6.07.2013

guest post: jake rosenberg



It must be pretty apparent from the looks of this thing but in case you didn't know, I have a huge soft spot for the first two Plan B videos... Questionable, in particular. I'm not sure if it was just where I was at in my life back then (a 15-year-old carefree skaterat), where skateboarding was in particular at that moment (the golden age of Rocco and Embarcadero... despite small wheels, gross pants and even grosser styles), or just a transitional moment in pop culture in general (Low End Theory, Clinton, Nirvana, etc.) but that first Plan B video will never fail to instantly transform me into a gooey sentimental mess. Throw Virtual Reality into the mix and it's a wrap. Forget about it. A perfect combination of amazing skating, unique song selection, infinite quotables and some of the best lurkers in the entire canon of skateboard filmmaking.
This idea stems from just a few weeks ago when my friend and Chrome Ball contributor Mark Whiteley, out of nowhere, delivered a spot-on rendition of Edgar Needham's version of "Here Comes the Sun." I fired back with my best Big Baby impression and so it went. An hour later, I found myself emailing Jacob Rosenberg, who along with the late Mike Ternasky are the ones mostly responsible for these two classics, to see if he would be willing to talk a little bit about these two landmarks in modern skate cinema. Not only did he oblige, he was even kind enough to go dig out the actual raw footage itself, some of which made the final cut while some of it didn't, for us all to enjoy in its most pure unadulterated form. 

So without further ado, the Chrome Ball Incident is proud to bring you the Unofficial Questionable Reality Companion.

***Questionable*** 

The gold standard of focus clips: Rick pushing you out of the way to showcase an advanced technique never before seen with the nose and tail. Did he do that a lot back then? And were you surprised to see that technique explode like it did? Suddenly everyone was trying to focus boards like that
This was around September of 1991 and was the first time I ever officially shot for Plan B. I went to Temecula High with Danny and Rick. I was trying to crack the board and obviously failed so Rick handled it. Along with Jovontae, Rick Howard had a great focus stomp. 

I never thought that focusing boards would "take off" like it did but it just became obvious that everyone was doing it. It was pretty brilliant from a board sales perspective: get pissed, focus your board and then you have to buy a new one. 

I always preferred the technique of dipping your board: throwing it down so it bounces back up into your hands. Mikey was a pro at that.

"Just don't understand the vibe about skating rocks." -Sean Sheffey
I'm pretty sure I filmed that one. We were filming at this parking lot in Ocean Beach and Sean was just sitting there on these clusters of rocks. There was always a certain point, and I'm sure the guys got so sick of this, where I would just pick up the camera and put it in a rider's face just to see if they'd say something. Sometimes it was gold, other times... not so much. This was just a funny line so we put it in. 

"What do you say we go eat after this" -Danny Way, mid-boardslide. Following Rocco's soundbyte, this the very first opening clip. Was that a response to Jason Lee's Video Days comment regarding a potential dinner at Benihana's? Why else would he even say that?

I actually called DWay about this one and this is what he said:

"No correlation with Video Days. Genuinely, I was just super hungry. Each time I was trying the rail, I was laughing to myself about how long I was on the rail. Because I was hungry, I just thought that it would be funny if I said something while I was sliding down it. The only thing on my mind was food."


"Mike Carroll has no acne." -Intro Guy (I honestly never even knew thats what he was saying)

There were always lurkers at EMB and pretty much everytime there was a good target, we'd film them and try to get them to say things. I think that all goes back to Mike T interviewing the H-Street Twins. 

It was Mikey that went up to this transient dude and got him to say, "Jake Rosenberg is hella fat."

Once he said that, I asked him to say, "Mike Carroll has no acne."

You can't understand a word the guy says but it's good. After that, we went to the top of the hotel and filmed the C-Block...


"Let me give you the theory of Pat, dude."  

I have seen the raw footage of that session and it is absolutely one of the craziest things I have ever seen. It is literally 5 or 6 minutes of physical tape time and Pat does about 4 tricks on that rail in that time: frontside and backside 50/50s, a lipslide and a backside smith grind.
 Pat's friend is skating with him and a certain point, he just bails and starts talking to the camera. Just saying that Terminator stuff off the top of his head.  


