Top 5 skate video parts of all time

There are things that are good.  A movie that made you laugh or action-packed, or maybe a song that has a good solid beat to jam to; something that keeps you entertained for a solid period of time.

Then, there are things that are great.  Something that has an impact on your life.  A song that instantaneously triggers the senses captured in a particular memory.  That scene in a movie that leaves you with goosebumps, provokes a heavy emotion, and challenges your normal process of thinking.  It’s the urge to escape, trying to navigate life in your mid-twenties, staring at a beautiful spring sunset across the Cascade Mountains in Seattle’s Central District as the piano riff of Kanye West’s “Runaway,” plays in the background, or how I subconsciously throw out Forrest Gump quotes years after the movie was released, something I imagine I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

And as any avid skateboarder will tell you, nothing gets you stoked for a day of skating like a good skate video.  A respectable video part gets the juices flowing, warms you up before you even get to the skate park, and makes you nod your head in approval.  But there are a few parts out there of which I can tell you the exact time and place I was when I first saw it, where not just the skating was great, but the music, style and personality of the skater/video all meshed to create something special.  A part that would inspire me to go bigger, harder and faster than I did the day before.  A part that made you and your friends jump up and down uncontrollably, screaming “Ohhhhhhhh” when the final hammer was stuck.

Something I would watch over and over again, each time with the thought, “someday, that could be me.”

So, in honor of Go Skateboarding Day, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the top 5 video parts of all time.  Understanding that this list is very subjective, and that the reasons for including these parts are very personal to me, there may be some debate as to which parts are actually the best.  However, putting that aside, and keeping the time periods and skill levels in perspective, low and behold, are my top 5 skateboarding video parts of all time.

5. Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein, The End. Birdhouse Skateboards, circa 1997.

“Oh man, I popped the fattest ollie going down that hill, I was going so fast…” said Austin Moody as he described his mad dash back to his house.  It was the first day we had hung out since his return from a summer in Louisiana, and already we were finding ourselves in a heap of trouble.

Austin and I had spent a considerable amount of time at Mary Carter’s house that afternoon, chatting away and trying to impress her with our terrible jokes and foolish, teenage ways.  Mary Carter was, in all respects, a huge babe, stealing the hearts of nearly every teenage boy in Asotin High School’s Freshman class, and while we were busy drooling over Mary, I had totally spaced the fact that I was supposed to attend Jim Stuck’s Eagle Scout Ceremony.  Having received the message from my sister, Moody immediately skipped town to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with my parents.

On and on he went, telling me how I was going to be in “So much trouble,”and how sorry he was.  The sympathy only lasted a day, blaming me for the whole thing afterwards.  However, as a consolation for my potential grounding, or maybe the fact that he simply forgot to take it with him in his flurry, he lent me his VHS copy of, “The End,” my very first skate video experience.

And what an eye-opening experience it was!  There were goofs, pranks, and most importantly, skateboarding—lots of it.  Monumental for its time and filmed entirely on 16mm film when most skateboarders barely had the funds for Sony Handycam quality, it was my first real exposure to skateboard culture.

Andrew Reynolds’ part blew my mind with his frontside flip over a 13-stair handrail (more on him later).  Tony Hawk, arguably the most famous/influential skateboarder of all time rounded the video off with an epic vert ramp session in the middle of a bull ring that included “The Loop.”  But to me, the stand out part in that video was Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein’s skate excursion through the streets of LA in Gucci suits.

Starting with them living out the many negative stereotype associated with skateboarders and bearing no apologies, the two drive a van from spot to spot like a couple of hooligans, crashing into things along the way with total disregard to the law (my favorite is when they drive the van down the El Toro stair set), until the van blows up and they “die.”  From there, it takes them into a heavenly dream sequence, living the high life surrounded by babes in a giant mansion and playing Goldeneye until they decide to go an epic skate adventure.  With David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” as their song of choice, they take to the streets, dressed to impress and using a giant ramp to skate over obstacles that would normally seem unfathomable.

The two meet their untimely end however when they negligently light themselves on fire with a cigar and a bottle of booze and are forced to skate off a long dock into the ocean to relieve themselves.

Though the part can be seen as promoting anarchy, I see it as a blend of wit, creativity, and gnarly skating, and will always be one of those parts I remember from my early days of skateboarding.

4. Daewon Song, Round 3. Almost Skateboards, circa 2005.

As far as influential skateboarders go, Rodney Mullen is among the top of the list.  He is credited with inventing almost every flip trick seen in street skating.  During his prime (and arguably to this day), his abilities on a board were on whole other level when compared to the rest of the field.  Nobody could touch him, but Daewon Song was always around to give it the ol’ college try.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Mullen and Song came up with a string of videos, cleverly titled “Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song,” rounds 1 through 3.  Although Daewon Song was an accomplished skater with a creative style, it seemed as though he could never quite keep up with Rodney.  His tricks were quality, and his effort was well and good, but each time they’d face off, the consensus among the skate community (at least among me and my friends) was that Rodney Mullen would always be the greater skater.

