"Bob said we could skate here": A review of Inhabitants by Habitat

At this point, one pretty much knows what to expect with a Habitat video: Some kind of environmentalist theme. homemade, organic animation for dudes to trip the fuck out on when they smoke a bowl and watch the vid. I appreciate that. Some tech, some semi-gnar skartist skating, and some Sixties "garage"-type music--you know, the genre they focus on here. Except this time around, Castrucci, or whoever performed Music Supervisor duties, included 2.5 Stones songs. "Can't You Hear Me Knockin' " in Kalis in Mono was inspired, but using almost three songs by the same artist is somewhat of a skate vid faux pas--like too many Kanye West songs in the Kayo vid. I mean, I can't drive to work without hearing at least 4 songs that I haven't heard before that make me think "that song would be fuckin' dope in a vid," if you see what I'm driving at. The only dude in any medium that can get away with using multiple Stones songs is Scorsese.
So, do you think Castrucci is amped about this film?
Truth be told, I, myself, am not. The reasons, based on the trailer, are the following:
1. The set list is predictable, yet baffling. "She Was Hot?" Are you fucking kidding me? Why not just fucking play
"Undercover of the Night?" Actually, come to think of it, that song is fucking awesome.
2. The "special guests" are horrendous. The only entertaining element of the film seems to be when Mick calls Scorsese "Marty" the whole time--just like James Lipton. That reminds me--did anyone else ever skate the ledge at DeNiro's restaurant? It's your average foot-high black loading dock ledge. The thing is, it's fucking at DeNiro's restaurant, dude. One time the host or whoever kicked us out and we (jokingly, of course) said "Bob said we could skate here." We left, of course. Although, truth be told, it would have been funny if Mr. DeNiro came out and asked "Do we have a problem here?" or something to that effect. Good times--good times skating the DeNiro ledge.


Trees--the great Northwest. I get it. I make the connection. It's all starting to come together. Anyway, this dude does some mind-numbing shit here that is also aesthetically decent. For example, he has the two best tricks one can do, b/s tails on handrails and b/s noseblunts, wired. B/s nb slide on the pyramid ledges deserves particular wonderment because there's extremely minimal run-up. If one can do tre flips and those two tricks to death, no one can say you're not a good skater.
To elaborate, when one starts skating, you try like every trick just for the sake of having in one's repertoire. Now, I realize that it's both more effective and fun to just wire a handful or tricks that feel good. That's just one perspective, though.
That's not to say Mr. Baxter-Neil does not display adeptness at an extremely wide variety of tricks. Truth be told, although I am not a huge fan of the wallride genre, the wallride-to-jump-over-the pipe thing tripped me the fuck out, as did his dual enders, which I will discuss in reverse order:
1) The fakie tre flip over that one Barcelona street gap--so much can go wrong there--like what if it flips 1.5 times and you land on the trucks instead of the bolts? What if it almost morphs into a 540 flip, but not quite, so you eat shit? However, my friends, we do not live in a world of "what if"'s.
2) the kickflip over the goddamn swiftly-flowing river is particularly evocative--good job, Mr. Castucci. The camera angle makes it seem like Baxter-Neil is flying into the sun like Icarus himself.

Now the transition into the artsy environmental film--and the theme statement:"inhabitants of a world in decline." I think it's safe to say that this environmentalist theme was previously covered in Now 'n Later, albeit in a more cut-and-paste late-80's video style. Which segues into


Hey--remember when this dude nollieflip n/s'd Hubba in Vita Natas's? Truth be told, that might be the most insane trick performed on that thing. Subsequently, he banged out arguably the best part in Mosaic, one that still rates up there on the "get amped to skate"-meter. The critical question here, though, is has the dude regressed or simply refined his shit? On one hand, you're not going to find any tre flip noseslides or nollie heel f/s nose on handrails. On the other hand, you would be hard-pressed to find a more casually executed nollie inside heel manual nollie heel out, or a more perfectly Californian line at the Hernandez ledges. Also, in a couple lines he seems to be actually skating "streets" in a naturalistic manner usually reserved for "GRITTY, RAW EAST COAST SKATING." This is a notable improvement over his previous two parts.

But fuck all that shit. Since Tim O'Connor, in his top fives in which he makes fun of dudes (such as his teammates) that pose with cameras and guitars to look all deep and shit, claimed Garcia is actually good at guitar, I wondered:

Does technical skating=technical guitar playing?

