As a child of the 1980s, and one long steeped in the (very mainstream) counterculture of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I have a large and abiding soft spot for skateboarding and skateboard culture, and I have this soft spot despite not really ever having the coordination to skate at all….
YOD, the book from Um Yeah Arts, seems like it could be the name of a skate crew out of California, much like DSC is a skate crew out in Dallas…. It’s not, but it sure seems possible. Looking at the list of skaters (in the publisher’s blurb), I suspect I met some of them during my time hanging around with DSC. I certainly spent a bit of time with some fine members of MSK and SWR and MF, and who likely knew some of the people in the film and book, not that it matters.
The book appeared some time before, and served, I think, as a round of funding for a skate film called, appropriately enough, Ye Olde Destruction.*
I’m not sure I ever watched a skate film before; if I had it’s been a long time, and I expected more of a documentary. What I found, though, is a collection of skate videos made at various spots in California—swimming pools in abandoned neighborhoods; curb spots behind mini malls; actual skate parks; etc.—with running soundtrack from shoegaze-ish, noise rock duo No Age. The group travels about in 1970s Cadillacs, which they often park haphazardly on one side of a hip ramp, and then use as rails to grind and whatnot. The film even opens with a scene of the group skating the main car out in an abandoned neighborhood. One member pops up onto the hood, loses his footing—maybe on purpose—and rams his board through the windshield.
The book seems to be mostly stills from the film, and Campbell credits Brian Gaberman, Arto Saari, Jai Tanju, French Fred with some pictures. Running commentary appears throughout, scribbled over top of the images. and it would be more legible and more interesting—as a photobook—without the largely illegible notes scrawled across them. The notes are helpful, I guess, in that they note the tricks performed and who performed them, the photographer—if not Campbell himself—maybe locations, etc. I appreciate it as an example of combining text with image, and can see maybe doing something similarish, maybe, but in this particular case, I find it quite distracting.
Overall, Ye Olde Destruction rates a solid 4 stars.
At time of writing, copies of YOD remain available direct from Um Yeah Arts. IF you’re interested in skating as I am, maybe watch and enjoy the film first, and if you’re still interested, then pick up the book. It’s good, and the scribbled text contributes some to the whole “destruction” business, so maybe it’s more necessary than I want it to be. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent watching the film, and the two or three hours I spent flipping through the book. I’m not sure how often I’ll return to it, but it’ll fit nicely into the library for sure.
*The book includes a link to a private VIMEO where one can view the film, and which the book requests to “Please keep the link to yourself, Thanks,” though at time of writing anyone can watch the film, so….