Colin's Lip Balm lady and the North American Champ.
Funny story: we were filming at this spot in downtown Vancouver and this woman busts us, she had already busted us a few times. She told me to turn off my camera so I put it down but kept filming like we always did. 
She eventually figured out that I was filming and put the lip balm on my lens, which sucked because it ruined some of the coloring on the glass of the lens. 
The best of part of the story is that she's talking to Colin about this North American skateboard champion from Vancouver which is actually Colin!
"That was the wisest black cop I've ever seen."

The line is, "That was the whitest black cop I have ever seen."

Also from DWay:

The same cop had been stopping us all day in and around Vista. This was the last time he stopped us.  
You brought up the H-Street Twins earlier and they once again appeared in Questionable. Were they cool with being on camera? Do you think they knew they had become somewhat famous in skateboarding?

We always ran into them as they strolled through EMB and I think they knew that they were recognized by skaters, but I have no clue if they knew about the videos. But I remember filming them for Questionable and being so proud of myself that I called MT to tell him I got the H-Street Twins to say something cool. They were always so cool with being on camera.

***Virtual Reality***


Edgar Needham's "Here Comes the Sun"

First off, I have no clue where the name Edgar Needham came from or why we used that name. But we were filming on Santa Monica Blvd by the 405 and had gotten kicked out by a security guard. There was a bum there who was asking us for money and seeing his guitar, Rick asked him to play for us for some money, which he did.

I don't ever remember being sketched out filming any of these crazy people because we were actively engaging them and paying attention to them. If they were homeless, we were definitely giving them some money when we were done.

But yeah, Rick was into the Beatles so it was perfect that he performed his own rendition of the song. I was just trying to film it so that he and Rick were both in the same frame.

By the way, I found a clip of Sheffey skating with Edgar's cousin Oscar playing in the background.
  "You're only as old as you feel... not really."

This was just from walking around Vancouver with Colin, who like Rick, would pretty much engage anyone on camera. I just held the camera and recorded the conversation which was pretty fascinating... and I say fascinating because at the time, we were punk kids being tongue-in-cheek with an old man. Now we are all older and maybe it stings a bit more to watch because you do feel older as you get older. 


Sheffey ollieing Julien in the car. 

I don't remember whose idea it was but I do remember Sean ollieing it without Julien in it. I was shooting Sean's Big Brother interview and we thought that it would make a rad sequence, so he did it. I feel like it was first try. I mean you ollie it with the kid in it... once the kid is in it, you aren't going to practice or go halfway.

I came across that raw footage recently and now that I have one of those cars for my kids, I am reminded how gnarly of an ollie that was. 



"Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!"

I have such vivid memories of this guy. Such a crazy dude. He literally was just hanging out near us. A few times he got a little too close to Rodney but most of the time, he just stood and danced. I couldn't not film him. He was out of his mind but he did a few cool things where he swung his arms to kinda show Rodney the way...


"Got that goddamn board stuck on your feet!"

When Rick was warming up for the frontside noseslide, he was just ollieing the gap while this dude was watching. He was just a spectator, he wasn't asking for change or anything. But when he saw rick ollie it right in front of him, he freaked out! I don't think he'd ever seen anyone do something like that one a skateboard before. If you haven't watched skating before, it's pretty magical to see an ollie for the first time.

Rick would always have fun with guys like that and get great conversations going and reactions. It's just fun to see how genuinely blown away he was by seeing that. 
What was the story behind that porno shoot at the beginning of Pat's part?

Those are 2 different shots. 1 shot is Pat holding the camera, fucking around and filming himself while looking around and going "hmmm...." The other shot of that photo shoot was from another day when we were filming at that spot with Pat. I looked over and saw this guy taking pictures of this hot chick. I unscrewed my fish-eye and hid to poach those shots. I must have had 10 minutes of spy footage of them taking photos. She was hot... and I was young. 

"Best ride I seen."

Those dudes were just strolling through Balboa Park and Pat had just landed a great line. We were walking back and the guys just started talking. Same as always: film the lurkers and get them to interact with the skaters. Those guys were hilarious. The Big Baby was obviously a huge WWF fan so he gets animated and takes off his glasses with his 1000-yard stare.

It's classic because you try to keep the conversation going with those guys to see if you can get one more weird thing... and then his buddy says, "I especially liked the flip of the board.
Sum up Questionable and Virtual Reality for us. What it was like to make each one and what they mean to you 20 years later. Which one is your personal favorite and why?

