Kids? Yes. Natas ‘Devil Worship’ board? Henry’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ deck? Yes, yes, yes – they’re all in here and they still look as good as they ever did. I liked the nod to the Randy Colvin ‘Censorship Is Weak As Fuck’ graphic on the cover as well.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

Alongside the board graphics, there are some original sketches (I was amazed how much work went in the Jovontae Turner ‘Napping Negro’ board) and some editorial work for Hustler magazine, which was interesting to see although I can’t say I’d want it framed on the wall.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

The portfolio has been compiled in chronological order, so when you get towards the end of the book, you start encroaching on Devil Man, Flameboy and Wet Willy territory. And to be fair, it’s given a fresh piece of contextual reference: you can see the brand strategy document that details the later years of World’s product licensing. After years of getting under everyone’s feet as the annoying underdog, Steve Rocco, Rodney Mullen, McKee, Cliver and the rest of the crew got the well-deserved last laugh.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

Whilst I still think there needs to be the definitive book about the whole World Industries story published, that’s another topic altogether: in the meantime, this book gives a glimpse into the archives of one of the most important artists in skateboarding’s history.

Data: 96 pages/21.6 x 16.2cm/ISBN: 9781935613237

Blind ‘Video Days’ | skate video

The Blind skate company was formed when Steve Rocco approached legendary street skater Mark Gonzales (AKA The Gonz) to start his own company under the World Industries umbrella. Mark’s previous sponsor, Vision, was regarded as one of the ‘big 5’ companies, generating a lot of money for the owners and shareholders but not necessarily an equal amount for the skaters it sponsored – and whose names kept the Vision products flying off the shelves.

People have analysed the Blind name and come up with their own ideas on the name (perhaps it was the opposite of Vision?), but that’s always been ‘officially’ denied by both Gonz and Rocco. Regardless of any in-jokes or private inspiration, skaters immediately latched onto the fact that one of their long-term icons was now in creative control of his own entity.

And we could hardly wait.

The roster of riders in ‘Video Days’ might have been short, but it was certainly sweet: Guy Mariano, Jordan Richter, Mark Gonzales, Rudy Johnson and Jason Lee. At a period when skate videos were few and far between, to have such a concise team was considered an unusual and brave move, especially for a new company. Established competitors such as Powell Peralta and H-Street would happily make a 90-minute film showcasing 20 different riders and sell it for £20: by comparison, Blind were barely a few years old and ‘Video Days’ featured five riders over 24 minutes – and for £25. The other companies had full-colour VHS cases: ‘Video Days’ had a grey cardboard box with a sticker on it.

If you’ll pardon the pun, in this case, less was clearly more.

Whilst The Gonz’s creativity made Blind a force to be reckoned with in terms of skate companies, there was another big contributing factor to the success of ‘Video Days’.

Enter Spike Jonze. Today, Spike is known for his Hollywood productions and music videos as much as anything else, but ‘Video Days’ was the starting point. With a genuine background in the BMX and skateboarding scenes, Spike was the perfect person to direct Blind’s debut video.

Creating ‘Video Days’ as your first commercial skate film production certainly didn’t do Spike’s resume any harm.

The camera work by Jacob Rosenberg was amazing and upped the ante for all subsequent skate video releases. ‘Video Days’ had an all-star cast, from every angle.

The video kicks off with the Blind team driving around Los Angeles (well, four of them: Jordan Richter is busy rolling down hills, it would seem) in an old blue Cadillac. As they cruise the streets and drive dangerously close to the edge of the freeway, we get to see glimpses of the skating abilities within. And a rather spectacular stack down a large double-set of stairs from Mark Gonzales.

Once the 60-second intro sequence is over, the individual sections begin…

Guy was fresh from the Powell team, along with fellow Blind team-mate, Rudy Johnson, even wearing a Powell ‘Supreme’ t-shirt at various points in his video part.

Skating to the sounds of the Jackson Five, Guy’s section is nothing short of incredible. We’d already had a small taste of his skills in Powell’s ‘Ban This’ video from ‘89, but by ’Video Days’ his skills were honed to perfection.

