If You Want to Sing Out – The End of a Pro Skate Career and It’s Inevitable Product.

I’ve always likened the end of a pro skate career to the description of vampire death given by Cory Feldman’s character in The Lost Boys, Edgar Frog, “Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.”
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Sometimes a vampire will implode and similarly sometimes an old pro skater, who never got involved with a marketing agent, who’s sponsors have revised their strategy, or gone out of business, might panic and decide it’s high time they capitalized on the haunting beauty they can surely craft out of their innate musical talent. Talent they’ve been roughly developing in Waffle House parking lots for the last ten years. And so we did.

We recorded 3 melodic stories that spilled from the soul and the resulting sound, that poured almost automatically through fingertips and larynx, is manly, rustic and inspiring. The accompanying bespoke lyric cards have been exquisitely illustrated by Melbourne based Salvador Gnarly. They are little things of beauty.

Gull Population as Yardstick for Viral Nature of Humanity is an ode to Aberdeen, Scotland, where Mum lives and old friends live and where the old man, old friends and little sister lived. It is a celebration.

2nd Option 3 headed gull_clipped

Dragons and Things tells the story of a young boy who finds himself in a battle that he must win or relinquish his childhood. And the rest.

2nd option Dead Medusa_clippedWorf Sails his Boat imagines the lovable serenity-challenged Klingon Chief of Security as a young boy in Belarus. The story explores the reasons why security officers are often such assholes. It’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.

2nd Option Klingon Child_clipped

All proceeds from sales of the Vava Records X Predatory Bird Sound in Print project will of course help fund the currently fetal Predatory Bird rap album and/or the next run of comics.

The PB Comic gets Physical!

the comics float into spaceIn light of recent activity in Vatican City we feel the world has never been more perfectly primed for the release of our first edition print run of THE PREDATORY BIRD COMIC.

Here’s a list of fun background info regarding the comic:

  • Set in the aftermath of a family death the tale takes our kid on his inevitable, abject, journey through the grieving process.
  • Luckily the world he inhabits contains a constant array of encouraging beacons to guide him through the dark times; these are all the vibrant characters and details that create and symbolize our culture of the wooden toy.
  • The collaboration with Jon Horner was initially sparked by a shared disquiet regarding the Frankensteinian biomechanoid feline nightmare that is Orville the Cat Helicopter.
  • The gulls are our reminder to be realistic. No matter how nice we’d like life to be, life is, as the great orator Nasty Nas has explicitly stated, a bitch.
  • If you’re trying to come up with a big word to describe the PB comic and you hit upon “phantasmagorical” then give yourself a round of applause because seriously, that is a fantastic word.
  • The good folks at Thrasher Magazine were kind enough to print the story over the course of a year or so.
  • This edition of the Comic is for sale here and also here.
  • In the unlikely event of any profit being generated exactly half will be sent to Jon.

A Bunch of Amateurs

Fate recently returned me to the Skatepark of Tampa. On this occasion I would be attending the 2013 Tampa Am contest.
The night before the trip I became filled with a desire to capture some of the action so I stood in the front room with my camera and tossed a wild thing up towards the ceiling. If the built in flash on the little Lumix could freeze the motion of this fierce stuffed beast then photographing a back nose blunt in a dimly lit Florida warehouse would be child’s play, or at least an approximation thereof.
wild thing 1
Nailed it!
wild thing 2
Upon arriving at the Skatepark of Tampa I found Kevin Wilkins of The Skateboard Mag reflecting on the absurd injustice of it all.
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And Colin Kennedy, Nike SB Europe’s dream manager, remaining stoic.
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It didn’t take too long to track down a back nose blunt. Aha! See! The onboard flash can do it! On closer inspection you’ll find that if your ISO is maxed out it gives it that sand-sculpture look. Perfect for Instagram.
cameraflashThen Jon lent me an external flash unit.
flashguruI sought out fresh meat. One of the most gifted technical street skaters of our time.
talent1Kickflip light test looks okay.
test1Back lip skewered by a pillar? It’ll do.
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I decided to head outside into the gentle late afternoon Tampa light and mingle. Much nicer.
shier1Dare I say gorgeous?
shier2I found Big News being discussed.