Sheesh... I don't know what to say, its hard to censor all the thoughts I have. I am super grateful to have been a part of that time and era. I made a lot of friends and was part of something very special and unique. I'm always reminded of that whenever I meer skaters who mention those videos to me and how meaningful they are to them. The bottom like is that those videos were all Mike T, through and through. We were just part of achieving that vision which was to make the best skate video possible.

I can say that I didn't feel like we were trying to be competitive with anyone else in making those videos. We didn't talk about being better than other videos or doing things differently, etc. We were competitive with ourselves. Mike set the bar very high for everyone, from cameraman to skaters and because of his energy and friendship, you wanted to do great work. The H-Street videos laid out a tone which was refined into what Questionable represented from a skate video structure and feel. It was heavy skating but a lot of personality, too. Something like a journey with music and credits.

I walked into Questionable about halfway through so that was baptism by fire for me. I was mostly buried in trying to do a good job. I don't think that I was present enough to appreciate what I was doing until I filmed Rodney do that first casper slide in Mira Mesa (clip). I remember filming that and thinking to myself... wow, I just captured something that has never been done before that will change the way people look at skating. We filmed that right before the premiere, it was the last trick for that video.



With Virtual Reality, that was pretty much Mike and I for that entire year and that is some of the most rewarding and hard-earned work that I have done. Now that Questionable was released, Mike's bar wasn't the only bar out there. Now people expected the video to be great and despite internal blowback, I think we delivered another great video. Virtual Reality was an amazing time becase the skating was changing, catching flip tricks and landing tricks cleaner. The tricks that Danny and Colin were doing on vert were all a part of that shift where modern street skating pretty much clicked into the gear that it is in today.

For me personally, Virtual Reality will be my favorite because I feel a stronger connection to it. With Questionable, while Mike let me edit a few little tidbits like the credits and a few small segments, I was at a distance and in awe. With Virtual, we literally swapped out freely between cutting parts and sharing in the vision of its creation.

My favorite memory, aside from my fight with Mike Carroll in the editing room, was designing the triple screen opening on paper. We were cutting when I had the idea that we should try to synchronize the three screens to have tricks from the same spot or same type of spot at the same time. In order to do this, I had to log all of the tricks on paper with a running timer and then compare the timing and adjust the edit points to make them all align.

The premiere was just amazing. We played the video twice, it was packed and it delivered. I haven't experienced anything like that until I went to the Lakai and Pretty Sweet Premieres. Skate video premieres are far and away the best public viewing experiences out there. Everyone is so stoked and excited to see what they haven't seen. Everyone gets stoked at different parts and the roof blows out when the hammers drop. Nothing like it.

***Bonus***


One thing you just told me about was a "I am Jason Lee's father" clip that supposedly exists? Whats the story there? Did that just not work out? And did Mike ever talk to Jason about that Video Days stuff?

I remember everyone on Plan B being protective of Mike after those guys vibed him in the Blind Video. Mike actually confronted Spike about it in Catalina, just saying that it wasn't cool and asking why he did it. Spike stood his ground and said that they thought Mike paying kids to do tricks was lame, etc. It was cool that Mike called him out but it was also cool that Spike didn't cower. It was awkward but I respected that Mike addressed it.

As for the clip of the homeless guy saying that he was Jason Lee's father, we were on our way to Vancouver and I took Danny and Rick to skate at Stanford. We were walking down University Avenue and stumbled across this guy who asked us for change. We gave him money for cigarettes and he said, "I am Jason Lee's Brother."

He said it but didn't say it well, so we kept asking him to say it again. He was a smart guy and kinda knew what we were up to. The way he said it never sounded good or even worth using. To be honest, I think we forgot about it because at that point, the video wasn't about calling out or making fun of anyone not on the team.

I don't think that Jason ever talked to Jason. For good measure, here's some raw Blind footage I shot with those guys. Jason kicks it off.

Speaking of Blind, I've always heard this but figure you're the man who could verify... any truth to the story of Gonz being in the original cut of Questionable's "Contests and Demos" section but not in the later full release? Did he want taken out? How did that go down?

Yes, Gonz was in the original contests and demos clip. And yes, he told Mike T to take him out, which we did. Mike was pretty bummed because he loved Mark as a skater.

Incredible, man. Can't thank you enough for doing this, Jacob. Anything else you'd like to add? Any unknown treasures in the archive you'd like to unleash onto the world?

