Shredding with Galen DeKemper
For this week's Mahal, I got to catch up with Galen DeKemper about his latest skate video, MMM. Galen has been shredding New York City for the last decade. When he is off his board, he can be found reviewing stuff for Quartersnacks or lurking at the TF. Below is his video, some related photos, and our chat about the future of New York City skateboarding.
VICE: What's the story behind MMM?
Galen Dekemper: I started filming MMM around the hurricane, after I finished filming my previous video, Free Buzz. Matthew Mooney gave me a HD Flip Cam, so I used that to film whatever caught my eye.
Last time I saw you out, you filmed Mooney getting clotheslined by a bunch of red velvet ropes surrounding a skate gap. Does that kind of stuff happen often for your camera?
That's the prime candidate for Quartersnacks' Slam of the Year. Things involving Mooney happen often with my camera, though clips of Mooney out of TF are more rare. Mooney's step-off wallie and that slam are Gonz's two favorite parts. I'm happy the poles weren't bolted in. It's mostly low impact skating. It's a release from constant deliberate challenges.
There does seem to be a new generation of high impact skate kids in New York City, jumping down everything in sight. Why do you think it has come to that point?
It's within their reach. One of best parts about skating is doing a specialized, unique skill that a non-skater could never approach. For a skater to do tricks that even other skaters could never approach is impressive and heady and a chance to leave a unique mark.
Is New York City becoming more similar to California due to the new skate parks?
Dunno. I try to avoid skate parks in my life and thus in my clips. They do provide a helpful learning curve perhaps, but are no substitute for the streets which is the best part of skating and New York. Also, I used Young Scooter in the soundtrack because he shares a similar interest in speaking to the streets. 12th Street and Avenue A was a sick New York skate park that wasn't quite a skate park, RIP. And TF is so sick because it's an anti-skate park in its way.
What are your favorite street spots to film at?
Houston Bump is a favorite. With Shawn Powers, it's tight because he picks up clips on every block. We don't have to choose a spot, just choose a direction to head from Tompkins. Fresh new spots are always best. I like Gay Ledge. I like to film at spots I like to skate, but sometimes I'd rather skate too. Filming at popular spots gives a fun chance to look for new angles. I like being on top of ledges filming down. I like filming flat at places too, because it's the best way to see what angles capture the body best for certain tricks. My camera doesn't have light, but Midtown at night is a representative New York session to me.
What is your prediction for the future of New York City skateboarding?
I predict DJ Roctakon 360-flipping for at least another decade, Mooney releasing a full part before the end of the year, Shawn traveling to England and reciting poetry for the Queen, QuarterSnacks making Snackman cufflinks, and more tricks down Central Park Hubba. Also, my next clip, Yeah Man, drops around end of summer.
For more Galen, check out Dollar Stories.
Photos by Galen DeKemper and Eby Ghafarian.
Video by Galen DeKemper.
Words by Taji Ameen.
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