Skate Gnus—On Vans’ ‘Alright, OK’

Greg Hunt sure knows how to make a skate video.

Hunt’s name carries serious weight in the industry; he was a respected pro himself before becoming a filmmaker. His films, the archetype of which is undoubtedly Mind Field, create a completely believable fictional setting in which being a professional skater is a legitimately serious and relatable career choice. Hunt’s videos feel equally as agreeable to company execs and marketing departments as they are to regulars on the SLAP message boards and the pro skateboarding fraternity itself. In other words, they’re great advertisements for shoes, which is what high-budget skate videos ultimately are. On with my review:

Gilbert Crockett’s pants have either settled down a bit, or the rest of the world has caught up with his WWII-era style. I want his dusty orange sweater; I desire his shoes. My first impression was Crockett’s skating felt overwhelmed by the banging Pavement soundtrack and Hunt’s high production values. But upon repeat viewings, the complexity of what Crockett’s doing reveals itself. Perhaps his oversized manual work hits harder through a less rarified lens – see his classic Cellout part from 2012 or even Quasi’s Mother—but it still totally works in Hunt’s world.

Crockett is joined for a few guest tricks by Quasi teammate and dangly earring enthusiast Justin Henry. Henry’s stuff is solid and clean; he should be pro. He always tucks his t-shirt into his pants. Speaking of pants, the star of the show is Elijah Berle. Other people have run the greaser look; my mind harks back to another impressionable young classicist, Ethan Fowler, when he starred alongside Hunt in Stereo’s obscure yet enduring 1996 offering Tincan Folklore.

However, the late, great Dylan Rieder made the look his trademark, particularly in William Strobeck’s 2014 game-changer for Supreme, Cherry.
Berle looks good as a greaser, though a little self-conscious. In an interview with Hunt, he touches on the depression he went through during the course of making Alright, OK, a slump he has only recently emerged from with a newfound maturity and confidence. That this goes hand in hand with emulating Rieder seems sort of nice, really. It’s emblematic of skateboarding culture that we have such a problem dealing with people dressing up fancy. We (middle-aged males who have been skating for more than 10 years) are deeply suspicious of any form of contrivance and feel the need to call anyone out who steps away from our version of normal.

Berle’s aesthetic is a gift to Hunt, who sprinkles the entire video with close-ups of his face and tattooed biceps doing various things that could literally be lifted from The Outsiders. Back to the actual tricks—the ‘what the fuck?’ moments are numerous. Berle plays the hits: impossibles, noseblunts, long 50-50s and combinations of the above; but also pulls out a few surprises. I particularly enjoyed his picnic table impossible noseblunt, a 50-50 that climbs up a fence and dodges a road sign; and his transition-inspired kickturns into hairy downhill rails.  As Berle pushes off down the street after an incredible ender that even Dylan couldn’t have pulled off, you wonder where he could possibly be going. It’s a gloriously self-aware conclusion to Alright, OK. If only he had turned to blow a kiss to Hunt before riding off into the sunset, it would’ve been perfect.

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