Supreme has a reputation of being, well, supreme. And not in a way that has them on top of any one pyramid. In fact, they’re not the greatest at any one thing. They just started their own thing, and they do that best. Each video, in the long string of projects by William Strobeck, recreates a familiar yet craved feeling within the viewer. They are true films (of whatever length) as opposed to strings of consecutive clips set to a musical track.
There’s no exact formula. If there were, everyone would match it. The short skate films coming from these dudes is constantly causing a reaction with the newest and coolest of skaters. The high caliber of skating meets the raw feel of its footage that makes it seem just amateur enough to be achievable. The moments of defeat and glory that we all experience as skaters are perfectly performed in front of the camera and shown back to us in an authentic format that we see and immediately respect.
“Pussy Gangster” starts with the ambient hum of New York City in slow motion, showing a young kid that none of us recognize. Zooming out from his face, we see him dropping his board, still in slow motion. The spark is there, and the anticipation is building. And when this kid lands a boardslide with a surprising amount of style, it’s ON. The skater feels that feeling from learning that boardslide himself or herself. Hell Yeah is the reaction. And then abruptly
The film cuts to a crazy homeless guy. (*Cue the familiar experience from spending entire days in the streets.*) The energy shifts in a way that’s exciting but concerning. This dude’s got a knife and is waving it around all over the place. We’re concerned for the homies, but then BAM. A team of cops tackles and disarms the offender. The crowd cheers. The skaters win. This is a skate video. Now let’s move on with the film.
Dill’s face flashes on the screen before cutting to night footage of Sage Elsesser. Old school to new school. Favorites. The next several minutes are straight fire. Alternating from those we know by name to those we don’t, hammer to hammer we go. Each trick and line with its unique style or approach; you never could know what’s coming next. All the while, vibes of the street, cracks in the sidewalk, and the way people look at the skaters are put in seamlessly. “Life in the ghetto ain’t easy…” sings the vocalist in the first song. Everything adds up. All details culminate to the relationship between street skateboarding and struggle. The struggle that we choose.
After a heavy slam by Na-Kel Smith, the track cuts to silence. And then a VX1000 line of him, with only the background noise of metropolitan Paris to aide him: the ultimate raw street experience. Then bloody hands, youth smoking cigarettes, no rules. Now, we’re not promoting smoking or masochism, but there is an essential quality to the film that captures the hardships of skating in the streets. Everyone tries to create it, but not many succeed.
One of the most key ingredients to Strobeck’s master recipe is the spontaneity of the entire film. Many skaters that are pushing back against the current organization of skateboarding also covet the not knowing what will happen next. The element of surprise, although no one calls it that, is what the modern skate nerd longs for. We watch our favorite (and least favorite) pro skaters and eventually get a feel for their bag of tricks, their approach to spots, and their general ability in skating. But so refreshing it is to see a video in which you can’t call a single trick before it’s done.
Here’s to being weird. Here’s to the struggle of the streets. Here’s to bringing a camera along.