The Full-Length Isn't Dead, It's Free

On April 5, 2021, Quasi Skateboards released Grand Prairie directly to YouTube. It’s essentially two videos: a proper full-length followed by raw footage, outtakes, and candid moments of the squadron doing things. This is smart. Rather than a deluge of fragmented parts peppered out over a month, Quasi gifted us the whole jawn, so thank you for that.

In 2015 Chad Bowers launched Mother Collective in Ohio with Jake Johnson, Tyler Bledsoe, and Gilbert Crockett as the marquee names. Johnson, Bledsoe, and Bowers took their Alien Workshop DNA and fused it with the scrolling digital world we no inhabit to create a new space—a tone that had some nods to the Workshop but was a bit more amorphous. They purposely don’t have a set logo and their anti-branding is much more aligned with where skateboarding was then and is now.

Due to copyright issues, they quickly had to pivot and change their name to Quasi and released a full-length titled Mother in 2018, introducing a quiver of new blood to many in the process. In a sense, Quasi was the second answer to a post-Alien Workshop world. Yes, Alien 2.0 is active and thriving but after Mind Field (2019) it was obvious things at The Sect were fraught “upriver” infighting and the crossroads of becoming a legacy brand—Alien was originally founded in 1990. Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill left The Workshop to establish Fucking Awesome as a board brand in 2013 bringing some Alien riders/flow peeps along, a now all-star cast of young buls, as well as Dylan Rieder.

What’s interesting is that both brands were able to leverage the cult of Alien Workshop and create two distinctive brands, even if there are occasional board graphic similarities. Shit happens. You think of Photosynthesis (2002) and its impact on skateboarding but often forget that it was Alien’s third full-length. Most people skating today don’t think about Thomas Morgan or Scott Conklin or Steve Claar or even Neil Blender when the Workshop comes up. It’s similar to how Iron Maiden enthusiasts might appreciate Paul Di’Anno’s contributions to Iron Maiden but Bruce-era is the brand.

Both FA and Quasi keep things deceptively aloof in that you see things when they happen. Video projects are rumored but not hyped and teased ad nauseam. When they release video, it’s a moment, directly on their channels.

Grand Prairie is a moment in skateboarding. Like the past year, it’s neither tidy or definitive but rather, fragments of memory captured from a pre-pandemic world and a COVID-19 lockdown era, where the streets could be barren or lined with Black Lives Matter protesters. There are used masks on the ground, celebrations range from joyous to cautiously contact wary, Josh Wilson’s appearance goes from Ivy League to tail-end Jim Morrison minus the bloat. Even Gilbert Crockett sports some moss in some clips.

And there’s great skateboarding. The kind of skateboarding that’s framed in such a way that each part feels unique to the person in front of the lens without the project feeling fragmented.

Mother started out with Justin Henry skating to Psychic TV’s homage to Brian Jones, “Godstar.” This was somewhat of a debut of his skill and style to the larger skateboarding universe. Grand Prairie’s first part is Dane Barker—also a bit of a “here he is” moment—soundtracked to “Time Machines” by Lexo and the Leapers and “Lie Down Forever” by Godstar. See what they did there. It’s also worth noting that fellow Ohioan, Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices, too many to name, and the mouthpiece of Lexo and the Leapers) has become Quasi’s J Mascis in the best way. They’ve collaborated on apparel and skateboards, used his music in edits, and have taken some influence, presumably, from his collage aesthetic. As much as Quasi’s video style has bits and bobs from Alien Workshop’s output, it’s more nuanced and more Americana. I mean fuck, this thing is called Grand Prairie not Phila Memorandum or some shit.

In fact, Grand Prairie visually shares more stylistic similarities to Banks Tarver’s 1996 documentary on Guided By Voices titled Watch Me Jumpstart than Photosynthesis, kinda.

My suggestion?

Put your phone far away from you and watch the video on the largest screen available to you, preferably at night with your beverage of choice. Take in each clip and frame and appreciate that projects like this are a gift—things that people work for years on and then shoot to your devices for free. Yes, everyone wants more Jake Johnson but sometime’s a movie’s most memorable moment is a cameo.

Enjoy the off-board moments, Dick Rizzo’s natural transition and bank heavy footage, people grinding graffiti-covered monuments of offensive dead humans, BDK’s ledge dominance, Gilbert’s tricks, and Gilbert’s pants, Justin Henry’s pro-debut curtains, Dane’s masterclass on outright ripping and hardcore T-Shirt curation, Josh Wilson’s cannonball drive, and the rest of the Quasiness as it floats, jabs, and plods across the screen.

Skate videos don’t have to feel good to be feel-good moments and they aren’t made to check off the boxes of our internal expectations. They document a time and in 5 years, you’ll likely go back and look at Grand Prairie as an encapsulation of a time rife with anxiety and confusion but also, a lot of hope and selfishly, when you could skate a lot of shit that was normally off-limits and highly illegal. Or just watch it and hope your ankle holds up enough to squeak out a noseslide… tomorrow. I’m definitely skating tomorrow.