Words and Photography by Arlie Carstens
Wow, I had such a bummer night at this thing, (though I must say through no fault of Nike or Beautiful Losers). Since the photos accompanying this post were supposed to be for Web, I decided the shoot the film premiere with a slippery lil' pocket-sized Casio camera instead of the more easily held Canon G9. Blah blah blah…. about five minutes inside the Montalban Theater (yes, as in Ricardo, star of Fantasy Island) I DROPPED THE CASIO. “CLANK!!! CLANG!!! CLONK!!!” Gaffled the LCD, such a drag.
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Without the aid of a screen display or viewfinder I clicked off a pile of crappy warm-up shots (sorry), grabbed complementary popcorn, peanut M & M's and bottled water then made my way to the theater's plush but far too cramped seating. Beautiful Losers unfolds via interviews with the American artists Cheryl Dunn, Ed Templeton, Mike Mills, Geoff McFetridge, Chris Johanson, Harmony Korine, Shepard Fairey, Thomas Campbell, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee and others (a/k/a the 'beautiful losers'). Through the use of these interviews and supporting archival footage, the documentary paints a compelling, sentimental portrait of Aaron Rose's Alleged Gallery in New York City during the 90s. Which is to say this is more or less the story of a skateboarding and punk-inspired arts movement created by a loose group of largely self-taught artists, itinerant jokers and community-minded iconoclasts and rebels… all people who could just as easily be you, your friends and neighbors. It is a cozy, inspirational film intended to lead by example, imploring young and old alike to never let creativity and community die, but to instead "make what you want, and share it."
After the brief Q & A with Aaron, Cheryl Dunn, Mike Mills and Ed Templeton, however, I got the hell out of there. All in all, it was a perfectly pleasant after party full of perfectly pleasant, Swoosh-approved, bourgeois marketing managers, jovial corporate lawyers, OC-style “action-sporty” dudes in porkpie hats, well-heeled mid-level PR flacks, stripper-hot secretaries and a gaggle of casually attired, self-satisfied Nike hosts. Apart from Ed Templeton there were hardly any pro Skids of note. Weird, but that's Los Angeles for you.
Bottom line: If you wanna stay stoked on the artistry in skateboarding (and I don't just mean the pushing down the pavement part of it, I mean everything about it as a community and opportunity for expression), see this film. And ride that thing till the wheels fall off.