Riding a board that was almost as big as himself (Guy was 14 when much of the video was shot), he did the first noseblunt slides I’d seen on film, an impossible lipslide on the infamous Hewlett-Packard handrail and some incredible flatground lines. One of the best opening sections of any skate video ever.

Jordan had a short section compared to the rest of the team – and to be fair, he had his work cut out to hold our attentions. Whilst vert ramp skating was the popular style of the ‘80s, by the time ’Video Days’ came out, vert was in a lull and everyone wanted to see street skating. It didn’t help that the person who’d brought him to Blind – ramp genius, Danny Way – had moved on, leaving Richter as the lone ‘ramp guy’ on the team.

That said, his part shows the beginning of the period where vert riders began bringing street-inspired moves to the ramps: nollies, nose manuals and other tricks.

Opening with clips from ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (not to be confused with ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory’…) and skating to John Coltrane, Mark Gonzales produced his first full video section anyone had seen. We’d seen the photos in the magazines of his incredible tricks, but watching them on the TV screen was something else altogether.

There aren’t any highlights: his whole section is outstanding. The first to ollie the infamous Wallenburg steps (see middle picture above here), the handrail manoeuvres, the cruising down the street, the long linked lines of flatland… Nothing had ever been done of this calibre before.

One of the best video sections of all-time.

Having joined Blind from Powell with Guy, Rudy’s section was just as impressive. High speed lines, technical trickery (the manual to 360 flip at Embarcadero being a prime example) and crisp style made Rudy’s section the perfect follow-on from Gonz’s section.

You can tell how good Rudy was by the visible clue that many of his tricks were filmed in the same day: just look for the same clothing in a number of clips.

Another skater who we were used to seeing in the magazines but had little idea just how good he actually was, Jason Lee’s section is still a benchmark twenty years later.

Skating fast, with plenty of big moves, you get to see a number of outstanding tricks in this part. The 360 flip over the sand gap (see above left) is one of the best 360 flips of all time. We’ve heard numerous times that Jason’s part doesn’t actually show just how good he really was. But it was still enough to blow our minds.

The blue Cadillac device continues at the end of the film, with our rowdy skate team grabbing some alcohol and taking to the dirt tracks of Tijuana. Alas, it all ends in tears when they go over the edge of a cliff and crash, resulting in a eulogy-style credits section that could bring a tear to anyone’s eye.

Whilst it seemed pretty clear that it was all a joke, I recall people asking ‘Wow… did they all die?’ after seeing this for the first time.

World Industries | skateboarding and anarchy

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Skate Videos | A Personal Recollection

It’s easy to get caught up in a nasty anachronistic frame of mind when you’re thinking back over your skating past. ‘They don’t make them like they used to’ might ring true for any older skaters, but it’s not really very constructive. I defy any ex-skater to watch ‘Fully Flared’ and say the production values are anything less than perfect and the skating isn’t incredible.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve see a lot of skate videos come and go. Watching the Lakai film made me think about some of my favourite sections of all time. I still have all of my VHS tapes that I bought – original copies of things like Blind’s ‘Video Days’, 101’s ‘Snuff’, Plan B’s ‘Questionable’… obscure stuff like Planet Earth’s ‘Cats Cradle’ or Sims’ ‘The 2nd Coming’… and I still occasionally give them an airing. A lot of them are probably worthless in the DVD age, but when I think back to the days of waiting in the skate shop for the delivery of ‘Tim & Henry’s Pack Of Lies’ to arrive I can remember how much me and my friends were into them. I remember watching the ‘Rubber Boys’ section in Powell’s ‘Public Domain’ and the skate session that happened afterwards. We weren’t any better for having watched it maybe, but in our heads we could do no-complies and 360 shove-its just like Ray Barbee. Same with watching H-Street’s ‘Next’ video: the resulting session at Fairfields was memorable for me. I thought the days of waiting anxiously for a company video to appear had long gone, but Lakai and Habitat have definitely rekindled that flame a little bit in the past year.