In Round 3, that all changed.  Daewon beat Rodney, hands down.

In Round 3, Daewon solidified himself as one of the most creative, technically adept skaters of all time.  His combination of flip to grinds to manuals and his willingness to huck himself between roofs and other dangerous gaps put him on top once and for all.  And using one of the best songs from the 2000’s, the spirit of the times really shines as the music pushes the intensity of each trick combination up into the song’s climax.  At the very end, you’re left wondering what else can be accomplished on a skateboard.

Today at over 40 years old, Daewon continues to discover new ways to advance skateboarding with new trick combinations and ways of interpreting the sport.  Every time I watch this part, I’m reminded of the potential skateboarding has, and that there’s always some other aspect that nobody has looked at, waiting to be unlocked.

I’m reminded that the possibilities are endless.

3. Mike Mo Capaldi, Fully Flared. Lakai Shoes, circa 2007.

It blows my mind to think how fast time has passed, that 10 years ago, I was finishing up my final semester of college, ready to face a world full of opportunity, a place ready to be explored and conquered.  Some might say it was the cliché indoctrination thrust upon college graduates skewing my optimism.  But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say it had more to do with Mike Mo’s part from Fully Flared.

From what I consider as possibly the best skate video of all time (although it would have to duke it out with Chomp on This), it’s hard to actually pick a single part from Fully Flared that stands out above the rest. Having been instrumental in the evolution of the modern skate videos by combining the highest quality of skateboarding and video production, Fully Flared was Spike Jonze’s masterpiece, starting with the most epic intro to a skate video that will ever be made (as in, nothing will top it… ever).

Each part seems to complement each other with its unique perspective on the sport, making it that much harder to declare a part as truly the best. Though my personal favorite may be Brandon Beibel’s part with his gangsta steez and huge muscles (starting around the 47:40 mark), looking at the video from an overall standpoint, Mike Mo skating behind the Arcade Fire’s “No Cars Go” ultimately takes the cake.  His style and skill level backed behind the energetic beat really captured the attitude of the skate scene in the late 2000’s—representing a changing of the guard you might say.  It set the tone for a new era of skateboarding, with Mike Mo at the forefront.

At a minimum, I encourage you to watch the intro that transitions into Mike Mo’s part, right after he does a switch flip over an exploding set of stairs (no joke, you need to watch if you’ve never seen it).  But if you have a chance, take the time to sit down watch the video in its entirety.  At over 10 years old, it is still the standard of how great skate video are made.

Andrew Reynolds, Stay Gold. Emerica Shoes, Circa 2010.

Andrew Reynolds—one of the legends of the sport.  Known as “The Boss” and the king of the frontside flip, his style is distinct, incorporating flips and technical tricks down large gaps and stair sets, all the while making them look basic.  Tricks simply become twice as incredible when he’s performing them.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him skate, pulling a cabilariel over a rail and down a 12 stair drop in “The End,” and continuing his onslaught of flip tricks down stair sets and in and out of slides.  Instantaneously, he became my favorite skater.

For these reasons, he has enjoyed a long and storied career in an industry where success is often fleeting.  After a breakout video part, the pressure is on for amateurs and pros alike to step up their game.  The audience, for better or worse, expects harder tricks down bigger gaps and rails—a tall order for any skater new to the industry.  Reynolds had no problem delivering for most of his career, but like any athlete, the window of success can be short, and age quickly becomes a factor in your ability to perform, especially north of 30.

Thus, even with his proven track record, questions inevitably began to surface with Reynold’s skill level and whether he could maintain it or not. It’s not uncommon for a popular skater to get the coveted final part in a video, regardless of whether he deserves it or not.  Even I asked myself a similar question when his name flashed across the screen the first time I watch Emerica’s “Stay Gold.”  New talent was emerging, and the trends suggested they were quickly surpassing the veterans.

“Will he get the last part in the video just because of his name recognition?”  The answer—a resounding “no.”  He deserved it, and then some.

The calming musical selection in his intro nearly tells the entire story. It was known that Reynolds’ career would begin to wind down.  Sure, he’d still be a pro, and he could sell plenty of boards, but you can only keep up with the fresh legs for so long.  After a career full of fame, partying, drugs, and turmoil, here was a man, clean, mature, and wise, giving it his all one last time before passing the torch.

Nearly half of the tricks performed could be considered enders for any ordinary part.  He revisits the legendary spots of his past video parts and takes it a step further. Each trick is crisp and carefully selected, taking thought, time and care to ensure that not only the trick was landed, but that it was well thought out and performed cleanly.  It was as if he knew the significance of this part and how important it was not only for him, but to the entire skateboard community.

What we were left with was exactly everything we needed, and absolutely nothing we didn’t—truly a memorable experience from start to finish. This was Andrew Reynold’s Magnum Opus, a showcase of his gift to the world.

It’s quite possibly the closest thing we’ll ever get to a perfect part.