Here's a few other clips. The one of Rick in K-Mart is pure gold. It really shows that vibe of walking around, talking to people and goofing off.


Here's one from a trip to Canada with Danny and Colin with a busker.


Finally, here is a classic exchange with Danny and this woman in Rancho Bernado.

Special Thanks to Jake Rosenberg, Danny Way, Mark Whiteley, Bandito Brothers and the fine folks at Plan B. 

Check out Jacob's YouTube channel for more vintage shit: http://www.youtube.com/jacob43  
Instragram: @jacobrosenberg
Twitter: @banditojacob

And be sure to check out Waiting For Lightning on DVD, Blu-Ray and on Netflix. 

(Extra points if you can pick out my name in the credits.) 

The Chrome Ball Incident will return Thursday.  

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

man you're a god. no one know how to bring such nostalgia in my hearth.
thank you

Keith said...

Nice job Eric and Jake! Lots of nice nuggets.

Chrome Ball Super Fan said...

Holy shit.

Two thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

A++

Shimajiro said...

The Plan B video films are fine examples of inspirational acts performed on skateboard. Mr. Jake is honorable filmer and commentator. Mr. Chops is ninja warrior of bloggings. Please continue tradition of excellence both!

Anonymous said...

"i especially liked the flip of the board"

the best bystander quote ever. i still quote it 20 years later.

dominic romani said...

man...I skated for two years with my neighbor, didn't know there were "pros" or even tricks, just cruised around and ollied. Then one day someone showed me Virtual Reality and my whole fucking world changed...this blog is prob my favorite thing on the internet.

I think Danny's nollie down Carlsbad blew me away more than anything.

Dan said...

Solid gold. Thank you.

Must be weird for these guys to have something said on video be quoted back to them by kids forevermore. I'm sure I've been one of those kids at demos.

"It's raining Mike. It's raining".

rnc said...

Great information, thanks.

My Mount Rushmore of vids is Chin, Blind Video, Questionable, and Mouse.

What was the reason Gonz wanted his footage out of Questionable?

dominic romani said...

MC

I'm far from someone "in the know" but I pay attention enough to know that some dudes were NOT psyched on Ternasky and Rocco, Gonz being one of them. Read some of his interviews where he talks about Rocco, he does not like that dude. And theres talk around these two videos that MT and Rocco were trying to suck the fun and creativity out of skateboarding.

Read the Gonz interview that Chops posted and you can see he really has some negative associations with World companies at that time in particular.

dominic romani said...

actually, watch the Pat Duffy Epicly Later'd, Rosenburg talks about that instance specifically

Dan said...

Another trip around memory plaza from jacob43's YouTube channel: EMB Textures from back in the day.

Been chatting to the homies about this post and a couple of favourite old quotes have come out. I swear we were saying this stuff every day for years.

"I make more money than you, skateboarding. I've got the key" (We did figure out it's actually "I guarantee").

"girls girls every day from london la la la la la usa"

Anonymous said...

At Dominic, this is one of those articles

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-JESyyW1x7_o/UXXyVydsA4I/AAAAAAAAZm0/psd4XkXbJCE/s1600/gonz5chrome.jpg

Skate Nazi said...

"I'd rather watch Rick Howard shopping for socks 20 years ago" is the new "I'd rather watch Gino grocery shopping"

SUCH a rad post.
Love the stories behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one wondering why this post could have been cancelled ?

Alister

Anonymous said...

I was in horrible car accident and if it wasn't for the Plan B videos it would have been hard to recover. I remember watching them over and over and over in my hospital bed. It was my motivation to get better and skate once again. Thanks Jake & MT

Lari said...

So good! Thanks!

Cezanne said...

I feel differently, Herr Nazi. If I watch a skateboard video, I'm interested in the skateboarding- not a guy buying socks.

In more recent times, it reminds me of Pretty Sweet. There's so much filler- "Here's So and So walking up the stairs", "Here's Ralphie smiling because he's happy", "Here's everybody hugging. Yay!" And so on.

But the Adidas Mark Suciu / Philly video- I thought, THAT is how you make a video part.

Anonymous said...

20 years later and it's all there! thank you for making sure that we won't forget the next 20 years!

I Sir, am pulling my hat for your kind efforts.

Sincerely,

titus hose band

signmaker sheffield said...

Thank you for sharing this awesome post with us!! It was worth reading it..