With everything uploaded to the ‘net straight away, it’s pretty easy to find something good to watch. I might own the originals to all of these, but it’s nice to take a few minutes during lunch in the office and watch a few of my personal favourite sections. Here’s a few of my favourites (including a few unlikely candidates alongside some expected gems) that I’d like to draw your attention to.

Guy Mariano ‘Mouse’ (Girl Skateboards 1996)

Mariano was always amazing, but this was his first full length section since ‘Video Days’, so it had a lot of high expectations. And, damn, it delivered… The line at the brick banks, his amazing switch skills… Not sure anyone could recreate this entire part even ten years on. If you haven’t already seen it, check his switch frontside shove-it to switch crooked on the handrail during the end credits of the film.

Mark Gonzales and Jason Lee ‘Video Days’ (Blind 1991)

Two of the best skaters ever, in the best skate video ever.
I was there when Gonz did his 180 to fakie 50-50 at the Shell Centre.

The Rubber BoysRay Barbee/Eric Sanderson/Steve Saiz and Chet Thomas ‘Public Domain’ (Powell Peralta 1988)

This is probably the best example of Stacy Peralta’s skill in tracking down ‘unknowns’ and presenting them to the world, along with the LA section in ‘Ban This’ (where the world was introduced to Guy Mariano, Rudy Johnson, Paulo Diaz and Gabriel Rodriguez).
This was at the time of no complies, frontside handrails and skaters taking tricks borrowed from freestyle (kickflips or gazelles, for example) and applying them to street riding.

Daewon Song ‘New World Order’ (World Industries 1993)

Taking what he’d shown in the ‘Love Child’ video and pushing it further, Daewon’s section here is pretty much flawless. Nollie bigspin heelflip on the Beryl school banks? Oof! “He’s the best in the world!”.

Jeremy Wray ‘Second Hand Smoke’/’The Revolution’ and ‘Color’ (Plan B and Color 1994/1995 and 1994)

One of the most underrated skaters of all time, surely. Perfect solid landings, flip tricks down huge sets of stairs, phenomenal pop, amazing style… Watch his frontside 360 roof-to-roof ollie in ‘The Revolution’. Watch the opening line at Carlsbad High in ‘Second Hand Smoke’. Even the opening ollie of his section in ‘Color’ (with a very young-looking Jason Dill in the background) is amazing. Each of these sections is still incredible 15 years later.

‘Second Hand Smoke’

‘The Revolution’

‘Color’

Peter Smolik ‘Fulfill The Dream’ (Shorty’s 1998)

Love or hate his uber-gangsta posturing, you can’t deny that this guy has skills. Some of the stuff he pulled in this section was jaw-droppingly good for the time. Oh, and the track by Mike Czech was nice too.

Henry Sanchez ‘Tim & Henry’s Pack Of Lies’ (Blind 1992)

If you ever skated ledges, you owe this guy some respect. ’92’s Blind video might’ve only been 8 minutes long, but damn it was good. On a sidenote, I’d love to see some more of the ‘lost’ Brian Lotti footage.

Adam McNatt ‘Still Life’ (Evol 1996)

Controversial maybe, but McNatt did some stuff that was way ahead of his time in his video sections. Aside from upsetting loads of people in his Transworld Magazine interview and dragging jump ramps up to handrails, he was also a ninja. Gotta score some extra points for that.

Various 411 Video Magazine sections

411 was an amazing addition to skating. The concept of video magazines was unique at this point and although several other similar projects appeared over the years, 411 owned this genre. The downfall may have began with the advent of streaming video online, but with so many skate companies pushing out free films, people just stopped wanting to pay for these things and dropping £15 every two months just wasn’t going to cut it in this day and age. It’s still around, as a freebie, but it’s the old issues that most of us remember.
Hard to pick just one section to sum up how great it was, so here’s a few of my favourites.

Geoff Rowley, Andy Scott, Rune Glifberg and Tom Penny ‘Flip Industry’ section (411 1995)

‘World Park’ section (411 no.3)

I could go on and on and on… but I’ll leave it for further discussion.
I have missed out way too many other fantastic sections, but this was a spontaneous piece as opposed to a carefully-planned epic. Dig out some of the old videos and see them for yourself.