First off, I think it’s important to have sponsored skaters who dedicate a good amount of their life to skateboarding. Skating at a high level is a time consuming process. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that to skate at a competitive level takes on average 5 to 8 hours of practice a day through childhood, the teen years, and as an adult. If people want longevity and more recognition with skateboarding far into the future it needs people to constantly expand the boundaries of what’s possible. Sponsored skateboarders sometimes give up opportunities for education, or don’t take the time to learn a trade or a skill. I remember vaguely reading this online or in a mag so my stats could be wrong, but I don’t think they are that far off range. Basically there are fifteen top pros who are millionaires, about thirty pros after that that make roughly $300,000 a year, maybe the next thirty pros making around $90,000, maybe the next fifty pros making about $40,000 and then thousands of hopeful skaters couch surfing trying to get into the industry. None of the skateboard companies provide insurance to their riders, so a serious injury can quickly end a career. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the negative influences sponsored skaters deal with, because ‘The Deathwish Video’ from Baker Distribution came out. They are the company that highlights the party ‘hesh’ lifestyle. So this entry in a weird way (I can already tell this will have too many words) will review ‘The Deathwish Video’ and will also be a rant on skateboarding.
Baker a few years ago had a shirt or slogan advertisement that simply read, ‘Skate Every Day, Drink Every Night.’ If someone that never skated before saw this they might think it’s funny, or no different from a lot of spoof shirts. As a skater in my mid thirties, I’ve known skaters that chose excess in my personal life. And I’ve read about numerous talented skaters in their teens that don’t reach their skate potential because party mode takes over their priorities. Alcohol and drugs, mostly marijuana, are things that skaters are perhaps surrounded by too much at an early age. Kids or teens see the Baker guys or DGK skaters in party mode, and they think it’s something to aspire to. Andrew Reynolds who went through AA, so is sober himself, in an Epicly latr’d episode explained showing footage of partying on some tour as that it happened, that it is documenting their lifestyle, and to not do so would be fake in a way. I guess we live in a content driven world online where everything needs to be documented about celebrities, and to the skate world pro skaters are treated like celebrities. I just think there is a danger to promote excess as part of a lifestyle to skateboarding to the young kids.
Jackass, the television show and then the movies, kind of took the censorship away from skateboarding. The popularity of that show coincided with the rise of popularity with skating, but I never liked it. After watching a little bit of it I found it mean spirited and negative. I don’t think it helped the outside world’s perception of skating. The Baker skaters are way more focused on skating and legit compared to the Jackass crew, but I think all their constant use of lifestyle footage was influenced by Jackass, and definitely the predecessor to that World Industries in the 1990’s. Of course I’m against censorship, but one has to wonder if skateboarding was cookie cutter clean like mainstream sports if even more acceptance would come our way.
Enough of my preaching and now I’ll get to my review of ‘The Deathwish Video.’ Lizard King is a charismatic skater that looks like he’s lived the life. In a previous video at one point he wore a shirt that said ‘666,’ so he’s out there. He has the first part on it’s the longest amount of footage I’ve seen of him. It’s a two-song part, seeing the credits the songs are from GG Allen, a punk rocker I’ve seen named in Thrasher, but never listened too. Lizard King has an original style. Way back in 2012 in the Almost video Daewon Song introduced to the skate world a kick-flip down a double set to firecracker. A firecracker is going down multiple steps on your back wheels in a clunk clunk clunk way. I was amazed seeing Daewon Song do this down a small double set. In Deathwish, Lizard King, takes that trick and makes it gnarly. He does a kickflip to step firecracker down like a five-foot drop. Also Lizard King does some really big drops, and does a switch roast beef grab (?) down like a twelve stair. His part was anticipated and I think he meet or exceeded the expectations.
Erik Ellington skates to a rad Alice Cooper song. All the baker guys have great frontside kickflips and Ellington’s are one of the best. I counted three impossibles in this part. This confirms that impossibles are back and legitimate to do regularly. Erik Ellington also does a pressure flip down a huge drop. Pressure flips were in vogue for a season, I think fall of 1991, and are known as a dorky flatland trick done low to the ground. I’ve never seen a huge pressure flip like that. Erik Ellington and The Moose both do a frontside kicklip lipslide on sizable rails. I don’t think I’ve seen that done in a video either. Neen Williams has solid heelflips. Neen Williams does heelflips unlike anyone else. His front foot points out like a shifty.
Jim Greco has an amazing part that is gnar and tech. He does really big drops, and long rails. He also does a switch kickflip boardslide down a sizable rail. On a bank to bench he does a tre flip to darkslide. Down like a ten stair he does a fakie big heel. Down a long rail he does a switch 270 flip to board slide. I don’t know if it will be discussed like Guy Mariano’s switch tre to nose grind at the end of Pretty Sweet, but I think Jim Greco’s rail was much longer for a similar trick. Jim Greco ends his part with switch darkslides down a low rail. I was really impressed with both Jim Greco and Erik Ellington’s part because of their level and I think both are in their mid thirties.
Jim Dickson has the last part, and it’s good. The ender is this ridiculous ollie off a roof into a bank. He takes some bone crushing slams before they show the make. It’s interesting that they end his part with a gnar trick. It shows that this company is about going for it. In 2011 they released the Shake Junt Video, in 2012 they released Bake and Destroy, and now they have this video, The Deathwish video. Other companies are taking four or more years to release a video. This company, if you like their image or not, is making them quicker and that is why they are constantly on the radar. Not every trick in this video is perfect, and some of the landings are sketchy, but they are fun to watch with good soundtracks, and good skating.
I hope I wasn’t too judgmental on this entry, but I think adult skaters should have the discussion on how to be role models to the younger generation.