WORDS: Stu Gomez
Do you trip out every time you see a skateboarder in a movie or TV show? Are you the type of person to immediately search for continuity errors? If the mere sight of era-inappropriate skate gear pushes you over the edge, and if you’re tired of skaters being portrayed as stereotypes in entertainment, then this column is for you.
“Watch This Not That” spots skate appropriation and tells you whether you should fuck with it. (More often than not, these movies and shows would have benefited from some sort of skate consultant.)
Here’s an extended version of the second WTNT from Berrics Magazine issue 2.
Watch This: BUNKER77
This is the story of Anthony “Bunker” Spreckels, a bona fide badass. This tastemaker, bon vivant, multimedia entrepreneur, and stepson of Clark Gable, was a spirited surfer who redefined style—on and off the board (does that cliché work for surfing, too?) in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The homie literally was a beach bum, in the dense foliage of Hawaii, just living off the land like a G. All he needed was a surfboard. (Incidentally, Bunker was also way ahead of his time in terms of shaping smaller boards built for speed.)
Can it be that it was all so simple then? This spiritual, hand-to-mouth surfing existence lasted until his twenty-first birthday, when he was due to inherit his birthright: his millions of the Spreckels family fortune. That’s when things got really interesting…
The title of this sick doc alludes to the year 1977, when Bunker died, becoming the latest member of the “27 Club,” joining recent inductees Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. (I hope this isn’t a spoiler; I mean, it’s in the title so do the math.) One of Bunker’s final acts was to befriend and mentor, in a way, the skate legend Tony Alva. Shortly before expiring, Bunker also granted an interview to the amazing journalist and artist who skaters know as C.R. Stecyk III. Audio from this interview drives the narrative of this film and will make your heart skip a beat; hearing Bunker’s story in his own words is like finally coming up for air after a gnarly wiiiiiipe-out (hahaaahaaa).
Skateboarders may also recognize the name Spreckels due to the eponymous theatre in San Diego where so many legendary video premieres have taken place. Zero, Foundation, Plan B (if memory serves, it was immortalized on the cover of the 1997 video The Revolution?)… the list goes on. You don’t need to be a So Cal skate nerd to be familiar with its place in skate history.
You owe it to the man’s legacy to ride the wave and peep this masterpiece. Props to the filmmaker Takuji Masuda—this is a beautiful film.
Order Bunker77 here.
NOT THAT: The Wave
Imagine a world where the global thermostat fluctuates wildly and entire species of wildlife are fighting for their existence, becoming critically endangered due to a brittle ecosystem. Hell, even the coral is dying!
This is the world presented by The Wave, a Norwegian film by Roar (cool name) Uthaug. As perhaps a consequence of climate change, a massive avalanche causes a tsunami to roll through one of the many beautiful fjords Scandinavia has to offer. The popular tourist town, Geiranger, is forced to evacuate and a catastrophic race to higher ground is set in motion. That is, unless you’re the dumbass character Sondre, a sullen teen who heads down to a basement—that unfortunately acts much like an aquifer—to skate or die.
Sondre is the latest in a long line of utterly stupid kids who just happen to skate. Historically, in film and TV, only dummies and baddies skate. There are exceptions to the rule, because skaters don’t follow rules, but you get my gist. As the hero’s son, Sondre throws a Nordic black metal monkey wrench in the proceedings; while the rest of the town is trying to live, Sondre is drowning in his own stupidity. The biggest insult? Sondre spends his final moments doing weak-ass fakie shuvs in a narrow hallway. Not exactly a “bucket list” trick. And his gear? I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that shit. No(r)way!
The Wave is streaming now on Netflix.
WATCH THIS: The Bad Batch
Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch is NOT a good movie. Far from it. Everything, from the cardboard acting to the nonsensical dialogue that sounds like a first draft with a few pages missing, is shit. What can you say about a movie that gives you more exposition in the main characters’ tattoos than in the first 50 pages of story? (The protagonist sports ink that says “Suicide” and “fear”; her love interest— whom she learns is a Cuban-American—rocks “Miami Man” across his chest. Oh word?)
What little story there is concerns a wasteland where society’s freaks and bad seeds are cast off to fend for themselves in a feral bid for survival. These bad seeds are known as “the bad batch.” Believe me, you’ll hear this titular line A LOT during the course of this two-hour piece of shit. Keanu Reeves’s character (a half-assed update of Guyana’s Kool Aid Man, Jim Jones) mentions “the bad batch” so much you’ll long for the mute brilliance of John Wick. On the flip side, rubber-faced motor mouth Jim Carrey says next to nothing as the “Hermit.” This is one of the director’s biggest fuck ups. I would have much rather seen Fire Marshal Bill as a crazed cult leader and Johnny Utah as a disgusting desert hobo.