That is to say, because Garcia aspires to a certain degree of technicality in his skating, does the same aspiration apply to guitar? For example, when I was super into getting super good at guitar, I had a practice routine that went something like this:
1. warm-up exercises
2. pentatonic scales
3. diatonic scales
4. whatever mode I was trying to get good at at the time (i.e. phrygian, lydian, harmonic minor, etc.)
5. learn whatever song I was into at the time
6. jam along with records
I reiterate-this is only an example and should not be construed as the only way to become adept at the guitar. However, I think the most critical element is jamming along with records for hours on end.
Anyway, do technical skaters aspire to technical guitar playing, or is it cool enough to learn some 9th and major 7th chords and jam out on them on some flamenco shit? I will say, though, that tech skating and guitar playing share the following component: discipline. Although it's the lamest fucking word ever, there is no other word (besides Cardielian Mental Power) for the particular quality that facilitates trying a ledge trick over and over and over again until one wires it.

I would like to preface this section of the review by stating the following:

New Jersey is a nice place to live.

I reiterate: New Jersey is a nice place to live.

New Jersey has some of the best public schools in the world. It is not just one gigantic oil refinery. One is never more than an hour away from Phila.,NYC, the beach, or some natural mountain-type shit. There exists food and beverage besides beer, pizza, and pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwiches (although that's all you fucking need anyway). Every young lady is not an escort, stripper, or go-go dancer. Although, at my old job in Perth Amboy, my co-worker's girlfriend was, indeed, a dancer at this place called "Breathless" in Rahway. She was this super-hot blonde, Eastern European type--you know, the kind of girl that looks like she bleeds vodka. Kind of like a younger version of Mika Brzuznski from MSNBC. However, like most hot girls, she was also fucking crazy. For example, they would go out to lunch from time to time, and they would inevitably get in these huge blowout fights and she would strand him at Bennigans on Rt. 9 or wherever, then he'd be like 2.5 hours late getting back from lunch, which fucked everyone else at the job.

So one day, this Puerto Rican dude Joel, who at the time was "the new guy," comes in and says "bro, your girlfriend totally gave me a lapdance last night, bro." This dude was the kind of dude that listens to Jay-Z non-stop and quotes him incessantly because he thinks he's some kind of hustler or some shit. However, it turned out that she did, indeed, perform the service known as a "table dance" for this gentleman the night before. My friend didn't go beserk; he just fumed about it for a few days. Truth be told, he ended up getting fired for making too many mistakes, joined the Navy, and got shipped out to the Persian Gulf. I thought about that job when, after the recent police informer post, I watched this old Fred Gall part. See that pavilion at the end? I was shocked to recognize it from the Marina in Perth Amboy.
Circles, man--life fucking moves in circles.
So in terms of New Jersey, similar to how Springsteen gives life to his own personal vision of the place through the imagery in his songs, so does Gall through his video parts and other assorted coverage. One of the best things about about the old World vids was how they created their own universe where all those infamous spots--Beryl, Ramona, Lockwood, the World Park, Santa Monica ledges/sand gaps--coexisted seemingly around the corner from each other. Similarly, in Gall's New Jersey, around every corner lurks a bombed-out, abandoned factory/hotel with some crazy bank/ledge setup, next to a bank-to-wall, right next to an abandoned pool in the fuckin' woods.
I often (well, not that often) wonder what caused Gall's paradigm shift from the shockingly-ahead-of-its-time gorilla on ledgeism of the Sub Zero video to his current subgenre. Indeed, if one consolidates that part his footage from Eastern Exposure 2, and his 411 Wheels of Fortune from #11, one has the blueprint for East Coast tech that was in place pretty much until the tight pants era. It's almost as if there was nowhere else for him to go, nothing else for him to accomplish in that particular realm. No one was really fucking with anything on that level besides the elite Pulaski dudes (and some New York dudes such as Keith Harrison). The thing about that footage is that, when one watches it now, skating was so seemingly dead that there was pretty much no one in the background at Love/City Hall except for the same five dudes. Oddly enough, I thought about going up there back then but with Pulaski so seemingly close, it was like "why bother?" Looking back, it seems insane that we just accepted these epic, perfect spots as if they would always be there.
Like someone else from NJ told me once, "Spots come and go, life moves on."

ps. Oddly enough, no one has yet mined the Sabbath Dio years for skate vid soundtrack material


"The kid's good." I'm not going to include a lengthy dissertation here--just a dude from California with good style. On Royal so he must not be a kook.
Oh yeah--beautiful backside 360 off the FF bump; feet do not leave board.


