Been fucking around with a giant bucket-full of old polaroids I have, scanning and destroying them via photoshop and instagram. Just a way of procrastinating bigger projects...
18 April 2015
15 April 2015
I just stumbled on Part 1 of this documentary on the Meaningless of Modern Life. Its pretty right on. I had no idea Australian telly could be this superbly scathing. Watch it and feel like shit about yourself, late-capitalism and its connection to mental and emotional well-being, or lack thereof.
13 April 2015
Even though, I've lived outside of Swansea longer now than I actually lived there in the past, I still consider it home. People still look at me funny when I tell them Langland Bay, Mumbles was once one of the epicenters of Surf/ Skate culture in the UK. Ever since I was about seven years old all I wanted to do was surf and skate because I'd see all the older lads on their way to Langland as they went past my house on Overland Road. It was such a captivating and all-encompassing subculture. I'd spend many an hour staring into the window display of Dave Friar's Surf Shop, dreaming of my first skateboard before I eventually got it thirty-odd years ago.
Anyway, Jonno Atkinson who isn't actually from Swansea but moved there a few years ago, quickly saw the historical significance in the scene and began collecting archived zines, video footage and conducting interviews with some of the key players and put it all together in documentary format, entitled Over Ply Wood (a play on Dylan Thomas' 'Under Milk Wood,' which you should also read). It traces the trajectory from surfers making crude wooden quarter pipes down Langland in the 1960s to the legendary Morfa vert ramp to the late 90s street scene to the current scene centered around Exist Skatepark/ shop. Local scenes may not seem as much of a big deal in this day and age but pre-internet and during skateboarding's intermittent dark ages, they were everything. Needless to say, I'm stoked to have been apart of it. Without it, I'm not sure what the fuck I'd be doing with my spare time...
The above scans are from the accompanying zine which you can order, along with the DVD here:
OVER PLY WOOD.
11 April 2015
I'm still curating front rocks. These are three of my most recent favorites.
The first and perhaps my absolute favourite front rock photo of all time is of Richard Armijo taken in 1981 by CR Stecyk. The frontside rock and roll was supposedly only 'invented' by Eddie 'El Gato' Elguera a little while before this photo was taken. How El Gato even thought the front rock was possible is mind-boggling enough and then to see it pulled with such style by a youngster shortly thereafter is a perfect testimony to what was once skateboarding's dichotomy of accesiblity and exclusivity. You can have this, if you really wanted it. The story goes "Richard Armijo and his pals were kicked out of the skatepark for the last time..." What we have here is a an early version of the backyard half pipe, crew cuts, no frills fashion, two young lads deeply engaged with cutting edge moves, doing things proper for themselves. Its a little different these days. In many ways skateboarding is way more accessible to way more kids but at the same time the level is so ridiculously advanced, most kids on the street can't touch the levels of the pros. Its like being fifteen and seeing a stadium rock band with full pyrotechnics Vs a punk band in your older brother's friend's basement. Which one is going to inspire to start your own band?
Rebellion against stadium rock brings me to the second photo. Deerman of Darkwoods, probably taken sometime within the last year or two in Vancouver BC by Brian Shamanski. Deerman is a member of the secretive and elusive Barrier Kult. The Barrier Kult represents an intentional rebellion against energy drink sponsored stadium contests amongst other commercial raping of modern-day skateboarding. They seek purity through the assault of the 'violent transition' best exemplified by the 'Jersery Barrier.' Through Black Metal, nature worship, obscure horror films, balaclavas, 80s skate equipment and 80s inspired tricks they make their 'ritual.' Not unlike Norwegian Black Metal bands who fetishize their country's pre-Christian history and ancient Nordic traditions, in response to global monoculture. It is a pretentious as all hell but so perfect at the same time. Anyway, Deerman is taking a front rock to a classic Vancouver BC Jersey Barrier. It is a fantastically bleak, black and white photo of the anonymous 'plague-spreader,' with hints of a brighter future breaking through the dark Cascadian clouds in the background.
Finally, we have a recent photo of Tony Hawk in a backyard pool taken by Ray Zimmerman. There is no denying Hawk's contribution to skateboarding and his skill has to be respected by everyone who has ever stepped on a skateboard. However, I have never been a fan. I never liked his style (except his backside ollies which are simply heavenly) and never liked his absurd sponsor list and emphasis on the competitive aspect of skateboarding. In a sense, Tony is the personification of what the Barrier Kult pretend to rebel against (I bet in real-life they'd have a nice time, though). In saying that, when I saw this front rock photo, I quickly dismissed all of that and promptly stopped over-intelectualizing skateboarding. It is simply perfect. In the end satisfaction with the physical act should be enough. Forget the scenes and baggage and work on getting the deck fully lapped and checked and your back big toe ready to pivot you back in for re-entry. Its the best thing in the world.
31 March 2015
I was introduced to Godspeedyoublackemperor far too late, of course, in 2000. Y2K was anticlimactically over and done with but street politics were still charged with post-WTO energy. It was also an appropriate dark time in my life. Not just dark emotionally and mentally but also literally as I was working overnights shifts. 830pm until 9am. The only people I had much interaction with were other damaged souls working the night shift. I did not realize until a while afterwards how harmful the night shift can be on one's already fragile mental health.
I worked in a homeless shelter for young people and needless to say I was vicariously traumatized with their trauma and by being on the front-line of Portland's street culture, which was a very different beast to what it is today. Late one night one of my co-workers and I decided to start trading CDs. I soon realized our individual versions of 'punk' were very different but I always gave Dave's music a solid listen anyway. One night, he gave two Godspeedyoublackemperor discs. "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada" and "F#A#∞."
And it was one of those moments where you find the perfect soundtrack for the time and for what you are going through. I can only say that about a handful of bands. Dave Od'd and died shortly after I returned his CDs to him. He had mentioned that he liked to see where the line was and how close he could get to crossing it. I did not really know how to respond to such a statement at the time. I don't really associate GSYBE with Dave or his death but undoubtedly they share a theme of dramatic attempts at personal liberation. Extreme highs and lows in the desire to navigate one's own way on one's own terms through this spectacle of everyday life, instead of playing the assigned roles. Beauty from the filth. A soundscape for late-capitalism malaise. Cracks in the facade. Knowing looks between us.
I had planned on writing a mini-treatise on GSYBE and the combination of personal and political in their music but fuck it, give their new album a listen. Let the world end again and again, until the day we don't need this band anymore...
'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress'
29 March 2015
23 March 2015
AK Press and 1984 Printing have started Fire Recovery Funds after a fire tore through their building on the weekend. 1984 did an amazing job printing the sound issue of Foulweather. Throw them some support if you are so inclined.
If you make a donation, let me know and I will send you a free zine.
If you make a donation, let me know and I will send you a free zine.