Honorable Mentions:

A couple more parts that didn’t quite make the list, but are still worth mentioning and checking out if you have the chance.

Rodney Mullen – Second Hand Smoke

PJ Ladd – PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life

Xeno Miller – Enrolling in the Middle Class

Arto Saari – Sorry or Menikmati… or Minefield (or pretty much anything Arto Saari)

 

 

1. Jamie Thomas, Misled Youth. Zero Skateboards, Circa 1998.

“Jess… Jess!  Mute Grab!” It was the last thing I remember saying. A day later, I awoke, laying in a hospital bed with no knowledge of the events that had succeeded the infamous line…

I had tried my hardest to convince him, but the prospect of a killer mute grab into the Snake River up past Buffalo Eddy just wasn’t enough to break his attention from his girlfriend (of which to this day I still can’t understand, but oh well).  So, I tried harder, and harder, and… apparently, I tried too hard, for as Shaun Walters described it, I slipped and fell head first, landing on a pile of rocks 15 feet below before sliding into the river.

What ensued were lots of tears, lots of payers, and a two-week hospital stay. After it was all said and done, Thor had jumped in after me to pull me out, an off-duty nurse, who just happened to be at the same beach as us, took care of me until the ambulance came, and Jon Shaw was forced to drive my squirrely, 85 Buick Regal back to my house.

Oh, and the whole thing could be blamed on Jess.

The good news was, I recovered with only minor long-term effects (I mean, there’s probably a little memory loss or brain damage here or there, but I’m not sure which memories they are, so I’m not going to ever worry about it!). The bad news, I couldn’t skateboard, for over a month.  And for an avid 18-year-old skater, it was absolute torture.

So, every night, I’d sit in my basement and watch Jamie Thomas’s part from Misled Youth.

Hearing the opening keyboard loop of Baba O’Riley fade in still gives me chills to this day.  It was the sound of hope; the sound of inspiration.  My heart would pound as I’d watch Thomas walk up the Hollywood High stair set holding his busted head with the greatest rock song of all time playing in the background.  In a way, it was like he was subtly telling me, “Don’t worry, we’re going to make it through this.  It’s going to be good.  Real good…”

What ensued was an onslaught hammers, trick after trick down the biggest stair sets and baddest rails of the day.  Not only did he go big, but he had the technical variety to back up his style. The lipslide down the blue Rincon rails that led to a six-foot drop, the benihana down the long double set, kickflip down the Macba 4 block… tricks nobody in their right mind would consider even attempting at the time.  In under 5 minutes, Jamie Thomas opened our eyes to a new style of skating.

And then came the slow-mo section.  Just when we thought our minds couldn’t be any more blown, The Doors “The End” fades in and Thomas proceeds to execute another round of bangers, bigger and crazier than the one’s before.  The nosegrind down the 14-stair that he bailed on earlier with a raised fist to the giant backside 180 over the rail and down the Rincon drop, the smith down the 18-stair, backside lipslide down Hollywood High… my jaw would lock in the open position as I’d watch him perform each feat, my body completely frozen as if I had peered into the eyes of Medusa.  And the perfect 5-0 down the huge white rail, only for Thomas to shake his head in disappointment and lift his finger so he could go back and do it, “one more time?” Classic.  A textbook example of how to put together a bangers section.

Nowadays, there are plethora of skaters who “go big,” but 20 years ago, that number was slim.  Nobody went big, at least not like Jamie Thomas.  He was the pioneer, starting with the infamous Leap of Faith and taking it a step further in Misled Youth.  When others had only a handful of tricks they could do down big gaps and rails, Jamie had all the bases covered, and for years, his part in Misled Youth was the standard for final video parts.

To this day, his part has stood the test of time, cementing Jamie Thomas as one of the GOAT’s of the sport.  It’s a part I will never forget… a part that inspired a battered and broken teenager to get back on his board; one that gave him so much hope 15 years ago.

***

Maybe I’m becoming a bit of a curmudgeon in my older years, but I can’t help but think of the rise the digital age and how a skater’s newest part can be viewed with a few clicks at your computer.  Though beneficial beyond a doubt, I often wonder if young skaters these days understand the significance of the skate video, if they’ll ever have the same appreciation me and my friends did when videos were harder to come by.

At the same time, I occasionally go back to watch these old videos online, recalling the days when my life revolved around a board.  “I’ll be a skater for the rest of my life,” I’d say in total confidence, back when the world was a much simpler place.  Now, I admittedly find myself scoffing when I see a group of skaters at a spot, even going as far as to sympathize with those kicking them out. “Am I this out of touch with the scene?” I ask myself.  Perhaps it’s just a part of growing up.

However, with all that has changed in the nearly 20 years since I picked up a board, the memories I have while skating, some of the best of my entire life, will forever remain, even if I don’t get out and skate like I used to. The youthful spirit captured in skateboarding has always been constant.

Whenever I revisit these old videos, I’m reminded of that.

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