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Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Updated: June 14, 6:54 PM ET
Videograss Lets Loose In PDX


Keegan Valaika, left, and Mikey LeBlanc at Tuesday's Videograss premiere in Portland.
The heavily-anticipated Videograss project had its world premiere in Portland, Ore. Tuesday night and it was a spirited affair, indeed. Held at the well-loved Ace Hotel's kids' table, The Cleaners, this July premiere might have been hot and sweaty but it also came in hot and heavy, living up to the hype even if it was super early in the year for a snowboard movie.

Videograss presented itself all season as bit of of "anti-video," in that the crew wanted to do away with some of the cliches and sponsor-obligatory shots that have cheesed out otherwise-killer productions for years. (i.e. If you want posed energy drink shots and way too many fake high-fives, Videograss ain't for you.) Sure enough, the video is raw enough to have e coli, with everything from breakfast beers to blunts to bails in it that look like they really, really hurt. This is definitely not your limitless budget, heli cam-eron Diaz type snowboard film but more of a street-level, mustachioed look at what it takes to truly push things (with a couple of cold ones) in 2009. And, given their mission, it's safe to say the Videograss crew delivered exactly what was promised, on-time and on-budget.

From the opening montage through Ben Bilocq's killer part to the very end with guys like Louie Paradise, Videograss is fast-paced, taking it fairly easy on both stupid skits and filler of any kind. While some of the backcountry and pow-type shots can feel a little out of place amidst so many rails, ledges and legitimately imaginative urban lines, Videograss does not let up.

"Heartbreak Hadar" was in full effect at this premiere with her Sturgis t-shirt and some kind of Willie Nelson roach clip in her hair.

Desiree Melancon and Laura Hadar split a part about halfway through VG and it seems that both of these women have shorter locks than most of the male hair farmers populating this effort. Melancon has some of the burliest bails in the movie and some dead-solid city tricks to boot. "Heartbreak Hadar" was in full effect at this premiere with her Sturgis t-shirt and some kind of Willie Nelson roach clip in her hair. She was at least two shots of vodka up on the competition when we talked to her (well, okay, listened to her talk) and clearly still fired up on her recent signing to Capita. "I didn't hook up with any crews until, like, April" she said, citing a knee injury. "I was looking for someone to be like, 'Hey, come with' -- but that's not how it works [laughs]... But that video is so f--king cool; everyone had an ill part! And I'm so psyched on my part..." Hadar mentioned Aaron Biittner and LNP as standout sections for her, but understandably had a hard time containing her enthusiasm to any one part.

LNP, aka Larry Penguin, aka Laurent-Nicolas Paquin, has both the longest part and the longest hair in VG and truly feels like the heart of the effort with great variety, pacing, humor and riding throughout his meaty middle section. LNP might look like Stillwater's hash dealer sometimes but you'd be hard-pressed to find an urban shredder who makes playgrounds, electrical sheds and municipal infrastructure look like more fun. Guy's got joie de vivre on full lockdown and, while erstwhile haters have been biting his style for years, he's the genuine article, skinny legs and all.

The full Videograss roster is: Grand-master Mikey LeBlanc, Darrell Mathes, Ben Bilocq, Louie Paradise, Desiree Melancon, Aaron Biittner, Justin Bennee, Eric Messier, LNP, Laura Hadar, Nick Dirks, Jonas Michilot, Jake Olson-Elm, Keegan Valaika, Jordan Mendenhall, Nima Jalali and Alex Cantin.

War stories of the shoulder with Will Bateman, Darrell Mathes, and Jonas Michilot.

Recalled highlights for this sweaty stander were: Aaron Biittner's legit urban cliffs and non-nonsense approach to whatever is in front of him; Eric Messier's whole part; Mikey Leblanc's shovel crab; Valaika's opening shot; Bennee's all-around happy thug crushing and deft touch Bloodsport moves; Mathes's backcountry work and surgical precision on the street (esp. that high-speed back-one cone bonk); Mendenhall's guitar playing for his entire section; and all the guys, especially Bilocq and LNP, who were rocking urban stalefishes both into, on and out of rails, bringing new meaning to the term "rail grab."

If you're down with progressive, imaginative uses of such things as cube vans, concrete river docks, city sculptures, overpasses and underpasses, Videograss will have you rounding your edges and firing up GoogleEarth in short order. If you're more into watching guys drink smoothies while doing yoga and shouting into the camera about how much fun they're having instead of actually having some, you'd best look elsewhere. This Videograss is greener, sure, but it's a real specific strain and we'd recommend it especially to riders who who've worn out their copy of Rome's "Any Means."

NOTE: If anyone at the Ace found a grey Motorola full of cat photos and pro snowboarders' old phone numbers, please contact redcardgroup@yahoo.com to collect a reward. It might be a hoodie I don't want, some brand new bindings that are too big, a sixer of PBR or some stickers. I'll even give you Ca$h if you want to be mercenary about it. Seriously. I just want my phone back. Thanks!