This movie sucks balls. Period. There’s something about using cannibalism for shock value that leaves a gamey taste in my mouth. Having said that, it’s sick that the heroine makes her one-legged getaway (having been relieved of that tasty morsel by the resident flesheaters) on a classic Roskopp board. If I was on my last leg, that’s how I want to go out. Plus, any Louie Lopez footage is gold in my book. That’s right: Lou Lo makes his acting debut as Chuy/Chewy, an uzi-toting skateboarder. [Rumor has it Berra is responsible for hooking up this acting gig.] He doesn’t say much, but it’s Louie fucking Lopez. The precious few moments when he is onscreen elevate this steaming turd to Godfather Part 2 level.
The Bad Batch is streaming now on Netflix.
Watch This: “Match Game” series – the 1978 season
With the incredible advancements in technology, we have an unprecedented ability to stay on top of every current event. Some of us use this access to devour every new video clip and obsess over other people’s realities. Me? I’m a little different: I like to relive game shows from back in the day.
I can’t tell you why I’m so consumed by with old game shows. Maybe it’s the innocence of it all; way before the ubiquity of social media, every contestant seemed to revel in their minor celebrity. It’s endearing to see a virtual nobody beyond excited over the prospect of winning, say, a toaster, or the equivalent of pocket change. Fame is worth its weight in gold.
My personal faves are “Match Game” and “Family Feud ‘99” (featuring host Louie Anderson from “Baskets”). Both are uniquely formatted: Match Game relies on celebrities’ wits and chemistry; the Feud operates on the notion that 100 strangers can develop a consensus, and there’s no such thing as a dumb answer (“Good answer!” is the rallying cry of the perpetually chipper Anderson. God, I love him). But both programs scratch that nagging game show itch—one that I imagine I share with millions of housewives, as we all enjoy a midday snack of Bon-Bons a la carte.
But I want to focus on Match Game. 1978 was a banner year for the “definitive answer” fill-in-the-blank show. The premise is: Two contestants are given the set-up to a joke, and they are asked to provide the punchline. As “The Dating Game” or “The Newlywed Game,” the results can be uproariously funny in a no-filter sort of way, but it’s the camaraderie of the celebrities—notably “Laugh In”‘s Patty Deutsch and CNR himself, Charles Nelson Reilly—that really make this season stand out. All I can say is… poor Brett Somers. (She’s usually the brunt of the jokes.) Betty White was a regular, and, I think, a national fucking treasure. Sharp and gracious, she’s always seated in the sixth chair, honored with the last word in every episode.
1978 seems to be a significant year for skateboarding. The explosion of parks was in full swing, and there were two films, Skateboard and Skateboarding Kings (featuring Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta), out at that time. This explains why “skateboard” repeatedly comes up as the punchline in this season of “Match Game.” First, my favorite smarmy host Gene Rayburn says, “My neighborhood was so tough, my father was a tailgunner on a blank.” Betty White offers “skateboard” as the answer. Now that shit’s funny (in LA, we can all relate). Then, in a later episode, a more obscure reference: “Bernie is such a great salesman, he once sold a blank to Ironside.” “The Bob Newhart Show”‘s Marcia Wallace also said “skateboard.” (The joke is about a character that Raymond Burr played in the ’60s, paralyzed from a gunshot wound… haha?)
If you’re not already a game show fanatic, I would suggest searching YouTube for two classics: “What’s My Line?” and “You Bet Your Life.” Build your way up to the disco era, and then remember that at one time skateboarding was a novelty, a punchline. Then, be happy about how much things have changed …that was a joke. Get it?
The 1978 season of “The Match Game” is streaming on Buzzr, a “pop culture time capsule.”
Watch This: “Baskets”
Zach Galifianakis has made a name for himself over the past two decades by perfecting a unique form of comedy. Alternating between extreme self-deprecation (sample pickup line: “I hope you’re in the mood to give a mile, because I’m prepared to give an inch”), bull-in-a-china-shop obliviousness (“The Hangover” trilogy), and unapologetic bluster (the “Between Two Ferns” series), he’s a master of making you laugh even when you’re not sure why you find his gags so damn funny.
Galifianakis gives you twice as much of his unparalleled humor in “Baskets” on FX, his latest project that features the comedian in dual roles, twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets. I’m a sucker for Galifianakis; even his squeakiest big-budget Hollywood work tends to get an admiring chuckle from me. And, in “Baskets,” he’s supported by some perfectly cast costars: the flawless Louie Anderson as his long-suffering mom, Christine (winning an Emmy for his work in season one); and Martha Kelly as Martha, Chip’s patient friend with negligible self-esteem.
