Brendon Babenzien is a streetwear heavyweight: as ex-creative director of Supreme and founder of environmentally conscious menswear brand NOAH, he has worked hard to deconstruct the meaning of “cool” and is a figurehead for intelligent – not conspicuous – consumption. Stocked at Dover Street Market and with a flagship store on 195 Mulberry St. in Soho, New York City, Babenzien’s free-thinking vision unites the DIY mentality of skate, surf and music cultures with an appreciation for well designed menswear.
In true OG fashion, Babenzien has picked his five favourite skate videos for The Face. “I’m quite a bit older, so unfortunately for anyone who is young, my choices might not be at the top of their list,” he says. It doesn’t matter – these videos are the real deal. From old school pioneers Powell Peralta to Tony Trujillo’s slick bowl skating, each clip captures “the spirit of skateboarding as well as any current video can”.
Babenzien’s choices are about more than just pulling off difficult tricks. They have style, representing the energy, creativity, fun and aggression that, to him, define skating. See below for an unmissable slice of American skate culture.
THE BONES BRIGADE video show presented by Powell Peralta (1984)
This is one of the first videos I saw and is still my favourite. I was 13 when this came out and at that time, skateboarding was not something you saw in everyday life – it was strictly in magazines and only monthly. No Internet to load up a million things to watch. We had to look at VHS tapes and there weren’t many around, so this video became the way to see skateboarding in live action, not just photos. I probably still know it word for word because I’ve seen it so many times, and the skating still holds up. I recommend anyone with even a vague interest in skating to see this one immediately.
Another 1984 release. This was a Visions video. Besides the fact that it had some great skating, this is where I was introduced to the band Agent Orange. Historically, I’m not a huge fan of SoCal punk bands, but I love Agent Orange. I still listen to them today, and their music from Skate Visions is burned into my brain. We all assumed they were some surf or skate guys that lived near the beach, but I found out much later that they came from inland. The highlights of this video are Jeff Phillips and Mark “Gator” Rogowski. Some morbid trivia on this one – Gator eventually went dark, murdered his girlfriend and buried her in the desert in a board bag.
NATAS KAUPAS STREETS ON FIRE (1989) and WHEELS OF FIRE (1988)
Along with Mark Gonzales, I hold Natas responsible for modern skating. He skated the streets in ways very few people could at that time. It showed true creativity. This might be hard to understand today because so much time has passed and skating has progressed so much, but without some of the choices Natas was making, much of what we do today in the streets might not have occured. It’s worth mentioning that Rodney Mullen invented a million different tricks and variations, but for me Natas’ natural flow through the streets is what makes him so great. There is a movement from place to place, using whatever comes along in ways that up to that point hadn’t been considered.
H-STREET HOKUS POKUS (1989)
This felt like the first time I really saw really inventive stuff with boards. These guys were doing loads of combinations in ways I hadn’t seen before: flip tricks at higher speeds and down bigger sets of stairs or ledges. This team also started to really change the way vert skating had been done. It was a really creative time in skating and the team was stacked – Danny Way, Matt Hensley, Ken Lieu, Mike Carroll, Ron Allen, and Sal Barbier to name a few.
TONY TRUJILLO – IN BLOOM (2002)
I had to look up the year for this one. It was 2002, and I remember I wasn’t really skating. I was 31. I got caught up in work and skating went away for a while. This is the video part that made me want to skate again. [Trujillo] has speed and power and he can be technical. I lost my mind when I saw [this video] and I’m still thankful for it because even though I don’t skate much, without this video, I may have slipped into not skating at all. The power of a good video part cannot be denied.