boarding in Alaska

Posts tagged “Alex Mertz

Nice!Gordon

Nice!Gordon is the final movie I made for Boarderline. The movie premiered, with Jesse Burtner’s movie, on September 25th, 2004. Over the past season I have been re-releasing all the old Boarderline movies leading up to this one. Because Nice!Gordon was my final movie and this is it’s 10 year anniversary, I wanted to revisit the movie in some depth. Leading up to this I have been posting all the dvd bonus sections. I haven’t watched most of those clips in years. As a matter of fact, I probably haven’t watched Nice!Gordon in many years. As I’ve gone over it again I realized something: I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!

As you stop shaking your head and remove your face from you palm, I can tell you I don’t mean it how you think. What I realized, when I watch the movie, is how amazing it was being a part of what was happening during that period of time. I realized how amazing all the people were. I realized these things in a way that just isn’t possible when you’re living out those moments.

My hair was a tragic mess, the acting was bad, the plot is a rip off, along with a million other things that can be knit-picked about the movie. But I don’t care. What I care about is that when I watch it I smile. And I care that others smile when they watch it, remembering that part of their lives.

I usually write a book about each video but I’m going to save that for the next post. I will go over all my thoughts on the riders and the things that happened, hopefully attached to the director’s commentary version of the movie.

For now I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the kids that supported these movies. Thank you to people that broke themselves, day in and day out, to get shots for the movie. Thank you to all the talented skaters, snowboarders, and people that filmed and worked on the movie for sharing your individual gifts with me. Thank you for letting me be there as you showed hints of the people you would grow up to be. Thank you for letting me witness your talents as they blossomed. Thank you for carrying me when my talents couldn’t be found. Thank you for being calm and patient when I was a frantic mess. So many of you let me into your lives, some for only a day while some revealed the full spectrum of their passion and pain. Thanks to all of you for helping me turn my visions into reality. And finally, thank you all for making the Boarderline years of the Alaska snow/skate scene something that I will forever look upon fondly and with great honor to have been a part of. You all changed my life, you all made my life better, and I hope that one day I will be able to return the favor.

Advertisements

Magazine Mondays: Alpenglow

Image

This is not the traditional magazine shot but the rules are somewhat loose here. As long as it’s been in print then it works. This was the promotional poster printed up for Alpenglow when they sponsored my movie “Nice! Gordon.” The main shot and the first of the three stacked photos are of myself. The karate kid is Andre Spinelli and the stylish backside 180 is Walter Bombeck. All the shots were taken by Alex “Lord have mertzy” Mertz. And only I can take credit for the ridiculous fake Burberry jacket.

I chose this one because I always have such a fond place in my heart for Alpenglow. The oh so popular diving board platform that I’m launching off seems like a great feature to mess around on but it serves as a reminder of the greatness that once occupied that space. The platform is the base of the top tower of the lift that was once on that side of the ski area. “The military side” as it was simply known was as simple as Paris Hilton’s mind yet held an endless potential for fun. The one lift was run by the military until it was shut down and the lift and lodge removed in 2003.

As I grew up in Eagle River, Alpenglow was the spot to be and the military side was the spot to get busy. The military side boasted a round lodge with a fireplace in the middle, a cook named TC that was the saltiest sweet old lady you ever met, and a manager named Jeff who’s hair-do had one of the meanest spiked parts and a solid mullet foundation. What they also had was a willingness to open the mountain to us and let a shredder shred. They gave us the freedom we sought and reeled us back in if we got out of line. And through that give and take a great deal of respect formed. It’s amazing how angsty teens will act if you don’t treat them like a fire that you’re sure will rage out of control the second you take your eye off of it.

I’m starting to turn this into a throwback thursday so I’ll try to pull it back. The photos were taken in the spring of 2004 when I was shooting “Nice! Gordon” and it was awesome to work with Alpenglow. The year before, when working with Jesse Burtner on “Steezin for no Reason”, Alpenglow also came through with help in the form of features to ride and film on. I was just really happy to be able to give the mountain some dues for all it had given me in my snowboard infancy.

I have always been incredibly proud to have come from Alpenglow and I was just as proud to feature the mountain in my movie. The coat I’m wearing…. well, I probably won’t be as proud of that down the road.

Thursday I’ll give you another shot from Alpenglow and tell some of the adventures that I’ve been through on that hill.


Magazine Mondays: Gus “The Bus” Engle

Image

 

The photo was taken by Alex Mertz, 2005 at Hilltop Ski Area. 

 

This week we feature an odd creature. Gussias Shredorsus. If you don’t recognize him from his genus/species name then perhaps you will know him better as Gus Engle. If you’ve ever taken a biology class then you have probably had a bit of an introduction to evolution through the process of natural selection. If not then please allow me to butcher the concept in order to make a weak metaphor describing Gus. 

The idea of evolution through natural selection is (and please understand I’m trying to make this as simple as possible rather than a detailed research project) that genes produce characteristics and those can be different among a species. The characteristics that work the best allow those that posses them to survive and most likely mate with others possessing those characteristics causing those characteristics to pass on through the population. Conversely those that don’t posses the characteristics that best allow for survival tend to take an early dirt nap. As this goes on then eventually all of the species end up with that trait. Google “Darwin’s Finches” for further explanation.

Snowboarding has always been an evolving animal. The skills have evolved, the trends in tricks change, the popular disciplines shift, and the fashions are about as safe as a kid in the shower with Jerry Sandusky. Gus also has evolved through the years from little grom, to baggy pants kid, to rail guy, to creative soap-dodging inspiration. Gus has figured out the parts of snowboarding that work for him and put a smile on his face and let those characteristics of his riding carry on while the other parts die off.

While most up and coming shredders try to figure out how to do a press like Joe Sexton or narrow their stance like Jed Anderson they seem to forget that snowboarding isn’t about being like others. I don’t think snowboarding is about not being like others either; it’s really just about being yourself. We will all find inspiration from others but a key part of snowboarding, or any other art form, is to use that inspiration to uncover our own vision. We should strive to uncover our own truth and by truth I mean seeing what is inside ourselves and releasing it. Release it not in hopes that everyone sees it and recognizes a rider for it but rather because releasing it is what frees us. Snowboarding is about freedom and making up your own rules, not caring what others think, and doing what makes you happy. If you can’t find any of those things in your riding then you are snowboarding for the wrong reasons and you should just get it over with and go buy some skis. 

Gus has found his truth and his freedom in snowboarding the way he wants to. I haven’t always liked the tricks he does or the clothes he wears but I love that he has the desire to do those tricks and wear those clothes (and for the record, as well as Gus’s sensitive feelings, I do like most of the tricks he does). Snowboarding would be boring if everyone all did the same tricks and all looked the same. Snowboarding needs riders that aren’t afraid to follow their heart and snowboard on their own terms. Snowboarding needs Gus. 

Now that i’ve written a novel about him, here is the short and sweet of what Gus had to say about the picture. 

“Here you go Borgy:

This picture was taken by Alex Mertz back in 2005. I originally had planned to firecracker that 120 stair you can see in the photo. but due to my fear of death I decided to move the whole operation over to the to the oh-so-alluring stagnant swamp puddle and go surfing instead.”