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Revelers.
cailanfloresChillers.

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True professionals,

RodentWu afficionados.
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T-Funk

tfunkAnd even more dream management.

dream
Brief, beautiful, sordid moments of clarity and oblivion swirled all around me like some strange visual poem.
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A Floridian poem.
heavy
Full of strange characters and tall Englishmen.
P1020116Tyshawn remained in a New York state of mind.
P1020101 P1020107 P1020105And as the dice battle raged round the back…

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…things took a turn for the worse round the front.

alden
More and more bills got thrown into the mix…
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As carnage ensued.
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Dice were rolled.
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Eggs were hurled.
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Dice. Rolling.
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Eggs. Flying.
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Fortunes were won and lost.
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As a few brave souls charged for the finish line.
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And to the victors go the spoils.
victorsSkateboarding is safe and well.
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The Comic Part 5: Death is a bummer.

Probably the darkest strip in the 12. Thrasher featured it in their January 2013 issue opposite Pedro Barros in a G-Shock ad – do people still wear watches?
I suppose Pedro Barros must and that dude is straight-up gnarly. Remember that article Rhino shot where him and Grant Taylor went to Portugal?

Grant Taylor Ollies into a mental bowl in Portugal

So anyway, Part 5 of the comic. The darkest point. The kid is on the way to his old man’s funeral and it’s raining. Death, like rain to a skater, is a bummer. But, there’s always a bright side, right? So, can we learn to laugh about death? Maybe not laugh, that sounds callous and callous is not the laughter I’m talking about. But what am I talking about? I’m talking about the inspiration for an entire genre of Metal.

When friends and family die it’s definitely painful. If it’s not then something is wrong. Loss leaves a gaping hole. It’s disemboweling. Laughter is probably not the healthiest immediate response. But from a distance, I mean with the perspective that time passed provides, we can see death and loss as the brief insignificant things they are and we can get on with enjoying all that we still have.
Okay, blah blah, cliche, cliche, yeah I’ve had losses. We all have; or are going to. What I’m getting to is that this comic grew out of a shitty grieving process that seemed to utterly dissolve any interest I still had in playing the pro-skater game.

I’m fairly certain that the process of writing the comic helped me come through one of life’s tunnels. For that I am eternally grateful to Thrasher, especially Michael Burnett, who was kind enough to champion the thing and encourage the process despite its rambling, stumbling through the dark, story progression.
And obviously, always, to the brilliant Jon Horner.
And of course to the gulls who have no idea about any of this. They’re just hungry, looking for food and in the process they sound like they’re laughing; and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the direction of the wind and whatnot, they sound very, very callous.

Tetherball: The Sport Behind the Sportsmen

The release of A Place in the Sun proved that Russell Houghten can paint a compelling and pristine picture of skateboarding in Los Angeles. But, when something is all shiny there’s some part of each one of us that wants to reach out and start scratching it up a little. Questions can do that and critics might ask; Has Houghten become a slave to color depth? Is his equipment slowing him down? As stunning as his work is, has Russell Houghten’s drive to become the greatest action sports documentarian of our time imposed some limiting factors on his agility as a filmmaker? The answers are subjective. What we now know for a fact is that there was another camera eye on location during the making of New Balance Numeric’s first video. That eye was watching, thinking and planning before swooping in all like,
“Yo, Tyler. It would be tight if we filmed a line here real quick while Russell’s all wrapped up with that time-lapse.”
The result is part behind-the-scenes documentary, part alternative-angle compilation and part investigation into a new and troubling urban sport that’s sweeping the empty school yards of LA.
This video contains many layers: Alternative angles; rare and exclusive new footage; still photography pasted in with a stock camera-shutter sound-effect; jump-cuts, titling, split-audio edits, cross fades, fade-ins and fade-outs; BGPs from Mike O Meally, Atiba Jefferson, Russell Houghten and possibly even Suge Knight strolling past Talib Kweli’s temporary parking lot. It is basically the Inception of skateboard videos. It is the dream within the dream and the thing I love more than anything else is that what happens behind the scenes of a Hollywood skate production is, simply, more skating.