The kid's bad--as in fucking badass. Is he related to that dude that was in Lurkers 2? In any event, what we have here is a new interpretation of the Tom Penny sleepy style, with some mid-Nineties Anthony Correa influence--perhaps by osmosis. The one trick that stuck out in my mind was the overturned b/s noeblunt revert--or is that a "farside" bs ng-- on that bank. Remember when "farside" tricks were supposed to be, like, the future? This started approximately the time of the Peter Smolik ad featuring the first recorded b/s 180 to sw f/s crooked grind.


"Ladies and gentlemen, it's skateboarding's funnyman, Tim O'Connor!"
Although, I , for one, prefer the dry, subtle humor of a Sal Barbier, some of the shit O'Connor says is admittedly humorous. It's like baseball - three out of ten and you're a superstar. Besides, most dudes that get "interviewed" are about as charismatic and engaging as cigar store Indians.
And now, the skateboarding part of this review installment. Truth be told, I intentionally ignored the Element saga of O'Connor's career. Do I even have to say why? The way I see it, he appears to have internalized the right influences (Carroll, Lotti--especially in the fakie bigspin flip herein) and comes out with some semi-progressive shit but somehow never sets the world on fire. Those shove-it 5/0 variations he does are sick, though--no one's really fucking with those except Jean-Baptiste. However, the pressure flip manual should have been relegated to the cutting room floor, leaving the nollie cab flip over that hip (the same one that Charles Lamb nollie cab heeled over like 5 years ago) as the ender. What's wrong with that?


Shortly after that one Skateboarder cover:

, I went on a secret spy mission to the spot and tripped the fuck out at how rough it is.

The masonry is nowhere near the quality of the small banks. In addition, it's impossible to hit it head-on a la said banks; one must carve down the teeth-rattling hill and hit it on the upswing, so to speak.Along those lines, how fucking skilled were the masons that created the Brooklyn banks? You couldn't fit piece of notebook paper between those shits.
This spot, however, feels like someone built a 19th century cobblestoone street onto the side of a hill. This makes the truck executed on the above cover (thank you, Source Interlink Companies, Inc.! ) all the more incomprehensible. One of the local rippers insisted that a moped assisted in this. Some large, soft wheels might not have hurt, either.
My point to all this is that sometimes a video part, imcluding the editing decisions made therein, is not an accurate reflection of how sick a dude is.


Generic white dude. Wait--that's unfair. He does have a beard in some of this part, so I guess he's not that generic after all. NOTE TO WHITE DUDES: if you ever want to be less generic, grow a beard. It will make you a spiritual dude, like a Rabbi pondering the mystical wisdom of the Torah. Skating: the sw 180 heel over the Russian gold rail is impressive, although not as intense as Maurice's in 20 Shot. The dude is also fucking with the Gino trick (270 nollie to sw bs tail) to regular, which I haven't seen before. Then again, I'm not one of these dudes that sees every frame of every vid that comes out, so it might be being fucked with on a much larger scale than I'm aware of.


If the hype is real, this dude and Jake Johnson are the next wave of East Coast Jedis, most definitely. Best trippy environmental intro and best part. The manufacturing jobs might have fled New Jersey for China and Mexico decades ago, but whatever toxins remained and seeped into the water supply have mutated to create the most dominant strain of East Coast Tech-ism. Think Wenning with MORE POWER and slightly better posture. If one consolidates his part in Static III and this part, one has perhaps one of the most devastating debuts since ...well...Wenning's blitzkrieg in Photosynthesis. Sw heel f/s bluntslide will haunt the mind's eye for quite some time. WARNING: all those fakie crooked and fakie b/s 5/0 variations can bruise the fuck out of your foot if you fuck up.


Another dude that never switched, ever since the Faiman's section in 411 #?. Although there is some Barcelona, Getz seems to be skating PHILA street shit for the most part, as if to bitterly mutter under his breath "fuck this place, I'll just skate whatever's here until I fucking die. I refuse
to travel beyond a 20 mile radius of my home." This is an admirable stance, and preferable to flying to China to skate some pristine marble ledge. And despite my previous statements about the usage of Stones songs, "Monkey Man" is extremely effective here, especially the edit with the frontside 360 and that "Messianic...Satanic" line.


