A Fragmentary History of Skateboarding Videos – Chapter 13 - In a Nutshell

Chapter 13 – In a Nutshell 

Fragment 86

During the nineties and early 2000s, skate rats would refer to the fast forward button on their VCR or DVD player as the “vert button”. Street skating had completely taken over but many companies still had vert pros on their teams. Street skaters would frequently fast forward these pros’ parts in the companies’ videos, feeling that vert skating was boring and repetitive, and so the vert button was born.

Fragment 87

In this light, the fact that Almost’s Cheese and Crackers [2006] became one of the most cherished skate videos of all times is particularly surprising. It’s not vert, but it’s a miniramp video, filmed on the same location, same ramp, from beginning to end, with the same two skaters. So how was it so unanimously well-received?

Fragment 88

There are many ways to answer the question. Or perhaps many factors that, taken together, may form an aswer to the question.

Fragment 89

To begin with, the two stars in Cheese and Crackers are famous street skaters. At the time, Daewon Song was already considered a street skating legend, having begun his video career in World Industries’ Love Child [1992], while Chris Haslam was seen as a hot new pro (he’d won Reader's Choice Award at the 7th Annual Transworld Skateboarding Awards in 2005). This doesn’t merely mean that the street skating-oriented public was watching the video because they knew the skaters to be street skaters, it further means that the approach the two co-stars bring to skating a miniramp was heavily influenced by street skating. The amount of flip tricks, flipping in and out of grinds and stalls, switch skating, all of these aspects made the skating relatable for viewers who were more familiar with street skating’s codes and styles than those of transition skating.

Fragment 90

Then there is Song’s and Haslam’s technical proficiency, of which nothing much needs to be said. Both have unnatural balance and can flip the board in every possible way, skate switch like it was regular, and god knows what else. Inseparable from these technical skills is their imagination.

Fragment 91

During the Priest song [1:32 to 6:05], Song and Haslam seemingly explore every possible aspect of the miniramp. They slide, grind, stall and just overall dance on the coping. They catch air, doing flip tricks, grabs, rotation tricks and combinations of all of these. They manual on the deck and come back in. They slide on the extension’s edge [2:09]. One could say they fully explore miniramp skating’s boundaries.

Fragment 92

During the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song [6:10 to 10:40], they get into Wile E. Coyote (or Wallace and Gromit) mode. Out come the contraptions, the traps, levers, piping, car tires, vertical grinds and tandem tricks. By this time, they’re expanding miniramp skating’s boundaries. It’s just as technically impressive as the stuff they do during the first song, but it’s even more entertaining.

Fragment 93

Vert skating is highly conventional. You have the ramp and you have to keep going back and forth. This conventionality caused street skaters to adopt the vert button, dismissing transition skating as too limited. There is, however, a sort of pleasure to be derived from highly conventional entrerprises. Like with reading a detective story, watching a western or reading a sonnet, with transition skating, once you are familiar with the codes, seeing how someone works with them or around them can be very exciting. Seeing those well-defined and easily recognizable rules being explored, bent and broken causes the viewer to have a more immediate appreciation for the skaters’ capabilities of invention. It makes it all more surprising. Supposedly, skateboarding is always about inventiveness and breaking the rules, but Cheese and Crackers is a highly concentrated version of that, like skateboarding’s full potential in a 15-minute-long nutshell.

By Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira 

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