Annonymous asked: “How do you get these robust taught-chested sportsmen to perform these breathtaking moves?”
Answer: “By refining my hang ten technique at any available opportunity and toning my camera arm on the Tetherball court. Judging from the shakycam of some of these clips it needs more work.”

Item Test: A Predatory Birder at Large

Wisconsin raised, San Diego resident, Jeff Halleran, is one of the earliest proponents of The Predatory Bird. His personal blog is a veritable treasure trove of the Lesser-Spotted California Thrashers that he observes and documents around the San Diego area.
Amongst other fine specimens you will find such rare and awesome gems as reasonably new Dave Coyne clips; rampaging Blood Wizard, Drew Dezort; the legendary Ed Devera and OG Zero rider Aaron Harrison, killing it consistently.
In this quick video, Jeff puts his original Predatory Bird Lifestyle Item through some rigorous field tests. We’re happy to report that The Lifestyle Item does not disappoint.

Paper Trail

The live-action performance in the intro to Joe Pease animation experiment ‘Paper Trail’ is truly exquisite.
In this post Joe answers 3 quick questions about animation and the animators he considers to be some of the greats.


Joe Pease on set

What’s the first animation you remember watching that got you sparked on the medium?
I would say Disney movies would’ve been the first. The Jungle Book and Sword in the Stone. In Aus we also had these short claymations between programmes called Pingu, have you seen that?
Yes! I used to love Pingu, it was consistently pretty hilarious.
So good! I don’t think Americans know about it.

What do you think is the appeal of animation rather than live action?
I like the look of certain styles of animation. I’m really into line drawn animation. Also, the fact you don’t need to rely on other people to work on it. There are not really any boundaries to what you can do either, which is cool.

Which animators do you find inspiring?
Frank and Ollie, the original Disney animators are incredible.
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This guy Bruce Bickford who did Frank Zappa music videos.
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Ray Harryhausen for how epic his stuff was before anyone.
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I’ve also been super into motion graphics recently. Here’s one by a production company in the UK called Animade

What about Matt Stone and Trey Parker?

Of course! How could I forget?
Joe Pease up close

A Pictorial Journey Behind the Scenes of New Balance Numeric’s A Place in the Sun

With the release of A Place in the Sun New Balance Numeric also announced that they’ll be adding Toy Machine’s buff & tight Jordan Taylor and Sk8Mafia powerhouse Tyler Surrey to the team. This turn of events does a great service to skateboarding as these are two of the truest rulers in existence and they deserve all the encouragement we can collectively raise. You can see more from them in the full-on, alternate-angles/behind-the-scenes video extravaganza that I’ll hopefully have finished by next week.
In the meantime, below is a 7 part review of the recent past that includes the trailer for aforementioned video extravaganza and a photo essay covering a small portion of the making of A Place in the Sun.

1) New Talent on New Balance

2) Breakfast of Champions
Hollywood! The home of cinema, celebrity and breakfast burritos a la Surrey, Taylor, Brown and Rattray!
Dudes about to eat breakfast burritos

The first thing we did after breakfast was stop by the clinic so Tyler could back tail this small ledge. As you can see there’s a sweet leaf sign with an arrow pointing at him.

Surrey back tails outside the clinic

Pretty soon Russell was standing on top of his truck uncertain as to whether he feels mildly anxious about this project or if he’s just getting hungry again. Continue reading