This dude Burton that used to be on Zoo once told the tale, allegedly related to him by Dill, of an "industry handbook" of sorts that advised dudes to be super cognizant of what they wore when getting coverage. Maybe this would account for the fact that, if you put a gun to my head, I could not tell the difference, in my minds eye nor in a police lineup, between Raymond Molinar, Omar Salazar, and Dylan Reider. This dude is sick, though. Super fucking good kf fs tail. I spent the majority of my first viewing trying to determine when he was skating switch and when reg., and it used up a lot of brain power.

I get the vibe that a lot of dudes are psyched on this dude.
Indeed, he seems to have upped the "cruising down the street" factor from the Mosaic part, while still focusing on the core material of sw flip and sw nosegrind, branching outward and upward. However, I know music isn’t that much of a big deal, but the twee Kinks song detracts from the epicness of this part. The furor over the FF soundtrack, in my opinion, was overblown. Skate vid music supervision should be a zen thing, like whatever is in the atmosphere. If that happens to be the contents of Ty Evans iPod, so be it. However, musical selection can affect a part's standing on the psyched-to-skate quantitative scale, as illustrated on the below Powerpoint slide:

Anyway, despite said tweeness, the epicness doth flow: fast as hell, effortless sw backside flip over an SF channel, butterknifed nollie 180 sw ng revert, and ledge nbd in 1920’s flapper hat.
Wait, is that the famous white walls of my hometown? Nah must be somewhere else.

To reuse the guitar metaphor, I would compare this dude to a John Petrucci--technically mind-numbing, yet goofy in the best, nerdiest kind of way (note: the solo at 7:23 of that clip is my favorite solo by him ever).
Mind-numbing ender meets contemporary standards of ender mind-numbingness.

Hopefully the fallout from the recent buyout won't affect Habitat detrimentally. Although, their latest ad was of the "here are all our decks!" variety, which was disheartening. When it started, as an East Coast offshoot of Workshop, Habitat had an understood statement of purpose: "This is our Habitat: The East Coast of North America." Indeed, while not being a life-changer, Inhabitants retains the stoner company ethos while proving its thesis. Hopefully the aforementioned inhabitants (especially Durante) can avoid cannibalization by the declining world they inhabit.

ps. During the composition of this review, Sirius featured an all-Rolling Stones channel, presumably to coincide with the release of Shine a Light. And I must admit, I listened to it quite frequently, especially while going skating. It felt like I was in a fucking Scorsese-directed Habitat video.


hairfarmer said...

"stoner company" - Funny you should mention that, as one of my favorite activities back when I still smoked weed was to get high and watch Timecode. Lennie's part always freaked me out, what with the preaching and the music. Plus the fact that it just ends abruptly after that choppy slow-mo switch b/s 180 nosegrind on hubba was trippy too. Such a good video. That fat guy crashing into the camera over and over again, the crazy country dude dancing, who somewhat resembles Jason dill, and Bo Turners "part" - classic. Plus all of the amazing skating.

** said...

Most of the time when I smoked delivery weed, I didn't own a television. However, I definitely used to watch the Element industry section from 411 #8 and Virtual a lot after I smoked out. Oh, and A Visual Sound too.
Does Habitat still make decks with "hemp-ply" construction? Yeah I guess you could call them a stoner co.

smorales said...

I am of the slightly younger generation it sounds like, but some of my favorites to smoke and watch are A Visual Sound, Art Bars and Gnar Gnar. Oh and Photosynthesis, I would kill for a VHS of timecode, memory screen or g&s Footage.

otisbd said...

good review. however you missed an golden opportunity to drop a thousand or so words on the incredible (and possibly synchro-mystical) similarity between danny garcia's intro and the mariano's in FF (and indeed every single one in static III).

** said...

the incredible (and possibly synchro-mystical) similarity between danny garcia's intro and the mariano's in FF (and indeed every single one in static III).

good call. fuck! i'm tripping the fuck out right now.
don't even get me started on the fetishization of riot guards in Static III.

hairfarmer said...

Sanch did b/s 180 to switch f/s crooks in his '93 Thrasher interview. Didn't even come straight on, he popped in from the middle!

hairfarmer said...

p.s. - I was bummed on the Kinks song too. The Village Green album has now reached the same level of played outness in skate videos as "ace of spades" and "sympathy for the devil". The Velvet Underground song was nice though, and almost made up for the obviousness of the Kinks. Good review!