The show hinges brilliantly on Chip’s failed career as a classically trained clown, his failed marriage to a sophisticated French socialite eager to experience America, and his strained relationship with his ambitious brother, Dale, a wannabe mogul in Bakersfield, California.
Here’s where my recommendation comes in: Season two kicks off with Chip diving headlong into the hobo lifestyle, riding the rails by necessity throughout the desolate (though I’m sure it’s really very beautiful) San Joaquin Valley. Chips falls in with a group of hustling street performers, and things take a surreal turn. In the season’s second episode, things go from bad to worse, but there’s a poignant interlude where Chip and his crew are hanging out at a skatepark. As Chip sits on the deck of the bowl, he says, “I’m not having fun… I’m just tired of making my life harder than it needs to be.” It was a cool little speech—delivered as a dude carved the bowl—that immediately had me thinking, Whoa, that’s some deep skate philosophy right there!
So, is ZG down with skating? That would explain a lot, but maybe it’s a fleeting notion. Wishful thinking. They probably just chose the location based on the proximity to a railroad track. But still… you should be watching this fucking show.
“Baskets” is currently in its third season on FX.
Not That: “Shot in the Dark”
In the world of late-night stringers, each man is an island. In Netflix’s cleverly titled documentary series “Shot in the Dark,” we get to know three of the city’s top stringers, lone wolves in a city of severely injured sheep, on a first-name basis: Zak Holman, Howard Raishbrook, and the alpha douche, Scott Lane.
These freelance lensmen make a living by zooming around Greater Los Angeles with police scanners at the ready, on the lookout for a potential “story of the night” that will fascinate the masses. Your typical payday clips include, oh, I don’t know: fatal car crashes, with or without severed limbs; adrenaline-fueled car chases; car “chases” that curiously fall within the legal speed limit and take forever to end; double homicides; a bear that escaped a local refuge; and a zombie. (That last one is speculation on my part.) With all of the show’s action taking place when your average Los Angelenos are tucked snuggly in their beds, the resulting images are usually guaranteed to represent the seediest reminders of mortality and eeeevilllll—or just distracted driving (please don’t text and drive, the results can be bloody).
The whole show is obviously a cautionary tale—a reminder that the freaks do indeed come out at night. But, this is LA, okay? Rock and roll’s host with the most, Axl Rose, once graciously exclaimed, “Welcome to the jungle,” and he was not wrong. If you’re out on the streets getting into trouble in the wee hours, you can’t say that you weren’t warned.
The Berrics is famously, and proudly, located in Downtown LA. Two of our employees, myself included, call this section of the city home. The rest of them would rather commute four hours a day from Orange County just to avoid the toxic atmosphere of big city life; I can’t say I blame them. (I’ve been hit by more than a handful of cars when skating these mean streets, thankfully with no major damage to myself or the cars.) But regardless of where we live, we still get a chill when we see the show’s aerial shots of that instantly recognizable DTLA skyline. One or two of the scenes in this series take place near the new Berrics building, and one aerial shot clearly shows the old Berrics building (now a warehouse for a fidget spinner import company). I’ve never been prouder.
This show is pretty tight. On a purely visceral, life-is-stranger-than-fiction way, “Shot in the Dark” will energize you with its form of sensory overload. If you can turn off your natural sympathetic response for 40 minutes, you will thoroughly enjoy this show. And, of course, you will also need to stomach the nails-on-a-chalkboard narcissism of Scott “Stay in Your Lane” Lane. He’s the epitome of douchiness. How else would you describe someone who literally says he’s “not here to make friends” (that’s sooo first season of “Big Brother,” the U.S. version), and who describes his own stringing strategy thusly: “I’m always playing chess.” Gross. Plus, he has the ultimate try-hard journalist uniform, with the word “PRESS” printed on of every single stitch of clothing. Talk about wearing your insecurity on your sleeve! As Howard would say: “What are you doing, you fucking penis?”
Speaking of Howard: he broke my heart in the eighth episode, resulting in the “Not That” ruling above. At the start of the episode, he rolls through a South LA neighborhood and advises the show’s crew to “watch your back; this is not a great neighborhood.” Cut to… a group of skaters having a sesh on a ledge. WTF, Howard? How are you gonna play us like that? You just shot footage the other of a fucking BEAR loose in the north side. But somehow a kid bailing a frontside tailslide is a danger to civilized society. Whatever, you fucking penis.
Stream *“Shot in the Dark” on Netflix now.*
Pick up issue 2 of *Berrics Magazine in The Canteen today.*